“Happy Is the Man That Findeth Wisdom”
Trust in the Lord.
The words we speak.
Happiness and humor.
A study of this lesson will inspire us to be more Christlike by applying the
wise counsel in the books of Proverbs
Scripture references for study: Proverbs
Note: Underlined scripture references have been hyperlinked
to the LDS Scriptures at LDS.org and will open in a new window.
Lesson 31 Handout (PDF
Introduction To The Books Of Proverbs & Ecclesiastes
These two books are sometimes referred to as the "wisdom literature."
The Book of Proverbs.
The Book of Ecclesiastes.
WHO WROTE THE BOOK OF PROVERBS?
Proverbs is not a revelation.
The primary author was Solomon.
"The proverbs of Solomon the
son of David, king of Israel." (Proverbs 1:1)
Solomon spoke or compiled 3,000 proverbs and 1,005 songs (see
1 Kings 4:32)
Whether he was both the author and compiler is not known.
Proverbs also contains a collection of sayings from other wise men of ancient
Israel and the Near East.
"The proverbs in this book are not so much
popular sayings as the distillation of the wisdom of teachers who knew
the law of God and were applying its principles to the whole of life."
in Old Testament Student Manual, p13)
Solomon is also considered the author of this book.
- "The words of the Preacher,
the son of David, king in Jerusalem." (Ecclesiastes 1:1)
One of the main themes of Proverbs, "The fear
of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge" (Proverbs 1:7) and
fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" (Proverbs 9:10).
PROVERBS 2:2-6. Wisdom, knowledge, and
understanding comes from the Lord.
WHAT DID SOLOMON MEAN BY THIS?
"The 'fear of the Lord' is frequently spoken of
as part of man's duty (e.g., Ps. 111:10; Eccl. 12:13; Isa. 11:2-3; Luke
1:50); it is also described as 'godly fear' (Heb. 12:28). In such passages
fear is equivalent to reverence, awe, worship, and is therefore an essential
part of the attitude of mind in which we ought to stand toward the All-holy
God." (Bible Dictionary, p672)
As we attain this attitude of reverence and respect towards God, we have
prepared ourselves to learn from His words and His prophets.
HOW HAVE YOUR EXPERIENCES SHOWN SOLOMON TO BE RIGHT?
The Prophet Joseph Smith once said: "Could you
gaze into heaven five minutes, you would know more than you would by reading
all that ever was written on the subject" (TPJS, p324). As we learn to "fear" the Lord, we are opening ourselves up to an increase
in our wisdom and knowledge of the things of heaven, which can best be
learned through revelation and inspiration.
PROVERBS 3:5-7. Trust in the Lord, not in our own understanding.
Proverbs emphasizes that wisdom is a gift of God and is obtained only by
our diligent effort.
WHY DO YOU THINK IT REQUIRES DILIGENT EFFORT TO OBTAIN THIS KNOWLEDGE?
I think knowledge and wisdom is like any other thing in our lives. We appreciate it more and are more likely to utilize it if there has been
effort and diligence applied in obtaining it. It is easy to read
from the scriptures and say to ourselves that the principles contained
therein make sense. But until we read, ponder, pray, and apply these principles, we cannot begin to understand what the Lord
is teaching us.
Again we find emphasis on the source of truth.
WHAT EXPERIENCES HAVE YOU HAD THAT REINFORCE THE WISDOM OF THIS COUNSEL?
In the course of my life I have found myself falling on my face when I "lean"
unto my own understanding and attempt to be "wise" in my own eyes. Several
years ago I served as a counselor in a bishopric. I had a disagreement
with the bishop over the direction of the youth programs in the ward. I insisted that I was right in my opinions and refused to concede to the
bishop's counsel. I allowed this insistence and pride to cause me
to resign the position. Oh, what folly for not trusting in the Lord
and his appointed servants. My resignation did not help the youth
programs, but did lead to spiritual anguish on my part. We must trust
in the Lord. When we do so, he will direct our paths. If we
do not trust the Lord, the paths we take often lead to places we do not
intend to go.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO ACKNOWLEDGE GOD?
"And in nothing doth man offend God, or against
none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things,
and obey not his commandments." (D&C 59:21: )
"And he who receiveth all things with thankfulness
shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto
him, even an hundred fold, yea, more." (D&C 78:19)
WHAT EXPERIENCES HAVE TAUGHT YOU THE IMPORTANCE OF ACKNOWLEDGING GOD AND
BEING THANKFUL TO HIM?
Have there been experiences where you had no other source for help other
than the Lord? Such experiences remind us that we ought to be grateful
at all times.
Other Teachings From Proverbs
"Only by pride cometh contention."
OF THESE THINGS WHICH THE LORD HATES, THREE OF THEM ARE LYING, BEARING
FALSE WITNESS, AND SOWING DISCORD. WHY DO YOU THINK THE LORD IS SO CONCERNED
WITH THE WORDS WE SPEAK?
"But I say unto you, That every idle word that
men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.
For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be
condemned." (Matthew 12:36-37)
"Death and life are in the power of the tongue."
We have the power to build up and tear down by the words we speak. I once read the story of a great educator who was attempting to teach the
power of language. The instructor assigned several individuals to
go up to a selected person, who appeared to be in good health, and ask
that person if he was feeling well and tell him that he did not look well. The individuals followed through on their assignment. In this
the man became ill and nearly died. Obviously, the instructor
suspended this particular experiment in future seminars, but he was left
with an incredible example of the power of our words..
"Heaviness in the heart of man maketh it stoop:
but a good word maketh it glad." (Proverbs 12:25)
Additional verses on the importance of the words we speak:
"Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth
his soul from troubles." (Proverbs 21:23)
"A fool's lips enter into contention, and his
mouth calleth for strokes. A fool's mouth is his
destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul. The words of a talebearer
are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly."
"Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to
the soul, and health to the bones." (Proverbs 16:24)
"Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin."
"But shun profane and vain babblings: for they
will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a
canker." (2 Timothy 2:16-17)
Is not this ancient wisdom as true today as it was 3000 years ago? We know the power that other's words have upon ourselves. We need
to acknowledge this wisdom and use our language for building up and strengthening
"He that walketh with wise men shall be wise:
but a companion of fools shall be destroyed." (Proverbs 13:20)
"He that is of a proud heart stirreth up strife." (Proverbs 28:25)
These verses teach that pride is the root of contention.
HOW HAVE YOU SEEN THIS TO BE TRUE?
HOW CAN UNDERSTANDING THIS PRINCIPLE HELP US AVOID OR RESOLVE CONTENTION?
President Ezra Taft Benson: "The central feature
of pride is enmity—enmity toward God and enmity toward our fellowmen. Enmity
means 'hatred toward, hostility to, or a state of opposition.' It is the
power by which Satan wishes to reign over us.
"Pride is essentially
competitive in nature. We pit our will against God's. When we direct our
pride toward God, it is in the spirit of 'my will and not thine be done.'
As Paul said, they 'seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's.'
"Our will in competition
to God's will allows desires, appetites, and passions to go unbridled.
(See Alma 38:12; 3 Ne.12:30.)
"The proud cannot
accept the authority of God giving direction to their lives. (See Hel.12:6.)
They pit their perceptions of truth against God's great knowledge, their
abilities versus God's priesthood power, their accomplishments against
His mighty works.
"Our enmity toward
God takes on many labels, such as rebellion, hard-heartedness, stiff-neckedness,
unrepentant, puffed up, easily offended, and sign seekers. The proud wish
God would agree with them. They aren't interested in changing their opinions
to agree with God's....
"Pride is a damning
sin in the true sense of that word. It limits or stops progression (see
Alma 12:10-11). The proud are not easily taught (see 1 Nephi 15:3, 7-11).
They won't change their minds to accept truths, because to do so implies
they have been wrong." (Ensign, May 1989, pp4&6)
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT THAT WE CHOOSE GOOD FRIENDS AND ASSOCIATES?
It has been said that what we will be in five years is dependent upon what
we read and those we associate with.
Andrew Carnegie (founder of US Steel) said: "One's
major purpose must be backed up and followed through by continuous effort,
the most important part which consists in the sort of relationship one
maintains with others....
"Every man has a
tendency to take on the mannerisms, beliefs, mental attitude, political
and economic viewpoint, as well as the other traits of the more outspoken
of the men with whom he associates in his daily work." (quoted
in Master Key to Riches)
In their study of influences on youth within the Church, Brent L. Top and
Bruce A. Chadwick concluded: "Our statistical
analysis of the youth's responses showed a strong relationship between
peer pressure and delinquency. Peer example also makes a statistically
One student in their study stated: "Public
schools expose you to very awful, vulgar language and gestures. I'm forced
to see and hear the bad things they do and say. A year ago I had some bad
friends who pressured me to do bad things. At first it wasn't such obviously
bad things. But when I'd lower my standards to their level, they'd lower
theirs more. Finally, with the help of my parents, I went to my bishop
On a more positive note, another student reported:
"My friends have been the strongest pressures
to live the standards of the Church. I know I've been blessed with good
friends who are members of the Church and who have helped me be a better
person. I can see the effects bad friends have on people, and I'm thankful
for the ones I have." (BYU Magazine, Summer 1998, pp44-45)
HOW HAVE YOUR ASSOCIATIONS AFFECTED YOUR LIFE?
