Interesting Words in Proverbs

As I introduce a new series on the book of Proverbs, I thought it might be helpful to define some of the words found often in the book that I think are interesting.

I am posting this at the beginning of a 31-day series of posts on Proverbs. I will update this post as I go through the month. Therefore, you might want to come back to this one when the month is over to see the updates.


The words wisdom, wise, wiser, and wisely are found 119 times in the book of Proverbs. The vast majority of the time it is a Hebrew word that can also be translated as skill.

What does wisdom (typically thought of as applied knowledge) and skill have to do with one another? They are both learned. I think this is one of the biggest lessons of Proverbs: you aren’t expected to know everything, but you can acquire wisdom by applying the principles found in the book of Proverbs and the rest of the Bible.


Scorner is not a word we use regularly today, but we have all experienced the actions of a scorner. The base word means to talk arrogantly, to boast, to mock, and (my favorite) to make mouths at.

You probably never did this yourself, but you may have seen this in school. The teacher tells another student to do something they don’t want to do and the student turns around to his friends and mimics the teacher talking with a mocking smirk or head wag. That is exactly the idea of this word scorner: to move the lips mockingly.


This word is interesting in that, in the Bible, the underlying Hebrew word is only ever found in the book of Proverbs. It means lazy, slothful, sluggish.

This is not talking about someone who is taking a day off. But it is a descriptive word meaning someone who is like this as

Hero Worship or Motivation

My friend David Cross passed away last year. He was a great encouragement to me. Pastor Cross was a man who consistently lived out what he believed about the Bible. Was he perfect? According to the Bible, no, he was not. Did I ever personally find fault in him? Not that I can remember.

He was the long-time pastor of the church my family and I attend. Though I only knew him well the last 4 years of his life, I first met him 15 years before he passed away. During the early years of knowing Pastor Cross I enjoyed seeing his consistency in the ministry though I was not around him regularly. During the last 4 years, when I attended his church, my respect for him grew even more.

I think it is easy to overlook the faults of those we consider to be heroes. And we certainly should not get our eyes off of Christ and place the actions and words of men above the actions of Christ and the words of the Bible. However, we are told in the Bible to be good examples to others (1 Timothy 4:12; 1 Peter 5:3). Therefore, I think we should look to others who are good examples for us.

Too Much Hero Worship

I heard someone say one time that they did not enjoy going to the church because of the “hero worship” that went on there. My friend was specifically talking about the praise that was given to Pastor Cross for his many years of service at the church. But the person generalized the point about hero worship to apply to everything that the pastor did. This person felt like you could not go to the church if you did not worship the pastor.

I was confused and surprised by his comments. I certainly did not feel like anyone made worshiping the pastor a requirement to be in the church. But as I thought about my friend’s comments more I think I know what might cause that attitude.

Motivation or Conviction?

If you see another person’s actions (or lifestyle) as a positive motivation for you then you don’t necessarily see your relationship with the person as hero worship. (When I use the term “hero worship” here I mean it in the negative connotation that my friend meant it.) You view the person’s good example as an encouragement and motivation for you to do right in your own life.

However, if the lifestyle of the one who you feel others are worshiping is convicting to you, then I can see where you may want an excuse to step away and get out from under the influence of that person.

As stated earlier, there is no question about placing other people above our respect and reverence for the Bible and our Lord Jesus. We probably all know of inordinate loyalty to a man. Sadly I have seen a few preachers through the years who have amassed a group of people who would blindly follow them anywhere and do anything for them. Many times this is demonstrated by a dictatorial spirit. This is not the type of good example I am talking about.

What we need are people in our lives who are more spiritually mature and can help encourage us to live right and do right. We should follow good examples. Furthermore, we should be good examples.

If you start to be convicted by the life of another Christian and think that there is hero worship going on, you should step back and check your own reasons for feeling this way. Is it because there is something really wrong with the other person? Or is it because God is using that other Christian to bring conviction to you?

How to Use a Strong’s Concordance

If you’ve done much Bible study you have surely run across Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. It is a great book. But, being familiar with Strong’s and knowing how to use Strong’s may be two very different things for you.

Strong's book coverTwo Main Uses

There are two main ways to use a Strong’s Concordance. One is to use it to help you find verses where you know one of the words in the verse. The other primary use is finding information about a word in your Bible that you are interested in.

Find Verses When You Know a Word

If you know any word that appears in a verse you are able to find the verse you want using a Strong’s Concordance. This is assuming at least two things: you actually know the word and not a mis-remembered derivative, and that the word is in the King James Version of the Bible. Strong’s contains every word in the King James Bible. Knowing any word in the verse will help you find the verse, but it is much easier to do if you pick a less common word.

If, for example, we wanted to find the verse that said something like, “effectual fervent prayer” does something. Maybe I don’t remember the rest of the verse, but I can at least remember these three words. Prayer is probably the most common of the three words. So looking up “effectual” or “fervent” would probably yield few results. (They each occur fewer than 10 times).

In the front section of a Strong’s Concordance (which is about 1/2 the book) is list of all the words in the Bible. Look up the word “effectual” (or “fervent”) and see if you can find a verse that fits the one you were looking for. Once you do you can find that the reference is for James 5:16.

Find More Information About a Word

As you are reading in your Bible you may come across a word that you would like to know more about. Maybe you suspect that it is related to another word. Or, you aren’t sure you understand the definition of a word. While Strong’s Concordance is not necessarily a dictionary, it is a good place to start in learning about a word. You are able to look at all the ways that same Hebrew or Greek word is translated in the Bible and get a very good picture of what the word means.

To do this you first find the word you are interested in. This is done the same way as above when looking for a verse. Find the word alphabetically listed in the first part of the concordance. Then find the listing for the verse where your word appears. Take note that the English word you are looking at may fit several original words. You have to look through the columns to find the exact reference for the word you are interested in.

Over to the side margin of the column where the word and its reference appears will be a number. If you are in the Old Testament, the word will be translated from Hebrew. Therefore the number you see in the margin will point you to the Hebrew section of the concordance. If your word comes from the New Testament, then the number will appear in the Greek section of the book. It is important to know which section to look in because most of the numbers can be found in 2 places. You need to pay attention to whether the word is a Hebrew or Greek word.

Once you find the number corresponding to the word that interests you, then you can find the word in the corresponding section towards the back of Strong’s. Now look at all the different ways that word can be translated. You will also see what that word is related to. Looking up a couple of parent words may give you a broader understanding of the original word.

It is an interesting study to find a word and trace every use of that word in the Bible. Strong’s can help you do that.

An Easier Way

While knowing how to use the paper book is helpful, there is a much easier way to get this information. There are many good apps for phones or tablets that contain all the standard Strong’s information. The app I use is called MySword for Android. There are certainly many apps for iPhones and Windows phones that also contain Stronhg’s information. If I am at my computer, my website of choice for looking up Strong’s numbers and explanations is BlueLetterBible. It gives you many more tools to choose from besides Strong’s. There are some great Bible dictionaries there too.

Strong’s Dictionary

While I said that the Strong’s Concordance is not a dictionary, James Strong did write one for us. I have never used a paper copy of this book, but I am sure this is equivalent to the information I get in the tools from MySword and BlueLetterBible.

I enjoyed teaching this information to a Sunday School class this weekend and thought you might enjoy it too.

Alliteration: Helpful or Not?

I have a love-hate relationship with alliteration. Mostly hate. I am talking about when alliteration is used in sermon outlines and Sunday school lessons. I see the value in alliteration in poetry—when applied by a skilled writer.


Typically we think of alliteration as the use of the same beginning letter for the points in a message. This can be a consonant or vowel sound, though most of the time it is a consonant sound. Also, alliteration is usually related to the sound of the words. It is not necessary that the letters themselves be the same.


One of the benefits to alliteration is that it can actually be helpful in remembering the points of a message. There have been studies that show there is greater and quicker recall of information when paired with alliteration.


However, if words are manhandled to make them fit an alliteration scheme, then the whole idea usually does not work as well as the speaker or writer would hope. An example of this is the Sunday school lesson I am studying for tomorrow. There are 14 pages of notes! The short version of the notes—which will be handed out to the students—has 4 big points and 4 sub-points under each one. All of these points are alliterated to each set of 4 on their outline level. That makes 16 words that are alliterated. With that many words that are supposedly important, I doubt anyone will walk out of class tomorrow with the ability to remember even the 4 big points.


In my recent study of the book of James I looked at outlines written by various authors. Many of them had an alliterated outline. Certainly there is nothing wrong with alliteration if it stays true to the text. But some of these outlines seem to manipulate the meaning of the text so that the author can keep his cute alliteration.


Alliteration is also not helpful as a memory tool when the speaker uses an obscure or marginal word that the listeners aren’t going to remember anyway. By the way, multivocal means “having more than one meaning.” The fact that I had to look the word up and then have to explain it should be a sign that it is a terrible word to use for alliteration purposes.

Main Message

I am not totally against alliteration. I use it myself sometimes. But it should not be forced to the point that you obscure the meaning of your message. And certainly the meaning of the Bible text should never be manipulated just so that it will fit with your alliteration.

[Yes, I intentionally did some bad alliteration with my paragraph headings. I would be curious as to how you might alliterate the points in this article: either better or painfully worse. Leave a comment below with your alliteration or comments on the subject.]

James: Key Verses

Each chapter in the book of James has a two to four themes. If you want to learn the content of the book of James you can learn the themes along with key verses which will help you know what is contained in each chapter and in the book.

I would encourage you to commit these verses to memory. Learning key verses for books of the Bible will help you know what is contained in the book. And, in this case, each of these verses will give you a greater idea of what is in each chapter.

James 1

Greeting — James 1:1

James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.

Trails and Temptations — James 1:12

Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.

Doers and Not Hearers Only — James 1:22

But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

James 2

Partiality — James 2:1

My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.

Faith Without Works — James 2:14

What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?

James 3

Controlling the Tongue — James 3:5

Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!

Wisdom — James 3:17

But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.

James 4

Worldliness — James 4:4

Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

Judging One Another — James 4:11

Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge.

Boasting About Future — James 4:14

Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.

James 5

Warnings to the Rich — James 5:1

Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.

Patience in Afflictions — James 5:8

Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.

Prayer — James 5:16

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

Wandering Christians — James 5:20

Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.

Image with link to a memory course for the book of James.While I have listed these as the key verses to help you learn the topics in each chapter, there could be other verses that you may find to be better in helping you remember each chapter’s content. If you do have another verse that you prefer, post that in the comments below. I am curious as to what stands out as important to others.

For the most part, this list came from a memorization course on the book of James that I am doing. Check out the Master of Memory course if you would like to memorize the book as well.