by Robert Hawker
THE BOOK OF PROVERBS
IT is remarkable that in the three sacred books, of which this is one of them, written by Solomon, he sends each forth under three different titles. Here he calls himself the son of David, king of Israel. The book of Ecclesiastes, he stiles the words of the Preacher, and therein he takes the name of the King of Jerusalem. And in the Canticles, after speaking in the title page of the excellency of it, he only puts his name of Solomon.
Various have been the opinions of holy men of old, concerning the time in which those portions of inspired scripture have been sent forth. Some have thought that the whole were written when be was near death. And others have said that the book of the Songs was written first, and the book of Ecclesiastes last; but this is certainly contrary to the order in which they are placed in the Bible, perhaps about 980 years before Christ.
I do not think it necessary to dwell at all upon the character of Solomon, because the Holy Ghost hath very largely given his history in its proper place; and the uses to be made of his history are also very plainly marked out; so that everything on this ground is superseded.
The period in which this book of God was written, it cannot be difficult to ascertain. The age of the church in which Solomon lived will serve to shew very nearly the time in which those precious sentences and maxims were committed to writing. What is said of him in one of the books of the Kings, may satisfy that it was at the time when his faculties were most bright and shining, when he spoke of trees from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon, to the hyssop that springeth out of the wall; and there came of people to hear him. The book of the Proverbs itself, seems to be a collection of the. most approved things' but eminently so as pointing in many parts to the Person and office of Christ; so that as we pass though the holy volume, in the perusal of it, and discover, through the Spirit's teaching, the leading features of Jesus: we are frequently constrained to cry out, A greater than Solomon is here.
I shall only detain the Reader, before he enters upon the perusal, to observe that this book of instruction receives great sanction and authority from the Lord Jesus, as to the mode that is here adopted of conveying divine truths. So much was it the custom of the East to teach in this way, that it was the universal maxim, And in conformity to it, our adored Lord at one time, delivered his discourses so much in parables, that we are told, without a parable space he not unto them. I only pray Him, who is the Almighty Teacher in his church, that while we read this and every other of the sacred books of God, he may so graciously give to us a right understanding in all things, that while to others it is only in parables, to us may be given, to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven; and that in that knowledge and enjoyment, we may find the same grace as was imparted to his disciples when he said, Blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear.
the Third Sunday after Easter