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Old Testament Survey - Lesson 14

Proverbs

This lesson provides an overview of the structure of Proverbs, which seems to be the most secular book of the bible. Proverbs is a book of wise memorable sayings collected by Solomon. These sayings are collected from various individuals in Israel and the Ancient Near East and serve to provide wisdom for how to live in the world.

Douglas Stuart
Old Testament Survey
Lesson 14
Watching Now
Proverbs

Poetry and Wisdom:  Proverbs

 

I.  Overview

A.  Importance of Wisdom (1-9)

B.  Proverbs of Solomon (10-22)

C.  Words of the Wise (22-24)

D.  More Words of the Wise (24:23-34)

E.  More Proverbs of Solomon (25-29)

F.  Words of Agur (30)

G.  Words of Lemuel (31:1-9)

H.  A Godly Woman (31:10-31)

 

II.  Themes of the Book

 

III.  Proverbs are puzzles.

 

IV.  Context of Warnings

 

V.  Sexual Purity and Choosing a Spouse

 

VI.  A Useful Proverb


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  • The purpose of this overview of the Old Testament is to focus on the content of each of the Old Testament books, the historical events that give context to the books, and specific questions that help draw out the overarching principles contained in the Old Testament. There is also an emphasis on identifying ways to use this material that can help people in their daily lives.

  • Genesis narrates ten stories that describe origins or beginnings. These include the origin of the “heavens and earth,” and the origin of specific families that are significant in God’s dealings with Israel and the nations.

  • Themes from selected passages in Genesis about which there are interpretations that differ greatly. These include Genesis 2 regarding creation of women and their roles, Genesis 6 about the "Sons of God," and Genesis 9 about the "curse of Ham." Other themes are the story of Abraham, and God as a punisher of evil.

  • The three major themes in Exodus are Israel's deliverance from Egypt, establishment of the Covenant and the Tabernacle. Other themes are how name repetition in a sentence is significant throughout Scripture, and how humility in the Jewish culture affects the actions and responses of many biblical characters. Exodus contains both apodictic and casuistic laws. There are also paradigmatic laws which are designed to give broad guidance for specific situations that arise. The first part of Exodus is mostly stories, and the second part is mostly a record of the laws which are the basis for how they interact with God and other people.

  • In this lesson, the concept of a covenant is defined as a legal binding agreement between two parties. In the ancient world there were many covenants. There were covenants between individuals, and even between nations. For example, a superior ruling king would make a covenant with a lesser vassal king. Covenants in the ancient near east contained the following six elements.

  • Does God punish the grandchildren for what the grandparents have done? Some people read these passages (Exodus 20:5, 34:7) and assume that they mean God punishes grandchildren based on their grandparents' sins. Unfortunately, they misinterpret these texts because they fail to understand the phenomena of numerical parallelisms. The Hebrew language favors parallelism, so that numbers which are close to other numbers will often be put in parallel to exhibit literary balance.

  • The historical books--Joshua, Judges, and Ruth--are essential reading for understanding how the bible views the progress of history. These books help us understand what the basic stages are in the progress of God’s relations with humanity. There is development, and progress in history we can refer to as epochs. This lecture provides an overview of redemptive history and a summary of the book of Joshua.

  • When discussing violence in the Old Testament it is important to discuss the concept of Holy War. This lesson does not suggest that Christians are soldiers first and nothing else since Christians are also called to be peacemakers. However, this lesson does put forward the idea that God is fighting a holy war. That is, God is seeking to promote blessing for all people by eliminating evil everywhere. The final enemy is death itself, and God is resolute on destroying evil and death. Holy war is a complex set of ideas that should be interpreted in light of the entire corpus of scripture.

  • In this lesson the extent of the conquest is discussed to frame the book of Judges. The orienting data for the book of Judges helps explain how the book recounts the decline of the people of Israel. Finally, the Dueteronomic cycle which recurs in the book is explained and helps frame Israel’s history up to the time of the exile.

  • After the division of the kingdom, 40 kings reigned during this period of the divided monarchy. Only three Kings reigned during the united monarchy—Saul, David, and Solomon. We might be able to assume the time period of the united monarch to be something like 120 years with each of the three kings reigning forty years. But the term “forty” in Hebrew means something like the English expression “several dozen.” That’s why we see the idiomatic expression “forty” so often in Hebrew literature.

