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An Argument of the Book of Proverbs

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An Argument1 of the Book Of Proverbs2

I. An Introduction to the Book of Proverbs: 1:1-7

A. The Author--Solomon: 1:1

1. Solomon: 1:1a

2. Son of David: 1:1b

3. King of Israel: 1:1c

B. The Purposes of Proverbs: 1:2-6

1. Summary Statement: 1:2

a. Moral--To Bring Skill and Corrective Instruction: 1:2a

b. Mental--To Discern Sayings of Understanding: 1:2b

2. Expanded Statements: 1:3-6

a. To Receive: 1:3

1) Discipline

2) Righteousness

3) Judgment

4) Equity

b. To Give: 1:4

1) Prudence to the naive:

2) Knowledge and Discretion to Young Ones:

c. To Increase: 1:5

1) In Learning

2) In Wise Counsel

d. To Understand: 1:6

1) A Proverb

2) A Figure

3) Sayings of the Wise

4) Riddles of the Wise

C. The Principle of Proverbs: Fearing the Lord is the first step of learning 1:7

1. The Foundation of Knowledge: Fearing God is the foundation of knowledge 1:7a

2. The Rejection of Wisdom: The rejection of wisdom is folly 1:7b

II. The First Collection of Solomonic Proverbs--A Father's Reflective Admonitions on Wisdom for His Son:3 1:8--9:18

A. An Appeal to Heed Wisdom: 1:8-9

B. Lesson One: A father urges his son not to yield to the invitation of robbers and murderers, and not to reject the invitation of wisdom: 1:10-33

1. Evil Invitations: Refuse Evil Invitations: 1:10-19

a. The Admonition: 1:10

b. The Enticement: 1:11-14

c. The Results: 1:15-19

2. Wisdom's Invitation: Do Not Refuse the Invitation of Wisdom: 1:20-33

a. Wisdom's Invitation: 1:20-23

b. The Rejection of Wisdom: 1:24-30

c. The Results of Wisdom: 1:31-33

C. Lesson Two: A Father urges his son to receive his sayings on wisdom resulting in protection through discernment: 2:1-22

1. The Exhortations to Wisdom: 2:1-4

2. The Results of Wisdom--Protection through Discernment: 2:5-22

D. Lesson Three: A Father urges his son to trust and honor God: 3:1-10

E. Lesson Four: A Father urges his son to understand that wisdom will bring him blessing 3:11-20

1. Blessing through Discipline: 3:11-12

2. Blessings Enumerated: 3:13-18

F. Lesson Five: A Father urges his son to be wise in his relationships with others 3:21-35

1. An Exhortation to Keep Wisdom: 3:21-26

2. An Exhortation to Be Wise in Relationships: 3:27-35

G. An Interlude on Wisdom:4 A Father urges his sons to acquire wisdom as their highest priority because it has proved itself to be good 4:1-9

1. A Father's Exhortation to pay attention to Wisdom: 4:1-2

2. A Father's Experience of the Good of Wisdom: 4:3-4

3. A Father's Encouragement to acquire, love and prize wisdom: 4:5-9

H. Lesson Six: A father urges his son to follow the right path of uprightness and to avoid the wrong path of the wicked: 4:10-19

1. Reminder of Past Guidance--The Right Path: 4:10-12

2. Reminder to Stay on the Right Path: 4:13-19

a. Keep Instruction: 4:13

b. Avoid the Path of the Wicked: 4:14-17

c. Follow the Path of the Righteous: 4:18-19

I. Lesson Seven: A father urges his son to discipline himself by watching his motives and actions: 4:20-27

1. An Exhortation to Heed the Father's Words for Life and Health: 4:20-22

2. An Exhortation to Guard Motives and Actions: 4:23-27

a. Guard Your Heart: 4:23

b. Guard Your Mouth: 4:24

c. Guard Your Eyes: 4:25

d. Guard Your Feet: 4:26-27

J. Lesson Eight: A father warns his son about the temptations and costs of sexual immorality with the adulteress 5:1-14

1. First Exhortation--Heed Wisdom, the Adulteress is Destructive: 5:1-6

2. Second Exhortation--Heed Wisdom, the Consequences are Destructive: 5:7-14

K. Lesson Nine: A father urges his son to enjoy his wife because of the consequences of doing evil: 5:15-23

1. Exhortation: 5:15-19

2. Reasons: 5:20-23

L. Lesson Ten: A father urges his son to avoid the company of evil people like strangers in debt, sluggards, and worthless people 6:1-19

1. The Stranger in Debt: 6:1-5

2. The Sluggard: 6:6-11

3. The Worthless Person: 6:12-19

M. Lesson Eleven: A father urges his son to avoid the adulteress 6:20-35

1. Exhortation to Heed Parents' Teachings: 6:20-21

2. Reason--Blessings and Protection from the Evil Woman: 6:22-35

a. Blessings: 6:22-23a

b. Protection: 6:23b-35

N. Lesson Twelve: A father urges his son to avoid the adulteress and to follow wisdom: 7:1--8:36

1. Avoid the Adulteress: A father urges His son to avoid the seductive adulteress: 7:1-27

a. Exhortation--Heed Your Parents' Words to Identify with Wisdom to Keep from the flattering Adulteress: 7:1-5

b. The Dramatization of the Naive and the Adulteress: 7:6-23

1) The Naivete of the Victim: 7:6-9

2) A Description of the Adulteress: 7:10-21

a) The Character of the Adulteress: 7:10-12

b) The Tactics of the Adulteress: 7:13-21

3) The Fall of the Victim: 7:22-23

c. The Concluding Plea: 7:24-27

1) Exhortation--Listen and Steer Clear: 7:24-25

2) Reason--Death: 7:26-27

2. Follow Wisdom: A father draws his sons's attention to the invitations of wisdom 8:1-36

a. The Public Call of Wisdom: 8:1-3

b. The Words of Wisdom: 8:4-36

1) Wisdom's Virtues: 8:4-11

2) Wisdom's Rewards: 8:12-21

3) Wisdom's Role in Creation: 8:22-31

4) Wisdom's Concluding Plea--Pursue Wisdom for Blessing and to Avoid Injury: 8:32-36

O. Summary of the Lessons--Contrasting Two Rival Women, Two Rival Minds & Two Disparate Results: 9:1-19

1. The Woman of Wisdom: Wisdom like an honorable woman invites the naive to her feast of life 9:1-12

a. The Preparation for the Naive: 9:1-3

b. The Invitation: 9:4-6

c. The Lesson--The Wise and The Scoffer Contrasted: 9:7-12

1) The Scoffer's Closed Mind--Abuses Reprovers and Hates Reproof: 9:7-8a

2) The Wise Man's Teachable Mind--Loves Learning, Increases in Learning, Fears the Lord & Lives Long 9:8b-11

3) Summary: The wise man benefits from wisdom, but the scoffer can blame only himself 9:12

2. The Woman of Folly: Folly like an adulterous woman invites the naive to her feast of Death: 9:13-18

a. Her Character--Noisy, Simple, & Ignorant: 9:13

b. Her Position--Religious: 9:14

c. Her Appeal to the Righteous: 9:15

d. Her Invitation to the Naive: 9:16

e. Her Enticement--Evil is Good: 9:17

f. Her Fate--Death! 9:18

III. A Second Collection of Solomonic Proverbs--Short Maxims: 10:1--22:16

A. Proverbs Which Contrast Righteous (Wise) with Wicked (Foolish) Living:5 10:1--15:33

B. Assorted Proverbs Which Exalt Righteous Living:6 16:1--22:16

IV. Sayings of the Wisemen: 22:17--24:34

A. First Sayings of the Wisemen--Thirty of Them: 22:17-24:22
Introductory Prelude--Exhortation to Apply Your Mind: The purpose of the sayings is for the reader to trust in the Lord and to have a ready response to life: 22:17-21

1. Warning Not to Rob the Poor:7 22:22-23

2. Warning Not to Associate with the Hot-Tempered: 22:24-25

3. Warning Not to Cosign for Debts: 22:26-27

4. Warning Not to Move Ancient Boundaries: 22:28

5. Advice to Be Skillful: 22:29

6. Warning Not to be a Glutton before a King: 23:1-3a

7. Warning Not to Be Materialistic: 23:4-5

8. Warning Not to Eat with a Selfish Person: 23:6-8

9. Warning Not to Converse with a Fool: 23:9

10. Warning Not to Move Ancient Boundaries: 23:10-11
Introductory Prelude to Sayings 11-30--Exhortations to Apply Your Mind: 23:12

