Solomon instructed the young people of his day like a father giving advice to his child. While many of these proverbs are directed toward young people, the principles supporting them are helpful to all believers, male and female, young and old. Anyone beginning his or her journey to discover more wisdom will benefit greatly from these wise sayings.
Solomon wanted to impart wisdom to all people, regardless of their age, sex or position in society. These short, wise sayings give us practical wisdom for daily living. We should study them diligently and integrate them into our life.
In addition to the proverbs that Solomon collected, the men of Hezekiah collected many proverbs that Solomon and others wrote. While most of these are general in nature, many are directed specifically to the king and those who dealt with the king. These are particularly useful for those who are leaders or aspire to the leaders.
Writer of Proverbs
Solomon wrote most of this book, with Agur and Lemuel contributing some of the later sections. Solomon, King of Israel, was the son of David and Bathsheba. He reigned for forty years, from 971 to 931 B.C., taking the throne at about twenty years of age. Of Agur and King Lemuel we know nothing except that, by their names, they were not Israelites. Wisdom is universal, not national.
Since the book of Proverbs is a compilation, its writing was spread over a period of years, with the main work probably centered about 950 B.C. Chapters 25 through 29 are identified as copied by “the men of Hezekiah,” which places the copying at about 720 B.C., though the material itself was by Solomon, perhaps in a separate document found in Hezekiah’s time.
Setting of Proverbs
Under Solomon’s leadership, Israel reached its greatest geographical extent and enjoyed the least violence of the entire kingdom period. “Peaceful,” the meaning of his name, describes Solomon’s reign. And peace, with wisdom, brought unprecedented prosperity to the nation, which became a cause of wonder and admiration to the queen of Sheba and to other rulers of the time. Wise sayings, like music or other art forms, tend to blossom in such a time, then endure through succeeding generations.
Israel’s distinctive contribution to the thinking of the wise men of all nations and times is that true wisdom is centered in respect and reverence for God. This is the great underlying theme of the book of Proverbs.
In reading the book of Proverbs, we need to make sure we do not turn these wise sayings into literal promises. Proverbs are statements of the way things generally turn out in God’s world. For example, it is generally true that those who keep God’s commandments will enjoy “length of days and long life” (3:2). But this should not be interpreted as an ironclad guarantee. It is important to keep God’s laws, no matter how long or short our earthly life may be.
Click here to download or print the Bible outline “Proverbs – Wisdom in Daily Life“.