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Proverbs: Wisdom That Works Hardcover – March 31, 2012

4.8 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“I simply cannot say enough about Ortlund’s treatment of the book of Proverbs. There is depth here—scholarship disguised as pastoral advice. There is breadth here—quoting diverse people from Descartes to Sherlock Holmes. There is heart here—the heart of an evangelist, a pastor, a friend, and one who truly understands the Word. Proverbs: Wisdom that Works shines God’s light on your day in every area of life.”
Woodrow Kroll, President, Back to the Bible; author, Proverbs: God’s Guide for Life’s Choices

“Ortlund not only speaks wisdom, he models how to speak it. He not only lights the way on how to preach Proverbs, but on how to walk in wisdom—and he makes me want to do both! Almost immediately I had two reactions: ‘Why am I not preaching Proverbs right now?’ and ‘Why am I not wiser by now?’ Turn here not just to hear about wisdom, but also to taste it. You’ll find the savor reverently worshipful, theologically rich, and relentlessly practical.”
John Kitchen, Senior Pastor, Stow Alliance Fellowship, Stow, Ohio; author, Proverbs: A Mentor Commentary

“The strength of Ray Ortlund’s study of Proverbs is its Christ-centeredness. The wisdom of Proverbs loses none of its practical value, but rather is given its ultimate fulfillment as an expression of the wisdom of Christ.”
Graeme Goldsworthy, Former Lecturer in Old Testament, Biblical Theology, and Hermeneutics, Moore Theological College

Proverbs: Wisdom that Works models powerful, profound, relevant expository preaching. The expositions are God-centered, Christ-centered, practical, evangelistic, life-changing, and life-giving. For Proverbs 1–9, each exposition digs deeply into the meaning of the passage in its original context, connects it with the New Testament (especially with Jesus Christ), and demonstrates astutely its contemporary relevance with illustrations and quotations. The last seven chapters bring together various proverbs under seven topics: the tongue, humility, family, emotions, friendship, money, and life and death. The oral style provides easy reading for deep, wise insights. A superb source for preachers preparing a series of Christian sermons on the book of Proverbs and for Bible study groups interested in studying biblical wisdom.”
Sidney Greidanus, Professor of Preaching Emeritus, Calvin Theological Seminary; author, Preaching Christ from the Old Testament

“For the pastor who desires to preach Proverbs, this book will prove to be an important tool. Ortlund’s scholarly giftedness and his pastoral passions combine to create an accurate, readable, and Christ-centered guide to Solomon’s great book of ‘love and faithfulness.’”
George W. Robertson, Senior Minister, First Presbyterian Church, Augusta, Georgia; author, Deuteronomy: More Grace, More Love

“I have been an appreciative reader and user of R. Kent Hughes’ series of Preaching the Word. It is therefore a joy to commend the most recent addition to that series in Raymond C. Ortlund, Jr.’s Proverbs: Wisdom that Works. It goes without saying that we in the evangelical Church have long needed an exposition of this book, for it really does deal with 'where the rubber meets the road' on the hard realities of living the Christian life. I enjoyed each chapter of Ray’s exposition and with thanksgiving to our Lord commend this work to all of God’s people—both pastors, leaders and laypersons. It touches on the basic fabric of life with a note of divine authority and practicality.”
Walter C. Kaiser Jr.Colman M. Mockler Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Old Testament and President Emeritus, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

About the Author

Raymond C. Ortlund Jr. is the pastor of Immanuel Church in Nashville, Tennessee. He is the author of several books, including the Preaching the Word commentary on Isaiah, as well as a contributor to the ESV Study Bible. He and his wife, Jani, have four children.

R. Kent Hughes (DMin, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is senior pastor emeritus of College Church in Wheaton, Illinois, and visiting professor of practical theology at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Hughes is also a founder of the Charles Simeon Trust, which conducts expository preaching conferences throughout North America and worldwide. He serves as the series editor for the Preaching the Word commentary series and is the author or coauthor of many books. He and his wife, Barbara, live in Wyncote, Pennsylvania, and have four children and an ever-increasing number of grandchildren.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Crossway (March 31, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1581348835
  • ISBN-13: 978-1581348835
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #81,647 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jim Hamilton on March 22, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Have you ever wondered how Proverbs might be preached?

When I work my way through a book of the Bible, I like to get a robust exegetical commentary along with a more pastoral one and work through them as I prepare to preach.

The exegetical commentary helps me with historical and background details, gives me a check on the way I'm reading the text, and alerts me to intertextual issues I may have missed. I think the best commentary on Proverbs for these purposes is Bruce Waltke's 2 vol. NICOT set.

