Bible Query from Proverbs
August 2014 version. Copyright (c) Christian Debater(tm) 1997-2014. All rights reserved except as given in the copyright notice.
Q: In Prov, what is the value of this book?
A: Many Christians can give many good answers, but here are words from a very early commentary by Hippolytus (225-235/6 A.D.): "Proverbs, therefore, are words of exhortation serviceable for the whole path of life; for to those who seek their way to God, these serve as guides and signs to revive them when wearied with the length of the road."
Hippolytus (170-235/6 A.D.) was a disciple of Irenaeus (wrote 182-188 A.D., lived 120-202 A.D.), who was a disciple of Polycarp (wrote between 100-155 A.D.), who was a disciple of John the apostle, who died around 90-110 A.D.
Q: In Prov, what is "wisdom literature"?
A: Today there are certain types, or genres, of literature, such as a novel, short story, historical chronicles, hymns, love poetry, apocalyptic, biography, etc. Some modern genres were not known in ancient times, and some ancient genres of literature are not written anymore today. One common ancient genre was "wisdom literature". There are at least four types of wisdom literature, both inside and outside of the Bible:
Proverbs and Sayings (Instruction of Onkhsheshonqy (400-300 B.C.) 11:10 says "he who sends up spittle to the sky, upon his face it falls")
Why Suffering (The Babylonian Dialogue of Human Misery answers this by saying the gods made men evil)
Pessimism of Life (Ecclesiastes is a part of this sub-genre, except that Ecclesiastes also transcends this by pointing to God.
The Bible says that other cultures had wise men, too. For example, Egypt (1 Kings 4:30; Isaiah 19:11-12), Edom (Jeremiah 49:7; Obadiah 8), Babylon (Isaiah 47:1,10; Jeremiah 50:35; 51:57; Daniel 1:4,20; 2:13-14; 5:8) Here are some other examples of wisdom literature in other cultures:
Insinger Papyrus (c.400-100 B.C.)
The Harperís Song
Dispute of a Man with his Soul
The writings of Prince Hardjedef
Instruction of the Vizier Phahhotep (Ptah-Hotep) ca.2450 B.C.)
Instruction of Kagemni
Merikare (2160-2040 B.C.)
Amenemhet (Amen-em-Hget) (ca.2000 B.C.) (father to son)
The Instruction of Ani (c.1100 B.C.)
The Instruction of Amenemope (=Amen-em-Opet, =Amen-em-Ope) (1300-900 B.C.)
There are similarities between Proverbs 22:17ff-24:22 and the teaching of Amenemope
Admonitions of Ipu-Wer (ANET p.441-444). A protest against the changes in Egyptian society, decline of morality, and unstabilizing influence on the social order.
Protests of the Eloquent Peasant (ANET p.407-410) (21st century B.C.) nine speeches of a peasantís protest against the Pharaoh for justice.
Sumerian and Akkadian
Instructions of Suruppak (Shuruppak) (ca. 1500-1000 B.C.) gives points of court etiquette
Counsels of Wisdom (ca.1500-1000 B.C.)
Akkadian Proverbs (ca.1800-1600 B.C.)
Sumerian: Man and His God (why suffering) (18th century B.C. A photograph of a table of this is in The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia vol.6 p.123. In this work, an innocent man has misfortune, prays for help, is finally saved and then praised his god.
Akkadian: I will Praise the Lord of Wisdom (sometimes called the Babylonian Job)
Akkadian: Dialogue of Pessimism (12th century B.C. teaching by contradiction) (ANET p.437f) a servant agrees with what his master says. When the master says the opposite, the servant also agrees.
Babylonian: The Dialogue About Human Misery (= The Babylonian Theodicy) 27 speeches between Shagil-kinam-ubbib and a group of friends about divine justice and human misery.
Hittite: Tale of Appu. Appu suffers because he has no children, and is criticized by his wife.
The Words of Ahiqar of Assyria (700-400 B.C. Aramaic, and possibly Akkadian) (An English translation of this is in The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha volume 2 p.494-507).
Pseudo-Phocyclides (200 B.C. - 200 A.D.) (An English translation of this is in The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha volume 2 p.494-507).
The Sentences of the Syriac Menander (3rd century A.D.)
The Wisdom of Solomon in the Apocrypha
Ecclesiasticus (=Sirach, =The Wisdom of Ben Sira) in the Apocrypha
3 Maccabees (1st century B.C.)
4 Maccabees (1st century A.D.)
(3 and 4 Maccabees are classified as Wisdom Literature according to The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha volume 2 p.vi-vii.
Within the Bible, wisdom literature is Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Job, and Psalm 19, 37, 104, 107, 147, 148. Some have tried to call the Song of Solomon wisdom literature, though it is really of the genre of love poetry.
See The Anchor Bible Dictionary volume 6 p.928-931, The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1815, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.905-906, The New International Dictionary of the Bible p.1067, and The Expositorís Bible Commentary volume 5 p.883 for more info. See The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha volume 2 for an English translation of the Words of Ahiqar, 3 and 4 Maccabees, Pseudo-Phocylides, and the Sentences of the Syriac Menander.
Q: In Prov, was "most wisdom literature was ascribed to Solomon almost as a matter of courseÖ" as the skeptical Asimovís Guide to the Bible p.506 claims?
A: No, Asimov is showing his bias here. Here are the known examples of Jewish wisdom literature.
Psalm 19, 37, 104, 107, 147, 148.
The Wisdom of Solomon in the Apocrypha
Ecclesiasticus (=Sirach, =The Wisdom of Ben Sira) in the Apocrypha
3 Maccabees (1st century B.C.)
4 Maccabees (1st century A.D.)
Not counting Psalms, only two of the seven are said to be by Solomon. Some of the Proverbs are stated to be by others besides Solomon and the Song of Solomon is not wisdom literature.
Q: In Prov, given Solomonís personal life, why should his writings be in the Bible?
A: First letís see what the Bible says Solomon did wrong
Sin 1. Solomon sinned by marrying alien wives (Exodus 34:15-16; Deuteronomy 7:1-5; Nehemiah 13:26-27; 1 Kings 11:1-2; 2 Chronicles 8:11)
Sin 2. By having too many wives (Deuteronomy 17:17; 1 Kings 11:3)
Sin 3. Wives turning his heart after other gods (1 Kings 11:4-6,10,33)
Sin 4. Building high places and idol temples for his wives (1 Kings 11:67-8)
Sin 5. Having many horses and chariots (Deuteronomy 17:16; 2 Chronicles 9:28; 1 Kings 10:26-29)
Here is what we can learn from this.
Lesson 1: Even with wisdom as great as Solomonís, someone can have wisdom and still not be obedient to God. This is humbling to know that no matter how intelligence or learned we may be, that alone is insufficient to draw us to God; we all still need Godís grace.
Lesson 2: Someone can practice wisdom in many areas, and disobey in others. However, James 2:10-11 reminds us that if someone obeyed the law in every area, except that they broke it in one area, they are still a lawbreaker of Godís law.
Lesson 3: God has the freedom to choose anyone He wishes, even someone like Solomon, to transmit His word to us. There is no verse in the Bible saying God is restricted from doing this.
Lesson 4: We cannot think that because someone has some serious moral deficiency, we can ignore their words. Godís truth is Godís truth, no matter from who we here it.
Conclusion: Solomonís words should be in the Bible because they are Godís true word. Solomonís sins do not invalidate Godís words, nor give us an excuse not to follow them.
See Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.250-252 and When Critics Ask p.245 for more info.
Q: In Prov, what is an outline of the book?
A: Proverbs is a loose collection of wise sayings.
2-7 Solomonís words to his son on the value of wisdom
Ö2 The benefits of wisdom are more precious than silver
Ö3 Wisdom gives rewards, but wisdom itself if a prize
Ö4 Wisdom preserves from trouble and sickness
Ö5 Wisdom preserves from sexual immorality
Ö6 Wisdom preserves from poverty, strife, abominable things, and immorality
Ö7 Take wisdom as your sister vs. the loose woman
8 "Does not wisdom call" - the desirability of wisdom
9 The Invitations of Wisdom vs. Folly
10-22:16 "The Proverbs of Solomon"
Ö10-15 The Righteous vs. the Wicked
Ö16-22:16 The value of wisdom
22:17-24:34 "Sayings of the Wise"
24:23-24 "These also belong to the wise"
25-29 "These also are proverbs of Solomon, which the men of Hezekiah, king of Judah, transcribed"
30 "The Words of Agur" - Comparisons of wisdom
31 "The Words of King Lemuel"
Ö31:1-9 The Ways of a King
Ö31:10-31 The Noble Wife
Chapter 1 is like a symphony overture. It gives a flavor of the motifs found later in the book. The fear of the Lord, a fatherís instruction to a son, and wisdomís call.
See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.906, the Believerís Bible Commentary p.791, and The New Geneva Study Bible p.923-924 for more info.
Q: Where is Prov quoted in the New Testament?
A: Here are the ten places.
|Proverbs 1:16||Romans 3:15|
|Proverbs 3:7||Romans 12:16|
|Proverbs 3:11-12||Hebrews 12:5-6|
|Proverbs 3:34||James 4:6|
|Proverbs 10:12||1 Peter 4:8|
|Proverbs 11:31||1 Peter 4:18|
|Proverbs 24:21||1 Peter 2:17|
|Proverbs 25:21-22||Romans 12:20|
|Proverbs 26:11||2 Peter 2:22|
|Proverbs 27:1||James 3:13|
Q: In Prov, how should we interpret this book?
A: The book combines both deep and simple teaching with beautiful Hebrew poetry. As 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.155-156 says, we should recognize that most of the sayings are both universal and general in character. The apply to everyone in every society, and the points are generally true, but not necessarily for every individual.
Q: In Prov, did Solomon write all of the proverbs?
A: No. Solomon probably wrote most of the Proverbs, but Proverbs 30 is by Agur, and Proverbs 31 came from Lemuel recalling his motherís teaching. As The Expositorís Bible Commentary volume 5 p.886 says, there is no reason to think Agar and Lemuel are synonyms for Solomon. More than four-fifths of the Proverbs are by Solomon. Clement of Alexandria in The Stromata (193-202 A.D.) book 2 ch.15 also related that Solomon wrote Proverbs.
The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.907 says scholars differ on whether the intro here refers to the first section (Proverbs 1:2-9:18) or the entire book of Proverbs, but that it probably just covers the first section, since other sections have their introductions.
Q: In Prov, since some parts are addressed to his "son", was this Solomonís foolish son Rehoboam?
A: While Solomon undoubtedly had a great many sons, this was probably not addressed to any specific son but to younger people in general. However, it is both interesting and sad to ponder that someone as foolish as Rehoboam could have a father as wise as Solomon. A child becoming as wise as his father is not automatic. The child has to desire wisdom, and the father has to have the desire and make the time to teach his children.
Q: In Prov 1:1-7, what is the purpose of this book?
A: Proverbs is a practical book with both deep and simple sayings of wisdom. Every believer needs Godís wisdom, and this book helps us learn Godís wisdom.
Proverbs 1:1-6 gives the stated purpose of the book.
"To know wisdom and instruction,
To discern the sayings of understanding.
To receive instruction in wise behavior,
Righteousness, justice, and equity;
To give prudence to the naïve,
To the youth knowledge and the discretion,
A wise man will hear and increase in learning,
And a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel,
To understand a proverb and a figure, The words of the wise and their riddles." (NASB)
See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.902-903 for more info.
Q: In Prov 1:7, are we to fear the Lord, or are we to love God?
A: Both, properly understood. We are to love God with all our heart, all our mind, all our soul, and all our strength. Yet we are not to consider God as merely our "buddy" and the ten commandments are not "the ten suggestions". Fear of the Lord is respecting Him for who He is, and being in awe of Him. Proverbs 8:13 says that the fear of the Lord includes hating evil, pride, arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech.
True Christians do not need to fear that God will send them to Hell (Hebrews 12:18-24), but we still do need to fear for the eternal destiny of those who have not accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior. For example, Peter was so concerned about the salvation of his hearers, that he pleaded with them in Acts 2:40. See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.284 and 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.156 for more info.
Q: In Prov 1:7,20; 9:10; 14:27; Ps 111:10; Job 28:28, what is wisdom, and how is the fear of the Lord the beginning of wisdom?
A: Wisdom can be defined as applied knowledge for life. It is curious that nations are not considered wise, only individuals. Respect for God and obeying Him are the starting point of true wisdom. Proverbs 8:13 says that to fear the Lord is to hate evil, and that God hates pride, arrogance, evil behavior, and wicked speech. See Todayís Handbook for Solving Bible Difficulties p.328-331 for more info.
Q: In Prov 1:8 does this mean we should obey our parentís laws instead of Godís laws?
A: No. Rather, this verse is teaching that we should follow Godís teaching, which many learn from childhood through their godly parents.
Q: In Prov 1:9, 3:2,22 (KJV), what are chains around the neck here?
A: These are not slave-chains, but jewelry. The NASB translates the words as a "graceful wreath" and "ornaments". The NIV translates this as a "garland" and "a chain to adorn your neck". The NKJV translates this as "graceful ornament" and "chains about your neck."
Q: In Prov 1:10, how do sinners entice others?
A: Sometimes they use a logical argument to convince others, but that is not the primary method. More often, it is an appeal to sinful desire, and to peer pressure. Imagine how different TV, movies, and roadside billboards would be if there were no enticements to sin.
A point to ponder is that two people might be exposed to the same enticing influences, yet that can respond very differently. We might not have control over everything that tries to entice us, but we are responsible for how much we allow ourselves to be influenced by bad things.
Q: In Prov 1:11,18 (NIV), what does "waylay" mean?
A: This means to wait in ambush to rob or harm someone.
Q: In Prov 1:13 (KJV), what is "precious substance"?
A: The NIV translates this as "valuable things", the NKJV translates this as "precious possessions", and the NASB translates this as "precious wealth".
Q: In Prov 1:29, why do some people hate knowledge?
A: While some people are apathetic toward learning, others actually hate some knowledge. Knowledge that you are not supposed to sin, and why you are not supposed to sin, is undesirable to those who have already made up their mind that they want to sin.
In a similar way, 2 Corinthians 2:15-16 says that Christians are the "aroma of Christ". To some we smell of death, and to others life. To those who reject the true God, we are unpleasant reminders of the coming judgment. To those who believe that sin is inevitable and normal, we are reminders that their view is narrow-minded and wrong.
Q: In Prov 1:32 (NASB), (NIV) and (NRSV), what does "waywardness" mean?
A: This means they are going the wrong way instead of the path of righteousness. The KJV and NKJV translate this as "turning away".
Q: In Prov 1:32, how does the prosperity of fools destroy them?
A: Money gives them the means of living out their desires. These can physically kill them, either through sickness (including cirrhosis), violence, or other means. In addition, a foolís sin kills him spiritually. The NIV and NRSV translate this as "complacency".
Q: In Prov 2:7 (KJV), what is a buckler?
A: The NIV, NASB, and NKJV all translate this a "shield". The English language four hundred years ago used to have a broader vocabulary than today for military items of that time.
Q: In Prov 2:8,13, what are the paths of judgment and the paths of darkness?
A: Paths are a key topic of Proverbs. Engineers today might call them processes. When you use good judgment, you travel along the path to being able to use more good judgment. When you sin, one consequence is that often you have a greater desire to do that sin again. In addition, sometimes you feel you have to sin a second time in order to cover up the first sin, as David committed murder to try to cover up his sin of adultery.
Q: In Prov 2:12,15; 3:32; 6:12,14; 8:8; 11:20; 16:28,30; 17:20; 22:5 (KJV), what does "froward" mean?
A: This means wicked, devious, or perverse.
Q: In Prov 2:16,19; 5:3-6; 6:24, what is a strange woman here?
A: This refers to an immoral woman, especially one who has sex for money.
Q: In Prov 3:2; 9:11; 10:21,27, how does obeying Godís law give you long life?
A: First, those who obey Godís laws are blessed by Him (Proverbs 8:32). Second, of course, living a godly life in general reduces your chance of dying of alcoholism, drug overdoses, smoking, AIDS and venereal disease, and even much violence. However, these are very insignificant benefits compared to having eternal life with God.
Q: In Prov 3:5, why should we not trust ourselves, since many voices in modern culture tell us to do so?
A: People can say they believe in God and the truths of the Bible. However, you can believe without trusting in God. Trusting in God means trusting that Godís wisdom is the best wisdom, and trusting that Godís way is the best way for you and all your loved ones.
Q: In Prov 3:7, how can someone be wise in their own eyes, and why is this wrong?
