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Bible Commentaries

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures

Proverbs 22

Verses 1-16

Indoctrination: Solomon’s First Collection of Proverbs (Synthetic) - On our journey in chapters 10-15, we have learned to make wise choices and to avoid foolish decisions. In chapter 16, we begin to see that God's purpose and plan in our lives is bigger than just daily decision-making. This section of Proverbs (Proverbs 16:1 to Proverbs 22:16) reveals the divine intervention of God on this journey in life. We must now learn that God has an all-inclusive divine plan for all of his creation, for all of mankind, and a plan for you and me in particular. We must learn not only to make a wise decision, but we must evaluate this decision in light of God's divine plan for our lives. It is only by God’s divine intervention in our daily lives that we will be able to stay on the path that leads to eternal rest. God will intervene in order to keep our life balanced so that we will not stray in any one direction to far. Therefore, the journey becomes narrower and choices must be made more carefully.

Proverbs 10-15 have given us one-verse sayings that are clearly antithetical. That is, the first part of the verse contrasts with the second part. However, beginning in Proverbs 16:1 to Proverbs 22:16, we see a different type of proverb. In this next section of the book of Proverbs the one-verse says have two parts that complement one another. That is, the second phrase amplifies, or further explains, the first phrase, rather than contrast its counterpart. This means that the training is getting a little more intensive. This new section requires more contemplation that the previous section. Rather than contrasting the difference between the wise man and the fool, we begin to learn the consequences of our decisions, whether wise or foolish. We now move from identifying the wise and the fool (Proverbs 10:1 thru Proverbs 15:33) into learning the lasting effects that wisdom and foolishness have in our lives (Proverbs 16:1 thru Proverbs 22:16). We must learn that we will always reap the consequences of our behavior. This is the process of indoctrination that is a vital part of our spiritual journey.

As we look for signposts within this passage that confirm this theme, we find them in Proverbs 16:6 and Proverbs 19:23, which tell us that the fear of the Lord brings forgiveness of our sins and it delivers us from the visitation of evil that judges the wicked.

Proverbs 16:6, “By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil.”

Proverbs 19:23, “ The fear of the LORD tendeth to life: and he that hath it shall abide satisfied; he shall not be visited with evil.”

It is interesting to note that the opening chapter of this lengthy passage begins with the theme of the sovereignty of God. This passage is place at this place on our journey in order that we might learn that God's ways always prevail over man's ways and that we must always reap what we sow.

Therefore, the truths in Proverbs 16:1 to Proverbs 22:16 are a little deeper in meaning that the previous section of Proverbs 10:1 to Proverbs 15:33. On our journey in Proverbs 10-15, we have seen how a man can make choices that will identify his character. Now, beginning in chapter 16, we take a deeper lesson in life in order to see a bigger picture. Although the outcome in life rests upon our daily choices, we must learn that God intervenes in our lives in order to include us into His divine plan for all of His creation, and for all of mankind. This means that God has a plan for you and me in particular.

Then, we see a signpost at Proverbs 22:4 as an indication that this phase of learning is ending. Note:

Proverbs 22:4, “By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, and honour, and life.”

Therefore, Proverbs 22:4 does not describe the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 1:1 thru Proverbs 9:18), nor the instruction of wisdom (Proverbs 10:1 thru Proverbs 15:33), but rather the effects of applying wisdom to our lives. That is, wisdom brings to us the full rewards of riches, honour and life.

Verses 1-16

Indoctrination: Solomon’s First Collection of Proverbs (Synthetic) - On our journey in chapters 10-15, we have learned to make wise choices and to avoid foolish decisions. In chapter 16, we begin to see that God's purpose and plan in our lives is bigger than just daily decision-making. This section of Proverbs (Proverbs 16:1 to Proverbs 22:16) reveals the divine intervention of God on this journey in life. We must now learn that God has an all-inclusive divine plan for all of his creation, for all of mankind, and a plan for you and me in particular. We must learn not only to make a wise decision, but we must evaluate this decision in light of God's divine plan for our lives. It is only by God’s divine intervention in our daily lives that we will be able to stay on the path that leads to eternal rest. God will intervene in order to keep our life balanced so that we will not stray in any one direction to far. Therefore, the journey becomes narrower and choices must be made more carefully.

Proverbs 10-15 have given us one-verse sayings that are clearly antithetical. That is, the first part of the verse contrasts with the second part. However, beginning in Proverbs 16:1 to Proverbs 22:16, we see a different type of proverb. In this next section of the book of Proverbs the one-verse says have two parts that complement one another. That is, the second phrase amplifies, or further explains, the first phrase, rather than contrast its counterpart. This means that the training is getting a little more intensive. This new section requires more contemplation that the previous section. Rather than contrasting the difference between the wise man and the fool, we begin to learn the consequences of our decisions, whether wise or foolish. We now move from identifying the wise and the fool (Proverbs 10:1 thru Proverbs 15:33) into learning the lasting effects that wisdom and foolishness have in our lives (Proverbs 16:1 thru Proverbs 22:16). We must learn that we will always reap the consequences of our behavior. This is the process of indoctrination that is a vital part of our spiritual journey.

As we look for signposts within this passage that confirm this theme, we find them in Proverbs 16:6 and Proverbs 19:23, which tell us that the fear of the Lord brings forgiveness of our sins and it delivers us from the visitation of evil that judges the wicked.

Proverbs 16:6, “By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil.”

Proverbs 19:23, “ The fear of the LORD tendeth to life: and he that hath it shall abide satisfied; he shall not be visited with evil.”

It is interesting to note that the opening chapter of this lengthy passage begins with the theme of the sovereignty of God. This passage is place at this place on our journey in order that we might learn that God's ways always prevail over man's ways and that we must always reap what we sow.

Therefore, the truths in Proverbs 16:1 to Proverbs 22:16 are a little deeper in meaning that the previous section of Proverbs 10:1 to Proverbs 15:33. On our journey in Proverbs 10-15, we have seen how a man can make choices that will identify his character. Now, beginning in chapter 16, we take a deeper lesson in life in order to see a bigger picture. Although the outcome in life rests upon our daily choices, we must learn that God intervenes in our lives in order to include us into His divine plan for all of His creation, and for all of mankind. This means that God has a plan for you and me in particular.

Then, we see a signpost at Proverbs 22:4 as an indication that this phase of learning is ending. Note:

Proverbs 22:4, “By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, and honour, and life.”

Therefore, Proverbs 22:4 does not describe the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 1:1 thru Proverbs 9:18), nor the instruction of wisdom (Proverbs 10:1 thru Proverbs 15:33), but rather the effects of applying wisdom to our lives. That is, wisdom brings to us the full rewards of riches, honour and life.

Verses 1-16

Indoctrination: Solomon’s First Collection of Proverbs (Synthetic) - On our journey in chapters 10-15, we have learned to make wise choices and to avoid foolish decisions. In chapter 16, we begin to see that God's purpose and plan in our lives is bigger than just daily decision-making. This section of Proverbs (Proverbs 16:1 to Proverbs 22:16) reveals the divine intervention of God on this journey in life. We must now learn that God has an all-inclusive divine plan for all of his creation, for all of mankind, and a plan for you and me in particular. We must learn not only to make a wise decision, but we must evaluate this decision in light of God's divine plan for our lives. It is only by God’s divine intervention in our daily lives that we will be able to stay on the path that leads to eternal rest. God will intervene in order to keep our life balanced so that we will not stray in any one direction to far. Therefore, the journey becomes narrower and choices must be made more carefully.

Proverbs 10-15 have given us one-verse sayings that are clearly antithetical. That is, the first part of the verse contrasts with the second part. However, beginning in Proverbs 16:1 to Proverbs 22:16, we see a different type of proverb. In this next section of the book of Proverbs the one-verse says have two parts that complement one another. That is, the second phrase amplifies, or further explains, the first phrase, rather than contrast its counterpart. This means that the training is getting a little more intensive. This new section requires more contemplation that the previous section. Rather than contrasting the difference between the wise man and the fool, we begin to learn the consequences of our decisions, whether wise or foolish. We now move from identifying the wise and the fool (Proverbs 10:1 thru Proverbs 15:33) into learning the lasting effects that wisdom and foolishness have in our lives (Proverbs 16:1 thru Proverbs 22:16). We must learn that we will always reap the consequences of our behavior. This is the process of indoctrination that is a vital part of our spiritual journey.

As we look for signposts within this passage that confirm this theme, we find them in Proverbs 16:6 and Proverbs 19:23, which tell us that the fear of the Lord brings forgiveness of our sins and it delivers us from the visitation of evil that judges the wicked.

Proverbs 16:6, “By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil.”

Proverbs 19:23, “ The fear of the LORD tendeth to life: and he that hath it shall abide satisfied; he shall not be visited with evil.”

It is interesting to note that the opening chapter of this lengthy passage begins with the theme of the sovereignty of God. This passage is place at this place on our journey in order that we might learn that God's ways always prevail over man's ways and that we must always reap what we sow.

Therefore, the truths in Proverbs 16:1 to Proverbs 22:16 are a little deeper in meaning that the previous section of Proverbs 10:1 to Proverbs 15:33. On our journey in Proverbs 10-15, we have seen how a man can make choices that will identify his character. Now, beginning in chapter 16, we take a deeper lesson in life in order to see a bigger picture. Although the outcome in life rests upon our daily choices, we must learn that God intervenes in our lives in order to include us into His divine plan for all of His creation, and for all of mankind. This means that God has a plan for you and me in particular.

Then, we see a signpost at Proverbs 22:4 as an indication that this phase of learning is ending. Note:

Proverbs 22:4, “By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, and honour, and life.”

Therefore, Proverbs 22:4 does not describe the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 1:1 thru Proverbs 9:18), nor the instruction of wisdom (Proverbs 10:1 thru Proverbs 15:33), but rather the effects of applying wisdom to our lives. That is, wisdom brings to us the full rewards of riches, honour and life.

Verses 1-29

Justification: The Journey to a Place of Rest (Proverbs 10:1 to Proverbs 29:27 ) In Proverbs 10-29 we find a new emphasis regarding our spiritual journey in life. We have heard the call of wisdom in the first nine chapters. Now we have to make the choice to follow the path of wisdom, or the path of the fool. It is our decision to pursue wisdom that will justify us before God. Thus, the underlying theme of Proverbs 10-29 is our justification before God the Father, while the final chapter brings us to a place of rest, which is the destination for man’s spiritual journey in life.

Throughout Proverbs 10-29 we encounter hundreds of individual proverbs that appear to have no organized arrangement in which they are presented us. This is because in the journey of life, our encounters with the wise man and the fool appear to come in the same random order. However, God has placed all things in His divine order. When we read individual proverbs, they appear to be randomly assembled, but if we will step back and look at them as a whole or in groups, we can see an order. These proverbs are clearly grouped together by themes, such as a pure heart, the tongue, a long life, and wealth. In the same way, the circumstances that we face in our daily lives appear to have no particular order. We see very little of God’s hand in our lives in a single day, but when we step back and look as our lives over the months or years, we very clearly see God’s sovereign hand at working in our lives. We recognize that He is divinely orchestrating His purpose and plan for our lives. This is the way that the verses in the book of Proverbs are arranged.

We have seen that Proverbs 1-9, about one third of the book, is man’s call to follow the path of wisdom. Thus, about one third of the book of Proverbs is an introduction, or a preparation, for the rest of this book. Why is that so? We know that Solomon was chosen to be the successor to the throne at his birth. Therefore, he received many years of training under King David for this great task. Even today, we spent the first twenty years of our lives going to school and training for a profession, which is about one third of our lives. We spend the next two thirds of our lives building upon these twenty years of preparation. In our lives, we spend the first twenty years in preparation, the next twenty years sowing, and the last twenty years reaping what we have sown. This is why these years seem to be turning points in many people's lives. This was the pattern in King Solomon's life of preparation and growing in wisdom, and this is the pattern found in the book of Proverbs. It is important to note that a season of preparation is something that God has designed and instituted in the human life. He created every human being with the capacity to be shaped and molded through a training process. We often use the term “brainwashing” in a negative sense to refer to a person who has been programmed to think in a negative way; but proper training also reprograms the mind and prepares an individual for the tasks of life. Our human make-up of the spirit, soul, and body were designed to receive training before practical application and abundant living can be achieved.

Although we will study these proverbs, we will find ourselves falling short of fulfilling them in our everyday lives. None of us has walked flawlessly in obedience to any single proverb. Therefore, each individual proverb reveals God’s standard of righteousness, pointing us to Jesus, who alone fulfilled this divine standard in our behalf. In this sense, this collection of proverbs is a collection of redemptive proverbs, revealing our need for a Redeemer, who alone fulfilled every proverb.

Outline Here is a proposed outline:

1. Justification: Solomon’s First Collection Proverbs 10:1 to Proverbs 22:16

2. Divine Service: Sayings of the Wise Proverbs 22:17 to Proverbs 24:34

Verses 17-21

Prologue to the Thirty Sayings of the Wise (Ode or Decastitch) - I see in Proverbs 22:17-21 ten lines joined to make a single proverbial thought. Therefore, this ode could also be called a decastitch. These verses serve as a prologue, or introduction, to a collection of thirty wise sayings.

This passage reveals a series of progressive events that show how to apply God’s Word to our lives. We first humble our hearts and pay close attention to His Word using our ears (Proverbs 22:17 a). We then make the effort to understand its meaning by mediated upon these words (Proverbs 22:17 b). Meditation causes us to retain these words within our hearts as we understand them and embrace them (Proverbs 22:18 a). Then our normal response is to speak out of our lips what is in our hearts (Proverbs 22:18 b). Such involvement with God’s Word causes a trust to be developed in each area of our lives where we apply the Word (Proverbs 22:19 a).

Proverbs 22:17 Bow down thine ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply thine heart unto my knowledge.

Proverbs 22:17 Comments - Regarding the phrase, “of the wise,” the noun is plural, thus reading “of the wise (ones).”

