Nothing good will happen to them—they are gone and forgotten. They will never again take part in anything that happens on this earth. God decided long ago that this is what you should do. This is what you are supposed to do as you struggle through life on this earth. You will soon go to the world of the dead, where no one works or thinks or reasons or knows anything.
The enemy army was getting ready to break through the city walls.
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Yet if you are poor, no one pays any attention to you, no matter how smart you are. After all, he created everything. Your work might pay off, and your seeds might produce. Do what you want and find pleasure in what you see. These sayings come from God, our only shepherd, and they are like nails that fasten things together. Respect and obey God! The Young Women Speak: We are happy for you!
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One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text. See the note at 1. One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 9. Three ancient translations; the Hebrew text does not have these words. Walls of houses were often made of stones with mud to fill in the cracks between them. If some of the mud washed out, a snake could be living inside the wall. Someday it will pay off. The ointment was sometimes used as a love charm. An oasis west of the Dead Sea. Enrich your faith and grow in spiritual maturity with the incredible Bible study and devotional books listed below.
There are exceptions to the proverbs. They are not always true, but they are usually true. They represent life accurately, but not completely. Visualize a photograph of a waterfall. It accurately represents a typical waterfall, but it does not picture every feature of every waterfall, even every waterfall in the locale where the picture was taken.
Some waterfalls look quite different, though all waterfalls share certain things in common that this picture shows. Proverbs are a form of literature genre that is essentially different from promises. One of the common mistakes that many Christians make when they read the proverbs is to take them as promises. Some are promises as well as proverbs, when the proverb expresses a truth that is always consistent, but it is important to be able to distinguish a proverb from a promise. Promises are straightforward statements of assurance that guarantee that stated effects will inevitably follow.
Some promises are conditional, and others are unconditional. Proverbs and promises are really different forms of expression, and different types of literature. They are theological and pragmatic principles. The confusion usually stems from misunderstanding the character of the proverbs. They are often treated as inviolable laws or infallible promises when they should be understood as universal but not inflexible principles.
This has put a strain on many Christians' faith when they have 'claimed God's promises in prayer,' holding up some proverb to God. When the exceptional or the unusual occurs, they then think God has failed to fulfill his promise. However, proverbs in Solomon's collection are not promises made by God, but are guides which are to direct people in living successful and productive lives. Let me try to clarify the difference between a proverb and a promise. If you were driving along a country road, for example, and saw a huge, long shed with the word "chickens" over the doorway, you would probably conclude that chickens were inside.
If you got out of your car, walked over to the shed, and looked in, you would probably see hundreds of white, feathery, clucking chickens. But if your traveling companion said, "Those aren't chickens; they're pigs," you would say he was crazy. That is what many Christians say when they look into the book labeled "Proverbs. This is a proverb with a very high degree of probability because it repeats a truth that God guarantees as absolutely true elsewhere in Scripture.
In almost every book of the Bible, we have evidence that those who trust in the Lord wholeheartedly , and do not rely on themselves alone, receive guidance from Him e. This is such an obvious truth that when we read it in Proverbs, we should know that it is a "proverb" that expresses something that is consistently true. It also expresses what God promises elsewhere in His Word. This means that interpreting the proverbs accurately requires some knowledge of what God has promised elsewhere in His Word.
This is the correlation step in Bible study. Ask yourself, "Is this a promise elsewhere in Scripture? We might say that some proverbs have a higher degree of accuracy than others. This distinction between proverbs and promises raises some questions. If the proverbs are not percent reliable as statements, and they are Scripture, is Scripture less than percent reliable? No, the proverbs do not claim to be percent reliable.
They only claim to be a safe guide to what usually happens. They are snapshots of life, not statements claiming to reflect what life always looks like. And they are a safe guide, because they express what usually happens in life. If we do that, are we sinning? No, the proverbs are not commands. They are revelations of what will usually follow if we do certain things. We may choose to countersign with a stranger under certain circumstances, but the proverbs warn us about what we can normally expect to happen in most cases if we do.
Another example is going into debt. It is not a sin to go into debt, but it is unwise in most cases, as some of the proverbs say. One characteristic feature of the proverbs is that the editor of a given collection of proverbs has "chain-linked" similar or related proverbs into chains or series of proverbs. Thus there are frequently series of proverbs that in some way tie together. Sometimes the link is the subject e. At other times the link is an idea, a Hebrew word, or even a Hebrew letter. Though they may be strung together, each one represents a self-contained thought.
