In our study of Proverbs, we see a picture of young people starting out in life and the choices that they have to make. A proverb (mashal in Hebrew) is a short saying that expresses truth and wisdom. This is a collection of those sayings and it tells the story of young people starting their lives on their own.
"The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel:" NIV translation
The first part of this book contains sayings from Solomon who was the wisest man the world has ever seen. We remember that, when Solomon was told that he could ask for anything from God, he asked for wisdom and God granted it (2 Chronicles 1).
"for gaining wisdom and instruction; for understanding words of insight; for receiving instruction in prudent behavior; doing what is right and just and fair;" NIV translation
Here, we see the purpose of these sayings. Wisdom is the ability to properly use knowledge and for us, as Christians, it is the mind of Jesus Christ.
Instruction is talking about teaching using discipline while understanding speaks of intelligence.
Prudent behavior is referring to the fact that not all knowledge is to be shared at all times with all people. Prudence is using good judgment on when to share your knowledge. In short, these sayings are meant to show us how to live a life that brings glory to God.
"for giving prudence to those who are simple, knowledge and discretion to the young - let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance - for understanding proverbs and parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise." NIV translation
We see that these sayings are for the benefit of everyone. The simple speaks of foolish people and we see that they are given good judgment. A fool will usually run around doing whatever pops into their mind. They have no direction or ability to filter their actions. We see that they give knowledge to the young and the ability to think before acting. We all have been young and impulsive but these sayings can give young people a pause so they do not end up doing foolish things. Even the wise can add to their understanding.