Solomon, having foretold the destruction of those who are obstinate in
their impiety, in this chapter applies himself to those who are willing
to be taught; and,
I. He shows them that, if they would diligently use the means of
knowledge and grace, they should obtain of God the knowledge and grace
which they seek,
II. He shows them of what unspeakable advantage it would be to them.
1. It would preserve them from the snares of evil men
and of evil women,
2. It would direct them into, and keep them in, the way of good men,
So that in this chapter we are taught both how to get wisdom and how to
use it when we have it, that we may neither seek it, nor receive it in
|The Search after Wisdom Encouraged.
1 My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my
commandments with thee;
2 So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine
heart to understanding;
3 Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy
voice for understanding;
4 If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for
5 Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the
knowledge of God.
6 For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh
knowledge and understanding.
7 He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: he is a
buckler to them that walk uprightly.
8 He keepeth the paths of judgment, and preserveth the way of
9 Then shalt thou understand righteousness, and judgment, and
equity; yea, every good path.
Job had asked, long before this, Where shall wisdom be found? Whence
and he had given this general answer
God knoweth the place of it; but Solomon here goes further, and
tells us both where we may find it and how we may get it. We are here
I. What means we must use that we may obtain wisdom.
1. We must closely attend to the word of God, for that is the word of
wisdom, which is able to make us wise unto salvation,
(1.) We must be convinced that the words of God are the fountain and
standard of wisdom and understanding, and that we need not desire to be
wiser than they will make us. We must incline our ear and
apply our hearts to them, as to wisdom or
understanding itself. Many wise things may be found in human
compositions, but divine revelation, and true religion built upon it,
are all wisdom.
(2.) We must, accordingly, receive the word of God with all readiness
of mind, and bid it welcome, even the commandments as well as the
promises, without murmuring or disputing. Speak, Lord, for thy
(3.) We must hide them with us, as we do our treasures, which we are
afraid of being robbed of. We must not only receive, but retain, the
word of God, and lodge it in our hearts, that it may be always ready to
(4.) We must incline our ear to them; we must lay hold on all
opportunities of hearing the word of God, and listen to it with
attention and seriousness, as those that are afraid of letting it slip.
(5.) We must apply our hearts to them, else inclining the ear to them
will stand us in no stead.
2. We must be much in prayer,
We must cry after knowledge, as one that is ready to perish for
hunger begs hard for bread. Faint desires will not prevail; we must be
importunate, as those that know the worth of knowledge and our own want
of it. We must cry, as new-born babes, after the sincere milk of the
1 Peter 2:2.
We must lift our voice for understanding lift it up to heaven;
thence these good and perfect gifts must be expected,
We must give our voice to understanding (so the word is), speak
for it, vote for it, submit the tongue to the command of wisdom. We
must consecrate our voice to it; having applied our heart to it, we
must employ our voice in seeking for it. Solomon could write
probatum est--a tried remedy, upon this method; he prayed for
wisdom and so obtained it.
3. We must be willing to take pains
we must seek it as silver, preferring it far before all the
wealth of this world, and labouring in search of it as those who dig in
the mines, who undergo great toil and run great hazards, with
indefatigable industry and invincible constancy and resolution, in
pursuit of the ore; or as those who will be rich rise up early, and sit
up late, and turn every stone to get money and fill their treasures.
Thus diligent must we be in the use of the means of knowledge,
following on to know the Lord.
II. What success we may hope for in the use of these means. Our labour
shall not be in vain; for,
1. We shall know how to maintain our acquaintance and communion with
God: "Thou shalt understand the fear of the Lord
that is, thou shalt know how to worship him aright, shalt be led into
the meaning and mystery of every ordinance, and be enabled to answer
the end of its institution." Thou shalt find the knowledge of
God, which is necessary to our fearing him aright. It concerns us
to understand how much it is our interest to know God, and to evidence
it by agreeable affections towards him and adorations of him.
2. We shall know how to conduct ourselves aright towards all men
"Thou shalt understand, by the word of God, righteousness,
and judgment, and equity, shalt learn those principles of justice,
and charity, and fair dealing, which shall guide and govern thee in the
whole course of thy conversation, shall make thee fit for every
relation, every business, and faithful to every trust. It shall give
thee not only a right notion of justice, but a disposition to practise
it, and to render to all their due; for those that do not do justly do
not rightly understand it." This will lead them in every good
path, for the scripture will make the man of God perfect.
