The Sluggard And Covenant Faithfulness: Understanding The Nature Of True Virtue And The Call To Industry In Proverbs -- By: Nathanael J. Brooks

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 22:4 (Winter 2018)
Article: The Sluggard And Covenant Faithfulness: Understanding The Nature Of True Virtue And The Call To Industry In Proverbs
Author: Nathanael J. Brooks


The Sluggard And Covenant Faithfulness: Understanding The Nature Of True Virtue And The Call To Industry In Proverbs

Nathanael J. Brooks

Nathanael J. Brooks serves as Coordinator of the Christian Counseling Program and Lecturer in Christian Counseling at Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, North Carolina. He is a doctoral student in Biblical Counseling at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas and holds his MDiv from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky. He writes frequently for the Biblical Counseling Coalition at the intersection of counseling and anthropology and teaches counseling at multiple seminaries internationally. Nate lives in south Charlotte with his wonderful wife and two sons.

The purpose of this paper is to postulate that within the book of Proverbs the call to the sluggard to work is not merely a call to industry, but to covenant faithfulness. I will demonstrate this through three points. First, I will demonstrate that the book of Proverbs is to be read through the lens of the Torah. Though different in genre, wisdom literature serves as an illustration of life lived according to the commandments of Yahweh. Such a reading of the Proverbs as a whole shatters the contemporary emphasis upon categorizing individual proverbs into sacred and secular categories by understanding the so-called “secular” proverbs as necessary explications of the Torah. Second, I will show that New Testament (NT) evidence corroborates this understanding by insisting that work is considered ethically virtuous only when it proceeds forth from faith. This

NT emphasis continues the theme that the Scriptures are interested not just in excellence in execution but upon a restored covenantal relationship with the Lord. Third, I will argue that a desire to glorify God is a requisite presupposition for human industry and work to be considered genuinely morally laudable. The Framinan discussion of “civic righteousness” helpfully gives grounds to understand the work of unbelievers as socially beneficial but morally bankrupt in an ultimate sense. Throughout this paper “industry” and “work” are used interchangeably to denote human labor and effort, whether vocational or otherwise. Similarly, “virtue,” “ethical,” and their variants are used synonymously to designate work and industry that is considered morally acceptable by God.

The Relationship Between Proverbs And The Torah

The relationship between wisdom literature and the other elements of the Old Testament (OT) is substantially debated. James Hamilton asserts that “Proverbs serves as an exposition of the Ten Commandments. Solomon is teaching the Torah t...

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