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LOVE TO THE HOLY SCRIPTURES INCULCATED
Proverbs 7:1-4. My son, keep my words, and lay up my commandments with thee. Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye. Bind them upon thy fingers; write them upon the table of thine heart. Say unto Wisdom, Thou art my sister; and call Understanding thy kinswoman.
THROUGHOUT the book of Proverbs, we are strongly reminded of that expression of Paul to Philemon, “Though I might be much bold in Christ to enjoin thee that which is convenient, yet for love’s sake I rather beseech thee.” There is an exquisite tenderness in the exhortations of Solomon, addressed as they are by a father to a son. Not that we are to suppose that they were intended only for Rehoboam: they were intended for the Church of God, in all ages: and to us, no less than to Rehoboam himself, is the affectionate language of our text addressed. But indeed a greater than Solomon is here. Condescending as the expressions are, they are addressed to us by the Lord Jesus Christ himself, who is Wisdom itself incarnate [Note: See Proverbs 8:22-32.]”; and his are the counsels which we are so earnestly entreated to treasure up in our minds.
In discoursing on the words before us, we will shew,
The respect which we should pay to the counsels of Divine Wisdom—
By comparing our text with similar language in the New Testament, we see, that by the terms here used we have to understand, not the Decalogue only, but the whole revealed will of God. Now to whatever the counsels of the Deity relate,
They should be treasured up with diligence—
[Whatever is of more than ordinary value in our eyes, we lay it up with care in a place of safety; and the more of it we can amass, the richer we feel ourselves to be. Now there is nothing in the whole universe to be compared with the Scriptures of truth, nothing that will so enrich the mind, nothing that will so benefit the soul. In the great mystery of redemption “are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” The precepts too, and the promises, and the histories, and the examples, O! who can estimate them as they deserve? — — — To treasure these up in our minds should be our daily and most delightful employment. Not a day should pass without adding to this blessed store. We should always furnish ourselves with some fresh portion, on which to ruminate. Not that it is merely in the mind and memory that we are to store up this wealth, but, as Moses tells us, in our heart and in our soul; “Ye shall lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul [Note: Deuteronomy 11:18.]:” this is the proper seat of Divine knowledge; and here should we endeavour to amass the only true wealth, “the unsearchable riches of Christ.”]
They should be watched over with care—
[Nature has made peculiar provision for the eye, so that, by an involuntary and instantaneous motion of the eye-lid, it is preserved from innumerable injuries which it must otherwise sustain. Now with the same care that we guard “the apple of our eye,” we should watch over and preserve the treasures of wisdom, which we have accumulated in our hearts. Satan is ever labouring to “take out of our hearts the word of life,” as our Lord has told us in the parable of the Sower: and it requires the utmost vigilance on our part to defeat his efforts. Indeed the heart itself is but too prone to lose its riches through any apertures by which the world has entered; so that we need to “give the most earnest heed lest at any time we should let them slip [Note: Hebrews 2:1.].” Besides, if we be not constantly on our guard against “the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches,” and other foolish and hateful lusts, we shall find to our cost, that these “weeds and thorns will choke all the good seed that has been sown in our hearts, and will render it unfruitful.” Our care and watchfulness therefore should be incessant, that nothing be permitted to rob us of our good principles, or to weaken their influence on our souls. If, as we are told, God “himself keeps his people as the apple of his eye [Note: Deu 32:10 and Zechariah 2:8.],” surely we should exercise all possible vigilance to keep his counsels, and preserve inviolate his holy commandments.]
They should be kept ready for use—
[It is not sufficient that we have reduced the counsels of God, as it were, to certain heads, and made memorandums of them in our books, so as to be able to refer to them when occasion requires: we should have them “inscribed on the tablet of our hearts,” so that they may be always at hand, ready to direct and regulate our ways. Conscience, by looking inward, should be able to see them in an instant, and to suggest the line of conduct conformable to them. Moreover, we should have them “bound also upon our fingers,” so as both to be reminded of them at all times, and be ever ready to carry them into execution. To this effect Solomon explains his meaning: “Bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck. When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee: for the commandment is a lamp, and the law is light: and reproofs of instruction are the way of life [Note: Proverbs 6:20-23.].”]
