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Bible Commentaries
Proverbs 8

Trapp's Complete CommentaryTrapp's Commentary

Verse 1

Doth not wisdom cry? and understanding put forth her voice?

Doth not wisdom cry? — And shall a harlot be sooner heard than she? Shall men prefer dross before gold, acorns before wheat, a swinesty before a sanctuary, dirty delights and sensual pleasures before peace that passeth all understanding, joy unspeakable and full of glory? Heathen stories Xenophon. tell how Hercules, when he was young, was courted by Virtue on the one hand, and Pleasure on the other; but Pleasure lost her sweet words upon him; he hearkened to Virtue rather. Shall not we to Wisdom?

Put forth her voice. — In her ministers, who are criers by office, and must be earnest. Isaiah 58:1 See an instance in holy Bradford. "I beseech you," saith he, "I pray you, I desire you, I crave at your hands with all my very heart, I ask of you with hand, pen, tongue, and mind, in Christ, through Christ, for Christ, for his name, blood, mercy, power, and truth’s sake, my most entirely beloved, that you admit no doubting of God’s final mercies toward you," … Acts and Mon., 1490. Here was a lusty crier indeed. And such another was Mr Perkins, of whom it is said, that in expounding the commandments, when he was catechist of Christ’s College, he applied them so home to his hearers, that he made their very hearts fall down, and their hairs stand upright. Mr Fuller’s Holy State, p. 90.

Verse 2

She standeth in the top of high places, by the way in the places of the paths.

She standeth in the top of high places. — That is, saith an interpreter, In the lofty oracles of the patriarchs and prophets.

Verse 3

She crieth at the gates, at the entry of the city, at the coming in at the doors.

At the entry of the city. — Heb., At the mouth; for as words go out of the mouth, so do men out of the city; only men go and come at their pleasure. Sed volat emissum semel irrevocabile verbum, Rod. Bain. - A word once uttered cannot be recalled.

At the coming in at the doors. — Everywhere Christ offereth himself; hence ariseth this phrase, "My salvation is gone forth"; but to little purpose, through men’s singular perverseness. Indeed if the Lord would set up a pulpit at the ale house door, they would hear more often; but since he doth not, they will run to hell as fast as they can; and if God cannot catch them, they care not, they will not return.

Verse 4

Unto you, O men, I call; and my voice [is] to the sons of man.

Unto you, O men, I call.O viri praestantes, - so some render it, O ye eminent men, whether for greatness of birth, wealth, or learning. The Pharisees and philosophers, for their learning, are called the "princes of this world." 1 Corinthians 2:8 Sed sapientes sapienter in infernum descendunt, saith one; et potentes potenter torguebuntur, saith another. But "the world by wisdom knows not God"; 1 Corinthians 1:21 and "not many wise men, not many mighty, not many noble are called." Proverbs 8:26 And yet they shall not want for calling, if that would do it, for "unto you, O mighty men, I call." Sed surdo plerunque fabulam, but all to little purpose, for the most part. They that lay their heads upon down pillows cannot so easily hear noises. Courts and great places prove ill air for zeal. Divitibus ideo pietas deest, quia nihil deest. Rich men’s wealth proves a hindrance to their happiness.

And my voice is to the sons of men,i.e., To the meaner sort of people. See Psalms 49:2 . These usually, like little fishes, bite more than bigger. The poor are evangelized, ευαγγελιζονται . saith our Saviour. Smyrna was the poorest, but best of the seven churches. Certain it is, that many of the meaner sort hold that they are not bound to look after Scripture matters, but that it is for rich men and scholars only to do so. We have nothing, say they, to live by but these hands. How can day labourers and poor craftsmen attend to such things? " πως δυνησομαι χειροτεχνης ων και πενης φιλοσοφειν ." - Chrysost, Hom. 22, ad Pop. Antioch. The baser sort of people in Switzerland do always break the Sabbath, saying that it is only for gentlemen to keep that day. See Jeremiah 5:4 John 7:49 . But Paul, a poor tent maker, could say, "Our conversation is in heaven"; and God’s people are "afflicted and poor," yet "they trust in the name of the Lord." Zephaniah 3:12 Who ever richer than Adam in Paradise? poorer than Job on the dunghill? Yet in Paradise Satan foiled Adam, on the dunghill Job foiled Satan. Think not that poverty can excuse from duty. Poor men also must listen to wisdom’s voice, or it will be worse with them; there is yet but a beginning of their sorrows.