A: Ultimately, this means both trusting that your wisdom is more profound, more practical, or better than Godís wisdom. It also can mean that you think you have "arrived" and do not need to learn much more. Paulís attitude was very different from this in Philippians 3:12-14.
Q: In Prov 3:9, how are we to honor God with our wealth?
A: While work and time relate closely to money, those are different topics that are not addressed here. Here is a list of 28 ways we can honor God with our wealth. You can remember the four categories with the phrase, "Hope In God, not Wealth".
Hearts free from the love of money
H1. Realize that God has the power, desire, and the promise to provide for His obedient children financially. Do not love money (Psalm 62:10) or have your heart focused on money (Matthew 6:21; Colossians 3:1-2), and do not be worried about money (Matthew 6:25-34).
H2. We are to recognize that all wealth ultimately belongs to God (Psalm 24:1; 50:9-12). God brings wealth (Deuteronomy 8:18; Proverbs 10:22; 22:4; Malachi 3:10-12).
H3. While having wealth is OK (1 Timothy 6:17; Job 42:10-12; Genesis 13:2,6; Proverbs 10:4; 14:24), wealth can be a snare (Judges 8:24-27; Mark 10:21-25). We are not to love money (1 Timothy 6:10; 2 Timothy 3:2; Hebrews 13:5; Romans 1:29), be greedy (Proverbs 15:27; Luke 12:15), or trust in our riches (Psalm 49:6; 52:7; Proverbs 11:28; 18:10-11; 30:8-9; Jeremiah 9:23; Luke 12:16-21). Be aware that the rich have a tendency to be wise in their own eyes (Proverbs 28:11).
H4. We are to store up treasures in Heaven (Matthew 6:19-21,24; 19:23; Luke 12:15-21; Revelation 3:11). Do not be afraid to lose your earthly treasures for God. (Hebrews 10:34; Matthew 6:19-21; Luke 2:15-18,33-34; Acts 4:32-37)
H5. Do not envy others, or those who have more. (How much is the billionaire Ö worth today?) (Psalm 73:2-17; Proverbs 23:17; Psalm 37:4; Romans 7:7-12; 1 Corinthians 13:4). Do not covet what others have (Exodus 20:17; Deuteronomy 5:21; Romans 7:7-12). Do not view others simply as what monetary gain they can bring to you (Proverbs 6:26).
H6. We are to value wisdom more than wealth (Proverbs 3:14-15; 16:16; 20:15; Psalm 37:16), and a good name more than wealth (Proverbs 22:1), realizing how temporary wealth is (Proverbs 11:4,18; 23:5; 1 Timothy 6:7). Recognize that little with love and the fear of the Lord is better than much with hatred and strife (Proverbs 15:16-17; 17:1; 19:1).
H7. Do not kid yourself, thinking that your wealth can purchase with money anything of eternal value (Matthew 16:26; Mark 8:37; Acts 8:20-21; Psalm 50:9-12; Micah 6:6-8).
Integrity in Finances
I1. Do not steal (including software piracy) (Exodus 20:15; Deuteronomy 5:19; Ephesians 4:28; Titus 2:10; Matthew 15:19). Do not have or keep ill-gotten wealth (Proverbs 1:13,14,19; 10:2). If you have stolen, cheated, or done wrong, make restitution (Exodus 22:3-15; Numbers 5:5-8; Luke 19:8).
I2. Pay others what you owe (Psalm 37:21; Romans 13:8; James 5:4) and promptly (Leviticus 19:13; Deuteronomy 24:15). Pay your taxes (Matthew 22:21; 17: 24-27; Mark 12:17; Luke 20:25; Romans 13:6), and any court judgments (Exodus 21:22).
I3. Do not oppress or unjustly use the courts against others who are poor, when it is in your power because you are rich (Proverbs 14:31; 22:22-23; 24:28; James 2:6; Ezekiel 22:7,13,29; 45:9; 1 Kings 21:1-15). (Paradoxically, a person or nation can give the appearance of generosity to the poor, and still oppress them at the same time.) Rather, we should defend the oppressed (Jeremiah 7:6; 22:16; Isaiah 1:17; 58:6). As an example, in old times miners were paid by the company, and there was no store around except the one owned by the company who charged whatever they chose. There is a minerís song about "Ösold my soul to the company store."
I4. We should hate receiving bribes (Proverbs 15:27; 17:23; Psalm 15:5; Exodus 23:8; Deuteronomy 16:19; Ecclesiastes 7:7; 1 Samuel 12:3; Isaiah 1:23; Amos 5:12; 2 Chronicles 19:7), because they can corrupt our hearts (Deuteronomy 16:19; Proverbs 15:27; 28:16; Psalm 15:5; Ecclesiastes 7:7; Isaiah 5:13; 1 Samuel 4:3-4).
I5. Do not claim land that is not yours (Deuteronomy 19:14; 27:17; Proverbs 22:28; 23:10; Job 24:2) or other valuables (Joshua 7:1:20-24).
I6. Do not lie about what you are giving (Acts 5:1-11) or boast about what you do not give (Proverbs 25:14).
I7. Be honest and prudent in the use of the Lordís money (2 Kings 12:4-16; Nehemiah 13:4-13). Avoid the appearance of financial impropriety (2 Corinthians 8:18-21; 1 Thessalonians 5:22).
Giving Our Money
G1. Do not be stingy (Proverbs 28:22; 2 Corinthians 9:6), rather give cheerfully (2 Corinthians 9:7). God views giving in proportion to what you have (Mark 12:42-43; Luke 21:2-3) and what it costs you (2 Samuel 24:21-24). Giving to God is not optional for believers (Malachi 3:10-12). Sharing things in common is good (Acts 4:32), but having personal property is fine too (2 Timothy 4:13).
G2. We are to give generously to the poor, though it should be without fanfare. (Proverbs 11:24-25; 14:21; 24:11-12; 29:7; 31:9,20; 11:24-25; 19:9-10,17; 21:13; 22:9; Psalm 41:1; Isaiah 58:7-8,10; Jeremiah 5:28; 22:16; Matthew 6:2-4; 19:21; Galatians 2:10; Ephesians 4:28; 1 Timothy 6:18-19). Do not look down on the poor (Proverbs 22:2).
G3. We are especially to help widows and orphans. (James 1:27; Deuteronomy 15:11; Psalm 68:5; Job 29:12-13), other believers (1 John 3:17-19; Acts 4:32-35), and the sick, hungry, naked, and imprisoned (Matthew 25:34-46; Zechariah 7:9-10).
G4. Do not give money to a fool (Proverbs 17:16) or help those who refuse to work. (2 Thessalonians 3:6-15), yet do not look down on them, and help them if they repent (Luke 15:18-30).
G5. We are to give to the Lordís work (2 Corinthians 8:1-8; 9:6-11; Proverbs 3:9,10; 11:24; 1 Corinthians 16:2; Titus 2:13). However, you must respect Godís house (Malachi 1:10-14), be reconciled with others (Matthew 5:23-24), and do not give ill-gotten gifts (Deuteronomy 23:18; Proverbs 10:2).
G6. We are to provide for our family (1 Timothy 5:4,8; Proverbs 31:13-15; Mark 7:10-13;~Luke 15:18-30).
G7: Do not take money from unbelievers for Godís work (3 John 7). However, paying nonbelievers for work can be OK (1 Kings 5:3-18). Look for opportunities to repay peopleís kindness (2 Samuel 9:1; Esther 6:1-4), yet do not expect to be repaid yourself on earth (Luke 6:30,34-35).
Wisdom in Finances
W1. We provide for our own daily necessities (Titus 3:14). Godís ministers are worthy of their pay (1 Corinthians 9:4-12; 1 Timothy 5:18; Galatians 6:6).
W2. We should plan and save for the future (Proverbs 6:6-8; 10:5; 31:16; Luke 15:18-30; Titus 3:14), including an inheritance for our children (Proverbs 13:22; 17:2; 19:14; Psalm 17:14).
W3. We are not make rash financial commitments (Proverbs 22:26-27; 6:2-3) or put up collateral for another (Proverbs 6:1,3; 11:15; 17:18; 20:16; 27:13).
W4. We are not to squander our wealth or use it for sinning (Proverbs 20:21; James 5:5; Matthew 23:25; Amos 6:4-7). We should take care of our possessions (Proverbs 12:10,11,27). We should know the condition of our wealth, for it can be lost through neglect (Proverbs 27:23-24).
W5. Be careful of borrowing; realize that a borrower is beholden to the lender (Proverbs 22:7).
W6. Be wary of accepting gifts grudgingly given (Proverbs 23:1-3)We give to full-time godly workers & the Lord's people. 1Cr9:7-14
. Giving gifts (properly) can be advantageous to the giver (Proverbs 19:6; 21:14).
W7: Be wise: many people are tricky (Proverbs 20:14), resort to bribes (Proverbs 17:8), or financial dishonesty (Proverbs 20:17; James 5:4). Some can oppose the gospel for financial reasons (Acts 19:24-28).
For people who need a plan to be free from the bondage of debt, an excellent book is Breaking out of Plastic Prison by James D. Dean and Charles W. Morris.
Q: In Prov 3:16, Prov 3:2, and Prov 28:16, since we are promised long life, should the lifespan of every Christian, be longer than the average lifespan of a non-Christian? If not, how about the average lifespan?
A: If a believer lived a only 100 years, or even 200, with their body and mind in their prime, that would be a rip-off for our lifespan is eternal in Heaven. See also the discussion on Ephesians 6:3 and Proverbs 3:2 for more info.
Q: In Prov 3:27, how are we not to withhold good from others?
A: This can refer to paying wages to people you employ (James 5:4; Malachi 3:5) as well as alms that cost you something, and favors to help others that cost you nothing. The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.913 says it means literally, "Do not withhold good from its owners. The idea is fulfill an obligation such as paying wages to a hired laborer."
On a non-altruistic note, Proverbs 14:4 (NIV) says, "Where there are no oxen, the manger is emptyÖ".
Q: In Prov 4:6, how does wisdom preserve people?
A: Proverbs 5:23 shows that wisdom preserves people by keeping them on the paths they should go and off destructive paths. When you are in the center of Godís will, nothing bad will happen to you for discipline, and nothing bad will happen to you, except what God allows for His glory.
Q: In Prov 4:8, how are we to esteem wisdom?
A: First of all, this does not refer to all wisdom, but to Godís wisdom. We are to value wisdom more than wealth (Proverbs 3:14-15; 16:16; 20:15).
Wisdom helps keep us healthy (Proverbs 4:20-27).
Wisdom helps keep us safe and gives us security (Proverbs 3:23-26).
Wisdom helps us have long life, including eternal life. (Proverbs 3:16).
Wisdom helps keep us from poverty (Proverbs 3:16; 6:1-11).
Wisdom saves us from calamity (Proverbs 1:10-33; 4:10-19).
Wisdom helps us live with others better (Proverbs 3:21-35; 6:12-19).
Wisdom gives honor (Proverbs 1:8-9).
Wisdom keeps us from sexual immorality (Proverbs 5, 6:20-7:27).
Wisdom helps us in finding a good spouse (Proverbs 31).
We are to see Godís wisdom not only as a means to an end, but it is also its own reward (Proverbs 3:13-15; 4:7; 9:1-6).
Wisdom enables us to live a life pleasing to God and draw closer to Him (Proverbs 8:35).
Q: In Prov 4:17, how do some eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence?
A: Some people make their living, and derive their enjoyment out of wickedness and violence. They ingest wickedness and violence such that it is a part of their identity and their inner being.
Q: In Prov 5:3-5, why did God [allegedly] make the woman go to Hell just for being a woman? (A Muslim asked this.)
A: It is not this way at all. When Proverbs 5:3-5 talks of "strange women" it is speaking clearly of immoral women. I am extremely surprised that the Muslim would want to mention this though, because of what the hadiths says on the topic of women going to Hell.
Muslim falsehoods on women and Hell
"It is narrated on the authority of ĎAbdullah b. ĎUmar that the Messenger of Allah observed: O womenfolk, you should give charity and ask much forgiveness for I saw you in bulk amongst the dwellers of Hell. A wise lady among them said: Why is it, Messenger of Allah, that our folk is in bulk in Hell? Upon this the Holy Prophet observed: You curse too much and are ungrateful to your spouses. I have seen none lacking in common sense and failing in religion but (At the same time) robbing the wisdom of the wise, besides you. Upon this the woman remarked: What is wrong with our common sense and with religion? He (the Holy Prophet) observed: Your lack of common sense (can be well judged from the fact) that the evidence of two women is equal to one man, that is proof of the lack of commonsense, and you spend some nights (and days) in which you do not offer prayer and in the month of Ramadan (During the days) you do not observe fast, that is a failing in religionÖ." Sahih Muslim vol.1 book 1 no.143 p.47-48. See also Bukhari vol.2 no.161; vol.1 no.301, vol.1 no.28; Sahih Muslim vol.2 book 4 no.1926 p.417; vol.4 no.9596-6600 p.1431 Sunan Nasaíi vol.2 no.1578 p.342.
"ĎO women! Give alms, as I have seen that the majority of the dwellers of Hell-fire were you (women).í They asked, ĎWhy is it so, O Allahís Apostle?í He replied, ĎYour curse frequently and are ungrateful to your husbands. I have not seen anyone more deficient in intelligence and religion than youÖ. The women asked, ĎO Allahís Apostle? What is deficient in our intelligence and religion?í He said, ĎIs not the evidence of two women equal to the witness of one man?í They replied in the affirmative. He said, ĎThis is the deficiency in your intelligence. Isnít it true that a woman can neither pray nor fast during her menses? The women replied in the affirmative. He said, ĎThis is the deficiency in your religion.í" Bukhari vol.1 no.301 p.181. See also Sahih Muslim vol.2 book 4 no.1982,1983 p.432.
In the false theology of Sunni Islam, most hell-dwellers are women. They are ungrateful and unthankful to their husbands. Most heaven-dwellers are poor. Bukhari vol.7 book 62 no.125,126 p.96
Q: In Prov 5:8, what does it mean that we should not even go near the door of an adulteressís house?
A: There are a number of reasons why we should not do this.
1. It could be a temptation to go into the house.
2. It gives the appearance of evil to others (2 Corinthians 8:22; 1 Thessalonians 5:22), and it is a poor witness.
3. This could lead others astray. We do not want to destroy a fellow believerís conscience.
Q: In Prov 5:15, what does it mean to drink water from your own cistern?
A: A cistern was a large container for collecting rainwater. You should enjoy what belongs to you, and not covet what does not belong to you (Exodus 20:17; Deuteronomy 5:21; Romans 7:7-12).
See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.284-285 for why this is an allegory discussing marriage, and not just advice on water management.
Q: In Prov 6:1 (KJV), what is "surety"?
A: This is collateral, held until a loan is repaid. As a side note, in 1997 there were 30 million bankruptcies filed in America.
Q: In Prov 6:17, why does God hate so much haughty eyes, a lying tongue, bloody hands, wickedly scheming hearts, feet that rapidly run to evil, a false witness, and one who stirs up strife?
A: While Scripture does not explicitly say, this list is rather comprehensive of the basic kinds of evil.
Q: In Prov 6:17, why are these six or seven things?
A: This is a literary device, also used seven times in Amos 1:3,6,9,13, 2:1,4,6. The list has seven items, do not take the list being "exactly" 7, since some could be combined together. The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.917 says that this means the list is not necessarily all-inclusive, and special stress is laid on the final item.
Q: In Prov 6:26, what does reducing a man to a piece of bread mean?
A: This means the appearance of a relationship, friendship, and love is so shallow that the reality is the man is viewed as nothing more than an object by which to make money. All thoughts of the man as a human being are gone.
The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.918 has a different view. It says this means that sinning with prostitutes is costly, and it can reduce a man to having only a loaf of bread.
Q: In Prov 7:7, what are the five types of fools in this book?
A: The Hebrew uses five distinct words, and they have different meanings.
Simple peti in Proverbs 1:4,22,32; 7:7; 8:5; 9:4,13,16; 14:15,18; 19:25; 21:11; 22:3; 27:12
Fool kíciyl in Proverbs 10:18,23; 13:16; 14:16; 15:14; 17:10,12,16,21; 18:2; 19:1,10; 23:9; 26:1,4,5,6,8,10,11,12; 28:26; 29:11,20
The hardened fool nabal is used 3 times in Proverbs 17:7,21; 30:22
Sluggard Ďasel in Proverbs 6:6,9; 10:26; 12:11,24,27; 13:4; 15:19, 18:9; 19:15,24; 20:4; 21:25; 22:13; 24:30-34; 26:13-16
Mocker Proverbs 1:22; 3:34,35; 9:7,8,12; 13:1; 14:6; 15:12; 19:25,28,29; 21:11,24; 22:10; 24:9; 29:8
Q: In Prov 7:10 (KJV), what does "subtil" mean?
