Seeking Wisdom in Proverbs

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John Chasteen

The purpose of these proverbs is to teach people wisdom and discipline, and to help them understand wise sayings.
—Prov. 1:2, NLT

Are you looking for “ancient
wisdom” with a modern application? Look no further; the book of Proverbs
contains your answer! Proverbs is a unique collection of short, pithy
sayings designed to impart wisdom, understanding and knowledge.

Proverbs is undoubtedly one of
the most practical books in the entire Bible. Why? Because it deals with
the practical, everyday issues of life. Oddly enough, little if any
mention is made in the book about heaven or the afterlife. Rather, it is
packed with information about living in the here and now.

According to 1 Kings 4:32,
Solomon composed most of the book by writing more than 3,000 proverbs
and 1,005 songs. Scholars believe Solomon started the book about 970
B.C., and Hezekiah completed and compiled it approximately 200 years
later (see Prov. 25:1). Other authors include Lemuel, Agur and other
wise men of the time.

The Scriptures give us glimpses
of Solomon’s influence and wisdom. He was believed to have been a
botanist, zoologist and lover of animals. He was also an architect,
statesman, orator, ambassador, poet, judge and counselor. Finally, he
was a “marriage expert”!

One of his royal visitors
affirmed Solomon this way: “’Everything I heard in my country about your
achievements and wisdom is true! I didn’t believe it until I arrived
here and saw it with my own eyes. Truly I had not heard the half of it!
Your wisdom and prosperity are far greater than what I was told’” (1
Kings 10:6-7, NLT).

The style of the book of
Proverbs places it in the section of the Bible scholars label “Books of
Poetry.” This does not mean poetry as we know it in the Western world,
with rhyme and meter. Rather, it means a simple setting forth of the
truth in parabolic manner. Most ancient cultures in the Middle East had
what is called “wisdom writings.” The book of Proverbs falls into this

Don’t let the idea of a Hebraic
proverb throw you. The style is common to every language. The Hebrew
word for proverb, masal, means “to be like, to compare to, or, is like.”
As we study language or people groups, we find that each one has its

Have you ever heard someone use
statements such as “dumb as a rock” or “stubborn as a mule”? These are
contemporary examples of the use of proverbs. We use them daily.

Much more could be said about
the book of Proverbs, but it’s time to start reading. Are you ready?
Pick up your Bible and dive in!

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