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Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament

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PROVERBS 2

"This chapter presents the five fruits of wisdom."F1

(1) The seeker shall find God (Proverbs 2:1-8).

(2) Wisdom provides many precious rewards (Prov. 2: 9-11).

(3) God's man is delivered from evil (Proverbs 2:12-15).

(4) He is safe from harlotry (Proverbs 2:16-19).

(5) He will receive a special inheritance (Prov. 2: Prov. 2:20-22).

THE SEEKER OF WISDOM MAY FIND GOD

Prov. 2:1-8

My son, if thou wilt receive my words,

And lay up my commandments with thee;

So as to incline thine ear unto wisdom,

And apply thy heart to understanding;

Yea, if thou cry after discernment,

And lift up thy voice for understanding;

If thou seek her as silver,

And search for her as for hid treasures:

Then shalt thou understand the fear of Jehovah,

And find the knowledge of God.

For Jehovah giveth Wisdom;

Out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding:

He layeth up sound wisdom for the upright;

He is a shield to them that walk in integrity;

That he may guard the paths of justice,

And preserve the way of his saints."


 
Verses 1-8
My son, if thou wilt receive my words, And lay up my commandments with thee; So as to incline thine ear unto wisdom, And apply thy heart to understanding; Yea, if thou cry after discernment, And lift up thy voice for understanding; If thou seek her as silver, And search for her as for hid treasures: Then shalt thou understand the fear of Jehovah, And find the knowledge of God. For Jehovah giveth wisdom; Out of his mouth [cometh] knowledge and understanding: He layeth up sound wisdom for the upright; [He is] a shield to them that walk in integrity; That he may guard the paths of justice, And preserve the way of his saints.
(Proverbs 2:1). This address occurs thirteen times in the first seven chapters of Proverbs,F2 not only indicating the unity of this section, but also revealing the format here as a succession of speeches to a young person by some teacher.

Incline thine ear to wisdom. thy heart to understanding
(Proverbs 2:2). The use of the words wisdom and understanding without the possessive pronouns `my' and `her' make it clear that, Wisdom is no longer personified in this passage and regarded as the speaker.F3

Yea, if thou cry after knowledge
(Proverbs 2:3). The seeker after wisdom must be earnest and sincere, as indicated by these words.F4 Furthermore, he must extend himself diligently and search for true wisdom with the same abandon and exertion that men devote to the seeking of earthly treasures. (See under Prov. 2:6.)

"How do men seek money? What will they not do to get rich? Reader, seek the salvation of thy soul as earnestly as the covetous man seeks wealth; and be ashamed of thyself, if thou be less in earnest after the true riches than he is after the wealth that perishes."F5

"This paragraph underlines the involvement and effort needed both to obtain and retain wisdom."F6

Then shalt thou understand the fear of Jehovah, and find the knowledge of God
(Proverbs 2:5). The deeper religious element of wisdom appears in this verse, i.e., the fundamental conception of Hebrew prophecy that the knowledge of God is the supreme good.F7

"There are two coefficients to our receiving wisdom from God, namely, our efforts and God's assistance,"F8 as noted in the next verse.

Jehovah giveth wisdom
(Proverbs 2:6). George DeHoff has these priceless lines on this verse. God gives wisdom only to those who search for it. Often in the Bible, God is pictured as giving something when he merely makes it available. He gave the city of Jericho to Joshua; but it was necessary for Joshua and his soldiers to obey God's instructions before they could possess it. God gave manna to Israel in the wilderness; but they had to go and gather it up (Num. 11). Christ gave the blind man his sight; but he received it only when he went and washed in the Pool of Siloam. God gives men wisdom; but much diligent study is required in order to receive it.F9 Likewise, salvation itself is the free gift of God; but it is given conditionally. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved (Mark 16:16). Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of Heaven but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven (Matthew 7:21).

That he may. preserve the way of his saints
(Proverbs 2:8). Only here in the book of Proverbs do we find this remarkable word `saints'.F10 And is it really true that God preserves the way of his saints? The answer is affirmative. There are, of course, exceptions to the rule, due to (1) the activities of Satan, (2) the freedom of the human will, (3) the curse upon the earth for Adam's sake, (4) the element of chance, and (5) the mysterious `chastening' that falls upon every true child of God. Our Lord himself promised that his faithful servants, Shall receive in this present life a hundred fold, and in the world to come, eternal life (Mark 10:30). How does God accomplish such a thing as this? (1) The angels of heaven do service for them that shall be the heirs of eternal life (Hebrews 1:14). (2) Christ himself will be with his church even unto the end of the world (Matthew 28:18-20). (3) God will avenge his elect (Luke 28:7-8).

