Introducing the Book of Proverbs, Part 1

Dr. Steve Viars September 8, 2001 Proverbs 1:

- Today we’re beginning a brand new series on the book of Proverbs.

- We hope that this, in some ways, will be a natural progression of what we’ve been studying the last couple of years, but also will be a series that is quite a bit different because of the nature of the material we’ve been studying.

- if you’ve been a part of an ABF the last couple of years, you know that we did an overview of the entire Bible, then a course on principles of Bible study, and then a study of the book of Revelation.

- we prepared each one of those with definite needs and goals in mind.

- we have a number of people in our church who are new…we believed it would be wise to do an overview of the Scriptures and a class on hermeneutics to help all of be grounded in the basics of understanding and interpreting the Bible…

- then we flexed those muscles by working on the book of Revelation, esp. because of the turn of the century and the interest there is in the end times.


- of course the goal of each of those studies was biblical living, growth and change in key areas of life, development of love for God and neighbor, progressive sanctification, etc….

- everything we do around here comes down to the issues of salvation or progressive sanctification to the glory of God…so these series were intended to be practical, even as we went through them…

- however, each of us would probably say…that can be a stretch…to go from an overview of the Bible to godly parenting---you have to work fairly hard to make that logical connection.

- that will not be the case with our new study…this material is instantly practical, and it is a fitting step in what we’ve been doing in ABF the last couple of years.


- we’re going to be using a number of different resources for this study, but one of the ones I would recommend is Be Skillful by Warren Wiersbe.

- our MRC is going to try to have some of these in the next couple of weeks if you would like to study along.

- some of our lessons, including the ones today and next week, will draw pretty heavily from what warren Wiersbe has to say.

- one of the things many of us appreciate about Dr. Wiersbe is that he is able to give a lot of content in a relatively short amount of space.

- so this isn’t a commentary you’ll have to wade through for hours each week, but it is a book that would be a nice supplement to your regular reading of the Scriptures.

- while we’re on that point, it won’t surprise you to hear me say that I would encourage you to read from the Proverbs regularly during this series.

- our family is doing that right now in our Bible study and finding it to be very profitable.

- since it has 31 chapters and many months have 31 days, many families simply read the Proverb that corresponds to the day of the month—if that works for you, great…but I would encourage you to get on some sort of reading plan in this book.


- Dr. Wiersbe suggests answering five questions whenever beginning the study of a new book of the Bible:

1.  What is the major theme of the book?

2.  Who wrote the book and how is it written?

3.  What is the key verse that helps “unlock” the message of the book?

[note to teachers --- need to be a bit careful of this one—perhaps a better question would be, what are the key verses that help us answer that overview questions]

4.  What does this book say about Jesus Christ?

5.  What must I do to get the most out of this book?


- we’re going to try to answer these questions over the next two weeks.


I.  What is the Major Theme of the Book of Proverbs?


INPUT – From what you know of the book already, how would you answer this question?


A.  Answer in a word – wisdom.


- the fact that that is true ought to give us hope right off the bat…INPUT – Why?


- sometimes people like to describe Christians as ignorant/unthinking people…as if you have to surrender your mind at the church door in order to be a committed Christian.

- you know that the opposite is true…many Christians are very thoughtful people…they read, study, think, interact with ideas…

- how many other worldviews do you see represented at Cracker Barrel at 6:00 a.m. with books and study materials?

- how many other worldviews are sponsoring a series this fall where they will carefully and objectively compare and contrast what they believe with other positions [cf. the comparing world religions series]

- how many other worldviews have 180 women involved in weekly studies?

- how many other worldviews hold weekly meetings that essentially are study times [like ABF’s and worship services]

- how many other worldviews produce as much study material [cf. Gospel Lit. Services, they measure their printed material by the ton]

- how many worldviews spend as much time talking about how to have better marriages and families….friendships, work ethic, principles of finance…

- how many offer free counseling services focused on helping people change the way they think about life?

- and we could go on and on.

- the point is…the Christian life is a call to wisdom…it is a lifelong pursuit of wisdom…

- Wiersbe rightly says…”The Lord expects us to apply ourselves intellectually and do some serious thinking as we study His Word.  We should the love the Lord with our minds as well as with our hearts and souls (Matt. 22:37).”


- if you’ve studied God’s Word (or even secular histories of the world), you know that ancient cultures placed high value on wisdom and wise people.

- Joseph was elevated in Egypt because of his wisdom, and so were Daniel and his three friends in Babylon.

- that’s is why it is not surprising to find statements in the NT like Eph. 5:15 – where we are commanded to walk circumspectly [circum-around/spec-to look].


B.  What is wisdom?


INPUT – How would you define the word?


- there are different ways to define this concept…

1.  the ability to apply knowledge to everyday life.

2.  the competence to grasp the meaning of a situation and understand what to do and how to do it in the right way at the right time.

3.  Roy Zuck – Wisdom means being skillful and successful in one’s relationships and responsibilities…observing and following the Creator’s principles of order in the moral universe.”


[could read paragraph in middle of Wiersbe, p. 11]


4.  Hebrew word especially emphasizes “skill”.

- cf. Ex. 28:3, 35:30-36:2, I Chron. 22:15

- Wiersbe – wisdom isn’t something theoretical, it’s something very practical that affects every area of life.  It gives order and purpose to life; it gives discernment in making decisions; and it provides a sense of fulfillment in life to the glory of God.”


II.  Who Wrote the Book and how is it Written?


- cf. 1:1, 10:1, 25:1, 30:1, 31:1


A.  Primarily written by Solomon.


- cf. I Kings 3:5-15 – requested and given great wisdom by God



- people were amazed at his God-given wisdom – cf. I Kings 4:29-34, Matthew 12:42



- sad thing is, Solomon began as a wise man but ended his life in folly and misery – cf. I Kings 11, Deut. 17:14-20



B.  Significance of this writing style


1.  “burrs that stick in your mind”


- INPUT – secular proverbs, sayings?


2.  Hebrew “mashal” – a comparison


- why?…many in that day would not have had copies of the Scriptures.


3.  easy to remember


- good overall definition – a short sentence based on long experience.

Dr. Steve Viars


Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation


B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and three grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

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