According to the first chapter of Proverbs, the book provides instruction (verses 2, 3), knowledge (verse 4), understanding (verse 5), prudence and discretion (verse 4). Indeed, the Proverbs are part of the Old Testament, and we know that the Law of Moses was nailed to the cross, abolished at the death of Christ (Colossians 2:14). The question then is: are the Proverbs applicable to us today?
Here is my concern. I’ve heard it said that since the book of Proverbs is part of the Old Testament, and since the old law was nailed to the cross, then we are not expected by God to follow the wisdom of Proverbs.
There is instruction in the law of Christ to walk not as fools but as wise: “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:15-17). While we are commanded to understand the will of the Lord (Jesus), we are also commanded to walk as wise. The book of Proverbs contains timeless wisdom from God, applicable in any age and for all men.
Or is one going to be so naive to say that in the days of Solomon, for the Jew intoxicating drink was a mocker (Proverbs 20:1), but for Gentiles at the same time the same drink was not a mocker? Or for the Jew after the death of Christ, intoxicating drink was no longer a mocker? No, that wisdom of God is timeless.
Does one believe that before the death of Christ, for the Jew only it was wise to remove his way far from the way of the harlot (Proverbs 5:7-14), but when the law of Moses was nailed to the cross, it was ok for him to go by the way of the harlot? No, that wisdom of God is timeless.
Solomon wrote, “He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him promptly” (Proverbs 13:24). Was that wisdom of God abolished at the cross of Christ, or was that the timeless wisdom of God applicable to all men for all time? I believe the latter. Indeed today, the wisdom of this world will tell you exactly the opposite of what Solomon wrote. The wisdom of this world says that he who spanks his child hates him and does him much harm. God said exactly the opposite, and what God said about it is still true. But more than that, what God said about it ought to be practiced by Christians today because they long to know and follow the wisdom of God.
Methinks I hear one saying that the wisdom of Proverbs is simply a help today to make our life easier and better, as if the wisdom is optional. In other words, you can choose to not follow their instruction and get to heaven the hard way, or you can make it simpler by following the instruction. Proverbs 19:29 says, “Judgments are prepared for scoffers, and beatings for the backs of fools.” There is consequence to the rejection of wisdom.
I can hear another pleading that the Proverbs indeed contain the wisdom of God for men even today, but they are not that by which we will be judged, meaning to imply again that our devotion to walking by that wisdom is optional. May I ask this: what kind of attitude is that toward the wisdom of God? Sounds like a minimalist religion. Remember what Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6). And Solomon wrote, “Fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7). That’s just as true today as it was then.
The wisdom of the Proverbs is preserved for us to know, to respect, and to heed.