Proverbs contains some of the most applicable nuggets of truth in all of the Bible. Most of the proverbs are pithy statements brimming over with imagery from the real world. This approach allows us to see very clearly how any particular proverb might be applied to any number of everyday situations we encounter—from getting out of bed in the morning to building a strong foundation in our relationships with others. Allow Proverbs to refocus your attention on all the hidden moments of your life.
View Chuck Swindoll's chart of Proverbs , which divides the book into major sections and highlights themes and key verses. Who wrote the book? Where are we? Why is Proverbs so important? What's the big idea? How do I apply this? Allen P. Kenneth L.
What Is a Proverb?
Barker and John R. So in a bold move she tells the young men that when disaster hits them and it is coming she will laugh and mock them, apparently just as they have responded to her — A slight but significant shift in pronouns occurs between and This clue denotes that her audience has changed between v. She no longer speaks to the young men, but explains and defends her behavior to another audience; the young men become an object lesson. They have rejected everything she has tried to teach them But Wisdom assures this second audience that those who listen to her voice will be secure and will have no reason to fear disaster This second text featuring Woman Wisdom is a bold contrast to her first appearance.
To begin, the writer speaks about Woman Wisdom; she herself does not speak. The ominous threatening tone of the first speech is also replaced with an encomium a text of high praise of Wisdom.
Who wrote the book?
She is more than or better than wealth and jewels a , and incomparable to any other desire b. She holds long life in one hand genuine life that is good, a. And in her other hand she holds wealth and honor b. The paths she travels and implicitly invites the reader to walk with her are pleasant and peaceful Wisdom, however, is the tree that provides the life God has always intended for humanity. The catch? To us it sounds as if the father expects the son to treat Wisdom like his sister. The Song of Songs, however, corrects our misunderstanding by its use of the same phrase:.
You have captured my heart, my sister, my bride! Song a CEB How beautiful is your loving, my sister, my bride! Song a CEB. Only marriage to this woman will keep the son safe from involvement with evil women. After Wisdom calls to readers for attention —3 , she claims the trustworthy nature of her teaching; she speaks truth and righteousness in straightforward words —9. Woman Wisdom continues to bolster confidence in her words by explaining that she is the force that enables kings to rule, princes to order righteous decrees, rulers to govern, and judges to make right decisions — She loves those who love her and provides them with wealth, honor, and righteousness — In fact, what she gives is better than gold or silver Woman Wisdom walks on the paths of justice and righteousness and provides for those who love and walk with her — Next, Woman Wisdom reaches back to a memory before the beginning of time to describe her relationship to the Lord:.
Wisdom describes her relationship to the Lord with three remarkable Hebrew verbs.
I. The first principle is to recognize the characteristics of a proverb.
The first, qanah , appears in v. It has overtones of pregnancy or formation in the womb, similar to the meaning of qanah in Gen 4 and Ps I [Eve] have produced qanah a man with the help of the Lord. Ps 8. The third term, from the verb root hyl a, 25b , has some connection to the pain of childbirth or childbirth itself Deut ; Job ; Isa Together these verbs express a unique relationship between the Lord and Woman Wisdom. Far before the creation of the world, the Lord created, brought forth or gave birth to, and appointed Woman Wisdom. On the other hand, before our imaginations run away from us, we must remember that the sages are personifying Wisdom as a woman—or here as a female child of the Lord, just as they personified Wisdom as a mighty prophet in Prov 1.
Yes, the sages claim some sense of divine birth for Wisdom, but only as a vivid literary way of expressing the close relationship between wisdom and the Lord. Thus Woman Wisdom implies that she is a child or daughter of the Lord—a way to say that wisdom originates from God. Second, the sages continue this personification of wisdom in Prov 8 with reference to creation in vv. Woman Wisdom precedes and plays a role at creation.
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Exactly what role she plays, however, is one of the greatest puzzles in the book of Proverbs: the translation of a single word, amon. Scholars continue to debate the origin and meaning of this term, typically coming to one of two conclusions.
