How Proverbs Helps Us to Discern God’s Will

The book of Proverbs is known as a book of wisdom, insight, and no-nonsense instruction. It aims to show us how to live out our faith in God and experience the truly blessed life—a life lived in the fear of the Lord. And one of the many topics addressed throughout the book is that of guidance and decision-making. But if you come to the book of Proverbs with the question, “How can I know God’s will for my life?”, you will be surprised and challenged by the answers you find.

The following is an excerpt from Timothy Keller’s yearly devotional through the book of Proverbs, called The Way of Wisdom. This is the entry for August 13th:

“The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity. . . . The plans of the righteous are just, but the advice of the wicked is deceitful. . . . Do not those who plot evil go astray? But those who plan what is good find love and faithfulness” (Proverbs 11:3, 12:5, 14:22)

NOW HOW BUT WHOM. If you survey Proverbs for methods of discerning God’s will, you will conclude that the book does not talk about how God guides as much as whom God guides. What modern people want is almost a form of magic. They want little signs and feelings in order to determine from God the right decision to make. But that is the way you may guide an infant, who cannot understand you and must be carried or led. The way you would guide a youth or adult is to speak to them so they understand and can make decisions without being led by the hand in every instance.

Through a long path and a lot of work (Proverbs 1-4), we develop integrity and righteousness and it is through these character traits that God guides us. The more we know God, ourselves, the human heart, the order of creation, the time and seasons, the more we will have the wisdom to make good decisions. Modern people want a technique for guidance, “five steps to good decisions.” God offers wise character, hard won over a life time.

Timothy Keller and Kathy Keller, The Way of Wisdom: A Year of Daily Devotions in the Book of Proverbs (London, UK: Hodder & Stoughton, 2017), 225.

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