Solomon not only wrote Proverbs, but he also wrote Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, and two of the Psalms. Not too many people realize how prolific he was in the Scriptures. Much of Proverbs was what he wrote as advice to his “son”. Unfortunately, not one of his sons seemingly adhered to what he said. He was the last single King of both Israel and Judah. After that Israel and Judah were split led by their sons or various other malefactors. Greed and power became the words of the day.
For us in this writing, we shall turn our attention to Proverbs (as we said written by Solomon other than the last chapter written by King Lemuel). The way the verses are structured followed the traditional method in those days by many kings, leaders, and fathers. Usually, the verse starts with an observation, followed by a reply.
It is apparent that Solomon was concerned about the current culture and how men and women related to each other; and how business was transacted. The entire theme was that of a positive nature and correct living as God would expect.
Some key areas mentioned are wisdom, instruction, understanding, justice, judgment, equity, knowledge, and discretion. The reader is expected to apply himself to learning so that he may gain wisdom for how to live. Verse seven sets the pace for the rest of the book. It says, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
Other words frequent in the book of Proverbs are fool, sluggard, shame, poor, fear, anger, and riches. Frequently, advice is given to parents about how to discipline their child. In fact, family life is one of the key foci in the book.
We should pay particular attention to a word that occurs often in Proverbs. It is the word abomination. This is not a word we use today in our culture, but it was used two thousand years ago or before. The following may give us a better understanding of the word that refers to God considering something abominable or men having a similar reaction. First let us say that when the word is used it is talking about hatred toward evil or a very bad thing. It could not only refer to something in a singular matter it can also refer to something expressing degrees or a variety of what is hated. It can mean revulsion at a great wrong, a disgust, contempt, a reaction related to a moral wrong, loathing.
Another theme was the influence of a father and a mother. The writer encourages the son to listen and obey. There is a contrast between gracious, honorable in the text to that of a “strange woman, an adulterous affair.” The last chapter written by King Lemuel shares the portrait of a virtuous wife. Verse thirty says, “a woman that fears the Lord, she shall be praised.”
Some verses in Proverbs are often quoted, but we may not realize from where they came. For instance, chapter 3, verse five and six says, “trust in the Lord with all thy heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. in all my ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” Chapter 9, verse ten says, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Chapter 14, verse twelve says, “there’s a way which seems right into man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” Chapter 20, verse one says, “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.” Chapter 22, verse six says, “train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Chapter 29, verse eighteen says, “where there is no vision, the people perish.”
Early in my ministry I came across Chapter 6, verse six that says, “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise.” I did exactly that! I went out to the driveway, got on my hands and knees, and watched ants. My wife happened to look out the window and thought I was nuts. Of course, the following verses answer that suggestion in the verse. It is talking how the ants were so well organized to prepare food when the season was right to store up when the season was wrong.
There are some Proverbs that Jesus mentioned or that are similar to what he said. An example is in Chapter 3, verse twenty-eight that says, “Say not unto thy neighbor, Go, and come again, and tomorrow I will give; when thou hast it by thee.” The Apostle Paul also refers to some of the writings to Proverbs.
By what I have offered in this blog, you can see that the book of Proverbs is valuable to everyday life. It is not a portion of the Bible that should be overlooked. The advice of Chapter 16, verse twenty applies to all we could mention about our appreciation of this book. It says, “He that handles a matter wisely shall find good: and whoso trusts in the Lord, happy is he.”