PROVERBS, THE BOOK
Russell Earl Kelly, PHD
August 30, 2018
After much study, I have come to a conclusion about how to interpret Proverbs which does not agree with most. The following reasons influenced my decision.
1. My own father was an alcoholic who cheated on my mother and beat me with a belt buckle. Therefore, I cannot accept the many proverbs which command us to obey our father’s instructions and to follow his example. God does not command us to obey wicked persons and follow their examples. Prov 14:7 “Go from the presence of a foolish man, when thou perceivest not in him the lips of knowledge.”
2. The texts which have been interpreted as teaching that God’s providence means that He controls everything that happens reeks of Calvinism and predestination. There are better more sensible ways of interpreting these texts.
3. “My son” occurs 23 times in Proverbs. The first seven (7) verses of Proverbs sets the interpretation. They are given to instruct in wisdom, justice, judgment and equity. And one cannot begin to do this unless one fears the LORD.
4. Verse 8 says “My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother.” In my opinion, based on the 23 repetitions of “my son” and based on its first use in 1:8, the Proverbs were primarily addressed to Solomon’s own son. The son is commanded to obey his father’s instruction BECAUSE his own father a) feared the LORD and b) was wise.
5. Again, in 1:10, God does not command a son to obey his father and follow his father’s example if his father is an overt sinner who does not fear the LORD (Prov 14:7). That is common sense.
6. Again in 3:1 God does not command a sons to obey his father’s “law” if his father is evil and does not fear the LORD (Prov 14:7).
7. Again in 4:1-2 Solomon is speaking to his own children as a father who fears the LORD and is wise. The text does not apply to everybody. This kind of argument is throughout Proverbs and simply cannot be ignored (Prov 14:7).
8. In 14:24 “The crown of the wise is their riches …” only makes sense if that “wise” person “fears the LORD.” The N. T. is full of “wise? persons who were lost because they left God out for their lives.
9. 15:5 says “A fool despiseth his father's instruction: but he that regardeth reproof is prudent.” Common sense teaches that this only makes sense “IF” the father fears the LORD and is wise (Prov 14:7).
10. 15:25 must refer to the father of a house who is proud. In 15:27 the father must be included in the phrase “he that is greed of gain troubleth his own house.” Surely the son is NOT to follow this father’s example.
11. If 16:1 means that God forces the will, then Calvinists are correct. I simply cannot accept that the Bible portrays a God who overrides the free will of every person. The Word does not contradict itself and neither can God. As Wesley taught, God limited Himself when He created man in His own image and gave him freedom of will. The text probably simply means that God’s answer to our prayers is final --- whether we accept them or not.
12. In 16:8, God may “direct my paths” and show me the way to go, but He does not force me to go that way. Yes, there are exceptions to this rule, but those are called “special providence” and not “general.” They do not apply to the vast majority of men.
13. If God’s sovereign rule is forced upon every aspect of a king, then 16:12 makes no sense. “It is an abomination to kings to commit wickedness: for the throne is established by righteousness.” “Sovereignty” and “providence” do not mean the removal of free-will. They simply mean that God’s purpose in creating man will ultimately happen --- He will be glorified (Eph 1:11-12).