KEY VERSE FOR MEMORIZATION
“He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13)
Proverbs 25:1 marks the conclusion of proverbs of the wise men of Israel and the beginning of the third and final section of the Book of Proverbs. According to this verse, the final proverbs authored by Solomon (chapters 25 through 29) were collected and copied by the aides of Hezekiah, King of Judah (715-686 B.C.), who restored the Temple some two hundred years after the time of Solomon. The word translated copied in this verse literally means “removed from one document to another,” likely indicating that by the time of Hezekiah, the original documents were in poor condition and needed to be copied in order to preserve the teachings. It is possible that these men also incorporated some of the oral proverbs attributed to Solomon into their collection, along with those that had been written down. Chapter 30 was written by Agur, of whom little is known except that he was a wise teacher who may have come from the kingdom of Massa in northern Arabia. Chapter 31 was written by King Lemuel, who is believed to have been from the kingdom of Massa as well.
This portion of the book contains a special emphasis on wisdom for leaders: it stresses the king’s role and covers topics associated with royal responsibility and appropriate behavior of officials. Rather than reminding leaders what good conduct entails, many of these proverbs instruct the court in what behaviors to encourage in their leaders. Relationships with others is another common thread that runs throughout these chapters, with insight offered regarding one’s association not only with rulers, but with fools, scoundrels, the poor, the wicked, and the righteous.
Chapters 25 through 29 vary somewhat in style and form from the portions of the book attributed to Solomon. These proverbs are arranged more frequently by topic; at times several sequential verses may address the same subject. While chapters 30 and 31 were authored by individuals other than Solomon, it is significant that their words were considered worthy of inclusion in this collection. The Book of Proverbs ends with the beautiful portrait of a virtuous wife and mother written in the style of an acrostic poem — each of the twenty-two stanzas begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet.
A person who heeds the wisdom offered in the Book of Proverbs will have a successful and fulfilling life.