The most intensely practical thing in the world is godliness.
This book occupies an important place in what is called the “Hebrew Wisdom literature.” Other examples are Job, Ecclesiastes, some of the Psalms, and such apocryphal books as the Wisdom of Solomon and Ecclesiasticus.
Certain sections are expressly attributed to Solomon, but elsewhere other sources are referred to. The title of the fourth section, “These also are proverbs of Solomon which the men of Hezekiah, king of Judah, copied out,” is proof that the book did not receive its present form till the time of Hezekiah.
The book was written as, a guide for the young. The experience of many generations is here presented to the youth who is just entering upon life. The form of address throughout is that of a father speaking to his son.
The foundation principle is that the right life is not merely a moral life, but the life that is lived toward God. The supreme folly in life is to leave God out. Hence the book is not simply a collection of worldly maxims, but a source of spiritual insight.
The virtues taught are those which make for individual and national strength—honesty, industry, purity, sobriety, moderation, faithfulness, diligence, prudence, impartiality, humility, contentment—and all are based upon the fear of the Lord.
The literary structure is comparatively loose. “We are not,” says Bishop Hopkins, “generally to expect any connection of sentences in this book of Proverbs. Other parts of Scripture are like a rich mine, where the precious ore runs along in one continued vein; but this is like a heap of pearls, which, though they are unstrung, are not therefore the less excellent and valuable.” —Through the Bible Day by Day
“The Words of the Wise”
Book I. The Voice of Wisdom, Proverbs 1:1-9:18
Book II. Wisdom and Folly Contrasted, Proverbs 10:1-22:16
Book III. The Counsel of the Wise Proverbs 22:17-24:34
Book IV. Similes of Life’s Varied Experiences, Proverbs 25:1-29:27
Book V. Shorter Collections, Proverbs 30:1-31:31
1. The Words of Agur, Proverbs 30:1-33
2. The Words of King Lemuel, Proverbs 31:1-9
3. The Virtuous Woman (Acrostic Poem), Proverbs 31:10-31 —Through the Bible Day by Day