Lessons From Proverbs Study No. 140

The Book of Proverbs is one of my favorite portions of Scripture. It is basic, and especially helpful for young people, or those new in the faith. This study analyzes some of the lessons we can gain from Proverbs.

How Proverbs Teach Us

Proverbs are pro-verbs, which describe positive actions, showing us how to live. The over-all lesson of the Book of Proverbs is that wisdom comes from Godís Holy Spirit. Wisdom comes from above.

There are five purposes of Proverbs, given in verses 2-6 of chapter 1:

(1) To know wisdom and instruction,

(2) To perceive words of understanding,

(3) To receive instruction (correction) of wisdom, justice, judgment and equity, so that we know what is right,

(4) To give subtility to the simple, and knowledge and discretion to the young person,

(5) To deeply understand the words of the wise.

Paul N. Benware, author of Survey of the Old Testament, page 158, says,

Because Proverbs touches on every area of life, it is a favorite book of believers. It is not only relevant to life, but shows that God is interested in every area of life.

Chapters 1-29 of the Book of Proverbs were written by King Solomon around 950 B.C. Proverbs 30 was written by Agur the son of Jakeh, and Proverbs 31 by King Lemuel. Some say these are veiled references to Solomon himself.

A proverb is a brief, often easy-to-remember, saying that is used to communicate deep spiritual truth. The root of the Hebrew word for proverb means "to govern," or "rule." Proverbs are wise, concise sayings used to govern our lives and conduct.

Proverbs often present a contrast between the right way and the wrong way, or the wise and fools (e.g. 15:20, "A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish man despiseth his mother."). Sometimes, proverbs parallel similar concepts (e.g. 19:13, "A foolish son is the calamity of his father: and the contentions of a wife are a continual dropping.").

Wisdom Begins With the Fear of God

In summary, Proverbs show that wisdom begins with a right relationship with God, (1:7, 9:10). Unless you "fear the LORD" (revere and respect Him in a right relationship), you cannot live an abundant life.

How do you respond to the call of wisdom? If you are wise, you will heed and receive the Truth, and become discerning (prudent). On the other hand, the naive person doesnít listen to wisdom, and is easily deceived in life, "doing his own thing." The scoffer is cynical and sarcastic toward Godís wisdom and canít live rightly because of his attitude. And, worse of all, the fool has rejected Godís wisdom, lives wickedly, and will ultimately suffer the consequences of sin. So, be wise and listen to the wisdom of Proverbs.

Wisdom comes from God, but we have to seek it out (2:1-12). We should not stop with fearing the LORD, but go on through much study to learn more of Godís Truth and increase in wisdom. This will keep us from making tragic errors in judgment (e.g. 7:6-23), and bring abundant blessings (8:35).

Can we learn from Solomon, who started out seeking wisdom, and later turned from the Almighty to serve idols, and experience life apart from the Creator? Solomon was the ideal author for Proverbs, because he is an object lesson for us. His failures validate the truths he presents.

Proverbs By Topic Teaches Lessons

The Book of Proverbs teaches us about adultery, anger, children, correction, counsel, fear, fools, marriage, poverty and riches, pride, tithing, weights and measures, wine, work, and many other principles. Letís learn by grouping the proverbs together by related topic. In the following section, I will paraphrase the verses, but you should follow along in your own Bible.

Adultery Leads to Death

Illicit sex seems enticing, but actually is very dangerous and harmful, leading to death. Today, many young people feel they have to live together to get to know each other to decide if they want to get married. However, marriage is a commitment for life, and you do not learn commitment and faithfulness by being uncommitted and unfaithful! How are you going to know who you are marrying? You need faith from God, you need counsel. You need Godís power to work a miracle to help you find a good wife or husband from the LORD.

2:16-19 A strange woman leads to death

5:3-21 Lips of a strange woman are like honeycomb, but the end of dallying with her is like wormwood

6:24-35 Can a man take fire into his bosom, and his clothes not be burned?

7:5-27 The harlotís house is the way of death

9:13-18 Stolen waters are sweet, but the dead are there

22:14 Mouth of strange woman is a deep pit

23:27-28 A whore is a deep ditch, lying in wait for her prey

29:3 He that keeps company with harlots spends his fatherís substance

30:20 Adulterous woman says: "I have done no wickedness."

Anger: It is Prudent to Control It!

Controlling your own anger shows great strength of character. Anyone can explode in wrath, but a really strong person can control his/her own emotions.

16:32 One slow to anger is better than the mighty, rule your spirit

19:11 It is prudent to defer anger, a glory to pass over a transgression

19:19 A man of great wrath shall suffer punishment

22:24-25 Make no friendship with an angry man

25:28 If you canít rule your own spirit, you are like a broken down city

Animals: Be Kind to Them

Righteous people are kind to their animals.

