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12 For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son [in whom] he delighteth.
13 Happy [is] the man [that] findeth wisdom, and the man 14 [that] getteth understanding. For the merchandise of it [is] better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than 15 fine gold. She [is] more precious than rubies and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her; a comparison peculiarly beautiful, considering how great their com16 merce was in Solomon's days. Length of days [is] in her right hand; [and] in her left hand riches and honour; she comes to thee like a wealthy princess, with her hands full of blessinger 17 Her ways [are] ways of pleasantness, and all her paths [are] 18 peace; present peace and eternal rest. She [is] a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her; a principle of immortality and happiness, alluding to the tree of life in paradise: and happy [is every one] that retaineth her; which implies the difficulty of laying hold 19 of her, and of keeping that hold. The LORD by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath he established the heavens. 20 By his knowledge the depths are broken up, and the clouds drop down the dew, that is, the vapours arise from the sea and the earth, and furnish a supply of rain; intimating, that wisdom makes a man something like God, resembling him in knowledge and good21 ness. My son, let not them depart from thine eyes keep 22 sound wisdom and discretion: So shall they be life unto thy 23 soul, and grace to thy neck. Then shalt thou walk in thy way
safely, and thy foot shall not stumble; thou shalt go about thy 24 business comfortably and successfully. When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid; yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet; no anxious distracting cares or painful reflections 25 shall disturb thy repose. Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it cometh; of enemies and wicked 26 men, who are ready to lay all waste. For the LORD shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken by those who lie in wait to destroy thee. And if thou desirest that God should hear thy prayers, and help thee,
Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is 28 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; not only pay thy just debts, but be kind and liberal to those in distress; keep not any one in a cruel or unnecessary 29 suspense. Devise not evil against thy neighbour, against his person, property or reputation, seeing he dwelleth securely by thee, does not suspect thee, is off his guard, and therefore it were 30 greater baseness and wickedness to injure him. Strive not with a man without cause, if he have done thee no harm; do not go to law, or engage in quarrels, where there is no real or intended 31 injury, or none that is very great. Envy thou not the oppressor, 32 and choose none of his ways, though he thrives by them. For the froward [is] abomination to the LORD: but his secret [is] with the righteous; they are his friends and favourites. B
The curse of the LORD [is] in the house of the wicked 34 but he blesseth the habitation of the just. Surely he scorneth the scorners, will expose them to scorn and contempt: but he giveth grace unto the lowly, that is, favour with himself and with 35 men. The wise shall inherit glory, though they may be dissatis fied for a while but shame shall be the promotion of fools; shame shall render them conspicuous, and their folly will appear more remarkable and shameful by their exaltation.
HIS chapter is so full of excellent instructions for the conduct of life, that every verse suggests them. Let us particularly attend to the following remarks.
1. The happy consequences of getting wisdom, should excite us diligently to pursue it. Solomon was so sensible of the weakness of human nature, of the importance of gaining wisdom, and how necessary it was that this should be inculcated again and again upon young people, that he urges it by a variety of arguments. The knowledge and practice of piety and virtue conduce to the health of the body, the peace of the mind, to our living upon good terms with others, and being respected by them. It tends to our success in business, and adds an additional charm to all the comforts of life; above all, it ensures the favour of God. How justly then does Solomon represent this as the best trade and merchandise! Let us therefore apply our minds to religion, that we may find, by our own experience, the truth of these observations. Godliness hath the promise of the life which now is, and of that which is to come.
2. Humility and prayer are the best means of engaging the divine direction and blessing. The first maxim of importance to young people is, not to be wise in their own eyes, nor lean to their own understandings. Conceit makes them rash and contemptible, keeps them in ignorance, and makes them unwilling to submit to the rules and restraints of religion. But God giveth grace to the lowly, and therefore, sensible of our own weakness, let us trust in him; and by daily, serious prayer, acknowledge him in all our ways, especially in all affairs of difficulty and importance. We must not only believe that there is an overruling Providence, but seriously acknowl. edge it. Then will God direct us in the right way; and though we • meet with affliction in it, it will end well, in everlasting peace and joy.
3. Let us learn how we are to behave under the afflictions of life. The apostle quotes the eleventh verse of this chapter, in Heb. xii. 5. and calls it an exhortation that speaks to us as unto children. This is an important hint, viz. that all these exhortations speak to us, as well as to those for whose immediate use Solomon wrote them. May we not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor think lightly of it, or that it is not sent with a good design, and capable of being very useful. Nor must we be weary of it, or, as the apostle says, faint under it, though it may be long continued. Though it should
grow heavier and heavier, we ought not to murmur, nor take unlawful methods to remove it: we should not think it more than we need, or that it is continued longer than is for our good. All proceeds from love; it is not the sword of an enemy, but the rod of a father; that is, a token of his love, and the means of his children's happiness.
4. We are taught the surest and readiest way of thriving in the world. Hearken, ye men of trade, to the exhortation of the wisest man and the greatest trader that ever lived; the merchandise of avisdom is better than that of silver; and the gain thereof than fine gold. Honour the Lord with your substance; do good with it, relieving the poor, and supporting the interests of religion. Honour him with your increase as your substance increases, do the more good with it. This is the way to have his blessing, which maketh rich, and addeth no sorrow with it. When we have opportunities of doing good, we ought to embrace them quickly and readily; not bid our neighbour come again tomorrow. If he demand justice of us, a just debt, it is unjust to defer payment. If he solicit charity, it is barbarous to keep him in suspense; his wants may be urgent, and we may die before the morrow. Let us never study to find excuses for omitting or deferring to do good; for God loveth a cheerful giver.
5. We are here taught to guard against anxious fears; be not afraid of sudden fear, which is indeed apt to put a man into confusion, because he has not time to recollect himself. But this is a disposition we should strive against, for our own sakes, and the honour of religion. It is very weak to give way to every little alarm, or to believe every story which foolish and wicked men may spread. It is also very unbecoming those who profess to believe, that the Lord reigneth. Be not afraid of the desolation of the wicked when it cometh, much less when it is at a distance, and least of all when it is only suspected or rumoured. The Lord is the confidence of his people, and therefore they should not fear. But if they dis honour him and his providence by their unbelief, it may provoke him to give them up a prey to their own tormenting fears, and thus make their lives very miserable. Fear the Lord then and defart from evil, and fear nothing else.
Solomon here continues his exhortations to all, especially to young peopie, whom he addresses with the tender concern of a father.
HEAR, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend
to know understanding. For I give you good doctrine, not a trifling, indifferent matter, but what is absolutely necessary for your peace and happiness; forsake ye not my law. To recommend these instructions he relates that they were such as he received from his puous father, For I was my father's son, ten
4der and only [beloved] in the sight of my mother. He taught me also, and said unto me, Let thine heart retain my words: 5 keep my commandments, and live. Get wisdom, get under. standing, labour, traffic for it, that is, seek it as diligently as men do the wealth and honours of this world: forget [it] not; neither 6 decline from the words of my mouth. Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee: love her, and she shall keep thee, as thy sur• 7 est, strongest guard. Wisdom [is] the principal thing; [therefore] get wisdom and with all thy getting get understanding. 8 Exalt her, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to 9 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. Thus far he seems to repeat David's instruction to him ; 10 he then goes on, Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings; and 11 the years of thy life shall be many. I have taught thee in the 12 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; wisdom will deliver thee from intricacies and perplexities, which thou wouldst otherwise fall into. Religion is an easy and safe thing. A mind under the influence of irregular passions is straitened: as a man, whose shoe is too tight, is galled, and the speed, the ease, and the gracefulness of 13 his motion spoiled. Take fast hold of instruction; let [her] not 14 go keep her; for she [is] thy life. Enter not into the path 15 of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil [men.] Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away; a beautiful climax or gradation; stay not in the path, go not into it, even for a little while to make experiment; avoid entering upon it, come not near 16 it, go any other way rather than that. For they sleep not, except they have done mischief; and their sleep is taken away, unless they cause (some] to fall; they have no satisfaction till they have 17 accomplished their wicked designs. For they eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence; they subsist on ill gotten gain; wickedness is meat, drink, and sleep to them, all their 18 business and pleasure. But the path of the just [is] as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day; a wise man makes progress in religion, and he finds its pleasure increasing; as the rising sun shines brighter and brighter till it 19 comes to the perfection of its lustre. The way of the wicked [is] as darkness they know not at what they stumble; little accidents bring mischief upon them; events which they never thought of, and which there was no probability of their falling into.
My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my say. 21 ings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the 22 midst of thine heart. For they [are] life unto those that find
them, and health to all their flesh; a remedy under all their griefs 23 and troubles. Keep thy heart with all diligence, guard it more cautiously than any thing else; for out of it [are] the issues of life; the heart is the spring of action, and thy actions will be good or bad as thy heart iss and this care will end in life and happi
24 ness. Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee; every thing contrary to sobriety, charity, de 25 cency, and religion. Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee; let not thine attention ramble to every object, but keep one great end in view; and then go on 26 steadily and resolutely, without being diverted from it. Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established, or, all 27 thy ways shall be ordered aright. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left, shun all extremes, ( Eccl. vii. 16, 17.) remove thy foot from evil.
E here see the wisdom and advantage of giving good instructions to children. Solomon was tenderly beloved by his father and mother; and observe how they shewed their af fection, not by neglecting and humouring him, but by catechizing and instructing him. The true way in which parents ought to show their love to their children, is to teach them the excellency of wisdom and piety; to inculcate it upon them again and again, with warmth and importunity. The happy consequence of this will be, that they will be likely to remember their instructions, as Solomon did, and take care to impress them on their own children. It is an important argument for giving children a good education, that they will teach their children. Thus will religion be kept up in families, and in the world.
2. Let all, and especially young men, avoid evil company. How strongly does Solomon caution against this. If we knew that the plague was in a house, we should avoid it; not only not stay in it, but not go into it; we should not stand near it, nor pass by it, but go some other way. These expressions show the great danger there is of being entangled before we are aware; and what great caution is necessary. Let us shun then the society of the wicked, for a companion of fools shall be destroyed.
3. If we desire to be holy and happy, we must keep our hearts with all diligence; to begin with the government of the thoughts and affections, watch over the workings of the mind, and keep it with more care than any thing else. There is a very important reason given for this, for out of it are the issues of life. Our living well or ill depends upon this very thing; and our lives will either. be good or bad, as this watchfulness over the heart is kept up or neglected.
4. We see wherein true wisdom consists. What excellent rules for our conduct in this life and preparation for a better, are con tained in the close of this chapter! In choosing the right end, we should act with caution and deliberation; before we resolve on any action or scheme, let us view it narrowly, be exact and critical in considering its nature and consequences, then pursue it steadily, without wavering, or suffering other objects to interrupt us. By these methods we see men prosper in this world; and the like pru