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Proverbs: Wisdom that Works (Preaching the Word)

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Is godly, biblical wisdom found in the Bible relevant for today?

Pastor and teacher Raymond D. Ortlund Jr. provides a solid, biblical answer in his Proverbs: Wisdom that Works volume, part of the highly praised Preaching the Word series, noted for its steadfast commitment to biblical authority, readability, and clear exposition of Scripture,

Proverbs 1:20 says: "Wisdom cries aloud in the street, in the markets offering us her very best, if we will only listen." In Wisdom that Works, Ortlund leans on this truth to prove why Christians must look to the Bible and pay attention to the insights it offers Christians today that remain unchanged rather than the world's wisdom. God's wisdom, Ortlund says, is near to those who will listen, moving toward his children amid a world wrought with struggles and challenges.

In this volume, Ortlund unpacks the book of Proverbs in 21 brief sermons on topics like money, sex, and power to how to act wisely—all from a biblical worldview. He looks back at the ancient culture in which Solomon wrote his Proverbs to see how godly wisdom is still fitting and beneficial for Christians today. All 21 Proverbs point to Jesus, offering wise counsel, strength in difficult times, warnings for the arrogant, and tender mercies for the oppressed.

But it's not all theological—each chapter provides practical application from the Scriptures and is designed to help preachers communicate God’s Word clearly and effectively. Sermon illustrations for each Proverb are included in the sermon application index.

Resource Experts

Key Features

  • Provides practical application from the Scriptures
  • Designed to help preachers communicate God’s Word
  • Offers a sermon application index for finding the perfect illustration
  • A Word to Those Who Preach the Word
  • Preface
    • 1 Why the Book of Proverbs Matters
    • 2 Let’s Begin (1:1–7)
    • 3 Violence! (1:8–19)
    • 4 A Storm Is Coming (1:20–33)
    • 5 How We Can Grow (2:1–22)
    • 6 The Wisdom That Helps Us (3:1–8)
    • 7 Wisdom at the Extremes of Life (3:9–12)
    • 8 Why Wisdom Matters, What Wisdom Creates (3:13–35)
    • 9 The Only Path into Life (4:1–27)
    • 10 Bitter Honey and Sweet Water (5:1–23)
    • 11 Responsibility, Opportunity, Unity (6:1–19)
    • 12 Why Our Sexuality Matters to God (6:20–7:27)
    • 13 The Worldview of Wisdom (8:1–36)
    • 14 It’s Decision Time (9:1–18)
    • 15 The Tongue (18:21)
    • 16 Humility (22:4)
    • 17 Family (22:6)
    • 18 Emotions (15:30)
    • 19 Friendship (18:24)
    • 20 Money (10:22)
    • 21 Life and Death (12:28)
  • Scripture Index
  • General Index
  • Index of Sermon Illustrations

Top Highlights

“What does the sage mean by ‘wisdom’? Wisdom is more than brains. It is more than morals. We could memorize the whole Bible, and mean it from the heart, without wisdom. Wisdom is skill, expertise, competence that understands how life really works, how to achieve successful and even beautiful results.” (Page 28)

“Wisdom is the grace of Christ beautifying our daily lives.” (Page 17)

“Second, do you believe someone somewhere without Jesus will still go to Heaven?” (Page 64)

“If you would like to experience God with that humility, here is how you can. You look at the cross. You see a wise man hanging there, dying in the place of fools like you, because he loves you. You may despise him, but he does not despise you. You may be above him, but he humbled himself for you. Look there at him. Look away from yourself. Look at him, and keep looking until your pride melts. You will not only worship, you will begin to grow wise.” (Page 33)

“Wisdom is the gospel of Christ reshaping us for royalty, as God places us on his anvil and we trust him enough to stay there until his work is done.” (Page 19)

Proverbs: Wisdom that Works volume, part of the highly praised Preaching the Word series, noted for its steadfast commitment to biblical authority, is a solid and well-respected commentary on the book of Proverbs, offering readers practical reasons for considering God's wisdom from the Old Testament today.

One reason scholars and Bible teachers reach for this volume when teaching and preaching Proverbs is its readability and clear exposition of Scripture. Ortlund starts with why the book of Proverbs matters today and why it deserves, he says, the believers' "endless fascination."

Ortlund presents God's offer of wisdom to readers through the imagery of God speaking to his children as a father advising his son, not a list of "what to do" and "what not to do." Next, readers will consider why wisdom is demanding and dangerous but, ultimately, why it's the Christians' only place of safety in this dark world. Finally, they'll contemplate why studying the book of Proverbs is crucial—and the answer is more than a need for ethical principles: God's people need a new heart.

But it's also a dive into the difference between the two extremes of life: How are believers to act when things are plentiful versus when times are difficult or lacking? Can Proverbs offer insight? It's a handbook for how to get along with others. It's a reminder that sexual wisdom is a gift of grace. It's a reminder to handle money wisely and remain disciplined. And above all, it's a call for believers to build community.

I simply cannot say enough about Ortlund’s treatment of the book of Proverbs. There is depth here—scholarship disguised as pastoral advice. There is breadth here—quoting diverse people from Descartes to Sherlock Holmes. There is heart here—the heart of an evangelist, a pastor, a friend, and one who truly understands the Word. Proverbs: Wisdom that Works shines God’s light on your day in every area of life.

—Woodrow Kroll, senior Bible teacher, Back to the Bible

Ortlund not only speaks wisdom, he models how to speak it. He not only lights the way on how to preach Proverbs, but on how to walk in wisdom—and he makes me want to do both! Almost immediately I had two reactions: ‘Why am I not preaching Proverbs right now?’ and ‘Why am I not wiser by now?’ Turn here not just to hear about wisdom, but also to taste it. You’ll find the savor reverently worshipful, theologically rich, and relentlessly practical.

—John Kitchen, senior pastor, Stow Alliance Fellowship, OH

The strength of Ray Ortlund’s study of Proverbs is its Christ-centeredness. The wisdom of Proverbs loses none of its practical value, but rather is given its ultimate fulfillment as an expression of the wisdom of Christ.

—Graeme Goldsworthy, emeritus lecturer in Old Testament, biblical theology, and hermeneutics, Moore Theological College

  • Title: Proverbs—Wisdom that Works
  • Author: Raymond C. Ortlund Jr.
  • Series: Preaching the Word
  • Publisher: Crossway
  • Print Publication Date: 2012
  • Logos Release Date: 2012
  • Pages: 480
  • Era: era:contemporary
  • Language: English
  • Resources: 1
  • Format: Digital › Logos Research Edition
  • Subject: Bible. O.T. Proverbs › Commentaries
  • Resource ID: LLS:PRWD20PR
  • Resource Type: Bible Commentary
  • Metadata Last Updated: 2022-10-27T04:59:47Z

In the Logos edition, this volume is enhanced by amazing functionality. Important terms link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. Perform powerful searches to find exactly what you’re looking for. Take the discussion with you using tablet and mobile apps. With Logos Bible Software, the most efficient and comprehensive research tools are in one place, so you get the most out of your study.

Raymond C. Ortlund is senior minister at Immanuel Church in Nashville, Tennessee. He has pastored churches in California, Oregon, and Georgia. He was formerly professor of Old Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. He has written several books, including A Passion for God and Isaiah: God Saves Sinners.

Sample Pages from the Print Edition

Noted for its steadfast commitment to biblical authority, its readability, and its clear exposition of Scripture, the Preaching the Word Series is an ideal resource for pastors, teachers, and those seeking to enrich their personal Bible study. This set of commentaries on the Old and New Testaments is edited by renowned pastor, R. Kent Hughes, of College Church in Wheaton Illinois. In this collection, experienced pastors exemplify expository preaching and provide practical applications of 45 books of the Bible, as well as the Sermon on the Mount. Preachers and laity alike will find these commentaries both insightful and accessible.


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  1. adam clinton dixon
  2. Jörg Rüffer

    Jörg Rüffer


  3. Endiah Washington
  4. Richard C. Hammond, Jr.
  5. Brian Ortmann

    Brian Ortmann


  6. Randall Barkman

    Randall Barkman


  7. Ron Cruz

    Ron Cruz


  8. McDonald Mzimkhulu Phambaniso
  9. Mesay Negash

    Mesay Negash


  10. debra woodard

    debra woodard


    Great five star


Digital list price: $18.99
Save $4.00 (21%)