Matthew 13:10 And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? 11 He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. 12 For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. 13 Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.
Proverbs 1:1 “The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel; 2 To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding…
Introduction In the previous set of notes, we saw that the Book of Proverbs is the book of the parables, the poetic aphorisms, the moral bywords and instruction of the son of David, the King of Israel, the Lord Jesus Christ (as penned by King Solomon as he was borne along by the Holy Ghost). We saw that Christ is our Peace and that He provides the words and instruction that leads to our (manifest, experienced) peace. We then considered that the Book of Proverbs reveals the very character and virtue of our Lord Jesus Christ, setting Him forth as the example that we are to follow. Thus, in keeping with how the noun form for proverb directly ties-in with the verb form meaning to rule, reign, and have dominion, we see that the Book of Proverbs plays a major role as our rule book, our book of instruction, for a godly Christian walk. When spiritually applied it is the rule of our walk, along with the entirety of the Bible; we see that the instruction therein is the means by which God will transform our minds and both order and guide our steps.
We also saw that, along with the Bible as a whole, the Book of Proverbs is an armory, and arsenal, filled with the spiritual weapons needed to tear down the strongholds and high places that the enemy has setup in our hearts and minds. With these weapons, and in light of our Christian warfare, we make manifest the victory that Christ has already perfectly and eternally secured for us, in and by Him, at the cross. Seeing these things, the aim is to now move on to the next part of the sentence, to consider verse two in light of verse one. So now we have the following to work with: “The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel; To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding….“
Knowledge of Our Lord – “The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel; to know wisdom…” — This book of the Bible is given unto us so that we may know wisdom. In keeping with the Hebrew word for know [H3045, yada`), the book of Proverbs is designed to causes us to both know, and learn to know all the more, the Lord Jesus Christ and the Godhead whom He fully embodies. As per the previous note, Christ is our Wisdom; He is Wisdom personified. To read the words of this book, to ponder them, even to meditate and ruminate upon them, is to learn more and more about Him — this is the very essence of knowing Wisdom. Once again, we will learn of His nature, character, attributes, and virtue. We will also learn of His divine roles and offices, seeing also the wisdom, dignity, and fidelity in which He fulfills them. This book will help us to perceive Him, discern Him, find Him out — perceiving Him in the word of God as a whole, in the providential rule He has over our lives; in the chastening hand He places upon us; and in the peace, joy, and contentment He bestows upon us through union with Him — in such we will know Him by experience, by a true, experimental, relationship with Him. This book will enable us to distinguish him more easily from counterfeits, from the false christs that abound in our day. When He providentially calls us, and when He calls us through His holy word (the Bible), we will be more apt to hear His voice, to recognise His call, and to acknowledge it when it is heard. Finally, we will be more skillful in confessing Him, His character and attributes; we will be more apt to share with others His qualities and manner — how He reigns, how He judges, How he protects, how He provides, and teaches, and comforts, and rebukes. This book, when made alive in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, is an infinitely deep well of information concerning our Lord; one that teaches us how to know Him and follow after Him all the more. [Note: the above italicized words and phrases are actually incorporated into the very meaning of the word know/yada’ — allowing us to see more fully the intent behind its use].
Applicable Wisdom In addition to finding our Lord in the Book of Proverbs, we must remember that there is much related to practical application in this verse — as there is in the whole of the Bible. In perceiving our Lord more thoroughly in this book, we ought to be growing, maturing, and flourishing in our own experience thereby. There is no rightly seeing Christ in any part of scripture if we cannot see the practical aspect therein. If “seeing Christ” does not allow us, or enable us, to apply what we see of Him to our own walk, then we are not really seeing Him very much at all.
The result of growing in the (heart-felt) knowledge of Christ is growing in maturity, fidelity, and fruit bearing — albeit never unto literal perfection in this life. Nonetheless, manifestly, He will transform us and conform us all the more to His image when His beauty and worthiness is driven home, all the more, to our consciences and understanding. The word wise in this verse is chokmah [H2451] and it means to be skillful, prudent, and dexterous in judgment. It has in view being skilled in all avenues of life; namely, being skilled in heeding and rightly applying the judgments of God to that realm covering all that we think, communicate, and do (piety). Per our secular dictionaries, wisdom is the “quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment;” “the ability to discern or judge what is true, right, or lasting;” “insight.” Through this book we can “accumulate knowledge, erudition, and enlightenment;” however, none of these blessings will be imparted unto us, as if apart from Christ and the working of the Holy Spirit. Yet, in Christ and by the Spirit, I trust these gifts will surely come when the word of God is rightly received, respected, and applied. Everything we need to increase in sagacity, to become wiser and more intelligent than the world about us, can be found in this book — as it can throughout all of the books of the Bible. And yet, how far do I really and experimentally fall short in light of such things. It really is humbling; may God give the much needed grace to walk, and not just talk.
Instruction & Correction – “The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel; to know wisdom and instruction…” — God also gives us the Book of Proverbs to know instruction [H4148, muwcar] which in addition to meaning instruction also means discipline, chastisement, and correction. The Christian will learn from this book how God instructs, disciplines, and chastens us; why He does it; when we, as His children, need to receive it; and how to apply it to others when our roles and offices rightly require it. We are commanded in Proverbs 4:13 “Take fast hold of instruction [H4148]; let [her] not go: keep her; for she [is] thy life;” this verse evidences how vital it is to know and embrace the instruction of God. Consider also the following:
Proverbs 12:1 “Whoso loveth instruction [H4148] loveth knowledge: but he that hateth reproof is brutish.”
