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Above All, Acquire Wisdom
Proverbs 4:7 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
7 The beginning of wisdom is this: Acquire wisdom,
and with all you acquire, acquire understanding.
The beginning of wisdom is this: Acquire wisdom: Here, the Hebrew has two detached phrases that are literally “the first thing of wisdom” and “get wisdom.” Here King David, in his advice to his son when Solomon was young, was that wisdom is the most important thing, and therefore, he should pursue it so as to obtain it.
Wisdom: (חָכְמָה chokmah) is sound judgment, based on knowledge and understanding. It is the balanced application of that knowledge to answer difficulties, achieve objectives, sidestep or ward off dangers, not to mention help others to accomplish the same. The wise person is often contrasted with the foolishness or stupid person. – Deut. 32:6; Prov. 11:29; Eccles. 6:8.
And with all you acquire, acquire understanding is again places the highest importance on obtaining or acquiring, but this time, it is in the pursuit of understanding or insight.
Understanding (בִּין bin; בּוּנָה Bunah) is the ability to see how the parts or aspects of something are connected to one another. One who understands can see the big picture (the entire matter) and not just the isolated facts. (Prov. 2:5; 9:10; 18:15) Discernment and understanding involve comprehending, perceiving, grasping what the authors meant, identifying individual verses in light of the whole, weighing, or evaluating one verse considering the others
Insight (בִּינָה binah; שֶׂכֶל sekel or שֵׂכֶל sekel) is the ability to see into a situation. One who possesses insight acts with wisdom, caution, and discretion. Insight is closely related to understanding, but there is a fine distinction between the two terms. Says the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament: “While bin [understanding] indicates ‘distinguishing between,’ [sa·khal′] relates to an intelligent knowledge of the reason.” (R. L. Harris, 1980, Vol. 2, p. 877) Conclusion: there is the process of thinking through a complex arrangement of thoughts resulting in wise dealing and good practical common sense. Another result is the emphasis upon being successful. Insight gives a person the ability to look into something, be prudent and cautious in decision-making, act prudently, be reasonable, rational, and sensible when considering something. A person with insight can think through a complex situation, which results in a wise decision because he uses good practical common sense.
As we learned in Proverbs chapter three, wisdom is the ability to effectively apply knowledge and understanding to succeed. Knowledge is acquired by our taking in facts that were gained by paying attention and experience, as well as through reading and study. However, all of that is useless if one cannot put that information to work for them. Insight is the ability to see into a situation. When one acts with insight, he has a good sense in dealing with practical matters, using sound judgment to consider likely consequences, and acting accordingly and with discretion. We are foolish if we forsake wisdom, as she will protect us from the difficulties of this system of things, but that protection only comes to those that remain loyal in our love for her. If we lack wisdom, then we must begin to pursue it, in addition to insight.
The education of an Israelite child was taken very seriously, as Jehovah himself commanded that parent, “You shall teach them [the law] diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.” (Deut. 6:7) However, before they were to teach their child, it was commanded “these words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart.” (Deut. 6:6) As Deuteronomy 6:7 made quite clear, there is no excuse for not spending time with your child, and passing on wisdom and insight is paramount.
Acquire wisdom, and with all you acquire, acquire understanding. Commands King David to his young son Solomon. How can you apply this counsel to our Bible reading? The Bible of sixty-six books is the only book to be authored by God, as he used 40+ men, moving them along with the Holy Spirit as they wrote. The Bible contains God’s thoughts. There is more to acquiring God’s thoughts than merely reading the printed words on a page. We must understand what we read. Moreover, we must understand what the author meant by the words that were used, as opposed to interjecting what we feel, think, or believe God meant by those words. So, we need to meditatively read, study, and research the Bible, then acquire an understanding of what God meant to convey to us by the words of wisdom he used.