praise ye the Lord; all before mentioned, and in the manner as directed, and that in time and to all eternity. Thus ends the book of Psalms.
There is another psalm added in the Septuagint, Syriac, Arabic, and Ethiopic versions, and in the metaphrase of Apollinarius; but is owned to be a supernumerary one, and not to be found in all copies; and is said to be written by David, when he fought with Goliath, and conquered him, and is as follows.
1. I was little among my brethren, and a youth in my father's house; I fed my father's sheep. 2. My hands made (or used) the organ; and my fingers fitted (or played on) the psaltery or harp: 3. And who hath declared to my Lord? he is Lord, he hath heard. 4. He sent his angel, and took me from my father's sheep; and anointed me with the oil of his anointing, 5. My brethren were goodly and great; and the Lord delighted not in them. 6. I went forth to meet the stranger (the Philistine), and he cursed me by his idols: 7. And I threw at him three stones into his forehead, by the power of the Lord, and laid him prostrate (z). 8. I drew out the sword from him; I cut off his head, and took away reproach from the children of Israel.
(z) This verse is only in the Arabic version.
INTRODUCTION TO PROVERBS
This book is called, in some printed Hebrew copies, "Sepher Mishle", the Book of Proverbs; the title of it in the Vulgate Latin version is,
"the Book of Proverbs, which the Hebrews call "Misle":''
in the Septuagint version it has the name of the writer, the Proverbs of Solomon; and so in the Syriac version, with the addition of his titles,
"the son of David, king of Israel.''
This and Ecclesiastes are both of them by the Jews (a) called Books of Wisdom: and it is common with the ancient Christian writers (b) to call the book of Proverbs by the names of "Wisdom" and "Panaretos"; names they give also to the apocryphal books of Ecclesiasticus and the Wisdom of Solomon; and therefore this is to be carefully distinguished from them. The author of this book was King Solomon, as the "first" verse, which contains the inscription of it, shows; for he was not a collector of these proverbs, as Grotius is of opinion, but the author of them, at least of the far greater part; and not only the author, but the writer of them: the Jews (c) say that Hezekiah and this men wrote them; it is true indeed the men of Hezekiah copied some, Proverbs 25:1; but even those were written by Solomon. R. Gedaliah (d) would have it that Isaiah the prophet wrote this book; but without any foundation. At what time it was written is not certain; the Jewish writers generally say (e) it was written by Solomon, as were the books of Ecclesiastes and the Song of Songs, in his old age, when near the time of his death; though some think it was written before his fall: and it may be it was not written all at once, but at certain times, when these proverbs occurred unto him and were spoken by him, and as occasion served: however, it is not to he doubted but that they were written under the inspiration of God. The Jews once thought to have made this book of Proverbs an apocryphal one, because of some seeming contradictions in it; but finding that these were capable of a reconciliation, changed their minds, as became them (f). Among Christians, Theodore of Mopsuest, in the sixth century, denied the divine authority of this book, and attributed it merely to human wisdom; which opinion of his was condemned in the second council at Constantinople: and in later times it has been treated with contempt by the Socinians, and particularly by Father Simon and Le Clerc; but the authority of it is confirmed by the writers of the New Testament, who have cited passages out of it; see Romans 12:20 from Proverbs 25:21. The book consists of "five" parts; "first", a preface or introduction, which takes up the first "nine" chapters; the "second", the proverbs of Solomon, put together by himself, beginning at the tenth chapter to the twenty-fifth; the "third", the proverbs of Solomon, copied by the men of Hezekiah, beginning at the twenty-fifth chapter to the thirtieth; the "fourth", the words of Agur, the thirtieth chapter, the "fifth", the instruction of Solomon's mother, Bathsheba, the thirty-first chapter.
(a) Gloss. in T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 14. 2.((b) Euseb. Eccl. Hist. l. 4. c. 22. 26. (c) T. Bab. Ibid. fol. 15. 1.((d) Shalshalet Hakabala, fol. 55. 1.((e) Seder Olam Rabba, c. 15. p. 41. (f) T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 30. 2.
