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Morrish Bible Dictionary
Proverbs, Book of
In this book God has furnished, through the wisest of men, principles and precepts for the guidance and security of the believer in passing through the temptations to which he is exposed in an evil world. The admonitions speak in terms of affectionate warning 'as to sons:' Hebrews 12:5 . Under symbolic terms, such as 'the evil man' and 'the strange woman,' the great forms of evil in the world, violent self-will, and corrupting folly, are laid bare in their course and end. Wisdom is shown as the alone guard against one or the other. Wisdom is presented, not as a faculty residing in man, but as an object to be diligently sought after and acquired. It is often personified, and is spoken of as lifting up her voice. In Proverbs 8 , under the idea of wisdom, we have doubtless Christ presented as the resource that was with God from 'the beginning of His way,' so that God could independently of man establish and bring into effect His thoughts of grace for men.
In detail the book refers to the world, showing what things are to be sought and what to be avoided, and evinces that in the government of God a man reaps according to what he sows, irrespective of the spiritual blessings of God in grace beyond and above this world. It maintains integrity in the earthly relationships of this life, which cannot be violated with impunity. The instruction rises altogether above mere human prudence and sagacity, for "the fear of the Lord is the beginning [or 'principal part,' margin ] of knowledge." We have in it the wisdom of God for the daily path of human life.
The book divides itself into two parts: the first nine chapters give general principles, and Proverbs 10 onwards are the proverbs themselves. This latter portion divides itself into three parts: Proverbs 10 : to Proverbs 24 , the proverbs of Solomon; Proverbs 25 to Proverbs 29 , also the proverbs of Solomon, which were gathered by "the men of Hezekiah king of Judah." Proverbs 30 gives the words of Agur; and Proverbs 31 the words of king Lemuel.
The Proverbs is a book of poetry. The proverbs vary in style: some are antithetical couplets, one being the opposite of the other, as "a wise son maketh a glad father; but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother." Others are synthetical, the second sentence enforcing the first, as "The Lord hath made all things for himself, yea, even the wicked for the day of evil." See POETRY.
In Proverbs 1 the purport of the proverbs is pointed out: it is that instruction in wisdom, justice, judgement, and equity might be received: the fear of the Lord is the starting point. Satan would of course oppose this, so warnings are at once given to avoid the enticings of sinners. Wisdom cries aloud and in the streets: her instructions are for all. Retribution is for such as refuse her call.
Proverbs 2 gives the results of following in the path of wisdom, whereasthe wicked will be rooted out.
Proverbs 3 shows that it is the fear of God, and subjection to Hisword, that is the only true path in an evil world.
Proverbs 4 enforces the study of wisdom: it will surely bringinto blessing. Evil must be avoided and be kept at a distance. The heart, the eye, and the feet must be watched.
Proverbs 5 warns a man against leaving the wife of his youth (the lawful connection) for the strange woman, which leads to utter demoralisation.
Proverbs 6 enjoins one not to be surety for another. Wisdom is not slothful, violent, nor deceitful. There are seven things which are an abomination to the Lord. The strange woman is again pointed out to be avoided as fire : there is no ransom for adultery.
Proverbs 7 again shows the traps laid by the strange woman, which alas, are often too successful. Her house is the way to hell (Sheol).
Proverbs 8 proclaims that wisdom calls, and invites all to listen: it is valuable for all kings, princes, rulers, judges. With wisdom are linked durable riches and righteousness: her fruit is better than gold. All God's works in creation were carried out in wisdom. This introduces Christ as the wisdom of God , from Proverbs 8:22 . He was there before the work of creation was begun. His delights were with the sons of men (Proverbs 8:31 ), with which agrees the song of the heavenly host at the birth of the Lord Jesus: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward man." Luke 2:14 . Wisdom says, "Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors. For whoso findeth me findeth life."
Proverbs 9 . Wisdom is established: she has her house, her food, her bread, and her wine. Her maidens are sent forth with loving invitations to enter. Again the world has its counter attractions by the strange woman; but the dead are there, and her guests in the depths of Sheol.
Thus far are the general principles on which wisdom acts: in Proverbs 10 to the end are the proverbs themselves. They enter into details of dangers and how they are to be avoided, and show the path that wisdom leads into, and in which there is safety.
Proverbs 30 has a heading, "The words of Agur, the son of Jakeh, even the prophecy: the man spake unto Ithiel, even unto Ithiel and Ucal." As these names are not known, it has been supposed that they are symbolical, and that Agur refers to Solomon. Whether this is so or not does not in any way affect the value of the proverbs in the chapter. There are six sets of four things:
Four generations that are evil. (Proverbs 30:11-14 .)
Four things that are insatiable. (Proverbs 30:15,16 )
Four things that are inscrutable. (Proverbs 30:18,19 )
Four things that are intolerable. (Proverbs 30:21-23 .)
Four things that are weak, yet wise. (Proverbs 30:24-28 .)
Four things that are very stately. (Proverbs 30:29-31 .)
Proverbs 32 . Here are "the words of king Lemuel, the prophecy that his mother taught him." Who king Lemuel was is not known: this has caused some to suppose that Solomon is again alluded to. The first nine verses speak of the character of a king according to wisdom. The principal things are that his strength should not be given unto women, nor to strong drink, and that his mouth should be opened for those ready to perish, the poor, and the needy. The rest of the chapter is devoted to the description of a virtuous woman. She fills her house with good things, and brings prosperity to the household and honour to her husband. The king and the virtuous woman may in some respects be typical of Christ and the church.
Christians should study the Book of Proverbs, for (even when properly occupied with heavenly things, and the interests of Christ on earth) they are apt to overlook the need of wisdom from heaven to pass through this evil world, and to manage their affairs on earth in the fear of God.
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Morrish, George. Entry for 'Proverbs, Book of'. Morrish Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/mbd/p/proverbs-book-of.html. 1897.