The Book of Psalms The Book of Ecclesiastes or, the Preacher

THE BOOK OF PROVERBS

There has scarcely been any dispute concerning either the author or divine authority of this book, in either the Jewish or Christian Church. All allow that it was written by Solomon, and the general belief is that he wrote the book by divine inspiration.

It has, indeed, been supposed that Solomon collected the major part of these proverbs from those who had preceded him, whether Hebrews or heathens; but the latter opinion has been controverted, as derogating from the authority of the book. But this supposition has very little weight; for, whatever of truth is found in or among men, came originally from God. And if He employed an inspired man to collect those rays of light, and embody them for the use of His Church, He had a right to do so, and to claim His own wheresoever found, and, by giving it a new authentication, to render it more useful in reference to the end for which it was originally communicated. God is "the Father of lights," and from Him came all true wisdom, not only in its discursive teachings, but in all its detached maxims for the government and regulation of life. I think it vry likely that Solomon did not compose them all; but he collected everything of this kind within his reach, and what was according to the Spirit of truth, by which he was inspired, he condensed in this book; and as the Divine Spirit gave it, so the providence of God has preserved it, for the use of His Church.

The term proverb, proverbium, composed of pro, "for," and verbum, "a word, speech, or saying," leads us to an original meaning of the thing itself. It was an allegorical saying, where "more was meant than met the eye" -- a short saying that stood for a whole discourse.

But the Hebrew meshalim, from mashal,"to rule or govern," signifies a set or collection of mighty, wise, and therefore authoritative, sayings, whereby a man's whole conduct, civil and religious, is to be governed; saying containing rules for the government of life. Or, as the divine Author himself expresses it in the beginning of the first chapter, the design is to lead men "to know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding; to receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity; to give subtilty to the simple, and to the young man knowledge and discretion," vv. 2-3. This was the design of proverbs; and perhaps it would be impossible to find out a better definition of the design and object of those of Solomon than is contained in the two preceding verses.

The Book of Proverbs has been divided into five parts:

I. A master is represented as instructing his scholar, giving him admonitions, directions, cautions, and excitements to the study of wisdom, chaps. 1 to 9.

II. This part is supposed to contain the proverbs of Solomon, properly so called; delivered in distinct, independent, general sentences. From chaps. 9 to 22:17.

III. In this part the tutor again addresses himself to his pupil, and gives him fresh, admonitions to the study of wisdom; which is followed by a set of instructions, delivered imperatively to the pupil, who is supposed all the while to be standing before him. From chap. 22:17 to chap. 25.

IV. This part is distinguished by being a selection of Solomon's proverbs, made by the men of Hezekiah. This part, like the second, is composed of distinct, unconnected, sentences, and extends from chap. 25 to 30.

V. The fifth part contains a set of wise expostulations and instructions, which Agur, the son of Jakeh, delivered to his pupils, Ithiel and Ucal, chap. 30. And the thirty-first chapter contains the instructions which a mother, who is not named, gave to Lemuel, her son, being earnestly desirous to guard him against vice, to establish him in the principles of justice, and to have him married to a wife of the best qualities. These last two chapters may be considered a kind of appendix to the Book of Proverbs.

Proverbs 1:1. Who Wrote the Book of Proverbs? "The general title is 'The Proverbs of Solomon the son of David'. At several points in the book, however, there are rubrics [headings] giving the authorship of different sections. Thus sections are ascribed to Solomon at 10:1 and to 'the wise' at 22:17 and 24:23. At 25:1 there is the rubric 'These also are proverbs of Solomon which the men of Hezekiah king of Judah copied'; ch. 30 is headed 'the words of Agur son of Jakeh', and ch. 31 ascribed to 'King Lemuel', or, rather, to his mother." (Guthrie and Motyer, New Bible Commentary, p. 548.)

According to the scriptural record, Solomon spoke or compiled three thousand proverbs and wrote 1,005 songs (see 1 Kings 4:32). Some of his wisdom was undoubtedly preserved by later writers and editors of the Old Testament and is now found in the wisdom literature.

Proverbs 1:1-6. What Is the Book of Proverbs? "The word translated 'proverb' ... comes from a root which seems to mean 'to represent' or 'be like' ... The word was, however, extended to sayings where no such analogy is evident, and came to designate a short pithy saying or byword.

