The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Proverbs 1

Vv 1-9: "These verses have been likened to the overture of an opera, suggesting the themes which will later be developed. Each phrase finds elaboration in Pro 1--9. It is like the title page of a Victorian book, having a motto on the opening page, beautifully designed, with surrounding scroll work enclosing associated and interwoven thoughts" (Waddoup). See Article, Prov, Christ's death in the.

Pro 1:1

The first verse introduces the entire Book of Proverbs. In these opening words, the basic authorship, the character of the material, and the kind of literature are established. Similar verses identify individual collections within the book, as well as designate the book's structure (Pro 10:1; 22:17; 24:23; 25:1; 30:1; 31:1).

PROVERBS: Heb "mashal" = a comparison (ie between wise man and fool), from root "to rule" (ie over one's life): cp Gal 6:16. A proverb is not always plain (Pro 1:6; Joh 16:25).

What is a proverb? (1) A short pithy saying in common and recognized use; a concise sentence, often metaphorical or alliterative in form, which is held to express some truth ascertained by experience or observation and familiar to all. (2) A common word or phrase of contempt or reproach, a byword. (3) An oracular or enigmatical saying that requires interpretation; an allegory, a parable.

The Bible uses the word "proverb" in all three ways. And this book contains proverbs of both the first and third kinds.

Proverbs can be difficult to understand. They are often metaphorical, which means they use words figuratively, not literally. And they are often enigmatical, which means they were composed intentionally with obscure metaphors to challenge the ability of the reader to discover their hidden wisdom. They can be obscure and perplexing by design, which gives them their unique appeal and force.

Solomon in his introduction defines proverbs as needing "interpretation" and being the "dark sayings" of wise men (Pro 1:6). We may almost see him admitting definitions one and three above, for metaphors need interpretation and enigmas are truly dark sayings!

To rush into the book of Proverbs naively and apply primary definitions or the literal use of words is to run amok indeed. These sayings need interpretation, which means arriving at the sense intended by the Holy Spirit working in and through Solomon.

Jesus and his disciples further show the difficulty of understanding proverbs: "These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: but the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall shew you plainly of the Father" (John 16:25). "His disciples said unto him, Lo, now speakest thou plainly, and speakest no proverb" (John 16:29).

Jesus knew that proverbs were not plain speech, and the disciples also understood proverbs were not plain statements. They need careful analysis and interpretation for us to know the full and correct meaning and application.

These proverbs will provide short, exciting, and challenging rules for living life successfully by the wisdom of God. What an exciting literary form! What an interesting way of communicating truth! And all by the Divine inspiration of the LORD God!

SOLOMON: Note Solomon's request in 1Ki 3:9-12. He composed 3,000 proverbs and 1,005 songs (1Ki 4:32; cp Ecc 12:9). He was a man of wisdom, because (when was this?) he was a man of prayer: 1Ki 3:12; 2:1-9).

But these are not just any proverbs, they are the proverbs of Solomon, son of David and king of Israel. Not only was he begotten and trained by the man after God's own heart, but also God gave Solomon largeness of heart and wisdom above all other men (1Ki 3:12; 4:29-31). As a rich king with a peaceful reign, he explored the purpose of life more than most any other man could even attempt.

God inspired Solomon to write many proverbs, by which he taught the people knowledge, set out acceptable words, even the words of truth. Of a total of three thousand proverbs (1Ki 4:32), we have hardly more than five hundred here. But what a collection it is!

Let the reader tremble before the Word of God and rejoice at the opportunity of finding great treasure in the Mind of God. Let our intent be learning and obedience only, without even a trace of mere academic interest or knowledge for the sake of pride.

A devoted follower of Socrates asked him the best way to acquire knowledge. Socrates responded by leading him to a river and plunging him beneath the surface. The man struggled to free himself, but Socrates kept his head submerged. Finally, after much effort, the man was able to break loose and emerge from the water. Socrates then asked, "When you thought you were drowning, what one thing did you want most of all?" Still gasping for breath, the man exclaimed, "I wanted air!" The philosopher wisely commented, "When you want knowledge as much as you wanted air, then you will get it!"

Pro 1:2

"The introduction [vv 2-6] furnishes us with an epitome in short and concise language of the general scope and bearing of the book and points out its specific utility, both to the inexperienced and to those already wise" (CPro).

Cp the "eyesalve" of Rev 3:18. Buy wisdom, not with money, but with study (Isa 55:1). Lesson: to be spiritual-minded (Rom 8:6). Parables and proverbs force us to be meek and attentive, not proud.

FOR ATTAINING: This term "yada" refers to experiential knowledge, not just cognitive knowledge; it includes the intellectual assimilation and practical use of what is acquired.

WISDOM: Implies firmness, solidity -- in ct the "wind" of Eph 4:14. The Heb "chokmah" refers to "skill" that produces something of value. It is used in reference to the skill of seamen (Psa 107:27), abilities of weavers (Exo 35:26), capabilities of administrators (1Ki 3:28), or skill of craftsmen (Exo 31:6). In the realm of moral living, it refers to skill in living -- one lives life with moral skill so that something of lasting value is produced from one's life.

The common and general understanding of the difference between "knowledge" and "wisdom" -- at least in their English usages -- is described by Wiersbe: "The pages of history are filled with the names of brilliant and gifted people who were smart enough to become rich and famous but not wise enough to make a successful and satisfying life. Before his death, one of the world's richest men said that he would have given all his wealth to make one of his six marriages succeed. It's one thing to make a LIVING, but quite something else to make a LIFE."

The ultimate source of wisdom and understanding is that taught by the Holy Spirit-inspired Scriptures, through the life and the power of the Lord Jesus Christ (Col 1:9-12). All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are found in Christ Jesus (Col 2:3); in him we may joyfully know we have found the One greater than Solomon (Mat 12:42).

DISCIPLINE: "The noun 'muwcar' has a three-fold range of meanings: (1) physical or parental: 'discipline; chastisement', (2) verbal: 'warning; exhortation' and (3) moral: 'training; instruction' (BDB; HAL). Its parallelism with 'chokmah' suggests that it refers to moral training or instruction that the Book of Proverbs offers to its readers. This instruction consists of wisdom acquired by observing the consequences of foolish actions in others and developing the ability to control the natural inclination to folly. This sometimes comes through experiencing chastisement from God. Sensing something of this nuance, the LXX translated this term with the Greek word for 'child-training' " (NETn). Cp "temperance" of 2Pe 1:6.

FOR UNDERSTANDING WORDS OF INSIGHT: That is, for properly evaluating the words of the wise: cp Heb 5:14; Phi 1:10; ct Isa 6:10. "Literally, this means to 'discern the words of discernment', since the verb and the noun have the same root: 'to go between, to divide, to distinguish'. One commentator aptly expresses it thus: 'Penetration is an integral part of wisdom' (Perowne). It is Paul's 'proving all things', telling right from wrong. When the Lord appeared to Solomon and asked him what He should give him, he said, 'Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad' (1Ki 3:9). So the apostle writes: 'Strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil' (Heb 5:14)" (Waddoup).

"The holy Scriptures... are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2Ti 3:15-17). And in the objective of acquiring wisdom, it ought to be noted that "inspiration" -- or the "Holy Spirit" -- have never sufficed, nor will ever suffice, as a replacement for... simple wisdom. The most that "inspiration" or the "Holy Spirit" can do is direct the hearer to the words of wisdom found in God's revealed words. And it is the simple word, not some mysterious and unknowable "inspiration", that guides one to life!

Pro 1:3


DISCIPLINED: "Muwcar" again: cp v 2n.

PRUDENT LIFE: "The term 'sakal'... describing the results of a self-disciplined life... to be prudent, circumspect... to give attention to, consider, ponder; have insight, understanding (BDB). It is a synonym of 'chokmah'/wisdom (cp v 2n), but while 'chokmah' focuses on living skillfully, 'sakal' focuses on acting prudently. The word can also focus on the results of acting prudently: to have success (eg, Isa 52:12). Elsewhere, the term describes the prudent actions of Abigail in contrast to her foolish husband Nabal (1Sa 25)" (NETn).

DOING WHAT IS RIGHT: Heb "zedek" describes conduct that conforms to a standard. Elsewhere it is used in a concrete sense to refer to commercial weights and measures that conform to a standard (Deu 25:15). In the moral realm it refers to "righteous" conduct that conforms to God's law.

AND JUST: The noun "mishpat" signifies "justice, judgment", and refers to the ability to make a decision that is just (eg, Deu 16:18; 1Ki 3:28).

