Proverbs is overflowing with useful wisdom for everyday life that holds up surprisingly well. The emphasis on the importance of knowledge is particularly striking and welcome after reading so much "do what I command, or else" in the previous books. I, and people like me, probably would have been a lot more receptive to religion if church leaders focused more on content like this and less on fairy tales, hell and brimstone and all that hippie acoustic guitar stuff. I don't care if it is religious or secular, I could never imagine subscribing to a philosophy of life that wasn't rooted in common sense and knowledge. I think if people would pay more attention to the lessons taught in Proverbs and worry less about the bits condemning men laying with other men then religion could have a much more positive impact on society than it currently does.
Many people look to the Bible in a time of personal crisis. This is where they should start. I think everyone should give Proverbs a look. If a crotchety atheist like myself can gain some insight from it anyone should be able to. It reads an awful lot like a book of sayings from Confucius or even your standard book of quotes. And who doesn't love quote books? I'm actually working on memorizing a few of them for when people come to me for advice. For example:
Proverbs 18.2 is absolutely perfect for all of the pundits on cable news: A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing personal opinion.
If a friend of mine is having trouble with his crazy girlfriend I could offer Proverbs 11.22: Like a gold ring in a pig's snout is a beautiful woman without good sense.
Proverbs 19.8 might be the truest thing I've read in the Bible so far: To get wisdom is to love oneself; to keep understanding is to prosper.
During the latest Lil' Weezy video I can remember Proverbs 13.7: Some pretend to be rich, yet have nothing; others pretend to be poor, yet have great wealth.
If I'm ever unsure about confessing my feelings to a pretty girl Proverbs 27.5: Better is open rebuke than hidden love.
Lastly, Proverbs 29.20 made me look at myself a little differently yesterday and inspired me to write the post "In the Mirror": Do you see someone who is hasty in speech? There is more hope for a fool than for anyone like that.
Some of these Proverbs I used in jest, others I showed in a more practical light, and one even helped me with something in my personal life. They can all be used for different things. When it comes to knowledge and truth, versatility and practicality breed timelessness and that is why these Proverbs, in my opinion, are still valuable today.
By the way, I wrote applications for a lot more verses but in the interest of brevity I didn't post them here. I'll put them in the comments though if you enjoyed them.