The way of life is above to the wise, that he may depart from hell beneath.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)The way of life is above to the wise.—These words sound like a faint echo of such passages as Philippians 3:20; Colossians 3:1-2, though the writer’s meaning may only have been that the wise man who fears the Lord (Proverbs 1:7) is rewarded with long life on earth (Proverbs 3:16), and escapes death and hell (Proverbs 2:18-19). Comp. Isaiah 38:18-19.Proverbs 15:24. The way of life is above to the wise — The way which a wise man takes to preserve and obtain spiritual and eternal life, is to place his heart, treasure, and conversation in things above; and to manage all his affairs in this world with due respect and subserviency to the happiness of another world; that he may depart from hell beneath — Or, from the lowest hell; not from the grave, as this word is sometimes used, for no wisdom can preserve from that, but from hell, properly so called, as this word elsewhere signifies, as has been before observed.The way of life is above to the wise; the way or course which a wise man taketh to preserve and obtain life, is to place his heart, and treasure, and conversation in things above, and to manage all his affairs in this world with due respect and subserviency to the happiness of a better life.
From hell beneath; or, from the lowermost hell; not from the grave, as this word is elsewhere used, for no wisdom can prevent that; but from hell properly so called, as this word is elsewhere used, as hath been formerly observed. Proverbs 10:17; this is said to be "above", or it tends "to what is above"; it leads to heaven and happiness above; the life itself it is the way of or to is above, it is hid with Christ in God; eternal life, glory, and happiness, is above; it is a house eternal in the heavens, an inheritance reserved there, and will be there enjoyed by the saints: the way to it is above; Christ is the way, and he is in heaven, at the Father's right hand, through whom only men can come at this life; wherefore those who are in the way of it have their thoughts, their hearts, their affections and conversations, above, Matthew 6:21. Faith, which deals with Christ the way, and by which men walk in him, is signified by soaring aloft, mounting up with wings as eagles, by entering within the vail, and dwelling on high, and by looking upwards, and at things unseen, and being the evidence of them. The Vulgate Latin version renders it, "the way of life is above the learned man", or wise man; the man that has no other than natural learning and wisdom, this way of life and salvation by Christ lies out of his knowledge; it is what the most sagacious and penetrating man could never discover; it is hid from the wise and prudent, and revealed to babes; or this is only known to such who are truly wise unto salvation; it is plain to them, and they highly esteem it, and choose to walk in it; it is an "ascent to him that understands", as the Syriac version renders it; it is a going up hill, it is an ascending upwards and heavenwards; such a man is continually looking upwards unto Christ, the author and finisher of his faith; pressing towards him, the mark for the prize; keeping his eye, not on things on earth, things temporal, which are seen here below, but on things above, things unseen, which are eternal in the heavens;
that he may depart from hell beneath; not from the grave, as "sheol" sometimes signifies: for wise men die as well as fools, and come to the grave, which is the house appointed for all living; even those who are in the way of life that is above do not escape death and the grave: but such are secured from everlasting ruin and destruction, from being destroyed soul and body in hell; they steer quite a different course and road from that; every step they take upwards carries them so far off from hell; which is the contrary way; the broad road of sin is the lower way, or what leads to hell and destruction beneath; the narrow way of faith in Christ is the upper way, and that leads to eternal life above.The way of life is above to the wise, that he may depart from hell beneath.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)24. above] Rather, upward. Upward or downward the path of man must tend.Verse 24. - The way of life is above to the wise; Revised Version, to the wise the way of life goeth upward. The writer means primarily that the wise and good lead such a life as to preserve them from death (Proverbs 14:32). The path may be steep and painful, but at any rate it has this compensation - it leads away from destruction. It is obvious to read into the passage higher teaching. The good man's path leads heavenward, to a high life here, to happiness hereafter; his conversation is in heaven (Philippians 3:20), his affections are set on things above (Colossians 3:2). Such an upward life tends to material and spiritual health, as it is added, that he may depart from hell (SheoI) beneath. Primarily, a long and happy life is promised to the man who fears the Lord, as in Proverbs 3:16; secondarily, such a one avoids that downward course which ends in the darkness of hell. Vulgate, "The path of life is above the instructed man, to make him avoid the nethermost (novissimo) hell;" Septuagint, "The thoughts of the prudent man are the ways of life, that turning from Hades he may be safe."
18 A passionate man stirreth up strife,
And one who is slow to anger allayeth contention.
Proverbs 28:25 and Proverbs 29:22 are variations of the first line of this proverb. The Pih. גּרה occurs only these three times in the phrase גּרה מדון, R. גר, to grind, thus to strike, to irritate, cogn. to (but of a different root from) the verb עורר, to excite, Proverbs 10:12, and חרחר, to set on fire, Proverbs 26:21, cf. שׁלּח, Proverbs 6:14. Regarding חמה, vid., Proverbs 15:1; we call such a man a "hot-head;" but the biblical conception nowhere (except in the Book of Daniel) places the head in connection with spiritual-psychical events (Psychologie, p. 254). Regarding ארך אפּים, vid., Proverbs 14:29; the lxx (which contains a translation of this proverb, and after it of a variation) translates μακρόθυμος δὲ καὶ τὴν μέλλουσαν καταπρᾳύνει, i.e., (as the Syr. render it) he suppresses the strife in its origin, so that it does not break out. But both are true: that he who is slow to anger, who does not thus easily permit himself to become angry, allayeth the strife which one enters into with him, or into which he is drawn, and that he prevents the strife, for he places over against provoking, injurious conduct, patient gentleness (מרפּא, Ecclesiastes 10:4).
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