Themes in Proverbs

There seems to be three main themes in the book of Proverbs, and they are all intertwined.

1) Fear God – be wise, accept training/discipline, be prudent, gain knowledge and put it into practice by making good decisions, trust God.

Under this theme can be found verses like Proverbs 1:1-9 (NASB)

1 The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel : 2 To know wisdom and instruction, To discern the sayings of understanding, 3 To receive instruction in wise behavior, Righteousness, justice and equity ; 4 To give prudence to the naive, To the youth knowledge and discretion, 5 A wise man will hear and increase in learning, And a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel, 6 To understand a proverb and a figure, The words of the wise and their riddles. 7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge ; Fools despise wisdom and instruction. 8 Hear, my son, your father’s instruction And do not forsake your mother’s teaching ; 9 Indeed, they are a graceful wreath to your head And ornaments about your neck. 

2) work

Proverbs 6:6-11 (NASB)

6 Go to the ant, O sluggard, Observe her ways and be wise, 7 Which, having no chief, Officer or ruler, 8 Prepares her food in the summer And gathers her provision in the harvest. 9 How long will you lie down, O sluggard ? When will you arise from your sleep ? 10 “A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to rest “- 11 Your poverty will come in like a vagabond And your need like an armed man.

Proverbs 10:2-5 (NASB)

2 Ill-gotten gains do not profit, But righteousness delivers from death. 3 The LORD will not allow the righteous to hunger, But He will reject the craving of the wicked. 4 Poor is he who works with a negligent hand, But the hand of the diligent makes rich. 5 He who gathers in summer is a son who acts wisely, But he who sleeps in harvest is a son who acts shamefully.

3) avoid evil, avoid trouble, dont be untrustworthy, dont be bad, or be righteous and do the right thing.

Proverbs 6:12-19

12 A worthless person, a wicked man, Is the one who walks with a perverse mouth, 13 Who winks with his eyes, who signals with his feet, Who points with his fingers ; 14 Who with perversity in his heart continually devises evil, Who spreads strife. 15 Therefore his calamity will come suddenly ; Instantly he will be broken and there will be no healing. 16 There are six things which the LORD hates, Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: 17 Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, And hands that shed innocent blood, 18 A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that run rapidly to evil, 19 A false witness who utters lies, And one who spreads strife among brothers.

Proverbs 11:1-13

1 A false balance is an abomination to the LORD, But a just weight is His delight. 2 When pride comes, then comes dishonor, But with the humble is wisdom. 3 The integrity of the upright will guide them, But the crookedness of the treacherous will destroy them. 4 Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, But righteousness delivers from death. 5 The righteousness of the blameless will smooth his way, But the wicked will fall by his own wickedness. 6 The righteousness of the upright will deliver them, But the treacherous will be caught by their own greed. 7 When a wicked man dies, his expectation will perish, And the hope of strong men perishes. 8 The righteous is delivered from trouble, But the wicked takes his place. 9 With his mouth the godless man destroys his neighbor, But through knowledge the righteous will be delivered. 10 When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices, And when the wicked perish, there is joyful shouting. 11 By the blessing of the upright a city is exalted, But by the mouth of the wicked it is torn down. 12 He who despises his neighbor lacks sense, But a man of understanding keeps silent. 13 He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets, But he who is trustworthy conceals a matter.

Proverbs 14:25-35

25 A truthful witness saves lives, But he who utters lies is treacherous. 26 In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence, And his children will have refuge. 27 The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, That one may avoid the snares of death. 28 In a multitude of people is a king’s glory, But in the dearth of people is a prince’s ruin. 29 He who is slow to anger has great understanding, But he who is quick-tempered *exalts folly. 30 A tranquil heart is life to the body, But passion is rottenness to the bones. 31 He who oppresses the poor taunts his Maker, But he who is gracious to the needy honors Him. 32 The wicked is thrust down by his wrongdoing, But the righteous has a refuge when he dies. 33 Wisdom rests in the heart of one who has understanding, But in the hearts of fools it is made known. 34 Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a disgrace to any people. 35 The king’s favor is toward a servant who acts wisely, But his anger is toward him who acts shamefully.

Yes, there’s a tons more stuff in the book of Proverbs. But it all boils down to practical ways of being righteous, of trusting God, and what happens when we dont. It is a treatese of how someone who trusts God should act, and practical reasons of why one should trust God. Its an interesting read, and points out things we might be missing. Its helpful to read it again, after taking a break. I find more gems in it the next time around than I did the previous time of reading it.

But I guess the real questions ares: Are you living in a way that is worthy of God? Are you showing your love for God in practical ways? Are you letting the God change your heart so you meet your responsibilities, are trsutworthy, and not violent nor lazy (either in action or words)?

Be who God wants you to be – dont be satisfied with who you are right now. Seek God and HIS righteousness.

3 Responses

  1. Wisdom also would be an important theme. Indeed the whole of the Wisdom literature in the OT. Not to mention the development of the personification of Wisdom (Prov. 8), and in the NT the place of Christ as THE Wisdom of God Incarnate, (1 Cor. 1:24 ; 30 / Col. 2: 2-3).

  2. I agree, which is why I included wisdom as part of fearing God. As Proverbs 1:7 (NASB) reads,

    The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

  3. wb,
    Yes, I just wanted to plug the reality of the development of and personification of Wisdom also. A great theme!

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