Heb. mishle, meaning similitudes, proverbs, parables, to represent general truths. Proverbs is a collection of the words of the wise. It stresses the wisdom that man receives of God through his contacting of God and that teaches man how to behave and build up his character in his human life. Since the proverbs were collected mainly by two kings of Judah (Solomon and Hezekiah) in the age of the law, the book of Proverbs may be considered a subsidiary to the law. The law is the portrait of God; as such, it demands that God’s people keep it so that they may be made copies of God for His expression and glorification (see note Exo. 20:11). Proverbs, as a subsidiary to the law, instructs people how to behave and how to build themselves up according to God’s attributes, i.e., according to what God is.
As a part of the holy word in God’s Holy Scriptures, Proverbs should be considered the breath of God for us to breathe in that we may receive the life supply from God (2 Tim. 3:16). Hence, we should read Proverbs by being filled with the fullness of God in our spirit (Eph. 5:18; 3:19). Furthermore, we should read Proverbs in the New Testament Spirit of life (Rom. 8:2), with our regenerated spirit, mingling prayer with our reading (Eph. 6:17-18) in order to mingle the words with spirit and life (cf. John 6:63). While we are still living in this body, we need Proverbs to give us instructions on how to live rightly in many aspects. However, according to God’s economy Proverbs should not be used to build up the old man by cultivating our self and our natural man. Rather, we should reject self-cultivation and condemn the building up of the natural man (cf. Matt. 16:24; Rom. 6:6; Gal. 2:20) and come to Proverbs as a new man (Eph. 4:22-24) by exercising our spirit with the Spirit to contact the word in the spirit of prayer. Then the word in Proverbs will become spirit and life to us, not to cultivate our natural man but to cultivate our regenerated new man. We must be persons who love the Lord and pursue Christ, not self-perfection (cf. Phil. 3:3-14), and who love the Lord’s word in the entire Bible and read it with a praying spirit, not to seek the doctrine of letters but to seek the Spirit and word of life (cf. John 5:39-40; 2 Cor. 3:6), and not to gain any help for self-cultivation but to nourish our spirit that we may live a Christian life that is perfect in the divine virtues, which are the expressions of the divine attributes. If we are such persons, this book will render us nuggets and gems to strengthen our life of pursuing Christ for the fulfillment of God’s economy in producing and building up the Body of Christ, which consummates the New Jerusalem as God’s heart’s desire and ultimate goal.