The Book of Proverbs

From Issue: Discovery 7/1/2017

A “proverb” (in Hebrew usage) is a moral statement about everyday life. Proverbs are concise bits of advice about life and reality. Proverbs practically point people down the pathway to a good life. They cut through the problems that we humans so typically make up in our lives by showing how to live a godly life in preparation for eternity. Solomon wrote the entire book except the last two chapters (which were written by two unknown people: Agur and King Lemuel—though some think the latter is also Solomon). This collection of proverbs, which has been preserved by God, must have been among the thousands written by Solomon (1 Kings 4:32).

Central Theme:

Rather than just a lot of random bits of advice, Proverbs focuses on the wisdom gleaned from the Law of God. Wisdom is the general subject matter of the book, but the central theme is stated in 1:7—“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” In other words, the starting point for life and the real essence of wisdom is the fear of God (mentioned 21 times in Proverbs).

True living cannot happen without first a real respect for God. A healthy fear of the Lord entails a respect for God that includes obedience and submission to His will (Job 28:28; Psalm 111:10; Ecclesiastes 12:13). A person’s life cannot really even get started until there is a humble respect for God and His will. Once there is that humble respect for God, a person can listen to God and try to live a life in keeping with the wisdom of the Proverbs—about pride and humility, wealth and poverty, sin, foolishness, goodness, use of the tongue, revenge, strife, gluttony, justice, love, lust, labor, laziness, death, friends, the family, and many other things.

Outline of Proverbs
1-9  The importance of wisdom
10-24  375 proverbs that stress righteous living and discourage wicked living
25-29  Proverbs of Solomon (copied by Hezekiah’s men) about human relationships
30  Agur’s words of widsom and numbered sayings
31  Lemuel’s mother’s advice for kings and a description of the woman of virtue


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