"But the proverbs in this book are not so much popular sayings as the distillation of the wisdom of teachers who knew the law of God and were applying its principles to the whole of life." (D. Guthrie and J. A. Motyer, eds., The New Bible Commentary: Revised, p. 549.)

Proverbs 1:6. What Are "Dark Sayings"? The first verses of Proverbs state that one purpose of this collection of wisdom is to help men understand the "dark sayings" of the wise. The Hebrew idiom dark sayings connotes riddles or puzzles. The idea here is that the sayings of the wise are hidden or puzzling to those who are not wise.

Proverbs 1:7. What Is the Theme of the Book of Proverbs? The theme of the book of Proverbs is stated in verse 7: "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge." Fear as used here means reverence or deep respect for God. Though there is much in the book that does not rise above worldly wisdom, the whole serves as a reminder that to the Lord all things are spiritual (see D&C 29:34). The book underscores the idea that even in mortal life, when properly viewed, all things testify of God.

Proverbs 1:7. What is the beginning of knowledge? (See also Proverbs 1:7a)

Proverbs 1:7. What do fools despise?

Proverbs 1:8. Whose instructions and laws should be obeyed?

Proverbs 1:8-9. Obeying Parental Counsel

These verses express the idea that wisdom won through obedience to parental counsel is as a lovely ornament (crown) to one's head and as chains (necklaces) about one's neck.

Proverbs 1:10-15. What should we do when sinners entice us?

Proverbs 1:33. Who will dwell safely and not fear evil?

Proverbs 2. Wisdom Comes from God

This chapter stresses that wisdom is a gift of God obtained only by diligent searching, and God will watch over and protect those who receive it and remain faithful to it. This promise can be understood only when one remembers that to Israel, wisdom meant obedience to God's laws.

Proverbs 2:1-5. How ill we find the "knowledge of God"? (Proverbs 2:5)

Proverbs 2:10. The Head, the Heart, and the Bowels

In the Eastern and Western cultures, different parts of the human body symbolize the ideas of understanding and feeling. In the East one "understands" in his heart and "feels" in his bowels; in the West one "understands" in his head, or mind, and "feels" in his heart. Contrast Doctrine and Covenants 9:8, which says "your bosom shall burn within you," with Proverbs 2:10, which says that "wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul" (see also Proverbs 6:18; 22:17).

Proverbs 2:14a. What is frowardness? (See v. 14a)

The word froward as used in Proverbs is a translation of several Hebrew words which share the common idea of deceitfulness, perverseness, and foolishness.

Proverbs 2:16. What Is a "Strange Woman"?

The term strange women used throughout Proverbs refers not only to foreigners (non-Israelites) and idolaters but also to unchaste women. It is often synonymous with harlot.

Proverbs 2:20. What way should we walk in?

Proverbs 2:21. Who will dwell and remain in the land?

Proverbs 3:5-7. Whom are we to trust? How much?

Proverbs 3:5-7. "Trust in the Lord" President N. Eldon Tanner often quoted Proverbs 3:5-7. On one occasion he said:

"How much wiser and better it is for man to accept the simple truths of the gospel and to accept as authority God, the Creator of the world, and his Son Jesus Christ, and to accept by faith those things which he cannot disprove and for which he cannot give a better explanation. He must be prepared to acknowledge that there are certain things -- many, many things -- that he cannot understand.

"How can we deny or even disbelieve God when we cannot understand even the simplest things around us -- how the leaf functions, what electricity is, what our emotions are, when the spirit enters the body, and what happens to it when it leaves? How can we say that because we do not understand the resurrection, there is not or cannot be a resurrection?

"We are admonished to 'trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.' (Prov. 3:5.) And we are warned: 'Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!" (Isa. 5:21.)" (In Conference Report, Oct. 1968, p. 49.)

Proverbs 3:9-10. With what are we to honor the Lord? Why?

Proverbs 3:11-12. "Despise Not the Chastening of the Lord" These verses sound an often repeated theme in the scriptures: the Lord frequently chastens His children to help them grow and progress spiritually (see Helaman 15:3; D&C 95:1; 101:4-5).

Proverbs 3:12. What does the Lord do to those he loves?

Proverbs 3:13-15. Who is more precious than rubies?

Proverbs 3:35. Who shall inherit glory?

Proverbs 4:5-9. What are we to seek after in this life? Why?

