How to Read Proverbs
During the month of July, our church will be reading the book of Proverbs. Use this study guide to help you as read this amazing book.
What’s Proverbs All About?
The book of Proverbs is a unique book in the Bible. It is the largest collection of wisdom sayings and poems in the whole Bible. The book opens with a connection to Solomon, though not all everything in the book was written by him. Solomon, when presented with a gracious offer from God, asked that God give him wisdom (1 Kings 3) and God granted his wish. Solomon becomes then the prime example of someone seeking the wisdom of God. The book of Proverbs is all about seeking, finding, and living by the wisdom that God graciously gives to those who desire it.
The book opens with a set of 10 speeches from a father to his son about seeking God’s wisdom. In that section, there are also 4 poems by Lady Wisdom, a personification of wisdom. The largest section in the middle is a collection of short proverbs, riddles, parables, and more. The book ends with a poem by a man named Agur who seeks wisdom and a poem that King Lemuel’s mother taught him about a woman of wisdom.
The wisdom found in this book is God’s wisdom. And those who seek it and live by it will find blessing. Proverbs is not a book of promises or prophecy. Instead, it is an invitation to seek wisdom and so by doing seek the God of wisdom—and by seeking the Lord, coming to fear and honor him.
Outline of the Book
1:1–7 | Purpose of the Book
1:8–9 | The 10 Speeches & 4 Poems
10–22 | The Proverbs of Solomon
22–24 | The Sayings of the Wise
25–29 | Hezekiah’s Collection of Proverbs
30 | Agur Seeks Wisdom
31 | A Mother’s Wisdom & A Wise Woman
Things to Look For
Look for the fear of the Lord. The book of Proverbs is not just about doing the right thing and it working out in the end. The book is seeking to point us to God’s wisdom. And we cannot know God’s wisdom apart from fearing him and honoring him with our lives.
Look for a contrast between Lady Folly and Lady Wisdom. Folly and wisdom get personified in the book. They form two stark contrasts between living by God’s wisdom and walking in the way of foolishness.
Look for patterns, not promises. The book of Proverbs is not giving us promises that our actions will always get the same results. These are not promises they are patterns for how the world most often works.
Look for wisdom for some deep-rooted heart issues. There is so much in the book of Proverbs that can help us with deep heart issues like lust, anger, our words, laziness, pride, envy, etc. Let the book expose your sin and help you walk in God’s wisdom.
Look for Jesus in the Proverbs. It can be difficult to find Jesus in this book. But remember, Jesus is the very wisdom of God (1 Cor. 1:24). He is the One through whom God created the world (Prov. 8:22–31). He is the One who perfectly feared the Lord. And he is One who leads us into God’s perfect wisdom. As you read, think about how what you read shows you your need for Jesus or how Jesus himself lived in that way.
Tips for Reading
Read a chapter a day and you’ll read the whole book this month.
Find one verse or proverb a day and talk about it with someone. Talk with your spouse, your family at dinner, your roommate, or a friend. Talk about what it means, how you live it out, and how it ultimately points to Jesus.
Take note of the Proverbs that you don’t understand. Don’t just read through the book mindlessly to get through it. Slow down. Think about the verses. And if you have questions, write them down. Ask someone their thoughts or look up possible meaning online.
Read Proverbs with an attitude of prayer. There is so much in this book that can serve us at the heart level. When you read, ask God to speak to you, to change you, and to help you walk in the wisdom he graciously gives.