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Proverbs 1:17; 2:48; 3:56, 1112comment (0)

May 29, 2008

By Jerry W. Batson

Related Scripture: Proverbs 1:17; 2:48; 3:56, 1112

Bible Studies for Life
Associate Professor of Divinity (Retired), Beeson Divinity School, Samford University

Your Ticket to Real Success
Proverbs 1:1–7; 2:4–8; 3:5–6, 11–12

The Book of Proverbs seeks to teach us wisdom and form our character. Have you known people who are intellectually brilliant or who excel in the workplace but who do not seem to know how to build a balanced and successful life? Some people who succeed in their vocations seem unable to maintain successful relationships with family members and friends. Is real success in life measured by salaries earned, promotions received, social status achieved or headlines made? While some successful people are marked by such achievements, their real success must be measured by a different yardstick.

Proverbs helps us focus on wise guidance for successful living by being rightly related to God and to people. God measures real success in terms of trusting Him and living according to His ways. In short, God’s instructions are our ticket to real success.

Learn from Scripture (1:1–6)

Solomon wrote and collected many proverbs. In 1 Kings 4:32, he is said to have spoken 3,000 proverbs. He collected proverbs from others, such as Agur (Prov. 30) and King Lemuel (Prov. 31). What is a proverb? Although the term itself has a wide range of uses in the Bible, we commonly think of a proverb in its narrower or common meaning: a brief statement of an idea commonly held to be true. As such, proverbs often grow out of observations of human behavior. Insights gained from observation can admonish people to adopt wise behaviors or advise people to avoid negative or hurtful actions.

Biblical proverbs serve several purposes. When heeded, they lead us to wisdom for life, disciplined behavior and insightful understanding. Proverbs have the potential to furnish insight, to direct us to upright conduct, to encourage just practices and to help us lead a virtuous life (2–3).

All sincere persons of faith can be blessed by biblical proverbs. Because of possessing a teachable spirit, the simplest and youngest among us find proverbs profitable. Likewise the wise person can gain wisdom and those already having understanding about life can yet receive wise counsel for situations (4–6).

Revere the Lord (1:7; 2:4–8)
“The fear of the Lord” speaks of appropriate reverence for the Lord, not terror. If we would learn from Scripture, then we must come before the Lord and His Word with reverence of heart. “Fools,” as viewed in Scripture, are not people of low intelligence but those lacking moral discernment and values. Hence fools are those who do not value God’s instruction in Scripture by which a person gains wisdom for life. To live with respect for the things of God is to live with a desire to please and learn from Him. Referring to wisdom, verse 4 counsels us to seek “it” as we might seek precious metal or buried treasure. We seek what we value. If we would find our way to success as God measures success, then we must begin by revering Him and seeking wisdom from Him.

Live by Faith (3:5–6)

Trust in the Lord is a wholehearted matter and an exclusive commitment. We trust Him fully when we abandon improper self-trust. Trust in the Lord is also a comprehensive commitment. If we would experience His guidance in life, then we must trust Him in all our ways. God desires to guide us totally.

God’s guidance is available not only for life’s major decisions but also for everyday matters. His guidance often comes through studying the Scriptures, praying, cultivating sensitivity to the Holy Spirit and seeking counsel from godly people.

Appreciate God’s Correction (3:11–12)

True love does not turn us loose to do as we please. Love cares; God’s love cares supremely. So much does He love us that He does not stand by while we rebel against or ignore Him. Real love disciplines its loved ones.
God’s loving correction is to be desired. We do well to interpret the discipline of God as evidence of love that will not let us go. How do we show appreciation for divine discipline? We do so by repenting of what displeases God and choosing to live by His wise guidance.

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