Proverbs 2


An Admonitory Discourse, Pointing Out the Benefits

Which Arise from a Sincere, Earnest, and Persevering Search after Wisdom.


This discourse divides itself into three parts:


  • Vs. 1-9: a statement of the conditions which, 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 Ensurer of

safety to the righteous.


  • Vs. 10-19: the negatively beneficial results of Wisdom, in delivery

from the paths of evil, from destructive lusts and passions, from the

temptations of wicked men and wicked women.


  • Vs. 20-22: the epilogue, or conclusion, combining encouragement on

the one hand, and warning on the other.


1 “My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with

thee;” - The teacher here reverts to the original form of his address, as

appears from the employment of the term, my son. It seems clear that it is

no longer Wisdom personified who is the speaker, from the fact that the

words, “wisdom and understanding” in v. 2 are used without the

possessive pronoun “my,” which would have been undoubtedly inserted if

this address had been a continuation of the discourse in the preceding

chapter. Some of the ideas of that address, however, are restated, as the

crying and lifting up the voice after Wisdom, and the conclusion, wherein

the respective destinies of the pious and wicked are portrayed. The particle

if (μae) is conditional, and serves to introduce the series of clauses (vs.

1-4) which lay down the conditions upon which the promises depend, and

which form the protasis to the double apodosis in vs. 5 and 9. De Wette,

Meyer, and Delitzsch regard it as voluntative, as expressing a wish on the

part of the teacher, and translate, “Oh that thou wouldst!” and אֵם, “if,” is

used in this way in Psalm 139:19; but the Septuagint (ἐάνean - if) and

Vulgate (si) make it conditional. It is repeated in an emphatic form in v. 3.

Receive. The verbs “receive” and “hide” show that the endeavor after Wisdom

is to be candid and sincere. “To receive” (לָקַה) seems to be here used, like the

Septuagint -  . δεχέσθαι dechesthai - 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 “commandments” is

stronger than “words”  so “hide” is stronger than “receive.  The

emphasizing is carried on in the following verses in the same way, and at

length culminates in v. 4, which sums up the ardent spirit in which the

search after Wisdom is to be prosecuted in presenting it to us in its

strongest form. Hide. The original (צַפַן, tsaphan) is here used in a

different sense to that in which it occurs in ch.1:11 and 18. It

here refers, as in ch. 7:1; 10:14; and 13:22, to the storing or

laying up, as of treasure, in some secret repository, and means “to lay up.”

The Divine commands of the teacher are to be hidden in safe custody in the

memory, in the understanding, in the conscience, and in the heart (compare

ch. 4:21; 7:1). The psalmist expresses the same idea in Psalm 119:11, “Thy

 words have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against thee.”


2 “So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to

understanding;”  This verse is dependent on the preceding. So that thou incline.

The literal translation is “to incline;” but the inclination of the ear and the

application of the heart follow as a consequence upon the preceding ideas

(cf. the Vulgate, ut audiat sapientiam auris tua). The root idea of the

original (קָשַׁב, kashav) is “to sharpen,” viz. the ear as expressed, and so to

give diligent attention to the precepts of Wisdom. In ch. 1:24 it is

rendered “to regard.” To apply thine heart is to turn the heart with the

whole scope of its powers, in the spirit of humility and eagerness, to

understanding. As the ear represents the outward vehicle of

communication, so the heart (לִב, lev) represents the inward, the

intellectual faculty, the mind, or it may mean the affections as suggested by

the Septuagint -  καρδίαkardiaheart - and Vulgate cor. Understanding

(תְּבוּנָה, tvunah) is here interchanged with “wisdom,” which must determine

its meaning to some extent. The Septuagint interpreters take it as σύνεσις

sunesis  - the faculty of comprehension.” Like בִינָה (vinah) in ch.1:2, 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. A

second 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 right and what

wrong. The ideas of wisdom and understanding seem to some extent to be

brought forward as personifications. They are things outside of ourselves,

to which WE HAVE TO GIVE ATTENTION.   Religion appeals not only

to the affections, but also to the intellect, AS THIS SATISFIES ALL



3  Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for

understanding;”  Yea, if thou criest after knowledge. The endeavor 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

ch. 1:20-21). Knowledge; i.e. insight. In the original there is

practically little difference between “knowledge” and “understanding”

(בִּינָה and תְּבוּנָה). They carry on the idea expressed in “understanding” in

the preceding verse, and thus throw the emphasis on the verbs. The Septuagint

and Vulgate, however, take “knowledge” as equivalent to σοφίαsophia

sapientia, “wisdom.” The reading of the Targum, “If thou callest

understanding thy mother,” arises from reading אִם for אֵם, but is not to be

preferred to the Masoretic text, as it destroys the parallelism.


4 “If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid

treasures;”  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 Wisdom is to BE PERSEVERING, UNRELAXING

 and DILIGENT,  like the unremitting toil and labor with which men

carry on mining operations. (I will try to relate the spirit  from my own

experience in digging for Indian relics.  We use to slave in moving rocks and dirt

to try to find something interesting to add to the collection.  Often,

would someone remark, that they wouldn’t work this hard, except for

something they enjoy.  Once I went to a professional dig at the

Olive Branch Site, on the Mississippi River in southern Illinois.  I went

for the day to observe.  The leader required everyone to work from

7am-3pm.  As the day wore on, it seemed to me that many were

tired and sluggish until 3 pm when a “second wind” was discovered

as they then were allowed to dig in dirt that had been comprised

in earlier times – each man for himself, and he could keep what he

found.   Also it reminds me of Little League Baseball when the

tiny youth would stand laboriously in the hot sun and go through

the motions but when the game was over and someone yelled,

“Free Cokes to all” – there was a stampede  to see who could be

first in line!  These two revivals of energy are examples of

what our attitudes should be when it comes TO SEEKING

AFTER WISDOM.”  - CY  - 2013)  “To seek” (בָּקַשׁ, bakash) in the

original is properly “to seek diligently” (piel), and is kindred to “to search”

(קָפַשׂ, khaphas), which again is equivalent to “to dig” (חָפַר, khaphar),

the Vulgate effodere, “to dig out.” Compare the expression in Job 3:21,

“And dig for it more than for hid treasures.” We trace in these verbs the idea

in the mind of the teacher indicated above, which finds expression also in the

object of the search, the silver, in its crude state, and the hidden treasures

(מַטְמֹנִים, matmonim), i.e. the treasures 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 found worked out with great beauty of detail in

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 Psalm 119:72; Job 28:12-20. The same ideas and comparisons here

used are presented to us in the New Testament teaching, in our Lord’s parable

of the man who finds the hid treasure in the field (Matthew 13:44), and, in the

phraseology of  Paul, who speaks of “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,”

(Colossians 2:3) and of “the unsearchable riches of Christ”  (Ephesians 3:8).

Divine knowledge is an inexhaustible mine of precious ore.  The language of the

Proverbs would receive additional force from the circumstances of the reign of

Solomon, the most splendid and prosperous era in the annals of the Jewish

national history, in the means taken to secure the treasures of other and distant

countries; the wealth and the riches of that reign (see II Chronicles 9:20-22)

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” (Ibid.), and this state of things would give point to the

comparisons which the teacher uses in our text.


5 “Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the

knowledge of God.”  Then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord.

