Author: Solomon is the clear author of most of the proverbs. While he didn’t write these proverbs down, they were repeated often enough that they were later written down and Solomon was known to have been the one who spoke them. It is only natural that Solomon would be the main author of the Bible’s central book of wisdom since he was blessed by God as the wisest man who ever lived.
In addition to Solomon, two kings are listed as authors of Proverbs 30 and 31, King Agur and King Lemuel respectively. Some have suggested that these are just pseudonyms for Solomon because to date there is no historical evidence of either king and they are not mentioned elsewhere in the Bible.
Date: As Solomon wrote most if not all of Proverbs, this book was written in the mid 900’s BC during Solomon’s reign. Some date the last chapters of Proverbs to around 750 BC but this is largely speculative.
Purpose of Proverbs: The purpose of Proverbs is to impart wisdom and common sense. A modern parallel would be Ben Franklin’s writing in Poor Richard’s Almanac.
One thing that needs to be remembered about Proverbs is that the wisdom in the book is not considered guarantees in life. Instead, we might consider them to be “best practices” for how to live life. For instance, one of the best known proverbs is “train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” This is not a guarantee that good Christian parents won’t have children who turn out poorly. However, it is far better to raise a child properly than it is to neglect teaching them God’s ways.
With this in mind, there are some absolute truths found in the book of Proverbs. These truths focus on the nature of God. If a proverb says that God hates something, it is not true only some of the time but rather always. Proverbs 3:5-6 is possibly the best known verses and is also a guarantee and not just a best practice.
Key verses: Proverbs 3:5-6:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.