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Opening Up Proverbs (Session 1)

Proverbs Equipping Class - Opening Up Proverbs   •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Session 1 - Dealing with Introductory material...

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Opening Up Proverbs Introduction

Introduction

Study Proverbs for success

Welcome to Opening Up Proverbs!

Study Proverbs for success

How does the world define success?
How do you define success?
“The Bible sets forth an entirely different measure of success. Success is found in living wisely in the fear of the Lord. To live wisely is to live beautifully—that is, to live a life that counts.”

The uniqueness of biblical proverbs

“The book of Proverbs reveals how you can have success in every aspect of your life.”
Jim Newheiser, Opening up Proverbs, Opening Up Commentary (Leominster: Day One Publications, 2008), 10.

The uniqueness of biblical proverbs

Proverbs are not unique

“A stitch in time saves nine” or “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink” or “The early bird catches the worm”. These are phrases that communicate commonly accepted bits of wisdom.
We know that wisdom is as old as time. This class will help us to clearly understand why this is so. And there have always been wise people. Solomon was not the first person to be wise or to seek wisdom. The Egyptians and Babylonians were known for collecting proverbs.
1 Kings 4:30–34 ESV
so that Solomon’s wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the people of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt. For he was wiser than all other men, wiser than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, Calcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol, and his fame was in all the surrounding nations. He also spoke 3,000 proverbs, and his songs were 1,005. He spoke of trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of the wall. He spoke also of beasts, and of birds, and of reptiles, and of fish. And people of all nations came to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and from all the kings of the earth, who had heard of his wisdom.
“...the Egyptian book of Amenemope, which has been dated variously between the 13th and 7th centuries bc.” - Elwell
This book of Proverbs has many similarities to the book of Proverbs that we have in our Bible.
Walter A. Elwell and Barry J. Beitzel, “Proverbs, Book Of,” Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), 1786.
This book of Proverbs has many similarities to the book of Proverbs that we have in our Bible.
It certainly is possible that Solomon incorporates some of these universal truths into his rendering of the proverbs. Unbelievers can recognize truth, they just don’t believe the source of truth.
It certainly is possible that Solomon incorporates some of these universal truths into his rendering of the proverbs. Unbelievers can recognize truth, they just don’t believe the source of truth.
What makes the Bible’s Proverbs unique?
The Proverbs are special because the are squarely rooted in a covenant relationship God...
Proverbs 1:7 ESV
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Proverbs and the rest of the Old Testament

“Solomon doesn’t merely offer clever sayings that provide useful advice on how to enjoy worldly success; rather, he teaches that true wisdom and success are rooted in having a right relationship with God, who is the source of all wisdom.” - Newheisher
Jim Newheiser, Opening up Proverbs, Opening Up Commentary (Leominster: Day One Publications, 2008), 11.

Proverbs and the rest of the Old Testament

Proverbs assumes and builds upon the precepts of the law and the admonitions of the prophets but goes beyond them in training the reader to live wisely in a very practical ‘how to’ way.

Challenges in studying Proverbs

Proverbs assumes and builds upon the precepts of the law and the admonitions of the prophets but goes beyond them in training the reader to live wisely in a very practical ‘how to’ way.
Jim Newheiser, Opening up Proverbs, Opening Up Commentary (Leominster: Day One Publications, 2008), 12.

Challenges in studying Proverbs

Jim Newheiser, Opening up Proverbs, Opening Up Commentary (Leominster: Day One Publications, 2008), 13.

It is difficult to do a consecutive study or exposition of some sections of Proverbs

“Chapters 1 through 9 and chapter 31 of Proverbs contain extended development of particular ideas and can be studied consecutively. The proverbs and sayings in chapters 10 through 30 are shorter and tend to jump from subject to subject. For this reason we will cover the content in those chapters topically, rather than going verse by verse.”
Jim Newheiser, Opening up Proverbs, Opening Up Commentary (Leominster: Day One Publications, 2008), 13.

The book of Proverbs does not explicitly proclaim the gospel

Proverbs is not an evangelistic book, per se. It is a book that assumes a relationship with God. The Jews were a covenant people who had this relationship with the Lord...
Why is this important for contemporary readers to understand?

The book of Proverbs contains maxims, which are not the same as promises

Proverbs 22:6 ESV
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 10:4 ESV
A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.
Proverbs 3:2 ESV
for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you.
Why is it dangerous to not see Proverbs as maxims?
What New Testament verse supports the idea that we live in a “maxim” kind of world?
Galatians 6:7 ESV
Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.

The book of Proverbs is primarily addressed to men

Men and women are spiritually equal...
Galatians 3:28 ESV
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Gal
Men are to be leaders in the home and in the church.
Women’s subordinate role is not demeaning anymore than Christ’s subordinate role to His Father. Both equally God, different roles.
Although it is written primarily to men, many of the truths are universal in nature and there are proverbs specifically addressed to women.

The book of Proverbs is for everyone!

