Proverbs 3:16
Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honour.
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Proverbs 3:16-18. Length of days is in her right hand — Wisdom is here represented as a great and generous princess, distributing gifts to her subjects. She holds forth in her right hand the great blessing of health and length of days unto all those who will walk in the way to which she points; and it was but just to place this in her right hand, that is, to give it the precedence, because it was the chief promise of the law, and, indeed, unless when affliction is necessary for our chastisement, trial, or purification, the most desirable of all earthly blessings. After this follow wealth and reputation, which he places in her left hand, as inferior blessings, but which proceed also from her gift. Spiritually considered, these blessings refer to eternity, and the glories of heaven. Her ways are ways of pleasantness — Are exceeding delightful, namely, to those who know them and walk in them; whose judgment is certainly to be preferred before the contrary opinion of ungodly men, who are grossly ignorant of them, and professed enemies to them. Observe, reader, the enjoyments and entertainments of sense are not to be compared to the pleasures which gracious souls have in communion with God and doing good. And all her paths are peace — Produce a blessed tranquillity in a man’s mind and conscience, with confidence and cheerfulness in all conditions, and the joy which arises from a full persuasion that all things shall work for good here, and from a lively hope of eternal rest with God hereafter. There is not only peace in the end, but peace in the way; and not only in the way of religion in general, but in all the particular paths of that way; in all the several acts, instances, and duties of it: one does not imbitter what another sweetens, as it is with the allays of this world; but they are all peace; not only sweet, but safe, and full of quietness, assurance, and consolation, Isaiah 32:17. She is a tree of life — She is a certain pledge and means of everlasting life and happiness; to them that lay hold upon her — That eagerly pursue after her, and, when they overtake her, gladly apprehend and embrace her, as the Hebrew word here used signifies. He alludes to the tree of life in paradise, mentioned Genesis 2:9; Genesis 3:22, all right to eat of which was lost by the fall, and he here intimates that the wisdom of which he speaks is the only thing that can restore the life to us then lost. Happy is every one that retaineth her — That holds her fast, and is constantly resolved not to forsake her.

3:13-20 No precious jewels or earthly treasures are worthy to be compared with true wisdom, whether the concerns of time or eternity be considered. We must make wisdom our business; we must venture all in it, and be willing to part with all for it. This Wisdom is the Lord Jesus Christ and his salvation, sought and obtained by faith and prayer. Were it not for unbelief, remaining sinfulness, and carelessness, we should find all our ways pleasantness, and our paths peace, for his are so; but we too often step aside from them, to our own hurt and grief. Christ is that Wisdom, by whom the worlds were made, and still are in being; happy are those to whom he is made of God wisdom. He has wherewithal to make good all his promises.Rubies - The פנינים pânı̂ynı̂ym were among the costly articles of traffic, and red or rose-colored Lamentations 4:7. The last fact has led some to identify them with coral, or (as in the King James Version) with "rubies." Most commentators, however, have identified them with pearls, which may connect this passage with Matthew 7:6; Matthew 13:45. The words of the promise here are almost the echo of 1 Kings 3:11-13. 16, 17. Wisdom personified as bringing the best blessings (compare Mt 6:33; 1Ti 4:8). Wisdom is here represented as a great and generous princess distributing gifts to her subjects. She giveth them long life, &c., unless when she foresees that these things would prove snares and mischiefs to them, as they very frequently do to others.

Length of days is in her right hand,.... Wisdom is here represented as a queen, as indeed she is above all kings and queens; see Proverbs 8:15; holding in one hand, instead of a sceptre, "length of days"; and in the other, instead of a globe, riches and honour: the allusion is thought by some on this clause to be to an ancient custom of numbering things, and the ages of men, by the hand and fingers, beginning with the left hand, and when they came to a hundred went to the right (z); so that in that might be truly said to be "length of days", few arriving to that number: or rather the reference is to what Solomon received of the Lord, who, asking wisdom, had not that only, but a long life, and riches and honour; see 1 Kings 3:11. Some think that only temporal blessings are here meant, and, because health and long life are preferable to wealth and honour, the former are said to be in the right hand, and the latter in the left; but seeing in the preceding verses the advantages of wisdom are superior to silver, gold, and precious stones, it can hardly be thought that she should be represented as only having temporal blessings in her hands to bestow on her followers. Others are of opinion that spiritual and eternal blessings are the right hand ones, being the principal; and temporal blessings are the left hand ones, as being the less valuable, Matthew 6:33; but to me they seem all of one sort, all spiritual and eternal ones, even those of the left hand, by comparing this passage with Proverbs 8:18. By "length of days" is meant "length of days for ever and ever", Psalm 21:4; or eternal life, a life of vision or enjoyment of God; a life of perfect knowledge, holiness, and pleasure; being free from all the imperfections, difficulties, and distresses of the present one, and which will last for ever; this is in the hand of Christ, not the promise and grant of it only, but the thing itself, in consequence of his asking it of his Father: and which he has in a covenant way, and so has a right and power to bestow it: and it being in his hands shows both the valuableness and the security and safety of it; and also that it is to be had from him, and is in his gift, and in no other; and is a pure gift of his grace; wherefore happy is the man that finds Wisdom, or Christ, since he finds and has eternal life in him;

