By Pr Isaiah White
The Book of Proverbs is categorised as one of the books of wisdom in the Bible.
The Hebrew term for that section is ‘Ketuvim’ and it contains Proverbs, Job, Song of Songs, and Ecclesiastes.
Proverbs is a collection of wise sayings that are intended to correct, instruct and educate people from childhood to adulthood.
These wise sayings were originally communicated orally and passed on from one generation to another.
They were categorised into two principal categories of wisdom: one was practical and utilitarian.
In this, we are told what to do and what not to do . In some of the sayings, the reason is given while in others there is no reason given whatsoever.
The wise sayings are not merely philosophical but rather divine wisdom that is tailored around the worship of the true God as the only absolute standard of what is right and wrong, and from whom success and failure are determined.
Proverbs teach us the pursuit of happiness and material success is by way of proper etiquette, strict discipline, and hard work.
Even such wise sayings about the economy and materialistic possession are not just materialistic and political, they are morally oriented in character as well and aim at a well-ordered society.
The second category is the one known as speculative and frequently pessimistic. In this category, wisdom is communicated by illustrating the consequences of both individual and corporate wrong choices.
Speculative wisdom went beyond maxims of conduct and reflected upon the deeper problems of the value of life as well as good and evil. It is this category of wisdom that philosophers in the past and present utilise.
The wise men (known as the Hakkamims) were at times at loggerheads with the prophets who disliked their pragmatic realism. The prophets treated the wisdom of oral traditions as non- religious but later appreciated it as another form of the revelation of God through these wise sayings.
On the other hand also, the wise men realised that true wisdom was in the worship of God and that is why the theme of the Book of Proverbs is; ‘the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom’.
Believe not their wisdom
In Proverbs, we have the following warning:
“My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent. If they say, come with us, let us lie in wait to shed blood; let us lurk secretly for the innocent without cause; let us swallow them alive like Sheol, and the whole, like those who go down to the pit; we shall find all kinds of precious possessions, we shall fill our houses with spoil; cast in your lot among us, let us all have one purse.”
My son, do not walk in the way with them, keep your foot from their path; for their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed blood,” Proverbs 1:10-16.
The world is filled with way too much wisdom and philosophies that it has become difficult for an ordinary person to tell the difference between what is true and what is not.
As far as truth is concerned, the philosophers have argued that there is no longer something like absolute (universal standard) truth but rather truth is relative (your truth is not my truth).
It is now difficult to guide people in what to do since they are listening from many sources.
Proverbs 1:10-16 warns us against all these sources of wisdom and points us to the fear of God and His word as the ultimate guide for our choices.
Google, Audio/Visual and print media scholars in libraries and professors in universities are all dispersing knowledge and wisdom. The tricky part is that the word of God is also channeled through these platforms.
For instance, while there are many newspapers out there with different kinds of knowledge in the world of print media, there is the Good Newspaper which is voicing the word of God.
We cannot do away once and for all with all these sources of information but we are asked to keep our foot on the right path.
We are asked to subject every knowledge to the word of God and test it to see its truth (1John 4:1).
Whose counsel will you follow and adhere to? Your parents said, your teachers said, Google says, research says, Radio and TV say, your friends say, but who of those will you believe and follow?
Ultimately, God has called us not to follow their counsel at the expense of His word.