Note, Those have the best knowledge who know their duty,
III. What ground we have to hope for this success in our pursuits of
wisdom; we must take our encouragement herein from God only,
1. God has wisdom to bestow,
The Lord not only is wise himself, but he gives wisdom,
and that is more than the wisest men in the world can do, for it is
God's prerogative to open the understanding. All the wisdom that is in
any creature is his gift, his free gift, and he gives it liberally
has given it to many, and is still giving it; to him therefore let us
apply for it.
2. He has blessed the world with a revelation of his will. Out of
his mouth, by the law and the prophets, by the written word and by
his ministers, both which are his mouth to the children of men, come
knowledge and understanding, such a discovery of truth and good as,
if we admit and receive the impressions of it, will make us truly
knowing and intelligent. It is both an engagement and encouragement to
search after wisdom that we have the scriptures to search, in which we
may find it if we seek it diligently.
3. He has particularly provided that good men, who are sincerely
disposed to do his will, shall have that knowledge and that
understanding which are necessary for them,
Let them seek wisdom, and they shall find it; let them ask, and it
shall be given them,
(1.) Who those are that are thus favoured. They are the
righteous, on whom the image of God is renewed, which consists in
righteousness, and those who walk uprightly, who are honest in
their dealings both with God and man and make conscience of doing their
duty as far as they know it. They are his saints, devoted to his
honour, and set apart for his service.
(2.) What it is that is provided for them.
[1.] Instruction. The means of wisdom are given to all, but wisdom
itself, sound wisdom, is laid up for the righteous, laid
up in Christ their head, in whom are hidden all the treasures of
wisdom and knowledge, and who is made of God to us wisdom.
The same that is the Spirit of revelation in the word is a Spirit of
wisdom in the souls of those that are sanctified, that wisdom of the
prudent which is to understand his way; and it is sound wisdom, its
foundations firm, its principles solid, and its products of lasting
[2.] Satisfaction. Some read it, He lays up substance for the
righteous, not only substantial knowledge, but substantial
happiness and comfort,
Riches are things that are not, and those that have them only fancy
themselves happy; but what is laid up in the promises and in heaven for
the righteous will make them truly, thoroughly, and eternally happy.
[3.] Protection. Even those who walk uprightly may be brought
into danger for the trial of their faith, but God is, and will be, a
buckler to them, so that nothing that happens to them shall do them
any real hurt, or possess them with any terrific apprehensions; they
are safe, and they shall think themselves so. Fear not, Abraham; I
am thy shield. It is their way, the paths of judgment in which they
walk, that the Lord knows, and owns, and takes care of.
[4.] Grace to persevere to the end. If we depend upon God, and seek to
him for wisdom, he will uphold us in our integrity, will enable us to
keep the paths of judgment, however we may be tempted to turn
aside out of them; for he preserves the way of his saints, that
it be not perverted, and so preserves them in it safe and blameless to
his heavenly kingdom. The assurances God has given us of his grace, if
duly improved, will excite and quicken our endeavours in doing our
duty. Work out your salvation, for God works in you.
|The Benefits Conferred by Wisdom.
10 When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is
pleasant unto thy soul;
11 Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep
12 To deliver thee from the way of the evil man, from the man
that speaketh froward things;
13 Who leave the paths of uprightness, to walk in the ways of
14 Who rejoice to do evil, and delight in the frowardness of
15 Whose ways are crooked, and they froward in their paths:
16 To deliver thee from the strange woman, even from the
stranger which flattereth with her words;
17 Which forsaketh the guide of her youth, and forgetteth the
covenant of her God.
18 For her house inclineth unto death, and her paths unto the
19 None that go unto her return again, neither take they hold
of the paths of life.
20 That thou mayest walk in the way of good men, and keep the
paths of the righteous.
21 For the upright shall dwell in the land, and the perfect
shall remain in it.
22 But the wicked shall be cut off from the earth, and the
transgressors shall be rooted out of it.
The scope of these verses is to show,
1. What great advantage true wisdom will be of to us; it will keep us
from the paths of sin, which lead to ruin, and will therein do us a
greater kindness than if it enriched us with all the wealth of the
2. What good use we should make of the wisdom God gives us; we must
use it for our own guidance in the paths of virtue, and for the arming
of us against temptations of every kind.
3. By what rules we may try ourselves whether we have this wisdom or
no. This tree will be known by its fruits; if we be truly wise, it
will appear by our care to avoid all evil company and evil
This wisdom will be of use to us,
I. For our preservation from evil, from the evil of sin, and,
consequently, from the evil of trouble that attends it.
1. In general
"When wisdom has entire possession of thee, it will keep thee."
And when has it an entire possession of us?
