Fundamentals for Preaching the Book of Proverbs, Part 2 -- By: Bruce K. Waltke

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 165:658 (Apr 2008)
Article: Fundamentals for Preaching the Book of Proverbs, Part 2
Author: Bruce K. Waltke


Fundamentals for Preaching the Book of Proverbs, Part 2*

Bruce K. Waltke

Bruce K. Waltke is Professor of Old Testament, Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando, Florida.

* This is the second article in a four-part series, delivered as the W. H. Griffith Thomas Lectureship at Dallas Theological Seminary, February 6-9, 2007.

To preach Proverbs authentically the expositor should master the fundamentals of preaching (the topic of the first lecture in this series) and understand essential concepts of Proverbs, the topic of this and the next two lectures.

The preamble of Proverbs (1:1–7) reveals these fundamentals. In this lecture I have two objectives: to review and illustrate the fundamentals of preaching by expounding the preamble, and from the superscript of the preamble to reflect on two of the six fundamental concepts the expositor should understand.

An Exposition of the Preamble

The exposition of the preamble entails seven fundamental steps (which were discussed in the first lecture): demarcating the text, choosing the best translation, exegeting the text, abstracting its big idea, transforming that idea into a message, developing the message in sermonic form, and applying it.1

First Fundamental: Demarcating the text

Form and rhetorical criticism demarcate Proverbs 1:1–7 as an intentional grouping. These verses read as follows:

The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel: for gaining wisdom and instruction; for understanding words of insight; for receiving instruction in prudent behavior, doing what is right and just and fair; for giving prudence to those who are simple, knowledge and discretion to the young—let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance—for understanding proverbs and parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.2

Grammatically verses 1–6 are one sentence: a topic (the proverbs of Solomon, v. 1) followed by a predicate that gives the writer’s purpose for the book (vv. 2–6). A superscript modified by purpose clauses also introduces Egyptian wisdom literature. This form contrasts radically with the forms of the following tw...

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