  • David is a man after God’s own heart. How is this possible when he made so many moral mistakes? Being after God’s own heart does not mean David is morally upright, but that he has unwavering faith in the one true God of Israel. That is unique to David in these narratives. The narratives are clear that both Saul and Solomon conjoined belief in the God of Israel with the worship of other gods. David, however, is never portrayed as worshipping other gods or setting up altars to Idols.

  • In this lesson several key elements from the lives of Saul, David and Solomon are briefly reviewed. The rejection of Saul as King is explained. The rebellions against David are highlighted. And the disobedience of Solomon is described. Although these three kings are imperfect, God keeps the Kingdom of Israel unified throughout their successive reigns.

  • In this lesson, Dr. Stuart provides an overview of the ten types of Psalms found in Scripture, a few suggestions regarding preaching through the Psalms, and addresses how we are to interact with the hystoricizing statements within the Psalms.

  • This lesson provides an overview of the structure of Proverbs, which seems to be the most secular book of the bible. Proverbs is a book of wise memorable sayings collected by Solomon. These sayings are collected from various individuals in Israel and the Ancient Near East and serve to provide wisdom for how to live in the world.

  • There is a chiastic structure to the book of Job that begins with the prologue and ends with the epilogue. In a chiasm, the middle portion is a convenient hinge of the book, it is not necessarily the most important piece of textual material. The main question the book is asking is, where do you find wisdom? The answer is, wisdom is found in the LORD. Proverbs is monological wisdom, whereas Job is dialogical wisdom. People are debating back and forth throughout the book about the nature of wisdom.

  • This lesson briefly describes existentialism as a philosophical movement in order to frame Ecclesiastes as an ancient type of existentialist literature. Existentialism tends to argue that this life is all there is. Ecclesiastes entertains these various perspectives in the first six chapters, which serve as a literary foil, before ending with a surprise for the reader—life does have meaning because there is a God who will judge our actions.

    There is a storyline to the Song. A clue is found in the term Shulamite, which in Hebrew can be translated as Mrs. Solomon. So this is a story about Solomon marrying his wife. It conveys some of the challenges Solomon and his wife face in coming together in covenant marriage. The beginning of the book outlines their engagement. In the middle of the book they get married, and the end discusses their honeymoon. What we see in the Song is the biblical ideal of a monogamous marriage, which, ironically, Solomon failed to live up to.

  • While it is difficult to preach through the prophets it can be done well if some basic views are taken regarding the prophetic books in general.

  • This lesson provide an overview concerning three contemporaries Prophets during the period of the divided monarchy at the end of the 8 th Century BCE.

  • This lesson provides an overview of the background and content of 2 Kings.

  • Historical context is vital when one moves to reading the prophets. After Solomon’s death in 931 BCE, the kingdom of Israel undergoes an extended period of civil war as rivaling leaders take control of the northern and southern regions of the kingdom. Unfortunately, this split eventually becomes permanent. In the north the kings reigned for short periods and when compared with the southern kingdom of Judah this shows a tremendous amount of upheaval. This may have to do with the fact that the north is never ruled by a descendant of David. In addition, the north fails to worship at the Jerusalem temple, and decides instead to worship idols.

  • In this lesson an overview is provided for the prophetical books of Isaiah, Micah, and Nahum.

  • An overview of the revival under King Josiah, the fall of King Josiah, and the subsequent fall of Jerusalem to Babylon.

  • Jeremiah begins his ministry in 627 BCE. This is five years before the great revival under Josiah in 622 BCE. So Jeremiah spans the time from the Assyrian domination to the invasion of Judah by Babylon. Unlike other prophets who predicted a short exile, Jeremiah preached a long, though not unending exile. Because of this Jeremiah was not popular with the government establishment of Jerusalem.

  • Dr. Stuart provides an overview of Joel, Obadiah, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah and how they each relate to end times and God’s eternal reign.

  • Lamentations is a massive, huge, compound, complex lament that seeks to help God’s people see God’s goodness in the midst of tragedy.

  • Dr. Stuart provides a brief overview of Ezekiel, his difficult message of impending judgment on Jerusalem and his uplifting message of the hope to come.

  • In this lesson, Dr. Stuart describes the characteristics of apocalyptic literature and gives an overview of the books of Daniel. Esther, and the latter half of Isaiah.