12:10 A righteous man regards the life of his beast

Changers Are Not to Be Trusted

You should avoid people who always change what they believe and practice.

24:21 Meddle not with those who are given to change

Children Are to Be Instructed By Their Parents

Parents need to discipline their children, and children need to heed the instruction of their parents. Some of us children have never grown up! We need to listen to our Heavenly Fatherís instructions.

1:8-9 Listen to your parentsí instruction

1:10-19 Donít be enticed by sinners, sin results in misery and death

2:1-4 Listen to wisdom, cry out for, seek her as silver

3:1 Donít forget Godís laws and commandments

3:11-12 Don't despise Godís chastening

4:1 Hear ye children, the instruction of your fathers

10:1 A wise son makes a glad father

13:1 A wise son hears his fatherís instruction

13:22 A good man leaves an inheritance to his childrenís children

13:24 He that spares his rod hates his son

15:20 A wise son makes a glad father

17:6 Grandchildren are the crown of old men, the glory of children are their fathers

17:25 A foolish son is grief and bitterness to his parents

19:13 A foolish son is the calamity of his father

19:18 Chasten your son while there is hope

19:26-27 He that wasteth his father, chases away his mother, causes shame, brings reproach

20:7 A just manís children are blessed after him

20:11 Even a child is known by his doings

20:20 Whoso curses his parents, his candle shall be put out

22:6 Train up a child in way he should go, and when he is old, he wonít depart from it

22:15 Foolishness is bound in childís heart, but the rod of correction will drive it far from him

23:13-14 Withhold not correction, punishment shall deliver him from the grave

23:22 Listen to your parents

23:24-25 Parents of wise children shall have joy

28:24 Robbers of parents are destroyers

29:15,17 Child left to himself brings his mother to shame

30:11 A generation that curses father, doesnít bless mother

30:17 Ravens shall pick out the eye that mocks its father

Correction Is Necessary

A wise person receives instruction, but a fool hates reproof. We need to respond, and learn, by the correction we receive.

9:7-9 Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate you; rebuke a wise man and he will love you

10:17 Be in the way of life: keep instruction

15:10 Correction is grievous to him that forsakes the way, he that hates reproof shall die

15:31 The ear that hears the reproof of life lives among the wise

Counsel Results in Wise Decisions

One should seek, and listen to, wise counsel in order to make proper decisions. In the multitude of counsel there is safety. Young people today need counsel more then ever before, especially in regards to marriage and finance. Few realize that, in spite of technological advances, parents today are generally better educated than their offspring, because our educational system has deteriorated.

11:14 In the multitude of counsel there is safety

12:15 He that hearkens to counsel is wise

15:22 Without counsel, purposes are disappointed

19:20-21 Hear counsel, receive wise instruction from LORD

20:18 Every purpose is established by counsel

20:5 Counsel is like deep water, needs to be drawn out

24:6 In the multitude of counselors there is safety

27:9 Hearty counsel rejoices the heart

Education Results in Success

One should seek, and obtain, a good education in order to succeed.

14:35 Kings favor a wise servant

22:17 Apply your heart to Godís knowledge (also 23:12)

24:3 Through wisdom a house is built

Donít Envy the Wicked

Donít envy evil persons, realize that in the end, they are losers.

24:1 Donít envy evil men

Fear of the LORD Leads to Life

Proper fear and respect of our Heavenly Father, in departing from evil, is the beginning of wisdom, and leads to eternal life.

1:7 Fear of LORD is the beginning of wisdom

1:29 Haters of knowledge donít choose to fear the LORD

1:33 Listen to God, and you will be quiet from fear of evil

2:4-5 Seek wisdom, and you will understand the fear of the LORD

3:6 Acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths

3:7 Fear of the LORD is to depart from evil

3:24 When you lie down, you shall not be afraid

8:13 Fear of LORD is to hate evil

9:10 Fear of LORD is beginning of wisdom

10:27 Fear of LORD prolongs your life

14:26-27 Fear of LORD is a fountain of life

15:16 Better a little with fear of LORD than great treasure with trouble

19:23 Fear of LORD tends to life

Donít Be a Fool!

Fools despise wisdom and instruction, hate knowledge, and mock sin. Considering their end result, we should avoid fools.

1:7 Fools despise wisdom and instruction

1:22 Fools hate knowledge

1:32 Fools prosperity shall destroy them

3:35 Shame is the promotion of fools

14:7 Go from the presence of a foolish man

14:9 Fools make a mock at sin

26:4-5 Answer a fool, donít answer a fool, according to his folly

28:26 He that trusts in his own heart is a fool

We Need True Friends

True friends build you up, but in order to have friends, you have to make the effort to be friendly.

17:17 A friend loves at all times, a brother is born for adversity

18:24 A man that has friends must be friendly

27:17 Iron sharpens iron, like a man his friend

Government: Righteous Rulers Needed

Good government comes from having righteous rulers.