Then אָן), introducing the first apodosis, and answering to the conditional

“if” of vs. 1, 3, 4. The earnest endeavor after Wisdom meets with its reward,

and those that seek shall find (compare Matthew 7:7): and thus an inducement is

held forth to listen to the admonition of the teacher. Understand implies

the power of discernment, but could have the further meaning of

taking to one’s self as a spiritual possession, just as “find” meaning

primarily “to arrive at” conveys the idea of getting possession of.

The fear of the Lord (יְרְאַת יְחוָה, yirath yhovah); “the fear

of Jehovah,” as in ch. 1:7. As it is the beginning, so it is the HIGHEST


it is represented as a fountain of life (ch.14:27). All true wisdom is

summed up in “THE FEAR OF THE LORD.”   It here means the reverence

due to Him, and so 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 expression in holy worship. The

knowledge of God (דַעַת ךאלֹהִים, daath Elohim); literally, the knowledge

of Elohim. Not merely cognition, but knowledge in its wider sense. The

two ideas of “the fear of the Lord” and “the knowledge of God” act

reciprocally on each other. Just as WITHOUT REVERENCE FOR


 so THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD  will increase and deepen the feeling

of reverence. But it is noticeable that the teacher here, as in ch. 9:10, where,

however, it is “the knowledge of the holy” (דַעַת קְדשִׁים, daath kdoshim),

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 between faith and knowledge, and recalls

the celebrated dictum of Anselm which defined God as “THAT THAT

CAN NOTHING GREATER BE CONCEIVED!  Elohim, here interchanged

with Jehovah, is not of frequent occurrence in the Proverbs, as it is only found

therein five times, while the predominating word which is used to designate

the Deity is Jehovah. But it is difficult 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).



The Search for Wisdom (vs. 1-5)



FOUND. It is true 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 are satisfied with hasty impressions of the

moment; but the only religious convictions worth considering are the

outcome of thought and prayer. Still, it is to be observed that this wisdom

is not reserved for the keen-sighted, the intellectual, the philosophical. It is

not ability, but industry, that is required; not exceptional capacity to attain

knowledge, but diligence in pursuing it. Laborious dullness can never

achieve the triumphs of the brilliant scholar in secular studies. Industry

alone will not make a senior wrangler. But the highest knowledge, DIVINE

KNOWLEDGE,  depends so much more on moral considerations which




RECEPTIVE FAITH. This wisdom is not innate; it is not attained by direct

observation; it is not the result of 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.



WITH INCREASING EARNESTNESS. The verses before us describe a

progressive intensity of spiritual effort:


Ø      receiving,

Ø      hiding the commandment,

Ø      inclining the ear,

Ø       applying the heart,

Ø      crying after, lifting up the voice,

Ø      seeking, searching


as for hid treasure. The truth 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 bids us transfer this to higher pursuits, and seek

wisdom as men seek for silver, and sink mines after hidden treasures.

Christ does not say, “Be anxious for nothing;” but, “Be not anxious for

 the morrow” (Matthew 6:34) — in order that we may transfer our anxiety

to more important concerns, and “seek first the kingdom of God and

His righteousness.” (Ibid. v.33)



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 practical wisdom

as the guide of life. This wisdom is promised to those who truly seek, and

it is attainable.  (Ibid. ch. 7-8)


6 “For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of His mouth cometh knowledge

and understanding.”  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

Daniel 2:21, “He giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them

that know understanding.” He “giveth,” or more properly, “will give”

יִתֵּן yitten, future of נָתַן, nathan), wisdom; but the connection requires us to

understand that the assurance applies only to those who seek after it

earnestly and truly (compare James 1:5-7 – Through God’s grace, I have spent

over a half century praying this prayer  - CY – 2013). The two coefficients to

our obtaining wisdom are our efforts and GOD’S ASSISTANCE.   Solomon

may be adduced as s striking exemplification of this; he asked for “an

understanding heart,” and God graciously granted his request (see

I Kings 3:9, 12). Out of His mouth (מִפִיו, mippiv); ex ore ejus; God is

here spoken of anthropologically. He is the true Teacher. The meaning is that

God communicates wisdom through the medium of His Word.  The law

proceeds from His mouth (Job 22:22).  His word is conveyed to us through

men divinely inspired, and hence Peter (II Peter 1:21) says that “holy men

of old spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”



Wisdom a Gift of God (v. 6)



Prophets and apostles — teachers of the highest truths — 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 all 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 some degree of inspiration. Nevertheless, it is not to be

inferred that inspiration dispenses 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.



RELATIONS WITH GOD. If inspiration is the source, the questions arise

Who are privileged to drink of this fountain? and how do they gain

access to it?  (See Psalm 24:3-6).  Now, it is much to be assured that this is

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 who

rightly avail themselves of it. What, then, are the conditions for receiving



Ø      Prayer.  “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who

giveth to all liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given

 him” (James 1:5).  Whosoever seeks shall find.


Ø      Purity. “The pure in heart shall see God”  (Matthew 5:8),  and the

highest wisdom is in the beatific vision of him who dwells in the light

 of eternal truth.


Ø      Obedience. As we submit our wills to God’s will, the channel is

is opened  through which His Spirit enters into us, and by

fellowship illumines us!




human speculation; sometimes it will be so much in conflict with that

speculation as to pass for foolishness (see I Corinthians 1:18). It will

be distinctly opposed to the wisdom that is purely carnal, i.e. to that which

takes account only of earthly facts and 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” (James 3:15). Divinely inspired wisdom, on the

contrary, is spiritual — taking account of the facts and laws of the higher

order; pure — not ministering to selfish greed and degraded pleasure;

wholesome — strengthening and elevating the soul; “peaceable, gentle,

easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without variance,

without hypocrisy” (Ibid. v.17).


7 “He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: He is a buckler to

them that walk uprightly.” Wisdom which is the foundation of security and

safety, and hence is sound wisdom, is that which God treasures up for the

righteous.  The teacher passes to another 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 those who act uprightly. It will be noted that the use of the

word is confined to the Proverbs and Job, with the exception of the two

passages in Isaiah and Micah. Buckler. Besides storing up the treasures of

sound wisdom, which the righteous may use and so obtain security in their

uprightness, God is Himself a Buckler, or Shield (מָגֵן, magen), to those

who walk in innocence. This aspect of God’s directly protecting power is

met with in other parts of Scripture. In Genesis 15:1 He encourages

Abram with the assurance, “I am thy Shield.” In Psalm 33:20; 84:11;

89:18; 144:2, Jehovah is called a Shield to His saints. He renders them

security against the assaults of their enemies, and especially against the

fiery darts of the wicked one. Again, in ch. 30:5, it is said, “God

is a Shield (magen) up to them that walk uprightly.” It is incorrect to take

מָגֵן (magen) either as an accusative after the verb or in apposition with

“sound wisdom.” To them that walk uprightly; literally, to the walkers in

innocence (לְחֹלֵכֵי תֹם, lkholkey thom). תֹם (thom) 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.


The completeness of the moral and religious character is involved in the

expression which is found also in ch.10:9 and Psalm 84:11.  The Vulgate

translates the latter clause of the verse, proteget gradients simpliciter, “He will

protect those who walk in simplicity;” compare II Corinthians 1:12 in illustration

of the phrase. He layeth up; i.e. he treasures up (Septuagint - θησαυρίζειν

thaesaurizein -or preserves and protects (custodire, Vulgate), as a person does

treasure or jewel, that it may not be stolen. The majority of commentators read

the Keri (יִצפֹן, “He will treasure up,” future of צָפַן) in preference to the

Khetib (צָפַן, perfect of same verb, with prefix וְ, “and He treasured up”), and

this is the; reading adopted in the Authorized Version. The Keri implies that

God does treasure up sound wisdom, while the Khetib observes that it has the

force of the aorist, and so represents the treasuring up as an accomplished

fact. The same verb occurs in v.1, where it is translated in the

Authorized Version by “hide,” and also in ch.7:1 and 10:14 by

lay up.” The laying up, or treasuring, points to the preciousness of that

which is treasured, “sound wisdom.” Sound wisdom. A great variety of

opinions exists as to the true meaning of the word in the original, תְוּשִׁיָה

(tvushiyyah), of which “sound wisdom” is an interpretation. It has

variously been explained as “wisdom, reflection, as “advancement and

promotion;”  as “solid fortune;” as “aid.” The proper meaning of the word

seems to be “substance,” from the root יָשָׁה, “to be, to exist, to be firm.”

From the places in which it occurs, either wealth, thought, or some such

sense it manifestly requires. It occurs:


·         in parallelism with ‘help Job 6:13,;’

·         in v.7, with a shield;

·         in Job 11:6, with ‘wisdom;’

·          in Ibid. ch.12:16, with  ‘strength;’

·         in ch. 3:21, with ‘discretion;’

·         in ch. 8:14, with counsel’ and ‘understanding;’

·         in Isaiah 28:29, with ‘counsel;’ and so in Job 26:3.


In Job 30:22 and Micah 6:9, ‘entirely’ or the like seems to suit the context; see

also ch.18:1, and generally ‘excess,’ or ‘abundance,’ taken either in a good or

bad sense, and varied by other considerations, seems to prevail in every case in

which this word is used” (Job 5:12). The parallelism of the passage before us

seems to require that it should be understood in the sense of security; and

transferring the idea to wisdom as the means of security. This idea is reproduced

in the Septuagint -  σωτήριαsotaeriadeliver; save -  the Vulgate salus,

and the Targum incolumitas.


8 “He keepeth the paths of judgment, and preserveth the way of His

saints.” He keepeth the paths of judgment. This verse is explanatory

of the latter hemistich of v. 7, and points out more fully in what way God

is a Protector of His saints. Some connect the Hebrew infinitive לִנְצור

(lintsor), “to watch or keep,” with “them that walk uprightly,” and

translate, “them that walk uprightly by keeping the paths of judgment;” but

this is to transfer the idea of protection from God to such persons. The

verb signifies specially “to defend, to preserve from danger,” as in

ch. 22:12, “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 HAS THE POWER TO DO SO!   He watches over all that

walk therein, guides, superintends, and protects them. The paths of judgment;

or rather, justice, ךארְהות מִשְׁפָט (atkhoth mishpat). The abstract is here used

for the concrete, and the phrase means “the paths of the just,” i.e. the paths in

which the just walk, or “those who walk justly”. This expression corresponds with

“the way of His saints,” just as “keep” and “preserve” are synonymous verbs,

both meaning “to guard, keep safe, or protect.” He preserveth the way of His

saints. God does this:


  • by His preventing grace, as in Psalm 66:9, “He suffereth not our feet

to slip.” Compare  Hannah’s song, “He will keep the feet of his saints”

(I Samuel 2:9);


  • by angelic agency, as in Psalm 91:11, “He shall give His angels

charge over thee to keep thee in all thy ways.” The saints are ever under

the watchful care and mighty protection of Jehovah. His saints (חֲסִידָו,

khasidav); i.e. the pious towards God, the godly, those in whose hearts the

principles of sanctity have been implanted, and who cherish earnest inward

love to God, and “walk righteously” and “speak uprightly” (Isaiah

33:15). It is remarkable that the word saints only occurs once (in this

passage) in the Proverbs. During the period of the Maccabaean Wars, a

party or sect, which aimed at ceremonial purity, claimed for themselves the

title of Chasidim or Asidaeans (Ἀσιδαῖοι), as expressive of their piety or

devotion. They are those whom Moses called “men of holiness,”

Exodus 22:31 (ואֲנְשֵׁיאּקֹדֶשׁ, vanshev-kodesh); compare Psalm 89:5,8;

149:1; Deuteronomy 33:3; Daniel 7:18, 21-22, 25. Under the

Christian dispensation, the saints are those who are sanctified in Christ

Jesus (I Corinthians 1:2; I John 5:1), and who are holy in all

manner of conversation (I Peter 1:25)


9 “Then shalt thou understand righteousness, and judgment, and equity; yea,

every good path.”  Then (אָז, az), repeated from v. 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 relationship to

God, both from the meaning of the words themselves, and because the law

which regulates our dealings and intercourse with man has its seat in the

higher law of our relation to God. Righteousness, and judgment, and

equity. These three words occur in the same collocation in ch.1:3, which see.

Yea, every good path. “Yea” does not occur in the original. The expression is

a summarizing of the three previous conceptions, as if the teacher implied that all

good paths are embraced by and included in “righteousness, and judgment,

and equity;” but the term is also comprehensive in the widest degree. The literal

translation is “every path of good” (כְּל־מַעְגֻּל־טוב, cal-magal-tov), i.e.

every course of action of which goodness is the characteristic, or, as the

Authorized Version, “every good path,” the sense in which it was understood by

Jerome, omnem orbitam bonam. The word here used for “path” is מַעְגַּל

(magal), “the way in which the chariot rolls” (Delitzsch), and

metaphorically a course of action, as v.15;  ch. 4:26.





                    The Conditions of Religious Knowledge (vs. 1-9)


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 wisdom be sought and attained?


·         CONDITIONS ON MAN’S SIDE. The enumeration is climactic,

proceeding from the less strong to the stronger expressions.


Ø      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



Ø      Attention, concentration, assimilation. “Keeping her commands with

us.” The thorough student finds it necessary to exercise his memory, and to

help it by the use of notebooks, where he hides 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.


Ø      Active application. In figurative language “bending 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:


o        personal,

o        original, and

o        spiritual activity




Ø      Passionate craving and prayerfulness. “Calling Sense to one’s side, and

raising one’s voice to Prudence” — to give another rendering to v. 3. We

must invoke the spirit of Wisdom for the needs of daily conduct; thus

placing ourselves in living relation with what is our true nature.


o        Fra Angelico prayed before his easel;

o        Cromwell, in his tent on the eve of battle.

o        So must the thinker in his study,

o        the preacher in his pulpit,

o        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.


Ø      Persevering and laborious exertion. Illustrated by the miner’s toil. The

passage (Job 28.), 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 than that of

the material, as silver and gold. It is often said that the perseverance of the

unholy worker shames the sloth of the spiritual man. But let us not ignore

the other side. The toil in the spiritual region is not obvious to the eye like

the other, but is not the less really practiced in silence by thousands of

faithful souls. We should reflect on the immense travail of soul it has cost

to produce the book which stirs us like a new force, though it may appear

to flow with consummate ease from the pen. Such are the conditions of

understanding 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 Paul (I Corinthians 2:14). It is the

highest human possession, because permanent, inalienable, and

preservative amidst life’s ills.


·         CONDITIONS ON THE SIDE OF GOD. If religion be the union or

identification of the soul with God, He must be related to us in such a way

as makes this possible.


