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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Proverbs 4:18

But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, That shines brighter and brighter until the full day.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Nave's Topical Bible - Day;   Grace of God;   Perseverance;   Righteous;   Wisdom;   Young Men;   Thompson Chain Reference - Deterioration-Development;   Just, the;   Light, Spiritual;   Light-Darkness;   Paths, Right;   Progress, Spiritual;   Promises, Divine;   Right;   Righteous, the;   Righteous-Wicked;   Righteousness;   The Topic Concordance - Justice;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Day;   Light;   Perfection;   Perseverance;  
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Sun;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Light;   Way;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Holiness;   Perseverance;   Sanctification;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Nicodemus;   Parable;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Proverbs, Book of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Old Testament (Ii. Christ as Student and Interpreter of).;   Walk (2);   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Nicodemus;   Sanctification;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Proverbs book of;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Giant;  
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Path;   Time;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Midrash Haggadah;   Night;   Paradise;   Sun;  
Daily Light on the Daily Path - Devotion for September 30;   Every Day Light - Devotion for February 4;   Today's Word from Skip Moen - Devotion for February 15;  

Clarke's Commentary

Verse Proverbs 4:18. But the path of the just — The path of the wicked is gloomy, dark, and dangerous; that of the righteous is open, luminous, and instructive. This verse contains a fine metaphor; it refers to the sun rising above the horizon, and the increasing twilight, till his beams shine full upon the earth. The original, הולך ואור עד נכון היום holech vaor ad nechon haiyom, may be translated, "going and illuminating unto the prepared day." This seems plainly to refer to the progress of the rising sun while below the horizon; and the gradual increase of the light occasioned by the reflection of his rays by means of the atmosphere, till at last he is completely elevated above the horizon, and then the prepared day has fully taken place, the sun having risen at the determined time. So, the truly wise man is but in his twilight here below; but he is in a state of glorious preparation for the realms of everlasting light; till at last, emerging from darkness and the shadows of death, he is ushered into the full blaze of endless felicity. Yet previously to his enjoyment of this glory, which is prepared for him, he is going - walking in the commandments of his God blameless; and illuminating - reflecting the light of the salvation which he has received on all those who form the circle of his acquaintance.

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These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Proverbs 4:18". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.

Bridgeway Bible Commentary

Wisdom the inner guide (4:1-27)

The writer further instructs his ‘sons’ by passing on teaching that his own ‘father’ once gave him. The main point of that teaching was that, more than anything else, he was to get wisdom and insight (4:1-5). The first step in getting wisdom is the desire for it. Once obtained, wisdom will bring into the life of the possessor a new measure of security, honour and beauty (6-9).
By living according to God’s wisdom, people will have true freedom, and at the same time will be morally upright (10-13). They will not join in the evil deeds of those whose thoughts and actions are governed by the desire to do wrong (14-17). The more people do right, the better they understand life; the more they do wrong, the more confused their understanding becomes. Consequently, their mistakes become more frequent and more disastrous (18-19).
In addition to reminding themselves constantly of the instruction they have received, the disciples must keep their heart and mind, their whole inner person, in a state of moral and spiritual good health (20-23). Since the tongue and eyes can easily lead to wrongdoing, a person must control them through developing and maintaining right thinking and right attitudes (24-27).

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
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Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Proverbs 4:18". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". 2005.

Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

The counsel which has come to him, in substance, from his father. Compare it with 2 Samuel 23:2 etc.; 1 Chronicles 28:9; 1 Chronicles 29:17; Psalms 15:1-19.15.5; Psalms 24:1-19.24.10; Psalms 37:0.

Proverbs 4:7

Or, “The beginning of wisdom is - get wisdom.” To seek is to find, to desire is to obtain.

Proverbs 4:12

The ever-recurring parable of the journey of life. In the way of wisdom the path is clear and open, obstacles disappear; in the quickest activity (“when thou runnest”) there is no risk of falling.

Proverbs 4:13

She is thy life - Another parallel between personified Wisdom in this book and the Incarnate Wisdom in John 1:4.

Proverbs 4:16

A fearful stage of debasement. Sin is the condition without which there can be no repose.

