And now onto the next verse in our study:
3 to receive instruction in wise dealing,
in righteousness, justice, and equity;
In this verse, there are four reasons why we should read Proverbs: 4) to receive instruction in wise dealing, 5) in righteousness, 6) in justice, and 7) in equity. (See Part 2 for reasons 1-3)
The nouns here are:
- wise dealing
The verbs are:
instruction – mûsār
See Part 2 for this definition
wise dealing – sāḵal
The word “sakal” means to “act with insight” or with prudence.(1) It implies there are situations in which you must exercise wisdom. It is not enough to know certain things. We must be able to put our knowledge into action, wisely – prudently.
Note this passage that sheds light on this word:
When the poor and needy seek water,
and there is none,
and their tongue is parched with thirst,
I the Lord will answer them;
I the God of Israel will not forsake them.
18 I will open rivers on the bare heights,
and fountains in the midst of the valleys.
I will make the wilderness a pool of water,
and the dry land springs of water.
19 I will put in the wilderness the cedar,
the acacia, the myrtle, and the olive.
I will set in the desert the cypress,
the plane and the pine together,
20 that they may see and know,
may consider and understand together,
that the hand of the Lord has done this,
the Holy One of Israel has created it.
“The basic meaning of sakal seems to be ‘to look at, to give attention to,’…From this develops the connotation of insight, intellectual comprehension: “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom … But let him that glory in this, that he understands and knows me …” (Jer. 9:23-24).”(2)
righteousness – ṣeḏeq
Righteousness is one of those words, as Christians, we sometimes take for granted – that we know what it means. Our familiarity with hearing it doesn’t mean we can always easily define it. Simply put, it means right things, or even better obedience. It is defined in the bible helps as “…what is right, just, normal.”(3); “…a right relation to an ethical or legal standard.”(4)
justice – mišpāṭ
The word justice refers to “…a judgment, a legal decision, a legal case, a claim, proper, rectitude. The word connotes several variations in meanings depending on the context.”(5); “…justice, judgment, ordinance…”(6).
I use Logos Bible Software and one of the key features I like about version 5.0 is the Bible Sense Lexicon. It is extremely helpful not just in defining words, but helping to explain the meaning – the sense – of the words in their original languages. Here’s an example: the entry for the word justice:
“justice n. — judgment involved in the determination of rights and the assignment of rewards and punishments.”(7)
equity – mêšār
The equity means “evenness, uprightness…”(8); “…uprightly…”(9), so then it conveys the idea that your actions are upright. Bearing in mind the other words we’ve already defined then equity refers to prudent actions that are upright, or could be characterized as “even” – that is, they are reasonable and measured.
receive – lāqaḥ
Here’s another entry from the Bible Sense Lexicon, for the verb in this verse: receive.
“to take (accept) v. — to receive willingly something given or offered; whether physically or abstractly.”(10); “Primarily this word means “to take, grasp, take hold of,…”(11)
My Expository Paraphrase
1 These are the proverbs of Solomon, the king of Israel, so of David
2 I am writing these proverbs so that the one who reads them may know what to do with prudence and skill informed by experience and to have knowledge for living. The one who reads these proverbs will be able to use this knowledge to make right decisions and to distinguish between God’s wisdom and mere “advice”.
3 The one who reads these words of mine will take hold of the knowledge for living he needs so that he might exercise insight and prudence in all his life. This should be evident by seeing obedience in his life – that is, his words and actions should be right. He should also apply this knowledge for living in all his judgments and decisions so that he is upright and so that all his decisions are level and even and measured.
[1, 4, 5]Baker, Warren, and Eugene E. Carpenter. The complete word study dictionary: Old Testament 2003 : n. pag. Print. Baker, Warren. The Complete Word Study Concordance: Old Testament. Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2003. Print. [2, 11]Vine, W. E., Merrill F. Unger, and William White Jr. Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words 1996 : n. pag. Print. [3, 8]Brown, Francis, Samuel Rolles Driver, and Charles Augustus Briggs. Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon 2000 : n. pag. Print. [7, 10]Logos Bible Software. Bible Sense Lexicon. Strong, James. Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon 2001 : n. pag. Print.