Proverbs 1:20-33

The Call of Wisdom

20 1Wisdom cries aloud in the street, in the markets she raises her voice;
21 at the head of the noisy streets she cries out; at 2the entrance of the city gates she speaks:
22 "How long, O 3simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will 4scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools 5hate knowledge?
23 If you turn at my reproof,[a] behold, I will 6pour out my spirit to you; I will make my words known to you.
24 7Because I have called and 8you refused to listen, have 9stretched out my hand and no one has heeded,
25 because you have 10ignored all my counsel and 11would have none of my reproof,
26 I also 12will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when 13terror strikes you,
27 when terror strikes you like 14a storm and your calamity comes like a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon you.
28 15Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently but will not find me.
29 Because they 16hated knowledge and 17did not choose the fear of the LORD,
30 18would have none of my counsel and 19despised all my reproof,
31 therefore they shall eat 20the fruit of their way, and have 21their fill of their own devices.
32 For the simple are killed by 22their turning away, and 23the complacency of fools destroys them;
33 but 24whoever listens to me will dwell secure and will be 25at ease, without dread of disaster."

Proverbs 1:20-33 Meaning and Commentary


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.

Cross References 25

  • 1. Proverbs 8:1; Proverbs 9:3; [John 7:37]
  • 2. Proverbs 8:3
  • 3. See ver. 4
  • 4. See Psalms 1:1
  • 5. ver. 29; Proverbs 5:12; [Job 21:14]
  • 6. Joel 2:28; Acts 2:17
  • 7. Isaiah 65:12; Isaiah 66:4; Jeremiah 7:13
  • 8. Zechariah 7:11
  • 9. Romans 10:21
  • 10. See Psalms 107:11
  • 11. [Psalms 81:11; Luke 7:30]
  • 12. See Psalms 2:4
  • 13. Proverbs 10:24; Jeremiah 48:43; Jeremiah 49:5
  • 14. [Zephaniah 1:15]
  • 15. See 1 Samuel 8:18; Job 27:9
  • 16. [See ver. 22 above]
  • 17. [Job 21:14]
  • 18. [See ver. 25 above]
  • 19. [See ver. 25 above]
  • 20. Jeremiah 6:19
  • 21. Proverbs 14:14; Isaiah 3:11; [Job 4:8]
  • 22. Jeremiah 2:19
  • 23. [Psalms 73:18, 19]
  • 24. [Psalms 25:12, 13]
  • 25. Psalms 112:7, 8

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. Or Will you turn away at my reproof?
The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.