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A.M. 3004. B.C. 1000.
In this chapter Solomon seems to illustrate more fully what he had delivered in the conclusion of the foregoing, (Proverbs 8:32-35 ,) concerning the satisfaction and happiness they might expect to find, who would attend at the gates, and submit themselves to the government of that heavenly wisdom, which he had described as proceeding from God; and which he here again represents as a glorious queen, the daughter of heaven, adorned with all perfections, living in a stately palace, unto which she invites all men, and promises them, if they will forsake their follies, the most delicious entertainment. This is set forth under the image of a feast; whereby the sacred writers are wont to express (as the aptest resemblance of it that can be found) the high satisfaction, joy, and pleasure, with which the principles of wisdom and virtue fill our hearts, when we have such a true relish of them, that we embrace and digest them, and are enlivened by them to a pious life. This is the substance of the parable; every part of which is not to be minutely scanned, according to the letter of it. Wisdom invites to her feast, Proverbs 9:1-6 . Her counsels concerning reproof and instruction, Proverbs 9:7-9 . A description of the fear of God, and the benefits thereof, Proverbs 9:10-12 . Sin, in the person of a foolish woman, invites us to her entertainment, Proverbs 9:13-17 . Which ends in destruction, Proverbs 9:18 .
Proverbs 9:1. Wisdom, &c. Wisdom here, under a most splendid allegory, is represented “as a queen, sitting in her royal palace, and inviting mortals to a banquet, plentifully furnished with the richest dainties, that they may be fed with celestial delights for a blessed immortality. Various have been the endeavours of commentators to apply every circumstance in this description; but it has been well observed, that whoever would do so, will find themselves in a great error, and quite ignorant of the nature of parabolical writings; for parables may be compared to history paintings, which are intended to convey a general idea, which is to be gathered from the collective body of images, not from any particular figure; the minute circumstances are to be considered only as heightenings of the piece; but the conclusion or general maxim is to be drawn from the scope and assemblage of the whole:” see Schultens and Dodd. Hath builded her house For the reception and entertainment of her guests; she hath hewn out her seven pillars That is, many pillars, the number seven being put for any perfect number. Hereby the beauty and stability of the building are signified. Or, perhaps, it is to be understood of the erection of a portico, in which the banquet was to be prepared. This house is opposed to the harlot’s house, mentioned Proverbs 7:8, and was considered by many of the ancient fathers, as it has also been by many modern commentators, as representing the church, which Christ, the Wisdom of the Father, hath erected and established in the world, which is termed God’s house, (1 Timothy 3:15; Hebrews 3:3-4,) in which the prophets, apostles, and ministers of religion are pillars, (Galatians 2:9,) and in which a feast of fat things is provided for all that will partake of it: see Isaiah 25:6, and especially the parables, Matthew 22:1-14, and Luke 14:16-24, which greatly illustrate this allegory of Solomon.
Proverbs 9:2. She hath killed her beasts That is, made provision for her guests: namely, instruction in things the most important, satisfying, improving, and consolatory truths, declarations, and promises; refreshing, cheering, and exhilarating discoveries and communications. If applied to the church of Christ, it signifies the ordinances and means of edification appointed therein, with the gifts, graces, and comforts, and the spiritual and eternal blessings which God hath prepared for his true people, and which he offers to all mankind, to be accepted in the way of repentance, faith, and new obedience. Reader, they are free for thee. She hath mingled her wine With spices, to make it cheering, invigorating, and delightful, this mixed wine being represented as the best, Proverbs 23:29-30; or, with water, as they used to do in those hot countries, both for refreshment and wholesomeness: whereby may be intimated to us, that wisdom teaches us temperance in the use of our comforts. She hath also furnished her table With all necessaries, and now waits for guests.
Proverbs 9:3. She hath sent forth her maidens Her servants, to invite the guests, namely, the ministers of the word of God, whom he calls maidens, for the decency of the parable; for Wisdom being compared to a great princess, it was fit she should be attended on by maidens. She crieth upon the highest places Upon the tops of the houses, (which were flat,) conformably to what our Lord says, Matthew 10:7, What ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. Or, from such high seats and places as those from which judges delivered their sentences, and officers made proclamations for the convenience of the people’s better hearing.
Proverbs 9:4-6. Whoso is simple Ignorant, weak, and liable to be deceived, but willing to learn; let him turn in hither For there is no man so ignorant but he is welcome to come and receive instruction. By this manner of speaking, Wisdom shows that she rejects those scholars who are proud and self-conceited. As for him that wanteth understanding Hebrew, that wanteth a heart, which is put for understanding, Jeremiah 5:21; Hosea 7:11, and elsewhere. She saith to him, Come, eat of my bread Partake of the provision which I have made; my nourishing and strengthening instructions; and drink of the wine which I have mingled Receive my refreshing and invigorating comforts. Forsake the foolish The ignorant and wicked; shun their company and their practices; converse not with them; conform not to their ways; have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, or with those that do such works. The first step toward virtue is to shun vice, and therefore to avoid the company of the vicious. And live Arise from the dead and live indeed; not a mere animal life, such as brutes live, but now at length live the life of men, the life of Christians. Live a spiritual life, in union with God, and you shall live an eternal life in the enjoyment of him. And go in the way of understanding Govern thyself by the rules of religion and right reason. It is not enough to forsake the foolish, but we must unite ourselves with those that walk in wisdom, and walk in the same spirit, and the same steps.
