Proverbs, Chapter 2
In Chapter 1 we noted that “wisdom” speaks as a prophet, warning scoffers of the consequences of their attitude. And just as the prophets repeatedly warned the nations that their sin would lead them into destruction, so “wisdom” warns fools that their sin would lead to their death.
Now turning to Chapter 2 we have our fourth sermon introduced by “my son”, and here we are given several other benefits for receiving “wisdom.” It is one of the longest poems in Proverbs, and it aims to motivate students to seek wisdom. To accomplish that goal, it lists some of the desirable results of studying God’s Word.
- To find wisdom is to find God Himself, 6.
- It is to gain His protection, 7-11.
- Protection from the temptation to follow the perverse, (false teacher), 12-15.
- Protection from the adulteress (false teacher), 16-19.
To find wisdom is to find life, 20-21, whereas those who do not will perish, vs. 22.
This knowledge and protection; however, only comes through the deliberate and passionate pursuit of wisdom, Prov 1:1-4.
This Chapter is divided into two equal halves, Prov 2:1-11, 12-22.
The first half pertains to the “development” or production of the believer’s character. By internalizing God’s teaching, vs. 1-4, he will come to fear and know God, vs. 5-8, and to learn righteousness intuitively, vs. 9-11.
The second half pertains to the believer’s subsequent “deliverance” or protection from wicked men, vs. 12-15, and the wicked woman, vs. 16-19, and in this way to experience life, not death, vs. 20-22.
Therefore, the first half is for the development of the believer’s character, while the second half is for the defense against the wicked.
Chapter 2 is broken down by three “if” [‘IM – אִם] statements, that are 1st class “if” statements, (“if and you do”). The first is found in vs. 1-2, the second in vs. 3, and the third in vs. 4.
This is followed by three “then” [‘AZ – אָז] statements. The first is found in vs. 5-8, the second is found in vs. 9-11 and the third is found in the conclusion of vs. 20-22.
Included in the “then” statements are several explanatory couplets / distiches that begin with “for”, [KI – כִּי], which actual means “because.”
The first explanation, (explanatory couplet), is given in vs. 6-8, the second vs. 10-11, and third vs. 21-22, (which instead uses LE – לְ which can also mean “for or because.”)
Within each “then” statement, we have three parts:
The first summary is found in vs. 5, (spiritual education = “then understand”), the substantiation in vs. 6-7, (the Lord gives wisdom), the result in vs. 8, (Divine protection).
The second summary is found in vs. 9, (ethical education = “then understand”), the substantiation in vs. 10, (“wisdom” enters the heart), and the result in vs. 11 (character protection).
We will note the third summary, vs. 20-22, later on.
Of the two summaries the spiritual and ethical benefits of internalizing God’s Word are in view and are inseparable. They are based on the Lord’s revelation of the His Word Grace Apparatus for Perception (GAP), which enters the heart of the believer so that He has His Wisdom.
As such, through our vertical spiritual relationship and fellowship with the Lord and our horizontal ethical relationship with man, we are protected by God.
A personal relationship with the Lord, vs. 5-8, entails an intuitive understanding of what is right in human relationships, vs. 9-11.
Van Leeuwen notes that, “The movement from the Divine to the human is fundamental to Biblical faith, (e.g., Ex 20:1-7 followed by 20:8-11, and Mat 6:9-10 followed by 6:11-13). (Proverbs, 5:45)
The word pair of NATSAR “guard”, in vs. 8a, “watch over” in vs. 11b, and SHAMAR “preserves”, vs. 8b, “guard” in vs. 11a, tells us of God’s Divine protection and brings the first half to closure.
We will see similar poetic construction in the two object lesson warnings of vs. 12-15 and vs. 16-19.
Likewise, it is interesting to read each “if” statement with its corresponding “then” statement to see the various comparisons.
That is, compare vs. 1-2 with vs. 5; vs. 3 with vs. 9; and vs. 4 with vs. 20.
Finally, as noted vs. 12-15 are the first object lesson for application of wisdom and vs. 16-19 are the second object lessons.
Both are not only literal in application but spiritual regarding two examples of “false teachers” in contrast to the “good teacher”, (the Parent – God the Father), giving this advice.
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Proverbs 2:1-2, “My son, if you will receive my words And treasure my commandments within you, 2Make your ear attentive to wisdom, Incline your heart to understanding.”
In vs. 1-2, we have the first “if” statement which is followed by a Qal Imperfect verb that indicates the active stem with the imperfect tense of contingency and ongoing action. That means this is not a one-time deal, it is an action that we must continually do, over and over and over again.
In other words, it states, “If you will keep on receiving my sayings…. etc.”
There are two contingencies in these verses, doubly emphasized in this Tetrastich, that we must “keep on doing” for wisdom to have its results / benefits in our lives.
In vs. 1 we have:
1a) “Keep on receiving my sayings.”
“Receiving” is the Hebrew verb LAQACH, that means to “to take, lay hold of, grasp, seize, take away.”
This is having the discipline to continue to take in God’s Word on a regular and consistent basis.
1b) “Keep on treasuring my commandments within you.”
“Treasuring” is the Hebrew verb TASPHAN that means, “to hide, conceal or store.” It is used primarily for the purposes of protection and safety, or for sinister reasons (i.e., to lie in wait). Here it is the positive use.
“Concealment” for the purposes of safety and protection is seen in Ex 2:2, where Moses’ mother hid him for three months until she could do so no longer. Then, she nestled him in a basket and placed it in the river water.
In Psa 27:5, “For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; in the secret of His tabernacle He will hide me; He will set me up upon a rock.”
In our verse TASPHAN specifically means, “to store up or to hide treasure away.”
God stores up wisdom and knowledge for the upright, Prov 2:7, and the Psalmist values God’s word by storing it up in his heart, Psa 119:11.
Psa 119:11, “Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You.”
These two, (receiving and treasuring), combined are the function of the Grace Apparatus for Perception (GAP), which is the teaching ministry of God the Holy Spirit, Prov 1:23, that provides for us to hear, understand, and retain Bible doctrine.
Ultimately this is the process of storing and retaining God’s Word in the stream of consciousness within the six compartments of the heart of your soul.
Using the analogy of a filing cabinet it includes:
The Heart of your soul is like a filing cabinet with six compartments that make up the central resource center of your soul where you store and recall Bible doctrine.
The Frame of Reference: Is equivalent to the draws of the filing cabinet where you store information for easy access.
The Memory Center: Is the actual files or file folders you place within the cabinet. It is the actual storage of information within your soul.
Vocabulary Storage: Is analogous to the tabs or headings we put on files or file folders as a technical reference to the information within the file giving us easy access and recall.
Categorical Storage: Is the systematic grouping of reference material for application. How you arrange the files or file folders.
Conscience: The Norms and Standards of your soul, used as a basis of reference for the situations of life.
Launch Pad: The animated process of applying the information stored in your soul.
Faith Resting: Having launched Doctrinal information you leave it at that, trusting it and depending upon it in the details of life.
Cosmic Chaos: The believer who does not faith rest will instead have chaos in their soul.
Next we see the double emphasis to vs. 1 found in vs. 2.
2a) “Keep on making your ear attentive to wisdom.”
“Making attentive” adds the fact of being “attentive” to the “receiving” of vs. 1.
This is the Hebrew verb QASHAV, that means “to listen to” in the sense of “paying attention or obeying.” Sometimes it means “to be fully alert” as in Isa 32:3.
Isa 32:3, “Then the eyes of those who see will not be blinded, and the ears of those who hear will listen.”
Here it is in the Hiphil Infinitive which also connotes ongoing action and at times the Infinitive is used in place of an Imperative of command as it is here. Therefore, this command is to internalize the teaching of God’s Word that escalates the first command in Prov 1:8 from “hear”, to “accept”, Prov 2:1.
To pay attention to or obey God is the primary principle of a faith relationship with Him. And any claims of sacrifice and faith without obedience are futile, 1 Sam 15:22.
1 Sam 15:22, “Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed (pay attention to) than the fat.”
So “making … attentive” is to take in Bible doctrine through the ear gate and apply it to your life.
2b) “Keep on inclining your heart to understanding.”
