Book Reviews

Book Review: Walking in God’s Wisdom (Benjamin Quinn)


Benjamin Quinn moves away from the usual Proverbs-a-day styled approach and tries to show us readers the cohesion behind Proverbs. He does this by focusing on God’s way of wisdom in the themes of Proverbs 1–9, such as the fear of the Lord, the two women and two ways, and the ingredients of wisdom. While spends most of his time on the themes in those chapters (chs 1–6), the final two chapters look at the wife of Proverbs 31 (ch 7) and three themes of friendship, finances, and family found throughout the entire book (ch 8). Here Quinn highlights Proverbs’ unity by showing how the two paths of wisdom and folly Proverbs 1-9 are seen throughout Proverbs 10-31. The call to God’s path of wisdom doesn’t stop after Proverbs 9, but those lessons extend throughout Proverbs 10–31.

Wisdom relates to the entirety of creation, and it “serves as our guiding perspective that brings God, the world, who we are as humans, and our role in God’s world into clear focus” (19). We are to be wise and discerning, discerning between good and evil, as well as what is good, better, and best. But we should also be able to see the connections between what exists, as this is God’s world. Here we ought to ask, “What is wisdom’s relationship to X?” Quinn dives further into that question in chapter 8.

Quinn argues that the fear of the Lord, which frames both Proverbs 1–9 (1:7; 9:10) and the entire book (1:7; 31:30), consists of both of terror and respect/reverence/awe (37). We recognize God as the universe’s good and mighty Creator, and we love our lives understanding that this is his world made by his wise rules.

Quinn writes that “to live a Godfearing life means nothing less than a life that promotes reverence for God and his way in the world… Ours is the God of all space and time, not merely of church buildings and Sunday mornings. The fear of the Lord reinforces this to us at every moment, keeping we, the creatures, in awe of him, the Creator” (38).

Chapter 5  looks at wisdom, creation, and Christ. Christ can be the “center of our interpretive lens” (44). He is the Son who perfectly obeyed the Father in perfect wisdom. Jesus is ultimately “the one who ‘lives with prudence’ (8:12); the one who has good advice, insight, and strength (8:14); the one by whom ‘kings reign’ and ‘rulers rule’ (8:15, 16); the one who ‘walk[s] in the way of righteousness, along the paths of justice’ (8:20),” since Jesus is the embodiment of God’s wisdom. But in regards to Proverbs 8:22–31, we must remember that Proverbs 8 is poetry. There are distinctions between wisdom, Jesus, and the God in Proverbs 8.

I found this section (that of Prov 8:22–31) to be quite weak. Quinn keeps Jesus and wisdom separated to a rightful degree. Jesus is not a creature, nor was he created. Yet neither was wisdom. But he doesn’t get much more specific than that. He provides two block quotes by Daniel Treier from his commentary on Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. I have found that commentary to be very helpful in my sermon preparation, but I had a very hard time both understanding what Treier meant and how it related to Quinn’s argument.

Chapter 6 compares and contrasts Lady Wisdom with Lady Folly in Proverbs 1–9. He highlights Lady Wisdom’s tenacity to shout God’s wisdom to all people who will listen. God expects his imagers to walk in “and cultivate his ways in the world” (56). Lady Folly is the exact opposite. Yet when both call out to others, they say the exact same thing (Prov 9:4, 16). Our days are full of choices. How do we know which ones are the right ones?

Quinn observes that all of our decisions are “informed by our tendencies toward either wisdom or folly” (63). We must do as James instructs us to do: “Let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger” (Jas 1:19b). We must “listen long” and listen quickly (63).

Chapter 7 gave a full presentation of wisdom in the lifestyle of the Proverbs 31 wife. All of her varied actions flow from her fear of the Lord (31:30). She is “a woman who is wise in every respect” (68). After this Quinn shows how the wife’s embodiment of God’s wisdom teaches all people—“irrespective of gender, race, ethnicity, social status, or geographical location”—how God’s wisdom is both practical and self-giving (68).

Quinn shows how she nurtures her children and is a brilliant homemaker, but that’s not all she is. Women are more than childbearing homemakers. Quinn observes, “This wise woman flourishes from her home into the rest of society where she contributes to the common good—both of her household and to the broader cultural oikonomia” or “household” or “economy” (71). Quinn adds, “She is not limited to the home, but she is liberated by the culture of love and support from her husband and children who praise her and call her blessed (31:28)” (71). This woman is trustworthy, wise, thoughtful, and hard-working. Since she represents an embodiment of wisdom, both intelligence and practical, she is someone whom the Bible puts forth for all people to emulate. Second to Jesus, this is what it looks like to walk on God’s path.

Chapter 8 takes the lessons we’ve learned from Proverbs 1–9 and 31 and brings them to the themes of friendship, finances, and family in Proverbs 10–31. Wisdom is seen in friendship through selflessness, not thinking too much of oneself, both forgiving slights toward oneself (17:9) and through loving others at all times (17:17). It is self-giving, just as how God gave so much for us to be in his family. Proverbs teaches us to be honest and generous with our money, as well as to not be on guard by its deception. It teaches us about saving up to give an inheritance to our children. Whether we have any money or land to give them or not, we can and should always endow them with our God-given wisdom.

Proverbs also teaches spouses to honor one another other over being annoyed at each other, to value integrity over impurity, whether that be with regards to sex, “materialism, consumerism, selfishness, greed, sloth, or some other expression of the wicked way” (97). Having children brings discipline because maturity is lacking, but to know how to offer proper discipline requires active listening to your children to understand them.

After a conclusion, Quinn has an appendix with six tips on how to read and teach Proverbs. He ends by recommending a few resources on Proverbs.


Initially, I found the first half of the book to move rather slowly, whereas chapters 5–8 are packed with wise-giving information. However, after reading the entire book and perusing those first four chapters again, I understood more of Quinn’s aim. Chapters 2 and 3 are intentionally broad to a degree as they show the contours of wisdom and how it is the answer to our problems, and this leads to chapter 4’s focus on the fear of God, which is the beginning of wisdom. This is all in the introduction, but I had to go back through it before it clicked in my own head.

This was a fine introduction to Proverbs that fits the aim of the series—transformation. Quinn rightly sees Proverbs not as a book of information, but a book to guide us on God’s good paths of wisdom which honors him and is beneficial for ourselves.

Pair this with Moseley’s Living Well and Longman’s How to Read Proverbs.

Other reviews in the Transformative Word series: 


  • Series: Transformative Word
  • Author: Benjamin T. Quinn
  • Paperback: 136 pages
  • Publisher: Lexham Press (June 16, 2021)

Buy it on Amazon or from Lexham Press

Disclosure: I received this book free from Lexham Press. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

Amazon Affiliate Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

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