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Posted by: Pastor Terry Hagedorn | August 7, 2018

Understanding Proverbs (Prov. 16:7

Dr. Bob Horton writes:

Studying the Bible requires knowing the context and purpose of what you are reading. The books of the Bible are of several genres. It is apparent that the historical books read differently than the prayers, praises, and laments found in the Psalms. And the Gospel accounts, for example, present material differently than do the epistles of Paul. Thus a person must read the material in each book according to its purpose. This is a critical requirement for properly interpreting the meaning of any given Biblical passage.

The book of Proverbs provides an example of the importance of this principle of Bible interpretation. As the name implies, the book provides proverbs – general principles for the people of God to live by. The book is not historical, nor primarily devotional; it is not prophetic of future events. It instead equips believers for life in the real world: dealing with relationships with sinners, temptations to immorality, warnings against laziness, gluttony, debt, etc. It is not, however, a book of promises. The maxims do not promise wealth, purity, long life, a long and happy marriage, freedom from persecution, worldly recognition. It points to a life that will please God, and generally work out best for the individual.

To illustrate this truth, consider 16:7, “When a man’s ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.” This proverb encourages God’s people in the midst of an hostile environment to live as taught in the Bible. And generally this will lead to peaceful coexistence with unbelievers. However, will it always work out that way? Will godliness consistently placate enemies? Did it work that way for the Lord and for His disciples? Does anyone question whether Jesus pleased the Lord? Yet His enemies were not at peace with Him. The proverbs are not promises, but the general truth is that godly Christians can live at peace with their unbelieving neighbors. Understanding the genre of the various books of the Bible help us properly to interpret its truths.

Studying the Bible requires knowing the context and purpose of what you are reading. The books of the Bible are of several genres. It is apparent that the historical books read differently than the prayers, praises, and laments found in the Psalms. And the Gospel accounts, for example, present material differently than do the epistles of Paul. Thus a person must read the material in each book according to its purpose. This is a critical requirement for properly interpreting the meaning of any given Biblical passage.

The book of Proverbs provides an example of the importance of this principle of Bible interpretation. As the name implies, the book provides proverbs – general principles for the people of God to live by. The book is not historical, nor primarily devotional; it is not prophetic of future events. It instead equips believers for life in the real world: dealing with relationships with sinners, temptations to immorality, warnings against laziness, gluttony, debt, etc. It is not, however, a book of promises. The maxims do not promise wealth, purity, long life, a long and happy marriage, freedom from persecution, worldly recognition. It points to a life that will please God, and generally work out best for the individual.

To illustrate this truth, consider 16:7, “When a man’s ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.” This proverb encourages God’s people in the midst of an hostile environment to live as taught in the Bible. And generally this will lead to peaceful coexistence with unbelievers. However, will it always work out that way? Will godliness consistently placate enemies? Did it work that way for the Lord and for His disciples? Does anyone question whether Jesus pleased the Lord? Yet His enemies were not at peace with Him. The proverbs are not promises, but the general truth is that godly Christians can live at peace with their unbelieving neighbors. Understanding the genre of the various books of the Bible help us properly to interpret its truths.

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