James Comper Gray.

The Biblical museum : a collection of notes, explanatory, homiletic, and illustrative, on the Holy Scriptures, especially designed for the use of ministers, Bible students, and Sunday school teachers (Volume 7) online

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flolp §)criptures>



Author of " Topics for Teachers," " The Class and the Desk," die., ^


<(onta(n(ng ^roberbs : StcUsiastrs : Song of Solomon.





I. Title. The euperscription of the book, which has been handed down
In the ]\Iasoretic text, and which rests upon several passages in the book
itself (as i. 1, x. 1, xxv. 1), may be more correctly rendered Sayings of Solomon.
(See titles in the LXX. and of the Vulgate.) The Heb. word does, indeed,
Bonietimes describe proverbs in the true sense, or general practical maxims,
growing out of the spirit of a people and expressed in a popular form ; but in
itself it signifies only resemblance, likeness, and it is therefore used, according'
to Oriental poetry, to designate symbolic or parabolic apothegms, or poetic
and philosophical maxims in the widest sense. (See Dr. Otto Zockler's Intro-
duction.) II. Author. That Solomon was the author of the principal part
of this book has never been doubted ; it is, no doubt, a selection from the
three thousand proverbs which he is said to have spoken (1 Kings iv. 32). It
did not, however, as it stands proceed from him : from xxv. to xxix. inclusive
they are said to have been arranged by order of King Hezekiah ; xxx. contains
the instructions of Agur to his friends Ithiel and Ucal ; and xxxi. those of
King Lemuel's mother to her son {Litton). It seems certain that the collection
was arranged in the order in which we now have it, by different hands, but it
is not, therefore, to be concluded that they are not the productions of Solomon.
Jewish vn-iters say that Solomon wrote the Canticles in his youth, the Proverbs
in his riper years, and Ecclesiastes in his old age {Home). III. Scope. " To
instruct men in the deeper mysteries of true wisdom and understanding, the
height and perfection of which is the true knowledge of the Divine wiU and
the sincere fear of the Lord" {Eoberts). To this end the book is filled with
the choicest sententious aphorisms, infinitely surpassing all the ethical sayings
of the ancient sages, and comprising in themselves distinct doctrines, duties,
etc., of piety towards God, of equity and benevolence towards man, and of
sobriety and temperance, together with precepts for the right education of
children, and for the relative situations of subjects, magistrates, and sovereigns"
{Home). IV. Characteristics. " It may be rightly called a book of good
works ; for Solomon there teaches the nature of a godly and useful life, so
that every man aiming at godliness should make it his daily handbook or book
of devotion, and often read in it and compare with it his life" {Luther). " The
Book of Proverbs is the best statesman's manual which was ever written.
An adherent to the political economy and spirit of that collection of apothegms
and essays would do more to eradicate from a people the causes of extrava-
gance, debasement, and ruin, than all the contributions to political economy
of Say, Smith, Malthus, and Chalmers together" {Coleriilge). "All the
heathen moralists and proverbialists joined together cannot furnish us with
one such book as that of the Proverbs" {Stimrt). " The Proverbs are so justly
founded on principles of human nature, and so adapted to the permanent
interests of man, that they agree with the manners of every age, and may be
assumed as rules for the direction of our conduct in every condition and rank
of life, however varied in its complexion or diversified by circumstances ; they
embrace not only the concerns of private morality but the great objects of
political importance" {Gray). "From the oratory of David we now pass to
the school of Solomon, to find in the son of the greatest of theologians the
first of philosophers" {MichaelUs).

Additional Note. — The Booh of Pro^'erhs especially adapted for young
men. — " The leading design of this portion of God's Word is. as stated in the
beginning of it, to give to the young men knowledge and discretion CI — 4),
■which it especially directs him to seek by attention to the pious instructions
of liis parents (1 — 8, vL 20 — ^23) and the precepts of heavenly wisdom. It *»


(Aeeording to Angus.)

Part I. — A connected discourse on the Talue
and attainment of true wisdom. . i.— ix.

Part II.— Proverbs, strictly so called, ex-
pressed with much force and sim-
plicity X.— xxii. 16.

Part III.— Contains several renewed ad-
monitions on the study of wisdom
xxii. 17 — xxiv.

Part IV.— Proverbs selected by the men of
Hezekiah ; by those, that is, whom he
employed to restore the service of the
Jewish Church xxv. — xxix.

Part v.— The wise instructions of Agur to
his pupils Ithiel and Ucal, and lessons
addressed to Lemuel by his mother,

chiefly enigmatical xxx.

A. picture of female excellence xxxi.

(According to Nome.)

Part I.— The proem or exordium .... i.— ix.

