Proverbs Introduction

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In July of 1967 the Beatles released a song titled “All You Need Is Love.”
That is a sweet sentiment, and no one would deny the reality of the need for love or that there is every, in this old world, enough love, but to say that is “all we need” is a bit naive to say the least.
When we look at the world around us and all the peoples lives that surround us, I think there could be a very strong argument that what the world really needs right now is actual “Wisdom.”
I’m not talking about worldly wisdom but divine wisdom that only comes from up above (James 3:15-17).
The truth is there is a lot of suffering going on in this world.
There are many that live in war-torn parts of the world.
There are many that have been displaced from their homes because of fighting, terrorism, famine, storms, and the like.
Those don’t count the millions that suffer from diseases, injuries, and disabilities of no fault of their own.
Simply put, there’s a lot of suffering that people go through.
However, most of the sufferings people go through in this life are based on personal choices.
They are based on self-inflicting choices.
In fact, the number one reason for death for adults under the age of 50 is drug use.
Millions of people in and out of the church are suffering because of the poor choices they have made in their lives.
And unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be getting better but worse.
Now, more than any other time in my life I see the need for people to seek the wisdom that comes from above.
And there is no greater source of practical and spiritual wisdom than from the book of Proverbs.
With that in mind let’s examine our “Introductory Lesson On Proverbs.”

Avoiding Bad Endings

Wisdom Literature.

The Jews, like us today, liked to categorize things like the books of the bible.
The Books of the Law (Exodus-Deuteronomy)
The Kings (1 & 2 Kings and Chronicles)
Wisdom Literature (Job, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes).
Within the Wisdom Literature category…
Job deals with how to handle life during sudden chaos.
Ecclesiastes deals with how to handle the unpredictability of life.
Proverbs acts as a manual on living the wise life.
Over and over the basic theme of Proverbs is “Don’t Make Dumb Choices.”
Don’t choose a path that doesn’t lead to where you want to go.
There are plenty of options in life that lead to fame and fortune that are momentary, but they won’t take us where we necessarily want to go.


This is why the book of Proverbs is constantly saying “if you want to have a happy ending don’t be dumb or foolish about the choices you make.”
Proverbs 1:5–7 ESV
5 Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance, 6 to understand a proverb and a saying, the words of the wise and their riddles. 7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.
As I said a moment ago, the book of Proverbs is a manual for wise daily living.
Thus, the book provides…

Proverbs For Everyday Life

We All Grew Up With Proverbs.

Everyone of us grew up hearing and learning from various proverbs throughout our lives.
My Papa had a million of them and my mom passed many of those on to me, and I have striven to pass those on as well, but why?
Because they teach basic lessons in easy to understand ways.
Many of you have heard proverbs, though you might not have known they were such, as…
“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”
“Waste not, want not.”
“A penny saved is a penny earned.”
“Wish in one hand and spit in the other, and see which one gets full first.”
I’m sure you can think of many more.
Hearing this though makes us beg the question, what is a proverb exactly?
Many people have “defined” what a proverb is throughout time.
Meguel Cervantes of Don Quixote defined it as “Short sentences drown from long experience.”
Another stated, “A proverb has three qualities: shortness, sense, and salt.” (Unknown Author).
The simplest definition and most accurate is a proverb is “A short sentence of wisdom.”
Though the Old Testament book of Proverbs is the most common place to find proverbs within scripture the reality is we find them throughout the bible.
Ben-hadad, the king of Syria, boasted how easily he would conquer Israel.
King Ahab responded in 1 Kings 20:11
1 Kings 20:11 ESV
11 And the king of Israel answered, “Tell him, ‘Let not him who straps on his armor boast himself as he who takes it off.’ ”
In other words, “don’t count your chickens before they hatch.”
When Jesus spoke of the obviousness of his eventual return, he said in Luke 17:37
Luke 17:37 ESV
37 And they said to him, “Where, Lord?” He said to them, “Where the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.”
The idea being that the signs of Rome’s invasion will be clearly seen.
Jesus even speaks of an old proverb when talking to the people in Nazareth during his ministry.
Luke 4:23 (ESV)
23 And he said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘ “Physician, heal yourself…”


Proverbs have been found in just about every culture throughout time, but why?
Because they are a useful way of imparting and remembering the wisdom of a community.