The unity of the book lies in its common reverence for wisdom, not in a logically ordered discourse.
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Another characteristic feature is that repetition of proverbs within the book, and even within collections of proverbs within the book, is not uncommon. In some cases, whole proverbs are repeated in exactly the same words e. Sometimes a proverb reappears with only a slight change in wording e. Some proverbs are almost identical in form but somewhat different in meaning e. In some cases, only the first line is the same or similar e. In others, only the second line is the same or similar e.
In still others, one of several lines is the same e. Where there is a change, it is for a purpose: In a few, piquant phrases the proverb capsulizes a practical idea or truth in such a way as to lift the common-place to a new level of mental consciousness. It reweaves the threadbare idea and shows the ordinary to be quite extraordinary. Richard Trench, commenting on proverbs in general, believed that a proverb always has four characteristics: In addition to proverbs of various lengths, this book also contains narrative material. Most scholars recognize that Proverbs is a book of poetry and didactic wisdom literature.
Computers can store data and obey signals, but they can't give us the ability to use that knowledge wisely. What's needed today is wisdom. It's about priorities and principles, not get-rich-quick schemes or success formulas. It tells you, not how to make a living, but how to be skillful in the lost art of making a life. It has been said that the sum total of human information currently doubles approximately every year and a half. In view of this, T. Eliot's questions are more apropos today than when he wrote them:. Where is the knowledge we have lost in information? By their nature proverbs bring together experience and insight, life and light.
Life is carefully observed, thoughtfully analyzed, evaluated by experience, and lessons are distilled resulting in a principle proverb. That proverb in turn when applied back to life brings improvement and excellence. Three things mark biblical poetry, and these are prevalent in the proverbs: Imagery is figurative language that is evocative and brief. Some important figures of speech in Proverbs are: Parallelism in Proverbs refers to the correspondence between two parts of one proverb. Sometimes sounds or syllables are parallel, but most often ideas are. Scholars have identified several types of parallelism in Proverbs.
The basic types are: Other types of parallelism are: Both of the latter forms comparative and emblematic parallelism have also been called parabolic parallelism. In addition, there are sayings, which include comparisons e. Another way to describe the form of the proverbs is according to the number of their lines. The most common is the distich, or two-line proverb. There are also three, four, five, six, seven, and eight-line parables: Some of the proverbs simply describe life as it is; they help the reader view life realistically.
Most of them go beyond mere observation and advocate a certain action, either implicitly or explicitly; they advocate morality. Some contrast what is good with what is better, so the reader can make value judgments and act accordingly. Some appear in alphabetical lists, evidently to express fullness of thought and or as an aid to memorization.
Warning against consorting with sinners 1: Wisdom as a treasure ch. Divine promises and human obligations 3: The value of wisdom 3: Warnings against unfaithfulness in marriage ch. Other dangerous temptations 6: The guilt of adultery 6: The lure of adultery ch. The function of wisdom ch. The open or closed mind 9: Introduction to the 30 sayings The 30 sayings Introduction of the later Solomonic collection The Book of Proverbs contains little history.
It is mainly didactic; it is a book of explicit instruction. Like the other Old Testament wisdom books, Job and Ecclesiastes, it does not contain references to Israel's laws, rituals, sacrifices, or ceremonies. It deals with philosophy primarily. A philosopher is, by definition, a lover of wisdom. Proverbs is a book that focuses primarily on wisdom, as do Job and Ecclesiastes. In this sense these books are philosophical.
There is a fundamental difference between the philosophy we find in these books and all other philosophy. Other philosophies begin with a question. Hebrew philosophy begins with an affirmation. Its basic affirmation is that God exists. Therefore, we can know ultimate truth only by divine revelation. To many people the Book of Proverbs seems to be a grab bag of wise sayings that lacks any system or order.
Nevertheless in a sense this is the most carefully organized of all the books of the Old Testament. The first verse is its title page. Verses are its preface, which contains an explanation of the purpose of the book, the method of the Author, and the fundamental thesis of the book in v. Then follow three parts of the body of the book. First, there are discourses in defense and application of the fundamental thesis 1: Then we have proverbs Solomon collected and arranged to provide wisdom chs.
Next there are additional wise words from Solomon that other people collected after Solomon died chs. An appendix that contains specific words of wisdom by two other sages, Agur and Lemuel, concludes the book chs. Proverbs is one of the most timeless Old Testament books. The reader needs very little knowledge of ancient Hebrew life and culture to understand and appreciate it.