“Inclining” is the verb NATAH that is also in the Hiphil Infinitive command. It means, “to stretch out, spread out, extend, incline, or bend.” Here it means “to turn aside the ear,” which means “to listen.”
To “incline the ear” means to begin listening. It points to an alteration in the present course of action.
Jeremiah accused the people of not inclining their ear, but instead they continued to walk in the stubbornness of their own heart, Jer 7:24, 26; 11:8.
Jer 7:24, “Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but walked in their own counsels and in the stubbornness of their evil heart, and went backward and not forward.”
Jer 7:26, “Yet they did not listen to Me or incline their ear, but stiffened their neck; they did more evil than their fathers.”
Jer 11:8, “Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but walked, each one, in the stubbornness of his evil heart; therefore I brought on them all the words of this covenant, which I commanded them to do, but they did not.”
As Jeremiah noted, the reversionist typically will not turn their attention to the Lord and receive His Word for healing.
The psalmist expressed his positive volition to Bible doctrine in Psa 49:4.
Psa 49:4, “I will incline my ear to a proverb; I will express my riddle on the harp.”
This is both intake “incline” and application “express” of God’s Word, See also Prov 4:2; 5:1; 22:17.
The four things we are to receive, treasure, attend, and incline toward in GAP are: Sayings, Commandments, Wisdom, and Understanding.
Sayings, [‘EMER] – “words or sayings”, the teaching of God’s principles.
Commandments, [MITSVAH] – Orders from God (His Law).
Wisdom, [CHOKMAH] – EPIGNOSIS Doctrine on the right lobe of your soul, the launching pad of the application of God’s Word.
Understanding, [TEBUNAH] – Learning the principles of discretion and reason to apply them skillfully in life.
The first “if” statement of vs. 1-2 exhorted us to utilize Grace Apparatus for Perception (GAP) to its fullest.
Proverbs 2:3-4, “For if you cry for discernment, Lift your voice for understanding; 4If you seek her as silver And search for her as for hidden treasures;”
Now, the second “if” statement in vs. 3, instructs us to pray for and give ourselves whole heartedly so that God’s wisdom would be resident within our souls. Then the third “if” statement of vs. 4 exhorts us to “seek” and “search” her out diligently.
In contrast to Wisdom’s warning in the previous sermon, Prov 1:20-33, we are to invite or summon Wisdom to come to us, vs. 3. This means that rather than wait for Wisdom to happen along, we pursue it, both in prayer and in practice.
In vs. 3 & 4 we have the calling out and seeking after of the second objective of this book in Prov 1:2b.
“For” – KI, “because or that”, marks the escalation from the somewhat passive reception of wisdom in vs. 1-2, to the aggressive initiation of a quest for it, vs. 3-4. Some translate KI here as “indeed” or “surely” to heighten the intention.
As wisdom calls out and lifts her voice, (makes herself available to all), Prov 1:20, so too the believer must cry out and lift his voice to receive her, Prov 2:3.
“Cry” is QARA and has several different meanings from, a vocal sound to contact someone, to the act of reading out loud, (especially scriptures, and therefore studying God’s word), to praying to God.
As a request for help from God, it is used in Psa 17:6, “I have called upon you, for you will hear me, O God.”
As for petitioning God for help see Zech. 13:9c, “They will call on My name, and I will answer them”.
So we have prayer in view, as well as the fact of reading / studying the scriptures. Prayer is such an important part for you to gain God’s Wisdom.
- First, you must be filled with the Holy Spirit in order to learn God’s Word, John 14:26, and therefore we must first pray to God utilizing 1 John 1:9 to be cleansed from any recent sin we commitment in order to be filled with the Spirit, cf., Eph 5:18, John 13:5-11.
- Secondly, anything we desire to have in the spiritual life, we should ask God to give it to us, including wisdom, understanding, discernment, etc., 1 John 5:14-15.
Just as the crippled man had to “stretch out” his withered hand in faith in order to be healed, Mark 3:5, so too, we must reach out to God in prayer in order to receive His wisdom. Likewise, it is vital that we spend time with the Lord in prayer, (whether it be petitions, intercessory, thanksgiving, glorification, etc.), if we desire to know Him.
And finally, “If you cry out” is the obedient son’s response to personified Wisdom, who likewise called out vainly to the fools in Prov 1:20-33.
In vs. 3b the “lift” in “lift your voice”, is NATHAN, as in Prov 1:20, and it means “to give” as in, to give of yourself to the reception of God’s Word as it is taught.
“Lift your voice” is to give of yourself in totality in the pursuit of God’s Word.
Deut 6:5, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”
Mark 12:30, “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.”
Therefore, a superficial once over of God’s Word will not cut it. Only after intense desire, earnest prayer, and diligent study, together with willingness to believe what God has said and obey what He has commanded, only then do we find the true knowledge of God.
This picture is like a husband and wife who are separated deep in the woods. The woman (Bible Doctrine) calls out for her mate (the believer), frantically looking to find him. At the same time, he too is diligently searching for her and cries out expectantly waiting to hear her response. As the two hear each other’s voice, they are drawn closer and closer together until intimately and joyously they are united as one.
The two objects we are seeking are “Discernment” and “Understanding”, the co-relatives of wisdom – CHOKMAH.
“Discernment” is the Hebrew noun BINAH that means, “understanding or discernment.” It refers to the “act, faculty or object of understanding.” It is translated as “discernment, insight, understanding, etc.”
It is different from our second noun in this passage, “understanding” which is the Hebrew noun TEBUNAH that means, “understanding or intelligence” in regard to aptitude, or skill.
Both come from the root word BIN that means, “to understand or to perceive.” “Discernment” then is the right perception of truth, and “Understanding” is learning the principles of discretion and reason to apply them skillfully in life.
“Understanding” binds together the passive, receptive conditions of vs. 1-2 with the aggressive, initiative conditions of vs. 3-4.
Bruce Waltke translates vs. 3, “Indeed, if to insight you call out, to understanding you raise your voice”
“Discernment” is the object of knowledge, Prov 9:6, 10.
Prov 9:6, “Forsake your folly and live, and proceed in the way of discernment.”
Prov 9:10, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is discernment.”
“Discernment” should be obtained, Prov 4:5, 7.
Prov 4:7, “The beginning of wisdom is: Acquire wisdom; and with all your acquiring, get discernment.”
Prov 8:1, “Does not wisdom call, and discernment lift up her voice?”
The search for wisdom begins by learning from someone else, your right Pastor/Teacher, and remembering his teaching in the time when it is needed.
To “cry out” and “lift up our voice”, also implies that we do not always discern or understand the implications of Bible doctrine when we first hear it. Therefore, we should never reject God’s Word as taught by our Pastor/Teacher based on our initial understanding of it or our impression of its value or worth.
Many times our understanding is not fully awoken until after we have applied it in a temptation or crisis situation.
Therefore, learning well requires paying attention with our entire being, our inner selves, as well as our senses and then applying what we have learned, Deut 4:29; 6:5; 10:12; Josh 22:5; Prov 3:5; Jer 29:13; Mat 22:37; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27.
Prov 3:5, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.”
Therefore, our first two “if” statements are an exhortation and command to diligently take in and store up for application God’s Word on a consistent basis. If we do, we will receive blessings, the “then” statements, including the blessing of having God’s wisdom in our soul to apply to everyday life and in times of temptation.
Knowledge obtained from God’s Word gives us a solid grounding in faith and enables us to make good choices. It arms us for victory over temptations and trials.
The reason for weak Christians today who are faltering, fading, failing, frustrated, and faithless is the fact they do not study the Word of God. It is a tragedy not to have a copy of the Bible, but it is a greater tragedy to have a copy and neglect to read it.
How do we get to know the Lord? The Word of God is a key factor. Get into the Book! Read it, love it, live it in your life!
And do not stop there. Have a close walk with God. Leonard Ravenhill put it this way, “The fact beats ceaselessly into my brain these days that there is a world of difference between knowing the Word of God and knowing the God of the Word.”
So there must be crying after knowledge and for understanding, and that must be followed by seeking and searching, vs. 4. If these conditions are fulfilled then the fear of the Lord (the knowledge of God), is your portion.
Such knowledge is more than a general and superficial understanding of Scripture and God’s will, though this must come first, as we must first incline our ear to wisdom, vs.2a. But that is not enough. There must also develop a deep and intense desire to know the Word of God.
