Proverbs 1

Listen to Proverbs 1

The Beginning of Knowledge

1 1The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel:
2 To know wisdom and instruction, to understand words of insight,
3 to receive instruction in wise dealing, in 2righteousness, justice, and equity;
4 to give prudence to 3the simple, knowledge and 4discretion to the youth--
5 Let the wise hear and 5increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance,
6 to understand a proverb and a saying, 6the words of the wise and their 7riddles.
7 8The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

The Enticement of Sinners

8 9Hear, my son, your father's instruction, and forsake not your mother's teaching,
9 for they are 10a graceful garland for your head and 11pendants for your neck.
10 My son, if sinners 12entice you, do not consent.
11 If they say, "Come with us, 13let us lie in wait for blood; 14let us ambush the innocent without reason;
12 like Sheol let us 15swallow them alive, and whole, like 16those who go down to the pit;
13 we shall find all precious goods, we shall fill our houses with plunder;
14 throw in your lot among us; we will all have one purse"--
15 my son, 17do not walk in the way with them; 18hold back your foot from their paths,
16 for 19their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed blood.
17 20For in vain is a net spread in the sight of any bird,
18 but these men 21lie in wait for their own blood; they 22set an ambush for their own lives.
19 23Such are the ways of everyone who is 24greedy for unjust gain; 25it takes away the life of its possessors.

The Call of Wisdom

20 26Wisdom cries aloud in the street, in the markets she raises her voice;
21 at the head of the noisy streets she cries out; at 27the entrance of the city gates she speaks:
22 "How long, O 28simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will 29scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools 30hate knowledge?
23 If you turn at my reproof,[a] behold, I will 31pour out my spirit to you; I will make my words known to you.
24 32Because I have called and 33you refused to listen, have 34stretched out my hand and no one has heeded,
25 because you have 35ignored all my counsel and 36would have none of my reproof,
26 I also 37will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when 38terror strikes you,
27 when terror strikes you like 39a storm and your calamity comes like a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon you.
28 40Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently but will not find me.
29 Because they 41hated knowledge and 42did not choose the fear of the LORD,
30 43would have none of my counsel and 44despised all my reproof,
31 therefore they shall eat 45the fruit of their way, and have 46their fill of their own devices.
32 For the simple are killed by 47their turning away, and 48the complacency of fools destroys them;
33 but 49whoever listens to me will dwell secure and will be 50at ease, without dread of disaster."

Images for Proverbs 1

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.

Cross References 50

  • 1. Proverbs 10:1; Proverbs 25:1; 1 Kings 4:32; Ecclesiastes 12:9
  • 2. Proverbs 2:9
  • 3. Proverbs 8:5; Proverbs 14:15, 18
  • 4. Proverbs 2:11; Proverbs 3:21
  • 5. Proverbs 9:9
  • 6. Proverbs 22:17
  • 7. Judges 14:12; Psalms 78:2
  • 8. Proverbs 9:10; [Proverbs 15:33]; See Job 28:28
  • 9. Proverbs 6:20; [Psalms 34:11; Ephesians 6:1, 2]
  • 10. Proverbs 4:9; [Proverbs 3:22]
  • 11. [Genesis 41:42; Daniel 5:29]
  • 12. Proverbs 16:29
  • 13. ver. 18; Proverbs 12:6; Jeremiah 5:26
  • 14. ver. 18; Psalms 10:8; Psalms 64:5
  • 15. Psalms 124:3; [Numbers 16:32, 33]
  • 16. Psalms 28:1
  • 17. Proverbs 4:14; Proverbs 24:1; Psalms 1:1
  • 18. [Psalms 119:101]
  • 19. Proverbs 6:18; Isaiah 59:7; [Romans 3:15]
  • 20. [Job 40:24]
  • 21. ver. 11
  • 22. ver. 11
  • 23. [Job 8:13]
  • 24. Proverbs 15:27
  • 25. [1 Timothy 6:10]
  • 26. Proverbs 8:1; Proverbs 9:3; [John 7:37]
  • 27. Proverbs 8:3
  • 28. See ver. 4
  • 29. See Psalms 1:1
  • 30. ver. 29; Proverbs 5:12; [Job 21:14]
  • 31. Joel 2:28; Acts 2:17
  • 32. Isaiah 65:12; Isaiah 66:4; Jeremiah 7:13
  • 33. Zechariah 7:11
  • 34. Romans 10:21
  • 35. See Psalms 107:11
  • 36. [Psalms 81:11; Luke 7:30]
  • 37. See Psalms 2:4
  • 38. Proverbs 10:24; Jeremiah 48:43; Jeremiah 49:5
  • 39. [Zephaniah 1:15]
  • 40. See 1 Samuel 8:18; Job 27:9
  • 41. [See ver. 22 above]
  • 42. [Job 21:14]
  • 43. [See ver. 25 above]
  • 44. [See ver. 25 above]
  • 45. Jeremiah 6:19
  • 46. Proverbs 14:14; Isaiah 3:11; [Job 4:8]
  • 47. Jeremiah 2:19
  • 48. [Psalms 73:18, 19]
  • 49. [Psalms 25:12, 13]
  • 50. Psalms 112:7, 8

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. Or Will you turn away at my reproof?

Chapter Summary


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.


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

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.