Lectionary Calendar
Monday, June 17th, 2024
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
Proverbs 1

Bridges' Commentary on ProverbsBridges' on Proverbs

Verses 1-4

THE Book naturally opens with a short account of its author. Solomon is recorded as the wisest of men; a man of wisdom, because a man of prayer. (1 Kings 3:12 . Compare Proverbs 2:1-9 .) His extraordinary wisdom was the admiration of the world. (1 Kings 3:28 ; 1 Kings 4:34 .) Had he been the son of Jeroboam, he would have commanded respect; much more as the son of David, formed by his godly prayers (Psalms 72:1 ) and counsels. (Proverbs 4:1-4 . 1 Kings 2:1-4 . 1 Chronicles 28:9 .) And if a King’s sayings even though without intrinsic merit, are preserved, the wise teaching of this King of Israel (Ecclesiastes 1:1 ; Ecclesiastes 12:9-10 ) may well demand our especial interest.

Valuable, however, as were Solomon’s maxims for their own wisdom (exceeding the sages of his own or any other time) (1 Kings 4:29-31 ); they claim our reverence upon infinitely higher ground. "Behold! A greater than Solomon is here." (Matthew 12:42 ). Often does he speak in the person (Proverbs 1:20; Proverbs 8:1-36 . Proverbs 9:1-18 . Proverbs 23:26 ) always under the inspiration (2 Timothy 3:16 ) of "the wisdom of God;" so that his sayings are truly "Divine sentences in the lips of the King." (Proverbs 16:10 .)

The great end of this inestimable book is to teach, not secular or political wisdom (though many excellent rules of each are interspersed) (Proverbs 6:1-11 ; Proverbs 27:23-27 ; with Proverbs 11:14 ; Proverbs 14:28, Proverbs 14:34 ; Proverbs 20:18 ); but that knowledge of God (Proverbs 1:7 ), which, while it "maketh wise unto salvation, perfects and furnishes the man of God unto all good works." (2 Timothy 3:15-17 . Titus 2:11-12 .) Its glowing privileges are set forth (Proverbs 3:13-18 .) It is pressed upon us with intense earnestness, as "the principal thing," our very "life." (Proverbs 4:5-9, Proverbs 4:13 .) Instruction is the means of gaining it. We are directed to perceive the words of understanding; to receive the instruction as a complete rule of wisdom, justice, judgment, and equity (Compare Proverbs 2:9 ); sound principles, and their practical application. Here also the simple, so readily deluded (Proverbs 14:15 ; Proverbs 21:11 . Ezekiel 45:20 ), learn that subtlety, so needful to discriminate between truth and error (Philippians 1:10 . 1 Thessalonians 5:21 ); to guard them from false teachers (Psalms 17:4 . 1 John 4:1 . Compare Acts 17:11 ); and to "convince gainsayers." (Titus 1:9 ; Titus 2:8 Compare Matthew 22:15-46 .) Specially is the young man directed to this book.†1 His undisciplined ardor runs to waste. His mind fluctuates at the mercy of the winds of opinion in the world around him; and greatly does he need some settled master-principles to fix his purpose, choice, and conduct. Here then he finds knowledge and discretion; a religion, not of imagination, impulse, or sentiment; but the sound practical energy of Scriptural truth.


†1 Psalms 119:9. Over the gates of Plato’s school, it was written: MhdeiV agewmetrhtoV eisitw. (<-- note to e-Sword users: please see the book: this is the word processor’s attempt to transliterate the Greek characters into English). (Literally — Let no one who is not a geometrician enter.) But very different is the inscription over these doors of Solomon — Let the ignorant, simple, foolish, young enter. Cartwright in loc. — Lavater in c. iv. 4:20-22.