“Seek” is the Hebrew verb BAQASH that means “to find, to require (in a legal aspect), or to desire.” The verb is generally used literally, as one is seeking an object which is concrete. It is real and tangible, not some pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.
“Search” is the Hebrew verb CHAPHAS, and is used only a few times in the Qal stem, as it is here, and usually metaphorically. Therefore, wisdom is to be searched for as if it were hidden treasure.
Vs. 4 once again hints of wisdom’s immense value, as did Prov 1:9. This tells us that we should study God’s Word as intensively as we would search a field if we knew that it contained buried treasures.
The search for it begins with accepting the teaching that we receive from our right Pastor / Teacher. And the fact is that our response to what we already know reveals how we will respond to new teaching. If it has been good, we will do well. If it has been superficial, we need to alter our mode of operation.
Summary Prov 2:1-4.
There are eight verbs used in these verses: accept… store up (vs. 1), turning… applying (vs. 2), cry … call (vs. 3), look… search (vs. 4). The objects of these activities are the teacher’s words and commands (vs. 1; (cf. Prov 7:1), wisdom and understanding (vs. 2), and discernment and understanding (vs. 3).
Effort must be expended for one to become wise. Getting wisdom involves openness, retention, hearing (with the ear), applying (with the heart; cf. vs. 10), requesting, and diligent searching.
The Father changes the image in the quest for wisdom from a woman who must be called, to a precious metal that must be sought. The simile, “as silver”, refers to silver as mined and smelted, not as a precious metal in its native state. The reference to silver instead of gold may indicate an early time when silver was priced higher than gold. Its intensifying parallel, “and as for hidden treasures”, refers to objects so precious, such as silver and gold bricks or gems, that they need to be hidden in secret places (Isa 45:3; Mat 13:44) to protect them from thieves (cf. Mat 6:19; Rev 3:11). The metaphor implies that a great deal of effort and sacrifice must be expended to get it, Prov 4:7.
Mat 13:44, “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”
Having noted the three “if” statements which are commands and great encouragement to pursue God’s Wisdom, we now turn to the three “then” statements which are the rewards and blessings for having pursued His Wisdom.
As we have noted, vs. 1-4 are excellent instructions for the study of the Word of God. If followed, then the Lord will give us His Wisdom, Col 2:2-3; James 1:5-8.
Col 2:2-3, “That your hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself, 3in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
James 1:5-8, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. 7For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, 8being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”
And as we will see, Wisdom is a shield to those who walk in righteousness, and the way of His saints is preserved by it, Psa 84:11; Prov 30:5; Eph 6:16.
Psa 84:11, “For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD gives grace and glory; no good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.”
Prov 30:5, “Every word of God is tested; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.”
As we noted previously, each “then” statement consists of three parts, and it correlates to its respective “if” statement.:
Therefore, if we do what vs. 1-4 tells us, then we will receive vs. 5-8. Likewise, if we do what vs. 3 tells us, then we will be rewarded with vs. 9-11, and if we do what vs. 4 tells us, we will be rewarded with what vs. 20-22 tells us.
Proverbs 2:5-8, “Then you will discern the fear of the LORD And discover the knowledge of God. 6For the LORD gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding. 7He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk in integrity, 8Guarding the paths of justice, And he preserves the way of His godly ones.”
The first reward in vs. 5-8, includes:
- Summary of the reward, 5, “You will discern and discover Wisdom.”
- Substantiation of the reward 6-7a, “God’s free gift is stored up for and given to you.”
- Result of the reward 7b-8, “Wisdom provides you with Divine protection; we are shielded, guarded, and preserved, (spiritual protection).”
Summary, Vs. 5:
In vs. 5 “discern” is the Hebrew verb BIN in the Qal Imperfect, whose basic meaning is “to understand” or “to perceive.” It means to, “separate mentally, distinguish, and generally to understand.” The underlying idea is “to discern.” BIN is similar in meaning to YADA but BIN refers to judgment and insight, and is manifested through the use of knowledge, rather than knowing by experiencing.
That means that with Bible Doctrine resident within your soul, you will make good decisions and judgments every day and have insight to truly what is going on, or what is behind each situation.
In the Qal Imperfect it stands for future action that is ongoing, (i.e., we will keep on discerning, over and over again), as we continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
“Discover” is the verb MATSA that has a variety of meanings including “to find or discover.” It relates to finding things that were sought for, in this case “the knowledge [DA’ATH] of God.” Cf., Prov 1:7.
So there are two things we receive:
- Respect / obedience for the Lord.
- God’s EPIGNOSIS doctrine resident within our souls.
“The first result of diligence is the discovery that the search for wisdom leads to the ultimate source of all wisdom, God Himself. As we persevere, our understanding and wisdom increase until we begin to understand the fear of the Lord, vs. 5a. Even this, however, is not the result of our efforts, but it is the grace gift of God, found out by all who seek Him diligently.” (Complete Biblical Library Commentary – Proverbs.)
Substantiation, Vs. 6-7a:
Introduced by the Hebrew KI, (kee), that means, “because, for, that, etc.”
- “The Lord gives Wisdom [CHOKMAH]”, this is the EPIGNOSIS of God resident within the right lobe (heart) of your soul. It is the free grace gift of God, as a result of pursuing His Word.
- “From His mouth comes knowledge [DA’ATH – EPIGNOSIS Doctrine] and understanding [TEBUNAH – discretion and reason applied skillfully in life.]” This is the application of EPIGNOSIS doctrine in your soul.
- 7a, “He stores up sound wisdom [TUSHIYYAH – sound, efficient wisdom, abiding success; that is prosperity, or success.]”
It is derived from an unused root; it serves as a technical term in the wisdom writings of the OT. The basic meaning is “sound judgment” or “efficient wisdom,” the wisdom that leads to practical success.
It is also related to “prudence” and the capacity to make discerning appraisals of a situation on the basis of having Divine norms and standards in the Conscience compartment of the heart of your soul, Prov 3:21.
Wisdom personified exemplifies this in Prov 8:14.
As it states here, God is the source of this prudence, as He is of all the other varieties of knowledge and wisdom, Isa. 28:29. Thus, a wise person should “fear” (be obedient to) God (His Word) in order to receive it, Micah 6:9.
In our verse, success is promised for the upright because of the righteous nature of God’s rule.
“Wisdom is thus the confluence of two movements: our search and God’s grace gift. As we grow in wisdom, we increasingly understand that growth itself is the gift of God. Further, since God is the source of wisdom, vs. 6, the counsel of the proverbs is not merely human advice. They are the Word of God, and they come with the same authority as the Covenant through Moses, or the word of the Lord through the prophets.” (Complete Biblical Library Commentary – Proverbs.)
Result, Vs. 7b-8: This is our spiritual protection.
- “It is a shield to those who walk in integrity [TOM].” This is the application of Divine norms and standards resident within your soul that will protect you in everyday life. It is part of the full armor of God given in Eph 6.
Eph 6:16, “In addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.”
The flaming arrows are the temptations, trials, and tribulations of everyday life that emanate from your Old Sin Nature, as well as from other people. That includes being gossiped about or maligned; the attacks that are brought against you.
In all these things, with God’s Word resident in your soul, you will be protected from them. This includes utilizing the 11 Problem Solving Devices so that the outward pressures of life do not become inward stress on your soul.
- “Guarding the paths of justice”
- “Guarding” is NATSAR and is synonymous with the Greek PHULASSO, to guard, keep, and watch over.
- “Paths” is your daily walk in the spiritual life. God’s Wisdom protects positive believers from going astray and entering into Satan’s cosmic system in the mentality of their soul. It protects us from committing any one of the three categories of sin, (mental sin, verbal sin, and overt sin).
- “Justice” when used for people means “making good decisions, to judge fairly and not show partiality.” And that is how we will conduct ourselves if we have God’s Word resident within our souls.
Proverbs promises that Wisdom will serve as a watchman for those who heed her, Prov. 4:6; 6:24; 7:5 and promises that the commands of Bible Doctrine (personified as a “parent’s teaching”) will be a guard, Prov 6:22, to them. In fact, people who follow the counsel of Wisdom will actually save their own lives, Prov 13:3; 16:17; 19:16; 22:5.
- “Preserves the way of godly ones.”
“Preserves” is SHAMAR in the Qal Imperfect for ongoing future action meaning, “will keep on preserving”, and has the underlying meaning of “to exercise great care for something.”
“The way” is DEREK and means not only “road or path”, but “manner and custom”, Psa 10:5; 37. Therefore, it refers to how you operate on a daily basis. God’s wisdom will preserve the mentality of your soul so that you make good and sound decisions each and every day. So we see that the Lord protects those who walk in integrity, guarding even the processes of justice so that your honor will be upheld.
This theme of protection is part of the second section of this poem, vs. 12-20, which describes the further benefit of finding wisdom as deliverance from two destructive ways of life and false doctrines, vs. 11-15 and vs. 6-19.
Proverbs 2:9-11, “Then you will discern righteousness and justice And equity and every good course. 10For wisdom will enter your heart And knowledge will be pleasant to your soul; 11Discretion will guard you, Understanding will watch over you,”
We now turn to the, Second Reward for the Pursuit of Wisdom found in vs. 9-11, which is the ability to distinguish and choose what is best. It has the same structure of Summary, Substantiation, and Result, as vs. 5-8, and doubly emphasizes them.
- Summary of the reward: 9, “You will discern righteousness, justice, equity, and every good course.”
- Substantiation of the reward: 10, “Wisdom will enter you heart (right lobe of your soul), and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.”
- Result of the reward: 11, “Discretion and understanding will provide Divine protection; you will be preserved and guarded, (character protection).”
Summary, Vs. 9:
Proverbs 2:9, “Then you will discern righteousness and justice And equity and every good course.
“Discern” is BIN once again, “perceive intelligently”, the judgment and insight manifested through the use of Bible Doctrine in your soul.
Prov 16:16, “How much better it is to get wisdom than gold! And to get discernment is to be chosen above silver.”
Here there are four things, (the number of material things), that we will discern; Righteousness, Justice, Equities, and Every Good Course.
- “Righteousness”, TSEDEQ – LXX = DIKAIOSUNE. TSEDEQ means, “what is right” and is seen in Prov 1:3, as what the study of the God’s Word should enable a person to be. It refers to God’s standard of right conduct.
- “Justice”, MISHPAT – LXX KRIMA, MISPHAT means, “making good decisions.”
- “Equities”, the plural of MEYSHAR – MEYSHAR means, “evenness, uprightness, straightness, and equity.” The prime nuance of the metaphor is “ease” of an action. “The way of the just is straight,” which means level and smooth, bringing happiness and peace to the person, Isa 26:7. “Equities” also has the concept of “justice”, meaning to decide on something rightly, Psa 99:4, and that which is just, Prov 1:3; 8:6; Psa 9:8; 17:2; 58:1. Judgment which is “straight” means that which is correct, just, right, and proper.
- “Every good course” – KOL TOB MAGAL literally, “all the tracks of goodness.” MAGAL means, “a path or route” which has been used continually. Therefore, someone who is on such a path is following a course which is already established, tried, and true. God Himself has established the path for the righteous to tread on, Psa 17:5 and He makes this path level, symbolic of ease of travel, Isa 26:7, once again. Therefore, it is the tried and true application of God’s Word to our everyday lives that is not burdensome.
Psa 17:5, “My steps have held fast to Your paths. My feet have not slipped.”
1 John 5:3, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.”
This type of discernment is possible because Wisdom fills the heart of the seeker, informing every aspect of his or her life.
Substantiation, Vs. 10:
Proverbs 2:10; “For wisdom will enter your heart And knowledge will be pleasant to your soul;
Introduced by the Hebrew KI, once again, “because, for, that, etc.”
CHOKMAH “wisdom” will enter your LEB “heart”, this is Bible doctrine stored in the right lobe of your soul, the six compartments of the heart, through the Grace Apparatus for Perception, GAP.
DA’ATH “knowledge” is “pleasant” [NAEM] to your “soul” [NEPHESH]. NAEM means, “pleasant or lovely”, and is used of loved ones and friends that are precious to us. That is what Bible Doctrine in your soul should be to you.
In Prov 24:25, an enigmatic verse, it means that just judges will find all to be well with them because they uphold justice and fairness. Therefore, when you apply Divine viewpoint, from the norms and standards in your soul, to life all will be well with you.
The more we grow in wisdom, knowledge and understanding, the more precious / pleasant these things become to us.
Result, Vs. 11: This is our moral character protection.
Proverbs 2:11, “Discretion will guard you, Understanding will watch over you,”
As mentioned previously, it reverses the order of the Hebrew words for guardianship and protection compared to vs. 8 in this poem.
First we have SHAMAR “guard” with “discretion” and second NATSAR “keep” with “understanding” [TEBUNAH].
“Discretion” is MEZIMMAH that comes from ZAMAM that means “to plan.” So it means, “purpose, thought, or discretion.” Discretion means, “Careful, prudent, and sensitive behavior”, and the “right or ability to judge or decide.”
This is one of the goals of Wisdom found in Prov 1:4, that you make good decisions regarding your own life and the lives of others on a daily basis from having Bible doctrine consistently on the Launching Pad of your soul.
NATSAR TEBUNAH, means that discretion and reason from Bible doctrine resident in your soul applied skillfully in life will guard your mind, soul, and body.
Being wise does not mean to possess a certain quantity of understanding, since knowledge does no good, unless it is used and is applied correctly.
Therefore, we see that from these first two rewards, (“then” statements), for pursuing Wisdom diligently, we will excel in our vertical spiritual relationship and fellowship with the Lord, and our horizontal ethical and moral relationship with man.
A personal relationship with the Lord, vs. 5-8, entails an intuitive understanding of what is right in human relationships, vs. 9-11.
As we guard, treasure, the Word of God in our soul, God through His Wisdom will guard us in our daily walk. These promised deliverances come through exercising the discretion and understanding that God gives to those who truly seek His Wisdom.
These verses must be understood in light of the continued pursuit of Wisdom as commanded and encouraged in Prov 1:5; 2:1-4. Therefore, as we pursue God’s Word, we will be rewarded with edification of our souls and right relationships with both God and man.
We now turn to vs. 12-19 which are two object lessons or examples of situations in which we need to exercise the discernment that comes from having God’s Word on the Launching Pad of the right lobe (heart) of your soul.
Proverbs 2:12-19, “To deliver you from the way of evil, From the man who speaks perverse things; 13From those who leave the paths of uprightness To walk in the ways of darkness; 14Who delight in doing evil And rejoice in the perversity of evil; 15Whose paths are crooked, And who are devious in their ways; 16To deliver you from the strange woman, From the adulteress who flatters with her words; 17That leaves the companion of her youth And forgets the covenant of her God; 18For her house sinks down to death And her tracks lead to the dead; 19None who go to her return again, Nor do they reach the paths of life.”
Solomon explains God’s promise of protection by describing two temptations from which God’s Word delivers the wise. He does not outline a plan of defense, or narrate a process of deliverance. He simply describes the evil and the adulteress so that the insightful can recognize them and avoid them.
Both of these object lessons are introduced by the Hebrew Preposition LE “to” and the Verb NATSAL in the Hiphil Infinitive Construct. The basic meaning of NATSAL is, “to separate, to be separate.” It means, “to snatch away, deliver, rescue, save, etc.” In the Hiphil stem it more specifically means, “to take away, snatch away, to rescue, recover, to deliver (from enemies or troubles or death), to deliver from sin and guilt.” The Hiphil Infinitive Construct gives us causative action and the object of the sentence “to deliver you”, that is the believer in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Our Lord uses literal examples of what to stay away from, yet their primary meaning is in regard to having discernment toward false teachers of God’s Word and false doctrines.
This is noted in the second half of vs. 12, “men who speak perverse things”, and of vs. 16, “flatters with her words”, Acts 20:29-31; Rom 16:18; 1 Thes 2:5; Jude 1:16.
Acts 20:29-31, “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31Therefore be on the alert….”
Rom 16:18, “For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.”
Just as wisdom is personified as a “woman lifting her voice” in Prov 1:20, so too false teachers are personified as a “man who speaks perverse things”, meaning the Pastor behind the pulpit and false doctrines as a “strange adulteress woman, who falters with her words.” We will see false doctrine personified again as a woman later on in this book.
