The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Proverbs 2

Pro 2:1

Pro 2: The chapter begins with an admonition to receive wisdom (vv 1–4) and then traces the benefits: the knowledge of God and his protection (vv 5–8), moral discernment for living (vv 9–11), protection from evil men (vv 12–15) and immoral women (vv 16–19), and enablement for righteous living (vv 20–22).

MY SON: "The exhortation in the Proverbs is God speaking. Whatever proximate sonship and fatherhood there may be in the Proverbs, their ultimate origin is God, and their aim the instruction of His sons. And Proverbs, with other parts of the 'Living Oracles', must not be limited in its application to Solomon's day. 'Ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto YOU', says Paul [Heb 12:5]; it is the Father's word to you, His sons. How persuasive is God in His counsels; how endearing in His address. To each of His children He says, 'My son' " (CHeb 258,259).

IF YOU ACCEPT MY WORDS: Joh 12:47,48. "Nothing more unpalatable in the way of advice could be uttered in Gentile circles -- and there are scarcely any other than Gentile circles. But here and there, there is a responsive ear, in which the words are uttered not in vain. 'My words,' the words of God, are received and embraced, and stored deep in the inner man; and here they must remain to be effectual for their work. And here they cannot remain without steady renewal in the daily readings of the Scriptures. The human mind is very weak, especially to divine ideas. A constant supply is the cure. Nothing else will finally satisfy the taste which they generate. Nothing else will so secrete the commandments of God in the heart as that. They will be an ever-living and available power of action. But for this, a man must stoutly fight, else this wise policy will be taken out of his hands through the chronic oppositions and revolts of the Gentile mind, within and without. Having taken the right cue from the Spirit's voice, let him close his ears to the devil's din that would call him in other directions, and go straight onward to the heavenly city" (RR).

AND STORE UP MY COMMANDS WITHIN YOU: Cp Pro 7:1. The KJV has "hide", but this is a quite misleading translation; the command has nothing to do with keeping the word to oneself and refusing to share it, but much rather with one's attitude to its value. The verb "to store up; to treasure" is used in reference to things of value for future use, eg, wealth, dowry for a bride. Since proverbs will be useful throughout life and not always immediately applicable, the idea of memorizing, or storing up, the sayings is fitting. They will form the way people think, which in turn will influence their attitudes.

Once one is taught something, he must work at retaining it. Many men hear wonderful things, but they passes right through their empty minds -- in one ear and out the other! The wisdom does not find a lodging place there. We must keep in memory, that is, "treasure up" or "hide" God's word in our hearts, by reviewing it sufficiently that we retain its essence (Psa 1:2; 119:11; Luke 2:19,51). We cannot let the good things we hear slip away (Heb 2:1-3), or we lose the benefit of them (1Co 15:2).

Pro 2:2

TURNING YOUR EAR TO WISDOM AND APPLYING YOUR HEART TO UNDERSTANDING: "The Holy Spirit praised the Bereans as noble for their ready minds to receive instruction from the apostle Paul (Acts 17:11). Cornelius was totally committed to hearing anything Peter had to teach him (Acts 10:33). And Lydia gave attention to the things spoken by Paul beside a river in Philippi (Acts 16:14). Lord God, prepare more such hearts to hear!" (LGBT).

TURNING YOUR EAR TO WISDOM: Israel would not give ear to God's prophets, which led to their destruction by Babylon (2Ch 24:19; 33:10; Neh 9:29,30; Jer 13:11). The Jews stopped their ears from hearing the apostles and Stephen (Acts 5:33; 7:57), which led to their destruction by Rome. They did not want the wisdom of God in either case, so they turned away from hearing it. Many "believers" today will not hear. They want entertainment and fables, not Bible preaching. Paul warned about itching ears not enduring sound doctrine and turning away from the truth (2Ti 4:3,4). Men despise sound preaching, even though told not to (1Th 5:20).

AND APPLYING YOUR HEART TO UNDERSTANDING: What is it to apply one's heart to understanding? It is choosing to love learning and truth more than any other earthly pursuit. One's heart is the seat of one's affections, and he must set his affections on things above, on understanding and wisdom (Pro 8:17; Col 3:2). God has promised to be found by those who seek Him with their whole heart (Jer 29:13). But there is a big problem today. Because iniquity abounds, the love of many has waxed cold (Mat 24:12). Many would-be believers are double-minded -- seeking to love Christ and the world -- which is both dangerous and, ultimately, impossible (Jam 1:8). God rejects two masters (Mat 6:24) and a lukewarm approach (Rev 2:4; 3:16). He hates spiritual adultery (Jam 4:4)! And so wise men pray for God to enlarge their hearts, so they can learn and do more (Psa 119:32). They pray for Him to incline their hearts to His word and away from the world (Psa 119:36; 141:4). They delight and glory in the LORD (Psa 37:4; Jer 9:23,24), which leads them to separate from worldly distractions and pursue wisdom with great desire (Pro 18:1).

"This means making an effort. An effort is necessary. There are things that require no effort, such as breathing, seeing with the eyes, getting hungry, etc. Such things that come by effort are more precious and more enjoyable than those that come of themselves. Because of this, and the trouble necessary to get at them, the bulk of mankind, as things are now upon the earth, never attain them. The schoolboy prefers play to lessons; and would never learn if he were left to himself. Grown schoolboys are mostly the same, hence men, almost universally, die without understanding. That which is agreeable is their rule: not that which is wise. God calls upon us to act differently: to 'incline' and 'apply' our minds to the highest wisdom -- the knowledge of Himself, and His ways, and His purpose as revealed. Obedience will prove sweet in the end, and nonetheless because it has to be yielded as the cost of self-denial meanwhile" (RR).

Pro 2:3

AND IF YOU CALL OUT FOR INSIGHT AND CRY ALOUD FOR UNDERSTANDING: Wisdom is something we should ask for (Jam 1:5). "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you" (Mat 7:7). If we want more wisdom, then God promises to hear and answer our request liberally! What a precious promise! He will give it liberally and not criticize us for our importunate and frequent requests! We may covet wisdom freely! But we must ask in faith, with a single mind, or we will receive nothing from the Lord (Jam 1:6-8). For without faith it is impossible to please the Giver of wisdom (Heb 11:6). Daniel prayed for wisdom and received it liberally (Dan 2:16-19; 9:20-23; 10:10-21). Consider the psalmist's prayer for God to give him understanding in the word of God and truth (Psa 119:18; 25:4,5). Our Lord Jesus grew in wisdom before God and men (Luke 2:52), and it is certain he prayed for it.

AND IF CALL OUT FOR INSIGHT: Solomon in 1Ki 3:9-12. Cp Pro 1:2.

AND CRY ALOUD FOR UNDERSTANDING: Once "Wisdom" had to "fight" for an audience (Pro 1:20), but now, wise ones clamor for an audience with "Wisdom"!

The "cry aloud" suggests an intensification of effort: 'if Wisdom does not come at your first summons, then raise your voice to a higher pitch, and put forth greater effort.'

Pro 2:4

AND IF YOU LOOK FOR IT AS FOR SILVER AND SEARCH FOR IT AS FOR HIDDEN TREASURE: Cp Pro 3:13-15; Job 28:1-23. To seek knowledge is to seek God, who is the source of all knowledge (Mal 3:16; Jam 1:6). This verse leads us to recognize that the wisdom of the Bible is not necessarily to be found on the surface, but requires "digging". The "hiding" of Wisdom might at first glance seem counterproductive from God's point of view, but it serves an important purpose: that which requires some effort to obtain is naturally valued more.

SILVER: Solomon got silver from Arabia (2Ch 9:14) and Tarshish (2Ch 9:21).

HIDDEN TREASURE: As the treasure hidden in a field (Mat 13:44; cp Job 3:21; Isa 45:3; Jer 41:8). "There can be no doubt of the enthusiasm with which men will seek for hidden treasure. Even the most indolent of sluggards would dig his garden if he thought that bars of gold and silver were hidden under the soil. This is the manner in which we should seek for wisdom and knowledge that we may understand the fear of the LORD" (PrPr). "We must be willing to take pains; we must seek [wisdom] as silver, preferring it far before all the wealth of this world, and labouring in search of it as those who dig in the mines, who undergo great toil and run great hazards, with indefatigable industry and invincible constancy and resolution, in pursuit of the ore; or as those who will be rich rise up early, and sit up late, and turn every stone to get money and fill their treasures. Thus diligent must we be in the use of the means of knowledge, following on to know the Lord" (Henry).

"Exertion is never so energetic, perseverance never so tenacious, skill never so thorough, as when money is to be got. This is the divine measure of the industry we are called upon to exercise in the quest for the precious mental attainment variously expressed as knowledge, understanding, and wisdom. Such earnestness and activity with such an object is repugnant to modern maxims. 'Take it easy,' is the world's prescription concerning 'the one thing needful'. As to making money, there is no bound to the diligence it will allow and advise you to put forth. We have to choose between what the world advises and what God advises. We are naturally more inclined to take the world's advice because it is more pleasant. But we do not require to go far to see that what is the most pleasant is not necessarily the best, but in all probability the worst. The time will come when it will be manifest to all men that he only has acted the wise part who has made wisdom his friend at whatever labour and cost; for wisdom will crown her children for ever when sinners rot in dishonoured dust" (RR).

God's wisdom exists, and we must find it, buy it, and get it, for it is of more value than all riches (Pro 4:7; 16:16; Psa 19:10; 119:14,72,127). And Jesus tells us that God's kingdom is life's great priority (Mat 6:33), and he illustrated it by telling the parable of men selling all they had to buy a field or a great pearl (Mat 13:44-46). What have we "sold" in order to acquire God's Kingdom? Wisdom is a reward to those who ask and work for it. Our just and jealous God cannot give His riches for sporadic, lazy, and slight effort; but He will reward zealous seekers (Jer 29:13). Our Lord sought God all night upon a mountain (Luke 6:12). And while others slept in Gethsemane, he searched for the treasure of God's favor with tears and bloody sweat (Luke 22:39-46).

"If you want wisdom, you must listen to God attentively (Mat 13:9), obey Him humbly (Joh 7:17), ask Him sincerely (Jam 1:5), and seek Him diligently (Isa 55:6,7), the way a miner searches for silver and gold.

"Obtaining spiritual wisdom isn't a once-a-week hobby, it is the daily discipline of a lifetime. But in this age of microwave ovens, fast foods, digests, and numerous 'made easy' books, many people are out of the habit of daily investing time and energy in digging deep into Scripture and learning wisdom from the Lord. Thanks to television, their attention span is brief; thanks to religious entertainment that passes for worship, their spiritual appetite is feeble and spiritual knowledge isn't 'pleasant to [their] soul' (Pro 2:10). It's no wonder fewer and fewer people 'take time to be holy' and more and more people fall prey to the enemies that lurk along the way" (Wiersbe).

