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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
Proverbs 1

 

 

Verse 1

Proverbs 1:1 The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel;

Ver. 1. The Proverbs.] Or, Master sentences; maxims, axioms, speeches of special precellence and predominance; received rules (a) that must overrule matters, and mightily prevail in the minds of men. The principal, no doubt, they are of those three thousand mentioned in 1 Kings 4:32, and far beyond those golden sayings (b) of Phocylides (profanely preferred before those holy parables by that apostate Julian, ausu nefario), as having in them more sentences than words, (c) and being so far above all human praise for weight and worth, that, as Salust writes of Carthage, I had better speak nothing of them than too little, since too much is too little.

Of Solomon.] Who better, a deal, deserves to be styled "Master of the sentences" than Peter Lombard; and to be esteemed πανσοφος και παντα ανθρωπεια επισταμενος, as one (d) saith of Homer; or as another saith of Jerome, that he was a man, quem nullum scibile latuit, that knew all that was knowable by a man.

King of Israel.] King in Jerusalem, [Ecclesiastes 1:1] which was now the Israel of Israel, as Athens was, in its flourish, said to be the Greece of Greece; (e) yea, the soul, and sun, and eye of Greece; (f) yea, the common school of all mankind. (g) For King Solomon exceeded all the kings of the earth both in riches and in wisdom. "And all the world sought to Solomon, to hear his wisdom, which God had put into his heart." [1 Kings 10:24] For "the more wise the preacher was, the more he taught the people knowledge, and caused them to hear, and searched forth many parables"; {Ecclesiastes 12:9, marg.} even "words of delight." {Proverbs 1:10, marg.} {See Trapp in "Proverbs 1:10"}


Verse 2

Proverbs 1:2 To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding;

Ver. 2. To know wisdom.] That is, To give others to know; to wise them, as in Daniel 12:3; to give the knowledge of salvation; [Luke 1:77] to show men "great and mighty things which they know not," [Jeremiah 33:3] but may here hence be taught better than out of Lipsius’s Beehive or Machiavel’s Spider web.


Verse 3

Proverbs 1:3 To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity;

Ver. 3. To receive the instruction.] Tertullian calls the Bible (and the Proverbs by a specialty) nostra digesta, from the lawyers; and others our pandects, (a) from them also. Is there not a thin veil laid over them, which is more ratified by reading, and at last wholly worn away? Surely as by much reading the statute book men grow worldly wise; and as a friend (it is Chrysostom’s comparison) that is acquainted with his friend will get out the meaning of a letter or phrase which another could not that is a stranger, so it is in Scripture. And herein, as one well observeth, the poorest idiot being a sound Christian, goeth beyond the profoundest clerks that are not sanctified, that he hath his own heart instead of a commentary to help him to understand even the most needful points of the Scripture.


Verse 4

Proverbs 1:4 To give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion.

Ver. 4. To give subtilty.] Serpentine subtilty, [Genesis 3:1] sacred sagacity, a sharp wit, a deep reach, a Spirit that "searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God," [1 Corinthians 2:10] and transformeth a man "into the same image from glory to glory." [2 Corinthians 3:18] Equidem scio multos esse qui hoc non credant, et non paucos qui ea rideant, nosque insanire arbitrentur, saith Peter Martyr, (a) sed istos rogatos velim, &c.: that is, I know well there be many that will not believe it, and not a few that will deride it, and think we are mad in ascribing so much to the Scriptures. But oh that they would be entreated to make trial awhile, and to take to the reading of the Bible! Male mihi sit (ita enim in tanta causa iurare ausim) nisi tandem capiantur: sentient denique quantum divina hac ab humanis distent, &c. Let me never be believed, if they perceive not a plain and palpable difference between these and all human writings whatsoever. And to the same purpose Erasmus, (b) expertus sum in meipso, saith he, I can speak it by experience, that there is little good to be gotten by reading the Bible cursorily and carelessly; but do it duly and dillgently, with attention and affection, and you shall find such an efficacy as is to be found in no other book that can be named.

To the simple.] Fatuo, פחא, fatuello - Lipsius’s diminutive; to the silly simple, whose learning hangs not in his light, who holds not himself too wise to be taught, who is not uncounsellable, unpersuadable. Bis desipit qui sibi sapit; { c} he is two fools that is wise in his own eyes. [Proverbs 3:7] Plurima ignoro, sed ignorantiam meam non ignoro. Little though it be that I know, yet this I know, that I know but little.

