The Proverbs

J. N. Darby.

<43005E> 290

(Notes and Comments Vol. 3.)

It gives a very distinct character to this Book, and to Ecclesiastes, that in this Book it is always "Jehovah"; once only Elohim is used; Prov. 25:2. In Prov. 2:17, Elohey-ha, "her God." In Ecclesiastes, "Jehovah" is never used; always Elohim. And we may remark, where it is not "a man," Ha-Adam (the man) is constantly used. This gives a very definite character to these Books.

Proverbs 1

- 18. Violence and deceit.

- 25, 30. Haughty independence of God, and rejection of His word.

Proverbs 2

Wisdom preserves from crooked ways, and corruption.

- 8. That is, God watches over those paths, so as to shelter and guide those who walk there.

Proverbs 3

Wisdom leads in a positively good and blessed way. In all things it is the spirit of subjection, contrasted with self-will.

Proverbs 4

Diligence in attention to the Word, avoiding evil, self-judgment, and single-eyed purpose of heart.

- 19. Compare John 11:9, and 1 John 2:10, 11. Obedience and love, i.e., God's will and God's nature; compare John 14:15.

Proverbs 5

Purity of ways, and pure, divinely ordained affections.

- 23. This passage, which has puzzled commentators, is made very plain by the Hebrew "v" ("and"). Chapter 26:11, where we have the same form of Hebrew words and "with." "He shall go on in a multiplied course of folly."

291 Proverbs 6

Rashness - sluggishness - insolence of heart. Then subjection of spirit, learning divine wisdom as subject, guarding from the allurements of corrupt lusts, the ways of which are portrayed in the following chapter. Here more, breach of the divine bond of marriage - there, dissoluteness itself.

- 3. The word rah-hav (make sure) is difficult, and, as a verb, rare. The sense would be "insist earnestly" with him, press upon him. We have it as dealing proudly with the ancient, Isaiah 3:5; the eyes overcoming, Canticles 6:5; Psalm 138:3, "Thou strengthenedst me . . . in my soul." The root is "standing up haughtily" - pride. It would seem to require the Hiphil form for the English sense. The moral sense is clear, "to go and get it settled" at once, even if the process be humbling. The connection of the humbling oneself is this: you have undertaken for the man, and now you must go and press upon him to clear you, and get you out of the scrape. This is very humbling, but you are in his hand. Ba-tha b'caph re-eka (thou art fallen into the hand of thy neighbour). The thought is "delivering oneself." I suppose those that have been in the case, know that "going surety" means generally "paying."

Proverbs 8

Note here we have the counsels of God in Christ as Wisdom, having the earth as their scope, rejoicing in the habitable parts of God's earth, and His delight was with the sons of men. This does not touch the Church at all - it is above and outside all this. This will be accomplished in government and blessing in the millennium, when the earth shall be blessed, see Psalms 96-99; nor is this election. The Jews, though earthly, are not properly the object of this chapter - they come in, as Psalm 67, as a means, an occasion because of God's electing love. It is blessing according to God's delight and blessing in Christ - His nature and the outgoing of His heart - His natural blessing. His election is a special thing besides, as an instrument and object of special love, and hence is what He reveals it to be - the Church far up out of sight, so to speak, of all this.

- 30, 31. This is the chain of heavenly joy, down, through Christ, to the creature; see the universe in some sort, in Hosea 2, for Jezreel is at the end. But also Psalm 67 shows it the occasion, because the special object of God in blessing. Matthew never goes out of this, unless in the special exceptional case of chapters 16 and 17. But there, when he speaks of the administration of it, it is the keys of the kingdom of heaven (not of the Church) given to Peter, as was the case as Apostle of the circumcision; see the case of Cornelius. All Paul's ministry, which was directly from heaven, in the world and in the Church, finds no place in this instruction.

292 In this remarkable chapter we have indeed the link in grace between God and Christ, as Wisdom, and men as the object of His delight when He was God the Father's, and this reaches out, in principle, to the state of the tabernacle of God with men as a result. But it is not the special union of the Church, when God could not have His delight in man, when man had rejected Christ the Wisdom of God. Wretched creatures that we are! And the link was to all appearance, and really morally on man's side, completely broken. Doubtless it shall have its fruit and accomplishment, on God's part, in the state referred to in Revelation 21, but now we have an intimity and identity with the Second Man, not displayed amongst men but hid in God. We are mysteriously one with Him, as so hid. This is a peculiar and special place.

Nothing is larger or more strong in thought and delight as to men than Proverbs 8; but the Church is not found there. It is the outgoing of delight in a class, so that wisdom was displayed and delight found in them - not an union by creation and power, introducing into His own blessing as hidden in God and rejected of men, the special delight of God where man had no intercourse with it, and such is the Church and its wondrous place - it is not the Body of Him who is Wisdom.

The link between such a theme of delights to Wisdom, and the guidance through all the details of this world, this miserable world, is very touching. On the other hand, how corruption of the affections is insisted on, as destroying fatally all moral discernment! That and violence are always the two characters of evil.

- 13. Note the form, which divine wisdom takes in us, is "the fear of the Lord." So "the truth, as it is in Jesus." Only we have "the mind of Christ," to guide us, and He has sanctified Himself that we may be "sanctified through the truth." It is full and perfect in our case; not simply a law, when expressed in actual detail. So here, the fruit is blessing in this world. So it is this creation, though men are the great object of it. So "the life was the light of men," which is yet more. It was addressed to them - they to it.

293 - 34. Though hearing, yet there is the desire - attentive waiting on - finding.

Proverbs 9

- 4 and 16. These are the solicitations of evil and of good. But there is a difference in the activity of unfeigned love, which invites us not to selfish enjoyment. Wisdom prepares, and sends out to invite to blessing. The "clamorous woman" sits "on a throne, at the door of her house," and makes the comer the slave of her own lusts.

Proverbs 18

- 1. Perhaps this is, "A man having separated himself, seeks according to his desire, and vexes himself with every (kind of) wisdom."

Proverbs 21

- 4. "The lamp of the wicked is sin."