Reference: Proverbs, Book Of
a collection of moral and philosophical maxims of a wide range of subjects presented in a poetic form. This book sets forth the "philosophy of practical life. It is the sign to us that the Bible does not despise common sense and discretion. It impresses upon us in the most forcible manner the value of intelligence and prudence and of a good education. The whole strength of the Hebrew language and of the sacred authority of the book is thrown upon these homely truths. It deals, too, in that refined, discriminating, careful view of the finer shades of human character so often overlooked by theologians, but so necessary to any true estimate of human life" (Stanley's Jewish Church).
As to the origin of this book, "it is probable that Solomon gathered and recast many proverbs which sprang from human experience in preceeding ages and were floating past him on the tide of time, and that he also elaborated many new ones from the material of his own experience. Towards the close of the book, indeed, are preserved some of Solomon's own sayings that seem to have fallen from his lips in later life and been gathered by other hands' (Arnot's Laws from Heaven, etc.)
This book is usually divided into three parts: (1.) Consisting of ch. 1-9, which contain an exhibition of wisdom as the highest good.
(2.) Consisting of ch. 10-24.
(3.) Containing proverbs of Solomon "which the men of Hezekiah, the king of Judah, collected" (ch. 25-29).
These are followed by two supplements, (1) "The words of Agur" (ch. 30); and (2) "The words of king Lemuel" (ch. 31).
Solomon is said to have written three thousand proverbs, and those contained in this book may be a selection from these (1Ki 4:32). In the New Testament there are thirty-five direct quotations from this book or allusions to it.
The second book among the 'Writings' is the most characteristic example of the Wisdom literature in the OT. 1. We may adopt the division of the book made by the headings in the Hebrew text as follows:
In this book God has furnished, through the wisest of men, principles and precepts for the guidance and security of the believer in passing through the temptations to which he is exposed in an evil world. The admonitions speak in terms of affectionate warning 'as to sons:' Heb 12:5. Under symbolic terms, such as 'the evil man' and 'the strange woman,' the great forms of evil in the world, violent self-will, and corrupting folly, are laid bare in their course and end. Wisdom is shown as the alone guard against one or the other. Wisdom is presented, not as a faculty residing in man, but as an object to be diligently sought after and acquired. It is often personified, and is spoken of as lifting up her voice. In Prov. 8, under the idea of wisdom, we have doubtless Christ presented as the resource that was with God from 'the beginning of His way,' so that God could independently of man establish and bring into effect His thoughts of grace for men.
In detail the book refers to the world, showing what things are to be sought and what to be avoided, and evinces that in the government of God a man reaps according to what he sows, irrespective of the spiritual blessings of God in grace beyond and above this world. It maintains integrity in the earthly relationships of this life, which cannot be violated with impunity. The instruction rises altogether above mere human prudence and sagacity, for "the fear of the Lord is the beginning or 'principal part,' margin of knowledge." We have in it the wisdom of God for the daily path of human life.
The book divides itself into two parts: the first nine chapters give general principles, and Prov. 10 onwards are the proverbs themselves. This latter portion divides itself into three parts: Prov. 10: to Prov. 24, the proverbs of Solomon; Prov. 25 to Prov. 29, also the proverbs of Solomon, which were gathered by "the men of Hezekiah king of Judah." Prov. 30 gives the words of Agur; and Prov. 31 the words of king Lemuel.
The Proverbs is a book of poetry. The proverbs vary in style: some are antithetical couplets, one being the opposite of the other, as "a wise son maketh a glad father; but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother." Others are synthetical, the second sentence enforcing the first, as "The Lord hath made all things for himself, yea, even the wicked for the day of evil." See POETRY.
In Prov. 1 the purport of the proverbs is pointed out: it is that instruction in wisdom, justice, judgement, and equity might be received: the fear of the Lord is the starting point. Satan would of course oppose this, so warnings are at once given to avoid the enticings of sinners. Wisdom cries aloud and in the streets: her instructions are for all. Retribution is for such as refuse her call.
Prov. 2 gives the results of following in the path of wisdom, whereas the wicked will be rooted out.
Prov. 3 shows that it is the fear of God, and subjection to His word, that is the only true path in an evil world.
Prov. 4 enforces the study of wisdom: it will surely bring into blessing. Evil must be avoided and be kept at a distance. The heart, the eye, and the feet must be watched.
Prov. 5 warns a man against leaving the wife of his youth (the lawful connection) for the strange woman, which leads to utter demoralisation.
Prov. 6 enjoins one not to be surety for another. Wisdom is not slothful, violent, nor deceitful. There are seven things which are an abomination to the Lord. The strange woman is again pointed out to be avoided as fire: there is no ransom for adultery.
Prov. 7 again shows the traps laid by the strange woman, which alas, are often too successful. Her house is the way to hell (Sheol).
Prov. 8 proclaims that wisdom calls, and invites all to listen: it is valuable for all
Prov'erbs, Book of.
The title of this book in Hebrew is taken from its first word, mashal, which originally meant "a comparison." It is sometimes translated parable, sometimes proverb as here. The superscriptions which are affixed to several portions of the book, in chs.
attribute the authorship of those portions to Solomon the son of David, king of Israel. With the exception of the last two chapters, which are distinctly assigned to other author it is probable that the statement of the superscriptions is in the main correct, and that the majority of the proverbs contained in the book were uttered or collected by Solomon. Speaking roughly, the book consists of three main divisions, with two appendices:--
1. Chs. 1-9 form a connected didactic Wisdom is praised and the youth exhorted to devote himself to her. This portion is preceded by an introduction and title describing the character and general aim of the book.
2. Chs. 10-24 with the title "The Proverbs of Solomon," consist of three parts:
a collection of single proverbs and detached sentences out of the region of moral teaching and worldly prudence;
a more connected didactic poem, with an introduction,
which contains precepts of righteousness and prudence;
with the inscription "These also belong to the wise," a collection of unconnected maxims, which serve as an appendix to the preceding. Then follows the third division chs. 25-29, which, according to the superscription, professes to be collection of Solomon's proverbs, consisting of single sentences, which the men of the court of Hezekiah copied out. The first appendix, ch. 30, "The words of Agur the son of Jakeh," is a collection of partly proverbial and partly enigmatical sayings; the second, ch. 31, is divided into two parts, "The words of King Lemuel," vs. 1-6, and an alphabetical acrostic in praise of a virtuous woman, which occupies the rest of the chapter. Who was Agur and who was Jakeh, are questions which have been often asked and never satisfactorily answered. All that can be said of the first is that he was an unknown Hebrew sage, the son of an equally unknown Jakeh, and that he lived after the time of Hezekiah. Lemuel, like Agur, is unknown. It is even uncertain whether he is to be regarded as a real personage, or whether the name is merely symbolical. The Proverbs are frequently quoted or alluded to in the New Testament and the canonicity of the book thereby confirmed. The following is a list of the principal passages:--
compare Roma 3:10,15
compare Roma 12:16
compare Hebr 12:5,6, see also Reve 3:19
compare Jame 4:6
compare 1Pet 4:8
compare 1Pet 4:18
compare Roma 12:17; 1The 5:15; 1Pet 3:9
compare Jame 1:19
compare 1Joh 1:8
(LXX.), compare 2Cor 9:7
compare, Roma 12:20
compare, 2Pet 2:22
compare, Jame 4:13,14