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Proverbs

July 21, 2010

Introduction
I. Purpose      Proverbs 1:1-7

II. Wisdom for My Son[s]      Proverbs 1:8-9:18
A. Lesson #1      Proverbs 1:8-33
B. Lesson #2      Proverbs 2:1-22
C. Lesson #3      Proverbs 3:1-35
D. Lesson #4      Proverbs 4:1-27
E. Lesson #5      Proverbs 5:1-6:19
F. Lesson #6      Proverbs 6:20-35
G. Lesson #7      Proverbs 7:1-9:18

III. The Wisdom Proverbs of Solomon      Proverbs 10:1-22:16
A. The Wisdom of a Righteous Life      Proverbs 10:1-32
B. The Wisdom of a Righteous Character      Proverbs 11:1-12:4
C. The Wisdom of Righteous Behavior      Proverbs 12:5-22:16

IV. Additional Wisdom from Solomon      Proverbs 22:17-29:27
A. Sayings from other Wise Men      Proverbs 22:17-24:34
B. Hezekiah’s Compilation      Proverbs 25:1-29:27

V. The Wisdom of Agur      Proverbs 30:1-33

VI. The Wisdom of Lemuel’s Mother      Proverbs 31:1-31

Commentary

Introduction

Proverbs is a compilation of wise sayings, sayings of merit because life has proven them to be true. Solomon is believed to be the author of the majority of these “pithy” sayings and the compiler of many more. But Proverbs also has many sayings given by other wise men. Some are identified and some are unknown. King Hezekiah is thought to have played a major role in the assembly, editing, and publishing of Proverbs but the final version is believed to be post-exilic.

I debated where to place this in my Commentary and decided to place it together with Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon because, like those books, it does tell us about Solomon. As stated in the introduction to these other books, Ecclesiastes describes Solomon the Philosopher, the Song of Solomon describes Solomon the Lover, and Proverbs describes Solomon the Wise Man. So along with Kings where we see Solomon as King, we see that Solomon plays a prominent role in the Word of God even though he erred and disobeyed God’s statutes.

Proverbs contains both the Wisdom of God and the wisdom of man. It is a book of “words to live by”. The emphasis is on man’s relationship with God and man’s relationship with man. It is much like God’s Law given to Moses, the Ten Commandments. Commandments 1-4 concern man’s relationship to God and Commandments 5-10 concern man’s relationship to man. God’s Law and its’ true meaning and application was further explained in Leviticus and Deuteronomy. Proverbs takes God’s Law and puts it into poetic pithy couplets to make it easy to remember. Unfortunately the Pharisees took God’s Law to the extreme, writing 613 rules of legalese and thereby losing the true meaning and purpose of the Law.

Proverbs is referenced by both Peter and Paul and many of the Lord’s parables seem to have their root in the Proverbs. The term “my son” occurs frequently which has two possible meanings. It can refer to the Lord speaking to Solomon [I Kings 3:5-12] or it can refer to Solomon speaking to his sons. I believe both are correct but I have outlined the book as if it is Solomon instructing his sons in preparation for them to be the next king.

Proverbs is a difficult book to outline because it is a book of sayings and it tends to continually jump from subject to subject. The study of Proverbs is best done by topic but I have found some organizational continuity as have other commentators. Chapters 1-9 seem to have the most continuity and organization relating to thought and purpose. From thereon we seem to have a compilation of wise sayings until we reach Chapter 31’s description of a wise woman of noble character who fears the Lord. In many ways, Chapter 31 is the climax of the whole book of Proverbs.

Purpose      Proverbs 1:1-7

Verses 1-7 lay out a very clear purpose and objective for the writing and collection of these wise sayings. These proverbs will help men to:
1. Become wise.
2. Lead disciplined sober lives, exercising self-control. In other words, to become meek.
3. Gain insight and understanding about life.
4. Do what is right, just, and fair.
These proverbs are even helpful to those people we already consider as wise. One can never be finished learning or understanding from one another. Those who are wise recognize this fact. The fool does not.

However, there is one principle above all principles and it is found in verse 7.
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.”
In other words, the fear the Lord will lead us in the right direction, to the right principles, to right actions, to being just and fair to others, to doing good instead of evil etc.

The “fear of the Lord” does not mean to be afraid although His omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence certainly can and will cause us to be afraid. When God and/or His angels visit us they usually preface their remarks with “Do not be afraid”. The “fear of the Lord” can best be defined as a reverent acknowledgment that God is God and is sovereign over all.

Wisdom for my Son[s]      Proverbs 1:8-9:18

Lesson #1      Proverbs 1:8-33

In verse 8 Solomon begins instructing his son to listen and to follow his mother’s teachings. His second words of advice are to obey the 5th Commandment, to honor his father and mother. [His first words of advice were in verse 7 exhorting his son[s] to obey the first 4 Commandments, that is to fear the Lord.] To be obedient to one’s parents is the first step in gaining respect, recognition, and having a good self image in the culture/society in which one lives. Respect for elders gains respect from your peers.

