by H.A. Ironside
Proverbs 1:1-4 By H A Ironside
The first four verses of the book of Proverbs would seem to justify the title given to this remarkable collection of sayings—“The Young Man’s Book.” There are nine words used in this brief introductory portion that recur throughout the book. These words should be considered in beginning this study since they are not mere synonyms used pedantically or idly. But as “every word of God is pure,” so these terms are employed throughout this passage with admirable precision.
Wisdom is “skillfulness”—the ability to use knowledge correctly. It occurs thirty-seven times in this one book.
Instruction is used to translate a Hebrew word which occurs twenty-six times in Proverbs. It means “to teach by discipline.” This word is also translated “chasteneth,” (13:24) and “chastening” (3:11; see also Job 5:17 and Isaiah 26:16).
Understanding is a word seldom found in Scripture and has the force of “to bereave,” or “to miscarry.” The “sayings of bereavement” might not exactly express the thought, but it conveys the idea of learning through the unhappy experiences of others, or of oneself.
Justice refers to conduct and might be rendered “right behavior” or “righteousness.”
Judgment is equivalent to “decisions.” It is the ability to “try the things that differ.”
Equity refers to principles, rather than conduct. It is uprightness, or moral integrity.
Subtilty (frequently translated “prudence”) is “craftiness” in the original. As used here it conveys the ability to detect that in others. When Christ commanded His disciples to be “wise as serpents” He may have had the concept of subtilty in mind.
Knowledge is “information of a sound character.”
Discretion is “thoughtfulness.” The young generally lack this characteristic, but it is displayed by one who feeds on the Word of God.
These nine words describe a well-rounded character produced only by the study and practice of God’s truth. Therefore this part of Holy Scripture especially appeals to the young man, fully equipping him for his path through the world.