INTRODUCTION TO Proverbs 1
After the inscription, which gives the title of the book, and describes the author by his name, descent, and dignity, Proverbs 1:1, follows the scope and design of it, which is to teach men wisdom and knowledge; even such as are simple and foolish, and particularly young men; nay, hereby wise men may grow wiser, and attain to an higher degree of learning, Proverbs 1:2; and the "first" doctrine taught in it is the fear of the Lord, or devotion to God; which is the beginning of knowledge, though despised by fools, Proverbs 1:7. The next is obedience to parents; whose instructions, attended to, are more ornamental than chains of gold, Proverbs 1:8. And then follows a dissuasive from bad company; in which the arguments made use of by wicked men to draw in others with them, and the danger of compliance, are most strongly and beautifully represented, Proverbs 1:10. When Wisdom, who is the instructor and teacher throughout the whole, is introduced as calling upon the simple and the scorners to leave their sins and turn to her, with a promise of the Spirit to them, Proverbs 1:20; but they slighting and rejecting her call, are threatened with just and irrevocable rum and destruction, Proverbs 1:24. And the chapter is closed with a promise of safety and rest to those that hearken to her, Proverbs 1:33.
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.
to perceive the words of understanding; which flow from a good understanding, and give a right understanding of things; so that a man may be able to distinguish between light and darkness, truth and error, right and wrong; particularly the doctrines of the Gospel may be meant, which are eminently so, and exceed the understanding of a natural man, and which are only understood by a spiritual man; the means of knowing which are the Scriptures, under the guidance and direction of the Spirit of God.
justice, and judgment, and equity; that which is just in itself, and according to the nature of God and his will; and is judged so by right reason; and is equitable between man and man, and agrees with the law of God. These three, R. Levi Ben Gersom says, signify one and the same thing; true righteousness, doing that which is just to God and man; which the doctrines of grace, or the instructions of wisdom, teach men to do; concerning which many rules may be collected from this book.
(h) "prudentiae", Munster, Vatablus.
to the young man knowledge and discretion; or "thought" (i); who wants both: this book will teach him the knowledge of things moral, civil, and religious: to think and act aright; how to behave and conduct himself wisely and discreetly before men; and be a means of forming his mind betimes for piety and religion; and of furnishing him with rules for his deportment in future life, in all the periods of it; and in whatsoever state and condition he may come into. A "young man may cleanse his way", Psalm 119:9, reform his manners, behave with purity and uprightness, by taking "heed" to the things herein contained.
(i) "cogitationem", Pagninus, Mercerus; "bonam cogitationem", Michaelis.
and will increase learning; or "add" (k) to his stock of learning; or, as the Targum,
"will add knowledge;''
see 2 Peter 1:5; or, "will be wiser", as the Vulgate Latin version. This is said to show the excellency of this book, and the extensive usefulness of it; indeed wise men will get knowledge where fools cannot, and increase learning where others can get none: there are few books but a wise man will get something out of; and especially such a book as this, and as the Scriptures are;
and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels; a man of a spiritual understanding arrives to the knowledge of the wise counsels of God; the doctrines of the Gospel, which are the "whole counsel" of God; are recondite wisdom, the hidden wisdom of God, which no wisdom of man is comparable to. It is the wisest scheme that was ever formed, and which the wit of man could never have devised, even salvation by Jesus Christ; and which was laid in God's "counsels of old", which are "faithfulness" and "truth"; the knowledge of which is attained unto by one that is spiritually wise. Moreover, a man that thoroughly understands the things contained in this book is fit to be a counsellor of others in things human and divine; in things moral, civil, and spiritual: he is fit to be in the cabinet council of princes, to be a counsellor of kings; yea, to have the reins of government in his hands. "He shall possess government"; so the Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, and Arabic versions: or, "he shall possess the helm" (l); sit as a pilot there, as the word may signify, and steer the ship aright in which he is; whether it be his family, or the church of God, or a city or corporation, or a kingdom: this book, rightly understood by him, will furnish him with rules to do all things well and wisely.
