Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments:
Pr 3:1-35. The study of truth commended. God must be feared, honored, and trusted, and filial submission, under chastisement, exhibited. The excellence of wisdom urged and illustrated by its place in the divine counsels. Piety enforced by a contrast of the destiny of the righteous and the wicked.
1. law [and] commandments—all divine instructions (see on Ps 119:1 and Ps 119:4).
let thine heart keep—or sincerely observe (Pr 4:13; 5:2).
For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee.
2. length … life—often promised as blessings (Ps 21:4; 91:16).
peace—includes prosperity (Ps 125:5).
add—abound to thee.
Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart:
3. mercy and truth—God's faithfulness to His promises is often expressed by these terms (Ps 25:10; 57:3). As attributes of men, they express integrity in a wide sense (Pr 16:6; 20:28).
bind … write … heart—outwardly adorn and inwardly govern motives.
So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man.
4. favour—grace, amiability (Pr 22:11; Ps 45:2); united with this,
a good understanding—(Compare Margin), a discrimination, which secures success.
in the sight … man—such as God and man approve.
Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
5. Trust … heart—This is the center and marrow of true wisdom (Pr 22:19; 28:25). The positive duty has its corresponding negation in the admonition against self-confidence.
In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
6. ways—(Ps 1:1).
acknowledge—by seeking His wise aid (Pr 16:3; Ps 37:5; Jer 9:23, 24).
direct—literally, "make plain" (compare Heb 12:13).
Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.
7. (Compare Pr 27:2; Ro 12:16).
fear … evil—reverentially regarding His law.
It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.
8. It—This conduct.
to thy navel—for all the organs of nourishment.
bones—frame of body. True piety promotes bodily health.
Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase:
9, 10. (Compare Pr 11:25; Ex 23:19; De 18:4; Isa 32:8; 2Co 9:13).
So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.
10. presses—or wine fats (Joe 2:24; 3:13).
My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction:
11, 12. The true intent of afflictions considered; they do not contradict the assertion of the blessed state of the pious (Job 5:17; Heb 12:5, 6).
For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.
12. he delighteth—or receiveth as denoting reconciliation regarding the offense which produced chastisement.
Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding.
13. findeth—literally, "reaches," or "obtains by seeking."
getteth—literally, "draws out," as metals by digging.
For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold.
14, 15. The figure of Pr 3:13 carried out.
it—that is, wisdom.
merchandise of silver—acquisition by trading.
fine gold—dug gold, solid as a nugget.
She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her.
15. rubies—gems, or pearls.
Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honour.
16, 17. Wisdom personified as bringing the best blessings (compare Mt 6:33; 1Ti 4:8).
Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.
17. Her ways—such as she directs us to take.
She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her.
18. Wisdom allegorized as
a tree of life—(Ge 2:9; 3:22) whose fruit preserves life, gives all that makes living a blessing.
The LORD by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath he established the heavens.
19, 20. The place of wisdom in the economy of creation and providence commends it to men, who, in proportion to their finite powers, may possess this invaluable attribute, and are thus encouraged by the divine example of its use to seek its possession.
By his knowledge the depths are broken up, and the clouds drop down the dew.
My son, let not them depart from thine eyes: keep sound wisdom and discretion:
21. sound wisdom—(compare Pr 2:7).
let … eyes—that is, these words of instruction.
So shall they be life unto thy soul, and grace to thy neck.
22-24. assign reasons in their value for happiness and ornament, guidance and support in dangers, both when waking and sleeping.
Then shalt thou walk in thy way safely, and thy foot shall not stumble.
When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet.
Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it cometh.
25. Be not—or, "You shall not be."
sudden fear—what causes it (Pr 1:27), any unlooked-for evil (Ps 46:3; 91:12; 1Pe 3:14).
For the LORD shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken.
26. The reason; such as are objects of God's favor.
be thy confidence—literally, "in thy confidence," in the source of thy strength (compare Na 3:9, for the same construction, Hebrew).
Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it.
27, 28. Promptly fulfil all obligations both of justice and charity (compare Jas 2:15, 16).
Say not unto thy neighbour, Go, and come again, and to morrow I will give; when thou hast it by thee.
Devise not evil against thy neighbour, seeing he dwelleth securely by thee.
29, 30. Do not abuse confidence and avoid litigation.
Strive not with a man without cause, if he have done thee no harm.
Envy thou not the oppressor, and choose none of his ways.
31. oppressor—or man of mischief. The destiny of successful evildoers warns against desiring their lot (Ps 37:1, 2, 35, 36).
For the froward is abomination to the LORD: but his secret is with the righteous.
32-35. Reasons for the warning.
secret … righteous—in their communion (Am 3:7).
The curse of the LORD is in the house of the wicked: but he blesseth the habitation of the just.
33. curse … wicked—It abides with them, and will be manifested.
Surely he scorneth the scorners: but he giveth grace unto the lowly.
34. The retribution of sinners, as in Ps 18:26.
The wise shall inherit glory: but shame shall be the promotion of fools.
35. inherit—as a portion.
shame—or disgrace, as opposed to honor.
promotion—(Compare Margin); as honor for well-doing makes men conspicuous, so fools are signalized by disgrace.