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"guileless." Solomon was a young man when the Lord answered his prayer for a wise and understanding heart, and in these proverbs given to him he received “knowledge and discretion” (thoughtfulness). Thus by the Word of God comes wisdom and that produceth understanding and a moral character in the man who trusteth in the Lord and is obedient to Him. To hear marks the wise man, and hearing will increase learning, learning will give understanding so that proverbs can be understood and also the interpretation. The latter word is only used once more in the Old Testament. It has the meaning of “satire.” The words of the wise and their dark sayings (riddles) are the words of the wise men of this world, the philosophers. The meaning is not that these wise men were the instructors of the young monarch, but that the divinely given proverbs rightly understood would protect him from accepting the foolish things of human wisdom, of philosophy. “This verse (6) intimates that the aim of the Book is to confer an initiation which will make the possessor free of all the mysteries of the Wise."*

Verse 7 contains the keynote to the entire book. (See ix:10; Eccles. xii:13; Job xxviii:28; Psalm cxi:10.) The word “fear” means a godly fear, reverence. This fear of the Lord is mentioned fourteen times in Proverbs. This childlike reverence, so sadly lacking among the young of our day, is the beginning of knowledge; there is no true knowledge apart from the fear of the Lord. It means to acknowledge the Lord, adore and worship Him, bow in faith to His revelation and put it above everything else. The foolish despise wisdom and instruction, they follow the philosophies of this world. To acknowledge the Lord to reverence and fear Him is thus written over the portal of the house of wisdom.

2. Warning against Evil Companions and Coveteousness: Verses 8-19. The practical instructions begin with an exhortation of obedience to the father and mother. “My son” is the address of the Lord to Solomon, who thus ackknowledges him as His child. Obedience to parents is not only commanded in the law dispensation; it is as prominent in the dispensation of grace, as we learn from Ephesians vi:1 and Colossians iii:20. One of the marks of the last days among those who profess Christianity, who have the form of Godliness but have not the power of it, is “disobedience to parents” (2 Timothy iii). Such disobedience, so prominent to-day among professing Christians, is coupled with disobedience to God and rejection of His Word. Much of the ungodliness to day has its source in this disobedience. This is followed by warning against wicked associates, those who are lawless and desperate men, thieves and murderers, who pass through the country greedy for gain. Solomon is exhorted not to walk in the way with them. The one who fears the Lord walks in separation and keeps away from the paths of the wicked. Verse 16 is quoted by Paul in the third chapter of Romans. There is a striking resemblance of this passage to Psalm x in which we have a description of the wicked, prophetically indicating the man of sin. (See annotations on that Psalm.)

*T. T. Perowne.

3. The Appeal of Wisdom: Verses 20-33. Wisdom now speaks and wisdom in this first section of Proverbs is a person, a Divine person. The eighth chapter gives us a wonderful vision of that Person, the Son of God, who is the Wisdom. First stands the call of Wisdom. The call may be answered or rejected. Wisdom promises if the call is obeyed, "Behold, I will pour my Spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you." But if the call is refused the consequences will be disastrous. The appeal of Wisdom closes with a precious promise.

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“But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely
And shall be quiet from fear of evil.“

This appeal of wisdom, the call, the promise, the refusal and the calamity of the refusal to listen to Him who speaks furnishes an excellent theme for preaching the Gospel to the unsaved.

CHAPTER II.

1. The Pursuit of Wisdom and its Results. 1-9.
2. Preservation from the Evil Man and the Strange Woman.

10-19.
3. The Path of the Righteous. 20-22.

1. The Pursuit of Wisdom and its Results: Verses 1-9. This second chapter of Divine Instructions begins with an exhortation to pursue after wisdom. The sayings of Wisdom, that is the Word of the Lord, must be received, laid up, , the ear must incline to hear them, the heart must be applied to understanding. In verse 3 mention is made of prayer. There must be crying after knowledge and for understanding and that must be followed by seeking and searching. If these conditions are fulfilled then the fear of the Lord is one's portion as well as the knowledge of God. These are excellent instructions for the study of the Word of God. If followed then the Lord will give Wisdom (James i:5). He layeth up sound Wisdom for the righteous. He Himself is the Wisdom and in Him are laid up all the treasures of Wisdom and knowledge (Colossians ii:3). He also is a shield (the better word for buckler) to them that walk uprightly, and the way of His Saints is preserved by Him.

