While there is significant agreement about Solomon’s authorship of Proverbs 1-9, the question of his audience is far more difficult to answer. A popular opinion is that Solomon was writing to his son, which makes sense in light of the frequent repetition of “my son” in these early chapters. However, there is reason to believe “my son” refers to more than just Solomon’s genetic offspring.
Commentator Bruce Waltke understands that Proverbs “is addressed to gullible youths (Prov 1:4) and wise children (Prov 1:5, 8) to enable them to attain wisdom and be safeguarded against the world-and-life views of the impious and unethical in any age.” My former Hebrew professor Frederic Clarke Putnam takes it a step further when he argues that the primary audience was likely “young men from relatively wealthy backgrounds.” The wealth possessed by the desirable wife (Proverbs 31:13-16, 20-24), and the prevalence of proverbs advising one in his relationship with the king (for example Proverbs 16:12-15, 25:1-7) demonstrate that Solomon has an audience in mind more specific than all of Israel’s children yet more broad than one or more of Solomon’s own sons.
I propose that Proverbs as a whole is not intended for young children primarily, but rather for young people among Israel’s nobility who are transitioning to adulthood and preparing to become leaders in society. They must be of marriageable age, if they are being given significant advice on choosing a partner (Proverbs 31:10-31). They are expected to use their wealth and influence for the causes of goodness and justice in the land (for example Proverbs 16:23, 18:5, 22:16, 29:3, 29:26). They are growing up and preparing to leave their parents’ homes and enter the world of more independent responsibility.
In our generation, Proverbs has significant application to anyone who currently has or hopes to obtain a leadership role in society. Are you a parent? Would you like to lead others to Christ? Do you hope to see the world become a better place? Do you have a bank account that God wants you to steward for the building of his kingdom? Do you interact with other people at any time? If you answer yes to any of these questions, then you have a significant responsibility from the Lord: do it wisely. And Proverbs can help.
 Waltke, The Book of Proverbs Chapters 1-15, NICOT (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2004), p.37.  The Complete Biblical Library: The Old Testament Study Bible: Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs (Springfield, MO: World Library Press, 1998), p.450.  See Proverbs 6:20-23, where the parents expect the commands themselves to take over the teaching role that the father and mother have held to this point in the young person’s life.