We can understand the contents fairly easily and can apply them directly to modern life. Our problem is not as much understanding as applying the proverbs. Consider first the fundamental thesis, and then observe how the application of that declaration unfolds in the chapters that follow. The fundamental affirmation is the deepest insight in Hebrew philosophy 1: There is a presupposition in this statement.
It is that God is the repository of wisdom. We can only find wisdom in God ultimately. This presupposition underlies all of what we read in Job and Ecclesiastes, as well as in Proverbs.
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They believed that all natural phenomena revealed God's wisdom. Wherever they looked, they saw God: We can see that viewpoint clearly in Genesis 1: This fundamental affirmation also contains an inevitable deduction: A person is wise to the extent that he or she apprehends and fears God. The "fear" of God does not mean a dread that results in hiding from God. It is rather an emotional recognition of God. That is the kind of fear that produces holy character and righteous conduct. Intellectual apprehension of God precedes this emotional recognition, and volitional submission to God's will follows it.
When a person comes to have emotional recognition of God, he or she comes to the condition for being wise, not that in so doing he or she becomes wise. We can begin to be wise only when we come into proper relation to God as ultimate Wisdom. Consider what God revealed here in the three spheres of life dealt with in the book: In the home, the child must learn wisdom. In friendship, the youth must apply wisdom. In the world, the adult must demonstrate wisdom. The first sphere is that of the home cf.
God did not teach the responsibility of the father and mother here, but took for granted that they would instruct their children. The child needs to hear parental instruction to live in the fear of the Lord. Young children cannot grasp abstract concepts. For them God is incarnate in father and mother. Fathers and mothers reflect the image of God to their children. Both parents are necessary to reveal God to the child fully.
Children see some of God's characteristics in the mother's attitudes and actions cf. They see other aspects of God's character in the father. Parents do not have to try to teach their young child systematic theology. They just need to live in the fear of God themselves, and their child will learn what he or she needs to learn about God for that stage of their life—just by observing mom and dad.
For example, when small children see their parents loving one another, it prepares them to understand God's love. I do not mean to exclude verbal instruction. My point is that young children learn wisdom by observing their parents as well as by listening to them. We all exert influence in two ways: The second sphere of life is friendship cf.
The day must come when the child, in the natural process of development, moves out into a wider circle of experience. The Bible presents two duties that children have to their parents. When the child's sphere of life is his home, he is to obey his parents. However, that duty does not continue forever.
When he moves into the larger sphere of life outside the home, his duty is to honor his parents. This duty does continue forever. When a child enters this second stage of life, guided at first by parental council, but then finally on its own, wisdom gives important instruction cf. He should avoid certain friendships. He should beware of people who seek to make friends with him because they have selfish interests and unscrupulous motives.
There are many warnings in Proverbs against people who are not true friends. There is no more important stage in a young person's development than when he or she begins to choose companions. Then, and from then on, he or she must follow the wisdom that comes from the fear of the Lord. The youth must submit to the Lord's wisdom, having learned that in the home, to succeed in the larger arenas of life. The choice of a mate is one of these companion decisions.
Parents should help their children with these values, and qualities to look for in a mate. The third stage of life is the world, symbolized in Proverbs by the street, the gates, and the city cf. The first word of warning to the youth who leaves home to enter the world by himself is this: Wisdom does not say withdraw from the world. Wisdom says remember the fate of those who forget God. There is also a gracious promise cf. Wisdom promises that those who live in the fear of the Lord will be quiet and safe, even in the turmoil of the world.
It is clear how important preparation is for living in this sphere of life. Children must learn to take God into account in the home, and then in their friendships, before they launch out into the world. This instruction is what really prepares them for life. The series of discourses that begin with "My son" represents the voice of home sounding in the youth's ears, who has left home and is living in the world chs. The father tells his son how his father instructed him in wisdom, and how this enabled him to live successfully in the world.
Then specific warnings follow, concerning impurity, laziness, bad companions, and adultery. As the young man climbs toward a higher position in life, wisdom comes to him again, with instruction concerning how he can avoid the pitfalls of that stage of his life ch. The discourses close with a contrast in which Solomon personified Wisdom and Folly as two women ch. One is a woman of virtue and beauty, and the other is a woman of vice and ugliness. Solomon contrasted the value and victory of wisdom with the disaster and defeat of folly.
