More Proverbs from King Solomon
We can learn from the many wise sayings in the Bible
We consider the book of Proverbs as being a collection of wise sayings from King Solomon. This is mostly correct. However, it also includes proverbs from other people. The book opens with Solomon giving instructions to his son. Then the king adds some more wise sayings. After that we see proverbs from other people, either compiled by Solomon or added by someone else later.
Beginning in chapter 25, we encounter a section where we read more proverbs from King Solomon. However, these additional proverbs were compiled and added to Solomon’s initial writings several centuries later.
This addendum occurs under the guidance of King Hezekiah, a direct descendent of Solomon. If I count correctly, King Hezekiah is the great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandson of King Solomon. Not only does Hezekiah add Solomon’s wisdom to the book of Proverbs, he also honors his wise ancestor by doing so.
As I read through this additional compilation of Solomon’s sage advice, one passage jumps out as more familiar than the others. Solomon gives counterintuitive instructions about how to treat those who oppose us, our enemies. He says if our enemy is hungry, feed them. If they’re thirsty, offer them water. This will benefit them, and we will receive rewards from God when we do so.
This thought-provoking instruction seems unwise. Yet at the same time it seems aligned with what Jesus might’ve said centuries later.
Paul’s Letter to the Church in Rome
If this concept seems a bit familiar, that’s because Paul quotes this proverb in his letter to the church in Rome. Paul cites this passage just after he tells the Romans to not take revenge but to turn the wrongs afflicted on them over to God. Paul wraps up this teaching by saying that we should not be overcome by evil. Instead we should overcome evil by doing what is good (Romans 12:19-21).
Because Paul shares this verse in his letter, he elevates the importance of this proverb. This also serves as a reminder to not overlook the words of the Old Testament, including this section with more proverbs from Solomon. The whole Bible—not just the New Testament—can help us in our walk with Jesus.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical spirituality, often with a postmodern slant. He seeks a fresh approach to faith and following God through the lens of scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.