Proverbs 13:1 “A wise son heareth his father’s instruction: [H4148] but a scorner heareth not rebuke.”
Proverbs 13:18 “Poverty and shame shall be to him that refuseth instruction: [H4148] but he that regardeth reproof shall be honoured.”
The instruction of the law is precious to the saint; we read in Psalm 94:12 “Blessed [is] the man whom thou chastenest, O LORD, and teachest him out of thy law; 13 That thou mayest give him rest from the days of adversity, until the pit be digged for the wicked.” This blessedness is further expounded upon in passages like Hebrews 12:5-8 “And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: 6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? 8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.“
Causing to Understand – “The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel; to know wisdom and instruction; to perceive…” — The word perceive is the Hebrew word biyn [H995]; in the form found therein, it means both (a) to understand and (b) to cause to understand, to give understanding, to teach. We could read it as “to teach the words of understanding;” “to cause to understand the words of understanding;” and “to giving understanding regarding the words of understanding.” All reflect the action that God, Himself, must do to cause us to perceive and understand the words of understanding. This is God’s work; if it is to be of any benefit, it cannot be merely man-mustered intellectualism and academics, it must be both God-ordained and God-wrought (let us pray for such divine work in ourselves and in the body of believers as a whole).
Notice also the double emphasis on understanding; God causes us to understand the words of understanding. We should consider here how important understanding is. All right discourse, handling of disagreements and controversies, understanding of scriptural doctrine in general, etc. must be governed by right understanding. If we understand amiss, we will argue and debate amiss; we will teach and instruct amiss; and we will (subjectively) harm the body thereby.
So what is meant by the words of understanding? To answer, let’s look at what is meant by “…the words…” The Hebrew word for words [H561, ’emer] means word or discourse; it pertains to utterance, speeches, sayings, promises, commands, and mandates in general, but in the Old Testament, it often particularly meant right words, the words of God. Incorporated into the meaning is also the concept of bringing forth and bearing to light. God must give us understanding regarding the bringing forth of understanding; He must cause us to understand the bearing to light of righteousness and truth. Faithful witnessing cannot be performed without right understanding and the declaration of right understanding (particularly as it relates to the Person and work of Christ and man’s relationship thereto) is the equivalent of faithful witnessing.
The Words of Understanding – “The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel; to know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding…” — Seeing the meaning of the words, what do the words of understanding relate to? The Hebrew word here for understanding is biynah and in addition to meaning understanding, it also means skill in learning; skilled in any art; intelligence; insight; perception; and discernment. It also pertains to rightly distinguishing (separating matters and making distinctions); rightly knowing and perceiving; and being intelligent, prudent, and well instructed.
So we see that not only must God give us understanding so that we can have proper understanding, but the words of understanding that He gives us are expressly designed to improve our insight, intelligence, prudence, and discernment. How blessed a word is this; how blessed a heavenly Father we have, to give us such a gift. May He move our hearts and minds to make much use of the blessings that He bestows upon us; for consider, though not many start off wise, and not many initially have much learning (that is, when first called unto the Faith), nonetheless, and only through His word, God makes His people wiser than the wisest of the lost and more intelligent than the most sagely of the wicked, when He drives the Truth of His instruction home and causes us to walk thereby, even to live thereby.
In Proverbs 3:5, we are commanded to “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding [H998].” Likewise in Proverbs 23:4 we read “Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom [understanding, H998].” What folly is in our flesh, to tempt us to lean unto our own corruption, our own foolishnesses (which is our natural understanding), rather than to lean upon the wisdom of the Rock of Ages, trusting in Him alone. We ought to pray for ourselves, pray for our families, and pray for the brethren at large — that we never forget that “Wisdom [is] the principal thing; [therefore] get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding…(Proverbs 4:7)” for “How much better [is it] to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver! (Proverbs 16:16).” Finally, consider these relevant verses as well:
Deuteronomy 4:5 Behold, I HAVE TAUGHT YOU STATUTES AND JUDGMENTS, even as the LORD my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it. 6 KEEP THEREFORE AND DO [them]; FOR THIS IS YOUR WISDOM [see Chokmah, H2451, above ] AND UNDERSTANDING [H998] in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a WISE and UNDERSTANDING people. [Note: this verse, spiritually discerned, is just as relevant to us today as it was to those believers who heard it under the Old Testament / Mosaic economy].
Job 28:28 “And unto man he said, Behold, THE FEAR OF THE LORD, that IS WISDOM; and TO DEPART FROM EVIL IS UNDERSTANDING [H998].
Proverbs 9:10 “The THE FEAR OF THE LORD IS the beginning of WISDOM: and THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE HOLY IS UNDERSTANDING [H998].
The above gives us a great synopsis of what biblical wisdom, knowledge, and understanding is really all about — it can be summed up as (1) truly knowing God; (2) lovingly fearing Him; (3) departing from evil; and (4) doing what He has instructed us, and called us, to do. With these truths in mind, may God cause us to live these precepts out daily and not merely think and talk about them.
— To God be the glory, forever and ever, Amen!