PROVERBS & PARABLES
in the New Testament
this will be a continuing study, subject to the will of the Lord, and material will be added as time and opportunity allows..it is we truly believe a vital and significant study for us all
The key to this fascinating and vital subject lies in the Book of Proverbs, but its inception lies in the beginning, at Creation.
In fact, the theme to which it belongs, the seven stages of the purpose of Almighty God to fill this earth with His glory, is also epitomized in the 7-fold divisions of the Old and the New Testaments. These sections are exactly parallel, and are set forth in
These same principles must be seen also in the lives of true disciples, and this is emphasized in the 'Structure' page, and demonstrated in:
Also, whilst waiting for more pages to appear, please consider the suggested sections of Proverbs, which we consider to be very important in our endeavours to comprehend its vital messages..
CHAPTER 1v1-7 – Introduction to the Book
CHAPTER 1v8-3v35 – The 7 Pillars of Wisdom – Doctrine
CHAPTER 4v1-9v18 – The 7 Pillars of Wisdom – Practice
CHAPTER 10v1-31v31 – The Doctrinal, Practical, & Prophetical Enlargement of the Above Sections
Besides the above 4 Sections, we also believe there to be 7 Sub-Sections within each, which we hope to cover during the course of our exposition, if the Lord will. The most important thing we find is the use made of Proverbs by the Lord Jesus Christ and His Apostles in the New Testament. It is a high privilege indeed to be given a Divine commentary!
This in no way depends on the suggested sections of Proverbs set out above. However, their general outline we strongly believe to be correct, and they are useful for orientation.
In particular, and with reference to ch.10v1 onwards, the following assessment of this section is useful:
"By now the reader is in a position to orientate himself in the thicket of individual sayings...and to see in each cool, objective aphorism a miniature and particular outworking of the wisdom and folly whose whole course he has seen spread out before him in Section I" - Kidner, p.23, quoted in 'The New Bible Commentary Revised', page 559.
Of course, like all writers who are unfamiliar with the Truth, it is impossible for him to realise the full import of these things - but with the knowledge of God's will, we can hope to succeed…
Let us make an introductory comment for your consideration:
The Book of Proverbs contains Hebrew poetry which is based upon a PARALLELISM OF IDEAS. There are 3 types:
A. synonymous parallelisms, as in ch.8v1: i.e. the 2nd parallelism restates the first, but by variation.
B. constructive parallelisms, as in ch.3v11,12: i.e. the 2nd parallelism builds upon the first, reinforcing it.
C. antithetic parallelisms, as in ch.10v1: i.e. the 2nd parallelism contrasts starkly with the first.
The next thing is to define a 'proverb' and a 'parable'. A 'proverb' is defined as "a pithy maxim, usually of a metaphorical nature; hence a simile, figurative language, an allegory, or an adage". It comes from a Hebrew root word meaning "to rule". And as the diligent viewer will realise, it is by comprehending these proverbs that we may be enabled to rule over the flesh (which is the message of Proverbs, placed as it is in the 6th section of the Old Testament, refer to 'structure' for more details).
A 'parable' is really an extended proverb, and that is how it appears in the New Testament. It is defined as a "fictitious narrative, conveying a moral (lesson)". We shall see how Jesus Christ and His Apostles use the Old Testament proverbs, and build narratives upon them, with important lessons for us.
We now intend to embark, if it is the Lord's will, upon the detailed exposition of this beautiful and glorious subject. The method of presentation will be unusual, but we think fitting and of great benefit to those viewers who desire to learn of the ways of God as revealed, especially relative to our times. The original studies on this subject were given in a series of 8 parts, over 8 nights, from 1 September 1976 to 15 December 1976. It is proposed to summarise this matter in the sequence in which it was presented - with some additions that are appropriate, and which have been ascertained since from God's Holy Word. We are now on the brink of Christ's return. Might the number 8, pointing forward to perfection, be our focus as we embark upon a glorious study of what is in truth GOD's MESSAGE FOR THESE LATTER DAYS. Link to 'structure' and 'grace' - page 2 for more about 'eight'.
We give thanks to our Heavenly Father for now making the way open for a much wider dissemination of this priceless & vital information to a world-wide audience. May He add His richest blessing in the time left by His grace and mercy.
THESE ARE THE STUDIES
PRESENTED IN 1976
Night 1 - 'An Introduction' -
Read Proverbs 1v1-9.
Night 2 - 'The Simple Ones' -
Read Proverbs 7.
Night 3 - 'Scorners & Fools' -
Read Matthew 25v1-13.
Night 4 - 'The Good Samaritan' -
Read Luke 10v25-37.
Night 5 - 'Wisdom is a Tree of Life' -
Read Proverbs 3v1-18.
Night 6 - 'The Heart is Deceitful and
Desperately Wicked' -
Read Proverbs 16v1-19.
Night 7 - 'Seven things which Yahweh
Read Proverbs 6v1-19.
