Commentary – Proverbs 1:4

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


Verse Lexicon Study Interpretation
4: “To give subtlety to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion.” ‘Ormah (subtlety) = The root idea is to be like a fox: cunning and crafty, calculative, showing care for the future. To be far-sighted and intelligent.
P@thiy (simple) = a type of fool. Someone who is gullible, easily persuaded by flattery, deception, or anything enticing. This person falls for lusting of the eyes/flesh, and believes gossip, slander, and false teaching. See more here.
Na’ar (young man) = specifically refers to a group of ages from infancy to adolescence.
Da’ath (knowledge) = knowledge and understanding. Contextual uses of da’ath during the Old Testament period hint at an associated mysticism, whereby da’ath refers specifically to the conscience and the soul. It is not intellect, thought, theory, word, or any other form, but rather a unique presence or state.
M@zimmah (discretion) = To purpose in one’s heart. An underlying strong/powerful belief, premeditated resolve and determination against evil intents, specifically lewdness and wickedness. See more here. An example would be Dan 1:8.
Solomon presents 2 oxymorons: a wise fool, and an insightful youth. The gullible and foolish are 2 groups of people who commonly face ridicule for their faults. Solomon specifically chooses hyperbole to emphasize the dichotomy, implying that if you read proverbs, even if you are a fool, you can become the crafty fooler; or if you are a foolish youth who lacks self-control, has a weak resolve that is tossed easily by youthful lusts (2 Tim 2:22), and has the childish innocence of inexperience, you can become strong and steadfast mentally, mature and resolved beyond your chronological age.

It is important to recognise that Solomon is not actually telling us that we will become ‘ormah if we read his book, because even though it is similar to sakal (the intelligent wisdom), it suggests a misguidance by malicious intent. Nor does he mean with na’ar that an infant will become insightful. Instead, Solomon chooses these analogies to symoblically highlight the effectiveness of his book and the power of the words within. It can breach the gap of inexperience. It can help fools become intelligent, and in continuing this hyperbole, Solomon’s advice encompasses and can address/correct many other faults.