  • An overview of the background to the post-exilic books including the necessity of the temple and the role of the Persian empire in it’s rebuilding.

  • An overview of Haggai and Zechariah, the beginning of the rebuilding of the temple, the encouragement of God’s people to put the things of God first, God’s sovereignty, the need to be faithful, the nature of God’s covenant, and God’s promises being fulfilled.

  • A look at the latter days, the closing of the prophetic cannon, and the books of Malachi, Ezra, and Nehemiah.

Did you know that the Old Testament contains more than 2/3 of the text of the Bible? Did you realize that the Old Testament timeline covers thousands of years of history and tells us the stories of people whose lives still affect world events today? Are you familiar with the Old Testament prophets that describe in detail the characteristics of the Messiah and the events that happen when he comes, hundreds of years before they take place? Have you ever read the Old Testament books of poetry and wisdom literature that contain inspirational and instructional passages that we still use today to inspire, comfort and inform our lives during life events, and are ubiquitous in both classic and contemporary literary works?

In Dr. Stuart’s Old Testament Survey class, he guides you through each of the Old Testament books by giving you the historical background, major themes and insight into the stories, characters and teaching of the book. In the historical books, you will become familiar with Old Testament Names like Adam, Noah, Abraham, Joseph and David. In the Old Testament prophets, Dr. Stuart will introduce you to the lives and messages of Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah and others. When you study the Old Testament books of wisdom literature, Dr. Stuart will give you insights into the teachings, structure and creativity in Proverbs, Psalms and other books in the Writings.

From the description of Creation in Genesis, to the last book of the Old Testament, the book of Malachi, the Old Testament contains stories and teachings that can inform, inspire and transform your life. Dr. Stuart’s years of training and his skill in communicating, provides you with this opportunity to study and learn from one of the best. Now it’s up to you!

You may download a syllabus for the class including the Course Outline by clicking on the link in the Downloads section. We do not have access to the notes or the 130 exam questions that he mentions in the lectures. The Syllabus is from the SemLink class that was originally offered online through Gordon-Conwell Seminary so you can see the class outline and suggested readings. The links are not active. If you want to participate in the assignments and tests and earn credit, you may contact Gordon-Conwell Seminary to find out if they still offer this class.

Thank you to Charles Campbell and Fellowship Bible Church for writing out the lecture notes. Note that they do not cover every lecture.

Course: Old Testament Survey

Lecture: Proverbs


I. Overview

Now we are shifting gears to talk about Proverbs. Not totally shifting gears because we have already talked about the idea of wisdom. Here is a quick overview of Proverbs in terms of how the book is structured.

A. Importance of Wisdom (1-9): Nine chapters have in them some short and long poems about the importance of seeking wisdom. You just want to get a sense of the right choices and the wrong choices. If you do not have that, how are you going to make the right choices? As we will see the right choices always start with believing in God. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, says Proverbs. A crucial statement.

B. Proverbs of Solomon (10-22): Then you have some Proverbs of Solomon, the biggest, single chunk in the book.

C. Words of the Wise (22-24): Then, interestingly, a section that is just called "Words of the Wise." Words of people who thought a lot about and taught a lot about making right choices.

D. More Words of the Wise (24:23-34): Then more of those for twelve verses.

E. More Proverbs of Solomon (25-29): Then another big chunk, more Proverbs of Solomon.

F. Words of Agur (30): Then the words of Agur.

G. Words of Lemuel (31:1-9): The words of Lemuel. Agur and Lemuel are both called kings. If you look in the books of 1 and 2 Kings you will look in vain for Agur and Lemuel, because they are Arab kings. You might then say, "Wait a minute. What are Arab kings doing contributing to the Bible? The answer is: this is something about Proverbs you need to appreciate. Solomon was probably much more a collector than an author in the sense of actually making up Proverbs. Did he make up many? Sure, undoubtedly made up many; more than anybody else, but he basically was a collector. God inspired him and if there were others who had any role to play in collecting the book, and there may have been, because there is a reference at one point in Proverbs to proverbs collected by "Hezekiah's men." Hezekiah comes at the end of the eighth century so he is at least one hundred and fifty years after Solomon. If some good stuff about the choices in life was available out there among the Arab contacts that Solomon had. Remember the Queen of Sheba; she is an Arabian queen who comes to Solomon. If it is out there, God can use it. Did Solomon, perhaps, clean up some of it? Did he add emphasis on the Lord, the God of Israel? Sure, but the origins are wherever they may come from. We can spot a very few, but there is a few, little parallels between some proverbs in Egyptian literature and things that we have in the book of Proverbs. Some of those were worth borrowing and putting in a good context.

