Good morning! Today we leave behind the Psalms and begin another cornerstone of Wisdom literature, the book of Proverbs. This book catalogues all the collected aphorisms and wise sayings attributed to King Solomon and other ancient luminaries. Proverbs expresses conventional morality, of the sort that says living righteously always leads sooner or later to blessings in the end, proof of God’s favor. We’ve seen the limits of this worldview already when it came from the friends in the book of Job, but for what it’s worth, Proverbs captures the outlook of most people, most of the time. Many of the central chapters simply list one proverb after another, but occasional characterizations of wisdom as a woman are among the variations that give this book greater interest.
In chapters 1-3, the opening prologue lists all the benefits of proverbs to those who want to lead a good, righteous life. Again we read how “the fear of the Lord” (read: “honoring God above all else”) is a good thing that leads to wisdom and instruction. Wisdom is a woman crying out in the street—this personification is typical of Proverbs. The path of wisdom is so unmistakable—yet somehow plenty of people miss the call in their pursuit of other things. Wisdom requires the humility to admit that one doesn’t have all the answers, and to be taught by the wise woman. Without this, wisdom will depart and be nowhere to be found when hardship strikes. Chapter 2 spends a little time characterizing the contrasting “loose woman”, an adulteress who leads people astray with her unfaithful ways. Metaphors pile up for wisdom in chapter 3. She is true wealth, better than silver or gold. Wisdom is the ways of pleasantness and peace, a “tree of life to those who lay hold of her” (3:18). We get a glimpse of wisdom described God’s wisdom in creation, but we’ll save development of that theme for a couple more days. Happy reading!
Please join discussion of this passage at the Daily Bible Facebook group, or comment below. The passage for tomorrow is Proverbs 4-6. Thanks for reading!