And in His law does he meditate day and night. Psalm 1:2
The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel;
To one who meditates in the word, even a simple verse has meaning. What does the word proverb mean? If you use a Bible Concordance, and you should, you will find it is the Hebrew word Mashal, pronounced maw-shawl’. It means a parable, a proverbial saying, an ethical maxim, or a poem. The Proverbs are written in a poetic style. In one place they are referred to as the dark sayings of the wise. At another place they are called the taunting of the wise.
The word Solomon has meaning. It is the Hebrew word Sh@lomoh, pronounced Shel-o-mo. It is closely akin to the word Shalowm, pronounced shaw-lome, which means peace, quiet, tranquillity, contentment, prosperity, and health. You might say that these writings are the parables or sayings of peace, or truth that will bring peace to one’s life.
Solomon was certainly David’s son, but there is likely more meaning here than that. Jesus was often referred to as the son of David. It had been prophesied that David’s son would build a house for God to dwell in. And Solomon did construct the temple at Jerusalem. But in Luke’s gospel, Zachariah spoke prophetically of Jesus, saying that He would sit upon the throne of his father David. You might say that Solomon, the son of David, was a type or a foreshadowing of Jesus, the son of David, Who would ultimately built a temple for the Lord made of living stones, the New Testament Church.
Solomon was indeed the king of Israel. He did sit upon the throne of his father David. These parables are the words of a king, a man who had been blessed of the Lord with wisdom from God. And Jesus, the One he foreshadows is also a king, the King of kings and the Lord of lords. And the Bible says that He has become unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. And in Luke 12:42 Jesus refers to Himself as One greater than Solomon.
Proverbs 1:2 To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding;
The word translated as “to know” is the word Yada`, pronounced yaw-dah’. It means to know, to learn, to perceive and see, and in general means to gain knowledge of something. To know or gain knowledge of what? To know wisdom, or chokmah (khok-maw'), which means wisdom, skill, and shrewdness. So, the purpose of the Proverbs is to help in gaining wisdom and shrewdness and skills in the affairs and dealings of life.
And Instruction, or muwcar (moo-sawr’), which means instruction, correction, chastisement, and rebuke. What an interesting word! To be instructed means to be corrected in something we’re doing wrong or viewing incorrecty. Chastisement and rebuke do not mean punishment. They simply mean being set straight on wrong thinking and behavior. As a child, whether physically or spiritually, we start out not knowing much, not knowing right from wrong, lacking in understanding. But these proverbs of Solomon are designed to address and correct wrong thinking and behavior.
It is also interesting to note that as we continue in these Proverbs, we find that Solomon was writing these poems or sayings to his children. He is training his children in wise thinking. And instead of just speaking to them, he wrote the things he was teaching them, he created a written record, so that they could keep them in written form and study them all through their lives. And because he did that, we have his writings today to learn from.
. . . to perceive the words of understanding. To perceive, or regard and consider, the words of understanding, or Biyn (bene), which basically means understanding and discernment. But it also means the faculty of understanding. There is an inner faculty of understanding that is cultivated as we ponder these proverbs of Solomon. And that’s what this word, understanding, is referring to. Proverbs 1:3 To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity;
This word “receive”, or laqach (law-kakh’) is more of an active word than passive. It means to take, to take hold of, to take away, to fetch, to seize, to carry off. It speaks of an aggressive pursuit of something, not just a passive receiving. A seeker of wisdom is on a hunt and he seizes and carries away the instruction of wisdom, or the chastisement that wisdom offers. This is a different word for wisdom. It is sakal (saw-kal’), meaning prudence, circumspection, and insight. Gaining wisdom or prudence and insight requires some rebuking or chastisement, which simply mean instruction.
One who lays hold of wisdom is laying hold of chastisement and reproof and correction. To be corrected is not punishment, but merely being taught more correctly. Chastisement and correction are things to be desired to gain the priceless gift of wisdom.
The word “justice” is the word tsedeq (tseh’-dek), meaning what is right, normal, or just. It means rightness or justness, and in weights and measures. So, you might say that justice means justness, what is right and fair and good. Amazingly, this is something that must be learned and developed. We don’t just have an inner sense of what is just and right. But it can be developed by meditating in the words of wisdom.
Judgment is the word mishpat (mish-pawt’) which has a variety of meanings, including judgment, justice, ordinance, process, procedure, litigation, and the act of deciding a case. That’s what a judge does. He decides cases. And what he does is called judgment, or the ability to decide what is right and what is wrong in a situation. That is what Solomon’s proverbs are crafted to do, to create an inner sense or ability to judge situations in a judicial manner.
Here’s another interesting word, equity, or meyshar (may-shawr’), meaning evenness, uprightness, straightness, equity, or smoothness. We think of what is equitable as that which is fair. So, to develop equity in one’s life is to develop a sense of what is fair and equitable. And that’s another of those things that is not found in a lot of folks. In fact, we can see from this verse that it is something that must be learned and cultivated through meditation in God’s book of wisdom.
Proverbs 1:4 To give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion.
So many words. So many things to be gained in the pursuit of wisdom. Subtility, or ormah (or-maw), means shrewdness, craftiness, and prudence, which must be learned.
Knowledge, or daath (dah’-ath) meaning perception, skill, and cunning, are developed through studying these sayings. And discretion, or m@zimmah (mez-im-maw'), is also gained, which means purpose, discretion, or device. This speaks of the ability to plan things out, to thinks things through wisely. Skill and cunning, as well as the ability to think and plan, are developed through pondering the sayings of wisdom.
To the simple, or p@thiy (peth-ee’). Simple means the naïve, the foolish, the open-minded ones. That’s how we all start out. But we don’t need to stay there. We can leave the fields of the foolish and learn to fly with those who have gained subtility, knowledge, and discretion.