A man of "justice" is not moved by emotions, friendships, or compensation to compromise. He will not distort truth or slant matters in any direction. He is meticulously fair in distributing both rewards and punishments. He is equally as tough on his own family and friends as he would be on his enemies; he is "without partiality" (1Ti 5:21).

AND FAIR: Heb "yashar" has the basic idea of being "upright, straight, right." It refers to activity that is morally upright and straight, that is, on the proper moral path. Elsewhere it is used in a concrete sense to describe cows walking straight down a path without turning right or left (1Sa 6:12). Wisdom literature often uses the straight path to describe a morally "straight" life.

Jesus of Nazareth had these four traits in infinite abundance (Isa 11:4; Luke 2:52; Col 2:3)! His own enemies said, "Never man spake like this man" (John 7:46). And when he was on trial for his life before combined religious and political enemies, they could not produce a single fault in his very public life (Mar 14:55-59). Today he reigns at the pinnacle of power of the universe (Psa 45:6,7), and as the "Faithful and True" One he does so in perfect righteousness (Rev 19:11).

Pro 1:4

FOR GIVING PRUDENCE TO THE SIMPLE: "Prudence", or "subtilty" (KJV), is intelligence -- not naivete but shrewd discernment or discrimination (1Th 5:21). This word refers to a shrewd plan of action, viewed positively or negatively. It is used negatively of planned deception (Jos 9:4) and premeditated murder (Exo 21:14). The related adjective described the serpent as "shrewd, crafty, cunning" (Gen 3:1); it describes cunning plans (Job 5:12) and deception (Job 15:5). The related verb describes a wicked concocted plan (Psa 83:4). On the other hand, the same term is used positively of a morally prudent lifestyle (Pro 8:5,12; 15:5; 19:25). There is no virtue for simpletons to be unaware in this world; they need to be wise as serpents (Mat 10:16; cp Luk 16:8). Proverbs provide a morally shrewd plan for life. "The Hebrew means 'smoothness' or 'nakedness'; hence in its metaphorical sense it denotes the ability to slide out of danger like a snake... It is interesting to note that the serpent in Gen 3:1 is described as 'subtil', and the word is identical with that for 'naked' in Gen 2:25. The serpent's appeal found a response in the natural instinct of man" (Waddoup).

"Men of mean abilities, weak capacities, shallow understandings, incautious, credulous, and easily imposed upon... by attending to what is herein contained, may arrive to a serpentine subtlety; though they are simple and harmless as doves, may become as wise as serpents; may attain to an exquisite knowledge of divine things and know even more than the wise and sage philosophers among the Gentiles, or any of the Rabbins and masters of Israel; or any of the princes of this world, whose wisdom comes to nought" (Gill).

SIMPLE: Heb "pethiy". To be simple or open-minded is to be open and easily influenced or misled by either wisdom or folly (BDB, HAL). The simpleton is easily enticed and misled (Pro 1:32; 7:7; 9:6; 22:3; 27:12); believes everything, including bad counsel (Pro 14:15); lacks moral prudence (Pro 8:5; 19:25); needs discernment (Pro 21:11); but is nevertheless capable of learning (Pro 9:4,16).

"No less than four types of fools can be discerned in Proverbs: (1) the simple fool who is still teachable (Pro 1:4,22; 7:7,8; 21:11); (2) the hardened fool (Pro 1:7; 10:23; 12:23; 17:10; 20:3; 27:22) who is obstinate; (3) the arrogant fool, the scoffer who rejects all attempts at enlightenment (Pro 3:34; 21:24; 22:10; 29:8); and (4) the brutish fool (Pro 17:21; 26:3; 30:22; cf Psa 14:1)" (MMc).

KNOWLEDGE AND DISCRETION TO THE YOUNG: Or, putting the two nouns together, a "discerning plan" (NET). See Psa 119:9: "How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word."

DISCRETION: In modern terms, "discernment". "A father that had three sons was desirous to try their discretion [discernment], which he did by giving to each of them an apple that had some part of it rotten. The first eats up his apple, rotten and all; the second throws all his away, because some part of it was rotten; but the third picks out the rotten, and eats that which was good, so that he appeared the wisest: thus, some in these days, for want of [discernment], swallow down all that is presented, rotten and sound altogether; others throw away all truth, because everything delivered unto them is not truth, but surely they are the wisest and most discreet, that know how to try the spirits whether they be of God or not -- how to choose the good and refuse the evil" (BI).

THE YOUNG: "Young men arrive as babies. They know nothing. They eat like nursing puppies, and they need diapers to protect themselves. They take a year to walk, another to talk, and another to potty. By five they ride a bike, and by fifteen barely drive a car. They dream of marrying a supermodel, playing in the NBA, and driving a Ferrari. At twenty they are foolish, gullible, impulsive, naïve. They lack temperance (self-discipline) and experience.

"They play hard and sleep long, but they find work hard and long! When they do work hard, they don't know how to work smart. They spend money, but don't know to save it. They instantly spot attractive women, but they cannot distinguish character. They can marry a wife, but don't know how to lead one. They can father a child, but don't have a clue about training one. They can make money, but they don't know how to invest it.

"What happens to these foolish and ignorant young men? Adultery, bankruptcy, crime, debt, depression, disease, divorce, drugs, drunkenness, fighting, jail, painful marriages, pornography, poverty, unemployment, vain business ventures, and premature death! All which can be avoided by learning and practicing Solomon's wonderful proverbs" (LGBT).

Pro 1:5

V 5 is a parenthesis, amplifying vv 3,4.

LET THE WISE LISTEN AND ADD TO THEIR LEARNING: Solomon wrote proverbs for the young and simple; but he also wrote them for the old and wise and discerning -- who should be always learning more of God's wisdom! "This book will not only make the foolish and bad wise and good, but the wise and good wiser and better" (Henry). And so the wise man knows that, in this life, he never truly "attains" to perfect wisdom, but is ever striving toward that goal (cp Phi 3:12).

Wisdom is acquired by the ears, not the mouth! You have two ears, but one mouth. You should be swift to hear and slow to speak (Jam 1:19). However, foolish man would rather speak, for he wants to show others his wisdom. But a wise man will close his mouth and open his ears, so that he might hear the instruction of his teachers and obtain knowledge.

Listening is hard for the young and simple, because they are foolish and impatient. Children are self-deceived to think they know more than parents. Without experience or understanding, they want to teach their elders. But older men also have a problem with listening, for they think too highly of their experience. It takes only a quick look at this book of Proverbs, or a small dose of the problems among men, to reveal their ignorance.

Ct Mat 13:13-15; Act 28:27.

AND LET THE DISCERNING GET GUIDANCE: Literally, "arts of seamanship". Related to the Heb words for "sailor" and "rope, or cord" -- used in adjusting the masts of a ship. The ability to steer a right course through life.

The blessed God inspired the Bible, which is full of wisdom for life and eternity. And He also sent parents and preachers and mentors to teach the Bible to willing hearers (Deu 6:4-9; Eph 6:4; Mal 2:7; Eph 4:11-14). Your part is left! Will you listen like Israel to Ezra, Cornelius to Peter, the noble Bereans to Paul, and Apollos to Aquila and Priscilla (Neh 8:1-12; Acts 10:33; 17:11; 18:24-26)? It is your choice!

Pro 1:6


AND PARABLES: Heb "meliytsah" means "allusive expression; enigma" in general, and "proverb, parable" in particular (BDB, HAL). The related noun means 'interpreter" (Gen 42:23). The related Arabic root means "to turn aside", so this Hebrew term might refer to a saying that has a "hidden meaning" to its words. "Verse 6 completes the statement of the book's aims, leading to its 'motto' [v 7]: that those who are instructed may understand a proverb when they hear one. By understanding these proverbs, the wise will be helped to understand all proverbs, of whatever type or degree. The word 'interpretation' in the AV ['parables': NIV] is misleading; it should be read rather as in the RV: 'to understand a proverb and a figure'. It occurs but once more, in Hab 2:6, where it is a 'taunting proverb', or a riddle which has to be thought out. The parallel part of this verse makes it clear: to understand 'the words of the wise and their dark sayings' " (Waddoup).

RIDDLES: "Dark sayings" (KJV), mysterious, unknowable (cp Pro 25:2). Literally "knots". Cp some of Paul's words -- "hard to understand" (2Pe 3:16), and Heb 5:14 (strong meat, in ct "milk"). The Hebrew means, literally, "to tie in knots", and may refer to enigmatic sayings whose meaning is obscure or hidden, such as Samson's riddle (Jdg 14:12,19; cp also Num 12:8) -- or to an allegory (Eze 17:2), a perplexing moral problem (Psa 49:4; 78:2), a perplexing question (1Ki 10:1 = 2Ch 9:1) or ambiguous words of intrigue (Dan 8:23).

