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Introduction to the Books of the Bible

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BOOK : Proverbs

Description : Teaching and Proverbs of King Solomon (mostly)

Author: Various – see below

Date written : sometimes mostly in Solomon's reign, probably somewhere about 950BC

Chapters : 31


Brief Synopsis:


•  Gets its name very obviously from the fact that it is made up of Proverbs written by King Solomon
•  The first 9 chapters tend to be personal speaking to his sons but thereafter every chapter is made up of a number of proverbs from the different writers


Outline :


Ch.1-9 Father to Son(s) : The Superiority of the Way of Wisdom
Ch.10-22 The Main Collection of Solomon's Proverbs
Ch.22-24 Sayings of the Wise
Ch.25-29 Hezekiah's Collection of Solomon's Proverbs
Ch.30 The Sayings of Agur
31:1-9 The Sayings of King Lemuel
31:10-31 Epilogue: The Ideal Wife


Key Verses :


The purpose of the book

1:1-7 The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel :

•  for attaining wisdom and discipline;
•  for understanding words of insight;
•  for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right and just and fair;
•  for giving prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the young - let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance
•  for understanding proverbs and parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise.

A basic teaching of wisdom

3:5-10 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones. Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.

Impartation from Fathers to sons

4:3-6 When I was a boy in my father's house, still tender, and an only child of my mother, he taught me and said, "Lay hold of my words with all your heart; keep my commands and you will live. Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or swerve from them. Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you.

Wisdom personified – a beautiful picture of the Son with the Father at Creation

8:22-31 "The LORD brought me forth as the first of his works, before his deeds of old; I was appointed from eternity, from the beginning, before the world began. When there were no oceans, I was given birth, when there were no springs abounding with water; before the mountains were settled in place, before the hills, I was given birth, before he made the earth or its fields or any of the dust of the world. I was there when he set the heavens in place, when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep, when he established the clouds above and fixed securely the fountains of the deep, when he gave the sea its boundary so the waters would not overstep his command, and when he marked out the foundations of the earth. Then I was the craftsman at his side. I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence, rejoicing in his whole world and delighting in mankind.


An almost random selection to show styles

a) where one half is the opposite of the other half (most are like this)

10:4 Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth.
10:23 A fool finds pleasure in evil conduct, but a man of understanding delights in wisdom.
11:6 The righteousness of the upright delivers them, but the unfaithful are trapped by evil desires.
12:1 Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid.

b) where one half matches the other half

10:10 He who winks maliciously causes grief, and a chattering fool comes to ruin.
10:18 He who conceals his hatred has lying lips, and whoever spreads slander is a fool.
11:22 Like a gold ring in a pig's snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion.
12:28 In the way of righteousness there is life; along that path is immortality.
16:28 A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends.

c) Instructive Proverbs, i.e. you should do this (they come in different forms)

16:15 How much better to get wisdom than gold, to choose understanding rather than silver!
17:14 Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out .
20:19 A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much.
22:28 Do not move an ancient boundary stone set up by your forefathers.
(NB> These are rare until you come to the ‘wise sayings' in chapter 22, and they make us realise that most ‘proverbs' are basically principles of life and obviously there is implied, in Solomon's mind, that you would do well to heed these things)

d) where one half declares a consequence of the other

16:3 Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.
19:20 Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise.
21:16 A man who strays from the path of understanding comes to rest in the company of the dead.
23:9 Do not speak to a fool, for he will scorn the wisdom of your words.



Some subjects to check out:


The Fool: 10:8,10,14,18,23, 11:29, 12:15,16, 13:16, 14:16, 15:2,5,14, 17:7,10,12,16,21,28, 18:2, 19:1, 20:3, 23:9, 24:7, 26:1,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12, 27:3,22, 28:26, 29:9,11,20, 30:22,32


The Wise: 1:5,6, 3:7,35, 6:6, 8:33, 9:8,9,12, 10:1,5,8,14,19, 11:29,30, 12:15,18, 13:1,14,20, 14:1,3,16,24,35, 15:2,7,12,20,24,31, 16:14,21,23, 17:2,28, ,18:15, 19:20, 20:1,26, etc. etc.


The Righteous : 2:20, 3:33, 4:18, 9:9, 10:3,6,7,11,16,20,21,24,25,28,,29,30,31,32, 11:8,9,10,19,21,23,28,30,31, 12:3,5,7,10,12,13,21,26, 13:5,9,21,22,25 etc. etc.


The Tongue: 6:17,24, 10:19,20,31, 11:12, 12:18,19, 15:2,4, 16:1, 17:1,4,20,28, 18:21, 21:6,23, 25:15,23, 26:28, 28:23, 31:26


Look yourself to see what words come up often.



Concluding Comments


•  Proverbs is an unusual book in that although it is teaching it isn't easily absorbed teaching.
•  Yes, it can be read straight through (esp. passages like Ch.1-9 or Ch.31) and in some measure individual proverbs are good for meditation purposes.
•  Proverbs is a book that is either loved or hated – but you'll have to read it before you know which person you are.


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