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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary
Proverbs 22:17

Extend your ear and hear the words of the wise, And apply your mind to my knowledge;
New American Standard Bible

Bible Study Resources

Nave's Topical Bible - Instruction;   Wisdom;   The Topic Concordance - Hearing;   Knowledge;  
Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Heart;   Mind/reason;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Pardon;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Proverbs, the Book of;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Israel, History of;   Proverbs, Book of;   Wisdom and Wise Men;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Proverb;   Proverbs, Book of;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Prov'erbs, Book of;  
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Apply;   Proverbs, Book of;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Pedagogics;  

Clarke's Commentary

Verse Proverbs 22:17. Bow down thine ear — From this to the end of Proverbs 22:21 are contained, not proverbs, but directions how to profit by that which wisdom has already delivered; the nature of the instruction, and the end for which it was given.

I shall give a paraphrase of this very important passage: -

I. Solomon addresses his pupils on the use of his past teachings. See on Proverbs 22:6.

1. The wise man speaks; and all his words, not merely his sentiments, are to be carefully heard.

2. He speaks knowledge - gives doctrines true in themselves, and confirmed by observation and experience.

3. These are to be heard with humility and deep attention: "Bow down thine ear."

4. They must not only be heard, but meditated and pondered: "Apply thine heart to my knowledge."

Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Proverbs 22:17". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​acc/​proverbs-22.html. 1832.

Bridgeway Bible Commentary



The correct use of proverbs (22:17-29)

In this section the sayings are longer and often cover several verses, whereas in the previous section each verse was usually a separate proverb. The section begins with an appeal to the disciples to listen carefully to the instruction, to memorize it and to put it to practical use. It will strengthen their trust in God and give them the ability to answer correctly anyone who questions them concerning what is right and true (17-21).
The opening proverbs repeat warnings already met in the book - warnings against exploiting the poor (22-23), getting into bad company (24-25) and giving rash pledges (26-27). One proverb condemns the practice of stealing land by shifting boundary markers (28), and another commends diligence in work (29).

Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Proverbs 22:17". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​bbc/​proverbs-22.html. 2005.

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

“Incline thine ear, and hear the words of the wise, And apply thy heart unto my knowledge. For it is a pleasant thing if thou keep them within thee. If they be established together upon thy lips. That thy trust may be in Jehovah, I have made them known to thee this day, even to thee.”

There is a break here; and from this Proverbs 22:17 through the end of Proverbs 24, we have the words of the wise men. Some call these, “The Thirty Words” (consisting of two verses each);The Anchor Bible (Garden City, New York: Doubleday and Company, 1982). but other words of wise men are added after the “thirty.”

These three verses state the purpose of the wise men’s words, namely, “That thy trust may be in Jehovah.” This particular section of Proverbs is not attributed to Solomon.

Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Proverbs 22:17". "Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​bcc/​proverbs-22.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

This is the commencement of a new and entirely distinct section, opening, after the fashion of Proverbs 3:1, Proverbs 3:21; Proverbs 4:1; Proverbs 7:1; with a general exhortation Proverbs 22:17-21 and passing on to special precepts. The “words of the wise” may be a title to the section: compare Proverbs 24:23. The general characteristics of this section appear to be

(1) a less close attention to the laws of parallelism, and

(2) a tendency to longer and more complicated sentences. Compare the Introduction to Proverbs.

Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Proverbs 22:17". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​bnb/​proverbs-22.html. 1870.

Smith's Bible Commentary

Chapter 22

A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favor rather than silver and gold ( Proverbs 22:1 ).

The good name, so important, so valuable. Good reputation, so important. "Rather to be chosen than great riches. Loving favor rather than silver and gold."

The rich and the poor meet together ( Proverbs 22:2 ):

Where? In the eyes of the Lord.

for the LORD is the maker of them all ( Proverbs 22:2 ).

You know, God can't be impressed with your bank account. We all meet together when we stand before God. The rich and the poor, we're all alike. We meet together. There's a common ground. Whenever we stand before the Lord, we're meeting on common grounds. Except, as I understand the scripture, the poor man has maybe a few advantages. "How hard it is for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven" ( Mark 10:24 ). That is, how hard it is for those who trust in riches. The danger of riches is always that tendency and temptation to trust in your riches. I've learned that I can buy my way out of problems with my money. I learn that I can use money to influence people or to control people. And I'm used to, then, the manipulation of people because of my financial prowess. Poor person doesn't have any of those problems. When you stand before the Lord, the rich and the poor meet together.

The prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hides himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished ( Proverbs 22:3 ).

The prudent man. Now we see the evil that is going to result from a life of sin, and we hide our self in the provisions that God has made through Jesus Christ. We hide from that day of judgment. But the simple, they're going to pass right on into it and will be punished.

By humility and the fear of the LORD [or reverence of the Lord] are riches, honor, and life ( Proverbs 22:4 ).

Now, "He that follows after righteousness and mercy finds life, righteousness and honor." Here, "By humility and the reverence of the Lord are riches, honor and life."

Thorns and snares are in the way of the perverse: and he who keeps his soul shall be far from them. Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it ( Proverbs 22:5-6 ).

This particular passage of scripture has been the center of great controversy. There are many people who, with an aching heart, looking at their children who are rebelling from the things of the Lord, and their hearts filled with wonderment as to how the child could turn so far from God. But yet, God has declared, "Train up a child." Of course, it does involve that responsibility of training the child. The Hebrew word is one that we translate kanakais, it's a systematic form of training.

But what did you train your child to be? What was your primary purpose for your child? What was your goal for your children? What did you want for them above everything else? You say, "Well, I wanted them to be successful. I wanted them to be happy. I wanted them to have a successful career. I wanted them to have a good education." Well, they are purely pagan goals and ideals for your children. They're totally un-Christian. The primary goal that we should have for each of our children is that they walk with the Lord. That they learn to know God and serve God and walk with Him.

And that is not undervaluing education. I think that it's great. I think a person should avail himself the opportunity of every educational advantage he can receive. But that should never be our goal. Our goal should be that our children will walk with the Lord. And I'd rather have them walking with the Lord and be an ignoramus and work in some very menial work than I would to have them have their Ph.D.'s and be agnostic or atheistic or blasphemous against God.

Not all of our children graduated from college. I have to confess a disappointment that they did not take full advantage of all of the natural God-given intellectual capacities that they had in going to college. And yet, we've learned to commit this completely into the hands of the Lord. The fact that they went to college or graduated from college or not doesn't really make any difference to me. I'm thankful they're walking with Him. That's what's important. It could be that in college their minds could have been twisted. It could have been that their values could have been destroyed. The true values. I would much rather that they be walking with the Lord than to have their Ph.D.'s.

"Train up a child." What is the goal that you have? That's important. If you're training a child to be successful, he may be successful. But he also may be a successful infidel. "Train up your child in the way he should go, when he's old, he will not depart from it."

The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender. He that soweth iniquity shall reap vanity: and the rod of his anger shall fail. He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed; for he giveth of his bread to the poor ( Proverbs 22:7-9 ).

God's mark upon generosity. "He that has a bountiful eye shall be blessed when he will give to the poor."

Cast out the scorner, and contention shall go out; yea, strife and reproach shall cease ( Proverbs 22:10 ).

It's amazing what one scorner can do in bringing strife and contention. So, cast out the scorner. Here at Calvary Chapel, actually, we have requested many scorners not to come back. That's usually Romaine's job, and he does it quite effectively. But it's valuable. You know, it's a healthy body that can purge its system of the poisons. And when a body is no longer strong enough to purge itself of its poisons, that body is going to die.

In the New Testament it says to get rid of the leaven for, "a little leaven will leaven the whole lump" ( Galatians 5:9 ). So cast out that leaven. Same thing here. Cast out the scorner and you can get rid of so many problems. The contentions and all will cease.

He that loves pureness of heart, for the grace of lips the king shall be his friend. The eyes of the LORD preserve knowledge, and he overthroweth the words of the transgressor. The slothful man says, There is a lion outside, I'll be slain in the streets ( Proverbs 22:11-13 ).

Any excuse to keep from going to work. And, again, as Benjamin Franklin said, "The man who is good at making excuses is seldom good for anything else."

The mouth of a strange woman is a deep pit: and he that is abhorred of the LORD shall fall in it ( Proverbs 22:14 ).

Verse Proverbs 22:15 . Again, as far as the correction of our children.

Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it from him ( Proverbs 22:15 ).

Solomon, no doubt, observed his father David's mistake. David was an extremely poor disciplinarian. And as a result of his being a poor disciplinarian, his sons rebelled against him. It is spoken of one of David's sons that he never once punished him or did anything to antagonize him. He just left him alone. And that son grew up to hate David and rebelled against David. Of course, Absalom also rebelled against his father. David was just a poor disciplinarian.

So many times we have the false concept. "Well, I don't want, you know, I don't want to break this bond between my child and I. I won't punish him. I'll just let him go." And that laxity, lack of discipline. "The foolishness is bound in the heart of a child, but the rod of instruction will drive it far from him." A child left to himself will bring reproach to his parents.

He that oppresses the poor to increase his riches, and he who gives to the rich, shall surely come to want ( Proverbs 22:16 ).

Now at this point, the whole thing of the Proverbs begin to change a bit. We've had proverbs for a long period that more or less are isolated singly and stand alone. Sometimes you have a couplet, two of them together. But now the whole procedure of the Proverbs change, and we now have longer proverbs. That is, they take two, three, four verses in the proverbs that we now follow. You'll notice this definite change, and rather than just little four-liners, they now expand on a particular thought.

Bow down thine ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply your heart unto my knowledge. For it is a pleasant thing if you keep them within thee; they shall withal be fitted in thy lips. That thy trust may be in the LORD, I have made known to thee this day, even to thee. Have not I written to thee excellent things in counsels and knowledge, That I may make thee know the certainty of the words of truth; that thou mightest answer the words of truth to them that send unto thee? ( Proverbs 22:17-21 )

So that whole paragraph now is the one idea of just hearken to the instruction that I'm going to give to you. Keep it. And basically the instruction is to teach you to trust in the Lord.

The next two verses form one thought.

Rob not the poor, because he is poor: neither oppress the afflicted in the gate: For the LORD will plead their cause, and spoil the soul of those that spoiled them ( Proverbs 22:22-23 ).

Again, God taking up the cause of the poor person. Twenty-four and twenty-five make up one thought.

Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: lest you learn his ways, and get a snare in your soul ( Proverbs 22:24-25 ).

Twenty-six and twenty-seven are together.

Be not thou one of them that strikes hands, or of them that are surety for debts. For if you have nothing to pay, why should they take away your bed from under thee? ( Proverbs 22:26-27 )

How many people who have you known signed as a surety have been stung. So it's a warning against signing as a surety for someone else. Co-signing on this loan for me, friend, be careful.

Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set ( Proverbs 22:28 ).

Now this, of course, came as a law in the book of Deuteronomy where they were prohibited from removing the landmarks. The landmarks have been established by God. Property ownership and the limits of that property ownership. "Remove not the landmark." I think of it in a spiritual sense. The landmark is the guidelines, and in a spiritual sense, unfortunately, we are living in the day when many men have sought to remove the spiritual type of landmarks or the foundational truths of the Word of God. And what confusion has ensued when men start playing around with the foundational truths of Christianity. Questioning the authority of the Word of God. Questioning the deity of Jesus Christ. And men starting to remove these landmarks. Confusion results.

You see a man that is diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men ( Proverbs 22:29 ).

Or in the Hebrew, obscure men. "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Proverbs 22:17". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​csc/​proverbs-22.html. 2014.

Dr. Constable's Expository Notes

A. Introduction to the 30 Sayings 22:17-21

As in chapters 1-9, the writer began this section of the book with an exhortation to hear and give heed to the words of wisdom that follow. The reason the writer gave the following proverbs introduces the 30 sayings.

"This extended introduction reminds us that the wise sayings were not curiosity pieces; they were revelation, and revelation demands a response." [Note: Ross, p. 1065.]

First, there is a call (Proverbs 22:17) followed by three motivations: a pleasing store of wisdom (Proverbs 22:18), a deeper trust in the Lord (Proverbs 22:19), and a greater reliability (Proverbs 22:20-21). [Note: Kidner, p. 149.]

The Hebrew word translated "excellent things" (Proverbs 22:20; slswm) has also been rendered "heretofore" (RV margin), "triply" (Septuagint, Vulgate), and "30 sayings" (RSV, NIV). Since 30 sayings follow, that seems to be the best option for translation. "Him who sent you" (Proverbs 22:21) is probably the original reader’s teacher, who may have been his father.

"Notwithstanding the difficulties of the text, the general thought of the paragraph is plain: the pupil is to devote himself to study, in order that his religious life may be firmly established, and that he may be able to give wise counsel to those who seek advice." [Note: Toy, pp. 424-25.]

"Even the most brilliant moral sayings are powerless without personal application." [Note: Waltke, The Book . . . 31, p. 223.]

Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Proverbs 22:17". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​dcc/​proverbs-22.html. 2012.

Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Bow down thine ear, and hear the words of the wise,.... Here begins a new part or division of this book. According to some, the "third"; the "first" ending with Proverbs 9:18, the "second" at

Proverbs 22:16, and a "third", beginning here, and ending with

Proverbs 24:34. It is certain that what follows from hence to the end of that is written in another style, by way of exhortation, caution; and instruction, and is directed to particular persons: as here an exhortation is made to Solomon's son, or to those that attended his instruction; or rather to the children of Wisdom, that is, Christ; to listen attentively to "the words of the wise"; of Solomon, and other wise men before him, or contemporary with him; or rather of Wisdom and her maidens, Christ, and the wise men sent by him; who are made wise to salvation, and furnished for every good work by him, from whom the words of the wise come; and who speak the wisdom of God in a mystery; and whose doctrines are to be heard and received, not as the word of men, but as the word of God;

and apply thine heart unto my knowledge; the knowledge of divine and spiritual things Christ instructs in, and the knowledge of himself; which is preferable to all other knowledge, and to thousands of gold and silver; and in comparison of which all things are but loss and dung; and therefore should be applied unto with intenseness of mind, and cordially received.

Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 22:17". "Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​geb/​proverbs-22.html. 1999.

Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

      17 Bow down thine ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply thine heart unto my knowledge.   18 For it is a pleasant thing if thou keep them within thee; they shall withal be fitted in thy lips.   19 That thy trust may be in the LORD, I have made known to thee this day, even to thee.   20 Have not I written to thee excellent things in counsels and knowledge,   21 That I might make thee know the certainty of the words of truth; that thou mightest answer the words of truth to them that send unto thee?

      Solomon here changes his style and manner of speaking. Hitherto, for the most part, since the beginning of Proverbs 10:1; Proverbs 10:1, he had laid down doctrinal truths, and but now and then dropped a word of exhortation, leaving us to make the application as we went along; but here, to the end of Proverbs 22:17-24; Proverbs 22:17-24, he directs his speech to his son, his pupil, his reader, his hearer, speaking as to a particular person. Hitherto, for the most part, his sense was comprised in one verse, but here usually it is drawn out further. See how Wisdom tries variety of methods with us, lest we should be cloyed with any one. To awaken attention and to assist our application the method of direct address is here adopted. Ministers must not think it enough to preach before their hearers, but must preach to them, nor enough to preach to them all in general, but should address themselves to particular persons, as here: Do thou do so and so. Here is,

      I. An earnest exhortation to get wisdom and grace, by attending to the words of the wise men, both written and preached, the words of the prophets and priests, and particularly to that knowledge which Solomon in this book gives men of good and evil, sin and duty, rewards and punishments. To these words, to this knowledge, the ear must be bowed down in humility and serious attention and the heart applied by faith, and love, and close consideration. The ear will not serve without the heart.

