Sep 7, 2009

Topical Studies in Proverbs

I am about to start teaching a class on Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and So
ng of Solomon. For Proverbs I plan to do an exposition of chapters 1-9. But, the rest of Proverbs will be studied topically. Because of time I will only be able to cover four to five topics. Therefore, I want to give my adult students a process to develop their own topical studies. I have created a handout which I have included below. Feel free to give your thoughts or suggestions by clicking on comments below.

How to Do Your Own Topical Study

1. Read Proverbs and become familiar with the different kinds of topics that seem to reoccur.

2. Select a topic and try to determine what key words might fall under that topic. For example, proverbs related to the family might use words like father, mother, son, child, discipline, training, etc.

3. Try and find every proverb related to the topic. This can be done by personally going through each proverb in Proverbs. This is the best way. But if you don’t have the time to do this then you can use certain commentaries which have topical arrangements or indexes (see below) or you can use a topical Bible like Naves (good), or a concordance like Strong’s or Young’s to look up key words (acceptable but might be time consuming).

4. Once you identify all the proverbs related to the topic, try to determine the meaning of the proverb and how it contributes to your topic.

5. Once you have worked through all the proverbs related to the topic, try and identify basic categories. For example, possible categories for proverbs related to speech could be encouraging speech, edifying speech, gossip, honesty, lying, criticism, etc.

6. Once you have identified your categories then try and identify an overall message that could be supported by the individual proverbs in that category.

7. Meditate and apply what you have learned to your life.

8. Start the process over with another topic.

Some Books on Proverbs Arranged Topically or with Topical Indexes

House, H. Wayne and Kenneth M. Durham. Living Wisely in a Foolish World: A Contemporary Look at the Wisdom of Proverbs. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1992.

Hubbard, David. Proverbs. Mastering the Old Testament, ed. Lloyd J. Ogilvie, vol. 15A. Dallas: Word Publishing, 1989.

Kidner, Derek. Proverbs: An Introduction and Commentary. Tyndale Old Testament Commentary, ed. D. J. Wiseman. Downers Grove, IL: Inter Varsity Press, 1964.

Longman, Tremper, III. Proverbs. Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms, ed. Tremper Longman III. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2006.

Sailler, Ronald M., and David Wyrtzen. The Practice of Wisdom: A Topical Guide to Proverbs. Chicago: Moody, 1992.

Woodcock, Eldon. Proverbs a Topical Study. Bible Study Commentary. Grand Rapids: Lamplighter Books, 1988.

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