The book of Proverbs is many things to many people. Some see it as a book of wisdom. Others see it as poetry. From one standpoint, it is both a book containing wisdom and poetry; many of the wisdom verses are written using Hebrew poetry. However while all of that may be nice, in the long-run, to be quite honest, it doesn’t really matter. It doesn’t save anyone, or change anyone’s life, to know that Proverbs is considered a “wisdom book” or a “poetry book” – at the end of the day, it is just an interesting fact, just another piece of what I call Bible trivia.
Reading the Bible is more than just absorbing facts, scriptural knowledge or Bible trivia. The focus should never be on raw data retention or interesting tidbits . It’s not a what that we should be focusing on, but rather a who… it is Jesus. All of the scripture reading in the world, is all meaningless if we do not see Jesus in it; because He is the one who gives it meaning.
So today, I want to share with you, some beautiful aspects of Jesus, directly from Proverbs 15, and by seeing Him, you have a new way to appreciate and savor Jesus, in the book of Proverbs.
Now from the very beginning, I must inform you that many people have said “James, if you want wisdom, you need to read Proverbs…” and I understand their heart, I know that they truly believe what they say, and that they don’t even mean anything malicious by saying that. But you see, my friend, this is one of the dangers of trying to categorize books like this… if we designate Proverbs as a “wisdom book” does that mean that wisdom can’t be found in the other books? What about John? What about Romans or Corinthians? The real question is: where does wisdom truly come from? What is the source of wisdom?
I happen to believe that wisdom doesn’t really come from a book, but it comes from Jesus and His Spirit – and the irony is that I can use the scriptures to prove it. In 1st Corinthians 1:30, the scriptures say that Jesus is made to be wisdom for us (as well as righteousness, sanctification and redemption). So when we read Proverbs, or any other part of scripture for that matter, as you see Jesus, you will also see those things… you will see wisdom, you will see righteousness, you will see sanctification and redemption; but we need to recognize that they all come by Him, and through Him. Jesus Himself should always be the focus.
So let’s begin with Proverbs 15, starting at verse 1 – now we won’t go through the entire chapter today, but we will hit some highlights today that will give you a good foundation and some amazing pictures of Jesus. These are some of my personal favorites, and feel free to leave me a comment, sharing some of your own pictures of Jesus as well, because that’s what we should be doing, encouraging eachother with the truth of Jesus.
Starting right at verse 1, we see this:
“A soft answer turns away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.”
This may not seem like much – it may even seem obvious… I mean, most people know that if you respond harshly, it usually escalates a situation, or stirs up hostility. However consider for a moment, that in some places, God is presented very harshly. The typical view of God is not one who is gentle, but one who always gives what is called here “grievous words”. In-fact, back in my legalistic days, I saw the entire Bible as harsh and it brought me nothing but grief every single day!
Now, why is this important… well there are no insignificant details in the Bible. Take notice of the specifics of this verse: A soft answer turns away wrath. And in Colossians 3:21, Fathers are instructed to not provoke their children to wrath. Very interesting!
Now, let me ask you this question… is God your Father? Do you think that He would give you an instruction that is good, and proper, and right, and then disregard it Himself? I don’t think so.
So this shows us something about God. This shows us something about His character, This shows us something about the way in which He interacts with us. I will tell you, without hesitation, that God always speaks to us, in the most gentle and loving way possible. Not because He is weak or a push-over, but because He both loves you (Romans 8:35-39, 1st John 4:16), and also because He knows how very fragile we truly are on every level (Psalm 103:13-14). If He were to truly speak harsh words towards us, we would crumble. His words would consume us off the face of the earth! The very words that spoke the earth into existence, can speak it right out again, make no mistake!
I say this to encourage and remind you, that when you feel that God is being harsh with you, know that the feeling is a lie, for if God was, you would already be dust. And He would not do so, because when He looks at you today, He sees His Beloved Son, He sees Christ, because you are tucked safely in Jesus, with His perfect Righteousness on you (Colossians 3:3).
If we don’t understand this, then we will always interpret scriptures wrongly, just as I did when I was entrenched in legalism – using the scriptures as a check-list of do’s and don’ts, rather than as a picture of Jesus. And this is exactly what verse 2 of Proverbs 15 is talking about, when it says that:
“The tongue of the wise uses knowledge aright: but the mouth of fools pours out foolishness.”
There are a lot of mouths spouting foolishness today when it comes to God. Making Him out to be something or someone that He isn’t. Painting Him as an unloving, uncaring bully who is just waiting for you to mess-up so that He can punish you. And these same people often use (and abuse) scripture to make their points. However, if you truly examine scripture with an open mind and an open heart, as I eventually did, you will see that the goodness of God and His mercy and His grace truly cannot be denied. He simply would not have sent Jesus to die for us (while we were still His enemies no less), unless His immeasurable grace and love was a reality (Romans 5:8).
Continuing that very thought, take a look at Proverbs 15:3 now:
“The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.”
Here again, when I was buried in my legalism, I saw this verse as a terrifying thing… because I saw the eyes of the LORD as always viewing my sin, my failings, my shortcomings – and I saw God is always marking them down – keeping a list of all the ways I was disappointing Him. And so with that mindset, this verse was awful to me.
Yet if we translate this verse in the light of the finished work of Jesus Christ, we can see that this verse is actually an amazing comfort to us. Think of the many things that happen every single day. Also think of the many things that don’t happen every single day. Realize that none of these things escape the view of God.
Personally for me, when things seemingly start to get crazy, it only takes a moment for me to realize that nothing has taken God by surprise; that nothing has escaped His view and He doesn’t need to play catch-up… and upon remembering that, I can once again proceed with confidence.
When I stop to consider the many moments that I had spent worrying for absolutely no logical reason in the sight of God… that each moment worrying could’ve been spent rejoicing instead – because honestly worrying is just wasted time and wasted energy and wasted thought, that could be put to better use.
God sees all, and He doesn’t do so with eyes of scorn, resentment or condemnation. He is not making an itemized list of your sins! I know that some legalistic preachers in the past have tried to say that God was doing that, but I can assure you today that He is not! Can I prove that in scripture? Absolutely! David writes in Psalm 130:3-4: that If the LORD would actually mark iniquities, who would be able to stand? But that there is forgiveness with God, that He should be revered.
So, if God actually isn’t watching everything for the purpose of recording sins, then why is He watching? Well, Psalm 121 gives us some idea why:
“My help comes from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.
He will not suffer your foot to be moved: he that keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he that keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD is your keeper: the LORD is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not smite you by day, nor the moon by night.
The LORD shall preserve you from all evil: he shall preserve your soul.
The LORD shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even for ever more.”
This… This is God’s purpose for watching you, my friend. Stop letting your mind be so sin-conscious, and see the character of God in the light of Jesus Christ and His finished work.
We have barely scratched the surface of Proverbs 15 and all the many ways in which Jesus can be seen in it. Time would fail me to tell of verse 6, and the provision of Christ contained there (yes, including financial).
Or verse 15, where in Christ, every single day can indeed be a continual feast, because you are dining on the banquet of His love, His mercy and His grace every single moment of every day.
My intention with this study today, has been to open your awareness and perhaps shift your perspective on some aspects of God’s character – to change them from the old-covenant mentality, to the new covenant reality in Christ Jesus.
I encourage you today, every part of scripture is beautiful, because every part of scripture is ultimately about Jesus. Put the right lenses on, and you will see clearly.