H. A Godly Woman (31:10-31): Then, finally, the book ends with the praise of a godly woman.

II. Themes of the Book

Look at these themes and let me suggest why that kind of borrowing, even from outside of Israel, really was not a dangerous thing to do. If done carefully, it is perfectly legitimate. There are themes in Proverbs like number nine here which I have ended with the fear of Yahweh, the fear of the Lord that are, of course, orthodox Israelite themes that are not going to come from Arabs; as far as we know, most of whom did not worship Yahweh in any way. Some of the things are like that. But look at some of these themes like good speech, family matters, hard work versus laziness, the rich versus the poor, being proud versus being humble. These are things that are, to some considerable degree, shared human wisdom concerns. In other words, the book of Proverbs is as much a kind of an all-purpose book for living and not specifically a book for instruction in theology that makes it stand apart to some degree from other books. The special purpose of Proverbs is to bring up young people and to teach them what the choices of life really are. In other words, I would say to you if you are heading into youth ministry, Proverbs is the book in the Bible to help youth get it; to get what life is all about, to get the basics. To learn that you must make the decisions between wisdom and folly. That there is such a thing as righteousness and there is such a thing as wickedness. There is real evil and to know what it looks like. To know how important their speech is. To know how important it is that they relate properly within their family. That someday when they are a husband or a wife, a father or a mother they will have a crucial role to play in the lives of people that will be precious to them. And about the importance of hard work.

Proverbs would not require you to be converted to Christ to get a lot of the points. It really does not. Proverbs is much more, sort of, all-purpose. What is great about Proverbs is you can use it to help raise your own children even before they have made their decision to follow Christ as Lord and Savior. That is a fact. Those of you who have no children yet may have not even ever thought about this. I have had more children than anybody I know because my wife and I not only have had eight, four biological and four adopted, but we raised another dozen as foster children. We just have so many kids I can hardly remember their names. I look at them and say, "You are…?" But almost all Christian parents face the fact that they are raising their kids at one stage or another who are not necessarily living for Christ. Some eleven year old or some eighteen year old or whatever, they may be very far from Christ. How do you relate to them? You still need to raise them up with these basic values, basic truths, a basic sense of choices and so on. They should not be proud, they ought to be humble. They ought to get along well with friends and neighbors. They ought to know how to work hard and honor the boss and be a good employee, etc. If they are a boss, they ought to know how to be a kind boss and a fair boss, etc. Ultimately what you want is that they learn the fear of the Lord. They really get converted because that is the beginning point of all wisdom ultimately. If you want to be oriented to right and wrong, to be oriented to God is the best orientation there could possibly be for having all the other orientations fit. But still this can work. If you have got a youth group or a children's ministry or a Christian education ministry with a lot of kids who are not yet converted you can still use this material. It does not require for its applicability and its value that they have really made a decision to follow Christ. Of course that is ideal, of course it is perfect, but there is a lot you can do without that. I really encourage this.

One of the things that sometimes we do at home is that as we are eating dinner I will just grab the Bible and I will read a Proverb. I will just pick a Proverb at random. Often times it is just a Proverb that my eye falls on, I will do it now, I will give you a proverb like I do it at home. I will say to the kids, "It says here a wicked messenger falls into trouble, but a trustworthy envoy brings healing." Then I will say to my son Jonathan, who is now 14, "Okay Jonathan, what does that mean?" He will say predictably, "I don't know." Then I will read it again. "It says here, Proverbs 13:17, 'A wicked messenger falls into trouble, but a trustworthy envoy brings healing.'" Then my wife and I will start explaining what is a messenger, what is an envoy, teach him vocabulary and so on. Then I will turn to some of the older kids and say, "What do you think it means?" Then one of them will get it or get part of it and together we will work it out and then I will explain it, and it is a wonderful statement. Here is a statement about somebody who is a gossip or who is somehow giving false information or conveying things in a way that is harmful that gets people in trouble as opposed to the faithful, trustworthy envoy who can bring healing. When you handle the truth correctly and diplomatically huge amounts of good can happen. You want to hurt people, boy can you hurt them by just the way you say, "Do you know what so and so said about you the other night at Bible study?" Oh man, that is dynamite. Make it up. You could start a thing that would take years to die down.