Ø      He is wisdoms Source and Giver. He not only contains in Himself that

knowledge which, reflected in us, becomes prudence, sense, wisdom, piety;

He is an active Will and a self-communicating Spirit. The ancients had 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.


Ø      His wisdom is saving. “Sound wisdom” (v. 7) may be better rendered

soundness, or salvation, or health, or saving health. It seems to come

from a root signifying the essential or actual. Nothing is essential but

health for sensuous enjoyment; nothing but health, in the larger sense, for

spiritual enjoyment. Let us think of God as HIMSELF ABSOLUTE

HEALTH, and thus the Giver of all health and happiness to His creatures.


Ø      He is Protector of the faithful. The Hebrew imagination, informed by

constant scenes of war, delights to represent Him as the Buckler or Shield

of His servants (Psalm 18:2; 33:20; 89:19). Those who “walk in

innocenceseem to bear a charmed life. They “fear no evil,” for He is with

them. The vast sky is their tent roof. They may be slain, but cannot be hurt.

To be snatched from this world is to be caught to His arms.


Ø      He is eternal JUSTIC E. Being this in Himself, the “way of His saints,”

      which is synonymous with human rectitude, cannot be indifferent to Him.

RIGHT 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, are 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 be

attainable; some of its conditions lie without the sphere of freedom, and

within that of necessary law. Spiritual health is 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.





            The Course, the Goal, and the Prize of Wisdom (vs. 1-9)


These are comprehensive verses; they include the three main features of the

heavenly race.


·         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.


Ø      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

scornfully reject; he must be a son who “will receive the words” of wisdom

the words of the “only wise God” (Jude 1:25), of Him who is “the

Wisdom of God” (I Corinthians 1:24)


Ø      But there must be not only readiness; there should be eagerness to

receive. He must “incline his ear” (v. 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.


Ø      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 readily lost; he must make it a reservoir which will retain; he is to “hide

God’s commandments” within him (v. 1). to take them down into the

deep places of the soul whence they will not escape.


Ø      Farther, there must be perseverance in the search. He must “apply his

heart to understanding” (v 2). Not by “fits and starts” is the goal to be

reached, but by steady, patient, continuous search.


Ø      And there must also be enthusiasm in the endeavor (vs. 3). 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 ardor 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 alter

the high end to which God is calling it.


·         THE GOAL HE WILL SURELY REACH. He who thus seeks for

heavenly truth will attain that to which he is aspiring; “for the Lord giveth

wisdom,” etc. (v. 6). There is no man who desires to be led into the path

of that Divine wisdom which constitutes 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 Matthew 5:6; 7:7-8).


Ø      He shall apprehend the essential elements of religion. “Thou shall

understand the fear of the Lord” (v. 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.


Ø      He shall also — and this is a still greater thing — attain to a vital and

redeeming knowledge of God Himself. “Thou shall find the knowledge of

God” (v. 5). To know Him is ETERNAL LIFE! (John 17:3), But this

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 nature, and not only of the intellectual faculty. It must be a

knowledge which


o        engages the whole powers of the spirit;

o        which brings joy to the soul;

o        which leads to an honest effort after God-likeness.


·         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 than in wearing the chaplet of honor on his

brows. And it may be truly said that the most blessed guerdon which the

heavenly runner wins is in that knowledge of God which is his “goal”

rather than in the after honors which are his “prize.” Yet we may well

covet with intense eagerness the prize which Wisdom holds in her hand for

those who are victorious. It includes much.


Ø      Stores of deep spiritual verities. “He layeth up sound wisdom,” etc.

      (v. 7) — greater and deeper insight into the most profound and

precious truth.


Ø      Discernment of all practical wisdom. “Thou shall understand

righteousness, and judgment, and equity; yea, every good path” (v. 9).


Ø      Divine guardianship along all the path of life. “He is a Buckler to them

that walk uprightly. He keepeth the paths of judgment,” etc. (vs. 7-8).


In vs. 10-19, we have a statement of the advantages which result from the

possession of Wisdom, and specially as a safeguard against evil men (vs. 12-15)

and evil women (vs 16-19).


10 “When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant

unto thy soul;” When wisdom entereth into thine heart. There is practically

little difference as to the sense, whether we render the Hebrew כִּי by the

conditional “if” or by the temporal “when” as in the Authorized Version.

The conditional force is adopted by the Septuagint -  ἐάν eanif - 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 consequences 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 yKi, though

much shorter; and secondly the climax, also shorter and branching off into

the statement of two special cases. Entereth; or, shall enter (חָבוא, thavo)

in the sense of permanent residence in the heart. Wisdom is not only to

come in, but to rest there (compare ch.14:33). The expression is

illustrated by John 14:23 “If a man love me, he will keep my words:  and

my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our

abode with him.”  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 (בְּלִבֶּך, blibecha). The heart (לֵב) concentrates in

itself the personal life of man in all its relations, the conscious and the

unconscious, the voluntary and the involuntary, the physical and the

spiritual impulses, the emotions and states. It is that in which the נֶפֶשׁ, (nephesh),

”soul,” manifests itself. The heart is the center of the life of will and desire,

of the emotions, and of the moral life.  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 attributed to the heart (ble); ch.14:10; 8:5; 16:9. The expression

seems to be put here for the moral side of man’s nature; and in the

Hellenistic sense, καρδίαkardiaheart -  the proper equivalent of לֵב

heart,” involves all that stands for νοῦς λόγος συνείδησις nous logos

suneidaesismind/intellect; word/work; understand/consider -  and θυμός

thumoswrath - i.e. it includes, besides other things, the intellectual faculty.

The word “soul” (vp,n,, nephesh) is here found in combination with “heart.” The

other passages where they are mentioned together are Deuteronomy 6:5; Psalm

13:2; Jeremiah 4:19; ch.24:12. The soul is primarily the vital principle, but according

to the usus loquendi of Holy Scripture, it frequently denotes the entire inward


REDEMPTION!   The home of the soul IS THE HEART;  as appears from

ch.14:10, “The heart knoweth his own bitterness [or, ‘the bitterness of his soul,’

Hebrew].” While the “heart” (לֵב) is rendered by καρδίαkardia – heart - and

ψυχή - psuchaesoul - the only Greek equivalent to “soul” (וֶפֶשׁ)

is ψυχή. 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 intellectual coloring is given to the word

heart by the Septuagint who render it by διανοία dianoiathought;

mind; imagination; understanding -  as also in Deuteronomy 6:5 and other

passages, evidently from the idea that prominence is given to the reflective faculty.

Classically, διανοία is equivalent to “thought,” “faculty of thought,” “intellect.”

Knowledge (Hebrew, דָעָת); literally, to know, as in ch.8:10 and 14:6; here

used synonymously with “wisdom.” Knowledge, not merely as cognition,

but perception; i.e. not merely knowing a thing with respect to its existence

and being, but as to its excellence and truth. Equivalent to the Septuagint

αἰσσησιςaissaesis - “perception,” and the Vulgate scientia. Is pleasant

(Hebrew, יִנְעָם, yinam); literally, shall be pleasant; i.e. sweet, lovely, beautiful. The

same word is used impersonally in Jacob’s blessing of Issachar (Genesis 49:15,

“And he saw the land that it was pleasant”), and also in ch.24:25, “To those

that punish [i.e. the judges] there shall be delight.”  “Knowledge” is masculine,

as in ch.8:10 and 14:6, and agrees with the masculine verb “is pleasant.” Knowledge

will be pleasant from the enjoyment and rest which it yields. The Arabic presents the

idea of this enjoyment under a different aspect: “And prudence shall be in thy soul the

most beautiful glory.”


11 “Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee:”

Discretion shall preserve thee. Discretion (מְזַמָּת, mzimoth),

as in ch.1:4, is the outward manifestation of wisdom; it tests what is uncertain,

and AVOIDS DANGER. The word carries with it the idea of reflection or

consideration (see ch.3:21; 5:2; 8:12) The Septuagint reads, βουλὴ καλή -

boulae kalae -  good counsel;” and the Vulgate, concilium.

Shall preserve thee. The idea of protection and guarding, which is

predicated of Jehovah in v. 8, is here transferred to discretion and

understanding, which to some extent are put forward as personifications.

Understanding (תְבוּנָה, tvunah) -  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” (שָׁמַר, shamar) and “to keep” (נָצַר, natsar), Septuagint –

τήρειν - taereinkeep - occur together again in ch. 4:6.




The Antidote to Temptation (vs. 10-11)


  • WE NEED AN ANTIDOTE TO TEMPTATION. 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. But if we were immaculate, we should

still be liable to fall; the power of temptation is so fearful that the purest,

strongest soul 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.  The tempter would destroy our spiritual life with an atmosphere

of foul thoughts after more tangible attacks have failed, were it not that we

have a supply of grace outside ourselves, EQUAL TO OUR NEED!

(“There is no temptation taken you but such as is common to man:

but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above

that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to

escape, that ye may be able to bear it”  - I Corinthians 10:13).   Even

Christ, when tempted, did not rest on His own purity and power, but

appealed for support to the sacred wisdom of Scripture.  (Matthew




POSITIVE GOOD. Fire is quenched by water, not by opposing flames.

Evil must be overcome with good  (Romans 12:21).  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.  (Have we not heard, “An idle mind is

the devil’s workshop!” – CY – 2013)



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.  Historically, 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

information introduce men at least to the social conscience. But the

professor  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 temptation.




must be “pleasant.” We are most influenced by that 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

compulsions of duty, they will have little power over us. But happily


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 this and in love to the incarnation of this wisdom in Christ,

we have the strongest safeguard against temptation.


12 “To deliver thee from the way of the evil man, from the man that

speaketh froward things;”  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, מִדֶּרֶך רָע (midarek ra), not necessarily, though by

implication, connected with man, as in the Authorized Version. רָע (ra),

“evil,” “wicked,” in an ethical sense, is an adjective, as in Jeremiah 3:16

(לֵב רָע, lev ra), “an evil heart;” compare the Septuagint’s  ἀπὸ ὁδοῦ κακῆς

- apo hodou kakaes -  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

evil men in ch.1:10-15; he now shows that discretion, arising

from wisdom being resident in the heart, will be a sufficient safeguard

against its allurements. From the man that speaketh froward things.

Perverse utterances are here brought in contradistinction to the evil way or

froward conduct. Man (אִשׁ, ish) is here used generically, as the

representative of the whole class of base and wicked men, since all the

following verbs are in the plural, Froward things. The word תַּהְפֻכוֹּת

(tahpucoth), here translated froward things,” is derived from the root

צּצּצּ (haphak), “to turn,” “to pervert,” and should be translated

“perverseness.” Perverseness is THE WILLFUL 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, though not of exclusive, occurrence in the Proverbs. It is attributed to the

Israelites in Deuteronomy 32:20. It is met with again in such expressions as

“the mouth  of perverseness,” Authorized Version “forward mouth” (Proverbs 8:13);

“the  tongue of perverseness,” froward tongue,” Authorized Version (ch.10:31);

“the man of perverseness,”froward man,” Authorized Version (ch.16:28).

What is here said of wicked men is attributed to drunkards in ch.23:33,

Thine heart shall utter perverse things.” The expression finds its

explanation in ch.6:13-14. The spirit which indulges in this perverseness is stubborn,

scornful, self-willed, and rebellious, and it is from such a spirit that DISCRETION

IS A PRESERVATIVE.  In Job 5:13 it is said that “the counsel of the froward is

 carried headlong” (see also II Samuel 22:27; Psalm 18:26; 101:4). The Septuagint

rendering of this word is μηδὲν πιστόν maeden piston -  “nothing trustworthy,”

which is amplified in the Arabic, quod nullam in se continet veritatem, “that which

contains in itself no truth.”


13 “Who leave the paths of uprightness, to walk in the ways of darkness;”

Who leave the paths of uprightness. Between vs. 13 and 15 the teacher proceeds

to give a more detailed description of those who speak perversely. Who leave

(הַעֹזְבִים, haozvim); literally, forsaking, 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 uprightness (see previous note on the word “man.”

The paths of uprightness (אָרְחות יֹשֶׁר, arkhoth yosher); the same as the

“right paths” of ch. 4:11. The strict meaning of the Hebrew word translated

“uprightness” is “straightness,” and hence it stands opposed to

“perverseness” in the previous verse. Uprightness is integrity, rectitude,

honest dealing. The Septuagint translators represent the forsaking of the paths

of uprightness as a consequence resulting from walking in the ways of

darkness, “O ye who have left the right ways by departing [τοῦ πορεύεσβαι

 tou poreuesbai -  equivalent to abeundo] into the ways of

darkness.” Again, the ways of darkness (דַרְכֵי חשֶׁך,  darchey kkoshek)

are opposed to the “paths of uprightness” which rejoice in the light. Darkness

includes the ideas of:


  • ignorance and error (Isaiah 9:2; Ephesians 5:8), and
  • evil deeds.


To walk in the ways of darkness, then, is to persist in a course of willful

ignorance, to reject deliberately the light of knowledge, and to work

wickedness, by performing “the works of darkness (τὰ ἔργα τοῦ σκύτους

 ta erga tou skutous),” which Paul exhorted the Church at Rome to cast

away (Romans 13:12), and by having fellowship with “the unfruitful works

 of darkness” (τὰ ἔργα τὰ ἀκάρπα τοῦ σκότους -  ta erga ta akarpa

tou skotous ), against which the same apostle warned the Ephesians (Ephesians

5:11). They are ways of darkness, because they endeavor to hide themselves

from God (Isaiah 29:15) and from man (Job 24:15; 38:13, 15). But in their

tendency and end they lead to THE BLACKNESS OF DARKNESS

FOR EVER.  (1:13).  In Scripture darkness is associated with evil, just as

light is with uprightness (see John 3:19-20).


14 “Who rejoice to do evil, and delight in the frowardness of the

wicked;”  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 themselves, but they exult when they hear of evil in others

(compare Romans 1:32). Such may be the interpretation, though the latter

part, of the verse is capable of a different and more general rendering as

signifying exultation 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 בְּתַחְפֻכות רַע,

bthahpucoth ra), in the perverseness 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 Septuagint,

ἐπὶ διαστροφῇ κακῇ - epi diastrophae kakae -  “in evil distortion;” in

the Vulgate, in pessimis rebus; in the Targum, Syriac, and Arabic, in

 conversatione mala, “in a bad course of conduct;” and in the Targum,

in malitiae perversione, “in the perversion of wickedness.” It is not

perverseness in its simple and common form that these men exult in. but in its

worst and most vicious form (for a similar construction, see ch. 6:24; 15:26;

and 28:5). How widely different is the conduct of charity, which rejoiceth

not in iniquity” (I Corinthians 13:6)!




