Before I began my studies on the book of Proverbs, I watched the video Overview:Proverbs, this is where I gained my insight and knowledge surrounding the context of this book. If you are looking to start studying Proverbs I really recommend watching the video to get some background information that will help you throughout the study.
The purpose of Proverbs is to help us develop a set of practical skills for living well in God’s world. This is explained through the first section of the book:
Proverbs 1:1-6 [NIV]
The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel: for gaining wisdom and instruction; for understanding words of insight; for receiving instruction in prudent behaviour doing what is right and just and fair; for giving prudence to those who are simple, knowledge and discretion to the young— let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance— for understanding proverbs and parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise.
Yes, that is a bit wordy and long so I am going to give some definitions to help you to try and understand the key concepts.
Firstly, in the video I linked above, they gave the Hebrew translation for Wisdom, which is Khokhmah, meaning: skilled and applied knowledge. Before I began reading I also wanted to know the direct definition of Proverb, which is: a short, well-known pithy saying, stating a general truth or piece of advice. Lastly I was struggling to get my head around the word Prudent, which according to the Oxford dictionary means: acting with or showing care and thought for the future. Putting all of this together gave me more of an understanding as to the purpose of this book. It is clear that the wisdom in the book of Proverbs is not a law or prophecy… It is insight that has been gathered throughout generations of Gods’ people about how to live well in God’s world.
Let’s take a look at my overview of the book of Proverbs…
Proverbs chapters 1-9 consists of ten speeches from a father to a son attempting to push him towards wisdom, whilst warning him of the consequences of evil behaviour. As well as this, there are also four poems that personify wisdom as a lady.
Proverbs chapters 10-29 go into detail and give advice on many different topics such as: family life, work, poverty, friendship, marriage, sex, lust, ethics/morals and happiness.
Proverbs chapter 30 is a range of poems written by a man named Agur. When reading this chapter you can get the picture that Agur is an example of how someone should read and take away from the book of Proverbs.
Proverbs chapter 31 is the last chapter of the book, and is a range of poems written by a man named Lemuel. These poems were written by him as a way to pass on his wisdom he got from his mother.
Overall I recommend to read the book of Proverbs if you would like to study clear stated advice on how to live successfully in God’s world in a way that is honoring him. Knowing the context of Proverbs is so important when it comes to trying to understand the meaning of the chapters. If you finish reading the book of Proverbs, the two other wisdom books in the Bible that you can study are Job and Ecclesiastes!