Been too long since I baked up some doughnut holes, so I think it only makes sense to start back at the beginning with Proverbs 1. The opening paragraph acts as a kind of mission statement or the intro to a term paper. Let’s take each line and break it down piece by piece.
The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel:
Most of the proverbs are attributed to Solomon. We know that God asked Solomon what he wanted, and instead of asking for riches or power, he asked for wisdom. God gladly gave him the wisdom and then the riches and power as well. On the other hand, we know that later in life Solomon fell victim to his own vices – in particular his choice of women. With that said, I still find comfort in that because it reminds us that God uses imperfect people to carry out his plans.
To know wisdom and instruction, To discern the sayings of understanding,
Amazingly simple yet profound and critically important. The primary basis of our Faith is the Word of God. If we don’t have the wisdom to discern it or the right instruction, we’ll be misguided and lost.
To receive instruction in wise behavior, Righteousness, justice and equity;
I’ve always loved the practicality of Proverbs. It is obviously important to understand the theory behind Scripture, but it is nice to get some tangible guidance on how to carry out our Faith in practice as well.
To give prudence to the naive, To the youth knowledge and discretion,
As time passes, we all mature and grow. Obviously while we are young we need to learn and gain prudence. I would add that even when we are older, there are still areas in our lives where we are naive. The process of gaining wisdom never stops and only becomes more rich and fulfilling as time passes.
A wise man will hear and increase in learning, And a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel,
There’s a difference between wisdom and learning but they are intertwined as the verse indicates. Wise men learn and learned men tend to seek out wisdom. I don’t think all learned men seek out the right wisdom though. So I tend to think that wisdom is the more important first step.
To understand a proverb and a figure, The words of the wise and their riddles.
Jesus teaches in parables in part because his message is for his own people. The riddles only become revealed when the Holy Spirit takes hold of the heart and opens up the Lord’s word. So perhaps true wisdom is merely the act of embracing the Holy Spirit’s teachings.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge ; Fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Fear comes from reverence. Understanding just how magnificent and awesome our Lord is and how omniscient an powerful he is, provides us proper perspective. The best and most logical place to start our path of understanding is with the maker and creator of everything that we’re going to learn about thereafter. Only a fool would reject that.
So don’t be foolish! Seek wisdom beginning with fear of the Lord.