As we go through the object lessons, we will note both the literal application and primary application.
The “rescue” in each instance begins by being able to see through the words of temptation, whether the tempter is enticing us to wickedness, vs. 12-15 (living outside the plan and will of God), or to sexual immorality, vs. 16-19 (committing adultery against God by having false doctrines in our lives, e.g., legalism, and works for salvation).
Just as the false teacher leads us to live outside the Plan of God, so do false doctrines lead us to live out of fellowship with God.
Therefore, “Wisdom” will snatch you away, rescue, and deliver you from all kinds of evil including false teaching.
That is why we need to listen carefully to God’s Word, so that we can understand the true intent of the words of those around us. (cf. e.g., Prov 18:4; 20:5).
These verses do not imply that deliverance is automatic or miraculous. The promised deliverance comes through exercising the discretion and understanding that God gives to those who diligently seek His “Wisdom.”
Therefore, these verses must be understood in light of the continued pursuit of wisdom encouraged by Prov 1:5 and 2:1-4.
Verse 12: “To be delivered from the way of evil” and “the man who speaks perverse things”, continues the warning “not to consent with” of Prov 1:10-19.
“Deliverance” is a result of recognizing the true nature of the false teacher’s ways and to deliberately avoid them in favor of that which is righteous, just and honest, vs. 9.
We are delivered because we have developed the perspicacity (required to understand a situation as we grow in wisdom and understanding. We will have the discernment through true doctrine in our soul to detect when falsehoods are being preached.
Perverse speech, and the teaching of Bible doctrine that is tainted just enough to actually be false, is the fruit of a heart inclined to evil, evil which sometimes is undetectable in their life style if they are living to a moralistic code, but usually it can be identified by that teacher’s life style.
“None of this condemnation however means that their lives are filled with what is illicit, since business, social and personal activities can be within the letter of the Law but far from its spirit, (cf. Mat 5:21-48; 23:23-28).” (Complete Biblical Library Commentary – Proverbs.)
The Lord finds these types repulsive, Prov 3:32.
Your ability to recognize the true nature of that person or teacher is based on your heart being steeped in wisdom and “the fear of the Lord.”
The Word for “evil” is RA and means, bad or evil; the opposite of good and is qualified in the second half with the word “perverse”, TAHPUKAH that has a root connotation of “to overthrow.” Therefore, this evil perversion is designed to overthrow the doctrine resident in your soul and to take control of your soul by means of the Sin Nature.
Many times it is demonstrated through ecstatic or emotions that overload your soul, leading you to an emotional revolt of the soul that is passed off as spirituality, when in fact, it is pure evil. This is the standard in churches that profess to speak in tongues.
Likewise, the heart of evil is idolatry or unfaithfulness in a person’s true relationship with the Lord, Deut 17:2f. It can involve distrust, unbelief, greed, and rebellion, Prov 17:11, that is closely associated with pride, Prov 8:13.
So the evil and perverse person is one who is trying to get control of your soul in opposition to the true wisdom that is God’s Word resident in your soul.
Verse 13: “From those who leave the paths of uprightness To walk in the ways of darkness;”
Here we see that at one time, this false teacher was a teacher of truth but has now “left the path of uprightness.” That is, they are no longer living filled with the Spirit, experientially sanctified, and keeping the mandates of God’s Word.
They are now steeped in sin and evil, emotional revolt of the soul and the arrogance complex of sins; and they are trying to bring you along with them!
“Leave” is the Hebrew word AZAB and means to, “leave, forsake or abandon.” And that is what the false teacher has done. They may still quote from the Bible, but their actions demonstrate their true heart that has abandoned the true principles of God.
“Darkness” is CHOSHEK and means, “darkness or obscurity.” Instead of sticking with what is taught in the Bible, they enter into false issues and false doctrines, enticing and tickling the ears of their hearers with world news, current events, exhaustive end times prophecies, etc. They do not teach about how to live the unique spiritual life for the Church Age.
“These metaphors connote a malicious concealment of their behaviors in marked contrast to the open and forthright way of the wise, whose actions are as unequivocal as their words”, (McKane, Proverbs, p. 284. as quoted in the New International Commentary).
A major theme of the book of Proverbs is the doctrine of the “two ways,” that teaches it is impossible to pursue sin and righteousness, light and darkness, because they are mutually exclusive. Therefore, to follow one is to abandon the other, Eph 6:12; 2 Peter 2:1-22.
Eph 6:12, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
Those whose words encourage others to sin are already walking in darkness. It is from such men as these that we are rescued from when we exercise discretion diligently from the “Wisdom” resident in our souls.
Verse 14: “Who delight in doing evil And rejoice in the perversity of evil;”
The word “delight”, [SAMEACH] – speaks of their inward exuberance. “Rejoice”, [GIL] – speaks of their enthusiastic outward expression. Both are a result of operating by means of their sin nature.
Fox comments, “Foolish, self-destructive behavior is rooted not in dullness or simple ignorance but in a constitutional distortion of moral vision, a twisting of values.” (Fox, “Pedagogy of Proverbs 2”, Pg 241)
These evil men have gone so far into reversionism that they delight to plan and pursue evil, cf. Prov 4:14-17; 6:14. Their happiness and pleasure in life, comes from pursuing those things that are vile.
Verse 15: “Whose paths are crooked, And who are devious in their ways;”
“Crooked paths” is IQQESH that means, “Distorted or perverted”, hence, “false or crooked.” It signifies the opposite of “straight paths”, vs. 12a, the norm by which their deviation can be measured.
“Devious ways” is LUZ and means, “to deviate or depart.” These are what the false teacher has done to God’s Word.
With respect to sound wisdom, which is based upon fearing and obeying God, we are told not to let it depart from our eyes, Prov 3:21; 4:21f.
Psalm 25:4 “Your ways, O Yahweh, cause me to know; Your paths teach me.”
True life is in following God’s path, His righteous character, Psa 25:10; 27:11; 44:18
“Ways” is MAGAL once again, see vs. 9, and means “(wagon) tracks or course.” Since they themselves are twisted, then their paths will also be devious.
The result of abandoning an honest way of life in order to walk in darkness, vs. 13, and of rejoicing in evil rather than good, vs. 14, is that their entire lives are perverted. It is the heart that shapes a man’s life, Prov 23:7.
Prov 23:7, “For as he thinks within himself, so he is. He says to you, “Eat and drink!” But his heart is not with you.”
Their wickedness may not be immediately recognizable as such. Yet, the course of their lives is a downward spiral, turning in on itself until they are trapped and destroyed by the folly of their persistent rebellion, cf. Prov 1:18-19; 5:22-23.
Therefore, once again we are warned “not to consent” with these individuals, and therefore not come under the teaching of a false Pastor. If we have the truth of God’s Word resident within our souls, it will protect us from being duped by these individuals. God’s “Wisdom” in your soul will alert and warn you when false teachers are teaching false doctrine and then you must separate from them and their teaching.
So we have seen in the first object lesson the true way of life for the false teacher who we are warned to stay away from. They may look good on the outside, but inwardly they are filled with sin. This is the reason why our Lord railed against the Pharisees of His day by calling them, “whitewashed tombs” in the “Seven Woes” of, Mat 23:1-33, (vs. 14 is not a recognized verse, not found in the original Greek); Luke 11:37-52, and “brood of vipers” in Mat 21:33-37, and “murderers and liars” in John 8:44; Acts 7:52.
John 8:44, “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
Likewise, Paul called out the “false teachers” in 2 Cor 11:12-15 indicating how they disguise themselves as righteous individuals when in fact, they are unrighteous in their ways.
2 Cor 11:12-15, “But what I am doing I will continue to do, so that I may cut off opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the matter about which they are boasting. 13For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.”
They are further depicted in Rom 1:18-28.
Rom 1:18-32, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures, (the belief in Evolution today). 24Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. 25For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. 26For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 27and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. 28And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, 29being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, 30slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; 32and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.” (brackets mine.)
As Rom 1:21-22 indicates, the false teacher has false doctrine, which leads us to the second object lesson where we have the warning to stay away from the false teacher’s false doctrine in Prov 2:16-19.
Rom 1:21-22, “For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22Professing to be wise, they became fools.”
