(this transcript has been lightly edited for readability)
I love Proverbs! I've lived in Proverbs; when our kids were at home, we would go through Proverbs, and we would have them memorize one verse from each chapter. But I have to admit I don't think I understood the Proverbs for a long time. I didn't understand what this was about. I want to subtitle the Proverbs, “The Rescue.”
And the reason I'm doing that is sin reduces all of us to fools. A fool has the world inside out and upside down. A fool looks at true and sees false, and wise and sees foolish, and good and sees bad. He’s just got it wrong, and the Bible tells us that the epicenter of foolishness is, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’”
Now I don't think the Bible is talking at that point about philosophical atheism, but rather living as if I am a self-sufficient human being, and I know everything I need to know in order to live the way that I should live. That's craziness! That's insanity!
And so the Proverbs are designed, be prepared to be humbled, to rescue you from you because the greatest danger in your life is not outside of you; the greatest danger of your life is inside of you, it’s the foolishness of sin. And as long as sin remains inside of us, there will be artifacts of that foolishness.
It's humbling to understand that I need daily, moment by moment, to be rescued from me. And the Proverbs are all about that rescue, how God, in His grace, pours down His wisdom, wisdom we could never know on our own, wisdom we could never achieve or earn, only because He's a God of grace.
Now there are two things that I think are important about the gospel in Proverbs. First, we understand that the Proverbs are about Jesus. You say, “Well, how could that be?” Well, because the New Testament lets us know that wisdom is not an outline; wisdom is not a concept; wisdom is a person, and His name is Jesus. The wisdom on the pages of Proverbs is the wisdom of Jesus. This is Jesus, the sweet Savior coming to us, whispering in our ear things that are true. How beautiful is that?
But there's something else to realize about the Proverbs. This is where I think you unlock the Proverbs. The whole biblical story is embedded in every proverb because the Proverbs see the promises fulfilled in the future and embed those in the Proverbs.
Let me give you an example. There's a Proverb that says, “A soft answer turns away wrath.” Now it's not meant to be mechanically true; it's not true that every time you respond softly to someone, they're going to cease being angry in a miracle because that's not exactly what the Proverbs teach. But when you decide you're going to love in the face of hatred, you’re going to make peace in the face of war, that you’re going to be kind in mistreatment. You are now living in the way that the world is moving by the plan of God. The meek will inherit the earth! Ultimately, the people who live God's way will win! That's the Proverbs.
How about marching the way wisdom is marching? How about living the way Jesus, the wise one, says to live? When you do that, you’re moving the way God is moving the story, and you will experience the benefit of that in your life. Every proverb tells us the whole biblical story and embeds in us the promise that Jesus the King will win! What a beautiful thought that is. Run to the rescue of the Proverbs. We all need that because there is foolishness inside of us.