This pastoral passage was first written for LRBC on March 20 2016.
I have been considering the theme of ‘wisdom’ in Proverbs lately, and what its connection to Jesus’ words in Matthew 23:34 could be. In this verse Jesus describes his disciples as scribes, prophets and wise men. Scribes are those who study and teach God’s word, while prophets are in one sense preachers of it. But how are Jesus’ disciples expected to be ‘wise men’? Earlier in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus had said that the wise are those who hear his words and also do them (7:21-27). In the book of Proverbs the wise are those who fear God, navigate life skilfully and instruct others to do likewise.
By tying this into the ‘Proverbial People Types’ that I wrote about a few weeks ago, we can reread the book of Proverbs as a guide-book for Christian discipleship. We recognise Jesus as God’s wisdom incarnate, and learn from him as our Teacher or ‘Rabbi’.
So Christian disciples as ‘the wise’ seek to pass on the wisdom that is the gospel and instruct others in the way of living for Christ. The ‘fools’ are those who reject Christ. Like many of the Pharisees in Jesus’ day, they have decided against Christ. They can be rebuked (Prov 26:5) or ignored (Prov 26:4) depending on what seems the wisest course of action. The ‘simple’ (no demeaning connotations intended) are those who are yet to decide. Those who are wise (cf. Daniel 12:3) will instruct these people to seek Jesus with all the diligence of seeking hidden treasure, and invite them to share in the blessings of the gospel (cf. Prov 1:20-2:5).
How about exploring the book of Proverbs with this way of considering the wise, the simple, and fools? It might bring Proverbs to life in a newly useful way for you.