The book of Proverbs is full of wise sayings that help us to live well each day. We often look at the proverbs as a bunch of rules or sayings to obey but this isn't a sufficient perspective if we want to react to the proverbs properly.
Some of these sayings simply exist to tell us the truths about our world. Sometimes this means explaining the goodness in life and sometimes the bad. For instance, Proverb 20:6 states, "Many a man proclaims his own steadfast love, but a faithful man who can find?" This is a truth about how the state of our world but it doesn't mean this is the way the world ought to be. Faithfulness can be hard to find and people will often proclaim they have a faithfulness but we all fall short in the pursuit of being faithful to others. Does this mean we should give up on the pursuit? No. It just means that the world is full of people who miss the mark and people who lie.
On the other hand, there are proverbs which exist simply to explain how things ought to be! Proverb 20:28 states, "Steadfast love and faithfulness preserve the king, and by steadfast love his throne is upheld." We don't see this always happening. We don't always see this is true, but it ought to be true. In a perfect world this would be the way of things and thus we ought to live in such a way.
A lot of these types of proverbs have an inferred lesson within them. When we read Proverb 20:4, "The sluggard does not plow in the autumn; he will seek at harvest and have nothing", we can take away the wisdom that we should not be sluggards but rather but people who work hard in being prepared for the future.
So we see that most proverbs really do give advice on how to live in this world even if it's not stated outright. The advice isn't always straight forward. Certain proverbs imply that you simply have to make a choice at times and live with the results. Take a look at Proverb 20:2 which states, "The terror of a king is like the growling of a lion; whoever provokes him to anger forfeits his life."
The main points of this proverb are that people of power (kings or authorities) hold great power and with that power can come great terror. The second point is that when a person comes against that power they may suffer and even die. What this proverb doesn't say is to abstain from provoking a king/authority. That's not the wisdom being shared even though some may think that. After all, sometimes those in power must be provoked, even if it results in death.
The truth of this particular proverb is seen in the life of Christ. The way in which he lived and the proclamations that he made were provoking to those in power at the time. When he called himself Lord and Son of God or spoke of his kingdom he was presenting opposition to the kingdom, lordship, and divinity of Caesar. In the United States we might say he was campaigning against the current President, setting up a new nation. Christ died for many reasons and one of those reasons is that he upset the authorities and they put him to death in their terror. Throughout history we've seen people provoke authorities for good reason and been killed as a result. Their death did not mean they were unwise but rather that they were wise and brave.
When we read the proverbs in scripture let us ask ourselves what the real message of the saying is meant to be. Let us ask the Spirit of God to teach us so that we may react as appropriately as possible. May these wise sayings help to form our worldview so that we have a realistic view of the world we live in and the wisdom to walk through it as Christ demands.