Three Characters of Proverbs

Dear Jack,

Completely unoriginal letter here – I just found this fascinating.  I’m going to be borrowing from, again, the ESV Study Bible in the notes before the beginning of Proverbs.

To read Proverbs well, one must have a good grasp of who the character types are and what function they serve in the book.  The most obvious characters in the book are the wise, the fool, and the simple.  Proverbs urges its readers to be wise, that is, to embrace God’s covenant and to learn the skill of living out the covenant in everyday situations.  The wise person has done that; usually Proverbs focuses on the one who has made good progress in that skill, whose example is worth following.

The fool is the person steadily apposed to God’s covenant.  The setting of Proverbs assumes there can be fools even among God’s people.  There are three Hebrew terms translated “fool” with little difference between them.  This kind of person resists even the offer of forgiveness found in the covenant.  These people are dangerous in their influence and cause grief to their parents; buy they are not beyond help.

The simple is the person who is not firmly committed, either to wisdom or to folly; he is easily misled.  His trouble is that he does not apply himself to the discipline needed to gain and grow in wisdom.

Proverbs is a tough book to read, but I feel setting a context of the different characters that are going to surface is a great way to start.  Until next time, Jack.



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