Proverbs 1:2

To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding;

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Why did Solomon write Proverbs? He wanted you to have the benefits of his exceptional wisdom, fantastic experiments, and insightful observations as to the purpose and profit of man. He wanted to give wisdom, instruction, and understanding to you.

What a wonderful gift! David said Scripture was sweeter than honey and more precious than much fine gold (Ps 19:10). Job esteemed it more important than his necessary food (Job 23:12). How thankful are you, good reader? The wisest king ever, in perfect cooperation with the King of kings, wants to privately tutor you in the wisdom of life!

God gave Solomon more wisdom and understanding than any other man (I Kgs 3:9-12). And God gave him the opportunity to experiment with different things more than any other man, for he was exceeding intelligent, rich, powerful, attractive, and had a peaceful reign, allowing him great freedom for testing and observing. He wrote the book of Proverbs to share his wisdom and observations in short, pithy sayings for your profit.

Solomon wrote to share his great wisdom and social experiments with his son and nation (Eccl 12:9-12). The book of Ecclesiastes, a philosophy of life culled from his extraordinary situation by inspiration, describes his social experiments and observations about the purpose of man’s life. He gave some of his wise answers there, but he primarily taught the people, and indirectly you, through his many proverbs.

Solomon hoped to help his son and nation avoid foolishness in life and choose the way of the fear of the Lord and wisdom. He hoped to provide the instruction and understanding that wise men could use to live a more God-pleasing and prosperous life. He wanted to save them from the snares and pitfalls of folly and sin.

The terms of this proverb overlap and should not be isolated altogether from each other, but you may consider any shades of their meanings that are unique to them. The value of repetition of similar words is to emphasize the quality and quantity of the thing described (Pr 1:1-6). In other words, these proverbs are jammed pack full of every aspect of valuable learning that a man could desire.

He wants you to know wisdom, which is the power of right judgment. Wisdom knows what to do in any situation. It knows the right use of the best means for the best ends. It knows to choose the good and refuse the evil, and the reasons to do so (Is 7:15-16). He will tell you later that wisdom is the principal thing and you must have it (Pr 4:7).

He wants you to know instruction, which is the teaching of wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. He will be the teacher; you will be the student. What a blessed privilege! Instruction is the teaching discipline of education and training (Ps 32:8; Is 28:26). Without the book of Proverbs, who would instruct you in successful living?

He wants you to perceive understanding, which is the power of accurate discernment (I Kgs 3:9,11). A man with understanding comprehends and grasps a situation, or information, to properly identify its leading features and arrive at the correct knowledge of its difficulties, implications, and consequences. It is to know right from wrong, truth from error, light from darkness, integrity from fraud, and so forth. It is to perceive and approve things that are excellent (Phil 1:9-11).

Though you did not get very far in the instruction of wisdom and understanding in this short proverb, you may jump ahead for the most important foundational lesson. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the holy is understanding (Pr 1:7; 9:10). Dear reader, do you fear the Lord this day? Do you tremble before the holy and terrible God of the Bible and seek with all your heart to obey and please Him? There is no learning, wisdom, or understanding without the fear of the Lord.

If this foundation is in place, then the next thing to do is apply yourself to these proverbs. The Preacher Solomon is going to teach you, but learning requires an eager, expectant, focused, seeking, and praying student. Are you ready to consider and absorb each proverb with the same desire and intensity you would exert to discover hid treasures (Pr 2:4)? Men who truly desire wisdom will dedicate themselves to this great goal (Pr 18:1).

The ultimate source of wisdom and understanding is that taught by the Holy Spirit through the power of the Lord Jesus Christ (Col 1:9-11). All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are found in Christ Jesus (Col 2:3), so you may joyfully know you have found the One greater than Solomon (Matt 12:42). Blessed be the name of the Lord!