Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
PROVERBS OF SOLOMON
General Superscription to the Collection
Announcement of the Author of the Collection, of its Object, and of its great value
1 Proverbs of Solomon, the son of David,
the King of Israel:
2 to become acquainted with wisdom and knowledge,
to comprehend intelligent discourse,
3 to attain discipline of understanding,
righteousness, justice and integrity,
4 to impart to the simple prudence,
to the young man knowledge and discretion;—
5 let the wise man hear and add to his learning,
and the man of understanding gain in control,
6 that he may understand proverb and enigma,
words of wise men and their dark sayings.
True wisdom as the basis and end of all moral effort, impressed by admonition and commendation upon the hearts of youth
7 The fear of Jehovah is the beginning of knowledge;
wisdom and discipline fools despise.
First group of Admonitory or Gnomic Discourses
1. The teacher of wisdom admonishes his son to avoid the way of vice
8 Hearken, my son, to thy father’s instruction,
and refuse not the teaching of thy mother;
9 for they are a graceful crown to thy head,
and jewels about thy neck.—
10 My son, if sinners entice thee,
consent thou not!
11 If they say, “Come with us, and we will lie in wait for blood,
will plot against the innocent without cause;
12 we will swallow them, like the pit, living,
and the upright, like those that descend into the grave;
13 we will find all precious treasure,
will fill our houses with spoil!
14 Thou shalt cast in thy lot among us;
one purse will we all have!”
15 My son! go not in the way with them,
keep back thy foot from their path!
16 For their feet run to evil,
and haste to shed blood;
17 for in vain is the net spread
before the eyes of all (kinds of) birds:
18 and these watch for their own blood,
they lie in wait for their own lives.
19 Such are the paths of every one that grasps after unjust gain;
from its own master it taketh the life.
2. Warning delineation of the perverse and ruinous conduct of the fool, put into the mouth of wisdom (personified).
20 Wisdom crieth aloud in the streets,
on the highways she maketh her voice heard:
21 in the places of greatest tumult she calleth,
at the entrances to the gates of the city she giveth forth her words:
22 “How long, ye simple, will ye love simplicity,
and scorners delight in scorning,
and fools hate knowledge!
23 Turn ye at my reproof!
Behold I will pour out upon you my spirit,
my words will I make known to you!
24 Because I have called and ye refused,
I stretched out my hand, and no man regarded it,
25 and ye have rejected all my counsel,
and to my reproof ye have not yielded;
26 therefore will I also laugh at your calamity,
will mock when your terror cometh;
27 when like a storm your terror cometh,
and your destruction sweepeth on like a whirlwind,
when distress and anguish cometh upon you.
28 Then will they call upon me, and I not answer,
they will seek me diligently and not find me.
29 Because they have hated sound wisdom
and have not desired the fear of Jehovah,
30 have not yielded to my counsel
and have despised all my reproof,
31 therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their way
and be surfeited with their own counsels.
32 For the perverseness of the simple shall slay them,
and the security of fools destroy them:
33 he, however, who hearkeneth to me shall dwell secure,
and have rest without dread of evil!”
GRAMMATICAL AND CRITICAL
Proverbs 1:2. [We have in Proverbs 1:2, 3, 4, 6 final clauses, introduced by לְ, and indicating the object with which these wise sayings are recorded. That purpose is disciplinary, first with reference to “the young man,” and then to him who is already “wise.” This discipline is contemplated not from the point of view of him who imparts, but that of those who receive it. These considerations determine our choice of words in translating several of the terms employed. Thus in Proverbs 1:2 we render לָדַעַת not “to know,” as this suggests the finished result rather than the process, which is “to become acquainted with, to acquire;” so ZÖCKLER, zu erkennen; DE WETTE, kennen zu lernen; NOYES, “from which men may learn;” a little less definitely, E. V., “to know;” incorrectly HOLDEN, “respecting the knowledge.” These wise sayings are to guide to and result in knowledge; but the verbs, except in Proverbs 1:4, represent not the teaching, imparting, communicating, but the discerning and seizing. In respect to the two shades of meaning to be given to מוּסָר see the exeg. notes. GESEN. and FUERST agree in the etymology (יסר); FUERST, however, carries back the radical meaning one step farther; G., “to chastise, correct, instruct;” F., “to bind or restrain, chastise,” etc. It should, therefore, be borne in mind that more than the imparting of information is intended by the word, it is discipline, sometimes merely intellectual but more frequently moral.—אִמְרֵי בִינָה, lit., “words of discernment,” “words of understanding” (so E. V., NOYES, MUENSCHER); STUART, “words of the intelligent;” DE WETTE like ZÖCKLER, “verständige Reden;” VAN ESS and ALLIOLI, with whom HOLDEN seems to agree, “die Worte (Regeln) der Klugheit” “the words (rules) of prudence.”—A.].
Proverbs 1:3. [מוּסַר הַשְׂכֵּל,—our author’s conception (see exeg. notes) corresponds with that of FUERST also, who makes the genitive not merely objective, as DE WETTE, etc., seem to do (“discipline of understanding,” “die Zucht der vernunft”), but makes it final, contemplating the end: FUERST, “Z. zur Besonnenheit,” ZÖCKLER, “einsichtsvolle Zucht,” discipline full of discernment, insight, understanding, i.e., in its results. The rendering of most of our English expositors is ambiguous or suggests other ideas: E. V. and MUENSCHER, “instruction of wisdom;” HOLDEN, “instruction in wisdom;” NOYES, “the instruction of prudence;” STUART, “of discreetness.”—מֵשָׁרִים, plural of that which is “ideally extended” and pleasurable; BÖTTCHER, Ausf. Lehrb., §699.—A.].
Proverbs 1:5. [E. V., followed by HOLDEN and MUENSCHER, “a wise man will hear;” NOYES, “may hear;” STUART, more forcibly, “let the wise man listen,” like our author, “es höre” and BÖTTCHER § 950, d., “Fiens debitum”) “es soll hören”. DE WETTE makes this a final clause, like those of the three preceding verses, “dass der Weise höre;” but see exeg. notes. וְיוֹסֶף is given by BÖTTCHER (§ 964, 2) as an illustration of the “consultive” use of the Jussive; STUART makes it an ordinary Imperf., and renders “and he will add;” but his explanations are not pertinent; the וְ need not be “conversive,” it is simply copulative, and יוֹסֵף which he assumes as the normal Imperf., is already a Jussive.—A.]. לֶקַח, properly that which is “taken, received, transmitted” (comp. the verb לקח “to attain,” above in Proverbs 1:3) is like the Aram. קַבַּלָה (from קִבְּל, to take), and like the Latin traditio [in its passive sense]. The parallel term תַּחְבֻּלוֹת (from חָבַל, to lead, according to the analogy of the Arabic, and cognate with חֶבֶל, cable, and חֹבֵל, steersman) is by the LXX correctly rendered by κυβέρνησις.
Proverbs 1:6. LUTHER’S translation of the 1st clause, “that he may understand proverbs and their interpretation,” cannot possibly be right; for מְלִיצָה, if it was designed to convey any other idea than one parallel to מָשָׁל could not on any principle dispense with the suffix of the 3d person ־ָתוֹ), its, comp. Vulgate: “animadvertat parabolam et interpretationem.” [This is also the rendering of the E. V., which is followed by HOLDEN, while NOYES, STUART, MUENSCHER and WORDSWORTH, DE WETTE and VAN ESS agree with the view taken by our author.—A.].
Proverbs 1:7. אֱוִילִים derived from אָוַל crassus fuit; to be gross or dull of understanding;—GESEN., however, derives it from the radical idea “to be perverse, turned away,” and FUERST “to be slack, weak, lax or lazy.” [WORDSWORTH adopts the latter explanation—A.].
Proverbs 1:8. [The different renderings given to the verb of the 2d clause while agreeing in their substantial import, “forsake,” “neglect,” “reject,” do not reproduce with equal clearness the radical idea, which is that of “spreading,” then of “scattering.”—A ].
Proverbs 1:10. תּבֵא, scriptio defectiva, for תֹּאבֵא, as some 50 MSS. cited by KENNICOTT and DE ROSSI in fact read, while some others prefer a different pointing אַל־תָּבֹא [thou shalt not go], which is however an unwarranted emendation. The LXX had the correct conception: μὴ βουληθῇς, and the Vulgate: ne acquiescas.—[Comp. GREEN’S Heb. Gram., § 111, 2, b, and § 177, 3. BÖTTCHER discusses the form several times in different connections, §§ 325, d, and n. 2,—429, B, and 1164, 2, b,—and after enumerating the six forms which the MSS. supply,תֹּבֶה ,תֹּאבֵא ,תֹּאבֶה ,תָּבֹא ,תָּבוֹא, and תּוֹבֵא decides that the original form, whose obscurity suggested all these modifications, was תּאֹב = תֹּבְא. In signification he classes it with the “dehortative” Jussives.—A.].
Proverbs 1:11. [E. V., NOYES, WORDSWORTH, LUTHER, VAN ESS agree with one another in connecting the adverb with the verb, while DE WETTE, HOLDEN, STUART, MUENSCHER regard it as modifying the adjective, “him whose innocence is of no avail to protect him.”—A.].
Proverbs 1:12. [E. V., STUART and MUENSCHER, like our author connect חַיִּים with the object of the main verb; UMBREIT and HITZIG (see exeg. notes) are followed by DE WETTE, HOLDEN, NOYES in connecting it with the comparative clause.—יוֹרְדֵי בוֹר, for construction see e.g., GREEN, §§ 271, 2 and 254, 9, b.—A.].
Proverbs 1:16. [יָרוּצוּ, masc. verb with feminine subject; BÖTT., § 936, II., C. a; GREEN, § 275,1. c—A.].
Proverbs 1:20. The Wisdom who is here speaking is in this verse called חָכְמוֹת which is not a plural but “a new abstract derivative from חָכְמָה, formed with the ending וֹת” (EWALD, § 165, c) a form which is also found e.g. in תְּחֹמוֹת, Ps. 78:15. The name recurs in the same form in 9:1; 24:7. [BÖTTCHER, however, regards this as an example of the pluralis extens., to denote emphatically “true wisdom.” See § 679, d, 689, C., b, 700, c and n. 4. There is no difficulty in connecting a verb fem. sing, with a subject which, although plural in form is singular in idea.—A.].—תָּרֹנָּה, crieth aloud, from רָנַן, comp. Lam. 2:19; 3d sing. fem. as also in 8:3 (EWALD, 191, c). [Comp. GREEN, § 97,1, a, and BÖTT., § 929, d, who with his usual minuteness endeavors to trace the development of this idiom.—A.].
Proverbs 1:21. ZÖCKLER, an den larmvollsten Orten; DE WETTE, an der Ecke lärmender Strassen; FUERST, der bewegten Strassen; HOLDEN, like the Eng. Ver., in the chief place of concourse.
Proverbs 1:22. [For the vocalization of תְּאֵהֲבוּ see GREEN, §§ 60, 3, c, 111, 2, e. For the use of the perfect חָמְדוּ sea BÖTT., § 948, 2. He illustrates by such classical perfects as ἔγνωκα, οἷδα, μέμαα,memini, novi, and renders this form by concupiverint.—A.].
Proverbs 1:23. [אַבִּיעָה, an instance of the intentional Imperf., in what BÖTTCHER calls its “voluntative” signification,—§ 965, 1.—A.].
Proverbs 1:27. [כְּשַׁאֲוָה, K’ri כְּשׁוֹאָה, the former derived from שׁאו or שׁאה, the latter from שׁוא, of which verbs the latter is obsolete except in derivatives, while the former occurs in one passage in Is. in the Niphal. The signification seems to be one, and the forms variations growing out of the weakness of the 2d and 3d radicals. Comp. BÖTT., §§ 474, a, and 811, 2.—A.].
Instead of the Infin. בְּבוֹא, we have in the 2d member, since בְּ is not repeated, the Imperf. יֶאֱתֶה (EWALD, 337, b) [STUART, § 129, 3, n. 2].—A.
Proverbs 1:28. [יִמְצָאֻנְנִי ,יְשַׁחֲרֻנְנִי ,יִקְרָאֻנְנִי. These are among the few instances in which the full plural ending וּן is found before suffixes. GREEN, § 105, a, BÖTT., § 1047, f.—A.].
Proverbs 1:29. For the use of תַּחַת כִּי, “therefore because,” compare Deut. 34:7, and also the equivalent combination תַּחַת אֲשֶׁר in 2 Kings 22:7; 2 Chron. 21:12.
1. Proverbs 1:1–6. The superscription to the collection, which is quite long, as is common with the titles of Oriental books, is not designed to be a “table of contents” (UMBREIT), nor to give merely the aim of the book (so most commentators, especially EWALD, BERTHEAU, ELSTER, etc.). But beside the author of the book (Proverbs 1:1), it is intended to give first its design (Proverbs 1:2, 3), and then, in addition, its worth and use (Proverbs 1:4–6), and so to commend the work in advance as salutary and excellent (STARKE, DELITZSCH). Accordingly it praises the book as a source of wholesome and instructive wisdom: 1) for the simple-minded and immature (Proverbs 1:4); 2) for those who are already wise and intelligent, but who are to gain still more insight and understanding from its maxims and enigmas (Proverbs 1:5, 6).—Proverbs of Solomon, etc.—In regard to the primary meaning of מָשָׁל, and in regard to the special signification which prevails here in the superscription, “Proverbs of Solomon” (maxims, aphorisms, not proverbs [in the current and popular sense]), see Introd., § 11.—To become acquainted with wisdom and knowledge.—In respect to חָכְמָה and its synonyms (בִּינָה and דַּעַת) consult again the Introd., § 2, note 3. “מוּסָר properly “chastisement,” signifies education, moral training, good culture and habits, the practical side, as it were, of wisdom (LXX: παιδεία; Vulg.: disciplina). In Proverbs 1:2 the expression stands as synonymous with “wisdom” (חָכְמָה), as in 4:13; 23:23, and frequently elsewhere; in ver.3, on the contrary, it designates an element preparatory to true wisdom and insight,—one serving as their foundation, and a preliminary condition to them. For the “discipline of understanding” (מוַּסַר הַשְׂכֵּל, Proverbs 1:3) is not, as might be conceived, “discipline under which the understanding is placed,” but “discipline, training to reason, to a reasonable, intelligent condition” (as HITZIG rightly conceives it); compare the “discipline of wisdom” (מוּסַר חָכְמָח), 15:33, and for “understanding” (הַשְׂכֵּל), insight, discernment, a rational condition, see particularly 21:16. UMBREIT and EWALD regard הַשְׂכֵּל as equivalent to thoughtfulness (“a discipline to thoughtfulness,” Zuchtigung zur Besonnenheit”); by this rendering, however, the full meaning of the conception is not exhausted.—Righteousness, justice and integrity. The three Hebrew terms מִשְׁפָּט ,עֶדֶק and מֵיּשָׁרִים are related to each other as “righteousness, justice, and integrity, or uprightness” (Gerechtigkeit, Recht und Geradheit). The first of the three expressions describes what is fitting according to the will and ordinance of God the supreme Judge (comp. Deut. 33:19); the second, what is usage and custom among men (Is. 42:1; 1 Sam. 27:11): the third, what is right and reasonable, and in accordance with a walking in the way of truth, and so denotes a straight-forward, honorable and upright demeanor.
Proverbs 1:4. To impart to the simple prudence.—The telic infinitive (לָתֵת) is co-ordinate with the two that precede in Proverbs 1:2 and 3, and has the same subject. Therefore the same construction is to be employed here also (to become acquainted with—to attain—to impart); and we are not, by the introduction of a final clause, to make the contents of this 4th verse subordinate to the preceding, as the LXX do (ί̔να δῷ κ. τ. λ.), and likewise the Vulg. (ut detur, etc.), and LUTHER (“that the simple may become shrewd, and young men reasonable and considerate”). The “simple” (פְּתָאִים), properly, the “open,” those who are readily accessible to all external impressions, and therefore inexperienced and simple, νήπιοι, ἄκακοι (as the LXX appropriately render the word in this passage; comp. Rom. 16:18). With respect to the relation of this idea to that of the “fool” (כְּסִיל ,נָבָל) compare what will be said below on 1:32, and also Introd., § 3, note 2.—Prudence (עָרְמָה, derived from עָרַם) signifies properly nakedness, smoothness (comp. theadj. עָרִוּם [“subtle” E.V.], naked, i.e., slippery, crafty; used of the serpent, Gen. 3:1); therefore metaphorically “the capacity for escaping from the wiles of others” (UMBREIT), “the prudence which guards itself against injury” (22:3; 1 Sam. 23:22).—To the young man knowledge and discretion.—Discretion, thoughtfulness (מְזִמָּה, LXX, έ̓ννοια), denotes here in connection with “knowledge” (דַּעַת) the characteristic of thoughtful, well considered action, resting upon a thorough knowledge of things,—therefore, circumspection, caution.
Proverbs 1:5. Not the simple and immature only, but also the wise .and intelligent, are to derive instruction from Solomon’s proverbs. This idea is not, as might be supposed, thrust in the form of a parenthesis into the series of final clauses beginning with Proverbs 1:2, and reaching its conclusion in Proverbs 1:6, so that the verb (יִשְׁמַע) is to be conceived of as rendering the clause conditional, and is to be translated “if he hears” (UMBREIT, ELSTER); it begins a new independent proposition, whose imperfect tenses are to be regarded as voluntative, and upon which the new infinitive clause with לְ in Proverbs 1:6 is dependent (EWALD. BERTHEAU, and commentators generally).—Let the wise man hearken and add to his learning.—As to the expression” add to his learning” (יוֹסֶף לֶקַח) comp. 9:9; 16:12. The peculiar term rendered “learning” (see critical notes above) is a designation of knowledge, doctrine, instructive teaching in general; comp. Proverbs 1:22 and 29. The word rendered “control,” or mastery, is an abstract derivative, strengthened by the ending וֹת (EWALD, Gramm., § 179 a., note 3), and expresses here in an appropriate and telling figure the idea of “skill and facility in the management of life.” Comp.11:14; 12:5; Job 37:12, etc. Its relation to “learning” (לֶקַח) is quite like that of “discipline” to “wisdom” in Proverbs 1:2; it supplies the practical correlative to the other idea which is predominantly theoretical.
Proverbs 1:6. To understand proverb and enigma, etc.—[“The climax of the definition of wisdom”—STANLEY]. The infinitive (לְהָבִין) supplies the announcement of the end required by Proverbs 1:5: to this end is the wise man to gain in knowledge and self-command or Self-discipline, that he may understand the proverbs and profound sayings of the wise, i.e., may know how to deal appropriately with them. It is not the mere understanding of the wisdom of proverbs by itself that is here indicated as the end of the wise man’s “increase in knowledge and mastery,” but practice and expertness in using this wisdom; it is the callere sententias sapientum which imparts a competence to communicate further instruction to the youth who need discipline. If the telic infinitive (לְהָבִין) be taken in this frequent sense, for which may be compared among other passages Prov. 8:9; 17:10, 24; Dan. 1:27, we do not need with BERTHEAU to give the expression a participial force (by virtue of the fact that he understands,—understanding proverbs, etc.),—nor to maintain with HITZIG and others that Proverbs 1:6 is not grammatically connected with Proverbs 1:5, on the ground that it is not conceivable that the “learning to understand the words of wise men” should be made an object of the endeavor of such as are wise already. It is an intensified acquaintance with wisdom that is here called for, a knowledge in the sense of the passage, “to him that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance,” Matth. 13:12; comp. John 1:16; Rom. 1:17; 2 Cor. 3:18. For the verbal explanation of “enigma” and “dark saying” (מְלִיצָה and חִידָה). see Introd., § 11, note 2. Certain as it is that both expressions here are only designed to embody in a concrete form the idea of obscure discourse that requires interpretation (the parallelism with “proverbs” and “words of wise men” (מָשָׁל and דִּבְרֵי חֲכָמִים) shows this beyond dispute), we have no warrant. for finding in this verse a special allusion to the obscure, enigmatical contents of chap. 30, and so for insisting upon its very late origin, as HITZIG does (see in reply EWALD). Nevertheless, it follows from the comprehensiveness of the plural expression “words of wise men” (comp. 22:17 and Eccles. 9:17; 12:11) that no one could have prefixed to his work an introduction like that before us, who was not conscious that he had collected with proverbs of Solomon many others that were not directly from him (comp. §12 of the Introd.).
2. Proverbs 1:7 is not to be regarded as a part of the superscription, as EWALD, BERTHEAU, ELSTER, KEIL, etc., treat it, but is the general proposition introducing the series of didactic discourses that follows;—a motto, as it were, for the first or introductory main division of the book, as UMBREIT happily expresses it; comp. HITZIG in loc. The proverb has also passed into the Arabic, and here also frequently stands at the commencement of collections of proverbs, whether because it is ascribed to Mohammed, as is sometimes done in such cases, or because it is cited as coming from Solomon. Compare VON DIEZ, Denkwürdigkeiten, II., 459; MEIDANI, ed. Freytag, III., 29, 610; ERPENIUS, Sent. quæd. Arab., p. 45. In the Old Testament [and Apocrypha], moreover, the same maxim occurs several times, especially in Prov. 9:10; Ecclesiast. 1:16, 25; Ps. 111:10. From the passage last cited the LXX repeat in our verse the words appended to the first clause:Ἀρχὴ σοφίας φόβος κυρίον, σύνεσις δὲ ἀγαθὴ̓ πᾶσιν τοῖς ποιοῦσιν αὑτήν [“and a good understanding have all they that do it”].—Beginning.—(רֵאשׁית is here equivalent to תְּחִלָּה found in the parallel passage, 9:10; it is therefore correctly rendered in Ecclesiast, and the LXX by ἀρχὴ in the sense of “beginning”); compare Proverbs 4:7, “the beginning of wisdom;” not, as the words themselves would allow, “that which is highest in wisdom,” “the noblest or best wisdom.” [The latter is given as a marginal reading in the E. V, and is retained and defended by HOLDEN; so also by TRAPP and others.—A.].—Fools.—The word designates properly the hardened, the stupid,—those fools who know nothing of God (Jer. 4:22), and therefore refuse and contemptuously repel His salutary discipline (comp. above, note to Proverbs 1:2).
3. Proverbs 1:8–19. These verses show in an example so shaped as to convey an earnest warning, how we are to guard ourselves against the opposite of the fear of God, against depravity, which is, at the same time, the extremest folly. They contain, therefore, a warning against, turning aside to the way of vice, given as the first illustration of the truth expressed in Proverbs 1:7.
Proverbs 1:8, 9.—My son.—The salutation of the teacher of wisdom, who is here represented as “father” in order to illustrate to his pupil the inner reality and nature of their mutual relation (comp. 1 Cor. 4:15; Philem. 10). The “mother” who is mentioned in connection with this “father” is only a natural expansion of the idea of the figure, suggested by the law of poetic parallelism,—and not a designation of wisdom personified, who does not appear before Proverbs 1:20. [WORDSWORTH and many of the older English expositors regard this as a specific address by Solomon to Rehoboam; this interpretation, however, lacks the support of Oriental usage, and too much restricts the scope of the Book of Proverbs. The large majority, however, of English and American commentators (e.g., TRAPP, HOLDEN, BRIDGES, WORDSWORTH, MUENSCHER) find here a more specific commendation of filial docility and obedience. STUART more nearly agrees with our author in making the “father” and “mother” figurative rather than literal terms—A.].—Law (תּוֹרָה), here doctrina, instructive precepts in general; as in several other instances in our book it is used of the instruction given by parents to their children, e.g., 3:1; 4:2; 7:2; 28:7, 9.—For they are a graceful Grown to thy head.—“Wreath of grace” (לִוְיַת חֵן) graceful crown, as in 4:9. The comparison of the teachings of wisdom with pearls which one hangs as a necklace about the neck, a figure which is a great favorite every where in the East, recurs again in 3:3; 6:21; Ecclesiast. 6:30.
Proverbs 1:10. Transition to an intelligible admonitory example; hence the repetition of the familiar salutation “My son,” which occurs once more in Proverbs 1:15, at the beginning of the apodosis. Sinners (הַטָּאִים).—Sinners by profession, habitual sinners, as in Ps. 1:1; here those in particular whose business is murder (comp. Gen. 4:7, 8), robbers who are murderers.-
Proverbs 1:11. We will lie in wait for blood, etc.—The two verbs (אָרַב and עָפַן) both signify to lie in wait for, to lay snares artfully (as the huntsman for the game, with noose and net). The adverb (הִנָּם) is probably more correctly construed with the verb (lie in wait without cause, i.e., without having any reason for revenge and enmity), than with the adjective,—although this latter combination is also grammatically admissible. But with the conception “him that is innocent in vain,” i.e., the man to whom his innocence shall be of no avail against us, the parallel passages (Ps. 35:19; 69:4; Lam. 3:52) correspond less perfectly than with that to which we have given the preference; comp. HITZIG in loc.
Proverbs 1:12—Will swallow them, like the pit, living.—The “living” (חַיִּים) can refer only to the suffix pronoun (in נִבְלָעֵם). The connection with “like the pit” (כִּשְׁאוֹל), to which UMBREIT and HITZIG give the preference, gives the peculiarly hard sense “as the pit (swallows) that which lives.” Comp. rather Ps. 55:15: “they must go down living into the pit;” and also Ps. 124:3; Prov. 30:16, and the account of the destruction of Koran’s company, Numb. 16:30, 33.—The upright (תְּמִימִים) is accusative, object of the verb (בָּלַע), and therefore stands evidently as synonymous with נְקִיִּים (innocent, comp. Ps. 19:13); it is accordingly to be interpreted as referring to moral integrity or uprightness, and not of bodily soundness (as EWALD, BERTHEAU, and others claim).—Those that descend into the grave (יוֹרֵדֵי בוֹר)—that sink into the sepulchre, i.e., the dead; comp. Ps. 28:1; 88:4; 143:7.
Proverbs 1:13, 14. Reasons for the treacherous proposal of the murderers.—Thou shalt cast in thy lot among us—i.e., thou shalt, as one having equal right with us, cast lots for the spoil, comp. Ps. 22:18; Nehem. 10:35.
Proverbs 1:15 sq. The warning,—given as an apodosis to the condition supposed in Proverbs 1:11. As to the figurative expressions in Proverbs 1:15, comp. Ps. 1:1; Jer. 14:10; Prov. 4:26; for Proverbs 1:16 compare Is. 59:7, and the passage suggested by it, Rom. 3:15. Without adequate grounds, HITZIG conjectures that Proverbs 1:16 is spurious, because, he says, it agrees almost literally with Isaiah (as cited), and, on the other hand, is wanting in the Cod. Vatic. of the LXX. Literal quotations from earlier Biblical writers are in Isaiah above all others nothing uncommon; and with quite as little reason will the omission of a verse from the greatly corrupted LXX text of our book furnish ground, without other evidence, for suspecting its genuineness (see Introd., § 13).
Proverbs 1:17. “The winged” (properly “lords of the wing;” בַּעַל כָּנָף, as in Eccles. 10:20) is hardly a figurative designation of those plotted against by the robbers, and threatened by treacherous schemes, so that the meaning would be “in vain do they lie in wait for their victims; these become aware of their danger, and so their prize, escapes the assailants” (so DÖDERLEIN, ZIEGLER, BERTHEAU, ELSTER, etc.). For 1) the causal conj. “for” (כִּי) authorizes us to look for a direct reason for the warning contained in Proverbs 1:15; 2) the allusion to the possible failure of the plans of the wicked men would not be a moral motive, but a mere prudential consideration, such as would harmonize very poorly with the general drift of the passage before us; and 3) the expression “before the eyes” (בְּעֵינֵי) stands evidently in significant contrast with “in vain” (חִנָּם); it is designed to set the fact that the net is clearly in sight over against the fact that the birds nevertheless fly into it,—and so to exhibit their course as wholly irrational.—Therefore we should interpret with UMBREIT, EWALD, HITZIG, etc.; like thoughtless birds that with open eyes fly into the net, so sinners while plotting destruction for others plunge themselves in ruin. Only with this explanation, with which we may compare Job 18:8, will the import of Proverbs 1:18 agree: there “and these, these also” (וְהֵם) puts the sinners in an emphatic way side by side (not in contrast) with the birds, and the suffixes designate the own blood, the own souls of the sinners. Between the two verses there is therefore the relation of an imperfectly developed comparison suggested by the “also” (וְ) as in 25:25; 27:21; comp. Introd., § 14. [The view of English expositors is divided, like that of the German scholars cited by our author. Bishop HALL, TRAPP, HENRY and NOYES, e.g. agree with him in finding here a comparison, while D’OYLY and MANT, HOLDEN, BRIDGES, WORDSWORTH, STUART, MUENSCHER find a contrast. The argument based on the particles כִּי and וְ it must be admitted has very little force; for כִּי (see EWALD, § 321, b.) may be used positively or negatively in intense asseveration, “yea, surely,” or “nay;” while וְ, it is well known, has a very generous variety of uses, among which is the antithetic, in which case it may be rendered “but” or “and yet” (EWALD, § 330, a.).—A.].—They lie in wait for their own lives. The LXX, which at the end of this verse adds the peculiar but hardly genuine clause, ἡ δὲ καταστροφὴ ἀνδρῶν παρανόμων κακὴ (“and the destruction of transgressors is evil, or great”) seems, instead of “they lie in wait for their own lives” (יִצְפְּנוּ לְנַפְשׁוֹתָם) to have read “they heap up evil” (יִצְבְּרוּ רַע לְי); for it renders the second number by “θησαυρίζουσιν ἑαυτοῖς κακὰ” (they treasure up evils for themselves). Comp. HEIDENHEIM in the article cited in the Introd., § 13, note 1.
Proverbs 1:19. Retrospect and conclusion; comp. Job 8:13; 18:21.—Spoil (בֶּצַע) gain unlawfully acquired, as in 28:16. The combination בֹּצֵעַ בֶּצַע is found also in 15:27. The subject of the verb “takes” (יִקַח) is בֶּצַע; “the life of its owner it, unjust gain, takes away.” LUTHER, following the LXX, Vulgate, and most of the ancient expositors, renders “that one (i.e., of the rapacious) takes life from another.” But the idea “ownership, owner” (בְּעָלִים) has no reference to the relation between partners in violence and those like themselves, but to that existing between an object possessed and its possessor.
4. Proverbs 1:20–33. After this warning against the desperate counsels of the wicked there follows in this second admonitory discourse a warning against the irrational and perverse conduct of fools. In the former case it was contempt of the fear of God, in the latter it is contempt of wisdom against which the warning is directed. Both passages, therefore, refer back distinctly to the motto that introduces them in Proverbs 1:7. The admonition against folly, which is now to be considered, is put appropriately into the mouth of wisdom personified,—as is also, later in the book, the discourse on the nature and the origin of wisdom (Proverbs 8:1 sq).—On the street and in public places wisdom makes herself heard; not In secret, for she need not be ashamed of her teaching, and because she is a true friend of the people seeking the welfare of all, and therefore follows the young and simple, the foolish and ungodly, everywhere where they resort; comp. Christ’s command to His disciples, Matt. 10:27; Luke 14:21, As in these passages of the New Testament, so in that before us, human teachers (the wise men, or the prophets, according to Ecclesiast. 24:33; Wisdom 7:27) are to be regarded as the intermediate instrumentality in the public preaching of wisdom.
Proverbs 1:21. In the places of greatest tumult she calleth, etc. “The tumultuous” (חֹמִיּוֹת), comp. Isaiah 22:2; 1 Kings 1:41, can signify here nothing but the public streets full of tumult, the thoroughfares. The “beginning” (רֹאשׁ) of these highways or thoroughfares is, as if were, their corner; the whole expression points to boisterous public places. The LXX seem to have read חוֹמוֹת “walls,” since it translates ἐπ’ ά̓κρων τειχέων [on high walls]. Before the second clause the same version has the addition “ἐπὶ δὲ πύλαις δυναστῶν παρεδρεύει” [and at the gates of the mighty she sits], an expansion of the figure in which there is no special pertinence. In the city (בָּעִיר) is probably to be regarded as a closer limitation of “at the entrances of the gates” (בְּפִתְחֵי שְׁעָרִים), i.e., on the inner, the city side of the entrances at the gates: it is not then to be regarded as an antithesis, as UMBREIT, BERTHEAU, HITZIG, etc., claim, [nor is it to be detached and connected with the next clause, as STUART claims].
Proverbs 1:22. How long, ye simple, will ye love simplicity? The discourse of Wisdom begins in the same way as Ps. 4:2. In regard to the distinction between “simple” (פְּתִי) and “scorner” (לֵץ), comp. Introd. § 3, note 2; and above, the remarks on Proverbs 1:4.—The perfect tense in the second clause (חָמְדוּ), which standing between the imperfects of the 1st and 3d clauses is somewhat unusual, is to be conceived of as inchoative (like the verb “despise” בָּזוּ in Proverbs 1:7), and therefore properly signifies “become fond of,” and not “be fond of.” [See, however, the critical note on this verse].
Proverbs 1:23. Turn ye at my reproof,—i.e., from your evil and perverse way. I will pour out upon you my spirit. The spirit of wisdom is to flow forth copiously, like a never-failing spring; comp. 18:4; and with reference to the verb “pour out” (חִבִּיעַ) which “unites in itself the figures of abundant fullness and refreshing invigoration” (UMBREIT, ELSTER) comp. 15:2; Ps. 78:2; 119:171.
Proverbs 1:24, in connection with 25, is an antecedent clause introduced by “because” (יַעַן), to which Proverbs 1:26, 27 correspond as conclusion. The perfects and imperfects with ו consec. in the protasis describe a past only in relation to the verbs of the apodosis, and may therefore well be rendered by the present, as LUTHER has done: “Because I call and ye refuse,” etc. To stretch forth the hand, in order to beckon to one, is a sign of calling for attention,—as in Isa. 65:2. The verb in Proverbs 1:25, f. c. (פָּרַע) is doubtless not “undervalue, despise” as HITZIG explains, following the analogy of the Arabic), but “cast off, reject,” as in 4:15, (UMBREIT, EWALD, ELSTER and commentators generally; comp. Luther’s “let go, fahren lassen”). [As between the two the English Version is equivocal, “set at naught”].
Proverbs 1:26. “Laugh” and “mock” (שַׂחַק and לָעַג) here as in Ps. 2:4.
Proverbs 1:27 depicts the style and manner in which calamity comes upon fools, “and accumulates expression to work upon the fancy” (HITZIG). Instead of the K’thibh כשאוה according to the K’ri we should read כְּשׁוֹאָה, and this should be interpreted in the sense of “tempest” (comp. 3:25; Zeph. 1:15). Thus most commentators correctly judge, while HITZIG defends for the expression the signification “cataract,” which however is appropriate in none of the passages adduced, and also fails in Job 30:14 (comp. DELITZSCH on this passage).—In regard to the alliteration צָרָה וְצוּקָה distress and anguish, comp. Isa. 30:6; Zeph. 1:15.
Proverbs 1:28. They shall seek me diligently שָׁחַר, a denominative verb from שַחַר, “the morning dawn,” signifies to seek something while it is yet early, in the obscurity of the morning twilight, and so illustrates eager, diligent seeking. [Of the recent commentators in English, NOYES only retains and emphasizes the rendering of the E. V., “they shall seek me early.” The rest do not find the idea of time in the verb, except by suggestion.—A.]. Comp., with respect to the general idea of the verse, Prov. 8:17; Hos. 5:15. [Observe also the force of the transition from the 2d person of the preceding verse, to the 3d person in this and the verses following.—A.].
Proverbs 1:29. The “because” (תַּחַת כִּי) is not dependent on Proverbs 1:28, but introduces the four-fold antecedent clause (Proverbs 1:29, 30), which Proverbs 1:31 follows as its conclusion. With Proverbs 1:31 comp. Is. 3:10; Ps. 88:3; 123:4, where the figure of satiety with a thing expresses likewise the idea of experiencing the evil consequences of a mode of action. מוֹעֵצות, evil devices, as also Ps. 5:10.
Proverbs 1:32, 33. Confirmatory and concluding propositions, connected by “for” (כִּי).—מְשּׁוּבָה, turning away from wisdom and its salutary discipline, therefore resistance, rebelliousness. Comp. Jer. 8:5, Hos. 11:5, where it signifies turning away or departure from God. “Security” (שַׁלְוָה) idle, easy rest, the carnal security of the obdurate; comp. Jerem. 22:21. A beautiful contrast to this false ease is presented in the true peace of the wise and devout, as Proverbs 1:33 describes it.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
As long ago as the time of MELANCHTHON it was recognized as a significant fact, that wisdom claims as her hearers and pupils not only the simple, the young and the untaught, but those also who are already advanced in the knowledge of truth, the wise and experienced. He remarks on Proverbs 1:5: “To his proposition he adds an admonition what the hearer ought to be. A wise hearer will profit, as saith the Lord: To him that hath shall be given. And again, He shall give the Holy Spirit to those that seek, not to those that despise, not to those that oppose with barbarous and savage fierceness. These despisers of God, the Epicureans and the like, he here says do not profit, but others, in whom are the beginnings of the fear of God, and who seek to be controlled by God, as it is said: Ask and ye shall receive.”3 Susceptibility therefore both must manifest,—those who are beginners under the instruction of wisdom, and those who are more advanced; otherwise there is no progress for them. It is indeed divine wisdom in regard to the acquisition of which these assertions are made; and in the possession of this wisdom, and in the communication of it as a teacher, no man here below ever attains perfection, so as to need no further teaching. It is precisely as it is within the department of the New Testament with the duty of faith, and of growth in believing knowledge, which duty in no stage of the Christian life in this world ever loses its validity and its binding power. Comp. Luke 17:5; Eph. 4:15, 16; Col. 1:11; 2:19; 2 Thess. 1:3; 2 Pet. 3:18.
2. The thoroughly religious character of wisdom as our book designs to inculcate it, appears not only in the jewel which sparkles foremost in its necklace of proverbs (Proverbs 1:7: “The fear of Jehovah is the beginning of wisdom, etc.”), but also in the fact that in the introductory admonition, in Proverbs 1:10, it is Sinners (so designated without preamble or qualification), the חַטָּאִים (LUTHER, “the base knaves,” die bösen Buben), whose seductive conduct is put in contrast with the normal deportment of the disciple of wisdom. Observe further that in the very superscription, Proverbs 1:2 and 3, the ideas of discipline, righteousness, justice and uprightness are appended to that of wisdom as synonymous with it. The wise man is therefore eo ipso, also the just, the pious, the upright, the man who walks the way of truth. Inasmuch, however, as the ideas of righteousness, justice and uprightness (מֵישָׁרִים ,מִשְפָט ,צֶדֶק), here, as every where else in the Old Testament, express the idea of correspondence with the revealed moral law, the law, the law of Moses, therefore the wise man is the man who acts and walks in accordance with law, the true observer of the law, who “walks in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless” (Luke 1:6; comp. Deut. 5:33; 6:22; Ps. 119:1). True wisdom, knowledge, and spiritual culture, are to be found within the sphere of Old Testament revelation only where the law of the Lord is truly observed. Mere morality in the sense of the modern humanitarian free-thinking and polite culture could not at all show itself there; moral rectitude must also always be at the same time legal rectitude. Nay it stands enacted also under the New Testament that “whosoever shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven” (Matth. 5:19); that “the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy and faith,” together with its less significant demands, must be fulfilled (Matth. 23:23); that he only can be called a possessor of “the wisdom that is from above,” and “a perfect man,” who “offends not in word” (James 3:2, 17). The fear of the Lord, which according to Proverbs 1:7 is the beginning of wisdom, while again in Proverbs 1:29 it is presented as the synonyme of the same idea (comp. 2:5; 9:10, etc.) consists, once for all, in a complete devotion to God, an unconditional subjection of one’s own individuality to the beneficent will of God as revealed in the law (comp. Deut. 6:2, 13; 10:20; 13:4; Ps. 119:63, etc.). How then can he be regarded as fearing God, who should keep only a part of the divine commands, or who should undertake to fulfil them only according to their moral principle, and did not seek also to make the embodying letter of their formal requirements the standard of his life—in the Old Testament with literal strictness, in the New Testament in spirit and in truth?
From these observations it will appear what right BRUCH has to maintain (in the work before cited, p. 128), that in the collection of the Proverbs of Solomon, and in general in the gnomic writers of Israel, the idea of wisdom is substituted for that of righteousness which is common in other parts of the Old Testament. Righteousness and wisdom according to this view would be essentially exclusive the one of the other; since the former conception “had usually attached itself to a ceremonial righteousness through works,” and had appeared “to make too little reference to the theoretical conditions of all higher moral culture.” In the Introduction, (§ 15, note) we have already commented on the one-sidedness and the misconception involved in this view, according to which the doctrine of wisdom (the Hhokmah-system) was Antinomian and rationalistic in the sense of the purely neggative Protestantism of modern times. Further arguments in its refutation we shall have occasion to adduce in the exposition of the several passages there cited (see particularly 14:9; 28:4 sq.; 29:18, 24, etc.) See also the doctrinal observations on 3:9.