Proverbs 4:7. Get Wisdom, the "Principal Thing" After quoting Proverbs 4:7, Theodore M. Burton, then Assistant to the Council of the Twelve Apostles, said: "We must feed the spirit as well as the mind and as well as the body. I plead with our youth, get learning, and with all your getting get understanding. Get learning of the spirit. Get learning of the mind. Get learning of the soul, and become a rounded man or a rounded woman, learned in all ways, for I testify to you this day that security, true security, comes from a knowledge of the divinity of Jesus Christ. This is the beginning of all learning and of all wisdom. This is the greatest knowledge, the greatest learning, the greatest comfort that men can have. If men have this knowledge in their hearts, they can withstand all the viscissitudes of life." (In Conference Report, Apr. 1961, p. 129.)

Proverbs 4:18. What is the path of the just?

Proverbs 4:18-19. Light for Darkness President Brigham Young once commented on these verses:

"The life of a Christian is said to be full of pain, tribulation, sorrow, and excruciating torments; of fightings without and fears within, of anxieties, despair, gloominess, and mourning. His path is supposed to be spread with gins [snares], pitfalls, and uncertainties, but this is a mistake, for 'the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day, while 'the wicked is snared by the transgression of his lips, but the just shall come out of trouble.'

"The faith I have embraced has given me light for darkness, ease for pain, joy and gladness for sorrow and mourning, certainty for uncertainty, hope for despair." (In Journal of Discourses, 9:318; see also Proverbs 4:18; 12:13.)

Proverbs 4:19. What is the way of the wicked?

Proverbs 5:21. Whose ways are before the Lord?

Proverbs 5:22. How will the wicked be bound?

Proverbs 6:16-19. What seven things does the Lord hate? President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., quoted these verses and commented: "I read these to show you that the Lord has not left us in doubt nor in darkness as to the things, some of them, that we should not do. We add these to the Ten Commandments." (In Conference Report, Apr. 1952, pp. 97-98.)

Proverbs 6:16 mentions six things and then a seventh that the Lord hates. This "Recalling of what has been said, in order to correct it as by an Afterthought" is a literary device often used by Hebrew writers to add beauty and power to expressions and to convey the idea of completeness (E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech Used in the Bible, pp. 909-10). Other examples of this literary device are found in Proverbs 30:15, 18.

Proverbs 6:18. "An Heart That Deviseth Wicked Imaginations" Elder Bruce R. McConkie commented on this verse:

"If we think evil thoughts, our tongues will utter unclean sayings ... If our minds are centered on the carnality and evil of the world, then worldliness and unrighteousness will seem to us to be the normal way of life. If we ponder things related to sex immorality in our minds, we will soon think everybody is immoral and unclean and it will break down the barrier between us and the world. And so with every other unwholesome, unclean, impure, and ungodly course." (In Conference Report, Oct. 1973, p. 56; or Ensign, Jan. 1974, p. 48.)

Proverbs 6:32-33. What happens to a person who commits adultery?

Proverbs 7:2. "Apple of Thine Eye" This phrase is one of many commonly used expressions that come from the Old Testament. The phrase is also found in Deuteronomy 32:10, Psalm 17:8, and Lamentations 2:18. The word apple, however, refers not to the fruit but to the pupil of the eye (see William Wilson, Old Testament Word Studies, s.v. "apple"). The idiom suggests that just as the eye is a sensitive organ requiring care and protection, so is the law precious and worthy of protection.

Proverbs 7:24-27. How does a whorish woman lead a man?

Proverbs 7:27. What is the way to hell?

Proverbs 8. Wisdom Personified Wisdom is enthroned and contrasted with the seductive, evil, and death-giving woman of Proverbs 7 (see vv. 10-23). In dignity and in the light of day, Wisdom beseeches all to come and partake of her lifegiving rewards.

Proverbs 8:11. What is to be greatly desired?

Proverbs 8:17. A Key to Spiritual Power This verse expounds one of the simplest and yet most profound truths one can learn in life. Too often God's children wait until times of distress to seek Him, and thus they may deprive themselves of the power and solace they need (compare Helaman 12:1-5; D&C 101:7-8).

Proverbs 8:22-31. What did the Lord and the sons of men possess in the premortal existence?

Proverbs 9:6-8. What happens when we reprove a scorner?

Proverbs 9:8. What happens when we rebuke a wise man?

Proverbs 9:9. What will a wise man do when he is instructed?

Proverbs 9:13-18. Where do the guests of a foolish woman go?

