Here we have another of the purposes for the book of Proverbs. Solomon tells us that part of the reason for this book is to help us with understanding four ways that wisdom will be communicated to us throughout this book.
First we see it is to understand "a proverb." The word for proverb here is "masal." It means a short, pithy saying, a prophetic utterance usually in the form of comparisons. If we are going to learn wisdom from this book, we will need to approach it as a collection of sayings that will be comparisons of things. This can be positive comparisons and negative ones. But to understand the wisdom God wants us to grasp - we are going to need to be able to compare things and learn from them. Often we will find a comparison in nature - that has a saying of how that aspect of nature shows a spiritual comparison to a wise man or a fool.
Second we see that we will have "figures" put before us. Meliysah is the Hebrew word used here and it refers to a mocking or taunting expression. God's Word is going to use satire to describe some things to us. We will find that the proud and arrogant, the unteachable, the ones who reject reproof and rebuke are going to be mocked and and subject to satire. We should learn from these satires - but be sure to see them for what they are - satire and not a statement of absolute fact.
Third we will run into the words of the wise. These is just simply things that wise people say to us. We will have godly advice handed to us in very plain language. There is no mystery to what is being said. It is as plain as the nose on our faces - and is to be taken in the plainest sense.
Finally, there are the riddles of the wise. Hiydah, the Hebrew word here means an enigma. These were riddles - and were used at times by the wise men of the day to make their students think about what they were saying - to search it out so as to understand the wisdom that the wise man was seeking to impart. Of the four types of statements used in Proverbs, these will probably be the most difficult to understand.
What we have in Proverbs is a very creative book that will seek to teach us God's wisdom. We are forewarned though that at times these sayings will need to be understood in the literary form in which they are written. We cannot take everything in Proverbs at a face value - and come away with the wisdom God desires to give us. There will be times when we will have to work a little (honestly sometimes we will have to work a lot) - to get the meaning of what is being said - and the wisdom it seeks to impart. What I will say is that even when it takes time - you will be blessed by the wisdom offered in this book. It is well worth the time and effort needed to dig out all that God has for us. So, let's make a commitment here and now to search this book and learn to mine all the treasures that are within it. The outcome will be precious gems of wisdom that will bless us, not just for a day, but for a lifetime.