An Introduction to The Book of Proverbs. Let us study together for 'divinely inspired' - 'wisdom', the 'best' for a 'successful life'. The Book of Proverbs is one of the books classified as the poetry of Scripture. Because they are all written as Hebrew Poetry, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon all belong in the same category.
Solomon is the writer of three of these books of poetry: Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon. Proverbs is the book on wisdom. Ecclesiastes is the book on folly. Song of Solomon is the book on love. Love is the happy medium between wisdom and folly. Solomon was an expert on all three subjects! The Word of God says about him: 'And he spake three thousand proverbs: and his songs were a thousand and five' (1 Kings 4:32). We have only one of his songs out of 1,005 that he wrote. And, actually, we have very few of his proverbs. 'And he spake of trees, from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall: he spake also of beasts, and of fowl, and of creeping things, and of fishes. And there came of all people to hear the wisdom of Solomon, from all kings of the earth, which had heard of his wisdom' (1 Kings 4:33–34). For more on 'Solomon', you may want to read the Holy Bible in the following sections of the Holy Bible, 1 kings 1-11; 1 Chronicles 28-29; 2 Chronicles 1-9. You will see his wisdom, his follies, and his love of many women, to his downfall. Truly, he was a man, who had and did it all. And yet, he was David's son, and God did not fail him in the end.
In the Book of Proverbs we read the wisdom of Solomon. A proverb is a saying that conveys a specific truth in a pointed and succinct way. Proverbs are short sentences drawn from long experience. A proverb is a truth that is couched in a form that is easy to remember, a philosophy based on experience, and a rule for conduct. A proverb has been called a sententious sentence, a maxim, an old saying, an old saw, a bromide, an epigram.
In the Book of the Proverbs, the key verse is found in the first chapter: 'The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction'. [Proverbs 1:7].
The Orient and the Ancient East are the homes of proverbs. Solomon probably gathered many of them from other sources. He was the editor of them all and the author of some. This means that we have an inspired record of proverbs that are either Solomon’s or from other sources, but what is most important from a 'biblical perspective' is that God has put His stamp upon them, as we shall see.
It is believed by a host of bible scholars that Solomon were taught those proverbs we have recorded which use the second person, but, that Solomon wrote the proverbs which use the third person in context.
While other writings of 'proverbs' exist, there is a difference between the Book of Proverbs and proverbs in other writings. For example, the Greeks were great at making proverbs, especially the gnostic poets. They are very clever in the Greek language because so many of them are a play upon Greek words.
So that we are able to understand the Book of Proverbs, let us look at some characteristics and features of the Book of Proverbs, as follows.
1. Proverbs bears no unscientific statement or inaccurate observation. For example, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life [Proverbs 4:23; Matthew 15:19; Mark 7:21]. This is a remarkable statement because it was not until about 2,700 years later that Dr. William Harvey, [April 1, 1578-June 3, 1657], found that the blood circulates and that the heart is the pump. In contrast, in an apocryphal book called the Epistle of Barnabas, mention is made of the mythical phoenix, a bird that consumes itself by fire and rises in resurrection. Such a fable does not appear in the Book of Proverbs nor anywhere else in the Bible. It is strange that this is an ancient book containing hundreds of proverbs and not one of them is unscientific today. That in itself ought to alert any thinking person to the fact that the Book of Proverbs is God–inspired.
As it is written, 'All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.' [2 Timothy 3:16,17]
2. Proverbs is a book on a high moral plane. You simply will not find in its pages the immoral sayings which occur in other writings. Justin Martyr said that Socrates was a Christian before Christ—which, of course, would be an impossibility. And his admirers say that he portrays a high conception of morals. However, Socrates also gave instructions to harlots on how to conduct themselves! The best that can be said of him is that he was amoral.
3. Another important point is that the Proverbs do not contradict themselves, while man’s proverbs are often in opposition to each other. For example, one may say, 'Look before you leap'. In contrast another may say, 'He who hesitates is lost.' Or, 'A man gets no more than he pays for,' contrasted with 'The best things in life are free.' Or there is 'A rolling stone gathers no moss' versus 'A setting hen does not get fat.' The proverbs of man contradict each other because men’s ideas differ. But there is no contradiction in the Book of Proverbs because it is inspired by God. Amen. Amen.
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