The Hebrew word for “proverb” (mashal) means “a contrast or comparison.” A proverb is a concise precept that states a profound truth to help govern daily conduct. A proverb uses a figure of speech or an illustration to make a practical observation about life. The brevity and pragmatism of a proverb helps imprint it on the mind.

As a book of Hebrew poetry, synonymous parallelism, antithetic parallelism and synthetic parallelism are used throughout. Solomon employs literary devices such as imagery, personification, antithesis, and comparison. Subjects include diligence, justice, sobriety, morality, ethics, obedience, pride, anger, social relations, communication, fidelity, and wealth.

The book of Proverbs helps ensure a happy life by imparting moral discretion and spiritual perception. Proverbs is a conduct manual that encourages the attainment of wisdom in all areas of human experience. Foolishness is always punished while godly wisdom is always rewarded. True wisdom is founded on respect for God and His Word. The one who does not respond to God’s wisdom is depicted as naïve, a scoffer, or a fool. God’s worldview is proposed as the only wise option, leading those who obey Him into a disciplined and prosperous life.   

Essay Questions

1. What does First Kings 4:29-34 state regarding Solomon’s proverbial wisdom?

2. Compare Proverbs 3:34 and James 4:6. How are these verses similar? Using a cross-reference Bible, list ten other “proverbs” in the book of James that correspond to verses in Proverbs.

3. Various passages in Proverbs personify wisdom as a woman, referring to wisdom as “she” and “her.” Find these passages and explain why wisdom is depicted as feminine.

4. From Proverbs, answer the following questions concerning foolishness.

What do fools despise?  15:5

What does the fool take no pleasure in?  18:2

What is said concerning a fool’s anger?  12:16

What do fools hate?  1:7 & 1:22

What do all fools do?  20:3 & 21:20

What does a fool say?  29:11

What does a foolish woman do?  9:13 & 14:1

What do fools laugh at?  14:9

What will kill a fool?  10:21

5. From Proverbs, answer the following questions concerning wisdom.

What is found in the home of a wise person?  21:20

How is wisdom demonstrated?  12:15

What jewel is less precious than wisdom?  3:15

To whom is wisdom compared?  7:4

What will a wise person do?  29:11

According to II Timothy 3:15, what will make us wise?

What attributes are closely linked with wisdom?  3:21 & 8:12

According to Proverbs 11:30, how is wisdom demonstrated?

What is the result of obtaining wisdom?  3:13

 


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