You probably know the book of Proverbs as a collection of practical advice for God’s people. Proverbs itself, though, defines its purpose in a deeper, more significant way. In this lab, John Piper looks at the purpose and lays it onto several proverbs to see how the book works in the life of the believer.
Principle for Bible Reading
We take some things for granted about the Bible, for instance, that Proverbs is essentially a book about to-do’s. The author of Proverbs, though, explicitly offers a different and deeper purpose for these sayings. Watch for the biblical authors to give purpose statements for their writing, either for a paragraph or for a whole book. It will be an important lens through which to read everything else.
- Read Proverbs 22:17–19, and identify the primary or highest purpose of this group of proverbs (Proverbs 22:17–24:20).
- Now, read the proverbs in Proverbs 22:22–25. How would you explain how these proverbs carry out the primary purpose given in 22:17–19?
- What might the “trust” in Proverbs 22:19 mean for the “knowledge” in 22:17 and the “pleasure” in 22:18? How does the author’s statement about our trust in God help us understand the other two ideas?
The Purpose of Proverbs
- The unmistakable purpose in Proverbs 22:17–19 is “that your trust may be in the LORD” (Proverbs 22:19).
- The LORD here is Yahweh, the covenant God of Israel.
- Most of the Proverbs are instructions for what to do in life.
- For instance, “Do not rob the poor” (Proverbs 22:22).
- Or another example, “Make no friendship with a man given to anger” (Proverbs 22:24).
- Proverbs 22:19 says that all of the proverbs are meant to cause us to trust in God. God strengthens our trust by showing us what the fruit of trust looks like.
- The commands in Proverbs (and elsewhere in the Bible) is what saving faith does.
The Joy of Knowing God
- The purpose statement in Proverbs 22:19 should not be disconnected from what we saw in Proverbs 22:17–18.
- Trust as the ultimate purpose in Proverbs 22:19 suggests that the knowledge in 22:17 is a collection of reasons to trust God.
- And therefore, the pleasure in Proverbs 22:18 is a knowledge of God, his word, and his works that cause us to trust in him.