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Bible Commentaries

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures
Proverbs

Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4
Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8
Chapter 9 Chapter 10 Chapter 11 Chapter 12
Chapter 13 Chapter 14 Chapter 15 Chapter 16
Chapter 17 Chapter 18 Chapter 19 Chapter 20
Chapter 21 Chapter 22 Chapter 23 Chapter 24
Chapter 25 Chapter 26 Chapter 27 Chapter 29
Chapter 30 Chapter 31

Book Overview - Proverbs

by Gary H. Everett

STUDY NOTES ON THE HOLY SCRIPTURES

Using a Theme-based Approach

to Identify Literary Structures

By Gary H. Everett

THE BOOK OF PROVERBS

January 2013Edition

All Scripture quotations in English are taken from the King James Version unless otherwise noted. Some words have been emphasized by the author of this commentary using bold or italics.

All Old Testament Scripture quotations in the Hebrew text are taken from Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia: With Westminster Hebrew Morphology, electronic ed, Stuttgart; Glenside PA: German Bible Society, Westminster Seminary, 1996, c 1925, morphology c 1991, in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004.

All New Testament Scripture quotations in the Greek text are taken from Greek New Testament, Fourth Revised Edition (with Morphology), eds. Kurt Aland, Matthew Black, Carlo M. Martini, Bruce M. Metzger, M. Robinson, and Allen Wikgren, Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft (United Bible Societies), c 1966, 1993, 2006, in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004.

All Hebrew and Greek text for word studies are taken from James Strong in The New Strong"s Dictionary of Hebrew and Greek Words, Nashville: Thomas Nelson, c 1996, 1997, in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004.

The Crucifixion image on the book cover was created by the author's daughter Victoria Everett in 2012.

Gary H. Everett, 1981-2013

All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced, stored, or transmitted in any form without prior permission of the author.

Foundational Theme - How to Serve the Lord with All Our Heart

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:

And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart,

and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

Deuteronomy 6:4-5

Structural Theme - We are Predestined to Reflect the Image of Christ

as We Walk in the Wisdom of God (Mind)

To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding;

Proverbs 1:2

Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets:

Proverbs 1:20

Imperative Theme - The Fear of the Lord is the Beginning of Wisdom

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge:

but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Proverbs 1:7

And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom;

and to depart from evil is understanding.

Job 28:28

By mercy and truth iniquity is purged:

and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil.

Proverbs 16:6

INTRODUCTION TO THE BOOK OF PROVERBS

Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures supports the view of the verbal, plenary inspiration of the biblical text of the Holy Scriptures, meaning that every word originally written down by the authors in the sixty-six books of the Holy Canon were God-breathed when recorded by men, and that the Scriptures are therefore inerrant and infallible. Any view less than this contradicts the testimony of the Holy Scriptures themselves. For this reason, the Holy Scriptures contain both divine attributes and human attributes. While textual criticism engages with the variant readings of the biblical text, acknowledging its human attributes, faith in His Word acknowledges its divine attributes. These views demand the adherence of mankind to the supreme authority of the Holy Scriptures above all else. The Holy Scriptures can only be properly interpreted by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, an aspect of biblical scholarship that is denied by liberal views, causing much misunderstanding and misinterpretation of the Holy Scriptures.

The Message of the Book of Proverbs - The Lord once spoke to me and said that faith in Him brings the blessings of God, but it takes wisdom to manage those blessings. This means that it does us no good to receive good things from God if we are not mature enough to manage those blessings; and when we lack the wisdom to manage those blessings, we will soon lose them. The book of Proverbs is a book that gives us daily wisdom to live by, so that our lives will be pleasing to God and become a blessing to those around us.

As we journey through this life, we will have times of ecstasy when we are caught up in worship and we will have times of trials when we cry out to God for deliverance. The Psalm of David show us how to worship the Lord during such times. However, most of our days are given to simple routines and decisions that determine our future well-being. We must then look to the book of Proverbs for a pattern of how to worship the Lord during such uneventful day-to-day lifestyles.

The Proverbs of Solomon are like golden nuggets for our daily lives. How often we have read these chapters looking for insights to improve our social behavior. We have read a proverb or two a day, even a chapter per day, in an effort to become better Christians. We have chuckled at times when we read about the fool, recalling the time we saw this person at work or in town, or we groan inside when we remember how we behaved in such an undignified manner. We have prayed for God's grace to mold us and shape us like the wise man in the book of Proverb, but how many of us have really dug into this three thousand-year-old treasure chest and examined these treasures piece by piece; perhaps because it would take a lot of time and much discipline?

Let us take some time to examine this book and allow it to change our lives forever. First, we will put on an academic hat and lay a framework for wisdom literature. We will look at the theme and structure of this great book. Once we find our bearings within its pages, we will be ready to put on our spiritual hat and dig into these proverbs. As we examine them piece by piece, we will begin to see how divinely God has orchestrated these sayings, as well as divinely ordering our live, which we now see as a journey upon which we have embarked in order to find a place of peace and rest in the Lord. So come, let us go on a journey called "The Path of Wisdom"!

Introductory Material- The introduction to the book of Proverbs will deal with its historical setting, literary style, and theological framework. 1] These three aspects of introductory material will serve as an important foundation for understanding God's message to us today from this divinely inspired book of the Holy Scriptures.

1] Someone may associate these three categories with Hermann Gunkel's well-known three-fold approach to form criticism when categorizing the genre found within the book of Psalm: (1) "a common setting in life," (2) "thoughts and mood," (3) "literary forms." In addition, the Word Biblical Commentary uses "Form/Structure/Setting" preceding each commentary section. Although such similarities were not intentional, but rather coincidental, the author was aware of them and found encouragement from them when assigning the three-fold scheme of historical setting, literary style, and theological framework to his introductory material. See Hermann Gunkel, The Psalm: A Form-Critical Introduction, trans. Thomas M. Horner, in Biblical Series, vol 19, ed. John Reumann (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Fortress Press, 1967), 10; see also Word Biblical Commentary, eds. Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard, and Glenn W. Barker (Dallas, Texas: Word Incorporated, 1989-2007).

HISTORICAL SETTING

"We dare not divorce our study from understanding the historical setting of every passage of Scripture

if we are going to come to grips with the truth and message of the Bible."

(J. Hampton Keathley) 2]

2] J. Hampton Keathley, III, "Introduction and Historical Setting for Elijah," (Bible.org) [on-line]; accessed 23May 2012; available from http://bible.org/seriespage/introduction-and-historical-setting-elijah; Internet.

Each book of the Holy Scriptures is cloaked within a unique historical setting. An examination of this setting is useful in the interpretation of the book because it provides the context of the passage of Scripture under examination. The section on the historical setting of the book of Proverbs will provide a discussion on its title, historical background, authorship, date and place of writing, recipients, and occasion. This discussion supports the Jewish tradition that Solomon was the primary author of the book of Proverbs , writing during his reign as king over Israel.

I. The Title

The superscription for the book of Proverbs is found in its opening verse. In fact, all three of Solomon's works have opening verses as titles with his name included in it.

Proverbs 1:1, "The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel;"

Ecclesiastes 1:1, "The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem."

Song of Solomon 1:1, "The Song of Solomon , which is Solomon"s."

Numerous other Old Testament books have similar superscriptions. These titles were either placed there by the author himself or edited later by someone like Samuel the prophet, or Hezekiah the king, or Ezra the scribe, when these books were compiled and organized into the Old Testament Scriptures. Note how most of these books begin with the phrases "the word of," "the burden of," or "the vision of."

Deuteronomy 1:1, "These be the words which Moses spake unto all Israel on this side Jordan in the wilderness, in the plain over against the Red sea, between Paran, and Tophel, and Laban, and Hazeroth, and Dizahab."

Nehemiah 1:1, "The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah."

Isaiah 1:1, "The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah."

Jeremiah 1:1, "The words of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah, of the priests that were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin:"

Hosea 1:1, "The word of the LORD that came unto Hosea , the son of Beeri, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel."

Joel 1:1, "The word of the LORD that came to Joel the son of Pethuel."

Amos 1:1, "The words of Amos, who was among the herdmen of Tekoa, which he saw concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel, two years before the earthquake."

Obadiah 1:1, "The vision of Obadiah. Thus saith the Lord GOD concerning Edom; We have heard a rumour from the LORD, and an ambassador is sent among the heathen, Arise ye, and let us rise up against her in battle."

Micah 1:1, "The word of the LORD that came to Micah the Morasthite in the days of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, which he saw concerning Samaria and Jerusalem."

Nahum 1:1, "The burden of Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite."

Habakkuk 1:1, "The burden which Habakkuk the prophet did see."

Zephaniah 1:1, "The word of the LORD which came unto Zephaniah the son of Cushi, the son of Gedaliah, the son of Amariah, the son of Hizkiah, in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah."

Malachi 1:1, "The burden of the word of the LORD to Israel by Malachi."

Some of the writers of the New Testament also followed this Hebrew pattern.

Matthew 1:1, "The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham."

Mark 1:1, "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God;"

Revelation 1:1, "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:"

Throughout the centuries, both Jews and Christians have tended to title these books by shortening its superscription. This has resulted in a number of titles for the book of Proverbs.

A. The Ancient Jewish Title "Millah" - The early church historian Eusebius cites Origen, who tells us that the ancient Jews assigned the name "Me-loth," or "Millah" ( מִלָּה) (H 4405) to the book of Proverbs , which means, "a words, a speech" (Gesenius), "a word, a discourse, a topic" (Strong). 3] This word is not found in the opening verse of the book and only occurs once within its Hebrew text ( Proverbs 23:9). KD says the use of this ancient Jewish title is confirmed by the fact that both the Hebrew Talmud and the Midrash also use the word "Millah," or "Me-loth," as their title for the book of Proverbs. 4] Thus, the Jews would have read the opening verse of Proverbs as "the words of Song of Solomon ," just the way many of the other Old Testament books listed above are opened.

3] Eusebius writes, "…the Proverbs of Song of Solomon , Me-loth; Ecclesiastes , Koelth; the Song of Songs (not, as some suppose, Songs of Songs), Sir Hassirim…" Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 6251-2, trans. Arthur C. McGiffert under the title The Church History of Eusebius, in A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, A New Series, vol 1, eds. Henry Wace and Philip Schaff (Oxford: Parker and Company, c 1890, 1905), 272-3.

4] C. F. Keil, and F. Delitzsch, Proverbs , in Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament: New Updated Edition, Electronic Database (Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers Inc, 1996), in P.C. Study Bible, v 31 [CD-ROM] (Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc, 1993-2000), "Introduction."

B. The Hebrew Title "Mashal" - The first word that occurs in the Hebrew text of the book of Proverbs is "mashal" ( מָשָׁל) (H 4912), meaning, "similitude, parable" (Gesenius), "byword, like, parable, proverb" (Strong). This Hebrew word is derived from the word root ( מָשַׁל) (H 4910), which means, "to make like, to rule" (Gesenius). The Masoretic title is ( שלמה משלי) "Proverbs of Song of Solomon ," and it can be abbreviated to ( משל). 5] Thus, the title ( משלי) can be found in the standard work Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia. 6]

5] Crawford H. Toy, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Proverbs, in The International Critical Commentary on the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, eds. Charles A. Briggs, Samuel R. Driver, and Alfred Plummer (New York: Charles Scriber's Sons, 1899), v.

6] Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, eds. A. Alt, O. Eifelt, P. Kahle, and R. Kittle (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelstiftung, c 1967-77).

C. The Modern English Title "Proverbs" - Today's English bibles use the title " Proverbs ," which is derived from two Latin words, " Proverbs ," meaning "instead of," and "verba," meaning "words"; thus, it means that a proverb is a short statement given in the place of a lengthy statement. The English title "Proverbs" finds it origin in the Greek title " παροιμίαι" found in the LXX, which means, "a parable, proverb" (Strong). Philo (20 B.C - A.D 50) also called the book by its Greek name παροιμίαι. 7] This Greek title παροιμίαι was known by Melito, bishop of Sardis (d. c 190). 8] The Latin Vulgate (A.D 400) uses the title "Liber Proverbiorum, quem Hebræi Misle appellant," translated as "the Book of Proverbs , which the Hebrews call Misle." 9] Today's English bibles follow the Vulgate by using the title "Proverbs."

7] Henry B. Swete, An Introduction to Old Testament in Greek (Cambridge: University Press, 1902), 215; Herbert E. Ryle, Philo and Holy Scripture (London: Macmillan and Company, 1895), xxviii.

8] Eusebius writes, "‘I learned accurately the books of the Old Testament, and send them to thee as written below. Their names are as follows: Of Moses, five books: Genesis ,, Exodus ,, Numbers ,, Leviticus , Deuteronomy; Jesus Nave, Judges , Ruth; of Kings, four books; of Chronicles, two; the Psalm of David; the Proverbs of Song of Solomon , Wisdom also, Ecclesiastes ,, Song of Solomon , Job; of Prophets, Isaiah , Jeremiah; of the twelve prophets, one book; Daniel ,, Ezekiel , Esdras. From which also I have made the extracts, dividing them into six books.' Such are the words of Melito." Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 42614 trans. Arthur C. McGiffert under the title The Church History of Eusebius, in A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, A New Series, vol 1, eds. Henry Wace and Philip Schaff, (Oxford: Parker and Company, c 1890, 1905), 206.

9] Biblia Sacra Juxta Vulgatae, edition ocata, ed. Aoisius Claudius Fillion (Paris: Librairie Letouzey et Ane, 1887), 661; see W. J. Deane, S. T. Taylor-Taswell, Walter F. Adeney, T. Whitelaw, R. A. Redford, and B. C. Caffin, Proverbs ,, Ecclesiastes ,, Song of Solomon , in The Pulpit Commentary, vol 9, ed. H. D. M. Spence and Joseph Exell (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co, 1950), in Ages Digital Library, v 10 [CD-ROM] (Rio, WI: Ages Software, Inc, 2001), "Introduction to Proverbs."

D. Other Titles: The Book of Wisdom - The early Church fathers called the book of Proverbs by a variety of titles that included the word "wisdom" (σοφία). Clement of Rome (c 96) calls the book "All-Virtuous Wisdom" when he quotes from Proverbs 1:23-31 in his first epistle to the Corinthians. 10] Justin Martyr (100-165 A.D.) calls it "The Book of Wisdom." 11] Eusebius (260-340 A.D) confirms this title by saying that the early church called the book of Proverbs by the titles "the Book of Proverbs" and "All-virtuous Wisdom." 12] Eusebius quotes Melito of Sardis (d. c 190) , who mentions both titles: "the Proverbs of Solomon" and "Wisdom" (σοφία). 13] We see additional titles used during this period. The Constitutions of the Apostles called it the "Book of Wisdom." 14] Dionysius of Alexandria (d. c. A.D 264) called it "The Wise Book" 15] and Gregory Nazianzen (A.D 329 to 389) called it "Instructive Wisdom." 16] Otto Zöckler believes that this title was used in Old Testament times since it occurs in the Talmud and by some of the earliest Church fathers. 17] However, the early Church writers often used the title "the Book of Wisdom" to refer to the books of the Old Testament apocryphal literature, such as Ben-Sira (Ecclesiasticus) and Wisdom of Solomon. 18]

10] Clement writes, "For it is better for you that ye should occupy a humble but honourable place in the flock of Christ, than that, being highly exalted, ye should be cast out from the hope of His people. For thus speaketh all-virtuous Wisdom: ‘Behold, I will bring forth to you the words of My Spirit, and I will teach you My speech...' (First Epistle to the Corinthians )

11] Justin Martyr writes, "And it is written in the book of Wisdom: ‘If I should tell you daily events, I would be mindful to enumerate them from the beginning. The Lord created me the beginning of His ways for His works. From everlasting He established me in the beginning, before He formed the earth, and before He made the depths, and before the springs of waters came forth, before the mountains were settled; He begets me before all the hills." (Dialogue of Justin 129)

12] Eusebius writes, "And not only Hebrews , but also Irenaeus and the whole company of the ancients, called the Proverbs of Solomon All-virtuous Wisdom." (Ecclesiastical History 4228)

13] See Ecclesiastical History 426.

14] The Constitutions of the Apostles reads, "For, says Hebrews , ‘Woe to him by whom My name is blasphemed among the Gentiles;' and lest, if thy husband be a Christian, he be forced, from his knowledge of the Scriptures, to say that which is written in the book of Wisdom: ‘It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman.'" (Constitutions of the Holy Apostles 110), and again, "For let us learn what the sacred word says in the book of Wisdom: "My Song of Solomon , keep my words, and hide my commandments with thee. Say unto Wisdom of Solomon , Thou art my sister; and make understanding familiar with thee: that she may keep thee from the strange and wicked woman, in case such a one accost thee with sweet words…" (Constitutions of the Holy Apostles 17)

15] Dionysius of Alexandria, Catena in Jobum Cap 28. See Dionysius of Alexandria, Exercpta Quaedan ex Niceta Catena Patrum in Jobum, in Reliquiae Sacrae, vol 4, ed. Martinus Josephus Routh (Oxonius: 1846), 439-447; Moses Stuart, Critical History and Defence of the Old Testament Canon, ed. Peter Lorimer (London: William Tegg and Co, 1849), 226.

16] Gregory Nazianzen writes, "The divine Song of Solomon , in his instructive Wisdom of Solomon , I mean his Proverbs , praises the woman who looks to her household and loves her husband." (Oration VIII: Funeral Oration on His Sister Gorgonia 9).

17] Otto Zckler cites Tosephoth to Baba Bathra f 14b. See Otto Zckler, The Proverbs of Song of Solomon , ed. and trans. Charles A. Aiken, in Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures, ed. Philip Schaff (New York: Scribner, Armstrong and Co, 1875), 23.

18] Crawford H. Toy, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Proverbs (New York: Charles Scriber's Sons, 1899), v. For example, Methodius writes, "And in the Book of Wisdom of Solomon , a book full of all virtue, the Holy Spirit, now openly drawing His hearers to continence and chastity, sings on this wise, "Better it is to have no children, and to have virtue, for the memorial thereof is immortal; because it is known with God and with men. When it is present men take example at it; and when it is gone they desire it: it weareth a crown and triumpheth for ever, having gotten the victory, striving for undefiled rewards." (The Banquet of Ten Virgins: Discourse I.—Marcella 3) (see Wisdom of Solomon 41-2), and Methodius writes, "And those artificers who, to the destruction of men, make images in human form, not perceiving and knowing their own Maker, are blamed by the Word, which says, in the Book of Wisdom of Solomon , a book full of all virtue,14 "his heart is ashes, his hope is more vile than earth, and his life of less value than clay; forasmuch as he knew not his Maker, and Him that inspired into him an active soul, and breathed in a living spirit;" (The Banquet of Ten Virgins: Discourse II.—Theophila.7) (see Wisdom of Solomon 1510-11) See Methodius, Fathers of the Third Century, in The Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol 6, eds. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe (Buffalo, New York: The Christian Literature Company, 1886), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004.

II. Historical Background

In the historical background, we will look at (A) the widespread use of wisdom literature in the ancient world, and (B) wisdom literature as a form of divine guidance for the Jews under the Old Covenant.

A. The Widespread Use of Wisdom Literature in the Ancient World- The book of Proverbs is one of several books found in the Old Testament that is classified as "Wisdom Literature." Also included in this list are the books of Job and Ecclesiastes , with certain psalms (notably Psalm 19; Psalm 37; Psalm 104; Psalm 107; Psalm 147; Psalm 148) as well as some non-canonical Apocryphal literature, such as Ecclesiasticus and the Wisdom of Solomon.

Conservative scholars believe the proverbs of Solomon were initially written during the reign of King Solomon (1015 to 975 B.C.). This was a "golden age" in Israel's history when it enjoyed the wealth and the dominion of its surrounding nations. Therefore, it was a time of peace for the children of Israel. It is during these periods in a nation's history that the arts and literature flourishes, of which we are familiar with the Golden Age of Greece. This is certainly the case with the nation of Israel during the reign of King Solomon. This king wrote prolifically during his reign and, since proverbial literature was popular in the ancient East and Orient, the book of Proverbs is a product of Israel's "golden age."

However, this type of wisdom literature was not limited to the ancient Hebrews during this period in ancient history. Although we are most familiar with the wisdom literature of the Holy Scriptures, ancient history has been full of wisdom literature. Roland E. Murphy refers to recent studies in ancient Sumerian and Babylonian Proverbs , the Aramaic Proverbs of Ahiqar, and Egyptian wisdom literature. 19] In the literature of Mesopotamia, Instruction of Shuruppak and The Counsels of Wisdom (c 1500-1200 B.C.), and the Words of Ahiqar (704-681 B.C.) are collections of sayings that deal with moral conduct. 20] Therefore, it is likely that the book of Proverbs was influenced to some extent by the wisdom literature that existed in the time of Song of Solomon , as alluded to in the Scriptures ( 1 Kings 4:30, Acts 7:22).

19] Roland E. Murphy, Proverb, in Word Biblical Commentary, vol 22 (Dallas, Texas: Word, Incorporated, 2002), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004), "Excursus on International Wisdom."

20] Bruce K. Waltke, "The Book of Proverbs and Ancient Wisdom Literature," Bibliotheca Sacra Volume 136 (July 1979): 222-239, in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004).

1 Kings 4:30, "And Solomon"s wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt."

Acts 7:22, "And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds."

It appears that the largest body of ancient wisdom literature outside the Scriptures comes from Egypt. From the ancient Egyptian period of the Old Kingdom (2686-2160 B.C.), we find wisdom literature in The Instruction of Prince Hardjefed, The Instruction of Kagemni, and The Instruction of Ptahhotep (2450 B.C.). Later, we find The Instruction Addressed to King Merikare (2160-2040 B.C.), where a king gives advice to his son. In the Middle Kingdom, there have been found seven pieces of wisdom literature. In the New Kingdom period (1580-1100 B.C.), The Instruction of Any (c 1100 B.C.) records the wisdom of a father instructing his son about personal conduct, and The Instruction of Amenemope is found to be similar to the book of Proverbs in its structure and in some of its proverbs. Finally, The Instruction of Ankhsheshonq (c 400-300 B.C.) is a piece of Egyptian literature that forms a large collection of about five hundred sayings that deal with the practical and religious concerns of the community. 21]

21] Miriam Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature A Book of Readings, 3vols. (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1908), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004).

Perhaps the most famous piece of ancient wisdom literature mentioned above is The Instruction of Amenemope, an Egyptian document written about 1200 to 1300 B.C. This writing is arranged into thirty sayings and compares to a similar arrangement found in Proverbs 22:17 to Proverbs 24:22. This ancient writing also contains proverbs that are similar to those found in the book of Proverbs. 22]

22] Miriam Lichtheim, The Instruction of Amenemope, in Ancient Egyptian Literature: Volume II: The New Kingdom (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1973- 80]), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004).

However, amidst the backdrop of ancient wisdom literature, the book of Proverbs stands alone in its requirement of a personal faith in YHWH alone. To the Jews, wisdom could not be attained outside a life of fear and submission to the Lord. Although other ancient wisdom literature exists, it is obvious that the Proverbs of Solomon excels them all. While others require someone to comply with wise instruction, these divine proverbs require a personal faith in a living God. They give a moral standard of living that excelled that required by other nations. They cover every area of life, remaining as valid today as they did three thousand years ago.

B. Wisdom Literature as a Form of Divine Guidance under the Old Mosaic Covenant- Another important point about wisdom literature is worth mentioning. Under the Old Covenant, mankind did not have the Holy Spirit living inside him as we do under the New Covenant. Today, we can have the Holy Spirit speak to our hearts and give us specific instructions. However, the children of Israel had to rely upon a different means of finding God's specific instructions for their lives. They were first given the Mosaic Law as a way of giving them boundaries within which to walk. While they were treating their neighbours properly, how did they know what God was leading them to do on a particular day? We do know that God often used the ministry of the prophet, priest and king to give His people specific instructions, but this usually took place during dramatic events in the life of the Israelites. Therefore, on a day-to-day basis, the people would look to the wise men of their city and seek their wisdom and counsel as to what to do about particular situations they were facing. Thus, wisdom literature became symbolic of how God leads a person each day much as we rely upon the Holy Spirit to lead us today. Thus, wisdom is personified as a person throughout the book of Proverbs as a way of prophesying that one day God will pour out His Spirit upon all flesh to become our Comforter and our Guide.

III. Authorship

The book of Proverbs gives clear evidence of multiple authorship, as does the book of Psalm. This is because both of these Old Testament books are collections of writings. Solomon is believed to have written a tribute to wisdom ( Proverbs 1:1 thru Proverbs 9:18), his first collections of sayings ( Proverbs 10:1 thru Proverbs 22:16) and his second collection of sayings, which would have been inserted during the time of King Hezekiah ( Proverbs 25:1 thru Proverbs 29:27). It is suggested that Proverbs 22:17 to Proverbs 24:34 consists of proverbs that have Solomon collected from additional wisdom literature. Finally, Proverbs 30:1-33 is introduced by Agur, son of Jakeh and Proverbs 31:1-31 is introduced by King Lemuel.

A. Song of Solomon - The book of Proverbs is credited to King Song of Solomon , although it has multiple authors. This is because he was the primary contributor to this collection of wisdom literature and perhaps because his name became associated with the wisdom literature in Israel. We see similar credits given to modern works of literature in the form of bible commentaries. For example, although the commentary series by Matthew Henry, 23] Albert Barnes, 24] Heinrich August Wilhelm Meyer, 25] and others, are credited to these well-known individuals, these lengthy works were actually completed by other authors, since these men left incomplete works at their death or did not intend on doing a complete work.

23] Matthew Henry, Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible, 9 vols. (London: James Nisbet and Co.); Spurgeon provides a list of bishops who contributed to Matthew Henry's commentary. See Charles. H. Spurgeon, Commenting and Commentaries (London: Passmore and Alabaster, 1876), 3.

24] Albert Barnes, Barnes" Notes, Electronic Database (Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers Inc, 1997), in P.C. Study Bible, v 31 [CD-ROM] (Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc, 1993-2000).

25] H. A. W. Meyer, Kritisch Exegetisches Kommentar uber das Neue Testament (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht's Verlag), and Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (London: T. & T. Clarke).

1. Internal Evidence- There is much convincing evidence within the Scriptures themselves to Solomon's authorship.

a) Solomon's Authorship Stated Within the Book of Proverbs - As internal evidence of King Solomon"s authorship, he is mentioned three times within these passages as an author of this book ( Proverbs 1:1; Proverbs 10:1; Proverbs 25:1).

Proverbs 1:1, "The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel;"

Proverbs 10:1, "The proverbs of Solomon. A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother."

Proverbs 25:1, "These are also proverbs of Song of Solomon , which the men of Hezekiah king of Judah copied out."

b) The Book of Kings Confirms Solomon's Great Wisdom of Solomon - The story of his life in the book of Kings confirms his great wisdom ( 1 Kings 3:11; 1 Kings 4:30-33).

1 Kings 3:11, "And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment; Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee."

1 Kings 4:30-33, "And Solomon"s wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt. For he was wiser than all men; than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, and Chalcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol: and his fame was in all nations round about. And he spake three thousand proverbs: and his songs were a thousand and five. And he spake of trees, from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall: he spake also of beasts, and of fowl, and of creeping things, and of fishes."

These proverbs were written during a time of peace in the nation of Israel. The name Solomon ( שְׁלֹמֹה) (H 8010) means "peace" (Strong) It is during these eras of peace that a nation abounds in the areas of music, writing, and other arts. This period in the history of a nation produces arts that greatly bless succeeding generations, which is the case with the writings found in this book.

According to the Scriptures, no other person received as much wisdom from God as did Solomon. Yet, in all of his Wisdom of Solomon , he did not live a perfect life. This is because without the fear of the Lord wisdom is not chosen. Like Paul the apostle, Solomon was implanted with more divine revelation than he was able to walk in as a child of God. Neither walked in the fullness of their revelation. Only Jesus Christ walked in the fullness of the wisdom and revelation that God imparted unto Him. All other men have come short of God's glorious ways.

c) Evidence in Other Solomonic Literature- Additional evidence for Solomonic authorship and his desire to compile wise proverbs can be found in the book of Ecclesiastes. In this Old Testament book, Solomon declares his quest for wisdom ( Ecclesiastes 1:13; Ecclesiastes 1:16-18; Ecclesiastes 12:9).

Ecclesiastes 1:13, "And I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven: this sore travail hath God given to the sons of man to be exercised therewith."

Ecclesiastes 1:16-18, "I communed with mine own heart, saying, Lo, I am come to great estate, and have gotten more wisdom than all they that have been before me in Jerusalem: yea, my heart had great experience of wisdom and knowledge. And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit. For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow."

Ecclesiastes 12:9, "And moreover, because the preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yea, he gave good heed, and sought out, and set in order many proverbs."

These verses show Solomon was a man who sought after wisdom. Therefore, to say that Solomon gathered proverbs from other sources is supported by these two verses in Ecclesiastes. It is most likely that King Solomon not only spoke many Proverbs , but also added to his collection a number of proverbs from wise men. This is because wisdom is universal.

There are similar phrases used in the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. In Ecclesiastes 1:17, the author contrasts the wise man with the fool, as does the book of Proverbs.

Ecclesiastes 1:17, "And I gave my heart to know Wisdom of Solomon , and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit."

Thus, the fact that King Solomon is believed to have authored the books of Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon is evidence to his ability to also author the book of Proverbs.

When we think of King Song of Solomon , we think of three major aspects of his life:

1. His Wisdom of Solomon - Thus, the book of Proverbs.

2. His wealth- Thus, the book of Ecclesiastes.

3. His wives- Thus, the Song of Solomon.

These three Old Testament books that credit their authorship to Solomon reveal the three major quests of Solomon"s life. His passion for Wisdom of Solomon , for wealth and for wives taught him the great truths that are recorded in these three books.

2. External Evidence- External evidence outside of the Holy Scriptures for Solomon"s authorship is found in the Apocrypha. The ancient writing of Ecclesiasticus (Wisdom of Solomon) is dated around 180 B.C. It says that Solomon was a great writer of wisdom literature.

Sirach 47:13-17, "Solomon reigned in a peaceable time, and was honoured; for God made all quiet round about him, that he might build an house in his name, and prepare his sanctuary for ever. How wise wast thou in thy youth and, as a flood, filled with understanding! Thy soul covered the whole earth, and thou filledst it with dark parables. Thy name went far unto the islands; and for thy peace thou wast beloved. The countries marvelled at thee for thy Song of Solomon , and Proverbs , and parables, and interpretations."

The Babylonian Talmud says that Hezekiah wrote the books of Isaiah ,, Proverbs ,, Song of Solomon , and Ecclesiastes.

"And who wrote all the books? Moses wrote his book and a portion of Bil'am , xxii.], and Job. Jehoshua wrote his book and the last eight verses of the Pentateuch beginning: "And Moses, the servant of the Lord, died." Samuel wrote his book, Judges , and Ruth. David wrote Psalm , with the assistance of ten elders, viz.: Adam the First, Malachi Zedek, Abraham, Moses, Hyman, Jeduthun, Asaph, and the three sons of Korach. Jeremiah wrote his book, Kings, and Lamentations. King Hezekiah and his company wrote Isaiah ,, Proverbs ,, Song of Solomon , and Ecclesiastes. The men of the great assembly wrote Ezekiel , the Twelve Prophets, Daniel , and the Book of Esther. Ezra wrote his book, and Chronicles the order of all generations down to himself. [This may be a support to Rabh's theory, as to which, R. Jehudah said in his name, that Ezra had not ascended from Babylon to Palestine until he wrote his genealogy.] And who finished Ezra's book? Nehemiah ben Chachalyah." (Babylonian Talmud, Tract Baba Bathra (Last Gate), 1.Mishna 5) 26]

26] Michael L. Rodkinson, New Edition of the Babylonian Talmud, vol 13 (New York: New Talmud Publishing Company, 1902), 45.

B. Words of the Wise- In addition to the king's own words, either Solomon or later Jews are believed to have compiled two collections called "The Sayings of the Wise", found in Proverbs 22:17 thru Proverbs 24:22 and in Proverbs 24:23-34. Many scholars suggest that the phrase "words of the wise" found in the book of Proverbs refers to material that Solomon gathered from additional wisdom literature.

Proverbs 22:17, "Bow down thine ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply thine heart unto my knowledge."

Proverbs 24:23, "These things also belong to the wise. It is not good to have respect of persons in judgment."

This suggestion is strengthened by the fact that some of the proverbs in this passage are similar to an Egyptian writing entitled The Instruction of Amenemope, written about 1200 to 1300 B.C. 27] The fact that King Solomon sought out other sources of wisdom literature is confirmed in Ecclesiastes 12:9-10 :

27] Miriam Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature A Book of Readings, 3vols. (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1908), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004).

Ecclesiastes 12:9-10, "And moreover, because the preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yea, he gave good heed, and sought out, and set in order many proverbs. The preacher sought to find out acceptable words: and that which was written was upright, even words of truth."

Therefore, it is possible that an additional author can be credited to this passage. For this reason, Proverbs 22:17 to Proverbs 24:22 have been called the First Collection of the Sayings of the Wise and Proverbs 24:23-34 to have been called the Second Collection. Scholars suggest that these additional proverbs were gleaned from the wisdom literature of Egypt and from the East, or from within his own kingdom ( 1 Kings 4:30, Acts 7:22).

1 Kings 4:30, "And Solomon"s wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt."

Acts 7:22, "And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds."

It is also of interest to note that the same phrase, "the words of the wise," is found in the book of Ecclesiastes within the context of King Solomon"s quest for wisdom ( Ecclesiastes 12:11).

Ecclesiastes 12:11, "The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd."

C. Agur and King Lemuel- The proverbs of Agur and King Lemuel are attached as the last two chapters of the book of Proverbs (30-31). The fact that these two writings are attached at the end of the book suggests that they were written at a later date, or because they stood inferior to Solomon's writings.

Proverbs 30:1, "The words of Agur the son of Jakeh, even the prophecy: the man spake unto Ithiel, even unto Ithiel and Ucal,"

Proverbs 31:1, "The words of king Lemuel, the prophecy that his mother taught him."

D. Conclusion- In conclusion, internal and external evidence reveals that the book of Proverbs was written by at least three authors. In addition, "the sayings of the wise" allude to others, perhaps non-Jews, who contributed to the collection of proverbs found within this great piece of wisdom literature.

Regarding its canonicity, the New Testament writers quote from the book of Proverbs six times, which supports their belief in its divine authorship.

Romans 12:20, "Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head." (see Proverbs 25:21-22)

Hebrews 12:5-6, "And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My Song of Solomon , despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth." (see Proverbs 3:11-12)

James 4:6, "But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble." (see Proverbs 3:34)

1 Peter 4:18, "And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?" (see Proverbs 11:31)

1 Peter 5:5, "Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble." (see Proverbs 3:34)

2 Peter 2:22, "But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire." (see Proverbs 26:11)

Of the church fathers, Hippolytus (ANF, v 5) (fragments), Origen (PG v 13) (fragments), Eusebius (PG v 24) (fragments), Didymus the Blind (PG v 39) (portions of verse by verse), Basil (PG v 31) (portions of verse by verse), John Chrysostom (portions of verse by verse), 28] Cyril of Alexandria (PG v 69) (fragment), and Bede (PL v 91) (extensive) wrote commentaries on the book of Proverbs , 29] supporting its important role in the early Church. The early church canons always included it within the list of sacred literature. The book of Proverbs has always been considered of divine inspiration and one of the sacred books in the canon of the Jews as well as Christians.

28] Robert C. Hill, St. John Chrysostom: Commentary on the Sages, vol 2 - Commentary on Proverbs and Commentary on Ecclesiastes (Brookline, MA: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2007).

29] John R. Wright and Thomas C. Oden, Proverbs ,, Ecclesiastes ,, Song of Solomon , ed. J. Robert Wright, in Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: Old Testament, vol. IX, ed. Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005), xix.

IV. Date

The date of writing of the book of Proverbs can be determined by several factors, the most important being the fact that it was compiled over a period of approximately two hundred fifty (250) years by several authors. A second factor is the observation that its literary style fits a particular period in ancient history. A third factor is that its time of writing can be placed within the period of the "golden age" of Israel, a historical setting that was conducive to the arts and literature.

A. Evidence of Compilation- Proverbs shows clear internal evidence that it was put together, or compiled, over a period of approximately two hundred fifty (250) years. There is evidence of multiple authorship, beginning with King Song of Solomon , of editing by King Hezekiah, of duplications of verses within the book of Proverbs , and of similarity to Egyptian wisdom literature.

1. Multiple Authorship- The first evidence of compilation is the fact that the book of Proverbs declares itself to be written by at least three authors, King Song of Solomon , Agur, and King Lemuel.

Proverbs 1:1, "The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel;"

Proverbs 30:1, "The words of Agur the son of Jakeh, even the prophecy: the man spake unto Ithiel, even unto Ithiel and Ucal,"

Proverbs 31:1, "The words of king Lemuel, the prophecy that his mother taught him."

King Solomon reigned about forty years, from 970 B.C. until 930 B.C. He probably compiled these proverbs during the length of his reign. The historical dates of Agur and King Lemuel are unknown. The fact that the writings of these two men were added last indicates that they wrote in a later period, or perhaps that they were of a lower status than King Solomon.

2. Editing by Hezekiah- Because more than one author wrote the book of Proverbs , the dates of writing probably spanned over many years. We do not have an indication of the date of its final compiling, except to guess that King Hezekiah completed the gathering of collections in his time, around 720 B.C, almost 250 years later ( Proverbs 25:1).

Proverbs 25:1, "These are also proverbs of Song of Solomon , which the men of Hezekiah king of Judah copied out."

3. Duplicate Verses Within Book of Proverbs - A third confirmation of compilation is the fact that a number of verses in the first section of Proverbs are duplicated in the section copied out by Hezekiah. This indicates several authors deriving their material from the same sources. Note:

a) Example: In Solomon"s first collection of sayings, we have:

Proverbs 22:3, "A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished."

In the collections of Solomon that Hezekiah copied, we see the same proverb:

Proverbs 27:12, "A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished."

b) Example: In Solomon"s first collection of sayings, we have:

Proverbs 20:16, "Take his garment that is surety for a stranger: and take a pledge of him for a strange woman."

In the collections of Solomon that Hezekiah copied, we see the same proverb:

Proverbs 27:13, "Take his garment that is surety for a stranger, and take a pledge of him for a strange woman."

c) Example: In Solomon"s first collection of sayings, we have:

Proverbs 19:13, "A foolish son is the calamity of his father: and the contentions of a wife are a continual dropping."

In the collections of Solomon that Hezekiah copied, we see similar proverb:

Proverbs 27:15, "A continual dropping in a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike."

d) Example: In Solomon"s first collection of sayings, we have:

Proverbs 18:8, "The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly."

In the collections of Solomon that Hezekiah copied, we see similar proverb:

Proverbs 26:22, "The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly."

One exception to this pattern of duplicated verses is seen in the following two verses:

Proverbs 14:12, "There is a way which seemeth right unto a Prayer of Manasseh , but the end thereof are the ways of death."

Proverbs 16:25, "There is a way that seemeth right unto a Prayer of Manasseh , but the end thereof are the ways of death."

This issue of duplication suggests that the book of Proverbs is a compilation of several writings, or books, by several authors over several generations. One possible reason that verses are duplicated is that when ancient Jewish scholars were compiling these groups of writings, they did not want to drop any of the proverbs and risk altering the original text, as they considered each and every passage Sacred Scripture.

4. Solomonic Verses are Similar to Egyptian Wisdom Literature- A fourth evidence of compilation that is found is external, and only speculative, but worthy of consideration. Proverbs 22:17 thru Proverbs 24:22 appear to be a separate section of collections. Since many scholars translate Proverbs 22:20 to read "thirty sayings" instead of "excellent things," it is easy to find thirty individual proverbs in this section of literature. An Egyptian writing entitled The Instruction of Amenemope, written about 1200 to 1300 B.C. is also made up of thirty chapters. 30] This ancient writing has a few proverbs that are similar to the proverbs in this passage of Scripture. It was possible that Solomon was exposed to other ancient literature, and actually read this ancient piece of wisdom literature and was influenced by it. In fact, we do have Scriptural confirmation that Solomon knew about wisdom literature in other cultures ( 1 Kings 4:30).

30] Miriam Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature A Book of Readings, 3vols. (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1908), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004).

1 Kings 4:30, "And Solomon"s wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt."

We have Scriptural evidence that he sought out such wisdom ( Ecclesiastes 12:9-10).

Ecclesiastes 12:9-10, "And moreover, because the preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yea, he gave good heed, and sought out, and set in order many proverbs. The preacher sought to find out acceptable words: and that which was written was upright, even words of truth."

The fact that Solomon recorded wisdom from other cultures, however, does not take away from the inspiration of these Holy Scriptures, because divine wisdom is universal, and was not limited to the nation of Israel. It was found in many other people besides the Israelites. The book of Job is an example of this, as well as the non-Hebrew writers of chapters 30,31of the book of Proverbs.

These collections of wisdom literature were eventually put together into the book of Proverbs , as we know it today.

B. Literary Style- In addition to the evidence of compilation over a number of years, the fact that the literary style of Proverbs 22:17 to Proverbs 24:22 is similar to or influenced by the Instruction of Amenemope, which is dated in the New Kingdom period (1580-1100 B.C.), 31] leads some scholars to date this book during the time of King Solomon.

31] Miriam Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature A Book of Readings, 3vols. (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1908), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004).

C. Historical Setting- The dating of Proverbs within the reign of King Solomon is very likely because it took place during the "golden age" of Israel, which was a period in Israel's history when there was peace and prosperity that created an environment conducive to development of the arts and literature.

V. Recipients

Universal Application - The three books that Solomon wrote, the book of Proverbs , Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon , are designed for all people everywhere, both Jews and Gentiles, so that they have a universal application. There are three primary recipients identified in God's Word: the Jews, the Gentiles and the Church ( 1 Corinthians 10:32). (1) The Jews- The Old Testament placed emphasis upon the Jews as the nation of Israel. (2) The Gentiles- The book of Daniel stands alone in the Old Testament in much the same way that the book of Revelation is unique to the New Testament. Both are apocalyptic in nature, using symbolic figures to prophesy of future events. Daniel takes us through the Times of the Gentiles when God divinely works in this group of people to carry out His divine plan of election and redemption. (3) The Church- The New Testament reveals God's plan of redemption as He works through the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Under the new covenant, God created a third group of people. He took the Jews and the Gentiles and made one new man in Christ called the Church. This was the mystery that was kept hidden under the old covenant and revealed only in the New Testament. The writings of Solomon stand unique in the Holy Scriptures in that all three people-groups serve as primary recipients. This is because King Solomon was a type and figure of Jesus Christ, who will reign as King of Kings over all the earth, beginning in the Millennial reign.

1 Corinthians 10:32, "Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God:"

King Solomon was a king of kings. That Isaiah , his realm of dominion included other Gentile nations. Thus, in no place in these three books is the nation of Israel mentioned, nor a mention of the Jewish laws, rituals, feasts, ceremonies, sacrifices, the Sabbath day, or the tithe. There are also no prophetic passages about the coming of the Messiah. Nor are there any references to angels or Satan. It is clearly a Jewish writing that is designed for universal application for all ages and cultures. This is why both Jews and Christians have found comfort a clear application to their lives in these three books.

In 2 Chronicles 6:32-33 King Solomon prayed for the Gentiles who would come to the Temple in Jerusalem to call upon the name of the God of Israel. Such Gentiles would have heard and seen the great works of God and would come to receive His salvation and deliverance in their own lives. This shows that the Temple was to serve as a testimony to the nations of the earth that there was a God in heaven who could be approached. This prayer revealed that Solomon understood his office and ministry extended beyond the land of Israel and unto the nations. This would help explain why Solomon's writings of Proverbs , Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon are not designated for the Jews alone, but address all mankind.

2 Chronicles 6:32-33, "Moreover concerning the stranger, which is not of thy people Israel, but is come from a far country for thy great name"s sake, and thy mighty hand, and thy stretched out arm; if they come and pray in this house; Then hear thou from the heavens, even from thy dwelling place, and do according to all that the stranger calleth to thee for; that all people of the earth may know thy name, and fear thee, as doth thy people Israel, and may know that this house which I have built is called by thy name."

The introduction of Proverbs addresses the young, naive person, as well as the wise man. Both are recipients of this book.

Proverbs 1:4-5, "To give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion. A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels:"

Of course, we know that the proverbs are for all people today who will receive and heed these words of wisdom. But in the setting of the King's Court, it is likely that Solomon originally wrote and compiled his proverbs as material to teach to his young students as a foundation in theological training as he equipped them for leadership in the surrounding regions of his kingdom.

VI. Occasion

A careful study of the Scriptures reveals how the Lord revealed to King David that his son Solomon would be heir to the throne. As such, the king took his son aside and instilled within him a love for God and His Word. We see that God had previously spoken to King David about a son being born to him and that his name would be called "Solomon" ( 1 Chronicles 22:8-9). The birth and naming of Solomon took place in 2 Samuel 12:24-25. God also revealed to King David that Solomon was to succeed him on the throne ( 1 Chronicles 28:5-6). We also see evidence in Proverbs 4:3-4 that King David favored his son Solomon above his other sons. As he groomed Solomon for the kingship, his other sons appear to be raised without discipline and training. We read about the immorality in Amnon in raping his sister, about the murder and rebellion in Absalom, and insurrection and pride in Adonijah. Thus, we see how Solomon received correction in the smallest of areas, while his brothers remained without discipline in their sins. This was because King David gave Solomon special attention during his youth. As King David taught Solomon Wisdom of Solomon , he not only instilled within his son divine truths, but also the passion to seek God for divine Wisdom of Solomon , as Solomon must have seen his father seek the Lord passionately. Not only did Solomon inherit good behavior from these teachings, but he also inherited a yearning for wisdom. He would have sought the deepest meaning of the most noble of all the commandments, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, mind and strength." ( Deuteronomy 6:4-6) As king, Solomon's international exposure would have given him the opportunity to hear the wisdom of Egypt and of the East ( 1 Kings 4:30, Acts 7:22) and gather the collection of proverbs which we call "the words of the wise". Thus, Solomon"s upbringing would occasion the writing of the book of Proverbs. His role as king gave him the opportunity to explore the pursuits of pleasure, wealth and power, thus inspiring the book of Ecclesiastes. His relationships with his harem of wives would have occasioned him to explore the aspects of true love between a man and a woman, thus inspiring the Song of Solomon.

1 Chronicles 22:8-9, "But the word of the LORD came to me, saying, Thou hast shed blood abundantly, and hast made great wars: thou shalt not build an house unto my name, because thou hast shed much blood upon the earth in my sight. Behold, a son shall be born to thee, who shall be a man of rest; and I will give him rest from all his enemies round about: for his name shall be Song of Solomon , and I will give peace and quietness unto Israel in his days."

2 Samuel 12:24-25, "And David comforted Bathsheba his wife, and went in unto her, and lay with her: and she bare a Song of Solomon , and he called his name Solomon: and the LORD loved him. And he sent by the hand of Nathan the prophet; and he called his name Jedidiah, because of the LORD."

1 Chronicles 28:5-6, "And of all my sons, (for the LORD hath given me many sons,) he hath chosen Solomon my son to sit upon the throne of the kingdom of the LORD over Israel. And he said unto me, Solomon thy Song of Solomon , he shall build my house and my courts: for I have chosen him to be my Song of Solomon , and I will be his father."

Proverbs 4:3, "For I was my father"s Song of Solomon , tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother. He taught me also, and said unto me, Let thine heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live."

1 Kings 4:30, "And Solomon"s wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt."

Acts 7:22, "And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds."

LITERARY STYLE (GENRE)

"Perhaps the most important issue in interpretation is the issue of genre.

If we misunderstand the genre of a text, the rest of our analysis will be askew."

(Thomas Schreiner) 32]

32] Thomas R. Schreiner, Interpreting the Pauline Epistles, second edition (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, c 1990, 2011), 11.

Within the historical setting of the early kingdom of Israel, the authors of the book of Proverbs chose to write using the literary style of the ancient wisdom literature. Thus, the book of Proverbs is assigned to the literary genre called "wisdom literature." Also included in this list are the books of Job and Ecclesiastes , with certain psalms (notably Psalm 19; Psalm 37; Psalm 104; Psalm 107; Psalm 147; Psalm 148) as well as some non-canonical Apocrypha literature, such as Ecclesiasticus (Wisdom of Solomon).

The book of Proverbs has a number of issues regarding its literary style that distinguish it from the other books of the Holy Scriptures: (A) it is quoted only five times in the New Testament, (B) it is written in Hebrew parallelism, (C) it has universal application for all men everywhere, and (D) its development of a biblical concept of God's divine nature.

A. The Use of Proverbs in the New Testament - There are five passages in the book of Proverbs that are used in the New Testament.

1. Proverbs 3:11-12, "My Song of Solomon , despise not the chastening of the LORD neither be weary of his correction: For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth."

Hebrews 12:5-6, "And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My Song of Solomon , despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth."

2. Proverbs 3:34, "Surely he scorneth the scorners: but he giveth grace unto the lowly." (LXX)

James 4:6, "But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble."

1 Peter 5:5, "Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble."

3. Proverbs 11:31, "Behold, the righteous shall be recompensed in the earth: much more the wicked and the sinner." (LXX)

1 Peter 4:18, "And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?"

4. Proverbs 25:21-22, "If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink: For thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the LORD shall reward thee."

Romans 12:20, "Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head."

5. Proverbs 26:11, "As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly."

2 Peter 2:22, "But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire."

B. Hebrew Parallelisms - One of the most obvious characteristics of the uniqueness of the book of Proverbs is how it is made up of short, pithy, repetitive sayings containing divine wisdom. This construction of Hebrew parallelism, as it is called, balances two similar thoughts in a poetic manner so as to teach a hidden truth. Thus, statements are joined together in thought, using parallel, contrasting, or seceding ideas. The length of these proverbs can be grouped by size. When two sentences in a single verse balance a similar thought, it is called a distitch.

Proverbs 10:2, "Treasures of wickedness profit nothing: but righteousness delivereth from death."

This is the most abundant type in the book of Proverbs , with Proverbs 10:1 to Proverbs 22:16 using them almost without exception. Then there is the tristitch, which consists of three statements within a single verse balancing a thought.

Proverbs 28:10, "Whoso causeth the righteous to go astray in an evil way, he shall fall himself into his own pit: but the upright shall have good things in possession."

We find in the words of the wise ( Proverbs 22:17 to Proverbs 24:34) a large number of proverbs in the form of a tetrastitch. It takes two verses to form a tetrastitch.

Proverbs 22:24-25, "Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul."

There are a few proverbs using five lines that we can call a pentastitch.

Proverbs 23:4-5, "Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom. Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven."

Still fewer are what can be called a hexastitch, which uses six lines.

Proverbs 24:11-12, "If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works?"

Finally, we have at least one example of a proverb using seven lines, which we call a heptastitch.

Proverbs 23:6-8, "Eat thou not the bread of him that hath an evil eye, neither desire thou his dainty meats: For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee. The morsel which thou hast eaten shalt thou vomit up, and lose thy sweet words."

Some may call Proverbs 23:22-25 an octastitch using eight lines.

Proverbs 23:22-25, "Hearken unto thy father that begat thee, and despise not thy mother when she is old. Buy the truth, and sell it not; also Wisdom of Solomon , and instruction, and understanding. The father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice: and he that begetteth a wise child shall have joy of him. Thy father and thy mother shall be glad, and she that bare thee shall rejoice."

Then there are the lengthy proverbial "odes," such as the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31:10-31, which forms an acrostic, and those lengthy sections found in the first nine chapters of the book.

Within these forms, or structures, that make up the book of Proverbs , we call also find several types of parallelisms. Antithetical proverbs use the second sentence to contrast the thought of the first. We see that Proverbs 10:1 to Proverbs 15:33 is made up almost entirely of this type of proverbs.

Proverbs 10:3, "The LORD will not suffer the soul of the righteous to famish: but he casteth away the substance of the wicked."

A second type is the synonymous Proverbs , in which the second sentence repeats the first sentence in order to reinforce the thought.

Proverbs 11:25, "The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself."

A third common type of proverb can be called the progressive proverb, in which the second thought develops a conclusion from the first thought.

Proverbs 11:31, "Behold, the righteous shall be recompensed in the earth: much more the wicked and the sinner."

A fourth type is the parabolic Proverbs , which Jesus developed so well when He taught in parables. These proverbs are characterized by the first sentence stating a fact of nature, with the second thought drawing an ethical conclusion from it.

Proverbs 10:26, "As vinegar to the teeth, and as smoke to the eyes, so is the sluggard to them that send him."

A fifth type of proverb can be described as numerical proverbs. We find these used in the book of Amos , in the thirtieth chapter of Proverbs and one use in Proverbs 6:16-19. This type of proverb uses numbers to build up to a climax in order to reinforce a divine truth.

Proverbs 6:16-19, "These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren."

Scholars have found other types of Proverbs , but these examples give us a good idea of how the Hebrew thoughts parallel one another to create a hidden truth. 33]

33] Refer to "Introduction," in The Pulpit Commentary for an excellent discussion from which much of this material was gathered. See W. J. Deane, S. T. Taylor-Taswell, Walter F. Adeney, T. Whitelaw, R. A. Redford, and B. C. Caffin, "Introduction to Proverbs ," in Proverbs ,, Ecclesiastes , Song of Solomon. in The Pulpit Commentary, vol 9, eds. H. D. M. Spence and Joseph Exell (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co, 1950), in Ages Digital Library, v 10 [CD-ROM] (Rio, WI: Ages Software, Inc, 2001).

It is not uncommon to find loosely grouped proverbs sharing a common theme, such as the tongue, or divine providence, or material prosperity, or long life.

This type of structure found in the book of Proverbs is conducive as an aid in memory. Henry Halley said, "The Oriental method of teaching was constant repetition of wise and practical thoughts in a form that would stick in the mind." Oriental education consisted of learning by heart the maxims of the wise. The teacher dictated the lesson while the students wrote it down on their slates using a stylus. When this lesson was memorized, the slate was wiped cleaned and made ready for another lesson. Unlike today, written material was expensive scarce in those times. Thus, students were made to memorize large amounts of material.

Although the Scripture testify to three thousand proverbs that were written by Song of Solomon , the book of Proverbs records only three hundred seventy-five (375) of these sayings between chapters Proverbs 10:1 and Proverbs 22:16. There are approximately eight hundred (800) proverbs that make up the entire book.

C. The Universal Application of Proverbs - The book of Proverbs is designed for all people everywhere, both Jews and Gentiles. Like the books of Job , Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon , in no place is the nation of Israel mentioned, nor a mention of the Jewish laws, rituals, feasts, ceremonies, sacrifices, the Sabbath day, or the tithe. There are also no prophetic passages about the coming of the Messiah. Nor are there any references to angels or Satan. It is clearly a Jewish writing that is designed for universal application for all ages and cultures.

D. The Concept of God in Proverbs - The book of Proverbs develops a biblical concept of God's divine nature. Note the names of God used within the book of Proverbs.

1. The Lord "YHWH" ( יהוה):

Proverbs 3:7, "Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil."

2. His Maker:

Proverbs 14:31, "He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker: but he that honoureth him hath mercy on the poor."

3. The great God that formed all things:

Proverbs 26:10, "The great God that formed all things both rewardeth the fool, and rewardeth transgressors."

4. My God ( אֱלֹהִים):

Proverbs 30:9, "Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain."

The name of God that was personal to the nation of Israel was Jehovah, or YHWH. This was the name of the God of Israel and of no other heathen nation. The children of Israel knew Him as the only true God and the Creator of all things. It is this personal name Jehovah that is used throughout the book of Proverbs much more frequently than the more general name of Elohim. In addition, the character and nature of Jehovah God is very developed within the book of Proverbs , revealing that He was not distant to His people. We find an excellent list of verses compiled in the introduction to this book in the Pulpit Commentary show much about the character and nature of God.

1. He is holy Proverbs 30:3

2. He is incomprehensible in His ways Proverbs 30:4

3. He is a shield and protector to His people Proverbs 30:5

4. He is infinitely wise Proverbs 3:19, Proverbs 8:12-31

5. He is omniscient and omnipresent Proverbs 15:3

6. He created all things Proverbs 8:22-31

7. He governs all things by divine providence Proverbs 16:4

8. He chastens whom He loves Proverbs 3:11-12

9. He rewards the good and punishes evil Proverbs 12:2

10. He has compassion on the poor Proverbs 22:4, Proverbs 16:19, Proverbs 23:11

11. He created man with a free will Proverbs 1:24

12. He loves and delights in those who seek Him Proverbs 8:17; Proverbs 8:31

In addition, there are many verses that develop the concept of eternal life and judgment, where the dead are placed into either heaven or hell (Sheol). There is no doubt that one could expand upon this list. But the one given above reveals that author(s) of the book of Proverbs wrote under the inspiration and direction of Jehovah, the God of Israel.

THEOLOGICAL FRAMEWORK

"Scholarly excellence requires a proper theological framework."

(Andreas Ksenberger) 34]

34] Andreas J. Ksenberger, Excellence: The Character of God and the Pursuit of Scholarly Virtue (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2011), 161.

Based upon the historical setting and literary style of the book of Proverbs , an examination of the purpose, thematic scheme, and literary structure to this book of the Holy Scriptures will reveal its theological framework. This introductory section will sum up its theological framework in the form of an outline, which is then used to identify smaller units or pericopes within the book of Proverbs for preaching and teaching passages of Scripture while following the overriding message of the book. Following this outline allows the minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to take his followers on a spiritual journey that brings them to the same destination that the author intended his readers to reach.

VII. Purpose

Didactic - The primary purpose of wisdom literature is instructional, or didactic. King Solomon could have given us his deepest insights into the arts and natural sciences, as he was an intelligent man and exposed to the wisdom and knowledge of his time. Instead, he gave us the most valuable knowledge that a man can possess, which is the knowledge of understanding his ways before his Creator. He focused on the wisdom and knowledge that man needed in order to prosper in every aspect of his life: his personal family, social and religious duties. This book gives us instructions that are aimed at benefiting our spiritual, mental, physical and financial well-being.

The purpose of the book of Proverbs is clearly stated in its prologue ( Proverbs 1:1-6), which is to impart wisdom to its hearers. We could say in the New Testament that its purpose is to renew the mind. These proverbs are written so that the simple person will find the path of wisdom and so that the wise man will continue in this path of wisdom. This short passage in Proverbs 1:1-6 seems to give every synonym to describe the knowledge of the ways of God. It calls this experience a quest for Wisdom of Solomon , instruction, perception, understanding, justice, judgment, equity, discretion hearing, learning, and counsel. However, what Song of Solomon , the richest king on earth, is showing to us are the true treasures that are to be sought in this life. When we take our journey in life and pursue the riches of Wisdom of Solomon , then all other things will be added unto us. The prologue of Proverbs is the richest man on earth revealing to us the true treasures of life. Thus, as this list of virtues in Proverbs 1:2-6 also gives us a brief introduction to Wisdom of Solomon , these virtues become the treasures that one seeks after during the journey as one seeks the destination of eternal rest, seen in the final chapter of the book.

VIII. Thematic Scheme

Introduction- Each book of the Holy Scriptures contains a three-fold thematic scheme in order to fulfill its intended purpose, which is to transform each child of God into the image of Jesus Christ ( Romans 8:29). The primary, or foundational, theme of a book offers a central claim that undergirds everything written by the author. The secondary, or structural theme, of the book supports its primary theme by offering reasons and evidence for the central "claim" made by the author as it fully develops the first theme. Thus, the secondary theme is more easily recognized by biblical scholars than the other two themes because they provide the literary content of the book as they navigate the reader through the arguments embedded within the biblical text, thus revealing themselves more clearly. 35] The third theme is imperative in that it calls the reader to a response based upon the central claim and supporting evidence offered by the author. Each child of God has been predestined to be conformed into the image and likeness of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Scriptures, and they alone, have the power to accomplish this task. This is why a child of God can read the Holy Scriptures with a pure heart and experience a daily transformation taking place in his life, although he may not fully understand what is taking place in his life. In addition, the reason some children of God often do not see these biblical themes is because they have not fully yielded their lives to Jesus Christ, allowing transformation to take place by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Without a personal relationship with the Holy Spirit, a child of God is not willing to allow Him to manage his life and move him down the road that God predestined as his spiritual journey. This journey requires every participant to take up his cross daily and follow Jesus, and not every believer is willing to do this. In fact, every child of God chooses how far down this road of sacrifice he is willing to go. Very few of men and women of God fulfill their divine destinies by completing this difficult journey. In summary, the first theme drives the second theme, which develops the first theme, and together they demand the third theme, which is the reader's response.

35] For an excellent discussion on the use of claims, reasons, and evidence in literature, see Wayne C. Booth, Gregory G. Colomb, and Joseph M. Williams, The Craft of Research (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2003).

The Three-fold Thematic Scheme of the Book of Proverbs - Although many scholars use Proverbs 1:7 to suggest that the theme of Proverbs is the "fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom of Solomon ," this is only the secondary theme of the book. There is a more important foundational theme that can be found by placing the book of Proverbs within the context of the Solomonic writings. Its primary theme is to teach us how to worship the Lord with all of our mind. We do this by following our inner conscience, which is guided by the fear of the Lord, which is a supporting theme in the book, and upon which the book finds it structure. A third theme can be seen in the fact that divine wisdom always points us to Christ.

A. Primary Theme (Foundational) of the Book of Proverbs - Poetry: How to Worship the Lord with all our Heart- Introduction- The central theme of the Holy Bible is God's plan of redemption for mankind. This theme finds its central focus in the Cross, where our Lord and Saviour died to redeem mankind. The central figure of the Holy Scriptures is the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus, the Cross is the place where man meets God and where we die to our selfish ambitions and yield our lives to the God who created all things. Therefore, the Holy Scriptures are not intended to be a precise record of ancient history. Rather, its intent is to provide a record of God's divine intervention in the history of mankind in order to redeem the world back to Himself through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on Calvary.

Every book of the Holy Bible makes a central claim that undergirds the arguments or message contained within its text. For example, the central claim of the Pentateuch is found in Deuteronomy 6:4, "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD," to which all additional material is subordinate. The bulk of the material in the Old Testament is subordinate in that it serves as reasons and evidence to support this central claim. This material serves as the secondary theme, offering the literary structure of the book. In addition, the central claim calls for a response, which is stated in the following verse, "And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might." ( Deuteronomy 6:5) Such a response is considered the third, imperative theme that runs through every book of the Holy Scriptures.

This central claim is the primary, or foundational, theme and is often obscured by the weight of evidence that is used to drive the central message, which weight of evidence makes up the secondary theme; and thus, it contains more content than the primary theme. Therefore, the secondary themes of the books of the Holy Scripture are generally more recognizable than the primary theme. Nevertheless, the central claim, or truth, must be excavated down to the foundation and made clearly visible in order to understand the central theme driving the arguments contained within the book. Only then can proper exegesis and sermon delivery be executed.

The Primary Theme of the Writings of Song of Solomon - The common underlying theme of the Hebrew poetry of the Scriptures is "How to Worship the Lord with all our Heart." Poetry is primarily written to express the mood of man's heart. When we read these books in the Old Testament, we are emotionally moved as we identify with the poet or psalmist. Although there are many poetic passages in the Scriptures, for the purposes of identifying thematic schemes, this division of the Old Testament includes Job ,, Psalm ,, Proverbs ,, Ecclesiastes ,, Song of Solomon , and Lamentations , although scholars group this biblical genre differently. The first book of Hebrew poetry we encounter as we read through the Old Testament is the book of Job , which opens with an account of this man worshipping God at an altar of sacrifice ( Job 1:5). The Psalm of David show us how to worship the Lord during all seasons of life while the book of Job and Lamentations teaches us how to worship during the times of the greatest tragedies in life. As we journey through this life, we will have times of ecstasy when we are caught up in worship and we will have times of trials when we cry out to God for deliverance. However, most of our days are given to simple routines and decisions that determine our future well-being. We must then look to the book of Proverbs ,, Ecclesiastes , and Songs for a pattern of how to worship the Lord with our hearts during such uneventful days.

The writings of Solomon provide three phases of man's spiritual journey in learning to love God with all his heart, while Job ,, Lamentations , and Psalm provide real life illustrations of people who have experienced these aspects of a devout life of faith in God. Although all three writings of Solomon emphasize man's relationship with God, it is important to note that each one places emphasis upon a different aspect of man's make-up. Scholars have proposed themes for the writings of Solomon since the time of the early Church fathers. Origen (A.D 185-254) recognized a three-fold aspect to the books of Solomon by saying Proverbs focused on morals and ethics, Ecclesiastes focused on the natural aspect of man's existence, and the Song of Songs focused on the divine, spiritual realm of man. He says:

"First, let us examine why it Isaiah , since the churches of God acknowledge three books written by Song of Solomon , that of them the book of Proverbs is put first, the one called Ecclesiastes second, and the book of Song of Songs has third place….We can give them the terms moral, natural and contemplative…The moral discipline is defined as the one by which as honorable manner of life is equipped and habits conducive to virtue are prepared. The natural discipline is defined as the consideration of each individual thing, according to which nothing in life happens contrary to nature, but each individual thing is assigned those uses for which it has been brought forth by the Creator. The contemplative discipline is defined as that by which we transcend visible things and contemplate something of divine and heavenly things and gaze at them with the mind alone, since they transcend corporeal appearance…" (PG 13, Colossians 74a-b) 36]

36] J. Robert Wright, ed, Proverbs ,, Ecclesiastes ,, Song of Solomon , in Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: Old Testament IX, ed. Thomas C. Oden (Downer Grover, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 2005), 278-288; Rowan A. Greer, trans, Origen: An Exhortation to Martyrdom, Prayer and Selected Writings (New York: Paulist Rowan A, 1979), 231-232, 234.

Theodoret of Cyrrhus (A.D 393-466) makes a similar three-fold evaluation of the writings of Song of Solomon , saying:

"It is also necessary to say by way of introduction that three works belong to Solomon: Proverbs , Ecclesiastes and the Song of Songs. Proverbs offers those interested moral benefits, while Ecclesiastes comments on the nature of visible realities and thoroughly explains the futility of the present life so that we may learn its transitory character, despise passing realities and long for the future as something lasting. The Song of Songs…brings out the mystical intercourse between the bride and the bridegroom, the result being that the whole of Solomon's work constitutes a king of ladder with three steps - moral, physical and mystical. That is to say, the person approaching a religious way of life must first purify the mind with good behavior, then strive to discern the futility of impermanent things and the transitory character of what seems pleasant, and then finally take wings and long for the bridegroom, who promises eternal goods. Hence this book is placed third, so the person treading this path comes to perfection." (Preface to Commentary on Song of Songs) (PG 81, cols 46d-47a) 37]

37] J. Robert Wright, ed, Proverbs ,, Ecclesiastes ,, Song of Solomon , in Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: Old Testament IX, ed. Thomas C. Oden (Downer Grover, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 2005), 288; Pauline Allen, et al, eds, Early Christian Studies (Strathfield, Australia: St. Paul's Publications, 2001), 232.

John Calvin (1509-1564) refers to the theme of the book of Psalm and the writings of Solomon in his argument to the epistle of James , saying:

"The writings of Solomon differ much from those of David, both as to matter and style. Solomon directs his view, chiefly, to form the external Prayer of Manasseh , and to deliver to us the precepts of political life: David constantly chooses the spiritual worship of God, peace of conscience, or the gracious promise of salvation, for his theme." (Argument to the Epistle of James) 38]

38] John Calvin, Calvin's Commentary on the Epistle of James: Newly Translated from the Original Latin (Aberdeen: J. Chalmers and Co, 1797), iii.

B. Secondary Theme (Supportive and Structural) of the Book of Proverbs - We are Predestined to Reflect the Image of Christ as We Walk in the Wisdom of God (Mind) - Introduction- The secondary themes of the books of the Holy Scriptures support the primary themes by offering reasons and evidence for the central "claim" of the book made by the author. Thus, the secondary themes are more easily recognized by biblical scholars than the other two themes because they provide the literary structure of the book as they navigate the reader through the arguments embedded within the biblical text, thus revealing themselves more clearly. For example, the central claim of the Pentateuch declares that the Lord God of Israel is the only God that man should serve, and man is to love the Lord God with all of his heart, mind, and strength, a statement found in the Shema of Deuteronomy 6:4-5, which is the foundational theme of the Old Testament. The books of Hebrew poetry provide evidence to this claim by expounding upon how man is to love God with all of his heart as its secondary theme. The books of the prophets provide evidence to this claim by expounding upon how man is to love God with all of his mind as its secondary theme, as he set his hope in the coming of the Messiah to redeem mankind. The historical books provide evidence to this claim by expounding upon how man is to love God with all of his strength as its secondary theme.

The central claim of the four Gospel writers is that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, which is the foundational theme of this division of the Holy Scriptures. In addition, each Gospel writer offers evidence as its secondary theme to support his claim. The Gospel of John offers the five-fold testimony of God the Father, John the Baptist, the miracles of Jesus, the Old Testament Scriptures, and the testimony of Jesus Christ Himself as its secondary theme. Matthew expounds upon the testimony of the Old Testament Scriptures as its secondary theme; Mark expounds upon the testimony of the miracles of Jesus as its secondary theme; Luke expounds upon the testimony of John the Baptist and other eye-witnesses and well as that of the apostles in the book of Acts as its secondary theme.

The central claim of the Pauline Church Epistles is that the Gospel of Jesus Christ alone how the power to redeem and transform man into the image of Jesus, which is the foundational theme of this division of the Holy Scriptures. The epistle of Romans supports this claim by offering evidence of mankind's depravity and God's plan of redemption to redeem him as its secondary theme. The epistles of Ephesians and Philippians expound upon the role of God the Father in His divine foreknowledge as their secondary theme; the epistles of Colossians and Galatians expound upon the role of Jesus Christ as the head of the Church as their secondary theme; the epistles of 1, 2 Thessalonians , 1, 2Corinthians expound upon the role of the Holy Spirit in sanctifying the believers as their secondary theme.

The central claim of the Pastoral Epistles is that believers must serve God through the order of the New Testament Church. The epistles of 1, 2Timothy expound upon how to serve the Lord within the Church with a pure heart, which is its secondary theme. The epistle of Titus expounds upon how to serve the Lord within the Church with a renewed mind, which is its secondary theme. The epistle of Philemon expounds upon how to serve the Lord within the Church with a genuine lifestyle, which is its secondary theme.

The central claim of the General Epistles is that believers must persevere in the Christian faith in order to obtain eternal redemption. The epistles of Hebrews ,, James , and 1Peter modify this theme to reflect perseverance from persecutions from without the Church. The epistle of Hebrews expounds upon the High Priesthood of Jesus Christ, which is its secondary theme. The epistle of James expounds upon a lifestyle of perseverance through the joy of the Holy Spirit, which is its secondary theme. The epistle of 1Peter expounds upon our hope of divine election through God the Father, which is its secondary theme. The epistles of 2Peter, 1, 2, 3, John and Jude reflect perseverance from false doctrines from within. The epistle of 2Peter expounds upon growing in the knowledge of God's Word with a sound mind, which is its secondary theme. The epistles of 1, 2, 3John expound upon walking in fellowship with God and one another with a pure heart, which is its secondary theme. The epistle of Jude expounds how living a godly lifestyle with our bodies, which is its secondary theme.

The Apocalypse of John , though not considered an epistle, emphasizes the glorification of the Church, giving believers a vision of the hope that is laid up before them as a source of encouragement for those who persevere until the end. The central claim of the book of Revelation is that Jesus Christ is coming to take His Bride the Church to Glory. The secondary theme supports this claim with the evidence of Great Tribulation Period.

The Secondary Themes of the Writings of Song of Solomon - Although all three writings of Solomon emphasize man's relationship with God, it is important to note that each one places emphasis upon a different aspect of man's make-up. (1) Proverbs and Job - The secondary theme of the book of Proverbs teaches us to make wise decisions in our life by pursuing God's wisdom. It is structured in a way that teaches us how to take our mental journey through this life. We begin this spiritual journey by responding to wisdom's call to learn of God's ways as the book of Proverbs reveals. It is by the fear of the Lord that we embark upon this initial phase of learning to love the Lord by understanding and following the path of divine wisdom. The story of Job serves as an excellent illustration of a man that feared God and walked in wisdom with his fellow men, and thus serves as an excellent illustration of the teachings of Proverbs. (2) Ecclesiastes and Lamentations - As we walk in Wisdom of Solomon , we soon perceive that God has a divine plan for our lives in the midst of the vanities of life, as taught in the book of Ecclesiastes. It is at this phase of our spiritual journey that we offer our bodies in obedience to God purpose and plan for our lives as we continue to fear the Lord, which is the secondary theme of Ecclesiastes. The writer of Lamentations teaches us about the results of fearing God and keeping His commandments, and thus serves as an excellent illustration of Ecclesiastes. (3) Song of Solomon and Psalm - We then come to the phase of our spiritual journey where we learn to enter into God's presence and partake of His intimacy, which is the secondary theme of Songs. The Song of Songs tells us about the intimacy and love that man can have in his relationship with God. It is structured in a way that teaches us how to take our spiritual journey through this life. The Song of Solomon teaches us to move from a level of fearing the Lord into the mature walk of loving God with all of our hearts. The Psalm of David teach us about a man that learned to love the Lord with all of his heart, and thus serves as an excellent illustration of the Songs of Solomon. Summary- Therefore, Proverbs emphasizes our minds, while Ecclesiastes emphasizes our strength, while the Song of Songs reveals to us how to worship the Lord with oneness of heart. In these three books, Solomon deals with the three-fold nature of man: his spirit, his mind and his body. These writings inspire us to commune with God in our hearts.

The Secondary Theme of the Book of Proverbs - The secondary theme gives the book its structure, or outline. Mankind has been predestined to reflect the image of Christ by walking in wisdom. Thus, God initiates man's spiritual journey by calling him through wisdom to understand his ways, and divine wisdom comes to every man from various aspects of life. Every man is given a choice as to whether he will decide to follow the Lord or not. This emphasis upon God calling mankind is seen in the first nine chapters of the book of Proverbs , in which wisdom calls man to forsake foolishness and follow God's ways of wisdom. Through Wisdom of Solomon , God appeals to our minds to understand His ways.

This emphasis in the book of Proverbs upon man's mental decisions is the reason why Proverbs 3:5-6 is perhaps the most quoted passage in the entire book. It is because these two verses reveal the divine blessings that come of making wise decisions in the fear of the Lord.

Proverbs 3:5-6, "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."

Song of Solomon , how do we worship and serve the Lord with all of our mind? Proverbs tells us that we do this by seeking divine wisdom in every decision that we make. This is the secondary theme found in the book of Proverbs.

C. Third Theme (Imperative) of the Book of Proverbs - The Fear of the Lord is the Beginning of Wisdom - Introduction- The third theme of each book of the Holy Scriptures is a call by the author for the reader to apply the central truth, or claim, laid down in the book to the Christian life. It is a call to a lifestyle of crucifying the flesh and taking up one's Cross daily to follow Jesus. Every child of God has been predestined to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ ( Romans 8:29), and every child of God faces challenges as well as failures in the pursuit of his Christian journey. For example, the imperative theme of the Old Testament is that God's children are to serve the Lord God with all of their heart, mind, and strength, and love their neighbour as themselves ( Deuteronomy 6:4-5).

The child of God cannot fulfill his divine destiny of being conformed into the image of Jesus without yielding himself and following the plan of redemption that God avails to every human being. This 4-fold, redemptive path is described in Romans 8:29-30 as predestination, calling, justification, and glorification. The phase of justification can be further divided into regeneration, indoctrination, divine service, and perseverance. Although each individual will follow a unique spiritual journey in life, the path is the same in principle for every believer since it follows the same divine pattern described above. This allows us to superimpose one of three thematic schemes upon each book of the Holy Scriptures in order to vividly see its imperative theme. Every book follows a literary structure that allows either (1) the three-fold scheme of Father, Song of Solomon , and Holy Spirit: or (2) the scheme of spirit, soul, and body of man; or (3) the scheme of predestination, calling, justification (regeneration, indoctrination, divine service, and perseverance), and glorification in some manner.

The Third Imperative Theme of the Book of Proverbs - The third theme of Proverbs supports its secondary theme by revealing the way in which man walks in Wisdom of Solomon , which is by the fear of the Lord, which leads us to choose wisdom rather than folly. This theme is easily seen in Proverbs , which declares that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom ( Proverbs 1:7; Proverbs 9:10). It is by the fear of the Lord that moves a man to love Him with all of his mind and to choose Godly decisions. Proverbs 16:6 will tell us that by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil. The fear of the Lord can be found woven throughout the book of Proverbs as well as in the book of Ecclesiastes.

Proverbs 1:7, "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction."

The third theme of Ecclesiastes also declares that man is to fear God and keep His commandments. However, the theme of King Solomon"s third book, called the Song of Solomon , is about the love of God. It does not refer to the fear of the Lord. Why would this be so? Perhaps the answer is found in a book by Rick Joyner entitled The Call. Joyner is told, "Obedience in the fear of God is the beginning of Wisdom of Solomon , but the fullness of wisdom is to obey because of your love for God." 39] Therefore, the Song of Solomon places emphasis on obedience to God out of a deep love for God.

39] Rick Joyner, The Call (Charlotte, North Carolina: Morning Star Publications, 1999), 61.

We see that two out of Solomon's three books places emphasis upon the fear of God. If we examine all of the Holy Scriptures, we see that there are more verses in the Holy Bible telling us to fear God than to love Him.

It is the fear of the Lord that will guide us on the path of wisdom. The book of Job tells us that true wisdom is the fear of the Lord.

Job 28:28, "And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding."

Proverbs 3:7 tells us that the opposite of being wise in our on eyes, or being carnal-minded, is to make decisions based on our fear of the Lord.

Proverbs 3:7, "Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil."

It is by the fear of the Lord that we depart from evil.

Proverbs 16:6, "By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil."

It is in the fear of the Lord that we embark on the path of wisdom.

Proverbs 1:7, "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction."

It is this fear that will take us to our destination of entering into the glory of God.

Proverbs 31:30, "Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised."

The Crucified Life is Presented as the Virtuous Woman- The third theme of the book of Proverbs involves the response of the recipient to God's divine calling revealed in its primary and secondary themes. Since the writings of Solomon have a universal application, and not addressing the Jews, the Gentiles, or the New Testament Church in particular, there has been an effort for all three people groups to walk in the Wisdom of Solomon , find a purpose in the midst of life's vanity, and express perfect love towards God and man. Unfortunately, because of the depraved nature of mankind, no one has fulfilled the calling of these three books, except the man Jesus Christ. In much the same way the Law revealed the Jew's need for a Redeemer, so do the Solomonic writings reveal all of mankind's need for redemption. Jesus walked in the wisdom revealed in Proverbs , fulfilled His destiny on Calvary in the midst of the vanities of Ecclesiastes , and love the Father with the perfect love of Songs. Only through Christ Jesus can the believer fulfill the third, underlying theme of the Solomonic writings.

As believers, we are to live a crucified life daily through obedience to the divine calling given in this book, which is to fear God so that we can serve Him with all of our mind. In Proverbs , the crucified life in Christ is most clearly reflected in the strong character of the virtuous woman described in the closing chapter of this book. The daily decision she makes to serve her husband are figurative of how we are to serve Christ. For the Church, it is the Holy Spirit who becomes the voice of Wisdom of Solomon , calling believers daily to choose Him. This daily yielding to the Spirit of God is how a believer develops strong character, and is transformed more and more in to the image of Christ.

Ultimately, we are to embrace the testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ as the source of all wisdom ( 1 Corinthians 1:30).

1 Corinthians 1:30, "But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us Wisdom of Solomon , and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:"

We have been predestined to be conformed to the image of God's Son ( Romans 8:29). In the book of Proverbs this aspect of conforming to be like Jesus means that we walk in the divine wisdom of God.

Romans 8:29, "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Song of Solomon , that he might be the firstborn among many brethren."

Ultimately, man's source of divine wisdom points to redemption through Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself tells us in the Gospel of John that each of the Old Testament books testifies of Him ( John 5:39).

John 5:39, "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me."

All Old Testament Scriptures point to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Although the Messiah is not referred to directly within the book of Proverbs , we can easily see the personification of wisdom as a type and figure of our Lord and Saviour. The book of Proverbs reveals the character of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. As chapter 8 of Proverbs tells us of the eternal nature of wisdom ( Proverbs 8:22-23), being the daily delight of the Lord ( Proverbs 8:30), so was Jesus the eternal Word ( John 1:1-18), and the delight of the Heavenly Father.

John 1:14, "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth."

All things were created by wisdom ( Proverbs 8:22-30) and through Christ Jesus, the eternal Word of God.

John 1:3, "All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made."

This eighth chapter of Proverbs describes the character of the Lord Jesus Christ. He has been made our Wisdom of Solomon , as we are now to find guidance by the witness of the Holy Spirit, who guides us into all truth and wisdom.

1 Corinthians 1:30, "But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us Wisdom of Solomon , and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:"

As we take the journey through Proverbs , we begin to encounter the wise man and the fool. We soon learn that we have often come short of walking in the fullness of this wise Prayer of Manasseh , but we can see Jesus Christ as the type and figure that is portrayed in the wise man in this book. Thus, each day that we take the journey, we see the Lord Jesus Christ in every verse as it leads us to choose wisdom and righteousness, and to turn from foolishness. Thus, as wisdom in the book of Proverbs points us to our eternal destiny of rest, so does this journey lead us to find Christ as the Way, the Truth and the Life to our eternal destination. We reflect the crucified life as we become like Jesus by walking in divine wisdom. Since Christ Jesus is the only one who has perfectly walked in all of the Proverbs , and since we as Christians have fallen short in one way or the other, we can conclude that each proverb testifies of the Jesus Christ as the perfect man of wisdom. The evidence of a person who is walking in the fear of the Lord and serving him with all of his mind is a life full of the blessings of God, a person whose life testifies to "length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee," ( Proverbs 3:1).

The books of Proverbs ,, Ecclesiastes , and Songs are structured as a spiritual journey. Each of these journeys leads us into rest. Proverbs tells us that serving the Lord with all of our mind leads us into rest. The book of Ecclesiastes teaches us that serving God with all of our strength and not mammon leads us into rest. The Song of Solomon teaches us that mature love towards God leads us into rest.

D. Summary of the Three-Fold Theme of the Writings of Song of Solomon - As a review, the foundational theme of Proverbs ,, Ecclesiastes , and Song of Solomon is how to serve the Lord with all our hearts. The secondary theme of this three-fold series of writings is what gives these books their structure:

1. Proverbs - Wisdom Calls Mankind to Understand His Ways (Mind)

2. Ecclesiastes - God Gives Mankind a Purpose in Life When We Serve Him (Body)

3. Song of Solomon - God Calls Mankind to Walk With Him in the Cool of the Day (Heart)

The third theme of this three-fold series of writings reveals the results of applying the book's message to our daily lives:

1. Proverbs - The Fear of the Lord is the Beginning of Wisdom. The virtuous woman is a reflection of a person walking in wisdom and the fear of God.

2. Ecclesiastes - Fear God and Keep His Commandments. The man who keeps God's commandments has a purpose and destiny in Christ.

3. Song of Solomon - Loving God is Mature as We Abide in Christ & Labour in His Vineyard. The man who abides in Christ and produces fruit that remains.

Combining these three themes to see how they flow together in each of Solomon's writings, we see that Proverbs teaches us to serve the Lord with all of our mind as the fear of the Lord moves us to wise choices above foolishness. The outcome of this journey is the development of a person who is strong in character, symbolized by the virtuous woman. This is illustrated in the story of Job. In Ecclesiastes , the believer serves the Lord with all of his strength by obeying God's commandments because of his fear of the Lord. The outcome of this journey is the development of a person who walks in his purpose and destiny, rather than in the vanities of this world. This is illustrated in the book of Lamentations. The Song of Solomon reveals the most mature level of serving the Lord with all of one's heart. This person yields to God's love being poured into him by learning to abide in constant holy communion with the Lord. The outcome of this journey is the development of a person who overflows in the fruits and gifts of the Spirit. This is illustrated in the book of Psalm.

The themes of the books of the Holy Bible can be often found in the opening verses, and we now can easily see these three themes in opening passages of the writings of Solomon. Proverb's opening verses emphasize the need to make sound decisions through Wisdom of Solomon , instruction and understanding.

Proverbs 1:2, "To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding;"

Ecclesiastes' opening verses emphasizes the vanity of human labour when one does not serve the Lord.

Ecclesiastes 1:3, "What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun?"

Song of Songs emphasizes the intimacy of love that proceeds from man's heart.

Song of Solomon 1:2, "Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine."

Thus, it is easy to see why King Solomon would follow such a three-fold structure in his writings. Since Deuteronomy 6:4-5 was one of the more popular passages of Scripture for the children of Israel, it would make sense that Song of Solomon , in his quest for the meaning of life, would follow this three-fold approach in his analyze of what it meant to worship God. Although the book of Proverbs places emphasis upon serving the Lord by making wise decisions, a careful study of the book of Proverbs will reveal that this three-fold emphasis upon the spirit, soul and body is woven throughout the book.

In addition, the book of Job gives us an extension of the theme of Proverbs , as both of these books serve as wisdom literature, teaching us through poetry to serve the Lord with all our mind. The book of Lamentations gives us an extension of the theme of Ecclesiastes , as both of these books serve as poetic explanations for the vanities of life, teaching us through poetry to serve the Lord with all our strength. The book of Psalm gives an extension of the theme of Song of Solomon , as both of these books serve as poetry to edify the heart, teaching us through poetry to serve the Lord with all our heart. Finally, the redemptive message of the poetical books reveals that even when a man like Job walks in Wisdom of Solomon , he finds himself in need of a redeemer. Lamentations reveals a nation who has a divine destiny and purpose, yet the children of Israel find themselves in need of a redeemer. The psalms of David reveal that even when man is at his best intimacy with God, like David, he still finds himself in need of a redeemer.

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Figure 1 - Thematic Scheme of the Books of Poetry

IX. Literary Structure

The literary structure of the book of Proverbs must follow the theme of the book. It is important to note that such a breakdown of this book of the Holy Bible was not necessarily intended by the original author, but it is being used as a means of making the interpretation easier. It is hoped that this summary can identify the underlying themes of the book, as well as the themes of its major divisions, sections and subsections. Then individual verses can more easily be understood in light of the emphasis of the immediate passages in which they are found.

For years, I viewed the book of Proverbs as a book of randomly compiled sayings, with no apparent arrangement or structure. At first reading, this book appears to be an endless list of one-sentence sayings with no relationship to other verses or passages in this book. However, the book of Proverbs has a very clear order, from the first chapter until the last verse. This is because God is a God of order, and everything that God does has a purpose and an order to it. Note:

1 Corinthians 14:40, "Let all things be done decently and in order."

We even have Scriptural evidence that Solomon set these proverbs in a particular order, or arrangement. Note:

Ecclesiastes 12:9, "And moreover, because the preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yea, he gave good heed, and sought out, and set in order many proverbs."

At least five superscriptions can be found within the book of Proverbs ( Proverbs 1:1, Proverbs 10:1, Proverbs 25:1, Proverbs 30:1, Proverbs 31:1), allowing scholars to divide the book into at least five sections:

1. Proverbs 1-9 - The Introduction

2. Proverbs 10-24 - The Collection of Proverbs

3. Proverbs 25-29 - The Proverbs Copied Out by King Hezekiah

4. Proverbs 30 - The Words of Agur

5. Proverbs 31 - The Words of King Lemuel

While each of these five sections begins with an introductory verse, we can note unique characteristics within each section. Most modern commentators further divide the second section of 10-24into the First Collection of Solomon's Proverbs ( Proverbs 10:1 to Proverbs 22:16) and the Words of the Wise ( Proverbs 22:17 to Proverbs 24:34) with two subsections being identified within the Words of the Wise ( Proverbs 22:17 to Proverbs 24:22 and Proverbs 24:23-34). They then call the third section "The Second Collection of Solomon's Proverbs."

Regardless of how the book of Proverbs is grouped into sections, all agree that it clearly lays out two directions that a man can take in his life, with each direction, or path, bringing different results. These proverbs in general provide a contrast between the path of wise man and of the fool.

We learn in this book that God has called us to walk the path of Wisdom of Solomon , which will lead us into becoming conquerors and not captives like the fool, to be overcomers in all things and not to be overcome, to be able to go over and not go under. God has called us to victory and not defeat. All wisdom is hidden in God in Christ Jesus:

Romans 16:27, "To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen."

1 Corinthians 1:24, "But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God."

1 Corinthians 1:30, "But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us Wisdom of Solomon , and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:"

Colossians 2:3, "In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge."

Therefore, the book of Proverbs points us to Christ. It leads us down the path that leads to Christlikeness. Since the foundational theme of Proverbs is how to love the Lord our God with all of our mind, the structure and divisions of this book reflect the different phases of our life that develop our mental wellbeing as we become like Christ. The following summary will reveal a clear and orderly path that the book of Proverbs will lead us down, if we will just learn to follow the voice of Wisdom of Solomon , which is for us, today, the voice of the Holy Spirit.

We find a summary of the plan of redemption in Romans 8:28-30 that God the Father offers every person.

Romans 8:28-30, "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Song of Solomon , that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified."

Paul says in Romans 8:29-30 that the destination, or purpose, of every believer is to become like Jesus Christ. To bring this about, we will need to follow His divine plan for our lives. In the Father's foreknowledge, it begins with predestination, then calling, after which we move into justification as we hearken unto this calling and believe in the redemptive work on Calvary. We are kept in this position of justification as Jesus now serves as our Great High Priest making intercession for the saints. This will bring us into the final phase our redemption, which is glorification. These are essentially the four phases, or steps, that are laid out in Romans 8:29-30 in which God the Father oversees our redemption. This is how we can outline the book of Proverbs.

I. God the Father's Foreknowledge: Predestining Our Journey (Prologue) ( Proverbs 1:1-6) - Proverbs 1:1-6 serves as an introduction, or prologue, to this book of wisdom. These opening verses give us the title of the book ( Proverbs 1:1), in which we have the name of King Solomon is given as the author. The recipients are also identified in this section of verses as those who are simple, or nave as well as for the wise man ( Proverbs 1:4-5). Thirdly, we are told the reason for writing the book is to make one wise ( Proverbs 1:2-6). Its purpose of the book is to give us wisdom by following the words of wisdom. Thus, Proverbs opens with the virtues that are produced by Godly wisdom ( Proverbs 1:2-6). King Solomon understood that if we could gain Wisdom of Solomon , and learn how to walk in the path of wisdom on a daily basis, then all of the other blessings in life would follow. Thus, Proverbs opens with the virtues that are produced by Godly wisdom ( Proverbs 1:2-6). These virtues ring throughout the entire book much like Beethoven's Fifth Symphony opens with four beautiful, harmonious notes and repeats them throughout the entire symphony. As we find ourselves pursuing these four notes throughout the Fifth Symphony, so do we pursue these same virtues throughout the journey in the book of Proverbs. The list of virtues in Proverbs 1:2-6 not only gives us a brief introduction to Wisdom of Solomon , describing the manifold aspects of wisdom; but these same virtues also become the precious jewels that we are to seek daily along this path. In pursuing these jewels, one is able to remain on the path that leads to us into eternal rest, seen in the final chapter of the book. The application of these various aspects of wisdom develop a person of strong character, as described in the final passage regarding the virtuous woman.

Paul says in Romans 8:29-30 that the destination, or purpose, of every believer is to become like Jesus Christ. To bring this about, we will need to follow this divine plan. It begins with the Father's foreknowledge, which has two phases: predestination and calling. We then move into justification as we hearken unto this calling and believe in the redemptive work on Calvary. We are kept in this position of justification as Jesus now serves as our Great High Priest making intercession for the saints. The next step is not mentioned, but it is the role of the Holy Spirit in our sanctification. This will bring us into the final phase our redemption, which is glorification. These are essentially the steps that are laid out in Romans 8:29-30.

Regarding the underlying theme of this opening prologue to Proverbs , we find in Romans 8:29-30 that calling is a part of the Father's divine foreknowledge for every believer. In this passage of Scripture, predestination comes before calling, in which God establishes a purpose, or a plan, for our calling. If we interpret the prologue in Proverbs 1:1-6 in light of the structure of the book of Proverbs , which follows God's divine plan of redemption, we see how these opening verses reveal what God has predestined us to become, which Isaiah , a person who walks in divine wisdom in every aspect of his life: spiritually, mentally, physically and financially. This is the emphasis that the book of Proverbs makes as one aspect of being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. For example, in the book of Luke , we conform to the image of Jesus Christ by walking in the office of the prophet, being filled with the Holy Spirit. In the book of Acts , we walk in the office of the apostle, taking the Gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth. In the Gospel of Matthew , we become conformed to the image of Christ Jesus by walking in the office of the teacher, making disciples who will in turn teach other generations of disciples about the principles of the Kingdom of Heaven. In Mark's Gospel, we become conformed to the image of His Son by walking in the office of the evangelist, preaching the Gospel with signs following. In John's Gospel, we conform to the image of Jesus Christ by walking in the office of the pastor, maintaining fellowship with our Heavenly Father to lead His sheep. Every book of the Holy Bible provides one aspect of God's plan for His children to be conformed to be like Jesus. In the book of Psalm , we conform to His image by developing a passion for His Word ( Psalm 1:2). Therefore, in the book of Proverbs , we are conformed by walking in divine wisdom ( Proverbs 1:2-6), which is the way we worship the Lord with all of our mind. We will see the character of this person in the final chapter of Proverbs as it describes the virtuous woman.

