PURPOSE AND TEACHING of the book of Proverbs:
According to the prologue (1:1–7), Proverbs was written to give “prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the young” (1:4), and to make the wise even wiser (1:5). The frequent references to “my son(s)” (1:8,10; 2:1; 3:1; 4:1; 5:1) emphasize instructing the young and guiding them in a way of life that yields rewarding ends. Acquiring wisdom and knowing how to avoid the pitfalls of folly lead to personal well-being, happy family relationships, fruitful labors and good standing in the community (see outline, p. 1279). Although Proverbs is a practical book dealing with the art of living, it bases its practical wisdom solidly on the fear of the Lord (1:7; see Ps 34:8–14 and note). Throughout the book reverence for God and reliance on him are set forth as the path to life, prosperity and security (cf. 3:5–10; 9:10–12; 14:26–27; 16:3,6–7; 18:10; 19:23; 20:22; 22:4; 28:25; 29:25). Such godly wisdom is a virtual “tree of life” (3:18; 11:30; 13:12; 15:4) that yields the happy life that God fashioned the creation to produce.
In the initial cycle of instruction (1:8—9:18) the writer urges the young man to choose the way of wisdom (that leads to life) and shun the ways of folly (that, however tempting they may be, lead to death). The author chooses two prime exemplifications of folly to give concreteness to his exhortations: (1) to get ahead in the world by exploiting (even oppressing) others rather than by diligent and honest labor, and (2) to find sexual pleasure outside the bonds and responsibilities of marriage. Temptation to the one comes from the young man’s male peers (1:10-19); temptation to the other comes from the adulterous woman (ch. 5; 6:20– 35; ch. 7). Together, these two temptations illustrate the pervasiveness and power of the allurements to folly that the young man will face in life and must be prepared to resist (see also Literary Structure below).
The major collections of proverbs that follow range widely across the broad spectrum of human situations, relationships and responsibilities offering insights, warnings, instructions and counsels along with frequent motivations to heed them. The range and variety of these defy summation. However, an illustrative section can convey the general character, moral tone and scope of the collections. In a variety of situations and relationships the reader is exhorted to honesty, integrity, diligence, kindness, generosity, readiness to forgive, truthfulness, patience, humility, cheerfulness, loyalty, temperance, self-control and the prudent consideration of consequences that flow from attitudes, choices and/or actions. Anger should be held in check, violence and quarrelsomeness shunned, gossip avoided, arrogance repudiated. Drunkenness, gluttony, envy and greed should all be renounced. The poor are not to be exploited, the courts are not to be unjustly manipulated, legitimate authorities are to be honored. Parents should care for the proper instruction and discipline of their children, and children should duly honor their parents and bring no disgrace on them. Human observation and experience have taught the wise that a certain order is in place in God’s creation. To honor it leads to known positive effects; to defy it leads only to unhappy consequences. All of life should be lived in conscious awareness of the unfailing scrutiny of the Lord of creation and in reliance on his generous providence.
Although Proverbs is more practical than theological, God’s work as Creator is especially highlighted. The role of wisdom in creation is the subject of 8:22–31 (see notes there), where wisdom as an attribute of God is personified. God is called the Maker of the poor (14:31; 17:5; 22:2). He sovereignly directs the steps of people (cf. 16:9; 20:24)—even the actions of kings (21:1)—and his eyes observe all that humans do (cf. 5:21; 15:3). All history moves forward under his control (see 16:4,33 and notes).
In summary, Proverbs provides instruction on how to live wisely and successfully in the “fear of the Lord” (1:7; 9:10) within the theocratic arrangement. The fear of the Lord includes reverence for, trust in and commitment to the Lord and his will as disclosed in his creation and as revealed in his word. Wisdom in this context, then, is basically following the benevolent King’s design for human happiness within the creation order—resulting in quality of mind (1:2) and quality of life (1:3). https://www.biblica.com/resources/scholar-notes/niv-study-bible/intro-to-proverbs/