Proverbs 22:18 For it is a pleasant thing if thou keep them within thee; they shall withal be fitted in thy lips.

Proverbs 22:18 Comments - Whatever we hide within our heart will soon make its way to our lips. This is how God created us.

Proverbs 22:19 That thy trust may be in the LORD, I have made known to thee this day, even to thee.

Proverbs 22:20 Have not I written to thee excellent things in counsels and knowledge,

Proverbs 22:20 Word Study on “excellent things” Gesenius says the Hebrew word “excellent things” ( שָׁלִישׁ ) (H7991) carries three meanings: (1) “a third, a measure of corn, probably the third part of an ephah.” He says it is “used generally of a measure,” (Psalms 80:6), which means, “abundantly,” t hus, the KJV translation, “measure, great measure,” (2) “a triangle, an instrument of music,” (1 Samuel 18:6) thus, the KJV translation, “instrument of musick,” (3) “a third man, a noble rank of soldiers who fought from chariots,” thus the KJV translation, “captain, lord, prince.” Roland E. Murphy says this meaning is used metaphorically to mean, “excellent things,” thus, the KJV translation, “excellent thing.” [124] Strong says it literally means, “a triple,” and is derived the Hebrew word ( שָׁלוֹשׁ ) (H7969), which means, “three.” The Enhanced Strong says t his word is used twenty times in the Old Testament, being translated in the KJV as, “ captain 11, lord 4, instrument of musick 1, great measure 1, excellent thing 1, measure 1, prince 1.”

[124] Roland E. Murphy, Proverbs, in Word Biblical Commentary, vol. 22 (Dallas: Word, Inc., 2002), in Libronix Digital Library System, v. 2.1c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp., 2000-2004), 168.

The LXX uses the Greek word τρισσῶς (literally “three times) [125] which is figuratively translated into English as “repeatedly.”

[125] Roland E. Murphy, Proverbs, in Word Biblical Commentary, vol. 22 (Dallas: Word, Inc., 2002), in Libronix Digital Library System, v. 2.1c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp., 2000-2004), 168; see also Henry G. Liddell and Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon Based on the German Work of Francis Passow (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1846), comments on “ τρισσ ῶ ς .”

AB, “And record them repeatedly for yourself on the table of your heart, for counsel and knowledge.”

Brenton, “ And do thou too repeatedly record them for thyself on the table of thine heart, for counsel and knowledge.”

Some English literal translations read, “three, third.”

DRC, “Behold I have described it to thee three manner of ways, in thoughts and knowledge:”

LITV, “Have I not written to you the third time with counsels and knowledge,”

YLT, “Have I not written to thee three times With counsels and knowledge?”

The most widely accepted translation reads, “thirty.”

BBE, “Have I not put in writing for you thirty sayings, with wise suggestions and knowledge,”

ESV, “Have I not written for you thirty sayings of counsel and knowledge,”

GNB, “I have written down thirty sayings for you. They contain knowledge and good advice,”

HNV, “ Haven't I written to you thirty excellent things Of counsel and knowledge,”

NIV, “Have I not written thirty sayings for you, sayings of counsel and knowledge,”

NAB, “Have I not written for you the “Thirty,” with counsels and knowledge,”

NASB, “Have I not written to you excellent things Of counsels and knowledge,”

NCV, “I have written thirty sayings for you, which give knowledge and good advice.”

NET, “Have I not written thirty sayings for you, sayings of counsel and knowledge,”

NLT, “I have written thirty sayings for you, which give knowledge and good advice.”

NRSV, “Have I not written for you thirty sayings of admonition and knowledge,”

Some English translations carry the meaning, “excellent.”

ACV, “Have I not written to thee excellent things of counsels and knowledge,”

AmpBible, “Have I not written to you [long ago] excellent things in counsels and knowledge.”

ASV, “Have not I written unto thee excellent things Of counsels and knowledge,”

Darby, “Have not I written to thee excellent things, in counsels and knowledge,”

JPS, “Have not I written unto thee excellent things of counsels and knowledge;”

KJV, “Have not I written to thee excellent things in counsels and knowledge,”

Rotherham, “Have I not written for thee noble things, with counsels and knowledge:”

WEB, “Haven't I written to you excellent things Of counsel and knowledge,”

Webster Bible, “Have not I written to thee excellent things in counsels and knowledge,”

This word can also be translated, “formerly, previously.”

God’sWord, “Didn't I write to you previously with advice and knowledge”

Proverbs 22:21 That I might make thee know the certainty of the words of truth; that thou mightest answer the words of truth to them that send unto thee?

