Proverbs, how to get wisdom, instruction, good judgement, wise action, live well, wellbeing, embodied wisdom, learning, personal development, generative wisdom

Proverbs: How to get Wisdom, Instruction, and Good Judgement

For the past couple of years, I’ve chosen a Word of the Year – one value which I wish to embody in my life. It’s always been one of my values, but there’s always one that stands out more than others. For 2022, that word is Mastery:

  • the mastery of self (self-awareness and the resulting self-control) as well as
  • knowing more (knowledge and understanding) and
  • putting that new learning into practice.

Because to know anything is to do things differently from before.

Life management is about being well adjusted. … being able to stand against the wind of disappointment.
Time is not really the important element. It is what time represents that matters.
Time management is not about a list of things in order of priority that must be completed… Time management is about life management.

Given that life is mostly about intangible things, does it not make sense to learn to control them – things such as thoughts, desires, anger, curiosity, ambition, motivation, sadness, hurt and sorrow?
Althought we live in a tangible world, life itself occurs within our mind, spirit and soul.

Jonar C. Nader, How to Lose Friends & Infuriate People, a controversial book for thinkers.

For me, this is the essence of what I am reminded of when I read Proverbs – self-awareness and then the option for self-control.

The wisdom of Proverbs

One of the many things that I’ve had on my “I wish I had time to do” list is to deep dive back into Proverbs. Of all the books of the Bible, this is one of the two that most resonates with me. The other one is the book of James.

Proverbs has a special place in my heart because I remember my dad reading it to me every night before bed. Occasionally, we would talk about what a verse meant. But more often than not, it was just a reading of a chapter or a portion of a chapter.

I was left with many more questions than answers.

proverb, definition, dictionary.com, commonplace truth, adage, a wise saying, precept, a profound saying, maxim, oracular utterance, meaning of proverb
from dictionary.com

Of course, many times, we try to read Proverbs literally, and not all of it can be understood with a literal meaning.

My experience with Proverbs is that different ones “jump out at me” at different moments in life. Moreover, I’ve interpreted them differently, depending on what I’ve been learning at the time.

As with any proverbs, many of them take time to digest and understand.

The usefulness of Proverbs

In the very first chapter of Proverbs, there is a small introduction, although there is debate as to how much of the book of Proverbs this introduction applies to.

usefulness of proverbs, proverbs 1, amplified Bible, Solomon, wisdom, instruction, words of understanding, insight, wise behaviour, discipline, wise thoughtfulness, righteousness, justice, integrity, prudence, good judgement, asuste common sense, knowledge, discretion, intelligence discernment, learning, wise counsel, truth, understand a proverb, interpretation, the words of the wise,
Proverbs 1: 1-6, Amplified Bible

I find it irrelevant who the author of Proverbs was: I don’t read the book of Proverbs because of who wrote it.

Throughout my life, I’ve turned to Proverbs when I’m in turmoil. And these last three years have had their fair share of inner (and outer) turmoil.

Consider how other translations present the introduction to Proverbs:

proverbs 1, the message, wise sayings, Solomon, live well, understand, learning, right, just, fair, wise men
Proverbs 1: 1-6, The Message
proverbs 1, wisdom, instructions, words of understanding, justice, judgment, equity, knowledge, discretion, a wise man, learning, a man of understanding, wise counsel, understand a proverb, words of the wise, kjv
Proverbs 1: 1-6, King James Version

These are the wise sayings of Solomon,
    David’s son, Israel’s king—
Written down so we’ll know how to live well and right,
    to understand what life means and where it’s going;
A manual for living,
    for learning what’s right and just and fair;
To teach the inexperienced the ropes
    and give our young people a grasp on reality.
There’s something here also for seasoned men and women,
    still a thing or two for the experienced to learn—
Fresh wisdom to probe and penetrate,
    the rhymes and reasons of wise men and women.

The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel;

To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding;
To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity;
To give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion.
A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels:
To understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings.

The place of Proverbs

Proverbs is one of the five books of Wisdom of the Bible, together with Job, Psalms, Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon.

I find it interesting that two of these books are poetry and psalms, rather than writings of wisdom, per se. And yet, all five of the books offer unique perspectives on life and the experiences of life.

But, as you will have noticed from the introduction to Proverbs, it has lofty goals:

  • wisdom
    • wise behaviour
    • the discipline of wise thoughtfulness
    • good judgement
    • astute common sense
    • intelligent discernment
  • instruction
    • a manual for living
  • knowledge
  • understanding
    • to understand what life means
  • insight
  • righteousness
  • justice
  • integrity
  • lead others to the truth

The road to wisdom

So, over the coming weeks and months, I intend to take a new journey through Proverbs and re-examine how it impacts my life. What new wisdom can I glean from these pages?

Where do you go for wisdom?

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