III. Proverbs are puzzles.

One little detail, proverbs are essentially puzzles. This is important to get. A proverb is not intended to be simple to understand the minute you read it or hear it. It is supposed to soluble so it is not a puzzle that just makes you say, "I don't know; I have no idea what this says." A reasonable adult can always figure it out and explain it to a thoughtful child or adolescent. It is important to appreciate, however, in the way Proverbs are written--it is much more visible in the Hebrew, by the way, than it is in the English because the English often does kind of half explain it in the translation. English translators look for clarification, but in the original they are like puzzles. They are so terse and they have such unusual expressions and themes and metaphors that often they make no sense. Some of you who have learned English as a second language or have come from other cultures know this. You have heard many things that people say and you say, "What does that mean?" For example Americans say, "A stitch in time saves nine." It is an American and British proverb. We use it that way because it rhymes, it has a nice sense to it. What is the meaning? It has very little to do with sewing. It is not really a sewing proverb at all. You do not have to watch the Sewing Channel to understand this proverb. It is about the fact that from a literal point of view, a literalistic point of view, when a garment starts to unravel if you can quickly stitch it then much more unraveling will be stopped and one stitch in time saves nine stitches. Does it also save fourteen? Sure. Does it save thirty-eight? Sure. Does it save two? Yes. So it is not just nine. But it sort of rhymes to say, "A stitch in times saves nine," so that is the way it is put together to make it memorable but the real point of that proverb is that there are many kinds of situations that will get worse and worse and worse if you let them go but if you act quickly you can often prevent it from getting really bad. The sooner you act with many problems the easier they will be to solve. That is what a stitch in time really means. We say it in kind of a puzzle way. I sure that most kids as they are growing up, even kids who have heard that all their life, the first time they heard it said, "What, I don't get it." So you have to explain it. Proverbs are like that. We believe that when people taught proverbs to kids, again and again and again they would say, "Teacher, would you explain that one too please?" It had to be puzzled out. But you know what is wonderful, if you have something you have to puzzle out, we find this at the dinner table whenever we do it with our kids, it makes an impact because you are repeating it. You say, "Now listen to that first part again. What do you think that means?" You are going over it, you are repeating it, everybody is thinking about it, they are trying to solve the puzzle. This is what helps commit it to memory. Something that is easy to solve just sort of goes in one ear and out the other, which is also a kind of an English proverb; an expression for it does not last in your memory. A thing that you have to work on, think about, analyze. What is the point of that? I don't get it. Why is it stated that way? That is just great in terms of helping you to get the concept and likely remember it. In the Hebrew the proverbs are very, very memorizable. They are like "a stitch in time saves nine" or "look before you leap." They are short, they are very epigrammatic, they are very condensed, they often have similar sounds and cadences and they are put in a word order that you can easily remember. Like, "Roses are red, violets are blue, sugar is sweet and who are you." It is memorizable, because there are cadences and so on. There are a lot of those things that we do not have in English but we still have the puzzle factor, the need to go over it, the concept and the tremendous value for believer and nonbeliever alike, which is a great thing.

IV. Context of Warnings

One does have to be careful in the genre. I think in the wisdom literature, the warnings against prostitution, harlotry and so on are basically warnings in favor of sexual fidelity and purity. In the prophets the term harlotry, prostitution is usually metaphorical referring to polytheism. Where you use a term makes a very big difference in its applicability. I was giving the illustration in another class today--suppose you saw in a newspaper the following: Pittsburgh eliminates Detroit. If that were not on a sports page or a sport story it could be real serious. "Good grief, Pittsburgh attacked Detroit and eliminated them with atomic weapons or something." On a sports page, however, it means they knocked them out of the playoffs or out of eligibility for the playoffs. It has another kind of a meaning; it is using language in the context of the field of sports and it is not the city of Pittsburgh at all, it is the Pittsburgh Penguins or whoever it is. It is some particular team, a very small organization, a very small number of people from Pittsburgh actually who work in Pittsburgh. (They are from Canada if they are Penguins.) The context is a huge part of the meaning of something. In the prophets a word is going to have this kind of value in that context whereas over in the proverbs or wisdom literature in general it will have another.