A: This is an old-fashioned spelling of "subtle".
Q: In Prov 7:13, what does impudent mean?
A: In this context, it means evil and not feeling any shame or guilt.
Q: In Prov 7:19 (KJV), what is the "goodman" here?
A: This is the husband.
Q: In Prov 8:1-17, how does wisdom cry out?
A: Given the troubles many people bring upon themselves due to lack of wisdom, the effects of this are one form of crying out for wisdom. However, this likely is not the primary meaning. Godís Word is telling us of wisdom, and the Holy Spirit is convicting the people of the world of their need to know God. While the Holy Spirit did not dwell inside of most believers in Old Testament times, Godís Spirit was not absent from the earth; it still convicted people of their need for God.
Q: In Prov 8:18 (NIV, NRSV), should the last word be "prosperity" or "righteousness"?
A: It is "righteousness" according to the NKJV, Updated NASB, and Greenís Literal Translation.
"Prosperity" according to the NIV and NRSV.
"Riches" according to the NET Bible.
The Jewish Tanach says "success"
Strongís Concordance says this word (entry 6666) means rightness, but it has a figurative meaning of prosperity. While the primary meaning is righteousness, the rest of the verse speaks of wealth, so this is probably why the second meaning was using in the NIV and NRSV. The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.922 also says the word is literally righteousness.
Q: In Prov 8:22,23 does this refer to Jesus, and thus show that Jesus was created, as Jehovahís Witnesses claim in The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived 1991, p.11?
A: No, Jesus was not created, and this does not refer to Jesus. Wisdom in Proverbs is represented as female (Proverbs 7:4; 8:1,2,3; 9:1,2,3), and even Jehovahís Witnesses agree that Jesus was never female. See the next question for more discussion, and When Cultists Ask p.72-73 for more extensive info.
Q: In Prov 8:22,23, who does this refer to?
A: This does not refer to an individual, but this is a personification of an aspect of Godís character. See When Critics Ask p.245-246 and The Complete Book of Bible Answers p.105-106 for a similar answer.
Q: In Prov 9:1, what are the seven pillars of wisdom?
A: Scripture does not say. It probably simply means that the house was large. Some might think it is the same as the seven spirits of God, mentioned in Zechariah 3:9, Isaiah 11:2, and Revelation 1:4.
James 3:17 describes seven aspects of wisdom: "essentially pure, peaceable, sweetly reasonable, satisfied with less than its due, compliant, fully of mercy and good fruits, impartial, and free from insincerity." (Wuest translation)
Q: In Prov 9:2 (KJV), how has wisdom killed her beasts?
A: The KJV has accurately translated each individual word, but modern readers might have some trouble here. This means she has prepared the food for her banquet. Of course, once one has killed the animals, they cannot "unkill" them, so at that point wisdom has committed to have the banquet regardless of who decides not to come.
Q: In Prov 9:2, how did wisdom "mix her wine"?
A: Wine was stored undiluted, and it was mixed with one part wine to 3 or 4 parts water. Wine was also mixed with spices. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.923-924 for more info.
Q: In Prov 9:8, why would a wise person love someone who rebukes him?
A: A wise person would appreciate correction, and not let pride prevent him or her from humbly accepting correction.
Q: In Prov 9:13, who is the foolish woman here?
A: Just as wisdom was personified as a woman, this other woman is a personification of foolishness.
Q: In Prov 9:17, what does it mean that "stolen waters are sweet, and food eaten in secret is delicious"?
A: There are three complementary interpretations:
Knowledge: Eclecticism is a false teaching that you should extract truth from many difference (and usually contradictory) sources.
Actions: There is no physical reason that water stolen from someone else tastes better, but people like the thrill of getting things. Sometimes rich teenagers have been known to steal sunglasses and other things, not because they did not have the money, and not because they did not already have sunglasses, but for the thrill of stealing. A Garfield cartoon shows Garfield the cat, his hands full of mice letting some go so that he can catch another. The caption says, "It is not the having but the getting".
Guilty Pleasures are all the more pleasurable to the wicked because they are doing forbidden things. For example, a person might get special enjoyment out of having a romantic or sexual relationship with someone they snatched away from a spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend. However, once this has happened, then the newness supposedly wears off, and they dump the person. The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.925 says this verse might refer to illicit sex, especially because of the reference to water in Proverbs 7:29-29.
Q: In Prov 10:12, how does love cover all sins?
A: You should be able to forgive those who sin against you. James 5:20 shows that bringing a sinner back from his sin covers over a multitude of sins.
Most importantly, Godís love forgives all sins against Him, for those who want to live in Godís forgiveness. God gave us this forgiveness, as well as other great blessings, through the death of Jesus Christ on the cross.
Q: In Prov 10:27 and Ecc 8:12, are the lives of the wicked shortened, or prolonged as Job 21:7 says?
A: In the most important way possible, every single unrepentant wicked person lives only a short time, because they will not have eternal life with God.
On earth, we see the lives of some wicked people shortened by violence, drugs, alcoholism, sin in general, etc. On the other hand, on earth we also see other wicked people who live a relatively long physical life before there judgment comes.
See When Critics Ask p.258 for more info.
Q: In Prov 11:1, what is a false balance here?
A: This was a very serious sin in the ancient world, and it still occurs in a different form today. A false balance is what a dishonest trader would use in measuring out grain or other things that were bought by weight.
Today, when the buyer is told one thing about his purchase and given another, lesser thing, that is in effect using a false balance. Two slang terms for two types of sinful business behavior are "bait and switch", and "shortchanging".
Q: In Prov 11:2, what does the word "pride" mean here?
A: According to The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.928, this Hebrew word comes from the word to boil up, as in cooking.
Q: What does Prov 11:16 mean?
A: This short verse of opposites is complex because it has at least three complementary meanings.
1) People respect a kindhearted person, but they do not respect a ruthless person.
2) Among those who excel at being kind-hearted are many women. A majority of the ruthless people are men. Men need to watch out that they are not ruthless. Many men can be kind-hearted too, but that is the subject of Proverbs 11:17.
3) Being ruthless can in fact grab more worldly wealth than those who are kind-hearted, but respect and following God are a greater reward than just earthly riches.
The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.929 says the word "kind-hearted" can also be translated as "gracious.
Q: In Prov 11:22, why does the Bible [allegedly] compare women to pigs? (an atheist brought this up)
A: No, the Bible never says women are pigs. Rather, this verse says that an immoral woman, who is physically attractive, is similar to a gold ring in a pigís nose. It looks beautiful, yet the entire person is unflattering. Physical beauty cannot excuse indiscretion.
Q: In Prov 11:25 (KJV), how is a liberal soul made fat? (is this news good for Democrats?)
A: This has nothing to do with politics, but rather means a generous person is made healthy.
Q: In Prov 11:26 (KJV), what is corn here?
A: "Corn" here does not have corncobs, but rather was an old-fashioned English word for grain. It was only after the King James Version was written that English speakers used the word "corn" exclusively for maize from the New World.
Q: In Prov 11:28, how do people trust in riches?
A: Some trust in their own riches to protect them or bring them happiness. Some know that their wealth does not bring happiness, but they fear that without wealth they would have certain unhappiness. Some see that riches really do buy friends, but they need to ask if those are the kinds of friends they want. Some people might not be rich, but if they become rich, then they think all their problems would be solved.
If you are going to trust in riches, trust in true, eternal riches in Heaven, not the petty riches of this earth.
Q: In Prov 11:31, how are the righteous rewarded in this life, as well as the next?
A: In a simple, non-supernatural way, it is easy to see that righteous people, who do not use drugs, get drunk, hurt their lungs, or risk sexual disease on average live healthier and longer lives on earth than those who do those things. Righteous people who do not spend their time chasing after those things have more time and energy for other things. Righteous people who do not spend money on evil things have more money to invest and use.
In addition, God watches over the righteous, and nothing bad happens to them, except what He permits for His glory. See When Critics Ask p.246 for more info.
Q: In Prov 12:1 and Ps 92:6 (KJV), what does "brutish" mean?
A: It means unthinking, unfeeling, or animal-like.
Q: In Prov 12:4, how is a virtuous woman a crown to her husband?
A: She not only honors and respects her husband, but her character brings honor and respect to her husband and family. Also, Proverbs 31:28-30 show that a good husband and children are appreciative of her and give her honor and praise, both to her and before others.
Q: In Prov 12:10, how should a believer treat animals?
A: We should have respect for Godís creation. Here is a synopsis of what the Bible teaches.
Use a livestock is fine and beast of burden is fine
Use a pets is fine
Killing animals is OK
Eating animals is OK
Torture is not OK
Respect the blood of the animal
Respect motherhood; boiling a goat in its motherís milk is not OK
Q: In Prov 12:15, how is the way of a fool right in his own eyes?
A: A foolish person usually is unaware of his or her foolishness. In one survey, business managers were asked to rate themselves, on which "decile" they were in as managers. Over 90% of the managers rated themselves as in the top 10% of managers. Actually, they probably were all correct, at least based on their own criteria. The book of Judges tells of a dark period in Israelís history, when "each man did what was right in his own eyes."
Q: In Prov 12:16, how are we to overlook insults?
A: This does not mean to be unaware of them, but to ignore them and forgive the person. However, one should not let another cause others to despise you; Proverbs 12:16 should be balanced with 1 timothy 4:11, where Paul tells Timothy not to let anyone look down on him because he is young.
Q: In Prov 12:21, how does no harm come to the righteous?
A: Many wicked people receive some punishment in this life as a natural consequence of their actions. For example, more gang members are killed by other gang members than others. In general, the righteous escape consequence of wicked actions if they are not participating. However, sometimes the righteous are unjustly harmed by the wicked.
Sometimes the righteous are afflicted by Satan, but God will vindicate them, reward them in Heaven, and sometimes also reward them on earth.
See When Critics Ask p.247-248 and Bible Difficulties & Seeming Contradictions p.226 for more info.
Q: In Prov 13:2, how does a wise man eat the fruit of his lips?
A: Good things come to a wise man from his words.
Q: What does Prov 13:8 mean?
A: This proverb is a favorite of mine. From the viewpoint of a rich man, riches are very important for security. They can ransom his life if he is kidnapped or threatened with death unless he pays.
However, useful riches may appear, a not-so-rich person is in many ways much more secure than a rich person, because nobody wants to kidnap or threaten him.
There is a more general principle illustrated here. Sometimes we insist on holding on to something because we are afraid, and having more of it appears to give us more security. However, if we let go, we can genuinely have even greater security. It is not talking about God doing miracles in this verse, only an unforeseen reward of prudent and generous living.
All can agree that a starving person who gets some money feels more secure than a starving person with no money. So more money always means more security and less worry, right? - Wrong. Consider the following: an expensive antique vase, an expensive car with a new paint job), an expensive house, more money in the investments. Without God giving direction to your life, each of these things can actually increase your worry, not decrease it.
Q: In Prov 13:8, what does it mean that a poor man does not hear a threat from which a rich man ransoms his life?
A: A wealthy man might be able to ransom himself or his family from kidnappers, but a poor man has no threat to worry about. Likewise, the more wealth you have, the more of a target you might be for not just kidnappers, but con-men and legitimate salesmen.
Q: In Prov 13:22, since we can give money to God, to what extent should believers leave an inheritance to their children?
A: 1 Timothy 5:8 shows we must provide for the needs of our family. Leaving an inheritance is good according to Proverbs 17:2; 19:14; Psalm 17:14; and in the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15:12,31. However, we do not need to give so much that they do not have to work the rest of their life. We should also give generously to the Lordís work (Proverbs 3:9; 1 Corinthians 16:2; 2 Corinthians 8:1-8; 9:6-12; Haggai 1:3-11). See When Critics Ask p.499-500 for more info.
Q: In Prov 14:4, why is the manger empty when there are no oxen?
A: This is a classic paradox. Since oxen eat the hay in a manger, one might think the manger would be always full without the oxen. However, with no oxen to plow, there is no food or forage, and thus the manger is empty.
Proverbs 14:28 has a related thought. "A large population is a kingís glory, but without subjects a prince is ruined." (NIV)
When you have prosperity, remember those responsible for your prosperity, and give generously to them.
Q: In Prov 14:6, why would a mocker seek wisdom?
A: This is truly unusual in Proverbs, to find a type of fool that seeks wisdom. As The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.934-935 says, his problem is not lack of desire, but rather of not fearing the Lord. It is not enough to want to follow God; you have to be willing to follow God on His terms, not your own.
Q: In Prov 14:14, how does God reward both the fool and the transgressor?
A: God gives them their "wages", in other words, what they deserve. The NIV says the faithless will be "repaid".
Q: In Prov 14:20, why does this verse mention that the poor are hated by their neighbors?
A: It is sometimes hard to be poor, and Proverbs 14:21 says that despising your neighbor, especially a poor neighbor, is sin. A cynic would think it did not matter. A naïve idealist would think this rarely occurs. The Bible does not want us to be either a cynic nor a naïve idealist.
Q: In Prov 14:23 (KJV), what is penury?
A: This King James version word means poverty.
Q: In Prov 14:25, how does a true witness deliver souls?
A: A truthful witness prevents innocent people from being wrongfully punished or executed. In addition, a truthful witness also helps convict the guilty and prevent more crimes from being committed.
Q: What does Prov 14:32 mean?
A: This proverb of contrasts starts with a similarity: calamity of the wicked and death of the righteous. The wicked, who are generally disliked might not be getting help in this life, prior to meeting great disaster in the next life. Even the righteous who die early have the support and care from God in the next life. Psalm 116:15 (NKJV) says, "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints".
Q: In Prov 15:1, how does a soft answer turn away wrath?
A: Meeting anger with anger only produces more strife. However, a soft answer shows you are not angry at them and implies you are reasonable and perhaps the other person did not have so much to be angry about after all.
Q: In Prov 16:3, will every work of ours succeed if we commit it to the Lord?
A: That is like saying if a child politely asks a parentís permission before doing something, will the please parent always say "yes"? - Of course not.
Q: In Prov 16:4, what is the day of evil here?
A: This is not one specific 24-hour period, but rather "when disastrous days come."
Q: In Prov 16:4, how did God work the wicked for the day of disaster?
A: This verse is the flipside of Romans 8:28, where God works everything together for good for those who love Him. Ephesians 1:11 says that God works everything together as a part of His plan. Thus even the fact that evil people are punished and sent to Hell is part of Godís plan. See When Critics Ask p.247-248 for more info.
Q: In Prov 16:31 (KJV), what is a hoary head?
A: This is the gray head of an elderly person.
Q: In Prov 16:33, should we cast lots for things?
A: This verse is not recommending casting lots. Rather, it points out that lots and other things can appear to be random chance, but God can move them as He wishes. If someone does cast lots, make sure you give a choice for God not to respond. For example if you are flipping a coin, and heads means "God says yes", and tails means "God says no", what if God did not choose to answer, and you are putting words into Godís mouth?
See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.331-332 for more info.
Q: In Prov 17:5, does injustice cause poverty, or does laziness as Prov 10:4; 20:13; 21:17 say?
A: Both are true because poverty has multiple causes. We are to help the poor regardless of whether their poverty is due to coming from a destitute family, injustice, or poor decisions. The only exceptions are that
a) We are not to help those who refuse to work (2 Thessalonians 3:10)
b) Do not throw money away by giving it to those who would be foolish with the money (Proverbs 17:16), and
c) Do not help those who do wicked things (2 John 10-11).
See 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.156 for more info.
Q: In Prov 17:8,23; 15:5 should this word be translated as gift (KJV) or bribe (NASB, NIV, NRSV)?
A: According to The Expositorís Bible Commentary p.1016 the Hebrew word used here, sohad, is never used of a disinterested gift. Thus it might be a gift, but it is a gift where the giver is expecting something in return. This word is also used in Isaiah 1:23.
Q: In Prov 17:8, 21:14 is bribery OK, or are bribes are wrong and corrupt as Ex 23:8, Dt 16:19, and Ecc 7:7 say?
A: There are gifts and there are bribes. Gifts are OK; bribes are not. Here is the difference
Gifts: Gifts can be open, or they can be in secret. They are not given to subvert justice, but out of love, or else to pacify someoneís anger at a real or imagined wrong (Proverbs 21:14). If a powerful king were about the attack a smaller kingdom, the weaker king might buy him off with tribute, and that is OK on the part of the weaker king.