(1.) When it has dominion over us. When it not only fills the head with
notions, but enters into the heart and has a commanding power
and influence upon that,--when it is upon the throne there, and gives
law to the affections and passions,--when it enters into the
heart as the leaven into the dough, to diffuse its relish there,
and to change it into its own image--then it is likely to do us good.
(2.) When we have delight in it, when knowledge becomes pleasant to
the soul: "When thou beginnest to relish it as the most agreeable
entertainment, and art subject to its rules, of choice, and with
satisfaction,--when thou callest the practice of virtue, not a slavery
and a task, but liberty and pleasure, and a life of
serious godliness the most comfortable life a man can live in this
world,--then thou wilt find the benefit of it." Though its restraints
should be in some respects unpleasant to the body, yet even those must
be pleasant to the soul. When it has come to this, with us,
discretion shall preserve us and keep us. God keeps the way
of his saints
by giving them discretion to keep out of harm's way, to keep themselves
that the wicked one touch them not. Note, A principle of grace
reigning in the heart will be a powerful preservative both against
corruptions within and temptations without,
2. More particularly, wisdom will preserve us,
(1.) From men of corrupt principles, atheistical profane men, who make
it their business to debauch young men's judgments, and instil into
their minds prejudices against religion and arguments for vice: "It
will deliver thee from the way of the evil man
and a blessed deliverance it will be, as from the very jaws of death,
from the way in which he walks, and in which he would persuade
thee to walk." The enemy is spoken of as one
an evil man, but afterwards as many
there is a club, a gang of them, that are in confederacy against
religion, and join hand in hand for the support of the devil's kingdom
and the interests of it.
[1.] They have a spirit of contradiction to that which is good: They
speak froward things; they say all they can against religion,
both to show their own enmity to it and to dissuade others from it.
They are advocates for Satan; they plead for Baal, and pervert the
right ways of the Lord. How peevishly will profane wits argue for
sin, and with what frowardness will they carp at the word of God!
Wisdom will keep us either from conversing with such men or at least
from being ensnared by them.
[2.] They are themselves apostates from that which is good, and such
are commonly the most malicious and dangerous enemies religion has,
They leave the paths of uprightness, which they were trained up
in and had set out in, shake off the influences of their education, and
break off the thread of their hopeful beginnings, to walk in the
ways of darkness, in those wicked ways which hate the light, in
which men are led blindfold by ignorance and error, and which lead men
into utter darkness. The ways of sin are ways of darkness,
uncomfortable and unsafe; what fools are those that leave the plain,
pleasant, lightsome paths of uprightness, to walk in those ways!
[3.] They take a pleasure in sin, both in committing it themselves and
in seeing others commit it
They rejoice in an opportunity to do evil, and in the
accomplishment and success of any wicked project. It is sport to fools
to do mischief; nor is any sight more grateful to them than to see
the frowardness of the wicked, to see those that are hopeful
drawn into the ways of sin, and then to see them hardened and confirmed
in those ways. They are pleased if they can discern that the devil's
kingdom gets ground (see
such a height of impiety have they arrived at.
[4.] They are resolute in sin
Their ways are crooked, a great many windings and turnings to
escape the pursuit of their convictions and break the force of them;
some sly excuse, some subtle evasion or other, their deceitful hearts
furnish them with, for the strengthening of their hands in their
wickedness; and in the crooked mazes of that labyrinth they secure
themselves from the arrests of God's word and their own consciences;
for they are froward in their paths, that is, they are resolved
to go on in them, whatever is said against it. Every wise man will
shun the company of such as these.
(2.) From women of corrupt practices. The former lead to spiritual
wickednesses, the lusts of the unsanctified mind; these lead to
fleshly lusts, which defile the body, that living temple, but
withal war against the soul. The adulteress is here called
the strange woman, because no man that has any wisdom or
goodness in him will have any acquaintance with her; she is to be
shunned by every Israelite as if she were a heathen, and a stranger to
that sacred commonwealth. A strange woman indeed! utterly estranged
from all principles of reason, virtue, and honour. It is a great mercy
to be delivered from the allurements of the adulteress, considering,
[1.] How false she is. Who will have any dealings with those that are
made up of treachery? She is a strange woman; for, First, She is
false to him whom she entices. She speaks fair, tells him how much she
admires him above any man, and what a kindness she has for him; but she
flatters with her words; she has no true affection for him, nor
any desire of his welfare, any more than Delilah had of Samson's. All
she designs is to pick his pocket and gratify a base lust of her own.
