I've spent the last month working through Proverbs one chapter a day and it has been interesting to hear these tidbits of wisdom. As wisdom literature, these are not foolproof promises but general truths about how the world works. But I struggle with differentiating these with other parts of Scripture because they are a part of God's living Word.
As I've been reading I've found four main themes throughout Proverbs:
1) True wisdom accepts discipline from our earthly parents and heavenly father rather than choosing to ignore it.
2) The wise man or woman keeps their steps far from sexual immorality or even the appearance of it. The world celebrates impurity, but the wise man keeps his steps far from the house of the wayward, seductive woman.
3) The wise man keeps his tongue from any trouble. Many gossip, slander, and say all kinds of harmful things, but the wise man keeps his tongue secure.
4) The righteous prosper and the wicked perish.
The first three seem like wise words. It's good to listen to parents, sexual impurity brings down great people (especially in the church it seems), and our tongues our powerful tools for good or bad as James points out.
But I'm having a hard time with the fourth theme. Do the righteous prosper and wicked perish, because all around me I see signs that say otherwise? Bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people. That seems like better logic and wisdom. Wouldn't the writer of Proverbs be better off putting a disclaimer on this proverb? He could say this is generally true, but the opposite is true at times. But the writer refuses to say it. I shy away from and condemn a prosperity gospel many times, but does Scripture teach some of this? I don't know. This is just another question in my seemingly endless bag of questions I am writing for God to answer when I enter the pearly gates. We shall see.