BibleProject | How to Read the Bible


Day 15: The Books of Solomon

What is biblical wisdom literature? Technically, this term can describe the entire Hebrew Bible (see Psalm 119:98-99; 2 Timothy 3:15), but wisdom literature also refers to a specific group of books connected to two things:

1. King Solomon
- Proverbs
- Ecclesiastes
- Song of Songs (Song of Solomon)

2. The themes of wisdom, the “good life,” and the fear of the Lord
- Proverbs
- Ecclesiastes
- Job

Though biblical wisdom literature is connected to these specific themes and the work of King Solomon, the main ideas are rooted in the narratives of Genesis and, specifically, in the garden of Eden in Genesis 1-3 and the story of Abraham. These stories introduce and unpack the core concepts of good and bad, blessing and curse, death and life, and the fear of Yahweh.

The wisest king of Israel, King Solomon, is associated with three books of the Bible: Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs. Each book offers a unique perspective on how humans can rule with wisdom and the fear of the Lord.

Each of these books takes Solomon’s story as a universal paradigm, an Adam and Eve story, so that his failure reenacts all humanity’s experience. These books focus on universal questions like:

- How can humans access the good life of Eden that comes as a gift from God?
- How can humans learn to live by the wisdom and the fear of Yahweh in all of life’s diverse seasons and circumstances?
- How can we process the failure of wisdom, the limits of mortality, and God’s inscrutability in our search for wisdom and life?
- Is there any hope for humanity to truly embrace God’s wisdom and live by it?

In today’s video, we’ll briefly explore how the message of each book fits into the overall story of the Bible.