Commentary – Proverbs 1:3

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


Verse Lexicon Study Interpretation
3: “To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity” Sakal (wisdom) = To show prudence/thought/care for the future, having good judgement, being circumspect, and shrewd in the management of practical affairs. It is an intelligent reasoning where one considers and successfully navigates the multivariate steps needed to make a wise decision/dealing.
Tsedeq (justice) = Righteousness and justice; what is right and wrong. This word can be applied in the moral sense, and also the legal sense, both to ourselves internally with good conduct, honesty and truthfulness, and to others externally with their right to just claims like human rights and fair decision making. Tsedeq is seen in Gal 2:11-21 where Paul rebukes Peter for his hypocrisy.
Mishpat (judgement) = literally make a verdict. Based on shawfat, to govern, mishpat encompasses creating law, passing sentences and authorising punishment/forgiveness. This ruling position was originally reserved for God, see Col 3:12-14 and Heb 12:29. For more information, see here.
Meyshar (equity) = to have a smooth, peaceful arrangement, living uprightly.
Solomon here continues his hook and discusses a second type of wisdom: Sakal, which is an intelligent wisdom, as compared to the skillful wisdom of chokmah. Solomon tells us that if we read proverbs, while we may not be as intelligent, Solomon as the wisest will instruct us in the ways of righteousness to find peace through this book. He will teach us what to think about when faced with difficult situations, and how to behave to bring about God’s mishpat.

The 3 words tsedeq, mishpat, and meyshar were used commonly in the old testament to represent order: that righteous godly judgement would lead to peace (another commonly connected word is shalom or peace/harmony/restoration). What is interesting though is that Solomon prefaces this idea with sakal, that the root idea to gain peace comes from within us: it all starts with the way we approach situations; the way we consider and reason. He implicitly links sakal with tsedeq saying that we cannot be righteous, and therefore cannot judge correctly, unless we first think carefully.

Essentially, if Proverbs is Solomon’s guide to be successful, this is his guide to be street-smart.