To know wisdom and instruction
That is, these proverbs were made, and written, and published, to make known or to teach men wisdom and knowledge; not only in things moral, and therefore these proverbs are by some called Solomon's "ethics"; and indeed they do contain the best system of morality in the whole world; nothing like it is to be extracted out of all the writings of the Heathen poets and philosophers: nor only in things civil; for which reason they may be called his "politics", seeing they are instructive to kings and civil magistrates, and to subjects; and also his "economics", seeing they furnish out rules for husbands and wives, parents and children, masters and servants, worthy of their attention and observance: but also they are a means of and are designed to teach spiritual and evangelical wisdom and knowledge; things relating to Jesus Christ, the wisdom of God, and the way of life and salvation by him, the knowledge of which is life eternal. These words, with others that follow, seem to be synonymous, and signify much one and the same thing; and are used to show that the most consummate wisdom and comprehensive knowledge may be attained by means of this book; which, like the rest of Scripture, with a divine blessing, is able to make a man "wise unto salvation"; and is "profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness", ( 2 Timothy 3:15 2 Timothy 3:16 ) ; where the apostle seems to allude to this text: since "wisdom" here may stand for "doctrine" in general; and "instruction" may signify the means of attaining to it; and it may be observed, that the word is used for "discipline" and "correction", as well as "instruction". If these words are to be distinguished, the first, "wisdom", may design a wise scheme and plan of truths, and the theory of them and the latter, "instruction", the learning it and putting it into practice; and for both theory and practice this book is useful;
to perceive the words of understanding;
which flow from a good understanding, and give a right understanding of things; so that a man may be able to distinguish between light and darkness, truth and error, right and wrong; particularly the doctrines of the Gospel may be meant, which are eminently so, and exceed the understanding of a natural man, and which are only understood by a spiritual man; the means of knowing which are the Scriptures, under the guidance and direction of the Spirit of God.