PROVERBS CHAPTER 3.
Exhortation to Various Virtues.
OBEDIENCE, FAITH, AND LIBERALITY URGED. — V. 1. My son, forget not my law, the teaching of wisdom; but let thine heart keep my commandments, sincerely observing all instructions of God’s Word; v. 2. for length of days and long life and peace, literally, “years of life and peace,” shall they add to thee, earthly prosperity and happiness following the application of knowledge gained from the divine Law. V. 3. Let not mercy and truth, both on the part of men and on .the part of God, forsake thee, loving sympathy and companionship being one of the prime factors in our moral life; bind them about thy neck, like a costly chain or necklace, from which was suspended tile seal-ring; write them upon the table of thine heart, the emphasis being both upon the inward motives and upon tile outward expression and adornment in the way of virtues. V. 4. So shalt thou find favor, gracious acceptance, and good understanding, good reputation, good success, in the sight of God and man, the good opinion on the part of men corresponding to the favorable judgment on the part of God, and both serving for the success of the believer. This being a gracious gift on the part of God, the godly person is warned: v. 5. Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, committing oneself entirely to the grace and faithfulness of Jehovah, and lean not unto thine own understanding, in false and blameworthy self-confidence. V. 6. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, by reposing one’s trust in Him and relying entirely upon His wisdom, and He shall direct thy paths, for the benefit and well-being of His child. V.7. Be not wise in thine own eyes, puffed up with an imagined superiority on account of possible greater learning, since the wisdom of this world is not essential before God; fear the Lord, such reverence for Jehovah serving to set aside one’s own wisdom, and depart from evil, this course being natural in the case of a child of God, to whom all wickedness is undesirable and loathsome. V. 8. It shall be health to thy navel, considered as the center of the entire body, and marrow to thy bones, refreshing the entire organism with vigor and strength; for such is the effect of a good conscience and of an honest endeavor to serve the Lord in faith. V. 9. Honor the Lord with thy substance, with the riches which one enjoys as His blessing, repaying Him from tile gifts granted by Him, and with the first-fruits of all thine increase, the yield of one’s work and the harvest of one’s land, for mere lip-service is not sufficient, the Lord demanding tangible evidence of the faith which His children profess to possess; v. 10. so shall thy barns be filled with plenty, as a reward of God’s gracious favor and fatherly kindness, and thy presses, rather, the vats where the wine was stored, shall burst out with new wine, overflowing with rich abundance by the blessing of God, with which He would acknowledge the willingness of His children. But the opposite also holds true: As we should not forget the Lord in days of plenty, so we should not be estranged from Him in evil days. V. 11. My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord, the correction which He deals out in the school of life; neither be weary of His correction, regarding it with loathing and aversion; v. 12. for whom the Lord loveth He correcteth, and so the person subject to His discipline thereby receives a proof of His love; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth, or, “holds him dear as a father his son, in whose case tile lack of discipline is rightly referred to a want of fatherly love. Cp. Job 5, 17; Heb. 12, 5. 6.
THE HAPPINESS OF POSSESSING TRUE WISDOM. — V. 13. Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, obtaining it with eagerness and holding it securely, and the man that getteth understanding, drawing or digging it out, even with much labor. V. 14. For the merchandise of it, the act of gaining or acquiring wisdom, is better than the merchandise of silver, such as men are eager to accumulate, and the gain thereof than fine gold, even though it be of the finest and purest kind. V. 15. She is more precious than rubies, or corals, gems of the greatest costliness; and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her, wisdom surpassing them all by far. Cp. Job 28, 18. V. 16. Length of days is in her right hand, as a reward to those who accept and exercise true wisdom; and in her left hand riches and honor, all the blessings of true prosperity being dispensed by her. V. 17. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, with never a disagreeable feature to mar one’s enjoyment of true wisdom, and all her paths are peace, without the strife and alarm found where human wisdom is proclaimed. V. 18. She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her, her fruit preserving life, so that living is a blessing; and happy is every one that retaineth her, keeping a firm hold upon this wonderful species of knowledge learned from the Word of God. V. 19. The Lord by wisdom hath founded the earth, by means of His personal, essential wisdom, which He has also revealed in His Word; by understanding hath He established the heavens, preparing them with proper discrimination and judgment. V. 20. By his knowledge the depths are broken up, the seas did divide, breaking forth from the chaotic mass of formless matter and occupying their fixed places, and the clouds drop down the dew, the rain still falling in agreement with His laws. From the majesty with which the work of creation portrays the wisdom of the Lord the author now deduces admonitions which should be heeded by all the godly. V. 21. My son, let not them depart from thine eyes, namely, these words of instruction, lest they escape in a moment when vigilance is relaxed; keep sound wisdom and discretion, or “thoughtfulness and circumspection,” prudence properly applied in all affairs of life; v. 22. so shall they be life unto thy soul and grace, or charm, to thy neck, like an ornament, a fine bit of jewelry. V. 23. Then shalt thou walk in thy way safely, free from anxiety and care, secure in the Lord’s protection, and thy foot shall not stumble, on account of some obstruction with which the enemies attempt to bring the godly to fall. V. 24. When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid, be filled with anxious trembling; yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet, untroubled by any notion of impending danger, like that of a child. V. 25. Be not afraid of sudden fear, such an alarm as would tend to fill the heart with terror, neither of the desolation of the wicked when it cometh, who would come sweeping along like a destructive tempest. V. 26. For the Lord shall be thy Confidence, a safe place of refuge, and shall keep thy foot from being taken, in the snares which the godless are always spreading for the feet of the unwary for which reason the believers are all the more under obligations to make use of the true wisdom in keeping their feet on the right path.
WARNING AGAINST EVIL. — V. 27. Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, to whom it belongs by reason of his need, whether he really deserves it or is so destitute that he can no longer help himself, when it is In the power of thine hand to do it. V. 28. Say not unto thy neighbor, Go and come again, and tomorrow I will give, thus putting him off and discouraging him, when thou hast it by thee. Cp. Jas. 2, 15. 16. V. 29. Devise not evil against thy neighbor, by meditating upon wickedness and contriving it, seeing he dwelleth securely by thee, without suspicion. V. 30. Strive not with a man without cause, thus increasing litigation, both within the Church and without, if he have done thee no harm, both the taking of the initiative in quarreling and of seeking revenge for a supposed insult being condemned here. V. 31. Envy thou not the oppressor, the man of violence or mischief, no matter how successful his methods may seem, and choose none of his ways, in the hope of rising in the world by such methods. V. 32. For the froward, the malicious person, the deceiver, is abomination, an abhorrence, to the Lord, wherefore his lot will be that of everlasting destruction; but His secret is with the righteous, literally, “toward the upright His secret compact,” they enjoy His friendship, the intimate fellowship with Him. V. 33. The curse of the Lord is in the house of the wicked, in spite of all outward semblance of prosperity and happiness; but He blesseth the habitation of the just, His blessing abiding with them. V. 34. Surely He scorneth the scorners, that is, if there is a person who believes himself entitled to scorn, He heaps scorn upon him; but He giveth grace unto the lowly, to the humble, who seek only His grace and mercy and claim no merit and worthiness for themselves. V. 35. The wise shall inherit glory, they will finally be given the honor which their attitude merits; but shame shall be the promotion of fools, that will be the reward which they will carry away with them, the portion properly pertaining to them. That is the consolation of the righteous, that in the end they will be honored by the Lord in the presence of the whole world; this thought enables them to bear many of the afflictions of this present time.