1. Proverbs is written to prepare a young person who faces the challenges and opportunities of responsible adulthood.
2. Proverbs instructs parents in how to train their children (1:8).
3. Proverbs offers the basics of wisdom to those who are young and naive (1:4).
4. Proverbs deepens the understanding of those who are already wise (1:5).
5. Proverbs exposes the fool and the result of his or her arrogant rebellion (1:7b).
Jim Newheiser, Opening up Proverbs, Opening Up Commentary (Leominster: Day One Publications, 2008), 15.
What are you hoping to learn from the class?

Background and summary

The proverbs of Solomon (v. 1a)

So, what is a proverb? We can easily recognize one, but how would you define one?
Bruce Waltke defines a proverb as...
“A short witty saying that gives you a standard by which you might judge your life.”
He continues to describe a parable as...
“A comparison, an object lesson, a simple illustration, or a parable which exposes a fundamental reality about life.”
By the way, the short, pithy sayings don’t begin until chapter 10. Chapters 1-9 are longer appeals for the reader to seek wisdom.

Authorship (v. 1b)

Proverbs 1 ESV
The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel: To know wisdom and instruction, to understand words of insight, to receive instruction in wise dealing, in righteousness, justice, and equity; to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth— Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance, to understand a proverb and a saying, the words of the wise and their riddles. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching, for they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck. My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent. If they say, “Come with us, let us lie in wait for blood; let us ambush the innocent without reason; like Sheol let us swallow them alive, and whole, like those who go down to the pit; we shall find all precious goods, we shall fill our houses with plunder; throw in your lot among us; we will all have one purse”— my son, do not walk in the way with them; hold back your foot from their paths, for their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed blood. For in vain is a net spread in the sight of any bird, but these men lie in wait for their own blood; they set an ambush for their own lives. Such are the ways of everyone who is greedy for unjust gain; it takes away the life of its possessors. Wisdom cries aloud in the street, in the markets she raises her voice; at the head of the noisy streets she cries out; at the entrance of the city gates she speaks: “How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge? If you turn at my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit to you; I will make my words known to you. Because I have called and you refused to listen, have stretched out my hand and no one has heeded, because you have ignored all my counsel and would have none of my reproof, I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when terror strikes you, when terror strikes you like a storm and your calamity comes like a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon you. Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently but will not find me. Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the Lord, would have none of my counsel and despised all my reproof, therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way, and have their fill of their own devices. For the simple are killed by their turning away, and the complacency of fools destroys them; but whoever listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.”
Proverbs 1:1 ESV
The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel:
No doubt, Solomon was exceptionally wise and the best candidate to write and compile a book of practical wisdom. If you remember, God made him the wisest man on earth.
1 Kings 3:12 ESV
behold, I now do according to your word. Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you.
1 Kings 4:29–34 ESV
And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding beyond measure, and breadth of mind like the sand on the seashore, so that Solomon’s wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the people of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt. For he was wiser than all other men, wiser than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, Calcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol, and his fame was in all the surrounding nations. He also spoke 3,000 proverbs, and his songs were 1,005. He spoke of trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of the wall. He spoke also of beasts, and of birds, and of reptiles, and of fish. And people of all nations came to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and from all the kings of the earth, who had heard of his wisdom.
1
Solomon was not the only contributor...
Proverbs 30:1 ESV
The words of Agur son of Jakeh. The oracle. The man declares, I am weary, O God; I am weary, O God, and worn out.
Proverbs 31:1 ESV
The words of King Lemuel. An oracle that his mother taught him:
Also, the final collection of wisdom in the Proverbs was not compiled until after the death of Solomon...
Proverbs 25:1 ESV
These also are proverbs of Solomon which the men of Hezekiah king of Judah copied.
They lived around 700 BC which was 250 years after Solomon.

Setting

“One great irony is that, in his later years, Solomon himself did not consistently pursue the wisdom taught in Proverbs, resulting in his life being ravaged by foolishness (). Waltke remarks, ‘Let it be noted that he constructed his own gibbet on which he impaled himself ([Prov.] 19:27)—that is he ceased listening to his own instruction. Spiritual success today does not guarantee spiritual success tomorrow.’”
Jim Newheiser, Opening up Proverbs, Opening Up Commentary (Leominster: Day One Publications, 2008), 17.

Setting

Divisions

“The book of Proverbs is set both in the home, where father and mother are instructing their beloved son (1:8), and in the palace, where a young man is being prepared for the responsibilities of leadership (31:1).”
Jim Newheiser, Opening up Proverbs, Opening Up Commentary (Leominster: Day One Publications, 2008), 17.

Divisions

The book of Proverbs is structured as follows:

1. Prologue (1:1–7)
2. A tenfold call to pursue wisdom (1:8–9:18)
3. The proverbs of Solomon (10:1–22:16)
4. Sayings of the wise (22:17–24:34)
5. More proverbs of Solomon (the Hezekian collection) (25:1–29:27)
6. The words of Agur (30:1–33)
7. The words of King Lemuel (or rather, of his mother) (31:1–9)
8. An acrostic of wifely excellence (31:10–31).
The approach of this commentary (and class) will be to examine sections 1, 2, and 8 in an expository fashion while dealing with the subjects raised in sections 3–7 topically.
Jim Newheiser, Opening up Proverbs, Opening Up Commentary (Leominster: Day One Publications, 2008), 18.
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