In the past I have been guilty of treating the Book of Proverbs a little bit like a commute to work. I sped through familiar passages and topics while aiming to get where I needed to go. Often times this destination has been a rebuke that I needed to hear concerning my tongue or some help toward counseling people more effectively. In short, I did not enjoy the commute through Proverbs like I should.
However, I recently begun reading this book on my days off, leisurely making my way through and highlighting along the way. You’ll never guess what happened. I began to see and smell the gospel flowers in full bloom. I heard the chirping birds with their songs of deliverance. The gospel notes are hit surprisingly well in this wisdom book. Some days I feel like Jacob grabbing ahold of that text, “I will not let you go until you bless me.” (Gen. 32.26) God has been good; I’ve been greatly blessed to say the least.
In effort to share and shamelessly disrupt others’ “commute” through this book, I have compiled a short list of verses along with some personal reflections on them. (Note: I quote the verse first and then a gospel meditation in italics after)
(Prov. 11.4) Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death.
My chief need is not to accumulate wealth but to overcome my infinite debt of unrighteousness. Christ Jesus is my everlasting righteousness in spite of my infinite demerit (2 Cor. 5.21)
(Prov. 13.7) One pretends to be rich, yet has nothing; another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth.
In my sin I pretend and perform like I have or am something. The truth is: I am weak, helpless, and broken (Rom. 5.6ff). Though he was rich, Christ the King left the throne of heaven (Phil. 2.5-11) to be a weak, poor, humble servant that he might make a poor sinner like me rich in him (Eph. 1.3; 2 Cor. 8.9)
(Prov. 14.9) Fools mock at the guilt offering, but the upright enjoy acceptance.
The word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing (1 Cor. 1.18). I have worn this hat and uttered these words. But by God’s sovereign grace I now see that Christ Jesus has become my guilt offering (Isa. 53.10). In his body he has born all of my guilt and shame so that I now enjoy acceptance.
(Prov. 16.6) By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for, and by the fear of the LORD one turns away from evil.
It was our covenant making Father and the covenant keeping Son who ensured my forgiveness. It was through the forsaking of the covenant of works that iniquity flowed in. It was through Christ that the door to the covenant of grace is opened and the stay therein is secured.
(Prov. 17.15) He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous are both alike an abomination to the LORD.
God does not compromise his character (holiness, righteousness, or love) when he forgives me. Instead he emphatically declares it! God remains just while also being the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus (Rom. 3.27). Apart from the doing and dying of Jesus God would have no basis to justly forgive me. But praise be to God! The infinite merit of Jesus is my own!
(Prov. 19.29) Condemnation is ready for scoffers and beating for the backs of fools.
Words of love and grace dripped from Jesus’ mouth like pearls, however he stood in the place of a foolish, God-mocking, neighbor-slandering, glory-belittling fool like me.
(Prov. 20.9) Who can say, “I have made my heart pure; I am clean from my sin”?
No one! Everything I touch is smudged with my depraved, self-inclined, self-worshiping fingerprints. I have no will and way to make myself clean! But thanks be to God through Jesus Christ, I am invited to come and wash in the laver of his soul-cleansing blood! And now I can say in truth: I am clean!!
(Prov. 20.28) Steadfast love and faithfulness preserve the king, and by steadfast love his throne is upheld.
When I am given to doubt and despair I need to remember that my God is a covenant keeping God. He has made an oath, he has promised forgiveness and life everlasting to those who are united in faith to Jesus. When the foundations of my world seem to crumble I need to remember that the foundations of God’s character are without a dent or defect! He is and forevermore will remain faithful!
(Prov. 20.30) Blows that wound cleanse away evil; strokes make clean the innermost parts.
Upon the cross Jesus bore the scourges, the wounds the beatings from men. But in truth it is the flogging by measure of God’s divine wrath that will make a sinner clean. Indeed, my innermost parts, my evil heart is cleansed because of Christ’s suffering in my place (Isa. 53.4-5, 6, 10; 2 Pet. 3.18)
There are more gospel runners on base here in Proverbs. May God forbid that we zoom through this botanical garden of divine grace fit to thrill the nostrils of our soul!