The book of Proverbs is the most practical book in the Bible. Its instruction in the art of living has been long tried and long proven. Its proverbial seeds of discernment are ready to be planted and rooted in the receptive soil of Wisdom’s sons and daughters today.
The ancient voice of Lady Wisdom still cries out today. She summons us to the life skills of godliness and helps us say no to the foolish and destructive enticements that inhabit the malls, campuses, housing divisions, and office buildings of the postmodern world. But as much as we glean from the surface of the book of Proverbs, there remains still more in its depths.
David Atkinson wonderfully illuminates the ancient cultural and religious background of the discourses and sayings of Proverbs. Wisdom’s values are brought into sharp relief. More important, he brings the wisdom from the book of Proverbs into conversation with the wisdom of God now more fully displayed in Christ. In this way, the place of the book of Proverbs in the pattern of God’s Word is clearly accented.
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“Derek Kidner elaborates this last phrase. ‘You have to be godly to be wise; and this is not because godliness pays, but because the only wisdom by which you can handle everyday things in conformity with their nature is the wisdom by which they were divinely made and ordered.’” (Page 22)
“This personification of Wisdom is not a (mere) literary device; it reflects the essential nature of biblical wisdom. Wisdom is embodied. Wisdom is for living. In fact, nothing is truly known until it is lived out in the everyday world.” (Page 30)
“She comes over now more as enticing than exhorting. She needs to be sought after and looked for, like a treasure as rare as silver. The summons to hear Wisdom is really a summons to hear God. The hearers are called to discern God’s presence in the world, and give attention to it, not only in the special times, or when God is, so to speak, ‘public’, but at all times, even when God is hidden.” (Page 33)
“One of the remarkable features of Jesus’ healing ministry is that he often reached out across the divide to those who were outcast and marginalized. He touched the untouchable: the leper, the dead body, the woman with a discharge of blood. Those who were regarded as unclean, unacceptable and on the road to death were the chief recipients of his touch of life.” (Page 113)
“‘wisdom’ is a word used to cover practical sagacity, the skill of the artisan, acquaintance with facts, learning, skill in expounding secret things, statesmanship, and knowledge of right living in the highest sense: moral and religious intelligence.” (Page 24)
David J. Atkinson is retired as assistant bishop in Southwark Diocese. Previously, he was a fellow of Corpus Christi College in Oxford, England, an assistant curate of The Cathedral Church of St. Andrew, archdeacon of Lewisham, and bishop of Thetford. He is the author of several books and commentaries, including Pastoral Ethics: A Guide to the Key Issues of Daily Living.