(k) "addet", Pagninus, Montanus, Mercerus, Cocceius, Michaelis, Schultens. (l) "gubernacula possidebit", V. L. "metaphora a nauclero desumpta", Schultens.
the words of the wise, and their dark sayings; the words and doctrines, not of the wise philosophers and sages of the Heathen world, but of men truly wise and good; and especially of the wise inspired writers of the Scriptures, whose words come from one Shepherd, Ecclesiastes 12:11; and the enigmas or riddles contained in their writings, which are so to a natural man, obscure phrases and expressions, things hard and difficult to be understood, yet to a spiritual man, that judgeth all things, plain and easy, 1 Corinthians 2:14.
(m) "facundiam", Montanus; "eloquentiam", Tigurine version; "elocutionem", Mercerus, Gejerus.
but fools despise wisdom and instruction; the same with "knowledge" before; they do not desire the knowledge of God, and of his ways and worship, but despise it, make no account of it, but treat it with contempt; especially the knowledge of God in Christ, in which lies the highest wisdom, for this is "life eternal", John 17:3; they despise Christ "the Wisdom of God", and the Gospel, and the truths of it, which are "the hidden wisdom" of God; and all "instruction" into it, and the means of it; they despise the Scriptures, which are able to make a man "wise unto salvation"; and the ministry of the word, and the ministers of it: such sort of "discipline" (n) was this, as the word signifies, they dislike and abhor; and especially "correction" or "chastisement" (o), which is also the sense of it; suffering reproach and affliction for the sake of wisdom, a profession of Christ and his Gospel; and they are fools with a witness that despise all this; such fools are atheists, deists, and all profane and wicked men. The Septuagint render it, "the ungodly"; and such sort of men are all along meant by "fools" in this book.
(n) "disciplinam", Tigurine version, Piscator, Cocceius, Schultens, (o) "Castigationem, correctionem", Vatablus.
and forsake not the law of thy mother; meaning not the congregation of Israel, the old synagogue, or Jewish church, as Jarchi; and so in the Talmud (p) it is interpreted of the congregation of Israel, as is "thy father" in the former clause of the divine Being; nor the operative faculty of the human understanding, as Gersom; but the mother of Solomon's son; and any and every mother of a child, who having an equal or greater tenderness for her offspring, and a true and hearty regard for their welfare, will instruct them in the best manner she can, give the best rules, and prescribe the best laws she can for their good; and which ought to be as carefully attended to and obeyed as those of a father; and she is particularly mentioned, because the law of God equally enjoins reverence and obedience to both parents, which human laws among the Gentiles did not; and because children are too apt to slight the directions and instructions of a mother; whereas they carry equal authority, and have in them the nature of a law, as those of a father.
(p) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 102. 1.
and chains about thy neck; be that unto them as chains of gold are to the neck, beautify and adorn them; so good works, done in obedience to God and parents, are ornaments of great price, and preferable to any outward adorning whatever; see 1 Timothy 2:9. The allusions are unto, and the metaphors taken from, those things which are most pleasing and acceptable to children, as fine top knots and golden chains.
consent thou not; yield not to their persuasions, listen not to their solicitations, show no liking and approbation of them, assent neither by words nor deeds; do not say "thou wilt"; say "I will not", and abide by it; be deaf to all their entreaties, and proof against all their persuasions.
let us lay wait for blood; lie in ambush under some hedge or another, waiting till a rich traveller comes up and passes that way, and then rise and shed his blood in order to get his money; and the same word signifies both "blood" and "money", and wait is laid for one for the sake of the other;
let us lurk privily for the innocent without cause; or "let us hide" (q), the Vulgate Latin version adds "snares"; so Vatablus and others, as the fowler does for birds; or "let us hide ourselves" (r); in some private place, waiting "for the innocent", the harmless traveller, who has done no injury to any man's person or property; thinks himself safe, and is not aware of any design upon him; going about his lawful business, and having done nothing to provoke such miscreants to attempt his life or take away his property: and which they do "without cause" as to him; "freely" (s) as to themselves; and "with impunity" (t), as they promise themselves and one another; all which senses the word used will bear.
(q) "abscondamus", Michaelis. (r) "Abscondamus nos", Pagninus, Montanus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "abscondamus nosmetipsos", Baynus. (s) "gratis", Pagninus, Montanus, Michaelis, Schultens. (t) "Impune", Junius & Tremellius, Amama.
and whole, as those that go down into the pit; who though whole and in perfect health, shall in a moment be destroyed and cast into the pit, being first plundered of all the riches they have about them; for this swallowing them up alive and whole, which is an allusion to a beast of prey swallowing up another creature all at once, not only intends their cruelty in taking away life, but their rapaciousness in seizing upon their substance.
we shall fill our houses with spoil; Aben Ezra interprets this of garments; but it may not only design the garments taken from the persons robbed and killed; but also their money, commodities, and goods they were travelling with, which in time would be so large as to fill everyone of their houses; covetousness lies at the bottom of all this wickedness; the love of money is the root of all evil.
let us all have one purse; or "we will all have one purse" (w); will throw all our booty, taken by us into one common stock, and live upon it comfortably and merrily. Jarchi represents it as putting it to the young man's option, to do which he would, either to cast lots and take his share separately, or let it be put altogether, and so partake jointly with the rest. According to Gersom the sense is, that there should be such an exact division made, that there should not be more in one purse than in another; their shares should be equally divided by lot, and their purses should be alike; one should not have more than another: these are the arguments used by wicked men to allure and ensnare young men to join with them in their sinful ways and practices; from which they are dehorted, as follows.
(u) "sortem tuam conjicies", Junius & Tremellius; "projicies", Mercerus, Baynus; "jacies", Cocceius, Michaelis, Schultens. (w) "erit nobis omnibus", Pagninus, Montanus, Tigurine version; so Cocceius, Schultens, and the Targum.
refrain thy foot from their path; their manner and course of life; do not follow it, nor join them in it; when there is an inclination or a temptation to it, withstand it; stop in time, do not proceed, but draw back, and go on in the way thou hast been trained up in, and remember the instructions of thy parents.
and make haste to shed blood; the blood of innocent persons, in order to get their substance, to cover their iniquity and shame, and that no information may be given of them; this is mentioned as having something very horrible in it, in order to deter from joining with them.
(x) "Velox ad facinus", Claudian. in Rufin. l. 1. v. 240.
(y) "sine causa", Vatablus, Mercerus, Gejerus.
they lurk privily for their own lives: while they are lurking in secret places to take away, the lives of others, they are laying snares for their own souls; and the consequence of it will be, that they will be brought to a shameful and untimely end here, or, however, to everlasting ruin and destruction hereafter.
which taketh away the life of the owners thereof: or who, even every one of those that are greedy of gain, and will be rich at any rate; such stick not to take away the life of the proper owners of that gain, or money they are greedy of, in order to get it into their own possession; and such wicked practices cannot fail of meeting with a just recompence of reward: or "which" covetous gain, or gain gotten in such a wicked manner, will be the cause of the life of the injurious masters and wrong possessors of it being taken away from them, either by the hand of the civil magistrate, or by God himself. These sins of robbery and murder are particularly instanced in, not only because other sins lead unto them, as sabbath breaking, drunkenness, and lewdness, and issue in temporal and eternal ruin; but because they were very common among the Jews at the time that Wisdom, or Christ, was here on earth: to which time the whole passage refers, as appears from the following verses; and that those sins were frequent then is manifest both from Scripture; see Matthew 27:38; and from the confessions of the Jews, who say (z) that forty years before the destruction of the temple the sanhedrim were obliged to remove from place to place, because that murderers increased, and they could not judge and condemn them, for fear of being murdered themselves; and it was because of this great increase they were obliged to stop the beheading of the red heifer (a).