2. Preservation from the Envious Man and the Strange Woman: Verses 10-19. When wisdom entereth the heart and the soul rejoiceth in true knowledge, what blessed consequences will follow! There is preservation and deliverance. The way of the evil man, the proud, the ungodly and their crooked ways hold out no attraction to those who love and seek wisdom. Then for the first time the strange woman, the foreign woman is mentioned. While a prostitute is meant, the warning to Solomon was to beware of the allurement of those who were outside of the commonwealth of Israel, the heathen Cannanitish cults in which prostitution played such a prominent part. If we look on these instructions as given to a young man, we see the temptations outlined which are peculiar to the young-disobedience to parents, evil companions and the lust of the flesh. 3. The Path of the Righteous: Verses 20-22. He who ordereth his conduct according to Divine instruction will walk in the way of the good and keep the paths of the righteous, dwelling in the land of promise while the wicked have no such hope.

CHAPTER III.

1. The Call and Promise of Wisdom. 1-10.
2. Happy is the Man that Findeth Wisdom. 11-20.
3. Promise and Instruction. 21-35.

1. The Call and Promise of Wisdom: Verses 1-10. The call to obedience is followed by promise. The promise is like all the promises to an earthly people "for length of days and long life". Here are some blessed exhortations loved and cherished by all His people (Verses 5-7). How happier, and more fruitful the children of God would be if they obeyed constantly this instruction: “In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths."

2. Happy is the Man that findeth Wisdom. Verses 11-20. Verses 11-12 are quoted in Hebrews xii. The man who findeth wisdom, that is who knows the Lord, is happy. If we look upon wisdom as personified in the Lord Jesus Christ we can read “His ways are pleasantness, and all His paths are peace.

He is a tree of life to them that lay hold on Him, and happy is every one that retaineth Him” (17-18).

3. Promise and Instruction. Verses 21-34. The words of the Lord kept are life to the soul, grace to the neck; they insure safety; they protect and keep by day and by night. Each verse has a blessed meaning. This chapter ends with the promise that the wise shall inherit glory while the promotion of fools will be shame.

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CHAPTER IV.

1. Solomon's Training. 1-9. 2. Hear, O my Son. Receive my Sayings. 10-19. 3. My Son, Attend to my Words. 20-27.

1. Solomon's Training: Verses 1-9. This passage shows the early training which Solomon received and he passeth on the instructions. It is said that these verses formed a model for many Puritan homes in England and the Scotland of the covenant. He was the beloved one, his father's true son. Note the different exhortation, about wisdom: Forget it not; forsake her not; love her; exalt her. Then the promises: She shall preserve thee; she shall keep thee; she shall promote thee; she gives honor; an ornament of grace for the head and a crown of glory. If we take wisdom and make it the Lord Jesus Christ and His Word, what blessed food for the soul we will enjoy!

2. Hear, O my Son. Receive my Sayings: Verses 10-19. Here we find instructions for Solomon and all the godly with the corresponding promises. Then there is the warning concerning the path of the wicked and a contrast between the way of the righteous and the way of the wicked.

“But the way of the righteous is as the dawn of light
That shineth more and more unto the perfect day.”

This is a blessed statement. As soon as we accept the true wisdom, the Lord Jesus Christ, we enter upon a way which faceth the east, the sunrise. The light of the coming dawn illumines that path, and at some time the perfect day will break when all shadows flee away.

3. My Son, attend to my Words. Verses 20-27. Instructions to receive and to obey the words of wisdom are the contents of this address. The

eye is never to be taken off from the words of the Lord; they are to be kept in the midst of the heart. How important to listen to such counsel, even for us, His children:

"Keep thy heart with all diligence;
For out of it are the issues of life.”

CHAPTER V.

1. Shun the Strange Woman and Sinful Passion. 1-14. 2. The Life of Chastity. 15-23.

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