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Blog - Proverbs 1:6

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For all the blogs in this series, click here: Proverbs Commentary.

Proverbs 1:6

"To understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings." (Pro 1:6)


To understand a proverb and the interpretation, Solomon taught in the previous verse that a wise man must attain unto wise counsel, listen, and learn (Pro 1:5). A proverb is "a short pithy saying in common and recognized use; a concise sentence, often metaphorical or alliterative in form, which is held to express some truth ascertained by experience or observation and familiar to all; an adage, a wise saw" (OED). Though a proverb is a saying in common use, its meaning is not necessarily obvious to all. Given that a proverb is a wise saying that expresses a truth gained by experience, those who have yet to experience what the older and wiser generation have must therefore learn to understand and interpret their sayings.

Even to a learned man, some of the proverbs are difficult to understand, hence the reason they are called dark sayings. A dark saying is a saying which is "obscure in meaning, hard to understand" (OED). By comparing Psa 78:2 with Mat 13:35 we find that a dark saying is something which has been kept secret.

Psa 78:2 - I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings, of old:

Mat 13:35 - That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.

Some proverbs, therefore, are secretive sayings with obscure meanings that are hard to be understood which is why they have to be interpreted. According to Solomon, the proverb itself must first be understood, after which the interpretation can be comprehended (Pro 1:6). Put another way, to understand what a verse means we must first understand what it says.

To know what a proverb says requires that we identify its form which will usually be one of the following types: comparing, contrasting, or a statement of truth (see blog on Interpreting a Proverb). Once it is clear what a proverb says, then the interpretation must be given which is, "the action of interpreting or explaining; explanation, exposition" (OED). In other words, to give the interpretation is to explain what the proverb means.

To repeat what was before stated, to understand a proverb and the interpretation, a wise man must attain unto wise counsels (Pro 1:5-6). The counsel of older, learned men of God is extremely valuable to the young man aspiring to understand and explain a proverb. How can he understand what he reads, except some man should guide him (Act 8:30-31)? "In the multitude of counselors there is safety" (Pro 11:14), and therein purposes are established (Pro 15:22), but the best counsel of all is "the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand" (Pro 19:21).

Where do we find the counsel of the LORD? He tells us in the very book we are studying.

Pro 22:20 - Have not I written to thee excellent things in counsels and knowledge,
Pro 22:21 - That I might make thee know the certainty of the words of truth; that thou mightest answer the words of truth to them that send unto thee?

Pro 2:6 - For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.

Psa 119:24 - Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counsellors.

The best way to understand a proverb and the interpretation is to learn in the manner in which the Holy Ghost teaches, "comparing spiritual things with spiritual" (1Co 2:13); in other words, comparing scripture with scripture. For the finest explanation of an author's work, it's best to ask the author himself. The proverbs are no different.

For a more thorough explanation of the interpretation of the proverbs, review: Interpreting a Proverb.


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For the previous blog in this series, click here: Proverbs 1:5.
For the next blog in this series, click here: Proverbs 1:7.

For all the blogs in this series, click here: Proverbs Commentary.