The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Proverbs 3

Pro 3:1

Pro 3: "Since wisdom is the principal thing, there are wonderful rewards that result from it. So the Book of Wisdom calls upon the son of the Wise Man to retain the wonder of the divine law. It is the voice of David reflected in his son Solomon, and typical of the greater Son of the Deity, Yahshua. It is said of him that, as the 'greater than Solomon', his wisdom excelled all (Mat 12:42). This chapter reveals: (1) The rewards of wisdom: vv 1-10; (2) The search for wisdom: vv 11-20. (3) The security of wisdom: vv 21-26. (4) Precepts of wisdom contrasted with acts of perversity: vv 27-35. Further, there is hidden in each ch of the Proverbs the voice of prophecy. In Pro 3, it is found in v 35, revealing the future glory and shame, as the wise and foolish are separated and rewarded accordingly (see also Rom 2:3-11)" (GEM).

MY SON, DO NOT FORGET MY TEACHING: As Israel did (Jer 2:13), leading, as prophesied, to apostasy (Act 20:28). Hearing instruction is not enough. There is profit only in remembering and doing it (v 2). To hear and forget is a horrible waste of an opportunity; and God will hold us guilty, if we squander the precious privilege of hearing wisdom (Pro 1:24-32; Luk 12:48). We must remember what we are taught; we cannot forget it (Pro 3:3,21; 4:4-6,13,21; 6:21; 7:1; 22:18). Keeping our hearts is a priority, for out of it are the issues of life (Pro 4:23). Our hearts direct our lives (Luk 6:45). So we keep wisdom there to guide it (Pro 3:3; 4:21; Psa 37:31)!

The writer to the Hebrews warns soberly about letting the things we have heard slip away (Heb 2:1-4). Men remember what they count important. It is not a function of memory: it is a function of priorities. It is not difficult, as much as it requires diligence.

James warns us to be doers of God's word, not just hearers, who deceive themselves (Jam 1:21-25). The saving benefits of truth are for those who remember and do it. Paul warns that the gospel saves only those who keep it in memory (1Co 15:2). Only the "soil" that receives the "seed" of God's Word, and keeps it and nurtures it, will bear the fruit of righteousness (Luk 8:12).

BUT KEEP MY COMMANDS IN YOUR HEART: "As the ark, or chest, [of the covenant] kept the two tables of the law put into it; [this] denotes a cordial affection for the commandments and ordinances of Christ, a hearty attention and obedience to them, and a constant and cheerful observance of them, flowing from love and gratitude to him (Joh 14:15,21)" (Gill). And so God promised that, to those who would seek Him, He would put His law in their minds and write it on their hearts -- so that He would be their God, and they would be His people (Jer 31:31-34).

Pro 3:2

FOR THEY WILL PROLONG YOUR LIFE MANY YEARS: AV "length of days, and long life". Heb "length of days and years of life." The idiom 'length of days' refers to a prolonged life (cp v 16; Job 12:12; Psa 21:4), while 'years of life' signifies a long time which is full of life -- that is, a life worth living (Perowne). The first phrase describes the LENGTH of life, the last its FULLNESS! Cp Psa 91:14-16; Joh 6:63.

AND BRING YOU PROSPERITY: The familiar noun "shalom", or "peace", means "welfare, health, prosperity". It can be used of physical health and personal wellbeing. It is the experience of positive blessing and freedom from negative harm and catastrophe. It carries undertones of oneness and closeness and fellowship with God Himself. "Shalom is a comprehensive term meaning wholeness, which makes existence complete and worth while. Consequently the supreme blessing God can bestow is peace, since it is the foundation upon which everything desirable rests" (Cohen).

"Ponce de Leon traveled far looking for the fabled fountain of youth. Billions are spent annually on so-called health food and vitamins, gym memberships and personal trainers, and reading the latest medical research and bizarre remedies for extending life. If just a portion of that zeal were applied to wisdom, a person could claim long life and peace.

"Sinful living ages the body and brings early death. Even pagans know the risks of 'hard living.' Rock stars, rap artists, actors and actresses -- [which include some of] our nation's most profligate sinners -- often live only half as long as others. They die from accidents, disease, drugs, murder, suicide, and exhausted bodies. Capital punishment also shortens the life of gross sinners.

"Wisdom saves from 'hard living.' Wise men avoid accidents by prudence; they miss disease by monogamy, drugs by abstention, murder by peaceful living, suicide by hopeful living, and exhausted bodies by refreshing sleep. By obeying the laws of the land, they are not in danger of capital punishment. All these means of life are taught in Proverbs.

"Wisdom brings peace. Sinners lead tortured lives of fear, guilt, shame, and stress. They are depressed, frustrated, lonely, and tired. They cannot find contentment, fulfillment, or satisfaction. They are always looking, running, and wishing for something with lasting good. But wise men find peace in the Lord, marriage, work, friends, and a righteous [life]... Life and death is before you (Deu 30:19,20). Choose wisdom and life today!" (LGBT).

Pro 3:3

LET LOVE AND FAITHFULNESS NEVER LEAVE YOU: The two words "khesed" and "emet" ("mercy and truth" in the AV) form a hendiadys, the second word becoming an adjective, and thus modifying the first: "faithful covenant love" or "loyal [covenant] love and faithfulness." Specifically, on God's part, it is a total faithfulness to remember and fulfill His covenant promises -- as to Abraham and David. And on man's part, it is a relative faithfulness to remember his God and fulfill his part of the divine covenant, as best he is able, in serving and obeying Him.

Psa 85:10 reads, "Love (khesed) and faithfulness (emet) meet together" -- and in the parallel phrase that follows, "righteousness and peace kiss each other." By "love" here we may understand... mercy, a special covenant mercy, by which God remembers His promises to us; also, forgiveness and grace and kindness. By "faithfulness" we may understand righteousness, holiness, and dedication to what is right and holy. The two characteristics joined together, as they surely are in God Himself, raise once again the age-old question: how could a pure God, who could not even look upon sin, save a world of sinners?

What in man (alone) is impossible, in God is not only possible, but certain! In God's work of salvation through His Son, two disparate (one might almost say, two mutually exclusive elements) are at work together. God's righteousness is declared and vindicated in the sacrifice of His Son (Rom 3:21-31), and on that basis -- the recognition of His righteousness, or holiness -- God is pleased also to show His mercy, in the forgiveness of sins.

Thus it is a wonderful miracle that, in and through Jesus, the truth of God and the mercy and grace of God are met together in one. This mercy (grace) and truth have been manifested in the Word made flesh (Joh 1:14-18). These divine attributes parted company at the fall of the first Adam, when God's holiness decreed an exile from the "garden" of His presence. But now they have been joined together again with the coming of the last Adam! The irreproachable righteousness of God may save sinners, and bring them "peace" (joy, fellowship, and reconciliation with Himself), without any diminishing of His absolutely righteous character, because of the mediatorship of His Son. Only through that man, says Paul to the Romans, can God offer "peace" (reconciliation, justification) to sinful man, whilst not letting go (as He surely cannot!) of His righteousness and holiness.

"Have you met people who are students of the Bible but are cantankerous, self-willed and hard to get along with? They will fight for the TRUTH, but they are hard as flint when it comes to MERCY. On the other hand, there are people whose hearts are filled with concern, love and mercy for others, but have no truth. Sincerity is the key and tolerance is the hallmark of their faith. The problem is, of course, that a person may be sincerely wrong. If you go to the medicine cabinet at night and take poison instead of cough syrup, it doesn't matter how sincere you were. You will be dead wrong in the morning. If you only extend mercy to a person, he will soon be dead also. So 'mercy and truth' must go together" (CPro).

"As the wings of the cherubim touched one another in the midst of the house, so Mercy and Truth are such a pair as will either lodge together or leave together... Mercy without truth is a sweet shower dropping on the barren sands, quite spilt, and no blessing follows it. Truth without mercy is extreme right and extreme injury. Mercy without truth is a dangerous pity. Truth without mercy is not verity but severity. Consider them towards God and heaven, and then most unfit it is that either should be alone" (Hacket, cited BI).

BIND THEM AROUND YOUR NECK: After the pattern of the frontlets, by which the faithful Jew bound the commandments of God about his head or neck: Exo 13:9,16; Deu 6:8; 11:18 (cp also Gen 41:42; Song 1:10; 4:9; Pro 6:21; 7:3); this suggests the tephillim, or phylacteries, of the devout Jews. Living out the duties and responsibilities of the Truth is compared to voluntarily binding oneself with a chain around the neck, as a slave.

WRITE THEM ON THE TABLET OF YOUR HEART: This is a lovely comparison, of the inward appropriation of God's teachings with writing them on a tablet. So the teachings are not only to become the lifestyle of the disciple (the chain around the neck), but also his very nature (being engraven on his heart). Cp 2Co 3:3: "You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts." "That is the final object of all good writing. Much that is written on paper is destroyed without even being read. Even commandments written and engraven on stone have been neglected until the stones have crumbled into dust. But when the commandments of God are written on human hearts, the final object of writing has been achieved. Words written on paper, parchment or stone, or words spoken by inspired lips have then been received by the senses, understood and approved by the intellect and the thoughts expressed have been, in some measure at least, woven into the character" (PrPr).

