The Principal Part of Knowledge
How to avoid the school of hard knocks

“The proverbs of Solomon, the son of David, king of Israel; To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding; To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment and equity; To give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion” (Proverbs 1:1-4).

Young man (and young lady), what do you notice here about the beginning of the book of Proverbs? One reason God inspired it and preserved it is to aid the young in obtaining knowledge and intelligence discernment!

As a young person, maybe the books of the law, the prophecies, even the epistles of the Bible may seem difficult to study and understand. Basic understanding is what you need as you begin to mature: Proverbs is a great place to start!

God appeared to Solomon in a dream and said, “Ask what I shall give you” (1 Kings 3:5). Here is how the king answered: “And now O Lord my God thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in.”

Solomon then asked God for discernment and an understanding heart because he knew he lacked those things. Because he desired these things from God above material wealth, God gave him that wisdom. In fact, He made Solomon wiser than anyone else!

Solomon is the one God inspired to write the book of Proverbs.

As you read and study Proverbs, you notice the words “my son” are used often. It would be a good practice to mark a few of those out and insert your name instead.

When you are young, you need to know: Where does gaining knowledge and understanding begin? “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7). In the margin of many King James Bibles, “knowledge” is noted as “the principal part of knowledge.”

Many people have knowledge, even abundant amounts of it, but they do not have the principal part of knowledge, which is fear and respect for your Creator! This is why there are so many people filled with knowledge and completely empty of morals!

One president of Johns Hopkins University summarized it this way: “For universities and colleges to educate young people without teaching morals is going to produce intelligent barbarians.”

Get the beginning of wisdom. Get “the principle part of knowledge.” Get it from the wisest man (excepting Jesus Christ) who has ever lived!

It is wise to note where Solomon says you can get some of that understanding. Proverbs 1:8: “My son [your name here], hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother.”

“Without family education, each generation starts from scratch, stumbling through life making the same mistakes as the one before” (Philadelphia Trumpet, July 2018).

“Most older people have gone through the school of hard knocks, by experience they have learned the valuable lessons about handling life’s difficult moments as well as its rewarding moments. And what happens when they are at the stage in life where they could share that information with younger generations? The younger generations for the most part, turn a deaf ear” (Plain Truth, September 1984).

You may think that you want to get out there and learn your own lessons and figure it out yourself and experience hardships for yourself. The “University of Hard Knocks” is a great teacher, but the problem with enrolling in that type of education is that the tuition can be astronomical and can cost you for the rest of your life!

Don’t excuse yourself from learning from your parents because, They ain’t good teachers, or, They don’t want me to have fun, or They just don’t understand. The wisest man said, Hear your father’s instruction and heed what your mother advises. Get started in Proverbs and lay a foundation. Get the principle part of knowledge. Ask God for it just like Solomon did.

The second chapter of Proverbs says: My son [your name here], … incline your ear to wisdom, apply your heart to understanding … cry after knowledge … seek her as silver … search for it as for hid treasure.

The wisest man is telling you: “Fill your boots son and get after wisdom like you’re getting after silver.” When people seek treasure, they are aggressive!

Hey, all I need is the silver, you might think. But the fact is, silver cannot pay for the hard-knocks tuition of loneliness, frustration and unhappiness. In fact, Solomon (who had all of the above) specifically said that having wealth and enjoying wealth are two different blessings. (See Ecclesiastes 5:19-6:2.)

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not to thine own understanding” Solomon instructs you in Proverbs 3:5. Whether you are younger or older, leaning to your own understanding means also leaning on emotions, feelings and attitudes that are unstable. How often have you experienced your feelings changing in short span of time? Feelings that change so rapidly are not a strong support for sound decisions.

Let’s be honest, young people. What do you know about health, about education, about drugs, about finances, about love, about dating, about marriage, about sex, about raising children, about the future? Not much! Any adult you talk to would admit they didn’t either when they were your age. In a few years, you yourself will say the same. Take one of these serious areas of life and picture yourself advising one of your peers on what they should do in a critical situation, and picture them doing exactly what you advise and experiencing the results. How uncomfortable even to imagine it! So the question, then, is, How confident should I be in my advice to myself?

“Lean not to thine own understanding,” Solomon said. Jeremiah said that the human heart—your heart—is actually the most deceitful thing there is! Your own heart will deceive you! Wow! If you can’t trust your own heart, whom can you trust?

You can trust in the Great God who loves you, who cares for you, who has set you apart. You can trust in the God who has left you a volume of education that will guide you not into the hard knocks but around them and into deeper understanding, trustworthy advice, rich experiences and godly wisdom.

Fill your boots sons and daughters! (Your name here), seek wisdom earnestly! Pay attention to your parents and pursue the principal part of knowledge using the book of Proverbs as your authoritative guide. God will be glad you did, your parents will be ecstatic that you did, and you will always be glad you did!