Proverbs 4 Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
Proverbs 4
Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding.
IV.

(g) Seventh Discourse:—Recollections of his Father’s Instructions (Proverbs 4:1 to Proverbs 5:6).

(1) A father.—That is, of me, your teacher.

For I was my father's son, tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother.
(3) For I was . . . son . . .—It is not only his own advice that he has to offer; he can tell his disciples of the excellent discipline and teaching he received from his parents in his old home. It may be remarked that the notices of Solomon’s early years which occur in this and the following verses harmonise well with what we know of him from the historical books of the Bible.

Tender.—The epithet applied to Solomon by his father (1Chronicles 29:1).

Only beloved.—The word yāchîd originally signified an “only” (son), as in Zechariah 12:10. Then it came to mean “beloved as an only son,” and that appears to be the sense of it in Genesis 22:2, as applied to Isaac (for Ishmael was then living), and to Solomon here (for Bath-sheba had other children by David, 1Chronicles 3:5). In Greek translations it is rendered “only-begotten” and “well-beloved,” epithets applied in their highest sense to Christ (John 1:14; Matthew 3:17).

In the sight of my mother.—Implying her affection, as Genesis 17:18.

He taught me also, and said unto me, Let thine heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live.
(4) He taught me also.—Comp. David’s advice to Solomon (l Chron. 28:9, 10).

Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth.
(5) Get wisdom, get understanding.—Like the pearl of great price (Matthew 13:46).

Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.
(7) Wisdom is the principal thing . . .—This may also be translated, The beginning of wisdom is Get (or, to get, comp. Proverbs 16:16) wisdom: and with (i.e., at the price of) all thou hast gotten (thy possessions) get understanding.

Exalt her, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to honour, when thou dost embrace her.
(8) Exalt her, and she shall promote thee.—Comp. 1Samuel 2:30, “Them that honour me I will honour.”

Take fast hold of instruction; let her not go: keep her; for she is thy life.
(13) For she is thy life.—Comp. 1John 5:12, “He that hath the Son hath life.”

For they sleep not, except they have done mischief; and their sleep is taken away, unless they cause some to fall.
(16) For they sleep not . . .—The practice of evil has become as it were a second nature to them, they cannot live without it.

For they eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of violence.
(17) The bread of wickedness.—i.e., acquired by wickedness, as (Proverbs 10:2) “treasures of wickedness.”

But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.
(18) But the path of the just . . .—The just have the Lord for their light (Psalm 27:1), on them the “Sun of righteousness” has arisen (Malachi 4:2). as “the light of the morning, even a morning without clouds” (2Samuel 23:4), and this light, that is, their knowledge of God, will become clearer and clearer till the “perfect day,” when they shall see Him as He is (1John 3:2). (Comp. Job 11:17; and Notes on Proverbs 6:23.)

The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble.
(19) The way of the wicked is as darkness.—By refusing to “walk in the light” of God’s Word, and conscience (1John 1:7), the light that was in them has become darkness (Matthew 6:23); they know not whither they are going (John 12:35), and stumble (Proverbs 11:10) over difficulties which in the light they might have avoided.

For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh.
(22) For they are life . . .—Comp. 1Timothy 4:8, “Godliness is profitable unto all things, having the promise of the life that now is, (the highest happiness that man can attain to now, peace of mind,) and of that which is to come,” the assurance of a joyful resurrection.

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.
(23) Keep thy heart with all diligence.—Rather, above all things that are to be guarded.

For out of it are the issues of life.—That is, from it comes life (and also death). From it proceed “all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works,” signs of the life with God within the soul; or, “evil thoughts, murders,” &c. (Matthew 15:19), “the end of which things is death” (Romans 6:21).

Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee.
(24) A froward mouth.—Heb. ‘iqqeshûth, literally, distortion, or twisting of the truth, not the same word as in Proverbs 2:12; Proverbs 2:14.

Perverse lips—i.e., that “turn aside” from the truth.

Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee.
(25) Let thine eyes look right on.—Comp. the advice of Ecclesiasticus 7:36, “Whatsoever thou takest in hand, remember the end,” and of Hebrews 12:2, to look “unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.”

Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established.
(26) Ponder the path of thy feet.—Rather, make it smooth, level: take all obstacles out of it which may prevent thy going in the way God is leading thee. Comp. the directions to cut off even the hand or the foot that offends (Matthew 18:8). This verse is quoted in Hebrews 12:13.

Let all thy ways be established.—Or, directed aright; see that they lead straight to the end (Psalm 119:5).

Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.
(27) Turn not aside . . .—Comp. the direction of Joshua 1:7, and the praise accorded to David (1Kings 15:5).

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

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