|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
1:1-6 The lessons here given are plain, and likely to benefit those who feel their own ignorance, and their need to be taught. If young people take heed to their ways, according to Solomon's Proverbs, they will gain knowledge and discretion. Solomon speaks of the most important points of truth, and a greater than Solomon is here. Christ speaks by his word and by his Spirit. Christ is the Word and the Wisdom of God, and he is made to us wisdom.
Verse 2. - To know wisdom and instruction. In this verse we have a statement of the first general aim or object of the Proverbs. "To know" (לָדַעַת, ladaath) is somewhat indefinite in the Authorized Version, and might be more accurately rendered. "from which men may know" (De Wette, Noyes); cf. unde scias (Munsterus). The ל which is here prefixed to the infinitive, as in vers. 2, 8, and 6, gives the clause a final character, and thus points out the object which the teaching of the Proverbs has in view. The teaching is viewed from the standpoint of the learner, and hence what is indicated here is not the imparting of knowledge, but the reception or aprrspriation thereof on the part of the laemer. Schultens states that the radical meaning of דָּעַת (daath) is the reception of knowledge into one's self. Wisdom. It will be necessary to go rather fully into this word here on its first appearance in the text. The Hebrew is חָכְמָה (khokhmah). Wisdom is mentioned first, because it is the end to which all knowledge and instruction tend. The fundamental conception of the word is variously represented as either
(1) the "power of judging," derived from צּצּצּ, "to be wise," from the Arabic, "to judge" (Oesenlus); or
(2) "the fixing of a thing for cognition," derived from the Arabic equivalent of the Hebrew חָכַם, as before, which signifies "to fasten" (Zockler), or "compactness," from the same root as before, "to be firm, or closed." It is also variously defined
(1) as "insight into that upright dealing which pleases God - a knowledge of the right way which is to be followed before God, and of the wrong one which is to be shunned" (Zockler);
(2) as "piety towards God," as in Job 28:28 (Gesenius);
(3) as "the knowledge of things in their being and in the reality of their existence" (Delitzsch), The word is translated in the LXX. by σοφία, and in the Vulgate by sapientia. The Hebrew khokhmah and the Greek σοφία so far agree as philosophical terms in that the end of each is the same, viz. the striving after objective wisdom, the moral fitness of things; but the character of the former differs from that of the latter in being distinctly religious. The beginning and the end of the khokhmah, wisdom, is God (cf. ver. 7). Wisdom, then, is not the merely scientific knowledge, or moral philosophy, but knowledge κατ ἐξοχήν, i.e. religious knowledge or piety towards God; i.e. an appreciation of what God requires of us and what we conversely owe to God. "Sapientia est de divinis" (Lyra). Wisdom will, of course, carry with it the notions of knowledge and insight. Instruction. As the preceding word represents wisdom in its intellectual conception, and has rather a theoretical character, so "instruction," Hebrew, מְוּסָר (musar), represents it on its practical side, and as such is its practical complement. The Hebrew musar signifies properly "chastisement," from the root yasar (יָסַר), "to correct," or "chastise," and hence education, moral training; and hence in the LXX. it is rendered by παιδεῖα, which means both the process of education (cf. Plato, 'Repub.,' 376, E.; Arist., 'Pol.,' 8, 3) and its result as learning (Plato, 'Prob.,' 327, D.). The Vulgate has disciplina. In relation to wisdom, it is antecedent to it; i.e. to know wisdom truly we must first become acquainted with instruction, and hence it is a preparatory step to the knowledge of wisdom, though here it is stated rather objectively. The words, "wisdom and instruction," are found in exactly the same collocation in Proverbs 4:13 and Proverbs 23:23. In its strictly disciplinary sense, "instruction" occurs in Proverbs 3:11, with which comp. Hebrews 12:5. Holden takes this word as "moral discipline" in the highest sense. To perceive the words of understanding; literally, to discern the words of discernment; i.e. "to comprehend the utterances which proceed from intelligence, and give expression to it" (Delitzsch). Understanding; Hebrew, vinah (בִינָה), connected with the hiph. (לְהָבִין l'havin), properly "to distinguish," hence "to discern," of the same clause, signifies the capability of discerning the true from the false, good front bad, etc. With this agrees Cornelius a Lapide, who says, "Unde prudenter discernas inter bonum et malum, licitum et illicitum, utile et noxium, verum et falsum," and from which you are enabled to know what to do in any circumstances, and what not to do. The LXX. renders the word by φρόμησις, the Vulgate by prudentia. Φρόνησις, in Plato and Aristotle, is the virtue concerned in the government of men, manage-merit of affairs, and the like (see Plato, 'Sym.,' 209, A.; Arist.,' Eth.,' N. 6, 5 and 8), and means practical wisdom, prudence, or moral wisdom. Van Ess, Allioli, Holden, translate "prudence."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
To know wisdom and instruction,.... That is, these proverbs were made, and written, and published, to make known or to teach men wisdom and knowledge; not only in things moral, and therefore these proverbs are by some called Solomon's "ethics"; and indeed they do contain the best system of morality in the whole world; nothing like it is to be extracted out of all the writings of the Heathen poets and philosophers: nor only in things civil; for which reason they may be called his "politics", seeing they are instructive to kings and civil magistrates, and to subjects; and also his "economics", seeing they furnish out rules for husbands and wives, parents and children, masters and servants, worthy of their attention and observance: but also they are a means of and are designed to teach spiritual and evangelical wisdom and knowledge; things relating to Jesus Christ, the wisdom of God, and the way of life and salvation by him, the knowledge of which is life eternal. These words, with others that follow, seem to be synonymous, and signify much one and the same thing; and are used to show that the most consummate wisdom and comprehensive knowledge may be attained by means of this book; which, like the rest of Scripture, with a divine blessing, is able to make a man "wise unto salvation"; and is "profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness", 2 Timothy 3:15; where the apostle seems to allude to this text: since "wisdom" here may stand for "doctrine" in general; and "instruction" may signify the means of attaining to it; and it may be observed, that the word is used for "discipline" and "correction", as well as "instruction". If these words are to be distinguished, the first, "wisdom", may design a wise scheme and plan of truths, and the theory of them and the latter, "instruction", the learning it and putting it into practice; and for both theory and practice this book is useful;
to perceive the words of understanding; which flow from a good understanding, and give a right understanding of things; so that a man may be able to distinguish between light and darkness, truth and error, right and wrong; particularly the doctrines of the Gospel may be meant, which are eminently so, and exceed the understanding of a natural man, and which are only understood by a spiritual man; the means of knowing which are the Scriptures, under the guidance and direction of the Spirit of God.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
2. To know … instruction—literally, "for knowing," that is, such is the design of these writings.
wisdom—or the use of the best means for the best ends, is generally employed in this book for true piety.
instruction—discipline, by which men are trained.
to perceive—literally, "for perceiving," the design (as above)
understanding—that is, words which enable one to discern good and evil.
Proverbs 1:2 Parallel Commentaries
Proverbs 1:2 NIV
Proverbs 1:2 NLT
Proverbs 1:2 ESV
Proverbs 1:2 NASB
Proverbs 1:2 KJV
Bible Hub: Online Parallel Bible