The Book of Proverbs is one of my favorite portions of Scripture. It is basic, and especially helpful for young people, or those new in the faith. This study analyzes some of the lessons we can gain from Proverbs.
How Proverbs Teach Us
Proverbs are pro-verbs, which describe positive actions, showing us how to live. The over-all lesson of the Book of Proverbs is that wisdom comes from Gods Holy Spirit. Wisdom comes from above.
There are five purposes of Proverbs, given in verses 2-6 of chapter 1:
(1) To know wisdom and instruction,
(2) To perceive words of understanding,
(3) To receive instruction (correction) of wisdom, justice, judgment and equity, so that we know what is right,
(4) To give subtility to the simple, and knowledge and discretion to the young person,
(5) To deeply understand the words of the wise.
Paul N. Benware, author of Survey of the Old Testament, page 158, says,
Because Proverbs touches on every area of life, it is a favorite book of believers. It is not only relevant to life, but shows that God is interested in every area of life.
Chapters 1-29 of the Book of Proverbs were written by King Solomon around 950 B.C. Proverbs 30 was written by Agur the son of Jakeh, and Proverbs 31 by King Lemuel. Some say these are veiled references to Solomon himself.
A proverb is a brief, often easy-to-remember, saying that is used to communicate deep spiritual truth. The root of the Hebrew word for proverb means “to govern,” or “rule.” Proverbs are wise, concise sayings used to govern our lives and conduct.
Proverbs often present a contrast between the right way and the wrong way, or the wise and fools (e.g. 15:20, “A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish man despiseth his mother.”). Sometimes, proverbs parallel similar concepts (e.g. 19:13, “A foolish son is the calamity of his father: and the contentions of a wife are a continual dropping.”).
Wisdom Begins With the Fear of God
In summary, Proverbs show that wisdom begins with a right relationship with God, (1:7, 9:10). Unless you “fear the LORD” (revere and respect Him in a right relationship), you cannot live an abundant life.
How do you respond to the call of wisdom? If you are wise, you will heed and receive the Truth, and become discerning (prudent). On the other hand, the naive person doesn’t listen to wisdom, and is easily deceived in life, “doing his own thing.” The scoffer is cynical and sarcastic toward Gods wisdom and can’t live rightly because of his attitude. And, worse of all, the fool has rejected God’s wisdom, lives wickedly, and will ultimately suffer the consequences of sin. So, be wise and listen to the wisdom of Proverbs.
Wisdom comes from God, but we have to seek it out (2:1-12). We should not stop with fearing the LORD, but go on through much study to learn more of Gods Truth and increase in wisdom. This will keep us from making tragic errors in judgment (e.g. 7:6-23), and bring abundant blessings (8:35).
Can we learn from Solomon, who started out seeking wisdom, and later turned from the Almighty to serve idols, and experience life apart from the Creator? Solomon was the ideal author for Proverbs, because he is an object lesson for us. His failures validate the truths he presents.
Proverbs By Topic Teaches Lessons
The Book of Proverbs teaches us about adultery, anger, children, correction, counsel, fear, fools, marriage, poverty and riches, pride, tithing, weights and measures, wine, work, and many other principles. Lets learn by grouping the proverbs together by related topic. In the following section, I will paraphrase the verses, but you should follow along in your own Bible.
Adultery Leads to Death
Illicit sex seems enticing, but actually is very dangerous and harmful, leading to death. Today, many young people feel they have to live together to get to know each other to decide if they want to get married. However, marriage is a commitment for life, and you do not learn commitment and faithfulness by being uncommitted and unfaithful! How are you going to know who you are marrying? You need faith from God, you need counsel. You need Gods power to work a miracle to help you find a good wife or husband from the LORD.
2:16-19 A strange woman leads to death
5:3-21 Lips of a strange woman are like honeycomb, but the end of dallying with her is like wormwood
6:24-35 Can a man take fire into his bosom, and his clothes not be burned?
7:5-27 The harlots house is the way of death
9:13-18 Stolen waters are sweet, but the dead are there
22:14 Mouth of strange woman is a deep pit
23:27-28 A whore is a deep ditch, lying in wait for her prey
29:3 He that keeps company with harlots spends his father’s substance
30:20 Adulterous woman says: “I have done no wickedness.”
Anger: It is Prudent to Control It!
Controlling your own anger shows great strength of character. Anyone can explode in wrath, but a really strong person can control his/her own emotions.
16:32 One slow to anger is better than the mighty, rule your spirit
19:11 It is prudent to defer anger, a glory to pass over a transgression
19:19 A man of great wrath shall suffer punishment
22:24-25 Make no friendship with an angry man
25:28 If you can’t rule your own spirit, you are like a broken down city
Animals: Be Kind to Them
Righteous people are kind to their animals.
12:10 A righteous man regards the life of his beast
Changers Are Not to Be Trusted
You should avoid people who always change what they believe and practice.
24:21 Meddle not with those who are given to change
Children Are to Be Instructed By Their Parents
Parents need to discipline their children, and children need to heed the instruction of their parents. Some of us children have never grown up! We need to listen to our Heavenly Fathers instructions.
1:8-9 Listen to your parents instruction
1:10-19 Dont be enticed by sinners, sin results in misery and death
2:1-4 Listen to wisdom, cry out for, seek her as silver
3:1 Don’t forget Gods laws and commandments
3:11-12 don’t despise Gods chastening
4:1 Hear ye children, the instruction of your fathers
10:1 A wise son makes a glad father
13:1 A wise son hears his father’s instruction
13:22 A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children
13:24 He that spares his rod hates his son
15:20 A wise son makes a glad father
17:6 Grandchildren are the crown of old men, the glory of children are their fathers
17:25 A foolish son is grief and bitterness to his parents
19:13 A foolish son is the calamity of his father
19:18 Chasten your son while there is hope
19:26-27 He that wasteth his father, chases away his mother, causes shame, brings reproach
20:7 A just mans children are blessed after him
20:11 Even a child is known by his doings
20:20 Whoso curses his parents, his candle shall be put out
22:6 Train up a child in way he should go, and when he is old, he wont depart from it
22:15 Foolishness is bound in childs heart, but the rod of correction will drive it far from him
23:13-14 Withhold not correction, punishment shall deliver him from the grave
23:22 Listen to your parents
23:24-25 Parents of wise children shall have joy
28:24 Robbers of parents are destroyers
29:15,17 Child left to himself brings his mother to shame
30:11 A generation that curses father, doesnt bless mother
30:17 Ravens shall pick out the eye that mocks its father
Correction Is Necessary
A wise person receives instruction, but a fool hates reproof. We need to respond, and learn, by the correction we receive.
9:7-9 Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate you; rebuke a wise man and he will love you
10:17 Be in the way of life: keep instruction
15:10 Correction is grievous to him that forsakes the way, he that hates reproof shall die
15:31 The ear that hears the reproof of life lives among the wise
Counsel Results in Wise Decisions
One should seek, and listen to, wise counsel in order to make proper decisions. In the multitude of counsel there is safety. Young people today need counsel more then ever before, especially in regards to marriage and finance. Few realize that, in spite of technological advances, parents today are generally better educated than their offspring, because our educational system has deteriorated.
11:14 In the multitude of counsel there is safety
12:15 He that hearkens to counsel is wise
15:22 Without counsel, purposes are disappointed
19:20-21 Hear counsel, receive wise instruction from LORD
20:18 Every purpose is established by counsel
20:5 Counsel is like deep water, needs to be drawn out
24:6 In the multitude of counselors there is safety
27:9 Hearty counsel rejoices the heart
Education Results in Success
One should seek, and obtain, a good education in order to succeed.
14:35 Kings favor a wise servant
22:17 Apply your heart to Gods knowledge (also 23:12)
24:3 Through wisdom a house is built
Don’t Envy the Wicked
Don’t envy evil persons, realize that in the end, they are losers.
24:1 Don’t envy evil men
Fear of the LORD Leads to Life
Proper fear and respect of our Heavenly Father, in departing from evil, is the beginning of wisdom, and leads to eternal life.
1:7 Fear of LORD is the beginning of wisdom
1:29 Haters of knowledge don’t choose to fear the LORD
1:33 Listen to God, and you will be quiet from fear of evil
2:4-5 Seek wisdom, and you will understand the fear of the LORD
3:6 Acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths
3:7 Fear of the LORD is to depart from evil
3:24 When you lie down, you shall not be afraid
8:13 Fear of LORD is to hate evil
9:10 Fear of LORD is beginning of wisdom
10:27 Fear of LORD prolongs your life
14:26-27 Fear of LORD is a fountain of life
15:16 Better a little with fear of LORD than great treasure with trouble
19:23 Fear of LORD tends to life
Don’t Be a Fool!
Fools despise wisdom and instruction, hate knowledge, and mock sin. Considering their end result, we should avoid fools.
1:7 Fools despise wisdom and instruction
1:22 Fools hate knowledge
1:32 Fools prosperity shall destroy them
3:35 Shame is the promotion of fools
14:7 Go from the presence of a foolish man
14:9 Fools make a mock at sin
26:4-5 Answer a fool, don’t answer a fool, according to his folly
28:26 He that trusts in his own heart is a fool
We Need True Friends
True friends build you up, but in order to have friends, you have to make the effort to be friendly.
17:17 A friend loves at all times, a brother is born for adversity
18:24 A man that has friends must be friendly
27:17 Iron sharpens iron, like a man his friend
Government: Righteous Rulers Needed
Good government comes from having righteous rulers.