He contrasted the wisdom of fearing God with the folly of forgetting God. I would summarize the message of Proverbs as follows. The person who learns the fear of God i. Fearing God means taking God into account, being aware of His reality and presence, and making decisions in view of His existence and revelation. The precepts urging a life of wisdom center on 3: This passage concentrates on that subject.
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The practice of wisdom centers on 8: The power for living a life of wisdom centers on 1: The Book of Proverbs is a collection of at least seven separate groups of proverbs. There are two groups that Solomon spoke and or wrote possibly chs. Introduction to the Book 1: These verses set forth the title, the five purposes, and the thesis of the Book of Proverbs.
Far from being a hodgepodge of miscellaneous sayings, the book gives evidence of careful organization in this opening segment. The title of the book 1: What is a proverb? The verb form of this Hebrew word means "to rule. Masal also has the meaning of "resemblance. Many proverbs are concentrated parables. The English word "proverb" means a brief saying that says much in little space. It comes from the Latin pro verba meaning "for in place of words. Another definition of a proverb is: The purposes of the book 1: The first purpose is developed in vv.
Another writer observed five purposes of the book in the five purposes clauses in verses 2 through This book claims to offer wisdom Heb. The words "wise" and "wisdom" occur about times in Proverbs. It is this wisdom that the Apostle Paul commanded Christians to walk in cf. It involves observing and following the Creator's principles of order in the moral universe. We also need wisdom, which is the ability to use knowledge. Wise men and women have the competence to grasp the meaning of a situation and understand what to do and how to do it in the right way at the right time.
Before his death, one of the world's richest men said that he would have given all his wealth to make one of his six marriages succeed. It's one thing to make a living, but quite something else to make a life. It is the wedding of knowing and doing—it is the junction of the good and the true. This is not to say that everyone who submits to God will be able to make equally wise decisions in life. Some Christians, for example, demonstrate more wisdom than others.
This is another sense in which Proverbs uses the word "wisdom. Sensibility in practical matters. A second purpose of the book is to solve riddles: The riddles in view v. Verses set forth four objectives. God gave us these proverbs to impart an intimate acquaintance with wisdom and discipline v. He also wanted to impart moral insight v. The thesis of the book 1: This verse enjoys almost universal recognition as the key statement not only in Proverbs but in all the wisdom literature of the Bible cf.
Some people think of it as the motto of the book, others the foundational principle, others the major premise, or something similar. The verse contains a positive statement followed by its negative corollary. The "fear of the Lord" occurs at least 18 times in Proverbs 1: It is an affectionate reverence that results in humbly bowing to the Father's will. It is a desire not to sin against Him because His wrath is so awful and His love is so awesome. Rather, the fear of the Lord is the controlling principle, the foundation, on which one must build a life of wisdom.
Even though many unbelievers have acquired much information without the fear of God, true knowledge rests on a relationship to God that revelation supports.
We can learn the really important lessons in life only this way. Here "knowledge" means "wisdom" cf. Other ancient Near Eastern countries produced wisdom literature in addition to what we have in our Old Testament. The references to fearing the Lord in Proverbs, including 1: The demand for faith underlies the whole book.
Only in a right relationship to the true and living God can one enter into God's foreordained, righteous order for life and find true success and happiness. The fool despises God's revealed order for life and the instruction that would lead him or her into it v. The Hebrews believed people could acquire knowledge in three ways.
One way was through observing nature and human behavior. Another way was by drawing analogies between traditional beliefs e. A third way was through an encounter with the transcendent God. It is also quite unusual in that no other biblical work begins with a statement of purpose as clear as this. Instruction for Young People 1: The two ways paths, worldviews introduced in 1: In this section Solomon spoke to his son, guiding him into God's way.
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The frequent recurrence of the phrase "my son" in this part of Proverbs indicates that the instruction specially suited a young person. This person's life lay in front of him, and he faced major decisions that would set the course of his life from then on. Though the whole Book of Proverbs gives help to youths, chapters 1—7 address them specifically and can be of particular benefit to them. The instruction that follows was originally the type of counsel a courtier father gave his son or sons in his home. This seems to have been a traditional form of ancient Near Eastern education, especially among the ruling classes.
In Israel, the father had primary responsibility for the training of his children. In Egypt, for example, "The authors of the [wisdom] 'teachings' do not present themselves as priests and prophets. They appear as aged officials at the end of active and successful careers, desirous to let their children profit by their experience. This suggests that we are to construe the text as being in the form of admonitions of some worthy to his son who will succeed him as vizier to the ruler. Other evidence exists that it was common throughout the ancient Near East for high officials to pass on this special instruction to their heirs.
