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In Proverbs 2 the father is speaking again. In the previous chapter, he warned his son about the sin of violence. In this second chapter he warns his son for the second great sin, which is the sin of corruption. Thereby he emphatically presents the result of two ways or paths, which means the way of life and the way of death. It is not only about a life style, but also about where that very life style leads to.
The picture is that you walk on a road and arrive at a cross roads. There are two roads out of which you may choose. The one road looks attractive, sunny, easy, and flat. The other road seems difficult, there are threatening clouds above it, the first part is steep, and it is a narrow and slippery road. Neither road can you see where they come out, for somewhere in the distance there is a turn on the road. Which way do you choose now? It is of course tempting to choose the easy sunny road. But what do you find after the turn?
The father now tells in his wisdom what will come after the turn, because he knows that. In the case of the easy road, devouring lions and bears are to be found and with the hardly passable road it is a beautiful valley. The father is telling his son not to choose the road which leads to the devouring animals, but the road which leads to rest.
We live in a time when people do not think about the future. It is about how to gain money in an easy way, just like in the previous chapter, and to have an easy and pleasant life in the here and now, in this chapter. Young people do not worry about the future. It is all about enjoying pleasure here and now. Do not worry about problems until the time they really come up. It is the mentality of ‘seize the day’ and ‘let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die’. ‘Of course it is all over after death. Should it be the case that there is indeed something, then we shall see.’
The structure of this chapter is clear and remarkable:
1. In Pro 2:1-4 the father presents some conditions to his son. The conditions begin with the word “if”.
2. If he meets those conditions, the result will be blessings. Those blessings begin with the word “then” in Pro 2:5; 9.
3. In Pro 2:12; 16 the father tells from which two dangers his son will be saved if he listens to his advice.
4. he ultimate purpose is mentioned in Pro 2:20, which appears from the word “so” with which the verse begins.
In Hebrew this chapter is one long sentence which could be divided in six parts:
1. If you listen to wisdom and seek Her (Pro 2:1-4),
2. then the LORD will give you wisdom (Pro 2:5-8),
3. and you will enjoy and indulge the knowledge (Pro 2:9-11),
4. you will be preserved from the evil path, from those who enjoy the evil (Pro 2:12-15),
5. and you will be preserved from the temptation of easy sex (Pro 2:16-19),
6. with the result that you walk on the way of life, while the ungodly walk on the path that goes down, to death (Pro 2:20-22).
The content of this chapter is to be summarized in the word ‘preservation’ or ‘protection’.
If …, Then …
We can warn our children for certain matters in several ways or recommend them in several ways to pursue certain matters. It actually depends on our personal conviction with regard to those matters. If we ourselves are convinced, it will resonate in our voice. If we speak without conviction, it will also be noticed. We see here with the father, when he again speaks to his son, that he speaks with full conviction. After the serious words of Wisdom in the previous chapter he is much more motivated to make his son become aware of the value of wisdom.
His words contain an urgent call upon the mind and effort of his son to acquire wisdom. It is hereby important that the son has a mind which “receives his words” without any resistance and “treasures” his “commandments” within him (Pro 2:1). The words of the father have the authority of commandments. Those are not only recommendations or non-obligatory advices, but orders.
‘To receive’ and ‘treasure’ means that the words and commandments are accepted and treasured for later use (cf. Lk 2:19; 51; Psa 119:11). To treasure is stronger than to receive and it means to learn by heart. It should not stop with receiving. The father may offer and command, but the son has to receive and treasure. If he doesn’t receive and treasure the words and commandments that he hears from his father, he will hopelessly be destroyed in the labyrinth of the world which is full of violence and corruption.
The father doesn’t say that he has all the answers to the questions of life, but he tells his son where those answers are to be found, which is with “wisdom” (Pro 2:2). In that way he refers to the Lord Jesus. That also applies to us, with regard to God’s Word. The Word of God is the Word of Christ. It is important that we receive God’s words and commandments and treasure them in our hearts. Then our faith will not suffer shipwreck (1Tim 1:19).
In order to receive and treasure the words and commandments, we need an open ear and an open heart. The son should take note of wisdom with his ear, which means that he listens attentively to it. The heart is the inner man, out of which his whole person is being guided. The heart should be longing for “understanding”, which means to have the ability to discern between good and evil and then to choose for the good. This understanding can be acquired by reading and treasuring this book in the heart.