Verses 5-6

Not only the simple and the young, but even the wise, may here gather instruction. For a truly wise man is one, not who has attained, but who knows that he "has not attained," and is pressing onward to perfection. (Philippians 3:12 . Compare 1 Corinthians 3:18 ; 1 Corinthians 3:8 :2.) David, while conscious of comparative attainments, was ever seeking for higher light. (Psalms 119:89-100 ; with Psalms 119:18, Psalms 119:33-34 .) Indeed the richest stores would soon waste, without constant additions. Hearing is a great medium of knowledge. Jethro instructed Moses (Exodus 18:17-26 ); our Lord his disciples. (Matthew 13:11-16 . John 16:12 .) Peter enlightened is fellow-apostles. (Acts 11:2-18 ) Priscilla and Aquila "instructed Apollos in the way of God more perfectly." (Acts 18:24-26.) Indeed we must be hearers, ere we would be teachers. ’He gathers that hears; he spends that teacheth. If we spend before we gather, we shall soon prove bankrupts.’†1 The longer we learn, the more we feel ourselves to be learners; and the more ready we shall be to hear, that we may increase in learning. (Proverbs 9:9 ; Proverbs 18:15 .) And at such a crisis as this, both of the Church and of the world, how eagerly should we improve every medium of instruction, by which we might become "men of understanding, and attain wise counsels, to know what Israel ought to do"! (1 Chronicles 12:32 .) The wise man himself expounded his words and dark sayings to the delight and instruction of his royal scholar (1 Kings 10:1-5 ); so to a teachable hearer "the deep things of God" will be interpreted. (1 Corinthians 2:9-10 .) Hence the value of the Minister of God; "an interpreter, one of a thousand" (Job 33:23 . Compare Acts 8:27-35 ); the divinely-appointed means of bringing to the perfection of knowledge. (Ephesians 4:11-15 . 1 Thessalonians 3:10 .) Many disorders and heresies might have been spared to the Church, if, instead of indulging the perversity of an unsettled judgment, men had honoured "the Priest, as the messenger of the LORD of Hosts," and in humble simplicity had "sought the law at his mouth." (Malachi 2:7 . Compare Hebrews 13:7, Hebrews 13:17 with 1 Corinthians 4:8; 1 Corinthians 3:2-4.) Self-will may resist this suggestion as Romish domination. But humble subjection to the faithful "steward of the mysteries of God," coming to learn, not to teach; to have, not the curiosity fed, but the conscience satisfied. This reverence of God’s ordinance will issue in the "good things of the heart established with grace." (Hebrews 13:9 ).


†1 Bishop Hall.

Verse 7

The preface has stated the object of this Book of Wisdom. The book itself now opens with a noble sentence. ’There is not’ — as Bishop Patrick observes — ’such a wise instruction to be found in all their books (speaking of Heathen ethics), as the very first of all in Solomon’s, which he lays as the ground of all wisdom.’†1 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge. So Job had pronounced before. (Job 28:28 .) So had the wise man’s father. (Psalms 111:10 .) Such is the weight of this saying, that Solomon again repeats it.†2 Nay — after having gone round the whole circuit; after having weighed exactly all the sources of knowledge; his conclusion of the whole matter is this, that the fear of God in its practical exercise "is the whole of man" (Ecclesiastes 12:13 . Compare Job 28:12-14, with Job 28:28 ) — all his duty; all his happiness; his first lesson and his last. Thus, when about to instruct us from the mouth of God, he begins at the beginning, the principle part. All heathen wisdom is but folly. Of all knowledge, the knowledge of God is the principal. There is no true knowledge without godliness. (Compare Deuteronomy 4:6-7 .)

But what is this fear of the LORD? It is that affectionate reverence, by which the child of God bends himself humbly and carefully to his Father’s law. His wrath is so bitter, and his love so sweet; that hence springs an earnest desire to please him, and — because of the danger of coming short from his own weakness and temptations — a holy watchfulness and fear, "that he might not sin against him." (Hebrews 12:28-29 .) This enters into every exercise of the mind, every object of life. (Proverbs 23:17 .) The oldest proficient in the Divine school seeks a more complete molding into its spirit. The godly parent trains up his family under its influence. (Genesis 18:19 . Ephesians 6:4 .) The Christian scholar honours it as the beginning, the head, of all his knowledge; at once sanctifying its end, and preserving him from its most subtle temptations.

Why then do multitudes around us despise wisdom and instruction? Because the beginning of wisdom — "the fear of God — is not before their eyes." (Psalms 36:1 .) They know not its value. They scorn its obligation. Wise they may be in their own sight. But surely God here gives them their right name. For fools they must be, to despise such a blessing (Jeremiah 8:9 ); to rush into willful ruin (Proverbs 1:22, Proverbs 1:24-32 . Compare 1 Samuel 2:25 . 1 Kings 12:13 . Jeremiah 36:22-32 ); to treasure up work for despairing repentance. (Proverbs 5:12-13 ; Proverbs 29:1 .) Good Lord! May the childlike fear be my wisdom, my security, my happiness!


†1 Preface to his Paraphrase.

†2 Proverbs 9:10. Compare the fine description by the son of Sirach. Sirach 1:14-20, Sirach 1:27.

Excerpts from Ecclesiasticus 1 (Douay version):

The fear of the Lord is honour, and glory, and gladness, and a crown of joy. The fear of the Lord shall delight the heart, and shall give joy, and gladness, and length of days. With him that feareth the Lord, it shall go well in the latter end, and in the day of his death he shall be blessed. The love of God is honourable wisdom. And they to whom she shall shew herself love her by the sight, and by the knowledge of her great works. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and was created with the faithful in the womb, it walketh with chosen women, and is known with the just and faithful. The fear of the Lord is the religiousness of knowledge. Religiousness shall keep and justify the heart, it shall give joy and gladness. It shall go well with him that feareth the Lord, and in the days of his end he shall be blessed. To fear God is the fulness of wisdom, and fulness is from the fruits thereof. She shall fill all her house with her increase, and the storehouses with her treasures. The fear of the Lord is a crown of wisdom, filling up peace and the fruit of salvation: And it hath seen, and numbered her: but both are the gifts of God. Wisdom shall distribute knowledge, and understanding of prudence: and exalteth the glory of them that hold her. The root of wisdom is to fear the Lord: and the branches thereof are long-lived. In the treasures of wisdom is understanding, and religiousness of knowledge: but to sinners wisdom is an abomination. The fear of the Lord driveth out sin: For he that is without fear, cannot be justified: for the wrath of his high spirits is his ruin. A patient man shall bear for a time, and afterwards joy shall be restored to him. A good understanding will hide his words for a time, and the lips of many shall declare his wisdom. In the treasures of wisdom is the signification of discipline: But the worship of God is an abomination to a sinner. Son, if thou desire wisdom, keep justice, and God will give her to thee. For the fear of the Lord is wisdom and discipline: and that which is agreeable to him, Is faith, and meekness: and he will fill up his treasures. Be not incredulous to the fear of the Lord: and come not to him with a double heart.

King James Version:

14 To fear the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and it was created with the faithful in the womb.

15 She hath built an everlasting foundation with men, and she shall continue with their seed.

16 To fear the Lord is fullness of wisdom, and filleth men with her fruits.

17 She filleth all their house with things desirable, and the garners with her increase.

18 The fear of the Lord is a crown of wisdom, making peace and perfect health to flourish; both which are the gifts of God: and it enlargeth their rejoicing that love him.

19 Wisdom raineth down skill and knowledge of understanding standing, and exalteth them to honour that hold her fast.

20 The root of wisdom is to fear the Lord, and the branches thereof are long life.

27 For the fear of the Lord is wisdom and instruction: and faith and meekness are his delight.

(The verse numbers and some of the content of this chapter varies between the KJ & Douay versions, so an attempt has been made to include from the Douay version all of the verses that relate to the fear of the LORD.)

Verses 8-9

Let the young mark the fear of the LORD connected with reverence to parents. Thus the opening of this book puts honour upon "the first commandment with promise." (Ephesians 6:2 . Compare 1 Timothy 5:4 .) God here, speaking by the mouth of a parent or teacher,†1 blends paternal tenderness with his Divine authority — My son. The command supposes the godly character of parents, and recognizes the responsibility of both parents.†2 Children are rational creatures. Instruction, not blind submission, must be inculcated. Yet they are wayward. Instruction must therefore be enforced with the authority of Law. God puts his own stamp upon parental discipline. Hear itForsake it not. Reverence for his mother’s law was the honourable mark of Timothy’s profession. (2 Timothy 1:5 ; 2 Timothy 3:14-15 .) Nor must this reverence be confined to the years of restraint. The disciple of the Bible will own himself to be a child in relative obligations, long after he has ceased to be a child in years. (Jeremiah 35:8-10, Jeremiah 35:18 .) Neither age nor rank gives any claim for exemption. Joseph — when ripe in years, the head of a family, and the first Lord in Egypt — bowed before his father’s feet. (Genesis 46:29 ; Genesis 48:12 .) Solomon, in the glory of his crown, forgot not the respect justly due to his mother.†3 Nor were the crown upon his head, and the chain of gold about Joseph’s neck (Compare Proverbs 4:9, with Genesis 41:39, Genesis 41:42 ), so graceful as this ornament of filial humility. (1 Peter 5:5 .) This indeed commands the praise of the world, and may sometimes be a delusive, self-righteous dependence. But wherever it is grounded upon right principle, it is the "putting on of the Lord Jesus Christ" in his lovely example. (Romans 13:14 .) Though angels were subject to him, yet was he "subject to his parents." (Luke 2:51, with Hebrews 1:6 .) Yea, how did he honour his mother in his last dying command to his disciple — "Behold thy mother!" (John 19:27 .)

The same reciprocal obligation binds the spiritual father and his children. Authority softened by tenderness — instruction molded in parental endearment — will always command its measure of reverential and affectionate attention. Such was the Apostolical Ministry to the Churches of Philippi and Thessalonica. Humility, tenderness, mutual communion and cheerful subjection, formed the harmony of Christian love and happiness. (Philippians 4:9-19 . 1 Thessalonians 2:7-13 .)


