Hip and Thigh: Smiting Theological Philistines with a Great Slaughter. Judges 15:8

Friday, October 07, 2011

God’s Wisdom in Proverbs–A Review

GWIPEarlier this year I was sent a pre-pub, PDF copy of Dan Phillips's book, God's Wisdom in Proverbs, along with a set of questions asking my varied opinions of what I read.

There was a dead-line for submitting my answers to the questions, so I had to quickly skim through the material. Even though my review was hurried, I was immensely enriched by what I read.  I knew that when the book was finally published, I wanted to have a copy for my personal library. 

Dan's book is a study in the book of Proverbs.  However, it isn't a verse-by-verse, exegetical or technical commentary.  That's not to say Dan doesn't know his stuff, because his study is far from superficial.  This isn’t a 120 page race through Solomon's writings. 

Rather, he has in mind the Bible-loving, truth-adoring, God-worshiping saints as he works through his material.  Dan writes as a wise pastor concerned for the best instruction he can give his people providing them rich, theological insights that lay a ground work so that they too can receive the maximum benefit from reading the Proverbs. Most academic commentaries don't have that in mind.  

Dan's work is outlined in eight chapters and four appendices.  Chapter one is an exposition of Proverb 1:1, and is a general introduction to Solomon as king of Israel and writer of God's divine revelation.  Chapters two through four are for the most part an exegetical and theological study on Proverbs 1:2-7, and Dan talks to us about true wisdom, what wisdom means, how wisdom is founded in the character of God and our fear of him, what fearing God means, and what it means for God's people to truly pursue wisdom. 

In fact, my favorite all time quote from the book is Dan’s working definition of wisdom found in the first chapter: “Wisdom is (in part) the application of objective revelation to the details of life.  … wisdom is skill for living in the fear of Yahweh.” [11, emphasis his]. 

As he moves into chapters five through eight, he draws us to thinking about practical application.  Godly wisdom must be personally applied or it is worthless.  Dan writes, "Wisdom is never merely a matter of knowing facts, but of knowing what to do with them - and doing it." [39]

He then surveys four major areas in a believer's life where wisdom should be worked out.  First is in our worship and trust of God; and next in our relationships with our fellow men; and then in our marriage and raising children. 

These four chapters are particularly well-done, because Dan exemplifies what makes good Bible teaching.  He has the giftedness to communicate profound theology, making it understandable for regular folks and enjoyable to learn.

Four appendices round out the book.  Appendix three was of interest to me, because Dan takes up an exposition of Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go…,” and discusses whether or not this verse is a promise or a threat.  I already knew what I believed about this passage before I read Dan’s take, and he compellingly solidified my position. 

There is also a detailed bibliography of works cited in Dan’s book.  But as an added bonus, he lists all the major Proverb commentaries currently in print – and this especially warmed my heart – he then provides his quick evaluation of a good number of them, telling us what he thinks and whether or not it is a “yea” or “nay” as a worthy contribution.  My favorite comment is for William McKane’s commentary: “Radically liberal; unless you’re a writing academic, don’t bother.”  I couldn’t agree more. 

I am currently going through his book a second time now that I am able to go much slower, chew longer, and digest what I am reading. What I truly appreciate about this second time is how Dan is sharpening my thinking about God.  He has helped me to  re-evaluate what I think about wisdom and how I should convey that to my family and in my broader ministry to other Christians. 

If you are someone who is looking to teach the Proverbs from the pulpit, or in Sunday school, or maybe a home Bible study group; or even if you just want to personally have a better understanding of this wonderful treasure God has given us, you have to get this book.  Dan writes with knowledge of the subject and a passion for God and His people.  Believe me; You’ll benefit greatly from this study.     



Blogger Robert said...

I just started this book last week and it is having the same effect on me. I am thinking more about what it means to be wise and how I should be more emphatic about that with people in my life. Thanks for the review...I'm even more excited to work through the book now (at a slow pace).

7:08 AM, October 07, 2011  
Blogger Rachael Starke said...

Thanks for this, Fred. The book is different that TWTG, and from what I was imagining (NOT in a bad way, mind you!). I've been ruminating over how to describe it, and you've really helped.

11:50 AM, October 07, 2011  
Blogger Kim said...

Thanks for the review, Fred. I have my copy, and have yet to take a good look. This review makes me anxious to begin!

7:29 AM, October 08, 2011  
Blogger DJP said...

Fred, thanks so much for this. Your comments on the pre-version were immensely helpful (and encouraging!),and seeing you weigh in brought an instant smile.

Hope the word spreads.

God bless.

7:44 AM, October 09, 2011  
Blogger Peter said...

Wisdom is skill for living in the fear of Yahweh.

Excellent! Script it out, frame it, and put it up on the wall.

4:59 PM, October 09, 2011  
Blogger DJP said...

(...after getting the book and reading the chapter)


9:59 AM, October 12, 2011  
Blogger Shazza89101 said...

I need to get this book thanks for the heads up Fred...I have always wanted to dive into a book about practically living out the wisdom of God in proverbs...What's so interesting about proverbs is that the wisest man in the world didn't take a lot of his own advice. What's great is that WE can!!! Blessings, Sharon.

1:16 PM, October 20, 2011  

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