Proverbs 4:7
Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy 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. Proverbs 4:7Referring to Proverbs 4:5, the father further explains that wisdom begins with the striving after it, and that this striving is itself its fundamental beginning:

7 The beginning of wisdom is "Get wisdom,"

   And with [um, at the price of] all thou hast gotten get understanding,

8 Esteem her, so shall she lift thee up;

   She will bring thee honour if thou dost embrace her.

9 She will put on thine head a graceful garland,

   She will bestow upon thee a glorious diadem.

In the motto of the book, Proverbs 1:7, the author would say that the fear of Jahve is that from which all wisdom takes its origin. יראת יהוה (Proverbs 1:7) is the subject, and as such it stands foremost. Here he means to say what the beginning of wisdom consists in. ראשׁית חכמה is the subject, and stands forth as such. The predicate may also be read קנה־חכמה ( equals קנות), after Proverbs 16:16. The beginning of wisdom is (consists in) the getting of wisdom; but the imperative קנה, which also Aq., Sym., Theod. (κτῆσαι), Jerome, Syr., Targ. express (the lxx leaves Proverbs 4:7 untranslated), is supported by 7b. Hitzig, after Mercier, De Dieu, and Dderlein, translates the verse thus: "the highest thing is wisdom; get wisdom," which Zckler approves of; but the reasons which determine him to this rendering are subtleties: if the author had wished himself to be so understood, he ought at least to have written the words ראשׁית החכמה. But ראשׁית חכמה is a genitive of relation, as is to be expected from the relativity of the idea ראשׁית, and his intention is to say that the beginning of wisdom consists in the proposition קנה חכמה (cf. the similar formula, Ecclesiastes 12:13); this proposition is truly the lapis philosophorum, it contains all that is necessary in order to becoming wise. Therefore the Greek σοφία called itself modestly φιλοσοφία; for ἀρχὴ σὐτῆς the Book of Wisdom has, Proverbs 6:18, ἡ ἀληθεστάτη παιδείας ἐπιθυμία. In 7b the proposition is expressed which contains the specificum helping to wisdom. The בּ denotes price: give all for wisdom (Matthew 13:46, Matthew 13:44); no price is too high, no sacrifice too great for it.

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