Proverbs 10:1. What does a wise son do for his father?

Proverbs 10:13. Where is wisdom found?

Proverbs 10:14. What do wise men do?

Proverbs 10:18. "He That Uttereth a Slander, Is a Fool" "Slander is of the devil; the very word devil itself comes from the Greek diabolos which means a slanderer. It is natural, therefore, that slanderous reports against the Church have their origin, most generally, among those who are living carnal and sensual lives, whose conduct is such as to cause them to be guided and dominated by Lucifer." (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 738.)

Proverbs 11:12. Who despises his neighbor?

Proverbs 11:14. Where is safety?

Proverbs 11:16. What does a gracious woman retain?

Proverbs 11:22. What is like a fair woman without discretion?

Proverbs 11:22. Nose Jewels

Nose jewels were a common adornment for the women of Israel and surrounding cultures, but a jewel in a swine's snout was unthinkable because swine were held in such contempt among the Israelites. This proverb thus dismisses the value of physical beauty when it is not accompanied with self-control and righteousness.

Proverbs 11:29. Who shall inherit the wind?

Proverbs 12:1. Who loves knowledge?

Proverbs 12:4. Who is a crown to a man?

Proverbs 12:10. Who regards the life of his beast?

Proverbs 12:15. In whose eyes is the way of the fool right?

Proverbs 12:22. What are an abomination to the Lord?

Proverbs 13:1. What does a wise son do?

Proverbs 13:10. How does contention come?

Proverbs 13:10. "By Pride Cometh Contention"

Elder Marvin J. Ashton cautioned:

"When one considers the bad feeling and the unpleasantness caused by contention, it is well to ask, 'Why do I participate?' If we are really honest with ourselves, our answers may be something like: 'When I argue and am disagreeable, I do not have to change myself. It gives me a chance to get even.' 'I am unhappy and I want others to be miserable too.' 'I can feel self-righteous. In this way I get my ego built up.' 'I don't want others to forget how much I know!'

"Whatever the real reason, it is important to recognize that we choose our behavior. At the root of this issue is the age-old problem of pride. 'Only by pride cometh contention.' (Prov. 13:10.)

"If Satan can succeed in creating in us habits of arguing, quarreling, and contention, it is easier then for him to bind us with the heavier sins which can destroy our eternal lives. A contentious spirit can affect almost any phase of our lives. An angry letter written in haste can haunt us -- sometimes for years. A few ill-advised words spoken in hate can destroy a marriage or a personal friendship, or impede community progress." (In Conference Report, Apr. 1978, pp. 11-12; or Ensign, May 1978, p. 9.)

Proverbs 13:18. What will happen to those who refuse instruction?

Proverbs 13:20. Why should we walk with wise men?

Proverbs 13:20. The Value of Association

Here again a profound truth is caught in simple language. The people one chooses to associate with in life can have a profound effect on what one turns out to be.

Proverbs 13:24. What does a man do who loves his son?

Proverbs 13:24. Spare the Rod

Brigham Young lived in an era when parents, especially fathers, were often severe and punished their children frequently. His advice is remarkably modern, but it does not advocate the permissive philosophy by which so many parents today rear their offspring: "Instead of using the rod, I will teach my children by example and by precept. I will teach them every opportunity I have to cherish faith, to exercise patience, to be full of long-suffering and kindness. It is not by the whip or the rod that we can make obedient children; but it is by faith and by prayer, and by setting a good example before them." (In Journal of Discourses, 11:117.)

In an age when child abuse is becoming all too common, the admonition of Brigham Young's counselor, George A. Smith, still rings true: "My opinion is that the use of the rod is very frequently the result of a want of understanding on the part of a spoiled parent ... though of course the use of the rod in some cases might be necessary; but I have seen children abused when they ought not to have been, because King Solomon is believed to have made that remark, which, if he did, in nine cases out of ten referred to mental rather than physical correction." (In Journal of Discourses, 14:374.)

In Doctrine and Covenants 121:41-43 the Lord makes it clear how He expects His Saints to accomplish their disciplining, not only in the Church, as this passage is often interpreted, but also in their homes.

Proverbs 14:5. What will a faithful witness refuse to do?

Proverbs 14:15. Who believes every word?

Proverbs 14:15. What does a prudent man do?

Proverbs 14:21. Who is happy?

Proverbs 14:23. How is money to be acquired?