Night 8 - 'The 7 Divisions in the
Latter Days' -
Read Revelation 3.
NOTE: Night 8 has already been covered in broad outline in
We plan to add references to Proverbs in Night 8.
Firstly, we have a definition of 'proverb' and 'parable' (see above).
Also the basic idea of a proverb or a parable is something which is built upon a short pithy saying. It can become a fable or an allegory-to give us many lessons in this wilderness of life and our pilgrimage in Christ Jesus. In the Old Testament the Hebrew word 'mashal' signifies 'superiority in mental action', properly a pithy maxim usually of a metaphorical nature, hence a simile.
An allegory is a narrative in which abstract ideas are personified. Example-Galatians 4v24 "which things are an allegory" - referring to Hagar representing Jerusalem which now is, and Sarai representing Jerusalem which is above. Hagar thus reveals the Old Covenant of the Law and those who are in bondage. Sarai on the other hand reveals the New Covenant in Christ and those who are free. Link to 'grace' for more.
And so an allegory is a story which has various ideas in it - a description which is meant to convey a different meaning - though based on that which is expressed.
Some will look earnestly for this hidden meaning, having the aspect of a child - i.e. a desire to learn from the parent. This is indispensable in the learning process - see Matthew 18v1-4. Jesus explained why there are different reactions to His parables and indeed why they were given - Matthew 13. Only "the good ground" is able to receive and allow "the word of the kingdom" to grow, and to ultimately bring forth fruit.
Robert Roberts made the following useful comments:
"That it is advantageous to "conceal a thing", while revealing it, is also manifest from experience. A riddle is proverbially more interesting than an aphorism. A parable stimulates discernment. A thing seen after the search provoked by obscurity is seen more clearly, than if exhibited in a plain and direct manner in the first instance..there is always an inkling of the meaning somewhere..a clue by which the secret can be unlocked, which those may find who are humbly anxious to find".
'More Seasons of Comfort' - p.473/4
'Use of Similitudes by God'.
An early example of 'proverb' and 'parable' is found in 2nd Samuel 12v1-14. The "poor man" represented Uriah, the "ewe lamb" represented Bathsheba, the "rich man" was David. When Nathan the prophet told this parable to David, the king could see that what the "rich man" had done was unjust, and deserved punishment. Nathan then said to him - "thou art the man", thus driving home the purpose of this parable - that David should apply the lesson to himself. And this is the purpose of all parables, that we should apply the lessons to ourselves. There is no benefit in reading these things and not learning the lessons which we read. Should we fail to do so, we would be like the hard-hearted listeners to Ezekiel -
"And lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear thy words, but they do them not" - Ezekiel 33v32.
Also consider the words of James 1v22-25.
Let us instead apply the lessons to ourselves, so that we might mend our waywardness before the Divine assessment shortly to be rendered - for then it will be too late to do anything.
Let us realise that we individually, like David, are the "men" and "women" of the parables.
We shall find various characters brought to our notice as we traverse the Book of Proverbs, and as we clearly see the characteristics which they display, let us search inwardly to see whether some of these things might well be applicable to ourselves. In this way, we shall fulfil the essential purpose of the narratives, and obtain victory over the nature which we bear. And we know that we are saved by the grace of God - Ephesians 2v5 through reconciliation in Christ - Romans 5v11.
Returning to the Proverbs more directly, the book is summarised as the story of two women - Wisdom & Folly.
Wisdom - ch.9v1-12 - "Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars". Note the way in which Jesus Christ uses this proverb, by making it the basis for a parable in Matthew 7v24,25, commending "whosoever heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them" as "like unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock.." which was then able to withstand all external troubles.
Folly - ch.9v13-18 - "A foolish woman…sitteth at the door of her house, on a seat in the high places of the city...the dead are there...her guests are in the depths of hell". Jesus Christ also expands thus in Matthew 7v26,27, "And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand…" which was then unable to withstand the external troubles.
These two "houses" each have 7 supports. "Wisdom" has "seven pillars", and is built "upon a rock".
Cp Matthew 16v18 - "upon this rock". The "seven pillars" find expression in ch.1v2-6; 1v8 to 9v18 - also link to 'structure' re the seven principles involved. A more particular summary of the seven basic principles of the Truth is found in Acts 2v14-40; 10v34-43; Hebrews 6v1,2. When expressed as actual basic doctrines, there appear to be twelve - "the hope of Israel" - 'The Law of Moses' p131/2 (Fourth Edition)
"Folly" has the "seven things" - these "doth Yahweh* hate" - ch.6v16-19. These support "her house", ch.7v8; 9v14. Look at the contrast between the two contained in ch.3v33 - "The curse of Yahweh is in the house of the wicked; but he blesseth the habitation of the just". The separation of these two "houses" is stark, and the choice we must make is clear.
