1. Wisdom (the ability to judge and act according to God’s directives) is the most valuable of assets.
2. Wisdom is available to anyone, but the price is high.
3. Wisdom originates in God, not self, and comes by attention to instruction.
4. Wisdom and righteousness go together. It is good to be wise, and it is wise to be good.
The Way of Wisdom
To know wisdom and instruction, To perceive the words of understanding. (Proverbs 1:2)
The Hebrew word, “to know.” The verb (yada’) here means “to gain knowledge of” or “to become wise in.” This term refers to experiential knowledge, not just cognitive knowledge; it includes the intellectual assimilation and practical use of what is acquired.
The noun “wisdom” (khokhmah) could be nuanced “moral skill.” It refers to “skill” that produces something of value. It is used in reference to the skill of seamen (Ps 107:27); capabilities of administrators (1 Kgs 3:28); abilities of weavers (Exod 35:26) or skill of craftsmen (Exod 31:6).
In the realm of moral living, it refers to skill in living – one lives life with moral skill so that something of lasting value is produced from one’s life.
The Hebrew “instruction.” The noun (musar) has a three-fold range of meanings:
(1) physical or parental: “discipline; chastisement”
(2) verbal: “warning; exhortation” and
(3) moral: “training; instruction.” Its parallelism with (khokhmah, “wisdom, moral skill”)
Suggests that it refers to moral training or instruction that the Book of Proverbs offers to its readers. This instruction consists of wisdom acquired by observing the consequences of foolish actions in others and developing the ability to control the natural inclination to folly. This sometimes comes through experiencing chastisement from God. Sensing something of this subtle distinction, the Greek word for “child-training.”
Another purpose of proverbs: is to compare and to make proper evaluation of the sayings of the wise.
The term (bin, “to discern”) refers to the ability to make distinctions between things. This is illustrated by its derivatives:
The related preposition means “between” and the related noun means “space between.” So the verb refers to the ability to discern between moral options.
The Hebrew “words of discernment.” The noun (binah, “discernment”) functions as an attributive in close association.: “discerning words” or “wise sayings.”
This noun is a cognate accusative of the infinitive of the same root (léhavin, “to discern”).
The phrase “to discern words of discernment” refers to the ability
(1) to distinguish truth from falsehood or
(2) to understand wise sayings, such as in Proverbs.