Proverbs are typically short, pithy statements that seek to express a general truth. Today, we might consider the short, cleverly displayed sayings that we see all over social media as “proverbs” of our time.
The book of Proverbs in the Bible is a genre known as wisdom literature, a collection of wise sayings that are also divinely inspired. Just like the rest of the Bible, this book is part of Scripture that is “…inspired by God and … profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16). Israel’s King Solomon is credited with collecting and writing many of the God-inspired teachings of this book.
As we read Proverbs, we find hope and principles for life, written in poetic form. We are encouraged to pursue wisdom… and warned about chasing after foolishness. The practical advice found in Proverbs helps us to live in a way that honors God and leads to peace and joy. Proverbs covers topics concerning our emotions, speech and bodies, and it also uses imagery to contrast a godly life with a vain and worthless one. It even gives wisdom for the economic and politic matters of the world in which we live.
In a day when we are flooded with “proverbs” from all kinds of sources and a wide spectrum of opinions, it’s important to remember that we should know the source of the advice we take to heart. We can know God by consistently reading His Word, obeying Him, and experiencing His faithfulness in our lives. We also learn from wise people who we watch consistently prove their faith by their own actions. The collection of Proverbs is intended for the king’s children. The children, the recipients, trust God and know well the character of the authors.
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and discipline.” Proverbs 1:7