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The Beginning of Knowledge

1The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel:

2To know wisdom and instruction,
to understand words of insight,
3to receive instruction in wise dealing,
in righteousness, justice, and equity;
4to give prudence to the simple,
knowledge and discretion to the youth—
5Let the wise hear and increase in learning,
and the one who understands obtain guidance,
6to understand a proverb and a saying,
the words of the wise and their riddles.

7The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and instruction.

The Enticement of Sinners

8Hear, my son, your father's instruction,
and forsake not your mother's teaching,
9for they are a graceful garland for your head
and pendants for your neck.
10My son, if sinners entice you,
do not consent.
11If they say, “Come with us, let us lie in wait for blood;
let us ambush the innocent without reason;
12like Sheol let us swallow them alive,
and whole, like those who go down to the pit;
13we shall find all precious goods,
we shall fill our houses with plunder;
14throw in your lot among us;
we will all have one purse”—
15my son, do not walk in the way with them;
hold back your foot from their paths,
16for their feet run to evil,
and they make haste to shed blood.
17For in vain is a net spread
in the sight of any bird,
18but these men lie in wait for their own blood;
they set an ambush for their own lives.
19Such are the ways of everyone who is greedy for unjust gain;
it takes away the life of its possessors.

The Call of Wisdom

20Wisdom cries aloud in the street,
in the markets she raises her voice;
21at the head of the noisy streets she cries out;
at the entrance of the city gates she speaks:
22“How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple?
How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing
and fools hate knowledge?
23If you turn at my reproof,11Or Will you turn away at my reproof?
behold, I will pour out my spirit to you;
I will make my words known to you.
24Because I have called and you refused to listen,
have stretched out my hand and no one has heeded,
25because you have ignored all my counsel
and would have none of my reproof,
26I also will laugh at your calamity;
I will mock when terror strikes you,
27when terror strikes you like a storm
and your calamity comes like a whirlwind,
when distress and anguish come upon you.
28Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer;
they will seek me diligently but will not find me.
29Because they hated knowledge
and did not choose the fear of the Lord,
30would have none of my counsel
and despised all my reproof,
31therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way,
and have their fill of their own devices.
32For the simple are killed by their turning away,
and the complacency of fools destroys them;
33but whoever listens to me will dwell secure
and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.”


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Pr 1:1-33. After the title the writer defines the design and nature of the instructions of the book. He paternally invites attention to those instructions and warns his readers against the enticements of the wicked. In a beautiful personification, wisdom is then introduced in a most solemn and impressive manner, publicly inviting men to receive its teachings, warning those who reject, and encouraging those who accept, the proffered instructions.

1-4. (See Introduction, Part I).

2. To know … instruction—literally, "for knowing," that is, such is the design of these writings.

wisdom—or the use of the best means for the best ends, is generally employed in this book for true piety.

instruction—discipline, by which men are trained.

to perceive—literally, "for perceiving," the design (as above)

understanding—that is, words which enable one to discern good and evil.

3. To receive … of wisdom—For receiving that discipline which discretion imparts. The Hebrew for "wisdom" differs from that of Pr 1:2, and denotes rather discreet counsel. Compare the opposite traits of the fool (Pr 16:22).

justice … equity—all the attributes of one upright in all his relations to God and man.

4. simple—one easily led to good or evil; so the parallel.

young man—one inexperienced.

subtilty—or prudence (Pr 3:21; 5:21).

discretion—literally, "device," both qualities, either good or bad, according to their use. Here good, as they imply wariness by which to escape evil and find good.

5, 6. Such writings the wise, who pursue right ends by right means, will value.

learning—not the act, but matter of it.

wise counsels—or the art and principles of governing.

6. To understand—so as to … such will be the result.

interpretation—(Compare Margin).

words of the wise—(Compare Pr 1:2).

dark sayings—(Compare Ps 49:4; Joh 16:25; and see Introduction, Part I).

7. The fear of the Lord—the principle of true piety (compare Pr 2:5; 14:26, 27; Job 28:28; Ps 34:11; 111:10; Ac 9:31).

beginning—first part, foundation.

fools—the stupid and indifferent to God's character and government; hence the wicked.

8. My son—This paternal form denotes a tender regard for the reader. Filial sentiments rank next to piety towards God, and ensure most distinguished rewards (compare Pr 6:20; Eph 6:2, 3).

9. On the figures of Pr 1:9, compare Ge 41:42; So 1:10; 4:9.

10-19. A solemn warning against temptation.

entice—literally, "open the way."

consent … not—Sin is in consenting or yielding to temptation, not in being tempted.

11-14. Murder and robbery are given as specific illustrations.

lay wait … lurk privily—express an effort and hope for successful concealment.

swallow … grave—utterly destroy the victim and traces of the crime (Nu 16:33; Ps 55:15). Abundant rewards of villainy are promised as the fruits of this easy and safe course.

15, 16. The society of the wicked (way or path) is dangerous. Avoid the beginnings of sin (Pr 4:14; Ps 1:1; 119:101).

17-19. Men warned ought to escape danger as birds instinctively avoid visibly spread nets. But stupid sinners rush to their own ruin (Ps 9:16), and, greedy of gain, succeed in the very schemes which destroy them (1Ti 6:10), not only failing to catch others, but procuring their own destruction.

20-33. Some interpreters regard this address as the language of the Son of God under the name of Wisdom (compare Lu 11:49). Others think that wisdom, as the divine attribute specially employed in acts of counsel and admonition, is here personified, and represents God. In either case the address is a most solemn and divine admonition, whose matter and spirit are eminently evangelical and impressive (see on Pr 8:1).

Wisdom—literally, "Wisdoms," the plural used either because of the unusual sense, or as indicative of the great excellency of wisdom (compare Pr 9:1).

streets—or most public places, not secretly.

21. The publicity further indicated by terms designating places of most common resort.

22. simple ones—(Compare Pr 1:4).

simplicity—implying ignorance.

scorners—(Ps 1:1)—who despise, as well as reject, truth.

fools—Though a different word is used from that of Pr 1:7, yet it is of the same meaning.

23. reproof—implying conviction deserving it (compare Joh 16:8, Margin).

pour out—abundantly impart.

my spirit—whether of wisdom personified, or of Christ, a divine agent.

24. stretched … hand—Earnestness, especially in beseeching, is denoted by the figure (compare Job 11:13; Ps 68:31; 88:9).

25. set at naught—rejected as of no value.

would none of—literally, "were not willing or inclined to it."

26, 27. In their extreme distress He will not only refuse help, but aggravate it by derision.

27. fear—the object of it.

desolation—literally, "a tumultuous noise," denoting their utter confusion.

destruction—or calamity (Pr 1:26) compared to a whirlwind, as to fatal rapidity.

distress—(Ps 4:1; 44:11).

anguish—a state of inextricable oppression, the deepest despair.

28. Now no prayers or most diligent seeking will avail (Pr 8:17).

29, 30. The sinner's infatuated rejection brings his ruin.

31. fruit … way—result of conduct (Isa 3:10; Eze 11:21; Ro 6:21; Ga 6:7, 8).

be filled—even to repletion (Ps 123:4).

32. turning away—that is, from the call of Pr 1:23.

simple—as in Pr 1:22.

prosperity—quiet, implying indifference.

33. dwell safely—literally, "in confidence" (De 12:10).

be quiet—or at ease, in real prosperity.

from fear—without fear.




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