As one sun sets in David, another rises in Solomon. Solomon acknowledged his responsibility as Israel’s new king in prayer:
“Now, O LORD my God, You have made Your servant king instead of my father David, but I am a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. and Your servant is in the midst of Your people whom You have chosen, a great people, too numerous to be numbered or counted. Therefore, give to Your servant an understanding (literally, a hearing) heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil” (1 Kings 3.7-9).
The LORD answered Solomon immediately and verbally:
“Because you have asked this thing, and have not asked long life for yourself, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have asked the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern justice, behold, I have done according to your words; see, I have given you a wise and understanding heart, so that there has not been anyone like you before you, nor shall any like you arise after you” (1 Kings 3.12-13).
The Hebrew mishle (translated proverbs in Proverbs 1.1) communicates the idea of a wise saying that usually comes by way of comparison. The Greek word for parable carries the idea of setting items side by side for comparison. The English word proverb does not fit the wider scope conveyed by the Hebrew concept. These are the maxims and wise counsels of Solomon. They teach and instruct in a memorable way.
- To know wisdom and instruction – wisdom is competence or skill; instruction is a disciplined process for gaining this competence or skill .
- To perceive the words of understanding – the ability to draw proper distinctions in life .
Wisdom is something given by God and put into practice by man. As a skill wisdom shows us how to practice. Wisdom is using knowledge in a right way. Instruction comes by way of chastening; it is teaching through discipline.
Wisdom is practical in that it provides common sense and the skill to navigate through the struggles of everyday life. Wisdom is also intellectual in that it provides the hearer with a keen sense of curiosity and fascination.
Wisdom means more than accumulating facts or mental sharpness. Psalm 107.27 introduces a word picture that hones the idea of biblical wisdom. Sailors in this verse are said to reel to and fro on a ship like a drunken man. The text then states that these men are at their wits’ end. The marginal note in the New King James Version of the Bible communicates the idea of wisdom being swallowed or consumed. That is, these men no longer have the skills needed to weather the storm.
Wisdom refers to the skill of living in a way that pleases God. The will of God is found in the Word of God. Wisdom provides the skill necessary to do God’s will God’s way. We accomplish the will of God by obeying Him not through a series of intellectual attainments.
- To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, judgment, and equity – the instruction of wisdom is the discipline of insight. Justice, judgment, and equity are synonyms which speak of the outcome of receiving such insight. Justice communicates the idea of righteousness or right behavior. It refers to our conduct, as in living a life of justice. Judgment speaks of the ability to make decisions; to discern what is right between things which differ. Equity speaks of moral integrity, uprightness in character. It is to be principled.
- To give prudence to the simple – prudence in the sense of subtlety and craftiness; in the context, it means to detect that in others. This is similar to the challenge Jesus gave to be as “wise as serpents.” The ability to escape the wiles of the devil and his sons of disobedience is to be prudent. “A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, but the simple pass on and are punished” (Proverbs 22.3).
- To the young man knowledge and discretion – information that has wholeness to it; integrity (knowledge lived and proven in the realm of experience) and discretion; the ability to think thorough a situation. These things often elude the simple and the young; simple people are open-hearted people who are susceptible to the external impressions of others and often easily misled.
It is not enough for you to know. You must develop the skill of applying what you know. Spend time on what really matters. Pursue wisdom. It is certainly the principal thing in life.