Proverbs by Shawn Tyler

  1. In our previous lessons, we have covered in the first nine chapters of Proverbs, the seven speeches of the father to his son and Wisdom’s two speeches. We discovered in chapter nine the dilemma that the houses and invitations of Wisdom and Folly are similar. How can we differentiate the two? The answer begins to take shape as we turn our attention to the second section or literary unit of Proverbs that begins in chapter 10:1 and continues all the way to 22:16.

    This second unit changes in literary technique from a speech format of the first 9 chapters to the more traditional form of dispensing wisdom – the short, pithy, sometimes humorous wisdom teaching commonly called a proverb. This format fills the majority of the book – hence the name – Proverbs.

    Chapter 10 begins with a superscription in the original Hebrew, marking a new section and giving our English translations a title for unit two of Proverbs. It simply says, “The Proverbs of Solomon.” This title attributes the proverbs from chapters 10:1 to 22:11 to King Solomon the patron of proverbial wisdom in Israelite history.

    This second literary unit consists of 373 brief, wise observations on life. They make their point in mostly two-line proverbs. The two lines of a proverb are intended to balance, complete, and reflect on one another.

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  2. Proverbs begins with a reference to King Solomon, refers to him again in chapters 10 and 25, notes King Hezekiah’s efforts to collect wisdom literature, and includes numerous proverbs about the king, his rule, his messengers and officials, his court, and his decisions. Therefore, it is not surprising to find that Proverbs ends with a short literary unit giving counsel to the king. In fact, I tie it together with Agur in this way. As Agur’s words provide counsel for the commoner, King Lemuel’s words give advice to those in authority. So that whether high or low, important or not, rich or poor, Proverbs contains wisdom for all levels of society.

    Let’s turn to chapter 31 of Proverbs for our last study in this series.

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Proverbs by Shawn Tyler

GNPI Uganda

What are some of your favourite sayings growing up? “Cat got your tongue?” or “A penny saved, is a penny earned.” or have you ever got “your hand stuck in the cookie jar?” Recently I heard a proverb from South Sudan, “If you are not strong, do not kick…


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What are some of your favourite sayings growing up? “Cat got your tongue?” or “A penny saved, is a penny earned.” or have you ever got “your hand stuck in the cookie jar?” Recently I heard a proverb from South Sudan, “If you are not strong, do not kick the buttocks of an elephant.”

We use sayings, or proverbs, as a way of transmitting truths. Proverbs are short, well-written, statement that connects a common understanding or experience to a meaningful life principle or insight. These proverbs serves as a memory device to capture truths in short sentences that can be remembered and applied at the proper time.

Here in Mbale, Uganda we are working on a project to help give people a more in-depth understanding of the book of Proverbs. Our host, Shawn Tyler, for this series has lived as a missionary in East Africa for over 30 years and shares his insights into the book and brings the book into today’s context.

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