Proverbs 9:7. He that reproveth a scorner “This and the following verse supply us with a reason for the conduct of wisdom, in addressing herself only to the simple. She invites not the pretendedly wise, those who think they are ignorant of nothing; to invite them to the feast of wisdom, would be to expose herself to their insults and censures. They would receive the invitation with disdain; they would despise the lessons of wisdom; they would reject with disgust her wine and her viands. The scorners admirably represent the genius of libertines and professed infidels.” Dodd. But Solomon may also be considered as showing us, in these verses, whom he meant by the foolish, Proverbs 9:6, even scorners and wicked men; and here he presses the advice last given of forsaking them, because there was no good, but hurt, to be got from them. He that reproves such a one, he says, getteth to himself shame Namely, both from the scorner himself, who will revile and deride him; and from others, because he is frustrated in his design and hope, and hath, by his imprudence, brought an inconvenience upon himself. He that rebuketh a wicked man A man wilfully, obstinately, and determinedly wicked; getteth himself a blot Censure or reproach. Instead, probably, of convincing or reforming such a one by his reproofs, he will find himself accused of the same, or of similar iniquities, by the person whom he endeavours to amend. “A scorner,” says Lord Bacon, “only makes us lose our labour, but a wicked man (that is, one obstinately wicked) repays us with a stain of dishonour; when a man instructs a scorner, his time, indeed, which he thus employs, is thrown away, and others deride his pains as a labour ill placed; and the scorner himself also despises the knowledge which he is taught; thus a man is put to shame. But the matter is transacted with greater danger in the reprehension of the other; because he not only gives no ear to the advice, but turns his head against his reprehender, now made odious to him; whom he either wounds presently with contumelies before his face, or traduces afterward to others behind his back.” Advancement of Learning, 50. 8. chap. 2. par. 9.
Proverbs 9:8-9. Reprove not a scorner An incorrigible sinner, who despises and scornfully rejects the means of amendment. Thus physicians deny physic to persons in a desperate condition; lest he hate thee Whereby thou wilt not only expose thyself, without necessity, to his malice and rage, but also make thyself utterly incapable of doing that good, which, possibly, thou mightest do by other more prudent and proper means. Rebuke a wise man Who is opposed to the scorner, to intimate that scorners, however they are thought by themselves or others to be witty or wise, yet, in God’s account, and in truth, are fools; and he will love thee Both for that faithfulness and charity which he perceives in thee, and for that benefit which he receives from thee. Give instruction to a wise man In the Hebrew it is only give; for, as receiving is put for learning, (Proverbs 1:3,) so giving is put for teaching. And he will be yet wiser This is an undoubted maxim, that a man disposed to learn, who and has already hearkened to the instructions of wisdom, will grow wiser by reprehension; and the advice given to a just, or righteous man, one truly desirous of knowing and practising his duty, will make him yet better, and much improve him in every branch of piety and virtue.
Proverbs 9:10-12. The fear of the Lord, &c. The very first, and, indeed, the principal thing which is to be instilled into all men’s minds, (without which they will make no progress in true wisdom,) is a serious sense of the Divine Majesty, and an awful regard toward him. And next, that no knowledge deserves the name of understanding but that which disposes us to devote ourselves, in holy obedience, to God; or the knowledge and practice of true religion, and the duties of it: see notes on Job 28:28; Psalms 111:10; Proverbs 1:7. If thou be wise, thou shalt be wise for thyself
Thou dost not profit me, but thyself by thy wisdom. I advise thee for thine own good. But if thou scornest If thou despisest and deridest the advice which I give thee, thou alone shalt bear it The blame and mischief of it will fall wholly upon thee, not upon me, or my word, or ministers, who have warned thee.
Proverbs 9:13. A foolish woman, &c. “Here we have another allegorical picture, describing folly under the person of a harlot, who fascinates with her enticements, and offers also her dainties to her guests; but dainties tainted with the most subtle poison.” The Hebrew, אשׁת כסילות , is literally, the woman of folly, or folly herself compared to a woman, and bearing the character of a harlot. This is opposed to that wisdom of which he has been so long discoursing, and so may include all wickedness, whether in principle or practice. Is clamorous Speaks loudly that she may be heard, and vehemently that persons may be moved by her persuasions. She is simple, and knoweth nothing Namely, aright; nothing that is good, nothing for her good, though she be subtle in little artifices for her own wicked ends.
Proverbs 9:14-15. She sitteth at the door of her house Which denotes her idleness and impudence, and her diligence in watching for occasions of sin. To call passengers Who were going innocently and directly about their own business, without any unchaste design.
Proverbs 9:16-18. Whoso is simple Which title is not given to them by her; for such a reproach would not have allured them, but driven them away; but by Solomon, who represents the matter of her invitation in his own words, that he might discover the truth of it, and thereby dissuade and deter those whom she invited. Stolen waters are sweet A proverbial expression for unlawful pleasures, which are said to be sweet, partly from the difficulty of obtaining them, and partly because the very prohibition renders them more agreeable to man’s corrupt nature. But he knoweth not He doth not consider it seriously, (whereby he proves his folly,) that the dead are there The dead in sin, the spiritually dead, and those who are in the high road to be eternally dead. In other words, she invites him to his utter ruin, both of soul and body: for her guests are in the depths of hell She sinks all those who accept of her invitation down to the very bottom of that pit from whence there is no redemption. “One of the profitable lessons to be learned from this chapter is, that there is nothing more inconsistent with wisdom than the service of those impure lusts which have been the ruin of all those who have been led by them; and therefore with this the wise man concludes his preface to the book of Proverbs, again repeating, Proverbs 9:10, that first principle on which all religion is built, and wherewith he began this preface, that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Indeed there is no true wisdom but religion.”
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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Proverbs 9". Benson's Commentary. https://studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent