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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible
Proverbs 2

 

 

Verse 1

THE TEACHER SHOWS HOW TO FIND Wisdom , vv1-9.

The last verse of the preceding chapter makes a very suitable close to the discourse of Wisdom. The general character of that discourse is that of a modern practical and hortatory sermon — dissuading from evil and persuading to good, with appropriate threatenings and promises. This introduction of Wisdom speaking for herself is a very natural and ornamental episode, carrying out the main design of the author — the idea with which he set out in his motto or text, (Proverbs 1:7,) “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” With this key to Proverbs 2:1-5 scarcely another word is necessary to make the whole harmonious and impressive. Nevertheless, the force of a few of the words may be exhibited. The author, it will be seen, now speaks again in his own person.

1. Hide my commandments with thee — Treasure up my precepts.


Verse 2

2. Incline thine ear — Literally, point or sharpen the ear to wisdom; a figure drawn from such animals as turn the point of the external ear in the direction of the sound.

And apply thine heart — Stretch, extend thy heart; it is not enough that the ear attend, the heart must be interested, must love it, must prize it. Heart, in this book, however, ordinarily means the mind, the intellect, as well as the sensibilities: — apply thy mind. The description implies intense earnestness.


Verse 3-4

3, 4. If thou… liftest up thy voice — Callest aloud; denoting eagerness of desire.

Seekest… searchest — And that as for things that men value most, as silver, and hid, or concealed, treasures. For an effective, practical commentary on this verse, one should go to the gold mines or the oil regions. The intensity with which men seek the treasures concealed in the earth is a study for a philosopher. (See Land and Book, vol. i, p. 197.) So, my son, seek after wisdom, divine and human, for all wisdom is divine, when sought and used for divine purposes.


Verse 5

5. Then — When thou so seekest and searchest.

Shalt thou understand — Discern, comprehend, and attain to.

Fear of the Lord — That true piety, of which the author speaks, and which is the highest of all knowledge.

Knowledge of God — Divine knowledge, sanctified learning. This is the first instance where the word God occurs in parallelism with Jehovah. It occurs only eight times in the book, namely: in Proverbs 2:5; Proverbs 2:17; Proverbs 3:4; Proverbs 21:12; Proverbs 25:2; Proverbs 26:10; Proverbs 30:5; Proverbs 30:9. Comp. Proverbs 1:7; 1 Kings 10:10; 1 Kings 10:27; Job 28:28; Jeremiah 41:8; Matthew 13:14.


Verse 6

6. The teacher proceeds to give obvious reasons for the assertion just made, (Proverbs 2:5,) and motives of great encouragement to his pupil to pursue the outline of action to which he urges.

For the Lord — Jehovah. Giveth wisdom, etc. — Solomon may be presumed to here speak from his own experience. He asked wisdom, and God gave it liberally. (See 1 Kings 3:5-15.) There can be no greater encouragement than is here afforded to a soul athirst for knowledge. Let him ask in faith, and use the means, and the blessing will come. Its highest application, however, is to “the wisdom that is from above.” James 1:5; James 3:17.


Verse 7

7. Sound wisdom תושׁיה, (tushiyyah.) The word is uncertain; it corresponds to sound doctrine. 1 Timothy 1:10; 2 Timothy 4:3. It may mean the essence, substance, or reality of things, as opposed to all merely seeming good. This sense harmonizes well with the other member of the hemistich; God treasures up all real good for the righteous, and protects them from all harm.

A buckler to… walk uprightly — Literally, he is a shield, a defence, to the walkers of perfectness — perfect walkers; persons of integrity, of soundness of morals and religion. It stands in parallelism with ישׁרים, (yesharim,) the righteous, and applies to the same class. Conant renders, “He has help in store for the upright, a shield for those who walk in integrity.” Geneva Bible, first clause: “He preserveth the state of the righteous.”


Verse 8

8. He keepeth the paths of judgment — He watches over the paths of justice; that is, to guard those who walk in them. This verse is an enlargement of the idea of the preceding one, especially of the defensive conception of the latter clause of Proverbs 2:7.