Secondly, She is false to her husband, and violates the sacred
obligation she lies under to him. He was the guide of her youth;
by marrying him she chose him to be so, and submitted herself to his
guidance, with a promise to attend him only, and forsake all others.
But she has forsaken him, and therefore it cannot be thought
that she should be faithful to any one else; and whoever entertains her
is partaker with her in her falsehood. Thirdly, She is false to
God himself: She forgets the covenant of her God, the
to which God is not only a witness, but a party, for, he having
instituted the ordinance, both sides vow to him to be true to each
other. It is not her husband only that she sins against, but her God,
who will judge whoremongers and adulterers because they despise
the oath and break the covenant,
[2.] How fatal it will prove to those that fall in league with her,
Let the sufferings of others be our warnings. Take heed of the sin of
whoredom; for, First, The ruin of those who are guilty of it is
certain and unavoidable, if they do not repent. It is a sin that has a
direct tendency to the killing of the soul, the extinguishing of all
good affections and dispositions in it, and the exposing of it to the
wrath and curse of God and the sword of his justice. Those that live in
forbidden pleasures are dead while they live. Let discretion preserve
every man, not only from the evil woman, but from the evil house, for
the house inclines to death; it is in the road that leads
directly to eternal death; and her paths unto Rephaim, to the
giants (so some read it), the sinners of the old world, who,
living in luxury and excess of riot, were cut down out of time, and
their foundation was overthrown with a flood. Our Lord Jesus deters us
from sinful pleasures with the consideration of everlasting torments
which follow them. Where the worm dies not, nor is the fire
Secondly, Their repentance and recovery are extremely hazardous:
None, or next to none, that go unto her, return again. It
is very rare that any who are caught in this snare of the devil recover
themselves, so much is the heart hardened, and the mind blinded, by the
deceitfulness of this sin. Having once lost their hold of the paths
of life, they know not how to take hold of them again, but are
perfectly besotted and bewitched with those base lusts. Many learned
interpreters think that this caution against the strange woman,
besides the literal sense, is to be understood figuratively, as a
1. Against idolatry, which is spiritual whoredom. Wisdom will keep
thee from all familiarity with the worshippers of images, and all
inclination to join with them, which had for many ages been of such
pernicious consequence to Israel and proved so to Solomon himself.
2. Against the debauching of the intellectual powers and faculties of
the soul by the lusts and appetites of the body. Wisdom will keep thee
from being captivated by the carnal mind, and from subjecting the
spirit to the dominion of the flesh, that notorious adulteress which
forsakes its guide, violates the covenant of our God,
which inclines to death, and which, when it has got an
undisturbed dominion, makes the case of the soul desperate.
II. This wisdom will be of use to guide and direct us in that which is
That thou mayest walk in the way of good men. We must avoid the
way of the evil man, and the strange woman, in order that
we may walk in good ways; we must cease to do evil, in order
that we may learn to do well. Note,
1. There is a way which is peculiarly the way of good men, the way in
which good men, as such, and as far as they have really been such, have
2. It will be our wisdom to walk in that way, to ask for the good old
way and walk therein,
And we must not only walk in that way awhile, but we must keep it, keep
in it, and never turn aside out of it: The paths of the
righteous are the paths of life, which all that are wise, having
taken hold of, will keep their hold of. "That thou mayest imitate those
excellent persons, the patriarchs and prophets (so bishop Patrick
paraphrases it), and be preserved in the paths of those
righteous men who followed after them." We must not only choose our
way in general by the good examples of the saints, but must also take
directions from them in the choice of our particular paths; observe the
track, and go forth by the footsteps of the flock. Two reasons are
here given why we should thus choose:--
(1.) Because men's integrity will be their establishment,
It will be the establishment,
[1.] Of their persons: The upright shall dwell in the land,
peaceably and quietly, as long as they live; and their uprightness will
contribute to it, as it settles their minds, guides their counsels,
gains them the good-will of their neighbours, and entitles them to
God's special favour.
[2.] Of their families: The perfect, in their posterity,
shall remain in it. They shall dwell and remain for ever in the
heavenly Canaan, of which the earthly one was but a type.
(2.) Because men's iniquity will be their destruction,
See what becomes of the wicked, who choose the way of the
evil man; they shall be cut off, not only from heaven
hereafter and all hopes of that, but from the earth now, on
which they set their affections, and in which they lay up their
treasure. They think to take root in it, but they and their families
shall be rooted out of it, in judgment to them, but in mercy to
the earth. There is a day coming which shall leave them neither root
Let that wisdom then enter into our hearts, and be pleasant
to our souls, which will keep us out of a way that will end