Wisdom for the Way: Studies in Proverbs - Part 1

Where did Proverbs come from?

Solomon, the (major) author of Proverbs, wrote A LOT of Proverbs:
1 Kings 4:32: 
"He spoke three thousand proverbs
and his songs numbered a thousand and five."
Solomon wasn't the author of Proverbs. At least, he wasn't the only author. Proverbs 25:1 marks the beginning of King Hezekiah's additions to the Book of Proverbs. Apparently, Hezekiah felt the book wasn't finished and decided to add on. The "sayings of Agur son of Jakeh" (30:1) were also added on, along with "the sayings of King Lemuel" (31:1). Proverbs is really a compilation of wise sayings assembled by different authors.

Where did these wise sayings come from? Undoubtedly, Solomon had inspired ideas. But there's also a puzzling connection between Proverbs 22:17-24:22 (the "thirty sayings of the wise") and an Egyptian book called Instruction of Amenemope, which some scholars thing inspired these thirty sayings -- or perhaps Solomon inspired the Instruction of Amenemope! Consider the parallel here:
Proverbs 22:22: 
"Do not exploit the poor because they are poor
    and do not crush the needy in court."
Amenemope 2:
"Beware of robbing the poor,
and oppressing the afflicted."
Is this proof that the two collections of wise sayings were aware of each other? After all, Solomon did form ties to Egypt by marrying the daughter of a Pharaoh (1 Kings 3:1). One cannot say for sure what the connection, if any, there might be.

No one believes that only God's followers have a monopoly on wise ideas. So however the authors of Proverbs obtained their wise sayings, we can have confidence that whatever made it into the Book of Proverbs was meant by God to be there.

Proverbs is clear that, even with wise sayings, wisdom is still a gift of God (2:6). What does that mean? Consider these two proverbs: 
Proverbs 26:4-5
"Do not answer a fool according to his folly,
    or you yourself will be just like him.

Answer a fool according to his folly,
    or he will be wise in his own eyes."
What gives? One proverb tells us to NOT answer a fool according to his folly, while the other one tells us that we had been answer a fool according to his folly. These proverbs contradict each other! How can we know which way to go in a particular situation?

You need God to tell you which of these proverbs applies in which situation.

This is a bit of a bummer because we would naturally prefer for Proverbs to give us the right answers in each situation so we don't have to have faith. But, it turns out, you cannot have true wisdom without faith.
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