3. That the reckless transgressor destroys himself by his ungodly course, that he runs with open eyes into the net of destruction spread out before him, and, as it were, lies in wait for his own life to strangle it,—this truth clearly presented in Proverbs 1:17, 18 is a characteristic and favorite tenet in the teaching of wisdom in the Old Testament. Comp. particularly Proverbs 8:36, where wisdom exclaims “Whoso sinneth against me, wrongeth his own soul; all they that hate me love death.” So also 15:32; 26:27; Eccles. 10:8; Ps. 7:15; Ecclesiast. 27:29 (the figure of the pit which the wicked digs, to fall into it at last himself). But in the Prophets also essentially the same thought recurs; thus when Jehovah (in Ezek. 18:31; 33:11) exclaims “Why will ye die, ye of the house of Israel?” Of passages from the New Testament we may cite here Rom. 2:5; 1 Tim. 6:9, 10; Gal. 6:8; James 5:3–5, etc. Both propositions are alike true, that true wisdom, being one with the fear of God and righteousness, is “a tree of life to all that lay hold upon her” (Prov. 3:18; 11:30; 15:4; comp. 4:13, 22; 19:23, etc.),—and that on the other hand a walking in folly and in forgetfulness of God is a slow self-murder, a destruction of one’s own life and happiness. See the two concluding propositions of our chapter (Proverbs 1:32, 33) and the admirable poetic development of this contrast in the Ps. 1:4. The explanation given above (on Proverbs 1:20) of the fact that wisdom is exhibited as preaching upon the streets, i.e., in reference to her benevolent and philanthropic character, which impels her to follow sinners, and to make the great masses of the needy among the people the object of her instructive and converting activity, seems to us to correspond better with the spirit of the doctrine of wisdom in the Old Testament, than either that of UMBREIT, according to which “it is only in busy life that the rich stream of experience springs forth, from which wisdom is drawn,” or that of EWALD, which recognizes, in the free public appearance of wisdom an effective contrast to the light-shunning deeds, and the secret consultations of the sinners who have just been described, (which explanation, besides, would apply only to this passage, and not to its parallels in 8:2, 3, and 9:3). The tendency of the Old Testament Hhokmah. was essentially popular, looking to the increased prosperity of the nation, to the promotion of philanthropic ends in the noblest sense of the word. Love, true philanthropy is everywhere the keynote to its doctrines and admonitions. “Forgiving, patient love (10:12), love that does good even to enemies (25:11 sq.), which does not rejoice over an enemy’s calamity (24:17 sq.), which does not recompense like with like (24:28 sq.), but commits all to God (20:22), love in its manifold varieties, as conjugal love, parental love, the love of a friend, is here recommended with the clearness of the New Testament and the most expressive cordiality.” (DELITZSCH, as above cited, p. 716). Why then should not that yearning and saving love for sinners which ventures into the whirl and tumult of great crowds to bear testimony to divine truth, and to reclaim lost souls,—why should not this also constitute a chief characteristic in this spiritual state modelled so much like the standard of the New Testament? It appears—in how many passages!—as the type of, nay, as one with the spirit of Him who also “spake freely and openly before the world, in the synagogue and in the temple whither the Jews always resorted” (John 18:20); who, when He said something in secret to His disciples, did it only to the end that they should afterward “preach it upon the house-tops” (Matth. 10:27); who allowed himself to be taunted as “a man gluttonous, and a wine-bibber, a friend of publicans and sinners,” because He had come to seek and to save the lost (Matth. 11:19; Luke 19:10). It is at least significant that the Lord, just in that passage in which he is treating of the publicity of His working, and of the impression which His condescending intercourse with publicans, sinners and the mass of the people had made upon the Jews, designates Himself distinctly (together with His herald and forerunner, John the Baptist) as the personal Wisdom; Matth. 11:19; Luke 7:35. It is as though He had by this expression intended to call up in fresh remembrance Solomon’s representation of wisdom preaching in the streets, and to refer to His own identity with the spirit of the Old Testament revelation that spoke through this wisdom (the “spirit of Christ,” 1 Pet. 1:11). Comp. MART. GEIER and STARKE on this passage. These authors appropriately remind us of the universality of the New Testament’s proclamation of salvation, and its call penetrating everywhere (Rom. 10:18; Col. 1:6, 28); they are in error, however, in suspecting in the supposed plural הָכְמוֹת (Proverbs 1:18) an intimation of the numberless ways in which wisdom is proclaimed in the world. The true conception of this seeming plural may be found above in the Exegetical and Critical Notes on this passage.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
Homily upon the entire first chapter. Solomon’s discourse upon wisdom as the highest good. 1) Its design, for young and old, learned and unlearned (Proverbs 1:1–6). 2) Its substance: commendation of the fear of God as the beginning and essence of all wisdom (Proverbs 1:7). 3) Its aim: a) warning against betrayal into profligacy as being the opposite of the fear of God (Proverbs 1:8–19); b) warning against the foolish conduct of the world as being the opposite of wisdom (Proverbs 1:20–33).—The wisdom of the Old Testament as a type of true Christian feeling and action: a) with respect to God as the supreme author and chief end of all moral effort (Proverbs 1:1–9); b) with respect to the world, as the seducing power, that draws away from communion with God (Proverbs 1:10–19); c) with respect to the way and manner in which Divine wisdom itself reveals itself as an earnest and yet loving preacher of righteousness (Proverbs 1:20–33).—Fear of God the one thing that is needful in all conditions of life: a) in youth as well as in age (Proverbs 1:4 sq.); b) in circumstances of temptation (Proverbs 1:10 sq.); c) in the tumult and unrest of public life (Proverbs 1:20 sq.); d) in prosperity and adversity (Proverbs 1:27 sq.).
STÖCKER:—Threefold attributes of the lover of wisdom: 1) in relation to God: the fear of God (1–7); 2) in relation to one’s neighbors,—and specifically, a) to one’s parents; obedience (8, 9); b) to others: the avoidance of evil company (10–19); 3) in relation to one’s self; diligent use of the opportunity to become acquainted with wisdom.
Proverbs 1:1–6. See above, Doctrinal and Ethical principles. 1.—
STARKE:—The aim of the book, and that which should be learned from it, are pointed out in these verses in various almost equivalent words. The aim is, however, substantially twofold: 1) that the evil in man be put away; 2) that good be learned and practised.—WOHLFARTH:—the necessity of the culture of our mind and heart. Not the cultivated, but the undisciplined, oppose the law ! God “will have all men come to the knowledge of the truth,” 1 Tim. 1:4.—[Proverbs 1:4. CARTWRIGHT (quoted by BRIDGES):—“Over the gates of Plato’s school it was written—Μηδείζ ἀγεωμέτρητοζ εἰσίτω—Let no one who is not a geometrician enter. But very different is the inscription over these doors of Solomon—Let the ignorant, simple, foolish, young, enter!”]
Proverbs 1:7–9. The blessedness of the fear of God, and the unblessed condition of forgetfulness of God,—illustrated in the relation 1) of children to their parents; 2) of subjects to authorities; 3) of Christians to Christ, the Lord of the Church.—The proposition “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” must constitute the foundation of all the culture of the children of God, as the experience of the truth that “to love Christ is better than all knowledge” is to constitute its capstone and completion.