†1 Thus the prophets were called Fathers — 2 Kings 2:12 ; 2 Kings 13:14 . Our blessed Lord used the same endearing address — John 21:5 . Compare Matthew 9:2, Matthew 9:22 . Thus the apostles also acknowledged both their individual converts and collective Churches — 1 Timothy 1:2 . 2 Timothy 1:2 . Titus 1:4 . 1 Corinthians 4:15 ; with 1 John 2:1 ; 1 John 5:2 .

†2 See Judges 13:12 . No ancient system, so fully as the Bible, recognizes the Mother’s just and equal claims. Proverbs 6:20 ; Proverbs 15:20 ; Proverbs 20:20 ; Proverbs 23:22 ; Proverbs 30:17 . Leviticus 19:3 . Deuteronomy 21:18-21 . Cartwright observes, that the names of Mothers of good and bad kings are mentioned in Kings and Chronicles, as partakers in their credit or reproach. See also Sirach 3:1-16 .

†3 1 Kings 2:19-20 . See also Queen Esther’s respect for Mordecai, her reputed father — Esther 2:20 .

Verses 10-16

(Proverbs 1:16 quoted in the NT: Romans 3:15 )

Let the young hearken to the instruction and law of the godly parent and minister. Who that has the charge of youth does not mourn over the baneful influence of evil companions? Would that the Lord’s servants were as energetic in his work, as sinners are in furthering the ends of their master! Almost as soon as Satan became an apostate, he became a tempter. And most successfully does he train his servants in this work. (Proverbs 16:29 . Genesis 11:4 . Numbers 31:16 . Isaiah 56:12 .) If sinners entice thee — This is no uncertain contingency. ’My son’ — said the wise son of Sirach — ’if thou come to serve the Lord prepare thy heart for temptation.’ (Sirach 2:1 .) Yet we have one rule against all manifold enticements (Proverbs 7:5-23 . Compare Deuteronomy 13:6-8 . 1 Chronicles 21:1 . 1 Kings 13:15-19 ) — Consent thou not. Consent constitutes the sin. Eve consented, before she plucked the fruit (Genesis 3:6 ); David, before he committed the act of sin. (2 Samuel 11:2-4 . Compare Joshua 7:21 .) Joseph resisted, and was saved. (Genesis 39:8-9 .) Job was sorely tried; "yet in all this Job sinned not." (Job 1:22 ; Job 2:10 .) If the temptation prevail, charge it not on God; no — nor on the devil. As the worst he can do, he can only tempt, he cannot force us, to sin. When he has plied us with his utmost power, and most subtle artifice, it is at the choice of our own will, whether we yield or no. (See James 1:13-15 .) The habitual resistance of the will clears us of responsibility (Compare Romans 7:14-17, Romans 7:19, Romans 7:20, Romans 7:23 .) The consent, even if it be not carried out into the act, lays the responsibility at our own door.

The enticement here was to robbery and blood; covetousness leading to murder. Most fiendish was the plot. The innocent was to be murdered without cause (Genesis 4:8 . Psalms 10:8 ), swallowed up alive and whole; like Korah and his company, going down into the pit in their full strength. (Numbers 16:33 .) The invitation at first was seemingly harmless — Only come with us. Soon the demand rises — Cast in thy lot with us. ’But we shall be discovered.’ No — they reply — ’we will do all so cleverly, that there will be no more blood to be seen, than if the earth swallowed them up; or they died a natural death, and were decently buried.’† The spoil of precious substance will be found, when our victim is destroyed. (Compare Matthew 21:38 .) Precious substance! Why! This is as large a promise, as that from the mouth of the Son of God. (Proverbs 8:21 .) But how can substance be found belonging to a world of shadows? (Psalms 39:6 .) Much more, how can the fruit of robbery be precious, with the curse of God? (Proverbs 21:6 . Psalms 62:9-10 .)

Not that this horrible plot is usually propounded at first. But step by step, unless the Lord graciously restrains, it may come to this at last. The cover and varnish are here taken off, to show what sin is in its nature, character, and certain end. What young man, but would shudder, and start away from the wickedness, if presented to his imagination alone? But many a deluded sinner is thus hurried on by the influence of company to lengths of sin, that he had never contemplated.†2 Other enticements are prepared for the amiable and the uninitiated, just entering into life; less fearful and obvious, and therefore more really dangerous. Such "advantage does Satan get of us by our ignorance of his devices!" (2 Corinthians 2:11 .)

