The Personal Proverbs of Solomon
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Open your Bibles, please, to the book of Proverbs, that portion of the Word of God that we have been studying together for some time now. We are going to begin our thinking as it is related to chapter 10 of the book of Proverbs. I would like to remind you that we are studying the book of Proverbs according to the natural divisions of the book. We have said repeatedly that we believe that in every book of the Bible there is an outline placed there by the Holy Spirit; and if you discover that outline and follow it, then your understanding of the book will be the clearer and the better.

The outline does not necessarily limit itself to the chapter divisions. Sometimes it goes by them and sometimes it supersedes them, but the divisions are there nevertheless. You will recall we have already been noticing the first division of the book of Proverbs, having just completed it in our last study. We labeled it Solomon's Advice to His Son . We suggested to you that it went from chapter 1 on through chapter 9. We said that this represented thirteen lessons on wisdom, all of which begin with the words, “my son.”

We come now to the second division of the book of Proverbs, which begins with chapter 10 and concludes with chapter 22. That will be followed by what is known as The Proverbs of the Wise , number 1; then The Proverbs of the Wise , number 2; then The Gleanings of Hezekiah's Men . When they gleaned, Proverbs put them together and the Holy Spirit was pleased to preserve them in the book of Proverbs as we have it today.

A New Division of the Book

There are additional divisions to the book as you will discover, but we have called your attention to this much of the division so that you can recognize that in this lesson we are starting the discussion of a new division of the book. When we do that, it is important for us to understand it so that we will be able to recognize where we are.

This new division has a title, and the scriptural basis for the title is found in chapter 10, verse 1. Notice the very first statement:

Proverbs 10:

1 The proverbs of Solomon…

You may be asking, “Are not all of these proverbs of Solomon?” Not all of them. These are the proverbs of Solomon in a very special way, and that is the reason we refer to them as the personal proverbs of Solomon; but the actual scriptural title, as you will see in that first verse, is The Proverbs of Solomon.

In this lesson we want to become familiar with this section and not learn any one certain truth, but just familiarize ourselves with it. I think it would be interesting for us to keep in mind, as we become acquainted with this portion of the book of Proverbs, some descriptive facts about this particular division of the book of Proverbs.

One thing that interests me is that it is the largest single collection in the book of Proverbs, the proverbs numbering 374. You see immediately that it would be an impossible task to discuss each one of those proverbs, so what we hope to do is to establish some principles so that as you read these individual proverbs, you will be able to recognize them for what they are and follow through with your reading of the Word, understanding the same.

Another interesting fact is that each one of the proverbs in this particular section consists of two statements with one exception. That exception is found in chapter 19, verse 7. Turn there and you will realize that instead of two statements, you will find three. We read:

Proverbs 19:

7 All the brethren of the poor do hate him [that is one statement]: how much more do his friends go far from him [that is the second statement]? he pursueth them with words, yet they are wanting to him [that is the third statement] .

It is important for you to keep in mind what I have suggested. Each one of the proverbs, with this exception, is composed of two statements because therein lies the emphasis of the truths related to these proverbs that we need to be considering together.

Exactly what truths are presented? How are they presented in this particular section of the book of Proverbs? We suggest to you that this section, chapters 10-22, falls naturally into two divisions. In the first division the truths are presented in contrasting statements in chapters 10-15. In the second division the truths are presented in corresponding statements in chapters 16-22.

Let us illustrate what we are talking about and go back to chapter 10, verse 1:

Proverbs 10:

1 The proverbs of Solomon. A wise son maketh a glad father: [now in comparison] but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother.

From Proverbs, chapter 10, verse 1, through chapter 15, you will find truths presented by way of contrast in this fashion. To show that the thought is continuing all through this section, we ask you to turn to chapter 15, verse 1:

Proverbs 15:

1 A soft answer turneth away wrath [that is a simple statement and sometimes we wish we had remembered it]: [In contrast] but grievous words stir up anger.

This is something good for us all to remember. “A soft answer turneth away wrath,” but in contrast, “grievous words stir up anger.”

In this first section you have truths presented of two statements contrasting one statement with another. In the second section we said you have truths presented by means of corresponding statements. Notice, please, chapter 16, verse 1:

Proverbs 16:

1 The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the LORD.

You see the two statements: “The preparation of the heart in man,” is one statement, and corresponding to it, “the answer of the tongue is from the LORD.” That is, if you are God's child and are looking to Him for direction and wisdom, the LORD will prepare your heart so that the answer of the tongue is directed of Him. Many of us who are rather glib with words and quick to speak are sorry that we don't always remember that and wait until the Lord gives us the right thing that needs to be said. Again, that you might see this is the practice that is followed through the entire paragraph, look at chapter 22, verse 1:

Proverbs 22:

1 A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches [that is a simple statement, the truth of which cannot be denied], [and then a corresponding statement to that] and loving favour rather than silver and gold.

