Proverbs 2
Barnes' Notes
My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee;
Now in the divine order comes the promise Proverbs 2:5. The conditions of its fulfillment are stated in Proverbs 2:1-4 in four sets of parallel clauses, each with some shade of distinct meaning. Thus, not "receiving" only, but "hiding" or treasuring up - not the "ear" only, but the "heart" - not the mere "cry," but the eager "lifting up the voice."

So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding;
Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding;
If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures;
Note the illustrations.

(1) Contact with Phoenician commerce, and joint expeditions in ships of Tarshish (see Psalm 72:10 note), had made the Israelites familiar with the risks and the enterprise of the miller's life. Compare Job 28:p>(2) The treasure hidden in a field, is the second point of comparison. Such treasure-seeking has always been characteristic of the East. Compare Matthew 13:44.

Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.
The promise. The highest blessedness is to know God John 17:3. If any distinction between "the Lord" יהוה yehovâh and "God" אלהים 'elohı̂ym can be pressed here, it is that in the former the personality, in the latter the glory, of the divine nature is prominent.

For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.
People do not gain wisdom by any efforts of their own, but God gives it according to the laws of His own goodness.

He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: he is a buckler to them that walk uprightly.
Sound wisdom - "Soundness," an idea which passes on into that of health and safety. Compare "sound doctrine" in 1 Timothy 1:10; 2 Timothy 4:3.

He keepeth the paths of judgment, and preserveth the way of his saints.
saints - The devout and God-fearing. Compare Psalm 85:8 etc. The occurrence of the word here, in a book that became more and more prominent as prophetic utterances ceased, probably helped to determine its application in the period of the Maccabean struggles to those who especially claimed for themselves the title of "devout" (Chasidim, the ̓Ασιδαῖοι Asidaioi of 1 Macc. 7:13).

Then shalt thou understand righteousness, and judgment, and equity; yea, every good path.
When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul;
Another picture of the results of living in the fear of the Lord. Not that to which it leads a man, but that from which it saves him, is brought into view. Notice also that it is one thing for wisdom to find entrance into the soul, another to be welcomed as a "pleasant" guest.

Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee:
To deliver thee from the way of the evil man, from the man that speaketh froward things;
The evil-doers here include not robbers and murderers only Proverbs 1:10-16, but all who leave the straight path and the open day for crooked ways, perverse counsels, deeds of darkness. "To delight etc." Proverbs 2:14 is the lowest depth of all.

Who leave the paths of uprightness, to walk in the ways of darkness;
Who rejoice to do evil, and delight in the frowardness of the wicked;
Whose ways are crooked, and they froward in their paths:
To deliver thee from the strange woman, even from the stranger which flattereth with her words;
The second great evil, the warnings against which are frequent (see the marginal reference). Two words are used to describe the class.

(1) "The strange woman" is one who does not belong to the family, one who by birth is outside the covenant of Israel.

(2) "The stranger" is none other than a foreigner.

It is the word used of the "strange" wives of Solomon 1 Kings 11:1, 1 Kings 11:8, and of those of the Jews who returned from Babylon (Ezra 10; passim). The two words together, in connection with those which follow, and which imply at once marriage and a profession of religious faith, point to some interesting facts in the social history of Israel. Whatever form the sin here referred to had assumed before the monarchy (and the Book of Judges testifies to its frequency), the contact with Phoenicians and other nations under Solomon had a strong tendency to increase it. The king's example would naturally be followed, and it probably became a fashion to have foreign wives and concubines. At first, it would seem, this was accompanied by some show of proselytism Proverbs 2:17; but the old pagan leaven (influence) presently broke out; the sensual worship of other gods led the way to a life of harlotry. The stringent laws of the Mosaic code Leviticus 19:29; Leviticus 21:9; Deuteronomy 23:18 probably deterred the women of Israel from that sin, and led to a higher standard of purity among them than prevailed among other nations.

Most interpreters have, however, generalized the words as speaking of any adulteress. The Septuagint as if reluctant to speak of facts so shameful, has allegorized them, and seen in the temptress the personification of "evil counsel."

Which forsaketh the guide of her youth, and forgetteth the covenant of her God.
The guide of her youth - Better, the familiar friend (compare Proverbs 16:28; Proverbs 17:9). The "friend" is, of course, the husband, or the man to whom the strange woman first belonged as a recognized concubine. Compare Jeremiah 3:4

The covenant of her God - The sin of the adulteress is not against man only but against the Law of God, against His covenant. The words point to some religious formula of espousals. Compare Malachi 2:14.

For her house inclineth unto death, and her paths unto the dead.
The house of the adulteress is as Hades, the realm of death, haunted by the spectral shadows of the dead (Rephaim, see the Psalm 88:10 note), who have perished there.

None that go unto her return again, neither take they hold of the paths of life.
The words describe more than the fatal persistency of the sinful habit when once formed. A resurrection from that world of the dead to "the paths of life" is all but impossible.

That thou mayest walk in the way of good men, and keep the paths of the righteous.
The previous picture of shame and sin is brought before the disciple as an incentive to a better course.

For the upright shall dwell in the land, and the perfect shall remain in it.
Noticeable here is the Hebrew love of home and love of country. To "dwell in the land" is (compare Exodus 20:12; Leviticus 25:18, etc.) the highest blessing for the whole people and for individual men. contrast with it is the life of the sinner cut off from the land (not "earth") of his fathers.

But the wicked shall be cut off from the earth, and the transgressors shall be rooted out of it.
Notes on the Bible by Albert Barnes [1834].
Text Courtesy of Internet Sacred Texts Archive.

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