Proverbs 4:17

i. e., Bread and wine gained by unjust deeds. Compare Amos 2:8. A less probable interpretation is, “They eat wickedness as bread, and drink violence as wine.” Compare Job 15:16; Job 34:7.

Proverbs 4:18

Shining ... shineth - The two Hebrew words are different; the first having the sense of bright or clear. The beauty of a cloudless sunshine growing on, shining as it goes, to the full and perfect day, is chosen as the fittest figure of the ever increasing brightness of the good man’s life. Compare the marginal reference.

Proverbs 4:19

Compare our Lord’s teaching John 11:10; John 12:35.

Proverbs 4:20

The teacher speaks again in his own person.

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These files are public domain.
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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Proverbs 4:18". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.

Smith's Bible Commentary

Chapter 4

Continuing to his son.

Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend that you might know understanding. For I give you good doctrine, don't forsake my law. For I was my father's son, tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother ( Proverbs 4:1-20.4.3 ).

So Solomon now is speaking of his father David and of his mother Bathsheba. "Tender and beloved in the sight of his mother."

Now he taught me ( Proverbs 4:4 )

Now this would be David, his father.

He taught me also, and said unto me, Let your heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live. Now get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth. Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee: love her, and she will keep you. Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all of thy getting get understanding ( Proverbs 4:4-20.4.7 ).

Now you know, there are certain people who have a lot of knowledge but they're fools. They don't know how to use their knowledge. They don't have wisdom. If there is to be a choice made between wisdom and knowledge, it's better to choose wisdom. It's like the mother who told her child, "Honey, when you don't got an education, you got to use your brains." And wisdom is really preferable to knowledge. For unless you have wisdom, knowledge can be dangerous. Knowledge can destroy. Wisdom is the principal thing, which is actually the correct application of knowledge. It's knowing what to do with what you know. Understanding.

So here is David talking to Solomon. "Now look, son, wisdom is the principal thing. So get wisdom. And with all of your getting get understanding." Oh, to have an understanding heart. Oh, to have a heart that is filled with wisdom. Fear of the Lord, the beginning of wisdom, where it starts.

Concerning wisdom:

Exalt her, and she will promote you: she shall bring you to honor, when you do when you embrace her. She shall give to your head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory will she deliver to you. Hear, O my son ( Proverbs 4:8-20.4.10 ),

It seems like Solomon picks it up here again.

receive my sayings; and the years of your life will be many. For I have taught you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in the right paths. When you go, your steps shall not be straitened; and when you run, you will not stumble. Take hold of instruction; [grip her] don't let her go: keep her; for she is your life. Enter not into the path of the wicked, do not go in the way of evil men. Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, run from it. For they sleep not, unless they have done some mischief; and their sleep is taken away, unless they've caused someone to fall. For they eat the bread of wickedness, and they drink the wine of violence. But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shines more and more unto the perfect day ( Proverbs 4:10-20.4.18 ).

So here is the contrast. The wicked who go in darkness and who cannot sleep until they've done their mischief and so forth, in contrast to the path of the just, which is as a shining light that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. Beautiful.

The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble. My son, attend to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes; keep them in the midst of your heart. For they are life to those that find them, and health to all their flesh. Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life ( Proverbs 4:19-20.4.23 ).

Here, I think, is perhaps the key. Keeping our hearts with all diligence. Now the Bible speaks of the soul, the emotions of man, conscious level, but it speaks also of the heart of man, which is always considered one level deeper. "Out of the abundance of the heart," the scriptures said, "the mouth speaks" ( Matthew 12:34 ). "It is not which goes into a man's mouth that defiles a man but that which comes out" ( Matthew 15:11 ). Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. And out of the heart there issue you know all of these things. So the heart is considered as sort of the center of the volitional part of man, the will of man. There is a difference made in the scripture with the believing in your mind and the believing in your heart. "That if thou shall confess with thy mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord, and believe in your heart" ( Romans 10:9 ). What you believe in your heart affects the way you live, what you believe in your mind can pass by and have no effect upon the way you live. But when it's down deep within your heart, then there is the effect upon your life. We must keep our hearts with all diligence, because it is out of the heart that the issues of life spring forth.

Put away from you a froward mouth [a perverse mouth], perverse lips put far from thee. Let your eyes look straight ahead. Ponder the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established. Don't turn to the right or to the left: but remove your foot from evil ( Proverbs 4:24-20.4.27 ). "

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Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Proverbs 4:18". "Smith's Bible Commentary". 2014.

Dr. Constable's Expository Notes

7. The two paths 4:10-19

In Proverbs 4:10-19, two paths again lie before the youth: the way of wisdom (Proverbs 4:10-13) and the way of folly (the way of the wicked; Proverbs 4:14-17). [Note: See Norman C. Habel, "The Symbolism of Wisdom in Proverbs 1-9," Interpretation 26:2 (April 1972):131-57, for a study of "the way" as a nuclear symbol in this section of Proverbs; and Daniel P. Bricker, "The Doctrine of the ’Two Ways’ in Proverbs," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 38:4 (December 1995):501-17.]

"Upright" paths (Proverbs 4:11) are straightforward ways of behaving, morally and practically. God’s way is the best route to take (cf. Matthew 7:13-14). It offers the fewest potholes, detours, and dangers. God’s commands are similar to the lines on modern highways. They help travelers stay on the proper part of the road so they do not have accidents, but instead arrive safely at the right destination.

"The road metaphor does not depict life from the cradle to the grave, but the road to eternal life versus the road to eternal death." [Note: Waltke, The Book . . ., p. 289.]

One writer restated Proverbs 4:14-15 as follows.

"Don’t take the first step, for you may not be master of your destiny thereafter." [Note: Plaut, p. 69.]

A person can become as zealous for evil as for good. However, this is upside down morality (Proverbs 4:16; cf. Romans 14:21). Another writer commented on Proverbs 4:16-17 in these words.

"How sick to find peace only at the price of another man’s misfortune!" [Note: Robert L. Alden, Proverbs: A Commentary on an Ancient Book of Timeless Advice, p. 47.]

This section closes with another summary comparison (Proverbs 4:18-19; cf. Proverbs 1:32-33; Proverbs 2:21-22; Proverbs 3:35).

"With the goodness of God to desire our highest welfare, the wisdom of God to plan it, and the power of God to achieve it, what do we lack? Surely we are the most favored of all creatures." [Note: A. W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy, p. 70.]

The main opposing elements set in contrast in Proverbs 4:10-19 alternate between safety and danger, and between certainty and uncertainty.

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Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Proverbs 4:18". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". 2012.

Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

But the path of the just [is] as the shining light,.... The "just" man is one that is made righteous through the righteousness of Christ imputed to him; and who is created anew in Christ, in righteousness and true holiness; and, under the influence of divine grace, lives soberly, righteously, and godly: the "path" he is directed to walk in, and does, is Christ himself, the way, the truth, and the life; through whose blood, righteousness, and sacrifice, he goes to God for grace and mercy, for peace, pardon, and acceptance, for fresh supplies of grace, and in order to enjoy communion with him; and who also is the way of salvation, and to eternal life and happiness: and, besides this grand and principal path, there are the paths of truth, righteousness, and holiness; the path of duty and obedience; the way of the commandments of God, and ordinances of Christ: and this path he walks in, whether of grace or duty, is "as the shining light"; or of the morning, when the day first dawns, or at least when the sun rises. Such is the light beamed in at first conversion, which directs men to walk in the above mentioned paths; it is a light after a night of darkness, as such is the state of unregeneracy; which, though at first is but glimmering, yet afterwards is clear and shining; especially when Christ the sun of righteousness appears, or is revealed, as the hope of glory. The first grace in conversion is a "true light [that] shines", 1 John 2:8, by which a soul sees its own vileness and filthiness, the insufficiency of its own righteousness; and the fulness, suitableness, and ability Christ as a Saviour, and has some discerning of Gospel truths;

that shineth more and more unto the perfect day; or "going and shining" z, or "enlightening": it shines clearer and clearer, so does true grace; it grows and increases more and more, every grace does, faith, hope, love, patience, humility, c. the light of the knowledge of Christ the way, though it is imperfect, yet capable of being increased, and is increased by means of the ministry of the word and ordinances which increase God has promised, saints pursue after, and attain unto. Light into the Gospel, and the doctrines of it, increases yet more and more; whereby a soul walks pleasantly, comfortably, and safely, in right path, "until the perfect day" of glory comes, a day without clouds; when there will be nothing to interpose between God and them; when there will be no more clouds of darkness, unbelief, doubts, and fears; when the sun will always be seen, no more withdrawn, eclipsed, or set; even Christ, the sun of righteousness, whose glory will always be beheld by the righteous to all eternity: when there will be no more night of affliction, desertion, and death; when the light of knowledge will be clear and perfect, and saints shall see face to face, and know as they are known; and when not only the light of the righteous shall be so clear, distinct, and perfect, but they themselves shall shine as the sun in the kingdom of God. The words may be rendered, "the prepared day" a; appointed in the decrees of God, and firmly established by them: the invisible glories of the heavenly state, which make this everlasting day, are things which God has prepared for his people; the kingdom and glory itself, the inheritance of the saints in light, is prepared for them from the foundation of the world. And, since such is the path of the just, who would walk in the ways of the wicked? which are the reverse of this, as the following words show.

z הולך ואור "vadens et illuminans", Montanus; "ambulans et lucens", Gejerus; "pergens et lucens", Michaelis; "procedens et lucens", Schultens. a עד נכון היום "usque ad paratum diem", Pagninus, Montanus.

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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 4:18". "Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

Cautions against Bad Company.

      14 Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men.   15 Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away.   16 For they sleep not, except they have done mischief; and their sleep is taken away, unless they cause some to fall.   17 For they eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of violence.   18 But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.   19 The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble.

      Some make David's instructions to Solomon, which began Proverbs 4:4; Proverbs 4:4, to continue to the end of the chapter; nay, some continue them to the end of the ninth chapter; but it is more probable that Solomon begins here again, if not sooner. In these verses, having exhorted us to walk in the paths of wisdom, he cautions us against the path of the wicked. 1. We must take heed of the ways of sin and avoid them, every thing that looks like sin and leads to it. 2. In order to this we must keep out of the ways of sinners, and have no fellowship with them. For fear of falling into wicked courses, we must shun wicked company. Here is,

      I. The caution itself, Proverbs 4:14; Proverbs 4:15. 1. We must take heed of falling in with sin and sinners: Enter not into the paths of the wicked. Our teacher, having like a faithful guide shown us the right paths (Proverbs 4:11; Proverbs 4:11), here warns us of the by-paths into which we are in danger of being drawn aside. Those that have been well educated, and trained up in the way they should go, let them never turn aside into the way they should not go; let them not so much as enter into it, no, not to make trial of it, lest it prove a dangerous experiment and difficult to retreat with safety. "Venture not into the company of those that are infected with the plague, no, not though thou think thyself guarded with an antidote." 2. If at any time we are inveigled into an evil way, we must hasten out of it. "If, ere thou wast aware, thou didst enter in at the gate, because it was wide, go not on in the way of evil men. As soon as thou art made sensible of thy mistake, retire immediately, take not a step more, stay not a minute longer, in the way that certainly leads to destruction." 3. We must dread and detest the ways of sin and sinners, and decline them with the utmost care imaginable. "The way of evil men may seem a pleasant way and sociable, and the nearest way to the compassing of some secular end we may have in view; but it is an evil way, and will end ill, and therefore if thou love thy God and thy soul avoid it, pass not by it, that thou mayest not be tempted to enter into it; and, if thou find thyself near it, turn from it and pass away, and get as far off it as thou canst." The manner of expression intimates the imminent danger we are in, the need we have of this caution, and the great importance of it, and that our watchmen are, or should be, in good earnest, in giving us warning. It intimates likewise at what a distance we should keep from sin and sinners; he does not say, Keep at a due distance, but at a great distance, the further the better; never think you can get far enough from it. Escape for thy life: look not behind thee.

      II. The reasons to enforce this caution.

      1. "Consider the character of the men whose way thou art warned to shun." They are mischievous men (Proverbs 4:16; Proverbs 4:17); they not only care not what hurt they do to those that stand in their way, but it is their business to do mischief, and their delight, purely for mischief-sake. They are continually designing and endeavouring to cause some to fall, to ruin them body and soul. Wickedness and malice are in their nature, and violence is in all their actions. They are spiteful in the highest degree; for, (1.) Mischief is rest and sleep to them. As much satisfaction as a covetous man has when he has got money, an ambitious man when he has got preferment, and a good man when he has done good, so much have they when they have said or done that which is injurious and ill-natured; and they are extremely uneasy if they cannot get their envy and revenge gratified, as Haman, to whom every thing was unpleasant as long as Mordecai was unhanged. It intimates likewise how restless and unwearied they are in their mischievous pursuits; they will rather be deprived of sleep than of the pleasure of being vexatious. (2.) Mischief is meat and drink to them; they feed and feast upon it. They eat the bread of the wickedness (they eat up my people as they eat bread,Psalms 14:4) and drink the wine of violence (Proverbs 4:17; Proverbs 4:17), drink iniquity like water,Job 15:16. All they eat and drink is got by rapine and oppression. Do wicked men think the time lost in which they are not doing hurt? Let good men make it as much their business and delight to do good. Amici, diem perdidi--Friends, I have lost a day. And let all that are wise, and wish well to themselves, avoid the society of the wicked; for, [1.] It is very scandalous; for there is no disposition of mind that is a greater reproach to human nature, a greater enemy to human society, a bolder defiance to God and conscience, that has more of the devil's image in it, or is more serviceable to his interests, than a delight to do mischief and to vex, and hurt, and ruin every body. [2.] It is very dangerous. "Shun those that delight to do mischief as thou tenderest thy own safety; for, whatever friendship they may pretend, one time or other they will do thee mischief; thou wilt ruin thyself if thou dost concur with them (Proverbs 1:18; Proverbs 1:18) and they will ruin thee if thou dost not."

      2. "Consider the character of the way itself which thou art warned to shun, compared with the right way which thou art invited to walk in."

      (1.) The way of righteousness is light (Proverbs 4:18; Proverbs 4:18): The path of the just, which they have chosen, and in which they walk, is as light; the light shines on their ways (Job 22:28) and makes them both safe and pleasant. Christ is their way and he is the light. They are guided by the word of God and that is a light to their feet; they themselves are light in the Lord and they walk in the light as he is in the light. [1.] It is a shining light. Their way shines to themselves in the joy and comfort of it; it shines before others in the lustre and honour of it; it shines before men, who see their good works,Matthew 5:16. They go on in their way with a holy security and serenity of mind, as those that walk in the light. It is as the morning-light, which shines out of obscurity (Isaiah 58:8; Isaiah 58:10) and puts an end to the works of darkness. [2.] It is a growing light; it shines more and more, not like the light of a meteor, which soon disappears, or that of a candle, which burns dim and burns down, but like that of the rising sun, which goes forward shining, mounts upward shining. Grace, the guide of this way, is growing; he that has clean hands shall be stronger and stronger. That joy which is the pleasure of this way, that honour which is the brightness of it, and all that happiness which is indeed its light, shall be still increasing. [3.] It will arrive, in the end, at the perfect day. The light of the dayspring will at length be noon-day light, and it is this that the enlightened soul is pressing towards. The saints will not be perfect till they come to heaven, but there they shall themselves shine as the sun when he goes forth in his strength,Matthew 13:43. Their graces and joys shall be all consummate. Therefore it is our wisdom to keep close to the path of the just.

      (2.) The way of sin is as darkness,Proverbs 4:19; Proverbs 4:19. The works he had cautioned us not to have fellowship with are works of darkness. What true pleasure and satisfaction can those have who know no pleasure and satisfaction but what they have in doing mischief? What sure guide have those that cast God's word behind them? The way of the wicked is dark, and therefore dangerous; for they stumble and yet know not at what they stumble. They fall into sin, but are not aware which way the temptation came by which they were overthrown, and therefore know not how to avoid it the next time. They fall into trouble, but never enquire wherefore God contends with them; they consider not that they do evil, nor what will be in the end of it, Psalms 82:5; Job 18:5; Job 18:6. This is the way we are directed to shun.

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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 4:18". "Henry's Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". 1706.