Proverbs 1:3

Proverbs 1:3
"To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity;"


Here in verse three, Solomon communicates the second purpose for compiling a collection of his proverbs, which was for the reception of good instruction. The first purpose was to introduce his readers and especially his son to virtue. That purpose was clearly connected to the second purpose as someone can’t receive the instruction of virtue until he or she is first introduced to virtue. As expected, history’s wisest man was very methodically in his approach. The Book of Proverbs was crafted with purpose and that with systematic purpose.

While this book’s author knew his readers had to be first introduced to virtue before they would receive the instruction of virtue, he wasn’t content with just introducing virtue. He sincerely wanted his readers to benefit from the instruction of virtue. The first step was necessary for the second step to be possible. The first step was necessary but the second step was the priority. Introducing virtue was important for Solomon but having virtue received was his ultimate desire. For Solomon, sharing virtue was not a matter of casual conversation – it was motivated by the potential permanent benefit for his listeners. He shared his proverbs so that the wisdom in them would be received.

Proverbs 1:3 tells us that Solomon’s approach to publishing his book of proverbs was similar to the approach a passionate traveler would take in publishing a book or blog.  For example, a passionate traveler who writes about his adventures on the American West Coast writes to do more than just inform his readers, he writes to inspire his readers. Such a blogging traveler vividly describes the details of the rocky coastal terrain so as to create a curious interest for his readers to go visit that same wonderful landscape. He so enjoyed the Pacific Ocean that he wants his readers to benefit from it as he did – to experience it for themselves. He’s not interested in just bringing the existence & images of the West Coast to the living room of his readers – he’s interested in bringing his readers to the West Coast.  In Solomon’s case, he wasn’t interested in just bringing the existence & images of virtue to the minds of his readers – he was interested in bringing his readers to the classroom of virtue.

Given the design of the Book of Proverbs, it should be read on a consistent and lifelong basis.  Knowing the motivation behind its design, the Book of Proverbs is highly likely to produce a curious appetite for wisdom, justice, judgment and equity. It has been written in such a way to cultivate a hunger for virtue’s instruction.  The person who reads the Book of Proverbs frequently is likely to enjoy something far better than the mere increase in awareness of virtue – he or she is likely to enjoy the increase in instruction of virtue.  The book was designed to do more than just increase your mental library of available virtues – it was designed to increase your interest in the instruction of available virtues.  Solomon’s book of wisdom is more than a list of available teachers in the spiritual dimension – it is a compelling description of available teachers in the spiritual dimension designed to draw you into their classrooms.

There are plenty of teachers in this world hosting plenty of classrooms:
The wicked instruct wickedness. The worldly instruct worldliness. The criminal instructs criminality. The carnal instruct consumption. The dramatic instruct self-centeredness. The careless instruct irresponsibility. The vain instruct vanity.  The foolish instruct folly.  The wild instruct riot.  The unruly instruct rebellion.  The angry instruct anger.  The adulterous instruct adultery.  The arrogant instruct arrogance.  The evolutionist instructs evolution.  The atheist instructs atheism.  The godless instruct ungodliness and on the list would go.

Solomon is not just making his son & his readers aware of additional instructors – he is seeking to replace all other earthly instructors with virtue; with wisdom, justice, judgment and equity.  He is introducing virtue (verse 2) so that ultimately, its instruction will be received (verse 3).  He is introducing virtue so that it will stand out above all other instructors and gain the ear and mind of Solomon’s readers.  Not only is this written intention important to understand when considering the Book of Proverbs but this same approach is important to emulate when in the business of sharing wisdom with others.  Whether in parenthood, evangelism, discipleship or in any form of teaching, let it be our ultimate goal to see our listeners receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, judgment and equity.  Let us understand the necessity of first making them aware of virtue but let us ultimately see the supreme goal of seeing our listeners receive the life-changing wisdom that these virtues have to offer.  Such an approach will result in a passionate declaration & exposition of wisdom that brings with it the greatest potential of being received by the hearer.  

Simply put, are we only informing others of wisdom or are we passionately informing others of wisdom in order to ultimately see them transformed by wisdom? Are we dutifully rehearsing virtue’s script in monotone or are we zealously proclaiming the beauty & benefit of virtue so as to compel our audience to receive the instruction of virtue?

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