What does Proverbs 23:23 mean?
ESV: Buy truth, and do not sell it; buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding.
NIV: Buy the truth and do not sell it— wisdom, instruction and insight as well.
NASB: Buy truth, and do not sell it, Get wisdom, instruction, and understanding.
CSB: Buy—and do not sell—truth, wisdom, instruction, and understanding.
NLT: Get the truth and never sell it; also get wisdom, discipline, and good judgment.
KJV: Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding.
NKJV: Buy the truth, and do not sell it, Also wisdom and instruction and understanding.
Verse Commentary:
Solomon advises his son about the immense value of godly truth (Proverbs 1:7). The implication is that these characteristics are worth any price. The book of Proverbs uses these terms in characteristic ways. "Truth" is that which accurately describes reality; it is something factual. "Wisdom" is a capacity to act according to truthful information. "Instruction" is the general practice of acquiring knowledge and wisdom, usually by learning from a more experienced person. "Understanding" suggests someone experienced enough in their wisdom to teach those principles to others.

In most cases, these teachings don't need to be purchased, in the literal sense. God makes these qualities available for free. Isaiah 55:1 appeals to everyone who thirsts to "come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price." James 1:5 promises: "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him." Further, "the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom" (Psalm 111:10).

Truth lies in the pages of God's Word. In His high priestly prayer Jesus spoke to the Father and declared, "your word is truth" (John 17:17). Through study of the Word, a believer gains instruction and understanding. The apostle Paul requested of God that He fill the Colossian believers "with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding" (Colossians 1:9).
Verse Context:
Proverbs 23:22–25 appeals to the example of a godly father. The following section contains a strong warning about sexual sin. That is followed by an extensive, blunt assessment of the dangers of drunkenness. These are all part of thirty wise teachings endorsed by Solomon (Proverbs 22:17–21).
Chapter Summary:
This portion of wise sayings (Proverbs 22:17–21) starts with the sixth of thirty mentioned in chapter 22. These include advice on presenting oneself well to a host, while not being unduly influenced by such hospitality. The passage also speaks on the right time to share wisdom, ethics, discipline, and the joys associated with godly children. Also included are warnings about relationships and those who lack self-control. The chapter ends with the Bible's most strident warning about the dangers of alcohol abuse; this is the eighteenth of the thirty promised teachings.
Chapter Context:
This chapter continues Solomon's collection of the sayings of wise men (Proverbs 22:17–21). These lessons continue through Proverbs 24:34. Here, Solomon addresses his "son," perhaps meaning a student, with warnings about money, gluttony, speaking in the company of a fool, dishonesty, withholding discipline from a child, keeping company with drunkards, and the abuse of alcohol. The description of alcohol's risks is the most extensive such caution given in Scripture.
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.
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