This proverb makes a very clear recommendation – grow in wisdom!
Solomon starts by directing this proverb as a “father” instructing his “sons” – whilst this could be directed at his sons specifically, I think this is a much broader set of instructions for all of us from a wise father
(remember we are all God’s children, and He inspires all scripture).
Solomon instructs us to pay attention, learn and not ignore the teaching to come. He doesn’t even do this out of his own authority (in-spite of being a King), but rather explains that he is passing this knowledge on, as he was once a son to his father, who taught him to “take hold of my words with all your heart, keep your commands, and you will live” – so Solomon isn’t just giving you his opinions, he’s relaying God’s teaching (so it’s important that we listen).
I like the way Solomon puts it in the NIV; “The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom” it’s an almost
flippant way of putting it, but I find it refreshing; there’s no special technique or huge learning curve. He’s basically saying “it’s not rocket science!” – if you want to be wise, then you just need to make the choice to receive some wisdom. There may also be a sense of sacrifice in the translation of the word “get”, i.e. whilst anyone can be wise, you may have to give up certain things.
So, WHY should we be wise? Just because Solomon says so? Remember, his “father” taught him (implying that our heavenly Father teaches us all). So should I be wise just because God says so? Well yes actually. God isn’t a man who can make mistakes or has ulterior motives; God knows what is best in ALL instances. God also knows the benefits that being wise will have, and He only wants success for us (no matter what we do; his love is unconditional) – so it would be madness to ignore is advice/commands.
I love in verse 6 how is says “love [wisdom], and she will watch over you” – wisdom helps us and cares for us, and leads to prosperity. And on the other side of the coin, Solomon talks about wickedness (positioned here as the opposite to wisdom; showing that wickedness is foolish). We should avoid wickedness, and being sucked in by wicked tendencies or walking with wicked people (wisdom leads to prosperity, and wickedness/foolishness leads to destruction).
The last part to mention is verse 23, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it”. In some translations, this is written as “keep your heart”. I think the word “keep” is used more
frequently, but I find it a little too ambiguous – the word guard for me paints a much clearer picture:
our heart is vitally important and easily damaged by wickedness, so you must guard it diligently (like an armoured soldier). Since everything we do flows from it, even the slightest pollution of our hearts can stop us bearing fruit and lead us down a wicked path. Verse 24 onwards gives us some practical ways of guarding our hearts, like being mindful to not speak lies or let our eyes be distracted by temptations.
I encourage you to listen to the phrase “The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom” – it may require some sacrifice, but anyone can do it; it just requires a choice to honour God, and our loving God will bring you success and protection because of it.