11. Warning Not to Withhold Child Discipline: 23:13-14

12. Advice to Be Wise and Upright: 23:15-16

13. Warning Not to Envy Sinners and Advice to Fear the Lord: 23:17-18

14. Advice to Be Wise and Warning Not to Associate with Drunkards and Gluttons: 23:19-21

15. Advice to Listen to Your Father, and Warning Not to Despise Your Elderly Mother: 23:22-23

16. Advice to Be Wise: 23:24-25

17. Advice to Follow a Father's Ways and Warning to Avoid the Adulteress: 23:26-28

18. Warning Not to Be a Drunkard: 23:29-35

19. Warning Not to Envy Sinners: 24:1-2

20. Indirect Advice to Be Wise: 24:3-4

21. Indirect Advice to Get Wise Counsel: 24:5-6

22. Indirect Warning Not to Be a Fool: 24:7

23. Indirect Warning Not to Plan Sin: 24:8-9

24. Indirect Advice to Be Strong: 24:10

25. Advice to Help People Who Are Victimized: 24:11-12

26. Advice to Get Wisdom Which Is Sweet to the Soul: 24:13-14

27. Warning Not to Rob a Godly Person's House: 24:15-16

28. Warning Not to Be Glad When an Enemy Falls: 24:17-18

29. Warning Not to Envy Sinners: 24:19

30. Advice to Fear the Lord and Warning to Avoid Renegades: 24:21-22

B. Second Sayings of the Wisemen--Six of Them: 24:23-34

1. Warning Not to Show Favoritism in Court: 24:23-25

2. Advice to Give an Honest and Forthright Answer: 24:26

3. Advice to Cultivate Your Field: 24:27

4. Warning Not to Give a False Witness in Court: 24:28

5. Warning Not to Avenge Yourself: 24:29

6. Indirect Warning Not to Be Lazy: 24:30-34

V. A Third Collection of Solomonic Proverbs by the Men of King Hezekiah: 25:1--29:27

A. Section One--Miscellaneous Proverbs:

1. Introduction: 25:1

2. Proverbs Concerning Kings: 25:2-7

3. Proverbs Concerning Court Cases: 25:8-10

4. Proverbs Concerning Words: 25:11-15

5. Proverbs Concerning Excesses: 25:16-17

6. Proverbs Concerning Unreliability: 25:18-20

7. Proverbs Concerning Enemies: 25:21-22

8. Proverbs Concerning Backbiting: 25:23-24

9. Proverbs Concerning Cool Water and Muddy Springs: 25:25-26

10. Proverbs Concerning Self-Pride and Self-Control: 25:27-28

11. Proverbs Concerning Fools: 26:1-12

12. Proverbs Concerning Sluggards: 26:13-16

13. Proverbs Concerning Talkers: 26:17-28

14. Proverbs Concerning Interpersonal Problems: 27:1-5

15. Proverbs Concerning Friends: 27:6-10

16. Proverbs Concerning Relationships: 27:11-22

17. Proverbs Concerning Farming: 27:3-27

B. Section Two--Proverbs Concerning Contrasts between the Wicked and the Righteous: 28:1--29:27

1. Proverbs Which Contrast Wicked and Righteous Attitudes:8 28:1-28

2. Proverbs Which Contrast Wicked and Righteous Relationships:9 29:1-27

VI. The Sayings of Agur: 30:1-31

A. Introduction: 30:1

B. The Supremacy of Knowing God: 30:2-9

C. Proverbs Which Relate Things That Are Alike: 30:10-33

1. Advice Not to Tattle on a Slave: 30:10

2. Four Kinds of Sinners: 30:11-14

3. Four Things Never Satisfied: 30:15-16

4. Warning Not to Disrespect Your Parents: 30:17

5. Four In Comprehensible Things: 30:18-19

6. Warning to Avoid the Adulteress: 30:20

7. Four Unfair Things: 30:21-23

8. Four Wise though Small Animals: 30:24-28

9. Four Strutting Beings: 30:29-31

10. Advice to Avoid Pride and Anger: 30:32-33

VII. Conclusion--Exhortations to Seek Wisdom10--The Words of Lemuel: 31:1-31

A. The Sayings of King Lemuel: 31:1-9

B. A Personification of Wisdom--The Ideal Wife: 31:10-31


1 An argument of the book of proverbs is somewhat of a misnomer since the book is a collection of proverbs by different writers, but Kidner does offer some insight about the overall logic of the book when he writes, So the introduction (1:2-6, an extension of the title, makes it clear that this book is no anthology, but a course of education in the life of wisdom. The motto (1:7) at once goes to the heart of the matter, and Section I (1:8--9:18) expounds it in a series of fatherly talks which illustrate and press home to the pupil the fateful choice he must make between wisdom and folly. By now the reader is in a position to orientate himself in the thicket of individual sayings which he enters in Section II (10:1--22:16), and to see in each cool, objective aphorism a miniature and particular outworking of the wisdom and folly whose whole course he has seen spread out before him in Section I.

