I wrote ‘Voices’ to try and embed a few of the key principles that we learn from the book of Proverbs. When I wrote the song, we had recently worked through Proverbs at our weekly Gracemount Community Church Bible studies.
While reading through Proverbs around a table, with a mix of mature believers, unbelievers, and new believers who had just recently come to faith but had no background knowledge whatsoever of the Bible, one of the things I was aware of was how this book could easily be misread or misunderstood. Without a thorough grounding of the free work of grace, the gospel, what Jesus accomplished on the cross and in His resurrection, Proverbs could easily be made into a kind of spiritual self-help book. In short, an unbeliever can easily take some vague ‘good advice’ from the book of Proverbs.
Read Through a Gospel Lens
In Gracemount most people will agree with:
- “Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth.” (Prov. 10:4)
- “A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret.” (Prov. 11:13)
I can remember people who were at our studies and not even saved, commenting and agreeing with much of what King Solomon wrote in Proverbs. In fact, if you don’t read it through the lens of sound biblical theology, much of it can sound very similar to a lot of the self-help nonsense around today. Leading people to basically conclude: “Make the right choices and you’ll be ok.”
In our groups, we were careful to study Proverbs through the lens of the gospel. So when I was writing this congregational song, I wanted to ensure that is what came across if it was to be of any significant good to anyone. So I decided to begin with words spoken by Jesus Himself in Matthew 28:18.
“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. . . .’”
By establishing this fundamental truth as the opening line, it helps set up Proverbs 1:
“. . . for gaining wisdom and instruction . . . the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge…”(Prov. 1:2, 7)
This reminds us that wisdom, understanding, and reverent fear are not found within us—we are weak and prone to go astray. The One (Jesus) Who has all the authority is Who we go to for wisdom and understanding, which is what Proverbs is about.
The chorus is the response to this, where we ask the Lord for what is on offer in Proverbs 1, that we would listen out for His voice first: “Speak O Lord with clarity”.
I then wrote a verse for each of the two voices from Proverbs, the warning about woman folly (ch. 6–7) and the invitation of woman wisdom in chapter 8. Again, I wanted to hammer home that wisdom does not come from us. We are the simple hearts. It is the Lord Who reveals the dangers to us. If it weren’t for Him, we would stride headlong into the arms of the seductive woman folly and be lost forever.
So this idea of our need of rescue is where I wanted us to end up, because ultimately the tempters voice is too strong for us, so we must sing at this point of the cross, of Calvary, where Jesus broke the chains that bound us. The only fitting response is to exalt Him with reverent fear and thankful hearts. Only He is worthy! Only he can save us from our foolishness! Hallelulah! Praise to Thee!
Made Alive in Christ
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.(Eph. 2:1–5)
I love these words in Ephesians, and I hope I have done enough in this song to make Proverbs clearer, in the light of the gospel, particularly for our new believers who are learning the basics of our amazing salvation. That the Lord is the One who is our refuge and strength and our ever-present help in times of trouble.
When we read the book of Proverbs, or any other book in the Bible, we must do so in the light and through the lens of the cross. Of Jesus Who has all authority and promises to never leave us. Our souls can only find true rest when, by grace and grace alone, we really understand that.
If you’re interested in reading more about how to read and understand the book of Proverbs, check out Voices: Who Am I Listening To? by Andy Prime.
This is a resource from our First Steps Series. You can read excerpts from that series here and here.