Proverbs 22:21 Comments - We see in Proverbs 22:21 a possible reference to the fact that Solomon sent a delegation of men to seek out wise men of other nations. The YLT reads, “To cause thee to know the certainty of sayings of truth, To return sayings of truth to those sending thee .” It implies that Solomon sent a delegate to a faraway city in his search for wisdom; for we read in Ecclesiastes 12:9 that Solomon “sought out” proverbs.

Ecclesiastes 12:9, “And moreover, because the preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yea, he gave good heed, and sought out, and set in order many proverbs.”

The wise men of this place compiled thirty of their most important proverbs and sent them back to King Solomon with a cover letter using the words found in Proverbs 22:17-21, which also serves as a prologue to these sayings. They gave this delegate a collection of sayings of truth for those who sent him. It appears that King Solomon honored these proverbs by keeping them with his other collection of proverbs. This is how they were placed within the Proverbs of Solomon.

This, however, does not take away from the inspiration of the Scriptures, because divine wisdom is universal, being found in many other people besides the Israelites. Job is an example of this.

Regarding its application to our spiritual journey, we see how God will pick a point in time when He finds us faithful to entrust to us a greater calling. In Proverbs 22:21 we see how Solomon chose one or more of his faithful servants and sent them to gather divine wisdom outside of his kingdom. It is a time when God calls us and anoints us for a particular task. For example, Paul was called to the nations in Acts 9:15 when Ananias prophesied that, “he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel.” But it was many years later when Paul was sent out with Barnabas and anointed in the office of an apostle to the Gentiles in Acts 13:1-4. If we will be faithful and continue in what God has given to us, we, too, will find a greater calling and anointing to serve. This is a place of maturity that God is trying to get each of us to obtain.

Verses 17-29

Divine Service: The Words of the Wise (Two Collections) In Proverbs 22:17 to Proverbs 24:34 we have a collection of sayings that is often called “The Words of the Wise.” Scholars give it this title because there are indications from Proverbs 22:21 that King Solomon sent young men to seek out the wisdom of Egypt and of the East. There are two collections of sayings in this section. The first collection is made up of thirty sayings (Proverbs 22:17 to Proverbs 24:22) and the second collection is short, consisting of only four sayings (Proverbs 24:23-34). We know that Solomon identified two sources of wisdom outside of Israel, which were the East and Egypt; for we read in 1 Kings 4:30, “And Solomon's wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt.” We know that the first collection of sayings has similarities with ancient Egyptian wisdom. Thus, it most likely originated from Egypt. We can then suggest that the second, but shorter, collection of sayings (Proverbs 24:23-34) either came from Egypt as miscellaneous wisdom, or it may have been that wisdom which Solomon collected from the East.

We see in one verse in this section (Proverbs 22:21) that serves as a possible reference to the fact that Solomon sent a delegation of men to seek out wise men of other nations. The YLT reads, “To cause thee to know the certainty of sayings of truth, To return sayings of truth to those sending thee .” (Proverbs 22:21) It implies that Solomon sent a delegate to a faraway city in his search for wisdom; for we read in Ecclesiastes 12:9 that Solomon “sought out” proverbs.

Ecclesiastes 12:9, “And moreover, because the preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yea, he gave good heed, and sought out, and set in order many proverbs.”

In other words, some of the young men that were trained in his court were selected, or called out, to go to other nations and seek divine wisdom. These would have been men who had learned Solomon’s proverbs well and applied them to their lives. In addition, these men may have carried a collection of Solomon’s proverbs as a gift to these wise men of Egypt and the East.

The wise men of this place may have compiled thirty of their most important proverbs and sent them back to King Solomon with a cover letter using the words found in Proverbs 22:17-21, which also serves as a prologue to these sayings. They gave Solomon’s delegate a collection of sayings of truth for those who sent him. It appears that King Solomon honored these proverbs by keeping them with his other collection of proverbs. This is how they were placed within the Proverbs of Solomon. However, we must assume that King Solomon would not have sought something from lesser kings without offering to them a greater gift, perhaps his collection of divine sayings. Thus, those who were sent out probably took the message of the God of Israel with them to evangelize the civilized world as a part of their calling.

Regarding its application to our spiritual journey, we see how God will pick a point in time when He finds us faithful to entrust to us a greater calling. In Proverbs 22:21 we see how Solomon chose one or more of his faithful servants and sent them to gather divine wisdom outside of his kingdom. It is a time when God calls us and anoints us for a particular task. For example, Paul was called to the nations in Acts 9:15 when Ananias prophesied that, “he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel.” But it was many years later when Paul was sent out with Barnabas and anointed in the office of an apostle to the Gentiles in Acts 13:1-4. If we will be faithful and continue in what God has given to us, we, too, will find a greater calling and anointing to serve. This is a place of maturity that God is trying to get each of us to obtain.

