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

Proverbs Chapter 4

Proverbs 4:1

pro 4:1

The words "ye children" indicate as usual a new section returning, after the break of Pro 3:27-35, to the old strain of fatherly counsel.

Proverbs 4:2

pro 4:2

Doctrine - Knowledge orally given and received.

Proverbs 4:3

pro 4:3

Probably the words of Solomon himself, who looks back from his glorious throne and his matured wisdom to the training which was the starting point. The part taken by Bathsheba in 1 Kings 1, no less than the friendship between her and Nathan, indicates that a mother's training might well have laid the foundation of the king's future wisdom. Among the Israelites and Egyptians alone, of the nations of the old world, was the son's reverence for the mother placed side by side with that which he owed to his father.

Only beloved, - literally "only," but the word is used apparently (as in Gen 22:2, Gen 22:12) in its derived sense, "beloved like an only son." The Vulgate gives "unigenitus." Compare the words applied to our Lord, as the "only begotten" Joh 1:14, the "beloved" Eph 1:6.

Proverbs 4:4

pro 4:4

The counsel which has come to him, in substance, from his father. Compare it with Sa2 23:2 etc.; Ch1 28:9; Ch1 29:17; Psa 15:1-5; Psa 24:1-10; Ps. 37.

Pro 4:7

Or, "The beginning of wisdom is - get wisdom." To seek is to find, to desire is to obtain.

Pro 4:12

The ever-recurring parable of the journey of life. In the way of wisdom the path is clear and open, obstacles disappear; in the quickest activity ("when thou runnest") there is no risk of falling.

Pro 4:13

She is thy life - Another parallel between personified Wisdom in this book and the Incarnate Wisdom in Joh 1:4.

Pro 4:16

A fearful stage of debasement. Sin is the condition without which there can be no repose.

Pro 4:17

i. e., Bread and wine gained by unjust deeds. Compare Amo 2:8. A less probable interpretation is, "They eat wickedness as bread, and drink violence as wine." Compare Job 15:16; Job 34:7.

Pro 4:18

Shining ... shineth - The two Hebrew words are different; the first having the sense of bright or clear. The beauty of a cloudless sunshine growing on, shining as it goes, to the full and perfect day, is chosen as the fittest figure of the ever increasing brightness of the good man's life. Compare the marginal reference.

Pro 4:19

Compare our Lord's teaching Joh 11:10; Joh 12:35.

Pro 4:20

The teacher speaks again in his own person.

Proverbs 4:22

pro 4:22

Health - See the Pro 3:8 note.

Proverbs 4:23

pro 4:23

Better, as in the margin, i. e., with more vigilance than men use over anything else. The words that follow carry on the same similitude. The fountains and wells of the East were watched over with special care. The heart is such a fountain, out of it flow the "issues" of life. Shall men let those streams be tainted at the fountain-head?

Proverbs 4:24

pro 4:24

Speech turned from its true purpose, the wandering eye that leads on to evil, action hasty and inconsiderate, are the natural results where we do not "above all keeping keep our heart" Pro 4:23.

Proverbs 4:27

pro 4:27

The ever-recurring image of the straight road on which no one ever loses his way represents here as elsewhere the onward course through life of the man who seeks and finds wisdom.

Next: Proverbs Chapter 5