Proverbs 14:23. When All Is Said and Done

Penury means severe poverty. The idea of this verse is that an idle tongue brings no profit either to the individual or to others. Many have talked about their schemes for getting rich, and yet they have remained poor because only their tongues were active.

Proverbs 14:34. What exalts a nation? (See Proverbs 14:34a)

Proverbs 14:35. Whom does the king favor?

Proverbs 15:1. What turns away wrath?

Proverbs 15:1. What stirs up anger?

Proverbs 15:1. Soft Answers in the Home

President Brigham Young spoke of maintaining selfcontrol in one's speech and actions: "In all our daily pursuits in life, of whatever nature and kind, Latter-day Saints, and especially those who hold important positions in the kingdom of God, should maintain a uniform and even temper, both when at home and when abroad. They should not suffer reverses and unpleasant circumstances to sour their natures and render them fretful and unsocial at home, speaking words full of bitterness and biting acrimony to their wives and children, creating gloom and sorrow in their habitations, making themselves feared rather than beloved by their families. Anger should never be permitted to rise in our bosoms, and words suggested by angry feelings should never be permitted to pass our lips. 'A soft answer turneth away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger.' 'Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous;' but 'the discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression.'" (In Journal of Discourses, 11:136; see also Proverbs 19:11; 27:4.)

Elder Marvin J. Ashton gave additional counsel about controlling one's tongue:

"Too often we use communication periods as occasions to tell, dictate, plead, or threaten. Nowhere in the broadest sense should communication in the family be used to impose, command, or embarrass.

"... In family discussions, differences should not be ignored, but should be weighed and evaluated calmly. One's point or opinion usually is not as important as a healthy, continuing relationship. Courtesy and respect in listening and responding during discussions are basic in proper dialogue ... How important it is to know how to disagree with another's point of view without being disagreeable. How important it is to have discussion periods ahead of decisions. Jones Stephens wrote, 'I have learned that the head does not hear anything until the heart has listened, and that what the heart knows today the head will understand tomorrow.'" (In Conference Report, Apr. 1976, p. 79; or Ensign, May 1976, p. 52.)

Proverbs 15:12. To whom will a scorner not go?

Proverbs 15:22. What is established in the multitude of counselors?

Proverbs 15:26. What are the "thoughts of the wicked" to the Lord? (Proverbs 15:26)

Proverbs 15:31-32. "Reproof Getteth Understanding"

Neal A. Maxwell, then Commissioner of Church Education, commented:

"Our life style must make allowance for that need to deal with reality in our own lives. In Proverbs we read: [Proverbs 15:3132].

"The disciple of Christ needs to expect the 'reproof of life' -- and suffering -- for suffering is that sweat that comes from working out our salvation. Suffering is on the agenda for each of us." (Freedom: a "Hard Doctrine," Brigham Young University Speeches of the Year, 12 Apr. 1972, p. 4.)

Proverbs 15:33. What is before honor?

Proverbs 16:5. Who are an abomination to the Lord?

Proverbs 16:8. Wealth and Righteousness

Volumes have been written about the dangers and temptations of wealth, but this simple statement summarizes the whole issue of wealth and righteousness.

Proverbs 16:16. What is better to get than gold and silver?

Proverbs 16:18. What "goeth before destruction"? (Proverbs 16:18)

Proverbs 16:20. Who shall find good?

Proverbs 16:29-30. What does a violent man do?

Proverbs 16:31a. What is a hoary head? (See v. 31a)

Proverbs 16:31. What Is a "Hoary Head"?

Hoary means "white"; thus, this phrase could be translated as "the gray hair of old age" (Proverbs 16:31a).

Proverbs 16:32. Who is better than the mighty and "he that taketh a city"? (v. 32)

Proverbs 16:32. Becoming Master of Oneself

President David O. McKay often spoke to the youth of the Church about self-control and self-mastery: "So the whole lesson is one of subduing, not just physical matter, that you might realize the ideal, but subduing your own passions and appetites, and conquering them. Some of you say we hear too much about keeping the Word of Wisdom. Why, it is one of the best lessons for the young in all this world, and for the old! You reach out to indulge in certain things. Resist, avoid creating an appetite for that which creates an appetite for itself. But beyond that, you develop the power to say, 'No, thank you.' And the strength that comes to the character more than compensates for any immediate pleasure ...