II. God the Father's Foreknowledge: Calling Us to Our Journey (Preparation for the Journey) ( Proverbs 1:7 to Proverbs 9:18) - Most scholars consider Proverbs 1-9 to be a discourse, or a tribute, to wisdom. This section serves as an introduction to Solomon's collection of wise, pithy sayings that follows. This introductory material is a preparation for being able to understand the rest of the book. Its underlying emphasis is the divine calling that God gives to every human being. Therefore, we find the statement of wisdom "crying out," "uttering her voice" and "calling" used repeatedly throughout this section of Proverbs.

In these first nine introductory chapters, wisdom is personified as a person speaking in the feminine gender. Just as an artist sketches an outline of a painting, then splashes colors upon the canvas, until a beautiful painting emerges, so in these chapters of Proverbs does wisdom begin to reveal itself verse by verse (as an artist reveals a picture color by color) until chapter 8, when wisdom is seen as an intimate part of God and His creation. Wisdom is personified as a person speaking because man would be incapable of understanding his experiences in life without divine wisdom being given to him. This impartation is done in the person of the Holy Spirit. Wisdom is personified as a woman because the Hebrew word translated as "wisdom" is in the feminine gender.

These chapters contrast the table of blessings ( Proverbs 9:1-6) with the trap of death ( Proverbs 1:17-19, Proverbs 9:18). The wise man chooses wisdom"s table of blessings. In contrast, the fool chooses the trap of death, supposing that it is a table of blessing. Studying this introduction is a necessary preparation for finding one's way through the rest of the book of Proverbs. Thus, a drama immediately unfolds in the introduction, revealing to us how wisdom sets a man free, but the trap of death ensnares its victims in the strongholds of sin. These strongholds do not turn its captives loose until it completes its assignment of death. In contrast, wisdom leads a man into his rightful place of glory and honor above God's creation ( Proverbs 3:35, Proverbs 31:30), and into submission to his Creator.

This section of Proverbs is actually a call to follow the path of Wisdom of Solomon , in which wisdom presents his arguments for choosing the path of wisdom over the path of the fool. God calls mankind to righteousness in this present Church age through the convicting power of the Holy Spirit that has been sent upon the earth, who convicts the world of sin righteousness and judgment ( John 16:7-11); but prior to this age God called mankind to righteousness through Wisdom of Solomon , which testified from Creation ( Romans 1:19-23), and from society. We see in these chapters that wisdom is a path that is to be diligently followed. Wisdom is a decision that is made on a daily basis, and these daily decisions will determine our destiny, both in this life and in the life to come. This book of wisdom contrasts the wise man with the fool throughout the book. As we will see in Proverbs , every decision that we make is either a wise decision, or a foolish one. Every decision affects our eternal destiny. This section begins with a call to follow wisdom ( Proverbs 1:7-9), and ends by explaining how every human being decides between destinies, heaven or hell ( Proverbs 9:1-18).

In the path of wisdom there are many dangers. It is for this reason these nine chapters give us many warnings against the evil man and the adulteress, even before the real journey begins. The path of wisdom is narrow and easily missed. All of us have fallen off this path at one time or another in our lives. This book of Proverbs was written by King Song of Solomon , considered the wisest person that has ever lived. Yet, even he fell off this path of wisdom because he allowed pride to blind his vision and dull his hearing. This gives us an indication of how narrow is this path to follow.

Pride is an attitude of the heart. It is the very reason that Solomon fell into idolatry. It is the root cause of every man"s failure. It comes clothed in many forms, such as false humility and it clothes itself in Prayer of Manasseh -made titles of honour, such as "honorable, his lordship, his excellence, his grace, cardinal, pope, etc." For example, the Pope in Rome carries the title of "His Holiness". These nine chapters open and close with Proverbs 1:7; Proverbs 9:10, which reveal the secret of avoiding failure, which is caused by pride. We are told that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom ( Proverbs 1:7 and Proverbs 9:10). This fear keeps us from falling off the path of wisdom.

This introduction material in Proverbs 1-9 makes up almost one third of the book. Why is this introduction to Proverbs so lengthy relative to the overall length of the book? It is because the preparation for our journey in life is also lengthy. Solomon was taught for many years before he took the throne as king of Israel. Good training takes time and a good education does not come quickly. The degree that a person receives a secular education usually determines the height of his career. In comparison, the degree that a person becomes rooted and grounded in the Word of God will determine the height of that person"s ministry. You must take the time to receive this introductory training in the first nine chapters of Proverbs before you are ready for the journey. The better we are able to understand the introduction of the book of Proverbs , the better we will be able to understand the rest of its teachings.

For hundreds of years in western civilization, a theological education was a part of a well-rounded education. All students learned the classical languages of Hebrew, Greek and Latin in order to study theological literature. The children of Israel were also to give each child a theological education. Solomon received such an education. Therefore, we can see this introduction to Proverbs as the theological training that everyone should go through in preparation for the journey in life.

One further note is worth mentioning about chapters 1-9. Upon reading we must ask the question as to why this lengthy introduction in Proverbs spends so much time describing and warning the readers about the harlot. Perhaps because this is the one area that trapped and deceived Song of Solomon , the wisest man that ever lived. It is in this area that Solomon knows many of the young men he is training for leadership positions in the kingdom will be tempted. In addition, in a figurative sense, such spiritual adultery represents a believer who chooses to love the things of this world above his love for God.

Now that we have some insight into these first nine chapters of the book of Proverbs , let us look at a brief summary of this great book of wisdom.

A. The Father Calls Us to Wisdom ( Proverbs 1:7-33) - It is God who calls us to salvation, and not a work of ourselves. Thus, it is God's foreknowledge motivated by His boundless love for mankind that initiates this call. Proverbs 1:7-33 describes this divine call from God. Romans 8:29-30 tells us that calling is the second phase of the Father's foreknowledge in His overall divine plan of redemption. This divine calling is the underlying theme of Proverbs 1:7-33.

The opening statement in this passage ( Proverbs 1:7 a) tells us that it is the fear of the Lord that will guide us along our journey to rest. These verses on the fear of the Lord will serve as signposts that are posted throughout the journey in order to show to us that we are on the right path; for the way is narrow, and many are the deceptions along the way. As the list of virtues in Proverbs 1:2-6 gives us a brief introduction to characteristics of the wise Prayer of Manasseh , the following verse ( Proverbs 1:7 b) contrasts this passage with a brief introduction to the fool.

Our divine calling from God begins at home as a child learns to obey his parents. Reverence for parents ( Proverbs 1:8) naturally follows Proverbs 1:7, for learning to obey our parents becomes our first lesson in reverence for God. When a child develops a genuine devotion to his parents, he naturally will learn this same devotion to the Lord. His loyal and gentle spirit serves as an ornament of grace that make this person stand out in a crowd above others of less character ( Proverbs 1:9).

Although the heart of every believer knows that God"s wisdom is higher, he cannot help but hear the voice of the wicked ringing in his ears ( Proverbs 1:10-19). These verses tell us that the wicked seek to exploit others for their own greedy gain, not knowing that they are actually destroying their own souls.

In the midst of the voices of this world, the believer hears the call of wisdom ( Proverbs 1:20-33). This call cries loudly from within the heart of each believer. For those who choose this path, there is safety without fear ( Proverbs 1:33). Those who scorn this voice will find distress ( Proverbs 1:27). If the voice of wisdom is not heeded, she will not answer on the day of their calamity ( Proverbs 1:28).

1. Exhortation to Fear God and Parents: The Key of Life Revealed ( Proverbs 1:7-9) - The first key that Solomon gives to us to enable us to unlock the secrets to life's journey is the instruction that we are to fear the Lord by initially respecting our parents in the home ( Proverbs 1:7-9). This is where a person's journey into fellowship with God begins in a life of godliness. God gave every human being parents and a home where discipline is taught as a way of starting us on our journey that will take us to Heaven's gates and into God's eternal presence. Our salvation experience is our decision to fear God and honor our parents. All other journeys lead to destruction. This journey will bring us into adornment and honor, which is referred to in Proverbs 1:9. So we see that the fear of the Lord opens the door of our hearts to receive the anointing. Thus, Proverbs 1:7-9 can be understood to be a summary of the entire book of Proverbs. It can be compared to the introduction of a thesis in which the issues and message of the document is summarized in the opening paragraph.

2. The Call of the Wicked ( Proverbs 1:10-19) - On this journey there are always two voices pulling at our ears, the voice of the fool and the voice of wisdom. As Christians, we can describe these two voices as the outward voice of Prayer of Manasseh , and the inward voice of our conscience and the Holy Spirit. Even from a child, as we are learning to obey our parents ( Proverbs 1:8-9), there are foolish children clinging to us with enticements to follow them.

In contrast to the call of wisdom to pursue its virtues ( Proverbs 1:20-33), the call of the fool is greedy for gain, "So are the ways of every one that is greedy of gain"( Proverbs 1:19). This passage is a warning against greed, or covetousness. The sinner's goal is not to benefit those who answer his call. Rather, his goal is for personal gain. Out of the abundance of his mouth the sinner speaks and reveals his objective, that of personal gain.

The Tempter himself, Satan, enticed Jesus with these same words ( Luke 4:6-7).

Luke 4:6-7, "And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine."

Peter tells us in his second epistle that the world has been made corrupt through the lust that dwells within the heart of a fallen humanity.

2 Peter 1:4, "Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust."

James writes in his epistle that the spirit that dwells within man "lusts to envy."

James 4:5, "Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?"

Thus, the voice of the wicked can be recognized by its vices that are manifestations of manipulation ( Proverbs 1:10), cruelty ( Proverbs 1:11-12) and a greedy heart ( Proverbs 1:13-14):

1. He entices and manipulates ( Proverbs 1:10)

2. He wants to do things his way ( Proverbs 1:11)

3. He wants secrecy and not openness ( Proverbs 1:11)

4. He pursues injustice ( Proverbs 1:11)

5. He speaks of taking and not giving, of death and not life ( Proverbs 1:12)

6. He pursues earthly things rather than Godly virtues ( Proverbs 1:13)

7. They make promises of which they have no intent to deliver ( Proverbs 1:14)

When someone yields to the enticing voice of the sinner, we would say today, "He got in with the wrong crowd!" Why would a sinner be interested in befriending someone? Remember that even a sinner cannot succeed in this life without relationships with others. Although these relationships are short-term and much abused by the sinner, he still must pursue them in order to reach his greedy desires. Therefore, he is out hunting for someone to entice and in the end to simply for his own selfish gain.

Now such a corrupt person lacks the ability to sustain a relationship with someone else over a long period of time. Once this relationship requires that they give and submit on their part, once it requires a sacrifice and a loss, they are compelled to end this relationship and seek a new one; for their purpose is personal gain and not the well-being of others. They may give a little up front to make you think that this is a giving relationship, but it is all for show to manipulate others. The owner of the nightclubs does not care about your well-being. The tobacco companies do not want you to know that cigarettes cause cancer and kill their victims. They simply want your substance, and they laugh all of the way to the bank while destroying the lives of their victims.

Today, I am amused by the many voices of the enticer. I used to be confused before I renewed my mind with the Word of God. This was because this voice of enticement lured me, it attracted me and grabbed my interest, and my unrenewed mind thought that there was some truth and relevance to those words. Now, I can discern between the voice of wisdom and the words of enticement much better, and it now amuses me to see how foolish the world is to yield to such messages.

3. The Call of Wisdom ( Proverbs 1:20-23) - Proverbs 1:20-33 gives us the call of wisdom. Keep in mind that the book of Proverbs is written both to the simple and to the wise, both to the sinner and to the child of God. Wisdom not only calls us to salvation, but wisdom keeps calling in order to keep us on the path of salvation.

The very tone of Proverbs 1:20-33 reveals God's love and patience to a disobedient people. God takes every opportunity to speak openly to His people ( Proverbs 1:20-21). This is because it is not His desire to bring judgment ( Proverbs 1:22-23), so He gives people an opportunity and time to repent ( Proverbs 1:25). When He does bring judgment, as upon Sodom and Gomorrah, it was not without prior warnings ( Proverbs 1:25-33). When this divine judgment comes, it then serves as an example so others will not follow the same rebellious path.

Jude 1:7, "Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire."

Therefore, God pronounces the crime ( Proverbs 1:24-25 and Proverbs 1:30) twice. Then He declares the judgment twice ( Proverbs 1:26-27 and Proverbs 1:31-32). He states that this judgment will be sure and without mercy ( Proverbs 1:28).

4. The Consequences of Rejecting Wisdom ( Proverbs 1:24-33) - After wisdom makes her call ( Proverbs 1:20-23), wisdom then gives warnings to those who fail to heed this call ( Proverbs 1:24-33). This passage applies to the daily walk of the Christian as well as to the sinner. For the child of God, wisdom often warns us of dangers to come, so that we will avoid calamities.

In Proverbs 1:24-33 the voice of wisdom changes from a tone of a plea to a warning. How often have we spoken to our children in love by pleading with them to do right and following this with a warning to them if they do wrong.

But thank God, this chapter which tells us of the call of wisdom does not leave us struggling to understand how to discern the voice of wisdom. In chapter two, we are told how to gain discernment by studying the Word of God ( Proverbs 2:1-5) so that we are better able to distinguish between the voice of the Holy Spirit ( Proverbs 2:6-11) and the voice of the evil man ( Proverbs 2:12-15) and the strange woman ( Proverbs 2:16-19). In the following chapters, wisdom tells us how the Word of God transforms our hearts, minds and bodies so that the voice of wisdom shines brighter and brighter as the noonday sun.

B. Answering God the Father's Call ( Proverbs 2:1-22) - As a believer, we must learn how to obtain wisdom. Wisdom calls, but we must learn how to answer that call. We answer the call of wisdom by applying ourselves to the study of the Holy Bible ( Proverbs 2:1), by meditating on His Word ( Proverbs 2:2), by praying for understand ( Proverbs 2:3) and by making this search more important than the pursuits of this world ( Proverbs 2:4). Only then will we find wisdom ( Proverbs 2:5-6). God chooses this method of giving a man wisdom so that the wicked will not be able to find it, and in rejecting it, they increase their own judgment from Almighty God ( Luke 8:10). This is because God"s ways are merciful, even to the wicked. This method of finding the hidden treasures of wisdom will deliver us from the wicked man ( Proverbs 2:12-15) and from the immoral woman ( Proverbs 2:16-20).

Luke 8:10, "And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand."

Here is a proposed outline:

1. How to Find Wisdom ( Proverbs 2:1-9) - As a believer, we must learn how to obtain wisdom. Wisdom calls to us from within ( Proverbs 1:20-33), but we must learn how to find wisdom. We will not search for wisdom without a sincere desire to pursuit it. Therefore, chapter 2tells us some simple steps that we are to follow in order to create that desire within our hearts to follow wisdom's call. Another way to describe this chapter is to say that it teaches us how to begin to train our spirits to hear the voice of Wisdom of Solomon , which is the voice of the Holy Spirit.

This desire to know the voice of the Lord was Solomon's prayer as a young king.

1 Kings 3:9, "Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?"

Therefore, we find in this passage, as well as chapter 4, the process by which a person can develop his spirit in order to better hear the voice of God. For this was Solomon's passion as a young king.

In chapter 2, we learn that wisdom is found by humbling our hearts to receive God"s Word ( Proverbs 2:1), by meditating on His Word ( Proverbs 2:2), by praying for understand ( Proverbs 2:3) and by making this search more important than the cares of this world ( Proverbs 2:4). As we spend time in God's Word with an open heart ( Proverbs 2:1), it strengthens our spiritual desire for the things of God. As we continue in his Word ( Proverbs 2:2), the desire for wisdom grows ( Proverbs 2:3) until it becomes the passion of our lives ( Proverbs 2:4). It is only when we follow this guideline that we will find wisdom for our lives ( Proverbs 2:5), which only proceeds from God ( Proverbs 2:6). Wisdom will then protect us along life's journey.

a) How We Develop an Ear to Hear the Call of Wisdom (This Passage Parallel's Solomon's Prayer for a Hearing Heart) ( Proverbs 2:1-5) - Chapter one tells us that wisdom calls both to the simple and to the wise, to guide them daily in the path of blessing and protection. But thank God that chapter one does not leave us struggling to understand how we are to discern the voice of wisdom. In chapter two we are told how to develop a hearing ear so that we can hear wisdom's voice and gain discernment by studying the Word of God ( Proverbs 2:1-5); for wisdom proceeds from God ( Proverbs 2:6), and it is God's way of protecting His children ( Proverbs 2:7-9). When we learn how to obtain it, we find ourselves protected from the calamities that befall the wicked ( Proverbs 2:10-20), from the voice of the evil man ( Proverbs 2:12-15) and the strange woman ( Proverbs 2:16-19) so that we can dwell in the land and not be cut off ( Proverbs 2:21-22).

We may ask, "How does reading God's Word help us to be more aware of the Holy Spirit speaking to us?" In answer to such a question, it has been my experience that when the Word of God is dwelling richly in my heart and mind, the Holy Spirit easily reminds me of a particular verse or passage of Scripture in a way that applies to a situation I am facing. Thus, the logos word we have memorized is turned into a living, rhema word as the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking unto us.

If we find a parallel to this passage in the life of Song of Solomon , we find it in his prayer for wisdom. We remember Solomon's prayer to God, "Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad." ( 1 Kings 3:9) This is the theme of Proverbs chapter 2. Solomon wants to lead us through the same journey that he had to take in order to hear from God. I believe that God answered Solomon's prayer, not by speaking to him audibly on a regular basis, or by imparting unto him a spiritual heart to hear from God, but rather, by revealing to him that secret to developing a hearing heart through spending time meditating in God's Word. It was up to Solomon to work this divine truth out in his life. The anointing is imparted. But in order to be led by the Spirit of God we must develop our spirit man.

We find another parallel to Proverbs 2:1-5 in the epistle of Hebrews where the author say, "But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil." ( Hebrews 5:14) In other words, we must exercise our senses so that we can hear the voice of God and distinguish between the good and the bad decisions in our life.

As a believer, we must learn how to obtain wisdom. Wisdom calls, but we must learn how to answer that call. We answer the call of wisdom by applying ourselves to the study of the Holy Bible ( Proverbs 2:1), by meditating on His Word ( Proverbs 2:2), by praying for understand ( Proverbs 2:3) and by making this search more important than the pursuits of this world ( Proverbs 2:4). Only then will we find wisdom ( Proverbs 2:5), which proceeds from no other source but God ( Proverbs 2:6).

Now God chooses this method of giving a man wisdom so that the wicked will not be able to find it, and in rejecting it, they increase their own judgment from Almighty God ( Luke 8:10). This is because God"s ways are merciful, even to the wicked. He wants to reduce their judgment if possible.

Luke 8:10, "And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand."

This method of finding the hidden treasures of wisdom will deliver us from the wicked man ( Proverbs 2:10-15) and from the immoral woman ( Proverbs 2:16-20).

In the following chapters, wisdom tells us how the Word of God transforms our hearts, minds and bodies so that the voice of wisdom shines brighter and brighter as the noonday sun. Thus, chapter two reveals that we can learn to discern the voice of wisdom so that we can avoid being deceived by the voices of this world, and thus avoid falling into calamities as the world experiences.

b) Wisdom Protects Our Path ( Proverbs 2:6-9) - We see in Proverbs 2:6-9 the divine protection of God. After years of serving the Lord and following His plan for my life, I have noticed that I do not have to frequent the altar calls for my deliverance during every church service. My life is peaceful and things are well with my soul because of God's daily deliverance in my life. The Lord has delivered me from the counsels of the wicked one, so that I do not have to be in bondage and cry out for deliverance.

2. Wisdom Always Provides a Path of Escape for Us ( Proverbs 2:10-22) - Proverbs 2:10-22 tells us that wisdom will deliver us from the paths of the evil man and the strange woman. Proverbs 2:10-11 gives us the method of escaping from the devices of the wicked. The lifestyle of allowing wisdom to enter through our minds, our eyes and ears, and into our hearts allows us to avoid the snares that trap other people. For the words of the wicked man ( Proverbs 2:12-15) and strange woman (16-19) are the methods of trapping the fool. These words are carefully placed before their victims in order to gain entrance into their hearts. Once these words have been received into the heart of a Prayer of Manasseh , they ensnare him. But for the man of Wisdom of Solomon , he only receives words of wisdom into his heart. Wisdom will soon tell us to guard our hearts with all diligence ( Proverbs 4:23). Thus, he protects his eyes and ears, which are the entrance into his heart.

Proverbs 4:23, "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life."

One way that wisdom protects us is that it allows us to foresee problems ahead and avoid them. However, the simple continues on that course and is punished ( Proverbs 22:3).

Proverbs 22:3, "A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished."

For those who do not need wisdom's call will give their labour and wealth to others and mourn at last when their bodies are consumed and they will say, "How have I hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof; And have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined mine ear to them that instructed me!" ( Proverbs 5:12-13)

a) God's Method of Divine Protection ( Proverbs 2:10-11) - The previous verses ( Proverbs 2:7-9) promise God"s divine hand of protection to those who faithfully serve Him. His method of protecting us is stated in the next verses ( Proverbs 2:10-11), which says that divine wisdom enters our lives and protects us. In other words, God gives wisdom to avoid problems to those who seek Him. Therefore, if a child of God walks away from the wisdom given to him, he will encounter problems. He may ask God why such things happened to him, thinking God should be sovereignly protecting him. God's system is to give His children Wisdom of Solomon , so that they become responsible for making sound decision.

b) Escape from the Wicked Man ( Proverbs 2:12-15) - Proverbs 2:12-15 gives us warnings against following the call of the wicked man. These verses give away his secret of enticement, which are his words. He takes his victims by the words of his mouth, in the same way that the strange woman does ( Proverbs 2:16-19). However, wisdom will deliver us from the wicked man.

c) Escape from the Strange Woman ( Proverbs 2:16-20) - Proverbs 2:16-20 warns us about the strange woman. These verses give away her secret of enticement, which are her words. She takes her victims by the words of her mouth, in the same way that the wicked man does ( Proverbs 2:12-15). Wisdom will deliver us from the strange woman.

Within the historical setting of King Solomon's court, who else would the young ladies in society desire more than these young, educated, handsome men who are being trained in the king's courts and who are destined for a career as a leader in that nation.

d) The End Results of the Wise Man and the Fool ( Proverbs 2:21-22) - Proverbs 2:21-22 gives us the end results of the decisions made by the one who pursues wisdom and the one who becomes ensnared by the wicked man and the strange woman. The wise man will become established and take possession of the land while the sinner will be taken away from off of the earth.

C. The Blessings of Answering the Call of Wisdom ( Proverbs 3:1-35) - Once we receive the call from wisdom in chapter 1, we are shown how to find it in chapter 2. Therefore, in chapter 3, we will learn what happens to us when we answer the call of wisdom. If we find a parallel to this passage in the life of Song of Solomon , we will find it in the great wisdom and wealth that he acquired as the king of Israel as a result of following the principles laid down in chapters 1,2. Solomon started his journey as a king being young and tender (chapter 1). He then asked God for a hearing heart (chapter 2). As a result, he found not only Wisdom of Solomon , but the blessings of peace and abundance and wealth that comes with wisdom (chapter 3).

As a summary of chapter three, we see that the path of wisdom will lead us into spiritual, mental, physical and material blessings ( Proverbs 3:1-18). If God uses wisdom to determine the destiny of His creation ( Proverbs 3:19-20), so do our choices determine our own destiny ( Proverbs 3:21-26) as we learn to walk in wisdom with our neighbour in order to bring us to our eternal destiny ( Proverbs 3:27-35).

Therefore, this passage of Scripture gives us the manifold aspects of wisdom. It is like the light that reflects through a beautiful diamond. A diamond has many different sides that reflect different colors of the rainbow. A diamond is able to show us the many different colors of light. Yet, each color reflected from this diamond is a part of the same light beam. In comparison, wisdom has many different colors, or dimensions. When placed together, this passage shows us divine wisdom that is perfect and complete, and able to make our lives whole in every aspect. Complete wisdom is learning to apply all of these verses to our lives, so that the blessings of God will be evident in every area of life. Only then will we be able to fulfill the eternal destiny that God has created us for as a part of His overall plan for His eternal creation.

1. The Blessings of Wisdom ( Proverbs 3:1-12) - Proverbs 3:1-2 give a brief, general summary of the blessings of wisdom. These two verses tell us that by Wisdom of Solomon , we can have a better quality of life. Proverbs 3:3-6 then give to us a more specific description of the blessings of Wisdom of Solomon , such as favor in relationships ( Proverbs 3:3-4), knowing God"s will ( Proverbs 3:5-6), health ( Proverbs 3:7-8), prosperity ( Proverbs 3:9-10), and correction ( Proverbs 3:11-12).

Proverbs 3:3-4 deal with how to walk in love and truth in order to have quality relationships. These verses deal with the heart of a Prayer of Manasseh , his spirit. Proverbs 3:5-6 deal with carnal reasoning. These verses deal with the soul of a man. Proverbs 3:7-8 deal with physical health, which is our body. Thus, the three-fold make up of a man is addressed in the proper order, the spirit, the soul and the body. This is the same order that is followed in 1 Thessalonians 5:23, "And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."

Note that the spirit, or heart, of a man is addressed first, because this is the most important part of man"s make-up. Walking in love is the most important aspect of wisdom. Each aspect of wisdom is given in its order of priority. This is why prosperity in Proverbs 3:9-10 is given last, because it holds a lower priority of achievement in God"s eyes. It is better to have a pure heart, or even good health, than riches. However, prosperity is God"s will when a man"s life is in order, both in spirit, soul and body. Creflo Dollar says that wealth is the offspring of wisdom. 40] This passage in Proverbs 3:1-12 proves this to be the case. Finally, the spirit is discussed first in this passage of Scripture because we are to be more spirit conscience than flesh conscience.

40] Creflo Dollar, Changing Your World (College Park, Georgia: Creflo Dollar Ministries), on Trinity Broadcasting Network (Santa Ana, California), television program.

If Proverbs 3:3-4 deal with the heart of Prayer of Manasseh , then Proverbs 3:5-6 deal with the mind and understanding of man. Proverbs 3:7-8 deal with the physical man. Proverbs 3:9-10 deal with finances. Proverbs 3:11-12 deal with chastisement, which God gives to keep our walk balanced with Him as He blessings us in our heart, mind, body and finances.

In addition, we see the law of sowing and reaping in all of these verses. When we sow by diligently obeying God's Word ( Proverbs 3:1), we reap a harvest of manifold blessings ( Proverbs 3:2). We sow in the spirit realm in order to reap right relationships ( Proverbs 3:3-4). We sow in the soulish realm in order to have a sound mind for making right decisions ( Proverbs 3:5-6). We sow in the physical realm to reap good health Proverbs 3:7-8). We sow in the material realm in order to reap material prosperity Proverbs 3:9-10). Galatians 6:8 illustrates the fact that we can sow either in the spirit realm or in the carnal, fleshly realm.

Galatians 6:8, "For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting."

A careful examination of Proverbs 3:27-34 will reveal to us how it is related to this passage in Proverbs 3:1-12. Proverbs 3:27-28 serves as an illustration of Proverbs 3:9 by telling us how to give to those with genuine needs. This is how we are to honor the Lord with our substance. Proverbs 3:29-30 serves as an illustration of Proverbs 3:7 by telling us not to get into strife with our neighbour. We are to "depart from evil", or "depart from strife". We know that people who are wise in their own eyes tend towards strife. Proverbs 3:31-32 serves as an illustration of Proverbs 3:5 by telling us not to follow the path of the oppressor, but to find the secret counsel of the Lord when making decisions. Proverbs 3:33-34 serves to illustrate Proverbs 3:3 by teaching us to walk with a humble heart and not allow pride to bring us into scorn towards others. For in humility, we are able to show mercy to others and to walk in the truth of God's Word.

a) A General Summary of Wisdom's Blessings ( Proverbs 3:1-2) - Proverbs 3:1-2 give us the blessings of wisdom in a nutshell. When we sow by diligently obeying God's Word ( Proverbs 3:1), we reap a harvest of manifold blessings ( Proverbs 3:2). These blessings will be discussed in more depth in Proverbs 3:3-10. A good illustration of a man in the Scriptures that was blessed in all of these areas of his life is Abraham ( Genesis 24:1).

Genesis 24:1, "And Abraham was old, and well stricken in age: and the LORD had blessed Abraham in all things."

b) Wisdom and Its Blessings in Relationships: Wisdom Blesses the Man Spiritually ( Proverbs 3:3-4) - Proverbs 3:3-4 focuses upon the spirit of man and how God's blessings affect him in this realm. When his heart is right with God his relationships with others becomes blessed.

Wisdom will teach us how to walk in love and faithfulness in relationships with both God and man. Mercy and truth proceed from a pure heart. This conduct of walking with a pure heart will bring us into places of favor and honor in our relationships with other people.

Proverbs 3:3-4 mentions receiving favor from both God and man for a reason. This is because God is watching how we conduct ourselves with our fellow man. If we walk in love towards others, God will favor us with His blessings ( Proverbs 19:17; Proverbs 21:21, Matthew 6:14; Matthew 7:1-2).

Proverbs 19:17, "He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD and that which he hath given will he pay him again."

Proverbs 21:21, "He that followeth after righteousness and mercy findeth life, righteousness, and honour."

Matthew 6:14, "For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:"

Matthew 7:1-2, "Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye Judges , ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again."

Also, if we walk closely with the Lord in divine wisdom and with His anointing, people will take notice as they did with Joseph and Daniel , thus favoring them above other ( Proverbs 4:9).

Proverbs 4:9, "She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee."

It is impossible to separate our relation with God from our relationships with man. All human relationships are related in some way to our relationship with God. Thus, the favor and understanding that is a result of these relationships are related to God and man.

c) Wisdom and its blessings in Decision-making: Wisdom Blesses the Man Mentally ( Proverbs 3:5-6) - As wisdom will teach us how to prosper in our relationships in Proverbs 3:3-4, wisdom will teach us how to find God"s purpose and will for our lives as we learn to trust Him in every area of our lives. These two verses are telling us to renew our minds with the Word of God so that we will be able to make wise decisions. We are to find God's will in everything that we do so that He can prosper us exceedingly.

Romans 12:2, "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."

3 John 1:2, "Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth."

d) Wisdom and its blessings in Health: Wisdom Blesses the Man Physically ( Proverbs 3:7-8) - Wisdom will teach us how to have a long life if we will fear the Lord and keep His commandment. The reason that the phrase "depart from evil" is used in Proverbs 3:7 as a condition living a long life in Proverbs 3:8 is because the context of chapters 1-9 refers to the path of wisdom verses the path of the evil man. The voice of wisdom will help us avoid the paths of evil that have cut off the life of many victims. Proverbs 22:3 tells us that a wise man will see danger ahead and will turn from it and save his life, but the fool, in his blindness, will walk right into danger.

