Proverbs 4:7
Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all your getting get understanding.
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(7) Wisdom is the principal thing . . .—This may also be translated, The beginning of wisdom is Get (or, to get, comp. Proverbs 16:16) wisdom: and with (i.e., at the price of) all thou hast gotten (thy possessions) get understanding.

4:1-13 We must look upon our teachers as our fathers: though instruction carry in it reproof and correction, bid it welcome. Solomon's parents loved him, therefore taught him. Wise and godly men, in every age of the world, and rank in society, agree that true wisdom consists in obedience, and is united to happiness. Get wisdom, take pains for it. Get the rule over thy corruptions; take more pains to get this than the wealth of this world. An interest in Christ's salvation is necessary. This wisdom is the one thing needful. A soul without true wisdom and grace is a dead soul. How poor, contemptible, and wretched are those, who, with all their wealth and power, die without getting understanding, without Christ, without hope, and without God! Let us give heed to the sayings of Him who has the words of eternal life. Thus our path will be plain before us: by taking, and keeping fast hold of instruction, we shall avoid being straitened or stumbling.Or, "The beginning of wisdom is - get wisdom." To seek is to find, to desire is to obtain.7. (Compare Job 28:28).

getting—or possession; a desire for wisdom is wise.

The principal thing; the most excellent of all possessions.

With all; even with the price of all, though it cost thee the loss of all which thou hast. Or, or among all. Whilst you labour for other things, do not neglect this. Wisdom is the principal thing,.... Or principal, one; the principal of persons and things; the principal of persons, angels or men: Christ is superior to angels, having a more excellent name and nature than they; he is the God, the Creator, and head of them, and is above them in the human nature; he is superior to men, to the greatest of men, he is King of kings and Lord of lords, and to the best of men the saints. Are they kings? he is their King: are they priests? he is the great High Priest: are any of them prophets, teachers, shepherds? he is the great Prophet in Israel; a Teacher, that never any taught or spoke like him; the chief Shepherd and Bishop of souls: is the church a family? he is the Master of it: is it a body? he is the Head: is it a building? he is the Foundation and Corner Stone; yea, the chief Master Builder. He is the beginning and chief of all God's ways, and the chief in them; in election, in the council of peace, and covenant of grace; in redemption and salvation, in grace and glory; he is all in all. Or the words may be rendered, "Wisdom is the beginning" (q); so Christ is called, Colossians 1:18; a phrase expressive of his eternity, and of his being the first cause and author of all things, both in the old and new creation. Or thus, that which is "the beginning of wisdom get" (r), &c. which is the fear of the Lord; see Proverbs 1:7;

therefore get wisdom; not an interest in Christ, but a knowledge of it; and make use of all means to obtain a greater knowledge of him, and of interest in him, which is what the apostle calls "winning" Christ; by which he means, not getting an interest in him, that he had already, but gaining a greater degree of knowledge of him, as the context shows, Philippians 3:8; or, "buy wisdom" (s); that is, without money and without price; so Christ advises to buy gold and white raiment of him, his grace and righteousness, Revelation 3:18;

and with all thy getting get understanding; another name for Christ; see Proverbs 8:14; Or, "along with all thy getting" (t), or "above all"; let not Christ be wanting; he is the one thing needful, the good and better part and portion, which, if missing, all other substance signifies little: or part with all for this pearl of great price, Wisdom, and prefer it to all worldly substance; look upon all but dross in comparison of Christ and the knowledge of him: all other gettings or substance are only for the body, this for the soul, and the eternal welfare of it; they are only for a time, this for eternity; they are not satisfying, but, having this, a soul has enough, has all things; Christ being his, all things are his; he possesses all things, and all other things are not blessings without him.

(q) "principium sapientiae", Montanus, Mercerus, Gejerus. (r) "Principium sapientiae est hoc, comparas sapientiam", Michaelis; "quae est caput sapientiae eam acquire", &c. Junius & Tremellius. (s) "eme sapientiam", Pagninus, Cocceius. (t) "in omne possessione tua", V. L. "in omne acquisitione tua", Montanus; "prae universis quae possides", Tigurine version, Vatablus.

{c} Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.

(c) He shows that we must first begin with God's word, if we will that other things prosper with us, contrary to the judgment of the world, which make it their last study, or else care not for it at all.

7. Wisdom is &c.] So also R.V. text. Others, with R.V. marg., The beginning of wisdom is, Get wisdom, Comp. Proverbs 2:1-5.

with all thy getting] Rather, with all thou hast gotten, R.V., at the price or cost of all thy possessions. Comp. Matthew 13:44; Matthew 13:46.Verse 7. - Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom. The older versions, such as the Alexandrian LXX. (the verse is omitted by the Vatican LXX.), Targum, and Syriac, agree in rendering this verse, "The beginning of wisdom is get wisdom," which is equivalent to saying that the beginning of wisdom consists in the acquisition of wisdom, or, as Umbreit explains, "in the resolution to get wisdom." That this rendering, which is adopted by Luther, Delitzsch, and Umbreit, may be correct appears from Proverbs 1:7 and Proverbs 9:10, where we have the same construction, only in inverted order. Seneca's aphorism is conceived in much the same spirit: "Magna pars boni est velle fieri bonum" - "A large part of good is the wish to become good;" i.e. that the beginning of being good depends to a large extent upon the wish to become so. The objections to this rendering are:

(1) That it is difficult to see how the beginning of wisdom can be the acquisition of it.

(2) That elsewhere, as in Proverbs 1:7 and Proverbs 9:10, the beginning of wisdom is represented as the fear of the Lord.

(3) That it does not fall in well with the context or with the aim of the father's teaching, which is to hold up wisdom as pre-eminently a blessing, as the most excellent and highest thing attainable. On the other hand, Hitzig, De Dieu, Doderlein, Zockler, render as in the Authorized Version, "Wisdom is the principal thing, therefore get wisdom;" i.e. wisdom is the highest good, and therefore ought to be obtained. The word reshith is found with this signification in ch. 24:20; 1 Samuel 2:29; Job 40:19; Jeremiah 49:35; Amos 6:1-6. And with all thy getting get understanding. This does not mean, as the Authorized Version seems to imply, that while you are acquiring other things, you are to acquire wisdom, but that wisdom is to be purchased with all you have acquired or gotten. "Getting" (kin'yon) is the purchase money. No price is too high to be paid for her, no sacrifice too great; cf. the parables of the hidden treasure and goodly pearl (Matthew 13:44: Luke 10:42), in both of which the man sold "all that he had" to obtain the prize. There is a play upon the words in the original (kin'yan'ki k'neh), which is preserved in our translation. He now confirms and explains the command to duty which he has placed at the beginning of the whole (Proverbs 1:8). This he does by his own example, for he relates from the history of his own youth, to the circle of disciples by whom he sees himself surrounded, what good doctrine his parents had taught him regarding the way of life:

1 Hear, ye sons, the instruction of a father,

   And attend that ye may gain understanding;

2 For I give to you good doctrine,

   Forsake not my direction!

3 For I was a son to my father,

   A tender and only (son) in the sight of my mother.

4 And he instructed me, and said to me:

   "Let thine heart hold fast my words:

   Observe my commandments and live!"

That בּנים in the address comes here into the place of בּני, hitherto used, externally denotes that בני in the progress of these discourses finds another application: the poet himself is so addressed by his father. Intentionally he does not say אביכם (cf. Proverbs 1:8): he does not mean the father of each individual among those addressed, but himself, who is a father in his relation to them as his disciples; and as he manifests towards them fatherly love, so also he can lay claim to paternal authority over them. לדעת is rightly vocalized, not לדעת. The words do not give the object of attention, but the design, the aim. The combination of ideas in דּעת בּינה (cf. Proverbs 1:2), which appears to us singular, loses its strangeness when we remember that דעת means, according to its etymon, deposition or reception into the conscience and life. Regarding לקח, apprehension, reception, lesson equals doctrine, vid., Proverbs 1:5. נתתּי is the perf., which denotes as fixed and finished what is just now being done, Gesenius, 126, 4. עזב is here synonym of נטשׁ, Proverbs 1:8, and the contrary of שׁמר, Proverbs 28:4. The relative factum in the perfect, designating the circumstances under which the event happened, regularly precedes the chief factum ויּרני; see under Genesis 1:2. Superficially understood, the expression 3a would be a platitude; the author means that the natural legal relation was also confirming itself as a moral one. It was a relation of many-sided love, according to 3a: he was esteemed of his mother - לפני, used of the reflex in the judgment, Genesis 10:9, and of loving care, Genesis 17:18, means this - as a tender child, and therefore tenderly to be protected (רך as Genesis 33:13), and as an only child, whether he were so in reality, or was only loved as if he were so. יחיד (Aq., Sym., Theod., μονογενής) may with reference to number also mean unice dilectus (lxx ἀγαπώμενος); cf. Genesis 22:2, יחידך (where the lxx translate τὸν ἀγαπητόν, without therefore having ידידך before them). לפני is maintained by all the versions; לבני is not a variant.

(Note: In some editions לבני is noted as Kerı̂ to לפני, but erroneously and contrary to the express evidence of the Masora, which affirms that there are two passages in which we ought to read not לפני, but לבני, viz., Psalm 80:3 and Proverbs 4:3.)

The instruction of the father begins with the jussive, which is pointed יתמך־

(Note: The writing of -יתמך with the grave Metheg (Gaja) and Kametz-Chatuph (ǒ) is that of Ben Asher; on the other hand, יתמך־ with Cholem (ō) and the permanent Metheg is that of Ben Naphtali; vid., Michlol 21a [under the verbal form 25], 30.)


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