Solomon warns his son not to follow the crowd, especially when “the crowd” wants to harm someone and/or steal from them [vs. 10-12]. This is the way of destruction, of evil. Evil doers are always found and punished. Verses 12-19 actually point out the wisdom of the last 5 Commandments.

Beginning with verse 19, Wisdom is personified and instructs. Remember, Wisdom begins with “the fear of the Lord”, the acknowledgment that God is Sovereign, Almighty, All-powerful, All-knowing, and Ever-present. Wisdom and the Lord are synonymous. We are not only to listen to our parents instruction but we are to go a step further and listen to our Creator God, our heavenly Father’s instruction through the Lord[mother] and the Holy Spirit [her voice] as stated in verse 20.

It becomes clear in verses 22-27 that disaster comes into our lives when we refuse to listen to the Lord. We have been given the right information for knowing what is wise, that is fearing the Lord, but our refusal to listen or follow the Lord’s advice/word leads to disaster. The choices we make in life directly affects the quality of our life. Failure to listen and obey God’s Word has disastrous consequences.

Wisdom [the fear of the Lord] also warns us that the decisions we make can’t be reversed, particularly the wrong decisions we make. We can’t go back in time. The Lord calls, the Lord instructs, the Lord exhorts us in the right way to live but if we choose to ignore Him, the Lord moves on. Living a life of safety without fear, an eternal life without death, a life of faith and hope, requires us to listen to the voice of God, the voice of Wisdom, and choose to follow and obey Him [vs. 28-33].

Remember, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom.

Lesson #2      Proverbs 2:1-22

Fearing the Lord is the basic key and the critical principle in life and for life. In order to understand what it means to “Fear the Lord” one must:
1. Accept and believe these words as truth and wisdom [vs. 1].
2. Apply these words, seeking an even deeper insight and understanding of these truths [vs. 2-3].
3. Consider these truths as great wealth [vs. 4].
In other words, live your life according to these truths because it is God[ not man] that gives man true knowledge and understanding resulting in Wisdom [vs. 6]. God is the one who takes an active role in the life of men who are faithful, just, and righteous by protecting us and giving us victory over those who are unfaithful, unjust, and unrighteous. Observe and remember the times we have been victorious, coming out on top, and continue to do those things because they are righteous, just, and fair. Then those “means and ways” will become more clear and we will gain understanding. The results will be pleasing and good. And we will grow in Wisdom. Wisdom enables one to discern right from wrong and thus avoid being tempted by those who practice evil, deceit, and adulterous behavior. Knowing right from wrong, good from bad, and practicing what is right, good, and just assures one of being able to live in the land God has given us. Note that this is both a physical and spiritual truth. It doesn’t just apply to Israel. It applies to all men who place their faith in the Lord God.

The one question that enters our mind and prevents us from accepting these truths is “What about those who do evil and are victorious and happy?” True, we see and so did the psalmists see many prosper who did evil and they too asked the same question. The easy answer is that we are to look at these truths only from a spiritual perspective or God’s perspective. Personally, I think this is a cop-out but it is not wrong either. We see evil-doers prosper but are they happy? Do they know real joy? Are they living guilt-free? Some may say I am rationalizing but I truly believe they are not happy or guilt-free. They are happy for victory but it is a temporary personal happiness. What they have done brings no lasting joy or happiness to others. Therefore, their proclaimed success and happiness is empty and hollow. Support for their ways and means disintegrates and they become gradually isolated and lonely. They feign victory but really it doesn’t exist. They feign happiness but they have no joy. They must continually watch their backside to prevent being blindsided. We who fear the Lord have the Lord watching our backside. We can live assured and joyful, intent on doing what is right and just for all. Yes, I believe the words of Proverbs 2 are TRUTH.

Lesson #3      Proverbs 3:1-35

Chapter 3 begins with the exhortation “REMEMBER”. In other words, don’t forget what I have already taught you because they represent the basic and foundational principles to obtain true Wisdom. Adhering to those basic principles of Lessons 1 and 2 assures one of a long life and prosperity. Love and faithfulness are virtues [vs. 3], which when followed and adhered to, regardless of circumstances, will bring respect from both God and man. [vs. 4].

Verses 5-10 are a pithy way of summarizing Lesson 1 and 2. These verses are a restatement of the basics in a way in which one can easily remember them. Verses 5 and 6 are some of the most often quoted verses in the Bible. Summarizing or condensing further, these basic principles can be stated as follows:
1. Trust God, not man.
2. Acknowledge God and get your advice from Him.
3. Stay humble and fear the Lord.
4. Do good and shun evil.
5. Worship the Lord with thanksgiving.

This lesson continues stating a promise of blessings and great satisfaction for those who seek Wisdom and understanding. Note that our blessings are analogous to great wealth [vs. 14-15] but are not wealth as the world defines it. Our blessings are more evident in our soul, our emotions, and our hearts. Long life is mentioned because true Wisdom does not make enemies; it makes friends. Honor, respect, and peace result from seeking Wisdom [vs. 16-17]. We grow in stature with God and others, a blessing, because we see the Wisdom of God.

Not only is Wisdom the source of great blessing, it is the source of great power. God’s Wisdom was the source of His Creative Power [vs. 19-20].

