Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Israel. The dignity of the author, and the importance of the subject, invite us to read. (St. Basil) — Solomon is the first whose name is placed at the head of any work in Scripture. (Calmet)
Ver. 2. To know. This is the design of these parables. (Calmet) — They tend to instruct both the unexperienced and the wise, ver. 5. There are three sorts of wisdom: the divine, which is God himself; (chap. iii. 16.) the supernatural, which is his gift, to lead us into all virtue; and the worldly, which is mixed with error, &c. (Worthington) (Wisdom vii. 25.)
Ver. 4. Subtilty. Discretion to the innocent. (Calmet)
Ver. 5. Wiser. “Tamdiu audiendum & discendum est, quamdiu nescias, & si proverbio credimus, quamdiu vivas,” says Seneca, ep. 77. — Governments. And be fit to govern others, (Worthington) as well as himself. (Calmet)
Ver. 6. Sayings. This science was much esteemed, 3 Kings x. l., and Ecclesiasticus xxxix. 2.
Ver. 7. Fear. Thus we arrive at charity. (St. Augustine, in ep. Jo. ix.; Job xxviii. 28., &c.) This fear includes religion, but not barren speculations. (Calmet) — It implies a desire to act, and not simply to understand.
Ver. 8. Mother. The first precept is to learn of our elders, and the second to resist evil counsels, ver. 10. (Worthington) — Our parents have the greatest influence over us. Solomon presupposes that they are virtuous and well informed. (Calmet)
Ver. 10. Entice. Hebrew, “deceive.” (Calmet) — Pessimum inimicorum genus laudantes. (Tacitus, in vit. Agric.)
Ver. 12. Pit. Grave, or hell, like Dathan, Numbers xvi. This shews the greatest rage, Job xxxi. 31.
Ver. 17. Wings. If thou attend, therefore, to my instructions, their arts will be vain. (Ven. Bede) — They unjustly seek to deceive the pious. (Calmet) — Watchfulness will be the best protection against them. (Worthington)
Ver. 19. Possessors. Of money. (Calmet) — While they attempt to invade another’s property, they ruin themselves, and come to the gallows. (Haydock)
Ver. 20. Streets. In every place we may learn wisdom. “The wise learn more from fools, than fools do from the wise,” as Cato well observed. (Calmet)
Ver. 22. Fools. Hebrew, “and scorners delight in their scorning.” (Protestants) — Such are the pests of society. (Haydock) — They turn piety to ridicule, and will talk about things which they do not understand, like our esprits forts, (Calmet) or pretended philosophers. (Haydock)
Ver. 26. Mock. God is too much above us to act thus; but he will treat us as an enraged enemy. (Calmet) — In hell, the damned will cry in vain, ver. 28. They had sufficient graces offered while they were alive. (Worthington)
Ver. 28. Find me. Because their repentance was false, like that of Antiochus, 2 Machabees ix. 13., and Psalm xi. 4. (Calmet)
Ver. 30. Despised. Literally, “detracted,” (Haydock) supposing my threats would not be put in execution. Hebrew, “they abhorred.” (Calmet)
Ver. 32. Turning. Hebrew, “the ease of the simple,” who have given way to deceit. (Calmet) — Them. The objects of their eager desires, prove their ruin, Ezechiel xvi. 49.
Ver. 33. Evils. Both the just and the wicked, (ver. 31.; Haydock) shall be treated according to their deserts, 2 Corinthians v. 10. (Worthington) — Even in this world, the just enjoy the peace of a good conscience. (Menochius)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
The use and end of the proverbs. An exhortation to flee the company of the wicked: and to hearken to the voice of wisdom.
1 The parables of Solomon, the son of David, king of Israel,
2 To know wisdom, and instruction:
3 To understand the words of prudence: and to receive the instruction of doctrine, justice, and judgment, and equity:
4 To give subtilty to little ones, to the young man knowledge and understanding.
5 A wise man shall hear and shall be wiser: and he that understandeth shall possess governments.
6 He shall understand a parable, and the interpretation, the words of the wise, and their mysterious sayings.
7 *The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Fools despise wisdom and instruction.
8 My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother:
9 That grace may be added to thy head, and a chain of gold to thy neck.
10 My son, if sinners shall entice thee, consent not to them.
11 If they shall say: Come with us, let us lie in wait for blood, let us hide snares for the innocent without cause:
12 Let us swallow him up alive like hell, and whole as one that goeth down into the pit.
13 We shall find all precious substance, we shall fill our houses with spoils.
14 Cast in thy lot with us, let us all have one purse.
15 My son, walk not thou with them, restrain thy foot from their paths.
16 *For their feet run to evil, and make haste to shed blood.
17 But a net is spread in vain before the eyes of them that have wings.
18 And they themselves lie in wait for their own blood, and practise deceits against their own souls.
19 So the ways of every covetous man destroy the souls of the possessors.
20 Wisdom preacheth abroad, she uttereth her voice in the streets:
21 At the head of multitudes she crieth out, in the entrance of the gates of the city she uttereth her words, saying:
22 O children, how long will you love childishness, and fools covet those things which are hurtful to themselves, and the unwise hate knowledge?
23 Turn ye at my reproof: behold I will utter my spirit to you, and will shew you my words.
24 *Because I called, and you refused: I stretched out my hand, and there was none that regarded.
25 You have despised all my counsel, and have neglected my reprehensions.
26 I also will laugh in your destruction, and will mock when that shall come to you which you feared.
27 When sudden calamity shall fall on you, and destruction, as a tempest, shall be at hand: when tribulation and distress shall come upon you:
28 Then shall they call upon me, and I will not hear: they shall rise in the morning, and shall not find me:
29 Because they have hated instruction, and received not the fear of the Lord,
30 Nor consented to my counsel, but despised all my reproof.
31 Therefore they shall eat the fruit of their own way, and shall be filled with their own devices.
32 The turning away of little ones shall kill them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them.
33 But he that shall hear me, shall rest without terror, and shall enjoy abundance, without fear of evils.
7: Psalm cx. 10.; Ecclesiasticus i. 10.[16.?]
16: Isaias lix. 7.
24: Isaias lxv. 12. and lxvi. 4.; Jeremias vii. 13.