"I commend to you, young man and young woman, the virtue of self-mastery, if you would fulfill the true measure of your life in subduing, in order to realize the ideal, the spiritual development of your soul." (In Deseret News, 6 Sept. 1952, p. 15.)

Proverbs 17:6. Who are the crown of old men?

Proverbs 17:6. Who are the glory of children?

Proverbs 17:9. Promoting Loving Relationships

The expression "covereth a transgression" in this context does not mean that one hides or rationalizes a sin but rather means "forgives a transgression." "Seeketh love" is better understood as "promotes a loving relationship." (Proverbs 17:9a, b.)

Proverbs 17:13. When will evil not depart from a person's house?

Proverbs 17:15. Who are an abomination to the Lord?

Proverbs 17:22. Is There a Place for a Wholesome Sense of Humor?

President Hugh B. Brown said: "We have often urged our young people to carry their laughter over into their mature years. A wholesome sense of humor will be a safety valve that will enable you to apply the lighter touch to heavy problems and to learn some lessons in problem solving that 'sweat and tears' often fail to dissolve. [See Proverbs 17:22.]" (In Conference Report, Apr. 1968, p. 100.)

Proverbs 17:27. Who "spareth his words"? (Proverbs 17:27)

Proverbs 17:28. When is a fool counted wise?

Proverbs 18:9. Who is the brother of the lazy? (See also Proverbs 18:9a, b)

Proverbs 18:13. Why should we listen carefully to a matter before answering?

Proverbs 18:19. What is harder to be won than a strong city?

Proverbs 18:22. Who "hath obtained favor of the Lord"? (v. 22a)

Proverbs 18:22. Find a Good Wife

Joseph Smith Translation, Proverbs 18:22, reads, "Whoso findeth a good wife hath obtained favor of the Lord" (emphasis added).

Proverbs 18:24. What must we do to have friends?

Proverbs 19:1-2. When is it better to be poor?

Proverbs 19:14. Where is a prudent wife from?

Proverbs 19:17. Who will repay the man who lends to the poor?

Proverbs 19:20. Why should we hear counsel and receive instruction?

Proverbs 20:1. Who is not wise?

Proverbs 20:7. What Does It Mean to Walk in Integrity?

Elder Bruce R. McConkie pointed out that "the complete development of man's moral character in conformity with principles of justice and uprightness is termed integrity. A man of integrity is sound, incorruptible, and particularly strict about fulfilling the trusts reposed in him by others. The highest manifestation of integrity is exhibited by those who conform their conduct to the terms of those gospel covenants and promises which they have made. Integrity goes hand in hand with uprightness and righteousness, and the Lord loves those who have integrity of heart. (D&C 124:15, 20.) 'The integrity of the upright shall guide them' (Prov. 11:3), and 'The just man walketh in his integrity: his children are blessed after him.' (Prov. 20:7.)" (Mormon Doctrine, p. 385.)

Proverbs 20:29. Where is the glory of young men?

Proverbs 21:3. What is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice?

Proverbs 21:3. Isn't Sacrifice Acceptable to the Lord?

Sacrifice as used here refers to the Mosaic ordinance of sacrifice. Ancient Israel often would outwardly go through the acts of offering sacrifice without inwardly truly turning to God. Thus, the Lord often reminded them that inner righteousness is more pleasing to Him than outward conformity to ritual (compare 1 Samuel 15:22; Isaiah 1:11-15; Amos 5:21-26).

Proverbs 21:4. Cultivating Wickedness

Two phrases in this verse need clarification: "An high look" means "haughty eyes," and the "plowing of the wicked" means the "cultivating of wickedness" (Proverbs 21:4a, c).

Proverbs 21:10. What does the soul of the wicked desire?

Proverbs 21:13. What will happen to him who "stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor"? (Proverbs 21:13)

Proverbs 21:13. Practical Application of One's Religion

The relationship between service to others and our own spiritual power is taught here and many other places in scripture (see Mosiah 2:17; Alma 34:28; Isaiah 1:16-20; James 1:27).

Of the obligation to serve others Elder Hugh B. Brown said:

"For years we have been teaching our theology, and successfully teaching it to the world. We must now make practical application of our religion; must again refer to and apply in our daily lives the words of the Master as recorded in holy writ. May I read some of them:

"'Love one another.'

"'By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples.' ...

