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by Frederick Brotherton Meyer
Outline of Proverbs
“The Words of the Wise”
Book I. The Voice of Wisdom, Proverbs 1:1-18
Book II. Wisdom and Folly Contrasted, Proverbs 10:1-16
Book III. The Counsel of the Wise Proverbs 22:17-34
Book IV. Similes of Life’s Varied Experiences, Proverbs 25:1-27
Book V. Shorter Collections,Proverbs 30:1-33; Proverbs 30:1-33 ; Proverbs 31:1-31
1. The Words of Agur,Proverbs 30:1-33; Proverbs 30:1-33
2. The Words of King Lemuel,Proverbs 31:1-9; Proverbs 31:1-9
This book occupies an important place in what is called the “Hebrew Wisdom literature.” Other examples are Job, Ecclesiastes, some of the Psalms, and such apocryphal books as the Wisdom of Solomon and Ecclesiasticus.
Certain sections are expressly attributed to Solomon, but elsewhere other sources are referred to. The title of the fourth section, “These also are proverbs of Solomon which the men of Hezekiah, king of Judah, copied out,” is proof that the book did not receive its present form till the time of Hezekiah.
The book was written as, a guide for the young. The experience of many generations is here presented to the youth who is just entering upon life. The form of address throughout is that of a father speaking to his son.
The foundation principle is that the right life is not merely a moral life, but the life that is lived toward God. The supreme folly in life is to leave God out. Hence the book is not simply a collection of worldly maxims, but a source of spiritual insight.
The virtues taught are those which make for individual and national strength-honesty, industry, purity, sobriety, moderation, faithfulness, diligence, prudence, impartiality, humility, contentment-and all are based upon the fear of the Lord.
The literary structure is comparatively loose. “We are not,” says Bishop Hopkins, “generally to expect any connection of sentences in this book of Proverbs. Other parts of Scripture are like a rich mine, where the precious ore runs along in one continued vein; but this is like a heap of pearls, which, though they are unstrung, are not therefore the less excellent and valuable.”
e-Sword Note: The following material was presented at the end of Proverbs in the printed edition
Review Questions on Proverbs
( a ) What are the five main divisions of this book?
( b ) How are these divisions indicated in the text? How do they compare as to length?
( c ) To what branch of literature does this book belong?
( d ) What is to be said as to its authorship?
( e ) What is the purpose of the book?
Each question applies to the paragraph of the corresponding number in the Comments .
1. What is the “beginning of knowledge”?
2. Where is wisdom’s voice heard?
3. What does the follower of wisdom gain? What does he escape?
4. What is Solomon’s counsel to the young? the perplexed? the business man? the suffering?
5. How is the character of wisdom illustrated?
6. What are some of the counsels of experience?
7. What guide-posts on the way of life ought we to follow?
8. What is the counsel of wisdom regarding impurity?
9. Why should we avoid suretyship and sloth?
10. How is wisdom personified?
11. What was Wisdom’s part in the creation of the world?
12. Whom does Wisdom invite to her feast?
13. How are the righteous and the wicked contrasted?
14. What is characteristic of the speech of a good man?
15. What possibilities of good and evil does speech afford?
16. What is the quickest way to overcome and eradicate wrong?
17. What is the greatest of all foes to human happiness?
18. Name some of the characteristics of a God-honoring life.
19. What are the true riches?
20. How should disputes be handled?
21. How should we treat our enemies?
22. What are some of the duties and joys of friendship?
23. What was Agur’s prayer?
24. What lessons does Agur find in common things?
25. What counsel did King Lemuel’s mother give him?
26. How is the ideal woman described?
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26