To the young man.] Though rude and rash, headlong and headstrong, (d) untameable and untractable as "a wild ass’s colt"; [Job 11:12] though addicted to "youthful lusts," [2 Timothy 2:22] and madly set upon sin, yet he may "cleanse his ways by cleaving to God’s word," [Psalms 119:9 Ecclesiastes 11:10] and become a young saint, an old angel; whereas otherwise, like young lapwings, he is apt to be snatched up by every buzzard.


Verse 5

Proverbs 1:5 A wise [man] will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels:

Ver. 5. A wise man will hear.] Hearing and seeing are by Aristotle called "the learned senses," because by these doors learning, yea, life, entereth into the soul. [Isaiah 55:3] David Chytraeus, when he lay dying, lifted up himself to hear the discourses of his friends that sat by him, and said that he should die with better cheer if he might die learning something. (a)

And will increase learning.] "Take heed what you hear: unto you that hear shall more be given." [Mark 4:24] {See Trapp on "Mark 4:24"} Only ponder and apply what you hear. For they that do otherwise are like the wolf, who never attain to any more divine learning than to spell Pater ; father, but when they should come to put together, and to apply it to their souls, they say agnus , lamb, - their minds running a-madding after the profits and pleasures of the world, and they thinking those little less than mad that "run to and fro to increase knowledge." [Daniel 12:4]


Verse 6

Proverbs 1:6 To understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings.

Ver. 6. To understand a proverb, and the interpretation.] Or, The sweetness thereof; there being nothing so sweet to a good soul as the knowledge of dark and deep mysteries. See Psalms 119:103 where the same word is used. (a) The little book of the Revelation was in John’s mouth sweet as honey. [Revelation 10:9-10] {See Trapp on "Revelation 10:9"} {See Trapp on "Revelation 10:10"}

And their dark sayings.] Dark to those that are acute obtusi, that have not their "senses exercised to discern both good and evil." [Hebrews 5:14] Legum obscuritates non assignemus culpae scribentium sed inscitiae non assequentium, saith he in Gellius. If the law be dark to any, the fault is not in the lawgiver, but in those that should better understand it.


Verse 7

Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of knowledge: [but] fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Ver. 7. The fear of the Lord is the beginning.] Or, The chief and principal point (a) of wisdom, as the word here signified; yea, wisdom itself. [Job 28:28] This Solomon had learned by the instruction of his father, as it is in the next verse, who had taught it him of a child, [Proverbs 4:4 Psalms 111:10] and therefore sets it here in the beginning of his works as the beginning of all. As in the end he makes it the end of all, [Ecclesiastes 12:13] yea, the all of man, (b) without which he counts him not a complete man, though never so wise to the world ward. Heathen sages, as Seneca, Socrates, &c., were wise in their generation, and had many excellent gifts, but they missed of the main; there was no fear of God before their eyes: being herein as alchemists, who miss of their end, but yet find many excellent things by the way. These merchants found goodly pearls, but "the pearl of price" [Matthew 13:45-46] they failed of. The prophet calls the fear of God "our treasure." [Isaiah 33:6]

But fools despise.] Fools; so are all such as fear not God, "being abominable, disobedient, and to every good work reprobate," or injudicious. [Titus 1:16] Evil is Hebrew for a fool; Nebulo of Nabal; fool of Fαυλος. When one highly commended the Cardinal Julian to Sigismund, he answered, Tamen Romanus est; yet he is a popeling. So, yet he is a fool, because void of God’s true fear. "Behold they have rejected the word of the Lord, and what wisdom is in them?" [Jeremiah 8:9]


Verse 8

Proverbs 1:8 My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother:

Ver. 8. Hear the instruction of thy father, &c.] It is not fit to disobey God, thy father, nor thy teacher, saith Aristotle (a) Our parents, said Hierocles, are Yεοι εφεστιοι, our household gods: and their words should be received as oracles. This is a principal fruit of the fear of God, which it here fitly followeth: like as in the decalogue, the commandment for honouring of parents is set next of all to those of the first table, nay, is indeed, as Philo saith of it, ειτολη μικτη, a mixed commandment.


Verse 9

Proverbs 1:9 For they [shall be] an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck.

Ver. 9. For they shall be an ornament.] "A man’s wisdom maketh his face to shine." [Ecclesiastes 8:1] Tum pietate gravem, &c. (a) Oυ το χρυσος ουτε αδαμας ουτως αστραπτει. (b) Neither gold nor precious stone so glittereth, saith Plato, as the prudent mind of a pious person. Nothing so beautifies as grace doth. Moses and Joseph were "fair to God," [Acts 7:20] and favoured of all men. A crown of gold, a chain of pearl, are no such ornaments as are here commended.


