Be not wise in your own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Fear the Lord, and depart from evil.—The same result is reached by Job also (Proverbs 28:28) in his inquiry after wisdom.Proverbs 3:7-8. Be not wise in thine own eyes — Be not puffed up with a vain conceit of thine own wisdom, as if that were sufficient for the conduct of all thine affairs, without direction and assistance from God, or without the advice of others. Fear the Lord, &c. — This he adds, because reverence for, and a dread of, the Divine Majesty, will make a man, when he compares himself with God, little and vile in his own eyes. Reverence God’s wisdom, and despise thine own. It shall be health to thy navel — To thy body, which is signified by one important part of it; and marrow to thy bones — Which is the nourishment and strength of the bones, and a great preserver and prolonger of life, as the decay of it is a chief cause of the weakness, dryness, and decay of the body. The sense of the verse is, This fear of God, or true religion, is not only necessary to the salvation of the soul, but is also calculated to promote the health of the body. For, as it prevents those diseases which are often occasioned by sinful lusts and passion, so it teaches that prudence, temperance, and sobriety, that calmness and composure of mind, that good government of the appetites and passions, which must, in the nature of things, tend to produce a good habit of body; and at the same time it gives us an interest in God’s promises, and places us under the care of his special providence.
fear … evil—reverentially regarding His law.Be not wise in thine own eyes; be not puffed up with vain conceit of thine own wisdom, as if that were sufficient for the conduct of all thine affairs without direction or assistance from God, or without the advice of others.
Fear the Lord: this he adds, because the reverence and dread of the Divine Majesty will make a man, when he compareth himself with God, little and vile in his own eyes. Reverence God’s wisdom, and thou wilt despise thine own. Isaiah 5:21, Romans 12:16;
fear the Lord; which is true wisdom; and, where this is not, there is none, let men be ever so conceited; and where this is there is humility; these two go together, and make a man wise, rich, and honourable, Proverbs 22:4. The fear of the Lord is opposed to pride, high-mindedness, and vain conceit, Romans 11:20; this includes reverence of God, faith in him, dependence on him, acknowledgment of him, seeking to him for direction, and carefulness not to offend him;
and depart from evil; from the evil of self-confidence and self-conceit, and from all other evil; the fear of God influences men to avoid sin, and abstain from all appearance of it; by means and through the exercise of it men forsake it, and keep at a distance from it, Proverbs 16:6. Nehemiah could not do as others did, because of the fear of the Lord; and Job was a man that feared God, and therefore he avoided that which was evil, Nehemiah 5:15.Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)7. The first clause of this verse in the rendering of the LXX., φρόνιμος παρὰ σεαυτῷ, is quoted by St Paul, Romans 12:16.Verse 7. - Be not wise in thine own eyes. This admonition carries on the thought from the preceding verses (5, 6), approaching it from a different direction. It is a protest against self-sufficiency, self-conceit, and self-reliance. It says, in effect, "Trust in the Lord, do not trust in yourself." Wisdom, as Michaelis remarks, is to trust in God; to trust in yourself and in your own wisdom is unwisdom. God denounces this spirit: "Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!" (Isaiah 5:21), because such a spirit leads to the prohibited self-dependence, and is inconsistent with "the tear of the Lord." The precept of the text is reiterated by St. Paul, especially in Romans 12:16, "Be not wise in your own conceits" (cf. 1 Corinthians 8:8; Galatians 6:3). It commends humility. The diligent search for Wisdom is commanded. The great hindrance to all true wisdom is the thought that we have already attained it (Plumptre). In thine own eyes; i.e. in thine own estimation; arbitrio tuo (Trem. et Jun.). Fear the Lord, and depart from evil. The connection of this with the first part of the verse becomes clear upon reflection. "The fear of the Lord" is true wisdom (Job 28:28; Proverbs 1:7). Fear the Lord, therefore, because it is the best corrective of one's own wisdom, which engenders arrogance, pride, presumption of mind, which, moreover, is deceptive and apt to lead to sin. The fear of the Lord has this other advantage - that it leads to the departure from evil (Proverbs 16:6) It is the mark of the wise man that he fears the Lord, and departs from evil (Proverbs 14:16). These precepts form the two elements of practical piety (Delitzsch), an eminent example of which as Job (Job 1:1). Proverbs 2:12, Proverbs 2:16, unfolding that which wisdom accomplishes as a preserver and guide:
20 So that thou walkest in the good way,
And keepest the right paths.
21 For the upright shall inhabit the land,
And the innocent shall remain in it.
22 But the godless are cut off out the land,
And the faithless are rooted out of it.
Wisdom - thus the connection - will keep thee, so that thou shalt not fall under the seductions of man or of woman; keep, in order that thou... למען (from מען equals מענה, tendency, purpose) refers to the intention and object of the protecting wisdom. To the two negative designations of design there follows, as the third and last, a positive one. טובים (contrast to רעים, Proverbs 14:19) is here used in a general ethical sense: the good (Guten, not Gtigen, the kind). שׁמר, with the object of the way, may in another connection also mean to keep oneself from, cavere ab (Psalm 17:4); here it means: carefully to keep in it. The promise of Proverbs 2:21 is the same as in the Mashal Psalm 37:9, Psalm 37:11, Psalm 37:22; cf. Proverbs 10:30. ארץ is Canaan, or the land which God promised to the patriarchs, and in which He planted Israel, whom He had brought out of Egypt; not the earth, as Matthew 5:5, according to the extended, unlimited N.T. circle of vision. יוּתרוּ (Milel) is erroneously explained by Schultens: funiculis bene firmis irroborabunt in terra. The verb יתר, Arab. watar, signifies to yoke (whence יתר, a cord, rope), then intrans. to be stretched out in length, to be hanging over (vid., Fleischer on Job 30:11); whence יתר, residue, Zephaniah 2:9, and after which the lxx here renders ὑπολειφθήσονται, and Jerome permanebunt. In 22b the old translators render יסּחוּ as the fut. of the pass. נסּח, Deuteronomy 28:63; but in this case it would be ינּסחוּ. The form יסּחוּ, pointed יסּחוּ, might be the Niph. of סחח, but סחח can neither be taken as one with נסח, of the same meaning, nor with Hitzig is it to be vocalized יסּחוּ (Hoph. of נסח); nor, with Bttcher (1100, p. 453), is יסּחוּ to be regarded as a veritable fut. Niph. יסּחוּ is, as at Proverbs 15:25; Psalm 52:7, active: evellant; and this, with the subj. remaining indefinite (for which J. H. Michaelis refers to Hosea 12:9), is equivalent to evellentur. This indefinite "they" or "one" ("man"), Fleischer remarks, can even be used of God, as here and Job 7:3 - a thing which is common in Persian, where e.g., the expression rendered hominem ex pulvere fecerunt is used instead of the fuller form, which would be rendered homo a Deo ex pulvere factus est. בּוגדים bears (as בּגד proves) the primary meaning of concealed, i.e., malicious (treacherous and rapacious, Isaiah 33:1), and then faithless men.
(Note: Similar is the relation in Arab. of labbasa to libâs (לבוּשׁ); it means to make a thing unknown by covering it; whence telbı̂s, deceit, mulebbis, a falsifier.)
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