Dr. A. C. Gaebelein has written this helpful analysis of
the literary structure of Proverbs.
The literary form of these Proverbs is mostly in the form of couplets. The two clauses of the couplet are generally related to each other by what has been termed parallelism, according to Hebrew poetry. (Hebrew poetry does not have rhyme or meter as our poetry does. Hebrew poetry consists of a parallelism of ideas.) Three kinds of parallelism have been pointed out:
1. Synonymous Parallelism. Here the second clause restates what is given in the first clause. (It expresses the same thought in a different way.)
Judgments are prepared for scorners, And stripes for the back of fools [Prov. 19:29].
2. Antithetic (Contrast) Parallelism. Here a truth, which is stated in the first clause, is made stronger in the second clause by contrast with an opposite truth.
The light of the righteous rejoiceth, But the lamp of the wicked shall be put out [Prov. 13:9].
(You can see that the second statement is stating the same truth but from the opposite point of view by way of contrast.)
3. Synthetic Parallelism. The second clause develops the thought of the first.
The terror of a king is as the roaring of a lion; He that provoketh him to anger sinneth against his own life
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