The Beginning of Knowledge
1 The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel:
2To know wisdom and instruction,
to understand words of insight,
3to receive instruction in wise dealing,
in righteousness, justice, and equity;
4to give prudence to the simple,
knowledge and discretion to the youth—
5Let the wise hear and increase in learning,
and the one who understands obtain guidance,
6to understand a proverb and a saying,
the words of the wise and their riddles.
In God’s Wisdom in Proverbs, Dan Phillips does a close, exegetical reading of the first 6 verses of Proverbs, explaining Solomon’s stated reasons for writing the Proverbs. Phillips comments on 1:5b by pointing out the discerning type of person Solomon says his Proverbs are for: “[n]o one will gain understanding without fully engaging his mind so as to acquire [or “obtain”] wisdom, to lay hold of it and retain it. We must make the commitment, and must take the necessary action, to make wisdom our personal possession.
Then Phillips makes a very convicting point. He says, “[w]e should test ourselves. We should ask, “Am I doing this? If someone watched a film of my life as a silent movie, would he be able to discern clearly my commitment to making God’s revealed wisdom my own personal possession?”
This “acquiring” or “obtaining” in 1:5b implies that we would go after wisdom, and work hard to get it. And as Phillips points out earlier in the book, wisdom spoken of but not lived isn’t God-given wisdom at all. The wisdom Solomon has in mind is a fear of God that plays itself out in our living as we work and fight to walk in that fear and knowledge of God.
Are we all talk and not much more? If our lives were silent movies, and the “talk” was removed, what would people see? Would we still show a clear commitment to walk in wise fear of the Lord?