What is a Proverb?

A proverb is a "short saying that expresses a universal truth for practical, righteous living.” Discover some of the most popular Proverbs from the Bible and history as we explore their meaning and significance.
Christianity.com Editorial Staff
What is a Proverb?

What is a Proverb? Biblical Meaning and Examples

A biblical proverb is “a short saying that expresses a universal truth for practical, godly living.” The term “Proverb” comes from the Hebrew root word meaning “to be like”; hence, the book of Proverbs is full of comparisons illustrating how various simple concepts represent the fundamental truths of life.

The purpose of a proverb is to present wisdom in a compact, lasting format. Proverbs are commonly simple yet profound. Many proverbs deal with mundane aspects yet illuminate the deepest truths of life. The Bible refers to Proverbs as “sayings of the wise” (Proverbs 24:23) and “sayings and riddles of the wise” (Proverbs 1:6).

For thousands of years, Proverbs have provided a significant source of practical wisdom for people of all backgrounds and education levels. They have helped millions of people better understand how we should live and the consequences of immoral judgment and behavior. Discover examples of some popular Proverbs below!

 

Popular Proverbs in the Bible

These are some of the most well-known verses from the Book of Proverbs translated as the New International Version.

“Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; 10 then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.” Proverbs 3:9-10

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23

“Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. 27 Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.” Proverbs 4:26-27

“When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” Proverbs 11:2

“Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense.” Proverbs 12:11

“Those who guard their lips preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to ruin.” Proverbs 13:3

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1

“Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Better to be lowly in spirit along with the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud.” Proverbs 16:18-19

“The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Proverbs 18:21

“Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth; an outsider, and not your own lips.” Proverbs 27:2

 


Originally published February 22, 2019.