V. Sexual Purity and Choosing a Spouse

One of the big issues in wisdom literature is sexual purity and so Proverbs ends with the advice about how wonderful it is to make the right choice about life's biggest choice from a human point of view. Life's biggest choice is choosing God ultimately. But the biggest choice that people tend to make that they think of as a human choice is the choice of a spouse. You end the book with this advice that it is so important to find a godly wife. All of Proverbs like the law and everything is always in the second person singular but do not think it is not automatically reversible. I think everybody in ancient Israel would have understood that that teaching advised a woman to find a godly husband as well. Just to make the appropriate changes so that the concepts would still essentially be helpful. Choosing a mate is crucial. Then one watches teenagers do this and it is basically who you feel comfortable with in the back seat of a car. That is the decision-making ability. It is just incredible how badly they make the decisions. It is amazing what you see. Any of you who have any pastoral experience know a big part of your time is spent in counseling people who not only made strange decisions preparing for marriage, but are continuing to make strange decisions in marriage. This is the biggest decision of life and people have not always done it well. What do we have at the end of Proverbs? Nothing about anybody's looks. Do not make it based on looks. Nothing about any number of things like, "Aw, she is a great dancer, that is a good reason to marry her." It is about the quality, the character, the competence, the willingness to work hard, the willingness to take care of the family and provide, the willingness to be a partner to you, the willingness to be helpful. It is just a whole other set of values that the wise person uses to make the right choices.

VI. A Useful Proverb

Let me end up on Proverbs and I know there is so many other things we could talk about.

Let me end up with a little story about a Proverb that did me much good. When I grew up my Dad taught me a Proverb. He taught me some Proverbs, I suppose, like don't play in the street is sort of a proverb. One that my dad taught me was this--every gun is loaded. I heard that from when I was a little kid because my dad had some guns and that was a rule. For years I would keep asking him, "Come on Dad, mine is not loaded, look it's empty." He would not hear me. He would say, "No, Doug, every gun is loaded." What was he teaching me? Technically it was not true but he was teaching me an attitude about a gun. He was saying, "Treat every gun as if it is loaded." It is something his dad had taught him. This was very useful to me when I shot a hole in my underwear. Let me describe it. I am home from college, I am a freshman at some obscure university in Cambridge, Massachusetts and I am home from college and I brought along two or three weeks worth of laundry, mostly underwear. I have got it in a bag and I come down to the basement with this bag of laundry and drop it on the floor next to the washing machine where my mom will do it for me. Wasn't that wonderful? Talk about a saint. Anyway, and I see that my dad has a new gun in there. This is great. He has got it loaded with birdshot; I do not know that. I look at the gun and determine by breaking it open, Ah ha! There is absolutely nothing I can see. The light at the other end of the chamber, the whole thing is just absolutely empty, you can see right through the barrel. I was seeing the reflection of the light bulb behind me on the nice, shiny end of the round that was in there. If you ever have a gun, all the men in the room know this and the women just have to trust us; this is true. You cannot just hold a gun; you have to see how it fires. You just have to. You have to feel what we call, "the action." You have to aim it, you have to get the heft. You just have to squeeze that trigger and just feel how it clicks. I had it up and was holding it out right against the window of the basement; the window looks out into our backyard, nice, big picture window. I was looking out there and thought, "No, I better not." That came to my mind, "every gun is loaded," as proverbs are supposed to. They are supposed to come to mind. They are simple, they are short. They are not always technically true like a stitch in time saves nine; it could be a hundred, it could be one, sometimes it does not save anything. So I said every gun is loaded and I aimed, instead, down at my underwear and it went off and I shot a whole bunch of birdshot and it did not do too much damage to anything but my underwear; I had a lot of holes in my underwear. Proverbs have that value. The theory is that they are like rules. Why do we have rules for driving on a highway? Because it saves lives to have rules and to have them strictly enforced. Why do you have rules in Proverbs for how to live and to make the right choices? Because it saves people from miseries of all sorts. Proverbs, in that sense of having these rules that are just generally applicable, is in some ways the most secular book in the Bible. It is not really secular, I do not mean that, but it is more nearly secular. Maybe that is a safer way to say it, because it does certainly have an awful lot that could apply to the nonbeliever and be useful to the nonbeliever. So certainly in youth work, in raising children, it is a great device and I do commend it to you.