Proverbs 1:4

ESV to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth—
NIV for giving prudence to those who are simple, knowledge and discretion to the young--
NASB To give prudence to the naive, To the youth knowledge and discretion,
CSB for teaching shrewdness to the inexperienced, knowledge and discretion to a young man --
NLT These proverbs will give insight to the simple, knowledge and discernment to the young.
KJV To give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion.

What does Proverbs 1:4 mean?

Here begins development of the major theme of the book of Proverbs: wisdom. In verses 2 and 3 we were instructed to know and to receive, both internal processes. In contrast, verse 4 encourages us "to give." Here Solomon instructs us to respond with action, rooted in the knowledge we will receive throughout the book.

The four steps of awareness are learning, knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. Learning is acquiring raw information. Knowledge is information that has been remembered for future use. Wisdom is the capacity to make right choices, based in knowledge and information. Understanding is a deeper form of wisdom, which can be passed along to others.

To act "wisely" is to put knowledge into practice. What is it that we are to give, according to this verse? We are to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discernment to the youth. Solomon is clearly describing that with knowledge, action is required. That action is to live wisely, showing discretion and discernment to those younger or less informed than you.

The term "simple" here does not mean "stupid." Rather, it refers to someone uneducated or unaware. The same term is often translated as "inexperienced," or "naïve."
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