Proverbs 2:1 My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee;
Ver. 1. My son.] Fatherly and filial affection ought to be between teacher and hearers. "But who is their father?" [1 Samuel 10:12] "O my father, my father," said he to the dying prophet. [2 Kings 13:14] "Dwell with me, and be unto me a father and a priest," said that idolatrous Micah to the wandering Levite. [ 17:10] Popish novices do so observe their padres (as they call them), that though they command them a voyage to China or Peru, without dispute or delay they presently set forward (a) Tu et asinus unum estote, said one once to a young novice, who being about to enter into a monastery, asked his counsel how he should carry himself. "Come, children, hearken unto me, I will teach you the fear of the Lord." [Psalms 34:11]
Proverbs 2:2 So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, [and] apply thine heart to understanding;
Ver. 2. So that thou incline thine ear.] Lie low at God’s feet, and say, "Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth." His saints "sit down at his feet, every one to receive his word." [Deuteronomy 33:3] They are compared to "a garden of cucumbers," [Isaiah 1:8] which, when ripe, lie on the ground. Surely, as waters meet and rest in low valleys, so do God’s graces in lowly hearts.
And apply thine heart.] Attention of body, intention of mind, and retention of memory, are indispensably desired of all wisdom’s scholars; such as King Edward VI, who constantly stood up at the hearing of the word, took notes, which he afterwards diligently perused, and wrought the sermon upon his affections by meditation. (a)
Proverbs 2:3 Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, [and] liftest up thy voice for understanding;
Ver. 3. If thou criest after knowledge.] Bene orasse est bene studuisse, said Luther. Knowledge is God’s gift (James 1:5; James 1:17), and must be sought at his hand, since he is "the Father of lights," and sells us "eye salve," Revelation 3:17.
And liftest up thy voice.] As resolved to "give God no rest" till thou hast it. A dull suitor begs a denial. "Then shall men know if they follow on to know the Lord," Hosea 6:3. "Teach me," "teach me," saith David often. "Lord, show me thy glory," said Moses, newly come from the mount.
Proverbs 2:4 If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as [for] hid treasures;
Ver. 4. If thou seekest her as silver.] Opulentissima metalla quorum in alta latent venae, saith Seneca, (a) Your richest metals lie lowest. Viscera terrae extrahimus, ut digito gestetur gemma, quam petimus, saith Pliny; (b) We draw out the very bowels of the earth, that we may get the gem that we desire. Shall we not do as much for this pearl of price, the knowledge of God and his will, of ourselves, and our duties? Beg we must; [Proverbs 2:3] but with it we must dig too, [Proverbs 2:4] and continue to do so, searching for her as for hid treasures. Ora et labora, for else "the talk of the lip only brings want." [Proverbs 14:23] What man, finding a rich mine of gold or silver, is content with the first ore that offers itself to his view, and doth not dig deeper and deeper till he become owner of the whole treasure? So here, "Then shall ye know, if ye follow on to know the Lord," [Hosea 6:3] if ye cease not till ye get all the dimensions of knowledge mentioned by the apostle, [Ephesians 3:18] till ye see that blissful sight. [Ephesians 1:18-19]
Proverbs 2:5 Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.
Ver. 5. Then shalt thou understand.] Then shalt thou be as those noble Romans were, [Romans 15:14] "full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish others"; in fine, well accomplished Christian, that hath Christian for his name, and Catholic for his surname, Such a Catholic as Augustine describeth when he saith, Boni Catholici sunt qui et fidem integram sequuntur et bonos mores. Those be good Catholics that believe well and live well. These be not those ancient Roman Catholics.
Proverbs 2:6 For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth [cometh] knowledge and understanding.
Ver. 6. Out of his mouth cometh knowledge.] If it could be said by the divine chronologer, (a) Ex Adami sapientissimi doctoris ore promanavit tanquam ex fonte quicquid in mundo est utilium doctrinarum, disciplinarum, scientiae et sapientiae - Out of Adam’s mouth, even after the fall, as out of a fountain, flowed all the profitable knowledge, skill, and wisdom in the world: how much better may the same be said of "the only wise God," who is "wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working." [Isaiah 28:29] Platonici lumen mentiam esse dixerunt ad discenda omnia, eundem ipsum Deum quo facta sunt omnia. (b) The Platonists said, that God, the maker of all, was that light of the mind whereby we learn all.
Proverbs 2:7 He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: [he is] a buckler to them that walk uprightly.
Ver. 7. He layeth up sound wisdom.] Heb., Substance, reality; that which hath a true being, in opposition to that which is not; so riches are described. [Proverbs 23:5] Heaven only hath a "foundation"; [Hebrews 11:10] earth hath none, but is "hanged upon nothing." [Job 16:7] Grace hath solid substance in it and true worth; whereas opinion only sets the price upon all outward things. The prophet Amos complains of the epicures of his time, that they "ate the lambs out of the flock, and the calves out of the midst of the stall; they drank wine in bowls, and chanted to the sound of viols." [Amos 6:4-6] This to some might seem brave and desirable. But [Proverbs 2:13] the prophet, in true judgment, thus speaks to them: "Ye which rejoice in a thing of nought," ye embrace a shadow, ye pursue after things that profit not, but perish in the use; for "Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God will destroy both it and them." [1 Corinthians 6:13] Some sense the text thus: The Lord lays up when he is in distress, then he hath such quietness of spirit, soundness and presence of mind, that in the midst of his straits he is in a sufficiency. Not so the wicked. [Job 20:22]
He is a buckler to them.] The body cannot be wounded, but through the buckler, if skilfully handled: "Happy art thou, O Israel; who is like unto thee, O people saved by the Lord, the shield of thy help?" [Deuteronomy 33:29]
Proverbs 2:8 He keepeth the paths of judgment, and preserveth the way of his saints.
Ver. 8. He keepeth the paths of judgment.] Well may they walk uprightly that are so strongly supported. God’s hand is ever under his; they cannot fall beneath it. "He keepeth the feet of his saints." [1 Samuel 2:9]
Proverbs 2:9 Then shalt thou understand righteousness, and judgment, and equity; [yea], every good path.
Ver. 9. Then shalt thou understand righteousness.] Not as cognoscitiva, standing in speculation; but as directiva vitae, a rule of life. Knowledge is either apprehensive only, or affective also. This differs from that, as much as the light of the sun, wherein is the influence of an enlivening power, from the light of torches.
Proverbs 2:10 When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul;
Ver. 10. Is pleasant to thy soul.] Spiritual joy mortifies sin. His mouth hankers not after homely provision that hath lately tasted of delicate sustenance. Pleasure there must be in the ways of God, because therein men let out their souls into God, that is the fountain of all good; hence they so infinitely distaste sin’s tasteless fooleries. Crede mihi, res severa est verum gaudium, saith Seneca. True joy is a solid business.
Proverbs 2:11 Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee:
Ver. 11. Discretion.] Heb., Thoughtfulness, or good advisement. Cogito quasi coagito. (a) Notat sereitatem, such as is that of the wife "to please her husband," [1 Corinthians 7:34] casting this way and that way how to give best content: or that of the good housewife to "build her house," [Proverbs 14:1] studying in every business how to set everything in order, as the carpenter studies how to set every part of the frame in joint.
Proverbs 2:12 To deliver thee from the way of the evil [man], from the man that speaketh froward things;
Ver. 12. That speaketh froward things.] As if his mouth were distorted, or the upper lip stood where the nether should. See Acts 20:30. (a)
Proverbs 2:13 Who leave the paths of uprightness, to walk in the ways of darkness;
Ver. 13. To walk in the ways of darkness.] As thieves, drunkards, dicers, and our other solifugae, that abuse even gospel light; that put not light under a bushel, but under a dunghill; that, when they have walked themselves weary in these byways, highways to hell, sit down "in darkness, and in the shadow of death," [Luke 1:79] which posture imports, (1). Continuance there; (2). Content, as well paid of their seat. These "hate the light because their ways are evil." [John 3:20] The light stands in the light of their wicked ways, as the angel did in Balaam’s way to his sin.
Proverbs 2:14 Who rejoice to do evil, [and] delight in the frowardness of the wicked;
Ver. 14. Who rejoice to do evil.] It is their meat, drink, sport; [Proverbs 4:27; Proverbs 10:23] they cannot be merry unless the devil be their play fellow. This is reckoned as an aggravation of Jerusalem’s sin: "When thou doest evil, then thou rejoicest." [Jeremiah 11:15] But better is the sorrow of him that suffereth evil than the jollity of him that doth evil, saith Augustine. (a)
Proverbs 2:15 Whose ways [are] crooked, and [they] froward in their paths:
Ver. 15. Whose ways are crooked.] How justly may God say to such, as the crab in the fable did to the serpent, when he had given him his death’s wound for his crooked conditions, and then saw him stretch himself out straight, At oportuit sic vixisse: It is too late now, you should have lived so.
And who are froward.] Absurd, ’ Aτοποι. [2 Thessalonians 3:2] Men made up of mere incongruities, solacising in opinion, speeches, actions, all.
Proverbs 2:16 To deliver thee from the strange woman, [even] from the stranger [which] flattereth with her words;
Ver. 16. From the strange woman.] Forbidden thee by God, as strange fire, strange gods, &c.
Which flattereth with her words.] Whose lips are nets, whose hands are bands, whose words are cords to draw a man in as a fool to the stocks, or an ox to the slaughter.
Proverbs 2:17 Which forsaketh the guide of her youth, and forgetteth the covenant of her God.
Ver. 17. Which forsaketh the guide of her youth.] That is, Her husband; as Helena, Herodias, Bernice, [Acts 25:13] and other odious harlots. Adulterium quasi ad alterum, vel ad alterius torum. (a) This wanton never wants one, though her husband be ever so near.
