Division II: Proverbs 10-12

Proverbs 10‑22  •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 8
(Chapters 10:1—22:16)
Solomon’s Wise Maxims
There is now a change in the style of the proverbs. Chapters 1-9 were instructive speeches, whereas here, in chapters 10:1–22:16, we have wise maxims. The wisdom in chapters 1–9 was given mostly in a series of verses dealing with one subject or lesson, but now it is in short one-verse maxims.
Notice, this section begins with the phrase, “The Proverbs of Solomon” (Prov. 10:11The proverbs of Solomon. A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother. (Proverbs 10:1)). This is not a proverb, but a title to this new section that we are now entering. This section will extend to chapter 22:16, having 375 verses in total. It is interesting that the numerical value of this title (assigning a number for each letter of the Hebrew alphabet) is exactly 375! This division of the book has two parts: the first is chapters 10–15, and the second is chapters 16–22:16.
Contrasting Parallelisms
(Chapters 10—15)
In this section Solomon teaches us wisdom by contrasts. Each one-verse maxim has two contrasting parts (with a couple of exceptions), often separated by the word “but.” The second part of the couplet restates the truth in a negative sense—i.e. a wise man does this, but a fool does that. They are called Contrasting Parallelisms. Much practical truth can be learned from comparing truth with error.
This part of Division II (chapters 10-15) has 184 verses contrasting righteous and wicked lifestyles. It outlines the basic cause-and-effect of human behaviour, and its inevitable outcome. The main subjects are:
Wise & foolish
Righteousness & wickedness
Rich & poor
Obedience & disobedience
Honesty & dishonesty
Pride & humility
Peace & strife
Love & hatred
Truth & deception
Godliness & ungodliness
Industry & laziness
Success & failure
Three Kinds of Fools in Proverbs
The most frequent comparison in Proverbs is that between wisdom and foolishness (approx. 75 verses). The fool in Proverbs is not so much a person who lacks mental powers as it is one who misuses them. It is not that he doesn’t reason, but that he reasons wrongly. A general observation on this topic is that “foolishness” (in the KJV Trans.) seems to be the absurd ideas and reasoning of a fool; whereas “folly” appears to be his absurd acts.
There are three kinds of fools in Proverbs, indicated in the use of three different Hebrew words.
Kes-eel—He is self-confident (Prov. 14:16; 26:5; 26:12; 28:26; 29:2016A wise man feareth, and departeth from evil: but the fool rageth, and is confident. (Proverbs 14:16)
5Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit. (Proverbs 26:5)
12Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him. (Proverbs 26:12)
26He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered. (Proverbs 28:26)
20Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? there is more hope of a fool than of him. (Proverbs 29:20)
). He flippantly disregards the counsel of others, especially his parents (Prov. 1:22; 1:3222How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge? (Proverbs 1:22)
32For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them. (Proverbs 1:32)
(“prosperity” is complacency); 8:5; 10:1; 15:20; 17:16; 17:21; 17:25; 18:2; 19:13; 23:9). Being self-confident, he’s full of his own thoughts and opinions (Prov. 12:23; 14:7; 15:2; 15:7; 18:2; 18:7; 26:7; 26:9; 26:11; 26:2023A prudent man concealeth knowledge: but the heart of fools proclaimeth foolishness. (Proverbs 12:23)
7Go from the presence of a foolish man, when thou perceivest not in him the lips of knowledge. (Proverbs 14:7)
2The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright: but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness. (Proverbs 15:2)
7The lips of the wise disperse knowledge: but the heart of the foolish doeth not so. (Proverbs 15:7)
2A fool hath no delight in understanding, but that his heart may discover itself. (Proverbs 18:2)
7A fool's mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul. (Proverbs 18:7)
7The legs of the lame are not equal: so is a parable in the mouth of fools. (Proverbs 26:7)
9As a thorn goeth up into the hand of a drunkard, so is a parable in the mouth of fools. (Proverbs 26:9)
11As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly. (Proverbs 26:11)
20Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth. (Proverbs 26:20)
). This, perhaps, is a description of a young fool.
Ev-eel (a word used less frequently)—He refuses advice because he is hardened, set in his ways and can’t be corrected (Prov. 1:7; 7:22; 10:21; 12:15; 14:9; 15:5; 27:227The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:7)
22He goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks; (Proverbs 7:22)
21The lips of the righteous feed many: but fools die for want of wisdom. (Proverbs 10:21)
15The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise. (Proverbs 12:15)
9Fools make a mock at sin: but among the righteous there is favor. (Proverbs 14:9)
5A fool despiseth his father's instruction: but he that regardeth reproof is prudent. (Proverbs 15:5)
22Though thou shouldest bray a fool in a mortar among wheat with a pestle, yet will not his foolishness depart from him. (Proverbs 27:22)
). He’s angry and loves a fight (Prov. 12:16; 20:3; 27:3; 29:916A fool's wrath is presently known: but a prudent man covereth shame. (Proverbs 12:16)
3It is an honor for a man to cease from strife: but every fool will be meddling. (Proverbs 20:3)
3A stone is heavy, and the sand weighty; but a fool's wrath is heavier than them both. (Proverbs 27:3)
9If a wise man contendeth with a foolish man, whether he rage or laugh, there is no rest. (Proverbs 29:9)
). He also propounds his opinions (Prov. 10:8; 17:288The wise in heart will receive commandments: but a prating fool shall fall. (Proverbs 10:8)
28Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding. (Proverbs 17:28)
). This, perhaps, is descriptive of an old fool, because it takes time to get hardened in one’s ways.
Nabal (a word used only three times)—is a vile and corrupt person. J. N. Darby translates it “vile.”
The subjects in these chapters are grouped loosely. The general themes are:
Chaps. 10-11 – Rewards for conduct.
Chap. 12 – Honesty & kindness.
Chap. 13 – The dangers of anger & violence.
Chap. 14 – The wise and the foolish.
Chap. 15 – Ordering our speech aright.
Complementing Parallelisms
(Chapters 16—22:16)
When we come to chapter 16 there is a subtle change in Solomon’s one-verse maxims. In chapters 10–15 the maxims were contrasting parallelisms, but they cease now, and a different kind of maxim begins. Instead of the second part of the verse contrasting the first part, it complements the first part. It restates the truth of the first part, expressing the same thought in a different way, reinforcing its meaning, or completing the thought. These are called Complementing Parallelisms. Note that the use of “but” is almost non-existent in this section. This style of maxim continues from chapter 16 through to chapter 22:16, with a couple of exceptions. (The last verse of chapter 15 might begin this group of maxims for it is a complementing parallelism.)
The subjects in these chapters are also loosely grouped together. The general themes are:
Chap. 16 – Man’s plans & God’s sovereignty.
Chap. 17 – Strife & peace.
Chap. 18 – The folly of self-centeredness.
Chap. 19 – The wealthy & the poor.
Chap. 20 – 22:16 – Righteousness & wickedness.