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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
Proverbs 9

 

 

Verse 1

Proverbs 9:1 Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars:

Ver. 1. Wisdom.] Heb., Wisdoms, in the plural; and this, either honoris causa, for honour’s sake, or else by an ellipsis, as if the whole of it were "wisdom of wisdoms," as "the song of songs," for a most excellent song. [Song of Solomon 1:1] Junius renders it, Summa sapientia. Highest wisdom. {See Trapp on "Proverbs 1:20"}

Hath builded her house.] That is, The Church. [1 Timothy 3:15] {See Trapp on "Proverbs 1:20"}

She hath hewn out her seven pillars] Pillars, and polished pillars. Anything is good enough to make up a mud wall; but the Church’s pillars are of marble, and those not rough, but hewn; her safety is accompanied with beauty.


Verse 2

Proverbs 9:2 She hath killed her beasts; she hath mingled her wine; she hath also furnished her table.

Ver. 2. She hath killed her beasts.] Christ provideth for his the best of the best, "fat things full of marrow, wines on the lees," [Isaiah 25:6] his own "flesh, which is meat indeed, his own blood, which is drink indeed," [John 6:55] besides that continual feast of a good conscience, whereat the holy angels, saith Luther, are as cooks and butlers, and the blessed Trinity joyful guests.

She hath mingled her wine.] That it may not inflame or distemper. Christ spake "as the people were able to hear," lisping to them in their own low language. So must all his ministers, accommodating themselves to the meanest capacities. Mercer’s note here is, Cam sobrietate tractandae Scriptnrae, The Scriptures are to be handled with sobriety.

She hath also furnished her table.] So that it even sweats with variety of precious provisions wherewith her guests are daily and daintily fed. Mr Latimer says, that the assurance of salvation is the desert of this stately feast. But what a dolt was Cardinal Bobba, who, speaking in commendation of the library of Bonony - which being in an upper room, hath under it a victualling house, and under that a wine cellar - had thought he had hit it in applying thereunto this text, Wisdom hath built her a house, hath mingled her wine, and furnished her table! (a)


Verse 3

Proverbs 9:3 She hath sent forth her maidens: she crieth upon the highest places of the city,

Ver. 3. She hath sent forth her maidens.] So ministers are called - in prosecution of the allegory, for it is fit that this great lady should have suitable attendants - to teach them innocence, purity, and sedulity as maidens, keeping the word in sincerity, and not adulterating and corrupting it, as vintners oft do their wines, or hucksters their wares. Hence Isaiah also putteth the prophets and evangelists in the feminine gender, Mebashereth [Isaiah 52:7]

She crieth upon, &c.] She, together with her maids, crieth; she puts not off all the business to them, but hath a hand in it herself. We are workers together with God, saith Paul.


Verse 4

Proverbs 9:4 Whoso [is] simple, let him turn in hither: [as for] him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him,

Ver. 4. Whoso is simple.] And with it persuadable; that have not yet contracted that callum obductum, corneas fibras, brawny breasts, horny heart strings.

She saith to him.] It is Christ, then, that speaketh in his ministers: "He that heareth you heareth me." "Ye received it not as the word of man, but as it is indeed, the word of the ever living God."


Verse 5

Proverbs 9:5 Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine [which] I have mingled.

Ver. 5. Come, eat of my bread.] Stand not off in a sinful modesty; say not, I am not worthy, &c., but "Come," for "the Master calls you," as they said to the blind man, who therefore came. And those recusant guests, by not coming when invited, might "not taste" of Christ’s supper; for they were unworthy. [Matthew 22:1-7]

And drink of the wine which I have mingled.] Lo, here a full feast, not a dry feast! Lyrannus noteth on this chapter, that the Eucharist was anciently delivered in both kinds: but because of the danger of spilling the blood, the Church ordained that laymen should have the bread only. The Council of Constance comes in with a non obstante against Christ’s institution, withholding the cup from the sacrament. (a)


Verse 6

Proverbs 9:6 Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding.

Ver. 6. Forsake the foolish.] No coming to this feast in the tattered rags of the old Adam; you must relinquish your former evil courses and companies. There are those who read the words thus, "Forsake, O foolish ones - viz., your own ways - and live."

And go in the way of understanding.] Renounce your vices, and practise the contrary graces. True repentance stands in an entire change of the whole man, from all that is evil to all that is good.


Verse 7

Proverbs 9:7 He that reproveth a scorner getteth to himself shame: and he that rebuketh a wicked [man getteth] himself a blot.

