This chapter hath much the same tendency as the former. It contains an exhortation to the pursuit of wisdom. And towards the close of the Chapter the sad effects of a contrary study is pointed out in strong characters.
Proverbs 4:1-2 Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding. For I give you good doctrine, forsake ye not my law.
There is but little variety in what is here said by way of enforcing what is taught, unless it be the consideration arising from the repetition of the request. But the tenderness of the Father is brought in by way of intimating both the expediency of the precept, and the real regard with which it is accompanied. And who can overlook, while reading it, the solicitude and love of God our Father, whose endearments are held forth to us under the sweet image of the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort. 2 Corinthians 1:3.
For I was my father's son, tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother. He taught me also, and said unto me, Let thine heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live. Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth. Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee: love her, and she shall keep thee. Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. Exalt her, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to honour, when thou dost embrace her. She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee.
If we pass over Solomon king of Israel, and contemplate Christ as mediator in what is here said, it will help the mind to very pleasing improvement. The love that God the Father had to the person of Christ as Mediator, is set forth in many parts of scripture; and indeed of itself it forms a blessed subject. Isaiah 42:1; John 10:17. I cannot think that Solomon had any reference to Bathsheba his mother in those words; neither, if read with an eye to Christ, did Jesus mean the Virgin Mary, the natural mother of Christ. But the church, whom Paul the apostle declares to be the mother of us all, is intended here, and consequently of Christ also after the flesh. ln proof read those scriptures. Galatians 4:26; Matthew 12:49-50.
Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings; and the years of thy life shall be many. I have taught thee in the way of wisdom; I have led thee in right paths. When thou goest, thy steps shall not be straitened; and when thou runnest, thou shalt not stumble. Take fast hold of instruction; let her not go: keep her; for she is thy life. Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men. Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away. For they sleep not, except they have done mischief; and their sleep is taken away, unless they cause some to fall. For they eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of violence.
We have here the same blessed instructions given in other words, with the motives which ought to prompt to the due attention which they so justly demand. And under the same idea that Christ is all along held forth as wisdom, nothing can be more suited to the pure truths of the gospel than what is here said.
But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble.
In these verses the contrast is finely drawn between the state of a justified soul in Christ, and the unawakened, unsanctified soul of the wicked. Jesus is both the light and the life of his people. And the progressive state of souls justified in his blood and righteousness, is like the advance of the morning to meridian brightness. But on the contrary, the darkness at which the ungodly stumble is growing to more and more darkness, where even the light is darkness. Job 10:22.
My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh. Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee. Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee. Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.
There is not much variety in these verses, but they contain the same wholesome admonitions. They are all in perfect conformity to the gospel precepts. And while they very strongly recommend an uniform attention to keep the heart with all diligence, they imply the necessity of looking to God to keep it, because Out of it are the issues of life. The apostle recommends diligence in the work of grace upon the same principle, because be saith, that it is God that worketh in us, both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Philippians 2:13.
How delightful is it to see the beautiful similitude the wise man adopts in this book of Proverbs, by way of recommending attention to this great subject of getting Wisdom and understanding. Beholding Christ as the pearl of great price, everyone engaged in the pursuit of getting him, may be justly compared to the wise merchant-man. The treasure is hidden in the field of the scripture and must be sought for, if obtained, with suited diligence, and earnestness of inquiry. And though it is without money and without price, freely given, and as freely to be enjoyed; yet like the merchant-man, there must be an early search, a daily enquiry, and a constant pursuit. Happy the souls that so search as to obtain and so seek as to find. In possessing him they possess all things, and find treasure that fadeth not away. Reader! have you found Christ? Is he the pearl of great price in your esteem? Oh! the blessedness of such a discovery! Jesus will be, as this sweet chapter expresseth it, an ornament of grace to the head, and a crown of glory will he deliver to them that love him. He saith himself, hold fast that which thou host; let no man take thy crown. Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Proverbs 4". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://pro.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany