What does Proverbs 1:4 mean?
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.
Verse Commentary:
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."
Verse Context:
Proverbs 1:1–7 outlines the four distinct ''to'' statements, or purpose statements of the book of Proverbs. This section culminates with the identification of the only source of true wisdom, the Lord Himself. The purpose of the book of Proverbs is to recognize wise instruction and apply knowledge wisely. Most importantly, this all begins with a reverent fear of the Lord and the rejection of foolish ways.
Chapter Summary:
Proverbs Chapter 1 provides a clear description of the purpose of the book. It is stated plainly who wrote the book, the lineage of Solomon, and to whom he was writing. Solomon gives four distinct purpose statements in the opening verses. The essence of these is to explain why he is writing the book as well as the source of his inspiration. Solomon concludes with a warning against sinfulness and a personal plea for his children to act wisely.
Chapter Context:
Proverbs Chapter 1 is clearly born out of Solomon’s life history. Solomon held himself back from no earthly pleasure, he had everything he could ever desire, and in the end he saw the foolishness of his actions. Chapter 1 is Solomon’s reflection on his own life, how he had all the wisdom of God available to him, and yet chose to follow after foolish desires. Other chapters detail the advice which this experience allows Solomon to give.
Book Summary:
Proverbs is best understood in context with the books of Ecclesiastes and Job. In Proverbs, “wisdom” is given in short, simple, general terms. Ecclesiastes represents wisdom based on observation and experience. This often shows how the general principles of the book of Proverbs don’t apply in absolutely every circumstance. Job represents wisdom based on the experience of suffering and injustice. All three come to the conclusion that God does indeed know best, and the most sensible course of action is to follow His will.
Accessed 4/18/2024 6:31:42 PM
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