Thought Provoking Proverbs

Old Testament: 1 Samuel 17 & 18

*Poetry: Proverbs 10

New Testament: Acts 4

Proverbs 10 begins a new section in the Book of Proverbs where the longer wisdom speeches of chapters 1-9 disappear, and the more traditionally recognized two-line couplets of Proverbs become the predominant form.

The couplet form of most proverbs in chapter 10 and onward is based primarily on the Hebrew poetry structure of parallelism, where two (or sometimes more) lines are related to each other in a particular way. The three dominant types of parallelism are: synonymous, antithetic, and synthetic. The simple way to view these parallelisms is that in synonymous parallelism, the lines are usually saying the same/similar idea in just two different ways; in antithetic parallelism, the lines are usually saying opposing ideas of each other (not necessarily just the opposite); and in synthetic parallelism, the lines function together to present the whole idea of the proverb, where any one line by itself is insufficient to understand the point that the proverb is trying to make.

While the proverbs that are collected in chapter 10 and following rarely have any direct connection from one to the next, something important to note is that certain themes or subjects resurface in various places. So to get an understanding of what Proverbs has to say about a specific topic often requires searching and collecting scattered verses throughout the book and then viewing them together to get an overall picture of what sort of wisdom Proverbs contains on it. But that then becomes the trick with Proverbs, figuring out what they are trying to say.

For example, in Proverbs 10:10, “The one winking his eye causes pain, and the one who is foolish with his lips will come to ruin.” It is not readily apparent what “winking” the eye has to do with causing “pain.” Unless the reader understands that there is an implicit context that must be discerned, they might just walk away scratching their head. We have to ask ourselves, “In what situation would this proverb prove true?” Our basic assumption is that the wisdom of Proverbs is true wisdom, therefore, there must be a context in which the wisdom of the proverb proves to be true. The task of us as readers is to decipher what that context might be. And this is the beauty of wisdom literature like Proverbs, it is very thought provoking, requiring a person to carefully deliberate on it for a while.

To answer the question of what does “winking his eye causes pain” mean in Proverbs 10:10, we must first understand that within the biblical culture, “winking” (or “squinting”) of the eyes represents hostile or mischievous behavior. This sort of gesture is associated with wickedness and is indicative of a person’s evil and malicious intent. Thus, to “wink” indicates that the person is conniving and plotting something deceitful which would bring harm to the unsuspecting victim, and they would not see it coming until it was too late.

-Jerry Wierwille

Reflection Questions

  1. Pick two of the verses in Proverbs 10. Which type of parallelism is each an example of?
  2. What can be learned from today’s proverbs? Did any stand out as something you specifically need to work on or need to remember more often?
  3. Are there any that don’t seem to make sense to you at first? If so, take a little time to do some research on the meaning of this proverb.
  4. Why do you think God included these Proverbs in His Holy Scriptures? What do we learn about God in our Bible reading today?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: