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Bible Commentaries
Proverbs 4

Poole's English Annotations on the Holy BiblePoole's Annotations



Solomon showeth the excellency of his doctrine, Proverbs 4:1-4. His counsel to get wisdom, Proverbs 4:5,Proverbs 4:6, and understanding, Proverbs 4:7. The honour which cometh thereby, Proverbs 4:8,Proverbs 4:9. The good effects of it, Proverbs 4:10-12. He dehorts from the paths of the wicked, by the evil consequences thereof, Proverbs 4:13-19; and exhorteth to keep several precepts for the better government of himself, Proverbs 4:20; concerning his eyes, Proverbs 4:21,Proverbs 4:22, his heart, Proverbs 4:23, his mouth, Proverbs 4:24, and his feet, Proverbs 4:25-27.

Verse 1

Of a father; of me your teacher, who have paternal authority over you, and affection to you.

Verse 2

Good doctrine; not vain, or foolish, or false, or pernicious counsels, but such as are true and profitable.

My law; God’s law or commands, delivered to you by my mouth. See Poole "Proverbs 3:1".

Verse 3

My father’s son, in a special manner; his best beloved son, and designed to be his successor in the throne.

Tender; young and tender in years, and capable of any impressions, and tenderly educated.

Only beloved, Heb. only, or the only son; or rather, because Bathsheba seems to have had other sons, 1 Chronicles 3:5, as an only son, as dearly beloved as an only son; in which sense this title is given to Isaac, Genesis 22:2,Genesis 22:12,Genesis 22:16, though he had another son, and to others. And all these circumstances are mentioned to show the necessity and great benefit of wholesome instruction, which his royal parents would not neglect, no, not in his tender years, and thereby to prepare and excite them by his example to receive instruction.

Verse 4

Said unto me: the following verses, at least as far as the 10th verse, are propounded as the words of David, that the name of so great a king and holy a prophet might add the more authority and efficacy to his counsels.

And live, i.e. thou shalt live. It is a promise in the form of a command, as Proverbs 3:25.

Verse 5

From the belief and practice of my word.

Verse 6

Love her; he intimates that it is not enough to do what is good, which may sometimes proceed from worldly or sinful motives, but that we must have a sincere and fervent more and more unto the perfect day; just men do daily love to it.

Verse 7

The principal thing; the most excellent of all possessions.

With all; even with the price of all, though it cost thee the loss of all which thou hast. Or, or among all. Whilst you labour for other things, do not neglect this.

Verse 8

Exalt her; let her have thine highest esteem and affection.

To honour, both with God and men; which Solomon knew by experience.

Verse 9

An ornament of grace, i.e. an acceptable or beautiful ornament, such as they used to put upon their heads.

Verse 11

In the way of wisdom; either

1. Which procureth wisdom. Or,

2. Which wisdom directeth thee to walk in.

Verse 12

Thy steps shall not be straitened; thou shalt manage thine affairs with great facility, and safety, and success. It is a metaphor from those who walk in a strait and uneven path, where they are apt to stumble and fall.

Not stumble; not miscarry.

Verse 13

The conductor, and preserver, and comfort of thy life.

Verse 14

Enter not into the path of the wicked; avoid their courses and company.

Go not; do not proceed further. If thou hast unadvisedly entered into it, do not persist in it, but get thee speedily out of it.

Verse 15

Avoid it, pass not by it; keep at a great distance from it. Compare Job 22:23; Proverbs 5:8.

Turn from it; shun all occasions of sin.

Verse 16

They sleep not; they cannot compose themselves to sleep with quietness and satisfaction to their own minds. To fall into their own snares, either into sin or into mischief.

Verse 17

They eat the bread of wickedness: the sense is either,

1. Wickedness is as necessary and as pleasant to them as their bread; which suits well with the former verse. Or,

2. They live wholly upon what they get by wicked courses; which gives the reason of what he last said, why they could not sleep without prey.

The wine of violence, i.e. gotten by violence. See on the former clause.

Verse 18

The path of the just is as the shining light; the common course of their lives or actions is pure and spotless, clear and certain, safe and comfortable, as light is.

That shineth more and more unto the perfect day; just men do daily more and more grow in knowledge, and grace, and consolation, until all be perfected and swallowed up in glory.

Verse 19

As darkness; full of gross ignorance and error, of uncertainty and confusion, of wickedness, of danger and misery; all which come under the name of darkness in Scripture use, and suit well with the context.

Stumble, Heb. shall stumble. Though they are always in danger, yet they are always secure, and do not discern their danger, nor the cause, or manner, or time of their ruin, till they be surprised with it.

Verse 21

Heartily love them, and stedfastly retain them,

Verse 23

Thy heart; thy mind and thoughts, and especially the will and affections, which are the more immediate and effectual cause of all men’s actions.

Out of it are the issues of life; from thence proceed all the actions, as of the natural, so of the spiritual life, which lead to eternal life and happiness; as, on the contrary, all evil actions tending to death spring from thence, which is here implied.

Verse 24

All sorts of sinful words, which proceed from and discover an evil heart.

Verse 25

Direct all thine actions by a good intention, to a right end, and keep thy mind fixed upon that way which leads to it, and neither look nor turn aside to the right hand nor to the left, as it follows, Proverbs 4:27.

Verse 26

Ponder the path of thy feet; consider thine actions before thou doest them, and see that they agree with the rule.

Let all thy ways be established; let thine actions be uniformly and constantly good in spite of all temptations to the contrary. Or, let thy ways be directed or disposed aright, as this Hebrew word signifies. Or, thy ways shall be established. So this is a promise to confirm the foregoing precept. If thou dost ponder them, thou mayst expect God’s blessing and good success in them.

Verse 27

Fly all extremes, and neither add to God’s commands, nor take from them.

Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Proverbs 4". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/mpc/proverbs-4.html. 1685.
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