In Section III (a. 22:17--24:22; b. 24:23-24) the teaching style returns--less expansively than in chapters 1--9, but nonetheless in sayings that spread into paragraphs and speak directly to the reader. There is a hand on our shoulder again (Derek Kidner, Proverbs: An Introduction and Commentary, 22-23).

2 This outline is adapted through my own study from the analyses of Gleason L. Archer, Jr, A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, 474-75); Franz Delitzsch, Proverbs, In vol. 6: Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, translated by M. G. Easton. Commentary on the Old Testament. 10 vols. (N.p.; reprint ed., Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1973); Andrew E. Hill and John H. Walton, A Survey of the Old Testament, 288; Derek Kidner, Proverbs: An Introduction and Commentary, 22-23; Gene Pond, The Book of Proverbs, (paper submitted for course 383 Analysis of Old Testament Books. Dallas Theological Seminary, 1990); Roy B. Zuck, An Outline of Proverbs, (unpublished class notes in 303 Old Testament History II. Dallas Theological Seminary, Fall 1981).

3 Each of the units in this section begin with the statement, My son except for 1:8-9 which begins Hear, my son.

4 This is not the next lesson because it does not begin with My son but with the exhortation Hear, O sons.

5 Zuck writes, Of the 184 verses in these chapters, 156 are verses of contrasts, 16 are verses of comparison, and 12 and completions (Roy B. Zuck, An Outline of Proverbs, [unpublished class notes in 303 Old Testament History II. Dallas Theological Seminary, Fall 1981], 9).

6 Zuck writes, Of the 191 verses in this section, only 37 are contrasts (but). The other 148 verses are comparisons (mostly and, but 11 are better-than--16:8, 16, 19, 32; 17:1, 12; 19:1, 22; 21:9, 19; 22:1) or completions (Roy B. Zuck, An Outline of Proverbs, [unpublished class notes in 303 Old Testament History II. Dallas Theological Seminary, Fall 1981], 9).

7 In addition to the affirmation of each proverb there is usually a reason which follows. For instance the reason one is not to rob the poor or crush the afflicted is because the Lord will come to their defense (plead their case, take the life of those who rob them).

8 Zuck writes, These verses include contrasts between these two groups in their attitudes toward the nation, the poor, the law, money, sin, parents, themselves and others (Roy B. Zuck, An Outline of Proverbs, [unpublished class notes in 303 Old Testament History II. Dallas Theological Seminary, Fall 1981], 12).

9 Many though not all of these verses deal with contrasts between the wicked and the righteous in relationship to ruling one's temper, nation, kids, words, etc. (Roy B. Zuck, An Outline of Proverbs, [unpublished class notes in 303 Old Testament History II. Dallas Theological Seminary, Fall 1981], 12).

10 Verses 1-9 and 10-31 can be related to one another in two possible ways: (1) they provide advice from a mother to a Son-king not to pursue women (v. 3) but to pursue the woman of character (10-31). The problem with this view is that it does not explain the other warnings as well in verses 10-31 (2) they provide advice from a mother to a son-king not to pursue those things in his strength that will destroy others (women [v. 3], strong drink [vv. 4-7]) and an exhortation to help the needy (vv. 8-9). Then she exhorts him in a positive way to pursue Wisdom as a partner. The problem with this view is that it seem to deny the literal sense of woman, but this figurative sense has already been used in Proverbs to personify folly and wisdom (cf. Proverbs 7--8). In addition Proverbs 31:10 was identified as wisdom in 8:11. Proverbs 31:11 speaks of fertility which comes from obedience to God's word (cf. Dt 27--28), 31:14 describes wisdom as bring understanding from God (far away) that is profitable, and 31:15 affirms that wisdom works for us when we are not working (or are asleep; cf. Ps 127:2).

Related Topics: Introductions, Arguments, Outlines