|stempublishing.com : J. N. Darby : Synopsis : Proverbs : Chapters 1 to 9||Next chapter|
Chapters 1 to 9
Chapters 10 to 31
The distinct parts of the book
There are two very distinct parts in this book. The first nine chapters, which give the great general principles; and the proverbs, properly so called, or moral aphorisms or sentences, which indicate the path in which the wise man should walk. At the end of the book is a collection of such made by Hezekiah.
The fear of the Lord: the madness of self-will
Let us examine the first part. The grand principle is laid down at the outset — the fear of the Lord on the one side, and on the other the madness of self-will, which despises the wisdom and instruction that restrain it. For, besides the knowledge of good and evil in respect of which the fear of the Lord will operate, there is that exercise of authority in God's created order which is a check on will (the origin of all disorder), as that confided to parents and the like. And these are carefully insisted on, in contrast with independence, as the basis of happiness and moral order in the world. It is not simply God's authority giving precepts, nor even His statements of the consequence of actions, but the order He has set up in the relationships He has established amongst men, especially of parents, subjection to them is really owning God in His order. It is the first commandment with promise.
Man's will manifested in violence and corruption
There are two forms in which sin, or the activity of man's will, manifests itself — violence and corruption. This was seen at the time of the deluge. The earth was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. Satan is a liar and murderer. In man, corrupt lusts are even a more abundant source of evil.
In Proverbs 1 violence is pointed out as the infringement of those obligations which the will of God has laid upon us. But wisdom cries aloud that her voice may be heard, proclaiming the judgment of those who despise her ways.
The way of deliverance
Proverbs 2 gives us the result of subjection of heart to the words of wisdom, and an earnest search after it — the knowledge of the fear of Jehovah, and the knowledge of God Himself. He who applies himself to this shall be kept: he shall not only have no part with the wicked man, but he shall be delivered from the deceitful woman — from corruption. The judgment of the earth and the prosperity of the righteous are declared.
The clue to guidance through a world of wickedness
The latter principle being established, Proverbs 3 shews that it is not human sagacity or the prudence of man which imparts the wisdom here spoken of. Neither is it the ardent desire after prosperity and happiness, manifesting itself in crooked ways; but the fear of Jehovah and subjection to His word supply the one clue to guide us safely through a world of wickedness which He governs.
The necessity of pursuing wisdom: warning
Proverbs 4 insists on the necessity of pursuing wisdom at whatever cost; it is a path of sure reward. It warns against all association that would lead the contrary way and into ruin, adding that the heart, the lips, and the feet are to be watched.
Corruption of heart seen by Jehovah
Proverbs 5 returns in detail to the corruption of heart that leads a man to forsake the wife of his youth for another. This path demoralises the whole man. But the eyes of Jehovah are upon the ways of man.
The principles of life: hearkening to wisdom's words
In Proverbs 6 wisdom will not be surety for another. It is neither slothful, nor violent, nor deceitful. The strange woman should be avoided as fire: there is no reparation for adultery. In Proverbs 7 the house of the strange woman is the path to the grave. To curb oneself, to be firm in resisting allurements, looking to Jehovah and hearkening to the words of the wise — such are the principles of life given in these chapters.
The everlasting wisdom of God, active, revealed and unfolded
Proverbs 8. The wisdom of God is active. It cries aloud; it
invites men. Three principles distinguish it — discretion, or the right consideration of circumstances, instead of following
self-will; hatred of evil, which evidences the fear of Jehovah; and
detestation of arrogance and hypocrisy in man. It is by wisdom that
kings and princes rule; strength, counsel, and sound wisdom, and
durable riches, are found in it. Moreover Jehovah Himself has acted
according to His own perfect discernment of the right relations of
all things to each other; that is to say, He created them according
to the perfection of His own thoughts. But this leads us farther;
for Christ is the wisdom of God. He is the centre of all relations,
according to the perfections of God; and is in Himself the object
of God's eternal delight. The everlasting wisdom of God is revealed
and unfolded in Him. But this is not the only link. If Christ was
the object of God the Father's delight, as the centre and fulness
of all wisdom, men have been the delight of Christ, and the
habitable parts of Jehovah's earth. It is in connection with men
that Christ is seen, when considered as uniting and developing in
Himself every feature of the wisdom and the counsels of God. The
life that was in Him was the light of men. Christ is then the
object of God the Father's delight. Christ ever found His joy in
God the Father, and His delight with the sons of men,* and in
the earth inhabited by men. Here then must this wisdom be
displayed. Here must the perfection of God's ways be manifested.
Here must divine wisdom be a guide to the conduct of a being
subject to its direction. Now it is in Christ, the wisdom of God,
that this is found. Whoso hearkens to Him finds life. Observe here
that, all-important as this revelation is of the display of God's
wisdom in connection with men, we do not find man's new place in
Christ, nor the assembly here. She is called away from this present
evil age to belong to Jesus in heaven. Christ cannot actually yet
rejoice in the sons of men, if we take their state into
account. When He takes possession of the earth, this will be fully
accomplished — this will be the millennium. Meantime He calls on
men to hear His voice. The principle of a path to be followed by
hearkening to the words of wisdom is one of the greatest importance
for this world, and of the most extensive bearing. There is the
path of God, in which He is known. There is but one. If we do not
walk in it, we shall suffer the consequences, even if really loving
But in fact (Proverbs 9) wisdom has done more than this; it has formed a system, established a house of its own, upheld by the perfection of well-regulated and co-ordinate solidity. It is furnished with meat and wine; the table is spread; and, in the most public manner, wisdom invites the simple to come and partake, while pointing out to them the right way in which life is found. There is another woman; but before speaking of her, the Spirit teaches that instruction is wasted on the scorner; he will but hate his reprover. Wisdom is wise even in relation to its enemies. There is progress for the wise and the upright, but the beginning of it is the fear of Jehovah. This is its fundamental principle.
Warning against the folly of sin
But scoffing is not the only character of evil. There is the foolish woman. This is not the activity of love which seeks the good of those who are ignorant of good. She is clamorous, sitting in the high places, at the door of her house, seeking to turn aside those who go right on their ways, and alluring those that have no understanding into the paths of deceit and sin; and they know not that her guests are the victims of death. Such are the general instructions which God's warning wisdom gives us.
|Previous chapter||Index||Next chapter|