Week 23 Chronological Bible Reading – 2014
|Week 23 – 2014||June|
Author: Solomon and others
Date: 950-700 B.C.
The type of literature found in Proverbs goes back in written form to about 2700 B.C. in Egypt. The Hebrew term for proverb means “a comparison,” and it came to be used for any sage or moralistic pronouncement. Many proverbs are condensed parables. The sayings in this book form a library of instruction on how to live a godly life here on earth, and how to be assured of reward in the life to come. Thus, these proverbs are not so much popular sayings as they are a distillation of wisdom from those who knew the law of God.
In Job we were introduced to the concept of “wisdom literature.” Common to all civilizations, wisdom literature represents the attempt of human beings to observe God’s creation, to discern its order and its workings, and to synthesize those observations into concise, memorable statements of truth. Because God is a God of order, there is also order of the universe, which can be perceived and described.
In wisdom literature, more than any other, we come to realize that all truth is God’s truth. Unique to Proverbs, however, is the fear of Yahweh, which is the beginning of knowledge and motto of the book (1:7). Fear of Yahweh does not mean being scared of God; it means regarding Him with reverence. If you fear Yahweh, you will want to be like Him. Thus, one aspect of fear is to turn from evil (8:13). Another is to increase in knowledge of God and intimacy with him (9:10). One benefit of the fear of Yahweh is a successful life (10:27; 19:23). While other wisdom literature may deal truthfully with God’s creation, only the wisdom of Israel deals truthfully with God Himself.
Proverbs provides experience and observation in capsule form. It speaks of patterns rather than absolutes. Though the proverbs seem so simple, the all have hidden contexts and exceptions. Think about the well-known American proverb “A stitch in time saves nine.” Is it correct? Yes—it captures well the second law of thermodynamics that things tend to fall apart rather than come together. But does it teach that if you do not fix something today, it will be nine times worse tomorrow? Of course not! It simply means things fall into a worse state rather than a better one. “Nine” rhymes somewhat with “time” to make the proverb memorable.