Solomon now begins to take a more specific course, focusing on the need for discernment and sound judgment. Perhaps we could say we need an objective questioning mind coupled with common sense and knowledge of right and wrong. Such goes a long way toward making friends instead of enemies [vs. 23-26]. Discernment and sound judgment is necessary for justness. These are absolute necessities for those in any leadership position and especially for a king. These two characteristics are critical for preventing a rebellion or a revolution and for promoting unity between men [vs. 24-26].

We are to do good and we are to do good now. We are never to oppress, harm, or falsely accuse our fellow man. Even thinking of doing wrong/evil will hinder the Lord’s leading [vs. 32]. How we live our lives has consequences. Acknowledging the Lord and seeking Wisdom leads to blessing not cursing, humility and grace, honor instead of shame. There is a right way and a wrong way to live. The right way to live is to Fear the Lord. acknowledging Him and seeking His Wisdom continuously.

Lesson #4      Proverbs 4:1-27

The father asks his sons to pay attention so that they may understand and follow all that he is teaching them. This same exhortation was given by David to Solomon when he was a child [vs. 3-4]. Obtaining and understanding Wisdom is critical to life. In fact, Wisdom is supreme to all learning [vs. 7]. Wisdom is the foundation to being respected and honored. You’ll be known as a gracious person [vs. 9] resulting in a long life [vs. 10].

The father takes responsibility to guide his sons in righteousness and away from evil [vs. 11-14]. Our God does this also through His Word to each of us who desire to believe His Word. The relationship of children to their parents mirrors that of our spiritual relationship with God the Father. Righteousness is the opposite of wickedness just as daylight is the opposite of darkness.

The father’s words, our Father’s Words, are to be placed in our hearts to guide us in life so as to avoid corrupt speech and to guide us on a straight narrow path so we do not hurt ourselves by going off the “right” path.

This lesson is general, not specific, and seems to emphasize the 5th Commandment, that of honoring our father and mother. As parents we must teach righteousness to our children just as God teaches us righteousness through His Word. As children we are to listen, learn, and obey our parents. Likewise, we are to listen, learn, and obey God. We are to worship God for the “fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom”.

Lesson #5      Proverbs 5:1-6:19

Lesson #5 begins like all the others, with an exhortation to listen and learn [vs. 1-2]. However, this lesson gets specific rather quickly concerning the 7th Commandment on adultery. The adulteress practices deceit and deception. She looks good, smells good, and speaks smoothly but the end result is bitterness and death. Her future is not bright but dark. Solomon [and the Lord] advises us to stay away, keep our distance, and not become involved [vs. 7-9]. A relationship with an adulterous results in loss of one’s wealth by causing one to support two or more households [vs. 10]. Involvement means additional work to support a wrong habit [vs. 11]. Refusing to practice self-control and choosing to ignore this teaching brings dishonor and lack of respect from those close to you [vs. 14].

On the plus side, stay faithful and keep your word. Your children should be yours and not belong to another [vs. 17]. Avoid divorce resulting in joint custody. Love your first wife only and always [vs. 19-20]. Even if you keep these wicked activities secret from your family, God knows all about them. Lack of discipline in this matter of infidelity and promiscuous behavior leads one astray and away from wisdom. It will lead us astray and down the path of fools.

Solomon continues this lesson [Chapter 6] addressing the question of securing a loan for another person. Speaking on behalf of someone else for which you do not have first-hand knowledge is dangerous, especially if you possess the security for that person’s loan. The advice given is “get out ASAP” [vs. 3-5]. Admit your error and diligently seek a way out, including negotiating with the one whose loan you secured.

Next [vs. 6-11] comes a parable about an ant and a sluggard. It commends the ant as one who has a strong work ethic. He has an objective and he works tirelessly to complete his objective. He willingly relies on his own ability so as not to burden someone else. This parable ties back to one securing a loan for another. The securer probably was like the ant and the one who needs help to secure his loan was a sluggard. The reason for “getting out ASAP” is the high probability that the one needing security for a loan is a sluggard and on the path to poverty. He is a very poor risk.

How we act tells who we are [vs. 12-15]. This too is important regarding the question of securing someone else’s loan. Consider what they say. Do they lie? Do they gossip? Do they complain? Do they speak against others with disparaging remarks? Do they say one thing and do another? Do they cheat or steal? Do they cause dissension by what they say and do? Do they find fault but never have a solution? Beware of such men. They are a disaster.

Verses 16-19 close out this lesson reminding us of 7 things that the Lord hates. They are:
1. Haughty eyes [the adulteress].
2. Lying.
3. Murder.
4. Wicked hearts.
5. Those who follow men with wicked hearts.
6. False witness.
7. Those who cause dissension.
Note that #1, #3, and #6 actually are present in Commandments 7, 6, and 9 respectively. Number 4 and 5 are defined by all the Commandments. Number 2 and 7 are closely associated with #9, that of bearing false testimony. Nothing causes dissension among men faster than a lying tongue.

Lesson #6      Proverbs 6:20-35

The instruction begins with “Keep your father’s [Father’s] commands and remember your mother’s instruction”. They will guide you, they will protect you, they will teach you, they will lead you in the way of righteousness, and they will discipline you and prevent you from immorality, especially that involving women.

Avoid lusting for her [the adulteress] or being lured by her eyes. Do not be trapped or let yourself become the prey of a prostitute or an adulterous. Seeking them will weaken you, will cause you great suffering, and will subject you to punishment. In other words, one who plays with fire is likely to be burned by the fire.

Playing with fire, the immoral woman, is no different that a man who steals because he is hungry. You may show tolerance for the person who is hungry but he is still penalized sevenfold and can lose everything. So it is with the man who commits adultery. His lack of judgment brings destruction, disgrace, shame, and loss of respect. The husband of the adulteress will show no mercy because he is jealous. He will refuse compensation and/or a bribe, preferring the perpetrator be punished to the fullest.

Heed the instruction of your father and mother because the lust of man for the immoral brings destruction.

Lesson #7      Proverbs 7:1-9:18

The son [us] is reminded again to remember his father’s instruction and take it to heart, embracing these lessons as truth and wisdom. Wisdom is to be considered family, a relationship like that of a sister; supportive, encouraging, guidance from a different perspective. Such a perspective of Wisdom is needed to keep from being tempted by an adulterous.

This subject, adultery and the ways of an adulterous, are considered very important because they are mentioned often by Solomon in these lesson. This subject is somewhat ironic when you consider Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines which were responsible for leading him astray. One wonders if he followed his own advice or did he write these lessons before these women came into his life or after realizing firsthand the error of his ways [see I Kings 11:1-6]. In Solomon’s defense, it seems he deeply loved only one according to the Song of Solomon but he loved [respected?] the others enough to be led astray. He wants his son[s] to avoid his mistake, repeating this instruction to overcome his example.

Verses 6-27 are a description of what Solomon observes from his palace and is used as an example of what the adulteress does to lure men with persuasive seductive words and lead them to destruction. This probably happened after Lesson 6 was assembled and was thought worthy of repeating again before proceeding with the personalization of Wisdom in Chapter 8.

Wisdom, which begins with fearing the Lord, is readily seen and observed in our day to day lives. To those who seek Wisdom, she is heard shouting and she is seen walking beside us. She is present at the city gates where the elders sit in judgment concerning the peoples’ complaints. Wisdom is available to the simple, to the fools, to those who seek justice, to those who seek to discern righteousness, and to those who have knowledge. Wisdom is for all men who seriously want to do what is right and just, to those who desire to fear and honor God and His Commandments [Proverbs 8:1-10]. Wisdom is available to those who consider it more precious than wealth, more precious than silver, gold, and precious stones [vs. 11-12].

Wisdom has the characteristics of humility, knowledge, and discernment. It hates evil, hates pride, hates wicked behavior, and hates perverse speech, all of which are contrary to fearing the Lord. Her other characteristics include sound counsel and judgment, understanding, and influential power. Wisdom is required of kings and princes if they are to rule and govern justly. Wisdom is the fear of the Lord. Wisdom is found in the Lord. The Lord is Wisdom, worthy of our love and worthy of our pursuit. Wisdom is real wealth and , if exalted, will never disappear. Wisdom is righteousness, justice, and love. The Lord is Wisdom and Wisdom is the Lord. They are synonymous [vs. 22-31]. Wisdom is eternal, the Creator God. To be one, united, with the Lord is to possess Wisdom [John 15]. It is the Lord God’s instructions, Commandments, Laws, Word that we must seek, receive, fear, love, and obey to live wisely and for eternity as the Lord God intended when He created us.

Beginning with Chapter 9 we have a word picture of Wisdom calling out to all men, inviting them to her banquet table. She even sends out her maids [disciples] to come and gain insight, knowledge, and understanding [Wisdom]. The Lord is calling us to come, to leave the world behind and to come, seek, and sup with the Lord God for “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”.

Verse 1 refers to 7 pillars set on The Foundation, the Lord God, through which we enter or which supports the house of Wisdom. These pillars could represent the seven-fold Spirit of God in Isaiah 11:2 or they could represent the seven key elements of wisdom recorded in Proverbs 1:2-7. Consider their similarity according to the following table.

Isaiah 11:2
Proverbs 1:2-7
1.] Spirit of the Lord
1.] Wisdom [vs.2]
2.] Spirit of Wisdom
2.] Discipline [vs. 2]
3.] Spirit of Understanding
3.] Righteousness [vs.3]
4.] Spirit of Counsel
4.] Justice [vs. 3]
5.] Spirit of Power
5.] Knowledge [vs. 5]
6.] Spirit of Knowledge
6.] Sound Judgment [vs. 5]
7.] Spirit of Fear of the Lord
7.] Fear the Lord [vs. 7]

Seeking and attaining Wisdom and then obeying/applying Wisdom does not guarantee an easy life. Correcting and rebuking the wicked invites abuse, persecution, and hatred. But correcting a wise man invites love and greater wisdom.