(*'Yahweh' is the Memorial Name of God, given to remind His people of His purpose with the redeemed and with the earth. It means literally 'He who will be', see Exodus 3v14,15 and cp Numbers 14v21 - also see 'God' - page 2)
We have to make the choice, as to which "woman" we shall follow. One woman, "wisdom", will form the accepted Bride of Christ at His return. The other, "folly", will be condemned to destruction at that same tribunal. Let us picture ourselves in the company of "wisdom" as "the virgins her companions" - Psalm 45v14, who "with gladness and rejoicing shall enter into the king's palace", v15. For more on the contrast, link to
Returning for a moment to the "seven pillars" of "wisdom" - in our resume of the construction of ch.1v8 to 9v18 inclusive: we notice that both doctrine and practice are included.
The change of emphasis is found in ch.4v2,4 - "For I give you good doctrine, forsake ye not my law…….Let thine heart retain my words: keep my commandments and live". Ephesians 4v1 shows the same graphic change of emphasis - "therefore walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called". And we are reminded of James 2v26: "Faith without works is dead". Purity before peace is essential to both, Matthew 5v8,9; James 3v17. Some have tried to invert this order, which has resulted in the instability and ultimate destruction of their work.
Building the foundations is not easy work. And maintaining and caring for them is even harder. If the wall of fellowship (the protection of the Truth) is broken down, it becomes impossible to protect them from ever-ready predators, Psalm 80. "If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?" - Psalm 11v3.
The purpose of the extended proverbs (called parables) in the New Testament is set out in Matthew 13v9:
"Who hath ears to hear, let him hear". This immediately reminds us of the verse appearing 7 times in Revelation 2 & 3: "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the spirit saith unto the ecclesias". Those who do hearken to and obey the words of the spirit in all ages will form part of the 8th ecclesia - the perfected body of Christ: link to
'messages' - page 3.
The disciples ask Jesus in Matthew 13v10 - "Why speakest thou unto them in parables?"
And the Lord proceeds to explain that this does two things:
Those numbered amongst the disciples of Christ will learn, but those who oppose Him will not understand. This latter class "are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed" because "this people's heart is waxed gross". See v11-17.
This does not mean that they outwardly oppose the Truth - far from it - as in the days of Jesus, the greatest enemy, termed 'the satan', is found amongst those claiming to represent the Truth - link to 'satan' & 'messages' - page 3, especially to Smyrna, Sardis, and Philadelphia. The twin evils of laxity and extremity - link to 'appeal' - continue unabated to this day, as shown in 'messages' above. However, as Jesus also tells us:
"But wisdom is justified of her children" - Matthew 11v19.
These children of wisdom are able to add to what they have - others will lose what they seem to have, Matthew 13v12. We can build each pillar, being supported as we do so upon the "rock" of wisdom. "For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again..." - ch.24v16. We may stumble as we try to build each pillar, but "by grace are (we) saved". However "...the wicked shall fall (utterly) into mischief".
Cp 37v23,24 - "a good man...though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for Yahweh upholdeth him…".
We know that God has already built the "pillars". It is our calling to emulate them within ourselves. To do this without error we must closely observe the Divine pattern. In the boundless mercy of God, we may become "an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new (in us) and old (found from "the beginning" in God's holy word) - Matthew 13v52 - note the key is to be "instructed".
When we trace the term "pillar" in the Scriptures, we find that it carries the meanings of support, strength & witness. Robert Roberts has written on this in 'The Law of Moses', p. 126,127,136,137,146 - Fourth Edition. In so far as we individually reveal the Divine pattern, we may become "pillars", and our association together will then constitute "the ecclesia of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth" - 1st Timothy 3v15. And by bearing witness to the purity of the Faith, whatever the cost, as did the faithful in Philadelphia, we may yet become individually "a pillar in the temple of God" in the Future Age.
See also 'the Lord's day' - 8th Vision.
In the second part of these studies we shall look at various classes of people we meet in the Book of Proverbs. The main three to come to our gaze will be the simple, the scoffer, and the fool - as set forth in ch.1v22,23. These will not inherit the Kingdom of God. Let us, as stated earlier, search inwardly to see if what we learn can apply to us - and if so make the necessary corrections while there is still time. Our calling is to be sons and daughters (through wisdom) of the living God.
The issues are vital - life and death. We must pursue wisdom for ourselves, within the heart, for that is where the ultimate battle with the flesh must be fought and won.
"Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life" - ch.4v23. Also let us judge ourselves by the Divine standard cp ch.16v2 - "All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the Lord weigheth the spirits"*. And v3 - "Commit thy works unto Yahweh, and thy thoughts shall be established".
*note the following allusion from the Apostle Paul: "For I know nothing by (RV "against") myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord" - 1st Corinthians 4v4.
David asked "who can understand his errors?" and prayed "cleanse thou me from secret faults" -Psalm 19v12.
Those who share his sentiments will enjoy these studies.