Welcome to episode four in our series of How to Read the Wisdom Literature of the Bible. Today, Tim and Jon dive into the book of Proverbs.
In part 1 (start-17:45), the guys briefly recap the series so far. Jon summarizes by saying that the overarching theme is the human calling to rule, as outlined in the Genesis and garden of Eden narrative. The question is, will humans rule wisely or foolishly?
In part 2 (17:45-27:00), Tim and Jon discuss how Proverbs lays out two paths, which are the same two paths outlined in Genesis. A person can either choose to live wisely, depicted as listening to “Lady Wisdom,” or a person can choose to live foolishly, depicted as listening to “Lady Folly.”
Early in Proverbs, the “Solomon” narrator warns the “seed of David” about how to live in the fear of Yahweh and discover true wisdom. The wise and righteous man embraces Lady Wisdom (Proverbs 1, 3, 8, 9).
The goal of finding “a woman of valor” (Prov. 5, 31) avoids the wicked and violent man, avoids Lady Folly (Prov. 9), and avoids the “wayward woman” (characterized as an adulteress).
Tim notes that there are four speeches each that talk about Lady Wisdom and Lady Folly, for a total of eight speeches. The components of these speeches are designed to mirror each other.
In part 3 (27:00-39:00), Tim outlines Proverbs 9, which is an example of the two women mirroring each other.
"Wisdom has built her house,
She has hewn out her seven pillars;
She has prepared her food, she has mixed her wine;
She has also set her table;
She has sent out her maidens, she calls
From the tops of the high places of the city:
‘Whoever is naive, let him turn in here!’
To him who lacks understanding she says,
‘Come, eat of my bread
And drink of the wine I have mixed.
‘Forsake your folly and live,
And proceed in the way of understanding.’”
“The woman of folly is boisterous,
She is naive and knows nothing.
She sits at the doorway of her house,
On a seat by the high places of the city,
Calling to those who pass by,
Who are making their paths straight:
‘Whoever is naive, let him turn in here,’
And to him who lacks understanding she says,
‘Stolen water is sweet;
And bread eaten in secret is pleasant.’
But he does not know that the dead are there,
That her guests are in the depths of Sheol.”
Tim notes that accepting divine wisdom is the way to discover the blessings of Eden. Consider Proverbs 3:
Proverbs 3:1-8, 13-18
“My son, do not forget my teaching,
But let your heart keep my commandments;
For length of days and years of life
And peace they will add to you.
Do not let kindness and truth leave you;
Bind them around your neck,
Write them on the tablet of your heart.
So you will find favor and good repute
In the sight of God and man.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.
Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the Lord and turn away from ra’.
It will be healing to your body
And refreshment to your bones.”
“How blessed is the man who finds wisdom
And the man who gains understanding.
For her profit is better than the profit of silver
And her gain better than fine gold.
She is more precious than jewels;
And nothing you desire compares with her.
Long life is in her right hand;
In her left hand are riches and honor.
Her ways are pleasant ways
And all her paths are peace.
She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her,
And happy are all who hold her fast."
Tim cites Proverbs 3 because he notes that the wise woman metaphorically becomes the tree of life. This maps onto the Garden of Eden narrative. Tim says that the book of Proverbs is designed to be a reflection on Genesis 1-3.
In part 4 (39:00-end), Tim outlines Proverbs 31. Tim notes that the woman outlined here could be said to be a sort of real-life version of the metaphoric “Lady Wisdom” depicted earlier in the book. Tim notes that while Proverbs views the pursuit of wisdom from a male perspective of choosing between two metaphorical women, the next book, Song of Songs, flips it, and views the pursuit of wisdom from a female perspective.
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Show Produced by:
Dan Gummel, Jon Collins
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