"It is a well-known fact that the fear of the Lord and the knowledge of God are not fruits which grow on every wayside bush, to be plucked by every idle passer-by, to be dropped carelessly and trodden under foot. Without seriousness and devotion, without protracted and unflagging toil, the things of God are not to be attained. You must be up betimes; you must be on your knees early; you must lay open the book of Wisdom, pore over its pages, and diligently turn its leaves, meditating on its sayings day and night. The kingdom of God and His righteousness must be sought, yes, and sought first, sought exclusively, as the one important object of desire. That easy indifference, that lazy optimism -- 'it will all come right in the end' -- that habit of delay in deciding, that inclination to postpone the eternal realities to vanishing shadows, will be your ruin" (EB).

Pro 2:5

THEN YOU WILL UNDERSTAND THE FEAR OF THE LORD AND FIND THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD: Cp the keynote verse, Pro 1:7. While "fear of the LORD" and "knowledge of God" are, essentially, one and the same thing, they do express different nuances. The "fear of the Lord" emphasizes awe, and the "knowledge of God" stresses intimacy.

"Then..." That is, THEN and then only! "That is, when you have applied your mind with diligence to the search. How could you expect it otherwise? Many people do. Through the demoralising influence of inherited tradition, they have a habit of assuming that knowledge is the easiest of attainments -- that, in fact, a man has only to will his consent, at a convenient moment (generally put off to the last) to find his mind aglow with divine light as by an inspiration. This is a fatal mistake. God's own question is: 'Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? Then may ye also do good that are accustomed to do evil.' The mind sets in the form of its predominant activities. It is the law of things -- the inevitable result of the principle upon which we have been made. Hence, in whatever department of knowledge a man labours, his mind opens and expends more and more in that direction. The most difficult problems at last become easy. And it is not less so in the highest of all knowledge -- the knowledge of God as revealed in Moses, the prophets and the apostles, and nowhere else" (RR).

Pro 2:6

FOR THE LORD GIVES WISDOM, AND FROM HIS MOUTH COMES KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING: God gives wisdom, through His Son (2Co 4:6; 1Jo 5:20); man does not (1Co 1:27). Human diligence is not the source of wisdom. Though men seeking wisdom should apply themselves energetically to its pursuit (Pro 2:4; 2Ti 2:15), unless God blesses the effort, it will be in vain (Psa 127:1,2; Ecc 8:17). While reading and studying, a man of God must ask the LORD to guide and prosper his way (Psa 119:18; Mat 13:17). The Pharisees and scribes knew the Scriptures thoroughly, but not with any understanding (Joh 7:37).

"Man comes into this world like a wild ass's colt, and he goes out the same way (Job 11:12; Ecc 3:19-21). And during his life he suffers with a deceitful and depraved heart: so bad he cannot fully grasp it (Jer 17:9,10). The most intelligent of these asses led worship of the sun, Pharaoh, totem poles, and bugs (Isa 44:9-20; Rom 1:20-23)" (LGBT).

Pro 2:7

HE HOLDS VICTORY IN STORE FOR THE UPRIGHT: The verb "tsafan" (to store up; to treasure up) is repeated from v 1. In v 1, it is the responsibility of man to "store up" wisdom; but here, it is God who "stores up" wisdom for the wise person who seeks him.

VICTORY: "Sound wisdom" (AV). "The noun 'tushiyyah' has a two-fold range of meanings: (1) 'sound wisdom; effective counsel' and (2) result (metonymy of effect): 'abiding success' (BDB 444; HAL 388). It refers to competent wisdom and its resultant ability to achieve moral success (McKane 80)" (NETn).

UPRIGHT: "Yashar" is one of the terms used for the righteous. It points to the right conduct of the believer -- that which is right or pleasing in the eyes of God. It stresses that the life of the individual is upright, straightforward, and just. It is paralleled with "those who walk is blameless".

HE IS A SHIELD TO THOSE WHOSE WALK IS BLAMELESS: "Walk" suggests a habitual manner of life.

SHIELD: Cp Eph 6:16 (the shield of faith); Psa 18:35 (shield of victory); Psa 5:12 (= God's favor); 1Pe 1:5 (= God's power); with this cp Gen 15:1 (God is Abraham's shield); Deu 33:29; Psa 3:3; 18:2; 33:20; 84:11; 89:18; 144:2.

Pro 2:8

FOR HE GUARDS THE COURSE OF THE JUST: Cp the cherubim with a flaming sword, who keeps the way to the tree of life (Gen 3:24; Eze 1:4n).

GUARDS: "The verb 'natsar' ('to guard') has a broad range of meanings: (1) to watch over, guard or protect a vineyard from theft (Pro 27:18); (2) to guard one's lips or heart from evil (Pro 4:23; 13:3); (3) to protect a person from moral or physical danger (Pro 2:8,11; 4:6; 13:6; 20:28; 22:12; 24:12); and (4) to guard with fidelity = to observe commands, law or covenant (Pro 3:1,21; 4:13; 5:2; 6:20; 28:7; see BDB 665,666). Here God guards the way of the just, that is, the course and conduct of life from the influence of evil" (NETn).

AND PROTECTS THE WAY OF HIS FAITHFUL ONES: The noun "khesed" describes those who show "covenant love" to God and His people. The description of the righteous by this term indicates their active participation in the covenant, for which God has promised His protection. God protects the way of His faithful ones by watching over their daily steps (Psa 66:9; 1Sa 2:9), and through the agency of His angels (Psa 91:11).

Pro 2:9

THEN YOU WILL UNDERSTAND WHAT IS RIGHT AND JUST AND FAIR: "The disciple will develop the intellectual capacity and moral insight to discern what is 'right' (sedeq), 'just' (mishpat), and 'fair' (mesharim) -- viz, every good path (cf Pro 1:3)" (EBC). For "right and just and fair", cp Tit 2:11,12: "self-controlled, upright and godly".

EVERY GOOD PATH: For "path" the Heb is "track." The noun "magal" is used (1) literally of a "wagon-wheel track; firm path", and (2) figuratively (as a metaphor) to describe the course of life (Psa 17:5; 23:3; 140:5; Pro 2:15,18; 4:11,26; 5:6,21; Isa 26:7; 59:8). It is related to other words for "cart" and "round" and "roll". As a wagon-wheel cuts a deep track in a much traversed dirt road, so a person falls into routines and habits that reveal his moral character. In Proverbs the "paths" of the righteous are characterized by uprightness and integrity.

Pro 2:10

FOR WISDOM WILL ENTER YOUR HEART: "Wisdom" is personified; she will take up her abode -- she will make her home -- in the inner life, the mind, the feelings and emotions, of the person. There she will exercise her quiet but persistent influence for good.

How does wisdom enter into your heart? One chooses to love it! One chooses to make it a priority for one's life by pursuing it sacrificially (Mat 6:21). Job valued God's words more important than his necessary food (Job 23:12). David counted wisdom more precious than much fine gold and more delightful than honey (Psa 19:10). David chose to set his heart on wisdom (Psa 119:97,103,111,162). And so should we choose also (Col 3:16).

AND KNOWLEDGE WILL BE PLEASANT TO YOUR SOUL: "Pleasant" is the Heb "naem", which describes what is attractive. It is used of being physically attracted to one's lover (Song 7:6) or to a close friendship (2Sa 1:26). Here wisdom becomes attractive to the righteous, that is, the righteous desires to acquire it.

Pro 2:11

DISCRETION WILL PROTECT YOU: The word "mezimmah" ("discretion") describes the ability to know the best course of action for achieving one's goal. It is knowledge and understanding with a purpose. This kind of knowledge enables one to make the right choices, that will protect him from blunders and their consequences.

"We take many precautions to protect ourselves from danger. We use seat belts, take vitamins, lock the doors at night, exercise, regulate elevators, buy medical insurance, listen to weather warnings, avoid dangerous parts of town, and so forth and so on.

"We also take efforts to protect our children. We make sure they eat three balanced meals a day, are careful on the monkey bars, don't play with knives, avoid strangers, don't ride their bikes in the street, bundle up in cold weather, and so forth and so on.

"But all these efforts are of little value and only protect the body. What are you doing for the [spiritual life]?" (LGBT).

Discretion and understanding will not only preserve your "soul"; they will also preserve your life and your assets. "Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding" (Pro 4:7). And the whole book is dedicated to the enormous value of acquiring discretion and understanding. Proverbs teaches discretion (Pro 1:4). It teaches when to speak and when not to speak (Pro 26:4,5; 15:28; 29:11), when to be angry and when not to be angry (Pro 25:23; 19:11). Discretion is the ability to guide one's affairs well (Psa 112:5). A woman without discretion is like a sow (Pro 11:22; Tit 2:3-5). The knowledge of how to plant, harvest, and process various grains is an example of discretion (Isa 28:26-29). And Joseph is an example of a man with it (Gen 41:33-40).

AND UNDERSTANDING WILL GUARD YOU: Proverbs teaches understanding (Pro 1:2). Animals do not have it (Job 39:17; Psa 32:9). Its foundation is the knowledge of the holy (Pro 9:10), and it is built by God's word (Psa 111:10; 119:98-100,104,130). It is dependent upon a man rejecting his own understanding (Pro 3:5). Adultery, listening to vain persons or chasing fantasies, and being an easy mark for unsecured loans prove a lack of understanding (Pro 6:32; 12:11; 17:18). Understanding involves ruling your spirit (Pro 14:29) and pursuing knowledge (Pro 15:14). It is a source of happiness (Pro 3:13), leads to the good life (Pro 13:15; 16:22), and causes a person to be of an excellent spirit (Pro 17:27). Daniel clearly had it (Dan 1:20; 5:11-14; 6:3-4).

"Wisdom is a safe guide even now. The man who disregards her is exposed to evils and dangers from which the child of wisdom is, by the very exercise of wisdom, 'preserved' and 'kept'. The wicked destroy themselves by their folly and live not out half their days. Life, even as it now is, is a thing of conditions. Compliance with them is a necessity. If a man allow not himself sufficient reflection to note and consider what they are, and humility enough to conform to them, he will suffer inevitably for his neglect. 'In wisdom' all things are made, and it is only by the exercise of wisdom that we can obtain the satisfaction that comes from being in harmony with them. If this is true of the life that now is, how much more is it of the life that is to come" (RR).