I was beside him as a master of crafts. Prov CEB I was beside him, like a master worker. Prov NRSV. I grew up as a child by his side. Prov ERV I was like a child by his side. Prov NCV. A full discussion of the arguments for each meaning is beyond the scope of this study; a few observations and references must suffice.
The second has been recently bolstered by the work of Michael Fox, a leading scholar in Proverbs and ancient Near Eastern Wisdom. Verses 30b—31 read:. And my delight is in mankind. Fox In either translation, the description of Woman Wisdom is not what I would expect of an architect or master craftsman.
The first term is not typically used to describe someone doing serious work. Wisdom frolics, plays, or enjoys herself see 1 Sam ; Judg ; Ps Is he the child I delight in? As a whole the evidence is not clear-cut or overwhelming, but, in my opinion, it is more suggestive of a young child than a master craftsman. Accepting amon as a child allows a vivid personification of the Lord and wisdom to come into focus. Before creation, the sages lead our imagination, the Lord created, brought forth, or gave birth to Wisdom and appointed her to her present position.
The Lord took pleasure in Wisdom, and Wisdom took pleasure or delight in the human race.
Wisdom - Wikipedia
Then they spring their literary trap. However one may translate the terms in vv. Now she shares with those who will listen what she saw at creation and therefore knows about how this world works — Whoever will listen to her will find life—the life that is good, true life — To say the least, this text describes a unique relationship between the Lord and Wisdom.
Startling to say the least—and troubling that we hear so little about this daughter divine in contemporary preaching and teaching. She is a royal figure who empowers others to rule with justice and righteousness — She walks in the way of righteousness and justice , rewarding all those who love and follow her with riches, honor, and wealth beyond the best gold or silver — We might be tempted to dismiss this text and its claims, if not for its clarity: Woman Wisdom clearly asserts nothing less than divine birth.
Or to reverse the figures, Woman Wisdom claims that her mother is the Lord. That much is clear. Should we understand Woman Wisdom as a vivid extended literary metaphor—and no more than a literary creation to persuade young male readers? Or is Woman Wisdom the result of hypostatization—making an abstract quality of God concrete more extreme than a metaphor or simile? Nonetheless, here I want to suggest a few points of guidance. To begin, let us not be in a hurry to run away from the vivid figure in the text, the portrait of the divine feminine.
Just as a child comes from her mother, Woman Wisdom came from God. Perhaps this concept startled ancient readers, but I doubt it. Ancient Israel lived in a world filled with gods and goddesses. And despite the patriarchy that existed, it is obvious that Israel also recognized and accepted diverse leadership roles filled by women: prophets e.
get link I suspect that the harsh patriarchy we often see in the OT is more the result of reading our situation or preferences into the testimony of the text itself. The sages of Proverbs deliberately choose to present Wisdom as the divine child of God in order to advance their message. May we accept their image with awe, rather than running from it in fear.
Woman Wisdom is no ordinary woman. She is a prophet who speaks with authority and provides life-giving instruction — She is the source of blessing, wealth, honor, and life itself—genuine life, the tree of life rediscovered — And Woman Wisdom is the divine daughter, present at creation, who uniquely knows about human life and possesses unique authority to speak for God — The final chapter of Prov 1—9 permits Woman Wisdom and her nemesis, Woman Folly, to make their final appeals to the son and the reader.
Here, the feminist tendencies of the sages and their patriarchal bias stand in bold contrast: the Wise Woman offers life while the Foolish Woman takes life. Wisdom presents her case first: an invitation to a marvelous feast. She has made all her preparations —2 and has sent her servants to invite young men to participate in the life she provides:.
The sages then give Woman Folly an opportunity to make her claims. Unlike Wisdom, Folly is loud, a trait born of her ignorance She sits outside the door of her house or perches at the highest places in town A similarity that warns the son and reader: it is not always easy to know whom to listen to, to discern who offers life and who offers death.
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