Proverbs 1

1 Proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel:
2 to know wisdom and instruction; [a] to discern the words of understanding;
3 to receive the instruction of wisdom, [b] righteousness and judgment, and equity;
4 to give prudence to the simple, [c] to the young man knowledge and discretion. [d]
5 He that is wise will hear, and will increase learning; and the intelligent will gain [e] wise counsels:
6 to understand a proverb and an allegory, the words of the wise and their enigmas.
7 The fear of Jehovah is the beginning of knowledge: fools [f] despise wisdom [g] and instruction.
8 Hear, my son, the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the teaching [h] of thy mother;
9 for they shall be a garland of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck.
10 My son, if sinners entice thee, consent not.
11 If they say, Come with us, let us lay wait for blood, let us lurk secretly for the innocent without cause;
12 let us swallow them up alive as Sheol, [i] and whole, as those that go down into the pit;
13 we shall find all precious substance, we shall fill our houses with spoil:
14 cast in thy lot among us; we will all have one purse:
15 -- my son, walk not in the way with them, keep back thy foot from their path;
16 for their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed blood.
17 For in vain the net is spread in the sight of anything which hath wings.
18 And these lay wait for their own blood; they lurk secretly for their own lives.
19 So are the paths of every one that is greedy of gain: it taketh away the life of its possessors.
20 Wisdom crieth without; she raiseth her voice in the broadways;
21 she calleth in the chief [place] of concourse, in the entry of the gates; in the city she uttereth her words:
22 How long, simple ones, will ye love simpleness, and scorners take pleasure in their scorning, and the foolish hate knowledge?
23 Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour forth my spirit unto you, I will make known to you my words.
24 Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no one regarded;
25 and ye have rejected [j] all my counsel, and would none of my reproof:
26 I also will laugh in your calamity, I will mock when your fear cometh;
27 when your fear cometh as sudden destruction, and your calamity cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish come upon you:
28 -- then will they call upon me, but I will not answer; they will seek me early, [k] and shall not find me.
29 Because they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of Jehovah;
30 they would none of my counsel, they despised all my reproof:
31 therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their way, and be filled with their own devices.
32 For the turning away [l] of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of the foolish shall cause them to perish.
33 But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be at rest from fear of evil.

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Proverbs 1 Commentary

Chapter 1

The subject of this book may be thus stated by an enlargement on the opening verses. 1. The Proverbs of Solomon, the son of David, king of Israel. 2. Which treat of the knowledge of wisdom, of piety towards God, of instruction and moral discipline, of the understanding wise and prudent counsels. 3. Which treat of the attainment of instruction in wisdom, which wisdom is to be shown in the conduct of life, and consists in righteousness with regard to our fellow-creatures. 4. Which treat of the giving to the simple sagacity to discover what is right, by supplying them with just principles, and correct views of virtue and vice; and to the young man knowledge, so that he need not err through ignorance; and discretion, so that by pondering well these precepts, he may not err through obstinacy. Take the proverbs of other nations, and we shall find great numbers founded upon selfishness, cunning, pride, injustice, national contempt, and animosities. The principles of the Proverbs of Solomon are piety, charity, justice, benevolence, and true prudence. Their universal purity proves that they are the word of God.

The use of the Proverbs. (1-6) Exhortations to fear God and obey parents. (7-9) To avoid the enticings of sinners. (10-19) The address of Wisdom to sinners. (20-33)

Verses 1-6 The lessons here given are plain, and likely to benefit those who feel their own ignorance, and their need to be taught. If young people take heed to their ways, according to Solomon's Proverbs, they will gain knowledge and discretion. Solomon speaks of the most important points of truth, and a greater than Solomon is here. Christ speaks by his word and by his Spirit. Christ is the Word and the Wisdom of God, and he is made to us wisdom.

Verses 7-9 Fools are persons who have no true wisdom, who follow their own devices, without regard to reason, or reverence for God. Children are reasonable creatures, and when we tell them what they must do, we must tell them why. But they are corrupt and wilful, therefore with the instruction there is need of a law. Let Divine truths and commands be to us most honourable; let us value them, and then they shall be so to us.

Verses 10-19 Wicked people are zealous in seducing others into the paths of the destroyer: sinners love company in sin. But they have so much the more to answer for. How cautious young people should be! "Consent thou not." Do not say as they say, nor do as they do, or would have thee to do; have no fellowship with them. Who could think that it should be a pleasure to one man to destroy another! See their idea of worldly wealth; but it is neither substance, nor precious. It is the ruinous mistake of thousands, that they overvalue the wealth of this world. Men promise themselves in vain that sin will turn to their advantage. The way of sin is down-hill; men cannot stop themselves. Would young people shun temporal and eternal ruin, let them refuse to take one step in these destructive paths. Men's greediness of gain hurries them upon practices which will not suffer them or others to live out half their days. What is a man profited, though he gain the world, if he lose his life? much less if he lose his soul?

Verses 20-33 Solomon, having showed how dangerous it is to hearken to the temptations of Satan, here declares how dangerous it is not to hearken to the calls of God. Christ himself is Wisdom, is Wisdoms. Three sorts of persons are here called by Him: 1. Simple ones. Sinners are fond of their simple notions of good and evil, their simple prejudices against the ways of God, and flatter themselves in their wickedness. 2. Scorners. Proud, jovial people, that make a jest of every thing. Scoffers at religion, that run down every thing sacred and serious. 3. Fools. Those are the worst of fools that hate to be taught, and have a rooted dislike to serious godliness. The precept is plain; Turn you at my reproof. We do not make a right use of reproofs, if we do not turn from evil to that which is good. The promises are very encouraging. Men cannot turn by any power of their own; but God answers, Behold, I will pour out my Spirit unto you. Special grace is needful to sincere conversion. But that grace shall never be denied to any who seek it. The love of Christ, and the promises mingled with his reproofs, surely should have the attention of every one. It may well be asked, how long men mean to proceed in such a perilous path, when the uncertainty of life and the consequences of dying without Christ are considered? Now sinners live at ease, and set sorrow at defiance; but their calamity will come. Now God is ready to hear their prayers; but then they shall cry in vain. Are we yet despisers of wisdom? Let us hearken diligently, and obey the Lord Jesus, that we may enjoy peace of conscience and confidence in God; be free from evil, in life, in death, and for ever.

Footnotes 12

  • [a]. 'Wisdom' here and in ver. 7 is chokmah. 'Instruction' means also, 'correction,' 'warning,' 'discipline,' Job 36.10.
  • [b]. Sachal, it means 'intelligence,' 'circumspection,' and 'understanding,' as in ch. 3.4, also 'success,' 'good esteem:' see 'succeeded better,' 1Sam. 18.30.
  • [c]. 'Simple,' in this book, means one lacking in the powers of the soul and mind, and hence easily enticed and misled.
  • [d]. Or 'reflection,' 'sagacity.'
  • [e]. Or 'get:' so ch. 4.5,7.
  • [f]. Eveel. It is the generic word, but has two shades of meaning according as it is opposed to chakam, 'wise,' or aroom, 'prudent,' 'wary,' ch. 12.16. But the idea of 'wickedness' is not absent from it. As to details, kesil is usually rendered 'foolish,' as ver. 22; ch. 12.23, nabal is rather 'vile,' 'impious:' see 1Sam. 25.3,25.
  • [g]. See ver. 2.
  • [h]. Or 'law,' and so chs. 3.1; 6.20; 7.2; 13.14.
  • [i]. See Note h, Ps. 6.5.
  • [j]. Or 'avoided:' see ch. 4.15.
  • [k]. Or 'earnestly,' as Job 8.5.
  • [l]. Or 'turning back.'

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO PROVERBS

This book is called, in some printed Hebrew copies, "Sepher Mishle", the Book of Proverbs; the title of it in the Vulgate Latin version is,

``the Book of Proverbs, which the Hebrews call "Misle":''

in the Septuagint version it has the name of the writer, the Proverbs of Solomon; and so in the Syriac version, with the addition of his titles,

``the son of David, king of Israel.''

