He keeps the paths of judgment, and preserves the way of his saints.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)He keepeth the paths of judgment—i.e., protects those who walk in them.
His saints.—Or rather, His ardent worshippers (chasîdîm), a term used in the Pentateuch (Deuteronomy 33:8) of the tribe of Levi, for their zeal in God’s service (Exodus 32), and of very frequent occurrence in the Psalter. The word “saint” rather implies dedication to God, as Israel was a “holy nation (Exodus 19:6) to God, and Christians (Philippians 1:1) are now in the same position. The term chāsîd, at the time of the Maccabees, was assumed by such “as were voluntarily devoted to the law” (1 Maccabees 2:42), in opposition to those who favoured the Greek religion and culture.Proverbs 2:8-9. He keepeth the paths of judgment — Hebrew, לנצר ארחות, To keep the paths, &c. It seems to be spoken of those who walk uprightly, mentioned in the preceding verse, and it would be better translated, That they, namely, the upright, may keep the paths of judgment: that is, God is a buckler, or defence, to the upright, to protect and keep them from those temptations and snares which would seduce them from, or prevent their continuance in, the paths of judgment; as it is further explained in the following clause. Then — When thou hast done thy part, as expressed Proverbs 2:1-3, and God, in answer to thy desires, hath given thee wisdom, Proverbs 2:6. Shalt thou understand righteousness, &c. — All the parts of thy duty to man, as well as the fear of God; every good path — The practice of all virtues and graces.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).
saints—objects of favor (compare Ps 4:3, &c.). He guides and guards them.He keepeth the paths of judgment; he guardeth and guideth the paths or ways, i.e. the counsels and actions, of good men, as the next clause explains this, which are called
paths of judgment, or righteous paths; judgment being here put for righteousness, as it is in Psalm 99:4, and oft elsewhere. And keeping of paths may be put for keeping them in their paths, so as they shall neither swerve from them, nor stumble and fall in them. And preserve the way of his saints; the same thing repeated in other words. Proverbs 2:7, he is their shield and protection, so as either to keep them in the right ways in which they should go; or that they might studiously observe them, and keep walking therein, without stumbling in them, or declining from them;
and preserveth the way of his saints; to whom he has been kind and bountiful; or who have been merciful, liberal, and generous to others; who having partook of the grace of God themselves, are useful to men: the Targum calls them "righteous ones". These the Lord preserves by his power and grace, in the way in which he has led them, and which is his own way, safe to his kingdom and glory: for none of his saints, his holy and righteous ones, shall ever perish; the way in which he directs them, and in which he keeps them, leads to everlasting life; see 1 Samuel 2:9.He keepeth the paths of judgment, and preserveth the way of his saints.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)8. He keepeth] Lit. to keep, which may mean, for them (those that walk in integrity) to keep, that they may keep, R.V. marg. But it is better to retain God as the subject still, and at the same time to preserve the parallelism with the 2nd clause of the verse. The two verses (7, 8) will then read, with R.V. text,
He layeth up sound wisdom for the upright,
He is a shield to them that walk in integrity;
That he may guard the paths of judgement,
