Proverbs 1:1 MEANING

Proverbs 1:1

(1) Proverbs.--For the various senses of the Hebrew m?sh?l thus translated, see Introduction.

Solomon.--The absolute quiet and prosperity of the reign of Solomon (the man of peace), as described in 1 Kings 4:20, sqq., would naturally be conducive to the growth of a sententious philosophy; whereas the constant wars and dangerous life of David had called forth the impassioned eloquence of the Psalms.

Verse 1. - The proverbs of Solomon. The word which is here translated "proverbs" is the original mishle (מִשְׁלֵי), the construct case of mashal (מָשָׁל), which, again, is derived from the verb mashal (מָשַׁל), signifying

(1) "to make like," "to assimilate," and

(2) "to have dominion" (Gesenius).

The radical signification of mashal is "comparison" or "similitude," and in this sense it is applied generally to the utterances of the wise. In Numbers 23:7, 8 it is used of the prophetic predictions of Balaam; certain didactic psalms, e.g. Psalm 49:5 and Psalm 78:2, are so designated, and in Job (Job 27:1 and Job 29:1) it describes the sententious discourses of wise men. While all these come under the generic term of m'shalim, though few or no comparisons are found in them, we find the term mashal sometimes used of what are proverbs in the sense of popular sayings. Compare "Therefore it became a proverb (מָשָׁל), Is Saul also among the prophets?" (1 Samuel 10:12); and see also other instances in Ezekiel 16:4 and Ezekiel 18:2. In this sense it is also found in the collection before us. The predominant idea of the term, however, is that of comparison or similitude, and as such it is better represented by the Greek παραβολή (from παραβάλλω, "to set or place side by side"), literally, a placing beside, or comparison, than by παροιμία, "a byword," or "a trite wayside saying," though in the Greek of the synoptic Gospels παροιμία is equivalent to παραβολή. The English word "proverb" insufficiently renders the wider scope of meaning conveyed in the Hebrew mashal, and is not quite accurately rendered here, since of proverbs in our ordinary signification of that word there are comparatively few in this collection. The Hebrew word here means "maxims," "aphorisms," "wise counsels." Of Solomon. Most modern commentators (Delitzsch, Zockler, Fuerst, Stuart, Plumptre, etc.), while attributing, in a greater or less degree, the authorship of the book to Solomon, regard the insertion of his name in the title as indicating rather that he is the dominant spirit among those wise men of his age, some of whose sayings are here incorporated with his own. King of Israel, as forming the second hemistich of the verse, goes with "Solomon," and not "David." This is indicated in the Authorized Version by the position of the comma. The Arabic Version omits allusion to David, and reads, "Proverbia, nempe documenta Salomonis sapientis, qui regnavit super filios Israel." The proverbial or parabolic form of teaching was a recognized mode of instruction among the Hebrews, and in the Christian Church is recommended by St. Clement of Alexandria ('Strom.,' lib. 11, init.).

1:1-6 The lessons here given are plain, and likely to benefit those who feel their own ignorance, and their need to be taught. If young people take heed to their ways, according to Solomon's Proverbs, they will gain knowledge and discretion. Solomon speaks of the most important points of truth, and a greater than Solomon is here. Christ speaks by his word and by his Spirit. Christ is the Word and the Wisdom of God, and he is made to us wisdom.The proverbs of Solomon,.... Who is said to make three thousand proverbs, 1 Kings 4:32; but whether any of them are contained in this book cannot be said: however, it is certain that they are not all in it, since, if you except the first "nine" chapters, which are the introduction to the Proverbs, there are but six hundred and fifty-nine verses in it; and if they are taken in, they make but nine hundred and fifteen, which are not a third part of the proverbs said to be made by him: however, here are as many and such as God thought fit should be preserved for instruction in all future ages. It was usual with the ancients in all countries, when any truth was found, and established by experience, to wrap it up in a few apt words, with or without a figure; that it might be the better understood and more easily retained, and which were always venerable and greatly attended to: and of this kind are these proverbs; only with this difference, that these are of divine inspiration, and the others not. The word used for them comes from one which signifies "similitude" and "dominion" (g); because many of them are similes or comparisons, and are delivered out in figurative expressions, in metaphors and allegories, and the like; and have all of them a commanding power, authority, and influence upon the mind, obliging to an attention to them. The name of Solomon is put to them, the more to recommend them; who had a wise and understanding heart, as large as the sand of the sea, and was wiser than all men, 1 Kings 4:29; and was an eminent type of Christ, who spake in proverbs also, John 16:25. He is further described by his pedigree and office,

the son of David, king of Israel; a wise son of a wise father, and king over a wise and understanding people. These titles are added for the further commendation of the book; and it may be observed that they are such as belong to the Messiah, Solomon's antitype, one that is greater than he, Matthew 1:1.

(g) A rad. "dominatus est----lvmn comparatus, similis, consimilis factus est", Buxtorf. "Mirum est quod radix significans antoritatem cum imperio, significat etiam parabolas vel sermones figuratos----verba quae vocantur, habent autoritatem, nobis ideam immittunt, dicentis ut nos supereminentis, saltem sapientia, ingenio, doctrina; nos persuadent et pondere suo, quasi imperio noe ducunt". Gusset. Ebr. Comment. p. 845.

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