Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel;Analysis and Annotations
A detailed analysis, as we have made it in other books, cannot be fully made in this collection of proverbs. Most of them are detached and each has a message by itself. To interpret each separately, to point out the many spiritual lessons, as well as prophetic application, to show their relation to other portions of the Word of God and to explain them by incidents taken from the Bible, would require volumes; and even then the spiritual meaning would not be exhausted. All we can do is to hint at their meaning and give some annotations which, under God, may be helpful in the closer study of this book
I. INSTRUCTIONS OF WISDOM GIVEN TO SOLOMON
1. The Introduction (Proverbs 1:1-7)
2. Warning against evil companions and covetousness (Proverbs 1:8-19)
3. The appeal of wisdom (Proverbs 1:20-33)
Proverbs 1:1-7. The introductory words of these verses present the object of the book. These proverbs were given to Solomon, and contain instructions he received from the Lord. They are given to him that he might know wisdom. The word “wisdom” is the characteristic word of this book for it occurs in the original language 42 times, which is 6 times 7. Six in Scripture is the human number, while 7 is the divine number. Wisdom is the first thing to be acquired, and that is followed by instruction, or admonition, to receive the instruction, the discipline of wisdom. The instructions are in justice, judgment and equity and they give subtilty to the simple. The word “subtilty” means prudence; the word “simple” has the meaning of “guileless.” Solomon was a young man when the Lord answered his prayer for a wise and understanding heart, and in these proverbs given to him he received “knowledge and discretion” (thoughtfulness). Thus by the Word of God comes wisdom and that produces understanding and a moral character in the man who trusteth in the Lord and is obedient to Him. To hear marks the wise man, and hearing will increase learning, learning will give understanding so that proverbs can be understood and also the interpretation. The latter word is only used once more in the Old Testament. It has the meaning of “satire.” The words of the wise and their dark sayings (riddles) are the words of the wise men of this world, the philosophers. The meaning is not that these wise men were the instructors of the young monarch, but that the divinely given proverbs rightly understood would protect him from accepting the foolish things of human wisdom, of philosophy. “This verse (Proverbs 1:6) intimates that the aim of the book is to confer an initiation which will make the possessor free of all the mysteries of the wise” (T.T. Perowne).
Proverbs 1:7 contains the keynote to the entire book. (See Proverbs 9:10; Ecclesiastes 12:13; Job 28:28; Psalm 111:10.) The word “fear” means a godly fear, reverence. This fear of the Lord is mentioned fourteen times in Proverbs. This childlike reverence, so sadly lacking among the young of our day, is the beginning of knowledge; there is no true knowledge apart from the fear of the Lord. It means to acknowledge the Lord, adore and worship Him, bow in faith to His revelation and put it above everything else. The foolish despise wisdom and instruction, they follow the philosophies of this world. To acknowledge the Lord to reverence and fear Him is thus written over the portal of the house of wisdom.
Proverbs 1:8-19. The practical instructions begin with an exhortation of obedience to the father and mother. “My son” is the address of the Lord to Solomon, who thus acknowledges him as His child. Obedience to parents is not only commanded in the law dispensation; it is as prominent in the dispensation of grace, as we learn from Ephesians 6:1 and Colossians 3:20. One of the marks of the last days among those who profess Christianity who have the form of godliness but have not the power of it, is “disobedience to parents” (2Timothy 3:1-17). Such disobedience, so prominent today among professing Christians, is coupled with disobedience to God and rejection of His Word. Much of the ungodliness today has its source in this disobedience. This is followed by warning against wicked associates, those who are lawless and desperate men, thieves and murderers, who pass through the country greedy for gain. Solomon is exhorted not to walk in the way with them. The one who fears the Lord walks in separation and keeps away from the paths of the wicked. Proverbs 1:16 is quoted by Paul in the third chapter of Romans. There is a striking resemblance of this passage to Psalm 10:1-18 in which we have a description of the wicked, prophetically indicating the man of sin. (See annotations on that Psalm.)
Proverbs 1:20-23. Wisdom now speaks and wisdom in this first section of Proverbs is a person, a divine person. The eighth chapter gives us a wonderful vision of that Person, the Son of God, who is the Wisdom. First stands the call of Wisdom. The call may be answered or rejected. Wisdom promises if the call is obeyed, “Behold, I will pour my Spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you.” But if the call is refused the consequences will be disastrous. The appeal of wisdom closes with a precious promise.
But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely
And shall be quiet from fear of evil.
This appeal of wisdom, the call, the promise, the refusal and the calamity of the refusal to listen to Him who speaks furnishes an excellent theme for preaching the Gospel to the unsaved.