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Bible Commentaries

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

Proverbs 4

Verse 1


(g) Seventh Discourse:—Recollections of his Father’s Instructions (Proverbs 4:1 to Proverbs 5:6).

(1) A father.—That is, of me, your teacher.

Verse 3

(3) For I was . . . son . . .—It is not only his own advice that he has to offer; he can tell his disciples of the excellent discipline and teaching he received from his parents in his old home. It may be remarked that the notices of Solomon’s early years which occur in this and the following verses harmonise well with what we know of him from the historical books of the Bible.

Tender.—The epithet applied to Solomon by his father (1 Chronicles 29:1).

Only beloved.—The word yâchîd originally signified an “only” (son), as in Zechariah 12:10. Then it came to mean “beloved as an only son,” and that appears to be the sense of it in Genesis 22:2, as applied to Isaac (for Ishmael was then living), and to Solomon here (for Bath-sheba had other children by David, 1 Chronicles 3:5). In Greek translations it is rendered “only-begotten” and “well-beloved,” epithets applied in their highest sense to Christ (John 1:14; Matthew 3:17).

In the sight of my mother.—Implying her affection, as Genesis 17:18.

Verse 4

(4) He taught me also.—Comp. David’s advice to Solomon (l Chron. 28:9, 10).

Verse 5

(5) Get wisdom, get understanding.—Like the pearl of great price (Matthew 13:46).

Verse 7

(7) Wisdom is the principal thing . . .—This may also be translated, The beginning of wisdom is Get (or, to get, comp. Proverbs 16:16) wisdom: and with (i.e., at the price of) all thou hast gotten (thy possessions) get understanding.

Verse 8

(8) Exalt her, and she shall promote thee.—Comp. 1 Samuel 2:30, “Them that honour me I will honour.”

Verse 13

(13) For she is thy life.—Comp. 1 John 5:12, “He that hath the Son hath life.”

Verse 16

(16) For they sleep not . . .—The practice of evil has become as it were a second nature to them, they cannot live without it.

Verse 17

(17) The bread of wickedness.—i.e., acquired by wickedness, as (Proverbs 10:2) “treasures of wickedness.”

Verse 18

(18) But the path of the just . . .—The just have the Lord for their light (Psalms 27:1), on them the “Sun of righteousness” has arisen (Malachi 4:2). as “the light of the morning, even a morning without clouds” (2 Samuel 23:4), and this light, that is, their knowledge of God, will become clearer and clearer till the “perfect day,” when they shall see Him as He is (1 John 3:2). (Comp. Job 11:17; and Notes on Proverbs 6:23.)

Verse 19

(19) The way of the wicked is as darkness.—By refusing to “walk in the light” of God’s Word, and conscience (1 John 1:7), the light that was in them has become darkness (Matthew 6:23); they know not whither they are going (John 12:35), and stumble (Proverbs 11:10) over difficulties which in the light they might have avoided.

Verse 22

(22) For they are life . . .—Comp. 1 Timothy 4:8, “Godliness is profitable unto all things, having the promise of the life that now is, (the highest happiness that man can attain to now, peace of mind,) and of that which is to come,” the assurance of a joyful resurrection.

Verse 23

(23) Keep thy heart with all diligence.—Rather, above all things that are to be guarded.

For out of it are the issues of life.—That is, from it comes life (and also death). From it proceed “all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works,” signs of the life with God within the soul; or, “evil thoughts, murders,” &c. (Matthew 15:19), “the end of which things is death” (Romans 6:21).

Verse 24

(24) A froward mouth.—Heb. ‘iqqeshûth, literally, distortion, or twisting of the truth, not the same word as in Proverbs 2:12; Proverbs 2:14.

Perverse lips—i.e., that “turn aside” from the truth.

Verse 25

(25) Let thine eyes look right on.—Comp. the advice of Sir. 7:36, “Whatsoever thou takest in hand, remember the end,” and of Hebrews 12:2, to look “unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.”

Verse 26

(26) Ponder the path of thy feet.—Rather, make it smooth, level: take all obstacles out of it which may prevent thy going in the way God is leading thee. Comp. the directions to cut off even the hand or the foot that offends (Matthew 18:8). This verse is quoted in Hebrews 12:13.

Let all thy ways be established.—Or, directed aright; see that they lead straight to the end (Psalms 119:5).

Verse 27

(27) Turn not aside . . .—Comp. the direction of Joshua 1:7, and the praise accorded to David (1 Kings 15:5).

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Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Proverbs 4". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". 1905.