MANY RICH REWARDS BESTOWED BY WISDOM

Then shalt thou understand righteousness and justice,

And equity, yea, every good path.

For wisdom shall enter into thy heart,

And knowledge shall be pleasant unto thy soul;

Discretion shall watch over thee;

Understanding shall keep thee:"

"Many men in high office who are guiding the destiny of our nation today are not being guided by the Lord."F11 The righteousness, justice and equity needed in a well-ordered society are available only in God's Word. The tragic word in the sacred Scriptures is that, "It is not in man that walketh to direct his steps" (Jeremiah 10:23). Every generation of mankind has repeatedly proved this to be the truth.


 
Verses 9-11
Then shalt thou understand righteousness and justice, And equity, [yea], every good path. For wisdom shall enter into thy heart, And knowledge shall be pleasant unto thy soul; Discretion shall watch over thee; Understanding shall keep thee:
(Proverbs 2:10). Men must appreciate wisdom in order to profit by it. It is one thing to be acquainted with wisdom, and quite another for wisdom to be welcomed as a 'pleasant' guest.F12

Understanding shall keep thee
(Proverbs 2:11). These words introduce another facet of the benefits of wisdom and the knowledge of God to which it leads; and that is, It is not only that to which wisdom leads a man, but it is that from which it saves him, or keeps him, that eternally blesses him.F13 The following verses will provide examples of this.

GOD'S MAN IS DELIVERED FROM EVIL

To deliver thee from the way of evil,

From the men who speak perverse things;

Who forsake the paths of righteousness,

To walk in the ways of darkness;

Who rejoice to do evil,

And delight in the perverseness of evil;

Who are crooked in their ways,

And wayward in their paths:"

This paragraph speaks of the seditious and subversive enemies that form the bottom layer of every society. "They wish to subvert the state of things, whether civil or religious; they are seditious themselves and wish to make others so; they speak much of liberty, oppression, injustice, etc., endeavoring especially to corrupt the youth."F14 Such men are totally destructive, rebellious and critical; and they are bankrupt of any worthwhile purpose.


 
Verses 12-15
To deliver thee from the way of evil, From the men that speak perverse things; Who forsake the paths of uprightness, To walk in the ways of darkness; Who rejoice to do evil, And delight in the perverseness of evil; Who are crooked in their ways, And wayward in their paths:
(Proverbs 2:13). Christians are specifically warned against the ways of darkness. Much of the world's evil is perpetrated in darkness, due to men's instinctive desire to hide their evil deeds. The word darkness carries with it two ideas (1) ignorance, and (2) error.F15 To walk in darkness is therefore to reject the true light of wisdom and to practice iniquity. The apostle Paul has commanded us to, Cast off the works of darkness (Romans 13:12): and in the same breath he mentioned among those works such things as, Reveling, drunkenness, debauchery, licentiousness, quarreling and jealousy (Romans 13:13).

Who rejoice to do evil
(Proverbs 2:14). This fingers an amazing trait of wicked men; they rejoice in evil! A malignant joy lights up the countenance of any abandoned sinner at the very prospect of some wicked deed. This is Satanic wickedness; and such men may exclaim with Milton's Satan, `Evil, be thou my good'!F16

GOD'S MAN IS DELIVERED FROM HARLOTRY

To deliver thee from the strange woman,

Even from the foreigner that flattereth with her words;

That forsaketh the friend of her youth,

And forgetteth the covenant of her God:

For her house inclineth unto death,

And her paths unto the dead;

None that go unto her return again,

Neither do they attain unto the paths of life:"


 
Verses 16-19
To deliver thee from the strange woman, Even from the foreigner that flattereth with her words; That forsaketh the friend of her youth, And forgetteth the covenant of her God: For her house inclineth unto death, And her paths unto the dead; None that go unto her return again, Neither do they attain unto the paths of life:
(Proverbs 2:16). Who is this strange woman? According to Cook, She is none other than a foreigner;F17 but the mention of her having forgotten the covenant of her God, identifies her as an Israelite who had been in covenant relationship with the Lord. Others have identified her as a religious prostitute attached to some pagan shrine; but the simple truth appears to be that. The strange woman here is any meretricious person who indulges in illicit sex.F18

(This is the first of several warnings against adultery in the book of Proverbs; others are in Prov. 5:3-23; 6:20-35; 7:1-27; 9:13-18). The thing that amazes this writer is that the author of these instructions was himself the most fantastic violator of these warnings ever known.

