Ancient Wisdom for Today’s World
Lesson 10 | August 14, 2016
Prepared by Daniel L. Segraves, PhD
Some Proverbial Forms
Not all proverbs are created equal. What we mean is that proverbs appear in various forms. The following list includes some, but not all, of these forms with examples.
- Instructions: “Listen, my son” (Prov 1-9; 22-24).
- Admonitions: “Guard your heart, for it is …” (Prov 4:23).
- Numerical Sayings: “Three things are too amazing … four that I …” (Prov 30:18).
- “Better than” Sayings: “Better poor … than rich …” (Prov 19:1).
- Comparative Sayings: “For as churning milk produces butter …” (Prov 30:33).
- Abomination Sayings: “The way of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD” (Prov 15:9).
- Beatitudes: “Blessed is one who is kind to the poor” (Prov 22:9).
- Yahweh Sayings: “The Lord [yhwh] is far from the wicked” (Prov 15:29).
- Contrary Proverbs: “Answer not a fool … Answer a fool” (Prov 26:4-5).
- Acrostics: Proverbs 31:10-31.
Looking at Some Numerical Sayings: A List of Things God Hates
Numerical sayings deal with one theme, but the emphasis seems to be on the final saying in the list. In this lesson, we will look at the list in Proverbs 6:16-19:
These six things the Lord hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: (16) A proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, (17) a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, (18) a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren (19).
The word translated “abomination” includes the idea of something being detestable. The opening verse (v. 16) in this list suggests that God hates all seven of these things but that He particularly detests the seventh.
Pride was the original sin of Lucifer. (See Isaiah 14:12-16; Ezekiel 28:11-19.) Pride is the root of all sin, for it exalts self above the will of God. Pride is the first step to shame (Proverbs 11:2). It is the cause of contention (Proverbs 13:10). It is the prelude to destruction (Proverbs 16:18). It is, in itself, sin (Proverbs 21:4).
Lying is also sin. Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44). All liars will share a common destiny with him in the lake of fire (Revelation 21:8). Those who love and make lies will be barred from the New Jerusalem (Revelation 22:15).
The third warning is against violence, particularly against hands that shed innocent blood. God abhors murder. In the Old Testament God have instructions concerning capital punishment (Genesis 9:5-6) and commanded Israel to war against the enemies of God on many occasions, but these were people whom He had judged guilty of violating His law and fighting against His chosen nation and plan. The warning here is against shedding innocent blood.
Wicked Thoughts and Plans
God gave us the marvelous ability to imagine, to visualize, to be creative. He hates for us to prostitute this God-given ability by devising wicked plans. The people of Noah’s day did so (Genesis 6:5), and because of this intense misuse of the power of imagination, God destroyed most of the human race at that time. God has given humans the power to invent, but He hates the practice of using His gift to invent evil (Romans 1:30).
God gave people feet to be able to run to the aid of those in need and to be yielded to Him as an instrument of righteousness. (See Romans 6:13.) He hates for His gift to be perverted so that the feet carry people swiftly to do wrong.
False Witness and Sowing Discord
The ninth commandment specifically prohibits the bearing of false witness against one’s neighbor (Exodus 20:16). A false witness can be instrumental in convicting an innocent party, which can ultimately result in the death penalty. To protect the innocent, under the law one witness was never sufficient to condemn someone to death. Two, and preferably three, were required. (See Deuteronomy 17:6.) To further protect the innocent, even after guilt was declared, the accusers had to place their hands on the accused and declare in the presence of all the people that he or she was indeed the guilty party. Then the accusers had to be the first to cast the stones to put the accused to death. (See Deuteronomy 13:9.) All of these protections gave a false witness maximum opportunity to reverse his testimony. Only the most callous and hardened person could maintain a false witness through all the required developments in the trial.
It is a dangerous sin to bear false witness against an innocent person. Even secular courts demand that the witness pledge to tell the absolute truth. The person who prevaricates is guilty of perjury with its attendant penalties.
It is better to err on the side of mercy than on the side of judgment. Even those who have seen or heard something that seems to affix blame should be cautious, for things are not always what they seem. It is possible to misinterpret what we see or hear.
The seventh thing God hates and the one which, by implication, He hates most of all is sowing discord among brethren. The New Testament also addresses this sin. (See Galatians 5:20; II Thessalonians 3:11; I Timothy 5:13; I Peter 4:15.) It is God’s desire that people walk in harmony and unity; the person who sows discord works directly against God’s plan. The most common way discord is sown is when one person tells something harmful to the reputation of another person – whether true or false – to someone who has no need or authority to hear it.
In our next lesson, we will look at other numerical sayings in the Book of Proverbs.
 Tremper Longman III and Peter Enns, Dictionary of the Old Testament (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2008), 534-536.
 Daniel L. Segraves, Ancient Wisdom for Today’s World (Hazelwood, MO: Word Aflame Press, 1990), 72-75.