Verses 1-5 encourages us to seek wisdom and vv. 5-9 is the answer. Again the theme is hungering for wisdom. Though this may be directed to the young, it pertains to all of us. The father here instructs his son to heed his counsel. It is wisdom beckoning us to heed God’s word. The two work together.
2:1-4 — 1 My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, 2 making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; 3 yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, 4 if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures,
This is taken to be the father instructing his son to follow the path of wisdom (cf. Waltke). That is probably true. It is also wisdom speaking through the father instructing us to follow her path of wisdom.
Derek Kidner makes an insightful observation. Whereas wisdom clamored to be heard in 1:20, now the pupil must clamor for her. Wisdom is not calling for us to speculate in the dark. In verse 1, wisdom instructs us to receive her words and treasure [store up] her commands.
Verse 2 could be translated as “by making your ear attentive…” (cf. Waltke, 213 n.1), that is, we receive and treasure God’s word by making our ear attentive to wisdom and inclining our heart to understand. The individual’s heart must be disposed or inclined toward wisdom. The person cannot merely tolerate God’s Word or simply register its existence as if that is the only thing God requires.
Verses 3-4 expand upon the same point. Ardent efforts are enjoined; resolute pursuits are called upon. William Arnot aptly stated, “The zeal of Mammon’s worshippers rebukes the servants of the living God.” We have read of many men and families who ventured into the West to find Gold. Several lost their lives in the pursuit of fleeting treasure. Juan Ponce de León searched for the rumored fountain of youth in the Bahamas (ended in Florida); Hernán Cortés burned his ships in Mexico so as to induce his soldiers to be committed to his cause. People give themselves to their gods and causes. God calls us to desire his wisdom as silver and hidden treasure (she is worth more, 3:14 and 16:16, “How much better to get wisdom than gold! To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.”).
Charles Bridges believes these descriptions are exhibited in our prayers. Our ardent prayers manifest such characteristics. “Earthly wisdom is gained by study; heavenly wisdom by prayer. Study may form a Biblical scholar; prayer puts the heart under a heavenly tutorage, and therefore forms the wise and spiritual Christian.” (Bridges, 14) Furthermore, because wisdom is founded on receiving God’s word and commands, this earnest searching must be exhibited in our study of God’s Word.
2:5-9 —5 then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. 6 For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; 7 he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity, 8 guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of his saints. 9 Then you will understand righteousness and justice and equity, every good path;
If we earnestly clamor for this heavenly wisdom, then we will find: “you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.” This is a remarkable statement because fearing the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and we learn that an earnest searching after God’s wisdom will help us to rightly fear God and know Him. This understanding of God comes by receiving His Word.
Furthermore, we are told that God is the one who gives this wisdom, knowledge of Himself, an understanding of His ways. Wisdom is not something plucked by human effort; mere effort cannot arrest it. It is something God gives; He gives “sound wisdom” to the upright. Wisdom is not imparted to the unrighteous but those who receive His word and live uprightly. “Because the LORD alone has access to wisdom (Job 28:12-28) and gave it birth from his very being (Prov. 8:22-24), he alone gives wisdom (cf. Dan. 2:21-22).” (Waltke) George Lawson says, “It is plain that those who employ themselves in the diligent pursuit of wisdom, have been already blessed with some degree of true knowledge; for how could they value so highly that with which they were altogether unacquainted? He is already wise, who prefers wisdom to every earthly object; and he shall be wise still, for to him that hath shall be given, and he shall have more abundantly.” (Lawson, 31)
Verses 7-8 pile up the practical and moral benefits of God’s wisdom. God will protect those whom He blesses. “God’s protection is not a reward extraneous to the knowledge, but rather a consequence intrinsic to it.” (cited in Waltke) Wisdom and uprightness, integrity, and saintliness go together. Wisdom is not abstract but exhibits or demonstrates itself by godly characteristics. God will protect us through this difficult dark world.
Verse 9 reveals the implications this wisdom will have on the righteous. As God gives us wisdom (v. 5) and protects us (vv. 7, 8), we can begin to understand the proper paths in life, that is, “righteousness and justice and equity.” That is, “wisdom brings ethical enlightenment” (Longman). “The internalized divine wisdom and knowledge enable the disciple to discern the right, just, and fair that the LORD commits himself to protect.” (Waltke)
This is what we need in this world— what is the proper path? How do we discern which way to go? With so many choices, we need to be able to understand “every good path.” God promises us that if we receive His words and treasure his commandments by inclining ourselves to better know and apply them, he will enable us to walk in the good path. This what wisdom promise.
