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Navigate | A Sermon Series Through Proverbs


Prussian military commander Helmuth von Moltke, who lived from 1800 to 1891, wrote, “No plan of operations reaches with any certainty beyond the first encounter with the enemy's main force.” Former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson said something similar when he quipped, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” Both men pointed out that no matter how great a plan one has for a battle, whether in war or a boxing ring, adversity will come and force you to navigate unexpected circumstances. Helmuth von Moltke said it more eloquently, Mike Tyson said it more memorably.

Navigating life is complex and challenging. Moreover, as the Lord’s people, we are called to live our lives in a pleasing way to Him. We are called to do what is good and right in his eyes. The Lord gives us good commands to this end. Yet, when we set out to live our lives for the Lord, we face opposition, temptation, and unforeseen circumstances. In 1 Peter 4:12, we read, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” Sometimes it is hard to do what is good and right during a trial because doing the right thing is costly. But there are also times when it is hard to do the right thing because we don’t know what the right thing is. We regularly face situations and circumstances that catch us off guard and perplex us. Knowing what is good and right in each case is not always obvious. Navigating life in a sinful and broken world is tough! Thus, we desperately need wisdom. Thanks be to God that he graciously gives wisdom to those who seek it in him!

The book of Proverbs is one way God imparts wisdom to his people. The Lord gave Solomon understanding and inspired him and a few others to write the words of this precious book. Proverbs is full of wise sayings and instructions, often said in a memorable way, written to help us walk in righteousness. However, we need to understand that Proverbs is not a detailed playbook providing instructions telling us exactly what to do in every situation. Nor is it a book of promises that, if followed, will guarantee specific outcomes. Instead, Proverbs provides us with wise sayings and principles from the Lord, which help us navigate the complexities and challenges of life and walk in his righteousness.

Rightly applying Proverbs to our lives requires thoughtful reflection and meditation. In a world that values instant gratification, we need to slow down and patiently seek the treasure the book of Proverbs affords us. It will be worth it! Proverbs 3:14-15 tells us:

Blessed is the one who finds wisdom,
    and the one who gets understanding,
for the gain from her is better than gain from silver
    and her profit better than gold.
She is more precious than jewels,
    and nothing you desire can compare with her.

While the Lord granted Solomon extraordinary wisdom, he sent one whose wisdom surpassed Solomon's. In Isaiah 11:1-5, the prophet Isaiah offered hope of the Messiah who would come. He described him as having the Spirit of the Lord, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, who will delight in the fear of the Lord. The Lord fulfilled this promise with the coming of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

As we go through the book of Proverbs, we pray that the Lord will grant us the wisdom we need, that we will acknowledge him in all our ways, that he will make straight our paths, that we will walk in righteousness, and that we will become more like Jesus, who is the embodiment of the wisdom in Proverbs.