The Pulpit Commentary

Proverbs 2:20-22 (Proverbs 2:20-22)

Conclusion of the discourse in which are antithetically stated the respective destinies of the good and the bad, the upright and the wicked.

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Proverbs 2:22 (Proverbs 2:22)

But the wicked shall be cut off from the earth. The punishment of the wicked is contrasted with the blessings that are promised to the upright. Shall be cut off ; יִפָרֵתוּ ( yikkarethu ) , niph. future of כָרַת ( karath ) , "to cut off, or destroy." LXX ; ὀλοῦνται ; Vulgate, perdentur. ;The expression is used to convey the idea of extermination, as in Psalms 37:9 (cf. Job 18:17 ; Psalms 37:28 ; Psalms 104:35 ). The verb is found also in Genesis 17:14 ; Exodus 12:15 . The earth ; properly, the land. The same word ( אַרֶץ , arets ) is used as in Exodus 12:21 . The transgressors ( בּוֹגְדִים , bog'dim ); here employed synonymously with "the wicked" ( יְשָׁעִים , y'shaim ) , "the impious." The primary meaning of the verb from which it is derived ( בָגַד , bagad ) is "to cover," "to deal treacherously," and hence the word signifies those who act treacherously or perfidiously, the faithless. They are those who perfidiously depart from God, and break away from the covenant with Jehovah. LXX ; παράνομοι (cf. Proverbs 11:3 , Proverbs 11:6 ; Proverbs 13:2 , Proverbs 13:25 ; Proverbs 22:12 ; Psalms 25:3 ; Psalms 59:5 ; Isaiah 33:1 ). Shall be rooted out ( יסֶּחוּ , yiss'khu ) . This word is taken by Davidson as the future kal of נסַה ( nasah ) , "to pluck up," and hence is equivalent to "they shall pluck up," or, passively, "they stroll be plucked up." Delitzsch remarks that it is as at Proverbs 15:25 and Psalms 52:7 , active, "they shall pluck up," and this with the subject remaining indefinite is equivalent to the passive form, "they shall be plucked up." This indefinite "they" can be used of God, as also in Job 7:3 (Fleischer). The expression has been understood as referring to being driven into exile (Gesenius), and this view would be amply justified by the fate which overtook the apostate nation when both the kingdoms of Israel and Judah suffered this fate (cf. LXX . ἐξωθήσονται , "they shall be driven out"). It also derives colour from the language of the preceding verse, but the imagery appears to be derived from the cutting down and rooting up of trees. The destruction of the wicked and transgressors will be complete. They shall be exterminated (cf. Targum, eradicabuntur ; Syriac evellentur ; and Arabic, exterminabuntur ) .

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Proverbs 2:10-22 (Proverbs 2:10-22)

The profit of religious knowledge

It is preservative amidst the influences of evil example and of sensuous solicitation.


1 . By taking up a central place in the consciousness. "When wisdom enters thy heart, and knowledge is dear to thy soul." Not as a stranger or mere guest, but a beloved and confidential intimate. The heart denotes here, as elsewhere, "the centre and organic basis of the collective life of the soul, the seat of sentiment, the starting point of personal self-determination." The soul, as used by Hebrew writers, denotes the entire assemblage of the passive and active principles of the inner life. Delitzsch terms the heart, as used in the Bible, "the birthplace of thought;" and thin is true, because thought springs out of the dim chaos of feeling as the defined crystals from the chemical mixture.

2 . By counteractive force. If the inmost thing we know and feel be a sense of right and a sense of God, a pure sentiment and a lofty idea, this must exclude the baser feelings, and displace the images of pleasure and objects of desire which are unlawful and undivine. Them is watch and ward in the fortress of Man-soul against the enemy and the intruder. The "expulsive force of a new affection" operates. It is the occupied heart that alone is temptation proof. "Discretion shall watch over thee, prudence guard thee." The mind, directed to what is without, and feeling for its course among uncertainties, thus appears forearmed against dangers.

II. THE DANGERS FROM WHICH IT PRESERVES . Social dangers. In society lies our field of full moral development, both in sympathy with the good and in antipathy to the evil. Two dangers are particularized.

1 . The influence of the bad man. We know men by their talk and by their actions—their habit in both; their "style," their "form," in the expressive language of the day.

