PROVERBS CHAPTER 1.
Wisdom Defined and Introduced in Person.
THE TITLE AND THE INTRODUCTION. — V. 1. The proverbs of Solomon, the son of David, king of Israel, 1 Kings 1, 39; 2, 12, a proverb, in this connection, designating a maxim or aphorism rather than a popular proverbial saying; v. 2. to know, to become most intimately acquainted with, wisdom and instruction, the latter word referring to education, moral training, the practical Bide of wisdom, by which it finds its application in everyday life; to perceive the words of understanding, enabling one to discern between good and evil; v. 3. to receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity, a training to a reasonable, intelligent condition, to understand what is in agreement with duty and right and uprightness in one s entire behavior; v. 4. to give subtilty, cleverness, prudence, discernment, to the simple, to all who are too easily inclined to yield to the allurements of sin, to the young man, who is still inexperienced, knowledge and discretion, the thoughtfulness, circumspection, and caution which weighs every matter carefully and never plunges headlong into danger. The author now shows that writings of this nature will be appreciated by such as are trying to shape their conduct in life in accordance with the will of God. V. 5. A wise man will hear, realizing the value of such instruction and therefore yielding a willing ear, and will increase learning, adding to the stock already at his disposal, not haughtily insisting that he knows it all; and a man of understanding, one who has some insight into the demands of the proper Christian conduct, shall attain unto wise counsels, gladly accepting and adopting all the measures which prudent knowledge suggests; v. 6. to understand a proverb and the interpretation, that is, enigma, figurative speech, readily to see and apply the lessons contained in the maxims of this book; the words of the wise and their dark sayings, the lessons which they clothe in such figures and parabolic utterances that they require careful study. No true wisdom is easily acquired, least of all that pertaining to a God-fearing conduct in life.
A FUNDAMENTAL TRAIT OF WISDOM IS THE AVOIDANCE OF WICKEDNESS. — V. 7. The fear of the Lord, the reverence of Jehovah flowing from childlike faith in Him, is the beginning of knowledge, the basis of all true wisdom, both in understanding the Word and will of the Lord and in applying this understanding in one’s entire conduct, in every situation of life; but fools despise wisdom, learning and knowledge of every kind, and instruction, the moral training which follows understanding. V. 8. My son, hear the instruction of thy father, his discipline, his teaching, as applied to all matters and conditions of life, and forsake not the law of thy mother, setting aside her doctrine, her instructive precepts; v.9. for they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, a lovely wreath, or diadem, adorning the head, and chains about thy neck, the teachings of wisdom being like a necklace of pearls imparting grace and charm to the wearer. The general admonition is now followed by a specific warning. V. 10. My son, if sinners, habitual transgressors of the law, criminals, entice thee, literally, “open the way,” making it seem inviting and alluring, consent thou not, an outright refusal being the only way to cope with such a situation. V. 11. If they say, Come with us, let us lay wait for blood, without any reason for revenge, merely out of the lust for slaying; let us lurk privily for the innocent without cause, like the huntsman hidden near a game trail; v. 12. let us swallow them up alive as the grave, their murder bringing them down to the realm of the dead, and whole, while they are living in uprightness and in full possession of God’s blessings, as those that go down into the pit, who descend into the grave, their plans thus contemplating a most heinous crime, cold-blooded murder; v. 13. we shall find all precious substance, rich booty of all kinds, robbery following murder; we shall fill our houses with spoil, namely, in this career of ruthless killing and robbing; v. 14. cast in thy lot among us, joining them on an equal basis, also in the division of the booty; let us all have one purse, one treasury in which they would all share. Such a proposal might place glittering prospects before the eyes of inexperienced youth, and therefore the warning is repeated with great emphasis: v. 15. My son, the tender form of address being very effective in influencing a young person for good, walk not thou in the way with them, every form of association with the wicked being dangerous; refrain thy foot from their path, the mention of a single member of the body increasing the impressiveness of the passage; v. 16. for their feet run to evil and make haste to shed blood, wherefore all godly people will shun the pathway of crime. V. 17. Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird, literally, “in the eyes of everything possessing wings,” that is, if even a bird will flee from the net which is openly spread in his sight, how much more should a God-fearing young person shun the allurement of crime held out with such boldness! V. 18. And they lay wait for their own blood, it is their own lives which are finally taken, either on account of treachery in their own ranks or because murder will be punished at last; they lurk privily for their own lives, being caught in the net which they spread for others. V. 19. So are the ways of every one that Is greedy of gain, that is the fate of all those who choose a career of crime in serving the vice of avarice, which taketh away the life of the owners thereof, unjust gain invariably bringing punishment upon the criminal. The love of money is the root of all evil, drawing men into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown them in destruction and perdition, I Tim. 6, 9. 10.
THE INVITATION OF WISDOM. — V. 20. Wisdom, the essence of divine knowledge and true understanding, as set forth throughout the Book of Proverbs, crieth without, on the street, in public places, not ashamed of her teaching, but openly seeking the welfare of all; she uttereth her voice in the streets, on the principal thoroughfares; v. 21. she crieth in the chief place of concourse, where there are crowds of people in noisy surging, in the openings of the gates, where market was held in Oriental cities, which served as their public square; in the city, on the inner side of the gates, she uttereth her words, saying, v. 22. How long, ye simple ones, inexperienced and ingenuous people, easily influenced by temptation, will ye love simplicity and the scorners delight in their scorning, their open denial and rejection of the truth, and fools, who consider themselves above instruction, hate knowledge? V. 23. Turn you at my reproof, from the evil and perverse way which they were then following. Behold, I will pour out my Spirit unto you, in abundant fullness and refreshing power; I will make known my words unto you, for the Spirit of the Lord is given in and through His Word. There is a pause here, as though wisdom were waiting for the simple, the scorners, and the fools to accept her invitation. But no answer being forthcoming, a stern rebuke is added. V. 24. Because I have called, and ye refused, paying no attention to the kind invitation; I have stretched out My hand, in a gesture of eager beseeching, and no man regarded; v. 25. but ye have set at naught all My counsel, refusing to make use of it and to follow it, and would none of My reproof, absolutely declining to consider it, v. 26. I also will laugh at your calamity, in holy mockery at their distress; I will mock when your fear cometh, when terror would overwhelm. them; v. 27. when your fear cometh as desolation, like a tempest sweeping every thing before it, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you, their oppressing and cramping effect being the result of men’s refusing to accept the precepts of true wisdom. V. 28. Then shall they call upon Me, praying for wisdom to meet the emergency in which they would find themselves, but I will not answer; they shall seek Me early, with the rising of the dawn, with great diligence, but they shall not find Me, cp. Amos 8, 11-13. V. 29. For that they hated knowledge, when it was offered to them, and did not choose the fear of the Lord, the basis and source of all true wisdom; v. 30. they would none of My counsel, did not yield to its kind insistence; they despised all My reproof, v. 31. therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, experiencing the evil consequences of their foolish and wicked action, and be filled with their own devices, get their fill of their evil planning even to the point where it sickens them. V. 32. For the turning away of the simple, when they turned away from discipline and forsook wisdom, shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools, their carnal security, their idle, easy rest, which renders them too proud to seek understanding, shall destroy them; for a man’s rejection on the part of God is the consequence either of his rejection of the Word or his indifference to its teaching. V. 33. But whoso hearkeneth unto Me, yielding a glad obedience, shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil, at ease and without fear in the midst of dangers threatening on all sides. Such is the quiet security of the believers, since it is grounded, not in their own wisdom and understanding, but in the eternal wisdom of God, the everlasting Word.