The length of our lives is tied to having Wisdom, fearing the Lord and knowing the lord. That is the way to one’s reward, eternal life. Our choice of seeking Wisdom [the Lord] or becoming a fool results in life or death respectively. Wisdom calls. The fool calls. Heed the call of Wisdom and live. Lesson 1 began with the call to embrace Wisdom and so Lesson 7 ends with the same call, to embrace Wisdom. Embrace the Lord for the fear of the Lord is Wisdom. Remember this. Instill this in your heart and mind and do not forsake this TRUTH. And then receive the blessed assurance of eternal life through the grace and mercy of the Lord God Almighty.

The Wisdom Proverbs of Solomon      Proverbs 10:1-22:16

This section doesn’t conform to an outline very well because it contains proverbs on a variety of subjects. Therefore, my outline is very general and so are my comments. I have focused on “the big picture” instead of the detail. The detail is important but it is better studied from a topical point of view. In other words this section is less organized.

The Wisdom of a Righteous Life      Proverbs 10:1-32

This section begins by spelling out the importance of a good healthy respectful relationship between children and their parents. It reiterates the importance of Commandment #5 that children are to honor their parents. Honoring ones’ parents is considered a righteous act of great value [vs. 2] and leading to a righteous lifestyle [vs. 3]. That lifestyle is one of industriousness [vs. 4], integrity [vs. 6], respect [vs. 7], obedience [vs. 8], thoughtfulness [vs. 10], encouragement [vs. 11], love [vs. 12], sound judgment [vs. 13], knowledge [vs. 14], security [vs. 15], honesty [vs. 16], discipline [vs. 117], truthfulness [vs. 18], peace [vs. 22], understanding [vs. 23], and hope [vs. 24].

The result of honoring ones’ parents is long life, just as God promised [vs. 27]. Also included is joy, protection, and wisdom. The fear of the Lord is Wisdom and it begins by honoring ones’ parents. These two principles separate the “wise” from the “fool”. Wisdom and righteous living go together. And it begins and is taught in the homes of those who fear the Lord.

The Wisdom of a Righteous Character      Proverbs 11:1-12:4

Although the previous section [Chapter 10] alluded to some character traits, this chapter seems to place a larger emphasis on the character traits of the “wise” compared to the “wicked”. Those traits relate specifically to Commandments #7-10 and indirectly to Commandment #6, “Do not Murder”.

Honesty, humility, and integrity [vs. 1-3. 23] are a must. True wealth is defined as righteousness and obedience to God [vs. 4-8, 19, 21] resulting in hope in the power of the resurrection. How one speaks to another defines the righteous from the wicked. The righteous man’s words provides sound counsel for all including the blessings of sound judgment and trustworthiness [vs. 9-14]. Kindness is a prerequisite for respect and peace [vs. 16-17]. Generosity is another trait of the wise man. He gives to those in need and seeks to do good with what he has [vs. 25-28]. The blessings of those who live wisely and righteously is life, a tree which grows to maturity and bears much fruit [vs. 28-31]. But to do so requires discipline and self-control, seeking the Lord, and remaining faithful {Proverbs 12:1-3]. These character traits of the “wise” man also apply to women [vs. 4].

The Wisdom of Righteous Behavior      Proverbs 12:5-22:16

I may be “forcing” my outline of Chapters 10-22 but I sense a progression and relationship between the training we receive relating to our character resulting in our day-to-day behavior. Therefore, this section contains pithy sayings on a variety of subjects promoting righteous behavior, much of which is repetitious. In other words, they say the same things but in different ways. My approach is not to comment but to categorize and note the related references.

Purity of Speech:
Proverbs 12:6-9, 13-19, 22-23,25-26; Proverbs 13:1-3; Proverbs 14:3, 5-9, 17, 25, 29; Proverbs 15:1-2, 7, 12, 14, 18, 28; Proverbs 16:1, 13, 21-24, 27-28, 30; Proverbs 17:4-5, 7-8, 10, 14, 27-28; Proverbs 18:4, 6-8, 13, 19-21; Proverbs 19:1, 5, 9, 19, 28-29; Proverbs 20:15, 19; Proverbs 21:28; Proverbs 22:11

Sound Judgment:
Proverbs 15:21-22; Proverbs 16:9, 25, 32-33; Proverbs 17:12, 15, 18, 24, 26; Proverbs 18:1, 5, 18, 24; Proverbs 19:2, 11, 12,14; Proverbs 20:8, 16, 18, 22, 25-26, 30; Proverbs 21:2, 7, 9, 12, 16, 19, 20, 22, 29; Proverbs 22:3, 10

Diligence and Industriousness:
Proverbs 12:10-12, 24, 27; Proverbs 13:5; Proverbs 14:1, 4, 20, 22-24; Proverbs 15:19; Proverbs 16:26; Proverbs 18:9, 23; Proverbs 19:4, 7, 15, 24; Proverbs 20:4, 13, 23; Proverbs 21:23, 25; Proverbs 22:13

Teachable:
Proverbs 13:13-16, 18, 20; Proverbs 14:18; Proverbs 15:5, 31-32; Proverbs 16:20; Proverbs 17:10; Proverbs 18:2; Proverbs 19:8, 20, 25, 27; Proverbs 20:11-12, 24; Proverbs 21:4; Proverbs 22:6, 15

Right Motives:
Proverbs 16:2-4, 12; Proverbs 17:3, 16, 20, 23; Proverbs 18:3; Proverbs 19:21; Proverbs 20:5, 21; Proverbs 21:10; Proverbs 22:8, 14, 16

Humility, not Pride:
Proverbs 13:7-8, 10; Proverbs 15:25, 33: Proverbs 16:5, 18-19; Proverbs 18:11-12; Proverbs 20:9; Proverbs 21:4, 24, 30; Proverbs 22:4

Trusting and Faithful:
Proverbs 13:17; Proverbs 14:14-15; Proverbs 15:10; Proverbs 16:15; Proverbs 17:2; Proverbs 19:16, 26; Proverbs 20:6; Proverbs 21:1, 18, 31; Proverbs 22:5

Generous:
Proverbs 13:22; Proverbs 14:20-21, 31; Proverbs 15:27; Proverbs 18:16; Proverbs 19:6, 17; Proverbs 21:13, 14, 17, 26; Proverbs 22:19

Joyful:
Proverbs 14:13; Proverbs 15:13, 15, 23, 30; Proverbs 17:1, 21-22, 25; Proverbs 18:14; Proverbs 20:28

Peace-loving:
Proverbs 12:20-21; Proverbs 14:30; Proverbs 16:7, 14, 29; Proverbs 17:1; Proverbs 19:13; Proverbs 20:1-3

Loving:
Proverbs 13:24; Proverbs 15:17-20; Proverbs 17:9, 17; Proverbs 18:22; Proverbs 19:18, 20, 28; Proverbs 21:21

Just:
Proverbs 13:23; Proverbs 18:8, 10; Proverbs 17: 11, 15; Proverbs 18:17; Proverbs 19:10; Proverbs 21:3, 8, 15

True/Right Worship:
Proverbs 15:8-9, 16; Proverbs 16:6; Proverbs 19:3, 23; Proverbs 20:27; Proverbs 21:27

Honest:
Proverbs 13:11; Proverbs 16:11; Proverbs 19:22; Proverbs 20:10, 14, 17; Proverbs 21:6

Other verses seem to best fit into a General Category or Concluding Statements. The references for these are as follows:
Proverbs 12:5, 28; Proverbs 13:6, 9, 12, 19, 21, 24: Proverbs 14: 2, 10-12, 16, 19, 26-28, 32-35; Proverbs 15:3, 6, 11, 24, 26 -29:Proverbs 16:16, 31; Proverbs 18:10; Proverbs 20:7; Proverbs 22:1-2, 7, 12.

Note that what, how, and when we speak is the most frequent behavior characteristic of the “wise”. It is mentioned 2-10 times more than any other characteristic. The second category is having sound judgment and is closely followed by diligence and being teachable. Therefore, we readily conclude that a wise person is one who not only “fears the Lord” but one who is teachable and works hard while expressing sound judgment and control over their tongue. This does not mean the other areas are less important. They are important but these are the characteristics of our behavior that are readily apparent, especially to those who do not know us personally. A wise person is apt to be a person who is quiet, observant, discerning, studious, persistent, perseverant, and slow to speak. But when that person communicates, they communicate Wisdom loudly [actually softly] and clearly. Take notice of these wise people and listen carefully to what they say so you too will become wise.

Additional Wisdom from Solomon      Proverbs 22-17-29:27

Sayings from other Wise Men      Proverbs 22:17-24:34

Solomon realizes he is wise but he is not the only person to have wisdom. He is wise enough to realize that others also posses wisdom.

Wisdom is important enough to occupy a place in one’s heart. After all, Wisdom is of God. Wisdom is trusting God and it is fearing and/or revering God. If we have Wisdom [God] in our hearts, we can readily draw upon Him in any given situation. These verses of Proverbs 22;22-24:22 actually contain 30 segments, 2-3 verses in length as compared to the single verse segments in the previous section. These 30 sections can be defined as follows:

1. Do not oppose the poor.                                                                                        Proverbs 22:22-23
2. Do not associate with angry men.                                                                     Proverbs 22:24-25
3. Do not secure another’s debt.                                                                             Proverbs 22:26-27
4. Respect property lines.                                                                                         Proverbs 22:28
5. Skilled men serve leaders.                                                                                    Proverbs 22:29
6. Eat with moderation and discipline.                                                                Proverbs 23:1-3
7. Work to live, not to get wealthy.                                                                       Proverbs 23:4-5
8. Associate with the generous, not with the stingy.                                     Proverbs 23:6-8
9. Avoid the foolish.                                                                                                    Proverbs 23:9
10. Do not oppress the widows and fatherless.                                                Proverbs 23:10-11
11. Seek knowledge.                                                                                                     Proverbs 23:12
12. Discipline and teach your children.                                                              Proverbs 23:13-14
13. Speak truth.                                                                                                             Proverbs 23:15-16
14. Place your trust in God, not man.                                                                  Proverbs 23:17-18
15. Live righteously.                                                                                                   Proverbs 23:19
16. Avoid drunkenness.                                                                                             Proverbs 23:20-21
17. Honor your parents.                                                                                           Proverbs 23:22-25
18. Avoid the adulteress.                                                                                          Proverbs 23:26-28
19. Avoid strong drink.                                                                                              Proverbs 23:29-35
20. Avoid wicked men.                                                                                              Proverbs 24:1-2
21. Reputation is built on wisdom.                                                                       Proverbs 24:3-4
22. Seek advice before waging war.                                                                      Proverbs 24:5-6
23. Only the wise can judge.                                                                                    Proverbs 24:7
24. Dishonest practices are sin.                                                                             Proverbs 24:8-9
25. Strength is required in troubled times.                                                       Proverbs 24:10
26. Do not engage in mass murder.                                                                      Proverbs 24:11-12
27. Wisdom is as sweet as honey.                                                                         Proverbs 24:13-14
28. The Righteous always rise after a fall.                                                         Proverbs 24:15-16
29. Be humble in victory.                                                                                        Proverbs 24:17-18
30. Do not envy the wicked.                                                                                   Proverbs 24:19-20

Finally, the fear of the Lord and the fear of your leader [king] takes priority. The fear of the Lord your King takes priority over all. The right priorities, the right choices in life [that is fearing the Lord] results in Wisdom and life eternal.

Verses 23-24 offer further advice. We are to judge justly without partiality, speaking the truth always. Food is more important than shelter. We are not to seek revenge. And hard work is the only way to avoid poverty.

Consider our culture today. We make judgments on opinions, not facts. We “spin” the truth to our advantage. The size of our home is the pride of our life. We practice revenge when wronged and think we can solve the problem of poverty through welfare systems. And we wonder why our policies fail. We would do well to read and study these Proverbs and seek the Lord.

Hezekiah’s Compilation      Proverbs 25:1-29:27

Hezekiah is responsible for assembling the proverbs of Chapters 25-29. One might consider these as “notes” from Solomon’s lessons on Wisdom; what it is and how to attain it because a proverb is stated and then it is followed by an explanation supporting the proverbial wisdom.

This section of scripture begins with a general statement [vs. 2-3] that God has chosen not to reveal everything. Earthly kings and rulers have a responsibility to seek out and apply Wisdom. But just as the king’s subjects do not fully understand the heart of their king, neither does the king fully understand the heart of the King of Kings. It is the duty of all to study, learn, comprehend, and apply Wisdom to the glory of God thereby ever increasing man’s knowledge of God.

First we learn that righteousness must be separated from wickedness for righteousness to reign. Kingdoms are to be established [see also Romans 13] on righteousness [vs. 4-5]. This is true for God’s Kingdom and also true for man’s kingdoms on earth. Humility before the King and before your king is required protocol [vs. 5-6].

Next, we must not jump to conclusions but consider our knowledge with patience, objectivity, and discernment. Our reputation for honesty and truthfulness demands it [vs. 8-10].

Boasting turns people away whereas patience and gentleness draws them to you [vs. 14-15]. Flattery, the same as boasting, turns people off [vs. 15-16]. Instead, speak the truth always and be true to your word [vs. 18-19]. Bring joy to those who are hurting by feeding the hungry. Demonstrate love through your actions in addition to your words [vs. 21-22]. See Romans 12, especially verse 20. We are to avoid deceit and quarreling because they benefit no one [vs. 23-24]. Instead, we are able to bring good news and respect all men, even the wicked. We are not to “toot our own horn” but practice self-control. We are not to promote or publicize ourselves as “kings” having more knowledge/wisdom than others but rather to be generous and share our knowledge/wisdom with others to encourage them and mature them. We are to use our own God-given wisdom to build people up, not to tear them down.

Chapter 26 begins with a negative, namely “There is no wisdom in being a fool”. The fool is not to be honored. He speaks falsely, is punished for his foolishness, is a worthless worker, repeats his mistakes, and boasts of his wisdom. He practices deception and laughs. He quarrels and gossips continually. He is a smooth talker filled with lies and malice. Thus ends the description of a fool.

Chapter 27 contrasts the attitude of the wise versus the fool of Chapter 26. The wise seek to be humble, do not force themselves on others, and are not jealous. The wise listen to rebuke from their trusted friends [vs. 6-7]. In fact, a trusted friend is of more value than a brother who does not know or see your faults. A trusted friend who is older is of even greater value. When trouble comes, seek refuge. Care for one another. Advise and protect one another [vs. 13]. Avoid “loud mouths” and choose your wife with care. Rely on your friends and share your wisdom with each other [vs. 17]. Be diligent in your work, respect your boss, and don’t let complements boost your ego [vs. 18-27] and cause you to neglect your duties.
The tone of “Solomon’s Notes” change with Chapter 28. When challenged, the righteous are bold and the wicked flee. It seems as though Solomon is instructing his son [s] for becoming king. It is important to maintain control and order or chaos will reign through many who want to be king [vs. 2]. A king must never oppress the poor, must keep the law, be just, seek the Lord, be blameless, exercise discernment, be honest in business, set a right example, triumph over the wicked, and confess his sin and seek mercy. The fear of the Lord must take priority [vs. 14] if one is to rule righteously [vs. 15-16]. Follow/obey God’s Law and do not murder. Work hard with diligence and persistence. Be fair and just to all. Rebuke when required but don’t engage in flattery. Honor your parents and trust in the Lord. God will bless all who care for the poor. Do this and righteousness will triumph over the wicked [see comments on Chapter 25].

