Did your mom or dad have some wise old sayings, sometimes referred to as adages, that they would repeat to you under certain circumstances? Perhaps you heard one of these from time to time. “Beggars can’t be choosers.” “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.” “A penny saved is a penny earned.” Every language seems to have these traditional maxims that are often passed down from generation to generation and are specific to a certain culture. Sometimes they are humorous. Usually they are insightful. Often they are very practical words of advice when you translate them into real life situations.
When it comes to the wise counsel that is written in the Book of Proverbs in the Bible, the concepts are far more impacting and life changing because they give us insight into how God intends us to live life. These principles apply to people in every culture and throughout time, don’t they? While King Solomon wrote hundreds of these guidelines, there were other writers who contributed the final chapters. Often these proverbs use either synonymous or antithetical parallelism, which means that the second phrase restates and clarifies the first line or it expresses the opposite idea, also reinforcing the positive idea. At other times the second line completes the thought of the first line and is called climactic parallelism. Understanding these various poetic variations certainly increases the clarity and richness of each proverb.
While the sayings we remember from our childhood and often pass on to the next generation with a bit of humor are good, the wisdom that is given to us in Proverbs is truth that really should not be ignored. For example, here is Proverbs 1: 7 from The Message: “Start with GOD—the first step in learning is bowing down to GOD; only fools thumb their noses at such wisdom and learning.” Isn’t that a great way to picture what the more literal translation might be expressing? “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge.” Believe it or not!