And forgetteth the covenant of her God.] Marriage is a mixed covenant, partly religious and partly civil: the parties tie themselves first to God, and then to one another. The bond is made to God, who also will be ready enough to take the forfeiture. For whores and adulteresses God will judge. [Hebrews 13:3]
Proverbs 2:18 For her house inclineth unto death, and her paths unto the dead.
Ver. 18. For her house inclineth unto death.] Terence calleth harlots Cruces, quia iuvenes macerent et offligant. Venery (a) is death’s best harbinger: Venus ab antiquis λυσιμελης dicta. She provideth, saith one, (b) not for those that are already born, but for those that shall be born. Of Pope Paul the Fourth, that old goat, it went for a byword, Eum per eandem partem animam profudisse, per quam acceperat. Pope John the Twelfth being taken with an adulteress, was stabbed to death by her husband. (c) Alexander the Great and Otho the Third test their lives by their lusts. But how many, alas! by this means have lost their souls. Fleshly lusts, by a specialty, "fight against the soul." [1 Peter 2:12] And nothing hath so much enriched hell, saith one, as beautiful faces.
And her paths unto the dead.] Heb., El Rhephaim, to the giants: (d) To that part of hell where those damned monsters are, together with those sensual Sodomites, who, giving themselves over to fornication, and "going after strange flesh, are thrown forth, προκεινται, proiecti sunt, for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire." [ 1:7]
Proverbs 2:19 None that go unto her return again, neither take they hold of the paths of life.
Ver. 19. None that go unto her return again.] Some of the ancients have herehence concluded that adultery is an unpardonable sin; but "all manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men," saith our Saviour, "save only the sin against the Holy Ghost." [Matthew 12:31] True it is, that "a whore is a deep ditch, and a strange woman is a narrow pit"; - that [Proverbs 23:27] "whoredom, and wine, and new wine take away the heart"; - that [Hosea 4:11] such are said to be "destitute of understanding," and to have lost even the light of nature; [Proverbs 6:32 Romans 1:28] to be "past feeling, and given up to a dead and dedolent disposition"; [Ephesians 4:18-19] to be "impudent," [Jeremiah 2:3] - wherefore also they are compared to dogs (a) [Deuteronomy 23:18 2 Samuel 3:8] - and for the most part impenitent. [Ecclesiastes 7:28] Grace, as one well observeth, is seated in the powers of nature. Now carnal sins disable nature, and so set us in a greater distance from grace, as taking away the heart, &c. Howbeit "all things are possible with God"; [Mark 9:23; Mark 9:27] and though few have awakened out of this snare of the devil, yet some have, as David, and that woman in Luke 7:37; Luke 7:50, lest any humbled sinners should despair.
Proverbs 2:20 That thou mayest walk in the way of good [men], and keep the paths of the righteous.
Ver. 20. That thou mayest walk in the way.] This is another work of wisdom - as to keep us from bad company, so to put us into good, where much good may be learned. Dr Taylor, martyr, rejoiced that ever he came in prison, there to be acquainted with that angel of God, John Bradford (so he called him). (a) Latimer and Ridley, while they lived, kept up Cranmer by intercourse of letters, and otherwise, from entertaining counsels of revolt. (b) A child having been brought up with Plato, returned home to his father’s house, and, hearing his father to chide, and exclaim furiously in his anger, used these speeches to his father, "I have never seen the like with Plato." (c)
Proverbs 2:21 For the upright shall dwell in the land, and the perfect shall remain in it.
Ver. 21. For the upright shall dwell in the land.] Of Canaan, a type of heaven; for by these outward and corporeal things, inward, spiritual, and eternal are understood. Here the wise man speaks after the manner of Moses’ law, under which he lived; [Deuteronomy 11:8] and howsoever upright men suffer hardship and hunger here, yet they enjoy great tranquillity and felicity, as seeing God in all, and depending wholly upon him for help. "Well for the present, and it will be better hereafter"; - this is the upright man’s motto. Heaven, thinks he, will make amends for all. He that sees visions of glory will not matter, with St Stephen, a shower of stones. How much less will he think much, though "the Lord give him the bread of adversity, and water of affliction." [Isaiah 30:20]
Proverbs 2:22 But the wicked shall be cut off from the earth, and the transgressors shall be rooted out of it.
Ver. 22. But the wicked shall be cut off.] Certainly, suddenly, utterly, cum maxime velint vivere, when they have feathered their nests, and set up their rest, and reckon upon long life, as the fool in the Gospel: "God will shoot at them with an arrow suddenly," and fetch them off when they least look for it. The wicked may die sinning. The saints shall not die till the best time - not till that time when, if they were but rightly informed, they would even desire to die.
Shall be rooted out.] Heb., Plucked up, as degenerate plants. Exorientur, sed exurentur. "God shall likewise destroy thee for ever: he shall take thee away, and pluck thee out of thy dwellingplace, and root thee out of the land of the living. Selah." [Psalms 52:5]
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 2". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany