(this transcript has been lightly edited for readability)
Well as we continue our introduction to the Proverbs, here’s the next thing that I think is important to understand. It's this, that every proverb is rooted in the soil of the Law of God. The Proverbs confronts us with the fact that we were created as moral beings, living in a moral world, under the authority of a holy God. That's the worldview of the Proverbs; we’re moral beings, living in a moral world under the authority of a holy God.
So, that means that the definition of a fool in Proverbs is not just a person who’s dumb. Often that's sort of the popular view of a fool, he’s just dumb. No, the Proverbs presents a fool who denies the righteousness and the righteous requirements and authority of God. A fool denies his own moral makeup and denies the authority under which every human being is meant to live.
You see, the Proverbs presents to us the foolishness of sin in a very interpersonal way. You say, “Paul, I don't understand what that means.” If you work your way through Proverbs, ignoring the wisdom of Proverbs is again not just about being dumb or breaking some moral abstract code; it's about rebelliousness against God. That's why the Proverbs says, “(It's) the fear of the LORD (that) is the beginning of (wisdom).”
What is that fear the Lord? It’s not terror of Him. It's filled with a sense of awe of His holiness, His righteous authority, that makes me want to submit to His will. Foolishness is presented in the Proverbs as rebellion against God. Now that fits with exactly how the Law is presented in Scripture.
Think of the Ten Commandments. If you look at the Ten Commandments, the first set of commands is about God being in His rightful place; it’s about the worship of God, about the rulership of God over your heart because unless God is in that place, you will not have a prayer of keeping the rest of the commands. It's a vertical view of law.
Whenever I work my way through Proverbs, I think of David and his confession in Psalm 51. David had committed adultery and then followed it with murder, and he says this in verse 4, “Against you (speaking to God, against you and), you only, have I …done (this sin, this evil) in your sight.” You see, he's saying, “My sin is not just against Bathsheba and her husband, but more significantly, it's against you.” I am made to live a Godward life.
Every proverb is Godward; every proverb is about the fact that I'm a moral being, living in a moral universe, living in immediate responsibility to God, and there’s only two ways of living. I live as a fool, I deny His existence, I deny His authority, and I live my own way. Or, I recognize His existence, and I submit to His way and His will.
Every proverb is rooted in the Law of God, and God's Law is vertical, it's personal. Sin is not just the breaking of an abstract moral code; sin, every sin is a sin against God. Every act of foolishness is against God because it's in Him that “we live and move and have our being,” We were made for Him and that message is everywhere in the Proverbs.