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By Gene McCarty

    The book of Proverbs is unusual in comparison to the other books of the Bible. This is a book full of wise sayings, and is generally credited to Solomon. Few of these proverbs are written in such a way that they appear to have come thru divine revelation. On the other hand we suppose that the basis for the book is that Solomon received great wisdom from God as he began to rule his kingdom. 
    Solomon had a great interest in learning and this book is sort of a textbook of wisdom. The book may not appear to be organized as we begin to read it, however as we look more carefully we see that it is organized into a number of sections. We will look at the book in five sections.

  1. The first section consists of chapters 1 thru 9. This section of the book contrasts folly and wisdom, and includes many statements that are very thought provoking. Perhaps the key to the whole book is Proverbs 1:7 "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline." This concept is enlarged in the 2nd chapter as the statement is made that those who search for wisdom will find knowledge of God, and wisdom will save your from the ways of wickedness. Proverbs 5:3 says "Let love and faithfulness never leave you". The 7th. verse charges us, "Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil." Verse 27 directs us "Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act." Much that remains of this section contains warnings against adultery.

  2. The second section begins in chapter 10 and concludes with chapter 24. This section of the book is considered to have been written and edited by Solomon. These proverbs seem general in nature. There is not one subject that seems to be emphasized more that another. One of the statements often repeated in the book is included in Proverbs 11:1 "The Lord abhors dishonest scales, but accurate scales are his delight." Another statement that is often quoted is, "There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death." Proverbs 14:12 Another statement that is thought provoking to me is in Proverbs 14:31 "He who oppressed the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God." Another powerful statement is Proverbs 17:28 "Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent". Another statement that is sure to catch attention is, "Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife." Proverbs 21:9. I challenge you to note the seven lives of the righteous as explained in Proverbs 24:15-16.

  3. The third section begins with chapter 25 and includes chapter 29. This section is a collection of the sayings of Solomon collected by the men of Hezekiah. This section of the book is special in that it provides some of the teachings of the parables of Jesus in an old testament setting. Compare Proverbs 25:6-7 with Luke 14:7-11. Proverbs 29:3 compares with Luke 15:11-32. Proverbs 25:21 is quoted directly in Rom. 12:20. Chapter twenty six includes a section that deals with the fool, then the sluggard, and finally the gossip. In about the middle of chapter 29 there is a section on the need for discipline for our children. These are a few of the interesting areas of this part of Proverbs.

  4. Chapter 30 is credited to Agur who may have been a friend of Solomon. This chapter is very different from earlier chapters of Proverbs. It uses listings by number as the form or outline, and makes a number of moral points.

  5. Chapter 31 is credited to King Lemuel. It is suggested by some that Lemuel is the name Bathsheba gave to Solomon, so this may be a proverb from Bathsheba. The chapter begins by discouraging the use of strong drink, and continues by describing the perfect wife.

   Copyright 2000, Charles Valentine