A hotly-debated topic in deeper studies of Proverbs is the question of the book's arrangement. When I first started teaching the book, decades ago, it was a "given" that each verse of most of chapters 10-30 at least was largely without immediate context. The rule we all apply to other portions of Scripture — pay close attention to the immediate context! — simply does not often obtain here. Hence, Proverbs 10:1 is a complete thought, 10:2 is another, 10:3 yet another, and so on.
This dictum has been challenged by several scholars and commentators. Duane Garrett makes arrangements for the book; and that deep and wonderful Biblical scholar Bruce Waltke (who I admire deeply, but who has driven me a bit nuts — more than once), sees arrangements throughout the book.
The problem, however, is as Tremper Longman observes: these arrangements vary from scholar to scholar, and seem to reflect the ingenuity of the individual commentator more than Solomon's design.
My own position is that as a rule I do not see arrangement throughout those chapters, yet it is (to me) undeniable that some passages have related themes. I'll read (say) Garrett, and say to myself from verse to verse, "Okay... yes... maybe... what?!!" But even among the "yeses" and the "maybes," the tantalizing question is: how much of these thematic groups was Solomon's design, and how far does each verse advance the thought of how large a section?
These verses stood out to me recently as an example:
10 The name of the LORD is a strong tower;Now, each verse stands on its own two feet, makes perfect sense, and could be expounded irrespective of the others.
the righteous man runs into it and is safe.
11 A rich man's wealth is his strong city,
and like a high wall in his imagination.
12 Before destruction a man's heart is haughty,
but humility comes before honor.
Yet, is there more to it? Do the three verses join to communicate a single, complex thought? If so, here's how the thought might develop:
Verse ten depicts the man who apparently has nothing — materially. Yet he has a lively faith in Yahweh. You can't see it, but he has a strong tower in the name of Yahweh. And so, in reality, though having no visible means of support, he has limitless and matchless invisible means of support.
Verse eleven, by contrast, portrays the man who apparently has everything — materially. What you can see looks like a fortress, like a strong city. He seems to have vast and powerful means of support. However, the situation is only so in his imagination. He sees it that way. But he is wrong.
Verse twelve comments chiastically (as it were) on both of those verses, beginning with the latter (v. 11), ending with the former (v. 10). The rich man's heart is haughty, imagining that he has great and real resources and wealth and provisions, and resting on them alone. But he (and they) are doomed to destruction.
By contrast, the humble man who trusts in the name of Yahweh alone is headed — not for the eternal humiliation and destruction of the rich materialist, but — for everlasting honor.
Now, there it is. Clever? I suppose. Biblical? Beyond all doubt.
But was that Solomon's intent? That's the big question.
I see some hints that it was.
There are two connections which are more easily seen in Hebrew than in English. "Strong" in v. 10 is the word `ōz, the same word as "strong" in v. 11. Also, and less visibly in English, "and is safe" in v. 10 translates a form of the Hebrew verb śāgab. It's the idea of being safe by being put up in an inaccessibly high place. It is seen again in "high" in v. 11. Same verb, same stem (niph`al, for any fellow Hebrewiacs).
I don't see any direct verbal connection with verse 12, though there is a semantic one. The word for "haughty" means "high, lofty" — a different word, but arguably a synonym for "high" in vv. 11-12.
So while I'd not argue that it's a slam-dunk that Solomon meant these three stand-alone proverbs to unite to tell a single tale, I'd certainly say that (A) he could well have, and (B) they quite handily do.