to understand a proverb and a saying,
the words of the wise and their riddles.
In this verse, there are four reasons why we should read Proverbs:
- to understand a proverb
- (to understand) a saying
- (to understand) the words of the wise
- (to understand) their riddles
The nouns here are:
The verbs are:
- to understand
proverb – māšāl
The Bible Sense Lexicon defines this word as “a condensed but memorable saying embodying some important fact of experience that is taken as true by many people.”(1) To limit the meaning though to a short, pithy statement “misses the wide sweep of the word, suggested by the many suggested translations”; for example, it can also refer to as an “extended parable” (see Ezek. 17:2 – 20:49) or an “extended didactic discourse” (Proverbs 1:8-19). It can also be used to refer to a person who is mentioned as an example (1 Sam. 10:12).(2)
saying – meliyṣāh
This one is difficult to pin-down, so again I’ll rely on the definition provided by the Bible Sense Lexicon: “a saying that is difficult and requires wisdom to understand with the connotation that it may mock the hearer.”(3) This word is only used twice in the entire Old Testament (the other being Hab. 2:6).
words – dāḇār
This word simply means “words” or something that is “stated”(4).
wise – ḥāḵām
Refer to Part 5 for this definition.
riddles – ḥiyḏāh
This noun means an “ambiguous saying”(5) or “enigmatic, perplexing saying or question”(6).
[the one who] (to) understand – biyn
Refer to Part 5 for this definition.
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.
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.
5 Not just to these have I written but also so that, on the other hand, those who are endowed with reason and using it – may understand the things they hear and pay attention to them; so that the intelligent who use the reason given to them may add to the teaching and instruction they have already received. I also wrote these words so that those who already know and are able to discern meaning may acquire good counsel and wise advice.
6 I am also writing these proverbs so that the you will be able to comprehend the meaning of things people say when they are conveying a truth about life, and even to know what the meaning is of those difficult things people sometimes say, even if they mean it mockingly. Finally, I write these things so that you will be able to know the meaning of the words of those who are intelligent and are actually using the reason given to them, and even to understand those things they say that are perplexing or mysterious.
Harris, R. Laird, Gleason L. Archer Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, eds. Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament 1999 : n. pag. Print. [1,3]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. Gesenius, Wilhelm, and Samuel Prideaux Tregelles. Gesenius’ Hebrew and Chaldee lexicon to the Old Testament Scriptures 2003 : n. pag. Print. See also these other resources for additional studies: Strong, James. Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon 2001 : n. pag. Print. Thomas, Robert L. New American Standard Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek dictionaries : updated edition 1998 : n. pag. Print. 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. Swanson, James. Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament) 1997 : n. pag. Print.