The Old Testament | The Books of Poetry


Things to know
Where does the book begin?

Proverbs begins with some words that Solomon gave his son. Find wisdom and you find life.

Where does the book end?

Proverbs ends with a long poem about a honorable woman.

People to know

The Fool
The Wise Man

Places to go

Wisdom calls
Proverbs 1:20-33

Trust in the Lord
Proverbs 3:1-12

Do not take what is not yours
Proverbs 5:1-23

A poor man is better than a cheat
Proverbs 19:1-29

The writer described an honourable woman
Proverbs 31:10-31

The Story of Proverbs

The book of Proverbs is a collection like Psalms. But this book is not a group of songs. It is a group of many wise sayings. David’s son Solomon wrote or gathered most of these wise words. He wrote them during his life. Later, other people added more wise words. But all of them are like the good advice of a wise father to his son. That is how the book begins. A father told his son to listen to his words and to remember your mother’s teaching’.The father told his son these things so that he would become wise.

In the first part, Solomon told his son that wisdom is important. The reason that we should want to be wise is because God is wise. His wisdom is so great that all true wisdom comes from God. God will always give wisdom to the man or woman who looks for it. We can learn how to be wise by listening to God’s words. That is what the book of Proverbs is – wise words that help us find wisdom.

Solomon wanted his son to know that he had a choice to make. He must choose between wise ways and foolish ways. People who choose wisdom show that they respect God. But evil* people are fools. They do not respect God and their path will be difficult. God will punish evil people. So Solomon advised his son to study wisdom.

Then, he warned his son about the dangers of evil*. Evil* people can hurt a young man. Evil* advice will lead to trouble. If you follow the ways of evil* people, you will not find good things. You will only find shame.

The first nine chapters are filled with this good advice. The next chapters are filled with the wise words of Solomon. They talk about almost every part of life.

There are words about being honest in business.

‘The Lord* hates it when people use scales to cheat other people. But he is pleased when people use honest weights.’[1]

There are words about how to behave towards the poor.

‘Anyone who hurts poor people makes fun of their Maker. But anyone who is kind to those in need honours God.’[2]

There are words on how to be a good friend.

‘A friend loves at all times. They are there to help when trouble comes’[3].

There are words that tell how to care for your enemies.

‘If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat. If he has no water, give him water to drink.’[4]

But these words are not just good advice for this life. They give us advice that prepares us for the life to come. Proverbs talks about this life and the life to come. Proverbs reminds us that God is a wise judge. He remembers what we do and we will answer to him for what we do. There are no stories in Proverbs. But God shows us many things about himself in the book.

The last parts of the book are wise words from three different people. One records the words of man named Agur. One is a story from the mother of King Lemuel. She gave him wise advice about finding a good wife. Lemuel remembered those words and wrote them down. The book ends with this poem about the noble woman Lemuel’s mother told him about.[5]

Solomon had many wise things to say. But he did not follow his own advice. 2 Chronicles tells us that he did many things that were not wise. True wisdom is not simply knowing what is good and right. True wisdom is living that way.

  • [1] Proverbs 11:1
  • [2] Proverbs 14:31
  • [3] Proverbs 17:17
  • [4] Proverbs 25:21
  • [5] Proverbs 31:1-9

The Old Testament | The Books of Poetry