They should be guarded with the tenderest affection—
[With persons standing in near and dear relation to us, we are accustomed to live in habits of intimacy, consulting them on any occasions of difficulty, paying considerable deference to their judgment, and easily influenced by their opinions. Now in this light we should view the counsels of our God: we should be familiar with them; we should consult them on all occasions, and yield them a willing ascendency over our hearts. Instead of standing aloof from them as strangers, we should claim, and glory in, our relation to them: we should “say unto Wisdom, Thou art my sister; and call Understanding our kinswoman.” We should, by our conformity to the dictates of Wisdom, prove, and manifest, our relation to her; and constrain all who behold us to acknowledge, that God is our Father, and that Christ, “the Wonderful Counsellor,” is our Friend.]
To encourage this acquaintance with the Divine counsels, we will proceed to state,
The benefits which we shall derive from a due attention to them—
In our text itself, the great benefit of complying with the exhortation is stated, in short but comprehensive terms; “Keep my commandments, and live.” But in the verses following our text, a particular advantage is insisted on, namely, the being delivered from the snares and temptations to which we are exposed. That we may comprehend both, we would observe, that by our attention to the Divine counsels,
We shall be delivered from evil—
[”From the way of the evil woman” is particularly noticed, both here and in the preceding chapter: and doubtless an attention to the counsels of Wisdom will eventually secure us against those temptations which lead captive so great a portion of mankind. But we need not confine our views to iniquities of one kind only: the advice here given is equally useful in preserving men from snares of every kind. From the inspired volume we learn the folly and malignity of every sin. The temptations of the world, the lusts of the flesh, and the devices of Satan, are all there exposed; and armour is laid up for us, that we may successfully maintain the combat against them. Our blessed Lord himself, in whom was no sin, drew from this armoury the arrows and the shield with which he vanquished the tempter in the wilderness: and from the same source must we also be furnished. Thus David tells us: “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? Even by taking heed thereto according to thy word:” and again, “Thy word have I hid within my heart, that I might not sin against thee.” Would you then be kept from evil tempers, and evil passions, and evil habits of every kind? Study the sacred records: treasure up in your minds the terrors of God’s wrath as there revealed, and the declarations of his mercy as there promulgated. There see the wonders of redeeming love unfolded to your view, and the blessedness of those who have been monuments of converting and saving grace. Let every part of God’s word have its proper bearing on your hearts and consciences, and it shall be effectual for your salvation. Whatever lusts you have hitherto indulged, you shall, through the influence of the word, and by the power of the Holy Ghost, be sanctified; as our Lord has said; “Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth:” and again, “Now are ye clean through the word that has been spoken unto you.”]
We shall be carried forward in safety to everlasting life—
[So says our text; “Keep my commandments, and live.” So also says our blessed Lord: “I know that thy commandment is life everlasting [Note: John 12:49-50.].” We must remember, that it is not of mere morality that we are now speaking, but an impartial attention to the whole revealed will of God. And where this is, God will surely pour out upon the soul his richest blessings. Hear what our blessed Lord says respecting this: “He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me, shall be loved of my Father; and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him:” yea, “We will come to him, and make our abode with him [Note: John 14:21; John 14:23.].” What unspeakable benefits are these! Favoured with such communications, what can we want? — — — But it is not in this world only that such persons are blessed: for to them are secured all the blessedness and glory of the world to come; according as it is written, “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have a right to eat of the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city [Note: Revelation 22:14.].” This right indeed is not founded on any merit of their own; but solely on the promises of God made to them in Christ Jesus. It is Christ who, by his obedience unto death, has purchased these blessings for us: but it is to his obedient servants only that these blessings shall ever be vouchsafed. They however shall inherit them; nor shall all the powers of darkness be able to rob them of their promised inheritance. Only “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom [Note: Colossians 3:16.],” and you shall never be straitened [Note: Proverbs 3:21-23; Pro 4:12], “nor ever fall; but have an entrance ministered unto you abundantly into the kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ [Note: 2 Peter 1:10-11.].”]
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Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Proverbs 7". Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany