In a study I have been working on it became useful to properly understand the teachings in the Wisdom literature of the Old Testament.  I discovered that many passages simply remark upon the way things are while others make outright commands.

Examples of passages simply stating how things are:

Proverbs 6.32-35 ‘He who commits adultery lacks sense; he who does it destroys himself…’

Proverbs 9.7-9 ‘Whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse, and he who reproves a wicked man incurs injury…’

Ecclesiastes 3.1-8 ‘For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…’

Examples of passages stating commands:

Proverbs 19.18 ‘Discipline your son, for there is hope; do not set your heart on putting him to death.’

Proverbs 22.6 ‘Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.’

Proverbs 22.22-28 ‘Do not rob the poor, because he is poor, or crush the afflicted at the gate…’


Wisdom can be gained from passages that simply say how things are.  They offer insight into what can happen and what does happen.  The instruction such passages offer can be heeded, or not, without one committing what we today call ‘sin’.


Wisdom taught in the passages which command are not the same.  These truths are universal.  It would be sin to disobey them (but let them be understood in their proper context so that they can be translated and heeded correctly).


Implied actions, or wisdom gained by the teachings of the passages which only comment on the way the world works, may be nullified by other teachings in the Bible.  Even some of the command passages within the Wisdom literature counteract the implied action passages.


Example of such nullification:

Proverbs 6.34 states that a man will seek revenge upon another if his wife is taken advantage of.  This demonstrates the natural and seemingly good action for a man to take in such a situation.


Proverbs 20.22, 24.17, 25.21-22 all command man not to avenge wrong and to instead love their enemy.  This command is what must be obeyed, while Proverbs 6.34 still can be used to understand and prevent wrong action with preemptive teaching and understanding.

Commands > Statements with Implications