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Chapters 1 to 9
Chapters 10 to 31
The scope and purpose of the book
The Book of Proverbs gives us the application of that wisdom which created the heavens and the earth to the details of life in this world of confusion and evil. This thought brings out the immensity of grace unfolded here. God deigns to apply His wisdom to the circumstances of our practical life, and to shew us, with His own intelligence, the consequences of all the ways in which man may walk. For it is often in the way of knowledge, not of precept, that the statements made in the Book of Proverbs are presented. It is a great blessing to be provided for in the labyrinth of this world, in which a false step may lead to such bitter consequences, with a book that sets forth the path of prudence and of life; and that in connection with a wisdom which comes from God.
Heavenly wisdom exercised in, and applied to, this world
It is well to remember that the Book of Proverbs treats of this world, and of God's government, according to which man reaps that which he has sown. This is always true, whatever may be the sovereign grace that bestows on us things beyond and infinitely above this world.
Solomon was filled with wisdom from above, but
which had its exercise in this world, and its application to it;
that is to say, which applied to it God's way of viewing all
things, discerning the truth of all that, day by day, is developed
in it. We have here the ways of God, the divine path of human
conduct, the discernment of that which the heart of man produces,
and of its consequences; and also — for one who is subject to the word — the means of avoiding the path of his own will and of his own foolish heart (which is unable to understand the bearing of a
multitude of actions that it suggests to him), and this, not by
bringing him back to moral perfection — for that is not the
object of the Proverbs; but to that wisdom and prudence which
enable him to avoid many errors, and to maintain a serious walk
before God, and an habitual submission to His mind. The precepts
of this book establish practical happiness in this world by
maintaining earthly relationships in their integrity according to
God. Now it is not human prudence and sagacity that are
enjoined. The fear of the Lord,* which is the beginning of
wisdom, is the subject here.