Verse 5

O ye simple, understand wisdom: and, ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart.

O ye simple. — If ye be not set in sin, resolved of your way, as good as ye mean to be; if yet there be any place left for persuasion. See Trapp on " Proverbs 1:4 "

And ye fools. — Ye that have already made your conclusion, and are wiser in your own conceit than seven men that can render a reason.

Verse 6

Hear; for I will speak of excellent things; and the opening of my lips [shall be] right things.

I will speak of excellent things. — ηγεμονικα ; ruling cases, master sentences, axioms of state, principles for princes. "I have written for them the great things of my law." Hosea 8:12 Solomon calls the Scriptures "lords of collections," as some sense that text, Ecclesiastes 12:11 .

Shall be right things. — Right for each man’s particular purposes and occasions. The Scriptures are so penned, that every man may think they speak de se, in re sua Athanas. of him and his affairs. In all the commandments of God, there is so much rectitude and good reason, could we but see it, that if God did not command them, yet it were our best way to practise them.

Verse 7

For my mouth shall speak truth; and wickedness [is] an abomination to my lips.

For my month shall speak truth. — Heb., Shall meditate truth; i.e., I will neither speak falsely nor rashly, but upon due deliberation and undoubted certainty. See my "True Treasure," p. 122.

Verse 8

All the words of my mouth [are] in righteousness; [there is] nothing froward or perverse in them.

All the words. — The Rabbis have a saying, that there is a mountain of sense hanging upon every tittle of the Scriptures.

There is nothing froward or perverse in them. — Some places of Scripture may seem to cross other places, but they do only seem so. Men may think they are like the accusers of Christ, never a one speaking like the other; but those that understand them shall find them like Nathan and Bathsheba, both speaking the same things. The old Rabbis could not reconcile Ecclesiastes (some passages in it) to the rest of the Holy Scriptures, and had therefore some thoughts to conceal it from the people Kabuenaki. But this was their weakness, and would have been their wickedness.

Verse 9

They [are] all plain to him that understandeth, and right to them that find knowledge.

They are all plain to him that understandeth. — Plain in things necessary to salvation; for as all duties, so all truths do not concern all men. God doth not expect or require that every man should be a doctor in the chair; but those points that direct to duty here, and salvation hereafter, are clear, express, and obvious to them that desire to understand them; for some there are, qui ut liberius peccent, libenter ignorant. Bernard. It was a smart answer which M. Durant, a witty and learned minister of the Reformed Church of Paris, gave to a lady of suspected chastity, and now revolted: when she pretended the hardness of the Scripture, Why, said he, madam, what can be more plain than "Thou shalt not commit adultery?" Had she not been failing in the practice of what she could not but know, she had found no cause to complain of the difficulty of that which she could not know.

Verse 10

Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold.

Receive mine instruction, and not money. — That is, Rather than money; as, "I will have mercy, and not sacrifice" - that is, rather than sacrifice. Knowledge of the Scriptures is the greatest riches. "Let the word of Christ dwell richly in you." Colossians 3:16 The Corinthians were enriched in all knowledge. 1 Corinthians 1:5 Plato gave three hundred florins for a book that he liked. Called Sophron. Dionysius said that Aristippus was always craving money from him, but Plato desired nothing but books. What spending of money and lavishing out of the bag is there for human learning! And yet Aristotle himself could say, that a little knowledge, though but conjectural, about heavenly things, is to be preferred above much knowledge, though certain, about inferior things.

Verse 11

For wisdom [is] better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it.

