Proverbs 9:10
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.
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(10) The fear of the Lord . . .—Comp. Isaiah 11:2, where the “spirit of knowledge” and of the “fear of the Lord” is counted as the gift of God. (For the general sense of the passage, see above, on Proverbs 1:7.)

Knowledge of the holy—i.e., “the Holy One,” as in Proverbs 30:3.

Proverbs 9:10-12. The fear of the Lord, &c. — The very first, and, indeed, the principal thing which is to be instilled into all men’s minds, (without which they will make no progress in true wisdom,) is a serious sense of the Divine Majesty, and an awful regard toward him. And next, that no knowledge deserves the name of understanding but that which disposes us to devote ourselves, in holy obedience, to God; or the knowledge and practice of true religion, and the duties of it: see notes on Job 28:28; Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 1:7. If thou be wise, thou shalt be wise for thyself —

Thou dost not profit me, but thyself by thy wisdom. I advise thee for thine own good. But if thou scornest — If thou despisest and deridest the advice which I give thee, thou alone shalt bear it — The blame and mischief of it will fall wholly upon thee, not upon me, or my word, or ministers, who have warned thee.9:1-12 Christ has prepared ordinances to which his people are admitted, and by which nourishment is given here to those that believe in him, as well as mansions in heaven hereafter. The ministers of the gospel go forth to invite the guests. The call is general, and shuts out none that do not shut out themselves. Our Saviour came, not to call the righteous, but sinners; not the wise in their own eyes, who say they see. We must keep from the company and foolish pleasures of the ungodly, or we never can enjoy the pleasures of a holy life. It is vain to seek the company of wicked men in the hope of doing them good; we are far more likely to be corrupted by them. It is not enough to forsake the foolish, we must join those that walk in wisdom. There is no true wisdom but in the way of religion, no true life but in the end of that way. Here is the happiness of those that embrace it. A man cannot be profitable to God; it is for our own good. Observe the shame and ruin of those who slight it. God is not the Author of sin: and Satan can only tempt, he cannot force. Thou shalt bear the loss of that which thou scornest: it will add to thy condemnation.The holy - The word in the Hebrew is plural, agreeing, probably, with אלהים 'elohı̂ym understood (so in Proverbs 30:3). The knowledge of the Most Holy One stands as the counterpart to the fear of Yahweh. 10. (Compare Pr 1:7).

of the holy—literally, "holies," persons or things, or both. This knowledge gives right perception.

Of the holy; either,

1. Of holy men, whether such as all saints learn, or rather such as the holy men of God, the servants of this wisdom, teach from God’s word; or rather,

2. Of holy things, the Hebrew word being here taken in the neuter gender, as it is Numbers 5:17, and elsewhere; for this seems best to answer to

the fear of the Lord in the other branch.

Is understanding; is the only true, and necessary, and useful knowledge. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,.... This shows who the wise men are, and in what true wisdom lies; no man is wise till he fears the Lord, and he that does so is a wise man, at least then he begins to be one; this is the principal part of wisdom, Proverbs 1:7; and is at the first of it; it is the beginning of grace; it is the first act of wisdom, or grace; or which appears as soon as a man is converted and caused to know wisdom in the hidden part; as repentance, faith, and love, quickly show themselves in one act or another, so does the fear of God; for the former are never without the latter; for fear is an awe and reverence of the divine Being, joined with love to him, trust in him, and a desire to serve and worship him in a right manner; no sooner is a man converted, but presently there is in him a fear of offending God, from a principle of love to him; for not a slavish but a filial fear is here intended;

and the knowledge of the Holy is understanding: either the knowledge of the Holy Ones, as the three divine Persons in the Godhead, who are so called, Joshua 24:19; the knowledge of God the Father, who is holy in his nature and works; not a mere natural knowledge of him by the light of nature; nor a mere notional knowledge of him by revelation; not a legal knowledge of him as a lawgiver, and an offended Judge; but an evangelical knowledge of him in Christ, as his God and Father; and as the God of all grace in him; so as to have faith and hope in him, access unto him, and communion with him; this is right understanding: so the knowledge of Christ, God's Holy One; a knowledge of him in his person, offices, and grace; an inward knowledge of him, a spiritual acquaintance with him, so as to approve of him, believe in him, and appropriate him to one's self; this is to attain to a good degree of understanding: as likewise the knowledge of the Holy Spirit, the author of sanctification; of his person, and operations of grace; as a convincer and comforter; as a Spirit of illumination and faith, of regeneration and sanctification; and as the Spirit of adoption, and the earnest of glory; this is another branch of spiritual understanding. Moreover, such knowledge which holy men have, and which makes them so; and which holy men of God, moved by the Holy Ghost, have communicated in the sacred Scriptures, of which they are the penmen. The knowledge of holy things may also be meant; of the holy mysteries of religion, of the holy doctrines of the Gospel, which are all according to godliness, and teach men to live in a holy manner: the faith once delivered to the saints is a most holy faith, encourages and promotes holiness of heart and life; as the doctrines of God's everlasting love; eternal election; the unconditionality of the covenant of grace; redemption by Christ; conversion by efficacious grace; justification by Christ's righteousness; pardon by his blood; satisfaction by his sacrifice; and perseverance by his power: and now a knowledge of these things, not notional, but experimental, is understanding indeed; as well as a knowledge of holy and gracious experiences.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the Holy One is {i} understanding.

