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Tuesday, May 21st, 2024
the Week of Proper 2 / Ordinary 7
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Bible Commentaries
Proverbs 9

Bridges' Commentary on ProverbsBridges' on Proverbs

Verses 1-6

1 ¶ Wisdom†a hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars: 2 She hath killed her beasts;†b she hath mingled her wine; she hath also furnished her table. {her beasts: Heb. her killing} 3 She hath sent forth her maidens: she crieth upon the highest places of the city, 4 Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him, 5 Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled. 6 Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding.

WE have delighted to contemplate the Divine Savior in his glorious majesty, and specially in his wondrous love to the sons of men. (Proverbs 8:22-31 .) Here his love is poured out before us. The parable of the marriage-feast clearly identifies the speaker. Then the King made the feast, and sent his servants to invite the guests. (Matthew 22:1-4, also Luke 14:16-17 .) Here Wisdom is a Queen, according to Eastern custom, attended by her maidens (Exodus 2:5 . Esther 4:4 ), and she sends them forth to bid to the feast. She hath builded her house — "the church of the living God" — firm upon the pillars of eternal truth. (1 Timothy 3:15 . Ephesians 2:20-22 . Hebrews 3:3-4 . Matthew 16:18 .) The great sacrifice supplies her feast. (1 Corinthians 5:7 . Psalms 36:8 . Isaiah 25:6 .) She hath killed her beasts, mingled her wine with the choicest spices,†1 and plentifully furnished her table. And now she cries to the simple — ignorant of his danger (Proverbs 22:3 ), and easily deceived (Proverbs 14:15 ) — to him that wanteth understanding (Hosea 7:11 ) — who has no apprehension of his need, or desire for the blessing — Let him turn in hither. Here is a feast, not to see, but to enjoy. Come, eat of the bread of life; drink of the wine of gospel grace and joy.†2 Is there not besides a special invitation for her children — a table richly furnished for their refreshment; where they eat of the bread, and drink of the wine, such as "the world know not of"? (Matthew 26:26-28 .)

But are not all comers welcome to the Gospel feast? The Master’s heart flows along with every offer of his grace. His servants are ministers of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:18-20 .) Their message is to tell of the bounty of Messiah’s house, and to bid sinners welcome to Him. Here, sinner, is thy warrant — not thy worthiness, but thy need, and the invitation of thy Lord. All the blessings of his Gospel are set before thee — love without beginning, end, or change. Honour the freeness of his mercy. Let him have the full glory of his own grace, who invites thee to a feast, when he might have frowned thee to hell.†3 Let his heavenly hope be enthroned in the soul, displacing every subordinate object from its hold on thine affections, eclipsing the glories of this present world, absorbing thy whole mind, consecrating thy whole heart.

Here only are the ways of peace. The very severities of the Gospel prepare the way for its consolations. But never can these blessings be valued, till the path of the foolish be forsaken. Thou must forsake either them or Christ. (James 4:4 .) To abide with them, is to "remain in the congregation of the dead." (Proverbs 21:16 .) To forsake them, is the way of life and understanding. (Proverbs 13:20 . Psalms 26:3-6 ; Psalms 34:12-14 ; Psalms 119:115 . Amos 5:15 .) Are they more to you than salvation? To "be the friend of the world is to be the enemy of God." "Come out, and be separate, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive thee, saith the Lord Almighty." (2 Corinthians 6:17-18 .)

Footnotes:

†a Wisdoms. Heb. Compare note on Proverbs 1:20 .

†b Compare Genesis 43:16 Margin.

†1 Bishop Lowth remarks the difference between the Classics and the Hebrews. The one by mingled wine understand wine diluted with water; the other intend wine made stronger by spices, or other exhilarating ingredients. Note on Isaiah 1:22 . Compare Proverbs 23:29-31 . Song of Song of Solomon 8:2 .

†2 Matthew 22:4. Isaiah 55:1 . Compare Bishop Hall’s note.