Proverbs 22:3, "A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished."

e) Wisdom and its Blessings in Prosperity: Wisdom Blesses the Man Financially ( Proverbs 3:9-10) - Wisdom will teach us how to prosper in our material possessions as we learn to give to Him first. The principle here is clearly the law of sowing and reaping. As we give generously, we will receive in abundance. God wants our hearts to put him first ( Proverbs 3:3-4) so that we will renew our minds to think like Him ( Proverbs 3:5-6) and so that we can live a long life ( Proverbs 3:7-8) and be able to gain financial wealth ( Proverbs 3:9-10).

f) Wisdom and its Blessings in Chastisement ( Proverbs 3:11-12) - Wisdom will teach us how to endure God"s chastening and discipline in our lives, so that we will be pleasing in His sight. These verses naturally follow Proverbs 3:3-6, where we see that God instructs us in every area of our lives. In this path of instruction for spiritual, mental, physical, and material prosperity, God will have to correct us at times as His children. If we stay on the path that leads to life, we too will have to endure correction. It is a part of the process that leads to success and prosperity.

Proverbs 6:23, "For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life:"

2. Wisdom's priority ( Proverbs 3:13-18) - Proverbs 3:13-18 repeat more extensively the brief summary of blessings that is given in Proverbs 3:1-2. However, this passage emphasizes the priority of wisdom over earthly wisdom.

3. Wisdom's divine power and divine plan ( Proverbs 3:19-20) - After Proverbs 3:1-18 deals with wisdom"s role in bringing God"s blessings to mankind, Proverbs 3:19-20 reveals that wisdom plays a similar a role in the rest of God"s creation. It is by wisdom that God"s creation, both heaven and earth, will conform to God"s eternal purpose and plan. Since man is the peak of God"s creation, Proverbs 3:1-6 come before Proverbs 3:19-20, but in much more detail.

4. Thru wisdom man decides his destiny ( Proverbs 3:21-26) - If God's divine wisdom determines the destiny of His creation ( Proverbs 3:19-20), then so is our destiny determined by the wisdom that operates in our lives. Thus, in verses Proverbs 20:21-26 we see that through Wisdom of Solomon , every person decides his or her own destiny in life. A person decides the success of his or her relationships, direction, physical health and financial prosperity. Our destiny is not in the hands of fate, our parents, our friends, nor circumstances. Destiny lies in the hands of each individual.

Wisdom offers security. This passage tells us that everyone decides his or her own destiny, in their relationships with others, in the renewing of their minds, in their health, and in their financial prosperity. It also tells us that there is not a circumstance in this life that has the power to remove our peace. This is why Paul refers to God's peace as passing beyond all understanding in the natural ( Philippians 4:7). This is because it is supernatural.

Philippians 4:7, "And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

5. Wisdom's principles of walking in love with our neighbors ( Proverbs 3:27-35) - Finally, Proverbs 3:27-35 reveals to us that it by walking in wisdom with our neighbor that we will inherit the glory that God intended for us, which is our destiny, and we will be delivered from God"s wrath that comes upon the wicked.

As a summary of chapter three, we see that the path of wisdom will lead us to spiritual, mental, physical and material blessings ( Proverbs 3:1-18). If God uses wisdom to determine the destiny of His creation ( Proverbs 3:19-20), so do our choices determine our own destiny ( Proverbs 3:21-26) as we learn to walk in wisdom with our neighbour ( Proverbs 3:27-35).

Therefore, this passage of Scripture gives us the manifold aspects of wisdom. It is like the light that reflects through a beautiful diamond. A diamond has many different sides that reflect different colors of the rainbow. A diamond is able to show us the many different colors of light. Yet, each color reflected from this diamond is a part of the same light beam. In comparison, wisdom has many different colors, or dimensions. Yet, together, this passage shows us a wisdom that is perfect and complete. Complete wisdom is learning to apply all of these verses to our lives, so that the blessings of God will be evident in every area of life. Only then will we be able to fulfill the eternal destiny that God has created us for as a part of His overall plan for His eternal creation.

A careful examination of this passage of Scripture will reveal to us how it is related to the opening passage of this chapter. Proverbs 3:27-28 serves as an illustration of Proverbs 3:9 by telling us how to give to those with genuine needs. This is how we are to honor the Lord with our substance. Proverbs 3:29-30 serves as an illustration of Proverbs 3:7 by telling us not to get into strife with our neighbour. We are to "depart from evil," or "depart from strife." We know that people who are wise in their own eyes tend towards strife. Proverbs 3:31-32 serves as an illustration of Proverbs 3:5 by telling us not to follow the path of the oppressor, but to find the secret counsel of the Lord when making decisions. Proverbs 3:33-34 serves to illustrate Proverbs 3:3 by teaching us to walk with a humble heart and not allow pride to bring us into scorn towards others. For in humility, we are able to show mercy to others and to walk in the truth of God's Word. The final verse of this passage, Proverbs 3:35, tells us that we can choose between two destinies, according to how we sow in the areas of spirit, mind, body and finances.

a) Illustration of Sowing Financially (Your Testimony of Prosperity: Your Neighbour Will See your Blessings and Ask) ( Proverbs 3:27-28) - Your neighbour will see the blessings of God in your life and will desire those same things for himself. You will be able to lend unto many and borrow from none ( Deuteronomy 28:12). You will be able to tell him how he can have the same by serving the Lord. Proverbs 3:27-28 serves as an illustration of Proverbs 3:9 by telling us how to give to those with genuine needs. This is how we are to honor the Lord with our substance.

Deuteronomy 28:12, "The LORD shall open unto thee his good treasure, the heaven to give the rain unto thy land in his season, and to bless all the work of thine hand: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, and thou shalt not borrow."

b) Illustration of Sowing Physically (Your Testimony of Self-control: Do Not Get into Strife with Your Neighbour) ( Proverbs 3:29-30) -- Proverbs 3:29-30 serves as an illustration of Proverbs 3:7 by telling us not to get into strife with our neighbour. We are to "depart from evil," or "depart from strife." We know that people who are wise in their own eyes tend towards strife.

c) Illustration of Sowing Mentally (Your Testimony of Mental Acuteness) ( Proverbs 3:31-32) - Proverbs 3:31-32 serves as an illustration of Proverbs 3:5 by telling us not to follow the path of the oppressor, but to find the secret counsel of the Lord when making decisions.

d) Illustration of Sowing Spiritually (Your Testimony of Humility) ( Proverbs 3:33-34) - Proverbs 3:33-34 serves to illustrate Proverbs 3:3 by teaching us to walk with a humble heart and not allow pride to bring us into scorn towards others. For in humility, we are able to show mercy to others and to walk in the truth of God's Word.

e) Glory or Shame ( Proverbs 3:35) - Proverbs 3:35 summarizes the outcome of two journeys in life. For those who pursue Wisdom of Solomon , they will be promoted to glory and praise from God and men. For those who reject Wisdom of Solomon , they will be brought low with shame.

D. The Three Paths of Wisdom ( Proverbs 4:1-27) - Once we receive the call from wisdom in chapter 1, and are shown how to answer this call in chapter 2, and what blessings come as a result of answering the call of wisdom in chapter Proverbs 3:1-18, and the power of wisdom to establish our destinies ( Proverbs 3:19-35), we then take a journey of two destinies. We will first learn how wisdom transforms our lives and destines us to an abundant life ( Proverbs 4:1-27), and then see how the rejection of wisdom will destine us to destruction ( Proverbs 5:1 to Proverbs 7:27). This section will show us how wisdom is processed in our lives from the perspective of the spirit, the soul and the body of man. Wisdom will transform our hearts ( Proverbs 4:1-9), renew our minds ( Proverbs 4:10-19) and direct our bodies ( Proverbs 4:20-27); or, as is stated in 1 Thessalonians 5:23, wisdom sanctifies our whole spirit, soul, and body.

1 Thessalonians 5:23, "And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."

Our heart must first embrace and exalt Wisdom of Solomon , then our minds can be renewed, and finally our bodies can be directed to follow God's Word by our willingness to serve God rather than follow man. This is the progression of events that wisdom takes in the process of transformation our lives. Thus, wisdom is able to transform us into the image of a perfect Prayer of Manasseh , who was created in the image of God.

In each of these three paths of wisdom for transforming our lives, a common procedure is repeated. Each path begins with a command to receive instruction and not to forget it ( Proverbs 4:1-2; Proverbs 4:10; Proverbs 4:20).

Proverbs 4:1-2, "Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding. For I give you good doctrine, forsake ye not my law."

Proverbs 4:10, "Hear, O my Song of Solomon , and receive my sayings; and the years of thy life shall be many."

Proverbs 4:20, "My Song of Solomon , attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings."

The Word of God must not only be received, it must be able to abide and take root in our lives in order to transform us. The procedures for doing this are found in chapter four and are simple for anyone to follow. Procedures are a way of life. For example, as a manager of Lighthouse Television, I have written an operations manual. This is a set of procedures for each department in the studio. When I hire someone, I teach that person the procedures for their department. God has also given to us procedures to follow in developing our lives spiritually, mentally and physically.

There is an outward manifestation in our lives when each of these processes takes effect. A person with a transformed heart ( Proverbs 4:1-9) will manifest a "crown of glory" ( Proverbs 4:9). In other words, this person will have a peace and anointing about him that others can see. For those who have a renewed mind ( Proverbs 4:10-19), their lives reflect someone who is able to make wise decisions in which they do not stumble ( Proverbs 4:12; Proverbs 4:18). Those who allow the Word of God to direct their bodies ( Proverbs 4:20-27) will be manifest as those who live a long and health life ( Proverbs 4:22). In contrast, people who are not walking with an outward peace and anointing, with the ability to make wise decision, and walking in a life of health reveal that they have not allowed God's Word to enter their hearts and change their lives.

If we could find a parallel passage to Proverbs 4:1-27 in the New Testament it would be 2 Peter 1:2-11 which tells us that through God's Word we become partakers of His divine nature.

2 Peter 1:3-4, "According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust."

Note the following summary:

1. The Path of Wisdom as It Transforms the Heart ( Proverbs 4:1-9) - Proverbs 4:1-9 tells us how wisdom will transform our heart. In addition, Proverbs 4:10-19 tells us how wisdom renews our minds and Proverbs 4:20-27 tells us how wisdom directs our bodies. Thus, wisdom sanctifies our whole bodies to become like Jesus, our Saviour and Lord.

Whatever a man gives his attention to, his heart follows. Proverbs 12:27 tells us that the substance, or wealth, of a diligent man is precious.

Proverbs 12:27, "The slothful man roasteth not that which he took in hunting: but the substance of a diligent man is precious."

Therefore, when we take great pains to search for wisdom ( Proverbs 4:1-6), the treasure that we find becomes precious to us. This means that our heart becomes attached to this treasure.

The path of wisdom that transforms our heart is the path of searching always for the hidden treasures of wisdom that are found in God"s Word. This will transform our hearts to a place of exalting the wisdom that we find hidden in the Scriptures ( Proverbs 4:7-8). These truths will become the most important things in our lives. In this experience, the grace and glory of God will emanate from our lives ( Proverbs 4:9).

A close study of this passage of Scripture will reveal a progression of events in the transformation of our hearts. The words of wisdom are given to us ( Proverbs 4:2) because of His great love for us ( Proverbs 4:3). We are told to humble our hearts in order to receive these teachings ( Proverbs 4:4). Allow these teachings to remain in our hearts ( Proverbs 4:5). Then a love will develop in our hearts for the things of God ( Proverbs 4:6). With this growing love for God"s Word, it will become the most important thing in our lives ( Proverbs 4:7). We will begin to seek God"s Word first in our lives in all matters and situations. As God"s Word becomes our priority, we will exalt it above all other things ( Proverbs 4:8). This practice will change our character until wisdom will grace our outward appearance as a crown of beauty ( Proverbs 4:9).

2. The Path of Wisdom as It Renews the Mind ( Proverbs 4:10-19) - The previous passage of Scripture ( Proverbs 4:1-9) tells us how wisdom will transform our heart, Proverbs 4:10-19 tells us how wisdom renews our minds. We will then see in the next passage ( Proverbs 4:20-27) how wisdom directs our bodies. Thus, wisdom sanctifies our whole bodies to become like Jesus, our Saviour and Lord.

Making daily decisions can be likened to walking down a path. When we have received God"s Word ( Proverbs 4:10) and have been taught in His ways ( Proverbs 4:11), our decisions will keep us from falling ( Proverbs 4:12). We will begin to learn to cling to the right decisions ( Proverbs 4:13) and abhor the wrong decisions ( Proverbs 4:17). This path of wisdom will become clearer each day in our minds as we walk in the light of God"s Word ( Proverbs 4:18-19). We will be able to make better decisions with much more insight as the years go by.

3. The Path of Wisdom as It Directs the Body ( Proverbs 4:20-27) - The previous passages of Scripture in this chapter tells us how wisdom transforms our hearts ( Proverbs 4:1-9) and how wisdom renews our minds ( Proverbs 4:10-19). We then see in this passage ( Proverbs 4:20-27) how the human body is moved and directed by wisdom. Thus, wisdom sanctifies our whole bodies to become like Jesus, our Saviour and Lord.

This passage of Scripture shows a progression in how the human being receives information, processes it and acts on it. For example, when we receive either wisdom or folly into our ears ( Proverbs 4:20 b) and our eyes ( Proverbs 4:21 a), it enters into our heart. Jesus said that it is what enters a man that defiles a Prayer of Manasseh , and not what comes out.

Matthew 15:10-11, "And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand: Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man."

If wisdom is received into the heart of man through the eyes and ears ( Proverbs 4:20-21), it brings health to our bodies ( Proverbs 4:22). For this reason, we are to guard what we see and hear, and thus, guard our heart ( Proverbs 4:23). What is in our heart comes forth out of our mouth ( Proverbs 4:24). Jesus said that out of the abundance of the heart, the man speaks ( Luke 6:45).

Luke 6:45, "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh."

What we say with our mouth determines how we see with our eyes ( Proverbs 4:25). What we fix our eyes upon, our feet with follow ( Proverbs 4:26-27). One preacher said that our thinking affects our believing, and our believing affects our actions. Our actions affects our receiving.

This passage explains to us how the human body is moved and controlled by wisdom. Thus, we now realize how God has given us our five "sense gates," which are seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching, in order to receive information around us and to process it. Within the context of these passages, we receive most of our information that guides our daily decisions through our eyes and ears. How careful we must be in what we allow ourselves to receive into our souls through these two important sense gates of the body.

E. The Three Paths to Destruction ( Proverbs 5:1 to Proverbs 6:11) - Once we receive the call from wisdom in chapter 1, and are shown how to find it in chapter 2, and what blessings come as a result of answering the call of wisdom in chapter 3, and we learn how wisdom transforms our lives in chapter 4, both spirit, soul and body, we are then shown how sin enters our lives and transforms us in chapter Proverbs 5:1 through Proverbs 6:11. Sin will first enter our hearts ( Proverbs 5:1-23), then it will corrupt our minds ( Proverbs 6:1-5) and finally, it will defile our bodies ( Proverbs 6:6-11).

Proverbs 5:1 thru Proverbs 6:11 can be entitled "The Three Paths to Destruction." This passage of Scripture gives us warnings about some of the most common paths of destruction that people fall into. Man"s heart can lead him into bondage through the path of the adulteress ( Proverbs 5:1-23). Man"s lack of understanding can bring him into bondage because of his tongue, which is coming into agreement with the wisdom of this world ( Proverbs 6:1-5). Man"s body can bring him into the bondage of poverty through slothfulness ( Proverbs 6:6-11). We are taken behind the scenes to see the fearful end of those who follow these three deceitful paths.

Just as the three paths of wisdom manifest themselves in the lives of those who follow her path, so does the fool show outward manifestations of the path that he is on.

Heart- If a person with a transformed heart ( Proverbs 4:1-9) will manifest a "crown of glory" ( Proverbs 4:9) with an outward peace and anointing, then the corrupted heart of the person who is on the path of adultery ( Proverbs 5:1-23) is manifested by being in bondage to sins ( Proverbs 5:22).

Mind- For those who have a renewed mind ( Proverbs 4:10-19), their lives reflect someone who is able to make wise decisions in which they do not stumble ( Proverbs 4:12; Proverbs 4:18). But those with a corrupted mind ( Proverbs 6:1-5) will be manifested as a person who cannot make sure decisions, but is constantly agreeing to things to please others ( Proverbs 6:1-2).

Body- Those who allow the Word of God to direct their bodies ( Proverbs 4:20-27) will be manifest as those who live a long and health life ( Proverbs 4:22). In contrast, those who do not yield their bodies to serve the Lord become people who indulge in fleshly passions, which addictions cause a person to become a sluggard ( Proverbs 5:6-11). This is manifested as poverty ( Proverbs 6:11), which will be seen in the life of the sluggard.

As we step back and evaluate the lessons that we have learned thus far, we find a common factor in each of these sections. They all begin with wisdom calling us to take heed to God's Words. Every one of these sections, the three paths of wisdom as well as the three paths of the fool, all begin with this same charge. This is because when we take time each day to mediate and study God's Word, we allow our minds and hearts to become established in the truth so that we will not be deceived by all of the noise from the world.

1. The Heart of Man: The Path of Adultery ( Proverbs 5:1-23) - This passage of Scripture deals with the first of three paths that sin takes in defiling a person. Sin first enters the heart ( Proverbs 5:1-23), then it corrupts the mind ( Proverbs 6:1-5), and finally, it defiles the body ( Proverbs 6:6-11).

We must keep God's Word foremost in our lives ( Proverbs 5:1-2) because the path of the adulteress appears pleasant ( Proverbs 5:3), but its end is bitter ( Proverbs 5:4), her ways lead to death ( Proverbs 5:5), and are unpredictable ( Proverbs 5:6). We must stay far from this path ( Proverbs 5:7-8), lest we be snared and ruined ( Proverbs 5:9-14). You can avoid this path by staying close to your wife ( Proverbs 5:15-20) and this is the remedy that God has given us to avoid the fate of the fool. God knows how easily a man is ensnared in the trap of the adulteress and His judgment will follow ( Proverbs 5:21-23).

a) The Path of Adultery Leads to Poverty and Destruction ( Proverbs 5:1-14) - Proverbs 5:1-14 gives us a warning about giving our years of labour to the adulteress. The adulteress also represents the love of this world. Therefore, when we follow our own selfish path of worldliness, we depart from God"s plan for our lives. In doing this, we will one day sit down in sorrow on Judgment Day and mourn, saying, "How have I hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof." ( Proverbs 5:12); for we will be rewarded on how far we have finished God"s plan for our lives, and not for what we have accomplished for ourselves.

The verses in this passage speak to us in pairs, our couplets, being Proverbs 5:1-14. Proverbs 5:1-2 tell us to seek wisdom so that we will speak from a heart of wisdom. Proverbs 5:3-4 tell us the trap of seduction from a woman"s lips that appear so pleasant and contrasts it with the horrible results of being led into seduction. Proverbs 5:5-6 tell us this seduction will lead down the path of death and not the path of life. Proverbs 5:7-8 tell us to stay near the path of wisdom and far from her path. Proverbs 5:9-10 tell us that our honour, our life, our wealth and our strength will be lost if we follow the path of the strange woman. Proverbs 5:11-14 give the words of a man consumed with grief.

i) Maintain Wisdom as a Priority ( Proverbs 5:1-2) - Proverbs 5:1-2 tells us to seek wisdom so that we will understand what is going on around us and speak from a heart of wisdom.

ii) The Lips of Seduction ( Proverbs 5:3-4) - Proverbs 5:3-5 tells us that the trap of seduction are found in the lips of a strange woman. Something that appears so pleasant desirous ( Proverbs 5:3) is contrasted with the horrible results of being led into seduction ( Proverbs 5:4).

In Solomon's day, there was nothing sweeter than honey or smoother than oil. There was nothing more bitter than wormwood. Yet the lips of a whore are sweeter and smoother than honey and oil. The sweetness of the lips appeals to our sense of taste. The smoothness of oil appeals to our sense of touch. Song of Solomon , the adulteress is appealing to man's five sense gates. She is attempting to get in and capture his heart.

The battleground is the mind. It is through the mind that the heart is captured. The spoils of the victor are the wealth of a person whose heart and mind have led him down a path of bondage to sin; for whoever controls his heart gains his wealth. For a man will give his strength and wealth for what he holds dear. This is a daily battle that we must fight as long as we live in this mortal body of ours. Now the strange woman knows that she has to enter a man's mind and heart through his five sense gates; for she has been learning these rules of warfare from her youth. Thus, she speaks soft words to his ears, she beautifies herself for his eyes, she prepares her lips so that he will desire their taste and touch, and she will apply perfume to appeal to his sense of smell. There is no entrance gate that she will leave unattended. Proverbs 7:26 will tell us that "she hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men have been slain by her."

iii) The Strange Woman Leads a Man to Hell With Her Unpredictable Decisions ( Proverbs 5:5-6) - Proverbs 5:5-6 tell us this seduction will lead down the path of death and not the path of life, and that it is an unpredictable path to follow.

iv) Stay on the Path of Wisdom of Solomon , and Far from the Path of the Strange Woman ( Proverbs 5:7-8) - Proverbs 5:7-8 tell us to stay on the path of wisdom and far from her path. Do not be sidetracked by the lures of our senses. We must follow our hearts where the voice of wisdom is heard.

v) The Man who Follow the Strange Woman will Give Her His Honour, Labour, and Wealth ( Proverbs 5:9-10) - Proverbs 5:9-10 tell us that our honour, our life, our wealth and our strength will be lost if we follow the path of the strange woman and ignore the warnings of wisdom. We are told in other verses in Proverbs that riches, honour, life and health are the blessings of wisdom ( Proverbs 3:16).

Proverbs 3:16, "Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honour."

The path of death will cause us to lose all of these blessings, spiritual, mental, physical and financial. Solomon looked upon Pharaoh's daughter and pondered her beauty, but it was a setup, a trap that Solomon thought he could discern and avoid.

vi) The Words of Grief from the Fool ( Proverbs 5:11-14) - Proverbs 5:11-14 give voice to the words of a man consumed with grief. It is only in the midst of utter despair that a fool will finally admit his errors. In other words, when your body is used up, you grieve and realize how much you have wasted your life and hated the instruction of God. It is only when the fool has no more strength to continue in his foolishness does he stop to consider his condition. Only when judgment becomes unbearable will the fool finally sit down and acknowledge his sin.

God has a way of taking a person through judgment that intensifies until a person repents. At this time, God is more concerned about his eternal soul than his temporal gain. We see a series of increasing judgments in the book of Revelation as God gives the world a final opportunity to repent before the Second Coming of the Lord. However, in chapter 19 of the book of Revelation there are those who do not repent because of the hardness of their hearts.

b) The Remedy: A Happy Marriage ( Proverbs 5:15-19) - This passage is describing the institution of holy matrimony. Marriage is called a well of water, running waters, fountains, rivers of waters, a loving hin and a pleasant roe. Water refreshes the soul, and sex refreshes the flesh; but genuine love in marriage refreshes the spirit, soul and body.

The pleasures of marriage outweigh the pleasures of fornication. The remedy for avoiding the strange woman is to pay attention to Wisdom of Solomon , staying far from the house of the adulteress, and focus on your wife as God"s source of satisfaction.

c) The Punishment for Adultery ( Proverbs 5:20-23) - Proverbs 5:20-23 gives us a preview of the punishment awaiting those who go down the path of adultery.

2. The Mind of Man: The Path of the Loose Tongue ( Proverbs 6:1-5) - Sin first enters the heart ( Proverbs 5:1-23), then it corrupts the mind ( Proverbs 6:1-5), and finally, it defiles the body ( Proverbs 6:6-11).

Proverbs 5:1-23 shows the path of the adulteress as it defiles the heart. This passage ( Proverbs 6:1-5) will show the path of the loose tongue. It is this loose tongue that will bring a man into bondage by making bad decisions. Proverbs 6:6-11 will show the path of the sluggard as it destroys the life of a man.

Once the heart is corrupted, then the mind of man and his tongue become defiled. Note:

Matthew 15:11, "Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man."

Luke 6:45, "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh."

Therefore, Proverbs 6:1-5 deals with the issue of making rash promises in order to please friends, who are really not friends, but rather, strangers. Decisions bring us into relationships with others. This is represented by the handshake in Proverbs 6:1. All decisions affect others. This passage of Scripture teaches us that if you find yourself making promises that you cannot keep, make every effort to deliver yourself from these promises.

One verse that could summarize the theme of this passage found in 2 Corinthians 6:14.

2 Corinthians 6:14, "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?"

We are not to be in covenants and agreements with others when it is unhealthy and not Scripturally founded. We should examine all of our commitments with others, with friends and organizations. We should lay aside those that do not please the Lord. We should find God's plan for our lives and give our energies to those activities that God has ordained that we walk in.

3. The Physical Body of Man: The Path of the Sluggard ( Proverbs 6:6-11) - Sin first enters the heart ( Proverbs 5:1-23), then it corrupts the mind ( Proverbs 6:1-5), and finally, it defiles the body ( Proverbs 6:6-11). This explains why Jesus taught that it was not what went into the mouth that defiled the Prayer of Manasseh , but that which came out of the mouth that defiled him.

Matthew 15:11, "Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man."

Proverbs 5:1-23 shows the path of the adulteress as it defiles the heart. Proverbs 6:1-5 shows the path of the loose tongue as it defiles the mind. Proverbs 6:6-11 will show the path of the sluggard as it destroys the life of a man. Thus, the theme of this passage is that the path of laziness will destroy a man by bringing him to poverty.

F. The Characteristics of the Wicked ( Proverbs 6:12 to Proverbs 7:27) - Proverbs 6:12 to Proverbs 7:27 is a lengthy passage of Scripture deals with the characteristics of evil people, both the wicked man and the adulteress. This passage of Scripture teaches us about the nature of earthly Wisdom of Solomon , which is described as "earthly, sensual and devilish" ( James 3:15).

James 3:15, "This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish."

As we step back and evaluate the lessons that we have learned thus far, we find a common factor in each of these sections. They all begin with wisdom calling us to take heed to God's Words. Every one of these sections, the three paths of wisdom as well as the three paths of the fool, all begin with this came charge. This is because when we take time each day to mediate and study God's Word, we allow our minds and hearts to become established in the truth so that we will not be deceived by all of the noise from the world.

1. The Characteristics of the Wicked Man ( Proverbs 6:12-19) - This passage gives the characteristics of the wicked man.

2. The Characteristics of the Adulteress ( Proverbs 6:20 to Proverbs 7:27) - Note that we have just finished a passage on the characteristics of the wicked man ( Proverbs 6:12-19). Now we have a lengthy passage of Scripture that deals with the characteristics of the adulteress ( Proverbs 6:20 to Proverbs 7:27). We have been given a brief glimpse of her characteristics in Proverbs 2:16-19; Proverbs 5:3-6. Now the Preacher is going to give his students a full revelation through this lengthy discourse on a personality that invades every leader's life.

Once King David taught Solomon about the severe consequences of adultery ( Proverbs 6:20-35), which he himself had experienced, he then takes his son out on the streets to show him how the adulteress works ( Proverbs 7:1-27). We can identify her method of seduction by contrasting it to the holy wedding ceremony of the bride and the groom found in Song of Solomon 3:6 to Song of Solomon 5:1. The adulteress woos her victims by presenting herself in seductive clothing ( Proverbs 7:9-12), while the bridegroom presents himself in all of his wealth and glory ( Song of Solomon 3:6-11). The groom displays his strength and wealth, while the adulteress displays her appearance. While the bridegroom sings a love song to his bride ( Song of Solomon 4:1-15), the adulteress romances her victim with words of seduction ( Proverbs 7:13-20). Finally, the wedding is consummated in the marriage bed ( Song of Solomon 4:16 to Song of Solomon 5:1), while the adulteress lures her victim into the bed of adultery ( Proverbs 7:21-23). The outcome of the marriage bed is rest and fulfillment of God's divine plan for two individuals, while the outcome of adultery is destruction.

a) The Effects of the Word of God upon our Spirit Man ( Proverbs 6:20-23) - Before Solomon takes us out into the street to see the behaviour of the adulteress, he gives us the remedy and means to avoid her seduction. We must first spend time with the Lord and in His Word in order to strengthen us. Proverbs 6:20-23 tells us that if we will place the Word of God into our hearts that it will speak to us.

b) The Cunning Devises of the Adulteress ( Proverbs 6:24 to Proverbs 7:27) - The adulteress is cunning and crafty. She seeks the life of her victim. She has a goal and she knows how to reach her goal, which is to gain a man's wealth even when it costs him his life. She knows that to get a man's wealth, she has to first win his heart. If she can take his heart, she knows that he will give his strength to fulfill the passions of his heart. He will yield his strength to obtain the wealth that is needed to bring him the desires of his heart. Thus, she gets him to use his strength to yield his wealth to her. He will be brought to a piece of bread and even give his life when he is bound in service to the adulteress. She understands this principle because she has tested it from her youth. From the time that men started noticing her she started testing her boundaries and her power of seduction. She knows how to use her secret strength called seduction. With it she can force the strongest of men to yield their wealth to her.

Let us follow this procedure of seduction. Her goal is to win his heart by means of enticement and seduction. She must first gain control over his mind. With control over his mind she can control his will. With control over his will she will capture his heart, which will lead him to use his strength to gain his wealth. She will not turn loose until she has brought him to a piece of bread and taken away his life.

The battle begins with an attempt to enter the man's mind. The entrances into the mind are through the five sense-gates of hearing, seeing, touching, tasting and smelling. This is the way God created man. The adulteress first uses her tongue to get the attention of her victim, and by flattery she enter the sense-gate of hearing ( Proverbs 6:24, Proverbs 7:10). Her words are loud and persistent ( Proverbs 7:11) and she does not give up easily. She can then enter the sense-gate of the eyes by dressing to reveal her fleshly body ( Proverbs 6:25). She knows from experience that few men will turn their eyes away from her fleshly beauty. This is why she must leave her domestic duties and go out into the streets ( Proverbs 7:12). Once she has gained access to his mind through the sense gates of hearing and seeing, she grabs him to arouse the sense-gate of touch ( Proverbs 7:13). With a bold kiss she enters the sense-gate of taste ( Proverbs 7:13). Her perfume arouses the sense-gate of smell with which she has also prepared her bed ( Proverbs 7:17).

With all five-sense gates aroused the simple man has no strength to resist. It takes a man of God to walk away from that situation. It takes a man who has already made the decision to say no. She has now captured his mind and moves into the next phase of seduction, which is reason. She speaks to him and convinces him with lying lips that he has captured her heart ( Proverbs 7:14-15), when the opposite is actually true. With her persistence and her reason she forces him to yield ( Proverbs 7:16-21). He loses his sense of reason and yields himself to her reason, becoming blind to the fact that it will cost him his life ( Proverbs 7:22-23). She has now captured his mind. With time in the bed of adultery she intends on taking her victim into the next phase, which is to capture his heart. Once she has his heart, she will be able to direct his paths and ultimately gain his wealth.

