Proverbs: The Poor Richard’s Almanack

The book of Proverbs is the second book of the third section of the Hebrew Bible (in a section entitled “Writings”) and a book found within the Holy Bible’s Old Testament. The Proverbs found in the Holy Word are described as a ‘collection of collections’. This collection of Biblical wisdom is not the only written proverb in existence. Proverbs themselves are as old as language itself and exist across all religions and societies. The proverb is simply a short pithy saying or expression that states some manner of truth in a clever way. They are normally expressed in a metaphorical manner and normally use formulaic language. These proverbs normally reflect that culture’s view of the world about a topic and convey a certain feeling about some experience.

557px-Poor_Richard's_Almanac_LCCN2002697625One extremely popular example of the proverb is found in the writing of one of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America. Benjamin Franklin worked as a printer from his early teen years till his retirement at 42 years old, and one of his greatest contributions to American culture was his Poor Richard’s Almanack. In this annual publication; (which ran from 1732 to 1757) Franklin presented information, observations, and gave advice. The publication was very popular and among the pages were aphorisms that Franklin adapted from traditional or folk sayings (which are traditionally called proverbs).

I was thinking about one these proverbs the other day when I was thinking about an ordeal happening to someone close to me. One of his most famous proverbs, “God helps them that help themselves,” and this reminds us (especially Christians) that if we want something then we need to put forth the work required to achieve those goals. Even though God blesses us in many ways, we can’t just ask God for something as if he were a Heavenly Santa Claus. If you want a raise at your job; then go get extra training or put in extra work. If you want someone to love you; then be someone worth loving who does things deserving of love. If you want to write a blog; then turn on your computer and start typing away.


Cover of the 1733 edition of the Poor Richard’s Almanack by Benjamin Franklin, Public Domain,

Poor Richard’s Almanac page attributed to Benjamin Franklin, PPOC, Library of Congress, Public Domain.

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