†3 Calvin speaks of the pleading invitations of Christ, as ’his sweet and more than motherly allurements,’ and beautifully adds — that ’the word of God is never opened to us, but that he with a motherly sweetness opens his own bosom to us.’ On Matthew 23:37 .

Verses 7-9

Wisdom’s messengers must discriminate in the proclamation of their message. If the simple welcome it, the scorner and wicked will rebel. Yet we must distinguish between the ignorant and the willful scorner. Paul "did it ignorantly, in unbelief." (1 Timothy 1:13 .) His countrymen deliberately refused the blessing, and shut themselves out from the free offers of salvation. (Acts 13:45-46, Acts 13:50 ; Acts 18:6 . Matthew 10:14-15 .)

One cannot think of the scorner without compassion. He cannot bear to commune with himself. Under an assumed gaiety, he would envy — as did Colonel Gardiner — the dog his existence. "I hate life’ — said Voltaire — ’yet I am afraid to die.’ Such is the bitterness of soul linked with rebellion against God! Wretched indeed must he be, when the thought of God is an abomination, and when it is necessary to his peace to expunge all idea of him from his creed. (Psalms 14:1 .)

Yet in dealing with him, Solomon here gives us the rule of Christian prudence. The gospel is a thing too holy to be exposed to scoffing fools. (Matthew 7:6 .) Why should we reprove, where more harm than good may be occasioned? Avoid irritations. Await the favorable opportunity. Sometimes a sad, serious, intelligible silence is the most effective reproof. (Amos 5:13 ; Amos 6:10 .) Whereas open rebuke might stir up a torrent of hatred (Proverbs 15:12 ; Proverbs 23:9 . 1 Kings 22:8 . 2 Chronicles 25:16 ) and abuse (Genesis 19:9 . Amos 7:10 . Matthew 7:6 ); and under provocation of spirit, the reprover might get to himself a blot. (Isaiah 29:21 .)

Yet this prudence must not degenerate into cowardice, and compromise the primary obligation boldly to rebuke sin (Ephesians 5:11 . 1 Thessalonians 5:14 . 1 Timothy 5:20 . Matthew 14:3-4 ), and confess our Master. (Matthew 10:32-33 . Acts 4:19-20 .) Every sinner is not a scorner. And a "word spoken in due season, how good is it!" (Proverbs 15:23 .) That false delicacy, therefore, which recoils from an unflinching profession, is treachery to our Lord, and deep — perhaps eternal — injury to our fellow-sinners. Have not each of us a tongue to speak? To suffer any therefore to rush into perdition without opening our mouths to save them, is a sin of omission, which will cause a bitter pang to the awakened conscience.

The wise and just man gladly encourages well-timed reproof. (Proverbs 28:23 .) Conscious of his own failings, he loves his reprover as a friend to his best interest (Leviticus 19:17 . Psalms 141:5 . 1 Samuel 25:33 . 2 Samuel 12:7-14 ); and he would receive instruction from the lowest, as a means of becoming yet wiser, and increasing in learning. (Proverbs 1:5 . Exodus 18:17-24 . Acts 18:26 .)

After all — wisely to give, and humbly to receive, reproof, requires much prayer, self-denial, love, and sincerity. But where the mind of Christ is mutually exhibited, it cements a bond of the warmest affection. (1 Samuel 25:32-42 .) "Faithful are the wounds of a friend." (Proverbs 27:6 .) Happy is that church which receives the loving admonitions of the Christian pastor with humility and thankfulness.†1

Footnotes:

†1 2 Corinthians 2:1-9 . Mr. Martyn — his Biographer observes — ’felt reproof to be ’a duty of unlimited extent and almost insuperable difficulty.’ But, said he, ’the way to know when to address men, and when to abstain, is to love.’ And as love is most genuine, where the heart is most abased, he resolved not to reprove others, when he could conscientiously be silent, except he experienced at the same time a peculiar contrition of spirit.’ — Life, chapter 2.

