to give prudence to the simple,
knowledge and discretion to the youth—
In this verse, there are three reasons why we should read Proverbs:
- “to give prudence to the simple”
- “to give knowledge… to the youth”
- “to give…discretion to the youth”
The nouns here are:
The verbs are
- to give
prudence – ʿormāh
This is a noun that means “craftiness, prudence”.(1) It is used to denote the crafty schemes of foreign kings in Joshua 9:4 (2), but within Proverbs it is best translated prudence. The Logos Bible Sense Lexicon gives it the following meaning: “discretion in practical affairs”.(3) This definition makes a strong case for reading Proverbs – who doesn’t want discretion in practical affairs?
simple – peṯiy
This Hebrew word means one who is “young, naive”(4) and “foolish, simple-minded”(5). However, this is not to describe someone who is beyond hope of change. For example, elsewhere in Proverbs (specifically chapter 9, verses 4 and 16) the simple are urged to listen and heed instruction.(6)
knowledge – daʿaṯ
This word da’at is a “general term for knowledge, particularly that which is of a personal, experimental nature.” It is also used to speak of technical skill needed to build something (Exodus 31:3; 35:31; 1 King 7:14); elsewhere it is used to mean “discernment” (Psalm 119:66). This knowledge comes from God; He gives it to mankind (Proverbs 2:6).(7)
discretion – mezimmāh
This word denotes “a plan” or “a thought”(8). It is widely used to describe the schemes of wicked men, but in Proverbs it is used to “[convey a] sense of prudence, discretion, and wisdom”(9). Swanson defines it as “the ability to make proper decisions”.(10)
youth – naʿar
In its simplest meaning it is used of a “youth, over against an older man”, but one who is considered to be “of a marriageable age”(11).
to give – nāthan
This verb means “to give” and has the sense of “to cause to have” whether in abstract or concrete terms (12). This verb is used more than 2000 times and has a wide variety of translations; generally, the three broad meanings are A) to give; B) to put or set; and C) to make or constitute.(13)
My Expository Paraphrase
[1,2,5,8,9]Baker, Warren, and Eugene E. Carpenter. The complete word study dictionary: Old Testament 2003 : n. pag. Print. 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. [7,13]Harris, R. Laird, Gleason L. Archer Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, eds. Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament 1999 : n. pag. Print. [3,12]Logos Bible Software. Bible Sense Lexicon. Holladay, William Lee, and Ludwig Köhler. A concise Hebrew and Aramaic lexicon of the Old Testament 2000 : n. pag. Print. Brown, Francis, Samuel Rolles Driver, and Charles Augustus Briggs. Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon 2000 : n. pag. Print. Swanson, James. Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament) 1997 : n. pag. Print.
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.
4 I am also writing these words to cause those who are young, naive, and even foolish to have a craftiness – or shrewdness – in practical affairs that pleases the Lord, to give to those who are young, the youth, not yet married: knowledge and discernment so that they are equipped with discretion for proper decision-making.