Exhortation to the study of wisdom. (1-13) Cautions against bad company, Exhortation to faith and holiness. (14-27)
Verses 1-13 We must look upon our teachers as our fathers: though instruction carry in it reproof and correction, bid it welcome. Solomon's parents loved him, therefore taught him. Wise and godly men, in every age of the world, and rank in society, agree that true wisdom consists in obedience, and is united to happiness. Get wisdom, take pains for it. Get the rule over thy corruptions; take more pains to get this than the wealth of this world. An interest in Christ's salvation is necessary. This wisdom is the one thing needful. A soul without true wisdom and grace is a dead soul. How poor, contemptible, and wretched are those, who, with all their wealth and power, die without getting understanding, without Christ, without hope, and without God! Let us give heed to the sayings of Him who has the words of eternal life. Thus our path will be plain before us: by taking, and keeping fast hold of instruction, we shall avoid being straitened or stumbling.
Verses 14-27 The way of evil men may seem pleasant, and the nearest way to compass some end; but it is an evil way, and will end ill; if thou love thy God and thy soul, avoid it. It is not said, Keep at a due distance, but at a great distance; never think you can get far enough from it. The way of the righteous is light; Christ is their Way, and he is the Light. The saints will not be perfect till they reach heaven, but there they shall shine as the sun in his strength. The way of sin is as darkness. The way of the wicked is dark, therefore dangerous; they fall into sin, but know not how to avoid it. They fall into trouble, but never seek to know wherefore God contends with them, nor what will be in the end of it. This is the way we are bid to shun. Attentive hearing the word of God, is a good sign of a work of grace begun in the heart, and a good means of carrying it on. There is in the word of God a proper remedy for all diseases of the soul. Keep thy heart with all diligence. We must set a strict guard upon our souls; keep our hearts from doing hurt, and getting hurt. A good reason is given; because out of it are the issues of life. Above all, we should seek from the Lord Jesus that living water, the sanctifying Spirit, issuing forth unto everlasting life. Thus we shall be enabled to put away a froward mouth and perverse lips; our eyes will be turned from beholding vanity, looking straight forward, and walking by the rule of God's word, treading in the steps of our Lord and Master. Lord, forgive the past, and enable us to follow thee more closely for the time to come.
Proverbs 4:1-27 . To an earnest call for attention to his teachings, the writer adds a commendation of wisdom, preceded and enforced by the counsels of his father and teacher. To this he adds a caution (against the devices of the wicked), and a series of exhortations to docility, integrity, and uprightness.
1, 2. (Compare Proverbs 1:8 ).
to know--in order to know.
doctrine--the matter of learning ( Proverbs 1:5 ), such as he had received ( Lamentations 3:1 ).
3. father's son--emphatic, a son specially regarded, and so called tender, as an object of special care (compare 1 Chronicles 22:7 , 29:1 ); an idea further expressed by
only beloved--or, "as an only son" ( Genesis 22:2 ), though he had
4. He taught--or directed me.
retain--as well as receive.
keep . . . and live--observe, that you may live ( Proverbs 7:2 ).
5. Get--as a possession not to be given up.
neither decline--that is, from obeying my word.
6. Not only accept but love wisdom, who will keep thee from evil, and evil from thee.
7. (Compare Job 28:28 ).
getting--or possession; a desire for wisdom is wise.
8. As you highly esteem her, she will raise you to honor.
embrace her--with fond affection.
9. ornament--such as the chaplet or wreath of conquerors.
deliver--(Compare Genesis 14:20 ). The allusion to a shield, contained in the Hebrew, suggests protection as well as honor(compare Proverbs 4:6 ).
10. (Compare Proverbs 2:1 , 3:2 ).
11,12. way of wisdom--which it prescribes.
led thee--literally, "caused thee to tread," as a path ( Psalms 107:7 ).
not be straitened--have ample room ( Psalms 18:36 ).
13. (Compare Proverbs 3:18 ). The figure of laying hold with the hand suggests earnest effort.
14. (Compare Psalms 1:1 ). Avoid all temptations to the beginning of evil.
16, 17. The reason is found in the character of sinners, whose zeal to do evil is forcibly depicted ( Proverbs 6:4 , Psalms 36:5 ). They live by flagrant vices ( Proverbs 1:13 ). Some prefer to render, "Their bread is wickedness, their drink violence" (compare Job 15:16 , 34:7 ).
18, 19. As shining light increases from twilight to noonday splendor, so the course of the just increases in purity, but that of the wicked is as thickest darkness, in which one knows not on what he stumbles.
20-22. (Compare Proverbs 4:10 Proverbs 4:13 , Proverbs 3:8 , &c.).
22. health . . . flesh--by preserving from vices destructive of health.
23. with all diligence--or, "above," or "more than all," custody (compare Margin), all that is kept (compare Ezekiel 38:7 ), because the heart is the depository of all wisdom and the source of whatever affects life and character ( Matthew 12:35 , 15:19 ).
24. a froward mouth--that is, a mouth, or words of ill nature. The Hebrew word differs from that used ( Proverbs 2:15 , 3:32 ).
25. Let . . . before thee--that is, pursue a sincere and direct purpose, avoiding temptations.
26. Ponder--Consider well; a wise course results from wise forethought.
27. (Compare Proverbs 4:25 ). Avoid all by-paths of evil ( Deuteronomy 2:27 , 17:11 ). A life of integrity requires attention to heart, speech, eyes, and conduct.