Proverbs about Righteousness
The book of Proverbs in the Old Testament is filled with both instruction and wise sayings/reminders. The book is an anthology of various sayings that were likely collected over the course of Israel’s history and compiled together as instructions, particularly for young folks (boys mostly or entirely) as they come of age. However, the wisdom contained within the book is applicable to all of us throughout our lifetimes, in most cases.
Over the next several weeks, I would like to simply focus in on Proverbs 10, listening to the major themes that are present in the wisdom sayings of that chapter, for the themes contained in that chapter are also present in the remainder of the book. First, righteousness.
Proverbs 10 presents us with several themes that carry through the book of Proverbs: righteousness, good and proper speech, wealth and poverty, and wisdom. This week, let’s examine the theme of righteousness.
Righteousness is the main theme of this chapter. It shows up in 14 or 15 of the 32 verses of this chapter (2, 3, 6, 7, 9, 11, 16, 20, 21, 24, 25, 27, 28, 30, and 31). To be righteous is ultimately about life in chapter 10 of the book of Proverbs. Right off the bat in verse 2 it says, “righteousness rescues people from death,” and later in verse 16 it says, “the wages of the righteous lead to life.” Ultimately, we learn from the book of Proverbs that to live and act righteously is to bring life to the world, and to have the fullest life possible.
As I read these instructions and these sayings in Proverbs 10, I cannot help but to be reminded of Jesus as well. In John 10, Jesus expressed a very similar idea about himself and his role among us–Jesus came so that we could have life and have it abundantly.
All throughout Scripture, I believe, this has been one of God’s primary goals for humanity and creation. The opening chapters of the Bible present God’s creating the world and giving life to all that exists.
When God shows up to Abraham in Genesis 12 (and later to people like Hannah in 1 Samuel 1 and Elizabeth in Luke 1), God gives a promise that where before there had been no life but instead had been barrenness, God would now bring life!
In Exodus, God leads the people out of captivity to the opportunity of new life. And not only that, but God does so even with the threat of death upon the people of Israel as Pharaoh had previously chosen to kill all of the infant boys of the people of Israel to prevent a deliverer from rising up among them.
In the wilderness, God provides food and water to the rebellious people, and God gives the Law–not as a restrictive list of useless, meaningless, or arbitrary set of rules for the people to follow just to make God happy. Instead, the Law is meant to give life to the people! To give them an opportunity to live with God!
And when we arrive to Jesus, all of these stories seem to coalesce in him. In the beginning, John claims, Jesus was there bringing life to creation. Jesus brings life where there previously hadn’t been any; Jesus brings the people out of bondage to sin and death and back to life (as well as having his own story mirror the story of the threat against the baby boys out of whom a deliverer might be born); Jesus offers his body and blood to us as spiritual food and water to drink, even in our rebelliousness; and Jesus creates the perfect opportunity for us to live with God forever.
Jesus is about life!
And the book of Proverbs tells us that one sure way to bring life into this world, to participate in the life that God desires for us, is to live righteously.
May we choose righteousness today, this week, and for the remainder of our lives. For when we do, we bring life to the world!