Proverbs

In an issue focusing on the rising generation, no better book of the Bible could be highlighted than Proverbs. This book of wisdom is full of advice and counsel directed to the young. If there is one message that comes through from Proverbs and should be part of the kingdom discipleship emphasis, it is that life and reality are all about the sovereign Lord who has created a life and reality that has structure, meaning, and purpose as we live according to his design.

One example: 3:1 ff “My son, don’t forget my instruction, and let your heart protect my commands. For the length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you.” Longman says, “…if a son obeys, he will find grace and good favor in the eyes of God and humanity. Or, perhaps to put the same thing in different words, to find grace and good favor in the eyes of God, and humanity, the son must pursue obedience.”

Longman gives the following quote from Bruce Waltke that reflects Waltke’s exposition of Proverbs 3:1-13, “In theological terms, the admonitions in the odd verses of 3:1-12 present obligations of the son, the human covenant partner; the argumentation in the even verses shows the obligations of the Lord, the divine covenant partner. The human partner has the responsibility to keep ethics and piety, and the divine partner the obligation to bless his worshiper with peace, prosperity, and longevity,” (page 130). I use this quote of Waltke from Longman because it summarizes Waltke’s comments in his commentary, but also demonstrates how the two commentaries interface with one another.

Not only would I encourage pastors and teachers to study and teach the book of Proverbs to their people, I would say that if you have these two commentaries, you have the best resources available for this undertaking. Both reflect painstaking exegesis, yet are written in a very usable manner. The appendix of topical studies contained in Longman’s work would provide a good action plan for teaching and studying this book. It selects key topics such as anger, appropriate expression of emotions and use of words, friendship, and women/marriage, to name a few. Longman says with the last topic listed, “A final word: As pointed out earlier in the commentary. Proverbs discusses women and wives and not men and husbands, because in its original setting the book was addressed to young men. However, modern women can certainly read the proverbs and apply them to their relationships with men.”

Both Waltke and Longman demonstrate in these commentaries the importance and relevance of the Old Testament for one’s Christian faith and life. Both books, while reflecting the best of scholarship, are equally useful and readable.

Longman said of Waltke’s work, “Everyone who seriously studies Proverbs needs to read this work.” I would agree but add the same words for Longman’s commentary. Both are successful at dealing with the original context and setting of Proverbs but also in making it applicable to our present day. Both commentaries reflect a consistency with other traditional commentaries but are also willing to consider new possibilities where appropriate

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Charles Dunahoo pastored churches in Georgia and Alabama before being called to his present position as Coordinator for the PCA of Christian Education and Publications (CEP).

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