After he has presented the right attitude or mindset to the son, the father says to him, that he should cry “for discernment” and lift his voice “for understanding” (Pro 2:3). He lets that order to be preceded by a reinforcing “yes”. It is very essential that the son does that. It means that he ought to pray for it and do that powerfully. ‘To lift one’s voice’ is a reinforcing form of calling. It is calling with a loud voice. The son will surely do that when he becomes aware of the value of wisdom.
Then the son is not supposed to hang around waiting for an answer to his prayer with his arms crossed. He should get started himself. The father exhorts him to ‘seek’ and ‘search for’ (Pro 2:4). This is the essential condition in order to gain wisdom. It does not come naturally. He should be like a treasure hunter who spares no effort in his search for “silver” and “hidden treasures”. We should be treasure hunters towards wisdom.
The effort to gain wisdom is what we can call ‘discipline for the purpose of Godliness’ (1Tim 4:7b). That is worth a lot more than physical training (1Tim 4:8). The latter is something to which many people spend a lot of time, for they want so much to stay healthy. But the health of the spiritual life is much more important. And that is precisely wherein people invest so little. When the search for wisdom is our greatest joy, it is not a heavy order, but an order which we love to carry out.
The word “then” with which Pro 2:5 begins, is the answer to the conditional “if” in the previous verses. If the son does what is said in the previous verses, then he will receive what is said in this verse. He will then “discern the fear of the LORD”, which means that he will gain the understanding for it, understand what it means, that it is all about a life to God’s honor.
He will also “discover the knowledge of God”, which means that he will possess it, which will make him know God’s will and act accordingly. He will know how to express his respect towards the LORD in the everyday life. The promise of discovering in this verse is related to seek in Pro 2:4, according to the word of the Lord Jesus: “Seek and you will find” (Mt 7:7).
Wisdom That Protects
In the previous verses the father called upon his son to seek wisdom. Now he says that the LORD gives it (Pro 2:6). God is the source of wisdom. The search for wisdom leads to the LORD Himself. “After all”, all wisdom comes from Him. There is no wisdom outside of Him. When we listen to the words that He speaks, we hear “knowledge and understanding”, for those come out of His mouth. Listening to wisdom is listening to Him.
We are responsible to search for God’s wisdom in Christ. If we do that with a longing heart, God will give it to us. Here we find both the side of our responsibility and the side of God. If we seek, God will give (Mt 7:7). It comes down to the seeking of wisdom in the Word of God, which is in the words that He has spoken and fixed. Outside of the Word of God, apart from it, there is no wisdom to be found.
He has wisdom in store waiting, which He saves for each one who is upright and asks Him for it (Pro 2:7). He is “a shield” (Gen 15:1; Deu 33:29) to those who walk in integrity. He is their Guard. We first see the mind here (to be upright) and then the practice that connects to that mind (to walk in integrity).
He guards them with the purpose that the paths which they walk “are of justice” (Pro 2:8). God wants His own to be acting in accordance with justice, with what is just to Him. If they do that, it will also have the result that He will preserve their way. He does that with “His godly ones”, which are the faithful ones of His people, who are faithful to Him and who honor Him in their lives.
The results are beneficial. The son will develop intellectual ability and spiritual understanding, in order to discern “righteousness and justice” and “equity” (Pro 2:9; Pro 1:3). ‘To discern righteousness’ means that the son understands that he ought to give God what He is entitled to, just like he should give the people around him what they are entitled to. ‘To discern justice’ means that he understands that he should do the right thing. If he does the right or good thing, he is just. ‘Equity’ refers more to the inner man. It is the uprightness of the heart and to act out of it to honor and conscience. If these characteristics are with him, he will choose the right way and stick to it. “Every good course” is both the good lifestyle and doing what leads to the good.
Pro 2:10-11 explain why the son can go the right way which the previous verses deal with. That is because wisdom will enter his “heart”, his inner life (Pro 2:10). If wisdom dwells in the ‘direction room’ of life, then the right choices will be made and the right course will always be taken on which will be lived according to the values of righteousness, justice and equity (Pro 2:9).
Knowledge will become more pleasant to the “soul”, which refers more to the emotional life. If a person has wisdom in his heart, it has a direct impact on what is pleasant for the soul. In the soul there is a great desire to grow in the knowledge of God, in knowing and doing His will. There is a desire for the pure milk of God’s Word (1Pet 2:2), because the taste of it is so pleasant.