(i) He shows what true understanding is, to know the will of God in his word which is meant by holy things.

10. the beginning of wisdom] See Proverbs 1:7, note, where however the Heb. word for “beginning” is different. Between the antagonistic companies (dealt with in Proverbs 9:7-9) of “her children” (Matthew 11:19), who have already accepted her invitation, and who love her for her reproofs and profit by her instruction (Proverbs 9:8-9), and of the “scorners” and “wicked,” who hate and defame her (Proverbs 9:7-8), there is the as yet neutral company of the “simple,” to whom Wisdom now resumes her direct appeal. And in doing so she reverts to first principles, and lays down again the essential condition on which alone wisdom can be attained.

the holy] Rather, the Holy One. The word is plural, the plural of excellence or dignity. The parallel between the clauses of the verse is thus preserved. The same word occurs in Proverbs 30:3; Hosea 11:12 [Hebrews 12:1], where it is rendered, as it is here, the Holy One, in R.V.

The A.V., in its rendering of the phrase, follows the LXX. (βουλὴ ἁγίων) and Vulg. (scientia sanctorum).Verse 10. - Wisdom returns to the first apothegm and principle of the whole book (Proverbs 1:7). Without the fear of God no teaching is of any avail. The knowledge of the holy is understanding. The word translated "the holy" is קְדשִׁים, a plural of excellence (see on Proverbs 30:3) like Elohim, and equivalent to "the Most Holy One," Jehovah, to which it answers in the first hemistich. God is called "Holy, holy, holy" (Isaiah 6:3), in his threefold nature, and as majestic beyond expression. The only knowledge worth having, and which is of avail for the practical purposes of life, is the knowledge of God (see on Proverbs 2:5). Septuagint, "The counsel of the holy (ἁγίων) is understanding," with the explanatory clause; "for to know the Law is the character of good thought." This occurs again at Proverbs 13:15, though in the Hebrew in neither place. Now follows the street-sermon of Wisdom inviting to her banquet:

4 Who is simple? let him come hither!"

   Whoso wanteth understanding, to him she saith:

5 "Come, eat of my bread,

   And drink of the wine which I have mingled!

6 Cease, ye simple, and live,

   And walk straight on in the way of understanding."

The question מי פּתי (thus with Munach, not with Makkeph, it is to be written here and at Proverbs 9:16; vid., Baer's Torath Emeth, p. 40), quis est imperitus, is, as Psalm 25:12, only a more animated expression for quisquis est. The retiring into the background of the נערות (servants), and the immediate appearance of Wisdom herself, together with the interruption, as was to be expected, of her connected discourses by the אמרה לּו, are signs that the pure execution of the allegorical representation is her at an end. Hitzig seeks, by the rejection of Proverbs 9:4, Proverbs 9:5, Proverbs 9:7-10, to bring in a logical sequence; but these interpolations which he cuts out are yet far more inconceivable than the proverbial discourses in the mouth of Wisdom, abandoning the figure of a banquet, which besides are wholly in the spirit of the author of this book. That Folly invites to her, Proverbs 9:16, in the same words as are used by Wisdom, Proverbs 9:4, is not strange; both address themselves to the simple (vid., on פּתי at Proverbs 1:4) and those devoid of understanding (as the youth, Proverbs 7:7), and seek to bring to their side those who are accessible to evil as to good, and do not dully distinguish between them, which the emulating devertat huc of both imports. The fourth verse points partly backwards, and partly forwards; 4a has its introduction in the תקרא of Proverbs 9:3; on the contrary, 4b is itself the introduction of what follows. The setting forth of the nom. absolutus חסר־לב is conditioned by the form of 4a; the מי (cf. 4a) is continued (in 4b) without its needing to be supplied: excors ( equals si quis est excors) dicit ei (not dixit, because syntactically subordinating itself to the תקרא). It is a nominal clause, whose virtual predicate (the devoid of understanding is thus and thus addressed by her) as in Proverbs 9:16.

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