The Proverbs of Solomon

Discovery for Students

The Proverbs of Solomon

OVERVIEW
DAYBREAK

SOURCE FOR QUESTIONS
Proverbs 10:1 through 22:16

KEY VERSE FOR MEMORIZATION
“How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver!” (Proverbs 16:16)

BACKGROUND

This central section of the Book of Proverbs (Proverbs 10:1 through Proverbs 22:16) contains the bulk of the sayings which the Israelites attributed to King Solomon. Both this and the first section begin with the same four words: “The proverbs of Solomon…” These maxims offer practical wisdom for godly living applicable at every stage of life.

Five major themes in which virtues are contrasted with their corresponding vices are the focus of this portion of the book.

  • Over sixty verses contrast righteousness with wickedness.
  • Approximately sixty verses contrast wisdom with foolishness.
  • More than fifty verses contrast good conversation with evil speaking.
  • Over forty verses contrast riches with poverty.
  • Approximately twenty verses contrast diligence with laziness.

While references to these themes appear throughout the section, Solomon did not group the proverbs by theme. Rather, he moved from one subject to another in a natural order, similar to a conversation. For example, one proverb might explain the previous one. Another proverb might contrast with the previous one.

A variety of stand-alone proverbs are also found in these twelve chapters. Most are couplets — two sentences or phrases in one verse. In the majority of these, the parallelism is antithetic (the two phrases are directly opposed to each other).

QUESTIONS

  1. The key verse, Proverbs 16:16, states that it is better to get wisdom than to get gold, and that understanding is to be chosen over silver. Why is this true? Why are wisdom and understanding so valuable?
  2. The wisdom contained in these proverbs is presented in several distinct literary forms. In an antithetical (contrasting) proverb, a virtue identified in the first part of the proverb is contrasted with a corresponding vice in the second part, or vice-versa. A synonymous (amplifying) proverb repeats and reaffirms the same thought in different words. A synthetic (explanatory) proverb presents one thought in an initial section and then explains or completes this thought in the concluding portion. Using these descriptions, identify which literary form is used in each of the following proverbs.

    Proverbs 14:12

    Proverbs 14:19 

    Proverbs 14:34 
  3. Over sixty verses in this section of Proverbs contrast the righteous with the wicked. In the following verses, what are the positive consequences of righteousness and the negative consequences of wickedness? Proverbs 10:6; 11:19; 12:2; 15:29
  4. Approximately sixty verses in this section of Proverbs contrast wisdom and folly. Several of these proverbs point out the importance of listening to instruction, or receiving counsel (see Proverbs 12:15; 15:5; 17:10; and 19:20). Why is this so important?
  5. Words have power. They can damage and destroy, or encourage and build up. The contrast between good words and evil speaking is also a focus of this section. What positive aspects of good speech are brought out in Proverbs 12:25; 15:23; and 16:24?
  6. Another frequent topic in this section of Proverbs is the contrast between riches and poverty, the rich and the poor. Find at least one example and cite the principle which the verse you chose expresses.
  7. Over twenty verses in this section of Proverbs contrast diligence and laziness. A “sluggard” is a lazy or slothful person, and he is contrasted with a diligent or hardworking person. What are some reasons to be diligent and hardworking? Proverbs 10:4-5; 19:15
  8. Why are the five major themes developed in this section of Proverbs still so applicable today? (See the summary in the lesson background.)
  9. Which of the proverbs in today’s text spoke most directly to your heart, and why?

CONCLUSION

As we study Proverbs, may God help us to discover the nuggets of wisdom which will most enrich our souls and enlighten our minds. These precious jewels of knowledge are of great value when they are applied to our own hearts and lives!