Wisdom from the Sages, Part One

The book of Proverbs is about Wisdom. Wisdom may be defined as the art of living skillfully and sanely regardless of the circumstances. The way that we think about and respond to God is not only the most important thing about us; it is also the most practical thing about us. In Proverbs, several writers use various and diverse techniques to instantly capture the imagination so that it might be sealed in the heart and mind and then unpacked in practice at another time. One of these techniques or strategies is the use of numbers. Examples of this are found in “the six things God hates” (6:16-19), the “seven pillars of wisdom” in the house built by Lady Wisdom (9:1-6), and in the phrase “three things, no four” used several times in chapter thirty.

There is an interesting and provocative group of sage-like principles or precepts in Proverbs 22:22-24:22, simply called “The Thirty Sayings.” The number “30” in Scripture usually refers to the time at which one is dedicated to a task or a calling, or an age of maturity. Priests began their services at this age, David began his kingship at this age, Ezekiel was designated a prophet at this time, and Jesus Christ began His sacred ministry at this age (being priest, prophet, and king). We can assume then that these sayings are for those who are mature, settled, and established in faith and practice.

A few suggestions are in order before reading these sayings. Initially, one must divide and/or enumerate them. This can be done by a simple common sense reading (they are listed at the end of this post). Once this is accomplished, it is time to explore. Use different translations. Summarize them into a word or a phrase. Discuss them, enjoy them, and live them.

1.22:22-23. 2.22:24-25. 3.22:26-27. 4.22:28. 5.22:29. 6.23:1-3. 7.23:4-5. 8.23:6-8. 9.23:9. 10.23:10-11. 11.23:12. 12.23:13-14. 13.23:13-14. 14.23:17-18. 15.23:19-21. 16.23:22-25. 17.23:26-28. 18.23:29-35. 19.24:1-2. 20.24:3-4. 21.24:5-6. 22.24:7. 23.24:8-9. 24.24:10. 25.24:11-12. 26.24:13-14. 27.24:15-16. 28.24:17-18. 29.24:19-20. 30.24:21-22.