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Bible Commentaries

Matthew Poole's English Annotations
on the Holy Bible

Proverbs 8

 

 

Verse 1

PROVERBS CHAPTER 8

Wisdom’s fame, call, and exhortation, Proverbs 8:1-9. Her excellency, nature, and hatred of evil, Proverbs 8:10-13. Her power, Proverbs 8:14-16; and love to the godly, Proverbs 8:17. Her riches, Proverbs 8:18,19. Her eternity, Proverbs 8:20-30. Her delight in the children of men, Proverbs 8:31. An exhortation to true wisdom, Proverbs 8:32,33; and the blessedness of them that are truly wise, Proverbs 8:34,35. The fruits of sin, Proverbs 8:36.

It is a great question what this wisdom is, of which Solomon discourseth so largely and profoundly in this chapter. Some understand it of that attribute or perfection of the Divine nature which is called wisdom, whereby God perfectly knoweth all things, and maketh known to men what he judgeth necessary or expedient for them to know. Others understand it of the second person in the Godhead, the Son of God, who is called the Wisdom of God, Luke 11:49. And it cannot fairly be denied that some passages do best agree to the former, and others to the latter opinion. Possibly both may be joined together, and the chapter may be understood of Christ, considered partly in his personal capacity, and partly in regard of his office, which was to impart the mind and will of God to mankind, which he did,

1. By revealing it to and writing it upon the mind of man at his first creation; for it was Christ who then gave being, and life, and light to mankind, as is undeniably evident from John 1:1-4, &c.

2. By publishing it unto the holy patriarchs and prophets in the time of the Old Testament; for it was Christ who spake and discovered things to them from time to time, as is manifest from 1 Peter 1:11 3:18-20, and from many other scriptures, both of the Old Testament, as I have formerly noted in their proper places, and in the New Testament, as we shall see hereafter.

3. By declaring it from his own mouth, and by his apostles and ministers under the gospel.

Put forth her voice; clearly and audibly instruct men how to avoid those fleshly lusts. He opposeth the inviting words of wisdom to the seducing speeches of the harlot.


Verse 2

In the top of high places, where she may be best seen and heard; not in corners and in the dark, as the harlot did. In the places of the paths; where many paths meet, where there is a great concourse, and where travellers may need direction.


Verse 3

At the gates; the places of judgment, and of the confluence of people. At the entry of the city, to invite passengers at their first coming, and to conduct them to her house.

At the coming in at the doors, to wit, of her house, as the harlot stood at her door to invite lovers:


Verse 4

To all men without exception, even to the meanest, who are thus called, Psalms 49:2.


Verse 5

Ye simple; who want knowledge and experience, and are easily deceived.

Ye fools; wilful and obstinate sinners.


Verse 6

Of excellent things, Heb. of princely things, worthy of princes to learn and practise them; or such as excel common things as much as princes do ordinary persons.


Verse 7

Shall speak, Heb. shall meditate, i.e. shall speak not rashly and hastily, but what I have well considered and digested.

Is an abomination to my lips: I hate to speak it; therefore you may be assured that I shall not deceive you.


Verse 8

All the words of my mouth; all my precepts, promises, threatenings, &c.

Nothing froward or perverse in them; not the least mixture of vanity, or error, or folly in them, as there is in the words of the wisest philosophers, &c.


Verse 9

Plain; evident and clear to their minds; or, right, just and good.

To him that understandeth; either to him who with an honest mind applies himself to the study of them in the diligent use of all the means appointed by God to that end; or to him whose mind God hath enlightened by his Spirit, though they seem otherwise to ignorant and carnal-minded men.

That find knowledge; that are truly wise and discerning persons, and taught of God.


Verse 10

And not silver, i.e. rather than silver, as such negative expressions are understood, Genesis 45:8 Exodus 16:8 Jeremiah 7:22 16:14,15, and in many other places. Though withal he seems to intimate the inconsistency of these two studies and designs, and the great hinderance which the love of riches gives to the study of wisdom.


Verse 12

Dwell with prudence; I do not content myself with high speculations, but my inseparable companion is prudence, to govern all my own actions, and to direct the actions of others, by good counsels. This he saith, because some persons have much wit and knowledge, and nothing of discretion.

Find out knowledge, i.e. I know them as clearly and certainly as if I had found them out by diligent searching. Or, I find out, is put for I help men to find out, as the Spirit is said to intercede, Romans 8:26, when it helpeth us to do so.

Of witty inventions; of all ingenious designs and contrivances for the service and glory of God, and for the good of ourselves and others. But why may it not be rendered, of wicked devices, as this very word is translated, Proverbs 12:2 14:17 24:8? For surely this is one great work of prudence, to discover, and so avoid, all evil counsels or devices, and the effects of them. But this I propose with submission, because I have not the concurrence of any interpreter in this exposition.


Verse 13

The fear of the Lord; which he had before noted to be the beginning of wisdom, Proverbs 1:7.

Is to hate evil; it consists in a careful abstinence from all sin, and that not from carnal or prudential motives, but from a true dislike and hatred of it.

Pride; which he mentions first, as that which is most hateful to God, and most opposite to true wisdom and to the fear of God, which constantly produce humility.

The evil way; all wicked actions, especially sinful custom: and courses.

The froward mouth; false doctrines, and bad counsels and deceits.


Verse 14

Sound wisdom: all solid, and substantial, and useful, yea essential wisdom, is natural and essential to me, for the word properly signifies essence.

I am understanding, or, my nature and essence, as was now said. Or, I am the author of understanding; as John 17:3. This is life eternal, i.e. this is the cause or means of it. I have strength courage and resolution to execute all my counsels, and to conquer all difficulties.


