Proverbs 4:7 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Proverbs 4:7, NIV: "The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding."

Proverbs 4:7, ESV: "The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight."

Proverbs 4:7, KJV: "Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding."

Proverbs 4:7, NASB: "'The beginning of wisdom is: Acquire wisdom; And with all your acquiring, get understanding."

Proverbs 4:7, NLT: "Getting wisdom is the wisest thing you can do! And whatever else you do, develop good judgment."

Proverbs 4:7, CSB: "Wisdom is supreme--so get wisdom. And whatever else you get, get understanding."

What does Proverbs 4:7 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Read carelessly, this statement can seem circular. The point, however, comes naturally from lessons already given in this book. Wisdom is far more valuable than any material possession (Proverbs 3:13–15). So the wisest thing a person can do is to seek wisdom. In more modern terms, we might say "the first rule of wisdom is to always seek more wisdom."

The key concept here comes from the root word rē'sit, which is used at the very start of Scripture, in Genesis 1:1. The term generically means "what comes first," which can imply a beginning or something of utmost importance. Both concepts apply here, which is why various English translations choose to focus on one or the other. The need to acquire wisdom is simultaneously "step one" along the wise path as well as the key principle by which to stay on it.

People set goals and work hard to reach them. Some spend great effort to get rich, some search hard for happiness. All these objectives fade in comparison to the value of acquiring wisdom and insight. The words Solomon relates here are those he once heard from his father, David (Proverbs 4:3). David challenged his son to get wisdom and insight. Nothing in life is as valuable as the wisdom to know and do God's will and to understand how to respond correctly to obstacles and opportunities.

In his later life, Solomon searched in vain for what was truly valuable. He pursued knowledge, pleasure, wealth, and honor, but finally concluded that true satisfaction comes only from knowing God. The book of Ecclesiastes traces his vain pursuits and concludes with the counsel, "Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, 'I have no pleasure in them'" (Ecclesiastes 12:1).