Is it safe then to trust in our good resolution or principles? No — Walk not in the way with them. The invitation is — Come with us. The warning is — Refrain thy foot from their path. (Proverbs 4:14-15 . Compare Psalms 1:1 .) Avoid parleying with them. No one becomes a profligate at once.†3 But "evil communications corrupt good manners." (1 Corinthians 15:33 .) The tender conscience becomes less sensitive by every compliance. Who can stop himself in the down-hill road? One sin prepares for another, pleads for it, nay, even makes it necessary for concealment. David committed murder to hide his adultery, and for his covering charged it upon the providence of God. (2 Samuel 11:4, 2 Samuel 11:17, 2 Samuel 11:25 .)

Again then — we repeat with all earnestness — Refrain. The path may be strewed with flowers; but it is a path of evil, perhaps of blood.†4 Every step on Satan’s ground deprives us of the security of the promises of God. Often has ruin followed by not refraining from the first step. (Compare Mark 14:54, Mark 14:71 .) The only safety is in flight. (Genesis 39:10, Genesis 39:12 .) Run then into "thy hiding place, and behind thy shield," and boldly bid thy tempter "depart from thee." (Psalms 119:114-115 . Compare Matthew 4:10 .) Awful is the thought! There is not a sin, that the highest saint of God may not commit, if trusting in himself. "Thou standest by faith. Be not high-minded, but fear." (Romans 11:20 .)


†1 Cartwright. But see Genesis 4:10 . 2 Kings 9:26.

†2 Chartist Associations afford ample evidence of this awful delusion.

†3 ’Nemo fit repente turpissimus.’ — Classical adage.

†4 Proverbs 1:16. Isaiah 59:7 . An apt illustration of the total depravity of man in the perverted use of the members of his body. — Romans 3:15.

Verses 17-19

The sight of danger leads, when possible, to the avoiding of it. Instinct directs the bird; reason the man. Yet such is the infatuation of sin, that man in his boasted wisdom will not do, what the bird will do by her native instinct. She shuns the net spread in her sight; man rushes into it. These men thirsted for their neighbor’s blood. But in the end they laid wait for their own. They lurked privily for the innocent without cause. But it proved to be lurking privily for their own lives. (Proverbs 1:11 with Proverbs 1:18 . Compare Job 18:8 . Habakkuk 2:10 .) Ahab and his guilty partner, in plotting the destruction of their innocent victim, worked out their own ruin. (1 Kings 21:4-24 .) Little did Haman, when bent upon the murder of Mordecai (Esther 7:9 ); or Judas, when "seeking opportunity to betray his Master" (Matthew 26:14-16 ; Matthew 27:3-5 ), see, that they were "digging a pit for themselves." (Psalms 7:15, Psalms 7:16 ; Psalms 9:15-16 .) Yet the sinner, would he but use his own eyes, might see hell at the end of his path. (Matthew 7:13 .) But sin is self-delusive, self-destructive. So are the ways — such the end — of greedy, often murderous, gain.†1 My son — once more hear thy Father’s instruction, "Flee these things." (Proverbs 1:8, with 1 Timothy 6:9-11 .)


†1 Compare Job 31:39-40 . Jeremiah 22:17-19 . Micah 3:10-12 . ’How great a cheat is wickedness! It ensnareth the ensnarers, and murders the murderers; holds a dark lantern in one hand, while with the other it discharges silently a pistol into our bosom.’ — Jermin (Dr. M.), Comment on Proverbs, folio, 1638.

Verses 20-23

A Father’s instruction has warned us against the enticement of Satan. Wisdom — the Son of God himself, now invites us, — in all the plenitude of his Divine authority and grace.†1 Full of yearning love to sinners, he crieth, not only in the temple, but without in the streets, in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates (Compare Proverbs 8:1-5 . Matthew 13:2-3 . John 7:37-39 ; John 18:20-21 . Psalms 40:9-10 ) — How long? Simplicity is another term for folly. It is the temper of mind of those that fear not God. They weigh not what they say or do. They live as if there were neither God nor eternity. Their understandings are blinded by the love of sin. In other cases man delights, not in his ignorance, but in its removal. But these simple ones, ignorant of the value and danger of their souls, love simplicity. They consider all endeavours to enlighten them, as breaking in upon an indulgent repose, and exciting a groundless alarm. For while they live riotously, slothfully, or licentiously, "they consider not in their hearts, that God remembereth all their wickedness," and "that for all these things he will bring them into judgment." (Hosea 7:2 . Ecclesiastes 11:9 .) They are encouraged by a few more furious than themselves — scorners — who have neither fear nor shame, remorse of heart, nor decency of manner; who take an active delight in their scorning: shooting their poisoned arrows against godliness. (See Psalms 64:3-4 .) All earnestness in religion is with them a weakness unworthy of sensible men. The very Scripture terms are revolting. A saint in Scripture means one sanctified by the Spirit of God. With them it means a foolish person or a hypocrite. Their souls are too high to stoop to the vulgar thoughts and habits of the gospel of Christ. Thus do they prove themselves (both the indolent mass of the simple ones, and their scornful leaders) to be fools, that hate knowledge. (Proverbs 1:7, Proverbs 1:29-30 . Job 21:14 ; Job 24:13 .) Aiming to keep out alarm, with it they shut out all that would make them wise and happy. If they hate the knowledge of their lost condition, they exclude all that follows upon it, to make them "wise unto salvation." Of other knowledge they have often too much: mischievous, as keeping out better things; giving them an evil eye, filling the soul with darkness; making them "hate the light, so that they will not come to the light, lest their deeds should be reproved." (John 3:19-20 .)

Our Lord deals with this case on the perfect freeness of the gospel. He would melt down the hardness by pleading remonstrance — How long? (Compare Matthew 23:37 . Luke 19:41-42 .) He sweeps away all the suggestions of unbelief, all the heartless excuses of indolence, by inviting promises — Turn at my reproof. ’I cannot turn myself.’ But I will pour out my Spirit as a living fountain unto you. And — as the consequence of this blessing — I will make known my words unto you. The Bible, before a dark and sealed book, shall be made clear to you. ’I offer to you both my word outwardly to your ears, and a plentiful measure of my Spirit inwardly to your heart, to make that word effectual to you.’†2

But we are often told, that all the illumination to be expected in our day is the written word, interpreted, like every other book, by our own reason; and that the Spirit’s teaching is an enthusiastic delusion. Now this may pass with the simple and the scorner — who know nothing of the blindness of their hearts, and of the power of natural prejudice, which Divine grace alone can conquer. But the man that knows his own darkness, and that nothing less than the power of God can teach him — he will — he must "cry for knowledge, and lift up his voice for understanding" (Proverbs 2:3 ); not because the word is dark (for it is light itself), but because he is dark, and therefore utterly unable to receive its instructions. (1 Corinthians 2:9-14 .) We do not want a new revelation, we only want a Divine Teacher, we want the pouring out of the Spirit to make known the word. The word is the same Divine word as before. But it was not understood, discerned, not therefore practically effectual. Now there is joy, a power and sweetness, of which before we had no conception. It humbled us in the sense of our ignorance, and makes us pant for more of its heavenly light and influence.

But the proud caviller complains of God, as if he reckoned with him for a blindness and inability, which he cannot help, — innate without his consent. "Nay, but O man, who are thou that repliest against God?" (Romans 9:20 .) He at once answers this Satanic plea, by offering to you present, suitable, and sufficient relief. He meets you on your way to condemnation with the promise of free and full forgiveness. (Isaiah 1:18 ; Isaiah 43:23, Isaiah 43:26 .) Your plea will be of force, when you have gone to him, and found him wanting. The power indeed is of him. But he hath said — "Ask, and it shall be given you." (Matthew 7:7 .) If your helplessness is a real grievance, bring it to him with an honest desire to be rid of it. If you have never prayed, now is the time for prayer. If you cannot pray, at least make the effort. Stretch out the withered hand in the obedience of faith. (Mark 3:5 .) If your heart be hard, your convictions faint, your resolutions unsteady; all is provided in the promise — I will pour out my Spirit upon you. Move then, and act in dependence upon the Almighty Mover and Agent. (Compare Philippians 2:12-13 .) Christian experience explains a mystery unfathomable to human reason. It harmonizes man’s energy and God’s grace. There is no straitening, no exclusion, with God. His promises with one mouth assure a welcome to the willing heart. If it cannot move, his Spirit can compel, point, draw it to the Savior. Yea, in the desire to turn, has not the Savior already touched it, and drawn it to himself?

But remember — the call — How long? is to an instant conversion; not to the consideration or resolution of the morrow, but to the decision of today. Delay is mockery of God. "Quench not the Spirit" now striving, but which "will not always strive with man." (1 Thessalonians 5:19 . Genesis 6:3 .) Add not thus to the mass of guilt ready to sink you into perdition.