29:2 When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice

29:4 A wise king establishes the land, but bribery overthrows it

29:12 If a ruler listens to lies, all his servants are wicked

29:14 If a king faithfully judges poor, his throne will be established forever

Health Results From Inner Happiness

Happy people are likely to be healthy. Much sickness comes from unhappy, wrong living.

15:13 A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance

15:15 A merry heart has a continual feast

17:22 A merry heart does good like medicine, a broken spirit dries the bones

Honey is Good ó In Moderation

It is good to eat honey, but too much makes you sick.

24:13 Eat honey and honeycomb, because it is good

25:16,27 Donít eat too much honey, donít boast

Law Keeping Is the Basis of Wisdom

Those who keep the law are happy and blessed.

28:4 Forsakers of the law praise the wicked

28:7 Whoso keeps the law is a wise son

28:9 Prayers of law rejectors are an abomination

29:18 With no vision, the people perish; happy is keeper of the law

Liars Are an Abomination to God

God hates liars, but will establish those who tell the truth, forever.

12:19 The lip of truth shall be established forever

12:22 Lying lips are abomination to the LORD

19:5, 9 A false witness shall not be unpunished

21:6 Getting treasures by a lying tongue is vanity

Marriage: A Good Wife is From the LORD

A virtuous, good wife is a priceless gift from God, but it is better to live alone than live with a contentious woman.

11:22 A fair woman without discretion is like a jewel in a swineís snout

12:4 A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband

14:1 A wise woman builds her house; a foolish one plucks it down

18:22 A good wife is from the LORD

19:13 The contentions of a wife are like a continual [rain] dropping

19:14 A prudent wife is from the LORD

21:9 Better to dwell in an attic, than in a big house with a brawling woman

21:19 Better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and angry woman

25:24 Better to live in an attic, than in a wide house with a brawling woman

27:15 Unceasing raindrops and a contentious woman are alike

30:19 A wonderful thing: way of a man with a maid

30:23 Earth cannot bear an odious woman when she is married (like Mrs. Olesen on the television show, Little House on the Prairie)

31:10-31 Description of a virtuous woman

Perserverance: Never Give Up!

Never give up, and with Godís help, you will succeed. Realize that the Almighty is the source of your strength.

24:10 If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small

24:16 A just man falls 7 times, and rises again

Poor and Rich: True Riches Come From God

We should help the poor, and not trust in riches, which fly away. It is better to be neither poor nor rich.

10:22 The blessing of the LORD makes rich without sorrow

11:4 Riches donít profit in the day of wrath

11:25 Liberal soul shall be made fat

11:28 He that trusts in his riches shall fall

13:7 Some make themselves rich, but have nothing; others make themselves poor, yet have great riches

13:11 Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished

16:8 A little with righteousness better than great revenues without right

17:5 Whoso mocks the poor reproaches his Maker

18:23 Poor use entreaties, rich answer roughly

19:4 Wealth makes many friends, but the poor is separated from his neighbor

19:6-7 The poor donít have friends, every one is a friend to him that gives gifts

19:17 He that pities the poor lends to the LORD, He will repay

21:13 Whoso stops his ears at the cry of the poor shall cry, but not be heard

22:1 A good name is better than great riches

22:7 The rich rule over the poor, borrower is servant to lender

22:16 Both the oppressor of poor, and the giver to the rich, shall come to want

22:22 Rob not the poor, neither oppress the afflicted

23:4-5 Labor not to rich, for riches fly away like an eagle

28:27 He that gives to the poor shall not lack

29:7 The righteous consider the cause of the poor

30:7-9 Give me neither poverty nor riches

31:9 Plead for the cause of the poor and needy

Pride Brings You Low; Humility Produces Honor

Pride leads to shame and destruction, but righteous humility receives honor from the Almighty. God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Donít think you "know it all," for you need God.

11:2 Pride comes with shame, humility comes with wisdom

15:33 Before honor is humility

16:18-19 Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall

22:4 By humility and fear of LORD are riches, honor, and life

26:12 A man wise in his own conceit is worse than a fool

27:2 Let another man praise you

29:23 Pride brings a man low; humility produces honor

30:13 A generation with lofty eyes

Tithing Results in Blessings

Honoring God with tithes produces blessings.

3:9-10 Honor God with your substance, He will bless you

11:24 Give much, you increase; give little and you become poor

Control Your Tongue, and You Control Your Life

Your tongue can either lead to your destruction, or your eternal life. We must control our tongues, speaking words that tend to life, rather than be ensnared by our words.