For wisdom is better than rubies.See Trapp on " Proverbs 3:15 "

Verse 12

I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions.

I wisdom dwell with prudence. — I draw all into practice, and teach men to prove by their own experience, what "that good, and holy, and acceptable will of God is." Romans 12:2 Of the most that would be held knowing men, it may well be said, as Cicero says the proverb went of the Athenians, that they used their wisdom as men do artificial teeth, for show only, and that they did scire quae recta sunt, sed facere nolle, know what was right, but had no mind to do accordingly. Socrates said there was no difference between σοφια and σωρροσυνη - wisdom and prudence or moderation, since he that knows good things, to do them, and evil things, to avoid them, is to be held a wise man, and none else. Xenoph., De Dictis et Factis Socrat.

And find out knowledge of witty inventions. — Tending to piety; not those toilsome toys, sophismata, quae nec ignoranti nocent, nec scientem iuvant, Seneca. that are hard to come by, but of no use or worth, proof or profit. These are but laborious loss of time, " Tο του χρονου παραναλωμα . - Arist. as Aristotle hath it; like an olive, or datestone, hard to crack the one, or cleave the other, but nothing, or nothing worth aught, when cracked or cloven, within either. Wisdom finds her scholars somewhat else to do than to be so busily idle. Witty she allows them to be, but not wittily wicked, not wise to do evil, inventors of evil, or idle things. "Walk circumspectly," saith she, "not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, understanding what the will of the Lord is," Ephesians 5:15-17 and putting it in speedy execution. "Keep therefore and do it, for this is your wisdom." Deuteronomy 4:6 See Trapp on " Deuteronomy 4:6 " This will speak you far more witty than those wits of the world, who "seek out many inventions," Ecclesiastes 7:28 but all to no purpose, and "become vain in their imaginations, their foolish heart being darkened." Romans 1:21

Verse 13

The fear of the LORD [is] to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.

The fear of the Lord. — Which is a high point of heavenly wisdom, Proverbs 1:7 to the praise whereof this therefore appertaineth. There are those who make this verse an explanation of the former, thus: I find out the knowledge of witty inventions, such as are the fear of the Lord, the hatred of evil, yea, of inward evils, as pride, arrogancy, … Odi fastum istius Ecclesiae. I hate the pride of that Romish Church, said Basil, long since. "I hate vain thoughts; but thy law do I love." Psalms 119:113 "I hate and abhor lying." Psalms 119:163 "Yea, I hate every false way," both in myself and others. Psalms 119:104 "Thou hatest the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate." Revelation 2:6 God’s people partake of the Divine nature, and so have God-like both sympathies and antipathies. They not only leave sin, but loathe it, and are at deadly feud with it. They purge themselves - by this clean fear of God Psalms 19:7 - from all pollutions, not of flesh only, worldly lusts, and gross evils, but of spirit also, that lie more up in the heart of the country, as pride, arrogance, …, so "perfecting holiness in the fear of God." 2 Corinthians 7:1 There may be some kind of pride in sincerity, and of humility in hypocrisy. But hypocrisy’s humility is followed with pride, and sincerity’s pride with humility. This latter humility is the better. And here only it is seemly for virtue to come behind vice. Hypocrisy is proud because it is humble; sincerity is humble because it is proud.

And the evil way. — That is, Custom of committing sin. Viam pro frequentatione accipiunt Hebraei. And this the godly man doth, not that he may appear to do so, sed quia aliter facere non potuit - as one Velleius. falsely and flatteringly said of Cato - but because having his heart seasoned with this holy fear, he can do no otherwise.

Verse 14

Counsel [is] mine, and sound wisdom: I [am] understanding; I have strength.

Counsel is mine, … — Christ is "wise in heart, and mighty in strength," Job 9:4 his Church’s both counsellor Isaiah 9:6 and champion; Isaiah 37:23-24 and though she be but a "virgin daughter of Zion," yet she despiseth her adversary, and laughs him to scorn, Proverbs 8:22 because she hath one that is in love with her, and will fight her quarrel, who is

Aμφοτερος βασιλευς τ αγαθος, κρατερος τ αιχμητης . De Achille Homerus.

