Proverbs is a collection of wisdom sayings intended to be a text book that would be used to train young men in wise and right living. (Girls would have been trained in the domestic arts and would not have been given formal academic training in Solomon’s time.) This wisdom is drilled through short, sharp phrases, dramatic contrasts, and unforgettable scenes from life. It sets out what is right and what is wrong because Wisdom is based on reverence for God and obedience to God’s laws. The Book of Proverbs was written by Solomon and many others. Some additions date from the time of King Hezekiah, who reigned 250 years after Solomon, and other material which may be as late as 200 BC. In reading the Proverbs, it is important to remember that by nature a proverb is a “generalization” and is not intended to show what is invariably true. The writers of the Proverbs do not deny that there are exceptions to the general rules laid out here. The book of Proverbs is unique in the Bible in that it employs non-Israelite wisdom traditions in its text. However, all insight is deemed a gift from God, and thus, the proverbs are seen as revealed wisdom no matter where they originated.
Proverbs can be outlined as follows:
· Proverbs 1:1-7 Introduction
· Proverbs 1:8-9:18 Lessons on Wisdom
· Proverbs 10-22:17 Proverbs of Solomon
· Proverbs 22:17-24:34 Two collections of sayings of wise men
· Proverbs 25-29 More of Solomon’s proverbs (Hezekiah’s collection)
· Proverbs 30 Sayings of Agur
· Proverbs 31:1-9 Sayings of King Lemuel
· Proverbs 31:10-31 The perfect wife
Key Lesson: God is interested in the practical application of spiritual truths. The Proverbs show us how Wisdom and faithfulness to God are lived out in the real world of ancient Israel. The specific applications may shift from culture to culture, but the underlying truth and principles are eternal and unchanging.