Verses 10-11

The repetition of this weighty sentence (Proverbs 1:7 . Job 28:28 . Psalms 111:10 ) deepens our estimate of its importance. The fear of the LORD was a lovely grace in the perfect humanity of Jesus. (Isaiah 11:2-3 .) Let it be the test of our "predestination to be conformed to his image." (Romans 8:29 .) It is the genuine spirit of adoption. The child of God has only one dread — to offend his Father; only one desire — to please and delight in him. Thus is the fear of the LORD connected with his love. ’The heart that is touched with the loadstone of Divine love, trembles still with godly fear.’†1 If this temper is the beginning, it is also (as the word imports) the head — of wisdom — not only its first rudiment, but its matured exercise. It is obviously combined with the knowledge of the Holy One.†2 For if men did but know his holiness — "who would not fear thee, O Lord?" (Revelation 15:4 .) Days multiplied were the Old Testament reward. (Proverbs 3:2, Proverbs 3:16 ; Proverbs 4:10 ; Proverbs 10:27 .) And truly the value of life is only realized in the knowledge and service of God. Inconceivably joyous to us is the prospect of years of life increased into a boundless eternity — infinite desires; fully satisfied, yet excited unceasingly to more full and heavenly enjoyment.

Footnotes:

†1 Leighton on 1 Peter 2:17 .

†2 The parallelism with the former clause seems to demand this meaning. The application of the plural number to the sacred name is elsewhere used by Solomon (Proverbs 1:1-20 . Ecclesiastes 12:1 ) as well as by others of the inspired Writers. Genesis 1:26 . Job 35:10 . Isaiah 54:5 . Compare the Hebrew of Hosea 12:1 . Joshua 24:19 . Bishop Horsley remarks — ’God is the only Being, to whom the same name in the singular and in the plural may be indiscriminately applied. And this change from the one number to the other, without any thing in the principles of language to account for it, is frequent in speaking of God in the Hebrew tongue, but unexampled in the case of any other Being.’ Sermon 29 on the Watchers. The reason of this peculiar usage — we may add — is obvious to any one, who receives with implicit and reverential faith the Scriptural revelation of the Divine Essence.

Verse 12

The consequences of our conduct, good or bad, chiefly reflect on ourselves. (Chapter 16:26.) God cannot be profited by us (Job 22:2-3 . Psalms 16:2 . Luke 17:10 ); and he is infinitely above our injury (Job 35:6-7 .) The wise man’s light is a blessing to the Church and to the world. (Matthew 5:14, Matthew 5:16 .) But he is wise for himself — for his own advantage. (Proverbs 3:13-18 ; Proverbs 24:3 . Ecclesiastes 8:1 .) The scorner is a grief to his minister, and a stumbling to his church. But he hurts no one so much as himself. He alone shall bear it. (Proverbs 8:36 . Ezekiel 18:20 . Luke 7:30 .) A surety indeed there is. But his scorning rejects him. He sinks therefore into perdition under a millstone of guilt without remedy. (Proverbs 29:1 . Hebrews 10:28-29 . Leviticus 24:15 .) This then is the ordinance of God. "Every man shall bear his own burden. Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap:" life or death — a double harvest — for time and for eternity. (Galatians 6:5, Galatians 6:7-8 .)

