I consider Proverbs to be “preventative grace”. It was initially written to prepare young men for adulthood by providing practical wisdom. It was to help them avoid the pitfalls of life’s choices rather than get out of them. So, when I saw Anthony Selvaggio’s A Proverbs Driven Life, I was interested. When I was offered a copy for free to review- I was estatic.
Before Selvaggio gets into the various topics that Proverbs covers, he wants to orient people to what Proverbs are, and aren’t. Since Proverbs is a book about wisdom, it is about everyday life. It is not about laws & precepts (he hits that again in a later section) but more like signposts. Proverbs are generalisms that help us to make good choices by cluing us in to the typical outcomes.
We need this book because, as he says, “people make a lot of short-sighted, self-centered decisions.” And those decisions bring lots of misery to them and others. We are a people who profoundly lack wisdom.
Proverbs offers us future-oriented wisdom and guidance so we can make wise decisions and live in ways that please and exalt God.
He provides some guidance in reading Proverbs correctly: use basic logic, don’t read any in isolation, don’t put God on your timetable, make God the goal of your obedience. But the most important thing to remember is the introduction to Proverbs- the call to faith without which we cannot receive and apply true wisdom. Jesus Himself is God’s Wisdom Incarnate, and lived wisdom during his earthly ministry. He often used the Proverbs in his teaching. It is primarily because of Jesus that God does give wisdom to all who ask (James 1). He keeps a proper gospel, or Christ, centered focus.
We can live a Proverbs-driven life because Jesus first lived that life for us. As one who lived wisdom, the one who is wisdom, the one who is the way of wisdom, and the one who supplies wisdom, Jesus is present in Proverbs in a most profound way.
So the author captures the intent of the author of Proverbs, lest we go astray into moralism or earthly wisdom.
The second chapter in Part 1 covers words, calling us to thoughtful, timely and true words. The point is, we are unable to completely control the tongue (James 4- which epistle is heavily dependent of wisdom literature), so much of life “is a lifelong exercise in damage control.” But our words, due to Christ’s work in us, can also convey grace. Yes, Jesus works in us so he might work thru us to accomplish his purposes thru our words- as parents, spouses, children, employers, employees, neighbors etc. Such counsel comes in handy in marriage, ministry and counseling- where words are many.
In this chapter he displays some pastoral wisdom drawn from Proverbs. There is some very good material about our speech. This includes some help in offering correction, the dangers of gossip and more. This first section of A Proverbs Driven Life does a great job of paving the way for the main topics he will address from Proverbs: work, wealth, and relationships.