In a similar way, wisdom asks for our hearts also. Because once wisdom has our hearts, she can lead us down the path that brings us blessings in every area of our lives.

i) The Shame of Falling Prey to the Adulteress ( Proverbs 6:24-35) - Proverb 6:24-35 gives a brief description of the allurements of the adulteress and the shame a man incurs when yielding to her enticements.

ii) Exhortation to Put God's Word Before our Eyes ( Proverbs 7:1-5) - As in Proverbs 6:20-23 we are exhorted again in Proverbs 7:1-5 to place God's Word before us in order to give us the wisdom and strength to avoid the temptations of the strange woman. But this time the emphasis is placed upon putting God's Word before our "eyes" ( Proverbs 7:2) and treat it as our "sister" ( Proverbs 7:4) so that our eyes will not fall upon the adulteress. There is no other remedy that works in this area of our lives to protect us from sexual sins outside of placing God's Word before us.

iii) The Setting: Alluring the Five Sense-Gates ( Proverbs 7:6-13) - Proverbs 7:6-13 describes the setting in which the story unfolds. The adulteress sees a young man in the street and immediately sets upon him to capture his five sense-gates.

iv) Capturing the Mind ( Proverbs 7:14-21) - After she gets the man's attention by arousing his five sense-gates ( Proverbs 7:10-13) she then has access to his mind ( Proverbs 7:14-21). She now uses reason in an attempt to gain access to his heart. She stimulates his imagination in order to manipulate his reason. This is because our reason follows our imagination. If she can just get him into her bed and spend time with him, she knows that she can win his heart over to her and bring him into bondage with his passion for her. She gains control over his mind in the street, but she wins his heart in the bed. This is why she had prepared her bed so carefully. For this is where the final and most decisive part of her seduction will take place. Once she captures his heart, she gains access to his strength, which will yield up its wealth to her; for this material gain was her destination.

Just as wisdom teaches us that we must first renew our mind and let God's Word be hidden in our hearts so that we have the wisdom to direct our bodies to walk down the path of life and godliness, so does the adulteress follow the same method of capturing her victim. She first enters his sense gates and captures his mind and imagination on the street. She then captures his heart in the bed. They she is able to direct his body to yield up its strength and wealth to her. For this process of renewing the mind, transforming the heart, and directing the body is how we are created, and it works for the purpose of doing good, or for doing evil.

v) Controlling the Heart ( Proverbs 7:22-23) - Having allured of the young man through his five sense-gates, then capturing his mind, the adulteress takes the final step of controlling the man's heart. He follows her thinking something good is about to take place, when actually, she has deceived him, and intends on taking his wealth and even his very life.

vi) Final Warning ( Proverbs 7:24-27) - In Proverbs 7:24-27 Solomon gives the final warning of the adulteress, stressing the ultimate destruction and damnation of her victims.

G. The Characteristics of Wisdom ( Proverbs 8:1-36) - Proverbs 8:1-36 reveals the characteristics of divine wisdom. We have just had a lengthy passage that identifies the characteristics of earthly wisdom ( Proverbs 6:12 to Proverbs 7:27). This type of wisdom will now be contrasted with divine wisdom. Now, how do we see the characteristics of Wisdom of Solomon , since she has no physical form? The answer will be found in the way divine wisdom is reflected in the lives of men and women of God in society ( Proverbs 8:1-21). Her character can be found in all aspects of society, wherever people converse and interact with one another ( Proverbs 8:1-5). We learn to listen to the words of others, of those who are speaking words of righteousness ( Proverbs 8:6-8). Thus, wisdom's characteristics are reflected in the lives of people. These words are easy to find to those who seek them above the riches of this world ( Proverbs 8:9-11). Wisdom's character has many different virtues that are reflected in the character of men ( Proverbs 8:12-21). Not only can we find the divine characteristics of wisdom by looking at people in society, but creation itself reflects these noble virtues ( Proverbs 8:22-31). Thus, one should heed her call and not reject it ( Proverbs 8:32-36).

In contrast, Proverbs 6:12 thru Proverbs 7:27 has just given to us the characteristics of the foolish so that we can compare them. The call of wisdom can be contrasted to the call of the adulteress. Just as the adulteress called out to those passing by ( Proverbs 7:6-13 a), so does wisdom cry out in Proverbs 8:1-4. Just as the adulteress entices the fool with descriptions of her lustful entertainment ( Proverbs 7:13 b-21), so does wisdom attract us by telling us about her blessings ( Proverbs 8:5-21). While wisdom opens her heart to us and reveals her true character ( Proverbs 8:22-31), the adulteress hides her true intents, for she cares not about the well-being of her victims. The adulteress only wishes to satisfy her own lusts. As wisdom urges us to choose life and warns us about death ( Proverbs 8:32-36), the adulteress gives no warning until the victim loses his life ( Proverbs 7:22-23).

1. Wisdom's Character is Found in the Lives of People in Society ( Proverbs 8:1-21) - In this passage, we again see the call of wisdom as she cries out in the open places for men to follow her. Wisdom's call to passersby can be contrasted to the call of the adulteress in Proverbs 7:6-13 a. However, for those who heed her call will their hearts and ears be opened to see the voice of wisdom in the lives of men and women of God. Wisdom's character has many different virtues that are reflected in the lives of people around us. We can find wisdom in the hearts, minds, strength and wealth of others.

a) Wisdom Calls in the Open Places to Everyone ( Proverbs 8:1-5) - Wisdom's character can be found in all aspects of society ( Proverbs 8:1-5), for she calls in the open places to everyone. According to this passage, wisdom is found where people converse. Note in Proverbs 8:3 that the gates of the city were a place where the elders met to made laws and judge those laws. It was a place where wisdom was heard daily. Since wisdom has no physical aspect, we find her reflected in the lives of the people in our society.

Note how wisdom cries out in Proverbs 8:1-3, as well as in Proverbs 1:20-21. Proverbs 8:2-3 describes the most common places where people gather. Life is a classroom. There is much to learn by observing and interacting with people. It is in this environment that wisdom speaks.

Proverbs 1:20-21, "Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets: She crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she uttereth her words, saying,"

b) The Characteristics of Wisdom (Her Words) ( Proverbs 8:6-8) - You will not find wickedness and perverseness on the lips of the wise. You will only hear them speaking truth and righteousness. We learn to find wisdom by listening to the words of others, of those who are speaking words of righteousness ( Proverbs 8:6-8). Thus, wisdom's characteristics are reflected in the lives of people. The first characteristic that reveals wisdom is in the words that wisdom speaks. This is similar to the first description of the wicked man and the adulteress, whose descriptions also begin with their words ( Proverbs 6:12; Proverbs 7:5).

Proverbs 6:12, "A naughty person, a wicked Prayer of Manasseh , walketh with a froward mouth."

Proverbs 7:5, "That they may keep thee from the strange woman, from the stranger which flattereth with her words."

c) Wisdom Is Found by Those Whose Hearts Seek Her First ( Proverbs 8:9-11) - Wisdom is easy to find to those who have trained their minds to know the characteristics of wisdom ( Proverbs 8:8). If we will receive God's Word with an open heart ( Proverbs 8:9) and make it a priority ( Proverbs 8:10), we will be able to find it.

The characteristics of wisdom are easy to find for those who seek them above the riches of this world. Riches are not wrong to possess. It is just wrong to pursue riches above wisdom. The pursuit of wisdom should be our priority. For when we find Wisdom of Solomon , we will receive the other blessings of riches. In a few verses, we will learn that when we pursue Wisdom of Solomon , it will bring to us substance and treasures ( Proverbs 8:21).

Proverbs 8:21, "That I may cause those that love me to inherit substance; and I will fill their treasures."

d) Wisdom is Found in Those With Mental Acuteness ( Proverbs 8:12-14) - Men of wisdom have the ability to understand matters in society. They are creative and full of inventions. It is to wise men that people society will seek counsel.

e) Wisdom Is Found in Those Who Are Strong Pillars of Society ( Proverbs 8:15-17) - Wisdom can been seen in those who hold strong positions in society, in leaders who rule well.

f) Wisdom is Found in Financial Prosperity ( Proverbs 8:18-21) - We will learn that wise men eventually gain wealth. Wisdom can be found in the lives of wealthy men who have put God first. The best examples of this can be seen in the lives of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Job , David and Solomon.

2. Wisdom's Divine Characteristics are Reflected in Creation ( Proverbs 8:22-31) - Not only can we find wisdom's characteristics reflected in the lives of people, but we can find it in God's Creation. Proverbs 8:22-31 deals with the eternal nature of wisdom. We are told of its eternal power ( Proverbs 8:22-26) as well as its divine characteristic as godhead ( Proverbs 8:27-31). These two aspects of God's divine character are also mentioned in Romans 1:19-20.

Romans 1:19-20, "Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:"

First, the testimony of creation reveals that God is all-powerful and eternal because wisdom existed before the creation of the heavens and the earth. Secondly, the testimony of creation reveals that there is a God who is overseeing His creation as the Godhead. The amazing intricacies of nature tell us that creation has a purpose and a divine Creator who is intervening in His creation to insure that it fulfills its purpose.

In the story of creation ( Genesis 1:1 to Genesis 2:3), we have the testimony of the Father's role as the One who has planned all things. We have the testimony of the Son's role in John 1:1-14 as the Word of God. In this passage in Proverbs 8:22-31, we have the testimony of the Holy Spirit in creation as the Wisdom and Power of God. Thus, Moses, the author of Genesis , received the greatest revelation of the Father regarding His role in creation, while John the apostle, the author of the Gospel of John , received the greatest revelation of Jesus regarding His role in creation. Song of Solomon , the author of Proverbs , received the greatest revelation of the Holy Spirit regarding His role in creation. Note that the book of Genesis is the foundational book of the Old Testament while the book of John is the foundational book of the New Testament.

The verses in Proverbs 8:22-26 refer to a time before the heavens and the earth were created, back to the beginning of God's "way." In Proverbs 8:27-28 we see a reference to the first two days of creation as the passage contrasts the height and depth of God's creation as He establishes the heavens and the earth. Then in Proverbs 8:29, wisdom refers to the third day of creation in which the land was divided from the sea. In Proverbs 8:30-31, we see a reference to the fourth, fifth and sixth days of creation in which God made all the living creatures.

i) The Testimony of Wisdom's Eternal Power ( Proverbs 8:22-26) - We find from Proverbs 8:22-26 that wisdom is eternal, existing before the worlds were made. We are told that there was a time when the heavens and earth did not exist, an era before they were created. Therefore, according to the book of Proverbs , wisdom existed with God before He began to create anything. When God created, He did so with wisdom by His side ( Proverbs 8:30).

The YLT translates this passage in Proverbs to state that there were former states of the earth, "Jehovah possessed me--the beginning of His way, Before His works since then. From the age I was anointed, from the first, From former states of the earth." ( Proverbs 8:22-23)

The NIV reads, "The Lord possessed me at the beginning of his work, before his deeds of old; I was appointed from eternity, from the beginning, before the world began." ( Proverbs 8:22-23)

ii) The Testimony of Wisdom's Divine Nature as Godhead ( Proverbs 8:27-31) - It was by wisdom that God created the heavens and the earth. The fact that wisdom was with God in the process of creation supports the fact that God is still overseeing His creation. Thus, wisdom is a part of the Godhead.

In Proverbs 8:27-28 we see a reference to the first two days of creation as the passage contrasts the height and depth of God's creation as He establishes the heavens and the earth. Then in Proverbs 8:29, wisdom refers to the third day of creation in which the land was divided from the sea. In Proverbs 8:30-31, we see a reference to the fourth, fifth and sixth days of creation in which God made all the living creatures.

3. Choose Life or Death ( Proverbs 8:32-36) - Wisdom has reveals herself in society in the hearts and lives of people ( Proverbs 8:1-21) and she has revealed her eternal power and Godhead in the story of creation ( Proverbs 8:22-31). "Now therefore," one should heed here call and not reject it ( Proverbs 8:32-36). Based upon these truths set forth by Wisdom of Solomon , everyone has a choice of receiving wisdom and her blessings ( Proverbs 8:32-35) or refusing and being cursed ( Proverbs 8:32).

This passage deals with the blessings of wisdom as well as the consequences of rejecting it. Wisdom gives us a choice because God created man with a free will. In contrast, the adulteress presses her victims in order to avoid giving them a choice. This passage tells us that when man hears the voice of Wisdom of Solomon , he must make a choice whether to accept it or to reject it. He cannot remain neutral. In a similar way, just before the children of Israel entered into the Promised Land, Moses set before them the choice of life or death ( Deuteronomy 30:15).

Deuteronomy 30:15, "See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil;"

H. Wisdom"s Final Call (Food for the Journey) ( Proverbs 9:1-18) - Proverbs 9:1-18 gives us our final call for the journey by inviting us to dine at the table that wisdom has prepared for us. In this banquet we receive our calling, which is to eat the bread and the wine ( Proverbs 9:5). We know that this bread and wine ultimately represent the broken body and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ when He gave His life on Calvary, which gives us access to walk in fellowship with the Father. Thus, in Proverbs 9:5 we receive our divine calling, which is to walk in fellowship with the Father, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit for the Church, and under the Old Covenant, it is through the words of divine wisdom.

Therefore, in this final chapter of preparation, we will revisit the two types of wisdom that man can find in this life: the wisdom of God ( Proverbs 9:1-12) and the wisdom of this world ( Proverbs 9:13-18). These two types of wisdom are personified in this chapter as two women.

The journey is long, so wisdom now prepares food for this journey. This chapter gives the simple one an invitation to dine from the table of blessing prepared by wisdom ( Proverbs 9:2), or to accept the invitation of the wisdom of this world, personified as the foolish woman ( Proverbs 9:17). We can choose the table of blessings ( Proverbs 9:1-5) or the trap of death ( Proverbs 9:18).

This is the same call that Moses gave to the children of Israel as they were preparing for their journey into the Promised Land. They could choose life or death, blessing or cursing ( Deuteronomy 30:19).

Deuteronomy 30:19, "I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:"

Moses made this declaration because the children of Israel were about to embark upon a journey that they had never been on before ( Joshua 3:4).

Joshua 3:4, "Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure: come not near unto it, that ye may know the way by which ye must go: for ye have not passed this way heretofore."

God wanted them to know that they could find the path of blessings if they would pursue His holy commandments, which represents the voice of wisdom.

1. Wisdom"s Invitation to Dine ( Proverbs 9:1-6) - The invitation to dine is given in Proverbs 9:1-6. This invitation to the simple man and to the wise man given in Proverbs 9:1-6 stands in direct contrast to the invitation being given by the harlot in Proverbs 7:6-23; Proverbs 9:13-18.

Why is such a feast given at this part of the preparation. It is because the journey is about to begin in the next chapter. The meat is given to us so that we may find strength for the journey. This meat and drink is to abide in His Word so that we will have food for the entire journey. Note that this is figurative of partaking of the Lord Jesus Christ as seen in John 6:35, "And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst."

2. Fools Reject this Food ( Proverbs 9:7-8) - Proverbs 9:7-9 tells us that wisdom is not for fools, for they will reject it when it is placed before them ( Proverbs 9:7-8). This is food only for the wise man ( Proverbs 9:9-12).

3. Those who Fear God Receive this Food ( Proverbs 9:9-12) - Wisdom is for those who fear God and not for the fool. This platter will serve instruction, teaching, learning and the fear of the Lord. Its dessert will be a sound mind, a long life and prosperity.

4. Invitation From the Foolish Woman to Dine ( Proverbs 9:13-18) - Proverbs 9:13-17 gives us the final call of the foolish woman to come and dine. This passage also gives wisdom"s final warning before the journey begins ( Proverbs 9:18).

Why would the lengthy introduction of Proverbs 1-9 spend so much time describing and warning the readers about the harlot, both here and in Proverbs 6:20 to Proverbs 7:27? Perhaps because this is the one area that trapped and deceived Song of Solomon , the wisest man that ever lived. It is one of the areas that most often trap young men.

Conclusion to Proverbs 1:1 to Proverbs 9:18 - Why is this section the longest one in the book of Proverbs? Perhaps the reason lies in the fact that man's daily walk in wisdom requires him to constantly recognize and hear wisdom's call in order to make the right decisions each day. In a similar way, the longest section in the book of Ecclesiastes is the section on indoctrination, which lists practical wisdom to fear God ( Proverbs 7:1 to Proverbs 11:8), since the underlying theme of the book is the keeping of God's commandments in the fear of the Lord. Thus, the Preacher takes the time to list these commandments.

III. Justification: The Journey to a Place of Rest ( Proverbs 10:1 to Proverbs 29:27) - In Proverbs 10-29 we find a new emphasis regarding our spiritual journey in life. We have heard the call of wisdom in the first nine chapters. Now we have to make the choice to follow the path of Wisdom of Solomon , or the path of the fool. It is our decision to pursue wisdom that will justify us before God. Thus, the underlying theme of Proverbs 10-29 is our justification before God the Father, while the final chapter brings us to a place of rest, which is the destination for man's spiritual journey in life.

Throughout Proverbs 10-29 we encounter hundreds of individual proverbs that appear to have no organized arrangement in which they are presented us. This is because in the journey of life, our encounters with the wise man and the fool appear to come in the same random order. However, God has placed all things in His divine order. When we read individual Proverbs , they appear to be randomly assembled, but if we will step back and look at them as a whole or in groups, we can see an order. These proverbs are clearly grouped together by themes, such as a pure heart, the tongue, a long life, and wealth. In the same way, the circumstances that we face in our daily lives appear to have no particular order. We see very little of God's hand in our lives in a single day, but when we step back and look as our lives over the months or years, we very clearly see God's sovereign hand at working in our lives. We recognize that He is divinely orchestrating His purpose and plan for our lives. This is the way that the verses in the book of Proverbs are arranged.

We have seen that Proverbs 1-9, about one third of the book, is man's call to follow the path of wisdom. Thus, about one third of the book of Proverbs is an introduction, or a preparation, for the rest of this book. Why is that so? We know that Solomon was chosen to be the successor to the throne at his birth. Therefore, he received many years of training under King David for this great task. Even today, we spent the first twenty years of our lives going to school and training for a profession, which is about one third of our lives. We spend the next two thirds of our lives building upon these twenty years of preparation. In our lives, we spend the first twenty years in preparation, the next twenty years sowing, and the last twenty years reaping what we have sown. This is why these years seem to be turning points in many people"s lives. This was the pattern in King Solomon"s life of preparation and growing in Wisdom of Solomon , and this is the pattern found in the book of Proverbs. It is important to note that a season of preparation is something that God has designed and instituted in the human life. He created every human being with the capacity to be shaped and molded through a training process. We often use the term "brainwashing" in a negative sense to refer to a person who has been programmed to think in a negative way; but proper training also reprograms the mind and prepares an individual for the tasks of life. Our human make-up of the spirit, soul, and body were designed to receive training before practical application and abundant living can be achieved.

Although we will study these Proverbs , we will find ourselves falling short of fulfilling them in our everyday lives. None of us has walked flawlessly in obedience to any single proverb. Therefore, each individual proverb reveals God's standard of righteousness, pointing us to Jesus, who alone fulfilled this divine standard in our behalf. In this sense, this collection of proverbs is a collection of redemptive Proverbs , revealing our need for a Redeemer, who alone fulfilled every proverb.

A. Justification: Solomon's First Collection (375 Sayings) 41] ( Proverbs 10:1 to Proverbs 22:16) - The first nine chapters of the book of Proverbs serve as an introductory call from wisdom. In this introduction, we are exhorted to hear wisdom"s cry (chapter 1), and we are told how to find wisdom by putting it first in our lives (chapter 2). We are told of the blessings of finding wisdom (chapter 3) in contrast to the dangers of hearkening unto the call of the wicked and the harlot. We are shown how wisdom transforms our lives by learning the three paths of wisdom for the heart, mind and body of man (chapter 4). This is contrasted with three paths of destruction (chapters 5-6). We are shown the characteristics of the wicked man and the adulterous woman (chapters 6-7). Then, we are shown the excellence of wisdom and its characteristics (chapter 8). In conclusion, we have an invitation from wisdom to take food for the journey, with a choice to eat the stolen bread of the adulteress (chapter 9). The better we are able to understand the introduction of Proverbs , the better we will be able to understand its teachings in the rest of the book.

41] Sailhamer says that there are 375 proverbs in Solomon's First Collection ( to 22:16), which equals the numerical value of Solomon's Hebrew name. In addition, he says there are 611laws listed in the Pentateuch, which equals the numerical value of the Hebrew word "Torah" ( תורה). He adds that the laws listed in the "Covenant Codes" ( Exodus 21:1-23:12) are 42 (7 x 6), which was in intentional multiple of seven. His point is that such numerical coincidences reflect deliberate composition by the ancient Jewish scribes, and concludes that the laws, as well as the statutes, were not intended to be exhaustive. See John H. Sailhamer, Introduction to Old Testament Theology (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, c 1995), 257.

Once we have chosen the path of Wisdom of Solomon , we are ready to continue on in the book of Proverbs. The next section of this book Isaiah 10:1 thru Proverbs 22:16. This is referred to as Solomon"s First Collection. This section is characterized by the fact that each verse contains individual truths that stand alone. They are practical truths that form a couplet. In chapter 10, we are given the choice to answer wisdom's call to follow her by either obeying her words, or by disobeying her words and becoming the fool.

We now leave our preparation, which is compared to leaving our home and our parents. We now take a path on the journey of life. However, a quick observation of the following chapters shows us a list of randomly collected Proverbs , which have no apparent relationship to one another, unlike the first nine chapters. However, if we look carefully, we will see signposts along this path of life. The introduction of chapters 1-9 began and ended with signposts. These signposts are found in Proverbs 1:7; Proverbs 9:10.

Proverbs 1:7, "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction."

Proverbs 9:10, "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding."

The fear of the Lord will be our signpost throughout the book of Proverbs. The first nine chapters are an introduction, or beginning, to this path of life. This is why these first two signposts use the phrase, "beginning of knowledge and wisdom."

If there is a beginning, then there is a journey; and if a journey, then a destination. These signposts will take us to our destination, which is to become like our Lord and Saviour, Christ Jesus, or we could say to walk in the fullness of Christ. We will liken this journey to John Bunyan"s book Pilgrim"s Progress, where the character named Christian made his way to the Eternal City. 42] Just as Pilgrim's Progress is an allegorical story of a person's journey to Heaven, so is the book of Proverbs a proverbial journey to Heaven.

42] George Offor, ed, The Works of John Bunyan, 3vols. (Edinburgh: Blackie and Song of Solomon , 1855).

Now, let us look for other signposts as we launch out on this journey in life. Note that the phrase "the fear of the Lord" is used throughout the book of Proverbs:

Proverbs 10:27, "The fear of the LORD prolongeth days: but the years of the wicked shall be shortened."

Proverbs 13:13, "Whoso despiseth the word shall be destroyed: but he that feareth the commandment shall be rewarded."

Proverbs 14:2, "He that walketh in his uprightness feareth the LORD: but he that is perverse in his ways despiseth him."

Proverbs 14:16, "A wise man feareth, and departeth from evil: but the fool rageth, and is confident."

Proverbs 14:26, "In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge."

Proverbs 14:27, "The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death."

Proverbs 15:16, "Better is little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble therewith."

Proverbs 15:33, "The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility."

Proverbs 16:6, "By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil."

Proverbs 19:23, "The fear of the LORD tendeth to life: and he that hath it shall abide satisfied; he shall not be visited with evil."

Proverbs 22:4, "By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, and honour, and life."

Proverbs 23:17, "Let not thine heart envy sinners: but be thou in the fear of the LORD all the day long."

Proverbs 24:21, "My Song of Solomon , fear thou the LORD and the king: and meddle not with them that are given to change:"

Proverbs 28:14, "Happy is the man that feareth alway: but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief."

Proverbs 31:30, "Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised."

Each of these signposts has been planted within a group of proverbs that emphasizes the subject related to that particular signpost. For example, Proverbs 10:27 tells us that the fear of the Lord gives us a long life. This proverb has been placed within a group of verses that largely deal with a long life ( Proverbs 10:24 to Proverbs 11:22). Thus, we can ask ourselves if we are walking in these blessings of long life, or in a life of problems. If our life is blessed in this way, we are on the journey. However, if we find problems in our life that are not in God's plan for us, then we have strayed off the path.

Proverbs 13:13 tells us of the rewards of fearing the Lord. This proverb is placed within a group of verses that refer to prosperity. Thus, we must check our life to see if the blessing of prosperity is operating in our life.

Proverbs 22:4 reminds us of the many blessings of Wisdom of Solomon , which are given in chapter 3. Thus, we can know while we are on the journey if we are still on the path of wisdom. We know this because the blessings of wisdom will be seen in our lives. If we find the curses in our lives, then we know that we have erred from the path of wisdom. This is how these signposts keep us on the right path.

These signposts symbolize the way in which the Lord guides our lives; for it is by the fear of the Lord that we make the decision to follow the path of wisdom. Without this fear, we may know the right decision, but as Song of Solomon , we would err from the journey by failing to adhere to wisdom.

On a daily basis God will give us enough light for our daily needs. This can be called our "daily bread" ( Matthew 6:11).

Matthew 6:11, "Give us this day our daily bread."

This daily bread gives us enough light to guide our short steps. But there are certain times when the Lord will intervene in our life and show us enough light to see farther down the path. When we face major decisions or changes in our life, God will often speak to us or reveal Himself to us in a supernatural way and show us the right path. During these times, we are able to look back and look ahead and see a bigger picture of God's plan for our lives. This is the way that God guided Jacob on special occasions, and this is the way that I have experienced the Lord's guidance during major changes in my life. We can see this two-fold method of guidance in Psalm 119:105, "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." The book of Proverbs symbolizes these occasions by planting signposts along the journey.

There are also warning signs along this journey. These warning signs symbolize those times when God gives us correction and discipline in order to keep us from straying from the path of life. As on a public highway, we must learn to heed the warning signs that tell us of dangers ahead, as well as the information signs that tell us where we are located. These signposts are warnings that tell us not to seek the richest, not to pursue the honor, or to pamper the flesh. Instead, we are to pursue the virtues, and not the blessings that come from these virtues. Some examples of these warnings are:

Proverbs 11:28, "He that trusteth in his riches shall fall: but the righteous shall flourish as a branch."

Proverbs 13:11, "Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished: but he that gathereth by labour shall increase."

Proverbs 18:12, "Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honour is humility."

Proverbs 23:5, "Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven."

Proverbs 29:23, "A man"s pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit."

Wisdom cries out in the busiest places in society. She cries out in the crowded streets. She lifts up her voice in the major places where people meet and in the gates of the city. This is because wisdom speaks through other people. It speaks through situations around you. Life itself becomes a classroom, and wisdom in the teacher. Thus, in the book of Proverbs , we are shown different types of people in order to learn divine wisdom. Listen, and you will hear.

Regarding the hundreds of individual proverbs that we encounter on this path, there appears to be no organized manner in which they are presented us. This is because in the journey of life, our encounters with the wise man and the fool appear to come in the same random order.

When we look at Proverbs 10:1 thru Proverbs 15:33, we see a similarity in all of these proverbs. They all give us a one-verse contrast between the wise man and the fool. This means that in every decision we make in life, we either make a wise decision, or a foolish one. There is no way to straddle the fence in making decisions. Then we see a signpost in Proverbs 15:33.

Proverbs 15:33, "The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility."

This verse says that the fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom. In Proverbs 1:7; Proverbs 9:10, we are told that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. This is because the first nine chapters are a preparation, or beginning, of the journey. But here in Proverbs 15:33, we are in a phase of the journey called "the instruction of wisdom". We have been learning to identify the wise man and the fool under the instruction of these one-verse contrasts between these two people. Let me give a clear illustration. When my oldest daughter would sit on my lap, we would sometimes to Bible studies together. At the age of four, she began to ask me simple questions. "Daddy, is this person bad or good." I would reply, "David was good, and Goliath was bad. The prophet Samuel was good, but King Saul was bad." I would then explain, "Samuel was good because he obeyed God. Saul was bad because he tried to kill David." This became my child's first lesson about the wise man verses the fool. It is in this same pattern that God first teaches us how to identify the wise man and the fool as we journey through Proverbs 10:1 to Proverbs 15:33.

There are other signposts within this lengthy passage of Proverbs 10:1 thru Proverbs 15:33. One signpost is found in Proverbs 10:27.

Proverbs 10:27, "The fear of the LORD prolongeth days: but the years of the wicked shall be shortened."

This signpost is planted within a passage of Scriptures that deals with the longevity of the righteous verses the brevity of the wicked ( Proverbs 10:24 thru Proverbs 11:22). Thus, this verse promises long life to those who fear the Lord.

A second signpost within Proverbs 10:1 thru Proverbs 15:33 is found in Proverbs 13:13.

Proverbs 13:13, "Whoso despiseth the word shall be destroyed: but he that feareth the commandment shall be rewarded."

This signpost is placed within a group of verses ( Proverbs 13:1-25) that deal largely with the issue of financial blessings from the Lord. Thus, it promises a reward to those who fear the Lord.

In Proverbs 14:26-27, we see a signpost that refers to an abundant life. These two verses are placed within a group of proverbs that deal with one's understanding of circumstances around him.

JFB notes that the parallelisms of Proverbs 10:1 to Proverbs 15:33 are mostly antithetic, that Isaiah , sayings that contrast values in life. They contrast the wise man to the fool. However, the couplets in Proverbs 16:1 to Proverbs 22:16 are synthetic. That Isaiah , these synthetic sayings in Proverbs 16:1 to Proverbs 22:16 are different in that they are one-verse proverbs that explain one another. The second part of the couplet further explains and builds its thoughts upon the first part of the couplet.

1. Justification: Solomon's First Collection of Proverbs (Antithetic Proverbs - Wisdom verses Foolishness) ( Proverbs 10:1 to Proverbs 15:33) - The proverbs contained in chapters 10 through 15 are located within Solomon's First Collection of Proverbs. Almost all of these proverbs are similar in that they contrast the wise man with the fool, or good versus evil. 43] This means that in every decision we make in life, we either make a wise decision or a foolish one, a good one or a bad one. It will either bring us into a position of right standing with God, or separate us from God. There is no way to straddle the fence in making decisions. Thus, the primary theme of this passage in Proverbs 10:1 to Proverbs 15:33 is our justification before God. On our spiritual journey in life, we can most closely compare it to our justification through Jesus Christ our Lord. In other words, this group of proverbs provides a definition of true righteousness before God in the same way that the Sermon on the Mount expounds upon righteousness before God.

43] Graeme Goldsworthy also suggests that the contrast of righteousness with wickedness is being emphasized in this section when he says, " Proverbs 10 is a collection of sayings that mainly contrast wise and foolish behavior or, alternatively, righteous and wicked behavior. It would appear that these two pairs of opposites are synonymous. There is a cumulative effect to this chapter that works on the assumption of the character of God as the basis of assessing what is wise and righteous." See Graeme Goldsworthy, Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture (Michigan: Eerdmans, 2000), 189.

Also woven within Proverbs 10:1 through Proverbs 15:33 we can see smaller groups of proverbs that have been collected together with similar themes. It is important to note that not all of the proverbs within a collection listed above are about the same theme. This is because each day that the Lord guides us, he gives us a variety of wisdom on our place. We do not receive a one-course meal, although we are going through a season of learning a lesson on a particular subject.

Within this passage we see four major topics, which are long life ( Proverbs 10:27), riches ( Proverbs 13:13), abundant life ( Proverbs 14:26-27) and honor ( Proverbs 15:33). Thus, we see a reference to the heart, soul, body and finances of man. These topics will later be summarized in Proverbs 22:4, as this learning phase of the journey comes to an end. Thus, the secondary theme of this passage of Proverbs 10:1 to Proverbs 15:33 is how wisdom and foolishness is reflected in the four-fold aspect of a man's life.