The pastoral one is especially useful because it affords an opportunity to see how someone has not only interpreted but illustrated and applied the text. The best commentary for these purposes has just appeared: Raymond C. Ortlund Jr.'s Proverbs, in the Preaching the Word series edited by Kent Hughes.

Ray Ortlund is gospel wise, and I'm thankful that he set his heart and mind to the book of Proverbs. May the Lord bless his word in this book!

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In our culture / world today people are struggling to find wisdom in everything they do. They want to be wise about their financial choices, they want to be wise in their selection of a life partner, they want to be wise in their choice of a profession, etc. etc. etc.

So, how do we find wisdom? Well Ray Ortlund reminds us that the book of Proverbs in the Bible gives us a great recipe for wisdom. Proverbs 1:7 tells us, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; fools despise wisdom and instruction." on Page 54 of the book Ray gives us a comment that his father wrote to him when he gave him his first Bible, the comment was, "Bud, nothing could be greater than to have a son--a son who loves the Lord and walks with him. Your mother and I have found this Book (The Bible) our dearest treasure. We give it to you and doing so can give you nothing greater. Be a student of the Bible and your life will be full of blessing. We love you. Dad"

That's a great quote and is exactly how the book of Proverbs talks to each of us. The book of Proverbs are the wise sayings of a father and mother, of a King and scholar, of a wise old mentor and a young learner. There is nothing in the book of Proverbs that won't touch deeply into your life and draw your attention to how to grow in wisdom, stature, and grace in this world.

Something else that Ortlund does in this text is to draw our attention to how Christ can be found in so many of the sayings of the book of Proverbs. You ask how that can be? It's easy, he draws many of the teachings of Jesus in to his discourse to show how they reflect the teachings of Proverbs and thus give us wisdom for living our lives. Christ lived by the wisdom of Proverbs and teaches us that it will be well with our souls if we do the same.
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This commentary on Proverbs is not the typical exegetical commentary. Nor on the other hand is it a specifically theological commentary like Daniel Treier's in the Brazos Theological Commentary on The Bible series. Rather, it is a commentary in a series that is "written by pastors for pastors, as well as for all who teach or study God's word" (back cover). The result is a concise commentary on Proverbs that exposits clearly the main contours of the book, while also using numerous illustrations to bring out the points (and can be mined later in the handy illustration index in the back).

Since this commentary is rather concise, and since Proverbs is a notoriously difficult book to preach straight through, Ortlund opts for a hybrid approach to the text. Rather than working verse by verse through the entire book (see Waltke if that's what you're looking for), he instead focuses on several key passages in the first 9 chapters, and then proceeds topically through the last 22.

Before he gets there, he offers an introductory chapter on why Proverbs matters. Here, Ortlund sets the gospel-centered, pastoral tone for what will follow in the rest of the book. He immediately had me hooked, and I ended up finishing this book rather quickly. I particularly struck by his illustration of the difference between wisdom from above and our own wisdom:

Our natural widom panders to our pride and makes losing unthinkable. But J.R.R. Tolkien's Ring Triology reminds us that our golden rings of power only make us weird, like Gollum. The key to life is not getting more of these golden rings but throwing them decisively away into the fires of Mount Doom (18).
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In my opinion, Proverbs is the one book of the Bible that people struggle to locate the most within the canon. We get a feel and a sense for where all the other books go, and why they are there. But when we come to Proverbs, oftentimes it is difficult to find its proper place and significance within Scripture. Most of us know it is chock full of one-liners and words of wisdom from Solomon, but how does this seeming haphazard collection of sayings impact us as Christians, and further, why should we spend time actually reading this book altogether?

Most people understand the need for a commentary through books such as Genesis or Mark, helping us get acquainted with the narrative. But a Proverbs commentary…what’s that about? And how would Proverbs point us to Jesus when it’s just a laundry list of sayings compiled into an extremely broad book? To tell you the truth, I feel that there is no one more cut out for the job of writing a commentary on Proverbs, and making it relevant and Christ-centered, as pastor Ray Ortlund.

Ortlund’s greatest strength in his writing and preaching style is that he is first and foremost a biblical theologian. While he champions exegesis and linguistics and history, it is his dedication to doing biblical theology that makes his work so compelling. Every story, every verse, is pointing to one overarching story. Proverbs, as Ortlund shows us in his volume for the Preaching the Word commentary series, is not a book that should be isolated in our understanding of the Bible. It is right in the thick of it, literally right in the middle of the text, and for good reason! Ortlund’s style of this particular commentary is primarily addressing the “What’s the point?” apprehension people have with Proverbs, which is what makes this commentary so important.
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