vs. 1 “The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel:”
vs. 2 “To know wisdom and instruction, To perceive the words of understanding,”
vs. 3 “To receive the instruction of wisdom, Justice, judgment, and equity;”
vs. 4 “To give prudence to the simple, To the young man knowledge and discretion”
vs. 5 “A wise man will hear and increase learning, And a man of understanding will attain wise counsel,”
vs. 6 “To understand a proverb and an enigma, The words of the wise and their riddles.”
vs. 7 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
From this time on we will start with themes in the book of Proverbs. We will be comparing wisdom to foolishness and the wisdom of God to the wisdom of the world. Notice in verse two the word “wisdom.” The Hebrew word is "chokmah", “that which is pounded in.” This refers to wisdom which comes from the experiences of life.
Experience by Itself Will Not Teach You
You have two teachers. One teacher is the Word and the other teacher is experience. But, experience is no good unless you apply the Word to it. Experience by itself will not teach you. It’s the Word you use IN the experience that teaches you. The Word is like the nail and the experience is like the hammer, driving wisdom home. The harder the experience, the harder it pushes wisdom down in, until one of these days, you’ve learned it so well and it’s so much a part of you that the nail is clinched on the other side. You’ve become accurate in using the wisdom of God.
Verse 2 says, “to know instruction.” The word instruction is actually the Hebrew word for discipline. It means to learn by discipline. Did you know there’s a discipline that accompanies learning? It’s a discipline to turn off the TV and open up the Bible. It’s a discipline to lay down the magazine and listen to the Word. It’s a discipline to roll out of bed and listen to the Word of God first thing in the morning. It’s a discipline to learn the Word of God. The devil will always make sure there is something else to do. It usually is not something big: the devil will nickel and dime you right down into the ground with all the little things that you have to do. But take time for the Word of God. It IS a discipline.
The Word Instruction Means to Learn by Discipline
Notice the next thing in verse 2: “perceive the words of understanding.” This, immediately, shows us something. The wisdom of God does not come through natural intellect. Which part of your being do you perceive with? Your spirit. When you start learning the wisdom of God you will perceive the wisdom He has for you. Wouldn’t it be nice to walk into the middle of a situation and be able to perceive right and wrong? You can do that with the wisdom of God. How many have walked into a situation even with another Christian and you perceived something but they didn’t. You walk into the middle of something which looks good in the natural realm, but there are alarms going off inside you. You’ll ask the person next to you if they are checked in their spirit, but they reply, “No, I didn’t get anything.”
The discipline of putting the Word into you causes your spirit to become so sensitive you can be around people and know something is wrong. You can be around situations and know something is wrong because of the discipline of putting the Word of God inside you, renewing the mind to the Word, pounding it in and pounding it in, up in the morning, in the afternoon, day and night, meditating on the Word of God. Then everything you do will be successful.
Three words are going to be used quite often throughout the book of Proverbs. Those three words are: knowledge, understanding, and wisdom. Let me tell you the difference between those three words. Knowledge is the ability to get the facts. Understanding is the ability to arrange the facts. Wisdom is the ability to use the facts.
Refer again to verse 3 of Proverbs 1. Recalling that the word instruction means discipline, verse three tells us what discipline is good for: to receive the discipline of wisdom, justice and judgment and equity.
Discipline gives us wisdom. Here we have a different Hebrew word for wisdom. This word for wisdom means good sense. Did you know it takes discipline to have good sense? Did you ever run across a teenager that had good sense? That did not just drop on him. Good sense is something that has to be disciplined into a child. The ability to make wise choices is not something that just fell on him out of heaven. The Bible says that foolishness is bound in his heart. It takes discipline to get rid of that foolishness and replace it with good common sense. But kids that have been raised around church and know the Word of God are the wisest you’ve ever seen. The good sense that comes out of my own children astounds me sometimes.
Knowledge is the Ability to Get the Facts
The word justice in verse 3 actually means righteousness or treating another person as an equal. Did you know God treats you as his equal? He never looks down on you. He never steps on you. He never talks down to you, but rather talks to you as an equal. So discipline in the Word of God will give you the ability to treat others as equal in righteousness.
The verse goes on to say, “and judgment.” Now this talks about judging all things correctly. The Bible tells us we are never to judge people, but we CAN judge things. (See Romans 2:1-3) You can love someone and hate what they’re doing. Jesus did that: he loved the disciples around him but he corrected them for the things they were doing wrong. So it’s not wrong to correct a person for the things they’re doing if you love them in the meantime.
Look at that last one there in verse 3, “equity.” There’s a discipline to equity. Equity means evenness. Treating people without partiality. That takes discipline. It takes discipline to treat all of your children equally.
Understanding is the Ability to Arrange the Facts
Verse 4 takes up excuses for not learning wisdom, Some say they are too stupid, having only a second-grade education, or never completing high school, so how can they understand the Word of God? Look at verse four again. The word “simple” means stupid. Did you know the Bible even instructs stupid people? That’s the reason any of us learned. The Bible says a wayfaring fool couldn’t error in it. Praise God! That’s why we all got born again.
Another excuse is being too young. Well, not according to this verse. What is discretion? It is wisdom that keeps you from future trouble. Now, think about this: why would a young man or a young woman need discretion? It’s important that children learn early in their lives to be discreet, to be wise, because when so many kids get to be teenagers, they are so gullible. You have to tell your children that not everybody is like those you meet in church. There’s a real world out there run by a real devil and the devil is out to rip you off. And it’s good to train children to recognize the symptoms of the world, so that when they go out there they can walk with discretion, being as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves.
But you might say you don’t need all this: you are already wise. Well, look at verse 5. It says a wise man will hear and will increase learning. You can never get to the point where you know it all. Even if you’re wise, you can continue to get wiser in the Word of God. You’re never too wise to understand more.
Wisdom is the Ability to Use the Facts
In verse 6, we see that not only must we understand the proverb, we must understand the interpretation. A practical application of verses 5 through 7 of Proverbs 1 can be found in chapter 9:7-9:
vs. 7 “He who corrects a scoffer gets shame for himself, And he who rebukes a wicked man only harms himself.”
vs. 8 “Do not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you; Rebuke a wise man, and he will love you.”
vs. 9 “Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; Teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.”
This tells us who we can reprove and who we are not to reprove. Now there’s one person you should never, never reprove: a scorner. There’s a tendency, sometimes, for sinners to come up and scorn you because you’re born again. “I don’t believe in your God.” Do you know what they’re doing? They’re tempting you to see what you’ll do. These verses in Proverbs 9 say never reprove him. Don’t say, “Oh, you horrible person! Don’t you know God will get you for saying things like that?” If you do that, you will get shame. In other words, you are reaping what you sow. What are you supposed to do to the sinner? Love him, as Jesus said in Luke 6:27-28. “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.”
Who is the wicked man in Proverbs 9:7? The wicked man is not just a sinner. This is the man that is caught up in very evil, wicked works. For example, you’re going down the street trying to witness to somebody when some guy comes out, and you know he’s a pimp. He’s got a whole string of prostitutes working for him. What are you supposed to do? Well, one thing you’re not supposed to do is say, “You horrible man! Don’t you know God’s going to get you?” Do you know that the Bible says you get yourself a blot if you say that? Now a blot is an accounting term. It means God’s keeping score. And I certainly wouldn’t want a blot on my record, would you? So verse 7 says, “And he who rebukes a wicked man only harms himself.”
Taking up verse 8, you see that if you reprove a scorner and he ends up hating you, you’ll never get him born again. What are you supposed to do instead? Give him love and he won’t know what to do with it. The most confusing thing to a sinner is to be loved. He doesn’t understand it. You’re not retaliating with the hatred with which he showed you.
At the end of verse 8, you see one person you can reprove. Recalling that instruction means discipline, it is the wise man that will receive reproof. The wiser most people are, the harder they like to be rebuked. You can really let them have it. Wise people love to be corrected. Why? The wiser you get, the more you want. The world has drugs to offer: the more you take the more you want. But God has wisdom. The more of it you get, the more you want. It will carry you on a “high” for a little while, but you come back and you want more of it. You’ll look anywhere for God’s wisdom, even to somebody that will slap you across the face with wisdom. You’ll take it. Do you know why wise people love reproof and correction? It’s because they can learn in two minutes what it might have taken years to learn otherwise. When you rebuke a wise man he instantly learns something that makes him that much wiser and he loves it.
Remember the last time somebody tried to correct you and you got mad? You just showed him something: you’re not wise. You know why they wanted to correct you? They thought you were wise. But when you got mad you showed them they were wrong. You weren’t wise. So when somebody comes to correct you, don’t get mad or retaliate. You could get wiser in a matter of two or three minutes and you may be smarter than you’ve ever been before because you listened to what somebody else had to say to you.
Do you want to increase in learning? If you accept correction, you will be wiser. Second Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness that the man of God may be perfect, mature, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”
When you proceed in the book of Proverbs you’ll be more thoroughly furnished for good works than you were before. You’ll continue to increase in wisdom and in knowledge.