Spare the Rod and Spoil the Proverb (Part 1)
With the words of Deuteronomy echoing in my mind (“diligently observe everything I commanded you; do not add to it or take anything from it”), here are simple statistics about the book of Proverbs and my own A Life That Is Good: The Message of Proverbs in a World Wanting Wisdom.
The book of Proverbs contains 915 verses.
I refer to 778 verses from Proverbs in the index of A Life That Is Good (85%). In other words, I earned a solid “B” in my coverage of the book of Proverbs.
I failed to mention or refer to 137 verses from Proverbs (15%) in the index or the body of the chapters (reading lists at the beginning of each chapter are not included in the index).
Upon further examination, 38 of the missing verses clearly belong with one of the existing chapters. If you use my book to study or teach Proverbs, you will want to take a look at these verses where they should’ve and/or could’ve occurred.
In the following list, I refer to primary locations without parenthesis, e.g., 6:22 in chapter 11; I place secondary suggestions within parenthesis, e.g., (6:22) for chapter 7; and I identify texts that go with or complete the thought of surrounding verses (already included in the index) with the larger unit in parenthesis, e.g. 7:9 (with vv. 6-8). With all this in mind, here we go:
Chp. 1 (on the sages and wisdom): 3:8; 7:9 (with vv. 6-8); 7:13 (with vv. 11-12); 7:26-27 (with 24-25); 24:13 (with v. 14)
Chp. 4 (on fool): 13:16; 14:12; 21:4; 23:9; 26:1, 8, 13; 30:32
Chp. 5 (on God): 8:27-29 (with vv. 22-26 and vv. 30-31)
Chp. 6 (on justice and mercy): 4:19; 9:11; 17:26; 23:18
Chp. 7 (on speech): 4:24; 5:13, (6:22), 10:31; 17:4, 7, 20; 18:4; 19:9; 23:9; (23:18 with 23:17), 25:23; 27:2
Chp. 9 (on leadership): 11:14; 14:28; (17:7); 21:4
Chp. 10 (on friendship): (21:4); 23:28 (with vv. 26-27); 27:19
Chp. 11 (on family values): 6:22 (with 6:20-21)
With these verses properly included, the index would include 823 verses from Proverbs (90%). Now, we still lack 92 missing or lost proverbs (10% of the book of Proverbs), but at least I can argue for an “A-” grade. To my former students, I say, “Yes, I know that I required a 92% for an ‘A’ in most of my classes. Too bad you didn’t get to take me later in life when I began to soften.”
Jesus tells a parable about a shepherd who has a flock of sheep. One of those sheep goes missing, so he leaves the 99 to go in search of the one. To follow the practice, we now leave the flock of 823 proverbs safely penned in my book, to go in search of the missing 10% (92 proverbs). As I have examined the nooks and crannies, it appears that my lost sheep have wandered into four canyons (categories).
Category 1: Proverbs that would’ve been included if I could’ve slightly expanded or refocused the current content of A Life That Is Good (31 proverbs):
I could’ve included proverbs about the monarchy and behavior in the royal court with chapter 9 (on leadership): 14:35; 16:15; 19:12; 20:2, 8, 26; 22:29; 30:22-23, 26-27, 28, 31.
I could’ve included proverbs about arguments, disputes, and lawsuits with chapter 4 (on the fool) or chapter 7 (on speech): 17:14, 19; 18:17-19; 19:11.
I could’ve included proverbs about the gullible who rush into decisions and actions without thoughtful reflection—in contrast to the wise who thoughtfully consider their commitments and actions—with chapter 4 (on the fool): 14:15; 17:24; 19:2; 22:3; 27:12
I could’ve included proverbs about instruction and correction with chapter 4 (on the fool) or chapter 7 (on speech): 9:8-9; 17:10; 19:25, 27; 20:5; 28:4.
It’s not too difficult to see how these missing proverbs could have been included with these chapters. But, for example, since we don’t live with a king, to reach out to the missing proverbs and include them in a chapter about leadership (chp. 9), would slightly change its focal point. Nonetheless, I share this “appendix” to A Life That Is Good so that those who study or teach from the book of Proverbs will have a complete reference guide to all of its verses. I also share this update so that I will no longer be haunted by dreams that threaten me with curses for taking something away from the words of Scripture (see Rev. 22:18-19). Obviously, we are not yet finished hunting down my lost sheep. In my next post(s), I will continue my search for the missing proverbs and find them minding their own business in three other canyons (categories).