What does Proverbs 4:7 mean?
ESV: The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight.
NIV: The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.
NASB: The beginning of wisdom is: Acquire wisdom; And with all your possessions, acquire understanding.
CSB: Wisdom is supreme--so get wisdom. And whatever else you get, get understanding.
NLT: Getting wisdom is the wisest thing you can do! And whatever else you do, develop good judgment.
KJV: Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.
NKJV: Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding.
Verse Commentary:
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).
Verse Context:
Proverbs 4:1–9 looks back on Solomon's childhood and the wise instruction he received from his father David. He rehearses that instruction and passes it along to his young students. Echoing David, Solomon credits wisdom with the power to protect, honor, and grace the life of whoever acquires it. ''Wisdom,'' used in these passages, means the ability to act according to godly knowledge.
Chapter Summary:
Common for the first nine chapters of Proverbs, Solomon urges his sons—possibly also other students—to listen to his words. He recalls his early years, when he heard some of these words from his father, David. Wisdom is upheld as the most beneficial thing a person can acquire in life. It brings honor and safety. In contrast, the wicked are perpetual wrongdoers whose goal is to lead others astray. They live for wickedness and violence, and they stumble in the darkness. Solomon urges his sons not to deviate from the path of godly wisdom, either ''to the right or to the left.''
Chapter Context:
The first nine chapters of the book of Proverbs focus on extolling the value of godly wisdom. In this chapter King Solomon continues to pass along this message to his son. His advice to his sons—possibly also meaning his students—in chapter 4 is similar to what he says in Proverbs 1:8–9; 2:1–6; 3:1–2, 21–26; 5:1–2; 6:20–22; 7:1–3, 24; and 8:22–36. The words of this chapter are partly taken from advice Solomon recalls hearing from his own father, David.
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 5/29/2024 3:03:27 PM
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