The same subject is continued in this chapter as in the former; but with additional arguments. Here are many earnest exhortations to the exercise of the graces of the Holy Spirit, and the sad effects of a contrary conduct fully set forth.
Proverbs 3:1-4 My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee. Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man.
It was one of the great blessings of the covenant, that the Lord undertook to write his law in the minds and hearts of his people in the last days, whereby they should know him. And hence Solomon describes in these verses the blessing of such a state, and the comforts arising out of it. Jeremiah 31:31-34.
Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
Here is a divine precept, and a divine promise sweetly blended. And in many other parts of scripture we find the same confirmed. Isaiah 42:16; Psalms 55:22; 1 Peter 5:7.
Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones. Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.
If I do not mistake, here is a sweet reference to Christ in these verses. The first fruits offered to the Lord was to be all in faith. Thus Abel by faith offered a more excellent sacrifice than Cain. Hebrews 11:4. Every first fruit had certainly reference to Christ. The promise to this is striking. The barns and the wine presses shall not only recompense, but abound. It is most blessed to do all things by faith, for whatsoever is not of faith, is sin. Romans 14:23.
My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD neither be weary of his correction: For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.
The apostle quotes this passage in his epistle to the Hebrews, and makes a beautiful comment upon it. Hebrews 12:5-11. It is blessed to be altogether patient and passive under chastisements. Not with sullenness to receive them, for this would argue a mind determined not to bow to the rod, neither with faintings to sink under them, for this would imply unbelief and distrust, as though the Lord had forgotten to be gracious; but to receive all as the chastisements of a kind and wise father, who cannot mistake the welfare of his children, and is ordering all things for their good. Jesus hath said; As many as I love I rebuke and chasten. Revelation 3:19. They are chastisements, not vindictive punishments, not in a way of law judgment, for that hath been borne by Christ; but in a way of correction, to accomplish many blessed purposes in grace. Sweet thought, and ever to be kept alive in the heart.
Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold. She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her. Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honour. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is everyone that retaineth her.
There can be no question but that the attainment of Christ and all his blessings with him, and in him, must be the summit of happiness. And it is delightful to see in these verses how sweet the correspondence is between what is here said of finding wisdom, and what the gospel speaks of finding Christ. We have found him (said one that had through grace made this discovery) of whom Moses and the prophets did write, Jesus of Nazareth. John 1:45. He is the goodly pearl, which the wise merchant-man long sought, and when found, sold all that he had and bought. Matthew 13:45-46. And while all other pursuits, and all other attainments are found never to satisfy, but everlastingly disappoint; Jesus gives to them that seek and find him, durable riches and righteousness. Proverbs 8:18-19. Jesus is indeed the tree of life in the paradise of God, under whose shadow by faith, believers now sit and find the fruit sweet to their taste: and ere long they will sit down forever to enjoy his whole fulness by the river of life, in the kingdom of glory. Song of Solomon 2:3; Revelation 22:1-2.
The LORD by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath he established the heavens. By his knowledge the depths are broken up, and the clouds drop down the dew.
There is another confirmation of Christ's office-name as Wisdom, for the scriptures with one voice declare that the Lord created all things by Jesus Christ. Ephesians 3:9; Hebrews 1:2.
My son, let not them depart from thine eyes: keep sound wisdom and discretion: So shall they be life unto thy soul, and grace to thy neck. Then shalt thou walk in thy way safely, and thy foot shall not stumble. When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet.
These are all so many gracious lessons suited to a life of grace. The subject is still kept up and pursued under the idea of an adopted, regenerated son, in whose heart the Spirit witnesseth that he is born of God. Romans 8:16.
Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it cometh. For the LORD shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken. Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it. Say not unto thy neighbour, Go, and come again, and tomorrow I will give; when thou hast it by thee. Devise not evil against thy neighbour, seeing he dwelleth securely by thee. Strive not with a man without cause, if he have done thee no harm. Envy thou not the oppressor, and choose none of his ways. For the froward is abomination to the LORD: but his secret is with the righteous. The curse of the LORD is in the house of the wicked: but he blesseth the habitation of the just. Surely he scorneth the scorners: but he giveth grace unto the lowly. The wise shall inherit glory: but shame shall be the promotion of fools.
Here again, as before, the blessed practical effects of vital godliness, will appear by such evidences as are here set forth. And the termination of a life of grace, and a life of ungodliness, will invariably produce the different states here described.
READER! let us attend to the several very interesting subjects which arise out of this chapter, and by reading them in the sweet spirit of the gospel, to which they plainly refer, we shall through grace make no small improvement of them.
In the first place, while Solomon recommends such attention to the law as never to forget it; let us examine whether God the Father's promise is fulfilled in our experience, and he hath put his law in our inward parts and written it in our hearts. Oh! the blessed work of regeneration, when the heart of stone is taken away, and the heart of flesh given. And when the spirituality of God's law is so read and understood in the soul, that Christ is discovered to be the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth.
In the next place let us see to it, Reader, that we have such confidence, and such well grounded trust in God's mercy through Christ, as to commit everything for time and for eternity into his almighty hands; for this will be to honour him with our whole substance, and with the first fruits of all our increase.
And as a third improvement from this chapter, let us see to it, that as we eye the Lord in all his providences, so we never lose sight of his government in all his chastisements. Not to feel the rod, or not to suppose chastening to be grievous, would be unbecoming; and not to enquire into the causes of the Lord's affliction, would be to forget the improvement intended to be made from it; and not to pray for a deliverance from trouble would be unsuitable to our circumstances. But to bless God for his attention in sending the affliction - to justify the Lord in the appointment of it - to acknowledge that he is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works - and while the Lord is correcting, we are cleaving the closer to him; and to lean upon his promises, when matters are most dark and discouraging; this will be neither to despise his chastening, nor faint under the pressure.
Lastly and above all - while Solomon in this chapter recommends so earnestly, to find wisdom and to get understanding; let us see to it that nothing satisfies our souls short of the knowledge and attainment of Christ. He is the wisdom indeed, which in the possession of must make the soul truly happy. In the constitution of his person, the suitableness, and all-sufficiency of his salvation; his offices, characters, relations, the manifold wisdom of Jehovah is made known. Reader! may the Lord the Spirit impress it both upon your heart and mine, to find him who is truly and emphatically wisdom himself and we shall then enter into the full apprehension of those sweet scriptures, the merchandize of it is better than the merchandize of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Proverbs 3". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://pro.studylight.org/
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34