What does Proverbs 2:2 mean?
ESV: making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding;
NIV: turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding--
NASB: Make your ear attentive to wisdom; Incline your heart to understanding.
CSB: listening closely to wisdom and directing your heart to understanding;
NLT: Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding.
KJV: So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding;
NKJV: So that you incline your ear to wisdom, And apply your heart to understanding;
Verse Commentary:
In the book of Proverbs, learning is the short-term gain of information, which becomes knowledge when it is remembered and kept for later use. Wisdom is used in reference to the good and appropriate application of knowledge. Understanding is a comprehensive wisdom which can be passed along to others. Merely taking in and retaining information is not meant to be the end of our process.

Acquiring knowledge, especially the knowledge of God's commands, is a good and noble pursuit. However, living virtuously requires the application of that knowledge to our lives. Matthew 13:45–46 is another of Jesus' analogies of heaven. In that parable, a merchant was looking for valuable pearls. Such a businessman must first know how to identify good pearls from bad, and rank their worth.

This begins to sketch out our connection between virtuous living and discernment. Applying knowledge wisely requires deliberate effort—"making your ear attentive" and "inclining your heart." Those who purposefully pursue virtuous living, by seeking wisdom and understanding, develop the quality of discernment. The merchant in Jesus' parable did not invest everything in the very first pearl he encountered. Rather, the man used discernment—a practiced ability to distinguish good from bad—and when he found a pearl of incredible value, he sold all he had to obtain it. Rather than investing his life in something of mediocre quality, discernment allowed the man to make the most of his resources.

In the same way, discernment allows a person to separate profound wisdom from information which is of less value.
Verse Context:
The first five verses of chapter 2 continue the main theme from chapter 1: wisdom. Wisdom was often featured as a crucial virtue by later philosophers, such as Plato. These verses contain an IF–THEN structure. Verses 1–4 make three distinct ''if'' statements about the proper use of knowledge. Verse 5 gives the outcome that is ''then'' enjoyed by following the instructions which have been given. The same principles are illustrated by some of Jesus' parables found in Matthew 13:44–52.
Chapter Summary:
In Proverbs chapter 2, Solomon highlights various virtues, as well as provides encouragement to live a virtuous life. As in chapter 1, specific concepts wil reoccur, and are used in certain ways. Here, these are ideas such as courage, integrity, wisdom, and justice. The gist of this passage is the positive effect that virtue—including these various aspects—will have on one's life. In contrast, those who pursue non-virtuous living will suffer dire consequences.
Chapter Context:
The overarching theme of Proverbs chapter 2 is the relationship between virtue and discernment. As described here, virtuous living is moral living. As a person strives to live a moral life, he or she develops a greater ability to discern right from wrong. Further, beyond simple matters of right and wrong, as virtue grows within a person, he or she becomes more proficient at discerning trickier situations. Real life predicaments often present two or more seemingly valid options. Discernment, then, also includes determining which of many different options is actually best. Likewise, many life situations appear to offer only a variety of bad options. There, discernment is once again required, to determine which option presents the correct choice, or to recognize where a ''good'' option has been hidden.
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 5/26/2024 8:53:57 AM
© Copyright 2002-2024 Got Questions Ministries. All rights reserved.
Text from ESV, NIV, NASB, CSB, NLT, KJV, NKJV © Copyright respective owners, used by permission.