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PROVERBS “A wise man will hear, and will increase learning;
and a man of understanding will attain unto wise counsels.” —Proverbs 1:5 Charles Bridges (1794-1869) Exposition of the Book of Proverbs (selected verses) Contents Chapter 1:7 Wisdom
Chapter 1:10-16 Stand against Temptation
Chapter 2:1-6 Study the Word
Chapter 2:10-11 Wisdom Preserves
Chapter 2:20-22 Wisdom: Blessings and Warnings
Chapter 3:5-6 Beware of Self
Chapter 3:11-12 Chastening
Chapter 3:35 The Inheritance of the Wise
Chapter 4:14-17 Avoid Temptation
Chapter 4:19 Spiritual Darkness
Chapter 6:16-19 Seven Things the Lord Hates
Chapter 8:17 Seek Him Early
Chapter 10:17 Heed Instruction
Chapter 10:30 The Righteous and the Wicked
Chapter 12:15 The Fool
Chapter 12:17 Lying
Chapter 12:24 Slothfulness
Chapter 20:6 Self-Deceit
Chapter 26:4-5 Wise Answers
Chapter 28:13 Confession
Bridge’s Proverbs is “The best work on the Proverbs. While explaining the passage in hand, he sets other portions of the Word in new lights.”—C.H. Spurgeon “While other parts of Scripture show us the glory of our high calling, this book may instruct us in all minuteness of detail how to “walk worthy” of it (Col 1:10). We see the minuteness of our Christian obligations; that there is not a temper, a look, a word, a movement, the most important action of the day, the smallest relative duty, in which we do not either deface or adorn the image of our Lord, and the profession of His name. Surely if the book conduced to no other end, it tends to humble even the most consistent servant of God, in consciousness of countless failures. The whole book is a mirror for us all, not only to show our defects, but also [as] a guidebook and directory for godly conduct.”—Charles Bridges, from the Preface, 1846 Charles Bridges (1794-1869) was one of the leaders of the evangelical movement in the Church of England in the mids.He was Vicar of Old Newton, Suffolk, from 1823 to 1849, and later of Weymouth and Hinton Martell in Dorset. Bridges is known for both literary work such as The Christian Ministry and his expositions, which include Ecclesiastes and Psalm 119 as well as Proverbs.
PROVERBS Chapter 1:7 – Wisdom
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge:
but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
The preface has stated the object of this Book of Wisdom. The book itself now opens with a noble sentence. “There is not,” as Bishop Patrick observes, “such a wise instruction to be found in all their books [speaking of Heathen ethics], as the very first of all in Solomon’s, which he lays as the ground of all wisdom.” The fear of the Lord is the beginning of Preface to his Paraphrase.
knowledge. So Job had pronounced before (Job 28:28). So had the wise man’s father (Psa 111:10). Such is the weight of this saying, that Solomon again repeats it (Pro 9:10). Nay, after having gone round the whole circuit, after having weighed exactly all the sources of knowledge, his conclusion of the whole matter is this: that the fear of God in its practical exercise “is the whole of man” (Ecc 12:13; cp. Job 28:12-14, with 28)—all his duty, all his happiness, his first lesson and his last. Thus, when about to instruct us from the mouth of God, he begins at the beginning, the principal part. All heathen wisdom is but folly. Of all knowledge, the knowledge of God is the principal. There is no true knowledge without godliness (cp. Deu 4:6, 7).
But what is this fear of the Lord? It is that affectionate reverence, by which the child of God bends himself humbly and carefully to his Father’s law. His wrath is so bitter, and his love so sweet; that hence springs an earnest desire to please him, and—because of the danger of coming short from his own weakness and temptations—a holy watchfulness and fear, “that he might not sin against Him” (Heb 12:28, 29). This enters into every exercise of the mind, every object of life (Pro 23:17). The oldest proficient in the Divine school seeks a more complete molding into its spirit. The godly parent trains up his family under its influence (Gen 18:19; Eph 6:4). The Christian scholar honors it as the beginning, the head, of all his knowledge; at once sanctifying its end, and preserving him from its most subtle temptations.
