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Notes on the Bible, by Albert Barnes, [1834], at

Proverbs Chapter 2

Proverbs 2:1

pro 2:1

Now in the divine order comes the promise Pro 2:5. The conditions of its fulfillment are stated in Pro 2:1-4 in four sets of parallel clauses, each with some shade of distinct meaning. Thus, not "receiving" only, but "hiding" or treasuring up - not the "ear" only, but the "heart" - not the mere "cry," but the eager "lifting up the voice."

Proverbs 2:4

pro 2:4

Note the illustrations.

(1) Contact with Phoenician commerce, and joint expeditions in ships of Tarshish (see Psa 72:10 note), had made the Israelites familiar with the risks and the enterprise of the miller's life. Compare Job 28:

(2) The treasure hidden in a field, is the second point of comparison. Such treasure-seeking has always been characteristic of the East. Compare Mat 13:44.

Proverbs 2:5

pro 2:5

The promise. The highest blessedness is to know God Joh 17:3. If any distinction between "the Lord" יהוה yehovâh and "God" אלהים 'elohı̂ym can be pressed here, it is that in the former the personality, in the latter the glory, of the divine nature is prominent.

Proverbs 2:6

pro 2:6

People do not gain wisdom by any efforts of their own, but God gives it according to the laws of His own goodness.

Proverbs 2:7

pro 2:7

Sound wisdom - "Soundness," an idea which passes on into that of health and safety. Compare "sound doctrine" in Ti1 1:10; Ti2 4:3.

Proverbs 2:8

pro 2:8

saints - The devout and God-fearing. Compare Psa 85:8 etc. The occurrence of the word here, in a book that became more and more prominent as prophetic utterances ceased, probably helped to determine its application in the period of the Maccabean struggles to those who especially claimed for themselves the title of "devout" (Chasidim, the ̓Ασιδαῖοι Asidaioi of 1 Macc. 7:13).

Proverbs 2:10

pro 2:10

Another picture of the results of living in the fear of the Lord. Not that to which it leads a man, but that from which it saves him, is brought into view. Notice also that it is one thing for wisdom to find entrance into the soul, another to be welcomed as a "pleasant" guest.

Proverbs 2:12

pro 2:12

The evil-doers here include not robbers and murderers only Pro 1:10-16, but all who leave the straight path and the open day for crooked ways, perverse counsels, deeds of darkness. "To delight etc." Pro 2:14 is the lowest depth of all.

Proverbs 2:16

pro 2:16

The second great evil, the warnings against which are frequent (see the marginal reference). Two words are used to describe the class.

(1) "The strange woman" is one who does not belong to the family, one who by birth is outside the covenant of Israel.

(2) "The stranger" is none other than a foreigner.

It is the word used of the "strange" wives of Solomon Kg1 11:1, Kg1 11:8, and of those of the Jews who returned from Babylon (Ezra 10; passim). The two words together, in connection with those which follow, and which imply at once marriage and a profession of religious faith, point to some interesting facts in the social history of Israel. Whatever form the sin here referred to had assumed before the monarchy (and the Book of Judges testifies to its frequency), the contact with Phoenicians and other nations under Solomon had a strong tendency to increase it. The king's example would naturally be followed, and it probably became a fashion to have foreign wives and concubines. At first, it would seem, this was accompanied by some show of proselytism Pro 2:17; but the old pagan leaven (influence) presently broke out; the sensual worship of other gods led the way to a life of harlotry. The stringent laws of the Mosaic code Lev 19:29; Lev 21:9; Deu 23:18 probably deterred the women of Israel from that sin, and led to a higher standard of purity among them than prevailed among other nations.

Most interpreters have, however, generalized the words as speaking of any adulteress. The Septuagint as if reluctant to speak of facts so shameful, has allegorized them, and seen in the temptress the personification of "evil counsel."

Proverbs 2:17

pro 2:17

The guide of her youth - Better, the familiar friend (compare Pro 16:28; Pro 17:9). The "friend" is, of course, the husband, or the man to whom the strange woman first belonged as a recognized concubine. Compare Jer 3:4

The covenant of her God - The sin of the adulteress is not against man only but against the Law of God, against His covenant. The words point to some religious formula of espousals. Compare Mal 2:14.

Proverbs 2:18

pro 2:18

The house of the adulteress is as Hades, the realm of death, haunted by the spectral shadows of the dead (Rephaim, see the Psa 88:10 note), who have perished there.

Proverbs 2:19

pro 2:19

The words describe more than the fatal persistency of the sinful habit when once formed. A resurrection from that world of the dead to "the paths of life" is all but impossible.

Proverbs 2:20

pro 2:20

The previous picture of shame and sin is brought before the disciple as an incentive to a better course.

Proverbs 2:21

pro 2:21

Noticeable here is the Hebrew love of home and love of country. To "dwell in the land" is (compare Exo 20:12; Lev 25:18, etc.) the highest blessing for the whole people and for individual men. contrast with it is the life of the sinner cut off from the land (not "earth") of his fathers.

Next: Proverbs Chapter 3