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the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12
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Bible Commentaries
Proverbs 1

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Verses 1-33

Proverbs 1:1 . Proverbs, apothegms, parables, sentences, similitudes. The proverbs of a nation are the compressions of wisdom into short maxims, which like the coins of a country worn bare by use, pass from hand to hand, without scruple or fear. The Hebrew word משׁלים mishelim, from משׁל mashal, to rule or govern, signifies a collection of wise sayings for the government of life and conduct.

Proverbs 1:2 . To know wisdom. This little volume comes cheap to us, but it cost the king of Israel, the great oriental philosopher, who surpassed Ethan, Heman, Chalcol, and Darda in wisdom, a whole life of labour and of study. 1 Kings 4:30-31.

Proverbs 1:4 . To give subtilty, wariness, cautionary wisdom, to the simple. The LXX, ακακοις , those without evil, the innocent. Vulgate, parvulis, the little ones, those who from youth and inexperience act rashly and precipitately.

Proverbs 1:5 . A wise man will hear. The wise and illustrious Solomon opens his volume by setting forth the nature and design of his work. Wisdom, according to him, is no other than the luminous truth of revelation embraced by the mind, revered in the heart, and practised in the life. Then correspondent dispositions are formed, for divine wisdom is more than theory; it is pure, peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and all good fruit. Hence it is no other than real religion in all its doctrines, and in all its duties. And to conform the heart and life to the wise counsel of God, is assuredly both the best wisdom and the first duty of all mankind. It ennobles the mind with sacred knowledge, it adorns the heart with purity, and clothes the character with rectitude. In a word, it opens every avenue of intellectual pleasure and moral happiness to the soul of man.

Proverbs 1:7 . The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. This is the first proverb, and worthy of the first place. The fear of the Lord is real religion. It puts a young man into the right road, leading to glory and virtue. The Saviour admonishes us first to seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness. Also Job 28:28.

Proverbs 1:8 . My son, hear the instruction of thy father. To give the more effect to this volume, Solomon, very prudently, and with all the affability of condescension, speaks in the person of a father to his son. This mode of speaking was common for aged tutors to their pupils. Instruction coming in this form is natural and persuasive; and it falls with all the weight of paternal influence and of hoary experience. How then should we be affected with the condescension of God, who speaks to us as the Father of mercies, and loves us with the tenderest affection.

Proverbs 1:9 . Chains about thy neck. Hebrews torques; a ring of gold round the neck, often bestudded with gems, and from which the flowing robes of the east were sometimes suspended. Schultens, in his Latin translation of the Proverbs, illustrates this from the Arabic by the idea of a serpent twisted round the neck.

Proverbs 1:10 . If sinners entice thee, consent thou not. The first positive instruction Solomon here gives, is a caution to youth against bad company. However inclined to foolishness the heart of a youth may be, having some delicacy and modesty, he is shocked at the grosser crimes, and does not intend irrecoverably to take the route of vice. But on associating with persons totally depraved, impelled by passion, and allured by temptations, he cannot tell whether exile or the gallows may soon be his lot. Many bad young men in Israel, it would seem, were induced to join the bands of robbers whose haunts were in the deserts and the woods, and whose end was destruction: being outlawed they went on in a course of crimes till arrested by the hand of justice. See on Judges 19:0.

Proverbs 1:17 . Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird. The allegory here is beautiful; if a poor bird take warning, why not those foolish youths!

Proverbs 1:20 . Wisdom crieth without. Like Minerva among the Greeks she is here arrayed in the female character; for mothers advise their children for good. Hence both father and mother join their voices to save youth from sin.

Proverbs 1:22 . How long ye simple ones. Youth are not only cautioned against vice, but a remedy is prescribed in real religion. Hence wisdom as a tender matron cries in the streets, and in all the public resorts of the wicked. She then says, this is all vanity and empty show. Shun this place, avoid the breath of this infected crowd, and come and shelter your weakness under my roof, and the wings of my protecting love. And that her instructions may be received with the more conviction and propriety, she divides the crowd into three classes; for wicked men are not all equally depraved. First, the simple ones who merely run with the throng, and love giddiness and folly. Secondly, the scoffers who having vanquished their own conscience, next attempt to deride God’s most sacred word. Thirdly, the consummately hardened fools, who being learned in wickedness hate instruction. This last class of sinners are in an awful situation, and on the verge of destruction. Yet even to these she says, Turn at my reproof; and I will pour out my spirit upon you. Hence the most hardened and profligate should be called to repentance, for the very brands of wickedness are sometimes plucked from the burning.

Proverbs 1:24 . Because I have called, have knocked, have waited, love assaying all its arts to win the soul. The remaining addresses, often repeated by the prophets, are to the incorrigible, the abandoned, the reprobates. I have stretched out my hand, in a succession of paternal corrections, but all has been disregarded. You have been deaf to my voice, and blind to my ways; you have followed passion, instead of wisdom; therefore I am about to mock you in trouble, and bid you go to your harlots for pleasure, and to your physicians for health; yea, when arrests and imprisonment await you suddenly like a whirlwind, I will refer you to the bar of justice which will do you no wrong. Return then, return, oh sinner, while his wrath delays; for it yet is love that uses severer words.

Proverbs 1:32 . The turning away [that is, the sloth and ease] of the simple shall slay them. On the other hand, the prosperity of fools, who like Sodom and Gomorrah, live in pride, idleness, and fulness of bread, shall destroy them; and to see what end both those characters come to, shall destroy all their unfounded hopes.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Proverbs 1". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/proverbs-1.html. 1835.
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