Verse 10

Proverbs 1:10 My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not.

Ver. 10. If sinners entice thee.] To an ill bargain; to a match of mischief, as Ahab did Jehoshaphat, as Potiphar’s wife would have done Joseph; and truly, that he yielded not, was no less a wonder, than that those three worthies burnt not in the midst of the fiery furnace. But as the sunshine puts out fire, so did the fear of God the fire of lust.

Consent thou not.] But carry a severe rebuke in thy counteuance, as God doth. [Psalms 80:16] To rebuke them is the ready way to be rid of them.


Verse 11

Proverbs 1:11 If they say, Come with us, let us lay wait for blood, let us lurk privily for the innocent without cause:

Ver. 11. If they say.] The dragon bites the elephant’s ear, and thence sucks his blood; because he knows that to be the only place that he cannot reach with his trunk to defend. So deal the red dragon and his angels: "with good words and fair speeches they deceive the hearts of the simple" [Romans 16:18] "With her much fair speech she caused him to yield, with the flattering of her lips she forced him." [Proverbs 7:21]

Come with me.] If sinners have their "Come," should not saints much more? "Come, let us go up to the house of the Lord." [Isaiah 2:3] "Come, let us walk in the light of the Lord." [Isaiah 2:5] "Let us go speedily to pray before the Lord, and to seek the Lord of hosts; I will go also." [Zechariah 8:21] Should we not incite, entice, whet, and "provoke (a) one another," [Hebrews 10:24] "sharpen" and extimulate, [Proverbs 27:17] rouse and "stir up" (b) each other to love and good works? [2 Peter 1:13]


Verse 12

Proverbs 1:12 Let us swallow them up alive as the grave; and whole, as those that go down into the pit:

Ver. 12. Let us swallow them up alive.] As the devil doth. [1 Peter 5:8 2 Timothy 2:26] Homo homini demon. The poor Indians have been heard to say, it had been better that their country had been given to the devils of hell than to the Spaniards; and that if the cruel Spaniards go to heaven when they die, they, for their parts, desire not to come there.


Verse 13

Proverbs 1:13 We shall find all precious substance, we shall fill our houses with spoil:

Ver. 13. We shall find all precious substance.] But those that rake together, rem, rem, quocunque modo rem, that count all good fish that comes to net, will in the end catch the devil and all.

Fill our houses with spoil] Not considering that they "consult shame to their houses by cutting off many people, and sinning against their own souls." [Habakkuk 2:10] He that brings home a pack of cloths infected with plague, hath no such great booty of it.


Verse 14

Proverbs 1:14 Cast in thy lot among us; let us all have one purse:

Ver. 14. Let us all have one purse.] How much better were a wallet to beg from door to door, than such a cursed hoard of evil gotten goods!


Verse 15

Proverbs 1:15 My son, walk not thou in the way with them; refrain thy foot from their path:

Ver. 15. Walk not thou in the way with them.] "God will not take the wicked by the hand." [Job 8:20] Why then should we? "Gather not my soul with sinners," saith David. [Psalms 26:9] "O Lord, let me not go to hell where the wicked are: for Lord, thou knowest I never loved their company here," said a good gentlewoman, when she was to die, being in much trouble of conscience.


Verse 16

Proverbs 1:16 For their feet run to evil, and make haste to shed blood.

Ver. 16. For their feet run to evil.] By the abuse of their locomotive faculty, given them to a better purpose. They "run," as if they should not come time enough; they take long strides toward the burning lake, which is now but a little before them.


Verse 17

Proverbs 1:17 Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird.

Ver. 17. Surely in vain the net.] Which is to say, Silly birds pick up the meat, but see not the net, and so become a prey to the fowler. If the fruits of the flesh grow out of the trees of your hearts, saith blessed Bradford, (a) surely, surely the devil is at inn with you; you are his birds, whom when he hath well fed, he will broach you, and eat you, chew you, and champ you, world without end, in eternal woe and misery.


Verse 18

Proverbs 1:18 And they lay wait for their [own] blood; they lurk privily for their [own] lives.

Ver. 18. And they lay wait.] Their sin will surely find them out. "No doubt this man is a murderer," said those barbarians, [Acts 28:4] "whom though he had escaped the sea, yet vengeance suffereth not to live." (a) "Surely I have seen yesterday the blood of Naboth." [2 Kings 9:26] Murder ever bleeds fresh in the eye of God; to him many years, yea, that eternity that is past, is but yesterday.


Verse 19

Proverbs 1:19 So [are] the ways of every one that is greedy of gain; [which] taketh away the life of the owners thereof.

Ver. 19. Which taketh away the life.] The greater wealth, the greater spoil awaits a man: as a tree with thick and large boughs, every man desires to lop him. Trithemius writeth that the Templars, at the request of Philip, King of France, were put down and extinct, upon the pretext of heresy; but indeed, because they were rich, and Philip sore longed after their possessions. Cyprus for its great wealth became a spoil to the Roman’s auri sacra fames, &c. Dεινος και παντολμος της φιλοχρηματιας ερως. (a) Covetousness is daring and desperate: it rides without reins, as Balaam did after the wages of wickedness, "the mammon of iniquity." [Luke 16:9]


Verse 20

Proverbs 1:20 Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets:

Ver. 20. Wisdom.] Heb., Wisdoms: that is, the most absolute and sovereign wisdom, the Lord Jesus, "in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge," [Colossians 2:3] who also "is made unto us of God wisdom, righteousness," &c. [1 Corinthians 1:30]

Crieth without.] The Hebrew word signifies often to shout for joy. [Psalms 81:2 Leviticus 9:24] Christ surely cried sweetly, "the roof of his mouth was like the best wine that goeth down sweetly"; [Song of Solomon 7:9] "with a desire did he desire" our salvation, though he well knew it should cost him so very dear. [Luke 22:15]

She uttereth her voice.] Verbis non solum desertis, red et exertis. "In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink." [John 7:37]


Verse 21

Proverbs 1:21 She crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she uttereth her words, [saying],

Ver. 21. In the chief place of concourse.] Veritas non quaerit angulos. Christ, as his manner was, preached in the synagogues; Paul disputed in the market with whomsoever he met, and preached in the midst of Mars hill. [Acts 17:17-22] And at Rome his "bonds in Christ were manifest in all Caesar’s court, and in all other places." [Philippians 1:13]


Verse 22

Proverbs 1:22 How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge?

Ver. 22. How long, ye simple ones.] The fatuelli that are easily persuaded into a fool’s paradise. These are the best sort of bad men; the apostle calls them Aκακοι. [Romans 16:18] Optimi putantur Pontifices (saith Papirius Massonius, a Popish writer) (a) si vel leniter mali sint; vel minus boni quam coeteri mortales esse solent. Those are thought to be very good popes that are not stark naught, or that have any good at all in them. These simplicians are much better than scorners that delight in their scorning, but far beyond those fools that hate knowledge. See a like gradation in Psalms 1:1, {See Trapp on "Psalms 1:1"} Peccata non sunt paria; Nemo repente fit turpissimus. All sins are not alike sinful, and wicked men grow worse and worse.


Verse 23

Proverbs 1:23 Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you.

Ver. 23. Turn you at my reproof.] He that reproves, and then directs not how to do better, is as he that snuffs a lamp, but pours not in oil to maintain it.

Behold, I will pour out my Spirit.] Now, if men make their hearts as an adamant, lest they should hear, &c., and wilfully withstand the Spirit, let them read their neck-verse in the following words, and in that parallel text. [Zechariah 7:11-13] Resisting the Spirit is a step to the unpardonable sin.


Verse 24

Proverbs 1:24 Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded;

Ver. 24. Because I have called, and ye refused.] If any ask, why did God suffer them to refuse, and not make them yield? I answer with Augustine, Doctiorem quaerat, qui hanc quaestionem ei explicet: Let him look one that can tell him, for I cannot.


Verse 25

Proverbs 1:25 But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof:

Ver. 25. But ye have set at naught.] As those recusant (a) guests in the Gospel that pretended they therefore came not, because they had bought farms and oxen; but indeed it was because their farms and oxen had bought them. They had either so much to do, or so little to do, that they could not make use of so fair an offer, so sweet advice and advantage.

And would none of my reproof.] Ruinam praecedunt stillicidia. It is a sure presage and desert of ruin, when men will not be ruled. [Proverbs 29:1] The cypress, the more it is watered, the more it is withered. The tree that is not for fruit, is for the fire. The earth that beareth thorns and briars only is rejected. [Hebrews 6:8]


Verse 26

Proverbs 1:26 I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh;

Ver. 26. I also will laugh.] Quod Deus loquitur cum risu, tu legas cum fletu. (a) If God laugh, thou hast good cause to cry. Note here the venomous nature of sin, which is so offensive to God, that it makes him (against his ordinary wont) merry at his creatures’ misery, who otherwise delights in mercy. [Micah 7:18]

When your fear cometh.] That "terrible tempest." [Job 15:21-22 Psalms 11:6] Tullus Hostilius (a profane prince) set up and worshipped at Rome two new gods, viz., Pavor and Pallor, as Lactantius (b) testifieth. Cataline was wont to be afraid at any sudden noise, as being haunted with the furies of his own evil conscience. (c) So was our Richard the Third after the murder of his two innocent nephews, (d) and Charles the Ninth of France after the Parisian massacre (e) These tyrants became more terrible to themselves than ever they had been to others.


Verse 27

Proverbs 1:27 When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you.

Ver. 27. When your fear cometh as desolation.] Scilicet, Of war, which lays heaps upon heaps, and leaves not a stone upon a stone. [Matthew 24:2]

As a whirlwind.] Suddenly and irresistibly, and with a terrible noise and loud crash.


Verse 28

Proverbs 1:28 Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me:

Ver. 28. Then shall they call, &c.] This was Saul’s misery; - The Philistines are upon me, and God will not answer me. This was Moab’s curse. [Isaiah 16:12] This was the case of David’s enemies. [Psalms 18:41] A doleful case it is surely, when a man shall lose his prayers, and shall not be a button the better for all his pretended prayers and devotions. "He that turneth away his ear from hearing of the law, even his prayer shall be abominable." [Proverbs 28:9] If God answer him at all, it is according to the idols of his heart, [Ezekiel 14:3-4] with bitter answers, as in 10:13-14. Or if better, yet it is but as he answered the Israelites for quails, and afterwards for a king; better have been without. Deus saepe dat iratus quod negat propitius. Giftless gifts God gives sometimes. "He will consume you after that he hath done you good." [Joshua 24:20]


Verse 29

Proverbs 1:29 For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD:

Ver. 29. For that they hated knowledge.] These are the worst sort of sinners, [Proverbs 1:22] that not only slight knowledge, but hate it, as thieves do a torch in the night; curse it, as Ethiopians do the scorching sun; fly against it, as bats do against the light. (a) "This is the condemnation"; [John 3:19-20] this is hell aforehand.

And did not choose.] Aρετη, quasi αιρετη: Aγαθον, quasi αγαν θεατον. "Refuse the evil, and choose the good." [Isaiah 7:16] "Choose the things that please God"; [Isaiah 56:4] "that wherein he delights." [Isaiah 65:12] Such a choice made Moses; [Hebrews 11:25] and Joshua; [Joshua 24:15] and Mary. [Luke 10:42]


Verse 30

Proverbs 1:30 They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof.

Ver. 30. They would none of my counsel.] These are condemned and menaced, as well as those that despised or execrated God’s reproof. So also in the precedent verse, not only they that "hated knowledge," but that "did not choose the fear of the Lord."

They despised all my reproof.] Heb., They execrated, blasphemed it.


Verse 31

Proverbs 1:31 Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices.

Ver. 31. Therefore shall they eat of the fruit.] Eat as they baked, drink as they brewed. They that sow the wind of iniquity, shall reap the whirlwind of misery, Aequum est ut faber quas fecit compedes ipse gestiat.

And be filled with their own devices.] Their never enough shall be quit with fire enough in the bottom of hell.


Verse 32

Proverbs 1:32 For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them.

Ver. 32. For the turning away.] Whereas it might be objected that meanwhile wicked men live at ease and prosper; it is granted, but withal asserted, that these fatted oxen are but fitted for the slaughter. The sunshine of prosperity ripens the sin of the wicked apace. Bernard calls it misericordiam omni indignatione crudeliorem, a mercy that he had no mind to. What good is there in having a fine suit with the plague in it? As soon may a man miscarry upon the soft sands as upon the hard rocks.


Verse 33

Proverbs 1:33 But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.

Ver. 33. Shall be quiet from fear of evil.] Impavidum ferient ruinae. (a) "He shall not be afraid of evil tidings." [Psalms 112:7] His ark is pitched within and without; tossed, it may be, but not drowned; shaken, but not shivered.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 1:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/proverbs-1.html. 1865-1868.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, November 18th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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