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Ask the Pastor

† Theological musings and answers to selected questions by a confessional Lutheran pastor.






23 October 2006

Understanding Proverbs


Q: Regarding the book of Proverbs, is this a divine or secular book in the Old Testament?

A: Thank you for writing. I believe that yours is the first question I’ve ever received from Kuwait.

Concerning Proverbs, I believe what Saint Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:16-17. He said, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” Since Paul grew up in Judaism and since the Jews of his time considered Proverbs to be part of “all Scripture,” he must have considered Proverbs to be “breathed out by God” (or inspired).

Just because Proverbs tends to be as much practical as it does theological shouldn’t cause us to deny its divine origins. Living a good life and diligently applying ourselves in our vocations is in line with God’s will for all people. Since He made us to be logical thinkers, we shouldn’t be surprised if He occasionally includes pragmatic secular advice in His Word.

Also, we shouldn’t forget that while much of Proverbs deals with mundane daily activities, its heart involves true wisdom. As Proverbs 9:10 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” While many of Proverbs’ topics are secular, even these point out that God ultimately governs and organizes all human activities.

Christians further believe that our earthly vocations are intimately connected with our salvation. No activity is totally “secular,” since we believe that our entire lives are under divine guidance and protection.

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version™, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles.

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Walter Snyder is the pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Emma, Missouri and coauthor of the book What Do Lutherans Believe.

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