Verse 15

By me kings reign: either,

1. They get their kingdom by mine appointment and providence. Or rather,

2. They rule their kingdoms wisely, and justly, and happily, by my counsel and assistance; for this best suits with the next clause.

And princes decree justice: their injustice or wickedness is from themselves, but all the just and good thing: which they do they owe to my conduct.


Verse 17

I love them that love me; I do not despise their love though it be but a small and inconsiderable thing to me but I kindly accept it, and will recompense it with my love and favour.

That seek me early, i.e. with sincere affection, and great diligence, and above all other persons or things in the world; which he mentions as the effect and evidence of their love; for otherwise all men pretend to love God.


Verse 18

Which he mentions here, either,

1. As the best and surest way to get and to keep riches; for estates unjustly gotten quickly vanish, as is manifest both from Scripture and from common observation. Or,

2. To signify that this wisdom gives both worldly and spiritual or heavenly blessings together to its followers, whereas God gives riches alone to ungodly men, and they are to expect no other portion.


Verse 20

Keeping at an equal distance from both extremes, and from the very borders of them; which is called a

putting away iniquity far from us, Job 22:23.


Verse 21

Substance; substantial, and true, and satisfying happiness; which is here opposed to all worldly enjoyments which are said not to be, Proverbs 23:5; which are but mere shadows and dreams of felicity.


Verse 22

Possessed me, as his Son by eternal generation, who was from eternity with him, as is said, John 14:10; and in him, as he also was in me, John 14:10.

In the beginning; yea, and before the beginning, as it is largely expressed in the following verses.

Of his way; either,

1. Of his counsels or decrees. Or rather,

2. Of his works of creation, as it follows.


Verse 23

Set up, Heb. anointed; ordained or constituted to be the person by whom the Father resolved to do all his works, first to create, and then to uphold, and govern, and judge, and afterwards to redeem and save the world; all which works are particularly ascribed to the Son of God, as is manifest from John 1:1, &c.; Colossians 1:16,17 Heb 1:3, and many other places, as we may see hereafter in their several places.

From the beginning; before which there was nothing but a vast eternity.

Or ever the earth was; which he mentions, because this, together with the heaven, was the first of God’s visible works.


Verse 24

No depths; no abyss or deep waters, either mixed with the earth, as they were at first, or separated from it.

Brought forth; begotten of my Father’s essence.


Verse 25

Settled; or, fixed by their roots in the earth.


Verse 26

The earth, i.e. the dry land, called earth after it was separated from the waters, Genesis 1:10.

The fields; the plain and open parts of the earth, distinguished from the mountains and hills, and the valleys enclosed between them.

The highest part; or, the first part, or beginning; or, the best part, Heb. the head; that which exceeds other parts in riches or fruitfulness; which he seems to distinguish from the common fields.

Of the dust of the world; of this lower part of the world, which consisteth of dust.


Verse 27

I was there, not as an idle spectator, but as a co-worker with my Father.

Of the depth, i.e. of that great and deep abyss of water and earth mixed together, which is called both earth and water, and the deep, Genesis 1:2. When he made this lower world round, or in the form of a globe, agreeable to the form of the upper world.


Verse 28

Established, Heb. strengthened, by his word and decree, which alone upholds the clouds in the air, which of themselves are thin and weak bodies, and would quickly be dissolved or dispersed. When he strengthened the fountains; when he shut up the several fountains in the cavities of the earth, and kept them there as it were by a song hand for the use of mankind.

Of the deep; which have their original from the deep, either from the sea, or from the abyss of waters in the bowels of the earth.


Verse 29

His decree; or, his bound or limits, to wit, those parts of the earth which border upon it.

Not pass his commandment, i.e. not overflow the earth.

Appointed, or laid, the foundations o the earth; either,

1. The centre of the earth; or,

2. The earth itself, which is the foundation of the world; or rather,

3. The firm standing of the earth upon its foundations, notwithstanding all the assaults which the waters of the sea or within the earth make against it; which is a singular work of God’s providence.


Verse 30

By him; conversant with him, and united to him, as was said before.

As one brought up with him; as one tenderly and dearly beloved by him.

Rejoicing always before him; he and I had constant, and intimate, and sweet converse together.


Verse 31

Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; in contemplating the wonderful wisdom and goodness of God in the making and ordering of all his creatures, and of man especially.

My delights were with the sons of men, to uphold them by my power and providence, to reveal myself and my Father’s mind and will to them from age to age, to assume their nature, and to redeem and save them, which I would not do for the fallen angels.


Verse 32

Now therefore; seeing I have such a true love to you, and seeing I am so thoroughly acquainted with my Father’s mind, and so excellently qualified to be your Counsellor and Ruler.


Verse 33

Or, do not make it void or unprofitable to you by your own sloth or wilfulness.


Verse 34

As servants, and clients, and others wait at the doors of princes or persons of eminency for place, or power, or wisdom, that they may be admitted to speak or converse with them.


Verse 36

He that sinneth against me, by the neglect or contempt of or rebellion against my commands,

wrongeth his own soul; is guilty of self-murder and of soul-murder.

They that hate me, i.e. who reject and disobey my counsels, and live wickedly, which in God’s account is a hating of him, as is here implied and elsewhere, as Exodus 20:5 Deuteronomy 7:10 32:41.

Love death; not directly or intentionally, but by consequence, because they love those practices which they know will bring certain destruction upon them.

 


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Bibliography Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Proverbs 8:4". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/proverbs-8.html. 1685.

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