How to Study Proverbs
Proverbs uses figurative language-similes and metaphors.
Read Proverbs 1:1-7 and note the author, purpose, and theme of the book in the margin of chapter 1. As you look for the purpose, watch the repeated use of to. The theme is also repeated in 9:10. Record these insights on the Structure of Proverbs.
A wise person appreciates the wisdom of others. Look at Structure of Proverbs and note the major segment divisions of this book. You will see that Solomon respected the wisdom of others. Look up the following verses and note whose words or proverbs follow: Proverbs 10:1; 22:17; 25:1; 30:1; 31:1.
Mark the key words: my son (O son), wisdom (guidance, wise), knowledge, understanding (insight, discernment), fear, commandments, instruction (discipline, teaching), tongue, fool (folly), righteous, evil, wicked. Along with their synonyms. Keep a list of what you learn about wisdom, especially in the first nine chapters. Note how wisdom is personified. (An abstraction, such as wisdom, is personified when it takes on the characteristics of a person. Proverbs 1:20 is an example.)
Watch for and mark the phrase my son (O son). Then listen as if it is God the Father speaking to you. His own dear child whom He wants to show the path of life.
Develop a code for marking the subjects covered throughout Proverbs: sexual morality, finances, discipline, the heart, the tongue, the company we keep, etc. As you read through Proverbs repeatedly you will learn more and more about mankind and will find yourself much wiser when it come to living in the "fear of the Lord." You will have a collection of insights on the critical issues of life.
Record the theme or themes of each chapter in Structure of Proverbs and in your Bible. You may find this difficult between chapters 10 and 29 because the proverbs are short and varied. However, simply listing the major topics of each chapter will help you find the mayor topics at a glance. Color-coding or marking each topic throughout the book will help you easily spot what Proverbs teaches about a particular subject. This will be a great help as you share these truths with others or need wisdom on a specific topic.
Key Words in the NIV and KJV
Key doctrines in Proverbs
Practical righteousness (1:3; John 14:21)
The benefits of wisdom (2:20–22; 3:13–18; 9:11; 12:21; Job 28:17; Pss. 37:3; 91:10; 1 Pet. 3:13)
Man’s relationship to God (1:7; 3:34; 6:23; 10:22; 12:28; 15:11; 22:19; Gen. 4:35; 26:12; Deut. 8:18; Job 28:28; Pss. 19:8; 111:10; Eccles. 12:13; Acts 1:24; James 4:6; 1 Pet. 5:5; 2 Pet. 1:19)
Man’s relationship to himself (1:5; 3:3; 6:9–11; 11:4; 13:4; 20:11; 29:11; Exod. 13:9; Deut. 6:8; Jer. 17:1; Ezek. 7:19; Zeph. 1:18; Matt. 7:16; 2 Cor. 3:3)
Man’s relationship to others (3:1–3; 4:1–4; 8:17; 17:17; 19:27; 20:19; 23:23; Deut. 8:1; Ruth 1:16; 1 Sam. 2:30; Ps. 34:11; Rom. 16:18)