The Blessedness of Wisdom – Proverbs 3:13

אַשְׁרֵ֣י אָ֭דָם מָצָ֣א חָכְמָ֑ה וְ֜אָדָ֗ם יָפִ֥יק תְּבוּנָֽה׃

For a much better presentation of this verse you can find and download the PDF file with grammar notes here: Proverbs 3, 13 The Blessedness of Wisdom.

Translation: Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding (Proverbs 3:13 -ESV)

Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. (Proverbs 3:13 – KJV)

How blessed is the man who finds wisdom, And the man who gains understanding. (Proverbs 3:13 – NAS)

Waltke: Blessed is the human being who finds wisdom, the human being who obtains understanding.

Interpretation: This passage is found in a section that exalts the value of wisdom (vv. 13-26).  It is superior to precious minerals (vv. 14-15), and its benefits are specified in vv. 16-18a.  See the inclusion with 18b (blessed).  Note the first word (identical to the first word in Ps. 1:1 – a wisdom/didactic psalm) and the first word in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (the Septuagint uses the same Greek word [μακάριος] as in this sermon to translate אַשְׁרֵ֣י).  Wisdom is concerned with our ‘happiness,” and so is Jesus, the Wisdom of God.  But note that this ‘blessedness” does not depend on circumstances, and it is not found by being pursued.  One has to pursue wisdom, holiness and a right relationship with God (see Ps. 1:1-2) to arrive to this state.

Waltke: Sages reserve the laudatory exclamation (blessed) for people who experience life optimally, as the Creator intended.  The largest number of these 26 pronouncements has the near or distant future in view, but the future depends on a present relationship with God.  Note that the pronouncement does not confer blessing – that idea belongs to brk – but serves instead to hold up a human being as a model before the addressee to be envied and imitated [in my opinion – ashrei is the poetical equivalent of baruq] (W. Janzen).  Finds implies an aggressive search, not a chance happening.  He gains/obtains wisdom by a decision to accept the father’s teaching by faith (2:1-4; 3:1). Understanding is the pinnacle of human aspiration and the epitome of success, not as an end in itself, but as the means of gaining abundant life and shalom, which is replete with wealth and glory, pleasure and prosperity.

Bridges: Who does not admire this glowing picture of happiness? The wisdom of this world can give no such happiness…The naturally wise man is a fool when it comes to heavenly wisdom.  But the man of prayer gains understanding. It is the search for “the pearl of great price,” more precious than rubies, yea, than all things that could, be desired (Matt 13: 45, 46, with Chap.23: 28. Cf. Chap. 8: 11, 19; Job 28: 15-18.).  So the Apostle judged. So upon a trial he found it. All the world’s show, all his former valuable “gain, he counted as dung and dross” for “the true wisdom”—”the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus his Lord.” (Philip. iii. 4-8.) Never will solid happiness be known without this singleness of judgment and purpose. This inestimable blessing must have the throne. The waverer and the half-seeker fall short. Deter-mined perseverance wins the prize. (Philip. iii. 12-14.)

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