Proverbs 22:4, "By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, and honour, and life."

Also woven within Proverbs 10:2 through Proverbs 15:33 we can see smaller groups of proverbs that have been collected together with similar themes. These proverbs are groups by the same four-fold themes running throughout the book of Proverbs , which are the themes of the heart, of the tongue, of the labour of the body and of wealth. For example,

Proverbs 10:1-9 - Let your heart guide you

Proverbs 10:10-32 - The Tongue

Proverbs 10:27 to Proverbs 11:22 - Long life

Proverbs 11:24-31 - Wealth gained by sowing and reaping

Proverbs 12:1-12 - The Righteous heart

Proverbs 12:13 to Proverbs 13:5 - The Righteous tongue

Proverbs 12:24 to Proverbs 13:4 - Diligence

Proverbs 13:1-25 - Wealth gained by a righteous heart, guarding the tongue and diligence in work

Proverbs 14:1-35 - The Mind- Understanding must guide our decisions

Proverbs 15:1-33 - A Merry Heart

It is important to note that not all of the proverbs within a collection are about the same theme. For example, we will find a proverb about our mental, physical or financial wellbeing mingled within a group of verses that deals with our spiritual wellbeing. This is because each day that the Lord guides us, he gives us a variety of wisdom on our place. We do not receive a one-course meal, although we are going through a season of learning a lesson on a particular subject. Thus, wisdom offers us wine that is "mingled" as described in Proverbs 9:2.

Notes that these sections breaks are not distinct in that they overlap one another. This overlap represents the aspect of man's spiritual journey in which God takes man through phases of learning that overlap.

a) Let Your Heart Guide You ( Proverbs 10:1-9) - Proverbs 10:1-9 emphasizes the heart of man. It is a short lesson on how we are to let our hearts to become our guide. Along the path of wisdom are many dangers. The experiences that we encounter along this path and the lessons that we learn in our life do not come in a logical manner. Thus, these proverbs follow the same pattern of how we encounter various experiences in our lives.

Many commentators say that the individual proverbs in this book of the Holy Bible lack order; but, God is a God of order ( 1 Corinthians 14:40), as we are about to see.

1 Corinthians 14:40, "Let all things be done decently and in order."

Even the book of Proverbs has an order. This order is patterned like our lives. When we go through our day, it may appear to be a series of random events with no particular order; but the Scriptures tell us that a righteous man's steps are ordered by the Lord. Our day is ordered by the Lord ( Psalm 37:23) and we are to find His purpose in each day by seeking His face. The proverbs are organized in just such a way as we live our lives.

Psalm 37:23, "The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way."

The Lord will bring certain events into our lives to test us in order to train us and prepare us for future events that are on this journey.

When a young man first leaves home, his thoughts are on pleasing his parents ( Proverbs 10:1). Proverbs 10:2-3 deal with material possessions. A young man"s initial instinct as he journeys from home is to provide for himself. He is determined to survive, and to no longer depend upon his parents for support. Therefore, he quickly sees the wealth of the sinner as he struggles to make it on his own ( Proverbs 10:2); but, he must remember that God will provide for His children ( Proverbs 10:3).

Proverbs 10:4-5 deal with the physical body. The young man is taught that material provisions come through hard work and not through laziness ( Proverbs 10:4), but wise planning must be used as the earnings of his labour produce wealth ( Proverbs 10:5).

Proverbs 10:6-6 deal with the character of a person. We see the blessings and honour that come from a noble character, and the curses of the wicked. The young man sees that there is a greater value beyond material prosperity, and that is a good name. This good name comes only to those of a noble character. This section is about the soul, the mind, the will and the emotions of a Prayer of Manasseh , which produce this noble character.

Proverbs 10:8-9 deal with the heart of man. A noble character is developed in a person who has a heart that receives commandments ( Proverbs 10:8). There is much security in walking upright before God and man ( Proverbs 10:9).

Therefore, we see in Proverbs 10:2-6 that the order of discussion is on finances ( Proverbs 10:2-3), the body ( Proverbs 10:4-5), the soul ( Proverbs 10:6-7) and the spirit of man ( Proverbs 10:8-9). In contrast, Proverbs 3:3-12 has listed these same four topics in reverse order, first the heart, then the soul, the body and finances. We see this order also followed in 1 Thessalonians 5:23.

1 Thessalonians 5:23, "And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."

Why is this order reversed in the passage of Proverbs 10:2-9? Perhaps because this is the order in which the young man perceives them in his initial quest for a meaning in life.

i) Introduction ( Proverbs 10:1) - Proverbs 10:1 serves as an introduction to Solomon's first collection of proverbs ( Proverbs 10:1 to Proverbs 22:16). Figuratively, this verse symbolizes the sending out of the young man into his spiritual journey in life, having answered the call to pursue divine wisdom.

ii) Finances ( Proverbs 10:2-3) - Proverbs 10:2-3 deal with material possessions. A young man"s initial instinct as he journeys from home is to provide for himself. He is determined to survive, and to no longer depend upon his parents for support. Therefore, he quickly sees the wealth of the sinner as he struggles to make it on his own ( Proverbs 10:2). However,, he must remember that God will provide for His children ( Proverbs 10:3).

iii) The Physical Body ( Proverbs 10:4-5) - Proverbs 10:4-5 deal with the physical body. The young man is taught that material provisions come through hard work and not through laziness ( Proverbs 10:4). Wise planning must be used as the earnings of his labour produce wealth ( Proverbs 10:5).

iv) The Mind of Man ( Proverbs 10:6-7) - Proverbs 10:6-6 deal with character of a person. It is through the soul, which is made up of the mind, the will and the emotions, that the character of a man is expressed. We see the blessings and honour that come from a noble character, and the curses of the wicked ( Proverbs 10:6). The young man sees that there is a greater meaning to life beyond material prosperity, and that is a good name. The name of a person represents his character. This good name comes only to those of a noble character.

v) The Heart of Man ( Proverbs 10:8-9) - Proverbs 10:8-9 deal with the heart of man. A noble character is developed in a person who has a heart that receives commandments ( Proverbs 10:8). There is much security in walking upright before God and man ( Proverbs 10:9).

b) The Tongue Emphasized ( Proverbs 10:10-32) - This section emphasizes the tongue, which represents the decisions we make and the thoughts of our minds.

i) Emphasis upon a Man's Long Life ( Proverbs 10:24-30) - Most of the verses in this passage clearly deal with the longevity of the righteous and the brevity of the wicked man"s life. The key verse in this passage is Proverbs 10:27, "The fear of the LORD prolongeth days: but the years of the wicked shall be shortened."

c) The Physical Body of Man: Long life ( Proverbs 10:27 to Proverbs 11:22) - This section emphasizes man's physical body, as Proverbs 10:1-9 has emphasized the heart of man and Proverbs 10:10-32 has emphasized the tongue, or mind, of man. Although there is still some verses that focus upon the tongue until Proverbs 10:32, we do find a transition in an emphasis about a long life.

d) Wealth Gained by Sowing and Reaping ( Proverbs 11:24-31) - This section in Proverbs 11:24-31 places emphasis upon man's financial realm, as the previous sections have placed emphasis upon the heart ( Proverbs 10:1-9), the mind ( Proverbs 10:10-32) and the body ( Proverbs 10:27 to Proverbs 11:22).

This passage in Proverbs 11:24-31 deals largely with the rewards of those who give liberally. It teaches us about sowing and reaping. These verses tell us that those who give will be blessed with an increase of the same ( Proverbs 11:24), with fatness (or more than enough) ( Proverbs 11:25), with blessings from others ( Proverbs 11:26), with favour ( Proverbs 11:27), and with God's divine recompense ( Proverbs 11:31). In other words, we will be blessed in every area of our lives: spiritually, mentally, physically and materially. We will receive blessings from other people as well as from God above. The theme of this passage can be seen in Luke 6:38.

Luke 6:38, "Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again."

Proverbs 11:24 compares a generous heart with a covetous heart. In Proverbs 11:25, we see the liberal heart of a giver, while Proverbs 11:26 shows us the heart of a covetous person. Proverbs 11:24 emphasizes the quantity of giving, while Proverbs 11:25 emphasizes the quality of the giving, by revealing the heart of a giver. A true giver does it with a liberal heart. These same two aspects of giving are also seen in 2 Corinthians 9:6-7, where Proverbs 11:6 tells us that God rewards us according to the quantity that we give, while Proverbs 11:7 tells us that God looks on the quality of our heart when we give.

2 Corinthians 9:6-7, "But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver."

Proverbs 11:24 also mentions the covetous person who will not give in times of need. Proverbs 11:26 reveals the true heart of covetousness in someone who will not give. One man seeks the good of others as well as himself, while the other seeks mischief and both receive God's divine payment for their behaviour ( Proverbs 11:27). The problem is further revealed in Proverbs 11:28, where one man trusts in his riches, while the other place their trust in the Lord.

e) The Heart of Man: The Righteous Heart ( Proverbs 12:1-12) - Proverbs 12:1-12 places emphasis upon the heart of man.

(1) The Rewards of a Righteous Heart in Contrast With a Wicked Heart ( Proverbs 12:1-3) - One of the consequences of rejecting God's instructions ( Proverbs 12:1) is that God will send them a strong delusion in its place, so that they will choose such a lie above the truth of the Word of God.

2 Thessalonians 2:10-12, "And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness."

As a result, the wicked heap to themselves divine condemnation, while the righteous shine brighter and brighter as a child of God ( Proverbs 12:2). As they continue in these lies and delusions, God will turn them over to a reprobate mind ( Romans 1:16-32). This position will bring the wicked to a quick end while the righteous become established in the things of God ( Proverbs 12:3).

(2) The Progress in One's Pursuit of Good and Evil ( Proverbs 12:5-7) - Proverbs 12:5-7 has a progression of thought, revealing the degree of progress in one's pursuit of good and evil. A righteous man's thoughts are to do good to others ( Proverbs 12:5) and this is put into action by his willingness to deliver others from their sins and bondages ( Proverbs 12:6). The outcome is that this man shall be established in the land ( Proverbs 12:7). When his heart is right (spiritual realm), then he speaks good words (mental realm), which results in a long and prosperous life (physical and financial). Thus, he is blessed in every area of his life.

In contrast, the wicked intend on deceiving others for selfish reasons ( Proverbs 12:5) and will go so far as destroying others in order to benefit himself ( Proverbs 12:6). The outcome is that the wicked will soon be overthrown and destroyed in his wickedness ( Proverbs 12:7). When his heart is evil (spiritual realm), then he speaks evil words (mental realm), which results in a shorter and difficult life (physical and financial). Thus, he is cursed in every area of his life.

f) The Mind of Man: The Righteous Tongue ( Proverbs 12:13 to Proverbs 13:5) - This section places emphasis upon the tongue of Prayer of Manasseh , which reflects the mind of man.

g) The Physical Body of Man: Diligence ( Proverbs 12:24 to Proverbs 13:4) - This section places emphasis upon man's physical body. The heart of man has been emphasized in Proverbs 12:1-12 and the mind has been emphasized in Proverbs 12:13 to Proverbs 13:5. We have passed a similar group of proverbs that placed emphasis upon man's physical body in Proverbs 10:27 to Proverbs 11:22. However, these verses focused upon a long life. The proverbs found in Proverbs 12:24 to Proverbs 13:4 will focus upon diligence.

h) Wealth Gained by a Righteous Heart, Guarding the Tongue and Diligence in Work ( Proverbs 13:1-25) - Proverbs 13:1-25 places emphasis upon the spirit, soul and body of man.

i) The Mind: Understanding Must Guide Our Decisions ( Proverbs 14:1-35) - This section places emphasis upon the mind of man.

j) A Merry Heart ( Proverbs 15:1-33) - Proverbs 15:1-33 places emphasis upon the heart of man.

2. Indoctrination: Synthetic Proverbs ( Proverbs 16:1 to Proverbs 22:16) - On our journey in chapters 10-15, we have learned to make wise choices and to avoid foolish decisions. In chapter 16, we begin to see that God"s purpose and plan in our lives is bigger than just daily decision-making. This section of Proverbs ( Proverbs 16:1 to Proverbs 22:16) reveals the divine intervention of God on this journey in life. We must now learn that God has an all-inclusive divine plan for all of his creation, for all of mankind, and a plan for you and me in particular. We must learn not only to make a wise decision, but we must evaluate this decision in light of God"s divine plan for our lives. It is only by God's divine intervention in our daily lives that we will be able to stay on the path that leads to eternal rest. God will intervene in order to keep our life balanced so that we will not stray in any one direction to far. Therefore, the journey becomes narrower and choices must be made more carefully.

Proverbs 10-15 have given us one-verse sayings that are clearly antithetical. That Isaiah , the first part of the verse contrasts with the second part. However, beginning in Proverbs 16:1 to Proverbs 22:16, we see a different type of proverb. In this next section of the book of Proverbs the one-verse says have two parts that complement one another. That Isaiah , the second phrase amplifies, or further explains, the first phrase, rather than contrast its counterpart. This means that the training is getting a little more intensive. This new section requires more contemplation that the previous section. Rather than contrasting the difference between the wise man and the fool, we begin to learn the consequences of our decisions, whether wise or foolish. We now move from identifying the wise and the fool ( Proverbs 10:1 thru Proverbs 15:33) into learning the lasting effects that wisdom and foolishness have in our lives ( Proverbs 16:1 thru Proverbs 22:16). We must learn that we will always reap the consequences of our behavior. This is the process of indoctrination that is a vital part of our spiritual journey.

As we look for signposts within this passage that confirm this theme, we find them in Proverbs 16:6 and Proverbs 19:23, which tell us that the fear of the Lord brings forgiveness of our sins and it delivers us from the visitation of evil that judges the wicked.

Proverbs 16:6, "By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil."

Proverbs 19:23, "The fear of the LORD tendeth to life: and he that hath it shall abide satisfied; he shall not be visited with evil."

It is interesting to note that the opening chapter of this lengthy passage begins with the theme of the sovereignty of God. This passage is place at this place on our journey in order that we might learn that God"s ways always prevail over man"s ways and that we must always reap what we sow.

Therefore, the truths in Proverbs 16:1 to Proverbs 22:16 are a little deeper in meaning that the previous section of Proverbs 10:1 to Proverbs 15:33. On our journey in Proverbs 10-15, we have seen how a man can make choices that will identify his character. Now, beginning in chapter 16, we take a deeper lesson in life in order to see a bigger picture. Although the outcome in life rests upon our daily choices, we must learn that God intervenes in our lives in order to include us into His divine plan for all of His creation, and for all of mankind. This means that God has a plan for you and me in particular.

Then, we see a signpost at Proverbs 22:4 as an indication that this phase of learning is ending. Note:

Proverbs 22:4, "By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, and honour, and life."

Therefore, Proverbs 22:4 does not describe the beginning of wisdom ( Proverbs 1:1 thru Proverbs 9:18), nor the instruction of wisdom ( Proverbs 10:1 thru Proverbs 15:33), but rather the effects of applying wisdom to our lives. That Isaiah , wisdom brings to us the full rewards of riches, honour and life.

a) The Character of the King ( Proverbs 16:10-15) - Most of the verses in Proverbs 16:10-15 deal with the character of a king and how those within his kingdom are to respect him. When we learn that God has ordained and anointed rulers over Prayer of Manasseh , we then must learn how to serve under them.

B. Divine Service: The Words of the Wise (Two Collections) ( Proverbs 22:17 to Proverbs 24:34) - In Proverbs 22:17 to Proverbs 24:34 we have a collection of sayings that is often called "The Words of the Wise." Scholars give it this title because there are indications from Proverbs 22:21 that King Solomon sent young men to seek out the wisdom of Egypt and of the East. There are two collections of sayings in this section. The first collection is made up of thirty sayings ( Proverbs 22:17 to Proverbs 24:22) and the second collection is short, consisting of only four sayings ( Proverbs 24:23-34). We know that Solomon identified two sources of wisdom outside of Israel, which were the East and Egypt; for we read in 1 Kings 4:30, "And Solomon"s wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt." We know that the first collection of sayings has similarities with ancient Egyptian wisdom. Thus, it most likely originated from Egypt. We can then suggest that the second, but shorter, collection of sayings ( Proverbs 24:23-34) either came from Egypt as miscellaneous Wisdom of Solomon , or it may have been that wisdom which Solomon collected from the East.

We see in one verse in this section ( Proverbs 22:21) that serves as a possible reference to the fact that Solomon sent a delegation of men to seek out wise men of other nations. The YLT reads, "To cause thee to know the certainty of sayings of truth, To return sayings of truth to those sending thee." ( Proverbs 22:21) It implies that Solomon sent a delegate to a faraway city in his search for wisdom; for we read in Ecclesiastes 12:9 that Solomon "sought out" proverbs.

Ecclesiastes 12:9, "And moreover, because the preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yea, he gave good heed, and sought out, and set in order many proverbs."

In other words, some of the young men that were trained in his court were selected, or called out, to go to other nations and seek divine wisdom. These would have been men who had learned Solomon's proverbs well and applied them to their lives. In addition, these men may have carried a collection of Solomon's proverbs as a gift to these wise men of Egypt and the East.

The wise men of this place may have compiled thirty of their most important proverbs and sent them back to King Solomon with a cover letter using the words found in Proverbs 22:17-21, which also serves as a prologue to these sayings. They gave Solomon's delegate a collection of sayings of truth for those who sent him. It appears that King Solomon honored these proverbs by keeping them with his other collection of proverbs. This is how they were placed within the Proverbs of Solomon. However, we must assume that King Solomon would not have sought something from lesser kings without offering to them a greater gift, perhaps his collection of divine sayings. Thus, those who were sent out probably took the message of the God of Israel with them to evangelize the civilized world as a part of their calling.

Regarding its application to our spiritual journey, we see how God will pick a point in time when He finds us faithful to entrust to us a greater calling. In Proverbs 22:21 we see how Solomon chose one or more of his faithful servants and sent them to gather divine wisdom outside of his kingdom. It is a time when God calls us and anoints us for a particular task. For example, Paul was called to the nations in Acts 9:15 when Ananias prophesied that, "he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel." But it was many years later when Paul was sent out with Barnabas and anointed in the office of an apostle to the Gentiles in Acts 13:1-4. If we will be faithful and continue in what God has given to us, we, too, will find a greater calling and anointing to serve. This is a place of maturity that God is trying to get each of us to obtain.

The number "thirty" symbolized manhood and maturity in ancient times. Thus, these thirty sayings of the wise may serve to symbolize a Christian's spiritual maturity; for it is only those mature in Christ who are appointed to Christian service; Song of Solomon , the thirty sayings contained within this passage of Scripture may represent our journey towards maturity. In other words, when we adopt these thirty sayings to our life, we will have developed a mature behaviour and be ready for our assignment and calling in Christian service.

This section of proverbs is characteristics by having lengthy sayings of two or more verses, which build upon a theme. The training becomes more intensive as we apply ourselves to learning the ways of wisdom. Therefore, we must apply more contemplation in order to understand these truths. However, as in our secular education, our past learning will serve as a foundation to understanding the more difficult issues of life. These sayings can be divided into two groups.

1. The Words of the Wise: First Collection (Thirty Sayings) ( Proverbs 22:17 to Proverbs 24:22) - Proverbs 22:17 to Proverbs 24:22 begins a new section of collections, often called The Words of the Wise. It is possible that these sayings were collected by Solomon from outside his kingdom. We know that Solomon identified two sources of wisdom outside of Israel, which were the East and Egypt; for we read in 1 Kings 4:30, "And Solomon"s wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt."

We know that the first collection of sayings has similarities with ancient Egyptian wisdom. Thus, it most likely originated from Egypt. We can then suggest that the second, but shorter, collection of sayings ( Proverbs 24:23-34) either came from Egypt as miscellaneous Wisdom of Solomon , or it may have been that wisdom which Solomon collected from the East.

This first collection of "Sayings of the Wise" is characterized by individual truths that come in groups of two or more verses. The training becomes more intensive as we apply ourselves to learning the ways of wisdom. Therefore, we must apply more contemplation in order to understand these truths. As in our secular education, our past learning will serve as a foundation to understanding the more difficult issues of life.

The signposts found in the sayings of the wise ( Proverbs 22:17 to Proverbs 24:34) and in Solomon's second collection ( Proverbs 24:25-29) tell us to continue in the fear of the Lord, to honor those in authority over us, and this will bring happiness into our lives as we continue on this journey. Note:

Proverbs 23:17, "Let not thine heart envy sinners: but be thou in the fear of the LORD all the day long."

Proverbs 24:21, "My Song of Solomon , fear thou the LORD and the king: and meddle not with them that are given to change:"

Proverbs 28:14, "Happy is the man that feareth alway: but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief."

Here is a proposed outline:

a) Prologue (Ode or Decastitch) Proverbs 22:17-21

b) First Saying( Tetrastitch) Proverbs 22:22-23

c) Second Saying (Tetrastitch) Proverbs 22:24-25

d) Third Saying (Tetrastitch) Proverbs 22:26-27

e) Fourth Saying (Distitch) Proverbs 22:28

f) Fifth Saying (Tristitch) Proverbs 22:29

g) Sixth Saying (Hexastitch) Proverbs 23:1-3

h) Seventh Saying (Pentastitch) Proverbs 23:4-5

i) Eighth Saying (Heptastitch) Proverbs 23:6-8

j) Ninth Saying (Distitch) Proverbs 23:9

k) Tenth Saying (Tetrastitch) Proverbs 23:10-11

l) Eleventh Saying (Hexastitch) Proverbs 23:12-14

m) Twelfth Saying (Tetrastitch) Proverbs 23:15-16

n) Thirteenth Saying (Tetrastitch) Proverbs 23:17-18

o) Fourteenth Saying (Hexastitch) Proverbs 23:19-21

p) Fifteenth Saying (Octastitch) Proverbs 23:22-25

q) Sixteenth Saying (Hexastitch) Proverbs 23:26-28

r) Seventeenth Saying (An Ode) Proverbs 23:29-35

s) Eighteenth Saying (Tetrastitch) Proverbs 24:1-2

t) Nineteenth Saying (Tristitch) Proverbs 24:3-4

u) Twentieth Saying (Tetrastitch) Proverbs 24:5-6

v) Twenty-First Saying (Distitch) Proverbs 24:7

w) Twenty-Second Saying (Distitch) Proverbs 24:8

x) Twenty-Third Saying (Distitch) Proverbs 24:9

y) Twenty-Fourth Saying (Distitch) Proverbs 24:10

z) Twenty-Fifth Saying (Hexastitch) Proverbs 24:11-12

aa) Twenty-Sixth Saying (Pentastitch) Proverbs 24:13-14

bb) Twenty-Seventh Saying (Tetrastitch) Proverbs 24:15-16

cc) Twenty-Eighth Saying (Tetrastitch) Proverbs 24:17-18

dd) Twenty-Ninth Saying (Tetrastitch) Proverbs 24:19-20

ee) Thirtieth Saying (Tetrastitch) Proverbs 24:21-22

2. Sayings of the Wise: Second Collection (Four Sayings) ( Proverbs 24:23-34) - Proverbs 24:23-34 is considers by many scholars to be the second collection of the "Sayings of the Wise", with Proverbs 22:17 to Proverbs 24:22 being the first collection. It is possible that these sayings were collected by Solomon from outside his kingdom. We know that Solomon identified two sources of wisdom outside of Israel, which were the East and Egypt; for we read in 1 Kings 4:30, "And Solomon"s wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt."

We know that the first collection of sayings has similarities with ancient Egyptian wisdom. Thus, it most likely originated from Egypt. 44] We can then suggest that the second, but shorter, collection of sayings ( Proverbs 24:23-34) either came from Egypt as miscellaneous Wisdom of Solomon , or it may have been that wisdom which Solomon collected from the East.

44] Miriam Lichtheim, The Instruction of Amenemope, in Ancient Egyptian literature: Volume II: The New Kingdom (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1973- 80]), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004).

We know that Solomon gathered and compiled both collections of sayings. Thus, we read the words of Solomon in the opening statement, "These things also belong to the wise," ( Proverbs 24:23 a).

There are at four proverbial sayings in this shortest of collections (ASV). Some commentators count them as five or six. It is interesting to note that these sayings deal with the condition of a man's heart, mind and body, and in that order.

Outline - Here is a proposed outline:

1. First Saying (The Heart) (Hexastitch) Proverbs 24:23-26

2. Second Saying (The Mind - How We Think) (Tristitch) Proverbs 24:27

3. Third Saying (The Mind - How We Speak) (Tetrastitch) Proverbs 24:28-29

4. Fourth Saying (The Body) (Decastitch) Proverbs 24:30-34

C. Perseverance: Solomon"s Second Collection by Hezekiah ( Proverbs 25:1 to Proverbs 29:27) - Proverbs 25-29 are often called Solomon's Second Collection of Proverbs. When we enter into chapters 25,29, we begin to notice a number of proverbs that deal with leaders of a nation. We now must learn that our actions ultimately affect our nation. We often find the underlying them of a section in its opening verses; and this is the case with this division in Proverbs. Proverbs 25:2-7 reveal how the king decrees by divine oracles ( Proverbs 25:2-3), so that he might establish righteousness ( Proverbs 25:4-5), so that everyone will walk humbly before the king and his decrees ( Proverbs 25:6-7). Therefore, the proverbs in 25-29 are emphasizing how a king establishes justice in the land. Perhaps Solomon gathered this second group of proverbs separately from his first collection because he used them in specifically to establish righteousness and order in the land of Israel. This may the reason that many proverbs in this collection refer to rulers of a land ( Proverbs 25:2-7; Proverbs 25:15; Proverbs 27:23-27; Proverbs 28:2; Proverbs 28:15-16; Proverbs 29:2; Proverbs 29:4; Proverbs 29:12; Proverbs 29:14; Proverbs 29:26). In fact, this collection of proverbs closes with two verses stating this very theme of how a king's righteous judgment establishes the land ( Proverbs 29:4; Proverbs 29:14).

The signposts found in the sayings of the wise ( Proverbs 22:17 to Proverbs 24:34) and in Solomon's second collection (25-29) tell us to continue in the fear of the Lord, to honor those in authority over us, and this will bring happiness into our lives as we continue on this journey. Note:

Proverbs 23:17, "Let not thine heart envy sinners: but be thou in the fear of the LORD all the day long."

Proverbs 24:21, "My Song of Solomon , fear thou the LORD and the king: and meddle not with them that are given to change:"

Proverbs 28:14, "Happy is the man that feareth alway: but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief."

Regarding the relationship of Proverbs 25-29 to our spiritual journey, we can group these proverbs under the phase called perseverance of the saints, in which God's children have entered their divine calling and are in the process of fulfilling it in order to reach the final stage of glorification. The theme of leadership and the establishment of justice reveal our purpose for this season in our lives. God has put us on this path in order to establish righteousness in the land.

Here is a proposed outline:

1. Proverbs About Relationships with Others Proverbs 25:1-26:28

2. Proverbs About Misc. Activities Proverbs 27:1-29:27

Final Comments on Justification- One major question is still left unanswered after this brief survey of the book of Proverbs. Why are the proverbs found in chapters 10-30 collected into such a seemingly random, disorganized order? Although we know that there are signposts that help guide us during this difficult journey, there seems to be no apparent path to follow in this list of collected proverbs. The answer is found by understanding God's plan for each individual life. When we are saved, God teaches us His Divine Truths mixed with the same warnings found in Proverbs 1-9. He shows to us our eternal destination in Heaven as symbolized in Proverbs 31. But He does not reveal to us the details of our journey in this life. This is because God wants us to learn to depend upon Him on a daily basis for direction in life. We see this illustrated by the story of how God fed the children of Israel for forty years in the wilderness on a daily ration of manna. Never did God give them enough manna to last for more than two days. This is figurative of the fact that every child of God must live daily on the Word of God for his direction in life. This is so that we will learn to trust God daily. If He had revealed to each believer their Christian journey from beginning to end, then a child of God would tend to trust in himself to complete this journey rather than depending upon God for daily guidance.

We must learn to trust Him and follow Him on a daily basis without having to understand where He is leading us. We must hold His loving hand each day that we are on this journey. Note these words from Frances J. Roberts:

"So clasp thy hand in Mine, and loose not thine hold. For thou canst not tell what great thing I may do for thee through some smallest happening. Thine every hair is numbered, and the most incidental occurrences of the most ordinary day I delight to choose and use to reveal to thee My earnestness in helping thee." 45]

45] Frances J. Roberts, Come Away My Beloved (Ojai, California: King's Farspan, Inc, 1973), 86.

As we walk this journey day by day under His leadership, we do not always know where we are going. This creates a desire within us to look for God's handiwork in the most incidental events of our most ordinary day on this journey. Each incident of each day gives us an opportunity to be taught a precept of God' endless wisdom. The Lord does not expect us to become spiritual giants overnight. But what He asks is that we look for divine wisdom in each incidental situation of the day. As we see the right way, we correct our lifestyle to conform to this way. It is a day-by-day walk and a day-by-day change. This is a walk that God desires of us, to be in constant communion with our Heavenly Father, dependent upon Him in every area of our lives. Were not the children of Israel instructed to follow the Ark of the Covenant when they entered the Promised Land? This is because the Ark represented the presence of God and the children of Israel had never passed this way before. Note:

Joshua 3:3-4, "And they commanded the people, saying, When ye see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, and the priests the Levites bearing it, then ye shall remove from your place, and go after it. Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure: come not near unto it, that ye may know the way by which ye must go: for ye have not passed this way heretofore."

This is the path that we see in Proverbs 10-29, as we behold God's Wisdom of Solomon , precept upon precept, line upon line, here a little, there a little. Thus, the book of Proverbs is organized this way. Although we find sections of these chapters that deal largely with a particular theme, we also see that individual proverbs about our spirit, soul, body and finances are all interwoven within all of these themes. For example, while we may be reading primarily about the tongue is a section of chapters 10 or 12, we also find proverbs about other issues of our life woven within these passages. This is because God feeds us a daily balanced diet. He wants us to learn the biblical principles about each area of the Christian life. For example, if we learned only how to have a pure heart, but failed to learn about prosperity, we would have a heart after God but remain financially poor. This is not God's best for His children. However, if we learned to handle our finances well, but mismanaged our health, we would die at an early age and loose our prosperity to others. This is not God's best. God gives us a daily ration of spiritual, mental, physical and financial lessons on our journey. If we will simply look about us each day, we can learn to recognize these teachings as they are illustrated all around us in the lives of others. You would not want to eat rice 365 days a year. You would not get the minerals and vitamins, protein, fiber and fatty acids that you need for a healthy body. Neither does God want us deficient in any area of our lives. Thus, the proverbs are interwoven in the manner that God leads us on the journey.

This random order may also be influenced by the fact that temptations and trials often come to us in a random order, much because Satan is a creature who is out of order with God's plan for creation. God tells us to do everything decently and in order ( 1 Corinthians 14:40), while Satan gains control of people's lives through chaos and disorder. Although Satan may bring us trials in such random order, he cannot override the divine providence of Almighty God, who is ordering our daily path to the destination that He has predetermined before the foundation of the world.