The way of his saints — His pious, devout, or zealous ones. That is, he superintends them in all their walks and ways. The word חסידים, (hhasadhim,) saints, occurs also in Psalms 85:8; Psalms 148:14; Psalms 149:9.


Verse 9

9. Then — Referring back to Proverbs 2:1-4, from which the instructor started out with the same particle as at Proverbs 2:5. This verse is a summing up of vs.

5-8, and connects with Proverbs 1:3, where he states the object of his work to be, to impart clear, discriminating instructions in righteousness, judgment, and equities. (See note on Proverbs 1:3.)

Every good path — The practice of every virtue and grace. “The whole good track.” — Miller. The teacher has thus made a circle, so to speak, by which he has come around to his starting point.


Verse 10-11

BENEFITS OF WISDOM IN PRESERVING FROM EVIL ASSOCIATIONS, Proverbs 2:10-22.

10, 11. When wisdom entereth — Here the instructor starts out again, in a different train of thought, to show the effects of a sanctified education in preserving his pupil from the malign influence, first, of bad men, Proverbs 2:12-15, and, secondly, of bad women, Proverbs 2:16-20. Hence he repeats in Proverbs 2:10-11 what he had before advanced, but with a pleasing variety of expression, about the beneficent effects of wisdom, when once attained, in preserving from evil in general. Here, in Proverbs 2:11, he personifies discretion (intelligence) and understanding, (discernment,) and represents them as faithful guardians, watching over and keeping in safety the interests of their votaries. But for the sake of greater force and vividness he soon descends to particulars. In Proverbs 2:10, for the expressions heart, soul, compare Proverbs 24:12; Psalms 13:2; Jeremiah 4:9; Deuteronomy 6:5; Matthew 22:37; Acts 4:32. The first word of Proverbs 2:10, when, Miller renders because.


Verse 12

12. They do this, to deliver thee (now their ward) from the way of the evil man, (especially) from the man that speaketh froward things תהפכות, (tahpukhoth,) another obscure word, found almost exclusively in this book. It is the opposite of m’sharim, (Proverbs 1:3,) equity, rectitude. It seems to be a comprehensive term, implying all manner of evil doing. Perhaps subversions or perversions comes as near the original as any English word; that is, the man uttering words calculated to subvert or pervert — to turn the hearer from the right to the wrong, or to change the condition of things, whether in the Church or State, from good to evil. It applies to all reckless innovators and revolutionists, particularly to such as seek to overthrow a good government in order to put another in its place. This conception is somewhat supported by the preceding word, רע, (ra’h,) evil, badness, worthlessness. The radical idea of this word is to break; and it denotes “the breaking of some established order of things, or some preconceived design, plan, or the like.” Gesenius says, “Intransitive — to be evil, bad; from the idea of breaking, being broken, and so made worthless.” But may not the idea of moral badness also appropriately come from the active conception of breaking, destroying? It is certainly a very vivid and truthful conception of a bad man, that he is a breaker, a destroyer of things, like his father Abaddon, the destroyer. He breaks law and order, peace, quietness, and harmony. He destroys virtue, character, reputation, property, government — in short, every thing he lays his hands on or influences; he destroys his associates, and, finally, himself.

The Septuagint adds to this verse the following, not found in the Hebrew: “He that stays himself upon falsehoods attempts to rule the winds, and the same will pursue birds in their flight: for he has forsaken the ways of his own vineyard, and he has caused the axles of his own husbandry to go astray; but he goes through a dry desert, and a land appointed to drought, and he gathers barrenness with his hands.”


Verses 13-15

13-15. Who leave the paths of uprightness — A description of these evil men, needing no comment. Delighting in the frowardness, the wickedness of the wicked, is one of their worst features. Comp. Psalms 50:17-18; Romans 1:32.


Verse 16

16. From the strange woman — Solomon here proceeds to show that this wisdom of which he speaks will also preserve from the snares of the dissolute woman. Such a woman is described. She is זרה, (zarah,) and נכריה, (nokhriyyah,) a strange woman, an adulteress; that is, a foreigner either as to nation or to the household; another woman than the man’s wife. It is probable that those women who surrendered themselves to licentious practices among the Hebrews were mostly foreigners, and hence the words corresponding to our words harlot, prostitute, and the term stranger or foreign woman, came to be nearly synonymous. By the Canaanites, especially the Phoenicians, women were consecrated to prostitution as priestesses of their impure goddess of love. In periods of her corruption Israel received these foreign women, and temples of licentious rites, scattered through Palestine, reduced the young Israelites to debauchery.


Verse 17

17. Forsaketh the guide of her youth — The word rendered guide here means familiar friend or partner, and the weight of criticism inclines to the meaning, her husband. For “guide” the Septuagint has instruction. The Hebrews generally married young. According to the rabbins men should marry at eighteen, and they may marry at thirteen. The virgins are often espoused or betrothed very early, but not married till after they are twelve. From this come such expressions as spouse, friend, or guide of one’s youth. Comp. Jeremiah 3:4; Joel 1:8; Proverbs 5:18; Isaiah 54:6; Malachi 2:14-15. Forgetteth the covenant of her God — Supposed to be her marriage vows, and recognising some kind of religious ceremony in connexion therewith. It is certain that foreign women, Canaanites, on being tolerated in the land contrary to the command, set up tippling houses and brothels, tempting the Israelites to debauchery and idolatry. (See Proverbs 7:5-27.) Thus they became traps and snares to the Israelites; “scourges in their sides and thorns in their eyes.” Joshua 23:13; Numbers 33:55. Nevertheless, it is equally clear from the manner in which this woman is spoken of, (Proverbs 2:17,) that not a foreign woman by birth is intended, but a Hebrew who was unfaithful to her husband and her God. The seductions of the sacred prostitutions introduced from Tyre and Sidon won even the Hebrew females from both the worship of Jehovah and the paths of purity. This woman was an apostate Hebrew harlot, consecrated in a temple of a foreign licentious religion.


Verse 18

18. Her house inclineth unto death — “The house of the adulteress is as hades, the realm of death, haunted by the spectral shadows of the dead, the Rephaim, who have perished there.” — Speaker’s Com. Psalms 88:11; Isaiah 14:9. Her paths unto the dead — Lead to the region of the dead, of shadows, shades, ghosts. Zockler renders: —

Her house sinketh down to death,

And her paths (lead) to the dead,

Miller, last clause, “to the shades.” The Septuagint renders the 18th verse thus: “For she has fixed her house near death, and (guided) her wheels near hades with the giants.” Comparatively few persons who give themselves up to licentious habits ever recover themselves to a virtuous life. Debauchery destroys both their soul and body.


Verse 20

20. That — In order that — dependent on Proverbs 2:11 : all this I say, in order that thou mayest, etc. The sincere love of wisdom will so secure thee, that, escaping the snares of the voluptuary, thou wilt imitate the character of good men, and be preserved in the paths of virtue.


Verse 21

21. The upright shall dwell in the land — According to God’s promise, (Deuteronomy 11:8-21,) those who keep his commandments shall inherit the land, and transmit it to their posterity.


Verse 22

22. But… the transgressors בוגדים, (bogedhim,) those of concealed, illicit practices, such as above referred to, shall be swept off. The words land (Proverbs 2:21) and earth (Proverbs 2:22) are the same in the Hebrew. They mean the land of promise. The Israelites were bound by strong ties to their God-given inheritance: to dwell in the land was their highest desire and greatest blessing, (see Exodus 20:12; Leviticus 25:18; Leviticus 26:5; 2 Kings 4:13 :) to be torn from it was esteemed the greatest calamity. Their attachment to it may be learned from the psalms belonging to the times of the exile. The same idea has passed over to the New Testament.

Matthew 5:5; compare Psalms 39:9. For their patriotic feelings see Psalms 125, 126.

 


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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Proverbs 2:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/proverbs-2.html. 1874-1909.

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Friday, May 24th, 2019
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