And preserve the way of His saints.Verse 8. - He keepeth the paths of judgment. This verse is explanatory of the latter hemistich of ver. 7, and points out more fully in what way God is a Protector of his saints. Some connect the Hebrew infinitive לִנְצור (lin'tsor), "to watch or keep," with "them that walk uprightly," and translate, "them that walk uprightly by keeping the paths of judgment;" but this is to transfer the idea of protection from God to such persons. The verb signifies specially "to defend, to preserve from danger," as in Proverbs 22:12, "The eyes of the Lind preserve knowledge; i.e. defend or protect it from danger." It is God who "keepeth the paths of judgment," as he alone has the power to do so. He watches over all that walk therein, guides, superin. tends, and protects them. The paths of judgment; or rather, justice, ךארְהות מִשְׁפָט (at'khoth mishpat). The abstract is here used for the concrete, and the phrase means "the paths of the just," i.e. the paths in which the just walk, or "those who walk justly" (Mercerus). This expression corresponds with "the way of his saints," just as "keep" and "preserve" are synonymous verbs, both meaning "to guard, keep safe, or protect." He preserveth the way of his saints. God does this
(1) by his preventing grace, as in Psalm 66:9, "He suffereth not our feet to slip." Cf. Hannah's song, "He will keep the feet of his saints" (1 Samuel 2:9);
(2) by angelic agency, as in Psalm 91:11, "He shall give his angels charge over thee to keep thee in all thy ways." The saints are ever under the watchful care and mighty protection of Jehovah. His saints (חֲסִידָו khasidav); i.e. the pious towards God, the godly, those in whose hearts the principles of sanctity have been implanted, and who cherish earnest inward love to God, and "walk righteously" and "speak uprightly" (Isaiah 33:15). It is remarkable that the word saints only occurs once (in this passage) in the Proverbs. During the period of the Maccabaean Wars, a party or sect, which aimed at ceremonial purity, claimed for themselves the title of Chasidim or Asidaeans (Ἀσιδαῖοι), as expressive of their piety or devotion. They are those whom Moses called "men of holiness," Exodus 22:31 (ואֲנְשֵׁיאּקֹדֶשׁ, v'an'shev-kodesh); cf. Psalm 89:5; Psalm 149:1; Psalm 89:8; Deuteronomy 33:3; Daniel 7:18, 22, 22, 25. Under the Christian dispensation, the saints are those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus (1 Corinthians 1:2; 1 John 5:1), and who are holy in all manner of conversation (1 Peter 1:25; 1 Macc. 2:42 1 Macc. 7:13; 2 Macc. 14:6); see Bishop Lightfoot, 'Colossians and Philemon,' diss. 2, p. 355. Proverbs 2:1, Proverbs 2:2, is to be interpreted as an exclamation, "O that!" (O si), and then as an optative, as Psalm 81:9; Psalm 139:19. אז ...כּי, Proverbs 2:3-5, with the inserted connecting clauses, would then be confirmatory, "for then." But since this poet loves to unfold one and the same thought in ever new forms, one has perhaps to begin the conditional premisses with Proverbs 2:1, and to regard כּי אם as a new commencement. Hitzig takes this כי אם in the sense of imo: "much more if thou goest to meet her, e.g., by curious inquiry, not merely permittest her quietly to come to thee." אם would then preserve its conditional meaning; and כּי as in Job 31:18; Psalm 130:4, since it implies an intentional negative, would receive the meaning of imo. But the sentences ranged together with אם are too closely related in meaning to admit such a negative between them. כּי will thus be confirmatory, not mediately, but immediately; it is the "for equals yes" of confirmation of the preceding conditions, and takes them up again (Ewald, 356, b, cf. 330 b) after the form of the conditional clause was given up. The צפן, which in Proverbs 1:11, Proverbs 1:18, is the synonym of צפה, speculari, presents itself here, 1b, 7a, as the synonym of טמן, whence מטמנים, synon. of צפוּנים, recondita; the group of sounds, צף, צם, טם (cf. also דף, in Arab. dafan, whence dafynat, treasure), express shades of the root representation of pressing together. The inf. of the conclusion להקשׁיב, to incline (Gr. Venet. ὡς ἀκροῷτο), is followed by the accus. of the object אזנך, thine ear, for הקשׁיב properly means to stiffen (not to purge, as Schultens, nor to sharpen, as Gesenius thinks); cf. under Psalm 10:17. With חכמה are interchanged בּינה, which properly means that which is distinguished or separated, and תּבוּנה, which means the distinguishing, separating, appellations of the capacity of distinguishing in definite cases and in general; but it does not represent this as a faculty of the soul, but as a divine power which communicates itself as the gift of God (charisma).
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