(Pro 1:2 KJV) To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding;
Here begins a list of the goals of the Proverbs. They are not instant, but they are reachable. There are things that you can “know” (3045). This word for knowing is frequently used in the OT and has the sense of deep and complete knowing. Three of the qualities come from the inside, “wisdom” (2451), discernment, and “understanding” (998); two are from the outside, “instruction” (4148) and “words" (sayings NASB) (561). The inside qualities are to make use of the information supplied by others.
“Wisdom” (2451) is a given. This is a different word from the one used for “wise” in the next verse. Wisdom is something inside. As we read through Proverbs it would seem that it is a quality that can be developed. We will find many references. Older people would have the advantage over young people but age does not guarantee wisdom. Youth almost makes it impossible but remember that it is one of the gifts of the Spirit.
The proverbs are to give “instruction” (4148). One thing I have learned about instruction: It must be accepted to be of any value. Sometimes it is accepted because the benefit is seen instantly but the more useful teaching, the one that has to do with wisdom, comes from discipline and application. It requires a long range view because often you cannot apply it at the moment.
It is harder to “discern” (995) the meaning of the“words" (sayings NASB) (561). Discernment is hard for two reasons. First, it takes a bit of intelligence and wisdom. Second, it takes a desire to know what we might not want to know. It requires qualities such as honesty to be of any worth.
Notice that it is the sayings that are being discerned. “Understanding” (998) is really just a category here. Part of the process is deciding what you are going to focus on. Discerning the wisdom of a fool is a waste of time. We spend much of our time wasting our minds by the TV we watch and the books we read. I enjoy science fiction and sometimes a get an insight from it, but it is not as valuable as a non-fiction book by C.S. Lewis.