(z) T. Bab. Avodah Zarah, fol. 8. 2.((a) Misnah Sotah, c. 9. s. 9.
she uttereth her voice in the streets: of the city of Jerusalem, and other places; nor is this contrary to Matthew 12:19; which is to be understood of crying in a bawling and litigious way, of lifting up the voice in self-commendation, neither of which Christ did; and yet might cry and utter his voice in the streets, that is, publicly preach his Gospel there, as he did; and he also sent his servants into the streets and lanes of the city to call in sinners by the ministry of the word, Luke 14:21; which perhaps may be meant of places in the Gentile world; nor is this sense to be excluded here; it may be figuratively understood of the public ministration of the word and ordinances in the church called the streets and broad ways of it, Sol 3:2.
(b) "sapientiae", Montanus, Vatablus, Mercerus, Cocceius, Michaelis.
"on the top of palaces;''
but rather it is to be understood of the synagogues of the Jews, where Christ frequently preached; and which, from hence, they build in the highest part of the city (c); and best of all the temple, whither the tribes of Israel went up to worship in great bodies, and to which the Jews daily resorted; here Christ taught publicly, as he himself says, John 18:20;
in the opening of the gates; either of the city, at which people went in and out in great numbers; or of the temple, where they passed and repassed continually on account of worship; see John 10:23; in allusion hereunto the public worship of God's house is signified by the gates of Zion, and also of Wisdom, Psalm 87:2;
in the city she uttereth her words; the doctrines of the Gospel; even in the city of Jerusalem literally, and in other cities of Judea and Galilee, the singular being put for the plural; and figuratively in the church of God, often compared to a city; and so all these expressions of "without", in the "streets", in the "chief place of concourse", "the opening of the gates", and "the city", may denote in general the openness and publicness of the Gospel ministry, both by Christ in his apostles, in Judea, and in the Gentile world; more especially the former;
saying, as follows.
(c) Maimon. Hilchot Tephillah, c. 11. s. 2.
and the scorners delight in their scorning; at Christ, because of the meanness of his parentage and education; at his disciples and followers, at his doctrines and miracles, sufferings and death;
and fools hate knowledge? the knowledge of Christ, and of God in Christ; the knowledge of the Gospel, and the truths of it; they hated the light of it, and did not care to come to it, but rather loved the darkness of the law, and even of error and infidelity; they hated Christ, the teacher of true and useful knowledge; they hated his person, though without a cause; they hated him in his offices, as a Prophet to instruct them, as a Priest to be the propitiation for them, and as a King to rule over them; such "fools" were they, and who are therefore expostulated with by Wisdom or Christ; which expostulations show their continuance in these things, and the danger they were in by them, the pity and compassion of Christ as man and a minister of the word, and the fervour and importunity of his ministrations.
"turn your face to my reproof,''
and not your backs, as they did, showing a dislike of it; or, as Aben Ezra,
"turn ye to hear my reproof;''
turn your ears and listen to it, and do not pull away the shoulder, or stop your ears that you may not hear it;
behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you; not "upon you", but "unto you": for the Holy Spirit of God is not here designed, and the effusion of his gifts, ordinary and extraordinary, or of his special grace; but the mind of Wisdom, or Christ, as the word is used in Proverbs 29:11. Some interpret it, "here, my will" (d); the external revelation of his will made in the ministry of the word, by whom "grace and truth", the doctrines of grace and truth, "came" in their full extent, John 1:17; for as the doctrines of "grace were poured into his lips", Psalm 45:2, so they were poured out by them again, out of his heart, as out of a fountain or well, as the word (e) here used signifies; which denotes the large and abundant revelation of the Gospel by Christ, and is mentioned as an encouragement to men to attend unto it; which sense is confirmed by what follows;
I will make known my words unto you; the doctrines of the Gospel, words of grace and wisdom, and such as never man spake as Christ did, his enemies being witnesses; the words of peace and reconciliation, of life and righteousness, and of eternal salvation, which were made known in a ministerial way by Christ and his apostles; but the Jews were such fools as to hate and despise the knowledge of these things; wherefore it follows:
(d) So some in Ben Melech. (e) "fluere, vel scaturire faciam", Baynus; "scatebrae instar effundam", Cocceius, Michaelis; "scaturiam", Gussetius; "ebulliam", Schultens; so Ben Melech.
