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Old Testament Survey

Proverbs




Key Verses

1:5-7
3:5, 6
9:10


Key Chapters

Chapter 1
Chapter8
Chapter 31


Key Concepts

Wisdom, wise
Instruction
Teach, Taught


Thoughts for Reading

Whom do you go to for wisdom and advice?


Title

The Hebrew title, "Proverbs of Solomon" comes from a term meaning "parallel" or "similar." The idea is one of comparison. The Greek title carries the same concept, using a word meaning "being like" or "similar." Solomon is noted as having written over three thousand proverbs (1 Kings 4:32). Many of them are found in the book of Proverbs. The sections of the book which Solomon wrote are:

Solomon is called “Jedidah” by God (2 Sam 12:25), a name meaning “beloved of God.” Lemuel means “devoted to God.” Could this have been Bathsheba’s nickname for her son? If so, Solomon is, perhaps, describing his view of his mother in 31:10-31?

Other of the savings are credited to “wisemen,” who may be those attending Solomon (1 Kings 4:31). The two sections attributed to them are 22:17--24:22 and 24:23-34. Agur, the son of Jakeh is the named author of section 30:1-33. Chapter 31, or at least 31:1-9, is the work of King Lemuel. This creates some dilemma for there is no Jewish king of that name. One answer is that this is a foreign king, perhaps from Uz, who worshiped the true God.

Proverbs 1:5-7
A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels: 6To understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings. 7The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

PURPOSES

Wisdom, wise, and the like occur some 110 times in this book and may be viewed as the predominant theme and purpose of the work. This is related to the other key terms, instruction or teach, which occur 23 times. Designed to instill an awe for the position of God, the Proverbs are directions for developing skill in living. This still relates to morals, wise dealings, righteousness, justice and equity. The older generation is passing along its wisdom to the younger. The idea is to learn from the experiences of others. These experiences are placed in short, pithy sayings which would be easy to remember and memorize.

Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

There are three general types of parallelism in this book.

  • Synonymous parallelism has the second clause restate the first. An example is:

    Proverbs 19:29
    Judgments are prepared for scorners, and stripes for the back of fools.

    The second type is contrast parallelism where the second clause states an opposite truth from the first. This normally tends to place more emphasis on the importance of the truth of the first clause. An example is:

    Proverbs 13:9
    The light of the righteous rejoiceth: but the lamp of the wicked shall be put out.

    The third type is synthetic or completive parallelism. Here the second clause develops the concept of the first. An example is:

    Proverbs 20:2
    The fear of a king is as the roaring of a lion: whoso provoketh him to anger sinneth against his own soul.

    Some of the Proverbs do not, of course, follow this outline. Many parts of the book are more of a semi-narrative, such as chapter 1 or the things which God hates:

    Proverbs 6:16-19
    These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: 17A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 18An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, 19A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

    Jesus in Proverbs

    Chapter 8 of Proverbs becomes a the personification of wisdom. It is a picture of Christ, “in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col 2:3). In chapter 8 we find that wisdom is:

    • Divine (8:22-31)
    • The source of life (8:35, 36)
    • Righteous and moral (8:8-9)
    • Available to all who will receive it (8:1-6, 32-35)

    Sounds a lot like Jesus, doesn’t it?

    1 Cor. 1:30
    But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:

    Who do you turn to for wisdom?

    Is Christ the source of your understanding?

     

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