A Quick Tip for Interpreting the Book of Proverbs Properly

Understanding Proverbs

Some people stumble while reading the Book of Proverbs when they when they fail to interpret those poetical passages properly.


Here is an important tip:


Proverbs are principles,

not laws or promises.

When you read a statement from the Book of Proverbs, keep in mind that the statement is merely a general principle. Those statements are not intended to be a promise for every situation, nor are they immutable laws of the universe that will never be broken. Proverbs are generalities.
For example, in today’s language, I might say something like, “Seatbelts save lives.” Would you agree with that statement?  Sure you would.  But while that statement is generally true, there can be some exceptions to the rule . It is a principal, but it is not a promise. Has anyone ever died while wearing a seatbelt? Yes. However, it is still very wise to wear your seatbelt, because, in general, seatbelts do save lives.

Let me give you an example in the Scriptures of a Proverb that people occasionally misinterpret, and this misinterpretation often leads to a lot of pain and anguish:

Proverbs 4:27 – Train up a child in the way he should go,
and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

I have seen many people over the years stumble when they misinterpret this verse as a law or as a promise rather than as a principle. For instance, I have known some really great parents whose kids grew up and went astray from their faith. Some of those parents have found themselves in great despair, because they have blamed themselves due to their misunderstanding of what that verse in Proverbs says.  They believed that it had to be their own fault.  They must have blown it as a parent.

The reality is that all parents make mistakes. And we all have things we wish we could change from the past. However, that does not mean that any time a child goes astray it is the fault of the parents. Remember, there is this thing called free will. Not even God Himself forces us to do right. Some kids turn away from God even when their home was a very godly environment.  Nevertheless, the general principle is accurate: godly parenting will tend to produce godly children. That is the general principle here.

So, when you go through the book of Proverbs, be careful to interpret them correctly. This great book is filled with many, many amazing principles that can truly change your life forever.


If you believe anything in this blog post has been helpful, I would encourage you to share it on the social media platforms where you are active.  Chances are great that you have friends/connections who will also benefit from the post.


Be sure to sign up at the top right

of this blog to be notified

of new posts!


Chris Russell
 (send me a Facebook friend request!)

Veritas Church (Cincinnati, OH)



For further reading, growth, and encouragement, check out some of these great sites and blogs:

Church Leadership

Church Outreach Blogs

Kirk Cameron

Bible Study Tools Blogs

Desiring God Blog

The Gospel Coalition Blog

Al Mohler

2 thoughts on “A Quick Tip for Interpreting the Book of Proverbs Properly

  1. Awesome advice. I raised 2 children the same and they came out very different. Their little personalities when they were infants were there and that is something inherent in each spirit-ful child. One of my children cut ties with me after 36 years – and after much heartache I came to two realizations. That child loves me; I know that. It is because she loves me that she cut ties so I would not know first hand every day of her decisions that I could never be on board with. She has strayed from the Lord, and has become prideful as so many do – but she knows she is wrong – and that is why she had to cut me off. Second – the Lord gave me a step child that I am very close to as if that child were mine too. Sometimes the Lord has restored something to us, and we are supposed to be in a state of thankfulness so we will know all of our blessings.

Leave a Reply