"'Remember the poor, and consecrate of thy properties for their support, that which thou hast to impart unto them, with a covenant and a deed which cannot be broken.'

"'Inasmuch as ye impart of your substance unto the poor, ye will do it unto me.'

"'Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard.'

"It seems to me that the application of the principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the most important task before us today. As I listened to Elder McKay this afternoon, telling us of the millions of young people outside the churches whose hearts are not being touched by religious instruction, I thought, this Church must furnish leadership for the world, must show the way out of this serious economic situation by calling attention to the message of Jesus and by applying the principles taught by him." (In Conference Report, Oct. 1932, pp. 74-75.)

Proverbs 21:17. Who will be poor?

Proverbs 21:20. What does a foolish man do with his treasure and oil?

Proverbs 21:30. Why Is There No "Counsel against the Lord"?

No acceptable wisdom, understanding, or counsel will turn a person away from God. So often the world seeks to offer counsel and advice that runs counter to God's will, but such advice must always be rejected, for it cannot stand in the eternities.

Proverbs 21:31. Were is victory in the day of battle? (See also v. 31b)

Proverbs 21:31. "Safety Is of the Lord"

Anciently the horse was used only in warfare and battle; it therefore became a symbol of war and conquest (see Samuel Fallows, ed., The Popular and Critical Bible Encyclopedia and Scriptural Dictionary, s.v. "horse"). This proverb means that people tend to multiply horses, or seek to defend themselves against their enemies by preparing for war, when their ultimate safety lies in trust and faith in God. This lessons seems to be forgotten, for modern societies increase their weaponry and give no thought to the role God plays in their defense.

Proverbs 22:1. What is better than great riches and silver and gold?

Proverbs 22:6. What will a child not do if he is trained in the way he should go?

Proverbs 22:6. What Is the Best Way to Train Children?

Bishop Victor L. Brown suggested that Proverbs 22:6 implies that parents must live the way they want their children to live:

"Josh Billings paraphrases this truth: 'To bring up a child in the way he should go, travel that way yourself.' ...

"Throughout the Church I hear ... 'If we did not have problems with parents, we would not have them with the young people.'" (In Conference Report, Apr. 1970, p. 31.)

James G. Duffin, a former president of the Central States Mission, said: "There is a difference between teaching and training. Teaching is causing the child to act performed is that much done towards fixing habits; repeated many times, the habit is established. If we train our children in the ways of the Lord, ... every time they perform an act of obedience to the word and will of our Father in heaven their character becomes more firmly fixed in doing the things that God requires of them." (In Conference Report, Apr. 1909, p. 25.)

Elder Gordon B. Hinckley, who was then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said: "It is so obvious that the great good and the terrible evil in the world today are the sweet and the bitter fruits of the rearing of yesterday's children. As we train a new generation, so will the world be in a few years. If you are worried about the future, then look to the upbringing of your children. Wisely did the writer of Proverbs declare, [Proverbs 22:6]." (In Conference Report, Oct. 1978, p. 25; or Ensign, Nov. 1978, p. 18.)

Proverbs 22:15. What will drive foolishness far from a child? (See also Proverbs 23:13-14)

Proverbs 22:16, 22-23. What will happen to those who oppress the poor?

Proverbs 22:28. What Are Landmarks?

Landmarks were not merely places of interest or distinctive geographical features to the people of the Middle East. In a world that did not have fenced property, landmarks were property markers. Even today in the Middle East one can see piles of rocks designating the division between one man's land and another's. To move such landmarks was a very serious thing indeed, since it was the equivalent of stealing another's property.

See also Proverbs 23:10.

Proverbs 23:7. One's Actions Follow One's Thoughts

President Marion G. Romney emphasized this proverb in his sesquicentennial conference address:

"The great overall struggle in the world today is, as it has always been, for the souls of men. Every soul is personally engaged in the struggle, and he makes his fight with what is in his mind. In the final analysis the battleground is, for each individual, within himself. Inevitably he gravitates toward the subjects of his thoughts. Ages ago the wise man thus succinctly stated this great truth: 'As he thinketh in his heart, so is he' (Prov. 23:7).

"If we would escape the lusts of the flesh and build for ourselves and our children great and noble characters, we must keep in our minds and in their minds true and righteous principles for our thoughts and their thoughts to dwell upon.

"We must not permit our minds to become surfeited with the interests, things, and practices of the world about us. To do so is tantamount to adopting and going along with them ...