In some cultures, a future husband paying the family of the bride a "bride-price" or dowry" is not unbiblical. In Roman times, many Romans government leaders had to pay bribes to get their position. That money was not lost, as they could collect it as taxes from the area they controlled. In Catholicism, many Popes and cardinals paid a great deal of money to obtain their positions. These were not secret gifts, so this technically would be a gift, not a secret bribe. However, this was still despicable to pay money to obtain a position in the Catholic Church.
Bribes: can be for extortion or to secretly change a decision on a matter (Ecclesiastes 7:7). The matter might be legal, a business buying decision, or a grade in school. Some bribes are primarily to ensure that a decision is made in your favor, when the outcome otherwise is either unknown or certainly unfavorable.
See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.286-287 for more info.
Q: In Prov 17:12, what is a bear whelp?
A: This is a bear cub.
Q: In Prov 17:15, what is the difference between justifying the wicked, which God hates, and being merciful to people?
A: Justifying the wicked means saying the sin is OK, no restitution is needed, and no repentance or forgiveness is necessary. Being merciful acknowledges that the sin was wrong, restitution may be required, but offering full forgiveness to one who repents. Repent means saying your sorry, committing to not repeating the offense, making amends as needed, and asking forgiveness.
Q: In Prov 17:17, how does a friend love at all times?
A: Of course if a friend did not love you, he or she would not be a friend anymore, but that is not the point here. One is a brother or sister by birth, but a friend by choice. Those who love by choice can be closer than brothers or sisters, who might or might not love by choice.
Q: In Prov 17:18 (KJV), what does strike hands mean?
A: In our culture this would mean a handshake to signify committing to an agreement.
Q: In Prov 17:19, how does a person who loves transgression love strife?
A: The truth of this verse has at least two applications.
Towards God: All transgression is sin, which involves a broken relationship with God. Think about it: whenever you deliberately sin, at that moment you are valuing that sin above your relationship with God.
Towards others: When people wrong others, either they do not care how others react, or sometimes wicked people might even enjoy the strife and bad feelings they cause.
Q: In Prov 18:4, how is the wellspring of wisdom a flowing brook?
A: It is not often that a foolish person says wise things; usually wise sayings correlate with wise people. A wise heart usually continues in wisdom, and wise sayings usually are not a "flash in the pan".
Q: What does Prov 18:19 mean?
A: This proverb is interesting because you might think it ought to talk about an enemy who is offended. However, it instead says that the worse thing is an offended brother. A brother would expect you to be loyal and caring, and he would be especially shocked to be offended, while an enemy would not be shocked.
We need to realize that people close to us can be offended. They might not get offended as easily as strangers, but when they get offended, they can feel more hurt than strangers. It is important to be careful not to take those who love us for granted, or take for granted that they know that we love them. We need not just to love others, but to express our love for others.
A second application is that when someone close to us offends us, we can feel more strongly about it (perhaps too strongly about it) than when a stranger offends us. We need to understand our human tendency to be seriously offended, and then remember that 1 Corinthians says that love bears no record of wrongs.
Q: In Prov 18:22, since finding a wife is a good thing, why does it not mention finding a husband as a good thing, too?
A: Obviously for every man who obtains a wife, a woman obtains a husband. Nevertheless, in that culture as well as in many cultures today, it is generally the man that does the finding and proposing. However, for a Biblical example where the woman did the finding, and God greatly blessed the marriage, read the book of Ruth.
Q: In Prov 18:24 (KJV) should it say "show himself friendly" or "come to ruin" as the NIV says?
A: It is understandable that the KJV translators were confused here, as The Expositorís Bible Commentary volume 5 p.1029-1030 says that the Hebrew word lehitroea is difficult. It means Ďfor being crushedí or Ďto be shatteredí but not Ďto show oneself friendlyí (cf. KJV). It also adds the verse might mean there are friends to oneís undoing."
Q: What does Prov 18:24 mean?
A: This proverb is somewhat of a surprise. One might think that many companions would guarantee success and prosperity. However, foolish companions be externally be a drain on your money credit, and reputation. Even worse, foolish companions by their advice and example, can be a drain on your motivation to serve God.
Q: In Prov 18:24, why does it says "come to ruin"?
A: This is a pun here. The word for companion is reíeh and the word for break in pieces is raía. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.945 for more info.
Q: In Prov 18:24, who is the friend that sticks closer than a brother?
A: This verse contrasts different kinds of friends. It is easy to find fair-weather friends, but it is precious to find a friend who will stick with you, closer than a brother, through hard times. Of course, the friend who sticks closest of all to believers is Jesus.
Q: In Prov 19:4,6, why does this verse say wealth makes many friends?
A: It is a sin to favor someone just because they are wealthy as James 2:1-4 shows, but Proverbs 19:4,6 is teaching the realities of life with sinful people. You must balance this with Proverbs 14:21, which says it is a sin to despise your neighbor, especially mentioning the poor neighbor.
While wealth might make many friends, a wealthy person might always be wondering who his or her true friends really are.
Q: What does Prov 19:7 teach us?
A: Proverbs 19:7 does not tell us how to act, but rather teaches us a sad fact of life in this fallen world. A man might be shunned just because he does not have money, influence, or power. Sometime friends are only friends because of what they can get out of the relationship.
Q: In Prov 19:14, how is a prudent wife from the Lord?
A: There are so many aspects of a godly character that it is doubtful men or women know one-fourth of the character of their future spouse. Certainly no believer should consider marrying someone without a lot of prayer to God for guidance.
Q: In Prov 19:17, how can people lend to the Lord?
A: While God actually has no need for anything (Psalm 24:1; 50:9-12), we can metaphorically lend to the Lord when we help others. In Matthew 25:35-45, Jesus said if you gave food, drink, hospitality, clothing, or care of the poor, strangers, sick, or prisoners, it was as if you did it for him. As a side note, Jesus did not says the recipients had to be believers for it to count toward a reward as being done for Jesus.
Q: What does Prov 19:22 mean?
A: Life is full of choices. If you had to choose between being loved and something else with no love, people really will want to be loved. The Hebrew word for love here hesed, means unfailing love, or a loyal, covenant love. A liar might get wealthy because of his lies, but he will never be loved because of his lies. It is better to be poor, and truly loved, than to be a rich, unloved liar. We should not envy other people at all, but it is especially silly to envy a wealthy person who has lots of friends but no real friends.
Q: in Prov 19:25, when the scorners are struck, who will learn from this?
A: Proverbs 19:25 does not claim the scorner will ever learn. Rather, naïve onlookers will learn, not necessarily the scorner himself. One use of prison is as a deterrent to crime. It is not only that the criminals are out of action for a while, but the unpleasantness of being in prison can make others think again before choosing to become criminals.
Q: Why does Prov 19:27 say to stop listening to instruction?
A: Not really; Proverbs 19:27 is ironic here. It is sort of like saying "go smoke and you will live a shorter life." It is not really telling us to stop listening to instruction, but rather saying "if" we stop listening to instruction, we will stray. In fact, if we stop listening to instruction, not only will we stray due to ignorance, but we can even stray from what we know. The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.948 adds that being wise is not a static state; a wise person keeps on growing and learning. It also points out that this is the only place between Proverbs 7:1 and 23:15 where the words "my son" occur.
Q: In Prov 19:27, is not all knowledge good?
A: No. Specifically, this refers to instruction in falsehoods that can turn one away from true knowledge.
Q: In Prov 20:2, how can does one sin against their own self?
A: All sin is evil, but this sin, of provoking the king to anger, hurts none but yourself.
Q: In Prov 20:8, how does a king sitting in judgment scatter evil with his eyes?
A: The kingís glance prevents evil, because evildoers do not do evil while he is looking. You know, this verse works for parents as well as kings.
Likewise Godís eyes see every step we make, and there is no place where evildoers can hide from God, according to Job 34:22-23.
Q: In Prov 20:9, does this teach that anyone can keep their heart pure, or not?
A: This verse shows the writerís realization that no one on earth can keep their heart free from all sin.
Q: In Prov 20:14, why does the buyer say it is nothing, and then boast about his purchase?
A: Proverbs does not endorse this lying, but it teaches us that buyers and sellers can be tricky, even when they are not actually cheating people. One might entitle this verse "seller beware".
Q: Why does Prov 20:16 sound unkind?
A: In the Bible, full of verses on caring for the poor and destitute, and generosity to borrowers, this proverb really stands out. For some people, extending them monetary generosity makes this worse not better. Someone is risking money foolishly if they put up a pledge for a stranger. If they have no money because they put up a pledge for a morally loose woman, do you think you are doing the right thing, or what is best for them, by giving them more money so that they do not learn their lesson?
The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.949 also says that Proverbs 11:15; 17:18 and 22:26-27 also warn us against cosigning for debts.
Q: What does Prov 20:25 mean?
A: It is like being trapped like an animal to promise something, and then consider the consequences of the promise later. This can be a trap for your time, your money, or even your financial security.
Q: How does Prov 20:26 relate to us?
A: When we see a wise leader winnowing (removing) wicked and untrustworthy people, he is doing what he is supposed to do.
A second application is that when we are in a position of responsibility, we have a duty to winnow out untrustworthy and disloyal people. Loyalty does not mean being a "yes" man and never disagreeing with you. Loyalty means doing your best, in an ethical and fair manner, for those who are paying you. Once you make a foolish decision, it is more loyal for subordinates who see the foolishness and privately tell you than for them to do nothing. Once you persist in a bad decision, and they have informed you about its foolishness, will they still follow you, or try to undercut their boss in the eyes of others? Of course, a subordinate should never acquiesce to a bad decision if it is illegal immoral, or against what God commands.
Q: In Prov 20:29, how is the splendor of an old man his gray head?
A: A gray head means (or at least should mean) the person has a lifetime of wisdom and experience that others should value and learn from.
Q: In Prov 20:30 how does the blueness of a wound cleanse away evil?
A: A bruise is black and blue. This says that a beating sometimes can persuade a wicked person to change his or her ways.
Q: In Prov 21:1, since the Lord turns the kingís heart as He wishes, how come kings do not behave better than they do?
A: God can turn any kingís heart as He wishes, but often God does not interfere with their free agency.
Looking through history, it seems God is not really trying to provide an environment where kings and others cannot do evil. Rather, God appears to be providing different environments where people can and have to make a choice.
Q: In Prov 21:14, how does a secret gift or a bribe pacify great wrath?
A: According to The Expositorís Bible Commentary volume 5 p.920-921, the Hebrew word used in Proverbs 15:27; 18:16, and 21:14, mattan, means much more than a bribe. It means a gift, and it can be a gift that is proper or it can mean a bribe. The meaning in Proverbs 21:14 is neither an improper bribe nor a gift with no strings attached. Rather, it means a gift given to placate someoneís anger, especially if you have done them wrong. See the discussion on Proverbs 17:8 for more info.
Q: In Prov 21:16, what is the congregation of the dead?
A: This is not a congregation of which you want to be a part. It is an assembly of those who are without eternal life.
Q: In Prov 21:17, since those who love pleasure, wine, and oil shall not be rich, how come some financially wealthy people love pleasure and wine?
A: Two points to consider in the answer.
On earth, those who love these things generally will not work hard to become rich. Those who already are rich and love pleasure have a high cash outflow, which can be a drain on their riches.
More importantly, those who love pleasure more than God miss out completely on the true riches in Heaven.
Q: In Prov 21:30-31, how is there no wisdom or understanding or counsel against the Lord?
A: While many plan to defy God, nobody ultimately can fight God and win.
Q: In Prov 22:6, what exactly does this verse say?
A: It does not mean to train up a child in your way, but according to his personality. The Delitzsch Commentary says, "Give to the child instruction conformable to his way, so he will not, when he becomes old, depart from it. See Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.252-253 and Hard Sayings of the Bible p.287-288 for more info.
Q: In Prov 22:6, since we are to train up our children, is it OK for children to play?
A: Sure. Not only do kids learn about relationships by playing together, and practice by role-playing, it is good to have fun. God views boys and girls playing as a pleasant sight in Zechariah 8:5.
Q: In Prov 22:6, is this an iron-clad promise for believing parents who train their children "right"?
A: No. No amount of right training will convince God to take away a childís free will. Even a promised child, such as Samson, still had the freedom to choose to disobey. Rather, this verse is an observation those who give godly training in a way conformable to the child, will in general see their children follow it all of their life. See When Critics Ask p.248-249, Hard Sayings of the Bible p.287-288, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.252-253, and 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.156-157 for more info.
Q: In Prov 22:9, what is our responsibility toward the poor?
A: The Bible has a lot to say, but one can summarize 21 points with the three Aís): our attitude of love, what we absolutely should not do, and our actions of love.
ÖAttitude of Love
Do not despise the poor (Proverbs 14:21; 17:5). Remember, God made the rich, the poor, and their oppressors (Job 34:19; Proverbs 29:13). Know that God takes our giving to the poor very seriously as he did for Cornelius (Acts 10:2,4,31).
However, if someone is rich like Abraham, that does not automatically mean they are displeasing God by oppressing the poor as in Job 29:12. Abraham was an extremely wealthy man (Genesis 13:2-6), yet he would not have been called righteous in Romans 4:3 and James 3:21 if he oppressed the poor.
Some are poor because they are sluggards (Proverbs 6:9-11; 10:4; 12:24) or made rash financial commitments (Proverbs 22:26-27; 6:2-3), put up collateral for another (Proverbs 6:1,3; 11:15; 17:18; 20:16; 27:13), spent their money on pleasure (Proverbs 20:21; 29:3; James 5:5; Matthew 23:25; Amos 6:4-7), or neglect (Proverbs 27:23-24)
Others, such as Ruth and Naomi (Ruth 1:6; 2:2) are poor through no fault of their own, as were Joseph and Mary (Luke 2:24 + Leviticus 12:8). Jesus, John the Baptist, and Paul were poor.
Care about justice for the poor (Proverbs 29:7; 31:9).
Remember the poor (Galatians 2:10). Reduce poverty and see that helping the poor is as if you were helping Christ (Matthew 25:34-46).
Our ideal should be to eliminate poverty (Deuteronomy 15:4), yet we should realize that the poor will always be among us (Deuteronomy 15:11; Matthew 26:11; Mark 14:7; John 12:8).
Ö Absolutely Do Not
Do not oppress the poor (Proverbs 22:16; 28:3; Job 20:19; Ezekiel 18:12; 22:29; Amos 2:7; 4:1; 5:11).
Do not charge exorbitant interest (Proverbs 28:8).
Do not make unjust laws. (Isaiah 10:1-2). Do not use the courts to exploit those with less money (Proverbs 22:22-23; ~24:28; James 2:6; Amos 5:12).
Do not be apathetic toward the poor (Ezekiel 16:49; ~Luke 16:19-20) or ignore their cry (Proverbs 21:13).
Do not show partiality against the poor (Proverbs 29:14), partiality to the rich (Leviticus 19:15), partiality toward the poor (Exodus 23:3; Leviticus 19:15). The righteous care about justice for the poor (Proverbs 29:7).
Do not try to eliminate the poor from where you live (Amos 8:4; Psalm 109:16) or destroy the poor (Isaiah 32:7).
Do not preach helping the poor and not practice what you preach (James 2:15-17).
ÖActions of Love
Be generous to the poor (Proverbs 19:9-10; 22:9; Isaiah 58:7-8,10) and kind to them (Proverbs 28:8).
Give to the poor. (Isaiah 1:17; 58:6-10; Jeremiah 5:28; 22:16; Galatians 2:10; Psalms 41:1; 112:9; Proverbs 14:21; 24:11-2; 28:27; 29:7; 31:9,20; Ephesians 4:28; Acts 9:36; 1 Timothy 6:18-9; James 1:27) and rescue the poor (Job 29:12);Lv25:35-37. Even give to the poor in business (Exodus 23:11; ~Ruth 2:2,6,15).
We should especially help widows and orphans. (James 1:27; Deuteronomy 15:11; Psalm 68:5).
We should especially help other believers (1 John 3:17-19; Romans 15:26).
We should especially help the sick, hungry, naked, and imprisoned. (Matthew 25:34-46; Zechariah 7:9-10;Is58:10-11;Ps69:33).
Do not give food to someone who refuses to work (2 Thessalonians 3:10). Hunger can be a good incentive to not be lazy (Proverbs 16:26).
Do not help those who are doing wicked work (2 John 10-11) or would be foolish with the money (Proverbs 1:16). Realize that some falsely claim they are poor, or rich (Proverbs 13:7).
See also Now Thatís A Good Question p.521-522 for more info.
Q: In Prov 22:12, how do the eyes of the Lord preserve knowledge?
A: There are two views: preserving knowledgeable people, and preserving the knowledge of truth.
Knowledgeable people: The NIV Study Bible p.976 says that God preserves knowledgeable ones, or wise people. The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.954 says that to be wise is to be under Godís protection.
Knowledge of truth: The New Geneva Study Bible p.12 says that God is the guardian of truth, and the Believerís Bible Commentary p.848 adds that God will preserve truth so that it will never perish from the earth.
Q: In Prov 22:15, how should we use physical punishment on a child?
A: Here are some guidelines on discipline in general.
1. The goal of chastisement is to encourage repentance. It is painful at the time, but it is for the good of the child (Hebrews 12:2-11). Do not use physical punishment that is not for the good of the child.
2. Do not cause any permanent physical harm to the child. Boxing a kidís ears can lead to a hearing loss; there is never a valid reason to hit even the most defiant child in the head at all. Yanking the child very hard could pull an arm out of joint. Shaking a child, particularly a small child can lead to permanent injuries, even death.
3. We are to use disciple for the childís good, not to vent our emotions. If you are very angry, it is fine to tell the child that you will punish him or her, but not right now. You will wait until you cool down.
4. The Bible is clear that physical punishment is acceptable, and in some cases it is best. Be aware that there are other forms of punishment you can use too, such as logical consequences (grounding, etc.) and natural consequences when there is no danger. A fourth grade friend of my daughter told me that her mother always punishes her by sending her to her room. In her room it is nice, where she can play and read. But, she hurriedly added, "please donít tell my mother."
5. We are to punish a kid for foolish disobedience, but do not punish a little kid just for being a little kid.
6. Children should know why they are being punished, and understand how they can avoid it in the future. They should not view punishment as capricious or without any cause.
7. We should realize that small infractions should have a smaller punishment than larger things. Godís laws in the Torah also have the punishment fit the crime.
8. When there is more than one child, the children should be disciplined equally, accounting for age. Boys and girls should be punished equally, without favoritism.
9. You should have no regrets on doing what is best for your kids. However, feel free to apologize to them when you punish them unjustly or inappropriately. It is good for them to see that you admit you are not perfect. Often they will respect you more for your honesty, than for denying what you both know is true.
See the discussion on 1 Kings 1:6 for more on structure and freedom in raising godly children.
Q: In Prov 22:17ff-24:22, is this section similar to an Egyptian book, The Instruction of Amenemope (=Amen-em-Opet), written about 1300-900 B.C.?
A: When Critics Ask p.248 says, "First, there is no reason why God could not guide Solomon to use other human sources in writing Godís Word. Other authors of Scripture did this (cf. Luke 1:1-4). However, it is not clear that Solomon used this Egyptian source. For, although there are sentences and contents that are quite similar, the fact is that the differences outweigh the similarities. Ö Furthermore, close examination by scholars has revealed that, if there was any borrowing, it was more likely that the Egyptian author borrowed from the Hebrew author. Ultimately, of course, God is the source of all truth, wherever it is found."
The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament has a similar conclusion. On p.904,906 it says, "The Instruction of Amen-em-Ope (ca. 1300-900 B.C.), a kingís teachings to his son about life, using some words similar to those in Proverbs (e.g., "Listen, my son," "path of life,", "the way"). The fact that some sayings in The Instruction of Amen-em-Ope parallel parts of Proverbs (e.g., Proverbs 22:17-24:22) has raised the question of whether Proverbs borrowed from this Egyptian writing, or the Egyptian writer borrowed from Proverbs, or whether both wrote independently about common concerns.". The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament on p.954-955 looks at both sides of the issue and concludes that there was not any copying. On the other hand, the conservative Expositorís Bible Commentary volume 5 p.883 says, "although the two collections are not identical, they are similar enough to attest direct influence." The liberal Anchor Bible Dictionary p.516 has the same conclusion.
Here is the evidence, pro and con:
P1. Most Proverbs were said to be written by Solomon or the authorship was not specified. However, Proverbs 22:17 on specifically say these are "teachings of the wise", implying Solomon did not write these Proverbs.
P2. Similarities (based on When Critics Ask and The Anchor Bible Dictionary)
|22:17-18||3:9-11,16||Appeal to hear|
|22:19||1:7||Purpose of instruction|
|22:21||1:5-6||Learning a worthy response|
|22:22-23||2, 4:4-5||Do not rob a wretch|
|22:24-25||9, 11:13-14||Avoid friendship with violent men|
|22:25-27||9, 13:8-9||Lest a trap ruin you|
|22:28||6, 7:12-13||Do not remove boundary stones|
|22:29||30, 27:16-17||Skill scribes will serve before kings|
|23:1-3||23, 23:13-18||Eat cautiously before a ruler|
|23:4-5||7, 9:14-10:5||Wealth flies away like an eagle/geese|
|23:6-7||11, 14:5-10||Do not eat a stingy personís food|
|23:8||11, 14:17-18||Vomiting results|
|23:9||21, 22:11-12||Do not speak before just anyone|
|23:10-11||6, 7:12-15; 8:9-10||Do not remove boundary stones of widows|
|24:11||8, 11:6-7||Rescue the condemned|
|23:29-35||no parallel||excessive drinking|
|24:12||no parallel||God weighs the heart|
Q: In Prov 22:22, how do people exploit the poor?
A: You can still be lawful, according to manís law, and yet still be evil. Some ways to exploit the poor are through the court system, unreasonably low wages, and taking advantage of the fact that they might not have savings, legal counsel, or good business sense.
Q: In Prov 22:24, why should we not make friends with an angry man?
A: There are two kinds of anger that are bad: brief uncontrollable rage, and long-term grudges. Proverbs 22:24 applies to both cases. If you associate with a hot-tempered person, you may have to defend him from the consequences of his own actions. You might falsely be considered the same as him, just by your association and defense of him. Finally, you might learn wrong things and become more hot-tempered yourself.
Q: In Prov 22:26-27, does this mean believers were to never be in debt?
A: No, this is not what the writer intended, and this is not how the Hebrew readers would understand this. For example, Deuteronomy 13:1-10 gives instructions about the seven-year "Sabbath" and the year of Jubilee for canceling debts. These special times would have been irrelevant, if no one were allowed to have any debts.
Proverbs 22:26-27 says that we should avoid living in debt, and everyone should see the wisdom of that.
Q: In Prov 22:26-27, are credit and credit cards OK?
A: Credit cards can be dangerous and not good for some people. As long as you can control your use of them, they are OK. However, whenever you are paying any interest on a credit card, because of the high interest rates, that is a sign that you are losing control of your financial judgment. See Now Thatís A Good Question p.439-441 for more info.
Q: In Prov 22:28; 23:10; Dt 19:4; 27:17; Job 24:2 (KJV), what is a landmark?
A: This is a boundary stone, typically a pile of rocks neighbors set up to show the boundary between the adjoining lands.
Q: In Prov 22:29, how do we honor God with our work?
A: While money are time are related to business, they are different topics that are not addressed here. Here is a list of ways we can please God with our work. You can remember the five categories with the phrase, "Put Him In The Company"
P1. Do not serve money or wear yourself out to get rich. (Matthew 6:24-34; Proverbs 23:4; 1 Timothy 6:9-10).
P2. Honor the Sabbath, or else view all days as belonging to the Lord. (Isaiah 56:2,6; Romans 14:5-6; Hebrews 4:8-11) Regardless, do not overwork yourself, and have priority time for God and family.
P3. Even in your business, be kind to the poor (Exodus 23:11; Deuteronomy 24:19-22; ~Ruth 2:2,6,15).
P4. Do not be so busy doing your things, you do not have time to build Godís things (Haggai 1:2-15).
P5. Work is good and given by God (Genesis 2:15). Painful toil is a curse though (Genesis 3:17-19).
P6. You do not have time for getting revenge; leave all that to God (Proverbs 20:22; 24:28-29). Do not gloat over others (Proverbs 24:17-18).
D1. Be diligent and hard-working (Proverbs 14:23). Do not be lazy. (1 Thessalonians 5:14; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-12; Proverbs 6:6-11; 12:24,27; 15:19; Ecclesiastes 11:6; Titus 3:14).
D2. Be skilled at what you do (Proverbs 22:29; 1 Corinthians 4:12; Ephesians 6:5-8), and do it as you were serving the Lord (Colossians 3:22-24)
D3. Caution is good (Proverbs 22:3), but do not be scared off by unsubstantiated rumors (Proverbs 22:13, Nehemiah 6:6-13).
D4. Do not just do what you should, do it on time, when you are supposed to (Proverbs 20:4).
I1. Be honest with everyone: boss, subordinates, customers, vendors, reviewers, even competitors (Proverbs 11:1; 16:11; 20:10,23; Leviticus 19:13-14,35-36; Deuteronomy 25:13-16; Micah 6:10-11).
I2. However, being honest does not mean you have to spill your guts, and tell everyone everything you know (Proverbs 12:23; 1 Samuel 16:2-5). Hiding information is OK.
I3. Do not cheat by secretly using differing scales (Proverbs 11:1; 16:11; 20:10,23; Leviticus 19:35-36; Deuteronomy 25:13).
I4. Make every effort to timely repay debts. (Psalm 37:21; Romans 13:8; Proverbs 22:7; Deuteronomy 28:12) and wages (James 5:4; Deuteronomy 24:14-15).
I5. Do not accept bribes or give improper gifts (Deuteronomy 16:19; Proverbs 15:27; 17:23; 29:4; Psalm 15:5; Ecclesiastes 7:7; Isaiah 5:13; 1 Samuel 4:3-4; 2 Chronicles 19:7)
I6. Value and maintain a good name (Proverbs 22:1).
Thinking Ahead and Looking Around
T1. Realize that others might use pretensions (Proverbs 13:7), deceit (Joshua 6) and give bribes (Proverbs 15:27; 17:23; Psalm 15:5; Exodus 23:8; Deuteronomy 16:19; Ecclesiastes 7:7; 1 Samuel 12:3; Isaiah 1:23; Amos 5:12, Deuteronomy 16:19; Proverbs 15:27; 28:16; Psalm 15:5; Ecclesiastes 7:7; Isaiah 5:13; 1 Samuel 4:3-4; 2 Chronicles 19:7). Malicious people can use charming words (Proverbs 26:24-25). Someone can make a fortune by lying (Proverbs 21:6). Do not be crafty (Proverbs 14:17) or devious (Proverbs 21:8).
T2. Planning is both good and essential (Proverbs 20:4,18; 21:5; 30:25). Give thought to your ways (Proverbs 14:8; Titus 3:14).
T3. However, all our plans can come to nothing, and are based on Godís will (James 4:13-16; Proverbs 16:9; 19:21; 21:30-31; 27:1; 16:9; Luke 12:15-21)
T4. If you are rich, do not believe everyone who says they are your faithful friend (Proverbs 20:6; 14:20).
T5. To not make rash financial commitments (Proverbs 20:16,25). Do not be quick-tempered, or you will do foolish things (Proverbs 14:17; 19:19).
T6. Stinginess does not make you rich (Proverbs 28:22).
T7. Do not plan evil (Proverbs 30:32), work on evil things, or let your work advance sin, because whatever you are doing, you are doing for the Lord (Ephesians 6:7; Colossians 3:17).
C1. Treat others, as you would want to be treated. If a subordinate, boss, or competitor were a member of your church, how would Jesus want you to treat him or her?
C2. Do not be yoked with unbelievers, including business partnerships (2 Corinthians 6:14-18)
C3. Some people cannot be told some lessons; they have to experience it themselves (Proverbs 29:19). We can teach children of all ages, but do not waste time trying to teach a fool (Proverbs 1:7; 23:9; 24:7; 26:4; 14:7; 9:8; 15:5).
C4. However, working for a large secular organization is fine, as Joseph, Daniel, Nehemiah, and Obadiah (in 1 Kings 18:3) did.
C5. Look for opportunities to repay peopleís kindness (2 Samuel 9:1; Esther 6:1-4; Proverbs 14:4).
C6. Do not pamper subordinates (Proverbs 29:21).
C7. Be careful in whom you hire; do not hire fools or just anybody (Proverbs 26:10). Do not listen to the advice of a fool (Proverbs 14:7). Avoid someone who talks too much (Proverbs 20:19; 17:28), is disloyal (Proverbs 17:11), hot-tempered (Proverbs 19:19; 22:24-25), or will not listen to instruction (Proverbs 19:20; 20:18).
C8. To the extent possible, choose a boss that is fair, not hot-tempered (Proverbs 19:19; 22:24-25), an evil or violent person (Proverbs 24:1; 28:15; 29:27), tyrannical (Proverbs 28:16), a glutton (Proverbs 28:7), or a gossip who talks too much (Proverbs 20:19).
See also Sound Business Decisions by Larry Burkett for very practical advice on hiring and firing.
Q: In Prov 23:1-3, why should you not always depend on the generosity of a ruler?
A: Not all offers of generosity are genuine. Even when Esther needed to make a request, she was very cautious of her use of the kingís generosity in Esther 5:3,6.
On a humorous note, it was said that Napoleon Bonaparte was a fast eater. Whenever he invited someone to dine with him, the servants served Napoleon first. As soon as Napoleon finished, all the food was removed. Thus guests learned to eat before coming to dine with Napoleon.
Q: In Prov 23:6, what is an evil eye here?
A: The "man with an evil eye" means a stingy man.
Q: In Prov 23:7, what is the proper translation?
A: There is uncertainty in the Hebrew here. It could mean "As a man thinks, so is he", or As he puts on a feast [stingily] so is he".
Q: In Prov 23:7, does this show our thoughts shape reality, as the Christian Science cult claims?
A: No. Four points to consider in the answer.
1. First of all, the correct meaning might be "as he puts on a feast [with stinginess] so is he".
2. Even if the translation should be "As a man thinks, so is he", this would only affect the man. It does not say, "As a man thinks so are other people, inanimate objects, and the entire reality of the universe as we know it."
3. The correct meaning would be that a manís thinking and view of himself affects how he acts, and even who he is.
4. Pretend for a second that "as a man thinks, so is all of reality" were true. This viewpoint is a philosophical curiosity called "solipsism". This view is that "I" am the only reality, and everything else in the universe is an unreal phantom made for my existence. Thus all other people, events and things do not really exist, and "me" and "my interactions" are all that is important. While this is the ultimate in selfishness, it would not due to argue with a solipsist. Why should he listen to you, since you do not really exist anyway!
See When Cultists Ask p.73 for more info.
Q: In Prov 23:9; 26:4, why should we not speak to a fool?
A: This says not to try to educate a fool since he despises knowledge and does not want to be educated. However, you might still need to refute a foolís speech in order that the foolish person might not mislead others.
Q: In Prov 23:10, what exactly is a boundary stone?
A: Unlike modern western societies, there was no county courthouse people could go to for survey records. Rather, boundary stones marked the boundary of the land a person owned. By secretly moving a boundary stone, a people could dishonestly add to a their own property at the expense of their neighbors.
Q: In Prov 23:17 and Ps 37:4, what are some ways that people envy sinners?
A: People can envy sinners in at least four ways.
1. The envy who sinners are, and try to emulate them.
2. They envy both what they have, and what they could have.
3. They envy their power.
4. They envy their getting away with things.
When a book comes out about a famous "gangster", "madam", or evil person, if you have a strong desire to read it, it is good to ask yourself why do you want to learn more about doing evil?
Q: In Prov 23:23, how are we to "buy the truth and not sell it"?
A: It is worth giving up many other things for the sake of truth. One that that can be shock to many people, Christians in particular, is that many cultures and religions attach very little importance to truth.
For example, Hinduism is known for not caring about the "law of non-contradiction". In other words, if something is not A, then the same thing cannot be A at the same time. In the Rig-Veda, one of the earliest Hindu scriptures, they mention a horse sacrifice, with no intimation that this either a joke, metaphor, or anything but a horse sacrifice. Many Hindus still "believe" the Vedas are true, but they do not do horse sacrifices.
According to the Sunni Muslim Hadiths, in a court case before a Islamic court, if three people testified, a non-Muslim, a devout Muslim woman, and a Muslim man who was caught in a lie just a few minutes before, the Muslim liar would be trusted, the non-Muslimís testimony would have almost no weight, and the Muslim womanís testimony would have half the weight of the Muslim manís testimony.
In Mormonism, since Joseph Smith Jr. was convicted of the occult practice of glass-looking (in a small town where it is highly unlikely there would be other Joseph Smith Jrís,), the fact that he was convicted of this (misdemeanor) crime of occultic behavior is of little concern to many Mormons.
In Rev. Moonís Unification church, they have the doctrine of "heavenly deception", where it is OK to lie for a good cause. While the Unification Church has always been strongly anti-Communist, in this point they are only one very small step from the Communist view, that defines "truth" as whatever helps Communism.
With this in mind, Christians do not only have to show people what the truth is, they have to also show people that truth is important, and choosing to be blind to the truth can have serious and eternal consequences.
