Bo Wagner is pastor of the Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, NC, a widely traveled evangelist, and the author of several books. His books are available on Amazon and at www.wordofhismouth.com
Somehow, in the midst of being a husband, father, full-time pastor, doing a heavy schedule of evangelism, teaching a high school Bible class, writing this weekly faith column, and also being the electrician and all-around maintenance guy for our church, I have also now managed to write and publish my 32nd book, Proverbs, Volume 2, Bright Light From Dark Sayings.
I don’t get much sleep.
But the loss of sleep has been worth it, especially since Proverbs has proven to be a wealth of wonder as I worked my way through each verse.
Proverbs is a thirty-one-chapter gem located almost in the very middle of the Bible. Since most months have thirty or thirty-one days, one of the most common things that people do with the book of Proverbs is read whichever chapter corresponds with that day of the month, which is an excellent practice.
Solomon was the author of most of the book of Proverbs, though there were two lesser-known authors of the last two chapters, Lemuel and Agur. Solomon wrote it to his son, and the only son that Scripture ever tells us he had was Rehoboam.
Another contributor to the book of Proverbs was King Hezekiah. He did not write any of the Proverbs, but he did go hunting for any of Solomon’s Proverbs that had not yet been compiled, and even some that had been compiled yet were so significant that he wanted to include them again. Chapters twenty-five through twenty-nine contains those proverbs. Two hundred seventy years after the time of Solomon, Hezekiah still found them so significant that, under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, he included them in the sacred record.
The last chapter of Proverbs contains, for me, the most unique gem of all. It is easily the most famous chapter in all of the book of Proverbs, especially from verses ten to thirty-one. That passage is most commonly known as “The Virtuous Woman.” But what really makes this entire chapter so special is something that is very commonly overlooked. It is not just words about a woman – it is words from a woman. Lemuel, the author of this particular chapter, got all of these words from his mother:
Proverbs 31:1 The words of king Lemuel, the prophecy that his mother taught him.
After warning her son about the dangers of alcohol and of the wrong kind of girl, we find verses one through nine giving detailed reasons as to why alcohol is so damaging and is to be avoided, and then the rest of the chapter gives instruction on what type of a girl to look for as opposed to the wrong kind of girl which would ruin a man’s life. In other words, the closing act of the book of Proverbs, the very zenith of the book, are the words of a woman about a woman.
People who do not know better often say foolish things like, “the Bible is anti-woman and misogynistic.” Clearly, though, they have not paid attention to this or a thousand other proofs that they are utterly wrong.
Proverbs is one of the books of Hebrew poetry. And where Western poetry uses rhythm and rhyme and meter, Hebrew poetry uses parallelism to accomplish its purposes. It compares and/or contrasts one thing to another. Read Proverbs 12:1-8 when you are done with this column, and notice the word that appears in the middle of all eight verses, and you will begin to understand how that works.
Proverbs is also unique in that, while most other books of the Bible are primarily spiritual with some practical thrown in as well, it is primarily practical with some spiritual as well. In Romans, you will find justification and sanctification and glorification. In Proverbs, you will find diatribes against laziness and admonitions that we save for a rainy day. In Galatians, you will find warnings not to be entangled in chains of legalism. In Proverbs, you will find instructions to stay out of certain sections of town where nothing good is happening. In Ephesians, you will find that God has broken down the middle wall of partition between Jew and Gentile. In Proverbs, you will find that it is foolish to cosign loans and that you should recognize and avoid flattery and flatterers. In Jude, you will find admonitions that we contend for the faith. In Proverbs, you will find that children should listen to and obey their parents and that by hard work, you can elevate your station in life.
If you look closely enough, you can also find something else in the book of Proverbs; Rehoboam was already heading the wrong direction, and Solomon was brokenhearted over it. In Proverbs 19:27, he wrote, “Cease, my son, to hear the instruction that causeth to err from the words of knowledge.” Sadly, Rehoboam seems not to have heeded those words; his arrogance and poor choice of counselors split the kingdom shortly after he came to the throne.
Another interesting thing we find in Proverbs is this. Proverbs 1:8 says, “My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother.” This admonition is repeated several ways in several places throughout the book. But according to 1 Kings 14:21, Rehoboam’s mother was Naamah, and she was an Ammonitess. The Ammonites were almost always enemies of God and God’s people, but in this case, this dear lady clearly was not. Her counsel was so good and so godly that whenever Solomon told his son to listen to his father, he also told him to listen to his mother. That lets us know that where a person started in life is nowhere near as important as the choices they make along the way.
Proverbs is a rich book indeed, and well worth your time to study.
Pastor Wagner can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and his books and other resources are available by clicking the “Store” link above.
Feature photo by Pastor Bo Wagner