A Closer Look

A Collection Of Collections.

The book of Proverbs is indeed a collection of collections.
It contains more than 500 wise saying, many of them one-liners, but some being more expansive.
We see this in a somewhat simple outline.
Chapters 1-9: The Value Of Wisdom
Chapters 10-29: Wise Life Choices
Chapters 30-31: Story Proverbs
This section combines many proverbs to “tell a story” of wisdom.
This collection of collections isn’t a single source but that of several different sources.

Authors Of Proverbs

God is obviously the author of this collection but Solomon is the one he used the most to either collect them or write them himself.
Proverbs 1:1 ESV
1 The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel:
Proverbs 10:1 (ESV)
1 The proverbs of Solomon…
Concerning Solomon we read in 1 Kings 4:29-34
1 Kings 4:29–31 ESV
29 And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding beyond measure, and breadth of mind like the sand on the seashore, 30 so that Solomon’s wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the people of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt. 31 For he was wiser than all other men, wiser than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, Calcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol, and his fame was in all the surrounding nations.
1 Kings 4:32–34 ESV
32 He also spoke 3,000 proverbs, and his songs were 1,005. 33 He spoke of trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of the wall. He spoke also of beasts, and of birds, and of reptiles, and of fish. 34 And people of all nations came to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and from all the kings of the earth, who had heard of his wisdom.
However, there were other authors as well and some of the proverbs accredited to Solomon where ones he simply collected.
There are the “words of the wise” where were sages from Israel whose specific task was to retain and pass on the collective wisdom of the Hebrew community.
Proverbs 22:17 (ESV)
17 Incline your ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply your heart to my knowledge
A specific sage was Agur son of Jaken who was known enough to have his specific name mentioned.
Proverbs 30:1 (ESV)
1 The words of Agur son of Jakeh. The oracle…
Also, of course, King Lemuel.
Proverbs 31:1 ESV
1 The words of King Lemuel. An oracle that his mother taught him:


Though we likely will never know the original earthly author of each and everyone of them we can know God specifically had these authors collection put together into the greatest collection of proverbs ever assembled
We can’t go wrong studying the book of Proverbs.
Lastly, I want us to understand what proverbs “are not.”

Proverbs Aren’t…

Primarily Theological In Nature.

By that I mean you shouldn’t go to this book seeking such themes as “sin and redemption, God’s grace, the coming Messiah, or the nature of God.”
The book isn’t designed to discuss those things but rather…
Making wise everyday choices about what to do when it comes to family
Or the hazards of risky behavior
What a man should look for in a wife
Or how people ought to react authority and the government.
Proverbs is about life in the here-and-now, and how to live it the best (wisest) way possible.

Guaranteed Outcomes.

Simply put they don’t tell you how life will “always” work out.
They are statements of the 99% if you will or what will usually happen if you follow their advice.
A great illustration of this is in Proverbs 10:4.
Proverbs 10:4 ESV
4 A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.
Ecclesiastes, often said to be the exceptions to the proverbs says this in Ecclesiastes 9.11.
Ecclesiastes 9:11 ESV
11 Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to those with knowledge, but time and chance happen to them all.


Yes, these proverbs are not necessarily theological in nature and yes, there are exceptions to these rules but that doesn’t mean we should ignore them either.
Anyone struggling with making right choices in life should definitely study this fantastic book.


As I said in the introduction to this lesson I will say again, “Now more than any other time in my life the world needs to hear the wisdom of these proverbs.
The world needs us to be living the wisest lives we can by way of them so as to be able to help our struggling neighbors.
As we go throughout this series on Sunday nights I hope you will dive into these lessons as I will be doing and search the bottomless source of wisdom found within this great book.
Let us strive to hear God through these proverbs and improve our lives and them help others do the same.
Isaiah 59:1–2 ESV
1 Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; 2 but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.
Philippians 2:6–7 ESV
6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
Romans 10:17 ESV
17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
Hebrews 11:6 ESV
6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
Acts 17:30 ESV
30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent,
Matthew 10:32 NKJV
32 “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven.
2 Thessalonians 1:8 ESV
8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.
1 Corinthians 15:1–4 ESV
1 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,
Romans 6:3–5 ESV
3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.
1 John 1:7 ESV
7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
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