Old Testament Lesson #31
Proverbs and Ecclesiastes seek to impart wisdom through memorable maxims. But biblical wisdom is about more than how to live one's life, it seeks to help people come to God and live righteously.
"How did proverbs come to be—and how were they used in olden times?" Keith H. Meservy, Ensign, October 1973
Proverbs belong to a literary classification known as wisdom literature: sayings of wise men who crystallized their advice into short, pithy statements. These were usually, but not necessarily, expressed in two–line couplets, the second of which emphasized the meaning of the first by an antithetical statement ("A wise son maketh a glad father; but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother" [Prov. 10:11]); or by a complementary or parallel idea ("The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding" [Prov. 9:10]). The distillation of a wise idea into a succinct, well–expressed form made it easy to remember; if it were easier to remember it would be easier to pass from one generation to another. And this was the intent—to pass wisdom from the parent to the child.
"'Wisdom' (Philosophy) in the Holy Bible," David H. Yarn Jr., BYU Studies, Volume 13, no. 1
The book of Proverbs frequently uses the word "wisdom." This article examines wisdom passages throughout the Bible and classifies them into five groups. Passages on craft skills, fine arts skills and knowledge of animate nature, and instruction in morals appear much less frequently than wisdom regarding knowledge of God and righteousness. Heavenly wisdom can be known only through the power of God and is peaceable, gentle, and full of mercy and good fruits.
"All Things in Wisdom and Order," John C. Taggart, Ensign, August 2010
To "win the prize" we must be diligent, while acting within the limits of our capacity and circumstances. There are at least five guiding principles contained in this counsel from King Benjamin: duty, persistence, capacity, balance, and priority and seasonality.
"The Word and the Seed: The Theological Use of Biblical Creation in Alma 32," David E. Bokovoy, Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 23 (2014): 1–21
"Proverbs 8 depicts a personified Wisdom referring to Yahweh's act of creation/possession in a way that parallels King Benjamin's assertion that God has created 'all things in heaven and earth' and therefore possesses 'all wisdom': 'The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was' (Proverbs 8:22–23). Ultimately, these texts make the same basic argument: since God created even wisdom itself, people would obviously be wise to hearken unto his voice and obey his commandments."