"Some Jewish commentators personify the strange woman here and make her a symbol of some form of foreign philosophy; but, very probably, the reference is to literal vice."F19

The use of the word "stranger" (or strange woman) in Proverbs is not to be understood in its ordinary meaning. Ruth called herself a stranger (Ruth 2:10); but, "In Proverbs, these words are euphemisms for harlot."F20

That forsaketh the friend of her youth
(Proverbs 2:17). Most scholars agree that these words refer to the woman's husband.F21

Her house inclineth unto death
(Proverbs 2:18). Men come away from every unlawful indulgence other than they go -- weaker and worse in soul. Alas for the morrow of incontinence, of whatever kind it is! The soul is injured; self-respect is slain; his force is diminished; he is on the incline that slopes to death; and one step nearer to it than ever before. `Her house inclineth unto death'!F22

"Adultery is a house slanted toward the death of the spirit; and Divine wisdom is essential for deliverance from its temptation and torment."F23

HE WILL RECEIVE A SPECIAL INHERITANCE

That thou mayest walk in the way of good men,

And keep the paths of righteousness.

For the upright shall dwell in the land,

And the perfect shall remain in it.

But the wicked shall be cut off from the land,

And the treacherous shall be rooted out of it."

Although "the land" as used in these verses was probably understood by the Israelites as the Palestine, that is, "The Promised Land," it should be remembered that "The Promised Land" itself is a valid Biblical symbol of something far more wonderful, namely, heaven itself; and it is in that sense that the Christian should read these verses.

The Old Testament promises of the rewards of righteousness stressed the physical and material things of the present age rather that the eschatological wonders of the world to come; but they were not entirely wrong in this. "There is still impressive evidence that integrity pays better than treachery, that honesty is better than thievery, that truthfulness is better than falsehood, and that righteousness is better than wickedness, even in human terms."F24


Footnotes for Proverbs 2
1: George DeHoff's Commentary, Vol. III, p. 252.
2: Wycliffe Old Testament Commentary, p. 559.
3: The Pulpit Commentary, Vol. 9, p. 33.
4: Ibid., p. 34.
5: Adam Clarke's Commentary on the Bible (London: T. Mason and G. Lane, 1837), Vol. III, p. 705.
6: The New Layman's Bible Commentary, p. 707.
7: Arthur S. Peake, A Commentary on the Bible (London: T. C. and E. C. Jack, Ltd., 1924), p. 398.
8: The Pulpit Commentary, op. cit., p. 35.
9: George DeHoff's Commentary, op. cit., p. 254.
10: The Pulpit Commentary, op. cit., p. 37.
11: J. Vernon McGee, Vol. III, p. 11.
12: Barnes' Notes on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, a 1987 reprint of the 1878 Edition), Proverbs, p. 18.
13: Ibid.
14: Adam Clarke's Commentary on the Bible (London: T. Mason and G. Lane, 1837), op. cit., p. 706.
15: The Pulpit Commentary, op. cit., p. 39.
16: W. F. Adeney, in The Pulpit Commentary, op. cit., p. 45.
17: Barnes' Notes on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1987 reprint of the 1878 Edition), op. cit., p. 19.
18: The Pulpit Commentary, op. cit., p. 40.
19: Arthur S. Peake, A Commentary on the Bible (London: T. C. and E. C. Jack, Ltd., 1924), p. 398.
20: Wycliffe Old Testament Commentary, Proverbs, p. 559.
21: The Pulpit Commentary, op. cit., p. 40; Barnes' Notes on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, a 1987 reprint of the 1878 Edition), op. cit., p. 19; Arthur S. Peake, A Commentary on the Bible (London: T.C. and E.C. Jack, Ltd., 1924), p. 398.
22: W. Clarkson, in The Pulpit Commentary, op. cit., p. 51.
23: The Teachers' Bible Commentary, p. 360.
24: The New Layman's Bible Commentary, p. 708.

Copyright Statement
James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Bibliography Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Proverbs 2". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". <http://classic.studylight.org/com/bcc/view.cgi?book=pr&chapter=002>. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.  

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