Why then do multitudes around us despise wisdom and instruction? Because the beginning of wisdom—the fear of God—is not “before their eyes” (Psa 36:1). They know not its value. They scorn its obligation. Wise they may be in their own sight. But surely God here gives them their right name. For fools they must be, to despise such a blessing (Jer 8:9); to rush into willful ruin (Pro 1:22, 24-32; cp. 1Sa 2:25; 1Ki 12:13; Jer 36:22-32); to treasure up work for despairing repentance (Pro 5:12, 13; 29:1).
Good Lord! May thy childlike fear be my wisdom, my security, my happiness!
Chapter 1:10-16 – Stand against Temptation My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not. If they say, Come with us, let us lay wait for blood, let us lurk privily for the innocent without cause: Let us swallow them up alive as the grave;
and whole, as those that go down into the pit: We shall find all precious substance, we shall fill our houses with spoil: Cast in thy lot among us; let us all have one purse: My son, walk not thou in the way with them; refrain thy foot from their path: For their feet run to evil, and make haste to shed blood.
Let the young hearken to the instruction and law of the godly parent and minister. Who that has the charge of youth does not mourn over the baneful influence of evil companions? Would that the Lord’s servants were as energetic in His work, as sinners are in furthering the ends of their master! Almost as soon as Satan became apostate, he became a tempter.
And most successfully does he train his servants in this work. (Pro 16:29; Gen 11:4; Num 31:16; Isa 56:12). If sinners entice thee.
This is no uncertain contingency, “My son”, said the wise son of Sirach, “if thou come to serve the Lord prepare thy heart for temptation” (Apocrypha Book of Ecclesiasticus 2:1). Yet we have one rule against all manifold enticements (Pro 7:5-23; cp. Deu 13:6Ch 21:1; 1Ki 13:15-19)—Consent thou not. Consent constitutes the sin. Eve consented, before she plucked the fruit (Gen 3:6);
David, before he committed the act of sin (2Sa 11:2-4; cp. Jos 7:21). Joseph resisted and was saved (Gen 39:8, 9). Job was sorely tried; “yet in all this, Job sinned not” (Job 1:22; 2:10). If the temptation prevail, charge it not on God; no—nor on the devil. As the worst he can do, he can only tempt, he cannot force us, to sin. When he has plied us with his utmost power, and most subtle artifice, it is at the choice of our own will, whether we yield or no (see Jam 1:13-15). The habitual resistance of the will clears us of responsibility (cp. Rom 7:14-17, 19, 20, 23). The consent, even if it be not carried out into the act, lays the responsibility at our own door.
The enticement here was to robbery and blood; covetousness leading to murder. Most fiendish was the plot. The innocent was to be murdered without cause (Gen 4:8; Psa 10:8), swallowed up alive and whole; like Korah and his company, going down into the pit in their full strength (Num 16:33). The invitation at first was seemingly harmless: only come with us. Soon the demand rises: Cast in thy lot with us. “But we shall be discovered.” “No,” they reply, “we will do all so cleverly, that there will be no more blood to be seen, than if the earth swallowed them up; or they died a natural death, and were decently buried.” The spoil of precious substance will be found, when our victim is destroyed (cp. Mat 21:38). Precious substance! Why!
This is as large a promise, as that from the mouth of the Son of God (Pro 8:21). But how can substance be found belonging to a world of shadows (Psa 39:6)? Much more, how can the fruit of robbery be precious, with the curse of God (Pro 21:6; Psa 62: 9, 10)?
Not that this horrible plot is usually propounded at first. But step by step, unless the Lord graciously restrains, it may come to this at last. The cover and varnish are here taken off, to show what sin is in its nature, character, and certain end.
cp. – compare.
baneful – life destroying; destructive to well-being.
The Apocrypha – books of ancient Hebrew writings, which are not a part of the canon of Scripture, the inspired Word of God. Many scholars consider them valuable as ancient texts for study.
artifice – cunning; trickery.
Cartwright. But see Gen 4:10; 2Ki 9:26.
propounded – put forward for consideration.
What young man but would shudder and start away from the wickedness, if presented to his imagination alone? But many a deluded sinner is thus hurried on by the influence of company to lengths of sin, that he had never contemplated. Other enticements are prepared for the amiable and the uninitiated, just entering into life; less fearful and obvious, and therefore more really dangerous. Such “advantage does Satan get of us…ignorant of his devices” (2Co 2:11)!
Is it safe then to trust in our good resolutions or principles? No—Walk not in the way with them. The invitation is: Come with us. The warning is Refrain thy foot from their path (Pro 4:14, 15; cp. Psa 1:1). Avoid parleying8 with them. No one becomes a profligate at once. But “evil communications corrupt good manners” (1Co 15:33). The tender conscience becomes less sensitive by every compliance. Who can stop himself in the downhill road? One sin prepares for another, pleads for it, nay, even makes it necessary for concealment. David committed murder to hide his adultery, and for his covering charged it upon the providence of God (2Sa 11:4, 17, 25).
Again then, we repeat with all earnestness, Refrain. The path may be strewed with flowers; but it is a path of evil, perhaps of blood. Every step on Satan’s ground deprives us of the security of the promises of God. Often has ruin followed by not refraining from the first step (cp. Mar 14:54, 71). The only safety is in flight (Gen 39:10, 12). Run then into “thy hiding-place, and behind thy shield,” and boldly bid thy tempter “depart from thee” (Psa 119:114, 115; cp. Mat 4:10). Awful is the thought! There is not a sin that the highest saint of God may not commit, if trusting in himself. “Thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear” (Rom 11:20).
Chapter 2:1-6 – Study the Word My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee; So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures;
Then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.
Wisdom, having solemnly warned rebellious scorners, now instructs her dutiful children. The dark question long before asked—“Where shall wisdom be found?” (Job 28:12, 20, 21)—is now answered. It is here set before us as the fear and knowledge of God (Pro 2:5); a principle of practical godliness (Pro 2:7-9); a preservation from besetting temptations (Pro 2:10-19); and a guide into the right and safe path (Pro 2:20). Hence follow the security of its scholars (Pro 2:21), and the certain ruin of its ungodly despisers (Pro 2:22).
The rules for its attainment are such as the simplest comprehension can apply. Carefully pondered, and diligently improved, they will furnish a key for the understanding of the whole Word of God. Let us examine them more distinctly.
Receive my words. Let them be “the seed cast into the ground of an honest and good heart” (Luk 8:15), a heart prepared of God (Pro 16:1). Read the Book of God as one who “sat at the feet of Jesus, and heard His word” (Luk 10:39). Like the Bereans, “receive it with all readiness” (Act 17:11); like the Thessalonians, with reverential faith, acknowledging its supreme authority (1Th 2:13). Hide my commandments with thee. Carry them about with thee as thy choicest treasure for greater security (Col 3:16, with Mat 13:44); as thy furniture always at hand for present use (Pro 4:20, 21; 7:3; Job 22:22). Let the heart be the hiding-place for the treasure (Luk 2:19, 51; Psa 119:11). Satan can never snatch it thence.
But there must be an active, practical habit of attention. Yet to incline the ear, and apply the heart—“who is sufficient for these things” (2Co 2:16)? Oh, my God! let it be Thine own work on me—in me. Thou alone canst do it. Let it be with me, as with Thy Beloved Son: “Waken my ear morning by morning to hear as the learned” (Isa 50:4). So let me under Thy grace, “incline mine ear, and hear, that my soul may live” (Isa 55:3).
Without this spirit of prayer, there may be attention and earnestness, yet not one spiritual impression upon the conscience, not one ray of Divine light in the soul. Earthly wisdom is gained by study; heavenly wisdom by prayer. Study may form a Biblical scholar; prayer puts the heart under a heavenly tutorage, and therefore forms the wise and spiritual Christian. The Word first comes into the ears; then it enters into the heart; there it is safely hid; thence rises the cry, the lifting up of the voice. Thus, “the entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple” (Psa 119:130). God keeps the key of the treasure house in His own hand. “For this He will be enquired of” (Eze 36:37) to open it unto thee. We look for no other inspiration than Divine grace to make His Word clear and impressive. Every verse read and meditated on parleying – having a discussion.
profligate – a person with extremely low morals.
strewed – scattered on the ground.