Thursday, April 29, 2010

Introduction to Proverbs

(this outline is part one in a series on Proverbs I am doing for a home Bible study. I am using many different sources, but I credit here, Dr. Duane Garret and his NAC commentary and class lecture notes from Dr. Mark Futato.)

An introduction to Proverbs
By Rev. John Sawtelle

I. The author (s) of Proverbs
A. Solomon – 1:1; 10:1-22; 25:1-29:27 (compiled @ 300 years after his death; Solomon’s name can be translated to the number 375 in Hebrew characters, and this is the number of proverbs in this section). This constitutes a literary use of numbers, not an esoteric use.
B. Agur – ch.30
C. King Lemuel – 31:1-9
D. Sayings of the wise – 22:17; 24:23
II. The nature of Proverbs
A. they are royal
1. royalty-wisdom connection – Prov. 25:2; 1Kings 3:5-12, 16-28; 4:29-34; 10:1-7 (Solomon’s wisdom came from prayer: a prayer born out of humility (3:7-8); a specific prayer for wisdom (3:9); a prayer that was divinely answered (3:12; 4:29ff; 10:1-7)
2. royalty, wisdom, and the image of God – Gen. 1:28; 2:20,23 – naming is a dimension of subduing or kingship; royalty and wisdom are yoked in man’s calling to be a philosopher-scientist
B. they are “natural” –
1. the covenantal order of creation as the basis for wisdom: according to Proverbs, the world has a certain order to it, and living in harmony with that order is essential to peace and fulfillment (8:26ff). The biblical doctrine of creation is crucial to biblical wisdom. Proverbs strives to explain that moral order is rooted in the pattern of God’s creation, it is not itself some sort of independent entity (Garrett, 53).
2. Proverbs 6:6-9 illustrates the character-conduct-consequence nexus which is rooted in the very structure and order of creation
C. they are covenantal
1. wisdom is the embodiment of the law in day to day living – Dt. 4:6-8
2. wisdom moves within the sphere of the covenant
a. frequency and usage of the covenant name, “Lord,” indicates covenantal context of Proverbs (the name Yahweh, God’s covenantal name, is used 84 times in Proverbs, indicating a strong link between covenant and wisdom)
b. Proverbs applies the law of the covenant to daily life attitudes and experiences
1) 5th commandment – Dt. 5:16; Pro. 19:26; 15:5
2) 6th commandment – Dt. 5:17; Pro. 1:10-19
3) 7th commandment – Dt. 5:18; Pro. 2:16-19
4) 8th commandment – Dt. 5:19; Pro. 30:7-9
5) 9th commandment – Dt. 5:20 Pro. 12:17-19
6) 10th commandment – Dt. 5:21; Pro. 15:27
• Proverbs explains and applies covenant law to daily life in the form of terse maxims
c. Proverbs uses a literary form which is suitable for covenant wisdom (antithetical parallelism). This form is unique to Biblical wisdom (wisdom in other cultures is in the form of pithy one-liners), in that the antithesis between the 1st and the 2nd line depicts the either-or-nature of decision making. In other words, biblical wisdom sets before us a fork in the road, making every moment of life full of religious and covenantal significance: worship and obey the Lord or worship and obey idols
d. Proverbs articulates the outworking of the sanctions of the covenant in the life of the individual
1) side note: Duane Garrett’s comments mark out the lines of an important debate: does Israelite wisdom include a concept of divine retribution, or is it simply an act-consequence philosophy? This question brings us back to the issue of the relationship between Deuteronomy and Proverbs:
(a) divine retribution: the consequences of moral actions are divine rewards or punishments administered directly by God in accordance with the fidelity of an action with respect to the law
(b) act-consequence: each action contains within itself a link to reward or punishment according to the moral order which is embedded within creation itself
2) the Mosaic covenant included sanctions for corporate obedience or transgression – Dt. 28
3) Proverbs applies blessing and curse sanctions to individuals based on their own conduct – Pro 12:21,24; 13:13,18,21; 14:23; 15:9,31-32; 28:19; 19:16-17
3. the crucial concept of the “fear of the Lord” –
a. Proverbs 1:7 provides the context and backdrop for the proper understanding and application of the proverbs
b. the quest for wisdom must be in submission to the Maker of heaven and earth; having a relationship with the Lord of the covenant is the starting point for an ethical life
c. according to Proverbs and the Bible in general, the fear of the Lord is the frame of mind which is essential to all right thought and action
III. The purposes of Proverbs
A. structure unfolds purposes
1. synopsis (1:2): 2a attaining wisdom and discipline, 2b understanding words of insight
2. resumption-expansion (vv.3-6): vv3-4 expand upon 2a: moral development, vv5-6 expand upon 2b: mental development
B. 2 audiences addressed
1. supplement the simple – 1:4
a. the simple – those who are susceptible to deception, the morally deficient, inexperienced, na├»ve
b. the seduction of the simple – 7:7ff
c. the instruction of the simple – 9:4-6
d. the content: the simple are instructed in subtlety, to be adepts, clever, cunning, crafty; the same word is used of the serpent in Gen. 3:1; God wants His children to be equipped to handle people who are crafty; Jesus said we are to be as wise as serpents and harmless as doves (Matt. 10:16)
2. instruct the wise – 1:5
a. hear – one must be willing to listen in order to gain wisdom
b. acquire wise counsel – literally “steering”
• Proverbs instructs both groups throughout, either directly or indirectly
IV. The literary devices of Proverbs
A. parallelism
1. synonymous parallelism – 16:18
2. antithetical parallelism – 17:22
3. synthetic parallelism – 10:18 (the 2nd line amplifies and expands upon the 1st line)
4. comparative parallelism – 25:12,25 (the 2nd line draws a comparison between some basic ethical or theological truth, or some illustration –usually from nature)
B. comparison – 16:18
C. juxtaposition – 25:14
D. numerical formula – 30:21,24,29
E. autobiographical point of view – 24:30-34

No comments: