Our English word “proverb” is actually made up of two Latin
words, “pro” (instead of) and “verba” (words). Therefore, a proverb
is a short statement that summarizes a wise principle. Mr. Scofield
writes, “Proverbs is divine wisdom applied to the earthly conditions
of the people of God.” The Hebrew word translated “proverb” means “a
comparison.” As we shall see, many of the Proverbs of Solomon are
comparisons and contrasts. Like most Oriental people, the Jews did
much teaching through proverbs. The short sentences were easy for
them to remember.
Chapters 1:1, 10:1 and 25:1 indicate that Solomon wrote most
of the Book of Proverbs. In 1 Kings 4:32 we read that he spoke 3,000
proverbs. Solomon was known for his wisdom, even though, later in
his life, he turned to adultery and folly.
The key word in this book is “wisdom.” We commonly think of
wisdom as the ability to use knowledge in the right way, and this is
a practical definition. However, in the Bible, wisdom means much
more than that. It is a matter of the heart and not the mind alone.
It is a spiritual matter. There is the wisdom of this world, and
there is divine wisdom from above (1 Corinthians 2:1-8; James 3:13-
In the Book of Proverbs wisdom is actually pictured as a
lovely woman who calls to men to follow her into a life of blessing
and success. Folly is pictured as a wicked woman who tempts the
foolish and leads them to hell. Of course, to the believer, Jesus
Christ is the wisdom of God, and when you read Solomon’s description
of wisdom in Proverbs, you cannot help but see Jesus Christ. Wisdom
is pictured as eternal, creator of all things, the beloved of God.
In the first few chapters of the book we will consider
wisdom and folly–the two women who are out to woo and win the
hearts of men. There are three calls from wisdom and three from
folly. Wisdom calls to salvation, wealth, and life. Folly calls to
condemnation, poverty, and death. Wisdom’s first call is to
salvation (chapter 1:20-31). This is an open call, out in the
streets where people can see and hear. God’s call to hearts is not a
secret matter. The Holy Spirit openly invites men to come to Christ.
We might note that wisdom invites all three classes–the simple, the
scorner, and the fool (chapter 1:22). Wisdom can see that judgment
is coming and she wants sinners to escape it. What a wonderful offer
she makes to those who will hear.