Proverbs 1:8, 9, in general a peculiarly appropriate text for a sermon on education.—LUTHER (a marginal comment on Proverbs 1:7). “He who would truly learn must first be a man fearing God. He, however, who despises God asks for no wisdom, suffers no chastisement nor discipline.”—MELANCHTHON (on Proverbs 1:7):—The fear of God, which is one with true reverence for God, includes: 1) right knowledge of God; 2) a genuine standing in fear before God; 3) faith, or the believing consecration to God, which distinguishes this fear from all servile dread, and fleeing from God; 4) the worship of God which aids to a true reconciliation with Him, a well ordered and assured control of the whole life. Therefore the fear of God is not merely beginning—it is quite the sum of all wisdom, the right manager of all our counsels in prosperity and adversity.—MELANCHTHON (again) on Proverbs 1:8, 9:—He only reveals genuine fear of God who hearkens to the divinely instituted ministry (ministerium docendi) in the Church; and to this ministry parents also belong, so far forth as they are to “bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord,” Eph. 6:4. “Forsake not the law of thy mother,” i.e., hearken always to the word of God as it has been communicated to the Church, and through the Church to all the children of God in the writings of the Prophets and Apostles. As a reward God here promises to those who practise this obedience to His word a wreath upon the head and a beautiful necklace about the neck. The wreath betokens dominion, distinction, successful results in all that one undertakes for himself and others, so that he becomes an instrument of blessing and a vessel of mercy for the people of God, according to the type of the devout kings, David, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, etc., and not a vessel of wrath after the likeness of a Saul, Absalom, etc. The necklace signifies the gift of discourse, or of the command of wholesome doctrine, through the power of the word.—STARKE (on Proverbs 1:7):—True wisdom is no such thing as the heathen sages taught, built upon reason and the human powers, inflated, earthly, and useless with respect to salvation; but it is “the wisdom that is from above, which is first pure, then peaceable, gentle and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy” (James 3:17). The fear of God is, however, of two kinds, the servile and the childlike; and only the latter is here meant, 1 John 4:18.—On Proverbs 1:8, 9. From the fear of God as belonging to the first table of the law, Solomon passes on to the second table, and begins with obedience to parents: in this connection however it is assumed that parents also fulfil their duty, with regard to the correct instruction of their children; Eph. 6:4.—ZELTNER:—Many simple ones, who, however, fear God from the heart, have made such progress in the knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, that they have outstripped many of the learned. True wisdom is easy to be learned, if only there be true fear of God in the heart, Ecclesiast. 1:22 sq.—LANGE:—(Salom. Licht und Recht). The fear of God is a desire flowing from the knowledge of the essence of all essences—of the will and the gracious acts of God,—a sincere desire heartily to love Him as the highest good, in deepest humility to honor Him, in child-like confidence to hope the best from Him, and to serve Him with denial of self, willingly and steadfastly; and all this in conformity to His revealed will. Comp. above, MELANCHTHON, and also S. BOHLIUS, Ethica Sacra: “To fear God is nothing but to follow God, or to imitate none but God.”4
[Proverbs 1:7. ARNOT:—“What God is inspires awe; what God has done for His people commands affection. See here the centrifugal and centripetal forces of the moral world, holding the creature reverently distant from the Creator, yet compassing the child about with everlasting love, to keep him near a Father in heaven.”
Proverbs 1:8. “This verse of the Proverbs flows from the same well spring that had already given forth the fifth commandment.”]
Proverbs 1:10–19. Calwer Handbuch: The first rule for youth, “Follow father and mother,” is immediately followed by the second, “Follow not base fellows.”—STARKE:—As a good education of children lays the first foundation for their true well being, so temptation lays the first foundation for their destruction.—The world, in order the better to lead others astray, is wont to adorn its vices with the finest colors. There be most of all on thy guard; where the world is most friendly it is most dangerous. It is a poisoned sweetmeat.—If thou art God’s child, engrafted in Christ the living vine by holy baptism, thou hast received from Him new powers to hate evil and conquer all temptations.—On Proverbs 1:16–19:—The ungodly have in their wickedness their calamity also,—and must (by its law) prepare this for one another.—LUTHER (marginal comment on Proverbs 1:17): “This is a proverb, and means “It fares with them as is said, ‘In vain is the net,’ etc.; i.e., their undertaking will fail, they will themselves perish.”
[Proverbs 1:10. ARNOT:—This verse, in brief compass and transparent terms, reveals the foe and the fight. With a kindness and wisdom altogether paternal, it warns the youth of the Danger that assails him, and suggests the method of Defence.]
Proverbs 1:20 sq. GEIER (on Proverbs 1:20, 21):—“All this declares the fervor and diligence of heavenly wisdom in alluring and drawing all to itself: just as a herald with full lungs and clear voice endeavors to summon all to him.”—LANGE:—Eternal wisdom sends forth a call of goodness and grace to the pious, and a call to holiness and righteousness addressed to the ungodly. O that all would read and use aright this record written out thus in capitals!—Calwer Handb.:—Wisdom’s walk through the streets. The Lord and His Spirit follows us every where with monition and reminder. Here wisdom is portrayed especially as warning against the evil consequences of disobedience, and as pointing to the blessings of obedience.—WOHLFARTH: The words of grief over the unthankfulness and blindness of men which Solomon here puts into the mouth of wisdom,—we hear them, alas! even to-day. Truth has become… .the common property of all men: in thousands upon thousands of churches and schools, from the mouth of innumerable teachers, in millions of written works, it speaks, instructs, warns, pleads, adjures, so that we with wider meaning than Solomon can say, it is preached in highways and byways. If, on the one hand, we must greatly rejoice over this, how should we not in the same measure mourn that so many despise and scorn this call of wisdom! Is it not fearful to observe how parents innumerable keep their children from schools—how many despise the preaching of the gospel, etc.? Let us therefore learn how slow man is to good, how inclined to evil, how careless he is just in connection with his richest privileges, etc.
Proverbs 1:22 sq. STARKE:—Wisdom divides men here into three classes: 1) The simple or foolish: 2) mockers; 3) the abandoned. Through her call, “Turn you at my reproof,” etc., she aims to transform these into prudent, thoughtful, devout men.—No one can receive the Holy Spirit of Christ and be enlightened with Divine wisdom, and not turn to the sacrifice of Christ (John 14:15 sq.—16:7 sq.), renounce evil, and begin a new life (Ps. 34:15).—LANGE :—If man does not follow the counsel of eternal wisdom, but walks according to the impulse of his own will, he comes at last to the judgment of obduracy.—W. STEIN (Fast day sermon on 1:23–33):—How does eternal, heavenly wisdom aim to awaken us to penitence? 1) She uncovers our sins; 2) she proclaims heavy judgments; 3) she offers us shelter and points out the way of eternal salvation.—[Proverbs 1:23. FLAVEL:—This great conjunction of the word and Spirit makes’ that blessed season of salvation the time of love and of life.—J. HOWE:—When it is said, “Turn,” etc., could any essay to turn be without some influence of the Spirit? But that complied with tends to pouring forth a copious effusion not to be withstood.—ARNOT:—The command is given not to make the promise unnecessary, but to send us to it for help. The promise is given not to supersede the command, but to encourage us in the effort to obey.—When we turn at His reproof, He will pour out His Spirit; when He pours out His Spirit, we will turn at His reproof; blessed circle for saints to reason in.
Proverbs 1:24–28. ARNOT:—When mercy was sovereign, mercy used judgment for carrying out mercy’s ends; when mercy’s reign is over and judgment’s reign begins, then judgment will sovereignly take mercy past, and wield it to give weight to the vengeance stroke.
Proverbs 1:32. SOUTH:—Prosperity ever dangerous to virtue: 1) because every foolish or vicious person is either ignorant or regardless of the proper ends and rules for which God designs the prosperity of those to whom He sends it; 2) because prosperity, as the nature of man now stands, has a peculiar force and fitness to abate men’s virtues and heighten their corruptions; 3) because it directly indisposes them to the proper means of amendment and recovery.—BAXTER:—Because they are fools they turn God’s mercies to their own destruction; and because they prosper, they are confirmed in their folly.]
Propostioni addit admonitionem, qualem oporteat auditorem esse. Sapiens auditor proficiet, sicut Dominus inquit: Habenti dabitur. Item: Dabit spiritum sanctum petentibus, non contemnentibus, non repugnantibus barbarica et cyclopica ferocia. Hos contemptores Dei, ut Epicureos et similes, ait hic non proficere, sed alios, in quibus sunt initia timoris Dei, et qui petunt se regi a Deo, sicut dicitur Petite et accipietis.
“Timere Deum nihil aliud est quam sequi Deum sive neminem imitari præter Deum.”
The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel;