Proverbs 1:1-33 - Outline of Proverbs (Book Notes menu page)
Words to a Son - The Need to Acquire Wisdom
Hebrew parallelism -
You may have noticed that in each of the proverbs that we just read, a thought is expressed in the first line, and then expressed again in the second line, but with different words. (Example: "A wise son maketh a glad father... but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother.") This literary style is referred to as "parallelism." Here is a brief description of this form of literature (written by Dr.A.C.Gaebelein, as recorded in J.V.McGee's notes on the book of Proverbs):
The literary form of these Proverbs is mostly in the form of couplets. The two clauses of the couplet are generally related to each other by what has been termed parallelism, according to Hebrew poetry. [Hebrew poetry does not have rhyme or meter as in English poetry. Hebrew poetry consists of parallelism of ideas {where an idea is held up for examination, and then turned around to view the same idea from another angle}.] Three types of parallelism have been pointed out:
  1. Synonymous Parallelism. Here the second clause restates what is given in the first clause. [It expresses the same thought in a different way.] "Judgments are prepared for scorners, and stripes for the back of fools" (Pro 19:29).
  2. Antithetic (Contrast) Parallelism. Here a truth, which is stated in the first clause, is made stronger in the second clause by contrast with an opposite truth. "The light of the righteous rejoiceth, but the lamp of the wicked shall be put out" (Pro 13:9). [You can see that the second statement is stating the same truth, but from the opposite point of view, by way of contrast.]
  3. Synthetic Parallelism. The second clause develops the thought of the first. "The terror of a king is as a roaring lion; He that provoketh him to anger sinneth against his own life" (Pro 20:2).
The proverbs, which we have just read, are very short and concise. The entire thought is contained in one verse. However, there are passages in Proverbs where a lesson is taught by joining many couplets together to form a narrative section. Two such narratives make up the remainder of ch. 1. Here is the first of these...
1:8-19 - Words to a son, from his parents.
Observe the parallelism:
1:20-33 - The voice of Wisdom makes an appeal to the simple.
Here is the second narrative section, formed with parallel couplets.

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