Proverbs 1:1-4 The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel; To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding; To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity; To give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion.
Daniel Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines “proverb”: “In Scripture, it sometimes signifies a moral sentence or maxim (an established principle) that is enigmatical (relating to or containing a riddle); a dark saying of the wise that requires interpretation.” The proverbs were collected and written by Solomon except for the last two chapters which were written by Agur and King Lemuel. The five-fold purpose of the book of proverbs is given to us in the first four verses here in Chapter One.
“To know wisdom and instruction”; the word translated “wisdom” here means “good sense”. If you want wisdom the Bible says that you should pray for it (Jam 1:5). But wisdom also comes through life experiences. Therefore if you are to be truly wise then you must receive instruction from God’s Word, receive instruction from the experiences of life, and pray that God would grant His holy wisdom to put all of this together. Wisdom is the wise use or exercise of knowledge that is received through instruction.
“To perceive the words of understanding”; the word translated “perceive” here means “to separate mentally; to understand”. Therefore this second purpose for the Book of Proverbs is to understand the importance of understanding. Understanding and wisdom are used many times in this book, and many times together, but they are not synonymous. Wisdom comes from understanding; it is built upon it. If we are to receive instruction from our experiences then there must come an understanding of the issues of life.
“To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity”; the word “wisdom” here comes from a different Hebrew word which means “to be circumspect”. It refers to acting wisely or prudently. The word “judgment” comes from a word that means to be right from which we get “righteous”. Wisdom and righteousness in this book are almost synonymous with each other. To do what is right is wise and to be wise is to do what is right.
The word translated “judgment” here means “verdict” which refers to your decisions. You will see in the Word of God that righteousness and judgment are found together many times. Your righteousness refers to your having right principles (they come from the Bible). Your judgment refers to making right decisions which should be based upon your principles.
If you are going to be wise you must receive instruction from somewhere. The best place to receive instruction is from the Lord Himself. He has given you this book in His Word to teach you things about life so that you do not have to always learn from your mistakes. He has given you access to the Throne of Grace to ask for and receive the wisdom to think, to choose, and to do that which is right and wise. Proverbs will teach you things to keep you from falling into the traps of the deceptions of the world and the devil.
You also need to receive and understand instruction and learn wisdom to be wise in helping others. God gives you instruction, understanding, and wisdom so that you can teach and train others. This is the wisest use of wisdom; to invest in the lives of others so as to give them the ability to improve and prosper in their lives. -Preacher