Proverbs 1 – Wisdom

1 The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel;

Solomon’s wisdom and prolific production of proverbs and songs are mentioned in 1 Kg 4:32.

2 To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding;

“wisdom” –  this key term occurs over 40 times in the book.  It includes skill in living – following God’s design and therefore avoiding moral pitfalls.  The New Testament refer to Christ as “wisdom” from God (1 Cor 1:30; cf Col 2:3).

Verses 2-4 – verses 2-3 apply to the son or student; v 4 refers to the father or teacher.

3 To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and Judgment, and equity;

4 To give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion.

“Subtilty” – good Judgment or good sense (see 15:5; 19:25).  Outside of Proverbs the Hebrew word is used in a negative sense for craftiness or shrewdness (cf Gen 3:1; Job 5:13).

“simple” – another key word in Proverbs, denoting those who are easily persuaded and lack understanding (9:4, 16), who are immature, inexperienced, and simple (cf Ps 19:7).  Generally speaking, the Hebrew term for “simple” denotes one without moral direction and inclined to evil, see 1:22.

5 A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels:

6 To understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings.

“dark sayings” – the Hebrew for this word can sometimes refer to riddles or allegories (cf Ez 17:2).

7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

The theme of the book see 9:10; 31:30; cf Job 28:28; Ps 111:10.

“Fear of the LORD” – a long reverence for God that includes submission to His lordship and to the commands of His word (Ecc 12:13)  God is our king (Mal 1:14), but even as we stand in awe of Him we can rejoice (see Ps 2:11; Is 12:6).

“fools” – those who hate knowledge (v 22) and correction of any kind (12:1), who are ready to argue (20:3) and make no effort to restrain their anger (29:11), who are complacent (1:32) and who trust in themselves (28:26) rather than in God (Ps 14:1).

8 My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother:

9 For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck.

10  My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not.

11 If they say, Come with us, let us lay wait for blood, let us lurk privily for the innocent without cause:

“lay wait for blood” – their goal is personal enrichment by theft or oppression (vv 13, 19), even if they have to commit murder.  The author uses two major enticements that confronted the young man, as examples of the way of folly: (1) to get rich by exploiting others and (2) to be drawn into illicit sexual pleasure by immoral women who fail to honor their marriage vows (5:1-6; 6:24; 7:5; cf 2:12-19).

12 Let us swallow them up alive as the grave; and whole, as those that go down into the pit:

“swallow…as the grave” – vivid poetic imagery for shamelessly victimizing others.

13 We shall find all precious substance, we shall fill our houses with spoil:

“precious substance” – ill-gotten gain.  By contrast, the book of Proverbs teaches that wisdom brings the greatest riches man could ever gain (3:14-16; 16:16; cf Job 28:12-19).

14 Cast in thy lot among us; let us all have one purse:

15 My son, walk not thou in the way with them; refrain thy foot from their path:

“way” – cf the destructive paths of the adulteress in 2:18; 7:25).

16 For their feet run to evil, and make haste to shed blood.

The same as the first two lines of Is 59:7 and partially quoted in Rom 3:15; cf Prov 6:17-18).

17 Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird.

18 And they lay wait for their own blood; they lurk privily for their own lives.

“lurk privily for their own lives” – the wicked unintentionally spread a net for their own feet (29:6; Ps 35:8), so they are less intelligent than birds (see 7:22-23).  According to Is 17:14, the lot of those who plunder God’s people is destructive.

19 So are the ways of every one that is greedy of gain; which taketh away the life of the owners thereof.

Cf Is 17:14.  Contrast the long life enjoyed by the one who hates ill-gotten gain (28:16).

20 Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets:

“Wisdom crieth without” – here and in 3:15 – 18; 8; 9:1-12 wisdom is personified.

“Streets” – or in the town square; an open area inside the gate of a fortified city.

21 She crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she uttereth her words, saying,

22 How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge?

“scribers” – those who are proud and arrogant, who are full of insults, hatred, and strife, who resist correction, even though they deserve flogging.

23 Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you.

“pour out my spirit” – wisdom is like a fountain.  Her words would constantly refresh and strengt
hen.

24 Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded;

“refused” – as God was refused by Israel and Jesus by the people of Jerusalem (Matt 23:37).

“Stretched out my hand” –
cf Is 65:2, where God held out His hands all day long to a stubborn people.

25 But ye have set at naught all my counsel, and would none of my reproof:

26 I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh;

“laugh at your calamity” – not an expression of heartlessness but a reaction to the absurdity of fools, who laugh at wisdom, choose folly, and bring disaster on themselves.  Cf the Lord’s response to kings who think they can rebel against Him (Ps 2:4).

“fear cometh” –the foolish man experiences the calamity that he dreads coming (his worst night); also the fate of the “wicked man: (6:12-15).

27 When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you.

“as desolation” – see 10:25.

“as a whirlwind” – when Job’s family was killed by a mighty wind (Job 1:19), his comforters concluded that his wickedness was the cause of the disaster (Job 18:5, 12).

28 Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me:

“I will not answer” – just as God refused to listen to Israel when the people sinned (Deut 1:45; Is 1:15; Is 59:1-2).

“find me” – those who find wisdom find life and blessing.

29 For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD:

30 They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof.

31 Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices.

“eat…filled with their own devices” – the consequences depend on their actions (18:20; 31:31; Is 3:19).  “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Gal 6:7).

32 For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them.

“property” – the false sense of security that prosperity provides (see Is 32:9; Amos 6:1; Zeph 1:12).

33 But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.

“safely…quiet” – words used of places that enjoy God’s protection (see Is 32:18; Ez 34:27).