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Bible Commentaries
Proverbs 9

Dr. Constable's Expository NotesConstable's Expository Notes

Verses 1-18


The Book of Proverbs is a collection of at least seven separate groups of proverbs. There are two groups that Solomon spoke and or wrote (possibly chs. 1-9 and definitely Proverbs 10:1 to Proverbs 22:16).

Verses 1-6

1. Wisdom’s feast 9:1-6

The parallel between wisdom’s invitation and the one Jesus Christ extended to everyone to come to His feast illustrates the connection between wisdom and responding positively to God’s Word (Matthew 22:1-14; Luke 14:15-24). The "seven pillars" (Proverbs 9:1) may represent a typical banquet pavilion, or they may be an allusion to the cosmos (cf. Proverbs 8:22-31) that God made in seven days. Some of the ancients envisioned the world as resting on seven pillars. Possibly the seven pillars refer to seven sections of text in chapters 2-7. [Note: Patrick W. Skehan, Studies in Israelite Poetry and Wisdom, pp. 9-14.] "Seven" to the Jews indicated perfection. Wisdom’s invitation (Proverbs 9:5) sounds like a gospel invitation (cf. John 6:51; John 6:55). The parallel between wisdom and walking in God’s ways (godliness) is again clear in this pericope.

Verses 1-18

C. Wisdom and folly contrasted ch. 9

This chapter contrasts wisdom and folly in a very symmetrical structure. Proverbs 9:1-6 correspond to Proverbs 9:13-18 remarkably. This chiastic form of presentation sets off the central verses (Proverbs 9:7-12) as the most important in the chapter.

Verses 7-12

2. The open or closed mind 9:7-12

People do not usually live or die because of only one decision. They develop a pattern of life that ends in either death or life. This section helps us see the outcome of these styles of life. If a person is open to God and teachable, he will become wise, but if he does not accept this instruction and closes his mind, he becomes a fool.

The person who tries to help a fool by correcting him will get no honor from the fool. The fool’s folly has closed his mind to correction (Proverbs 9:7-8; cf. Matthew 13:12-16). A wise man will continue learning from God all his life (Proverbs 9:9; cf. 2 Peter 3:18). Proverbs 9:10 restates Proverbs 1:7. The wise life equals the righteous life (Proverbs 9:9-11).

"Until we take seriously the wrath of God, we shall not really be solaced by the love of God." [Note: Larsen, p. 93.]

Proverbs 9:12 is a strong statement of individual responsibility. It stresses that the person himself or herself is the ultimate loser or winner in his or her decision to choose wisdom or folly (Proverbs 9:12). [Note: See Rick W. Byargeon, "The Structure and Significance of Proverbs 9:7-12," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 40:3 (September 1997):367-75.]

"Verse 12 reminds us that the Lord wants to build godly character into our lives, and we can’t borrow character from others or give our character to them. This is an individual matter that involves individual decisions. Belonging to a fine family, attending a faithful church, or studying in an excellent school can’t guarantee the building of our character. Character is built on decisions, and bad decisions will create bad character." [Note: Wiersbe, p. 32.]

Verses 13-18

3. Folly’s feast 9:13-18

Proverbs 9:1-6 personify wisdom in the figure of a lady preparing a feast and issuing invitations. Proverbs 9:13-18 personify folly in the guise of a harlot doing the same thing. The contrasts between these sections are full of nuances. Proverbs 9:4; Proverbs 9:16 are almost identical invitations. The end of this book contains another picture of a wise woman (Proverbs 31:10-31).

In view of what God has revealed so far about wisdom, any person can determine just how wise or how foolish he or she may be. This is not a mystery. It has little to do with intelligence but everything to do with commitment. If a person recognizes divine revelation as such and decides to understand it, submits to it, and lives by it the best he can, he is wise. On the other hand, if he rejects God’s Word and decides to live his life with no regard to what God has said, he is a fool.

Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Proverbs 9". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcc/proverbs-9.html. 2012.
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