Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel;Proverbs 1
Ruskin writes: 'Read this first of Proverbs with me, please. The Proverbs of Solomon, the son of David, king of Israel.
'"To know wisdom and instruction."
'(Not to opine them.)
'"To perceive the words of understanding."
'(He that hath eyes, let him read—he that hath ears, hear, and for the Blind and the Deaf,—if patient and silent by the roadside,—there may also be some one to say, "He is coming".)
'"To receive the instruction of Wisdom, Justice, and Judgment, and Equity."
'Four things,—Oh friends, which you have not only to perceive but to receive.'
—Fors Clavigera, Letter LXXVII.
References.—I. 1.—J. B. Mozley, Sermons Parochial and Occasional, p. 96. W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven for Life on Earth, p. 9. I. 1-19.—A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—Esther, Job, Proverbs, etc., p. 71. I. 6.—W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven for Life on Earth, p. 14. I. 7.—Henry Alford, Quebec Chapel Sermons, vol. vii. p. 1. W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven for Life on Earth, p. 17. I. 8.—Ibid. p. 21. I. 9.—Ibid. p. 25.
I. A danger implied. It is the nature of sin to be aggressive. No person was ever guilty of only one sin. His first sin might aptly have been called Gad—'a troop cometh'. There was never one sinner yet who did not try to make another like himself. On earth there is a huge propaganda of evil. Hence this world is a place of danger to the young and inexperienced.
II. A method exposed—'entice'. The tempter proceeds indirectly and flatteringly. Among his enticements are (1) increase of knowledge, (2) pleasure, (3) love of liberty, (4) nobody will ever know.
III. Resistance enforced—'Consent thou not'. There must not be a particle of 'Yes' in your 'No'. Say it at the right time and in the right way. Remember these two maxims as regards our moral actions: the necessity of choice in matters of conduct; and when conscience is clear let there be no further parley.
IV. The safeguard of holy memories—'My son'. Open the book of memory at the page where a father's solicitude and a mother's love is recorded for you.
V. This may be viewed as the utterance of God. He unfolds to us His Fatherhood in Christ, and beseeches us to resist sin.
—W. M. Taylor, The Sermon Year Book, 1891, p. 354.
If this book of Proverbs appeals so especially to the young, there is reason and justification for this. For the most part, youth has a decisive bearing upon after years. The principles must then be formed which shall govern the whole of life. Wisdom, therefore, makes an especial effort to rescue the young from danger, and to guide them into safety, peace, and life. There is appropriateness in dissuasion combined with precept.
I. Life a Scene of Temptation.—There are two things to be considered in order to understand this:—
1. The instigations to evil which from without beset and attack every human being, of whatever age and condition.
2. The natural inclination towards evil, which from within gives such force to the external invitations. The two, concurring and conspiring, render life an arena of moral conflict.
II. Youth Especially the Period of Temptation.—The wise man addresses his 'son,' sympathizing with the young, remembering his own youth, and anxious to deliver youthful pilgrims from the snares which abound in their path.
1. In youth the passions are strongest, by which human nature is often urged aside from the ways of wisdom and piety, of virtue and true happiness.
2. In youth the principles and habits are unformed.
3. In youth inexperience exposes to the arts of the crafty and the vile.
III. Evil Companionship a Powerful Means of Temptation.—Society is sought by the young, who look to this for much of their happiness. There is always danger lest they should be deceived by the speciousness of outward attractions, and should fail justly to estimate the character of associates. Thus they are liable to influence by—
1. The example of bad companions. 'Evil communications corrupt good manners.'
2. The actual invitations to sinful courses from those whose influence it is not easy to resist.
IV. Divine Grace should be Sought in Order to the Resistance of Temptation.—1. Temptation may be withstood. The excuse is sometimes made, 'The temptation was too strong for me'. But it is not the case that the temptation is too strong; rather is the tempted too weak. God with every temptation makes a way of escape, and men are not shut up to sin.
2. Watchfulness and prayer alone can preserve in the case of temptation. If the young set out upon their course relying upon their own wisdom and strength, they will surely fall. Divine strength alone can overcome; there is no other safety than that which lies in distrust of self and confidence in God.
References.—I. 10.—W. Taylor, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xl. 1891, p. 81. F. B. Cowl, Straight Tracks, p. 82. W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven for Life on Earth. I. 19.—Ibid. p. 44. I. 20.—Ibid. p. 49. H. J. Wilmot-Buxton, Sunday Lessons for Daily Life, p. 147. E. A. Trench, God's Message Through Modern Doubt, p. 59. I. 20-33.—A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—Esther, Job, Proverbs, etc., p. 77. I. 23.—G. Matheson, Voices of the Spirit, p. 56. W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven for Life on Earth, p. 55. I. 24-28.—Ibid. p. 59. I. 26.—N. D. Hillis, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lvii. 1900, p. 328. I. 30, 31.—F. B. Woodward, Sermons (2nd Series), p. 182. II. 1-5.—Harvey Goodwin, Parish Sermons, p. 239. II. 4, 5.—W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven for Life on Earth, p. 66. II. 10,11.—Ibid. p. 77. A. Maclaren, Outlines of Sermons on the Old Testament, p. 156. II. 12-19.—W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven for Life on Earth, p. 72. II. 17.—Henry Alford, Quebec Chapel Sermons, vol. vii. p. 16. III. 1.—W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven for Life on Earth, p. 77. III. 1-10.—A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—Esther, Job, Proverbs, etc., p. 84. III. 3.—H. Ward Beecher, Sermons (2nd Series), p. 271. W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven for Life on Earth, p. 81. III. 5.—Ibid. p. 85. G. Salmon, Non-Miraculous Christianity, p. 218.
To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding;
To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity;
To give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion.
A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels:
To understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother:
For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck.
My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not.
If they say, Come with us, let us lay wait for blood, let us lurk privily for the innocent without cause:
Let us swallow them up alive as the grave; and whole, as those that go down into the pit:
We shall find all precious substance, we shall fill our houses with spoil:
Cast in thy lot among us; let us all have one purse:
My son, walk not thou in the way with them; refrain thy foot from their path:
For their feet run to evil, and make haste to shed blood.
Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird.
And they lay wait for their own blood; they lurk privily for their own lives.
So are the ways of every one that is greedy of gain; which taketh away the life of the owners thereof.
Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets:
She crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she uttereth her words, saying,
How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge?
Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you.
Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded;
But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof:
I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh;
When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you.
Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me:
For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD:
They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof.
Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices.
For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them.
But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.