Lesson 113: Proverbs 1–9

“Lesson 113: Proverbs 1–9,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2014)

“Lesson 113,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual

Lesson 113

Proverbs 1–9


The book of Proverbs is a collection of short sayings that express truths about life, human nature, and the consequences of righteous and wicked behaviors. This lesson provides teaching ideas for some of the proverbs contained in Proverbs 1–9 concerning the importance of seeking wisdom and trusting in the Lord.

Suggestions for Teaching

Proverbs 1–9

The proverbs counsel us to seek wisdom and trust in the Lord

Ask students to think of a favorite quote or short phrase of wisdom that they know. Ask a few students to share their phrase with the class.

Explain that a proverb is a short saying that is intended to teach a lesson about life. The book of Proverbs is a collection of many sayings of wisdom collected by the Israelites. Many of the proverbs are attributed to King Solomon.

Invite a student to read Proverbs 1:1–4 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for words and phrases that describe the purposes of these proverbs.

  • What is the purpose of the proverbs? (To provide wisdom, instruction, and understanding.)

Ask a student to read Proverbs 1:7 aloud. Invite the class to follow along and look for one of the key elements in gaining knowledge.

  • Why do you think some passages in the Bible instruct us to love and trust the Lord with all our hearts, but this passage tells us to fear the Lord?

  • What does it mean to fear the Lord? (If students have trouble answering this question, invite them to look in verse 7, footnote a, to find an alternate meaning for the phrase “fear of the Lord” [“reverence of the Lord”].)

  • What principle can you identify from this verse? (Students may use different words, but make sure they identify the following principle: If we have reverence for the Lord and His teachings, then He will bless us with knowledge and wisdom.)

To help students understand how we can show reverence for the Lord and His teachings, invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President David O. McKay. Ask students to listen for what it means to have reverence for the Lord.

President David O. McKay

“Reverence is profound respect mingled with love. … [One writer] says it is ‘the highest of human feelings.’ …

“Reverence embraces regard, deference, honor, and esteem” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: David O. McKay [2003], 30).

  • How does this statement help us understand what it means to have reverence for the Lord and His teachings?

  • How can showing reverence for the Lord and His teachings help us receive knowledge and wisdom?

To help students consider the value of wisdom, ask:

  • Do you think it is possible to be knowledgeable or well educated but not wise?

  • What are some examples of this? (You might give an example of a medical doctor who understands the detrimental health effects of smoking cigarettes yet still chooses to smoke.)

  • What do you think is the difference between knowledge and wisdom?

Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President McKay. Ask students to listen for what it means to be wise.

President David O. McKay

“Gaining knowledge is one thing, and applying it [is] quite another. Wisdom is the right application of knowledge, and true education—the education for which the Church stands—is the application of knowledge to the development of a noble and Godlike character” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1968, 93–94).

  • How would you summarize what it means to be wise?

Create the following chart as a handout for students:

handout, seeking wisdom

Scripture reference

Blessings of seeking wisdom

Proverbs 2:10–15

Proverbs 3:13–18, 35

Proverbs 4:5–9

Assign students to work in pairs, and ask them to study the scripture references on the handout together. As they study, ask them to look for ways we can be blessed by seeking wisdom and to write down what they find in the right-hand column of their handout. You may want to explain that to be “froward in their paths” (verse 15) means to be wayward or to go in a direction opposite of what is expected.

After students have had sufficient time to complete the handout, write the following incomplete principle on the board: If we seek wisdom, then …

  • Based on what you learned in your study, how would you complete this principle? (Students may give a variety of answers. Complete the principle on the board so it conveys the following truth: If we seek wisdom, then we can avoid sin and enjoy happiness and peace.)

  • What are some examples you have seen of how seeking wisdom can help us avoid sin and enjoy happiness and peace?

You may want to testify of the blessings that come from seeking wisdom. Invite students to seek wisdom by living according to the truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

To prepare the class to identify a principle in Proverbs 3, invite two students to each read aloud one of the following scenarios. Ask the class to listen for what the individuals in these scenarios have in common.

  1. A Latter-day Saint young man is attracted to a young woman who does not believe in the Lord’s standards concerning the law of chastity. The young man’s parents have asked him not to spend time with her anymore, explaining that in their prayers and discussions together they have had uneasy feelings about his relationship with her. The young man feels his parents are overreacting, and he becomes upset with them.

  2. A Latter-day Saint young woman has prepared for years to try out for an exclusive singing and dancing performance group. She prays and asks Heavenly Father to help her perform well so she can become part of the group. Following the tryouts she learns that she was not invited to join the group, and she feels hurt and frustrated. She wonders why Heavenly Father did not answer her prayers in the way she wanted Him to.

  • In each of these scenarios, what kind of decision is the person faced with? (Students may give a variety of answers, but be sure to emphasize that in each case, the person must decide whether he or she will trust in the Lord or in his or her own reasoning.)

  • What are some other situations in which we might have to decide whether we will trust in the Lord over our own reasoning?

Ask a student to read Proverbs 3:5–7 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for how we are to trust in the Lord and why we should trust in Him.

  • How are we to trust in the Lord?

  • What do you think it means to trust in the Lord with all our heart and lean not unto our own understanding?

  • According to verse 6, what blessing is promised to those who trust in the Lord with all their heart?

  • How would you state a principle from Proverbs 3:5–6 using the words if and then? (Students may identify a variety of principles, but make sure to emphasize that if we trust in the Lord with all our heart, then He will direct our paths.)

Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Ask the class to listen for a way we can show the Lord we trust in Him with all our heart.

Elder Richard G. Scott

“Our Father in Heaven has invited you to express your needs, hopes, and desires unto Him. That should not be done in a spirit of negotiation, but rather as a willingness to obey His will no matter what direction that takes. His invitation, ‘Ask, and ye shall receive’ (3 Ne. 27:29) does not assure that you will get what you want. It does guarantee that, if worthy, you will get what you need, as judged by a Father that loves you perfectly, who wants your eternal happiness even more than do you” (“Trust in the Lord,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 17).

  • According to this statement, how can we show the Lord that we trust Him with all our heart?

Invite students to again read aloud the two scenarios presented earlier. After each scenario is read, ask the class to explain how the person in the scenario can place his or her trust in the Lord and how the person may be directed to paths of happiness as a result.

Ask students to reflect on a time in their lives when they trusted in the Lord and felt that He directed their path. Invite students to testify of the importance of trusting in the Lord and perhaps share the experience they thought of. (Caution students not to share anything that is sacred or too personal.) As students share experiences, you may want to ask follow-up questions such as the following:

  • As you trusted in the Lord, how did you know that He was directing your path?

  • How has this experience helped you to have greater trust in the Lord?

  • How might this experience influence the way you respond in the future when you must decide between trusting in the Lord and depending on your own reasoning?

Summarize Proverbs 4–9 by explaining that these chapters encourage us to seek wisdom, warn against associating with those who are immoral, and strongly condemn a prideful heart, dishonesty, murder, hardheartedness, slander, gossip, and contention (see Proverbs 6:16–19). If time permits, you might want to suggest that students mark in Proverbs 6:16–19 the six things the Lord hates.

Conclude by sharing your testimony of the principle that the Lord will direct our paths as we trust in Him with all our heart. Invite students to consider how they can show greater trust in the Lord, and encourage them to do so.

scripture mastery icon
Scripture Mastery—Proverbs 3:5–6

Invite students to recite together Proverbs 3:5–6. Then ask:

  • What do you think is the meaning of the phrase “in all thy ways acknowledge him”? How can we do this each day?

Give students a card or a piece of paper and ask them to fold it in half. Invite them to write Acknowledge Him at the top of one column and He shall direct thy paths at the top of the other. Invite students to set a goal to record on the card ways they acknowledge the Lord and ways that He directs their paths. Invite them to determine a span of time they would like to keep this record. You might give students time in a later class to share their experiences with recording how they acknowledged the Lord and how He directed their paths.

Commentary and Background Information

Proverbs 6:16–19. “These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him”

“Seven is a number that symbolizes completeness; this list covers most abominable attitudes and acts, including pride, lying, murder, malicious thought, eagerness for evil, false testimony, and raising dissension. These generate most of the ills of society” (Ellis T. Rasmussen, A Latter-Day Commentary On The Old Testament [1993], 474).