(1) The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel: (2) To know wisdom and instruction, To discern the sayings of understanding, (3) To receive instruction in wise behavior, Righteousness, justice and equity; (4) To give prudence to the naive, To the youth knowledge and discretion, (5) A wise man will hear and increase in learning, And a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel, (6) To understand a proverb and a figure, The words of the wise and their riddles. (Proverbs 1:1-6)
As we delve into our study of the book of Proverbs, it might be a good idea to pause and reflect on what it is that we are studying.
What is a Proverb? The Oxford dictionary defines it as “a short pithy saying in general use, stating a general truth or piece of advice”.
Strong’s defines it this way : “In some original sense of superiority in mental action; properly a pithy maxim, usually of a metaphorical nature; hence a simile (as an adage, poem, discourse): – byword, like, parable, proverb”.
I like Strong’s definition as it relates to the study of God’s word. It gives the sense that accepting and applying Proverbial instruction will lead to a superior thought pattern, i.e. Godly Wisdom leading to Godly living.
As we examine this week’s passage, we see that Solomon tells us exactly what his purpose is for writing and he gives us the benefits we can expect by following the advice given.
The Purpose (Verses 2-4)
To give instruction in wisdom so that one might gain:
- If I was asked to point to one thing that I believe is lacking in our Christian circles today, it would be the lack of discernment and consequently, understanding. It is worrisome to me because it is not only lacking in young Christians but also in those who are, or should be mature in their faith.
- We have at our fingertips so many resources today that I am afraid we have become somewhat lackadaisical in our study. Too often we rely on what some “expert” thinks, rather than taking the time to dig and discover for ourselves. I am not knocking biblical commentary, it is a useful tool for studying God’s word. I use it myself and am thankful for it.
- Something that I learned early in my Christian walk: let scripture interpret scripture. I am concerned that we rely on commentary without first taking the time to search what God’s word has to say about itself. If we haven’t first studied the scriptures for ourselves, how can we know if the commentary (or any other extra-Biblical writings) we are trusting line up with the true meaning of God’s Word? [Let me say here that this caution also applies to Bible translations. There are some modern so called translations in which the writer has taken great liberty with the scriptures, giving personal interpretation rather than true translation from the original languages].
- There are many resources for study starting with the cross references in your bible. One of the best resources, I would even say a “must have” is a good concordance. Another great tool is a bible dictionary. You can find all of these resources on line.
- Another reason many of us are not growing in discernment and understanding is that we don’t seek the instruction of the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 2:10-13 says “For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God. which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words”.
Now we come to the reason that developing discernment and understanding is so important. Solomon says that with discernment and understanding we will receive the instruction needed for wise behavior. In other words, how to live lives of righteousness, justice and equality.
- Solomon goes on to tell us that discernment and understanding are necessary for discipleship. Look at verse 4. “To give prudence to the naive, To the youth knowledge and discretion”. How can we hope to teach and train in what we don’t have? Titus 2 tells us we are obliged to teach those who are younger (either in spiritual maturity or in age) to live wisely. If we aren’t growing ourselves we can hardly be an model to them.
The Benefit (Verses 5-6)
By studying and accepting the truths of scripture (which is God’s pure and infallible word), and gaining understanding (through the instruction and power of the Holy Spirit), the wise (you and I) can be assured that we will grow in knowledge and wisdom; that we can acquire what Strongs describes as “a sense of superiority in mental action“.
How Did It Go?
In the introduction last week, you were given the steps for the method we will be using throughout this study. In the comments section, please share (only as much as you are comfortable with) how you applied the steps to the assigned passage for this week and/or your overall experience.
- Read it – Read the through passage – often.
- How often did you read the passage?)
- Pray/Meditate on it – Ask the Holy Spirit to give you insight and understanding, then listen for Him to speak to your spirit. (John 14:16-17, 16:13)
Did you take time to pray before you read the passage asking the Holy Spirit to give you understanding?
- Examine it – Study resources: Biblical cross references, other trusted translations, bible dictionary, trusted commentary.
Did you look for and mark key words or phrases in the passage? Did you look for parallel (cross reference) verses? Did you use other study resources? If so, what were they.
- Apply it – Remember there is only ONE interpretation of scripture but there can be numerous applications. Make note of specific ways you can put what you have learned into practice.
- What are some ways you put what you learned into action?
How can what you learned from the passage translate into your growing in discernment and understanding?
Study Assignment for Next week:
Read Proverbs 1:7
Look up the Hebrew meaning for the following words: *
If you have a favorite study resource, please share