Pro 3:4

THEN YOU WILL WIN FAVOR AND A GOOD NAME IN THE SIGHT OF GOD AND MAN: The AV has "favour and good understanding [Heb 'sekhel']" (cp also the ASV). But some scholars suggest emending the Masoretic Text ("sekhel tov", "good understanding") to the more familiar "shem-tov" -- "a good name" (as in Ecc 7:1). [There is, however, no textual evidence for this change.] Thus, the NIV translation here (cp the RSV "good repute").

On the other hand, Kidner suggests that "sekhel" may function here as a metonymy of result, meaning "success" rather than "understanding." "It is also possible to take the two words as a hendiadys: the favor of good understanding, meaning a reputation for good understanding" (NETn).

FAVOR: Samuel and Jesus both grew in favor with God and men (1Sa 2:26; Luk 2:52). Joseph behaved himself so well that Potiphar, his Egyptian slave owner, put all his assets totally under his care (Gen 39:1-6). When thrown into prison unjustly, he earned the same approval of the jailor (Gen 39:21). And when Pharaoh needed a wise and prudent man to oversee the preservation of his kingdom, he could think only of Joseph (Gen 41:38-45). David behaved himself so well all Israel loved him and his name was much set respected and honored (1Sa 18). King Darius intended to promote Daniel over the whole empire for his excellent spirit (Dan 6:3), and even his enemies could find no fault or error in him (Dan 6:4). And cp also Act 2:47, where the emerging ecclesia enjoyed "the favor of all the people".

Pro 3:5

TRUST IN THE LORD WITH ALL YOUR HEART AND LEAN NOT ON YOUR OWN UNDERSTANDING: Shun the wisdom of the world (1Co 1:20,27) and your own vain conceits (Rom 12:16; 2Ti 2:15-18).

TRUST: The word "betach" is used in the OT in (1) the literal physical sense: to physically lean upon something for support; and (2) the figurative sense: to rely upon someone or something for help or protection (BDB; HAL). The verb is often used with false securities, ie, people trusting in things that prove to be worthless. But here the object of the secure trust is the LORD who is a reliable object of confidence.

AND LEAN NOT ON YOUR OWN UNDERSTANDING: The verb "sha'an" , "to lean; to rely", is used -- more or less identically with the previous "betach": (1) literally, of leaning upon something for support; and (2) figuratively, of relying upon someone or something for help or protection (BDB). Here it functions figuratively: relying on one's own understanding is compared to leaning on something that is unreliable for support (eg, Isa 10:20). Constable says, "Leaning ['sha'an'] is not just reclining against something [as 'betach'], but relying on it totally for support."

YOUR OWN UNDERSTANDING: The term "binah", or "understanding", is used elsewhere in this book of insight given by God from the instructions in Proverbs (Pro 2:3; 7:4; 8:14; 9:6,10; 23:23). But here it refers to inherent human understanding that functions in relative ignorance unless supplemented by divine wisdom (Job 28:12–28; 39:26). It is dangerous for a person for rely upon mere human wisdom; it is the "way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death" (Pro 14:12; 16:25). But Wardlaw adds, reasonably and practically, "The admonition does not mean that we are not to use our own understanding, that is, to form plans with discretion, and employ legitimate means in the pursuit of our ends; but that, when we use it, we are to depend upon God and his directing and overruling providence."

Pro 3:6

IN ALL YOUR WAYS ACKNOWLEDGE HIM: This is the key message, not just of the book of Proverbs, but of the whole Bible. It may be expressed, here and there, in various ways, but the underlying message is plain: have faith, believe, in the LORD! But... it makes no sense unless the "ALL" is emphasized: "in ALL your ways"! While it may not be in our power to give absolute devotion or obedience, nevertheless that is the ideal; and it starts with the commitment. Thus Jesus -- citing Deu 6:5 -- says, "Love the LORD your God with ALL your heart and with ALL your soul and with ALL your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment" (Mat 22:37,38). To acknowledge God is, in the first instance, to give mental assent to His existence and His revelations and His laws. But more than this, He is to be acknowledged in all man's WAYS! This means, mental awareness must give way to submission and obedience -- the "head" must lead the "feet". The servant must not only say, "Yes, sir!" to his Lord, but he must GO upon his appointed mission!

The term "derek" ("way") refers to a person's course of life, actions and undertakings (Pro 2:8; 3:23; 11:5; 20:24; 31:3); thus this verse is a call for total commitment in trust and absolute obedience and surrender in every realm of life.

AND HE WILL MAKE YOUR PATHS STRAIGHT: He will "smooth your path" (NEB). The same idea is found in Isa 40:3: "Make straight in the desert a highway for our God" (cp Jer 10:23; Psa 23:1; 32:8; 37:5,23; 1Sa 2:9).

It is worth noting, however, that God's promise to make one's path "smooth" does not mean there will be no trials; only a few verses further on in this chapter, in fact, we are told, "Do not despise the LORD's discipline... because the LORD disciplines those he loves" (vv 11,12). The promise to make our paths smooth means, surely, that our lives will be "successful" in the sight of God, and will lead us ultimately to His Kingdom and our eternal blessing -- not that there will be no difficulties along the way! God promises to guide us THROUGH life's difficulties and hindrances, NOT to remove them all, magically, from our path: "We must go THROUGH many hardships to enter the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22). "We must refer ourselves to Him as one from whom our judgment proceeds, and patiently, and with a holy indifference, wait His award. In all our ways that prove direct, and fair, and pleasant, in which we gain our point to our satisfaction, we must acknowledge God with thankfulness. In all our ways that prove cross and uncomfortable, and that are hedged up with thorns, we must acknowledge God with submission" (Henry).

Examples: Asa (2Ch 14:9-15); Hezekiah (2Ki 19:14); Abraham's servant (Gen 24:12-27); Nehemiah (Neh 2:4); and David (1Sa 30:6-8).

"To many a child of God those words from Pro 3:5,6 have been at once compass, rudder, and anchor, in sailing out upon life's treacherous sea. That text was given to the writer by his father, in boyhood, as a life motto, and since then no important step has been taken without waiting for divine leading and never in vain. We can afford to wait as long as He can, for it is His work, way, and time, that are of all consequence. If, therefore, guidance does not at once come, it is safer to wait till it does; a step taken too soon may be a step taken amiss" (AT Pierson, Emmaus).

Pro 3:7

DO NOT BE WISE IN YOUR OWN EYES; FEAR THE LORD AND SHUN EVIL: This verse parallels and clarifies v 5. Cp also Pro 1:7; Job 28:28; Ecc 12:13; Rom 12:16; 1Co 8:2; Gal 6:3. Ct Isa 5:21.

AND SHUN EVIL: "Turn from evil and do good" (Psa 34:14).

Pro 3:8

THIS WILL BRING HEALTH TO YOUR BODY: "Body" is literally "navel" (KJV), or umbilical cord, figuratively the source of strength (the sw is in Eze 16:4 and Song 7:2).

AND NOURISHMENT TO YOUR BONES: "Nourishment" ("marrow" in the AV) is "shiqquwy" -- literally, "moisture" or a "drink". Just as a drink of water would bring physical refreshment to one’s body, trusting in God and turning away from evil will bring emotional refreshment to one’s inner being.

Pro 3:9

HONOR THE LORD WITH YOUR WEALTH, WITH THE FIRSTFRUITS OF ALL YOUR CROPS: This is a basic tenet of the Law of Moses. Since Israel is God's firstborn son, then it owes to Him the firstfruits of all it produces: Exo 23:19; Num 28:26,27; Deu 18:4; 26:1,2. (An early example of this principle was Abel: Gen 4:4.)

HONOR: Heb "kabod" = weight. To "honor" is to give proper "weight" to. To honor God means to give him the rightful place of authority by rendering to him gifts of tribute. One way to acknowledge God in one’s ways (v 6) is to honor him with one’s wealth (v 9). Where riches increase we are tempted to honor ourselves (De 8:17) and to set our hearts upon the world (Psa 62:10); but the more God gives us -- if we truly believe that HE is the source of those blessings! -- then all the more we should endeavor to honor Him. Then it will come to pass, the LORD says, that "those who honor me I will honor" (1Sa 2:30).

PRODUCE: "Increase" (KJV) or "crops" (NET) is from the Heb "tevulah", which has a two-fold range of meaning: (1) "product; yield" of the earth (that is, crops; harvest) and (2) "income; revenue" in general. The imagery in vv 9,10 is agricultural; however, all Israelites -- not just farmers -- were expected to give the best portion (ie, the firstfruits) of their income, however produced, to the LORD.

While tithing is not taught directly in the NT, it was taught in the Law of Moses. It has been calculated that the Israelites gave 23 1/3% -- considering the two annual tithes and a triennial tithe (Num 18:20-32; Deu 14:22-29). Also, they gave special vows and freewill offerings (Deu 12:6)! How did Abraham and Jacob know about tithing before the Law of Moses (Gen 14:20; 28:22)? Because it is a general rule of godly giving, which NT saints should use as a standard, if not a divine requirement, for the far greater blessings they enjoy (Luk 12:48; Heb 8:6).

God dares His people to test how much He can bless them (Mal 3:8-12). Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were financially blessed, because they knew how to give. God made David rich (1Ch 29:18), but David loved to give (1Ch 21:24; 22:1-16). If one gives liberally, the LORD will reward him liberally (Pro 11:24,25; Luk 6:38).

HOW one give counts more with our blessed God than HOW MUCH one gives! The Lord loves a cheerful giver (2Co 8:12; 9:7). Jesus took special note of a widow giving just two mites -- the smallest of coins (Luk 21:1-4), and much less than the rich Pharisees were giving -- because for her it represented "all her living"! See Lesson, Giving (IC).

Pro 3:10

THEN YOUR BARNS WILL BE FILLED TO OVERFLOWING: Cp Mal 3:8-12, esp v 10: "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it." And Paul seems to have in mind Pro 3:9,10 as background for his statement in 2Co 9:10-12: "Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God's people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.

BARNS: "Asam" = storehouses, treasuries (sw Deu 28:8).

AND YOUR VATS WILL BRIM OVER WITH NEW WINE: This pictures the process of pressing grapes in which the upper receptacle is filled with grapes and the lower one catches the juice. The harvest of grapes will be so plentiful that the lower vat will overflow with grape juice.

"The prospect of material reward (v 10) was a promise to the godly Israelite (cf Deu 28:1-14; Mal 3:10). We should take this verse more as a proverb than a promise since the Lord has revealed that as Christians we should expect persecution for our faith rather than material prosperity (2Ti 3:12; Heb 12:1-11)" (Const). By "proverb" (instead of "promise"), the writer is saying that vv 9,10 are generally true, for most situations, but that they are not absolute and binding promises upon God. There will, certainly, be trials and tribulations upon the faithful, and they may sometimes suffer want or deprivation -- no matter how well or faithfully they serve the LORD. Nevertheless, the "proverb" is quite often proven true in one's life. And, beyond the more literal and materal blessing (which may or may not materialize), there is the ABSOLUTE promise that -- in "Kingdom" time, shall we say -- God's special blessings will overflow to infinity upon His beloved.

The LORD our God owns the cattle on a thousand hills and everything else besides (Psa 50:10-12). He is able to supply all your needs according to His riches in glory (Phi 4:19). If you think giving a few dollars is hard, then think upon the sacrifice our Lord Jesus made for you. Was he rewarded? Yes, indeed; he was given great honor, fullness of joy, and pleasures forevermore at God's right hand (Phi 2:5-11; Psa 16:9-11)!

Pro 3:11

MY SON, DO NOT DESPISE THE LORD'S DISCIPLINE AND DO NOT RESENT HIS REBUKE: The AV reads, "My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction." But "be weary" bears the older meaning of "to loathe" (cp Num 21:5, sw). "Despise" suggests an intellectual rejection, while "resent" or "loathe" suggest more of an emotional rejection. We may reject chastening of the LORD in either of two ways: by despising the chastening, or by growing weary of it. See Num 15:35-38; 1Sa 15:23; Lam 4:1,2; 1Pe 1:7; Job 23:10; Heb 12:6-12; Job 5:17; Pro 19:18; Isa 26:16; Psa 84:12; 2Ti 3:12; Jam 1:12-15.

Possibly the distinction between "despise" and "be weary" is this: that those with a so-called "iron will" may bear up under most every chastening as though it means little, thus "despising" it or looking down upon it, and thereby missing the God-provided lessons through their own stubbornness... while, on the other hand, others -- of a more fragile disposition -- may faint or lose heart at their chastenings, considering them too heavy to bear. In either case, the underlying failure is one of not recognizing the hand of Almighty God, and not trusting Him to do what is right for each of us, as individuals.

It has been said, in a nutshell, that v 11 expresses the problem of the Book of Job, while v 12 gives the solution (K&D).

Pro 3:12

BECAUSE THE LORD DISCIPLINES THOSE HE LOVES: The verb "yakhakh" here means "to chasten, or punish" (HAL), or "to correct, or rebuke" (BDB). The context suggests some kind of corporeal discipline rather than mere verbal rebuke or correction. This verse is quoted in Heb 12:5,6 to show that suffering in the service of the LORD is a sign of membership in the covenant community -- that is, of "sonship" (cp Deu 8:5). In fact, so much is this true, that those who are NOT disciplined or chastened are illegitimate and not sons (Heb 12:7,8)! Even human parents do not feel called upon to correct in strange children the faults for which their chastise their own children; and so it is with our Heavenly Father toward His children: they come in for a special measure of chastening simply because they ARE His children! Those who are "strangers" and the "children of strangers" may seem to escape this, but -- oh, what a terrible "escape" it is!

AS A FATHER THE SON HE DELIGHTS IN: The Masoretic Text reads "and like a father", but the LXX (which is quoted in the letter to the Hebrews) reflects a variant reading, and thus has: "and scourges every son he receives". Both readings fit the parallelism; however, it is unnecessary to emend the MT -- which makes perfectly good sense.

The ultimate reason for cheerfully accepting God's chastening in our lives is the proof it gives of His love for us (Heb 12:5,6; Rev 3:19). The true God only afflicts His children out of faithfulness and desire for them. David said, "I know, O LORD, that your laws are righteous, and in faithfulness you have afflicted me" (Psa 119:75).

The second reason for cheerfully accepting God's chastening in our lives is that it keeps us back from sinning further: "Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word" (Psa 119:67; Job 34:31,32; Jer 31:18,19; 1Co 11:32). Since that is often the only way we can learn not to do something wrong that is appealing, we should be thankful for His mercy in teaching us His law and ways (Job 5:17; Psa 94:12).

The third reason for cheerfully accepting God's chastening is the loving reason for it -- to make you perfect (Rom 5:3-5; Heb 12:10-12; Jam 1:2-4). Sometimes the "vine" is "pruned" -- or "cleansed" -- so that it bring forth more fruit (Joh 15:2). Learning to deal patiently with adversity is a great measure of maturity (Pro 24:10; 1Pe 5:10). Affliction builds faith in God; prosperity does not cause us to trust Him more -- at times it may cause us to forget Him altogether (Pro 30:8,9). And so the Lord told Paul, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness", and Paul then wrote, "Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong" (2Co 12:7-10).

See Lesson, Prov, parents and children. Cp Pro 29:17; Psa 103:13.

"Griefs and pains are not tokens of anger, nor punishments of sin, but love-gifts meant to help to the acquisition of wisdom. They do not come because the sufferers are wicked, but in order to make them good or better. Tempests are meant to blow us into port. The lights are lowered in the theatre that fairer scenes may become visible on the thin screen between us and eternity. Other supports are struck away that we may lean hard on God. The voice of all experience of earthly loss and bitterness is, 'Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get Wisdom.' God himself becomes our Schoolmaster, and through the voice of the human teacher we hear His deeper tones saying, 'My son, despise not the chastening.' Note, too, the assurance that all discipline is the fruit of Fatherly love. How many sad hearts in all ages these few words have calmed and braced! How sharp a test of our childlike spirit our acceptance of them, when our own hearts are sore, is! How deep the peace which they bring when really believed! How far they go to solve the mystery of pain, and turn darkness into a solemn light!" (Maclaren).

"Scarcely any gem reveals its true beauties in a natural state. The diamond in the rough is most unattractive, and would be thrown away by a casual observer as a worthless pebble; its perfections are hidden under a hard crust, which can only be removed by its own [crushing]. The deep velvet hues of the sapphire, the glowing brilliant red of the ruby, the soft clear green of the emerald, and the delicate strata of the onyx, alike only display themselves in their true character after the lapidary has used his skill in cutting them into facets and polishing them; and on the perfection of this operation depends in a great measure the beauty of the gem. As it is with these, so it is also with human gems" (BI).

Pro 3:13

BLESSED IS THE MAN WHO FINDS WISDOM, THE MAN WHO GAINS UNDERSTANDING: "Asher" is not mere happiness, which is transitory, but an eternal spiritual joy -- which should be independent of external circumstances. "Happiness has nothing to do with what we possess, or what we 'accomplish' in the world, or where we are, or whom we are with, or our external circumstances, or even our physical condition. Happiness is something we (with God's guidance and help, of course) create within ourselves, based solely upon eternal, unchanging things. Only we ourselves can make it. Only we ourselves can harm it. Any 'happiness' that depends upon anything or anyone that can change -- and will, with the inexorable passage of time, certainly pass away -- is a cheat and a delusion. Look to the end. Will it last? If not, do not waste your precious time on it" (GVG). "How many so-called Christian parents would think their son mad if he said, 'I do not care about getting rich; my goal is to be wise with God's Wisdom'? How few of us order our lives on the footing of this old teacher's lesson, and act out the belief that Wisdom is more than wealth! The man who heaps millions together, and masses it, fails in life, however a vulgar world and a nominal church may admire and glorify him. The man who wins Wisdom succeeds, however bare may be his cupboard, and however people may pity him for having failed in life... This decisive subordination of material to spiritual good is too plainly duty and common sense to need being dwelt upon; but, alas! like a great many other most obvious, accepted truths, it is disregarded [almost] universally" (Maclaren).

Compared economically, obtaining wisdom and understanding is better than a prosperous business in gold and silver (v 14; cp Psa 94:12). Wisdom and understanding are of greater value than "rubies" (v 15). In fact, wisdom and understanding are more important than anything you could possible seek in your life (v 15). Financial gain does not give lasting happiness to any man, and it brings enormous worries and problems with it (Pro 23:4,5; Ecc 5:10-17; 1Ti 6:9,10). Wisdom and understanding will bring a long life, riches, and honor (v 16). They will bring pleasantness and peace (v 17). They will be the source of a wonderful life; and those who keep them will be very happy (v 18). There is nothing this world has to offer that can even compare.

Vv 13-15: Examples of personification: riches (Mat 6:24); sin (Joh 8:34; Rom 5:21; 6:16); spirit (Joh 16:13); wisdom (Pro 3:13-15; 9:1); Israel (Jer 31:4,18); people of Christ (Eph 4:4,13; 5:23; Rev 19:7; 1Co 12:27; 2Co 11:2; Col 1:18,24).

The "Beatitudes" in Proverbs: Pro 3:13,18: "Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding... Those who lay hold of her will be blessed." Pro 8:32,34: "Blessed are those who keep [Wisdom's] ways... Blessed is the man who listens to [her], watching daily at [her] doors, waiting at [her] doorway." Pro 14:21: "Blessed is he who is kind to the needy." Pro 16:20: "Blessed is he who trusts in the LORD." Pro 20:7: Blessed are the children of the righteous man. Pro 28:14: "Blessed is the man who always fears the LORD." Pro 29:18: "Blessed is he who keeps the law."

Pro 3:14

FOR SHE IS MORE PROFITABLE THAN SILVER: "The noun 'sakhar' ('trading profit') often refers to the financial profit of traveling merchants (Isa 23:3,18; 45:14; HAL 2:750). The related participle describes a traveling 'trader, dealer, wholesaler, merchant' (eg, Gen 37:28; Pro 31:14; Isa 23:2; Eze 27:36; HAL 2:750). Here the noun is used figuratively to describe the moral benefit of wisdom" (NETn). "Godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come" (1Ti 4:8).

AND YIELDS BETTER RETURNS THAN GOLD: "Returns" (Heb "tevuyah") normally refers to the increase or yield of a harvest.

Pro 3:15

SHE IS MORE PRECIOUS THAN RUBIES; NOTHING YOU DESIRE CAN COMPARE WITH HER: "Rubies" is the Hebrew "peninim" -- a word of doubtful meaning: KD suggests "corals", and Gill "pearls" (cf Christ's parable of the pearl of great price: Mat 13:45,46), while the RSV translates -- generically -- as "jewels". Evidently "peninim" were red, being contrasted with the whiteness of milk and snow (cf Lam 4:7) -- hence the assumption that they were rubies; "peninim" is also mentioned in Pro 8:11; 20:15; 31:10; and Job 28:15-19. The price of wisdom is above rubies, or, indeed, above any precious stone or metal or other bauble.

And so we are commanded, "Buy the truth [at whatever price it takes!] and do not sell it; get wisdom, discipline and understanding" (Pro 23:23). For, compared to wisdom and understanding, all the other things of this world that might be possessed are like dross or garbage (Phi 3:4-8).

Pro 3:16

Vv 16-18: "Wisdom is here represented as a bright and bountiful queen, reaching forth gifts to her faithful and loving subjects, and offering them to all that will submit to her government" (Henry). A beautiful woman is approaching! And she is calling out (Pro 1:20-23)! She is calling out -- wonder of wonders! -- for you (Pro 8:1-4)! She invites you to a banquet at her house (Pro 9:1-5)! All she asks is that you esteem her and embrace her (Pro 4:8) -- she will provide the rest! If you love her, she will endow you with the richest blessings: long life, riches, and honor (Pro 8:17-19)! How can you resist such an astounding invitation and situation (Pro 3:13-18)? This is the powerful allure of "Queen Wisdom" -- yet, amazingly, many reject this offer altogether, and pass by... only to consume their substance on glitz and glamour, and husks that cannot sustain life.

"It's good to have the things money can buy, provided you don't lose the things money can't buy. What good is an expensive house if there's no happy home within it? Happiness, pleasantness, and peace aren't the guaranteed by-products of financial success, but they are guaranteed to the person who lives by God's wisdom. Wisdom becomes a 'tree of life' to the believer who takes hold of her, and this is a foretaste of [God's heavenly kingdom] (Rev 22:1,2)" (Wiersbe).

LONG LIFE IS IN HER RIGHT HAND: Long life is God's reward for obedience (Pro 10:2; 11:4; Deu 4:40; 5:16; 6:2). Solomon connected long life with wisdom (Pro 3:1,2; 4:10; 9:11; 10:27; 13:14). How can wisdom extend your life? It can save you from evil and adulterous women (Pro 2:16-18), from the judgment of God (Pro 3:4), from the revenge of jealous husbands (Pro 6:34), from disease (Pro 15:13; 17:22), the from the executioner (Pro 16:14), from a dangerous lifestyle (Pro 1:15-19), from accidents (Pro 22:3), an odious woman (Pro 30:21-23; Ecc 7:26), and from drunkenness (Pro 23:29-35).

IN HER LEFT HAND ARE RICHES AND HONOR: Notice that these are blessings also, but not as great as the blessing found in the RIGHT hand -- which is eternal life! In comparison with "life", all others are but collateral, or subsidiary, blessings.

RICHES: "Riches are financial and professional success. Solomon taught excellent economic wisdom in his proverbs. He preached diligence (Pro 10:4), faithfulness (Pro 27:18), savings (Pro 6:6-8), giving (Pro 11:24,25), career planning (Pro 24:27), and capital investment (Pro 14:4). He warned against debt (Pro 22:7), spending (Pro 21:20), exorbitant interest that oppresses the poor (Pro 28:8), waste (Pro 12:27), risk (Pro 22:3), contingent liabilities (Pro 6:1-5), excessive sleep (Pro 20:13), get-rich-quick schemes (Pro 14:23; 28:19), unwarranted fear (Pro 22:13), cornering a market (Pro 11:26), and deceptive advertising and negotiating (Pro 20:14)" (LGBT, modified).

HONOR: Honor is personal respect from others. Wisdom leads to honor (Pro 3:35; 4:8; 8:18). It secures a good name and favor with others (Pro 3:4; 22:1). Solomon taught, among other things, as rules for honor, a gracious spirit (Pro 11:16; 22:11), avoiding and/or ending strife (Pro 20:3), searching out matters -- ie, getting one's facts straight (Pro 25:2), humility (Pro 29:23), using few words (Pro 17:27,28), earnest and interested counsel (Pro 27:9), handling matters wisely (Pro 16:20), and marrying a virtuous and diligent woman (Pro 31:23).

Pro 3:17

HER WAYS ARE PLEASANT WAYS: Literally, "her ways are ways of pleasantness" (as the AV). Cp Psa 16:11: "You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand." And Psa 110:1: "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet."

AND ALL HER PATHS ARE PEACE: "There is not only peace in the end, but peace in the way; not only in the way of religion in general, but in the particular paths of that way, in all her paths, all the several acts, instances, and duties of it. One [hand] does not embitter what the other sweetens, as it is with the alloys of this world; but they are all peace, not only sweet, but safe" (Henry). This is the "peace of God, which transcends all understanding" (Phi 4:7). "You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you" (Isa 26:3). "Great peace have they who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble" (Psa 119:165). "Peace: the more we grow in the Truth, the more we value it. This grows bigger and bigger to us, and everything else grows smaller. Godly peace, eternal peace -- peace with God. If we have this, we have everything. Nothing else matters: even this present life itself. It is freely available to all. It is entirely up to us whether we have it or not. External circumstances have no bearing on it. It is strictly between us and God. Like everything else in this orderly universe, it is the result of a cause. The entire scientific, industrial, agricultural world is built on the immutable fact that certain causes always bring certain results, from baking a loaf of bread to landing a man on the moon. A chemical formula always works exactly the same under the same conditions. Vary the conditions slightly, and you vary the result, and the variation of result is always the same for the same variation of cause. So it is with peace. Follow the exact, God-given formula, and it will come. Ignore the formula, or be careless about it, and -- though you move heaven and earth -- the result will never, never come. God gives us the formula very plainly: total love, total devotion, total service, total striving against sin in every form, aspect and manifestation. Beat your head forever against the inevitable if you wish, but for the Peace of God you will be forced to come at last to this. There is no other way" (GVG).

Pro 3:18

SHE IS A TREE OF LIFE TO THOSE WHO EMBRACE HER: The metaphor compares wisdom to the symbol of vitality and fullness of life. This might be an allusion to Gen 3:22, suggesting that what was lost in the Fall -- eternal life and fellowship with God -- may be recovered through wisdom. "If the world enticing to sin, be fitly represented by the serpent-entwined tree, imparting death to its victim, Christ, who 'has overcome the world' (John 16:33), as the giver of life to His people, is well set forth by the other tree in the midst of the garden; which was a beautiful emblem of incarnated power and wisdom (Pro 3:13-18; 1Co 1:24) of the Deity, planted as the Tree of Life in the future Paradise of God (Rev 22:2)" (Elp).

THOSE WHO LAY HOLD OF HER WILL BE BLESSED: "Fight the good fight of the faith. TAKE HOLD of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses" (1TI 6:12). Wisdom is not only the means for success and happiness in this life, but in the next as well. The man who lays hold of wisdom and retains her obtains assurance and sure hope of eternal life (Mat 7:21-23; Acts 10:34,35; 2Pe 1:5-11). The greatest life and happiness are reserved for those who obey the Lord Jesus Christ.

To "lay hold" is, in this instance, not just to grasp, but to hold fast -- no matter the consequences: It catches the sentiments of the Shullamite when at last she found her Lover (who plainly represents Christ to the body of believers): "Scarcely had I passed them when I found the one my heart loves. I held him and would not let him go..." (Song 3:4). And it does the same for the belabored Jacob, who finds to his surprise that he has mistakenly laid hands on an Angel of God, but now knows that he must not let him go until he is specially blessed (Gen 32:26)!

"Mark how that great word 'life' is here gathering to itself at least the beginnings of higher conceptions than those of simple existence. It is swelling like a bud, and preparing to open and disclose the perfect flower, the life which stands in the knowledge of God and the Christ whom He has sent. Jesus, the incarnate Wisdom, is himself 'the Tree of Life in the midst of the paradise of God.' The condition of access to it is 'laying hold' by the outstretched hand of faith, and keeping hold with holy obstinacy of grip, in spite of all temptations to slack our grasp. That retaining is the condition of true blessedness" (Maclaren).

"Faith lays hold on the person of Christ as a Saviour, and will have him and no other; it comes to the blood of Christ, and deals with it for pardon and purification; it lays hold on his skirt, who is a Jew, [Zec 8:23; Luk 8:44] on the robe of his righteousness, and puts it on; it lays hold on his strength, and goes forth in it, in the exercise of grace and discharge of duty; it lays hold on his covenant, the blessings and promises of it, and takes them to itself" (Gill).

Pro 3:19

BY WISDOM THE LORD LAID THE EARTH'S FOUNDATIONS, BY UNDERSTANDING HE SET THE HEAVENS IN PLACE: This is parallel to -- and a preview of -- Pro 8:22-31. "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth" (Gen 1:1). "Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear (Heb 11:3). See also Psa 33:6; 104:24; 136:5; Jer 10:12.

Furthermore, the personified "Wisdom" that accompanied God in the very beginning of His natural creation will find its truest fulfillment and most profound expression in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, "the Word of God made flesh" (Joh 1:1,14), "the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being" (Heb 1:1-3), who was revealed in the beginning of the Father's spiritual "creation" (1Jo 1:1,2).

SET THE HEAVENS IN PLACE: God has provided (1) heavens: here; (2) rain: Psa 147:8; (3) light and sun: Psa 74:16; and (4) grain: Psa 65:9.

Pro 3:20

V 20: Two great epochs seem to be in view here: (1) the Genesis creation of the world, and (2) the Noachic flood. Each, of course, is a great divine act of re-creation, or renewal. By the first God brought order out of a chaotic, "without-form-and-void" earth. And by the second He brought a new moral order out of a sinful, God-defying world.

Secondly, each of these great creative acts are, and were intended to be, typical and prophetic of the New (spiritual) Creation which the Father would bring into existence through His Son. As to the "Genesis" creation, compare, eg, Col 1:15-18; 2Co 4:6; Joh 1:1-14. But the "re-creation" of the world, in the days of Noah, is also a type of the judgments that will fall upon the earth when that same Son of God returns to bring his Father's Kingdom of peace and renewal to a beleaguered world (cp Mat 24:37,38; Luk 17:26,27; 1Pe 3:20; 2Pe 2:5).

BY HIS KNOWLEDGE THE DEEPS WERE DIVIDED: The "deeps" are the oceans which God gathered together out of the primeval chaos, in the beginning of His creation (Gen 1:9: Job 38:8; Psa 104:8,9). Out of these deeps, at the appointed time, He brough the great flood of Noah's day (Gen 7:10). This flood was brought about by God's wisdom, not because He lost His patience and temper with mankind. God destroyed mankind because of His grief (Gen 6:6) -- and He did so because He planned on saving the world through water (1Pe 3:20). Noah and the faithful were saved from corruption, when God destroyed the world that threatened to destroy them. (Likewise, and for the same purpose, God broke up, or divided, the waters of the Red Sea -- so that His people Israel might be saved, through the destruction of their enemies, into a new "world order": cp Exo 14:16,21; Neh 9:11; Psa 78:13; Isa 63:12.)

AND THE CLOUDS LET DROP THE DEW: This could be a general statement of God's loving provision of moisture from the heavens, to sustain life on the earth (cf Gen 27:28; Job 36:28). (And, as to its spiritual connections, it is symbolic of God's regenerative Word of truth, which drops down upon the earth like the beneficient dew: cf Deu 32:2.) But in this context, is it perhaps a reference to the rains preceding the Great Flood (Gen 7:4; Job 37:11-13)?

THE DEW: "There is a very remarkable and regular provision of Nature, peculiar to Bible lands, which may be observed in a first sight of Palestine on any night in the hot season when a west wind is blowing. I allude to the sea night-mist of the hot season. It explains in a very striking and hitherto unsuspected manner the numerous occurrences of the Hebrew word 'tal', uniformly rendered 'dew' in the AV. Some of these have presented hitherto unanswerable difficulties, such as the statement of the wise man that 'the clouds drop down the "dew" ' (Pro 3:20), which, if 'dew' in the scientific sense of the word is understood, is just what they do not, no dew ever forming when clouds are about. Again, the words in Isaac's blessing, 'God give thee of the "dew" of heaven' (Gen 27:28); those of Moses, summing up the precious things of heaven in the 'dew' (Deu 33:13); the power of an absolute eastern king being likened to 'a "dew" upon the grass' (Pro 19:12); and Israel's future influence amongst the nations to 'a "dew" from Jehovah' (Mic 5:7); such words as these, and those in many other passages, bespeak a peculiar excellence and value which dew does not possess even amongst us, and still less in Palestine, where it only occurs in the winter, the time of abundant heavy rains, which render it comparatively useless!

"It was my good fortune, as a result of my residence in Jerusalem, to discover the deeply interesting natural feature which is called in our version 'dew,' and fully to realise in what its importance and excellence consists (Hos 14:5). From the end of April till about the end of October no drop of rain falls; while each day, for some ten or twelve hours, the sun shines with great strength, unveiled by a single cloud. This fierce wind is in May and October intensified by a burning wind, the sirocco, which gathers its withering, scorching power as it sweeps over the vast sands of the Arabian desert, and is the awful 'east wind' of the Bible. During this period, but more especially at its close, in September and October, the west wind, which then prevails, comes up laden with moisture from the Mediterranean Sea, which is condensed in low-lying clouds of mist as soon as it reaches the land. These cloud-masses sweep along near the ground, leaving behind them an immense amount of what is misnamed in our version 'dew,' but which is really a very fine, gentle rain in the form of a light Scotch mist.

"Its great excellence consists: (1) in its coming only in the hottest and driest season, when no other moisture can be had; (2) in its only coming during the night, 'when no man can work,' and so interfering in no way with the business or pleasures of life; (3) in its coming in such rich abundance as far to exceed the moisture deposited by any formation of dew; (4) in its coming in such fine particles and moderate quantities as not even to hurt the gathered grain lying out on the open-air threshing-floors; and (5) in its effects ceasing as soon as the sun is hot, and so leaving no miasmic or other injurious results behind, whence it is well called by Hosea, 'the night-mist which early goes away.'

"This explanation exactly accounts for 'the clouds' being said 'to drop' it down, which is just what they do. Very beautiful are the silvery shining mist-clouds which may be seen as the day dawns being drawn up and dissolved into thin air, the fugitive clouds to which Hosea (Hos 6:4) compares Israel's brief and transient seasons of goodness -- 'Your goodness is like the morning cloud, and like the nightmist (tal) which early goes away.' It also displays the naturalness of the great amount of tal, or 'night-mist,' which fell miraculously on Gideon's fleece (Jdg 6:38). It adds a new intensity to our Saviour's pathetic appeal in Song 5:2, 'Open to me... for my head is filled with the night-mist (tal), and my locks with the drops of the night.' There is an icy chill often attending exposure to the 'night-mist' which is not experienced on a dewy night, the latter being always fine. In a word, let 'night mist' be written in each of the thirty-four places in our Bible where 'dew' occurs, and it will be found to give a new meaning and a new beauty in every instance! What fresh point and power now clothe the gracious promise in Hos 14:5, 'I will be as the night-mist (tal) to Israel'! and also that beautiful but difficult passage, Psa 110:3!" (James Neil, BI).

Pro 3:21

Vv 21-26: "This section forms an admonition to keep on the way of wisdom (v 21) along with promises for such compliance (vv 22-26). If the disciple diligently preserves sound judgment and discernment, he can be confident that the Lord will guide and protect him. But he cannot let them out of his sight for a moment (v 21). Whoever trusts and follows sound judgment in his life of righteousness will find not only strength and beauty in wisdom (v 22) but also preservation in action and repose (vv 23,24) -- in normal life and in times of disaster (vv 25,26). In other words, his life will be enriched (v 22), safe and secure (vv 23,24), and without fear (v 25). True spiritual discernment that places its confidence in the LORD will not be disappointed (v 26)" (EBC).

Part of the power of this section (vv 21-26) is that it immediately follows vv 19,20 -- where the wisdom of God is seen in its cosmic proportions. In short, the same "wisdom" that framed the whole universe, and keeps it in motion... is the "wisdom" of which we may avail ourselves in daily life! The God who keeps the stars in their courses, and the seasons in their proper order, and the oceans in their beds... is the same God who watches over every humble child of His, as they wake and sleep, and secures them from all dangers -- physical and spiritual.

MY SON, PRESERVE SOUND JUDGMENT AND DISCERNMENT, DO NOT LET THEM OUT OF YOUR SIGHT: The NIV -- like the RSV -- transposes the two phrases in this verse, so as more easily to provide antecedents ("sound judgment and discernment) to the "them".

Wisdom which is not remembered might as well not exist at all! If it "slips away" from us, then we shall be lost: "Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip" (Heb 2:1, which quotes the LXX of this verse).

"Instruction for success in any endeavor is only as profitable as the hearer’s ability to remember and apply the knowledge to the specified task. Warnings about danger in any situation are only as valuable as the hearer’s ability to remember and apply the advice when facing the threat. A great hindrance to success for many is a poor memory!

"The blessed God of Israel knew this danger. After giving wonderful laws, precepts, and statutes to Israel through Moses, He warned them not to forget what He had taught them (Deu 4:9,23; 2Ki 17:37,38). He knew that prosperity was a curse to memory, for luxury induces laxity and impairs the conscience (Deu 6:10-12; 8:7-20).

"To counter this problem, God commanded fathers to diligently teach His laws to their children when in the house, when traveling, when preparing for sleep, and when getting up (Deu 6:6,7). He required diligence comparable to tying signs to hands, putting frontlets between eyes, and writing His laws on the posts of their houses (Deu 6:8,9)!

"Forgetting teaching is dangerous! The church at Corinth forgot the resurrection of the dead that Paul had taught them, which stole the hope and joy of the gospel from them (1Co 15:2,19). The gospel must be kept in memory. The world assaults your senses every moment you are awake with their enticements, which are entirely opposed to the truth of God. What are you doing to defend yourself from this assault and retain His wisdom?

"Do you know your weak memory? Do you understand that prosperity and activity dull it further? What are you doing to review, remember, and retain what you have been taught? Do you have any mechanism in place to review [exhortations], remember lessons, or retain advice? If you speak to another about applying wisdom, then two would remember!" (LGBT).

Pro 3:22

THEY WILL BE LIFE FOR YOU: AV has "life unto thy soul", but here is one of the myriad of places where "soul" plainly means the whole person, body and spirit, etc.

AN ORNAMENT TO GRACE YOUR NECK: See Pro 1:9n; also Pro 3:3n. The old Scots preacher Alexander Maclaren had this to say about natural "beauty" and spiritual "beauty" -- with judgment and discernment providing the proper adornment: "The blessings flowing from Wisdom are again dilated on, from a somewhat different point of view. She is the giver of life. And then she adorns the life she gives. One has seen homely faces so refined and glorified by the fair soul that shone through them as to be, 'as it were, the face of an angel.' Gracefulness should be the outward token of inward grace. Some good people forget that they are bound to 'adorn the doctrine.' But they who have drunk most deeply of the fountain of Wisdom will find that, like the fabled spring, its waters confer strange loveliness. Lives spent in communion with Jesus will be lovely, however homely their surroundings, and however vulgar eyes, taught only to admire [striking] colours, may find them dull. The world saw 'no beauty that they should desire him,' whom holy souls and heavenly angels and the divine Father deemed 'fairer than the sons of men'!"

And so Paul spoke of the sisters, "I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God" (1Ti 2:9,10). Such "ornaments" far surpass the stylish dress, refined cosmetics, expensive jewelry, and clever hairdos that are supposed to enhance "beauty" on a natural level. Or, to make very much the same point on the negative side, Solomon elsewhere wrote: "Like a gold ring in a pig's snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion" (Pro 11:22).

Pro 3:23

THEN YOU WILL GO ON YOUR WAY IN SAFETY: "Safety" is the Hebrew "betach", signifying security, or a place of refuge (cp Pro 1:33). "The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever. My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest" (Isa 32:17,18). "Thou shalt ever go under a double guard, 'the peace of God' within thee (Phi 4:7), and the 'power of god' without thee (1Pe 1:5)” (Trapp).

AND YOUR FOOT WILL NOT STUMBLE: "Stumble" is literally "to strike or smite", as against a stone (cp Psa 91:12; Pro 4:12; 1Pe 2:8; Rom 9:33).

Pro 3:24

WHEN YOU LIE DOWN: As the flock in Eze 34:15.

YOU WILL NOT BE AFRAID: "The verb 'pakhad' ('terror') describes emotion that is stronger than mere fear -- it is dread" (NETn). Cp generally Psa 3:6; 4:8; 116:7; 27:2; Pro 6:22; Job 11:18. And ct Deu 28:66 and Job 7:4.

WHEN YOU LIE DOWN, YOUR SLEEP WILL BE SWEET: Cp Jer 31:26: "My sleep had been pleasant (sw) to me."

"He who did keep me waking
Has kept me still
Through the dark, silent night;
And now I thrill
To greet once more the light.
¶ "His power unseen, from sleep
Unlocked my eyes,
With strength afresh renewed;
And I arise
With song of gratitude.
¶ "Thus, if death's night at length
Should darkly close,
And in my earthly bed, confined and deep,
I take repose,
Stiller, profounder sleep,
¶ "To know a yet more marvellous waking,
A fairer morn...
May I with gladness say
I slept, but wake new-born
To brighter day" (B. Ladson).

Pro 3:25

HAVE NO FEAR OF SUDDEN DISASTER: Cp Job 22:10: "sudden peril", in the form of "snares" (cp also "snared" in v 26). "Disaster" is actually "terror" ("pakhad": sw v 24) -- here meaning the object of that terror, the "ruin" of the next phrase. "Do not give way to fear" (1Pe 3:6).

OR OF THE RUIN THAT OVERTAKES THE WICKED: Cp Mat 8:24; 24:6,15; Luk 21:18-28.

Pro 3:26

FOR THE LORD WILL BE YOUR CONFIDENCE: Or, "the LORD will be at your side", OR "the LORD will be your confidence". There is debate whether the term "kesel" is related to the root for "loins, side" or another, similar root for "confidence". Either way, the basic point is quite the same. "The LORD is my light and my salvation-- whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life -- of whom shall I be afraid? When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh, [ Or to slander me ] when my enemies and my foes attack me, they will stumble and fall. Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident" (Psa 27:1-3).

"David thought the men of Israel should have lined up for a chance to fight Goliath (1Sa 17). Three Hebrew men had no regard for the fury or threats of Nebuchadnezzar (Dan 3:16-18). Peter and John boldly testified against the same Jews who crucified their Lord (Acts 4:13). And Paul stood alone to give answer before Emperor Nero (2Ti 4:16-18).

"The horse is prepared and trained for battle, but safety is of the LORD (Pro 21:31). A wise man makes only a reasonable effort, for he knows that success is from the LORD (Psa 127:1). He does not fret or overextend himself, and he goes to bed on time (Psa 127:2). He puts his trust in the name of the LORD, his strong tower (cp Pro 18:10).

"But what about the unseen pestilence or disease frightening others? 'Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked' (Psa 91:5-8).

"But what about economic disaster? 'Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation' (Hab 3:17,18).

"No matter what difficulty or threat is facing you, be confident the LORD will deliver and save you. Do not faint, but rather believe! Go forward in faith! Do what you need to do, then go to bed! 'I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD' (Psa 27:13,14)" (LGBT).

We ought to remember that Christ himself slept during a terrible storm (Mar 4:37,38). He could enjoy supper and serving others just hours before his betrayal and crucifixion (Joh 13:1-5). This same Jesus promised, "I will never leave you, nor forsake you" (Heb 13:5). What should be our response to this? "So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me" (Heb 13:6). Saints go to sleep by saying, "I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety" (Psa 4:8).

And so Noah found this security in the midst of the great flood; and Lot in the destruction of Sodom (2Pe 2:5-9); and the Christians in the city of Pella when great destruction came upon the wicked in the city of Jerusalem. Peter, in prison and in chains, between two soldiers, did sleep so sweetly, that even the wondrous activity of the delivering angel did not disturb him, so that it required the angel's touch to wake him (Act 12:6,7). "When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near" (Luk 21:28; cp 2Th 1:7-10).

AND WILL KEEP YOUR FOOT FROM BEING SNARED:"The noun 'lakhed' ('capture; snare') occurs only here in OT (BDB 540; HAL 2:530). It is figurative for the calamity of v 25. God will protect the wise (or, righteous) from the consequences of sin (snares) that afflict the wicked" (NETn).

Pro 3:27

DO NOT WITHHOLD GOOD FROM THOSE WHO DESERVE IT, WHEN IT IS IN YOUR POWER TO ACT: The NT contains many exhortations to kindness, charity, and hospitality: eg, Rom 12:13; 13:7; Gal 6:10; Heb 13:2; Tit 1:8; Jam 2:15,16; 5:4; 1Pe 4:9; Mat 25:40; Luk 10:29-37; 14:12-14.

FROM THOSE WHO DESERVE IT: "From them to whom it is due" (AV). The MT has "from its possessors" and the LXX simply has "from the poor." Perhaps the best synthesis of this is: the poor are those who should possess the "good", because it is their due -- according to the Law of Moses (cf the laws for gleaning: Lev 19:9,10; 23:22; Deu 24:19). Alternatively, vv 27,28 may be referring to legitimate debts -- which certainly ought to be paid, and not necessarily to acts of charity. (For another example, not only does the employer have an obligation to pay the employee in a timely manner, but the employee has an obligation to do a good day's work for his or her employer.) But the LXX reading of "the poor" seems to point to the broader interpretation.

WHEN IT IS IN YOUR POWER TO ACT: Literally, "when it is in your hand to do" (cp Gen 31:29; Deu 28:32; Neh 5:5; Mic 2:1).

The "debts" that come to mind first are rent payments, shared expenses, wages for services, returning borrowed items, repairing damaged property, refunding overpayments, replacing stolen things, returning unused deposits, and so forth. The duty to pay these debts on a timely basis comes from God's laws, as well as the laws of men (Rom 13:7,8). In the Law, God demanded prompt pay for laborers (Lev 19:13; Deu 24:14,15)!

But there are other debts, of a different order, debts that are created by the merciful provisions and requirements of God alone. We know that the LORD made both rich and poor men (Pro 22:2). Rich men did not get wealthy simply by their own abilities -- God Himself has surely had a hand in their accumulation of wealth (Psa 75:6,7; Ecc 9:11; 1Co 4:7). And God expects them to share some of their abundance with those who have less (Psa 112:9; 1Ti 6:17-19). Since God expects the rich to consider the poor, the mere need of the poor -- when observed and understood -- creates an obligation.

When God brings a person into a man's life with legitimate needs, and that man has the ability to help him or her, then by God's standard that help is due! Godliness and wisdom create the debt! God is expecting payment to them, and He will hold the rich guilty, if he chooses not to pay. For example, it is our divine obligation to help widows and orphans in need that God brings our way (Job 29:12,13; 31:16-23; Isa 1:17; 58:6,7; Jam 1:27).

The Bible mentions persons and ecclesias by name that were generous givers (Joh 12:3; Act 4:36,37; Rom 15:26; 1Co 16:15; 2Co 8:1-5; 9:1,2; Phi 4:10-19; Phm 1:4-7).

"By charitable uses is meant the relief of the helpless, the sick, the needy, etc. The great, the opulent, and the able should undertake the principal share in this duty. They are stewards, and must give an account. Their good deeds ought to bear proportion to their abilities. Everybody looks with abhorrence upon a man who is ever amassing riches without laying anything out in charitable uses; as greedy as the sea and as barren as the shore. Those whose circumstances are but just easy, who can only just meet the demands of their families, claim to be totally exempted from the performance of this duty. But often such persons have secret indulgences, which form their real excuse. Those in straitened circumstances think they have nothing to do in the works of charity. Rich and poor are equally concerned in the duty, but in proportion to their circumstances. He that has little is as strictly bound to give something out of that little as he that has more is obliged to give more. Charity consists in doing the best we can and doing it with a willing mind. The smallest present imaginable may be the greatest bounty. The only persons who have a fair right of pleading an entire exemption from this duty are those whose circumstances are deeply involved; for until we can satisfy our creditors we ought not to relieve the poor. It would be unjust to give away what is not our own. There is much difficulty in pitching upon any fixed and stated proportion short of which our charity ought not to fall. Where the determinate measure of duty is not or cannot be assigned, there men's interests or covetousness will be ever suggesting excuses for the nonperformance of it. In this we ought to follow the rule laid down in all doubtful cases, ie, to choose the part which is least dangerous. In the exercise of charity we should rather exceed than fall short, for fear of incurring the guilt of uncharitableness. The Jews had to appropriate the tenth part of their revenue every three years to charitable uses. This was a thirtieth part of their yearly revenue. We should not at any time fall short of this measure" (Seed, BI).

Pro 3:28

DO NOT SAY TO YOUR NEIGHBOR, "COME BACK LATER; I'LL GIVE IT TOMORROW": This counsels the speedy fulfillment of one's obligations: "Pay him [your employee] his wages each day before sunset, because he is poor and is counting on it. Otherwise he may cry to the LORD against you, and you will be guilty of sin" (Deu 24:15). "Do not hold back the wages of a hired man overnight" (Lev 19:13). These verses seem to be cited in Jam 5:4 as well.

And more generally, this refers not just to wages owed, but to any favor or blessing or obligation, promised or contracted or obliged. The old writer Grotius says, "A slow-footed favor is a favor without favor." And the philosopher Seneca wrote, "The benefit is thankless which sticks long between the hands of the giver." In other words, "Do it when you can, for doing it too late is not really doing it at all!" The positive aspect of the same proverb is: "He gives twice who gives promptly."

WHEN YOU NOW HAVE IT WITH YOU: "Come back later", in this context, can be a cover for selfishness. There is the secret, or unspoken, hope that the matter will be forgotten, or other circumstances will intervene, and the "debt" -- whatever it is -- will never need to be repaid. Generally, see Mat 5:42: "Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you." See also Luk 11:5-8; Jam 2:15,16.

Pro 3:29

DO NOT PLOT HARM AGAINST YOUR NEIGHBOR: The verb "kharash" means "to cut in; to engrave; to plough; to devise." The idea of plotting is metaphorical for working, practicing or fabricating (cp the usage, Hos 10:13; Pro 6:14; Job 4:8; Psa 129:3). This phrase is not describing harm done in the heat of the moment (wrong though that might be also), but wrong carefully devised or crafted -- a carefully premeditated wrong!

WHO LIVES TRUSTFULLY NEAR YOU: Such a sin is further compounded if the neighbor is totally innocent and unsuspecting. Bible examples of this: Jacob's sons' murder of the unsuspecting Shechemites (Gen 34:13-29; 49:5-7), Saul's malice against David when he was under his protection (1Sa 18:22-26), Joab's murders of Abner and Amasa (2Sa 3:27; 20:9,10), and Ishmael's of Gedaliah (Jer 40:1,2).

Pro 3:30

DO NOT ACCUSE A MAN FOR NO REASON: The word most reasonably signifies a legal accusation, a formal complaint before witnesses and authorities. Cp 2Ti 2:24.

WHEN HE HAS DONE YOU NO HARM: Or, even, says the NEW law, IF he HAS done you harm! Cp 1Co 6:6-10; Mat 5:39-41.

Pro 3:31

DO NOT ENVY A VIOLENT MAN OR CHOOSE ANY OF HIS WAYS: "Envy" (cp esp Psa 73:3-5, as well as Psa 37:1,7) may carry the connotation of "imitating" as well. The word "violent" refers to physical violence, social injustice, harsh treatment, wild ruthlessness, injurious words, hatred, and general rudeness (BDB).