HOW CAN WE HELP CHILDREN CHOOSE GOOD FRIENDS?
Brother Top and Brother Chadwick made the following suggestions (Ibid.,
PROVERBS 13:24 &
Encourage teens to participate in good groups, organizations, and activities.
Make the home available as a place to hang out.
Make teenagers' friends feel welcome in the home.
Choose a neighborhood with reputable schools and low rates of delinquency.
Develop friendships with families whose children would be good friends
for your own.
Teach friendship skills.
Set family rules and boundaries.
"A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous
words stir up anger." (Proverbs 15:1)
WHAT DO THESE VERSES SUGGEST ABOUT TEACHING AND DISCIPLINING CHILDREN?
Parents must take an active role in teaching correct principles to their
children and "Reproving betimes with sharpness,
when moved upon by the Holy Ghost" (D&C 121:43).
WHAT BENEFITS HAVE COME IN YOUR LIFE FROM SPEAKING SOFTLY WHEN THERE IS
DISAGREEMENT OR ANGER?
Over the years I have had the opportunity to work at a public service counter. I have learned that arguing or raising your voice to the customer
only inflames a situation. I have learned it is best to acknowledge
the customer's issues and then quietly suggest ways to resolve the problem.
President Gordon B. Hinckley: "We seldom get into
trouble when we speak softly. It is only when we raise our voices that
sparks fly and tiny molehills become great mountains of contention."
(Ensign, June 1971, p72)
ARE THERE OTHER PROVERBS WHICH HAVE MEANING TO YOU?
WHAT DOES THIS VERSE SUGGEST ABOUT BEING WISE AND ACCEPTING REPROOF?
We could go chapter by chapter and find a wealth of wisdom. Following are
a few additional verses from Proverbs:
"Discretion shall preserve thee." (2:11)
Do we often say too much about things we should keep to ourselves.
"The way of the wicked is as darkness:
they know not at what they stumble." (4:19)
"For wisdom is better than rubies;
and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it."
"He becometh poor that dealeth with
a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich." (10:4)
"Understanding is a wellspring of
life unto him that hath it: but the instruction of fools is folly."
"A merry heart doeth good like a
medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones." (17:22)
"Love not sleep, lest thou come to
poverty; open thine eyes, and thou shalt be satisfied with bread."
"It is better to dwell in the wilderness,
than with a contentious and an angry woman." (21:19)
"For as he thinketh in his heart,
so is he." (23:7)
- A simple, yet profound statement on the power of thought.
"Whoso boasteth himself of a false
gift is like clouds and wind without rain." (25:14)
"As coals are to burning coals, and
wood to fire; so is a contentious man to kindle strife." (26:21)
"Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth
the countenance of his friend." (27:17)
"As a roaring lion, and a ranging
bear; so is a wicked ruler over the poor people." (28:15)
"The rod and reproof give wisdom:
but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame." (29:15)
"Where there is no vision, the people
- We are reminded of the importance of planning ahead, setting goals, and
looking to the future.
- I am amazed at the depth of wisdom found in these few statements. Maybe we
should pick out various Proverbs and make them a theme for each week in the way
we conduct our lives.
Theme of the Book of Ecclesiastes: "...the
vanity of all human pursuits when made the chief end, and the consequent
wisdom of making the fear of God and His commandments our main aim."
ECCLESIASTES 3:1-8. To everything there
is a season.
ECCLESIASTES 9:11. The race is not to the swift.
HOW CAN THESE VERSES BE USEFUL TO US?
President Spencer W. Kimball: "One can have
all the blessings if he is in control and takes the experiences in proper
turn: first some limited social get-acquainted contacts, then his mission,
then his courting, then his temple marriage and his schooling and his family,
then his life's work. In any other sequence he could run into difficulty."
(Ensign, Feb. 1975, p.4)
The Law of the Harvest: "Cast thy bread
upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days" (Ecclesiastes
IF THE SWIFT DO NOT WIN THE RACE AND THE STRONG DO NOT WIN THE BATTLE,
WHO DOES WIN?
"Behold, I am the law, and the light. Look unto
me, and endure to the end, and ye shall live; for unto him that endureth
to the end will I give eternal life." (3 Nephi 15:9)
- "A person reaps what he sows; he casts his
bread on the waters and gets a just return. Every good deed will have its
reward, and every unworthy thought will register in some recess of the
mind." (Old Testament Student Manual, p20)
Gospel Doctrine Notebook
- Pick out three Proverbs and write down what they mean to you and ways you
can incorporate the principles into your daily life.
Resources Used In This Lesson
Master Key to Riches by Napoleon Hill.
Old Testament Student Manual - Religion 302.
Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith selected and arranged by Joseph Fielding
Gospel Doctrine Class
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Changes last made on:
17 July 2014