Verse 15

By me kings reign, and princes decree justice.

By me kings reign. — How, then, can the schoolmen defend Thomas Aquinas in that paradox, Dominium et praelatio introducta sunt ex iure humane; Thomas Aquinas, II. 2, Quest. 10, Art. 10. dominion and government is of man? This crosseth the apostle, Romans 13:1-2 and the wisest of the heathens. Eκ δε Dιος βασιληες . - Herod Tιμη δι εκ Dιος εστι . - Homer.

Verse 16

By me princes rule, and nobles, [even] all the judges of the earth.

And nobles. — So called in the original, from their liberality and bounty. Hence Luke 22:25 this word is expressed by Eυεργεται , Bountiful, or benefactors, such as are ingenuous, free, munificent, endued with that free princely spirit. Psalms 51:14

Even all the judges of the earth. — Though haply they be reckoned in the rank of bad men, but good princes; such as was Galba, and our Richard III, and Trajan, much magnified for a good emperor, and yet a drunkard and a cruel persecutor. Plin. Secund. Dion. Cass.

Verse 17

I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.

I love them that love me. — The philosopher could say, that if moral virtue could be seen with mortal eyes, she would stir up wonderful loves of herself in the hearts of the beholders. How much more, then, would the "wisdom of God in a mystery!," 1 Corinthians 2:7 that essential wisdom of God especially, the Lord Jesus, who is totus desiderabilis, "altogether lovely," Song of Solomon 5:16 "the desire of all nations," Haggai 2:7 whom whosoever loveth not deserves to be doubly accursed. 1 Corinthians 15:22 My love was crucified, O ερως μου εσταυρωται . said Ignatius, who "loved not his life unto the death." Revelation 12:11 Neither was there any love lost, or can be, for "I love them that love me." "And if any man love me, my Father will love him, and I will love him, and will manifest myself unto him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him." John 14:21 ; John 14:23 Men do not always reciprocate, nor return love for love. "For my love they are mine adversaries; yea, they have rewarded me hatred for my love." Psalms 109:4-5 David lost his love upon Absalom; Paul upon the Corinthians; old Andronicus, the Greek emperor, upon his graceless nephew of the same name. But here is no such danger. It shall not be easy for any man to outlove wisdom. For,

( Objection. ) Whereas some one might reply, You are so taken up with states, and have such great suitors, kings, princes, nobles, judges, as Proverbs 8:15-16 that it is not for mean men to look for any love from you; -

( Solution. ) Not so, saith wisdom, for "I love them that love me," be they never so much below me. "Grace be with all them that love the Lord Jesus in sincerity." Ephesians 6:23 Tantum velis, et Deus tibi praeoccurret, saith Nazianzen. Ambulas, si amas: non enim passibus ad Deum, sed affectibus curritur, saith Augustine. Thou walkest if thou lovest; thou actest if thou affectest.

They that seek me early. — As students sit close to it in the morning. Aurora rnusis amica.

Verse 18

Riches and honour [are] with me; [yea], durable riches and righteousness.

Riches and honour are with me. — I come not unaccompanied, but bring with me that which is well worth having. The muses, though Jupiter’s daughters, and well deserving, yet are said to have had no suitors, because they had no portions. Our Henry VIII, when he died, gave his two daughters, Mary and Elizabeth, but ten thousand pounds apiece. England’s Elisabeth. But this lady is largely endowed, and yet - such is men’s dulness - she is put to solicit suitors, by setting forth her great wealth. See Trapp on " Matthew 6:33 "

Verse 19

My fruit [is] better than gold, yea, than fine gold; and my revenue than choice silver.

My fruit is better than gold. — This wisdom is as those two golden pipes Zechariah 4:12 through which the two olive branches do empty out of themselves the golden oils of all precious graces into the candlestick, the Church; hence grace is here called "fruits," and "pleasant fruits," Song of Solomon 4:16 and "fruits of the Spirit." Galatians 5:22

Verse 20

I lead in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment:

I lead in the way of righteousness. — Which is to say, I got not my wealth per fas atque nefas, by right and wrong, by wrench and wile. My riches are not the riches of unrighteousness, "the mammon of iniquity"; Luke 16:9 but are honestly come by, and are therefore like to be "durable," Proverbs 8:18 or, as others render it, ancient. St Jerome somewhere saith, that most rich men are either themselves bad men, or heirs of those that have been bad. There is a profane proverb among us, Happy is that child whose father goes to the devil! It is reported of Nevessan the lawyer, that he should say, He that will not venture his body, shall never be valiant; he that will not venture his soul, never rich. But wisdom’s walk lies not any such way. God forbid, saith she, that I, or any of mine, should take of Satan, "from a thread even to a shoe latchet, lest he should say, I have made you rich." Genesis 14:23

Verse 21

That I may cause those that love me to inherit substance; and I will fill their treasures.

To inherit substance. — Heb., That which is; that which hath some tack or substance in it, some firmity, or solid consistency. "Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not?" Outward things are not, but only in opinion, in imagination; in semblance, not in substance. The pomp of this world is but a fancy, Acts 25:23 the glory of it a conceit, Matthew 4:8 the whole fashion of it a mere notion. 1 Corinthians 7:31 Riches get them great eagles’ "wings, they fly away," Proverbs 23:5 without once taking leave of the owner, leaving nothing but the print of their talons in his heart to torment him. When we grasp them most greedily, we embrace nothing but smoke, which wrings tears from our eyes, and vanisheth into nothing. Only true grace is "durable substance"; the "things above" outlast the days of heaven, and run parallel with the life of God, and line of eternity.

Verse 22

The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old.

The Lord possessed me. — Not created me, εκτησε εκτισε . as the Arians out of the Septuagint pressed it, to prove Christ a creature.

Before his works of old. — Heb., Ante opera sua, ante tunc; id est, priusquam quis dicere potest tunc; before there was any either now or then; before all time, therefore from all eternity. For whatsoever was before the world and time, that was created with the world, must needs be eternal.

Verse 23

I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.

I was set up.Coronata sum; I was crowned; so some render it. Inuncta fui, I was anointed - so others - for king, priest, and prophet of my Church. And to this high honour I grew not up by degrees, but had it presently from before all beginnings.

Verse 24

When [there were] no depths, I was brought forth; when [there were] no fountains abounding with water.

When there were no depths. — In mentioning God’s works of creation, some observe here, that wisdom proceeds from the lower elements to the superior and heavenly bodies: she begins with the earth, Proverbs 8:23 goes on here to the waters, and so to the air, called streets, rendered "fields," Proverbs 8:26 that is, the vast element of the air; which compared with the far less elements of earth and water, must needs seem exceedingly large, spacious, and open, as streets, or fields. Lastly, by "the highest part of the dust of the world," the Hebrew doctors understand the element of fire. Iudicium sit penes lectorem: let the reader judge.

Verse 25

Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth:

Was I brought forth. — Or, Begotten. Thus wisdom describes her eternity in human words and expressions, for our better apprehension. Which while Arius either knew not, or weighed not, he herehence took occasion to oppose the Deity of our Saviour, and to propagate that damnable error in the Eastern Churches, to the ruin of many souls. This arch-heretic Arius sitting on the stool to ease nature at Constantinople, voided there his entrails. And now Mohammedanism is there as the excrement of Arius.

Verse 26

While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world.

Nor the fields, nor the highest.See Trapp on " Proverbs 8:24 "

Verse 27

When he prepared the heavens, I [was] there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth:

When he prepared the heavens. — Or, Caused them to be prepared, took order to have it done, viz., by me, who was with him, and "by whom he made the worlds." Hebrews 1:1-14 : 3 John 1:3 Colossians 1:16 "For the Father loveth the Son, and hath put all things into his hand." John 3:35

When he set a compass. — Or, Drew a circle round about the earth, meaning the outspread firmament of heaven. Genesis 1:6 Howbeit the Hebrews understand it of the world of angels, called by them the third world, or the third heaven; whereunto St Paul also seems to allude in 2 Corinthians 12:2 .

Verse 28

When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep:

When he established the clouds above. — That they might be kept there, as it were in tuns and bottles, till he would have them to pour down their dew, or rain.

Verse 29

When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth:

When he appointed the foundations. — That it should remain unmoveable, though it hang in the air, as it were by geometry.

Terra pilae similis nullo fulcimine nixa,

Aere suspenso tam grave pendet onus. ” - Ovid.

Verse 30

Then I was by him, [as] one brought up [with him]: and I was daily [his] delight, rejoicing always before him;

Then I was by him. — Accursed then for ever be that blasphemous assertion of the Arians, ην οταν ουκ ην , There was a time when he was not. This scripture, so much abused by them, makes utterly against them. But heretics pervert the Scriptures, saith St Peter. 2 Peter 3:15 A metaphor from those who put a man upon the rack, and make him speak that which he never thought. Tertullian calls Marcion the heretic, Mus Ponticus, because of his arroding To gnaw or nibble at. and gnawing the Scripture, to make it serviceable to his errors.

As one brought up with him. — Or, As a nourisher; that is, as a maintainer and upholder of that his excellent workmanship of creation. Hebrews 1:3 The Septuagint render it, I was with him making all fine and trim, Eram apud eum aptans; ημην παρα αυτου αρμοζουσα - Sept. so Irenaeus.

Rejoicing always. — Or, Laughing More pueri qui alatur, et risum captans ac concilians. - Mercer. with him. This, as the very Jews are forced to confess, doth notably set forth that unspeakable sweetness and joy that the blessed God findeth in the apprehension of his own wisdom, which, say they, is one and the same with God himself.

Verse 31

Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights [were] with the sons of men.

Rejoicing in the habitable part. — That is, In the human nature, wherein the fulness of the Godhead dwelt bodily, by means of the hypostatical union. Or, In the saints, whose hearts the Lord Christ inhabiteth by faith. Or, In the work of creation, which Christ did without either tools or tool.

Verse 32

Now therefore hearken unto me, O ye children: for blessed [are they that] keep my ways.

Now therefore hearken unto me.Audite senem iuvenes, said Augustus to his seditious soldiers, and had audience: and shall not wisdom, that is so ancient, as before the creation, so eminent, as to make and conserve a world, so gracious with the Father, shall not she be hearkened to?

For blessed are they. — And blessedness is the mark that every man shoots at.

Verse 33

Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not.

Hear instruction, and be wise. — This way wisdom enters into the soul. Hear, therefore, for else there is no hope; hear, howsoever. Augustine, coming to Ambrose to have his ears tickled, had his heart touched.

Verse 34

Blessed [is] the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.

Waiting at the posts of my doors. — At the schools and synagogues, say the Hebrews, where men should come in with the first, and go forth with the last, as doorkeepers do, which was the office that David desired. Psalms 84:10

Verse 35

For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the LORD.

For whoso findeth me, findeth life. — Lest any man should hold it too hard a task to wait at wisdom’s gates - as princes’ guards, or as the Levites did in the temple - she tells them what they shall have for so doing.

And shall obtain favour. — Which is better than life. God’s favour is no empty favour; it is not like the winter’s sun, that casts a goodly countenance when it shines, but gives little heat or comfort. As air lights not without the sun, nor wood heats without fire, so neither can anything yield comfort without God’s favour.

Verse 36

But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death.

Wrongeth his own soul.Rapit animam suam. He plunders his own soul of its happiness; yea, he cruelly cuts the throat thereof, being ambitious of his own destruction.

Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 8". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jtc/proverbs-8.html. 1865-1868.
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