To understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings.
God inspired the book of Proverbs for you. It is in the Bible to teach wisdom to the simple and young (Pr 1:1-4). It can also take wise men to new levels of knowledge (Pr 1:5-6). But the wisdom in Proverbs must be carefully studied in Solomon’s short, dark sayings. Careless or lazy men will give up before learning anything (II Tim 3:6-7; 4:3-4).
There are no boring or stuffy theories here that are hard to grasp and apply. Instead, there are short, pithy observations of life that can give you great insight into human experience and sure rules for success. Noble and wise men will realize this incredible gift and apply themselves to learn these obscure sayings of the wisest man in history (Pr 1:5-6).
King Solomon was also a preacher – for he used his great wisdom, social experiments, and findings in philosophy to teach his people knowledge (Eccl 12:9-11). He considered his collection of proverbs a great achievement. He made the project a priority, identified the best proverbs, and put them in order. He used only the best words and limited them to absolute truth that God approved. He chose the 500 or so proverbs in the book of Proverbs from the 3,000 he wrote and others he found (Pr 30:1; 31:1; I Kgs 4:32).
It requires effort to learn wisdom from proverbs. They are unlike the sound bites of politicians, the anecdotes used in most pulpits, the juvenile and sensational words of the media, and the dumbed-down wording of school textbooks. Proverbs are dark sayings: they are riddles (John 16:25,29). Their lesson is obscure. They must be interpreted and applied, or you will miss the lesson buried under the surface of the pithy saying. The mother lode of wisdom is waiting for those who will diligently mine Solomon’s proverbs.
You were born with several handicaps, which you must overcome with God’s help. All men are born with depraved hearts that lie to them (Pr 14:12; 28:26; Jer 17:9). All the learning the world offers is vanity (Is 8:20; I Cor 1:19-20; 3:19-20; I Tim 6:20-21). There are few teachers of wisdom left (Amos 8:11-12; II Tim 3:6-7; 4:3-4). And you were born in a lazy and impatient generation. Instead of McGuffey’s Eclectic Readers, you were trained by Dick and Jane and Dr. Seuss! Proverbs are extra difficult for the MTV generation, many of whom were taught the sight method of reading and/or Ebonics.
Instead of resenting the difficulty of proverbs, rejoice at finding the great spoil of secret wisdom hid among the words (Pr 2:4-5; Ps 119:162). Instead of grieving over the effort required, get excited about the intellectual challenge and soul benefit of figuring them out and applying them to your life (Job 23:12; Ps 119:96,104,111). Since they are difficult, most others will never learn the wisdom to compete with you. Grab the opportunity!
These are the words of God. These are the words of the wisest King and philosopher that ever lived. These proverbs will save you from trouble in your life. These proverbs will bring happiness and success. These proverbs will teach you wisdom – the power of right judgment in all situations you will face. These proverbs will give you the knowledge of why things happen to others as they do. You will have understanding over other men. You will be able to teach truth and wisdom to others (Pr 11:30; 22:17-21).
Why did God inspire dark sayings that are hard to understand? Because success, truth, and wisdom are not rights. They are privileges by God’s grace for those humble enough to study them diligently (Pr 1:7; 2:1-9). Wisdom mocks those who are not fervently earnest (Pr 1:24-33; 8:36). But wisdom offers herself freely to the passionate (Pr 8:17).
Jesus often spoke in parables, which are merely lengthy proverbs. Why? To confuse the majority of his hearers, who did not deserve the truth (Matt 13:10-17). If you neglect His opportunities to learn truth and gain wisdom, the glorious God of heaven has promised to take from you even the little understanding you think you have (Luke 8:18; Is 66:4).
You have been warned. You should read a proverb a day and diligently try to understand it. Wisdom is freely offered (Pr 8:1-11; 9:1-12). And wisdom should be the principal goal of your life (Pr 4:5-9). Dedicate yourself to obtaining God’s wisdom (Pr 18:1-2). Love and learn these dark sayings that provide great value and pleasure (Ps 19:7-11).