Proverbs 2–3: Wisdom & Life

Read the Bible in 2011 ◊ Week 23: Thursday

For the LORD gives wisdom;
From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.

Proverbs 2:6

Thursday’s Bible reading is Proverbs 2–3. Notice that both chapters begin with the phrase, My son. Chapter 2 urges and exhorts the reader to seek wisdom. Look for the if statements that tell you what to do, and the then statements that tell you the results and benefits of your actions. In chapter 3, look at the connection between wisdom and your relationship with God. The first twelve verses give general instructions and then verses 13–26 describe more benefits of wisdom. The chapter closes with specific commands and instructions for daily life and relationships and contrasts the righteous and the wicked. One teaching device in Proverbs is the constant use of contrasts throughout the book. Gleason Archer explains:

“The term for “proverb” is māšāl, which comes from the root idea meaning “parallel” or “similar” and hence signifies a “description by way of comparison.”…

“It should be noted that the characteristic type of māshāl or proverb in this book is the balanced antithesis which incisively contrasts the wise man and the fool, the good man and the wicked, true value and false, in such a way as to set forth the two sides of the truth in clearest opposition to each other and thus perform an incisive didactic function. The constant preoccupation of the book is with the elemental antagonisms of obedience versus rebellion, industry versus laziness, prudence versus presumption, and so on. These are so presented as to put before the reader a clear-cut choice, leaving him no ground for wretched compromise or vacillating indecision.”1

As you can guess, the book of Proverbs is imminently practical! There are three Hebrew words frequently used. Dr. Archer writes:

“There are three major terms for wisdom employed throughout this work: hokhmah, bīnah, and tūshiyyah.

1. Hokhmah, “wisdom,” the term most frequently used, pertains not so much to the realm of theoretical knowledge or philosophy as to a proper grasp of the basic issues of life and of the relationship of God to man as a moral agent. This kind of wisdom involves a proper discernment between good and evil, between virtue and vice, between duty and self-indulgence. It also includes prudence in secular matters and a skill in the accomplishment of business affairs as well as in the handling of people. It implies an ability to apply consistently that which we know to that which we have to do.

2. Bīnah, understanding, connotes the ability to discern intelligently the difference between sham and reality, between truth and error, between the specious attraction of the moment and the long-range values that govern a truly successful life. The root idea of this term is found in the related preposition bên, meaning between; hence there is always an analytical or judgmental factor involved and the ability to distinguish between the valid and the invalid.

3. Tūshiyyah, or sound wisdom, efficient wisdom, or, in a derived sense, abiding success. This term conceives of wisdom as an authentic insight into, or intuition of, spiritual or psychological truth….It points to the activity of the believer’s mind by which he is able to deduce from what God has revealed the manner in which these principles are to be applied in everyday situations of life (cf. Pr. 3:21; 8:14; 18:1; and also in the sense of help or deliverance, Pr. 2:7).”2

Proverbs is a book that we all need to read and to heed. The Lord has given it to us to guide and guard us in the many troubles and problems we encounter in life—to teach us discernment and the how-to of living for His glory and our good. May the Lord richly bless you through His Word.

Isaiah 42 Photograph: – Free High Resolution Photos for Christian Publications
1, 2Gleason L. Archer, Jr., A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, pp. 465, 468, 467–468.

Original content: Copyright ©2011 Iwana Carpenter

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