Proverbs 1:2

Proverbs 1:2 "To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding;"

After identifying the nature and author of the contents of the book, Solomon publishes his intent for the book in the next three verses. The first published intent is simplistic but necessary – Solomon wanted his readers to know wisdom and to know instruction. He wanted his readers, in particular his son to perceive the words of understanding.

This wise man’s first goal in sharing his proverbs was simply to inform his hearers of wisdom, instruction and understanding. To perceive the words of understanding means to become aware of such words through the senses. Solomon wanted his listeners to become aware of those things that could eventually change their lives. He knew that there was a large portion of society that was not yet aware of wisdom, instruction and understanding. He was especially concerned with his son who, like every child begins life entirely unaware of the life-saving and life-making words of wisdom. Therefore, his first goal in sharing his proverbs was to advertise and to bring exposure to wisdom.

Solomon’s son needed to be aware of wisdom.  He needed to be aware of its presence.  He needed to be aware that it existed.  He needed to be aware that there was an alternative to foolishness.  He needed to be aware that something so powerful was available.

Solomon’s son needed to be aware of instruction.  He needed to be aware of its presence.  He needed to be aware that it existed.  He needed to be aware that there was an alternative to ignorance.  He needed to be aware that there was an alternative to learning lessons the hard way.  He needed to be aware that there was a substitute for being self-taught.

Solomon’s son needed to be aware of understanding.  He needed to be aware of its presence.  He needed to be aware that it existed.  He needed to be aware that there was an alternative to confusion.  He needed to be aware that something so liberating was available.

Unlike many parents, Solomon didn’t assume his son entered life with the knowledge of wisdom and instruction. And unlike many teachers, he didn’t assume his students entered class with understanding. He embraced the ignorance of his son and recognized the need for enlightenment before there would be any empowerment. He embraced the ignorance of his listeners and recognized the need for information before there would be any transformation. Before anyone could receive his wisdom, instruction and understanding, they first must be made aware of his wisdom, instruction and understanding.  Solomon was not the type of parent who scolded his son for ignorance – instead, he saw his responsibility in informing his son of the presence of wisdom & instruction. Solomon was not the type of teacher who scoffed at the ignorance of his students – instead, he saw his responsibility and opportunity in informing his students of the availability of understanding.

Before a child can embrace instruction, he must first be introduced to it. Before a child can receive wisdom, he must be informed about it. Before a child can accept words of understanding, he must be made aware of such words. Therefore, the first duty of any parent or teacher is to simply make available these things. Assuming a person knows that there is an alternative to foolishness is foolish. Failure to introduce wisdom as an alternative to foolishness will result in shame. Solomon’s proverb in the 15th verse of his 29th chapter states, “a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.”  Wisdom does not come naturally. Understanding is not “common sense.”  They need to be presented. The lack of instruction in childhood will result in the rejection of instruction as an adult.  In many cases, adults “can’t be told anything” (instruction) because they were “never told anything” – they were never introduced to instruction and the goodness of it. Over and over throughout the Book of Proverbs, Solomon teaches his son to value instruction, to cherish instruction. The Book of Proverbs is, after all a book of instruction.

No one can like or dislike a multi-vitamin pill until they are made aware of it.  No one can receive or reject a low-calorie diet until they are made aware of it.  No one can receive or reject wisdom until they are aware of it.  Information always precedes Transformation.  Enlightenment always precedes Empowerment.

A child left to himself will bring shame because he will never know wisdom, instruction & understanding.  A child left before a television or an entertainment screen will not be made aware of wisdom, instruction & understanding through that medium – only entertainment, fun and a worldly philosophy bent of self-centeredness. A student left to himself will remain ignorant and an unbeliever left to himself will remain blinded. Before we can expect anyone to receive a proverb, they must first be told a proverb.  Before we can expect anyone to receive wisdom, they must first be told wisdom. Before we can expect anyone to accept the gospel of Christ, they must first be told the gospel of Christ.

When we speak proverbs, let us do so for the primary purpose of introducing wisdom, instruction & understanding. May we be motivated by introducing alternatives to foolishness, ignorance and confusion.  And may we not be motivated by clicks, likes, re-tweets, sales and self-glory.  Let us know what Solomon knew: Before there can be any fruit, the ground must be introduced to a seed.

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