This and Ecclesiastes are both of them by the Jews {a} called Books of Wisdom: and it is common with the ancient Christian writers {b} to call the book of Proverbs by the names of "Wisdom" and "Panaretos"; names they give also to the apocryphal books of Ecclesiasticus and the Wisdom of Solomon; and therefore this is to be carefully distinguished from them. The author of this book was King Solomon, as the "first" verse, which contains the inscription of it, shows; for he was not a collector of these proverbs, as Grotius is of opinion, but the author of them, at least of the far greater part; and not only the author, but the writer of them: the Jews {c} say that Hezekiah and this men wrote them; it is true indeed the men of Hezekiah copied some, Pr 25:1; but even those were written by Solomon. R. Gedaliah {d} would have it that Isaiah the prophet wrote this book; but without any foundation. At what time it was written is not certain; the Jewish writers generally say {e} it was written by Solomon, as were the books of Ecclesiastes and the Song of Songs, in his old age, when near the time of his death; though some think it was written before his fall: and it may be it was not written all at once, but at certain times, when these proverbs occurred unto him and were spoken by him, and as occasion served: however, it is not to he doubted but that they were written under the inspiration of God. The Jews once thought to have made this book of Proverbs an apocryphal one, because of some seeming contradictions in it; but finding that these were capable of a reconciliation, changed their minds, as became them {f}. Among Christians, Theodore of Mopsuest, in the sixth century, denied the divine authority of this book, and attributed it merely to human wisdom; which opinion of his was condemned in the second council at Constantinople: and in later times it has been treated with contempt by the Socinians, and particularly by Father Simon and Le Clerc; but the authority of it is confirmed by the writers of the New Testament, who have cited passages out of it; see \Ro 12:20 Heb 12:5,6 2Pe 2:22\ from \Pr 25:21,22 3:11,12 26:11\. The book consists of "five" parts; "first", a preface or introduction, which takes up the first "nine" chapters; the "second", the proverbs of Solomon, put together by himself, beginning at the tenth chapter to the twenty-fifth; the "third", the proverbs of Solomon, copied by the men of Hezekiah, beginning at the twenty-fifth chapter to the thirtieth; the "fourth", the words of Agur, the thirtieth chapter, the "fifth", the instruction of Solomon's mother, Bathsheba, the thirty-first chapter.

{a} Gloss. in T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 14. 2. {b} Euseb. Eccl. Hist. l. 4. c. 22. 26. {c} T. Bab. Ibid. fol. 15. 1. {d} Shalshalet Hakabala, fol. 55. 1. {e} Seder Olam Rabba, c. 15. p. 41. {f} T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 30. 2.

\\INTRODUCTION TO PROVERBS 1\\

After the inscription, which gives the title of the book, and describes the author by his name, descent, and dignity, Pr 1:1, follows the scope and design of it, which is to teach men wisdom and knowledge; even such as are simple and foolish, and particularly young men; nay, hereby wise men may grow wiser, and attain to an higher degree of learning, Pr 1:2-6; and the "first" doctrine taught in it is the fear of the Lord, or devotion to God; which is the beginning of knowledge, though despised by fools, Pr 1:7. The next is obedience to parents; whose instructions, attended to, are more ornamental than chains of gold, Pr 1:8,9. And then follows a dissuasive from bad company; in which the arguments made use of by wicked men to draw in others with them, and the danger of compliance, are most strongly and beautifully represented, Pr 1:10-19. When Wisdom, who is the instructor and teacher throughout the whole, is introduced as calling upon the simple and the scorners to leave their sins and turn to her, with a promise of the Spirit to them, Pr 1:20-23; but they slighting and rejecting her call, are threatened with just and irrevocable rum and destruction, Pr 1:24-32. And the chapter is closed with a promise of safety and rest to those that hearken to her, Pr 1:33.

Proverbs 1 Commentaries