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THE HEBREW WISDOM
‘The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel.’
The Book of the Proverbs of Solomon is a collection, under the guidance of inspiration, of the short sayings of wise and pious men which up to that time had been more or less current, with many of course of his own intermixed.
I. We see the estimate they formed of human nature, its weakness and corruption.—How full the Book of Proverbs is of the folly of mankind!
II. Again, what a vast collection of sayings we have in this book relating to human life, to human duty: the fear of God, charity to man, modesty, humility, forbearance, industry, self-denial!—The Proverbs show Divine justice already partially commenced and exhibited in this life; and the Gospel carries out this view, and completes it in the world of futurity.
‘The Book of Proverbs is a study for a lifetime. In it the poetical form of the proverb is conspicuous. That is, comparison and similitude are used very largely in the didactic purpose of the author or compiler—for we cannot refer all the proverbs of this book to Solomon, as Agur and Lemuel are distinctly mentioned as authors of some of them, and the “men of Hezekiah” may have mingled others with those of Solomon, making only selections from Solomon’s “three thousand.” In this book every department of life is addressed, and all the moral virtues are set forth, while the vices of men are treated with severity. So also the infelicities of life are depicted, and the wisdom which comes from the fear of the Lord is constantly contrasted with the folly to which men are prone, and which leads to ruin. The pictures given in these brief sayings would abide in the mind when mere didactic disquisitions would be forgotten. And here is one of the most valuable features of the proverb. They can be readily stored in the memory, and prove to be a supply of practical wisdom, usable at any emergency. They are not only condensed wisdom, but are therefore portable wisdom, standing one in good part when he has no time to look up authorities or to reason out a subject. Moreover, they are acceptable to the common mind.’
‘YIELD NOT TO TEMPTATION’
‘My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not.’
There are two chief sources of temptation which Solomon indicates in these chapters, and which, when we have stripped off the figure or the accidental circumstances of age and time, are not less applicable to our days than to his.
I. The first is sensuality, figured and summed up in that repeated picture of ‘the strange woman which flattereth with her tongue, which forsaketh the guide of her youth, and forgetteth the covenant of her God.’
II. The other is that of evil companionship.—You may see in chapter 2 the two distinguished very clearly and put as the two things from which wisdom, discretion, understanding, should preserve you.
‘The danger is, “If sinners entice thee.” There are enticers and enticements, the fowler and his snare. (1) The enticers of youth may be divided into two great classes: the internal and the external. The sinners that entice from within are the man’s own thoughts and desires; the sinners that entice from without are fellow-men who, having gone astray themselves are busy leading others after them. (2) Among the enticements we may name: ( a) the theatre; ( b) the customs of society encouraging the use of intoxicating drinks.
The defence prescribed is, “Consent thou not.” It is a blunt, peremptory command. Your method of defence must be different from the adversary’s mode of attack. His strength lies in making gradual approaches, yours in a resistance sudden, resolute, total.’
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Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Proverbs 1". The Church Pulpit Commentary. https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26