"Whether public or private, the man who 'grinds the faces of the poor' by severity and extortion, may succeed, may prosper; may, by this means, amass a fortune, and rise to still higher honour. He is not to be envied; not only because envy is in itself wrong, but also because there is really nothing in his character and career to produce it. His prosperity is not to be envied even by the poorest and most suffering victim of his oppression. And while he is not to be envied, far less are his ways to be imitated for the sake of obtaining the envied results -- the same wealth, the same greatness, the same power" (Wardlaw).

Pro 3:32

Vv 32-35: This warning of v 31 is followed by the reasons, expressed in a series of contrasts. On the one side, the LORD detests the perverse (v 32), curses the house of the wicked (v 33), mocks proud mockers (v 34), and holds fools up to shame (v 35). But the upright He is pleased with the upright (v 32), blesses their home (v 33), gives grace to the humble (v 34), and bequeaths honor to the wise (v 35).

FOR THE LORD DETESTS: That is, counts as an abominable thing.

A PERVERSE MAN: One who "goes astray" (cf Pro 2:15; 4:12).

BUT TAKES THE UPRIGHT INTO HIS CONFIDENCE: The noun "sod" can refer to (1) an "intimate circle" of friends and confidants; (2) "confidential discussion" among friends and confidants, or "secret counsel" revealed from one confidant to another and kept secret; and (3) a relationship of "intimacy" with a person (BDB, HAL). God reveals His secret counsel to the heavenly assembly (Job 15:8; Jer 23:18,22) and to His prophets (Amo 3:7). God has brought the angels into His "intimate circle" (Psa 89:8). Likewise, those who fear the LORD enjoy an intimate relationship with Him (Job 29:4; Psa 25:14). The perverse are repugnant to the LORD, but He takes the upright into His confidence and brings him into His intimate circle.

"The secret of total happiness and total contentment is total love of God. This is the whole meaning and purpose of life. This is that for which we were created and are divinely destined. This solves all problems and assuages all sorrows. This is peace" (GVG).

Pro 3:33

THE LORD'S CURSE IS ON THE HOUSE OF THE WICKED: The "house" of the wicked may be a strong and stately mansion, with many servants, and goods aplenty. But it will be nonetheless cursed, if its owner abides in wickedness. The noun "me'erah" connotes banishment or separation from the place of blessing. It is the antonym of "berakah", or "blessing". The curse of God brings ruin and failure to crops, land in general, an individual, or the nation (Deu 28:20; Zec 5:2-4; Mal 2:2; 3:9). "The curse may work silently and slowly; but it is as a fretting leprosy; it will consume the timber thereof and the stones thereof (Zec 5:4; Hab 2:11)" (Henry).

Ahab multiplied his HOUSE beyond all human need, as if to defy the curse pronounced against it. yet at one stroke it was all swept away (1Ki 21:20-22; 2Ki 10:1-11). Similar examples: Jeroboam (1Ki 14:9-11; Amo 7:9), Baasha (1Ki 16:1-4,12,13), Jehu (2Ki 14:8-12), Hazael (Amo 1:4), Jehoiakim (Jer 22:13-19), and Esau (Oba 1:18).

THE WICKED: The term "wicked" is singular; the term "righteous" in the second half of the verse is plural. In scripture such changes often hint at God's reluctance to curse, but His eagerness to bless. This is the pattern in His promise to Abraham: "And I will bless THEM that bless thee, and curse HIM that curseth thee" (Gen 12:3).

BUT HE BLESSES THE HOME OF THE RIGHTEOUS: The Hebrew "naveh" -- "home" -- suggests "habitation, or hut"; it may refer to the humble abode of the shepherd in the country, in contrast to the great "household" of the wicked. It suggests the blessings of a simple life, close to the land, and close to God Himself, ie in Kingdom (cf Mic 4:4). Likewise, the ark of the covenant brought a blessing to the house of Obed-edom all the while it was there (2Sa 6:11).

"When the LORD curses, no man or group of men can bless! When the LORD blesses, no man or confederacy of men can curse! Balak hired Balaam to curse Israel, in order to save Moab; but God blessed Israel, and cursed Moab (Num 22:1 -- 24:25)!" (LGBT).

"It is a very impressive experience to enter the house of a great magnate whose wealth has been obtained by questionable means. The rooms are beautiful; works by the great masters shed their radiance of eternal truth from the walls; the library gleams with the well-bound books of moralists and religions teachers. The sons and daughters of the house are fair and elegant; the smile of prosperity is in every curtained and carpeted room, and seems to beam out of every illuminated window; and yet the sensitive spirit cannot be rid of the idea that 'the curse of the Lord is in the house. On the other hand, the honorable man whose paths have been directed by the Lord, no matter whether he be wealthy or merely in receipt, as the result of a life's labor, of his 'daily bread' has a blessing in his house. Men trust him and honor him. His wealth flows as a fertilizing stream, or if it run dry, his friends, who love him for himself, make him feel that it was a good thing to lose it in order to find them. In proportion as the fierce struggle of competition has made the path of fair dealing more difficult, they who walk in it are the more honored and loved. Nowhere does Wisdom smile more graciously or open her hand to bless more abundantly, than in the later years of a life which has in its earlier days been exposed, and has offered a successful resistance, to the strong temptations of unrighteous gain" (EB).

Pro 3:34

HE MOCKS PROUD MOCKERS: "The proud and arrogant man -- 'Mocker' is his name; he behaves with overweening pride" (Pro 21:24). "To the crooked you show yourself perverse" (Psa 18:26). "The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at [the arrogant and rebellious]" (Psa 2:4). "Witness the Babel-builders (Gen 11:1-9); Pharaoh (Exo 14:13); Sennacherib (Isa 37:33-38); the proud opposers of His gospel (Psa 2:1-4) -- all the objects of His scorn. But most hateful to Him is the sinner, who will not submit to His righteousness" (Bridges).

BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE: Cp Mat 5:5. The parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector, both praying in the Temple, could easily be based on this proverb (Luk 18:9-14). Others who found grace in their humility: the centurion (Mat 8:5-10), the Canaanite woman (Mat 15:21-28). Furthermore, this proverb -- as in the LXX -- seems to be quoted twice in the NT, in Jam 4:6 and 1Pe 5:5. The special relevance to these two citations is that both James and Peter deal with the afflictions of the righteous (Jam 1:1-14; 1Pe 1:6-9), and thus the need to encourage those afflicted with the reminder of present grace, as well as the hope of future blessing.

God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble. So we must humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God that He might exalt us in due time (James 4:10; 1Pe 5:6) -- for the "grace" of God leads to the "glory" -- or "honor" (v 35) -- of God (Psa 84:11; cp 2Co 3:18)! Thus the LORD says, "I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite" (Isa 57:15). "This is what the LORD says: 'Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Where is the house you will build for me? Where will my resting place be? Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?' declares the LORD. 'This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word' " (Isa 66:1,2).

Among others, God gave grace to Noah (Gen 6:8), Abraham (Gen 18:3,17–19), Lot (Gen 19:19), Moses (Exo 33:12,13; 34:9), Gideon (Jdg 6:17), and David (2Sa 15:25). And He promises grace to those Jews in the Last Days, who turn back to Him in repentance (Zec 12:10).

"The best of all the antidotes to scorn is the contemplation, honest, earnest, and sustained, of the example of our Saviour Christ. If superiority of any kind whatsoever could confer the right to be contemptuous, surely that right was his. But what saith he of himself, this King of kings? 'I am meek,' he says, 'and lowly in heart.' Yes, that is it; there lies the hiding of His power. There is no dash or touch or tinge of scorn to mar the perfect sweetness of his nature. Gracious he is, and clement, reassuring our timidity by the loving kindness of his smile, and through the pitifulness of his great mercy loosing those who are tied and bound by sin. If our religion means anything at all, means it not this, that a Christian's duty is the imitating of Christ? And are we imitators of him, if knowingly we go on letting the scornful temper rule our hearts in place of pity?" (Huntington, BI).

Pro 3:35

THE WISE INHERIT HONOR: "You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory" (Psa 73:24).

BUT FOOLS HE HOLDS UP TO SHAME: The noun "qalon" ("ignominy; dishonor; contempt") is from an alternate form of "qalal", which means (1) "to treat something lightly", (2) "to treat with contempt -- or, with little esteem" or (3) "to curse". The noun refers to personal disgrace or shame. While the wise will inherit honor, fools will be made a public display of dishonor. God lets fools entangle themselves in their folly in a way for all to see. And so it will be at the last judgment especially, where some will awake "to shame and everlasting contempt" (Dan 12:2). [But, by contrast, the "wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens... like the stars for ever and ever" (Dan 12:3; Mat 13:43)!]

HOLDS UP: Or, shame "shall be the promotion" of fools (AV). There is surely intended a contrast here: the "wise" are "promoted" or "lifted up" in the sight of all men, having great honor bestowed upon them. But the "fools" are "lifted up" in the sight of all men, only to be shamed and cursed! An example of such "lifting up" was Haman, who was hanged on the tall gallows he had erected for Mordecai (Est 7:10) -- a spectacle for all the world to see.

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