It is interesting to note that God’s first object lesson warning was that of the evil man, personified as the false teacher, and secondly the strange woman, personified as false doctrine. That is because it takes a Pastor Teacher, which should be a man, to teach false doctrines.
Verse 16: “To deliver you from the strange woman, From the adulteress who flatters with her words;”
Vs. 16 begins once again in the English “To deliver you from”, the Hebrew “LE NATSAL”, that means, “to be separated, snatched away, delivered, rescued, saved”, (from enemies or troubles – false teachers and false doctrines), thereby to deliver you from sin, human good, and evil.”
“Strange woman,” is the Hebrew Noun ISHSHAH, “woman” and sometimes “wife”, and the Adjective ZAR, “strange”. In fact, ZAR means, “Foreign, different, or unlawful.” Its root meaning from ZUR is “to turn aside, (especially for lodging).”
Therefore, it is speaking about “where or with whom you live.” Are you living with the truth of God’s Word resident in your soul, or have you turned aside and are living with “false doctrine” in your soul?
Interestingly, in the “Complete Biblical Library Hebrew-English Dictionary” it indicates that one of the usages of ZAR in the Old Testament had to do with the Priesthood. “In the ecclesiastical sense, the word refers to those “outside” the family of the priests, who were ineligible to serve in the priestly office. An outsider could not participate in any priestly function, and anyone who attempted to enter the priest’s domain, or perform a priest’s duty, was to be put to death,” Num 3:10, 38; 16:40; 18:4, 7.
Therefore, as members of the Royal Priesthood of the Church Age, 1 Peter 2:5-9, if we receive “false doctrines”, we will not be operating in our priesthood, and will be instead living out of fellowship with God.
Solomon used the phrase “strange woman” several times to literally refer to a prostitute, which is also personified as “false doctrine”. This is also seen in Ezek 16, specifically vs. 30-34, where our Lord is calling Israel a harlot because of the false doctrines, (pagan religions and worship), they had adopted. See also Hosea 1:2.
Therefore, “Wisdom” is needed to deliver you from the immoral women / false doctrine, Prov 2:16; 5:3; 7:5; 6:24; 22:14.
Prov 6:24, “To keep you from the evil woman (false doctrine), from the smooth tongue of the adulteress.”
As for the analogy of Bible doctrine being “water”, ZAR is used for foreign waters, 2 Kings 19:24; Jer 18:14, and “vines of foreign gods”, Isa 17:10; cf. Jer 2:21.
Isa 17:10, “For you have forgotten the God of your salvation and have not remembered the rock of your refuge. Therefore you plant delightful plants and set them with vine slips of a strange god.”
This means having false doctrine resident within your soul. In Prov 2:16b “adulteress” is NOKRIY or NAKHERIY as some spell it; that also means “foreign, alien, unknown, or strange,” and is used for the adulteress woman. This is a reemphasis of the genesis of “false doctrine.” It is foreign, unknown, and strange to God, that is, it is not His truth.
So God goes beyond mere description to reveal its true nature and (in the case of the adulteress) the consequences of failing to flee her temptation, cf. 1 Cor 6:18; 2 Tim 2:22.
When we take in and apply false doctrines, we are committing adultery against God.
“Flatters with her words” is CHALAQ EMER. CHALAQ in the Hiphil Perfect, means to absolutely, “be smooth, divide, and share.”
It refers to “smooth” and deceptive speech. In Prov 29:5 the one who makes his words smooth is said to be setting a trap, and Psa 55:21 says that an enemy’s mouth is smooth but war is in his heart.
Therefore, “flattery”, i.e., lying, in order to manipulate someone is routinely condemned in Proverbs, Prov 26:23-28; 29:5; cf. Psa 5:9
CHALAQ also means “to deceive.” And Prov 7:13-21 gives concrete expression to it being false doctrine; it promises to give you something, while both emotionally and spiritually it has nothing to offer and just uses you. As we will see, ultimately it inflicts death both on you and the deceiver, for such a split personality for the believer is ultimately destructive.
Therefore, false doctrine:
- Sounds good but it truly is not, Prov 5:3; Isa 30:10.
- Divides us from walking in fellowship with God.
- Shares our soul with the Indwelling of the Trinity, so that truth does not flourish throughout it.
So we must exercise our God given ability, (through GAP), to discern the true meaning of her pleasant words “false doctrines.” It is an ability that is a fruit of the pursuit of wisdom, Prov 2:1-11, that is the first step of escape.
Verse 17: “That leaves the companion of her youth And forgets the covenant of her God;”
This verse tells us that this false doctrine originally came from God’s truth but has been twisted over time just enough to render it false. Just as the false teacher above was once a true believer, this false doctrine is also based on the truth but now has been changed to become a lie.
“Leaves” is AZAB and means, “leave, forsake, or abandon”, something that you used to have or do, (i.e. the truth of God’s Word.)
“Companion”, ALLUPH (used only eight times in the O.T.), means “close friend or companion”, her husband as her teacher, which is what the Bible should be to you. But her words have abandoned the truth of God’s Word.
“Youth” is NAUR, and here represents the past.
“Forgets the Covenant of her God (ELOHIM).” Covenant is BERITH and means an alliance, used for the covenant between God and man.
BERITH used as “a foundational concept of covenant, is the notion of legal contract. Legal contracts are developed to establish and regulate a relationship where none previously existed.” (Complete Biblical Library Hebrew.)
Therefore, here it represents the false doctrine that has tainted the truth of the Gospel, which is the “covenant”, peace treaty between God and man that has broken down the barrier of sin. Therefore, this means a false Gospel.
“Forgets”, SHAKACH, the most common usage of it is in the sense of forgetting the Covenant with Yahweh. As attested in Scripture this behavior was a conscious choice, and a morally evil one, Judges 3:7; Jer 2:32.
Therefore, this false Gospel is one of “works for salvation”, rather than grace and faith for salvation. This false doctrine started out as a grace gospel but has been changed to a salvation by works program that is “flattering” and appealing to the hearer. This is the history of every denominational church. They start out with truth and good intention but over time Satan twists and turns it to be steeped in false doctrines.
Just as their abandonment of the paths of uprightness led to or included further sin in vs. 13, so too does “rejection of her husband” (i.e. rejection of the Mind of Christ), reveal her rejection of the covenant with God (i.e., His grace plan of salvation).
Verse 18: “For her house sinks down to death And her tracks lead to the dead;”
Here we have another KI or “then” statement. Not one that is rewarded for receiving God’s truth, but one that tells of the calamity of receiving false doctrine.
“Sinks down,” SHUACH means that false doctrines that violate God’s Covenant is adultery against God, that ultimately leads to death (MAVETH), Prov 2:22; 5:5; 7:22f, 26f.
“Death” in the OT is commonly a figure of separation from God. This death is the moral ruin and spiritual chaos of a life that has strayed from the paths of righteousness, cf., Prov 5:23.
For a person who was once a believer, it means the third cycle of Divine Discipline, the Sin Unto Death, 1 Cor 11:33; 1 John 5:16.
For the person who was never a believer, it means no salvation and no eternal life as they remain in their spiritual death.
“Her (false doctrines) tracks lead to the dead.” As vs. 17 parallels vs. 13 in characterizing the apostate false teachers, vs. 18-19 parallel vs. 15 in characterizing the tracks of the wicked, where the end of this road is death and ruin.
“Tracks” is MAGAL once again and this time is the pathway that is not tried and true. It is the false concept that there is another way to salvation.
As our Lord said in Mat 7:13-14, “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
Therefore, “works for salvation” is rejected as the broad road, whereas, “salvation by faith alone in Christ alone” is the narrow gate that gives eternal life, Eph 2:8-9; Act 16:31.
And interestingly, right after that our Lord says in Mat 7:15-16, “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16You will know them by their fruits.”
“Dead” is the Hebrew Noun RAPHA that means, “dead spirits” in Sheol, Job 26:5. And in most other places, it is nearly equivalent to a proper noun, referring to “the dead”, Psa 88:10; Isa 14:9. And it means the unbelieving dead who will not be resurrected in Isa 26:14.
Verse 19: “None who go to her return again, Nor do they reach the paths of life.”
- “None who go to her return again,”
“Go to” is the Hebrew Verb BO that means, “to go or come.” Many times in scripture it is used positively in regard to coming to worship the Lord or to go and worship the Lord. It was used also referring to the coming Messiah, Zech 9:9; cf. Dan 7:13.
But, it was also used in a negative sense as it is here, in regard to adultery against God, as a euphemism for sexual intercourse, cf., Eze 23:17. It is used in a doubly figurative way both to sexual intercourse and idolatry.
So it continues the theme of adultery committed against God based on having false doctrine resident within your soul. This is the unprotected life by not having a relationship with the LORD and a mature spiritual character.
This verb was also used in cultic contexts to describe the activity of false worshipers and priests, 2 Kings 10:21, 2 Chr 23:17; Hos 9:10. Once again bringing to mind our inability to live as members of the Royal Priesthood of God, when we have false doctrine resident within our soul.
“Return again” is SHUB in the QAL Imperfect and means to “return or turn back.” This Verb can also have the connotation of, “to repent or to be restored.” With the Hebrew negative LO and being in the Qal Imperfect, it means that they will keep on “not” returning or repenting.
Bruce Waltke notes, “The Sumero-Akkadian myth about the Descent of Ishtar into the Netherworld may help mediate the literary allusions the poet has in mind. It refers to the land of the dead as “the land of no return,” “the dark house,” “the house which none leave who have entered it,” “the road from which there is no way back,” “the house wherein the entrants are bereft of light, where dust is their fare and clay their food, (where) they see no light, residing in darkness.” (New International Commentary on the Old Testament – The Book of Proverbs Chapters 1-15.)
That is the slippery slope of reversionism, as a result of taking in false doctrine; that believer typically does not turn back to the truth. Once they are sucked in by false doctrine, they are typically there for good.
Yet, if one does turn back to the truth of God’s Word, he will be restored, 1 Kings 8:33, 48.
- “Nor do they reach the paths of life.”
“Reach” is NASAG in the Hiphil Imperfect and means, “reach, overtake, or take hold of.” They will continually not take hold of the spiritual life that God has designed for them. The LXX uses KATALAMBANO in the Passive Voice which means they will “continually not receive it”.
“Paths of Life” is ORACH CHAYYIM.
ORACH means “highway or pathway.” This is synonymous with MAGAL the “tracks” of God’s tried and true path.
Theologically, the usage is to contrast the life activities or character orientation of the sinner with the obedient, Godly person. Essentially, one chooses one or the other “path,” but there are sure and certain consequences which result from that choice.
True life is in following the Lord’s path, (His righteous character), Psa 25:4, 10; 27:11.
CHAYYIM means, “life, lifetime, or living”, so here it represents our time on planet earth. To emphasize this meaning the LXX translates “paths of life” as “yearly life.”
The end of this road is death and ruin (third stage of Divine Discipline). Those who succumb to the flatterer (false doctrine) and so become involved in adultery, (rejection of the truth), will not find their way back from reversionism, because their foolish and therefore sinful choices move them constantly away from God’s true path of life for them.
Therefore, we can choose to follow God’s Word by digging into the truth of the Bible and living (obeying) it each and every day, or we can choose to receive the false doctrines of the harlot, (Satan himself), and live in his cosmic system outside the will and plan of God.
So the question is, where do you get your doctrine from? Do you receive it from a Bible teaching Pastor and by reading your Bible, or do you receive it from the false teacher which includes, denominational churches, the radio, internet, TV, books, magazines, etc.? Do you allow the nightly news to shape your opinion of the world or God’s Word?
Do you know God’s plan by watching a movie for example, “The Ten Commandments”, or “the Greatest Story Ever Told”, etc. which are very inaccurate, or do you know God’s Plan from reading the Bible?
Have you shaped your understanding of Eschatology by reading “Left Behind” or “The Harbinger”, etc., or do you know your eschatology by reading, Daniel, Ezekiel, Revelation, etc.
In Chapter 2 we are exhorted to have discernment so that we are not deceived by false teachers and false doctrine. Yet many times in the spiritual life, we tend to get confused about a matter or situation.
Regarding this, Oswald Chambers writes about 2 Cor 11:3, “The simplicity that is in Christ.” “Simplicity is the secret to seeing things clearly. A saint does not think clearly until a long time passes, but a saint ought to see clearly without any difficulty. You cannot think through spiritual confusion to make things clear; to make things clear, you must obey. In intellectual matters you can think things out, but in spiritual matters you will only think yourself into further wandering thoughts and more confusion. If there is something in your life upon which God has put His pressure, then obey Him in that matter. Bring all your “arguments and … every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” regarding the matter, and everything will become as clear as daylight to you (2 Corinthians 10:5). Your reasoning capacity will come later, but reasoning is not how we see. We see like children, and when we try to be wise we see nothing (see Matthew 11:25). Spiritual confusion can only be conquered through obedience. As soon as we obey, we have discernment.” (Oswald Chambers, “My Utmost for His Highest”)
Only when we have God’s Word resident within our soul, on the launching pad of our right lobe (heart), can we apply it in “Wisdom.” Applying, as Chambers says above, is being obedient to it, which means just do it! Therefore, stop trying to figure it all out and start faithfully applying God’s Word, and you will have wisdom and discernment in your life, especially towards false teachers and false doctrines.
Our reward for having God’s Wisdom for discernment is noted in three sections of Chapter 2, vs. 5-8; 9-11; (which we have already noted above), and now the third reward which doubles as a concluding summary is found in vs. 20-22.
The Third Reward and Conclusion, vs. 20-22:
Proverbs 2:20-22, “So you will walk in the way of good men And keep to the paths of the righteous. 21For the upright will live in the land And the blameless will remain in it; 22But the wicked will be cut off from the land And the treacherous will be uprooted from it.”
Recalling the pattern of each promised blessing of Summary, Substantiation, and Result, we see that pattern once again.
Vs. 20, is the Summary!
“You will walk in the way of good men.”
“Walk in the way” is HALAK DEREK. The basic idea of HALAK is movement of some type, usually of people and as such, it is the opposite of sitting, Deut 6:7; 11:19, and here means, “a way of life.”
So the way of your life, when you have the truth resident in your soul is, the “way of good men.”
“Good men” is TOB in the plural that means, “good, pleasant, agreeable, useful, proper, etc.”
These are the faithful believers walking in fellowship with God on a consistent basis, living in His righteousness, and maximizing their experiential sanctification. They will be a pleasant aroma to God, useful as vessels of honor, 2 Tim 2:14-26.
“Keep the paths of the righteous.”
“Keep” is SHAMAR once again. It means, “to observe, to guard, or to keep.” It was also used in vs. 11 for “guard”, as in, “discretion will guard you.” In other words, Bible Doctrine guards your soul from corruption of sin and sin temptations. Here we also understand that Bible Doctrine will guard our souls so that we remain in fellowship with God, walking in our experiential sanctification, living in the righteousness of God.
“Paths” is ORACH once again and has the basic meaning of, “highway or pathway,” and has a prime function of describing the way or path of life or of death; in this case, life. The word can mean, “way or lifestyle.”
Theologically, the usage of ORACH is to contrast the life activities or character orientation of the sinner with the obedient, Godly person. Essentially, one chooses one or the other “path.” Here it is “keeping to the way of the righteous.” That is staying on the tried and true path or tracks of God’s Word.
“Righteous” is TSADDIQ [tsad-deek’], that means, “just or righteous.” It means to conform to a standard of conduct and relationships as defined in God’s Word, and thereby not entering into sin. The Greek DIKAIOS is its equivalent.
In the Bible, the standard for the society of God’s people is His holy character revealed in His righteous acts and instructions recorded in it. God’s laws are far more righteous and of a far higher standard of morality than those of any man. Therefore, this is the person living consistently in His sanctification, through the filling of God the Holy Spirit, Eph 5:18, and having the Word of God resident in their soul ready of application.
This is the Balance of Residency, the Filling of God the Holy Spirit, plus, Maximum Bible Doctrine in your Soul ready for Application. B.R. = F.G.H.S. + M.B.D.S.R.4.A.
Vs. 21 is the Substantiation!
Proverbs 2:21, “For the upright will live in the land And the blameless will remain in it;”
“For the upright will live in the Land”
“For” is the Conjunction KI once again that introduces the “substantiation” of God’s promised reward.
Solomon strengthens the contrast between the fates of the upright and wicked by choosing terms that create a pun, “upright” YASHAR and “wicked” RASHA.
“Upright” is YASHAR that means, “straight, reliable, level, upright, correct, or right.”
Frequently, the noun denotes “moral correctness.” This notion is a semantic extension of the primary nuance of the root, “straightness,” as the paths of the righteous are “straight”, Isa 26:7.
Isa 26:7, “The way of the righteous is smooth; O’ Upright One, make the path of the righteous level.”
Among the characteristics of the person who is YASHAR is that he will be hardworking, Prov 15:19; capable, 2 Kings 10:3; and worshipful, Psa 33:1; and it will cause you to be prosperous, Prov 14:11.
“Live” is SHAKEN that means, “to settle down, abide, dwell.” It also means to experience intimate fellowship with God and its benefits. The verb can have the idea of “continuing occupation, remaining or staying” in a place. So our Occupation with Christ is in view here, and remaining filled with the Holy Spirit.
Also in Psa 102:28, God’s people will continue in His presence, living with Him always.
Here we will live in “the land”, ERETS which means, “land or earth.” It is metonymy for life, (Psa 37:9, 11, 29, 34; with Mat 5:5). The good earth stands in striking contrast to the grave with the dead in vs. 18-19.
So it represents our time here on planet earth and represents “physical blessings” that we will receive from God when we are operating in fellowship with Him on a consist basis.
As vs. 21a is parallel to vs. 7a; so vs. 21b is with vs. 7b; so vs. 21 is a reiteration of the blessings that come from the pursuit of “Wisdom.”
“And the blameless will remain in it;”
“Blameless” is TAMIN meaning, “complete, whole, entire, sound, perfect, without blemish, or faultless.”
This is equivalent to the Greek TELEO that means, “perfect or complete”, and stands for spiritual maturity.
So the “blameless” means, those who attain spiritual adulthood.
“Remain in it” is YATHAR BE.
YATHAR means, “left behind.” Here we have an analogy to the Fifth Cycle of Discipline on a nation of apostate believers. The spiritually mature ones will be protected in the Fifth Cycle of Discipline as the rest are taken away either in death or captivity. It also has the meaning of a remnant, that is, Israelites who will enter into the Millennial Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ.
This then is speaking of “spiritual blessings” the spiritually mature believer will receive in time, which is guardianship and protection of their soul from the corruption of false doctrines and sin regardless of the circumstances around them.
So we have in view both physical and spiritual blessings.
Vs. 22, is the Result, in contrast:
Proverbs 2:22, “But the wicked will be cut off from the land And the treacherous will be uprooted from it.”
Vs. 22 is a contrast in the conclusion. As the spiritual mature believer will be blessed, in contrast the reversionistic believer will not be blessed and instead suffer discipline.
“Wicked” is RASHA and means, “wicked, evildoer, or criminal.” The opposite of being righteous, such as in the classic contrast of Psa 1:1-6.
Some characteristics of the wicked are that they;
- Do not seek God, Psa 10:4.
- Forsake the Law or instruction of God, Psa 119:53.
- Are cruel, Prov 12:10.
- Gush evil from within them, Prov 15:28.
- Crave evil with their whole person, Prov 21:10.
- Are rejected by the LORD and will be cut off and perish, Prov 2:22; 21:27.
- They have no peace, Isa 48:22.
“Cut off”, is KARATH, “to cut off or cut down.” It can refer to people who are cut off, signifying they are destroyed. Therefore, for a nation it is the Fifth Cycle of discipline, Lev 26:14-39, and for a reversionistic believer it is the Third cycle of Divine discipline, the Sin Unto Death, 1 Cor 11:30.
“Treacherous Uprooted” is BAGAD NASACH.
BAGAD means, “to act or deal treacherously, deceitfully, or faithlessly.” It conveys the concept of a person acting in an unstable or unfaithful manner with reference to an existing established regulation, (for example, a contractual, covenantal, or marital commitment). Psa 78:56-57; Mal 2:10f. (Mal 2 demonstrates the intimacy between God and His people, and the seriousness of violating that intimacy.)
Psalm 78:56-57, “Yet they put to the test and rebelled against the Most High God and did not keep His testimonies, 57But turned back and acted treacherously like their fathers; they turned aside like a treacherous bow.”
Comparing this to the “strange woman”, in vs. 16-17, who “has forgotten the covenant of God”, (i.e., a false gospel), we see what type of doctrine it truly is. It is deceitful, treacherous, and requires no faith whatsoever, (It is a system of works and legalism.).
BAGAD is used to give the sense that a person has dishonored or intends to dishonor an agreement (e.g., adultery), cf. 1 Sam 14:33; Jer 3:20; 5:11; 12:6; Hos 5:7; 6:7.
As I said previously, the believer who has been overcome by false doctrine and now believes a false gospel is committing adultery against God.
“Uprooted” is NASACH that means, “to pull or tear away, to tear down.”
Compared with Psa 52:5, these passages imply death to the wicked, as well as destruction of their dwellings. For example, the wicked person’s house was to be destroyed by the Lord, Prov 15:25.
This “uprooting” is the result of violating a legal contract, (i.e., the covenant with the Lord), Cf. Deut 28:63; 2 Kings 17:7-23; 2 Chron 36:11-21.
Therefore, speaking in Hebrew riddle, we are warned as to the penalty for embracing false doctrine from false pastors. Just as the false pastor and doctrine tear the family of God in two, so will the perpetrators of the counterfeit be torn in two.
In contrast when we have the truth of God’s Word resident in our soul from righteous right pastor-teachers, we will be protected both physically, “in the land”, and spiritually, “blameless”, in vs. 21.
So our passage sharply contrasts those who violate God’s laws with the righteous. Those who deal faithlessly will be “rooted out” of the land, while the upright will “dwell in the land.” We also see this contrast between persons of integrity and those who deal treacherously in Prov 11:3.
Prov 11:3, “The integrity of the upright will guide them, but the crookedness of the treacherous will destroy them.”
This poem thus reiterates the warning of Prov 1:18f, that to pursue folly rather than wisdom leads only to destruction. Likewise, the result of being delivered from false pastors and false doctrine is a life that consistently chooses what is good, and thereby walks in righteousness.
The life of the one who has sought and exercised “Wisdom”, and thus recognized and rejected both false pastors and false doctrine in favor of the truth found in God’s Word, is the goal of this Book, a life lived in “the fear of the Lord.”
The pursuit of wisdom preserves the student’s life and is the ultimate motivation offered in Prov 1-9, as a reason to persevere in the study of this Book.
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Now Combining the “if” Statements with the “then” Statements, We See:
Vs. 1-2, “My son, if you will receive my words, (discipline to take in God’s Word), and treasure my commandments within you (store and retain God’s Word in your heart/soul), 2if you will make your ear attentive to wisdom (obey God’s EPIGNOSIS doctrine), and if you will incline your heart to understanding (change your direction and receive the principles of discretion and reason).”
Vs. 5-8, “Then you will discern the fear of the LORD and discover the knowledge of God. 6For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding. 7He stores up sound wisdom for the upright. He is a shield to those who walk in integrity, 8Guarding the paths of justice, and He preserves the way of His godly ones.”
Vs. 3, “For if you cry for discernment (pray that God gives you the right perception of truth), and lift your voice for understanding (give yourself to the reception of God’s Word as it is taught so that you apply it skillfully).”
Vs. 9-11, “Then you will discern righteousness and justice and equity and every good course. 10For wisdom will enter your heart and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul; 11discretion will guard you, understanding will watch over you.”
Vs. 4, “If you seek her as silver (real and tangible) and search for her as for hidden treasures (of great value).”
Vs. 20-22, “Then you will walk in the way of good men and keep to the paths of the righteous. 21For the upright will live in the land (Physical Blessings) and the blameless will remain in it (Spiritual Blessings); 22But the wicked will be cut off from the land (3rd Cycle of Discipline) and the treacherous will be uprooted from it (destroyed).”
And finally, false Pastor/Teachers and their false doctrines are two enemies that the truth of God’s Word will protect us from. When we have His Word in our soul’s, we will be blessed physically and spiritually, but for the apostate with their falsehoods, they will suffer God’s discipline to the maximum.