Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding.
You should buy four things today, and no store carries them. You need all four, or you are not prepared for success in life. You will get in certain trouble. They are truth, wisdom, instruction, and understanding. Do you want them? What will you pay for them? If you are offered riches to buy these four things from you, will you sell them? Do not!
There is only one way to buy something – pay for it. So buying the truth requires paying a price for it. All buying requires ranking your desires, for no man can afford everything. You spend your limited resources by the priorities you set. And here Solomon tells you to put truth, wisdom, instruction, and understanding at the top of the list (Pr 4:5,7; 16:16).
Once you buy truth, do not sell it to anyone – keep it. Others will try to buy it from you. How? By offering you pleasures or distraction that take you from truth. Solomon told you not to give these four things back to anyone for anything (Pr 3:18; 4:13). The world will do what it can to get you to play their games until you are a fool like them without any wisdom. Do not let anyone propose a higher goal for your life than these four things.
What is the cost? Truth will cost you friends, for most prefer lies, superstition, and tradition (Pr 13:20). Wisdom will cost you ease, for only fools believe and do anything they wish. Instruction will cost you pride, for you must accept correction from others. And understanding will cost you peace, for you will know the world’s insanity (Ec 1:18).
Are there other costs? Yes, pleasure steals time for learning, so give up some of it. Riches steal time, for you must work extra hard in your effort to get them. Give up the foolish notion of being rich (Pr 3:13-14; 8:10,19; 16:16). These four things come by dedication and diligent labor (Pr 2:1-9; 18:1), so you will have to pay the price of effort and time.
If you divide these words by their slight differences in meaning, you might be able to see the following definitions. If you do not, you can see Solomon heaping up good things.
Truth: right, honest, and real knowledge about any subject.
Wisdom: prudent ability to discern and to know what is right.
Instruction: directions and teaching from others wiser than you.
Understanding: comprehending the value and use of truth and wisdom.
The book of Proverbs was inspired to sell these four things, and one of the prices for them is to read it often. A chapter of Proverbs a day fits the calendar and will teach you much. Read and apply it daily (action of buying); do not stop the habit (action of not selling). Do not trade your daily time in the book of Proverbs for any other activity.
There are only a few men in the world with truth and wisdom (I Chr 12:32; Is 59:14-15; Jer 5:1). Solomon elsewhere asked if you wanted to be one of those men (Eccl 8:1). It is a choice. You must make it happen with God’s blessing by diligently pursuing the right means for acquiring them, which is taught in the book of Proverbs (Pr 2:1-9; 8:17; 18:1). Ask God for His Holy Spirit to reveal the truth to you (Ps 119:18; Eph 1:17-18).
The source document for truth and wisdom is the Bible (Ps 19:7-9; Jn 17:17). You need to have it preached to you often by a man that will not compromise its truth at all (Mal 2:7; II Tim 3:16-17). But today most Christians and churches prefer entertainment and fables instead of truth, as Paul warned (II Tim 4:3-4). The cure is to avoid those popular ministries for one that exalts sound doctrine by firmly preaching the word (II Tim 4:1-2).
Jesus bought wisdom (Luke 2:52) until He cornered the market (Col 2:3). No man could understand and speak like Him, even when twelve years old (Luke 2:46-47). Common people gladly heard His authoritative preaching, and wicked religious leaders were afraid to ask their evil questions (Matt 7:28-20; 22:46). Dear reader, follow His holy example – buy the truth and never sell it – and He will bless you supernaturally in the doing.