A. OVERVIEW OF SOLOMON’S THREE BOOKS
Our previous Bible study was about the Psalms and we pointed out that King David wrote most of them. This study concerns the Books of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon which were all written by David’s son, King Solomon. God had, at Solomon’s request, blessed him with the greatest wisdom any person ever had. It is therefore almost to be expected that his writings would abound in godly wisdom. That is exactly what his first book, the Book of Proverbs, does. It can rightly be described as the Book of Wisdom.
His second book, Ecclesiastes, depicts a person seeking for the true meaning of life and coming to the conclusion that only the Lord can satisfy the deepest needs of the human heart. His third book, the Song of Solomon, is a very deep and precious writing. It depicts a man and woman deeply in love with one-another. It however also has a deeper meaning in that it portrays the relationship of the Lord Jesus Christ with his spiritual bride which embraces all born-again Christians.
We have also, in a previous study, pointed out that although Solomon dearly loved God when he was young, he sadly deviated in later life and bowed down to idols as well. Some Bible students are of the opinion that he returned to the Lord later in his life and that he wrote his last two books at that time. In our present study we will only deal with the Book of Proverbs.
B. THE BOOK OF PROVERBS: OVERVIEW.
Every nation has its proverbs. A proverb is wisdom expressed in a few words or in a short sentence. It is very practical and concerns the lives we live. They are handed down from one generation to another and we all often quote them. Human proverbs are however not always true.
In the Book of Proverbs we are now going to deal with sayings of which every word is inspired by God and therefore absolutely true.
It is also interesting to note how God uses different people to present his truths in different ways. Let us look at some of the topics which these proverbs cover.
C. SOME TOPICS DEALT WITH IN PROVERBS (WITH COMMENTS).
1. SERVING AND TRUSTING GOD
CHAP 4:18 The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.
CHAP 9:10 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
CHAP 14:26 He who fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge.
CHAP 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”
Solomon was, in his time, probably the most well known of all the kings on earth. The vast majority of them did not know or serve God. They had their own idols which were not gods at all. Solomon saw how much trouble and unrest those kings had in their countries. Some of them were murdered by their own people. Others saw their people suffering terribly because of hunger and deceases. These kings could not help their people because they did not know God and could therefore not pray to Him to help them in their need.
In Solomon’s own country, on the contrary, it went very, very well. He was extremely rich and lived in a most beautiful palace. There were so many people eating at his table that he slaughtered daily, 30 head of cattle, 100 sheep and goats, and a huge number of game and poultry. He had 40 000 horses for pulling of carts and wagons and 12 000 horses on which his soldiers could ride in wartime. All the surrounding nations lived in peace with him so his people had no fear and lived peacefully at their homes. He was also a very wise man and kings and rulers came from afar to hear him speak and see how he was governing his country. Solomon proved to all of them that there was no better way of living than knowing and serving the one and only God, the God of Israel, the Creator of heaven and earth.
2. SEXUAL PURITY AND ADULTERY
CHAP 5:15 Drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own well. 16 Should your springs overflow in the streets, your streams of water in the public squares? 17 Let them be yours alone, never to be shared with strangers. 18 May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. 19 A loving doe, a graceful deer—may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be captivated by her love. 20 Why be captivated, my son, by an adulteress? Why embrace the bosom of another man’s wife?
CHAP 6:27 Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned? 28 Can a man walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched? 29 So is he who sleeps with another man’s wife; no-one who touches her will go unpunished.”
How very true are these verses even in the times in which we live. “Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned? Can a man walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched?” What Solomon says is that a man who sleeps with a woman to whom he is not legally married, will afterwards pay dearly for his sin. That sin will burn him like fire, some will be burned to death. Death by fire is a terrible death and if you have burned badly, even a good doctor will be unable to help you.
In our days we have the fire of HIV Aids and thousands of people that have committed the sin of sleeping around, are burning at this very moment. They enjoyed their sin for a few short minutes but they burn forever. The consquences of the disease can be softened but no-one can permanently cure it.
Let us therefor listen to the advice of the wisest man that ever lived (apart from our Lord Jesus Christ). Let every man delight himself in his own legally acquired wife. Let every wife give her body to no other man but the one she is legally married to. If you keep to this advice, your bed will be a place of enjoyment of one-another within the safe bounderies set by God.
3. BAD AND GOOD WIVES
CHAP 21:9 Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.
CHAP 19:22 He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favour from the LORD.
