I’ve enjoyed Dan’s witty and insightful writing at Pyromaniacs and Biblical Christianity. I was honored to be one of the final, blood-letting editors of his book The World-Tilting Gospel. (I blogged about it briefly here.) But I’ve not fully appreciated his diligence as a student or his eloquence as a writer until reading God’s Wisdom in Proverbs. It’s good. Exceptionally good. Here’s what I like, so far (about 100 pages in as of the time of writing):
- He handles the genre of the book of Proverbs well. He explains what proverbs are—he describes a proverb as “an adage without paddage,” characterized by terseness, imagery, and parallelism. And he explains what proverbs aren’t—airtight promises, exhaustive treatises, or quick-and-easy thoughts to live by.
- He handles the technicalities of the text well. This isn’t an easy book, though its challenging content is made more manageable by Dan’s keep-your-attention style and humor. Loaded with explanations of the original Hebrew, it will stretch pastors, and it might occasionally overwhelm people used to skim-the-cream, 100-page devotionals. But it’s well worth the effort. The amount of time Dan has spent researching is obvious. He’s worked through the Hebrew. He’s consulted the significant commentaries. He’s done a ton of behind-the-scenes work.
- He demonstrates how the book of Proverbs fits with the rest of the Old Testament Scriptures, especially by showing that Solomon wasn’t only blessed with uncommon wisdom, but was also a student of the Word (see 1 Kings 2:1-4; Deuteronomy 17:18-19). Dan’s frequent allusions to the author and his historical setting shed new light on the book for me.
- He relates the ancient wisdom of Proverbs to contemporary issues. He writes as a scholar, but occasionally his blogger flair surfaces with pointed, helpful applications to everyday life.
- He shows that biblical wisdom grows from fellowship with God, especially by his thorough explanations of Proverbs 1:7, 9:10, and 31:30.
- He relates the book of Proverbs to Christ, not through out-of-context leaps at the end of a chapter, but by showing how the gospel is woven into the book itself. He points the reader to Jesus skillfully, legitimately and repeatedly.
I’m enjoying this book immensely, and I’m glad to commend it to you. If you want to understand Proverbs better—and you should—this book will be a great asset to you. It’s the fruit of a lifetime of study by a dedicated student of Scripture. Color me impressed, and appreciative, Dan…er, (ahem) Mr. Phillips.