Rejoicing to Do Evil (v. 14)


We often insist upon the fact that goodness is the 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.

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 righteousness. The sinner

has burst the shackles of law, and he revels in the license of self-will.




Ø      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.


Ø      A further stage is reached when sin is 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.


Ø      The lowest depth is reached when there is a positive

 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!”




Ø      It is shallow. Though it may be excited into a diabolical 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.


Ø      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 and 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



15 “Whose ways are crooked, and they froward in their paths:”

Whose ways are crooked; better, perhaps, who as to their

ways are crooked.  Crooked (עִקְּשִׁים, ikshim); i.e. tortuous, perverse,

not straightforward,  (σκολιαὶ, - skoliai - Septuagint). Symmachus translates

the original by σκαμβαί, - skambai - i.e. “bent.” Theodotion, by στριβλαί -

striblai - twisted, crooked? Sinners, in their perverseness, are ever winding

about, turning in every direction, and changing from purpose to purpose,

as wayward caprice or shifting inclination, the alternations of evil

 propensity, happen to dictate. . (For the expressions “crooked ways,” see

Psalm 125:5.) And they froward in their paths; i.e. perverse in their paths.

The root idea of the Hebrew niph. participle וּנְלוזִים (vunlozim), translated

“and they froward,” is “to bend aside,” “to turn away.” They are turned

aside to the right hand and to the left in their walk. The niph. participle נָלוז

(naloz) only occurs four times in the Scriptures — here; ch. 3:32; 14:2;

and Isaiah 30:12. This is the last feature in their wickedness.




            The Course of Sin and the Strength of Righteousness (vs. 10-15)


We have here portrayed for us:




Ø      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 virtuous 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, unguided, ready to

wander in forbidden paths.


Ø      It continues in the practice of evil. Having thrown off old restraints, they

walk in the ways of darkness” (v. 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.  (John 3:19-20)


Ø      It resorts to despicable shifts. “Whose ways are crooked” (v. 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 cunning and craftiness. All manliness is eaten out of

it; it has the spirit and habit of a slave (see Romans 6:16).


Ø      It hardens into utter perversity. They “are froward in their paths”

      (v. 15); they “speak froward things” (v. 12), i.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.


Ø      It culminates in a hateful and hurtful propagandism. They “rejoice to do

evil, and delight in the frowardness of the wicked” (v. 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.

(Mimiking Satan to the core.  CY – 2020)  What a pitiful zealotry is this —

the anxiety and pertinacity of sin in winning from the paths of rectitude the

children of innocence and truth!  What a saddening thought that thousands

of our fellow men are actively occupied in this diabolical pursuit!


·         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 rejoice

that godliness is seeking to gain impiety for God, but we mourn and

tremble as we see sin seeking to pervert purity and goodness from “the

right ways of the Lord.” We are all open to human influence. The heart 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 does not sigh with some feeling of

solicitude as he sees the young man go forth from the shelter of the godly

home into the world where the wicked wait, “rejoicing to do evil,” and

taking pride in the destruction they produce?



wisdom enters the heart and knowledge is pleasant to the soul, then

discretion will preserve, and understanding will keep us (vs. 10-11). In

other words, the cordial acceptance of the truth of 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 (Psalm 40:8), this will prove an effectual

breakwater against the tides of evil. He that can say,” O Lord, how love I

thy Law!” (Psalm 119) 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?


Ø      Let it regard with earnest gaze him who is the Wisdom of God in fullest

revelation to the sons of men.


Ø      Yield to Him its early, unbounded love.


Ø      Then will it find unfading joy in the Divine truth which flowed from his

lips, and which shone in his holy life. Whoso believes in Him shall

never be confounded.




Crooked Ways (v. 15)



PATHS OF MORAL 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 Meadows 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.”  (One should never

sacrifice principle for temporary gain! – CY – 2013)



Principles are like the rails on which the train runs, keeping it in a direct

course and facilitating its speed. The unprincipled man is off the rails, and

the result is confusion. Like a ship without compass, rudder, or chart, the

unprincipled man drifts 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.  (Don’t get “derailed” in life –

CY – 2013)



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.



to go straight 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; dishonesty 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 compass, AND KNOWS NOT WHITHER HE IS

GOING;  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.


  • 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.

(Matthew 7:14)


16 “To deliver thee from the strange woman, even from the stranger

which flattereth with her words;” To deliver thee from the strange woman.

This is the second form of temptation against which wisdom (discretion) is a

preservative, and the great and especial dangers arising from it to youth,

 owing to its 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” (אִָשה זָרָה, ishshah zara), and
  • “the stranger” (נָכְרִיָה, nokriyah)


and both undoubtedly, in the passage before us, mean a meretricious person,

one who indulges in illicit intercourse. The former term is invariably employed in

this sense in the Proverbs (ch.5:2, 20; 7:5; 22:14; 23:33) of the adulteress (זָרִים,

zarim), and Jeremiah 2:25. The participle זָר (zar), from the verb זוּר (zur), of

which זָרָה (zarah) is the feminine form, is, however, used in a

wider sense, as signifying:


  • one of another nation, or one of another family; or
  • some one different from one’s self; or
  • strange.




  • in Isaiah 1:7 we have “Strangers devour it (your land) in your

presence;” but in Exodus 30:33 “the stranger” is one

not the high priest.

  • The “stranger” is another (ch.11:15; 14:10; 20:16; 27:2, 13).
  • The “strange fire” (אֵשׁ זָרָה, esh zarah) is the unlawful fire as

opposed to the holy fire (<031001>Leviticus 10:1);

  • the “strange god” (אֵל זָר, el zar) is the foreign god (Psalm 81:9).


But the idea of foreign origin implied in the word is more strongly brought

out in the next term, נָכְרִיָה (nokriyah), on which Delitzsch remarks that

it scarcely ever divests itself of a strange, foreign origin. This word is used to

designate those “strange women” whom Solomon loved in his old age,

and who turned his heart aside to worship false gods (I Kings 11:1-8),

“outlandish women,” as they are termed in Nehemiah 13:26; it

designates “the strange wives” of Ezra 10, and Nehemiah 13:27; and is

applied to Ruth the Moabitess (Ruth 2:10). Again, it has to be further observed

that the laws of the Mosaic code against prostitution were of a most

stringent nature (Leviticus 19:29; 21:9; Deuteronomy 23:17), and no

doubt served to maintain a higher standard of morality among Israelitish

women than that observed among the Midianites, Syrians, and other nations.

(Once upon a time it also could be said of American women in general –

CY – 2013).  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 would lead to a large influx of women of a different nationality.

The conclusion we arrive at is that the class mentioned in the text, though

not Israelitish by birth, were yet so by adoption, as the context clearly

indicates (v. 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 defiance. and would become

the source of temptation to others. Which flattereth with her words;

literally, who has made smooth her words, the hiph. perfect being used

of חָלַק (khalak), “to make smooth,” or “flattering.” The preterite shows

what her habitual practice is, and is used of an action still continuing,

and so may be fitly rendered by the present, as in the Authorized Version:

She has acquired the art of enticing by flattering words, and it is her

study to employ them;”  compare the Vulgate, quae mollit sermones suos,

 “who softens her words;” and the Syriac, quae subvertit verba sua,

 “who subverts her words,” i.e. “uses deceit.” The expression occurs

again in ch. 5:3; 6:24; 7:5.