You will find in this second section this practice of presenting truths in corresponding statements. There are any number of ways to think about the proverbs which are contained in this section and elsewhere in the book, but it is difficult to decide on which way is actually the best because you have probably already realized that apparently there is no connection between the proverbs. Each one is independent of itself. In other words, it could be lifted out of the book of Proverbs, put on a plaque, hung on a wall, presented a truth, and you wouldn't need to know any other proverb in the book to clarify that particular one because they are complete within themselves.

For purposes of study, we could point out to you that sometimes there is a connection in the proverbs with catchwords or catchphrases that are used repeatedly, and one interesting way to study the book is to go through it and notice all of the proverbs in which those catchwords or catchphrases are used.

Another way to study the book of Proverbs, unless you are going to study each one individually, is to notice the proverbs as they are grouped together on the basis of principles or on the basis of subject. I have chosen that method to examine this particular section by way of introduction. This does not mean that this is all we will be saying about what is in this portion of the book of Proverbs; but to give you an illustration of what we are talking about, we are going to look at chapter 10 and notice how all of the proverbs are together on the basis of principle or on the basis of subject matter.

When you are looking at any one particular portion, it is well to discover all of the proverbs that are related to that particular principle or that particular subject, not because you will contradict yourself necessarily, but so you will have a full picture of the truth that is presented.

A Wise Son and A Foolish Son

The first thing that we would bring to your attention, and it is a good place to begin, is the proverbs that are related to the home in this chapter. Look again at verse 1, where you read:

Proverbs 10:

1 …A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother.

This certainly indicates that we are talking about the family. Now skip down to verse 5, and notice:

Proverbs 10:

5 He that gathereth in summer is a wise son: but he that sleepeth in harvest is a son that causeth shame.

You see where the emphasis is on what makes a happy home as far as children are concerned—a wise son and a foolish son. There is much more that could be said, but we are only introducing you to the portion in this lesson, so we pass on and suggest that you notice the emphasis that is placed (keeping in mind that we are talking about contrasts in this chapter) on the contrast between the righteous and the wicked, the just and the unjust. The terms are used interchangeably, and as you can see before you, the major portion of this chapter deals with that contrast.

Notice those verses with me:

Proverbs 10:

2 Treasures of wickedness profit nothing: but righteousness delivereth from death.
3 The LORD will not suffer the soul of the righteous to famish: but he casteth away the substance of the wicked.

Then notice verse 6:

Proverbs 10:

6 Blessings are upon the head of the just: but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked.
7 The memory of the just is blessed: but the name of the wicked shall rot.

Then look down to verse 11:

Proverbs 10:

11 The mouth of a righteous man is a well of life: but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked.

Then notice verse 16:

Proverbs 10:

16 The labour of the righteous tendeth to life: the fruit of the wicked to sin.

Continue on to verse 20:

Proverbs 10:

20 The tongue of the just is as choice silver: the heart of the wicked is little worth.

Notice verse 24:

Proverbs 10:

24 The fear of the wicked, it shall come upon him: but the desire of the righteous shall be granted [that which the wicked fears is going to come upon him, but the desire of the righteous shall be granted].
25 As the whirlwind passeth, so is the wicked no more: but the righteous is an everlasting foundation.

May I pause to say, as we emphasize the word whirlwind , that an interesting way to study the book of Proverbs is to mark down all of the verses of Scripture that have to do with the elements of nature. You recognize that Solomon was not a nature worshiper, but he was aware of what went on in the world about him. Notice, please, the paragraph which begins with verse 27 and continues on through verse 30:

Proverbs 10:

27 The fear of the LORD prolongeth days: but the years of the wicked shall be shortened.
28 The hope of the righteous shall be gladness: but the expectation of the wicked shall perish.
29 The way of the LORD is strength to the upright: but destruction shall be to the workers of iniquity.
30 The righteous shall never be removed: but the wicked shall not inhabit the earth.

The Diligent and the Sluggard

As we progress further in our discussion of the chapter, we remind you that there is also presented to us in the matter of division, the matter of diligence. Look back at verse 4:

Proverbs 10:

4 He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich.
26 As vinegar to the teeth, and as smoke to the eyes, so is the sluggard to them that send him.

I might say to you who are working with children that one of the greatest source materials that you have in the Word of God for illustrations and lessons to be used with children is here in the book of Proverbs. Many of you have heard of object lessons. You can make an object lesson out of vinegar if you are familiar with the book of Proverbs. You can make an object lesson out of smoke if you are familiar with the book of Proverbs. Another way to study is to emphasize this sort of thing.

The Wise and the Foolish

Another gathering together of truth might be related to the wise and the foolish, keeping in mind that we are contrasting these two groups of people. Keep in mind that when we are using the word wise and the word foolish , we are using it in the sense that we used it in the early part of the book of Proverbs. We are not talking about intellectualism. We are not talking about book-learning. We are talking about individuals who are open to the truths of God and individuals who have their minds shut to divine truth.

Notice here in verse 8:

Proverbs 10:

8 The wise in heart will receive commandments: but a prating fool shall fall.
13 In the lips of him that hath understanding wisdom is found: but a rod is for the back of him that is void of understanding.
14 Wise men lay up knowledge: but the mouth of the foolish is near destruction.
17 He is in the way of life that keepeth instruction: but he that refuseth reproof erreth.
21 The lips of the righteous feed many: but fools die for want of wisdom.
23 It is as sport to a fool to do mischief: but a man of understanding hath wisdom.

Deceitfulness and Integrity

You might compare and contrast the truths that are presented in relation to the subject of deceitfulness and integrity. Notice, beginning in verse 9:

Proverbs 10:

9 He that walketh uprightly walketh surely: but he that perverteth his ways shall be known.
10 He that winketh with the eye causeth sorrow: but a prating fool shall fall.
18 He that hideth hatred with lying lips, and he that uttereth a slander, is a fool.

Hatred and Love

Further perusal of the chapter reveals other subject matter which can be linked together by individual proverbs in relation to comparison and contrast, and one such that we hear much of today—the subjects of hatred and love. Notice in verse 12, please:

Proverbs 10:

12 Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.

The next time you are given to the revelation of the failings and the faults of others, you might keep this proverb in mind.

The rich and the poor, who are always in the world, are contrasted. Notice in verse 15:

Proverbs 10:

15 The rich man's wealth is his strong city: the destruction of the poor is their poverty.
22 The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it.

There is a passage of Scripture that the Lord can minister to your heart in a very real way.

Speech and Silence

Another contrast, as far as subject matter is concerned, might be brought together under the contrasting truths of speech and silence. Notice verse 19:

Proverbs 10:

19 In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin [that means if you talk a whole lot, you are apt to sin]: but he that refraineth his lips is wise.
31 The mouth of the just bringeth forth wisdom: but the froward tongue shall be cut out.
32 The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable: but the mouth of the wicked speaketh frowardness.

I suggest to you that this is simply a method whereby you can study the proverbs with some sense of consistency in view of the fact that they are all individual truths, not distinctly related one to the other, as far as consecutive order is concerned.

One other thing we ought to do in this study because it will help you keep in mind the subject matter that is before you is to suggest to you what Bible scholars commonly refer to as chapter headings . One good way to study your Bible is to read the subject matter in the chapter and write down a theme or a heading that you might want to give to that individual chapter. Many commentaries have been written on the book of Proverbs, and I haven't found any of them that agrees as to the chapter headings which are presented because, as you have seen from this sample that I have given you, the chapter does not deal with one particular subject.

The Wicked and the Just

I am going to suggest to you what I hope will be helpful in relation to these chapter headings by suggesting a key verse, which you will not recognize at first; but after thinking about it, it will give you the spirit, the feel, of the chapter as a whole. So may I suggest that we entitle chapter 10 The Wicked and the Just . I think the verse that fits in very well with that suggestion is verse 7, where you read:

Proverbs 10:

7 The memory of the just is blessed: but the name of the wicked shall rot.

If you use that as a key verse and list the truths that are presented in this chapter beneath it, then you will understand what I am talking about.

Because of limited time, all I am going to do is suggest, with very little comment, the various chapter headings and the key verses from which they are taken.

A False Balance or a Just Weight

In chapter 11, verse 1, we read:

Proverbs 11:

1 A false balance is abomination to the LORD: but a just weight is his delight.

Commended or Despised

In chapter 12, verse 8, the matter of being commended or despised. In verse 8:

Proverbs 12:

8 A man shall be commended according to his wisdom: but he that is of a perverse heart shall be despised.

The Sluggard and the Diligent

In chapter 13, the matter of the sluggard and the diligent. Notice verse 4:

Proverbs 13:

4 The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.

Fear of the Lord

Then in chapter 14, you will notice a reference to the fear of the LORD. We read in verse 26, the place that it has in our lives. Notice:

Proverbs 14:

26 In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge.

The Heart and the Mouth

In chapter 15, we have selected the heart and the mouth as a description that is found therein, if you will notice in verse 28:

Proverbs 15:

28 The heart of the righteous studieth to answer: but the mouth of the wicked poureth out evil things.

God's Overruling Providence

In chapter 16, there is the matter of God's overruling providence. Notice verse 7:

Proverbs 16:

7 When a man's ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.

This is something that always provokes my mind when I come across it. If I am having trouble and it seems like everybody is in disagreement with me, nobody is agreeing and everybody is making it rough for me, what is the reason? The easiest approach is to say that everybody is out of step but me; and if I wanted to sit in judgment more emphatically, I might say that everybody is out of fellowship but me. What needs to happen is for folk to get into fellowship and then there will be no disagreement, for this proverb says very definitely that when a man's ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him. It is very possible if you are having trouble, the trouble lies with you. You are not pleasing the LORD or your ways are not pleasing Him.

When Silence is Best

We continue in this division, calling to your attention chapter 17, the heading which we have described in the words, When Silence is Best . Notice verse 28:

Proverbs 17:

28 Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.

Silence is not necessarily always golden, but in most cases it is wise.

Separation of Pride

In chapter 18, we have a rather strange title, because there is presented a rather strange truth in this chapter which I have described by the words, The Separation of Pride. In verse 1, we read:

Proverbs 18:

1 Through desire a man, having separated himself, seeketh and intermeddleth with all wisdom.

The Bible teaches separation of various sorts, but there is one separation that it condemns, and that is discussed in this chapter, as is hinted at in verse 1 when a man separates himself—puts himself on a pinnacle of pride and meddleth with wisdom—speaking of things which are too high for him. The sad thing about it is that many Christians unconsciously can slip into this sin.

Princes and Paupers

In chapter 19, we have given the heading Princes and Paupers . In verse 10, you will notice:

Proverbs 19:

10 Delight is not seemly for a fool; much less for a servant to have rule over princes.

God makes the distinction between the two, the realms in which they operate. Men would do well to heed it.

The Devices of Man

Chapter 20 we have labeled The Devices of Man because of what is found in verse 14. When we use the words devices of man , we are thinking about the wicked devices of man which are used to accomplish their own purpose. Notice how well expressed that truth is in verse 14, when you read:

Proverbs 20:

14 It is naught, it is naught, saith the buyer: but when he is gone his way, then he boasteth.

It all depends on which end of the business transaction you are. If you are attempting to buy, it is not worth a thing. If you are attempting to sell, it is the most valuable piece of property that anybody has ever seen. These are the wicked devices of men to accomplish their purpose.

Man's Eternal Struggle

Chapter 21 we have headed with the words Man's Eternal Struggle , and it is brought to our attention by what is found in verse 30. Notice:

Proverbs 21:

30 There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the LORD.

We refer to this as man's eternal struggle because it represents man's eternal struggle to throw off the yoke of God, and we are reminded in this verse that no wisdom, no understanding, no counsel can stand against the LORD.

Spiritual Insight

The last chapter—I am glad that we can close on this note—we have used the heading Spiritual Insight , for you will notice what is recorded in verse 3:

Proverbs 22:

3 A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished.

This is a good verse of Scripture to use in everyday, classical Christian living. It is a good verse of Scripture for parents to instill in the lives of their children. It is a practice of life: “A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself…” That doesn't mean that he hides in an illicit, illegal way; it means that he takes refuge. He sees the danger, and he takes refuge. “…but the simple pass on, and are punished.”

Here is a simple Gospel text. You may be able to use it sometime. Perchance all of you here are Christians. If so, take this verse and use it with somebody who is not a believer; but if you are an unbeliever, heed the message now.

“A prudent man forseeth the evil…” “It is appointed unto man once to die, and after that the judgment.” “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” “There is none righteous, no not one.” “The wages of sin is death…” That is what awaits men who are evil, and a prudent man who knows that takes refuge.

Christ is our Refuge

There is only one refuge and that refuge is the Lord Jesus Christ, but the simple pass on. It isn't that they have never had the opportunity. It isn't that the invitation has never been presented. It is that they ignore it. They pass on and are punished. A wide field of application is in this one proverb. We trust that the Holy Spirit will minister it to your heart.

Conclusion

In successive lessons, as we pursue this particular section of the book of Proverbs together, we are going to follow different procedures to bring the basic truth that is found in this division to your attention. We will not be looking at every single proverb for reasons that we have already mentioned, but there are some thrilling things and thrilling approaches to truths in this portion of the Word, and we hope that you will be reading ahead along the lines that we have suggested and become very familiar with what is in this portion so that the Spirit of God can speak to your hearts through the very familiarity of the Word as you have made yourself familiar with it.


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