PROVERBS; Heavenly Wisdom

Part 21

 

Proverbs: Heavenly Wisdom

 

Key Text: Chapter 1:7

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

 

The Hebrew title of Proverbs is in essence the 1st verse; “The proverbs of Solomon, the son of David, King of Israel.”  Like the Book of Psalms, however, Proverbs is also a collection of writings which took centuries to complete.  Solomon is most prominent as the primary writer of Proverbs but even he uses the words of other wise men to reinforce his argument.  While Chapters 1-24 were compiled in Solomon’s lifetime we can discern distinct sections indicating that he was at work on this volume at different times or even various periods of his life.

The word “mashal”, translated “proverbs” in English conveys the idea of a brief pithy saying which expresses wisdom.  These sayings found throughout this book contain some of the most famous statements in the Scriptures.  We do well to consider the wise men of Israel carefully because their words, inspired by the Holy Spirit, have much to teach us in the 21st century.

 

1; Solomon’s Advice to Young Men  Chapter 1 – Chapter 9

The opening section of this Proverbs consists of an address aimed primarily at younger people.  It was quite possibly written by Solomon for his son, Rehoboam, as the oft repeated phrase “my son” would indicate.  It seems ironic that Solomon failed to live the life of his Proverbs, particularly in respect of women.  The lack of morality in the messenger, however, does not detract from the one who inspired him, The Spirit of God.  Perhaps as he reflected upon his life in old age, Solomon became painfully aware of his earlier failures.  These first 9 chapters are a complete section commencing and ending with the fear of the Lord. (Key texts for each section are bracketed)

  1. 1:1-7 (v4)                     Introduction
  2. 1:8-19 (v10)                Avoidance of Evil Companions
  3. 1:20-33 (v20)              Poem about Wisdom’s Voice
  4. 2 (v3)                           The Value of Seeking Wisdom
  5. 3 (v5,6)                        The Prosperity of Wisdom
  6. 4:1-9 (v3,4)                 Parental Teaching
  7. 4:10-27 (v10)              Responsibility to Parental Teaching
  8. 5 (v3-5)                        Fatherly Counsel About Immorality
  9. 6:1-3 (v3)                     Valuing Friendship
  10. 6:4-11 (v6)                   Hard Work and Foresight
  11. 6:12-19 (v16)               Things that God Hates
  12. 6:20-35 (v27-29)         The Evil of Adultery
  13. 7 (v6-7)                        A Parable about Immorality
  14. 8 (v35-36)                   The Appeal from Wisdom
  15. 9 (v10)                         The Pinnacle of Wisdom

 

2: Solomon’s Advice for the Nation  Chapter 10 – Chapter 22:18

This section of the book consists of a series of miscellaneous Proverbs touching on practically every area of life.  The only way to approach this section is by identifying the themes that run throughout.

Key Themes

  1. The responsibility of children; 10:1, 13:1, 15:5, 17:2, 17:25, 19:26, 20:11
  2. Hard Work; 10:3-5, 16, 12:23-24,27-28, 13:4, 13:11, 19:24
  3. Use of the tongue; 10:11-13, 18-22, 31-32, 11:9,13, 12:5-6, 12:17-22
  4. Care for the poor; 11:24-26, 12:10, 21:13, 22:16
  5. Honesty; 10:6-9, 11:1, 18-19, 14:5, 16:11, 20:10, 20:17, 20:21
  6. Pride and humility; 11:2, 13:10, 16:18-19, 21:4, 21:24
  7. Blessings of the righteous; 11:5-8, 13:20-21, 14:11, 16:7, 16:20, 22:11
  8. Receiving advice; 11:14,12:1
  9. Judgement; 12:7
  10. Materialism; 13:7-8, 14:20, 15:6, 15:16, 16:8, 22:1
  11. Gospel Warnings; 14:12, 14:27, 16:25, 22:3
  12. Backsliding; 14:14
  13. Anger; 14:17, 14:29, 15:1, 15:18, 16:32, 21:14
  14. National; 14:34, 16:10, 20:2, 20:8, 20:26, 21:31
  15. God’s Sovereignty; 15:3, 15:11, 16:1-4, 16:13-15,16:33,  17:3,  19:21
  16. Divine Chastening; 15:10, 20:30
  17. Learning; 16:16, 16:22-23, 17:27, 19:20, 19:27, 20:5, 21:11
  18. Old Age; 16:31, 17:6, 20:29
  19. Forgiveness; 17:9, 19:11
  20. Contention; 17:14, 17:19, 20:3
  21. Friendship; 17:17-18, 17:24
  22. Family Life; 12:4, 13:24, 19:13-14, 19:18, 20:7, 21:9, 21:19, 22:6
  23. Fearing God; 19:23
  24. Alcohol; 20:1
  25. Saving; 21:20

 

 

3: The Words of Solomon’s Wise Men  Chapter 22:18 – Chapter 24

This section contains the words of the wise which most scholars believe are a collection Solomon made of the Proverbs produced by the wise men of Israel.

22:17-21 (v17)                   The Purpose of Wise Words

22:22-29 (v22,24,26,28)   Four Imperatives

23:1-11 (v1)                       Friendship and Feasting

23:12-35 (v15)                   More Fatherly Instruction

24:1-12 (v1)                        The Vanity of Wickedness

24:13-14 (v13)                    The Sweetness of Good Instruction

24:15-22 (v21)                    Good Men and Evil Men

24:23-34 (v23)                    Final Words from the Wise Men of Israel

 

4: Solomon’s Wisdom Discovered  Chapter 25 – Chapter 29        

This section was added to Proverbs in the days of King Hezekiah when hitherto unpublished sayings of Solomon were discovered.

25:1                                   Title for the Section

25:2-7    (v2)                     The King and his Subjects

25:8-28  (v8)                      Division Among the People

26 (v11)                              Marks of the Fool

27:1-4 (v1)                         Boasting

27:5-19  (v6)                      Friendship

27:20-27 (v23)                   Good Business Sense

28 – 29 (28:2, 29:26)        The Marks of a Godly Society

 

5: The Words of Agur  Chapter 30 (Key Text – 30:5)

The words of this anonymous writer take the form of a poem in a passage which is full of wisdom and rich symbolism, where the great themes of Proverbs are restated.  V. 11-31 contain the words of the “Numerical Proverbs” where much store is placed in the number 4 (v15, 18, 21, 24)

 

6: The Words of King Lemuel  Chapter 31 (Key Text – 31:10)

This second anonymous author produces an inspired acrostic poem about the virtuous woman. Every line between v.10-31 commences in the Hebrew Bible with a different letter of the Hebrew Language producing a beautiful passage extolling the blessed virtues of womanhood, for which every man ought to be grateful.

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