1 My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee;
“hide…with thee” – just as the psalmist urged young men to avoid sin by hiding God’s word in their hearts (Ps 119:11).
2 So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding;
“incline thine ear” – listening implies attentiveness and obedience to God (Is 55:3; Jer 13:15).
“heart” – the Hebrew word translated “heart” (here and in 4:21; 1 Kgs 3:9) can sometimes be translated “mind” or “understanding” (Job 12:3).
3 Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding;
4 If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures;
“silver…hid treasures” – Job 28:1-11 describes ancient mining techniques, comparing mining with the search for wisdom (see Job 28:12).
5 Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.
“fear of the LORD” – (see 1:7).
“knowledge of God” – involves knowing God as a person (Phil 3:10, and see “Heaven or Hell: Where Will You Spend Eternity?” ).
6 For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.
7 He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: he is a buckler to them that walk uprightly.
“buckler” – or shield. it is associated with victory also in Ps 18:2, 35; cf Prov 30:5).
8 He keepeth the paths of Judgment, and preserveth the way of his saints.
9 Then shalt thou understand righteousness, and Judgment, and equity; yea, every good path.
10 When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul;
11 Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee:
“preserve…keep” – as God guards the faithful (v 8).
12 To deliver thee from the way of the evil man, from the man that speaketh froward things;
“speaketh froward things” – uses perverse and dishonest speech. The deceitfulness of men’s speech is also mentioned in 8:13; 10:31-32; 17:20.
Verses 12-19 – wisdom will save from the enticements of men to follow perverse ways (vv 12-15) and from the enticements of the adulteress (vv 16-19).
13 Who leave the paths of uprightness, to walk in the ways of darkness;
“paths of uprightness” – see 3:6; 9:15-16.
“ways of darkness” – men love darkness instead of light (see Jn 3:19-21; Job 24:15-16; Is 29:15; Rom 13:12).
14 Who rejoice to do evil, and delight in the frowardness of the wicked;
“rejoice…delight…wicked” – like the sinners of 1:10-16.
15 Whose ways are crooked, and they froward in their paths:
“ways are crooked” – Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood: their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; wasting and destruction are in their paths (Is 59:7-8); and their reward for being crooked is: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear (Is 59:2).
16 To deliver thee from the strange woman, even from the stranger which flattereth with her words;
“strange woman…stranger” – the Hebrew for these terms occurs again in 5:20 and 7:5. The terms mean lit. a “foreigner,” implying an “adulteress,” becau
se anyone other than one’s own wife was to be considered off limits, like a foreigner who worshipped another god (cf 1 Kgs 11:1). “Stranger is parallel to “evil woman” in :24 and “whore” in 23:27.
“Words” – equal to the “flattery of the tongue” of 6:24 and the “fair speech” of 7:21, cf 5:3.
17 Which forsaketh the guide of her youth, and forgetteth the covenant of her God.
“guide of her young” – her husband, whom she married when she was a young woman.
“covenant of her God” – perhaps the marriage covenant, spoken in God’s presence (see Ez 16:8; Mal 2:14). Here, however, the “covenant of her God” more likely refers to the breaking of the seventh commandment (Ex 20”14).
18 For her house inclineth unto death, and her paths unto the dead.
“inclined unto death” – a life of immorality leads to the destruction and death of all who are involved.
“the dead” – the deceased are in the grave (or Sheol), “the chambers of death” (7:27).
19 None that go unto her return again, neither take they hold of the paths of life.
20 That thou mayest walk in the way of good men, and keep the paths of the righteous.
21 For the upright shall dwell in the land, and the perfect shall remain in it.
“dwell in the land” – Israel had been promised the land of Canaan (Gen 17:8; Deut 4:1) and Ps 37:29 says that “The righteous shall inherit the land” (see Ps 37:9, 11; Matt 5:5).
“perfect” – a person who lives a “blameless” life, not a life of sinless perfection.
22 But the wicked shall be cut off from the earth, and the transgressors shall be rooted out of it.
“cut off from the earth…rooted out of it” – the Hebrew word for “earth” can also be translated “land” and here refers to removal from the promised land of Israel. In Deut 28:63 God warned that if the people refuse to obey Him they will be “plucked from off the land.” Evil men and their offspring will be cut off (Ps 37:9, 28).