the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
Grant's Commentary on the Bible Grant's Commentary
by L.M. Grant
Proverbs, no less than all Scripture, is an orderly, consistent unfolding of truth, inspired by the Spirit of God, using Solomon, a man of unparalleled wisdom, for a purpose of special importance...
Gold does not always lie on the surface of the earth: rather for the most part gold mining requires hard, consistent labor, digging, searching, setting aside all that is merely soil and watching carefully for the precious ore. Let us have such diligence in searching the Word of God, finding below the surface those rich nuggets of truth that are lying ready to reward the earnest persistence of faith. How largely unexplored in this way is the book of Proverbs, and other books also!
Proverbs, no less than all Scripture, is an orderly, consistent unfolding of truth, inspired by the Spirit of God, using Solomon, a man of unparalleled wisdom, for a purpose of special importance.
Let no reader consider these proverbs mere isolated, disconnected statements of truth. For however little we may discern the perfect unity and order of the book, with all of its subjects, yet it is there. Indeed, if we believe it to be inspired of God, We must believe it to be absolute perfection in order and arrangement, in internal unity, and in unity with the rest of Scripture. Gold does not always lie on the surface of the earth: rather for the most part gold mining requires hard, consistent labor, digging, searching, setting aside all that is merely soil and watching carefully for the precious ore. Let us have such diligence in searching the Word of God, finding below the surface those rich nuggets of truth that are lying ready to reward the earnest persistence of faith. How largely unexplored in this way is the book of Proverbs, and other books also!
But the writer at present must pass over the greater part of the book, being not content with his feeble efforts at tracing the order of God in this, and trusting that others more diligent may make use of the discerning power of the Holy Spirit in this deeply instructive book and minister this for the blessing of the saints of God. But his purpose now is to show in a small measure at least, in the seven closing chapters of the book, the most precious and marked order that is evidently the work of its Divine Author.
Chapters 25 through 29 are said to be "proverbs of Solomon, which the men of Hezekiah, king of Judah, copied out." Chapter 30 is a prophecy of Agur; son of Jakeh, and chapter 31 is a prophecy also, of Lemuel, a king, who appears to be Solomon under another name. In the entire section, the chapter divisions are evidently thoroughly correct, which greatly simplifies an inquiry into its order. For the number seven is well known as symbolizing spiritual completeness or perfection.
Under Solomon the kingdom of Israel was established in peace and prosperity, - David having first by warfare and conquest subdued kingdoms and brought under subjection the territory over which Solomon reigned in glory. Both are types of Christ in their particular characters. It will be easily seen then that Proverbs gives moral instruction in principles consistent with the kingdom of Jehovah. Moreover, the first 24 chapters are instruction suited to a normal condition of things in the establishment of the kingdom; but with warnings and indications of a downward tendency, which is culminated tragically in Chapter 24:30-34: "I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; And lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down. Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked upon it, and received instruction. Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth: and thy want as an armed man."
Is it not painfully sad that Solomon himself in later years allowed these thorns and nettles to grow up, and Israel's wall of separation to begin its process of breaking down, when he married wives of the ungodly nations, and in watchless laxity made provision for their worshipping idols, eventually having his own heart turned away? The elements of disintegration were present from the beginning of the kingdom, just as was the case from the beginning of the Church. The history of the kings is one of rapid departure from the truth of Proverbs, just as the history of the church is a glaring exposure of failure, self-will and rebellion against the precious truth of Christianity.
Men have slept and the enemy has sown tares. Instead of the precious fruits of the glory of God springing forth to delight His heart, the thorns and nettles of man's pride and corruption have laid all in ruins. The wall of separation has been broken down to allow in all manner of evil contrary to the very character of the Church, and shame covers her face. The sad facts we must face as they are: we can never return to Pentecost, however much we desire it, no more than could Hezekiah return to the magnificent glory of Solomon's kingdom.
Are we then at liberty to give up the principles of the kingdom of God? By no means. Though they have been given up generally, there is no slightest excuse for any child of God to give these up and to drift with the current. Unbelief makes the contemptible excuse, "We are delivered to do all these abominations" ( Jeremiah 7:10). Faith answers boldly, "Shall we then hearken unto you, to do all this great evil, to transgress against our Lord?" No matter who was guilty of the evil,-even Solomon himself, - Nehemiah absolutely refused to wink at it ( Nehemiah 13:26-27).
It is this very principle that is involved in the last seven chapters of Proverbs. If Chapter 24 shows the field and the vineyard in ruins, then what follows is the great provision of God for the recovery and maintaining of godliness in the very face of a ruined testimony.
Hezekiah came to the throne at such a time, when mere spiritual sloth and faithlessness would have weakly given in to the prevailing corruption. He could not possibly bring all Israel back to her former state, but he could apply God's principles in the sphere in which God had placed him. It is evident then that these proverbs beginning with chapter 25 have peculiar value for the days of Hezekiah, which are so aptly described in his own words. "This day is a day of trouble, and of rebuke, and blasphemy: for the children are come to the birth, and there is not strength to bring forth" (2 Kings 19:3). Who can doubt the similarity of our own day? And this being so, is it not wise that we carefully search out the precious instruction specially suited to our own circumstances? We should fully expect to find similarities to 2 Timothy - a book of provision for days of disorder, - and this is certainly the case.
It should be evident also to any careful reader that there is admirable moral appropriateness in the last two chapters adopting the expressed language of prophecies, - the 30th showing the vanity of all mere human character and work, with evidence of God's victory over evil; and the 31st the blessed fulfillment in grace of God's counsels concerning His Son, the true King, and His purchased Bride. What unspeakable comfort in all this for the heart of him who sorrows with godly sorrow for the grievous departure and disobedience of the Church publicly. The Lord make it so to every Christian heart!