The main characteristics of proverbs are:16
Short and pithy, “utilizing the least number of words to communicate the thought in the most powerful manner” (Russell, p. 159)
Voice of certainty
Variety of specific contexts
Two primary principles to keep in mind when studying Proverbs are:
Proverbs teach probable, not absolute, truth. They are not promises, but principles. Proverbs say that, in general, if they are adhered to, a certain result will occur. However, there are exceptions and cannot be taken as absolute promises.
It is often helpful to study proverbs by topic
The purpose of wisdom literature is ‘to encourage us to transcend the insight or principle spoken in the saying and apply it to our own experience” (Russell, p. 161).
There are different types of proverbs. Look at the proverb you are studying and check what type of proverb it is:
Descriptive (state an observation)
Prescriptive (goal is to influence behavior)
Comparisons (to show the preference of some traits or behaviors over others
Numerical (x / x + 1 in title-“There are three things that are too amazing for me, four that I do not understand” Prov. 30:18. Last characteristic most important)
Antithetical (present stark contrast)
Look for the main point of the proverb and write it in the space below:
Keep in mind that applications should flow from a concluding moral (if one) and should be compared to similar teachings in other areas of Scripture.