Solomon is identified as the writer of three books in the Old Testament. He wrote “The Song of Solomon” in his youth. He wrote “Proverbs” in his leading, reigning years of middle age strength. He wrote “Ecclesiastes” in his old age as he looked back and evaluated life retrospectively.  He is also said to have written two Psalms, Psalm 72 and Psalm 127. Solomon is often referred to as the wisest man ever to live. That might be attributed to the fact that when given a choice of everything in the world by God, Solomon didn’t choose wealth or fame or power. He chose wisdom. God answered his request as promised and read about this in 1 Kings 4:29-34, “And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding beyond measure, and breadth of mind like the sand on the seashore, so that Solomon’s wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the people of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt. For he was wiser than all other men, wiser than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, Calcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol, and his fame was in all the surrounding nations. He also spoke 3,000 proverbs, and his songs were 1,005.  He spoke of trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of the wall. He spoke also of beasts, and of birds, and of reptiles, and of fish. And people of all nations came to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and from all the kings of the earth, who had heard of his wisdom.”

Newheiser explains wisdom correctly. He writes, “The wisdom offered by the book of Proverbs is skill for living. Wisdom is not merely intellectual or academic; it is primarily moral. Solomon, as the wisest man on earth, demonstrated wisdom and skill as a naturalist, an administrator, and a judge. The book of Proverbs teaches you how to live skillfully in every area of your life including family, finances, friendships, speech, and work. The goal of wisdom is that you might achieve a life of beauty and significance so that at the end of your days you will have accomplished something worthwhile and lasting. Jesus is the one who exemplifies wisdom, as he lived on earth with perfect skill. It is through Christ that we are made wise and gain the ability to live wisely.”[1] Jesus is the wisdom of God and he came that we might have life to the fullest.

The first verse gives us the title and a summary of the book. It says, “The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel.” Proverbs are a genre of literature in and of itself. “Knowledge of the genre is essential to the interpretation. A valentine is not a recipe—a literal reading of one will dull the edge of love; a figurative reading of the other will blunt the edge of appetite. Taking care to understand how to read the Bible is as important as trusting in its power and authority. Our author has done us a favor by stating at the outset the kind of literature with which we deal.”[2] One must always interpret the writing according to its genre. A web article says, “When it comes to Proverbs, it’s important to realize that as a part of its genre, one of the most important interpretive principles is to remember that they are not promises by God; rather, proverbs are the way life generally goes.” They give us probably outcomes, not guarantees. This is true for all proverb literature. For example, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Eating fruit and vegetables can help you maintain a more balanced and healthy life, but no matter how many apples you eat, you’ll need to see the doctor sometimes.

[1] Newheiser, Jim. 2008. Opening up Proverbs. Opening Up Commentary. Leominster: Day One Publications.

[2] Hubbard, David A., and Lloyd J. Ogilvie. 1989. Proverbs. Vol. 15. The Preacher’s Commentary Series. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.