 17 “Which forsaketh the guide of her youth, and forgetteth the covenant

of her God.”  The guide of her youth (נְעוּרֶיהָ אַלּוּפ, alluph nureyah);

properly, the associate or companion of her youth. The Hebrew, אָלּוּפ

(alluph), being derived from the root אָלַפ, (alaph), to accustom one’s

self to,” or “to be accustomed to” or “familiar with” anyone. The word

is rendered as “friend” in ch.17:9; Micah 7:5. The idea

of guidance, which is adopted in the Authorized Version, and appears also

in the Vulgate dux. and Targum ducatus, is a secondary idea, and is

derived probably from the relation in which the husband stands to his wife.

Various interpretations have been given to the expression. It occurs again

in Jeremiah 3:4, where Jehovah applies it to himself, and says, through

his prophet, to the religiously adulterous Judah, “Wilt thou not from this

time cry unto me, My Father, thou art the Guide of my youth

(אַלּוּפ נְעֻרי, alluph nura)?” It has also been understood as referring

to the woman’s parents, her father and mother, who were her natural

guardians. But the context seems to require that it should be taken as

designating her husband. It will then be the correlative of “the wife of

 thy youth” of Malachi 2:14. The covenant of her God; i.e. the marriage

covenant, called “the covenant of her God,” because entered into in His

presence.  (I know I was married in that context! – CY – 2013). The

forsaking of the guide of her youth is essentially bound up with a

forgetfulness of the solemn covenant which she had entered into in the

presence of God. No specific mention is made in the Pentateuch of any

religious ceremony at marriage; yet we may infer, from Malachi 2:14-15,

where God is spoken of as “a Witness” between the husband and

“the wife of his youth,” “the wife of thy covenant,” that THE


RITES!   The Proverbs thus give a high and sacred character to

marriage, and so carry on the original idea of the institution

which, under the gospel dispensation, developed late the principle

of the indissolubility of the marriage tie. It is no objection to this view

that the monogamic principle was infringed, and polygamy countenanced. The

reason of this latter departure is given in Deuteronomy 22:28-29 and Exodus

22:16. The morality of the Proverbs always represents monogamy as

the rule,  it deprecates illicit intercourse, and discountenances

divorce. It is in entire accordance with the seventh commandment. The

woman who commits adultery offends, not only against her husband, but

against her God.  (Not to mention against her/his ownselfch. 6:32-33)


18 “For her house inclineth unto death, and her paths unto the dead.”

For her house inclineth unto death; rather, she sinks down

to death together with her house. The objection to the Authorized Version

is that it does not follow the construction of the original, the verb “sinks down”

(שָׁחָה, shakhah) being feminine, while “house” (בָיִת, bayith) is invariably

masculine. Aben Ezra translates, “She sinks down to death, (which is to be) her

house;” but it seems better to regard “her house” as an adjunct of the strange

woman. Her house includes all who belong to her. She and they are involved

in the same fate. The Authorized Version is evidently influenced by the

Vulgate, Inclinata est enim ad mortem domus ejus, “For her house is inclined

to death.” The Septuagint gives a different rendering, Ἕθετο γὰρ παρὰ τῷ

θανάτῳ τὸν οϊκον αὐτῆς etheto gar para tothanato ton oikon

autaes - “For she hath placed her house beside death.” So the

Arabic. The “for” (כִּי, ki) refers back to v.16, and indicates how great is

the deliverance effected by wisdom. The meaning of the passage is aptly

illustrated by ch.7:27, “Her house is the way to hell, going down

to the chambers of death.” And her paths unto the dead. The dead

(רְפָאִים, rphaim) are properly the quiet, or the feeble. They are the

shadowy inhabitants or shades of Hades, the inferi of the Vulgate, and are

here put for Sheol itself.  The word occurs again in ch. 9:18; 21:16; and in

Psalm 88:11; Isaiah 26:14, 19; Job 26:5.


19 “None that go unto her return again, neither take they hold of the

paths of life.”  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.” The difficulty 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.Chrysostom 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 Fathers 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 other deadly sin.” Paul says, “No

whoremonger nor unclean person…hath any inheritance in the

kingdom of Christ and of God” (Ephesians 5:5; compare I Corinthians 6:9;

Revelation 22:15). The sin which they commit who have dealings with

the strange woman is deadly and leads on to death, and from death there is

no return, nor laying hold of or regaining the paths of life (see Job 7:9-10).





                        The Way of Sin: A Sermon to Young Men (vs. 16-19)


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:



THOUGHT. It is a “strange” thing (v. 16). The painted harlot is “the

strange woman.” And while the prostitution 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 ALL 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 whatever form, we say, “This is the contrary of the thought

of the Supreme,” “This is the exact opposite of His design,” “This is

something alien, unnatural, intrusive: cannot we cast it out?”



WAY. It flattereth with its words” (v. 16). Flattery is only another name

for a sweet falsehood. The woman that is a sinner uses flattery to

accomplish her ends. So sin cannot live 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.



VARIOUS VIOLATIONS. (v. 17.) It is uncertain whether by the “guide

of her youth” is to be understood her husband (see Malachi 2:14-15),

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.


Ø      Deliberate resolutions,

Ø      solemn assurances,

Ø      formal vows;


all are infringed.



(vs. 18-19.) It leads:


Ø      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.


Ø      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!


o        The soul is injured;

o        its self-respect is slain,

o        its force is lessened;

o        it is on the incline which slopes to death, and

o        one step nearer to the foot of it.


“Her house inclineth unto death.”


Ø      TO ETERNAL DEATH!   They who resort to forbidden pleasure are fast

      on their way to the final condemnation; they have wandered long leagues

from “the paths of life.” We conclude with two admonitions:


o        Keep carefully away from the beginnings of evil. Shun not only the

strange woman’s” door, but the evil glance, the doubtful company,

the impure book, the meretricious paper.


o        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.”   (One needs to

have his mind made up on what to do before he ever gets into

                                    the wrong situation!  CY – 2020)


20 “That thou mayest walk in the way of good men, and keep the paths

of the righteous.”  That (Hebrew, לְמַעַן (lmaan); in order that (Vulgate, ut),

carries us back properly to v. 11. The protecting power of wisdom is

developed in a positive direction. Negatively, it delivers from the evil man

and from the strange woman, but it does more — “it shall keep thee in

order that thou mayest walk in a good way,” etc. The Hebrew לְמַעַן

(lmaan) is coordinate with “to deliver thee,” but it serves to bring the

discourse to a conclusion, therefore walk -  In the way of good men (בְּדֶרֶך טובִים,

bderek tovim); i.e. in the way of the good, in an ethical sense, i.e. the

upright, as in Isaiah 5:20. The Vulgate renders, in via bona, “in the

good way.” “The way of good men” is the way of God’s commandments,

the way of obedience. Keep. The Hebrew verb שָׁמַר (shamar) is here used

in the sense of “to observe,” “to attend to,” but in a different sense from

Psalm 17:4, “I have observed the ways of the violent man,” i.e. that I

might avoid them. To keep the paths of the righteous is to carefully attend

to the life of obedience which they follow. The Septuagint closely connects this

verse with the preceding, and renders, “For if they had walked in good

ways, they would have found the paths of righteousness light.”


