Bible Commentaries

Commentary by J.C.Philpot on select texts of the Bible

Proverbs 8

Verse 20

Proverbs 8:20

"I lead in the way of righteousness."Proverbs 8:20

How does the Lord Jesus—who speaks here under the name of Wisdom—lead his saints "in the way of righteousness?" By casting a mysterious light into their souls, whereby they see what the word of God has revealed, and shedding abroad a mysterious power in their hearts, whereby faith is created, to receive, lay hold of, and credit that which God has made known.

We may read the word of God forever in vain, unless that word is made life and light to our souls; but when the Lord the Spirit, whose covenant office and work it is to take of the things of Jesus and reveal them to the heart, sheds a mysterious and blessed light upon those Scriptures which speak of Jesus as the law-fulfiller, as having brought in a glorious righteousness, and at the same moment is pleased to raise up faith and power in the heart to receive, credit, embrace, and handle what he has thus revealed, then by his own persuasive power he leads the soul "in the way of righteousness." And O what a wonderful way it is! that God should ever find out such a way, as to make all his people righteous, by imputing to them another"s righteousness! It will be the wonder, the song of saints through all eternity; it will exhaust all the depths of their finite wisdom to look into these secrets of Wisdom of Solomon, love, and power.

Yes, the angels themselves, who so far exceed men in Wisdom of Solomon, are represented as "desiring to look into" these things, and therefore when the ark was made, and the mercy seat put over the tables which were inclosed therein, the seraphim were framed as looking down upon this golden mercy seat, representing how the height, breadth, length, and depth of these mysteries overpass even the faculties of the angels themselves.

"I lead in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment; that I may cause those that love me to inherit substance." Proverbs 8:20-21

Whence springs it, that God causes his people "to inherit substance," by "leading them in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment?" When he leads them first into the way of righteousness by opening up his holy law, it drives away all shadows. We had been heaping together, with great toil, chaff and hay and straw and stubble; we had been like the man spoken of in Scripture, who "dreamed, and behold! he ate, but he awoke and his soul was empty;" so we were dreaming our life away continually with shadows, with a name to live, with a formal religion, with a mere external show of godliness, content with a few ordinances and sermons, and thinking that these would shelter us in the day of wrath.

These were only shadows; of no more avail to deliver our souls from the wrath to come, than the shadowy form of a mountain in the morning sun. But when the Lord began "to lead us in the way of righteousness," these shadows vanished. Something was then needed to conciliate the favor of God; something was needed, whereby the soul could escape those piercing eyes that looked it through and through; and the soul began to look after "substance," needed realities, needed a voice within from the Lord himself, a testimony of his eternal favor, and a manifestation of his love. There was "substance" needed.

The soul began to "hunger and thirst after righteousness," to pant and long after the manifestation of Jesus" love, and to be restless and discontented and weary of everything short of the work and witness of the Holy Spirit. When the "mouth is stopped, and the soul has become guilty before God," it wants pardon, peace, mercy, blood, and love; nothing else can satisfy it, and after this it pants with unutterable longings.

And when Jesus leads his people "in the way of righteousness" by showing to them his glorious righteousness, they begin to "inherit the substance" after which they were panting. There is no substance under the law—it is but a preparing the soul to receive substance; it is emptying the soul that it may be filled; it is stripping the soul that it may be clothed; it is wounding the soul that it may be healed; bringing down the soul that it may be lifted up. But when he "leads in the way of righteousness," that wonderful way whereby the soul is justified by his imputed righteousness, he causes that soul to "inherit substance," to inherit it even now upon earth, to have a taste of it, the beginnings of it, the pledge of it, and the firstfruits of it.

Oh! what a dreamy, shadowy thing is a mere profession of religion! And what a delusive cheat is all the pleasure to be gained by sin! How it leaves a soul naked and bare, wounded, stripped, and guilty before God! We have often promised ourselves pleasure in sin; and what have we found? The wormwood and the gall. All the anticipated pleasure vanished; and its flight left us full of guilt and shame.

But if ever God indulged our souls with sweet communion with him, if ever he brought our affections to center in himself, if ever he melted our souls at his feet, if ever he blessed us with the communications of his eternal favor and distinguishing love, there was substance in that, there was weight, there was power, there was the foretaste and pledge of a never-ending eternity.

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Bibliographical Information
Philpot, Joseph Charles. "Commentary on Proverbs 8". Commentary by J.C.Philpot on select texts of the Bible.