PROVERBS - THE BOOK OF PRACTICAL LIVING
Solomon spoke 3,000 proverbs and 1,005 songs, I Kings 4:32. He was wiser than all the philosophers of his day were, for his wisdom was a direct gift from God (I Kings 3:12). The queen of Sheba exclaimed, "The half was never told to me." Solomon wrote three of the books of the Old Testament. We do not really know the order in which he wrote them. But, may we speculate that he wrote Song of Solomon when he was young and in love, Proverbs when he was middle-aged and his intellectual powers were at their zenith, and Ecclesiastes when he was old, disappointed, and disillusioned with the carnality of much of his life.
Not all the proverbs were written by Solomon, and he did not collect all of them. The wise (Chapter 22:17), the men of Hezekiah (25:1), Agur (30:1), and King Lemuel and his mother (31:1) all shared in the production of the book. The book of proverbs is intended to do for our daily life what the book of Psalms is intended to do for our devotional life. The book is filled with practical wisdom for all ages, but perhaps taught especially to our young people.
The book of Proverbs contrasts "wisdom" and "folly." Solomon's own son, Rehoboam, turned out to be a fool, so he could not have paid much attention to the wisdom written by his learned father. In these days of lowered moral standards, every young person should be made familiar with the inevitable end of immoral living so clearly pictured in Proverbs.
One way to study the book of Proverbs is to see the wisdom reflected in the lives of Bible characters. For instance, Proverbs 16:18 will bring us to a remembrance of the life of Nebuchadnezzar, or Herod Agrippa. Proverbs 10:7, the first part reflects the life of Elisha, of Mary, of Dorcas, and the second part reflects the lives of Cain, Balaam, Ahaz, Jezebel, Herod the Great, and Judas Iscariot. Proverbs has in all ages been regarded as a great storehouse of practical wisdom. They are brief, yet informative, even as some of our every day proverbs, such as 'haste makes waste', and 'make hay while the sun shines', and 'time and tide wait for no man', and 'a fool and his money are soon parted.' Almost all of the proverbs can thus be related to life, not only of Bible characters, but also to our own lives and the lives of those around us today.
Happy will be those teenagers whose parents have drilled them in the Scriptures and taught them those absolute moral standards demanded of all men by God. Older parents may have lost the battle. Solomon's cure for disobedient children, a cure much neglected today, may be seen in Proverbs 13:24, 19:18; 22:15; 23:13, 29:15. Some parents find out, although too late, their neglect in properly instructing their children. "Spare the rod and spoil the child" is a homespun version of a truth that is deeply embedded in the book of Proverbs. It is now ever more imperative that young parents expose their children to the inspired word.
The first few chapters seem to be a continuous discourse. with beautiful illustrations. The personification of wisdom in these chapters is universally regarded as a most beautiful example of a figure of speech, wherein a virtue becomes a person, to be found in the Bible, and possesses an indescribable beauty and loftiness. Some parts of the book give a series of disconnected maxims, on various maxims, on various subjects, and will apply to the most diverse of situations. The thirtieth chapter is interesting. We find riddles and mysteries, designed to exercise the wit and ingenuity of the reader, and to impart instruction through amusement. The thirty first chapter is said to be the advice given to King Lemuel by his mother. It presents a beautiful picture of female excellence in an age and country where modesty, industry, submission, and the domestic and feminine virtues were esteemed the only appropriate ornaments of women. (See I Timothy 2:9; I Peter 3:3,5) A need exists in our day and time for this same form of adornment in women.
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