Summary: Proverbs is a guide book that teachings its readers how to lead wise, godly lives and how to avoid the pitfalls of unwise, ungodly behavior.
LIVING A WISE LIFE
[Proverbs 10: 17]
The book of Proverbs is sound sense for successful living. It is so needed today because as late British poet T. S. Eliot asked; "Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?"
We are living in an "age of instant information"-but it is obvious that information has not birth an "age of wisdom." Many people who are wizards with their computers are making a failure of life. Computers can store data and instantly transfer it anywhere to anyone, but they cannot give us the ability to understand that knowledge or use it wisely. What we need today is wisdom.
Proverbs is a guide book that teachings its readers how to lead wise, godly lives and how to avoid the pitfalls of unwise, ungodly behavior. It has a broad, timeless appeal because of its great variety of subjects and their relevance to everyday life. Proverbs is God's book on "how to wise up and live." "It is impossible for any persons to study the book of Proverbs an not profit by it." [Adam Clarke's Commentary] It is God's treasure book of wisdom.
[Woven into human fabric is the desire to learn and understand. Our minds set us apart from animals. We analyze, conceptualize, theorize, discuss, and debate everything from science to the supernatural. And we build schools, institutes, and universities where learned professors can teach us about the world and about life. Life Application Bible. Zondervan. 1070]
Knowledge is good, but there is a vast difference between "knowledge" (having the facts) and "wisdom" (applying those facts to life). We may amass knowledge, but without wisdom, our knowledge is profitless. We must learn how to live out what we know. This is the purpose of the book of Proverbs. It's aim is to teach people how to attain divine wisdom and apply it to daily life in a successful manner.
I like the way Max Lucado puts it. "Proverbs is a collection of lamps...Lamps that do for your heart what lamps in your house do for your eyes. They chase away the darkness... [Studying] Proverbs turns on the lamps in the dark corners of life.....Time spent with Proverbs makes a heart wise. It is a practical guide for getting along with God... [and] people" [Life Lessons Study Bible. Thomas Nelson, 2010. 846.] Why don't you commit yourself to come each Wednesday night study? If you will, God will flip on more than a few lights for you.
I. PROVERBS THAT GIVE INSIGHT
II. SOLOMON'S GIFT OF WISDOM.
The book begins (in verse 1) by stating its type of literature and its author. "The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, King of Israel.
The word "proverbs" relays not only the title of the book but also designates the type of book. Our English word Proverbs is a compound of two Latin words; "pro" which means "before, for" and "verba" which means "a word, speech, or saying." The word refers to what comes before many words. It is a saying that contains more than meets the eye. Proverbs are concise sayings with extended meanings.
The Hebrew word, "mashal" ( ) gives better insight into the nature of the wisdom sayings. Mashal means "to rule or to govern" indicating these sayings are reminders and admonitions that provide profound advice for governing our lives. The LXX word is paroimia and means likeness or a comparison. [The verbal root of the Greek word means "to be like, parallel, or similar."]
Proverbs summarize in a few choice words practical truths relating to some aspect of everyday life. The Spanish novelist Cervantes defined a proverb as a "short sentence based on long experience." As brief precepts proverbs are distilled, to-the-point sentences about life. They boil down, crystallize, and condense the experiences and observations of the writers. Here, they are divine wisdom applied to daily life.
The brief but concentrated nature of the precepts cause the reader to reflect on their meanings. They tell what life is like and how life should be lived. In a terse, no-words-wasted fashion, some statements in Proverbs relate what is commonly observed in life; others recommend or exhort how life should be lived. And when advice is given, a reason for the counsel usually follows.
The sayings of this book form a library of instruction on how to live a godly life here on earth so that you are assured of reward in heaven. These pithy down to earth sayings are I easily grasped, and convey practical wisdom. These proverbs are not so much popular sayings as they are distillation of wisdom from applying the Word of God.
Proverbs are a more ancient form of communication but not out dated today. These gems and jewels are neither dimmed by time nor superceded by worldly fashion. A queen is adorned by an old jewel just as readily as a new one. Today we have become so wordy, our books so numerous, and our intellects so far fetched, that we use few proverbs. What should be wrapped in one impacting sentence we spread out into paragraphs. Instead of nuggets of gold on a jeweled bracelet we have delivered words like grains of sand in leaky trucks. As teachers tell their students that are constantly talking in class "empty barrels make the most noise."