Proverbs (2). Emotion

Biblical wisdom asks us to care for our emotions. Contrary to our culture of specialisation, Biblical wisdom does not seperate our physical, mental, spiritual, moral, financial or relational lives. It sees the whole and asks us to as well. [Audio | Notes]

Michael Flynn


Proverbs 3:13-18; 12:20,25; 11:20; 13:12, 19; 17:22; 14:10, 29-30

For further thought

Readings: 3:13-18 (happiness of wisdom) | 12:20,25 (goodness & joy, physical and emotional) cp 11:20 |  13:12, 19 (hope deferred) | 17:22 (cheerful & anxious heart) 14:10 (our solitary experience), 29-30 (passion/envy makes the bones rot, the decay of community and personal health)

According to the book of Proverbs, part of wisdom is to care for our emotions. To offer our emotions as part of our service of a wise life. Proverbs sees human experience as a whole and, unlike our books on Psychology and mental health, Proverbs does not divide the experience of our inner life into increasingly small and difficult to define portions. In Proverbs psychosomatic links between mind and body are described, but also the communal effects of our inner thoughts (14:29,30). In Proverbs our physical health impacts our mental, emotional and financial health. Our moral decisions affect our income. Our wealth affects our relationships. This is something any practical human being will recognise but it stands as a correction on our age of specialisation where we look for answers to our challenges by breaking our problems down into parts. Proverbs sees the whole game.

Q: How, in your experience, do our emotions affect our physical health, decision making, close relationships, business resilience, memory and ability to create and learn?

Q: How often is wise care of your own emotions a factor in your moral decision making, business decisions, effort in your personal relationships?

The tree of life

A theme in Proverbs is that to obtain wisdom is like having access to the tree of life. (eg. 3:13-18). This illustrates Proverb’s main idea that the path of wisdom promotes a successful life but the path of foolishness is a living death.

The tree of life in Genesis 2 is a symbol of the presence of God, who is life, and his abililty to create and sustain life. In Genesis 3 humanity is kept from that tree so they cannot live forever in a fallen world with a rebellious soul.

Q: How does the desire for wisdom sustain and nurture life?

Q: The words in Proverbs 3:13-18 for blessing and peace are more wholistic than our English words imply. Peace means not just the absence of strife but an integrated life at rest in relationships, finances, work, health and mind. How would pursuing wisdom in your life now bring you closer to experiencing these blessings?

Joy and goodness, anxiety and weight, malice and burdens, envy and community, isolation and communication.

In the remaining references above Proverbs reflects upon the experience of our inner lives and their impact on our health, emotions and social lives. It takes time to reflect carefully on these brief sayings but they summarise a great deal of insight.

Q: What can we learn about our own hearts and circumstances from these verses?