"Dark sayings mean properly enigmas or riddles. These were used of old as one of the methods of conveying instruction. It was conceived that by giving exercise to the understanding in finding out the solution of the enigma, it was calculated to deepen on the mind the impression of the lesson which was wrapt up in it. This was not done for mere amusement, but for imparting serious instruction; although, to the young, there might in some instances be the blending of an intellectual attainment with the conveyance of useful information, or salutary counsel" (BI).

Pro 1:7

THE FEAR OF THE LORD IS THE BEGINNING OF KNOWLEDGE: Here, after the extended introduction, the book proper actually begins! This verse, which is repeated again at the end of this introductory section (Pro 9:10), gives the heart of all the teaching -- the great dividing line, the glorious threshold of wisdom: "the fear of the LORD"!

" 'There is not' -- as Patrick observes -- 'such a wise instruction to be found in all [the books of the heathen], as the very first of all in Solomon's, which he lays as the ground of all wisdom' " (Bridges).

"Thus in Proverbs the underlying basis of life is one's relationship to God. Out of that relationship grow moral understanding and the ability to judge what is right (Pro Pro 2:6–22), a proper attitude toward material possessions (Pro 3:9–10), industrious labor (Pro 6:6–11), the necessary equilibrium and sense of security for living in the world (Pro 3:21–26), and the right relationship toward one's neighbor (Pro 3:27–29) to mention only a few of the more practical benefits of that relationship" (Bullock, "Introduction to Old Testament Poetic Books, 148").

THE FEAR OF THE LORD: A recognition of the reality and authority of God: Pro 1:7,29; 2:5; 3:7; 8:13; 9:10; 10:27; 14:2,26,27; 15:16,33; 16:6; 19:23; 22:4; 23:17; 24:21; 31:30. Cp Job 28:28; Psa 111:10; Ecc 12:13.

FEAR: " 'Yara' is the common word for fear in the OT and has a basic two-fold range of meanings: (1) 'dread; terror' (Deu 1:29; Jon 1:10), (2) 'to stand in awe' (1Ki 3:28), (3) 'to revere; to respect' (Lev 19:3). With the LORD as the object, it captures the polar opposites of shrinking back in fear and drawing close in awe and adoration. Both categories of meaning appear in Exo 20:20 (where the LORD descended upon Sinai amidst geophysical convulsions); Moses encouraged the Israelites to not be afraid of God arbitrarily striking them dead for no reason ('Do not fear!') but informed the people that the LORD revealed himself in such a terrifying manner to scare them from sinning ('God has come only to test you and to put the fear of him in you so that you do not sin'). The fear of the LORD is expressed in reverential submission to his will -- the characteristic of true worship. The fear of the LORD is the foundation for wisdom (Pro 9:10) and the discipline leading to wisdom (Pro 15:33). It is expressed in hatred of evil (Pro 8:13) and avoidance of sin (Pro 16:6), and so results in prolonged life (Pro 10:27; 19:23)" (NETn).

BEGINNING: "Reshith" has a two-fold range of meaning (BDB): (1) "beginning" = first step in a course of action (eg, Psa 111:10; Pro 17:14; Mic 1:13) or (2) "chief thing" as the principal aspect of something (eg, Pro 4:7). So fearing the LORD is either (1) the first step in acquiring moral knowledge or (2) the most important aspect of moral knowledge. The first option seems preferable because vv 2–6 focus on the acquisition of wisdom. However, Constable -- favoring the second definition -- says, "The fear of the Lord is the controlling principle, the foundation, on which one must build a life of wisdom. 'Knowledge' is a relationship that depends on revelation and is inseparable from character. Even though many unbelievers have acquired much information without the fear of God, true knowledge rests on a relationship to God that revelation supports. We can learn the really important lessons in life only this way."

Waddoup writes: " 'Beginning' here is 'reshith' -- the sw as in Gen 1:1: 'In the beginning God created...' It refers to foundations, to the groundwork rather than to the time of commencement. But in Pro 9:10 -- where, once again, 'The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom', 'beginning' is a different word ('techillah'), which does mean 'commencement'. So the fear of the LORD is to be considered not only as the commencement but also as the very basis of wisdom. How comprehensive, then, is this 'fear'! Furthermore, Ecc 12:13 makes the fear of the LORD the 'conclusion of the whole matter': 'Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.' This 'fear', then, is the Alpha and Omega of our existence! By the 'fear of the LORD', more than reverence to the Creator is meant; rather, it is a worshipful submission to His Will in love, because we know Him and trust Him. Therefore it is our duty to obtain wisdom so that it will affect our living -- and our loving."

BUT FOOLS DESPISE WISDOM AND DISCIPLINE: Heb "eviyl" refers to a person characterized by moral folly (BDB). Fools lack understanding (Pro 10:21), do not store up knowledge (Pro 10:14), fail to attain wisdom (Pro 24:7), and refuse correction (Pro 15:5; 27:22). They are arrogant (Pro 26:5), talk loosely (Pro 14:3) and are contentious (Pro 20:3). They might have mental intelligence but they are morally foolish. In sum, they are stubborn and "thick-brained" (Greenstone, cited NETn).

DESPISE: "Buwz" means to treat things of value with contempt, as if they were worthless (BDB). The classic example is Esau who despised his birthright and sold it for lentil stew (Gen 25:34).

Pro 1:8

LISTEN, MY SON: This form of address was in common use by teachers towards their pupils (Pro 1:10,15; 2:1; 3:1,21; 4:10,20; 5:1; 6:1,20; 7:1; cp Jdg 17:10; Isa 10:12; 2Ki 2:21; and in the NT: 1Co 4:15; Phm 1:10; 1Jo 2:1; 5:2). "Children of God": Rom 8; 1Jo 3. "It is likely that collections of proverbs grew up in the royal courts and were designed for the training of the youthful prince. But once the collection was included in the canon, the term 'son' would be expanded to mean a disciple, for all the people were to learn wisdom when young. It would not be limited to sons alone but would include daughters -- as the expression 'the children of ('benim') Israel' (including males and females) clearly shows. Several passages in the Mishnah and Talmud record instructions to teach daughters the Mosaic law so that they will be righteous and avoid sin as well" (NETn).

TO YOUR FATHER'S INSTRUCTION: Cp "Father's name" in Rev 14:1.

INSTRUCTION: Heb "muwcar": training or discipline (v 2n).


"This presupposes that the paternal instruction is wise, and that the mother's law is according to the truth. It is unfortunately the case, in the present evil age, that fathers and mothers do not always afford to their offspring a guidance that is wholesome to follow. In a sense not very important, it is doubtless safe as a general rule for children to follow the counsel of their parents, who by experience know the workings and issues of things better than children can. But in the higher sense, it rarely happens that this proverb can be applied to one's immediate family circle. What is to be done? The remedy is obvious. Solomon, in these spirit-dictated maxims, stands will in the place of a wise father and mother, and therefore supplies any natural lack there may be. Let children young and old adhere to the instruction afforded by the law laid down in these proverbs, and they will, at the last, experience the sweetness of wisdom and the profitableness incalculable of walking in her ways" (RR).

In some parts of the ancient world the mother shared the duty of instructing the son with the father (cf Pro 4:3; 6:20; 31:1,26). Here the father and mother are placed on exactly the same footing as teachers of their children -- suggesting a domestic situation in which the father and mother together shared the responsibility for the education of the child.

Pro 1:9

THEY WILL BE A GARLAND TO GRACE YOUR HEAD: Deu 6:8, a loving reminder.

AND A CHAIN TO ADORN YOUR NECK: The "neck" symbolizes the will, either stiff and stubborn, or bent to God's law (Exo 32:9: Isa 3:16). The gold chain around the neck was a mark of distinction, and was conferred on Joseph by Pharaoh when investing him with authority and dignity (Gen 41:42), and on Daniel by Belshazzar in the same way (Dan 5:29; cp Jdg 8:26; Song 4:9).

"True, true. Men can see the excellence of wisdom, even now. Universal experience endorses the declaration of Eccl 2:13, 'Wisdom excelleth folly, as far as light excelleth darkness.' What is unlovely, what is hideous in human character, what is destructive of human well-being, like the things condemned by wisdom? When does human nature appear at its best. but when wisdom reigns in the human heart, shaping its utterances and guiding its ways? It is one of the numberless proofs of the divinity of the Bible that a man, entirely subject to its precepts, would be the loveliest specimen of manhood upon earth: a fearer of God. a lover of man, a speaker of truth, a doer of justice, a performer of kindness, a hater of evil, yet free of resentments, a forgiver of injury, a sufferer of evil, a rewarder of good, a sympathiser with sorrow, a man of patience, wise in counsel, magnanimous in view, prompt in action, industrious in life, hearty in action, true in friendship, consistent in life, persevering in goodness, noble in everything" (RR).

