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New York and Toeokto. 








By EEV. W. J. DEANE, MA., 




ijomilctice : 
By rev. professor W. F. ADENEY, M.A. 

jgomilics lij) lliivions Qlntliors : 


New York and Toronto. 



§ 1. Name of the Book. 

Tff« book wTiicTi we are about to consider takes its geTieral title from the 
words with which it opens in the Hebrew original, " The Proverbs of 
Solomon ' — Mishle Shelomoh. This name, or, in an abbreviated form, Mishle, 
has always been carrent in the Jewish Chnrch. Later, in rabbinical writings, 
it was cited under the appellation of Sepher Ghocmah, ' Book of Wisdom,' 
which title also included Ecclesiastes. In the Septuagint it is headed 
Jlapoi/iLai SaXdi/iuJvTos in some manuscripts, though in others, and those the 
eariiest, the name of Solomon is omitted. St. Jerome, in the Latin Yulgate, 
gives a longer title : ' Liber Proverbiorum quem Hebraei Misle appellant.' 

Among the early Christian writers, in addition to the »ame given in the 
Septuagint, it was called 'S,o<j>ta, ' Wisdom,' or 'H IlavopcTos So<^ta, ' All- 
virtuous Wisdom,' though this last title was also applied to Ecclesiasticus 
and the Book of Wisdom. Clemens Romanus, in his 'Epistle to the 
Corinthians ' (i. 67), heads a quotation from" ch. i. 23 — 33 thus : Ovtws yap 
Ae-ya ^ HavaptToi Soi^ui, " Thus saith All-virtuous Wisdom." That this was 
commonly received as the designation of our book is clear also from 
Eusebius, who writes (' Hist. Eccl.,' iv. 22), " Other passages also, as if 
from unwritten Jewish tradition, Hegesippus cites; and not only he, but 
Irensens, and the whole band of ancient writers, called the 'Proverbs of 
Solomon ' ' Fanaretos Sophia.' " It is true that in the writings which are 
attributed to Irenaeus still extant, quotations from the Proverbs are cited 
simply as Scripture without further definition, bat we have no reason to 
discredit Eusebius's testimony concerning a matter with which he must have 
been well acquainted. Two other titles are found, viz. 'H 2o^^ BiyflXos, ' The 
Wise Book,' so called by Dionysius of Alexandria ; and IlatSayto-ytK^ %o^Ca, 
' Educational Wisdom,' by Gregory of Nazianzum. Melito of Sardis 
(according to Eusebius, 'Hist. Eccl.,' iv. 26) states, in giving a catalogue 



of canonical Soriptnres, that the book was known by the name of So^to, 
' Wisdom,' as weU as that of ' Proverbs of Solomon.' This title, which, 
better perhaps than that of Proverbs, expresses the chief subject of the 
work, seems not to have been invented by the primitive Christian writers, 
but to have been derived from still earlier times, and to hare been handed 
down by that unwritten Jewish tradition of which Eusebius speaks. 

In considering the appropriateness of the usual name of our book, we 
must see what is meant by the Jewish term mishJe, " proverbs," as we trans- 
late it. The word maghal has a much wider significance than our word 
" proverb." It ia derived from a root meaning " to be Kke," and therefore 
has primarily the meaning of comparison, similitude, and is applied to 
many discourses, sentences, and expressions which we should not class 
under the head of proverbs. Thus Balaam's prophecy is so called (Numb, 
xxii. 7, eta) ; so too Job's didactic poem (Job xxrii. 1) ; the taunting satire 
in Isa. xiv. 4, etc. ; the parables in Ezek. xvii. 2 and xz. 49, etc. ; the song 
in Numb. zzi. 27, etc. It is often translated " parable " in the Authorized 
Version, even in the book itself (oh. xxvi. 7), and in the historical psalm 
(IxxviiL), the second verse of which St. Matthew (xiii. 35) tells us Christ 
fulfilled when he spake by parables. This would lead us to expect to find 
other meanings ru the term and under the husk of the outward form. And, 
indeed, the Hebrew wiashal is not confined to wise or pithy sayings, express- 
ing in pointed terms the experience of m.en and ages; such an account 
would, as we see, be most inadequate to describe the various forms to which 
the term was applied. That there are in our book numerous apothegms 
and maxims, enforcing moral truths, explaining faqts in men's lives and the 
course of society, which are proverbs in the strictest sense of the word, i» 
obvious ; but a very large proportion of the utterances therein are not 
covered by that designation. If the notion of comparison at first restricted 
the term to sayings containing a simile, it soon overstepped the bounds of 
such limitation, and comprehended such brief sentences as conveyed a popular 
truth under figures or metaphors. Of this sort is the pointed query, " la 
Saul also among the prophets ? " (1 Sam. x. 12) ; and, " The fathers have 
eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge " (Ezek. xviii. 
2); and, "Physician, heal thyself" (Luke iv. 23). In many so^alled 
proverbs the contrasted objects are placed side by side, leaving the hearer 
to draw his own deduction. In the longer pieces so-named a single idea is 
worked out at some length in rhythmical form. Further, under this general 
category are contained also dark sayings, riddles, intricate questions (ehidaTi), 
which have always had great attraction for Oriental minds. The Queen of 
Sheba, we are told, cameto try Solomon with hard questions (1 Kings x. 1) ; 
as the Septuagint renders it, " with enigmas." Probably such puzzles are 
found in oh. xxx., and in many of those passages which, according as they 
are pointed, are capable of very different interpretations. There is one 
other word used in this connection' (oh. i. 6) — melitsah, which is rendered 
in the Authorized Version " interpretation," and in the Revised Version " a 


figure ; " it probably means a saying containing some obscure allnsion, and 
nsnally of a sarcastic nature. There are very few examples of this form in 
Diir book. 

The Tarions kinds of proverbs have been divided by Hanneberg (' Revel. 
Bibl.,* V. 41, quoted by Lesetre) into five classes : 1. Historical proverbs, 
wherein an event of the past, or a word used on some momentons occasion, 
has passed into a popular saying, expressive of some general sentiment or 
idea. The saying about Saul mentioned just above is of this nature. Of 
the historical proverb tliere seems to be no instance in our book. 2. Meta- 
phorical proverbs. These are what we should most appropriately call 
proverbs. They enunciate some moral truth under a figure drawn from 
nature or life. Such are : " In vain is the net spread in the eyes of 
any bird " (ch. i. 17) ; " Go to the ant, thou sluggard " (oh. vi. 6) ; " Let 
a bear robbed of her whelps meet a man, rather than a fool in his folly " 
(ch. xvii. 12) ; " The contentions of a wife are a continual dropping " (ch. 
xix. 13 ; xxvii. 15, 16). 3. Enigmas. These are either riddles like that of 
Samson (Judg. xiv. 14), or obscure questions which needed thought to eluci- 
date them, and the kernel of which conveyed a moral truth. Such are the 
words of Agur, "Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended ? " etc. 
(ch. XXX. 4) ; " The horseleech hath two daughters. Give, give " (ch. xxi. 
15). 4. Parabolic proverbs. Herein are presented things and truths in 
allegorical shape. Our blessed Lord has used this mode of teaching most 
extensively, showing himself greater than Solomon. The best example of 
this class is the treatment of Wisdom, e.g. "Wisdom hath builded her house, 
she hath hewn out her seven pillars " (ch. ix. 1). 5. Didactical proverbs, 
which give pr cise instruction on points of morals, religion, or behaviour, 
and of which the first nine chapters afford very perfect instances, and the 
rest of the book m.ore concise and less developed examples. 


The book is inscribed, " The Proverbs of Solomon, son of David, King of 
' Israel." How this title is to be regarded, and to what portion or portions 
of the work it applies, we shall see further on. Then (ch. i. 1^6) follows 
a description of the writing and a recommendation of its importance and 
utility. Its object is partly moral and partly intellectual; it seeks to 
instruct in the way of wisdom, to edify those who have already made pro- 
gress, and to discipline hearers to receive and assimilate the highest teach- 
ing. The wisdom (chocmdh, and in the plural of " excellence," chocmoth) 
here first mentioned is no mere philosophical attainment, no merely secular 
advancement in the knowledge of things ; it is this — it includes the know- 
ledge of all that can be known ; but it is much more. It is distinctly 
religious, and haa for its object the directing man's life according to his 
highest interests, so that it is equivalent to "the fear of the Lord," that 
is, practical religion, and is often interchanged with that expression. It 


teacbes what God requires of man, how God would have man behave in all 
circnmBtances of life ; it teaches piety, duty, justice. King and peasant, the 
old and the young, learned and ignorant, are hereby taught what is accept- 
able in their several stations, ages, stages of intellectual development. Later 
on, Wisdom is personified as a great teacher, as dwelling with God from all 
eternity, assisting at the creation of the world, the original of all authority 
on earth. We gather from various indications in our book that wisdom is 
regarded in a threefold respect : first, as an essential attribute of Almighty 
God ; secondly, as revealed in creation ; thirdly, as communicated to man. 
It is the mind or thought of God ; it is that by which he created the world ; 
it is that which regulates and informs the moral being of man. The lan- 
guage used in such passages as ch. viii. 23 — 31 adapts itself to the idea of 
a representation of the Son of God, an anticipation of the incarnation of 
Jesus our Lord; and though we cannot suppose that Solomon had any 
clear notion of the Divine personality of Wisdom (for which, indeed, the 
stem monotheism of the age was not ripe), yet we may believe that it was 
not alien from the mind of the Holy Spirit that the Christian Church should 
see in these Solomonic utterances prophecies and adumbrations of the 
nature and operations of the Son of God made man, of him whom St. John 
calls the Word. It is of Wisdom as communicated to man that the Book of 
Proverbs chiefly treats, indicating the only way of obtaining and securing 
possession of her, and the incalculable blessings that attend her acquisition 
and usance. 

It must further be observed, in connection with this subject, that the 
Hebrew, in his pursuit of Wisdom, was not like the heathen philosopher 
groping blindly after God, seeking to discover the great Unknown, and to 
form for himself a deity which should satisfy his moral instincts and solve 
the questions of the creation and government of the universe. The Hebrew 
started from the point where the heathen came to a pause. The Jew knew 
God already— knew him by revelation ; his aim was to recognize him in all 
relations — in nature, in life, in morality, in religion ; to see this overruling 
Providence in all things whatsoever; to make this great truth control private, 
public, social, and political circumstances and conduct. This profound con- 
ception of Divine superintendence dominates all the reflections of the think- 
ing man, and makes him own in every occurrence, even in every natural 
phenomenon, an expression of the mind and will of God. Hence comes the 
absolute trust in the justice of the supreme Ruler, in the wise ordering of 
events, in the certain distribution of rewards and punishments, in the 
regulated dispensing of prosperity and adversity. In such ways Wisdom 
reveals itself, and the intelligent man recognized its presence; and idealizing 
and personifying it, learned to speak of it in those high terms which wa 
read of with awe in this section, seeing therein him who is invisible. 

After this introduction there follows the first part of the book (ch. i. 7— 
ix. 18), consisting of fifteen admonitory discourses, addressed to youth 
with the view of exhibiting the excellence of wisdom, encouraging the 


ardent pursuit ttereof, and dissuading from folly, i.e. vice, which is its 
opposite. This is especially the hortatory or wisdom section of the book. 
It is usually regarded as a prelude to the collection of proverbs beginning 
at ch. X., and is compared to the proem, of Elihu in Job xxxii. 6 — 22, 
before he addresses himself more particularly to the matter in hand. An 
analogous preface occurs in oh. xxii. 17 — 21 of our book, though this is 
short and intercalary. The section is divided by Delitzsch as above, 
though the portions are not very accurately defined by internal evidence. 
We have adopted this arrangeinent in the Commentary for convenience' 
sake. Commonly, each fresh warning or instruction is prefaced by the 
address, " My son " {e.g. oh. i. 8, 10, 15; ii. 1, etc.), but this is not universally 
the case, and no subdivisions can be accurately formed by attention to this 
peculiarity. The unity of the section consists in the subject and the mode 
of treatment, rather than in a regular course of instruction proceeding on 
definite lines, and leading to a climacteric conclusion. The motto of the 
whole is the noble maxim, " The fear of the Lord is the beginning of 
knowledge : but the foolish despise wisdom and instruction." Taking this 
as the basis of his lecture, Solomon proceeds with his discourse. He 
warns against fellowship with those who entice to robbery and murder 
(ch. i. 8 — 19). Wisdom addresses those who despise her, showjng them 
their folly in rejecting her offers, and the security of those who hearken 
to her counsels (ch. i. 20 — 33). The teacher points out the blessings 
arising from the sincere and earnest pursuit of Wisdom — ^it delivers from 
the path of evil, and leads to all moral and religious knowledge (ch. ii.). 
Now comes an exhortation to obedience and faithfulness, self-sacrificing 
devotion to God, perfect resignation to his will (ch. iii. 1 — 18). Wisdom 
is introduced as the creative energy of Grod, who becomes the Protector of 
all who hold fast to her (ch. iii. 19 — 26). One condition for the attain- 
ment of wisdom and happiness is the practice of benevolence and rectitude 
in dealing with others (ch. iii. 27—35). Having previously spoken in his 
own name, and having also brought forward Wisdom making her appeal, 
the teacher now gives some recollections of his own early home and hia 
father's advice, especially on the subject of discipline and obedience 
(ch. iv.). He returns to a matter before glanced at as one of the chief 
temptations to which youth was exposed, and gives an emphatic warning 
against adultery and impurity, while he beaatifully commends honourable 
marriage (ch. v.). Then he warns against suretyship (ch. vi. 1—5), sloth 
(vers. 6—11), deceit and malice (vers. 12—19), and adultery (vers. 
20—35). Keeping to the theme of his last discourse, the moralist again 
denounces the detestable sin of adultery, and enforces his admonition by 
an example which he had himself vritnessed (ch. vii.). Working round 
again to Wisdom, as the object of all his discourses, the author introduces 
her as inviting all to follow her, descanting on her excellence, her heavenly 
origin, her inestimable blessings. This is the most important section 
concerning Wisdom, which here appears as coeternal with God and 


co-operating with him in creation. Thus her supreme excellence is m 
additional reason for hearkening to her instructions (ph. viii.). Summing 
up in brief the warnings which have preceded, Solomon introduces Wisdom 
and Folly, her rival, inviting severally to their companionship (ch. ix.). 

The next part of our book contains the first great collection of Solomonic 
proverbs, some four hundred in number ; or, as others say, three hundred 
and seventy-five (ch. x. — xxii. 16). They are introduced with the title, 
" The Proverbs of Solomon," and fully correspond to their description, 
being a series of apothegms, gnomes, and sentences, containing ideaa 
moral, religious, social, political, introduced apparently withoat order, or 
with only some verbal connection or common characteristics, and certainly 
not arranged on any systematic scheme. Of the form of these maxims we 
shall speak later; we here only mention some of the subjects with which 
they are concerned. This part of the work begins by drawing comparisons 
between the righteous and sinners, in their general conduct, and the 
consequences that result therefrom (ch. x.). 

" Treasures of wickedness profit nothing : 

But righteousness delivereth from death " (ch. x. 2). 
"He that gathereth in summer is a wise son : 

. But lie that sleepeth in harvest ia a son that causeth shame " (ch. x. S). 
"The memory of the just ia blessed: 

But the name of the wicked shall rot" (ch. x. 7). 

The same distinction is maintained in conduct to neighbours— 

" A false balance ia abomination to the Lord ; 

But a just weight is his delight " (ch. xi. 1). 
" He that withholdeth corn, the people shall curse him : 

But blessing shall be upon the head of him that selleth it " (ch. xi. 26). 
Then we have maxims on social and domestic life— 
" A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband : 

But she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones " (ch. xiL 4). 
" The righteous man regardeth the life of hia beast : 

But the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel " (oh. xii. 10). 
The diiference between the godly and sinners is seen in the use they 
respectively make of temporal goods — 

"There is that maketh himself rich, yet hath nothing: 

There is that maketh himself poor, yet hath great wealth " (ch. xiiL 71 
" Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished : 

But he that gathereth by labour shall have increase " (oh. xiii 11). 

The relations between rich and poor, wise and fools, exhibit the sama 
role — 

•• He that despiseth his neighbour sinneth : 

But he that hath pity on the poor, happy is he I " (ch. xlv. 21). 
" The foolish make a mock at guilt : 
But among the upright there is favour " (ch. xlv. 9). 


The state of the heart is that to which God looks — 

" The Lord is far from the wicked : 
But he heareth the prayer of the righteous" (oh, xv. 29). 

Tmst in God is the only security in life — 

"Commit thy wDrks nnto the Lord, 
And thy purposes shall he established " (ch. xvi. 3). 

" He that giveth heed unto the word shall fiod good : 
And whoso trustetb in the Lord, happy is he I " (oh. xvi. 20). 

Gentleness and long-suffering are recommended — 

" A soft answer tumeth away wrath : 
But a grievous word stirreth up anger" (oh. iv. 1). 

"The beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water: 
Therefore leave off contention, before there be quarrelling" (ch. ivii. 14). 

Humility is strongly enjoined — 

" Pride goeth before destruction^ 
And a haughty spirit before a fall " (ch. xvi. 18). 

Sloth and intemperance and other vices are severely reprobated — 

" Slothfulness casteth into a deep sleep ; 
And the idle soul shall suffer hunger " (ch. lix. 15). 

"Love not sleep, lest thou come to poverty; 
Open thine eyes, and thou shalt be satisfied with bread " (ch. xx. IS). 

" He that loveth pleasure shall be a poor man : 
He that loveth wine and oil shall not be rich " (ch. xxi. 17). 

A. good reputation should be sought and retained — 

" A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, 
And loving favour rather than silver and gold " (ch. xxii. 1). 

The section ends with an apothegm about rich and poor which is capable 
of more than one interpretation — 

" Whosoever oppresseth the poor, it is for his gain ; 
Whosoever giveth to the rich, it is for his loss " (ch. xxii. 16). 

j.4ii8 18 a religious statement concerning the moral government of God, 
affirming, on the one hand, that oppression and extortion inflicted on the 
poor man do in the end redound to his good ; and, on the other hand, 
addition to the wealth of a rich man only injures him, leads him to 
indolence and extravagance, and sooner or later brings him to want. 

There is much said in this part about the king's prerogative — 

" The king's favour is toward a servant that dealeth wisely : 
But his wrath shall be against him that causeth shame " (ch. xiv. 35). 

"He that loveth pureness of heart. 
For the grace of his lips the king shall be his friend" (ch. xxii. 11). 

It u possible to take exception to the worldliness and low motives of 


many of the maxims in this and other parts of the book. The wisdom 
often seems to be that of this -world rather than of heavenly aspiration. 
And there have not been wanting persona who aay such pronouncements 
cannot be deemed to be inspired, and that the work containing them was not 
dictated or controlled by the Holy Spirit. "We will quote a few of those 
so-called worldly maxims. Obedience to the Law is enjoined in order to 
gain long life and prosperity (ch. iii. 1, 2), riches and honour (ch. viii. 
18) ; diligence is to be desired with the view of obtaining a sufficiency, 
and averting poverty (ch. xx. 13) ; the great motive for charity and bene- 
volence is the temporal reward and the favour of God which they secure 
(ch. xix. 17 ; xxi. 13) ; the same reason holds good for honouring God 
with our substance (ch. iii. 9, 10) ; humility is to be practised because it 
brings honour and life (ch. xxii. 4) ; self-control is a useful attainment 
because it preserves from many dangers (oh. xvi. 32 ; xxv. 28) ; a fine 
reputation is a worthy object of quest (ch. xxii. 1); sloth, drunkenness, 
and gluttony are to be avoided because they impoverish a man (oh. xxi. 
17; xxiii. 20, 21; xxiv. 33, 34); we should avoid companionship with the 
evil because they will lead us into trouble (ch. xiii. 20 ; xxii. 24, etc.) ; 
it is unwise to retaliate lest we bring injury on ourselves in the end 
(ch. xvii. 13) ; we are not to exult over an enemy's fall lest we provoke 
Pi-ovidence to punish us (ch. xxiv. 17, etc.), but rather to assist an adver- 
sary in order to secure a reward at the hands of the Lord (ch. xxv, 
21, etc.) ; wisdom is to be sought for the temporal advantages which it 
brings (ch. xxiv. 3, etc. ; xxi. 20). 

Such are some of the maxims which confront us in this Scripture ; and 
there can be no doubt that they seem at first sight to make virtue a matter 
of calculation ; and though they are capable of being spiritualized and 
forced into a higher sphere, yet in their natural sense they do urge the 
pursuit of right on low grounds, and base their injunctions on selfish 
considerations. Is this what we should expect to find in a work con- 
fessedly appertaining to the sacred canon? Is this teaching such as 
tends to make a man wise unto salvation, to furnish the man of God 
unto good works? The whole question turns upon the due employment 
of secondary motives La the conduct of life. Is this method properly 
employed in education ? Does God use it in his dealings with us ? We 
must observe that ' Proverbs ' is a book written chiefly for the edification 
of the young and inexperienced, the simple who were still in the early 
age of moral growth, those whose principles were as yet unsettled and 
needed direction and steadfastness. For such teaching of the highest 
character would be inappropriate; they could not at once appreciate 
more elevated doctrine ; their power of assimilation was at present too 
feeble to admit the strong meat of heavenly lore; and they were to be 
led gradually to a higher stage by a slow and natural process which would 
make no great demand on their faith, nor conscious interruption in their 
'-lily life. It is thus that wo educate children. We employ the motives 


of sliame and emnlation, reward and piinisTimeiit, pleasnre and pain, as 
incentives to goodness and activity, or as deterrents from evil ; and though 
the actions and habits fostered loj these means cannot be regarded as 
perfect, and have in them an element of weakness, still they are helps on 
the way to virtue, and facilitate the course of higher training. By such 
means, imperfect as they are, the moral principle is not injured, and the 
pupil is placed in a position where he is open to the best influences, and 
prepared to receive them. We have learned thus to deal with children 
from God's dealings with ourselves. What are gratitude to parents, faith 
in teachers, love of friends, loyalty to a sovereign, but secondary motives 
which control our lives, and yet are not distinctly religious ? We build 
on these feelings, we expect and cherish, them, because they lead to worthy 
action, and without them we should be selfish, loveless, animals. They 
keep us in the path of duty ; they take us out of ourselves, make us regard 
others' interests, preserve us from much that is evil. Men act on such 
motives ; they do not generally set before themselves anything higher ; 
and he who would teach them mnst take them as they are, stand on their 
platform, sympathize with their weakness, and, by putting himself in 
their position, gain their confidence, and lead them to trust his- guidance 
when he tells them of heavenly things. On such principles much of our 
book is framed. The moralist knew and recognized the fact that the 
persons for whose benefit he wrote were not wont to act from the highest 
motives, that in their daily life they were influenced by selfish considera- 
tions — fear of loss, censure of neighbours, public opinion, expediency, 
revenge, custom, example ; and, instead of declaiming against these prin- 
ciples and in austere virtue censuring their defects, he makes the best 
of them, selects such as may suit his purpose, and, while using them as 
supports for his warnings, he intersperses so much higher teaching that 
every one must see that morality has another side, and that the only real 
and true motive for virtue is the love of God. Such teaching loses its 
apparently anomalous character when we consider that it is addressed to 
a people who were living under a temporal dispensation, who were told to 
expect blessings and punishments in their present life, and who saw in 
all that befell them providential interferences, tokens of the moral 
government of their Lord and King. It is consistent with the educational 
object of our book, and with the gradual development of doctrine observed 
in the Old Testament, wherein is seen that the Law was a tutor to bring 
men to Christ. 

The first collection of proverbs is followed by two appendices enunciat- 
ing "the words of the wise" — the first contained in ch. xxii. 17 — xxiv. 22; 
the second, introduced by the words, "These things also belong to the. 
wise " in ch. xxiv. 23 — 34 The former of these commences with a personal 
address to the pupil, recommending these sayings to his serious attention, 
and then proceeds to give various precepts concerning duty to the poor, 
anger, suretyship, cupidity, intemperance, impurity, and to urge the young 


to avoid evil men and those who would lead them astray. It ends with 
the weighty saying of moral and political importance — 

"My Bon, fear thou the Lord and the king : 
And meddle not with them that are given to change" (oh. xxiv. 21), 

The second little appendix consists also of proverbial sayings, but is 
enlivened by a personal reminiscence of the writer, who in his walk passed 
by the field of the sluggard, noted its miserable condition, and drew a 
lesson therefrom (ch. xxiv. 30, etc.). This section also contains the almost 
evangelical precept — 

" Say not, I will do so to him as he hath done to mo : 
I will render to the man according to his work." 

We now arrive at the second great collection of Solomonic proverbs, 
"which the men of Hezekiah copied out" (ch. xxv. — xxix.). This is 
a series of some hundred and twelity gnomic sayings collected from 
previous writings, by certain scribes and historiographers, in the reign and 
under the superintendence of the good King Hezekiah, and intended as a 
supplement to the former collection, to which it bears a very marked 
similarity, and many sentences of which it repeats with no or very slight 
variations. Hezekiah, devoted to the moral and religions improvement of 
his people, seems to have commissioned his secretaries to examine again the 
works of his predecessor, and to cull from them, and from similar com- 
pilations, snch maxims as would further his great purpose. Hence we do 
not find in this section, as in former parts, much instruction for the young, 
but sentences concerning government, ideas on social subjects, on behaviour, 
on moral restraint, and kindred topics that have to do with private and 
public life. There are in it some noteworthy utterances concerning the 
office of king — 

" The heaven for height, and the earth for depth. 
But the heart of kings is unsearchahle. 
Take away dross from the silver. 
And there cometh forth a vessel for the finer} 
Take away the wicked from hefore the king. 
And his throne shall be established in righteousBeu" (ch. xxv. 3, «tc.). 

"The king by judgment estahlisheth the land: 
But he that exacteth gifts overthroweth it " (ch. xxix. 4). 

There is also a mashal hymn in praise of agriculture, which looks like a 
protest against the growing luxury of the age, and a call to the simpler, 
purer Ufe of earlier days — 

" Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocki. 
And look well to thy herds. 
For riches are not for ever : 
And doth the crown endure unto all generations? 
The hay is carried, and the tender grass showeth itself 


And the herbs of the mountains are gathered in. 

The lambs are for thy clothing. 

And the goats are the price of the field : 

And there will be goats' milk enough for thy food. 

For the food of thy househoW, 

And maintenance for thy maidens " (oh. xxvii. 23, etc.). 

There follow three appendices of various origin and authorship. The 
first contains " The words of Agar, the son of Jakeh, the oracle," addressed 
by him to two of his disciples (according to one interpretation of the 
words, "The man spake unto Ithiel, even unto Ithiel and Ucal"), and 
containing proverbial and enigmatical sayings (ch. xxx.). This unknown 
author begins with a confession of his faith, a humble depreciation of his own 
acquirements, and an acknowledgment of the fraitlessness of endeavouring 
to comprehend the nature of God. There is much here and in other parts 
of the section to remind us of the musings of Job, who felt and expressed 
the same perplexity. The poet then utters two prayers to God, that he 
may be delivered from vanity and lies, and may be supplied with daily 

" Give me neither poverty nor riches ; 
Feed me with the food that is needful for me " (ch. xxx. 8). 

Then succeeds a curious collection of pictures, grouped into three or 
four sentences each, each stich having a certain connection in language 
and idea. Thus we have four wicked generations, denoting the universal 
prevalence of the sins therein denounced ; four things insatiable ; four 
things inscrutable ; four intolerable ; four exceeding wise ; four of stately 
presence. If these utterances mean no more than what at first sight they 
seem to imply, they merely express the feelings of one who was a keen 
observer of man and nature, and took a peculiar method of enforcing hia 
remarks: "There are three things, yea, four," etc. But if under these 
apparently simple statements of fact there are hidden great spiritual 
verities, then we have here examples of dark sayings, enigmas, difficulties, 
in the solution of which the opening of the Book promised assistance. 
That such is the case many early commentators, followed by some modem 
writers, have stated without hesitation; and much labour has been 
expended in spiritualizing the dicta of the text. Certainly in their literal 
shape these sentences are not of the highest type, nor distinctly religious ; 
and it is but natural that, feeling this, expositors should endeavour to raise 
these commonplace and secular allusions to a more exalted sphere. 

The second appendix (ch. xxxi. 1 — 9) is entitled, " The words of King 
Lemuel, the oracle which his mother taught him." The chief interest lies 
in the question — Who is Lemuel? (see § 3). The section is a brief lesson 
addressed to kings, chiefly on the subjects of impurity and drunkenness. 

The third appendix, which forms the conclusion of the book (ch. xxxi. 

10 31), consists of the celebrated description of the virtuous woman, 

the type of the ideal wife, mother, and mistress. It is what is called an 


acrostic mashal, i.e. each verse commences with one of the twenty-two 
letters of the Hebrew alphabet, in the usual alphabetical order. Taking 
the manners and customs of his age and country as the basis of his pictures, 
the author delineates a woman of the highest attainments, strong-minded 
yet feminine, active, practical, prudent, economical. Her husband trusts 
her wholly ; she manages the household, keeps her servants to their work, 
and herself sets an example of diligence ; she always has funds in hand to 
make purchases at the right moment, and to provide for the needs of her 
household. She is as wise as she is beautiful, as generous and charitable as 
she is just; her virtue redounds to the credit of husband and children, and 
all connected with her. 

"Her children rise up, and call her blessed; 
Her husband also, and he praiseth her, saying, 
Hany daughters have done virtuously. 
But thou excellest them all. 
Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain : 
But a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised. 
Give her of the fruit of her hands ; 
And let her works praise her in the gates.'' 

After the many passages which speak of the degradation of woman, 
which introduce her in the most odious light, as the temptress of youth, 
and the very road to death ; in contrast, too, to numerous paragraphs and 
allusions which represent home-life as spoiled by a contentions, jealous, 
and extravagant wife,— it is soothing to come upon this noble description, 
and to close the volume with this picture of what a woman is when she 
is animated by love of God and duty. 

We may add a slight sketch of the theology and ethics which meet ub 
in this book. There is little distinctive Judaism. In this respect the 
similarity to the Book of Job is remarkable. The. name of Israel is not 
once mentioned; there is no allusion to the Passover or the other great 
festivals ; there is not a word about idolatry, not a warning against the 
worship of false gods; the observation of the sabbath is not referred to 
nor the payment of tithes. At the same time, the Law is often mentioned^ 
and the ceremonies enjoined therein are tacitly regarded as being in full 
use and practice (see ch. xxviii. 4, 9 ; xiv. 9 ; vii. 14, etc.). It is doubtless 
a providential arrangement that so little prominence is given to the 
external obligations of the Hebrew religion; by this reticence the book 
was better adapted to become a world-wide teacher; it spoke to Jew and 
Gentile alike; it taught a morality with which all good men could 
sympathize ; it penetrated wherever Greek literature was understood and 
valued. Of Its wide influence the Book of Wisdom and Ecclesiastics are 
special proofs. 

wiJh'^thfT'*" t*r'f' °^ ?^' ^'°^^^^^" ^^« ^° --^Pl-te accord 
with the religion of Israel as we know it from other sources. The special 

name of God in the form Jehovah occurs everywhere throughout thi 


buok, and is used more often than Elohim, thus emphasizing the great 
truth o£ which the incommunicable name was the symbol. Grod is incom- 
prehensible (ch. XXX. 4), infinitely wise (ch. iii. 19, etc. ; viii.), omniscient, 
omnipresent (ch. xv. 3). He created all things out of nothing (ch. viii 
22, etc.) ; he governs and preserves them by his providence (oh. xvi. 4) ; 
he teaches men by chastening and affliction (ch. iii. 11, 12) ; his care 
watches over and rewards the good, -while he punishes the evil (ch. xii. 2) ; 
the poor and the lowly are special objects of his love (ch. xxii. 4; xvi. 19; 
xxiii. 11) ; allowing to man the exercise of free-will (ch. i. 24), God helps 
him by his grace to make a right choice (ch. xvi. 1, 3, 9 ; xx. 24), because 
he loves him (ch. viii. 17, 31), and wills his happiness (ch. viii. 36). Of 
the doctrine concerning wisdom in this book we have spoken above. Of 
Messianic hopes no distinct trace is found. "Whether the future life is 
asserted has often been questioned ; but it is difficult to believe that this 
great truth is wholly neglected in this book, as we know that long before 
Solomon's time it was generally admitted, and we should confidently expect 
traces of its influence in the treatment of man's destiny. 

" In the way of righteousness is life ; 
And in the pathway thereof there is no death " (ch. xii. 28). 

" The wicked is thrust down in his evil-doing : 
But the righteous hath hope in his death " (oh. xiv. 32). 

These are not dogmatic assertions of future rewards and punishments, 
but they are consistent with such a belief, and may well imply it. In the 
same light we may consider the many passages which speak of the recom- 
pense that awaits actions good or evil. The retribution promised is not 
fully satisfied by anything that befalls a man in this life as the result of 
his conduct; both the reward and the punishment are spoken of in terms 
which seem to look to something beyond the grave —something which 
death did not end, and which nothing here was adequate to fulfil. If it 
is said that impurity plunges a man into the depths of hell (ch. ii. 18 ; 
vii. 11), that sinners remain in the congregation of the dead (ch. xxi. 16), 
and that their expectation perishes when they die (ch. xi. 7), it is also 
announced that righteousness delivereth from death (ch. xi. 4), that there 
is a sure reward for the godly (oh. xi. 18), and that the righteous hath 
hope in his death (ch. xiv. 32). 

The moral teaching of our book may be grouped under various heads — 
the result of experience, the outcome of thought, controlled by the strongest 
sense of religion and an overruling Providence. 

1. Duty to God. The first of all duties, the foundation of all morality 
and religion, is the fear of God (ch. i. 7). This must be followed by perfect 
trust in him and distrust of self (ch. iii. 5, etc.). The externals of religious 
worship are not to be neglected (ch. xiv. 9 ; xx. 25), but God looks chiefly 
to the heart (ch. xvii. 3) ; it is this which makes men acceptable or 
abominable in his sight (cb. xi. 20; xv. 8). If we sin, we must confess 


our guilt (ch. ixviii. 13), meekly submit to his chastisement (ch. in. 11, 

2. Duty to ourselves. The first and cliief lesson enforced is the utter 
necessity of avoiding fleshly lusts and evil companionship (ch. i. 10, etc. ; 
xiii. 20). Among deadly sins to be avoided special mention is made of 
pride, the enemy of wisdom and hateful to God (oh. xvi. 5, 18, 19) ; avarice 
and cupidity, which lead to fraud and wrong (ch. xxviii. 20), and produce 
only a transitory profit (ch. xxiii. 4, 5) ; envy, which is as rottenness in 
the bones (ch. xiv. 30) ; luxury and intemperance, which, as prevalent 
in the more artificial state of society, induced by wealth and contact with 
other nations, are most strongly reprobated and shown to ensure most fatal 
consequences (ch. ii. 18 ; xxiii. 1, etc., 20, etc., 29, etc.) ; anger, which 
leads to folly, causes and embitters quarrels, makes a man detestable (ch. 
xiv. 17; XV. 1; xx. 3); idleness, which ruins equally a man's character and 
property (ch. xiii. 4; vi. 6, etc.). Then much is said about the necessity 
of guarding the tongue, in the power of which are death and life (oh. xii. 
13, etc. ; xviii. 21), and avoiding self-praise (ch. xii. 9 ; xxvii. 2). 

3. Duty to our neighbours. We should sympathize with the afilicted, and 
try to cheer them (ch. xii. 25 ; xvi. 24) ; help the poor in their need 
because they are breihren, children of the All-Father (ch. iii. 27, etc. • 
xiv. 31). A neighbour should be judged honestly and truthfully (ch. xvii. 
15 ; xxiv. 23, etc.) ; with him we are to live in peace (ch. iii. 29, etc. ; 
xvii. 13, etc.), never slandering him (ch. x. 10, etc. ; xi. 12, etc.), hiding 
his faults if possible (ch. x. 12), encouraging sincere friendship (ch. xviii. 
24), and being strictly honest in all transactions with him (ch. xi. 1 ■ 
XX. 14 ; xxii. 28). 

4. Domestic duties. Pious parents are a blessing to children (ch. xx. 7), 
and should teach them holy lessons from their earliest years (ch. i. 8 ; iv. 1, 
etc.), training them in the right way (ch. xxii. 6), correcting them when 
they do wrong (ch. xxiii. 13, etc.). Children for their part should attend 
to the instruction of elders, and gladden their parents' hearts by prompt 
obedience and strict life (ch. x. 1 ; xxiii. 15, etc.). Let the mother of the 
family realize her high position, and be the crown of her husband (ch. 
xii. 4), and build up her house (ch. xiv. 1). If she needs a model, let her 
endeavour to emulate the strong-minded virtuous woman (oh. xxxi. 10, etc.). 
Be it far from her to imitate the contentious wife, whose peevish lU temper 
is like the continuous dropping of a leaky roof, and renders family life 
insupportable (ch. xix. 13 ; xxv. 24). Servants should be carefully selected 
(ch. xvii. 2) and wisely treated, that they may not rise beyond their station 
and prove arrogant and assuming (ch. xix. 10; xxix. 21). 

5. Maxims relating to civil life and political economy. The king's throne 
is established by righteousness, mercy, and truth (ch. xvi. 12; xx. 28); 
his sentence is regarded as indefeasible (ch. xvi. 10); he pursues the 
godless with righteous punishment (ch. xx. 8, 26), protects the weak (ch 
Kxxi. 7, etc.), favours the pious and obedient (ch. xvi. 15 ; xix. 12). Ho 


IB no oppressor, nor coTetous (ch. xxviii. 16) ; and he gathers round him 
faithfal counsellors (ch. xiv. 35), whose advice he takes in all importanc 
matters (ch. xxiv. 6). By such means he increases the stability of his 
throne; he enables his subjects to advance in prospei'ity and virtue, and 
finds his honour in the multitude of his people (ch. xi. 14 ; xiv. 28). It is 
the duty of men to render obedience to the powers that be ; punish lent 
speedily overtakes tlie rebellious (ch. xvi. 14, etc.; xix. 12; xx. 2). God 
has ordained that there shall be rich and poor in the land (oh. xxii. 2) ; 
the rich ought to help the poor (ch. iii. 27, etc. ; xiv. 21), and not treat th ni 
roughly (ch. xviii. 23). All commercial transactions should be conducted 
with the strictest honesty ; the withholding of corn is specially denounced 
(ch. xi. 26). It is a foolish act to stand security for another's debt; you 
are sure to smart for it, and then you can blame only yourself (ch. vi. I, 
etc. ; xxii. 26, etc.). 

Among miscellaneous sayings we may note the following :— 

" Who can say, I have made my heart clean, 
I am pure from my sin ? " (ch. xx. 9). 

" It is as sport to a fool to do wickedness ; 
And so is wisdom to a man of understanding " (ch. x. 23). 

" A wise man is strong ; 
Tea, a man of knowledge increaseth strength " (oh. xxiv. 6), 

" The wicked flee when no man parsueth ; 
But the righteous are bold as a lion " (oh. xxviii. 1). 

" Hope deferred maketh the heart sick : 
But when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life " (ch. xiii. 12). 

" The path of the righteous is as the shining light. 
That shineth more and more unto the perfect day " (ch. iv. 18). 

" The wicked eameth deceitful wages : 
But he that soweth righteousness hath a sure reward " (ch. xi. 18). 

" The hoary head is a crown of glory ; 
It shall be found in the way of righteousness " (ch. ivi. 31). 


Uncritical antiquity, followed in modern times by undiscriminating 
conservatism, had no hesitation in ascribing the whole Book of Proverbs 
to one author, Solomon, King of Israel. It is true that three portions of 
the work are prefaced with his name (oh. i. 1 ; x. 1 ; xxv. 1) ; but two 
other sections are attributed respectively to Agur (ch. xix. 1) and Lemuel 
(ch. xxxi. 1) ; so that apparently the volume itself professes to be composed 
by three authors; and besides this, there are two appendices containing 
"the words of the wise" (ch. xxii. 17, etc.; xxiv. 23, etc.), which must be 
distinguiflhed from those of Solomon. It was natural indeed for the Jews 
to affix their great king's name to the whole collection. He is said to have 


spoken three thousand proverbs (mashal, 1 Kings iv. 32), a statement which 
implies that they had been collected into a volume, and the present work 
was reasonably supposed to form part of this surprisingly large storehouse 
of wisdom. But a more careful examination of the book necessitates the 
opinion of divided authorship ; contents and language point to differences 
of date and composition ; the repetition of the same proverb in identical 
or almost identical language, the recurrence of the same thought varied 
only in actual wording, the adoption of one member of an old maxim with 
the attachment of a different hemistich, — ^these blemishes could hardly have 
been allowed to remain in the work of a single author. There are also 
variations in the language, which in a marked manner differentiate the 
several parts, so that we are forced to allow a composite character to the 
work; and the difficult task is imposed of endeavouring to find some 
certainty on the question of its origin. 

In one place alone does the book itself afford direct help towards deter- 
mining the date of any portion. The section copied by Hezekiah's friends 
from previous records must have been put together in that monarch's reign, 
between two and tljree hundred years after the time of Solomon, who was 
regarded as the author of those sayings. The persons engaged in the com- 
pilation may have been those mentioned in 2 Kings xviii. 18 — Shebna the 
secretary, and Joah, son of Asaph, the chronicler, and very possibly the 
Prophet Isaiah himself, as a Jewish tradition relates. Wbether after so long 
an interval they simply reproduced his utterances, unadulterated and unaug- 
mented, might primd facie be doubted ; a careful examination of the section 
shows that this doubt is well founded. If there are many sentences therein 
which in form and substance have a flavour of high antiquity, and may well 
have flowed from Solomon's lips and have been current in his age, there 
are also many which exhibit the artificiality of a later period, and presup- 
pose a condition of things far removed from the palmy era of the Hebrew 
monarchy. Most critics have come to the conclusion that the earliest 
portion is that which is called the first great collection, contained in ch. 
xi. — xxii. 16. The style throughout is simple and chaste, the maxims are 
mostly comprised in antithetical distichs, each verse being complete in 
itself. This, according to Ewald, is the oldest form of the technical proverb. 
It is noticed that there are many phrases and expressions which are peculiar 
to this section, e.g. "fountain of Hfe," "tree of life," "snares of death," 
"hand in hand," "whisperer, tale-bearer," "shall not go unpunished," 
"but for a moment," etc. But arguments derived from peculiarities of 
structure and language are generally uncertain, and strike readers in 
different ways. A surer criterion is found in the contents of a composition, 
in the references which it contains, in the circumstances which it mentions 
or the environments which it implies. Now, if we compare this first 
collection with that of Hezekiah's " men," we shall note some very marked 
differences, which have been observed by many critics. There is evidently 
a change in the political situation. In the former section the monarchy if 


at its best. It is deemed "an abomination to kings to commit wickedness" 
(ch. xvi. 12) ; their " throne is established by righteousness," they " delight 
in righteous lips, and love him that speaketh right ; " there is " life in the 
king's countenance, and his favour is like the latter rain " (ch. xvi. 13, 
etc.) ; mercy and truth are his safeguard, and uphold his throne (ch. xx. 
28). A changed picture is presented in the Hezekiah collection. Here we 
have a people oppressed by a prince wanting in understanding (ch. xxviii. 
19), mourning under the rule of a wicked king (ch. xxix. 2), who is likened 
to a roaring lion and a ranging bear (ch. xxviii. 15). There is reference to 
bribery and extortion in high places (ch. xxix, 4), change of dynasties (ch. 
xxviii. 2), unworthy favourites (ch. xxv. 5; xxix. 12) — all of which circum- 
stances point to a political situation other than that in the former part; 
a period, in fact, when experience had brought knowledge of evil, and 
rulers had been found to be antagonistic to the interests of their subjects, 
liable to the worst vices, open to corrupting influences. It is impossible 
to suppose that many of the maxims, even in the former collection, were 
spoken by Solomon. What experience would make him say that the king's 
honour lay in the multitude of his people, and his destruction in their 
paucity (ch. xiv. 28) ? Or, again, that a pious wife is the best of blessings 
(ch. xii. 4; xviii. 22), while a contentious one is a torment (ch.' xix. 13, 14; 
xxi. 9, 19) ? Such statements as these last presuppose a monogamous man, 
not one notorious for'polygam'y. Then, would Solomon have discoursed thus 
about himself, asserting that a Divine sentence is his word, and that his 
judgments are irrefragable (ch. xvi. 10), that his wrath is as messengers of 
death, that his favour is light and life (ch. xvi. 14, 15), that his anger is like 
the roaring of a lion, and he puts to the torture those who offend him, while 
his only claim to support at God's hands is the mercy and truth which his 
life exhibits (ch. xx. 2, 26, 28) ? However cast in Solomonic mould, these 
sentences cannot have had Solomon for their author ; so we must conclude 
that, together with his genuine sayings, a multitude of gnomes were extant, 
of various ages and origins, which were attributed popularly to the great 
king, as the founder of that kind of gnomic poetry, the great master of 
proverbial philosophy. That both sections contain very many sayings 
which had him for their author, it is reasonable to suppose, and there is 
nothing to discredit this notion. From what is said of his remarkable 
wisdom, and regarding the form which philosophy assumes in the East, we 
might expect such productions from his mind. If he had for his object 
the instruction of his people, the training of them in sound views of life 
and in the practice of virtue and religion, .he would embody his views in 
terse and pithy sentences, charming the imagination and easy to be remem- 
bered ; he would thus apply Divine truths to the conduct and regulation of 
daily life. This precedent was doubtless followed by other sages, and thus 
in addition to and in connection with the proverbial lore which is accu- 
mulated in every nation by the experience of ages, there grew up a gradually 
increasing store of maxims and apothegms, of a higher order than the 



vulgar sort, yrhich was enshrined in carefally balanced sentences, and 
handed down as a precious heirloom to succeeding generations. 

These considerations, which seem well grounded, account for the compo- 
site character of the Book of Proverbs. Many minds and many ages have 
been concerned in the collection ; it has suffered from interpolation, trans- 
position, addition ; various editors have arranged and rearranged the mate- 
rials before them ; passages reflect the golden age of Israel's monarchy ; 
passages belong to such times as those of Jeroboam II. and his successors. 
It has become impossible to assign assured dates to the several parts, and 
the attempt has led critics to ludicrous conclusions, some from the same 
data attributing to Solomon compositions which others affix to post-exilian 
times. Out of the medley of varying opinions we gather the following 
conclusions. When the men of Hezekiah made their collection, which is 
headed with the words, " These are also proverbs of Solomon," there existed 
already a body of maxims known as Solomon's, to which they were minded 
to make an addition from sources open to them. This previously existing 
collection we may reasonably suppose to be that which at present stands 
immediately before theirs, viz. ch. x. 1 — xxii. 16, and which would thus be 
the older portion. It is expressly called "the proverbs of Solomon; " and 
there can be no reasonable doubt that the traditional account which assigned 
it to the son of David was in the main correct. Knowing the facts of 
Solomon's later career, no collector would have had the hardihood to attri- 
bute many of the utterances therein to him, had they not been universally 
recognized as his. They are doubtless the effusion of earlier days, the col- 
lected outpouring of the happy time when his heart was whole and his faith 
unimpaired ; but who arranged it, or when it received its present shape, 
can only be conjectured. It is not to be supposed that Solomon sat down 
and deliberately composed a book of proverbs such as we now possess. It 
is said that he spahe three thousand proverbs. He must have had scribes 
and secretaries who collected the wisdom that flowed from bis lips during 
the various circumstances of his life and in the various stages of his career 
(1 Kings iv. 3). This formed the nucleus round which accretions gathered 
in the course of time, the acumen of Hebrew critics failing to distinguish 
the genuine from the spurious. From the great mass of proverbial litera- 
ture thus formed Hezekiah's friends made a new selection. What became 
of the rest of the older collection, which is not comprised in our present 
volume, cannot be known. It was evidently preserved among the archives 
of the kingdom which contained accounts, not only of the monarch's acts, 
but also of his wisdom (I Kings xi. 41). As we have said above, the repeti- 
tions of the same proverb in different places indicate a change of authors or 
editors, deriving their materials from the same source, oral or documentary, 
but writing independently. 

The two appendices to this section containing the " words of the wise " 
(ch. xxii. 17— xxiv.) exhibit repetitions which again would indicate a 
variety of authors, or a lack of care in selection. Some passages found 



other parts of the book occur also in these two sections. Thus ch. xxiv. 
20 (as we shall notice directly) appears at ch. xiii. 9 ; ch. xxiv. 23, " To 
have respect of persons is not good," at ch. xxviii. 21 ; and ch. xxiv. 33, 
34 at ch. vi. 10, 11. The first of the appendices is evidently later than the 
first collection ; the structure of the verses is less terse, the parallelism is 
not so strongly marked, sometimes entirely wanting, and the sense is often 
not completed tinder three or even five verses. A comparison of the way 
in which the repetitions above indicated are introduced would lead to the 
impression that the former was the earlier, and that the appendix-writer 
derived certain sentences from that. Thus in ch. xxii. 14 we have the 
statement, " The mouth of strange women is a deep pit ; " but in ch. xxiii. 
27 this is introduced as a reason for the advice in the previous verse, and 
amplified thus : " For a whore is a deep ditch, and a strange woman is 
a narrow pit." So the verse, ch. xi. 14, is enlarged into two in ch. xxiv. 
5, 6; and the unvarnished gnome (ch. xiii. 9), "The light of the righteous 
rejoiceth, but the lamp of the wicked shall be put out," becomes, under the 
manipulation of the transcriber, a warning in quite a different direction : 
"Fret not thyself because of evil-doers, neither be thoo envious at the 
wicked ; for there will be no reward to the evil man ; the lamp of the 
wicked shall be put out " (ch. xxiv. 19, 20). Who can doubt that the sim- 
pler form of these sayings is the original ? Hitzig claims an exilian date 
for this section on the strength of an Aramaic colouring which other critics 
deny, and a supposed borrowing of passages or phrases from Jeremiah 
which seems to be wholly imaginary. How could a poet, banished from his 
own country, make a point of not removing the ancient landmark (ch. xxii. 
28 ; xxiii. 10), or enjoin his hearers to serve their king and avoid innova- 
tors (ch. xxiv. 21) ? There is, indeed, nothing to guide us to any certainty 
in the question, but the style and language reflect those of the first portion 
of our book, and it may possibly have been written about the same period. 
As" in ch. iii. 31, so often in this section (e.g. ch. xxii. 22; xxiv. 15, etc.), 
there are hints of oppressive rulers and iniqaitous governors, which would 
lead us to think of Manasseh and his like. It is reasonable to conclude 
that this appendix was added after Hezekiah's time by an editor who had 
before him the fir^ great collection. The same holds good concerning the 
second little appendix (oh. xxiv. 23—34), which seems to be of contempo- 
raneous origin. Nowack, by comparing the two similar passages in ch. vi. 
10 11 and xxiv. 33, 34, concludes that the former is original, and that the 
appendix-writer has somewhat altered the sentence in transferring it to his 
own repertory. 

We have in some degree indicated what may bo reasonably determined 
about the date and authorship of the central portions of our book. It 
remains to investigate the beginning and the closing sections. The intro- 
duction (ch. i. 1 — 6), describing the character and intent of the work, 
applies virtually not only to the collection immediately succeeding (ch. i. 
7_j,.^^ b^t to other parts of the book, whether the writer had these parta 


before him or not. Who is the author of this first section, the proem, m it 
has been called, is a matter of much dispute. There is some difiSonlty in 
attributing it to Solomon himself. The opening words do not necessarily 
imply that Solomon wrote all that follows. " The Proverbs of Solomon " 
may be introduced as a, formal heading of what may be a gathering of 
fragments from many quarters, composed in Solomon's spirit and instinct 
with his wisdom, but not actually received from his lips or writings. There 
are passages which seem to be derived from Isaiah's prophecy ; e.g. eh. iL 
15, "Whose ways are crooked, and they froward in their paths," is 
parallel to Isa. lis. 8 ; ch. i. 24, 26, 27, to Isa. Izv. 12 and Ixvi. 4. But the 
language is not identical, and the prophet may have been indebted to the 
moralist. More to the purpose is the fact that the second part (ch. z. 1 — 
xxii. 16) is superscribed " The Proverbs of Solomon," which would be 
unnecessary and misleading if the first part was also his composition. To 
this 'it may be answered that this title is more especially appropriate to the 
section as containing proverbs rather than hortatory addresses; and it 
introduced by a different editpr the discrepancy is easily accounted for. 
Others insist that the religious ideas and the form in which they are 
expressed are quite foreign to Solomon's time and standpoint. If the 
teolinical form of the mashal, consisting of distichs displaying well- 
balanced and antithetical clauses, be the form which alone appertains to 
Solumon's age, then it must be allowed that the introdnctory section 
contains very few proper nuishals, but rather is composed of odes of 
varying length, in which, as it were incidentally, a few mashals are 
inserted. The terse single proverb is remarkably absent, and descriptire 
poems, lengthy exhortations, and developments of a given truth, are the 
common characteristics of the piece. Here again, however, there is no 
certainty that Solomon regarded himself as bound to keep to one law in 
the composition of proverbs, or that he did not employ other and more 
elaborate methods of expressing his sentiments. The presumption is 
certainly against the two parts having the same author, but the idea is not 
irrational. Delitzsch has produced another argument. He dwells upon 
the different idea of Wisdom afforded by the two sections. In the former, 
Wisdom appears as an Independent personality, dwelling with God before 
all creation, and operating in the prodaction of the visible world, and busy- 
ing itself with the affairs of men ; in the latter, Wisdom is a moral quality, 
which is grounded in the fear of God, teaches men to recognize the truth., 
and to regulate their lives according to the rules of religion. Doubtless 
the view of Wisdom in the proem is an advance on and a development of 
the conception in the other section. Speculation had progressed, schools 
of wise men had been formed, preceptors addressed their pupils as " son," 
and Wisdom was regarded as the chief motor of moral and religious action. 
The chohna is no longer an idea, a code, or a subjective thoTtght ; it has 
an objective existence, carried back to eternity, fellow-worker with God. 
This consideration is decisive against the identity of authorship in the two 


parts, and disposes one to allow more weight to the undecisiye arguments 
mentioned above. The parssnetical form adopted in the introduction, so 
different from the proverb proper, points to the influence of the prophetic 
element, hardly arrived at public utterances and documentary testimony in 
Solomon's time, but afterwards the great power in the state and the common 
support of the religious life. Many passages breathe the spirit of Deutero- 
nomy, which in the minds of some critics would at once be a proof of very 
late origin, but of course have no such look for those who hold the Mosaic 
authorship of the Pentateuch. Others are remarkably simUar to parts of 
the Book of Job, and are evidently more or less borrowed from that source ; 
but as the date of that writing is still undecided, nothing can be deduced 
from this fact. Taking all that has been said into consideration, and care- 
fully weighing the opinions which have been put forth on the question, we 
regard this section as the composition of one author, and that not Solomon, 
except in so far as it breathes his spirit and possibly embodies many of his 
sayings. It is no argument against this last suggestion, that Solomon 
would not be found discoursing against unchastity of which his own later 
life was a flagrant example. There is no reason why this wisest of men 
should not have uttered such warnings in the earlier and purer part of his 
career. It was probably arranged in its present shape by the editor of the 
first great collection of Solomonic proverbs, and placed by him as an intro- 
duction to this work. The eloquence of the piece is of the very highest 
order, and exhibits the inspiration of a true prophet, but the writer must 
remain unknown. It is only natural to consider that such magnificent 
passages as those contained in ch. vii. and ix. were composed by a man of no 
mean attainments, and one can think of no one able to write them but 
Solomon himself, especially inspired by God with wisdom beyond all men ; 
but this impression does not vanquish opposing criticism, and we can only 
concede that the section is worthy of Solomon, and probably contains some 
of his lore, garnered and lovingly reproduced by a kindred spirit. 

The last two chapters (xx'x. and xxxi.) present some difficult questions, 
which have always exercised the ingenuity of critics, and which cannot 
even now be determined with any certainty. Ch. xxx. opens (accord- 
ing to the Authorized Version) thus: "The words of Agur the son of 
Jakeh, even the prophecy : the man spake unto Ithiel, even unto Ithiel and 
Ucal." Nothing whatever is known about any of the persons here supposed 
to be mentioned. The name Ithiel, indeed, occurs once in Nehemiah 
(xi. ?) ; but the Benjamite thus called can have nothing to do with the 
person in our verse. It is conjectured that Agur was some well-known 
sage, Hebrew or foreign, whose sayings were thought by some late editor 
to be worthy of a place beside the proverbs of Solomon. Jewish interpre- 
ters have explained the names symbolically of Solomon himself. Agur may 
mean " Gatherer," " Convener," from agar, " to; collect," and is applied to 
the wise king, either as " master of assemblies " (Ecoles. xii. 11), or col- 
lector of wisdom and maxims, elsewhere called koheleth (Eccles. i. 1), though 


this interpretation of the latter word is very qnestionable. Jakeh ia 
rendered "Obedient" or "Pious," so "the Gatherer, son of the Obedient," 
would designate Solomon, son of David. St. Jerome countenances the 
allegorical interpretation by rendering, " Verba Congregantis filii Vomentis." 
But one sees no reason why the king, whose name has been freely used in 
the previous sections, should now be introduced under an allegorical appel- 
lation. Certainly, much that is contained in the chapter may be regarded 
as symbolical, bat that is scarcely sufficient reason for making the teacher 
also symbolical. Why, again, should this section be separated from the rest 
of Solomon's words, and not incorporated with the great body of his 
collection ? What object could there be in introducing another batch of 
the king's proverbs after the " words of the wise " ? If this piece had been 
in existence in early times, Hezekiah would surely not have omitted placing 
it in its proper position in his own repertory. The contents, however 
leave no doubt on the subject. Solomon never could have uttered what 
foUowB : — 

" Surely I am more brutish than any man. 
And have not the understanding of a man; 
And I have not learned wisdom " (ch. xxx. 2, 3). 

Ifor could he be blindly groping in darkness after the Creator (ch. xxx. 4) ; 
nor pray that he might have neither poverty nor riches (ch. xxx. 8). The 
notion, therefore, that Solomon himself is here intended must be sur- 
rendered as wholly unfounded. Some have attempted to find Agur'a 
nationality in the word translated "the prophecy" (hamassa). Massa 
" burden," is the word generally used to denote a prophet's message, either 
from its being borne by him to the appointed place, or expressive of its 
grievous nature and awful importance. The term does not seem altogether 
appropriate to the utterances that follow, and Hitzig has started a theory 
which makes the word denote the country from which Agur came. The 
old Venetian Version had given : Ao'yoi 'kyovpov vieus 'Icuceciis row Moo-oou, 
" the words of Agur son of Jakeh the Masaite." Now, there was a son of 
Ishmael named Massa (Gen. xxv.-14; 1 Chron. i. 30), who may have given 
his name to a tribe and a district, as did his brothers Duma and Tema 
(Isa. xxi. 11, 14). It is mentioned in 1 Chron. iv. 38, etc., that certain 
Simeonites in the days of Hezekiah made a raid into the country of Edom, 
and established themselves in Mount Seir, driving out the Amalekitea 
whom they found settled there. Starting fi-om this locality and moving 
northwards towards Damascus, according to Hitzig, they set up the king- 
dom of Massa, and hence issued this piece of poetry not long after the first 
establishment. This, in his view, would account for the peculiarities of 
dialect found in the composition. Others have found a Massa in the town 
Mismije, on the north of the Hauran ; others place it on the north of the 
Persian Gulf. In fact, nothing is known with certainty about the country • 
its very existence is problematical. The most likely supposition is that 
Agur was an Edomite, a worshipper of Jehovah, and weU acquainted with 


Israelitish literatare, being one of the sages for whom Edom was celebitited 
(1 Kings iv. 30), a man whose sayings were deemed of sufficient value and 
inspiration to insert in the sacred canon, though he, like Job, was not 
one of tho chosen people. The more probable rendering of the second 
hemistich of ver. 1 of this chapter, which is given in the margin of the 
Revised Version, is noted in the Exposition, 

As Agnr is considered a symbolical name of Solomon, so is Lemuel in the 
next chapter, which opens thus : " The words of King Lemuel, the burden 
which his mother taught him." Lemuel (or Lemoel, as ver. 4) means 
" Unto God," equivalent to " Dedicated to God ; " and it is supposed to be 
applied to Solomon, who from infancy was dedicated to God, and called by 
him Jedidiah, "Beloved of the Lord" (2 Sam. xii. 25). But there is no 
good reason for supposing Solomon to be designated Lemuel. If Agnr 
meant Solomon, why is the name now suddenly changed ? And how can 
we suppose the following address to have been spoken by Bathsheba, the 
adulteress and virtual murderess ? This is a difficulty not resolved by 
regarding " the mother " as a personification of the Hebrew Church, which 
is an arbitrary assumption invented to meet an objection, rather than 
necessitated by an observation of evidence. Those who saw in Massa the 
country of Agur's residence, would here likewise translate, " the words of 
Lemuel, King of Massa," and weave a pleasing fiction whereby Agur and 
Lemuel become the sons of a Queen of Massa, who is supposed to have been, 
like the Queen of Sheba, a diligent seeker of wisdom. This may be true, 
but it is a mere conjecture, which cannot be verified. K it is accepted, 
Lemuel would be an Ishmaelite, whose home was in North Arabia, and who 
belonged to the company of the wise men for whom Arabia was proverbial. 
At tho same time, it is unlikely that the production of an alien, particularly 
of a jealously regarded Ishmaelite, should be admitted to the sacred canon. 
Of course, there is the difficulty concerning the origin of the Book of Job, 
but as that controversy is not settled, we cannot regard this as an objection. 
Laying aside the theory of Lemuel being a non-Israelite, we must regard 
the word as the appellation of an ideal king, whether the poet looked back 
to Salomon or Hezekiah, whom he represents as taught by a careful mother 
in the way of piety and justice. Concerning the date of these appendices 
there is little to guide us in our determination, except that the language 
points to composition at a later period than the former portions of the 
book. We have many dialectical variations, Aramaic and Arabic expres. 
sions which do not occur in the earlier sections, and which were not, as far 
as we know, current in Southern Israel before Hezekiah's reign, nor probably 
for some long time after. The free, terse proverb is now wholly wanting, 
a strained, mechanical composition taking its place; we have enigmas 
instead of maxims, laboured odelets instead of neat distichs — productions in 
quite different style from those hitherto handled, and showing a decline of 
creative power and a tendency to make artificiality and mechanical skill 
take the place of thought and novelty. The passages which are similar to, 

ixir m¥K0t)tlCT10N TO 

and may have been derived from, Job cannot be" used in proof of the late 
date of these sections, as the era of that work is undetermined ; but the 
painful consciousness of man's ignorance in the presence of the great Creator, 
■which meets us, as in Job, so in this appendix (eh. xxx. 2, etc.), implies a 
speculative activity very foreign to the earlier Hebrew mind, and indicative 
of contact with other elements, and acquaintance with philosophical ques- 
tions far removed from the times of the primordial monarchy. Some, 
accordingly, have attributed the pieces to post-exilian days ; but there is not 
a shadow of proof for this, not an expression or an allusion which confirms 
such a notion ; and Delitzsch is probably correct when he dates their pro- 
duction at the end of the seventh or the beginning of the sixth century B.C. 
The closing poem, the praise of the virtuous woman, is probably still 
later, and certainly by a difEerent hand. The alphabetical ode is not found 
tfll the very latest period of Hebrew poetry, though it is impossible to affix 
any definite date for its production. 

§ 4. Gbkebal Charagtsb. 

The whole Book of the Proverbs is rhythmical in construction, and it is 
rightly so printed in the Revised Version as to exhibit this characteristic. 
The great feature of Hebrew poetry, as every one knows, is parallelism," the 
balancing of thought against thought, corresponding in form and often in 
sound, so that one line is an echo of the other. The second member is 
either equivalent to the first, or contrasted with it or similar to it in con- 
struction ; the whole may consist of only two lines forming a distich, which 
is the normal type of proverb, or of three or four or more ; but all con- 
tain one thought expanded on parallel lines. The various shapes which are 
thus assumed by the sentences in our book are thus noted. 

The simplest and earliest form is the distich, a sentence consisting of 
two lines Viaianced one with the other, like — 

• A wise son maketh a glad father : 
But a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother " (ch. x. 1). 

The second part of our book (ch. x. 1 — xxii. 16) consists mainly of such 
sentences. Sometimes the sense extends over three lines, forming a 
tristich, when the thought in the first line is repeated in the second before 
the conclusion is reached. Thus — 

" Though thou shouldest bray a fool in a mortar 
With a pestle among bruised corn, 
Yet will not hia foolishuess depart from him " (ch. xxviL 22). 

Or the idea in the second line is developed by a contrast in the third— 

"Whoso causeth the upright to go astray in an evil way. 
He shall fall himself into his own pit : 
But the perfect shall inherit good " (ch. xxviii. lOX 



Or the additional line produces a proof in confirmation — 

"Thine own friend, and thy father's friend, forsalcenot; 
And go not to thy brother's house in the day of thy calamity : 
Better is a neighbour that is near than a brother that is far olf (ch. xivii.,10X 

Of tetrastichs we find some instances, where the last two lines make the 
application of the others — 

" Take away the dross from the silver, 

And there cometh forth a vessel for the finer t 

Take away the wicked from before the king. 

And his throne shall be established in righteousness " (ch. xxv. i, 6). 

In the maxims consisting of five lines, pentastichs, the last two or three 
generally supply or develop the reason of the preceding — 

" Weary not thyself to be rich : 
Cease from thine own wisdom. 
Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which Is not? 
For riches certainly make themselves wings. 
Like an eagle that flieth toward heaven " (ch. xxiii. 4, 6). 

Of a proverb in six lines, hexastioh, we have a few instances — 

"Deliver them that are carried away unto death. 
And those that are ready to be slain see that thou hold back. 
If thou sayest. Behold, we knew not this; 
Doth not he that weigheth the hearts consider it ? 
And he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it ? 
And shall not he render to every man according to his work?" (ch. xxiv. 11, 12). 

Of the Ji^tastich there is only one example, viz. ch. xxiii. 6 — 8. 

The connected verses in ch. xxiii. 22 — 25 may be regarded as an octastich, 
but when thus extended the proverb becomes a mashal ode, like Ps. xxv., 
xxxiv., xxxvii. Of this character are the introductory parb, which consists 
of fifteen didactic poems, the hortatory address (oh. xxii. 17 — 21), the 
warning against drunkenness (ch. xxiii. 29 — 35), and many other passages, 
especially the praise of the virtuous woman (ch. xxxi. 10, etc.), written in 
ihe form of an alphabetical acrostic. 

The form of the proverb being such as we have described, it remains to 
distinguish the different kinds of parallelisms employed which have led to 
their being arranged into various classes. 

1. The simplest species is the synonymous, where the second hemistich 
merely repeats the first, with some little alteration of words, in order to 
enforce the truth presented in the former ; e,g. — 

"The liberal soul shall be made fat; 
And be that watereth shall be watered also himself " (ch. xi. 25). 

" He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty ; 
And he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city " (ch. xvi. 32\ 



2 The antithetic presents in the second member a contrast to the first, 
bringing forward a fact or an idea whicb ofPers the other side of the 

•• The labour of the righteous tendeth to life ! 

The increase of the wicked to sin" (ch. x. 16). 
" The thoughts of the righteous are judgment : 
But the counsels of the wicked are deceit" (oh. xH. 5). 

These are, perhaps, of more frequent occurrence than any. Sometimes 
the form is interrogative — 

"The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity: 
But a broken spirit who can bear?" (ch. xviii. 14). 

3. Synthesis in logic is an argument advancing regularly from principles 
conceded to a conclusion founded thereon. The term has been loosely 
applied to our subject, and synthetical proverbs are such as contain two 
different truths embodied in the distich, and not necessarily dependent one 
upon another, but connected by some feature common to both. 

«' The fear of the wicked, it shall come upon him ; 
And the desire of the righteous shall be granted " (ch. x. 24). 

The idea of the future is here the connecting link. In the following 
distich the misery which results in both cases is the point : — 

" He that is slack in his work 
Is brother to him that is a destroyer " (ch. xviii. 9). 

4. This last example introduces ns to -what Delitzsch terms the integral 
proverb, where the second line completes the thought which is only begun 
in the first — 

" The law of the wise is a fountain of life. 
To depart from the snares of death " (ch. xiii. 14). 

" The eyes of the Lord are in every place. 
Keeping watch upon the evil and the good" (ch. xv. 3). 

This is called also progressive, a gradation being presented from the less to 
the greater, or the greater to the less, as — 

" Bt;hold, the righteous shall be recompensed in the earth : 
How much more the wicked and the sinner 1 " (oh. xi 31). 

" Sheol and Abaddon are before the Lord : 
How much more then the hearts of the children of men I " (ch. xv. 11). 

5. The fifth sort of proverb is named the parabolic, which is, perhaps, the 
most striking and significant of all, and capable of manifold expression. 
Herein a fact in nature or in common life is stated, and an ethical lesson 
grounded upon it. The comparison is sometimes intraduced by particles— 

" As vinegar to the teeth, and as smoke to the eyes, 
go is the sluggard to them that send him" (ch. x. 26). 


Sometimes it is suggested by mere JTixtaposition: — 

" A jewel of gold in a swine's snout, 
A fair woman which is without discretion " (ch. xL 22), 

Or it is introduced by " and,'' the so-called vae adeequatioiiit — 

" Cold water to a thirsty soul. 
And good news from a far country" (cb. xit. 25). 

" For lack of wood the fire goeth out. 
And where there is no whisperer, contention ceaseth" (oh. xxvi. 20). 

To the forms here specified must be added the numerical proverb (middah, 
"measure"), where a certain number is stated in the first line, -which is 
usually increased bj one in the second, and thus a kind of climax ia formed 
which gives force and piquancy to the sentence. Familiar examples occur 
in Amos i., where we find a series of propositions commencing with the 
words, " For three, . . . yea, for four," etc. There is only one of these 
in our book from ch. i. to xxix., and that is the octasHch, ch. vi. 16 — 19, 
beginning — 

" There he six things which the Lord hateth. 
Yea, seven which are an abomination unto him/ 

But there are many in ch. xxx., viz. vers. 15, 18, 21, 29. These are all in 
the form mentioned above, the first-named number being augmented by 
one. Two more are of simpler form, being not olimacterio, viz. vers. 7 — 9, 
24 — 28. The latter, e.g., says — 

"There are four things which are little upon the earth. 
But they are exceeding wise ; " 

and then proceeds to specify the ants, conies, locusts, and lizards. 

The last two chapters possess a character of their own, quite distinct 
from the rest of the work ; ch. xxx. being for the most part destitute of 
parallelism, Lemuel's words forming a continuous instruction in which the 
second member of each verse repeats the idea and almost the very words of 
the first, and the eulogium of the virtuous woman taking the shape of an 
acrostic ode. 

Of the principles which guided the editors in their arrangement of the 
material before them, it is impossible to give any satisfactory account. 
Sometimes the proverbs are loosely connected by certain catchwords which 
occur in a series. Thus in ch. xii. 5 — 7 the link is found in the recurrence 
of the words " righteous " (tsaddik) and " wicked " (rasha) ; in ch. x. 8, 13, 
20, 21, we have in the Hebrew continually the word leh, "heart; " so in 
ch. xii. 8, 11, 20, 23, 25, and elsewhere. Sometimes the subject supplies 
the connection, as in ch. xviii. 10, 11, where the fortress' of faith and that 
of presumption are contrasted; ch. xxii. 30, 31, where the overruling of 
God's providence is the theme. JBut generally the grouping ia arbitrary, 
and the attempt, like that of Zookler, to give a synoptical account of th« 
contents is far from satisfactory. 

uvtti INTfiOCtJCTlON TO 

Such, then, is the mashal collection in this book regarded in its 
mechanical aspect. Viewed as poetry, it offers the greatest contrasts, 
ranging from the bald and commonplace to the heights of the sublime. If 
we meet with vulgar truisms in one place, in another we are sitting at the 
feet of a bard who discourses of heavenly things with pure and fervid 
eloquence. If in one place we find only maxims of secular tendency, to be 
taken as the outcome of worldly experience in matters of daily life, in 
another we are dealing with parables of things Divine, which need and are 
intended to receive spiritual handling, and cannot be thoroughly understood 
under any other treatment. The portrait of Wisdom is an adumbration of 
the eternal Son of God, who invites all to share his bounty and enrich them- 
selves from his boundless store. The " strange woman " is not merely a 
representation of vice ; she is a type of the great opponent of Christ, the 
antichrist, the false doctrine, the harlotry of the intellect, which opposes the 
truth as it is in Jesus. And the virtuous woman is not merely an example 
of the perfect woman, wife, and mother ; but also a figure of the Church of 
God, with all its ennobling influence, its vivifying ordinances, its super- 
natural graces. 

The book reflects the circumstances of the times in which its various 
parts were composed. There are pictures of savage rapine and plunder, 
insecurity of life and property, and the evils that attend days of 
anarchy and confusion. There are pictures of peace and prosperity, quiet 
home-life, agriculture, grazing, farming, with its pleasures and profit. 
There are signs of luxury, bringing in its train excess, profligacy, fraud, 
covetousness. There is the ideal king, upright, discerning, pious, the enemy 
of all that is base, dishonourable, or vicious, the re warder of the just and 
God-fearing. There is the ruler, tyrannical, oppressive, iniquitous, hated 
by his subjects, and caring nothing for their best interests. Here we have 
the judge whose verdict is as God's own judgment, pure and equitable ; 
there the judge venal, corrupt, selling the truth, perverting the right, and 
making the tribunal a mart for the gain of filthy lucre. On these and such- 
like circumstances the Proverbs offer warnings and instructions ; antidotes 
against evil influences ; encouragements to perseverance in the right way. 
Much may have originally been written by, Solomon for the benefit of his 
son Rehoboam, who in that age was exposed to peculiar temptations ; but 
thereby the Holy Spirit has produced a manual fitted for the use of all who 
in active life are open to the seductions of their time and country and 
society. We have spoken above of the use of secondary motives in the 
teaching of our book ; but we must not omit to observe that, under the earthly 
and secular element, there is present a vein of heavenly wealth. The con- 
sciousness of a Divine presence, of a moral Governor, of an exterior Law- 
giver, dominates every lesson. The heart is to be guarded whose secrets are 
known only to God ; the tongue is to be diligently watched, though human 
law punishes not its transgressions. All actions are to be referred to God's 
will and Word, and are only right when conformed to these. 



The absence of all mention of polytheism, which some have used as a 
reason for assigning a post-exilian date to the book, may be other-wise 
accounted for. If the Proverbs reflect the earlier days of Solomon's reign, 
before his great decline and apostasy, the days when the temple had newly 
been built and consecrated, and men's minds were filled with the grand 
ceremonies of its opening services and the marvels which attended its dedi- 
cation, there would be then no tendency to idolatry, the evil propensity 
for unlawful worship would at any rate for a time have been checked, and 
the moralist would have had no reason for warning against this particular 

§ 5. History op the Text. 

The Boot of Proverbs has always been enumerated by the Jews among 
the twenty-two books into which they divided their canon. Thus it was 
found to be by Melito of Sardis, when he personally investigated the matter 
during his journey in the East, as mentioned by Eusebius (' Hist. Bccl.,' 
iv. 26). To the same effect is the testimony of Origen, adduced also by 
Eusebius (ibid., vi. 25). In the Christian Church the catalogues of Holy 
Scripture drawn up by oouncils and private persons never fail to include 
Proverbs in the canon. The frequent quotation of the work by the writers 
of the New Testament (e.g. Rom. xii. 1.6, 17; 2 Cor. ix. 7, Septuagint, etc.) 
placed it at once beyond the pale of doubt, and lent indisputable confirma- 
tion to its claims. The inspiration of the works attributed to Solomon was 
indeed denied by Theodore of Mopsuestia at the end of the fourth century, 
but his opinions found no support among the orthodox, and were condemned 
by the Fifth (Ecumenical Council. Since that time no doubt has ever been 
thrown by Christians upon the claim of our book to its place in the sacred 
volume. But the settlement of the original text is quite a different matter 
from establishing the canonicity of the work as a whole. To compare with 
the existing Masoretic text we have the Targnm, the Syriao, Greek, and 
Latin versions, all of which present variations from the original which we 


The Targum, which usually takes the form of a Chaldee Paraphrase, is 
in the present case a tolerably close version without much comment or 
additional matter. It is plainly dependent upon the Syriac in a great 
degree, though it varies from it occasionally, the translator having other 
sources to appeal to. In many passages the Peshito and the Targum agree 
in receding from the Masoretic readipg, in these often coinciding with the 
Septuagint, which version it is most unlikely that the Tavgumist himself 
consulted, the strictest of Hebrews holding that translation in abhorrence. 
Noldeke concludes that a Jew took the Syriac as the foundation of a 
Targum, but also consulted the Masoretic text, correcting from it certain 
prominent errors, but for the most part leaving the rest unaltered. 

The Syriao itself offers many remarkable deviations from our text, mot 


only affording interpretations wliicli denote different wording and pointing, 
bat often introducing whole verses or clauses which have no representative 
in the Hebrew. It is evident that when this version was made, the Hebrew 
text was still unsettled, and what we now receive was not nnivei-sally 
recognized. Very probably under these variations are concealed genuine 
readings which would otherwise be lost. Many of these are noticed in the 
Erposition. The Syriao translator has made free use of the Septuagint, and 
laid great weight on its renderings, often endorsing its mistakes and 
paraphrastic explanations. 

The Latin Vulgate, the work of St. Jerome, is also greatly indebted to 
the LXX., though he has not always slavishly followed it against the 
authority of the present Hebrew ; when he does do so, it is in cases where 
the text seemed unintelligible without the help of the Greek, or where the 
pointing was not determined by any traditional decision. What use he 
made of the old Itala cannot be determined, though it seems to be assured 
that many of the additions found in his version occur also in the more 

Of the Septuagint Version, as the most important of all, there is more to 
be said. When it was made it is impossible to say, though it must have 
been in existence before Ecclesiasticus was writtSn, as it seems clear that 
Ben-Sira had it before him when he translated his senior's work. The trans- 
lator was well acquainted with Greek literature, and aimed rather at pro- 
ducing a respectable literary work than offering a simple representation of 
the original. He renders freely, paraphrasing where he thought it neces- 
sary, and even, as it seems, altering words or phrases to make his meaning 
clearer, or his sentence more flowing. The version shows traces of more 
than one hand being concerned in arranging the present text, as we find some- 
times double renderings of the same passage, and sometimes two incompa- 
tible translations blended confusingly into one. Thus, ch. i. 27, after, "When 
affliction and siege come upon you," is added, " or when destruction shall 
come upon you;" ch. ii. 2, "Thine ear shall listen to wisdom, thon shalt 
also apply thine heart to understanding, and thou shalt apply it to the 
instruction of thy son; " ch. vi. 25, " Let not the desire of beauty overcome 
thee, neither be thou captiM-ed with thine eyes, neither be thou caught with 
her eyelids;" ch. iii. 15, "She is more valuable than precious stones, no 
evil thing shall oppose her; she is well known to all who approach her, and no 
precious thing is worthy of her." There is also evidence of carelessness and . 
want of precision here as in other portions of the Greek Version. But there 
can be no doubt that many of the variations are owed to a different original, 
That the LXX. had not our Masoretic text before them is proved by more 
than one consideration. In the first place, the order of chapter and verse, 
so to speak, was not the same as in our present book. Up to ch. xxiv. 22 
the two for the most part coincide, though there is some variation in ch. xv. 
and xvi.; and again in ch. xvii. and xx. single verses are dislocated and 
inserted elsewhere. But at ch. xxiv. 23 a notable change occurs. Here is 


introdaoed ch. xxix. 27; then follow four disticlis not found in the Hebrew; 
then ch. xxx. 1 — 14, succeeded by oh. xxiv. 23 — 34 ; then comes the rest of 
ch. XXX., yiz. from ver. 15 up to eh. xxxi. 9. Thus the words of Agur are 
divided into two sections ; and the superscriptions there and at the begin- 
ning of ch. xxx. being removed, the proverbs of Agur and Lemuel are 
joined without reserve to those of Solomon. The praise of the virtuous 
woman closes the book, as in the Hebrew. What led the translator to 
make these changes is a difficult question. Hitzig considers that the 
writer confounded the columns of the manuscript before him, two being on 
each page, and the proverbs of Agur and Lemuel being ranked before ch. 
XXV,, and understood traditionally as Solomon's. That this was the trans- 
lator's idea we see from the inscription which he has inserted at ch. xxiv. 
23, " These things I say to you who are wise," where the speaker must 
necessarily be Solomon. Instead of "The words of Agur" (ch. xxx. 1), 
he writes, " Fear my words, my son, and receiving them repent ; " and in 
oh. xxxi. 1, again, he finds no proper name in Lemuel, but renders, " My 
words have been spoken by God the King." Another circumstance which 
shows that the Greek translator had before him a different text from ours 
is that he presents us with many passages which are not fonnd in the 
Hebrew, and omits many which now have a place therein. 

The list of such variations would be very large. Among the additions 
we may notice the following : At the end of ch. iv., which seems to close 
somewhat abruptly,, we have two verses, " For the ways which are on the 
right hand God knoweth, but those on the left are crooked ; and he it is 
who will make thy tracks straight, and will guide thy goings in peace." 
In ch. ix. there are two great additions : after ver. 12, " He that stays 
himself upon lies, he shepherdeth winds, and he will pursue birds as they 
fly ; for he has forsaken the ways of his own vineyard, and has caused the 
axles of his own field to go astray, and he passeth through a waterless 
desert, and a land established in drought, and gathers with his hands fruit- 
lessness ; " and at ver. 18, " But hasten thou away, delay not in the place, 
neither fix thine eye upon her, for then shalt thou go through strange water ; 
but from strange water abstain thou, and of a strange fountain drink not, 
that thou mayest live long, and years of life may be added to thee." 
Whether these and such-like sentences are genuine or not cannot be deter- 
mined. They look very commonly Hke explanations or amplifications of 
the original which have crept from the margin into the text. Thus ch. xi. 
16, " A gracious woman raiseth glory for her husband, but a seat of dis- 
honour is a woman hating righteousness; the slothful come to lack wealth, but 
the brave are supported by wealth." Here the Syriao gives, " The slothful 
shall be poor even with their riches ; but the spirited shall sustain wisdom." 
The words in italics seem to be mere glosses. So ch. xviii. 22, " He who 
finds a good wife finds favours ; and receives gladness from God: He who 
puttetli away a good wife putteth away good things, and he that keepeth 
«a adulteress is foolish and ungodly." Of the '•»ager 'ntercalations tb« 


most celebrated is that concerning the bee (ch. yi. 8), which follows the 
lesson on the ant : " Or go to the bee, and learn how diligent she is, and 
how noble a work she performeth ; whose labours kings and private persons 
use for health, and she is desired- by all and of good repute ; and although 
she is weak in strength, yet because she regardeth wisdom she is highly 
honoured." There is another long interpolation respecting the king and 
his power which succeeds ch. xxiv. 22 : "A son that keepeth the word shall 
be far from destruction. Receiving he receiveth it. Let no falsehood be 
spoken by the mouth of a king, and let no falsehood proceed from his 
tona^ue. The king's tongue is a sword, and not one of flesh ; whosoever 
shall be delivered over to it shall be utterly cr'ushed. For if his anger be 
provoked, he consumes men together with their sinews, and devoureth 
men's bones, and burneth them as a flame, so that they cannot be eaten by 
the young of eagles." The last clause seems to refer to the opinion that 
birds of prey will not touch carcases struck by lightning. After ch. xix. 7, 
which is given thus : " Every one who hates a poor brother shall also be far 
from friendship," we have, " Good understanding will draw near to them 
that know it ; and a prudent man will find it. He that doth much evil 
perfects mischief, and he that useth provoking words shaU not be saved." 
An additional illustration is sometimes added. Thus, in ch. xxv. 20, omit- 
ting the reference to leaving off a garment in cold weather, the LXX. give, 
"As vinegar is inexpedient for a sore, so suffering falling on the body 
afflicts the heart. As moth in a garment and worm in wood, so a man's 
grief injures the heart." In ch. xxvii. 20 we have, " An abomination to the 
Lord is he who fixeth his eye, and the uninstructed are incontinent in 
tongue." And in the next verse, " The heart of the lawless seeketh evils, 
but an upright heart seeketh knowledge." The addition in ch. xxvi. 11 
occurs in Ecclus. iv. 21, " There is a shame that bringeth sin, and there 
is a shame that is glory and grace." The Grreek origin of the translation 
appears plainly in some of the interpolations. Thus in ch. xvii. 4, " To the 
faithful belongeth the whole world of riches, but to the unfaithful not even 
an obole." 

The minor interpolations are too numerous to specify. They are for the 
most part noticed as they occur in the Exposition, in which also the many 
deviations from the received Hebrew text in words and clauses are mentioned. 
The additions are not of much value morally or religiously, and cannot 
bear comparison with the genuine proverbs. Whether they are corruptions 
of the Hebrew text, or corrections and additions made by the ti-anslators 
themselves, cannot be decided. It must be noted, in conclusion, that the 
Greek Version omits many passages which are now found in our Hebrew 
Bibles ; e.g. ch. i. 16 ; viii. 32, 33 ; xi. 3, 4 ; xv. 31 ; xvi. 1, 3 ; xviii. 23, 24 ; 
xix. 1, 2 ; XX. 14 — 19 ; xxi. 5 ; xxii. 6 ; xxiii. 23. 

Of the versions of Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion, fragments have 
been transmitted in Origen's great work, which sometimes afford light in 
the rendering of difficult words. There is also another translation known 


•8 Yeneta, very literal, and made about the ninth century of onr era. li 
belongs to St. Mark's Library at Venice, and has been published, first in 
1784, and again of late years. 

§ 6. Abranoement in Sections. 

The various superscriptions in the book for the most part divide it into 
its several parts. There is one at the very beginning, "The Proverbs of 
Solomon ; " the same words are repeated at ch. z. 1 ; at ch. zxii. 17 a new 
section is commenced with the words, " Bow down thine ear, and hear the 
words of the wise ; " another at qh. xxiv, 23 with the remark, " These things 
also belong to the wise." Then at ch, xxv. 1 we have, " These are also the 
Proverbs of Solomon which the men of Hezekiah copied out ; " at ch. xxx. 1, 
*' the words of Agur ; " at ch. xxxi. 1, " the words of Lemuel," followed by 
the acrostic ode of the virtuous woman. 

Thus the book may conveniently be divided into nine parts^ 

Part L Title and superscription. Ch, i, 1 — 6. 

Past II. Fifteen hortatory discourses, exhibiting the excellence of wLsdum «nd 
encouraging the pursuit thereof. Ch. i. 7 — ix, 18. 

1, First hortatory discourse. Ch. i. 7 — 19. 

2. Second „ „ Ch. i. 20—33. 
• 3, Third „ „ Ch. 11. 

4. Fourth „ „ Ch. ili. 1—18. 

5. Fifth „ „ Ch, ill, 19—26. 

6. Sixth „ „ Ch. iii. 27—35. 

7. Seventh „ „ Ch. iv, 

8. Eighth „ „ Ch. v. 

9. Ninth „ „ Ch. vi. 1—5. 

10. Tenth „ „ Ch vi. 6—11. 

11. Eleventh „ „ Ch. vi. 12—19. 

12. Twelfth „ „ Ch. vi. 20--35. 

13. Thirteenth „ „ Ch. vii. 

14. Fourteenth „ „ Ch, viii. 

15. Fifteenth „ „ Ch. ix. 

Pabt III. First great collection of (375) Solomonic proverbs, mostly unconnected. 
Ch, X, 1 — xxii, 16, — divided into lour sections, viz. ch. x. 1 — ^xil. 28; xiii. 1 — xv. 19; 
XV. 20— xix. 25 ; xix, 26— xxii. 16. 

Part IV. First appendix to first collection, containing " words of the wise." 
Ch. xxii. 17— xxiv. 22. 

Part V. Second appendix to first collection, containing further "words of the 
wise." Ch. xxiv. 23-34. 

Part VI. Second great collection of Solomonic proverbs gathered by "men of 
Hezekiah," Ch. xxv. — xxix. 

Pakt VII. First appendix to second collection : " words of Agur." Ch. xxx. 

Part VIII. Second appendix to second collection: "words of Lemuel." Ch, 
xxxi. 1 — 9. , 

Part IX. Third appendix to second collection : acrostic ode in praise of the virtuou.-. 
woman. Ch. xxxi. ICf — 31. 

§ 7. Litebatube. 

The Fathers have for the most part not formally commented on this book. Origeii 
and Basil have commentaries hereon: ' Ex Commentariis in Proverbia,' Orig., 'Op.,' iii.; 
'In Prinoipiura Prov.,' Basil., ii. Besides these there u Bede, 'Exposit. AUegor. 

PB0VXBB8. ' 


Among the nnmerous expositions of later date the most useful are the follciriDg: 
Salazar, 1619; Cornelius i, Lapide, 1635, etc.; Melancthon, 'Op.,' ii.; Bossuet, 
■Notas,' 1673; Hammond, 'Paraphrase,' iv.; Michaelis, ' Adnotationes,' 1720; Aben 
Ezra, 1620, and edit, by Horowitz, 1884; Schulteus, 1748; Umbreit, 1826; Eosenmiiller, 
1829 ; Lowenstein, 1838 ; Maurer, 1838 ; Berthcau, 1847 ; re-edited by Nowack, 1883 ; 
Stuart, 1852; Bwald, 'Spriiohe Sal.,' 1837, 1867; Hitzig, 1858; Zockler, in Lange's 
'Bibelwerk,* 1867; Vaihinger, 1857; Delitzsch, in Clarke's 'For. Libr.;' Reuss, 
I'aris, 1878; PluBJptre, in the 'Speaker's Commentary;' Bishop Wordsworth ; Nutt, in 
Bishop EUicott's Commentary ; Strack, in • Kurzgef. Kommentar,' 1889. The ' Topical 
Arrangemeni ' uf Br. Stock will be found useful ; aliio ike Introductiuus of Eichfiora. 
Ho Wette. Bertholdt. Keil, and BlMk. 




Vera. 1—6.— Part I. The Title and 
Superscription. The superscription of the 
Proveiba, which extends from ver. 1 to ver- 
6, furnishes us with an epitome in short and 
concise language of the general scope and 
bearing of the book, and points out its 
specific utility, both to the inexperienced 
and to those already wise. Thus (1) in ver. 
1 it girea the name of the author to whom 
the proverba are attributed; (2) in vers. 2 
and 3 it declares the aim, object, or design of 
the collection, which is to lead to the acquire- 
ment of wisdom generally ; and (3) in vers. 
4 — 6 it proceeds to indicate the speciiil 
utility the collection will be to two main 
classes — to the simple and immature, on the 
one hand, in opening and enlarging their 
understanding, and so providing them with 
prudent rules of conduct by which they may 
regulate the course of life; and, on the 
other, to the wise and intelligent, in further 
increasing their knowledge or learning, and 
thus rendering them competent to compre- 
hend, and also t« explain to others less 
favourably situated than themselves, other 
proverbs, or enigmas, or sayinga, of a like 
recondite nature to those now to be brought 
before them. 

The title of the book embodied in the text 
is, 'The Proverbs of Solomon the son of 
David, King of Israel,' but the shorter de- 
signation by which it was and is known 
among the Jews ia Mishle ('Wd), taken from 
the word with which the book begina. 
Analogoualy, in the Authorized Veraion it 
is atyled 'The Proverba,' and the heading 
in the LXX. ia napoiitlai ioXo/uirToi, The 


outaide title in the Vulgate ii more elaU 
rately given as, ' Liber Proverbiorum, quen 
Hebrtei Misle appellant ' (' The Book of the 
Proverba, wliioh the Hebrews call Miile'). 
In the Talmud it ia called the 'Book oj 
Wisdom • (nnpri nop, Sepher Kkokhiaak); and 
Origeu (EusebiuB, ' Hist. Eccl.,' vi. 25) de- 
ais;natea it Mi<rAt69, the Greek form of the 
Hebrew M'shaloth (nShda). Among the 
ancient Greek Fathera, e.g. Clement, Hege- 
sippus, IreniBus, the book was known by a 
variety of titles, all more or less descriptive 
of its contents as a repository of wisdom. 

Ver. 1. — The proverbs of Solomon. The 
word which is here translated " proverba " 
is the original mishle C^B'p), the conatiuct 
case olmashdl (^K'p), which, again, is derived 
from the verb mashal (half), signifying (1) 
"to make like," "to assimilate," and (2) 
" to have dominion " (Gesenius). The radical 
signification of mashal is "comparison" or 
" similitude," and in this sense it is applied 
generally to the utterances of the wise. In 
Numb, xxiii. 7, 8 it is used of the prophetic 
predictions of Balaam ; certain didactic 
psalms, e.g. Ps. xlix. 5 ami Ixxviii. 2, are 
so designated, and in Job (xxvii. 1 and 
xxix. 1) it describes the sententious dis- 
courses of wise men. While all these come 
under the generic term of m'shalim, though 
few or no comparisons are found in them, 
we find the term mashal sometimes used of 
what are proverbs in the sense of popular 
aayinga. Compare " Therefore it became a 
proverb (Wp), Is Saul also among the pro- 
phets?" (1 Sam. X. 12); and see also other 
instances in Ezek. xvi. 4 and xviii. 2. ' In 
thia sense it is also found in the eoUeotion 
before us. The predominant idea of the 
term, however, ia that of compariaon oi 
liniilitude, and as such it is better repn- 
aented by the Greek raf/a^oKii (from ira, a 


[oh. 1. 1 — 33. 

piWa, "to set or place Bide by Bide"), 
literally, a placing beside, or comparison, 
than by Trapoi/ila, "a byword," or "a trite 
wayside saying," though in the Greek of 
the synoptic Gospels irapoi/iia is equivalent 
to irapa^oKi). The English word " proverb " 
insufficiently renders the wider scope of 
meaning conveyed in the Hebrew mashdl, 
and is not quite accurately rendered here, 
since of proverbs in our ordinary significa- 
tion of that word there are comparatively 
few in this collection. The Hebrew word 
here means " maxims," " aphorisms," " wise 
counsels." Of Solomon. Most modern com- 
mentators (Delitzsoh, Zockler, Puerst, 
Stuart, Plumptre, etc.), while attributing, 
ill a greater or less degree, the authorship 
of the book to Solomon, regard the insertion 
of his name iu the title as indicating rather 
that he is the dominant spirit among those 
wise men of his age, some of whose sayings 
are here incorporated with his own. King 
of Israel, as forming the second hemistich 
of the verse, goes with " Solomon," and not 
"David." This is indicated in the Authorized 
Version by the position of the comma. The 
Arabic Version omits allusion to David, and 
reads, "Proverbia, nempe documenta Salo- 
monis sapientis, qui regnavit super filios 
Israel." The proverbial or parabolic form 
of teaching was a recognized mode of in- 
struction among the Hebrews, and in the 
Christian Church is recommended by St. 
Clement of Alexandria ('Strom.,' lib. 11, 

Ver. 2. — To know wisdom and instruotion. 
In this verse we have a statement of the first 
general aim or object of the Proverbs. " To 
know" (nyi7, ladaath') is somewhat in- 
definite in the Authorized Version, and 
might be more accurately rendered, " from 
which men may know " (De Wette, Noyes) ; 
of. unde scias (Munsterus). The h which is 
kere prefixed to the infinitive, as in vers. 2, 
8, and 6, gives the clause a final character, 
and thus points out the object which the 
teaching of the Proverbs has in view. The 
teaching is viewed from the standpoint of 
the learner, and hence what is iudicated 
here is not the imparting of knowledge, but 
the reception oi apf rojiriation thereof on the 
part of the I-wmer. Scbultens states that 
the radical meaning of nyT (daath) is the 
reception of knowledge into one's self. 
Wisdom. It will be necessary to go rather 
fully into this word here on its first appear- 
ance in the text. The Hebrew is np?n 
(khokhmah). Wisdom is mentioned tr'ai, 
because it is the end to which all know- 
ledge and instruction tend. The funda- 
mental conception of the word is variously 
represented as either (1) the "power of judg- 
ing," derived from DDg, " to 1» wise," from 

the Arabic, "to judge" (Gesenius); or (2) 
"the fixing of a thing for cognition," derived 
from the Arabic equivalent of the Hebrew 
DDn, as before, which signifies " to fasten " 
(Zockler), or " compactness," from the game 
root as before, "to be firm, or closed." It is 
also variously defined (l) as " insight into 
that upright dealing which pleases God — a 
knowledge of the right way which is to be 
followed before God, and of the wrong one 
which is to be shunned " (Zockler) ; (2) as 
" piety towards God," as in Job xxviii. 28 
(Gesenius); (3) as " the knowledge of thing! 
in their being and in the reality of their 
existence " (Delitzsoh). The word is trans- 
lated in the LXX. by irocpla, and in the 
Vulgate by eapientia. The Hebrew khokh- 
mah and the Greek iTo<pla so far agree ai 
philosopliical terms in that the end of each 
is the same, viz. the striving after objective 
wisdom, the moral fitness of things; but the 
character of the former differs from that 
of the latter in being distinctly religious. 
The beginning and the end of the khokh- 
mah, wisdom, is God (cf. ver. 7). Wisdom, 
then, is not the merely scientific know- 
ledge, or moral philosophy, but knowledge 
kut' i^oxh", i.e. religious knowledge or 
piety towards God; i.e. an appreciation of 
what God requires of us and what we con- 
versely owe to God. "Sapientia est de 
divinis" (Lyra). Wisdom will, of course, 
carry with it the notions of knowledge anl 
insight. Instruction. As the preceding word 
represents wisdom in its intellectual concep- 
tion, and has rather a theoretical character, 
so " instruotion," Hebrew, iDip (musar), re- 
presents it on its practical side, and as such 
is its practical complement. The Hebrew 
musar signifies properly '* chastisement," 
from the root yasdr (no;), "to correct," or 
*' chastise," and hence education, moral 
training; and hence in the LXX. it is 
rendered by watSeTa, which means both the 
process of education (cf. Plato, 'Eepub.,' 
376, E.; Arist., 'Pol.,' 8. 3) and its result 
as learning (Plato, ' Prob.,' 327, D.). The 
Vulgate has disoipUna. In relation to 
wisdom, it is antecedent to it ; i.e. to know 
wisdom truly we must first become ac- 
quainted with instruction, and hence it ii 
a preparatory step to the knowledge of 
wisdom, though here it is stated rather 
objectively. The words, "wisdom and in- 
struction," are found in exactly the same 
collocation in ch. iv. 13 and xxiii. 23. In 
its strictly disciplinary sense, "instruction" 
occurs in ch. iii. 11, with which comp. Heb. 
xii. 5. Holden takes this word as "moral 
discipline" iu the highest sense. To per- 
ceive the words of understanding ; literally, 
to discern the words of discernment; i.e. " to 
comprehend the utterances which proceed 
from intelligence, and give expresaion to 

OH. 1. 1 — 33.] 


it" (DelitzBoh). Underttanding ; Hebrew, 
tinah (nya), connected with the hiph. 0*3r)? 

I'havin), properly "to distinguish," hence 
"to discern," of the same clause, signifies 
the capability of discerning the true from 
the false, good from bad, etc. With this 
agrees Cornelius i Lspide, who says, "Dnde 
prudenter discernas inter bonum et malum, 
licitum et illlcitura, utile et noxium, verum 
et lalsum," and from which you are enabled 
to know what to do in any circumstances, and 
what not to do. The LXX. renders the 
word by <l>p6yri(ris, the Vulgate by prudentia. 
^povriffis, in Plato and Aristotle, is the virtue 
concerned in the government of men, manage- 
ment of affairs, and the like (see Plato, 
•Sym.,' 209, A.; Arist., 'Eth.,' N. 6. 5 and 
8), and means practical wisdom, prudence, 
or moral wisdom. Van Ess, Allioli, Holden, 
translate " piudence." 

Ver. 3. — To receive the instruction of 
wisdom. This verse carries on the state- 
ment of the design of the Proverbs. To 
receive; Hebrew, nnj5^ (lakalchath), not the 
same word as " to know " (npn';), in ver. 2, 
though regarded as synonymous with it by 
Delitzsoh. Its meaning is well represented 
by the LXX. Sf^aa-Bai, and the Authorized 
Version " to receive." The Hebrew, nn[37, 
is infinitive, and means properly " to take, 
or lay hold of," hence " to receive," Greek, 
Se'xo/iai. No doubt it conveys the idea of 
intellectual reception (cf ch. ii. 1). The 
instruction of wisdum ; Hebrew, 73i?n HDiD 
(musar has'hel) ; i.e. the discipline or moral 
training which leads on to reason, intelli- 
gence, or wisdom (as Hitzig, PuerstjZockler); 
or discipline full of insight, discernment, or 
thoughtfulness (as Umbreit, Ewald, De- 
litzsch). The phrase does not mean the 
wisdom which iubtruotion imparts. The 
word mumr occurs here in a slightly differ- 
ent sense from its ,use in ver. 2 ; there it is 
objective, here its meaning as a medium for 
the attainment of wisdom is more distinctly 
brought out. Wisdom (has'hel) is properly 
"thoughtfulness" (so Umbreit, Ewald, 
Delitzsoh, Plumptre). It is strictly the in- 
finitive absolute of b'^ (salcal), " to entwine 
or involve," and as a substantive it stands 
for the thinking through of a subject, so 
"thoughtfulness." The LXX. renders this 
sentence, Si^affSal re (rrpoi^ks xir/av, which 
St. Jerome understands as "versutias ser- 
monum et solutiones senigmatum" ("the 
cunning or craftiness of words and the ex- 
plication of enigmas"). Justice, and judg- 
ment, and equity. These words seem to be 
the unfolding of the meaning contained in 
the expression, " the instruction of wisdom." 
Holden regards the last four words as 
objective genitives dependent on "instruc- 

tion," but wrongly. Cornelius k Lapide 
states that "justice and judgment and 
equity" indicate the same thing ui different 
aspects. " Justice stands for the thing 
itself— that which is just; judgment in re- 
spect of right reason, which says it is just ; 
and equity in respect of its being agreeable 
to the Law of God." Justice ; Hebrow, pis 

(tsedele), from the root pi:s (tsadah), " to be 
right, or straight ; " in a moral sense it 
means " rectitude," " right," as in Isa. xv. 
2 (Gesenius). Tlie underlying idea is tliat 
of straightness. Heidenheim, quoted by 
Delitzsch, maintains that in tsedek the con- 
ception of the justum prevails ; but the latter 
enlarges its meaning, and holds that it also 
has the idea of a mode of thought and action 
regulated, not by the letter of tlie Ijaw, but 
by love, as in Isa. xli. 2 ; xlii. 6. Plumptre 
thinks " righteousness " would be a better 
translation of the word, on the ground that 
the Hebrew includes the ideas of truth and 
beneficence. Compare with this the LXX. 
8ifcaio(rucj7 i.\riSi]s. Zockler also renders 
" righteousness," t.e. " that which is in 
accord with the will and ordinances of God 
as Supreme Judge." In the Authorized 
Version, in ch. ii. 9, where we have the 
same collocation of words, tsedek. is trans- 
lated " righteousness ; " cf. ch. xii. 17, " H e 
who utters truth shows forth righteousness 
(tsedeky Judgment; Hebrew, n^fJ? (mish'- 
paf), from the root taBB* (shapaf), " to adjust, 
judge," corresponds with the Hebrew in 
meaning ; it is the delivery' of a correct 
judgment on human actions. Compare the 
LXX. Kpi/ia Kareveiveiv. Equity ; i.e. recti- 
tude in thought and action (Delitzsch), or 
integrity (Zockler). This quality expresses 
upright demeanour or honourable action on 
one's own part individually, while "judg- 
ment " has regard both to our own and the 
actions of others. The Hebrew, mesharim 
(on^p), used only in the plural, is from the 
root idi (yashar), " to be straight or even," 
and is'equal to " uprightness." The plural 
form is reproduced in the marginal reading 
"equities;" corap. Ps. xvii. 2, "Let thine 
eyes behold the things that are equal 
(mesharim)." The Vulgate reads aequitas, 
and the Syriac rectitudo. The two ideas in 
judgment and equity appear to be expressed 
in the LXX. by the phrase, Kplfia Ka^ivdiveiv, 
Yer. 4. — To give subtilty to the simple. 
In this verse and the following we are intro- 
duced to the classes of persons to whom the 
proverbs will be beneficial. The h with the 
infinitive, nn^ (latheth), shows that in con- 
struction this proposition is co-ordinate with 
those in vers. 2 and 3, and not dependent as 
represented by Vto S^ (LXX.) and u< detur 
(Vulgate). Subtilty; Hebrew, npTB (ar'mah), 


[oh. 1. 1— 3a 

from the root □']]> (aram), "to be oiafty or 
wily," properly means " nakedness " or 
" amoothness ; " bence in a metaphorical 
sense it expresses " the capacity for escaping 
from the wiles of others" (tJmbreit). We 
have this idea expressed as follows in ch. 
ixli. 3, "The prudent man (on^, arum) 
foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself." In the 
Arabic Version it is rendered by calUditas, 
" shrewdness," in a good sense. The Hebrew 
ar'mah, like the Latin ealUditat, also means 
" craftiness," as appears in the use of the 
cognate adjective arum in Gen. iii. 1, where 
we read, " The serpent was more subtle," etc. 
For " subtilty " the LXX. has -/ravoiipyia, a 
Greek word which appears to be employed 
altogether in a bad sense, as " trickery," " vil- 
lainy," "knavery ; " but that scarcely appears 
to be the meaning of the Hebrew here, since 
the aim of the Proverbs is ethical and bene- 
ficial in the highest degree. The Vulgate 
aetutia, the quality of the astutus, beside 
tbe bad sense of craftiness, also bears the 
good sense of shrewdness, sagacity, and so 
better represents the Hebrew. "Subtilty 
may turn to evil, but it also takes its place 
among the highest moral gifts " (Plumptre). 
The simple; Hebrew, D'^i^^^ (ph'thaim), plural 
of 'Pi§ (p'ti) from the root hn^ {pathahh), '-'to 
be open," properly means the open-hearted, 
i.e. those who are susceptible to external 
impressions (Zockler), and so easily misled. 
The word occurs in ch. vii. 7; viii. 5; ix. 6; 
xiv. 18; and xxvii. 12. The LXX. properly 
rendersthe word 2iKoitoi,"unknowing of evil." 
The same idea is indirectly expressed in the 
Vulgate parvuli, " the very young;" and the 
_ term is paraphrased in the Arabic Version, 
ti8 in quibut non est malitia ("those who 
are without malice"). The Hebrew here 
means "simple" in the sense of inexperi- 
enced. To the yonng man knowledge and 
disoretion. The Hebrew naar (nyj) is here 
used representatively for"youth" (cf. LXX., 
TTois veos; Vulgate, adolescens) in general, 
which stands in need of the qualities here 
mentioned. It advances in idea beyond "the 
simple." Knowledge; Hebrew, ngT {daath), 
i.e. experimental knowledge (Delltzsch); in- 
sight (Gesenius); knowledge of good and evil 
(Plumptre). The LXX. has alae-qins, which 
olasically means perception by the senses 
and also by the mind. Discretion ; Hebrew, 
npjn (m! nimmah), properly " though tfuliiess," 
and hence " circumspection " or " caution " 
(Zockler), or "discernment," that which sets 
a man on his guard and prevents him being 
duped by others (Plumptre). 'Ewom was 
probably adopted by the LXX. in its primary 
sense as representing the act of tliinking; 
inteUectus (Vulgate), equivalent to "a dis- 
cerning" (see the marginal " advisement "). 
Yet, 5. — ^A wise man will hear, and will in- 

oiease learning. The change of construction 
in the original is reproduced in the Autho- 
rized Version, bnt has been rendered vari- 
ously. Thus Umbreit and Elster, regarding 
the verb ya^ (yiah'ma) as conditional, trans- 
late, " if the wise man hear ; " on the other 
hand, Belitzsch and Zockler take it as vc lun- 
tati ve, " let the wise man hear," etc. The prin- 
ciple here ennnciated is again stated in ch. 
ix. 9, " Give instruction to a wise man, and 
he will be yet wiser," and finds expressioL 
under the gospel economy in the words of 
our Lord, " For whosoever hatb, to him shall 
be given, and he shall have more abun- 
dance" (Matt. xiii. 12; cf. xxv. 29; Mark 
iv. 25 ; Luke viii. 18 and xiv. 26). Learn- 
ing; Hebrew, nph (lekakh), in the sense ol 
being transmitted or received (Gesenius, 
Delltzsch, Dunn). And a man of under- 
standing shall attain unto wise counsels. 
A man of understanding (LXX., d co^/tmc; 
Vulgate, inleUigens) is a person of intelli- 
gence who lays himself open to be instructed. 
Wise counsels; Hebrew, nH^^nn (takh'buloth). 
This word is derived from ^an (khevel), ■ 
ship-rope, a denominative of hsh (hhovel), 
and only occurs in the plural. It signifies 
those maxims of prudence by which a man 
may direct his course aright through life 
(of. regimen, Arabic). The imagery is taken 
from the management of a vessel, and is 
reproduced in the LXX. Kvfitpvricrts, and 
the Vulgate gubematio, " Navigationi vitam 
comparat " (Mariana). The word is almost 
exclusively confined to the Proverbs, and 
occurs in ch. xi. 14; xii. 5; xx. 18; and 
xxiv. 6, usually in a good sense, though it 
has the meaning of " stratagem " in ch. xii. 5. 
In the only other passage where it is found 
it is used of God's power in turning about 
tbe clouds; cf. Job xxxvii. 12, "And it 
[t'.e. the bright cloud] is turned round aboul 
by his counsels (itjSianna, b'thakh'bulothau)." 
It is the practical correlative of "learning,' 
in the first part of the verse. 

Ver. 6. — ^To understand a proverb. Thi 
verse carries on the idea which is stated ir 
ver. 5. The end of the wise and intelligenl 
man's increase in learning and prudence i; 
that he may be thus enabled to understand 
other proverbs. Sohultens, followed by 
HolJen, takes the verb pij^ Q'havin) as n 
gerund, intelUgendo sententids. This render- 
ing does not represent the end, but points 
to the proverbs, etc., as means by which the 
wise generally attain to learning and pru- 
dence. And the interpretation; Hebrew, 
ni-'^p (m'litsah). It is difficult to determine 
the exact meaning of this word. By Ge- 
senius it is rendered " jnigma, riddle ; " by 
Bertheau and Hitzig, " discourse requiring 

on. 1 1— S3.] 


interpretation ; " by Delitzscb, " symbol ; " 
by Havernick and Keil, " brilliaut and 
pleasing discourse ; " and by Fuerst, " figu- 
rative and involved discourse." By com- 
paring it ■with the corresponding words, 
"dark sayings," it may be regarded as 
designating that which is obscure and in- 
volved in meaning ; compare trxoTeivhs 
Kiyos (LXX.). It only occurs here and in 
Hab. ii. 6, where it is rendered " taunting 
proverb." The marginal reading is "an 
eloquent speech," equivalent to facundia, 
"eloquence." Vatablus says that the Hebrews 
understood it ag " mensuram et pondus 
verbi." The words of the wise; i.e. the 
utterances of the hhalchamim (p'Oprf), This 
expression occurs again in ch. xxii. 17, and 
also in Eccles. ix. 19 and xii. 11, In the 
latter they are described as "goads and as 
nails fastened by the ministers of assem- 
blies" (t'.fl. "authors of compilations," as 
Mendelssohn), because they cannot fail to 
make an impression on everybody good or 
bad. The expression, as used in ch. xxii. 
17, implies that other than Solomonic pro- 
verbs are included in this collection. And 
their dark sayings ; Hebrew, opTri) (v'khi- 
dotham). The Hebrew khidah (HTn), as 
tt'lUsah (nj'^n), its parallel in the preceding 
hemistich, designates obscure, involved utter- 
ances. It plainly has the sense of " enigma " 
(Fleischer, apud Delitzsoh). Compare oi- 
viyiiara (LXX.), and tenigmata (Vulgate), 
which latter is followed by the Olialdee 
Paraphrase and Syriac (see also Ps. Ixxviii. 
2, "I will open my mouth in parables, I 
will utter d^rk myingt of old "). Gesenius 
derives it from the root Tin (Jchud), " to tie 
knots," and hence arrives at its meaning as 
an involved or twisted sententious expres- 
sion, an enigma. 

Ver. 7— ch. Ix. 18.— Part IL Intboduo- 
TOBT Section. The first main section of 
the book begins here and ends at ch. ix. 18. 
It consists of a series of fifteen admonitory 
discourses addressed to youth by the Teacher 
and Wisdom personified, with the view to 
exhibit the excellence of wisdom, and gene- 
rally to illustrate the motto, "The ftar of 
the Lord is the beginning of knowledge," 
or wisdom. It urges strong encouragements 
to virtue, and equally strong dissuasives 
from vice, and shows that the attainment of 
wisdom in its true sense is the aim of all 
moral efibrt. 

"Ver. 7. — The fear of the lord is the begin- 
ning of knowledge. This proposition is by 
some commentators regarded as the motto, 
symbol, or device of the book (Delitzscb, 

Umbreit, Zockler, Plnmptre). Others, follow- 
ing tlie Masoretio arrangement of the He- 
brew text, consider it as forming part of the 
superscription (Ewald, Bertheau, Elster, 
Keil). As a general proposition expressing 
the essence of the philosophy of the Israel- 
ites, and from its relation to the rest of the 
contents of this book, it seems rightly to 
occupy a special and individual position. 
Tlie proposition occurs again in the Pro- 
verbs in ch. ix. 10, and it is met with in 
similar or slightly modified forms in other 
books which belong to the same group of 
sacred writings, that is, those which treat 
of religious philosophy— ^theKhokhmah; e.g. 
Job xxviii. 28 ; Ps. cxi. 10 ; Bccles. xii. 13 ; 
Ecclus. i. 16, 25. With this maxim we may 
compare " The fear of the Lord is the in- 
struction of wisdom " (ch. xv. 3.3). The fear 
of the Lord (njr.j riNT, yir'ath y'hovaK); lite- 
rally, the fear of Jehovah. The expression 
describes that reverential attitude or holy 
fear which man, when his heart is set 
aright, observes towards God. The original 
word, ns"!^ (yir'ath) for "fear," is properly 
the infinitive of tSTJ (fare), "to fear or 
reverence," and as a substantive means 
" reverence or holy fear " (Gesenius). Ser- 
vile or abject fear (as Jerome, Buda, Bstius) 
is not to be understood, but filial fear (as 
Gejerus, Merceius, Cornelius it Lapide, Cart- 
wright), by wliich we" fear to offetid God — 
that fear of Jehovah which is elsewhere 
described as " to hate evil " (ch. Viii. 13), 
and in which a predominating element is 
love. Wardlaw remarks that the "fear of 
the Lord " is in invariable union with love 
and in invariable proportion to it. We 
truly fear God just in proportion as we truly 
love him. The fear of the Lord also carries 
with it the whole worship of God. It is 
observable that the word Jehovah (njn.') is 

used in the Hebrew, and not Elohim (o'li^M), 
a peculiarity which is invariably marked in 
the Authorized Version by small capitals. 
The beginning; Hebrew, n'PNT (reshith). 
This word has been understood in three 
different senses : (1) As initium, the begin- 
ning; i.e. the initial step or starting-point 
at which every one who wishes to follow 
true wisdom must begin (Gejerus, Zockler, 
Plumptre). (2) As caput; i.e. tlje most 
excellent or principal part, the noblest or 
best wisdom. This sense is adopted in the 
marginal reading (comp. also ch. iv. 7) 
(Holden, Trapp). (3) As the principium 
(Vulgate); i.e. the origin, or basis, as in 
Micah i. lH, " She is the origin, or basis 
(reshith] of the sin of the daughter of Zion." 
Delitzscb regards the original, reshith, as 
embracing the two ideas of commencement 
and origin, in the same way as tlie Greek 
ifXh- Wisdom has its origin in God, and 


[oh. 1. 1 — 33. 

whoever fears him receives it if he prays in 
faith (cf. Jas. i. 5, iqq.) (Vatablus, Mercerus, 
DelitZBoh). That the first sense, viz. that 
of beginning, is to be understood here ap- 
pears from the parallel passage in oh. x. 10, 
where the corresponding word is n^nri (IfkU- 
lath), " beginning," from the root "j^n (kha- 
laV), " to begin ; " of. also tlie LXX. apx^, in 
this sense, and the initium of the Syriao 
and Arabic Versions. AU previous know- 
ledge to " the fear of the Lord " is compara- 
tive folly. He who would advance in 
knowledge must first be imbued with a 
reverence or holy fear of God. But fools 
despise wisdom and instruction ; or, accord- 
ing to the inverted order of the words in the 
original, wz'sdom and imtruttion JodU de* 
aptse, the association of ideas in the three 
words, " knowledge," " wisdom," and " in- 
struction," thus being more continuously sui- 
talned. This arrangement links on the two 
latter words with "the fear of the Lord," 
and so helps towards the elucidation of the 
sense in which " fools " is to be understood 
Fools i D'^'is (evilim), plural of ^'IK. (emZ), 
from the root ^IN (aval), " to be perverse," 
here properly designates the incorrigible, as 
in ch. xxvii. 22, and those who are unwilling 
to know God (Jer. iv. 22), and hence refuse 
and despise wisdom and salutary discipline, 
those "who set at nought all liis counsel, 
and will none of his reproof." The word is 
opposed to the "prudent" (ch. xii. 16) and 
to the " wise " (ch. x. 14). Delitzsch under- 
stands it as " thick, hard, stupid," from the 
root aval, eoalescere, incrassari. Schultens 
uses TraxeTs, equivalent to crassi pro stupidis, 
to represent the original. Dunn takes it in 
the same sense as " gross or dull of under- 
standing." Fuerst, adopted by Wordsworth, 
regards it in the sense of having no moral 
stamina, from the root meaning "to be slack, 
weak, lax, or lazy." But none of these ex- 
planations seems, in my opinion, to coincide 
sufficiently vfith the evU and depraved 
activity expressed in the verb " despise," 
which follows, and vrhich describes the 
conduct of this class. The LXX. renders 
the word or action by do-sjSeis, equivalent to 
impii, "godless," "profane," and the Vulgate 
by stulti. Despite; 113 (bazu) is perfect, but 
is properly translated by the present, because 
the perfect- here represents a condition long 
continued and still existing (Gesenius, § 126) ; 
cf. the Latin odi, memini, etc. The LXX. 
uses the future ^^oueej/^o-ouo-ii/, i.e. they will 
set at nought; the Vulgate, the present 
(despiciunt). The radical meaning is most 
probably contemptuous trampling under the 
feet (Gesenius). Wisdom and instruction 
(see vcr. 2). The latter clause of this verse 
is antithetical to the former, but the anti- 
thesis is obscurely expressed. In the Autho- 

rized Version it is marked by the adversatlvs 
conjunction " but," which, however, is not 
in the original. The LXX. has a striking 
interpolation in this verse between the first 
and second clauses, which is partly taken 
from Ps. cxi. 10 (2^<'e»'« Se dyaBii vaffi t iis 
voLovfftv avT-fiv' eu(re)3eio Se eis @ehv &pxh 
ala-6ii<reas, "And a good understanding have 
all they that do it : and reverence towards 
God is the beginning of knowledge "). Com- 
pare the Arabic Version, which has the same 
interpolation : Et intellectua bonus omnibus 
fadentibus earn. Sana religio in Deum est 
initium prudential. 

Vers. 8 — 19. — 1. First admonitory discourse. 
Warning against enticemenin to robbery and 

Ver. 8. — My son, hear the instruction of thy 
father. The transition in this verse from 
what may be regarded as filial obedience 
towards God to filial .obedience towards 
parents is sugo;estive of the moral Law. 
The same admonition, in a slightly altered 
form, occurs again in oh. vi., "My son 
keep thy father's commandment, and for- 
sake not the law of thy mother" (cf. also 
ch. iv. 1). My son; 'M (bW) from J2 (ben), "a 
son." The form of address here adopted was 
that in common use by teachers towards 
their pupils, and marks that superintending, 
loving, and fatherly care and interest which 
the former felt in aud towards the latter. 
It occurs frequent] y in the introductory section 
(ch.ii.l; iii.1,21; iv.10,20; v.l; vi.l; vii.l), 
and reappears again towards the close (ch. 
xxiii. 15, 19, 26; xxiv. 13, 21 ; xxvii. 11) in 
the teacher's address. The mother of Lemuel 
uses it (ch. xxxi. 2) in the strictly parental 
sense. In other passages of the Old Testa- 
ment the teacher, on the other hand, is repre- 
sented as a "father" (Judg. xvii. )0; Isa. 
X. 12 ; 2 Kings ii. 21). We find the same 
relation assumed in the New Testament, 
both by St. Paul (1 Cor. iv. 15 ; Philem. 10; 
Gal. iv. 19) and by St. John (1 John ii. 1 ; 
y. 2); but under 'the economy of the gospel 
it has a deeper significance than here, as 
poiniing to the "new birth," which, being 
a later revelation, lies outside the scope of 
the moral teaching of the Old Testament 
dispensation. The instruction (iDVii, musar); 
as carrying with it the sense of disciplinary 
education (cf. LXX., iraiSe^a; Vulgate, disci- 
plina; see also ver. 2), and of the correc- 
tion with which it may be enforced (cf. sh. 
xiii.24; xxii. 15; xxiii. 13, 14), the writei 
attributes appropriately to the father, while 
the milder torah, " law," he uhes of the mother 
(Delitzsch). Father. The nature of the ex- 
hortation conveyed in this verse requires 
that we should understand the terms " father " 
and " mother " in their natural sense as desig- 
nating the parents of the persons addressed, 

OH. 1. 1—33.] 


though a Bymbolical ineaniiig has been 
attached to them by the rabbis (see Babbi Sa- 
lomon, in Zoo.), "father" being understood as 
representing God, and " mother," the people. 
But the terms are more than merely figura- 
tive expressions (Stuart). Those who look 
upon the Proverbs as the address of Solomon 
to his son Behobcam naturally take "father" 
as standing for the former. I^aamah, in 
this case must be the mother (1 Kings xiv. 
31). It is almost unnecessary to state that 
pious parents are presupposed, and that Only 
that instruction and law can be meant which 
is not inconsistent with the higher and more 
perfect Law of God (Gejerus, Wardlaw). 
And forsake not the law of thy mother. 
Forsake. The radical meaning of nlw (tit- 
tosh) is that of " spreading," then of " scat- 
teriog" (Aiken), and so the word comes to 
mean"forsake, reject, or neglect." TheLXX. 
reads mtdia-ji, from diro94a, dbjicere, " to push 
away, reject." Cf. aJyicias (Arabic). The 
Vulgate has dimittas, i.e. "nbandon," and 
tiie Syriao, oUiviscaris, i.e. "forget." The 
laa; min (toraift),. construct case of niw 
(toroA), from the root ni; Q/ardh), "to teach," 
hence here equivalent to " a law " in the sense 
of that which teaches — a precept (doctrina, 
Jun. et Tremell., Piscat., Castal., Versions). 
With one exception (oh. viii. 10), it is the 
term which always expresses the instruction 
given by Wisdom (Delitzsch). The law 
(torah) of the mother is that preceptive 
teaching which she imparts orally to her 
son, but torah is also used in a technical 
sense as lex, vS/tos SeV/ios, that which is laid 
down and established, a deeretum or insti- 
tutum, and designates some distinct pro- 
vision or ordinance, as the law of sacrifice 
(Lev. vi. 7). In Josh. i. 8 we find it em- 
ployed to signify the whole body of the 
Mosaic Law (sepherhatorah). Mother. Not 
inserted here as a natural expansion of the 
idea of the figure required by the laws of 
poetic parallelism (as Zookler), since this 
jreakens the force of the passage. Mothers 
ftre mentioned because of their sedulousness 
in imparting instruction (Bayne). 

Ver. 9.— For they (shall be) an ornament 
of grace unto thy head. The sentiment here 
expressed is put forward as an inducement 
to youth to observe obedience towards the 
instruction of the father and the law of the 
motlier, and the meaning is that, just as in 
popular opinion ornaments and jewels are 
supposed to set off the personal form, so 
obedience towards parents in the ways of 
virtue embellishes the moral character 
(Bayne, Cartwright, Holden). An ornament 
of grace; Hebrew, )n n;)h (liv'yath Tthen); 
literally, a wreath or garland of grace. We 
meet with the same expression in ch. iv. 9, 
"She p.e. wisdom] shall give to thine heud 

an ornament of grace." The Hebrew rf'i^ 
(liv'yah) is derived from the root ni.^ (lavaK), 
"to wind a roll" (Delitzsch) or "to be 
joined closely with " (Gesenius), and hence 
signifies an ornament that is twisted, and so 
a wreath or garland. Gejerus and Schul- 
tens translate the plirase by corona grati- 
osa, i.e. "a crown full of grace," and so 
meaning conferring or producing grace, 
just as file expression, "the chastisement oi 
our peace " (Isa. liii. 5), means the chastise- 
ment bringing or procuring our peace. So 
agaia a "precious stone," in ch. xvii. 8, 
margin, " a stone of grace," is one conferring 
gracefulness. The marginal reading, "an 
adding " (additamentiim, Vatablus), conveys, 
though obscurely, the same idea ; and this 
sense is again reproduced in the Vulgate, 
ut addaiur gratia capiti tuo (" in order that 
grace may be added to thy head"). The 
LXX. reads, (rrfifiavos xapfrwj/. And chains 
about thy neck. Chains ; properly, neclclaces; 
D'pjjp (ona/ctm), plural of piS. (anah), "a 

collar or necklace ; " the k\oi6s xP'""^'"' °' 
"golden coUar," of the LXX., and torques 
(i.e. twisted neckchain) of the Vulgate. 
There is a very apposite parallel to this 
verse in ch. vi. 20, 21 (cf. ch. iii. 3 ; see also 
Judg. viii. 26). The gold chain round the 
neck was a mark of distinction, and was 
conferred on Joseph by Pharaoh when in- 
vesting him with authority and dignity 
(Gen. xli. 42), anrl on Daniel by Belshazzar 
in the same way (Dan. v. 29 ; see Song of 
Solomon iv. 9). The mere adornment of the 
person with gold and pearls, without the 
further adornment of the moral character with 
Christian graces, is deprecated both by St. 
Paul and St. Peter (see 1 Tim. ii. 9, 10, and 
1 Pet. iii. 3, i). Neck, rh^-}i (gar'g'roth) 
only occurs in the plural (Gesenius)." (See 
ch. iii. 3, 22 ; vi. 21.) 

Ver. 10. — My son, if sinners entice thee. 
(As to the form of address, see ver. 8.) It is 
here used because the writer is passing to a 
warning against bad company, and hence 
the term is emphatic, and intended to call 
especial attention to what is said. It is 
repeated again in ver. 15, at a further stage 
in this address, with the same view. Sinners ; 
D'i«Kin (hhattaim), the plural of tten (khafta), 
from the root («Ein (khata), properly "to misa 
the mark, to err;" cf. Greek, afiapTava, "to 
sin " (Gesenius), here equivalent to " habi- 
tual, abandoned sinners," and those espe- 
cially who make robbery and bloodshed a 
profession. Not simply peceantes, i.e. sinners 
as a generic designation of the human race, 
for " AU have sinned and come short of the 
glory of God " (Eom. iii. 23), but peccatores 
(Chaldee, Syriao, Pa gin., Tigur., Versions and 
Vulgate), " sinners," i.e. those who sin habi- 
tually, knowingly, wilfully, and maliciously 


[oh. 1. 1—83 

(Oejerus), or those who give themselveB up 
lo iuiquity, and persuade others to follow 
tlieir example (Oartwright). In the New 
Testament they are styled d/ittpTiiiKol. They 
are those of whom David speaks in strik- 
ingly parallel language in Ps. xxvi. 9, 
" G ather not my soul with sinners (Jtlmttaim), 
nor my life with hloody men " (of. Ps. i. 1). 
The LXX. has ivSpes dffiPeh (i.e. ungodly, 
unlioly men). Entice thee; '^ins; (y'phat- 
tukha) ; the piel form, npe {pitah), of the 
kal nnp (patah), " to open," and hence to 
make accessible to persuasion, akin to the 
Greek TreifleiK, "to persuade." The noun 
'HQ ip'thi), is "one easily enticed or per- 
suaded " (Gesenius). The LXX. reads iiii 
Tr\avi\aacriv, "let them not Itad thee aatray." 
The idea is expressed in the Vulgate by 
laataverint ; i.e. " if sinners allure or deceive 
thee with fair words." The Syriac, Montan., 
Jun. et Tiemell., Versions read pellexerint, 
from pellicio, " to entice." Consent thou not. 
(«3h-f>N, al-toveii). The Masoietio text here 
has been emended by Kennioott and De Rossi, 
who, on tlie joint authority of fifty-eight 
manuscripts, maintain that N3h(<oBett) should 
be written snSn (totoeN). Others read Nnn 
(tacoN), •'.«. "thou shalt not go," which, 
though good sense, is incorrect, -h^ (al) is 
the adverb of negation, i.q. /i)j, ne. The 
Hebrew Niri (toveik) is derived from nnNi 
(avaK), " to afjree to, to be willing" (Gese- 
nius, Delitzsoh), the preformative N being 
omitted, and is accurately rendered by the 
LXX., /i7) $ovKnefs, and the Vulgate, 
ne acquiescas. The warning is especially 
brief and striking. The only answer to all 
enticements of evil is a decided negative 
(Plumptre). Com| are St. Paul's advice to 
the Ephesians (Epb. v. 11, "And have no 
fellowship with the unfruitful works of 
darkness, but rather reprove them "). 

Ver. 11. — If they say, Come with us, let us 
lay wait for blood. Tlie teacher here puts 
into tlie mouth of the sinners, for the sake 
of vivid reprc sentalion, the first iniiuoemiut 
with which they seek to allure youth from 
the paths of rectitude, viz. privacy and con- 
cealment (Cartwright, Wardlaw). Bi)th the 
verbs an^ (arav) and ]dk (tmphan) mean 
•' to lay in wait " (Zockler). The radical 
meaning of arav, from which njllJ.J (nee/- 
vah), "let us lay in wait" (Authorized Ver- 
sion) is taken, is " to knot, to weave, to inter- 
twine." Verbs of this class are often applied 
te snares and craftiness (cf. the Greek S6\av 
vijiutyfiv, and the Latin insidias nectere, " to 
■weave plots, or lay snares"). Generally, 
arav is ecjuivalent to "to watch in ambush" 
(Gesinius); cf. the Vulgate, insiA'cmur aun- 

?«i»t ; i.e. " let us lay wait for blood." The 
<XX. paraphrases the cxpr. ssion, Koivdvr)- 

trov tHiiaros, i.e. " let us share in blood." On 
the other hand, ]3X (tmphan), from which 
n}ex3 (nilz'p'nah), tianslated in the Autho- 
rized Version, "let us lurk privily," is "to 
hide or conceal," and intrans. " to hide one's 
self," or ellipt., " to hide nets, snares " (Gese- 
nius, Holden). This sense agiees With the 
Vulgate ahieondamus tendiculaa; i.e. "let 
us conceal snares." L/elitzscli, howt-ver, 
holds that no Word is to be understood with 
this verb, and traces the radical meaning to 
that of restraining one's self, watching, lurk- 
ing, in the sense of spdculari, "to watch for," 
intidiari, " to lay wait for." The two verbs 
combine what may be termed the apparatus, 
the arrangement of the plot and their lurk- 
ing in ambush, by which they will await 
their victims. For. blood (p-^h, I'dam). The 
context (see vers. 12 and 16), bearing as It 
does upon bloodshed accompanying robbery, 
:.*equires that the Hebrew cqh (I'dam) should 
be understood here, as Fleischer remarks, 
either elliptically, for " tlie blood of men," 
as the; Jewish interpreters explain, or syne- 
dochically, for the person, with especial 
reference to his blood being shed, as in Ps. 
xciv. 21. Vatablus, Cornelius & Lapide, and 
Gesenius support the latter view (cf. Micah 
vii. 2, " Tliey all lie in wait for blood," ».«. 
for bloodshed, or murder. Dj (dam) may 
be also taken for life in the sense that " the 
blood is the life" (Dent. xii. 23). Let na 
lurk privily for the innocent without cause. 
The relation of the phrase, " without cause " 
(Dan, khinnam), in this sentence is a matter 
of much dispute. It may be taken either 
with (I) tlie verb (as in the Authorized Ver- 
sion, Wordsworth, Luther, Van. Ess, Noyes, 
Zockler, Delitzsch, Hitzig,' LXX., Sjriac, 
Eashi, Ilalbac),and then "lurk privily with- 
out cause " is equivalent to (a) without 
having any reason for revenge and enmity 
(Zockler), i.e. though tliey have not pro- 
voked us, nor done us any injury, yet let us 
hurt them, in the sense of abeqiie causa 
(Muiisterus, Paganini Version, Piscatoris 
Version, Meroerus), dSums (LXX.), inique 
(Arabic) ; (6) with impunity, since none 
will avenue them in the sense of Job ix. 12 
(this is the view of Lowestein, but it is 
rejected by Delitzsoh); or (2) It may be 
taken with the adjective "innocent," in 
which case it means (a) him that is inno- 
cent ill vain ; i.e. the man whose innocence 
will in vain protect (Zockler, Holden), who 
gets nothing by it (Plumptre), or, innocent 
in vain, since God does not vindicate him 
(Cornelius ^ Lapide). On the analogy of 
1 Sam. xix. 5 ; xxv. 31 ; Ps. xxxv. 19 ; Ixix. 
4 ; Lam. iii. 52, it seems preferable to adopt 
the first connection, and to take the adverb 
with the verb. In the whole of the passage 
there is au evident allusion to au evil preva. 

OH. 1. 1—33.] 


lent in the age of Solomon, viz. the presence 
of bands of robbers, or banditti, who dis- 
turbed the security and internal peace of 
the country. In the New Testament the 
game state of things continued, and ia 
alluded to by our Lord in the parable of 
the man who fell among thieves. 

Vtr. 12. — Let us swallow them up alive 
as the grave. A continuation of ver. 11, 
expan ling the idea of bloodshed ending in 
murder, and showing the determination of 
the sinners to proceed to the most violent 
means to eft'ect their covetous ends. Tlie 
enticement here put before youth is the 
courage and boldness of their exploits 
(Wardlaw). The order of the words in the 
original is, " Let us swallow them up, as the 
grave, living," which sufficiently indicates 
the meaning of the passage. Alive; D';n 
(Jchayyim), i.e. "tlie living," refers to the 
pronominal suffix in oyjiaj (niv'laem), as in 
the Authorized Version and Zockler (cf. Pa. 
Iv. 15 ; cxxiv. 3). Umbreit and Hitzig are 
grammntically incorrect in connecting 'jimk'd 
(hish'ol) " as the grave," with " tlie living," 
and translating "like the pit (swallows) 
that which lives." The ? (Jci) with a sub- 
etantive, as here in kkh'ol, is a preposition, 
and not a conjunction (see Gesenius, ' Lexi- 
con ')» It denotes a kind of resemblance, 
but does not introduce a co-ordinate sentence. 
The allusion is undoubtedly in the teacher's 
mind to the fate of Korali and his company 
(Numb. xvi. 30 — 33), and as in that Ciise 
" the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed 
them up" in tlie flush of life, so here the 
robbers say that they will as suddenly and 
•if. otively destroy their victims, rpa {data); 
from which niv'laem, in a figurative sense, 
means " to destroy utterly " (Gesenius). The 
change from the singular, " the innocent " 
rpj'?, I'naki), to the plural in " let us swallow 
fhem up," is noticeable. Like the pit (Vine's, 
kish'ol); literally, like Sheol, or Uades, the 
great subterianeau Ciivity or world of the 
dead. The all-devouring and insatiable 
character of sheol is described in ch. xxvii. 
20, where the Anth irized Version translates 
" Hell (sheol) and destruction are never full," 
and again in eli. xxx. 15, where it (sheol. 
Authorized Version, " the grave ") is classed 
with the four things that are never satisfied. 
Vulgate, infernus; LXX., ?5r)j. And whole, 
as those that go down into the pit. The 
parallelism of ideas requires that the word 
"whole" (d'P'Dpi, I'mimim) shouM be under- 
stood of those physically whole (see Meroerus, 
Dclitzseh), and not in a moral Sense, as the 
upright (Luther, Grier, Holdon, Plumptre). 
The word is used in an ethical signification 
in ch. ii. 21. Gesenius gives it the metiuing 
of "safe, secure." Thoie that go down into 

the pit (ni3 '.'jnv, yorde vor); i.e. the dead. 
The phrase also occurs in Ps. xxviii. 1; 
xxx. 4; Ixxxviii. i; oxliii. 7; Isa. xxxviii, 
18). The p»7(ii3, vor); or, the sepulchre, 
the receptacle of the dead, is here synonymous 
with sheol. The LXX. substitutes for the 
latter part of the verse, Ka! ipufiey outoD tV 
livinTiv 6K yris, "And let us remove his 
memory from the earth." The robbers, by 
drawing a comparison between themselves 
and Hades and the grave, which consign 
to silence all who are put therein, imply 
their own security against detection. They 
will so utterly destroy their victims that 
none wiU be left to tell the tale (see Musset, 
in loc.). This, we know, is a fancied, and at 
the best only a temporary, security. 

Ver. 13. — We shall find all preoious sub- 
stance. This verse carries on the proposal 
of the sinners one step further, and puts 
forward a third enticement, viz. that of thft 
pinflt of crime, or the prospect of immediate 
riches, before youth to joiii in crime. A 
short cut to weallh, and to the acquirement 
of that which costs others long years of 
steady application and carefulness, is a strong 
inducement (Wardlaw). We shall find; 
Nyp: (nim'tza), from N^p (matza), properly 
" to reach to," and " to find," in the sense of 
" to come upon ; " cf. Latin invenio. Sub- 
stance ([in, hon) ; i.e. substance in the sense 
of riches. The radical meaning of ]in (hun), 
from which it is derived, is the same as in 
the Arabic word, " to be light, easy, to be 
in easy circumstances, and so to be rich" 
(Gesenius). In its abstract sense, hon, "sub- 
stance," means ease, comfort, and concretely 
riches which bring about that result (see 
also Fleischer, as quoted by Delitzsch); cf. 
the LXX. KTTiffis, i.e. collectively, possessions, 
property. The Pisoatoris Version, for " pre- 
cious substance," reads (Zw//ia8, "riches." Pre- 
cious; nj> (j/aftar), properly "heavy," is found 
with )in (hon), "substance," in ch. xii. 27 
and xxiv. 4. The collocation of the ideas of 
lightness and heaviness iu Ihese two words 
is striking, but we need not neces arily 
suppose that any oxymoron is intended, as 
Sohulteus. Such combinations occur in other 
languages, and reside more in the radical 
meanings of the wonls in the mind or 
intention of the writer or speaker. We shall ■ 
fill our houses with spoil ; i.e. they promise 
not only finding, but full possession (Gejerus, 
Muffet). Spoil; hh^ (shalal), from hh^ 
{shalal), same as (he Arabic verb "to draw," 
and hence "to strip off' (Gesenius); and 
equivalent to the Greek o-icSAa (LXX.), the 
arms stripped off a slain enemy, spoils, and 
the Latin spolia (Vulgate). Shalal is used 
generally, as here, for " prey," "booty " (Gen. 
xlix. 27; Exod. xv. 9). Our gains, lay 



[oh. 1. 1—83. 

the robbers, will not only be valuable, but 
numerous and plentiful. 

Ver. 14. — Cast in thy lot among us. The 
fourth and last enticement put forward, viz. 
lumourable union and frank and open-hearted 
generosity. It has distinct reference to the 
preceding verse, and shows how the prospect 
of immediate wealth is to be realized (see 
Delitzsch, Wardlaw), Cast in thy lot cannot 
mean, as Mercerus, "cast in your inheritance 
with us, so that we all may use it ia common," 
though "j^li (goral) doea mean "inheritance" 
in the sense of that wliioh comes to any one 
by lot (Judg. i. 3) (Gesenius), since that 
would be no inducement to youth to join 
the robbers. Goral properly is "a little 
stone or pebble," KXrjpos, especially such as 
were used in casting lots, and so equivalent 
to a "lot" here — that with which the dis- 
tribution was made, as in Lev. xvi. 8 ; Neh. 
X. 34 ; and the cuotom of freebooters dividing 
the spoil by lot is here alluded to (Holden) ; 
comp. Pb. xxii. 18 in illustration of tlie 
practice of casting lots, " They part my 
garments among tbem, and cast lots upon 
my vesture." The sense is, "you shall equally 
with the others cast lots for your share of 
the spoU" (Zockler, Delitzsch). Let us all 
have one purse. Puree; D'3 (Itis), the 
PaKdvTiov cf the LXX., the marsupium 
of the Vulgate, is the receptacle in which 
money is placed for security. In ch. xv. 11 
it is used for the bag in which traders kept 
their weights, "the weights of the bag;" 
and in ch. xxiii. 31 it is translated "cup," 
the wine-cup. It here signifies the common 
stock, the aggregate of the gains of the 
robbers contributed to a common fund. The 
booty captured by each or any is to be 
thrown into one common stock, to form one 
purse, to be divided by lot among all the 
members of the band. On this community 
of goods among robbers, compare tlie Hebrew 
proverb. In looulia, in poculis, in ira. Com- 
munity of goods among the wicked carries 
with it community in crime, just as the 
community of goods among the early 
Christians implied community in good works 
and in the religious sentiments of the 
Christian body or Church. The Eabbi 
Salomon Isacides oifers another explanation 
(which leaves tlie choice open to youth either 
to share in the spoil by lut, or to live at the 
expense of a common fund, as he may prefer) : 
" Si voles, nobiscum spolia partieris, si etiam 
magisplacebit, social! communique maisupio 
nobiscum vives"— "If thou wilt, thou shalt 
sliare with us the booty ; ay, it it like thee 
more, thou shalt live with us on a confederate 
andcommon purse" (see Cornelius & Lapide). 

Ver. 15.— My son, walk not thou in the 
way with them. The admonitory strain of 
ver. 10 is again resumed, and in vers. 16—19 
the teacher states the reasons which should 

dissuade youth from listening to the tempta 
tions of sinners. My ion. The recurrence 
of these words for the third time in this 
address marks the affectionate interest, the 
loving solicitude, in which the admonition 
is addressed. Walk not thou. Immediate 
and entire abandonment is counselled. Tlie 
warning is practically a repetition of ver. 10, 
and is given again in oh. iv. 14, " Enter not 
into the path of the wicked, and go not in 
the way of evU men." Way; TQn (dereh) 
means, figuratively, the way of living and 
acting (Gesenius). " Mores etconsuetudines" 
(Bayne) ; cf. ch. xii. 15, " the fool's way ; " 
xxii. 25; and Ps. i. 1. The meaning is 
"associate not with them, have no dealing! 
whatever with tbem." Befrain thy foot from 
their path ; i.e. keep back thy foot, or make 
not one step in compliance, resist the very 
first solicitations to evil. Compare the legal 
maxim, Initiis ohsta. Be/rain; j)jp (m'na) 
is from J)m (mano)," to keep back, restrain;* 
LXX., (kkKivov (cf. Ps. cxix. 101, "I have 
refrained my feet from every evU way;" 
Jer. xiv. 10, "Thus have they loved to 
wander, they have not refrained their feet "). 
Restraining the foot carries with it indirectly 
the natural inclination or propensity of the 
heart, even of the good, towards evil (Cart- 
wright). Foot ('?.:t, regd) is, of course, 
used metaphorically, and means less the 
member of the body than the idea suggested 
by it ; hence the use of the singular (Gejcrus, 
Delitzsch). Bayne remarks that the He- 
brews understood this passage as meaning 
"neither in public nor private life have any 
dealings with sinners." Path (a'W, nathiv) 
is a beaten path, a pathway, a byway; 
from the unused root arij (jucthav), "to 
tread, trample;" and hence, while "way" 
may mean the great public high-road, 
"path" may stand for the bypath, less 
frequented or public. The same distinction 
probably occurs in Ps. xxv. 4, "Show me 
thy ways, Lord; and teach me thy paths." 
Ver. 16.— For their feet run to evil, and 
make haste to shed blood, This is the first 
dissuasive urged to enfoice the warning 
against evil companionship, as showing the 
extremes to which entering npon the ways 
of the wicked lead ultimately. At once the 
youth who listens will be' hurried along 
impetuously to the two crimes of robbery 
and murder, which God has expressly for- 
bidden in the eighth and sixtli command- 
ments respectively of tlie moral code. Evd 
(J>n, ra) is " wickedness," t!) KaK6v, generally, 
but here more specifically highway robbery, 
latrocinism (Cornelius k Lapide), as appears 
from vers. 11—13, where also murder, the 
layinj;; in wait for blood, is proposed. The 
Rabliis Salomon and Salazar understand 
the evil to refer to the evil or destructioi 

OB. 1 1—33.] 



which sinners bring upon themselves, and 
the shedding of blood to the fact that they 
lay themselves open to have their own blood 
shed by judicial process (see also Holden). 
The former explanation seems preferable to 
this, as putting a higher law than that of 
self-preservation before youth. The tear of 
judges who can .condemn to death is nothing 
comparatively to the fear of him "who is 
able to destroy both body and soul in hell." 
This verse is wanting in the Vatican LXX., 
and Arabic, and hence Hitzig has concluded 
that it is an interpolation made from Isa. 
lix. 7, but upon insufficient evidence, as it 
is found in the Alexandrian LXX., Chaldee 
Paraphrase, Vulgate, and Syriac Versions, 
all which follow the Hebrew text. The 
latter part of the verse is quoted by St. Paul 
in Horn. iii. 15. 

Ver. 17. — Surely in vain the net is spread 
in the face of any bird. The teacher here 
advances a second reason in support of his 
warning in ver. 15, under the form of a 
proverb in its strict sense. It is based on 
the ill-advised audacity of sinners in flying 
in the face of God's judgments. In vain 
(D|n, khinnani), see ver. 11, may be taken 
in two senses. (1) J.e, to no purpose, 
gratis,frusl.ra (Vulgate, Chaldee Paraphrase, 
Arabic). The meaning of the proverb here 
used then is, " to no purpose is the net spread 
before birds," i.e. though they see the net 
spread before them, they nevertheless fly 
into it (comp. ch. vii. 23, "As a bird 
hasteth to the snare, and kuoweth not that 
it is for his life "). So sinnsrs, when they 
are plotting for others, pluuge into their own 
destruction with their eyes open. Therefore 
do not associate with them, do not imitate 
their crass folly, be warned by their example, 
or yon will share their fate. This view is 
supported by the LXX. reading, Oi yap 
aS'iKus eKTeiverai SUrva irTepioToTs, " For not 
unreasonably is the net spread before birds ; " 
i.e. they fall into the snare (see Luther, 
Patrick, Umbreit, Ewald, Hitzig, Zockler, 
Plumptre). (2) Others, as Delitzsch, Ziegler, 
Beda, Doderlein, Bertheau, VVardlaw, take 
hhinnam in ft different sense, as indicating 
the escape of the birds — the birds see the 
snare and fly away, and so in vain the net 
is spread in their sight. This explanation 
is in agreement with Ovid's statement, "Quaj 
nimis apparent retia vitat avis." The moral 
motive put before youth in this case is the 
aggravation of his guilt if he listens to the 
enticements of sinners. The teacher seems 
to say, " Im tati- the birds, flee from tempta- 
tion; if you listen to sinners, you will sin with 
your eyes open." Is spread; njip (m'zorah), 
expansum, not consperium est, i.e. besprinkled 
or strewn with corn as a bait, as Eashi. 
Wzorah is the participle passive of pual, nni 

(zorah), " to be strewn," from kal niT (tarah), 
"to scatter, or disperse" (Gesenius), and 
means expansum, because when a net is 
scattered or dispersed it is spread out (see 
Delitzsch). Of any bird (yffs bpa-'rj, hhal- 
baal Ithanaph); literally, of every possessor of 
a wing, or, as miirgin, of everything that hath 
a wing, i.e. of every bird. Compare the 
same expression in Eccles. x. 20, D;B^3n ^pa 
(fcooZ hach'naphai/im) ; i.e. " that which hath 
wings" (Authorized Version). 

Ver. 18. — And they lay wait for their own 
blood, etc. 1'l)c ihhd reason or argument 
why the teaclic.r's wiirning should be fol- 
lowed, drawn from llio destruction which 
overtakes the sinners themselves. "Lay 
wait," and "hnU privily," as in ver. 11, from 
which this verse is evidently borrowed. 
They propose, as tiiey say, to lay wait for 
the blood of othora; but it is says the 
teiicher,for their owd blood, o^-jh (I'dkamam), 
contra sanguinem suttm; they lurk privily, 
as they say, for Hie innocent, but in reality 
it is for their own lives ; nnWsih (I'naph'sho- 
tliani); contra aid mas suas (Vulgate); or, 
as the LXX. puts it, Ainol yctp ot ^6vov 
/i^Texoj/res, dTifravpi^ovorty eavrois /ca/cct, *' For 
they who take part in murder treasure up 
evils for themselves;" that is, they are 
bringing a heavier and surer destruction 
upon thcmsolvca than they can over inflict 
upon others (Wardlaw). The LXX. adds, 
at the close of the verse, 'H Sc Karaffrpoipii 
avSpuy Trapai/dfiuv KaK-f], ** And the overthruw- 
ing or destruction of transgressors is great, 
or evil." The Arabic Version has a similar 

Ver. 19. — So are the ways of every one 
that is greedy of gain. The epiplionema 
or moral of the preceding address. So are 
the ways, or such is the lot (as Delitzsch), 
or such are the paths (as Zockler), i.e. so 
deceitful, so ruinous, are the ways. |3 (clien) 
is here used as a qualitative adverb. Wayi; 
ninnts {ar'Tchoth), the plural of rrvk (orakh), 
a poet, word, equivalent in the first inslance 
to " way," i.q. "titi (derekh), and metaphori- 
cally applied to any one's ways, his manner 
of life and its result, and hence lot, as in 
Job viii. 12, and hence the expression covers 
the three preceding verses. T]mt is greedy 
of gain (J>1!| jsb, lotsea hatsa); literally, coii- 
eupiscentis coneupiscentiam lueri; i.e. eagerly 
longing after gain ; he who greedily desires 
riohes (avari, Vulgate). Gain; hatsa in 
pause, from j)S3 (betsa), which takes its 
meaning from the verb ps3 (batsa\ "to 
out in pieces, to break," and hence means 
properly that which is cut or broken off 
and taken by any one for himself, and so 
unjust gain — anything whatever fraudulently 



[oh. 1. 1—33. 

acquii-ed, as In ch. xxviii. 16, where it is 
translated " covetousness " (Authorized 
Version); of. Isa. xxxiii. 15; ch. iv. 27. 
The idea of greed and covetousnesa enters 
largely into the word. Which taketh away 
the life of the owners thereof. The pronoun 
" which " does not occur in the original. 
The nominative to "taketh away" (njj;, 
yiklcath) is "gain;" the "unjust gain" 
(betsd) takes away the life of its owners, i.e. 
of tliose who are under its power. Owners 
thereof 0'^??i Valayo) does not necessarily 
imply that they are in actual possession of 
the unjust gain, but rather refers to the 
influence which the lust for gain exercises 
over them. The expression in this second 
hemistich does not mean that the rapacious 
take the life of their comrades who possess the 
gain, as Babbi Salomon; nor, as the Vulgate, 
"the ways of the avaricious man take away 
the lives of those who possess them." For 
the phrase, "taketh away the life," as import- 
ing a violent taking away, cf. Ps. xxii. 13; 
1 Kings xix. 10. The sentiment of the 
verse is well expressed in 1 Tim. vi. 10, 
" For the love of money is the roct of all 
evil; which while some coveted after, they 
have erred from the faith, and pierced them- 
Belves through with many sorrows." 

Vera. 20 — 33. — 2. Second admonitory dis- 
course. Address of Wisdom personified, ex- 
hibiting the folly of those who wilfully reject, 
and the security of those who hearken to, her 
counsels. The sacred writer, in this section, 
as also in h. viii., uses the rhetorical figure 
of prosopopoeia, or impersonation. Wisdom 
is represented as speaking and as addressing 
the simple, scorners, and fools. Tlie address 
itself is one of the noblest specimens of 
aacred eloquence, expressing in rapid suc- 
cession the strongist phases of feeling 

pathetic bolioitude with abundant promibC, 
indignant scorn at the rejection of her 
appeal, the judicial severity of offended 
majesty upon offenders, and lastly the 
judicial complacency which deliglits in 
mercy towards the obedient. The imagery 
in pait is taken from the forces of nature 
in their irresistible and overwhelming 
violence and destructive potency. 

Ver. 20.— Wisdom orieth without. Wis- 
dom. The Hebrew word hochmnfl,.) here 
used to designate Wisdom seems i he an 
abstract derivation from the ordinary 
lihochmah. The form is peculiar to the 
I roverbs and Psidms, in the fi)rmer occnr- 
nug four times (ch. i. 22; ix. 1 ; xiv. 1 ; xxiv 
7J, and m the latter twice only (viz. Ps. 

zlix. 4; Ixxviii. 15). As in oh. iz. 1 and 
xxiv. 7, it is a pUiralii excelUntise of the 
feminine gender, a variety of the pluralis 
extensivus, as Bottcher prefers to denomi- 
nate it. The feminine form may be deter- 
mined by the general law which associates 
purity and serenity with womanhood 
(Plumptre). The idea of plurality, however, 
is not that of extension, but of comprehen- 
sion, I.e. it is not so much all kinds of 
wisdom which is presented to us, as all the 
varieties under which wisdom par excellence 
may be regarded and is comprehended. 
The plural form of the word denotes the 
highest character or excellence in which 
wisdom can be conceived; or, as the mar- 
ginal reading expresses it, wisdoms, ».«. 
excellent wisdom. Other instances of the 
pluralis exeeUentiie are met with in Holy 
Writ, e.g. Mldhim, God, i.e. " God of Gods," 
either from the polytheistic view, or from 
the monotheistic view as expressive of 
God's might in manifestation, passim; 
h'doshim, "the Holy (God)," ch. ix. 10; 
XXX. 3 ; adnnim, for adon, "lord" (Qesenius, 
' Gram.,' § 108. 2 6). In the conception of 
Wisdom here presented to us in the text 
we have the germ, of an idea which, on the 
principles of expansion, developed subse- 
quently in the consciousness of the Chris- 
tian Church into a definite identification of 
Wisdom with the Second Person of the 
blessed Trinity. There is a striking parallel 
to this passage in Luke xi. 49, where Christ 
speaks of himself as rt 3o^ta rod &eoS, "tlie 
Wisdom of God," that shall send prophets 
and apostles into Ihe world, and thereby 
identifies himself with Wisdom (cf. this 
with vers. 20, 21 ; ch. vii.). Again, a striking 
similarity is observable between the teaching 
o( Divine Wisdom and that of the Incarnate 
Word, as much in their promises as in 
their throats and warnings. But it is difS- 
cult to determine with accuracy to what 
extent the lUessianio import of the personi- 
fication was present to the consciousness 
of the sacred writers, and whether Wisdom 
as here presented to us is simply a poetic 
and abstract personification or a distiuot hy- 
postatizing of the Word. Dorner (' Pera. of 
Christ, lutrod., p. 16), with reference tc 
ch. viii. 22, etc., says that though Wisdom 
18 introauoed speaking as a personality 
distinct from God, still the passage does 
not lead oleariy to an hypostntizing of the 
Khoohmah. Bollinger ('Heidenthum und 
Judenthum,' bk. x. pt. iii. sec. 2 a, and 
0.1. viii. 22, etc.) maintiiins that Wisdom ii 
the personified idea of the mind of God 
111 creation," rather than the presence of "a 
distinct hypcstiisis." Liioke (see reference f 
ui '-"ddou ' Hampton Lects.') holds that in 
Iroveibs Wisdom is merely a personificft- 
ton. It 13 cloiir that whatever is predicated 

OH. 1. 1—33.] 



of Wisdom in ch. rlii. mnet be also pre- 
dicated of her in the passage before us, in 
reference either to the hypostatic or opposite 
view. On the other hand, a large number 
of expositors, dating from the earliest 
periods of the Christian Church down to 
the present time, see in Wisdom a distinct 
hypostasis, or person — the Lord Jesus Christ. 
A fuller investigation of this subject will 
be seen in our remarts on ch. viii. For 
the present we observe tliat Wisdom is 
esientially Divine. Her authority, her 
utterances, whether of promise, threat, scorn, 
or vengeance, are the authority, the utter- 
ances, of God. Crieth ; rather, crieth loudly, 
or aloud. The Hebrew verb ranan (jjn) is 

" to vibrate the voice," and conveys the idea 
of the clear loud ringing tones with which 
proclamations were made; of. the Vulgate 
prsedieare, and the Arabic clamitate, " to cry 
witli a loud voice." Fleischer remarks that 
the Arabic rannan, which is allied to the 
Hebrew verb, is used of a speaker who has 
a clear piercing voice. In such a way does 
Wisdom cry without when making her 
address. She elevates her voice that all 
may hear. The verb in the original is 
taionnah, the feminine singular of ranan, 
and predicate to "Wisdom," according to 
the rule that verbs in the singular are 
construed with plural nouns having a 
lingular signification, especially the plmralis 
exoellentiiB (see Gesenius, ' Gram.,' § 146. 2). 
Without, pia (bakhuts) is here used ad- 
verbially, as in Gen. ix. 22, and signifies 
" in the open places," t.e. abroad, without, 
as opposed to tie space withio the walls. 
The writer here begins his enumeration of 
the five places wherein Wisdom preaolies, 
viz. (1) without, (2) in the streets, (3) in 
chief places of concourse, (4) in the openini^ 
of the gates, (5) in the city, all of which 
are public, and thus indicate the publicity 
of her announcements (with tliese comp. ch. 
viii. 1 ; ix. 3). She uttereth her voice ; or^ 
causeth her voice to be heard; represented in 
the Vulgate by dat vocem suam, and in the 
LXX. by irapjniffiav Syet (equivalent to " she 
observes free-spokenness "). The instru- 
mentality which Wisdom uses in her public 
preaching are the prophets and teachers 
(Ecclus. xxiv. 33 ; Zookler, Vatablus, Mer- 
cerus). In the streets ; literally, in the wide 
tpaces; the Hebrew, nuhi (/khovoth), being, 
as in Gen. xxvi. 22, "wide spaces," and 
corresponding to the irKarda of the LXX. ; 
platex, Vnlgate. The same places are indi- 
cated in Luke xiv. 21, where, in the parable 
of the marriage supper, the servants are 
bidden to go out iuLo the streets (ir^aTetai) 
and lanes of the jily. The word is con- 
nected with the adjective rakhav (an^), 
"broad," "wide;" and in S Chton. xxxiL 

6 Is used to designate the ample space 
at the gates of Oriental cities (Gesenius), 
though here it seems to refer rather to 
"squares," large open spaces, not uncom- 
mon in Oriental cities — I saw one such at 
Aden — or it may refer to the broad crowded 
thoroughfares. The Syriac reading, in com- 
piiie, gives a different sense, as compitum, 
equivalent to "cross-roads." 

Ver. 21. — She crieth in the chief place of 
concourse. The chief place is literally the 
head (pAl, rosh) ; here used figuratively for 
the place where streets or roads branch off 
in different directions, as in Ezek. xvi. 25, 
" the beginning of streets," or " the head of 
the way;" comp. Gen. ii. 10, where it is 
used of the point at which the four streams 
branched off; and the corresponding ex- 
pression in oh. viii. 2, " She staudeth in the 
top (rosh) of high places." Of concourse; 
ni»Dh QiomiyyotK) is the plural of the adjec- 
tive, 'oin (homi) ; literally, " those who are 
making a noise," or "the tumultuous;" here, 
as in Isa. xxii. 2 and 1 Kings i. 41, used 
substantively for " boisterous, noisy places " 
(compare the Vulgate, in capite turbarum). 
The variation in the LXX., "on high 
walls," or " on the tops of the walls " (tV 
6.Kpav Se reix^av, super summos muros), 
which is adopted also in the Chaldee, 
Syriac, and Arabic Versions, arises from 
reading niDin (hhomotli), "walls," for the 
Masorttic homiyyoth. In the openings of 
the gates. The opening (nna, pethakh) is 
the opening of the gate, or the entrance 
by the gate (-\y_^, shaar), i.e. of the city, 
the introitus porta of the Chaldee and 
Syriac Versions. The openings of the gates 
would be thronged, as courts of justice were 
held at the gates (Deut. xvi. 18 ; 2 Sam. 
XV. 2); business was carried on there, as 
the selling ami redemption of land (Gen. 
xxiii. 10 — 16; Kuth iv. 1); markets were 
also held there (2 Kings vii. 1—18); and the 
same localities were used for the councils 
of the state and conferences (Gen. xxxiv. 
20; 2 Sam. iii. 27; 2 Chron. xviii. 9; Jer. 
xvii. 19 ; comp. ch. xxxi. 33, " Her husband 
is known in the gates"). In place of thw 
expression, " in the openings of the gates," 
the LXX. reads, 'Eiri 5e irvXais Swcurruv 
irapeSpdet, '' And at the gates of the mighty 
she sits " — an interpolation which only parti- 
ally represents the 8eni.e of the original, and 
which is adopted in the Arabic. In the next 
clause, for "in the city" is substituted eV! 
5e iruKais ■ir6\€ws, "at the gates of the city." 
The Vulgate combines the separate clauses 
of the original in one — in foribus portarum 
urbis, "in the entrances and openings of 
the gates of the city." In the oity (tj;3, 
bair) ; <*.«. in the city itself (so Aben Ezra 
ap. Gejerus), as opposed to the entrance bi 



[oh. 1. 1—33. 

the gates, and so need antithetically (as 
Umbreit, Bertheau, Hitzig). The publicity 
of the teaching of Wisdom, observable ih the 
places she selects for that puipose, also 
marked the public ministry of our Lord and 
his disciples, and finds an illustration in 
his command, " What ye hear in the ear, 
that preach ye upon the housetops " (Matt. 
X. 27) ; i.e. give it all the publicity possible. 
The spirit of Wisdom, like that of Chris- 
tianity, is aggressive (see Wardlavf , 'Lectures 
on Proverbs iv.,' vol. i. pp. 40, 41). 

Ver. 22. — How long, ye simple ones, will 
ye love simplicity 1 etc. From this verse ,to 
the end of the chapter the sacred writer puts 
before us the words of Wisdom herself. 
The discourse begins in the same way as in 
Ps. iv. 2 (Zockler), and the classification of the 
persons addressed — the simple, the soorners, 
•nd the sinners — closely rusembles that of 
Ps. i. 1. In the order there is a progression 
from the least to the most culpable. The 
timple (□;ne, j/thayim), as in ver. 4, those 
who are indifferent through thoughtlessness 
and inoonsiderateness, and are thereby open 
to evil. The soorners (D'l^, letsim); or, 
muckers, the same as the (px^, laUori) 
" scornful men '' of oh. xxix. 8, derived from 
the root yh (luts), "to deride, mock," pro- 
bably by imitating the voice in derision. 
The mockers are those who hold all things 
in derision, both human and Divine, who 
oontemn God's admonitions, and treat with 
ridicule both threatenings and promises 
alike. Pools; D'^'M (ch'eilim), a different 
word from the evilim of ver. 7, but eignify- 
ing much the same, t.e. the obdurate, the 
hardened, sMidi, thofie,vwio walk after the 
sight of their eyes and the imagination of 
their hearts — a class not ignorant of know- 
ledge, but hating it because of the restraint 
it puts them under. The word occurs in 
oh. xvii. 10, in the sense of the incorrigible; 
in ch. xzvi. 3, 4 as a term of the greatest 
contempt. The enallage, or interchange of 
tenses in the original — the verbs " love " and 
" hate " being future, and " delight " being 
perfect — is not reproducible in English. The 
perfect is used interchangeably with the 
future where the action or state is repre- 
sented as first coming to pass or in progress, 
and, as Zookler remarks, may be inchoative, 
and so be rendered "become fond of," 
instead of "be fond of." But it appears 
to represent not so much a state or action 
first coming to pass as in progress (see 
Geseuius, 'Gram.,' § 126. 3). Bottoher 
(§ 948. 2) translates it by conowpiverint, i.e. 
" How long shall ye have delighted in scorn- 
ing ? " The futures express " love " and 
"hate" as habitual sentiments (Delitzsoh). 
It ia to be noted that the language of 

Wisdom, in verfl. 22 and 23, is expressiw 
of the most tender and earnest solicitude. 

Ver. 23. — Turn you at my reproof. A call 
is here made to repentance. The meaning 
seems to 1)6 " return to my reproof," t.e. place 
yourselves under my reproof (as Gejerus, 
Delitzsch), the ^ being represented by ad, 
as in the Vulgate: convertimini ad correp- 
tionem meam. It is susceptible, however, 
of a different reading, ix. " in consequence 
of, or because of (propter), my reproof," the 
prefix ^ being found in Kumb. xvi. 34, 
" They fled at the cry," t.e. because of the 
cry. Meproof (nna'in, ihoahalchath); i.«. re- 
buke, or correction, by words. The LXX. 
i\iyXos conveys the argumentative con- 
viction which will be present in the reproof. 
The word occurs again in vers. 23, 25, and 30 
of this chapter, and also in ch. iii. 11 ; t. 12; 
vi. 23 ; xxvii. 5 ; xxix. 15. Behold, I will 
pour out my Spirit unto yon. The promise 
consequent upon, and the encouragement to, 
repentance. The promise is conditioned — if 
those addressed will heed the reproof of 
Wisdom, then she will pour forth her Spirit 
upon them, and cause them to know her 
words. The \erh hibhia Ql'Si), "to stream 
forth, or gush out," is here used figuratively. 
The outflow of the Spirit of Wisdom will be 
like the abundant and continuous gushing 
forth of water from the spring or "fountain. 
The verb unites in it the figures of abundant 
fulness and refreshing invigoration (Umbreit, 
Elster); comp. oh. xv. 2, 28; Ps. lix. 7; 
cxix. 171 ; Eocles. x. 1. We have here a 
striking anticipation of the prophecy of Joel 
(ii. 28). The Spirit is that of Wisdom " and 
understanding, the Spirit of counsel and 
godly strength, the Spirit of knowledge and 
true godliness" (see Confirmation Office). 
The explanation of Beda, that it signifies 
her anger, is clearly inadmissible. I will 
make ^own my words onto you ; t.e. as the 
LXX., "I will teach you my word" (SiS({|ai), 
or as the Vulgate "show" (ostendam), "ex- 
pound, or make clear." My words (d'vari)', 
i.e, precepts, or doctrine, or secrets. An inti- 
mate relation subsists between the " Spirit" 
of Wisdom and her "words," with which it 
is parallel. The former is the illuminating, 
invigorating principle which infuses life 
and power into the "words" of Wisdom, 
which she has already given, and which 
are already in our possession. Wisdom 
stands in the same relation to her words as 
the Divine Logos does to his utterances, 
into which he infuses himself. "It is the 
Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth 
nothing : the words that I speak unto yon, 
they are spirit, and they are life" (John 
vi. 63. See Delitzsoh, Wardlaw, tn loo.). 

Ver. 24.— Beoanse I have called, and yo 
refused. A pause may be imagined, and 

OH. 1. 1 — 33.J 



seemB to be .implied, between this and the 
preceding verses (22 and 23), when the ad- 
dress passes Into a new phase — from that of 
invitation and promise to that of judgment 
and stern dennnciation (vers. 24 — 27). In 
the subsection the antecedent clauses are 
vers. 24, 25, introduced by the conjunction 
•because" (]r^, j/ao» ; quia, Vulgate), which 

expresses the reason or cause for the con- 
clusion in vers. 26 and 27, introduced by 
" I also," to which the " because " answers. 
A similar grammatical construction and 
judgment is to be found in Isaiah : " I also 
will choose their delusions, and will bring 
their fears upon them; because when I called, 
none did answer ; when X spake, they did 
not.hear " (Isa. Ixvi. 4 ; see also Jer. vii. 13). 
Refused ; i.e. refused to hearken, as signified 
in the LXX. viraKoiiraTe, I have stretched 
out my hand. A forensic gesture to arrest 
attention. The expression is equivalent to 
" I have spread out my hands " (Isa. Ixv. 
2); cf. "Then Paul stretched forth the 
hand {ixrelyas tV x^'P")" (Acts xxvi. 
1). Begarded (I'a'pn, mak'shiv). The ori- 
ginal idea of the verb aB'jj Qcathav), used 
here, is that of erecting or pricking up 
the ear, like the Latin arrigere, sc. aures, 
in Plant., ' Bud.,' 5. 2. 6 ; and cf. " arreotia- 
que auribus adstant" (Virgil, 'jEneid,' i. 

Ver. 25. — Ye have get at nought ; ratlier, 
rejected (Umbreit, Bwald, et alii). The 
Authorized Version rendering here is eciui- 
Tocal, inasmuch as it is capable of meaning 
" despised," whereas y ns (para") signifies " to 
let loose," "to let go" (cf. the German 
fahren lasseri), and hence " to overlook, or 
reject." Its force is fairly represented in the 
LXX.., 'Axipous iiroieiTe €/iiiis j3ou\as, " Ye 
rendered my counsel of no effect." Counsel 
(DSSj etsah); i.e. advice, in the sense of 
recommendations for doing good, as opposed 
to reproofs for the avoidance of evil (see 
vers. 23 and 30). Would none. The same 
verb, n3N (avah), occurs in vers. 10 and 30, 
hence used with the negative (4? (lo) in the 
sense of direifleii/ (LXX.), " to refuse com- 
pliance with," aa in .Slschylus, 'Agam.,' 

Ver. 26.— I also will laugh at your 
calamity; or, more accurately, in the time 
of your calamity; as in the Vulgate, in 
interitu vestro ridebo. The preposition pre- 
fixed to the substantive Veyd'chem (037!}?) 
refers to the time, or state, or condition 
(Gesenius, 'Gram.,' 154. 3). In the time 
of their calamity wisdom will exult or 
lejoice. The LXX., Tp i/ierepa 07rm\€iif 
imye\i(ronai, however, favours the rendering 
of the Authorized Version. Calamity (tn, 
eyd) is heavy overwhelming misfortune. 

that which oppresses and'crushes its victims. 
The terrific nature of the punishment of the 
wicked is marked by a succession of terms 
all of terrible import — calamity, fear, desola- 
tion, destruction, distress, and anguish (vers. 
26, 27). When these come upon them, then 
Wisdom will laugh and have thenr in de- 
rision. The verbs "laugh" (pn'^, sakhak) 
and " mock " (igji, laag) are the same as in 
Ps. ii. 4, where they are rendered " to 
mock " aud " have in derision." When your 
fear cometh ; i.e. has actually arrived. Fear 
(nns, palilMd); here used metonymically 
for that which causes the fear or terror (id, 
quod timebatis, Vulgate). There is a similar 
use of ip6^os in 1 Pet. iii. 14. 

Ver. 27. — When your fear cometh as deso- 
lation. The imagery in this verse is borrowed 
from nature — from the tempest and whirl- 
wind, which, in their impetuous fury, involve 
all in irretrievable ruin. The two leading 
ideas here in the writer's mind are calamity 
and fear. These — their fear, that which 
causes their fear ; and their destruction, i.e. 
calamity — ^both representing Wisdom's, and 
so God's, judgment, will come on sinners as 
a wasting tempest and sweeping hurricane. 
The terror and devastation caused by these 
latter as they pass over the face of uature 
are employed to depict the alarm and ruin of 
sinners. Desolation; niNtj; (sJiaavali) isa wast- 
ing, crashing tempest (cf. ch. iii. 25 ; Zeph. 
i. 15), derived from nsa' (shaah), " to make a 
crash," as of a house falling. The Vulgate 
reads, repentura calamitaa ; the LXX., SKpvai 
e6pvPos ; both bringing out the idea of sud- 
denness, and the latter that of the uproar of 
the tempest. The Khetib, or traditional 
text of the manuscripts (nw»?), is equi- 
valent to the Keri, or emended reading 
(n{!iK'3), and both appear to have the same 
root-meaning. Destruction (TN, eyd); the 
same as " calamity " in the preceding verse. 
Whirlwind ; nsiD (suphah), from the root C)1D 

(supK), " to snatch, or carry away," means a 
whirlwind carrying everything before it— 
the Karaijls of the LXX., or hurricane, as in 
Arist., 'Mund.,' 4. 16. Distress and anguish 
(npai nniB, tsarah v'tzukdh). A corre- 
sponding alliteration occurs in Isa. xxx. 6 
and Zeph. i. 15. The root-signification of 
the former is that of compression, reproduced 
in the LXX. exists, and the Vulgate triba- 
latio; that of the latter is narrowness. 
LXX., TToMopKia, "a beleaguering;" Vul- 
gate, angustia. The LXX. adds, at the 
close of this verse, fl Srav Ipxvrai vfuv 
iXeBpos as explanatory. 

Ver. 28.— The phase which the address 
now enters upon continues to the thirty -first 
verse. The change in this verse from the 
second to the third person i* striking. It 



[oh. I. 1— 3a 

implies that Wisdom thinks fools no longer 
worthy of being addressed personally— 
''Quasi stultos indignos censunt vdterioii 
alloqiiio" (Gejerns and Michaells). Thede- 
claiation is the eml)odiment of the laughter 
and scorn of ver. 26. The three verbs, " they 
shall c&U," "they shall seek," "they shall 
find," occur in uncommon and emphatic 
forms in the original. They are some 
out of the few instances where the future 
terminations are inserted fully before the 
pronominal sufSx. I will not answer. The 
distress and anguish consequent upon their 
calamity and fear lead them to pray, but 
there will be no answer nor heed given to 
their cry. They are, not heard, because 
they do not cry rightly nor in the time of 
grace (Lapide). See uie striking parallel 
to the tenor of this passage in Luke xiii. 
24 — 28. They shall seek me early ; i.e. dili- 
gently. The verb inK' (ihalchar) is the de- 
nominative from the substantive "in» (efta- 
har), "the dawn, morning," and signifies 
to go out and seek something in the ob- 
scurity of the morning twilight (Delitzsoh, 
Zookler), and hence indicates diligence 
and earnestness in the search. Oesenius 
gives the same derivation, but connects it 
witli the dawn in the sense of the light 
breaking forth, and thus, as it were, seeking 
(see also oh. ii. 27 ; vii. 15 ; viii. 17 ; Hos. 
V. 15). 

Vers. 29 and 30 belong to ver. 28, and 
are not the antecedent clauses to ver. 31, 
as Zoohler reiiiaiks. They recapitulate the 
charges already made against the sinneis 
in vers. 22 and 25, and now set them forth 
as the ground or reason why Wisdom, on 
her part, turns a deaf ear to their entreaties. 
Wisdom will disregard them because they 
have previously disregarded her. The 
connection is denoted in (he LXX. by yip, 
for the Hebrew tahJtath lei, equivalent to 
" because," and in the Authorized Version 
by the punctuation. Did not choose the 
fear of the Lord. The verb " to chonse " 
("inj, bahhar) combines in itself the mean- 
ings of eligere and diligere (Fleischer), and 
therefore signifies here not only choice of, 
but also the fuller sense of love for, the fear 
of the Lord. They despised ; i.e. rejected the 
reproof with scorn or derision, sneered or 
turned up their noses at it (/luKTrjpifeii', 
LXX.), disparaged it (deirahere, Vulgate), 
or, more strongly, as Gejerus says, execrated 
it. Their rejection of reproof is stigmatized 
in stronger terms than in ver. 25. 

Ver. 31.— Therefore they shall eat, etc. 
A further enlargement of the declaration of 
Wisdom, showing that their calamity ig the 
result of their own ways. The futures are 
resumed in the original from ver. 28. The 
word "therefore" doeB not occur, bnt it ia 

met with in the LXX., roiyapovy; in tha 
Vulgate, igilur; and in the Syriao, idea. 
The truth here expressed is accordant with 
the tenor of the teaching of the Scripture 
(comp. oh. xiv. 14; ixii. 8; Job iv. 8; 
Isa. iii. 10 ; Gal. vi. 7, 8), and with our daily 
experience of God's moral government of 
the world (see Butler, 'Analogy,' part i. 
ch. ii., ad fin.). This sentiment of retribu- 
tive punishment also found expression in 
Terence, " Tute hoc intiisti, tibi omne est 
edendum" ('Phorm.,' 2. 1. 4). When we 
are punished, the blameworthiness lies not 
with God, but with us sinners (Wardlaw). 
They shall be filled ; rather, satiated, or aur- 
feited ; mturdbuntur (Vulgate). Tl le verb ya^ 
(ihava) means not only " to fill," but " to be 
satiated or cloyed" (cf. ch, xiv. 14 ; xxv. 16; 
Pa. Ixxxviii. 3; cxxiii. 4). Michaelis re- 
marks on this word, " Ad nauseam imple- 
buntur et comedent, ita ut consiliorum 
suorum veliementer tandem, sed nimis sero, 
ipsos poeniteat" (Michaelis, 'Notaa Ube- 
riores in Prov.'), " They shall be filled and 
eat ad nauseam, so tliat at length, but too 
late, they shall vehemently repent them of 
their own counsels." Counsels (nii'JJin, moe- 
tsotJi); i.e. ungodly counsels, or evil devices. 
The word only occurs in the plural. 

Ver. 32. — Wisdom now brings her address 
to a close by contrasting the destruction and 
ruin of the foolish, and the security of those 
who listen to her voice. The turning away ; 
nniB'a (m'shuvaK), from aw' (shuv), " to turn 
about, or to return " (which is used meta- 
phorically of conversion), here means defec- 
tion, turning away ; and hence apostasy 
(aversin, Vulgate, Chaldee Paraphrase, Sy- 
riac; perveraitio. Cast. Version); the "back- 
sliding " of Jer. viii. 5 ; Hos. xi. 7. Aben 
Ezra understands it to signify " ease," as 
in the marginal reading ; but there seems no 
warrant for taking the word in that sense. 
The LXX. renders the passage quite difier- 
ently, 'Ave' S>v yip T}SlKovy in)irlovs, ipovfvBi]- 
aovTai, " For because they wronged the young, 
they shall be slain ; " so also the Arabic. 
The turning away is from the warnings and 
invitations of Wisdom, and implies rebel- 
liousness against God. The prosperity. The 
word in the original (ni^»', thal'vaV) is 
here used in a bad sense, and means " care- 
lessness, indolence," that carnal security 
wliich is induced by prosperity and worldly 
success, as in Jer. xxii.-21, "1 spoke to thee 
in thy prosperity (security), but thou saidst, 
I will not hear" (of. Ezek. xvi. 49, where it 
is translated "idleness." So Dathe trans- 
lates, " Incuria ignavorum eos perdit." The 
Ohalilee Paraphrase and Syriac Versions 
read " error." It occurs in a good sense aa 
" tranquillity," " security," in ch. xvil 1 and 
Ps. cixii, 7, The derivation of the word ii 

OH. 1. 1—33.] 



from n^^ (thalcth), "to be tranquil, to be 
safe, secure." Mariana remarks that it ia 
more difficult to bear prosperity tlian adver- 
sity, because we endure adversity, we are 
corrupted by prosperity, and prosperity or 
ease makes fools mad. The false security of 
the prosperous is illustrated by our Lord in 
his parable of the rich fool (Luke xii. 16 — 
21) The LXX. differs again from the 
Hebrew in the second clause of tliis vtrse, 
Kol i^eToiriids ao-E/Seis dhei; i.e. the carefully 
considered judgment of God conceruing 
them shall deatioy them. The LXX. is 
followed by the Arabic. Them; i.e. the 
fools themselves, and not otiier sinners, as 
Ben Ezra says, though the apparent security 
of fools, tlie impunity with which they 
seem to go on in their wickedness, and the 
success of their plans, may lead others to 

Ver. 33. — Hearkeneth unto me. Wisdom, 
in closing her address, draws a beautiful 
picture of the real security and peace of the 
righteous, as contrasted with the false 
security of tlie wicked. As on the one side 
rejection of her counsels, her warnings, and 
invitations, carries with it punishment and 
irretrievable ruin ; so, on the other, the 
hearkening to her words, and loving obedi- 
ence, are rewarded by her with the choicest 
blessings. Shall dwell safely ; that is, with 
confidence, without danger (absqiie terrore, 
Vulgate). The phrase, -joa ]3f (shaehan 

betakh), is used in Deut. xzxiii. 12— 18o{ 
the safety with which the covenant people 
should dwell in the land that Ood had given 
them ; but it is capable of a further exten- 
sion of meaning beyond mere temporal 
security, viz. to the spiritual peace of the 
righteous. The psalmist also employs it to 
describe the confidence with which he awaits 
the resurrection, when he says, "My flesh also 
shall rest in hope [or, ' dwell confidently '] " 
(Ps. xvi. 9). So here Wisdom promises 
that he who hearkens to her shall dwell 
calmly and undisturbed amidst the distrac- 
tions of the world. Thepromise agrees with 
the description of Wisdom elsewhere that 
" her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all 
her paths are peace." And shall be quiet 
(IJW, shaanan, perfect pile!). Wisdom 
regards her assurance as already accom- 
plished, and hence the perfect in the original 
is used for the future. The hearers and doers 
of her will shall live in tranquillity ; nay, 
they are already doing so. It is a thing not 
oidy in prospect, but in posgession. From 
fear of evil ; i.e. either without any fear of 
evil, fear being removed (timore sublato, 
Vulgate), or, as the Authorized Version 
expresses it, connecting the phrase more 
intimately with the verb — " quiet from fear 
of evil." It is not only evil, nyi (raah), In its 
substantial form, as calamity, they are to be 
free from, but even the fear of it. The tran- 
quillity will be supreme. , 


Yer. 6 Proverbs. It is not surprising to see that proverbs, which are found more 

or less in the traditional lore of almost all nations, and flourish most abmidantly in 
the East, also er)ter into the circle of the inspired Uterature of the Jews. The general 
characteristics of this portion of the sacred Scriptures are well worthy of our study. 

I The proverbs are all conoisb utterances. In the present age, when time is 
more precious than ever, it is to be wished that public teachers would correct their 
prolixity by following the example of these sa.v ings, which certamly contam ■ the soul 
of wit " 1. The conciseness of the proverbs renders them striking. It is not enough 
to state a truth; we must make it tell. Men's ears are dull to spiritual ideas. In 
ofder to penetrate, words must have point, inoisivenesa, force. 2. The conciseness also 
greatly assists memory. Proverbs can be handed from one to another like coins. A 
truth that is worth uttering is worth remembering. ^ 

II Many of the proverbs are illustrative sayings. They are figures. Ihe 
proverb runs into the parable ; indeed, a parable is but an expanded proverb. Eithei 
by way of arbitrary illustration, or by reason of real correspondence between the 
material and the spiritual nature, a proverb will often afford lessons of spiritual truth 
which are more fresh and interesting than bare abstract statements The popular 
mind naturally turns to the concrete. What strikes the senses is felt tobe most 
forcible. How well our Lord knew this fact of human nature, and how graciously he 
Undescended to accommodate himself to it, is seen in his own rich PCture-^alle^y 
of parabolic teaching. He who can discern " sermons in stones "and '< book, in the 
runnin" brooks " will have his eyes opened to see " good in everything. 

IIL Some of the proverbs are suggestive rather than direct teachings. Ihey 
are "dark sayings "-possibly because the truth is so profound that it can only be 


18 THE PROVERBS. [oh. i. 1—SS. 

approached by those who grope after it in difficult research. But more simple truth 
may be wrapped in enigmatic phrases for the express purpose of testing the genuineness 
of the desire to possess it, exciting interest, exercising the powers of thought in the 
learner, and becoming itself a more intelligible and more valuable thing when it is 
once found (see Matt. xiii. 10—17). Let no man think that the best treasures of 
thought are scattered prodigally on the surface of life for swine to trample underfoot. 
They lie deep, and must often be sought with toil and anguish of soul. Tet to the 
honest seeker after light, if only he follow the Light of the world, it will surely dawn, 
though for a season 

" The intellectual power, through words and things, 
Went sounding on, a dim and perilous way." 

rV. The peoveebs tebat of human conduct. 1. Next to theology, the highest 
knowledge is that of human Mfe and duty. The triumphs of physical discovery seem 
to have thrown us into the opposite extreme from that to which Socrates tended. 
Surely whatever other studies we may pursue, " the proper study of mankind is man." 
!No other topic is more profoundly interesting, none requires so much light, none is so 
replete with practical issues. 2. The wisdom of the proverbs is practical. It deals 
with conduct — which, as Mr. Matthew Arnold says, " is three-fourths of life." What 
we know is of service to us chiefly as it affects what we do. 3. This wisdom concerns 
itself with the moral and religious guides to practice. We find here no Machiavellian 
maxims of dishonest expediency, no mere worldly advice in the school of Lord Chester- 
field, no Jesuistic casuistry. Righteousness among men and the fear of God are the 
leading principles set forth. The least exalted precepts are pure and honest. The 
highest reach the level of Christian ethics. Though much of the Book of Proverbs falls 
short of the lofty requirements of the New Testament, many passages in it read like 
anticipations of the Sermon on the Mount. Thus are we taught that the highest 
wisdom is one with the purest morality and the noblest religion. 

V. The pkoveebs originated in wisdom, and need wisdom foe their inteeprb- 
TATION. They are words of the wise. Inspiration does not dispense with intelligence ; 
it quickens it. Wisdom is itself a gift of the Spirit of God (Jas. i. 5). The most 
simple truth is often the product of the most difficult thinking which has triumphed in 
thus making plain what was previously obscure. Let us see, however, that the clear 
utterance is a word of the wise ; for there is a tendency to accept a saying because 
of its neat and apt form, without regard to its truth or falseness. Wisdom is therefore 
needed in understanding proverbs and in " discerning spirits." It is not enough that 
the giammarian explains the words. Higher wisdom is necessary to see where the 
isolated truth fits into other truths, by what it is qualified, and how it is to be applied ; 
for it is one of the disadvantages of the proverb that its very terseness gives to it 
an unnatural isolation, and excludes the addition of counterbalancing truths. 

Ver. 7. — The relation of religion to knowledge. " The fear of the Lord " being the 
most common Old Testament name for religion, we must take it here in its large and 
general sense, and understand that religion in all its relations is set forth as the true 
basis of knowledge ; though it may well be that awe and reverence for the majesty and 
mystery of God have a special prominence in regard to the pursuit of truth. 

I. Religion is an important requisite foe the acquisition of all kinds o» 
KNOWLEDGE. Religion — not theology — claims this position. The progress of science 
was arrested for a thousand years by the claims of theology to dominate all regions of 
inquiry. Theology, or human speculations about Divine things, is the most difficult, 
and therefore in many respects the most uncertain, of all the sciences. When the 
schoolmen made the dogmatic assumptions of patristic theology, combined with elaborate 
deductions from Aristotelian philosophy, the touchstone of all truth, they set up an 
impenetrable barrier before the investigation of nature. Even when theologicsJ dicta 
are absolutely true, it is irrelevant to bring these to bear upon physical science. 
Unquestionably Bacon did a great service to the cause of truth in banishing final causes 
from the science of nature. But the relation of religion to science is of a totally 
different nature. That relation consists in the influence that religious experience, 
religious charac', religious feelings and motives, must necessarily have upon scientiflo 

OH. 1. 1—33.] THE PROVERBS. 19 

research. Religion influences all life; intellectual lif<» is no exception. 1. Religion 
should excite the thirst for truth. It is a mistake to suppose that religion inclines to 
indolence and ignorance. It inspires all the noblest endeavours. It is on the side 
of light and truth. Rightly understood, it will impose the pursuit of science as a duty. 
Without religion this pursuit is too likely to be followed only from more inclination, 
or possibly for ends of self-interest. 2. Religion tends to induce the most wholesome 
scientific temper. There is great ri'semblance between the Christian graces and the special 
dispositions requisite for the successful discovery of truth. The Sermon on the Mounl 
contains the best possible precepts for the character of the model man of science. 
Loyalty to truth, unselfishness in sacrificing prejudices and crotchets, justice to the 
work of rivals, diligence in uninteresting but needful inquiries, patience in waiting for 
solid results, conscientiousness in refraining from mere sensationalism, humility in 
confessing the smallness of the area really conquered, calmness and generosity under 
criticism, are among the most essential requisites for the pursuit of science, and they are 
among the best fruits of religion. 3. Religion tends to open the eyes to truth. It raises 
us from the gross animalism which is intellectual death. Elevating the whole man, it 
enlarges the intellect. 

II. Religion is the necessary foundation of spiritual knowlbdoe. This fact 
agrees with the great modern doctrine of inductive philosophy. Experience is the basis 
of knowledge. To know God we must have personal relations with him. Spiritual 
truths in regard to human life depend on the same Source. We must do the command- 
ment in order to know the doctrine. Indeed, there is a constant interaction between 
knowledge and experience — every enlargement of experience increasing our knowledge, 
and every increment of knowledge throwing light on our way for future experience ; 
till, in consequence of these two processes, we rise, as one has said, by a sort of " spiritual 
spiral," to the coexistent perfection of knowledge and of character. Our independence 
upon an external and superhuman revelation for our knowledge of Divine things is no 
exception to this principle, as two considerations will show. 1. Revelation was first 
vouchsafed through religious men. The fear of God was the beginning of knowledge 
in the prophets ; the love of Christ is its basis in the apostles. Nebuchadnezzar could 
not have written the prophecies of Isaiah, nor could Judas have written St. John's 
Gospel. 2. Bevelation can only be understood by religious men. A bad man may be a 
good verbal commentator, but the essential truth, the spirit which quickens as dis- 
tinguished from the " letter that killeth," can only be discerned by those who are in 
sympathy with it, because " spiritual things are spiritually discerned." 

Ver. 10. — Temptation. I. How the temptation combs. 1. From sinners. (1) It 
comes from without. The evil of our own hearts inclines us to sin ; but were we per- 
fectly innocent we could not escape temptation. The serpent was a denizen of Eden. 
Christ the Sinless One was tempted. The sights and sounds of the wicked world pene- 
trate to the most carefully guarded soul. (2) The temptation is furnished by those 
who have themselves succumbed to sin. It is sinners who tempt. Sin is contagions. 
The worst sin is that of those who, hke Jeroboam, " make Israel to sin." The bad man 
has terrible power for harm. Example, social influence, friendship, favour his designs. 
2. By enticements. Sin is made to be attractive; and it is most important for all of 
us to know that there are pleasures in sin, in order that we may not be surprised at the 
discovery of them. The fruit is palatable, though, like apples of Sodom, it soon turns 
to ashes. If it were not so, who would run the risk of tasting it? If stolen waters 
were not sweet, who would choose to wear the brand of a thief on his conscience? 
Herein is the great power of temptation. By slow degrees and soft inducements the 
evil is wrought. The subtle serpent succeeds where the roaring lion fails. Delilah 
conquers the man whom no Philistine warrior could overthrow. 

" Devils soonest tempt, resembling spirits of light." 

n How THE temptation IS TO. BE MET. " Conscnt thou not." Let no man deem 
himself the helpless victim of temptation. " God is faithful, who will not sufi'er you 
to be tempted above that ye are able," etc. (1 Cor. x. 13). We have wills. We can say 
" Yes " and " No." We are not responsible for meeting with temptation, smce even Christ 
felt the cruel force of this trial, but we are responsible for the way we behave under it. 

20 THE PEOVEBBS. [ch. i. 1—3 

" 'Tjs one thing to be tempted, 
Another thing to fall." 
Now, the resistance to temptation must be immediate and, thorough. The_ tempter 
entices by gentle degrees, but the tempted must resist at once and with decision. He 
must not begin with the " retort courteous," but with " the lie direct." There is some- 
thing brusque about the advice, "consent thou not," very different in tone from the 
polite enticing manner of the tempter. Yet this is necessary, for all that is wanted by 
the tempter is compliance — no active exercise of will, but a passive yielding. The 
rusistance, however, must be active. The greatest danger is in dallying with temptation. 

" Lie in the lap of sin, and not mean harm ? 
It is hypocrisy against the devil : 
They that mean virtuously, and yet do bo. 
The devil their vbtue tempts, and they tempt Heaven.* 

The difficulty is to give a decided negative. With some people the hardest word to 
say is " No." Kemember : 1. There is a Divine grace to which we can appeal for aid 
in temptation, and a Saviour who can succour (Heb. ii. 18). 2. We can best keep 
out sin, not by bare expulsion of the spirit of evil, leaving the soul empty, swept, and 
garnished, and therefore ready for the advent of worse sins, but by filling our thoughts 
and affections with pure and worthy objects, by overcoming evil with good. 

Vers. 20—23. — The gospel call. This cry of Wisdom is a sort of evangel of the Old 
Testament religion. It is an anticipation of the gracious invitation subsequently put 
forth by the Christian truth. That, too, is a cry of Wisdom ; for is not Christ the 
"Wisdom of God" (1 Cor. i. 24), and " made unto us Wisdom" (1 Cor. i 30)? We 
of the latter times, therefore, may hear in the preaching of Solomon the call of the 
glorious gospel of the blessed God. 

L The ohabaoteb of the call. It is a cry, a loud utterance, arresting attention, 
arousing the thoughtless. Elsewhere we read that wisdom must be sought for like hid 
treasures (ch. ii. 4), and her most precious gifts are always reserved for diligent inquirers. 
But before she is found, she calls. Though the choicest blessings of Christ may be _ 
pearls to be had only after long search, his call to us is antecedent to our desire to 
obtain them, God does not wait for us to return to him before he shows a willingness 
to welcome us. He calls at once in his revelation of truth. It is the duty of Christians 
to take up and repeat this call, to be heralds of a public truth, not jealous guardians 
of an esoteric doctrine. 

II. The scene op the call. 1. Without. Before the truth can be enjoyed in the 
heart it must be heard from without. It is not reserved for the initiated. It is 
declared in the open. 2. In the streets. The gospel meets men in their busy lives. 
The streets and lanes must be scoured to furnish guests for the King's feast. The call 
is too gracious to contain itself in the conventicle of the elect. Free as the air, it aims 
to reach all. The faithful preacher of the gospel must seek men in their haunts, 
not wait till they come to his snug retreat. 3. In the chief place of concourse. The 
gospel courts inquiry, it declares itself in the full light of day, it challenges comparison 
with all earthly voices. Let us not think that it can only live in conventual seclusion. 
It boldly claims a place in the busiest life of the world. If it cannot hold its own there, 
It is worthless. If Christians had more faith in it, they would be less afraid to bring 
this truth into all possible relations with science, politics, business, recreation. But 
alas ! our ears are dull, and often when the voice of Wisdom is lifted up clear and 
kindly, it is drowned in the coarse din of worldly commotion, 

III. The persoks called. Simple ones, scorners, fools. Divine wisdom is healing 
wisdom. It is not so much a reward to the wise as instruction for the foolish. 
Earthly wisdom comes most readily to those who are most advanced. The gospel 
of Christ seeks the ignorant, the wayward, the fallen. 

IV. The way to receive the call. " Turn you." It is not enough to hear, ws 
TOUst answer ; and to answer is to obey, for the call is an invitation ; and to obey is to 
turn and repent, for the gospel of the holy Christ must be a reproof to sinners. This 
gospel can be of no avail' to us until we come to ourselves, turn our backs on our old 
ufe, and arise and go to our Fatl er. 

OH. 1.1— 330 THE PEOVEEBS. 21 

V. The blbssino promised — the outpouring of the Divine Spirit. All Divine wisdom 
is an inspiration. Christ the Wisdom of God can only be received as we are baptized 
with the Holy Spirit. Thus we receive light, love, purity, peace, strength, and eternal 

Vers. 24 — 30. — Left to their doom. Broad and encouraging as are the promises of 
Divine grace, if we forget the darker facts of life we shall be deluded into a false 
security ; for nothing could be more unreasonable than to suppose that the mercy of 
God takes no account of moral considerations. Legally our sovereign is vested with 
an unfettered right of pardoning every criminal, but principles of justice and public 
order put great restraints upon the exercise of such a right. Bald representations of 
prayer as a means for securing immediate deliverance from trouble, and especially as a 
sure door of escape from the consequences of sin, are as false as they are shallow. It is 
most important that we should know under what circumstances God will reject the 
prayer of his troubled children and leave them to their doom. 

I. Ak obstinate bejbction of God's invitations and counsels. No word is 
here said of the great mass of the heathen world, who have never heard the full 
declaration of God's will. Clearly it is implied that such men do not come under 
the same condemnation as that of the persons immediately referred to. For the special 
accusation is based on the rejection of the overtures of grace, which must have been 
known to have been refused. The guilt of this rejection may be measured in two 
directions. 1. By the character of the Divine voice. (1) It was an invitation, not 
a mere declaration of truth. " I have called." (2) It was a persuading. " I have 
stretched out my hand." (3) It was a warning. "Counsel" and "reproof" are 
referred to. The sin was plainly demonstrated, the danger clearly revealed. To reject 
such a Divine message is no slight error. 2. By the character of the rejection itself. 
(1) It was an obstinate refusal. There was no indecision. But, practically, not to 
decide to obey the voice of God is to decide to rebel against him. (2) It was an 
insulting indifference. " No man regarded." They refused, and went on their own 
ways, to their farms and merchandise and pleasure, without further thought. 


simple ingratitude of sin would be no barrier to the full exercise of "God's pardon in 
Christ if it were hated and repented of, for " he is able to save to the uttermost," etc. 
But without repentance the smallest sin cannot be forgiven. And repentance is not 
the mere feeling of distress at the consequence of sin— every sane and sentient being 
would have that feeling ; nor is it a mere regret that the wrong thing was done now 
its horrible fruits are ripening. It must be a hearty abhorrence of the wickedness 
itself and a gentiine desire to do nothing of the kind in the future. The dying sinner 
who is appalled at his future prospects, and shrieks for deliverance from the powers of 
hell, will not be heard, but will be left to his fate, and most reasonably so, if he has 
experienced no moral change, and feels no compunctions of conscience, but would do 
all his vile deeds over again if only he could ensure himself against the just penalties of 

in. An ATTEMPT TO ESCAPE FROM THE INEVITABLE. The earthly consequencos of 
sin are many of them fixed immutably by laws of nature. Prayer will not heal the 
shattered constitution of the drunkard, nor restore the squandered fortune of the spend- 
thrift, nor recover the lost reputation of the thief. No doubt many spkitual conse- 
quences of sin are also inevitable, and, though God may pardon the sinner, he will take 
vengeance on his devices. But when there is true penitence and trust in the mercy of 
God, the incidence of the calamity is shifted, though the calamity itself is not altered, 
BO that it comes as wholesome chastisement, and is then not laughed at by the Divine 
wisdom, but graciously overruled for the discipline of the penitent. 

Ver. 31. — Punishment the natural fruit of sin. The punishment of sin is not an 
arbitrary penalty, but a natural consequence. It follows by laws of nature. It needs 
no executioner. The sin works out its own doom. This thought may be regarded 
from two points of view. Prom the standpoint of nature it is a proof that Divine 
justice does not abrogate, but works through natural laws. From the spiritual side 
it is an evidence that God has planted his moral laws in the very constitution of the world. 

22 THE PEO VERBS. [oh. 1.1—33. 

I. Sin BBAE8 PEUiT. Nothing really perishes. Deeds live on in their consequences. 
Evil is not simply negative ; there is a terribly active and even vital power in it. Its 
vitality may be of a diseased, destructive order, like that of the cancer that grows and 
spreads to the death of the body in which it is imbedded; but it is none the less 
vigorous and euduring. 

II. The fkuit of sin has a natural affinity to the stock peom which it 
SPRINGS. The consequences of a sin have an inherent resemblance to the sin. As 
the Beatitudes are specially related to the graces they crown, so the curses of evil have 
close relations to particular forms of evil. Each sin bears its own fruit. Hatred 
provokes hatred; selfishness leads to isolation; falsehood engenders distrust. 

III. The feuit of sin is beyond oue conteol. We are free to sow the seed or to 
refrain ; we are not free to arrest the growth of the tree. A deed once dune is not only 
irretrievable, but it passes out of our power while it lives on to work out perpetual 
consequences. It may become a Frankenstein, iiorribly tynmnizing over its creator. 

IV. The feuit of sin must be eaten by the binnee. It will come back to him 
when it is ripe. There may be a long interval between the sowing of the seed and the 
gathering of the fruit, but the sower wiU have to devour the harvest. Herein is the 
peculiar horror of the doom of sin. Though a man would fain forget the past, it 
returns in the dreadful resemblance it bears to its consequences, now fully developed 
and revealed in true colours. Nauseous and poisonous, it must not only be witnessed, 
but eaten. He will have to receive it in his own life, in most close and intimate union 
with himself. 

Conclusion. 1. Let us beware of the thoughtless sowing which must lead to f 
fearful a harvest. 2. Let us lay hold of the hope oi redemptioa in Christ through 
which our sins may be buried in the depths of the sea. 

Ver. 32. — Fatal prosperity. It is certainly not incumbent on the Christian preacher 
to maintain that prosperity is in itself an evil. This would involve a strange paradox, 
since it must be confessed that we all desire prosperity by natural instinct, and seek it 
in seme form, and when we have met with it are exhorted to be thankful for it; all of 
wbich things would need to be deprecated if prosperity were essentially evil. So far is 
it from beinj; tlius represented in the Bible, that the Old Testament regards it as the 
reward of righteousness, and the New Testament as less important indeed and more 
full of danger, yet still as something to be enjoyed gratefully (see 1 Tim. iv, 4). But 
experience and revelation both warn us that it brings peculiar perils and temptations, 
and that there are some people to whom it is nothing less than fatal. 

I. Considee who aeb the persons to whom prospeeity is most fatal. It does 
not affect all alike. One man can stand calmly on a steep height where another reels 
with giddiness. The success which is fatal to one may develop magnanimous qualities 
in another. It is not all prosperity, but the prosperity of fools, that is destructive. 
The character of the men rather than the inherent evil of the thing determines its 
effects. Note some of the characters most injured by prosperity. 1. 77ie weak, who 
are moulded by circumstances instead of mastering them. If a man is not strong 
enough to direct his course, but suffers himself to drift with the currents of external 
events, prosperity will lead him away into extravagance and folly. He only is safe 
under it who is independent of it. 2. The short-sighted — men whose views of life are 
exceptionally limited. These people will be likely to expect too much from prosperity, 
to forget that riches take to themselves wings and fly away. 3. The empty-minded. 
If people have other resources than external possessions they are the more free to make 
good use of those possessions. But if they have nothing else, if they have no " inner 
city of the mind," if their life is all on the outside, prosperity will become a god and 
the idolatry of it a fatal delusion. 4. The vicious. A bad man will find in prosperity 
only enlarged means for evil-doing, and so will increase his wickedness and bring the 
greater doom upon his own head. To the intemperate, the profligate, the lovers of 
corrupt pleasures, prosperity is nothing less than a curse. 

II. Considee the way in which prospeeity becomes fatal. 1. It hides foUy. 
La Bruyfere says, " As riches and favour forsake a man, we discover him to be a fool, 
but nobody could find it out in his prosperity; " and Hare remarks that "nothing hides 
V blemish so completely as a cloth of gold." But if folly is hidden, it is unchecked, 

<».Ll— 33.] *ffiB PROVERM 

«nd grows worse and ripens fatally. 2. It encourages indolence. Prosperity may afford 
ample means for generous occupation, but weak and foolish people are more likely to 
he satisfied with idleness and self-indulgence when they find that all their wants are 
supplied without any effort on their own part. Then the disuse of faculties leads to 
the loss of them. Hence, as the pressure of adversity quickens our powers, the 
relaxation of prosperity tends to a sort of atrophy of them. 3. It affords opportunity 
for the exercise of had qualities. Many men have tendencies to particular kinds of sin 
that are checked for want of opportunity. Prosperity will give this with fatal results. 
4. It induces satisfaction with itself. Thus it quenches the thirst for deeper satisfaction. 
Lot, prosperous in Sodom, ceases to he a "pilgiim and stranger," and forgets to 
seek a " better country " till he is roused by the shock that puts an end to his worldly 


Vers. 1 — 6. — Design and character of proverbial wisdom. We may regard the 
opening words as a general index of the contents, as a designation of the object, and 
a statement of the value and prcfit of the teaching, of the book. 

I. Its design is to impart pbactioal sense. 1. And first, this in general includes 
the information of the understanding and of the memory by wisdom. This Hebrew 
word (chokmM) denotes, strictly, all that is fixed for human knowledge. We may 
render it " insight." In other places in the Bible, the judge (1 Kings iii. 28), the artist 
(Exod. xxviii. 3), or the man of skill and renown in general, are thus said to be men 
of insight, craft, or cunning, in the original and good sense of those words. Applied to 
religion and conduct, it means insight into the principles of right conduct, the knowledge 
of how to walk before God, choosing the right and avoiding the wrong path — the know- 
ledge of the way to peace and blessedness. 2. The training of the will. The word 
rendered " instruction " denotes moral education or training. Here, then, is the prac- 
tical side of the matter. Not only sound intelligence is aimed at, but pure feeling, 
right affections, the will guided by the polar star of duty. All this is general, 3. But 
next, particulars, falling within this great scope, ,are pointed out, viz. " the attainment 
of justice and right and fair dealing." The first is all that pertains to God, the 
supreme Judge — his eternal order and will. The second refers to established custom 
and usage among men — to law, in the human sense. The third, an expressive word, 
signifying literally what is straight, points to straightforward, honourable, and noble 
conduct. 4. But the book has a special object in view, and a special class : «'To hold 
o\A prudence to simple ones, and knowledge and reflectiveness to loys." Bach of these words 
has its peculiar force. The Hebrew expression for the first class is literally the " open 
ones," i.e. those who in ignorance and inexperience are open to every impression, good 
or bad ; simple-minded ones (not /ooZs, which is another idea), who are readily governed 
by the opinions and examples of stronger minds. They need that prudence, or caution, 
which the hints of proverbial sense may supply, to enable them to glide out of danger 
and avoid snares (for the word rendered " subtilty " denotes smoothness, like that of the 
slippery snake). Boys, or youths also, stand in peculiar need of " thoughtfulness "— a 
habit of reflecting with attention and forethought upon life and different modes of conduct. 
The Book of Proverbs, all must see, is specially adapted for these classes. But not for 
them alone. 5. The book is a book for all. The wise man may listen and gain instruc- 
tion ; for men " grow old, learning something fresh each day." And the intelligent man 
may obtain guidance. For although by middle life the general principles and maxims 
of wisdom may have been stored up, still the applications of them, the exceptions to 
them, form avast field for ever-growing acquisition. Knowledge is practically mfinite ; 
we can think of no bounds to it. New perplexities continually arise, new cases of con- 
science present themselves, old temptations revive in fresh combinations; and the 
records of others' experience continually flash new light from angles of observation 
distinct from our own. ,^ „^ ., i^ • i, t- i 

II The character and value op the book. (Ver. 6.) 1. It is a collection oj 
proverbs. Condensed wisdom. Landmarks in the field of experience. Beacons ol 
waminff from dangerous shores. Objects of interest in life's travel. Finger-posts. 

warning from dangerous shores. Objects 

24 THE PROVERBS. [oh. 1. 1—33; 

The "wit of many, the wisdom of one." A portable property of the intellect. A 
currency honoured in every land. " Jewels five words long, that on the outstretch'd 
forefinger of all time sparkle for ever." They may be compared to darts, to stings, 
to goads. They arouse the memory, awake the conscience: they fix the floating 
impressions of truth in forms not easily forgotten. These Bible proverbs are in poetical 
form ; and of them it may well be said, with George Herbert, " A verse finds him who 
a sermon flies." 2. The mode of speech is often figurative. The word rendered " dark 
saying" means a profound saying, enigma, "thing hidden" (Matt. xiii. 35 ; Ps. Ixxviii. 2), 
" obscure allegory " (Augustine). An example of this parabolic way of speaking is 
found in Agur's discourse (ch. xxx.). The power of it, like the power of pictures and 
of all sensuous symbols and poetical images, lies in the fact that the form " half reveals 
and half conceals the soul within," and thus excites the curiosity, fixes the attention, , 
stimulates exertion of thought in the listener. The best preachers leave much for the 
hearers to fill up for themselves. Suggestive teaching is the richest ; it makes the pupil 
teach himself. Such is the metliod of our Lord i;i his parables; but not, the only 
method; to be combined, as with him and here, with the direct mode of statement. 
The application is : " Take heed how ye hear." " To him that hath it shall be given." 
All wisdom is of God; the teacher and the disciple are both listeners at the living 
oracle of eternal truth. Knowledge is essential to religion, and growth belongs to both 
(Luke xvii. 5 ; Eph. iv. 15, 16 ; Col. i. 11 ; ii. 19 ; 2 Thess. i. 3 ; 2 Pet. iii. 18).— J. 

Ver. 7. — Beliffion the true heginning. Tliis is the motto of the book. It is often 
found (ch. ix. 10; Siraoh i. 16, 25, 26; Ps. oxi. 10). The Arabs have adopted it at 
the head of their proverbial collections. 

I. The Old Testament desiskation of religion. It is the fear of Jehovoih. 
Tliat is reverence for him who is One, who is eternal, incomparable with any of 
the gods of the heathen, the Deliverer of Israel in the past and ever, the All-holy, 
just and merciful One. Such reverence includes practical obedience, trust, gratitude, 
and love. With this expression we may compare walking before Jehovah and the 
service of Jehovah, as designations of the practical aspect of religion, as the former 
indicates the emotional and intellectual. 

II. Such religion is the true germ of sound knowledge. Men have divorced 
by a logical abstraction science, and often sense, from religion. But ideally, psychologi- 
cally, historically, they are in perfect unity. Religion is " the oldest and holiest 
tradition of our race" (Herder). From it as the beginning the arts and sciences 
sprang. It is ever so. True science has a religious basis. 1. In both the Infinite is 
impUed and is sought through the finite. 2. Both run up into mystery — science 
into the unknowaWe ground or substance behind all phenomena, religion before the 
inscrutable and unutterable God. 3. The true mood is alike in both, that of profound 
humility, sincerity, self-abnegation, impassioned love of the truth, the mood of Bacon, 
of Newton, etc. 

III. The rejection of religion folly. The Hebrew word for " fool " is strong ; it 
is cross, stupid, insensible. " A stock, a stone, a worse than senseless thing." Folly 
is always the reversal of some true attitude ot the mind and temper. It is the taking 
a false measure of self in some relation. It is the conceit of a position purely imaginary 
— amusing in a child, pathetic in a lunatic, pitiful in a rational man. True wisdom lies 
in the sense that we have little, in the feeling of constant need of light and direction; 
extreme folly, in the notion that the man " knows all about it." Most pitiable are 
learned fools. Without religion, i.e. the constant habit of reference to the universal, 
all knowledge remains partial and shrunk, is tainted with egotism; would reverse the 
laws of intelligence, and make the universal give way to the particular, instead of 
lifting the particular to the life of the universal. Beware of the contemptuous tone in 
books, newspapers, and speakers. Reserve scorn for manifest evil. The way to be 
looked down upon is to form the habit of looking down on others. To despise any 
humblest commonplace of sense and wisdom is to brand one's self in the sight of 
Heaven, and of the wise, afool. — J. 

Vers. 8, 9. — Filial piety. The teacher speaks under the assumed form of a father, 
like St. Paul (1 Cor. iv. 15 ; Philem. 10), to give the more affectionate zest to hii 

CH.1.1— 83.] THE PROVERfeS. 

appeal. And the word " mother " is hrought in by poetical parallelism, enhancing 
the parental ima<ie. We may include the parent and the teacher in one conception. 
The duty owed to both is analogous. And the teacher may be at the same time the 

I. Duty to parents and early teachers combs next to duty to God. It 
occupies that place in the Decalogue. Pythagoras and Plato, and the wise of antiquity, 
generally taught tliat parents came next to the gods, and were to be honoured even as 
the gods. The family is the key-stone of society. Parents are the earliest reiiresenta- 
tives to children of the principle of authority, of " other-will," and, in this sense, of 

II. The true parent is the best early teacher. 1. He has the fresh mind 
to' deal with, the opportunity of the first word, the early and deepest impression. 
2. He is the most sincere of teachers, or has the least temptation to be insincere. His 
one object is the child's good. 3. He is the most loving. 4. The father and the 
mother should combine in this work — the father to train the young mind to principle, 
the mother to inspire pure sentiment. The masculine influence deals with the 
general, with law and relation in life, with the logic or mathematics of conduct; the 
feminine, with the particular, with the details of behaviour, with the concrete expres- 
sion of right thought and feeling. Neither can be dispensed with. 

III. Eevekencb for parents and teachers imparts gracb and beauty to thk 
bearino. The adoption of their example and instruction is compared, in Oriental 
illustration, to the wearing of a " pleasant cbaplet" on the head (and the necklace of 
pearls), as at feasts and entertainments — a wreath of roses or other flowers. The 
former was a general custom of antiquity, both for men and women. We have no 
exact parallel to it, and must recur to the thought of good or graceful dress in general. 
What significance, as we all know, is there in dress to make or mar the personal 
appearance! But the spiritual, not the material "habit" is the best dress, and will 
set off the most ungainly form. It is natural to wish to appear graceful, and one of 
the first manifestations of the artistic instinct in humanity is in this attention to dress. 
Let the instinct, then, have a moral or religious turn, and true beauty be found above 
all in the moral idea, in the attire of the soul, " the ornament of a meek and quiet 
spirit, which in the sight of God is of great price." The complimentary deferences to 
one another in polite society, the slight submissions in word and deed, the trifling self- 
abnegations which give a transient perfume and refinement to social hours, — all these 
do but mimic or represent something of more permanent value, the principle of 
obedience, the will governed by law, the character formed by the true, which is also 
the good and the beautiful. — J. 

Vers. 10 — 19. — Warnings against the evih of the time. An unsettled time, one of 
violence and insecurity of life, appears to be indicated, such as has only its occasional 
parallel in onr society. Yet the perverted impulses which lead to open crime are 
those which induce every species of dishonesty and more subtle attacks upon the life 
or property of others. We may thus draw from a particular description some general 
lessons. But it seems to give more point and force to the passage if we view it at 
attaching to notorious and frequent forms of crime. 

I. The tempter. He is always existing in every state of society, and not hard to 
find. There are human beings who have come to adopt evil as a trade, and, not 
content with practising it themselves, must have help and sympathy in their work, 
and turn recruiting-sergeants for the devil. The beautiful laws ot our being assert 
themselves amidst all the perversion of depraved choice. Crime, like sorrow, is lonely, 
and craves partnership. Remorse would soothe itself by fixing the like sting in the 
bosoms of others. And the criminal, constantly on his defence against society, 
learns to acquire an allurement of manner which is not the least of his dangerous 
qualities. The warning to youth against " enticing sinners " of both sexes can never 
be obsolete. Beware of persons of "peculiarly fascinating manners." What is it 
that fascinates? Generally it will be found to be some species of flattery, overt or 
concealed, attacking the weak point of the tempted ones. The warning may be so 
far generalized into "Beware of the flatterer." Flattery is at the bottom of most 

THE PHOVteEBS. toH.i. 1— 8 

II. PioTUREB OF OBiME. 1. Its aspect of horror. They are to be understood as 
drawn by the teacher's hand. He is putting the real meaning of the tempter's 
suggestions into vivid descriptions. The tempter himself will take care not to expose 
the bloody and hideous aspect of his trade. 

" Vice is a monster of so hideous mien, 
Thai to be hated needs but to be seen." 

On such a principle the teacher acts. The veil is torn aside from the life of crime, 
and its repulsive inhumanity disclosed. It is a " lurking for blood," after the image of 
the hunter with nets and nooses, watching for his prey. And this too for " the vainly 
innocent," i.e. whose innocence will avail him nothing with us (comp. Ps. xxxv. 19 ; 
Ixix. 5 ; Lam. iii. 52), or, in the other interpretation, for the innocent who has given 
us no cause for hatred or revenge. "Will swallow them up living like the pit 
[or, 'abyss']." An expression for sudden death as opposed to that by lingering 
sickness — the earth as it were yawning from its abysses to devour the fated lives 
(comp. Ps. cxxiv. 3 ; ch. xxx. 16). The expression whole, whether it denotes sound 
in body or in character (honest men), adds to the force of the description. 2. But 
there is an attractive aspect in crime. "Thou shalt cast thy lot into our midst," 
i.e. shalt share and share alike with us, as we say, or take an equal chance for the 
best of the booty, the lot in such cases being the custom of robbers and of soldiers 
(Ps. xxii. 19; Neb. x. 35). There is freedom, communism, good-fellowship, in the 
life of the banditti; no distinction of rank or class, poor or rich. In certain times 
the picture of such a life has proved of overwhelming fascination for young adven- 
turous spirits. In solemn reiterated warning the teacher raises his voice against the 
treading of their path and way. This simple biblical figure may remind us that every 
mode of active life, every profession or occupation, is like a path ; it leads somewhither. 
Unless we could cease from activity, we must all be advancing to some moral issue. 
What will it be? 3. A summary description of the criminal. He runs toward 
wickedness, hastes to shed blood. The eagerness, the swiftness, and perseverance of 
the criminal often arouse intellectual admiration, and shame the slothfulness of 
those who follow noble callings. But the devotion of ability and energy of a high 
order to such ends is, indeed, one of the most striking proofs we can have of the 
corruption of man's nature. This is crime revealed in its hatefulness, on the one 
hand, by its cruel and inhuman conduct and effects ; on the other, in its dark source, 
the utter perversion of the criminal's mind itself. 

III. The recoil of evil on the doers. Here again are powerful pictures. Like 
thoughtless birds, which rush with open eyes into the net, so do these miscreants, in 
preparing destruction for others, themselves run headlong upon their fate (comp. Job 
xviii. 8). While they are lurking for others' blood and laying snares for others' lives, 
their own are forfeited. This self-defeat of wickedness is a central thought in biblical 
wisdom (comp. oh. xv. 32 ; xvi. 27 ; Bccles. x. 8 ; Ps. vii. 16 ; Bom. ii. 5 ; Gial. Ti. 
8; 1 Tim. vi. 9, 10; Jas. v. 3 — 5). Thus wisdom and folly form an antithesis in 
their nature, their powers, and their result. 1. Wisdom is at one with religion and 
morality; folly casts off God and right. 2. Wisdom pursues good ends by good 
means; folly pursues evil by evil means. 3. The result of wisdom is life and 
blessedness, health and peace; that of folly is self-undermining, self-overthrow, ot 
" slow suicide." 

HI. The eoot of crime. It is like that of all sin, in desire, in misdirected desire, 
the greed of "unlawful gain," to give the fuller force of the expression. Note: 1. 
The prevalence of this passion. By far the largest proportion of men's worst actions 
are probably to be traced to it. Read the reports of the courts of law, listen to the 
gossip of the hour for illustrations. 2. Its intoxicating, illusory power. The victim 
of it deceives himself, as in other passions : it is thrift, it is due regard to what is of 
substantial value to one's interests, etc. And how difficult to distinguish that desire 
for more, which is the spring of action in commerce as in honourable ambition, the 
pursuit of knowledge, etc. ! The question must be carried to the conscience and to 
God. 3. Its unsocial character. More than any passion, it separates man from his 
kind, and assimilates him to the beast of prey. 4. Its svdcidal effect. If it does not 
destroy the man's bcdy, it certainly corrodes and eats away his soul. It dehumanize! 

«a. 1.1—33.] THE PBOVERBS. 27 

him. There is no object more shadowy in one aspect, more unreal, in another more 
monstrous, than the miser, as depicted by Balzac and other great writers. Covetousness 
is self-slaughter. — J. 

Vers. 20 — 33. — Warning cry of Wisdom. In dramatic style, Wisdom is presentiated , 
pe/sonified, endued with visible and audible attributes. As contempt for religion has 
been animadverted upon, so now contempt for Wisdom calls for rebuke. The motto 
(ver. 7) is still in the preacher's mind. 

I. The cry of Wisbom is public and cleab. In the street, " where merchants 
most do congregate," and in all places of general resort, the cry is heard. Hers is no 
esoteric doctrine ; it is popularly exoteric, it is for all. She has no concealments. She 
is not ashamed of her message. She seeks the weal of each and of all. Like her 
Divine embodiment, she is the Friend of the simple and the meek, yea, of the fools and 
the sinners (Matt. x. 27 ; Luke xiv. 21). It is a voice to be heard above the mingled 
sounds of these thronged centres. The state of the markets and of the weather, passing 
events, the gossip of the hour, news of success and of failure, all have a moral meaning, 
run up into moral calculations, may be reduced to expressions of moral law. 

II. Her tone. 1. -It is commanding and superior. She appeals to different classes 
of the frivolous, the free-thinking, the scoffers of the time. The times of Solomon, as 
pointed out by Delitzsob, were times of widespread worldliness and religious indiffer- 
ence. The lezim, or " scorners," must have been a numerous class. They scoffed at 
sacred things, laid claim to superior sense (oh. xiv. 6), were contentious and full of 
debate (ch. xxii. 10). They avoided the chakanim, or " wise men," and hence received 
the name of scoffers or mocl^ers. They were like our modern free-thinkers, and have 
left their clear traces on the biblical page. The " wise men " were a kind of practical 
philosophers, not a professional class, but belonging to different callings. Eeligion and 
worship have never been exempt from criticism, have in every age been exposed to 
that " ridicule which is the test of truth." In these conflicts the tone of truth is ever 
commanding', conscious of authority, calm ; that of the scoffer irritable and wanting in 
weight. Wisdom is commanding, because she holds the conscience. She bandies no 
arguments with the scoffer, who will only find in them fuel for his contentious spirit ; 
she aims directly at the conscience, accuses and judges the peiTcrted heart. " Turn 
at my denunciation " from your evil ways 1 " I will cause my Spirit to stream forth 
upon you," 2. Her tone is hortatory and promising. The Spirit of wisdom is com- 
pared to a mighty, forth-bubbling, never-exhausted fountain. So Christ cried in the 
last great day of the feast in Jerusalem, " If any man thirst, let him come tmto me, and 
drink." (1) There is a rich fulness in having wisdom, in contrast to which are the 
dry negations which are all the scoffer has to offer. (2) It is a refreshing and a 
strengthening supply. It is not pedantry, the wisdom of words, nor abstract science of 
logic and metaphysics, but vital truth, the knowledge of facts and laws of the inner and 
outer world, which we need for everyday consumption, for the life of the mind. (3) 
Its impartation is conditioned by the will of the recipient. There must be the turning 
and the seeking, that there may be the finding and the enjoying of it ; the opening of 
the mouth before it can be filled. 3. Her tone is threatening and prophetic of retribu- 
tion. The day of grace is now conceived as past, the hour gone that will not return. 
She has called, has stretched out the hand, in token of pleading for attention, has 
lavished both counsel and febuke ; but has been responded to by sullen refusal, averted 
looks, scornful depreciation, obstinate resistance. This relation of forbearance and good 
will has been strained to the last degree ; in the law of things it must be succeeded by a 
reaction. The places will be reversed. The scoffer will be the scoffed ; the mocker will 
afford material for mirth. And here the pictures accumulate their dread impression on 
the imagination ; the tempest and the tempest-whirlwind answer in nature to the calamity 
and the" horror, the anguish and constraint, of the faithless soul. All moral teaching 
carries in it a twofold prophetic element ; a prophecy of penal retribution and a pro- 
phecy of blessed recompense. Retribution is the logical consequence of certain acts ; 
and it involves a correspondence. The relation which has been wrongly denied comes 
in the end to be afiirmed; and that which w:is affirmed, to be in the end denied. The 
manner of the sin foretells the mapner of the penalty. Those who turned from pleading 
Wisdom plead in the end with her in vwn; seeking her now with zeal ("early"), their 

28 THE PROVERBS. ton. 1. 1— 3t 

search is vain. The attitude which the soul refused to assume in its pride, it is forced 
into by its distress. The wheel comes full circle ; the sinner is smitten in the very 
place of his sin; and outraged conscience is avenged. 4. Above all, the tone of 
Wisdom is reasonable. These are no arbitrary, cruel, capricious dealings with the 
sinner. They rest upon the law of things (vers. 29 — 31). " Because they hated reason- 
able doctrine, and coveted not the fear of Jehovah, fared not on the way of my counsel, 
and despised all my rebuke; ther^ore they shall eat of the fruit of their way, and be 
satiated with their counsels!" It is the law of causality applied to moral things. 
" The curse causeless shall not come ! " The most obvious example of the law of cause 
and effect in nature — the connection of seed and crop, sowing and reaping — ^best illus- 
trates the process in the human spirit. We cannot deceive Grod, cannot evade law; 
whatsoever we sow, we must reap, and that according to qtiantity, to kind or quality. 
Again, the figure of a surfeit is forcible as applied to this experience of the consequences 
of guilt. We find it also in Isa. iii. 10; Ps. Ixxxviii. 4; cxxiii. 4. It brings out the 
principle that all spurious pleasures, i.e. those which are rooted only in egotism, doy, 
and so turn the man against himself. Self-loathiug, self-contempt, is the deep revela- 
tion of an inner judgment. If any one asks with the anger of the atheistic poet, " Who 
made self-contempt?" let him turn to this passage for an answer. 5. Wisdom ii 
declarative of moral laws. The turning away, the resistance and recalcitrancy of the 
simple, murders them (Jer. viii. 5; Hos. xi. 5), aud the security (idle, easy, fleshly 
car^essness, Jer. zxii. 21) destroys them. 

" More the treacherous calm I dread 
Than tempests sailing overhead." 

(See South's powerful sermon, with his usual splendid illustrations, on " Prosperity 
ever dangerous to Virtue," vol. ii. ser. vi.) 6. She is prophetic of good to the obedient. 
In bright contrast to the spurious peace of the dulled conscience is the true peace of 
the wise and God-fearing, " He who listens to me shall dwell securely, and have rest 
without terror of calamity." It is like that of ordered nature — " central peace abiding 
at the heart of endless agitation." In this profound union with God, the parables of 
life are but superficial and transient as the waves of ocean, while the depths are calm 
as eternity. The method of personified Wisdom is that of Christ, with which it may 
be compared at every point. (1) Sin is clearly exposed, in its effects and its cause. (2) 
Judgment is clearly announced. (3) Promises of eternal good are no less emphatically 
given. (4) Refuge from evil, and the way of salvation both temporal and eternal, are 
pointed out. — J. 

Vers. 1 — 6- — The ideal teacher. Solomon had all possible advantages to qualify him 
for the work of a teacher of men. He had (1) special endowments from the hand of 
his Creator (1 Kings iii.); (2) a heritage of rich experience from the life of his father, 
beside parental counsels from his lips; (3) the best instruction which the kingdom 
could afford, aud surely there must have been much wisdom to learn from so wise and 
faithful a teacher as the Prophet Nathan (2 Sam. xii.). Who, then, should be so weU 
able as he was to give us the ideal of a true teacher ? We are reminded by these 
verses that he is the man who — 


" simple " man and the " young man " (ver. 4) ; he has r^ard to the fact that there 
are those about him who need to he led into the paths of "justice and judgment and 
equity " (ver. 3). His eye rests on these ; his mind perceives how urgently they need 
the " instruction " aud " understanding " which will save them from the perils to 
which they are exposed ; his heart goes out to them ; his sympathies embrace them ; 
he desires " to give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and dis- 
cretion." He is, therefore, the man who — 

II. Conveys knowledge. 1. He seeks to impart a knowledge of faett ; to give 
" instruction " (ver. 2) ; to make known to the simple-minded and inexperienced the 
truth that " all is not gold that glitters," that men are often very differenj; from that 
which they seem to be, that under a fair exterior there may lurk uttermost corruption, 
that the sweetest morsels may he the introduction to bitterest consequences, etc. 2. 
He seeks also to convey a knowledge oiprindpUs; to give " understanding; " to mak* 

cm. 1. 1—33.] THE PROVEBBS. 

plam to the mind distinctions between that which is true and that which is false, that 
which is honourable and that which is shameful, that which elevates and that which 
lowers, that which is permissible and that which is desirable. He is, further, the man 
who — 

III. Imparts wisdom. He will not be content until he has instilled into the mind 
and introduced to the heart discretion (ver. 4) and wisdom itself (ver. 2). Wisdom is 
the pursuit of the highest end by the surest means. No teacher of men who recognizes 
his true position will ever be contented until he has led his disciples to walk in the 
path of wisdom — to bo seeking after the noblest ends for which God gave us our being, 
and to be seeking them by those ways which are sure to lead thereto. 1. Our highest 
wisdom is to seek " the kingdom of God, and his righteousness" (Matt. vi. 33). 2rOur 
one " Way " is the Son of God himself (John xiv. 6). The true teacher thus becomes 
the man who — 

IV. Conducts to moral bxobllbnob. For he who is the child of wisdom will 
also receive the instruction of "justice and judgment and equity." He will be a man 
who will have continual regard to the claims of his fellow-men ; who will shrink from 
encroaching on their rights; who will endeavour to give to them the consideration, the 
care, the kindness, which they may rightly look for as children of the same Father, as 
disciples of the same Saviour, as citizens of the same kingdom, as travellers to the same 
home. The ideal teacher will also be a man who^ 

V. Fobtebs intellbotual growth. (Vers. 5, 6.) We ourselves are not truly and 
satisfactorily progressing except our mental capacities are being developed, and thus 
truth and wisdom are being seen with clearer eye and held with tighter grasp. The 
wise man is therefore bent on training, exercising, bracing the intellectual faculties of 
his disciple, so that he " will increase learning," will " attain to wise counsels," will 
think out and see through the proverbs and problems, the puzzles and perplexities, 
which come up for investigation. We know something in order that we may know 
much. We are wise that we may become wiser. We climb the first slope of the hill of 
heavenly truth that we may ascend the one which is beyond ; we master the " deep 
things of God" that we may look into those which are deeper and darker still. Ours 
is ever to be the spirit of holy inquiry ; not of querulous impatience, but of patient, 
untiring effort to understand all those truths which are within our reach, waiting for 
the fuller revelation of the days which are to come. — 0. 

Ver. 7. — The foundation-truth. These words invite our attention to— 

I. That which constitutes the fear of God. " The fear of the Lord" was the 
chief note of Hebrew piety. It expressed itself in that form (see Gen. xlii. 18; 
Exod. xviii. 21 ; Lev. xix. 14 ; Neh. v. 15 ; Ps. Ixvi. 16 ; Eccles. xii. 13, etc.). Wh»t 
did it signify ? Evidently something more and other than mere dread. The piety of 
the Jews was an immeasurably higher thing than the abject terror with which the 
heathen shrank from the capricious and malignant power of the deities they worshipped. 
It included : 1. Reverence for his Divine nature. 2. Sense of the Divine presence : 
" The Lord tefore whom I stand." 3. Regard for the Divine will, shown in the two 
ways of (1) obedience to his commands, and (2) submission to his appointments. 

II. The fact that the feab of God constitutes the foundation on which wb 
BUILD. " The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge." The sense of God, the 
belief that he is, that he reigns, that he is the Source and Fountain of all life and bless- 
ing — this is the foundation on which all wisdom, all success, all excellency, rests. How 
truly fundamental is this fear of God is seen when we consider : 1. That it is implanted, 
as one of the earliest thoughts, in the human mind. The very little child can enter- 
tain it; it enters his opening mind with the first conceptions which are cherished 
there. As soon as we begin to think we begin to fear God. That sentiment, which 
never once affected the life of the most intelligent of the brute creation in any land or 
age, strikes deep root and bears fairest fruit in the spiritual nature of the " little child." 
" The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge," even in time. 2. That the 
aci;eptance of God is the basis on which all truth must rest. There are mysteries in 
till ism which may bafile and sometimes perplex us. But in atheism we are utterly at 
bea. Not to stait from the acceptance of an originating, designing, fashioning, con- 
tri'lliii", out-working Intelligence is to be " all abroad " in the re^on of hum»n investi- 

80 THE PROVERBS. [oh. 1. 1—33. 

gatioD and Inquiry. Accepting tliat, the universe is indeed mysterious, but it is not 
an all-shrouding mist in which we ourselves and everything around us are hopelessly 
lost. The fear of the Lord, the reverent acceptance of the truth that God is, and that 
he reigns, lies at the foundation, is the beginning, of knowledge — of the truth which 
makes the world comprehensible to the understanding, and life valuable to the soul. 
3. That the fear of God is the ground of all heavenly wisdom. We cannot know our 
own Divine Father, our own spiritual nature with all its high and ennobling capacities, 
the excellency of moral and spiritual worth, the supreme blessedness of self-surrender, if 
we do not -know God, if we have not the mind of Christ revealed to us and accepted by 
us. The fear of the Lord is the beginning, and is the very substance of that know- 
ledge which constitutes the " life eternal " (John xvii. 3). 

III. The follt op spibitual indifference. " Fools despise wisdom and instruc- 
tion." The foolish man does not care even to begin to know ; he despises the very 
elements of instruction ; he will not take the first step in the path of wisdom. He 
wanders off at his own will, and he goes in the direction of the thick darkness. 
He is turning from him who is the Light of life, and is travelling to that dreary region 
where it is always night, away from God, from wisdom, from holiness, from love. — 0. 

Vers. 8, 9. — The duty and the beauty of filial piety. The wise teacher here com- 
mends to us the excellency of the filial spirit. And it is worthy of notice that he 
exhorts the young to be obedient to their mother as well as mindful of the counsels of 
their father. We think of — 

I. The duty of filial piett, based upon and arising from : 1. The relation itself. 
It is enough that our parents are our parents, and that we are their offspring. On that 
simple ground it behoves us to listen and to obey. 2. The fact that they have 
expended on us' far more than any other beings. Who shall measure the thought, the 
anxiety, the solicitude, the prayers, the labours, the sacrifices, which they have cheer- 
fully devoted to us ? 3. The fact that it is the will of God that we should render such 
filial honour (Exod. xx. 12 ; Lev. xix. 3 ; Deut. v. 16 ; Eph. vi. 2). 

n. The beadtt op filial piety. " They shall be an ornament of grace unto thy 
head, and chains about thy neck " (ver. 9). Youth, especially young manhood, is apt 
to think that there is something unbecoming, ungraceful if not disgraceful, in rendering 
filial obedience ; it is apt to imagine that there is something admirable in breaking away, 
in even early years, from parental guidance, and establishing an independence of judg- 
ment and action. In truth, there is nothing more oflfensive, nothing morally uglier, 
than such premature assertiveness. On the other hand, nothing is more comely, 
nothing more attractive, nothing more intrinsically beautiful, than filial devotedness. 
It has all the best elements of spiritual excellency: (1) humility, a lowly view of our- 
selves ; (2) responsiveness to strong and tender love ; (3) the recognition of real worth, 
of the claims of age and wisdom ; (4) cheerful acceptance of the ordination of nature, 
and acquiescence in the will of God. Those who illustrate the duty of filial piety live 
in the admiration of the wise, and walk in the sunshine of the smile of the Supreme. 0. 

Vers. 10 — 19.— The peril and the wisdom of youth: a sermon to the young. How 
many human lives are nothing better than failures ! How many souls are there that 
" make shipwreck of faith and a good conscience " ! Over how many of the children of 
men do the wise and the holy mourn, as those who might have done well and wrought 
good, but who have turned aside to folly, guilt, and ruin ! As a rule, these have gone 
astray m their younger days. Temptation assailed them when they were comparatively 
unarmed, attacked them when least prepared to resist, and they were overcome. Our 
text suggests — 

L The peculiab pebil of youth. Youth is endangered by three things 1 The 
invitations of the unholy. " Sinners entice it." Companionship is dear to°the young 
and IS very powerful over it. Its heart is open, trustful, responsive. It rejoices with a 
keen delight m the confidences of friendship. And when one whose advances have 
been received, and who has been welcomed as a congenial companion, says, "Come "it 
is hard for friendsliip to refuse; this more especially when the solicitation comes n-om 
him who has a strong will or an amiable and fascinating disposition. The heart of 
youth IS very powerfully drawn, sometimes to good, but too often to evil, by the charm 

OH. 1. 1—33.] THE PROVERBS. 31 

of early friendship. 2. Tlie subtlety of sin (ver. 17). Sin makes a very fair promise, 
but its word is false, its coin is counterfeit. (1) It professes disinterestedness (ver. 14), 
but it is utterly selfish at heart. (2) It affects to be able to hide all traces and elude all 
evil consequences of its acts (ver. 12), but it cannot : the blood which it sheds virill cry 
to Heaven fbr retribution. (3) It offers gain and satisfaction (vers. 13, 19), but it con- 
stantly fails to secure its immediate object, and it never brings real and lasting joy to 
the soul. The fowler does not spread the net in sight of the bird, or he would fail. 
Sin keeps its snares well out of view ; it proceeds with cruel cunning ; it shows the 
present pleasure, and hides the coming shame, and so it secures its victims. 3. The 
appeal of powerful instincts. The love of daring exploits has led many a young man 
to consent when sinners have said, "Come, let us attack the victim, that we may seize 
the prey " (vers. 11, 12). Guilty violence shapes itself as manly daring. And the 
instinct of acquisition, the desire to obtain and to possess (vers. 13, 19), often leads 
astray. Greediness of gain begins in a desire to be rich, an ambition to have 

IL The earnest solicitude of the wise. There is an air of earnestness, a tone of 
deep solemnity, about these words of the wise man. " My son, if sinners entice thee," 
etc. (ver. 10); "My son, walk not thou in the way," etc. (ver. 15). Here is the 
urgency of a tender solicitude ; here are the pleadings of profound affection. And 
why ? Because the wise man (the father, minister, teacher) knows ; 1. That sin 
means ruin to others (ver. 16). The path of evil is marked with blood: it is the track 
which is trodden by death itself; it is red with the blood of souls. 2. That sin is the 
supreme mistake. It is really laying wait for itself, to compass its own miserable end 
(ver. 18) ; it is robbing itself of all the excellency of life in order to secure its gains 
(ver. 19). Men too often " lose their life for the sake of the means of living." They 
expend on the means all those resources of their manhood which should be devoted to 
lile itself. Sin is suicidal ; the young who are yielding themselves to a life of ungod- 
liness and guilt may well be the object of the most fervent anxiety, of the most 
tender, tearful pity of the wise. 

IIL The way of victoet. And there is no other way than that of -decisive refusal 
at once. As soon as the alluring voice says, " Come," let the resolute reply be heard, 
" I will not." Let the lips of holy resentment open at once to say, " Depart from me, 
ye evil-doers ; I will keep the commandments of my God " (Ps. cxix. 115). To hesitate 
is to risk everything. Speak a strong, unwavering refusal on the spot. — 0. 

Vers. 20—23. — The voice of Wisdom. Wisdom is here personified ; it is the language 
of poetic inspiration. Later on, " in the dispensation of the fulness of times," Wisdom 
was manifested in human form, and spake in the hearing of men. But its voice has 
never been silent altogether, from the beginning until now. We are reminded of it— 

I. That there aee mant channels through which Wisdom utters its voice. 
The plural form of the word ("wisdoms") suggests the manifoldness of the utterance. God 
teaches us his truth, makes known his mind to us, through (1) the objects and laws of 
the physical world around us; (2) the constitution of our own frame ; (3) the teachings 
of our own spiritual nature, the judgments of our conscience and the conclusions of our 
reason ; (4) his providential orderings ; (5) the admonitions of his Spmt; (6) the words 
of Jesus Christ : he is the " Wisdom of God " (1 Cor. i. 24). 

II That the voice or Wisdom is audible to all who will listen. Wisdom 
crieth without: she utters her voice in the streets: she crieth in the chief place of 
concourse," etd. (Vers. 20, 21). Wisdom, Divine truth, does not merely whisper its 
doctrine in secret places where there are few to hear; she does not reserve her teaching 
to the closed class-room to which only some favoured ones find admittance ; she speaks 
" in the open," where the "ways meet," in " the chief places of concourse. Upon 
whom doth not God's light arise?" (Job xxv. 3). The fnendly voices speak m the 
ear of childhood ; they address the mind of youth ; they have a message for manhood; 
they find their way to the sanctuary of age. Wisdom waits upon the pure and holy, 
walks bv the side of spiritual indifference to win its ear, and confronts sin in its most 
Tecret haunts Nothing— or nothing but the most hardened iniquity which caUs evil 
good and good evil-d shut its doors so fast that the monitory voice camiot enter tb« 
chamber* «f the soul. 

KS THE PROVERBS. [oh. 1. 1—33. 

in. That Wisdom speaks with a holt and loving energy. Wisdom " crieth/' 
"utters her voice in the streets." There is an energy and an urgency in her tones and 
m her language (vers. 22, 23). 'i'he utterance of Wisdom is none other than the voice of 
God. It is our Father who pleads with us ; it is our Saviour who calls to us ; it is our 
Divine Friend who implores us. It is no hard voice as of a court doomster that 
assaults us; it is the pleading, plaiutive, pathetic voice of One who loves us with 
fatherly affection, and yearns over us with more than motherly solicitude, that arrests 
us in our course and touches the tender and sacred feelings of our heart. 

IV. That Wisdom spares not to tell tjs exactly what we abb. She doei 
not mince her words ; she does not cut away the knots of the cord with which we are 
to be stirred to newness of life. She calls men simpletons, scorners, fouls, and upbraids 
them for their stupidity and their folly (ver. 22). When we listen to the voices which 
are from above we must expect plain speaking. We miust not start back with offence 
if we find ourselves condemned in strong terms. " Thou art the man I " follows the 
narrative wViich transfixes the cruel ami heartless robber uf his ueighbour's all. "Ye 
fools and blind I " said the Wisdom of God, as he rebuked the hypocrisy of his day. We 
are not to be repelled from, but attracted to, the man who, speaking fur the only wise 
God, puts sacred truth into the strongest and even the sternest language. 

V. That Wisdom seeks to impart its own spirit to its disciples. " Behold, 
I will pour out my Spirit unto you " (ver. 23). Its aim is spiritual and beneficent. 
God wounds only that he may heal. He sends "poverty of spirit" that he may 
thereby make rich for evermore. He humbles that he may exalt. His one desire is to 
make us like himself; to put his own Spirit within us, that we may be " the children 
of our Father who is in heaven." — 0. 

Vers. 24 — 33. — I%e Divine ultimatum. There is something which is fearful and 
appalling in these verses. We are ready to tremble as we read them. We are ready 
to exclaim, " How far may human perversity, and Divine retribution gol" With hushed 
voice, with subdued spirit, as those bifure whose eyes the lightnings of heaven are 
flishing, we consider the significance of tiie words. But first we see — 

I. That God makes many appeals to the human soul. He calls, and we refuse; 
he stretches out his hands, and no man regards (ver. 24). He multiplies his counsel 
and his reproof (vers. 25 and 30). Thus his statement is sustained by his dealings 
with us ; he gives us the repeated and manifold admonitions of our own conscience, of 
the home, of the sanctuary, of friendship, of his Word, of his Spirit, etc. 

II. That human perversity goes as far as the Divine patience. Man 
" refuses," " regards not " (turns away his eyes, closes his ears), " gets at nought," 
•* will not have," " hates,'' does not choose (deliberately rejects), all the counsel of God. 
Perhaps the course of human perversity may be thus traced : first temporizing, with 
the idea of submitting ; then postponing, without any such intention ; then disregard- 
ing, hearing without heeding ; then positively disliking and getting away from; then 
actually hating, cherishing a feeling of rebellious aversion, ending in mockery snd 
sconi. So far may human perversity go. God's wonderful patience in seeking to win 
is extended far, but not further than human opposition and resistance. To every 
"Come" from Heaven there is an answer, " I will not," in the human spirit, 

III. That God finally abandons sin to its doom. We must, of course, under- 
stand the language of vers. 26, 27 as highly figurative. No proverb is to be pressed to 
its fullest possible meaning. The author always assumes that it will be applied with 
intelligence and discrimination. This is the language of hyperbole. No one could for 
a moment believe that the eternal Father of our spirits would, literally and actually, 
laugh and mock at our calamity and alarm. The significance of the passage is that, 
after a certain point of perverse refusal has been past, God no longer pleads and strives 
with his wayward children. He interposes no further between a man and the conse- 
quences of his folly. He "leaves him alone" (Hos. iv. 17). He "gives him up" 
(Acts vii. 42; Eom. i. 26). He permits sin to do its own sad work in the soul, and to 
produce its own natural results in the life ; he removes his restraining hand, and sufi'ers 
them " to eat of the fruit- of their own way, and be filled with their own devices " 
(ver. 31). This is the end of impenitence. We see it only too often illustrated before 
OAjr eye*. Men act as if they might defy their Maker, as if they might draw indefinitely 

m.n. 1— 22.] THE PROVERBS. 88 

on the patience of their Divine Saviour, as if they might reckon on the unlimited 
striving of the Holy Spirit. They are wrong; they make a fatal mistake; they 
commit the one unpardonable sin! They try to go beyond the Divine ultimatum. 
Grod's marvellous patience reaches far, but it has its bounds. When these are passed 
his voice is still, his hand is taken down, fiis interposing influence is withdrawn. Sin 
must bear its penalty. But this awful passage closes with a word of hope. Let us turn 
to a brighter aspect, and see — 

IV. That so long as man honestly desires God's service, he mat find 
PEACE and rest. (Ver. 33.) If at any time it is in our heart to obey the voice of the 
All-wise, to lend an attentive ear to the Divine counsel, we may reckon on his grace 
and favour. Happy the heart that heeds the voice of Wisdom I Others may be rocked 
and tossed on the heaving billows of care sind anxiety, of alarm and dread ; but he, 
" dwelling in the secret place of the Most High," hiding in the Rook of his salvation, 
«hall " dwell safely, and be quiet from fear of evil." God will hide him in his pavilion ; 
he will " rest in the Lord." — 0. 

Ver. 32. — " The prosperity of fools." " The prosperity of fools shall destroy them." 
Few men fear prosperity ; but if they had enough wisdom to know their own weakness, 
they would see that there was nothing which they had so much reason to dread. We 
approach the truth of the text by seeing — 

I. That it is in cub human nature to aspire to prosperity and to strive 
AFTER IT. The Author of our nature has made us hunger for success as the food of the 

II. That the prosperity of the wise is an eminently desirable thinq. 
For it (1) will do thein no harm, and (2) will multiply their influence for good. 

III. That the prosperity op the foolish is a calamitous thino. 1. It results 
in ruin to other people — often their temporal, still more often their spiritual, ruin. 2. 
It ends in their own destruction. It leads down to death ; for : (1) It fosters pride, and 
" pride comes before a fall." (2) It ministers to passion, and passion conducts to the 
grave in every sense. (3) It induces worldliness, and the man who loses himself in the 
cares, engagements, and excitements of the world is " dead while he lives." 

The conclusion of the matter is this : 1. Let those to whom God has denied 
prosperity cheerfully accejit their lowliness. In their humble position they are com- 
paratively safe. They live where many arrows of destruction do not fly. 2. Let 
those who have attained prosperity ever recognize that the post of honour and of power 
is the place of danger, and that they need peculiar grace from God that they may not 
fall 3. Let those who are being injured by their prosperity beware lest they go down 
fast to utter and irretrievable ruin.r--C. 



Vers. 1 — 22. — 8. ITiird admonitory dis- 
course, pointing out the benefits whioh arise 
from a sincere, earnest, and persevering search 
after Wisdom. This discourse divides itself 
into three parts. (1) Vers. 1 — 9: a state- 
ment of the conditions whioh, if fulfilled, 
result in the highest knowledge of Jehovah 
—the fear of Jehovah and the knowledge of 
God, who is the Source of wisdom and the 
Protection and Ensurerof safety to the right- 
wus. (2) Vers. 10—19: the negatively bene- 
jcial results of Wisdom, in delivery from the 
paths of evil, from destructive lusts and 
passions, from the temptations of wicked 

men and wicked women. (3) Vers. 20 — 22 ; 

the epilogue, or conclusion, combining en- 
couragement on the one hand, and warning 
on the other. 

Ver. 1. — The teacher here reverts to the 
original form of his address, as appears from 
the employment of the term, my son. II 
seems clear that it is no longer Wisdom 
personified who ia the speaker, from the fact 
that the words, " wisdom and understanding" 
in ver. 2 are used without the possessive 
pronoun " my," whioh would have been im- 
doubtedly inserted if this address had been 
» continuation of the discourse in the pre- 
ceding chapter. Some of the ideas of that 
address, however, are restated, as the crying 
and lilting up the voice after Wisdom, and th» 




[oh. u. 1—22. 

conclusion, wherein the respective destinies 
of the pious and wicked are portrayed. The 
particle "if" (dn) is conditional, and serves 
to introduce the aeries of clauses (vers. 1 — 4) 
which lay down the conditions upon which 
the promises depend, and which form the 
protasis to the double apodosis in vers. 5 
and 9. De Wette, Mever, and Delitzsoh 
regard it as voluntative, as expre.«sing a wish 
on the part bf the teacher, and translate, 
"Oh that thou wouldst!" and Dtt, "if," is 
used in this way in Ps. oxxxix. 19; but the 
LXX. {^dy) and Vulgate (si) make it con- 
ditional. It is repeated in an emphatic 
form in ver. 3. Receive. Tlie verbs "re- 
ceive " and " hide " show that the endeavour 
after Wisdom is to be candid and sincere. 
" To receive " (np^) seems to be here used, 
like the LXX. Sex^a-Cai, in the sense of " to 
receive graciously," " to admit the words of 
Wisdom." It is noticeable that there is a 
gradation in emphasis in the various terms 
here used by the teacher. Just as '' command- 
ments " is stronger than '' words," so "hide" 
is stronger tLan "receive." The emphasizing 
is carried on in the following verses in the 
same way, and at length culminates in ver. 
4, whicli sums up the ardent spirit in wMch 
the search after Wisdom is to be prosecuted 
in presenting it to us in its strongest form. 
Hide. The original (jss, tsaphan) is here 
nsed in a different sense to that in which 
it occurs in ch. i. 11 and 18. It here refers, 
as in oh. vii. 1 ; x. 14 ; and xiii. 22, to the 
storing or laying up, as of treasure, in some 
secret repository, and means "to lay up." 
The Divine commands of tlie teacher are to 
be hidden in safe custoiiy in the memory, 
in the understand ng, in the conscience, and 
in the heart (cf. ch. iv. 21 ; vii. 1). The 
psalmist expresses the same idea in Ps. 
cxix. 11, "Thy words Ijave I hid in my 
heart, that I might not sin against thee." 

Ver. 2. — This verse is dependent on the 
preceding. So that thou incline. The literal 
translation is " to incline ; " but the inclina- 
tion of the ear and the application of tl:e heart 
follow as a consequence upon the preceding 
ideas (cf. the Vulgate, ut audiat sapientiam 
amis tva). The root-idea of the original 
(aK-'j^, hasiiav) is " to sharpen," viz. the ear 

as expressed, and so to give diligent atten- 
tion to the precepts of Wisdom. In ch. i. 
24 it is rendered " to regard. ' To apply 
thine heart is to turn the lieart with tlie 
whole scope of its powers, in the spirit of 
humility and eagerness, to understanding. 
As the ear represents the outward veliicle 
of communication, so the heart (a^, lev) re- 
presents the inward, the intellectual faculty, 
the mind, or it may mean the affections as 
iuggested by the LXX. KopSia and Vulgate 

cor. Understanding (nj^^l^i f'omiah') is ben 
interchanged with "wisdom," which must 
determine its meaning to some extent. The 
LXX. intei-preters take it as aiveais, "the 
faculty of comprehension." Like nj'a {vitah) 
in ch. i. 2, the word describes the faculty of 
distinguishing or separating ; but it does not 
appear to be here used as representing this 
"as a faculty of the soul, but as a Divine 
power which communicates itself as the gift 
of God " (Delitzsch). A secoml and perhaps 
simpler sense may be given to the sentence. 
It may mean the turning or applying of the 
heart in an affectionate and loving way, i.e. 
with full purpose, to the discrimination of 
what is rig] it and what wrong. The ideai 
of wisdom and understanding seem to some 
extent to be brought forward as personifica- 
tions. They are things outside of ourselves, 
to which we have to give attention. Eiligion 
appeals not only to the affections, but also 
to the intellect, as this satisfies all ijie' yearn- 
ings of our nature. 

Ver. 3. — ^Yea, if thou oriest after know- 
ledge. The endeavour after Wisdom is not 
only to be sincere, it is also to be earnest, 
as appears from the " yea, if," and the verbs 
"crying" and "lifting up the voice," both 
of which frequently occur in Scripture as 
indicating earnestness. This earnestness is 
the counterpart of that which Wisdom herself 
displays (see oh. i. 20, 21). Knowledge; i.e. 
insight. In the original there is practically 
little difference between "knowledge" and 
"understanding" (nya and nmn). They 
carry on the idea expressed in " understand- 
ing" in the preceding verse, and thus throw 
the emphasis on the verbs. The LXX. and 
VulgaiB, however, taie "knowledge" as 
equivalent to <ro<pia, sapieutia, " wisdom." 
The reading of the Targum, " If thou callest 
understanding thy mother," arises from read- 
ing DN for Qij, but is not to be preferred to 
the Masoretio text, as it destroys the 

Ver. 4. — If thou seekest, etc. The climax 
in the series of conditions is reached in this 
verse; and the imagery employed in both 
clauses indicates that the search after Wis- 
dom is to be persevering, unrelaxing, and 
diligent, like the unremitting toil and labour 
with which men carry on mining operations. 
" To seek " (ppj, bakash) in the original is 
properly "to seek diligently" (piel), and is 
kindred to "to search " (^p^, Ihaphas), which 
again is equivalent to "to dig" (nsn, Itha 
phar), the Vulgate effodere, "to dig out." 
Compare the expression in Job iii. 21, " And 
dig for it more than for hid treasures." We 
trace in these verbs the idea in the mind of 
the teacher in^iicsited above, which find* 
expression also in the object of the search, 
the silver, in its crude state, and the hidden 

OH. II. 1 — 22.J 



treasures (D':bnp, mat'monim), i.e. the trea- 
sures of gold, silver, and precious metal 
concealed in the earth. The comparison 
here made between the search for Wisdom 
and the search for the hidden treasures of 
the earth was not unfamiliar to the Hebrew 
mind, as it is fcnml worked out with great 
beauty of detail iu the twenty -eighth chapter 
of Job. Again, the comparison of Wisdom 
with things most precious in the estimation 
of man is natural and common, and occurs 
in Pa. cxix. 72; Job xxviii. 15—19. The 
same ideas and comparisons here used are 
presented to us iu the New Testament 
teaching, in our Lord's parable of the man 
who finds the hid treasure in the field, and, 
iu the phraseology of St. Paul, who spealcs 
of " all the treasures of wisdom and know- 
ledge,'' and of "the unsearchable riches of 
Christ." " Divine knowledge is an inex- 
haustible mine of precious ore" (Wardlaw). 
The language of the Proverbs would receive 
additional force from the ciicumstanoes of 
the reign of Solomon, the most splendid and 
prosperous era in the annals of the Jewish 
national history, iu the means taken to 
secure the treasures of other and distant 
countries; the wealth and the riches of that 
reign (see 2 Chron. ix. 20 — 22) would help 
to bring out the idea of the superlative value 
of Wisdom. In no era of the Jewish national 
history was there such abundance of riches, 
such splendid prosperity, as in the reign of 
Solomon, whose ships of Tarshish brought 
"gold and silver" (see 2 Chron. ix. 20—22), 
and this state of things would give point to 
the comparisons which the teacher uses in 
our text. 

Ver. 5. — Then shalt thou understand the 
fear of the lord. Thm ()N), introducing 
the first apodosis, and answering to the 
conditional "if" of vers. 1, 3, 4. The 
earnest endeavour after Wisdom meets with 
its reward, and those that seek shall find 
(cf. Matt. vii. 7); and thus an indufement 
is held forth to listen to the admonition of 
the teacher. Understand implies the power 
of discernment, but Zookler. gives it the 
further meaning of taking to one's self as 
a spiritual possi ssion, just as "find," mean- 
ing primarily '■ to arrive at," conveys the 
idea of getting possession of (Mercerus). The 
fear of the Lord (nin; ns.-i.', yir'ath y'hovah) ; 
" the fear of Jehovah," as in ch. i. 7. As 
it is the beginning, so it is the highest 
form of knowledge and the greatest good. 
Elsewhere it is represented as a fountain 
of life (ch. XV. 27)., All true wisdom is 
summed up in " the fear of the Lord." It 
here means the reverence due to him, and 
80 comprises the whole range of the religious 
affections and feelings, which respond to 
various attributes of the Divine character as 
they are revealed, and which find their ex- 

pression iu holy worship. The knowledge 
of God (D'n^^. nr-1, daath EloUm) ; lite- 
rally, the hnowtedge of Elohim. Not merely 
cognition, but knowledge in its wider bense. 
The two ideas of "the fear of the Lord" 
and "the knowledge of God" act recipro> 
cally on each other. Just as without rever- 
ence of God there can be no knowlfdge of him 
in its true sense, so the knowledge of God 
will increase and deepen the feeling of rever- 
ence. But it is noticeable that the teacher 
here, as in ch. ix. 10, where, how ever, it is 
" the knowledge of the holy " (a'Einp nri, 

daafh k'dosMm), gives the chief place to 
reverence, and thus indicates that it is 
the basis of knowledge, which is its fruit 
and result. The relation here suggested 
is analogous to that which subsists be- 
tween faith and knowledge, and recalls 
the celebrated dictum of Auselm : "Neque 
euim quaere intelligere ut credam; Bed 
credo, ut iutelligam." Elohim, here in- 
terchanged with Jehovah, is not of fre- 
quent occurrence iu the Proverbs, as it is 
only found therein five times, while the 
predominating word which is used to de- 
signate the Deity is Jehovah. But it is diffi- 
cult to draw any distinction between them 
here. Jehovah may refer more especially 
to the Personality of the Divine nature, 
while Elohim may refer to Christ's glory 
(Plumptre), Bishop Wordsworth thinks 
that a distinction is made between the 
knowledge of Elohim and the knowledge of 
man which is of little worth. 

Ver. 6. — For the Lord giveth wisdom. 
The Lord Jehovah is the only and true 
Source of wisdom. The truth stated here 
is also met with in Dan. ii. 21, "He giveth 
wisdom unto the wisp, and knowledge to them 
that know understanding." He "giveth," 
or more properly, " wiU give " (jw, yitten, 

future of jnj, nathan), wisdom ; but the 

connection requires us to understand that 
the assurance applies only to those who 
seek after it earnestly and truly (cf. Jas. 
i. 5 — 7). The two coefficients to our ob- 
taining wisdom are our efiforts and God's 
assistance. Solomon may be adduced as • 
striking exemplification of this; he asked 
for " an understanding heart," and God 
graciously granted his request (see 1 Kings 
iii. 9, 12). Out of his mouth (vsn, mippiv); 
ex ore ejus ; God is here spoken of anthropo- 
logically. He is the true Teacher. The 
meaning is that God communicates wisdom 
through the medium of his Word (Delitzscli, 
Pi.). The law proceeds from his mouth 
(Job xxii. 22). In the Book of Wisdom (vii. 
25), "Wisdom is the breath of the power 
of God." His word is conveyed to us through 
men divinely inspired, and hence St. Peter 
(2 Pet. i. 21) says that " holy men of old 



[oh. n. 1—22. 

gpake as they were moved by the Holy 

Ver. 7. — Wisdom which is the foundation 
of security and safety, and heuoe is sound 
wisdom, is that which God treasures up for 
the righteous. The teacher passes to an- 
other phase of the Divine character. God 
is not only the Source of wisdom ; he is also 
the Ensurer of safety, the Source of salvation 
to tliose who act uprightly. It will be 
noted that the use of the word is confined 
to t)ie Proverbs and Job, with the exception 
of the two passages in Isa-ah and Mioah. 
Buckler. Besides storing up the treasures 
of sound wisdom, which the righteous may 
use and bo obtain security in their upright- 
ness, God is himself a BucMer, or Sliield 
QiD^ mageri), to those who walk in innocence. 
This aspect of God's du-ectly protLCting power 
is met with in other parts of Scripture. In 
Gen. XV. 1 he encourages Abram with the 
assurance, " I am thy Shield." In Ps. xxxiii. 
20 ; Ixxxiv. 11 ; Ixxxix. 18 ; cxliv. 2, Jehovah 
is called a Shield to liis saints. He renders 
them security against the assaults of their 
enemies, and especially against the fiery 
darts of the wicked one. Again, in ch. 
XXX. 5, it is said, " God is a Shield (magen) 
unto them that walk uprightly." It is 
incorrect to take JJO (magen) either as an 

accusative after the verb or in apposition with 
"sound wisdom." To them that walk up- 
rightly ; literally, to the walkers in innocence 
(Dh 'iVn"?, I'khoVlcey thom). Dh (tham) is 
" integrity of mind," " moral faultlessness," 
"innocence." "To walk uprightly" is to 
maintain a course of life regulated by 
right principles, and directed to right 
ends. He "walks uprightly who lives 
with the fear of God as his principle, the 
Word of God as his rule, and the glory of 
God as his end " (Wardlaw). The com- 
pleteness of the moral and religious cha- 
racter is involved in the expression which 
is found also in ch. x. 9 and Ps. Ixxxiv. 11. 
The Vulgate translates the latter clause of 
the verse, proteget gradienies simpliciter, "he 
will protect those who walk in simplicity ; " 
of. 2 Cor. i. 12 in illustration of the phrase. 
Ho layeth up ; i.e. he treasures up (LXX., 
6ria-avpl(eiv), or preserves and protects (cus- 
iodire, Vulgate), as a person does " treasure 
or jewel, that it may not be stolen " (Zooklor). 
The majority of commentators read the Keri 
(jsi;, "he will trt;asure up," future of [si) 
in preference to the Khetib ()Di'i,. perfect 
of same verb, with prefix 1., "and he trea- 
sured up "), and this is the reading adopted 
in the Authorized Version. Tlie Keri im- 
plies that God does treasure up sound 
wisdom, while the Khetib, as Delitzsoh 
•bserves, has the force of the aorist, and so | 

represents the treasuring up as an accom- 
plished fact. The same verb occurs in ch. 
ii. 1, where it is translated in the Authorized 
Version by "hide," and also in oh. vii. 1 
and X. 14: by "lay up." The laying up, or 
treasuring, points to the preciousness of 
that which is treasured, "souud wisdom." 
Sound wisdom. A great variety of opinions 
exists as to the true meaning of the word 
in the original, n;B'in (tvushiyyah), of which 
" sound wisdom " is an interp i etation. Zockler 
explains it as " wisdom, reflection; " Delitzsoh, 
as "advancement and promotion;" Dathe, 
as " solid fortune ; " Gesenius, as " aid." 
The proper meaning of the word seems to 
be "substance," from tlie root n»;, "to-be, 
to exist, to be firm." Professor Lee remarks 
on the word, " From the places in which it 
occurs, either wealth, thought, or some such 
sense it manifestly requires. It occurs in 
Job vi. 13, in parallelism with ' help ; ' in 
ch. ii. 7, with a ' shield ; ' in Job xi. 6, with 
'wisdom;' in Job xii. 16, with ' strength ; ' 
in ch. iii. 21, with ' discretion ; ' in ch. viii. 
14, with 'counsel' and 'understanding;' 
in Isa. xxviii. 29, with ' counsel ; ' and so in 
Job xxvi. 3. In Job xxx. 22 and Micah vi. 9, 
' entirely ' or the like seems to suit the con- 
text; see also ch. xviii. 1, and generally 
'excess,' or 'abundance,' taken either in a 
good or bad sense, and varied by other con- 
siderations, seems to prevail in every case in 
which this word is used " (see Professor Lee, 
on Job V. 12). The parallelism of the pas- 
sage before us seems to require that it 
should be understood in the sense of security ; 
and transftrring the idea to wisdom as the 
means of security. This idea is reproduced 
in the LXX. a-ar-lipia, the Vulgate salus, 
and the Targum incolumitas. 

Ver. 8. — He keepeth the paths of judg- 
ment. This verse is explanatory of the latter 
hemistich of ver. 7, and points out more 
fully in what way God is a Protector of his 
saints. Some connect the Hebrew infinitive 
•isf?(lin'tsor), "to watch or keep," with"them 
that walk uprightly," and translate, " tliem 
that walk uprightly by keeping the paths of 
judgment ; " but this is to transfer the idea 
of protection from God to suo'i persons. The 
verb signifies specially " to defend, to preserve 
from danger," as in ch. .xxiL 12, " The eyes 
of the Lord preserve knowledge ; i.e. defend 
or protect it from danger." It is God who 
"keepeth the paths of judgment," as he 
alone lias the power to do so. He watches 
over all that walk therein, guides, superin- 
tends, and protects them. The paths of 
judgment; oi lather, justice, Q^B-p rtniN (ar"- 
Moth mish'pat). The abstract is here used 
for the concrete, and the phrase means " the 
paths of the just," i.e. the paths in whioh 
the just walk, or « those who wallt justlj " 

OH. n. 1—22.] 



(MerceruB). This expression corresponds 
with " the way of bis saintB," just as " keep " 
and " preserve" are synonymous verbs, both 
meaning " to guard, keep safe, or protect." He 
preserveth the way of Ms saints. God does 
this (1) by his preventing grace, as in Ps. 
Ixvi. 9, " He Buifereth not our feet to slip." 
Of. Hannah's song, " He wOl keep the feet 
of his saints " (1 Sam. ii. 9) ; (2) by angtlio 
agency, as in Ps. xoi. 11, "He shall give 
his angels charge over thee to keep thee in 
all thy ways." The saints are ever under 
the watchful care and mighty protection of 
Jehovah. Sis aainte 07PD, Wtasidav) ; i.e. the 
pious towards God, the godly, those in whose 
hearts tie principles of sanctity have been 
implanted, and who cherish earnest inward 
love to God, and " walk righteously " atid 
" speak uprightly " (Isa. xxxiii. 15). It is re- 
markable that the word " saints " only occurs 
oncu (in this passage) in the Proverbs. During 
the period of the Maccabssan Wars, a party 
or sect, which aimed at ceremonial purity, 
claimed for themselves the title of Ohandim 
or Asidssane ('ActiSoioi), as expressive of their 
piety or devotion. They are those whom 
Moses called " men of holiness," Exod. xxii. 
31 Q!ijp~>^i^),v'an'shev-]wdesliy, cf. Ps. Ixxxix. 
5; cxiix. 1 ; ixxxix. 8 ; Deut. xxxiii. 3; Dan. 
vii. 18, 21, 22, 25. Under the Christian 
dispensation, the saints are those, who are 
sanctified in Ch riot Jesus (1 Oor. i. 2 ; 1 John 
Y. 1), and who are holy in all manner of 
conversation (1 Pet. i. 15 ; 1 Maco. ii. 42 ; 
vii. 13 ; 2 Maoc. xiv. 6) ; see Bishop Light- 
foot. ' Colossians and Philemon,' diss. ii. 
p. 355. 

Ver. 9, — Then (in, az), repeated from ver. 
5, introduces the second apodosis. As the 
former referred to God, so this appears to 
refer more especially to man, and thus we 
have stated the whole benefit, in its twofold 
aspect, which Wisdom confers on those who 
diligently seek her. It is not to be affirmed, 
however, that righteousness and judgment 
and equity refer exclusively to man; they 
must represent some aspects of our relation- 
ship to God, both from the meaning of the 
words themsalves, and because the law whiuh 
regulates our dealings and intercourse with 
man has its seat in the higher law of our 
relation to God. , Righteousness, and judg- 
ment, and ectuity. The^e three words occur 
in the same collocation in ch. i. 3, which 
see. Yea, every good path. "Yea" does 
not occur in the original. The expression 
is a summarizing of the three previous con- 
ceptions, as if the teacher implied that all 
good paths are embraced by and included 
in " righteoudueas, and judgment, and 
equity;" but the term is also comprehensive 
in the widest degree. The literal transla- 
Uon i» "every path of good" (^ta-h^vg-h^. 

eal-ma'gal-tov), i.e. every course of action of 
which goodness is the characteristic, or, aa 
the Authorized Version, " every good path," 
the sense in which it was understood hy St. 
Jerome, omnem oriitam bonam. The word 
here used for " path " is h^sa (ma' gal), " the 
way in which the chariot roils " (Dclitzsch), 
and metaphorically a course of action, as in 
ch. ii. 15 ; iv. 26. 

Vers. 10— 19.— Statement of the advan- 
tages which result from the possession of 
Wisdom, and specially as a safeguard against 
evil men (vers. 12—15) and evil women (vers 

Ver. 10. — When wisdom entereth into 
thine heart. There is practically little dif- 
ference as to the sense, whutlier we render 
tlje Hebrew '3 by the conditional " if" or by 
the temporal " when " as in the Authorized 
Version. The conditional force is adopted 
by the LXX. Hv and the Vulgate si. In the 
previous section of this address, the teacher 
has shown that the search after Wisdom will 
result in possession; now he points out, when 
Wisdom is secured, certain advantageous con- 
sequences follow. The transition is easy 
and natural. The form of construction is 
very similar to that adopted previously. 
There is first the hypothesis, if we give 
this force to '3, though much shorter ; and 
secondly the climax, also shorter and branch- 
ing off into the statement of two special 
cases, iintereth ; or, sjiall enter (Nun, ihavo) 
in the sense of permanent residence in the 
heart. Wisdom is not only to come in, but 
to rest there (of. ch. xiv. 33). The expression 
is illustrated by John xiv. 23. The imagery 
of the verse is taken from the reception and 
entertainment of a guest. As we receive a 
welcome guest, and find pleasure in his 
company, so is Wisdom to be dear to the 
heart and soul. Into thine heart ('^373, 6'K- 
heehd). The heurt (3^) " concentrates in it- 
self the personal life of man in all its rela- 
tions, the conscious and the unconscious, the 
voluntary and tljo involuntary, the physical 
and the spiritual impulses, the emotions and 
states " (Cremer, ' Bib. Theol. Lex.,' sub voce 
KopSia). It is that in which the tysj (ne- 
phesh)," soul," manifests itself. Itis the centre 
of the life of will and desire, of the emotions, 
and of the moral life. Eudloff (' Lehre von 
Menscher,' p. 59, sqq., apud Zockler) remarks . 
that everywhere in the Scriptures the heart 
appears to belong more to the life of desire 
and feeling than to the intellectual activity 
of the soul. But at the same time, it is to 
be noted that intelligent conception is at- 
tributed to the heart (3^.) ; ch. xiv. 10 ; viii. 
5 ; xvi. 9. The expression seems to be put 



[OH. n. 1—22. 

here for the moral side of man's nature ; and 
In the HelleniBtio sense, xapSla, the proper 
equivalent of a^j " heart," involves all that 
stands for yavs, \6yos, irurefSjjinj, and Bvi^js ; 
i.e. it Includes, besides other things, the in- 
telleotual faculty. The word " soul " (WM, 
nepliesh^ is here found in combination with 
"heart." The other passages where they 
are mentioned together are Deut. vi. 5 ; Ps. 
xiii. 2; Jer. iv. 19; ch. xxiv. 12. The 
soul is primarily the vital principle, but 
according to the usus loquendi of Holy 
Scripture, it frequently denotes the entire 
inward nature of man ; it is that part which 
is the object of the work of redemption. 
The home of the soul is the heart, as ap- 
pears from ch. xiv. 10, " The heart 
knoweth his own bitterness [or, 'the bitter- 
ness of his soul,' Hebrew]." While the 
"heart" (a^J is rendered by KapSia and 
tfivX^' ^^^ °^^J Giieek equivalent to " soul " 
(ti'sj) is ^fivxii. The two expressions, " heart," 
and " soul," in the passage before us may be 
taken as designating both the moral and 
spiritual sides of man's nature. Wisdom is 
to be acceptable and pleasant to man in these 
respects. It may be remarked that an in- 
tellectual colouring is given to the word 
"heart" by the LXX., who render it by 
Stavoia, as also in Deut. vi. 5 and other 
passages, evidently from the idea that pro- 
minence is given to the reflective faculty. 
Classically, Siavolais equivalent to " thought," 
•' faculty of thought," " intellect." Know- 
ledge (Hebrew, npj) ; literally, to know, as in 
cli. viii. 10 and xiv. 6; here used synony- 
mously with " wisdom." Knowledge, not 
merely as cognition, but perception ; i.e. not 
merely kuowing a thing with respect to its 
existence and being, but as to its excellence 
and truth. Equivalent to the LXX. aia-Bt)- 
ffis, " perception," and the Vulgate scientia. 
Is pleasant (Hebrew, D^y,yin'am); literally, 
thall be pleasant ; i.e. sweet, lovely, beautiful. 
The same word is used impersonally in Jacob's 
blessing of Issachar (Gen. xlix. 15, " And 
he saw the land that it was pleasant "), and 
also in ch. xxiv. 25, " To those that punish 
[i.e. the judges] there shall be delight." And 
this usage has led Dunn to take "knowledge" 
as an accusative of reference, and to translate, 
" There is pleasure to thy soul in respect of 
knowledge;" but the Authorized Version 
may be accepted as correct. "Knowledge" 
is masculine, as in ch. viii. 10 and xiv. 6, and 
agrees with the masculine verb "is pleasant." 
Knowledge will be pleasant from the enjoy- 
ment and rest which it yields. The Arabic 
presents the idea of this enjoyment under a 
different aspect : " And prudence shall be 
in thy ioul the most beautiful glory." 

Ver. 11. — ^Discretion shall preserve thee. 
Viserelion (pgirtf, m'timoth'), as in ch. i. 4, is 

the outward manifestation of wisdom; it 
tests what is uncertain, and avoids danger 
(Hitzig). The word carries with it the idea 
of reflection or consideration (see oh. iii. 21 ; 
V. 2 ; viii. 12). The LXX. reads, ^ovXii xaX-li, 
" good counsel; " and the Vulgate, concilium. 
Shall preserve thee. The idea of protection 
and guarding, which is predicated of Jehovah 
in ver. 8, is here transferred to discretion 
and understanding, which to some extent 
are put forward as personifications. Under- 
standing (njian, t'vundh), as in ch. ii. 11; 
the power of distinguishing and separating, 
and, in the case of conflicting interests, to 
decide on the best. Shall keep ; i.e. keep 
safe, or in the sense of watching over or 
guarding. The two verbs "to preserve" 
(T5»', shamar) and " to keep " (iBj, natsar), 
LXX. riipeiy, occur together again in ch. 
iv. 6. 

Ver. 12. — To deliver thee from the way of 
the evil man. The first special advantage 
resulting from the protecting guardianship 
of discretion and understanding. From the 
way of the evil man; properly, from an evil 
way; Hebrew, j;5"i| (mtdoreA;ra),notneces- 
sarily, though by implication, connected with 
man, as in the Authorized Version, yi {ra\ 
" evU," " wicked," in an ethical sense, is an 
adjective, as in Jer. iii. 16 (yi a^, lev ra), " an 
evil he.nrt;" cf. the LXX., &Trh ddov /ca/c^s; 
the Vulgate, Targum, and Arabic, a vid 
mala, and the Syriac, a viis pravis. "Way," 
is here used in the sense of "conduct," and 
the evil way is a line of conduct or action 
which is essentially wicked or evil. The 
teacher has already warned youth against 
the temptations and dangers of the way of 
evU men in oh. i. 10 — 15 ; he now shows 
that discretion, arising from wisdom being 
resideot in the heart, will be a sufficient safe 
guard against its allurements. From the 
man that speaketh froward things. Perverse 
utterances are here brought in contradis- 
tinction to the evil way or froward conduct. 
Man («?>(, ish) is here used generically, as the 
representative of the whole cluss of base and 
wicked men, since all the following verbs are 
in the plural. Froward things. The word 
niagnn (tah'pucoth), here tianslated "fro- 
ward things," is derived from the root T]E)ri 
(haphak), "to turn," "to pervert," and should 
be faanslated " perversencss." Perverseness 
is the wilful misrepresentation of that 
which is good and true. The utterances are 
of a distorted and tortuous character. The 
word, only found in the plural, is abstract in 
form, and is of frequent, tliough not of ex- 
clusive, occurrence in the Pioverbs. It ia 
attributed to the Israelites in Deut. xxxii, 
20. It is met with again in such expressions 
as " the mouth of pervSrscness," Authorized 
Version " froward mouth " (oh. viii. 13) ; " tha 

CH. n. 1 — 22,] 



tongue of perverseneBS," " froward tongue," 
Authorized Version (ch. x. 31) ; " the man of 
perverseness," "froward man," Authorized 
Version (oh. xvi. 28). What is here said of 
wicked men is attributed to drunkards in ch. 
xxiii. 33, "Thine heart shall utter perverse 
things." The expression finds its expla- 
nation in ch. vi. 13, 14. The spirit which 
indulges in this perverseness is stubborn, 
scornful, self-willi d, and rebellious, and it is 
from such a spirit that discretion is a pre- 
servatlre. In Job v. 13 it is said that 
" the counsel of the froward is carried head- 
long " (see also 2 Sara xxii. 27 ; Ps. xviii. 
26 ; oi. 4). The LXX. rendering of this 
word is unSfV iriffTdi/, " nothing trustworthy," 
which ia amplified in the Arabic, quod 
nullam in te continet veritatem, "that which 
contains in itself no truth." 

Ver. 13. — Who leave the paths of upright- 
ness. Between vers. 13 and 15 the teacher 
proceeds to give a more detailed description 
of those who speak perversely. Who leave 
(D'ajjjn, haoz'vim) ; literally, forsahing, but 
the present participle has the force of the 
preterite, as appears from the context. The 
men alluded to have already forsaken or 
deserted the paths of uprigh'ness (see pre- 
vious note on the word " man." The paths 
of wprightneBe (ne'TiiniN, ar'hhoth yosher'); 
the same as the "right paths" of ch. iv. 11. 
The strict mianing of the Hebrew word 
translated " uprightness " is "straightiieas," 
and hence it stands opposed to " perverse- 
ness" in the previous verse. Uprightness 
is integrity, rectitude, honest dealing. The 
LXX. traublators represent the forsaking of 
the paths of uprightness as a consequence 
resulting from walking in the ways of dark- 
ness, " O ye who have left the right ways 
by departing [to5 iropeiJetrBoi, equivalent to 
abeundo] into the ways of darkness." 
Again,the ways of darkness ("^B'n -2yi, dar'ehey 
kkoshek) are opposed to the " paths of up- 
rightness " which rejoice in the light. Dark- 
ness includes the two ideas of (1) ignorance 
and error (Isa.- ix. 2 ; Eph. v. 8), and (2) 
evil deeds. To walk in the way s of darkness, 
then, is to persist in a course of wilful igno- 
rance, to reject deliberately the light of know- 
ledge, and tfl work wickedness, by performing 
" the works of darkness (rti ipya rod axi- 
Tovs)," which St. Paul exhorted the Church 
at Rome to cast away (Eom. xiii. 12), and 
by having fellonsh p with " the unfruitful 
works of darku' eb (tA Ipya ri. axdp'xa rov 
(TKoTovs)," against wnieh the same apostle 
warned the Ephesians (v. 1 1). They are ways 
of darkness, because they endeavour to hide 
themselves from God (Isa. xxix. 15) and 
from man (Job xxiv. 15; xxxviu. 13, 15). 
In their tendency and end they load to the 
blackness of darkness for ever. In Scripture 
darkness is associated with evd, juat a» 

light is with uprightness (see John iii. 19, 
20). The same association of ideas is dis- 
coverable in the dualism of the Persian 
system, as formulated by Zoroaster — Ormuzd, 
the good principle, presid s over the king- 
dom of light, while, tlie principle 
of evil, is the ruler of the kingdom of dark- 

Ver. 14. — Who rejoice to do evil. Another 
element is here brought forward, and the 
description increases in intensity. The 
wicked not only rejoice to do evil them- 
iselves, but they exult when they hear of 
evil in others (of. Bom. i. 32). Such may 
be tlie interpretation, though the latter part, 
of the verse is capable of a different and 
more general rendering as signifying exulta- 
tion in evil generally, whether it appears 
in themselves or others. The expression 
rendered in the Authorized Version, in the 
frowardness of the wicked, is in the original 
(pi nia^inna, Vthdh'-pucoth id), in the per- 
vereenesi of evil, or in evil perverseness, 
where the combination of the two nouns 
serves to give force to the main idea, which 
is that of perverseness. This rendering is 
adopted in the LXX., eVl dia(rTpo(p7J kuk^, *'in 
evil distortion ; " in the Vulj^ate, in peseimis 
rebus; in the Targum, Syriac, and Arabic, 
t» convereatione mala, " in a bad course of 
conduct;" and in the Targum, in muUtise 
perversione, " in the perversion of wickedness." 
It is not perverseness in its simple and com- 
mon form that these men exult in, but in its 
worst and most vicious form (for a similar 
construction, see ch. vi. 24 ; xv. 26 ; and 
xxviii. 5). How widely different is the con- 
duct of charity, which "rejoiceth nut in 
iniquity " (1 Cor. xiii. 6) I 

Ver. 15. — Whose ways are crooked ; better, 
perhaps, who as to their ways are crooked. 
This is the construction adopted by Fleischer, 
Bertheau, Zocbler, and others, though it may 
be remarked that the substantive nnx (ornlsh), 
''way," is common gender, and may thus 
agree with the adjective ty'pr (ikeah), '■ per- 
verse," which is masculine. The Targum, 
LXX., Vulgate, Syriac, and Arabic, all 
make "crooked" agree with "ways," so 
that, grammatically, the Authorized Version 
may be regarded as not incorrect. Crooked 
(P'vm, ik'shim) ; i.e. tortuous, perverse, not 
straightforward,((rKoXial,LXX.). Symmach us 
translates the original by crKanPai, i.e. " bent." 
Theodotion, by a-TpifiXai, " twisted, crookt." 
Sinners, in their perverseness, are ever wind- 
ing about, turning in every direction, and 
changing from purpose to purpose, as way- 
ward caprice or shifting inclination, the 
alternations of evil propensity, happen to 
dictate (Wardlaw). (For the expression, 
" crooked ways," see Ps. oxxv. 5.) And they 
froward in their paths ; i.e. perverse in their 



[oh. n. 1—22. 

paths. The root-idea of the Hebrew niph. 
participle D'li^ji (vun'lozim), translated " and 
they froward,"' ie " to bend aside," " to turn 
away." They are tmned aside to the rislit 
hand and to the left in their walk. The 
niph. participle rh} (naloz) only occurs four 
times in the Scriptures — here ; oh, iii. 32 ; 
xiv. 2 ; and Isa. xxx. 12. Tliis is the last 
feature in their wickedness. 

Ver. 16. — To deliver thee from the strange 
woman. This is the second form of tempta- 
tion against which wisdom (discretion) is a 
preservative, and the great and especial 
dangers arising from it to youth, owing to 
ils seductive allurements, afford the reason 
why the teacher is so strong in his warnings 
on this subject. Two terms are employed 
to designate the source of this evil — " the 
strange woman " (npi nf N, iehshah zara), and 
"the- stranger" (n'Tij, nofeVii/a/j)— and both 
undoubtedly, in the passage before us, mean 
a meretricious person, one who indulges in 
illicit intercourse. The former term is in- 
variably employed in this sense in the Proverbs 
(ch. V. 2, 20 ; vii. 5 ; xxii. 14 ; xxiii. 33) of 
the adulteress (Dni, zarini), and Jer. ii. 25. 
The participle T? (2ar),from the verb IIJ (zur), 
of which nnT Izara'j) is the feminine form, is, 
however, used in a wider sense, as signifying 

(1) one of another nation, or one of anotlier 
family ; (2) or some one different from one's 
self; (."5) or strange. Thus : (1) in Isa. i. 7 
we have " Strangers devour it (your land) 
in your presence;" but in Exod. xxx. 33 
" the stranger " is one not the high priest. 

(2) Tlie "stranger" is another (eh. xi. 15; 
xiv. 10; XX. 16; xxvii. 2, 13). (3) The 
" strange fire " (nnj &H, esh zarah) is the un- 
lawful fire as opposed to the holy fire (Lev. 
X. 1); the "strange god"(ni hti,el zar) is 
the foreign god (Ps. Ixxxi. 9). But the 
idea of foreign origin implied in the word is 
more stron<!;ly brought out in the next term, 
iin?J {nok'riyali), on which Deli tzsch remarks 
that it scarcely ever divests itself of astrange, 
foreign origin. This word is used to desig- 
nate those " strange women" whom Solomon 
loved in his old age, and who turned his 
heart aside to worship false gods (1 Kings 
xi. 1 — 8), " outlandisli women," as they are 
termed in Neh. xiii. 26 ; it designates " the 
strange wives "of Ezra x. and Neh. xiii. 27; 
and is applied to Euth the Moabitess (Ruth 
ii. 10). Again, it has to be further observed 
that the laws of the Mosaic code against 
prostitution were of a most stringent nature 
(Lev. xix. 29 ; xxi. 9 ; Deut. xxiii. 17), and 
no doubt served to maintain a higher standard 
of morality among Israelii i^h women than 
that observed among the Midianites, Syrians, 
and other nations. Strong prohibitions 
were directed against the intermarriage of 

Israelites with the women of the surrounding 
nations; but the example set by Solomon 
would serve to weaken the force of these 
prohibitions, and wonld lead to a large influx 
of women of a different nationality. The 
conclusion we arrive at is that the class 
mentioned in the text, tljough not Israelitish 
by bjrih, were yet so by adoption, as the 
context clearly indicates (ver. 17) the fact, 
of marriage and the acceptance of certain 
religious observances. Such women, after 
a temporary restraint, would eventually set 
all moral and religious obligations at de- 
fiance, and would become the source of temp- 
tation to others. The allegorical interpreta- 
tion given to this passage by the LXX. is to 
be rejected on the ground that the previous 
section (vers. 12 — 15) speaks of perverse 
men. Which flattereth with her words; 
literally, who lias made smooth her words, 
the hiph. perfect being used of p^n (Jthalak), 

" to make smooth,' or "flattering." The pre- 
terite shows what her habitual practice is, 
and is used of an action still continuing, 
and BO may be fitly rendered by the pre- 
sent, OS in the Authorized Version : " She has 
acquired the art of enticing by flattering 
words, and it is her study to employ them ; " 
cf. the Vulgate, quse mollit sermones suos, 
" who softens her words ; " and the Syriac, 
quss suhvertit verba sua, " who subverts her 
words,'' i.e. " uses deceit." The expression 
occurs again in ch. v. 3 ; vi. 24 ; vii. 5. 

Ver. 17. — The guide of her youth (cji^ 
n'liyj, alluph n'lireyah) ; properly, the asso- 
ciate or companion of her youth. The H ebrew, 
C)i^ (oMuph'), being derived from the root cj^K, 

(alapK), " to accustom one's self to," or " to 
be accustomed to" or " familiar with" any 
one. The word is rendered as "friend" in 
ch. xvii.9; xvi. 28; Micahvii. 5. The idea 
of guidance, which is adopted in the 
Authorized Version, and appears also in tlie 
Vulgate dux, and Targum ducatus, is a 
secondary idea, and is derived probably from 
the relation in which t)ie husband stands to 
his wife. Various interpretations have been 
given to the expression. It occurs again in 
Jer. iii. 4, where Jehovah applies it to him- 
self, and says, through liis prophet, to the 
religiously adulterous Judah, " Wilt thou 
not from this time cry unto me, My Father, 
thou art the Guide of my youth (ny: P]i''«^ 
alluph n'urd)?" It has also been under- 
stood as referring to the woman's parents, 
her father and mother, who were her natural 
guardians. But Ihe context seems to re- 
quire that it should be taken as designating 
her husband. It will then be the correlative 
of " the wife of thy youth " of Mai. ii. 14. 
The covenant of her God ; i.e. the marriage 
covenant, called " the covenant of her Qui," 

OH. II. 1—22.] 



because entered into in his presence. The 
forsaking of the guide of her youth is essen- 
tially bound up with a forgetfulness of the 
Bolemn covenant which she had entered into 
in the presence of God. No specific mention 
is made in tlie Pentateuch of any religious 
ceremony at marriage; yet we may infer, from 
Mai. ii. 14, 1.'), where God is spoken of as 
" a Witness " between the liusbancl and " the 
wife of ids youth," " the wife of thy cove- 
nant," thnt the marriage contract was solem- 
nized with sacred rites. The Proverbs thus 
give a high and sacred character to mar- 
riage, and so carry on the original idea of 
the institution which, under the gospel dis- 
pensation, developed into the principle of 
the indissolubility of the marriase tie. It 
is no objection to this view that the mnno- 
gamio principle was infringed, and polygamy 
countenanced. The reason of this latter 
departure is given in Deut. xxii. 28 and 
Exod. xxii. 16. The morality of the 
Proverbs always represents monogamy as 
the rule ; it deprecates illicit intercourse, and 
discountenances divorce. It is in entire 
accordance witli the seventh commandment. 
The woman who commits adultery offends, 
not only against her husband, but against 
lier God. 

Ver. 18.— For her house iuoliueth unto 
death ; rather, she sinks down to death together 
with her house (Bottcher, Delitzsch). The 
objection to the Authorized Version is tl at it 
doesnot follow the constructionof the original, 
the verb "sinks down" (pr\f, shalihah)beu\g 
feminine, while "house" (n;3, hayith) is 
invariably masculine. Aben Ezra translates, 
" She sinks down to death, (which is to be) 
her house ; " but it seems better to regard 
"her hoi^se" as an adjunct of the strange 
woman. Her hou.-e includes all who belong 
to her. She and they are involved in the 
same fate. The Authorized Version is 
evidently influenced by the Vulgate. Incli- 
nala est enim ad mortem domiis ejus, " For her 
house is inclined to death." The LXX. gives 
a different rendering, "Eflero yiip irapi, tZ 
■eaf&Ta: Thv oIkov auTijr, "For she hath 
placed her house beside death." So the 
Arabic. The "for" ('3, U) refers back to 
ver. 16, and indicates how great is the 
deliverance effected by wisdom. The mean- 
ing of the passage is aptly illustrated by 
ch. vii. 27, " Her house is the way to hell, 
going down to the chambers of death." And 
her paths unto the dead. The dead (PW^, 
r'phaim) are properly the quiet, or the 
feeble. They are the shadowy inhabitants 
or shades of Hades, tUeinferi oi ihe Vulgate, 
and are here put for Sheol itself. Compare 
the eldaha KafivSvraiv of Homer, and the 
ambrie, "shades," of Virgil. The word 
occurs again in oh. ii. 18 ; xxi. 16 ; and m 

Ps. Ixxxviii. 11; Isa. xxvi. 14, 19; Jofc 

xxvi. 5. 

Ver. 19. — None that go unto her return 
again. The fate of the companions of the 
strange woman is described as irrevocable. 
All who visit her shall not return again. 
The Targum reads, " They shall not return 
in peace." Tlie diiBculty which they who 
give themselves up to the indulgence of 
lust and passion encounter in extricating 
themselves makes the statement of the 
teacher an almost universal truth. Hence 
St. Chrysobtom says, "It is as difficult to 
bring back a libidinous person to chastity 
as a dead man to life." This passage led 
some of the Fatliers to declare that the -sin 
of adultery was unpardonable. Fornication 
was classed by the scholastic divines among 
the seven deadly sins, and it has this 
character given to it in the Litany : " From 
fornication, and all otljer deadly sin." St. 
Paul says, "No whoremonger nor unclean 
person , . . hath any inheritance in the 
kingdom of Christ and of God " (Eph. v. 5 ; 
cf. 1 Cor. vi. 9; Eev. xxii. 15). The sin 
which they commit who have dealings with 
the strange woman is deadly and leads on 
to death, and from deatli there ia no return, 
nor laying hold of or regaining the paths of 
life (see Job vii. 9, 10). Compare the words 
with which Deiphobe, the Cumsean sibyl, 
addresses JEneas — 

"Tros Anchysiaile, faoUis descensus Avenio 
Sed revocare gradum superasque evadere 

ad aura.'*. 
Hoc opus, hio labor est." 

(Virgil, ' ^neid,' vi. 126—129.) 
" O Trojan, son of Anohyses, easy is the path 
that leads to hell. But to retrace one's steps, 
and escape to the upper regions, this is a 
work, this ia a task." 

Vers. 20 — 22. — Conclusion of the discourse 
in w hich are antithetically stated the respec- 
tive destinies of the good and the bad, the 
upright and the wicked. 

Ver. 20.— That (Hebrew, pQ^, Pmoan) ; in 
order that (Vulgate, ut), carries us back 
properly to ver. 11. The protecting power 
of wisdom is developed in a positive direc- 
tion. Negatively, it delivers from the evil 
man and from the strange woman, but it 
does more—" it shaii keep thee in order that 
thou mayest walk in a good way," etc. The 
Hebrew pah Q'maan) is co-ordinate with " to 
deliver thee," but it serves to bring the dis- 
course to a conclusion. Uiubreit renders it 
"therefore," thus making what follows aa 
inference from the preceding discourse. So 
the Syriao, amhula igilwr, " therefore walk." 
In the way of good men (D'3iD '^Ti^' ^'^''^^ 
tovim); it. in the way of the good, in an ethical 



[CH. n. 1—22. 

sense, i.e. the upright, as in Isa. v. 20, The 
Vulgate renders, in via bond, "in the good 
way." " The way of good men " is the way 
»f God'a commandments, the way of obeJi- 
enoe. Keep. The Hebrew verb IDE' (shamar) 
is here used in the sense of "to observe," 
" to attend to," but in a different sense from 
Psi xvit 4, " I have observed the ways of 
the violent man," i.e. that I might avoid 
them. To keep the paths of the righteous 
18 to carefully attend to the life of obedience 
which they follow. The LXX. clobely 
connects this verse with the preceding, and 
renders, " For if th ey had walked in good ways, 
they would have found the paths of righteous- 
ness light." 

Ver. 21. — For the upright shall dwell in 
the land. Much the same language is met 
with in Ps. xxxvii. 29, " The righteous shall 
Inherit the land, and dwell therein for ever." 
It is the secure and peaceful dwelling in the 
land which is intended (cf. ch. x. 30). To 
dwell in the land was always put forwaid as 
the reward of obedience to God's command- 
ments (see Exod. xx. 12; Lev. xxv. 18; 
xxvi. 5), and the phrase conveyed to the 
Hebrew mind the idea of one of the greatest, 
if not the grt atest, of all temporal blessings. 
The love of country was a predominant 
characteristic of the race. Elster, quoted by 
Zookler, remarks, " The Israelite was beyond 
the power of natural feeling, which makes 
home dear to every one, more closely bound 
to the ancestral soil by the whole form of the 
theocracy ; torn from it, he was in the inmost 
roots of life strained and broken. Especially 
from psalms belonging to the period of the 
exile this patriotic I'eeling is breathed out in 
the fullest glow and intensity." The land 
(yiN, areis) was the promised land, the land 

of Canaan. The word is not used hero in 
the wider sense in which it occurs in Matt. 
V. 5, " Blessed are the meek : for they shall 
inherit the earth." And the perfect shall 
remain in it ; i.e, they shall not, as Eabbi Levi 
remarks, be driven thence nor caused to 
migrate. The perfecl (D'D'pn, th'mimim), 
the holy (LXX., iaioi), the spotless (imma- 
eulati, Targum), those without a stain (qui 
eine lobe, Syriao), the guileless (simplices, 
Vulgate). ShaU remain; niiv (yivvaih'ru), 
niph. future of irv (yathar), properly "to 
be redundant," and in the niph. form, " to 
be left," or " to remain." LXX., 6Tro\ei<t>eili- 

aovTai, "Shall remain;" permanehmd, Vul- 

Ver. 22. — But the wicked shall be cnt off 
from the earth. The punishment of the 
wicked is contrasted with the ble.'sings that 
are promised to the upright. Shall he cut off; 
mn3' (yikkarethu), niph. future of n"D 
(Jcaraih), "to cut off, or destroy." LXX', 
oAouyrai; Vulgate, perdentur. The expres- 
sion is used to convey the idea of e.itermi- 
nation, as in Ps. xxxvii. 9 (cf. Job xviii. 17 ; 
Ps. xxxvii. 28; civ. 35). The verb is found 
also in Gen. xvii. 14; Exod. xii. 15. The 
earth; properly, the land. 'J'he same word 
(yiN, arets) is used as in ver. 21. The trans- 
gressors (DHJia, hog'dini); here employed 
synonymously with "the wicked" (d'P^.' 
y'shaim), " the impious." The primar) 
meaning of the verb from which it is derived 
(1J3, bagad) is " to cover," " to deal treach- 
erously," and hence the word signifies those 
who act treacherously or perfidiously, the 
faithless. They are those wl.o perfidiously 
depart from God, and break away from the 
covenant with Jehovah. LXX., irapdvo/ioi 
(cf. ch. xi. 3, 6; xiii. 2, 25; xxii. 12; Ps. 
xxv. 3; lix. 5; Isi. xxxiii. 1). Shall be 
rooted out One', yiss'khu). This word is 
taken by Davidson as the future kal of noj 
(nasah), "to pluck np," and hence is 
equivalent to "they shall pluck up," or, 
passively, "they shall be plucked up." De- 
li(;zsch remarks that it is as at ch. xv. 25 and 
Ps. lii. 7, active, " tliey shall pluck up," and 
this with the subject remaining indefinite is 
equivalent to the passive form, " they shall 
be pluekbd up." Tiiis indefinite " they " 
can be used of God, as also in Job vii. 3 
(Fleischer). The expression has been under- 
stood as referring to being driven into exile 
(Gesenius), aud this view would be amply 
justified by the fate which overtook the 
apostate nation when both the kingdoms of 
Isi'ael and Judah suffered this fate (cf. 
LXX. i^aBiiaovrm, " they sliall be driven 
out"). It also derives colour from the 
language of the preceding verse, but. the 
imagery appears to be derived from the cut- 
ting down and rooting up of trees. The 
debtruotion of the wicked and transgressors 
will be complete. They shall be extermi- 
nated (of. Targum, eratUeabuntur ; Syriac, 
evellentur ; and Arabic, exterminabimtury 


Vers. 1 — 5. — The search for wisdom. I. Divine wisdom must be sought befobb 
IT CAN BE FOUND. It is truB that Wisdom cries aloud in the street and invites the 
Ignorant and simple to partake of her stores. But the burden of her cry is to bid us 
seek her. It is the voice of invitation, not that of revelation. The latter is only 
audible to those who incline their ears purposely and thoughtfully. The thoughtless 

6H. n. 1—22.] THE PBOVEKBS. 43 

are satisfied with hasty impressions of the moment; hut the only religious convictions 
worth considering are the outcome of thought and prayer. Still, it is to he observed 
that this wisdom is not reherveil for the keen-sij.'hled, the intellectual, the philosophical. 
It is not ability, but industry, that is required ; not exceptional capacity to attain know- 
ledge, hut diligence in pursuing it. Laborious dulness can never achieve the triumphs 
of the brilliant scholar in secular studies. Industry alone will not make a senior 
wrangler. But the hijjhest knowledge. Divine knowledge, depends so much more on 
moral considerations which are within the reach of all, that it can stand upon this 
democratic basis and offer itself to all patient inquirers. 

II. The search for Divine wisdom must begin in receptive faith. This 
wisdom is not innate ; it is not attained by direct observation ; it is not the result ol 
self-sustained reasoning. It comes as revelation, in the voice of God. Thus the soul's 
first duty is to hear. But the right attitude towards the Divine revelation is not merely 
a state of receptivity. It is one of faith and careful attention, receiving the words and 
hiding them. All through the Bible this essential distinction between heavenly truth 
and philosophy, between the mere intellectual requisites of the one and the faith and 
obedience which lie at the root of the other, is apparent. The first steps towards 
receiving the wisdom of God are childlike trust and that purity and devoutness which 
bring the soul into communion with God. 

III. The search for Divine wisdom must be maintained with inceeasinq 
earnestness. The verses before us describe a progressive intensity of spiritual eftbrt — 
receiving, hiding the commandment, inclining the ear, applying the heart, crying 
after, lifting up the voice, seeking, searching as fur hid treasure. The trutli may not 
be found at once. But the earnest soul will not desist at the first discouragement; if 
his heart is in the pursuit, he will only press on the more vigorously. It is, moreover, 
the characteristic of Divine truth that a little knowledge of it kindles the thirst for 
deeper draughts. Thus we are led on to the most energetic search. Spirituality does 
not discourage the eager energy with which men seek worldly gain ; on the contrary, it 
)ids us transfer this to higher pursuits, and seek wisdom as men seek for silver, and 
ink mines after hidden treasures. Clirist does not say, " Be anxious for nothing ; " 

out, " Be not anxious for the morrow " — in order that we may transfer our anxiety to 
more important concerns, and " seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness." 

IV. The search for Divine wisdom will be rewarded with success. Some 
question this, and, after weary pursuit, abandon the quest in despair, or settle down 
into indolent indifference. Perhaps they lack patience — toiling in the night and taking 
nothing, they cannot hold on till the dawn, when the Master will give them a rich 
draught ; or they seek wrongly, not in spiritual faith, but in cold human reason ; or 
they seek a mistaken goal — the explanation of mystery rather than praotica.1 wisdom 
as the guide of life. This wisdom is promised to those who truly seek, and it is 

Yer. 6. — Wisdcym a gift of Ood. I. True wisdom originates in Divine inspira- 
tion. Prophets and apostles — teachers of the highest trutho — claim to be delivering a 
message from heaven. The greater the thoughts declared to us in Scripture, the more 
emphatic is the ascription of them to a superhuman source. Surely this very fact — this 
conjunction of unique value in the thoughts, with the confident assertion that they are 
from God — should go far in leading us to believe in the inspiration of them. But it is 
also urged by the men who bring these truths to us that we can only receive them when 
we are inspired by the Spirit of God"; and experience shows that they who have most 
spirituality of life are able to drink most deeply of the fountains of revelation. Further, 
when once we admit this much, it follows that, if we recognize the constancy of God in 
ill his methods of action, it is reasonable for us to feel that all truth must depend on a 
Divine illumination for its manifestation, and that all wisdom must be the outcome of 
»ome degree of inspiration. Nevertheless, it is not to be inferred that inspiration dis- 
penses with natural channels of knowledge ; on the contrary, it opens the eyes of men, 
who must then use their eyes to be seers of spiritual truth. 

II. The inspiration of wisdom depends on spiritual relations with God. M 
inspiration is the source, the questions arise— Who are privileged to drink of this foun- 
tain? and how do they gain access to it? Now, it is much to be assured that this is 

44 THE PROVERBS. [oh. n. 1— 21 

not reserved to any select class of men. Prophets have a special revelation to convey 
a special message, and apostles have a distinctive endowment for the accomplishment 
of a particular mission ; but the inspiration of wisdom generally is not thus limited. On 
the contrary, it comes freely to all wlio rightly avail themselves of it. What, then, 
are the conditions for receiving it ? 1. Prayer. "If any of you lack wisdom, let him 
ask of G-od, who giveth to all libeially, and upbraideth not ; and it shall be given him " 
(Jas. i. 5). Whosoever seeks shall find. 2. Purity. " The pure in heart shall sef 
God," and the highest wisdom is in the beatific vision of him who dwells in tho 
light of eternal truth. 3. Ohe Hence. As we submit our wills to God's will, we open 
the channel through which his Spirit enters into us, and by fellowship illumines. 

III. True wisdom, being inspibed by God, will beab the stamp of Divine 
OHARACTBRi.sTics. It will differ from mere human speculation; sometimes it will be 
DO much in conflict with that speculation as to pass for foolishness (see 1 Onr. i. 18). It 
will be distinctly opposed to the wisdom that is purely carnal, i.e. to that which takes 
account only of earthly facts ami ignores spiritual principles, the wisdom of expediency, 
the cleverness of men of the world. Such wisdom is not only earthly ; its low maxims 
and immoral devices proclaim it to be "sensual, devilish" (Jas. iii. 15). Divinely 
inspired wisdom, on the contrary, is S|iiritual — ^taking account of the facts and laws of 
the higher order ; pure — ^not ministering to selfish greed and degraded pleasure ; whole- 
some — strengthening and elevating the soul ; " peaceable, gentle, easy to be intreated, 
full of mercy and good fruits, without variance, without hypocrisy " (Jas. iii. 17). 

Vers. 10, 11. — The antidote to temptation. I. Wb need an antidote to tempta- 
tion. It is not enough to trust to our own spiritual health to throw off the poison. 
We are already diseased with sin, and have a predisposition to yield to temptation in 
the corruption of our own hearts, ^ut if we were 'mmaculate, we should still be liable 
to fall ; the power of temptation is so fearful that the purest, strongest :oul would be in 
danger of succumbing. The tempter can choose the moment of his attack. When we 
are most off our guard, when we are faint and weary, when we are suffering from spiritual 
depression, the mine may be suddenly sprung, and we may be lost before we have fully 
realized the situation. Like the dragon in Spenser's ' Faery Queene,' which would ha''* 
stifled the Bed Cross Knight with the fiery fumes it belched forth unless he had fallen Into 
the healin'j; fountain, the tempter would destroy our spiritual life with an atmosphere o/ 
foul thoughts after more tangible attacks have failed, were it not that we have a supi]ly 
of grace outside ourselves, equal to our need. Even Christ, when tempted, did not 
rest on his own purity and power, but appealed for support to the sacred wisdom of 

II. The antidote to temptation must be some form of positive good. Fire 
is quenched by water, not by opposing flames. Evil must be overcome with good. The 
way to keep sin out of the heart is to fill the heart with pure thoughts and affections 
till there is no room for anything else. The citadel entered most easily by the tempter 
is an empty heart. 

III. True wisdom is the surest antidote to temptation. All knowledge tends 
in some degree to preserve from evil. Light makes for goodness. Both are from God, 
and therefore they must harmonize. Secular knowledge is morally useful. A very 
large proportion of the criminals in our jails can neither read nor write. Ignorant of wiser 
courses, they are led aside to the lowest pursuits. Sound intelligence and good informa- 
tion introduce men at least to the social conscience. But the schoolmaster is not the 
saviour of the world. Higher wisdom is needed "to be the successful antidote to sin — 
that wisdom which, in the Book of Proverbs, is almost synonymous with religion — the 
knowledge of God and his laws, and the practical discernment of the application of this 
knowledge to conduct. We must know God's will and the way of the Christian life, 
the beauty of holiness and how to attain it, if we are to have a good safeguard against 
sin. Christ, the Wisdom of God, dwelling in our hearts, is the great security against 

IV. To be effectual as an antidote to temptation, wisdom must be received 
WITH DELIGHT. Knowledge must be "pleasant." We are most influenced by tliat 
which we love most. There is a strength in the Divine joy. So long as religious 
truths are accepted in cold intellectual conviction, or submitted to through hard com- 

OH.II. 1— 22.] THE PROVERBS. 45 

pulsions of dnty, they will have little power over us. But happily God has joined the 
highest truth to the purest gladness. Wisdom is a pleasure to those who welcome it to 
their hearts. The acquisition of all knowledge is pleasurable. The knowledge of God 
is joined with peculiar spiritual delights. In rejoicing in tliis and in love to the incarna- 
tion of this wisdom in Christ, we have the strongest safeguard against temptation. 

Ver. 14. — Bejoicing to do evil. We often insist upon the fact that gooilness is tha 
secret of true happiness, and invite men to rejoice in the service of God ; but we are 
here reminded of an opposite kind of joy which some find in the course of wickedness. 

I. This is a possible experience. It is so unnatural that one who knew nothing 
of the world might well declare it to be impossible. But experience provts its existence, 
and the explanation of it is not far to seek. 1. Naturally desirable ends lend a sense of 
pleasure to the evil means by which they are sought. The miser loves his money on its 
own account through previous associations with the ideas of what it might purchase. 
So the criminal may come to delight in his crimes because the profit he gets out of them 
has cast a glamour over the ugly deeds themselves. 2. Some pleasures are sinful. 
Then the whole course, end as well as means, is wicked; yet, as it concerns self- 
indulgence, a wicked glee accompanies it. 3. There is a sense of freedom in sin. There 
is more room to range at large over the broad way than in the narrow path of righteous- 
ness. The sinner has burst the shackles of law, and he revels in the licence of si'lf-will. 
4. Sin gives an opportunity for the exercise of power. Much evil is done simply for the 
sake of effect, in order that the doer of it may find him»elf producing results. But it is 
easier to do harm than to do good. Therefore a man turns to evil for the larger realiza- 
tion of his power. So wicked children delight in picking flies to pieces. 

II. This is a sign of advanced wickedness. 1. At first it is painful to sin. The 
poor, weak soul gives way to temptation, but the very act of sinning is accompanied 
with a sense of uneasiness and humiliation. 2. A further stage is reached when sin i$ 
committed with indifference. This is indeed a state of moral degradation, for conscience 
is now practically dead, and the sinner is as willing to have his pleasure by lawless 
means as in an innocent manner. 3. The lowest depth is reached when there is a posi- 
tive pleasure in doing wrong. Evil is then chosen on its own account, and not as the 
disagreeable or the indifferent means for reaching some ulterior end. When two courses 
are open, the bad one is deliberately selected as the more pleasant on its own account. 
A malignant joy lights up the countenance of the abandoned sinner at the mere prospect 
of some new villainy. This is Satanic wickedness. The abandoned sinner can now 
exclaim with Milton's Satan — 

" Evil, be thou my good I " 

III. This is a delusive jot. 1. It is shallow. Though it may be excited into a dia- 
bolical ecstasy, it has no heart-satisfying qualities. Beneath it there is profound unrest. 
The peace which accompanies the joy of holiness, and which is the sweetest ingredient 
in the cup of the good man, is quite wanting here. There are shooting pangs, dark 
misgivings, and dread sinkings of heart in the midst of this monstrous delight. 2. It 
will not endure. The pleasures of sin do but endure for a season. The sweet morsels 
soon turn to dust and ashes. After the wild orgie there follows deep depression or dread 
despair, or at best a sense of listless weariness. The appetite is soon exhausted. New 
ami more piquant forms of wickedness must be invented to stimulate the jaded palate. 
At length the awful consequences must come, and anguish of soul follow the delights of 
sin when God's judgment takes effect. 

Ver. 16. — -Crooked ways. I. Chocked ways abb deviations fkom the stkaiqhi 
PATHS OF MOBAL SIMPLICITY. The man of high character is simple in conduct. Great 
complexity of motive is generally a sign of moral laxity. The way of right is straight 
because it makes for its goal without any considerations of expediency, danger, or 
pleasure. To be turned aside from the steep Hill of Difficulty, or into By-path Meadow, 
is to forsake the right for selfish ease. When men allow considerations of momentary 
advantage to guide their actions, they will be perpetually swayed from side to side till 
their track is marked by an irregular " zigzag." " The expressinn of truth," says Seneo% 
* ia simplicity." 

46 THE PROVERBS. [oh. n. 1—22. 

II. Ckooked ways aeb signs of lack of pbinciplb. Principles are like the rails 
on which the train runs, keeping it in a direct course and facihtating its speed. The 
unprincipled man is off the rails, and the result is confusion. Like a ship without 
compass, rudder, or chart, the un)irincipled man diifts with wind and tide, and so leaves 
behind him a crooked track. The security for straightforward conduct is the guidance 
of a deep-seated principle of righteousness. 

III. Obooked ways result pkom short-sighted aims. The lane which is made, 
bit by bit, from farm to farm, is likely to wind about ; but the old Roman high-road 
that connects two distant cities runs as directly as possible. The ploughman who looks 
no further than his horses' heads will make a crooked furrow ; to go straight he must 
fix his eyes on the end of the field. He who regards only present circumstances will 
wander aimlessly. To go right we must look out of self to Christ ; beyond present 
expediency to the full purpose and end of life ; above all earthly pursuits to the goal of 
the life eternal. 

IV. Crooked ways abb deceitful ways. Bad men often fear to go straisht towards 
their evil aims lest they shall be discovered. They beat about the bush. The assassin 
avoids the high-road and slinks along under a hedge, that he may come upon his victim 
unawares. The thief breaks into the house by the back door. Honesty is direct ; dis- 
honesty is circuitous. Crooked ways tend to become deceitful, if they are not so of set 
purpose. A man may wander in them till he has lost account of the points of the com- 
pass, and knows not whiiher he is going. The most elementary notions of right and 
wrong are then confused. This is the common issue of casuistic and disingenuous 
conduct ; it results in self-deception. 

V. Crooked ways lead to a fatal end. The way to heaven is to " turn to the 
right, and keep straight on." The road that leads to destruction is broad, admitting of 
much irregularity of motion from one side to the other. It is the straight and narrow 
way that leads to life. 


Vers. 1 — 9. — The conditions of religious knowledge. The previous chapter having 
shown us in a variety of representations the necessity and the worth of wisdom, the 
question is now dealt with — How shall it be sought and attained ? 

I. Conditions on man's bide. The enumeration is climactic, proceeding from the 
less strong to the stronger expressions. 1. Receptivity. The open mind and heart, 
ever ready to " adopt " true sentiments and appropriate them as one's own. The 
point is not to ask — Who says this? By what channel does it come to me ? But — 
Is it sound ? is it true ? If so, it is for me, and shall be made my own. Truth is 
common property. 2. Attention, concentration, assimilation. "Keeping her com- 
mands with us." The' thorough student finds it necessary to exercise his memory, and 
to help it by the use of note-books, where he hives his knowledge. So must we hive 
and store, arrange and digest, our religious impressions, which otherwise "go in at one 
ear and out at the other." Short germ-sayings may be thus kept in the memory ; 
they will burst into fertility some day. 3. Active application. In figurative language 
" bi nding the ear " and " turning the heart " in the desired direction. The mind must 
not be passive in religion. It is no process of "cramming," but of personal, original, 
spiritual activity tliroughout. 4. Passionate craving and prayerfulness. "Calling 
Sense to one's side, and raising one's voice to Prudence" — to give another rendering to 
ver. 3. We must invoice the spirit of Wisdom for the needs of daily conduct; thus 
placing ourselves in living relation with what is our true nature. Fra Angelico 
prayed before his easel; Cromwell, in his tent on the eve of battle. So must the 
thinker in his study, the preacher in his pulpit, the merchant at his desk, if he would 
have the true clearness of vision and the only genuine success. True prayer is always 
for the universal, not the private, good. 5. Persevering and laborious exertion. 
Illustrated by the miner's toil. The passage (Job xxviii.), of extraordinary picturesque 
power and interest, describing the miner's operations, may help us to appreciate the 
illustration. The pursuit of what is ideal is still more arduous tlian that of the 
material, as silver and gold. It is often said that the perseverance of the unholy 

CH. II. 1—22.] THE PROViiilBS. 

worker shames the sloth of the spiritual man. But let us not ignore the oth'jr sile. 
The toil in the spirituiil rt'gion is not obvious to the eye like the other, but is not the 
less really practised in silence by thousands of faithful souls. We should reflect on 
the immense travau of soul it has cost to produce the liook which stirs us like a new 
force, though it may appear to flow with consummate ease from the pen. Such are 
the conditions of "undei standing the fear of Jehovah," or, in modern language, of 
appropriating, making religion our own; "receiving the things of the Spirit of God," 
in the language of St. Paul (1 Cor. ii. 14). It is the highest human possession, 
because permanent, inalienable, and preservative amidst life's ills. 

II. Conditions on the side op God. If religion be the union or identification 
of the soul with God, he must be related to us in such a way as maltes this possible. 
I. He is wisdom's Source and Giver. He not only contains in himself that knowli dge 
which, reflected in us, becomes prudence, sense, wisdom, piety ; he is an active Will 
and a gell-communicating Spirit. The ancients haJ a glimpse of this when they said 
that the gods were not of so grudging or envious a nature as not to reveal their good 
to men. God is self-revealing ; " freely gives of his things " to us, that we may know, 
and in knowing, possess them. 2. His wisdom is saving. " Sound wisdom " (ver. 7) 
may be better rendered soundness, or salvation, or health,. or saving health. It seems to 
come from a root signifying the essential nr actual. Nothing is essential but health for 
sensuous enjoyment; nothing but health, in the larger sense, for spiritUHl enjoyment. 
Let US think of God as himself absolute Health, and thus the Giver of all health and 
happiness to his creatures. 3. He is Protector of the faithful. The Hebrew imagina- 
tion, informed by constant scenes of war, delights to represent him as the Buckler or 
Shield of his servants (Ps. xviii. 2; xxxiii. 20; Ixxxix. 10). Those who "walk in 
innocence" seem to bear a charmed life. They " fear no evil," for he is with them. 
The vast sky is their tent-roof. They may he slain, but cannot be hurt. To be 
snatched from this world is to be caught to his arms. 4. He is eternal Justice. Being 
this in himself, the "way of his saints," which is synonymous with human rectitude, 
cannot be indifferent to him. Eight is the highest idea we can associate with God. 
It is exempt from the possible suspicion of weakness or misdirection which may cleave 
to the mere idea of goodness or kindness. It essentially includes might. Thus the 
soul finds shelter beneath this vast and majestic conception and faith of its God. 
These, then, aie the conditions, Divine and human, of religion. That we may realize it 
in ourselves, "understand right, justice, and equity" — in a word, "every good way" 
of life and thought, uniting piety with morality — the conditions must be faithfully 
fulfilled. Perfect bodily health may not he attainable; some of its conditions lie 
without the sphere of freedom, and within that of necessary law. Spiritual health ii 
attainable, for it lies within the sphere of freedom. Then God is realized; it is the 
ether of the soul, and the region of love and light and blessedness. — J. 

Vers. 10—22. — The profit of' religious knowledge. It is preservative amidst the 
influences of evil example and of sensuous solicitation. 

I. The way in which it acts as a pebsbbvative. 1. By taking up a central 
place in the consciousness. " When wisdom enters thy heart, and knowledge is dear 
to thy soul." Not as a stranger or mere guest, but a beloved and confidential intimate. 
The heart denotes here, as elsewhere, " the centre and organic basis of the collective 
life of the soul, the seat of sentiment, the starting-point of personal self-determination." 
The soul, as used by Hebrew writers, denotes the entire assemblage of the passive and 
active principles of the innei life. Delitzsch terms the heart, as used in the Bible, "the 
birthplace of thought ; " and this is true, because thought springs out of the dim chaos 
of feeling as the defined crystals from the chemical mixture. 2. By counteractive 
force. If the inmost thing we know and feel be a sense of right and a sense of God, 
a pure sentiment and a lofty idea, this must exclude the baser feeimgs, and displace 
the images of pleasure and objects of desire which are unlawf^l and undivine. There 
is watch and ward in the fortress of Man-soul against the enemy and the intruder. 
The " expulsive force of a new affection " operates. It is the occupied heart that alone 
is temptation-proof. " Discretion shall watch over thee, prudence guard thee." The 
mind, directed to what is without, and feeling for its course among uncertainties, thui 
"tppeara forearmed against dangers. 

48 THE PEOVEBBS. [oh. ii. 1—22. 

II. The dangers pbom which it preserves. Social dangers. In society lies onr 
field of full moral development, both in sympathy with the good and in antipathy to 
the evil. Two dangers are particularized. 1. The influence of the had man. We know 
men by their talk and by their actions — their habit in both; their "style," their 
" form," in the expressive language of the day. (1) His talk is of " froward things/' or 
" perversities " — cunning, crafty, malicious in spirit (ver. 12). Literally it is crooked talk, 
which is a relative term — the direct opposite of the " straightness " of ver. 9 being meant. 
Our moral intuitions appear in the mind under the analogy of relations in space, and 
are thus designated probably in all languages. The right line and the curve or zigzag 
represent what we/ee? about good and evil in conduct. The speech of evil insinuation, 
covert suggestion, had tone, generally may be meant ; or perhaps, rather, guilty topics 
of conversation. The East is more leisurely in its habits than are we; and the warning 
has peculiar adapfation to the unfilled hours of an easy life, and which bad talk so often 
wastes and corrupts. (2) His habit of life. He forsakes the " straight paths " to walk 
iu " dark ways," such as those alluded to by St. Paul (Rom. xiii. 13 ; Eph. v. 11 ; 
1 Thess. V. 5). In the like sense that darkness is antipathetic to us, is moral evil 
(hence its appropriateness as an emblem) ; we may overcome the feeling partially, but 
only by doing ourselves a violence. It is a step further in self-perversion to " take 
pleasure in the execution of evil, and to make merry over wickedness." Human nature 
demands sympatliy ; the most depraved cannot do without it or the semblance of it. 
We are always craving the sight of that which I'eflects us ; hence the sight of evil 
gives joy to the bad man, the sight of good enrages him. For he is a deformity. His 
ways are crooked, twisted all his mode of mind and life; a moral deformity. The 
conscience, armed with the healthy perception of the true, beautiful, and good, sees all 
this in the bad man, recognizes him for what he is, and so is proof against him. One 
great lesson of Goethe's 'Faust' is that the tempted man does not see the devil in 
human shape, because his moral temper has been first unstrung, and so his vision 
vitiated. 2. The solicitations of the had woman. The expressions, " strange, foreign " 
(ver. 16), appear to designate her as the wife of another, an adulteress (comp. ch. vi. 26 ; 
but the sense is disputed). To allegorize the passage is to weaken its force ; for the 
actual dangers of youth are clearly indicated. She is depicted in the strongest light of 
reality. This is what she is in the view of the inspired conscience. (1) Her infidelity 
to her husband and her God (ver. 17). For marriage is a bond, not only between two 
human beings, but between each and God. Affiance is the glory of womanhood ; to 
break her plighted troth is to wreck all her true charm and beauty. " Companion of 
her youth" is a beautiful designation of the husband (Jer. iii. 4; Ps. Iv. 14). (2) 
Her dangerous arts. Oh, what can replace a youth defiled? or what more dangerous 
influence can there be than that of her whose " hatred is goaded by shame " — hatred 
against the virtue which confronts to reproach her ? Her smooth tongue, flattering her 
victim with simulated admiration, and with the "hyppcrisy of passion," is more deadly 
than the sword. (3) Her deadly seductions. Death, the kingdom of the shades, the 
ghosts who lead, according to the view of the ancient world, a faint and bloodless 
existence below, is the end of her and the partakers of her sins. To She61, to 
Hades, the bourne whence no traveller returns, the steps of all her visitors tend. Her 
house seems ever to be tottering over the dark abyss. The truth held in this tragic 
picture is too obvious to need further illustration. Fatal to health of body, to peace 
of soul, to the very life itself, is the zymotic disease of lust. To the religious conscience 
thus the harlot appears ; stripped of her paint and finery, her hypocrisy exposed, the 
poison of her being detected. It is the shadow of a life, and ends in emptiness, 
darkness, and ghostly gibbering. — J. 

Vers. 20—22. — The principle of moral stability. This may be regarded as tha 
epilogue or summary of the whole chapter. The object of all Wisdom's exhortations 
and warnings is the direction of youth to the good way, and that they may hold on the 
path of the just. For — 

I. The righteous have a future before them. A "dwelling in the land" 

the home-land; sound dear to an Israelitish ear. The fwrn in which the happy 
future shall be realized may be first material, but only to pass into the spiritual. For 
ages Iwael saw the promise under tha image of material proaperity ; afterwards, in tiw 

OH. II. 1—22.] THE PROVERBS. i9 

purification and enlightenment of her conscience by the gospel, she looked for a " better 
country, that is, an heavenly." Both senses may be included. The enlightened spirit 
know8 how to idealize every material content, and will leave much undefined in the 
prospect. Enough to say of all the seekers of God's kingdom and righteousness, 
" They have a future before them." The soul itself suffices to itself for the scene of 
bliss, and converts the rich land of Canaan into the type of its inward joys and harvests 
of good. 

II. The wicked have no putube before them. That is, in the sense far excellence. 
Their doom is to be rooted out and cast forth from the land. What lies behind the 
material figure, who can say?. To conceive it transcends the bounds of human 
thought. There is no travelling out of the analogies of experience possible. We reach 
at last a negative conception in the case both of future bliss and future woe. The 
Buddhists aim as their highest goal at the Nirvana, which is the negation of finite 
existence with its defects and evils. What must be the Nirvana of the wicked ? The 
negation of the Infinite must mean confinement in self, and this is death indeed. They 
who have persistently said " No " to God and the good in their life will be confronted 
by an everlasting "No!" And thus again the wheel comes full circle, and they 
reap as they sow (comp. Matt. vii. 24 — 27). — J. 

Vers. 1 — 9. — 2%e course, the goal, and the prize of wisdom. These are comprehen- 
sive verses ; they include the three main features of the heavenly race. 

I. The course of the wisdom- seeker. He who searches for wisdom is a wise 
runner in a heavenly race ; he is pursuing an end which the Divine Author of his being 
distinctly and emphatically commends. 1. His search for life-giving truth must be 
characterized by readiness to receive. He must be wholly different in spirit from those 
who are disinclined to learn ; still more must he be far removed from those who scorn- 
fully reject; he must be a son who "will receive the words" of wisdom — the words of 
the " only wise God," of him who is " the Wisdom of God " (ver. 1). 2. But there 
must be not only readiness; there should be eagerness to receive. He must " incline his 
ear " (ver. 2). Not only be prepared to listen when Wisdom speaks, but make a distinct 
and positive effort to learn the truth which affects him and which will bless him. 3. 
Beyond this, there must be carefulness to retain. The student must not let his mind 
be a sieve through which knowledge passes and from which it is readUy lost ; he must 
make it a reservoir which will retain; he is to "hide God's commandments" within 
him (ver. 1), to take them down into the deep places of the soul whence they will not 
escape. 4. Further, there must be perseverance in the search. He must " apply his 
heart to understanding " (ver. 2). Not by " fits and starts" is the goal to bo reached, 
but by steady, patient, continuous search. 5. And there must also be enthusiasm, in 
the endeavour (vers. 3, 4). With the impassioned earnestness with which a man who 
is lost in the pathless wood, or is sinking under the whelming wave, " cries " and "lifts 
up his voice," should the seeker after heavenly wisdom strive after the goal which is 
before him. With the untiring energy and inexhaustible ardour with which men toil 
for silver or dig for the buried treasure of which they believe themselves to have found 
the secret, should the soul strive and search after the high end to which God is 
calling it. 

II. The GOAii HE wiiiL SURELY REACH. He who thus seeks for heavenly truth 
will attain that to which he is aspiring ; " for the Lord giveth wisdom," etc. (ver. 6). 
There is no man who desires to be led into the path of that Divine wisdom which con- 
stitutes the life and joy of the soul, and who pursues that lofty and holy end in the 
spirit here commended, who will fail to reach the goal toward which he runs. That 
earnest and patient runner shall be helped of God ; Divine resources shall be supplied 
to him; he shall run without weariness, he shall walk without fainting, till the winning- 
post is clasped (see Matt. v. 6 ; vii. 7, 8). 1. He shall apprehend the essential elements 
of religion. " Thou shalt understand the fear of the Lord " (ver. 5). He will be led 
into a spiritual apprehension of that which constitutes the foundation and the essence 
of all true piety. He will be able to distinguish between the substance and the 
shadow, the reality and the pretence of religion. 2. He shall also — and this is a still 
greater thing — attain to a vital and redeeming krwwledye of Ood himself. "Thou 
shalt find the knowledge of Ood " (ver. 6). To know him is eternal life (John xviL 3). 

60 THE PBOVEBBS. [oh. n. 1—22. 

But thi8 knowledge must be — what in the case of the earnest disciple of heavenly 
wisdom it will become — a vital knowledge ; it must be of the whole spiritual natuie, 
and not only of the intellectual faculty. It must be a knowledge which (1) engages 
Ibe whole powers of the spirit; (2) which brings joy to the ioul; (3) which leads to 
an honest effort after God-likeness. 

III. The prize he will win. It may be truly said that the runner in the race 
finds a deeper satisfaction in clasping the goal while his competitors are all behind him in wearing the chaplet of honour on his brows. And it maybe truly said that the 
must blessed guerdon which the heavenly runner wins is in that knowledge of Qoi 
wliich is his " goal " rather than in the after-honours which are his "prize." Yet we 
may well cnvet with intense eagerness the prize which Wisdom holds in her hand for 
those who are victorious. It includes much. 1. Stores of deep spiritual verities. " He 
Liyeth up sound wisdom,'' etc. (ver. 7) — greater and deeper insight into the most pro- 
found and precious truth. 2. Discernment of all practical wisdom. " Thou ghalt 
understand righteousness, and judgment, and equity; yea, every good path" (ver. 9). 
3. Divine guardianship along all the path of life. *' He is a Buckler to them that walk 
uprightly. He keepeth the paths of judgment," etc. (vers. 7, 8). — 0. 

Vers. 10 — 15. — 2%e course of sin and the strength of righieousnest. We have here 
portrayed for us — 

1. The shocking course op sin. 1. It begins in departure from rectitude. Evil 
men first manifest their error by " leaving the paths of uprightness." They were once 
under the wholesome restraints of righteousness. Parental control, the influences of 
the sanctuary and of virtnous society, held them in check, but these are thrown off; 
they have become irksome, and they are rebelled against and abandoned. The old and 
wise principles which were received and cherished are one by one discarded, and they 
stand unshielded, imguided, ready to wander in forbidden paths. 2. It continues in 
the practice of evil. Having thrown off old restraints, they " walk in the ways of dark- 
ness " (ver. 13) ; they proceed to do, habitually, those things which the unenlightened 
do — those things which shun the light and love the darkness ; deeds of error and of 
shame. 3 It resorts to despicable shifts. "Whose ways are crooked" (ver. 15). 
Sin cannot walk straight on ; it would be soon overtaken by penalty, or fall over the 
precipice. It is like men pursued of justice, who have to turn and double that they 
may elude those who are behind. The course of sin is twisted and tortuous ; it resorts 
to c'jnning and craftiness. All manliness is eaten out of it; it has the spirit and 
habit of a slave (see Bom. vi. 16). 4. It hardens into utter perversity. They " are 
fro ward in their paths" (ver. 15); they "speak froward things" (ver. 12), {.e. they 
sink down into complete hardihood and spiritual stubbornness; their hearts are turned 
aside from all that is devout, pure, wise, and they have gone utterly after that which 
is profane and base. 5. It cvdminates in a hateful and hurtful propagandism. They 
" rejoice to do evil, and delight in the frowardness of the wicked" (ver. 14). Sin can 
go no further in enormity, no deeper in abasement, than when, rejoicing in iniquity, it 
seeks to lead others into the same guilt and vileness with itself. What a pitiful 
zenldtry is this — the anxiety and pertinacity of sin in winning from the paths of 
rectitude the children of innocence and truth 1 What a saddening thought that 
thousands of our fellow-men are actively occupied in this diabolical pursuit! 

II. The peril of piety and virtue. Here, on earth, the purest virtue must 
walk side by side with the worst depravity. Sin sits down at the same hearth with 
goodness; profanity with piety. And thus brought into close contact, it is open to 
one to win or to seduce the other. We rejpice that godliness is seeking to gain impiety 
for God, but we mourn and tremble as we see sin seeking to pervert purity and good- 
ness from " the right ways of the Lord." We are all open to human influence. The 
Deart of man is responsive to human entreaty and example. But especially so is the 
heart of youth : that is tender, impressionable, plastic. Perhaps never a day passes but 
the sun looks down, in every land, on some young heart detached from truth, led into 
the path of evil, stained with sin, through the snares and wiles of guilty men. Who 
docs not sigh with some feeling of solicitude as he sees the young njan go forth from 
the shelter of the godly home into the world' where the wicked wait, "rejoicing tft d» 
evil," and taking piide in the destruction they produce? 

OH. n. 1—22.] THE PE0VERB3. 61 

III. Tbe strength and seooeitt of RiaHTBousNBSS. When wisdom enters the 
heart and knowledge is pleasant to the soul, then discretion wiU preserve, and under- 
standing will keep us (vers. 10, 11). In other words, the cordial acceptance of the truth 
(if God is the one security against sin. Delighting to do God's will, his Law being in the 
heart as well as in the understanding (Ps. xl. 8), this will prove an effectual breakwater 
against the tides of evil. He that can say, " Lord, how love I thy Law ! " (Ps. cxix.) 
will never have to utter words of bitter remorse and black despair. Would youth 
know the certain path of victory, and pursue that way which leads, not down to shame, 
but on and up to heavenly glory? 1. Let it regard with earnest gaze him who is the 
Wisdom of Ged in fullest revelation to the sons of men. 2. Yield to him its early, 
unbounded love. 3. Then will it find unfading joy in the Divine truth which flowed 
from his lips, and which shone in his holy life. Whoio believes in him shall never be 
confounded . — C. 

Vers. 16 — 19. — Hie way of sin ; a sermon to yovng men. Reference is made here to 
one particular sin. While the words of the teacher are specially appropriate to it, they 
will also apply to all sin ; they show the way it takes. Let us see — 

I. That sin is the contradiction of the Divine thought. It is a " strange " 
thing (ver. 16). The painted harlot is "the strange woman." And while the prosti- 
tution of a human being, meant to be a helpmeet for man in all his highest and holiest 
pursuits to a mere ministress to his unlawful lusts, is the very saddest departure from 
the Divine ideal, and amply justifies the use of the word " strange woman," we may 
remember that oM sin is a strange thing in the universe of God. How it ever entered 
there is the problem which can never be solved. But meeting with it here, in what- 
ever form, we say, " This is the contrary of the thonght of the Supreme," " This is the 
exact opposite of his design," " This ia something alien, unnatural, intrusive: cannot we 
cast it out?" 

n. That sin must stoop to falsehood if it will win its wat. It " flattereth 
with its words " (ver. 16). Flattery is only another name for a sweet falsehood. The 
woman that ia a sinner uses flattery to accomplish her ends. So sin cannot liva 
without lying. That may be said of sin which was said of a great European usurper, 
that it " has deliberately taken falsehood into its service." But the most effective and 
destructive form of it is flattery. Let the young take earnest heed to their danger. 
When the lips of beauty speak soft and gratifying things, let purity beware ; it is only 
too likely that temptation in its most seductive form is nigh, and that character and 
reputation are being insidiously assailed. 

III. That sin sinks to its darkest depths through various violations. 
(Ver. 17.) It is uncertain whether by the " guide of her youth" is to be understood 
her husband (see Mai. ii. 14, 15), her parents, or her God. The second clause clearly 
refers to the marriage covenant, which is regarded as a sacred bond. Whichever be the 
correct view of the former clause, it is certain that the sinner of the text could only 
descend to her shameless depth by violating every promise she has made, by_ breaking 
through every fence which once stood between her and guilt. This is the inevitable 
course of sin. It violates first one vow, then another, until all sacred promises are 
broken. (1) Deliberate resolutions, (2) solemn assurances, (3) formal vows ; — all are 

IV. That sin leads straight to the doorway of death. (Vers. 18, 19.) It 
leads: 1. To physical death. Vice carries with it a penalty in the body; it robs of health 
and strength ; it enfeebles ; it sows seeds of sickness and death. The «' graves of lust " 
are in every cemetery and churchyard in the land. 2. To spiritual death. " None 
that go unto her return again " as they went. Men come away from every unlawful 
indulgence other than they go — weaker and worse in soul. Alas for the morrow of 
incontinence, of whatever kind it be! The soul is injured; its self-respect is slain, its 
force is lessened ; it is on the incline which slopes to death, and one step nearer to the 
foot of it. « Her house inclineth unto death." 3. To eternal death. They who resort 
to forbidden pleasure are fast on their way to the final condemnation; they havs 
wandered long leagues from " the paths of life." We conclude with two admonitions ; 
(1) Keep carefully away from the beginnings of evil. Shun not only the " Strang* 
woman's " door, but the evil glance, the doubtful company, the impure book, the mere- 



[oh. m. 1 — 35. 

tricious paper. (2) The way of escape is immediate and total abandonment of sin. 
Such resolution made at once, seeking God's strength and grace, will permit the 
wanderer to " return again," — 0. 

Vers. 20 — 22. — Becom^ense and retribution. It ought to be enough for us that 
wisdom is the supremely excellent thing; that the service of God is the one right 
thing. We should hasten to do that which commends itself to our conscience as that 
which is obligatory. But God knows that, in our weakness and frailty, we have need 
of other inducements than a sense cf duty ; be has, therefore, given us others. He has 
made wisdom and righteousness to be immeasurably remunerative ; he has made folly 
and sin to be utterly destructive to us. We look at — 

L The beward op wisdom. (Vers. 20, 21.) 1. The man who pursues wisdom, 
who seeks conformity to the will of the Wise One, will have holy companionship for 
the path of life. He will walk in the way in which good and righteous men walk. 
Instead of being " the companion of fools," he will be " the friend of the wise." Those 
whose hearts are pure, whose minds are stored with heavenly treasure, and whose lives 
are admirable, will be about him, making his whole path fragrant with the flowers ol 
virtue, rich with the fruits of goodness. 2. He will be upheld in personal integrity. 
Walking in the way of the good, and keeping the paths of the righteous, he himself 
will be preserved in his integrity, and be set before God's face for ever (see Ps. xU. 12). 
His feet will not slip ; he will not wander into forbidden ways ; he will keep " the King's 
highway of holiness ; " his face will be ever set toward the heavenly Jerusalem. 3. He 
will dwell in the land of plenty (ver. 21). To " dwell in the land," to " remain " in 
the land of promise, was to abide in that country where all things in rich abundance 
waited for the possession and enjoyment of the people of God (Exod. iii. 8). Those 
who are the children of wisdom now dwell in a region which is full of blessing. If 
outward prosperity be not always their portion, yet is there provided by God (1) evtry- 
thing needful for temporal well-being ; (2) fulness of spiritual privilege ; (3) the abiding 
presence and favour of the eternal Father, the unfailing Friend, the Divine Comforter. 

n. Thb fate of folly. (Ver. 22.) Those who were the children of folly in the 
wilderness-period were shut out of the land of promise ; they did not enter into rest. 
The threat of the Holy One to those who had inherited the land was deportation and 
distance from their inheritance — being " cut off" and " rooted out." The evils which 
foolish and stubborn souls have now to dread, as the just penalty of their folly and 
their frowardness, are (1) exclusion from the " kingdom of God " on earth, and (2) 
exile from the kingdom of God in heaven. Such impenitent and uaibelieving ones, by 
their own folly, cut themselves off from that " eternal life " which begins in a blessed 
and holy union with the Lord of glory here, and which is consummated and per- 
petuated in the nearer fellowship and more perfect bliss of heaven. — G, 



Vera. 1 — 18. — 4. Fourth admonitory dit- 
oourtt. The third chapter introduces us to a 
group of admonitions, and the first of these 
(ver». 1 — 18) forms the fomth admonitory dis- 
course of the teacher. To all intents and 
p urposes this is a continuation of the discourse 
in the preceding chapter, for inasmuch as that 
described the benefits, spiritual and moral, 
which follow from the pursuit of Wisdom, in 
promoting godliness and providing safety 
from evil companions, so this in like manner 
depicts the gain flowing from Wisdom, the 

happiness of the man who finds Wisdom, and 
the favour which he meets with both with 
God and man. The discourse embraces 
exhortations to obedience (vers. 1 — 4), to 
reliance on God (vers. 5, 6) against self- 
sufficiency and self-dependence (vers. 7, 8), 
to self-sacrificing devotion to God (vers. 9, 
10), to patient submission to God's afBictive 
dispensations (vers. 11, 12), and concludes 
with pointing out the happy gain of Wisdom, 
her incomparable value, and wherein that 
value consists (vers. 13 — 18). It is notice- 
able that in each case the exhortation ii 
accompanied with a corresponding promi|( 

AH. ni. 1 — 35.] 



of reward (vers, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10), and these 
promises are brought forward with the view 
to encourage the observance of the duties 
recommended or enjoined. Jehovah is the 
central point to wliioh all the exhortations 
converge. Obedience, trust, self-sacrificing 
devotion, submission, are successively brought 
forward by the teacher as due to God, and 
the persons in whom they are exhibited are 
truly happy in finding Wisdom. The transi- 
tion in thought from the former to the latter 
part of the discourse is easy and natural. 
Obedience and trust are represented as 
bringing favour, guidance, and health — ^in a 
word, prosperity. But God is not only to be 
honoured in times of prosperity, but also in 
adversity his loving hand is to be recognized ; 
and in this submission to his will is true 

Ver. 1. — My son (b'ni) serves to exter- 
nally connect this discourse with the preced- 
ing. Forget not my law. This admonition 
bears a strong resemblance to that in oh. i. 
8, though the terms employed are somewhat 
different, tordh and mitsfoth here occupying 
the place respectively of musar and torah 
in that passage. My law (torathi), is lite- 
rally, my teaching, or doctrine, from the root 
yarah, " to teach." The torah is the whole 
body of salutary doctrine, and designates 
"Law" from the standpoint of teaching. 
Forgetting here is not so much oblivion 
arising from defective memory, as a wilful 
disregard and neglect of the admonitions of 
the teacher. Thine heart QibeTchd); Vul- 
gate, eor; LXX., KapSfo; and so the sum 
total of the affections. Keep ; yitatsor, from 
notear, "to keep, or observe that which is 
commanded." The word is of frequent 
occurrence in the Proverbs, and appears about 
twenty-five times. My commandments 
(jnits'othay) ; Vulgate, prsecepta mea; LXX., 
Tck ^iifiara iiov; t.e. my precepts. The Hebrew 
verb from which it is derived means "to 
command, or prescribe." The law and com- 
mandments here alluded to are those which 
immediately follow, from ver. 3 onwards. 
The three main ideas combined in this verse 
are remembrance, affection, and obedience. 
Remembering the law or teaching will de- 
pend, to a large extent, on the interest felt 
in that law; and the admonition to "forget 
not" is an admonition to give "earnest 
heed," so that the law or teaching may be 
firmly fixed in the mind. In using the 
■words, "let thy heart keep," the teacher 
goes to the root of the matter. There- may 
be an historical remembrance of, or an intel- 
lectual assent to, the commandments, but 
these are insufficient, for the keeping of the 

commandmenta must be baaed on the recog- 
nition of the fact that the affections of the 
heart are to be employed in the service of 
God, the keeping of the commandmenta is to 
be a labour of love. Again, the expression, 
" keep my com mandments," i mplies, of course, 
external conformity to their requirements: 
we are " to observe to do them " (Deut. viii. 
1) ; but it implies, further, spiritual obedience, 
i.e. an obedience with which love is combined 
(Deut. XXX. 20), and which arises from the 
inward principles of the heart being in 
harmony with the spirit of the command- 
ments (see Wardlaw). 

Ver. 2.— Length of days (orek yamim); 
Vulgate, longitudo dierum. The expression 
is literally " extension of days," and signifies 
the prolongation of life, its duration to the 
appointed limit — a meamng which is brought 
out in the LXX. /^.TiKos plov, "length of 
days," the Greek word pios being used, not 
of existence, but of the time and course of 
life. It occurs again in ver. 16, and also in 
Job xii. 12 and Ps. xxi. 4. " Length of 
days" is represented as a blessing in the 
Old Testament, depending, however, as in the 
present instance, on the fulfilment of certain 
conditions. Thus in the fifth command- 
ment it is appended to the honouring of 
parents (Exod. xx. 12), and it was promised 
to Solomon, at Gibeon, on the condition that 
he walked in the way ,| statutes, and com- 
mandments of God (1 Kings iii. 14). The 
promise of prolongaiiou of life is not to be 
pressed historically as applying to every 
individual case, but is to be taken as indi- 
cating the tendency of keeping the Divine 
precepts, which, as a rule, ensure preserva- 
tion of health, and hence "length of days." 
long life (vush'noth khayyim); literally, 
years of life; Targum Jonathan, Vulgate, 
Svriao, and Arabic, anni vitss; LXX., txTj 
fmTJs. The Authorized Version scarcely 
serves to bring out the sense of the original, 
as there is practically no difference in mean- 
ing between " length of days" and "long life." 
The idea conveyed in the expression, "years 
of life," is that of material prosperity. The 
thought of an extended life is carried on 
from the preceding expression, but it is 
amplified and described. The years of life 
will be many, but they will be years of life 
in its truest sense, as one of true happiness 
and enjoyment, free from distraotin<>: cares, 
sickness, and other drawbacks. The Hebrew 
plural, khayyim, "Uves," is equivalent to the 
Greek expression, $los Piar6s, " a life worth 
while living" (of. Plat., ' Apol.,' 38. A). To 
the Israelitish mind, the happiness of Me 
consisted in "dwelling in the laud" (Deut 
iv 40- V. 30, etc.), and "abiding in the 
house of the Lord " (Ps. xv. 1 ; ixiii. 6 ; xxvii 
8) (Zockler) . The conjecture that the plural, 
khayyim, signifies the present and the futurs 



[oh. m. 1—85. 

life, is unfounded. The scope of the promise 
before us is confined to the present stage of 
existence, and it ia negatived also by the 
similar use of the plural in ch. xvi. 5, " In 
the light of the king's countenance is life 
Qchayyim)" where hhayyim cannot possibly 
refer to the future life. Khayyim stands for 
life in its fulness. " Godliness " has indeed, 
as St. Paul wrote to Timothy, "promise of 
the life that now is, and of that which is to 
come" (1 Tim. iv. 8). Teaeo (thalom). The 
verb eltalam, tiom which the substantive 
thalom is derived, signifies "to be whole, 
sound, safe," and hence "peace" means in- 
ternal and external contentment, and tran- 
quillity of mind arising from the sense of 
safety. In ver. 17 the ways of Wisdom are 
designated people. While, on the one hand, 
peace is represented by the psalmist as the 
possession of those who love God's Law (Ps. 
cxix. 165), on the other, it is denied the 
wicked (Isa. xlviii. 22 ; Ivii. 21). Shall they 
add to thee; i.e. shall the precepts and 
commands bring (Zockler) or heap upon 
(Muffet) thee. 

Ver. 3. — Uercy and truth (kheted vermetK) ; 
properly, love and truth; Vulgate, miseri- 
cordia et Veritas; LXX., iXetinoaivai koX 
irhrreis. With this verse begin the com- 
mandments which are alluded to in ver. 1. 
The Hebrew kheeed has to be ucderstood in 
its widest sense, though the Vulgate and the 
LXX. confine it to one aspect of its mean- 
ing, viz. that which refers to the relation of 
man to man, to the pity evoked by the eight 
of another's misfortunes, ana .o almsgiving. 
The radical meaning of the v>ord is " ardent 
desire," from the root hhasad, " to eagerly or 
ardently desire." Delitzsch describes it as 
" well-affectedness." Predicated of God, it 
indicates God's love and grace towards man ; 
predicated of man, it signifies man's love to- 
wards God, i. e. piety, or man's love towardshis 
neighbour, i.e. humanity. Where this mercy 
or love is exhibited in man it finds expression 
in (1) mutual outward help ; (2) forgiveness 
of offences ; (3) sympathy of feeling, which 
leads to interchange of thought, and so to the 
development of the spiritual life (gee Elster, 
in Zoc). The word carries with it the ideas 
of kindlint sa, hemgnity(Ta,Tgnm,benigmtas), 
and grace (Syriac, gratia). Truth {emeth) ; 
properly, firmness, or stability, and so fidelity 
in whiohone performs one's promise. Truth 
is that absolute integrity of character, both 
in word and deed, which secures' the unhesi- 
tating confidence of all ( Wardlaw). Umbreit 
and Elster designate it as inward truthful- 
ness, the pectus rectum, the very essence of a 
true man. As Ichesed excludes all selfishness 
and hate, bo emeth excludes all hypocrisy 
and dissimulation. These two virtues are fre- 
quently combined in the Proverbs (e.g. oh. xiv. 
22; XV L 16; xx. 28) and Psalms ( Ps. 

XXV. 10; xl. 11; Ivii. 4 — 11; cviii. 5; cxxxviii 
2), and, when predicated of man, indicate the 
highest normal standard of moral perfetftion 
(Zockler). The two ideas are again brought 
together in the New Testament phrase, &Ai) 
Beietv in iydmi, " to speak the truth in love " 
(Eph. iv. 15)'. There seems little ground 
for the remark of Salasius, that " mercy " 
refers to our neighbours, and "tiuth* to 
God. Each virtue, in fact, has a twofold 
reference— one to God, the other to man. 
The promise in ver. 4, that the exercise of 
these virtues procures favour with God and 
man, implies this twofold aspect. Bind them 
about thy neok ; either (1) as ornaments 
worn about the neck (Gejerus, Zockler); or 
(2) as amulets or talismans, which were worn 
from a superstitious notion to ward ofl 
danger (Umbreit and Vaihinger) ; or (3) as 
treasures which one wears atlached to the 
neck by a chain to guard against their loss 
(Hitzig); or (4) as a signet, which was 
carried on a string round the neck (Delitzsch). 
The true reference of the passage seems to 
lie between (1) and (.S). The latter adapts 
itself to the parallel expression, " Write 
them on the tablet of thine lieart," and also 
agrees with ch. vi. 21, " Tie them about thy 
neck," the idea being that of their careful 
preservation a gainst loss. The former mean- 
ing, however, seems preferable. Mercy and 
truth »re to be ornaments of the character, 
to be bound round the neck, i.e. worn at all 
times (comp. oh. i. 9, " For they shall be an 
ornament of grace unto thine head, and 
chains about thy neck." See also Gen. xli. 
42; Songof Sol.i. 10; iv.9; Ezek.xvi. 11). 
The imagery of the binding is evidently 
taken from Exod.xiii. 9 and Deut. vi. 8, and 
is suggestive of the tephillim, or phylac- 
teries. Write them upon the table of thine 
heart ; i.e. inscribe them, mercy and truth, 
deeply there, impress tliem thoroughly and 
indelibly upon thine heart, so that they may 
never be forgntlen, and may form the main- 
sjiring of your actions. The expression im- 
plies the heart is to be in entire union 
■wiih their dictates. The table Qudkh) was 
the tablet expre-sly prepared for writing by 
being polished, corresponding to the irica- 
Ki'Sioj', the writing-table of Luke i. 63, which, 
however, was probably covered with wax. 
The inscription was made with the stylus. 
The same word is used of the tables of stone, 
on which the ten commandment* were 
written with the finger of God, and allusion 
is in all probability here made to that fact 
(Exod. xxxi. 18; xxxiv. 28). The expres- 
sion, "the tables of the heart," occurs in 
oh. vii. 3; Jer. xvii. 1 (of. 2 Cor. iii. 3); 
and is used by JEschylus, ' Pro.,' 789, UXroi 
(ppevZv, "the tablets of the heart." Thii 
clause is omitted in the LXX. 
Ver. 4.— So shalt thou find (iwm'Cia)j 

on. m. 1 — 35.] 



literally, and find. A peculiar nee of the 
imperative, the imperative kal (m'tsa) with 
vau consecutive (1) being equivalent to the 
future, " thou shalt find," as in the Autho- 
rized VerBion. This construction, wliere two 
imperatives are joined, the former coiitainino: 
■n extiortation or admonition, tlie second 
a promise made on thfi condition implied in 
the first, and the second imperative beiug 
used as a future, occurs again in oh. iv. 4 ; 
vii. 2, " Keop my commandments, and live ; " 
\x. 6, " Forsake the foolish, and live ; " xx. 
13, "Open thine eyes, and thou shalt be 
satisfied with bread " (cf . Geu. xlii. 18 ; Ps. 
Kxxvii. 27; Job xxii. 21; Isa. xxxvi. 16; 
Hos. X. 12 ; Amos v. 4 — 6 ; Gesenius, § 130. 
2). Delitzsch calls this "an admonitory 
imperative ; " Bottcher, "the desponsive im- 
perative." Compare the Greek construction 
in Menander, OT5' 8ti iroi-qaov, for iroiiiffets, 
" Kno w th at this you will do." Find (matza) ; 
here simply " to attain," " obtain," not neces- 
sarily implying previous search, as in ch. 
xvil. 20. TaTour (khen). The same word 
is frequently translated " grace," and means 
the same thing; Vulgate, gratia; LXX., 
Xnpfc. For tlie expression, " to find favour " 
[matsa khen), see Gen. vi. 8 ; Exod. xxxiii. 
12 ; Jer. xxxi. 2 ; comp. Luke i. 30, Evpcs 
yip x^'" "■"C^ T^ 06^. " For thou hast found 
fevonr [or, ' grace 'j with God," spoken by 
Gabriel to the Virgin. Good understanding 
(selcd tov) ; i.e. good sagacity, or prudence. 
So Delitzsch, Bertheau, Kamph. A true 
sagacity, prudence, or penetrating judgment 
will be adjudicated by God and man to 
him who possesses the internal excellence 
of love and truth. The Hebrew eekel is 
derived from lakal, " to act wisely or pru- 
dently," and has this intellectual meaning 
in oh. xiii. 15 ; Ps. cxi. 10 (see also 1 
Sam. XXV. 3 and 2 Chron. xxx. 22). The 
Targum reads, intelleclus el he- 
nignitas,' thus throwing the adjective into 
» substantival form ; tlie Syriae, intellecius 
simply. Ewald, Hitzig, Zockler, and othei s, 
on the other hand, understand sekel as re- 
ferring to tlie judgment formed of any one, 
the favourable opinion or view which is 
entertained of him by others, and lience 
take it as reputation, or estimation. The 
man who has love and truth will be held in 
high esteem by God and man. Our objec- 
tion to this rendering is that it does not 
seem to advance the meaning of the passage 
beyond that of " favour." Another, mentioned 
by Delitzsch, is that sekel is never used in 
any other sense than that of intellectue in 
the Mishle. The marginal reading, " good 
success," ».e. prosperity, seems inadmissible 
here, as the hiph. ha^kU, " to cause to prosper," 
as in ch. xvii. 8 ; Josh. i. 7 ; Dent. xxix. 9, 
does not apply in this instance any more 
than in Ps. cxL 10, margin. In the sight 

of God and man (b'eyney elnhim r^adam) ; 
literally, in tlie eyes of Elohim and man; i.e 
according to the judgment of God and ma i 
(Zockler); Vulgate, corom Deo e< hominihus. 
A simpler form of this phrase is found in 
1 Sam. ii. 26, where Samuel is said to have 
found favour with the Lord, and also with 
men. So in Luke ii. 52 Jesus found favour 
" with God and man (irapi @ef Kal hvepd- 
ttois) " (comp. Gen. x. 9 ; Acts ii. 47 ; 
Rom. liv. 18). The two conditions of favour 
and sagacity, or prudence, are not to be 
assigned respectively to God and man (as 
Ewald and Hitzig), or that finding favour 
has reference more to God, and being deemed 
prudent refers more to man. "She sfnte- 
ment is universal. Both these conditions 
will he adjudged to the man who has mercy 
and truth by God in heaven and man on 
earth at the same time (see Delitszch). The 
LXX., " after favour," instead of the text, 
reads, " and provide good things in the 
sight of the Lord and men," quoted by St. 
Paul (2 Cor. viii. 21). 

Ver. 5.— Trust in the Lord (b'takh et- 
y'hovdh); literally, trust tn JeAoroA. Entire 
reliance upon Jehovah, implied in the' words, 
" with all thine heart," is here appropriately 
placed at the head of a series of admonitions 
which especially have God and man's re- 
lations with him in view, inasmuch as such 
confidence or trust, with its corresponding 
idea of the renunciation of reliance on self, 
is, as Zockler truly remarks, a " funda- 
mental principle of all religion." It is the 
first lesson to he learnt by all, and no less 
necessary for the Jew than for the Christian. 
Without this reliance on or confidence in 
God, it is impossible to carry out any of the 
precepts of religion. Batakh is, properly, 
"to cling to," and so passes to the meaning 
of "to confide in," "to set one's hope and 
confidence upon." The preposition el with 
Jehovah indicates the direction which the 
confidence is to take (cf. Ps. xxxvii. 3, 5). 
Lean (fiihshaen') ; Vulgate, innitaris; fol- 
lowed by el, like b'takh, with which it is 
very similar in meaning. Shaan, not used 
in kal, in hiph. signifies " to lean upon, rest 
upon," just as man rests upon a spear for 
support. Its metaphorical use, to repose 
conjidenee in, is derived from the practice 
of kings who were accustomed to appear in 
public leaning on their friends and ministers; 
cf. 2 Kings V. 18; vii. 2, 17 (Gesenius). 
The admonition does not mean that we are 
not to use our own understanding (binah), 
i.e. form plans with dis'^retion, 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 (Wardlaw) ; of. Jer. ix. 23, 24, 
" Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, 
etc. The teacher points out not only where 



[oh. in. 1 — 36, 

we are to rely, but also where we are not to 

Ver. 6. — ^In all thy ways. This expres- 
sion covers the whole area of life's action — 
all its acts and undertakings, its spiritual 
and secular sides, no less than its public and 
private. It guards against our acknow- 
ledging God in great crises and solemn acts 
of svorship only (Plumptre). Acknowledge 
(daehu); Vulgate, cogita; LXX., yvJipi^e. 
The Hebrew verb yada signifies " to know, 
recognize." To acknowledge God is, there- 
fore, to recognize, in all our dealingii and 
undertakings, God's overruling providence, 
which " shapes our ends, rough-hew them 
as we will." It is not a mere theoretical 
acknowledgment, but one that engages the 
whole energies of the soul (Delitzsch), 
and sees in God power, wisdom, providence, 
goodness, and justice. Tliis meaning is con- 
veyed by the Vulgate coyitare, which is " to 
consider" in all parts, "to reflect upon." 
David's advice to his son Solomon is, " Kuow 
thon (ola) the God of thy father." We 
may well acknowledge Jehovah ; for he 
"knoweth the way of the righteous" (Ps. 
i. 6). Acknowledging God also implies that 
we first ascertain whether what we are 
about to take in hand is in accordance with 
hig precepts, and then look for his direction 
and illumination (Wardlaw). And he shall 
direct thy paths (vfhu y'yashsher or'khothey- 
kd); i.e. he himself shall make them 
straight, or level, removing all obstacles out 
of the way; or they shall, under God's 
direction, prosper and come to a successful 
issue ; they shall be virtuous, inasmuch as 
deviation into vice will be guarded against, 
and happy, because they are prosperous. 
The pronoun v'hu is emphatic, "he him- 
self; " Vulgate, et ipse. Yashar, piel, is "to 
make a way straight," as in oh. ix. 15 ; iv. 
21; xi. 5. Of. the LXX. opBorofu'iv, "to 
cut straight" (see on ch. xi. 5). God here 
binds liimself by a covenant (Lapide). Tliis 
power is properly attributed to God, for " it 
is not in man to direct hia steps " ( Jer. x. 

Ver. 7. — Be not wise in thine own eyes. 
This admonition carries on the thought from 
the preceding verses (5, 6), approaching it 
from a different direction. It is a protest 
against self-sufficiency, self-conceit, and self- 
reliance. It says, in effect, "Trust in the 
Lord, do not trust in yourself." Wisdom, as 
Michaelis remarks, is to trust in God; to 
trust in yourself and in your own wisdom 
is unwisdom. God denounces this spirit: 
" Woe onto them that are wise in their own 
tyes, and prudent in their own sight 1 " (Isa. 
V. 21), because such a spirit leads to the 
prohibited self-dependence, and is inconsis- 
tent with "the fear of the Lord." The 
precept of the text is reiterated by St. Paul, 

especially in Rom. xii. 16, " Be not wise is 
your own conceits" (cf. 1 Oor. viii. 8; Gal. 
vi. 3). It commends humility. The diligent 
search for Wisdom is commanded. The great 
hindrance to all true wisdom is the thought 
that we have already attained it (Flumptre). 
In thine own eyes ; i.e. in thine own estima- 
tion ; arhitrio tuo (Trem. et Jun.). Fear the 
Lord, and depart from evil. The connection 
of this with the first part of the verse becomes 
clear upon reflection. " The fear of the 
Lord " is true wisdom (Job xxviii. 28 : ch. 
i. 7). Pear the Lord, therefore, because it 
is the best corrective of one's own wisdom, 
which engenders arrogance, pride, presump- 
tion of mind, which, moreover, is deceptive 
and apt to lead to sin. The fear of the Lord 
has this other advantage — that it leads to 
the departure from evil (ch. xvi. 6). It is 
the mark of the wise man that he fears the 
Lord, and departs from evil (cli. xiv. 16). 
These precepts form the two elements of 
practical piety (Dclitzseh), an eminent ex- 
ample of which was Job (Job i. 1). 

Ver, 8. — It shall be health to thy navel, 
and marrow to thy bones. A metaphorical 
expression, denoting the complete spiritual 
health which shall follow from fearing the 
Lord and departing from evil. Health, 
(ripl^uth); properly, AeaZmj ; LXX., iSurts; 
Vmgate, eanitas; so Syriac and Arabic. The 
Targum Jonathan Imamedicina, "medicine," 
as the margin. The root rapha is properly 
" to sew together," and the secondary mean- 
ing, " to heal," is taken from the healing of a 
wound by sewing it up. Delitzsch, however, 
thinks riph'uth is not to be taken as a restora- 
tion from sickness, but as a raising up from 
enfeebled health, or a confirming of the 
strength which already exists. There shall 
be a continuance of health. Geseniui 
translates "refreshment." To thy navel 
(JHelwr'rekha); Vulgate, umli'Mcoiwo; so Tar- 
gum Jonathan. Slior is " the navel," here 
used synecdochically for the whole body, 
just as "head" is put for the whole man 
(Judg. V. 30), " mouth " for the whole person 
speaking (oh. viii. 13), and " slow bellies " 
for depraved gluttons (Titus 1. 12) (Gejems, 
Umbreit). The idea is expressed in the 
LXX., Syriac, and Arabic by "to thy body" 
(t^ aiifiuTi <rou; corpori tuo). The navel is 
here regarded as the centre of vital strength. 
For the word, see Cant. vii. 2 ; Ezek. xvi. 4. 
This is the only place in the Proverbs where 
this word is ■found. Gesenius, however, 
takes ehor,fiT I'ahor'rehha, as standing col- 
lectively for the nerves, in which, he says, 
is the seat of strength, and translates ac- 
cordingly, " Health (i.e. refreshment) shall 
it be to thy nerves." Marroa (thik^kuy); 
literally, watering or moistening, as in the 
margin; Vulgate, irrigatio. Moistening is 
imparted to the bones by the marrow, and 

OH. m. 1—35.] 



thus they are strengthened : " His hones are 
moistened with marrow" (Joh xxi. 24). 
Where there is an absence of marrow the 
drying up of the bones ensues, and hence 
their strength is impaired, and a general 
debility of tlie system sets in — they " wax 
old" (Ps. xxxii. 3). The effect of a brolien 
spirit is tlius described : " A broken spirit 
drieth up the bones" (oh. xvii. 22). The 
physiological fact here brouglit forward is 
borne witness to by Cicero, ' In Tusc. : ' " In 
visceribus atque medullis omne bouum con- 
didisse naturam" (cf. Plato). .The meaning 
of the passage is that, as health to the navel 
and marrow to tlio bones stand as representa- 
tives of physical strength, so the fear of the 
Liord, etc., is the spiritual strength of God's 

Ver. 9. — Honour the lord with thy sub- 
stance, etc. An exhortation to self-sacri- 
fioing devotion by the appropriation and use 
of wealth to the service of Jehovah. With 
thy gubstance (mehonehhd) ; Vulgate, de tuu 
tubstantia ; LXX., &irh cwv SiKaiav nSi^wy. 
Bon, properly " liglitness," is "opulence," 
" wealth," as in ch. i. 13. The min in com- 
position with hon is not partitive, as 
Delitzsoh andBertheau lake it, but signifies 
" with " or " by means of," as in Ps. xxviii. 
7 ; Isa. Iviii. 12 ; Ezek. xxviii. 18 ; Obad. 9. 
The insertion of Sixaios by the LXX. limits 
the wealth to that which is justly acquired, 
and so guard-i against the erroneous idea 
that God is honoured by tlio appropriation 
to his use of unlawful wealth or gain 
(Plumptre). The Israelites " honoured Je- 
hovah with their substance" when they 
contributed towards the erection of the 
tabernacle in the wilderness, and later when 
they assisted in the preparations for the 
building of the temple, and in the payment 
of tithes. The injunction may undoubtedly 
refer to tithes, and is in accordance with the 
requiryment of the Mosaic Law on that and 
other points as to oblations, free-will offer- 
ings, etc. ; but it has a wider bearing and 
contemplates the use of wealth for all pious 
a. id charitable purposes (see ch. xiv. 31). 
The word maaser, " tithe," does not occur in 
tlie Proverbs. With the firstfruits (mere- 
thith) ; Vulgate, de primitiu. So Targum 
Jonathan, Syriac, and Arabic. The law of 
the firstfruits is found in ExihI. xxii. 29; 
xxiii. 19 ; xxxiv. 20 ; Lev. xxiii. 10 ; Numb. 
xviii. 12 ; Deut. ivlii. 4 ; xxvi. 1 — 3. The 
fiistfruits were presented by every Israelite 
to the priests, in token of gratituile and 
humble thankfulness to Jehovah, and con- 
sisted of the produce of the land in its 
natural state, or prepared for human food 
(Maclear, ' Old Test. Hist.,' bk. iv. c. iii. a). 
The "firstfruits" also carried with it the 
idea of the best. The custom of offering the 
firstfruiti of the field and other revenues as 

a religious obligation was observed by an- 
cient pagan nations (see Dioil. Sic, i. 14 ; 
Plut., ' De Iside,' p. 377 ; Pliny, ' Hist. Nat.,' 
18. 2 (Zookler). Some of the ancient com- 
mentators find in this verse an argument for 
the support of the ministry. It is well 
known that the priests " lived of the sacri- 
fice," and were " partakers of the altar," and 
as their support by these means tended to 
the maintenance of Divine'worship, so thosa 
who supported them were in the highest 
degree " honouring God." The injunctions 
also show that the honouring of God does 
not consist simply of lip-service, of humility 
aud conlidence in him, but also of external 
worship, and in corporeal things. They are 
not peculiar to Israel, but are binding on all. 
They oppose all selfish use of God's temporal 
gifts, and lead to the thought that, in obey- 
ing them, we are only giving back to God 
what are his own. " The' silver and the 
gold is mine, saith the Lord of hosts " (Hag. 
ii. 28). 

"We give thee but thine own, 

Whate'er the gift may be ; 
All that we have is thine alone, 

A trust, O Lord, from thee." 

(Day's ' Psalter.') 

Ver. 10. — So shall thy bams be filled with 
plenty. The promise hold out to encourage 
the devotion of one's wealth to Jehovah's 
service, while supplying a motive which at 
first sight appears selfish and questionable, 
is in reality a trial of faith. Few persons 
find it easy to realize that giving away will 
•increase their store (Wiirdlaw). The teacher 
is warranted in bringing forward this pro- 
mise by the language of Moses in Deut. 
xxviii. 1 — 8, where, among other things, he 
promises that Jehovah will command a 
blessing upon the "storehouses" and in- 
dustry of those who honour God. The prin- 
ciple is otherwise expressed in ch. xi. 25, 
" The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he 
that watereth shall be also watered himself;" 
and it is exemplified in Hag. i. 3 — 11 ; ii. 
15, 19; Mai. iii. 10—12, and in the New 
Testament in Phil. iv. 14—19; 2 Cor. ix. 
6 — 8. Thy bams; asamei/fcAa, the only form 
in which asam, " a storehoiise," " barn," or 
"granary," occurs. The Hebrew aiam ia 
the same as the Latin horreum (Vulgate) 
and the Greek -raixiuov (LXX.). With 
plenty (tava) ; V"lg'^te, taturitas ; i.e. ful- 
ness, abundance, plenty. The root sava ia 
" to become satisfied," and that richly satis- 
fied. This expression and the following, 
and thy presses shall burst out with new 
wine, depict the greatest abundance. Thy 
presses (^Icaveykhd). The word here trans- 
lated " presses" is, strictly speaking," vats" 
or " reservoirs," into which the must froa 
the wine-press flowed. The wine-pfess oou 



[CH. m. 1 — 35, 

Bisted of two parts, the gath (equivalent to 
the Latin torcularium, torcalum, or turcular; 
Greek, K-nv6s, Matt. xxi. 33), into wViiclj the 
grapes were collected from tlie surrounding 
vim-yard, and there trodden underfoot by 
several persons (Neh. xiii. 15; Isa. Ixiii. 3; 
Lam. i. 15), whose movements were regu- 
lated by singing or shouting (Isa. xvi. 10 ; 
Jer. xlviii. 33), as among the Greeks (see 
'Athen.,' v. p. 199, a; Anacreon, ' Od.,' xvii. 
1. lii. ; of. Theocritus, vii. 26) and Egyptians 
(Wilkinson, 'Man. and Oust.,' vol. ii. pp. 
152—157); and the yekev, used here, which 
was a trough of corresponding size, dug into 
tlie gi'ound, or cut out of a rook, at a lower 
kvel, to receive the must. The yekev cor- 
responded with the Greek moKitviov, men- 
tioned in Mark xii. 1, and the Latin lacux 
(Ovid, ' Fasti,' v. 888 ; Pliny, ' Epist.,' ix. 20 ; 
'Colum. de Rust.,' xii. 18); Cajeterus, in- 
deeil, reads, lacui torcvlarii. The word 
yekev is, however, useil for the wine-press 
itself in Job xxiv. 11 and 2 Kings vi. 27. 
Shall burst out (yiph'rotsu); literally, fliey 
shall extend themselves; i.e., shall overflow. 
Pdrats, " to break," is here used metaphori- 
cally in the sense of " to bo redundant," " to 
ovcriiow " (cf 2 Sam. v. 20). It is employed 
intransitively of a people Spreading thom- 
selvea abroad, or increasing, in Gen. xxviii. 
14 ; Bxod. i. 12. New wine (tirosh) ; Vul- 
gate, Arabic, and Syriae, vino; LXX., o1vtj> ; 
properly, as in the Authorized Version, 
"new wine;" Latin, mustum (see Deut. 
xxxiii. 28; Isa. xxxvi. 17; Iv. 1). 

Ver. 11. — My son, despise not the chasten- 
ing of the Lord. The teacher, in vers. 1 1 
»nd 1 2, passes to another phase of life. The 
thought of prosperity suggests the opposite 
one of adversity. Abundant prosperity shaH 
flow from honouring Jehovah, but he some- 
times and not unfrequently sends aflliction, 
and, indeed, without this life would be in- 
compkte. The object of the exhortation is, 
as Delitzsch states, to show that, as in 
pi'osperity God should not be forgotten, bo 
one should not suffer himself to lie estianged, 
by days of adversity. Submission is coun- 
selled on the ground that, when Jehovah 
afflicts, he does so in the Bpirit of love, and 
foi- good. The " chastening " and " correc- 
tion," though presenting God in an attitude 
of anger, are iu reality not the punishment 
of an irate God. The verse before us is 
evidently copied from Job v. 17, "Behold, 
hap|iy is the man whom God correcteth, 
therefore despise not thou the chastening of 
the Almighty;" and the wliole passage is 
ciled again in the Epistle to the Hebrews 
(Heb. xii. 5, 6). It has been said that 
ver. 11 expresses the problem of the Book 
of Job, and ver. 12 its solution (Delitzsch). 
Dtipise not (id-timas) ; Vulgate, ne abjioiag; 
LXX., nil oAiyt^pei. The verb maas is first 

" to reject," and then " to despise and con- 
temn." The Targum Jonathan puts the 
thought in a stronger form, ne exeereris, 
" do not curse." They despise the chasten- 
ing of Jehovah who, when they see his hand 
in it, do not humbly and submissively bow, 
but resist and become refractory, or, as it is 
expressed in oh. xix. 3, when their " lieart 
fretteth against the Lord." Job, notwith- 
standing his bitter complaints, was on the 
whole, and in his better niiiments, an 
example of the proper state of mind under 
correction (see Job i. 21 ; ii. 10). Jonah, in 
treating contemptuously the procedure of 
God, is an exemplification of the contrary 
spirit, which is condemned implicitly in the 
text (Wardlaw). Chastening (musar) ; i.e 
correction not by reproof only, as in oh. vi, 
23 and viii. 30 ; but by punishment also, as in 
ch. xiii. 24; xxii. 15. The meaning hero is 
expressed by the LXX. irctiSei'a, which is 
" instruction by punishment," discipline, or 
schooling (cf. Vulgate, disciplina). Neither 
be weary (al-takots) ; i.e. do not loathe, 
abhor, feel disgust nor vexation towards. 
The expression, " do not loathe," is a climax 
to the other, "despise not." It represents a 
more deeply seated aversion to Jehovah's 
plans. Gesenius takes the primary meaning 
of kuts to be that of vomiting. The word 
before us certainly denotes loathing or 
nausea, and is used in this sense by the 
Israelites in their complaints against God 
and against Moses in Numb. xxi. 5 (of. Gen. 
xxvii. 40). The writer of the Epistle to the 
Hebrews, in quoting the passage, adopts 
the LXX. reading, /i?; okKAov, "nor faint;" 
Vulgate, ne deficias, i.e. " do not give way 
to despondency." Correction. This word, 
like above, has a twofold meaning of 
either punishment or chastening, as in Ps. 
Ixxiii. 14 ; or reproof, as in ch. i. 23 ; xxv. 
30; V. 12; xxvii. 5; xxix. 15, where it 
also occurs. It is here used in the former 
sense. To loathe the correction of Jehovah 
is to allow it to com|iletely estrange us from 
him. We faint under it when, by dwelling 
on or brooding over, or bemoaning the trial, 
the spirit sinks to faintness. To faint at 
correction ignores the belief in the truth 
that " all things work together for good tc 
them that love God." 

Ver. 12. — In this verse the motive for . 
submissiveness to Jehovah's corrections is 
brought forward. They are corrections, but 
they are the corrections of love. One of the 
most touching relationships of life, and that 
with whicli we are most familiar, viz. that 
of father and son is employed to reconcile 
us to Jehovah's afflictive dispensations. 
A comparison is drawn. God corrects 
those whom ho loves after the same manner 
as a father corrects (" correcteth " has to be 
understood from the first hemistich) the 

OH. m. 1—35.] 



8on wlioni lie I voa. The idea of t' e pasage 
ia evidently tulseii fium Deut. viii. 5, " Thou 
■halt also consider in thine heart, that as a 
man chasteneth his son, so the Lord thy God 
chasteneth thee." The idea of the paternal 
relationship of God to mankind is found 
elsewhere (Jer. xxxi. 9; Mai. ii. 10), and 
especially finds expresBion in the Lord's 
prayer. When the truth of this passage is 
learned, we shall be drawn to, rather than 
repelled from, God by his corrections. The 
gracious end of earthly trials is expressed in 
Heb. xii. 6, 2 ; of. Kom. v. 3—5 ; 2 Cor. iv. 
17 (Wardlaw). "These gracious words 
(Heb. xii.) are written in Holy Scripture for 
our comfort and instruction ; that we should 
patiently and with thanksgiving bear our 
heavenly Father's correction, whensoever by 
any manner of adversity it shall please his 
^aciouB goodness to visit us" (gee Visita- 
tion Office). Even as a father the son in 
whom he delighteth (vuTt'av eth-ben 
yir'tseK) ; literally, even at a father the son 
he delighteth in. Various renderings have 
been giTen to this passage. (1) Delitzsch, 
De Wette, et ci., agree with the Authorized 
Version, and take 1 van, as explicative, and 
yir'tieh, "in whom he delighteth," as a 
relative sentence. The 1 is used in this 
explanatory sense in 1 Sam. xxviii. 3 (see 
Gesenius, § 155. 1 o). The relative cisher, 
" whom," is omitted in the original, accord- 
ing to the rule that the relative is omitted, 
especially in poetry, where it would stand as 
a pronoun in the nominative or accusative 
case (comp. Ps. vii. 16, " And he falls into 
the pit (which) he made;" and oh. v. 
13). We have the same elision of the rela- 
tive in the English colloquial expression, 
"the friend I met" (see Gesenius, § 123. 3, 
a). (2) Hitzig and Zockler translate, "and 
holds him dear as a father his son." This, 
though grammatically correct, does not pre- 
serve the parallelism. It serves only to 
expand the idea of love, whereas the pre- 
dominant idea of the verse is that of cor- 
rection, to which love is an accessory idea 
(see Delitzsch). For similar parallels, see 
Deut. viii. 5 as before, and Ps. ciii. 13. In 
the comparison which is instituted, yir'tseh, 
" in wliom he delighteth," corresponds with 
eth asher ye'hav y'hovah, "whom the Lord 
. loveth," and not with yaikiah, " correcteth." 

(3) Kamph translates, " and (dealeth) as a 
fother (who) wisheth well to his son." 'This 
is substantially the same as the Authorized 
Version, except that in the relative sentence 
" son " is made accusative after yir'tseh, here 
translated, " wisheth well to," and the 
omitted relative (asJier') is placed in the 
nominative instead of the accusative case. 

(4) "The variation in the LXX., /uurTiyoi Se 
miiiTa vlov %v irapaSdxfrai, " and scourgeth 
eveiy son whom he receiveth," cited litenllj 

in Heb. xii. 5, evidently arises from the 
tianslutord having read aN?^ (yaleev), " he 
scourgeth " for 3^51 (vuk'avj, " even as a 
father." It will be seen that this alteration 
could be easily effected by a change in the 
Masoretic pointing. (5) The Vulgate ren- 
ders, et quasi pater in Jilio complaoet aibi. 
Be delighteth; yir'tieh is from ratsah, "to 
be delighted " with any person or thing. 

Vera. 13— 18.— The teacher here enters 
upon the last part of this discourse. In 
doing so, ho reverts to his main subject, 
which is Wisdom, or the fear of the Lord 
(see ver. 7 and oh. i. 7), and pronounces a 
panegyric upon her, comparing her, as in 
Job xxviii., with treasures whose value she 
exceeds, and showing wherein that value 
consists, viz. in the gifts which she confers 
on man. 

VfT. 13. — Happy is the man (aeh'rey 
adam); literally, blessings of the man. The 
plural of " excellence " used here, as in Job 
v. 17, to raise the sense. The man who has 
found Wisdom is supremely blessed. Beda 
connects this blessedness immediately with 
God's chastisements in the preceding verse. 
So Delitzsch. Tliat findeth (maiea); pro- 
perly, hath found. " The perfect expresses 
permanent possession, just as the imperfect, 
yaphih, denotes a continually renewed and 
repeated attaining" (ZooMer). The Vul- 
gate also uses the perfect, invenit, " hath 
found ; " LXX., »s eSpe, " who found "—the 
aorist. The man that getteth understanding 
(adam yaphik t'mmah')', literally, the man 
that draweth out understanding, as in the 
margin. Yaphik is the hiph. future or 
imperfect of puh, the primary meaning of 
which is edueere, "to draw out," "to bring 
forth." This verb is used in two widely 
different senses. In the first place, it is 
equivalent to "bring forth" or "draw out" 
in the sense of imparting, as in Isa. Iviii. 10, 
"If thou draw out thy soul to the hungry," 
i.e. impart benefits to them ; and Ps. oxlly. 13, 
" That our garners may be full, affording all 
manner of store," i.e. yielding, giving out, 
presenting for our benefit. Its second sense 
is that of attaining, drawing out from 
another for one's own nse. In this sense it 
occurs in ch. viii. 35 ; xii. 2 ; xviii. 22, where 
it is rendered " obtain." The latter sense is 
the one tliat suits the present passage, and 
best agrees with the corresponding matsa. 
The man is blessed who draws forth, i.e. 
obtains, understanding from God for him- 
self. The Vnlgatc renders, qui affluit pru- 
dentid, " who overflow* with understanding," 
or, has understanding in abundance ; LXX., 
ts eISe, equivalent to " who saw." 

Ver. 14. — ^Ihe merchandise (,t(Mi,'rahy 



[oh. m. 1 — S6, 

Vnlgate, aequititio; LXX., ifnropfie<rtai. 
The gain arising from trading in wisdom is 
better than that which arises from trading 
in silver. Sakh'rah is the gain or profit 
arising from merchandise, t.e. from trading. 
It denotes the act itself of gaining. The 
root sakrah, like the Greek iixnopeviffBat, 
signifies " to go about for the sake of traffic," 
i.e. to trade. There may be an allusion 
liere, as in ch. ii. 4, to the new commerce 
(Plumptre). The gain thereof (f utrnttaft) ; 
i.e. the gain existing in, and going along 
with. Wisdom herself; gain, therefore, in a 
different sense from that indicated in sdlch'- 
rah. Geseniua takes it as " gain resulting 
from Wisdom," aa in ch. viii. 19 and Isa. 
xxiii. 3. The word is used of the produce of 
the earth, the idea apparently embodied In 
the Vulgate fructus. In this case there may 
be a reference to ver. 18, where Wisdom is 
said to be a " tree of life." The LXX. omits 
the latter clause of this verse. The sense is, 
" The possession of Wisdom herself is better 
than fine gold." Fine gold (karuts) ; Vul- 
gate, aurum purum; Syriac, aurum puria- 
litnum. Kharuls is the poetic word for gold, 
BO called, either (1) &om its brilliancy, and 
then akin to the Greek xP""'^^ (Curtius) ; 
or (2) from its being dug up, from the root 
kharata, "to cut into or dig up," "to 
sharpen." it evidently means the finest 
and purest gold, and is here contrasted with 
silver (kesepK). The word is translated 
" choice gold " in ch. viii. 10 ; " gold " simply 
In ch. xvi 16i; " yellow gold " in Pa. Ixviii. 
13 ; and " fine gold " in Zech. ix. 3. In the 
Version Junii et Tremellii it appears as 
effosvm aurum, " gold dug up," i.e. gold in 
its native, unalloyed state. The Targum 
Jonathan understands it of " molten gold " 
(aurum conflatum). 

Ver. 15. — EabieB(Khetib, p'mi/tm; Keri, 
p'ninim). No unanimous opinion has been 
arrived at as to the real signification of the 
word here translated "rubies." The ma- 
jority of the rabbins (among them Eashi), 
and Bochart, Hartman, Bohlen, Lee on Job 
xxxviii. 18, and Zockler, render it "pearls." 
Its meaning seems to lie between this and 
" corals," the rendering adopted by Mi- 
chaelis, Gesenius, and Delitzsch (following 
Fleischer), who says that the Hebrew 
p'ninim corresponds with the Arabic word 
whose root-idea is " shooting forth," and 
means " a branch." The peculiar branching 
form in which coral is found favours this 
opinion, which is strengthened by the pas- 
sage in Lam. iv. 7, where we get additional 
information as to colour, " They [the Naza- 
rites] were more mddy in body than rubies," 
a description which would apply to " coral," 
but is scarcely applicable to " pearls." The 
various versions suggest the further idea 
that jp'ninim was a descriptive word used 

to denote precious stones in general. The 
LXX. renders, " She is more precious than 
precious stones {KlBiev voKintfJav)." So the 
Targum Jonathan, Syriac, and Arabic. The 
Vulgate Tenders, " She is more precious than 
all riches (cunetis opibue)." The word 
p'ninim only occurs here (Keri) and in ch. 
viii. 11 ; XX. 15 ; xxxi. 10; and in Job and 
Lamentations as above. This passage, aa 
well as ch. viii. 11, which is an almost 
literal repetition of it, are imitations of Job 
xxviii. 18. The identification of pfninim 
with "pearls" may have suggested our 
Lord's parable of the pearl of great price 
(IMatt. xiii. 45, 46). All the things thon canst 
desire (kalrliha^hatseyha) ; literally, aU thy 
detiret. Here everything in which you 
have pleasure, or all your precious things; 
LXX., itar rl/iioy; Vulgate, omnia, qua 
desideraniur. The comparison, which has 
risen from the less to the more valuable, 
culminates in this comprehensive expression. 
There is nothing, neither silver, gold, pre- 
cious stones, nor anything precious, which 
is an equivalent (ihavah) to Wisdom in value. 
How it shows, when everything is put before 
us to choose from, that, like Solomon at 
Gibeon, we should prefer wisdom (1 Kings 
iii. 11 — 13) I In the second half of this 
verse the LXX. substitutes, " No evil thing 
competes with her ; she is well known to all 
that approach her." 

Ver. 16. — The remaining three verses 
(16 — 18) state in what respects Wisdom is 
incomparable in value. Length of days; 
orek yamim, as in ver. 2. Wisdom is here 
represented as holding in her right hand 
that which is previously promised to obedi- 
ence. Length of days is the blessing of 
blessings, the condition of all prosperity and 
enjoyment, and hence is placed in the right 
hand, the chief place, for among the 
Hebrews and other Oriental nations, as 
also among the Greeks the right hand was 
regarded as the position of highest! honour 
(Ps. ex. 1 ; 1 Kings ii. 19; 1 Maco. x. 63 ; 
Matt. xxii. 24); cf. Ps. xvi. 11, in which the 
psalmist says of Jehovah, "In thy right 
hand there are pleasures for evermore." 
The two hands, tha right and the left, 
signify the abundance of Wisdom's gifts. 
Biches and honour stand here for prosperity 
in general. The same expression occurs in 
ch. viii. 8, where riches are explained as 
"durable riches." A spiritual interpreta- 
tion can, of course, be given to this passage — 
length of days being understood of eternal 
life ; riches, of heavenly riches ; and honour, 
not " the honour that cometh of men," but 
honour conferred by God (1 Sam. T, 44; 
John xii. 26); see Wardlaw, in loe. The 
thonght of the verse is, of course, that 
Wisdom not only holds these blessings in hei 
hands, but also confers them on tboae wb« 

OH, m. 1 — 35.] 



■eek her. The LXX. adds, '< Oat of her 
mouth proceedeth righteousness; justice 
and mercy she beareth upon her tongue ; " 
possibly suggested by ch. viii. 3. The 
words of the teacher remind us of the saying 
of Menander, 'O Siadiipay \oyt<rfi^ irdvr' 
ex^h " Kb 't'bo excels in prudence possesses ' 
all things." 

Ver. 17. — Ways of pleasantness (dar'key 
noam) ; Vulgate, vise pulchrx ; LXX., oSol 
KaKal. Wisdom's ways are those in which 
substantial delight may be found. They 
are beautiful and lovely to look upon, and 
afford happiness. All her paths are peace 
(y'kal-n'thivo-theyali ehalom); literally, as in 
the Authorized Version. " Peace," ihalom, 
is not genitive as "pleasantness." The 
cliaracter of peace is stamped upon her 
paths, 80 that in speaking of Wisdom's paths 
we speak of peace. She brings tranquillity 
and serenity and blessedness. Her paths 
are free from strife and alarm, and they lead 
to peace. (On the distinction between 
"ways" and "paths" — the more open and 
the more private walks — see ch. ii. 15.) 

Ver. 18. — A tree of life (ets-khayyim)'; 
Vulgate, lignum vitx; LXX., ^i\or (aris. 
This expression obviously refers to " the tree 
of life" (ets-hakayyim), which was placed in 
the midst of the garden of Eden, and con- 
ferred immortality on those who ate of its 
fruit (Gen. ii. 9 ; iii. 22). So Wisdom be- 
comes equally life-giving to those who lay 
hold on her, who taste of her fruit. She 
communicates life in its manifold fulness 
and richness (so the plural "lives" indi- 
cates) to those who seize her firmly. What 
is predicated of Wisdom here is predicated 
in other passages (ch. xi. 80 ; xiii. 12 ; 
XT. 4) of the fruit of the righteous, the 
fulfilment of desire, and a wholesome 
tongue. Each of these, the teacher says, is 
" a tree of life." Elster denies that there is 
any reference to " f fte tree of life," and classes 
the expression among those other figurative 
expressions — a "fountain of life," in ch. 
xiii. 4 and liv. 27, and a " well of life," in 
ch. X. 11 ; bnt if it be once admitted that 
there is inch a reference, and it be remem- 
bered also that Wisdom is the saine as " the 
fear of the Lord," the point insisted on in 
the Proverbs and in Job, it seems difiBcult to 
deny that the teacher has in view the blessed 
immortality of which the tree of life in 
Paradise was the symbol. In this higher 
sense the term is used in the Revelation 
(ii. 7 ; xxii. 2, 14). Wisdom restores to her 
worshippers the life which was lost in Adam 
(Cartwright). It is remarkable that the 
imagery here employed is confined to these 
two books. After the historical record in 
Genesis, no other sacred writers refer to the 
tree of life. Old ecclesiastical writers saw in 
the exprewion • reference to Christ's re- 

deeming work. "The tree of life is the 
cross of Christ," lignum vitss crux Chriaii 
(quoted by Delitzsch). The symbol, Plump- 
tre remarks, entered largely into the re- 
ligious imagery of Assyria, Egypt, and 
Persia. To them that lay hold upon (lam- 
mahhazihim, hiph. participle) ; Vulgate, his, 
qui apprehenderint ; LXX., rots anTcx"- 
iUfVois. The Hebrew verb pin {khazak), "to 
tie fast," is in hiph. with a (&'), " to take hold 
ofi" " to seize any one." iHappy is every one 
that retaineth her. In the original, the 
participle, " they retaining her " (tom'keyah), 
is plural, and the predicate, " happy " or 
" blessed " (m'ushshar), is singular. The 
liitter is used distributively, and the con- 
struction is common (cf. ch. xv. 22). The 
Authorized Version aptly renders the origi- 
nal. The necessity for " retaining" as well 
as *' laying hold " of Wisdom is pointed out. 
The verb TjDn (famak) is "to hold fast 
something taken." Such will be blessed 
who hold Wisdom tenaciously and per- 

Vers. 19—26. — 5. Fifth hortatory di>- 
course. Wisdom, the creative power of God, 
exhibited as the protection of those who fear 
God. The teacher in this discourse presents 
Wisdom under a new aspect. Wisdom is the 
Divine power of God, by which lie created 
the world, and by which he sustains the 
work of his hands and regulates the operu- 
tions of nature. This eminence of Wisdom, 
in her intimate association with Jehovah, is 
made the basis of a renewed exhortation to 
keep Wisdom steadily in view. The elevated 
thought that Wisdom has her source in 
Jehovah might seem in itself an adequate 
and sufficient reason for the exhortation. 
But another motive is adduced intimately 
bound up with this view of Wisdom. Jehovah 
becomes the ground of confidence and the 
protection in all conditions of life of those 
who keep Wisdom. 

Ver. 19.— The Lord by wisdom hath 
founded the earth. The emphatic position 
of the word Jehovah, "the Lord," at the 
beginning of the sentence (cf P». xxvii. ; 
xcvii. ; xcix.), as well as the nature of the 
discourse, indicates a new parugraph. The 
description of the creative Wisdom of Jehovah 
may have been suggested to the mind of 
the teacher by the mention of the tree of 
life, in ver. 18 (Zoekler) ; but the connection 
between this and the preceding passage has 
to be souglit for in something deeper. The 
scope of the teacher is to exhibit, and so to 
recommend. Wisdom in every respect, and 
after showing her excellence in man, he now 



[oh. in. 1 — 35, 

brings her forward as the mediam of creation, 
and hence in her relation to God. Sy wisdom 
(b'kokhmah); \\i\ga.te, sapientid ; LXX., tij 
aoipia. It is evident that Wisdom is here 
soincthiug more than an attribute of Jehovah. 
" By Wisdom " moans " by, or through, the 
instrumentality of Wisdom." While the cor- 
responding and parallel expressions, " under- 
standing," " knowledge," militate against the 
idea of an hypostatizing of Wisdom, i.e. 
assigning to Wisdom a concrete and objective 
personality, yet tlie language is sufficiently 
strong, when we connect this passage with 
ch. i. and viii., to warrant our regarding 
Wisdom as something apart from yet inti- 
mately connected with Jehovah, as an active 
agency employed by him, and hence this 
description may be looked upon as an antici- 
pation of that which is more fully developed 
in ch. viii., where the characteristics which 
are wanting here are there worked out at 
length. The rabbins evidently connected 
the passage before us, as well as ch. i. and 
viii., with Gen. i. 1, by rendering b'reshith, 
" in the beginning," by b'kokhmah, " by 
Wisdom." Our Lord identifies himself with 
the Divine Sophia, or Wisdom (Luke xi. 
49). And the language of St. John, •' All 
things were made by him, and without him 
was not anything made tliat was made" 
(John i. 8), which assigns to tlie Logos, or 
Word of God, i.e. Christ, the act of creation 
(cf. John i 10, and especially the languiige of 
St. Paul, in CoL i. 16), argues in favour of 
the view of some commentators who under- 
btand Wisdom to refer to the Second Person 
of the Trinity. The Logos was understood 
by Alexandrian Judaism to expruss the 
manifeetation of the unseen God, the Absolute 
Being, in the creation and government of 
the world ; and the Christian teachers, when 
they adopted this term, assigned to it a 
concrete meaning as indicating the Incarnate 
Word (see Bishop Lightfoot, in Col. i. 15). 
For the passage, see Ps. xxxiii. 6 ; civ. 24 ; 
cxxxvi. 5; and especially Jer. x. 12, "He 
hath established the world by his wisdom," 
etc. ; li. 55 ; Ecclus. xxiv. 2, eeq. Hath 
founded (yasad); 'Vu\gAte,/>mdavit; LXX., 
edefj.€\ta(r€. The same verb is used in Job 
xxxviii. 4; Ps. xxiv. 2; Ixxviii. 69, of the 
cieation of the earth by God. While the 
primary meaning of yasad is " to give fixity 
to," " to lay fast," that of honen, rendered 
" he hath established," is " to set up," " to 
erect," and so "to found," from kun, or 
referring to the Arabic and Ethiopic cognate 
root, "to exist," "to give existence to." 
The marginal reading, "prepared," corre- 
sponds with the LXX. €To(/m<re. The Vul- 
gate is stdbilivit, " he hath established." 

Ver. 20. — By Ms knowledge the depths are 
broketi up. This is usually taken to refer 
to that primary act in creation, the separa- 

tion of the waters from the eartli, when " tha 
waters were gathered together unto their 
ovm place," as recorded in Gen. i. 9. So 
Munster, Ziickler, Wardlaw. But it seema 
better to understand it (as Mercerus, Lapide, 
Delitzsoh, and Authorized Version) of the 
fertilization of the earth by rivers, streams, 
etc., which burst forth from the interior of 
the earth. In this sense the correspondence 
is preserved with the second hemistich, 
where the atmosplieric influence is referred 
to as conducing to the same end. The 
teacher passes from tlie creation to the 
wonderful means which Jehovah employs 
through Wisdom to sustain his work. 2^ 
depths (t'homoth); Vulgate, abyssi; LXX., 
SiSuiro-oi, are here '* the internal water stores 
of the earth " (Delitzsch), and not the depths 
of the ocean, as in ch. viii. 24, 27, 28, and in 
Gen. i. 2. Are broken up (niv'kau) ; properly, 
were broken up, niph. perfect of baka, (1) to 
cleave asunder, (2) to break forth, as water, 
in Isa. XXXV. 6. The perfect describes a 
past act, but one that is still continuing in 
effect. Cf. Vulgate eruperunt, "they burst 
forth;" LXX., efi^dyriirav, aorist 2 passive 
of ^iiyvuin, " to burst forth," Targum, rupti 
sunt; and Syrlac, ruptie sunt. The idea of 
division or separation is present, but it is not 
the predominant idea. There seems to be 
no allusion here either to the Deluge (Beda), 
nor to the cleaving of the waters of the Bed 
Sea(Gejerus), though both of these historical 
events were undoubtedly well known to the 
teacher. And the clouds drop down the dew. 
The clouds (sh'khnkim) are properly the 
ether, the higher and colder regions of the 
atmosphere, and then "the clouds," as in 
Ps. Ixxvii. 15, which are formed by the con- 
densation of vapours drawn by solar influence 
from the surface of the earth — seas, riverSj 
etc. The singular shakhak signifies " dust, 
and secondly "a cloud," evidently fmm the 
minute particles of moisture of which a 
cloud is composed. Drop down (yir'aphu, 
kal future of raaph, used as a present or 
imperfect) ; LXX., i^jvr,ffav, " let flow." The 
clouds discharge their contents in showers, or 
distil at evening in refreshing dew. Modem 
science agrees with the meteorological fact 
here alluded to, of the reciprocal action of 
the heavens and the earth. The moisture 
drawn from the earth returns again " to 
water the earth, that it may bring forth and 
bud, to give seed to the sower, and bread to 
the eater" (Isa. Iv. 10). Dew; tal, here 
used not only of dew, but of rain in gentle 
and fructifying showers. The Arabic word 
signifies " light rain ; " LXX., Spoaovs, " dew." 
•Moses, in describing the blessing of Israel, 
says, "His heavens shall drop down dew" 
in the same sense (Deut. xxxviii 28; of 
Job xxxvi. 28). The fertilization of the 
earth is ordered bj the Divine Wisdom. 

OH. nr. 1—35.] 



Ver. 21. — My son, let not them depart 
from thine eyes. After the description of 
the power of Wisdom exhibited in creating 
and sustaining the earth, the exhortation to 
keep Wisdom steadily before the eyes, and 
the promises of Uiviiie piofectlon, appro- 
priately follow. Sioce Wisdom is so power- 
ful, then, the teacher argues, she is worthy 
of being retained and guarded, and able to 
protect. Let them not depm t (al-yaluzu) ; i.e. 
" let them not escape or slip asiiie from your 
mind (cf. Vulgate, ne effluant hsec ab oeulis 
tuts). They are to he as frontluts between 
your eyes, as a ring upon your finger. 
Yalueu, from lia, " to bend aside," di-flectere, 
a via declinare, which see in ch. ii. 15, 
ought probably to be written yellezu, on the 
analogy of the coirespouding passage in ch. 
iv. 21. The LXX. renders absolutely fii) 
wapa^pti-Hi, "do not thou pass by," from 
vapapfiiai, " to flow by," " to pass by, recede " 
(of. Heb. ii. 1, " Therefore we ought to give 
the more earnest heed to these things, lest 
at any time we should let them slip (/i^ irore 
■" quoted probably from the 
LXX.. of this passage). The Targum Jona- 
than reads, ne vilescat, " lot it," i.e. wisdom, 
"not become worthless." Them, included 
in the verb yaltizu, of which it is subject in 
the original, is to be referred either to 
"sound wisdom and discretion" of ver. 216 
— so Gejerus, Oartwright, Gei'er, Umbreit, 
Hitzig, Zockler, Plumptre (a similar trajeo- 
tion occurs in Deut. xxxii. 5, and is used, as 
here, to give vividness to the description); 
or to "wisdom, undeistanding, knowledge," 
of the preceding verses — so Delitzsch and 
Holden. The first view in every way seems 
preferable, and it is no objection to it that 
" sound wisdom " (tusli iyyah) and " discre- 
tion" (jm'yimmah) are feminine, while tlie 
verb " depart " (yaluzu) is masculine (see 
GeseniuB, 'Gram.,' § 147). The Syriao 
reads, " Let it not become worthless (ne vile 
fit) in thine eyes to keep my doctrine and 
my counsels." Keep sound wisdom and 
discretion. Keep; n'zor, kal imperative of 
ndtsdr, "to watch, guard." For "sound 
wisdom" (tushiyyah), see ch. ii. 7. Here used 
for "wisdom" t^kokhmah), as "discretion" 
(m'zimmah) for " understanding " (t'vunah), 
to contrast the absolute wisdom and insight 
of God with the corresponding attributes in 
man (see Zockler, in Zoo.). They belong to 
God, but are conferred on those who seek 
after Wisdom, and are then to be guarded as 
priceless treasures. The Vulgate reads, 
custodi legem et consilium; and the LXX., 
■riipriffov Si hiujir fiouKriv Koi Iwoiav, " guard 
my counsel and thought." 

Ver. 22. — So shall they be life to thy soul, 
and grace to thy neck. So shall they be 
(n'yikva); and they shall be. The "soul" 
and "neck" stand for the whole man in 

his t\Tofold nature, internal and external 
Life is in its liigheat and widest seiipe 
given to the soul (see ch. ii. 16, 18 ; iv. 22 ; 
viii. 3.5), and favour is conferred on tlir 
man, i.e. he becomes aooeptalile to his neigh 
hours, if he has wisdom. The latter ex- 
preosiou is very similar to ch. i. 9, where 
the same promise is expre.ssed, "grai-e" 
(hon.) being equivalent to " oruaineat of 
grace" (liv'yath Aon). Others uuilerst.r,d 
'■ grace to thy neck " (hon I'giirg'grolheykd ), 
as gratia gutturis, in the sense of "grnee of 
the lips," as in Ps. xlv. 3 and oh. xxii. 11, 
that is, as thu grace of speaking, power of 
eloquent and ell'ective utterance (<iejerns, 
Bayne, Lapido). It is better to tiU>e it na 
referring to tlie adornment of the person. il 
character, and so by metonymy of tne 
favour and kindness which it procures. 

Ver. 23. — Then shall thou walk in thy 
way safely. The first of the proiaises of 
protection, which follow from vers. 23— 
26. He who keeps "sound wisdom and 
discretion " shall enjoy the greatest sense 
of security in all situations of life. Safely 
(lar-'iakh); either in confidence, as Vulgate 
fiducialiter, i.e. confidently, because of the 
sense of security (cf. LXX., ire7roi9is 4v 
etpiiyp, and ver. 26); or in security: the 
adverb lavetalth is equivalent to betakh in 
ch. i. 30 and x. 9. The allusion is obvious. 
As he who is accompanied by an escort 
proceeds on his way in safety, so you pro- 
tected by God will pass youi life in security ; 
or, as Trapp, " Thou shalt ever go under a 
double guard, 'the peace of God' within 
thee (Phil. iv. 7), and the 'power of God' 
without thee (1 Pet. i. 5). " And thy foot 
shall not stumble ; literally, and tlwu shult 
not strike thy foot. Stumble in the original 
is thiggoph, 2 singular kal future of 
nagaph, " to smite," " strike against with 
the foot." So in Ps. xci. 12. The Autho- 
rized Version, however, correctly gives the 
sense. The LXX., like the Autliorizcd 
Version, makes " foot " the subj. ot, 'o 5e 
TTovs (Tov 'ov /i^) ir/>o(rK(5i^, "(That) thy lb{)t 
may not stumble." For a similar assuranc. , 
see ch. iv. 12. The meaning is: You will 
not stumble, because you will be walkiiig 
in the way of wisdom, which is free from 
stumbling-blocks (Lapide). You will not 
fall into sin. 

Ver. 24. — When then liest dowh then 
Shalt not be afraid. This is beautifully 
illustrated by what David says in Ps. iv. 8, 
"I will both lay me down in peace and 
sleep: for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell 
in safety." No fear is to be apprehended 
where Jeliovah is Protector (see Ps. iii 5, 6 ; 
xlvi. 1—3; xci. 1—5; oxxi, 5—8). When 
(im) is Tendered "if" by the Vulgate, 
LXX., Targum Jonathan. Thou liest down; 
tish'kav, " thou shalt lis down," kal future, 



[CH. m. 1 — 35. 

like thakavta, kal perfect, "n the correspond- 
ing hemistich, is from shakxv, " to lie down," 
specially to lay one's self down to sleep, as 
in Gen. xix. 4; Ps. iii. 6. Vulgate, «» 
dormierit ; cf. ch. vi. 22, " when thou 
sleepest" ■=1?3b'3, b'shok'b'ka). The LXX. 
rendering, "if thou eittest" (itiflj;), arises 
from reading 2eia (tethev) for noBJ'n (tish'kav). 
Tea, thou shalt lie down; b'sliok'h'ta, as 
before, with ) preiixed, equivalent to the 
future, as in tlie Autliorized Version ; 
LXX., imSeiSris. Shall be sweet; arvah, 
from arav, "to be sweet," or "pleasant," 
perhaps " well mixed," as arev, equivalent to 
" to mix." Thy sleep shall be full of pleasing 
impressions, not restlrss, as in Deut. xxviii. 
60 anil Job vii. 4, but sweet, because of the 
sense of safety, and from confidence in God, 
as well as from a good conscience (cf. Job 
xi. 18, " Thiiu .shalt take thy rest in safety," 
from which the idea is probably taken). 

Ver. 25. — Be not afraid ; al-tirah, is lite- 
rally " fear thou not," the future with al 
preceding being used for the imperative in 
a flehortative sense, as in Gen. xlvi. 3; 
Job iii. 4, 6, 7 (see Gesenius, ' Gram.,' § 
127. 3, o); Vulgate, ne paveas. Others, 
however, render, as the LXX., oi ^o^riSijaiif, 
"Thou shalt not be afraid," in the sense of 
a promise. The verb yare, from which 
tirdh, is here followed by min, as in Ps. 
iii. 7 ; xxvii. 1, and properly means " to be 
afraid from or before" some person or 
thing. Sudden; pithom, an adverb used 
adjectively (cf. like use of adverb khinnam 
in ch. xxvi. 2). Tear (palihad); as in ch. 
i. 16, the object which excites terror or fear, 
as any great disaster. The desolation of the 
wicked (shdath r'shaim) may be taken eitlier 
(1) as the desolation made by the violence 
of the wicked, the desolation or storm which 
they raise against the righteous (so the 
LXX., Vulgate, JIariana, Michaelis, Hitzig, 
and others); or (2) the desolation which 
oTertakes the wicked, tlie desolating ven- 
geance executed upon them (so Doderlein, 
Lapide, Stiiavt, Muensch., Dclitzsch, Ward- 
law). The latter is probably the right 
interpretation, and agrees with the threat- 
ening language of Wisdom against her 
despisers, in ch. i. 27, where shSaih also 
occurs. In the desolation whicliihall over- 
whelm the wicked he who has made Wisdom 
his Kuide shall be undismayed, for the Lord 
is his coniidenoe. The passage was probably 
suggested by ch. v. 21, " Neither shalt tliou 
be afraid of desolation when it cometh." 
Lee, in loc. cit., says the places are almost 
innumerable where this sentiment occurs. 
Compare the fearlessness of the man of 
integrity and justice, in Horace — 

" Si fractus illabatur orbis, 
Impavidum ferient ruinsa." 

(Horace, ' Od.,' iii. 3. 7, 8.) 

" Let Jove's dread arm with thundeis rend 

the spheres, 
Beneath the crush of worlds undaunted he 


(Francis's Tran».) 
Ver. 26.— Thy oonfldenoe (t/kiiTleki); 
literally, as thy confidence, Eesel, pri- 
marily " loin " or " flank," as in Lev. iii, 14 ; 
X. 15 ; Job XV. 27, is apparently used here 
in its secondary meaning of "confidence," 
" hope," as in Job viii. 1 4 ; ixxi. 24 ; Pa. 
Ixxviii. 7. The 3 (»') prefixed is what is 
usually termed the ? essential, or ? pleonas- 
tinum (equivalent to the Latin tanquam, 
" as "), and serves to emphasize the connec- 
tion between the predicate "thy cnnfidence" 
and the subject "Jehovah " (of. Exod. xviii. 
4; seeEwald,'Lehrb.,'217,/.; and Gesenius, 
' Gram.,' § 154). Jehovah shall be in th« 
highest sense yoiir ground and object of 
confidence. Dclitzsch describes kesel as 
confidence in the presence of evil : Jehovah 
in the presence of the "sudilen fear," and 
of " the desolation of the wicked," the evils 
and calamities which overwhelm the wicked, 
shall be thy confidence. The sense of his 
all-encircling protection will render ynu 
undismayed. "The meaning given to kesel 
as " foolhardiness " (Ps. xlix. 14) aud 
"folly" (Eccles. vii. 25), and the connec- 
tion of kesel with k'silim in ch. i. 22, comes 
from the root-idea kasSl, " to be fleshly, or 
fat," the signifloalion of vvhicli branches out 
on the one side into strength and boldness, 
and on the other into languor and inert- 
ness, and so folly or confidence in self 
(Schultens, Z.c). 'The Talniudic rendering 
of the Rabbi Salomon appioximates to tnis 
meaning, "and the things in which you 
seemed to be foolish (desipere videbaris) he 
will be at once present with you." Others, 
as Ziegler, Muentinghe, give kesd its 
primary meaning, and translate, "Jehovah 
shall be aa thy loins," the loins being re- 
garded as the emblem of strength. Jehovah 
shall be your strength. But kesel does 
not appear to have this local upplication 
here. Wherever it is used in tliis sense, as 
in Job and Leviticus cited above, there is 
sometliing in the context to point it out as 
a part of tlie body. Compare, however, the 
Vulgate, in latere suo, "in thy side or flank." 
The LXX. renders, M wairuv dSuv (rou, 
"over all thy ways." From being taken 
(milldlted) ; Vulgate, ne eapiaris, " lest tliou 
be taken." The meaning is, Jehovah will 
be your protection against all the snares 
and traps which the impious lay for you. 
Likid, "a being taken," is from Idliad, "to 
take or catch animals" in a net or in snares. 
It only occurs here in tlie Proverbs. Its 
unusual appearance, together with otbei 
reasons, not tenable, however, has led Hitzig 
to reject vers. 22 — 26 as an interpolation 

«B. m. 1— as.] 



The LXX. reads, TT^ii>,pavorem. nrAfo-iT, 
in Plato, Aristotle, and Flntaroh, U naed 
BubjectiTBly, and means "any vehement 
emotion." The word only ooonn once in 
the New Testament in 1 Pet. iii. 6, ji^ 
^oPoifieirq fVuSeiticw rriiiffiVf where it is 
eTidently qnoted from the passage before ns, 
in an objective sense, and designates some 
external cause of terror (of. Authorized 
Version, "and be not atraid with any 
amazement;" see also Book if Common 
Prayer : * Solemnization of Matrimony,' ad 

Vert. 27—35.-6. Sixth admonitory dig- 
tourte. In this discourse the teacher still 
carries on his object, which is to demon- 
strate the condition! upon which true 
wisdom and happiness are to be attained. 
The discourse differs from the preceding in 
consisting of detached proverbs, and may 
be divided into two main sections — the 
first (vers. 27 — 30) enjoining benevolence, 
that love to one's neighbour which is the 
fulfilling of the Law ; the second warning 
•gainst emulating the oppressor and associ- 
ating with him, because of the fate of the 
wicked (vers. 81 — 35). It is observable that 
all the maxims have a negative form, aud 
thus present a striking contrast to the form 
adopted by our Lord in the Sermon on the 
Uonnt (Matt, v.), and to the admonitions 
at the close of St. Paul's Epistles! In one 
instance in particular (ver. 80), the teaching 
does not reach the high moral standard of 
the gospel (see Delitzsoh and Lange). 

Ver. 27. — Withhold not good from them 
to whom it is due. Tiiis precept indicates 
the general principle of beneficence, and not 
merely, as the words at first sight seem to 
imply, restitution (as Cajet.). We are to 
do good to those who are in need or deserving 
of it, whenever we have the means and 
opportunity. From them to whom it j« due 
(nib'dldyo); literally, from its owner, from 
hadl, dominui, " lord " or owner of a thing. 
Cf. oh. xvi. 22, "Prudence is a fountain of 
life to its owner (b'dldyv);" i. 19; xvii. 8; 
and also Eccles. viii. 8; vii. 12; — in all of 
which passages proprietorship in the thing 
or quality mentioned is expiesscd. The 
owners of good are those to whom good is 
due or belongs either by law or by morality, 
whether by desert or need. Tie latter 
qualification is the one emphasized in tlie 
LXX., Mi) air6<rxv ?" TO«r>' eySeii, " Abntaiu 
not from doing good to the needy," So the 
Arabic pauperi. The Turgum and Syriac 
put the precept in more general terms, 
" Cease not to do good," without indicating 


in partionlar anyone who is to be the recipient 
of the good. But the Jewish interpreters 
generally (e.g, Ben Ezra) understand it of 
the poor, egentibut. The Vulgate puta 
an entirely different interpretation on the 
passage : Noli prohibere bene/aeert eum qui 
potest; si vales, et ipse bene/ae, "Do not 
prohibit him who can from doing good ; if 
you are able, do good also yourself." It 
thus implies that we are to put no impedi- 
ment in the way of any one who is willing 
to do good to others, and enjoins the duty 
on onrselves also. Good (^tAp) ; «.e. " good " 
under any form, any good deed or act of 
beneficence. The prmciple brought forward 
in this passage is that what we possess and 
is seemingly our own is in reality to be 
regarded as belonging to others. We are 
only stewards of our wealth. In the power 
of thine hand (I'el yad'yka); literally, in 
the power of thine hands. For the dual, 
yad'ykA, the Keri substitutes the singular, 
ydd'kd, to harmonize it with the similar 
expression, I'el yddi, "in the power of thy 
hand," which occurs in Gen. xxxi. 27; 
Dent, xxviii. 32; Neh. v. 5; Micah u. 1. 
But there is no grammatical need for the 
emendation. Botli the LXZ. and Targum 
employ the singular, "thy hand." Poieer 
(el); here "strength" in the abstract. 
Usually it means "the strong," and is so 
used as an appellation of Jehovah, though, 
as Gesenius says, those little understand the 
phrase who would render el here "by God." 
The 7 prefixed to el indicates the condition. 
Tlie meaning of the phrase is, " While it is 
praotioable, and you have the opportunity 
and means of doing good, do it." Do not 
defer, but do good promptly. The passage 
receives a remarkable illustration in the 
language of St. Paul, " Wliile we have 
opportunity, let us do good unto all men" 
(Gal, vi. 10). 

Ver. 28. — The precept of this and that of 
the preceding verse are very closely related. 
The former precept enjoined the general 
principle of benevolence when we have the 
means; this carries on the Idea, and is 
directed against the postponement of giving 
when we are in a position to give. In effect 
it says, "Do not defer till to-moirow what 
you can do to-day." This "putting off" 
may arise from avarice, from indolence, or 
from insolence and contempt. These under- 
lying faults, which are incompatible witli 
neighbourly good will, are condemned by 
implication. Unto thy neighbour ; I'reSylcd, 
" to tliy friends," the word being evidently 
used distributively. Belli is " a companion " 
or " friend " (cf. Vulgate, amioo fno ; Syria(\ 
sodali tuo), and generally au_v oilier person, 
equivalent to the Greek 6 -rKi^niif, "neigh- 
bour." The Authorized Veinion onrreotly 
renders "come again," us ahue is not merely 



[oh. m. 1 — 35. 

" to retnm," bnt to return again to something 
(ao Delitzsoh); of. Vulgate, revertere; and 
as the words, "to-morrow I will give thee," 
■how. The LXX. adds, " For thou knowest 
not what the morrow may hring forth," 
probably from ch. xvii 1. If viewed in 
respect of the specific claims which servants 
haTe for work done, the precept is a 
of Lev. xxix. 13 and Deut. xxiv. 15. In 
illustration of the general scope of the 
passage, Grotius quotes, "A slow-footed 
faTom: is a favour without favour." Seneca 
says in the same spirit, "Ingratum est 
beneficium quod diu inter manus dantis 
bcsit," "The benefit is thankless which 
sticks long between the hands of the giver " 
(Seneca, ' Bene!,' i. 2) ; cf. also Bis dat qui 
eito dat. 

Ver. 29. — Devise not evil agunst thy 
neighbour. Thiy precept is directed against 
abuse of confidence. Devise not evil (ai 
tdkhardeh rdah). The meaning of this ex- 
pression lies between " fabricating evil " and 
" ploughing evil." The radical meaning of 
khdrdsh, fjom which tdlcharosh, is "to cut 
into," " 1 o inscribe " letters on a tablet, cog- 
nate with the Greek xapiiriretv, "to cut into." 
But it is used in the sense of " to plough " 
in Job iv. 18, "They that plough iniquity 
(kliar'ehey dvin)," and Ps. oxxix. 3, "The 
ploughers ploughed (khar'ehim hhai'tldm) 
upon my back " (of. Hos. x. 13). This also 
appears from the context to be the meaning 
in ch. vi. 14. With these we may compare 
such expressions as "to plough a lie" (jiAt 
aporpla \jifiSo5, rendered in the Authorized 
Version, * Devise not a lie ") ; see ch. vii. 12, 
and " to sow iniquity," ch. xxii. 8 — a cognate, 
figure. " To plough evil" is to devise evU, 
to prepare for it, just in the same way as a 
ploughman prepares the land for sowing. 
In this sense the verb is understood by the 
older commentators and by Ewald and 
Dehtzsoh. On the other hand, the verb 
may be used in its other signiii cation, "to 
fabricate," and hence "to contrive." The 
noun hhdrdsli is an artificer of iron, eto. 
(Exod. XXXV. 35; Deut. xxvii. 15). "To 
febricate evil" is, of course, as the Authorized 
Version "to devise evil." The LXX., /iii 
TeKTj/yp, from TeKTalro/iai, " to build," 
inclines to this sense. The Vulgate, ne 
moliarii, does not clear up the point, though 
moliri, usually "to contrive," is used by 
Virgil, ' Georg.,' i. 494, " moliri terram," of 
working or tilling the ground. The verb 
also occurs in ch. vi. 19; xii. 20; xiv. 22. 
Seeing he dwelleth seourely by thee; i.e. 
as the Vulgate, cum ille in te liahet fidueiam, 
"when he has confidence in thee;" so the 
LXX.; or, as the Targum and Syriau, 
" when he dwells with thee in peace." To 
dwell (]/dthar) is in Ps. i. 1 " to sit with any 
one," f.e. to associate familiarly with him 

(cL Pa. xzvi 4,'5) ; bnt it also has the mean- 
ing " to dwell," jtnd the participle ySshet, 
here used ; in Gen. xix. 23 ; Judg. vi 21, 
means "an inhabitant, a dweller." Securely 
(Idveiah'); »'.«. with fiill trust (see on ver. 23). 
Devising evil against a friend ia at any time 
reprehensible, but to do so when he confidet 
in and is altogether unsuspicious of you, ia 
an act of the greatest treachery, and an 
outrage on all law, human and Divine. It 
implies dissimulation. It is the very sin by 
which " the devil beguUed Eve through his 
subtlety" (Wardlaw). 

Ver. 30. — The meaning of the precept is 
this verse ia clear. We are not to strive or 
quarrel with a man unless he has first given 
us offence. So Le Olero, " Nisi injuria prior 
lacessiverit." The admonition is directed 
against those who, from spite, jealousy, or 
other reasons, "stir up strife all the day 
long" with those who are quiet and peaceable. 
Strive. The Keri here reads tariv for the 
Klietib taruv, but without any change of 
meaning. The verb rHv, from which taruv, 
is " to strive or contend with the hand and 
with blows," as in Deut. xxxiii. 7; or with 
words, as in Ps. ciii. 9 (c£ the Vulgate, ne 
eontendat; and the LXX., nii (pt\ex^'fi(riiis, 
" Do not exercise enmity," from the unusiul 
<pi\fX^p4a. Biiv is here followed by D* 
(im), as in Job ix. 3 ; xl. 2 ; and Gen. xxvi 
30. Its forensic sense, "to contend with i> 
law," does not strictly apply here, though the 
precept may be taken as discouraging liti- 
gation (Lapide). Without causa (khinnam); 
LXX., /iar-fiv, equivalent to Sapeiy in John 
XV. 25; Vulgate, /rusfro; further explained 
in the concluding clause (see on ch. i. IT). 
If he have done thee no harm. The phrase, 
gfxmal rddh, is to bring evil upon any on* 
(Sclmltens). The verb gdmal signifies "to 
do, to give, to show to any one." Holden 
renders, " Snrely he will return thee evil," 
in the sense that unprovoked attack ensurea 
retaliation. Bnt this is to ignore the negative 
force of im-ld, " if not." The verb sometimea 
means " requiting," bnt not in the passage 
before us, nor in ch. xi. 17; xxxi. 12. The 
Vulgate renders as the Authorized Version, 
Cum ipge tibi nihil mali fecerit. It ia to be 
remarked that this precept falls below the 
moral standard of tiie New Testament 
teaching (see Matt. v. S9 — 41; Kom. xii. 
17—21 ; 1 Cor. vi 6—8), and of the example 
of our Lord, of whom it was predicted that 
" When he was reviled, he reviled not 
again; when he Buffered, he threatened 
not " (see Isa. liii,). 

Ver. 31. — Envy thou not the oppressor, and 
ohoose none of his ways. The thought ol 
strife in the preceding verse leads to that 
of oppression, and the precept is directed 
against fellowship with those who outrage 
the general law of benevolence and justioa 

OH. Ill, 1 — 35,] 



Envy not; i.e. M Stuatt, "Do not anxiously 
covet the booty which men of violence 
acquire." Succesa and wealth may follow 
from severity and extortion, but the man 
who acquires prosperity by these means 
ia not to be envied even by the yiotim of 
hii oppression (for the verb, see ch. xxiii. 
17 ; xxiv. 1, 19). The oppresior {teh kkamds) ; 
literally, a man of violence (see margin). 
The expression occurs in ch. xiv. 29; Ps. 
zviii. 41, and in its plural form, Uh 
khSmdmim, " man of violences," in 2 Sam. 
xxii. 49 ; Ps. cxl. 1, i. The man of violence 
is one who "grinds the faces of the poor," 
and whose conduct is rapacions, violent, 
aad unjust. And ehooee none of hit ways; 
literally, and choose not aU hi» wayt, i.e. with 
a view to acquire the same wealth, greatness, 
and power. The LXX. renders this verse, 
"Do not acquire the hatred of evil men, 
neither be jealous of their ways," evidently 
from having taken tiv'khar, " choose," in the 
second hemistich, for tith'khar, " be jealous." 
Ver. 32. — This verse gives the leason for 
the previous warning. The oppressor is 
here mcluded under the more general term, 
"the'froward." Thefroward; ndloz,hyp\i. 
participle from luz, " to bend aside," and 
henco a perverted or wicked man, one who 
turns aside from the way of uprightness, 
a transgressor of the Law (of. LXX., irapd- 
ro/ios) ; and go the opposite of " the right- 
eous," t/'ehdrim, " the upright," those who 
pursue the path of j^ustness, or the straight- 
forward. Abomination (tiSevdh); i.e. an 
abhoiTence, something which, being impure 
and unclean (of. LXX., oKoflapToi), is especi- 
ally abhorrent to Jehovah. In some passages 
it is connected with idolatry, as in 1 Kings 
xiv. 24 and 2 Kings xxiii. 13, but is never 
nsed in this sense in the Proverbs, where it 
occurs about twenty times (see ch. xxviii. 9 ; 
xxi 27 ; xi. 1, 20, etc.). The passage shows 
that prosperity and worldly success are not 
always a true measure of Divine favour. 
Eis secret (eddd); Vulgate, sermocinatio. 
Here tod probably means "familiar inter- 
course," as in Job xxix. 4 and Ps. xxv. 14 1 
and hence the special favour with which 
Jehovah regards the upright, by revealing 
to them what he conceals firom others, or 
his friendship (compare what our Lord says 
in John xv. 14, 15). Dathe translates, 
"probis vero est familiaris." Gesenius says 
lod properly means " a couch," or triclinium, 
on which people recline; but Delitzsch 
derives it from the root sod, "to be firm," 
"compressed," and states that it therefore 
means properly "a being together, or sitting 
together." The LXX. continues the "fro- 
ward man " (vapdvo/uis) as the subject, and 
renders, "Every transgressor is impure 
before Qoi, and does not sit together with 
(ftii (TvyfSpiiCfi) the just" 

Ver. 33. — The curse of the lord if in th« 
honse of the wicked. From ver. 83 to the 
end of the discourse the contrast is con- 
tinued between the condition of the wicked' 
and the just, the scornful and the lowly, 
the wise and the fools. In the verse before 
us a further reason is given why the pros- 
perity of the wicked is not enviable. The 
curse of Jehovah dwells in and rests upon 
his house. The curse; m'erdh, from arav, 
"to curse.'' This word only occurs five 
times in the Old Testament — once in Deute- 
ronomy, twice in Proverbs (here and in ch. 
xxviii 27), and twice in Malachi. The 
nature of the curse may be learned from 
Dent, xxviii. 20, where it is the infliction 
of temporal misfortunes ending with the 
" cutting o&" of the wicked (see Ps. xxxvii. 
22). It is a hovering evil, the somce of 
constant misfortune. LXX., Kardpa. Ct 
"the cursing" {dldh) against thieves and 
■wearers in Zech. y. 4. But he blesseth the 
habitation of the just. The contrast to the 
former, as in Deut. xxviii. 2 — 6. He blesseth; 
i.e. both temporarily and spiritually. Bless- 
ing does not exclude affiiction, but " trials " 
are not "curses" (Wardlaw). Both the 
LXX. and the Vulgate render, "But tha 
habitations of the just shall be blessed," 
the LXX. having read the pual future 
(y'vSrak), "they shall be blessed," for the 
piol future (y'vdrtk), "he shall bless," of 
the text. The habitation; ndveh, from ndvdh, 
" to sit down," " to dwell." A poetic and 
nomad (Fleischer) word usually understood 
of a small dwelling is tugurium, the shep- 
herd's hut or cottage, "the sheepcote" of 
2 Sam. vii. 8. The LXX. HvavKis, and the 
Vulgate habitaculum, favour the suggestion 
of Gejerus, that a contrast is here made 
between the large house or palace (bdyith) 
of the wicked and the small dwelling of 
the just. In ch. xxi. 20 and xxiv. 15 th* 
word is rendered " dwelling." 

Ver. 34. — Surely he scometh the soomera; 
literally, if with regard to the scorneri ha 
scorneth (im Idlletsim hii yalitt'); i.e. he re- 
pays scorn with scorn ; or, as Bubbi Salomon, 
" He renders to them so that they fall in their 
own derision (reddit ipsis ut in lud derition* 
corruant)." He renders their schemes abor- 
tive. He resists them. The scornert (littim') 
are those who treat with scoffing regard the 
precepts and truths of God; the arrogant, 
proud, insolent, here placed in contrast with 
"tiie lowly." Vulgate, derisoret; LXX., 
hir(pii<pavoi, "the overbearing." The ^ for 
n^ (I'fto), prefixed to letsim, signifies "with 
regard to," as in Job xxxii. 4 (cf. Ps. xvi. 3, 
" With regard to the saints QiWdishim), in 
th< m only I delight "). But he giveth graci 
unto the lowly ; or, on tt« other hand, the h. 
prefixed to Idandyim, " to the lowly," taving 



[oh. iil 1 — ^35 

Ihkt antithetical force here as in Joh viii. 20. 
The Unely (anayy'im); Vulgate, maneaeli; 
LXX., Tairfij/oi; properly, "the affliuted," 
with added notion of submission and lowly 
demeanour, and hence the meek, gentle^ 
the gentle towards unan, and the abased and 
lowly before God. St. James (iv. 6) quotes 
the LXX. of this passage, " God rosisteth 
the proud, but givetb grace to the hnmble." 
With tlie exception of substituting Kipios for 
&f6s (cf. 1 Pet V. 5), our Lord's pnrable 
of the Pharisee and publican illustrates the 
teaching of this verse (Luke xviii. 9 — H). 

Ver. 35. — The wise shall inherit glory. 
Ch. xi. 2 indicates that "the wise" here are 
to be identified with " the lowly " of the 
preceding Terse. Inherit; succeed to it as a 
matter of course by hereditary right as sons. 
Ileirehip implies eonship. Olory (Jtdvdd) ; or, 
honour; not merely earthly distinction and 
splendour, the glory of man, but the " glory 
of God." But shame shall be the promotion 
of fools; or, as margin, ihame exalleth the 
fooh. The rendering of the original, 
vuJ^i'ilm merim kdldn, depends upon the 
meaning to be given to merim, the hiph. 
participle of Him, hiph. " to lift uj), exalt ; " 
and whether the plural, k'ellim, in a dis- 

tributive sense, as in ver. 18, or JialSn, is 
the subject. Various interpretations have 
been given of the passage. (1) The Vulgate 
renders, itultorum exaltatio ignominia; Le. 
as in the Authorized Version, " shame exalts 
fools." They " glory in their shame " (PhiL 
(ii. 19) ; or shame renders them con- 
spicuous as warning examples (Ewald) ; or, 
as Dathe explains it, " Stulti infamitl snnt 
faraosi," " Fools become famous by infamy;" 
or as Biibbi Levi, "Shame exalts them as 
into the air, and makes them vanish away." 
(2) Tlie LXX. renders, Ai da.tPftt Sijiairay 
dri/ilav, i.e. " Foola exalt shame, prize what 
others desjiise" (Plumptre). (3) Umbreit, 
Bertheau, Zockler, render, "Shame sweeps 
fools away," i.e. lifts them up in order to 
sweep away and destroy them (cf. Isa. IviL 
14). (4) Tlie true rendering seems to be 
given by Michaelis, " Fodls carry anay 
shame " as their portioa. So the Targum, 
Delitzsch, Hitzig, Wordsworth. Tliey look 
for "promotion." They attain such as it 
is, but tho end of their attainments it 
" shame and everlasting contempt." As the 
wise inherit glory, so fools get M their 
portion shame and ignominy. 


Ver*. 1 — 4. — Making the heart a treasury of good principles. I. The TBEAfftJKK. 
Innumerable impressions are constantly being made upon our minds, and as constantly 
transferring themselves into memories. Frivolous thoughts, false notions, corrupt 
images, once harboured, take up their abode in the soul, and ultimately modify its 
character to the likeness of themselves. It is most important for us to guard our 
memories from such thin^', and to fill them with more worthy stores. Consider, 
therefore, the best subjects for contemplation and memory. 1. The Law of Ood. Divine 
truth is the highest truth, the noblest theme of meditation, the supreme guide to con- 
duct. Truth concerning our actions, the revealed wiU of God, is for us the most 
valuable Divine truth. Other forms of truth may please and help us, but this is 
essentially needful as a lamp to our feet. We can afford to lose sight of the stars if 
the harbour light shines clear on the waters over which we have to sail. This practical 
Divine truth — ^not our" dreams and fancies, hut utterances of God's will — ^we are called to 
remember. Hence the importance of studying the Bible, which contains it. It is well 
for children to store their minds with passages of Scripture. These will afford strength 
in temptation, guidance in perplexity, comfort in sorrow. 2. Mercy and truth. " The 
letter killeth." It is superstition that merely treasures up the words of Holy Writ, 
and repeats them parrot-like, as though a spell were to be wrought by the very utter- 
ance of them. The truth contained within these ancient words is whfit we need to 
recollect. And it is not the exact verbal bearing of the Law, but the wide-reaching 
principles underlying it, that Christians are called upon to treasure; not rules of 
sacrifice, but principles of mercy ; not merely tho prohibition, " Thou shalt not steal," 
but the higher precept, " Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." 3. Christ. Christ 
is the Truth ; he is the incarnation of mercy, our great exemplar, the visible manifesta- 
tion of God's will, the perfect Ideal of our life. If we are weary of reading dry l^al 
rescripts, *nd fail in contemplating bare abstract truths, wo have a better way of 
treasuring good principles, by cherishing the vision of Christ. 

IL Thb tbbabubt. This is the heart. It is not enough that the Law has been 
once for all revealed, that we come under it and under the institutions of the Church, 
that we treasure the Bible in our library, that we hear it r«»d in hasty momenta. 

««.m. 1— 35,] THE PROVEEBS. «9 

Much Bupentition prevailg on these points. People seem to think that there is a Tirtue 
in the mere act of reading a chupter from the Bible, and some seem to go through the 
task as a sort of penance, imagining that they thus score some points to their credit Ie 
heaven. The Bible is valuable to us only in so far as it influences us. To influence 
us it must be known and remembered. The Law graven on stone, locked in the ark, 
and hidden behiiid the thick curtains of the sanctuary, could do the people of Israel 
little good. It needed to be written on the fleshy tables of the heart. This involves: 
1. An intelligent understanding of Divine truth, so that it comes to us, not as a mere 
string of words, but as clear ideas. 2. A good memory of it. 3. A love of it, so that it 
is treasured thoughtfully, and becomes part of our very being, moulding our character, 
colouring our thoughts and afifections, and directing our conduct. It is not difficult to 
see that such a treasury of such treasure will secure &vour with God and ultimately 
also favour with men. 

Vers. 5, 6. — Divine guidance. I. Thb need of Divine ouidanoi!. Several con- 
siderations force this upon us ; e.g. : 1. Hie complexity of life. The longer we live, 
the more do we feel the profound mystery that touches us on every side. Innumerable 
avenues open out to us. Innumerable claims are made upon us. Conflicting duties 
perplex us. We feel as autumn leaves before the driving winds. We are helpless 
to choose and follow the right. 2. Our ignorance of the future. Like Columbus, we 
set our sails to cross unknown seas. We know not what a day will bring forth, yet we 
must boldly face the next day, and plan for many a day in advance. Our whole life 
must be arranged with respect to the future. We live in the future. Yet the future 
is hidden from us. How needful, then, to be guided on to that unknown land by 
One who sees the end from the beginning! 3. The claims of duty. We need a guide 
if we have only our own interests to consider. Much more is this the case when we 
are called to serve God. We are not free to choose our own path, even if we have 
light to do so. The servant must learn the will of his master before he can know what 
he is to do. Our prayer should be not so much that God should guide us safely, ai 
that he should show us his way. 

II. The condition of Divine ouidancb. This is trust. The lower animals are 
guided by God through unconscious instincts. But having endowed us with a higher 
nature, God has given to us the dangerous privilege of a larger liberty, and.the serious 
responsibility of voluntarily choosing or rejecting his guidance. But then he vouch- 
safes this great help on the simplest of all conditions. We have not to deserve it, to 
attain to it by any skill or labour, but simply to trust with the most childlike faith. 
Consider what this involves. 1. Self-surrender. " Lean not to thine own understand- 
ing." We sometimes pray for God's guidance insincerely. We want him to guide us 
into our own way. But his guidance is useless when we should go the same way with- 
out it. It is only when human wisdom diverges from Divine wisdom that we are called 
expressly to follow the latter ; we do so unconsciously under easier circumstances. This 
does not mean, however, that we are to stultify our intellect ; we must rather seek 
God's Spirit to enlighten it— not lean to our understanding, but to God for the 
strengthening of that understanding. 2. Whole-hearted faith. " Trust in God with 
all thine heart." It is useless to have certain faint opinions about the wisdom of God. 
Every thought, affection, and desire must be given over to his direction ; at least, we 
must honestly aim at doing this. The more completely we trust the more surely will 
God guide us. 3. Active faith. God guides, but we must follow his directions. The 
traveller is not carried up the mountain by his guide; he follows of his own will. It 
is vain for us to pray for a Divine leading unless we consent to follow the directions 

indicated to us. ., m, i • n 

III Thb method of Divine guidance. 1. Through our oton conscience. Uon- 
Bcience is our natural guide. It is not, therefore, the less Divin»t *Jr God is the 
Author of our nature. Conscience, clear and healthy, is the voice of God m the soul. 
But conscience is liable to corruption with the rest of our nature. Hence the need ol 
prayer for the gift of the Holy Spirit to purify, enlighten, and strengthen it. 2. 
htrough inspired teaching. Qoi guides one man through his message to another. 
Prophets and apostles are messengers of Divine guidance. We need such direction 
•utside our own consciences, especially in our present imperfect condition, or we may 

70 THE PBOVBEBS. [oh. in. 1—35. 

mistake the echoes of old prejudices and the promptings of self-interest for voices of 
God. God's word in the Bible is "a lamp to our feet." 3. Through, the disposition oj 
events. God guides us in his overruling providence, now closing dangerous ways, now 
opening up new paths. 

Vers. 9, 10. — Consecrated property. I. Wb oak honoub God with oub peopertt. 
It is not to be supposed that because religion is a wholly spiritual power it has no 
bearing on material things. Our religion is a mockery unless it affects the way in 
which we spend our money, as well as all other concerns of life. Property can be con- 
secrated to God by being spent in conscious obedience to his will and by being used for 
the promotion of his glory, as in the maintenance of worship, the extension of missions, 
the relief of the poor, the sick, the widow and orphan. 

II. God has claims upon oub propebtt. 1. It originally came from him. He 
created the materials and powers of nature. He gave to us our faculties. We sow the 
seed, but God gives the increase. 2. It is only lent to us for a season. Till recently it 
was not ours ; soon we must leave it. While we have it, it is a talent to be used in our 
great Master's service, and for which we shall have to give an account. Rich men will 
be called to a Divine audit, where all their wealth will be reckoned and their method 
of spending it apprised. But so also will the poor ; for we are all answerable for the 
use we make of our possessions, whether they be much or little. The one talent must 
be accounted for as well as the five talents. 

III. Our whole property should be consecbated to God. It was all given to 
us by God. We shall have to give account of the use we make of all of it — of the 
substance or capital and of the increase or yearly income. We cannot compound for 
the abuse of the larger part of our goods by sacrificing to God a small proportion of 
them. If we give a tithe of our possessions to God, we do not thereby receive a dis- 
pensation to give the rest to Mammon. Is the mendicant friar, then, the typical 
Christian ? No. An enlightened Christianity will teachus how to consecrate our posses- 
sions to God, while retaining the control of them. We are to be stewards, not beggars. 

IV. The best op oub property should be more directly offered to th« 
SERVICE of God. While all we have should be held sacred to God, some shoidd be 
spent on objects that plainly involve self- sacrifice, and that manifestly concern the 
kingdom of heaven. We must not make the lofty thought of the consecration of all 
our property an excuse for low selfishness in spending the whole on ourselves. God 
expects the best. He should have the firstfruits; his claims should be recognized 
before all others. People often give to religious objects what they think they can spare 
after satisfying all other calls. They should give to these first, and see afterwards what 
is spared for more selfish things. 

V. It is well to dispose of oub property on a certain method. People who 
give to religious and philanthropic objects on a system of setting apart a certain portion 
of their income for such purposes, find that they can thus give most readily and justly. 
It is for each to settle in his own conscience and before God according to what propor- 
tion he should give. One may find a tithe too much, considering his duty to his family, 
etc. Another may find it far too little, considering his ease and affluence and the needi 
of the world. 

VI. This consecration of property to God brtngs a blessino on the ownkb. 
If it is not always rewarded with temporal riches, it is repaid in better treasures — 
pleasures of sympathy and benevolence and the smile of God. 

Vers. 11, 12. — Chastening. I. God chastens his children with buffering. All 
Buffering is not chastening. Some trouble is the pruning of branches that already bear 
fruit, in order that they may biiug forth more fruit (John xv. 2). But when it meets 
us in our sins and failings, it is to he regarded as a Divine method of correction. It is 
not then the vengeance of a God simply concerned with his own outraged anger ; before 
this we should tremble with alarm. It is not the chance product of the unconscioui 
working of brute forces ; such a materialistic explanation of suffering might well indue* 
blank despair. The teaching of revelation is that suffering comes with°a purpoie, and 
that the purpose is our own good; it is a rod to chasten us for our faults, that we may 
be led to forsake them, and a pruning-knife to fit us for larger fruitfulness. 

OH. ml— 35.] THE PR0VEIIB3, W 

n. The motive with which God chastens his children is fatherly iovb. 
1. Qod must he angry with us for our sin. Eis anger, however, is not the fruit of 
malignant hatred, but the expression of grieved love. For love can be angry, naj, 
sometimes must be, if it is pure and strong. The weak kindliness which is a stranger 
to indignation at wrong-doing is based on no deep affection. 2. ff God ctmsttnt in love, 
it is for our own good. Weak love seeks the present pleasure of its objects ; strong 
love aims at the highest welfare, even though this involve misunderstandings and 
temporary estrangement. 3. Ood^s paternal relation with us is the ground of hii 
chastening in love. We do not feel called upon to correct in strange children the 
faults for which we chastise our own family. The very love we bear to our children 
rouses indignation at conduct which we should scarfcely heed in others. True love is 
not blind to the faults of those who are loved, it is rather rendered keen-sighted by 
sorrowful interest. Hence we may take the chastening as a proof of the love and 
Fatherhood of God. If we were not children, God would not thus put us to pain. 
Instead of regarding trouble as a proof that God has deserted us, we should see in it 
a sign that God is owning us and concerning himself with our welfare. The worst 
curse a man can receive is to be deserted by God and left unchecked in pursuit of folly 
and sin (Heb. xii. 8). 


OBOw WBABT OF IT. The good it will do to us depends on the reception we give it. 
Like other graces, the grace of correction may be received in vain, may be abused to 
our own hurt. We must not be satisfied, therefore, with the mere fact that we are 
being chastened. Two evils must be avoided. 1. Despising chastening. Cynical 
indifference and stoical hardness will render the chastening inefficacious. We must 
open our hearts to receive it. It blesses the broken heart. The very sorrow it induces 
is of the essence of its healing grace. 2. Growing weary of chastening. This is the 
opposite failing. We may despair, complain, show impatience, and rebel. Then the. 
chastening loses its utility. The right reception is evidently to feel its grievousness, 
but to submit humbly and to seek to learn its bitter but wholesome lessons. The two 
all-essential thoughts, that suffering is for our own good, and that it is sent in love 
and is a proof of God's fatherly care for our welfare, should help us neither to be 
indifferent to it nor to rel>el against it, but thus humbly to accept it. 

Vers. 13 — 20. — "More precious than ruhies." We must bear in mind that the 
wisdom here commended to us is not mere knowledge, science, philosophy. It has 
two important characteristics. First, it is religious ; it is based on the fear of God. 
Second, it is practical; it assumes the direction of human conduct. It is the know- 
ledge of Divine truth, and the application of it to life. Why is this to be accounted 
most precious ? 

I. Wisdom is talttable on accottnt of its owh inherent qualities. (Vers. 
13 — 15.) Paper money, is worthless unless it can be exchanged for something else ; 
but gold coins have a value of their own. If they are not used in the purchase of 
other things, the precious metal is valuable, and can be fashioned into objects of use 
and beauty. Wisdom is like solid specie. If she brings nothing else, she is a treasure in 
herself While men are asking what advantages will religion give them, they should 
see that she is " the pearl of great price," for which all other good things may be sold, 
and yet the profit remain heavily on the side of him who purchases her. This is an 
inward treasure, a possession of the soul. It has many advantages over material 
treasures. 1. It is exalted and elevating. Its character is pure, and it raises thoss 
who possess it. There are earthly treasures that defile by contact with them, and 
others that materialize — make a man hard, worldly, ignoble. 2. It is satisfying. A 
man cannot live on gold, but on bread alone. There are desires of the soul that money 
and food do not quiet. Books, pictures, music, all works of art, all triumphs of civiliza- 
tion, leave a void unfilled. It ia the mission of the thoughts of God in the soul to fill 
this void. 3. It is never wearying. Many things that never satisfy soon satiate. We 
are not full, yet we turn away with disgust, having had enough of them. The sea is 
beautiful, but the sailor grows tired of the endless monotony of waves. Divine wisdom 
never tires us. It is infinite, endlessly varied, eternally fresh. It is true that we may 
become wearied of religious occupations, religious books, etc. But then we bava tha 

78 THE PROVERBS. [oh. m. 1— 38. 

imperfections of the human embodiment of wisdom to annoy us. 4 It is secure. No 
thief can steal it. No moth nor rust can consume it. The thief may take a man'i 
jewels, but never his inner treasure. He may be stripped of property, home, choicest 
possessioas, and left to bare beggary; yet if he liave precious thoughts of God in his 
heart, no thief can touch them. They are a safe, an eternal possession. 

II. Wisdom is valuable bbcausb it ministers to cub eabthlt wblfabr. (Vers. 
16 — 18.) The temporal advantages of religion are here described with that prominence 
and positiveness which are characteristic of the Old Testament, and of ihe Book of 
Proverbs in particular. We have learnt to see more limitations upon these things, and, 
at the same time, we have had revealed to us much larger spiritual and eternal beati- 
tudes than those of the Jewish faith. But we may make the mistake of ignoring th« 
truth contained in the old view. There are earthly advantages in religion. It has 
promises for this life as well as for that to come. 1. Length of days. Many good 
people die young ; many bad men grow hoary in sin. If it were not so, we should 
lose the discipline that comes by our having to walk by faith. But on the whole, 
wisdom tends to length of days by preserving the constitution sound and healthy. A 
wise way of living falls in with the laws of health. Reckless folly saps the energies of 
life, induces disi ase, decrepitude, premature old age and dea'h. 2. Ways of pleasant- 
ness and peace. The road is pleasant as well as the end. Religion may bring a cross, 
but she also brings grace for bearing it. All her rewards are not reserved for the 
future. There is a peace of God that passeth all understanding, which the world can 
neither give nor take away, and which will make the wilderness of the saddest life 
blossom like the rose. 3. A tree of life. Length of days is a poor blessing unless the 
life preserved is worth living. What boon would it be to an exile in Siberia, a convict 
on Dartmoor, a paralytic in an infirmary? Long existence without a source of worthy 
life is the curse of the Wandering Jew, not the blessing of eternal life. Wisdom — 
i.e. Divine truth, religion — supplies fruits for holy sustenance and leaves for the healing 
of the nations. To know God is eternal life (John xvii. 3). 

III. Wisdom is valuable because it is a link of connection between man 
AND God. (Vers. 19, 20.) Our heart is restless till it finds rest in God. All our 
highest life, all our deepest peace, all our truest thought, all our noblest effort, all our 
purest joy, depend on our union in and with God. But wisdom is an essential Divine 
attribute. By it God first created the earth and the heavens (ver, 13). By it he now 
controls all things (ver. 20). The wisdom of God is reflected in nature. All our know- 
ledge is just the reflection of this wisdom; it is thinking into the thoughts of God; 
thus it is a communion with him. Spiritual knowledge brings us nearest to God, who 
is Spirit. Christ as the incarnate " Word," by whom all things were made, and tha 
Wisdom of God, is our Mediator, and unites us to God. 

Vers. 27, 28.— DiZatormess in the payment of just debts. I. This dilatobiness d 
moballt culpable, and most injubious to sociktt. Through thoughtlessness in 
some cases, through deliberate meanness in others, many people postpone the payment 
of their just debts as long as possible, though they have the money by them, and are 
perhaps turning it to account for their own advantage. Such needless delay of justice 
should be regardeii as a moral offence. A sad laxity prevails in this matter. It is said 
that preachers direct their admonitions respecting the business habits of the day too 
much to one side of the case. The tradesman is accused of greed, dishonesty, deceit, 
while little is said of the conduct of the customer. But here is an instance where the 
failing, nay, the sin, lies with the buyer. Most of us little know how much the trading 
classes suffer from delay and difficulty in calling in the money that is owing to them ; 
how often they pinch themselves and suifer in silence for fear of losing a customer by 
giving offence in too much pressing for payment, knowing that the common selfish- 
ness of others will readily lead them to court the patronage of the offended client. This 
delay is grossly unjust to more conscientious people who pay promptly, and yet are 
made to suffer from the high prices necessitated by the bad debts and postponed pay- 
ments of others. It is also a direct temptation to those shifty practices which all of us 
deprecate when we meet with them in trade. Peeling that he cannot recoup himself 
readily in the regular way, the tradesman is tempted to try some less straightforward 
method for making his business, thus heavily handicapped, to some extent profitable. 

OH. m. 1—35.] THE PBOYBBBa. W 

A new moral tone is requisite in this matter. People should see that to delay to ezeouta 
Justice is to commit injustice. Time is as valuable as coins. He who robs a man of 
time is a thief, and should wear the brand of a thief. 

II. The bemedy for this dilatoriness hubt be FoxmD in a fuller RECoom- 
1I0N of the claims of huuan BROTHBaHOOD. It Is not enough to prove the abstraot 
justice of prompt payment. The selfishness which withholds it will find soms 
casuistic excuse for further delay. This selfishness, which is at the root of the evil, 
must be overcome. The spirit of Cain is dishonest as well as murderous. We are too 
ready to treat those with whom we have merely business dealings according to an 
entirely difierent code from that which controls our conduct with otir friends. Com- 
mercial rules are so much more lax than social laws. The mere business relatioa is 
too often robbed of all human consideration, treated from a purely selfish standpoint, 
almost on a principle of enmity, as though it belonged to a state of war. Does a man 
cease to be our brother because we buy and sell with him ? When he was a stranger, 
we felt some tie of common humanity with him. After we have entered into relations 
of mutual convenience, is the tie broken, and does he become as a heathen and a 
publican ? We must remember that it is our " neighbour " who claims just payment ; 
and are we not required to love our neighbour as ourselves? The golden rule of Christ, 
that we must do to others as we would that they should do to us, must be applied to 
business, or we have no right to profess ourselves to be Christians. 


Vers. 1 — 10. — Precepts and promises of wisdom. I. The connection of vsaitet 
AND PROMISE. 1. Precept needs confirmation. We cannot but ask — 'Why should we 
pursue this or that line of conduct in preference to another ? Why should men l« 
Qod-fearing, honest, chaste ? We are rational creatures, not " dumb driven cattle," to 
be forced along a given road. We must have reasons ; and it is to reason in us that 
the Divine rea.son ever makes appeal. 2. The confirmation is found in experience. Tliit 
is the source of our knowledge ; to it the true teacher must constantly refer for tht 
verification of his principles, the corroboration of his precepts. The tone assumed by 
the teacher is indeed that of authority, but real authority always rests upon experience. 
Experience, in short, is the discovery and ascertainment of law in life. Precepts are its 
formulation. 3. The experience of the past enables the prediction of the future. Just 
as we know the science of the astronomer, e.g., to be sound, because we find that he can 
predict with accuracy coming events, appearances of the heavenly bodies, eclipses, etc., 
so do we recognize the soundness of moral teaching by its power to forecast the future 
fates of men. Precepts are the deductions from the actual ; promises the forecasts of 
that which, because it has been constant in the past, may be expected in the future. 
In science, in morality, in religion, we build on the permanence of law ; in other words, 
on the constancy of the eternal God. 

II. Particular examples of this connection. 1. Obedience ensures earthly happi- 
ness. (Vers. 1, 2.) The connection is first stated generally. " Extension of days," or 
long life, is the one aspect of this happiness; inward peace of heart, denied to the god- 
less, the other (Isa. xlviii. 22 ; Ivii. 21). Prolongation of days, life in the good land, 
dwelling in the house of the Lord, are the peculiar Old Testament blessings (Deut. iv. 
40 ; V. 33 ; vi. 2 ; xi. 9 j xxii. 7 ; xxx. 16 ; Ps. xv. 1 ; xxiii. 6 ; xxvii. 4). (1) 'I'lie 
desire for long life is natural, and religion recognizes it. (2) Without inward satisfao- 
tion, long life is no blessing. (3) While the Old Testament promises formally cover 
the finite life only, they do not exclude the infinite. In Grod and faith in him the 
i I] finite is germinally contained. 2. Love and good faith ensure favour with Ood, good 
will with men. " Mercy," or " love ;" the word denotes the recognition of kinship, 
fellowship in men, and the duty of kindness therein implied. "Truth," in the sense 
in which we speak of a true man ; sincerity and rectitude, the striving to make the 
seeming and the being coriespond to one another ; the absence of hypocrisy. Rt. Paul 
gives the ideas, "dealing truly in love" (Eph. iv. 15). Let these virtues bo bound 
about the neck, like precious objects, for tlie sake of security; let these commands be 
engraven in the only indelible way— upon the heart. Let the mind be fixed and 

T4 THE PEOVBBBB. [oh. in. 1—86. 

formed, and the result will be favour in the sight of God, and a " good opinion " in th« 
minds of men. The two relations form a correlation. There is no true standing with 
God which does not reflect itself in the good opinion of good men ; no worthy opinion 
of a man which does not furnish an index to God's view of him. Both were united 
in the case of the youthful Jesus. 3. Trust in Ood ensures practical direction. (Vers. 
6, 6.) (1) This trust must be whole-hearted. An exception to it destroys it, as one 
faulty link will cause the chain to break, one rotten plank the ship to leak, etc. (2) 
The fallacy of confidence is when we separate the particular in our intelligence from the 
universal. This is intellectual egoism. There is a dualism in consciousness — ^the private 
Belf-seeking intelligence, and the Divine mind in us. (3) Trust is dbandonntent to the 
Divine mind, to the universal intelligence which carries us out of self. (4) Such trust 
implies the " taking cognizance " of God in all we do. Of bad, unjust men, like Eli's 
«ons, it is said that they take no cognizance of Jehovah (1 Sam. ii. 12). To ask of 
every action not — Is this what the generality of men would do in my position ? but— 
Is it what God would have me to do? Not — Is it "natural"? but—la it Divine f 
Such a habit ensures practicpl direction. All our igarements and stumblings arise from 
following the isolated intelligence, which is a true guide only for immediate Mnsuous 
relations, cannot light us for life's complex whole. Hence the way in which selfish and 
cunning people constantly outwit themselves, while the man who is set down by them 
as a fool for neglecting his owq interests comes out safely in the long run. 4. Simpt* 
piety secure) health. (Vers. 7, 8.) (1) Conceit is opposed to piety. This we have 
already seen. For what is conceit but the lifting of the merely individual into a false 
generality ? In its extreme, the worship of self is a little god. (2) Simple piety has 
a positive and a negative pole: positive, reverence for God; negative, aversion from 
evil. The pious man afiirms and denies, both with all his might. His life is emphatic, 
includes an everlasting " Yes " and an everlasting " No " 1 (3) Simple piety is the 
source of health, (a) Physical. It tends to promote right physical habits. It cer- 
tainly reacts against the worst disorders, viz. the nervous, (b) Spiritval. It is in 
the mind what the sound nervous organization is in the body. The mind thus cen- 
trally right digests, enjoys, assimilates, the rich food which nature, books, and men 
afford. 5. Consecration of property ensures wealth. (Vers. 9, 10.) (1) Ancient custom 
commanded this. The consecration of the firstling of firstfruits was not confined to Israel. 
It was an ancient custom of the world generally. The part .represents the whole, fat 
all is God's. There seems to be no objection to the private practice of the custom by 
Christians still. In any case, let it be recognized that property, in the legal sense, if 
but an expression of convenience ; that really our temporary possessions, along with 
ourselves, are the property of God. If this be not recognized, we merely consume them, 
or hoard them, do not use them. (2) Plenty falls to the lot of the giver. The excep- 
tions to the rule are apparent, and perhaps language does not suffice for their statement 
and elucidation. The rule is comprehensively true, and a comprehensive view is necessary 
for its application. Eich and poor are subjective terms. There is a rich poverty and 
a miserable affluence. The promise is only truly fulfilled in the man who feelt he has 
abundance, and enjoys it. — J. 

Vers. 11, 12. — Patience in affliction. Well does this lesson contrast with the pre- 
ceding picture of prosperity and opulence. 

I. The ebligious view of suFFEBiNa, 1. It is not a dark doom, a cruel fate, a 
blind necessity of things. Such were the ideas of the heathen. 2. Its cause may t» 
knovm. This is ever a great solace — to be persuaded that our troubles lie in the reason 
of things, that nothing is chance or caprice. 3. That cause is in the Divine mind 
and will. The power of God is manifested in our suffering; we are but as the clay on 
the potter's wheel.. Still more the love of God is manifested in our sufi'ering. There 
is always some mitigation accompanying it. " It might have been worse " may be said 
of every pain. It serves as the foil to set off some greater good. " The ring may be 
lost, but the finger remains," as the Spanish proverb says. 4. The ohjeot or final cause 
tif suffering. Purification from inward evil ; correction of faults. The mind grows of 
Itself; the schoolmaster can do little more than point out and correct faults. So with 
life's education from the religious point of view. And the most fertile minds need most 
tite discipline of auffering. The pruning-knife is not applied to the puny plant; and 

CH. m. 1— >>5.] THE PROVERBS. 76 

languid minds are the least touched by afBiotion. In these adjustments, love is still 
revealed. 5. Suffering must he viewed under the analogy of the parental and filial 
relation. Let these words once become clear, Father, son, in their application to God'i 
relation to us, and ours to him, and the theory of suffering is mastered (oomp. Dent, 
viii. 5 ; Ps. oxviii. 18 ; Lam. iii. 31 — 33). 

_ IL The beligious temper under suffering. 1. Humility. No indignant ques- 
tioning, scornful recalcitration, proud efforts of stoical fortitude. These will but 
defeat or dday the end. The medicine benefits not if the patient sets his mind 
against it as unneeded. 2. Patient endurance. Perseverance in a passive, receptive, 
attitude is far more difficult than perseverance in activity. We haste to snatch at 
good. But God is never in haste. His processes are slow. Apd to receive their benefit 
we must learn the wisdom of the word " wait." While we are thus waiting, things 
are not at a standstill j God is working, producing a spiritual shape out of the passive 

" Maker, remake, complete, 
I trust what thou ehalt do I " 

(B. Browning's noble poem, ' Babbi Ben Ezra.*) 


Vers. 13 — 18. — Wisdom the hett investment. L Wisdom comparable with the 
MOST precious THINGS. Silver, gold, precious stones, everything eagerly coveted 
and warmly prized by the senses and the fancy, may illustrate the worth of the pious 
intelligence. Every object in the world of s.euse has its analogy in the world of spirit. 
The worth of the ruby is due to the testhetic light in the mind of the observer. But 
wisdom is the light in the mind itself. 

II. Wisdom incomparable with all precious things. For by ona?og'^ only can 
wn put wisdom and precious miDcrals side by side, on the principle that mind is 
reflected in matter. But on the opposite principle, that mind is diverse from matter, 
rests the incomparahleness of wisdom. Mere matter can breed nothing ; spiritual force 
only is generative. When we talk of "money breeding money," we use a figure of 
speech. It is the mind which is the active power. 

III. Wisdom mat be viewed as the best life investment. All the objects 
which stimulate human activity to their pursuit are derivable from this capital. Life 
in health and ample and various enjoyment, riches and honour, pleasure and inward 
peace ; blessings that neither money nor jewels can purchase, are the fruit, direct or 
indirect, of the cultivation of the spiritual field of enterprise, the whole-hearted venture 
on this Divine speculation, so to say. For religion is a speculation ; faith is a specu- 
lation in the sense that everything cannot be made certain; some elements in the 
calculation must ever remain undefined. (For further, see the early part of the chapter ; 
and on ver. 17, South's ' Sermons,' vol. i. ser. 1.) The summary expression, " a tree of 
life," seems to symbolize aU that is beautiful, all that is desirable, all that gives joy 
and intensity to living (comp. ch. xiii. 12 ; xv. 4). — J. 

Vers. 19, 20. — Wisdom the principle of the creation. Perhaps the mention of the 
tree of life has reminded the writer of the early account of the creation in Gen. i., ii. 
He thus traces the visible world and its order to its spiritual root in the mind of God. 
He gives a brief sketch of the construction of the cosmos, according to the ancient 
mode of thought. Both heaven and earth are fixed and made fast ; and the water- 
masses divided into those above and those below the " firmament ; " the consequence 
of which is the gushing forth of the clouds in rain. The modern scientific knowledge 
of the world may be used to impart a rich context to these simple conceptions of the 
early imagination. 

I. The world is an order. The Greeks expressed this idea in the beautiful 
word "cosmos." It includes symmetry, beauty, variety, harmony, adaptation erf 
means to ends. To recognize these in the visible world is an intellectual delight, 
and a motive to the purest reverence. 

II. This order is reducible to a unity. Formerly we looked upon the world 
as a collection of independent forces. Science showed us the correlation, interdepen- 

T« THE PROVERBS. [ch- m. 1— 3&. 

dence, interaction of these forces. Now she has risen to the grand conception of the 
unity of all force; and thus arrives at the same goal with religious thought. 

III. That Unity of force is God. It is often forgotten that the generalizations 
of science are but logical distinctions — cause, law, force, etc. What are these without 
Being, Personality, as their ground? Empty names. Religion fills tliese forms with 
life, and where the scientific man speaks of law, she bows before the living Grod. 

IV. Science and religion abb at one. When we talk of their opposition, we 
are using a figure of speech. What they represent, these names, is two different 
directions of the spiritual activity of man. What needs to be cured is narrowness and 
partialism on the side of both scientific and religious men. For there is no real cleft 
in the nature of our knowledge. All genuine knowledge is essentially a knowledge of 
God, of the Infinite revealed in and through the finite.— J. 

Vers. 21 — 26. — Confidence and the sense of security in the ways of Ood. In rich 
variation the religious habit of mind is presented. What has been spoken of as worthy 
to be hung about the neck as precious is now referred to as to be kept continually 
nefore the eyes of the mind. The designation of wisdom or its attributes is also 
varied, viz. " thoughtfulness and circumspection" (ver. 21). In the next, former 
modes of statement recur (comp. ver. 3, sqq.^. 

I. Religion strengthens and steadies the perckption. (Ver. 23.) Perfect 
unconsciousness of danger, as in the child, the somnambulist, etc., is often seen to be 
a condition of security in walking in dangerous places. And so may the mind be 
unconscious of danger through the full enfolding in God. But better is the safe Step 
which is given by the perfect knowledge -both of danger and the resources against it 
This is found in religion. We know what is against us, still more who is for us, and 
so pass on with head erect and footstep firm. 

II. Heligion controls the imagination. (Vers. 24, 25.) The indefinable in 
space and time continually besets the fancy, and, especially in certain temperaments, 
fills it with images of gloom and terror. The timid heart forebodes some sudden 
" tempest of the wicked," some onrush of malice and violence out of the dark. What 
a chapter of " imaginary terrors " could be filled from the experience of many such • 
one! But faith fortifies the imagination, preoccupying it With the thought of the 
almighty Defender (compare the beautiful Ps. xci.).— -J. 

Vers. 27, 28. — Promptitude in good actions. L Negative ukkindness. (Vor. 27.) 
1. It consists in withholding good which it is in our power to impart. 2, It is 
analogous to the refusal to pay a Just debt. Kindness is the "due " of our fellow-men. 
This docs not imply the giving to every beggar or borrower. No act is required which, 
under the show of kindness, involves no real benefit to another or actually involves an 
injustice to ourself or another. We must carry these precepts to the light of the 
heart and of the discriminating intelligence. Speaking generally, suUenness, unsociability, 
extreme taciturnity, self-absorption, are forms of the sin. 

II. Procrastination condemned. (Ver. 28.) Remember: 1. That to give promptly 
is to give twice ; that the deferred gift loses its bloom ; that unnecessary delay is a 
fraud on the time and temper of others; that of everything we intend to do we had 
best m ke the beginning at once, which, the Roman poet says, is " half the deed." 2. 
Tu dciL-r a duty till to-morrow may be to defer it for ever. A lost opportunity of doing 
pood is a sad sting In the memory. These negative warnings infer the positive lesson 
cf promptitude. (1) Now is the acceptable time for ourselves and our own salvation. 
(2) It may also be the acceptable time for others' salvation. How admirable to be 
oue of those who, amidst whatever pressure, can find time to listen, to comfort, to help 
their brethren, to-day, at once ! — J. 

Vers 29 — 31. — Odious passions. Let them be held up in the clear exposure of 
Wisdom, that their very mention may snggest their hideoueness. 

I. Malice and its devices. (Ver. 29.) Literally, "Forge not ill against thy 
neighbour." 1. Malice, like love, is all-inventive. But as the devices of the latter 
are the very instruments of progress and good, so those of the former are pernicious — 
burglar's tools, cunning instruments of torture. 2. Directed against unsuspectiog 

CH. in. 1^35.] THE PBOVERBS. 11 

objects, malice is truly Satanic, an inspiration from hell. We have to beware of indul- 
gunce in curiosity about our neighbours; it is seldom free from some taint of malice in 
thought, which may pass over at any moment into action. Something in our neigh- 
bour's life may rebuke us and rouse the latent pasision. How near are the angel and 
the devil to one another in the heart ! 

II. Unprovoked ctontentioubnbss. (Ver. 30.) In other words, quarrdsomeness. 
The vicious habit and disposition to "pick quarrels," to invent occasions for fault- 
finding, for the exercise of pugnacity, and so on. The man of whom it is said that if 
left alone in the world he would fight with his own shadow. Let him contend with his 
own vices, of which this temper is a symptom, and expend his pugnacity upon the 
evils of society. There are men before whose presence all the sleeping germs of wrath 
start up into chaotic life. (Dould they but see themselves as others see them I 

III. Enty of the wicked obeat. (Ver. 31.) As emulation of the virtuous great 
is a noble passion, this, the reverse aide of it, is correspondingly base. Imitation, again, 
is a powerful passion, the source of "fashion." The pare spirit knows nothing of 
fashion as such; and immoral fashion, born of mere imitation, it must avoid and 
lieuounce. 1. Every passion has its obverse and its reverse, its good and its evil side ; 
malice may be turned to benevolence; idle quarrelsomeness to noble pugnacity; 
immoral envy to pure emulation. 2. Religion intensifies, pitrifies, directs, the passions 
to noble ends. — J. 

Vers. 32 — 35. — ITte diseemment of Jehovah. This is a leading thought of the Old 
Testament. In ordinary life, in civilized times, the character of individuals is concealed 
from us by the intermixtures of society and the complexity of its interests. Even in 
village life it is difficult to classify people ; but God distinguishes in — 

I. His view of individual crabaoteb. 1. He abominates the perverse, the 
crooked, twisted, deceitful character. All in the spirit must be compared with that 
ideal geometrical rectitude of form, so to speak, which is the truth of his Being. 2. 
With the upright he "maintains good friendship" (ver. 32), or "is in secret alliance" 
(Job xxix. 4 ; Ps. xxv. 14). To enjoy the friendship of discerning minds, what greater 
privilege can there be? To live on such terms with God is the privilege of the true 

II. His peovidential administbation. "His curse dwells in the house of the 
wicked." A fatality of evil cliogs to- him and his. But Jehovah blesses the tent of 
the righteous. He scoffs at the scoffer, but gives to the lowly grace (comp. Jas. iv. 6 ; 
1 Pet. V. 5). The wise under this administration inherit glory, while ignominy carries 
away the fools. 1. These are, in the mode of their presentation, generalized or abstract 
truths, and as such must be understood. The study of apparent exceptions, even the 
admission of them, is foreign to this phase of Oriental thought. It was the presence 
of exceptions, insoluble to ancient thought, which excited the doubt and grief of Job 
and some of the psalmists. 2. While the truth must be stated, from the exigencies 
of language, in this sharp polar antithesis, actual human character is found, with all 
its merits and shades, in the intermediate region. 3. The subtle intermixtures of good 
and evil in human character, recognized by modern thought, defy complete analysis. 
We must suspend our judgment in particular cases, leaving all to him who brings to 
light the hidden things of darkness ; conscious that there must be great " reversals of 
human jjidgment" upon the character of man (see Mozley's sermon on this subject). — J. 

Vers. 1 — L-^Cherishing the truth. We have here — 

I. The essential thing implied. It is implied that the Law of God has been 
heard and understood ; also that it has been received as Divine, and taken as the true 
guide of life. The teacher or preacher has sometimes to assume this; but too often 
it is an assumption unjustified by the facts. When it is justified, there come — 

IL Two specially valuable vibtues insisted ui>on. Mercy and truth (ver. 3) 
are to be exem])lifio(1. 1. Mercy, which includes (1) compassion, or the pity one should 
■how to the unfortuuate and the suffering ; and (2) clemency, or a lenient view taken 
and a generous spirit shown in presence of error and wrong-doing, particularly ot 
injury done to ourselves. 2. Truth, which includes (1) veracity in language; (2) 
■incerity of heart ; (8) honesty and uprightness of action. 

78 THE PROVERBS. [oh. m. 1— 3Ri 

m. A MATTES OF OBEAT MOMENT ENFOBCED. Tbis is the cheiishing of the truth 
by the spirit which has received it in the love of it. "My son, forget not my law; . . . 
let thine heart keep," etc. (ver. 1) ; " Bind them about thy neck ; write them upon the 
tablet of thine heart " (ver. 3). If these precepts are to be duly carried out, and there 
is thus to be a continuance in well-doing, and even a growth therein, then must there 
be : 1. The dwelling upon them by the mind ; that must be a mental habit carefully 
cultivated. 2. The placing ourselves where they will he urged on our attention and 
commended to our affection (the sanctuary, the Lord's table, the society of the holy, 
etc.). 3. The wise study of them as illustrated in the lives of the worthiest of our 
race. 4. The use of any and every means by which they will be seen by us to be the 
beautiful and blessed things they are. The children of Wisdom will not only receive 
gladly the truth of God, but they will cherish it carefully ; they will water with diligent 
hand the plant which has been sown and which has sprung up in the soul. " Let not 
the workman lose what he has wrought." If we continue in the word of Christ, then 
are we his disciples indeed (see John viii. 31 ; xv. 9 ; Acts xiii. 43). 

IV. A LAKGE BLESSING PROMISED. (Vcrs. 2, 4.) Under the Law, temporal bless- 
ings were more abundantly held in view ; then the wise were promised long life, comfort, 
and human estimation, as well as the favour of God. Under the gospel, temporal 
prosperity takes the second place, spiritual and heavenly well-being the first. But we 
may urge that conformity to the will of God as revealed in his Word : 1, Tends to 
bodily health and strength ; if that does not secure it, assuredly disobedience will not 
2. Tends to secure a life of tranquillity. " Peace," as well as "length of days," it is 
likely to add ; equanimity of mind and the comfort which is the consequence of right 
and kind behaviour. 3. Tends to win the esteem and the affection of our iLeighbours. 
" Favour in the sight of man." 4. Ensures the love and the blessing of .^Jmighty 
God.— C. 

Vers. 5, 6, 7 (first part). — Self-distrust and trust in Ood. If we would realize God's 
thought concerning us, we shall — 

I. Cherish a deep distrust of ourselves. We are not to " lean unto our own 
understanding," or to " be wise in our own eyes " (vers. 5, 7). 1. We shall certainly 
have a sense of our own insufSciency if we weigh our own human weakness ; if we 
consider how little we know of (1) human nature generally ; and of (2) our own hearts 
in particular ; of (3) the real character and disposition of those connected with us ; of 
(4) the whole circle of law by which we are surrounded on every side ; of (5) the events 
which are in the (even) near future ; of (6) the vdtimate effect of our decisions on our 
circumstances and our character. 2. So also if we consider the disastrous results that 
have followed presumption in this matter. How often have we seen men, confident of 
their own capacity, staking everything on their own judgment, and miserably disap- 
pointed with the issue 1 Men of this spirit, who carry self-reliance (which is a virtue) 
to an exaggerated and false assurance of their own sagacity, not only dig a deep grave 
for their own happiness, but usually involve others also in their ruin. Neither in (1) 
the affairs of this life, nor (2) in the larger issues of the spiritual realm, should we lean 
all the weight of our own and of others' prosperity on our own poor finite under- 

II. Look devoutly upward. We are to maintain: 1. A whole-hearted trust in 
God (ver. 6). A profound assurance that (1) he is regarding us ; (2) he is divinely 
interested in our welfare ; (3) he will see that we have all we need, and go in the way 
in which it is best for us to walk. 2. A continual acknowledgment (ver. 6). We are 
to acknowledge God (1) by referring everything to him in our own heart; (2) by 
consulting and applying his will as revealed in his Word; (3) by praying for and 
expecting his Divine direction ; so shall we acknowledge him " in aU our ways." This 
trust and acknowledgment are inclusive and not exclusive of our own individual endea- 
vour. We are to think well, to consult wisely, to act diligently, and then to trust 
whoUy. Whoso does the last without the first is guiltily and daringly presumptuous ; 
whoso does the first without the last is guiltily irreverent and unbelieving. 

IIL Reckon confidbntlt on Divine direction. "He shall direct thy paths" 
(ver. 6). As a very little child, left alone in the streets of a great city, can but wander 
aimlessly about, and will surely fail of reaching home, so we, lost in the maze of thii 

cm. m. 1—35.] THE PROVEBBS. 79 

leething, Btraggling, incompreliensible world — world of circumstance and world of 
thought — can but make vain guesses as to our true course, and are certain to wander 
far from the home of God. What the shrewdest and cleverest of men most urgently 
and sorely need is the guiding hand of a heavenly Father, who, through all the 
labyrinths of life, past all the by-paths of error and evil, will conduct us to truth, 
righteousness, wisdom, heaven. If we trust him wholly, and acknowledge him freely 
and fully, we may confidently expect that he will (1) lead our feet along the path of 
gutward life ; (2) guide our minds into the sanctuary of heavenly truth ; (3) help our 
souls up the ennobling heights of holiness ; (4) direct our steps to the gates of the city 
of God ; and (5) finally welcome us within its " golden streets." — 0. 

Vers. 7 (second part), 8. — A three-linked chain. We have — 

L Piety. " Fear the Lord." It is the faculty which distinguishes the meanest 
man from the noblest brute, which raises our race immeasurably above the next 
below it. Man can fear God. He can (1) recognize his Maker ; (2) bow down in 
lowly but manly reverence before God ; (3) render to him the gratitude of a heart 
mindful of his many mercies; (4) subject his will to the will Divine; (5) order his 
life according to the written Word. 

II. MoRALiTT. " Depart from evil." The outcome of piety is morality. 1. The 
morality which rests not on the basis of piety (the fear of the Lord) is on an insecure 
foundation. Change of circumstance, of friends, of fashions, may blow it down. 2. 
The morality which depends on the " thou shalt" and " thou shalt not" of the Supreme 
is safe against all the winds that blow: J'or the dark hour of powerful temptation 
there is no such barrier against sin and ruin as the conviction, " How can 1 do this 
great wickedness and sin against God ? " For the bright hour of obligation there is no 
such animating incitement as " that Christ may be magnified in me." The third link 
in this heaven-forged chain is — 

III. Health. " It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones." Sick- 
ness of body may be the portion of the best of men or women. Some are bom to suffer 
until they die and pass to the blessed country where the inhabitant will never say, " I am 
sick." But the constant tendency of piety and its invariable accompaniment morality 
is to give (1) health and strength of bodily frame; the pure blood, the clear eye, the 
strong muscle, the steady nerve, the " green old age." It regularly gives (2) an active 
mind; and it necessarily imparts (3) a soul that is "in health " (3 John 2). The man 
who fears God and departs from evU is the man who is fitted and is likely to have the 
largest show of vigorous, robust, healthy life in all its forms. — 0. 

Vers. 9, 10. — The Divine responsiveness. There are two ways in which God blesses 
us — unconditionally and conditionally. We receive very much from him in virtue of 
his originating and spontaneous goodness. We may, if we will, receive much from him 
also as the result of his faithful response to our appeal. The text suggests to us the 
truth, which has manifold illustrations, that if we take toward him the attitude which 
he desires us to assume, he will visit us with appropriate and corresponding blessings. 

I. If we love him, he will love us. True, indeed, it is that "we love him 
because he first loved us" (1 John iv. 19), his own Divine beneficence is the source of 
all hunjan affection; but it is also true that "if a man love me (Christ), he will keep 
my words, and my Father will love hiin " (John xiv. 23). Our love of God, of Jesus 
Christ, will meet with a large response in the outpouring of Divme affection toward us. 
God will love us with the fiilness of parental, rejoicing love. , t j t 

n If we trust him, he will trust us. Those who believe in the Lord Jesus 
Christ, and thus become his sons (John i. 12), are the objects of his Divine trust 
God does not prescribe to his reconciled children the hours, places, forms, methyls, and 
means of service. He leaves these to the promptings of the filial spirit, to the decision 
of the understanding which has been consecrated to him. He makes known to us his 
will that he should be served and his creatures blessed and saved; then he trusts us 
to put out our energies in all wise ways to fulfil his purpose. His treatment of us la 
in response to our attitude towards him. ■■ ons 

III. If wb honour him, he will honour us. (1 Sam. u. 30.) _ 

IV If wk give of oub substance to him, he will enrich us. 1 Jus is tin 

80 THE PBOVBRB& foH, m. 1— 35. 

illustration which our text supplies (see Deut. xxvi,). The children of Israel were 
encouraged to bring of their firstfruits and to present them unto the Lord, and to 
expect that, if they gave thus to God, he would give, in like way, to them, enlarging 
and enriching them (Mai. iii. 10 — 12). And not only were they taught thus to look 
on gifts of piety, but also of charity ; these should be repaid by the observing and 
responsive Lord (ch, xix. 17). It may be asked how far we may go in anticipating 
like rewards at the hand of God now. And the answer is : 1. We are not to expect 
that God will enrich us in substance irrespective of other conditions (2 Thess. iii. 10). 
This would be a premium on idleness and imprudence. It will always be "the band 
of the diligent that will make rich." 2. But labour and frugality being understood, 
the man wKo " seeks first the kingdom of God," who " acknowledges him in all his 
ways " (ver. 6), and who liberally gives to his cause (specially remembering his " little 
ones" — his poor), may look for large blessings at his hand. At least sufficiency now 
(Matt. vi. 33 ; Phil. iv. 19), and glorious abundance soon and for ever (John xiv. 13, 
14; xvi. 9).— C. 

Vers. 11, 12. — Wrong views of affliction, and the right one. Sorrow is a very large 
ingredient in the cup of human life. It begins so early and lasts so long ; it lies so 
near the surface and it strikes so deep into our nature ; it is so certain that we shall 
meet with it before long, and so likely that we may renew our acquaintance with it very 
soon, that they must be unwise indeed who do not prepare for its coming, and they 
must be losers indeed who do not know how to treat it when it knocks at their door. 
There are — 

I. Many mistakes wb mat make about it. 1. We may treat it thoughtlessly ; 
we may " despise the chastening of the Lord " (ver. 11). We may allow ourselves to 
have " the sorrow of the world," of which Paul speaks (2 Cor. viL 10) ; i.e. we may 
decline to consider what it means ; content ourselves with the sullen thought that we 
have something that we must endure as best we can, not attempting to discover whence 
it comes or what it means. 2. We may conclude that it is only accidental. This is 
another way of "despising the chastening of the Lord." We may take that view 
which is intellectually the most easy and spiritually the most barren, and refer oni 
trouble to the " course of events ; " we may recognize no guiding hand, we may decide, 
with off-handed readiness, that we are the unhappy victims of unkind circumstances, 
and go on our way " grinding our teeth " with impatient spirit. 3. We may be 
crushed under the weight of it. We may (to use the words in Heb. xiL 5) " faint 
when we are rebuked." We may suffer a spiritual collapse, may meet affliction with 
an unmanly spirit of prostration, and, instead of bending bravely beneath the yoke and 
bearing it, break down utterly and miserably. 4. We may repine under long continu- 
ance of it. We may "be weary" of God's correction. Sometimes, when afflictii^n is 
long-continued, men feel that eitiher God has nothing to do with them at all, or thai 
he is not regarding their prayer, or that he is punishing them above thai whicii mty 
are able to bear,_and they repine; they are weary in their spirit, querulous in their 
tone, perhaps positively complaining in their speech. But there is — 

II. Thk one bight way uf WHICH TO TAKE IT. And that is to accept it as the 
torrecHon of fatherly kindness. " For whom the Lord lo'veth he correoteth," etc (ver. 
12). 1. We may be God's unreconciled children, and he is seeking to win us to 
himself 2. Or we may have returned to him, but need fatherly correction. He may 
be rebuking us for some departure from his will. He may be desirous of removing the 
spirit of pride or of selfishness, or of worldliness, and of leading us along paths of 
humility, self-surrender, spirituality. Certainly he is seeking our truest welfare, our 
highest good, our lasting joy. Let each affiicted heart ask — What is the lesson the 
Father wishes me to learn?-— C. 

Vers. 13 — 26. — Wisdom's inestimahle worth. Here are found many strong recommen- 
dations of heavenly wisdom, and we might adopt the thirteenth verse as a refhun to 
each one of them: "Happy is the man tliat findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth 


Only by wisdom could the Divine Founder of all visible things make them what' they 

OH. ni. 1—35.] THE PROVERBS. 81 

•re. His wonder-workings in the heavens above and on the earth beneath, in sun and 
star, in grain and grass, in coal and iron, in i ain and dew, — all are the product of Divinu 

II. Possessors of it, wb have a well-bbino that enbubes. " Length of days 
is in her right hand " (ver. 16). " She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon 
her " (ver. 18). They who fear God are more likely than others to " be satisfied with 
long hfe " (Ps. xci. 16). For the secret of strength is with those who are obedient to 
law ; but though they should die before old age, yet (1) so long as life lasts their well- 
being will continue, and (2) when their earthly life is takeo, their heritage is in the 
everlasting Ufe beyond, where there is " length of days" indeed. 

III. It is the source of genuine esteem. " In her left hand . . . honour " (ver 
16). It may, indeed, be that the children of wisdom are disregarded or even despised. 
But that is the painful exception to the rule. The rule is, everywhere and in every 
age, that those who consult God's will in the guidance of their life are honoured of 
their brethren, enjoy the esteem of the worthiest of their neighbours, live and die in 
the fragrance of general regard. 

IV. It 18 THE ONE security AGAINST SIN. (Ver. 23.) How many are "the 
stumblers," those who trip and fall as they ascend or descend the hill of life ! And 
how serious, sometimes, are these falls! Character, reputation, joy, the light of other 
hearts, the happiness of the home, — all gone through the one false step I We have 
urgent need of some security. In what shall this be found? Not in hedgings and 
fencings which will take away every possible danger, but in the wisdom of the wise, 
which will teach us where to go and how to tread the path of life, in the " wisdom 
which is from above." 

V. It qoaeantebs the guardianship of God, and thus ensures confidence 
AND PEACE. (Vers. 24 — 26.) Ihere are those whose life is full of slavish fear; by day 
they dread the evils which assail the wicked, by night the perils of the darkness. 
But he who keeps God's Word enjoys the guardianship of his Almighty arm. " The 
Lord is his confidence ;" his days are spent in quietness and calmness, and " his sleep 
is sweet " (Ps. cxii. 7). 

VI. It is the PERENNIAL SPRING OF PEACE AND JOT. (Vers. 17, 18.) Other sources 
of gratification are to be found, but some of them do not carry the sanction of con- 
science, some of them are out of the reach of the. lowly, others are only open to tbe 
learned or the favoured ; most, if not all of them, are short-lived, and become of less 
worth as they are more frequently employed. 'The wisdom which comes from God 
and which leads to Liai, which makes the human spirit the friend and follower of the 
Son of God, brings a " peace which passes all understanding," the " peace of God," and 
"joys which through all time abide." 

VII. It 18 THE REALIZATION OF HUMAN LIFE. Wisdom IS a " tree of life " (ver. 18); 
wisdom and discretion " shall be life unto our soul " (ver. 22). Any existence which 
is not illumined, ennobled, sanctified, beautified (ver. 22, "grace to thy neck"), by 
these, is something less than life in the sight of God. Only with these and by these 
do we attain to a state of being which the Wise One who sees things as they are 
recognizes as the life of man. 

Wherefore: 1. Count it worth while to secure this heavenly wisdom at all costs 
whatsoever (vers. 14, 15). Its value cannot be estimated in gold ; the price of wisdom 
is above rubies (Job xxviii. 18). Nothing is to be compared with it. Part, if necessary, 
with the largest fortune to obtain it (Mark x. 21 ; ch. xxiii. 23). 2. Take care to 
cherish and retain it (ver. 24). Let the most precious pearl fall, but hold this with a 
hand that will not unclasp.— 0. 

Vers. 27 — 32. — Four valuable virtues. There are some graces which, though not of 
the first importance, are yet far from being unimportant. Many men so fashion their 
lives that while, upon the whole, they are rightly reckoned among the wise and good, 
they are much less happy, less honoured, and less useful than they might become if 
they heeded a few small things. If we had regard to some of the minor moralities 
which we are apt to neglect, there would be less friction and more beauty in our lives 
than is now seen of God and felt of man. , 

1. Punctuality is tub payment of that which is dub. (Vers. 27, 28.) These 


82 THE PROVERBS. [oh. ni. 1—35. 

dues may be (1) the wages of the workman ; (2) the debt contracted with the trades- 
man ; (3) the sum promised to the relative or friend. This may be denied, even when 
it could be easily rendered, through an " avaricious reluctance " to part with money or 
a culpable disregard of other men's necessities and claims. Such default is not worthy 
of a godly, a Christian man. 

II. Conscientiousness towards our friends. (Ver. 29.) Too many men are 
inclined to abuse the confidence their kindred or friends put in them, or the generosity 
they are prepared to show them. Such men draw unscrupulously on the trust or the 
bounty of others. It is a serious departure from perfect rectitude, and should be 
disallowed to themselves by all who fear God and would follow Christ. Those who 
" dwell securely by us," who have confided in us, are those whom every principle of 
honest self-respect demands that we should treat with scrupulous integrity. 

III. Peacbableness of spirit. (Ver. 30.) The lives of many are embittered by 
the quarrelsomeness of their neighbours. Offence, never intended, is taken, bitter 
words are spoken, a hostile attitude is assumed, all friendly relations are broken off, 
malicious insinuations are thrown out ; in fact, " there is war between the house " of 
this man and that man, when there is positively nothing on which to found a complaint. 
A very small allowance of charity would cure this evil spirit, if only taken in time. 
Charity would hide a multitude of sins in the sense of preventing them altogether, if 
men would but attribute kind motives to their neighbours, or inquire sufficiently before 
they condemn, or even wait a while before they strike, to see if there is no other and 
better way of arranging a dispute. If it be possible — and it very often it possible, 
when men imagine it is not — we should "live peaceably with all men" (Rom, 
xii. 18). 

IV. Freedom from fbettino entt. Many good men are, upon the whole, what 
God would have them to be, and they have from him all that they can reasonably ask 
at his hand ; their well-being is such as to constitute the condition of thankfulness and 
joy. Yet the cup of their life is made bitter and unpalatable because they are envious 
ef the successful oppressor (ver. 31) ; they " fret themselves because of evil-doers," and 
are envious against the workers of iniquity (Ps. xixvii. 1, 8 ; Ixxiii. 3). They think, 
perhaps, that if bad men are as prosperous as they seem to be, they (the good) ought 
to be far more successful than they find themselves to be. Surely this is both sinful 
and foolish. 1. It is discontentment with God's arrangement, and a querulous chal- 
lenging of his administration of human affairs. 2. It is forgetfulness of the fact that 
God's severest anger rests on the oppressor, and that he is therefore the last man to be 
envied ; he is " abomination to the Lord " (ver. 32). Would we change places with 
him f 3. It overlooks the fact that the righteous man is enjoying the friendship of 
God — surely an advantage that immeasurably outweighs the wealth or honour which 
the oppressor has stolen. " The secret of the Lord " is with him. He is God's trusted 
servant, Christ's intimate friend (see Ps. xxv. 14 ; John xv. 14, 15 ; xiv. 23). — 0. 

Vers. 33 — 35. — The height of wdl-heing and the depth of Hl-being. The issues of 
righteousness and unrighteousness are here very broadly stated. These verses indicate 
to us the long and large results of wisdom on the one hiand and of folly on the other. 

I. Those whom God favours and that which he apportions them. There are 
three epithets by which they are here characterized; they are called " the just," " the 
lowly," and " the wise." In those whom God loves and means to bless there are found 

(1) the spirit of humility, — they are conscious of their own demerit and nnworthiness; 

(2) the spirit of wisdom, — they are in the attitude of inquiry towards God, desirous of 
knowing his truth and doing his will; and (3) the spirit of conscientiousness, — ^ttiey are 
the "just," wishful to do that which is right toward their fellows, to act honestly, 
fairly, considerately, in the various relations they sustain. These God loves, and on 
them he will bestow his Divine benediction. 1. He will give them " grace " — his own 
royal favour and that which draws down upon them the genial and gracious regard of 
men. 2. He will bless them in their home life. He " blesseth the habitation of the 
just." He wiU give them purity, love, honour, affection, peace, joy in their most 
intimate relations ; so that their homes shall be blessed. He will be known as the 
" God of the families of Israel." 3. And He will give them exaltation in the end. 
" The wise shall inherit glory." " Unto the upright there will arise light in the dark- 

OH. IV. 1—27.] 


ness." Present gloom shall give place to glory, either now on this side the graven or 
hereafter in " that world of light." 

11. Those with whom God is Di8Pr.BA8BD and his awfcl maledictions on them. 
These are also thrice characterized here ; they are " the wicked," " the scorners," '' fools." 
These are they who (1) in their folly reject the counsel of God ; who (2) in their guilt 
yield themselves up to sin in its various forms ; who (3) in their arrogance scoff at all 
sacred things — the "scorners;" this la the last and worst development of sin, the 
treatment of things holy and Divine with flippant irreverence. These God regards 
with Divine disapproval ; them he strongly condemns and visits with fearful penalty. 
1. His wrath is on themselves. He "scorneth the scorners." " He that sittetli in the 
heavens laughs" at them, he "has them in derision" (Ps. ii. 4). His feeling toward 
them and his power over them are such that they have reason to apprehend overthrow 
and ruin at any hour (see Ps. Ixxiii. 19, 20). 2. His curse is on their house (ver. 33). 
They may expect that in their domestic relations they will have, as in fact they do 
have, saddest occasions of sorrow and remorse. 3. His hand is against their hope. 
They may be anticipating great things for themselves in the future, their castles are 
high and strong in the air, their hope is great; but "lol sudden destruction," the winrl 
of heaven blows, and all is brought into desolation. God touches their fine structure 
with hlB finger, and it is in ruins. " Shame is the promotion of fools." — 0. 



Yen. 1 — 27. — 7. Seventh admonitory 
discouree. We here enter upon the second 
group of admonitory discourses, as is indicated 
by the opening address, " my children," and 
which occurs again in ch. v. 7 and viL 24. 
This group extends to the end of ch. vii. 
Its prevailing tone is that of warning rather 
than of positive exhortations, which have 
been the rule hitherto. The general aim of 
the discourse before us, as of those preceding, 
18 to exalt Wisdom, to exhibit her as a 
subject worthy of all earnest endeavour and 
sacrifice, but it is noticeable that the teacher 
introduces a fresh feature into his teachmg 
or mode of instruction, in order to procure 
attention to, and acceptance ot^ his precepts 
on the part of his hearers. He has already 
spoken in Ids own name and with his own 
authority ; he has brought forward Wisdom 
personified as making her appeal; he now 
adduces the authority of his own father's 
advice to himself. But as the mode of 
emphasizing his admonitions varies, so 
Wisdom is many-sided, and the aspect under 
which she is now presented seems to be 
especially that of discipline and obedieuce. 
The key-not» of the discourse seems to be 
struck in the word "instruction," i.e. 
discipline, in the original, musor, thus 
recalling the admonition in oh. i. 8, "My 
son, hear the instruction of thy father." 

Bohlius, in hii 'Ethloa Sacra,' disp. vi. 
p. 65, tqq., assigns "discipline" (musar) to 
this chapter ; and Melancthon describes the 
admonitions of the chapter before us as 
" adhortationes ad studium obedientise " 
Discipline rising into obedience seems to ba 
the predominant thought to which all others 
are made subordinate. The discourse ia an 
enlargement or amplification of this aspect 
of Wisdom. In structure the discourse 
consists mainly of the father's advice (vers. 
4 — 19), preceded and followed by the 
teacher's own admonitions in vers. 1 — 3 and 
20 — 27. The chief topics touched upon are 
(1) the supreme importance of Wisdom as 
being " the principal thing " to be obtained 
before everything else (vers. 7—9) ; (2) tlie 
two ways that lie open to the choice of 
youth, distinguished respectively as the wt v 
of light and the way of darkness (vert 
14 — 19); and (B) the guarding of the heart 
with all diligence, as being the seat of 
conscience and the fountain of life in its 
moral sense (vers. 23 — 27). The first part 
of the discourse is characterized by exhorta- 
tions accompanied by promises ; the latter 
part takes the form of warning, and warning 
of an alarming nature. The harmony which 
exists between the allusions in the discoursd 
and the facts recorded in the historical 
books of Samuel and Chronicles serves to 
indicate that we have before us, in substance 
at least, the advice which David gave to 



[cH. IV. 1—27, 

Solomon, and that the discourse is Solomonic. 
Compare especially ver. 3 witli 1 Chron. 
xxviiL S and zxii. 9, and ver. 18 with the 
last words of David in 2 Sam. xxiii. 4. 

Ver. 1. — Hear, ye children, the instmction 
of a father. This exhortation is identical 
witli tliat in ch. i. 8, except that the address, 
"ye children," indicating a new departure, 
Is now used instead. of "my son," which has 
been hitherto employed (see ch. i. 8 ; ii. 1 ; 
iii. 1, 21), and "of thy father" is altered to 
"of a father." The verb is the same, 
occurring here, of course, in the plural 
number. The appeal is evidently intended 
to rouse attention. Attention is especially 
necessary to secure a knowledge of Divine 
truth. Ye children (bhdnim). This address 
occurs again twice in the second group of 
admonitory discourses — ^in ch. v.7 and viL 24, 
and also in the appeal of Wisdom personified 
in ch. viii. 32, and, with these exceptions, 
nowhere else in the Proverbs. It is used by 
David, and it is possible that when the 
teacher penned these words he had in mind 
Ps. xxxiv. 11, "Come, ye cliildren, hearken 
unto me; I will teach you the fear of tlie 
Lord." The similarity in the address serves 
to connect the teacher of wisdom with 
David, and thus to identify him with 
Solomon, while it also leads to the conclusion 
that the advice which follows in vers. 4 — 19 
is in substance that which David had given 
his son. On "instruction," see ch. i. 8. 
0/ a father (dv). It is difficult, owing 
to the want of the pronominal suffix, to 
determine accurately whether the teacher is 
referring to himself or to his own father in 
the expression. The following verse (2) 
would indicate that he is speaking of himself 
in his capacity as a teacher or instructor of 
jouth. But it is quite possible that he 
may be referring to hia own father, whose 
advice he had received, and which he is 
now about to lay before others in vers. 4 — 19, 
Though attentiou to paternal advice in 
general, •'.«. instruction given by any father 
to his chililreu, is not intended here, still 
the passage may be regarded as embodying 
the principle that attentiou to parental 
advice is incumbent on children, and a 
disregai-d of it is the mark of ingratitude 
and depravity. Babbi Levi understands 
tl e phrase as referring to our heavenly 
Father. Attend (hahehivu, hiph. imperative 
of Ttdshdv). On the force of this verb as 
iignifying "earnest, absorbed attention," 
see ch. i. 24. To know understanding 
(IdddSth bind); i.e. in order that you may 
know or gain uuderstanding. The infinitive 
marks tlie deeign or object of the attention 
(cf. the Vulgato,u( eciatis). The expression 
corresponds with Iddddth kholcmah in ch. 
L 2, »nd just aa thia signifies " to appropriate 

to yourself wisdom," so the one before ni 
has the same force, and signifies the gaining 
or appropriation of understanding, i.e. the 
faculty of discernment or discrimination. 
Hitzig renders, "to know with the under- 
standing;" i.e. to know intelligently, but 
this does not seem to be the meaning of 
the phrase. 

Ver. 2. — For I give yon good doctrine. 
This, while stating the reason for the 
exhortation in the previous verse, signifies 
that what the teacher has given and is 
giving, he has received from his father. 1 
give; ndthali, literally, " I gave," is the kal 
perfect of ndthan, " to give," but the perfect 
is here used for the present, as denoting not 
only a past action, but one that is still 
continuing (Gesenius, 'Heb. Gram.,' § 126. 
3). Good doctrine (Wealth tdv). The doctrine 
or instruction is "good," not only intrin- 
eically, but as to the source from which it 
was derived, and in its efiects, Likdkh is, 
according to its root Idkdkh, "something 
which is received or taken." From the 
standpoint of the teacher it is that instruction 
which he had received of his father. With 
respect to his hearts it is the instruction 
which is communicated to them, and which 
they receive (see en ch. i. 5). The LXX 
renders, Siipov ayoBhr ; similarly tiie Vulgate, 
donum bonum, "a good gift." Torsake ye 
not ; Sl-tSaz6mii, from dzdv, " to leave, 
forsake" (compare the corresponding phrase, 
Sl-tiltSsh, from ndtash, "to leave, forsake," 
in ch. i. 8). Law (tSrSK); as in ch. i. 8. 

Ver. 3. — ^For I was my father's son. This 
is more than the mere statement of a physical 
fact. It indicates that the teacher was in 
the highest degree an object of endearment 
to his father, just as he states in the second 
hemistich that he held a unique position in 
the afiection of his mother. The statement 
agrees with the historical record. Solomon 
would be more than ordinarily dear to his 
father, as being a child of promise, as " the 
beloved of the Lord," and as the son whom 
the Divine will had pointed as the successor 
to his throne, and the one on whom was to 
devolve the building of the temple (see 
2 Sam. vii. 12, 13; xii. 24; 1 Chron. xxii. 9). 
Bertheau explains, "I also once stood in 
the relation to my (actual) father in which 
you stand to me your paternal instructor," 
thus giving prominence rather to the con- 
secution of the passage, and preparing the 
way for the reception of the father's advice 
which is to follow. But this rather loses 
sight of what appears an important element 
in the instruction, that not only was it 
" good," but that it was dictated by affection. 
The writer is fortifying and strengthening 
his instruction by the authority of his fiiither, 
showing that what he was laying before 
others he had had placed before him; and 

CB. nr. 1—27.] 



■8 hi$ fother'* advice was th« ontoome of 
affectioD, so he addresses bis hearers in the 
same spirit. Dathe and others connect 
"tender" (rofc) with "son" (jbin), and render, 
"I WAS a son dear to my father." So 
tte LXX., which, however, understands 
" tender " in the sense of " tractable," 
" obedient : " " For I was an obedient son 
to my father " — a meaning which the word 
rdk can. only bear as indicating the suscepti- 
bility of the young to receive impressions. 
In general, rak means "tender," "soft," and 
has reference to the weakness and helpless- 
ness of the young; comp. Gen. xxxiii. 13, 
"My lord knoweth that tVie cljildren are 
tender (raklcim)" Combined witli ydkhid, 
which follows, it signifies, in the pnssage 
before us, that the teacher was an object of 
tender care or love. The Vulgate tenellue, 
the diminutive of tener, as signifying "some- 
what tender or delicate," reproduces the 
idea of the Hebrew rak. In the word the 
teacher recalls his early life and the 
instruction in wisdom which he received in 
it. Only beloved; literally, only {ydkhid), 
as " beloved " does not occur in the original. 
The Vulgate renders, unigenitus; Aquila, 
Synnnachus,. and Theodotion, fiovoyevtjs, 
i.e. " only begotten ; " but this was not 
literally the fact, as Bathsheba, the mother 
of Solomon, had other sons (2 Sam. v. 14 ; 
1 Chron. iii. 5). Both the Hebrew ydkhid, 
"only," and the Vulgate unigenitus, "only 
begotten," consequently signify what is 
expressed by the LXX. ayair^iievos, i.e. 
" toloved." Solomon was so beloved of his 
mother as if he were an only child. So 
yakhtd is used of Isaac in Gen. xxiL 2, 12 
in the same way, since at the time that 
Isaac was so designated, Ishmael, the other 
son of Abraham, was still living. The 
word ydkhid occurs in Ps. xxii. 20, where 
it is rendered " darling," and may possibly 
refer to Solomon. Jennings, in Ps. xxii. 20, 
understands it, however, of the life besides 
which the psalmist has no otlier — wnicam 
meam, as the Vulgate, t.e. "his only life " (c£ 
Pa. XXXV. 17; and for the word ydkhid, see 
Jer. V. 26 : Amos viii. 10 ; Zecli, xii. 10). 
In the sight of my mother (liph'ne immi) ; 
literally, ad facie) matris mess, or, before my 
mother} Vulgate, coram matre med, te. in 
her estimation (cf. Gen. xvii. 18). The 
mention of the mother is probably introduced 
here for the sake of poetic parallelism; cf. 
cb. i. 8 (Zockler). 

Ver. 4. — ^From this verse to ver. 19 in- 
clusive, the teacher quotes the instruction 
which he had received of his father. His 
object in doing so is to show tliat his own 
teaching wa» in harmony with it, and there- 
fore wortlxy of attention. His precepts, 
kdmonitions, and warnings are not his only, 
but those of hit father. Other examples of 

David's instructions to Solomon are fonnd 
in 1 Kings ii. 2; 1 Chron. xiiiv 12, 13; 

xxviii. 9. And he taught ; i.e. his father, for 
vayyorini is ma'iouline. The LXX. renders, 
" They said and taught me (ot iheyov koL 
iSiSao-icdv /ie)," as if the precepts which fol- 
low were the combined teaching of David and 
Bathsheba. This variation is duo to the 
mention of both parents in the preceding 
verse. Betain; xjitU'miHc, kal future, used 
imperatively, of thdmdk, "to take hold of," 
and metaphorically, as here, " to hold fast" 
(see ch. iii. 18). The LXX. renders 
ipetScTO), imperative of IpflSa, " to fix firm." 
Symmachus has Karexfru, " give heed to." 
And live ; i.e. and thou shalt live, as the 
kal imperative, kh'yeh, from khdydk, " to 
Uve," has here the force of the futnre 
(cf. Vulgate, el vives). The meaning is, 
" And tliou shalt enjoy a long and happy 
life." Temporal life alone seems to be in- 
dieated, as in ver. 10 (of. ch. iii. 2). The 
Syriac addition, "And my law as the apple 
of thine eye," is probably borrowed from ch. 
vii. 2, where we meet with the same admo- 

Ver. 5. — After the general exhortation 
given above, the father's instruction becomes 
more specific, and deals with the acquire- 
ment of wisdom. This subject seems to be 
continued in ver. 13, where the second and 
concluding branch of the instruction begins, 
whioli consists mainly of warning, as the 
first part does with exhortation. We are 
thiis furnished with an example how to 
teach. In our teaching it is not sufficient 
simply to point out what is to be done, but 
we must show what is to be avoided. Get 
wisdom, get understanding. The father 
urges the acquirement of wisdom in the 
same way and with the sam.e importunity 
as the trader or merchant presses his goods 
upon buyers. Wisdom and understanding 
are put forward as objects of merchandise ; 
for the verb kdndh, from which the impera- 
tive k'neh, signifies not only " to acquire for 
one's self," or " to possess," but especially " to 
buy." The verb occurs again in the same 
sense in ver. 7, " Get [fc'neft, ie. buy] wis- 
dom;" and in ch. xxiii. 23, "Buy (Jt'nth) 
the truth, and sell it not ; also wisdom, and 
instruction, and understanding" (cf. alsoch. 
XV. 22 ; xvi, 16 ; xix. 9, where we also meet 
with the same verb). The reiteration of the 
word "get," as Umbreit remarks, is "an 
imitation of the exclamation of a merchant 
who is offering his wares." The importunity 
of the father measures the value he sets upon 
wisdom as an inestimable treasure, a peturl of 
great price (see ch. iii. 14). Forget it not, 
etc. ; rather, /orjet noi, neither turn from- (he 
v)ord$ of my mouth, — so Zockler, Delitzsch, 
Hodg., and others ; Vulgate, ne oblivitearit, 
neqtte decline* a verbi$ oris met. There ia n« 



[oh. iy. 1—27, 

need to supply " it " »fter the verb al-tUh'- 
Jiahh, " forget not," as Holden states, and as 
appears in the Authorized Version, since 
ihdkakh is found with min (]D), "of" or 
" from," in Ps. lii. 4 (5), " I forgot to eat 
{shdliahh'ti meSkol)," and the same construc- 
tion niay obtain here. The two verbs, " for- 
get" and "decline from," are not bo very 
wide in meaning, since the former, ihakSlch, 
is to "leave" something from forgetfulness, 
and the latter, nataft, rendered here "decline 
from," is " to turn away " from something. 
The words of my mouth represent as it were 
the means by which wisdom may be pur- 

Ver. 7. — Wisdom is the principal thing | 
therefore get wisdom. The older versions, 
such as the Alexandrian LXX. (the verse is 
omitted by the Vatican LXX.), Targum, 
and Syriac, agree in rendering this verse, 
" The beginning of wisdom is get wisdom," 
which is equivalent to saying that the begiu- 
ning of wisdom consists in the acquisition of 
wisdom, or, as Umbreit explains, " in the 
resolution to get wisdom." That this ren- 
dering, which isadopted by Luther, Delitzsch, 
and Umbreit, may be correct appears from 
oh. i. 7 and ix. 10, where we have the same 
construction, only in inverted order. Seneca's 
aphorism is conceived in much the same 
spirit : " Magna pars boni est velle fieri 
bonum " — " A large part of good is the wish 
to become good ; " i.e. that the beginning of 
being good depends to a large extent upon 
the wish to become so. The objections to 
this rendering are : (1) That it is difficult to 
see how the beginning of wisdom can be the 
acquisition of it. (2) That elsewhere, as in 
ch. i. 7 and ix. 10, the beginning of wisdom 
is represented as the fear of the Lord. (3) 
That it does. not fall in well with the con- 
text or with the aim of the father's teaching, 
which is to hold up wisdom as pre-eminently 
a blessing, as the most excellent and highest 
thing attainable. On the other hand, Hitzig, 
De Dieu, Doderlein, Zookler, render as in 
the Authorized Version, "Wisdom is the 
principal thing, therefore get wisdom ; " t.e. 
wisdom is the highest good, and therefore 
ought to be obtained. The word reshith is 
found with this signification in ch. xxiv. 20 ; 
1 Sam. u. 29 ; Job xl. 19 ; Jer. xlix. 35 ; 
Amos vi. 1 — 6. And with all thy getting 
get understanding. This does not mean, aa 
the Authorized Version seems to imply, that 
while you are acquiring other things, you are 
to acquire wisdom, but that wisdom is to be 
purchased with all you have acquired or 
gotten. " Getting" (kin'yon) is the purchase 
money. No price is too high to be paid for 
her, no sacrifice too great ; cf. the parables of 
the hidden treasure and goodly pearl (Matt. 
xiii. 44 ; Luke x. 42), in both of which the 
man sold "all that he had" to obtain the 

prize. There is a play upon the words In 
the original (kin'ydn'kt k'nih), which Is pre- 
served in our translation. 

Ver. 8, — Exalt her, and she shall promote 
thee. The father here proceeds to point out 
some of the benefits which follow from the 
pursuit of Wisdom. Exalt her (edl's'lgdh) ; 
Vulgate, arripeillam; JJS.X.., irepixapdKua'ov 
abrriv ; 'Targum, dilige earn ; Syriac, blandire 
illi ; Arabic, cireumsepi earn. The Hebrew, 
eaVe'leah, is the pilpel imperative of adldl, 
" to lift up, exalt." It is equivalent to the 
kal form. The pilpel form rally occurs here, 
but the kal participle is met with in ch. iv. 
19, where it has the meaning of " to raise up 
as a causeway" (see marginal reading in loc). 
Gesenius renders, " exalt her," ec. with 
praises. The meaning of the verb, as 
Delitzsch says, is to be determined by the 
corresponding " she shall promote thee " 
{th'rdm'mek), and this verb rotnem is (1) 
to raise or make high; (2) to exalt by be- 
stowing honom-3 upon one of low estate, i.e. 
raising them in general estimation ; it is 
so used in 1 Sam. ii. 7 by Hannah, in her 
song of thankfulness, " He. (Jehovah) bring- 
eth low and lifteth up (m'r6m^m) ; " (3) to 
extol by praises, as in Ps. xxx. 2. The 
radical meaning of sdlal seems to be "to 
heap up," as a rond is prepared by embank- 
meiits, and by the filling up of inequalities 
(cf. Isa. Mi. 10). In this sense the passage 
before us is explained by I^evi ben Gersom, 
"Prepare the way of Wisdom, and walk 
assiduously in it." But the context, wherein 
the idea of buying is evidently used, favours 
Botteher's interpretation, "Hold it or her 
high in price, bid high for her as a purchaser 
who makes offer upon offer, to secure what 
he wants." So Pi, in pretio habe. The 
LXX. rendering, " Oircnmvallate her, en- 
close her with a wall or hedge," which is 
reproduced in the Arabic, cireumsepi earn, 
" hedge her around," seems out of place with 
the context. The Talmudists understand the 
verb as signifying " to examine closely," " to 
scrutinize, meditate, or reflect " upon Wisdom 
constantly, just as the Koman poet says, 
" Nocturna versate manu, versate diums " — 
" We exalt Wisdom when we follow her pre- 
cepts," i.e. when we esteem her — the idea 
which is presented to us in the Targum and 
Syriac cited above. The sentiment of the 
verse agrees with what Jehovah says in the 
message of the man of God to Eli, in 1 
Sam. ii. 30, " Them that honour me I mil 
honour." She shall bring thee to honour, 
when thou dost embrace her. The LXX. 
reverses the order of ideas, " Honour her in 
order that she may embrace thee." Embrace 
her ; i.e. in a loving and affectionate manner, 
as a husband does his wife, or a son his 
mother. (For the verb khdvak, see oh. v. 20 ; 
Cant. ii. 6 ; viii. 3.) There ore only thrt* 

ca. w. 1—27.] 



other instances where this verb occurs in the 
pilel form, khlbblk. Esteem and hononr, the 
confidence of others, elevation to ofSces of 
trust and consequence, are some of the re- 
wards with which Wisdom repays those who 
esteem and love her. Others foUow in the 
next verse. 

Ver. 9. — An ornament of grace (liv'yafh 
then). (On this, see ch. i. 9.) A. orown 
of glory shall she deliver to thee; or, as 
margin, she shaU compass thee with a crown 
of glory. Deliver. The verb miggen, piel, 
since the kal, mdgan, is not used, is, however, 
properly, " to give, or deliver," as in Gen. 
xiv. 20; Ho3. xi. 8. That this is the 
meaning is clear from the corresponding 
"she sh^l give" (tlttSn, but of. ndthau, 
"to give"). It is commonly found with 
an accusative and dative, but here takes 
two accusatives. Both the LXX. and the 
Vulgate render, "With a crown of glory 
or delights shall she protect (xmepairtrlaiii, 
protegef) thee ; " as if it were connected with 
mdgen, " a shield," but a crown is not usually 
associated with protection or defence. " A 
crown of glory," in the New Testament, is 
always associated with the everlasting 
honours of heaven, as in Heb. ii. 9 ; 2 Tim. 
iv. 8 ; 1 Pet. iv. 4; Eev. ii. 20. The mean- 
ing is here, " Wisdom shall confer on thee 
true dignity." 

Ver. 10. — Many commentators, e.g. Jerome, 
Bede, Bwald, Bertheau, and Hitzig, suppose 
that the father's instruction closes in the pre- 
ceding verse, but it seems more appropriate 
to consider the father as here passing to 
another branch of Ijis instruction, which is to 
point out the way of wisdom, and so to pre- 
pare for his warnings which follow from 
ver. 14 to ver. 19. Eeceive ; Icakh, from Idkah, 
" to receive" (on the force of this verb, see ch. 
i. 3). He who shows a delight or willingness 
in admitting the words of Wisdom — for such 
a character the father claims for his teaching, 
as we see from the next verse — shall receive 
a blessing. ~ It is a sign of grace when any 
even show themselves open to listen to in- 
struction ; but it is a greater sign when this 
instruction is received with readiness and 
pleasure (Muifet). The years of thy life 
(sh'tidthkhayyim) ; literally, years of thy lives. 
The plural " lives " expresses the idea of life 
in the abstract. There is no absolute state- 
ment of a future life here, though by the 
Christian this idea may be indulged in on 
the ground of a fuller revelation. Tlie pro- 
mise is one that not only implies the pro- 
longation of life, but also a life of prosperity 
and enjoyment. ShaU be many; literally, 
shall be multiplied. 

Ver. 11. — The perfects, I have taught and 
I have led, in the original seem to have 
here the absolute signification of the past. 
The &ther recalls the instruction which he 

has given in times past. So Delitzsoh. But 
Gejerus gives them the combined force of 
the past and future, " I have taught and I 
will more fully teach," and so with the other 
verb. The Vulgate renders, mxmstraho, "I 
will show," and ducam, " I will lead." In the 
way of wisdom {bdSrSt hhSk'mah) may 
mean " in the way that leads to, or by which 
you come to Wisdom ; I have taught yon the 
manner in which Wisdom may be attained ; " 
or " the way in which Wisdom walks " 
(Zoekler). The ways of Wisdom are described 
in ch. iii. 17 as "-ways of pleasantness." 
The next clause seems to indicate that the 
latter explanation is to be preferred. The 3 
(6') indicates the subject in which instruct 
tion has been given. In right paths (b'mS'- 
g'le ySsMr); literally, in the paths of rectitude; 
i.e. of straightnesB, paths of which the 
characteristic is uprightness. (On "paths," 
as eiguifying a carriage-way, see ch. ii.-9.) 
Instruction and direction have formed the 
two elements in the father's teaching. These 
present us with a model of education. "To 
teach duty without truth is to teach practice 
without motive ; to teach truth without duty 
is to teach motive without the practice to 
which it should lead " (Wardlaw). 

Ver. ]2. — In tliis verse the fattier depicts 
the benefits and advantages which shall 
follow from " receiving his words " (ver. 10)^ 
i.e. from attending to his counsels and im- 
bibing the principles of wisilom. The 
whole course of life shall be freed from 
obstacles or impediments, from anxiety, 
perplexity, or difBculty, or from vacillation. 
When thou goest may refer to the daily 
walk, to the common and ordinary events or 
circumstances incidental to life, just as the 
corresponding when thou runuest may 
refer to cases of emergency when promptness 
and decisive action are called for. In both 
cases Wisdom,by inspiring unity of principle, 
gives freedom of movement ; in ordinary cases 
it removes embarrassment and perplexity 
arising from conflicting interests drawing 
now in one direction, now in another, and in 
extraordinary cases it supplies a rule of con- 
duct which prevents our falling into mistakes 
and errors. Or the verse may refer to the 
prosperity which shall attend all the under- 
takings of those who are in Wisdom's ways, 
whether they advance slowly or rush for- 
ward with the impetuosity of youth, whether 
they act with deliberation or with haste. 
Shall not he straitened (16-yetsdr} ; i.e. shall 
not be narrowed or confined ; Vulgate, rum 
arctdbuntur ; LXX., ou irvyKKeiaiiia^Tat. 
The future yetsar only occurs four times in 
the Scriptures— here, and Job xviii. 7; ix. 
22; Isa, xlix. 19. Itis usually derived from 
the root ydtsdr, whioli, however, is not found, 
cognate with tsUr, " to straiten," " to be nar- 
row." Yetsar, however, always occurs in the 



fcH. IV. 1—27. 

passive sense, though an, active sismfication 
13 given it by the Eabbi Nathan ben Jechiel, 
quoted by Delitzsch, in loo., who rendeis, 
" Thou Shalt not need to bind together, or 
hedge up thy way." The roots ydtsdr and 
Uur partajce more or less of the idea, of bind- 
ing up, oppressing, putting Into narrow and 
confined circumstences and limits. By the 
expression that "tlie steps are straitened" 
we may understand, therefore, that there is 
a want of freedom for their movements, and 
consequently that they are impeded or 
cramped. The Arabic expressfon, " to eon- 
traet the feet," signifies the diminishing of 
good fortune. Compare the sintilar expres- 
sion in Job xviil. 7, "The steps of his 
strength shall be straitened." The psalmist 
presents the idea of the verse under a dif- 
ferent form, " Thou hast enlarged my steps 
under me, so that my feet did not slip " (Ps. 
x,vii. 36). Thou shalt not stumble ; Id-Oiik- 
kashel, hiph. future. The niph. nikshdl, 
equivalent to the kal TcdnhSl, signifies pro- 
perly " to totter," " to sink down," used of 
one about to fall. The primary idea, however, 
usually disregarded, of kashal, is " to totter 
in the ankles," equivalent to the Latin tali- 
pedare. It occurs ag;iin in ch. iv. 16, and 
is a different verb &om " stumble " in ch. 
lii. 23 (which see). 

Ver. 13. — The short but urgent admoni- 
nitions in this verse may be explained by 
the knowledge which the father has of the 
temptations to which youth is exposed and 
the liability of youth to fall into them, as 
well as by the fact that Instruction, or Wis- 
dom, is the bestower of life. This latter 
conviction is the reason why he urges " tak- 
ing fast hold" of Wisdom. The tenacious 
grasp with which the shipwrecked sinking 
sailor lays hold on any spar or plank float- 
ing near will illustrate the kind of grasp 
with which Wisdom is to be held. It is no 
less a virtue to keep and hold fast a good 
thing than to get it at the first beginning 
(Muffet). Instruction (mtisaj-), usually of a 
disciplinary nature (see oh. i, 3), here more 
particularly the instruction of the father, but 
in a wider sense wisdom generally, with 
which it is synonymous, as appears from the 
feminine, " let her not go, keep her," musar 
being masculine ; or the feminines may 
refer back to "Wisdom" in ver. 11. So 
Mercerus and Buxtorf. Tor she is thy life 
(Ici-hi klidyyilca) ; i.e: she brings life to thee. 
Wisdom is represented as the bestower of 
long life, in ch. iii. 2, 16, 18. Just in pro- 
portion as Wisdom is retained and guarded, 
so is life secured, and so far as the hold 
npon her is lost, so are the hopes of life 
diminished. Life depends upon the obser- 
vance of her precepts. 

Ver. 14. — ^From admonition the father 
pjsses to warning. The connection with 

the preceding section is obvious. There 
are two ways diametrically opposite — tiia 
way of wisdom, and the way of evil ; the 
one the way of life, the oiihei fraught 
with death, because a way of darkness 
and violenoe,^ As the father has dealt 
with the former, so now he deals with the 
latter. With these warnings we may also 
comp. ch. i. 10 — 15 and ii. 10 — 15, where 
muoh the same warning is given, and the 
way of the wicked is described ia almost the 
same terms. The warning of the father takes 
a threefold form : (1) enter not ; (2) go not ; 
(3) avoid. In efffeet he says this is the only 
course to be adopted in order to keep a tirm 
hold of Wisdom which he has counselled in 
the preceding verse (13). Enter not; S-tAS, 
from hd, " to come in," " to enter," i.e. do 
not even enter. Tlie Yulgats. renders, 
" Delight not in," evidently from reading 
tdve, which occurs in ch. i 10. But our 
reading is to be preferred, as dvdh, "to 
acquiesce in," from which tdv'i, is not used 
with a, here denoting place, but with '?. 
Go not (Sl-t'd»hsher); i.e, do not walk m. 
The two verbs " to enter " (6<5) and " to go " 
{Ishsher) stand in the relation of entering 
and' going on — ingreasus and progfesms- So 
Gejerus and Delitzsch. The piel tshsher, here 
used, is properly "to go straight on,'* like 
the kal dshar, of which it is an intensive 
(cf. ch. ix. 6). It is the bold, presumptuous 
walk, the stepping straight out of the evil, 
which is here indicated^ and against this 
the father warns his son. The sense is, " If 
you have entered the way of the wicked^ do 
not continue or persevere in it." The other 
meanings of the verb dghSr, viz. " to guide 
straight" (ch. xxiii. 19), "to esteem happy 
and prosperous" (ch. xxxi. 28), are not in 
place here, as they destroy the parallelism of 
thought, and on the same ground the l-XX. 
and Syriao renderings, " envy not " and/tijSe 
Cn\^(Tris, are to be rejected. The wicked 
(ishaim), i.e. the godless (cf. Ps. i. 1); is 
parallel with "evil men" (rdimy, i.e. the 
habitually wicked. 

Ver. 15. — Avoid it ; p'rdehn, the kal im- 
perative of pdra, properly, " to let go," hence 
"to reject, or abhor." (On the verb, see ch. 
i. 25, where it is rendered, " set at naught.") 
The same verb also occurs in ch. viii. 33 ; 
xiii. 18 ; xv. 32. It ; i.e. the way. The suffix 
of the verb in the original is feminine, 
"avoid her;" dSrSk, "the way," being com- 
mon. Turn from it (ji'teh medldyv). The 
original is a pregnant expression equivalent 
to "turn aside from it, so that yea do not 
come to stand upon it." The word medldyv, 
equivalent to the Latin desuper ea, has much 
tlie same force as the French de iiesiv^ and 
tlie^Italian di sopra (Delitzsch). The verb 
sdtdh is, as in the Authorized Version, " to 
turn, or go aside." Pass away; Sv&r, ial 

CH. IV. 1—27.} 


imperatiTe of dvar, " to pass over,'' equiva- 
lent to Latin transire, here means " to pass 
on, or along," "to go beyond," like the Ger- 
maji Oer weiter gehn. Ike counsel o£ the 
father is not only "turn aside from," but 
"put the greatest possible distance between 
you and it." The injunction, so absolutely 
stated, to have nothing to do with sin, ia 
required, if not indeed prompted, by the 
knowledge of the fact that youth, confident 
in its own power of resistance, frequently 
indulges in the fatal mistake of imagining 
that it can dally with sin with impunity. 
The o«ly course compatible with safety is 
to entiiely avoid it. 

Ver. 16. — This verse exhibits the extreme 
depravity and debasement into which " the 
wicked " (r'ahaim) and " the evil" (rdim) of 
ver. 14 have fallen. Their sins are not sins 
of frailty, but arise fri/m premeditatioa and 
from their insatiable deoire to commit wicked- 
ness. Sin has become to them a kiad of 
second nature, and. unless they indulge in 
it, sleep is banished from their eyes. Xhey 
sleep not ; lo-yish'nu, future of yashan, " to 
fall asleep ; " the future here being used for 
the present, as ia frequently the case in the 
Proverbs, and denoting a permanent condi- 
tion or habit. Unless they cause 'some to 
fall ; i.e. " unless they have betrayed others 
into gin," taking the verb in an ethical sense 
(Zockler), or, which is preferable, owing to 
ver. 16a, unless they have done them some 
injury (Mercerus) ; Vulgate, nisi sttpplan- 
taverint For the Khetib yik'shMu, kat, 
which would mean "unless they have 
stumbled or fallen," the Keri substitutes 
the hiph. ySli'sMhi, "unless they have 
caused some to fall." The hiph. is found 
without any object, as here, in 2 Chron. xxv. 
8). (On the verb hhdsal, from which it is 
derived, see eh. iv. 12.) With the statement 
of the verse we may eomp.are David's com- 
plaint of the persistent persecution of his 
enemies (Pa. lix. 15), " If they be not 
satisfied, then will they stay all night" 
(margin). A similar construction to the 
one before us occurs in Virgil : " Et si non 
aliqua nocuisses, mortuus esses " — " And had 
you not, by some means or other done him 
an injury, you would have died " (' Eclog.,' 
iii. 15); cf. alw) Juvenal : " Ergo non aliter 
potent dormire; quibusdam somnum rixa 
facit" — "Therefore, not otherwise, would 
he have slept ; contention to some produces 
sleep." Hitzig rejects vers. 16 and 17 against 
all manuscript authority. 

Ver. 17; — ^For (&t, equivalent to the Greek 
yip) is here explanatory. It serves not so 
much to introduce another independent 
statement, als one which accounts for the 
statement made in the preceding verse, that 
the wicked sleep not unless they have (lone 
miichief, i.«. it atates the reason why they 

are so conditioned. There is no ooiapaiison 
expressed in the original, as the rendering 
adopted by Schnltens and otliers. implies, 
" For wickedness do they eat as bread; and 
violence do they drink as wine," which is 
evidently based on Job xv. 16, "Which 
drinketh up iniquity like water," and Job 
xxxiv. 7, " Who drinketh ap scorning like 
water." The literal rendering is, far (hey 
eat the bread of wickedness^ and the wine oj 
violence do they drink. The bread of wicked- 
ness {IShhSm rlsha) is not bread which 
consists in wickedness, but bread which is 
obtained by wickedness, just as the wine of 
Tiolenoe (yiyln khdmasim) is not the wine 
which produces violence, but the wine that 
is procured by violent deeds. Theisr sup- 
port, what they eat and drink, is obtained 
by wickedness and injustice. Tliey live by 
wrong. For such expressions as " the bread 
of wickedness " and " the wine of violence," 
ef. Deut. xvi. 3, " the broad of afiliption ; " 
Ps. cxxvii. 2, "the bread of sorruws;" 
and Amos ii. 8, " the wine of the cou- 
demnedi" There is a change of tease in the 
verbs, the first being perfect, "they have 
eaten," and the second future, " they shall 
drink," which Delitzsch explains as repre- 
senting the twofold act — ^first eating the 
bread, and then wasliing it down with wine. 
Ver. 18. — ^A contrast is drawn in this and 
the following verse between the path of 
the just and the way of the wicked. Tlie 
former is, by an extremely beautiful image, 
likened to the light at dawn, which goes on 
increasing in brightness and intensity as the 
day advances, until at length it reaches its 
meridian splendour and glory. An exactly 
similar figure is found in David's last words 
(2 Sam. xxiii. 4). The path of the just ; i.e, 
their moral course. As the shining light 
(Jt'6r ndgali) ; i.e. as the light of dawn. The 
word nSgdh, from ndgah, " to shine," is a 
noun, and properly signifies "brightness," 
" shining," " splendour." It is used also to 
designate the dawn, the light of the sun 
when it first mounts tlie horizon, and sheds 
its beams over the landscape, as in Isa. Ix. 
3, " Kings (shall come) to the brightness 
(ndgdh) of thy rising;" and Isa. Ixii. 1, "^Unlil 
the righteousness thereof go forth as the 
brightness (ndgroA)" (of- 2 Sam. xxiiL4,.where 
the same word also occurs). Michaelis 
and Schultens refer ndgah to "the patli," 
and render, " The path of the just is splendid 
as the light." So Dathe and others ; and ia 
this sense it was understood by the LXX., 
" The path of the just shall shine as the light 
shines." The Vulgate renders, quasi lux 
splendens. That sMneth more and more 
(hdUk vddr) ; literally, going and shining — a 
common Hebrew idiom denoting progression 
or increase. The construction of the parti- 
ciple hSUh, from hdldk, "to go^" with the 



[oh. IV. 1—27. 

psrticiple of another verb, is found in 1 Sam. 
xvii. 41, "The Philistme came nearer and 
nearer (hSUk v'kdriv) ; " 1 Sam. iL 26, " The 
child Samuel grew on more and more (h6Uh 
xfhadeV)" (of. 2 Chron. xvii. 12; Jonah i. 11). 
Unto the perfect day (dd-n'ltdn hayydm); 
Vulgate, usque ad perfectam diem. The 
Hebrew, n'kSn hdyyom, corresponds to the 
Greek, fi aTaSepa ij.ecrrin$pta, equivalent to 
" the high noon," wlien the sun seems to 
ttand ttill in the heavens. The figure, as 
Fleischer remarks, is probably derived from 
the balance, the tongue of the balance of 
day, which before or after is inclined either 
to the right or tlie left, being at midday 
perfectly upright, and as it were firm. So 
hurt, the unused kal, from which n'kdn, the 
niph. participle, is derived, is " to stand up- 
right," and in hiph. " to be set," " to stand 
firm," "to be established," and hence the 
expression might be rendered, "until the 
steady, or established day," which, however, 
refers to the midday, or noon, and not to 
that point when day succeeds dawn, as 
Kosenmiiller and Schultens on Hos. vi. 3 
maintain. The comparison is not extended 
beyond the midday, because the wish of the 
father was to indicate the full knowledge 
which the just attain in God, and which can 
know of no decline. A similar figure of 
gi'adual development is found in our Lord's 
parable of the seed growing secretly (Mark 
iv. 28), and is visible in Ps. Ixxxiv. 7, " Tliey 
grow from strength to strength, every one of 
them in Zion appeareth before God." The 
verse illustrate? the gradual growth and 
increase of the righteous in knowledge, holi- 
ness, and joy, all of which are inseparably 
connected in the career of such. 

Ver. 19. — The way of the wicked is as 
darkness. In contrast with the path of the 
just is the way of the wicked, which is de- 
scribed as darkness itself; i.e. so deeply 
enveloped in gloom that the wicked are 
not able even to see the obstacles and 
impediments against which they stumble, 
and which are the cause of their ruin. It 
is a way dark throughout — a via tenehrosa 
(Vulgate) — terminating at length in "the 
blackness of darkness." As light is emble- 
matical of knowledge, holiness, and joy, so 
darkness represents ignorance, unholiness, 
and misery (see Isa. viii. 22). ' Barhness 
(Sphildli); strictly, thick darkness, midnight 
gloom, the entire absence of light. It is 
the word used of the plague of "thick 
darkness " that settled over all the land of 
^gyptt even a darkness that "might be 
felt," when the Egyptians "saw not one 
another, nor any arose from his place for 
three days " <Exod. x. 21—23). It occurs 
again in ch. vii. 9, "in the black and dark 
night." In this darkness the wicked cannot 
belp bnt stumbla Compare our Lord's 

teaching, "But if a man walk in the night, 
he stumbletb, because there is no light in 
him" (John xi. 10; of. xii. 36). The ex- 
pression, they know not at what they 
stumble, carries with it the idea that they 
are so ignorant that they neither know 
wickedness as wickednes'?, nor do they 
apprehend the destruction which it in- 
volves. "Sins, however great and detest- 
able they may be, are looked upon as trivial, 
or as not sins at all, when men get accus- 
tomed to them" (St. Augustine, 'Enchiri- 
dion,' cap. 80). On " stumble " (kdshSl), see 
ver. 12 ; and on the destruction of the wicked 
implied in the stumbling, see ch. i. 27, sej., 
ii. 18—22 ; iii. 35. 

Ver. 20. — The teacher here resumes his 
admonitions after thus citing the example 
of his father's teaching, and showing how ii 
resembled the tenor of his own precepts, 
which, upon such a consideration, were most 
worthy of attention. 

Ver. 21. — Let them not depart from thine 
eyes ; i.e. keep them constantly in view as 
the guide of the whole conduct. These 
words are a repetition of ch. iii. 21, just aa 
the latter part of the verse reproduces the 
thought of ch. ii. 1. J)epart. The hiph. 
ydlltzu is here used instead of the kal yalizu 
of ch. iii. 21, but has the same force. In 
the midst 9f thine heart ; i.e. in its inmost 
recesses ; there the words and sayings are to 
be guarded as a man guards a treasure stowed 
away in the inmost chambers of a house. 
The expression implies cherishinfi them 
with an internal affection. The terms oi 
the verse may be illustrated by Deut. vi. 6, 
8, "And these words, which I command 

thee this day, shall be in thine heart And 

thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine 
hand, and they shall be as frontlets between 
thine eyes." 

Ver. 22.— They are Ufa; i.e. they bring 
life Qchayyim; the plural, as usual). TJnto 
those that find them; i.e. to those who by 
effort get possession of and procure them; 
the verb mdtsd, "to find," embodying the 
idea of activity. Health; mdr'pS, derived 
from the root rdphd, "to heal" (like ripWuth 
of ch. iii. 8, which see), and hence rather 
"the means of health" than "health," 
" healing," or, as margin, " medicine," " that 
which restores to health;" LXX., Uais; 
Vulgate, sanUat. The moral condition is 
regarded as enfeebled by sickness, from 
which it may be restored to health and 
soundness by the words of wisdom. The 
effect of these, however, is not only to re- 
store to health, l)ut to maintain in health. 
Their tendency is to promote "a sound mind 
in a sound body." To their flesh; literally, 
to his fieth ; the singular, h'edrd, being used 
instead of the plural, which we should have 
expected, because what is said appliei to 

OH. IT. 1—27.] 



each one of those who receive the precepts 
of wisdom. The all implies the complete- 
ness of the restoration ; it is not confined to 
one part, but pervades the whole body. 

Ver. 23. — ^Keep thy heart with all dili- 
gence ; properly, above all things that have 
to he guarded, keep or guard thy heart. So 
Mercerus, Gesenius, Delitzsoh, Zockler. 
This seems to be the right meaning of the 
phrase, mikkol-mieh'mar, rendered in the 
Authorized Version " with all diligence," 
misk'mar, from ihdmar, "to guard," being 
the object of guarding ; that which is to be 
guarded. It is as if the toaolier saiii, " Guard 
riches, property, health, body, everything, in 
short, in which you have a legitimate in- 
terest, or which is advantageous ; but before 
and above everything else, keep a guard on 
your heai-t. The rabbins Jarchi, Ben Ezra, 
Eashi, however, give a different rendering, 
" From everything which is to be avoided 
(ab omni re cavenda) guard thy heart ; " but 
the objection to this is that it ignores the 
radical meaning of the verb shdrmr, from 
which mUh'mar is derived, as stated above, 
which is not that of avoiding, but of guard- 
ing. A third rendering is, " Keep thy heart 
.with all keeping ; " so the Vulgate, omni 
eustodia serva cor tuum; and the LXX., 
irdtrri <^u\aKi7 T^jpei iriiv KapSlav; on which 
the Authorized Version seems to be based. 
Another rendering, similar to the first, ex- 
cept that it gives mish'mar the active signi- 
fication of guarding instead of the pnssive 
one of being kept or guarded, is, "Keep 
thy heart more than any other keeping 
(prm omni cmtudia)." Origen, 'Hex, ; ' Field. 
Again, Aquila and Theodotion render, 
"Keep thy heart by reason of every com- 
mandment (oTrb vavrhs <j>v\dyfLa,TOs)," tlius 
bringing into prominence the occasion and 
the obligation of keeping the heart, which 
is that we are so commanded. Eeart Qev) ; 
here the affections and the moral conscious- 
ness. Tor out of it are the issues of life. 
The conjunction "for" introduces the 
reason. The fact here stated is that the 
moral conduct of life, its actions and pro- 
ceedings, are determined by the condition 
of the heart. If the heart is pure, the life 
will be pure ; if the heart is corrupt, tlie life 
will be corrupt. Tlie heart is heie com- 
pared with a fountain. The same idea 
which is affixed to it in its physical sense 
is also assigned to it in its ethical or moral 
sense. Physically, it is the central (jrgan of 
the body ; morally, it is the seat of the affec- 
tions and the centre of the moral conscious- 
ness. From this moral centre flow foith 
" the issues of life ; " i.e. the currents of the 
moral life take their rise in and flow forth 
from it, just as from the heart, physically 
considered, the blood is propelled and flows 
forth into the arterial iyitem, by which it 

is conveyed to the remotest extremities of 
the body. And as the bodily health de- 
pends on the healthy action of the heart, in 
the moral health depends on and is in- 
fluenced by the state in which this spring 
of all action is preserved. Issues; tdts'ddth, 
from ydtsar, " to go forth," are the place from 
which anything goes forth, and hence a 
fountain. For "the issues of life," the 
LXX. reads, e^oSoi fwijs, the Vulgate, exitus 
vitss. With this passage compare our Lord's 
teaching (Matt. xv. 19; Mark vii. 21—23; 
Luke vi. 43 — i5). 

Ver. 24. — The following admonitions of 
this cliapter bear reference to the outward 
conduct of life. They continue the subject 
of ver. 23 by showing how the guarding of 
the heart is to be done, There is the most 
intimate connection between the heart as 
the fuuntain of the moral life and of the con- 
duct of life, which, though ilettimined by 
the condition of the heart, in its turn reacts 
upon the heart as the moral centre, and 
keeps it pure. Thus the subject is treated 
from its two sides. On vers. 24 and 25 
Hitzig remarks that they " warn against an 
arbitrary perverting of the moral judgment 
into which evil passions so easily betray, 
and admonish not to give misdirection to 
tliought within the department of morality." 
A froward mouth, and perverse lips ; lite- 
rally, jjerjierseness of mouth and waywardness 
of lips {ikk'thulh peh vulzulh s'phdlUdylm). 
" Perversity of mouth " is fraudulent, deceit- 
ful speech; that which twists, distorts, per- 
verts, oi- misrepresents what is true, and 
hence falsehood (oh. iv. 24; vi. 12; xix. 1). 
The (TKoKiiv irrSfia of the LXX., i.e. the 
" tortuous mouth," in a metaphorical sense. 
The phrase is very similar in meaning with 
the parallel ** waywardness of lips," which 
means speech whioli turns aside from what 
is true and right, the noun Idzuth boiu'^ 
del iveil from Idzdh, or luz, " to bend aside." 
The tongue is the unruly member (Jas. iii 
2). Speech is the index of the mind (Lapide). 
Vigilance over the heai t is vigilance over 
the mouth, inasmuch as " out of the abun- 
dance of the heart tlie mouth speaketli " 
(Matt. xii. 34). The admonition may have 
a twofold application, and may mean either 
do not indulge in this kind of speech your- 
self, exercise an unremitting jealousy over 
every propensity to it; or have no dealings 
with those who are guilty of it, as in Ps. 
ci. 5. 

Ver. 25.— Let thine eyes look right on, 
and let thine eyelids look straight before 
thee. "To look right on" and "to look 
straight before one" is to fix the eyes 
steadily and unswervingly upon an object 
before them, not to allow the gaze to deflect 
either to the right hand or to the left. As 
a noun, the word ndkdkh, rendered " right 



[oh. IV. 1—27. 

on," Bigmfies what is straight in front of 
one ; adverbially, it has the same meaning 
as that given in the Antborized Version. 
The corresponrling " before " (nigld) is sub.- 
stantively the side of any object which is 
opposite one, and as a preposition is equiva- 
lent to " before," " in tile presence of," like 
the Latin coram. The versions (LXX., 
Syriao, Targum) take ndlcakh in the sense 
of " right things : " " Let thine eyes look at 
right things ; " contemplate them, aim at 
justice and equity. This meaning is given 
to the cognate adjective ndlcSalth in ch. viii. 
9 ; xxiv. 26 ; Isa. xxvi. 10 ; xxx. 10 ; lix. 
14 ; but in the Proverbs the word ndltakh 
only occurs twice (here and ver. 21), either 
as an adverb, "right on," "straightfor- 
wardly," or as a preposition, " before." 
Look straight. Gesenius takes this verb 
yaehar in hiph., " to make straight," as used 
elliptically : " Let thine eyelids direct a way 
before thee ; " but the meaning is the same 
as "Let them look straight before thee." 
The Syriao, Gejems, and Holden render, 
"Let thine eyelids direct thy way before 
thee ; " i.e. do nothing rashly, but every- 
thing with premerlitation ; examine thy 
conduct, and see that it is right. The verb 
ydshar haa this meaning, "to direct," in ch. 
iii. 6 ; xi. 5, but it is here used intransitively 
(Mercerus). Eyelids (aph'dppimy, so called 
from their fluttering, rapid motion, here 
used by way of poetic parallelism with 
" eyes." What the command inculcates is 
simplicity of aim or principle, singleness of 
motive. The moral gaze is to be steadily 
fixed, because if it wanders indolently, lasci- 
viously, aimlessly, it imperils the purity of 
tiie soul. This verse may be understood, as 
Zockler, as containing a command levelled 
against dishonest practices. The man who 
intends to cheat his neighbour looks this 
way and that how he may deceive him. 
Such an interpretation may be maintained 
on the gi'ound that the former verse is 
directed against falsehood in speech; this 
against fulseliood in action. But the former 
view is preferable. If you wish to keep the 
heart, you must be guided by simplicity of 
aim ; look not aside either to the one hand 
or to the other, leot you may be led astray 
by the seductions and temptations wliich 
imperil the onward and upward progress of 

the soul. The passage remindB us of the 
" single eye " (Sir\ous), " simple," i.e. intent 
on heaven and God, of Matt. vi. 22. 

Ver. 26.— Ponder the path of tty feet; 
properly, maJee straight or level the path of 
thy feet. 'The command carries on the idea 
of the previous verse. Simplicity of aim in 
the moral life is to be accompanied by atten- 
tion to the moral condnct. The sense is, 
remove every obstacle which may impede 
or render insecure the way of moral life, 
and thus avoid every false step. The mean- 
ing "to ponder," i.e. "to weigh," seems to 
be given to the verb pdlUs, piel of the un- 
used pdJas here used only in Ps. Iviii. 3 
and possibly in ch. v. 21. Its ordinary sig- 
nification is " to make level, or even," as in 
Isa. xxvi. 7; xl. 12; and ch. v. 6. The 
LXX. keeps tliis in view in rendering, 
" Make straight paths for tliyfeet" (cf. Heb. 
xii. 13). The Authorized Version would 
mean, "Weigh your conduct as in a balance ; 
before acting, consider the consequences and 
nature of tlie act." The second clause, and 
let all thy ways be established, is in effect 
only a repetition of the preceding thought, 
since it signifies, " See that thy conduct is 
correct; let all thy ways be definite and 
fixed." The marginal reading, "And- all 
thy ways shall be ordered aright," gives the 
literal rendering ta the tense; yikkonu being 
the future hiph. of kun, " to be established," 
"to stand firm." This Ttonld express the 
result of giving heed to one's conduct. 

Ver. 27. — This verse, with which the 
teacher closes this discourse, is very closely 
connected with ver. 26, which it more fully 
explains. The command is the parallel of 
ver. 25. As in ver. 25^ the gaze is- to be 
concentrated. So here the feet are not to 
deflect nor turn aside to byways. Nothing 
is to be permitted to draw one off from the 
right way, neither adversity, nor prosperity, 
nor anything which can possess the power 
of temptation (Bayne and Wardlaw). Re- 
move thy foot from evlL A fuller expres- 
sion than " depart from evil," of ch. iii. 7. 
Both the LXX. and the Vulgate add, " For 
the Lord knows the ways which are on tliy 
right hand ; but they are perverse- which 
are on thy left. He shall make thy paths 
straight, and shall advance thy ways in 


Vera. 1 — t — A family heirloom, I. Diyinb wisdom ib thb brst of family 
HETRLOOMs. Solomon transmits to his son the instruction which he has received from 
his father. Thus he aims at making it an old household treasure. He also hands 
down royal power, great possessions, national fame. But wisdom is to him an inherii- 
tance more precious than all other things. The rest may go rather than that the 
enttul shall be cut off this most prized part of the family estate It would be well il 

OH.IV. 1— 27.] THE PE0VERB8. 

fathers and sons had a similar opinion of the best of treasures. One labours to leave 
heavy legacies in his will ; another aims at securing good posts for his sons ; a third is 
proud of the misuUied family honour ; but iiiany forget that which alone secures true 
welfare here and eternal life hereafter. It is beautiful to see this heirloom of piety 
carefully guarded in the cottage of the poor; but it is more interesting to see those who 
might be drawn aside to lower pursuits — ^as, alas I Solomon was in his later days — 
setting the same treasure bei'ore their family as the most valuable of all possessions. 

II. Divine wisdom will not bemain as a family hbibloom without special 
CASE IN EBTAiNiNa AND TEAN8MITTING FT. The estate dcsceuds from father to son by 
laws, of inheritance or by testamentary directions. The bodily likeness, the mental 
characteristic, the genius, the defect, the, often come down through successive 
generations. But religion is not found in the blood ; no law of inheritance will secure 
the succession to Divine wisdom ; you cannot ensure that your son will be pious by any 
clause in your wilL This family heirloom will pass out of the household unless it is 
most carefully guarded. Bad sons may foUow good fathers. The religion of our 
parents is no guarantee of our own spiritual state, nor does our religion contain within 
it the promise and potency of our children's faith. 

III. Divine wisdom may be tbansmittbd as a family heibloom thbouoh 
INSTBUOTION AND EXAMPLE. We Cannot absolutely secure the inheritance because 
we have to deal with that most ungovernable of all elements, the free-will of souls. 
But failure is often to be attributed to defective instruction. Home culture has been' 
neglected, while public ministry has been most assiduous; or there has been a harsh, 
unwise restraint which has provoked a rebound of licence. On the whole, we may 
hope that good, sound home training wUl not be in vain. This involves two elements. 
1. Instmction. There must be positive, definite teaching. We must not rely on the 
general influence of a wholesome Christian atmosphere, on casual words and passing 
advice, etc. Wisdom involves knowledge; religion depends on faith; and faith follows 
" hearing." It is most important that Uie main elements of the Christian truth should 
be understood and remembered by children. It is not enough to tell them to love 
Christ. They must know him if they are to trust and follow him. 2. Example, 
Without this instruction is futile. Our deeds then give the lie to our words. Instruc- 
tion is the light to show the way ; example, the impulse to urge us to walk in it. 
Succession in genius is rare. The two Plinys, the two Pitts, the two Mills, are 
exceptional instances. But by right instruction and example we have much more 
reason to expect a succession in piety, because genius must be born in a man, but the 
wisdom of godliness is offered to all who will seek it. 

Ver. 9. — A coronation. Wisdom is here represented as standing forth with garlands 
and crowns, rewarding her votary. The whole picture suggested to us by this brief 
verse may be taken as illustrative of the blessed experience of the people of God. 

I. The OBOWwisa adthobitt. It is ridiculous to offer a crown except with the 
ri^t and power to make the coronation effective. It was held that no one could be an 
emperor in the "holy Roman empire" of the Middle Ages unless he had been crowned 
by the pope, as Charles the Great had been crowned. In our picture we have a greater 
than the highest ecclesiastic. The Wisdom of God, ideally personified, offers crowns 
and garlands with her own hands. It is really an act of God. God's wisdom is subse- 
quently revealed in Christ who bestows the best blessings on his people. Coronation 
from such an authority must be efiiective. 

IL The sijbject ceownbd. He is the votary of Wisdom, and it is on account of his 
allegiance to his heavenly mistress that he receives his honour. Solomon seems to be 
referring directly to himself (ver. 3). If so, it is the more remarkable that the most 
magnificent king of Israel should set less value on his regal dignity than on his fidelity 
to Wisdom. Even Solomon is here crowned, not because he is David's son and sits on 
the throne of a great nation, but because he is a loyal servant of Wisdom. The same 
honour is open to all who follow the same cairse. Wisdom, Divine truth, the know- 
ledge of God, the following of Christ,— these things are the true grounds for honour; 
not birth, rank, power, or wealth. , , ., . v * au 

IIL The aot of oobonation. Wisdom stands forth and crowns her votary. She 
does it spontaneously. The pursuit of Divine Wisdom brings honour. Here we see 

94 THE PROVERBS. [CH. iv. 1— 27 

that there is more than bare deliverance from ruin for the people of God. They are 
invited to receive honours from above. This happens in a measure upon earth in the 
elevation of character, the loftiness of the whole course of life, and perhaps even the 
worthy reputation of a true Christian. Yet we must remember that the coronation is 
not the world's admiration, but God's approval. This will be perfected in heaven 
when the saints who have borne the cross on earth will receive their crowns — only to 
cast them at the feet of the Lord through whose grace alone they have won them 
(Rev. iv. 10). 

IV. The natuek of the cbowns. There is a garland as well as a crown. 1. A 
recognition ofiiictortf. A simple wreath has little inherent worth. But it is a token of 
victory. It is nobler to wear a true conqueror's wreath than an idle monarch's diadem. 
The pursuit of Divine Wisdom leads to victory over sin and the world. 2. A possession 
of wealth and honour. After the victor's wreath comes the regal crown. Observe 
how it is constructed. (1) Gold of truth. (2) Precious stones of heavenly experience. 
Precious stones are symbolical of celestial structures (Rev. xxi. 18 — 21). The follower 
of Wisdom has the heavenly mind; he minds spiritual things. (3) Pearls of purity. 
True wisdom leads to holiness. 

Ver. 12. — A free course. Religion is looked upon too much in the light of a 
restraint, and the Christian is often regarded by the world as hampered and shackled 
by irksome bonds. But the very opposite is suggested by the words of our text. We 
see the servant of Divine Wisdom running with freedom on his course, and at the same 
time carefully guarded from misadventure. 

I. The truth op God gives liberty. Christ promised that the truth ihould make 
men free (John viii. 32). 1. ITie liberty of knowledge. Ignorance is a bondage, because 
the ignorant man does not know how to shape his course. He is like a traveller lost 
in the African bush. Physical knowledge gives a certain liberty of action. Knowledge 
of nature helps the man of science to act where the layman would be helpless. The 
engineer's knowledge of his machine enables him to work it. When we know the way 
of peace and safety we can freely and fearlessly run in it. 2. The liberty of obedience. 
The wisdom of the Proverbs is practical; it is intimately connected with the fear of 
God. It implies more than knowledge in its followers; it requires also submission and 
obedience. Now, when we are in rebellion against the Law and will of God, wo are con- 
tinually arrested by his opposing action. But when we delight to do his wUl, we are 
perfectly free. There is no liberty so great as that which comes from harmony between 
ovir wills and the will of God. We desire the very things that God commands; it must 
follow that we are free to seek them. Then of a certainty God will give us our heart'i 

II. The truth or God secuees safety. The follower of Divine Wisdom will not 
stumble. 1. Se will not run in the way of danger. The narrow path is the safe path. 
There are gins and snares in the broad road. Though the way of life may be rugged, 
it is not like the flowery path of sin, io the beauty of which a deadly serpent hides. 2. 
Ood will remove the greatest impediments out of his path. He is in the King's high- 
way. Even this road may lead over steep places and*through difficult passes. But 
still, as it is maintained by its Lord, it cannot be left to fall into the state of an 
impassable road in a neglected country, God is with his people while they are treaHing 
the path of righteousness, and he will prepare their way for them. 3. There toill be 
light to see the difficulties of the way. It is possible to stumble even on the high-road. 
Christian men have fallen. We need to be prepared to face the difBcultics which will 
surely meet us even while we are pursuing the Christian course. Now, God's truth is 
a lamp to guide us over such difficulties (Ps. cxix. 105). With the light of heavenly 
wisdom we safely pass them. 4. There will be help at hand. Christ is with his people 
on their pilgrimage. Like Peter sinking in the waves, they may cry, "Lord, save me: 
I perish I " and they will be delivered. " Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe " (Ps. 
cxix. 117). 

Ver. 13. — Holding fast. 1. Thb neoessitt of holdins fast. This is to be in 
regard to instruction in Divine wisdom. There are difficulties in keeping to the truth 
of God. 1. The knowledge of it is an attainment. It is not innate ; it does not come 

CH.1T. 1— 27.] THE PROVERBS. 9S 

by inevitable experience ; it is not received without conscious effort. What has been 
■won may be lost. That which is not naturally a part of our being may be detached 
from us. 2. The truth is spiritual. Therefore it belongs to a different region from 
that of everyday experience in the world, and it is in danger of being thrust aside by 
the rude demands of material facts. The rush and roar of outward life drown the 
whispers of the " still, small voice." 3. It is morally exacting, God's instruction 
concerns our conduct, and that in a way not always agreeable to ourselves. It urges 
us with lofty mandates, it seeks to regulate our lives by great principles. But weak- 
ness shrinks and self-will rebels against such a yoke. Therefore unless we hold fast to 
the instruction, we shall soon lose it. Mere negligence is enough to imperil the choice 
possession. By simple indifference we may let slip the truth of God (Heb. ii. 1). 

II. How WE MAT HOLD FAST. 1. Attention musthe directed. As we have a certain 
command of our thoughts in the power of fixing attention on certain topics in prefer- 
ence to others, we can turn our minds towards Divine truth by a voluntary movement. 
External aids are here of use. The reading of the Bible is most helpful, not merely to 
obtain fresh truth, but to impress and revive the truth we already know. The ordi- 
nances of public worship are also designed with this end in view. The Christian 
preacher has not merely to instruct, the ignorant and to lead those who know some 
truth to higher regions of revelation. A great part of his work consists in impressing 
upon men what they already know, and aiding them to hold it fast. None of these 
means of directing attention are sufficient without the addition of personal prayer and 
meditation. 2. 2'ruth must he realized in practice. There is no better way of holding 
fast to instruction than by obeying it. The greatest truths are vague ideas till we 
commence to put them in practice. We hold best those truths which we follow most 
closely in life. 

III. The advantage of holding past. It is our duty to hold the truth which 
God has revealed to us, and to attend to the commandments which he has sent us. 
But it is also for our own soul's profit. This is a matter of life and death. Divine 
truth is not a mere luxury for the leisured classes. It is a necessary of life. 1. This 
truth is a guide from the way of ruin. God speaks words of the utmost moment to 
warn us from continuing in the old course of sin, and to show us the way of salvation. 
2. It is an immediate source of life. God gives his Spirit through his truth, and the 
Spirit of God is the quickening power of our souls. Thus God's truth is the soul's 
food. To lose it is to starve. To hold it fast is to secure eternal life. The words that 
Christ speaks to us are spirit and life (John vi. 63). 

Vers. 14, 15. — Bad company. I. The duty of avoiding bad company. We are 
bU more or less unconsciously affected by the tone of the society we frequent. Even 
the strongest, most independent spirit cannot wholly fortify himself against this 
influence. As water w^ears the hardest rock, the constant friction of social intercourse 
makes itself felt in course of time upon the most resolute character. We are naturally 
gregarious. Without knowing it, nay, even while protesting against it, we are carried 
away with the current through which our course lies. Salmon swim up against the 
stream ; but men prefer to float with the stream. Hence the great reason for choosing 
society of good character. It is most essential that young men just entering business 
in a great city should bear this in mind. The class of companions they choose will 
very largely affect the whole future course of their lives. Christians are called to come 
out from the world ; but our Lord showed his wisdom, as much as his kindliness, in 
instituting the Church as a fellowship of his people. Thus he sought to use the 
social influences of mankind in favour of purity and truth as a set-off against the 
strong current of a corrupt worldly society. It is always dangerous to be cut off from 
these good influences. Emigrants and others who go to the colonies and to foreign 
countries should be on their guard against the peculiar dangers of their isolated 
situation. Many a young man has been ruined for life by going friendless to a distant 
country, and there falling a prey to the corruptions of bad company. 

idolatrous rites associated with almost every political and social engagement, withdrew 
very considerably from public life. The logical outcome of her conduct was monasti- 
dsm. We have not her peculiar difficulties to contend with. Yet the mere thought 

98 THE PE0VEEB8. [oh. iv. 1— 2?. 

of avoiding bad company might lead us to a similar course unless we weighed well 
other considerations of duty. Thus there are Christians who eschew all connection 
with national affairs because they hold that politics are closely wrapped up with 
worldly and wicked practices. But if the worst is true, it is rather our duty to seek to 
mend matters. Since we must have government, we should see that this is of the best 
possible character. If all the good people forsake it, they hand the government of the 
nation over to the wicked, and thereby tacitly saactioa bad government. So if they put 
a ban on all amusement, they indirectly degrade every kind of amusement, and increase 
the temptation of the great mass of people, who naturally seek some sort of recreation, 
and will have the bad if they do not get the good. We must remember also that our 
Lord was accused of keeping the worst of company, and that he did this deliberately 
for the good of those with whom he had intercourse. We are not to be Pharisees, 
proud separatists, but brothers of all men, who are our fellow-sinneTS. The important 
point is the motive with which men enter bad company. If this be to discharge some 
duty, or to benefit those who are visited, it is pure, and may be expected to ward off 
harm. If it be done carelessly and for selfish pleasure, there is danger in it. 

Ver. 18. — " The path of the just." L A SHiNiNa light. 1 It has all the great 
leading characteristics suggested by light, viz. truth, purity, joy, life. Perhaps the 
leading idea is that of holy gladness. This is to be enjoyed here on earth in those 
pleasant ways and paths of peace through which Wisdom leads her votaries. The 
Christian may be a martyr, but he need not be a victim of melancholy. 2. It is open 
to the day. They who do evil love the darkness that hides their deeds. "The dark 
places of the earth are full of the habitations of cruelty." Goodness fears no exposure. 
Cato had no fear of his neighbours looking into his garden. Daniel could afford to let 
his habits be public. 3. It is bright with reflected Divine light. Here is the source of 
the brightness like that of the dawn that reflects the suu's beams. Christ shines on 
the soul, and it brightens under his love as the dark hills and darker valleys take on 
the colours of life before the rising sun. 4. It is alioays giving out light around it. 
It is a shining light, a glistening light; not mere colour, but radiance. The true 
Christian is a light of the world ; it is his duty to let his light shine to the glory of 

II. A GBOWTNO LiQHT. We must not stumble at that word "just," as though it 
removed the whole subject to lofty regions far beyond all possible attainments of onrs. 
The just man in the Old Testament, like the saint in the New Testament, is not neces- 
sarily a person of fully ripened perfection, but one whose course and aim and tendency 
are towards righteousness. Such a man will begin with many imperfections. His course, 
however, will be one of growing brightness. Unless there is growth there must be 
death. The stajinant Christian is the dead Christian, soon to become the corrupt 
Christian. It is for our encouragement that we may expect growth if we employ the 
right means. There is growth in personal piety. Every victory over sin is so much 
new light gained. There is growth in grace. The richest stores of God's grace are in 
the future. There is ever " more to follow," and the best wine is reserved for the last. 
There is growth in knowledge. The light of truth is a growing light. What we know 
not now we shall know hereafter. "Now we see as in a mirror darkly, but then face 
to face." Tliere is growth in joy and peace. The best fruits of Christian blessedness 
take time to ripen. The young Christian is disappointed at finding them green and 
acid. Time must mellow them. Now, this growth is giadual like the dawn, so that 
the Christian is carried on from stage to stage. But the rate is not uniform. With 
some there is a long twilight. With others the day hastens on with tropical speed. 
He who has most of Christ will find his dawn spread most rapidly. 

III. A LIGHT THAT LEADS TO PEEFECT DAT. All that We nOW 660 is but the dull, 

chill twilight. It may be a cheerful dawn, but it is not to be compared with the rich 
splendour of the noon. The Christian progress is not to cease till it reaches perfection. 
It is far from that as yet. With some of us but a few grey streaks have as yet broken 
out of the old sad night. But all Christians may have the same glad hope of the full 
and perfect day. Heaven will be the coincidence of ripLncd character with perfected 
blessedness. And this <lay has no afternoon. There are no lengthening shadows to 
sadden us with threats of the chill evening and the dread darkness, for " there is no night 

CH. IV. 1—27.] THE PROVERBS. 97 

there.'' A greater than Joshua arrests the sun at the meridian. Or rather there will 
be no need of the sun, because we shall be beyond this world of successive changes in 
.the life eternal of that new Jerusalem, whjre it is ever day, because " the Lord God is 
the Light thereof." 

Ver. 19,— The way of darkness. The way of sin is in all respects one of darkness. 
It is dark in its origin, dark in its course, and dark in its end. 

I. The way of sin starts from a dark okiqin. 1. Ignorance. Most criminals 
are deplorably ignorant. Vicious men are generally men whnse .mental cultivation has 
been neglected by others or by themselves. Ignorance of Divine truth leads the way 
to wickedness. The first preventative of evil is the religious teaching of children. 
2. Inherited tendencies to evil. These awful consequences of a parent's sin are a dark 
heritage which heavily handicaps the child from the first. 3. Satanic influences. 
Temptations are all dark in their origin. Evil suggestions come up from the pit of 
darkness. 4. The lower nature. When a man jijives way to sin he sacrifices his 
higher to his lower self. He sinks from the sunlit mountain heights of purity to 
gloomy depths of baser living. 

IL The wat of sin pdrbubs a dark course. It is a road that runs through 
sombre passes, like some of those Welsh paths far in the h( art of the mountains, on 
which the sun never shines. Tliis is worse than the Valley of the Shadow of Death, 
for in the fearful path of sin there is no guiding hand and no protecting staff. The 
darkness of this course is exhaled from the evil committed upon it. 1. Ferverted con- 
science. Sin distorts a man's thoughts, blinds his eyes to the highest truth, raises a 
mist about the old landmarks of right and wrong, and plunges tiie soul into a stupor 
of moral indifference. From neglecting to follow the light of God, the sinner comes at 
last to be incapable of beholding it. 2. (Spiritual desertion. God's Sjiirit will not 
always strive with the sons of men (Gen. vi. 3). There comes a time when God leaves 
the self-abandoned soul to its own devices. Then, indeed, a darkness as of winter 
midnight sinks upon the lost being. 3. Corrupt conduct. Following the way of evil, 
the sinner continues to blacken it with the guilt of liis own misdeeds. He plunges 
into the spiritual darkness of wicked living — the degradation, the loss of the joy and 
purity of heavenly light that sin always induces. 

III. The way of sin issues is a dark end. The sinner cannot see his way upon 
it, and therefore he is sure to stumble. Braised and confused, he may still persist in 
his sombre career. But he Las no pros[)ect of light beyond. There are no Beulah 
heights for him at the further end of the gloomy valley. His night of sin will be 
followed by no dawn of blessed light. He presses on only to deeper and yet deeper 
darkness. If he will not return there is nothing before him but the darkness of death. 
The one way of escape is backwards — to retrace his steps in humble penitence. Then, 
indeed, he may see the welcome light of his Father's home, and even earlier the Light oi 
the world, the Saviour who has come out into the darkness to lead him back to God. 
For the sinner who persists in his evil course there can be no better prospect than 
that described by By ion in his poem on " Darkness" — 

" The world was void. 
The popnlons and the powerful w as a lump, 
Beasonless, herbless, treeless, mankss, lifeless— 
A lump of death — a chaos of lianl clay. 
The rivers, lakes, and ocean all stood still, 
And nothing stirred within their silent deptlis ; 
Ships sailorless lay rotting on the sea. 
And their masts fell down piecemeal : as they dropped 
They slept on the abyss without a surge — 
The waves were dead ; the tides were in their grave. 
The moon, their mistress, had expiied before ; 
The winds were withered in tiie stagnant air, 
And the clouds perished ; Darkness had no need 
Of aid from them — she was the Universe." 

\er. 23. On guard.' I. What is to be kept. The heart. In the Bible th« 


98 THE PE0VEKB3. [oh. it. 1 -27 

" heart " represent! what we call the " head " as well aa the affections and conscience 
to which we confine the word " heart ; " i.e. it stands for the whole inner nature, the life 
of thought, feeling, and will. This is the " Town of Mansoul," and it has the various 
con.stituents of a town. 1. Entrjmce gates. ' The soul is always receiving thoughts and 
impulses from without. It is important to see that no adulterated article, no poison, 
no subject of infectious clisease comes in. Debased, false, and immoral impressions 
must be warded off. 2. Ways of exit. The broad river bears on her bosom argosies 
from the busy city to many a distant port. Let us see that the cargo is of good wares, 
in good measure, honestly realizing professions, containing no iujurious things. Some 
hearts export only sham products, some deadly poisons. Deeds, words, even smiles 
and glances carrying thought and influences out of the soul must be carefully guarded. 

3. Internal thorough/ares. The town is a network of streets and passages. Busy 
thoughts run to and fro in the heart. Let the traffic be orderly, the road well preserved, 
lest pure thoughts should he smirched with the mire of an unwholesome mental habit 

4. Storehouses. Memory has her treasuries, warehouses, granaries. Let us see that they 
are not crowded with rubbish, left in disorder, made fever-nests by the corruption of 
any unhealthy contents. Nourishing truths and beautiful ideas should stock them. 

5. Factories. In the heart we weave fine webs of fancy — see that the pattern has the 
beauty of holiness ; there, too, we forge great engines for future work: — see that they 
are constructed on safe and serviceable principles. 6. Balls of amusement. Let them 
be places of recreation, not of dissipation. 7. Shrines for worship. See that no idol 
takes the place of the true God, no hypocrisy does service for the incense of spiritual 
prayer and praise. 8. Graveyards of dead hopes and loves ; keep them beautiful with 
flowers of tender memory. Are there also graves of dead sins ? Plant weeping willows 
of penitence over them., 

II. Why it is to be kept. 1. For its own sake. The heart is the centre of the 
life ; the soul is the true being, the self. To care for the health of the body while the 
soul is diseased and dying in sin is like sending for the builder to repair the house, but 
leaving the sick inmate to perish without attention. " What shall it profit a man if he 
gain the whole world and lose his own soul " — life, heart ? 2. For its fruits. " Out 
of it are the issues of life." In proportion as the heart is vigorous or feeble, healthy or 
diseased, all the organs of the body work well or ill. Take care of the heart first, 
cultivate right principles, see that the affections are set on things above, and then the 
practice of the details of morals will follow almost as a matter of course. It is a 
mistake to put casuistry in the forefront of moral teaching. The result of doing so is 
to weaken conscience, to confuse the sense of right and wrong. Let the condition of 
the heart be the first concern ; see that truth, justice, purity, charity, are enshrined 
there. Let the love of God and the love of man be well cultivated, and the spiritual 
directory will be greatly simplified. But it is not even enough to cultivate right prin- 
ciples. Deeper than these is the life. Below the particiidar actions come genera' 
principles ; beneath these lie the character, the life, the heart of all. The fundamental 
requisite is not to do this or that deed, nor to cherish one or another principle, but to 
possess the life eternal in the heart, out of which pure blood will flow through main 
arteries of principles to the most remote and minute and intricate capillaries oi 

III. How IT 18 TO BE KEPT. 1. Pure. Let us see that the heart above all things 
is cleansed from sin and kept holy. We cannot do this for ourselves. But we can go 
to the fountain that is opened for uncleanness, and there wash and be clean. The blood 
of Christ, which cleanses from all sin, not only removes guilt, but purges out the corrup- 
tion and power of evil. By faith in Christ and the indwelling of the Divine Spirit that 
is a consequence of faith, the heart can be cleansed and preserved in purity. 2. 2V««. 
The Christian is to be a servant of God. Let him be loyal — frank, too, and ingenuous 
and simple. 3. Tender. One has well said that we want " tough skins and tender 
hearts." There is much in the world to harden them. Let us seek to have them soft 
to receive Divine influences and to feel human compassions. The heart must he kept, 
not as a prisoner under hard restraint, nor like the jewels at the Tower, in useless 
seclusion; but like a garden, well weeded, but also sown with good seed and bearing 
fruit and flowers. Keep the heart thus by watchfulness, by self-control (the New 
Testament " temperance "), by prayer, above all by entrusting it to the keeping of 

OH. lY. 1—27.] THE PROVERBS. M 

Gkid. _ Peeling that " the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked," 
knowing how powerful are the temptations of the world, we may well despair of keeping 
the heart pure and safe, God meets us in our helplessness, and offers to keep it fi )r us 
if we will put our trust and love In him. " My son, give me thy heart." 

Vers. 25 — 27. — Spiritual drilling. The whole man must he drilled into form and 
disciplined into orderly action, just as the whole armour of God is necessary for the 
protection of the soldier of Christ. It is not enough for safety to wear a helniet 
while the breast is exposed, nor to bare the head while the legs are covered ; and it is 
not enough for service that part of our nature is trained to obedience. We m ist seek 
to have all in right order. 

I. The hbabt. This must be guarded most sedulously, and before all else. We 
cannot have our actions right in the sight of God while the heart is perverted. The 
attempt to secure this only ends in hypocrisy. The first duty of the soldier is loyalty. 
The first duty of the Ohiistian is fidelity. Nevertheless, though the fountain must be 
pure if the stream is to be pure, its purity will not secure the water against subsequent 
defilement. It is not enough to think of the state of the heart, we must also consider 
the course of our actions. A pseudo-spirituality ends in indifference to morals, and even 
in positive immorality. St. Paul did not think his work done when he had laid the 
foundation of the Christian character. He sought the " edification," the " building 
up," of it by detailed and earnest instruction in Christian morals. 

II. The LIP3. The first and most ready expression of the state of the heart is in 
our conversation. " Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." Now, 
it is important to remember that we are responsible for our words. For " every idle 
word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment " 
(Matt xii. 36). Words are deeds. They carry infiuence and linger in memories and 
are transmitted from one to another long after the speaker has forgotten them. 

III. The byes. The eye is one of the chief gateways of knowledge. According to 
the objects on which we fix it, the class of our knowledge will be determined. It is 
the guide in our actions. Now, it is requisite that the Christian have: 1. A straight 
and "single" sight (see Matt. vi. 22), looking only at the truth, with no stray glances at 
the innumerable deceptions of low self-interest. 2. A long sight, looking at the end of 
the race — the Celestial City, neither allured by the fascinations of Vanity Fair nor 
distracted by the horrors of the Valley of the Shadow of Death. 3. An upward gaze 
fixed on God and Christ rather than on worldly loss or gain. 

IV. The feet. All the life leads on to the outgoings of activity. The ultimate 
question is — In what way are we going? Here the requisite is that the feet should go 
straight on. There are many ways of wrong, only one of right ; hence the breadth of 
the former and the narrowness of the latter. We must especially avoid the error of 
falling into extremes. While shunning the track to the left let us see that we do not 
go off on that to the right. The path of duty is between these extremes. Yet the 
way to find it is not by seeking for a mean and so only accepting a compromise, but by 
aiming at the true and the right and pressing straight on to them ineepective of all 
conflicting influences. 


Vers. 1 13. The tradition of piety. The writer, here and in ch. ▼, 7 and vii. 24, 

addresses his audience as children, thinking of himself as a son, who had been the 
obJLOt of fatherly counsels and warnings in his youth. He would hand on the torch 
of wisdom, the tradition of piety, to the next generation, . „ j j j 

I. Piety bhotjld bk a family tbadition. (Vers. 1 — 3.) Handed down from 
father to son and grandson, or from mother to daughter and grandchild, from Lois to 
Eunice, till it dwells in Timothy also (2 Tim. i. 5). Tradition in every forn. is perhaps, 
the strongest governing power over the minds of men in every department of Me. 

II Eably instkuction will be ketained, bboalled, and bbproduced. As the 
twie'is bent, so is the tree inclined; or, as Horace says so beautifully, " The cask will 
long preserve the odour with which when fresh it was imbued" ('Ep., i. 2. 69). 

100 THE PROVERBS. [oh. iv. 1—27. 

Every higher effort of the intellect rests on memory. Our later life is for the most 
part the reproduction in other forms of the deep impressions of childhood. 

III. The contents op this thadition abb simple, yet pbofound. (Vers. 4 — 9.) 
They are summed up in " the one thing needful." In opposition to the cynical maxim, 
"Get money, honestly if you can, but by all means get money," or the refrain of 
" Property, pioperty " (Tennyson's ' Northern Parmer '), the teacher rings the exhorta- 
tion out, like an old chime, " Get wisdom, get understanding." 

IV. The style ok fobm op the tradition. 1. It is iterative. It may even seem 
to modern ears monotonous. But this form is peculiarly part of the habit of the 
stationary Bast. Thought is not so much expansive, travelling from a centre to a 
wide periphery; it swings, like a pendulum, between two extremes. Generally, for all, 
the best life-wisdom must be these iterations, "Line upon line, precept upon precept" 
or stare siyper antiquas vias — a recurrence to well-worn paths. 2. It has variety of 
expression with unbroken unity of thought. (1) In r ference to the ohjed of pursuit. 
" Wisdom" is the leading word; but this is exchanged for "tiainiag" and "insight" 
(ver. 1); "doctrine" and "law" (ver. 2); " words" and "commandments" (ver"4); 
the same word often recurs. (2) In reference to the active effurt of the mind itself. 
This is presented as "hearing" and "attending" (ver. 1); "nut forsakiug " (ver. 2) ; 
" holding fast in the heart," and "guarding" (ver. 4); "gettint;" and "uot turning 
from" (ver. 5); "not forsaking" and "loving" (ver. 6); "holding her high" and 
"embracing her" (ver. 8); "receiving words" and "adhering to instruction" (vers. 
10, 13). (3) In reference to the accompanying promise. "Thou shalt iive" (ver. 4); 
"She shall guard thee;" "protect thee" (ver. 6); "exalt thee;" "bring tliee to 
honour" (ver. 8); "give to thy head a chaplet of delight;" "hold ■ ut to thee a 
splendid crown" (ver. 9); "many years of life" (ver. 10); "Thy steps shall not 
be hindered" (ver. 12); "Thou shalt not stumble" (ver. 12); "She is thy Ufe " 
(ver. 13). 

V. The advantages op this method op teaching. 1. It is simple, intelligible 
to all. 2. Of universal adaptation. Easily remembered by the young, impossible to 
forget in age. 3. It admits of infinite illustration from experience, it is a sketch or 
outline, given to the pupil ; he fills it in and colours it as life progresses.— J. 

Vers. 14 — 19. — The two paths. I. Lipe under the image op a path. It is a 
leading biblical image. There is much suggestion in it. 1. Life, like a path, has a 
starting-poi'it, a direction, and an end. 2. We have a choice of paths before us. The 
high-road may image holy tradition and custom, the bypaths the choice of caprice or 
personal aberration. 3. It is only safe to follow beaten tracks. What we call "striking 
out an original course" may be conceited folly. "Gangin' our ain gait" is a dubious 
expression. 4. The selection of the path must be determined by whither we desire to 
arrive. 5. We are ever drawing near to some end. It alone can disclose the prudence 
or the folly of our choice. 

II. The path op the wicked. (Vers. 14—17, 19.) 1. Religion passionately warns 
against it. The language of iteration is the very language of urgency and passion. 
What a force there is in the mere repel itioii of the cry, "Fire! firel fire!" or in the 
warning of the mother to the liltle one against some dangerous object, " Don't go near 
it ; keep away ; go further off! " Just so does Divine Wisdom deal with us children of 
a larger growth. Again and again she clamours, " EnUr not; go not; shun it; pass 
not over; turn away; pass hy!" (vers. 14, 15). This throbbing earnestness, this 
emotion of the Bihle, gives it its bold on man ; and should be shared by every teacher. 
2. Religion describes it in powerful invective (veis. 16, 17). (1) The sleepless malice of 
the wicked. A common figure lor the intense activity of the mind. As David had a 
sleepless ambition to build a temple for Jehovah; as the trophies of Marathon siifi'ered 
not the glory-loving Themistochs to sleep; as care, or glowing study, or ea^er planning, 
breaks our nightly rest;— so the evil have no repose from their dark cupidities and' 
pen.i(;ious schemes. (2) They are nourished by evil (ver. 17). To "eat bread and 
drink wine is a Hebrew metaphor for living (Araus ii. 8; vii. 12). In a similar way 
tlie " bread of misery " and the "wine of punishment" are spoken of (Dent. xvi. 3- 
Ps. cxxvii. 2 ; Amos ii. 8). 'I hey live upon villainy, as we might say. It is the. root 
of their being. It is horrible, but true, that a man may, as it were, draw life and enerc^v 

CH. IV. 1—27.] THE PROVERBS. 101 

out of a perverted consciouBness, as the drunkard cannot lire without the alcohol whicli 
is killing him. 

III. The path of the bighteoub. (Ver. 18.) There ia a change of figure; for 
the image of the path, the image of the advancing light of morning is substituted. 
1. Lisht as an image of moral goodness. It is universal, suggests itself to and strikes 
the fancy of alL It associates with it the images of beauty, of joy, of expansion, of 
futurity, of infinity. 2. 'I he growth of light from dawn to noon as an imajre of moral 
progress. This is true of knowledge and of practice. The good man tiavels out of 
dimmer perceptions and out of doubts, into clear convictions of reason. At first he 
realizes little; his will is weak and untrained. But keeping his eyes upon the ideal of 
the good, true, and beautiful, he embodies more and more of it in conduct. As the sun 
rests not (to speak and think in the dialect of poetry) till it " stands" (see the Hebrew) 
in high noon, so the righteous is ever advancing towards the goal of a life in perfect 
unity with God. 3. The safety of the light is an image of the course of the righteous. 
Translated into distinctively Christian thought, this ia follovnng Christ (John xi. 9, 10). 
4. The image serves to throw into contrast the course of the wicked. " Thick darkness" 
represents their mind and way. It is ignorant, full of peril, yet they are uncon- 
scious of it. Instead of growth and progress, their doom is sudden extinction (comp. 
ch. i. 27, sqq. ; ii. 18, 22 ; iii. 35).— J. 

Vers. 20 — 22. — Self-preservation. The instinct of self-preservation is the very root 
of all our activity. " Every individual existence strives to remain what it is," and 
would defend its integrity from all attack. 

I. The instinct ib eecoqnized. As it must be by all genuine teachers. It is a 
fact, and cannot be properly ignored; a Divine fact, and ought not to be oljscured. It 
Includes (1) the desire to live, the sense of life's sweetness ; (2) the desire for health 
and happiness. 

II. The instinct ib dieectbd. It needs direction ; for all instinct is in itself blind, 
and men, in seeking health and happiness, ignorantly and viciously purchase disease and 

in. There is no beobet op sblp-pebsbrvation but (in the most comprehensive 
sense) godliness. This teaches the renunciation of the immediate for the further 
and lasting good. A paradox is here involved, a seeming contradiction containing a 
unity. To lose life is to gain it ; to gain it, to lose it. For in true conduct there is ever 
a denial of the lower contained in the affirmation of the higher, and in evil conduct mce 
versa (compare on this section, ch. iii. 2, 8, 13, 16 ; iv. 13). — J. 

Vers. 23 — 27. — Uie heart and its issues. I. Life centred in the heart. (Ver. 23.) 
Physically, we know this is so. It is a self-acting pump, a fountain of vital force. All 
the physical activities are derived from it. Spiritually, it is so. The connection of 
the heart with emotion is recognized in all languages. It is feeling in the widest sense 
that makes us what we are. 

II. The heart must be, therefore, the peculiar object of odr solicitude. 
(Ver. 23.) The sentiments, to put it in another form, are the important elements in cha- 
racter. These lie so close to opinion, that we commonly say either " I feel " or " I think " 
in expressing our opinions. To instil right sentiments about the important points of 
behaviour, the relation of the sexes, business, honour, truth, loyalty, is the great work of 
moral education, and here lies its immense value as distinguished from the gymnastic 
of the intellect. 

III. The external organs must at the same time be disciplined. (Vers. 24 — 27.) 
Education must not be one-sided. The heart supplies the organs and channels of 
activity ; but these again react upon the heart. The impulses of feeling are in them- 
selves formless ; it is the definite organs which give to them peculiar shape and deter- 
mination. Hence the organs themselves must be trained to receive true impressions 
and to -give them back. 1. The mouth— the lips. They are to be corrected of every 
"crooked," false expression. What wonderful variety of expression is the mouth 
capable of— firmness, laxity, tenderness, scorn, love, irony, hate I In controlling the 
mouth we do something to control the heart. Its contents must be purified from false- 
hood, coarseness, foolish jesting, malicious gossip, all of which tell upon the centra] 

102 THE PEOVBBBS. [oh. iv. 1— av. 

consciousness, and disturb and obscure it. 2. The eyes. (Ver. 25.) They are to be 
trained to a direct and straightforward expression. The leer of lust, the oblique 
glance of cunning expressed on the faces of others, or the clear honest light beaming 
from the eyes of the pure and open-hearted, not only mirror the heart, but remind how 
the heart may be reached by the self-discipline of the eye. 3. The feet. (Ver. 26.) 
In like manner, they are to be trained to a straightforward walk. Even in moments of 
relaxation 'tis well to have an object for a walk. The mind needs self-direction and 
discipline even in its pleasures; otherwise it becomes dissolute, and waywardly falls into 
evil through sheer laxity in the spring of will. (1) Action and reaction, between the 
inward and the outward world, expression and impression, constitute a great law of our 
spiritual activity. (2) Hence self-discipline and moral education should be founded on 
the recognition of it. We must work from the centre to the periphery, and back again 
from every point of the periphery to the centre of life. — J, 

Vers. 1 — 13. — The solicitude of the wise father: a sermon to parents a/nd children. 
In these verses we have a peep into the royal house at Jerusalem while David was on 
the throne. And we have such a glimpse as we should expect to gain. We see the 
devout man extremely solicitous that his son should walk in the ways of Divine and 
heavenly wisdom. David, like the rest of human parents, and more than most of 
them, was under — 

I. A 8TE0NO TEMPTATION TO MAKE A FALSE ESTIMATE. So near to US is this present 
passing world, so powerfully do its interests appeal to us, so strong is the hold which it 
gains over our senses and our imagination, that we are apt to over-estimate altogether its 
claims and its worth. And this in proportion to the height of the dignity, the measure 
of the power, the extent of the fortune, to which we have attained. David, as a man 
subject to all human passions," would be particularly tempfed to weigh the worldly 
advantages of his favourite son, and estimate them very carefully and very highly. 
He would be in danger of considering — not exclusively, but excessively — what would be 
the extent of his kingly rule, what the revenue he would be able to collect, what the 
influence he would wield over neighbouring powers, what the authority he would 
exercise over his own people, etc. And in the thick throng of these mundane con- 
siderations there would be no small risk of other and higher things being lost sight of. 
So with other if not with all parents. There is a constant danger of worldly anxieties 
about our children absorbing, or at any rate obscuring, the deeper and worthier solici- 
tudes. But in the case of the devout monarch of Israel there was, as there should 
be with us all — 

n. A WISE DiscEBNMENT. David was profoundly convinced that " wisdom is the 
principal thing " (ver. 7), that everything is of inferior val ue to that. He saw clearly and 
felt strongly that he must induce his son Solomon to walk in the fear of the Lord, or 
even his brilliant prospects would come to nothing. For he knew : 1. That the fear of 
trod was the living principle most likely to lead to temporal prosperily: he had 
proved that m the elevation of his own «' house " and the rejection of that of Saul. 
i. Ihat no possible successes of an earthly kind would compensate for the loss of 
character : his own hour of disastrous folly had shown him that (2 Sam. xi. 27). 
a. Ihat no circumstantial misfortunes could fatally injure a man who was ri<^ht at 
heart with God : his own experience had illustrated that truth (Ps. xli. 12). We shall 
be wise if we come to the same conclusions. Like David, we sliall see that the outward 
and the visible, though they may be far more attractive and voiceful, are yet of far 
inferior account to the mw;ard and the spiritual. We shall care immeasurably more 
lTth7:"^il'^^r *'lL^YJ^fLll.r.^« '" T\ *\- P-^P-°- ™ -tate, "all Jori 

TIT rp e^'^'ugor Keeping possession ot lands and houses. 

«. 7v,«f w? ^'"'^ Z ^'^''"° u ''°!^^5° '^"'^ ^°"^'<'- " ^«' "sj^rents, would walk wisely, 
J^=.rlo "W attain our heart's desire concerning the chilTfren of our love and of our 

t^^^M^f "f ^ ^^"7^ ^'^-^^ ^^"^^ "'"»'»««'' ^^' *^i^ God has taught us (1) 
with a 1 affectionateness of manner (ver. 3); (2) with all earnestness of sjlrit {vlJ. 

rf i;^. / 'a ^ •' r ' ^"'°^^' "^ exposition. There is a strain of parental tendernest 

af tone and energy of manner, as well as great fulness of utterance here. The same 

OH. IV. 1—27.] THE PROVERBS. 103 

thought is presented, is repeated, is pressed on the reason and the conscience. David 
evidently yearned, strove, persisted with patient and resolute zeal, that he might con- 
vince and inspire his son with the sacred truths he held so dear. He represented 
heavenly wisdom, the truth of God, as (1) the thing of surpassing intrinsic excellency 
( vtr. 7) ; (2) a thing to he pursued in preference to other fascinations (vers. 5 — 7) ; 
(3) a thing to be cherished and held to the heart (ver. 6); (4) a thing to bo highly 
honoured before men (ver. 8) ; (5) a thing to be retained at all costs (ver. 13) ; (6) a 
friend that would repay all attentions — that would guard and shield from evil (vers. 
6, 12), that would load to honour and esteem (vers. 8, 9), that would prolong life 
(ver. 10), that would lead in that way which is the path of life itself (ver. 13). 

1. To parents, the lesson of the text is (1) discern the one supremely precious thing 
to be commended to the heart of youth ; and (2) commend it graciously, earnestly, 
fully. 2. To sons and dauyhters, it is (1) remember all the sacred solicitude that has 
been expended on you; and (2) fulfil the desire of ynur parents' hearts. " My .son, 
kuuw the Grud of your father" (see ver. 1); this is "good doctrine " (ver. 2) ; it is 
"yQurlife"(ver. 13).— C. 

Vers. 14 — 17, 19. — The prudence of piety. We may say concerning piety or virtue 
— the wisdom which is from God includes both — that the essence of it is in rigla 
feeling, in loving him who is the Holy One and that which is the right and admirable 
thing, and in hating that which is evil and base ; that the proof of it is in right acting — 
iu doing those things and those only which are good and honourable, which God's 
Word and our own conscience approve ; and that the prudence of it is in these two 
tilings which are implied in our text. 

I. Cherishing a wholesome hoeeor op the consequences of sin. There is an 
insensibility and an ignorance which passes for courage, and gets a credit which is not 
its due. Those who do not take the trouble to know what the issues of any line of 
conduct are, and who go fearlessly forward, are not brave ; they are only blind. We 
ought to know all we can learn of the consequences of our behaviour, of the end in 
which the path we are treading terminates. The prudent man will see and shrink from 
the consequences of evil ; and if he open his eyes or consult those who can tell him, he 
will find that they are simply disastrous. 1. For sin is mischievous in its spirit ; it 
gloats over the ruin which it works ; it finds a horrible delight in doing harm to 
human souls (vers. 16, 17). 2. And it succeeds in its shameful design. It does 
" mischief;" it makes men "to fall." It causes spiritual decline, decay, corruption — 
the worst of all mischief; it leads purity, sobriety, honesty, truthfulness, reverence, love, 
to fall down into the ruinous depths of lascivionsness, intemperance, dishonesty, false- 
hood, profanity, hard-heartedness. 3. It leads down to a darkness and a death if 
which it did not dream (ver. 19). It sinks into that awful soul-blindness in which the 
"eye is evil," in which the very "light is darkness" (Matt. vi. 23), in which the 
moral judgment, all perverted, leads astray. " The way of the wicked is as darkness : 
they know not at what they stumble." Their powers of moral distinction are gone ; they 
are " altogether gone astray." Piety, virtue, may well in godly prudence shrink with 
wholesome horror from this. 

II. Careeul avoidance of the way of the wicked, and so of the path nf 
temptation. 1. True it is that we must be often found in perilous places at the call 
of daily duty. 2. True that at the invitation of mercy we shall sometimes be found 
there. 3. But it is also true that the wise will not needlessly expose themselves to 
the assaults of sin. They will refrain from so doing both because (1) we are not sure 
of the measure of our own strength ; there may be some very weak places in our 
armour, ill-fortified parts in onr character ; most men are weaker than they know, 
somewhere. And also because (2) we do not know the full strength of temptation. Full 
often sin proves to have an unimagined force, an unsuspected skill. The full strength 
of the allurements and enticements of evil perhaps no man knows. The number of 
the slain that lie on the spiritual battle-field tells with a mournful eloquence that 
thousands of the children of men have over-estimated their own resisting power, or under- 
estimated the insidiousness, or the fascination, or the force of the foe. Therefore, if duly 
does not demand it, nor mercy plead for it, shun the dangerous path, " enter not into the 
way of it . . . avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away '' (vers. 14, 15). 

104 THE PROVERBS. [oh. iv. 1—27. 

Let it be considered that this is a Divine injunction ; therefore let there be no 
hesitation about obeying. There is nctliing unmanly or ignoble in prudence. It is 
not a virtue to be anywise ashamed of. There is ample scope for the utmost heroism 
of spirit and of life without exposing our young hearts to evils the very nature of 
which we may not know, the force of which we cannot measure, and from the conse- 
quences of which we might never be able to escape. — C. 

Vers. 18, 19. — Darkness and light. We have two perfect contrasts in these two 
verses — the path of the just and the way of the wicked ; the one is very closely con- 
nected with light and the other with darkness. 

I. Sin and darkness. (Ver. 19.) We may say that ; 1. Sin is darkness. It is (1) 
the ignorance of the mind ; it is (2) the error of the heart — it is the soul's supreme 
mistake, misreading, misunderstanding every one and everything from the highest to 
the lowest. 2. Sin spreads darkness (1) over the soul of the sinner himself, blinding 
his eyes, distorting his vision, confusing his perceptions ; (2) over the souls of others, 
leading them into the darkness of folly, superstition, wrong-doing. 3. Sin leads to the 
ruin which attends darkness ; it ends in making the sinner blind to the true character 
of his own transgressions : " They know not at what they stumble ; " blind, also, to the 
final issue of his guilt : they know not into what they stumble — into what a " black- 
ness of darkness." 

II. Wisdom and light. (Ver. 18.) By " the just " in this verse we understand 
not particularly the man who is equitable in his dealings with his fellows, but the good 
and wise man — the man who, in the fear of God, seeks to act with rectitude in all his 
relations. This man is closely associated with the light. 1. Knowle^lge is light, and 
heavenly wisdom is tlie truest and best knowledge — that of Q-od, and of the human 
soul, and of the path of eteinal life. 2. That which reveals is light, and heavenly 
wisdom is the best and most beneficent revealing power. The wise, the " just " man 
is "making manifest" (see Eph. v. 13) the highest, the most far-reaching, deep- 
descending truths. He does this (1) by his direct endeavour to instruct; (2) uncon- 
sciously, by the influence of his life. " The life is the light of men " in our case as in 
his who was " the Life made mitnifest." 3. The light of the just man grows ever 
stronger and more illuminating : it " shineth more and more unto the perfect day," 
With added opportunities of inquiry and acquisition, with multiplied privileges, with 
more of Divine discipline, with increase of power resulting from the exercise of 
spiritual faculty, there is (1) growing light within, burning more steadily and lustrously ; 
and (2) advancing influence for good which flows forth in wider, deeper, and larger 
streams. — 0. 

Vers. 20 — 27. — The course of wisdom. In these verses we may trace the course of 
wisdom from the beginning to its full development. We have — 

I. Its bboinninq in the soul. (Ver. 20.) It commences in attention,. When a 
man " inclines his ear unto the sayings of Wisdom," when he eagerly listens to what 
God !-ays to him, when he is a disciple sitting at the feet of the great Teacher, he has 
taken an important step in the heavenward course. The " grace of God" is upon him 
(Acts xiii. 43). 

II. Its establishment in the soul. (Ver. 21, latter clause.) When the counsels 
of the Wise One are once fairly and fully welcomed to the soul, so that they may 
be said to be " in the midst of thine heart," then it may be said that the decisive point 
is turned. When there is the "cherishing of a cordial attachment;" when we say, 
"How love I thy Law ! " when our heart is given to the ti uth of God because given to 
him, the gracious Lord of truth ; — then wisdom is establisiied within our soul. 

III. The need for holy vihilanob concerning its maintenance. (Ver. 23; see 
homily infra. Ver. 26, first clause.) 

IV. One of its manifestations. (Ver. 24.) It will show itself in clean lips; it will 
put far away the froward and perverse mouth. Its utterances will be pure, temperate, 
reverent. The child of folly is detected by his foolish, vain, culpable exp^es^ions. His 
"speech bevvrayeth him." "By his words he is condemned." The son ot wisdom i^i 
known by his blamelessness in this particular; by his words he is justified (Matt. xii. 
36, 37 ; Eph. iv. 29 ; Jas. i. 26). J \ 

OH. IT. 1—27.] THE PBOVBRBS. 106 

V. Bbsolutbnesb in the eight path. (Ver. 27.) There must be no "turning 
again to folly " (Ps. Ixxxv. 8) ; no turning to the right or left into either main high- 
ways of vice and open sin, or any byways of error and ill-doing. Even the pleasant 
path that seems to skirt the King's highway so closely that at any time we may return 
thereto, is a danger to be avoided. The road that leads off from that highway of holi- 
ness by ever so small an angle is a road that finds its way at last to a " City of 
Destruction." The best preservative from the perilpus wandering is here indicated ; 
it is — 

VI. Steadfast gaze upon the goal. (Ver. 25.) Look right on to the goal in 
front : ha «o intent on reaching that, and on attaining to the prize which awaits the 
winner, that there will be no temptation to depart from the straight course. We keep 
a straighter path by fixing our eye on the object toward which we walk than by watch- 
ing the steps we take ; how much more so than by louking about us on every hand 1 
Our heavenly wisdom is to be looking " right on," " straight before us," unto Jesus, the 
Leader and Perfecter of the faith (Heb. xii. 2), 

VII. Its issue. It issues in life and health (vers. 22, 23). Long life was promised 
to the wise and holy under the old dispensation ; now we look confidently forward, as 
the issue of heavenly wisdom, to (1) a blessed life below, of spiritual wholeness, and 
(2) everlasting life beyond, where the inhabitants are never sick (Isa. xxxiii. 24). — 0. 

Ver. 23. — Man's chief treasure. " Keep thy heart above all keeping " (marginal 
reading). Evidently there is a precious treasure which, as the disciples of Wisdom, we 
are charged to keep. We ask — 

I. What ake the chief tkbasubbs wb have in charge ?- These are threefold. 
1. That which belongs to us, but which is entirely without us — our money, our 
houses, our lands, our shares, our ships, our precious documents, our " valuables." 2. 
That which is more closely related to us, but is still outside ourselves — our bodily frame, 
the tabenaade of car spirit, and, with this, our physical health and strength; the clear 
eye, the healthy brain, the strong nerve. 3. Our own very selves — that spiritual nature 
in virtue of which we are said to be " created in the image of God " (Gen. L 27). These 
aifl the treasures we may " keep." 

n. Which is the one of supreme value, and why ? " Keep thy heart above 
all keeping;." That which is nearest ourselves must be of more value to us than that 
which is further from us. To keep our temporal estate is to preserve that which is 
precious, but which is not ourselves. To maintain our health is most desirable, but our 
body is only our temporary home and organ ; it is something we can lose and yet our- 
selves be. But our heart, that is our own very self. God made us, not to have, but to 
he, living souls : that in us, that of us which thinks, loves, hopes, worships, rejoices in 
the spiritual and the Divine, that is ov/rself, and to keep that must be the supreme 
duty ; that is to be kept beyond all keeping. But the wise man says there is a special 
reason why we should keep our heart beyond all keeping ; he says, " for out of it are 
the issues of life." In other words, a well-guarded heart is the spring and source of all 
that is best in human life. 1. The holy thoughts and pure feelings and kind purposes 
which flow therefrom are, in themselves, a large part and the very best part of human 
life. 2. A well-guarded heart will prove the source of a well-regulated life — of a 
life of honesty, virtue, peaceableness, sobriety; and these will ensure prosperity, 
esteem, joy. 3. A well-regulated heart will conduct to the life immortal in the 
heavenly land : this is the most blessed " issue " of all. With whatsoever anxiety, 
vigilance, diligence, we gnard our temporal interests, or even our health and our mortal 
life, with far greater anxiety, far more eager vigilance, far more unremitting diligence, 
should we guard our heart — its purity, its tenderness, its devotion. 

III. What abb our forces op defence ? Wherewith shall we keep these hearts 
of ours ? What are the forces at our command ? They are these. 1. The power of 
introspection. We can interrogate and examine our own souls, and see how we stand, 
what need there is for penitence and for renewal. 2. The power of self-regulation. We 
can acquire healthful habits, pass regulative rescdutions which will (1) keep us away 
from temptation, and (2) take us where our souls will be nourished and strengthened 
in things Divine. 3. The power of the Divine Spirit. We can ask and gain the " might 
[which come« froml his Spirit in the inner man." — 0. 



[oh. v. 1—23. 


Vers. 1—23.— 8. Eighth admonitory dis- 
course. Warning against aduUeryi and comr 
mendation of marriage. The teacher, in 
this diflcoJiTBe, recurs to a subject which he 
lias glanced at before in oh. ii. 15 — 19, and 
which he again treats of in the latter part of 
the sixth and in the whole of the eeveiith 
chapters. This constant recurrence to the 
same subject, repulsive on account of its 
assooiations, shows, however, the importance 
which it had in the teacher's estimation as 
a ground of warning, and that he ranked 
it among the foremost of the temptations 
and sins which called the young ofif from 
the pursuit of Wisdom, and so led them 
astray from " the fear of the Lord." The 
vividness with which- the ruin, bodily and 
moral, ensuing with absolute certainty on a 
life of vice, is described is a sufBcient proof 
in itself that the subject before us is not 
brought forward from or for voluptuous 
motives, but for the purpose of conveying an 
impressive warning. Some commentators, 
».g. Delitzsoh, include the first six verses 
in the previous discourse ; but the unity of 
the subject requires a different treatment. 
Zockler's reason against this arrangement, 
on the ground that the previous discourse 
was addressed to " tender youth," and thus 
to youth in a state of pupilage, while the 
one before us refers to more advanced age 
— to the married man^may be true, but is 
not the true ground for incorporating them 
in the present discourse. The unity of the 
subject requires that they should be taken 
with the central and didactic part of the 
discourse, as being in a sense introductory to 
it. The discourse divides itself into three 
sections. (1) The earnest appeal to atten- 
tion because of the counter-attraction in the 
blandishments of the harlot, which, how- 
ever, in the end, are bitter as wormwood and 
sharp as a two-edged sword (vers. 1 — 6). 
(2) The main or didactic section (vers. 7 — 
20), embracing (a) warnings against adul- 
terous intercourse with " the strange 
woman " (vera. 7 — 14) ; (5) the antithetical 
admonition to use the means of chaslity by 
remaining faithful to, and rejoicing with. 

the vdfe of one's yonth (vea IS — VS). And 
(3) the epilogue, which, in addition to the 
disastrous temporal consequences which 
follow on the violation of the sanctity of 
marriage, mentioned in vera. 9 — 14, repre- 
sents the sin as one which will be examined 
by the universal Judge, and which brings 
with it its own Nemesis or retribution. All 
sins of impurity, aU sins against temperance, 
soberness, and chastity, are no doubt in- 
volved in the warning, and the subject is 
capable of an allegorical interpretation — a 
mode of treatment in some instances adopted 
by the LXX. rendering, as that the " strange 
woman" stands as the representative of 
impenitence (Miller), or, according to the 
earlier view of Bede, as the representative 
of heresy and false doctrine; but the sin 
which is inveighed against, and which is 
made the subject of these repeated warn- 
ings, is not fornication simply, but adultery— 
the violation, in its most repulsive form, of 
the sacred obligations of marriage. The 
whole discourse is an impressive com- 
mentary on the seventh commandment. 

Ver. 1. — The admonitory address is very 
similar to that in cii. iv. 20, except that here 
the teacher says, " Attend to my wisdom, bow 
down thine ear to my understanding," in- 
stead of " Attend to my words, and incline 
thine ear unto my saying." It is not merely 
"wisdom" and "understanding" in the 
abstract, but wisdom which he has appro- 
priated to himself, made his own, and which 
he knows by experience to be true wisdom. 
It may therefore have the sense of experi- 
ence and observation, both of which increase 
with years. To " bow down the ear " is to 
listen attentively, and so to fix the mind 
intently on what is being said. Compare 
the similar expressions in Ps. xxxi. 2 and 
oh. ii. 2; iv. 20; xxxiii. 12. The same 
idea is expressed in Marc Antony's address 
to his countrymen, " Lend me your ears " 
(Shakespeare, ' Julius Csesar,' act iii. so. 2). 
Ver. 2. — This verse expresses the pur- 
poses or results of the preceding admonition. 
The first is, that thou mayest regard discre- 
tion (Hebrew, ItshmSr m'zlmmdth) ; literally, 
to guard reflection ; i.e. in other words, that 
thou mayest maintain thouglitfuluess, ob- 
serve counsel, set a proper guard or control 
over thy thouglits, and so restrain them 
within proper and legitimate limits, ol 
form such resolutions which, being well 

OH. Y. 1—23.] 



oonaideied and prudential, may result in 
pmdent conduct. The word m'zimmdth, 
bowever, does not travel beyond the sphere 
of what is conceivi d in the mind, and con- 
Bequently does not mean conduct (as Holden 
conceiTes), except in a secondary sense, as 
that thoughts and plans are the necessary 
preliminaries to action and conduct. Mnffet, 
tn loe., explains, " that thou mayesc not 
conceive in mind any evil or vanity." The 
vrord m'iimmoi'h is the plural of m'zlmimah, 
which occurs in oh. i 4. This word 
generally means any plan, project, device, 
either in a good or bad sense. In the latter 
sense it is applied to intrigue and deceitful 
conduct, as in ch. xxiv. 8. It ia here used 
in a good sense. Indeed, Delitzsch remarks 
that the use of the word in a good sense is 
peculiar to the introductory part of the 
Proverbs (ch. i. — ix.). The Vulgate renders, 
"That thou mayest guard thy thoughts or 
reflection (yteustodiateogitationei)." So the 
LXX., *Ii/a (i>v\alris ivmiav h.yaBii', " That 
thou mayest guard good reflection," the 
adjective dya.ei\ being introduced to note the 
sense in which the iwoia, i.e. act of thinking, 
properly, is to be understood. The prefix 
h ("to") before tlidmSr, "to guard," in 
lisJimSr, expresses the purpose, as in ch.i 
S ; ii. 2, et alia. The second end in view is, 
that thy lips may keep knowledge; literally, 
and thy lips shall keep knowledge. Those 
lips keep or pieserve knowledge which 
literally retain tLo instruction of Wisdom 
(Zockler), or which allow nothing to pass 
them which does not proceed from the know- 
ledge ef God (Delitzsch), and which, when 
they speak, give utterance to sound wisdom. 
Tlie meaning may be illustrated by Ps. xvii. 
8, " I am purposed that my month shall not 
transgress." The same expression occurs in 
Mai. ii. 7, " For the priest's lips should keep 
knowledge," i.e. preserve and give utterance 
to it. Where "the lips keep knowledge," 
there they are protected against the lips of 
tlie strange woman, i.e. against her allure- 
ments, because they will be fortified with 
purity. Tliy lips; s'phdtUykd is the dual 
of the feminine noun saphah, " a lip." The 
teacher designedly uses this word instead of 
"thy heart" (cf. ch. iii. 1), because of the 
contrast which he has in mind, and which 
he produces in the next verse. The LXX., 
Vulgate, and Arabic add, "Attend not to 
the deceitful woman," wliich Houbigant and 
Scliieusner think is required by the context. 
The addition, however, is without authority 

Ver. 3.— The teacher enters upon the 
subject of his warning, and under two 
familiar figures— common alike to Oriental 
and Greek writers— describes the nature of 
the "strange woman's" allurements. For 
the Up ■ of a strange woman drop as an 

honeycomb. The conjunction " for " (Hebrew 
kt) here, like the LXX. yip, states the 
reason why the preceding exhortation is 
worthy of attention. Some commentators 
render " although," " albeit," as coirespond- 
ing with the antithetical " but " in ver. 4. 
The lips; slphthey, the construct case of 
tdphdh in ver. 2. The organ of speech is 
here used for the speech itself, like the 
parallel " mouth." A strange woman (zdrdh) ; 
t.e. the ballot. The word occurs before in 
ch. ii. 16, and again in ch. v. 20; vii. 5; 
xxii. 11 ; xxiii. 33. She is extranea, a 
stranger with respect to the youth whom 
she would beguile, either as being of foreign 
extraction, or as being the wife of another 
man, in which capacity she ia so represented 
in ch. vii. 19. In this sense she would be 
an adulteress. St. Jerome, in Ezek. vi., 
takes her as the representative of the allure- 
ments from sound doctrine, and of corrupt 
worsliip (Wordsworth). Drop a» an honey- 
comb (nSphMh tUhdph'ndh); rather, distil 
honey. The Hebrew nSphMh is properly 
a " dropping," dietillatio, and so the honey 
flowing from the honeycombs (tsuphim). 
Kimohi explains it as the honey flowing 
from the cells before they are broken, and 
hence it is the pure fine virgin honey. 
Exactly the same phrase occurs in Cant. 
iv. 11, "Thy lips, O my spouse, drop as an 
honeycomb (nSphlth tUhdph'ndh)." The only 
other places where we meet with the word 
nSpMlh are Ps. xxiv. 10 (11) (there com- 
bined with tsuphim, which helps to deter- 
mine its meanmg) and eh. Xiiv. 13 ; xxvii. 
7. The meaning is the same as she " flat- 
tereth with her words" of ch. vii. 5, in 
which chapter the teacher gives an example 
of the alluring words which the strange 
woman uses (ch. vii. 14—20). As honey is 
sweet and attractive to the taste, so in a 
higher degree are her words pleasant to the 
senses. Her month is smoother than oil; 
i.e. her words are most plausible and persua- 
sive. The Hebrew khilc is properly "the 
palate," though it also included the cor- 
responding lower part of the mouth (Gese- 
nius). It is used as the instrument or organ 
of speech in ch. viii. 7, "For my mouth 
(khik) shall speak truth ; " and in Job xxxi. 
30, " I have not suffered my mouth (khik) 
to sin." Under the same figure David 
describes the treachery of his friend in Ps. 
Iv. 22, " His words were softer than oil, yet 
they were drawn swords." 

Ver. 4. — The contrast is drawn with great 
vividness between the professions of the 
" strange woman " and the disastrous con- 
sequences which overtake those who listen 
to her enticements. She promises enjoy- 
ment, pleasure, freedom from danger, but 
her end is bitter as wormwood. " Her end," 
not merely with reference to herself, which 



[oh. t. 1—23, 

may be and is nndoubtedly true, but the 
last of her as experienced by those who have 
'nteroourse with her — her character as it 
stands revealed at the last. So it is said of 
wine, " At the last," i.e. its final effects, if 
indulged in to excess, "it biteth like a 
serpent, and stingeth like an adder" (oh. 
xxiii. 22). Bitter as wormwood. The 
Hebrew, IdSndh, " wormwood," Gesenius 
derives from the unused root loan, "to 
curse." It is the equivalent to tlie absin- 
thium of the Vulgate. So Aquila, who 
has cafiiveiov. The LXX. improperly renders 
XoAij, "gall." In other places the word 
laanah is used as the emblem of bitterness, 
with the superadded idea of its being 
poisonous, also according to the Hebrew 
notion, shared in also by the Greeks, that 
the plant combined these two qualities. 
Thus in Deut. xxix. 18 it is associatfd with 
rosh, "a poisonful herb" (margin), and the 
Targum terms it, agreeably with this notion, 
"deadly wormwood." The same belief is 
reproduced in Eev. viii. 11, ''And the name 
of the star is called Wormwood : and many 
men died of the waters because they were 
made bitter" (cf. Jer. ix. 15; Amos v. 7: 
vi. 12). The apostle, no doubt, has it in mind 
when he speaks of any " root of bitterness," 
in Heb. xii. 15. The herb is thus described 
by Umbreit : "It is a plant toward two feet 
high, belonging to the genus Artemisia 
(species Artemisia ahsinthiwm), which pro- 
duces a very firm stalk with many branches, 
grayish leaves, and small, almost round, 
pendent blossoms. It Jias a bitter and saline 
taste, and seems to have been regarded in 
the East as also a poison, of which the fre- 
quent combination with rSsh gives an intima- 
tion." Terence has a strikingly similar 
passage to the one before us — 

"In melle sunt linguae sitaa vestrsB atque 
Lacteque ; corda felle sunt lita atqne acerbo 
ace to," 

" Your tongues are placed in honey and your 
speech is milk ; your hearts are besmeared 
with gall and sharp vinegar" ('Truoul.,' 
i. 11. 75). Sharp as a two-edged sword; 
literally, as a sword of edges {hhSrSv ptyySth), 
which may mean a swoid of extreme sharp- 
ness. Her end is as sharp as the sharpest 
sword. But it seems better to take the term 
as it is understood in the Authorized Ver- 
sion, which has the support both of the 
Vulgate, gladius biceps, and the LXX., 
fiaxaipa SurrSfios, i.e. " a two-etlgeil sword." 
Compare " a two-edged sword " (khSrev 
ptpMyySth') of Ps. cxlix. 6. The meaning 
is, tlie last of her is poignancy of remorse, 
anguish of heart, and death. In these she 
involves her victims. 
Ver, 5. — Vers. 5 and 6 continue the de- 

scription of the harlot. Her feet go down 
to death ; her steps take hold pn hell. She 
leads her victims to ruin. She hastens to 
death and the gr.ive, and so do all those who 
listen to her. In all instances where the 
teacher speaks of the harlot at length he 
gives the same description of her (cf. oh. ii. 
18 ; vii. 27 ; ix. 18). An intensifying of the 
language is observable in the second hemi- 
stich. The descending progress to death 
becomes the laying hold of the grave, the 
underworld, as if nothing could turn her 
steps aside. And it is not only death, as 
the cessation of life, but death as a punish- 
ment, that is implied, just as the grave has 
in it the idea of corruption. (On " hell," 
sh'ol, see ch. i. 12.) 

Ver. 6. — Lest thou shouldest ponder the 
path of life, her ways are movable, that 
thou canst not know them. This verse should 
be rather rendered, she walks not in the path 
of life, her ways fluctuate, she knows not. It 
consists of a series of independent proposi- 
tions or statements, all of which are descrip- 
tive of the singularly fatuous conduct of 
" the strange woman." lu the previous 
verse the teacher has said that her conduct 
leads to ruin; he here further emphasizes 
the idea by putting forward the same trutli 
from the opposite, or, as we may say, from 
the negative point of view, and so completes 
the picture. "The words," as Plumptre 
remarks, " describe with terrible vividness 
the state of heart and soul which prostitution 
brings on its victims." Her course is one of 
persistent, wilful, headstrong, blind folly and 
wickedness. Lest; pin; here "not," equiva- 
lent to Ah (Id). So the LXX., Vulgate, Tar- 
gum, Syriac. The use of pin in this sense 
is, however, unique (Gesenius). Delitzsch 
and Zookler, following Luther, Geier, 
Holden, etc., assign to it an emphatic 
negative force, as, " She is far removed from 
entering," or, " she never treadeth." Others 
take pin as a dependent prohibitive particle, 
equivalent to tlie Latin ne forte, " lest," as 
in the Authorized Version, and employed to 
connect the sentence which it introduces 
either with the preceding verse (as Schul- 
tens) or with the second hemistich, on whicli 
it is made dependent (Holden, Wordsworth, 
Aben Ezra, Zoo., Micliaplis, etc.). Thou 
shouldest ponder; t'phalUs, connected by 
makkeph with pSn, as usual (Lee), is either 
second person masculine or third person 
feminine. The latter is required here, the 
subject of the sentence being "the strange 
woman," as appears ckarly from the second 
hemistich, " ^er ways," etc. The verb pdtds 
(cf. ch. xiv. 26) here means "to prepare," 
i.e. to walk in, or to travel over. Thus 
Gesenius renders, "She (the adulteress) 
prepareth not (for herself) the way of life; " 
i.e. she does not walk in the way of life ; 

OH. V. 1—23.] 



of. the LXX. etffdpx^rai, Vulgate ambulant 
(so. gressus ejus), and other ancient versions, 
all of which understand the verb in this 
sense. The meaning of the phrase, pin 
fphallee, is, therefore, "she walks not" in 
the way of life — the way that has life for 
its object, and which in itself is full of life 
and safety. Far from doing this, the teacher 
goes on to say, her ways are movable; 
literally, go to and fro, or fluctuate; i.e. tljey 
wilfully stagger hither and thither, like the 
steps of a drunkard, or like the uncertain 
steps of the blind, for the verb nua is so 
used in the former sense in Isa. zxiv. 20 ; 
xxix, 9 ; Ps. cvii. 27 ; and in the latter in 
Lam. iv. 14. Her steps are slippfiry (LXX., 
<r<paK4pai), or wander (Vulgate, vagi) ; they 
are without any definite aim ; she is always 
straying in the vagrancy of sin (Words- 
worth) ; cf. ch. vii. 12. Tftot tfiou canst not 
know them (16 thMd); literally, she knows 
nut. The elliptical form of this sentence in 
the original leaves it open to various inter- 
pretations. It seems to refer to the way of 
life ; she knows not the way of life, i.e. she 
does not regard or perceive the way of life. 
The verb yada often has this meaning. The 
meaning may be obtained by supplying mah, 
equivalent to quicquam, "anything," as in 
ch. ix. 13, "She knows not anything," 
i.e. slie knows nothing. The objection to 
this is that it travels unnecessarily out of 
the sentence to find the object which ought 
rather to be supplied from the context. The 
object may possibly be the staggering of her 
feet : she staggers hither and thither with- 
out her perceiving it (Delitzsoh); or it may, 
lastly, be indefinite : she knows not whither 
her steps conduct her (Wordsworth and 

Vers. 7 — 14. — The ruinous consequences 
of indulgence in illicit pleasures. 

Ver. 7.— The subject of which the teacher 
is treating demands the utmost attention of 
youth. Enough, it might be supposed, had 
been said to deter from intercourse with the 
" strange woman." She has been portrayed 
in her real colours, plunging recklessly into 
ruin herself, and carrying her victims with 
her; deceitful, full of intrigues, neither 
walking in nor knowing the way of life. But 
the warning is amjjlified and made more 
impressive. There is another side of the 
picture, the complete bodily and temporal 
ruin of her victim. The argumentvm ad 
hmninem is applied. There is an appeal to 
personal interest in the details which follow, 
which ought not to fail in holding youth 
oaok. The form of the address which is 
repeated is very similar to that in ch. vii. 24. 
The plural form, "O ye children" (of. ch. 
It. 1 and vii. 24), unmediately passes into 
the nngnlar for the reason mentioned before. 

that, though the address is made to all, yet 
each individually is to apply it to himself. 

Ver. 8. — Bemove thy way far from her. 
In other words, this is the same as St. Paul 
counsels, " Flee fornication " (1 Cor. vi. 14). 
From her (medliydh ; deswper ea). The term 
conveys the impression that the youth has 
come within the compass of her temptations, 
or that in the highest degree he is liable to 
them. The Hebrew meal, compounded of 
min and al, and meaning " from upon," being 
used of persons or things which go away 
from the place in or v/pon which they had 
been. And come not nigh the door of her 
hoase; i.e. shun the very place where she 
dwells. "Be so far from coming into her 
chamber as not to come near the door of her 
house" (Patrick). She and her house are 
to be avoided as if they were infected with 
some mortal disease. The old proverb quoted 
by Muffet is applicable — 

" He that would no evil do 
Must do nothing that 'longeth [fe. be- 
longeth] thereto." 

Ver. 9. — The reasons why the harlot is 
to be avoided follow in rapid succession. 
Lest thou give thine honour unto others, 
and thy years unto the cruel. The word 
rendered "honour" (Hebrew, h6d) is not so 
much reputation, as the English implies, as 
" the grace and freshness of youth." It is 
so used in Hos. xiv. 6; Dan. x. 8. The 
Vulgate renders "honour," and the LXX., 
ft^T), " life." Hdd is derived from the Arabic 
word signifying " to lift one's self up," and 
then " to be eminent, beautiful." Thy 
years; i.e. the best and most vigorous, and 
hence the most useful and valuable, years 
of life. XJnto the cruel (Hebrew, I'ak'zdri) ; 
literally, to the cruel one ; but the adjective 
Skzdrt is only found in the singular, and 
may be here used in a collective sense as 
designating the entourage of the harlot, her 
associates who prey pitilessly on the youth 
whom they bring within the range of her 
fascinations. So Delitzsoh. It seems to be 
so "understood by the LXX., which reads 
dveheiifioffiv, immitentibus ; but not so by 
the Vulgate, which adheres to the singular, 
cTudeli. If we adhere to the gender of the 
adjective Skzdrt, which is masculine, and to 
its number, it may designate the husband 
of the adulteress, who will deal mercilessly 
towards the paramour of his wife. So Zock- 
ler. Again, it may refer, notwithstanding 
the gender, to the harlot herself (so Vatablui 
and Holden), who is cruel, who has no love 
for the youth, and would see him perish 
without pity. The explanation of Stuart 
and others, including Ewald, that the " cruel 
one " is the purchaser of the punished adul- 
terer, is without foundation or warmnt, 
since there is no historical instance on record 



[oh. v. 1— 23b 

where the adulterei waB reduced to slaveiy, 
and the punishment inflicted by the Mosaic 
code was not slavery, but death (Numb. xx. 
10 ; Deut. xxii. 22), and, as it appears from 
Ezek. xvi. 40 and John viii. 5, death from 
stoning. The adjective akzart, like its 
equivalent ahzdr, is derived from the verb 
kdzdr, " to break," and occurs again in eh. 
xi. 17; xii. 10; xvli. 11. The moral of the 
■warning is a wasted life. 

Ver. 10. — Another temporal consequence 
of, and deteirent against, a life of profligacy, 
lest strangers be filled with thy wealth; 
and thy labours be in the house of a stranger. 
The margin reads, " thy strength " for " thy 
wealth," but the text properly renders the 
original kSdkh, which means "substance," 
" wealth," " riches " — the youth's possessions 
in money and property (Delitzsch). The 
primary meaning of the word is " strength " 
or " might," as appears from the verb kd- 
khdkh, " to exert one's self," from which it is 
derived, but the parallel atsdblykd, " thy 
toils," rendered "thy labours," determines 
itg use in the secondary .sense here. Com- 
pare the similar passage in Hos. vii. 9, 
" Strangers have devoured his strength 
[kdakh, i.e. ' his possessions'], and he knoweth 
it not " (see also Job vi. 22). Kddkh is the 
concrete product resulting from the abstract 
strength or ability when brought into action. 
Thy lahours {dtmhiykd') ; i.e. thy toils, the 
product of laborious toil, that which you 
have gotten by the labour of your hand*, 
and earned with the sweat of your brow. 
Fleischer compares the Italian i miri 
eudori, and the French mee sueurs. Ttie 
singular itegv signifies " heavy toilsome 
labour," and the plural SIsdvim, " labours," 
things done with toil, and so the idea passes 
to the resultant of the labour. Compare the 
very similar expression in Ps. oxxvii. 2, li- 
khlm ndatsdvtm, equivalent to " bread obtained 
by toilsome labour;" Authorized Version, 
"the bread of sorrows." The Authorized 
Version properly supplies the verb " be " 
against those (e.g. Holden et alii) who join 
on " thy labours " to the previous verb " be 
filled," as an accusative, and render, "and 
with thy labuurs in tlie house of a stranger." 
So also the l.XX. and the Vulgate, " and thy 
labours come" (cAflwo-i, LXX.) or "be" 
(sint, Vulgate) " to the house of strangers " 
(ei J oifKous dKKoTpluy} or, " in a strange house " 
(in aliena domo). In the latter case the 
Vulgate is wrong, as ndk'rt in the phrase 
heyth ndlc'ri is always personal (Delitzsoli), 
and should be rendered, as in the Autliorized 
Version, " in the house of a stranger." The 
meaning of tlie verse is that a life of im- 
purity transfers the profligate's substance, 
ills wealth and possessions, to others, who 
will be satiated at his expense, and, being 
strangers, are indifferent to hia ruin. 

Ter. 11. — ^The last argument is the mental 
anguish which ensues when health ia ruined 
and wealth is squandered. And thou 
mourn at the last, when thy flesh and thy 
body are consumed. The Hebrew tfndhSmid 
is rather " and thou groan." It is not the 
plaintive wailing or the subdued grief of 
heart whicli is signified, but the loud wail 
of lamentation, the groaning indicative of 
intense mental suffering called forth by the 
remembrance of past folly, and which sees 
no remedy in the future. The verb ndham 
occurs again in eh. xxviii IS, where it is 
used of the roaring of the lion, and the 
cognate noun naham is met with in ch. xix. 
12 and xx. 2 in the same sense. By Ezekiel 
it is used of the groaning of the people of 
Jerusalem when they shall see their sanctu- 
ary profaned, their sons and their daughters 
fall by the sword, and their city destroved 
(;Bzek. xxiv. 23). Isaiah (v. 29, 30) applies 
it to the roaring of the sea. The Vulgate 
reproduces the idea in gemas, equivalent to 
"and thou groan." The LXX. rendering, 
KaX neTane\Tie^(ry, " ani thou shalt repent," 
arising from the adoption of a different 
pointing, nlkhamta, from the niph. nikham, 
" to repent," for ndhamtd, to some extent ex- 
presses the sense. At the la»t ; literally, at 
thine end; i.e. when thou art ruined, or, as 
the teacher explains, when thy flesh and thy 
body are consumed. The expression, "thy 
flesh and thy body," here stands for the whole 
body, the body in its totality, not the body 
and the soul, which would be different. Of 
these two words " the flesh " (5asor) rather 
denotes the flesh in its strict sense as such 
(of. Job xxxi. 31 ; xxxiii. 21), while " body " 
(sh'lr) is the flesh adhering to the bones. 
Gesenlus regards them as synonymous terms, 
staling, however, that sh'ir is the more 
poetical as to use. The word hdsdr is used 
to denote the whole body in oh. xiv. 30. It 
is clear that, by the use of these two terms 
here, the teacher is following a peculiarity 
observable elsewhere in the Proverbs, of 
combining two terms to express, and so to 
give force to, one idea. The expression de- 
scribes " the utter destruction of the libertine " 
(Umbreit). This destruction, as further in- 
volving the ruin of the soul, is described in 
ch. vi. 32, "Whoso committeth adultery with 
a woman lacketh understanding; he that 
doeth it destroyeth his own soul (nephegh) " 
(cf. ch. vii. 22, 23). 

Ver. 12. — Self-reproach accompanies the 
unavailable groaning. And say, How have 
I hated instruction, and my heart despised 
reproof! i.e. how could it ever come to 
pass that I have acted in such a senscle a 
and inexcusable manner, that I have hated 
instruction (musar, diecipUna, iratSeia), the 
warning voice which dissuaded me from 
going with the harlot, and in my heart 

OH. T. 1—23.] 



despised, t.e. rejected inwardly, whatever my 
outward demeanour may have been, the re- 
proof which followed after I had been with 
her 1 Despised (naats), as in ch. i. 30 ; comp. 
also ch. XV. 5, " A fool despiseth his father's 

Ver 13. — And have not obeyed the voice 
of my teachers, nor inclined mine ear to them 
that instructed me. The ruined profligate 
admits he was not without teachers and 
advisers, but that he gave no heed to their 
warnings and ruproofs. Eave not obeyed the 
voice {M-shdmd'ti b'kdV). The same phrase 
occurs in Gen. xxvii. 13; Exod. xviii. 19; 
Deut. xxvi. 14; 2 Sam. xii. 18. The verb 
shdmd is primarily " to hear," and then " to 
obey," ''to give heed to," like the Greek 

Ver. 14. — I was almost in all evil in the 
midst of the congregation and assembly; 
i.e. such was my shamelessness that there 
was scarcely any wickedness which 1 did not 
commit, unrestrained even by the presence 
of the congregation and assembly. The fact 
which the ruined youtli laments is the 
extent and audacity of liis sins. It is not 
that he accuses himself of hypocrisy in 
nligion (Delitzsch), but he adds another 
element in liis career of vice. He has dis- 
regarded the warnings and reproofs of his 
teachers and friends ; but more, the presence 
of the congi-egation of God's people, a silent 
but not a less impressive protest, had no 
restraining effect upon him. The words, 
"the congregation and assembly" (Hebrew, 
hdhdl v'eddh), seem to be used to heigliteu 
the conception, rather than to express two 
distinct and separate ideas, since we find 
them loth used interchangeably to designate 
the congregation of the Israelites. The 
radical conception of fcaAaZ ("congregation") 
is the same as that of the LXX. iKK\^(na 
and Vulgate eeclesia, viz. the congregation 
looked upon from the point of its being 
called together, Jsdhal being derived from 
kd/idl, which in hiph. is equivalent to "to 
call together," while that of eddh is the con- 
gregation looked at from the point of its 
having assembled iddh being derived from 
yddd, in niph. equivalent to "to come to- 
gether." The Intter will therefore stand for 
any assembly of people specially convened 
or coming together for some definite object, 
like the LXX. (rvvaydyv and the Vulgate 
tynagoga. The term iddh is, however, used 
in a technical sense as signifying the seventy 
elders, or senators, who judged the people 
(see Numb. xxv. 7 ; xxxv. 12). Eabbi Salo- 
mon so explains hdeddh as " the congrega- 
tion," in Josh. XX. 6 and Numb, xxvii. 21. 
Other explanations, however, have been given 
of these words. Zockler takes hdhdl as the 
convendd council of ciders acting as judges 
(Uant. zxziii. 4, 5), and idah as the con- 

course (coetus) of the people executing the 
condemning sentence (Numb. xv. 15; cf. 
Ps. vii. 7), and renders, " Well nigh had 1 
fallen into utter destruction in the midst of the 
assembly and the congregation." Fleischer, 
Vatablus, and Bayne take much the same 
view, looking upon ro ("evil," Authorized 
Version) as "punishment," i.e. the evil 
which follows as a consequence of sin — a 
usage supported by 2 Sam. xvi. 18 ; Exod. 
v. 19; 1 Chrou. vii. 23; Ps. x. 6— rather 
than as evil per se, i.e. that which is morally 
bad, as in Exod. xxxii. 22. Aben Ezra con- 
siders that the perfect is used for the future ; 
"In a little time I shall be involved in all 
evil ; " i.e. punishment, which is looked for- 
ward to prospectively. For " almost " (kl- 
wiai, equivalent to " within a little," " almost," 
"nearly"), see Gen. xxvi. 10; Ps. Izxiii. 2; 
oxix. 87. 

Vers. 15—19. — Commendation oftne chaste 
intercourse of marriage. In this section the 
teacher passes from admonitory warnings 
against unchastity to the commendation of 
conjugal fidelity and pure love. The alle- 
gorical exposition of this passage, current at 
the period of the Revision of the Authorized 
Version in 1612, as referring to liberality, is 
not ad rem. Such an idea had no place 
certainly in the teacher's mind, nor is it 
appropriate to the context, the scope of 
which is, as we have seen, to warn youth 
against indulgence in illicit pleasures, by 
pointing out the terrible consequences which 
follow, and to indicate, on the other hand, 
in what direction the satisfaction of natural 
wants is to be obtained, that so, the heart 
and conscience being kept pure, sin and 
evil may be avoided, 

Ver. 15. — Drink waters ont of thine 
own cistern, etc. ; i.e. in the wife of your 
own choice, or in the legitimate sphere of 
marriage, seek the satisfaction of your 
natural impulses. The pure, innocent, and 
chaste nature of such pleasures is appro- 
priately compared with the pure and whole- 
some waters of the cistern and the well- 
spring. The " drinking" carries with it the 
satisfying of a natural want. Agreeably 
with oriental and scriptural usage, "the 
wife" is compared with a "cistern" and 
" well." Thus in the Song of Solomon the 
"bride" is called "a spring shut up, a 
fountain sealed" (Song of Sol. iv. 12). 
Sarah is spoken of under exactly the same 
figure that is used here, viz. the bdr, or 
"cistern," in Isa. li. 1. The figure was not 
confined to women, however, as we find 
Judah alluded to as " waters" in Ib«. xlviii. Ij 



[OH. V. 1—28. 

and Jacob or Israel bo appearing in the pro- 
phecy of Balaam (Numb. xxiv. 7). The 
people are spoken of by David as they that 
are "of the fountain of Israel" (Ps. Ixviii. 
26). A similar imagery is employed in the 
New Testament of the wife. The apostles 
St. Paul and St. Peter both speak of her as 
"the vessel (t^ triceSos)" (see 1 Thess. iv. 4 
and 1 Pet. iii. 7). The forms of the original, 
b'or and b'er, standing respectively for " cis- 
tern " and " well," indicate a common deri- 
vation from hddr, " to dig." But bSr is an 
artificially constructed reservoir or cistern, 
equivalent to the Vulgate eisterna, and 
LXX. &77eio J, while Vir is the natural spring 
of water, equivalent to the Vulgate putens. 
So Aben Ezra, who says, on Lev. ii. 36, 
" BSr is that which catches the rain, while 
b'er is that from within which the water 
wells up." This explanation, however, does 
not entirely cover the terms as used here. 
The " waters " (Hebrew, mayim) may be the 
pure water conveyed into the cistern, and 
not simply the water which is caught in its 
descent from heaven. The parallel term, 
"running waters" (Hebrew, rwz'lim), de- 
scribes the flowing limpid stream fit, like the 
other, for drinkingpurposes. A similar use 
of the terms is made in the Song of Sol. iv. 
15, "a well of living waters (b'er mayim 
khayyim) and streams (v'noz'Um) from Leba- 
non." It may be remarked thatthe allusion 
to the wife, under the figures employed, en- 
hances her value. It indicates the high 
estimation in which she is to be held, since 
the "cistern" or "well" was one of the 
most valuable possessions and adjuncts of 
an Eastern house. The teaching of the 
passage, in its bearing on the subject of 
marriage, coincides with that which is 
subsequently put forward by St. Paul, in 
1 Cor. vii. 9. 

Ver. 16. — Let thy fountains be dispersed 
abroad, and rivers of waters in the streets. 
The figurative language is still continued, 
and under the terms " foim tains " and " rivers 
of waters," are to be understood children, 
the legitimate issue of lawful marriage. So 
Aben Ezra and the majority of modern 
commentators, Schultens,I)oderlein,Holdeii, 
Muenscher, Noyes, Wardlaw, etc. The 
meaning appears to be, " Let thy marriage 
be blessed with many children, who may go 
forth abroad for the public good." Other 
interpretations have been adopted. Thus : 
(1) Delitzsch takes the words " fountains " 
and " rivers of waters" as us&l fiijiiratively 
for the procreative power, and renders, 
"Shall thy strpams flow ubmaU, and water- 
brooks in thi streets?" and interjirets, "L( t 
generative pi wrr act freely and unrestrain- 
edly within the marriage relation." (2) 
Schultens and Dath,}, followed by Holden, 
regard the verse as expressing a conclusion 

on the preceding, " Then shall thy springs 
be dispersed abroad, even rivers of waters 
in the streets." The objection to this is that 
it necessitates the insertion of the copulative 
vau (1 ) before the verb, yaphutzu, " be dis- 
(3) Zockler and Hitzig read the 

verse interrogatively, " Shall thy streams 
flow abroad as water-brooks in the streets?" 
on the analogy of ch. vi. 30 and Ps. Ivi. 7. 
(4) The reading of the LXX., adopted by 
Origen, Clemens Alexandrinus, places a 
negative before the verb, Uij {nrepeKx^itrBai, 
i.e. ''Let not thy waters flow beyond thy 
fountain ; " i.e. " confine thyself to thy wife." 
Fountains. The Hebrew ma'ydnim, plural 
of mdydn, derived from dyln (" a fountain ") 
with the formative men, is rather a stream 
or rill — water flowing; on the surface of the 
ground. It is used, however, of a fountain 
itself in Gen. vii. 11 ; viii. 2. Rivers of 
waters (Hebrew, pal'gey-maylm); rather, 
watercourses, or water- brooks (cf. Job xxxviii. 
25). The pgUg represents the various streams 
into which the muydn, " fountain," divides 
itself at its source or in its course. We 
find the same expression, paVgey-may'im, 
used of tears in Ps. cxix, 136 ; Lam. iii. 48. 
It occurs again in our book in ch. xxi. 1, 
" Tlie king's heart is in the hand of the 
Lord as tlie rivers of waters {pal'cjey mayim)." 
On "abroad" (Hebrew, Tthutz), and "in the 
streets " (r'khSvoth'), see ch. i. 20. 

Ver. 17. — Let them be only thine own, 
and not strangers' with thee. By confining 
yourself to chaste intercourse with your 
lawful wife, be assured that your offspring 
is your own. Promiscuous and unlawful 
•intercourse throws doubt upon the paternity 
of children. Thy children may be thine, 
they may belong to another. The natural 
pride which is felt in a legitimate oflfspring 
is the motive put forward to commend the 
husband to confine himself exclusively to 
bis wife. Grotius on this verse remarks, 
"Ibi sere ubi prolem metas" — "Sow there 
where you may reap an offspring." Tlwm ; 
i.e. the children referred to figuratively in 
the preceding verse, from which the subject 
of this verse is supplied. The repetition of 
the pronoun which occurs in the original, 
" let them belong to thee, to thee," is em- 
phatic, and exclusive of others. The latter 
clause of the verse, " and not strangers' with 
thee," covers the whole ground. The idea 
of their being strangers' is repulsive, and so 
gives further point to the exhortation. 

Ver. 18.— Let thy fountain be blessed: 
and rejoice with the wife of thy youth. 
The employment of the ordinary term 
" wife " in the second hemistich shows in 
what sense the figure which is used has to 
be understood. The terms "fountain" and 
"wife" denote the same person. The wifa 
is here called "thy fountain" (Hebrew, 

OH. T. 1 — ^23.J 



m'hor'ka), just aa she has been 'previously 
" thine own cistern" (b'or) and "thine own 
well" (6'er) in ver. 15. The Hebrew 
rndMr, " fountain," is derived from the root 
kur, " to dig." The figure seems to deter- 
mine that the blessing here spoken of con- 
sists in the wife being a fruitful mother cf 
children ; and hence tlie phrase means, " Let 
thy wife be blessed," t.e. rendered happy in 
being the mother of thy children. This is 
quite consistent with the Hebrew mode of 
thought Every Israelitish wife regarded her- 
self, and was regarded by others as "blessed," 
if she bore children, and unhappy if the 
reverse were the case. Blentd; Hebrew, 
har&k (Vulgate, henedictd), is the kal par- 
ticiple passive of larah, " to bless." Instead 
of tliis, the LXX. reads ifSio, " Let thy foun- 
tain be thine own " — a variation which in no 
sense conveys the meaning of the original. 
And r^oiee with ; rather, rejoice in, the wife 
being regarded as the sphere within which 
the husband is to find his pleasure and joy. 
Umbreit explains, " Let thy wife be extolled." 
The same construction of the imperative 
e'mSih, from tdmahh, " to be glad, or joyful," 
with min, occurs in Judg. ix. 19 ; Zeph. iii. 
14, etc. The Authorized rendering is, how- 
ever, favoured by the Vulgate, Isetare cwm, 
and the LXX., <rwev(ppalyu fierX- Compare 
the exhortation in Ecolea. ix. 9, " Live joy- 
fully with the wife whom thou lovest." 
The wife of thy youth (Hebrew, Uhshdh 
n'urSyka) may mean either (I) tbe wife to 
whom thou hast given the fair bloom of thy 
youth (Umbreit) ; (2) the wife chosen in thy 
youth (Delitzach); or (3) thy youthful wife. 
The former seems tbe more probable mean- 
ing. C!ompare the expression, "companion 
of thy youth," in ch. ii. 17. 

Ver. 19. — Let her be as the loving hind 
and pleasant roe. The words in italics do 
not occur in the original. Tlie expression, 
"the loving hind and pleasant roe," is, 
therefore, to be attached to the preceding 
verse, as carrying on the sense and as de- 
scriptive of the grace and fascinating charms 
of the young wife. As combining these 
attributes, she is to be the object of thy love 
and devotion, the one in whom thine affections 
are to find the fulfilment of their desires. 
Love and grace are her possessions. The 
loving hind (Hebrew, dyyiUth Shdvtmj; lite- 
rally, the hind of loves, which may be 
understood, as in the Authorized Version, as 
pointing to the fondness of this animal for 
its young, or as descriptive of its beauty 
and the extreme gracefulness of its form. 
In this sense the phrase may be rendered, 
"the lovely hind." The ayydeth, or dyydldh, 
feminine of dyydl, "stag," or " hart," was in 
all probability the gazelle. Pleasant roe 
(Hebrew, ydaldth khen); literally, the ibex 
of grace. The particular expression only 


occurs here in the Bible. The yaSldlh is tha 
feminine of yddl, "the ibex" or "moun- 
tain goat" according to Bochart, or the 
" chamois" according to Gesenius. It does 
not appear that it is so much " the pleasant- 
ness " or amiability of this animal which if 
here alluded to as its gracefulness of form. 
As terms of endearment, the words entered 
largely into the erotic poetry of the East. 
Thus in the Song of Sol. iv. 5 tbe bride 
likens her beloved to " a roe or young hart " 
(cf. also Song of Sol. iv. 17 and viii. 14), 
while' numerous examples might be quoted 
from the Arabian and Persian poets. They 
were also employed sometimes as names for 
women. Compare tlie superscription of Ps. 
xxii., AyyeUth hash-ehakar, " Upon the hind 
of the dawn." Let her breasts satisfy thee 
at all times. The love of the wife is to 
refresh and fully satisfy the husband. The 
word dadeyah, "her breasts," only occur* 
here and in Ezek. xxiii. 3, 8, 21, and is 
equivalent to dodeyah, "her love." The 
marginal reading, " water thee," serves to 
bring out the literal meaning of the t/rav- 
vuka, derived from ravah, in kal, " to drink 
largely," " to be satisfied with drink," but 
misses the emphatic force of the piel, " to be 
fully satisfied or satiated." This is ex- 
pressed very forcibly in the Vulgate render- 
ing, " Let her breasts inebriate thee (inebrient 
fa)," which represents the strong influence 
which the attructions of the wife are to 
maintain. The LXX., on the other hand, 
avoiding the rather sensual colouring of the 
language, substitutes, " May she thine own 
lead thee, and be with thee always." And 
be thou ravished always with her love ; t.e. 
let it intoxicate thee. The teacher, by a 
bold figure, describes the entire fascination 
which tlie husband is to allow the wife to 
exercise over him. The verb shdgdh is " to 
reel under the influence of wine," and is so 
used in the succeeding vers. 20 and 23, and 
ch. XX. 1 and Isa. xxviii. 7. The primary 
meaning, "to err from the way," scarcely 
applies here, and does not express tlie idea 
of the teacher, which is to desoribe " an 
intensity of love connected with the feeling 
of superabundant happiness" (Delitzsch). 
The Vulgate, In amore ejus delectare jugiter, 
" In her love delight thyself continually," 
and the LXX., "For in her love thou shalt 
he daily engaged," are mere paraphrases. 

Vers. 20, 21. — The adulterer to be retrained 
by the fact of God'i omnisdenoe and the 
Divine punishment. Vers. 20 and 21 should 
apparently be taken together. The teaching 
assumes a higher tone, and rises from the 
lower law which regulates fidelity to the 
wife, based upon personal attractions, to 
the higher law, which brings the husband's 




[oh. T.l— 28, 

conduct into relation with the dnty he owes 
to Jehovah. Not merely is his conduct to 
be regulated by love and affection alone, but 
it is to be fashioned by the reflection or 
consciousness that the Supreme Being pre- 
sides over all, and takes cognizance of 
human action. Without losing eight that 
the marriage contract has its own peculiar 
obligations, the fact is insisted upon that 
all a man's ways are open to the eyes oi the 

Ver. 20. — And why ; <.«. what inducement 
is there, what reason can be givem, for con- 
jugal infidelity, except the lewd and immoral 
promptings of the lower nature, except sen- 
Buality in its lowest form ? Bavished. The 
verb shdgch recurs, but in a lower sense, as 
indicating " the foo'ish delirium of the liber- 
tine hastening after the harlot " (Zockler). 
With a strange woman (Hebrew, b'zarah) ; 
i.e. with a harlot. On zdrdh, see ch. ii. 16 
and vii. 5. The V (3) localizes the sources of 
the intoxication. £mbraoe (Hebrew, fkhab- 
bek). On this verb, see eh, iv. 8. The bosom 
of a stranger (Hebrew, kheh nBk'riyydh). 
A parallel expression having the same force 
as its counterpart. The more usual form of 
Tcliek is hlieyk, and means " the bosom " of a 
person. In ch. xvi. 33 it is used of the lap, 
and in ch. xvii. 23 and xxi. 14 for the 
ioiom or folds of a garment. 

'Ver.21. — For the ways of man are before 
the eyes of the Lord, The obvious meaning 
here is that as " the eyes of the Lord are in 
every place, beholding the evil and the good " 
(ch, XV. 3), there is no possibility of any 
act of immorality escaping God's notice. 
The consciousness of this fact is to be the 
restraining motive, inasmuch as he who sees 
will also punish every transgression. The 
great truth acknowledged here is the omni- 
science of God, a truth which is borne wit- 
ness to in almost identical language in Job : 
" For his eyes are upon the ways of man, 
and he seeth all his goings" (Job xxxiv. 
21 ; cf. xxiv. 23 and xxxi. 4). So Hanani 
the seer says to Asa King of Juduh, 
"For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro 
throughout the whole earth " (2 Chron. xvi. 
9) ; and Jehovah says, in Jeremiah, " For 
mine eyes are upon all their ways, they are 
not hid from my face, neither is their ini- 
quity hid from mine eyes " (Jer. xvi. 17 ; 
cf. xxxii. 29); and again, in Hosea, "They 
aie before my face" (Hos. vii. 2), and the 
same truth is re-echoed in the Epistle to 
the Hebrews, in all probability gathered 
from our passage, " All things are naked and 
opened unto the eyes of him with whom we 
have to do " (Heb. iv. 13). The ways of man ; 
i-Q. the conduct of any individual man or 

woman; Uh, " man," being used generically. 
Are before the eyet of the Lord ; le. are an 
object on which Jehovah fixes his gaze 
and scrutiny. And he pondereth all his 
goings. The word "he pondereth " is in the 
original m'ji^Z^s, the piel participle of j)biUi^(, 
piel of the unused kal, pdlds, and appears 
to be properly rendered in the Authorized 
Version. This verb, however, has various 
meanings : (1) to make level, or prepare, as 
in ch. iv. 26 and v. 6 ; (2) to weigh, or con- 
sider accurately, in which sense it is used 
here. So Gesenius, Lee, Buxtorf, and David- 
son. Jehovah not only sees, but weighs all 
that a man does, wheresoever he be, and will 
apportion re wards and punishments according 
to a man's actions (Patrick). The German 
commentators, Delitzsch and Zockler, how- 
ever, look npon the word as indicating the 
overruling providence of God, just as the 
former part of the verse refers to his omni- 
science, and render, "he marketh out," in 
the sense that the Lord makes it possible 
for a man to walk in the way of uprightness 
and purity. There is nothing inherently 
objectionable in this view, since experience 
shows that the world is regulated by the 
Divine government, but it loses sight to some 
extent of the truth npon which the teacher 
appears to be insisting, which is that evil 
actions are visited with Divine retribution. 

Vers. 22, 23.— The fearful end of the adul- 
terer. From the universal statement of 
God's omniscience and the Divine judgment, 
the teacher passes to the fate of the profli- 
gate. His end is inevitable ruin and misery. 
The deep moral lesson conveyed is that sin 
carries with it its own Nemesis. Adultery 
and impurity, like all sin of which they are 
forms, are retributive. The career of the 
adulterer is a career begun, continued, and 
ended in folly (oomp. ch. i. 31, 32 ; ii. 5 ; 
xviii. 7 ; xxLs. 6 ; and Ps. Ix. 15). 

Ver. 22.— His own iniqoities shall tak* 
the wicked himself; i.e. his manifold sius 
shall overtake and arrest him. The imagery 
is borrowed from the snare of the fowler. 
The emphetio form of the original, "His 
sins shall overtake him, the impious man," 
point conclusively to the adulterer. It is 
"his" sins that shall overtake him, not 
those of another, and they shall fall upon 
his c wn head ; and further, his character is 
depicted in the condemning clause, " the 
impious man ; " for such he is. Shall taJce. 
The verb Idkud is Uteially *<to take oi 
catch animals in a snare or net," properly 
"to strike with a net." The wicked man 
becomes entangled and canght in hii own 
sins; he is struok down and captured hj 

OH. ▼. 1—23.] 



them, jnat as theprey is strnok by the snare 
of the fowler, llie verb is, of course, used 
metaphorically, as in Job t. 13. Tlie wielted 
(Hebrew, eik-hdrdsd); in the original intro- 
duced as explanatory of the object, " him." 
And he shaU be holden with the cords of 
his sins, The Authorized Version follows 
the LXX. and Vulgate in rendering "his 
sins," instead of the original "his sin" 
{hhdttdtho). It is not so much every sin of 
man which shall hold him, though this is 
true, as the particular sin Seated of in the 
address, viz. adultery, which shall do this. 
The expression, " tiie cords of his sin " 
(Hebrew, khavley khdttdtho), means the cords 
which his sin weaves around him. Nothing 
else will be requisite to bind and hold him 
fast for punishment (of. " cords of vanity," 
in Xsa. v. IS). 

Ver. 23. — He shall die without instmo- 
tion. The phrase, ** without instruction," 
is in the original b'eyu muiar, literally, " in 
there not being instruction." The obvious 
meaning is, because he gave no heed to in- 
struction. So Aben Ezra and Gersom. The 
Authorized Version is at least ambiguous, 
and seems to imply that the adulterer has 
been without instruction, without any to 
leprove or counsel him. But such is not 
the case. He has been admonished of the 
evil consequences of his sin, but to these 

warnings he has turned a deaf ear, and the 
teacher says therefore he shall die. The 
Vulgate supports this explanation, quia non 
habuit disciplinam "because he did not 
entertain or use instruction." In the LXX. 
the idea is enlarged, " He shall die together 
with those who have no instruction (jitri 
airaiStiraiy)." The h' (3) in b'eyn is causal, 
and equivalent to propter, as in Gen. xviiL 
28 ; Jer. xvii. 3. A similar statement is 
found in Job iv. 21, " They die even without 
wisdom," i.e. because they have disregarded 
the lessons of wisdom; and Job xxxvi. 12, 
" They shall die without knowledge." And 
in the greatness of his folly he shall go 
astray; better, as Delilzseb, "He shall 
stagger to ruin." The verb shdgdk is used 
as in vers. 19 and 20, but with a ileeper and 
more dread significance. A climax is rearhed 
in the manner in which the end of the adul- 
terer is portrayed. His end is without a 
gleam of hope or satisfaction. With an un- 
derstanding darkened and rendered callous 
by unrestrained indulgence in lust, and by 
folly which has reached its utmost limits 
and cannot, as it were, be surpassed, in that 
it has persistently and wilfully set aside 
and scorned wisdom and true happiness, 
the adulterer, like the drunkard, who is 
oblivious of the danger before him, shall 
stagger to ruin. 


Ver. 15. — Bbm» foy. L Tbb home is a Divine institdtioh of the mtsr 
iMFOBTANOE FOB THE WELFABE OF UANKiND. Here and throughout the Bible the 
sanctity of the home is insisted on as something to be guarded inviolably. It is 
evident that this beautiful institution is in harmony with our nature. _ To live 
according to nature is not to indulge ill-regulated passions, to follow chance impulses, 
to subordinate reason and conscience to instinct and appetite. It is to live so as to 
secure the harmonious working of our whole nature and of the general body of mankind. 
Thus regarded, family life is natural; it falls in best with the requirements of the race, 
it ministers best to its advancement. Polygamy is always degrading. As men rise in 
the moral scale they cast it off. The home is the foundation of the state. Where 
home life is most corrupt social and political institutions are in greatest danger. The 
homes of England are the surest guardians of her internal order and peace. May no 
corrupt casuistry ever dare to lay its foul finger on these holy shrines 1 The worst 
fruits of atheism and of the confessional are seen in specious pretexts for committing 
that horrible sacrilege. 

IL Ik obdeb to pbootot the home God has hade it to be a fouktain of 
FDBE AND wholesome jotb. They who break through the restraints of home life in 
the feverish thirst for illicit delights little know what joys they are losing. The 
poison-fruits of a pandemonium let a blight fall on the sweet, fresh beauty of what 
might have been a very garden of Eden. For the restraints which look to libertines 
so irksome are just the very conditions of the most lasting, most satisfying, most 
wholesome of human joys. The strong love of husband and wife, the parents' pleasure 
in their children, the mnumerable little interests of the home circle, and all that 
is typified by the "fireside," are delights unknown to men who profess to make the 
pursuit of pleasure their aim in life. 

116 THE PEOVEEBS. [oh. v. 1—23. 

"The first sure Bymptom of a mind in health 
Is rest of heai t and pleasure felt at home," 


OUABDED AND BEVEBENTLY OHEBisBGD. The BBrpcDt IS in the garden ; beware of its 
wiles. Temptations seek to break up the confidence and peace of the family circle. 
Not only must gross infidelity be shunned as a deadly sin, but all approaches to a 
breach of domestic sanctity must be dreaded. Levity, as well as immorality, may go 
far to spoil the waters of the purest fountain of delight. Mere indifference may wreck 
the home joys. These joys must be cherished. Courtship should not end with the 
wedding-day. Husbands and wives should beware of neglecting mutual respect and 
consideration under the influence of familiarity. Why should a man be more rude 
to his wife than to any other woman? Surely marriage is not designed to destroy 
courtesy. There should be an element of reverence in wedded love. Mutual sympathy 
—each taking interest in the occupations and cares of the other ; mutual confidence — 
the avoidance of secrets between husband and wife on the mistaken plea of sparing 
pain ; and mutual forbearance, are reqiusites for the preservation of the sweetness of the 
fountains of home joy. 

Ver. 21. — Under the eyes of God. I. We abe always undeb the watchful byes 
OF GrOD. God is no epicurean Divinity, retreating far above mundane affairs in celestial 
seclusion. He is not indifferent to what goes on in this little world. He is watchful 
and observant. This fact may not affect us much while we think of it in the general. 
But we should observe that Clod's watchfulness is directed to all particular, individual 
objects. He looks at each of us, at the smallest of our concerns. It is the property of 
an infinite mind thus to reach down to the infinitely small, as well as to rise to the 
infinitely great. Consider, then, that God searches us through and through. There is 
no dark cranny of the soul into which his keen penetrating light does not fall, no 
locked secret which does not open up freely to his magisterial warrant. We may hide 
the thought of God from our own minds, but we cannot hide ourselves from the sight 
of God. Now, what God notices chiefly in us is our conduct— our " ways," " goings." 
Mere profession counts for nothing with the All-seeing. Opinions, feelings, resolutions, 
are of secondary moment. God takes inquisition chiefly of what we do, whither our 
life is tending, what are the actions of the inner as well as of the outer man. But let 
us remember that God does all this in no mere prying curiosity, in no cruel desire to 
"find us out" and convict us of wrong. He does it of right, for he is our Judge; he 
does it with holy ends, for he is holy ; he does it in love, for he is our Father. 


ALL OUB CONDUCT. 1. It should make us triie. What is the use of paltry devices for 
the deception of men when the only question of consequence concerning the treatment 
of our conduct is — How will God regard it? What folly to wear a mask if he sees 
behind it 1 The gaze of God should shame and bum all lies out of the soul. 2. It 
should make us dread to do wrong. An Eastern legend tells how one stole a jewel 
called "the eye of God," but though he fled far with his treasure and hid in dark 
caverns, he was tortured by the piercing light that it threw out till, unable to endure 
the horror of it, he gave himself up to justice. We all have the eye of God on our 
ways. Let us beware that we never go where we should not wish him to see us. 3. It 
should lead to confession of sin. If God knows all, is it not best to make a clean breast 
of it, and humble ourselves before him? We cannot hide or cloke our sins from God. 
It is foolish to attempt to do so. But let us be thankful that we cannot. While we 
try to hide them they only scorch our own bosom. If we confess them, " he is faithful 
and just to forgive us our sins." 4. It should induce confidence in Ood. It is some- 
times a relief to know that the worst is out. God knows all. Yet he endures us, yet 
he loves us still. He who thus watches looks upon us as a mother regards her child, 
grieving for what is wrong, but tenderly seeking to save and protect us from all harm. 
Why should we fear the gaze of God? His sleepless eye is our great security (see 
2 Chron. xvi. 9). 5. It should incline us to faithful service. We should learn to be 
ashamed of the eye-service of men-pleasers, and seek to win the approval of our 
rightful Lord. He is no hard tyrant. When we try to please him, though ever so 
imperfectly, he t> pleased, and will say, " Well done, good and faithful servant." May 

OH. V. 1—23.] THE PEOVBRBS. 117 

it be our aim to live, as Milton resolved to do when consideriag his life on his twenty- 
third birthday— 

•As ever in my great Taskmaiter's eye." 

Ver. 22. — Oord» of sin. I. The sinner is in bondage. Such a condition Is not 
expected when a man freely gives the reins to his passions, and weakly yields himself 
to temptation. On the contrary, he supposes that he is enjoying a larger liberty than 
they possess who are constrained to walk in the narrow path of righteousness. Moreover, 
even when this shocking condition is reached, he is slow to admit its existence. He 
will not confess his bondage; perhaps he scarcely feels it. Thus the Jews were 
indignant in rejecting any such notion when our Lord offered deliverance from the 
slavery of sin (John viii. 33). But this only proves the bondage to be the greater. 
The worst degradation of slavery is that it so benumbs the feelings and crushes the 
manliness of its victims, that some of them do not notice the yoke that would gall the 
shoulders of all men who truly appreciated their condition. The reality of the bondage 
is soon proved, however, whenever a slave tries to escape. Then the chains of sin are 
felt to be too strong for the sinner to break. He cries, " wretched man that I am I 
who shall deliver me from the body of this death ? " (Rom. vii. 24). 

II. The ooeds that bind the sinnbb abe spun out of hib own sms. Satan 
" does not need to build any massive prison walls, or to call upon Vulcan to forge fetters 

for his captives. He has but to leave them to themselves, and their own misdeeds will 
shut them in, as the rank new growth of a tropical forest encloses the rotting trunks of 
the older trees, from the seed of which it sprang. 1. This results from the /orce of 
habit. All conduct tends to become permanent. The way wears into ruts. Men 
become entangled in their own past. 2. This is confirmed by wUful disregard of 
saving influences. If the sinner repented and called for deliverance, he might be saved 
from the fearful bondage of his sins. But proudly choosing to continue on his own 
course, he has consented to the tightening of the cords that bind him. 

III. CHBisr alone can liberate from the bondage of sin. Left to itself, the 
slavery will be fatal. The sinner will never be free to live to any good purpose. He 
will not be able to escape in the day of doom; his own sins will tie him to his fate. 
In the end they will strangle him. Inasmuch as the cords are spun out of his own 
conduct, they are part of hSnself, and he cannot untie their knots or cut their strands. 
They are stronger than the cords with which Delilah bound Samson, while the helpless, 
guilty sinner is weaker than the shorn Nazarite. But it is to men in this forlorn 
condition that the gospel of Christ is proclaimed, with its glorious promise of liberty^ to 
the captives (Isa. Ixi. 1). Christ brings liberating truth (John viii. 32), redeeming 
grace, and the saving power of a mighty love, — those attractive "cords of » man" 
(Hos. xi. 4) which are even stronger than the binding cords of sin. 


Vers. 1 14. — Meretricious pleasures and their results. I. GinebaIi AOMONrnoN. 

(Yei-B. i 3.) Similar prefaces to warnings against unchastity are found in ch. vi. 20, etc. ; 

vii. 1,* etc. The same forms of iteration for the sake of urgency are observed. A fresh 
expression is, " That thy lips may keep insight." That is, let the lessons of wisdom be 
oft conned over ; to keep them on the lips is to " get them by heart." " Consideration " 
(ver. 2), circumspection, forethought, are peculiarly needed in facing a temptation 
which wears a fascinating form, and which must be viewed in renUts, if its pernicious 
quality is to be understood. , .. ,ov ti v 

II The faboination of the harlot. (Ver. 3 ; comp. oh. ii. lb.) Her lips are 
honeyed with compliments and flattery (comp. Cant. iv. 11). Her voice is smoother than 
oiL A temptation has no power unless it is directed to some weakness in the subject 
of it as the spark goes out in the absence of tinder. The harlot's power to seduce lies 
mainly in that weakest of weaknesses, vanity— at least, in many cases. It is a power 
in general over the senses and the imaginati pn. And it is the part of the teacher to 
disabuse these of their illusions. In the word " meretricious " (from the Latm word for 

11« THE PBOVEEBS. tcH.T.l— 2«. 

" hu\oi "), applied to spurious art, we have a witness in language to the hollowness of 
bei attractions. 

III, Thk BEBDiiTB or vioioDB PLEASUBES. (Vers. 4 — 6.) They are described in 
images full of expression. 1. As bitter like wormwood, which has a bitter, salt taste, 
and is regarded in the East in the light of poison. Or " like Dead-Sea fruits, which 
tempt the taste, and tnrn to ashes on the lips." 2. As of acute pain, under the image 
of a sword, smooth on the surface, with a keen double edge to wound. 3. As fatal. 
The harlot beckons her guests as it were down the deathful way, to $he6l, to Hades, the 
kingdom of the dead. 4. They have no good result. Ver. 6, correctly rendered, says, 
" She measures not the path of life ; her tracks are roving, she knows not whither." 
The picture of a life which can give no account of itself, cannot justify itself to reason, 
and comes to a brutish end. 

IV. The bemotbb cWNSEQirENOEg of vice. (Vers. 7 — 13.) A gloomy vista opens, 
in prospect of which the warning is urgently renewed (vers. 7, 8). 1. The exposure of 
the detected adulterer. (Ver. 9.) He exchanges honour and repute for public shame, 
loses his life at the hands of the outraged husband, or becomes his slave (comp. ch. 
vi. 34). 2. The loss of property. (Ver. 10.) The punishment of adultery under the 
Law was stoning (Lev. xx. 10; Deut. xxii. 22, sqq.). Possibly this might be commuted 
into the forfeiture of goods and enslavement to the injured husband. 3. Remorse. 
(Vers. 11 — 14.) Last and worst of all inflictions, from the Divine hand, immediately. 
In the last stage of consumption the victim of lust groans forth his unavailing sorrow. 
Bemorse, the fearful counterpart of self-respect, is the mind turning upon itself, internal 
discord replacing the harmony God made. The sufferer accuses himself of haired to 
light, contempt of rebuke, of disobedience to voices that were authoritative, of deafness 
to warning. No external condemnation is ever passed on a man which his own 
conscience has not previously ratified. Bemorse is the last witness to Wisdom and her 
claims. To complete the picture, the miserable man is represented as reflecting that 
he all but fell into the doom of the public condemnation and the public execution 
(ver. 14).— J. 

Vers. 15 — 21. — Fidelitp and bliss in marriage. The counterpart of the foregoing 
warning against vice, placing connubial joys in the brightest light of poetic fancy. 

I. Images of wifehood. The wife is described : 1. As a spring, and as a cistern. 
Property in a spring or well was highly, even sacredly, esteemed. Hence a peculiar 
force in the comparison. The wife is the husband's peculiar delight and property ; the 
source of pleasures of every kind and degree ; the fruitful origin of the family (comp. 
Isa. li. 1 ; Cant. iv. 12). 2. As " vtife of on^i youth." (Cf. Deut. xxiv. 5 ; Eccles. ix. 9.) 
One to whom the flower of youth and manhood has been devoted. The parallel 
description is "companion of youth" (ch. iL 17). Her image, in this case, is associated 
with the sunniest scenes of experience. 3. As a " lovely hind, or charming gazelle." 
A favourite Oriental comparison, and embodied in the names Tabitha and Boreas, 
which denoto "gazelle." There are numberless uses of the figure in Arabian and 
Persian poets. The beautiful liquid eye, delicate head, graceful carriage of the creature, 
all point the simile. Nothing can surpass, as a husband's description of a true wife^ 
Wordsworth's exquisite stanza beginning — 

"She was a phantom of delight. 
When first she gleam'd upon my sight t 
A creature not too bright or good 
For hnman nature's daily food ; 
For transient sorrows, simple wiles. 
Praise, blame, love, kisses, tears, and smiles." 

IL Ihaoeb or thi husband's bliss. 1. It is like taking draughts from • fresh 
and ever-running stream. There is "continual comfort in a face, the lineaments of 
gospel books." 2. It is a peetdiar, a private possession. Ver. 16 should be rendered 
interrogatively; it conveys the contrast of the profaned treasures of the unchaste 
woman s love, and thus fits with ver. 17. The language of lovers finds a true zest in 
the word, "My own!" Life becomes brutish where this feeling dues not exist. 3. 
Yet it attracts sympathy, admiration, and good will. Ver. 18 is the blessing wished 

CH. V. 1— 23.] THE PUOVEEBS. 11» 

by the speaker or by any looker-on. Wedding-feasts bring out these feelings; and 
the happiness and prosperity of married pairs are as little exposed to the tooth of envy 
as any earthly good. 4. It is satisfying ; for what repose can be more sweet and secure 
than that on the bosom of the faithful spouse? It is enrapturing, without being 
enfeebling, unlike those false pleasures, "violent delights with violent endin>js, that in 
their triumph die " (ver. 19). 

III. Concluding exhoetation (ver. 20), founded on the contrast just given. 1. 
The true rapture (the Hebrew word shdgdh, "reel" as in intoxication, repeated) should 
deter from the false and vicious. 2. To prefer the bosom of the adulteress to that of 
the true wife is a mark of the most vitiated taste, the most perverted understantliug. — J. 

Ver. 21. — Qod the all-seeing Judgt. "Before Jehovah's eyes are man's paths, and all 
his tracks he suiveys", 

I. Cynical proverbs concerning secbect are condemned. Such as "What the 
eye sees not, the heart does not grieve over;" "A slice from a out cake is nuver 
missed ; " " Never mind so long as you are not found out." 

n. NoTHDJO IB REALLY SECRET OB UNKNOWN. We are naked and open to the eyes 
of him with whom we have to do. The whisper, the inarticulate thought, will come 
back one day in thunder. — J. 

Vers. 22, 23. — Vice suicidal. I. Wickedness (like goodness) has undesionbd 
RESULTS. The good comes back to nestle in the bosom of the giver and the doer. We 
never do right without invoking a blessing on our own heads. Evil, on the other hand, 
designed and executed, is like a snare set for one's self, a net in the meshes of which 
the craft V is entangled, self-overreached. 

II. Wickedness and ignorance ark in close connection. "He shall die fur 
want o/" instruction " — the correct rendering of ver. 23. Socrates taught that vice was 
ignorance, virtue identical with knowledge. This, however, ignores the perversity of 
the will. The Bible ever traces wickedness to wilful and inexcusable ignorance. 

III. Wickedness is a kind op madness. " Through the greatness of his folly he 
shall reel about." The word shdgdh once more. The man becomes drunk and frenzied 
with pa.ssion, and, a certain point passed, staggers to his end unwitting, careless, or 

te.— J. 

Vers. 1 — 20. — Victims of vice. One particular vice is here denounced; it is necessary 
to warn the young against its snares and sorrows. What is here said, however, of this 
sin is applicable, in most if not all respects, to any kind of unholy indulgence ; it is an 
earnest and faithful warning against the sin and shame of a vicious life. 

I. Its sinfulness. The woman who is a sinner is a "strange" woman (ver. 3). 
The temptress is all too common amongst us, but she is strange in the si-ht of God. 
She is an alien, foreign altogether to his purpose, a sad and wide departure from his 
thought. And all vice is strange to him; it is a departure from his thought and from 
his will; it is sin in his sight; it is offensive to him; he "cannot look on" such 
iniquity without abhorrence and condemnation. He who is tempted may well say, 
with the pure-miuded and godly Joseph, " How can I do this great wickedness, and sin 
against God?" 

II. Its shame. It is a shame to a man to allow himself to be deceived by a vain, 
•hallow-minded woman (vers. 3, 4); it is a shame to a man to permit a mere selfish 
temptress to beguile him, to prevent him from entertaining the true and wise thought 
in his mind, to hinder him by her artifices from reflecting on what is the [lath of 
life and what the way of death (ver. 6) ; it is a shame to a man to surrender his manly 
virtue to one so utterly undeserving of his honour (vers. 7—9). He who yields to the 
Bolicitations of the temptress, to the impulses of a vicious nature, is forfeiting his 
honour, is resigning his true manhood, is a son of shame. 

III. Its folly. (Vers. 15 — 20.) How senseless is sinl how stupid is vice I It 
embiaces a guilty and short-lived pleasure only to reject a pure and lasting joy. Why 
should men resort to shameful lust when they can be blest with lawful and honourable 
love ? Why sink in debauchery when they can walk along those goodly heights of 
moderation and of pleasures on which God's blessing may be invoked V Whatever the 

120 THE PROVERBS. [oh. v. 1—28. 

sense may be (whether of seeing, hearing, etc.). it is the pure pleasure which is not 
only high and manly, but is also iinaccompanief! by bitter and accusing thoughts, and 
is lasting as life itself. Why turn to devour the garbage when "angels' food" is on the 
table ? Vice is the very depth of folly. 

IV. Its pbnaltt. This is threefold. 1. Impoverishraent (ver. 10). Vice soon 
scatters a man's fortune. A few years, or even weeks, will suffice for dissipation to run 
through a good estate. Men " waste their substance in riotous living." 2. Remorse 
(vers. 11—14). How bitter to the soul the pangs of self- accusation ! There is no 
poisoned dart that wounds the body as the arrow of unavailing remorse pierces the soul. 
3. Death (ver. 5, " Her feet go down to death ; her steps lay hold on hell "). Death 
physical and death spiritual are the issue of immorality. The grave is dug, the gates 
of the City of Sorrow are open, for the lascivious, the drunken, the irnmoral.^0. 

Ver. 11 (first clause). — Mourning at the last. What multitudes of men and women 
have there been who, on beds of piin, or in homes of poverty, or under strong spiritual 
apprehension, have " mourned at the last " ! After tasting and " enjoying the pleasures 
of sin for a season," they have found that iniquity must meet its doom, and they have 
"mourned at the last." Sin makes fair promises, but breaks its word. It owns that 
there is a debt due for guilty pleasure, but it hints that it will not si-nd in the bill for 
many years ; — perhaps never : but that account has to be settled, and they who persist 
in sinful indulgence will find, when it is too late, that they have to " mourn at the last." 
This is true of — 

I. Slothfulness. Very pleasant to be idling when others are busy, to he following 
the bent of our own fancy, dallying with the passing hours, amusing ourselves the whole 
day long, the whole year through ; but there is retribution for wasted hours, for mis- 
spent youth, for negligent and idle uianhood, to be endured further on; there is self- 
reproach, condemnation of the good and wise, an ill-regulaled mind, straitened means 
if not poverty, — mouining at the last. 

II. Intemperance. Very tempting may be the jovial feast, very fascinating the 
sparkling cup, very inviting the hilarity of the festive circle; but there is the end of it 
all to be taken into account, not only to-morrow's pain or lassitude, but the forfeiture 
of esteem, the weakening of the soul's capacity for pure enjoyment, the depravation 
of the taste, the encircling round the spirit of those cruel fetters which "at the last" 
hold it in cruel bondage. 

III. Larciviousness. (See previous homily.) 

IV. WoBLDLiNESs. There is a strong temptation presented to men to throw them- 
selves into, so as to be absorbed by, the affairs of time and sense — business, politics, 
literature, art, one or other of the various amusements which entertain and gratify. 
This inordinate, excessive, unqualified devotion to any earthly pursuit, while it is to be 
distinguished from abandonment to forbidden pleasure, is yet wrong and ruinous. It 
is wrong, for it leaves out of reckoning the supreme obligation — that which we owe to 
him in whom we live and move and have our being, and who has redeemed us with his 
own blood. It is ruinous, for it leaves us (1) without the heritage we were meant to 
have, and may have, in God, in Jesus Christ and his blessed service and salvation; (2) 
unprepared for the other and larger life which is so near to us, and to which we 
approach by every step we take. However pleasant be the pursmts we engage in or 
the prizes we win, we shall wake one day from our dream with shame and fear ; we 
shall " mourn at the last." — 0. 

Ver. 21. — Mem in OocPs view. This verse is added as a powerful reason why the 
worst sins should he avoided. A man under temptation may well address himself 
thus — ' 

" Nor let my weaker passions dare 
Consent to sin ; for God is there." 

I. Thb vabied bnbboieb and actions op man. Many are "the ways of man;" 
"all his goings" cannot easily be told. There is (1) his innermost thought starting in 
his mind ; (2) then his feeling or desire in some direction ; (3) then his resolution, the 
decision of his will; (4) then his planning and arranging; (5) then his consultation 
•od co-operation with others ; (6) then his execution. Or we may consider the variety 

OH. V. 1—23.] THE PROVERBS. 121 

of his actions by regarding them as (1) beginning and ending with himself; (2) 
affecting his immediate circle, bis own family ; (3) reaching and influencing his neigh- 
bours ; (4) acting upon those who will come after him. The forms of human activity 
are indefinitely numerous — so complex is his nature, so various are his relations to his 
kind and the world in which he lives. 

II. God's notice of all dub doinqs. "The ways of a man are before the eyes of 
the Lord." Every thought is thought, every feeling felt, every resolve made, every 
plan formed, every word spoken, every deed done, under his all-observing eye. 
"Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight, but all things are 
naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do " (Heb. iv. 13 ; see 
2 Chron. ivi. 9 ; Job xxxi. 4 ; Ps. cxxxix. 2 — 12 ; and oh. xv. 3). The eyes of the 
Lord not only cover the earth and the heavens, but they look everywhere vrithin ; 
through the thick curtains of the night his own band has spread, and through the 
thickest folds our hand can draw, and through the walls of our human frame into the 
inner chambers and darkest recesses of our souls. 

III. God's measure of cub doings. "He ponderetA all his goings." God weighs 
all that he sees in the scales of his Divine vrisdom and righteousness. He marks every 
thought, word, deed; and he estimates their worth, their excellency or their guilt. 
Never any way taken, any course entered upon, but all the motives which led to its 
choice and execution are before the mind of God, and are accepted or are blamed by 
him. And this being so, there must be — 


LIFE. For the Omniscient One cannot forget; and it may be that, in some way 
unknown to us, but quite in accordance with some ascertained facts, all our past 
actions are spread out before his sight in some part of his universe. Certainly the 
effects of all we have done abide, either in our own character and life or in those of 
other men. Our ways, past and present, are le/ore him ; he is estimating the moral 
character, for good or ill, of all our goings. 

Therefore : 1. In view of all our guilt, let us seek his mercy in Christ Jesus. For it 
is a truth consistent with the foregoing, that, if there be repentance and faith, all our 
sins shall " be cast into the depths of the sea " (Amos vii. 19). God will " hide his 
face from our sins, and blot out our iniquities" (Ps. li. 9). 2. In view of God's 
observation and judgment, let ug strive to please him. If we yield our herirts to 
himself and our lives to his service, if we accept eternal life at his hands through Jesus 
Christ, and then seek to be and to do what is right in his sight, we shall do that which 
he wiU look upon with Divine approval, with fatherly delight (Gal. iv. 1 ; Heb. xi, 6 ; 
xiii. 16; 1 Pet. li. 20, etc.).— 0. 

Vers. 22, 23. — The end of an evil course. There are two fearful evils in which 
Impenitent sin is sure to end, two classes of penalty which the wrong-doer must make 
up his mind to pay. He has to submit to — 

I. An inwabd ttkannt op the most oeuki. ohaeaoteb. (Ver. 22.) We may 
never have seen the wild animal captured by the hunter, making violent efforts to 
escape its toils, failing, desperately renewing the attempt with fierce and frantic 
struggles, until at length it yielded itself to its fate in suUen despair. But we have 
witnessed something far more romantic than that. We have watched some human soul 
caught in the meshes of vice (intemperance, it may be), or entangled in the bonds of 
sin (coveteousness, it may be), struggling to be free, failing in its endeavour, renewing 
the attempt with determined eagerness, and failing again, until at length it yields to the 
foe, vanquished, ruined, lost I " His own iniquities have taken the wicked himself, he 
is holden in the cords of his sins." 1. Sin hides its tyranny from view ; its cords are so 
carried that they are not seen ; nay, they are so wound around the soul that at first 
they are not felt, and the victim has no notion that he is being enslaved. 2. Gradually 
and stealthily it fastens its fetters on the soul ; e.g. intemperance, impurity, untruthful- 
ness selfishness, worldliness. 3. It finally obtains a hold from which the soul cannot 
■hake itself free; the man is "holden;" sin has him in its firm grip; he is a captive, 
a spiritual slave. Beside this terrible tyranny, the persistent wrong-doer has to 

II, AiTKB-00N8«<juENCEB YET MOBE CALAMITOUS. (Ver. 23.) These are: 1. Death 



[oh. ti. 1— M. 

to the midst of folly. " He shall die without instruction," unenlightened by eternal 
truth, in the darkness of error and sin ; he will die, " hoping nothing, helieving nothing, 
and fearing nothing " — nothing which a man should die in the hope of, nothing which a 
man should live to believe and die in the faith of, nothing which a man should fear, 
living or dying. He shall die without peace to smooth his dying pillow, without hope 
to light up his closing eyes. 2. Exclusion from future blessedness through his folly. 
* In the greatness of his folly he shall go astray." While the simplest wisdom would 
have led him to seek and find entrance into the City of God, in the greatness of his 
folly he wanders off to the gates of the City of Sorrow. 

1. If the path of folly has been entered upon and is now being trodden, return at 
once without delay. Further on, perchance a very little further on, it may be too 
late — the cords of sin may be too strong for the soul to snap. Arise at once, in the 
strength of the strong Deliverer, and regain the freedom which is being lost. 2. Enter 
m earliest days the path of spiritual freedom. Bear the blessed yoke of the Son of 
God, that every other yoke may be broken. Enrol in his ranks whose " service is 
perfect freedom." — 0. 


Vers. 1 — 35. — The sixth chapter embraces 
four distinct discourseB, each of which is a 
warning. The subjects treated of are (1) 
suretyship (vers. 1—5); (2) sloth (vers. 6 — 
11); (3) malice (vers. 12—19); and (4) 
adultery (ver. 20 to the end). The con- 
tinuity of the subject treated of In the pre- 
ceding chapter appears to be somewhat 
abruptly interrupted to make way for the 
insertion of three discourses on subjects 
which apparently have little connection 
with what precedes and what follows. 
Their unlooked-for and unexpected appear- 
ance has led Hitzig to regard them as inter- 
polations, but it has been conclusively 
pointed out by Delitzsoh that there is suffi- 
cient internal evidence, in the grammatical 
construction, figures, word-formations, de- 
lineations, and threatenings, to establish the 
position that they proceeded &om the same 
hand that composed the rest of the book 
and to guarantee their genuineness. But 
another and not less interesting question 
arises as to whetlier any connection subsists 
between these discourses and the subject 
which thoy apparently interrupt. Such a 
connection is altogether denied by Delitzsoh, 
Zockler, and other German commentators, 
who look upon them as independent dis- 
courses, and maintain that, if there is any 
connection, it can be only external and 
accidental. On the other hand. Bishops 
Pairick and Wordsworth discover an ethical 

connection which, though not clear at flrsi 
sight, is not on that account less real or 
true. The subject treated of in the pre- 
ceding chapter is the happiness of the 
married life, and this is imperilled by in- 
cautious undertaking of suretyship, and 
suretyship, it is maintained, induces sloth, 
while sloth leads to malioioueness. After 
treating of suretyship, sloth, and malice in 
succession, the teacher recurs to the former 
subject of his discourse, viz. impurity of 
life, against which he gives impressive 
warnings. That such is the true view there 
appears little doubt. One vice is intimately 
connected with another, and the verdict of 
experience is that a life of idleness is one 
of the most prolific sources of a life of im- 
purity. Hence we find Ovid saying — • 

"Quseritur, .SIgisthns, qu& re sit factus 
In promptu causa est — desidiosus erat." 

" Do you ask why .fflgisthus haa become an 
The reason is elose at hand — ^he was full 
of idleness." 

Within the sphere of these discourses them- 
selves the internal connection is distinctly 
observable, vers. 16 — 19 being a refrain 
of vers. 12 — 15, and the phrase, " to stir up 
strife," closing each enumeration (see vers. 
14 and 19). 

Vers. 1 — 5.-9. Ninth admonitory dit- 
course. Warning against luretysJiip. 

Ver. I. — The contents of this section are 

ea. n. 1— 38.] 



not to be tnkpn lo mnch ai nn abftnlnte 
unqualifled prohibition of suretyship as 
counsel directed against the incnnsi'lerate 
and rash undertaking of such an obligation. 
There were some occasions on which be- 
coming surety for another was demanded 
by the laws of charity and prudence, and 
when it was not inconsistent with the 
humane precepts of the Mosaic Law as 
enunciated in Ley. six. 19. In other pas- 
sages of our book the writer of the Proverbs 
lays down maxims which would clearly 
countenance the practice (eh. xiv. 21 ; xvii. 
17; xviii. 24; xxvii. 10), and in the apo- 
cryphal writings the practice is encouraged, 
if not enjoined (Ecolus. xxix. 14 ; viii. 13). 
Notwithstanding this limitation, however, it 
is observable that suretyship is almost in- 
variably spoken of in terms of condemna- 
tion, and the evil consequences which it 
entailed on the surety may be the reason 
why it is so frequently alluded to. The 
teacher refers to the subject in the following 
passages: here; ch. xi. 15; xvii. 18; xxii. 
26; XX. 16; xxvii. 13. My son. On tliis 
address, see oh. ii. 1 ; iii. 1, 17. If thou be 
surety (Hebrew, im-dravtd); literally, if 
thou hast heeome surely; LXX., eoj- iyyia-ri ; 
Vulgate, «t spoponderw. What the teacher 
counsels in the present instance is that, if 
by inadvertence a person has become surety, 
he should by the most strenuous endeavours 
prevail on his friend to free him from the 
bond. The Hebrew verb drav is properly 
" to mix," and then signifies " to become 
surety " in ' the sense of interchanging with 
another and so taking his place. The fre- 
quent mention of suretyship in the Proverbs 
is alluded to above. The first recorded 
instances are those where Judah offers to 
become surety for Benjamin, first to Israel 
(Gen. xliii. 9), and secondly to Joseph 
(Gen. xliT. 33). It is singular that it is 
only once alluded to in the Book of Job, 
■where Job says, "Lay down now, put me 
in surety with thee; who is he that will 
strike hands with me ? " (Job xvii. 3) ; and 
once only, and that doubtfully, in the whole 
of the Mosaic writings, in the phrase 
teiummat yad, i.e. giving or striding the 
hand in the case of perjury (Lev. vi. 2). 
The psalmist refers to it in the words, " Be 
surety for thy servant for good " (Ps. cxix. 
122). It is spoken of twice in Isaiah 
(xxxviii. 14; ixxvi. 8), once in Ezekiel 
(xxvii. 27) and in Nehemiah (v. 3), and the 
cognate noun, arrabon, "the pledge," security 
for payment, is met with in Gen. xxxviii. 
17 and 1 Sam. xvii. 18. These scattered 
notices in the Old Testament show that the 
practice was always in existence, while the 
more frequent notices in the Proverbs refer 
to a condition of society where extended rom- 
ueiKiiAl transactions had apparently made 

it a thing of daily oocnrrenee, and a source 
of constant danger. In the New Testa- 
ment one instance of suretyship is found, 
when St. Paul offers to become surety to 
Philemon for Onesimng (Philem. 19). But 
in the language of the New Testament, the 
purely commercial meaning of the word ia 
transmuted into a spiritual one. The gift of 
the Spirit is regarded as the artdhon, • apaiSiv, 
" the pledge," the earnest of the Christian 
believer's acceptance with God (2 Oor. i. 22 ; 
v. 5; Eph. i. 14). For thy friend; Hebrew, 
I'reeha. The Hebrew rUh, more usually rid, 
is "the companion or friend," and in this 
case obviously the debtor for whom one has 
become surety. The word reappears in ver. 
3. The h (V) prefixed to rl& is the dativus 
commodi. So Delitzsoh and others. If; not 
in tlie original, but rightly inserted. Thou 
hast stricken thy hand with a stranger 
(Hebrew, tdkd'td Idzzdr ItapSykd) ; properly, 
thou host stricken thy hand for a strcmger. 
The analogous use of V (h) in Idzzdr deter- 
mines this rendering. As in the corre- 
sponding Vrigyka, the ^ (V) indicates the 
person for whose benefit the suretyship is 
undertaken, i.e. the debtor, ami not the 
person with whom the symbolical act ig 
performed, i.e. tlie creditor. Compare the 
following passages, though the construction 
witli h is wanting : " He that is surety for a 
stranger" (ch. xi. 15); "Take his garment 
that is surety for a stranger" (ch. xx. 16 
and xxvii. 13). " The straiiger," zdr, is not 
an alien, or one belonging to another 
nationality, but simply one extraneous to 
one's self, and so equivalent to dkher, 
" another." The meaning, therefore, seems 
to be, "If thou hast entered into a bond for 
one with whom thou art but slightly ac- 
quainted." Others (Wordswortli, Plumptre), 
however, take zdr as representing the foreign 
money-lender. The phrase, " to strike the 
hand," tdhd kdph, or simply "to strike," 
tdka, describes the symbolical act which 
accompanied the contract. Tdkd is properly 
" to drive," like the Latin defigere, and 
hence " to stri W and indicates the sharp 
sound with which the hands were brought 
into contact. The act no doubt was accom- 
plished before witnesses, and the hand 
which was stricken was that of the creditor, 
who thereby received assurance tiiat the 
responsibility of the debtor was undertaken 
by the surety. The " striking of the hand " 
as indicating the completion of a contract 
is illustrated by the author of tlie ' Ka 
moos ' (quoted by Lee, on Job xvii. 3), who 
says, " He struck or clapped to him a sale 
... he struck his hand in a sale, or on his 
hand ... he struck his own hand upon the 
hand of him, and this is among the neces- 
sary (transactions) of sale." So among 



[oh. VI. 1^35. 

Western nations the giving of the hand haa 
been always regarded as a pledge of bona 
fides. Thus Menelaus demands of Helena 
(Enripides, ' Hel.,' 838), 'Eirl roiirSe vvv 
ScliAj ifirjs elye, " Touch my right hand now 
on these conditions," i.e. in attestation that 
you accept them. In purely verbal agree- 
ments it is the custom in the present day 
for the parties to clasp the hand. A further 
example may be found in the plightiug of 
troth in the Marriage Service, 

Ver. 2.— Thou art snared with the words 
i.f thy mouth, etc.; i.e. the inevitable con- 
sequence of an, inconsiderate undertaking of 
suretyship is that you become entangled 
and involved by your own -promises, and 
hampered by self-imposed obligations. The 
Autlioiized Version rightly regards this as 
the conclusion. So the Vulgate. Others, 
liowever, carry on the hypothesis, and insert 
tin, "if:" "If thou art snared," etc.; but 
without warrant (Zoclder, Wordsworth, 
Plumptro). Tlie LXX. throws the thought 
into the form of a proverb, as "a strong 
net to a man are his own worJs." A dis- 
tinction is to be drawn between the verbs 
rendered "entangled" and "taken;" the 
former, yalcSsh, signifying to be taken un- 
warily, off one's guard; the latter, IdkSd, 
referring, as before observed (cf. oh. v. 22), 
to the being stricken with the net. They 
are found in the same collocation in Isa. 
viii. 15, "Many among them shall be snared 
and taken." The repetition of the phrase, 
" with the words of thy mouth," is not un- 
intentional or purely rhetorical. It is made, 
as Uelitzsoli observes, to bring with greater 
force to the mind that the entanglements in 
which the surety is involved are the result 
of his own indiscretion. 

Ver. 3. — In this verse advice is -tendered 
as to what is to be done under the circum- 
stances of this entanglement. The surety 
is to take immediate steps to be set free. 
The urgency of the advice is to be explained 
by the serious consequences which would 
follow in the event of the debtor not satis- 
fying the creditor in due time. The surety 
became liable to the penalties inflicted by 
the Hebrew law of di bt. His property 
could be distrained. His bed and his gar- 
ment could be taken from him (ch. xxii. 27 
and XX. 16), and he wa.s liable as well as 
his family to be reduced to the condition of 
servitude. So we find the son of Sirach 
saying, "Suretyship hath undone many of 
good estate, and shaken them as a wave of 
the sea : mighty men hath it driven from 
their houses, so that they wandered among 
strange nations" (Eeclus. xxix. 18; of. 2 
Kings iv. 1 ; Neh. v. 8 — 5 ; and Matt, xviii. 
25). Compare the dictum of Thales, the 
Greek philosopher, 'Eyy^o iriipa S' &ra, 
" GiT« surety, and rain is near ; " and that of 

Ohilo (Pliny, 'Nat. Hist.,' vi. 32), "Spon- 
gioni non deest jactura " — " Loss is not 
wanting to a surety." The same Idea is 
conveyed in the modem German proverb, 
"Biirgen soil man' wiirgen"— "Worry a 
surety." Do this now; or, therefore. The 
particle ephd is intensive, and emphasizes 
the command, and in this sense is of frequent 
occurrence (Job xvii. 15; Gen. xxvii. 32; 
xliii. II ; 2 Kings x. 10, etc.). It appears 
to be equivalent to the Latin quod dico. 
So the Vulgate, " Do therefore what I say ; " 
similarly the LXX. renders, " Do, my son, 
what I bid thee (ft iyb aoi hreWoiuu)." 
It carries with it the sense of instant and 
prompt action. And deliver thyself; when 
thou art come into the hand of thy friend; 
i.e. set thyself free when thou findest thou 
art actually at the mercy of thy friend for 
wliom thou hast become surety. The W ('3) 
is not hypothetical, but actual; it is not " if" 
you are, but " when " or because yon actu- 
ally are in his power. The Vulgate and 
LXX. render '3 respectively by quia and 
•ydp. Go, humble thyself; i.e. present thyself 
as a suppliant, prostrate thyself, offer thyself 
to be trodden upon (Michaelis), or humbh 
thyself like to the threshold which is 
trampled and trode upon (Bashi), or humble 
thyself under the soles of his feet (Abeu 
Ezra). The expression implies the spirit of 
entire submission, in which the surety is to 
approach his friend in order to be released 
from his responsibility. The Hebrew verb 
hlth'rappSs has, however, been rendered 
differently. Radically r&phds signifies " to 
tread or trample with the feet," and this 
has been taken to express haste, or the be- 
stirring of one's self. So the Vnlgate reads 
fettina, " hasten ; " and the LXX. IrOi nh 
4K\v6iievo5, i.e. "be not remiss." But the 
hithp. clearly determines in favour of the 
reflexive rendering; comp. Ps. Ixviii. 30, 
" Till every one submit himself with pieces 
of silver" — the only other passage where 
rdphds occurs. And make sure thy £riend 
(Hebrew, r'hdv reSykd) ; rather, importune 
thy friend, be urgent with him, press upon 
him to fulfil his engagement. The verb 
rdhav is properly "to be fierce," "to rage," 
and hence with the accusative, as here, "to 
assail with impetuosity." In Isa. iii. 5 it is 
used with a (6'), and signifies to act fiercely 
against any one. The meaning of the pas- 
sage is that if abject submission or persua- 
sion does not avail, then sterner measures 
are to be resorted to to gain the desired 

Ver. 4. — This verse carries on the thought 
one step further. The appeal to the friend 
is not to be confined to one spasmodic effort 
and then relinquished. He is to be followed 
up pertinaciously and continually, with un- 
wearied diligence, until prevailed upon t« 

OH. VI. 1—35.] 



fulfil his engagemente. Of this nnweaiied 
energy in the pursuit of aa object in which 
one is deeply interested, compare David's 
resolution, "I will not give sleep to mine 
eyes, or slumber to miae eyelids, until I find 
out a place for the Lord, an habitation for 
the mighty God of Jacob " (Pa. czxxii. 4, 5). 
Ver. 5. — The struggles of the roe and the 
bird to escape from the snare are employed 
flguratlTely to describe the efforts which 
the surety is to make to tear and free 
himself from his friend. From the hand of 
the hunter (Hebrew, mlyyad); literally, 
from the hand, as shown by the italics. The 
variation in all the ancient versions, with 
the exception of the Vulgate and Venetian, 
which read " from the snare," suggests that 
the original text was mippath instead of 
miyydd. The Hebrew yad, "hand," may, 
however, be used by metonymy for a toil or 
gin ; but this is improbable, as no example 
of this kind can be found. With regard to 
the addition, "of the hunter," though this 
does not occur in the original, the paral- 
lelism would seem to clearly require it, and 
Bottcher maintains, but upon insufficient 
evidence, and against the reading of all 
manuscripts, which omit it, that the word 
Udyydd, equivalent to "of the hunter," 
formed part uf the original iext, but has 
fallen out. The plain reading, " from the 
hand," may, however, be used absolutely, as 
in 1 Kings xx. 42, " Because thon hast let 
go out of thy hand (miyydd)," in which case 
the hand will not be that of the hunter, but 
that of the person for whom the one is surety. 
Boe. There is a paronomasia in ta'vi, equiva- 
lent to "roe," and Ulphdr, equivalent to 
" bird," of the original, which is lost in the 
Authorized Version. The Ufvi is the " roe " 
or " gazelle," so named from the beauty of 
its form (see also Song of SoL il. 7 — 9, 17 ; 
iii. 5; viii. 14; 1 Kings v. 3; Isa. xiiL 14). 
Ttippdr is a generic word, and represents 
any small biiil. It is derived from the 
twittering or chirping noise which the bird 
makes, the root being tidphSr, " to chirp, or 
twitter." As to its identification with the 
span ow. Passer montanus, or the blue thrush, 
JPetroeossyphus cuanens (see ' Bible Animals, 
Eev. J. G. Wood, p. 405, edit. 1876). 

Vera. 6 — 11. — 10. Tenth admonitory dis- 
eotirM. Warning against sloth. The ethical 
connection of this discourse with the pre- 
ceding has already been pointed out. Sloth 
militates against prosperity; it is the pro- 
lific parent of want, and, even more surely 
than suretyship, leads to misfortune and 
ruin. The certainty with which ruin steals 
upon the sluggard may be the reason why 
the teacher closes the discourse in the way 

he does. In the case of suretyship such an 
issue is uncertain; there is the possibility 
of escape, the surety may prevail upon his 
friend to release him from his obligation, 
and so he may escape ruin ; but with 
sloth no such contingency is possible, its 
invariable end is disaster. So far as the 
grammatical structure of the two discourses 
is concerned, they appear to be quite inde- 
pendent of each other, the only points of 
coincidence observable being the repetition 
of one or two words, which is purely acci- 
dental (cf. "go" in vers. 3 and 6, and 
"sleep" and "slumber" in vers. 4 and 10). 

Ver. 6. — Go to the ant, thou sluggard; 
oonsider her ways, and be wise. The ant 
(Hebrew, n'maZa/t) is here brought forward 
as supplying an example of wisdom to the 
sluggard. The habits of this insect, its 
industry and providence, have in all aged 
made it the symbol of these two qualities, 
and not only the sacred, but also profane 
writers have praised its foresight, and held 
it up for imitation. The ant is only men- 
tioned twice in the Old Testament, and on 
both occasions in our book (see present pas- 
sage and ch. xxx. 25). The derivation of 
n'mdldh is either from the root ndm, with 
reference first to the silence with which it 
moves, and secondly to its active yet nnper- 
ceived motion (Delitzscb), or from ndmdl, 
i.q. maldl, " to cut off," from its cutting of! 
or consuming seeds (ab incidendis seminibiu) 
(Buxtorf, Gesenius). The Aramaic name, 
shum'sh'mdndh, however, points to its activity 
and rapid running hither and thither 
(Fleischer). Sluggard; Hebrew, dtsel, a 
verbal adjective found only in the Proverbs. 
The primary idea of the root dtsSl is that of 
languor and laxity. The cognate abstract 
nouns Sts'ldh and dts'luth, equivalent to 
" slothfulnesa," occur in ch. xix. 15; zxxi. 
27. Consider her ways; attentively regard 
them, and from them derive a lesson of 
wisdom. Her ways are the manner in 
which the ant displays her industij and 

Ver. 7. — Which having no guide, owiseer, 
or mler. This statement is substiMttially 
correct, for tliough the most recent observa- 
tions made by modern naturalists have dis- 
covered various classes of ants occupying 
the same ant-hill, yet there appears to be 
a total want of that gradation and sub- 
ordination in ant-life which is noticeable 
among bees. The three terms used here, 
kdtsd, shSter, mdshel, all refer to government, 
and correspond respectively with the modem 
Arabic terms, kadi, wali, and emir. (Zooller). 
The first refers to the judicial office and 
should rather be rendered "judge," the toot 



[oh. vt 1— 3Sk 

IMidh being " to decids " (see Isa. i. 10 ; iii. 
6, 7 ; Micah iii. 9). The word, however, is 
used of • military commander in Josli. z. 21 ; 
Judg. ii. 6 — 11, and iu this sense it is under- 
itood by the Valgate, which has dux. ShSter, 
tendered " overseer," is literally "a sf vibe," 
•nd appears as the general designati in for 
any o£Bcial. In Exod. v. 6, 19 the shdter 
is the person employed by the Egyptian 
taskmasters to urge on the Israelites in 
their forced labour; in Numb. xi. 16 the 
tlidter is one of the seventy elders ; and in 
1 Ohron. zxiii. 4 he is a municipal magis- 
trate. The meaning assigned to the word 
in the Authorized Version seems to be the 
correct one. The ant has no overseer; there 
is none to regulate or see that the work is 
done. Each ant apparently works indepen- 
dently of the rest, tliough guided by a com- 
mon instinct to add to the common store. 
In mSshel we have the highest title of 
dignity and power, the word signifying a 
lord, prince, or ruler, from mdshdl, " to rule." 
Ver. 8. — ^Provideth her meat in the sum- 
mer, and gathereth her food in the harvest. 
It is this characteristic, combined with what 
has just bein said, which gives point to the 
ksaon the sluggard is to learn. The 
teacher, as it were, argues: If tlie ant, so 
insignificant a creature in the order of the 
animal kingdom, is so provident, hdw much 
more should you be — you, a man endued 
with superior intelligence, and with so many 
more resources at hand, and with greater 
advantages 1 If the ant, with none to urge, 
direct, or control her work, is so industrious, 
surely she provides an example at which 
you, the sluggard, should blush, since there 
is every external incentive to rouse you to 
action — your duty to the community, the 
urgent advice of your friends, and your 
dignity as a man. If she provides for the 
futnro, much more should jou do so, and 
throw oif your sloth. Objection has been 
taken to what is here stated of the provident 
habits of tlie ant in storing food, on tlie 
ground that it is carnivorous and passes 
the winter in a state of torpidity. That 
the ant does lay up stores for future use 
has, hoivever, been the opinion of all ages. 
Thus Hesiod ('Days,' 14) speaks of the ant 
as harvesting the grain, calling it tSpis, "the 
provident." Virgil says ('Georg.,' i 186; 
ef. • iEneid,' iv. 4027)— 

" Veluti ingentem formicas farris aoervum 
Quum populant hiemis memores, tectouuo 

* So the ants, when they plunder a tall heap 
of corn, mindful of the winter, store it iu 
their cave."_ The language of Horace (' Sat.,' 
i. 1. 32) might be a comment on our pas- 

"Parvula (nam exemplo est) magni formica 

laboris siout 
Ore trahit quodcunque potest, atque addit 

Quern struit, baud ignara ae non incanta 

Quas, simul universum contristat Aquarioa 

Kon usquam prorepit, et illis utitur anta 
Qu.-Esitis sapiens." 

" For thus the little ant (to human lore 
No mean example) forms her frugal storey 
Gathered, with mighty toiH on ever/ 

Nor ignorant, nor careless to provide 
For future want; yet when the stars ap- 
That darkly sadden the declining year, 
No more she comes abroad, but wisely 

On the fair store industrious summer 

(Francis' Translation.) 

TI;e same provident character is noted in 
iEsop's fable, 'The Ant and the Grass- 
hopper;' see also Aristotle ('Hist. Nat.,' 
ix. 6). All objections on this subject appear 
to bo based on insufScient data, and have 
been conclusively answered by recent obser- 
vation. Apart from the remark of Buftbn, 
that "tlie ants of tropical climates lay up 
'provisions, and as they probably live the 
whole year, they submit themselves to regu- 
lations entirely unknown among the anfa 
of Europe." The late Professor Darwin 
states of the agricultural ant of Texas, 
which in many features resembles the ant 
of Palestine, that it not only stores its food, 
but prepares the soil for the crops, keeps 
the ground free from weeds, and finally 
reaps the harvest (Journal of Linnsean 
Society, vol. i. No. 21, p. 29). Canon Tris- 
tram also observes, " The language of the 
wise man is not only in accordance with 
the universal belief of his own time, but 
with the accurately ascertained facts of 
natural history. Contrary to its habits in 
colder climates, the ant is not there dormant 
through the winter; and among the tama- 
risks of the Dead Sea it may bo seen, in 
January, actively engaged in collecting the 
aphides and saccharine exudations, in long 
files passing and repassing up and down 
the trunk. Two of the most common species 
of the Holy Land (Alta barbara, the black 
ant, and Alta structor, the blown ant) are 
strictly seed-feeders, and in summer hiy up 
large stores of grain for winter use. These 
species are spread along the whole of the 
Mediterranean coasts, but are nnknown in 
more northern climates. Hence writers who 
were ignorant of ants beyond those of tlieir 
own countries have been presnmptuoui 

OH. TI. 1 — 35,] 



enough to deny the accuracy of Solomon's 
statement" ('Nat. Hist, of the Bible,' p. 
820). The Mishna, section 'Zeraim,' also 
contains a ouiioua piece of legislation which 
bears testimony to the storing properties of 
the ant. 

Ver. 9. — ^Vers. 9 — 1 1 contain a call to the 
sluggard to rouse himself from his lethargy, 
and the warning of the evil consequences 
if he remains heedless of the reproof. How 
long wilt thou sleep, sluggards It is the 
same as if it were said, " What infatuation 
is this which makes you lie and sleep as if 
you had nothing else to do?" The double 
question stigmatizes the sluggard's utter 
indolence, and suggests the picture of his 
prolonging his stay in bed long after every 
one else is abroad and about his business. 
Mow long (Hebrew, dd-mdthd; Vulgate, 
utqueqiio); literally, till whent When; 
Hebrew, mdthd; Vulgate, quando. The 
■ame words are used in the same order in 
introducing a question in Neh. ii. 6, " For 
how long will the journey be? and when 
wilt thou return?" Wilt thou . . . sleep. 
The Hebrew tlsh'kdr is literally " wilt tliou 
lie," but the verb easily passes to the 
secondary meaning of "to sleep." The 
delineation of the sluggard is again drawn 
in ch. xxiv. 30—34 in almost identical lan- 
guage, but with some additions. 

Vei. 10. — Yet a little sleep, eto. Is this 
the answer of the sluggard which the 
teacher takes up and repeats ironically, and 
in a tone of contempt ? or is it the teacher's 
own language describing how the sluggard 
slides on insensibly to ruin ? The Vulgate 
favours the latter view, " Thou shalt sleep 
a little, thou slialt slumber a little, thou 
shalt fold thy hands to sleep, and then," etc. 
Habits, as Aristotle in his 'Ethics' has 
shown, are the resultant of repeated acts, 
and habits entail consequences. So here 
the inspired teacher would have it learnt, 
from the example of the sluggard, that the 
gelf-iudul^ence which he craves leads on to 
a confirmed indolence, which in the end 
leaves him powerless. "Yet a little" is 
the phrase on the lips of every one who 
makes but a feeble resistance, and yields 
supinely to his darling vice. 

Ver. 11. — So shall thy poverty come as 
one that travelleth, and thy want as an 
armed man. The inevitable consequences 
of sloth — poverty and want, two terms con- 
veying the idea of utti* destitution — are 
described under a twofold aspect: first, as 
certain; second, as irresistible. Poverty 
will advance upon the sluggard with the 
unerring precision and swiftness with which 
a traveller tends towards the end of hig 
journey, or, as Michaelis puts it, "quasi 
viator qui impigre pergit ac proprius venit 
donee propositum itineris soopum coutin- 

gat" (Michaelis, ' Not» Uberiores'). Muf- 
fet, in loo., keeping to the figure, however, 
explains differently, "Poverty shall over- 
take thee, as a swift traveller does one who 
walks slowly." The Authorized Version, 
"as one that travelleth," correctly repre- 
sents the original hlm'hdlUk. There is no 
ground whatever, from the use of the verb, 
for rendering the piel participle m'haHek 
as " a robber." The verb hdldic invariably 
means "to go, or walk," and the piel or 
intensive form of the verb means "to walk 
vigorously, or quickly." The participle 
can only mean this in the two other 
sages where it occurs — Ps. civ. 3 and Eceles. 
iv. 14. The substantive hMSk in 2 Sam. 
xii. 4 also signifies "a traveller." So the 
Vulgate here, quasi viator. The other view, 
it is stated, is required by the parallel 
expression in the second hemistich, " as an 
armed man," and receives some support 
from the LXX. reading, Str-irep Kaxhs iSoi- 
Tr6pos, "as an evil traveller,' which may 
mean either a traveller bringing evil news, 
or one who wanders about with an evil 
intention and purpose, in the sense of the 
Latin gratiator, " a highwayman," In this 
case the meaning would be that poverty 
shall come upon the sluggard as he is in- 
dulging in his sloth, and leave him destitute 
as if stripped by a robber. But the destitu- 
tion of the sluggard will not only be certain 
and swift, it will be also irresistible. His 
want shall come upon him as an armed man 
(ft'wft mdgen) ; literally, as a man of a ifdeld) 
Vulgate, quasi vir armatus; i.e. like one fully 
equipped, and who attacks his foe with such 
onset and force that against him resistance 
is useless. As the unarmed, unprepared 
man succumbs to such an opponent, so shall 
the sluggard fall before want. The expres- 
sions, " thy poverty " and " thy want," repre- 
sent the destitution of the sluggard as 
flowing directly from his own habit of self- 
indulgence. It is his in a special manner, 
and he, not others, is alone responsible for 
it. Compare, beside the parallel passage 
ch. xxiv. 33, the similar teaching in ch. z. 
4; xiii. 4; xx. 4. The Vulgate, LXX., 
and Arabic Versions at the close of this 
verse add, " But if thou art diligent, the 
harvest shall come as a fountain, and want 
shall flee far from thee;" the LXX. mak- 
ing a further addition, "as a bad runuer 
(ffi<rirep xaxhs Spofiehs)." It is observable, in 
comparing this section with the preceding, 
that the teacher pursues the subject of the 
sluggard to its close, while he leaves the end 
of the surety undetermined. The explana- 
tion may be in the difference in character 
of the two. The surety may escape ihe 
consequences of his act, but there is no such 
relief for the sluggard. His slothfulness 
becomes a habit, which increases the more 



LOH. VI. 1 — 35. 

it IB Indulged in, and leads to oonsequenceB 
which are as iiremediable as they are 

Vers. 12 — 19. — 11. Eleventh admonitory 
discourse. Warning against miiehievousneis 
as a thing hateful to God. The connection 
of this with the preceding discourse is. not 
at first sight very clear, but it may be found 
in the fact, attested only too unhappily by 
experience, that sloth leads those who in- 
dulge in it to such vices as are next enume- 
rated. The sluggard may develop into a 
treacherous and deceitful man, and even if 
such should not happen, the characteristics 
of the two are nearly allied, and their end is 
much the same. St. Paul, in his First Epistle 
to Timothy, observes this same combination 
of character, and remarks that idlers are | 
"tattlers also and busybodies, speaking j 
things which they ought not " (see 1 Tim. 
vi.'13). The intention of the discourse is 
obviously to dissuade all, and especially the 
young, from the vices, and to preserve them 
from the ruin, of those men of whcm " the 
naughty person and wicked man" is the 

Ver. 12. — A naughty person, a wicked 
man, walketh with a froward mouth. The 
teachdJ begins by stating in general terms 
the nature and character of the man whom 
he now holds up as a warning to others, 
and then proceeds tu point out the various 
features in his conduct and behaviour by 
which he may be known. In concise terms 
he is described as "a naughty person, a 
wicked man." This is pre-eminently his 
character, and the tirst feature in it is that 
Ills life is one of wilful and injurious mis- 
representation of the truth. A nauglity per- 
son, a wicked man. In apposition and 
mutually explanatory. The grammatical 
ariiingement of the sentences which follow, 
each of which is introduced by a participle, 
and is thus co-ordinate to the others, as 
well as the parallel terras, " person " (addm) 
and " man " (isA), determine this apposition. 
So Bertheau and Delitzsch. Others (as 
Zockler, Noyes, Kamph), however, connect 
the second expression with the series of 
characteristics which follow, and render, 
"A worthless person is a deceiver, who," 
etc., but wrongly. A naughty person (He- 
brew, addm b'liyyaal); literally, o man of 
Belial; Vulgate, liomo apostata; LXX., 
avrip Hippav. The word " Belial " is derived 
from b'li, " without," and ydal, " |irofit " (i.e. 
"without profit"), or from b'li and 61, 
■' .yoke " (<.e. " witbaut yoke "), and strictly 

signifies either a worthless or a lawless 
person. The latter derivation is, however, 
rejected by Geseniua and others. Its ab- 
stract signification is worthleasness, use- 
lesBiiess; its concrete or adjectival, worth- 
less. The word " naughty " (Anglo-Saxon, 
ndht, ne aht, " not anything," equivalent to 
" nothing "), in the sense of good-for- 
nothing, ne'er-do-well, adopted in the 
Autliorized Version, exactly reproduces its 
strict etymtdogical meaning. The -word, 
however, always carries with it the idea of 
moral turpitude. In the present instance 
its meaning is determined by the appoai- 
tional phrase, " a man of iniquity," or " a 
wicked man," and such iniquity as takes 
the form of mischief-making, deceit, and 
sowing discord among brethren. The " man 
of Belial" is not therefore simply, as its 
etymological derivation would imply, a 
worthless individual, one who is of no use 
either to himself or to the community at 
large, but a positively wicked, iniquitous, 
and despicable character. The meaning of 
the word varies in other passages. Thus in 
Deut. xiii. 13, where it first occurs, it is 
used to designate those who have fallen 
away into idolatry, and induce others to 
follow their example. In this sense it cor- 
responds with tlie Vulgate, apostata, as 
signifying a defection from the worship of 
the true God. Again, in 1 Sam. i. 16 it 
is applied to the profanation of sacred 
places. When Hannah is accused by Eli 
of drunkenness in God's, house at Shilob, 
she replies, " Count not thine handmaid for 
a daugliter of Belial." In the historical 
books (e.g. Judges, 1 Samuel, 1 Kings, 2 
Chronicles), where it is of frequent oc- 
currence, it has the general meaning of 
" wickedness," under whatever form it ap- 
pears. So in the Psalms (xviii. 4 ; xli. 8 ; 
ci. 3) and Nahum (i. 11, 15). In the Book 
of Job (xxxiv. 18, once only) it is used 
adjectively and as a term of repruach, " la 
it fit to say to a king. Thou art wicked 
[b'liyyadl; i.e. ' worthless ']? " Individuals 
possessing the qualities of wortldessness, 
profanity, or wickedness are designated 
in Holy Scripture either as " sons," " chil- 
dren," "daughters," or "men of Belial." 
The word only occurs in two other passages 
in the Proverbs — ch. xvi. 27 and xix. 28. 
In the New Testament (2 Cor. vi. 15) the 
word " Belial " (Greek, fiexiap or ^eA.Io\) 
appeal s as an appellative of Satan, & irovriph^, 
"the ( vil one," as the representative of all 
that is bad, and as antichrist. A wicked man 
(Hebrew, Is/i acen); literally, o man of 
vanity ur iniquity; Vulgate, vir inutilis; 
LXX., av^p irapdvo/ios. The radical idea 
of oufti (from «n, " nothing ") is that of 
emptiness or vanity, and lias much^ tliere- 
fore, in common with b'liyyaal. Its secondary 

«B. TI. 1—35.1 



mefvning, and that wbioh it usually bears in 
Sof ipture, is iniquity. " A man of iuiquity " 
is pne who is aUogethejc dafioient in moral 
consciousness, and who goes about to work 
wickedness and do hurt and iiyury to others 
(of. ver. 18 and Job xxii. 15). Walheth with 
a froward mntth. His first oharacteristlo, 
as already observed. His whole lift and 
conduct are marked by craftiness, deceit, per- 
Tersion, and roisrepresentfttion, and an utter 
want of truth. « Walking" is here, as else- 
where in Scripture, used of some particuUr 
course of conduct, go we find the LXX, 
paraphrase, irop$uV« iSoiis oi)« B7a9tij, " he 
enters or walks not in good ways." With a 
froward mouth (Hebrew, ih'shuth p^h); 
literally, wilA perversity of mouth; Vulgate, 
ore perversa, Symmaohus has vrpeSKti- 
Itaai (rrd/iaro;, " with perversity of mouth." 
The mouth, or speech, is the vehicle by 
which this person giveg outward expres- 
sion to the evil thoughts which are inwardly 
filling his heart. The phrase occurs before 
in ch. iv. 24. Tlie meaning of the passage 
is well illustrated in Ps. x. 7, " His mouth 
is full of misery, deceit, and fraud : under 
his tongue is mischief and vanity." 

Ver. 13. — He winketh with his eyes, he 
speaketh with his feet, he teaoheth with his 
fingers. He employs his other members 
for the same nifarious purpose. In the 
language of St. Paul, he yields his members 
to uncleanness, and to iniquity unto iniquity 
(RoMi. Ti, 19), " To wink with tlie eye (Jca- 
rats dyln)," as in ob. s;. 10 ami Ps. xxxv. 19, 
or " with tlje eyes (karats b'eynayim)," is pro- 
perly to compress or nip them together, and 
so to wink, and give the signal to others not 
to interfere (Gesenius and Delitzsch) ; cf, 
the LXX-, ivvfiei hipSaXfi^ ; and the Vul- 
gate, annuit ocuUs. Aquila and Thcodoret, 
however, read, Kcffei, " he ver,es or annoys," 
The obsei'vation of the teacher in ch. x. 
10 is, "He that winketh with his eyes 
causeth sorrow." The same verb Itdruta is 
also used of the compression or closing of 
the lips in ch. xvi. 30. Ee epeaketh with his 
feet; i.e. ho conveys signs by them to his 
companion i cf. the LXX., (rriiiflyei Sh 
iroSl, and the Vulgate, terit pede, which 
conveys much the same meaning. He 
teaoheth with his fingers ; or, as more fully 
expressed in the LXX., SiSticncci S^ ivveinain 
SaicTi\wy, " he teaoheth by the signs of his 
fingers." Symmaohus has SoKTuAoSeiKTwy, 
whioli, however, in its strictly classical use 
(see Demosthenes, 790. 20) is pointing at 
with the finger. "Teacliing" is only the 
secondary meaning of the Hebrew participle 
mdrgh, which is here used. The verb ydi ah, 
to which it belongs, means properly to ex- 
tend or stretch out the hand for the purpose 
of pointing out tlie way (compaj? the 
Hewew shdiahh yod, and the Latin mon- 


««we),and henoe came to mean "to tettBh,»^^ 
ihe crafty and deceitful character which is 
bere presented to us is strikingly reproduq«d 
jn Eoolesiastmug; "He that winketh wi* 
Oie eyes worketh evil : and he that knowetb 
mm will depart ftom him, wiien thou art 
pre^ient, he will spouk sweetly, and will 
admire thy words i but at the last he will 
writhe his mouth, and slander tliy, 
1 have hated many things, but nothing like 
bun J for the Lord will hate him " (Ecflus 
xxvii. 82-24). The heathen poet N»vins 
says of the impudent woaian-^ 
" Alium tenet, alii adnutat, alibi manns 
Est oceupata : est alii percellit pedem." 

Compare also Ovid's words (' Amor,,' i, ix 

" 01am mihi tange pedem : 
Me specta, mntusque meos, vultumnne 

Verba euperciliis sine voce loquentia dicam j 
Verba leges digitis.'' 

So TibuUus, i. 12— 

" Ilia viro coram nutus conferre loqnaces 

Blandaque oompositis abdere verba notis." 
The lesson which we may learn from this 
verse is not to abuse the members of our 
bodies, by employing them for the purposes 
of deceit and hypocrisy, and so to promote 
evil, but to put them to thehr natural and 
legitimate use. 

Ver. 14.— From these external features 
the teacher passes to the heart, the seat of 
all this mischief and deceit. In this respect 
we observe a striking correspondence with 
tho method adopted by our Saviour in his 
teaching, who referred everything to the 
heart, as the true seat of all that was gond 
or bad in man. Jrowarduess is in his heart 
(Hebrew, tah'pUhdth b'libbo); i.e. his heart is 
full of perverse imaginations, it is there 
he nourishes his jealousy, his hatred, his 
malice, his ill will. It is there, too, he 
deviseth misqhief continnaUy. "Devising 
mischief" carries us one step further back 
in the history of evil. It is this feature, 
this deliberate premeditation to plot mis- 
chief and to devise means to curry it into 
execution, which makes the character of the 
man simply diabolical. He makus his lieart 
as it were the workshop wherein he tUbri- 
cates and prepares his vi Ualny. The Hebrew 
hhdrash (to which the participle hhSresh 
belongs) is equivalent to the Vulgate ma- 
ehinari, and the LXX. reKTaiyoinai, " to 
fabricate, devise, plot." (See eh. Hi. 29 and 
ver. 18 ; and cf. Ps. xxxvi. 4, " He deviseth 
mischief upon his bed.'') The LXX. com- 
bines the two statements in one proposition ; 
"A perverse heart deviseth evil at all 



[oh. VI, 1 — 35. 

times." Similarly the Vulgate, which, how- 
ever, joins "continually" (Hebrew, b'hol- 
elh; Vulgate, omni tempore) to the second 
hemistich, thus : " And at all times he 
BOWS diucord (et omni tempore jurgia semi- 
nal)." He soweth discord (Hebrew, mid'- 
ydnim (Keri) y'shalUalih) ; literally, he sends 
forth (i.e. excites) strife ; or, as the margin, 
he easteth forth strife. The Keri reading 
mid'ydnim, for the Kbetib m'ddnim, is pro- 
bably, as Hitzig suggests, derived from 
Gen. xxxvii. a6. The phrase occuis again 
as shllldkh m'ddnim in ver. 19, and as shll- 
lakh mddSn in cli. xvi. 28 (cf. oh. x. 12). This 
is the culminating point in the character of 
the wicked man. He takes delight in break- 
ing up friendship and in destroying concord 
among brethren (see yet. 19), and thus 
destroys one of the most essential elements 
for promoting individual happiness and the 
welfare of the community at large. This 
idea of the community is introduced into 
the LXX., which reads, "Such an one 
brings disturbance to the city (6 roaovros 
rapaxas avviffrijirt ir6\€i).** The motive 
cause may be either malice or self interest. 
Ver. 15. — Therefore shall his calamity 
oome suddenly ; suddenly shall he he broken 
without remedy. Great sins, as Muffet, 
in Joe., observes, have great punishments; 
neither only great, but sudden. Therefore ; 
Hebrew, al-ken. A Nemesis or retribution 
awaits this man of malice and deceit. His 
calamity or destruction is represented as 
the direct result of, as flowing forth from, 
what he has done. If is calamity; Hebrew, 
eydd. On eyd, see oh. i. 26. Shall come 
tuddenly; i.e. sooner than he anticipates; 
when he thinks his diubolical plans are 
gucceediug, then suddenly his victims will 
discover his fraud and malice, and will rise 
and inflict the punishment which is his due. 
Huddenly ; pgthS, a variation of plthdm just 
used. ShaLl he be hrohen; Hebrew, ylsh- 
ehdvSr ; Vulgate, conteretur. The verb 
shdvdr, "to break," "to break to pieces," 
is used of ships which are wrecked (Isa. xiv. 
29 ; Ezek. xxvii. 34 ; Jonah i. 4) ; of an army 
which is defeated and dispersed (Dan. xi. 
22; 2 Chrou. xiv. 12); of tlje destruction of 
a kingdom, city, or people (Ita. viii. 15 ; Jer. 
zlviii. 4) ; and of the complete prostration 
of the spirit of man by affliction (Ps. xxxiv. 
19) ; and as such, in the passage before us, 
conveys the idea of the complete ruin of this 
man. It is a destruction tiiat shall break 
him up. Without remedy (Hebrew, v'eyn 
mar'pS; lilerally, and there is no remedy. 
There shall be, as Fleischer, as it were, no 
means of recovery for his shattered members. 
His destniction shall be irremediable, or as 
the LXX., a awTpt^-f] avfai^ros, a contritio 
insanihilis; or as the Vulgate, nee habehit 
ultra medicinam. The idea seems to be 

taken from the shattered fragments of • 
potter's vessel, which it is impossible to re- 
unite. So in the case of the man whose life 
has been one of fraud, deceit, and malice, 
there is for him no hope of any recovery. 
The language may seem exaggerated, but 
the picture is painted with this high colour- 
ing to exhibit a strong deterrent to such a 
line of conduct, and further, it may be re- 
marked that, in the present day, only the 
most confiding would again put trust in a 
man who has wilfully and maliciously 
deceived them (of. Isa. xxx. 14). The 
second humistich of this verse occurs again 
verbatim in ch. xxix. 1. 

Ver. 16. — The whole structure and 
arrangement of the thoughts which occur 
in Vers. 16 — 19 clearly show that this 
is not an independent section, but one 
closely allied to that which has just pre- 
ceded. The object is to show that 
those evil qualities of deceit- and malice 
which are disastrous to man are equally 
odious in the sight of Jehovah, and con- 
sequently within the scope of the Divine 
displeasure. These six things doth the Lord 
hate : yea, seven are an abomination unto 
him. The use of the numerical proverb, 
though common to the gnomic liteiature of 
Persia and Arabia, as Umbreit shows, is by 
our author confined to this single instance. 
Other examples occur in our book in the 
words of Agur the son of Jakeh (see ch. 
XXX. 7—9, 24—28), and the midda, the 
name given by later Jewish writers to this 
form of proverb, is observable in the apo- 
cryplial Book of Ecolesiasticus (see xxiii. 
16 ; XX. 7 and ixvi. 5—28). When, as in 
the present instance, two numbers are given, 
the larger number corresponds with the 
things enumerated. So in Job v. 19. In 
Amos i. and ii., however, there is an excep- 
tion to this rule, where the numbers appear 
to be used indefinitely. As to the origin of 
the numerical proverb, the most probable 
explanation is that given by Hitzig and 
adopted by Zockler, namely, that it is due 
to the exigencies of parallelism. The author 
first adopts one number optioimlly, aud then 
a second is employed as a parallel to it. 
Here, however, the number determined on 
in the writer's mind is the larger number 
seven, and the smaller number six is used as 
a rhetorical pandlel. An examination of 
the following verses will show that the 
seven exuctly measures the things which 
are described as odious to the Lord. Tlie 
Authorized Version, so far as the numbers 
are concerned, exactly represents the origi- 
nal, which, by the use of the cardinal 
number " seven " (shgvd), and not the 
ordinal " seventh," which would be sh'vii, 
shows that the things enumerated are equally 
an abomination in God's sight. .The yiew^ 

OH. VI. 1 — 35,] 



therefore, that the seventh vice is odiong 
to God in an especial degree above the 
others, is untenable, thougli it has found 
defenders in Lowensteiu, Bertheau, and 
Von Gerlach, and is supported by the 
Vulgate, Sex sunt quse odit Dominus, et 
teplimum detestatur anima ejus. All the 
seven things are execrable, all are eq unlly 
objects of the Divine abhorrence. Besides, 
we cannot imagine that the yice of sow- 
ing discord among brethren, of yer. 19, is 
more odious to God than the crime of shed- 
ding innocent blood of ver. 17. Unto him 
(Hebrew, naph'sho) ; literally, of his sovi. 

Ver. 17. — The enumeration begins with 
pride. A proud look (Hebrew, eynayim 
rdmSth); literally, haughty or lofty eyes, as 
in the margin; Vulgate, oculos siiblimes; 
LXX., o(/)flaAjnbs uPpiffTov. It is not merely 
the look which is meant, but the temper of 
mind which the look expresses (Wardlaw). 
The lofty look is the indication of the 
swelling pride which fills the heart, the 
mentis elatsB tumor, the supreme disdain, 
grande supereilium, for everything and 
everybody. Pride is put first, because it is 
at the bottom of all disobedience and rebel- 
lion against God's laws. It is the very 
opposite of humility, which the apostle, in 
Eph. iv. 2, mentions as the basis, as it were, 
of all the virtues. All pride is intended, 
and the face of the Lord is against this 
pride. He "resisteth the proud;" he 
" knoweth them afar off; " he " hath respect 
unto the lowly ; " he " will bring down high 
lo.iks" (Ps. xviii. 27); he judgeth those 
that are high (Job xxi. 22). It is against 
this spirit that Job prays Jehovah " to be- 
hold every one that is proud, and abase 
him," and "to look upon every onethat is 
proud, and bring him low " (Job xl. 11, 12). 
The next thing in the enumeration is a 
lying tongue. Lying is hateful to God, 
because he is the Gud of truth. In a con- 
cise form the expression, "a lying tongue," 
represents what has been already said in 
vers. 12 and 13 of " the wicked man" who 
"walks with a fro ward mouth," and whose 
conduct is made up of deceit Lying is 
the wilful perversion of truth, not only by 
speech, but by any means whatever whereby 
a false impression is conveyed to the mind. 
The liar " sticks not at any lies, flatteries, 
or calumnies" (Patrick). Lying is else- 
where denounced as the subject whiuh 
excites the Divine displeasure (see Ps. v. 6; 
cxx. 3, i; Hos. iv. 1—3; Rev. xxi. 8, 27); 
and in the early Christian Church, in the 
case of Ananias and Sapphira, it was 
punished with death. Ou the subject of 
lying, see St. Augustine, 'Enchiridion,' o. 
xviii., wherein he says, " Mihi autem videtur 
peccatum quidem esse omne mendacium." 
Everj lie u a sin. The third thing is 

hands that shed innocent blood, i.e. a mur- 
derous and cruel disposition, which, rather 
than have its plans frustrated, will imbue 
the hands with innocent blood, i.e. the 
blood of those who have done it no injury. 
The Divine command is, "Thou shalt do no 
murder," and those who break it will find, 
even if they escape man, that the Lord 
is "the avenger of blood," and thtt he 
" maketh inquisition " for it (cf. ch. i. and 
ii., and Isa. lix. 7, which bear a close resem- 
blance to this passage). That the shedding 
of innocent blood cries for vengeance, and 
pulls down God's heavy judgments on the 
murderer, appears in the case of Cain and 
Abel (Muffet). 

Ver. 18. — The fourth thing is an heart that 
deviseth wicked imaginations. " Wicked 
imaginations" are literally "thoughts of 
iniquity;" Hebrew, mdhh'sh'vSth avin; 
Vulgate, cogitationes pessimas; LXX., 
\oyi<r)io)is KaKobs. The same expression in 
Isa. lix. 7 is rendered "thoughts of ini- 
quity." (On deniseth, Hebrew khoresh, see 
ver. 14 and ch. iii. 29.) The thought is a 
repetition of ver. 14a. There are evil 
thoughts in all men's hearts ; but the devis- 
ing, fabricating of them, and thus making 
the heart into a devil's workshop, is the 
mark of utter depravity and wickedness, 
and is abhorrent to God. The devices of 
the heart, though planned in secret, are 
clear to him " to whom all hearts are open, 
all desires known, and from whom no secrets 
are hid." The peculiar position which the 
heart occupies in the enumeration is to be 
accounted for on the ground that it is the 
fountain, not only of those vices which have 
been already mentioned, but of those which 
follow. The fifth thing is feet that be 
swift in running t6 mischief. Again we are 
reminded of Isa. lix. 7, " Their feet run to 
evil." "Mischief" (Hebrew, rd) is a re- 
echo of ver. 14 and oh. i. 16. "To run to 
mischief" is to carry out with alaojity and 
without delay what has already been devised 
in the heart. It implies more than falling 
or sliding into sin, which is common to all. 
It denotes, Cornelius li Lapide remarks, 
" inexplebilem sceleris aviditatem, et desti- 
natum studium." 

Ver. 19. — The sixth thing is perjury. A 
false witness tliat speaketh lies; literally, 
he that breathes out, or utters, lies as a false 
witRBss. So the Vulgate, proferentem men- 
daeia testem fallacem. The Hebrew puakh 
is "to breathe," "to blow," and in the 
hiph. form, which is used here Qjdphtdkh, 
hiph. future), it is " to blow out " or " utter," 
either in » bad sense, as in the present 
instance, and in ch. vi. 19; xiv. 5; xix. 5, 
9 (cf. Ps. X. 5; xii. 5); or in a good sense, 
" to utter the truth," as inch. xii. 17. Lies} 
Hebrew, VzdiAm, plural of hazdv, "false- 



[oh. ti. 1 — 35. 

hood," "lying" (of. ch. xxL 28). A false 
witness (Hebrew, id-k'zavim), as in margin, 
"a witness of lies." The expression, "as 
a false 'nitneaa," as it apprars in the original, 
is explanatory, and indicates the particular 
aspect under which the speaking of lies ia 
regarded. Lying in its more general sense 
has been already spoken of in ver. 17. The 
vice which is here noted as odious to God 
is expressly forbidden in the moral code, 
" Thou shalt not bear false witness against 
thy neighbour " (Bxod. xx. 16). But this, 
thougli the chief, is only one view of the 
ease. Perjury may be employed, not only 
in ruining the innocent, but also in screen- 
ing the guilty. " Much hurt," says Muffet, 
in loo., "doth the deceitful and lying witness, 
for he corruptetli the judge, oppresseth the 
innocent, suppresseth the truth, and in the 
courts of justice sinneth against his own 
soul and the Lord himself most grievously." 
" He that apeaketli lies as a false witness," 
again, may be the vile instrument in the 
hands of unscrupulous and inexorable ene- 
mies, as those employed against our Lord 
and Stephen. Perjury, too, destroys the 
security of communities. The shipwreck 
of society which it occasions may be seen 
in the frightful misery which ensued wlien 
the system of delatores was not only counte- 
nanced, but encouraged under the Roman 
empire. Truly speaking, he that lies as a 
false witness must be liateful to God. And 
he that aoweth discord among brethren ; the 
seventh and last thing in the enumeration, 
but not, as Delitzsch holds, the ne plus 
ultra of all that is hated of God. It closes, 
as in ver. 14, the series, but witli the addi- 
tion •* among brethren ; " thus emphatically 
stigmatizing the conduct of that man as 
diabolical who destroys the harmony and 
unity of those who ought to live together 
iu brotherly affection, and who disturbs the 
peace of communities. 

Vers. 20— 35.— 12. Twelfth admonitory dis- 
course. In this the teacher returns again to 
the subject which he has already treated in 
the eighth discourse. The extreme ten- 
dency of men, and especially young men, to 
sins of impui'ity is no doubt, as Delitzsch 
remarks, the reason why this subject is again 
resumed. The subject is gradually worked 
up to the preceding admonitions in vers. 20 
—23, pointing out that the way of life, the 
way of safety, is to be secured by obedience 
to the precepts of parents, whose command- 
mentand law illumine the perilousroad of life, 
and whose reproofs are salutary to the soul. 
The argaments against the sin of adultery 
are cogent in theii dissuaaiveneas, and none 

atronger of a pxirely temporal nature could 
be devised. It may be objected that the sin 
is not put forward in the higher light, as ao 
offence before God, and that the appeal is 
made simply on the lines of self-interest j 
but who will deny that the sc.ipe of the 
teaching is distinctly moral, or tliat mankind 
is not influenced and dissuaded from ain by 
such a category of evils as includes personal 
beggary, dishonour, and death ? 

Ver. 20. — The first part of this verse is 
couched in almost the same terms as that 
of ch i. 8, except that mitifralh, "i.rcoept," 
preceptum, is here used instead of musar, 
eruditio, or " disciplinary instruction," while 
the latter part of the two vcises are iden- 

Ver. 21. — Thia verse recalls also ch. iii. 3, 
and reminds us of thi; use of the phylacteries, 
or tefelUm, common among the Jews of our 
Lord's time, and the practice of binding 
which upon various parts of the person may 
have had its origin in this and such like 
passages. The "tying about" the neck may 
suggest the use of amulets, an Oriental cus- 
tom, to ward off evil, but it is more likely 
that it refers to the wearing of ornaments. 
Them; i.e. the commandment and law ot 
father and mother respectively, expressed in 
the Hebrew by the suffix -Sm, in the verb 
hosh'rtm,, equivalent to liga ea, and again 
in Sndem, equivalent to vinei ea. (For the 
persotial use of this figure, see Cant. viii. 6.) 
Tie them ; Hebrew, Ondem. The verb anad, 
" to tie," only occurs twice as a verb^here 
and iu Job xxxi. 3U. Leo prefer* " to bind ; " 
Delitzsch, however, states that it is equiva- 
lent to the Latin circumplieare, "to wind 
about." The meaning of this and similar 
passages (cf. ch. vii. 3 ; Exod. liii. 9 ; Deut 
vi. 8 ; xi. 13) is that the commandment, 
precept, law, or whatever is intended, should 
be always present to the mind. The heart 
suggests that they are to be linked to the 
affections, and the neok that they will be 
an ornament decking the moral character. 

Ver. 22.— The going, sleeping, and awak- 
ing occur in the same order in the Penta- 
teuch, from which the ideas of this and the 
preceding verse are evidently derived (aee 
Deut. vi. 7 and xi. 19). Though only 
specifying three conditions, they refer to the 
whole conduct of life, and hence the verse 
promises direction, guardianship, and con- 
verse of wisdom, which will undoubtedly 
attend life where the precepts of parents 
are lovingly treasured and obediently ob- 
served. The Authorized Version conveys 
the impression that it ia "the keeping" 
of the parents' precepts, etc., which is to 
bear such results ; but it ;g bettei j» iuM!<ir< 

«. Tt. 1—85.] 

The peoveebs. 


•tand "it" RB eignifying the whole teaching 
or doctrine of wisdom, as Deli(Z3oh. Wisdom 
becomes personified in the representation, 
and identified with lier teaching. It shall 
lead thee. The Hebrew verb ndlthdh, " to 
lead," in the sense of "to direct," like the 
Latin dirigere (Delitzsoh), and as it is used 
in Exodus and Numbers, pasgim. In the 
Psalms (v. 9 ; xxvii. 11 ; xxxi. 4, etc.) it is 
employed of God as governing men. Hence, 
in the affairs of life. Wisdom will so guide 
and control us that we shall act uprightly. 
There is the further notion imported into 
the word of preservation from evil (of. oh. 
iii. 23, " Thou shalt walk in thy way safely, 
and thy foot shall not stumble"). When thou 
sleepest; or, when thou liest down, as in 
ch. iii. 24, where the same verb occurs. It 
shall keep thee ; i.e. watch over, keep safe, 
or preserve; as in the Vulgate, custodire, 
and the LXX. ^u\arTeTv. We have had 
the same verb, shdnidr, before in ch. ii. 11. 
Wisdom will be as it were a guardian angel 
in our hours of repose. When thou awakest ; 
Hebrew, hakitsdthd, the hipli. perfect of kutz. 
This word only occurs here. The hiph. 
form, hekitz, is intransitive, " to be arou&ed " 
(of. the LXX., iyapa/iiy^). It shaU talk 
with thee; rather, she. Bertheau renders, 
"She will make thee thoughtful;" and 
Dathe, " Let them be thy meditation ; " but 
the accusative suffix designates the person 
who is the object of the action of the verb, 
ag in Pa. v. 5 ; xlii. 4 ; Zeoh. vii. 5 (Zookler) 
and as Delitzsch remarks, the personification 
requires something more than a mere medi- 
tation with one's self on the precepts of 
Wisdom. Wisdom herself shall hold con- 
verse with thee (cf. the LXX., (rv\\a\f aai), 
she shall suggest thoughts how thou art to 
behave thyself. The meaning of the verb, 
"to meditate," "to think deeply," however, 
need not be lost sight of. 

Ver. 23. — For the commandment is a 
lamp ; and the law is light. The teacher 
takes np the words "commandment" (He- 
brew, naUrdh)aai "law" (Hebrew, tSrdh) 
from ver. 20, which he describes respectively 
as " a lamp " and " light." The " comma' id- 
ment" is any special or particular com- 
mandment which harmonizes with God's 
Will, and commands what is to be done and 
forbids what is to be left undone. The 
" law " is the whole law of God in its en- 
tirety; not here the Law of Moses techni- 
cally, btlt the whole system of generalized 
instruction. They stand, therefore, in the 
same relation to each other as "a lamp" 
and "light," the one being particular, and 
the other general. "Light" (Hebrew, 6r) 
is light in general, as the light of the' day 
and the sun, while " a lamp " (Hebrew, nir, 
from nur, " to shine ") is a particular light 
like that of a candle, which is enkindled at 

some other source. The "commandment" 
anil the "law" alike enlighten the con- 
science and enable one to walk in his way 
of life. On this passage Le Olero remarks, 

'Ut in tenebris luoerna, aut fax ostendit 
nobis, qua eundum sit: in ignorantio hu- 
manse caligine, qusa nos per hano totam 
vitam cingit, revelatio divina nos docet, quid 
sit faciendum, quid vitandum." So the 
psalmist says in Ps. xii. 8, "The command- 
ment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the 
eyes ; " and again in Ps. cxix. 105, " Thy 
Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light 
unto my path;" i.e. they direct and show 
the true way of faith and life (Gejenis). 
The "commandment" and the "law" may 
stand for the whole revelation of God with- 
out reference to any particular precept (as 
Soott), but they have here a specific bearing 
on a particular form of human Conduct, as 
appears from the following verses. And 
reproofs of instruction are the way of Ufa. 
Meproofa of instruction ; Hebrew, toVlcMlh 
musdr, disciplinary reproofs, «'.«. reproofs 
whose object is the discipline of the soul 
and the moral elevation of the character. 
The LXX. reads, ko! iheyxos koI iraiSeta; 
tlius connecting it with education in its 
highest sense. Such reproofs are a way of 
life (Hebrew, dergk Jchayyim), i.e. they lead 
to life; they conduce to the prolongatiuu 
of life. This view of the subject, so promi- 
nent in the mind of the teacher in other 
passages (cf. oh. iii, 2 and 19), must not be 
lost sight of, though the words are suscep- 
tible of another interpretation, as indicating 
that the severest reproofs, inasmuch as tlicy 
correct errors and require obedience, conduce 
to the greatest happiness (Patrick). Or 
again, it may mean that disciplinary re- 
proofs are necessary to life. The soul to 
arrive at perfection must undergo them as 
part of the conditions of its existence, and, 
consequently, they are to be submitted to 
with the consciousness that, however irksome 
they may be, they are imposed for its even- 
tual benefit (of. Heb. xii. 5). But this in- 
terpretation is unlikely from what follows. 

Ver. 24. — To keep thee from the evil 
woman. The speciiie object to whicli the 
discourse was tending. The "command- 
ment " and the " law " illuminate the path 
of true life generally, but in a special degree 
they, if attended to, will guard the young 
against sins of impurity, fornication, and 
adultery. Tlie evil woman (Hebrew, eshSlh 
ra) ; strictly, a woman of evil, or vilenesa, or 
of a wicked disposition, addicted to evil in 
an extraordinary degree; ra being here a 
substantive standing in a genitive relntion 
to Ifheth, as in ch. ii. 12, " The Way of evil 
(dmk rd)." Cf. also tdh'pultdth rd, per- 
verstate) mali (ch. ii. 14), and makh'sh'volh 
rd, cogitationes mali (ch. xv. 26), and dn'iltif 



[oh. VI. 1—35. 

ra, ri'rf malt (ch. xxviii. 5). The Vulgate, 
1j. wever, gives au adjectival foreo to ra, 
reudeiing, o muliere mala. The LXX. dvd 
yvvaiicbs wrdfSpoVt i.e. " from the married 
woman," arises from reading red, "a oom- 
pimion," for rd, "evil." From the flattery 
of the tongue of a Btrange woman ; i.e. from 
her enticements; Hebrew, mekliH'ltath la'- 
eli6n nSk'riyyah; literally, " from the smooth- 
nesa of a strange tongue," as in the margin. 
Zockler, however, proposes an emendation of 
the Masoretic text, and substitutes the con- 
struct case, I'shon, for the absolute, ldsh6n, 
rendering as in the Authorized Version, 
on the ground that the emphasis lies, not on 
the " tongue," which would be the case if 
we render "of a strange tongue," but on 
"the strange woman," who is the subject of 
tlio discourse, as in ch. ii. 16 and v. 20. But 
nolc'riyyah is feminine of the adjective nok'ri, 
and in agreement with laehSn, which, though 
common, is more frequently ieminine (Gese- 
nius), and hence the two words may stand 
in agreement. The marginal reading is to 
be preferred (Wordsworth). Again, mS- 
khgl'kdth, the construct case of khgl'kdh, lite- 
rally, "smoothness," and metaphorically flat- 
teiy, with the prefix me, forms one member 
of the phrase, while the compound expres- 
sion, Idshdn nok'riyyah, forma the second. 
Ewald and Bertheau render, "from the 
smooth-tongued, the strange woman," thus 
connecting mekh^'kath Idshdn, and regarding 
ndk'riyyah as a separate and distinct idea. 
They agree with SymmachusandTlieodotion, 
arrh Keioy\:iffaov ^fvTis, i.e. "from the smooth- 
tongued or flattering stranger." So the Vul- 
gate, a blandd lingua extranese, i.e. from the 
smooth tongue of the strange woman. The 
LXX. agaia favours the marginal reading, 
Airh SmPo\tjs y\di(raiis aWorpIas, " from the 
slander of a strange tongue." So the Chiil- 
dee Paraphrase. The Syriac reads, "from 
the accusation of a woman of a strange 
tongue," i.e. who uses a foreign language. 
If, however, the Authorized Version be re- 
tained, the Hebrew nSk'riyydh will, as in 
other passagea, mean "an adulteress" (Gese- 
nins); ch. v. 20; vii. 5; xxiii. 27. Under 
any circumstances, we have here attributed 
to the tongue what, in fact, belongs to the 
woman. It is against the enticements and 
blandishments of a woman of depraved 
moral character that the " commandment " 
and " law " form a safeguard to youth. 

Ver. 25. — Lust not after her beauty in 
thine heart. The admonition of this verse 
embraces the two sides of the subject— the 
external allurement and the iiiteinal predis- 
position to vice. Lust not after (Hebrew, 
al-ldkli'mfid); strictly, desire not, since the 
verb khdmdd is properly " to desire, or covet." 
The same verb is used in Exod. xx. 17, 
•' Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife," 

and xxxiv. 24, "Neither shall any man 
desire thy land " (of. Micah ii. 2 and oh. 
xii. 12). In Ps. Ixviii. 19 ; Isa. i. 29 ; liii. 2, 
it has the sense of taking delight in any- 
thing. It may be questioned whether it 
ever has the strong meaning given in the 
Vulgate (non eoncupiscaf) and adopted in 
the Authorized Version, "to lust after" 
(Holden). Aquila, Theodotion, and Sym- 
maohus render /tjj iiriBv/Jiaris. The use of 
khdmdd here reveals the warning of the 
Decalogue. In thine heart ; Hebrew, hll'vd- 
vSkd. corresponding to the iv rf KapS'uf airov 
of Matt. V. 28. The admonition is a warn- 
ing to repress the very first inclinations to 
unchaste desires. They may be unobserved 
and undetected by others, but they are 
known to ourselves, and the first duty of 
repressing them calls for an act of deter- 
mination and will on our part. Our Lord 
teaches (Maft. v. 28, cited above), "That 
whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after 
her hath committed adultery with her 
already in his heart." The LXX. reading 
is M'^ 0-6 vixiiari KdiWovs kmBv/iia, " Let not 
the desire of beauty conquer thee." Neither 
let her take thee with her eyelids ; i.e. do 
not let her captivate thee with her aHiorous 
glances. Take. The Hebrew verb, Idlidkh, 
is " to captivate " with blandishments, " to 
allure, beguile" (cf. ch. xi. 30); LXX., 
/ijJSe dypevOris. With her eyelids (Hebrew, 
h'dph'dppgydh'); or perhaps more literally, 
with her eyelashes (Zockler). The eyelids ; 
Hebrew, dph'dppayim, dual of aph'aph, so 
called from their rapid, volatile motion, are 
here compared with nets, as by Philostratua 
(' Epistles : ' rvyaiKi), who speaks of " the 
nets of the eyes (tA twi' aiiiiiTuv SUrva)." 
Tlie eyelids are the instruments by which 
the amorous woman beguiles or catches her 
victims. She allures him by her glances. 
So St. Jerome says, " The eye of an harlot 
is the snare of her lover." The wanton 
glance is expressed in the Vulgate by nutibiu 
alius ; of. " The whoredom of a woman may 
be known in her haughty looks and eye- 
lids " (Eeclua. xxvi. 9). Milton (' Paradise 
Lost,' xi. 620) speaks of the daughters of 
men "rolling the eye," amongst other 
things, in order to captivate the sons of God. 
Piscator and Merceriis understand the eye- 
lids as standing metonymically for the 
beauty of the eye ; and Bayne, for the 
general adornment of the head in order to 
attract attention. Allusion may possibly be 
made to the custom of Eastein women 
painting the eyelids to give brilliancy and 
expression; cf. 2 Kinga ix. 30 (Words- 
worth). A striking parallel to the verse 
before us occurs in Propertius, lib. i. ' Eleg.' 
i., " Cynthia prima suis miserum me cepit 

Ver. 26. — For by means of a whorish 

OH. VI. 1 — 35.] 



woman a man is biongMto apiece of bread. 
From this verse onwards to the end of the 
chapter the discourse consists of a series of 
arguments, each calculated to deter youth 
from the sins of fornication and adultery, by 
exhibiting the evil consequences of such 
indulgeuce. The first is the poverty and 
extreme beggary to which a man is brought. 
For by means of; Hebrew, ki v'ad. Lee 
gives the preposition vadd the force of 
"after," i.e. after associating with. The 
radical idea of the preposition is that of 
nearness, by, near, and easily passes to that 
of " because " (Gesenius) or " by means of," 
as in the Authorized Version. It is here 
used for per, "through," aa in Josh. ii. 15; 
2 Sam. XX. 28, and so indicates the transit 
through the way of fornication to extreme 
beggary (Gejerus). A whorish woman; 
Hebrew, ishsMh x6n£h; Vulgate, teortum; 
LXX., wipm ; " a harlot," here correspond- 
ing to " the adulteress " (esMfh IsK), since 
the root zdnah, " to commit fornication," is 
attributed both to married and unmarried 
women (Gen, xxxviii. 24; Lev. xix. 29; 
Hos. iii. 3). The word zSndh is sometimes 
written alone, as in Gen. xxxviii. 15 and 
Deut. xxiii. 19. The fuller expression, as 
here, occurs in Lev. xxi. 7 ; Josh. ii. 1 ; Jndg. 
xi. 1. To a piece of bread; Hebrew, ad- 
kiklcdr IdkMm. It will be noticed that there 
is an ellipsis in the Hebrew, which, how- 
ever, may be easily supplied, as in the 
Authorized Version. Delitzsch supplies 
" one Cometh down to ; " so Zookler. " A 
piece of bread" is properly "a circle of 
bread, a small round piece of bread, such as 
is still baked in Italy (pagnottd) and in the 
East (Arabic kurs), here an expression for 
the smallest piece" (Fleischer). The term 
occurs in Bxod. xxix. 23 ; 1 Sam. ii. 36, in 
the latter of which passages it expresses the 
extreme destitution to which the members 
of the house of Eli were to be reduced. As 
illustrating the term, see also ch. xxxviii. 
21 and Bzek. xiii. 19. The LXX. and 
Vulgate singularly render, " For the price 
of a harlot is scarcely that of a bit of bread," 
which may mean, as Castalio, that she is of 
so little value ; but the context is opposed 
to this rendering, where the point brought 
out is not the vile character of the harlot as 
the ruin she inflicts or is the cause of. Be- 
sides, the Hebrew ad does not mean ever 
"scarcely," or " hardly," which the Vulgate 
vix gives to it. And the adulteress will 
hunt for the precious life. The adulteress 
is ishgth ith, literally, "the woman of a 
man," or "a man's wife," as in the margin — 
as, therefore, strictly an adulteress here (of. 
Lev. XX.- 10). Will hunt; Hebrew, tliatmd; 
LXX., dypeiei ; Vulgate, capit. The Hebrew 
verb feijd, "to lie in wait for," "to hunt," 
•Iso signifies " to take, or capture," like the 

Vulgate capere. The rerb In its meta- 
phorical use also occurs in Lam. iii. 52 ; 
Micah vii. 2 ; Ps. cxl. 12, and refers to those 
beguilements resorted to by the adulteress to 
seduce youth. In Ezek. xiii. 18 it carries 
with it the idea of death, and if understood 
in this sense here it may have reference to 
the death-penalty inflicted on adulterer and 
adulteress by the Mosaic Law (Lev. xx. 10), 
and introduces what is said more fully in 
vers. 32, 34, 35. The precious life ; Hebrew, 
ngphSsh y'lcdrdh. The epithet y'lcdrdh is 
appropriately added to nSphSsk, as indicating 
the high value of the life. All is implied 
in the nSphSsh, " the life," moral dignity of 
character, the soul of man. It is the ever- 
existing part of the man, and therefore is 
precious — nothing can exceed it in value. 
Our Lord says (Matt. xvi. 26), "What shall 
a man give in exchange for his soul ? " and 
the psalmist (Ps. xlix. 8), " For the redemp- 
tion of their life is precious." But it is for 
this life, or soul, that the adulteress hunts, 
and which she destroys. Lives of fornication 
and adultery, therefore, carry with them the 
severest penalties, the loss of temporal 
possessions, fbr the enjoyment of a transient 
passion, and far beyond this the loss of life 
both temporal and eternal. We cannot 
imagine a more deterrent warning. 

Ver. 27. — In this and the two following 
verses (28 and 29) the discourse proceeds 
from statement to illustration, and by 
examples of cause and eifect the teacher 
shows " the moral necessity of the evU con- 
sequences of the sin nf adultery " (Dslitzsch). 
The meaning of the verses is plain enough, 
viz. that as it is in vain to suppose that a 
person's garment will not be burnt or his 
feet not be scorched if fire is brought near 
them, so it is equally inconceivable that a 
person indulging in adultery can escape its 
consequences or the retribution that follows. 
The two questions in vers. 27 and 28 imply 
» strong negative, and so prepare for the 
conclusion in ver. 30. Take fire. The 
Hebrew verb kkdthdh signifies "to take 
burning or live coals from the hearth" 
(Piscator); and hence is used here in a 
pregnant sense " to take from the hearth 
and place in " (cf. oh. xxv. 22, " For thou 
wilt take coals [' and heap them : ' Hebrew, 
gglehdlim khdiheh] on his head "). The fuller 
expression is met with in Isa. xxx. 14, " So 
that there shall not be found in the bursting 
of it a sherd to take fire from the hearth 
(Idlih'tdth esh miyydkAd)." The Vnlgate 
renders by absconder e, " to hide : " Numquid 
potest homo dbeeondere ignem ; and the LXX. 
by diroSeic, equivalent to the Latin alligare, 
" to tie or bind fast." Wordsworth explaini 
"to take and heap up, as in a firepan or 
censer." In his bosom; Hebrew, b'ftMyW; 
LXX., iv K6\irtf ; Vulgate, in sinu suo. The 



[cH. VI. 1—85 

word Ichiyk is properly " an undulation " (De- 
litzaoh), not the !aj),but as in the Authorized 
Version here, " the bosom," and " the bosom 
of a garment," as in oh. xvi. 33 ; XTii. 23 ; 
xxl. 14. The answer to the question of this 
and th» next verse is of course a decided 
negative, but we may note that the teaolier 
compares adultery to a burning fire in its 

Ver. 28. — Can one go upon hot coals, etc. ? 
The repeated question is intioduced by im, 
" if," here equivalent to the Latin an, used 
in double questions, as in Gen. xxiv. 21 ; 
Exod. ivii. 7; Judg. ii. 2, etc. Go; i.e. 
walk upon hot coals (Hebrew, al-higgSM- 
Itm) ; literally, upon the hot coals. 'I'lie 
Hebrew gdkMleih is coals thoroughly 
ignited, as in Lev. xvi. 12 and ch. xxv. 22 ; 
different from pgkhdm of ch. xxvi. 21, which 
is "a blaok coal," or, as Gesenius explains, 
charcoal unkindled. Be burned; Hebrew, 
tlkk&elyndh; i.e. be burned or scorched so 
as to leave a mark by buruiiig, as in Isa. 
xliii. 2; this being the force of the verb 
k&vali. The flames of luut will cortainly be 
visited wiUi iiunishment, and with the 
stings of conscience. Job, speaking on this 
very subject, says a deviation from the 
paths of virtue " is a fire that consumeth to 
destruction." And to him who gives way to 
adultery it may be said, in the words of 
Huraee, tliough witli a different application 
from that in which tLey were used by that 
poet, "incedis per ignes suppi. sites cineri 
dolose." " Yon aie walking over lire that lies 
hidden under d. ceitful ashes" (Gejerue). 

Ver. 29. — So he that goeth in to Ml 
neighbour's wife; whosoever touoheth her 
shall not be innocent. It is as great a folly 
to suppose that an adulterer will escape 
punishment as to imagine tliat no injury 
will follow where tiro has been applied. 
Dclitzseh illustrates this verse by a passage 
from Pythagoras's maxim ('Eclog.,' c. 39), Ti) 
€15 TTvp izaX iis yuvalKa t/UTeffe«/ Xffov virapxit, 
Goeth in ; Hebrew, hahha el ; I.e. has inter- 
eouLce with, as in Gen. vi. 4 ; xix. 31 ; 
xxxviii. 9 ; Ps. li. 2. The same in force as 
"touoheth." Shallnot he innooent ; Hebrew, 
lo-yinndlcHh; i.e. poma vacuus, "lxi nipt from 
punishment," or shall be unpunished (De- 
litz. I'h, Ziieklcr, Gesenius) ; of. ch. xi. 21, 
" The wicked shall not be unpunislied (Zo 
ylnnakeh)," as here. The verb nakah signifies 
primarily "to be pure ;" so tlie Vulgate ren- 
ders non erit mnndus, " he will not be pure ; " 
but the LXX. obaei ves the secondary mean- 
ing of the verb, oiiK iBa!a>8iia€rai, non erit »n- 
noxius, "he shall not be let go unpunished," 
from the Alexandrine verb d6u6a. Certain 
and the very heaviest punishment shall 
come upon him (see also oh. ivii. 5 ; Jer. 
xxv. 29 ; xlix. 12). With this explanation 
kgree Gejerus and Vatablus. 

Ver. 30. — The teacher continues his argu. 
ment with another illustration, ttill keeping 
in view his object, which is to show that the 
punishment of the adulterer is a surely 
impending one and severe in its character. 
The argument in vers. 30—33 is one a 
fortiori. If men do not overlook but 
severely punish a crime which has been 
committed under extenuating circumstances, 
much less will they do so where the crime 
is of a much graver character and has 
nothing to excuse it. Theft and adultery 
are brought in to oompai ison. Theft under all 
circumstance.-) is a lesser crime than adultery, 
but here it is minimized to the lowest 
degree. The case of a man is taken who 
steals to satisfy his hunger; the extent of 
the theft cannot be large, but yet he is 
punished, and called upon to make the 
amplest restitution. Much more, does the 
teacher infer, will be the punishment, and 
equally certain, where adultery is in ques- 
tion, and the crime ia of the most heinous 
cliaracter affecting the most precious 
interests, and indulged in from the lowest 
of motives. Men do not despise a thief, 
etc.; i.e. they do not condemn him under 
the circumstances, non grandis est (ttUpa 
(Vulgate), " the fault is not a great one; " 
but they do despise an adulterer — him they 
hold in contempt as (me " who laoketh under- 
standing" and de.strnyeth his own soul (ver. 
32). The verb Jniz has, however, been other- 
wise rendered as "to overlook." Zockler 
and Holden explain, "men do not over- 
look," though the former gives the literal 
sense as "men do not despise." Gesenius 
renders " despise," but explains, " i.e. they 
do not let him go unpunished." Vatablus, 
the Versions, Arise, Montani, and Munsteri, 
Hitzig, Delitzscli, and Gesenius, Stuart, 
Muenscher, and Wordsworth, all agree in 
regarding the proper moaning of the verb 
to be " to despise" or " to treat scornfully." 
The verb bUz, moreover, occurs in this sense 
in ch. i. 7; xi. 12; xiii. 13; xiv. 21; xxiii. 
9 ; and Cant. viii. 1, 7. Michaelis's expla- 
nation is as follows: "although a theft is 
deservedly regarded as infamous in the 
commonwealth, nevertheless, if it be com- 
pared with adultery, it is less wicked." 
The rendering of the LX X., ou eavnaarbv iiv 
oKif Tis K\4im>v, i.e. " it is not a wonder if 
any tliief be tali en," it is difficult to 
reconcile with the text in the original, 
though it may be explained as expressing 
the certainty of arrest which follows theft, 
and thus gives colour to the secondary 
meaning attached to the verb, t'.e. that 
of overlooking. The Syriac and Arabic 
Versions follow the LXX., while the 
Chaldee Paraphrase renders, "It is not a 
matter of surprise if a thief steals," etc. 
His soul; Hebrew, niph'thd. Niphlth Is 

OH. VI. 1—85.] 

tSb proverbs. 


used here for desire, craving, or appetite, as 
in EcolPB. vi. 2,7; Ezek. vii. 19. "To 
nalisfy hig soul" is "to sustain his life." 
Anima, Vulgnto; ^vx^i, LXX. 

Yer. 31. — But if he be taken, he shall 
restore sevenfold. Men do not despise the 
thiL'f, but vet they apprehend him nnd 
insist on fullest restitution. Be found; i.e. 
seized (Delitzscli), or legally convicted 
(Gi j rua). Ue shall restore; i.e. he must re- 
stnri- (Zookler). Delitzsch, hdwever, under- 
stands the future y'shaUm, as potential, "he 
may restore." Sevenfold; Hehvevr, siv'athd- 
yim; LXX., iirTair\d(Tia; Vulgate, septulum. 
On this word Geier remarks, " Hseo vox nul- 
libi in sacris ponitur pio numeio definite;" 
i.e. " It is nowhere put in Scripture for a 
definite number." It is therefore to be under- 
stood indefinitely of complete restitutiim or, 
as it is expiessed in the second and parallel 
clauses, " all the substance of his house." 
The wurd is used in this sense in Gen. iv. 
24; Lev. xxvi. 28; Job v. 19 (Lapide). 
Theft under the Mosaic Law was punishable 
by a fivefold, foui fold, and twofold restitution 
(Kxod. xxii. 1 — 4, 9), and, in the event of 
this not forthcoming, the delinquent was 
to be sold into slavery (Lev. xxv. 39). In 
2 Sam. xii. 6 a fourfold restitution is men- 
tioned, and in the New Testament Zacchseus 
promises to restore fourfold if he could be 
convicted of fraud (Luke xix. 8). In the 
attempts to reooneile the "sevenfold " of our 
passage with the requirements of the Mosaic 
Law, Aben Ezra says that the combined 
penalties for two cases of theft are contem- 
plated, and others that in the time of the 
writer the penalties hiid been increased. 
But proof of this is wanting. Grotius's 
explanation is more curious than correct, 
viz. that if the theft be repeated seven 
times, and he be " taken " seven times, the 
thief should only be punished by being 
forced to make restitution with some 
addition. Both the Greek and Roman law 
demanded a twofold restitution. Selden 
maintains that theft would have been sub- 
jected to the usual punishment (Selden, 
'De Jure Not. et Gent.,' vi. c. 6). We 
may therefore come to the conclusion that 
" sevenfold " is used in the sense indicated 
above. As to any objection which may be 
raised on the score of inconsiitenoy in talk- 
ing of a man making restitution, and giving 
all his substance when he steals to satisfy 
his hunger, it may be remarked tliat he 
need not necessarily be without substance 
of some sort or other, and he could acquire 
subsequently sufficient to satisfy the demand. 
On the question whether a person is justi- 
fied by extreme want in stenling, see Grotius, 
'De Jure Belli et Pacis,' ii. c. 2. § 6; Puffen- 
dorf, ' De Jure Not. et Gent.,' ii. o. 6. § 5; 
Blackstone, ' Commentary,' iv. 2. § 4. 

Ver. 32.— But whoso oommitteth adultery 
with a woman lacketh nnderstandin^. 
The adversative "but" is wanting in the 
original, but is clearly demanded by the which is instituted. The man who 
steals from hunger has a motive for so 
doing, but the adulterer has no such excuse 
for his crime, which is an unwarrantable in- 
vasion of his neighbour's rights. Because 
there are honest ways for satisfying his 
desires, he therefore "lacketh understand- 
ing." Committeih adultery with a woman; 
Hebrew, ndeph XshshSh ; LXX., i iwtxbs ; 
Vulgate, qui adulter est ; i.e. an adultqrer. 
The Hebrew nddph, " to commit adultery," 
is here followed by an accusative, as in 
Lev. XX. 10 and Jer. xxix. 23. Laclceth 
understanding ; Hebrew, hhSsar-UV; deficit 
corde. The verb khdser is "to be devoid 
of anything," "to lack." The expression, 
which occurs again in ch vii. 7 and ix. 4, 
refei s to the brutish and stupid condition to 
which lust has reduced him. Lust has dis- 
placed ri^ht reason. He is expert judicii 
(Syriao), devoid of judgment. Without in- 
telligence, senseless and stupid. In modern 
phraseology, he has taken leave of his senses. 
Both the LXX. and Vulgate have combined 
the two branches of this verse, tlie former 
rendering, " But the adulterer, on account of 
want of intelligence, compasses the loss of 
his life," and the latter, "But the adnlterer, 
on account of want of intelligence, loses his 
life." He that doeth it destroyeth his own 
soul ; or literally, whoso will destroy his life 
he will do this, i.e. adultery. So Arias 
Moiitani, Munsterus, Chaldee Targum. The 
man who commits adultery is a self-murderer. 
The phrase, mdshMlh naph'sho, eorrumpent 
animam suam, may be resolved into the 
concrete " a self-destroyer," as "Delitzsch. 
The following verses seem to indieAte that 
it is the temporal life which is referred to 
in nSphSsh, but the meaning of the term may 
he extended to embrace not only physical 
loss of life, but also moral and spiritual 
loss. By tlie Levitioal Law adultery was 
punished by death: "The man that com- 
mitteth adultery with another man's wife 
. . . the adulterer and adulteress shall 
surely be put to death" (Lev. xx. 10; of. 
Deut. xxii. 22 ; John viii. 4, 5 ; see also 1 
ThesB. iv. 6). 

Ver. 33. — ^A wound and dishonour shall he 
get; and his reproach shall not be wiped 
away. Two other things more immediate 
await the adulterer — personal chastisement 
and loss of reputation. It seems clear that 
"a wound" (Hebrew, nlgdTi, "a stroke" or 
" blow "), used here in the singular, col- 
lectively refers to the corporal punishment, 
which the outrag.rd husband will inflict 
upon the adulterei (Delitzsch, Zockler, 
Lapide). (For the word, see Deot. xvii. 8 



[oh. VI. 1—35. 

xii. 5.) It may also liave reference to the 
punishment inflicted by the Law. In the 
LXX. the idea is expressed by SSivas, i.e. 
" pains," and so aives colour to Lapide's ex- 
planation of " afflictions of every kind " The 
Vulgate gives a moral turn to the meaning, 
and co-ordinates the word with "dishonour: " 
Turpitudinem et ignominiam congregat sibi, 
"Dishorumr is the ignominions treatment he 
will receive on all hands." The second part 
of the verse states that a brand of disgrace 
will be attached to his name which will be 
perpetual, not confined to this life only, but 
extending beyond it, so that men will never 
recall it but with this stigma (Patrick, 
Meroerus). On shall he . . . wiped away 
(Hebrew, tlmmdlc^, the niph. future of 
mdkhah, " to wipe off, or away," and in liiph. 
" to be blotted out," equivalent to the Latin 
delete), see Deut. xxv. 6; Ezek. vi. 6 ; Judg. 
xii. 17. The LXX. renders 4^a\eup8i^a-erat, 
and adds, eis rhv aiava, "for ever." The 
statements of the verse are illustrated by 
Horace, ' Satires,' lib. i. 2. 37, who describes 
the dangers and mishaps which befall the 
adulterer and fornicator. 

" Hie se prsBcipitem tecto dedit ; ille 

Ad mortem otesus : fugiens hie deoidit 

Prsedonum in turbam : dedit hie pro cor- 

pore nummoB." 

Ver. 34. — For jealousy is the rage of a 
man : therefore he will not ■ spare in the 
day of vengeance. The first hemistich is 
adduced as a reason for what has preceded, 
while the concluding hemistich and tlie 
following snd last verses are a deduction 
strengthening what has been stated before, 
and also 'showing that the punishment will 
be inevitable. The general consensus nf com- 
mentators and texts is to connect the two 
hemistiches of this verse. Thus the LXX., 
Mearbs yap Ctjhov dvfihs av^phs avrTJs, ov (p^ifTe- 
rat iv vfiepcf Kplireas, "For the wrath of her 
husband filled with jealousy shall not spare 
in the day of judgment ; " the Vulgate, 
Quia zelus et furor viri non parcel in die 
vindietie, " For the jealousy and rage of 
a man shall not spare in the day of ven- 
geance;" the Syriac, Nam gnia furor mariti 
plenut est zelotypid non parcel in die retribu- 
■ tionis, " For because rnge of a husband is 
full of jealousy he shall not spare in the 
day of retribution." So the Arabic, and 
the Tigurina Vereio, and among the com- 
mentators Durandus. Dathe, Do<lerleiu, 
Holden. But the Rpbrew simply makes 
the statement, M-lilmah Ithamath-gdrer, quia 
telttg excandescentia viri, i.e., as in the 
Authorized Version, " for jealousy is the 
rage of a man ; " ki, equivalent to the Greek 
yap, "foi," and klndh is the subject of the 

sentence. The Hebrew Jctndh is "jealousy" 
as in ch. xxvii. 4, " Who is able to stand 
before envy?" or, aa margin, "jealousy." 
The ordinary copulative verb "is" is best 
understood as connecting the subject and 
the predicate; " the rage of a man," Hebrew 
leatndih-gdvSr, as above, i.e. " the g^low of a 
man's anger" (Delitzsch), or "a man's 
fierce anger " (Zockhr). Jealousy awakens 
and inflames the wrath and anger of a, man or 
husband to its highest pitch. It evokes 
the strongest feelings for revenge. Ifcss; 
Hebrew, gdvKr, equivalent to ish, " a man," 
in opposition to " a wife " — " a husba/iid," as 
here. The woid is chiefly found in poetry. 
Its derivation, from gdear, " to be strong," 
serves to biing out the idea also of the 
intensity or force of the jealousy — it burns 
or rages with all tlie might of the man. 
The latter part of the verse in the Hebrew 
is simply, "and he will not spare (c'Ztf- 
yShh'mol) in the day of vengeance." The 
Authorized Version " therefore " serves to 
bring out the deduction, though it does not 
occur in the original. Be will not spare; 
i.e. the injured husband will not show any 
clemency or mercy to the adulterer, the man 
who has wronged him so deeply. In the 
day of vengeance; Hebrew, h'y&m ndkdm. 
Tlie expression may refer to the time when 
the adulterer is brought before the judges, 
but more probably to every occasion on 
which the husband can eseicise his ven- 
geance. So Gejerus. For the expression, 
cf. Isa. xxxiv. 8, " The day of the Lord's 
vengeance;" Job xx. 28, "The day of his 
wrath ; " and ch. xi. 4, "T'he day of wrath." 
Jealousy is implacable (see Song of Solomon 
viii. 6, " Jealousy is cruel as the grave"). 

Ver. 35. — He will not regard any ransom; 
neither will he rest content, though thoa 
givest many gifts. Ko recompense or 
atonement, nor any gifts however great, 
will buy him off. These are supposed to 
be offered by the adulterer to the enraged 
husband, who, however, will never rest till 
he effects the utter ruin of his injurer. The 
literal rendering of the first hemistich is, 
" He will not accept the face of any ransom." 
The phrase ndsd phanim is equivalent to 
the Greek irpia-oiiraii Xa/iffdveiv, and signifies 
" to give a favourable reception to the out- 
ward expression of any one." The figure 
is taken from lifting up the face of a sup- 
pliant, the radical meaning of the verb 
ndsd being "to take up," "to lift up." 
The ransom; Hebrew, Itdph^r (the word 
usually applied to designate the price of 
redemption, mulct, or fine demanded for 
expiation of a crime; see Exod. xxi. 80; 
XXX. 12; Numb. xxxv. 31, 32); here the 
bribe offered by the adulterer to be let off 
will be altogether rejected, however alluring, 
the word p'ney, " face," carrying with it tha 

OH. VI. 1—35.] 



idea of Bomething reooramecdatory. For 
the expression, ndedphanim, cf. Gen. xix. 21 ; 
xxlL 21 ; Job xiii. 10 ; xlii. 8 ; and Mai. i. 8. 
The LXX. rendering is, Oi!/c IwraWd^eTat 
ciSevhs K^Tpov T^ivfyfipav, "He will not eom- 
mute for any redemption hia enmity." 
Neither will he rest content; literally, and 
he will not he witting; Hebrew, v'U-yov^i; 
LXX., ov^i fi^ SiaXrjflf, "nor may it, i.e. his 
enmity, be dissolved or weakened." (On the 
verb doah, " to consent to," or " to be willing," 
Boe ch. i. 10.) Many gifts, each increasing 
in value, may be offered, but he will not be 
willingto forego hisrightof revenge. Though 
thou givest many gifts. It is noticeable 
that the address, which has been adapted 
to the third person, here becomes personal, 
and so takes up the form originally employed 
in vers. 20—25. A hypothetical case has 
been imagined in vers. 26— 35, but still with 
the thought underlying it ttiat it applies 

to the person addressed. "Though thou 
givest many gifts," or more literally, " though 
thou muUipliest the gift," brings the maltei- 
home to the young man. Gifts; Hebrew, 
ehdleSd, "the gift," is the word usually 
employed to designate tlie bribe offered to 
corrupt a judge (see Exod. xxiii. 8 ; Deut. x. 
17; xvi. 18; xxvii. 25; 1 Sam. viii. 3). 
Here it refers to the money offered to free 
from punishment. The Vulgale gives the 
idea that these gifts or bribes are offered by 
a third party on behalf of the adulterer : 
Nee acquiescet cujusquam precibus, nee sus- 
cipiet pro redemptione dona plnrima. On 
these two last verses Lange remarks, " Just 
as little as tbe adulterer, taken in his 
adultery, is left unpunished by the injured 
husband, so little, yea, even less, will the 
spiritual adulterer remain unpunished of 
the Lord (1 Cor. iii. 17>" 


Vers. 1 — B. — The surety. Our Christian charity may naturally be sHocted at the 
selfishness apparently inculcated by the frequent warnings against giving security for 
others that are scattered up and down the Book of Proverbs. They have done more 
than anything else to lead people to regard the standard of morality of the Proverbs as 
low and worldly. Let us consider the subject from various points of view. 

I. The standard of moealitt of the Book of Pbo verbs is lower than that 
OF TKE New Testament. Let this fact be clearly recognized. Revelation is pro- 
gressive. Doctrine is only revealed by degrees. The same applies to ethics. Such a 
method is most suited to the moral education of the race. A less-advanced people can 
only live up to a less-elevated principle. If the standard be raised too high, it ceases to 
be effective, and becomes like a counsel of perfection, which ordinary people disregard. 
On the other hand, Christians have no excuse for taking refuge in the lower principles 
of an obsolete dispensation. 

II. An exclusive attention to one duty will always militate against other 
DOTIEB. Duties cross and qualify one another. Each taken by itself and pressed to 
its extreme will lead to conflict with others. Now, here prudence only is commended. 
To enforce it the more powerfully, other duties are for the time left out of sight. 
When they are taken up they will qualify it considerably. 

in. It is foolish to ckdebtakb an oblioation which we are unwilling to 
CABBT OUT. It is SO easy to make chivalrous promises. But immense harm is done 
by overhaste in professions of generosity. Let a man count the cost enough to see 
whether he is morally able to bear the strain before making a very liberal offer. 

IV. Much evil was done by the money-lendinq system or the Jews. The 
laws of debt were most stringent, and " the goods of the sureties might be distrained, 
or they even sold as slaves, just as in the case of insolvent debtors." Such an out- 
rageously cruel state of things was justly deprecated. 

V. Other more pressing claims foubid us to contract some or the most 
EXACTING obligations. The good-natured Jew who beggared his children and lost 
his liberty by becoming surety to a spendthrift, robbed those who had most right to enjoy 
his property, and hindered himself Irora doing more gjod in the future. The duty of 
a man to his family is often pleaded as an excuse for some act of mean selfishness. 
Nevertheless, the duty is real, and must not be neglected. A man has no right to risk 
his children's welfare in order to oblige a friend. People who are too hasty in putting 
their names to bills should remember this. 

VI The surety is only advised to escape by just means. He is not told tn 

140 THE PB0VEKB9. [oh. Ttl-Sfc 

break his promise, (o hide, to leave the country. He is urged to seek a releam by 
rec^uestiag hid friend to grant it him. Such a course is humiliating. But it is not 


Ver. 6. — Tht ant. Scripture sends us to nature. Even the smallest works of nature 
are full of Divine lessons to him who has eyes to read them. Sometimes we are bidden 
to consider the heavens, but now we are invited to consider the ant. The telescope 
has its lessons; so also has the microscope. But when a man refuses to hear the voice 
of God, will he hear the voice of an insect-prophet ? Possibly. It takes an eagle's 
eye to gaze at the sun ; bat any eye can look on the earth. If a man's vision is too 
weak to look at the burning bush, the fiery pillar, the mystic Sheohinah, let him turn 
his eyes to the glowworm at his feet, and perhaps even that humble torch-bearer may 
save him from stumbling. 


of the ant have been very carefully looked into, and very wonderful facts have come to 
light. Among ants there are engineers, constructing elaborate" tunnels and carrying on 
complicated building operations; stoch-keepers, guarding and feeding the aphis, like 
a cow, for the juice they exliact from it; agriculturists, carefully clearin;:; ground of 
all weeds, in order to let only certain grasses grow within the prepared area, and 
storing up corn underground, which by a marvellous instinct they first kill so as to 
prevent it from germinating ; slave-holders, who attack tribes of black ants, carry off 
the young and keep these to wait on them and feed them, becoming meanwhile so 
helpless as to be absolutely unable to feed themselves, and dying of starvation when 
deprived of the lielp of their slaves ; and some so far imitating our habits as to keep 
pet insects — insects which they feed and attend to but which apparently render them 
no servicei As we look at the diminutive ant, we may well wonder 

" That one little head could carry all he knew." 

We must not mistake bigness for greatness. Taitaryia bigger than Greece. Atheni 
was a little city in comparison with Babylon. Despise not one of the little ones. And 
we too with our short lives and dwarf powers, may we not do something worth 
living for ? 


labour that the agricultural ant of Syria clears its field, keeps it well weeded, gathers 
in the com, and stores this in subterranean granaries. Nature is a great factory. All 
life involves work. Even the silent forest apparently sleeping in the hush of noon is 
busy, and if only we had ears to hear, we might detect the elaboration of the sap 
and the growth of the leaf, showing that every tree is hard at work on its appointed 
task. 1. Work according to ability. The ant cannot build a cathedral. But he can 
make an ant-hill. " Whatsoever thy hand flndeth to do, do it with thy might." 2. 
Work in face of danger. One careless footstep may demolish a whole city of ant- 
life, and crush hundreds of its inhabitants. Yet the little creatures toil on without 
heeJing a danger which they cannot avert. 3. Work perseveringly. Any one wlio baa 
watched an ant struggling with a heavy load may well be rebuked by the patient insect. 
If the ant-hill is destroyed, the ants soon set to work and commence mining and build- 
ing, and reducing the chaos to order again. 4. Work harmoniously. It is the union 
of great numbers that enables the ants, though a Very small folk, to effect very con- 
siderable results. The Church can do what passes the power of individuals, but only 
when the individuals are severally doing their share of labour. 


The ant works from instinct, and we must admire the wisdom of the great Maker, who 
has taught it unconscious habits of providence. But we are endowed with powers of 
looking before and after, and therefore are left to our own will to be deliberately pro- 
vident. It is strange that many people have no prudence in temporal things. In 
prosperous times they are recklessly self-indulgent. In harder times they are in 
destitution. These people abuse Christian charity; and unwise Christian charity Li 
guilty of indirectly encouraging their improvidence. Thus they lose independence, 
•elf-reliance, and the wholesome discipline of present restraints for the sake. of future 

OH.TI. 1— 35.] THE PROVERBS. Ul 

needs. But if earthly prudence ia practised, shall we stop there? Are we consistent 
in our providence? We have provided for the natural winter: have we provided 
for other, more terrible, winters? We may have a philosophy of life which suits the 
haipy sunshine, but how are we provided against the storms and frosts of the winter 
of sorrow? There is a wintry blast that ultimately kills the hardiest flower. Have 
we made provision for the winter of death? Happy they who in biight summer, and 
happier they wh'i in youth's spring-time, have fouud a Saviour who will be their Bread 
of life and their Shelter in the chills of grief, in the dread winter of death 1 

Ver. 14. — Sowing discord. I. The sdweb. He may be of various characters. 1. 
A malignant person. Such a one delights in the mischief he makes. He flings the 
firebrand with fiendish glee because he loves to witness the conflagration. He is a true 
child of Satan, one to break the peace of Eden, one to set Cain to murder his brother. 
2. A person greedy of power. It is easier to make trouble than to mend it. Nothing 
is more simple than to scatter seeds of quarrels. A single pebble flung into the middle 
of a mountain tarn will shatter the fair mirror of crag and sky, and spread disturbing 
wavelets to every shore. There is a sense of power, of producing a great effect, in mis- 
chief-making. 3. A selfish person. If we always claim our dues and exact our 
pound of flesh, we must be perpetually embroiled in quarrels. Disregard to the rights 
of others, which is only too common with the selfish, will lead one individual to plunge 
a whole society into confusion. 4. A heedless person. It is so easy to sow discord that 
we may do the mischievous thing before we are aware of our folly. It needs care and 
watchfulness to avoid this disastrous conduct. 

II. The seed. 1. A misrepresentation. Thomas Oarlyle pointed out how often 
Qational quarrels and wars 8[)ring from " misunderstandings." If we knew each other 
better we should be more friendly. Our acquaintances tend to become our friends. 
But a misrepresentation is the parent of a misunderstanding, and as such the seed of 
discord. 2. A hot word. If we approached a troublesome question calmly and 
pationtiy we might see a way of avoiding all quarrelling over it. But when the angei 
IB roused everything appears in its worst light ; there ia no inclination to smooth over 
a difficulty ; on the contrary, opposition ia magnified. 3. An unkind word. This 
may be spoken deUberately. The more cool the speaker, the more cuttmg his speech. 

in Thb soil The discord is sown " among brethren." 1. A possible soil. One 
would say that here no quarrels can grow. But, alasl they who should love most 
can hate with bitterest hatred, or, if no deep dislike be engendered, they inay still 
nuarrel most fiercely. The fir.^t quarrel was between brethren— Cain and Abel. Esau 
and Jacob the two Hebrews whom Moses rebuked in Egypt, the nations of Israel and 
Judah were all brethren in discord. 2. A fruitful soil. Surely it would be thought 
discord amon'' brethren cannot last and spread. But experience proves the contrary. 
Family feuds°are deep, bitter, enduring. Church quarrels are most rancorous. Civil 

vvar^s ^™|'^™^^g^ q^j^jg discord is no sli-ht thing like the breeze that disturbs the 
lake for one moment and speedily leaves it to resume its normal placidity. 1. It is 
gainful Pride may conceal the wound, but the sore is not slight. No misery is greater 
than that of family quaiTels. 2. It is injurious. It raises evil passions, hinders 
harmonious action, wastes resources in internecine strife. Al men are of one blood 
Sore all war is discord among brethren; and who shall measure its frightful 
harvest of woe? 3. It is unchristian. The gospel proclaims and enforces brother- 
hod It hel^s us to realize the dream of the psalmist, " Behold how good and how 
pCknt it is for brethren to dwell together in unity 1" (Ps. cxxxu,. 1). Christ blessed 
the peacemaker (Matt. v. 9). 

Vers 16— 19.— Seven hateful things. It is certainly best for us to think most of 
« whatever things are lovely, of good report," etc. But the co«?««r de rose view of 
hi^rnXe that comes of a fastidious objection to look at the darker shades 
of Xi^acter is not only false, but also dangerous, since it temp s us to ignore our own 
failtoas and to neglect the duty of rebuking sin and of labouring to better the world. 
The Physician must study pathology. The patient must allow his disease to be 
iimini We must therefore sometimes set ourselves to the unwelcome task 

142 THE PROVEEBS. [oh. vi. 1—86 

of considering hateful things. Let us look at the general features of the seven 

I. They are defined in detail. We are not only told that sin is odious. Par- 
ticular sins are specified. A general confession of sin may be made without any 
admission of guilt in regard to one's own special faults. The proud man will confess 
himself a miserable siuner while he refuses to see the evil of his pride. Therefore we 
must consider our sins in the concrete. Only thus can we feel true compunction and 
make practical repentance. Six liateful things are mentioned; then a seventh is 
added as a sort of after-tliought, and to suit the requirements of the poetic form of the 
enigma. It is thus made apparent that the seven is not a definite number intended 
to exclude all others. Seven is a round number, and the list might easily be lengthened. 
In fact, we have just seven specimen abominations. Therefore let no man flatter him- 
self because his peculiar failing may happen to be omitted. All transgression of the 
Law is sin, and is hateful in the sight of God. When particuhir evils are denounced, 
remember that they are but specimens of a large and varied and wholly abominable 
host of sins. 

II. They are desoeibed in kefebenoe to paktictoab osaANB. A look, a tongue, 
hands, a heart, feet. All sin is the abuse of some power or laoulty. The organ is 
innocent in itself, but it is prostituted to a base purpose. Every part of our nature 
is susceptible of this degrailation. The more powers we have, the greater is our capacity 
of evil-doing as well as of well-doing. 

III. They are apparently very unequal in guilt. The promiscuous collec- 
tion of hateful things is surprising. It looks as though they were flung together with 
little consideration. Possibly this is designed, that we may not so much compare 
respective degrees of sin but hate and eschew all evil, the least sin being hateful to Gkxi. 
Pride, lying, murder, are in close juxtaposition. It is not asserted that the three are 
equally guilty. But no measure is given for discriminating between them. The 
casuistry of such measurement is demoralizing. Moreover, the difference is often not 
so great as we think. The crime that sends a shock of horror through the country and 
leads us to regard the doer of it as an inhuman monster, may come from no blacker 
sink of iniquity than that which sends forth a sin wearing a much less tragic hue. 

IV. They abb as a whole ohaeacterized by features that abb specially 
reprobated nr Christian ethics. Tlie first and the last of the hateful things are 
the exact opposites of the first and the last of the graces named in the seven Beatitudes 
of the Sermon on the Mount. Pride, lying, cruelty, are the opposites of the Christian 
duties of humility, truthfulness, aud charity. The sin of the heart and imagination is 
condemned as well as that of the hands. 

V. They abb all condemned on account of their hatefulness in the sioht 
OF God. Morality is not created by the fiat of the Divine will. It is eternal, necessary, 
immutable. God is holy because he lives according to it. But God's relation to morals 
adds a new sanction. Wickedness then becomes sin. The hatefulness of sin in God's 
sight should be to us its greatest condemnation, not only because God will punish it, 
but because it separates us from the love of God. 

Vers. 20 — 22. — Parental training. I. Sound parental training is the surest 
foundation fob a good afteb-life. Both parents are here named. Neither has 
a right to delegate to the other his or her share of the great responsibility. In early 
days this rests chiefly with the mother, and throughout life her moral influence is 
likely to be the more persuasive. Here is woman's great work. Mau fills the world 
uith the noise of his busy doings. But woman has a no less great and useful task in 
moulding the characters of the toilers of the future. Yet the father has his duty in 
parental training; and there are often special circumstances in which his knowledge 
of the world or his firmness of control is essential. Let parents feel that nothing can 
take the place of home training. The Sunday school cannot do the work of themother's 
counsel. No pressure of public duty should let a man excuse himself for neglecting 
the religious training of his children. He deludes himself if he thinks he can do it by 
proxy, be the substitute ever so efficient a teacher. Nothing can take the place of the 
anxious watchfulness of parental love. 

U. Sound parental training is of little use unless it is sightly bbobiveb 

OH. VL 1—35.] THE PROVERBS. 143 

BY THE CHILDREN. The oMld has his duty in regard to it as well as the parent. His 
will is free. The best seed may be wasted on bad soil. It is his duty to treasure up 
wholesome home lessons as the most valuable portion divided to hiiu. How mad is 
the desire of some to escape from the control of the home to the fascinating liberty o^ 
the world, of the perils and deceits of which they are bo ignorant? Why should 
the young man be so anxious to take a journey into a far country out of the sight of 
those who have his interest most at heart ? Perhaps there have been unwise restraints 
in the home. But escape from them is no excuse for rushing to the utmost bounds 
of licence. 

III. Sound parental training, well eeoeivbd and followed, is a great boon 
FOB THE WHOLE OF LIFE. 1. It is a source of quiet restfulneas. It keeps one while 
Bleeping. After the feverish tumult of the day, to retire to rest with hallowed memories 
lovingly recalled, what a help it is to peace of heart ! 2. It is a guide in duty and in 
danger. " When thou goest, it shall lead thee . . . When thou awakest, it shall talk 
with thee." These old memories rise up to cheer in dismal tasks or to warn from 
deceitful temptations. And if they have become doubly sacred because the voice that 
spake the words of counsel is hushed in death, shall they not also be more reverently 
cherished? Who knows but what those patient, geutle eyes that followed the child in 
his nursery griefs and joys may be looking down from the heights of heaven to watch 
him still as he bends to the hard toil of life? 

Ver. 23. — T?ie object of religious teaching. L It is to serve as a light. How 
much so-called religious teaching " darkens counsel with word's without knowledge " I 
We do not give right Christian instruction when we urge upon the belief of people 
unintelligible dogmas in phrases which are to them meaningless. Like the book 
Hamlet was readinjj, very much that is crammed into children is " words, words, 
words." You cannot teach that which is not understood. The first thing is to open 
the eyes of the scholar, to throw light on regions of the unknown. Revelation is 
illumination. Christianity is not a rule of dark superstition, but a religion of light. 

II. This light gives a new interpretation to all things. The light does 
not create the objects it shines upon, it only makes manifest what was previously 
hidden, but not the less solidly existent. So religious revelation does not create. The 
doctrines of Christianity, if they are true at all, represent eternal facts. The New 
Testament brings these facts to light. Thus Christ has taught us to call God " Father," 
but he was our Father before the great Teacher came into the world. Earthly facts 
have new meanings as new lights fall upon them. The light of eternity transforms 
the whole appeaiance of life. Under its rays " all things become new." The pleasures, 
the sorrows, the duties, the golJ, the food, the houses, the land, are there still, but they 
take on quite other hues, and range themselves in strangely altered ranks of interest. 
When the sun rises, the horrible monsters that loomed on us through the night resolve 
themselves into homely barns and familiar trees, while the distant mountain range that 
had been invisible before displays its silent solitudes in all their awful splendour. 

III. The mission of this light is to guide our conduct. " Reproofs of instruc- 
tion are the way of life." This teaching is not given merely to satisfy our curiosity, 
nor simply to develop our mental powers. When theology is pursued with the thirst 
for knowledge only, it eludes our grasp. When it is degraded to the functions of mental 
gymnastics, it is wrecked and ruined. The end of revelation is practical and momentous. 
Scripture is to serve as a " lamp to our feet." Religious teaching should not aim at 
merely exciting intellectual interest, nor at solving abstiact problems, nor at inculcat- 
ing authoritative dogmas, but at guiding men into the way of peace and life. There- 
fore : 1. Do not be disappointed if it adds as many mysteries as it explains ; so long as 
it sheds light on our path we can afford to find that it makes the darkness in some 
other regions the more visible. 2. Do not be content with hearing, understanding, 
assentmg to religious instruction. It fails wholly of its object if it does not lead us to 
obey it, to walk in its light. 

Ver. 27. Fire in the hosom. I. Sin is fire. Fire has an activity that mocks 

life ; it is full of noise and movement. It hisses like a demon-serpent ; it sends forth 
its tongues of flame like living creatures. Yet it is lifeless and the deadliest enemy to 

m THE PROVERBS. [ch. vi. 1— 35. 

all life. Though some animals are drowned in water, others are fitted to find it their 
natural element ; but all living creatwres perish in fire. The phcEnix is an impossibility. 
So sin mocks life and beauty and healtliy energy. But it is only a death-power. L 
It is destructive. Fire exists by consuming its victims. So sin does not simply use, 
it destroys the faculties it works through. 2. It tends to spread. Fire leaps from 
object to object, rushing over a wide prairie, enveloping a whole city. "Behold, how 
great a matter a little fire kindleth ! " (Jaa. iii. 5). So sin spreads through the soul, 
and from one man to another. 3. It converts into fire everything that it lays hold 
of. So sin turns all that comes under its power into its own nature. 4. It rages 
furiously. Nothing is ao like madness as a gruat fire. It is infinitely more horrible 
than the wildust tempest of wind and water. Sin is a fury of passion. 5. It leaves 
smouldering embers and dismd heaps of ashes. When the fire of passion is burnt out, 
the soul is left charred, empty, dismal, as but dust and ashes. 

II. Tub sinneb oabbibs fibe in his bohou. 1. It is in himself. Tou cannot 
kindle the fires oF your sin outside your own soul at a safe distance. Yon cannot even 
sin with your hands while your heart is untouched. When sin is indulged, it takes 
up its abode in a man's bosom. It enters his affections, it lies close to bis heart, it 
coils about his very life. 2. Moreover, he who takes this fire in his bosom cannot readily 
get rid of it. It penetrates deeper and deeper and sproails further and further, till it 
fills the whole man. It is not possible to sin for a moment ami leave the scene of guilt 
scatlieless. He who enters the furnace of sin lets the fire of sin enter his owti bosom, 
and when he goes forth carries it with him — himself a furnace of sins! 

III. The sinneb with fibb in his bosom will find it bubn him. Men talk 
of the fires of retribution as though they were kindled in some remote region by some 
unknown executioner, and so they are often as little mnved by the thought of them 
as they are affected by the heat of the stars. But the fire in a man's bosom will bring 
its own retribution. The wicked man has a'hell within him. He is becoming like 
Milton's S^tan when he felt the impossibility of escaping from hell becanse of his own 
fearfid state, and exclaimed, " Myself am Hell I " This is natural. It would require a 
miracle to prevent the fire in the bosom from burning. But these terrible thoughts 
are not intended to induce despair. Bather they should so awaken us to the horror of 
sin as to lead us to shun it as we would run from a house on fire, and make us so 
realize our danger as to seek safety in that fountain opened for all imcleanness which 
can quench the fires of sin and stay all their fatal consequences. 

Vers. 30, 31. — Motive and responsibility. I. Guilt is to be mbascked bt motive. 
The starving pick-pocket is not so wicked as the well-to-do house-breaker. Even in 
the low depths of crime moral distinctions need to be observed, lest we do grievous 
injustice to our most unhappy fellow-men. The principle that guilt is commensurate 
with motive rests on the Christian conception of it as an inward fact. This makes it 
always difficult to form a correct judgment of other people. The rough external standard 
I'f the law must be applied by the administrators of civil justice, because no other 
standard is within their power. But it still remains true that the judge who pro- 
nounces sentence may be a much worse man than the prisoner whom he sends to the 

II. Pbimabt nboesbaeies abb pbiob to conventional laws. It is an instinct of 
the most elementary pharacter that prompts the hungry man to take food. Of course, 
it is still possible for moral laws to interfere with the pursuit of the object of that 
instinct, and we must always recognize that moral laws are higher than natural 
iiistiucts. But in our complicated modern civilization we are not dealing with the 
direct and simple impact of those lofty and inflexible laws. We are brought into con- 
tact with very curious social arrangements, and the laws of right and justice are only 
allowed to work themselves out by means of an extraordinary social machinery. Under 
such circumstances there may be room for a protest of instinct against convention, 
though there can never be an excuse for the enjoyment of any personal desire when 
that is contradicted by absolute morality. The hero of Victor Hugo's story, 'Les 
Miserables,' is not regarded as a vulgar thief when he steals the loaf from the "baker's 
shop to feed his starving family. He appears as a revolutionist protesting against what 
he feela to be an unjust iistribution of property. A healthy Christian conscience must 

OH. VI. 1—35.] THE PR0VEBB8. 145 

condemn his action ; but in such a case every humaa heart will give great weight to 
" extenuating circumstances." 

III. Besfonsibility cannot bb measubed by uotive. Here a new element it 
introduced — one which cannot be lightly set aside, A man must reap the consequences 
of his deeds, no matter what motives prompted them. If he acts foolishly from the 
best of motives, he must suffer for his folly ; if he offends against social law, no plea 
of primary necessity will exonerate him from the penalty. In a world of law and order 
we must look to the results of our conduct as well as to its inward urging principle. 
Moreover, if we injure any one without the least malice, but only through what we 
regard as sheer necessity, the fact of the injury does not vanish, and we are under an 
obligation to take the first opportunity to make ample amends. Further, it is the duty 
of society to see that external right is done, even though those who resist it may be 
acting with the best of excuses. The thief must be punished, though his starving con- 
dition rouses our pity. But surely these painful points of casuistry should never arise. 
It ia the duty of Christians to work for a better social order, wherein no injustice can 
give the semblance of an excuse to crime. 



Vers. 1 — 5. — The perils of luretyship. Here we have — 

L A FEATURE OF ANCIENT LIFE. The Warnings against incurring this responsibility 
are very frequent in this book (ch. xi. 15 ; xvii. 18 ; xx. 16 ; xxii. 26). For the bail was 
treated like the insolvent debtor (2 Kings iv, 1 ; Matt, xviii. 25). He was subject to 
distraint or to be sold into slavery. Ben-Sira (xxix. 18, seq.) says, " Suretyship hath 
destroyed many that were doing well, and swallowed them up as a wave of the sea. It 
hath turned mighty men out of their homes, and they wandered among foreign peoples." 
The surety struck his hand into that of the debtor, as a sign that he would answer for 
him. This would be accompanied by a verbal declaration, and hence the man had 
bound and confined himself — "snared himself by the words of his rnouth." The 
rigidity of ancient custom in this particular told with terrible severity against thought- 
less incurrers of responsibility, no matter how kind the motive. Hence — 

II. The urgent keed of peudenoe. Ver. 3: "Since thou hast come into the 
hacd [power] of thy neighbour, stamp with thy foot, and storm thy neighbour ; " i.e. be 
urgent and insistent with the careless debtor for whom thou hast pledged thyself, press 
upon him the fulfilment of his responsibilities before it be too late. Exercise a sleep- 
less vigilance (ver. 4, "Tear thyself free like a gazelle from its haunt, and like a bird 
from the hand of the fowler"). , , ■ - , .v . >.v 

III. Modern reflections and lessons. l.Let us be thankful that the seventy 
of the ancient laws and customs concerning debt and suretyship has been mitigated. 
The history of the changes of law is one of the best evidences of Christiamty, and proof 
that prior conceptions of God advance side by side with gentler conceptions of social 
relations and duties. 2. Prudence is a constant necessity, and its cultivation a virtne, 
though not the highest. We must learn to adjust the claims of prudence and of 
neighbourly love. 3. Independence is not only a "glorious privilege," but the firm 
foimdation for the best life-enjoyment and life-work. These are golden words from 
Ben-Sira valid for all time : " Take heed to thyself, lest thou faiL The elemenU ^ h/» 
are water, head, and a coat to one's back, and a dweUing to hide unseemliness. Better 
the poor man's life in his hut than faring luxuriously in others' houses. ... It is an ill 
life from house to house, and not to be able to open your mouth where you are sojourn- 
ing." To do our own work or God's work well, we should aim at detachment, at$- 
eniatrrassment, freedom of spirit. — J. 

Vers 6— 11— 2%e sluggard admonished. I. The pictubb of insect industbt. 
The ant was viewed as the very picture of laborionsness in ancient as in modern times. 
It is interesting that the German word for "industrious" (emsig) seems denvable from 
amessi "emmet, ant." The like may probably be traceable in some Enghsh delects. 
1 The industry of the ant has all the appearance of a viHue. For it seems unforced ; 
there is ed judge, luperintendent, or onlooker, or taskmaster, to supermtend its work. 

146 THE PROVERBS. [oh. vi. 1— 35k 

Contrast with the representations on various monuments of the taskmasters with 
whips superintending gangs of labourers. 2. It is provident industry. It lays up 
against the rainy day. The closer study of ant-life by modern observers opens a world 
of marvel, and suggests other lines of thought. It is sufBcient for didactic purposes to 
note the general principle ; the external appearances of nature reveal morai analogies. 

XL The oontbast of human sloth. (Vers. 9 — 11.) 1. The lazy man seems ai 
if he would sleep for ever (ver. 9). 2. He knows not when he has repused enough 
(ver. 10). An ironical imitation of his langour, his lazy attitude. The arms ever 
crossed, instead of being opeaed and ready for toil. " When I begin to turn about," 
said the Duke of Wellington, " I turn out." 3. The result of sloth (ver. 11). Poverty 
surprises him like a robber, and want like an armed man. A striking picture of the 
seeming suddenness with which men may sink into destitution. But it is only seeming ; 
it has been long really preparing. 

III. MoBAL ANALOGY AND APPLICATION. Sloth in all its forms is ruinous to body 
and soul. Mental inertness and vacuity is a common form. The mind must be aroused, 
interested, filled. Here is one of the great sources of drunkenness, because of depression. 
If you have no occupation, invent one. Ooad yow temper by hopes and fears, if it will 
not wake up without them. In religion " be not slothful." Work at the practical or 
theoretical side of it, whichever suits your capacity best. Work out your own salva- 
tion. Take it all for granted, and you will presently find that all has slipped away, 
and naught remains but an impoverished intellect, a stagnant will. — J. 

Vers. 12 — 15. — A picture of spite. L The spiteful man defined oeneballt. 
(Ver. 12.) He is " naughty," the old English word being expressive ; otherwise " a 
thing of naught," a "slight man" (Shakespeare); in German heiUoss, "unsound," 
" unworthy," and so worthless. Gather up the sense and force of these adjectives, and 
we get the idea comprehensively of badness, the sensuous counterpart of which is rotten- 
ness, corruption. 

II. His CHARA0TEBISTIC8. (Vers. 13, 14.) 1. In mien and gesture and language. 
His mouth is twisted to a false expression, and utters false things. There is au obliquity 
and uncertainty in his glance (comp, cb, x, 10). He is full of shy tricks and hints — 
the thrust of the foot, nudges and signs with his fingers. " The shrug, the ' hum I ' 
the 'hal' those petty brands that calumny doth use" (Shakespeare). 2. In spirit 
perverse. It is a nature awry, inwardly deformed. Busily inventive, scheming mis- 
chief, breeding quarrels (comp. on oh. iii. 29). It is a mind naturally active and 
curious, which, disabled from good, swings inevitably to the other extreme. 

III. His DESTINY. An overthrow, sudden, utter, irremediable. 1. This is described 
constantly as the common doom of all kinds of wickedness. 2. The Bible makes sharp 
distinctions, and opposes characters in an absolute manner. Fine distinctions would 
run into the infinite. But we must make them in every particular case. 3. The doom 
ever stands in the relation of correspondence to the guilt. — J. 

Vers. 16 — 19. — A catalogue of dominations. L What I8 an abomination ? The 
ipord (as a verb) is of Roman or pagan origin, and denoted the feeling of abhorrence 
for what was ill-omened. In the moral sphere all evil conduct is like a had omen, 
exciting dread and aversion, because boding calamity. In the direct language of the 
Bible, referring all things immediately to God, abuminations are defined as " things that 
Jehovah hates, and that are an aversion to his soul " (ver. 16). 

II. An enumeration of these Divine aversions. The particular number is 
explained by the parallelism of Oriental poetry generally. It has no direct religious 
significance. 1. Proud eyes. Literally, lofty eyes. The grande super(^lium, or 
haughty brow, of the Romans. The sensuous expression contains and implies in every 
case the inner mood. This Divine aversion for pride is deeply marked in the Bible 
and in ancient thought generally. Pride is an excess — the excess of a virtue of due 
self-valuation. Therefore it is a disturbing element in the moral worLl, or God's order. 
It tends to disjoint the social system. 2. A lying tongue. The liar is thus absolvent 
of society. It must break up were lying to become universal, and must decay so far aa 
the vice of individuals becomes the custom of the multitude. 3. Hands of violenae arid 
injustice. The tyrant is a usmper of God's authority. He "plays such tricks .-..&■ 

OH. VI. 1—35.] THE PROVERBS. U1 

angels weep at." The judicial murderer sets at naught the justice both of heaven and 
earth, the rights of God and of men. 4. The malicious, sclieming heart. (See on ver. 
14.) That quick " forge and working-shop of thought " (Shakespeare) that we call 
the imagination may become a very devil's smithy, a manufactory of the newest 
implements of mischief, from the patterns of hell. 5. Feet that speed to mischief. All 
couriers of ill news, eager retailers of slander, all who cannot bear to be forestalled in 
the hurtful word, who are ambitious of the first deadly blow. 6. 2%e " Ireather of lies." 
(Ver. 19.) The false witness, the lying informer; all who trade in falsehood, and 
breathe it as their atmosphere. 7. The mischief-maker. The instigator of quarrels 
between brethren (see on ver. 14). All who partake of the leavened bread of malice, 
rather than of the pure, unfermented, and incorruptible bread of sincerity and truth. 

I. Our aversions should be God's aversions. 2. The reasoning antipathy is the 
counterpart of improper sympathy. 3. Our love and our hate are liable to aberration 
if not governed by reason and religion. 4. Instinctive antipathy means only that we 
have found in another something that is opposed to our personal sense of well-being ; 
conscientious antipathy, that we have found that which is opposed to the order of God's 
world. — J. 

Vera. 20 — U.— Exhortation to ehaitity. 1. Fbefaob. (Ver. 20 ; see on ch. v. 1, 2 ; 
ch. i. 8.) 

II. Exhortation to mindfulness of eablt lessons, (Ver. 21 ; see on ch. ii. 3.) 
It is in ohlivious moments that we sin. We may forget much that we have learned, 
having outgrown its need. We can never outgrow the simple, early lessons of piety. 
The chain that links our days each to each in moral progress is the memory of those 

III. Vital vibtub in those eemembkeed lessons. They have a true vis vitalis. 
They guide in action, protect in passive hours (see on ch. iii. 23, 24). In wakeful 
hours of the night they seem to talk to the heart, as it " holds communion with the 
past." " Spirits from high hover o'er us, and comfort sure they bring." The truth 
becomes as a guardian angel. There is a junction of light and life in religion (ver. 23). 
What is seen iii the intelligence as true translates itself into health in the habits. 

IV. They are specially peeservativb against the wicked woman and hkb (Ver. 24 ; see on ch. ii. 16 ; v. 20.) Nothing is said directly of the reflex 
effect of vice upon the mind. It is always the danger externally considered that is 
pointed out. But this is due to the objective presentative form of the biblical thought 
and speech. We must learn to render the objective into the subjective form, to note 
how every outward drama has its reflex in the spirit itself; and thus we draw a double 
benefit from Bible lore. The pictures must be taken first in their pioper meaning, 
then be converted into figures of the inner life. — J. 

Vers. 25 — 35. — Warning against adultery. No candid student can ignore the fact 
that the view of this sin, and the motives deterrent from it, are of far lower order than 
those o{ pure Christianity. They do not rise above those of Horace, or any general 
morality of men of the world. In the sense that the body is the temple of the Holy 
Spirit, that the soul is in communion with God, we reach that loftier point of view 
whence the odium of the sin is clearly discernible, and the motives against it are the 
highest that can be known. 

I. Sin sprinqs from the boot of debibb. (Ver. 25.) This is the general law 
(Jas. i. 14, 15). Hence the last command of the Decalogue (Exod. xx. 17 ; Matt. v. 
28). The objects of desire may be good in themselves, but not lawful for our posses- 
sion, as e.g. anything that belongs to our neighbour. Or the object may only seem to be 
good in itself, and its possession may be both unlawful and pernicious. This is the 
case with the adulteress. Her beauty is a deceitful show. It is a symbol with no 
moral worth behind it. The beauty, the "twinkling eye," are only sensuous charms. 
We must not speak of desire abstractly as if it were wrong, but of the indiscriminating 
desire, which confounds the lawful with the unlawful, the real with the unreal. 

II. Adulterous desire both unlawful and pernicious. 1. The extravagance 
and avarice of the adulteress. (Ver. 26.) This is a commonplace of observation. 
Excess in one passion affects the whole moral equilibrium, and she who will lavish 

148 THE PB0VBRB3. [oh. vi. 1--35, 

•way her honour will be reckless of other waste. 2. Me ii a spendthrift of her lovet*$ 
life. The Hebrew designates the soul or life as dear, or costly. After making havoc of 
his possessions, she preys upon his life, more precious than all. 3, The deadly cer- 
tainty of those results oj such liaisons. (Vets. 27 — 29.) By two impassioned questions 
the teacher conveys the most emphatic denial of what they suggest. 4. The further 
certainty of penal consequences on detection. Conveyed by means of an analogy (vers. 
30, 31). The act of the thief who steals to quiet his starving stomach is not over- 
looked. If apprehended, he is made to restore sevenfold. The Mosaic Law says four or 
fivefold (Exod. xxi. 36 ; xxii. 1, sqq. ; cf. Luke xix. 8). The " sevenfold " merely 
expresses a round sum generally ; the thief might have to buy off his exemption from 
legal prosecution with all he had. Much less, then, can the graver crime of adultery 
escape punishment, if detected. And hence the senselessness and suicidal conduct of tlia 
lover (ver. 32). 5. Other risks of detection. Castigation and ignominy at the hands of 
the outraged husband (ver. 33). Exposure to all the fury of excited jealousy, which 
is unsparing, fiercely vindictive, insatiable, unappeasable (vers. 34, 35). 

1. The lower motive — fear of consequences — is the most powerful deterrent from 
crime. 2. But the higher motives, derived from the sense of what crime is in itsilf 
and in relation to the doer, are needed when the other is not acting. 3. It is not 
leing found out that makes the evil evil, — that is an accident; the essence of the ctime 
is in the wrong done to the soul. — J. 

Vers. 1 — 5. — Answering for others; danger and deliverance. There are times when 
we are invited and are bound to answer for other people — it may be with our w(ird, or 
it may be with our bond. We have all been indebted to the kindnesses of our friends 
in this direction, and that which we have received from our fellows we should be ready 
to give to them in return. But it is a matter in which it is very easy to go much too 
far; in which carelessness is wrong and even criminal; in which, therefore^ wise 
counsel is well worth heeding. 

L That good men abb exposed to serious dangek in the way of suBETVsntp. 
(Vers. 1 — 3.) Good men, as such. For it is thoy who are most likely to be in a 
position to grant the help which is desired, and who are most likely to be induced to 
do so. The danger is threefold. 1. The appeal is to kindness of heart. It is the 
young at starting, or it is the unfortunate, or it is those on whom the helpless are 
dependent, who supplicate our interposition; and it is difficult for the tender-hearted 
to turn a deaf ear to their entreaty. 2. The peril is easily incurred. It was but the 
taking of the hand in the prt sence of two or three witnesses ; it is but the signing of 
a name at the foot of a bond, and the thing is done. 3. The result is remote ai.d 
uncertain. No evil may ever happen; if it should, it will fall some day in the 

II. That godly peinoiplb ebquibeb us to pdt a strong check on mcLiMATioir. 
1. However much our sympathetic feelings may be stirred, however great the pleasure 
of compliance, and however deep the pain of refusal, we must forbear, when we have 
not wherewith to meet the demand that may be made on us. To comply, under such 
conditions, is simple dishonesty; it is criminal; it is an essentially false action. 2. 
We should imperil the comfort of our own family. Our first duty is to the wife whom 
we have solemnly covenanted before God to cherish and care for, and to the children 
whom the Father has entrusted to our charge. 3. We should be encouraging a 
culpable spirit of unsound speculation. 4. We should be disregarding the general 
good. No minister can commend to a Christian community a brother whom he believe* 
to be unfit for the post without sinning against Christ and his Church most seriously. 
No man can recommend an incompetent or unworthy neighbour or friend to a position 
of trust and influence without doing a wrong which, if it be not condemned in the 
Decalogue, will be heavily scored in the Divine account. 

III. That if we find we have ebbed, we must do every possible thing to gaijt 
DELiVEBANOB. (Vers. 3 — 7.) There should be : 1. The utmost promptitude (ver. 4). 
When the blow may not fall for some tirne to come, there is special temptation to pro- 
crastinate until it is too late. Seek safety at once ; let not the sun go down before the 
fiist step is taken. 2. Energy in action (ver. 5). We should seek to extricate ourselves 
»ud thohe who are dear to us with the vigour with which the roe escapes from the 

oa. VI. 1—35.] THE PROVERBS. 1« 

hunter, the bird from the fowler. 3. If necessary, with self-humiliation (ver. 3). We 
hate to "humble ourselves," but we ought to be ready to do this rather than allow 
trouble and ruin to hang over our home. 
IV. That if this uegenot be dub to temporal dakgebs, how much more ihpbba- 


" no sleep to our eyes, nor slumber to our eyelids," until the peril is passed of being 
called by the Dirine Creditor to meet a debt when we ' have nothing to pay." — 0. 

Vers. 6—11. — Sloth and diligence. In this land and in this age, in England in the 
nineteenth century, there is little room for the sluggard ; there is comparatively little 
temptation to sluggishness ; the force of a rushing stream carries all along with it at a 
rapid pace. Nevertheless, it is true — 

I. That some men find themselves under special temptation to sloth. Thii 
may be a matter of (1) bodily infirmity, the misfortune of an exceptional physical con- 
stitution ; (2) mental disposition, inherited from others, and to a large extent deserving 
of pity rather than censure ; (3) moral character, the impress of a bad habit — a spiritual 
result which has to be blamed as much as to be deplored. 

II. That it is to be regarded as unworthy of Christian manhood. 1. It it 
rebuked by the humbler creation (vers. 6 — 8). That which the ant does instinctively, 
and without any intelligent guide or instructor, we ought to do, who are endowed with 
reason, and who have so many human teachers and friends to direct, admonish, and 
prompt us; who have, moreover, the admonitions of a Divine Teacher and Friend to 
enlighten and quicken us. 2. It is contemptible in the sight of man, our brother. 
There is Something more than a tone of strong remonstrance, there is a perceptible 
admixture of contempt in the address, " Thou sluggard " (ver. 6), and also in the raillery 
of the ninth and tenth verses, " How long wilt thou sleep ! . . . Yet a little sleep," etc. 
The industrious man cannot look at the slothfulness of the sluggard, at the supineness 
of the careless, at the dilatoriness of the half-hearted, without irrepressible 'feelings of 
aversion and contempt; he is compelled to scorn them in his heart. 

III. That it must be overcome in our own temporal interests. (Ver. 11.) 
Sloth soon ends in ruin. Bankruptcy waits on negligence. Temporal ruin comes : 1. 
Unexpectedly. "Poverty comes as one that'travelleth." It has started a longtime, 
it has traversed many a road, crossed many a valley, surmounted many a hill ; but, 
though travelling long, it is only in sight during the last ten minutes of its journey. 
So ruin begins its course m soon as a man neglects his duties ; it travels far and long, 
its form is hidden behind the hills, it is only just toward the last that its countenance 
is seen and recognized; then, before he expected it, Poverty stares him in the face, and 
grasps his hand with cruel clutch. 2. Irresistibly. " Want as an armed man." At 
last no measures can be taken. Friends are alienated, relatives are wearied, all good 
habits are gone, the courage which might have risen to the occasion is broken by 
continued sluggishness of spirit ; the man is disarmed of every weapon, and is at the 
mercy of well-armed Want. Indolence not only brings about ruinous circunistances, 
but it robs us of the spirit by which adversity might be met and mastered ; it places 
us helpless at the. feet of the strong. 

" Let us, then, be up and doing ; " for while sloth is rebuked on every side, and 
leads down to inevitable ruin, on the other hand, diligence (1) is in accordance with 
the will of (Jod concerning us (Bom. xii. 11; 1 Tim. v. 8; 2 Thess. iii. 6—14); (2) 
commands a genuine prosperity (see ch. xxii. 29); (3) braces the character and 
imparts spiritual strength ; (4) places us in a position to show kindness to the unfortunate 
(Eph iv. 28) ; (5) in the sphere of religion eusures ultimate and complete salvation (2 
Pet. i. 5, 10, 11 ; 2 Cor. v. 9).— 0. 

Vers. 12—16. — The character and doom of the abandoned. Perhaps there ie no 
word which more aptly designates the man who is here described than the word 
" abandoned." The " man of Belial " (" the naughty nnan ") is he who is abandoned, who 
has abandoned himself, to the promptings of his own evil nature, to the fascinations 
and tyrannies of sin. Here we see the features of his character and his doom. 

I. That in speech he is utterly unprincipled. "He walks with a froward 
mouth." He continually and remorselessly uses the language of falsehood, of pro 

150 THE PEOVBEBS. [oh. vi. 1—35. 

fanity, of lewdness, of slander. From his mouth there constantly issues that which 
God hates to hear, and which is offensive and shameful in the estimation of the good 
and pure. 

II. That in pbactioe he habitttallt resorts to low cuNNiita. (Ver. 13.) He 
has ways of communitiating with others ooly known to the initiated. He cannot afford 
to be frank and outspoken ; he must have recourse to subtlety, to low tricks, to devices 
which will cover his thoughts from the eye of the upright. This is (1) degrading to 
himself, and (2) disgusting to others. 

III. That in his heart he ib positively malign. (Ver. 14.) He takes a demo- 
niacal pleasure in doing evil. It is not only that he will consent to sacrifice the claims 
or injure the character of others if he cannot enrich himself without so doing ; it is that 
he finds a horrible and malignant satisfaction in compassing their ruin ; he " devises 
mischief continualiy ; he sows discord." To the pure it is incomprehensible that men 
can positively delight in impurity ; to the kind it seems impossible that men can enjoy 
cruelty, etc. But it is the last result of a sinful course that the " froward heart " 
scatters mischief on every hand for the sake of the evil thing itself; to him vice and 
misery are themselves his reward. 

IV. That God will being down on his head irrembdiable disaster. (Ver. 15.) 
The man thinks he can defy his Maker, but he is deceiving himself. God is not 
mocked; he that sows to the flesh shall reap corruption (Gal. vi. 8). He has broken 
away from all Divine restraints; he has thrown off him the arresting hand of a merci- 
ful Eedeemer, he has silenced the voice of a pleading spirit ; but God is not altogether 
such as we are (Ps. 1. 21). He will rebuke, and he will set our sins before our souls 
aj;ain. The hour will come, quite unexpectedly, when judgment will overtake him. 
It may be (1) public indignation, and the stem rebuke of human society ; or (2) ruin 
in his temporal affairs, — his schemes break down and involve him in their fall, or some 
one of his victims turns against him ; or (3) sudden sickness and pain lay him prostrate 
on a bed from which he may n(!ver rise, and on which his iniquities may confront him ; 
or (4) death and eternity present themselves, and demand that he shall look them full 
in the face (see ch. xxix. 1). — C. 

Vers. 16, 17. — The condemnation of pridt. The simple, strong language of the text 
tells us that pride is a thing which God hates. We should therefore make some 
inquiries concerning it, and know all we can learn about it ; for who would like to 
have in his heart and life that which is positively odious to the Father of his spirit ? 

I. Its seat is in the sottl. The wise man speaks of the " proud look " or the 
" haughty eyes," hut he specifies this as it is a most common manifestation of the evil 
which lies within. Its seat is in the soul, in the lurking thought, in the secret senti- 
ment, in the nursed and nourished convictions, in the false idea. It is in the habit of 
the heart ; it is embedded in the character. 

II. It is manifold in its manifestation. It is most often shown, as intimated, 
in the proud look, but it may make itself felt in (1) the disdainful tone ; (2) the con- 
temptuous silence or non-observance ; (3) the cutting sentence ; (4) the exclusive action. 

III. It bprings from many sources. It may arise from: 1. A consciousness of 
physical superiority — elegance of figure, beauty of face, muscular strength, etc. 2. 
Consciousness of mental acquisitions— intellectual force, knowledge, eloquence, etc. 3. 
Social prominence — rank, office, distinction. 4. EecoUection of great services rendered. 

IV. It is hateful in the sight of God. This thing " doth the Lord hate." He 
hates it, for doubtless he sees in it a heinousness and enormity we do not perceive. 
But he may hate it because : 1. It is an essentially false thing. We give ourselves 
credit for that which is not due. " What have we that we have not received ? " The 
pedestal on which we stand is a false Imagining. 2. It is an utterly unbecoming thing. 
Who are we, the sinful children of men, the body of whom is deserving of condemna- 
tion, that we should look down superciliously on others? In any human soul pride ia 
u»becoming, unlovely. 3. It is a cruel thing. It wounds, and it wounds the most 
sensitive spirits worst. We place, by itself, as demanding particular reference, one 
evil in pride for which God condemns it, viz. — 

V. It BHiTTS US OUT OF THE KINGDOM OF HIS GRACE. How c»n We possibly go ill 
humility »nd fwth to the redeeming Lord, our Saviour, while pride occupies the 

OH. VL 1—35.:! THE PROVERBS. lo* 

throne? The man in whom the proud spirit dwells stands afar from the salvation of 
God. " The Lord resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble." " Blessed 
are the poor in spirit : for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." " Except ye be converted, 
and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." — C. 

Vera. 16, 17. — The Divine dislike of deceitfulness. (See ch. xii. 22.) God hates 
"a lying tongue ;" " Lying lips are abomiaation to the Lord." We must consider — 

L What is the deceitfulness which God detests. It is evident that the "lying 
tongue " and the " lying lips " are mentioned as the principal instrument of the soul 
in the sin which is rebuked. It is the sin itself which is the object of the Divine dis- 
pleasure. That sin is deceitfulness ; conveying false impressions to the mind of our 
neighbour, the wilful blinding of his eyes by untrue words or by false actions. This 
may be done by: 1. Downright falsehood — the most shameless and shocking of all 
ways. 2. Covert insinuation or innuendo — the most cowardly and despicable of all 
ways. 3. Prevarication, the utterance of a half-truth which is also half a lie — the most 
mischievous, because the mosi plausible and last detected, of all ways. 4. Acted 
untruth — one of the most common forms of falsehood, and perhaps as hurtful to the 
sinner as any, because it avoids apparent guilt, while it really is as culpable as most, if 
not as any, of these manifestations of deceit. 

II. Why it is bo odious to the righteous Pathbb. What makes it " hateful," 
" abominable in his sight " ? 1. It is inherently heinous. The sonl has to make a 
very decided departure from rectitude to commit this sin. We may say of it, " Oh, 
'tis foul ! 'tis unnatural 1 " It is a " strange " thing in the view of the Holy One and 
the True. It is something which comes into direct and sharp collision with his Divine 
principles; which, in its own nature, is a painful, oppressive spectacle to his pure 
spirit. He loves and lives and desires truth — " truth in the inward parts ; " and with 
the same intensity with which he loves truth, he must hate, with immeasurable abomi- 
nation, every shape and form of falsehood. 2. It is minous to the soul that practises 
it. Nothing so surely leads down to spiritual destruction as this sin. It breaks down 
the walls and breaks up the very foundation of all character. For those who habitually 
decline from the truth, in word or deed, are constantly teaching themselves to consider 
that there is nothing sacred in truth at all; they are sliding down the incline at the foot 
of which is the sceptic's question, " What is truth ? " A man who is false in language 
or in action is poisoning his soul by degrees; he is a spiritual suicide. 3. It is 
mischievous to society. "Putting away lying, speak every man truth with his 
neighbour ; /or we are members me of another." Human society depends on truthful- 
ness in its members for its prosperity, comfort, and almost for its very life. What if 
we constantly doubted one another's word? The men of truth and trustworthiness 
are the salt of society. The men of lying tongue are its pest and its peril. Our 
neighbours have a right to claim of us that we shall put away lying lips and shall 
" speak the truth in love." God, who cares for the well-being of this human world, 
hates to see his children weakening, wounding, endangering that world of man by 
falsehood and deceit. tt -n i ■ v 

III. What God will do with those who abe guiltt. He will surely punish 
them.' He does so (1) by making them bear their penalty in the shape of spiritual 
demoralization; (2) by bringing down upon them first the distrust and then the repro- 
bation of their fellows; (3) by excluding them firmly and finally from his own fellow- 
ship. He that does not " speak the truth in his heart " may not abide in his taberMcle 
here (Ps. xv. 1) ; he that deserves to be denominated a liar will be banished feom 
his presence hereafter (Rev. xxii. 15). — 0. 

Vers 1&— 19 — TOe Irand of God. God placed a brand on the first murderer's brow, 
and he 'carried the curse with him to his grave. He does not mark us thus now with 
such signs of guilt; nevertheless, he has made it clear as the day that there are some 
men who are the objects of his very high displeasure. We know from the text that 
among these are — 

I. Men op a pboud heabt. (See above.) 

II. Men OF a false SPIRIT. (See above.) ,»\ rm, v 
HI. Men that abe besponsible fob othebb' death. (Ver. 17.) inoso wnose 

162 THE PROVERBS. [oh. vi. 1—35. 

" bauds shed innocent blood" are strongly condemnod of him. These include, not only 

(1) men guilty of murder and manslaughter in the literal sense, but also (2) those 
v/ho are responsible for the deatli of the innocent through culpable carelessness (e.g. an 

' liidiffejent and negligent judge or reckless captain), and also (3) those who, by their 
lioartlessness in family or social life, crush the spirit and shorten the life. 

IV. Men that plot mischief. " A heart that deviseth wicked imaginations " (ver. 
18). These are they who use their inventive faculties, not for the good of their race, 
iior for the maintenance of their families, but for the base and shameful purpose of 
bringing some of their fellows into distress, if not into ruin; they contrive their over- 
throw only to enjoy their discomfiture. 

V. Cbubi, executioners or wrath. " Those whose feet are swift in running to 
mischief" (ver. 18) ; these are they who take a savage delight in being the instruments 
of punishment — the gaoler, the soldier, the executioner, who gloat over their work of 
severity or blood. 

VI. False witnesses. (Ver. 19.) One of the most solemn and responsible positions 
a man can occupy is the witness-box ; he stands there, invoking the dread Name of 
the Eternal himself to cause justice to be done. If then he perjures himself, and 
" speaketh lies " when actually under oath, he defies his Maker, perverts justice, wrongs 
the innocent or releases the guilty, is disloyal to his country, outrages his own con- 
science. Well may he be among those whom God especially condemns. 

VII. Men that disturb hakmont. " He that soweth discord among brethren " 
(ver. 19). " Blessed are the peacemakers,'' said the Master. '* Cursed are the mischief- 
makers," says the text. If we do not actively promote peace and good will, surely 
we need not be the abettors of strife. There are two degrees of guilt here : there is 
the mischief-making which is due to culpable thoughtlessness, repeating words which 
should have been allowed to fall to the ground, unintentional but decided misrepresen- 
tation, etc. ; and there is the darker wrong, to which a heavier penalty is due, delibe- 
rate and wanton disturbance of previous harmony. This is (1) bad in the social circle, 

(2) worse in the home, (3) worst in the Church of Christ. 

Let it be remembered that: 1. God hates these tilings; they are utterly abhorrent 
to him. He cannot regard them without Divine repuonance. 2. God is " much dis- 
pleased " with those who do them ; his holy and awful wrath must extend to those 
who " do such things." 3. God will surely punish those who impenitently persist in 
tliem (Rom. ii. 2— 9).— 0. 

Vers. 20 — 35. — Sin and safety. These verses may teach ui — 
I. That man lies open to stboso and sad temptations. The reference of the 
text is to the sin of sensuality; the wise man is warning against the wiles of "the 
evil woman," " the strange woman " (ver. 24). This sin of sensuality may consist in 
irregularities, or in things decidedly forbidden, or in gross and shameful violations of 
law and decency ; it may be secret and hidilen from every eye, or it may be unblushing 
and may flaunt itself before high heaven. The words of the text may, in part, apply 
to other sins ; e.g. to intemperance, and also to gambling. To all of these the strong 
pssions of youth often urge the soul; it finds itself drawn or driven by a powerful 
impulse which it is difficult to overcome. But the truth must be faced — 

n. That vice leads down by a sure and short road to the worst inflictions. 
It leads to:_l. Self-reproach. The sinner "shall not be innocent" (ver. 29), and will 
carry the miserable consciousness of guilt with him into every place. 2. Corruption 
of character — such a one " lacketh heait" (marginal reading), "destroyeth his own 
soul" (ver. 32); losing all self-respect, his character is as a substance that is smitten, 
cracked through, ready to fall to pieces, worthless; "a wound" (ver. 33), a deep 
wound, it has gotten. 3. Shame. Men do not despise a thief who steals to allay the 
gnawing pangs of hunger; they may compel him to restore sevenfold, but they pity 
him as much as they despise him (vers. 30, 31). But the adulterer, or the confirmed 
drunkard, or the man who is impoverishing his family to gratify his lust for gambling, 
him men do despise in their hearts; they dishonour him in their soul, they cry 
"shame" upon him (ver. 33). 4. Impoverishment. Loss of money, of occupation, 
^Jeggaryt the humiliation of borrowing, pledging, etc. (ver. 26). 5. Penalty from those 
who have been wronged (vers. 34, 35). Those who outrage the honour of their fellcwi 

OH. vn. 1—27.] 



may exp^^ct the liittcrest revongo. To steal the love of a wife from her husband, or of 
a husband from his wife, is to make one enemy whose wrath nothing will appease. It 
is an evil thing, even if it be not a dangerous thing, to go through life bearing th* 
malice, exposed to the intense and inextinguishable hatred of a human soul. 

III. That tueke is one path op safety. It is that which is suggested in vers. 
27, 28, " Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned ? " etc. The way to 
escape the evil is not to touch it, to steer clear of it altogether, to keep well out of 
harm's way — to avoid the house and company of the flippant woman, to leave the 
sparkling cup untasted, to refuse to stake a farthing in any kind of lottery whatever. 
This is the only secure ground to take. Once begin to talk with the seductive woman, 
or to taste the pleasure of exhilaration from intoxicants, or to enjoy the sweets o( 
appropriating money gained by nothing but a guess, and who shall say what the end 
will be ? Do not touch the fire, and you will not be burnt. 

IV. That the young should bear the ouidino lamp op teuth about them 
ALONG THE WHOLE PATH OF LIFE. (Veis. 20 — 23.) In order to sustain the resolution 
to keep away from the destroying fires, consult the Word of God. 1. Have it in 
continual remembrance (ver. 21). 2. Illustrate it in every way open (ver. 20). 3. 
Find it a steady light, accompanying the steps everywhere (vers. 22, 23). — C. 

Ver. 22. — QocPs Word — guide, guardian, companion. Man is insufficient of himself ; 
he needs help from on high. Often in the course of his life he has goings forth, and 
then he wants direction ; often he finds himself helpless, and then he needs a guardian 
to preserve him ; often he is alone, and then he craves a friend who will commune 
with him. All this he lias in the Word of the living God. It is — 

I. In ACTION, OUE GUIDE. " When thou goest, it shall lead thee." We go " from 
home," " into business," " to sea," " abroad," etc. In all these goings forth we want 
that which will lead lis in the right and the wise way — the way of truth, purity, 
righteousness, happiness. The Wpid of the heavenly Father will supply this. 

II. In danger, oub defence. " When thou sleepest, it shall keep ihee." Not only 
when we are " asleep " on our couch are we in danger from those who might wish to 
injure us, but when we are unconscious of the spiritual dangers by which we are 
surrounded ; when in a state of " innocence," of being uninitiated into the secrets of 
sin ; when we are not alive to duty and opportunity as we should be ; — then the Word 
of God will be a fence, a security. Following it, coming to it to learn God's will, we 
shall know which way to take, what courses to avoid, how to revive and to be reani- 
mated with holy energy and zeal. 

IIL In LONELINESS, OUR COMPANION. " When we awake," when we find ourselves 
with our faculties all in force, and no one to hold fellowship with us, then the Word of 
God will " talk with us." It will speak to us of God our Father, of the supreme value 
of ovu: spiritual nature, of the path of life, of the kingdom of Christ and the salvation 
in him, of the heavenly homei. " Lamp of our feet, whereby we trace," etc (ver. 23). — 0. 



Vers. 1—27. — 13. Thirteenth admonitory 
discourse, containing a warning against 
adultery, treated under » different aspect 
from previous exhortations, and strength- 
ened by an example. In this chapter and 
the following a contrast ia drawn between 
the adulteress and Wisdom. 

Ver. 1.— My son, keep my words. The 
teacher enjoins his pupil, as in ch. ii. 1, to 
observe the rules which he gives.^ lay up, 
as a precious treasure (see on ck. ii. 1 and 7). 

The IiXX. adds here a distich which is not 
in the Hebrew or in any other version, and 
is not germane to the context, however 
excellent in itself: "My son, honour the 
Lord, and thou slialt be strong, and beside 
Mm fear no other." With this we may 
compare Luke xii. 5 and lea. viii. 12, 13. 

Ver. 2. — Keep my commandments, and 
live (see on ch. iv. 4). As the apple Oi 
thine eye; literally, the little man (isAon, 
diminutive of ish) of the eye; so called from 
the miniature reflection of objects seen in 
the pupil, specially of the person who looks 
into another's eye. It is a proverbial ex- 
pression for anything particularly preeioi.s 



[oa. vn. 1—27. 

■nd liable to be injured unless guarded 
with scrupulous care (oomp. Ps. xvii. 8 ; 
Zech. ii. 8). Similarly the Greeks called 
this organ xSpri, "damsel" or "puppet," 
and the Latins papilla. 

Ver. 3. — Bind them upon thy fingers. 
Wear my precepts like a ring on thy finger, 
BO that they may go with thee, whatever 
thou takest in hand. Others think that tlie 
so-called tephiUin, or phylacteries, are meant. 
These were worn both on the hand and the 
forehead, and consisted of u leather box 
containing strips of parchment, on which 
were written four texts, viz. Eiod. xiii. 
1—10; 11—16; Deut. Ti. 4— 9; li. 13— 
21. The box was attached to a leather 
strap wound seven times round the arm, 
three times round the middle finger, and 
the remainder passed round the hand (see 
(Exod. xiii. 9, 16; Jer. xxli. 24). Write 
them upon the table of thine heart (see on 
ch. ill. 8 and yi. 21 ; and comp. Dent. vi. 9). 

Vers. 4 and 5 contain earnest admonitions 
to the pursuit of Wisdom, which is worthy 
of the purest love. 

Ver. 4. — Say unto Wisdom, Thou art my 
lister. Wisdom is personified, and the con- 
nection with her indicated by the relation- 
ship which best expresses love, purity, 
confidence. In the Book of Wisdom viii. 
she is represented as wife. Christ calls 
those who do God's will his brother, and 
sister, and mother (Matt. xii. 50). Call 
■Understanding thy kinswoman ; moda, " fa- 
miliar fiiend." Let prudence and sound 
sense be as dear to thee as a close friend. 

Ver. 5. — That they may keep thee from 
the strange woman (see on oh. ii. 16 and 
vi. 24). When the heart is filled with the 
love of what is good, it is armed against 
the seductions of evil pleasure or whatever 
may entice the soul from God and duty. 
Septuagint, " That she (Wisdom) may keep 
thee (rum the strange and evil woman, if 
she should assail thee with gracious words." 

Vers. 6 — 23. — To show the greatness of 
the danger presented by the seductions of 
the temptress, the vn-iter introduces no 
mere abstraction, no mere personification 
of a quality, but an actual example of what 
had passed before his own eyes. 

Ver. 6.— For. The particle introduces 
the example. At the window of my house. 
He gives a graphic delineation of a scene 
witnessed outside hia house. I looked 
through my casement ; eshniib, " the lattice," 
which served the purpose of our Venetian 
blinds, excluding the sun, but letting the 
ceol air pass into tlie room (comp. Judg. v. 
'ii>). A person within could see all that 

passed in the street without being himself 
visible from without (Oant. ii. 9). The 
Septuagint reads the sentence as spoken of 
the woman : "For from the window glanc- 
ing out of her house into the streets, at one 
whom she might see of the senseless chil- 
dren, a young man void of understanding." 

Ver. 7. — And beheld among the simple 
ones. Though it was night (ver. 9), there 
was light enough from moon or stars or from 
illuminated houses to show what was pass- 
ing. " The simple " are the inexperiencea, 
who are easily led astray (see on ch. i. 4). 
Looking forth into the street on the throng 
of young and thoughtlesg persons passing 
to and fro, among them I disoemed . . , 
a young man void of understanding; a 
fool, who, without any deliberate intention 
of sinning, put himself in the way of temp- 
tation, played on the borders of trans- 
gression. The way of escape was before 
liim, as it is in all temptations (1 Cor. x. 
13), but he would not take it. Such a one 
may well be said to lack understanding, or 
heart, as the Hebrew expresses it (ch. ■»!. 
32, where see note). 

Ver. 8. — Uear her corner. He kept near 
the corner of the house of the woman for 
whom he waited. Another reading gives, 
"near a corner;" juxta (in^ttZam, Vulgate ; 
Trapct yavlttv, Septuagiot ; i.e. he did not take 
to the broad, open street, but sneaked about 
at comers, whence he could watch the 
woman's house without being observed by 
others. He went the way to her house. 
He sauntered slowly along, as the verb 
signifies. Septuagint, " Passing by a comer 
in the passages of her house Qv StiSots oXkuv 

Ver. 9. — In the twilight, in the evening 
of the day. So termed to distinguish it from 
the morning twilight. The moralist sees 
the youtli pacing to and fro in the early 
evening hours, and still watching and wait- 
ing when the darkness was deepest (oomp. 
Job xxiv. 15). In the black and dark 
night; literally, in the pupil of the eye of 
night and in darknest. We have the same 
expression in ch. xx. 20 (where see note) 
to denote midnight. Its appropriateness 
is derived from the fact that the pupil 
of the eye is the dtirk centre in the iris. 
Septuagint: the youth "speaking in the 
darkness of evening, when there is the 
stillness of night and gloom." 

Ver. 10. — And, behold, there met him a 
woman. His long watch is rewarded ; the 
woman comes forth from her house into the 
street — a proceeding which would at once 
show what she was, especially in the East, 
where females are kept secluded, and never 
appear at night or unattended. With the 
attire of an harlot. There is no " with " in 
the original, "woman" and "attire" being 

en. vn. 1—27.1 



in appOBition : " There met him a woman, 
a harlot's dresB" (jshith, Ps. Ixxiii. 6); her 
attire catches the eye at once, and iden- 
tifies her (comp. Gen. xxxviii. 14). In 
Eev. xvii. 4 the harlot ia " arrayed in 
purple and scarlet, and decked with gold 
and precious stoneB and pearls;" and in 
the present case the female is dressed in 
some conspicuous garments, very different 
from the sober clothing of the pnre and 
modest. SahtU of heart (a*?, rrnyj) ; literally, 
of concealed heart; i.e. she hides her real 
feelings, feigning, perhaps, affwction for a 
husband, or love for her paramour, while she 
seeks only to satisfy her evil passions. The 
versions have used a different reading. 
Thus the Septuagint : " Who makes the 
hearts of young men flutter (^I^TTTotreai) ; " 
Vulgate, pr^parata ad capiendas animas, 
" ready to catch souls." 

Vers. 11 and 12 describe the character 
and habits of this woman, not as she ap- 
peared on this occasion, but as she is knovm 
to the writer. 

Ver. 11. — She ia lend ; boisterous, clamor- 
ous, as ch. ix. 13. The description applies 
to a brute beast at certain periods. Stub- 
bom; ungovernable, like an animal that 
will not bear the yoke (Hos. iv. 16). Vul- 
gate, garrula et vaga, " talkative and un- 
settled;" Septuagint, aveirrfpto/ifyTi koI 
So-aiTof, " flighty and debauched." Her feet 
abide not in her house. She is the oppo- 
site of the careful, modest housewife, who 
stays at homo and manages her family 
affairs (Titus ii. 5). The Vulgate inserts 
another trait: quietu impatient, "always 

Ver. 12. — Now is she without, now in the 
streets. At one moment outside her own 
door, at another in the open street. Septua- 
gint : " At one time she roams without 
(€{» pefiPerai)." The woman is represented 
not as a common prostitute, but as a licen- 
tious wife, who, in her unbridled lustful- 
ness, acts the part of a harlot. Lieth in 
wait at every comer; seeking to entice 
some victim. Then the narrative proceeds ; 
the writer returns to what he beheld on the 
occasion to which he refers. 

Ver. 13.— So she caught him, and kissed 
him ; being utterly lost to shame, like Poti- 
phar's wife (Gen. ixxix. 12). With an 
impudent face said; literally, strengthened 
her face and said; put on a bold and brazen 
look to suit the licentious words which she 
spoke. Wordsworth quotes the delineation 
of the "strange woman" drawn by St. 
Ambrose (' De Cain, et Abel.,' i. 4) : " Domi 
inquleta, in plateis vaga, osculis prodiga, 
pudore vilis, amiotn dives, genas picts; 
meretrioio procax motn, infracto per delicias 

incessu, nutantiboa oonlis, et ludentibus 
jaculans palpebris retia, quibus pretiosaa 
animas juvenum capit." 

Ver. 14. — I have peace offerings with me. 
Shelamim, " peace or thank offerings," were 
divided between Jehovah, the priests, and 
the offerer. Part of the appointed victim 
was consumed by fire ; the breast and right 
shoulder were allotted to the priests ; and 
the rest of the animal belonged to the 
person who made the offering, who was to 
eat it with his household on the same day 
as a solemn ceremonial feast (Lev. iii. ; vii.). 
The adulteress says that certain offerings 
were due from her, and she had duly made 
them. This day have I payed my vows. 
And now (the day being reckoned from one 
night to the next) the feast was ready, and 
she invites her paramour to share it Tlie 
religious nature of the feast is utterly 
ignored or forgotten. The shameless woman 
uses the opportunity simply as a convenience 
for her sin. If, as is probable, the "strange 
woman " is a foreigner, she is one who only 
outwardly conforms to the Mosaic Law, but 
in her heart cleaves to the impure worship 
of her heathen home. And doubtless, in 
lax times, these religiotu festivals, even in 
the case of worshippers who were not in- 
fluenced by idolatrous proclivities, degene- 
rated into self-indulgence and excess. The 
early Christian agapas were thus misused 
(1 Cor. xi. 20, etc.); and in modem times 
religious anniversaries have too often become 
occasions of licence and debauchery, their 
solemn origin and pious uses being entirely 
thrust aside. 

Ver. 15.— Therefore came I forth to meet 
thee. As though she would invite the youth 
to a pious rite, she speaks; she uses religion 
as a pretext for her proceedings, trying to 
blind his conscience and to gratify his 
vanity. Diligently to seek thy face, and I 
have found thee (see on ch. i. 28). She tries 
to persuade her dupe that he is the very 
lover for whom she was looking, whereas 
she was ready to take the first that offered. 
Spiritual writers see in this adulteress a type 
of the mystery of iniquity, or false doctrine, 
or the harlot described in Eevelation (ii. 20, 
etc. ; xvii. 1, etc. ; xviii. 9, etc.). 

Ver. 16. — She describes the preparation 
she has made for his entertainment. Cover- 
ings of tapestry ; marbaddim, " cushions," 
"pillows." The expression occurs again in 
ch. xxxi. 22. It is derived from lai, " to 
spread," and means cushions spread out 
ready for use. The Septuagint has Kstpiais ; 
Yn\gsi,te, funibus, "cords." These versions 
seem to regard the word as denoting a kind 
of delicate sacking on which the coverlets 
were laid. Carved works, with fine linen of 
Egypt ; literally, striped, or variegated, cover- 
ings, Egyptian linen. The words are in 



[m. vn. 1 — 27. 

apposition, but the lattrr point to the 
material used, which is )»N, etun (fiiraj 
Ksy6iiei/ov), "linen yarn or thread," hence 
equivalent to " coverleta of Egyptian thread." 
This was of extreme fineness, costly, and 
much prized. By " carved works " (Hebrew, 
niapn, chatuhoth) the Authorizeil Version 
must refer to bed-poles or bed-boards elabo- 
rately carved anil polished ; but the word is 
better taken of coverlets striped in different 
colours, which give the idea of richness and 
luxury. Vulgate, trapetihus pictis ex ^gypto, 
"embroidered rugs of Egyptian work;" 
Septuagint, afitfurdiroLS Tois &ff* AiyvTrTov^ 
" shaggy cloth of Egypt." The mention of 
these articles denotes the foreign commerce 
of the Hebrews, and their appreciation of 
artistic work (comp. Isa. xix. 9 ; Ezek. ixvii. 
7). The Prophet Amos (vi. 4) denounces 
tliose that "lie upon beds of ivory, and 
stretch themselves upon their couches." 

Ver. 17. — ^I have perfumed my bed with 
myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. The sub- 
stances mentioned were dissolved in or mixed 
with water, and then sprinkled on tlie 
couch. The love of such things is reckoned 
as a sign of luxury and vice (Isa. iii. 20, 
etc.). Tlie tliree perfumes are mentioned 
together in Cant. iv. 14 ; " myrrh, aloes, and 
cassia," in Ps. xlv. 8. Septuagint, " I have 
sprinkled my couch witli saffron, and my 
liouse with cinnamon." Myrrh is nowadays 
imported chiefly from Bombay, but it seems 
to be found in Arabia and on the coasts of 
the Red Sea and Persian Gulf. It is a 
gumnjy substance exuding from tlie bark of 
the balsamodeudron when wounded, and 
possessing an aromatic odour not particularly 
agreeable to modern tastes. It was one of 
the ingredients of the holy oil (Exod. xxx. 
23), and was used in the purification of 
women (Esth. ii. 12), as well as in per- 
fuming persons and things, and, mixed with 
aloes, in embalming dead bodies (John xix. 
39). Aloes is the inspissated juice of the 
leaves of the aloe, a leguminous plant grow- 
ing in India, Cochin China, Abyssinia, and 
Socotra. The ancients used the dried root 
for aromatic purposes. It is mentioned by 
Balaam (Numb. xxir. 6). Cinnamon, wliich 
is the same word in Hebrew and Greek, is 
the fragrant bark of a tree growing in 
Ceylon and India and the east coast of 

Ver. 18.— let ns take our fill of love; let 
us intoxicate ounelves (inebriemur, Vulgate) ; 
as tFiough the reason were overthrown by 
sensual passion as much as by drunkenness. 
The bride in Cant. i. 2 says, " Thy love is 
better than wine " (see ch. v. 15, 19, and note 

Ver. 19. — The temptress proceeds to en- 
.■Miirnge the youth by showing that there is 
11(1 Irar of intorruption or detection. The 

goodman is not at home. "Gtoodman" ii 
an old word meaning " master of the house," 
or husband (Matt. xx. 11, etc.); but the 
Hebrew is simply "the man," which ii 
probably a contemptuous way of (peaking 
of the husband whom she was outraging. 
He is gone a long journey ; he has gone to 
a place at a great distance hence. This 
fact might assure her lover that he was safe 
from her husband's jealousy (ch. vi 34); 
but she has further encouragement to offer. 

Ver. 20. — He hath taken a bag of money 
with him ; not only to defray the expenses 
of the journey (a fact which need not be 
dwelt upon), but because he has some 
pecuniary business to transact which will 
occupy his time, and prevent his return before 
the appointed hour. And will come home 
at the day appointed ; better, as the Revised 
Version, he will come home at the full moon 
{in die plena lunas, Vulgate). NM here, and 
nD3 Ps. Ixxxi. 4, are rightly translated 
" tlie full moon," tliis rendering being sup- 
ported by the Syiiao kSso, though the 
etymology is doubtful. As it has before 
been mentiuned that the night was dark 
(ver. 9), it is plain that tliere were still 
many days to run before the moon was full, 
and the husband returned. 

Ver. 21. — Thus far we have had the 
adulteress introduced speaking; now the 
narrative proceeds. With her mnch fair 
speech she caused him to yield. First, she 
influenced hii mind, and bent his will to her 
purpose by her evil eloquence. The Hebrew 
word means " doctrine, or learning" — devil's 
pleading (ch. 1. 5; ix. 9). St. Jerome has 
irretivit, "she netted him;" Septuagint, 
" She caused him to go astray (ojreirAotyijo-t) 
by much converse." She talked him over, 
though indeed he had put himself in the way 
of temptation, and had now no power to 
resist lier seductions. Then with the flatter- 
ing of her lips she forced him ; drew him 
away. His body followed the lead of hia 
blinded mind; he acceded to her solicita- 
tions. Septuagint, "With the snares of her 
lips she ran him aground (e{cSfc€iAE), drove 
him headlong to ruin." 

Ver. 22. — He goeth after her straightway ; 
suddenly, as though, casting aside all scruples, 
he gave himself up to the temptation, and 
with no further delay accompanied her to 
the house. Septuagint, " He followed, being 
cajoled {Keir<paBeis), ensnared like a silly 
bird" (see the article on Cepphus Lanu, 
in Erasmus's ' Adag.,' ».r. " Garrulitas "). As 
an ox goeth to the slaughter. He no more 
realizes the serious issue of his action than 
an irrational beast which, without prevision 
of the future, walks contentedly to the 
slaughter-house, and is stupidly placid in 
the face of death. Or as a fool to the cor- 
reotion of the stocks. There is some diffi 

▼II. 1—27.] 



oulty in the ttanslation of this clause. The 
Authorized Yeision, with which Delitzsch 
virtually agrees, is obtained by transposition 
of the nouns, the natural rendering of the 
Hebrew being " as fetters to the correction 
of a fool." The sense thus obtained is 
obvious: the youth follows the woman, as 
a fool or a criminal is led unresisting to 
coufiuement and degradation. Doubtless 
there is some error in the text, as may bo 
seen by comparison of the versions. Septua- 
gint (with which the Syriao agrees), " As 
a dog to chains, or as a hart struck to 
the liver with an arrow ; " Vulgate, " As » 
frisking lamb, and not knowing that as 
a fuol he is being dragged to bondage." 
The commentators are much divided. 
Fleischer, " As if in fetters to the punish- 
ment of the fool," i,«. of himself; Ewald, 
** As when a steel trap (springs up) for the 
correction of a fool," i.e. when a hidden 
trap suddenly catches an incautious person 
wandering where he lias no business. The 
direct interpretation, that the youth follows 
the harlot, as fetters the proper punishment 
of fools, is unsatisfactory, because the paral- 
lelism leads us to expect a living being 
iustead of " fetters." We are constrained to 
fall back on the Authorized Version as ex- 
hibiting ti>e best mode of reconstructing a 
corrupt text. The youth, with his insensate 
passion, is compared tu the madman or idiot 
who is taken away, uncon^^cious of his fate, 
to a shameful deprivation of liberty. 

Ver. 23. — Till a dart strike through his 
liver. This clause would be bettor taken 
with the preceding verse, as in the Septua- 
gint, or else placed in a parenthesis; then 
the following clause introduces a new com- 
parison. The~ youth follows the harlot till 
his liver, the seat of the passions, id 
thoroughly inflamed, or till fatal conse- 
quences ensue. Theoor, ' Id.,' xi. 15— 

''Zx9t(rToy tx"' vroKipSwv e\Kos 
KvTtpios ix fieyd\as rh oi {jiraTi m^e $e\ffivov. 
"Beneath his breast 
A hateful wound he bore b> Cypiis given, 
Who in his liver fixed the fatal dart." 
Delitzsch would relegate the hemistich to 
the end of the verse, making it denote the 
final result of mad and illicit love. The 
sense thus gained is satisfactory^ but the 
alteration is quite arbitrary, and unsup- 
ported by ancient authority. As a bird 
hasteth to the snare. This is another com- 
parison (see oh. i. 17, the first proverb in 
the book, knd note there). And knoweth 

not that it is for his life ; i.e. the infatuated 
youth does not consider that his life is at 
stake, that he ia bringing upon himself, by 
his vicious rashness, temporal and spiritual 
ruin (oh. v. 1 1 ). 

Ver. 24. — Tlie narrative ends here, and 
the autlior makes a practical exhortation de- 
duced from it. Hearken unto me now there- 
fore, ye children. He began by addressing 
his words to one, "my son" (ver. 1); he 
htie turns to the young generally, knowing 
how necessary is his warning to all strong 
in passion, weak in will, wanting in ex- 
perience. The Septuagint has "my son," 
as in ver. 1. 

Ver. 25. — Let not thine heart decline to 
her ways, Tlie verb satah is used in ch. iv. 
15 (where see note) of turning aside from 
evil; but here, as Delitzsch notes, it is 
especially appiopriate to the case of a faith- 
less wife whose transgression, or declension 
from virtue, is described by this term (Numb. 
V. 12). Go. not astray in her paths. The 
LXX. (in most manuscripts) has only one 
rendering for the two clauses : " Let not 
thine heart Inoliue unto her ways." 

Ver. 26. — For she hath oast down many 
wounded. Delitzsch, "For many are the 
slain whom she hath caused to fall." The 
harlot marks her course wiih ruined souls, 
as a ruthless conqueror leaves a field of 
battle strewn with corpses. Yea, many strong 
(atswm) men have been slain by her. One 
thinks of Samson and David and Solomon, 
the victims of illicit love, and suffering for 
it. Vulgate, et fortissimi quique interfecli 
sunt ah ea, lint the Septuagint and many 
moderns take atsum in the sense of "nu- 
merous," as Ps. XXXV. 18 ; ayapiB/iifToi, 
"innumerable are her slain." The former 
interpretation seems preferable, and avoids 

Ver. 27. — Her house is the way to hell 
(sheol). A warning found in ch. ii. 18 and 
ch. V. 5. Via} in/eri domus ejus. The pluial 
<3"ii is well exiiressed by Hitzig: "Her 
house forms a multiplicity of ways to hell." 
Manifold are the ways of destruction to 
which adultery leads ; but they all look to 
one awful end. Going down to the chambers 
of death. Once entangled in the toils of 
the temptress, the victim may pass throuf^h 
many stages, but he ends finally in the 
lowest depth — destruction of body and soul. 
Spiritual writers see here an adumbration of 
the seductions of false dootriue, and the 
fate to which it brings all who by it are led 

168 THE PROVERBS, [oh. vii. 1—27. 


Vers. 1 — 3. — Keeping the commandments. We are all familiar with the expression, 
" keeping the commandments." But do we all fully comprehend what this involves! 
Let as consider some of the requisites. 

I. Eemembbr the commandments. " Lay up my commandments with thee." The 
Law was treasured in the ark. It is important that great principles should be so 
impressed upon our minds as to perpetually haunt our memories, and recur to our vision 
in critical moments. The school-task of committing the ten commandments to 
memory will not be enough. The text does not refer to the Law of Moses, but to 
parental instruction. Great Christian principles are what we need to treasure up. 

II. Let nothing tamper with the commandments. " Keep my law as the apple 
of thine eye." We cannot bear the smallest speck of dust in the eye. The slightest 
wound is most painful. Let us beware of allowing the least injury to the healthy 
condition of the law within us. Moral scepticism is most dangerous. 

fingers." Thus they will be always before us, and brought into contact with practical 
affairs. It is useless to keep the Law only in the closet. It must be carried with us to 
the workshop, the market-place, the senate-house. How many people's religion never 
reaches their fingers ! Like men with feeble circulation, they have cold extremities. 

IV. Cherish the commandments afpeotionatelt. " Write them upon the table 
of thine heart." This means impressing them upon the whole being — understanding, 
memory, affection. The secret of feeble circulation at the extremities is defective action 
of the heart. If we are to obey the Law we must pray that God will " incline our 
hearts to keep " it. 

Vers. 6 — 27. — Profligacy. [It would not, perhaps, be wise for any one to discuss this 
subject in the presence of a general congregation. The sin is so fearfully contaminating 
that it is scarcely possible to touch it in any way without contracting some defilement ; 
and the few who might benefit by a public exposure of the evils of profligacy would 
be greatly outnumbered by the multitude of people, especially the young, to whom the 
direction of attention to it would be unwholesome. But on special occasions, and before 
special audiences, a strong, clear denunciation of this sin may be called for. We can 
avoid the subject too much, and so leave the sin unrebuked. Certainly some men do 
not seem to realize how fearfully wicked and how fatally ruinous it is.] 

I. It is a desecration of thb temple op God. It is a sin against God as well 
as an offence against society. Utterly abandoned men will set little weight by such a 
consideration, because they have long lost all serious care for their relations with God. 
But it is important that they who are in danger of falling should remeoaber the solemn 
words of St. Paul, and the lofty point of view from which he regards the subject (1 Cor. 
vi. 18, 19). The Christian is a temple of the Holy Spirit. Every man is designed to 
be such a temple. See that this temple is not converted into a nest of corruption. 

II. It is ruinous to any one who succumbs to it. It ruins the mind, degrading 
the whole tone and energy of thought. It is the most gross and disastrous dissipation. 
It ruins the physical health. It ruins wholesome interest in pure delights. It ruins 
business prospects. It ruins reputation. It brings other sins in its train. It ruins 
the soul. He who abandons himself to it is indeed a lost man. 

IIL It is heartlessly obukl. The heaviest guilt lies with the tempter. When 
a man has deluded and ruined a woman, society regards the woman with loathing and 
contempt, while the man often escapes with comparative impunity. This is one of the 
grossest instances of injustice that the future judgment will surely rectify. But in any 
case of profligacy great selfishness and cruelty are shown. The miserable creatures 
who live by sin could not continue their wretched traffic if men did not encourage it. 
The demand creates the supply, and is responsible for the hopeless misery that results, 

IV. It IB fatal to sound social order. It is a gangrene in society, eating out 
its very heart. Nothing more surely undermines the true welfare of a people. It ii 
fatal to the sanctities of the home — sanctities on which the very life of the nation 

OH. vn. I— 27,] THE PEOVBBBS. 159 

V. All this accompanies the INDULaENOB OF WHAT IS PtrBS0BD SOLELY AS A 

SELFISH PLEA8UBE. The profligate man has not the thief's excuse, who may rob 
because he is starving (see ch. vi. 80 — 32); nor can he pretend tbat he is benefiting 
any one else by his wickedness. 

In conclusion: 1. Let the Legislature be urged to repeal any laws that make the 
indulgence of this sin more easy by countertctiug its natural penalties. 2. Let all men 
avoid the smallest temptation towards it — all amusements and scenes that lead thither. 
3. Let employers endeavour to protect young people under theii- charge from the fearful 
dangers of city life. 4. Let Christians seek to save the falling and rescue the fallen in 
the spirit of Christ, who received penitent ^linuers. 


Vers. 1 — ^27. — A tragedy of temptation. This is a fine piece of dramatic moral 
description, and there is no reason why it should not be made use of, handled with tact 
and delicacy, with an audience of young men. 

I. The pbologue. (Vers. 1 — 5.) On ver. 1, see ch. i. 8 ; il. 1 ; vi. 20. On ver. 2, 
see on ch. iv. 4. Here an expression not before used occurs. "Keep my doctrine as 
thine eye-apple;" literally, " the little man in thine eye." It is an Oriental figure for 
what is a treasured possession (Deut. xxxii. 10 ; Ps. xvii. 8). On ver. 3, see on 
ch. iii. 3; vi. 21. "Bind them on thy fingers," like costly rings. Let Wisdom be 
addressed and regarded as " sister," Prudence as " intimate friend " (ver. 4). On ver. 5, 
see on ch. iL 16 ; vi. 24. On the prologue as a whole, remark (1) it is intense in feeling, 
(2) concentrated in purpose, and hence (3) exhaustive in images of that which is 
precious and desirable before all else. It is an overture which gives the theme of the 
drama with the deepest impressiveness. 

II. The fiest act. (Vers. 6 — 9.) The teacher looked through a grated loophole, 
or eshndb, and saw among the silly fools, the simple ones, who passed by or stood 
chatting, one simpleton' in particular, who attracted his notice. He watched him turn 
a corner (hesitating, and looking around a moment, according to Ewald's explanation), 
and pass down a street. The Hebrew word finely shows the deliberacy, the measured 
step, with which he goes ; he has made up his mind to rush into sin. It was late in 
the evening — " dark, dark, dark," says the writer, with tragic and suggestive iteration 
— dark in every sense. The night is prophetic. 

III. The second act. (Vers. 10 — 20.) A woman — " the attire of a harlot " (as if 
she were nothing hut a piece of dress), with a heart fidl of wiles, meets him. She was 
excitable, noisy, uncontrollable, gadding — now in the streets, now in the markets, now 
at every corner (vers. 11, 12). Her characteristics have not changed from ancient 
times. And so with effrontery she seizes and kisses the fool, and solicits him with 
brazen impudence. Thank offerings had " weighed upon " her in consequence of a 
vow ; but this day the sacrificial animal has been slain, and the meat which, according 
to the Law, must be consumed within two days, has been prepared for a feast. And 
she invites him to the entertainment, fires his fancy with luxurious descriptions of the 
variegated tapestries and the neat perfumes of her couch, and the promise of illicit 
pleasures. She alludes with cool shamelessness to her absent husband, who will not 
return till the day of the full moon (ver. 20). " This verse glides smoothly, as if we 
could hear the sweet fluting of the temptress's voice." But it is as the song of birds in 
a wood before an awful storm. 

IV. The THlBD ACT. (Vers. 21 — ^23.) Her seductive speech, the " fulness of her 
doctrine," as the writer ironically says, and the smoothness of her lips, overcome the 
yielding imagination of her victim. Ver. 22 implies that he had hesitated ; but " all at 
once," passion getting the better of reflection, he follows her like a brute under the 
dominion of a foreign will driven to the slaughter-house. He is passive in the power 
of the temptress, as the fool who has got into the stocks. " Till a dart cleave his 

liver" the supposed seat of passion. Hastening like a bird into the net, he knows not 

that his life is at stake. , - t 

V. The epilogue. (Vers. 24—27.) On ver. 24, see on ch. v. 7. "Let not thy 
heart turn aside to her ways, and go not astray on her paths." Propeily, "reel not*' 

160 THE PEOVEEBa [ch. viii. 1—36 

(iihdgdh), aa in cb, v. 20. Beware of that intoxication of the senses and fancy which 
leads to such an end. For she is a feller of men, a cruel murderess (ver. 26). Her 
house is as the vestibule of hell, the facilis descensus Averni — the passage ta the 
chambers of death (see on ch. ii. 18 ; v. 5). 

Lessons. 1. Folly and vice are characteristically the same in every age. Hence 
these scenes have lost none of their dramatic power or iiioial suggestion. 2. Only 
virtue is capable of infinite diversity and charm. The pleasures of mere passion, 
violent at first, pass into monotony, thence into disgust. 3. The character of the 
utter harlot has never been made other than repulsive (even in French fiction, as Znla'g 
'Nana') in poetry. What exists in practical form is mere dregs and refuse. 4. The 
society of pure and refined women is the best antidote to vicious tastes. For to form 
s correct tas^e in any matter is to form, at the same time, a distaste for coarse and 
spurious quahiy. Perhaps reflections of this order may be more useful to young men 
than much declamation. — J. 

Vers. 1 — 27. — Tlie two ways. Here we have— 

L The wat op sin and death. This is : 1, The way of thoughUesmeu. It is 
the "simple ones," the "yoimg men void of understanding " (ver. 7), those who go 
heedlessly " near the comer," " the way to the house " of the tempter or the temptress 
(ver. 8). It is those who " do not consider," who do not think who they are, what 
they are here for, whither they go, what the end will be; — ^it is these who go astray 
and are found in the way of death. 2. The way of darkness. (Ver. 9.) Sin hates the 
light ; it loves the darkness. It cannot endure the penetrating glance, the reproachful 
look, of the good and wise man. It prefers to be where it can better imagine that it is 
tmseen of God. 3. The way of sAame. (Vers. 10 — 20.) The result of habitual sin is 
to rob woman of her native purity, to make her impudent and immudest. How sad, 
beyond almost everything, the effect of guilt that will put shameful thoughts into a 
woman's mind, shameless words into a woman's lips I If sin will do this, what 
enormity of evU will it not work ? 4. The way of falsehood, of pretence, of imposture. 
(Vers. 14, 15.) 6. The way of weakness and defeat. (Vers. 21, 22.) A man, under 
the power of sin, yields himself up; he is vanquished, he surrenders his manliness, he 
has to own to himself that he is miserably beaten. The strong man is slain by sin, tte 
wounded is cast down (ver. 26). He who has gained victories on other fields, and won 
trophies in other ways, is utterly defeated, is taken captive, is humiliated by sin. 6. 
The way of death and damnation. (Ver. 27.) 

II. The way of niaHTEOUSNESS and life. (Vers. 1 — 5.) This is: 1. The way 
o^ attention. The will of God must first be heeded and understood. 2. The way of 
holy love. We must take Divine wisdom to our heart, and love it as that which is 
near and dear to us (ver. 4). 3. The way of wise culture. (Vers. 1 — 3.) We are to 
take the greatest pains to keep God's thou?;ht in our remembrance, before the eyes of 
our soul. We are to take every needful measure to keep it intact, whole, flawless in 
our heart. We are to find it a home in (he inmost chamber, in the sacred places of our 
spirit. Then will this path of righteousness prove to us to be : 4. The path of life. 
Keeping his commandments, we shall "live" (ver. 2). We shall live the life of virtue, 
escaping the snares and wiles of the vicious (ver. 5). We shall live the life of piety 
and integrity, beloved of God, honoured of man, having a good conscience, cherishing 
a good hope through giaoe of eternal life. — 0. 


Vers. 1 — 86. — 14. Foarteenth admonitory 
discourse concemiDg Wisdom — her excel- 
lence, her origin, her gifts. She is con- 
trasted with the strange woman of ch. vii., 
and the exceeding greatness of the blessings 
wiuoh she offers exhibits in the most marked 

manner the nothingness of the deceiver's 
gifts. One is reminded of the celebrated 
episode of the choice of Hercules, delineated 
by Xenophon, 'Memorab.,' ii. 1. 21, etc. The 
chapter divides itself into four sections. (1) 
Introductory (vers. 1 — 3) ; Wisdom calls on 
all to listen, and gives reasons for trusting 
to her (vers. 4—11). (2) She displays her 

OH. vm. 1—86.] 



excellence (vers. 12—21). (3) She dis- 
courses of her origin and action (yers. 22 — 
31). (4) She again inculcates the duty of 
hearkening to lier instructions (vers. 32 — 

Ver. 1.— Doth not Wisdom eryl (see on 
ch. i. 20, and Introduction). The interroga- 
tive form, which expects an aflSrmative 
answer, is a mode of asserting a truth uui- 
versally allowed. Wisdom is personified, 
though we are not so plainly confronted by 
an individual, as in the preceding case of 
the harlot. But it must be remembered 
that, whatever may have been the author's 
exact meaning, liowever worldly a view the 
original enunciation may have attorded, we, 
reading these chapters by the light cast 
upon them by later revelatidu, see in the 
desci iption of Wisdom no mere ideal of pruc- 
tioiil prudence and good sense, no mere 
poetic personification of an abstract quality, 
but an adumbration of him wlio is the Wis- 
dom of God, the coeterual Son of the Father. 
The open, bold, and public utterances of 
Wisdom are in happy contrast to the secret 
and stealthy enticements of Vice. So Christ, 
the true Wisdom, says, " I luive spoken 
openly to the world; I ever taught in the 
synagogues, and in tiie temple, where all 
the Jews come together; and in secret 
eptike I nothing" (John xviii. 20). The 
Siiptuafiint changes the subji ct of this verse, 
and iiiukea the pupil addressed: "Thou 
shalt proclaim (Kr)/)u'|eis) wisdom, that un- 
derstanding {(ppivtiiris) may obey thee;" 
which seems to mean that, if you wish to 
acquire wisdiim, so that i< may serve you 
piaotically, you must act_ as a herald or 
preacher, and mike your "desire generally 
known St. Gregory has some remnrks 
about wilful ignorance of what is right. "It 
is one thing," he says, " to be ignorant ; 
another to have refused to learn. For not 
to know is only ignorance; to refuse to learn 
is pride. And they are the less able to plead 
ignorance in excuse, the more that know- 
ledge is set before them, even against their 
will. We might, perhaps, be able to pass 
along tlio way of this present life in igno- 
rance of this Wisdom, if she herself had not 
steod in the corners of the way " (' Moral.,' 
XXV. 29). 

Ver. 2.— She standeth in the top of high 
places, by the way. She takes her stand, 
not in thievish coiners of the streets, like 
the harlot, but in the most open and elevated 
parts of the city, where she may be best seen 
and heard by all who lass by (see ch. i. 21, 
and note there). In the places of the paths ; 
i.e. where many paths converge, and where 
people meet from different quarters. 

Ver. 8. — The expressions in the text indi- 
cate the position which she takes and its 


capabilities. At the hand of the gates (1 
Sam. xix. 3) . She posts herself at the side 
of the city gates, under the archway pierced 
in the wall, where she is sure of an audience. 
At the month of the city, inside the gate, 
where people pass on their way to the 
country. At the coming in at the doors, hj 
wliioh persons enter the town. Thus she 
catches all comers, those who are entering, 
as well as those who are leaving the city. 
Here standing, as in the Agoia or Forum, 
sha eiieth; she calls aloud, saying what 
follows (vers. 4 — 36). It is a fine picture of 
the comprehensiveness of the gospel, which 
is meant for high and low, prince and peasant; 
which is proclaimed everywhere, iu tiie courts 
of kings, in the lanes of the country, in the 
hovels of the city ; which sets forth the in- 
finite love of God, who is not willing that 
any should perish, but would have all meu 
come to the knowledge of the truth (2 Pet. 
iii. 9). Septuagint, "By the gates of the 
mighty she sits, in the entrances she sings 
aloud (u/iyeiToi)." 

Vers. 4 — 11. — She Bummoos various clas^ee 
of persons to attend to her, showing how 
trustworthy she is, and how precious her 

Ver. 4. — Unto you, men, I call. " Men," 
ishim (Q'?*'**) ; equivalent to HvSpes, viri, meu 
in the highest sense, who have some wisdom 
and experience, but need further enlighten- 
ment (Isa. llii. 3 ; Fs. oxli. 4). The sons of 
man; a:)^ >33, "children of Adam ; " equiva- 
lent to S.i'dpuTToi, hmninee, the general kind 
of men, who are taken up with material 
interests. St. Gregory notes (' Moral.,' xxvii. 
6) that persons (hominei) of perfect life are in 
Scripture sometimes called "men" (viri). 
And . again, " Scripture is wont to call tliose 
persons 'men' who follow the ways of the 
Loid with firm and steady steps. Whence 
Wisdom says in the Proverbs, ' Unto you, 
O men, I call.' As if she were saying openly, 
' I do not speak to women, but to men ; be- 
cause they who are of an unstable mind 
cannot at all understand my words ' " (' Mo- 
ral.,' xxviii. 12, Oxford transl.). 

Ver. 5. — ye simple, nnderstand wisdom. 
*' The simple," those not yet perverted, but 
easily influenced for good or evil. See ou 
ch. i. 4, where alsj is explained the word 
ormdh, used here for " wisdom ; " equivalent 
to ealliditas in a good sense, or iravovpyta, as 
sometimes employed in the Septuagint ; so 
here: yoiiffare &Kaicot wavovpylap, "subtletj'." 
Te fools, be ye of an understanding heart. 
For "fools" (Ithesilim), the intellectually 
heavy and dull, see on oh. i. 22. The heart 
is considered the seat of the mind or under- 
standing (comp. oh. XV. 32; xvii. 16, eta.), 
Septuagint, " Ye that are untaught, take in 



[CH. Tm. 1— 3«. 

heart (^Acrle KapSlav):' The call thus 
addressed to TariouB classes of persons is 
like the section in 1 John ii., " I write unto 
you, little children," etc. 

Ver. 6.— I will speak of excellent tilings ; 
de rebus magnis, Vulgate; aenvi, yap ipu, 
Septuagint. The Hebrew nagid is else- 
where used of persons ; e.g. a prince, leader 
(1 Sam. ix. 16; 1 Ohron. xxvi. 24); so it 
may here be best translated "princely," 
"noble" — an epithet which the subject- 
matter of Wisdom's discourse fully confirms 
(corap. ch. xxii. 20, though the word tlieie 
is different). Hitzig and others, following 
the Syriac, prefer the meaning, " plain, evi- 
dent truths " (comp. ver. 9) ; but the former 
interpretation is most suitable. The open- 
ing of my lips shall be right things. That 
which I announce when I open my mouth 
is just and right (ch. xiiii. lu). Septuagint, 

Ver. 7. — Another co-onUnate reason for 
attention. My mouth ; cliek, " palate " (ch. 
V. 3, where see note); the organ of speech. 
Shall speak truth ; emelh, (see on ch. iii. 3). 
The verb n^g (Jiagah) properly moans "to 
speak with one's stlf," "to meditate;" and 
so the versions translate here, meditdbitm, 
/leAETjjo-ei ; but this idea is not appropriate 
to the word joined with it, " the palate," 
and it must be triken to signify "to utter," 
as in Ps. xxxv. 28 ; xxxvii. 30, etc. 
Wickedness is an abomination to my lips. 
Besha, " wickedness," is tlie contrary of 
moral truth and right. Septuagint, " False 
lips are abominable In my sight." 

Ver. 8. — In righteousness ; i.e. joined with 
righteousness, equivalent to "righteous." 
In oh. iii. 16 the Septuiigint has an addi- 
tion which may perhaps be an echo of tl.ia 
passage: "Out of her nioutli prooeeduth 
righteousness, and she beareth upon her 
tongue law and mercy." But more probably 
it is derived partly from Isa. xlv. 23, and 
partly from ch. xxxi. 26. There is nothing 
froward or perverse in them. In the utter- 
ances of Wisdom there is nothing crooked, 
no distortion of the truth ; all is straight- 
forward and direct. 

Vor. 9. — They are all plain to Mm that 
nnderstandeth. The man who listens to 
and imbibes the teaching of Wisdom finds 
tliese words intelligible, and "to the point." 
Opening his heart to receive Divine in- 
struction, he is rewarded by having his 
understanding enlightened ; for while " the 
nntural man receiveth not the Ihings of the 
Spirit of God" (I Cor. ii. 14), yet "the 
secret of the Lord is with them that fear 
him" (Ps. XXV. 14), and "mysleries are 
revealed unto the meek" (Eoclus. iii. 19, 
Gompluiensian K*). Bight to them that 
find knowledge (ver. 10). They form an 
even path without itumbling-blocks for 

those who have learned to discern right 
from wrong, and are seeking to direct their 
lives in accordance With high -motives. 
Septuagint, "They are all present (iviiria) 
to those that understand, and right (opSi) to 
those that find knowledge." 

Ver. 10. — Beceive my instmction, and not 
Bilver; i.e. acquire wisdom rather than 
silver, if ever the choice is yours. And 
knowledge rather than choice gold (comp. 
ver. 19; ch. iii. 14). (For "knowledge," 
daath, see on oh. ii. 10.) The comparison ii 
implied rather than expressed In the first 
clause, while it is made clear in the second. 
Thus Hob. vi. 6, " I desired mercy, and not 
sacrifice," the second matter mentioned 
being, not necessarily of no importance, but 
always in such cases of inferior importance 
to the other. We may quote Horace's com- 
plaint of the wurldliness of his countrymen, 
a marked contrast to the inspired counsel of 
Proverbs (' Eplst.,' i. 1. 52)— 

" Villus argentum est auro, virtutibus aurum. 
O oives, cives I quserenda pecunia primum 

Virtus post nummoi." 

Ver. 11. — (See ch. iii. 14, 15, and notes.) 
Vers. 12— 21.— Wisdom fells of her own 

Ver. 12. — I wisdom dwell with prudence; 
rather, as in the Eevised Version, 1 havt 
made sublilty (ver. 5) my dwelling. Wisdom 
inhabits prudence, animates and possesses 
that cleverness and tact which is needed for 
the praclical purposes of life. So the Lord 
is said to "inhabit eternity" (Isa. Ivii. 15). 
Septuagint, " I wisdom dwelt (/caTeo-Kiii/ojira) 
in counsel and knowledge," which recalls, 
"The Word wiis made flesh, and dwelt 
(^ff/frfi/iBirey) among us " (John i. 14). In 
1 Tim. vi. 16 we find the expression, " Wlio 
alone hath (ji6vos ex""} immortality," ex- 
changed with the phrase, "Who dwelleth 
{o'ikS>v) in the unapproachable light." And 
find out knowledge of witty inventions. 
Tills rendering refers to the production and 
solution of dark sayings which Wisdom 
effeols. But the expression is better ren- 
dered, "knowledge of deeds of discretion" 
(ch. i. 4), or "of right counsels," and it 
signifies that Wisdom presides over all well- 
considered designs, that they are not beyond 
her sphere, and that she has and uses the 
knowledge of them. Septuagint, " I (Iri) 
called upon understanding," i.e. it is I who 
inspire all good and righteous thought. 

Ver. 13 The fear of the Lord is to hate 

evil. Wisdom here enunciates the proposi- 
tion which is the foundation of all lier teach- 
ing, only here, as it were, on the reverse 
side, not as the beginning of wisdom (ch. i. 
7 ; ix. 10), but as the hatred of evD ; sh« 

OK. VUL 1—36,] 



then jeooeeds to partioulftrize the evil which 
the Lord hates. Taking the clause in this 
sense, weTiave no need to alter the persons 
and forms of the verbs to "I fear the Lord, 
I bate evil," as Dathe and others suggest ; 
still less to suppress the whole paragraph as 
a late insertion. These violent measures 
are arbitrary and quite unnecessary, the 
present text allowing a natural and sufficient 
exposition. There can be no fellowship 
between liglitand darkness; he who serves 
the Lord must renounce the works of the 
devil. Fride and arrogancy, which are 
opposed to the sovereign virtue of humility, 
are the first sins which Wisdom names. 
These are among the things which the Lord 
is said to hate (ch. vi. 17, etc.). "Initium 
omnia [leccati est superbia" (Ecclus. x. 15, 
Vet. Lat.). The evil way; i.e. sins of con- 
duct, "way" being, as commonly, equivalent 
to "manner of life." The froward month; 
literally, mouth of perverseitees, sins of speech 
(see on ch. ii. 12 ; and comp. x. 31) ; 
Vulgate, 08 biKngue. 

Ver. 14. — Having said what she hates, 
Wisdom now says what she is, and what she 
can bestow on her followers. Counsel is 
mine, and sound wisdom. There is some 
doubt about the meaning of the word 
translated "sound wisdom" (tushiyyah'). 
The Vulgate has eequitas; the Septuagint, 
iur^d\cia, "safety." The word occurs else- 
where in this book and in Job, but only in 
two other places of Scripture, viz. Isa. xxviii. 
29 and Micah vi. 9. It means properly 
" elevation " or " furtherance," or, as others 
say, "substance;" and then that which is 
essentially good and useful, which may be 
wisdom, aid, or security (see on ch. ii. 7). 
Wisdom affirms that she possesses counsel 
and all that can help forward righteousness ; 
see Job xii. 13, 16, passages very similar to 
the present (comp. Wisd. viii. 9, etc.). I 
am understanding. Wisdom does not merely 
possess these attributes; they are her very 
nuture, as it is said, " God is love." St. 
Jerome's mea est prudentia, and the LXX.'s 
f/iil <j>p6pri(Tis, lose this trait. I have strength. 
Wisdom directs the energies and powers of 
her pupils, which without her control would 
be spent wrongly or uselessly (comp. Eccles. 
vii. 19). Wisdom, understanding, and 
might are named among the seven gifts of 
the Spirit In Isa. xi. 2 ; and we may see in 
the passage generally an adumbration of 
him who is called " Wonderful, Counsellor, 
the Mighty God" (Isa. ii. 6). 

Ver. 15.— By me kings reign. By posses- 
sion of wisdom kings are enabled to discharge 
their functions duly and righteously. So 
Solomon prayed for wiadom lo enable him 
to rule his subjects properly (1 Kings iii. 9 ; 
Wisd. ix. 4). Princes (rozenim, ch. xxxi. 4) ; 
either those who are weighty, inflexible, or 

those who weigh causes ; the latter explana- 
tion seems most suitable. Vulgate, legum 
mnditorei; Septuagint, ol Swiarai. These 
are said to decree justice ; literally, to engrave 
just decreet on tahlett ; ypd(j>ov<n Siicamaivnv, 
Septuagint. Early expositors take these 
words, as spoken by Chridt, to whom they 
are very plainly applicable (comp. Isa. 
xxxii. 1). 

Ver. 16. — Frinoes; here mrim, "leaders." 
All the judges of the earth. Tliese words 
stand without a conjunction, in apposition 
to what has preceded, by what is called asyn- 
deton tummativwm (oh. i. 21),and gather in one 
view kings, princes, and leaders. Thus the 
Book of Wisdom, which speaks of the duties 
of rulers, commences by addressing ol 
Kphoyres t^v 7^1', "ye tliat are judges of 
the earth." In the East judgment of causes 
was an integral part of a monarch's duties. 
The reading of the Authorized Version is 
supported by the Septuagint, which gives 
Kparovai yris. The Vulgate, Syriac, and 
Chaldeeread, pnx, "justice," in place of yn», 
"earth;" but this seems to have been an 
alteration of the original text derived firom 
some idea of the assertion there made being 
too comprehensive or universal. Nowack 
compares Ps. ii. 10 and cxbiii. 11, "Kings 
of the earth, and all people; princes, and 
all judges of the earth." The Fathers have 
taken these verses as spoken by God, and as 
asserting his supremacy and the providential 
ordering of human government, according 
to St. Paul's saying, " There is no power but 
of God ; and the powers that be are ordained 
of God " (Bom. xiii. 1 ; see St. Augustine, 
• De Civit. Dei,' v. 19). 

Ver. 17. — I love them that love me. So 
Christ says (John xiv. 21), " He that loveth 
me shall be loved of my I?atlier, and I will 
love him, and will manifiSt myself unto 
him." Love attracts love. " Magues amoris 
est amor." They who love virtue and wis- 
dom are regarded with favour by God, whose 
inspiration they have obeyed, obtaining 
grace for grace. So Ben Sira says, " Them 
that love her the Lord doth love " (Ecclus. iv. 
14); 80 Wisd. vii. 28, "God loveth none 
but him that dwelleth with Wisdom." The 
Septuagint changes the verbs in this clause, 
though they are parts of the same word in 
the Hebrew : '^yi> Tohs ifii (piKovvras ayairH. 
This reminds oiie of the passage in the last 
chapter of St. John (xxi. 15 — 17), where a 
similar interchange is made. Those that 
seek me early shall find me (see the con- 
trast in ch. i. 28). " Eaily " may mean from 
tender years; but more probably it is equiva- 
lent to "earnestly," "strenuously," as people 
deeply interested in any pursuit rise betimes 
to set about the necessary work (comp. Isa. 
xxvi. 9; Hos. v. 15). The Septuagint, 
" They who seek (fijToiiiTft) me shall flud." 



[oh. Tin. 1— 36i 

So the Lord says (Matt. vii. 7), " Seek (fij- 
TfiTe), and ye shall flud;"Ecclus. iv. 12, 
"He that loTeth her loveth life; and they 
that seek to her early (oi opBp'iCovTes iriihs 
oiJtV) shall be filled with joy " (corap. Luke 
xxi. 38). 

Ver. 18. — Eiches and honour are with mo 
(see ch. iii. 16). Wisdom has these things in 
her possession to bestow on whom she will, 
as God gave them to Solomon in reward of 
his petition for wisdom (1 Kings iii. 13). 
Durable riches and righteousness. Things 
often regarded as incompatible. Durable, 
pni) (athek), occurs only liere (but see Isa. 

xxiii. 18), and means "old," "venerable," 
" long accumulated ; " hence firm and last- 
ing, Bighteousness is the hist reward that 
Wisdom bestows, without wLicli, indeed, all 
material blessings would be nothing worth. 
Wealth obtained in a right way, and rightly 
used, is durable and stable. This was espu- 
oially true under a temporal dispensation. 
We Christians, however, look not for reward 
in uncertain riches, but in God's favour 
here and happiness in another world. The 
Septuagint, "Possession of many things, 
and righteousness." What is denoted by 
" righteouanois " is further explained in the 
following verses, 19 — 21. 

Ver. 19. — My fruit is better than gold. 
We have had Wisdom called "a tree of 
life" (ch. iii. 18), and the gain from possess- 
ing her compared to gold and silver (ch. 
iii. 14). Fine gold (paz); Septuagint and 
'Vulgate, "precious stone." The word signi- 
fies "purified gold" — gold from wiiich all 
mixture or alloy has been separated. My 
revenue; VuJgate, genimina mea; Septua- 
gint, ^ew^/ioTn; Helirew, tebuah, "produce," 

Ver. 20.— I lead in the way (better, I teallc 
in the way) of righteousness, I act always 
according to the rules of justice. In the 
midst of the paths of judgment. I swerve 
not to one side or the other (ch. iv. 27). So 
the psalmist prays, "Teach me, O Lord, 
the way of thy statutes; and I shall keep 
it unto the end ; " " Cause me to know the 
way wherein I should walk " (Ps. cxix, 33 ; 
cxliii. 8). And the promise is given to the 
faithful in Isa. xxx. 21, "Tliine ears shall 
henr a word beliiud thee, saying, Tiiis is the 
way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right 
hand, and when ye turn to the left." Virtue, 
as Aristotle has taught us, is the mean be- 
tween two extremes. 

Ver. 21. — That I may cause those that 
love me to inherit substance; tf_\ (yeeh), 
S-n-ap^ts, "real, valuable po. sessions." Those 
who love Wisdom will walk in her path, 
follow her leading, and Iherefore, doing 
Gcod'i will, will be blessed with success. 
Such will lay up treasure in heaven, will 
provide bags which wax not old, will bu pre- 

paring for "an Inheritance inoorrnptible, and 
undefiled, and that fadeth not away " (Matt. 
Ti. 20; Luke xii, 83; 1 Pet. i. 4). The 
LXX. here inserts a paragraph ai a kind of 
introdcction to the important section which 
follows: "If I declare unto you the things 
which daily belall, I will remember to re- 
count the things of eternity ; " i.e. thus far 1 
have spoken of the advantages derived from 
Wisdom in daily circumstances ; now I pro- 
ceed to narrate her origin and her doings 
from all eternity. But the additii<n appears 
awkward, and is probably not now in its 
original position. 

Vers, 22 — 31. — Wisdom speaks of her 
origin, her active operations, the part which 
she bore in the creation of the universe, her 
relation to God (see on ch. i 20 and iii. 19, 
and Introduction). It is impossible to decide 
what was the exact view of the writer with 
regnrd to the wisdom of which he speaks so 
eloquently; but there can be no doubt that 
he was guided in his diction so as to give 
expression to the idea of hun whom St. John 
calls the Word of God. The language used 
is not applicahle to an impersonal quality, 
im abstract faculty of God. It describes 
the nature and office of a Person ; and who 
that Person is we learn from the later Scrip- 
tures, wliich speak of Christ as the " Wis- 
dom of God " (Luke li. 49) and "the Power 
of God and the Wisdom of God " (1 Cor. i. 
24). If we confine our inquiry to the ques- 
tion—What was in the mind of the author 
when lie indited this wonderful section con- 
cerning Wisdom ? we shall fail to apprehend 
its true significance, and shall be disowning 
the influence of the Holy Spirit, wtiich in- 
spires all Scripture, which prompted the 
holy men who spake to utter words of which 
they knew not the full spiritual significance, 
and which could only be underslood by sub- 
sequent revelation. There is, then, nothing 
forced or incongruous in seeing in this epi- 
sode a portraiture of the Second Person of 
the blessed Trinity, the essential Wisdom 
of God personified, the Logos of later books, 
and of the gospel. This iuterpretatii)n 
obtained universally in the Church in the 
earliest times, and has commended itself to 
the most learned and reverent of modern 
commentators. That much which was con- 
tained in their own utterances was unknown 
to the prophets of old, that they did not 
fully perceive the myuteries which they 
darkly enunciated, we learn from St. Peter, 

OH. vm. 1 — 36.] 



who tells us that they who propheaied of the 
grace of Christ sought and searched dili- 
gently what the Spirit of God that was in 
them did point unto, and were shown that 
not unto themselves, hut unto us, they 
ministered those things, secrets which 
•ngels themselyes desire to look into (1 Pet. 
i. 10, etc.). Wisdom as a human endow- 
ment, anitoating all intellectual and even 
physicEiI powers ; Wisdom as communicat- 
ing to man moral excellence and piety; 
Wisdom as not only an attribute of God, 
but itself as the eternal thought of God ; — 
under these aspects it is regarded in our 
book ; but under and through all it is more 
or less personified. Khochmah is contrasted 
in the next chapter, not with an abstraction, 
but with an actual woman of impure Ufe — a 
real, not an imaginary, antagonist. The 
personality of the latter intimates that of 
the former (sea Liddon, 'Bampt. Lects.,' 

Yer. 22. — ^e Lord possessed me. Great 
controversy has arisen about the word 
rendered " possessed." The verb used is njg 

{hanah), which meana properly "to erect, 
set upright," also " to found, form " (Gen. 
xivi 19, 22), then "to acquire" (ch. i. 5; 
iv. 5, 7, etc.) or " to possess " (ch. xv. 32 ; 
lix. 8). The Vulgate, Aquila, Theodotion, 
Symmachus, Venetian, give " possessed ; " 
Septuagint, c/cTicre, " made," and so Syriao. 
The Arians took tlie word in the sense of 
"created" (which, though supported by 
the LXX., it seems never to have had), and 
deduced therefrom the Son's inferiority to 
the Fatlier — tliat he was made, not begotten 
from all eternity. Ben Sira more than once 
employs the verb kti^m in speaking of Wis- 
dom's origin; e.g. Ecclus. i. 4, 9i xxiv. 8. 
Opposing the heresy of the Arians, the 
Fathers generally adopted the rendering 
iKri<raro, possedit, "possessed;" and even 
those who received the translation ^ktio-e, ex- 
plained it not of creating, but of appointing, 
thus: The Fatlier S( tWisdom over all created 
things, or made Wisdom to be tlie efficient 
cause of his creatures (Rev. iii. 14). May 
we not say that the writer was guided to 
use a word whicli would- express relation in 
a twofold sense ? Wisdom is regarded either 
as the mind of God expressed in operation, 
or the Second Person of the Holy Trinity ; 
»nd the verb thus signifies that God 
possesses in himself this essential Wisdom, 
and intimates likewise tliat Wisdom by 
eternal generation is a Divine Personality. 
St. John (John i. 1), before saying tliat the 
Word was God, affirms that " the Word was 

with God (i A6yos ^v rphs rhv ©frfv)." So 
we may assert that Solomon has arrived at 
the truth that Wisdom was irpbs t6v Qeiv, if 
he has left it for later revelation to declare 
that ri So<tila or d A6yos Beis ^y. Whichever 
sense we assign to the verb on which the 
difficulty is supposed to hang, whether wo 
take it as "possessed," "formed," or "ac- 
quired," we may safely assume that the 
idea conveyed to Christian minds is this — 
that Wisdom, existing eternally in the 
Godhead, was said to be "formed" or 
"brouglit forth" when it operated in crea- 
tion, and when it assumed human nature. 
In the beginning of his way. So the Vulgate, 
in initio vinrum suarum. But the preposi- 
tion "in" does not occur in the original; 
and the words may be better translated, 
"as the beginning of his way" (Septua- 
gint, e/cTitre /xe apxhv dStaf outou); i.e. 
as the earliest revelation of his working. 
Wisdom, eternal and uncreated, first puts 
forth its eaergy in creation, then be- 
comes incarnate, and is now called, "the 
Firstborn of all creation (wpmrSroKos vitrris 
Kria-er^s)" (Col. i. 15). Thns in Ps. ii. 7, 
"Thou art my Son; this day liave I be- 
gotten thee" (Heb. i. 5); and, "When he 
bringeth in the Firstborn into tlie world, he 
saith, And let all the angels of God worship 
him " (Heb. i. 6). In the present clause, the 
ways of God are his works, as in Job xxvi. 
14 and il. 19, where behemoth is called 
" chief among the ways of God " (cump. Ps. 
cxlv. 17, where " ways " stands as a parallel 
to " works "). Before his works of old. These 
words are better regarded (with Delitzsch) 
as a second parallel object, dip (kedem), 
translated " before," being not a preposi- 
tion, but denoting previous existence. Hence 
we translate, "The foremost of his works of 
old ; " i.e. the earliest revelation of his 
energy. There is a curious passage in the 
' Boolj of Enoch,' ch. xlii., which speaks of 
the personality and pre-existence of Wis- 
dom, of tier desire to dwell among men, 
frustrated by man's wickedness : " Wisdom 
found no place where she could dwell; 
therefore was her dwelling in heaven. Wis- 
duiu came forth in order to dwell among 
the sons of men, and found no habitation ; 
then she returned to her place, and tonk 
her seat among the angels." We may add 
Wisd. viii. 3, "In that she dwelleth with 
God (ffu/n/Sioxric 0€o5 ^xoi'0'<')i '^^ magui- 
fieth her nobility." 

Ver. 23. — I was set np from everlasting. 
The verb used here is remarkable. It is 
TjDJ (naso/c), in niph. ; and it is found in Ps. 
ii. 6, " I have set my King uj)on my holy 
hill." Both here and there it lias been 
translated "anointed," which would make 
a noteworthy reference to Christ. But ther« 



[oh. Tin. 1 — 86, 

leemB ni proof that the word has this mean- 
ing. It signifies properly " to pour forth " 
(as of molten metal), then " to put down," " to 
appoint or establish." The versions recog- 
nize tliis. Thus the Septuagint, " he estab- 
lished (^iBefiehlaxre) me ; " Vulgate, ordinata 
Bum; Aquila, KaTfariBriv; Symmachus, irpoe- 
Xeipio-fiai ; Venetian, K6xw/»ai (comp. Ecclus. i. 
9). So what is here aiid is that Wisdom was 
from everlasting > xalted as ruler and disposer 
of all things. To express eternal relation, 
three synonymous terms are used. From 
everlasting ; irph to5 aiayosj Septuagint, as 
Delitzsoh notes, points back to infinite 
distance. From the beginning; i.e. before 
the world was begun to be made ; as St. John 
says (John i. 1), " In the beginning was the 
Word ; " and Olirist prays, " Glorify thou me 
with tliine own self, with the glory which 1 
had with thee before the world was " (John 
xvii. 5). Or ever the earth was. This looks 
to the most remote time after the actual 
creation, while the earth was being formed 
and ud.ipted. 

Ver. 2i. — The pre-existence of Wisdom is 
still more expressly set forth. When there 
were no depths (vers. 27, 28). The waste of 
waters which covered the face of the earth 
is meant — that great deep on which primeval 
darkness brooded (Gen. i. 2). Before even 
this, man's earliest conception of the begin- 
ning of the world, uncreated Wisdom was. 
Septuagint, "before he made the abysses" 
(see on ch. iii. 20). I was brought forth; 
Vulgale, et ego jam concepta eram; Septua- 
gint, at the end of ver. 25, yew^ /le, " he 
begetteth me." Tlie verb here is hv^ (chul), 
which is used of the travailing of women, 
and is rightly translated, " brought forth 
by generation." It indicates in this place 
the energizing of Wisdom, her conception in 
the Divine mind, and her putting forth in 
operation. When there were no fountains 
abounding with water; i.e. springs in the 
interior of the earth (Gen. vii. 11; comp. 
Job xxii., xxvL, xxxviii.). Septuagint, "Be- 
fore the springs of the waters came forward 

Ver. 2ii. — Before the mountains were 
settled (Job xxxviii. 6). It is questioned 
where the mountains were supposed to be 
fixed, and some have thought that they are 
represented as fixed in the depths of the 
earth. But, as we learn from Gen. i. 9, they 
aie regarded as rising from the waters, their 
foundations are laid in the great deep. So 
the psalmist, speaking of the waters, says, 
" They went up by the mountains, they went 
down by the valleys, unto the place which 
thou hast founded for tuem" (Ps. civ. 8; 
eomp. Ps. xxiv. 2). What is here aCHrmed 
of Wisdom is said of Jeho\ah in Ps. xc. 2, 
"Before the mouutains were brought forth, 
01 ever thou hadst formed the earth and 

the world, even from everlasting to eTor- 
lasting thou art God." 

Ver. 26.— The earth, nor the fields. The 
rlistiuction intended is land as cultivated and 
occupied by buildings, etc., and waste un- 
cultivated land outside towns. Septuagint 
" The Lord made countries and uninhabited 
places (oouc^Tous) ; " Vulgate, Adhue terram 
non fecerai, et jlumina. Hebrew, chutsoth ; 
things without, abroad, hence open country. 
The Vulgate rendering, and that of Aquila 
and Symmachus, e(6Sovs, are plainly errone- 
ous, as waters have already been mentioned 
(ver. 24). The highest part of the dust of 
the world ; literally, the head of the duttg of 
the world. Some have interpreted this ex- 
pression of " man," the chief of those creatures 
which are made of the dust of the ground 
(Gen. iii. 19 ; Ecoles. iii. 20). But the idea 
comes in awkwardly here ; it is not natural 
to introduce man amid the ioanimate works 
of nature, or to u^e such an enigmatical 
designation for him. St. Jerome has, car- 
dines orbis terrarum, " the world's hinges ; " 
Septuagint, " the inhabited summits of the 
earth beneath the heavens;" according to 
St. Hilary ('De Trinit.,' xii.), "cacumina 
qusB habitantur sub coelo." Others take the 
term to signify the capes or promontories o( 
the world, the peaks and elevations ; others, 
the clods of dry, arable land, in contrast 
to the uutilled waste of waters; others, the 
chief elements, the matter of which the earth 
is composed. This last interpretation would 
lead us back to a period which has already 
been passed. Amid the many possible ex- 
planations, it is perhaps best (with Delitzsch, 
Nowack, etc.) to take roih, " head " as equiva- 
lent to " sum," " mass," as in Ps. cxxxix. 17, 
"How great is the sum {rosk) of them I" 
Then the expression comprehensively means 
all the mass of earth's dust. 

Ver. 27. — After asserting the pre-existenoe 
of Wisdom, the writer tells her part in the 
work of creation. When he prepared the 
hoavens, I was there. When God made 
the firmament, and divided the waters above 
it and below (Gen. i. 7), Wisdom co-operated. 
When he set a compass upon the face of the 
depth. iir\ (fshug), "circle," or "circuit" 
(as Job xxii. 14), means the vault of heaven, 
conceived of as resting on the ocean which 
surrounds the earth, in partial accordance 
with the notion in Homer, who speaks o( 
the streams of ocean Sowing back into itself 
ia-^6^j>ooi), • Iliad,' xviii. 399; ' Odyssey,' x. 
508, etc. That the reference is not to the 
marking out a limit for the waters is plain 
from the consideration that this interpreta- 
tion would make the verse identical with 
ver. 29. Thus in Isa. xl. 22 we have, "It 
is he that sitteth above the circle (chug) of 
the earth ; " »'.«. the vault of heaven that en- 
circles the eaith. Septuagint, " When he 

OH. vin. 1 — 36.] 



marked out (oKpdpi^i) his throne upon the 
windB." The translators have referred tehom, 
"depth," to the waters above. 

Ver. 28. — When be established the clouds 
above. The reference is to the waters above 
the firmament (Gen. i. 7), wfainh are sus- 
pended in the ether; and the idea is that 
God thus made this medium capablo of 
sustaining tliem. Yulgate, Quando «theia 
firmahat sursum ; Septuagint, " When he 
made strong the clouds above " (comp. Job 
xxvi. 8). 'When he strengthened the foun- 
tains of the deep ; rather, as in the Revised 
Version, when the fountains of the deep 
hecame strong ; i.e. when the great deep (Gen. 
vii. 11) burst forth with power (comp. Job 
xxxviii. 16). The Septuagint anticipates 
the following details by here rendering, 
" When he made secure the fountains of the 
earth beneath the heaven." 

Ver. 29. — ^When he gave to the sea his 
decree (ehok, as Job xxviii. 26 ; Jer. v. 22) ; 
or, its bounds. The moaning is much the 
same in either case, being what is expressed 
in Job xxxviii. 8, etc., "Who shut up the 
sea with doors . . . and prescribed for it 
my decree, and set bars and doors, and said. 
Hitherto shalt thou cnme, and no further, 
■ and here shall tby proud waves be stayed?" 
The LXX. omits this hemistich. When he 
appointed the fonndations of the earth. 
Job xxxviii. 4, "Where wast thou when I 
laid the foundations of the earth ? . . . Who 
determined tiie measures thereof? or who 
stretched the line upon it? Wherein were 
the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid 
the corner-stone thereof ? " 

Ver. 30.— Then I was by him. Wisd. 
ix. 9, "Wisdom was with thee; which 
knoweth thy works, and was present when 
thou madest the world." So John i. 2, 
" The Word was with God." As one brought 
up with him ; Vulgate, eunota componens ; 
Septuagint, 'H/niy irap' avT^ apfio^ovaa, " I 
was with him arranging things in har- 
mony." The Hebrew word is ]tot!! {amon), 
"an artificer,"" workman" (Jer.lii. 15). Tlius 
in Wisd;" vii. 22 Wisdom is called ri -irdvrav 
t^XvItis, "the worker of all things." The 
Authorized Version takes the word in a 
passive state, as equivalent to alumnus, 
"foster-child," and this interprettition is 
etymologically admissible, and may possibly, 
as gchultens suggests, be glanced at in St. 
John's expression (i. 18), "the only begotten 
Son, which is in the bosom of the Father." 
But as the point here is the creative energy 
of Wisdom, it is best to take the term as 
denoting "artificer." It will then accord 
with the expreision Siiiuovpy'hs, applied by 
the Fathers to the Word of God, by whom 
■U things were made (Eph. iii. 9, Textus 
Eeeeptus, and Heb. i. 2). And I was daily 
Ills delight ; literally, 1 was delights day by 

day, which may moan either as in Authorized 
Version, or " I had delight continually," i.e. 
it may signify (1) either that God took 
pleasure in the wisdom which displayed his 
workmanship, saw that it was very good 
(Gen. i. 4, etc.), looked with delight on the 
beloved Son in whom he was well pleased 
(Matt. iii. 17, cte.) ; or (2) it may mean that 
Wisdom herself rejoiced in her pow6r and 
her work, rejoiced in giving effect to tlie 
Creator's idea, and so "founding the earth" 
(ch. iii. 19). \u]guie, delectdbar per singulos 
dies. The Septuagint adopts the former of 
tliese views, "I was that wherein he took 
delight." But tiie second interpretation 
seems most suitable, as the paragraph is 
stating rather what Wisdom is in herself 
than what she was in the eyes of Jehovah. 
What follows is a parallel. Bejoicing always 
before him ; Vulgate, ludens coram eo omni 
t m-pore, as though the work of creation was 
a sport and pastime of a happy holiday. The 
expression is meant to denote the ease with 
which the operations were performed, and 
the pleasure wliich their execution yielded. 
David uses tlie same word, speaking of his 
dancing before tlie ark, when he says, 
" Therefore will I play before the Lord " 
(2 Sam. vi. 21 ; comp. oh. x. 23). 

Ver. 31. — Bejoicing in the habitable part 
of his earth. Wisdom declares wherein she 
chiefly delighted, viz. in the world as the 
habitation of rational creatures. " And God 
saw everything that he had made, and, 
behold, it was very good" (Gen. i. 31); 
comp, Fs. civ. 31, and see the eloquent 
account of Wisdom in the book so named 
(vii. 22 — viii. 1). My delights were with the 
sons of men, Man, made in the image of 
God, is the principal object of creative 
Wisdom's pleasure ; and her joy is fulfilled 
only in the Incarnation. When the Word 
became flesh, then was the end and design 
of creation exhibited, and the infinite love 
of God towards man made, as it were, 
visible and palpable. Septuagint, " Because 
he rejoiced when he completed the world 
(rkiv otKovii.iv'rtv), and rejoiced in the children 
of men." 

Vers. 32—36. — Wisdom renewi the ex- 
hortation before given (ch. v. 7; vii. 24), but 
now on higher, and not merely moral or 
social grounds. She deduces, from her 
Divine origin and her care for man, the 
lesson that she is to be sought and prized 
and obeyed above all things. 

Ver. 32.— Now therefore — ^having regard 
to what I have revealed of myself— hearken 
nnto me, ye children ; Septuagint, " Hear 
me, my son." Blessed are they that keep 
my ways. The expression is interjectional : 
" Blessings on the man 1 salvation to the 



[oh. Ym. 1 —Sa. 

man!" m in ch. iil. 13. For the tcoy* of 
Wisdom, Bee ch. iii. 17. 

Ver. 33.— Be wise. Thig will be the 
effect of attending to the injunction, Hear 
instrnotion (see on ch. iii. 4). The Vatican 
text of the Septuagint omits this verse; it 
is added in the Alexandrian and Sin.' 

Ver. 34. — ^Watching daily at my gates. 
The idea suggested has been variously 
taken ; e.g. as that of ea^er students waiting 
at the school door for their teacher's appear- 
ance; clients besieging a great man's por- 
tals; Levites guarding the doors of the 
temple ; a lover at liis mistress's gate. This 
last notion is supported by Wied. viii. 2, 
" I loved her, and sought her out from my 
youth; I desired to make her my spouse, 
and I was a lover of her beauty." Waiting 
at the posts of my doors; keeping close to 
the entrance, so as to be quite sure of not 
missing lier whom he longs to see. 

Ver. 35. — For whoso findeth me findeth 
life, Here is the reaton why the man is 
blessed wlio attends to the instruction of 
Wisdom. A similar promise is made at cli. 
iii. 16, 18, 22. Tlie truth here enunciated 
is also spoken of the Word of God, the ever- 
lasting Son of the Father. John i. 4, " In 
him was life; and the life was the light 
of men;" John iii. 36, "He that believeth 
on the Son hath eternal life ; " John xvii. 
3, " This is life eternal, that they should 
know thee the only true God, and him whom 
thou didst send, even Jesus Christ" (com p. 
John viii. 51 ; 1 John v. 12 ; Ecclus. iv. 12). 
ShaU obtain favour of the lord; Vulgate, 
liauriet ialutem, which happily renders the 

Hebrew verb (ch. rii. 2). The grace of OoA 
bringeth salvation (Titus ii. 11). Septnv 
gint, " For my outgoings (eloSoi) are the 
outgoings of life, and the will il prepared 
by the Lord (koI iroiiidCerat BtXtfiris xoo4 
Kvplov)." This latter clause was used by 
the Fathers, especially in the Pelagian 
controversy, to prove the necessity of pre- 
venient grace (see St. Augustine, 'Enchi- 
ridion,' ii. 32; <De Gralia,' vi. 16, IT). 

VcT. 36. — He that slnneth against me 
wrongeth his own soul. So Septuagint and 
Vulgate. And the truth stated is o)ivious — 
he who refuses to obey Wisdom, and trans- 
gresses her wholesome rules, will smart for 
it. Every sin involves punishment, injurei 
the spiritual life, and demands satisraction. 
But Delitzsch and others take 'ijp'n, " my 
sinning one," "my sinner," in tlie older 
sense of " missing," as Job v. 24, the derived 
meaning of "binning" springing naturally 
from the idea of deviating from the right 
way or failing to hit the mark. So here 
the translation will be "he who misseth 
me," which is a good contrast to " whoso 
findelh me," of ver. 35. He who takes a 
path which does not lead towisilom is guilty 
of moral suicide. All that hate me love 
death (ch. vii. 27). " He that believotli not 
the Son shall not see life; but the wrnth of 
God abideth on him " (John iii. 36). They 
wlio will not hearken to Wisdom, and who 
scorn her counsels, do virtually love death, 
because they love the things and the practises 
which lead to death, temporal and spiritual 
Job iii. 10, "They that sin are enemies 
to their own life " (comp. Wisd. i. 12). 


Ver. 5. — Wisdom for the simple. We may divide the simple into three classes. 
1. There are those who think themselves wise while they are but fools: there is no 
hope for such. 2. There are people who make no pretence to wisdom, but who have 
chosen folly, and are quite indifferent to the claims and charms of wisdom. 3. There 
are anxious seekers after wisdom, who feel their present ignorance and incompetence 
with acute distress, and long to be among the wise, but despair of reaching the privi- 
leged circle. The first class will refuse to believe that the call of wisdom is for them, 
but to the other two it may come with eifect. 

I. The simple kebd wisdom. This reflection should concern the second class — 
those who as yet have despised and rejected wisdom. 1. Wisdom is a joy. Even 
pleasure is rejected in the renunciation of truth, knowledge, thought, the vision of 
God, and the revelation of hi.s will. The narrow mind is a dark mind, and when the 
light of God breaks in it will be seen that many new delights of knowledge and joys of 
Divine truth, which have long been missed, can now be happily received. 2. Wisdom is a 
safeguard. Men stumble in the dark. Snares are set for the unwary. In this great, 
mysterious world we may easily go astray and be lost, perhaps be entrapped in fearful 
soul-perils. It is much to know the way, to know ourselves, to know our dangers, to 
know the will of God and how to have his guiding and saving help. 3. Wisdom is life. 
The foolish soul is but half alive, and it is on the road to destruction. Mere knowledge 
itself is a free intellectual life, and the exercise of thought in the practical apiilioation 
of the truth which we have assimilated, i.e. wisdom, is a living activity. It is motti 

OTLTm. 1— 36.] THE PROVERBS. 169 

unfortunate that many young men in the present day seem to despise all intellectual 
pursuits, and confine the attention of tlieir leisure moments to idle amusements or at 
best to athletics. They fail to see the mental death that they are courting. But 
infinitely worse are they wlio turn from the moral side of wisdom — the fear of the 
Lord — and pursue the folly of godlessness, for this is soul-death. 

II. The simple may have wisdom. Here is the encouragement for the third class 
of the simple. It is fur children, for weak minds, and for uneducated people. 1. Mental 
improvement is attainable. Where there is a will to rise, the young man under most 
disadvantageous circumstances will find the means to cultivate self-education. 2. The 
highest wisdom is spiritual. This wisdom is not like Greek philosophy — only open to 
intellectual culture. It is the truth of God that may be revealed to "babes and suck- 
lings" (Matt. xxi. 16), and yet it is the highest truth. To be spiritually wise we need 
not be mentally clever. What is wanted is a sincere love of truth, a pure heart, and a 
childlike teachibleness. 3. 3%e gospel brings wisdom to the simple. That gospel wag 
Bcofied at for its apparent simplicity. Yet it was indeed the wisdom as well as the 
power of God (1 Cor, i. 24). Christ comes to us as the eternal Wisdom incarnate. 
The simple may know liim, and when such receive Christ they receive the Light of the 
world and a loftier wisdom than wa^i ever reached by the sages of antiquity or can 
ever be attained in the cold light of science. 

Ver. 9. — Plain words. The words of wisdom are here described as " plain words." 
This expression has been so often abused that it is almost as important to see what it 
doea not mean as to consider what it does mean. 

I. What the bxpbession does not mean. 1. Lack of grace. A mistake arising 
from the confusion of two meanings of the term "plnin" has been pointed out by 
Archbishop Whately, and yet it is often repented. "Plain" means smooth, simple, 
easy, intelligible; "plain" also means bare, unadorned, unbenutiful. The two mean- 
ings are quite distinct. But some have thought that a plain sermon must be a sermon 
wanting in all grace of style and beauty of illustiation. This is an inappropriate use 
of the word "plain." Tlie woids of Christ were plain, i.e. clear and simple; yet they 
were very beautiful .and full of living illustrations. The duty to be plain is no excuse 
for slovenliness of speech. 2. Intellectual fiebleness. Some people insist on having* 
"simple gosiel" in a way that leads one to think they would condemn all vigour of 
thought. They forget that the teaching of St. Paul, which they admire so much, 
teemed with the highest intellectuality, and that he regarded the truth of the crucified 
Christ as the wisdom of God, and only as falsely mistaken for foolishness by the 
Greeks. It is the charm of the highest thinking tliat it can simplify difficulties. We 
sometimes fail to detect the great intellectual power of a writer just because this has 
been so perfect as to disguise all effort and make the result of processes of thought clear ; 
while the laboured attempts of weaker minds induce us to mistake obscurity for pro- 
fundity. Any subject looks simple in the hands of a master. 3. Rudeness and 
oWenaiveness. Disagreeable people make a virtue of being plain-spoken when they are 
really harsh and inconsiderate. There is no unkindness about the plain words of the 
Bible. The Christian teacher should remember the admonitions, "Be pitiful, be 

courteous." ' .. ^ . .,. , ^ ^i j * • j 

II. What the expeession dobs mean. 1. It signifies that the words of wisdom are 
inteiligible. The first object of revelation, of course, is to reveal. The first object of 
speech is to declare thoughts. It is the neglect of this simple point that has given an 
excnse for the sarcasm that "words were invented to conceal thoughts. Ihe first 
duty of the speaker is to be plain. Afterwards he may be ornate it he will. But when 
the decorations of speech encumber its free movement and prevent it from acoomphsh- 
ing its practical ends, they are altogether encumbrances. And when intellMtual power 
is wasted on a mere display of its own exercise, or confined to inventing difficulties and 
making obscure what was originally clear and simple, this also is misdirected. The 
Divine wisdom of the Bible claims to be intelligible. It is true that many people find 
ereat difficulties in its pages, and all of us must confess that they are not to be fully 
measured and sounded. But (1) they who approach them in a^ right way having a 
spiritual mind, so necessary for the discernment of spiritual things, will bj able to 
understand th..*main, most important truths of Christianity ; and (2) whatever disputes 

170 THE PEOVEEBS. [oh. vm. 1—36. 

may be raised about the meaning of the more abstract doctrines, the directions of duty 
and the indications of the things we are to do for our soul's welfare are plain; indeed, 
the obscurity of religious subjects varies proportionately with their abstractness, with 
their separation from our life and duty. 2. It signifies that the words of wisdom indi- 
cate a plain and simple course of action. They .are " right," or rather " straight to 
those that find knowledge." We are not called to any complicated course of aotiou. 
The intricacies of casuistry are not to te found in the Book of Proverbs nor anywhere 
else in the Bible. The way of duty is simple and straightforward. 

Ver. 13. — Hatred of evil. I. Eeligion djcludbs mobals. This is the broad lesson 
of the text. It should be accepted as a self-evident truism. Yet it has been often 
obscured by dangerous sophisms. Thus some have regarded religion as consisting in 
correctness of creed or in assiduity of devotinn — things treated by Q-od as worthless 
unless accompanied by rigUteousnoss of conduct (Isa. i. 10 — 17). There is a common 
impression that religious merits uiMy be pleaded as a set-off against moral deficiencies. 
No assumption can be more false, nor can any be more degrading or more injurious. 
The reverse is true. Eelii;iousness increases the guilt of unrighteousness of life by 
raising the standard up to which one is supposed to live, and also adds the sin of 
hypocrisy. True religion is impossible without a proportionate devotion to righteous- 
ness, because it consists in the fear of God. But God is holy ; to reverence him must 
involve the adoration of his character — the love of goodness and the corresponding detes- 
tation of its opposite. 

II. EBLiaiON INSPIRES MORALS WITH STR0N8 EMOTION. Morality is to obey the law. 
Eeligion goes further, and hates evil. It is not a matter of outward conduct only. It 
goes down to the secret springs of action. It rouses the deepest passions of the soul. 
We cannot accept Mr. M. Arnold's definition of religion as " morality touched with 
emotion," because it ignores the foundation of religion in " the fear of the Lord," in 
devotion to a personal God; but the phrase may serve as an apt description of an 
essential characteristic of religion. The difficulty we all feel is that, while we know the 
better way we are often so weak as to choose the worse. A cold, bare exposition of 
morality will be of little use with this difficulty. What we want is a powerful impulse, 
and that impulse it is the function of religion to supply. It makes goodness not only 
visible but beautiful and attractive, and it inspires a hunger and thirst after righteous- 
less, a passion for a God-like life in the love of God, a yearning after the likeness of 
Christ in devotion of heart to him. It also makes evil appear hideous, detestable, by its 
horrilrle opposition to these affi ctiuns. 

III. Among religious emotions is the passion of hatred. Religion is not based 
upon hatred. It begins with " the fear of the Lord," with reverence for God rising up to 
love. No strong thing can rest on a mere negation. Neither morality nor religion 
starts from an attitude in regard to evil. But they lea'l on to this, and they are not perfect 
without it. The passion of hatred is natural ; it has a useful, though a low, place in 
the array of spiritual forces. It is abused when it is spent upon persons, but it is 
rightly indulged against evil principles and practices. We are morally defective unless 
we can feel " the hate of hate, and scorn of scorn." One of the means by which we are 
helped to resist sin is found in this hatred of it. It is not enough that we disapprove 
of it. We must loathe and abhor it from the very bottom of our hearts. 


ITS CONSEQUENCES. When Paley, in his ' Moral Philosophy,' described the function of 
religion in aiding morality as the addition of the prospect of future rewards and 
promises, he expressed a common-sense truth, but a very low truth detached from 
moie spiritual ideas and a very partial representation of the case. Eeligious 
morality is not simply nor chiefly the fear of God as a Judge who will punish us if we ■ 
do wrong. It is reverence for a holy Father leading to hatred of all that is displeasing 
to him. We have no religion till we go beyond the instinctive dislike for pain that 
follows sin to hatred of sin itself. This is the test of true religion — ^that we love good- 
ness and hate evil /or their own Bakes. It is interesting to observe that the sin selected 
for special abhorrence on the [lart of those who are inspired by " the fear of the Lord " 
is pride. This is spiritual wickedness of the most fatal charjicter. In its feeling of 
personal merit and self-sufficiency it excludes both repentance and faith the two 

OH. vm. 1—36.] THE PROVERBS. 171 

fundamental conditions of spiritual religion. Therefore the spirit of the Pharisee and 
all pride must be hated above all things, and will be hated by those who have true 
reverence for the great and holy God, and true love for the lowly Christ who promised 
the kingdom of heaven to the " poor in spirit " (Matt. v. 3). 

Ver. 17. — The bkssedness of loving and seeking Christ. Wisdom is here personified. 
This is only the beginning of a process that is to grow tlirough subsequent ages, mani- 
festing itself in the Books of Wisdom and Bcclasiasticus, and finally developing into 
the doctrine of the " Logos " and the great revelation of Christ as the incarnate Word of 
God. We must not pretend to see the perfected thought in its earliest germ. The 
first personification of wisdom is little more than a figure of speech, an instance of the 
rich imaginative habits of Oriental thinking. Nevertheless, we know Christ to be 
the full, living embodiment of God's wisdom. What is true of that wisdom is true of 
him. And, therefore, though the writer of the wonis before us had no thought of 
Jesus Christ the Son of God and Son of man, his teaching concerning Divine wisdom 
may be most useful when we connect it with the one perfect revelation of wisdom in 
our Saviour. 

I. Love for love. 1. Love to Christ must precede a deep knowledge of Christ. We 
love before we seek and find. Of course, we must know something of him to arouse 
our love ; but when this initial knowledge is atiained, Love must have her perfect work 
before knowledge can ripen. 2. Love to Christ must be based on what is lovable in him. 
Wisdom is beautitul and attractive, and can excite love. How much more, then, 
should the incarnation of Wisdom iu our brother man do this ! The contemplation of 
the beautiful life of Christ and the study cf his perfect character urge us to love him; 
but surely what he has done for us, his sacrifice ol' himself, his death on our behalf, 
must be our chief grounds for loving him. 3. This love to Christ will be mtt by his love 
in return. It is true that his love precedes ours, nay, that it is ihe great source of our 
love. But (1) it is not felt and enjoyed till it is returned, so that then it seems to come 
afresh as an answer to our love; and (2) there must be a stronger, more tender, more 
intimate love to those who appreciate it than can be given to others. Christ loved all 
men, but not as he loied St. John. Christians loving Christ enjoy his peculiar love. 
4. To be loved by Christ is the best reward of loving him. True love is satisfied with 
nothing less than a return of love, but it is satisfied with this. If we have nothing else 
we have a pearl of great price in the love of Christ. Then we can afford to lose all 
earthly good things, can count them but dung, that we may win Christ. 

II. FiNDiNO FOR SBEKiNO. 1. We must seek Christ if we would possess him. He 
offers himself to all as a Saviour and a Master. But he must be followed and found. 
Our love to him will be the great attraction ever drawing us nearer to him. 2. The 
search for Christ must be earnest if it is to be successful. He will not answer a lialf- 
hearted call. Till we seek him with determination, reality, persistence, we shall meet 
no response. We must seek him before all things, must make Christ the chief end of 
life. 3. This earnest seeking will be rewarded by the receiving of Christ. Wisdom 
comes to him who seeks laboriously and patiently ; much more will Wisdom incarnate. 
Wisdom with a heart to sympathize. Such a response will be the best reward of 
seeking. Better than anything that Christ could send us will be his own coming to 
dwell in our hearts. This will be the satisfaction of anxious inquiry in a full response, 
the blessing of love with love and close communion. 

Vers. 22 — 31. — The primeval glory of Divine wisdom. I. The hfghest wisdom is 
CREATED BY GoD. " The Lord created me as the first of his way." This idea was 
suggested to the Greeks in the myth of Athene, who sprang from the head of Zeus. It 
is the poetic form of the great truth that God is the Creator of thoughts as well as of 
things; and it suggests that he not only called individual intelligences into being, but 
originated the primary laws and conditions of all intelligence, just as he ordained the 
laws of nature and the conditions of physical existence as well as the rocks and plants 
and animals subsequently created. 

IL Divine wisdom was antecedent to material creation. "'Twas wrought 
from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was." Thought precedes 
•etion. Design anticipates execution. The architect comes before the builder. 

17a THE PBOVERSa t<M- ▼ni. 1— Sft 

Archetypal ideas precede creative work. In the awful depths of priraeyal antiquity 
the great Thinker wrought out the plans of the universe which as the great Worker h< 
has been since evolving in visible existences. 

III. Wisdom accompanied and directed phtsioal creation. "I was by him as 
a II. aster-worker." Wisdom did not coase when force appeared. The two wrought 
together. The result of their joint operation is the energetic cosmos — force and 
tliought triumphing over death and chaos. When we endeavour to discover the secrets 
of nature, we are searching out the wisdom of Grod. When we learn the laws and pro- 
cesses of nature, we are able to think the thoughts of God. The naturalist shnuld walk 
reverently, for he is treading in the footsteps of the mind of God. It should be our 
aim in studying nature to find God in his wisdom. 

IV. The Divine wisdom in creation leads on to the triumph of lipb and 
ORDER. First there is the confusion of the elements. Gradually these elements are 
marshalled into order till Wisdom is able to "rejoice in his earthly world." The 
onward movement of all things here indicated and illustrated very fully by recent 
science reveals the wisdom of God with increasing clearness. Instead of thinking ol 
that wisdom as chiefly manifested in primitive creation, we should see that it is most 
active and most glorious in the latest anil richest development of the life of the universe. 

V. This wisddm is one of the most glorious of the Divine attributes. God 
has glory of thought as well as glory of character. There must be all phases of perfec- 
tion in the perfect Mind. God is not only to be regarded on the side of moial law and 
religious worship. He is the great Mathematician, Architect, Philosopher, Poet. Our 
thoughts of God are too " Churchy." God is not only in the church. He is much in 
the fields. Ho has his workshops as well as his temples ; nay, they are his best temples. 
Let us try to find him in " secular " thought and work, and worship him the more for 
the wisdom seen in his " earthly world." 

Ver. 29. — The decree of the sea. We live under the reign of law. This fact is taken 
to be the late revelation of rnodern science. But it is embedded in Old Testament 
teaching. There we see that the laws of nature, which are but the ways of God on 
earth, are recognized as fixed and stable. But the Bible helps us in two ways in 
examining those laws. First, it traces them back to their origin in a peisonal will. 
These are not merely channels of a blind force. .They are decrees of an authority. 
Secondly, it teaches us to believe that they are good, wisely directed and tending to 
righteousness. They come from a wise, holy, just, and benevolent source. The decree 
of the sea has a special significance. 

I. It has a vast domain. The sea covers three parts of the surface of the globe. 
Leagues upon leagues of spreading ocean roll roimd the earth with every tide. The sea 
is depp, and hides in its many waters myriads of living creatures. The fearful storms 
that sweep its surface tell sad tales of its more than giant strength. Here we are face 
to face with a frightful nature-power. Yet that power is under law. God's decree 
encircles it, and his hand reins it in with irresistible might. The sea is great, but God 
is greater; strong, but God is stronger. As we look at the fearful might and majesty 
of the ocean, we are called to bow before the infinitely greater Power who holds its 
waters in the"hollow of his hand. If we tremble before its terror, we may remember 
that it is but the inanimate slave of our Father in heaven. 

II. It IB ENSHRINED IN MYSTERY. Men have discovered some of the laws of tides, 
currents, storms, etc. Yet the ocean is still, in many le-spects, a great mystery. What 
caverns are hidden beneath its dark waters ? What monsters of the deep may still 
elude the grasp of man's observation? What secret terrors may burst upon his 
astounded gaze? Here is indeed a mystery. Yet this is all known to God, governed 
by God, subject to his law, humbly obedient to his decree. God rules over all the 
mysteries of the universe. 

III. It GOVERNS change. The sea is the symbol of fickleness and deception — to-day 
smooth as a mirror, " green calm below, blue quietness above" (Whittier) ; to-morrow a 
black and storm-tossed chaos. Its restless waves never cease to crawl to and fro on 
the quietest day ; its tides are ever ebbing and flowing. Yet it obeys law. T! ere are 
laws of chanfje, as in night and day, the seasons, etc. God rules over all the vicis»itude» 
of life. Change does not mean chance. 

OH, Tin. 1—36.] THE PBOVBBBS. 173 

IV. It ovbrkitlbb confusion. God's decree does not prevent the tempest, but the 
tempest itself obeys the law of God. The wild and wintry waste of waters, flecked 
with foam, and scoured with an^ry billows, is all under law and order. It is so in life. 
God does not prevent trouble ; but he overrules it and limits its extent. 

This decree of the sea is typical of the Divine government of what looks most 
tumultuous and lawless in life. Apply it throughout with the four points — vastness, 
mystery, change, and confusion — (1) to earthly ciroiimstaaces ; (2) to tlie ocean of 
human life ; (3) to the soul, that sea of many storms. 

Ver. 30. — The pre-eminent glory of Christ. This is affirmed of wisdom, and wisdom 
in the Proverbs is always an abstraction, an attribute of God, or a grace conferred upon 
man. Thus we have the highly imaginative picture of a certain quality of thought 
described like a personal favourite in the heavenly presence. But surely it is not 
necessary for us to rest with this idea. The New Tesbtnieiit cannot be out of our 
minds when we read tlie Old. It was not lon>i before Jews learnt to personify wisdom, 
and when Christ appi ared he realized in his own Person what had previously been 
ascribed to an abstract quality. Christ is " the Truth " (John xiv. 6) and " the 
Wisdom of God " (1 Cor. i. 24). His pre-existence is affirme.l by himself (John viii. 
58) and repeatedly asserted by his apostles (e.y. Col. i. 16). We may, then, think 
of Christ embodying this wisdom of God in the awful ages of the past, and see 
how truly what is here predicated of wisdom applies to him in whom that wisdom 

I. Wisdom in Christ was with God. " I was by him." 1. Wisdom wot cUtvaya 
vnth Ood, always at his right hand. There was never a time when God acted blindly, 
imperfectly, without full consciousness. We have no ground for ttiinking of a lawless 
chaos previous to the exercise of Divine wisdom and power in creation. Even when 
the world was " without form and void " (Gen. i. 2), God's wise thought presided over it. 
God's mind did not grow like ours, from infantile simplicity. He was ever fully God. 
2. Christ was similarly eternal with Ood. " The Word was with God " (John i. 1). 
When he came to our earth he came forth from God. His condescension was seen 
in this, that he left his place by the right hand of his Father and came down to dwell 
with men. 

II. Wisdom in Ohbist was concerned in creation. 1. Ood made the universe 
in wisdom. It bears the impress of thought. Deep purposes have impregnated it. 
Creation is a parable of infinite ideas. 2. Qod created all things through Christ. " By 
whom he made the worlds " (Heb. i. 2). Of course, the humanity of Jesus was not then 
existing. But the Divine side of our Lord was not only eternal ; it was even directly 
active. Therefore there is a Christ-spirit in nature. 

III. Wisdom in Christ was God'b daily delight. 1. Ood rejoices over his work, 
as an artist over the thing of beauty that his hnnd has fashioned according to the 
dream of his heart. " God saw that it was good " (Gen. i 10). The thought that 
is in God's wurk is his especial delight. He cares not for mere exhibitions of brute 
force. He loves wisdom. 2. Ood rejoices over Christ. So Chi ist is God's " beloved 
Son" (Matt. iii. 17). There are times when we grieve our Father, though at other 
seasons he may smile upon us. But Christ always dwelt under the smile of his 
Father, a daily delight — rejoiced in for his wisdom and the holy and gracious use he 
luade of it. 

IV. Christ, by his wisdom, was bkjoicino always before God. Wisdom is a 
source of joy. Wisdom devoted to God is doubly joyous. Christ had an ancient joy 
(John XV. 11). He left a happy home to come to us. The word for this joy is " sport- 
ing." 1b there humour in nature ? May there be in heaven those lighter, innocent 
joys which make up so much of the mirth of children on earth? Why should Christ 
have been always solemn ? 

Vers. 35, 36. Life and favovr with Ood. It is common to see this and similai 

passages applied directly to the soul's possession of God, or to the special Christian 
faith in Jesus Christ. Now, it is quite true that we have here in germ what will lead 
up to those experiences. But apart from the mistake of ignoring the distinction 
between the elementary truth uid its full developmentj there is a practical considera- 

174 THE PEOVBRBS. [oh. vm. 1— 3& 

tion that is too often overlooked. It is thought to be good policy to "Christianize" 
these passages of the Old Testament ; ».«. it is thought they are thus most profitably 
used. On this low ground even an answer can be' given — it may be shown that the 
policy is bad. The more Christian idea is true in itself. But it is expressed clearly 
enough in the New Testament. We gain no new light, therefore, if we contrive to see it 
here. -We simply repeat a lesson that we have learnt elsewhere. But if we take the 
more literal meaning of the words, then, though the thought given to us may not be so 
exalted nor so valuable as the perfected Christian thought, it may have a distinct worth 
and use of its own, and therefore may add somewhat to our knowledge of Divine thinga 
— an addition which we should not have if we read the words as a mere repetition of 
what we had already learnt elsewhere, however much more important that other lesson 
might be. The New Testament teaclies us that we have life in Christ. We who 
have that later and fuller revelation gain little or nothing by reading the same truth 
in the Book of Proverbs. That life is to he found in the Divine wislom may be a liss 
valuable thought. But it is a distinct thought, and therefore some addition to our 
knowledge ; and as such it should be spiritually helpful to us. For this reason, though 
it may be perfectly legitimate for us to show how the words of our text foreshadow 
the great truths of Christianity, it may be more profitable for us to keep to their simple 
meaning, and see how life and Divine favour are received through the finding of Divine 

I. What is meakt by finding Divine wisdom. 1. It is not the mere knowledge of 
religiom doctrine. Many have this, and yet miss the life eternal. We may know the 
Bible without knowing God. 2. It is not the results of some rare intuition, nor the 
achievements of elaborate intellectual effort ; it is neither the vision of the mystic nor 
the secret of the Gnostic. For this wisdom is repeatedly offered to the simple with a 
most general invitation (e.g. vers. 4, 5). 3. To fitid Divine wisdom is to come to the 
knowledge of Ood as far as this affects our own conduct, to know his disposition 
towards us, his will regarding our conduct, the way of life to which he calls us ; it ift 
further to know so much of God's ways and thoughts as to be able to set them before 
us as a pattern, and thus to imbibe some of the great primeval wisdom described in the 
preceding verses; lastly, it is to set these thoughts in relation to practice and to make 
the knowledge of Divine things the rule of life. 


Life. (1) In this wisdom we see the way to life — that life which is to Christians here 
on earth as well as hereafter the life eternal. (2) The only life worth living is that 
lived with thoughts of God and aims directed by the knowledge of God. Eternal life 
corisistj in this knowledge of God. 2. The favour of Ood. God is pleased with ub 
in so far as we walk in his ways. Divine wisdom only can direct us arijiht, so that we 
may please God. But the very habit of mind that consists in the thinking of Divine 
thoughts and the desiring and attempting to accomplish the purposes of Divine wisdom 
must be pleasing to God. 

" Base-minded they that want intelligence ; 
For God himself for wisdom most is prais'd, 
And men to God thereby are nighest rais'd." 



that misseth me," etc. 1. The common evils of life will lead to our ruin unless we are 
saved by higher means. The traveller who rejects the guide may perish in the perils 
of his path ; the patient who disobeys the physician may die of his disease. We shall 
ruin ourselves in sin " if we neglect so great salvation." 2. The rejection of DiviTie 
wisdom is itself a fatal sin. It is our duty to hearken to its voice. If we refuse to 
do this, we shaU suffer as a penalty for our wilful disobedience to the message bom 

OH. vm. 1—36.] THE PROVERBS. 176 


Vers. 1 — ^9. — Wisdom's proclamation. Again it is a poetical personification of truth, 
of God's Word, of religion, morality, sense, prudence ; for all these are included in the 
comprehensive conception of wisdom that is placed before us. 

I. The proclamation of truth has never failed in the wobld. The cry ii 
coeval with the world, with the conscience of man. The preacher has an institution 
second to none in antiquity and in honour. 

II. The peeachee must be conspicuous to and audible by all. (Vers. 2, 3.) On 
Hused ground, in lonely paths (ver. 2), in the open air, in the field and forest; and 
(ver. 3) in the towns and cities, at the places of public resort and traflac, at the gates 
in the Orient, in the centre of Western cities, the preacher's voice has been lieard. 
All eminent teachers in books are truly agents of Wisdom, and heralds of the king- 
dom of God. 

III. The substance of true prbaohinq must be the same in evert aoe. 1. It 
is human (ver. 3), and therefore intelligible, rational, practical. 2. It is especially 
addressed to inexperience — to the foolish and the thoughtless (see on ch. i. 4). 3. It 
deals with dear and manifest truth (see Hitzig's reading of ver. 6), and so commends itself 
to every man's conscience in the sight of God. 4. It is disinterested, free from sophistry 
and compromise (ver. 7). 5. It is Just — correct and accurate in knowledge of human 
nature and of Divine things (ver. 8). And thus it is: 6. Acceptable and irresistible by 
the " honest and good heart" (ver. 9). — J. 

Vers. 10 — 21. — Wisdom's pleadings. She has nothing novel to say concerning her 
nature, value, and blessings. Preaching must in the main be repetition ; the iteration 
of the old, not with dry and sterile monotony, but with that freshness which com- 
parison with everyday facts and illustrations gives. New combinations of facts are ever 
arising in which to frame the old precepts and set them forth. Besides, love gives 
novelty to old truth, as the old song is enjoyed from the lips of the latest sweet singer. 

I. She appeals to comparison. (Vers. 10, 11.) By comparison we increase and 
strengthen our perceptions. In the knowledge of man, books, art, life, comparison is 
everything. We are to compare Wisdom with material objects of sense, such as gold 
and silver, that we may see her to be incomparable ; and so each for ourselves repeat 
the choice of Solomon (comp. on ch. iii. 14, 15). 

II. She appeals to association. (Ver. 12.) Wisdom dwells with prudence. In 
modern language, the general implies the particular. Wisdom is intelligence in 
general ; prudence, the appreciation of it in particular cases. In the poetical mode of 
representation we should say that Piety and Prudence are sisters, and go haad-in-hand, 
daughters of the voice of God, as Wordsworth said of duty. So, too. Wisdom has 
insii-'ht into enigmas, dark sayings, and geuerally deep things of God (see on ch. i. 4). 

III. She unfolds the contents of her mind. (Vers. 13, 14.) One of her many 
aliases is the fear of Jehovah. And this is religion, which includes all wholesome 
aversions, viz. wickedness in general, and in particular assumption, arrogance, evil 
habits, perverted speech. In other words, her sympathies are all with lowliness, purity, 
love, and truth. Insight or sharp and deep perception is another of her attributes, and 
force (comp. on ch. ii. 7). 

IV. She claims supreme authority. (Vers. 15, 16.) Kings, rulers, princes, poten- 
tates, judges, — all received those places and fulfil those functions through her and her 
alone'. Authority in politics rests on consent or on force, or both. And these are 
traceable ultimately to reason, and reason is the "inspiration of the Almighty." 
Exceptions form no part of this representation. In modem language, we say that 
government, as a principle or institute, rests on an ultimate Divine basis. The text 
says no less than this, nor does it say more. v tt , . 

V. She is in ebcipeocal relation to her subjects. (Ver. 17.) Her love is con- 
ditioned by love; the winning of her by the wooing. The notion that we can bo 
passive, whether in knowledge or goodness, is an entire illusion. Such an illusion once 
prevailed as the doctrine of "innate Ideas" now exploded in philosophy. AU that 

176 THE PEOVEBBa [oh. vni. 1—36. 

becomes the portion of head or heart implies, necessitates a preriouB spiritual activity 
in us. We are ignorant because we will not learn, unhappy because we will not love. 

VI. She commands wbalth and honour and the avenues to them. (Vers. 18 — 21.) 
Riches, honour, "self-increasing goods, and righteous" (comp. on ch. iii. 16), The 
righteous here is elucidated by the next two verses; she shows the right way to all 
earthly good. She is a tree of life, and yields incomparable fruit both for value and 
abundance (ver. 19). She guarantees possessions to her votaries. The connection 
between righteous and worldly wealth is insisted on. Not that it is always obvious. Nor 
again are we to expect notice of exceptions in teaching that is from first to last absolute ~ 
in form. The stringency of the comiection is what we have to recognize; the know- 
ledge of its complete application to all cases opens the relations of eternity and demands 
the omniscience of God. — J. 

Vers. 22 — 36. — Wisdom in eternity and in time. This sublime view lifts us at once 
above the seeming contradictions of time, and suggests the solution of all its problems 
in God. 

I. She 18 OF THE Divine bboinninqs ob elements. (Ver. 22.) An element in 
chemistry is the last simple substance we can reach in analysis. An element in thouglit 
is the last simple notion yielded by the dialectic of the understanding. Wisdom is 
thus be/ore the visible creation — the earth, the sea, the mountains. The verses do but 
repeat and iterate this one simple and sublime thought. We may in like manner vary 
it in any form of thought and expression familiar to us. She is the Divine a priori; 
the logic of nature and spirit; the last and first, the ground of all existence; the 
eternal reason, the transcendent cause, the alpha and omega of the cosmic alphabet. 
We are trying to express the inexpressible, utter the unutterable, define the undefinable, 
find out GoJ to perfection, if we press beyond these poor forms of speech and igaore the 
limit which separates the known from the unknowable, and reason from faith. 


WISDOM. (Ver. 27.) What we term in science the discovery of law is for religion the 
revelation of the mind of God in the world and in us. The cosmos is here conceived 
under the forms of the poetic imagination — the heavens and their outstretched circle or 
vault ; the clouds as massive bags or skins ; the springs on earth as set in motion by 
direct Divine activity; the sea as bounded by a positive fiat; the earth as fixed on 
firm J illars, by one act as it were of the Divine Architect. And then was Wisdom at 
his sijp as mistress of the work (ver. 30), and was in delight day by day (ver. 30), 
" playing before him always ; playing on the circle of the earth, and I had my delii;ht 
in men " (ver. 31). One of the best illustrations of the poetical force and sense of this 
passage is in the Wisdom of Siraoh xxiv.: "I went forth from the mouth of the 
Highest, and as a mist I covered the earth. I pitched my tent in the heights, and my 
throne was as a pillar of cloud. The gyre of heaven I encircled alone, and in the 
depths of abysses I walked about. In the billows of the sea, and in all the earth, and 
among every people and nation, I was busy " (vers. 3 — 6). 

III. Wisdom's appeal and promises. (Vers. 32—86.) 1. The appeal. "Listen 
to me, listen to instruction!" Drink out of this spring of eternity, whose currents 
flow through all the tracts of nature and of man. " Resist not ! " for to resist is to 
oppose the law of things and to invite destruction. Let them be so eager to listen and 
to know that they shall daily apply, daily stand as suppliants or visitors at her door I 
2. The promises. Happiness is repeatedly foretold (vers. 32, 34). Life in all senses, 
intensive and extensive (ver. 35). Favour with Jehovah (ver. 35). And it follows, as 
the night the day, that he who sins against Wisdom, whether by neglect or direct 
disobedience, is guilty of a moral suicide, and shows a contempt for life and happiness, 
a perverse preference for death (see on ch. iv. 13, 22 ; vii. 27 ; conip. Ezek. xviii. 21).— J. 

Vers. 1 — 21. — The excellency of Divine wisdom : No. 1. In these verses we have 
portrayed to us the surpassing excellency of the wisdom of God. 

I. It is audible to evert one. " Duth not Wisdom cry," etc.? (ver. 1 : see homily 
on cL i. 20— 23). 

II. It is urgent and importunate. (Vers. 2 — 4; see homily on ch. i. 20 — 23.) 
IIL It makes its appeal to 'jnivkrsal man. (Vers. 4, 5.) " Unto you, men, 

OH. vm. 1—36.] THE PROVERBS. 177 

I call," etc. There is nothing exclusive or partial in its address. Its sympathies are 
wide as the human aoul. It draws no lineii of latitude or longitude in any kingdcu, 
beyond which it does not pass. It appeals to man — Jew and Gentile, male and fenwle, 
bond and free, learned and ignorant, wise and foolish (simple), moral and immoral (fooU). 

IV. It 18 IN ruLL harmony with all that is best within ds. Some voices 
that address us make their appeal to that which is lower or even lowest in our nature. 
Divine wisdom appeals to that, which is highest and best. 1. To our sense of what if 
right and good (vers, 6, 7). 2. To our love of tliat which is true (ver. 7). 

V. It is an appbeciablb thing. (Ver. 9.) Though it takes liigli ground, not 
rooting itself in anything base, but making its appeal to that which is purest and 
noblest in our nature, it is still appreciable by all who can estimate anything at its 
true worth. To " him that understandeth," to the man who is capable of any discern- 
ment, the words of heavenly wisdom will be plain — they will "receive them gladly;" 
while to those who have reached any height in attainment, the teaching of wisdom 
will be recognized as the excellent thing it is. The students of law will find in it the 
illustraticn of all true order; the disciples of ethics will perceive in it all that is 
morally sound and satisfying to the conscience; those who admire "the beautiful" will 
recognize that which is exquisite, admirable, sublime. The te.iching of Divine wisdom 
is " right to them that find knowledge." 

VI. It is intimately associated with intelligent observation. It consequently 
results in useful contrivances (ver. 12). So far Irom heavenly wisdom being confined, 
in its principles and its results, to the realm of the abstract and unseen, it is most 
closely allied with, and is constantly found in the company of, simple, homely discretion, 
the careful, intelligent observation of all surrounding objects and passing incidents. 
It issues, therefore, in " witty inventions." 

Vil. It issues in, and is illustrated by, moral and spiritual worth. (Ver. 13.) 
" The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom," and the fcai' of the Lord is so 
intimately and essentially bound up with the hatred of evil, that they may be practically 
identified; we may say that "the fear of the Lord is to hate evil" — evil in all its 
forms, " pride, arrogancy," etc. — C. 

Vers. 1 — 21 (continued). — The excellency of Divine wisdom: No. 2. We have also 
these features of the wisdom of God — 

I. It endows with the wealth which is the product of virtue. (Vers. 20, 21.) 
It leads in that "way of righteousness" and those "paths of judgment" which res-ilt 
in "inheriting substance," and being "filled with treasures." It places in the hand of 
its followers all that measure of earthly good which they can regard with holy satisfaction 
and enjuy with a good conscience. 

II. It is a boubcb or strength and influence in human society. (Vers. 14 — 16.) 
It is attended with that breadth of understanding, that knowledge of affairs, that insight 
into " men and things," which gives sagacity to statesmen and stability to thrones. 

III. It reoipeooates an attachment. (Ver. 17.) The more we know, the more 
attractive does knowledge become to our admiring spirit. The further we advance info 
its domain, the firmer becomes our footing and the brighter becomes the light. More- 
over, the hijihest peaks attainable by man are only reached by those who begin to climb 
in the days of their youth (vide homily infra). 

IV. It'is of incomparable value to the human soul. (Vers. 10, 11, 18, 19.) 
If the choice should lie between wealth and wisdom, it is better far to choose the latter ; 
for: 1. While wealth will not buy wisdom, wisdom will leail to wealth, later if not 
fooner, of ono kind if not of another. 2. Wisdom itself is wealth ; it is the posseBsion 
of the mind, it is the inheritance of the soul, it is "durable riehes and righteousness." 

The excellency of Divine wisdom : No. 3 (see below).— C. 

Vers. 1 — 21. — " CTirist the Wisdom of Qod :" No. 1. Though it is not to be supposed 
that Jesus Christ was in the mind of the writer of this passage, yet as he does personify 
wisdom, and as wisdom was incarnated in that Son of man who was the Son of God, 
wo should expect to find that the words of the wise man in the text would ajiply, in 
lurge measure, to the Lord Jesus Christ. They do so, and suggest to us— 

I. The manner or his te aching. (Vers. 1—3.) He "spake openly to the world, 


178 THE PROVERBS. [oh. vm. 1—36. 

. . . taught in the synagogue, and in the temple," etc. (John xviii. 20; Bee Luke It. 15 ; 
John vii. 14, 26, 28 ; Mark vi. 34 ; Matt. v. 1, 2). 

IL His appeal to all classes and conditions of men. (Vera. 4, 5.) He came 
unto the world at large, to " draw all men unto him." None were, none are, so poor 
or so rich, so ignorant or so learned, bo simple or bo subtle, so degraded or so refined, so 
spiritually destitute or so privileged, as to he out of range of his heavenly voice. All 
need his message ; all are welcome to his kingdom. 

III. His manifestation of the truth. (Vers. 6 — 8.) He came " to bear witness 
unto the truth" (John xviii. 37). He came to he the living Truth himself (John xir. 
6), so that the more we know of him and grow up into him, the more of Divine truth 
do we receive into our souls. 

IV. Tee appbeoiableness of his messaoe. (Ver. 9.) When he spake with his 
own lips, men received his words, wondering at his wisdom and his grace (see Luke ii. 
47 ; iv. 22, 32 ; Matt. viL 28, 29). " Never man spake like this Man," said the oflScers 
to the chief priests (John vii. 46). " The common people heard him gladly " (Mark 
xii. 37). And now that he speaks to mankind from heaven, his message of truth and 
love is comprehensible to all who care to know his mind. To those who earnestly seek, 
the way becomes plain; to those who have " spiritual discernment," the deeper tlungs of 
God are intelligible; to those who " know him," his dealings are seen to be right and true. 

V. His kbsponsiveness. (Ver. 17.) (See succeeding homily.) 

VI. His mcoMPAEABLB wobth. (Vers. 10, 11.) Jewels, compared with him, are 
empty toys ; gold, compared with him, is sordid dust. So great is his worth to the 
hungering heart, to the suffering spirit, to living, dying man, that all forms of earthly 
good are not to be named or c(.unted in comparison. ^ 

VII. His seevioe issues in the best op all possible bbcompensk. (Vers. 18 — 21.) 
The fruit of the service of Christ is honour, joy (including peace), righteousn