DATES: Sunday 11th September to Sunday 2nd October 2022

WHAT WE WANT FOR PEOPLE: To be empowered to cultivate a strong and healthy mind, body and soul according to the ways of Jesus and His Kingdom.

BOOK: Proverbs

KEY NOTES:

  • Practical Living being a great time to speak into healthy relationships, managing money, self-control etc. higher guest time, people open to starting new things, habits, lifestyle changes etc. all of this flows well with spring

KEY TEXT:

Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or swerve from them. Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. Wisdom is supreme; therefore, get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.” Proverbs 4:5-7 (NIV)

BOOK OVERVIEW:

Author/s:

The book of Proverbs is called a collection of collections”, as it is the compilation of writings from various known and unknown authors (Israelite and non-Israelite). We have to remember as we are reading the Wisdom books: Proverbs, Job, Ecclesiastes. That in the Jewish culture the ‘Wise men’ were on the same level as the Prophet and Priest.

The book is divided into sections and the different authors are noted:

  • Title, Introduction and Purpose (Solomon): 1:1-7
  • A Father’s Praise of Wisdom (Solomon): 1:8-9:18
  • Proverbs of Solomon: 10:1-22:16
  • a. Words of Wise Men: (unknown authors) 22:17-24:
  • b.  Further Sayings of Wise Men: (unknown authors) 24:23-24
  • Further Proverbs of Solomon: 25:1-29:27
  • Words of Agur: 30:1-33
  • Words of King Lemuel: 31:9-
  • An Alphabet of Wifely Excellence: 31:10-31

The primary author of Proverbs is Solomon, King David’s son. Solomon wrote 3000 Proverbs, 800 of which are in the book of Proverbs. Some of his Proverbs are letters written to his son, others are short pithy 2-line statements (couplets) that were written in such a way that they would be verbally repeatable and memorable. Sometimes the first and second line of these statements express or amplify a similar sentiment; on other occasions they present an opposite view.

Proverbs are wise principles and instructions based on observations and experiences of life they are not unconditional promises. These writings are guidelines about how to behave well, how to live correctly and general ‘laws of life’. Proverbs generally operate on the principle that consequences follow actions: you reap what you sow. Most proverbs are statements that express truths about human behaviour. The Hebrew word – masal – which is translated as proverb, basically means a comparison.

▪ Sometimes the writer makes a general observation (eg Pr 26:13, 14) ▪ Mostly the writer evaluates conduct (eg Pr 6:6-8)
▪ Many proverbs describe the consequences of a particular action or character trait (eg Pr 6:9-11)

Historical Context and Literature Style:

As most of the Proverbs were written by King Solomon, they would have been authored when Israel was a United Kingdom around 1000BC.

Wisdom literature at the time was written to:

  1. Give instructions for living while pondering the difficulties of life.
  2. Concerned more with practical and philosophical matters, rather than historical or theological.
  3. Wisdom books are written by the ‘wise men’ or ‘sages’. These educated people were highly regarded in society at that time and were called upon to give advice to the king and to instruct the young. They were as important as the prophet and priest and were responsible for creating and preserving wisdom. There were wise men throughout Israel and the neighbouring countries of the Middle East (Egypt and Mesoptamia) and the Bible speaks about these wise men with respect.

Proverbs is also known as Poetic literature as the writings contain many poetic devices, such as figurative language (use of metaphors, similes and personification). An example of personification is that both wisdom and folly are described throughout the book as a woman. The book finishes with an acrostic poem of the Hebrew alphabet depicting lady wisdom as a wise, competent and virtuous woman – wife, mother, manager of her household, businesswoman and influential member of society.

The Core Message:

Proverbs is known as the book of Wisdom and is a practical book about living. The wisdom contained in this book guides people into living a happy, prosperous, successful and healthy life, by avoiding the pitfalls of folly.

In Chapter 1, the purpose of the book is noted: “for attaining wisdom” (1:2-3) along with who the book was intended to benefit (1:4-5):

▪ The ‘simple’ (those who are immature, naïve, inexperienced)
▪ The ‘young’ (in particular young men and some of the early chapters are written from a father to a son)
▪ The ‘wise’ (so they would become wiser Proverbs 9:9)

So, what is wisdom?

Wisdom means being skilful and successful in one’s relationships and responsibilities’

Source: Learning from the Sages: Selected Studies on the Book of Proverbs, Zuck, Roy B. Ed.

Wisdom in the book of Proverbs is described with different terms: insight, understanding, discipline, teaching, instruction, knowledge, prudence and discernment.

Jesus says about wisdom:
‘But wisdom is proved right by her actions.’ Matthew 11:19b

Biblical wisdom is practical not theoretical. Proverbs helps us to make wise decisions by discerning the consequences of our choices. These choices may encompass wise or foolish; righteous or unrighteous; or bad, best or better options. Proverbs gives wise instruction on many areas of life. This includes the words we speak, relationships, areas of character, issues of the heart, sexual morality, work and money.

Pastor Phill Baker’s thoughts on wisdom:

Wisdom is, as wisdom does.

The translation of knowledge into the stuff of living is the test of authentic wisdom.

Knowledge concerns the head, whereas wisdom proceeds from the heart.

Wisdom – Phillip Baker

Proverbs says, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (1:7, 9:10). True wisdom is to have a loving reverence of God, to be submitted to his Lordship and to obey his commands.

To summarise, the main aim and encouragement of Proverbs is for people to get wisdom. The rich benefits of wisdom are highlighted, and true wisdom is expressed in our reverence of God, and the decisions we make and how we live in our everyday life.

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