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Bible Commentaries

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

Proverbs 24

Verses 1-2

Eighteenth Saying (Tetrastitch) Proverbs 23:26-28 forms a single proverbial thought using four lines, which is called a tetrastitch. This proverb warns us not to envy the evil man because he is a man of mischief and destruction. We have just been warned against envying the sinner in Proverbs 23:17-18. We also find an example of this proverb in Psalms 73, a psalm of Asaph, of how he envied the wicked until he went into the sanctuary of God and his mind became clear enough to reflect upon their end.

Psalms 73:3, “For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.”

Illustration - David also warned against this type of envy in Psalms 37:0 and of how the evildoer will soon be cut off.

Psalms 37:1-2, “Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.”

Proverbs 24:1 Be not thou envious against evil men, neither desire to be with them.

Proverbs 24:2 For their heart studieth destruction, and their lips talk of mischief.

Verses 1-34

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 1-34

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 3-4

Nineteenth Saying (Tristitch) Proverbs 23:26-28 forms a single proverbial thought using three lines, which is called a tristitch. This proverb reminds us of the results and rewards that come from pursuing wisdom.

Proverbs 24:3 Through wisdom is an house builded; and by understanding it is established:

Proverbs 24:3 Comments - God is building a spiritual house. It must be build by God’s instructions or it will not be a fit house. Note:

Psalms 127:1, “Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.”

Illustration - Noah built the ark with God’s instructions.

Proverbs 24:4 And by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches.

Verses 5-6

Twentieth Saying (Tetrastitch) Proverbs 24:5-6 forms a single proverbial thought using four lines, which is called a tetrastitch. It tells us that wisdom and knowledge gives a man strength.

Proverbs 24:5 A wise man is strong; yea, a man of knowledge increaseth strength.

Proverbs 24:6 For by wise counsel thou shalt make thy war: and in multitude of counsellors there is safety.

Proverbs 24:6 Comments - God has given us a “multitude of counselors” when seeking His divine will for our lives. We can know God’s will by reading His Word. A second way to know God’s will is by the witness of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. A third way that God leads us is by the confirmation of circumstances. However, God will always give to us two or three witnesses in order to confirm His will (Deuteronomy 19:15).

Deuteronomy 19:15, “One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established .”

Verse 7

Twenty-First Saying (Distitch) Proverbs 24:7 forms a single proverbial thought using two lines, which is called a distitch.

Proverbs 24:7 Wisdom is too high for a fool: he openeth not his mouth in the gate.

Proverbs 24:7 Comments Regarding the phrase, “in the gate,” the gate of each fortified city became the meeting place of leaders. Here city ordinances were transacted, and agreements were made and confirmed by witnesses. The elders of the city gathered here to make decisions to benefit the citizens. It was no place for fools. While living in a guarded compound in Kampala, the entry gate was guarded by security personnel. It became a place for passersby to sit and talk with each other. In a developed nation with cars, mobile telephones and a busy lifestyle, this type of sitting and talking is not found very often. But in a city where the pace of life is slow, an entry gate becomes a natural meeting place for pedestrians.

Verses 8-22

Proverbs 24:8 Twenty-Second Saying (Distitch) Proverbs 24:8 forms a single proverbial thought using two lines, which is called a distitch.

Proverbs 24:9 Twenty-Third Saying (Distitch) Proverbs 24:9 forms a single proverbial thought using two lines, which is called a distitch.

Proverbs 24:10 Twenty-Fourth Saying (Distitch) Proverbs 24:10 forms a single proverbial thought using two lines, which is called a distitch.

Proverbs 24:11-12 Twenty-Fifth Saying (Hexastitch) Proverbs 24:11-12 forms a single proverbial thought using six lines, which is called a hexastitch.

Proverbs 24:13-14 Twenty-Sixth Saying (Pentastitch) Proverbs 24:13-14 forms a single proverbial thought using five lines, which is called a pentastitch.

Proverbs 24:15-16 Twenty-Seventh Saying (Tetrastitch) Proverbs 24:15-16 forms a single proverbial thought using four lines, which is called a tetrastitch.

Proverbs 24:17-18 Twenty-Eighth Saying (Tetrastitch) Proverbs 24:15-16 forms a single proverbial thought using four lines, which is called a tetrastitch.

Proverbs 24:19-20 Twenty-Ninth Saying (Tetrastitch) Proverbs 24:19-20 forms a single proverbial thought using four lines, which is called a tetrastitch.

Proverbs 24:21-22 Thirtieth Saying (Tetrastitch) Proverbs 24:21-22 forms a single proverbial thought using four lines, which is called a tetrastitch.

Verses 23-34

Proverbs 24:23-34 Sayings of the Wise: Second Collection (Four Sayings) Proverbs 24:23-34 is considers by many scholars to be the second collection of the “Sayings of the Wise”, with Proverbs 22:17 to Proverbs 24:22 being the first collection. 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. [130] 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.

[130] 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).

