A proverb is a saying that is usually rather short and easy to remember, but contains a profound nugget of truth. This type of memory device is not unique to any particular culture. In fact, we use plenty of them today.
For example, we say things like “A stitch in time saves nine.” This little phrase reminds us that taking care of an issue early will prevent us from having to do additional work in the future.
There are many proverbs in the Scriptures, in addition to an entire book of Bible being a collection of them. Most Christians know that the majority of the wisdom sayings in the book of Proverbs were written by King Solomon. However, do you know why Solomon brought together the collection of proverbs?
Solomon’s proverb collection doesn’t actually begin until Chapter 10, so Chapters 1 through 9 form an introduction to the proverbs. It’s in this introduction that Solomon repeatedly states why he considers wisdom to be so important. However, it’s equally clear that he had a specific audience in mind.
Nineteen times in Chapters 1 through 9 Solomon addresses either “my son” or “my sons”. Take a look at a small sampling:
2:1 My son, if you accept my words…
3:1 My son, don’t forget my teaching…
4:20 My son, pay attention to my words…
5:7 So now, my sons, listen to me…
We can definitely see that Solomon’s heart is to mentor and develop his sons. However, in one portion of the introduction, Solomon reveals how he learned about the importance of wisdom:
Listen, my sons, to a father’s discipline,
and pay attention so that you may gain understanding,
for I am giving you good instruction.
Don’t abandon my teaching.
When I was a son with my father, tender and precious to my mother,
he taught me and said:
“Your heart must hold on to my words.
Keep my commands and live. Get wisdom, get understanding;
don’t forget or turn away from the words of my mouth.
Don’t abandon wisdom, and she will watch over you;
love her, and she will guard you.
Wisdom is supreme – so get wisdom.
And whatever else you get, get understanding.
Cherish her, and she will exalt you;
if you embrace her, she will honor you.
She will place a garland of grace on your head;
she will give you a crown of beauty.”
Solomon knew the importance of wisdom because that is what he was taught. King David instilled the lessons he learned into Solomon, who in turn passed these lessons down to his sons. How each generation handled wisdom certainly varied, but they all knew of wisdom’s importance because its value was taught to them.
We don’t have to have the full wisdom of Solomon to be a mentor, either. We just have to be willing to pass on what we have been taught.