[Editor's note: Beyond Sunday is a Monday refresher to carry you through the week.]
Focus Verse of the Week
Do not move an ancient landmark or enter the fields of the fatherless, for their Redeemer is strong; he will plead their cause against you. (Proverbs 23:10-11, ESV)
A proverb is a pithy sentence, concisely expressing some well-established truth lending to various illustrations and applications. The Hebrew word for proverb (mashal) means a "comparison." Many suppose it was used because the form or subject matter of the proverb - or both - involved the idea of comparison.
Most of the proverbs are in couplets or triplets, or some modifications of them, the members of which correspond in structure and length, as if arranged to be compared one with another. They illustrate the varieties of parallelism, a distinguishing feature of Hebrew poetry. Many also clearly involve the idea of comparison in the sentiments expressed.
The Greek translators of the Bible used the word, parabola ("parable"), which the gospel writers (except John) employ for our Lord's discourses of the same character, and which also seems to involve the idea of comparison, though that may not be its primary meaning. It might seem, therefore, that the proverbial and "parable-styles" of writing were originally and essentially the same. The proverb is a "concentrated parable, and the parable an extension of the proverb by a full illustration." The proverb is thus the moral or theme of a parable, which sometimes precedes it, as in Matthew 19:30.
(Adapted from Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown's commentary critical and explanatory on the whole bible, proverbs - introduction.)
A Thought to Keep
Let us remember that the proverbs are not simply pithy phrases. God has given them to us to teach and correct.