Proverbs 9

CHAPTER IX

Wisdom builds her house, makes her provision for a great feast,

calls her guests, and exhorts them to partake of her

entertainment, 14.

Different admonitions relative to the acquisition of wisdom,

7-12.

The character and conduct of a bad woman, 13-18.

NOTES ON CHAP. IX.

The same Wisdom speaks here who spoke in the preceding chapter.

There she represented herself as manifest in all the works of

God in the natural world; all being constructed according to

counsels proceeding from an infinite understanding. Here, she

represents herself as the great potentate, who was to rule all

that she had constructed; and having an immense family to provide

for, had made an abundant provision, and calls all to partake of

it. This, says Calmet, is the continuation of the parable begun in

the preceding chapter, where wisdom is represented as a venerable

lady, whose real beauties and solid promises are opposed to the

false allurements of PLEASURE, who was represented in the seventh

chapter under the idea of a debauched and impudent woman. This

one, to draw young people into her snares, describes the

perfumes, the bed, and the festival which she has prepared.

WISDOM acts in the same way: but, instead of the debauchery, the

false pleasures, and the criminal connections which pleasure had

promised, offers her guests a strong, well-built, magnificent

palace, chaste and solid pleasures, salutary instructions, and a

life crowned with blessedness. This is the sum and the substance

of the parable; but as in the preceding part, so in this, men have

produced strange creatures of their own brain, by way of

explanation. One specimen of this mode of interpretation may

suffice.

The house built by wisdom is the holy humanity of Jesus Christ;

the seven pillars are the seven sacraments, or the seven gifts of

the Holy Ghost, or the whole of the apostles, preachers, and

ministers of the Church; the slain beasts are the sacrifice of

Christ's body upon the cross; and the bread and mingled wine are

the bread and wine in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper!-FATHERS

and DOCTORS.

If we have recourse to any other particulars than those given

above in the summary of the chapter, let us follow the first part

of the parable, where wisdom is represented as laying the plan of

the creation; and then perhaps we may say with safety, that

wisdom, having produced the grand ichnograph or ground plot of

the whole, with all the requisite elevations and specifications of

materials, comes to show us, in this part, that the whole has been

constructed on this plan; and specifies the end for which this

august building has been raised.

Verse 1. Wisdom hath builded her house] The eternal counsel of

God has framed the universe.

She hath hewn out her seven pillars] Every thing has been so

constructed as to exhibit a scene of grandeur, stability, and

durableness.

Verse 2. She hath killed her beasts] God has made the most ample

provision for the innumerable tribes of animal and intellectual

beings, which people the whole vortex of created nature.

Verse 3. She hath sent forth her maidens] The wisdom of God has

made use of the most proper means to communicate Divine knowledge

to the inhabitants of the earth; as a good and gracious Creator

wills to teach them whence they came, how they are supported,

whither they are going, and for what end they were formed. It is

a custom to the present day, in Asiatic countries, to send their

invitations to guests by a company of females, preceded by

eunuchs: they go to the doors of the invited, and deliver their

message.

Verse 4. Whoso is simple] Let the young, heedless, and giddy

attend to my teaching.

Him that wanteth understanding] Literally, he that wanteth a

heart; who is without courage, is feeble and fickle, and

easily drawn aside from the holy commandment.

Verse 5. Come, eat of my bread] Not only receive my

instructions, but act according to my directions.

Drink of the wine-I have mingled.] Enter into my counsels; be

not contented with superficial knowledge on any subject, where any

thing deeper may be attained. Go by the streams to the fountain

head. Look into the principles on which they were formed;

investigate their nature, examine their properties, acquaint

thyself with their relations, connections, influences, and various

uses. See the skill, power, and goodness of God in their

creation. And when thou hast learned all within thy reach, know

that thou knowest but little of the manifold wisdom of God. Let

what thou hast learned humble thee, by showing thee how very

little thou dost know. Thou hast drunk of the provided wine; but

that wine was mingled with water, for God will hide pride from

man. He dwells only on the surface of religious and philosophical

learning, who does not perceive and feel that he is yet but a

child in knowledge; that he see through a glass darkly; that he

perceives men like trees walking; and that there are lengths,

breadths, depths, and heights, in the works and ways of God, which

it will require an eternity to fathom. Here below the pure wine is

mingled with water: but this is God's work. Yet there is enough;

do not therefore be contented with a little. To this subject the

words of the poet may be well applied:-

A little learning is a dangerous thing;

Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring:

For scanty draughts intoxicate the brain,

But drinking largely sobers us again.

POPE

Among the ancient Jews, Greeks, and Romans, wine was rarely drank

without being mingled with water; and among ancient writers we

find several ordinances for this. Some direct three parts of water

to one of wine; some five parts; and Pliny mentions some wines

that required twenty waters: but the most common proportions

appear to have been three parts of water to two of wine. But

probably the yayin masach, mingled wine, was wine mingled,

not with water, to make it weaker; but with spices and other

ingredients to make it stronger. The ingredients were honey,

myrrh, mandragora, opium, and such like, which gave it not only an

intoxicating but stupifying quality also. Perhaps the mixed wine

here may mean wine of the strongest and best quality, that which

was good to cheer and refresh the heart of man.