Q: In Prov 24:23-24, Prov 25, Prov 30 and Prov 31, are these chapters later "add-ons"?
A: While these two chapters could have been Solomon writing truths he heard from othersí teaching, there is no reason to conclude this had to be the case. This might have been added to Proverbs later. Proverbs 25 in particular was a collection of Solomonís proverbs added in Hezekiahís time, hundreds of years later.
In Psalms, Psalm 127 and Psalm 137 were added on later, after Davidís time.
See When Critics Ask p.250 for more info.
Q: In Prov 24:11, does "delivering those who are drawn toward death" justify almost any means to stop abortions?
A: No. You can never take one single command in Scripture to justify ignoring other commands. While there is a hierarchy of obedience (for example, obey human governments except where they order you to do something contrary to Godís law), use of murder to stop murder is not justified. See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.288-289 and When Critics Ask p.249-250 for more info.
Q: In Prov 25:1, since Hezekiahís men copied these proverbs, were these sayings scripture prior to their being copied down?
A: Yes, but there is more to consider here. In general, when something is copied down, it can be copied exactly, the order changed, some things rephrased, substantially changed, deleted, or added. For example, Jeremiah "dictated" to his scriber Baruch in Jeremiah 45:1-2. However, this was written before many Jews went to Egypt, and the Septuagint shows that the version of Jeremiah that the Egyptian Jews used had many parts in a different order than the Hebrew. If and when the order is changed, without changing the meaning, it can still be all Godís word either way.
While we have no basis of independently cross-checking the work of Hezekiahís men, we do not believe they added or deleted anything significantly that would not make it infallible. We believe it was copied accurately because of Godís promise to preserve His word (Psalm 119:89) and that it would not depart from His people forever (Isaiah 59:21).
Q: In Prov 25:2, how is it the glory of kings to search out what God has hidden?
A: One might wonder if it is proper for humans to try to discover and reveal to others things that God did not make obvious. Proverbs 25:2 assures us that is fine. A piece of trivia is that during the Puritan revival in England, the percentage of Puritans in scientific societies was larger than the percentage of Puritans in the total population.
Q: In Prov 25:3, how is the heart of a king unsearchable?
A: An earthly king is not necessarily smarter than anyone else, but sometimes a common person cannot see why a king makes the decision he makes. This is because the common person does not know all the other factors and circumstances the king sees. How much more that we cannot understand why God does some of the things He does, because He sees all the factors and circumstances we do not see.
Q: In Prov 25:4, what is dross?
A: This is the useless part of the silver ore that must be separated from the valuable silver.
Q: In Prov 25:7, why should you be slow to bring things to court?
A: While initiating a court case can backfire on you, that is not a primary reason. You should avoid the appearance of evil (2 Corinthians 8:22; 1 Thessalonians 5:22), such as using courts to oppress others or to gain an unjust verdict. Genuine Christians are not to go to court against other genuine Christians (1 Corinthians 6:1-8). It is OK for Christians to sue others and go to court in certain instances, such as when they clearly are in the right. However, even in those cases, it is better to try to reason with the other party prior to ending up in court.
Q: In Prov 25:9 (KJV), what does "discover not a secret to another" mean?
A: This means not to tell others what someone secretly told you in confidence.
Q: In Prov 25:9-10 when should we reveal a secret?
A: A secret is something that few others know, even if it is not called a secret. I used to think, "When we believe the originator does not care, it is fine to mention to others", but I was sure wrong.
Check with the person first. Sometimes what you think is unimportant, and you would not mind others knowing about you, can be a private thing to someone else.
Of course, if a criminal tells you secretly that he or she is going to harm someone, you should tell the authorities.
Q: In Prov 25:14, how is boasting of gifts never given similar to clouds without rain?
A: Farmers who need rain are even more disappointed when rain clouds appear, but rain still does not come. Likewise, to someone who needs money, talent, or something else, it is frustrating when some person promises to help, but then lets you down. It would feel better to never had heard the offer in the first place.
Q: In Prov 25:15, how can a tongue, even more so a gentle tongue, break a bone?
A: Proverbs 25:15 shows that by persuasion, a gentle tongue can persuade a ruler, who of course, has an army.
Q: In Prov 25:17, how do we tell how often to visit our neighborís home?
A: It is usually fine when you are invited, though among close friends, asking to come when not invited is OK too. Some signs to see are if the people seem glad to see you and they are hospitable. Also, check how often you invite them to your house, and how often they come.
Q: Where does Prov 25:17 apply?
A: This verse speaks of houses, but today it is applicable to borrowing other peopleís cars, or always getting rides from them too. When you first ask, make sure there is a way they can politely decline without embarrassment. After they have helped you for a while, still ask periodically so that if they want to stop helping, they have the freedom to do so and not feel coerced to do something they no longer want to do.
Q: In Prov 25:19, since it is not wise to rely on the unfaithful, how do we discern who is faithful?
A: Sometimes you have to pick among a choice of candidates for a job, and sometimes you have only one person, and you have to decide whether or not to trust them with something. Either way, this can be difficult to do, but there are a number of things to help.
Prayer: Ask God to show you whether or not the person is faithful.
Words: What do they say? How important is faithfulness to them?
Past actions: How have they been faithful or not in the past?
What others say: What do others say about what they have done in the past?
If they failed to deliver something in the past was it
a) due to circumstances beyond their control
b) not beyond their control and they realize their mistake
c) they though everything was beyond their control, but it was really not.
Q: In Prov 25:20, why should we not sing songs to a heavy heart?
A: If we are doing something for somebody else, it should be something that helps them. If singing does not help them at this time, we should do what is helpful instead.
Q: In Prov 25:20, what is vinegar poured on nitre?
A: What the KJV calls "nitre", the NASB, NIV, and NKJV translate as "soda", and The NIV Study Bible p.981 says this is probably sodium carbonate. The NRSV translates this as "a wound", with a footnote saying it could also mean "lye". Vinegar on soda produces a strong reaction of bubbles, as the acid reacts with the soda to release carbon dioxide gas.
Q: In Prov 25:21-22 and Rom 12:20, what does it mean here to heap coals upon the head of an enemy?
A: This is a repeat of the answer on Romans 12:20.
Christians from Chrysostom to modern times unanimously interpret this as saying Christians should not get revenge. However, there are four views as to what the burning coals mean.
Showing the enemyís unreasonableness: John Chrysostom in his Epistle to the Romans Homily 22 says that a Christianís kindness and gentle laughing at insults shows our lack of animosity and the foolishness and needlessness of the enemyís charges.
Assisting with Penitence: Being nice to your enemies will make them feel shameful and convict them when they realize they are acting evil toward you and you are acting loving toward them. The New Bible Dictionary (Eerdmansí 1962 p.242) and the Geneva Study Bible mentions that coals in Romans 12:20 is a metaphor for shame. The NIV Study Bible p.1726 says that this might help bring about the personís repentance.
Punishment: Psalm 140:10 says that burning coals falling on a person was a punishment for the wicked. Being kind to them, would both make them feel embarrassed, and leave the vengeance to God. The NIV Study Bible p.981-982 and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.961 mention this view.
Assisting with Purification: Heap burning coals would be like God had a coal put in Isaiahís mouth in Isaiah 6:5-7. See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.572-574 for more info on this interpretation and how Brauch feels that burning coals has a positive meaning, not a negative one. Brauch also mentions an ancient Egyptian custom in which a person who had done wrong would show his penitence by carrying a dish of burning coals on his head. The NIV Study Bible p.981-982 and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.961 also mention this. However, this could show shame, not that our kindness somehow purifies his sin.
While the first three interpretations are complementary, the following are very different.
General Assistance: A fourth view some have is that in ancient times when someoneís fire went out, they would travel around the village with a basket on their head, and the neighbors would each put one coal in so that they would have enough coals for a fire. This is mentioned in The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.961. However, I have seen no documentation for them carrying a pan on their heads for this purpose in ancient times.
Q: In Prov 25:27, why is it not good to eat too much honey?
A: Eating a large quantity of sweets can make someone feel sick to their stomach, but there are deeper meanings here. Honey is not evil, but even doing morally neutral things to excess is wrong. Proverbs 25:27 compares honey to praise for a person. We can enjoy it, but we are not to live for it. In other words as 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.359 says, "as you should not try to eat too much sweetness, for men to seek their own glory is grievous.".
Q: In Prov 25:27, why should we not eat too much honey, since Prov 24:17 says we should eat honey?
A: Honey back then was like candy today. This is the difference between enjoying something, and living only for something, but there is more to it that that. In ancient times when fathers would have their sons read from scrolls from scripture, they would put a bit of honey on the sealed scroll. The child would have the enjoyable task of licking the honey off, just prior to reading the scroll. Enjoying a bit of honey is good. However, emptying the honey pot, and not reading from scripture were both excessive. For little kids, there is always a point where you need to teach them that even good things cannot be done to excess.
Q: In Prov 26:1, what is wrong with honor for a fool?
A: Proverbs 26:1 shows that honor is out of place and actually destructive.
Out of place: Snow in summer will make you either doubt it was summer, doubt it was snow, or doubt that the snow came from nature. Honor for a fool makes someone either think the person is not a fool, doubt the judgment of those giving honor, or doubt that honor and respect have any meaning anymore.
Destructive: Rain is often good, but it can sometimes not only delay harvest, but cause the harvested crops to spoil. Likewise, following a foolís words can not only delay following wise advice, but sometimes can be counter-productive or make it impossible to later follow the best way.
Q: In Prov 26:1, since we are not to honor fools, how are we to honor government leaders when they are wicked or fools?
A: There is a difference between honor for a person as Proverbs talks about, and honor for a position as Romans 13:7 says. 1 Peter 2:17 specifically distinguishes between the honor one must show their master, while pointing out that the master may not be a good man. See the next question for more info.
Q: In Prov 26:1, what is honor, broadly defined?
A: The Bible gives examples of four types of proper honor, and four types of improper honor. In general, proper honor involves speaking respectfully, listening to them, and gratitude. Improper honor involves flattery, deception, and saying things are good when they are not. Here are four types of honor, that can each be proper or improper.
Position: government, law enforcement, church leaders, husband, parents. However, you do not need to submit to improper authorities, such as gang leaders. You also do not want to obey even proper authorities in areas where they tell you to do something wicked. (Fearing man instead of God can be a snare as Proverbs 29:25-26 shows.)
Abilities: knowledge, intelligence, judgment, athletics, wealth, etc. We are not to listen to a foolís judgment.
Actions: love, protection, prayer, giving, Christian work in general. However, there is no point in honoring one who boasts of gifts he does not give.
Character: integrity, moral purity, diligence, generosity, etc.
We should not admire those who skillfully get away with crimes, or doing evil. There may be very successful and also very cruel kings, but they are not "great" kings or caliphs.
Q: In Prov 26:4-5, why do these sound almost contradictory?
A: This deliberate juxtaposition is what today we would call "being between a rock and a hard place." You have some difficulties if you do answer a fool, and other difficulties if you do not answer a fool. See When Critics Ask p.250 for more info.
Q: In Prov 26:6 (KJV), what does "drinketh damage" mean?
A: The NASB and NIV translate this as "drinking violence". The NRSV says "drinking down violence". The meaning is that just as no one would want to drink harm to themselves, one should not want to send a message via a fool.
Q: In Prov 26:7 (KJV), how are the legs of the lame not equal?
A: The NASB translates this as "legs which hang down". The NIV, NKJV, and NRSV translate this as "legs that hang limp".
Q: In Prov 26:8, what is wrong with binding a stone in a sling?
A: While the sling does not throw the stone at the proper time, if the stone is tied in, the sling can release the stone at an improper time, injuring the thrower or a friend.
Q: In Prov 26:9, how is a proverb in a foolís mouth like a thorn in the hand of a drunkard?
A: A drunkard with a branch from a thorn bush does not know if he will hit himself or someone else.
Q: In Prov 26:10 what is the best translation of this verse?
A: There is a wide variation of translation for a couple of reasons. Hebrew was not written with vowels, so the word many translations translate as "archer" was translated as "great God" by others. The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.5 p.1089 says it is difficult to translate because the first word rab, can mean "archer", "master", or "much". The word meholel can mean "Wound" or "Bring forth". Also the words "transgressor" and "passer-by" have an overlapping root meaning according to Rev. Walter Snyder and printed in Christian News. Here are some translations.
"The great God that formed all things both rewardeth the fool, and rewardeth the transgressors." (KJV)
"Great is the Former of all things; but he who hires a fool is like one who hires those passing by. (Greenís Literal translation)
"The great God who formed everything gives the fool his hire and the transgress his wages" (NKJV)
"Like an archer who wounds at random is he that hires a fool or any passer-by." (NIV)
"Like an archer who wounds everybody is one who hires a passing fool or drunkard." (NRSV)
"A master can product anything, But he who hires a dullard is as one who hires transients." (Jewish JPS)
"All the flesh of fools endures much hardship; for their fury is brought to nought." (Septuagint)
Q: In Prov 26:11 and 2 Pet 2:22, how do fools return to their folly?
A: They repeat their mistakes because they do not learn from them.
Q: In Prov 26:12, why is there more hope for a fool than for someone who is wise in his own eyes?
A: The Hebrew word here for fool is kíciyl. This does not mean a simple, naïve person, but rather someone who knows better. It does not mean an unteachable, hardened fool, but still someone who is wicked.
A fool who sees that they need to learn more might be a fool, but at least they see a need to grow out of their foolishness. A person who is wise in their own eyes is already a fool, and they are the type of fool that does not see any need to grow and learn.
Q: In Prov 26:13-16, what is this saying about lazy sluggards?
A: There are three characteristics of many habitually lazy people.
Too cautious: They are overly-cautious when it comes to finding potential dangers and other reasons not to work.
Predictable: You can move a door many different ways, but one edge always is connected to the hinges. A sluggard can appear to do many things, but as long as he does not have to move from his lazy position, he will "rotate".
Rationalization: A sluggard can be expert at rationalizing his behavior; lazy does not mean stupid. He can be very clever at making convincing excuses, convincing at least to himself, because a sluggard has a tendency to be wise in his own eyes (Proverbs 26:16).
So if you have seven friends, or at least one or two, saying you need to exercise more, pray more, serve more, read the Bible more, or another good thing, and the simply ignore what you know is good advice, what is your clever excuse?
Q: In Prov 26:17, how do people today sometimes meddle in quarrels that are not their own?
A: People sometimes like to put themselves in a position of judge and policeman when neither side asks for their help. One can help when one side asks for help, and humanitarian concerns and justice do not prohibit it.
Q: In Prov 26:21-22 and Prov 6:19, what are some ways people wrongly stir up strife?
A: People can unintentionally stir up strife that they later regret. However, more commonly people do not care if they stir up strife or they want to start strife when they have anger (Proverbs 29:22), wrath [great anger] (Proverbs 30:33), and pride (Proverbs 28:25).
Q: In Prov 26:22 (KJV) and (NKJV), what is a tale bearer?
A: The NIV and NET Bible translate this as a "gossip", and the NASB and NRSV translate this as "whisperer".
Q: In Prov 26:23 should this Hebrew word be translated as "like silver-dross" or "like glaze"?
A: The (KJV), (NKJV), (NASB), and (Greenís Literal Translation) have "silver-dross". However, according to Ancient Orient and Old Testament p.163, a comparison with Ugaritic shows that this word is "glaze". The (NRSV) has "glaze" saying this is a correction and the Hebrew is "silver of dross". The (NIV) says, "glaze" with a footnote that this is a different word division in Hebrew, the Masoretic text says, "of silver dross".
Q: In Prov 26:24 (KJV) and (NRSV), what does the word "dissembleth" mean?
A: This means to hide their intentions or disguise themselves with their lips, as other translations say.
Q: In Prov 26:25, what are seven abominations in the hateful personís heart?
A: This verse does not say, and other verses in Proverbs to do specify either. Rather, seven here means a large number, or that the heart is completely abominable, not merely in one way, but many ways.
Q: In Prov 27:3, why is a provocation by a fool feel so heavy?
A: It is one thing to be called foolish, but it can feel even worse to be called foolish by someone you know is a fool. On a lighter note, it is similar to when your three-year old calls you a baby, or says you are silly.
Q: In Prov 27:5, how is open rebuke better than hidden love?
A: Open rebuke may not be pleasant, but often it is intended to be helpful to the person receiving it. Love that is never expressed has no effect, and is not any help to the object of that love. James 2:14-16 likewise says that a faith that does not express itself is dead.
Q: In Prov 27:12 and Amos 5:13, when should prudent people hide themselves?
