It is a dangerous thing to read the Bible, specifically when we demand from it an answer to a pressing decision.
Sometimes we do things like Bible roulette. We close our eyes, “God, I need you to speak to me…(flipping pages)...Now!” Or we try to get a specific verse to answer a question it was never meant to answer. We try to apply it anyway, and it doesn’t work, so we get disappointed with God. I’ve done this so many times.
When it comes to discerning God’s will, I’ve found that people need to differentiate between these three categories of speech: (1) law, (2) promise, and (3) proverb.
Law is a command from God that I must always obey.
Promise is a guarantee from God that will always be true.
A proverb is a short description about the way things generally go in this world.
Notice the difference? Proverbs are situational. Bible scholar Tremper Longman writes, “Proverbs don’t teach a universally valid truth. Many proverbs are only true if stated at the right time and in the right circumstance.”
If you try to ignore God’s law because of your situation, you will be disobedient. If you doubt God’s promise, you will be discouraged. But if you misapply a proverb, you will be disappointed.