Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Hebrew Poetry… Proverbs 1:20 and 21

I have been doing a lot of research on the Book of Proverbs and came across some information that I felt I should share because it helped me understand the way Hebrew poetry (which is one of the basic ways that the book of Proverbs is presented) is written. The structure of Hebrew poetry is called “parallelism or intensification.” This means that the lines of each verse are parallel in some way and the second line intensifies or “concentrates” the meaning of the first one… if there is a third line, then the idea is even more powerful.

There are 4 main different types of parallelism as well. Sometimes the first and second lines are sort of the same, and the first just adds more emphasis to the second as illustrated by Prov. 1:18 These men lie in wait for their own blood; they waylay only themselves! Sometimes, the second line is an illustration of the OPPOSITE of the first line, which enhances the meaning by doing something like illustrating a point from another angle (Prov. 10:1 A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish son, grief to his mother).

Another type of parallelism paints a word picture as we saw in Prov. 1: 11 and 12, (If they say, "Come along with us; let's lie in wait for someone's blood, let's waylay some harmless soul; let's swallow them alive, like the grave, and whole, like those who go down to the pit) to get the point across. The last type, continues the same thought in the second line as was introduced in the first such as Prov. 1:19 Such is the end of all who go after ill-gotten gain; it takes away the lives of those who get it.

Anyway, I thought that it was interesting that the Proverbs were a form of Poetry and that is why much of it is written in “idea groups” of two or more. Ok, on with the study...

Proverbs 1:20 and 21 (NKJV): The Call of Wisdom

20 Wisdom calls aloud outside; she raises her voice in the open squares. 21 She cries out in the chief concourses; at the openings of the gates in the city, she speaks her words:

These verses paint a picture of “Wisdom” being like a woman that should attract others to her. The Hebrew word that is used for “wisdom” is hokmah which was used to indicate the skill of a craftsman. When used in this context, the skill would involve skill in Godly living. It indicates a skill that comes from knowledge and experience in living a Godly life.

In the Hebrew culture, the older men of authority often congregated in the “open squares,” “chief concourses,” and in the “gates of the city,” so these verses talk about places where the young could go to hear these elders speak and discuss the important matters that were going on around them. Again, as in the first parts of this chapter, the young and inexperienced at told to go to the wise to learn the things they need to know.

How often do we instinctually turn to others that we feel have “gone through” the things that we are going through to get guidance? I think that this is something that God has put in us or that He has taught us over our lifetimes. It is an important principal of life that we should utilize when we need it and that we should be willing to share when our children or other younger or less mature people need it.

Reading and studying the word of God, who is omniscient (all knowing) is another important way of gaining wisdom. Various parts of the Bible will teach us wisdom in the different areas of life that we need to learn it. God illustrates His love and long-suffering throughout the Old Testament. He illustrates the concepts of what sin causes and how it has to be judged or it will take over and ruin everything around it. He illustrates His continued forgiveness to those who turn to Him, turn away from sin, and choose to follow Him.

His greatest illustration of love was when He knew we COULDN’T be sinless, that we needed someone to pay the price of sin, which is death, and then HE paid that price by sending HIS son to die in our place, and wash away our sins. THEN He illustrated that there is a life after death by raising His son to give living proof of the truth of His Words. That is the whole point of the New Testament…

1 comment:

  1. that was interesting, Linda, about the proverbs and poetry part; all in all a great study you are doing; thanks!