The number “thirty” symbolized manhood and maturity in ancient times. Thus, these thirty sayings of the wise may serve to symbolize a Christian’s spiritual maturity; for it is only those mature in Christ who are appointed to Christian service; so, the thirty sayings contained within this passage of Scripture may represent our journey towards maturity. In other words, when we adopt these thirty sayings to our life, we will have developed a mature behaviour and be ready for our assignment and calling in Christian service.

This section of proverbs is characteristics by having lengthy sayings of two or more verses, which build upon a theme. The training becomes more intensive as we apply ourselves to learning the ways of wisdom. Therefore, we must apply more contemplation in order to understand these truths. However, as in our secular education, our past learning will serve as a foundation to understanding the more difficult issues of life. These sayings can be divided into two groups.

Outline Here is a proposed outline:

1. First Collection (Thirty Sayings of the Wise) Proverbs 22:17 to Proverbs 24:22

2. Second Collection (Four Sayings) Proverbs 24:23-34

Proverbs 22:17 to Proverbs 24:22 The Words of the Wise: First Collection (Thirty Sayings) Proverbs 22:17 to Proverbs 24:22 begins a new section of collections, often called The Words of the Wise. It is possible that these sayings were collected by Solomon from outside his kingdom. We know that Solomon identified two sources of wisdom outside of Israel, which were the East and Egypt; for we read in 1 Kings 4:30, “And Solomon's wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt.”

We know that the first collection of sayings has similarities with ancient Egyptian wisdom. Thus, it most likely originated from Egypt. We can then suggest that the second, but shorter, collection of sayings (Proverbs 24:23-34) either came from Egypt as miscellaneous wisdom, or it may have been that wisdom which Solomon collected from the East.

This first collection of “Sayings of the Wise” is characterized by individual truths that come in groups of two or more verses. The training becomes more intensive as we apply ourselves to learning the ways of wisdom. Therefore, we must apply more contemplation in order to understand these truths. As in our secular education, our past learning will serve as a foundation to understanding the more difficult issues of life.

The signposts found in the sayings of the wise (Proverbs 22:17 to Proverbs 24:34) and in Solomon’s second collection (25-29) tell us to continue in the fear of the Lord, to honor those in authority over us, and this will bring happiness into our lives as we continue on this journey. Note:

Proverbs 23:17, “Let not thine heart envy sinners: but be thou in the fear of the LORD all the day long.”

Proverbs 24:21, “My son, fear thou the LORD and the king: and meddle not with them that are given to change:”

Proverbs 28:14, “Happy is the man that feareth alway : but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief.”

Here is a proposed outline:

a) Prologue (Ode or Decastitch) Proverbs 22:17-21

b) First Saying( Tetrastitch) Proverbs 22:22-23

c) Second Saying (Tetrastitch) Proverbs 22:24-25

d) Third Saying (Tetrastitch) Proverbs 22:26-27

e) Fourth Saying (Distitch) Proverbs 22:28

f) Fifth Saying (Tristitch) Proverbs 22:29

g) Sixth Saying (Hexastitch) Proverbs 23:1-3

h) Seventh Saying (Pentastitch) Proverbs 23:4-5

i) Eighth Saying (Heptastitch) Proverbs 23:6-8

j) Ninth Saying (Distitch) Proverbs 23:9

k) Tenth Saying (Tetrastitch) Proverbs 23:10-11

l) Eleventh Saying (Hexastitch) Proverbs 23:12-14

m) Twelfth Saying (Tetrastitch) Proverbs 23:15-16

n) Thirteenth Saying (Tetrastitch) Proverbs 23:17-18

o) Fourteenth Saying (Hexastitch) Proverbs 23:19-21

p) Fifteenth Saying (Octastitch) Proverbs 23:22-25

q) Sixteenth Saying (Hexastitch) Proverbs 23:26-28

r) Seventeenth Saying (An Ode) Proverbs 23:29-35

s) Eighteenth Saying (Tetrastitch) Proverbs 24:1-2

t) Nineteenth Saying (Tristitch) Proverbs 24:3-4

u) Twentieth Saying (Tetrastitch) Proverbs 24:5-6

v) Twenty-First Saying (Distitch) Proverbs 24:7

w) Twenty-Second Saying (Distitch) Proverbs 24:8

x) Twenty-Third Saying (Distitch) Proverbs 24:9

y) Twenty-Fourth Saying (Distitch) Proverbs 24:10

z) Twenty-Fifth Saying (Hexastitch) Proverbs 24:11-12

aa) Twenty-Sixth Saying (Pentastitch) Proverbs 24:13-14

bb) Twenty-Seventh Saying (Tetrastitch) Proverbs 24:15-16

cc) Twenty-Eighth Saying (Tetrastitch) Proverbs 24:17-18

dd) Twenty-Ninth Saying (Tetrastitch) Proverbs 24:19-20

ee) Thirtieth Saying (Tetrastitch) Proverbs 24:21-22

The Thirty Sayings - Some scholars translate Proverbs 22:20 to read “thirty sayings” instead of “excellent things,” and it is easy to find thirty individual proverbs in this section of literature.