We know that Solomon gathered and compiled both collections of sayings. Thus, we read the words of Solomon in the opening statement, “These things also belong to the wise,” (Proverbs 24:23 a).

There are at four proverbial sayings in this shortest of collections (ASV). Some commentators count them as five or six. It is interesting to note that these sayings deal with the condition of a man’s heart, mind and body, and in that order.

Outline Here is a proposed outline:

1. First Saying (The Heart) (Hexastitch) Proverbs 24:23-26

2. Second Saying (The Mind How We Think) (Tristitch) Proverbs 24:27

3. Third Saying (The Mind How We Speak) (Tetrastitch) Proverbs 24:28-29

4. Fourth Saying (The Body) (Decastitch) Proverbs 24:30-34

Proverbs 24:23-26 First Saying (Regarding the Heart) (Hexastitch) Excluding the introductory statement, “These things also belong to the wise,” Proverbs 24:23-26 forms a single proverbial thought using six lines, which is called a hexastitch .

Proverbs 24:27 Second Saying (Regarding the Mind How We are to Think) (Tristitch) Proverbs 24:27 forms a single proverbial thought using three lines, which is called a tristitch .

Proverbs 24:27 Prepare thy work without, and make it fit for thyself in the field; and afterwards build thine house.

Proverbs 24:27 Comments - Proverbs 24:27 deals with a man’s priorities and the principles of sowing and reaping. Creflo Dollar defines priorities as “those things which we place a higher value on.” [131] How we schedule our lives reflects our priorities. The field represents our source of income, or substance, which enables us to have the resources to build and maintain a house (Ecclesiastes 5:9). In contrast, the slothful man does not prepare his field. He, therefore, will not have any income with which to build and maintain a house (Proverbs 24:30-34).

[131] Creflo Dollar, Changing Your World (College Park, Georgia: Creflo Dollar Ministries, 18 August 2009), on Trinity Broadcasting Network (Santa Ana, California), television program.

Ecclesiastes 5:9, “Moreover the profit of the earth is for all: the king himself is served by the field .”

Proverbs 24:30-34, “I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; And, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down. Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked upon it, and received instruction. Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth; and thy want as an armed man.”

Proverbs 24:27 also reflects the principle of sowing and reaping. We are to sow our labours in the field of harvest, so that we will reap our wages to build a home and find rest. If we do not sow in the fields of labour, we will have no provision to build our home. We are to sow in the Lord’s fields so that He can bless us with a place of rest in this life.

A home is a place of rest, and the field is the place of labour and toil. When we place this two-fold aspect of labor and rest into the Song of Solomon, we learn that the place of labour is found in the king’s vineyard, and the place of rest is the garden of prayer and communion with the Father. Proverbs 24:7 places our labours in the field as an act of sowing and our rest in the house as reaping what we have sown. For example, get a good education, then get a good job, then marry and buy a home. Many young married people have married to early, before they could afford to provide for a family. These marriages have been much more challenging and they have a higher rate of divorce than a well planned marriage.

Proverbs 24:28-29 Third Saying (Regarding the Mind How We are to Speak) (Tetrastitch) Proverbs 24:28-29 forms a single proverbial thought using four lines, which is called a tetrastitch .

Proverbs 24:28 Be not a witness against thy neighbour without cause; and deceive not with thy lips.

Proverbs 24:28 Word Study on “deceive” Gesenius says the Hebrew word “entice” ( פָּתָה ) (H6601) means, “to spread out, to open, to be roomy.” Strong says this primitive root word literally means, “to open, to be roomy.” In a mental or moral sense, it is used figuratively to mean, “to be made simple or to delude.” The Enhanced Strong says it is used 28 times in the Old Testament, being translated in the KJV as, “entice 10, deceive 8, persuade 4, flatter 2, allure 1, enlarge 1, silly one 1, silly 1.” From this same primitive root comes the much-used word “simple” ( פֶּתִי ) (H6612), which is found 15 times in the book of Proverbs of its 19 Old Testament uses.

Proverbs 24:29 Say not, I will do so to him as he hath done to me: I will render to the man according to his work.

Proverbs 24:30-34 Fourth Saying (Regarding the Body) (Decastitch) Proverbs 24:30-34 forms a single proverbial thought using ten lines, which is called a decastitch . This passage is about the sluggard. Note that another passage on the sluggard is found in Proverbs 6:6-11.

Proverbs 24:32 Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked upon it, and received instruction.

Proverbs 24:32 Comments - We also can learn much from the lives around us, both good and bad.

Proverbs 24:33 Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep:

Proverbs 24:34 So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth; and thy want as an armed man.

Proverbs 24:33-34 Scripture References - Note the same verse in Proverbs 6:10-11 and a similar verse in Ecclesiastes 4:5.

Proverbs 6:10-11, “Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man.”

Ecclesiastes 4:5, “The fool foldeth his hands together, and eateth his own flesh.”

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Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Proverbs 24". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghe/proverbs-24.html. 2013.