Verses 13-18

Wisdoms free and gracious invitation has been before us. And we might almost ask — who could resist it? Now we have an allurement from the opposite quarter. For sin is no less earnest to destroy, than wisdom is to save. The distinct character of folly here alluded to, may be gathered from the pictures formerly given. (Proverbs 2. 5. 7.) Fleshly lusts are in open opposition to Divine wisdom. ’The delight of the soul fixed on anything but God and his grace, is but spiritual adultery.’†1 The woman of foolishness is clamorous (Proverbs 7:11 ), and, though "subtle in heart" (Proverbs 7:10 ) in the devices of Satan, she is simplicity itself in her utter ignorance of right. So fearfully do sensual pleasures darken the understanding, that the tempter, from the very habit of deceiving, becomes the victim of her own delusion! (Hosea 4:11 . 2 Timothy 3:13 .) With a shameless front she dares to present herself in the highest places of the city (Genesis 38:14, Genesis 38:21 . Jeremiah 3:2-3 . Ezekiel 16:24-25, Ezekiel 16:31 ), alluring, not only those who are "going the way to her house" (Proverbs 7:8 ), but the inexperienced who are going right on their ways. Thus even the highway of God, though a path of safety (Proverbs 10:9 ), is beset with temptation. Satan is so angry with none as with those, who are going right on. When Israel was in the straight path, quickly did he turn them aside by the golden calf. (Exodus 24:7, with Exodus 32.) And now enticements or assaults wait on every step. The temptation to open sin would be revolting. But must you give up all your pleasures? May not some stolen waters (Proverbs 5:15-17 . 2 Samuel 11:2 ), some secret indulgences (Proverbs 20:17 . Job 20:12-14 ), be allowed? Ah! Sinner — there is no such thing as secret sin. All is naked and open as day before the eye of God. (Job 24:15 ; Job 34:21-22 .) All will soon be proclaimed before the assembled world. (Luke 12:1-2 .) But the strength of this temptation is, that they are forbidden pleasures. (Genesis 3:1-6 .) Restraint provokes the dormant power of sin;†2 as children will do that which is forbidden, because it is forbidden. But what will be the end? Satan shows only the sparkling cup, and the glaring light. Ask to look into the inner chamber. The blinded fool hath willfully closed his eyes (Proverbs 7:22 . Isaiah 1:3 . 2 Peter 3:5 ); else might he know that the dead are there; and that her guests — the willful despisers of wisdom, are in the very depths of hell. (Proverbs 2:18 ; Proverbs 7:27 .)

Reader — the wisdom of God, and the great deceiver of man — stand before you. Both are wooing thine heart; the one for life — the other for death. Both are intensely anxious for success. Wisdom crieth. The foolish woman is clamorous. (Proverbs 9:3 with Proverbs 9:13 .) Both take their station in the high places of the city. (Proverbs 9:3 with Proverbs 9:15 .) Both spread out their feast for the simple and ignorant (Proverbs 9:4 with Proverbs 9:16 ), smiling and happy on the brink of ruin. But how opposite their end? The one makes the simple wise unto eternal life. The other bears away her willing captive into unutterable misery. Which voice arrests thine ear, and allures thine heart? Which feast excites thine appetite? Whose guest art thou? Wilt thou not open thine eyes to the infatuation and pollution of this house of horror and death? Oh! remember that every listening to the enticement rivets thy chain, rejoices thy grand enemy, cheats thee out of thy present, no less than of thine eternal, happiness, and will banish thee for ever from the paradise reopened as thy home. Thou mayest sink into the grave and perish. But it will be with the Savior’s voice crying in thine ears, "How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity?" (Proverbs 1:22 .) The voice of mercy now warns thee against estranging thyself from thy God. But mercy is limited to time. Then justice, without mercy, will hold the scales with relentless severity, and the sentence of condemnation will bind thee in the lost and blasted kingdom of eternal death. What then is our heart’s desire and prayer, but the free grace and love of the Gospel may draw and fix thine heart; and that the Lord may preserve thee from the tempter’s snare, by keeping thee closely walking with himself.

Footnotes:

†1 Diodati.

†2 Romans 7:8. 1 Corinthians 15:56 . See Augustine’s description of his robbing the pear-tree — not for the gain of the fruit (the greater part of which he threw away), but for the mere pleasure of sin as sin — a breaking God’s law. Truly affecting also is it to see him, like the Psalmist (Psalms 51:5 ) tracing the sin to its root — ’Behold my heart, O Lord, behold my heart, which thou hadst pity upon in the very bottom of the bottomless pit!’ — Confess. iii. 4, 6.

’Nitimur in vetitum semper, cupimusque negata:

Sic interdictis imminet æger aquis.

Quidquid servatur, cupimus magis, ipsaque furem

Cura vocat, pauci, quod sinet alter, amant.’ — Ovid.

Bibliographical Information
Bridges, Charles. "Commentary on #REF". Bridges' Commentary on Proverb. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbp/proverbs-9.html. 1846.
 
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