†1 The cry, the chief place of concourse, the outpouring fountain of the Spirit, are identified, John 7:37-39 . This very remonstrance, accompanied, as here, with a stirring invitation, is also given in prophecy from the Savior’s own mouth. Isaiah 55:1-3 . The terms of the promise forbid any other than a personal application. We can easily conceive a spirit to have wisdom. But that an attribute of wisdom may dispense his Spirit or influence to others, is beyond conception. Moreover, the Messiah assumed this personal title (Matthew 23:34, with Luke 11:49 ); and his apostle expressly gives it to him (1 Corinthians 1:24 ). The plural noun joined with the singular verb (mar. Compare Proverbs 9:1 ) seems to point him out as the author and whole substance of all wisdom; ’the very wisdom of the most wise God, "in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge," and by whom rivers of wisdom are poured into man by the word.’ (Glass Lib 3. Tract. i Can. 24.) The future tense in the original may possibly give a prophetic character to the proclamation. Altogether, ’this interpretation gives to the exhortation of Wisdom a peculair majesty and emphasis; setting forth the eternal uncreated Wisdom of the Father, using all means to draw men to God; both by his works and by his word, inviting all men to know the truth.’ — Scott. Bishop Hall. Compare notes on Proverbs 1:24 . Proverbs 8:1 .

†2 Bishop Hall.

Verses 24-31

The Savior calls by his word, his providence, his ministers, conscience. But ye refused. Not till his calls have been refused, does he thunder forth his warnings. But such grace, so rich and free, yet rejected — who can take the gauge of this guilt? All creatures beside are his servants. (Psalms 119:91 .) Man alone resists his yoke. He stretched out his hand (Isaiah 65:2 ) to afford help; to confer a blessing; to beseech its acceptance; yea, even to command attention to his call. (See Acts, 21:40.) But no man regarded. The wisest counsel, the most solemn reproof, all is set at nought. Thus does he "endure with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction." (Romans 9:22 .) But, O sinner! The day cometh, when he, who once yearned, and wept, and prayed, and died, will have no pity (Ezekiel 5:11 . Ezekiel 8:18, with Ezekiel 33:11 ); when he shall be, as if he laughed and mocked at your calamity (Compare Judges 10:14 . Isaiah 1:24 ); when he shall delight in the exercise of his sovereign justice over you. (Compare Deuteronomy 28:63 . Ezekiel 5:13 .) All will then be the desolation of realized fear (Proverbs 10:24 ); sudden as a whirlwind;†1 the distress and anguish of utter despair. (Job 15:24 . Daniel 5:5-6, Daniel 5:30 .)

This is his solemn denunciation. And then, as if he could bear these despisers no longer in his sight, he changes his address, and pictures the scene itself in its strongest colors. They would not hear when I called. Then shall they call upon me, and I will not answer. They would not listen to my warnings; I will not listen to their cries. They shall call upon me — yea, they shall seek me early; but they shall not find me.†2 Prayer, once omnipotent, will then be powerless. ’The last judgment before the very last of all is come; the very outward court or portal of hell;’†3 the misery of deserted souls. To be forsaken of God at any time is awful woe (Hosea 9:12 ); how much more in the time of trouble! (1 Samuel 28:15 .) But to have his countenance not only turned from us, but turned against us, his eternal frown instead of his smile — this will be hell instead of heaven.

Does this unmeasured wrath seem inconsistent with a God of love? "The LORD our God is a consuming fire." (Deuteronomy 4:24 .) And think of his knowledge, instead of being a delight, being hated; his fear not chosen; none of his gracious counsel regarded; all his reproof despised. It is not just, that the sinner, thus obstinately bent upon the choice of his own way, should not only gather, but eat the fruit of it? (Proverbs 13:2 ); that it should enter into him, and become his substance; that he should be filled with it, even to satiety;†4 and that — not only during his road (Numbers 11:4, Numbers 11:20 . Psalms 106:13-15 ), but at the end, throughout eternity? (Isaiah 3:11 . Galatians 6:7 .) The moral elements of sin constitute a hell of themselves, apart from the material fire. ’The fruit of sin in time, when arrived at full and finished maturity, is just the fruit of sin through eternity. It is merely the sinner reaping what he has sown. It makes no violent or desultory step from sin in time to hell in eternity. The one emerges from the other, as does the fruit from the flower. It is simply, that the sinner be filled with his own ways, and that he eat the fruit of his own devices.’†5