I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; this is a gesture of persons calling to others, as orators and preachers, requiring silence and attention; and when eager and fervent, and importunate in their discourses; it is attributed to Christ, Isaiah 65:2; but, notwithstanding all Wisdom's eagerness, zeal, warmth, and importunity, expressed by words and gestures, it was all disregarded; no attention was given to it, which is here complained of.
and would none of my reproof; would not hearken to it, nor take it, nor receive any instruction from it nor caution by it; did not like it, but contemned it, and trampled upon it; see Matthew 23:37.
I will mock when your fear cometh; which is the same thing in different words; for by "fear" is meant the dreadful calamity on which brought dread, terror, and consternation with it, and of which they had fearful apprehensions beforehand: wherefore this is mentioned among the signs of Jerusalem's destruction, "men's hearts failing them for fear", Luke 21:26.
(f) "significat vaporem", Vatablus, Mercerus, Amama.
and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; suddenly and unthought of, fierce, and boisterous, throwing down and carrying all before it: so the said destruction did; it threw down the walls and houses of the city of Jerusalem, and the temple, and its fine buildings, so that not one stone was left upon another not thrown down, Matthew 24:2;
when distress and anguish cometh upon you; as they did at that time with a witness, when Jerusalem was besieged by the Romans: what with the sword of the enemy without, and the famine within; together with the vast number of cutthroats and seditious persons among themselves; it was such a time of distress and tribulation as never was from the beginning of the world, nor ever will be, Matthew 24:22. Josephus's history of those times is a proper comment on these words.
they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me; this is the very thing that Christ told the Jews, and much in the same words with these, John 7:34; for when he was gone, and they were in distress, then they sought after the Messiah, in the desert, and in the secret chambers, and in this and the other place, where they were told he was; but, alas! they could not find him: the true Messiah, whom they had rejected, was come and gone, and would return no more, until his second coming to judgment; or, however, till he came in his kingdom and power, to their ruin and destruction; of which coming of his the Scriptures often speak.
and did not choose the fear of the Lord; which is the beginning of knowledge, Proverbs 1:7; instead of choosing, they cast off the fear of the Lord; and by their rejection of the Messiah, and their usage of him, it plainly appeared that the fear of God was not before their eyes nor upon their hearts; nor did they choose or care for the pure, spiritual, and evangelical worship of God, introduced in the Gospel dispensation; the ordinances of Christ they did not choose to submit to; and would neither go into he kingdom of God or Gospel church state themselves, nor suffer those that were entering to go in, Matthew 23:13; but rather chose their superstition and will worship, according to the tradition of the elders, by which they made the word and worship of God of none effect.
they despised all my reproof; for their hypocrisy, uncleanness, covetousness, and other sins they were addicted to; see Matthew 23:1; but they "derided" him for it, Luke 16:14; where the same word is used as is by the Septuagint here. These things are repeated from Proverbs 1:25, to observe their ingratitude, and how just was their ruin, and what the true cause of it.
and be filled with their own devices; or "counsels" (g): their device and counsel was to put Christ to death; to deliver him to the Roman governor, that he might be crucified, as he was: and they afterwards had their bellyful of crucifixion, as the word (h) used signifies; such vast numbers of them were crucified by the Romans before the walls of the city, five hundred a day, and sometimes more; insomuch that room was needed for crosses, and crosses for bodies (i).
(g) "de consiliis suis", Pagninus, Montanus; "ex consiliis suis", Junius & Tremellius, &c. (h) "saturabuntar", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, Tigurine version, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, &c. (i) Josephus de Bello Jud. l. 5. c. 11. s. 1.
and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them; that is, the abuse of it; leading them to commit sins, which bring destruction upon them; or, seeing sinners live with impunity, and prosper in the world, take encouragement from thence to indulge themselves in sin, which is their ruin; or, being in prosperity, think it will always be well with them, and therefore put away the evil day far from them, which comes upon them at an unawares; which was the case of the Jews.
(k) "requies", Vatablus, Baynus, Mercerus, Gejerus; "quies", Junius & Tremellius; so some in Ben Melech.