Old Testament Lesson 31 (Proverbs; Ecclesiastes)

THE WISDOM OF SOLOMON

When Solomon became king of Israel he was still quite young. He also had huge shoes to fill, following his father David on the throne—perhaps the most renowned and beloved king of Israel ever. He prayed mightily for the ability to leader his people.

● The Lord appeared to Solomon and asked him what blessing he desired (1 Kings 3:5–14; JST 1 Kings 3:5–9,12,14).

● Solomon asked for wisdom, which greatly pleased the Lord. The Lord granted this wish but added other blessings also:
— Wisdom.
— Riches.
— Honor.
— Length of days.
— All of which were conditioned upon his keeping of the commandments.

● Solomon began his reign very humbly and was greatly blessed by the Lord (1 Kings 9:3–9). The Lord promised Solomon that the royal line of his father, David, would not fail if Solomon and his children were faithful (vv. 5–7).

● Solomon judged which harlot was the mother of a baby (1 Kings 3:16–28). This is perhaps the most famous of Solomon’s wise actions and decisions.

● Solomon was wiser than all other men of that time (1 Kings 4:29–34).

THE BOOK OF PROVERBS

The Nature of the Proverbs

● The book of Proverbs is classified as wisdom literature. It contains various collections of proverbs, wise sayings, and some poems. Most were written mainly to get younger people to accept counsel from those with more experience, especially their parents and the Lord.

● The Old Testament records that Solomon “spake three thousand proverbs” (1 Kings 4:32). Some of these wise sayings are included in the book of Proverbs.

● The book of Proverbs contains sayings by more than just Solomon—it is composed of proverbs written by various authors at different times. But of these, only Solomon is known to us.

● Although Solomon and the other authors of this book were not prophets, much of what they wrote was inspired by the Lord. Their writings generally reflect a belief that true wisdom comes from God.

● Here are a few selected proverbs written by Solomon on various aspects of life, wisdom, righteousness, and happiness.

● Select several of these that you think would be of interested and benefit to your students, then discuss them by inviting class members to share their own experience with that particular aspect of life.

Wisdom

— The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, which is not the same thing as being “learned” (Proverbs 1:1–7; 9:9–10; see also 2 Nephi 9:28–29).

— God will reward those who earnestly seek knowledge (Proverbs 2.1–9).

— The Lord gives wisdom, which is an attribute of God (Mosiah 4:9) and a gift of the Spirit (D&C 47:16) (Proverbs 2:6).

— Wisdom will protect us from evil (Proverbs 2:16–19).

— How wisdom compares to the value of earthly treasures (Proverbs 3:13–18; Eccl. 7:12). Note the use of “she” and “her” when referring to wisdom. Also note that wisdom is called a “tree of life” (v. 18).

— The qualities of wise people are listed in these verses (Proverbs 15:31–33).

Trusting in the Lord

— Trust in the Lord with all thine heart (Proverbs 3:5–8).

— Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding (Proverbs 4:7).

— Every word of God is pure: he is a shield to them that trust in him (Proverbs 30:5).

Obedience

— Fools reject counsel (Proverbs 1:7; 15:5).

— Whom the Lord loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth (Proverbs 3:11–12).

— A commandment is a lamp; the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life (Proverbs 6:23).

— A fool’s way is right in his own eyes (Proverbs 12:15).

Righteousness

— Do not enter the path of the wicked (Proverbs 4:14–19).

— Guard your heart; walk the strait and narrow (Proverbs 4:24–27).

— Six things the Lord hates (Proverbs 6:16–19).

— The souls of the righteous will not famish (Proverbs 10:3).

— The results of righteousness are contrasted with the results of unrighteousness (Proverbs 10:27–32; 11:1–4; 19:16).

— Righteousness brings life (Proverbs 12:28).

— The Lord loves the righteous and despises the ways of the wicked (Proverbs 15:8–9).

— As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he (Proverbs 23:7).

— Stay away from “strange” (immoral) women (Proverbs 7:4–7,22–27).

— Those who embrace immoral women go down to hell (Proverbs 5:3–6).

Righteous Communication

— Righteous people keep confidences (Proverbs 11:13).

— The Lord abhors lying and delights in truth (Proverbs 12:22).

— The results of speaking kindly (Proverbs 12:25; 15:1; 16:24).

— A soft answer turneth away wrath (Proverbs 15:1).

— A well-chosen utterance is beneficial (Proverbs 15:23).

— Pleasant words are sweet to the soul (Proverbs 16:23–24).

— Gossipers create dissension and sever relationships (Proverbs 16:27–28).

— Even a fool who remains silent is thought to be wise (Proverbs 17:28; 29:11).

— The words of talebearers wound people deeply (Proverbs 18:8; 25:18).

— Liars will be punished (Proverbs 19:5, 9).

— Wise people choose what they speak with care (Proverbs 21:23).

— Removing a scorner will solve dissension in groups (Proverbs 22:10).

Avoiding Anger

— Wise people are slow to anger (Proverbs 14:29).

— An angry person causes problems; a wise person solves them (Proverbs 15:18).

— An individual who is slow to anger is stronger than the mighty (Proverbs 16:32).

Pride

— The Lord hates pride (Proverbs 8:13).

— Pride leads to contention (Proverbs 13:10).

— Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall (Proverbs 16:18–19).

Family Relationships

— Following parental counsel protects a person from evil (Proverbs 6:20–33).

— A wise son makes his parents happy (Proverbs 10:1; 17:25).

— Train up a child in the way he should go, and he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6).

— Parents should chasten and discipline children when necessary (Proverbs 19:18; 23:13–14).

— An un-trained child shames its mother (Proverbs 29:15–17).

— Having a good wife is a blessing from the Lord (Proverbs 19:14).

— A virtuous woman should be prized above rubies (Proverbs 31:10–31).
○ She can be trusted (v. 11).
○ She works willingly (v. 13).
○ She is compassionate (v. 20).
○ She is strong and honorable (v. 25).
○ She speaks with wisdom and kindness (v. 26).
○ She is a dedicated wife and mother (v. 28).
○ She obeys the Lord (v. 30).

Friendship

— Warnings about unrighteous friends (Proverbs 13:20; 22:24–25).

— Characteristics of good friends (Proverbs 17:17; 27:9).

— What we can we do to gain true friends (Proverbs 18:24).

Diligent Labor

— Wise people work diligently and serve faithfully (Proverbs 10:4–5).

— Laziness results in deprivation (Proverbs 19:15).

— The sluggard will end up with nothing (Proverbs 20:4).

The Pursuit of Riches

— The rich rule over the poor, and the lender over the borrower (Proverbs 22:7).

— Those who are wise and liberal will prosper (Proverbs 11:24–25).

— The rich and poor are contrasted (Proverbs 13:7).

— The risks inherent in having too much or too little (Proverbs 30:8–9).

— Possessing little with righteousness is better than having great possessions without righteousness (Proverbs 16:8; 15:16).

— A good name is better than riches (Proverbs 22:1–2).

— Don’t work for riches, which fly away (Proverbs 23:4–5).

Happiness and Good Humor

— The importance of a happy attitude and a good sense of humor (Proverbs 15:13; 17:22).

— Where there is no vision the people perish (Proverbs 29:18).

THE BOOK OF ECCLESIASTES

The Nature of Ecclesiastes

● The book of Ecclesiastes is also classified as wisdom literature. Ecclesiastes provides a contrast between a worldly perspective and a godly view.

● Ecclesiastes was written by an individual referred to as “the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem” (Eccl. 1:1). Most Bible scholars agree that this was Solomon, speaking of life from the perspective of a man who had lived and learned from its difficulties and challenges.

● He starts with statements of how vain and pointless life can seem, then follows with observations that can help us get through these difficulties and disappontments.

● Select several of these that you think would be of interested and benefit to your students, then discuss them by inviting class members to share their own experience with that particular aspect of life.

Problems of the Human Experience

— All is vanity (v (Eccl. 1:1–11). 2); there is no new thing under the sun (v. 9).

— He sought wisdom but found vanity, vexation, and sorrow instead (Eccl. 1:12–18; 2:12–18; 12:8–12).

— He could not find contentment in pleasure, culture, or riches (Eccl. 2:1–11).

— He felt that his labor was vain, for the fruits of his labor would probably be left to another (Eccl. 2:19–23).

— He observed that man must die and leave all that pertains to mortality (Eccl. 3:16–22; 8:6–8; 9:4–6).

— He was disheartened by the oppressions and injustices of life (Eccl. 4:1–8, 13–16).

— It is fruitless to selfishly pursue riches (Eccl. 5:8–17).

— Unless a man’s soul is filled with good, riches, honor, and posterity are of no advantage to him (Eccl. 6).

— Although righteousness is rewarded and wickedness punished, the righteous and the wicked both experience good and ill (Eccl. 8:9–15; 9:2–3).

Maintaining Faith and Living a Good Life, Despite These Problems

— To enjoy the benefits of one’s labor is a blessing from God (Eccl. 2:24–26; 3:9–15).

— To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose (Eccl. 3:1–8).

— Two are better than one (Eccl. 4:9–10). . . For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow.

— Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter (Eccl. 5:2).

— The sleep of a laboring man is sweet (Eccl. 5:12).

— One should be content with what God has given (Eccl. 5:18–20).

— A good name is better than precious ointment (Eccl. 7:1).

— Do not be over-righteous or over-wise (Eccl. 7:16).

— In a kingdom it is wise to submit to the king (Eccl. 8:1–6).

— Man, by himself, cannot find out God’s ways; all things are in God’s hands (Eccl. 8:16–9:1).

— It is wise to make the most of life, for no one knows when death will come (Eccl. 9:7–12).

— The preciousness of life: A living dog is better than a dead lion (Eccl. 9:4).

— Work will all your energy because there is no opportunity to labor after death (Eccl. 9:10).

— The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong; time and chance happeneth to them all (Eccl. 9:11).

— Rejoice in thy youth (Eccl. 11:9). . . and walk in the ways of thine heart: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment.

— One should serve God in his youth before death overtakes him (Eccl. 12:1–7).

The Preacher’s Conclusions Concerning Life

— Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man (Eccl. 12:13–14).

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