10:11 The mouth of the righteous is a well of life

10:12 Love covers sins

10:18-21 In multitude of words there is sin

10:31 Mouth of just brings forth wisdom

11:9 A hypocrite with his mouth destroys his neighbor

11:13 A talebearer reveals secrets

12:13 The wicked is ensnared by the transgression of his lips

12:14 A man shall be satisfied with good by fruit of his mouth

12:18 The tongue of wise is health

13:2-3 He that keeps his mouth, keeps his life

15:1-2 A soft answer turns away wrath

15:4 A wholesome tongue is a tree of life

15:28 The righteous study to answer, but the wicked mouth pours out evil

16:24 Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to soul, health to bones

16:27-28 An ungodly man digs up evil, his lips a burning fire; a whisperer separates friends

17:9 Love covers a transgression, gossip separates friends

17:27-28 Spare your words, even a fool holds his peace and is counted wise ó in other words, "a closed mouth gathers no flies"

18:4-8 A foolís mouth is his destruction, and the words of a talebearer are as wounds

18:13 It is a shame to answer a matter before you hear it

18:19-21 A brother offended is harder to be won [back] than a strong city; death and life are in the tongue

20:19 Meddle not with flatterers

21:23 Whoso keeps his tongue, keeps his soul from troubles

25:11 A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver

26:20 Strife ceases when there is no talebearer

26:22 A talebearerís words are like wounds

26:23-28 A flattering tongue works ruin

27:5 Open rebuke is better than secret love

28:23 Rebuke is better than flattery

29:11 The fool utters all his mind, but a wise man keeps it in until later

29:20 A man hasty in words is worse than a fool

God Hates Cheating, Using Different Weights

Donít cheat others; be fair and honest in all your dealings. If others cheat you, donít reply in like manner.

11:1 A false balance is an abomination to the LORD

20:10, 23 Divers weights are an abomination to the LORD

20:14 The buyer degrades product to get a good deal, then boasts of his gain

Excess Wine Leads to Poverty

Drunkenness leads to misery and poverty, yet wine has a use in relieving pain and sorrow. Today, this applies also to drugs.

20:1 Wine is a mocker, strong drink raging

21:17 He that loves wine & oil shall not be rich

23:20-21 Be not among wine bibbers or gluttons: both shall come to poverty

23:29-35 Drunkenness leads to sorrow, contentions and babbling

31:6-7 Give strong drink to those ready to perish

Wisdom: The Principal Thing

It is better to have wisdom from God, than to have all the riches in the world. Wisdom from God is the principle thing: knowing what is right (knowledge), choosing to do the right (understanding), and doing the right (wisdom), with the Almightyís help.

1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom

1:20-33 Wisdom cries out, but few listen

2:1-9 Seek wisdom, God will give it

2:10-15 Wisdom produces discretion, preserves you from the evil man

2:16-19 Wisdom delivers you from the strange woman

2:20-22 Wisdom leads you to walk in the paths of righteousness with other good men

3:21 Keep sound wisdom and discretion

3:35 The wise shall inherit glory

4:7 Wisdom is the principal thing, with understanding

14:12 A way seems right to a man, but ends in death

16:16 Wisdom better than gold, understanding better than silver

16:25 A way seems right to man, ends in death

27:12 A prudent man foresees the evil, and hides himself

31:4-5 Rulers shouldnít drink wine, lest they forget law & pervert judgment

Work and You Will Have Enough to Eat

The lazy person tends to be poor; if you diligently work, you shall have your needs supplied. Hard labor results in profit, but the lazy person shall have nothing. There is a tremendous value in productive work. God created man to work!

6:6-11 Go to ant, you sluggard

10:4-5 He becomes poor that deals with a slack hand, but the diligent shall be rich

10:26 The sluggard is like smoke to the eyes

12:11 He that tills his land shall be satisfied with bread

12:24 The hand of the diligent shall bear rule, but the slothful shall be under tribute

13:4 The soul of sluggard desires, and has nothing, the soul of diligent shall be made fat

14:23 In all labor there is profit, but talk of lips tends to penury

15:19 The way of slothful man is as an hedge of thorns

19:15 An idle soul shall suffer hunger

19:24 The slothful man wonít work

20:4 Sluggards wonít plow because of winter, and shall beg in harvest

20:13 Love not sleep, lest you come to poverty

21:25-26 The desire of the slothful kills him, for he refuses to work

22:13 A slothful man says "there is a lion without," as an excuse for not working.

22:29 See a diligent man? he shall stand before kings

24:30-34 Poverty comes to the slothful

26:13-16 The lazy stick to their bed like a door to its hinges

28:19 He that tills his land shall have plenty of bread

Miscellaneous Proverbs

Here are a few unclassified tidbits of knowledge from the Book of Proverbs:

25:21-22 Give your enemy food and water, heap coals of fire on his head

27:21 Know the state of your flocks

28:13 He that covers his sins shall not prosper

Read, and live by, the Book of Proverbs. It is the most practical book of the Bible. W