Proverbs 1:5

What’s on Your To-Learn List?

Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance. Proverbs 1:5

What have you learned lately? Have you tried a new recipe or workout routine? Maybe you’re more ambitious than that. Have you tackled a new language or career?

Thanks to the Internet, the amount of data available to us is almost endless. Back in 2011, Time writer Graeme McMillan said, “every hour, enough information is consumed by internet traffic to fill 7 million DVDs.”[1] According to another source, “the indexed web contained at least 3.32 billion pages as of July 2014.”[2]

But accumulating information is not the same as acquiring wisdom. Although several Bible versions use “receive instruction” in Proverbs 1:3, the Hebrew word, muwcar, implies discipline.[3] One version puts it this way: the purpose of the proverbs is “to teach people to live disciplined and successful lives” (NLT). Wisdom, then, is a passion, a matter of the mind, heart, and will. Like treasure hunters, the wise devote their lives to a quest for wisdom (Proverbs 2:4). In fact, the Hebrew word translated “learning” in Proverbs 1:5 refers to “that which captivates.”[4]

What captivates the wise? According to Proverbs 1:1-6, they’re enthralled by what is just, right, and fair. They pursue prudence—the exercise of reason, forethought, and self-control. They seek guidance, recognizing wisdom’s voice in a parent’s advice, a pastor’s sermon, and a friend’s caution.

The wise also know what to avoid. According to Proverbs 1:10-19, they bypass the people who prey on others, relish violence, and pursue ill-gotten gain. In our age, that includes TV programs, movies, and websites.

Ultimately, the wise focus on one thing: the pursuit of God. They know the “fear of the LORD is the foundation of wisdom. Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment” (Proverbs 9:10 NLT). If we have the proper regard for God’s holiness and His commands, we’ll be better able to discern what learning to pursue and to avoid. Therefore, the first thing on our to-learn list should be the wisdom contained in God’s Word.

Is that written at the top your list?


Read Proverbs 3:13-24 and 4:7-13. What are the benefits of pursuing wisdom?

The book of James is sometimes called “The Proverbs of the New Testament” because it contains a lot of short, unrelated sayings. Read James 1 and see if you can find some proverbs related to wise living. Memorize one this week.

Read 2 Timothy 3:1-5 and 10-16. What advice does Paul give his spiritual son, Timothy, in these verses? How is it similar to what Solomon says to his son in Proverbs 2:1-22?

Other devotions related to this topic are found in Dig into Words under Acknowledge and Wisdom.

Denise K. Loock

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[3] Hebrew Lexicon :: H4148 (KJV).” Blue Letter Bible. Accessed 9 Sep, 2014.

[4] “Hebrew Lexicon :: H3948 (KJV).” Blue Letter Bible. Accessed 9 Sep, 2014.

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