Zion Church

What are some general, time-tested principles that will help rightly interpret Proverbs?

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One of the most common characteristics of Proverbs is the use of parallelism—placing truths side by side so that the second statement expands, completes, defines, and emphasizes the first. Sometimes a logical conclusion is reached; at other times, a logical contrast is demonstrated.

The following tools will assist a student in gaining greater confidence as he or she interprets these Proverbs: 1) determine what facts, principles, or circumstances make up the parallel ideas in that proverb—what two central concepts or persons are being compared or contrasted; 2) identify the figures of speech and rephrase the thought without those figures—for example, restate the idea behind “put a knife to your throat”(23:1–3); 3) summarize the lesson or principle of the proverb in a few words; 4) describe the behavior that is being taught or encouraged; and 5) think of examples from elsewhere in Scripture that illustrate the truth of that proverb.

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