(this transcript has been lightly edited for readability)
Well, one of the dominant underlying themes of Proverbs is humility. I would say it this way, “It’s a core underlying transcendent theme of Proverbs.” Although Proverbs doesn't discuss humility on every page, it's on every page because the life described in Proverbs, the portrait of the way we are meant to live in fear of the Lord, that way grows in the soil of humility. Humility is the soil in which this rich beautiful life of wisdom grows.
Fear of the Lord is the key to wisdom. And what is that fear about? It’s about submission, a humble sense of need, willingness to consider and confess, it's about God's honor, it's about worship of Him, living in awe of Him, it's about a willing and joyful dependency. I have to say it again that in that way, Proverbs fits with the move of Scripture. Listen, the move of God's grace is not moving us from dependence to independence; but from independence to a greater willing and joyful dependence on God and the instruments that God puts in our life.
Proverbs 3:34 is one of the principal Scriptures on humility, “Toward the scorners he is scornful, but to the humble he gives favor.” That theme, that passage, is repeated in James, and in Peter, as they think of the importance of humility.
Proverbs 22:4 connects humility with the fear of the Lord; and by that, we begin to understand that fear of the Lord crushes pride. If you're proud, if the people around you would describe you as being proud, you just don't need to be committed to humility; you need to grow in fear of the Lord, because fear of the Lord and pride don't live in the same soil, they just don't.
Why does God hate pride? Well, I’ve just told you because a proud man is a man who lacks fear of Him; and because he lacks fear of Him, he doesn't worship Him as he should; and because he doesn't worship Him as he should, he doesn't submit to Him as he should; and because he doesn't submit to Him as he should, he doesn't obey Him as He should; and because he doesn’t obey Him as he should, he wants his own way instead of God's way; and because of that, his life is moving away from the Lord, away from His honor, and away from that rich experience of life that He promises those who will humble themselves before Him. In that way, every Proverb is an invitation to a humble life.
Now, can we talk here? I don’t know why I'm asking permission; I'm going to talk. That's not natural for us; it's not natural for you to be humble. I think of parenting again; my children have never come to me and said, “Dad, if you could just control me more, if you would just command me more, if you would just take greater charge over my life, I would be so happy.” But it's natural for your child to resist that; it’s natural for your child to act like they know things they don't know.
A child trying to learn to tie his shoe; you’ll reach down to help him and he slaps your hand away. He could try to make a bow for the next century, and he would never make a bow because he doesn’t know how. But there's an instinct inside of him that says, “I don't want to be a person who needs help.” And so, we’re confronted with this life that God says, “This is the good life, this is the rich life. It’s lived in humble recognition of my position, my authority, and your desperate need of me.”
And so, once again as I’ve said over and over again, you cannot read the Proverbs without running to the cross because the Proverbs tells me again and again the thing I most need to be rescued from is me, and there's grace for that rescue!