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Synopsis Home Proverbs Introduction
Proverbs
Introduction
Chapters 1 to 9
Chapters 10 to 31

The scope and purpose of the book

The Book of Proverbs gives us the application of that wisdom which created the heavens and the earth to the details of life in this world of confusion and evil. This thought brings out the immensity of grace unfolded here. God deigns to apply His wisdom to the circumstances of our practical life, and to shew us, with His own intelligence, the consequences of all the ways in which man may walk. For it is often in the way of knowledge, not of precept, that the statements made in the Book of Proverbs are presented. It is a great blessing to be provided for in the labyrinth of this world, in which a false step may lead to such bitter consequences, with a book that sets forth the path of prudence and of life; and that in connection with a wisdom which comes from God.

Heavenly wisdom exercised in, and applied to, this world

It is well to remember that the Book of Proverbs treats of this world, and of God's government, according to which man reaps that which he has sown. This is always true, whatever may be the sovereign grace that bestows on us things beyond and infinitely above this world. Solomon was filled with wisdom from above, but which had its exercise in this world, and its application to it; that is to say, which applied to it God's way of viewing all things, discerning the truth of all that, day by day, is developed in it. We have here the ways of God, the divine path of human conduct, the discernment of that which the heart of man produces, and of its consequences; and also -- for one who is subject to the word -- the means of avoiding the path of his own will and of his own foolish heart (which is unable to understand the bearing of a multitude of actions that it suggests to him), and this, not by bringing him back to moral perfection -- for that is not the object of the Proverbs; but to that wisdom and prudence which enable him to avoid many errors, and to maintain a serious walk before God, and an habitual submission to His mind. The precepts of this book establish practical happiness in this world by maintaining earthly relationships in their integrity according to God. Now it is not human prudence and sagacity that are enjoined. The fear of the Lord, [1] which is the beginning of wisdom, is the subject here.

[1] I have left "Lord" here as an expression of general application, but Jehovah is always His name in Israel, and that of government, save in a few cases where Adonai (Lord, in the proper appellative use of it) is employed. But it is to be noted that Jehovah is used in Proverbs, because it is authoritatively instructive in known relationship; never in Ecclesiastes, where it is God in contrast with man, having his own experience as such on earth. "God" abstractedly is only once used in Proverbs (25: 2). We have "her God" in chapter 2: 17.

Synopsis by John Darby