29:2 When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice
29:4 A wise king establishes the land, but bribery overthrows it
29:12 If a ruler listens to lies, all his servants are wicked
29:14 If a king faithfully judges poor, his throne will be established forever
Health Results From Inner Happiness
Happy people are likely to be healthy. Much sickness comes from unhappy, wrong living.
15:13 A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance
15:15 A merry heart has a continual feast
17:22 A merry heart does good like medicine, a broken spirit dries the bones
Honey is Good In Moderation
It is good to eat honey, but too much makes you sick.
24:13 Eat honey and honeycomb, because it is good
25:16,27 Don’t eat too much honey, don’t boast
Law Keeping Is the Basis of Wisdom
Those who keep the law are happy and blessed.
28:4 Forsakers of the law praise the wicked
28:7 Whoso keeps the law is a wise son
28:9 Prayers of law rejectors are an abomination
29:18 With no vision, the people perish; happy is keeper of the law
Liars Are an Abomination to God
God hates liars, but will establish those who tell the truth, forever.
12:19 The lip of truth shall be established forever
12:22 Lying lips are abomination to the LORD
19:5, 9 A false witness shall not be unpunished
21:6 Getting treasures by a lying tongue is vanity
Marriage: A Good Wife is From the LORD
A virtuous, good wife is a priceless gift from God, but it is better to live alone than live with a contentious woman.
11:22 A fair woman without discretion is like a jewel in a swine’s snout
12:4 A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband
14:1 A wise woman builds her house; a foolish one plucks it down
18:22 A good wife is from the LORD
19:13 The contentions of a wife are like a continual [rain] dropping
19:14 A prudent wife is from the LORD
21:9 Better to dwell in an attic, than in a big house with a brawling woman
21:19 Better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and angry woman
25:24 Better to live in an attic, than in a wide house with a brawling woman
27:15 Unceasing raindrops and a contentious woman are alike
30:19 A wonderful thing: way of a man with a maid
30:23 Earth cannot bear an odious woman when she is married (like Mrs. Olesen on the television show, Little House on the Prairie)
31:10-31 Description of a virtuous woman
Perserverance: Never Give Up!
Never give up, and with God’s help, you will succeed. Realize that the Almighty is the source of your strength.
24:10 If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small
24:16 A just man falls 7 times, and rises again
Poor and Rich: True Riches Come From God
We should help the poor, and not trust in riches, which fly away. It is better to be neither poor nor rich.
10:22 The blessing of the LORD makes rich without sorrow
11:4 Riches don’t profit in the day of wrath
11:25 Liberal soul shall be made fat
11:28 He that trusts in his riches shall fall
13:7 Some make themselves rich, but have nothing; others make themselves poor, yet have great riches
13:11 Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished
16:8 A little with righteousness better than great revenues without right
17:5 Whoso mocks the poor reproaches his Maker
18:23 Poor use entreaties, rich answer roughly
19:4 Wealth makes many friends, but the poor is separated from his neighbor
19:6-7 The poor don’t have friends, every one is a friend to him that gives gifts
19:17 He that pities the poor lends to the LORD, He will repay
21:13 Whoso stops his ears at the cry of the poor shall cry, but not be heard
22:1 A good name is better than great riches
22:7 The rich rule over the poor, borrower is servant to lender
22:16 Both the oppressor of poor, and the giver to the rich, shall come to want
22:22 Rob not the poor, neither oppress the afflicted
23:4-5 Labor not to rich, for riches fly away like an eagle
28:27 He that gives to the poor shall not lack
29:7 The righteous consider the cause of the poor
30:7-9 Give me neither poverty nor riches
31:9 Plead for the cause of the poor and needy
Pride Brings You Low; Humility Produces Honor
Pride leads to shame and destruction, but righteous humility receives honor from the Almighty. God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Don’t think you “know it all,” for you need God.
11:2 Pride comes with shame, humility comes with wisdom
15:33 Before honor is humility
16:18-19 Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall
22:4 By humility and fear of LORD are riches, honor, and life
26:12 A man wise in his own conceit is worse than a fool
27:2 Let another man praise you
29:23 Pride brings a man low; humility produces honor
30:13 A generation with lofty eyes
Tithing Results in Blessings
Honoring God with tithes produces blessings.
3:9-10 Honor God with your substance, He will bless you
11:24 Give much, you increase; give little and you become poor
Control Your Tongue, and You Control Your Life
Your tongue can either lead to your destruction, or your eternal life. We must control our tongues, speaking words that tend to life, rather than be ensnared by our words.
10:11 The mouth of the righteous is a well of life
10:12 Love covers sins
10:18-21 In multitude of words there is sin
10:31 Mouth of just brings forth wisdom
11:9 A hypocrite with his mouth destroys his neighbor
11:13 A talebearer reveals secrets
12:13 The wicked is ensnared by the transgression of his lips
12:14 A man shall be satisfied with good by fruit of his mouth
12:18 The tongue of wise is health
13:2-3 He that keeps his mouth, keeps his life
15:1-2 A soft answer turns away wrath
15:4 A wholesome tongue is a tree of life
15:28 The righteous study to answer, but the wicked mouth pours out evil
16:24 Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to soul, health to bones
16:27-28 An ungodly man digs up evil, his lips a burning fire; a whisperer separates friends
17:9 Love covers a transgression, gossip separates friends
17:27-28 Spare your words, even a fool holds his peace and is counted wise in other words, “a closed mouth gathers no flies”
18:4-8 A fools mouth is his destruction, and the words of a talebearer are as wounds
18:13 It is a shame to answer a matter before you hear it
18:19-21 A brother offended is harder to be won [back] than a strong city; death and life are in the tongue
20:19 Meddle not with flatterers
21:23 Whoso keeps his tongue, keeps his soul from troubles
25:11 A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver
26:20 Strife ceases when there is no talebearer
26:22 A talebearers words are like wounds
26:23-28 A flattering tongue works ruin
27:5 Open rebuke is better than secret love
28:23 Rebuke is better than flattery
29:11 The fool utters all his mind, but a wise man keeps it in until later
29:20 A man hasty in words is worse than a fool
God Hates Cheating, Using Different Weights
Don’t cheat others; be fair and honest in all your dealings. If others cheat you, don’t reply in like manner.
11:1 A false balance is an abomination to the LORD
20:10, 23 Divers weights are an abomination to the LORD
20:14 The buyer degrades product to get a good deal, then boasts of his gain
Excess Wine Leads to Poverty
Drunkenness leads to misery and poverty, yet wine has a use in relieving pain and sorrow. Today, this applies also to drugs.
20:1 Wine is a mocker, strong drink raging
21:17 He that loves wine & oil shall not be rich
23:20-21 Be not among wine bibbers or gluttons: both shall come to poverty
23:29-35 Drunkenness leads to sorrow, contentions and babbling
31:6-7 Give strong drink to those ready to perish
Wisdom: The Principal Thing
It is better to have wisdom from God, than to have all the riches in the world. Wisdom from God is the principle thing: knowing what is right (knowledge), choosing to do the right (understanding), and doing the right (wisdom), with the Almighty’s help.
1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom
1:20-33 Wisdom cries out, but few listen
2:1-9 Seek wisdom, God will give it
2:10-15 Wisdom produces discretion, preserves you from the evil man
2:16-19 Wisdom delivers you from the strange woman
2:20-22 Wisdom leads you to walk in the paths of righteousness with other good men
3:21 Keep sound wisdom and discretion
3:35 The wise shall inherit glory
4:7 Wisdom is the principal thing, with understanding
14:12 A way seems right to a man, but ends in death
16:16 Wisdom better than gold, understanding better than silver
16:25 A way seems right to man, ends in death
27:12 A prudent man foresees the evil, and hides himself
31:4-5 Rulers shouldn’t drink wine, lest they forget law & pervert judgment
Work and You Will Have Enough to Eat
The lazy person tends to be poor; if you diligently work, you shall have your needs supplied. Hard labor results in profit, but the lazy person shall have nothing. There is a tremendous value in productive work. God created man to work!
6:6-11 Go to ant, you sluggard
10:4-5 He becomes poor that deals with a slack hand, but the diligent shall be rich
10:26 The sluggard is like smoke to the eyes
12:11 He that tills his land shall be satisfied with bread
12:24 The hand of the diligent shall bear rule, but the slothful shall be under tribute
13:4 The soul of sluggard desires, and has nothing, the soul of diligent shall be made fat
14:23 In all labor there is profit, but talk of lips tends to penury
15:19 The way of slothful man is as an hedge of thorns
19:15 An idle soul shall suffer hunger
19:24 The slothful man won’t work
20:4 Sluggards won’t plow because of winter, and shall beg in harvest
20:13 Love not sleep, lest you come to poverty
21:25-26 The desire of the slothful kills him, for he refuses to work
22:13 A slothful man says “there is a lion without,” as an excuse for not working.
22:29 See a diligent man? he shall stand before kings
24:30-34 Poverty comes to the slothful
26:13-16 The lazy stick to their bed like a door to its hinges
28:19 He that tills his land shall have plenty of bread
Here are a few unclassified tidbits of knowledge from the Book of Proverbs:
25:21-22 Give your enemy food and water, heap coals of fire on his head
27:21 Know the state of your flocks
28:13 He that covers his sins shall not prosper