Pro 2:12

WISDOM WILL SAVE YOU FROM THE WAYS OF WICKED MEN: "The verb 'natsal' means 'to save; to deliver; to rescue,' as in snatching away prey from an animal, rescuing from enemies, plucking a brand from the fire, retrieving property, or the like. Here it portrays rescue from the course of action of the wicked" (NETn).

FROM MEN WHOSE WORDS ARE PERVERSE: Literally, "from men who speak perversities". The plural form "tahpukoth" may denote a plurality of number ("perverse things") or intensification: "great perversity". As here, it often refers to perverse speech (Pro 8:13; 10:31,32; 23:33). It is related to the noun "hefekh" ("that which is contrary, perverse"), which refers to what is contrary to morality (Isa 29:16; Eze 16:34; BDB 246). The related verb "hafakh" ("to turn; to overturn") is used (1) literally of turning things over, eg, tipping over a bowl (2Ki 21:13) and turning over bread-cakes (Jdg 7:13; Hos 7:8) and (2) figuratively of perverting things so that they are morally upside down, so to speak (Jer 23:36). (Thus their words are, literally, subversive!) These people speak what is contrary to morality, wisdom, sense, logic or the truth.

"The understanding of chemistry or astronomy will not do this, but the understanding of wisdom will. The wisdom teaches a man to fear God, to have great respect to His commandments, and strong faith in His promises of good to come. This wisdom is not destitute of philosophy, in the sense of perceiving the inherent fitness of things; but its power lies more in conviction towards God than in discernment of moral beauty in the abstract. And its power manifests itself in decisive separation from the evil man -- the man whose characteristic is found in his tongue as much as in any part of his ungodly portraiture. He speaks 'froward things'. Of another class of man, it is said that his tongue talketh judgment: 'the law of his God is in his heart.' It is far from being so with the evil man. His tongue talketh superficiality and wickedness, and he does it in a wicked manner which is almost universal in the world. He mouths all subjects arrogantly, boastfully defiantly, flippantly, frowardly. Understanding delivers the saints of God from such 'whose end is destruction whose God is their belly, who mind earthly things' " (RR).

"David's three nephews by his sister Zeruiah served him devotedly for many years, but he wisely saw their evil hearts in their dealings with others. He drew a wise and holy difference between himself and them. He said, 'These men the sons of Zeruiah be too hard for me: the LORD shall reward the doer of evil according to his wickedness' (2Sa 3:39). And on his deathbed, he told Solomon to kill Joab, the greatest of them. As David wisely chose to keep his house free of such men (Psa 101:1-8; 119:63), so the Son of David wisely discerned what was in man and kept himself from them (John 2:23-25), rebuked them (Mat 22:15-33), and condemned them (Mat 23:13-36)" (LGBT).

Pro 2:13

WHO LEAVE THE STRAIGHT PATHS TO WALK IN DARK WAYS: The wicked abandon the clear straight path for an evil, crooked, and uncertain path.

TO WALK IN DARK WAYS: Heb "ways of darkness". Darkness is often metaphorical for sinfulness, ignorance, or oppression. Their way of life lacks spiritual illumination, and therefore is not a way of life at all, but a way of death (v 18)! Their way is uncertain, devoid of ethical illumination (see Pro 4:18 and Ecc 2:13). To walk in the ways of darkness, then, is to persist in a course of deliberate ignorance, to reject purposefully the light of knowledge, and to work wickedness, by performing "the works of darkness", which Paul exhorted the Romans to cast away (Rom 13:12), and by having fellowship with "the unfruitful works of darkness", against which he warned the Ephesians (Eph 5:11). They are ways of darkness, because they endeavour to hide themselves from God (Isa 29:15) and from man (Job 24:15; 38:13,15). In their tendency and end they lead to the blackness of darkness forever. In Scripture darkness is associated with evil, just as light is with uprightness (Joh 3:19,20).

Pro 2:14

WHO DELIGHT IN DOING WRONG AND REJOICE IN THE PERVERSENESS OF EVIL: The wicked enjoy sin. Their conscience is seldom grieved, and their soul is seldom vexed. They are excited about the opportunity to sin, and they count it great sport to see the perverse actions of other sinners. They do evil, and they take pleasure in others doing evil. This is the character of wicked men, and wise men will avoid them at all costs.

The wicked never think about God: He is not in all their thoughts (Psa 10:4). They rush headlong into life with thoughts only of pleasing themselves. They do not tremble at God's warnings. They are excited about evil. Like Ahab, they sell themselves to do wickedness in the sight of the LORD (1Ki 21:25,26).

These wicked men are not like Lot, the righteous and just nephew of Abraham. His soul was vexed daily while he lived in the midst of wickedness in Sodom (2Pe 2:6-8). But the wicked are only vexed when they cannot sin (Pro 4:16; Mic 2:1)! They love sin! And they love watching others sin, even heinously!

The world is filled with such madmen. Paul described them as "being past feeling" and giving "themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness" (Eph 4:17-19). The reason for this horrible condition is the vanity of their minds, their darkened understanding, and their blinded hearts.

Men rejected God's truth in creation, so he blinded them (Rom 1:18-21). They foolishly created versions of gods to their own liking (Rom 1:22,23), so God blinded their minds further to do abusive and appalling things to themselves (Rom 1:24-31). Though they knew such sins deserved death, "they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them" (Rom 1:32).

Our generation flatters wicked men. Sin is no longer a horrible thing with consequences. It is good material for comedies and jokes. But only fools find pleasure in evil conduct (Pro 10:23; 14:9).

The value of wisdom is salvation from such wicked men (Pro 2:10-15). Young man, love and seek wisdom to be saved from their lifestyle and horrible judgment. Delight in the Lord (Psa 37:4). Flee the evil desires of youth (2Ti 2:22). Pursue sobriety and self-control instead (Tit 2:6).

Pro 2:15

WHOSE PATHS ARE CROOKED: The adjective "iqqesh" is used to depict permanent bodily defects, eg, blindness, lameness. The actions of these men are morally defective and, apart from repentance, are permanently crooked and twisted. "Their ways are crooked, a great many windings and turnings to escape the pursuit of their convictions and break the force of them; some sly excuse, some subtle evasion or other, their deceitful hearts furnish them with, for the strengthening of their hands in their wickedness; and in the crooked mazes of that labyrinth they secure themselves from the arrests of God's word and their own consciences" (Henry).

How interesting that, in modern terminology, those who are heterosexual are called "straight" (or "upright", the Hebrew equivalent) -- while the homosexual lifestyle is termed "gay", pretty much ruining for any other modern use an otherwise pleasant word (what a perversity!). Of course, the opposite of "straight" is "crooked" -- ie, perverse or twisted: and how right that is! THAT is the word homosexuals SHOULD use of themselves -- for they are... "crooked"!

AND WHO ARE DEVIOUS IN THEIR WAYS: The Hebrew "luz" describes conduct that is morally deceptive, crafty, and cunning: "You have rejected this message, relied on oppression and depended on deceit [luz]" (Isa 30:12). The disciple needs wisdom for protection from those who turn the LORD's ways upside down and try to draw others in by creating ethical chaos (cp Psa 125:5; Isa 59:8).

We are commanded not to conform to the world, but to be transformed from it (Rom 12:1,2). God has called you to a different lifestyle! Paul called on saints to be "blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world" (Phi 2:15). Are we as different from the world as we should be? There should not even be a resemblance!

How do we achieve a distinction from the wicked world? By wisdom, knowledge, discretion, and understanding (Pro 2:10,11)! Where do we find such precious things? In the Word of God, of course! We esteem God's precepts right on all subjects, and we hate every false way (Psa 119:128).

There was only one Man whose ways were perfectly straight, and his paths perfectly right. There was nothing crooked or perverse in him. Paul said Jesus was "holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners" (Heb 7:26). What did this world do to him? They mocked and tortured him, before hanging him by nails on a cross; and they would do the same thing again, if they had another chance. And they want the same for his followers.

Pro 2:16

Vv 16-19: First of all, Wisdom will save the adherent from evil men (vv 12-15), and now -- also -- from evil women! First of all, Wisdom will save the adherent from evil men (vv 12-15), and now -- also -- from evil women! "The second class of evil persons from whom wisdom delivers is the licentious woman. Whereas the evil man brings pain and perversion, the evil woman brings moral ruin through a more subtle temptation. Prostitutes and adulteresses existed in Israel from the earliest times (Jdg 11:1; 1Ki 3:16; Hos 3:1; notice also laws against adultery in Exo 20:14; Lev 20:10). In this passage the licentious woman is first described (vv 16,17); then her ruin and that of those who submit to her are presented as a warning (vv 18,19)" (EBC).

IT WILL SAVE YOU ALSO FROM THE ADULTERESS: "The root 'zur' ('to be a stranger') sometimes refers to people who are ethnically foreign to Israel (Isa 1:7; Hos 7:9; 8:7), but it often refers to what is morally estranged from God or his covenant people (Psa 58:3; 78:30; BDB 266). Referring to a woman, it means adulteress or prostitute (Pro 2:16; 5:3,20; 7:5; 22:14; 23:33; see BDB 266). It does not mean that she is a foreigner but that she is estranged from the community with its social and religious values (McKane). It describes her as outside the framework of the covenant community (Snijders). Here an Israelite woman is in view because her marriage is called a 'covenant with God.' [v 17] She is an adulteress, acting outside the legal bounds of the marriage contract" (NETn).

This warning occurs again and again, as it is a great temptation for men, especially young men (Pro 6:24; 7:5). No man can play with this temptation, for many strong men have been slain by her (Pro 7:26). Samson was powerless before Delilah (Jdg 16:4-21), so that he told her all his heart, even though he knew she sought to destroy him. On the other hand, Potiphar's wife enticed the noble Joseph, who firmly rejected her advances with a soul committed to God (Gen 39:7-12).

Knowing and understanding God has condemned all adulterers and whoremongers (Heb 13:4) and the consequences of adultery are horrific (Pro 6:26-35), it is a man's wisdom and discretion to stay far away from any woman but his wife.

Likewise, the daughters of God must learn to modestly cover their beauty, limit their eye contact, and limit friendly speech with other men. If they do not, then they may be -- unwittingly -- kindling a fire that will destroy their own lives and homes, and those of others as well.

FROM THE WAYWARD WIFE: "Stranger" (AV), or foreigner -- not necessarily a wife. However, again, NETn has: "The adjective 'nokhri' ('foreign; alien') refers to (1) people who are ethnically alien to Israel (Exo 21:8; Deu 17:15; Jdg 19:12; Rth 2:10; 1Ki 11:1,8; Ezr 10:2,10,11; see BDB 649 sv 1); (2) people who are morally alienated from God and his covenant people (Job 19:15; Psa 69:8; Pro 20:16; Ecc 6:2; Jer 2:21; see BDB 649 sv 3); and (3) as a technical term in Proverbs for a harlot or promiscuous woman as someone who is morally alienated from God and moral society (Pro 2:16; 5:20; 6:24; 7:5; 20:16; 23:27; 27:13; see BDB 649 sv 2). The description of the woman as a 'strange woman' and now an 'alien woman' is within the context of the people of Israel. She is a 'foreigner' in the sense that she is a nonconformist, wayward and loose. It does not necessarily mean that she is not ethnically Israelite (though BDB notes that most harlots in Israel were originally chiefly foreigners by reason of their otherwise homeless condition)."

WITH HER SEDUCTIVE WORDS: "Seductive", or "flattering" (cp AV) is from a root meaning "smooth". Likewise, in Pro 5:3, the words of such a woman are compared to "oil". The flattering attention of a woman is too strong a force to allow, for it will lead to the slaughter (Pro 7:21-23).

Do not lust after a woman's beauty or enjoy her eyes (Pro 6:25)! Reject and flee her words of praise and flattery (Pro 6:24)! Do not think of her later in your heart (Job 31:1)! Stay away from her presence with great diligence (Pro 4:15)!

Flattery is kind and friendly speech to win your attention: "For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people" (Rom 16:18). It is not sincere and virtuous, for the intentions are neither noble nor righteous. A woman's praise can take a man easily, so avoid it and disregard it (Pro 5:3; 7:21).

Of course, she will not say her goal is sin; instead she will praise you, commend herself, describe creative lovemaking and great affection, and say she wants to give you solace and love (Pro 7:13-18). Hate her words! Run from them! Reject them! She lies! Though she seems delightful and pleasant, her end is bitter and painful (Pro 2:18,19; 5:5; 7:27; 9:18).

Pro 2:17

WHO HAS LEFT THE PARTNER OF HER YOUTH: The term "alluf" is from a root "to be familiar with; to cleave to", and refers to a woman's husband (cp Jer 3:4). The phrase "of her youth" reminds us that women often married quite young in these days, thus lessening the period between the onset of puberty and the time of marriage. The partner "of her youth" would be the husband she married at an early age (cp Pro 5:18; Isa 54:6; Joel 1:8; Mal 2:14,15).

AND IGNORED THE COVENANT SHE MADE BEFORE GOD: The whole nation of Israel is at times pictured as making a marriage covenant with God (cp Eze 16:8; Mal 2:14-16). The comparison works both ways: a woman who has pledged her loyalty and fidelity to a human husband has, at the same time, made a promise in the sight of almighty God. And a nation that has pledged to serve Yahweh has, figuratively, entered into a sort of "marriage covenant" with Him; for such, faithlessness to God becomes a sort of spiritual "adultery".

Pro 2:18

FOR HER HOUSE LEADS DOWN TO DEATH AND HER PATHS TO THE SPIRITS OF THE DEAD: Or, put another way, she -- the adulterous woman -- drags her "house" (all who know her) down to death, along with her! "Hers is a deadly sin because it breaks down the family relationship which is so needful if wisdom is to be taught from one generation to the next. The NT judgment is no less final: 'For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God' (Eph 5:5). What a terrible end! There is only one true defence: Consent thou not, and refrain thy foot, that 'thou mayest walk in the way of good men, and keep the paths of the righteous' (v 20). Where do such paths lead? See v 21: 'For the upright shall dwell in the land, and the perfect shall remain in it.' But the wicked shall be cut off. Gone! down the slippery slope!" (Waddoup).¶ "Some Canaanite homes have a family burial vault beneath the house, reached by stone stairs. In Israel, most harlots would probably be Canaanites, or 'strange women' " (BSp 8:62). Literally, then, as well as figuratively, the unsuspecting Hebrew man who went in to a harlot was entering a "house of death" -- and would at last be dragged down into the same grave!

SPIRITS OF THE DEAD: "Rephaim": Thus the NIV renders the Hebrew "rephaim". Elsewhere, the RV mg and RSV, apparently following Gesenius, render this word by "shades" -- suggestive of ghosts and disembodied spirits and the like! This is erroneous, as is JT's rendering of rephaim as "healed ones" (Anas 44). The Rephaim were, in the first instance, an obscure race of Canaanites (Gen 14:5; 15:20), who seem to have perished early on in OT history (Deu 3:11). By the distinct parallelism of this verse (Pro 2:18) as well as Psa 88:10-12 (where "rephaim" also occurs), the word plainly signifies, not only those who are dead, but especially those who have no hope of any future life. What better name for such than that of an extinct tribe, whose memory is practically lost in the mists of antiquity? Evidently this is all that is intended by the Heb "rephaim"; such a definition is more or less in accordance with the other usages of the word (Job 26:5; Pro 2:18; 9:18; 21:16; Isa 14:9; 26:14,19).

Some commentators come further along to the truth of the matter by referring to the "rephaim" as the "departed spirits" which are in "Sheol" (or the grave) -- having a sort of shadowy existence, but no real one, in the graves. Essentially, then, they tell us that this is a poetic way of referring to those who are simply "dead", and with that there can be no quarrel (provided we understand that the dead in their graves have no actual, conscious or knowledgeable existence). Others yet suggest a sort of spiritual "dead" -- referring to those who have been estranged from the community of believers, isolated from the blessings of God, and are in effect "dead while still alive", along the lines of 1Ti 5:6: "But [she] who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives."

Proverbs frequently pictures immorality as leading to death (Pro 2:18.19; 5:5; 7:22–27; 9:18). Curiously, this notion of death cannot be limited with certainty to literal, physical death. Death, it seems, is often a metaphor for irreversible and permanent disaster. This suggests that the statements picturing immorality as leading to death may carry a figurative rather than a literal meaning. If a person becomes entangled in sexual immorality, he will find only estrangement from society. He will be numbered among its outcasts.

"There is hardly a greater danger to men than a strange woman -- an attractive and flattering woman with a whore's heart, who will give her body to destroy his soul (Pro 6:26; 23:28). She has wounded and slain many strong men (Pro 7:26). Only by God's grace do any men ever recover from sinning with her (Pro 2:19)... Her house and paths are not limited to those literal places -- they include any sexual activity with her, no matter where the sinful liaison takes place. It may even be her pictures in a glossy magazine or adult website. Going to bed with a strange woman, or fantasizing of doing so, or choosing her lifestyle will bring the same result -- death.

"There is more than one way to die. Physical death -- the death of the body -- is only one way to die. Fornicators die physically from STDs, jealous husbands, protective fathers, and capital punishment... Of course, such deaths today are hidden away and disguised, for this wicked generation has glamorized the house and paths of whores.

"Men also die spiritually, emotionally, and eternally. They can lose their fellowship with God. They can lose their reputations, families, wealth, health, ambition, peace, and other essential assets -- all of which may be called death, the ruin of a good life. They also end up in... the second death... (Rev 21:8).

"The average man lives 73 years, but this is not the life expectancy of whoremongers. The most glamorized movie actors, music stars, and other public fornicators average only half those years! Even the world knows that hard living, hard partying, and whores will steal years off a man's life. A benefit of Hollywood is seeing the shorter life expectancy of publicized profligates like Errol Flynn, Jim Morrison, Elvis Presley, and many others... Do not be deceived! Do not let this wicked generation paint an illusion over the house and paths of the strange woman! They are sloped down, down, down! They lead to death and [the grave]. The lie of today's music, movies, clothes, and lifestyles, that free love and casual sex are elixirs of life, will destroy you. Do not be as blinded by women as [were] Samson, David and Solomon! It cost them life and peace" (LGBT).

Pro 2:19

NONE WHO GO TO HER RETURN: That is, once their foot is on this slippery slope of moral decadence, it is practically impossible for them to reverse their downward course, for "wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it" (Mat 7:13). It is true that every sin CAN be forgiven, but the point is plainly that repentance from some ongoing sins is more difficult than from others. Hence Paul wrote, "No immoral, impure or greedy person--such a man is an idolater -- has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God" (Eph 5:5), and "the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God" (1Co 6:9; cp Rev 22:15). And one of the early church fathers wrote, "It is as difficult to bring back a libidinous person to chastity as a dead man to life."

OR ATTAIN THE PATHS OF LIFE: To "attain the paths of life" is a spiritual expression, signifying to find joy and fulfillment in following God's ways. Cp Psa 16:8-11: those who follow the LORD, and the Wisdom which He alone offers, will not be abandoned in the grave (cp Pro 2:18), but will rejoice in His presence, and find eternal Edenic pleasures at His right hand. With this also cp Gen 3:24: they will find the real "tree of life". But -- lest we forget -- this verse says that "NONE" who follow the way of the wanton woman will so attain!

Pro 2:20


Pro 2:21

Vv 21,22: This chapter, like the previous one, ends by contrasting the ends of the wicked and the righteous (cf Pro 1:32.33).

FOR THE UPRIGHT WILL LIVE IN THE LAND, AND THE BLAMELESS WILL REMAIN IN IT: This is echoed in Psa 37:9,27,34,37; Pro 11:31, and in the NT by Mat 5:5: "Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth."

Pro 2:22

BUT THE WICKED WILL BE CUT OFF FROM THE LAND, AND THE UNFAITHFUL WILL BE TORN FROM IT: As with the positive in v 21, the negative of v 22 is also echoed in Psa 37:20,22,28,37,38. See also Isa 65:20; Mat 15;13; Deu 28:63.

CUT OFF: There are at least three possibilities in this curt phrase. To be "cut off" indicates either that the guilty will (1) die prematurely -- as in judicial execution (sw Lev 7:20; Psa 37:9), (2) be excommunicated from the community, or (3) be separated eternally in judgment. Or, for that matter, some combination of those three!

TORN FROM IT: Or "rooted out of it" (AV). An uprooted tree is an OT symbol of divine judgment (Psa 52:5; Jer 1:10), and is so borrowed in the NT as well (Mat 15:13; Jud 1:12) -- to describe those who are first fruitless, then lifeless, and ultimately uprooted in judgment. Such a "tree" is uprooted not only in recognition of the fact that its fruit is evil, but also that the root and the whole tree is evil; therefore it must all be torn out of the earth and utterly destroyed. Otherwise, a last vestige -- left behind and unnoticed -- might after a while grow and produce yet more evil fruit.

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