(this transcript has been lightly edited for readability)
Well, the Proverbs not only teaches us that we live in a moral world, but we live in a world under rule. Now, this theme is different than the themes we've looked at so far because it's not taught in a few passages or a particular chapter in Proverbs. Rather, this is the overarching context of this book of Scripture that God looms large in His world. There is a God who rules this world.
The Proverbs would remind us that maybe the most important words in all of Scripture are the first four in Genesis 1, “In the beginning, God.” If there is a God who is the creator and controller of this world in which we live, then everything is about Him. Romans 11:36 says, “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be (the) glory.” That's the view of Proverbs.
On the stage of our lives, He is the central character, He is the controlling actor. The Proverbs are deeply humbling because life is not all about me, it's not all about what I want, when I want it, where I want it, how I want it. It's not about me setting my own rules for my life. It's not about me doing whatever I want to make me happy. There's a God that looms large.
He sets the laws by which we live. He created and controls the natural world in which we live. He alone has the power to provide what we need physically, emotionally, spiritually. Yes, He rewards, and He punishes. He alone is the source of the grace that we so desperately need. He generously dispenses the wisdom that is so necessary and provides the only way of living the way we were created to live. He is worthy of our trust. Everything else in life will fail us. There’s no indication that God is anything but absolutely trustworthy in the Proverbs.
He has the power to rescue fools; that's all of us. Sin reduces all of us to fools. As I’ve said before, in Proverbs, God looms large; you cannot escape His presence, you cannot escape His power, you cannot escape His law, you cannot escape the need for Him. There's no room in the Proverbs for agnosticism, that view that there may be a God out there somewhere, but He’s not in contact with His world and you can't really know Him. This God is knowable; this God in Proverbs reveals who He is. He reveals what He does.
There's obviously no room for atheism. You can't read the Proverbs without crashing into the presence and power and authority and wisdom and grace of God again and again. In fact, the Proverbs actually forces us to understand that God is the environment in which we live. You can’t get up in the morning without bumping into God.
One of the saddest moments of the irrationality of sin in all of Scripture is when the prophet Jonah doesn't want to do what God is asking him to do, and he says that he's going to run from God's presence. If you think you can successfully escape the presence of God, you have gone spiritually insane.
Well, there's none of that insanity in Proverbs. If life is about knowing and serving God, then we need a portion of Scripture where God looms large, where He is inescapable and glorious and present and active. This God is real, and this God is knowable. This God reveals Himself. This God never slumbers or sleeps; He is constantly active doing what He's promised to do. This God is our hope!