      II. Arguments to enforce this exhortation. Consider,

      1. The worth and weight of the things themselves which Solomon in this book gives us the knowledge of. They are not trivial things, for amusements and diversion, not jocular proverbs, to be repeated in sport and in order to pass away time. No; they are excellent things, which concern the glory of God, the holiness and happiness of our souls, the welfare of mankind and all communities; they are princely things (so the word is), fit for kings to speak and senates to hear; they are things that concern counsels and knowledge, that is, wise counsels, relating to the most important concerns; things which will not only make us knowing ourselves, but enable us to advise others.

      2. The clearness of the discovery of these things and the directing of them to us in particular. "They are made known, publicly known, that all may read,--plainly known, that he that runs may read,--made known this day more fully than ever before, in this day of light and knowledge,--made known in this thy day. But it is only a little while that this light is with thee; perhaps the things that are this day made known to thee, if thou improve not the day of thy visitation, may, before to-morrow, be hidden from thy eyes. They are written, for the greater certainty, and that they may be received and the more safely transmitted pure and entire to posterity. But that which the emphasis is here most laid upon is that they are made known to thee, even to thee, and written to thee, as if it were a letter directed to thee by name. It is suited to thee and to thy case; thou mayest in this glass see thy own face; it is intended for thee, to be a rule to thee, and by it thou must be judged." We cannot say of these things, "They are good things, but they are nothing to us;" no, they are of the greatest concern imaginable to us.

      3. The agreeableness of these things to us, in respect both of comfort and credit. (1.) If we hide them in our hearts, they will be very pleasing and yield us an abundant satisfaction (Proverbs 22:18; Proverbs 22:18): "It is a pleasant thing, and will be thy constant entertainment, if thou keep them within thee; if thou digest them, and be actuated and governed by them, and delivered into them as into a mould." The form of godliness, when that is rested in, is but a force put upon a man, and he does but do penance in that white clothing; those only that submit to the power of godliness, and make heart-work of it, find the pleasure of it, Proverbs 2:10; Proverbs 2:10. (2.) If we make use of them in our discourse, they will be very becoming, and gain us a good reputation. They shall be fitted in thy lips. "Speak of these things, and thou speakest like thyself, and as is fit for thee to speak considering thy character; thou wilt also have pleasure in speaking of these things as well as in thinking of them."

      4. The advantage designed us by them. The excellent things which God has written to us are not like the commands which the master gives his servant, which are all intended for the benefit of the master, but like those which the master gives his scholar, which are all intended for the benefit of the scholar. These things must be kept by us, for they are written to us, (1.) That we may have a confidence in him and communion with him. That thy trust may be in the Lord,Proverbs 22:19; Proverbs 22:19. We cannot trust in God except in the way of duty; we are therefore taught our duty, that we may have reason to trust in God. Nay, this is itself one great duty we are to learn, and a duty that is the foundation of all practical religion, to live a life of delight in God and dependence on him. (2.) That we may have a satisfaction in our own judgment: "That I might make thee know the certainty of the words of truth; that thou mayest know what is truth, mayest plainly distinguish between it and falsehood, and mayest know upon what grounds thou receivest and believest the truths of God." Note, [1.] It is a desirable thing to know, not only the words of truth, but the certainty of them, that our faith may be intelligent and rational, and may grow up to a full assurance. [2.] The way to know the certainty of the words of truth is to make conscience of our duty; for, if any man do his will, he shall know for certain that the doctrine is of God, John 7:17. (3.) That we may be useful and serviceable to others for their instruction: "That thou mayest give a good account of the words of truth to those that send to thee to consult thee as an oracle," or (as the margin reads it) "to those that send thee, that employ thee as an agent or ambassador in any business." Knowledge is given us to do good with, that others may light their candle at our lamp, and that we may in our place serve our generation according to the will of God; and those who make conscience of keeping God's commandments will be best able to give a reason of the hope that is in them.

Caution against Oppressing the Poor.
Bibliographical Information
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Proverbs 22:17". "Henry's Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​mhm/​proverbs-22.html. 1706.
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