A: When evil people are in power and hunting down the righteous, there is nothing shameful or wrong with hiding. The early church writers Tertullian, Cyprian, Athanasius, and others taught that hiding from persecution was OK.
Q: In Prov 27:16 (KJV), what does it mean to hide a contentious woman?
A: This actually means to try to "restrain" a contentious woman, as the NASB, NIV, NKJV, and NRSV translate.
Q: In Prov 27:17, how can one person sharpen another?
A: As two iron blades chip off rust and loose pieces, two people can point out what is "flaky" in the other. Many people believe a great number of things that are unsubstantiated, and do not believe in others things that are substantiated. People need to be challenged on what they believe to see and value what is true versus what is fantasy.
Q: In Prov 27:22, why is it so difficult to take foolishness out of a fool?
A: Often the problem is not with his head, or due to lack of knowledge. Rather the problem is with his heart, and not wanting to learn and grow.
You should be able to look back five years ago and see areas where you have greatly grown and learned. Likewise, you should expect and desire to be able to look back on the present, five years from now, and see how much you have grown and changed for the better.
Q: In Prov 27:22, when can one correct foolishness?
A: The difference between a child and a fool is that a child knows he or she needs to learn, and a fool thinks he has learned it already. If a fool can see how little he or she really knows that is true, then there may be hope.
This is why when someone is in a cult or a spiritual counterfeit, they are difficult to share the Gospel with. They "know too much that ainít so." You have to convince them that what they are a part of is false and does not have the real answers, and then they will be open for Godís answers. See When Critics Ask p.251 for more info.
Q: In Prov 28:1, how do the wicked flee when no one pursues?
A: They might flee for a few reasons:
Precaution: such as a robber, thief, or murderer runs from their crime scene.
Paranoia: They are out to get others, and gradually they feel that others are out to get them.
Guilt: Proverbs 17 says that a man tormented by the guilt of murder will be a fugitive until death.
Cowardice: Proverbs 28:1 contrasts wicked peopleís actions with the boldness of the righteous.
Q: In Prov 28:3, should the Hebrew word be translated as a "poor man" or a "ruler who oppresses the poor"?
A: The NASB and KJV say a poor man. The NIV says "ruler". The NRSV says a ruler, but says this is a correction, and the Hebrew says a poor person. The NKJV says a "poor man" but says in a footnote that a mere change of Hebrew vowels says "ruler" instead of "poor man". The Old Testament was originally written without vowels, and the vowels were added later.
While a ruler can oppress the poor with excessive taxes and very regressive taxes, a poor person can rob and steal and oppress other poor people too.
Q: In Prov 28:7 (KJV), what are riotous men?
A: There is some uncertainty on the translation here. NASB, NIV, and NRSV has "gluttons", the NKJV has "wicked", and the KJV has "riotous".
Regardless, this is a person with aspects of his life that are out of control.
Q: In Prov 28:9, when people turn away from hearing Godís law, exactly why are even their prayers abominable?
A: It might be for all of the following reasons.
a) It is presumptuous to ask God to hear your words, after you deliberately choose not to hear and obey Godís word, as Psalms 50:16-22 shows.
b) For one who rejectís Godís law, even the requests they make are for abominable things, just as their advice might be deceitful (Proverbs 12:5).
Q: In Prov 28:12,28, how is a man hidden when the wicked rise to prominence?
A: When wicked people are in charge, and especially when they are hunting down the righteous, it is prudent, not cowardly, for the righteous to hide.
Q: In Prov 28:13, how is it wrong to cover our sins, and how is it right to have our sins covered over, as Ps 32:1 says?
A: It is wrong to cover-up our own sins and pretend we did no wrong. It is a good thing to forgive sins other people do to you, and it is a wonderful thing that God forgives the sins of His children. See When Critics Ask p.251 for more info.
Q: In Prov 28:24, how can people today rob their parents?
A: Of course, children can literally rob their parents, as Micah did in Judges 17:1-2 and Rachel did in Genesis 31:19,30. However, there are other ways to rob your parents.
Once I met a lady in the nursing home who was bitter because she said her children took all her money. Knowing how things worked, I surmised that here is what happened. In the United States, elderly people in nursing homes who have money have to pay for their own care, while the U.S. government pays everything for those who cannot afford to do so. Thus, many times all the parentsí money goes to the children; otherwise it would be "wasted". Two shortcomings of this view is that some of the nursing homes with higher rates have better accommodations, and, most important of all, this lady apparently never understood, much less consented, to her children taking her house and wealth. She thought that eventually she would leave the nursing home and return to her house, while her children knew that would not happen. Thus, while the childrenís actions were logical and reasonable to themselves, they were not to their mother. Taking her house and wealth without her consent was, in fact, stealing from their mother.
Q: In Prov 28:26, why should we not trust in ourselves, or trust in our own heart?
A: Trust in yourselves assumes that
1. Your knowledge and logic are always right, or at least always sufficient
2. Your emotions never wrongly sway your thoughts
3. You do not need the counsel of others
4. Most importantly, you do not need Godís wisdom.
Jeremiah 9:23-24 and Proverbs 3:5 also say we should not boast in our own wisdom, might, or wealth.
Q: In Prov 29:1 how are people destroyed who are often rebuked?
A: People can be disciplined over and over for the same thing, and they can suffer bad consequences for the same thing, but there comes a "one last time", when there is no more opportunity to avoid irreversible consequences.
Q: In Prov 29:3 (KJV), what does "spendeth his substance" mean?
A: This mean to spend all his wealth. The NRSV says "squander oneís substance", the NIV says "squander his wealth", and the NASB and NKJV say "waste his wealth".
Q: In Prov 29:5, how does flattery spread a net for someone elseís feet?
A: Flattery can make it easier for someone else to be proud, which can give them a false sense of security and set them up for a fall.
Q: In Prov 29:18, how do people perish when there is no vision?
A: Literally, people in a wilderness perish if they have no idea of where to go for water and food when their supplies run out. Likewise, if people do not have a direction to go, they likely will not go where they should be heading.
While the NASB and KJV translate this as "no vision", The NIV and NKJV translate this as "no revelation", the NRSV says "no prophecy."
See the Complete Book of Bible Answers p.53-54 and Hard Sayings of the Bible p.289-290 for more info.
Q: In Prov 29:24 (KJV), what does "bewrayeth it not" mean?
A: The NASB says but tells nothing", the NIV translates this as "dare not testify", the NKJV says "reveals nothing", and the NET Bible says, "does not talk."
Q: In Prov 30:1, should it say "an oracle" or "Massa"?
A: It could be either way. Most translations prefer "an oracle". The only thing is that there really was a kingdom of Massa according to Assyrian records. See The Expositorís Bible Commentary volume 5 p.888 for more info.
Q: In Prov 30:3, why did the author say he knew nothing?
A: First we will see four possible reasons, and then we will try to see the correct reason(s).
1. He truly believed he was not as intelligent as other people.
2. He was being ironic, in comparing himself, with the wisdom God gave him, with others who claimed to know it all.
3. True humility in comparing his human intelligence and experience to Godís.
Conclusion: 1. probably is not correct, as he felt he was intelligent enough to write this, and there is no tie to any subsequent verses. While 2 might be a secondary meaning, 3 apparently is the primary meaning, since Proverbs 30:4 shows that he is thinking of his wisdom compared to Godís.
The New Geneva Study Bible p.982 thinks it is 2, the Believerís Bible Commentary p.867 thinks it is 3, and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament thinks it is 2 and 3.
Q: In Prov 30:4, who is the "son" here?
A: This is Godís Son. Even in the Old Testament, God revealed the concept of God having a Son. This refers to Jesus for the following reasons:
1. It refers to God, and it refers to Godís Son.
2. There is only one Son here. The Hebrew is plural, and it does not say "one of His Sons" but "His Son".
3. Thus, the verse is not referring to all believers being Godís children.
4. Even the writer of the proverb is not Godís Son in this way.
See the Complete Book of Bible Answers p.123 for more info.
Q: In Prov 30:5, what does it mean that every word of God is pure?
A: Every word of God, in its intended context, is true and helpful to us. This does not mean every syllable is magical, or even that every phrase is true. For example, a phrase might not be true if it is preceded by the words "Satan said". However, that the lie was spoken by Satan is correct.
If the words were not pure and true, they would not be Godís words. Also, while Godís children do not say everything perfectly, they should try to do so and have pure words too.
Q: In Prov 30:6, 1 Cor 4:6, and Dt 4:2, what does it mean to not go beyond what is written?
A: It is dangerous as well as foolish to say, "God said thus" when God did not say it. It is fine to speak your own opinion or interpretation, as long as it is understood not to be Godís word. The Jews had a custom of standing when they read Godís word, and sitting down when they expounded upon it. That way, people could see where Godís word stopped and human interpretation began.
When people blatantly add to Godís word, or subtly claim their human interpretation is Godís truth, people can think Godís Word failed if the human words are proved wrong. This does not say "donít add falsehood to what God wrote", but simply "donít add to what God wrote". While Christians disagree on many theories (and that is OK), many un-Christlike divisions hinge on people saying something is Godís word, when their own logical deduction is not actually stated in Godís Scripture. For example,
1. When should people be baptized?
2. Will Christ come before, during, or after the tribulation?
3. How is the bread and wine Christís body and blood?
4. Exactly what degree of freedom do humans have?
5. Is God timeless, within time, or both?
Since some Christian believe each possible view, then some Christians must have correct views on these. However, if a Christian thinks the Bible states his or her view on this, then he or she is equating a human view with Godís word. This is wrong, even if the human view is actually correct.
Q: In Prov 30:7-9, why did the writer pray these words to God?
A: It is easy to see that being so poor you felt you had to steal is not a good thing. However, the writer was wise enough to also see that he could not handle too much prosperity either. What is you limit of how much prosperity would harm your spiritual health, or have you already hit it?
Q: In Prov 30:8-9, how does prosperity turn some people away from God?
A: Prosperity has the potential to turn people away from God in at least three ways.
Time-wise, people can be so busy investing their money and enjoying their money that they do not think so much about God. When someone sees that the amount of time they work really does affect their pay, they might have a tendency to work overtime to the neglect of the family.
Emotionally, people can be too caught up in the cares of this world. When people are satisfied, they can become proud, as Hosea 13:6 warns.
Intellectually, financially well-off people think they are independent and are not grateful to God.
Q: In Prov 30:11-14, why do these verses all start with "There is a generation"?
A: The KJV and NKJV say, "There is a generation", and the NIV and NRSV translate this as "There are those". The NASB simply says "There is". Regardless, it is emphasized that this is not applicable for every individual at all times. These four are in an unordered list, and this might be a way of expressing the unity of the list.
Q: In Prov 30:15-31, Amos 2:1-6, and Prov 6:16-19, why do they use numerical sequences, such as "for threeÖ even four"?
A: This was a Hebrew literary device. This is a beautiful expression that serves as an aid in memorization, and it shows the exact number "3" or "4", is not the point, but rather the content of the points.
Q: In Prov 30:15 (KJV), what is a horseleach?
A: This is the same as a leach, which is how the NASB, NIV, NKJV, NET Bible, and NRSV translate this.
Q: In Prov 30:18-19, how are an eagle, a serpent, a ship, and a man related?
A: In each case, the writer was amazed at how they so skillfully did what they did. It is important to have the faith in God to believe that with Godís help, we too can perform wondrously at what God intended for us to do.
Q: In Prov 30:23 (KJV), what does "odious" mean?
A: The NASB, NIV, NRSV, and NET Bible translated this as "unloved". The NKJV translates this as "hateful". Greenís Literal Translation says "hated one". From the Hebrew, apparently it is unclear whether the woman was hated/unloved by others, or whether she was hating others.
Q: In Prov 30:25-28, how are ants, hyraxes (conies), locusts, and spiders related?
A: These are all weak, yet in at least one respect they are strong. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 12:10 that despite his weaknesses, thorns, and temptations when he was weak, then he was strong.
Q: In Prov 30:29-31, how are a lion, greyhound, a he-goat, and a king related?
A: All are first in their respective fields. A he-goat is well-suited to live indefinitely in the wild, arid desert. We should try to be the best in our field, whatever it may be.
Q: In Prov 30:30, why do lions not fear people, since Gen 9:2 says the fear of men shall be on all the animals of the earth?
A: See the discussion on Genesis 9:2 for the answer.
Q: In Prov 31:3, how do some men spend their strength on women?
A: They foolishly spend their money on prostitutes, ruin their health with venereal diseases, and spend their time chasing fantasies.
Q: In Prov 31:4-5, what is a condensation of all the Bible says about proper government?
Ancient governments dealt with issues most nations do not have today (kings, slow communications, no police, etc.). Modern governments have many new issues unknown back then (global economy and free trade, patent law, stocks and bonds, etc.). However, looking through scriptures one can see common values and Godís intent for godly government. While this might not be all Scripture says, here are 55 principles we can glean from Scripture.
The Lord can direct the kingís heart as He pleases (Proverbs 21:1) and Godís plans prevail (Proverbs 19:21).
Know that a crown (or political office) is never secure (Proverbs 27:24).
Those who seek the Lord fully understand justice (Proverbs 28:5) and justice gives stability (Proverbs 29:4).
Government should value its people (Proverbs 14:28).
A ruler is not always necessary for things to get done. Consider the ants and the locust (Proverbs 6:6-8; 30:27).
Know that a government is established through righteousness (Proverbs 16:10,12).
Leaders, like everyone else, should not be proud (Proverbs 3:5-6; 11:2; 13:10; 21:24; 30:29-31).
Do not be wise in your own eyes (Proverbs 3:7; 12:15; 26:12,16; 28:11).
Women can ruin a ruler (Proverbs 31:3) as can alcohol (Proverbs 31:4).
A Ruler Should Not
Do not be a tyrant (Proverbs 28:15-16) or unjust (Proverbs 17:10). Do not deprive people of their rights (Proverbs 31:5).
Do not accept bribes (2 Chronicles 19:7; Psalm 15:5; Proverbs 15:27; 17:23; 28:16; 29:4; Isaiah 1:23; 5:13; 1 Samuel 4:3-4; 5:13; 12:3; Exodus 23:8; Ecclesiastes 7:7; Deuteronomy 16:19; Amos 5:12). Do not drink alcohol while governing (Proverbs 31:4-5).
Do not praise the wicked, but rather resist them (Proverbs 17:12; 28:4).
Do not listen to lies (Proverbs 29:12). Rulers should value people who speak the truth (Proverbs 16:3; 17:7,13).
Caution is OK, but do not be swayed by the fear of others (Proverbs 29:25).
Do not steal, rather defend orphans and widows (Isaiah 1:23).
Do not give food to those who refuse to work (2 Thessalonians 3:10; Proverbs 16:26).
Do not hoard food when people need it (Proverbs 11:26).
Do not oppress the poor (Proverbs 28:3; 22:16). Do not let interest rates get so exorbitant that it is unkind to the poor (Proverbs 28:8).
A Ruler Should
Rulers should get rid of all the evil they see (Proverbs 20:8,26), Remove the wicked from their presence (Proverbs 25:4-5), and punish false witnesses (Proverbs 19:5).
Government has a duty to maintain order (Proverbs 28:2).
The government has the right to bear the sword against wrongdoers (Romans 13:4) and against external aggressors (Deuteronomy 20:1; Judges 3, 4, etc.). It is OK to train for war (Psalms 144:1; 149:6-8).
For waging war have many advisers (Proverbs 20:18; 24:6; ~12:15).
Women leaders, such as Deborah, can be pleasing to God (Judges 4:4-10;5:1). They can be evil tyrants too, like Athaliah (2 Kings 11:1; 2 Chronicles 22:10-12).
The rulers under you should be righteous and people of integrity (Proverbs 29:2; Nehemiah 7:2).
Have skilled people working for you (Proverbs 22:29), not foolish advisors (1 Kings 12:6-14), and do not have lazy messengers and officials (Proverbs 10:26).
Speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves, and defend the rights of the poor and needy (Proverbs 30:8-9).
Protect and care about their people (Exodus 32:11,13; 2 Chronicles 1:10-12 vs. 1 Kings 12:14). A judge should care about justice for all (Deuteronomy 24:17-18; Proverbs 29:14).
Ideally have people be reluctant to do him or his people wrong (Proverbs 19:12; 20:2).
Justice (and human laws) should be based on Godís standard, not manís (Proverbs 29:26). Make wise laws, do not just make expedient or sloppy laws (Proverbs 8:15).
Someone who does wrong, such as stealing, should pay it back plus one-fifth to double extra (Exodus 22:7-9; Numbers 5:5-8).
Do not let the punishment exceed the crime, such as execution poking out an eye or knocking out a tooth. (Deuteronomy 19:21; Leviticus 24:20; Exodus 21:22-24)
Laws should distinguish between intentional and unintentional wrongs (Numbers 35:18-28; Exodus 21:12-14).
Do not punish parents for kidsí sins or vice versa (Deuteronomy 24:16; Ezekiel 18:13-14;17-20).
Having laws to execute people for murder, is fine (Romans 14).
Having laws requiring payment of taxes is fine (Matthew 17:24-27).
It is fine to own personal property (Luke 15:8; 2 Timothy 4:12), even great wealth (1 Timothy 6:17-18) and inherit from our parents (Proverbs 13:22; 17:2; 19:14; Psalm 17:14; Ecclesiastes 2:21, Luke 15:12,31; Numbers 32:7) is fine.
Women can inherit as well as men (Numbers 32:2,8).
Do not testify against someone without cause (Proverbs 24:28).
If a malicious witness lies to try to harm an innocent person, do to the witness what he intended be done to the defendant (Deuteronomy 19:16-19; Proverbs 19:5).
Do not use the courts to take advantage of those with less money (Proverbs 22:22-23).
Do not call the guilty innocent or the innocent guilty (Proverbs 24:23-25; 17:15; Deuteronomy 25:1).
Do be quick to bring things to court (Proverbs 25:7-8). It is better to suffer wrong than to sin by suing other believers (1 Corinthians 6:1-8).
Judge the poor and non-citizens fairly (Proverbs 29:14; Deuteronomy 24:17-18).
Do not mock at justice (Proverbs 19:28), do not hold court judges in contempt (Deuteronomy 17:12).
Working as a lawyer is OK (Titus 3:13). Do not bear false witness (Exodus 20:16; Deuteronomy 5:20).
Do not betray a friendís confidence (Proverbs 25:9-10).
Duties of a citizen
We should pray for government leaders (1 Timothy 2:1-2).
We should honor government leaders (Romans 13:7; 1 Peter 2:17). We should not speak evil of the ruler of our people (Acts 23:2-5; Exodus 22:28).
It is OK to serve in a secular government, as Joseph, Nehemiah, Daniel, and Obadiah did (Genesis 41:41-44; Nehemiah 1:11; Daniel 6:4; 1 Kings 18:3-4,14).
We should submit to the government (Romans 13:1-5; 1 Peter 2:13-16), and only disobey where it contradicts what God has taught in His Word. (Acts 4:19-20; Daniel 3:8-18). Even in disobeying an evil king, one should still honor the king (Daniel 6:4-21).
Hiding from evil government authorities is OK (Proverbs 27:12; Amos 5:13; 1 Kings 17:2-10; 18:4,9-14; 1 Samuel 19:11-12).
Do not be rebellious against the government (Proverbs 17:11; 28:2; Isaiah 1:23; Jeremiah 42:10-11) without proper cause (2 Kings 9; 1 Kings 11:29-40).
Pay your taxes; it is proper for a government to collect them (Matthew 22:17; Romans 13:7).
Do not exalt yourself before a ruler (Proverbs 25:6,27).
Do not be gluttonous or greedy before a ruler (Proverbs 23:1-3).
Q: In Prov 31:4-5, is it OK for believers to drink wine, or not?
A: The king should not get drunk, but in addition, the king should not drink alcohol at all "on the job", where his judgment was important, and drinking could affect his judgment. It would be very sad to come before a judge, and the degree of mercy or severity would depend on the number of drinks he had.
Q: Do Prov 31:6 and 1 Sam 31:4-6 suggest that euthanasia might be OK?
A: No. It only says that anesthesia and painkillers are OK. There is no mention here of killing anyone. See the discussion on Ecclesiastes 3:2 and Now Thatís A Good Question p.456-458 for info on euthanasia.
Q: Does Prov 31:6-7 suggest that it is OK for the poor and those of heavy hearts to "drink to forget"?
A: This is saying that intoxication is for those who are about to die, or who are losers, and want to forget their misery. It is not recommending that people drink to forget. Rather, it is saying that though others might do so, kings are not supposed to do so. See When Critics Ask p.252, Hard Sayings of the Bible p.290-291, and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.972 for more info.
Q: Is Prov 31:6-7 about alcohol for the dying and those in misery devilish advice in Godís book, as the Muslim Ahmad Deedat claims?
A: No, for three reasons.
1) This is only for those who are in great pain and dying.
2) Alcohol is not banned in the Bible. He is calling Ďdevilish" what God allowed.
3) In Islam Mohammed allowed alcohol until after the battle of Uhud. (Bukhari vol.6 book 60 no.142 p.112) Shamaa-il Tirmidhi ch.45 commentary after no.5 (309) p.332 also says that at one time intoxicants were lawful. Would Deedat say Mohammed was "devilish" to allow alcohol until this time? I donít think so. But if Deedat would not say it was devilish for Mohammed to allow it (for a time), then it is inconsistent for him to say it was devilish for the Bible to allow it.
Q: In Prov 31:8-9, how are believers supposed to speak out for the oppressed?
A: We are to defend them from unjust court judgments, economic oppression, and other kinds of oppression.
Q: In Prov 31:8-9 and Prov 26:17, how are believers to balance speaking out for the oppressed, with not meddling in quarrels not their own?
A: The difference is this: when the oppressed are not in a fight, or are in a fight and the other side is an unjust aggressor, and they appeal for help.
Q: In Prov 31:10-31, are women supposed to be passive?
A: Certainly not the woman in this Bible passage.
She works with her hands (Proverbs 31:13,22) and profits from this in Proverbs 31:24,31.
She shops for food (Proverbs 31:14) and cooks Proverbs 31:15).
She manages others Proverbs 31:15).
She herself decides to buy real-estate in Proverbs 31:16.
She plants a vineyard. Proverbs 31:16 (Note that a family does not own an entire vineyard just for their personal consumption. A vineyard was a source of profit.)
She is physically strong (Proverbs 31:17).
She also trades, not just for necessity but for profit (Proverbs 31:18).
She herself gives to the poor. (She had to have control over money to do so.) (Proverbs 31:20)
She manages the household. (Proverbs 31:21)
She is wise, and teaches wisdom. (Proverbs 31:26)
See 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.157-158 for more info.
Q: In Prov 31:15, why are virtuous women to get up before dawn?
A: If you had to get up before dawn everyday to be a virtuous woman, many women would be in trouble!
Seriously, this shows that she was not lazy, or prone to always sleeping in. In that time and culture, people generally got up around dawn and went to bed soon after dark, since there was no electric lighting.
Q: In Prov, what are some of the earliest manuscripts that still exist today?
A: Dead Sea scrolls: (c.1 B.C.) 2 separate copies. The Dead Sea Scrolls Today p.30 and the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.436-438.
4Q102 39 words or portions of words from Prov 1:27-2:1 (ca.30-1 B.C. because written in "early Herodian script")
4Q103 125 words from Proverbs 9:16 (or possibly 9:4); 13:6-9; 14:6-13; 14:27-28)?); 14:31-15:8; 15:19-31. (ca. 50 A.D.) because written in "late Herodian script"
See The Dead Sea Scrolls Translated p.481.
Overall, preserved in the Dead Sea scrolls are the following verses from Proverbs: 1:27-33; 2:1; 7:9-11?; 13:6-9; 14:5-10,12-13,31-35; 15:1-8,19-31 See The Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls for more details.
Christian Bible manuscripts, from about 350 A.D., contain the Old Testament, including Proverbs.
Vaticanus (325-350 A.D.) has preserved all of Proverbs.
Sinaiticus (340-350 A.D.) has preserved all of Proverbs. It starts the page after Psalms ends. It ends the page before Ecclesiastes starts.
Alexandrinus (c.450 A.D.) has preserved all of Proverbs.
Q: Which early writers referred to Proverbs?
A: Pre-Nicene writers who referenced or alluded to verses in Proverbs are:
Philo of Alexandria (15/20 B.C.-50 A.D.) refers to Proverbs in a few places. Specifically, these are Proverbs 3:4; 3:11; 4:3.
Clement of Rome (97/98 A.D.)
Ignatius of Antioch (c.100-117 A.D.)
Justin Martyr (c.138-165 A.D.) quoted various verses from Proverbs, but he also quoted all of Proverbs 8:21-36
Melito/Meleto of Sardis (170-177/180 A.D.) lists all the books of the Old Testament, and he includes every book we have except Nehemiah and Esther. Fragment 4 From the Book of Extracts p.759.
Athenagoras (177 A.D.)
Theophilus of Antioch (168-181/188 A.D.)
Irenaeus of Lyons (182-188 A.D.)
Tertullianís Five Books Against Marcion (207/208 A.D.)
Theodotus the probable Montanist (ca.240 A.D.) quotes from half of Proverbs 13:24 (about disciplining your son) in Excerpts of Theodotus ch.9 p.44
Clement of Alexandria (193-217/220 A.D.)
Hippolytus (222-235/6 A.D.) mentions by name Proverbs, Wisdom, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs in Fragment of Commentary on the Song of Songs p.176
Commodianus (c.240 A.D.) alludes to Proverbs 23:11 and 15:1 in The Instructions of Commodianus ch.72 p.217
Origen (225-254 A.D.)
Cyprian was a bishop of Carthage from 248 until his martyrdom in 258 A.D.. He quotes from "Proverbs" in Treatise 12 the third book 8,16,102,103,105,107,108 among other places.
Firmilian of Caesarea to Cyprian (256 A.D.)
Dionysius of Alexandria (246-256 A.D.) quotes half of Proverbs10:7 in Exegetical Fragment 2 p.113
Seventh Council of Carthage (258 A.D.)
Dionysius of Rome (259-269 A.D.) (allusion)
Archelaeus (262-278 A.D.)
Peter of Alexandria (306,285-310/311 A.D.)
Methodius of Olympus and Patara (260-312 A.D.)
Alexander of Alexandria (313-326 A.D.)
Lactantius (c.303-c.325 A.D.)
After Nicea (325 A.D.)
Eusebius of Caesarea (318-339/340 A.D.)
Aphrahat the Syrian (337-345 A.D.)
The Arian Candidus in a latter to Marius (359-362 A.D.)
Hilary of Poitiers (355-367/368 A.D.)
Athanasius of Alexandria (325-373 A.D.)
Ephraem Syrus (350-378 A.D.)
Basil of Cappadocia (357-378/379 A.D.)
The Arian Eunomius of Cyzicus (360-c.383 A.D.)
Cyril of Jerusalem (c.349-385 A.D.)
Gregory of Nanzianen (330-391 A.D.)
Pacian of Barcelona (342-379/392 A.D.) alludes to Proverbs 18:19 as by Solomon. Letter 3 ch.20.2 p.62
Gregory of Nyssa (c.356-397 A.D.)
Ambrose of Milan (370-390 A.D.)
Rufinus (374-406 A.D.)
Jerome (373-420 A.D.)
Council of Carthage (393-419 A.D.)
Augustine of Hippo (338-430 A.D.) refers to Proverbs as Scripture in Commentary on Psalms p.412
Epiphanius of Salamis (360-403 A.D.)
John Chrysostom (-407 A.D.) alludes to Proverbs 25:21,22 by Solomon. To Those Who Had Not Attended the Assembly ch.6 p.230
John Cassian (419-430 A.D.)
Vincent of Lerins (c.434 A.D.)
Theodoret of Cyrus (323-458 A.D.)
Prosper of Aquitaine (426-465 A.D.)
Q: In Prov, what are some of the translation differences between the Hebrew and Greek Septuagint?
A: The Expositorís Bible Commentary volume 5 p.890 says that the Septuagint is fairly close in chapters 1 through 9, but there are great differences in chapters 10 through 31. Proverbs 39:1-14 is after Proverbs 24:22. Proverbs 30:15-33; 31:1-9 are after chapter 24. Here are a few of the translation differences, primarily from Proverbs 18.
Prov 1:16 "for their feet run to do evil and are swift to shed blood" (Masoretic and Alexandrine Septuagint) vs. absent (other Septuagint)
Prov 1:17 "For in vain the next is spread in the sight of every bird" vs. "for nets are not without cause spread for birds" (Septuagint) vs. "Not unjustly are nets spread out for birds." (Letter of Barnabas ch.5 p.139)
Prov 1:31 "apostasy" vs. "cord" in 4Q102 (similar in Hebrew)
Prov 3:27 "from its possessors" vs. "from the poor" (Septuagint). This is absent in the Peshitta and Targums. (See The Expositorís Bible Commentary volume 5 p.920-921.)
Prov 4:5 In Masoretic text and Alexandrine Septuagint, but not in other Septuagint
Prov 8:29,32,33 In Masoretic text and Alexandrine Septuagint, but not in other Septuagint
Prov 7:22 "fool" Hebrew vs. "deer" Syriac and Septuagint (NIV footnote, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.920)
Prov 11:3 In Masoretic text and Alexandrine Septuagint, but not in other Septuagint
Prov 11: parts of 10,11 In Masoretic text and Alexandrine Septuagint, but not in other Septuagint
Prov 13:6 In Masoretic text and Alexandrine Septuagint, but not in other Septuagint
Prov 14:32 "in this death (Hebrew bemoto) vs. "in his integrity (Septuagint. Hebrew would be betummo)
Prov 15:19 Dead Sea Scroll 4Q109 accidentally transposed two letters
Prov 15:28 "meditate" vs. absent in 4Q109
Prov 16:33 In Masoretic text and Alexandrine Septuagint, but not in other Septuagint
Prov 18:1 "He who separates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound wisdom." vs. "A man who wishes to separate from friends seeks excuses; but at all times he will be liable to reproach."
Prov 18:2 "only in uncovering his heart." vs. "led by folly."
Prov 18:3 "comes, scorn comes, too; and with shame comes reproach." vs. "comes into a depth of evils, he despises them; but dishonour and reproach come upon him."
Prov 18:4 "words Ö waters" vs. "word Ö water"
Prov 18:4 "the fountain of wisdom like a flowing brook" vs. "river and fountain of life spring forth"
Prov 18:5 "lift up the face" vs. "accept the person"
Prov 18:5 "righteous" vs. "justice"
Prov 18:6 "calls for strokes [of beating]" vs. "calls for death"
Prov 18:8 "The words of a talebearer are as wounds; yea they go down into the innermost chambers of the belly." vs. "Fear casts down the slothful; and the souls of the effeminate shall hunger."
Prov 18:9 "brother to a master destroyer" vs. "brother of him that ruins himself"
Prov 18:10 "tower of strength" vs. "of great strength"
Prov 18:11 "and as a high wall in his imagination" vs. "and its glory casts a broad shadow."
Prov 18:12 "humility goes before honor" vs. "before honour it [a manís heart] is humble"
Prov 18:14 "The spirit of a man will nourish his sickness" vs. "A wise servant calms a manís anger"
Prov 18:14 "wounded spirit" vs. "faint-hearted man"
Prov 18:15 "gets knowledge" vs. "purchases discretion"
Prov 18:16 "bribe makes room" vs. "gift enlarges"
Prov 18:17 "He who is first in his cause seems just; but his neighbor comes and searches him." vs. "A righteous man accuses himself at the beginning of his speech, but when he has entered upon the attack, the adversary is reproved."
Prov 18:18 "The lot causes arguments to cease" vs. "A silent man quells strifes"
Prov 18:19 "An offended brother" vs. "A brother helped by a brother"
Prov 18:19 "their contentions are like the bars of a castle" vs. "and [the brother] is as strong as a well-founded palace"
Prov 18:20 "belly shall be satisfied" vs. "fills his belly"
Prov 18:21 "Death and life" vs. "Life and death"
Prov 18:21 "love it" vs. "rule it"
Prov 18:22 "finds" vs. "has found"
Prov 18:22 "Jehovah" vs. "God. He that / Whoever puts away a good wife, puts away a good thing, and he/whoever that keeps an adulteress is foolish and ungodly." (Septuagint)
Prov 18:23,24 are absent in the Greek Septuagint.
Prov 19:1,2 are absent in the Greek Septuagint.
Prov 19:4 "neighbor" vs. "friend he has"
Prov 19:13b "constant dripping" vs. "constant dripping. Vows paid of the hire of a harlot are not pure." (Septuagint)
Prov 19:27 "Stop listening to instruction my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge." vs. "A son who ceases to attend to discipline is likely to stray from words of knowledge." (Septuagint)
Prov 21:16,17 In Masoretic text and Alexandrine Septuagint, but not in other Septuagint
Bibliography for this question: the Hebrew translation is from Jay P. Greenís Literal Translation and the Septuagint rendering is from Sir Lancelot C.L. Brentonís translation of The Septuagint : Greek and English. The Expositorís Bible Commentary and the footnotes in the NASB, NIV, NKJV, and NRSV Bibles also were used.