When there is wisdom in the heart and the knowledge is pleasant for the soul, then “discretion” and “understanding” or the ability to discern can fulfill their protecting role (Pro 2:11; Pro 1:4-5). The power of these virtues is actually guarding and protecting. He who is discrete and has understanding, will be kept from going the wrong way or let himself be tempted. Spontaneity is qualified as a virtue in our days, but this characteristic is often a source of misery. Discretion is something else than reluctance or hesitation. It implies consulting the Lord and others, in order to then act with conviction.
The father tells the son in the following verses what the wrong way is (Pro 2:12-15) and how the temptation to sin comes toward him (Pro 2:16-19).
Wisdom Delivers From the Way of Evil
In Pro 2:12 the father gives the first example of protection against evil. His son will not get on “the way of evil” when he lets himself to be guided by ‘discretion’ and ‘understanding’ (Pro 2:11). The way of evil is a wrong, sinful walk of life.
The second line of the verse indicates the wrong thing about it, which is listening to “the man who speaks perverse things”. That man is just as perverse as the things that he speaks. He comes to the youngster with false, distorted words, lies. He and what he speaks are in contrast to what is just and pure.
This man presents the son the easy, sunny path. But if wisdom has come into the heart of the son and knowledge is pleasant to his soul, he will not succumb to the temptation of that easy path. True wisdom that comes to expression in discretion and understanding, is the protection against listening to the fake wisdom of the man with his nice talking.
Pro 2:13-15 give a further description of this evil man and all evil men who speak perverse things. They show the kind of people that are in the path that they go. You see that they “leave the right way” (Pro 2:13). He who speaks perverse things does not go on the right paths, on the paths of the right, the paths of God.
They consciously choose to “go on the paths of darkness”. On their way the light is lacking. They do not know God and do not want to know Him. Therefore they do not walk in the light, but in the darkness of sin. That also indicates where they will end up: in the eternal darkness.
They find it wonderful to do evil, to sin (Pro 2:14). They take “pleasure in wickedness” (2Thes 2:12). It is so strong that they applaud when they see perverse things happen. We see that today more and more. The evil is being glorified. The dirtiest, filthiest drawings and the most debauched texts must be tolerated to be published. The freedom of speech is the most important thing. This right is never allowed to be sacrificed ever, even if God and all His commandments are being mocked in the most horrible way. The screaming crowd is running after it. The father warns his son about this mass hysteria.
Pro 2:15 describes their corrupt ways in different words. These arch villains are cunning and false in the paths that they walk. Here it also regards their whole behavior. They continually ignore the right paths. The way they live is not in any way coherent with the right paths. Nothing is in line with the path of God. If you follow their path, you will walk in darkness and you will end up in darkness. They follow the path of destruction, they leave behind them a trail of destruction and they end up in the eternal destruction.
The son needs wisdom to protect himself against these men. They turn the path of the Lord upside down and try to draw others in there. They do that by creating chaos with regard to what is good or evil. This is how the man without God loves it. But the son who allows himself to be led by discretion and understanding, stays far away from such people and their talks.
Wisdom Delivers From the Strange Woman
In Pro 2:16-19 we find the second group of evil persons from whom wisdom liberates or saves, which is the “strange woman”. The evil man about whom the father speaks in Pro 2:12-15 brings perversion; the evil woman makes sure that life becomes a ruin through a sneaky temptation. First it is described what kind of woman the lawless woman is (Pro 2:16-17). Then her downfall is shown as a warning, as well as the downfall of those who have subjected themselves to her (Pro 2:18-19).
In the following chapters we shall come across the strange woman more often. The word “strange” here means what is forbidden, what is to be strange to us. The strange woman is a woman that is forbidden to us. She lives outside the covenant of God, not according to the thoughts of God. It is about a woman, who is fornicating, who is “the adulteress” of the person with whom she commits adultery. That the father speaks about this with his son, may imply that this son is not a child anymore, but someone of about seventeen or eighteen years.
The temptation to commit fornication has always been a great danger to every man and it will remain to be like that. Every other woman than one’s own wife should, in sexual view, be ‘strange’. If we think of ‘our’ Christian youth, then the danger is not mainly the committing of violence-related crimes, like murders and robberies. But the other danger, which is fornication and adultery, is enormous. It becomes more and more exceptional in Christian circles that a young couple enters purely into marriage, meaning that they haven’t slept with one another yet (or with somebody else). And what to think of watching pornography on the internet? That is also a form of fornication.
The wisdom that has entered into the heart and the knowledge in which the soul delights (Pro 2:10), also save from the temptation of the strange woman (Pro 2:16). Just as the evil man, she starts with words. The evil man speaks perverse things; the evil woman uses flattering words. To flatter is not communicating, but to manipulate. She offers fun, which is the fun of easy sex.
The woman is unfaithful to “the covenant of her God” towards her husband. Her husband is “the companion of her youth” to whom she is married (Pro 2:17; Mal 2:14). Marriage is a covenant before the face of God, it is His covenant. He has ordained the covenant of marriage. He who tramples down that covenant, despises “what God has joined together” (Mt 19:6). Whoever despises that covenant of marriage, despises its Giver. The adulterous woman departs from both God and her husband and sins both against God and against her husband by breaking shamelessly her oath of marriage.
The father tells his son the reason why he is not to allow himself to be dragged by her flattering words. That is because he then enters into her house, “for” that house is a house which sinks down to death (Pro 2:18). Her house is a house that views over death; it is an entrance gate to death. Therefore he plays with his life when he gets involved with her. He will get the opposite of the lucky life that she is mirroring to him. The tracks of the life she lives, lead to the place of “the dead”.
Whoever enters into her house and comes to her, will be caught completely in her power (Pro 2:19). She will play her dark obscure, demonic game on him and will not let him go anymore. Everyone who comes into her house, will not escape from it. Perhaps he may literally go outside the door, but a tie has been wrapped around his soul, which connects him to death. The paths of the ones who are alive, which are the paths that lead to life and where life is being enjoyed, have been cut off for him, so that they are not to be reached by him anymore. This horrible end can only be prevented when the son allows himself to be guided on his life path by the two guards of Pro 2:11 that bear the name of ‘discretion’ and ‘understanding’.
The sin of adultery and fornication is presented here in the ultimate consequence. It is the law of reaping what a man sows (Gal 6:7-8). Whoever goes this way, should consider this. There is no mention about the grace of God here. It is a good thing to point to that particularly, for a moment. God is able to intervene when a person confesses his sins and stops sinning. God is a God of grace and is able to redeem from the deepest darkness. That is something everyone can count on for sure, who goes to God with sincere repentance of his or her sins. Thereby one should consider that God not always takes away all the consequences. If there is ‘a consequence damage’ of a wrong path, He will surely help to carry it through.
Wisdom Leads to the Way of Good Men
Wisdom saves from the evil man and the evil woman; it saves from the way to death and the dead. But it should not stop there. After taking distance from the evil, a closer move should be taken to the good. That is what Wisdom does thereafter. She leads to the way of good and righteous men (Pro 2:20).
We also read in the New Testament about both these sides, those of rejecting the evil and joining the right. First the appeal sounds to everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord, to withdraw from injustice; then the exhortation follows to join all who have done that already (2Tim 2:19-22). Therefore the son should not only stay away from the evil men, but he also should start to accompany the good men.
If the son joins the company “of the good men” and “of the righteous”, he is also one of “the upright” who will “live in the land” (Pro 2:21). Here the father refers to a certain, coming, blessing (“for”). We have a prophetic statement here, regarding the millennial kingdom of peace. In that time of blessing under the government of the Messiah, the upright, which are the God-fearing people, will live in the land. Then the kingdom of peace has come and the earth will be their home, where they will live in peace and righteousness (cf. Mt 5:5).
In Pro 2:22, the part of the ungodly is presented as a contrast – which is indicated by the word “but”. At the moment they are still in control on earth. They are still enjoying sin. But they will not partake of the blessing in the kingdom of peace. When the Messiah returns to the earth to establish the kingdom of peace, first “the wicked will be cut off from the land”. They have never considered God ever and have no part in the kingdom of peace.
There is another category mentioned, which is that of the “treacherous”. They have outwardly been in connection to God, but have become unfaithful to Him; they have fallen away from Him. Their part is that they will “be uprooted” from the land, which they have claimed for themselves, which indicates that it will happen with great power.
This last verse is an extra warning for the son not to get involved with wicked and unfaithful people. He wouldn’t want to partake of their fate and miss the blessing of wisdom, would he?
Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Proverbs 2". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 8 / Ordinary 13