21 “For the upright shall dwell in the land, and the perfect shall remain

in it.”  For the upright shall dwell in the land. Much the same

language is met with in Psalm 37:29, “The righteous shall inherit the

land, and dwell therein forever.” It is the secure and peaceful dwelling in

the land which is intended (compare ch.10:30). To dwell in the land

was always put forward as the reward of obedience to God’s

commandments (see Exodus 20:12; Leviticus 25:18; 26:5), and the

phrase conveyed to the Hebrew mind the idea of one of the greatest, if not

the greatest, of all temporal blessings. The love of country was a

predominant characteristic of the race. Elster, quoted by Zockler, 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 kern it, he was in the inmost roots of life

strained and broken. Especially from psalms belonging to the period of the

exile this patriotic feeling is breathed out in the fullest glow and intensity.”

The land (אָרֶצ, arets) was the promised land, the land of Canaan. The

word is not used here in the wider sense in which it occurs in Matthew

5:5, “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” And the

perfect shall remain in it; i.e. they shall not, as Rabbi Levi remarks, be

driven thence nor caused to migrate. The perfect (תְמִימִים, thmimim), the

holy (Septuagint, ὅσιοι - hosioiperfect; holy ), the spotless (immaeulati,

 Targum),  those without a stain (qui sine labe, Syriae), the guileless (simplices,

 Vulgate).  Shall remain; יִוָּתְרוּ (yivrathru), niph. future of יָתַר (yathar),

properly “to be redundant,” and in the niph. form, “to be left,” or “to remain.”

Septuagint, ὑπολειφθήσαντιhupoleiphthaesanti - “shall remain;”

permanebunt, Vulgate.


22 “But the wicked shall be cut off from the earth, and the transgressors

shall be rooted out of it.” But the wicked shall be cut off from the earth. The

punishment of the wicked is contrasted with the blessings that are promised

to the upright. Shall be cut off; יִפָרֵתוּ (yikkarethu), niph. future of כָרַת

(karath), “to cut off, or destroy.” Septuagint, ὀλοῦνται - olountai - Vulgate,

perdentur.; The expression is used to convey the idea of extermination, as

in Psalm 37:9 (compare Job 18:17; Psalm 37:28; 104:35). The verb is

found also in Genesis 17:14; Exodus 12:15. The earth; properly,

the land. The same word (אַרֶצ, arets) is used as in v. 21. The

transgressors (בּוגְדִים, bogdim); here employed synonymously with “the

wicked” (יְשָׁעִים, yshaim), “the impious.” The primary meaning of the

verb from which it is derived (בָגַד, bagad) is “to cover,” “to deal

treacherously,” and hence the word signifies those who act treacherously

or perfidiously, the faithless. They are those who perfidiously depart from

God, and break away from the covenant with Jehovah. Septuagint, παράνομοι

- paranomoi law breakers - (compare ch. 11:3, 6; 13:2, 25; 22:12;

Psalm 25:3; 59:5; Isaiah 33:1). Shall be rooted out (יסֶּחוּ, yisskhu). This

word is taken by Davidson as the future kal of נסַה (nasah), “to pluck up,”

and hence is equivalent to “they shall pluck up,” or, passively, “they stroll be

plucked up.” Delitzsch remarks that it is as at ch.15:25 and Psalm 52:7, active,

“they shall pluck up,” and this with the subject remaining

indefinite is equivalent to the passive form, “they shall be plucked up.” This

indefinite “they” can be used of God, as also in Job 7:3. The

expression has been understood as referring to being driven into exile, and

this view would be amply justified by the fate which overtook the apostate

nation when both the kingdoms of Israel and Judah suffered this fate (compare

the Septuagint’s ἐξωθήσονταιexothaesontai -  they shall be rooted out;

they shall be driven out). It also derives color from the language of the preceding

verse, but the imagery appears to be derived from the cutting down and rooting up

of trees. The destruction of the wicked and transgressors will be complete.





            The Profit of Religious Knowledge (vs. 10-22)


It is preservative amidst the influences of evil example and of sensuous





Ø      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 center 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 inner 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.


Ø      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 feelings, and displace the images of pleasure and objects

of desire which are unlawful 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.”

(v. 11)  The mind, directed to what is without, and feeling for its course

among uncertainties, thus appears forearmed against dangers.


·         THE DANGERS FROM WHICH IT PRESERVES. Social dangers. In

society lies our field of full moral development, both in sympathy with the

good and in antipathy to the evil. Two dangers are particularized.


Ø      The influence of the bad 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.


o        His talk is of froward things,” or “perversities” — cunning, crafty,

malicious in spirit (v. 12). Literally it is crooked talk, which is a

relative term — the direct opposite of the “straightness” of v. 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 feel about

good and evil in conduct.  The speech of evil insinuation, covert

suggestion, bad 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 adaptation to the unfilled

hours of an easy life, and which bad talk so often wastes and corrupts.

(...pride, fullness of bread and abundance of idleness...” were

characteristics of Sodom – Ezekiel 16:49 – CY – 2020)


o        His habit of life. He forsakes the “straight paths” to walk in “dark

ways,” such as those alluded to by Paul (Romans 13:13; Ephesians 5:11;

I Thessalonians 5:5). 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

sympathy; the most depraved cannot do without it or the semblance

of it. We are always craving the sight of that which reflects 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. (What was Cain’s problem with

Abel?  “...his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous.”

I John 3:12 – CY – 2020) 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.


Ø      The solicitations of the bad woman. The expressions, “strange, foreign”

(v. 16), appear to designate her as the wife of another, an adulteress

(compare ch. 6:26; 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.


o        Her infidelity to her husband and her God (v. 17). For marriage is a

bond, not only between two human beings, but between each and God.

Affiance (pledge of marriage; betroth) 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

(Jeremiah 3:4; Psalm 55:14).


o        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 “hypocrisy of passion,” is more deadly than

the sword.


o        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 Sheol, to Hades, the bourne whence no traveler 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 (fermentation) 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.




The Principle of Moral Stability (vs. 20-22)


This may be regarded as the 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:



A “dwelling in the land” (v. 21); the homeland; a sound dear to an

Israelitish ear.  The form in which the happy future shall be realized may

be first material, but only to pass into the spiritual. For ages Israel saw the

promise under the image of material prosperity; afterwards, in the purification

and enlightenment of her conscience by the gospel, she looked for a “better

country, that is, an heavenly” (Hebrews 11:14-16).  Both senses may

be included. The enlightened spirit knows 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.



sense par 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 (compare

Matthew 7:24-27).




                        Recompense and Retribution (vs. 20-22)


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 of duty; He 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:


·         THE REWARD OF WISDOM. (vs. 20-21.)


Ø      The man who pursues wisdom, who seeks conformity to the will of the

God, 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 of virtue, rich with the fruits of goodness.


Ø      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 forever (see Psalm 41:12). 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



Ø      He will dwell in the land of plenty (v. 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 (Exodus 3:8). 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


o        everything needful for temporal well being;

o        fullness of spiritual privilege;

o        the abiding presence and favor of the eternal Father, the

      unfailing Friend, the Divine Comforter.


·         THE FATE OF FOLLY. (v. 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

offand “rooted out.” The evils which foolish and stubborn souls have

now to dread, as the just penalty of their folly and their frowardness, are:


Ø      EXCLUSION from the kingdom of God on earth, and

Ø      EXILE from the kingdom of God in heaven.


Such impenitent and unbelieving 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 CONSUMATED  and PERPETUATED

in the nearer fellowship and more perfect bliss of heaven.




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