LESSON 21 THE BOOK OF PROVERBS
INTRODUCTION: The essence of the Book of Proverbs is the teaching of moral and ethical principles. The peculiarity of the book is that it is largely given over to teaching by contrasts.
THE KEY WORD - WISDOM "The ability to live life skillfully." Living a godly life in an ungodly world, however is no simple assignment. Proverbs provide God's detailed instructions for His people to deal successfully with the practical affairs of everyday life: how to relate to God, parents, children, neighbors, and governments. Solomon, the principal author, uses a combination of poetry, parables, questions, short stories and wise maxims to form the common sense and divine perspective necessary to handle life's issues.
AUTHOR: Solomon's name appears at the beginning of the three sections that we wrote: 1:1 for Chapters 1-9, 10:1 for Chapters 10:1-22:16, and 25:1 for Chapters 25-29. According to I Kings 4:32, he spoke 3,000 proverbs and 1,005 songs. Only about 800 of his 3,000 proverbs are included in the two Solomonic collections in the book.
I Kings 3:5-9__________________________________________________
I Kings 4:29-31________________________________________________
TIME: Proverbs is a collection of topical maxims and is not a historical book. It is a product of the wisdom school in Israel. According to Jeremiah 18:18 and Ezekiel 7:26, three groups communicated to the people on behalf of God: The priests imparted the Law; the prophets communicated the divine Word and visions; and the sages or elders gave counsel to the people. The "Preacher" of Ecclesiastes is a good example of the wisdom school. "My Son" in Proverbs and Ecclesiastes evidently refers to the pupil. This was parallel to Samuel's role of heading Israel's school of Prophets.
Solomon's proverbs were written by B.C. 931 and his proverbs in Chapters 25-29 were collected by Hezekiah about 230 years later. (Hezekiah reigned from B.C. 715 to 686) Solomon probably wrote his proverbs in his middle years, before his character began to decline into carnality, materialism and idolatry.
CHRIST & PROVERBS: In Proverbs 8, wisdom is personified and seen in its perfection. It is divine (8:22-31), it is the source of biological and spiritual life (8:35-36, 3:18), it is righteous and moral (8:8-9), and it is available to all who will receive it (8:1-6, 23-35). This wisdom became incarnated in Christ!
I Cor. 1:30____________________________________________________
SURVEY OF PROVERBS
Proverbs is the most intensely practical book in the Old Testament because it teaches skillful living in the multiple aspects of everyday life. Its specific precepts include instruction on wisdom and folly, the righteous and the wicked, the tongue, pride and humility, justice and vengeance, the family, laziness and work, poverty and wealth, friends and neighbors, love and lust, anger and strife, masters and servants, and life and death. Proverbs touches upon every facet of human relationships, and its principles transcend the bounds of time and culture. PROVERB MEANS - Comparison, similar, parallel. Proverbs are short statements drawn from long experiences, defined as simple illustrations that expose fundamental realities. The Book of Proverbs says things, as you have noticed, in short repeat of back-up statements. This is called parallelism. Three kinds of parallelism are pointed out:
SYNONYMOUS PARALLELISM - Here the second clause restates what is given in the first clause. Ex: Proverbs 19:29
CONTRAST PARALLELISM - A truth stated in the first clause is made stronger in the second clause by contrast with an opposite truth. Ex: Proverbs 13:9
SYNTHETIC (OR COMPLETIVE) PARALLELISM - The second clause develops the thought of the first. Ex: Proverbs 20:2
Proverbs are inspired and placed in the Scripture by the Holy Spirit of God. The spiritual value comes in the reading of these Proverbs as compared to modern man's so-called proverbs. Man says such things as: The best things in life are free. He who laughs first laughs last. - If you snooze you lose, etc. The Word of God says: In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths. Proverbs 3:6, Proverbs 9:10 - The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, etc. The words "wisdom" and "instruction" in 1:2 complement each other because wisdom means "skill" and instruction means "discipline". No skill is perfected without discipline. Wisdom is more than shrewdness or intelligence. Instead, it relates to practical righteousness and moral acumen.
REMEMBER: The Book of Proverbs may be divided into six segments: THE PURPOSE OF PROVERBS (1:1-7) THE PROVERBS TO THE YOUTH (1:8-9:18) THE PROVERBS OF SOLOMON (10:1-24:34)
THE PROVERBS OF SOLOMON COPIED BY HEZEKIAH'S MEN (25:1-29; 27) THE WORDS OF AGUR (30:1-33) THE WORDS OF KING LEMUEL (31:1-31) READ: Proverbs 1:5
1. What is a Proverb? 2. List at least twenty subjects dealt with in the Book of Proverbs.