The Book of Proverbs is trying to get anyone who will listen back to the Tree of Life and off the path to death. This effort is personified through two main characters: Lady Wisdom and Lady Folly. Those who listen to Lady Wisdom escape death, receive wisdom, and walk in life. However, those who listen to Lady Folly repeat the mistakes made by Adam and Eve, earning the same result - death.
At a Glance
NIV Bible Proverbs Introduction
Israel understood that the Creator had placed an order in his world that could be discovered. The book of Proverbs captures these lessons in compact, memorable sayings passed down from the wisest among their elders. Many of them are from Solomon, a king renowned for his wisdom (see 1 Kings 4:29-34). These proverbs are especially designed to help younger people avoid common pitfalls and find the path to prosperity, health and security.
After a short section of teaching, wisdom itself, personified as a woman, calls out to the simple and invites them to grow in knowledge. This section ends by presenting two banquets, one hosted by Wisdom and one by Folly, illustrating the essential choice to be made in life. A collection of 375 proverbs of Solomon follows, reflecting the numerical value of his name in Hebrew. (Hebrew letters were also used as numbers, so words had a value equal to the sum of their letters.) After some “sayings of the wise,” next is a collection of Solomon’s wisdom compiled by the men of Hezekiah, king of Judah. Here the count is 130, equaling the value of Hezekiah’s name. The book closes with sayings from Agur and Lemuel, ending with a poem whose 22 parts begin with consecutive letters of the Hebrew alphabet. The character qualities praised throughout the book are seen in a description of the ideal wife.
This rich book of short, pithy wisdom presents a consistent theme: the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.