Proverbs 1:2-4 To know wisdom and instruction, to understand words of insight, to receive instruction in wise dealing, in righteousness, justice, and equity; to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth— ESV translation
Solomon begins his collection of Proverbs with its purpose as stated in the verses above. Summed up, they speak of three areas:
When folks still milked cows* by hand, they normally used a three-legged stool. This stool was stable but allowed for quick movement to avoid Bessie’s manure-encrusted tail or a flying hoof.
Proverbs’ three areas—knowledge, wisdom, and discernment—are like the milk stool. A solid foundation that allows flexibility and adjustment.
Here are a summaries on each of the areas:
Knowledge is intellectual information gathered from life’s experiences: reading, observing, listening. One of life’s joys and responsibilities is to be a lifetime gatherer of knowledge. Always learning with an eager “learner’s lean.”
Wisdom is the insight we receive from God. It comes primarily from His word, His created world, those he has placed in our lives, and many other sources. The list is endless but the source (God) is unchanging.
Wisdom is what Proverbs is most concerned with. In much of the book, the writer contrasts wisdom with “foolishness.” Proverbs 26 is the “fool’s hall of fame (or shame).”
Finally discernment is plain old common sense. Of course, “common sense is not common.”
I’ve always wondered if it’s a natural skill or can be developed. I know this: some folks have a good dose of it, and others of us are in need of more.
As the old saw says, “When they were giving out sense, he heard the call for ‘brain’ and thought they said ‘rain’ and ran for the woods.”
Proverbs is chock-full of all three types mentioned above. Join us this month as we read a chapter per day beginning with today’s chapter 1.
God wants you to have knowledge, wisdom, and discernment. This is stated clearly in James 1:5: “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God…”
He wants you to be wise, not foolish.
And that’s no April Fool’s Joke.
*Below is an excerpt from my current manuscript, A Spent Bullet. It’s set during the 1941 La. Army Maneuvers: It takes place in a barn where brothers Ben and Jimmy Earl are milking.
He (the soldier) peered around Jimmy Earl who was squirting milk into a dented bucket. “What in the world are you doing?”
Swinging his body around on the small three-legged milking stool, Jimmy Earl said, “What’s it look like I’m doing? I’m milking a cow.”
The soldier, scrunching his nose up like something was dead, said, “I’ve always heard that’s how it’s done, but I’d never seen it until now.”
Ben had quit milking ol’ Bess to study the soldier. He realized the soldier wasn’t kidding, and he asked, “Where are you from?”
“New York City—the Bronx. It’s where the Yankees play.”
Ben was puzzled. “Y’all don’t get your milk from cows up there?”
“Sure, we do, but it comes from a dairy.”
“Well, this is where it starts.” In one motion, Jimmy Earl expertly aimed a teat at Jasper the barn cat, directing a stream of warm milk into its mouth. He followed this with his left forearm shielding his face from the cow’s manure-encrusted tail.