The wise sayings found in PROVERBS can be grouped in a number of ways. At a very general level, the sayings can be described as statements of truth—“Kind words are like honey” (16:24); or as instructions—“Accept correction, and you will find life” (10:17). But the sayings can also be described by the form or pattern they take. One common pattern follows the form of Hebrew poetry known as “parallelism.” In parallel statements, the second part either agrees with the first or provides its opposite. This chart gives some of the patterns or forms used in creating the proverbs.
|FORM OR PATTERN OF PROVERB||EXAMPLES|
|1. Opposite parallel |
The same statement or instruction is given twice, but in opposite ways.
|Hatred stirs up trouble; |
love overlooks the wrongs that others do. 10:12
Always do the right thing, and you will live;
keep on doing wrong, and you will die. 11:19
|2. Similar parallel |
The same statement or instruction is given twice in similar ways. The same idea is restated in different words. Sometimes, the second line makes the point more strongly than the first line did.
God's people avoid evil ways,
Use wisdom and understanding to establish your home;
|3. Single statement |
Some proverbs are a single statement describing some truth. These are often short, bold statements or simple warnings.
Even fools seem smart when they are quiet. 17.28
You may think you are on the right road
4. Statement with an explanation
Just as iron sharpens iron,
An angry ruler is like a roaring lion—
A beautiful woman who acts foolishly
Our inner thoughts are a lamp from the LORD. 20:27
A ruler who mistreats the poor is like a roaring lion
|6. Descriptive list |
Usually three or four answers that follow a statement based on an unspoken question.
|There are three or four things I cannot understand: |
How eagles fly so high or snakes crawl on rocks,
how ships sail the ocean or people fall in love. 30:18,19
7. “If…then” statement and “or else” instruction
If you obey God,
Make fun of wisdom, and you will never find it. 14:6
It's better to take hold of a mad dog by the ears
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