To give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion.
Why did God inspire, and Solomon write, the book of Proverbs? Here is part of the answer (Pr 1:1-4). These proverbs provide subtilty for simple people, and knowledge and discretion for young men. All men are born simple, ignorant, and foolish; without correction and instruction, they will be perplexed and punished by life. But the wise Preacher recorded his observations and learning in short sayings to teach wisdom for life.
Simple people have little understanding or wisdom. They are foolish, gullible, naïve, silly, and stupid. They lack ability to quickly and accurately discern, comprehend, analyze, and choose wisely. Solomon’s precious proverbs can give subtilty, or prudence, to such people, which is sharp ability to quickly perceive, understand, and judge matters, even where the distinctions are fine. Subtle men are knowledgeable, clever, and wise.
Young men arrive as babies. They know nothing. They eat like nursing puppies, and they need diapers to protect themselves. They take a year to walk, another to talk, and another to potty. By five they ride a bike, and by fifteen barely drive a car. They dream of marrying a supermodel, playing in the NBA, and driving a Ferrari. At twenty they are foolish, gullible, impulsive, naïve. They lack temperance (self-discipline) and experience.
They play hard and sleep long, but they find work hard and long. When they do work hard, they do not know how to work smart. They spend money, but do not know to save it. They instantly spot attractive women, but they cannot measure her character. They can marry a wife, but do not know how to lead one. They can father a child, but do not have a clue about training one. They can make money, but they do not know how to invest it.
What happens to these foolish and ignorant young men? Adultery, bankruptcy, crime, debt, depression, disease, divorce, drugs, drunkenness, fighting, jail, painful marriages, pornography, poverty, unemployment, vain business ventures, and premature death! All which can be avoided by learning and practicing Solomon’s wonderful proverbs.
Knowledge here is to know what is appropriate, effective, godly, profitable, right, and safe. It is to know God, fear Him, and know He rewards those that diligently seek Him. Such knowledge cannot come from the world; it must come from heaven; and God gave it to you in the book of Proverbs. Young men need this precious kind of knowledge.
Discretion discriminates between right and wrong. It knows how, when, and why to do or not to do something. It perceives a situation and takes advantage of its opportunities or avoids its dangers. It wisely discerns and separates factors in any matter to rightly judge its merit or morality. Young men need discretion to correct their folly and inexperience.
Young man, you need these proverbs. Without them, you are going to be hurt in life and never amount to what you could with them. With them, you can be great in the sight of God and all good men. You can truly be successful and prosperous. These lessons are not difficult. You must make the investment each day to learn them well, retain their wisdom, and apply them to the specific decisions and situations of your own life.
Father, you do not know what to teach your children? Teach them Solomon’s proverbs! They were inspired and written for this very purpose. Anything else you have learned in life is only valid to the degree it agrees with Proverbs and the rest of the Bible. What Ben Spock and the NEA believe should be taught is a tragedy. Teach them inspired wisdom from heaven for your mutual happiness and the prosperity of your family.
If you think you are already subtle, knowledgeable, and discreet, then these proverbs are not for you. You are a self-deceived and self-righteous fool and scorner, and you will meet your fate soon enough. God, wisdom, and wise men will laugh at your calamity (Pr 1:20-32). If you think yourself to be something, when you are nothing, you have simply lied to yourself (Gal 6:3). Give God the glory, and repent for your arrogance.
But if you can come admitting your simplicity and need for knowledge and discretion, then these proverbs are for you. By the grace of God and diligent application of these rules to your life, you can be exceeding wise and deliver yourself from the way of fools. What will you do today? For today is the first day of the rest of your life, and it may be the last! You can never recover this day to apply your heart unto wisdom.