Ver. 7. He that reproveth a scorner.] This, with the three next verses, may seem to come in by way of parenthesis; and they do not obscurely intimate what manner of hearers ministers mostly meet with - viz., such as our Saviour did, - "But the Pharisees that were covetous, derided," [Luke 16:14] or blew their noses at him, εξεμυκτηριζον, as one renders it, - and such as long before him the prophet Isaiah did, [Isaiah 28:10] "Precept upon precept, line upon line." One observeth that that was a scoff put upon the prophet; and is as if they should say, Here is nothing but line upon line, precept upon precept. The very sound of the words in the original - Zau le zau, kau lakau - carries a taunt, as scornful people by the tone of their voice, and rhyming words, scorn at such as they despise.


Verse 8

Proverbs 9:8 Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.

Ver. 8. Reprove not a scorner.] See my "Commonplace of Admonition." Look how dogs prefer loathsome carrion before the sweetest odours, and would fly in the faces of such as would drive them from it: so is it here.

And he will love thee.] When he hath well considered he will, though, for present, he may seem to do otherwise; as Ass swaggered with the prophet, and put him in prison. We read in the ecclesiastical history that Agapetus, bishop of Rome, being sent by Theodatus, king of Goths, to Constantinople on an embassy to Justinian, and having obtained a peace, he was earnestly entreated by the emperor to subscribe and confirm the heresy of Eutyches. This when he utterly refused to do, the emperor threatened him in case he did not. Agapetus thereto boldly replied - I had a desire to wait upon Justinian, whom I took to be a most pious prince; but now I perceive him to be a most violent persecutor, a second Dioclesian. With this free reproof, and God’s blessing with it, Justinian was so wrought upon, that he presently embraced the true faith, and banishing bishop Anthemius, a great propagator of the Eutychian heresy, he set up Menna, an orthodox divine, in his room, whom Agapetus consecrated, if Platina may be believed. (a) David loved Nathan the better while he lived for dealing so plainly with him, and named him a commissioner for the declaring of his successor. [1 Kings 1:32-35] So Alipius loved Augustine for reproving him.


Verse 9

Proverbs 9:9 Give [instruction] to a wise [man], and he will be yet wiser: teach a just [man], and he will increase in learning.

Ver. 9. Give admonition to a wise man.] This is an alms that the poorest may give, and be never the poorer, but the better. For by instructing another, a man engageth himself, lest he hear, "Physician heal thyself." Turpe est doctori, cum culpa redarguit ipsum. See my "Common Place of Admonition."


Verse 10

Proverbs 9:10 The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy [is] understanding.

Ver. 10. The fear of the Lord.] {See Trapp on "Proverbs 1:7"} Here it is given as a reason why wise men are the better for sharp and seasonable admonition, because the fear of the Lord is in them. This makes them, when they are reproved of all, "fall upon their faces, worship God, and say, God is in you of a truth." [1 Corinthians 14:26] What shall we say unto my lord? What shall we speak? How shall we justify ourselves? "God hath found out the iniquity of thy servants," &c. [Genesis 44:16]

And the knowledge of the holy.] That is, Of the holy God. Holy is here in the plural number, importing the Trinity of Persons, as likewise Joshua 24:19. Howbeit we may well take in here holy angels and saints, whose kingdom is in Daniel said to be the same with the kingdom of God, [Daniel 7:22; Daniel 7:27] and whose knowledge is the right understanding of God’s will revealed in his word.


Verse 11

Proverbs 9:11 For by me thy days shall be multiplied, and the years of thy life shall be increased.

Ver. 11. For by me thy days.] This verse depends upon Proverbs 9:6. {See Trapp on "Proverbs 9:7"} Those that embrace wisdom shall be paid for their pains, either in money or money’s worth. Either they shall die, as Abraham did, with a good gray head; or else, with Josiah, they shall live long in a little time, and then live for ever in heaven. Enoch had the shortest life of any of the ten patriarchs; but then he was recompensed in the longest life of his son Methuselah, but especially in that "God took him" to glory. Besides, that though he departed the world soon, yet fulfilled he much time, as Mr Hooker hath it. (a)

And the years of thy life shall be increased.] Heb., They shall increase the years of thy life. That is, They that survive thee shall perpetuate thy memory, thy good name shall never die. Some live to be their own executors for their good name; and yet they see them, not honestly, buried before themselves die; nay, many are as those in Job 27:15; Job 27:23, hissed and kicked off this stage of the world, buried before they are half dead. There is scarce a vicious man, whose name is not rotten before his carcase. On the other side, a good man’s name is ofttimes the heir to his life. Or if obscured for a time, as the martyrs were, yet as the sun breaks through the cloud that masketh it, so God shall "bring forth their righteousness as the light, and their judgment as the noonday." [Psalms 37:6]


Verse 12

Proverbs 9:12 If thou be wise, thou shalt be wise for thyself: but [if] thou scornest, thou alone shalt bear [it].

Ver. 12. If thou be wise, thou shalt.] The benefit shall be thine own. Plutarch reports of the palm tree that it yields to the Babylonians three hundred and sixty different commodities, and is therefore in great esteem among them. How should men esteem of sound wisdom, since there is a μυριομακαριοτης in it, [1 Timothy 4:8] a thousand commodities to be reaped by it!

Thou alone shalt bear it.] Thy scorning shall not, as thou thinkest, hurt him that tendereth thy salvation. For as the air when beaten is not hurt, no, nor so much as divided, but returns to his place and becomes thicker, Ita animus recti conscius, et ad optima erectus, non admittit irridentium flatus, nec sentit, saith one; so an honest heart, set for heaven, slights the contempts of graceless persons, and pities them that jeer when they should fear, as much as good Lot once did his profane sons-in-law. His words to such are like those of the prophet, "Be not ye mockers, lest your bands be increased." [Isaiah 28:22; Isaiah 28:10 Proverbs 9:7]


Verse 13

Proverbs 9:13 A foolish woman [is] clamorous: [she is] simple, and knoweth nothing.

Ver. 13. A foolish woman is clamorous.] This woman is "folly," as that woman sitting in the ephah is "wickedness." [Zechariah 5:7] Lavater is of the opinion, that as by wisdom is meant Christ, so by this foolish woman here is meant antichrist, to whom therefore he finally fitteth and applieth all the following words.

Is clamorous.] Folly is full of words, and of a lavish tongue; her factors are extremely talkative, and usually lay on more words than the matter will bear. A great deal of small talk you shall usually have from them. "A fool also is full of words," saith Solomon; [Ecclesiastes 10:14] and this fond custom of his is there expresscd by way of imitation in his vain tautologies, "A man cannot tell what shall be; and what shall be after him, who can tell?" [Ecclesiastes 10:14] The basest things are ever the most plentiful. Some kind of mice breed a hundred and twenty young ones in one nest; whereas the lion and elephant bear but one at once; so the least wit yields the most words. Aristophanes and Lucian, when they describe fools, they call them κεχηιοτας - gapers, or open-mouthed. Guiltiness is ever clamorous, and the most lewd are most loud. [Acts 7:27-28]


Verse 14

Proverbs 9:14 For she sitteth at the door of her house, on a seat in the high places of the city,

Ver. 14. For she sitteth at the door.] In a harlot’s habit, to see and be seen; the guise and garb of harlots. Cicero wittily compareth the Greek tongue to an ambitious strumpet, quae multo luxu superfluat, which overlasheth in too much bravery; but the Latin tongue to an honest and modest matron, cui nihil deest quod ad honestum pertineat mundiciem, that wants nothing pertaining to a necessary neatness. Such a like comparison between wisdom and folly is here made by Solomon.


Verse 15

Proverbs 9:15 To call passengers who go right on their ways:

Ver. 15. That go right on their way.] She fights at the fairest, seeks to seduce the forwardest. "They shall deceive, if it were possible, the very elect." [Matthew 24:24] Flies settle upon the sweetest perfumes when they are cold, and corrupt them.


Verse 16

Proverbs 9:16 Whoso [is] simple, let him turn in hither: and [as for] him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him,

Ver. 16. Who is simple.] Wisdom’s own words. [Proverbs 9:4] Take heed, saith our Saviour; they come unto you "in sheep’s clothing"; [Matthew 7:15] but trust them not, for "with fair words and flattering speeches they deceive the hearts of the simple" [Romans 16:18] Samuel himself could not have spoken more gravely, severely, divinely to Saul, than the fiend at Endor did. When the devil himself puts on gravity and religion, who can marvel at the hypocrisy of men?


Verse 17

Proverbs 9:17 Stolen waters are sweet, and bread [eaten] in secret is pleasant.

Ver. 17. Stolen waters are sweet.] Forbidden pleasures are most pleasing to sensualists, who count no mirth but madness; no pleasure, unless they may have the devil to their playfellow. Venison is nothing so sweet, they say, as when it is stolen.

Quod licet ingratum est; quod non licet, acrius urit:

Sic interdictis imminet aeger aquis. ” - Ovid.

Men long to be meddling with the murdering morsels of sin, which nourish not, but rent and consume the belly that receives them. Many eat on earth that which they digest in hell. (a)


Verse 18

Proverbs 9:18 But he knoweth not that the dead [are] there; [and that] her guests [are] in the depths of hell.

Ver. 18. That the dead are there.] {See Trapp on "Proverbs 2:18"} {See Trapp on "Proverbs 7:27"}

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 9:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/proverbs-9.html. 1865-1868.

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