BBE, “Have I not put in writing for you thirty sayings, with wise suggestions and knowledge,” (Proverbs 22:20)

It is possible that Solomon gathered these sayings outside the nation of Israel, perhaps in Egypt. When we compare some of these sayings with an Egyptian writing entitled The Instruction of Amenemope, written about 1200 to 1300 B.C. and made up of thirty chapters, we find that this ancient writing has a few proverbs that are similar to the proverbs in this passage of Scripture. [121]

[121] Miriam Lichtheim, The Instruction of Amenemope, in Ancient Egyptian literature: Volume II: The New Kingdom (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1973-[80]), in Libronix Digital Library System, v. 2.1c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp., 2000-2004).

Example One:

Proverbs 22:17-18 a, “Direct your ear and hear wise words. Set your heart to know them. For it is pleasant if you keep them in your inmost self.”

Amenemope Proverbs 3:10, “Give your ears and hear what is said, give your mind over to their interpretation: It is profitable to put them in your heart.

Example Two:

Proverbs 22:20, “Have I not written for you thirty counsels and teachings to teach you what is right and true?”

Amenemope Proverbs 27:7, “Mark for your self these thirty chapters: They please, they instruct, they are the foremost of all books.”

Example Three:

Proverbs 22:24, “Do not make friends with people prone to anger. With the hotheaded person do not associate.”

Amenemope Proverbs 11:12, “Do not fraternize with the hot-tempered man, nor approach him to converse.”

Example Four:

Proverbs 23:1-2, “When you sit down to eat with a ruler, observe what is before you. Put a knife to your throat if you have a big appetite.”

Amenemope Proverbs 23:16, “Look at the cup in front of you, and let it suffice your need.”

Thus, it was possible that Solomon was exposed to other ancient literature, and actually read this ancient piece of wisdom literature. One verse in the Scriptures that refers to this exposure is found in 1 Kings 4:30. It mentions that there were wise men in the east and in Egypt.

1 Kings 4:30, “And Solomon's wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt.”

We see in Ecclesiastes 12:9 that Solomon sought out wisdom, which meant that he could have looked far and wise for wisdom literature.

Ecclesiastes 12:9, “And moreover, because the preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yea, he gave good heed, and sought out , and set in order many proverbs.”

We see a possible reference to the fact that Solomon sent a delegation of men to seek out wise men of other nations in Proverbs 22:21. Thus, a group of Egyptian wise men many have compile a collection of thirty sayings that were most popular among themselves.

Proverbs 22:21, “That I might make thee know the certainty of the words of truth; that thou mightest answer the words of truth to them that send unto thee? ”

This, however, does not take away from the inspiration of the Scriptures, because divine wisdom is universal, being found in many other people besides the Israelites. Job is an example of this.

The theme of universal wisdom given from God to mankind is found in the book of Romans:

Romans 1:19-20, “Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:”

Romans 2:14-15, “For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)”

The Significance of the Number “Thirty” We ponder the question of why there were thirty sayings. We have seen that an ancient Egyptian piece of wisdom literature entitle The Instruction of Amenemope was made up of thirty chapters. In this ancient document, there is also a reference to the “council of the thirty.” [122] The importance of the number thirty can be found in other parts of Egyptian antiquity. It shows up in an ancient board game named “Senet,” which was “the best known and most widely popularized board game from ancient Egypt. Based upon a 3x10 board of thirty squares, it consisted of a race game played with knucklebones that could be engaged between two players or, as some temple drawings suggest, by a single player.” “The game itself symbolized the path of the dead through the underworld. ‘I must enter the Hall of the thirty and I become God at the 31,’ says one papyrus.” [123]

[122] Mirian Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature: vol. II: The New Kingdom (Berkeley, California: University of California Press, 1973), chapter 19, in Libronix Digital Library System, v. 2.1c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp., 2000-2004).

[123] Ricardo Calvo, “Chapter 2: Mystical numerology in Egypt and Mesopotamia,” in The Origins of Chess: Mystical Numerology in Egypt and Mesopotamia, [on-line]; accessed on 7 June 2009; available from http://www.goddesschess.com/chessays/calvonumerology.html; Internet; see also Wolfgang Decker, Sports and Games of Ancient Egypt (London: Yale University Press, 1992), 124.

Even within the Hebrew culture, the age of thirty was significant in that it marked the maturity of adulthood. We find Joseph being appointed to lead the nation of Egypt at the age of thirty (Genesis 41:46). Ezekiel and Jesus Christ were both called into their ministries at the age of thirty (Ezekiel 1:1, Luke 3:23).

Genesis 41:46, “And Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh, and went throughout all the land of Egypt.”

Ezekiel 1:1, “Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the river of Chebar, that the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God.”

Luke 3:23, “And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli,”

Verses 22-23

First Saying (Tetrastitch) Proverbs 22:22-23 forms a single proverbial thought using four lines. This is an example of a tetrastitch. This proverb warns us not to afflict the poor because God will take vengeance upon his oppressors. Note a similar verse in this division of proverbs where God will also defend the fatherless:

Proverbs 23:10-11, “Remove not the old landmark; and enter not into the fields of the fatherless: For their redeemer is mighty; he shall plead their cause with thee.”

Proverbs 22:22 Rob not the poor, because he is poor: neither oppress the afflicted in the gate:

Proverbs 22:23 “Rob not the poor, because he is poor” - Comments - In many societies today it is easy for a rich person to pressure and intimidate the poor into yielding to the demands of the rich; for the poor are fearful of the rich who have the power to oppress and even kill them. We see an example of this in 1 Kings 21:1-16 when King Ahab took the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite by killing him.

Proverbs 22:23 “neither oppress the afflicted in the gate” Comments - The gate of the cities was the place where judgment took place, where the elders decreed decisions in times of conflicts . Note:

BBE, “Do not take away the property of the poor man because he is poor, or be cruel to the crushed ones when they come before the judge :”

The statement “neither oppress the afflicted in the gate” refers to the injustice that takes place at a place of judgment, such as a court. In many societies today, and in ancient times, it was easy to bribe the judges and gain their favor, while the poor had nothing to offer such judges.

Proverbs 22:23 For the LORD will plead their cause, and spoil the soul of those that spoiled them.

Verses 24-25

Second Saying (Tetrastitch) Proverbs 22:24-25 forms a single proverbial thought using four lines. This is called a tetrastitch. It warns us against befriending a person who cannot control his temper, lest we become like him and cause problems in our own lives.

Proverbs 22:24 Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go:

Proverbs 22:25 Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul.

Proverbs 22:24-25 Comments Befriending an Angry Person - Note the following modern English translations of Proverbs 22:24-25:

BBE, “Do not be friends with a man who is given to wrath; do not go in the company of an angry man:”

The Geneva Bible translation notes read, “Have nothing to do with him that is not able to rule his affections: for he would hurt you by his evil conversation.” [126]

[126] The Geneva Bible translation notes, in The Bible, That is, the Holy Scriptures Containing the Old and New Testament, Translated According to the Hebrew and Greek, and Conferred With the Best Translations in Divers Languages (London: Robert Barker, 1615), notes on Proverbs 22:24-25.

Illustration - I came home one evening while living in Brown Trail Apartments and found my neighbor beaten and bloody, while holding a stick defending his home, wife and kids from a tall, strong man who was in a rage. My neighbor had befriended this poor, homeless guy, by allowing him to stay in his apartment for a while. Soon after, my neighbor began to ask this guy to leave. However, the guy was stubborn to leave. He was now having a difficult time with this person. When they went out drinking together one night, these two guys broke out into a drunken fight in front of our apartment, with his wife and children watching. He had befriended a man who could not control his temper.

Proverbs 22:24-25 Scripture Reference - Note a similar verse:

1 Corinthians 15:33, “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.”

Verse 29

Fifth Saying (Tristitch) Proverbs 22:29 forms a single proverbial thought using three lines, which is called a tristitch. It tells us that men who are diligent believe that they have a destiny in life. They do not enjoy the company of the average person who lack purpose and direction in his daily affairs.

Proverbs 22:29 Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.

Proverbs 22:29 Illustration - In 1989 I began to work as a maintenance man at an apartment complex in Hurst, Texas. I was attending a large church in Dallas, Texas and began to work as an altar worker. After two years, I began to pray and ask the Lord to put me with a man of God at church, someone who would influence me and change my character. In seven days, I received a position as an assistant director of the altar work ministry. This promotion immediately placed me with one of the greatest men of God in the church. I spent the next three years working closely with this man, eating lunch with him after Sunday services. I learned to receive his counsel and his correction. During this time, in 1994, I prayed a similar prayer. I asked the Lord to put me with a man of God on my job. Within thirty days, I received a promotion from maintenance man to maintenance supervisor. This promotion put me in a new office and in daily contact with the general manager of the company. I spent the next four years learning how to manage a business with godly business ethics.

I still look back in amazement at how quickly the Lord answered these two prayers. Working with these two men changed my life and prepared me for a greater calling, that of a missionary in July 1997.

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Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Proverbs 22". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghe/proverbs-22.html. 2013.