In How to Read Proverbs Tremper Longman provides a welcome guide to reading and studying, as well as understanding and savoring the Proverbs for all their wisdom. While many proverbs speak to us directly, we can gain much greater insight by studying the book of Proverbs as a whole, understanding its relationship to ancient non-Israelite wisdom, and listening to its conversation with the other great voices of wisdom in Scripture—Job and Ecclesiastes.
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“Running throughout Proverbs and wisdom literature in general is the idea that proverbs are not universal truths that are always relevant and rightly applied; rather, they are context-sensitive.” (Page 19)
“They describe actions that are right (sedeq), just (mispat), and fair (mesarim). These are ethical terms, and as we read on we will see that one cannot possess them without wisdom—nor wisdom without righteousness, justice and virtue. In other words, wisdom in Proverbs is an ethical quality. The wise are on the side of the good.” (Page 17)
“Wisdom, then, is not just an intellectual category but is closely entwined with ethical behavior.” (Page 30)
“How do we handle life’s problems? How do we deal with difficult people or uncomfortable situations? What do we say and how do we act? How do we express our emotions? The Bible has a word to describe the person who navigates life well; that word is ‘wise.’ A wise person lives life with boldness in spite of the inevitable difficulties.” (Page 13)
“The two cola are not ‘saying the same thing twice’—a common misunderstanding of parallelism. Instead, the second part sharpens and intensifies the thought of the first part.” (Page 39)
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