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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Proverbs 22:17

Incline your ear and hear the words of the wise, And apply your mind to my knowledge;
New American Standard Version
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  1. Adam Clarke Commentary
  2. Bridgeway Bible Commentary
  3. Coffman Commentaries on the Bible
  4. Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible
  5. E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes
  6. Chuck Smith Bible Commentary
  7. John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible
  8. Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable
  9. Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable
  10. Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
  11. Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
  12. Arno Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
  13. G. Campbell Morgan's Exposition on the Whole Bible
  14. John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible
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  37. Treasury of Scripture Knowledge
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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;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

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; (note).

  • The wise man speaks; and all his words, not merely his sentiments, are to be carefully heard.
  • He speaks knowledge - gives doctrines true in themselves, and confirmed by observation and experience.
  • 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."

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    Bibliographical Information
    Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Proverbs 22:17". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.

    Bridgeway Bible Commentary

    22:17-24:34 SAYINGS OF THE WISE

    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).

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    Bibliographical Information
    Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Proverbs 22:17". "Brideway Bible Commentary". 2005.

    Coffman 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);[20] 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.

    Copyright Statement
    Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
    Bibliographical Information
    Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Proverbs 22:17". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

    Albert 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.

    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain.
    Bibliographical Information
    Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Proverbs 22:17". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.

    E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

    words of the wise. See the Structure of the whole book (p. 864). Referring to the wise men by whom Solomon was surrounded, such as Ethan, Heman, Chalcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol (1 Kings 4:31).

    thine. Note the continuation of the second person, "the words of the wise" being addressed to Solomon.

    heart. Put by Figure of speech Metonymy (of Subject), App-6, for thoughts and powers.

    my. Note the writer"s personality as being other than Solomon.

    knowledge = teaching.

    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain.
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    Bibliographical Information
    Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Proverbs 22:17". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". 1909-1922.

    Chuck Smith Bible Commentary


    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. "

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    Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
    Bibliographical Information
    Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Proverbs 22:17". "Chuck Smith Bible Commentary". 2014.

    John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

    These proverbs are very unlike the preceding in tone, and style. The author's own personality is brought distinctly into view (Proverbs 22:17-21; Proverbs 23:15); he had a high opinion of the value of his maxims; he arranges them in strophes, not in couplets.

    18. Fitted] RV 'established together,' i.e. ready (1 Peter 3:15).

    20. For excellent things RM suggests 'heretofore.' Perhaps we should read 'triply': cp. Hosea 8:12 RV.

    21. RM 'Them that send thee,' i.e. his parents. Perhaps it ought to be, 'them that ask thee' (1 Peter 3:15).

    27. If the debtor has failed to meet his obligation and the unlucky surety has no money, the creditors will seize the poor man's scanty belongings, even to his bed.

    28. Landmarks were of extreme importance when there were no fences: see on Ruth 2:22.

    29. Stand before] i.e. serve (1 Samuel 16:21; 1 Kings 10:8).

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    Bibliographical Information
    Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 22:17". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". 1909.

    Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

    A. Introduction to the30 Sayings22:17-21

    As in chapters1-9, 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 the30 sayings.

    "This extended introduction reminds us that the wise sayings were not curiosity pieces; they were Revelation, and revelation demands a response." [Note: Ross, p1065.]

    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, p149.]

    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). Since30 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, pp424-25.]

    "Even the most brilliant moral sayings are powerless without personal application." [Note: Waltke, The Book . . . 31, p223.]

    Copyright Statement
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    Bibliographical Information
    Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Proverbs 22:17". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

    Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable


    A third major section of the Book of Proverbs begins with Proverbs 22:17. This is clear from several indicators. The proverbs lengthen out again from the typical one-verse couplet that characterizes Proverbs 10:1 to Proverbs 22:16 (cf. chs1-9). Also, the phrase "my son" appears again, as in chapters1-9. Third, we read in Proverbs 22:20 (in the Hebrew text) that a group of30 sayings will follow. The NASB translators rendered this verse, "Have I not written to you excellent things ..."

    The emphasis in Proverbs 22:17 to Proverbs 24:34, which includes the fourth collection of proverbs (six more sayings of the wise, Proverbs 24:23-34), is on the importance of applying the instruction previously given.



    The value of wisdom


    The examples of wisdom

    Proverbs 10:1 to Proverbs 22:16

    The application of wisdom

    Proverbs 22:17 to Proverbs 24:34

    The reason many scholars believe Solomon did not write the36 sayings of the wise ( Proverbs 22:17 to Proverbs 24:34) is this: the title, "These also are sayings of the wise [or sages, plural]," in Proverbs 24:23 a suggests several writers rather than one.

    "The plur. sages points to the existence of a special class of wise men, who were oral teachers or writers. The utterances of these men formed a distinct body of thought, part of which is preserved in the Book of Proverbs . . ." [Note: Toy, p451.]

    The word "also" in Proverbs 24:23 a apparently refers to the similar title in Proverbs 22:17, suggesting that these sages, not Song of Solomon, wrote the proverbs in Proverbs 22:17 to Proverbs 24:22.

    The36 sayings divide into two groups: "the 30] words of the wise" ( Proverbs 22:17), and six more "sayings of the wise" ( Proverbs 24:23).

    Many scholars have called attention to the similarities between Proverbs 22:17 to Proverbs 24:22, the30 sayings of the wise, and The Instruction of Amen-em-Ope. [Note: E.g, McKane, pp369-74. For an introduction to other similar ancient Near Eastern wisdom literature, see Harris, pp555-57; or Waltke, The Book . . ., pp28-31, who cited eight other similar pre-Solomonic Egyptian texts.] The Instruction of Amen-em-Ope is a piece of Egyptian wisdom literature that scholars have dated in the New Kingdom period (ca1558-1085 B.C.). Both sets of proverbs contain30 sayings each, both use the "my son" terminology, and both follow the same structural design. This design includes an introduction stating why the writer gave the instruction followed by30 independent sections of sayings on diverse subjects. However, a difference between these two collections is significant. The writer or writers of the biblical Proverbs, evidently not Song of Solomon, said their purpose was that the readers" "trust may be in the Lord" ( Proverbs 22:19). However, Amen-em-Ope expressed no such hope or any belief in a personal God. As mentioned earlier, the biblical writers" purpose and faith distinguish the Book of Proverbs from all other ancient Near Eastern wisdom literature. [Note: For an introduction to the study of comparative ancient Near Eastern wisdom literature, see Waltke, "The Book . . .," pp221-38.]

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    These files are public domain.
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    Bibliographical Information
    Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Proverbs 22:17". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

    Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers


    (17) Hear the words of the wise.—Comp. chap . As “wise” is in the plural number, it would seem as if the following section contained proverbs written by others than Solomon, though they may have been collected by him. (Comp. Proverbs 24:23.)

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    Bibliographical Information
    Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Proverbs 22:17". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". 1905.

    Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

    Proverbs 22:13

    In the text before us the slothful man is made to give the reason for his slothfulness. Of course it is easy to see that his reply is a mere excuse. He does not want to bestir himself. He much prefers the comfort of his own fireside. Still he must show some reason for his conduct. This lion is simply the creature of his lively imagination. Yet in his judgment any excuse is better than no excuse at all, hence his words "There is a lion without, in the streets".

    I. No man can close his ears to the call of duty from either real or imaginary dangers without a tremendous loss to himself. "The slothful man saith, there is a lion without, I shall be slain in the streets." He refuses the call of duty in consequence. Does he remain the same as before? By no means. He is poorer in every way. He is poorer because he refuses that activity which is life to all created beings. It is a most instructive study to note how severely nature punishes all refusals to exercise that energy by which growth and progress are accomplished. What we call a freak in nature Isaiah, in almost every case, nature"s punishment of the slothful. It is even so in the moral and spiritual world.

    II. There is in that moral and spiritual world an universal duty relative to God on the one hand and man on the other. We are all brought face to face with a duty we owe to God, an obligation to worship Him in spirit and in truth. There is a call of His Spirit which comes to every man.

    The slothful man knows full well that though the lion is but a mere excuse, the vain creation of his own imagination, yet there is involved in the call to action perils of a very real kind. The soul that arrays itself by the side of Jesus Christ, and in every thought, word, and deed, seeks to translate into its own life the spirit of the Lord, will find the lion without in the street.

    The call of the human is as imperative and universal as the call of the Divine. God is calling us up in worship, and man is calling us out in service, and both unite in demanding that we should spend and be spent in the kingdom of Christ.

    III. Let us consider the effect of the conduct of the slothful man upon himself. The path of the slothful endeth in death. He turns in upon himself, and feeds upon his own soul, and is as the camel in the desert who feeds upon its own hump, and when that is done dies. Christ has indicated the end of the slothful man. "Whosoever shall save his life shall lose it." His real danger is from within. He is his greatest enemy.

    —J. Gay, Common Truths from Queer Texts, p14.

    Proverbs 22:13

    The greatest foe in Central Africa is the terrible sleep sickness. The victim gradually, but none the less surely, settles down into a sleep from which there is no awakening in this world. In its first stages at any rate activity is salvation. Slothfulness is a mental and moral sleep sickness. From its terrible end we may be saved if taken in time. But there is only one invariable effect Its feet lead down to the valley of death. True life is the very opposite to the slothful, and is incompatible with luxury and ease.

    —J. Gay, Common Truths from Queer Texts, p23.

    References.—XXII:13.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxviii. No1670. XXII:22, 23.—W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven far Life on Earth, p465. XXIII:1.—J. M. Neale, Sermons on the Blessed Sacrament, p99. XXIII:1-3.—W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven for Life on Earth, p460.

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    Bibliographical Information
    Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Proverbs 22:17". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. 1910.

    Arno Gaebelein's Annotated Bible

    CHAPTER 22 Instructions Continued

    Better than great riches, better than silver and gold is a name and loving favor. If a person has riches and a bad name and is not well thought of, he is less honorable than the poor man who has a name and good reputation. In Ecclesiastes, Solomon says: “A good name is better than precious ointment” Ecclesiastes 7:11). The third verse has a wise message: “The prudent man foreseeth the evil and hideth himself, but the simple pass on, and suffer for it.” The Lord has revealed in His Word the evil which is in store for the sinner and the impenitent. He also has prepared a hiding place, an ark of safety, in His Son, our Lord. The prudent believeth the Word and flees to the refuge; the simple, the unbelieving, pass on and suffer for it when the evil comes. Humility and the fear of the Lord has a reward, while thorns and snares are in the way of the froward. sowing and reaping is found in Proverbs 22:8 and Proverbs 22:9. He that soweth iniquity reaps vanity, or calamity; he that has a bountiful eye, who looks upon the poor and needy with kindness and supplies their wants reaps blessing. In Proverbs 22:11 we read, “He that loveth pureness of heart, for the grace of his lips the king shall be hisfriend.” In such, whose hearts are pure and whose words are gracious, the Lord, the King, delights.

    Beginning with Proverbs 22:18 we find another call to hear, and to apply the heart to His knowledge: “For it is a pleasant thing if thou 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.” This is the personal message to Solomon by the Lord, heeded by him for many years and finally disobeyed.

    The proverb of Proverbs 22:28 : “Remove not the ancient landmarks, which thy father has set,” is a restatement of Deuteronomy 19:14. It is repeated in Proverbs 23:10. In Job 24:2 we read “Some remove the landmarks.” These landmarks were for Israel sacred things, for their possessions were staked off according to the Lord’s will; to meddle with them was a transgression. While Israel, God’s earthly people had landmarks, God’s heavenly people also has landmarks of the heavenly realm, the blessed doctrines of the Word of God, which constitute the faith once and for all delivered unto the saints. And how man removes these landmarks in our day! How true it is, “Some remove the landmarks,” that which our fathers cherished, believed and trusted in. The rationalist, the ritualist and the delusionist do it constantly and thus destroy the foundation upon which everything rests.

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    Gaebelein, Arno Clemens. "Commentary on Proverbs 22:17". "Gaebelein's Annotated Bible". 1913-1922.

    G. Campbell Morgan's Exposition on the Whole Bible

    Verse Proverbs 22:2. The question that naturally arises on reading this is, Where do they meet together? This proverb is often used as having reference to the sanctuary or house of prayer; but a very superficial examination of the actual condition of affairs will show that this use of the proverb is hardly warranted. The answer to the question is that in the sight of God, and in His dealing with them, they meet together. If one is looking for locality, let him look to the day of final judgment.

    Verse Proverbs 22:6. In this oft-quoted proverb the true sense most certainly is found in the adoption of the marginal readings. It is a declaration of the true philosophy of education. That which is in a child naturally is to be discovered and trained in order that the purpose of its life may be realized.

    Verse Proverbs 22:11. Again, in this proverb the marginal reading, "that hath grace in his lips," should be adopted. The meaning is that the two qualifications which will ensure the friendship of the king are, first, pureness of heart, and, second, wisdom of expression.

    Verse Proverbs 22:14. This does not mean that if a man is abhorred of Jehovah he will necessarily fall into this particular pit, but rather that he who does fall therein becomes abhorred of Jehovah. It is a graphic way of setting forth the abomination of unchastity.

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    Morgan, G. Campbell. "Commentary on Proverbs 22:17". "G. Campbell Morgan Exposition on the Bible". 1857-84.

    John 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.

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    The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
    A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
    Bibliographical Information
    Gill, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 22:17". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

    George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

    Incline. Thus Solomon concludes his discourse, (chap. xxiv. 23.) in the same manner as he began it, to chap. x. Some commence the third book of Proverbs in this place; others, chap. xxv. (Calmet)

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    Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Proverbs 22:17". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". 1859.

    Ironside's Notes on Selected Books

    Proverbs 22

    This chapter begins with a comment on the great importance of a person’s reputation.


    The first verse of this chapter declares that a good name is to be preferred far above earthly treasure, though often it is forfeited to obtain riches. The adjective good does not occur in the original text. But “a name” is used in the sense of a character of renown, as elsewhere in Scripture: notably in Genesis 11:4, “let us make us a name”; Deuteronomy 26:19, “ make thee high…in name”; 2 Samuel 7:9, 23; 8:13; and many other passages. In this sense then a name is more desirable than vast wealth, and to be respected is more valuable than immense revenues.

    It is a great mistake for the young to suppose that an honored name is more easily made on the battlefield, in the halls of government, the ranks of great writers, or in the business world. No name is more lasting and enduring than that won by him who lives for God and considers all that earth has to offer as worthless for the sake of the Lord Jesus Christ. Devotion to David caused Abishai and Benaiah to win enduring names (2 Samuel 23:18,22). Devotion to Christ has caused many to be immortalized who otherwise would long since have fallen into oblivion. Who would have remembered the twelve apostles, if they had not left all and followed Jesus? What would have been the glory of the name of Saul, the rabbi of Tarsus, compared with that of Paul the missionary of the cross?


    The concept of the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man, if understood correctly, is a Scriptural doctrine. We learn from Scripture that God “hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth” (Acts 17:26). Human reason, apart from divine revelation, would never have discovered this wonderful secret. Universal brotherhood-the union of all the races and nations of men in one great family, springing from one common stock, despite obvious physical and ethnological differences- was never dreamed of by philosophers until they were enlightened by the inspired Word of God. Prior to that time the brotherhood of certain races was acknowledged proudly, while the human mind revolted against accepting a despised and ignorant slave of inferior caste as a brother. But the Hebrew Scriptures testify throughout to the fact that all men sprang from one common father, Adam, and are linked together by ties that cannot be dissolved. The Christian Scriptures emphasize this truth and seeing Adam as the son of God, declare that God is “the Father of spirits” (Hebrews 12:9); therefore in a creatorial sense, God is the Father of all men.

    However the aspect of God’s universal fatherhood through creation is very different from the relationship within the family of God as revealed by our Lord and His apostles. Man by the fall lost the divine likeness and became a sinner ruined and alienated. Hence the need of redemption and regeneration. By new birth those who by nature were children of wrath and disobedience, are made children of God and partakers of the divine nature. A new, eternal life is imparted and the Holy Spirit given, thus they cry, “Abba, Father.” Only those spiritually born form the new creation brotherhood because they possess a common life and nature.

    This distinction needs to be kept in mind in our day of looseness and laxity. Men who rebel against the truth of the fall gladly call God their Father and see no need for the new birth. They link up saint and sinner in one great family.

    The Christian unhesitatingly and freely acknowledges that Jehovah is the maker of all and that He is compassionate to all His creation. But he sees two families described throughout Scripture: “ the children of God… and the children of the devil” (1 John 3:10).


    This solemn proverb is deliberately repeated in 27:12. In God’s exceeding love He faithfully warns us of the terrible consequences of refusing to bow before Him in repentance and receive the grace He offers through Christ Jesus. The wise man sees the evil coming and hides himself in the refuge God has provided. But the simple harden their hearts and refuse to heed the warning of imminent danger, thus ensuring their own destruction.

    “A man shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land” (Isaiah 32:2). Faith sees the fulfillment of these precious words in the man Christ Jesus and fleeing to Him exclaims, “Thou art my hiding place” (Psalms 32:7). If He is rejected and His grace despised, certain and eternal judgment will follow. Contrast the Philippian jailer with the Roman magistrates (Acts 16:25-40).


    How different are the paths and the ultimate rewards of the godly and the perverse! Heaven and Hell are as diverse as the roads leading to them. The godly man is marked out from others by a meek and humble spirit and the fear of the Lord. The ungodly is rebellious and self-willed. The way of the former leads to true riches, the honor that comes from God, and life everlasting. The steps of the latter soon became entangled in thorns and snares. He who lives in obedience to the word of Jehovah will be preserved from the traps of the world. Contrast Hezekiah and his son Manasseh before he was humbled (2 Chronicles 29-33).


    To start a child right is of utmost importance. The saying of the Jesuit, “Give me your child till he is twelve, and I care not who has charge of him afterwards,” has passed into a proverb. The tree follows the bent of its early years, and so it is with our sons and daughters. If they are taught to love the world, to crave its fashions and follies in childhood, they are almost certain to live for the world when they come to mature years. On the other hand if they are properly instructed from the beginning as to the futility of living for the pleasures of this world, they are in little danger of reversing that judgment as they grow older. Parents need to remember it is not enough to tell their little ones of Jesus and His rejection or to warn them of the ways of the world; they must see to it that in their own lives they exemplify their instruction. This will count above all else in the training of the young. Little ones will observe our pretence and hypocricy if we speak piously of separation from the world while demonstrating the spirit of the world in our dress, relationships in the home, and the friends we seek. We need not wonder then if they grow up to ignore our words of instruction while imitating what our lifestyle proclaimed to be the real object of our hearts.

    But where a holy, cheerful atmosphere pervades the home and godly admonition is coupled with godly living, parents can count on the Lord to keep their households following in the right way. See Timothy (2 Timothy 1:5).


    He who obeys the Scriptural injunction to “owe no man any thing, but to love one another” (Romans 13:8), will escape the awful bondage of the debtor. The rich almost invariably lord their position over the poor, except where grace intervenes to check the potential pride of the human heart. Therefore it is natural that he who lends should consider himself superior to the borrower. The latter destroys his own freedom by his neglect of the divine command. It is far better to be in meager circumstances and dependent on God, than to have plenty but to know that it belongs to another. Nothing so crushes the spirit of a man as debt, if he has any conscience about it at all. The Christian should fear debt and flee from it, realizing that it is the effort of the enemy to undermine his peace and destroy his sense of dependence on the Lord.

    The matter of debt should be of greater concern among Christians. People think little or nothing of accumulating bills and borrowing money without proper security, which afterwards may cause them deep grief and bring dishonor on Christ. He who would be the Lord’s servant alone and in bondage to no man will avoid debt in every form. Many by carelessness in borrowing, have left their families in dire distress. See the example in 2 Kings 4:1.


    These two proverbs are in striking and intentional contrast; again they remind us of the certainty of a harvest similar to the character of the sowing.

    He who sows iniquity will reap a hopelessly worthless crop. Though he take a lordly position and vent his anger against the godly, his rod will fail and his rule will come to a derisive end. See the example of the unhappy Pharaoh of the exodus.

    But the kindly, benevolent soul who plants the seed of thoughtfulness for others will reap a bountiful harvest of consideration and blessing for himself. Bread cast on the waters returns after many days. See Ebed-melech (Jeremiah 38:7-12; 39:16-18).


    See note on Proverbs 21:11. The scorner of this book is very much like the boaster of 1 Corinthians 5. Such a man can work untold mischief among a company of the Lord’s people. His wretched evil-speaking, coupled with his contempt for all godly restraint will corrupt the whole assembly. Therefore it is necessary to obey the Word of God and “Put away from among yourselves that wicked person” (1 Corinthians 5:11-13).

    The law extended no mercy to the one who scorned the God of Israel and troubled His people. By the testimony of two or three witnesses he was to be put to death, that the evil might be put away from among them (Deuteronomy 17:2-7).

    In this dispensation of grace such an extreme measure is not commanded. The saints are admonished to separate the troublemaker from their company, in order that the rest may be saved from falling into his unholy ways; thus the name of Christ will be kept from further dishonor. Once the mocker is separated he is in the place where God can deal with him. But while he remains in God’s family, he is a source of grief to the assembly and a reproach to the Lord. See Hymenaeus and Alexander (1 Timothy 1:20).


    A righteous ruler delights in a man of pure heart and gracious words. And the King of kings is indeed a Friend to such a one. It is the pure in heart who see God; they who truly are pure will demonstrate it by obedience to the word, “Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt” (Colossians 4:6). A bitter, acrimonious, and fault-finding tongue does not belong to the pure-hearted man of God, but is generally the evidence that one is far from being right with Him. Note what is said of Mordecai (Esther 10:2-3).


    The Lord’s eye is on His own truth, which is the only real knowledge. He guards it day and night and will never let it fall to the ground. When spoken by His servants He will see that it accomplishes His purpose (Isaiah 55:11).

    But the false words of the unfaithful will accomplish nothing. The Lord Himself will overthrow them. Error cannot always prosper. It may seem to thrive for the moment, but it will be destroyed eventually. Contrast Micaiah and the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 22).


    See notes on Proverbs 12:27; 15:19; 19:24; 21:25; and 26:13. The sluggard devises many excuses to account for his laziness and utter lack of energy. Where no dangers or difficulties exist he imagines them; and where they really are he exaggerates them to such a degree that they appear to be insurmountable. He who approaches life in the strength of faith finds the lions have been rendered powerless to destroy him. Contrast with the slothful man of this verse, Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, one of David’s mighty men (2 Samuel 23:20).


    See notes on Proverbs 2:16-19; 6:23-35; 7:4-27. The one who stops to listen to the flattering words of the strange woman is lured to his destruction. None who walk with God will be deceived by her; but he whose ways displease the Lord will readily fall a victim to her seductions. He will stumble into sin and its fearful consequences as a blind man falls into a deep pit. Judah is an example of this in Genesis 38.


    See notes on Proverbs 13:24 and 19:18. To leave a child to himself is to ensure his ruin, for folly is bound up in his heart. Properly administered discipline will correct the natural tendency to go astray. Of course the rod is not the only form of discipline. Corporal punishment is not always required and might at times be very unwise. The rod, throughout Scripture, speaks of authority and power; in this case it refers to that parental restraint to which the child owes so much. It was the lack of this firm yet kindly discipline that was responsible in large measure for the evil ways of both Absalom and Adonijah (2 Samuel 14; 1 Kings 1:6).


    It is foolish to seek to accumulate wealth by oppressing the needy or to endeavor to gain the favor of the rich by giving them gifts. Both courses lead to want instead of increase.

    He who practices either of these habits, may seem to prosper and flourish for the moment; but his end will show the truth of God’s Word. He will not find the happiness he sought; he will at last be obliged to admit that his purpose has been utterly defeated because of the iniquity of his heart. See what is said in James 5 of the rich who oppress the poor and withhold their wages.


    The challenge in verse 17 reminds us of the admonition repeated seven times in Revelation 2 and 3: “ He that hath an ear, let him hear…” We have read many words of wisdom in the book of Proverbs and many more are to follow. The soul may become so used to them as to fail to discern their excellent character. We must apply our hearts to the knowledge given in these proverbs. For it is of all importance that they be kept within and fitted to the lips of the hearer, whose trust must be in Jehovah if he is to exemplify them in his life.

    In the original the expression translated, “Have not I written to thee excellent things,” (20) is literally “have I not set them before thee in three ways” or “a third time.” This indicates the superlative nature of the counsel contained in this book. These excellent things are things of the highest value, beyond mere human wisdom. It is God Himself marking out the safe and right path for His children. Thus will they “know the certainty of the words of truth,” (21) and be enabled to use them correctly in reply to all who inquire. In this day of doubt and skepticism, it is a blessing to be able to rest the soul on the true and precious words of the living God,

    In the New Testament we find four inspired apostles quoting unhesitatingly from the book of Proverbs. Paul quoted from it in Romans 12:19-20, and Hebrews 12:5-6; James in chapter 4:6 of his Epistle; Peter twice in his first, and once in his second letter, namely 1 Peter 4:8,17-18; 2 Peter 2:22; and Jude in the twelfth verse of his trenchant arraignment of the false teachers already creeping in among the saints.

    But of deeper interest to the believer is that our Lord Himself, in His address at the table of the Pharisee as recorded in Luke 14, used a portion of this treasury of proverbial truth as His text (Proverbs 25:6-8). Added to this we find allusions and references to its teaching throughout the later books of the Old Testament and all parts of the New. God has linked this plain and intensely practical portion- these “words of truth”-inseparably with all the rest of His holy Book. As we continue our study, may it be with a fuller sense of the sacred character of the simple admonitions and hints for daily life that are contained in the book of Proverbs.


    These proverbs contain a warning word to those who sit in the place of judgment (“gate” in kjv). If the ways of justice are perverted, let him who renders a false and oppressive sentence remember that the supreme Judge is observing all; He will render to every man according as his work has been. Righteous judgment is precious in His sight because it then reflects the integrity of His divine throne-a great white throne, unsullied by iniquity. If wrong is perpetrated on the needy now, Jehovah Himself will appear as their Advocate in that highest court of all. Then dreadful indeed will be the reward of those who have used the courts of earth for the furtherance of iniquity. What will be the position of the Herods and Pilates when dragged before that bar of infinite holiness?


    A man is known and formed by the company he keeps. “Evil communications corrupt good manners” (1 Corinthians 15:33). Therefore it is important to consider carefully those whom we choose for companionship and fellowship. To keep company with a man given to wrath and fury is to be contaminated by his hasty ways and to bring a snare on one’s own soul. Anger and malice are the works of the flesh. The Christian should have no association with one quickly angered, for we are too easily defiled by such conduct. To continue friendship with one displaying these evidences of unjudged carnality is to endanger one’s own life and testimony. A Saul is no fit friend for a David. See Proverbs 21:24.


    See notes on 6:1-5 and 11:15. There are some who will never learn by rules. Therefore they must learn by bitter experience. Many people who have read the warnings of Proverbs all their lives, regarding the dangers of accepting liability for another man’s debts, have lost nearly all they had through unwise commitment to men who turned out unworthy of their confidence. Much pain and shame might have been avoided had this passage in Proverbs been heeded!

    When grace rules, they who have nothing with which to pay are frankly forgiven all their debt (Luke 7:40-43). But when stern justice has to be dispensed, he who does not have the means to pay his self-imposed obligation is in danger of losing his very bed from under him.


    This is almost a repetition of what God said to Moses: “Thou shalt not remove thy neighbour’s landmark, which they of old time have set in thine inheritance, which thou shalt inherit in the land that the Lord thy God giveth thee to possess it” (Deuteronomy 19:14).

    Each Israelite had received his portion of land directly from Jehovah. Its borders were marked out by clearly-indicated landmarks, which all were commanded to respect. He who removed them forcibly, or in secret, would have to deal with God for his violation.

    In this dispensation of grace the allotment of God’s people is heavenly, not earthly. Our inheritance is in the precious truth which He has committed to us. To remove the landmarks-the great distinguishing doctrines of Scripture-will be to incur the divine displeasure. Yet, unfortunately, many supposedly learned doctors are engaged in that wretched business today. No truth of Scripture is too sacred for their irreverent handling. Precious truths like those of atonement and justification by faith-even the mystery of the Holy Trinity and the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ-are, in their eyes, but common ideas, which they may dismiss or ignore as they please. But a day of reckoning is coming, when God will judge them in righteousness; and those who have been misled by their removal of ancient and venerable landmarks of God’s Word will curse them for the loss of their souls. Terrible will be the accounting of men who, while posing as instructors of the flock of Christ, have all the while been Satan’s instruments for overthrowing the saving truths of Scripture. See Paul’s warning word to Timothy (2 Timothy 1:8-13, and 4:1-5). Compare with Proverbs 23:10-11.


    Reward is sure for the diligent. He who applies himself with earnestness to his appointed labor will be noticed and recognized because of his ability. How much more when he labors for the Lord, seeking His approval, rather than that of his fellowman! “Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord,” is the principle on which the believer orders his daily service (Romans 12:11). Often, one fears, we act as though it read, “Fervent in business; slothful in spirit; serving yourselves.”

    He who would one day stand before the King and enjoy the sunshine of His approval, must labor now to be well-pleasing to Him. The faithful life of Daniel is a good example of this godly diligence. He was a man who, whatever the changes of government, always came to the front, standing before kings.




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    Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on Proverbs 22:17". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. 1914.

    Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

    Here begins another division of the book, marked by those encouragements to the pursuit of wisdom, which are found in the earlier chapters. It will be observed that at Proverbs 22:22-24:12, the proverbs are generally expressed in two verses instead of one (see on Introduction).

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    These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
    This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
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    Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Proverbs 22:17". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". 1871-8.

    Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

    Bow down thine ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply thine heart unto my knowledge.

    From this verse to Proverbs 24:22 the continuous style is resumed from Proverbs 1:1-33; Proverbs 2:1-22; Proverbs 3:1-35; Proverbs 4:1-27; Proverbs 5:1-23; Proverbs 6:1-35; Proverbs 7:1-27; Proverbs 8:1-36; Proverbs 9:1-18; Proverbs 10:1-32. This is the third part of the book, or rather an epilogue to the previous part (Proverbs 9:1-18; Proverbs 10:1-32; Proverbs 11:1-31; Proverbs 12:1-28; Proverbs 13:1-25; Proverbs 14:1-35; Proverbs 15:1-33; Proverbs 16:1-33; Proverbs 17:1-28; Proverbs 18:1-24; Proverbs 19:1-29; Proverbs 20:1-30; Proverbs 21:1-31; Proverbs 22:1-29).

    Bow down thine ear - the introductory exhortation.

    And hear the words of the wise ... my knowledge. Solomon represents himself is the inspired mouthpiece of the godly wise of all ages.

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    Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Proverbs 22:17". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.

    The People's Bible by Joseph Parker

    The Pure In Heart, Etc.

    "He that loveth pureness of heart, for the grace of [or, and hath grace in] his lips the king shall be his friend" [Lit, "He that loveth pureness of heart, his lips are gracious, the king is his friend"] ( Proverbs 22:11).

    This would seem to be the lower level of the holy word spoken upon the mount—"Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God." This proverb sets forth the image of a man whose pure heart finds an equivalent or correspondence in the grace or favour of his lips. We may take it in this way: when the heart is pure the speech will be clean; when the spirit is right with God, language will be lifted above all equivocation or double-meaning—will be simple, direct, true, sincere; when the soul is holy the language will rise into music. Good men are known by their speech; they are not rough in words, or crude in tone, or boisterous in claim; they do not lift up their voice, nor cry, nor strive with the clamour of conscious weakness; they speak quietly, graciously, gently, hopefully; so much so indeed at times that their very gentleness may be mistaken by the superficial for weakness, whereas it is the very perfection and refinement of strength. Only weak men are boisterous; only men who are uncertain of their intellectual or moral position seek to make up by noise what is wanting in truth and equity. It would seem as if the pure heart were destined to bring kings into subjection. The king is to be the friend of the man who loves pureness and speaks music. Here is a hint of the ultimate triumph of moral power. No longer is the king to be amazed and fascinated by mere thunder and lightning, by iron and chariots and horses; his ear is to be entranced by heart-music; he is to say, This is the voice of heaven; he is to admit that the man who can so speak must have been schooled and cultured in the very sanctuary of heaven.

    "The slothful man saith, There is a lion without, I shall be slain in the streets" ( Proverbs 22:13).

    A singular illustration this, of how the decay of one faculty may be the beginning of the activity of another. Industry has gone down, but imagination has risen. The slothful man seeks to make up by excuse what is wanting in energy. How ridden by the nightmare is the slothful man"s imagination! He sees foes in the air; he hears voices which none other can detect; he is wishful to impress upon his friends the fact that he himself is most willing to go out, yea, even eager to work, and prepared to undergo any amount of sacrifice, but he sees a lion, he is assured of a supreme difficulty, he is prepared to testify that his life is not worth a day"s purchase should he attempt to work under such and such circumstances. He cannot fell a tree, but he can see a lion; he dare not encounter the cold, for he is sure that he would be slain by a foe. The man that is thus a lion-maker in his own imagination will soon bring himself under the subjection of his own diseased fancy; presently the lion will be real to him, although it will be imaginary to all who stand by and look on. Beyond a certain point fancy ceases, and fact begins, in the case of the diseased mind: literally there is no lion, but imaginatively and sympathetically the whole road is crowded with beasts of prey. To the man who is so diseased it is no relief to tell him that other people cannot see the lions; he sees them himself, he watches their open mouths, he is terrified by their gleaming eyes, he flees away from them as from pursuing death. Men should be careful how they permit any morbid influence to operate upon their fancy; health should be the first law of nature; every man should feel himself bound to attend to the laws of bodily health; for oftentimes through their observance alone can healthfulness of mind be sustained. So intimate is the relation between mind and body, that when the one is neglected the other falls into desuetude; and when the one is abused even in the sense of temporary enjoyment, the other goes down in quality, in force, in executive ability. "Know ye not that ye are the temples of the Holy Ghost?" Is not the body a consecrated sanctuary? You cannot laugh men out of their superstitions after a certain point. Christian trainers should take the mind early in hand, and see that it be disabused of all superstition; and not only so—for negative work is not enough—the mind should be inspired by sacred impulse and filled with pure and reverent thought When the mind is so guarded and so sustained it will be impossible for the fancy to create lions.

    "He that oppresseth the poor to increase his riches, and he that giveth to the rich, shall surely come to want" ( Proverbs 22:16).

    Read the passage: he that oppresseth the poor is really preparing for his own oppression; for he is giving to the rich, and in due time the rich will rule over him with a rod of iron. Here is the same great law whose operation we have watched with interest and thankfulness. For a time the great man seems to do what he pleases, to order the poor as if they were his dogs, forgetting that all the while he himself is only enabling some other man to rule over him with a like severity. All bribery is to be brought low, all oppression is to lick the dust, the great purpose of the kingdom of heaven is to bring in the Son of Prayer of Manasseh, who shall rule in righteousness, in simplicity, and tenderness; all trickery of subordination, all tyranny shall be brought to destruction as in an instant, and man shall respect man because he first honours and loves God. No rich man can love the poor Prayer of Manasseh, no poor man can love the rich Prayer of Manasseh, as simply between themselves: the second commandment follows the first, and is to be approached through the first, and is accessible only through the first, and the first commandment is—Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and soul and mind and strength; then afterwards it shall be easy, yea a supreme delight, to love one"s neighbour as one"s self.

    From the seventeenth verse we are enjoined to hear the words of the wise. The word "wise" being in the plural number, it has been supposed that what follows is a collection of proverbs or sacred sayings, rather than the exhortation of the mind of Solomon alone. There is a concensus of wisdom. In all ages and in all lands Wisdom of Solomon, though speaking in different words, has invariably spoken in the same sense. Truth is one. No matter in what language it may be spoken, or by what local colouring it may be affected, the great consequence, the profound philosophy, is the same: truth and love, pureness and compassion, divine communion and self-sacrifice, rightness with God and rightness with men,—these things God hath put together, and no man shall put them asunder without feeling that he has incurred a just and tremendous penalty. There is nothing more corroborative of truth than the fact that come whence it may, from what land or in what language soever, it all ends in the same grand injunction—do right, and be happy; be pure, and be at rest; aspire towards heaven, and thus adjust all earthly relations: in philosophy, in eloquence, in prophetic vision, in poetic Numbers, this holy wisdom has been taught in all the ages and in all the lands blessed by the higher civilisation.

    From the twenty-second verse we have words that come along the way of the marketplace, that address men in their counting-houses and in their mercantile relations. Here is the grand philosophy of socialism: how the words roll on in the noblest music:—

    "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" ( ).

    "Be not thou one of them that strike hands, or of them that are sureties for debts. If thou hast nothing to pay, why should he take away thy bed from under thee? Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men" ( ).

    Thus again (for the point should never be omitted) we have the best proof of the inspiration of the Bible in its human injunctions, in its comprehensible economies of life. We have seen that if the mantle was taken in pledge it had to be restored before sundown for the poor man to sleep in; but it would appear from injunctions such as these that the law had been evaded, and the poor had been exposed to nakedness and cold because of their poverty. What law of God is there that has not been evaded or perverted? Have we not a genius of disobedience? How wonderfully inventive is the mind in blunting the point of the law or in escaping the edge of the sword when some selfish purpose is to be gained! Even in the days of Song of Solomon, and long before, the stones marking the boundaries of the fields were thrown down in order that men might increase their estates. Is not this the daily battle of life? What is business in many an instance but a throwing down of ancient landmarks and breaking up of honourable boundaries, a confusion of division lines, so that the strong may oppress the weak? Whatever is possible to honest industry we should aim to realise. Industry has a right to the rewards of its own labour. The industrious man is more than he appears to be; he is not only a labourer in the dust, he is not a mere toiler in the mud; he is a servant of God, he is a minister of heaven, he is an exponent of an abiding and a beneficent law: such a man shall have honour even amongst his fellow-men; the industrious man shall attend upon kings as their minister, and kings shall be glad to be served by a man who has proved his honourableness, not in some grand temporary heroic effort, but in the simple toil and daily discipline of life.


    "Section contains a collection of proverbs marked by certain peculiarities. These are: 1. The structure of the verses, which is not so regular as in the preceding section, Proverbs 10:1 to Proverbs 22:16. We find verses of eight, seven, or six words mixed with others of eleven ( Proverbs 22:29; Proverbs 23:31, Proverbs 23:35), fourteen ( Proverbs 23:29), and eighteen words ( Proverbs 24:12). The equality of the verse members is very much disturbed, and there is frequently no trace of parallelism2. A sentence is seldom completed in one verse, but most frequently in two; three verses are often closely connected ( Proverbs 23:1-3, Proverbs 23:6-8, Proverbs 23:19-21), and sometimes as many as five ( Proverbs 24:30-34). 3. The form of address, "my Song of Solomon," which is so frequent in the first nine chapters, occurs also here in Proverbs 23:19, Proverbs 23:26; Proverbs 24:13; and the appeal to the hearer is often made in the second person. Ewald regards this section as a kind of appendix to the earliest collection of the proverbs of Song of Solomon, added not long after the introduction in the first nine chapters, though not by the same author. He thinks it probable that the compiler of this section added also the collection of proverbs which was made by the learned men of the court of Hezekiah, to which he wrote the superscription in Proverbs 25:1. This theory of course only affects the date of the section in its present form. When the proverbs were written there is nothing to determine. Bertheau maintains that they in great part proceeded from one poet, in consequence of a peculiar construction which he employs to give emphasis to his presentation of a subject or object by repeating the pronoun ( Proverbs 22:19; Proverbs 23:14-15, Proverbs 23:19-20, Proverbs 23:28; Proverbs 24:6, Proverbs 24:27, Proverbs 24:32). The compiler himself appears to have added Proverbs 22:17-21 as a kind of introduction. Another addition ( Proverbs 24:23-34) is introduced with "these also belong to the wise," and contains apparently some of "the words of the wise" to which reference is made in Proverbs 1:6. Jahn regards it as a collection of proverbs not by Solomon. Hensler says it is an appendix to a collection of doctrines which is entirely lost and unknown; and with regard to the previous part of the section Proverbs 22:17 to Proverbs 24:22, he leaves it uncertain whether or not the author was a teacher to whom the son of a distinguished man was sent for instruction."—Smith"s Dictionary of the Bible.

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    Parker, Joseph. "Commentary on Proverbs 22:17". The People's Bible by Joseph Parker. 1885-95.

    Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

    Proverbs 22:1. A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches. When a man lives revered for his piety, it is better than to be feared for his power.

    Proverbs 22:2. The rich and the poor meet together, in the common dust: and the small and great stand at the judgment-seat of God. Therefore the rich should consider the poor as brethren, and the poor should not be insolent to their benefactors.

    Proverbs 22:3. A prudent man foreseeth the evil coming, be it famine, war or winter, and provides against it. How much more then should we prepare to appear before God, who will judge the world in righteousness, and punish the foolish for their sin.

    Proverbs 22:6. Train up a child in the way he should go. No man can estimate the blessings which may be comprised in the gift of a son, of joy to the family, of glory to the church, or honour to the nation. And it is generally true, that men adhere to the principles, the religion and customs of their fathers. Hence, as our children, corrupt by nature, are prone to go astray, let us train them up to a proper acquaintance with God’s word: and let us put some book into their hand which exhibits the reasonableness and evidences of christianity in one entire view. Dr. Jenkins, and Dr. George Benson, on the Reasonableness of the Christian Religion, are fine works. Addison’s Evidences, though but fragments, are very good, and have weight from his name. Lardner’s Credibility is a gigantic work. He published a volume every year. In my Introduction to Christianity, I have done my best. No young man should go out into the world unarmed with a knowledge of the evidences of his religion.—But while we endeavour to sow the seeds of truth in the mind, we must aim at the conversion of the soul by the power of divine grace. We are born proud, self-willed, vindictive, and lovers of ourselves. Therefore pride must be changed into humility, anger into meekness, and self-love into the love of God. In endeavouring to impress these truths, let us take advantage of circumstances; for when death, afflictions, and providential visitations soften the heart, it is then more open to receive instruction.

    Proverbs 22:8. He that soweth iniquity shall reap vanity. They that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, shall reap what they sow. Job 4:8. Solomon had in his eye wicked rulers, who bore the shapat, or rod of the elders. This rod shall be turned against them, when the king hears of their crimes, for castigation, and by placing it in more worthy hands. For, on the contrary, as in Proverbs 22:11, he that loves pureness, in private and public conduct, the king shall be his friend.

    Proverbs 22:13. The slothful man saith, There is a lion without. Lions, in time of drought, follow the streams; and wolves in winter, make wide ranges in quest of food. To kill a lion in single combat, which brave men sometimes did, ennobled their character. The slothful man, on the contrary, is here condemned for the sins of cowardice and fear.

    Proverbs 22:20. Have not I written to thee excellent things. The Hebrew and the LXX read, “three things.” The Jews, in their schools, divided literature into three branches, physical, moral, and divine. Others turn it, “Have I not written three books.” The Proverbs, for a beginning; the Ecclesiastes, for a progress; and the Song of Songs, for perfection. Yet our version gives the spirit of the text—”excellent things.”

    Proverbs 22:27. Why should he (in a case of execution) take away thy bed from under thee? Our brokers do this daily, in distraining for rent. And though it be the law of nations, it is not the law of nature.

    Proverbs 22:29. Seest thou a man diligent in his business; [a man of celerity, dispatch, and expedition in his work] he shall stand before kings. He shall rise from humble life to commercial affluence, and from commercial affluence to rank and fortune, as a man of distinction and talents. But let him tremble lest he should love riches more than God: let him tremble lest he should leave vast wealth to infidel and profligate children. Let him be liberal to the poor and to the cause of religion, in proportion as God is liberal to him; for it is an awful issue to gain the world, and lose the soul. He should not forget in affluence, that the pastor who has laboured for his salvation has perhaps but a scanty income.

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    Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Proverbs 22:17". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. 1835.

    John Trapp Complete Commentary

    Proverbs 22:17 Bow down thine ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply thine heart unto my knowledge.

    Ver. 17. Bow down thine ear and hear.] Here begins, say some interpreters, the third book of Solomon’s Proverbs - as the second began at chapter ten. And indeed he here seems to assume a new kind of bespeaking his son, different from his discourse in the preceding twelve chapters; and much like that in the first nine.

    And apply thy heart, &c.] q.d., Call up the ears of thy mind to the ears of thy body, that one sound may pierce both at once; otherwise thou wilt be like the wolf in the fable: thou wilt never attain to any more divine learning than to spell Pater, father, and when thou shouldst come to put together, and to put thy heart to it, as Solomon’s phrase here is, instead of Pater father thou wilt say Agnus, thy mind running a-madding after profit and pleasures of the world, as hath been once before noted.

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    Trapp, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 22:17". John Trapp Complete Commentary. 1865-1868.

    Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary

    Proverbs 22:17-21, forming the introduction to this appendix, are these Words of the Wise:

    17 Incline thine ear and hear the words of the wise,

    And direct thine heart to my knowledge!

    18 For it is pleasant if thou keep them in thine heart;

    Let them abide together on thy lips.

    19 That thy trust may be placed in Jahve,

    I have taught thee to-day, even thee!

    20 Have not I written unto thee choice proverbs,

    Containing counsels and knowledge,

    21 To make thee to know the rule of the words of truth,

    That thou mightest bring back words which are truth to them that send thee?

    From Proverbs 10:1 to Proverbs 22:16 are the “Proverbs of Solomon,” and not “The Words of the Wise;” thus the above παραίνεσις is not an epilogue, but a prologue to the following proverbs. The perfects הודעתּיך and כתבתּי refer, not to the Solomonic proverbial discourses, but to the appendix following them; the preface commends the worth and intention of this appendix, and uses perfects because it was written after the forming of the collection. The author of this preface ( vid ., pp. 23, 36, vol. i.) is no other than the author of chap. 1-9. The הט (with Mehuppach, after Thorath Emeth, p. 27) reminds us of Proverbs 4:20; Proverbs 5:1. The phrase שׁית לב, animum advertere , occurs again in the second appendix, Proverbs 24:32. נעים is repeated at Proverbs 23:8; Proverbs 24:4; but נעם with נעם is common in the preface, chap. 1-9. כּי־נעים contains, as at Psalms 135:3; Psalms 147:1, its subject in itself. כּי־תּשׁמרם is not this subject: this that thou preservest them, which would have required rather the infin. שׁמרם (Psalms 133:1) or לשׁמרם ; but it supposes the case in which appears that which is amiable and praiseworthy: if thou preservest them in thy heart, i.e., makest them thoughtfully become thy mental possession. The suffix ēm refers to the Words of the Wise, and mediately also to לדעתּי, for the author designates his practical wisdom דעתי, which is laid down in the following proverbs, which, although not composed by him, are yet penetrated by his subjectivity. Regarding בּטן, which, from meaning the inner parts of the body, is transferred to the inner parts of the mind, vid ., under Proverbs 20:27. The clause 18b, if not dependent on כי, would begin with ויכּנוּ . The absence of the copula and the antecedence of the verb bring the optative rendering nearer. Different is the syntactical relation of Proverbs 5:2, where the infin. is continued in the fin. The fut. Niph . יכּנוּ, which, Proverbs 4:27, meant to be rightly placed, rightly directed, here means: to stand erect, to have continuance, stabilem esse . In Proverbs 22:19, the fact of instruction precedes the statement of its object, which is, that the disciple may place his confidence in Jahve, for he does that which is according to His will, and is subject to His rule. מבטחך, in Codd. and correct editions with Pathach ( vid ., Michlol 184b); the ח is as virtually doubled; vid ., under Proverbs 21:22. In 19b the accentuation הודעתיך היום is contrary to the syntax; Codd. and old editions have rightly הודעתיך היום, for אף־אתּה is, after Gesen. §121. 3, an emphatic repetition of “thee;” אף, like גּם, Proverbs 23:15; 1 Kings 21:19. Hitzig knows of no contrast which justifies the emphasis. But the prominence thus effected is not always of the nature of contrast (cf. Zechariah 7:5, have ye truly fasted to me, i.e., to serve me thereby), here it is strong individualizing; the te etiam te is equivalent to, thee as others, and thee in particular. Also that, as Hitzig remarks, there does not appear any reason for the emphasizing of “to-day,” is incorrect: היּום is of the same signification as at Psalms 95:7; the reader of the following proverbs shall remember later, not merely in general, that he once on a time read them, but that he to-day, that he on this definite day, received the lessons of wisdom contained therein, and then, from that time forth, became responsible for his obedience or his disobedience.

    In 20a the Chethı̂b שלשום denotes no definite date; besides, this word occurs only always along with תּמול ( עתמול ). Umbreit, Ewald, Bertheau, however, accept this “formerly (lately),” and suppose that the author here refers to a “Book for Youths,” composed at an earlier period, without one seeing what this reference, which had a meaning only for his contemporaries, here denotes. The lxx reads כתבתּ, and finds in 20a, contrary to the syntax and the usus loq ., the exhortation that he who is addressed ought to write these good doctrines thrice ( τρισσῶς ) on the tablet of his heart; the Syr. and Targ. suppose the author to say that he wrote them three times; Jerome, that he wrote them threefold - both without any visible meaning, since threefold cannot be equivalent to manchfeltiglich (Luther) [= several times, in various ways]. Also the Kerı̂ שׁלשׁים, which without doubt is the authentic word, is interpreted in many unacceptable ways; Rashi and Elia Wilna, following a Midrash explanation, think on the lessons of the Law, the Prophets, and the Hagiographa; Arama, on those which are referable to three classes of youth; Malbim (as if here the author of the whole Book of Proverbs, from 1 to 31, spake), on the supposed three chief parts of the Mishle ; Dächsel better, on chap. 1-9, as the product of the same author as this appendix. Schultens compares Ecclesiastes 4:12, and translates triplici filo nexa . Kimchi, Meîri, and others, are right, who gloss שׁלישׁים by דברים נכבדים, and compare נגידים, Proverbs 8:6; accordingly the Veneta, with the happy quid pro quo, by τρισμέγιστα . The lxx translates the military שׁלישׁ by τριστάτης ; but this Greek word is itself obscure, and is explained by Hesychius (as well as by Suidas, and in the Etymologicum ) by Regii satellites qui ternas hastas manu tenebant , which is certainly false. Another Greek, whom Angellius quotes, says, under Exodus 15:4, that τριστάτης was the name given to the warriors who fought from a chariot, every three of whom had one war-chariot among them; and this appears, according to Exodus 14:7; Exodus 15:4, to be really the primary meaning. In the period of David we meet with the word שׁלישׁים as the name of the heroes (the Gibbôrı̂m ) who stood nearest the king. The shalish -men form the élite troops that stood highest in rank, at whose head stood two triads of heroes - Jashobeam at the head of the first trias, and thus of the shalish -men generally; Abishai at the head of the second trias, who held an honourable place among the shalish -men, but yet reached not to that first trias, 2 Samuel 23:8. (= 1 Chronicles 11:11.). The name השּׁלישׁים ( Apoc . 2 Samuel 23:8, השּׁלשׁי, and 2 Samuel 23:13, 1 Chronicles 27:6, incorrectly השּׁלשׁים ) occurs here with reference to the threefold division of this principal host; and in regard to the use of the word in the time of Pharaoh, as well as in the time of the kings, it may be granted that shalish denotes the Three-man ( triumvir ), and then generally a high military officer; so that שׁלשׁים here has the same relation to נגידים, Proverbs 8:6, as ducalia to principalia . The name of the chief men (members of the chief troop) is transferred to the chief proverbs, as, James 2:8, that law which stands as a king at the head of all the others is called the “royal law;” or, as Plato names the chief powers of the soul, μέρη ἡγεμόνες . As in this Platonic word-form, so shalishim here, like negidim there, is understood neut. cf. under Proverbs 8:6, and ריקים, Proverbs 12:11; ישׁרים, Proverbs 16:13. The ב of בּמעצות (occurring at Proverbs 1:31 also) Fleischer rightly explains as the ב of uniting or accompanying: chief proverbs which contain good counsels and solid knowledge.

    In the statement of the object in Proverbs 22:21, we interpret that which follows להודיעך not permutat.: ut te docerem recta, verba vera (Fleischer); but קשׁט (ground-form to קשׁט, Psalms 60:6) is the bearer of the threefold idea: rectitudinem , or, better, regulam verborum veritatis . The (Arab.) verb ḳasiṭa means to be straight, stiff, inflexible (synon. צדק, to be hard, tight, proportionately direct); and the name ḳisṭ denotes not only the right conduct, the right measure ( quantitas justa ), but also the balance, and thus the rule or the norm. In 21b, אמרים אמת (as e.g., Zechariah 1:13; vid ., Philippi, Status Constr . p. 86f.) is equivalent to אמרי אמת ; the author has this second time intentionally chosen the appositional relation of connection: words which are truth; the idea of truth presents itself in this form of expression more prominently. Impossible, because contrary to the usus loq ., is the translation: ut respondeas verba vera iis qui ad te mittunt (Schultens, Fleischer), because שׁלח, with the accus. following, never means “to send any one.” Without doubt השׁיב and שׁלח stand in correlation to each other: he who lets himself be instructed must be supposed to be in circumstances to bring home, to those that sent him out to learn, doctrines which are truth, and thus to approve himself. The subject spoken of here is not a right answer or a true report brought back to one giving a commission; and it lies beyond the purpose and power of the following proverbs to afford a universal means whereby persons sent out are made skilful. The שׁלחים [senders] are here the parents or guardians who send him who is to be instructed to the school of the teacher of wisdom (Hitzig). Yet it appears strange that he who is the learner is just here not addressed as “my son,” which would go to the support of the expression, “to send to school,” which is elsewhere unused in Old Hebrew, and the שׁלחי of another are elsewhere called those who make him their mandatar , Proverbs 10:26; Proverbs 25:13; 2 Samuel 24:13. The reference to the parents would also be excluded if, with Norzi and other editors, לשׁלחך were to be read instead of לשׁלחיך (the Venet . 1521, and most editions). Therefore the phrase לשׁעליך, which is preferred by Ewald, recommends itself, according to which the lxx translates, τοῖς προβαλλομένοις σοι, which the Syro-Hexap. renders

    (Note: The Syr. n. fem . awchda ( אוּחדא, Psalms 49:5, Targ.) is equivalent to Heb. חידה, from (Syr.) achd, אחד = אחז, Nehemiah 7:3, to shut up, properly, to lay hold on and retain; the Arab. akhdhat means magic, incantation; as seizing and making fast.)

    by להנון דאחדין לך אוחדתא yb, i.e., to those who lay problems before thee ( vid ., Lagarde). The teacher of wisdom seeks to qualify him who reads the following proverbs, and permits himself to be influenced by them, to give the right answer to those who question him and go to him for counsel, and thus to become himself a teacher of wisdom.

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    Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Proverbs 22:17". 1854-1889.

    Kingcomments on the Whole Bible

    Words of Truth Are Excellent Things

    In Pro 22:17 a new collection of proverbs begins, which is the fourth part of the book. From Proverbs 10:1 Solomon has passed on more general observations to his son and leaves their application to him. He did that by using verses of two lines with a clear cohesion in a few cases only. Now he proceeds with directly addressing and admonishing his son, as he did in Proverbs 1-9. He changes his way of addressing. We also see here that there are more verses that correspond with each other; there are no more separate verses of two lines, as in the previous part.

    The Pro 22:17-21 are an introduction. Solomon exhorts his son to dedicate himself to studying "the words of the wise". In that way his spiritual life will get a strong basis. He will also be able to give wise counsel to those who ask him for advice. Knowledge is given to us, in order for us to serve with it, so that others may learn from what we have learnt. In that way we can serve our generation according to the will of God. We should thereby consider that the knowledge we gain might be very brilliant, but yet powerless if we do not apply them first ourselves, especially in our own lives (cf. Ezra 7:10).

    "Incline your ear" (Pro 22:17) goes further than only listening or paying attention to. It has to do with bowing down in an attitude of humility. The willingness to learn is shown in the humble mind that one shows. He who is humble, can listen to the teaching which contains the words of the wise.

    Young people often think that they know everything. One who realizes his need for teaching and is also willing to make efforts to get it, acknowledges his lack of knowledge and the necessity that he needs others to teach him. He will focus his heart on the knowledge that the teacher of wisdom has. He will accept and save the knowledge that this teacher passes on to him within his heart.

    The word "for" with which Pro 22:18 begins, indicates that now the motive of the appeal of Pro 22:17 follows. "It will be pleasant" if the son will keep the words of the wise within him. It is about starting a provision of knowledge within the heart. When this knowledge is present, it can also be ready on the lips; words of knowledge can continually be spoken. "For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart" (Mt 12:34).

    In Pro 22:19, the goal of the appeal of Pro 22:17 is given. That appears from the word "so" with which the verse begins. That goal is confidence in the LORD and not in one's own understanding or capabilities. That is a matter of "today", and therefore of every day, for every day is today. It is also emphatically addressed personally to the son – thus to everyone personally – because it is taught "you … even you!".

    Without reservation, Solomon calls what he has told and written to his son "excellent things" (Pro 22:20). Are we also convinced in such a way about that? Whether the truths of God's Word are also 'excellent things' to us, appears from the time that we spend on the reading and examining of God's Word. That also determines what we tell and write to our children about it. The counsels and knowledge that we pass on, will also become 'excellent things' when they see in our lives that they are also like that to us.

    The father passes on "words of truth" with the conviction of the "certainty" of it (Pro 22:21). This applies to the gospel and to everything that should give guidance in our lives. The Word of God has come to us "with full conviction" (1Thes 1:5) because words of truth, of which there is no doubt about its certainty, have been spoken to us.

    The father does not relativize, in contrast to what is often done with the Bible today. Statements from God cannot be considered 'right' anymore, for according to many, it is not more than an opinion. One is not allowed to say: 'This is what the Scripture says', but one should say: 'I think that the Scripture says this or that'. Simple, clear statements are presented as vague or difficult to be explained. If God's Word says that women are to be silent in the church (1Cor 14:34), today interpreters say that it should not be read in such a way.

    The Word of God is the only reliable touch stone that has been given to us. Also the form in which the words in God's Word have been given to us, is reliable. It is the model, the example, to which we should focus and adjust our lives accordingly (Rom 6:14; 2Tim 1:13).

    When we are convinced about the reliability of the words that the wise has taught us, and these words are in us, we shall speak words of truth to those who have sent us to somewhere with a certain assignment. People can rely on us. We are faithful in our reporting and we shall not give a better or worse picture than the reality.

    The Lord Jesus has sent us into the world with an assignment. The only way for us to carry out that assignment well, is when we are fully convinced about His Word and pass it on, whether it is passing on the gospel to the unbelievers or teaching the local churches. With the words that we have spoken in His assignment, we can go back to Him and say that we have done what He has commanded us to do.

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    de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Proverbs 22:17". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.

    The Popular Commentary by Paul E. Kretzmann

    v. 17. Bow down thine ear, inclining it in the attitude of the most careful attention, and hear the words of the wise, and apply thine heart unto my knowledge, that presented by the inspired author in this new section of the Book of Proverbs.

    Copyright Statement
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    Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Proverbs 22:17". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". 1921-23.

    Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and Homiletical


    Proverbs 22:17 to Proverbs 24:34

    First Supplement:—Various precepts concerning righteousness and practical wisdom

    Proverbs 22:17 to Proverbs 24:22

    a) Introductory admonition to take to heart the words of the wise man

    Proverbs 22:17-21

    17 Incline thine ear and hear words of the wise,

    and apply thine heart to my knowledge!

    18 For it is pleasant if thou keep them within thee;

    let them abide together upon thy lips!

    19 That thy trust may be in Jehovah,

    I have taught thee this day, even thee!

    20 Have not I written to thee excellent words,

    with counsels and knowledge,

    21 to make known to thee the certainty of the words of truth,

    that thou mightest return words of truth to them that send thee?

    b) Admonition to justice toward others, especially the poor

    Proverbs 22:22-29

    22 Rob not the poor because he is poor,

    and oppress not the wretched in the gate;

    23 for Jehovah will conduct their cause,

    and spoil the soul of those that spoil them.

    24 Have no intercourse with an angry Prayer of Manasseh,

    and with a furious man thou shalt not go,

    25 lest thou learn his ways

    and prepare a snare for thy soul.

    26 Be not among them that strike hands,

    who become sureties for debts;

    27 if thou hast nothing to pay

    why shall he take thy bed from under thee?

    28 Remove not the ancient landmark

    which thy fathers have set.

    29 Seest thou a man that is diligent in his business—

    before kings shall he stand;

    he shall not stand before mean men.


    [Observe the interchange of the imperative הַט with the 2 d pers. sing. of the Imperf. תָּשִׁית.—A.]

    [In יַחְדָּו we have illustrated, as in many other instances, the final disregard of the originally strict application of the suffixes to their own person and number: let them abide in its entireness, etc.—A.]

    [Bött. § 707, 2, explains the masc. adj. שָׁלִשִׁים of the K’ri as an example of masculines used in describing the pre-eminent and striking,—but on account of the הַיּוֹם of Proverbs 22:19 gives the preference to the K’thibh שִׁלְשׁוֹם. So Stuart and Muensch.—A.]

    [לְשֹׁלְחֶיךָ, one of the plural participles, not uncommon in our book, to be taken distributively, as applicable to each of all possible cases. Bött. § 702, ε.—A.]

    [Further examples of the Jussive with the negative adverb אַל, instead of a direct prohibition with the Imperative; comp. Latin, ne facias; Greek, μὴ γράφῃς (Kuehner, § 250, 5, Hadley, § 723, a); as though in prohibitions a sense of fitness or obligation were appealed to rather than an authority asserted.—A.]—( Proverbs 22:24). אֵת בּוֹא here, in accordance with the later usus loquendi, is equivalent to אֵת הָלַךְ; comp. Psalm 26:4.

    [The more compact form תֶּאְלַף for תֶּאֱלַף under the influence of the preceding פֶּך; Bött. § 1059, d.—A.]

    [An example of what is called the concrete impersonal in Hebrew is found in יִקַּח; why should he, any one do this? Bött. § 935, c.—A.]

    [יִתְיַצֵּב; Böttcher’s Fiens licitum or debitum, rendered by the German darf: it is his privilege or prerogative.—A.]


    1. That a new division of the collection begins with Proverbs 22:17, coming from another hand than compiled the preceding main division, appears not merely from the expression “words of wise men,” which reminds us of Proverbs 1:6, but also from the characteristic style of the proverbs which are found from this point onward to the end of chap24. These no longer consist of verses of two clauses constructed according to the antithetic parallelism, but for the most part of longer sentences, which as a general rule comprise two verses, sometimes, however, three (e.g. Proverbs 23:1-3; Proverbs 23:6-8), or even five (thus Proverbs 23:31-35; Proverbs 24:30-34). By the side of the isolated proverbs containing an antithesis of two members, such as are here and there interspersed (e.g. Proverbs 22:28; Proverbs 23:9; Proverbs 23:12; Proverbs 23:19; Proverbs 23:22; Proverbs 24:8 sq, 23sq.), there are found in addition several verses constructed of three clauses ( Proverbs 22:29; Proverbs 23:5; Proverbs 23:7; Proverbs 23:31; Proverbs 23:35; Proverbs 24:12; Proverbs 24:31). There is prevalent everywhere the minutely hortatory or in turn admonitory style, rather than that which is descriptive and announces facts. The אַל which serves to introduce the utterance of warnings is found not less than seventeen times within the two and a half chapters before us, while in the twelve chapters of the preceding main division it occurred but twice ( Proverbs 20:13; Proverbs 20:22). Many linguistic peculiarities in the section appear, moreover, to indicate a later period; whether it be the earliest period after the exile, as Hitzig proposes, may indeed be the more doubtful and uncertain, since many peculiarities of the section, especially the expression, “words of the wise” (in Proverbs 22:17), like the prevailing admonitory tone of the discourse, seem to favor the assumption of Delitzsch, that its author is identical with that of the introductory main division, chap1–9. Comp. Introduction, § 12, p29.

    2. Proverbs 22:17-21. The introductory admonition to give heed to the words of the wise.

    Proverbs 22:18. For it is pleasant if thou keep them within thee. “Them,” viz., “the words of the wise,” for only to these can the suffix relate, and not to “my knowledge;” so that accordingly this proposition in Proverbs 22:18 a, beginning with “for,” serves to justify only the first half and not the whole of Proverbs 22:17. With18 b: let them abide together upon thy lips, the admonitory discourse proceeds, and in the first instance attaches itself to the substance of17 b (comp. Proverbs 5:2). Against the common construction, which regards the verb יִֹכּנוּ as a continuation of the conditional clause, “if thou keep,” etc., [so e.g. De W, N, S, M, Muffet, etc.], we adduce the absence of a second conditional particle, or at least a copula before the Imperf, which in its present position at the beginning of a clause clearly appears to be a Jussive. Comp. Hitzig on this passage.

    Proverbs 22:19. That thy trust may be in Jehovah I have taught thee this day, even thee! The perfect represents the work of teaching as already begun and now in progress, like the “I have given,” Proverbs 4:2.—אַף אַתָּה, etiam te, inquam, Germ. ja dich! yea, thee! even thee! The expression brings out strongly the idea that the present teaching is designed for the student of wisdom who is here addressed, for him and for no one else (Mercer, Geier, J. H. Michaelis, Ewald, De W, Bertheau, etc.). There is no occasion for Umbreit’s interrogative conception of the words: “but thou?”: i.e. dost thou also attend to my teaching? and the same is true of Hitzig’s attempted emendation, according to which we should read אַף אֹתָהּ, “this also, the very same.”—The first member, moreover, gives not so much the substance as the object of the teaching, and that as consisting in the development of a firm trust in God, or in the increase and establishment of faith (comp. Luke 17:5).

    Proverbs 22:20. Have I not written (Z, “behold, I write) to thee excellent words? (The K’ri שָׁלִישִׁים from שָׁלִישׁ), which is equivalent to נָגִיד, “a great Prayer of Manasseh, a nobleman” (comp. Keil on 2 Samuel 23:8), describes the words as of the highest, noblest worth, of pre-eminent value, as verba eximia s. principalia (comp. the similar term in Proverbs 8:6). Song of Solomon, and doubtless correctly, Ziegler, Ewald, Elster, etc. Comp. the early rendering, τρισμέγιστα, of the Vers. Veneta. [K. renders “expressive, or significant,” bedeutsam]. Others interpret the K’ri differently, e.g. Hitzig: bequests, Vermächtnisse (in accordance with the Rabbinic שָׁלִישׁ, depositarius); the Vulg. and some of the older expositors, “three-fold, i.e. several times, in various ways” (so Luther): or even “in three forms,” so that the reference will be to the Law, the Prophets, and the Hagiographa, as the three chief constituents of the divine word, or again, to the three books of Song of Solomon, etc. The K’thibh is explained ordinarily, by supplying an omitted תְּמוֹל, in the sense of “before, formerly;” thus Umbreit, e.g.; “have I not formerly written to thee?” (In a similar way Bertheau). But the ellipsis of a “yesterday” before this שִׂלְשׁוֹם would be without any linguistic analogy; and in a section which introduces subsequent admonitions a reminder of teachings formerly given seems little appropriate. For this reason the K’ri in the sense above given is unquestionably to be preferred. [S. and M. prefer the adverbial rendering; the majority of the English commentators with the E. V. the substantive.—A.]—With counsels and knowledge, so far forth, viz., as these are contained in the “princely words.”

    Proverbs 22:21. To make known to thee the certainty of the words of truth. “Correctness, verity,” as e.g. in the Targ. on Jeremiah 22:13; Jeremiah 22:15; Sam. Genesis 15:6 (where it is made equivalent to צֶדֶק, “righteousness”). Comp. the Chaldee קוּשְׁטָא in the Targ. on our passage.—That thou mightest be able to return words of truth to them that send thee. “Words, truth,” a sort of apposition, describing the discourse to be conveyed as consisting of words which are “as it were themselves the truth” (Umbreit, Elster). The expression is like the “words consolations, i.e. consoling words,” in Zechariah 1:13.—The “senders” (comp. Proverbs 10:26) are here naturally the parents, who have sent their son to the teacher of Wisdom of Solomon, that he may bring back thence to them real culture of spirit and heart; or again, that “he may know how to bring home to them in all things true and not false or erroneous report” (Hitzig).—[Holden unnecessarily makes the suffix of the participle represent an indirect object; “them that send unto thee.” For the construction “words truth” see Green, § 253, 2.—A.]

    3. Proverbs 22:22-29. Admonition to justice toward others, especially the poor and distressed.—Rob not the poor because he is poor. דָּל is the depressed, the straitened, he who is deprived of help for judicial contests and other cases of want, and who therefore needs the protection of the more powerful and the more prosperous.—And oppress not the poor in the gate, i.e. in the place where courts are held; comp. Job 5:4; Job 31:21; Psalm 127:5.—[Comp. Thomson‘s Land and Book, Proverbs 1:31; and other works illustrative of Oriental usages, passim.—A.]

    Proverbs 22:23. For Jehovah will conduct their cause. The emphatic announcement of the reason for the warning in the preceding ver.; comp. Proverbs 23:11. With respect to the just punishment threatened in clause b, comp. Matthew 18:32 sq.—[God is not merely a formidable because an all-just and almighty advocate, appearing before the unjust tribunal, in behalf of the wronged; He is not merely a judge sitting in a higher court of appeal; He is the executor of the universal laws of justice to which the judges as well as the arraigned of earth are alike amenable. When Jehovah “cheats or spoils” it is in vindication and not in violation of eternal justice and right. Fuerst makes the “life” an adverbial modification, and not the object, so that it expresses the extent of his work, “even to the life.”—A.]

    Proverbs 22:24-25. Warning against intercourse with men of violent temper, like Proverbs 26:21; Proverbs 29:22; comp. James 1:20.—And with a furious man thou shalt not go, lit, “go not along with him.”—And prepare a snare for thy soul; viz., the passion that would become a snare, a fatal net for thee (comp. Proverbs 20:25).—With the warning against suretyship in Proverbs 22:26-27, comp. Proverbs 6:1-4; Proverbs 11:15; Proverbs 17:18; Proverbs 20:16.

    Proverbs 22:28. Warning against the violent removal of boundaries; comp. the prohibitions of the Law; Deuteronomy 19:14; Deuteronomy 27:17; and also Job 24:2; Hosea 5:10; and below, Proverbs 23:10-11.

    Proverbs 22:29. Seest thou a man diligent in business. The verb, a Perf. Kal, is conditional; “if thou seest;” comp. Proverbs 6:22. מָהִיר, apt, active, expert (Luther, endelich).—Before kings shall he stand (Z. “may he set himself”), viz. to serve them, to receive their commands, comp. 1 Samuel 16:21-22.—He shall not stand before mean men. Lit, “men in the dark,” homines obscuri, ignobiles (Vulg.). The antithesis to the “kings” is naturally an idea of a somewhat general and comprehensive kind, describing those who belong to the low multitude, the plebeians. To generalize the idea of “king” in like manner, as if it here expressed something like “noble, rich,” is therefore unnecessary (in opposition to Hitzig on this passage). [Lord Bacon says: Of all the qualities which kings especially look to and require in the choice of their servants, that of despatch and energy in the transactions of business is the most acceptable, etc, etc. There is no other virtue which does not present some shadow of offence to the minds of kings. Expedition in the execution of their commands is the only one which contains nothing that is not acceptable (De Augmentis Scientiarum, Lib. VIII.)].


    There are only two main ideas with the presentation of which this section is concerned; these, however, are thoughts of no slight weight and significance. That true Wisdom of Solomon, which is indeed one with firm confidence in God, is to be secured and maintained above all things else, the introductory admonition ( Proverbs 22:17-21) brings out with earnest emphasis. And that such wisdom as this should manifest itself in a demeanor toward one’s fellow-men just and kind in all directions,—to impress this is the single aim and end of the hortatory and admonitory addresses that follow in Proverbs 22:22-29.—For not merely the warnings against the unrighteous plundering of one’s neighbors ( Proverbs 22:22-23), against passion and a ruinous familiarity with the passionate, and against a wicked removal of boundaries, have this end in view,—but also the cautions against suretyship, which are apparently brought forward merely as prudential suggestions ( Proverbs 22:20; Proverbs 22:27), and against the wasting of executive talents and skill in the service of insignificant masters ( Proverbs 22:29), fall under the same generalization, so far forth as both kinds of unwise conduct point to an intentional hiding of the talent received from the Lord, and to an inclination to the low and the common, which is as wilful as it is unprofitable and contemptible. He who through inconsiderate suretyship for unworthy men deprives himself of the means of a free and vigorous efficiency in life, puts his light under a bushel quite as really, and with no less guilt than he who fritters away his strength in a narrow and obscure sphere of labor, rather than by earnest striving for an influential station seeks to make the results of his activity the common property of many. Comp. Matthew 5:14-16; Matthew 25:24; John 3:20-21; John 7:4.

    These two main truths,—the praise of wisdom as the source of all real confidence in God, and the subsequent admonition to righteousness in many particulars, meet in the idea of Faith, or obedient consecration to the invisible holy God, as the sum of all true wisdom ( Proverbs 22:19). Put in form as the leading thought in a homiletic discussion, this fundamental idea would be expressed in some such way as this: On faith in God as the ground of all righteousness and the end of all “wisdom;—or, Faith (confidence in God) as the basis and end of all wisdom.—Stöcker (regarding the whole as a direct continuation of Proverbs 22:1-16): Admonition to seek after a good name.—Starke: Admonition to obedience to the true wisdom (17–21), to right treatment of the poor (22, 23), to the avoidance of intercourse with bad men (24–27), and to a scrupulous regard for boundaries (28, 29).

    Proverbs 22:17-21. Zeltner: All the world’s pleasure is to be accounted nothing in comparison with the true, sweet pleasure which comes from the word of God. This they know who have tasted the sweetness of this word ( Hebrews 6:5).—J. Lange: Where the good will to obey is wanting, there all teaching and preaching are vain. This is the reason why so many hundred sermons are heard by the majority without profit.—He who is heartily and willingly obedient to Christ finds in this no burden; in Christ’s obedience consists rather the highest joy.—R. Florey (on Proverbs 22:17-19; see Hirtenstimmen an die Gemeinde im Hause des Herrn, II, Leips, 1849): In the training of your children let your hope be directed to the Lord; for1) the word of the Lord gives the right direction; 2) His service gives the right strength; 3) His grace gives the right power besides.—Th. Hergang (Reformationspredigt) on Proverbs 22:17-19; (see Sonntagsfeier, 1861, p357): What a blessed duty is it to hold in honor the memory of such men as have deserved well in the true culture of their own and succeeding times! [A. Fuller ( Proverbs 22:17-18): If we study the Scriptures as Christians, the more familiar we are with them, the more we shall feel their importance; but if otherwise, our familiarity with the word will be like that of soldiers and doctors with death—it will wear away all sense of its importance from our minds.—Trapp ( Proverbs 22:19): Only a Divine word can beget a Divine faith.]

    Proverbs 22:22-29. Starke (on Proverbs 22:22-23): If the Lord efficiently sympathizes with those who are in outward poverty, still more does He do this for the spiritually poor, who are of broken heart and tremble at His word ( Isaiah 66:2).—[Arnot (on Proverbs 22:22-23): There is a causal connection and not merely a coincidence between the spread of God’s word and the security of men’s rights in a land. As worship rises to heaven, justice radiates on earth. If faith go foremost, charity will follow.—Lawson ( Proverbs 22:22): For magistrates to be guilty of the crime of oppression, is a perversion of an institution of God into an engine of abominable wickedness.—(On Proverbs 22:23): The unjust spoiler has the mercy of God against him as well as His justice.—Trapp (on Proverbs 22:23): A poor man’s livelihood is his life. God, therefore, who loves to pay oppressors home in their own coin, will have life for life.—Lord Bacon (on Proverbs 22:24): It is of the first importance for the peace and security of life to have no dealings with passionate men, or such as easily engage in disputes and quarrels; for they will perpetually involve us in strife and faction, so that we shall be compelled either to break off our friendship, or disregard our own safety.—Bridges (on Proverbs 22:26-27): In “devising liberal things” we must combine scrupulous regard to justice and truth. Else our charity will prove the scandal, instead of the glory, of our profession.]—Melanchthon (on Proverbs 22:28): The injunction (that boundaries are not to be removed) may by a simple allegory be expanded to this prohibition; that laws in general that are venerable from their age are not to be altered, except in case of the most pressing and obvious need.—Von Gerlach (On Proverbs 22:29): Peculiar facility and ability God will bring into an appropriate sphere of action.—[Trapp: A diligent man shall not long sit in a low place. Or if he do all the days of his life, yet if his diligence proceed out of conscience, “he shall stand before the King” of kings when he dies.]

    Copyright Statement
    These files are a derivative of an electronic edition available at Public Domain.
    Bibliographical Information
    Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Proverbs 22:17". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". 1857-84.

    Matthew 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, 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 22:17-24:34, 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): "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. (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. 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.

    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
    Bibliographical Information
    Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Proverbs 22:17". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". 1706.

    Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible

    To these words, to this knowledge, the ear must be bowed down, and the heart applied by faith and love. To live a life of delight in God and dependence on him, is the foundation of all practical religion. The way to know the certainty of the word of truth, is to make conscience of our duty.

    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
    Bibliographical Information
    Henry, Matthew. "Concise Commentary on Proverbs 22:17". "Matthew Henry Concise Commentary

    on the Whole Bible". 1706.

    Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

    Of the wise; of wise and holy men of God.

    Apply thine heart; thirst after it, and give of thyself to the diligent study of it.

    My knowledge; the knowledge of God, and of thy several duties, which I am here delivering to thee.

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    Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Proverbs 22:17". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.

    Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible

    First Division, Proverbs 22:17 to Proverbs 24:22.

    . This collection of sayings of the wise (Proverbs 22:17) is prefaced by a short introduction exhorting the pupil, as is Proverbs 22:1-9, to study them. The author is apparently addressing a pupil or envoy, and states that he has written down these sayings that his pupil may trust in the Lord and may take back words of truth to them that sent him.

    Proverbs 22:20. excellent things: very doubtful rendering, resting on the Heb. mg. The Heb. text has a word which usually forms part of the compound adverb "formerly." On the whole, though Toy rejects it, "formerly" is the best that can be done with a word that is probably irretrievably corrupt.

    Proverbs 22:24. cf. Sirach 8:15 f.

    Proverbs 22:26. strike hands: i.e. those who pledge themselves, giving their hand in token of their engagement (cf. Isaiah 2:6).

    Proverbs 22:27. cf. Proverbs 20:16.

    Proverbs 22:28. The second half of the quatrain has probably fallen out by scribal error (cf. Proverbs 23:10 and Deuteronomy 19:14).

    Proverbs 22:29. diligent: read mg. (cf. Ezra 7:6).—mean: read mg.

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    Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Proverbs 22:17". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". 1919.

    Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary


    Pro . Them that send unto thee, rather "them that send thee." "The senders here," says Zckler, "are naturally the parents, who have sent their son to the teacher of wisdom, that he may bring back thence to them real culture of spirit and heart."



    I. Knowledge of God must go before faith in God. There must be a knowledge of the existence, character, and power of any person before there can be any trust in him. God is not so unreasonable as to expect men to put trust in Him unless they have some grounds for their trust. Hence the Bible especially aims to make men acquainted with the Being upon whom they are called to exercise faith, by declarations concerning His character, and by a history of His doings in the past, and reminders of what He is doing in the present. Sometimes God points to the visible creation as a source whence men may obtain knowledge concerning Him, and come to exercise trust in Him. This is the drift of the sublime passage in Isaiah 40, in which Jehovah seeks to bring Israel, by a consideration of His creative power and wisdom, to confide in His Almighty strength. (Pro .) Sometimes He appeals to His dealings in the past as a ground of faith in His character and purposes in the present. What iniquity have your fathers found in me, that they are gone far from me? (Jer 2:5.) The Son of God appeals to His Father's love as a basis of faith in Himself. (Joh 3:16.) Paul speaks of the way of salvation as a "knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (2Co 4:6.), because without knowledge there can be no faith, and an enlightened knowledge will certainly lead to faith. The preacher here points to the necessity of gaining this true wisdom, the knowledge of Jehovah, as the means of begetting trust in Him.

    II. Real blessedness will follow faith in God. A child can have no lasting and real joy in its life, unless it has faith in his father's love and wisdom. He feels instinctively that he is dependent upon that father, that much of his future well-being depends upon what that father is and does, and if he cannot be sure that he has his real welfare at heart, it will throw a dark shadow over his young life, which will deepen as he becomes more and more capable of realising his position. It is a worm at the root of all our peace of mind to distrust where we must depend. All men must feel that they are dependent upon God, and yet most men live, and perhaps most die, without giving Him that trust which alone can give them peace, and which those who know Him testify that He fully deserves. The testimony of those who knew is "Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is." (Jer .) And it is because of its trust-begetting character that Solomon here declares that true knowledge—knowledge concerning Jehovah—is "pleasant" to the soul.

    III. Faith in the heart will manifest itself in the lip. A perfume may be hidden in the casket, but whenever the lid is lifted it will make its presence known. The tongue will speak sometimes of that which fills the heart, and when it does not do this in a direct manner there will be a tone in the conversation which will tell men what the soul prizes most. Knowledge in the heart will bring wise words to the lips—the love of truth will result in the answer of truth.


    Pro . This sounds like the opening of the earlier Proverbs, chap. Pro 5:1; Pro 8:1. The repetition is significant. The life of the soul is attention. If that be persevered in, all things follow. God only can give saving light. And yet by laws like the planetary system, He will give it on the bending of the ear. Alas for us! we will not even do this much without His influence. Nevertheless He urges the promise. (See Miller's rendering in the additional notes at the beginning of this paragraph.) It is a law, though it be a law of grace. God has framed it. Hear outwardly, and thou shalt feel within. Such is our nature (chap. Pro 2:1-5), and it is shrewd to use it. The inclining is from Him; but the advice also is from Him! Shrink not from the advice because His strength is needed to make it His chosen instrument.—Miller.

    We may mark that, whereas in the beginning of Proverbs the Wise Man had often called on his son to fasten attention on him, saying, "My son, my son;" now, after so much said, he supposeth that he needeth not to be called upon, and therefore speaketh unto him, without his usual compellation. And surely when much hath been said, to need still much calling on, sheweth much neglect of what hath been said, and much unworthiness to have been an hearer of it. And yet because in the best some rousing of attention is requisite, the Wise Man here lifteth up his voice, to cause a careful bowing down of the ear to his words. He would therefore have attention so to bow down the ear, as to make it as it were a bed, wherein the words of the wise might rest; because that is it which will bring true rest unto the heart.… But we may further note, that whereas he would have him to hear the words of the wise, it is to his knowledge that he would have him apply his heart. For we may hear the words of the wise men of this world, we may hear the words of human learning and understanding, and much good is to be gotten from them; but we must apply our hearts unto the knowledge of God's word, and so far receive the other as they agree with that, or are not repugnant unto it. Or else hear the words of the wise, whosoever they be, if they be the words of wisdom which they deliver. But if their actions teach otherwise than their words do, apply not thine heart to follow their example. Let rather my knowledge instruct thee, that the heart may be as well applied to doing, as the ears to hearing.—Jermin.

    Pro . It will last when we get it. This is the wonder to others. Here one has been trying to be a better man, and begins to be one from a sudden epoch. Others wrestle with their faults, and fall back into them again. Nothing can be more fitful than all moral reformations. But here, in spiritual life, a flash shoots up, and we never return to darkness. Why is this? Because it is pleasant, says the proverb. It becomes fixed because of its principle as of a second nature.… When we watch over right words, which (Orientaliter) stands for all right actions, God rewards us by making them "pleasant," and so, even as in heaven itself, they become fixed as the very habit of our lips.—Miller.

    Many there are whose lips do speak the words of wisdom, but they are not fitted upon their lips.… The reason whereof is, because the words of wisdom are not seated in the heart. For though the lips may give themselves motion and the head may furnish them with matter, it is the heart that fitteth the lips.—Jermin.

    It will give thee most high satisfaction if thou dost so heartily entertain them, and thoroughly digest them, and faithfully preserve them in mind, that thou art able withal to produce any of them as there is occasion, and aptly communicate for other men's instruction.—Bp. Patrick.

    Pro .—

    1. The particularity of address—"to thee, even to thee." In the days of prophetic inspiration, it was no unusual thing for the servants of God to receive express commissions to individuals, in which they alone were concerned. But the whole Book of God—the entire "word of His testimony"—should be considered by every one as addressed to him; as much so as if there were no other human being besides himself, and as if it had been "given by inspiration" to himself alone. There is no room for any saying, as Jehu did of old—"To which of all us?" The answer would, in every case, be—To each of you all—to thee—to thee—to thee. Not that there is no such thing as, "rightly dividing the Word of Truth;" not that there are no portions of it that have a special appropriateness of application to the characters and circumstances of individuals. Still, the great truths of the Word are alike to each and to all. And speedily a man may be placed in one or other of the peculiar situations to which the different portions of it are adapted! I know of nothing more important than for every individual to bring divine lessons home to himself. Too often, alas! we forget personal amidst general application of particular truths. We think of them as intended for men, and forget that they are designed for us. Would you then profit by what you hear?—keep in mind that what is addressed to all is addressed to each—"to thee, even to thee."—

    2. Mark the emphasis on the time—"this day." We set a mark, in our minds, on days that have been rendered memorable by events of special interest. Would Noah, think you, ever forget the day of the year on which he and his family entered the ark, and when "the Lord shut him in?" or the day on which he again stepped out of it upon the green earth, to be the second father of mankind? Would the shepherds ever forget on what night of the year the angelic messengers, amidst the light of the glory of the Lord, announced to them the Divine Saviour's birth, and when "the multitude of the heavenly host," bursting on their sight, "ascended jubilant," saying "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men?" Or would Cornelius ever forget the day and the hour when the angelic visitant directed him to that instruction whereby he and all his house should be saved? You, it is true, have many times heard the words of truth. Let me, however, remind any of you who have thus often heard, and who still neglect them, of the importance to you of each day that you enjoy the privilege. Every time you thus hear them, your eternal all depends on the reception you give to the message of God. This day may be important indeed, for it may be the last on which Divine truth shall sound in your ears. O that it may be a day to be sacredly and joyfully remembered by every sinner now present, as the day on which he first felt its inestimable preciousness to his soul! If you thus bear, and thus improve the opportunity, the day will not be obliterated from your memory by the lapse of eternity. There is one thing of which with emphasis it may be said to each individual sinner, It is "to thee, even to thee:—I mean the message of the Gospel—the message of free mercy through the Divine Mediator. There is no exception; there is no difference. The law speaks to each, "to thee, even to thee"—its sentence of condemnation. The Gospel speaks to each—"to thee, even to thee"—its offer of free, full, immediate, irrevocable pardon on the ground of the universal atonement. To every fellow creature we can say—An adequate atonement has been made for all; therefore for thee—"for thee, even for thee;" and on the ground of that atonement does divine mercy come near to thee—"to thee, even to thee"—with the offer of forgiveness, acceptance, and life. "This day" is the message of life again "made known" unto thee, O sinner; and there is no obstacle to thine acceptance and enjoyment of it, but what is in thyself;—none in God; none in Christ; none in the atonement; none in the divine offer of its virtue to mankind. "To thee is the word of this salvation sent;" and "now is the accepted time, now the day of salvation."—Wardlaw.

    Only a divine word can beget a divine faith, and herein the Scripture excels all human writings, none of which can bring our hearts to the obedience of faith. "I can speak it by experience," says Erasmus, "that there is little good to be got by the Scripture, if a man read it cursorily and carelessly; but if he exercise himself therein constantly and conscionably he shall feel such a force in it, as is not to be found in any other book whatsoever" "I know," saith Peter Martyr, "that there are many who will never believe what we say of the power of God's Word hidden in the heart; and not a few that will jeer us, and think we are mad for saying so. But oh that they would be pleased to make trial! Let it never go well with me—for I am bold to swear in so weighty a business—if they find not themselves strangely taken and transformed into the same image." The Ephesians "trusted in God" so soon as they heard the word of truth. They "believed" and were "sealed." (Eph .) And the Thessalonians' faith was famous all the world over, when once the Gospel "came to them in power." (1Th 1:5-8.)—Trapp.

    Pro . How the preacher labours! Let us begin at his most expressive terminus. We are to be sent for! some certain day. "Those that send" is but the proverbial cast. "Him that sends" is the more perfect meaning. As sure as the stars we shall be sent for one day; and one thing will be exacted from us, and one only in the creation, and that is light. The man without light perishes. Solomon says, his whole aim has been to press light on the sinner.… "Have I not done," he says, "and that under Scriptural promises, the very best things to secure my object? And is not that object, now that I might make thee to know the verity of the words of truth!" This Hebrew is very peculiar. "Words of truth" are easily uttered. "Counsels and knowledge" of the deepest sort may be in the minds of infidels. We may teach a child the very intricacies of faith. But there is a "verity" at its deepest root that the natural man cannot perceive. (1Co 2:14.) To express this, Solomon uses a very infrequent word. It means (in radice) to weigh out so as to be exact. That I might make thee to know the exactness of words of truth. The meaning is that verity which is seen by a Christian eye.—Miller.

    Surely if anything be worthy of sending for, worthy of going for, then are the words of knowledge and truth. If they may be had for going or sending, who should not go, who should not send, whither should we not go, whither should we not send? They are they which must bring us to heaven and to happiness. Or else to take the sense another way, and in a spiritual application of the words: Who are they that send unto us? What are the words of truth that we must answer unto them? They that send unto us are God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. God the Father sendeth His blessings, God the Son His merits, and God the Holy Ghost His graces. The words of truth that we must answer are the words of thankful obedience.—Jermin.

    The certainty of the words of truth. The evidence of the divinity of the Bible, instead of ever being shaken by all the efforts of infidelity, has been augmenting from the beginning hitherto. Its external evidence has grown in the fulfilment of its predictions. Its internal evidence, though in one sense ever the same, has, in another, been increasing also; inasmuch as it has stood its ground amidst all the advances of human knowledge, and men have never been able to improve upon it or to get before it:—and it is the one only book of which this can be affirmed. And its experimental evidence,—the manifestation of its truth in its saving influence,—in its power to dislodge and change the evil passions and habits of the worst of men,—has multiplied by thousands and tens of thousands of dead and living witnesses. In our own days, we have but to point, not only to cases of revival in our own land, in which the gospel has proved itself "mighty through God" to the pulling down of the strongholds of worldliness and corruption, and turning hearts long alienated to God,—but to the lands of heathen idolatry and cruelty and vileness, wherever Gospel truth has found its way and has been embraced. There, in the marvellous changes that have been effected,—in the contrast between previous stupidity and pollution, and heartless and murderous ferocity, to intelligence, and purity and virtue, and peace, and harmony, and happiness, we have the triumphs of the Cross, and the manifestation of the "certainty"—the divine certainty—"of the words of truth." They have thus shown themselves to be indeed "excellent things" by the excellence of their effects. We call upon all to examine for themselves. The Bible courts examination. It is the unwillingness and refusal to examine, that is most to be deplored. The genuineness of its writings, the authenticity of its histories, the reality of its recorded miracles, the fulfilment of its prophecies, the sublimity and consistent harmony of its doctrines, the purity of its precepts, the origin of its commemorative ordinances, and its tendency to personal and social virtue and happiness,—all court examination. The testimony of the celebrated Earl of Rochester, when converted from infidelity and profligacy to Christianity and virtue, will be found the truth. Laying his hand on the Bible, he would say—"This is true philosophy. This is the wisdom that speaks to the heart. A bad life is the only grand objection to this Book."—Wardlaw.

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    Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Proverbs 22:17". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.

    Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

    He that oppresseth the poor to increase his riches, and he that giveth to the rich, shall surely come to want. Bow down thine ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply thine heart unto my knowledge. For it is a pleasant thing if thou 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 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? 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. Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul. Be not thou one of them that strike hands, or of them that are sureties for debts. If thou hast nothing to pay, why should he take away thy bed from under thee? Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set. Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.

    Whatever sameness may appear in these proverbs, there is a great variety; and the same truth is made to appear more striking, from being set and placed forward to view in different ways. Upon the whole the great object intended from them, is evidently with a view to endear Christ and the graces of his Holy Spirit, and to mark out the sad consequences of a contrary pursuit.

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    Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Proverbs 22:17". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". 1828.

    Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

    Proverbs 22:17-18. Bow down thine ear, &c. — From the beginning of the tenth chapter to this place, the instructions of wisdom are delivered in short sentences, and proverbs properly so called; which have seldom any connection one with another, or such as is not easily discerned: but here another form of speech begins and continues unto chap. 25.; and therefore it may not unfitly be called, The Second Part of the Book of Proverbs. In this part we have various exhortations and precepts, which are all delivered in the imperative mood, and comprehended each in two, three, or more verses connected together. In which alteration, it is probable, Solomon consulted the weakness of his reader, who, if he were weary of the preceding sententious way of instruction, might be relieved, refreshed, and awakened unto new attention by varying the form of writing. — Bishop Patrick. Hear the words of the wise — Of wise and holy men of God. And apply thy heart unto my knowledge — The knowledge of God, and of thy several duties which I am here delivering to thee. Thirst after it, and give thyself up to the diligent study of it. For it is a pleasant thing if thou keep them — Namely, the words of the wise; within thee — Hebrew, in thy belly, that is, in thy heart; if thou receive them in love, and retain them in thy memory, so as to have them ready for use upon all occasions. They shall be fitted in thy lips — Fitly expressed; or, shall be disposed, or ordered, as יכנוsignifies. The sense seems to be, When thou hast got them into thy heart, thou wilt be able and ready to discourse pertinently and profitably of them.

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    The Biblical Illustrator

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    Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Proverbs 22:17". The Biblical Illustrator. 1905-1909. New York.

    The Biblical Illustrator

    Proverbs 22:17-21

    Bow down thine ear, and hear the words of the wise.

    Spiritual verities

    I. The experimental knowledge of them is a transcendent blessing. They are “excellent things” in themselves--things that reveal a spiritual universe, a glorious Redeemer, and an ever-blessed God. But the verses teach that a knowledge of them is a transcendent blessing. They teach--

    1. That such a knowledge affords pleasure. It is a “pleasant thing.” What said Paul? “I count all things but loss for the excellency,” etc.

    2. That such a knowledge enriches speech. “They shall withal be fitted in thy lips.”

    3. That such a knowledge inspires trust in God. “That thy trust may be in the Lord.”

    4. That such a knowledge establishes the faith of the soul. A man to whom these spiritual verities are an experience is not like a feather tossed by every wind of doctrine, but like a tree, so rooted and grounded in faith as to stand firm amidst the fiercest hurricanes that blow. Such a man’s faith stands not in the wisdom of man, but in the power of God.

    5. That such a knowledge qualifies for usefulness. “That thou mightest answer the words of truth to them that send unto thee.”

    II. The experimental knowledge of them is attainable. The method for attainment involves four things.

    1. Communication. These spiritual verities come to the soul in the “words of the wise.” “Have not,” says the writer of these verses, “I written to thee excellent things in counsels and knowledge?” Men do not reach this knowledge as they reach a knowledge of scientific truth--by their own researches and reasonings. It is brought to them in a communication--a communication from holy men who “spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”

    2. Attention. “Bow down thine ear, and hear the words of the wise.”

    3. Application: “Apply thine heart unto my knowledge.”

    4. Retention. “It is a pleasant thing if thou keep them within thee.” (D. Thomas, D.D.)

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    Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Proverbs 22:17". The Biblical Illustrator. 1905-1909. New York.

    Expositor's Bible Commentary

    CHAPTER 24


    "Train up a child according to his way, and even when he is old he will not depart from it."- Proverbs 22:6

    "Withhold not correction from the child; if thou beat him with the rod he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod and shalt deliver his soul from Sheol."- Proverbs 23:13-14

    IN Lecture IV we examined two of the main principles which should be inculcated on children in a Christian home. In the present lecture we approach the question of education again. It is necessary for us to examine two features of parental training on which the book of Proverbs lays repeated stress. First, the need of method in bringing up the young; and second, the way of punishing their delinquencies.

    In the first we have an eternal principle, which applies and must apply as long as human nature endures, a principle which is even emphasized by the demands of our Christian faith. In the second we have a principle which is so modified and altered by the Christian spirit, that unless we make the largest allowance for the change, it may be, as it often has been, misleading and hurtful in a high degree. If we could trace out all the dark cruelties and injustice, the vindictiveness, the stupidity of parents, guardians, and teachers, who have sheltered themselves under the authority of the text, "Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction shall, drive it far from him," [Proverbs 22:15] we might read with a new application our Savior’s stern censure of accepting the letter of Scripture in place of coming to Him and learning of Him who is meek and lowly of heart. [John 5:39]

    But our first duty is to understand the wholesome and eternally valid teaching that is here given us about education. "Train up a child in the way he should go." We gain a good deal in vividness if we go back to the meaning of the word which is rendered "train." Derived from a noun which signifies the palate and the inner part of the mouth, its literal meaning is "to put into the mouth." The metaphor suggested is that of feeding an infant. Every parent recognizes the necessity of giving to the helpless children suitable nourishment. At first the mother feeds the babe at the breast. After the weaning she still feeds it with food carefully chosen and prepared. As the child grows older she changes the food, but she does not relax her care; and the father admits the responsibility of procuring the necessary diet for his little one, a responsibility which does not cease until the child is fully grown, fully formed, and fully able to provide for himself. Here is the suitable analogy for mental, moral, and spiritual teaching. The parents must feed their child with morsels suitable to his age, with the "milk of the word" at first, afterwards with strong meat. It all requires infinite care and forethought and wisdom, for there is a certain way of development, a certain ideal which the child must realize, and if the training be on the lines of that development, according to that "way," if it is to achieve that ideal, the teaching must all be accurately adapted to the age or stage of development, and to the particular character and disposition of the child. If the preliminary work of the parents is wisely done, if the influence exercised by them while their child is still entirely in their hands is exactly what it ought to be, there is no fear for the rest of life-"when he is old he will not depart from it." A great master of modern literature, who wandered through many ways of thought far from the opinions and faith of his parents, when in his old age he sat down to write the reminiscences of his life, discovered that the original bent given to his mind by his peasant parents had remained unexhausted to the end. Many beliefs currently held had faded and grown dim, much of the historical foundation of his religion had crumbled away, but there was a truth which he had learned from his mother’s lips and had seen exemplified in his father’s life, and it returned to him in its full force, and remained unsubmerged in the tides of doubt, unaffected by the breath of change, it even acquired a fresh hold upon him in the decline of his days: -The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.

    It is a good illustration of the unrivalled power of the parents over a man’s life. "The Lord hath given the father honor over the children, and hath confirmed the authority of the mother over the sons," says Ecclesiasticus (Sirach 30:2). It is a rare opportunity which is given to parents. No sphere of influence which they may acquire can be like it; it may be wider, but it can never be so intense or so decisive. A father who abdicates the throne on which God has set him, who foregoes the honor which God has given him, or turns it into dishonor, must one day answer for his base renunciation before the Eternal Father. A mother who uses the authority over her sons which God has given her, merely to gratify her own vanity and selfishness, and to retain a love which she has ceased to deserve; or one who wantonly throws away the authority because its exercise makes large demands upon the spirit, has much to answer for at the Divine judgment-seat. Parental powers are so absolute, parental possibilities are so great, parental joys are so rare and wonderful, that they must of necessity be balanced by corresponding disadvantages in case of failure. "He that begetteth a fool doeth it to his sorrow, and the father of a fool hath no joy." [Proverbs 17:21] "A foolish son is a grief to his father, and bitterness to her that bare him." [Proverbs 17:25; Proverbs 19:13; Proverbs 19:26] It must therefore constantly press upon all wise parents, how are they to act, what methods are they to adopt, in order to rightly discharge their duties, and to win that precious reward of "a wise son?" [Proverbs 15:20 Cf. Proverbs 10:1,, Proverbs 27:22,, Proverbs 9:3] "My son, if thy heart be wise, my heart shall be glad, even mine, yea, my reins shall rejoice when thy lips speak right things." "The father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice, and he that begetteth a wise child shall have joy of him." [Proverbs 23:15-16; Proverbs 23:24]

    The answer which is constantly suggested by the book of Proverbs, and especially by our text, is this:-A successful parent will be one who makes the training of the children a constant and religious study. It is the last subject in the world to be left to haphazard. From the first a clear aim must be kept in view. "Is my great object that this boy shall be a true, a noble, a God-fearing man, serving his day and generation in the way God shall appoint? Is this object purged of all meaner thought? Can I renounce the idea of worldly success for him, and be indifferent to wealth and reputation, to comfort and ease for him?" When this question is satisfactorily settled, then comes a second, How is the aim to be realized? Is not the parent at once driven to God with the cry, "Who is sufficient for these things?" A mistake may be so fatal, and it is so hard to clearly see, to rightly judge, to firmly act, that nothing can avail but the direct teaching, inspiration, and power of the Spirit of God. Happy are the father and the mother who have been forced in their helplessness to seek that Divine help from the very first!

    If we only knew it, all education is useless apart from the Spirit of God. "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." And liberty is just what is most needed. Mechanical schemes, cut-and-dried precepts, are quite insufficient. Moving in the liberty of the Spirit you have insight and adaptiveness; at once you perceive that each child is a separate study, and must be approached in a different way. One is sanguine and over-confident, and he must constantly be humbled; another is diffident and desponding, and must be encouraged with the bright word of sympathy, spoken at the right moment. "I see it all, my child; I know what a fight it is in which you are engaged." One is a born skeptic, and would know the reason why; he must be met with patient and comprehending arguments according to his mental powers. Another has no speculative instincts, and questions have to be raised, doubts suggested, in order to save him from drifting into the easygoing acceptance of everything which he is told. One seems naturally inclined to be religious, and must be carefully watched lest the sensitiveness should become morbid, and a dominant thought should lead to mania, melancholy, or a possible reaction. Another seems to have no religious instinct, and the opportunity must be sought for awaking the sense of need, rousing the conscience, opening the eyes to God.

    But again, in proportion as parents are led by the Spirit, and make their sacred charge a matter of constant and beseeching prayer, they will in their own person and conduct represent God to the children, and so supplement all the possible defects of the express training and discipline. If the command "Be thou in the fear of the Lord all the day long" [Proverbs 23:17] is to have any weight with the child, he must live with those who themselves are in the fear of the Lord all the day long. A man must live near to God if he is to make God real to his children. A mother must hold very real converse with her Lord if His reality is to become obvious to her little ones. "As a child," says one, "I always had a feeling that God and Jesus were such particular friends of mamma’s, and were honored more than words could tell." If such an impression is to be created, depend upon it God and Jesus must be particular friends of yours. No talk, however pious, can create that impression unless the hallowed friendship actually exists.

    Again, led by the Spirit, we are filled with Divine love; and no training of children can have any valuable or permanent effect which does not issue from, which is not guided by, and does not result in, love. For love is the Divine educator. It is this which accounts for the frequently observed anomaly that children who seem to have inferior home advantages and very inadequate education turn out better than others for whom no labor or expense or care seems to be grudged. If love is not there, all the efforts will fail. Love is the only atmosphere in which the spirits of little children can grow. Without it the wisest precepts only choke, and the best-prepared knowledge proves innutritious. It must be a large love, a wise love, an inclusive love, such as God alone can shed abroad in the heart. Love of that kind is very frequently found in "huts where poor men lie," and consequently the children issuing out of them have been better trained than those whose parents have handed them over to loveless tutors or underlings.

    And this may perhaps fitly lead us to consider the other point which is before us-the prominence which is, in the Proverbs, given to chastisement. "He that spareth his rod hateth his son, but he that loveth him, chasteneth him betimes." [Proverbs 13:24] "Chasten thy son, seeing there is hope, and set not thy heart on his destruction." [Proverbs 19:18] "Stripes that wound are a cleansing of evil, strokes of the recesses of the belly." [Proverbs 20:30] "Withhold not correction from the child; when thou beatest him with a rod he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from Sheol." [Proverbs 23:13-14] "The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself causeth shame to his mother." [Proverbs 29:15] "Correct thy son and he shall give thee rest, yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul." [Proverbs 29:17]

    Corporal punishment seems to the Christian, and to the common sense of a society which is the product of the Christian spirit, degrading, brutalizing, and essentially futile! It can only have even a modicum of good effect where it is inflicted by a loving hand, and in a loving spirit, without a trace of temper or cruelty, and obviously costing more to inflict than to bear. But even with all these conditions granted it is a most unsatisfactory method of punishment; it arouses vindictive feelings and savage passions. A whipped boy is almost sure to bully the next creature weaker than himself that he encounters; and acting only as a deterrent, it never reaches the conscience, or creates a sense of revolt from the sin for the sin’s sake, which is the object of all wise, or at least of all paternal, punishment. We can only, therefore, set aside the precept to use the rod as one which was in harmony with darker and harder times before the Savior of the world had come to reveal the inner life and to teach us how we are to deal with those mysterious and wonderful beings, our fellow-creatures.

    But with this modification, and substituting "wise and merciful punishments" for "rod and stripes," these teachings remain of permanent validity. Our Heavenly Father chastens His children; by most gracious punishments He brings home to them the sense of sin, and leads them to repentance and amendment. And earthly parents, in proportion as they are led by the Spirit and filled with love, will correct their children, not for their own pleasure, but for their children’s good. The truth which underlies these apparently harsh injunctions is this: Love inflicts punishments, nor are any punishments so severe as those which Love inflicts; and only the punishments which Love inflicts are able to reform and to save the character of the delinquent.

    We all of us know that weak and sentimental nature-too common among modern parents-which shrinks from inflicting pain under all. circumstances. Seizing on the ill-understood doctrine that Love is the sovereign power in life and in education, it pleads in the name of Love that the offender may be spared, that he may escape the due penalty of his fault. That is not a love like God’s love: and if you are careful to observe, it has not the remedial or saving effect which the love of God has. "He that declines to punish his child hates him; he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes." In the poor child’s heart so much foolishness is bound up, so much willfulness and temper, so much vanity and pride, so much sensuality and selfishness, so much unwholesome craving for amusement, it is so natural to the child to make pleasure the be-all and the end-all of life, that, if all this foolishness is to be driven away, there must be much sharp discipline and painful correction. The Divine method of punishment seems to be to let men eat of the fruit of their doings until they loathe it. They rebelliously call out for meat in the wilderness, and it turns into a satiety, a bitterness, and a plague, while it is between their teeth. Is it possible that parents too, under the guidance of the Spirit, may chasten their children in the same way, bringing home to the willful the painful effects of willfulness, to the vain the ridiculous effects of vanity, to the selfish the disastrous issue of selfishness, to the sensual the ruin and the misery of sensuality? Might not the most effectual punishment for every fault be an enforced quiet in which the culprit is confronted with the inevitable outcome of the sin? Does not even the hardest heart begin to melt, does not the dullest conscience begin to grow sensitive, when the sure results of evil are aptly portrayed before the mind? What pride would have courage to grow if it had a glimpse of the hard, dry, loveless, unloved, heart which is its inevitable fruit? What young man would venture to take the first downward steps in impurity if he had ever formed a conception of the devastation of brain and heart and life which must ensue?

    The rod cannot open the eyes; it can but set the cunning intellect to work to find a way of enjoying the sin and escaping the rod. But the opening of the eyes-at which all true punishment must aim-reveals a rod which is bound up with the sin, sure as the sin itself. It is the parents’ solemn task - and many an inward sorrow must it cost-to bring, home to his child’s heart these truths of experience which the child cannot at present know. Wise penalties and "reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself causeth shame to his mother." [Proverbs 29:15]

    There is a voice, the voice of Divine Wisdom, which speaks continually to every, parent, to every teacher of youth: "Incline thine ear," it says, "and hear the words of the wise, and apply thy heart unto my knowledge"-without attention and application this heavenly wisdom cannot be known. "For it is a pleasant thing," so the voice continues, "if thou keep these words within thee if they be established together upon thy lips. That thy trust may be in the Lord,"-without whom the best-meant efforts will fail, -" I have made them known to thee this day, even to thee. Have not I written to thee excellent things of counsels and knowledge, to make thee know the certainty of the words of truth, that thou mayest carry back words of truth to them," those helpless and ignorant children whose needs "send thee" to me for instruction? [Proverbs 23:17-21]

    The failures are numerous, disastrous, heartbreaking, but they are unnecessary. Your children are holy; they belong to the Saviour in whom you yourselves believe. Grasp that truth; go to Him in sublime faith. "Lord, it is not with Thee to save a part, to choose this one and save that. Thou wilt glorify Thyself in every one." (The Education of a Christian Home) Surrender yourself to Him that He may use you to exhibit His Divine graces and saving love to the children. Live with Him daily, that the glory of the communion may not pass away from your face, or appear only by fits and starts-and so train up your child according to his way; and when he is old he will not depart from it.

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    Bibliographical Information
    Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Proverbs 22:17". "Expositor's Bible Commentary".

    The Pulpit Commentaries


    Proverbs 22:1

    A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches. It will be observed that "good" in the Authorized Version is in italics, showing that the epithet is not expressed in the Hebrew, which is simply שֵׁם (shem), "name." But this word carried with it the notion of good repute, as in Ecclesiastes 7:1; for being well known implied honour and reputation, while being nameless (Job 30:8) signified not only obscurity, but ignominy and discredit. Hence the versions have ὄνομα καλόν, nomen bonum, and Ecclesiasticus 41:12, "Have regard to thy name ( περὶ ὀνόματος), for that shall continue with thee above a thousand great treasures of gold. A good life," the moralist continues, "hath but few days; but a good name endureth forever" (contrast Proverbs 10:7). And loving favour rather than silver and gold; or, more accurately, and before gold and silver grace is good; i.e. grace is far better than gold. Grace (chen) is the manner and demeanour which win love, as well as the favour and affection gained thereby; taken as parallel to "name," in the former hemistich, it means here "favour," the regard conceived by others for a worthy object. Publ. Syr; "Bona opinio hominum tutier pecunia est." The French have a proverb, "Bonne renommee vaut mieux que ceinture doree." The latter hemistich gives the reason for the assertion in the former—a good name is so valuable because it wins affection and friendship, which are far preferable to material riches,

    Proverbs 22:2

    The rich and poor meet together (Proverbs 29:13): the Lord is the Maker of them all (Job 34:19). God has ordained that there shall be rich and poor in the world, and that they should meet in the intercourse of life. These social inequalities are ordered for wise purposes; the one helps the other. The labour of the poor makes the wealth of the rich; the wealth of the rich enables him to employ and aid the poor. Their common humanity, their fatherhood in God, should make them regard one another as brethren, without distinction of rank or position: the rich should not despise the poor (Proverbs 14:31; Proverbs 17:5; Job 31:15), the poor should not envy the rich (Proverbs 3:31), but all should live in love and harmony as one great family of God.

    Proverbs 22:3

    A prudent man foresesth the evil, and hideth himself. The whole verse is repeated in Proverbs 27:12. St. Jerome has callidus, and the LXX. has πανοῦργος, as the translation of עָרוּם (arum); but it must be taken in a good sense, as cautions, farseeing, prudent (see note on Proverbs 1:4) Such a man looks around, takes warning from little circumstances which might escape the observation of careless persons, and provides for his safety in good time. Thus the Christians at the siege of Jerusalem, believing Christ's warnings, retired to Pella, and wine saved. A Spanish proverb runs, "That which the fool does in the end, the wise man does at the beginning." The simple pass on, and are punished. The subject of the former hemistich is in the singular number, for a really prudent man is a comparatively rare bring; the second clause is plural, teaching us, as Hitzig observes, that many simple ones are found for one prudent. These silly persons, blundering blindly on their way, without circumspection or forethought, meet with immediate punishment, incur dangers, suffer less. A Cornish proverb runs, "He who will not be ruled by the rudder must be ruled by the rock." Septuagint, "An intelligent man ( πανοῦργος) seeing a wicked man punished is himself forcibly instructed; but fools pass by, and are punished" (comp. Proverbs 21:11).

    Proverbs 22:4

    By humility and the fear of the Lord, etc. This does not seem to be the best rendering of the original. The word rendered "by" ( עֵקֶב ekeb), "in reward of," is also taken as the subject of the sentence: "The reward of humility ['and,' or, 'which is'] the fear of God, is riches," etc. There is no copulative in the clause, and a similar asyndeton occurs in Proverbs 22:5; so there is no reason why we should not regard the clause in this way. Thus Revised Version, Nowack, and others. But Delitzsch makes the first hemistich a concluded sentence, which the second member carries on thus: "The reward of humility is the fear of the Lord; it [the reward of humility] is at the same time riches," etc. Vulgate, Finis modestiae timor Domini, divitiae et gloria et vita; Septuagint, "The generation ( γενεὰ) of wisdom is the fear of the Lord, and wealth," etc. It is preferable to translate as above, taking the two expressed virtues as appositional, thus: "The reward of humility, the fear of the Lord." Humility brings with it true religion, which is expressed by "the fear of the Lord." The feeling of dependence, the lowly opinion of self, the surrender of the will, the conviction of sin, all effects which are connected with humility, may well be represented by this term, "the fear of God," which, in another aspect, is itself the source of every virtue and every blessing; it is riches, and honour, and life. These are God's gifts, the guerdon of faithful service (see notes on Proverbs 3:16 and Proverbs 21:21; and comp. Proverbs 8:18). The Easterns have a pretty maxim, "The bending of the humble is the graceful droop of the branches laden with fruit." And again, "Fruitful trees bend down; the wise stoop; a dry stick and a fool can be broken, not bent" (Lane).

    Proverbs 22:5

    Thorns and snares are in the way of the froward. The words are in the Hebrew without the conjunction (see note, Proverbs 22:4), though the versions generally add it. Thus the Septuagint, τρίβολοι καὶ παγίδες; Vulgate, arma et gladiii but the Venetian, ἄκανθαι παγίδες. It is a question whether the thorns are what the perverse prepare for others, or what they themselves suffer. In Proverbs 15:19 the hedge of thorns represented the difficulties in the sluggard's path; but here, viewed in connection with the following hemistich, the thorns and snares refer to the hindrances proceeding from the froward, which injuriously affect others; "thorns" being a figure of the pains and troubles, "snares" of the unexpected dangers and impediments which evil men cause as they go on their crooked way. The word for "thorns" is צנִּים, which occurs in Job 5:5. The plant is supposed to be the Rhamnus paliurus, but it has not been accurately identified. He that doth keep his soul shall be far from them (comp. Proverbs 13:3; Proverbs 16:17). The man who has regard to his life and morals will go far, will keep wholly aloof, from those perils and traps into which the perverse try to entice them.

    Proverbs 22:6

    Train up a child in the way he should go. The verb translated "train" (chanak) means, first, "to put something into the mouth," "to give to be tasted," as nurses give to infants food which they have masticated in order to prepare it for their nurslings; thence it comes to signify "to give elementary instruction," "to imbue," "to train." The Hebrew literally is, Initiate a child in accordance with his way. The Authorized Version, with which Ewald agrees, takes the maxim to mean that the child should be trained from the first in the right path—the path of obedience and religion. This is a very true and valuable rule, but it is not what the author intends. "His way" must mean one of two things—either his future calling and station, or his character and natural inclination and capacity. Delitzsch and Plumptre take the latter interpretation; Nowack and Bertheau the former, on the ground that derek is not used in the other sense suggested. But, as far as use is concerned, both explanations stand on much the same ground; and it seems more in conformity with the moralist's age and nation to see in the maxim an injunction to consider the child's nature, faculties, and temperament, in the education which is given to him. If, from his early years, a child is thus trained, when he is old, he will not depart from it. This way, this education in accordance with his idiosyncrasy, will bear fruit all his life long; it will become a second nature, and will never be obliterated. The Vulgate commences the verse with Proverbium est, taking the first word substantively, as if the author here cited a trite saying; but the rendering is a mistake. There are similar maxims, common at all times and in all countries. Virg; 'Georg.,' 2.272—

    "Adeo in teneris consuescere multum est."

    Horace, 'Epist.,' 1.2, 67—

    "Nunc adbibe puro

    Pectore verba, puer."

    For, as he proceeds—

    "Quo semel est imbuta recens, servabit odorem

    Testa diu."

    Thus we have two mediaeval jingles—

    "Cui puer assuescit, major dimittere nescit."

    "Quod nova testa capit, inveterata sapit."

    Then there is the German saw, "Jung gewohnt, alt gethan." "What youth learns, age does not forget," says the Danish proverb. In another and a sad sense the French exclaim, "St jeunesse savait! si vieillesse pouvait!" All the early manuscripts of the Septuagint omit this verse; m some of the later it has been supplied from Theodotion.

    Proverbs 22:7

    The rich ruleth over the poor. "The rich man (singular) will rule over the poor" (plural); for there are many poor for one rich (see on Proverbs 22:3). This is the way of the world (Proverbs 18:23). Aben Ezra explains the gnome as showing the advantage of wealth and the inconvenience of poverty; the former bringing power and pre-eminence, the latter trouble and servitude; and hence the moralist implies that every one should strive and labour to obtain a competency, and thus avoid the evils of impecuniosity. The borrower is servant to the lender. (For the relation between borrower and louder, or debtor and creditor, see on Proverbs 20:16; and comp. Matthew 18:25, Matthew 18:34.) Delitzsch cites the German saying, "Borghart (borrower) is Lehnhart's (leader's) servant." We have the proverb, "He that goes a-borrowing goes a-sorrowing." The Septuagint departs from the other versions and our Hebrew text, translating, "The rich will role over the poor, and household servants will lend to their own masters"—a reading on which some of the Fathers have commented.

    Proverbs 22:8

    He that soweth iniquity shall reap vanity; shall gain nothing substantial, shall have nothing to show for his pains. But aven also means "calamity," "trouble," as Proverbs 12:21; so the gnome expresses the truth that they who do evil shall meet with punishment in their very sins—the exact contrast to the promise to the righteous (Proverbs 11:18). "To him that soweth righteousness shall be a sure reward." Thus we have in Job 4:8, "They that plough iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same;" and the apostle asserts (Galatians 6:7, etc), "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting." Eastern proverbs run, "As the sin, so the atonement:" "Those who sow thorns can only reap prickles" (comp. Proverbs 12:14). And the rod of his anger shall fail. The writer is thinking especially of cruelty and injustice practised on a neighbour, as Delitzsch has pointed out, and he means that the rod which he has raised, the violence intended against the innocent victim, shall vanish away or fall harmlessly. Ewald and others think that the rod is the Divine anger, and translate the verb (kalah) "is prepared," a sense which here it will not well bear, though the LXX. has lent some countenance to it by rendering, "And shall fully accomplish the plague ( πληγὴν,? 'punishment') of his deeds." The rendering, "shall fail." "shall be consumed, or annihilated," is confirmed by Genesis 21:15; Isaiah 1:28; Isaiah 16:4, etc. The Septuagint adds a distich here, of which the first member is a variant of Isaiah 16:9. and the second another rendering of the latter hemistich of the present verse: "A cheerful man and a giver God blesseth ( ἄνδρα ἱλαρὸν καὶ δότην εὐλογεῖ ὁ θεός): but he shall bring to an end ( συντελεσεῖ) the vanity of his works." The first hemistich is remarkable for being quoted by St. Paul (2 Corinthians 9:7), with a slight variation, ἱλαρὸν γὰρ δότην ἀγαπᾷ ὁ θεός. So Ecclesiasticus 32:9 (35), "In all thy gifts show a cheerful countenance ( ἱλάρωσον τὸ πρόσθπόν σου)."

    Proverbs 22:9

    He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed. The "good of eye" is the kindly looking, the benevolent man, in contrast to him of the evil eye, the envious, the unfriendly and niggardly man (Proverbs 23:6; Proverbs 28:22). St. Jerome renders, Qui pronus est ad misericordiam. Such a one is blessed by God in this world and the next, in time and in eternity, according to the sentiment of Proverbs 11:25. Thus in the temporal sense:23). "Him that is liberal in food lips shall bless, and the testimony of his liberality will be believed." Septuagint, "He that hath pity upon the poor shall himself be continually sustained ( διατραφήσεται)." The reason is added, For he giveth of his brans to the poor. The blessing is the consequence of his charity and liberality. 2 Corinthians 9:6, "He that soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully ( ἐπ αὐλογίαις)." The Vulgate and Septuagint add a distich not in the Hebrew, Victoriam et honorem acquiret qui dat munera; animam autem aufert accipientium; νίκην καὶ τιμὴν περι ποιεῖται ὁ δῶρα δοὺς τὴν μέντοι ψυχὴν ἀφαι ρεῖται τῶν κεκτημένωνω, "Victory and honour he obtaineth who giveth gifts; but he takes away the life of the possessors." The first hemistich appears to be a variant of Proverbs 19:6, the second to be derived from Proverbs 1:19. The second portion of the Latin addition may mean that the liberal man wins and carries away with him the souls of the recipients of his bounty. But this, though Ewald would fain have it so, cannot be the signification of the corresponding Greek, which seems to mean that the man who is so liberal in distributing gifts obtains the power to do so by oppressing and wronging others.

    Proverbs 22:10

    Cast out the scorner, and contention shall go out; Septuagint, ἔκβαλε ἐκ συνεδρίου λοιμόν, "Cast out of the company a pestilent fellow" Chase away the scorner (Proverbs 1:22), the man who has no respect for things human or Divine, and the disputes and ill feeling which he caused will be ended; for "where no wood is, the fire goeth out" (Proverbs 26:20). Yea, strife and reproach shall cease. The reproach and ignominy ( קָלוֹן, kalon) are those which the presence and words of the scorner bring with them; to have such a one in the company is a disgrace to all good men. Thus Ishmael and his mother were driven from Abraham's dwelling (Genesis 21:9, etc.), and the apostle quotes (Galatians 4:30), "Cast out ( ἔκβαλε) the bondwoman and her son." Septuagint, "For when he sits in the company he dishonours all." The next verse gives a happy contrast.

    Proverbs 22:11

    He that loveth pureness of heart; he who strives to be pure m heart (Matthew 5:8), free from guile, lust, cupidity, vice of every kind. The next clause carries on the description of the perfect character, and is best translated. And hath grace of lips, the king is his friend. He who is not only virtuous and upright, but has the gift of graciousness of speech, winning manner in conversation, such a man wilt attach the king to him by the closest bonds of friendship. We have had something very similar at Proverbs 16:13. Some of the versions consider that by the king God is meant. Thus the Septuagint, "The Lord loveth holy hearts, and all blameless persons are acceptable with him." The rest of the clause is connected by the LXX. with the following verse, "A king guides his flock ( ποιμαίνει) with his lips; but the eyes of the Lord," etc.

    Proverbs 22:12

    The eyes of the Lord preserve knowledge. The expression, "preserve knowledge," is found at Proverbs 5:2 (where see note) in the sense of "keep," "retain," and, taken by itself, it might here signify that the Lord alone possesses knowledge, and alone imparts it to his servants (1 Samuel 2:3); but as in the following clause a person, the transgressor, is spoken of, it is natural to expect a similar expression in the former. The Revised Version is correct in rendering the abstract "knowledge" by the concrete "him that hath knowledge;" so that the clause says that God watches over and protects the man who knows him and walks in his ways, and uses his means and abilities for the good of others (see Proverbs 11:9). But he (the Lord) overthroweth the words of the transgressor. The transgressor here is the false, treacherous, perfidious man; and the gnome asserts that God frustrates by turning in another direction the outspoken intentions of this man, which he had planned against the righteous (comp. Proverbs 13:6; Proverbs 21:12). Septuagint, "But the eves of the Lord preserve knowledge, but the transgressor despiseth words," i e. commands, or words of wisdom and warning.

    Proverbs 22:13

    The slothful man saith, There is a lion without (Proverbs 26:13). The absurd nature of the sluggard's excuse is hardly understood by the casual reader. The supposed lion is without, in the open country, and yet he professes to be in danger in the midst of the town. I shall be slain in the streets. Others consider that the sluggard makes two excuses for his inactivity. If work calls him abroad, he may meet the lion which report says is prowling in the neighbourhood; if he has to go into the streets, he may be attacked and murdered by ruffians for motives of plunder or revenge. "Sluggards are prophets," says the Hebrew proverb. Septuagint, "The sluggard maketh excuses, and saith, A lion is in the ways, there are murderers in the streets." Lions, though now extinct in Palestine, seem to have lingered till the time of the Crusades, and such of them as became man eaters, the old or feeble, were a real danger in the vicinity of villages (comp. Jeremiah 49:19; Jeremiah 50:44).

    Proverbs 22:14

    The mouth of strange women is a deep pit. The hemistich reappears in a slightly altered form at Proverbs 23:27. (For "strange woman" as equivalent to "a harlot" or "adulteress," see note on Proverbs 2:16.) By her "mouth" is meant her wanton, seductive words, which entice a man to destruction of body and soul. It may be that theology rather than morals is signified here—rather false doctrines than evil practice. In this ease the mention of the strange or foreign woman is very appropriate, seeing that perversions of belief and worship were always introduced into Israel from external sources. He that is abhorred of the Lord shall fall therein. He who has incurred the width of God by previous unfaithfulness and sin is left to himself to fall a prey to the allurements of the wicked woman (comp. Ecclesiastes 7:26). Septuagint, "The mouth of a transgressor ( παρανόμου) is a deep ditch; and he that is hated of the Lord shall fall therein." Then are added three lines not in the Hebrew, which, however, seem to be reminiscences of other passages: "There are evil ways before a man, and be loveth not to turn away from them; but it is needful to turn away item a perverse and evil way."

    Proverbs 22:15

    Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child. Foolishness (ivveleth) here implies the love of mischief, the waywardness and self-will, belonging to children, bound up in their very nature. Septuagint, "Folly is attached ( ἐξῆπται) to the heart of the young," in which version Cornelius a Lapide sees an allusion to the ornament hung by fond parents round the neck of a child whom they were inclined to spoil rather than to train in self-denying ways. To such a child folly adheres as closely as the bulla with which he is decorated. But the rod of correction shall drive it far from him. Judicious education overcomes this natural tendency, by punishing it when exhibited, and imparting wisdom and piety (see on Proverbs 13:24 and Proverbs 19:18; and comp. Proverbs 23:13; Proverbs 29:15; Ecclesiasticus 30:1, etc). The LXX. pursue their notion of the the indulgent parents letting the child have his own way, for they render the last clause, "But the rod and discipline are far from him."

    Proverbs 22:16

    He that oppresseth the poor to increase his riches (so the Vulgate), and he that giveth to the rich, shall surely come to want. There are various renderings and explanations of this verse. The Authorized Version says that he who oppresseth the poor to enrich himself, and he who wastes his means by giving to those who do not need it, will come to poverty. But the antithesis of this distich is thus lost. The Hebrew literally rendered brings out the contrast, Whosoever oppresseth the poor, it is for his gain; whosoever giveth to the rich, it is for his loss. Delitzsch explains the sentence thus: "He who enriches himself by extortion from the poor, at any rate gains what he desires; but he who gives to the rich impoverishes himself in vain, has no thanks, reaps only disappointment." One cannot but feel that the maxim thus interpreted is poor and unsatisfactory. The interpretation in the 'Speaker's Commentary' is more plausible: The oppressor of the poor will himself suffer in a similar mode, and will have to surrender his ill-gotten gains to some equally unscrupulous rich man. But the terse antithesis of the original is wholly obscured by this view of the distich. It is far better, with Hitzig, Ewald, and others, to take the gain in the first hemistich as that of the poor man, equivalent to "doth but bring him gain;" though the sentence is not necessarily to be explained as suggesting that the injustice which the poor man suffers at the hand of his wealthy neighbour is a stimulus to him to exert himself in order to better his position, and thus indirectly tends to his enrichment. The maxim is really conceived in the religious style of so many of these apparently worldly pronouncements, and states a truth in the moral government of God intimated elsewhere, e.g. Proverbs 13:22; Proverbs 28:8; and that truth is that the riches extorted from the poor man will in the end redound to his benefit, that by God's providential control the oppression and injustice from which he has suffered shall work to his good. In the second hemistich the loss is that of the rich man. By adding to the wealth of the rich the donor increases his indolence, encourages his luxury, vice, and extravagance, and thus leads to his ruin—"bringeth only to want. Septuagint, "He that calumniates ( συκοφαντῶν) the poor increaseth his own substance, but giveth to the rich at a loss ( ἐπ ἐλάσσονι)" i.e. so as to lessen his substance.

    Verse 17-24:22

    Part IV. FIRST APPENDIX TO THE FIRST GREAT COLLECTION, containing "words of the wise."

    Proverbs 22:17-21

    The introduction to this first appendix, containing an exhortation to attend to the words of the wise, an outline of the instruction herein imparted, with a reference to teaching already given.

    Proverbs 22:17

    Incline thine ear (comp. Proverbs 4:20; Proverbs 5:1). The words of the wise; verba sapientium, Vulgate. "Wise" is in the plural number, showing that this is not a portion of the collection called, 'The Proverbs of Solomon' (Proverbs 10:1), but a distinct work. (For the term, see note on Proverbs 1:6.) My knowledge. The knowledge which I impart by bringing to notice these sayings of wise men. Septuagint, "Incline ( παράβαλλε) thine ear to the words of wise men, and hear my word, and apply thine heart, that thou mayest know that they are good."

    Proverbs 22:18

    This verse gives the reason for the previous exhortation. It is a pleasant thing if thou keep them within thee; in thy mind and memory (comp. Proverbs 18:8; Proverbs 20:27). Thus Psalms 147:1, "It is good to sing praises unto our God; for it is pleasant, and praise is comely." They shall withal be fitted in thy lips. This rendering hardly suits the hortatory nature of the introduction. It is better to take the clause in the optative, as Delitzsch, Ewald, Nowack, and ethers: "Let them abide altogether upon thy lips;" i.e. be not ashamed to profess them openly, let them regulate thy words, teach thee wisdom and discretion. Septuagint, "And if thou admit them to thy heart, they shall likewise gladden thee on thy lips."

    Proverbs 22:19

    That thy trust may be in the Lord. The Greek and Latin versions make this clause depend on the preceding verse. It is better to consider it as dependent on the second hemistich, the fact of instruction being placed after the statement of its object. All the instruction herein afforded is meant to teach that entire confidence in the Lord which, as soon as his will is known and understood, leads a man to do it at any cost or pains, leaving the result in God's hands. I have made them known to thee this day, even to thee. The repetition of the personal pronoun brings home the teaching to the disciple, and shows that it is addressed, not merely to the mass of men, but to each individual among them, who thus becomes responsible for the use which he makes of it (comp. Proverbs 23:15). The expression, "this day," further emphasizes the exhortation. The learner is not to remember vaguely that some time or other he received this instruction, but that on this particular day the warning was given. So in Hebrews 3:7, Hebrews 3:13 we read, "As the Holy Ghost saith, Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts ….Exhort one another daily, so long as it is called Today, lest any of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin." Septuagint, "That thy hope may be in the Lord, and he may make thy way known unto thee." Cheyne ('Job and Solomon') quotes Biekell's correction of this verse, "That thy confidence may be in Jehovah, to make known unto thee thy ways;" but the alteration seems arbitrary and unnecessary.

    Proverbs 22:20

    Have not I written to thee excellent things in counsels and knowledge? There is a difficulty about the word tendered "excellent things." The Khetib has שׁלשׁום, "the day before yesterday, formerly;" but the word occurs nowhere alone, and, as Nowack says, can hardly have been the original reading. However, Ewald, Bertheau, and others, adopting it, suppose that the author refers to some earlier work. Cheyne cites Bickell's rendering, "Now, years before now, have I written unto thee long before with counsels and knowledge," and considers the words to mean either that the compiler took a long time over his work, or that this was not the first occasion of his writing. One does not see why stress should be here laid on former instruction, unless, perhaps, as Plumptre suggests, in contrast to "this day" of the previous verse. The LXX. renders the word τρισσῶς thus, "And do thou record them for thyself triply for counsel and knowledge upon the table of thine heart." St. Jerome has, Ecce descripsi eam tibi tripliciter, in cogitationibus et scientiis. Other versions have also given a numerical explanation to the term. In it is seen an allusion to the three supposed works of Solomon—Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Canticles—which is absurd; others refer it to the threefold division of the Testament—Law, Prophets, and Hagiographa; others, to three classes of youths for whom the admonitious were intended; others, again, think it equivalent to "oftentimes," or "in many forms." But the reading is as doubtful as the explanations of it are unsatisfactory. The genuine word is doubtless preserved in the Keri, which gives שָׁלִשִׁים (shalishim), properly a military term, applied to chariot fighters and men of rank in the army. The LXX. translates the word by τριστὰτης e.g. Exodus 14:7; Exodus 15:4), which is equivalent to "chieftain." Hence the Hebrew term, understood in the neuter gender, is transferred to the chief among proverbs—"choice proverbs," as Delitzsch calls them. The Venetian, by a happy turn, gives τρισμέγιστα. Thus we come back to the rendering of the Authorized Version as meet correct and intelligible.

    Proverbs 22:21

    That I might make thee know the certainty of the words of truth. The object intended is to teach the disciple the fixed rule (firmitatem, Vulgate) by which truthful words are guided (see Luke 1:4). Septuagint, "I therefore teach thee a true word and knowledge good to learn." That thou mightest answer the words of truth to them that send unto thee. This implies that the pupil will be enabled to teach others who apply to him for instruction; "will be ready." as St. Peter says, "always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you" (1 Peter 3:15). But the last expression is better translated, "them that send thee;" illis qui miserunt te, Vulgate (see Proverbs 25:13); and we must conceive of these as being parents or tutors who send a youth to a school or wise man to be educated. The moralist expresses his desire that the disciple will carry home such wholesome, truthful doctrines as will prove that the pains expended upon him have not been useless. Septuagint, "That thou mayest answer words of truth to those who put questions to thee ( τοῖς προβαλλομένοις σοι)" The Syriac adds, "That I may make known unto thee counsel and wisdom." Bickell's version (quoted by Cheyne) is, "That thou mayest know the rightness of these words, that thou mayest answer in true words to them that ask thee."

    Verse 22-24:22

    Here commence the "words of the wise."

    Proverbs 22:22

    This and the following verse form a terrastich, which connects itself in thought with Proverbs 22:16. Rob not the poor, because he is poor. The word for "poor" is here dal, which means "feeble," "powerless" (see on Proverbs 19:4), and the writer enjoins the disciple not to be induced by his weakness to injure and despoil a poor man. Neither oppress the afflicted in the gate. The gate is the place of judgment, the court of justice (comp. Job 31:21). The warning points to the particular form of wrong inflicted on the lowly by unjust judges, who could give sentences from which, however iniquitous, there was practically no appeal.

    Proverbs 22:23

    For, though they are powerless to defend themselves, and have no earthly patrons, the Lord will plead their cause (Proverbs 23:11). Jehovah will be their Advocate and Protector. And spoil the soul of those that spoiled them; rather, despoil of life those that despoil them. So the Revised Version. God, exercising his moral government on human concerns, will bring ruin and death on the unjust judge or the rich oppressor of the poor. Jerome has, Configet eos qui confixerunt animam ejus. The verb used is קבע (kabah), which is found only here and Malachi 3:8, where it means "to defraud" or "despoil." In the Chaldee and Syriac it may signify "to fix," "to pierce." Septuagint, "The Lord will judge his cause, and thou shalt deliver thy soul unharmed ( ἄσυλον):" i.e. if you refrain from injustice and oppression, you will be saved Item evil and dwell securely.

    Proverbs 22:24, Proverbs 22:25

    Another tetrastich. Make no friendship with an angry (irascible) man. Have no close intercourse with a man given to fits of passion. And with a furious man thou shalt not go. Avoid the society of such a one. The reason follows: Lest thou learn his ways; his manner of life and conduct. as Proverbs 1:15 (where see note). Anger breeds anger; impotence, impatience. St. Basil ('De Ira'), quoted by Corn. a Lapide, enjoins, "Take not your adversary as your teacher, and be not a mirror to reflect the angry man, showing his figure in thyself." And get a snare to thy soul; bring destruction on thyself. Anger unsubdued not only mars the kindliness of social life, but leads to all sorts of dangerous complications which may bring ruin and death in their train (comp. Proverbs 15:18).

    Proverbs 22:26, Proverbs 22:27

    A warning against suretyship, often repeated. Be not thou one of them that strike hands; i.e. that become guarantees for others (see on Proverbs 17:18; Proverbs 20:16; and comp. Proverbs 6:1; Proverbs 11:15). Sureties for debts. The writer explains what kind of guarantee he means. Why should he (the creditor) take away thy bed from under thee? Why should you act so weakly as to give a creditor power to seize your very bed as a pledge? The Law endeavoured to mitigate this penalty (Exodus 22:26, Exodus 22:27; Deuteronomy 24:12, Deuteronomy 24:13). But doubtless its merciful provisions were evaded by the moneylenders (see Nehemiah 5:11; Ezekiel 18:12, "hath not restored the pledge").

    Proverbs 22:28

    The first line is repeated at Proverbs 23:10. (On the sanctity of landmarks, see note on Proverbs 15:25.) Some of the stones, exhibiting a bilingual inscription, which marked the boundaries of the Levitical city of Gezer, were discovered by Gauneau in 1874. The Septuagint calls the landmarks ὅρια αἰώνια.

    Proverbs 22:29

    A tristich follows. Seest thou a man diligent in his business! Mere diligence would not commend a man to high notice unless accompanied by dexterity and skill; and though מָהִיר (mahir) means "quick," it also has the notion of "skilful," and is better here taken in that sense. He shall stand before kings. This phrase means to serve or minister to another (Genesis 41:46; 1 Samuel 16:21, 1 Samuel 16:22; 1 Kings 10:8; Job 1:6). A man thus export is fitted for any, even the highest situation, may well be employed in affairs of state, and enjoy the confidence of kings. He shall not stand before mean men. "Mean" ( חְשֻׁכִּים) are the men of no importance, ignobiles, obscure. An intellectual, clever, adroit man would never he satisfied with serving such masters; his ambition is higher; he knows that he is capable of better things. Septuagint, "It must needs be that an observant ( ὁρατικὸν) man, dud one who is keen in his business, should attend on kings, and not attend on slothful men."


    Proverbs 22:1

    A good name and loving favour

    Both of these blessings—which, indeed, are closely allied—are here preferred to great riches. It is better to be poor with either than rich with neither. Let us examine the excellence of each of them.

    I. THE EXCELLENCE OF A GOOD NAME. Why is this rather to be chosen than riches?

    1. Because it is a higher order of good. Wealth is a material thing. The best of it is empty and vain by the side of what is intellectual, moral, or spiritual. It is possible to have great riches and yet to be miserable and degraded, if the higher reaches of life are impoverished.

    2. Because it is personal. A man's good name is nearer to him than all his property. The most personal property is distant and alien compared with the name he carries; the reputation that attaches to him is his closest garment—it is wrapped round his very self. If a person wears sackcloth next his skin, he can have little comfort in being clothed outside this with purple and fine linen.

    3. Because it is social. The good name is known among a man's fellows. It is this that gives him his true status. Now, we cannot afford to neglect social considerations. It is a terrible thing to live under the stigma of the rebuke of mankind. He is either more or less than a man who can look with indifference on the good or the ill opinion of his brethren. Mere fame may be of little value. A good name is far more desirable than a great name. It is not necessary that people should have a high opinion of us. But it is important that our name should be free from disgrace, should be honoured for purity and integrity of character.

    4. Because it is a sign of other excellences. It may be given by mistake to a worthless deceiver, or it may be withdrawn from a worthy person through some cruel misapprehension. We cannot always take a man's reputation as a true measure of his character. But when it is justly earned, the good name is the sacrament of a good character, and therefore an outward and visible sign of what is most excellent, for it is better to be good than to own riches.

    II. THE EXCELLENCE OF LOVING FAVOUR. Why is this better than silver and gold?

    1. Because it is human. Silver and gold are but dead metals. They may be bright, beautiful, and precious; but they can have no sympathy with their possessors. Riches are heartless things, that take themselves wings and fly away without a qualm of compunction. But human interests and affections touch our hearts and rouse our sympathies in return. It is better to be poor among friends than to be rich but loveless and friendless.

    2. Because it brings direct blessings. Riches are at best indirect sources of good. But love is a good itself, and it breathes a benediction on all to whom it is extended. Reputation is good, but affection is better. The best love cannot be enjoyed if the good name has been lost by wrong doing. But there may be no fame, no great name in the world, and yet much love. It is better to be loved by one than admired by a thousand.

    3. Because it is the type of higher blessings. The loving favour of man is an earthly emblem of the grace of God. This is better than silver and gold, first, as a human source of peace and power, and then as a promise of eternal life and wealth in the heavenly inheritance, after death has robbed a man of all his silver and gold.

    Proverbs 22:2

    Social distinctions


    1. These distinctions are very marked. There is an enormous separation between the condition of the rich and that of the poor. The one class is overwhelmed with luxury, the other pinched with penury. There seems to be a tendency to an aggravation of this separation. As wealth grows, poverty does not perceptibly recede. Three millions are on the borders of starvation among the riches of England.

    2. These distinctions are not determined by desert. No doubt honest industry tends to prosperity, while idleness and dissipation lead to poverty. But there are bad rich men and good poor men.

    3. These distinctions are grossly unjust. It is impossible to maintain that there is equity in the present distribution of property throughout the community, though it may be urged that most attempts at remedying the injustice that have been proposed hitherto would be worse than the disease.

    4. These distinctions generate greater evils. They destroy the sense of human brotherhood, fostering a spirit of pride on the part of the rich, and rousing passions of hatred among those who feel themselves to be robbed of their share of the world's wealth. One man is not to be thought of as necessarily superior to his neighbour simply because he is in possession of more property; nor, on the other hand, should the owner of wealth be regarded as a wholesale brigand.

    II. THE MEANS OF RECONCILING SOCIAL DISTINCTIONS. "The rich and poor meet together."

    1. It is desirable that there should be more intercourse between the various classes of society. Very much of the antagonism of the classes arises from ignorance. The simple, honest, poor man, seeking his rights in the rough style natural to his circumstances, is regarded as a red-handed revolutionist by the fastidious upper-class person, who, in turn, is treated by his indigent neighbour as a monster of cruelty and selfishness, a very ogre. The first step towards a better understanding is more freedom of intercourse. It is the same with the quarrel between capital and labour. Mutual conferences might bring about a common understanding.

    2. In the Church of God rich and poor meet on common ground. Here pride of class is utterly inexcusable. Happily, the old distinction between the curtained, carpeted, and cushioned squire's pew, and the bare benches of the villagers, is being swept away. But the spirit that this distinction suggested is not so easily exorcised. Christian brotherhood should bring all together in a common family spirit. It was so in early ages, when the slave might be a privileged communicant, while the master was a humble catechumen on the threshold of the Church.

    3. Death levels all class distinctions. Rich and poor meet together in the grave. After death new distinctions emerge. Dives cannot scorn Lazarus in Hades.

    III. THE MOTIVE FOR OVERCOMING SOCIAL DISTINCTIONS. This is to be discovered in a consideration of the common relation of men to their Maker. Nothing short of religion will heal the fearful wounds of society. Forcible methods will not succeed; e.g. in the French Revolution. A universal redistribution of property would soon be followed by the old distinctions. Socialism would destroy virtues of independence and energy. But faith in God will work inwardly towards a reconciliation.

    1. All classes are equally low before God. The highest earthly mountains vanish in astronomy.

    2. Our common relation to God is the ground of our mutual relations with one another. All men have one Father; therefore all men must be brethren. The recognition of the Fatherhood of God will lead to the admission of family duties and claims among men. Christ, who teaches the Fatherhood of God, inspires the "enthusiasm of humanity."

    Proverbs 22:4

    Two graces, and their reward


    1. The social grace. "Humility." This is becoming in all men, but it is especially seemly where its attainment is most difficult; e.g. among the high in station, the wealthy, the famous, the gifted, the popular. It is as difficult for the demagogue to be humble as for the lord—perhaps more difficult, for the former is more conscious of his own powers, and more recently lifted above his fellows. Humility is difficult to acquire, because it is so essentially different from mere weakness and self-effacement. It is seen best in the strongest and most pronounced natures. There is no virtue in failing back from one's highest aims in order to escape notice. The grace of humility is discovered in an earnest effort to press forward energetically, without a thought of self or a care for the admiration of the world.

    2. The religious grace. "The fear of the Lord" Pride excludes true religion. In the childlike spirit of humble dependence we are open to the influence of Heaven. Thus the one grace is linked to the other, Now, the whole of the Old Testament conception of religion is summed up in "the fear of the Lord"—not because there was no room in it for any emotion but terror, but because the root of the ancient faith was reverence. This is the root of all religion. It maybe so richly mingled with love as we come to discern the Fatherhood of God, that its more dread features are utterly lost. Yet love without reverence would not be a religious emotion, or, at all events, not one suited for God as he is revealed to us in the Bible. The Greeks seemed to dispense with the fear of God in their light, gay religion; but they also dispensed with conscience. A feeling of sin and a perception of the holiness of God must lay a deep foundation of awe beneath the most happy and trustful religious experience.


    1. Riches. This is the lowest aspect of the reward. It is in the spirit of the Proverbs, which calls especial attention to the secular consequences of good and ill. We know that the humble and good are often poor and oppressed. But there is a tendency for quiet self-renunciation to be recognized and rewarded. The meek are to be blessed with the inheritance of the earth (Matthew 5:5). When full justice is done, the best men will receive the best things in this world as well as the life of that to come. At present we wait for the accomplishment of this social rectification.

    2. Honour. The humble who do not seek honour shall have it, while the proud are cast down in shame. The first shall be last, and the last shall be first. Men delight to honour self-forgetful merit. But the highest honour comes from God, who discerns the heart, puts down the proud, and exalts them of low degree.

    3. Life. Whether this is given in the Hebrew manner—in old age or not, Christ has taught us to see his true eternal life as the greatest blessing for his people. The humility in which a man loses his life is the very means of finding the true life; the reverence of religion leads us from the shallow frivolity of earth to the deep life of God.

    Proverbs 22:6

    The training of a child

    I. THE NEED OF THE TRAINING. This arises from various causes.

    1. An undeveloped condition. Each child begins a new life. If all that were desirable could be found wrapped up in his soul, this would need to be developed by education.

    2. Ignorance. The child does not come into the world with a ready made stock of knowledge. He must learn truth and be made to see the right path, which is at first unknown to him.

    3. Weakness. The child needs not only to be taught, but to be trained. He must be helped to do what is at first too much for his strength. His better nature must be drawn out, nourished, and confirmed.

    4. Evil. A child's mind is not a tabula rasa. We need not go back to Adam for evidences of hereditary evil. The child inherits the vices of his ancestors. Thus "foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child." Before he is guilty of conscious sin the tendency to wickedness begins to work within him.

    II. THE AGE OF THE TRAINING. This is to be in childhood, for various reasons.

    1. Its susceptibility.

    "Heaven lies about us in our infancy!

    Shades of the prison house begin to close

    Upon the growing boy.

    But he beholds the light, and whence it flows,

    He sets it in his joy."


    Faith is natural to children. They cannot become theologians, but they may be citizens of the kingdom of heaven. Thoughts of God and Christ, and the call to the better life, can be well received by them.

    2. Its dangers. Children are open to temptation. If not trained in goodness, they will be trained in evil. Some have thought that children should not be biassed in their religious ideas, but left in freedom to choose for themselves. We do not do this in secular matters, trusting them to choose their own methods of spelling and to manufacture their own multiplication table. If we believe our religion to be true and good and profitable, it is only a cruel pedantry that will keep it from children for fear of prejudicing their minds.

    3. Its duties. Early years should be given to Christ. He seeks the opening bud, not the withered leaf.


    1. In action. There is a practical end in education. We are not merely to teach doctrine, but chiefly to train conduct.

    2. According to right. This is not a question of taste. There is a way in which a child ought to go. It is his duty to tread it, and ours to lead him in it.

    3. According to future requirements. While the main principles of education must be the same for all children, the special application of them will vary in different cases. We have to apply them to the specific career expected for each child. The prince should be trained for the throne, the soldier for the field, etc.

    4. According to personal qualities. Each child's nature needs separate consideration and distinctive treatment. The training that would ruin one child might save another. We have not to drill all children into one uniform fashion of behaviour; we have rather to call out the individual gifts and capacities, and guard against the individual faults and weaknesses. Thus the training of a child will be the directing of his own specific nature.

    IV. THE CONSEQUENCES OF THE TRAINING. "When he is old, he will not depart from it." Age stiffens. It is well that it should grow firm in the right. Here is the reward of teaching the young. The work is slow and discouraging, and at first we see few results; perhaps we imagine that all our efforts are wasted upon thoughtless minds. But if the work is hard to begin, there is this compensation in it—when it has fairly laid hold of a child, it is not likely to be ever effaced. The teachings of the Sunday school are remembered after many a long year.

    Proverbs 22:20, Proverbs 22:21


    I. THE TRUTH SEEKER DESIRES CERTAINTY. With him "the certainty of the words of truth" is the great object sought after.

    1. Certainty must be distinguished from positiveness. Doubt is often violent in assertion, as though to silence the opposition that cannot be answered. We may be very positive without being at all certain.

    2. Certainty must be distinguished from certitude. Certitude is the feeling of certainty. Now, we may feel no doubt on a subject, and yet we may be in error. Real certainty is a well grounded assurance.

    3. Certainty is desired because truth is precious. If a person is indifferent to truth, he may be satisfied with doubt, or acquiescent in error. This is the contemptuous condition of the cheerful Sadducee. His scepticism is no pain to him, because he does not feel the loss of truth. Not valuing truth, it is a light matter to him that he misses it. Such a condition of mind is an insult to truth itself. A man who recognizes the royal glory of truth will be in the greatest distress if he thinks it has eluded his grasp. To him the feeling of doubt will be an agony.

    4. Certainty is sought because it is not always present. It may be very difficult to find. We grope in ignorance, error, and confusion of mind. Then the great want is some solid assurance of truth. Without this the world is dark, our voyage may end in shipwreck, and we cannot know God, ourselves, or our destiny.

    II. THE TRUTH SEEKER MAY SECURE CERTAINTY. The Bible denies agnosticism. It offers revelation.

    1. Truth is revealed. The written Word contains the record of revelation. God has spoken to us through his prophets, but chiefly in his Son (Hebrews 1:1, Hebrews 1:2). Everything that lifts the Bible above common books and impresses its message upon our hearts as from God, urges us to believe in the truth of what it teaches, for God is the Source of all truth. If the Bible does not teach truth, the Bible must be an earthly book, uninspired by God.

    2. Truth must be practised and studied. "Excellent things in counsels and knowledge" are written in the Bible. but to find their truth we must do the commandment, follow the counsel, enter thoughtfully into the knowledge.

    3. Truth should be taught. "That thou mightest answer the words of truth to them that send unto thee."

    Proverbs 22:28

    Ancient landmarks

    I. ANCIENT LANDMARKS OF PROPERTY. The stone that divided one man's vineyard from his neighbour's was regarded as a sacred thing, on no account to be touched. This arrangement helped to perpetuate family holdings. It prevented the accumulation of large estates by the wealthy, and the alienation of the land from the poor. It guarded the weak from the oppression of the strong. It was a protection against deceit, error, and confusion. Ahab transgressed the Law in seeking to acquire Naboth's vineyard. It would be well if we could appreciate the spirit of the old Hebrew sanctity of the landmark. It would be well, too, if there were more people who had a personal interest in the soil of the country. The "sacred rights of property" cannot confer on the owner any power to oppress the tiller of the soil; but, on the other hand, they should protect the owner from the violence of social revolution.

    II. ANCIENT LANDMARKS OF HISTORY. The fieldstones of Palestine were historic. Their very presence served as a record of the lives and doings of a past ancestry. As such they gathered a certain sanctity of association. It is no small thing that we in England belong to a historic nation. The forward movement that is so characteristic of our day should not blind us to the lessons of the past. Noble lives and great events are landmarks on the vast field of history. They help us to map out the past, and they also assist us to gain wisdom for the present. We cannot dispense with the landmarks of Scripture history. Christianity, without the facts of the life of Christ, would be boneless and shapeless. It is strong as a historical religion. Directly it is treated merely as an idea, a sentiment, or a "spirit," it will languish by the loss of the old landmarks of concrete facts in the Birch, Life, Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Christ.

    III. ANCIENT LANDMARKS OF DOCTRINE. We live in an age when many of these have been uprooted and flung on one side. No doubt some of them had been converted into obstructions standing up in the middle of the road of truth. We need to ascertain whether we are really dealing with the truly ancient landmarks, and are not deceived by fraudulent inventions of later ages. The primary landmarks of Christianity are in the teachings of Christ and his apostles. We may have to clear away a great deal of the rubbish of the ages in order to get back to these original truths of Christianity. It is not right to accuse those who are loyal to Christ with removing the ancient landmarks, when they are only taking away these later accretions. But we cannot dispense with the truly ancient landmarks. If we forsake the New Testament, we forsake Christianity.

    IV. ANCIENT LANDMARKS OF MORALS. Many practices of antiquity may be abandoned. Some may be superseded by better ways, others left behind as unsuited to the circumstances of the new times. But behind and beneath all these changing fashions there are the solid rocks of truth and righteousness. What, ever else may be shaken, we cannot afford to shift these landmarks. We may improve upon old customs; but we cannot cast away the ten commandments.


    Proverbs 22:1-16

    The theme of the earlier part of the chapter may be said to be the good name: the blessings in the possession of it, and the conditions for the acquirement of it—partly negatively, partly positively, described.

    Proverbs 22:1-5

    The general conditions of a good name


    1. Riches. (Proverbs 22:1.) Riches have their worth; reputation has its worth; but the latter is of an order altogether different from the former. The former gives a physical, the latter a moral, power. It is right that we should have regard to the opinion of good men. "An evil name shall inherit disgrace and reproach," says Sirach 6:1. And we have, as Christians, clearly to think of the effect a good or evil name must have upon "them that are without" (1 Corinthians 5:12; 1 Corinthians 10:31, sqq.; Philippians 4:8).

    2. Again, poverty with a good name is infinitely preferable to riches associated with an evil character (verse 2). It is according to general laws of providence that one is rich, the other poor. The great point is to recognize that we cannot all possess the lower good, but that the higher good is offered to all, made the duty of all to seek. Let the poor man not exaggerate the worth of riches, nor murmur against God, but humble himself under his hand, and trust the promises of his Word (Matthew 5:3). And let the rich man not put his confidence in riches (1 Timothy 6:17), but lay up an inward store against the time to come. It is religion alone which solves the contradiction between riches and poverty by reducing both under the true standard of value.


    1. Prudence. (Verse 3.) To foresee evil at a distance—to have a cultivated spiritual sense, analogous to the keen scent of the lower animals, that may enable us to detect the danger not apprehensible by the duller sense—is necessary to our safety. And what is necessary to safety is necessary ultimately with a view to the good name. To go too near the fire may lead to the scorching of the reputation, if not to the loss of the life. To conceal ourselves beneath the wings of the Almighty and to abide in communion with God (Psalms 91:1) is the best refuge from all danger.

    2. Humility. (Verse 4.) He that would attain to the glory must first "know how to be abased." Clearly to recognize our position and part in life always implies humility. For it is always less and lower than that which imagination dreams. Another important lesson from this verse is that reputation and the good attached to it come through seeking something else and something better. To do our own work is really to do something that has never been attempted before. For each of us is an original, and success in that which is peculiar to us brings more honour than success in a matter of greater difficulty in which we are but imitators of others.

    3. The fear of God. (Verse 4.) Religion gives reality to character. And reputation must at last rest on the presence of a reality; and those who have it not are perpetually being found out.

    4. Rectitude of conduct. (Verse 5.) What pains, anxieties, what dangers, rebuffs, and disappointments, and what loss of all that makes life sweet and good, do not the dishonest in every degree incur! The path of rectitude and truth seems rugged, but roses spring up around it, so soon as we begin fairly to tread it; the way of the transgressors seems inviting, but is indeed "hard."—J.

    Proverbs 22:6-12

    Means to the preservation of the good name

    I. EARLY TRAINING. (Proverbs 22:6.) The young twig must be early bent. Experience teaches us that nothing in the world is so mighty for good or evil as custom; and therefore, says Lord Bacon, "since custom is the principal magistrate of man's life, let man by all means endeavour to obtain good customs. Custom is most perfect when it beginneth in young years; this we call education, which is in effect but an early custom. The tongue is more pliant to all expressions and sounds, the joints more supple to all feats of activity and motions, in youth than afterwards. Those minds are rare which do not show to their latest days the ply and impress they have received as children."

    II. INDEPENDENCE. (Proverbs 22:7.) How strongly was the worth of this felt in those ancient times! Poverty and responsibility to others are to be avoided. Many are forced into distress of conscience and to the loss of a good name by being tempted, for the wake of the rich man's gold or the great man's smile, to vote contrary to their convictions. Others will sell their liberty to gratify their luxury. It is an honest ambition to enjoy a competence that shall enable one to afford to be honest, and have the luxury of the freest expression of opinion. Hence frugality becomes so clear a moral duty.

    III. INTEGRITY. (Proverbs 22:8.) Ill-gotten gains cannot prosper. "The evil which issues from thy mouth falls into thy bosom," says the Spanish proverb. The rod wherewith the violent and unjust man struck others is broken to pieces.

    IV. NEIGHBOURLY LOVE (Proverbs 22:9.) "Charity gives itself rich, covetousness hoards itself poor," says the German proverb. "Give alms, that thy children may not ask them," says a Danish proverb. "Drawn wells are never dry." So give today, that thou mayest have to give tomorrow; and to one, that thou mayest have to give to another. Let us remember, with the Italian proverb, that "our last robe is made without pockets." Above all, if our case is that "silver and gold we have none, let us freely substitute the kindly looks and the healing words, which are worth much and cost little."

    V. A PEACEFUL TEMPER. (Proverbs 22:10.) Let the scoffing, envious, contentious temper be cast out of our breast first. As for others, let us strike, if possible, at the cause and root of strife. Let there be solid argument for the doubter, and practical relief for actual grievances. Let us learn from the old fable, and follow the part of Epimetheus, who, when evils flew abroad from the box of Pandora, shut the lid and kept hope at the bottom of the vessel.

    VI. A FAITHFUL AND CONSTANT HEART. (Proverbs 22:11.) The greatest treasure to an earthly monarch, and dear above all to the King of kings. "He who serves God serves a good Master." Grace and truth are upon the lips of God's Anointed forevermore. And to clench these proverbs, let us recollect that nothing but truth in the inward parts can abide before the eye of Jehovah. "A lie has no legs." It carries along with itself the germs of its own dissolution. It is sure to destroy itself at last. Its priests may prop it up, after it has once fallen in the presence of the truth; but it will fall again, like Dagon, more shamefully and irretrievably than before. Truth is the daughter of God (Trench).—J.

    Proverbs 22:13-16

    Hindrances to the attainment of a good name

    I. SLOTH. (Proverbs 22:13.) It is full of ridiculous excuses here satirized. While a noble energy refuses to own the word "impossible," it is ever on the lips of the indolent. As in the Arabic fable of the ostrich, or "camel bird," they said to it, "Carry!" It answered, "I cannot, for I am a bird." They said, "Fly!" It answered, "I cannot, for I am a camel." Always, "I cannot!" He who in false regard to his own soul refuses to go out into the world and do God's work, will end by corrupting and losing his soul itself (John 12:25).

    II. PROFLIGACY. (Proverbs 22:14.) Lust digs its own grave. Health goes, reputation follows, and presently the life, self-consumed by the deadly fire, sinks into ruin and ashes. If men saw how plainly the curse of God is written on vice, it would surely become as odious to them as to him.

    III. UNGOVERNED FOLLY. (Proverbs 22:15.) Nothing mere pitiable than an old fool, whose folly seems to stand in clear relief against the background of years. Hence, again, the urgent need of firm discipline for the young. And what occasion for thankfulness to him who, in his wise chastisements, will not "let us alone," but prunes and tills the soul by affliction, and plucks up our follies by the root!

    IV. OPPRESSIVENESS. (Proverbs 22:16.) To become rich at the expense of other's loss is no real gain. The attempt cuts at the root of sound trade and true sociality. Hastily gotten will hardly be honestly gotten. The Spaniards say, "He who will be rich in a year, at the half-year they hang him." Mammon, which more than anything else men are tempted to think God does not concern himself about, is given and taken away by him according to his righteousness—given sometimes to his enemies and for their greater punishment, that under its fatal influence they may grow worse and worse (Trench).—J.

    Proverbs 22:17-21

    The words of the wise to be taken to heart

    I. THEY YIELD DIVINE PLEASURE (Proverbs 22:18.) And all the pleasure of the world is not to be weighed against it. Let those who have "tasted of the good Word of God" bear their witness. The human soul is made for truth, and delights in it. There is pleasure in grasping a mathematical demonstration or a scientific law; and the successful inquirer may shout his "Eureka!" with joy over every fresh discovery. But above all, "how charming is Divine philosophy!"—that which traces the clear path of virtue, warns against vice, shows the eternal reward of the former and the doom of the latter, Received with the appetite of faith, Divine truth is food most sweet.

    II. THEY LEAD US ON TO CONFIDENCE IN GOD. (Proverbs 22:19.) And this is our true foundation. He is Jehovah, the Eternal One. He is the Constant One. His Name is the expression of mercy, of truth, and of justice. To love and to trust him is to be in living intercourse with all that is true and beautiful and good.

    III. THEY ARE RICH IN MANIFOLD INSTRUCTION. (Proverbs 22:20.) They are "princely words," i.e. of the highest and noblest dignity. Prone to sink into the commonplace, the mean, the impure, they lift us to high views of our calling, our duty, and oar destiny.

    IV. THEY PRODUCE, JUSTICE OF THOUGHT AND SOUNDNESS OF SPEECH. (Proverbs 22:21.) Thought and speech together form the garment of the soul. It is only the living sap of God's truth within us which can impart greenness and beauty, blossom and fruit, to the life. As water rises to the level from which it descended, so does all truth received into the soul go back in some form to the imparter, in thanks and in blessing.—J.

    Proverbs 22:22-29

    Right in social relations

    I. RELATIONS TO THE POOR. (Proverbs 22:22, Proverbs 22:23.)

    1. Robbery and oppression are a breach of the positive external law (Exodus 20:15), much more of the inward and eternal law written in the heart, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."

    2. The perversion of law and magisterial authority to this end is an aggravation of the offence. It makes the refuge of the poor the market for bribery.

    3. Above all, such oppression shows contempt for the authority of God. Among his titles to the throne of the world are these—that he is Protector of the helpless, Father of the fatherless, Judge of widows. The judgment on Ahab and the Captivity in Babylon (1 Kings 21:18-24; Isaiah 33:1) may be referred to as examples of retributive judgment on the spoilers of the poor.

    II. AGAINST ASSOCIATION WITH PASSIONATE AND PRECIPITATE MEN. (Proverbs 22:24, Proverbs 22:28.) It is a contagious temper. How soon is the habit of hot and violent language caught up from another! It is a dangerous temper. "Never anger made good guard for itself." It becomes more hurtful than the injury which provoked it. It is often an affected temper, compounded of pride and folly, and an intention to do commonly more mischief than it can bring to pass.

    III. AGAINST THE RASH INCURRING OF LIABILITIES. (Proverbs 22:26, Proverbs 22:27; see on Proverbs 6:1-4; Proverbs 11:15; Proverbs 17:18; Proverbs 20:16.)

    IV. AGAINST THE REMOVAL OF THE OLD LANDMARKS. (Proverbs 22:28. See the express commands of the Law, Deuteronomy 19:14; Deuteronomy 27:17; Job 24:2; Hosea 5:10.) A strict respect for the righits of others is the foundation of all social order. And connected with this is the duty of respect for the feelings for what is ancient and time honoured. There should be no violent change in old customs of life and thought. Necessity may compel them; caprice should never dictate them. A spirit ever restless and bent on innovation is a nuisance in society. The existence of a custom is a proof of its meaning and relative worth; until it is discerned that the significance is now a false one, it should not be swept away.

    V. ON THE PRINCIPLES OF SUCCESS. (Proverbs 22:29.)

    1. A man must know his business in the world. This is determined partly by his talents, partly by providential circumstances. "Know thy work "is as important a precept as "Know thyself."

    2. He must be diligent in his business, doing "with his might" what his band finds to do, laboring "with both hands earnestly" in every good cause.

    3. The result will be advancement and honour. We have shining examples in Joseph, Nehemiah, Daniel. Ability and capacity are no less acquired than natural; use alone fully brings to light the talent, and to it Providence opens the suitable sphere of activity. Men may seem to be failures in this world who are not really so. He alone can judge of the fidelity of the heart who is to utter at the end of the sentence, "Well done, good and faithful servant!" "Many that are first will be last, and the last first."—J.


    Proverbs 22:1

    Riches or reputation

    Both of these things are good in their way and in their measure. They may be held together, for many wealthy men have enjoyed s good name and much "loving favour." But it is not given to all men to command both of these. A large proportion of rich men have lost their reputation for equity' and humanity by the way in which they have gained their wealth. And they must necessarily be many who are compelled to take and keep their place among the poor. But if only one of these two desirable things is open to us, we may be very well satisfied that this is not the wealth, hut the worthiness, not the full treasury, but the good name and the kind regard. For—

    I. WEALTH IS VERY LIMITED IN ITS CAPACITIES. It is true that it commands considerable material advantages, and that it puts it in the power of its possessor to enlarge his own mind, to extend his social circle, and to multiply his usefulness. This, however, it only does as an instrument. It does not ensure any of these things. Men may possess it, and they may, as very many of them do, altogether neglect to avail themselves of the opportunity. It does not even dispose men to do these wise things; it is as likely as not to allure them in other and even contrary directions. The power of mere wealth, apart from the character of its owner, is very much slighter than it seems. It only really secures bodily comforts and the means of advancement.

    1. It does not center even happiness, for mere jollity or transient excitement is not happiness.

    2. It does not supply knowledge, much less capacity, and still less wisdom.

    3. It does not provide the friendship which is worthy of the name, for no man who respects himself will be the friend of the rich simply because he is rich. We do not love a man because he has a large account at his bank.

    4. It does not include the possession of any estimable moral qualities, nor, therefore, the favour of God. moreover—


    1. It involves heavy burdens, great anxieties lest it should be lost.

    2. It entails the most serious responsibility, lest its misuse or its non use should bring down the weighty condemnation of God (Matthew 25:26).

    3. It tempts to a dishonourable and degrading self indulgence; also to a cynical and guilty contempt of the poor and lowly.

    III. A GOOD REPUTATION INCLUDES OR IMPLIES THE BEST THINGS. Of course, men may acquire a fair name and even loving favour by very superficial qualities; but if they do, it is usually but short-lived. It breaks down under the weight of hard fact and accumulated experience. The good name which Solomon is thinking or, and which is the only thing of the kind worth pursuing, is that which is built upon or which springs from a sound character. It therefore implies the possession of uprightness, of purity, of truthfulness, of kindness, of reverence; and it therefore implies the possession of piety and the favour of God.


    1. It satisfies our self-respect; for we tightly wish to enjoy the intelligent esteem of our neighbours. We are rightly troubled when we lose it; we are justified in our satisfaction that we possess it. It is a pure and lasting gratification.

    2. It satisfies our affections. To have the "loving favour" of men is to have much true gladness of heart.

    V. A GOOD REPUTATION IS A SOURCE OF MUCH POWER. While the bad rich man is steadily declining in his command, his humbler neighbour, who is esteemed for his wisdom and his worth, is gaining an influence for good with every passing year.—C.

    Proverbs 22:2

    Rich and poor.

    The great problem of excessive wealth and pitiable poverty confronts us still, and seems likely to task our united wisdom for many years, if not for several generations. We may regard—

    I. THE BROAD AND NAKED FACT VISIBLE TO EVERY EYE. The fact that, while this world is stored with wealth beneath the ground, and is capable of bringing forth upon its surface ample supplies for all the need of the race, there is found amongst us vast mass of miserable indigence. Children are born into the world in homes where parents do not know how to feed and clothe them, where an early death would seem to be the happiest fate; and other children are born into and brought up in homes where parents have a great deal more than they need to provide for their necessities, and where life offers every opportunity for enjoyment with no necessity for labour.


    1. Such deep and wide distinctions as now exist must be contrary to his purpose. We cannot possibly suppose that it is in accordance with his mind that thousands of his children should be starving, unclad or ill clad, homeless, exposed to the saddest sufferings and the darkest evils, while other thousands of his children have more than they need or know how to make good use of.

    2. These distinctions are the ultimate result of the laws which he ordained. Poverty has its origin in sin; it is one of the penalties of wrong doing. All the evil we see and sigh over, of every kind, we must trace to sin and to the consequences which sin entails. It is a Divine law that sin and suffering go together.

    3. Some inequalities amongst us are directly due to his Divine ordering. He creates us with very different faculties. Some are fitted and enabled to do great things, which raise them in position and in circumstance above their brethren; others are not thus qualified Much, though very far indeed from everything, depends upon our natural endowments.

    III. THE UNDESIRABLE SEPARATION WHICH EXISTS BETWEEN THE RICH AND THE POOR. We do not know our neighbours as we should. We pass one another with cold indifference. Too often men turn away from their inferiors (in circumstance) with a contemptuous disregard which signifies that the poor man is beneath their notice; too often men fail to appeal to their fellows because they think themselves unworthy to address them. Between man and man, between brother and brother, there is a gulf of isolation which must be painful and pitiful in the sight of the common Father, the Maker of them both.


    1. Those on which they must feel the distinction between them—in business and in society.

    2. Those on which they should not do so—when they meet in public worship or for Christian work, then all differences of a material and social kind should be forgotten and ignored.

    3. One on which they will not do so (Revelation 20:12).

    1. Do your best to bridge the gulf, or, still better, to fill up the chasm which separates one class from another.

    2. Take care to have that distinction which will survive the shocks of time and change.—C.

    Proverbs 22:3

    Thoughtfulness and thoughtlessness

    All men might be divided into the thoughtful and the thoughtless. They belong either to those who look before them and prepare for the struggle or the danger that is coming, and avoid it; or else to those who go blindly on and stumble over the first impediment in their way. The "prudent man" of the text is not only the cautious man; he is the man of sagacity and foresight, who takes large and extended views of things. There are many illustrations of the thought, of which we may select.

    I. THE EVIL OF PECUNIARY ENTANGLEMENT. The prudent man forbears to enter into that alliance, or into those relationships, or on to that course of action which will demand more resources than he can supply. But the simple "pass on"—become involved, and pay the penalty of prolonged anxiety, of great distraction, of painful humiliation, of grave dishonour, of financial ruin.

    II. THE STRAIN OF UNWISE COMPANIONSHIP. A prudent man will consider well what company he can wisely keep, whose society will be beneficial and whose injurious to him, whether or not he can bear the pressure that will be put upon him to indulge in this or that direction, and he will shun the social circle that would be perilous to his integrity. But the simple take no heed, accept the first invitation that comes to them, become associated with those whose influence is deteriorating, succumb to their solicitation, and pay the penalty of serious spiritual declension.

    III. THE FORCE OF SOME PARTICULAR TEMPTATION. The wise perceive the danger of the intoxicating cup, of the saloon, of the racecourse, of the gambling table, and they keep steadfastly away. The simple pass on—self-confident, presumptuous, doomed, and they are punished indeed.

    IV. THE PASSAGE OF YOUTH. The prudent recognize the fact that, unless youth yields its own particular fruit of knowledge, of acquisition, of capacity for work in one field or other, the prizes of life must be foregone; and, recognizing this, they do not waste the golden hours of study in idleness or dissipation. But the simple take no heed, trust to the chapter of accidents, wait upon fortune, fling away their precious chances, and are "punished" by having to take the lower path all the rest of their days.

    V. THE RISK OF LOSING HEALTH. The prudent man sees that, if he urges his powers beyond the mark which kind and wise nature draws for him, he will gain a present advantage at the cost of future good, and he holds himself in check. The simple pass on—overwork, overstudy, strain their faculties, and break down long before their time.

    VI. THE LOSS OF LIFE. The wise man will count on this; he will reckon that any day he may be called to pass from his business and his family and his pleasure to the great account and the long future; and he lives accordingly, ready for life or for death, prepared to encounter the hour when he will look his last on time and confront eternity. The simple leave this stern fact out of their account; they pass on their way without making preparation either for those whom they must leave behind or for themselves when they enter the world where material treasures are of no account whatever; they pass on, and they "are punished," for they, too, reach the hour of departure, but they awake to the sad fact that that has been left undone for which a long life is not too long a preparation.—C.

    Proverbs 22:5

    The path of the perverse

    By "the froward" we understand the spiritually perverse—those that will go on their own way, deaf to the commandments and the entreaties of their heavenly Father.


    1. One of guilt. These froward souls who choose their own way, declining that to which God calls them, are most seriously guilty. Whether their disobedience be due to careless inattention or whether to deliberate recusancy, it is disloyal, ungrateful, presumptuous, offensive in a high degree. It is no wonder that it proves to be:

    2. One of suffering. No wonder that "thorns" are in that way, thorns that pierce and pain—grievous troubles, poverty, sickness, loneliness, fear, remorse, forsakenness of God. Departure from God leads down to tangled places, causes men to be lost in thorny wildernesses where suffering abounds. It is also:

    3. One of danger. It is a place of "snares." Without the "lamp unto the feet and the light unto the path," how should the traveller in "this dark world of sin" do otherwise than fall? Outside the service of Christ, and apart from his guidance, when the heart is uncontrolled from above, there is the greatest danger of the spirit giving way to one evil after another, of yielding to that multitude of strong temptations which attend the traveller's steps.

    II. THE WAY OF THE WISE. There is no necessity for man finding the path of his life a path full of thorns and snares. It is true that no prudence or wisdom will prove an absolute guard therefrom; but if a man will "keep his soul" as he may keep it, he will be preserved in his integrity, he will even "be far" from the worst evils which overtake the froward and perverse. To "keep our soul" is to:

    1. Understand its inestimable worth; to understand that it far transcends in value any property we may hold, or any position we may reach, or any prizes or pleasures we may snatch.

    2. Realize that God claims it as his own; that to the Father of spirits, to the Saviour of souls, our hearts and lives belong; that to him they should he willingly and heartily surrendered, that they may be placed in his strong and holy keeping.

    3. Guard it by the help of Divine wisdom; apply those precious truths which are in the pages of God's Word to its necessity; study the life and form the friendship of that One who himself is the Wisdom of God, walking with whom along the path of life we shall be safe from the wiles of the wicked one.—C.

    Proverbs 22:6

    Parental training

    Very many parental hearts have leaned their weight of hope on these cheering words—many to be sustained and gladdened, some to be disappointed. We look at—

    I. THE BROAD SPHERE OF PARENTAL TRAINING. What is the way in which a child should be trained to go? It is one that comprehends much. It includes:

    1. Manners. These are not of the first importance, but they have their value. And if politeness, demeanour, bearing, be not engraven in the young, it will not be perfectly attained afterwards.

    2. Mind. The habit of observing, of thinking, of reasoning, of sound reading, of calm consideration and discussion.

    3. Morals. The all-important habits of truthfulness, of temperance, of industry, of self-command, of courage, of pure and stainless honesty, of unselfish considerateness, of generous forgiveness.

    4. Religion. The habit of reverence in the use of the Divine Name, of public worship, of private prayer, of readiness to learn all that in any way God is willing to teach us.

    II. THE STRENGTH OF THE PARENTAL HOPE. Let the child be trained in these right ways, "and when he is old," etc.

    1. The assurance of habit. When we have firmly planted a good habit in the mind and in the life, we have done a very great and a very good thing—we have gone far toward the goal we seek. For habit, early formed, is not easily broken. We sometimes allude to habit as if it were an enemy. But, in truth, it is our best friend. It is a gracious bond that binds us to wisdom and virtue. Without it we should have no security against temptation; with it we have every reason to hope that youth will pass into prime, and prime into old age, clothed with all the wisdom and adorned with all the grace that it received in its early years. What makes the assurance the more strong is that habit becomes more powerful with each effort and each action. Every day the good habits we have formed and are exercising become more deeply rooted in the soil of the soul.

    2. The assurance of the common experience of mankind.

    III. THE NECESSARY LIMIT. Not the very best training of the very wisest parents in the world can positively secure goodness and wisdom in their children. For when they have done everything in their power, there must remain that element of individuality which will choose its own course and form its own character. Our children may choose to reject the truth we teach them, and to slight the example we set them, and to despise the counsel we give them. In the will of every child there is a power which cannot be forced, which can only be won. Therefore:

    1. Let all parents seek, beside training their children in good habits, to win their hearts to that Divine Wisdom in whose friendship and service alone will they be safe. Where sagacity may fail, affection will triumph. Command and persuasion are the two weapons which parental wisdom will do its best to wield.

    2. Let all children understand that for their character and their destiny they must themselves be responsible. All the very worthiest and wisest influences of home will lead to no good result it' they oppose to them a rebellious spirit, if they do not receive them in the spirit of docility. There is but one gate of entrance into life, and that is the personal, individual acceptance of Jesus Christ as the Lord and Saviour of the spirit. The parent may lead his child up to it, but that child must pass through it of his own accord.—C.

    Proverbs 22:13


    Few things are oftener on human lips than excuses. Men are continually excusing themselves from doing what they know in their hearts they ought to do. There is no sphere from which they are excluded, and there is hardly any evil to which they do not lead.

    I. THE SPHERES IS WHICH THEY ARE FOUND. The child excuses himself from the obedience which he should be rendering to his parents; the scholar, from the application he should be giving to his studies; the apprentice, from the attention he should be devoting to his business; the agriculturist, from the labour he should be putting forth in the fields; the captain, from setting sail on the troubled waters; the unsuccessful tradesman or merchant, from investigating his books and seeing how he really stands; the failing manufacturer, from closing his mill; the statesman from bringing forward his perilous measure; the minister, from seeking his delicate and difficult interview; the soul not yet reconciled to God, from a searching inquiry into its own spiritual condition and present obligation.


    1. There is a decided ingredient of falsehood about them. Those who fashion them know in their hearts that there is something, if not much, that is imaginary about them. The lion is not without; the slothful man wilt not be slain in the streets. The evil which is anticipated in all cases of excuse is exaggerated, if it is not invented. We do not, at such times, tell ourselves the whole, truth; we "deceive our own selves."

    2. There is something of meanness or unmanliness about them; we "let 'I dare not' wait upon 'I would.'" We allow a craven feeling of apprehension to enter in, to take possession, to prevail over our better self.

    3. There is an element of disobedience and unfaithfulness. We shrink from doing the thing which is our duty to do; we relegate to the rear that which we should keep in the front; we prefer that which is agreeable to that which is obligatory; we obey the lower voice; we leave unfulfilled the will of God.


    1. To have a very pitiable retrospect; to have to look back, self-condemned, on work left undone, on a life not well lived.

    2. To lose all that might have been gained by energy and decision, and which has been lost by sloth and weakness. And who shall say what this amounts to in the years of a long life?

    3. To miss the "Well done" of the Master, if not, indeed, to receive his final and sorrowful condemnation.—C.

    Proverbs 22:15

    (See homily on Proverbs 13:24.)—C.

    Proverbs 22:16, Proverbs 22:22

    (See homily on Proverbs 22:28.)—C.

    Proverbs 22:24, Proverbs 22:25

    (See homily on Proverbs 16:32.)—C.

    Proverbs 22:26, Proverbs 22:27

    (See homily on Proverbs 6:1-5.)—C.

    Proverbs 22:28

    The ancient landmark

    The text clearly refers to the ancient division of property by which the land was carefully marked out, and each family had its own proper share. The man who removed these boundaries in his own material interest was simply appropriating what did not belong to him. Perhaps "the removal of the ancient landmark" became a proverbial phrase to signify any serious departure from rectitude. It will be worth while to consider—


    1. A change in social customs. It is found by experience that we are all the better for leaving certain usages behind us. We outgrow them, and they become hindrances rather than aids to us.

    2. The remodelling of old institutions. The time comes when the old order changes, giving place to new, by common consent and to the general advantage. With new methods, new organizations, there may come new life and renewed power.

    3. The change of religious vocabulary. There is nothing wrong in putting the old doctrine in new forms; indeed, it becomes more living and more telling when uttered in the language of the time. Ancient phraseology is to be respected, but it is not sacred; it may and must give place to new.

    4. The modification of Christian doctrine; not, indeed, a change of "the faith once delivered to the saints"—a departure from "the truth as it is in Jesus," but such a varying account and statement of it as comes with increased light from the study of nature or of man, and with further reverent research of the Word of God. But what is—

    II. THE WRONG WHICH IS HERE FORBIDDEN. It is all criminal selfishness, more especially such as that referred to—the appropriation of land by immoral means, or the securing of any kind of property by tampering with a deed or other document. It may include the act of obtaining any advantage in any direction whatever by means that are dishonourable and unworthy. In all such cases we need the ear to hear a Divine, "Thou shalt not." To act thus is a sin and a mistake. It is:

    1. To disobey the voice of the Lord, who emphatically denounces it. Especially does God rebuke and threaten the wronging of the poor and feeble because they are such; to do this is to add meanness and cowardice to selfishness and crime (see Proverbs 22:16, Proverbs 22:22).

    2. To injure ourselves far more seriously and irremediably than we hurt our neighbour. It is to lose the favour of God, the approval of our own conscience, and the esteem of the fast.—C.

    Proverbs 22:29

    (See homily on Proverbs 6:6-11; Proverbs 27:23.)—C.

    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain.
    Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
    Bibliographical Information
    Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on Proverbs 22:17". The Pulpit Commentary. 1897.

    Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

    Bow down thine ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply thine heart unto my knowledge.
    2:2-5; 5:1,2
    and hear
    1:3; 3:1; 4:4-8; 8:33,34; Isaiah 55:3; Matthew 17:5
    23:12; Psalms 90:12; Ecclesiastes 7:25; 8:9,16
    Reciprocal: Exodus 7:23 - neither;  Psalm 31:2 - Bow;  Psalm 49:3 - mouth;  Proverbs 4:1 - attend;  Proverbs 5:7 - Hear;  Proverbs 10:17 - the way;  Proverbs 16:23 - heart;  Ecclesiastes 10:12 - words;  Ecclesiastes 12:10 - written;  Matthew 13:52 - which;  Luke 6:45 - good man;  Acts 18:26 - expounded;  Colossians 4:6 - your

    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain.
    Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
    Bibliographical Information
    Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Proverbs 22:17". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge".

    Wesley's Explanatory Notes

    Bow down thine ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply thine heart unto my knowledge.

    My knowledge — The knowledge of God, which I am here delivering.

    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
    Bibliographical Information
    Wesley, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 22:17". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". 1765.

    Whedon's Commentary on the Bible


    17.Bow down thine ear — Listen with reverence and attention.

    My knowledge — That which I communicate — my instruction: with special reference to that about to be imparted.


    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain.
    Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
    Bibliographical Information
    Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Proverbs 22:17". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.