What is the Book of Proverbs About?

Read this 3-minute introduction to help you find your bearings in the Bible story, and inspire you to read Proverbs!


Historical Context

Proverbs itself mentions Solomon (reigned c. 971–931 BC) as author or collector of its contents (Proverbs 1:1; 10:1), including the proverbs copied by Hezekiah’s men (Proverbs 25:1). There are also two batches of sayings from a group called “the wise” (Proverbs 22:17–24:22; 24:23–34), and “oracles” from Agur (Proverbs 30:1–33) and Lemuel (Proverbs 31:1–9). No author is named for the song in praise of the excellent wife that ends the book (Proverbs 31:10–31). 

From Remember that the ultimate author of every book of the Bible is the Holy Spirit (1 Peter 1:21). He has written this book to equip you for life, to help you know the true God, and to give you hope (2 Timothy 3:16; Romans 15:4). The Holy Spirit wrote Proverbs for your good and to lead you into joy.

Although Proverbs was begun in the time of Solomon (reigned c. 971–931 BC), it probably was not in its present form until the time of Hezekiah (reigned c. 715–686 BC). 

The book is addressed to a young man. The situations he will face while he is young receive much attention. These situations supply concrete examples from which all readers can apply lessons to their own lives. Anyone who is wise and who pays attention will benefit (Proverbs 1:5) from this instruction.

Unless otherwise indicated, this content is adapted from the ESV Global Study Bible® (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright ©2012 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Proverbs Dictionary

As you read through Proverbs, you might come across words and ideas that are foreign to you. Here are a few definitions you will want to know!

Sexual union between a man and a woman when either or both of them are married to someone else. Adultery is a sin.

To praise or make holy. The word bless is used in different ways in the Bible: (1) When God blesses, He brings salvation and prosperity and shows mercy and kindness to people. (2) When people bless, they (a) bring salvation and prosperity to other persons or groups; (b) they praise and worship and thank God; (c) they give good things or show kindness to others.

(1) To find someone guilty of doing something wrong and to declare or pronounce a punishment. (2) To be against or disapprove of something because it is wrong.

(1) A request that harm come to someone; (2) blaspheme. In the Bible, curse does not mean to swear or to use bad language. When a person cursed something, he or she wished evil or harm to come to it. When God cursed something, He declared judgment on something.

To hate.

To be afraid of something or someone. The Bible often uses the word fear to describe the sense of respect or awe that sinful people (and we are all sinful, according to Romans 3:23) should have for God because of His perfection, sovereignty and holiness.

That which is right and fair. Most of the prophets in the Bible emphasized that God is just and that He wants His people to act justly. Many of the prophets’ warnings were given because the leaders and people were guilty of injustice (such as cheating others, especially the poor).

 A short, wise saying. The Bible book of Proverbs is made up of many wise sayings.

The price paid to buy the freedom of a captive or slave. The New Testament says that all people are held captives to sin and death. When Jesus died on the cross, He paid the price—the ransom—to rescue us from the powers of sin and death. See also redeem.

To correct someone sternly; to scold someone.

Thinking and doing what is correct (or right) and holy. God is righteous because he does only what is perfect and holy. A person who has accepted Jesus as Savior is looked at by God as being free from the guilt of sin, so God sees that person as being righteous. People who are members of God’s family show their love for him by doing what is correct and holy, living in righteous ways.

(1) A person who tells what he or she has seen. (2) To tell others what has been seen. Jesus told his followers to be witnesses. We are to tell what we have seen Jesus Christ do in our own lives.

This content is from What the Bible Is All About, written by Henrietta Mears. Copyright © 1953, 2011 by Gospel Light. Copyright assigned to Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. 2015. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a division of Tyndale House Ministries., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved. 

Tough Questions