(Bible quotations are from the NIV unless otherwise stated)
I believe in the absolute infallibility of scripture. I believe that every word of the Bible is true. I believe that it is "breathed by God", as Paul says in 2 Timothy 3v16. But it's not mathematics. Not every sentence that God has breathed is a categorical statement of propositional fact. Much of it is poetry, much of it is imagery. It's all true, but it's not all literally true. If this troubles you, consider these examples of biblical passages:
This statement is true, but it's not literally true. There are many people who have brought trouble on their family and have inherited money or property, as well as wind.
I think it's obvious that this is a figure of speech. Reckless words hurt us. But there are differences between how they hurt us and how a sword hurts us. It's a metaphor - saying that reckless words hurt us grievously, but saying it in a poetic way. Poetry is just as true as propositional statements, but it expresses its truth in a different way. The book of Proverbs should be read as proverbs, not as categorical statements. Consider:
This proverb has long been accepted. It gained new expression in the early 20th century, in the song "Nobody knows you when you're down and out". But it's not categorically true, and it's not intended to be. I personally know poor people who are not shunned by their neighbours, and you probably do, too. But the proverb is true, nevertheless. It's a concise and poetic way of saying that it's easier to be popular if you've got money to spend, and that some people are so selfish that they will ignore others who are in need.
In other words, every line of the book of Proverbs is true, but you've got to read it with your brain engaged.
And when we allow the wonderful, God-breathed proverbs in this amazing book to speak to us, they change how we think and how we feel. Our understanding becomes more conformed to how God wants us to see things. Proverbs describes itself as being:
And who doesn't want some of that?
It's good to meditate on proverbs one at a time, and let them change us from the inside out. I'd like to share with you a section of this remarkable book, without comment, and suggest that you take time to meditate on these proverbs: