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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Proverbs 9

 

 

Verse 1

Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars:

Proverbs 9:1-18.-Wisdom's preparations of her house and her banquet for the quests whom she invites by her maidens (Proverbs 9:1-3). To whom she gives invitation, and to what (Proverbs 9:4-5). Necessary preliminary to accepting it-namely, forsake the foolish, lest ye become scorners, seeing that reproof is thrown away upon a scorner, and is laid out to good account by the wise alone (Proverbs 9:6-9). Wisdom's first principle is the fear of the Lord, which issues in life for the benefit of the wise; while the fool's scorning shall fall on himself (Proverbs 9:10-12). Folly, too, gives her clamorous invitation in the high places, tempting passers by with the sweets of stolen waters, but not letting them know that the issue is death and hell (Proverbs 9:13-18).

Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars. As the latter part of Proverbs 8:1-36 refers to Wisdom's work in the creation of the world, so this chapter refers to her work in restoring it. Solomon here reverts to the invitation of wisdom at the beginning of Proverbs 8:1-36. The Hebrew is plural, Wisdoms, (Proverbs 1:20, margin.) The plural expresses her excellence and dignity-having also an allusion to the plural form of the name of God, 'Elohiym (Hebrew #430). Her "house" stands in contrast to the house of the harlot (Proverbs 7:8). The spiritual and everlasting Church is her house (1 Timothy 3:15; Matthew 16:18; Ephesians 2:20-22; 1 Peter 2:5). Solomon's temple, with its pillars (1 Kings 6:1-38 and

7) was a type of it. Now the body of true believers, having the Holy Spirit in their hearts, constitute her house (1 Corinthians 3:17). The "house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens," is the consummation (2 Corinthians 5:1). In its banquet (Proverbs 9:2) is laid out for all who will come (Psalms 23:5; Psalms 36:8; Isaiah 25:6; Isaiah 55:1-2). "Her seven pillars," in the Hebrew are the pillars, not of her house, but of herself. Seven is the number for perfection. They are the manifold and complete stays whereon Wisdom rests; especially the seven-fold grace of the Holy Spirit, which is in Messiah without measure, and whereby He establishes forever His Church (Isaiah 11:2-3; Revelation 1:4). In so far as He imparts his seven-fold Spirit to the ministers of His Church, in that degree they become "pillars" (Galatians 2:9 ).


Verse 2

She hath killed her beasts; she hath mingled her wine; she hath also furnished her table.

She hath killed her beasts - Hebrew, immolated her immolation; sacrificial language. All the blessedness of the heavenly marriage supper of the Lamb rests on His previous immolation (Revelation 19:9; Matthew 22:2-3; Matthew 8:11; Luke 14:15-16; Luke 22:30). Contrast the banquet of the "peace offerings" of the harlot (Proverbs 7:14).

She hath mingled her wine - namely, with spices and other exhilarating ingredients, as was the custom in the East (Song of Solomon 8:2). Not with water, which is the emblem of degeneracy (Isaiah 1:22).

She hath also furnished her table - the joys prepared in heaven for them that love heavenly Wisdom.


Verse 3

She hath sent forth her maidens: she crieth upon the highest places of the city,

She hath sent forth her maidens: she crieth upon the highest places of the city - literally, 'upon the pinnacles of the high places of the city.' "Her maidens" - i:e., the ministers of the Word. As Wisdom is represented under the image of a pure woman, so the ministers of heavenly Wisdom are represented as pure maidens. The minister is to wait upon His Lord, 'as the eyes of a maiden look unto the hand of her mistress' (Psalms 123:2; cf. 2 Corinthians 11:2; Matthew 25:1). On the 'sending forth' (Proverbs 9:3) cf. Romans 10:15. "She crieth upon the highest places," that all may hear, and none be able to allege in excuse that he had not heard the voice of Wisdom. If the ministers of worldly Folly 'seat themselves in the high places,' so as to attract all to their fatal vanities, how much more should the ministers of heavenly Wisdom proclaim the message of salvation wherever they can be heard by the greatest numbers.


Verse 4

Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him,

Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: (as for) him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him. The "simple" are those of whose reformation there is hope; because it is by bad advice and their own inexperience that they are misled, not by malice prepense. They are not hardened against holy things and holy persons, like the "scorner" (Proverbs 9:7). How marvelous is the grace of God, that stoops from the height of His infinite wisdom to offer mercy and knowledge to the simple and foolish! All that He requires is, that they give ear to Him.


Verse 5

Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled.

Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine (which) I have mingled. The feast is not to see, but to enjoy (Bridges). 'The bread of wisdom' is the bread of life. The 'wine mingled' with aromatic spices is the exhilarating joy and comforts of the Gospel (Isaiah 55:1; Matthew 26:29).


Verse 6

Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding.

Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding. Forsake the company and the ways of the foolish (the same word is translated "simple," Proverbs 1:22), and so you shall live; no longer the life of the beast that perisheth, but that of a man (Proverbs 4:4). "And go in the way of understanding" - spiritual understanding. This explains the previous figure - "eat of my breast," etc. (Proverbs 9:5).


Verse 7

He that reproveth a scorner getteth to himself shame: and he that rebuketh a wicked man getteth himself a blot.

He that reproveth a scorner getteth to himself shame ... a blot. The "foolish," or, Hebrew, "simple," are in danger of becoming "scorners;" whence the two classes appear together in Proverbs 1:22. Therefore the "simple" must leave the company of simpletons, much more leave the company of the "scorners," in order to "live" by 'going in the way of understanding' (Proverbs 9:6). This verse and Proverbs 9:8 is a hint also to the inviting "maidens" (Proverbs 9:3), i:e., ministers, not to 'cast their pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend' the offerers (Matthew 7:6). "Getteth to himself shame ... a blot" - namely, the blot of abuse and reviling: so far is he from doing the scorner any good, he gives occasion to the scorner only to sin the worse.


Verse 8

Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.

Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee. The "Gospel" is indeed to be "preached unto every creature" (Mark 16:15), and ministers are to "reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all long-suffering." (2 Timothy 4:2); and "they that sin" are to be "rebuked before all, that others may fear" (1 Timothy 5:20). So the Lord Jesus. Stephen, and Paul reproved the perverse Jews. But after the hearers of the message have hardened themselves continually against it, and resisted the Holy Spirit, then further admonition would be lost labour, and would only bring increased scorn upon the admonisher. Compare Paul's course in respect to the obdurate and blaspheming Jews (Acts 13:45-46). 'Medicine is not to be given where the case is desperate' (Hippocrates). If there were any possibility of our gaining over the scorner, it would be our duty to brave the risk of his hatred; but if we are only likely to stir up his badness, and bring injury to ourselves, and exasperation of our tempers, without benefit to him, we should abstain from reproving him.

Rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee - (Psalms 141:5) The world thinks him a fool who takes reproof meekly. But he is wise who values the bitter medicine that removes his spiritual sickness. Hereby "the foolish" (Proverbs 9:6) becomes "wise" and "just."


Verse 9

Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.

Give (instruction) to a wise (man), and he will be yet wiser. On the ellipsis of "instruction," or doctrine, to be supplied after "give," cf. Proverbs 4:2; Luke 1:77. Probably Solomon intentionally omitted the noun after "give," to leave the reader to supply reproof, instruction, discipline, and all other means of improvement. Nothing more marks the distinction between the scorner and the wise man than the effect of discipline on each: the scorner becomes worse, the wise man better by it.

Teach a just (man), and he will increase in learning. The "just" in practice and in will is the same as "the wise" in understanding and in theory. Just does not mean absolute justness, but that of aim and tendency (Matthew 5:48; Philippians 3:12-13).


Verse 10

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.

The fear of the Lord (is) the beginning of wisdom - repeated from Proverbs 1:7. Having furnished her table, Wisdom shows the viands first, the fear of the Lord.

And the knowledge of the Holy (is) understanding. "The knowledge of the Holy" is the knowledge of all that is involved in hallowing God's name; knowing experimentally all that tends to our sanctifying the Lord in our hearts and in life. The parallelism to "The fear of the Lord" favours our taking the Hebrew Kedoshim for "the holy God," (Proverbs 30:3; note, Hosea 11:12, margin.) The same plural is used as the epithet of God in Joshua 24:19. Its plural form, like 'Elohiym (Hebrew #430), implies the Trinity (cf. Leviticus 11:44; Leviticus 19:2).


Verse 11

For by me thy days shall be multiplied, and the years of thy life shall be increased.

For by me thy days shall be multiplied, and the years of thy life shall be increased. A cogent reason why we should take the beginning step of wisdom; namely, by fearing the Lord (Proverbs 9:10). As eating bread (Proverbs 9:5) nourishes natural life, so eating the spiritual bread of life gives life in the highest and truest sense.


Verse 12

If thou be wise, thou shalt be wise for thyself: but if thou scornest, thou alone shalt bear it.

If thou be wise, thou shalt be wise for thyself: but (if) thou scornest, thou alone shalt bear (it) - (Galatians 6:5.) It is not me, Wisdom, nor my maidens (i:e., inviting ministers), that thou hurtest by scorning, but thyself (Proverbs 8:36; Luke 7:30; Job 35:6-8). On the other hand, the benefit will be all thine own if thou be spiritually "wise" (Daniel 12:3). Thou shelf not toil for vanity, as those who amass earthly riches (Ecclesiastes 2:18-19; Ecclesiastes 4:8).


Verse 13

A foolish woman is clamorous: she is simple, and knoweth nothing.

A foolish woman (is) clamorous; (she is) simple, and knoweth nothing. As Wisdom was personified as a woman, so is Folly - i:e., sin. As Christ corresponds to Wisdom (Proverbs 8:22-31), so Antichrist answers to Folly, and is represented by the "whore" sitting on the "seven mountains," as the foolish woman sits "on a seat in the high places of the city" (Proverbs 9:14; Revelation 17:1-9), impudent, wanton, alluring, corrupting, and ruining everlastingly her victims. In proportion as "she knoweth nothing" as she ought to know it, is she "clamourous." Fools are often the loudest talkers. So Satan is ever restless (Luke 11:24), and like a roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8). "She is simple," not artless (cf. Proverbs 7:10; Proverbs 7:12; Proverbs 7:21), but utterly destitute of true wisdom, answering to "she knoweth nothing." Perhaps the sense is 'seductive,' which answers better to the cunning of the foolish woman [ p


Verse 14

For she sitteth at the door of her house, on a seat in the high places of the city,

For she sitteth at the door of her house, on a seat in the high places of the city - even as Wisdom cries "in the top of the high places ... upon the highest places of the city" (Proverbs 9:3; Proverbs 8:2), and 'at the coming in at the doors.' The Hebrew for "seat" means 'throne,' whereas in Proverbs 9:3 it was 'pinnacles;' probably with allusion to the ostentation and kingly pomp of Antichrist (cf. note, Proverbs 9:13; Revelation 18:7, "I sit a queen;" 2 Thessalonians 2:4, "He, as God, sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God").


Verse 15

To call passengers who go right on their ways:

To call passengers who go right on their ways - literally, 'who are making right their ways.' Her chief aim is to seduce the godly, or those inclined to become so; because she is secure as to others, and therefore takes no great trouble in their case.


Verse 16

Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: and as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him,

Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: and as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him. Folly imitates the very words of Wisdom. She also does not invite "the scorners" (Proverbs 9:7-8), because she is secure of them, but only the "simple" - i:e., those who are such in the judgment of the Holy Spirit. Scripture expresses not what she said in outward words (for she would not defeat her own design by calling them simpletons), but what is the reality. Whosoever turns in to her is a simpleton. Cartwright takes it that she calls the pious "simple." Proverbs 9:15 favours this. "Passengers who go right on their ways" - i:e., who are going right onward in tile heavenly way. 'Oh what simpletons ye are to despise the goods of the present life, to crucify the flesh, and to incur the hatred of men for no good reason! Christ offers you poor things-I will make you great and happy.'


Verse 17

Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.

Stolen waters are sweet, and bread (eaten) in secret is pleasant - (cf. the answer to her lure, Proverbs 9:18; Proverbs 20:17.) Wisdom sets forth her bread (Proverbs 9:5) openly before all. But Folly invites to bread surreptitiously eaten. Contrast with the "stolen waters" of love, or of any heart lust, Proverbs 5:15, "Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well." Our corruption is such that the very prohibition enhances the pleasure (Rom. 4:15; 20:7-8 ) ('Nitimur in vetitum semper, cupimusque negata.' Ovid.) The difficulty, the rareness, the love of deceit, all whet the appetite for "stolen waters." The saint resists the temptation. Compare the case of David desiring the waters of Bethlehem, but refusing to take them when procured at the risk of the lives of the three who broke through the host of the Philistines (2 Samuel 23:15-17). Folly's "waters" stand in contrast to Wisdom's spiced "wine" (Proverbs 9:2; Proverbs 9:5).


Verse 18

But he knoweth not that the dead are there; and that her guests are in the depths of hell.

But he knoweth not that the dead (are) there; and that her guests (are) in the depths of hell. "There", in her house (Proverbs 7:21-23; Proverbs 7:26-27). "He" is 'whoso turneth in' to her (Proverbs 9:16). "Her guests" - literally, 'her invited ones.'

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Proverbs 9:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/proverbs-9.html. 1871-8.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, December 10th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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