and in her left hand riches and honour; by "riches" are meant not temporal riches, for these are not always to the wise, nor to the children of Wisdom, nor of Christ; and all that have these are not happy, nor are they durable: but spiritual riches are intended, the riches of grace; of pardoning, justifying, and sanctifying grace, and of all supplies of grace; and also the riches of glory, which are solid and satisfying, immense and unsearchable, lasting and durable: and by "honour" is designed not the honour which comes from men, or the honour of this world; for such who find Christ, and are possessed of him, and profess him, have but a small share of this, being, generally speaking, accounted the faith and offscouring of the world; but yet they are the children of God, and so have that name which is better than to be the sons and daughters of the greatest monarch; they are the spouse of Christ, and so his queen that stands at his right hand in gold of Ophir; they are made kings and priests unto God, and shall reign with Christ for evermore; this honour have all the saints, and is what is in the hands of Christ to give, and does give, to all that believe in him: or "glory" (a), as the word signifies; the glory of God, eternal glory; this as well as grace is Christ's gift, Psalm 84:11.

(z) Vid. Nebrissens. Quinquagena, c. 16. & Alex. ab Alex. Genial. Dier l. 1. c. 14. to which Juvenial refers, when speaking of Nestor, "----suos jam dextra computat annos", Satyr. 10. v. 249. (a) "gloria", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, Mercerus, Gejerus, Cocceius, Schultens.

Length of days is in her right hand; {h} and in her left hand riches and honour.

(h) Meaning, that he seeks wisdom, that is, suffers himself to be governed by the Word of God, will have all prosperity both corporal and spiritual.

16. The LXX. add at the end of this verse:

“Out of her mouth proceedeth righteousness;

Instruction and compassion she beareth upon her tongue.”

Verse 16. - The remaining three verses (16-18) state in what respects Wisdom is incomparable in value. Length of days; orek yamim, as in ver. 2. Wisdom is here represented as holding in her right hand that which is previously promised to obedience. Length of days is the blessing of blessings, the condition of all prosperity and enjoyment, and hence is placed in the right hand, the chief place, for among the Hebrews and other Oriental nations, as also among the Greeks the right hand was regarded as the position of highest honour (Psalm 110:1; 1 Kings 2:19; 1 Macc. 10:63; Matthew 22:24); cf. Psalm 16:11. in which the psalmist says of Jehovah, "In thy right hand there are pleasures forevermore." The two hands, the right and the left, signify the abundance of Wisdom's gifts. Riches and honour stand here for prosperity in general. The same expression occurs in Proverbs 8:8, where riches are explained as "durable riches." A spiritual interpretation can, of course, be given to this passage - length of days being understood of eternal life; riches, of heavenly riches; and honour, not "the honour that cometh of men," but honour conferred by God (1 Samuel 5:44; John 12:26); see Wardlaw, in loc. The thought of the verse is, of course, that Wisdom not only holds these blessings in her hands, but also confers them on those who seek her. The LXX. adds, "Out of her month proceedeth righteousness; justice and mercy she beareth upon her tongue;" possibly suggested by Proverbs 8:3. The words of the teacher remind us of the saying of Menander, Ὁ διαφέρων λογισμῷ πάντ ἔχει, "He who excels in prudence possesses all things." Proverbs 3:16That wisdom is of such incomparable value is here confirmed:

16 Length of days is in her right hand;

     In her left, riches and honour.

17 Her ways are pleasant ways,

     And all her paths are peace.

18 A tree of life is she to those that lay hold upon her,

     And he who always holdeth her fast is blessed.

As in the right hand of Jahve, according to Psalm 16:11, are pleasures for evermore, so Wisdom holds in her right hand "length of days," viz., of the days of life, thus life, the blessing of blessings; in her left, riches and honour (Proverbs 8:18), the two good things which, it is true, do not condition life, but, received from Wisdom, and thus wisely, elevate the happiness of life-in the right hand is the chief good, in the left the προσθήκη, Matthew 6:33. Didymus: Per sapientiae dextram divinarum rerum cognitio, ex qua immortalitatis vita oritur, significatur; per sinistram autem rerum humanarum notitia, ex qua gloria opumque abundantia nascitur. The lxx, as between 15a and 15b, so also here after Proverbs 3:16, interpolate two lines: "From her mouth proceedeth righteousness; justice and mercy she bears upon her tongue," - perhaps translated from the Hebr., but certainly added by a reader.

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