Chapter 29 continues the contrast of the wise versus the fool using the analogy of the righteous versus the wicked. It is obvious to all, the righteous are wise and the wicked are foolish. That is why the fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom. Obedience to God is critical to avoiding destruction [vs. 1]. It was true in Israel’s history during their Exodus and it will be true in Israel’s future. Verses 1-2 are true in life but it was also prophetic concerning Israel’s future. It is also true and prophetic for each of us. Wisdom [obedience] brings joy but when God is not worshipped, ones blessings are squandered [vs. 3], losing their value.

Justice provides stability to a nation whereas greed breaks it up. Flattery is beneficial but only in the short term. Only the righteous truly care about justice for the poor. Avoid anger always. Be self-controlled and exhibit integrity in all you do. Verify everything so you are not influenced by lies. We are no better than the poor so judge fairly and impart wisdom. Keep God’s Law, live God’s Law, and teach God’s Law. Anger and pride are our worst enemies. Trust in the Lord. Let Him guide you. Let Him be your judge and see His righteousness, His Wisdom.

Summarizing Chapters 25-29, we are to:

Fear the Lord.
Speak the truth.
Work diligently.
Be humble.
Listen, learn and discern.
Care for the poor.
Act justly, and
Seek the Lord and His Righteousness.

Also note Romans 12:1-8. And there are many other passages teaching us God’s priorities such as Joshua 1:6-9 and Matthew 6:25-34, especially verse 33.

The Wisdom of Agur      Proverbs 30:1-33

In today’s culture, we would label Agur a “secularist” [vs. 1-4] but he does possess humility [vs. 2-3] and acknowledges there is a God who is in control [vs. 4]. Agur also recognizes God’s Word is Truth and the “religious” can find refuge in Him. He is wise enough to know it is wrong to add words to God’s Word [see Rev. 22:18, Deut. 4:2]. He is wise enough to know he must seek the Lord and be truthful. The last thing he wants to do is to dishonor the Lord, to dishonor His Name. He may not know the Lord personally but he does know the will of God and, therefore, purposes to know God personally.

Agur’s experiences have taught him that:
1. If you slander a person, they become vengeful.
2. It is sin to dishonor your parents, to be proud and have a large ego, to lust, to speak lies, and to oppress the poor.
3. Death is certain, children are a blessing, the land needs water, and fire destroys.
4. It is a miracle that birds fly, snakes survive among the rocks, ships sail, and men and women complement each other mentally and physically.
5. The earth trembles when a servant becomes king, a fool has too much food, an unloved woman is married, and a maid-servant displaces her mistress. These are all “unnatural”.
6. The insignificant creatures survive [such as the ant, the coneys, the locusts, and the lizards] just as do the stately creatures [such as the lion, rooster, he-goat, and a king].
7. Anger, boasting, and evil must be avoided.
Perhaps Agur does know God personally. What about you?

The Wisdom of Lemuel’s Mother      Proverbs 31:1-31

Lemuel was a king, a ruler, a respected leader, and a wise man. Therefore, what he had to say was considered important to the surrounding peoples. His mother was the source of his wisdom, teaching her son and advising him not to get involved with women or alcoholic beverages. She recognized that those are vices which would distract him from his responsibilities as a king which were to keep the law, aid the oppressed and the poor, and to judge fairly without partiality.

She advises Lemuel to seek a wife of nobel character, a woman of great value, so he is able to concentrate on ruling with justice and righteousness. She is to be his helpmate [Gen. 2:18-25], a confidante, trustworthy, and even an advisor. She is valuable, supporting, and loving. Her husband’s job is in the community and for the community. Her job is for their family. She is a hard and diligent worker; making cloth, buying groceries, and serving food. She has her own income stream and invests in real estate. She becomes active in commerce; producing, buying and selling goods, and generating even more income. She is tireless in providing for her family and for the poor and needy. She is known as a hard working generous person. Their family is blessed with warm bedding. Her hands make rich looking garments to wear. She is respected and so is her husband because he can concentrate on fulfilling his responsibilities. They carry themselves with dignity without acting proud. She is considered wise and teaches her children to also be wise. Her family readily acknowledges and thanks her for her contribution. Above all, she fears the Lord. Therefore, she is praised at home and in the community.

This is a very fitting example in closing the Book of Proverbs. It beautifully describes and summarizes in a few verses all the proverbs attributed to Solomon and other wise men. Do you desire Wisdom? Then be like the woman of noble character. Blessed is the man who has such a wife. Blessed are the children who have such a mother. Blessed are the women who follow her example and fear the Lord.

Yes indeed, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom”. The fear of the Lord is Wisdom. Be wise. Fear the Lord. Watch your tongue. Work hard. Be just. Give generously to the poor. And we too will be praised in heaven and on earth.

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