|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
3:13-20 No precious jewels or earthly treasures are worthy to be compared with true wisdom, whether the concerns of time or eternity be considered. We must make wisdom our business; we must venture all in it, and be willing to part with all for it. This Wisdom is the Lord Jesus Christ and his salvation, sought and obtained by faith and prayer. Were it not for unbelief, remaining sinfulness, and carelessness, we should find all our ways pleasantness, and our paths peace, for his are so; but we too often step aside from them, to our own hurt and grief. Christ is that Wisdom, by whom the worlds were made, and still are in being; happy are those to whom he is made of God wisdom. He has wherewithal to make good all his promises.
Verse 16. - The remaining three verses (16-18) state in what respects Wisdom is incomparable in value. Length of days; orek yamim, as in ver. 2. Wisdom is here represented as holding in her right hand that which is previously promised to obedience. Length of days is the blessing of blessings, the condition of all prosperity and enjoyment, and hence is placed in the right hand, the chief place, for among the Hebrews and other Oriental nations, as also among the Greeks the right hand was regarded as the position of highest honour (Psalm 110:1; 1 Kings 2:19; 1 Macc. 10:63; Matthew 22:24); cf. Psalm 16:11. in which the psalmist says of Jehovah, "In thy right hand there are pleasures forevermore." The two hands, the right and the left, signify the abundance of Wisdom's gifts. Riches and honour stand here for prosperity in general. The same expression occurs in Proverbs 8:8, where riches are explained as "durable riches." A spiritual interpretation can, of course, be given to this passage - length of days being understood of eternal life; riches, of heavenly riches; and honour, not "the honour that cometh of men," but honour conferred by God (1 Samuel 5:44; John 12:26); see Wardlaw, in loc. The thought of the verse is, of course, that Wisdom not only holds these blessings in her hands, but also confers them on those who seek her. The LXX. adds, "Out of her month proceedeth righteousness; justice and mercy she beareth upon her tongue;" possibly suggested by Proverbs 8:3. The words of the teacher remind us of the saying of Menander, Ὁ διαφέρων λογισμῷ πάντ ἔχει, "He who excels in prudence possesses all things."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Length of days is in her right hand,.... Wisdom is here represented as a queen, as indeed she is above all kings and queens; see Proverbs 8:15; holding in one hand, instead of a sceptre, "length of days"; and in the other, instead of a globe, riches and honour: the allusion is thought by some on this clause to be to an ancient custom of numbering things, and the ages of men, by the hand and fingers, beginning with the left hand, and when they came to a hundred went to the right (z); so that in that might be truly said to be "length of days", few arriving to that number: or rather the reference is to what Solomon received of the Lord, who, asking wisdom, had not that only, but a long life, and riches and honour; see 1 Kings 3:11. Some think that only temporal blessings are here meant, and, because health and long life are preferable to wealth and honour, the former are said to be in the right hand, and the latter in the left; but seeing in the preceding verses the advantages of wisdom are superior to silver, gold, and precious stones, it can hardly be thought that she should be represented as only having temporal blessings in her hands to bestow on her followers. Others are of opinion that spiritual and eternal blessings are the right hand ones, being the principal; and temporal blessings are the left hand ones, as being the less valuable, Matthew 6:33; but to me they seem all of one sort, all spiritual and eternal ones, even those of the left hand, by comparing this passage with Proverbs 8:18. By "length of days" is meant "length of days for ever and ever", Psalm 21:4; or eternal life, a life of vision or enjoyment of God; a life of perfect knowledge, holiness, and pleasure; being free from all the imperfections, difficulties, and distresses of the present one, and which will last for ever; this is in the hand of Christ, not the promise and grant of it only, but the thing itself, in consequence of his asking it of his Father: and which he has in a covenant way, and so has a right and power to bestow it: and it being in his hands shows both the valuableness and the security and safety of it; and also that it is to be had from him, and is in his gift, and in no other; and is a pure gift of his grace; wherefore happy is the man that finds Wisdom, or Christ, since he finds and has eternal life in him;
and in her left hand riches and honour; by "riches" are meant not temporal riches, for these are not always to the wise, nor to the children of Wisdom, nor of Christ; and all that have these are not happy, nor are they durable: but spiritual riches are intended, the riches of grace; of pardoning, justifying, and sanctifying grace, and of all supplies of grace; and also the riches of glory, which are solid and satisfying, immense and unsearchable, lasting and durable: and by "honour" is designed not the honour which comes from men, or the honour of this world; for such who find Christ, and are possessed of him, and profess him, have but a small share of this, being, generally speaking, accounted the faith and offscouring of the world; but yet they are the children of God, and so have that name which is better than to be the sons and daughters of the greatest monarch; they are the spouse of Christ, and so his queen that stands at his right hand in gold of Ophir; they are made kings and priests unto God, and shall reign with Christ for evermore; this honour have all the saints, and is what is in the hands of Christ to give, and does give, to all that believe in him: or "glory" (a), as the word signifies; the glory of God, eternal glory; this as well as grace is Christ's gift, Psalm 84:11.
(z) Vid. Nebrissens. Quinquagena, c. 16. & Alex. ab Alex. Genial. Dier l. 1. c. 14. to which Juvenial refers, when speaking of Nestor, "----suos jam dextra computat annos", Satyr. 10. v. 249. (a) "gloria", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, Mercerus, Gejerus, Cocceius, Schultens.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
16, 17. Wisdom personified as bringing the best blessings (compare Mt 6:33; 1Ti 4:8).
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