Proverbs 1:28
Then shall they call on me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(28) Then shall they call upon me.—They did not call upon Him in an “acceptable time,” in “a day of salvation” (Isaiah 49:8), while He was “near” (Isaiah 55:6); so at last the master of the house has “risen up, and shut-to the door” (Luke 13:25), and will not listen to their cries.

They shall seek me early.—As God had done, “daily rising up early,” and sending the prophets unto them (Jeremiah 7:25).

1:20-33 Solomon, having showed how dangerous it is to hearken to the temptations of Satan, here declares how dangerous it is not to hearken to the calls of God. Christ himself is Wisdom, is Wisdoms. Three sorts of persons are here called by Him: 1. Simple ones. Sinners are fond of their simple notions of good and evil, their simple prejudices against the ways of God, and flatter themselves in their wickedness. 2. Scorners. Proud, jovial people, that make a jest of every thing. Scoffers at religion, that run down every thing sacred and serious. 3. Fools. Those are the worst of fools that hate to be taught, and have a rooted dislike to serious godliness. The precept is plain; Turn you at my reproof. We do not make a right use of reproofs, if we do not turn from evil to that which is good. The promises are very encouraging. Men cannot turn by any power of their own; but God answers, Behold, I will pour out my Spirit unto you. Special grace is needful to sincere conversion. But that grace shall never be denied to any who seek it. The love of Christ, and the promises mingled with his reproofs, surely should have the attention of every one. It may well be asked, how long men mean to proceed in such a perilous path, when the uncertainty of life and the consequences of dying without Christ are considered? Now sinners live at ease, and set sorrow at defiance; but their calamity will come. Now God is ready to hear their prayers; but then they shall cry in vain. Are we yet despisers of wisdom? Let us hearken diligently, and obey the Lord Jesus, that we may enjoy peace of conscience and confidence in God; be free from evil, in life, in death, and for ever.Desolation - Better, tempest. The rapid gathering of the clouds, the rushing of the mighty winds, are the fittest types of the suddenness with which in the end the judgment of God shall fall on those who look not for it. Compare Matthew 24:29 etc.; Luke 17:24. 28. Now no prayers or most diligent seeking will avail (Pr 8:17). Early; or, in the morning, as the word properly signifies, and is here rendered by others, as soon as their calamity comes; or rather, with great diligence and fervency, as this phrase commonly signifies.

They shall not find me, because they do not seek me by choice and with sincerity, but only by constraint, and that they may be freed from their miseries. Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer,.... As he called them, and they refused to answer to his call, Proverbs 1:24; so it was just in him to return no answer to them, when they called on him to deliver them from the Romans, and save them from ruin: for this was what they called out for, and what they expected, that the Messiah would come and deliver them; this was what they buoyed themselves up with, and made them so desperate to the last;

they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me; this is the very thing that Christ told the Jews, and much in the same words with these, John 7:34; for when he was gone, and they were in distress, then they sought after the Messiah, in the desert, and in the secret chambers, and in this and the other place, where they were told he was; but, alas! they could not find him: the true Messiah, whom they had rejected, was come and gone, and would return no more, until his second coming to judgment; or, however, till he came in his kingdom and power, to their ruin and destruction; of which coming of his the Scriptures often speak.

Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not {x} find me:

(x) Because they sought not with an affection to God, but for ease of their own grief.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
28. early] Rather, earnestly, or diligently, R.V. text. The rendering early is due to the doubtful connection (see Bp Perowne on Psalm 63:1) of the Heb. word with the dawn (mane consurgent, Vulg.). Here in fact, so far from being early, it is not only late, but too late. It may of course be urged in favour of retaining the received rendering (as R.V. marg.) that the seeking is early as regards the coming of the calamity (comp. Hosea 5:15); but the other sense includes this.Verse 28. - The phase which the address now enters upon continues to the thirty-first verse. The change in this verse from the second to the third person is striking. It implies that Wisdom thinks fools no longer worthy of being addressed personally - "Quasi stultos indignos censunt ulteriori alloquio" (Gejerus and Michaelis). The declaration is the embodiment of the laughter and scorn of ver. 26. The three verbs, "they shall call," "they shall seek," "they shall find," occur in uncommon and emphatic forms in the original. They are some out of the few instances where the future terminations are inserted fully before the pronominal suffix. I will not answer. The distress and anguish consequent upon their calamity and fear lead them to pray, but there will be no answer nor heed given to their cry. They are not heard, because they do not cry rightly nor in the time of grace (Lapide). See the striking parallel to the tenor of this passage in Luke 13:24-28. They shall seek me early; i.e. diligently. The verb שָׁחַר (shakhar) is the denominative from the substantive שַׁחַר (shakar), "the dawn, morning," and signifies to go out and seek something in the obscurity of the morning twilight (Delitzsch, Zockler), and hence indicates diligence and earnestness in the search. Gesenius gives the same derivation, but connects it with the dawn in the sense of the light breaking forth, and thus, as it were, seeking (see also Proverbs 2:27; 7:15; 8:17; Hosea 5:15). The poet has now reached that part of his introduction where he makes use of the very words uttered by Wisdom:

How long, ye simple, will ye love simplicity,

And scorners delight in scorning,

And fools hate knowledge?

Three classes of men are here addressed: the פּתים, the simple, who, being accessible to seduction, are only too susceptible of evil; the לצים, mockers, i.e., free-thinkers (from לוּץ, Arab. luṣ, flectere, torquere, properly qui verbis obliquis utitur); and the כּסילים, fools, i.e., the mentally imbecile and stupid (from כּסל, Arab. kasal, to be thick, coarse, indolent). The address to these passes immediately over into a declaration regarding them; cf. the same enallage, Proverbs 1:27. עד־מתי has the accent Mahpach, on account of the Pasek following; vid., Torath Emeth, p. 26. Intentionally, Wisdom addresses only the פתים, to whom she expects to find soonest access. Between the futt., which express the continuing love and hatred, stands the perf. חמדוּ, which expresses that in which the mockers found pleasure, that which was the object of their love. להם is the so-called dat. ethicus, which reflexively refers to that which is said to be the will and pleasure of the subject; as we say, "I am fond of this and that." The form תּאהבוּ, Abulwald, Parchon, and Kimchi regard as Piel; but תּאהבוּ instead of תּאהבוּ would be a recompensatio of the virtual doubling, defacing the character of the Piel. Schultens regards it as a defectively written Pail (in Syr.), but it is not proved that this conjugation exists in Hebr.; much rather תּאהבוּ is the only possible Kal form with תּאהבוּן without the pause, regularly formed from תּאהבוּ (vid., Ewald, 193, a). The division by the accent Mercha-Mahpach of the two words תאהבו פתי is equal in value to the connecting of them by Makkeph; vid., Baer's Psalterium, p. x. In codd., and also in correct texts, תאהבו is written with the accent Galgal on the first syllable, as the servant of the Mercha-Mahpach. The Gaja is incorrectly here and there placed under the תּ.

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