CHAP 31:26 She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. 27 She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. 28 Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: 29 “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” 30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. 31 Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate”
In these verses Solomon gives good advice to wives. He says that a good wife is not quarrelsome but lives in peace with her husband and neighbours. She does not speak foolish words that hurt other people or bring her husband in disgrace, but words of wisdom that bring honour to her home. The woman in her vicinity ask her for advice on how to raise their children, prepare food or cultivate their gardens.
She may not be the most beautiful woman around, but as the years go by, she will increasingly be respected by other people. On the contrary, a woman that depends on their beauty to be admired, will find that beauty soon fades away as she ages. Wisdom, however increases with age in those that seek it.
4. THRIFT AND LAZINESS
CHAP 22:13 The sluggard says, “There is a lion outside!” or, “I will be murdered in the streets!”
A lazy man will always find a good excuse for not leaving his home, going out and finding something to do. He will see a lion in the streets when there is not even a dog around. He will be afraid to get murdered, yet all the other villagers walk all over to fetch wood and water or take a taxi to get to their jobs.
CHAP 26:14 As a door turns on its hinges, so a sluggard turns on his bed.
How well said! A door can swing to and fro all day long, but it never get’s anywhere; movement without direction; movement just to be more comfortable. That is why the lazy man turns over and over in his bed.
CHAP 6:6 Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! 7 It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, 8 yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest. 9 How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep? 10 A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest— 11 and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man.”
A father having a lazy son will never get him to do anything. He may threaten him, beat him, promise him good things, but that lazy youngster will always find an excuse like: “I am not being treated fairly at work,” or “The hours are to long,” or “The work is too boring.” Solomon advises us to go to the ants, sit down and watch them intently for some time. We will see how hard they work, be ashamed and return to do our own jobs with greater zeal.
CHAP 10:5 He who gathers crops in summer is a wise son, but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son.”
When God creates an opportunity for us, we must gladly use it for the time for reaping may soon pass by.
Up till now we have discussed the proverbs we quoted but from here onwards we will just quote a few more very interesting ones and leave it to you to reflect on them. Do read every one attentively and think it over for some time and you will be amazed at the blessing you receive as the Holy Spirit applies it to your heart.
D. MORE TOPICS (WITHOUT COMMENTS)
CHAP 12:18 Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
CHAP 13:3 He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.
CHAP 15:1 A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. 18 A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel.
CHAP 16:24 Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.
CHAP 17:9 He who covers over an offence promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends. 14 Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.
CHAP 18:21 The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.
CHAP 26:20 Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down.
CHAP 29:20 Do you see a man who speaks in haste? There is more hope for a fool than for him. 22 An angry man stirs up dissension, and a hot-tempered one commits many sins.
2. FORGIVENESS AND REVENGE.
CHAP 20:22 Do not say, “I’ll pay you back for this wrong!” Wait for the LORD, and he will deliver you.
CHAP 25:21 If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. 22 In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the LORD will reward you
3. HONESTY IN BUSINESS.
CHAP 11:1 The LORD abhors dishonest scales, but accurate weights are his delight.
CHAP 15:11 Honest scales and balances are from the LORD; all the weights in the bag are of his making.
4. GENEROSITY AND STINGINESS.
CHAP 11:24 One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.
CHAP 14:31 He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honours God.
CHAP 19:17 He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward him for what he has done.
CHAP 21:13 If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered.
CHAP 12:25 An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.
CHAP 15:13 A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit. 15 All the days of the oppressed are wretched, but the cheerful heart has a continual feast.
CHAP 17:22 A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
6. CHILDREN AND THEIR UPBRINGING.
CHAP 13:24 He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.
CHAP 25:15 The rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a child left to himself disgraces his mother.
CHAP 29:17 Discipline your son, and he will give you peace; he will bring delight to your soul.
CHAP 22:6 Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.
CHAP 13:1 A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, but a mocker does not listen to rebuke.
7. PRIDE AND HUMILITY.
CHAP 29:23 A man’s pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honour.
CHAP 16:18 Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.
8. LIQUOR (Including drugs).
CHAP 20:1 Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.
CHAP 23:29 Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaints? Who has needless bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes? 30 Those who linger over wine, who go to sample bowls of mixed wine. 31 Do not gaze at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly! 32 In the end it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper. 33 Your eyes will see strange sights and your mind imagine confusing things. 34 You will be like one sleeping on the high seas, lying on top of the rigging. 35 “They hit me,” you will say, “but I’m not hurt! They beat me, but I don’t feel it! When will I wake up so I can find another drink?”
E. IN CLOSING.
We have reached the end of our very brief dealing with the books of King Solomon. Truly, he had wisdom from above and we will be wise and become more so by heeding them.
Our next study guides concerns the prophets and their messages.
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