Summary: This is an introduction to the book of Proverbs.
The Wisdom of God
Introduction to the Book of Proverbs
Today we are beginning a brand new study of God’s Word. The Book of Proverbs is a gold mine for those who desire to live life to its fullest in the will of God. Proverbs has been studied, memorized, quoted, and applied to life for thousands of years and yet its wisdom has never become outdated, its principles have never failed, and its power for shaping the lives of young and old alike has never been diminished.
As we begin our study of this powerful book I want to simply give us an introduction to the material that we will be studying for the next several weeks. In our introduction I want us to come to understand the author, the intent, and the scope of Proverbs wide-reaching teaching.
The Book of Proverbs is attributed to King Solomon, the son of Israel’s greatest King, King David. Solomon was the tenth son of David and the second son born to Bathsheba. He became the third King of Israel following his father, David, and he reigned as King of Israel for about 40 years, between the years 965-922 B.C. In 1 Kings 4 we read about Solomon’s wisdom and the source of the wisdom Solomon possessed. Turn with me to verse 29 and let’s read about the depth of Solomon’s wisdom.
29God gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore. 30Solomon’s wisdom was greater than the wisdom of all the men of the East, and greater than all the wisdom of Egypt. 31He was wiser than any other man, including Ethan the Ezrahite—wiser than Heman, Calcol and Darda, the sons of Mahol. And his fame spread to all the surrounding nations. 32He spoke three thousand proverbs and his songs numbered a thousand and five. 33He described plant life, from the cedar of Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of walls. He also taught about animals and birds, reptiles and fish. 34Men of all nations came to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, sent by all the kings of the world, who had heard of his wisdom. (1 Kings 4:29-34 NIV)
As you can easily see, Solomon was one wise dude. God had blessed him with an incredible mind. Solomon was wise beyond anyone who has ever lived. He spoke 3,000 proverbs and wrote over 1,000 songs. He could speak with authority and confidence about topics like botany, biology, zoology, herpetology, ornithology, and ichthyology, but the greatest wisdom Solomon shared was wisdom pertaining to living life. Men came from nations far and wide to simply sit and listen to Solomon speak.
Most of the proverbs that we will be studying are from King Solomon. I say most because not all of the proverbs in the Book of Proverbs are attributed to Solomon. In Proverbs 1:1 we read, 1 “The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel:” (Proverbs 1:1 NIV) In Proverbs 10:1 we read Solomon’s name attached to the wise sayings that follow. When we come to Proverbs 25:1 we see Solomon’s name once again, but this time we see that it was Hezekiah’s men who had copied the proverbs of Solomon. Take a look with me. 1 “These are more proverbs of Solomon, copied by the men of Hezekiah king of Judah:” (Proverbs 25:1 NIV) What’s interesting about this is that Hezekiah reigned about 250 years after the time of Solomon. This shows us that the completed Book of Proverbs was more of a process that covered many, many years instead of a late night writing frenzy undertaken by King Solomon.
Along with these proverbs of Solomon we also find at least two places where people other than Solomon contributed wisdom to the book. In Proverbs 30:1 we read, 1The sayings of Agur son of Jakeh—an oracle: (Proverbs 30:1 NIV) We don’t have much information about Agur, but we do know that he wasn’t an Israelite.
In the very next chapter, Proverbs 31, we read, 1The sayings of King Lemuel—an oracle his mother taught him: (Proverbs 31:1 NIV) The entire chapter is dedicated to the things King Lemuel’s mother taught him while he was growing up. What were those important lessons his mother taught him? I’m so glad you asked. She taught him to avoid loose women. She told him to stay away from wine and beer or they would ruin his future. She taught him to always take time to reach out and care for those who are hurting, to speak up for the little people who have no voice, and to defend the rights of those who are being treated unfairly. Last of all, she drilled the young man on the importance of finding a wife with a noble character. In verse 30, Lemuel writes, 30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. (Proverbs 31:30 NIV) I would say that Lemuel’s mom was a very wise woman. Doesn’t she sound like many of the mothers of our day who are trying to teach their kids how to be wise and make godly decisions?