Pro 1:10

Vv 10-19: A strong exhortation and warning to keep completely separate from sinners -- not to be drawn into any company that is not godly. "He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed" (Pro 13:20).

MY SON, IF SINNERS ENTICE YOU: Surely it is worth noting here that the writers of these Proverbs does not envision some personal, supernatural, fallen-angel "devil" enticing his son to sin... but rather, quite simply, other men who are themselves sinners. There is no other external source of temptation.

And HOW do these men entice? By the smoothest of words. "[The sinners] represent [their sin] as a light and trivial matter, and at the worst as venial and pardonable. 'What is it,' they will probably say, 'but a human weakness and infirmity, to which all men are subject? Can it be criminal to follow the dictates of one's natural passions? You can be no worse than thousands who indulge in the same excesses.' They will give soft names to the greatest abominations in order to prevent alarm. In this way the understanding is imposed upon and the conscience is silenced. When vice is painted in all its black colours we are apt to be alarmed at the commission of it, but when it is stripped of its deformity we become more reconciled to it, and more readily yield. But can that be a light matter which is treason against the Almighty and which has subjected us to death? Perhaps we are more in danger from smaller than greater transgressions, because they steal upon us more imperceptibly, and draw us insensibly into the commission of them" (BI).

Or, as RR puts it, "Few men are in danger of consenting to open glaring sin: it is the things that lead to sin that have to be guarded against. It is the small beginnings that are dangerous. The safe rule is to make no compromise with sin. Say to sinners, especially when they profess to be saints (it is then they are most formidable): 'I am obliged to say "No". You must go without me.' The momentary embarrassment of having to refuse, will be rewarded a thousand times over by the sweetness of finding yourself on the safe road that leads to life, when the enticing sinners are plunged headlong in a path of destruction, whose insidious beginnings they were not able to discern."

MY SON, IF SINNERS ENTICE YOU, DO NOT GIVE IN TO THEM: Righteousness is character that resists the attraction of sin. No matter how desirable an evil person or thing might be, righteousness will not give in; it will hold its principles regardless.

Sinners are not content sinning and enduring punishment by themselves; they want to include others in their wickedness. Bringing the innocent into their sinful activities and friendship helps justify their evil minds.

The context describes a group of cutthroats luring an innocent young man into their gang (Pro 1:11-14). They offer him friendship, unity, success, and riches. The writer warns his son to stay away from them, for they are wicked and headed for destruction (Pro 1:15-19).

Strong men will not agree with sinners for any reason! They are committed to what is right, and the folly of fools angers them. They hate the wicked (Psa 101:3; 139:21-22)!

How do sinners entice -- seduce, attract, or lure -- saints? There are several ways, and they provide wonderful lessons for increasing in wisdom and understanding:

(1) First, there is family. And woe to those who exalt family over Scripture, for they will compromise righteousness to save it. What a cheap sell-out! For family? A dinner table with sinners and saints confused? So Jesus taught his disciples to hate family in comparison to him (Luk 14:26). His teaching divides families to test our love of Him (Mat 10:34-37). If we will not forsake family for Jesus Christ and the truth, we are not worthy of him. Because Eli chose his sons, God punished him (1Sa 3:13).

(2) Second, there is fear of man. If we worry about what others think or do, we entrap ourselves (Pro 29:25). We will compromise Scripture to keep them happy. We call it peer pressure when it involves children; but we say little, when it involves adults. What a disgusting fear! Why not say, "I will not fear what man shall do unto me" (Heb 13:6)? Peter, noble and brave in his intentions, compromised horribly before mere maids! And Pilate, warned by his wife and convicted himself, could not bring himself to release Jesus before the Jews!

(3) Third, there is association. Some are so desperate for society, they will do anything to keep their standing. Our proverb's "Come along with us" (v 11) is precious to them. Standing alone overwhelms these weaklings. They need acceptance and support to survive. Believers among the Jews would not confess Jesus for fear of losing synagogue membership (John 12:42). God condemns this compromising association with sinners (Isa 8:9; 2Ch 19:1,2)! He is looking for men who will stand against the crowd like Joshua and Caleb!

(4) Fourth, suggested or offered success is enticing. The young man was told he could fill his house with treasure, if he were to join the gang (Pro 1:13). How many men have sacrificed their convictions to get ahead in their profession? What a revolting trade! It took only thirty pieces of silver to buy the soul of Judas and sell the Lord Jesus. It took only a little silver and two changes of clothes to buy the soul of Gehazi. How cheap!

The world's enticements can be reduced to three kinds of sin -- the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (1Jo 2:15-17). The serpent used these three enticements on Eve, and they worked (Gen 3:6); the tempter tried them on our Lord, but he resisted them. Are you able to identify these offerings by sinners and detect your weakness for them?

Are you settled on the rock of God's Word? Will you remain there regardless of who might entice you or what might be offered? Do you know your own self and your own weaknesses? Examine yourself, and remove any temptations far away!

Wisdom demands you end unnecessary and/or tempting relationships with sinners (Pro 1:15; cp Pro 13:20)! The psalmist's conviction to live a righteous life included cutting off any sinner among his acquaintances, even if it included family members (Psa 101:4-8). Are you ready and willing to stand alone against all the enticements of the wicked?

SINNERS: The term "chatta" is the common word for "sinner" in the OT. Because the related verb is used once of sling-shot throwers who miss the mark (Jdg 20:16), the idea of sin is often explained as "missing the moral mark" (BDB). But the term should not be restricted to the idea of a sin of ignorance or simply falling short of the moral ideal. Its meaning is more likely seen in the related Akkadian term "to revolt, rebel". It is active rebellion against authority. It is used here in reference to a gang of robbers.

DO NOT GIVE IN TO THEM: Even more-or-less passive consent is itself a sin (cp Jam 1:13-15). In fact, the consent itself -- even before the action is undertaken -- may be considered the sin! "Eve consented before she plucked the fruit (Gen 3:6); David, before he committed the act of sin (2Sa 11:2-4). Conversely Joseph resisted because he consented not. See also Micaiah's firmness (1Ki 22:13,14)" (CPro). Therefore, "Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them" (Eph 5:11) -- ie, shine a light into the dark corners where sin festers, and show it (to yourself as well as others) for the ugly abomination that it is!

Pro 1:11

"Verses 11-14 move from the general to the specific. In verse 10 the child was urged to reject the enticement of the wicked. Now the father forewarns his son in a much more specific way by supplying him with the substance of the appeal. The words 'Come with us...' in verses 11ff are spoken by the father, but they are the essence of the appeals which will shortly face the young lad who must cope with peer pressures. This wise father knows what his son will soon face and his words are prophetic" (Deff).

IF THEY SAY, "COME ALONG WITH US": People will do things as a part of a group that they would not consider doing as individuals. Mass demonstrations and riots are examples of how group pressure can be used to promote what is evil.

LET'S LIE IN WAIT FOR SOMEONE'S BLOOD: The verb "arav" ("to lie in wait; to lurk") it is used for planning murder (Deu 19:11), kidnapping (Jdg 21:20), or seduction (Pro 23:28). The old expositor Plumptre writes: "The temptation against which the teacher seeks to guard his disciple is that of joining a band of highway robbers. At no period in its history has Palestine ever risen to the security of a well-ordered police system, and the wild license of the marauder's life attracted, we may well believe, many who were brought up in towns. The 'vain men' who gathered round Jephthah (Jdg 11:3), the lawless or discontented who came to David in Adullam (1Sa 22:2), the bands of robbers who infested every part of the country in the period of the NT, and against whom every Roman governor had to wage incessant war, show how deeply rooted the evil was there. The story of [the Apostle] John and the young convert who became a robber [whom the Apostle then redeemed, again, out of his life of crime], the most interesting of all apostolic traditions, may serve as another illustration. The history of many centuries (our own, eg, in the popular traditions of Robin Hood), presents like phenomena. The robber-life has attractions for the open-hearted and adventurous. No generation, perhaps no class, can afford to despise the warning against it." Even in the firmly-governed Palestine of Christ's day, such robbers were common enough that he based the parable of the Good Samaritan on them (Luk 10:25-37).

HARMLESS: Or "innocent", singular: the innocent ONE -- as Christ: Mat 26:3,4; Joh 15:25. Cp Abel in Gen 4:8,15.

