Wisdom Literature

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Wisdom Literature consists of proverbs laid out in the format of Hebrew poetry but which generally do not have the same style or impact of poetry proper. Proverbs by their very nature are statements (usually couplets of contrasting ideas) giving generalizations describing how life in general goes for the subject of the proverb. Where poetry may take some time to develop a theme to maturity the proverbs are most often single statements or pairs of statements, though occasionally a series of proverbs be used to develop a single theme (such as occurs in the treatment of the theme of wisdom in the book of Ecclesiastes).

It is important to realize that proverbs do not usually have universal application nor are they usually universal truths but are more along the line of rules of thumb with a religious meaning, although many proverbs may be interpreted to be of eternal significance in describing the final outcome of the righteous and the rebellious. Proverbs must be treated with as much care as the rest of the Bible to determine how they are to be applied to our lives today.