In Proverbs, we have the record of what Solomon told his son Rehoboam, and probably also his other sons. Most of them were kept secluded and prepared for marriage and motherhood. For the most part, when you read 'man' in Proverbs, interpret it generically and read 'person,' whether male or female. Proverbs isn't a sexist book, but it was written in the context of a strongly male-oriented society. In the teaching that follows, there is advice for many situations a king would encounter and have to deal with effectively.
These matters included the administration of justice, leadership, behavior, as well as urban and agricultural concerns. Consequently, there seems to be no reason to take these references to "my son" as anything other than what they appear at face value to be cf. In some parts of the ancient world, the mother shared the duty of instructing the son with the father cf.
The phraseology of these sentences corresponds almost exactly to that of their Egyptian counterparts. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that this feature is an example of the adaptation of the Egyptian tradition to the peculiar situation in which the Israelite instructions were composed: Archaeologists have found most of the documents that contain extrabiblical instruction of the "my son" type in excavated scribal schools.
This suggests that even though the teaching took place in the home, the teachers preserved their instructions in writing, with a view to sharing them with people outside the family circle.
This suggests that what we have in Proverbs is not atypical. Probably when Solomon recorded his counsel to his son, he adapted it to a more general reading audience, namely: Eventually all people profited from it. This section begins with a plea to hear the warning to follow v. We find no similar reference to mother as teacher in Babylonian or Egyptian wisdom literature. The warning itself appears twice vv. A description of how the dangerous appeal will come vv. Three reasons for ignoring it vv.
The final verse is a conclusion v. In this pericope, the wise way following the moral law in general, vv. Its only reward is goodness, as opposed to acceptance by one's peers. It was once the basic textbook in the educational system, but even if that were still true, the Bible in the school can't replace the Bible in the home.
I note that many modern parents sacrifice time and money to help their children excel in music, sports, and social activities; I trust they're even more concerned that their children excel in knowing and obeying the Word of God. We travel in groups—whether they are our social friends, our service club, our prayer partners, our tennis set, our business colleagues, or our street gang. What we become is determined in some significant measure by the company we keep.
Verse 19 articulates the point of the comparison. The Hebrew word translated "gains" v. Wisdom is here personified, i. But this personification presupposes, that to the poet wisdom is more than a property and quality of human subjectivity: And also to the public appearance of wisdom, as it is here represented, there must be present objective reality, without which the power of conviction departs from the figure. Most conspicuous is Woman Wisdom 1: This is one of several passages in Proverbs where the writer personified wisdom. Her call comes to people in the market, in the hustle and bustle of life, not in the seclusion of the home or sanctuary cf.
To three classes of sinners: The simple are naive people who believe anything They're gullible and easily led astray. Scorners think they know everything While the simple one has a blank look on his face, the scorner wears a sneer. Fools are people who are ignorant of truth because they're dull and stubborn. Their problem isn't a low IQ or poor education; their problem is a lack of spiritual desire to seek and find God's wisdom. Fools enjoy their foolishness but don't know how foolish they are! The outlook of fools is purely materialistic and humanistic.
They hate knowledge and have no interest in things eternal. It is clear here that people have a choice about which way they will go. Their lives are to a large measure the result of their choices. The fool is one by his own fault, not by fate vv. Verses 32 and 33 contrast the ultimate destruction of the unresponsive with the peaceful condition of the responsive. Delitzsch noted a similarity between the addresses of Wisdom in Proverbs and the addresses of Jesus in John's Gospel. Chapter 2 is a discourse that sets forth the blessings that wisdom confers.
It encourages "earnest striving after wisdom as the way to the fear of God and to virtue. Now his admonition becomes positive, and he shows the blessings that come from pursuing the way of wisdom. He did this by interweaving conditions and promises. Wisdom comes from God and no one can enjoy it who does not choose God's paths. The difficulty of obtaining wisdom 2: Even though Wisdom wants people to adopt her 1: Wisdom is not a power inherent in man, but something that God gives. The person who wants her has to work hard for her v.
If understanding does not come easily, one should work harder to obtain it. The "fear of the Lord" emphasizes awe, and the "knowledge of God" stresses intimacy v. Christians Are Us 2 Peter 3: CBish I am a mess, but I'm deeply loved by God. Welcome To Vision It's not about getting blessed, it's about being a blessing.