2 . The solicitations of the bad woman. The expressions, "strange, foreign" ( Proverbs 2:16 ), appear to designate her as the wife of another, an adulteress (comp. Proverbs 6:26 ; but the sense is disputed). To allegorize the passage is to weaken its force; for the actual dangers of youth are clearly indicated. She is depicted in the strongest light of reality. This is what she is in the view of the inspired conscience.

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Proverbs 2:20-22 (Proverbs 2:20-22)

The principle of moral stability

This may be regarded as the epilogue or summary of the whole chapter. The object of all Wisdom's exhortations and warnings is the direction of youth to the good way, and that they may hold on the path of the just. For—

I. THE RIGHTEOUS HAVE A FUTURE BEFORE THEM . A "dwelling in the land"—the homeland; sound dear to an Israelitish ear. The form in which the happy future shall be realized may be first material, but only to pass into the spiritual. For ages Israel saw the promise under the image of material prosperity; afterwards, in the purification and enlightenment of her conscience by the gospel, she looked for a "better country, that is, an heavenly." Both senses may be included. The enlightened spirit knows how to idealize every material content, and will leave much undefined in the prospect. Enough to say of all the seekers of God's kingdom and righteousness, "They have a future before them." The soul itself suffices to itself for the scene el bliss, and converts the rich land of Canaan into the type of its inward joys and harvests of good.

II. THE WICKED HAVE NO FUTURE BEFORE THEM . That is, in the sense par excellence. Their doom is to be rooted out and cast forth from the land. What lies behind the material figure, who can say? To conceive it transcends the bounds of human thought. There is no travelling out of the analogies of experience possible. We reach at last a negative conception in the case both of future bliss and future woe. The Buddhists aim as their highest goal at the Nirvana, which is the negation of finite existence with its defects and evils. What must be the Nirvana of the wicked? The negation of the Infinite must mean confinement in self, and this is death indeed. They who have persistently said "No" to God and the good in their life will be confronted by an everlasting "No!" And thus again the wheel comes full circle, and they reap as they sow (comp. Matthew 7:24-27 ).—J.

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Proverbs 2:20-22 (Proverbs 2:20-22)

Recompense and retribution

It ought to be enough for us that wisdom is the supremely excellent thing; that the service of God is the one right thing. We should hasten to do that which commends itself to our conscience as that which is obligatory. But God knows that, in our weakness and frailty, we have need of other inducements than a sense of duty; he has, therefore, given us others. He has made wisdom and righteousness to be immeasurably remunerative; he has made folly and sin to be utterly destructive to us. We look at—

I. THE REWARD OF WISDOM . ( Proverbs 2:20 , Proverbs 2:21 .)

1 . The man who pursues wisdom, who seeks conformity to the will of the Wise One, will have holy companionship for the path of life. He will walk in the way in which good and righteous men walk. Instead of being "the companion of fools," he will be "the friend of the wise." Those whose hearts are pure, whose minds are stored with heavenly treasure, and whose lives are admirable, will be about him, making his whole path fragrant with the flowers of virtue, rich with the fruits of goodness.

2 . He will be upheld in personal integrity. Walking in the way of the good, and keeping the paths of the righteous, he himself will be preserved in his integrity, and be set before God's face forever (see Psalms 41:12 ). His feet will not slip; he will not wander into forbidden ways; he will keep "the King's highway of holiness;" his face will be ever set toward the heavenly Jerusalem.

3 . He will dwell in the land of plenty ( Proverbs 2:21 ). To "dwell in the land," to "remain" in the land of promise, was to abide in that country where all things in rich abundance waited for the possession and enjoyment of the people of God ( Exodus 3:8 ). Those who are the children of wisdom now dwell in a region which is full of blessing. If outward prosperity be not always their portion, yet is there provided by God

II. THE FATE OF FOLLY . ( Proverbs 2:22 .) Those who were the children of folly in the wilderness period were shut out of the land of promise; they did not enter into rest. The threat of the Holy One to those who had inherited the land was deportation and distance from their inheritance—being "cut off" and "rooted out." The evils which foolish and stubborn souls have now to dread, as the just penalty of their folly and their frowardness, are

Such impenitent and unbelieving ones, by their own folly, cut themselves off from that "eternal life" which begins in a blessed and holy union with the Lord of glory here, and which is consummated and perpetuated in the nearer fellowship and more perfect bliss of heaven.—C.

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Proverbs 2:1-22 (Proverbs 2:1-22)

3. Third admonitory discourse, pointing out the benefits which arise from a sincere, earnest, and persevering search after Wisdom. This discourse divides itself into three parts.

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