2:10-15 — 10 for wisdom will come into your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul; 11 discretion will watch over you, understanding will guard you, 12 delivering you from the way of evil, from men of perverted speech, 13 who forsake the paths of uprightness to walk in the ways of darkness, 14 who rejoice in doing evil and delight in the perverseness of evil, 15 men whose paths are crooked, and who are devious in their ways.
These verses expand upon the point begun in v. 9. God’s gift of wisdom will aid us and God’s wisdom will sit well within us — “pleasant to your souls.” (v. 10) That is, God’s saints love God’s ways and His ways are not swallowed like bitter medicine but embraced as something pleasant.
God’s wisdom will become a part of us and it will help us. “The process is that wisdom and knowledge, when they become your own way of thinking, and your acquired taste (10), will make the talk and interests of evil men alien to you (12-15).” (Kidner) The impact of this wisdom leads us to take notice of and forsake the paths of unrighteousness. That is, saints will see the paths to be clear; they will immediately avoid those paths that are crooked. One of the effects is that we won’t fall into the wrong crowd or follow those who forsake the Lord. “The protection takes the form of extrication, removal from association with a certain type of person.” (Longman) Remember, the choice is clear and simple to the righteous because they have cried out to God for wisdom and have treasured His commandments. But that is not the case with everyone.
Some find the choice difficult. The way of evil men seems promising, at times pleasant, and some times praiseworthy. It appears that way to those who do not have God’s wisdom. Therefore, those who fall into bad company are not mere victims. Their wayward naïve lifestyle has led them to the foolish paths they chose; they have, as it were, sown the seeds of their own destruction. They did not seek wisdom and in times of critical choices, they fell into “the way of evil.” May God keep us from “men of perverted speech.”
Shunning evil and evil men does not mean we are to avoid unbelievers (cf. 1Cor. 5:10). We must consider our own strengths and weaknesses in these matters. Some are easily led astray by the influence of one person while others can withstand a thousand. Either way, each saint must discern what is right and follow it for the Lord’s sake. May the Lord preserve us.
2:16-19 — 16 So you will be delivered from the forbidden woman, from the adulteress with her smooth words, 17 who forsakes the companion of her youth and forgets the covenant of her God; 18 for her house sinks down to death, and her paths to the departed; 19 none who go to her come back, nor do they regain the paths of life.
Part of wisdom’s protection is from sexual sins. There are those men and women who will lead the young one astray into immorality. Here is something we often overlook. We tend to consider falling into immorality as a matter of weak strength, lack of will, strong overpowering desires, etc. But how did some one come to this? Proverbs teaches us that preservation from these sins is rooted in our love of wisdom, of God, and in what we treasure. There are perverse men and women who will seduce us — the righteous are protected from them. Sexual sins are not unrelated to our moral constitution and wisdom — the two are related. Lack wisdom and we can even fall into these sins. Possess wisdom as the Lord gives and He will preserve us from them. Proverbs 22:14 says, “The mouth of an adulteress is a deep pit; He who is cursed of the LORD will fall into it.”
Hubbard is therefore very correct: “What we have, then, in verses 16-20 is not an isolated warning about fornication or adultery but a further description of wisdom’s ability to serve as shield and guard (vv. 7-8) — ‘to deliver’ (v. 16) — in life’s temptation. Wisdom’s power is the chief subject, not the wanton’s wiles.” (Hubbard) Some 65 verses are given to this immoral woman. It will be the subject of ch. 5-7. “This understanding and prudence is an antidote against the poisonous infection of evil men and strange women.” (Lawson, 38)
With the growing number of immoral places (the so called “adult entertainment” centers or “gentlemen’s clubs” along with myriads of immoral facilities) in our country and around the world, we must wonder if the Lord is not judging our land. Surely this is a curse upon our neighborhood and nation.
It would not be stretching the meaning of the text to suggest that Solomon was also alluding to religious compromise. Adultery serves as analogy to spiritual adultery. We need protection from both.
2:20-22 — 20 So you will walk in the way of the good and keep to the paths of the righteous. 21 For the upright will inhabit the land, and those with integrity will remain in it, 22 but the wicked will be cut off from the land, and the treacherous will be rooted out of it.
As God’s wisdom protects us from evil men and wicked women, so it enables us to walk with the righteous. The final result of wisdom’s protection is that we will live to inhabit the land and not be cut off prematurely. “Failure to heed wisdom’s call leads either to premature death or to a life so void of happiness as to be a living death in which none of the God-given blessing of the ‘earth’… is available to lend any joy or meaning to life.” (Hubbard) [The picture is concrete and envisions a land without the wicked. The fullness of this vision is accomplished when Christ comes back and establishes the New Heaven and Earth..] “Death is a kind messenger sent to the righteous by their heavenly Father, calling them to the possession of their eternal inheritance; to the wicked it is a messenger of wrath, summoning them to the abodes of misery.” (Lawson)