I have seriously been considering the prospect of preaching a sermon series through the book of Proverbs at New Covenant. However, every time I’ve mentioned this to close friends in ministry, I’ve received the same discouraging response: “I don’t know if I’d do that. I think that it might be too hard to preach a series on Proverbs.” I certainly agree that it would be hard, but that’s never a reason not to preach through any given book of the Bible. After all, ministers must have the same commitment as that of the Apostle Paul (Acts 20:27), namely, to preach the whole counsel of God–and we are to preach the whole Christ from the whole of Bible.
There do, however, seem to be three main areas of concern with which ministers are faced when contemplating the prospect of preaching through the Proverbs. The first is that after chapter 8, the remainder of the book is a conglomeration of different Divinely inspired wisdom maxims that don’t seem to flow in any particular order. Certainly, there are themes that are clustered together, but many times it isn’t obvious why one or two Proverbs surface in the midst of two or three clusters of others. The second is that the Hebrew language is quick difficult to interpret at points (which is why our English translations vary so greatly), especially in the latter chapters of the book. The third, and perhaps, most difficult challenge is that of knowing how to consistently and naturally preach Christ and redemptive-history from the Proverbs. Here are some resources with regard to preaching the Proverbs that I have gathered as I prepare to tackle the challenge and jump into the deep end of the pool:
1. Ray Ortlund’s Sermon Series. In 2010, Ray undertook the great challenge of preaching through the Proverbs.These sermons form the substance of his commentary, Proverbs: Wisdom that Works.
“What This Book Accomplishes” (Prov. 1:7)
“Violence” (Prov. 1:8-19)
“A Storm is Coming” (Prov. 1:20-33)
“How to Gain Velocity” (Prov. 2:1-22)
“What a Life of Shalom Looks Like” (Prov. 3:1-8)
“Wisdom for Life at the Extreme” (Prov. 3:9-12)
“Wisdom Creates Community” (Prov. 3:13-35)
“The Two Paths” (Prov. 4:1-27)
“Wisdom Applies to Our Sexuality” (Prov. 5:1-23)
“Responsibility, Opportunity and Unity in the Gospel” (Prov. 6:1-19)
“Why Our Sexuality Matters to God So Much” (Prov. 6:20-7:27)
“A Biblical Worldview is Joyous” (Prov. 8:1-36)
“The Power of Words” (Prov. 18:21)
“Humility: A Better Future” (Prov. 22:4)
“Proverbs on Family Life” (Prov. 22:6)
“Proverbs on Emotions” (Prov. 15:30)
2. Charles Spurgeon’s Sermons and Devotionals – These are transcripts of all the sermons and devotional messages upon which the Prince of Preachers preached and wrote on the Proverbs.
3. William Still’s Sermon Series – The legendary Scottish preacher’s expositional series on the Proverbs. Though not Gospel-centered or redemptive-historical, Still gives us the riches of his pastoral experience as he pontificates on the Proverbs.
4.Tom Schreiner’s Sermon Series – While not a complete exposition of the book of Proverbs, Schreiner’s are full of his renown scholarship and quite exceptional preaching gifts.
5. Nancy Guthrie’s Wisdom that Works – While there is only one chapter on the Proverbs, Nancy gives crucial principles throughout this work for interpreting the wisdom literature in a canonical and redemptive-historical manner.
7. Law and Gospel in the Proverbs – A post that I wrote in 2013 to help structure the Proverbs under these two main theological categories. Many of the Proverbs are simply expositional applications of the Law of God, while others are pointing us to the Grace of God in the Gospel. When the Gospel principles are considered we see that wisdom is personified, fulfilled, exemplified and provided in Christ.
8. Bruce Waltke’s DTS Lecture Series on Preaching the Proverbs – In 2007, Bruce Waltke gave four lectures on preaching the fundamentals of the Proverbs at Dallas Theological Seminary. Waltke’s scholarship on the Proverbs is some of the best.