1 Corinthians 14:40, "Let all things be done decently and in order."

We begin our journey with training and severe warnings of its dangers (1-9). We are clearly shown our eternal destination for those who will follow the voice of wisdom (30-31). However, the actual journey must be walked one day at a time, seeking His face, trusting that His loving hand is holding us close by His side (10-29). Therefore, these short proverbs represent the daily occurrences and situations that we face on the journey in life. In each of these situations, we are to look for God's ways, for His Wisdom of Solomon , which are found in each of these proverbs. Thus, the book of Proverbs represents our journey in this life.

IV. Glorification: The Destination of Rest: Walking in Christ"s Fullness ( Proverbs 30:1 to Proverbs 31:1-31) - The final passage is Proverbs 30:1 to Proverbs 31:1-31.

A. The Proverbs of Agur: An Encounter with God ( Proverbs 30:1-33) - Proverbs 30:1-33 is a group of proverbs that were written by an unknown person named Agur. It becomes obvious in Proverbs 30:2-6 that this prophet has had an encounter with God. The proverbs contained within this chapter are a reflection of that divine encounter. At this level of our journey with Wisdom of Solomon , we, too, will have an encounter with God, where we are allowed to have a glimpse of His eternal glory, and with a taste of His glory, the things of this world fade into obscurity. No one can turn loose the cares of this world until he tastes this glory, but once it is tasted, he is never again satisfied with the things of this world.

In the presence of God, Agur responds in broken humility ( Proverbs 30:2-3). After describing his utter weakness in relation to God, he endeavors to describe God"s majesty ( Proverbs 30:4-6). Even His spoken Words are overwhelming ( Proverbs 30:5-6). From this divine perspective, we better understand how to balance our pursuits of this world"s goods ( Proverbs 30:-9). We see how wicked and proud the heart of man really is in comparison to God"s holiness ( Proverbs 30:10-14). We see God"s wonderful creation as too glorious to comprehend ( Proverbs 30:15-31).

Here is a proposed outline:

1. Introduction Proverbs 30:1

2. Man's Response to God's Presence Proverbs 30:2-3

3. A Description of God's Majesty Proverbs 30:4-6

4. Setting Priorities in Life Proverbs 30:7-9

5. Man's Wickedness Compared to God's Holiness Proverbs 30:10-14

6. God's Wonderful Creation Proverbs 30:15-31

7. Conclusion Proverbs 30:32-33

B. The Proverbs of King Lemuel: A Mother's Plea ( Proverbs 31:1-31) - Proverbs 31:1-31 are an instructions from a mother to a king. It is her plea to her son for a leader to live a holy lifestyle. A king should sanctify his body ( Proverbs 31:2-3), he should avoid perverting his reason by sanctifying his mind ( Proverbs 31:4-6), he should sanctify his heart in judgment ( Proverbs 31:8-9), and he should have a sanctified marriage with a virtuous woman ( Proverbs 31:10-31). Therefore, this warning deals with the body, the soul, the spirit and prosperity from a good marriage. We see the same plea in the seven letters to the churches in Asia Minor ( Revelation 2-3) when Christ asks them to sanctify themselves so that they can partake of the Rapture and miss the Tribulation Period that was coming.

After having an encounter with the Lord ( Proverbs 30:1-33), we are at a level of maturity where God begins to hold us much more accountable in life. Proverbs 31:1-31 teaches us that we must learn to walk in the authority that God has given every believer, as priests and kings unto God.

Thus, if we have walked in the path of Wisdom of Solomon , we will come to our destination on the journey, having received all of the blessings listed in chapter three, which is spiritual, mental, physical and financial blessings. Unlike the world, which strives after all these things, we have sought wisdom first and also received these blessings. We have been able to enter into a place of peace and rest as we enjoy these blessings, unlike the world, which strives and worries and gains these things through lust and corruption ( Matthew 6:32-33).

Matthew 6:32-33, "(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."

Here is a proposed outline:

1. Introduction ( Proverbs 31:1) - Proverbs 31:1 serves as an introduction for Proverbs 31:1-31. King Lemeul's mother addresses the dangers of women and wine leading to poor judgment as a king, and the remedy is to find a virtuous wife.

2. A Mother's Plea to Her Son to Sanctify Himself ( Proverbs 31:2-9) - In Proverbs 31:2-9 we have instructions for a king. This passage gives a warning against pursuing women ( Proverbs 31:3) and wine ( Proverbs 31:4-6). Many people of great achievement have fallen because of a combination of these two evils. For it destroys a man"s ability to properly judge between right and wrong ( Proverbs 31:8-9). Righteous judgment is the fundamental requirement of a king.

a) A Mother's Plea to Her Son to Sanctify His Body ( Proverbs 31:2-3) - Proverbs 31:2-3 is a mother's plea to her son to sanctify his body in order that he not destroy himself.

b) A Mother's Pleas to Her Son to Sanctify His Mind ( Proverbs 31:4-7) - Proverbs 31:4-7 gives us a mother's plea for her son to sanctify his mind. He needs a clear mind in order to make wise decision as a king.

c) A Mother's Pleas to Her Son to Sanctify His Heart in Judgment ( Proverbs 31:8-9) - Proverbs 31:8-9 gives us a mother's plea to her son to sanctify his heart in order to give righteous judgment.

3. The Destination: Walking in Christ"s Fullness ( Proverbs 31:10-31) - The final passage we find on our journey is Proverbs 31:10-31. It is here where a person reaches his destination and fullness in life. It describes a husband in his prosperity because of a wise wife. God wants to bring us into a place of fruitfulness and prosperity. The final signpost is found at our destination ( Proverbs 31:30).

Proverbs 31:30, "Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised."

It tells us that walking in the fear of the Lord on this journey and humbling ourselves in obedience to the voice of wisdom will ultimately exalt us into the praises of our Lord, as we, the bride of Christ, live in tender love and affection with Him throughout eternity. We will enter into His glory and become like Him.

If there is a beginning to a path of Wisdom of Solomon , then there is a journey. If journey, then a destination. Our destination is to become like our Lord and Saviour, Christ Jesus or to walk in the fullness of Christ. We could liken this journey to John Bunyan"s book called Pilgrim"s Progress. 46] The first chapter of Proverbs reveals to us that this destination is a place of safety and rest in Christ Jesus ( Proverbs 1:33).

46] George Offor, ed, The Works of John Bunyan, 3vols. (Edinburgh: Blackie and Song of Solomon , 1855).

Proverbs 1:33, "But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil."

Another way to describe our destination is to say that wisdom will lead us into God"s rest. Hebrew describes a Sabbath rest for the people of God ( Hebrews 4:9).

Hebrews 4:9, "There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God."

In contrast, the sinner's destiny is described in Revelation 14:11 as having "no rest."

Revelation 14:11, "And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name."

Does not Solomon"s name, if fact, mean "rest, or peace"? We also know that when Solomon became king over Israel, this nation entered into its only period of rest from its enemies ( 1 Chronicles 22:9).

1 Chronicles 22:9, "Behold, a son shall be born to thee, who shall be a man of rest; and I will give him rest from all his enemies round about: for his name shall be Song of Solomon , and I will give peace and quietness unto Israel in his days."

The reason that Israel entered into rest is that its enemies had been subdued by David, who was a man of war. A nation or a people only has peace when it exercises dominion and subdues its enemies. The Lord once gave me a vision of a friend of my peacefully sitting in his home reading his Bible. Then the Lord said to me, "There is peace in a home when there is dominion in that home." Then the Lord quickened to me Luke 11:21.

Luke 11:21, "When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace:"

Regarding Proverbs 31:1-9 about the righteous duties of a king, did not God tell Joshua that the conquest of Canaan would bring them into rest ( Joshua 1:13)?

Joshua 1:13, "Remember the word which Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, saying, The LORD your God hath given you rest, and hath given you this land."

Did not the judges bring the people of Israel into rest after delivering them from their enemies ( Judges 3:30)?

Judges 3:30, "So Moab was subdued that day under the hand of Israel. And the land had rest fourscore years."

Thus, when Israel"s enemies were subdued, this nation has rest under King Solomon. For the Church of Jesus Christ, there is a rest that God has made for us in order that we may enter into it. But, we must enter into this rest by taking authority over the enemy, Satan, in our life. This is why the last chapter of the book of Proverbs describes the duties of a king. It reveals to us how a king can rule and reign in righteous. In addition, we will not fully enter into our rest until we enter heaven and, as the bride of Christ, we become His wife. This is why the last chapter of Proverbs describes the virtuous.

Then shall be fulfilled that prophecy in the book of Revelation regarding the Church ruling on earth forever. Note:

Revelation 5:10, "And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth."

Regarding Proverbs 31:10-31, does not a bride enter into rest when she enters the house of her husband? Note:

Ruth 1:9, "The LORD grant you that ye may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband. Then she kissed them; and they lifted up their voice, and wept."

This point of a woman's desire for rest through marriage was made clear to me as I live in East Africa, amidst a people in an underdeveloped nation. The females of poor families are destined to a life of hard work, little education and no honor. They become servants in the homes of the wealth, and are treated with despite. Only through marriage can such a female find hope of deliverance and rest from this cycle of poverty.

The Church is to walk in the virtues of this woman in Proverbs 31, and more so as we receive our immortal bodies in heaven.

Then shall be fulfilled that prophecy found in the book of Revelation regarding the marriage of the Lamb receiving His bride.

Revelation 19:5-8, "And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great. And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints."

Thus, is our eternal destination reached, when we become the bride of Christ, and as we rule and reign as priests and kings unto God. There we enter into eternal rest, where heaven is our destination, where heaven is our home.

The book of Proverbs concludes at its destination. The goal of a believer is to become like the Lord Jesus Christ, a bride prepared for His Second Coming. The book of Proverbs describes this glorious Church as the virtuous woman. Proverbs 31:10-31 describes the bride that Christ is coming to received. In closing this passage and the book of Proverbs , we see our final signpost in Proverbs 31:30.

Proverbs 31:30, "Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised."

As we see in this last passage, the journey does not come to end. That is because our journey into eternal glory will never come to an end. Instead, we enter into rest. We will simply receive a glorified body and continue serving the Lord in heaven.

a) The Remedy for a Successful King ( Proverbs 31:10) - After King Lemuel's mother warns her son about the vices of women and wine, she advices him on the remedy to have a successful kingdom, which is to marry a virtuous woman.

b) The Characteristics of a Virtuous Woman ( Proverbs 31:11-31) - Proverbs 31:11-31 are an amplified definition of the virtuous wife mentioned in Proverbs 31:10.

i) The Virtuous Woman: Her Spiritual Blessings Proverbs 31:11-12

ii) The Virtuous Woman: Her Financial Blessings Proverbs 31:13-16

iii) The Virtuous Woman: Her Physical Blessings Proverbs 31:17-25

iv) The Virtuous Woman: Her Mental Blessings Proverbs 31:26-27

v) The Virtuous Woman: Her Praise Proverbs 31:28-31

X. Outline of Book

The following outline is a summary of the preceding literary structure; thus, it reflects the theological framework of the book of Proverbs: its purpose, its three-fold thematic scheme, and its literary structure. As a result, this outline offers sermon sections that fit together into a single message that can be used by preachers and teachers to guide a congregation or class through the book of Proverbs. This journey through Proverbs will lead believers into one aspect of conformity to the image of Christ Jesus that was intended by the Lord, which in this book of the Holy Scriptures is to prepare Christians to walk in wisdom and the fear of God by understanding God's Word.

It is based upon the four phases of God the Father's foreknowledge listed in Romans 8:29-30 : predestination, calling, justification and glorification.

I. Predestining the Journey- Prologue— Proverbs 1:1-6

II. Calling - Preparation for the Journey— Proverbs 1:7 to Proverbs 9:18

A. The Call of Wisdom to Young & Tender— Proverbs 1:7-33

1. Exhortation to Fear God and Parents— Proverbs 1:7-9

2. The Call of the Wicked Man— Proverbs 1:10-19

3. The Call of Wisdom— Proverbs 1:20-23

4. The Consequences of Rejecting Wisdom"s Call— Proverbs 1:24-33

B. Answering Wisdom's Call (A Hearing Heart)— Proverbs 2:1-22

1. How to Find Wisdom — Proverbs 2:1-9

a) Develop a Hearing Heart— Proverbs 2:1-5

b) Wisdom Protects Our Path— Proverbs 2:6-9

2. Wisdom's Path of Escape— Proverbs 2:10-22

a) The path of escape— Proverbs 2:10-11

b) Escape from the wicked man— Proverbs 2:12-15

c.) Escape from the adulteress— Proverbs 2:16-20

d.)End results of wise man & fool— Proverbs 2:21-22

C. The Blessings of Wisdom— — Proverbs 3:1-35

1. The blessings of wisdom expounded— Proverbs 3:1-12

a) Summary to its blessings — Proverbs 3:1-2

b) Wisdom and its blessings in relationships (spiritual) — Proverbs 3:3-4

c) Wisdom and its blessings in decision-making (mental)— Proverbs 3:5-6

d) Wisdom and its blessings in health (physical) — Proverbs 3:7-8

e) Wisdom and its blessings in prosperity (financial)— Proverbs 3:9-10

f) Wisdom and its blessings in chastisement — Proverbs 3:11-12

2. The priority of wisdom (a summary of its blessings)— Proverbs 3:13-18

3. The eternal power of wisdom — Proverbs 3:19-20

4. Thru wisdom man decides his destiny— Proverbs 3:21-26

5. Wisdom towards our neighbors brings us into His glory— Proverbs 3:27-35

a) Illustration of Sowing Financially— Proverbs 3:27-28

b) Illustration of Sowing Physically— Proverbs 3:29-30

c) Illustration of Sowing Mentally— Proverbs 3:31-32

d) Illustration of Sowing Spiritually— Proverbs 3:33-34

e) Glory or Shame— Proverbs 3:35

D. Three Paths of Wisdom— Proverbs 4:1-27

1. Transforming your heart (note Proverbs 4:4)— Proverbs 4:1-9

2. Renewing your mind (note Proverbs 4:18)— Proverbs 4:10-19

3. Directing your body (note Proverbs 4:22)— Proverbs 4:20-27

E. Three Paths of Destruction— Proverbs 5:1 to Proverbs 6:11

1. The Heart- Warnings of the Adulteress— Proverbs 5:1-23

a) The Path of Adultery Leads to Poverty and Destruction— Proverbs 5:1-14

i) Maintain Wisdom as a Priority — Proverbs 5:1-2

ii) The Lips of Seduction — Proverbs 5:3-4

iii) The Strange Woman Leads a Man to Hell — Proverbs 5:5-6

iv) Stay on the Path of Wisdom— Proverbs 5:7-8

v) The Man Gives Her His Honour, Labour, and Wealth — Proverbs 5:9-10

vi) The Words of Grief from the Fool — Proverbs 5:11-14

b) The Remedy: A Happy Marriage— Proverbs 5:15-19

c) The Punishment for Adultery— Proverbs 5:20-23

2. The Mind- Warnings of the Loose Tongue— Proverbs 6:1-5

3. The Body- Warnings against Laziness— Proverbs 6:6-11

F. Characteristics of the Evil People— Proverbs 6:12 to Proverbs 7:27

1. Characteristics of a Wicked Man— Proverbs 6:12-19

2. Characteristics of an Adulteress— — Proverbs 6:20 to Proverbs 7:27

a) The Effects of the Word of God upon our Spirit Man — Proverbs 6:20-23

b) The Cunning Devises of the Adulteress— Proverbs 6:24 to Proverbs 7:27

i) 1. The Shame of Falling Prey to the Adulteress— Proverbs 6:24-35

ii) Exhortation to Put God's Word Before our Eyes — Proverbs 7:1-5

iii) The Setting: Alluring the Five Sense-Gates — Proverbs 7:6-13

iv) Capturing the Mind — Proverbs 7:14-21

v) Controlling the Heart — Proverbs 7:22-23

vi) Final Warning — Proverbs 7:24-27

G. Characteristics of Wisdom— Proverbs 8:1-36

1. Wisdom's Character Found in Society — Proverbs 8:1-21

a) Wisdom Calls in the Open Places to Everyone — Proverbs 8:1-5

b) Wisdom Is Found in the Hearts & Words of Righteous Men— Proverbs 8:6-8

c) Wisdom Is Found by Those Whose Hearts Seek Her First — Proverbs 8:9-11

d) Wisdom is Found in Those With Mental Acuteness— Proverbs 8:12-14

e) Wisdom Is Found in Strong Pillars of Society— Proverbs 8:15-17

f) Wisdom is Found in Financial Prosperity— Proverbs 8:18-21

2. Wisdom's Character Found in Creation — Proverbs 8:22-31

a) Its Eternal Power — Proverbs 8:22-26

b) Its Divine Godhead — Proverbs 8:27-31

3. Choose Life or Death — Proverbs 8:32-36

H. Wisdom's Final Call (Food for the Journey)— Proverbs 9:1-18

1. Wisdom"s Invitation to Dine— Proverbs 9:1-6

2. Fools Reject this Food— Proverbs 9:7-8

3. Those who Fear God Receive this Food— Proverbs 9:9-12

4. Invitation from the Foolish Woman to Dine— Proverbs 9:13-18

III. Justification- The Journey— Proverbs 10:1 to Proverbs 29:27

A. Solomon's First Collection — Proverbs 10:1 to Proverbs 22:16

1. Justification: Antithetic Proverbs— Proverbs 10:1 to Proverbs 15:33

a) Let Your Heart Guide You— Proverbs 10:1-9

i) Introduction — Proverbs 10:1

ii) Finances — Proverbs 10:2-3

iii) The Physical Body — Proverbs 10:4-5

iv) The Mind of Man — Proverbs 10:6-7

v) The Heart of Man — Proverbs 10:8-9

b) The Tongue — Proverbs 10:10-32

c) Long life — Proverbs 10:27 to Proverbs 11:22

d) Wealth Gained by Sowing and Reaping — Proverbs 11:24-31

e) The Righteous Heart — Proverbs 12:1-12

f) The Righteous Tongue — Proverbs 12:13 to Proverbs 13:5

g) Diligence — Proverbs 12:24 to Proverbs 13:4

h) Wealth by a right heart, guarded the tongue, & diligent work— Proverbs 13:1-25

i) The Mind- Understanding must guide our decisions — Proverbs 14:1-35

j) A Merry Heart— Proverbs 15:1-33

2. Indoctrination: Synthetic Proverbs — Proverbs 16:1 to Proverbs 22:16

B. Divine Service: The Words of the Wise — Proverbs 22:17 to Proverbs 24:34

1. First Collection (Thirty Sayings of the Wise)— Proverbs 22:17 to Proverbs 24:22

a) Prologue (Ode or Decastitch)— Proverbs 22:17-21

b) First Saying( Tetrastitch)— Proverbs 22:22-23

c) Second Saying (Tetrastitch)— Proverbs 22:24-25

d) Third Saying (Tetrastitch)— Proverbs 22:26-27

e) Fourth Saying (Distitch)— Proverbs 22:28

f) Fifth Saying (Tristitch)— Proverbs 22:29

g) Sixth Saying (Hexastitch)— Proverbs 23:1-3

h) Seventh Saying (Pentastitch)— Proverbs 23:4-5

i) Eighth Saying (Heptastitch)— Proverbs 23:6-8

j) Ninth Saying (Distitch)— Proverbs 23:9

k) Tenth Saying (Tetrastitch)— Proverbs 23:10-11

l) Eleventh Saying (Hexastitch)— Proverbs 23:12-14

m) Twelfth Saying (Tetrastitch)— Proverbs 23:15-16

n) Thirteenth Saying (Tetrastitch)— Proverbs 23:17-18

o) Fourteenth Saying (Hexastitch)— Proverbs 23:19-21

p) Fifteenth Saying (Octastitch)— Proverbs 23:22-25

q) Sixteenth Saying (Hexastitch)— Proverbs 23:26-28

r) Seventeenth Saying (An Ode)— Proverbs 23:29-35

s) Eighteenth Saying (Tetrastitch)— Proverbs 24:1-2

t) Nineteenth Saying (Tristitch)— Proverbs 24:3-4

u) Twentieth Saying (Tetrastitch)— Proverbs 24:5-6

v) Twenty-First Saying (Distitch)— Proverbs 24:7

w) Twenty-Second Saying (Distitch)— Proverbs 24:8

x) Twenty-Third Saying (Distitch)— Proverbs 24:9

y) Twenty-Fourth Saying (Distitch)— Proverbs 24:10

z) Twenty-Fifth Saying (Hexastitch)— Proverbs 24:11-12

aa) Twenty-Sixth Saying (Pentastitch)— Proverbs 24:13-14

bb) Twenty-Seventh Saying (Tetrastitch)— Proverbs 24:15-16

cc) Twenty-Eighth Saying (Tetrastitch)— Proverbs 24:17-18

dd) Twenty-Ninth Saying (Tetrastitch)— Proverbs 24:19-20

ee) Thirtieth Saying (Tetrastitch)— Proverbs 24:21-22

2. Second Collection (Four Sayings)— Proverbs 24:23-34

a) First Saying (The Heart) (Hexastitch)— Proverbs 24:23-26

b) Second Saying (The Mind - How We Think) (Tristitch)— Proverbs 24:27

c) Third Saying (The Mind - How We Speak) (Tetrastitch)— Proverbs 24:28-29

d) Fourth Saying (The Body) (Decastitch)— Proverbs 24:30-34

C. Perseverance: Solomon"s Second Collection by Hezekiah— Proverbs 25:1 to Proverbs 29:27

1.Proverbs About Relationships with Others — Proverbs 25:1 to Proverbs 26:28

a) Introduction— Proverbs 25:1

b) Wisdom in Dealing with Leaders— Proverbs 25:2-7

i) The Glory of a King: His Spirit — Proverbs 25:2-3

ii) The Judgments of a King: His Mind — Proverbs 25:4-5

iii) The Position of a King: Our Physical Actions — Proverbs 25:6-7

c) Wisdom in Dealing with Relationships— Proverbs 25:8-20

i) Handling Offences— Proverbs 25:8-10

ii) The Power of the Spoken Word— Proverbs 25:11-15

iii) Too Much of Something Good is not Always Good— Proverbs 25:16-17

iv) Betrayal and Poor Judgment— Proverbs 25:18-20

d) Wisdom in Dealing with Adversity— Proverbs 25:21-24

e) Wisdom Regarding Self-Discipline— Proverbs 25:25-28

f) Wisdom in Dealing with the Foolish— Proverbs 26:1-12

g) Wisdom in Dealing with the Sluggard— Proverbs 26:13-16

h)Wisdom in Dealing with the Liar— Proverbs 26:17-28

2.Proverbs About Misc. Activities — Proverbs 27:1 to Proverbs 29:27

a)Eleven-Line Ode— — Proverbs 27:23-27

IV. Glorification- Our Destination of Rest Proverbs 30:1 to Proverbs 31:31

A. The Proverbs of Agur- An Encounter with God— Proverbs 30:1-33

1. Introduction— Proverbs 30:1

2. Man's Response to God's Presence — Proverbs 30:2-3

3. A Description of God's Majesty — Proverbs 30:4-6

4. Setting Priorities in Life — Proverbs 30:7-9

5. Man's Wickedness Compared to God's Holiness — Proverbs 30:10-14

6. God's Wonderful Creation — Proverbs 30:15-31

7. Conclusion— Proverbs 30:32-33

B. The Proverbs of King Lemuel: A Mother's Plea — Proverbs 31:1-31

1. Introduction— Proverbs 31:1

2. A Mother's Plea for Sanctification— Proverbs 31:2-9

a) A Mother's Plea to Her Son to Sanctify His Body— Proverbs 31:2-3

b) A Mother's Pleas to Her Son to Sanctify His Mind — Proverbs 31:4-7

c) A Mother's Pleas to Her Son to Sanctify His Heart — Proverbs 31:8-9

3. The Destination: Walking in Christ"s Fullness — Proverbs 31:10-31

a) The Remedy for a Successful King — Proverbs 31:10

b) The Characteristics of a Virtuous Woman — Proverbs 31:11-31

i) The Virtuous Woman: Her Spiritual Blessings— Proverbs 31:11-12

ii) The Virtuous Woman: Her Financial Blessings— Proverbs 31:13-16

iii) The Virtuous Woman: Her Physical Blessings— Proverbs 31:17-25

iv) The Virtuous Woman: Her Mental Blessings— Proverbs 31:26-27

v) The Virtuous Woman: Her Praise— Proverbs 31:28-31

CONCLUSION

One major question is still left unanswered after this brief survey of the book of Proverbs. Why are the proverbs found in chapters 10-29 collected into such a seemingly random, disorganized order? Although we know that there are signposts that help guide us during this difficult journey, there seems to be no apparent path to follow in this list of collected proverbs. The answer is found by understanding God's plan for each individual life. When we are saved, God teaches us His Divine Truths mixed with the same warnings found in Proverbs 1-9. He shows to us our eternal destination in Heaven as symbolized in Proverbs 30-31. However, He does not reveal to us the details of our journey in this life. This is because God wants us to learn to depend upon Him on a daily basis for direction in life. We see this illustrated by the story of how God fed the children of Israel for forty years in the wilderness on a daily ration of manna. Never did God give them enough manna to last for more than two days. This is figurative of the fact that every child of God must live daily on the Word of God for his direction in life. This is so that we will learn to trust God daily. If He had revealed to each believer their Christian journey from beginning to end, then a child of God would tend to trust in himself to complete this journey rather than depending upon God for daily guidance.

We must learn to trust Him and follow Him on a daily basis without having to understand where He is leading us. We must hold His loving hand each day that we are on this journey. Note these words from Frances J. Roberts:

"So clasp thy hand in Mine, and loose not thine hold. For thou canst not tell what great thing I may do for thee through some smallest happening. Thine every hair is numbered, and the most incidental occurrences of the most ordinary day I delight to choose and use to reveal to thee My earnestness in helping thee." 156]

156] Frances J. Roberts, Come Away My Beloved (Ojai, California: King's Farspan, Inc, 1973), 86.

As we walk this journey day by day under His leadership, we do not always know where we are going. This creates a desire within us to look for God's handiwork in the most incidental events of our most ordinary day on this journey. Each incident of each day gives us an opportunity to be taught a precept of God' endless wisdom. The Lord does not expect us to become spiritual giants overnight. But what He asks is that we look for divine wisdom in each incidental situation of the day. As we see the right way, we correct our lifestyle to conform to this way. It is a day-by-day walk and a day-by-day change. This is a walk that God desires of us, to be in constant communion with our Heavenly Father, dependent upon Him in every area of our lives. Were not the children of Israel instructed to follow the Ark of the Covenant when they entered the Promised Land? This is because the Ark represented the presence of God and the children of Israel had never passed this way before ( Joshua 3:3-4).

Joshua 3:3-4, "And they commanded the people, saying, When ye see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, and the priests the Levites bearing it, then ye shall remove from your place, and go after it. Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure: come not near unto it, that ye may know the way by which ye must go: for ye have not passed this way heretofore."

This is the path that we see in Proverbs 10-29, as we behold God's Wisdom of Solomon , precept upon precept, line upon line, here a little, there a little. Thus, the book of Proverbs is organized this way. Although we find sections of these chapters that deal largely with a particular theme, we also see that individual proverbs about our spirit, soul, body and finances are all interwoven within all of these themes. For example, while we may be reading primarily about the tongue is a section of chapters 10 or 12, we also find proverbs about other issues of our life woven within these passages. This is because God feeds us a daily balanced diet. He wants us to learn the biblical principles about each area of the Christian life. For example, if we learned only how to have a pure heart, but failed to learn about prosperity, we would have a heart after God but remain financially poor. This is not God's best for His children. However, if we learned to handle our finances well, but mismanaged our health, we would die at an early age and loose our prosperity to others. This is not God's best. God gives us a daily ration of spiritual, mental, physical and financial lessons on our journey. If we will simply look about us each day, we can learn to recognize these teachings as they are illustrated all around us in the lives of others. You would not want to eat rice 365 days a year. You would not get the minerals and vitamins, protein, fiber and fatty acids that you need for a healthy body. Neither does God want us deficient in any area of our lives. Thus, the proverbs are interwoven in the manner that God leads us on the journey.

This random order may also be influenced by the fact that temptations and trials often come to us in a random order, much because Satan is a creature who is out of order with God's plan for creation. God tells us to do everything decently and in order ( 1 Corinthians 14:40), while Satan gains control of people's lives through chaos and disorder. Although Satan may bring us trials in such random order, he cannot override the divine providence of Almighty God, who is ordering our daily path to the destination that He has predetermined before the foundation of the world ( 1 Corinthians 14:40).

1 Corinthians 14:40, "Let all things be done decently and in order."

We begin our journey with training and severe warnings of its dangers (1-9). We are clearly shown our eternal destination for those who will follow the voice of wisdom (30-31). But the actual journey must be walked one day at a time, seeking His face, trusting that His loving hand is holding us close by His side (10-29). Therefore, these short proverbs represent the daily occurrences and situations that we face on the journey in life. In each of these situations, we are to look for God's ways, for His Wisdom of Solomon , which are found in each of these proverbs. Thus, the book of Proverbs represents our journey in this life. As we walk through each of these phases of our lives, we find ourselves growing in peace along this journey. Each lesson helps us to find rest in the Lord because each part of the journey brings us closer to a place of complete rest in Him.

Once we have arrived at our destination, we then realize that we have been on a journey that has brought us to a place of true rest in this life, where we have learned to deal with life's circumstances with Wisdom of Solomon , understanding and discretion. It has brought us to a place of peace, health and prosperity.

But we can also now see that each proverb has a spiritual meaning behind it as well as a practical application, since the same journey that guides us on our daily walk in this life is the same journey that will guide us into our eternal rest in Heaven. There is this two-fold application of each proverb because every decision that we make in this life affects us in eternity. Therefore, each proverb that we have encountered on this journey has a practical, or temporal application for this life as well as a spiritual, or eternal application that is only understood as one looks at life from its eternal values. This journey teaches us that every decision we make for our daily life should consider the eternal and long-term effects as well as the immediate effects.

Jesus Christ has become our wisdom and understanding, as we learn to be led by the Holy Spirit. It is He who leads us along this spiritual journey in life to a place of peace and rest. When Jesus told His disciples that they knew the way, Thomas asked Jesus to show him the way. When Jesus said that He is the way that leads to the Father, Philip asked to see the Father ( John 14:1-11). The disciples wanted to be able to walk this path by natural sight so that it would be easy to follow. They wanted to be able to see their destination. Jesus explained to them because they had been following Him, they were on the right path to the Father. They had been on the right path since forsaking all and following Him, and this path they knew. But they were expecting this path to lead to an earthly kingdom with Jesus reigning as king. The disciples thought that Jesus Christ was about to set up His earthly kingdom where they would enjoy a position of power and honor. The disciples thought that they would become the member of His Cabinet, or Ministers over each sector of the government. They did not realize until later that the path to the Heavenly Father was a path of shame and sacrifice and even death. Jesus' path took Him to the Cross. People often look for the easy path to follow. When given a choice, many will choose the door that reads "Fame and Pleasure." Instead, Jesus chose the door of "Shame and Sacrifice" and this door led down the path to honor and eternal joy in heaven. The door that promised fame and pleasure takes its victims into disgrace and torment in hell.

This path that Jesus was calling the disciples down took them through great persecutions and even death. The Lord is calling us down a path, but we must choose. The fool in the book of Proverbs always takes the easy path, while the wise chooses the difficult journey. Which path will you choose today?

BIBLIOGRAPHY

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