Pro 1:12

LET'S SWALLOW THEM ALIVE: As Korah and his company went down into the "pit": Num 16:30. "Our gang is so numerous that we can very easily dispatch [the innocent person] and all his attendants, and bury them out of sight at once, as if they were swallowed up alive in a grave, and so no more to be seen or heard of; and consequently we shall be in the utmost safety and security, there being no traces of what is done, nor any left to [know] of it, or to give any information of us, or to pursue us" (Gill).

LIKE THE GRAVE: The Hebrew "Sheol" is personified as having an insatiable appetite and swallowing people alive as they descend to their death (eg, Pro 27:20; 30:15,16; Num 16:30,33; Isa 5:14; Hab 2:5). And so the throat of the wicked is characterized as an open sepulchre: Psa 5:9; Rom 3:13.

AND WHOLE, LIKE THOSE WHO GO DOWN TO THE PIT: The "whole" here is "tamim" -- entire, perfect, full. It suggests that their victims will be young people, destroyed in the wholeness of their young and vigorous lives.

Pro 1:13

Vv 13,14: Sinners entice the young by promising material gain. Prosperity is never considered evil in Proverbs, unless it has been gained by sinful means (Pro 10:2; 13:11; 19:22; 28:6). Godliness and wisdom are often followed by prosperity (Pro 3:9-10,16). But the gain that is offered by the wicked is the result of violence. It is not by diligence and hard work that the wicked become prosperous, but by robbery (vv 11,12).

WE WILL GET ALL SORTS OF VALUABLE THINGS AND FILL OUR HOUSES WITH PLUNDER: Note the wealth of "Babylon" -- the great Predator -- in Rev 18:9-16. Instead of "get", the Hebrew word is more precisely "find"; this is a rhetorical understatement, as though to underplay the heinous nature of the thievery: 'Look what we FOUND!'

VALUABLE THINGS: "Precious things" in Proverbs: Pro 3:15; 6:26; 12:27; 20:15; 24:4.

"A large part of wisdom is rejecting ungodly friends. It is a common warning of Scripture (Exo 23:2; Psa 1:1; 26:4,5; 101:1-8; 1Co 15:33; 2Co 6:14-17; Jam 4:4). But Solomon emphasized it for the safety of his son (Pro 1:15; 4:14,15; 9:6; 13:20; 14:7; 19:27). And all good parents will keep their children from the ungodly influences of evil friends.

"Every sin offers a desirable motive, short-term pleasure, or promise of success; or men would not sin. Eve thought she could become like God, if she ate the forbidden fruit. Samson thought Delilah would make him happy. Ananias and Sapphira thought they could keep some of the money and still be important in the church. Sin is a deceitful lie!" (LGBT).

Pro 1:14

THROW IN YOUR LOT WITH US: This is a figurative expression urging the naïve to join their life of crime and divide their loot equally. The noun "lot" can refer to (1) a lot thrown for decision-making processes, e, choosing the scapegoat (Lev 16:8), discovering a guilty party (Jon 1:7) or allocating property (Jos 18:6); (2) the allotted portion of property itself (Jos 15:1) and (3) an allotted fate or future destiny (Pro 1:14; Dan 12:13; see BDB). Here the criminals urged the lad to share their life of crime -- to take his chances, as it were, with them.

There may also be a reference to the common custom of adventurers, freebooters, and thieves resorting to the lot or other game of chance to divide up their ill-gotten spoils -- a custom most famously seen in the dividing of Christ's possessions by the Roman soldiers (Psa 22:18; Mat 27:35; Mar 15:24; Luk 23:34; Joh 19:23,24). This leads to the next thought: that those who steal from others are, in a sense, crucifying their Lord afresh, and submitting him to further shame.

AND WE WILL SHARE A COMMON PURSE: 'Everything we get, we will share equally with you!' But they forget, or they never understand, that the "wages" they will ultimately share, altogether and alike, is... "death" (Rom 6:23).

Jesus and his disciples "shared a common purse" also, but it was to a far different purpose -- and the only one who seems to have been particularly concerned with that purse met a terrible end (Joh 12:6; 13:29)! And Jesus counseled his disciples not to be concerned with a full purse when they went out on their missions (Luk 10:4; 12:33; 22:35)!

Some men with weak character cannot resist the invitations and pressure of the wicked to join the Jehoshaphat was such a man. A grandson of David and king of Judah, he could not resist the invitations of Ahab, king of Israel, at joint projects and family intermarriage (2Ch 18:1-3). But the LORD's judgment was: ""Should you help the wicked and love [or 'make alliances with'] those who hate the LORD? Because of this, the wrath of the LORD is upon you" (2Ch 19:2).

Pro 1:15

MY SON, DO NOT GO ALONG WITH THEM, DO NOT SET FOOT ON THEIR PATHS: More literally, the AV has: "My son, walk not thou in the way with them; refrain thy foot from their path." There is a useful distinction between a "way" and a "path": the first is a public road, where everyone can see us, while the latter means a small unfrequented byway, off the beaten track, away from observation -- and therefore more dangerous (The same distinction is to be found in Psa 25:4: "Show me thy ways, O Lord; teach me thy paths.") But be it broad way or narrow, it goes downhill, and before you know it you are moving fast, and it's easier to go downhill than to climb back!

MY SON, DO NOT GO ALONG WITH THEM: Directly counseling against the words of the wicked in v 11: "Come along with us". "Walk not", as Psa 1. "Bad company corrupts good character" (1Co 15:33). For it is the "broad way that leads to destruction" (Mat 7:13), and "friendship with the world is enmity with God" (Jam 4:4; 1Jo 2:15-17). Instead, be separate (2Co 6:17).

DO NOT SET FOOT ON THEIR PATHS: A familiar figure of speech: the "foot" stands for the whole of the body, and the whole of the life, of its owner.

"It is often inconvenient, but always wholesome, to refuse partnership of companionship with evil men. It takes a little courage -- sometimes much courage -- to refuse; but the courage is well repaid by the sweetness and safety that come of it. It is often difficult, in the complicated ways of modern life, to know just where to draw the line; but, as a rule, a just man will instinctively put his foot down at the right place, refusing companionship in the voluntary occupation of mere pleasure-followers, and standing off from the ways and customs that are dear to sinners. Where there is doubt it is better to be on the safe side. No evil can come from abstaining from the very appearance of evil; while, on the other hand, you can never be sure you are safe when consorting with ungodly men, especially in ungodly ways. As Jesus expresses it: 'it is better to enter life halt or maimed, than having preserved all to be devoured at the last' " (RR).

Pro 1:16

Some mss (and the LXX) delete this entire verse, but it does fit the context perfectly.

FOR THEIR FEET RUSH INTO SIN, THEY ARE SWIFT TO SHED BLOOD: Ct Eph 6:5; Isa 59:7. Feet represent purpose, or daily life: Eze 1:7; Heb 12:13.

RUSH... SWIFT: Ct Abraham, who hastened and ran to do good (Gen 18:6,7).

"The way of sin is downhill; men not only cannot stop themselves, but, the longer they continue in it, the faster they run, and make haste in it, as if they were afraid they should not do mischief enough and were resolved to lose no time" (Henry). "These are violent men, who are not only hasten to shed blood, but are prone to do so. I know many of you will find this hard to believe, but the three months I spent teaching in a state prison convinced me that there are some who would stab you for the sheer enjoyment of watching you bleed to death. Such men must be avoided" (Deff).

Pro 1:17

HOW USELESS TO SPREAD A NET IN FULL VIEW OF ALL THE BIRDS!: Probably, this means it is futile to set a trap in full view of the ones to be trapped -- for they will then know and avoid all entanglement. If this is the sense, then the point seems to be: God Himself sees the trap being set by wicked men, and He will act in His own time and methods to see that the "trap" will not have its desired effect, but will actually entrap those who set it (v 18)!

Another possible interpretation of v 17 is succinctly expressed in EBC: "...a contrast between the natural behavior of birds when forewarned and the irrational greed of robbers. In other words, it is futile to spread out a net for birds that are watching, but these men are so blinded by evil that they fail to recognize the trap (v 18). The blind folly of greed leads to their doom -- retribution is the law that will take away their lives."

Finally, yet one more possibility might be considered: "The meaning of the proverb here used then is, 'to no purpose is the net spread before birds' -- that is, though they see the net spread before them, they nevertheless fly into it" (Pulpit). The power of this interpretation is that it echoes another proverbs: the foolish young man being caught in the trap of a wily adulteress: "like a bird darting into a snare, little knowing it will cost him his life" (Pro 7:23). So sinners, when they are plotting for others, plunge into their own destruction with their eyes open -- seeing the danger yet disregarding it. This view is supported by the LXX reading, "For not unreasonably is the net spread before birds", that is, even when they see it they still cannot help themselves -- for they fall into it nevertheless.

Pro 1:18

THESE MEN LIE IN WAIT FOR THEIR OWN BLOOD; THEY WAYLAY ONLY THEMSELVES!: The wicked are caught in their own traps: Psa 7:15; 9:15. As was Judas in Mat 27:4,5; 26:14-16; Ahab in 1Ki 21:4-24; and Haman in Est 7:9. See also Job 18:8; Hab 2:10.

"[Sinners] don't think so, and other people are liable to not think so. They see the schemes of unrighteous craft succeed, and the lurking schemers elevated on the pedestal of their success, to prosperity and sunshine, while the meek and unresisting servants of righteousness are prevailed against and trampled in the dust. This is the picture of the moment. But there is another picture, the contemplating of which will evoke the exclamation: 'Verily there is a reward for the righteous; verily, there is a God that judgeth in the earth'. [Psa 58:11] This other picture shows that the success of sinners is truly a success against themselves: 'God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil.' [Ecc 12:14] Responsible sinners will find themselves alive again at a day appointed to face the issues of their own actions in the light of the stern tribunal of divine justice, at which sinners will not be justified and righteous condemned as now" (RR).

Pro 1:19

SUCH IS THE END OF ALL WHO GO AFTER ILL-GOTTEN GAINS; IT TAKES AWAY THE LIVES OF THOSE WHO GET IT: The covetous often destroy themselves: Pro 22:24,25; 23:2. Cp 1Ti 6:9: "People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction."

Pro 1:20

Vv 20-33: The appeal of Wisdom to the sons of men to follow the ways of godliness and joy, and a solemn warning against the fatal folly of rejecting God's gracious call. We are here introduced to Proverb's personification of wisdom; call her "Lady Wisdom", replete with understanding, discretion, and knowledge. While Solomon warns against the strange woman (Pro 7:5-27; 9:13-18) -- "Folly" personified, and she is certainly no "lady"! -- he also tells of this wonderful "Lady Wisdom", with her bounty of great benefits for men (Pro 1:20-33; 2:4; 3:13-18; 4:5-13; 7:1-4; 8:1-36; 9:1-5).

Vv 20,21: Wisdom makes her appeal: Pro 8:1; 9:3; etc (cp Isa 55:1; Joh 7:37; Jer 5:1; Isa 20:2).

WISDOM: The noun "chokmoth" is the abstract feminine plural form. It probably functions as a plural of intensity, stressing the all-embracing, elevated wisdom. As in Pro 8:1–9:11, Wisdom is personified as a righteous woman in Pro 1:20–33. This wisdom is embodied in Christ: cp Luk 11:49 with Mat 13:34; 1Co 1:24,30; Col 2:3.

WISDOM CALLS ALOUD IN THE STREET; SHE RAISES HER VOICE IN THE PUBLIC SQUARES: Wisdom is not just for the home (v 8), but also for the market-place -- not just for the domestic and family scene, but also for the "world" outside, for the busy city street and the place of business.

The prophets of Israel also proclaimed their messages in the busy streets and public places of the cities (Jer 5:1; Isa 20:2).

CALLS ALOUD: The verb "ranan" signifies "to cry out, give a ringing cry"; it always expresses excitement, whether of joyful praise or lamentable sorrow (BDB). Here it is an excited summons.

THE PUBLIC SQUARES: The Heb "rechob" refers to the wide plazas or broad open spaces near the gate where all the people assembled. The personification of wisdom as a woman crying out in this place would be a vivid picture of the public appeal to all who pass by.

"We very rarely have a literal shouting of words of wisdom in the streets of a city, or in the broad places of human activity, but when we remember that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, we can see a definite meaning in the saying. In ancient Israel and in the modern world the idea of God is before men all the while even though human thoughts fail to turn to Him. In our time we can hardly live for a single day without Christ being brought before our minds, and through Christ, the Father who was manifest in him. Even the daily newspaper utters the call of wisdom in spite of its low aim and its native foolishness. The date it gives is from the birth of Christ, the record of human vanity confirms the teaching of Christ, while often, especially in these latter days, there is an item of news which shouts of the purpose of God to those who can understand.

"Even apart from these matters the call of wisdom can surely be heard in the ordered wonders of the universe in which we live. Man's cheerful acceptance of the earth as his home proclaims that in his heart he recognizes that there is a Creator. Would he feel comfortable on a ship with no captain? A hundred thousand tons of metal and wood driving through unknown seas at thirty miles an hour and no one in control? How then should he feel when he realizes that he is all through life on a vessel weighing millions of tons and going through space at sixty thousand miles an hour? Of course men believe that someone is in control. The stability of the earth and its long continuance, the facts of human consciousness and human ideals, the wonders of chemistry and the wonders of life all combine to prove that there is a mind far above that of man. Human intelligence is just sufficient to contemplate these things and to make some response. Wisdom is thus calling to the sons of men in the streets, in the broad places and at the entering in of the gate" (PrPr).

"We are all ready to listen to the voices of nature -- of the mountain, the sea, the storm, the star. How few learn anything from the voices of the noisy and dusty street. [And so here, from this voice in the street, we learn...]:
(a) That this life is a scene of toil and struggle. Can it be that passing up and down these streets on your way to work you do not learn anything of the world's toil, and anxiety, and struggle?
(b) That all classes and conditions of society must commingle. We sometimes culture a wicked exclusiveness. All classes of people are compelled to meet on the street. The democratic principle of the gospel recognises the fact that we stand before God on one and the same platform.
(c) That it is a very hard thing for a man to keep his heart right... Infinite temptations spring upon us from these places of public concourse.
(d) That life is full of pretension and sham. What subterfuge, what double-dealing, what two-facedness [may we find in the streets]!
(e) That the street is a great field for Christian charity. There are hunger, and suffering, and want, and wretchedness in the country; but these evils chiefly congregate in our great cities. On every street crime prowls, and drunkenness staggers, and shame winks, and pauperism thrusts out its hand, asking for alms" (Talmage, cited in BI).

Pro 1:21

AT THE HEAD OF THE NOISY STREETS: MT reads "khomyyot", from root signifying "to murmur; to roar"; it refers to the busy, bustling place where the street branches off from the gate complex.

The LXX translates "on the tops of the walls" -- reflecting "khomot", presumably a textual error caused by the simple omission of a single letter (the yod) from "khomyyot".

IN THE GATEWAYS OF THE CITY: This phrase, parallel to the first phrase, reinforces the meaning. It also describes the same area, the area of the entrance just inside the gate complex. This is the business area In an ancient Near Eastern city; business dealings and judicial proceedings would both take place in this area. Cp Jos 20:4; 2Ki 7:1; Mat 20:3; Rth 4:1-11. The streets and the gates of the ancient city were also the place where children played (Zec 8:5)! (Cp also, generally, Deu 16:18; 2Sa 15:2; Gen 23:10-16; 34:20; 2Sa 3:27; 2Ch 18:9; Jer 17:19; Pro 31:31). Thus is reinforced the point: divine wisdom should touch all aspects of human life and activity.

Pro 1:22

HOW LONG WILL YOU SIMPLE ONES...: "Pethiyim": see v 4n: "simple".

...LOVE SIMPLE WAYS: "Pethiy" is related to the word for "simple ones".

MOCKERS: Proud, arrogant: Job 34:7; Isa 28:14. Cynical and defiant "free-thinkers" who seek to bring into disrepute the righteous and all they stand for. But God remembers this (Hos 7:2), and will bring them to judgment (Ecc 11:9).

HOW LONG WILL MOCKERS DELIGHT IN MOCKERY?: Or, literally, "mockers take pleasure in themselves". That is, desiring mockery for their own selfish indulgence.

AND FOOLS HATE KNOWLEDGE: The "fools" know knowledge for what it is, and eliberately reject it; they revel in darkness, and will not come to the light (Joh 3:19,20).

The three classes mentioned here -- simple ones, mockers, and fools -- are considered by Wiersbe (cited in Const): "To whom does Wisdom speak? To three classes of sinners: the simple ones, the scorners (scoffers, mockers, NIV), and the fools (v 22). The simple are naive people who believe anything (Pro 14:15) but examine nothing. They're gullible and easily led astray. Scorners think they know everything (Pro 21:24) and laugh at the things that are really important. While the simple one has a blank look on his face, the scorner wears a sneer. Fools are people who are ignorant of truth because they're dull and stubborn. Their problem isn't a low IQ or poor education; their problem is a lack of spiritual desire to seek and find God's wisdom. Fools enjoy their foolishness but don't know how foolish they are! The outlook of fools is purely materialistic and humanistic. They hate knowledge and have no interest in things eternal."

Pro 1:23

IF YOU HAD RESPONDED TO MY REBUKE: Literally, "if you had turned". The concept of turning is familiar to the prophets of Israel. It includes changing course, repentance, and consequent forgiveness and reinstatement into the fellowship of God (cp Jer 3:11-14; 4:1; Eze 14:6).

I WOULD HAVE POURED OUT MY HEART TO YOU AND MADE MY THOUGHTS KNOWN TO YOU: "If only..." God would have responded to the heart that sought Him out, by giving it wisdom and understanding. This verse emphasizes that it is by deliberate and willful "turning away" that the foolish mockers have denied God. Hence the exhortation in the NT: "Quench not the Spirit of God" (1Th 5:19); it is there, waiting for man to avail himself of it. But there is also the implicit warning: God will not always strive with man (Gen 6:3) -- for one day His patience will run out!

I WOULD HAVE POURED OUT MY HEART TO YOU: "Heart" is literally "ruach", or "spirit". And thus the KJV reads, "I will pour out my spirit unto you" (cp Isa 44:3; Joel 2:28; Joh 7:37; Acts 2:33). But the phrase need not mean, "I have poured out my spirit upon you" in the sense of Holy Spirit inspiration. "The term 'ruach' functions as a metonymy (= spirit) of association (= thoughts), as indicated by the parallelism with 'my words'. The noun... can have a cognitive nuance, eg, 'spirit of wisdom' (Exo 28:3; Deu 34:9). It is used metonymically for 'words' (Job 20:3) and 'mind' (Isa 40:13; Eze 11:5; 20:3; 1Ch 28:12; see BDB 925). The 'spirit of wisdom' produces skill and capacity necessary for success (Isa 11:2; John 7:37–39)" (NETn).

"This is wisdom's appeal. It is not a vain appeal... It assumes that men can turn, and in doing so, it is in harmony with what we practically find human capacity to be, apart from theories of metaphysicians. Men turn up and down, for good and evil, according to the pressure of surrounding circumstances and influences. They become educated or remain in a brutalised state according as they are compelled to submit to instruction or left to run to waste. Wisdom recognises this moral elasticity of man's situation, or implores them to turn. It presents an incentive. The spirit of wisdom -- the knowledge conveyed in wisdom's words -- will become the property of those who give heed -- a precious property -- conferring, even now, a wealth of grace and excellence and honour, and in the end, the otherwise unpurchasable glory of everlasting life" (RR).

"Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded" (Jam 4:8). "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me" (Rev 3:20). " 'Come now, let us reason together,' says the LORD. 'Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.' For the mouth of the LORD has spoken" (Isa 1:18-20).

Pro 1:24

Vv 24-28: "There is grave danger, however, in disregarding the invitation. If the call has been extended for some time -- 'How long?' (v 22; see also Isa 65:2) -- then this warning is given for a prolonged refusal. Because wisdom has been continually rejected, wisdom will laugh at the calamity of those who have rejected it. This retributive justice is expressed figuratively in vv 26,27 as wisdom's mocking at their distress. But then v 28 explains the meaning of the mocking -- wisdom will not be there to help when the fools cry out from their distress. The figure of laughing reveals the absurdity of choosing a foolish way of life and being totally unprepared for disaster" (EBC).

BUT SINCE YOU REJECTED ME WHEN I CALLED AND NO ONE GAVE HEED WHEN I STRETCHED OUT MY HAND: Did Lot's wife refuse the outstretched hand of the angel (Gen 19:26; cp Luk 17:31,32).

"A call has come. It has come authentically, and it has come in a definite and tangible form. It came to Israel by personal hands and in visible form. It has been extended to the nations of the earth by men who are now in their graves. But the message has survived them, and furthermore is intact and in the hands and languages of every nation. Bibles abound in hotel rooms around the world, and are for sale in bookstores, department stores and supermarkets.

"God's call goes out in other ways as well. The circumstances of life, either good or bad, are used by God to influence mankind. In addition to this, man's own conscience often leads him to inquire into spiritual things.

"Yet the call is refused. Men everywhere are pre-occuped with their own devices" (CPro).

Pro 1:25

AND WOULD NOT ACCEPT MY REBUKE: "The verb 'fara' means 'to let go; to let alone' (BDB 828). It can refer to unkempt hair of the head (Lev 10:6) or lack of moral restraint: 'to let things run free' (Exo 32:25; Pro 28:19). Here it means 'to avoid, neglect' the offer of wisdom (BDB 829)" (NETn). Cp idea, Luk 7:30: "But the Pharisees and experts in the law rejected God's purpose for themselves." And Act 20:27: "For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God." And Mat 23:37: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing."

Pro 1:26

I IN TURN WILL LAUGH AT YOUR DISASTER: In other words, 'I will disregard it; I will take it lightly, because it was YOUR choice!' (cp Psa 2:4; 37:13; 59:8; Deu 4:24). It is clear here that people have a choice about which way they will go. Their lives are to a large measure the result of their choices. The fool is one by his own fault, not by fate (cp vv 30,31). And so Wisdom laughs at the fool's calamity, not because she is hard-hearted and cannot sympathize with human suffering, but because it is so ludicrous for men knowingly to CHOOSE folly. The figure of laughing reveals the absurdity of choosing a foolish way of life and being totally unprepared for disaster.

LAUGH: "Laughing at the consequences of the fool's rejection of wisdom does convey hardness against the fool; it reveals the folly of rejecting wisdom (eg, Psa 2:4). It vindicates wisdom and the appropriateness of the disaster" (Kidner).

DISASTER: The term "eyd" often refers to final life-ending calamity (Pro 6:15; 24:22).

"God laughs at the judgment of the wicked (Psa 37:13). He holds the heathen in derision (Psa 59:8), and He laughed derisively when destroying His Son's enemies (Psa 2:4). It was so bad in that horrific calamity that men's hearts were failing them for fear (Luke 21:16).

"He sent Elijah to mock the prophets of Baal (1Ki 18:26-27) and Isaiah to ridicule the idiots who made graven images (Isa 44:9-20). From the lead of their Heavenly Father, the righteous laugh and rejoice at the desolation of the wicked (Psa 52:5-7; 58:5). We find the sanctified martyrs... rejoicing at God's vengeance (Rev 6:9-11; 18:20; 19:1-4)" (LGBT).

Pro 1:27

WHEN CALAMITY OVERTAKES YOU LIKE A STORM, WHEN DISASTER SWEEPS OVER YOU LIKE A WHIRLWIND: The whole of this description of utter destruction is echoed by Jesus, in few words, when he speaks of God's judgments coming upon Jerusalem and the Temple: " 'Do you see all these things?' he asked. 'I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.' " (Mat 24:2).

LIKE A STORM: The storm of destruction is vividly pictured by Jesus in his parable of the man who built his house on the sand (Mat 7:24-27).

LIKE A WHIRLWIND: Or "devastating storm" (NET). The noun "sufah" is often used in similes to describe sudden devastation (Isa 5:28; Hos 8:7; Amo 1:14). "In eastern countries, so rapid and impetuous sometimes is the whirlwind that it is in vain to think of flying; the swiftest horse or the fastest sailing ship could be of no use to carry the traveller out of danger. Torrents of burning sand roll before it, the firmament is enveloped in a thick veil, and the sun appears of the colour of blood. The Arab who conducted Mr Bruce through the frightful deserts of Senaar pointed out to him a spot among some sandy hillocks, where the ground seemed to be more elevated than the rest, where one of the largest caravans which ever came out to Egypt, to the number of several thousand camels, was covered with sand. The destruction of Sennacherib's army (2Ki 19:25) was probably (cp Isa 37:7) by the blast of the hot pestilential south wind blowing from the deserts of Libya" (Nicholls, cited in BI).

WHEN DISTRESS AND TROUBLE OVERWHELM YOU: And this too is echoed by Jesus: "For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now -- and never to be equaled again" (Mat 24:21). Thus Josephus' history, of the fall of Jerusalem, is a fitting commentary on these words.

Pro 1:28

BUT I WILL NOT ANSWER: Cp the parable of the wise and foolish virgins (Mat 25:1-12). Also see Mat 13:23-30.

THEY WILL LOOK FOR ME BUT WILL NOT FIND ME: The KJV has "seek me EARLY"; the RV and RSV have "diligently". This note of earnestness, or earliness, is suggested by the similarity of the term "sihar" (here) to the word "sahar" (the "dawn"). Cf the thoughts in such passages as Jer 44:4; Psa 130:6; and Pro 13:24. But in this case, the seeking is not early enough! Rather, it is too late!