"If we would avoid adopting the evils of the world, we must pursue a course which will daily feed our minds with and call them back to the things of the Spirit." (In Conference Report, Apr. 1980, p. 88; or Ensign, May 1980, p. 66.)

Proverbs 23:6-7. Whose bread are we not to eat? Why?

Proverbs 23:9. Why should we not speak to the ears of the fool?

Proverbs 23:16. Why Is the Term Reins Used?

"In the ancient system of physiology the kidneys [reins] were believed to be the seat of desire and longing, which accounts for their often being coupled with the heart" (William Smith, A Dictionary of the Bible, s.v. "reins").

The word reins is used frequently in Psalms and in the famous passage in Job 19:27.

Proverbs 23:17. Whom should our hearts not envy?

Proverbs 23:20-21. Whom are we to "be not among"? (Proverbs 23:20) Why?

Proverbs 23:22. How are we to treat our parents?

Proverbs 24:6. Where is safety?

Proverbs 24:8. Who is called a mischievous person?

Proverbs 24:10. There Is Value "in the Day of Adversity"

Elder ElRay L. Christiansen commented on this verse:

"Because it is necessary for our development, the Lord permits the bitter to be mixed with the sweet. He knows that our individual faith must be tested in adversity as well as in serenity. Otherwise, that faith may not be sufficiently developed when a condition arises that can be met through faith alone.

"... Even in times of trouble and tribulation, the gospel of Christ offers encouragement and gives assurance." (In Conference Report, Apr. 1969, p. 39.)

Proverbs 24:19-20. Why should we not fret because of evil men?

Proverbs 25:6-7. Why should we not stand in the place of great men?

Proverbs 25:19. What is confidence in an unfaithful man like in time of trouble?

Proverbs 25:21-22. What should we do when our enemy is hungry and thirsty?

Proverbs 25:21-22. Heaping Coals of Fire on Another's Head

Initially these verses sound as though a person is instructed to do the right thing for the wrong reason, that is, to forgive so that one's enemy will receive a worse torment. Other scriptures, however, suggest a different interpretation: bringing someone to repentance and godly sorrow through sharpening conscience. (See Romans 12:19-20.)

"The burning of coals laid on the head must be a painful but wholesome consequence; it is a figure of self-accusing repentance ..., [which is produced through] the showing of good to an enemy ... That God rewards such magnanimity may not be the special motive; but this view might contribute to it, for otherwise such promises of God [as Isaiah 58:8-12] were without moral right. The proverb also requires one to show himself gentle and liberal toward a needy enemy, and present a twofold reason for this: first, that thereby his injustice is brought home to his conscience; and, secondly, that thus God is well-pleased in such practical love toward an enemy, and will reward it; -- by such conduct, apart from the performance of a law grounded in our moral nature, one advances the happiness of his neighbour and his own." (C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, 6:2:168.)

Proverbs 25:28. What is like a man who does not discipline himself?

Proverbs 26:4. Why should we not answer a fool "according to his folly"? (Proverbs 26:4)

Proverbs 26:20. What causes strife? (See also v. 20a)

Proverbs 26:27. What will happen to him who "diggeth a pit" or "rolleth a stone"? (v. 27)

Proverbs 27:12. What does a prudent man do about evil?

Proverbs 27:20a. What is never full? (See Proverbs 27:20a)

Proverbs 28:1. When do the wicked flee?

Proverbs 28:5. Who does not understand judgment?

Proverbs 28:13. Who will receive mercy?

Proverbs 28:26. Who shall be delivered?

Proverbs 28:27. Who will not lack?

Proverbs 29:2. What do the people do when the righteous are in authority?

Proverbs 29:2. What do the people do when the wicked rule?

Proverbs 29:7. Who considers the cause of the poor?

Proverbs 29:18. When do the people perish? (See also Proverbs 29:18a, b)

Proverbs 29:23. What will pride do to a man?

Proverbs 30:1. What is Proverbs 30?

Proverbs 30:7-8. What two things did Agur require of the Lord before he died?

Proverbs 30:18-19. What four things are "too wonderful"? (v. 18)

Proverbs 31:1. What is Proverbs 31?

Proverbs 31:3-5. What two things was Lemuel not to do?

Proverbs 31:9. Whose cause was Lemuel to plead?

Proverbs 31:10. Whose price is far above rubies?

Proverbs 31:30. Which woman will be praised?


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