If we consider the mixed wine as meaning this strong wine, then

the import of the metaphor will be, a thorough investigation of

the works of God will invigorate the soul, strengthen all the

mental powers, enlarge their capacity, and enable the mind to take

the most exalted views of the wonders of God's skill manifested in

the operations of his hand.

Verse 6. Forsake the foolish] For the companion of fools must be

a fool.

And live] Answer the end for which thou wert born.

Verse 7. He that reproveth a scorner] lets, the person who

mocks at sacred things; the libertine, the infidel; who turns

the most serious things into ridicule, and, by his wit, often

succeeds in rendering the person who reproves him ridiculous.

Wisdom seems here to intimate that it is vain to attempt by

reproof to amend such: and yet we must not suffer sin upon our

neighbour; at all hazards, we must deliver our own soul. But no

reproof should be given to any, but in the spirit of love and deep

concern; and when they contradict and blaspheme, leave them to

God.

Verse 9. Give instruction to a wise man] Literally give to the

wise, and he will be wise. Whatever you give to such, they reap

profit from it. They are like the bee, they extract honey from

every flower.

Verse 10. The fear of the Lord] See on Pr 1:7. The knowledge of

the holy; kedoshim, of the holy ones: Sanctorum, of the

saints.-Vulgate. βουληαγιων, the counsel of the holy persons.

Verse 11. For by me thy days shall be multiplied] Vice shortens

human life, by a necessity of consequence: and by the same,

righteousness lengthens it. There is a long addition here in the

Septuagint, Syriac, and Vulgate: "He who trusts in falsity feeds

on the winds; and is like him who chases the fowls of heaven. He

forsakes the way of his own vineyard, and errs from the paths of

his own inheritance. He enters also into lonely and desert places,

and into a land abandoned to thirst; and his hands collect that

which yieldeth no fruit."

Verse 12. If thou be wise] It is thy own interest to be

religious. Though thy example may be very useful to thy neighbours

and friends, yet the chief benefit is to thyself. But if thou

scorn-refuse to receive-the doctrines of wisdom, and die in thy

sins, thou alone shalt suffer the vengeance of an offended God.

Verse 13. A foolish woman is clamorous] Vain, empty women, are

those that make most noise. And she that is full of clamour, has

generally little or no sense. We have had this character already,

see Pr 7:11. The translation of the

Septuagint is very remarkable: γυνηαφρωνκαιθρασειαενδεης

ψωμουγινεται, "A lewd and foolish woman shall be in need of a

morsel of bread."

Verse 14. For she sitteth at the door of her house] Her conduct

here marks at once her folly, impudence, and poverty. See above on

Pr 7:6, &c., where the reader will find a similar character.

Verse 16. Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither] FOLLY or

PLEASURE here personified, uses the very same expressions as

employed by Wisdom, Pr 9:4. Wisdom says, "Let the simple turn in

to me." No, says Folly, "Let the simple turn in to me." If he turn

in to Wisdom, his folly shall be taken away and he shall become

wise; if he turn in to Folly, his darkness will be thickened, and

his folly will remain.

Wisdom sets up her school to instruct the ignorant:

Folly sets her school up next door, to defeat the designs of

Wisdom.

Thus the saying of the satirist appears to be verified:-

"Wherever God erects a house of prayer,

The devil surely builds a chapel there.

And it is found upon examination,

The latter has the larger congregation."

DE FOE.

Verse 17. Stolen waters are sweet] I suppose this to be a

proverbial mode of expression, importing that illicit pleasures

are sweeter than those which are legal. The meaning is easy to be

discerned; and the conduct of multitudes shows that they are ruled

by this adage. On it are built all the adulterous intercourses in

the land.

Verse 18. But he knoweth not that the dead are there] See on

Pr 2:18. He does not know that it was in this way the first

apostates from God and truth walked. rephaim; γιγαντες,

the GIANTS.-Septuagint. The sons of men, the earth-born, to

distinguish them from the sons of God, those who were born from

above. See Clarke on Ge 6:1, &c.

Her guests are in the depths of hell.] Those who have been drawn

out of the way of understanding by profligacy have in general lost

their lives, if not their souls, by their folly. The Septuagint,

Syriac, and Arabic make a long addition to this verse: "But draw

thou back, that thou mayest not die in this place; neither fix thy

eyes upon her; so shalt thou pass by those strange waters. But

abstain thou from strange waters, and drink not of another's

fountain, that thou mayest live a long time, and that years may be

added to thy life." Of this addition there is nothing in the

Hebrew, the Chaldee, or the Vulgate, as now printed: but in the

editio princeps are the following words:- Qui enim applicabitur

illi descendet ad inferos; nam qui abscesserit ab ea salvabitur.

These words were in the copy from which my old MS. Bible has been

made, as the following version proves: Who forsoth schal ben

joyned to hir, schal falle doun on to hell: for whi he that goth

awai fro hir, schal be saved. Three of my own MSS. have the same

reading.

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