Commentary – Proverbs 1:2

You can find an updated commentary on all of proverbs 1 thus far here.


Verse Lexicon Study Interpretation
2: “To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding;” Chokmah (wisdom) = Used in the old testament to describe proficiency at physical skills: tailoring, metalwork, woodwork, engraving, etc. Proverbs however uses it metaphorically to describe life in general: skilled to live a successful life.
Muwcar (instruction) = moral discipline rather than your classroom, theoretical instruction.
Biynah (understanding) = Spiritual/godly discernment, comprehension, and righteous action. Understanding what is good and what is bad from a biblical perspective.
After the introduction, Solomon tries to hook the audience: if you read this book, you stand to gain these things: 1) be skilled and successful in life, 2) be morally and mentally disciplined, and 3) gain spiritual/godly discernment of right and wrong.

What is interesting is the combination of muwcar and biynah: moral instruction towards thinking like God. Solomon is saying that what you will learn from Proverbs isn’t something you can learn in the classroom, it’s not common sense/gut feeling/worldly reasoning/intelligence. This wisdom from God is completely unrelated to your own intelligence or education; a gift.

In that sense even if our common sense is in line with God’s will, it isn’t Biynah because we have relied on our own understanding. For example, see Prov 3:5,6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”

This idea is also translated into the new testament: see 1 Pet 4:11 “If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God…”. Oracles here means utterances/words, so our responsibility is to speak using God’s word, not our words, with the goal of glorifying God.