Summary: These first verses of chapter one reveal the purpose of the book. It was written to teach wisdom by applying wisdom to life. It's wise practical teaching leads the understanding man who fears the Lord to wisdom.
PROVERBS 1: 2-7
MAKING A MEANINGFUL LIFE
TO IMPROVE EFFICIENCY, a company hired a consultant, who called a meeting of all shop personnel. Stressing the need to listen to experts, he said, "Imagine you're on the Titanic, and it's sinking. You climb into a lifeboat. Which direction would you row?" Then he asked, "What if you had the ship's navigator with you? Now which way would you go? You'd row the way the navigator told you to, right?"
There were murmurs of agreement until a guy in the back piped up, "Well, I don't know. He's already hit one iceberg!"
You need discernment concerning whom you'll take advise. The book of Proverbs urges us to get advice from the wise (1:2-7). Wisdom in the Bible is "skill for living." Some people know how to make a living but don't know how to make a life, which is a shame for it is better to make a good life that a good living.
The book of Proverbs is about godly wisdom, how to get it and how to use it. It's about priorities and principles, not get rich-quick schemes or success formulas. It tells you, not how to make a living, but how to be skillful in the lost art of making a life.
The first seven verses of chapter one reveal the purpose of the book. It was written to teach wisdom by applying wisdom to life instead of simply theorizing about it. The entire book was intended to be of great practical benefit to the obedient listener. It's wise practical teaching leads the understanding man who fears the Lord to wisdom (CIM).
I. THE TITLE, 1:1 -The Preacher-Teacher of Proverbs.
II. THE THEME, 1:2 - Attaining Wisdom
III. THE PURPOSE, 1:3-6 - Imparting Wisdom to Men.
IV. THE FOUNDATION, 1:7 - The Fear of the Lord.
We learned last week that Solomon was an insightful teacher of wisdom. Now let's learn what makes a genuine student of wisdom. The preamble in 1: 1-7 prepares you for reading the book as a whole. It sets forth its theme (v. 2, attaining wisdom), its purpose (vv. 3-5), the basic contrasts between wisdom and folly (v. 7), and wisdom's cornerstone or theological foundation (v. 7). [How to Read the Bible by Gordon Fee. Grand Rapids. Zondervan.2002. 145]
II. THE THEME, 1:2 - Attaining Wisdom
Verse 2 states that the personal attainment of wisdom is the theme of this book. "To know wisdom and instruction, to discern the sayings of understanding,
Wisdom is a word of enormous importance in Proverbs. [Wise & wisdom are used at least 125 times.] A purpose of the Proverbs is that the reader might "know wisdom" and allow it to govern his or her life. The word here is chokma and is the most frequent word for wisdom in Proverbs. It meant skill (Ex. 28:1-3; 31:25; 1 Chron. 22:18), here skill in living. Originally the term was used to describe people skilled in working with their hands, craftsman. [It was used in reference to the detailed work of Bezalel and Aholiab in constructing the tabernacle (Exodus 31:1-11). God gave them and others skill for artwork, building, weaving, and carving.] It came to mean the use of life knowledge in practical and skillful ways. God crafts wisdom into a life so that one learns how to live skillfully, or successfully before Him. The emphasis is not on theoretical information but on a proper discernment for decisions between choices, to know good from evil, and right from wrong. People with wisdom have the skill to face life honestly and courageously and manage it successfully so that God's purposes are fulfilled in their life. Wisdom orders and directs life for proper purpose. It brings us into harmony with the priorities and principles of God.
A purpose of Proverbs is to know or attain wisdom "and instruction." Instruction is the teaching of priorities and principles. It is the corrective teaching which results in values or morals but it is more than intellectual enlightenment. It refers to training and discipline for life skills. Instruction (Heb. musar) refers to the fact that training is needed so that one might keep themselves walking God's way, under His restraint and control and in His direction. Instruction is ordering life according to divine principles so that we can live skillfully.
Another purpose of Proverbs is listed as "to discern the sayings of understanding." "To discern" is to have insight into (1 Kings 3 :9), to separate, to make distinct. These Proverbs give us insight into the sayings of understanding. These sayings are the pulling together of the observable knowledge from life or lives. The focus is not merely on what goes on in life but the ability to understand it then apply that understanding to your life so that life can be corrected or trained skillfully. There will be much in-depth thought required to see the implications of many of the wise saying of Proverbs. But this attempt to absorb them is a healthy mental exercise which will sharpen the mind.