Of course, many have looked -- and will look -- for God, who DO find Him! So how may we tell when particular men or women may go looking for God, NOT to find Him? The answer is... we cannot tell! "God's patience is in His own breast, and who can tell how long it will last?... God's patience gives no mark or inkling of it before it ends" (Fenner, cited in BI). For any person, the "day of salvation" (2Co 6:2) -- the day of opportunity to turn back to God and be saved -- may come to an end, quickly and without warning. All the more reason to repent, NOW, while one still can.

"It is possible to have too slack views of the divine clemency. Men are taught such views from the pulpit everywhere. It is a public tradition retailed in every form of ingenious diversification and worked into every shape suggested by imaginative fervour, that God's love is so great and so cheap that the vilest can command it at the latest moment of an abandoned course by a mere spasm of remorse. No greater falsehood or more irrational sentiment could be put into circulation. Apostolic doctrine is sterner and more reasonable stuff altogether. This is the tone of it: 'Be not deceived. God is not mocked. Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.' [Gal 6:7] The man who sows a lifetime to the flesh, will find himself terribly out of his calculation if he accept clerical leading in this matter. Many a man will get down on his knees at the last, and with uplifted hands, implore in vain with agonising earnestness that the award of justice may be averted. They will call loudly; but there will be no response. Their earnest appeals will find a deaf ear. this god says, and His word is truth" (RR).

"This is a sublime dramatic utterance. It is Wisdom that is represented as speaking. By wisdom among the Orientals moral philosophy was understood, or science speaking on the side of morality. Taken in its largest way it is as if nature (in the text) had risen up, and had declared from her own seat, and by her own authority, what was the history of transgression against her fundamental laws. It is the voice of physiology; it is the voice of health, it is the voice of natural law. It is the voice of the poorhouse, the gaol, the gallows, speaking out and telling men what are the ends of those ways which are essentially the violation of God's laws in nature. We see men violating the fundamental laws of health, strength, character, prosperity, and society, little by little, and because sentence is not speedily executed against evildoers, they are presumptuous, and say, 'How doth God know?' At a later stage, when the fatal work is done, and disease, decay, poverty, the coldness of men, the indifference of society, disgrace, neglect, infamy, suffering, and death come upon them, then they begin to call out in these several states, and condemn everybody but themselves. Then they seek to patch up their broken constitutions. Then they attempt to put on the aspects of honesty. Then they try to regraft themselves upon the tree from which they have been broken off, but largely in vain. They call, but nature will not hear. They plead unto deaf ears" (Beecher, cited in BI).

Pro 1:29

SINCE THEY HATED KNOWLEDGE, AND DID NOT CHOOSE TO FEAR THE LORD: This is in deliberate and direct contrast with v 7: "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge." Therefore those who hate knowledge have deliberately chosen to spurn the fear of the LORD... and all that goes with it. In this they also come under the indictment of Jesus himself; in short, they become willful rejectors: "Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed" (Joh 3:20).

"Here is a hating and not a choosing that are very common among mankind. Men mostly love that which gratifies appetite, or the lust of pride and beauty. They love 'pleasure' and they hate knowledge; and as for the fear of the Lord, it is a worse than meaningless phrase with them. It is a nauseous thing -- a weak thing -- a thing of pious cant.
Such aversions are irrational. They have their root in a dark and untrained state of mind. They are kin with barbarism. Knowledge is the highest exercise and most beautiful ornament and sweetest employment of the human mind. The fear of the Lord is its crowning glory, and its most precious acquisition. The despisers thereof will yet find their folly in the terrible desolation of a hopeless life, and in the blight and failure of all their joys. Destruction and misery are in their ways. The divine counsel rejected, will recoil with terrible retribution on the heads of the infatuated mortals who will seek in vain to be delivered from the fruit of their own ways" (RR).

Paul describes the consequences to man of the rejection of God's wisdom: "The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them... For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools... Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another... Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice... Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them" (Rom 1:18-32). Moving from rejection of the invisible God, from thanklessness to a proclamation of human wisdom, the path leads ever downward -- through idolatry, moral lust, and degeneracy, to every imaginable debauchery.

Pro 1:31

THEY WILL EAT THE FRUIT OF THEIR WAYS AND BE FILLED WITH THE FRUIT OF THEIR SCHEMES: This is a figurative expression that compares the consequences of sn to agricultural growth that culminates in a harvest. The way of sin is a punishment in itself. "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows" (Gal 6:7-9; Jer 6:19; 2Co 9:6; 2Co 2:15,16).

BE FILLED: The verb "sava" means (1) positively, "to eat one's fill" so that one's appetite is satisfied and (2) negatively, "to eat in excess" as a glutton to the point of sickness and revulsion (BDB). Fools will not only "eat" the fruit of their own way (v 31a), they will be force-fed this revolting "menu" which will make them want to vomit (v 31b) and eventually kill them (v 32).

Gill refers to a specific fulfillment of this "prophecy", in the fate of the Jews who orchestrated the murder of their Lord, Jesus Christ: "Their device and counsel was to put Christ to death; to deliver him to the Roman governor, that he might be crucified, as he was: and they afterwards had their bellyful of crucifixion, as the word used ['be filled'] signifies; such vast numbers of them were crucified by the Romans before the walls of the city, five hundred a day, and sometimes more; insomuch that room was needed for crosses, and crosses for bodies."

Pro 1:32

Vv 32,33: A contrast between the ultimate destruction of the unresponsive and the peaceful condition of the responsive.

FOR THE WAYWARDNESS OF THE SIMPLE WILL KILL THEM, AND THE COMPLACENCY OF FOOLS WILL DESTROY THEM: Ease, self-satisfaction, failure to believe God's warnings: Psa 73.

THE WAYWARDNESS: Literally, "the turning away" (AV). From the same root, and thus repeating the emphasis, of v 23: "IF you had responded", or "turned". But when they do NOT turn back, then they are sealing their own fate.

THE COMPLACENCY: "Prosperity" (AV); "careless ease" (NET). The prosperity of fools is described in Job 21:11-13; Psa 55:19; 73:3-20; Jer 12:1-3; Luk 6:24,25; 12:16; 16:19-24; Jam 5:1-5. We should always view our possessions as blessings from the LORD, and not as something we deserve. It requires wisdom to know how to live with prosperity; otherwise its misuse will ruin the one who possesses it. Examples of Israel (Deu 32:15-25; Jer 22:20-22; Hos 13:6-9; Amo 6:1-6), Babylon (Isa 47:7-9), Moab (Jer 48:11-15), Sodom (Eze 16:49), and Tyre (Eze 27:2,25-27). God may be silent for a while, and sinners foolishly think He approves of them (Psa 50:16-21). But He warns that without repentance He will judge terribly (Psa 50:21,22), and only those who live righteously and praise Him shall receive His favor (Psa 50:23). The goodness of God should lead men to repent (Rom 2:4). But they take confidence in their prosperity -- as though it were entirely their own doing -- and do not see the coming judgment (Psa 37:35-36; 92:6-7; Jer 48:11-13; Luk 12:15-21).

Pro 1:33

Psa 30:5; Psa 37; Rom 8:35-39; Mal 4:1,2.

WHOEVER LISTENS TO ME...: Learn to listen. Opportunity sometimes knocks very softly. "I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me" (Rev 3:20).

...WILL LIVE IN SAFETY AND BE AT EASE, WITHOUT FEAR OF HARM: "Safety" refers to a permanent settled condition without fear of danger (eg, Deu 33:12; Psa 16:9). It is the antithesis of the dread of disaster facing the fool and the simple. "Ease" means, here, quietness and undisturbed rest; it is doubled in the Hebrew -- thus intensifying it: "perfect quietness and rest". The expressions used suggest a permanent, settled condition free from the sense of danger or dread. Such is the contrast between the false security of the wicked and the true and lasting peace of the righteous.

"Whoever listens to ME... will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm": "The 'Me' in the case is the eternal and universe-filling 'Me' -- the Creator, the Sustainer, the Possessor of heaven and earth. Hence the strength of the proverb. Though God is 'high', He has regard for the lowly: He loves those who love Him, and who hope in His mercy and do His commandments. This He has revealed. All we have to do is to believe it. The result is safe-dwelling and freedom from fear. 'Wherefore should I fear,' asks David. 'The Lord is my defence. I will not fear what man can do unto me.' If the Lord chastise, that is another thing: this David was ready to accept, as the visitation of love. But he had no fear such as plagues the mere man of the flesh. If this is the case with the righteous while sin reigns on earth and God's face is hidden, what must it be when the wicked are rooted out of the earth, and the tabernacle of God is with men?" (RR).

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