This picture might seem to be the foreboding of despair. Yet, such miracles of Divine grace have we seen; nay — such are we ourselves — that we despair of none. We must not, however, soften down God’s own words by a misplaced presumptuous tenderness. Have we never seen them verified in the dying sinner, who has neglected and scoffed at the Gospel, and never sent up one cry for mercy on his soul? Is this no warning of the danger of a protracted repentance; of the worthlessness of confessions extorted by terror; "howling on the bed, not weeping at the cross"? (Hosea 7:14, with Luke 18:13 .) And does it not solemnly tell us, that the day of grace has its limits (Genesis 6:3 . Hebrews 4:7 ); that there is a knock, which will be the last knock; that a sinner may be lost on this side of hell; intreated, pleaded with, wept over — yet lost! lost even in the day of salvation? To "do despite to the Spirit of grace" (mark the endearing name) — the Spirit of all kindness, of alluring love; who pleads so tenderly with us — to wound him, as it were, to the soul (Hebrews 10:29, Greek) — this is a provocation beyond words, beyond thought. "There remaineth" only that, which might strike into the very centre of the man, "the fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." (Ib. Verses Hebrews 10:26-27, Hebrews 10:31 .)


†1 Proverbs 10:25. Psalms 58:9 . Isaiah 17:13 ; Isaiah 40:24 . Eastern travellers furnish abundant illustration of this striking figure. Paxton’s Illustrations of Scripture Geography, pp. 412-416 — (Oliphant.)

†2 Matthew 25:6-12 . Luke 13:24-26 . Dr. Owen admirably remarks upon this remonstrance as a proof of the Personality of Wisdom — ’If these things express not a person, and that a Divine person, the Scripture gives us no due apprehension of anything whatever. Who is it that pours out the Holy Spirit? Who is it that men sin against, in refusing to be obedient? Who is it, that in their distress they call upon, and seek early in their trouble? The whole Scriptures declare to whom, and to whom alone, these things belong, and may be ascribed.’ — Exposition of Hebrews. Prelim. Exercit. 27:8-12. We might add — Who besides could threaten rebels with ruin, and promise peace and security to the obedient?

†3 Bishop Reynolds Works. p. 971.

†4 Proverbs 14:14. Compare Proverbs 25:16 . — ’Ad nauseam implebuntur, et comedent, ita ut consiliorum vehementer tandem, sed nimis sero, ipsos pœniteant.’ — Michaelis.

†5 Chalmers on Romans 6:21 .

Verses 32-33

Again is the sinner’s ruin laid at his own door. He turns away from Wisdom’s beseeching voice. He despises the only remedy. He dies a suicide. It matters nothing to what we turn. If we turn away from God, we turn from our true, our eternal interests. And, oh! be it remembered, that every inattention, every willful neglect, is a step towards this fearful apostasy. The word gradually becomes a burden, then a scorn. The fool may seem to be spared from judgment. But his prosperity is his destruction.†1 To desire ease, therefore, is to embrace a deadly enemy. Who that knows his own heart will not feel it a matter, not of congratulation, but of deep and anxious prayer — ’In all time of our wealth — Good Lord, deliver us?’†2

But to close with the sunshine of promise — Art thou, Reader, like God’s own child, hearkening unto him? Then art thou under his cover, where no evil can reach thee; dwelling not only safely, but assured of safety; quiet even from fear of evil (Proverbs 3:21-26 . Job 5:21 . Psalms 91:5-7 ; Psalms 112:6-7 . Isaiah 32:17-19 ); as Noah in the ark, in conscious security, while the world were perishing around him (Genesis 7:11-16 ); as David, fearless in imminent danger, because realizing a refuge in God. (Psalms 3:1-8 . Compare 1 Samuel 30:6 .) Yes — even the coming day of distress and anguish brings with it no fear of evil. (Contrasting verses Proverbs 1:26-27 . Luke 21:26 . Revelation 6:15-17 .) "The day will burn like an oven." Thou shalt behold the world on fire, and feel thou hast lost, thou canst lose, nothing. The "Day of darkness and gloominess" will be to thee a day of unclouded sunshine, the entrance into everlasting joy. (Malachi 4:1-2 . Luke 21:28 . 2 Peter 3:10-13 .)


†1 Job 21:11-13. Psalms 55:19 ; Psalms 73:3-20 . Jeremiah 12:1-3 ; Luke 6:24-25 ; Luke 12:16-21 ; Luke 16:19-24 ; James 5:1-5 ; Examples of Israel — Deuteronomy 32:15-25 ; Jeremiah 22:20-22 . Hosea 13:6-9 ; Amos 6:1-6 ; Babylon. — Isaiah 47:7-9 . Moab. — Jeremiah 48:11-15 . Sodom. — Ezekiel 16:49 . Tyre. — Ezekiel 27:2, Ezekiel 27:25-27 .

†2 Litany.

Bibliographical Information
Bridges, Charles. "Commentary on #REF". Bridges' Commentary on Proverb. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbp/proverbs-1.html. 1846.
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