Why should we study the book of Proverbs? What is there that we can learn from this book and these pithy little comments made by Solomon - many of which he learned at the feet of David while just a boy? That is what these first 6 verses in Proverbs one are going to tell us. There are very few books in the Bible that actually tell you why you should study and read them. Proverbs does this - telling you exactly what you will get if you read the pages that follow.
1) To Know Wisdom - Here is the first benefit of reading Proverbs. We will know wisdom. To know here means to learn and perceive - to discern and to be skillful. What a loaded word this is. There are two things happening here. The first is an acquiring of skill and general knowledge. This is done by reading, studying, and simply learning what Proverbs says. But there is a more sublte learning taking place as well. This is where we are discerning and perceiving things. To perceive and discern something requires the power of discrimination. We need to be able to tell the difference between things that differ.
We are to know wisdom. What is meant by wisdom? The word, as used in the Scriptures, means the ability to use knowledge rightly. It means using the knowledge God gives properly. Thus many biblical scholars refer to wisdom and seeing things from God's perspective. Some of this will require just learning what God says - and learning how God responds to things. But more of it will require taking what God says and applying it to our culture and every day lives. We then distinguish between what is in accordance with God's Word - and what is not. In the end, we learn wisdom! We know how to walk in this world in a way that pleases and honors God.
2) To Know Instruction - The second word used is instruction. This word means discipline. It refers in some places to the discpline given by a father to a son or daughter. This instruction may come as instruction alone - but some times it comes via the rod/correction. This kind of instruction brings life, wisdom, and the favor of God (see Proverbs 4:13; 8:33) The book of Proverbs will help us see things like God sees them (wisdom), but they will also correct and rebuke us. This is hard sometimes, but remember that this is done as a loving father would rebuke and correct. Thus, God's corrections are so we can receive life and wisdom - as well as to know the favor of God on our lives and the things we do.
3) To Discern the Sayings of Understanding - It is one thing to hear something - it is quite another to discern what is being said. Here is one of the wonderful benefits of studying the Proverbs of God. They give us "sayings of understanding." We love these sayings - and they are quoted a lot. But it is not enough to just be able to quote them - we need to grasp what they are saying to us - what they mean. We might hear the quaint old phrase, "A penny saved is a penny earned," but outside of thinking it is neat - we might not have a clue what this saying it teaching us. Even worse, we may have no idea how to apply it so that we become someone who knows the value of saving money. The reason to study Proverbs is so that they will not just sound spiritual - but that they will move us to spiritual action and lifestyles. According to one commentator, sayings of understanding are basically says calling us to righteous action. They encourage us to turn away from evil and embrace God's ways. We do this at first with simple obedience - but over time we discern more than just a call to do something. Proverbs answers the oft asked question of the two year old - WHY? At times God will tell us to obey - and what we need to do is obey immediately, but as we grow in wisdom, discipline, and discernment - we will find that we are getting the "why" of God's commandments more and more. At this point we are grasping the value of "discerning the sayings of understanding." We will be greatly blessed as we embrace obedience with a new depth of discernment and understanding. We will grasp the character of God behind the wisdom and instruction. We will become a proponent of obedience to God, not just from surrender and submission, but also from a sense of awe as we consider His infinite wisdom.
Study Proverbs - read about it and spend time learning and discerning as a result. You will find at first the blessing of God's ways and paths, but soon you will also marvel at the infinite wisdom and understanding behind each and every one of them.