Part II. — For the use of persons who have

advanced from youth to manhood

X. — xxii. 16.

Part III.— Principally relating to rich men

and nobles ; a miscellaneus collection

xxii. 17 — xxiv.

Part IV. — A posthumous appendix

xxv. — Xxxi.

(According to Litton.)
Part I. — An exhortation to msdom . . i. — ix.
Part II. — Disconnected moral maxims

X. — xxii. 17,

Part III.— Observations on wisdom

xxii. 17— xxlt^
Part IV.— Separate maxims .. xxv.— xxix.

Part v.— The supplement xxx.— xxit

(According to ZOckler.)

1. Group of admonitory discourses

i. 8— iii. 35.

2. Group of admonitory discourses

iv. 1— vii. 27.

3. Group of admonitory discourses

viii. 1— ix. 18.

COLLECTION. Genuine Proverbs of

1. Difference between the pious and un»

godly X.— XV.

2. Exhortations to obedience, etc. xvi.— xxii.

HEZEKIAH'S DAY to the genuine
Proverbs of Solomon, which form the
nucleus of the collection.

1. Addition xxii. 17— xxiv. 22.

2. Addition xxiv. 23, 24.


1. Admonition to the fear of God, etc. . . xxv.

2. Various warnings xxvi. — ^xxix.


1. Words of Agur xxx.

2. Words of Lemuel, etc xz^

indeed a storehouse of practical wisdom. It is a guide to his affections
(iv. 6 — 2.3), to guard him against those temptations to which youth is most
exposed (i. 10, ii. 16—19, v. 1—14, vi. 24—35, vii. 5—27, ix. 13—18,
xxiii. 26—35, xxix. 3), and to direct him with regard to his settlement in life,
by pointing out the advantages of a wise (xiv. 1, xix. 14, xxxi. lo — 31) and
the evils of a wrong choice (xi. 22. xix. 13, xxi. 9-19, xxv. 24, xxvii. 15. 16).
It moreover gives him that knowledge of the world wliich will abundantly
supply his want of experience, and guide his feet into the way of peace in his
intercourse with it, teaching him what to expect and how to act under the
ever- varying circumstances in which, he may be placed " {Nicholls).


[Cap. 1. 1-4.

a 1 K. iii. 12, iv.
29, 32; Eco. xii.
9, 10.

b Miller, who
Bays : " Proverb
( prnrerhium of
tlip Lat-..)i.^aTery
good tranj-lation,
bee, as so terse
and graphic as to
be proverbium
(/or, or inslead
of, much verbi-
fl^e), the form of
speech being pre-
gnant, and by
Borae turn or
trope crowding
fnitlltim in parvo,
the idea, pro t-erbo
or pro verbis an-
Bwerg very per-

c Ps. cxix. 98—
100; 2 Ti. iii. 15
— 17;lTh.v. 21;
P8. xvii. 4.

vv. 1, 2. Dr. J.
Jortin, Ss. iii.

vv. 1—4. J. Aber-
nelhy, Ss. iii. 1.

d Dr. Thomas.
Proverbs: "The
■wit of one man,
and the wisdom
of many."— £«/•;
JRussell. "Re ni-
nants which, on
account of their
sliortness and
correctness, have
been saved out of
the wreck and
ruins of ancient
Aristotle. "Short
sentences, into
•whicli.asin rules,
the ancients liave
compressed life."
— A ri r i c I a.
"Well-known and
Well-used dicta,
framed in a some-
what out-of-the-
way form or
fashion." — Eras-
mus. "Edge tools
of speech, which
cut and penetrate
the knots of busi-
ness and affairs."


1 — 4. (1) proverbs, root of Heb. word sigs. either to rule, or
to resemble : so these Provs. are some of them ma.ciins, and others
parables ; and not proverbs, in merely the current and popular
sense. Solomon," who if he did not all, was at least
the compiler, " and fixed upon all the sanction of an approving
inspiration."* the . . David, son and father may well be proud
of ea. other, king . . Israel, a great nation, and a great king.
It was this Sol. and no other man, with or assuming the name,
who wrote this book — a royal author who wrote royally. (2)
know,' become acquainted with, wisdom, piety: this, in its
widest sense, the truest wisdom, instruction, admonition ;
warning and discipline, perceive, discern, spiritual insight.,
(3) receive, into the heart as principles of holy living, the . .
wisdom, the correction and discipline of religion, justice,
or right walking in relation to God. judgment, true opinion
concerning conduct, custom, equity, what is right and reason-
able towards man. (4) subtilty, cunning, in sense of skilful-
ness ; in discriminating betw. truth and error, right and wrong,
simple, open, candid inquirer, to . . man, this bk. pre-emi-
nently one for youths, knowledge, of morals, discretion,
in speech and conduct.

A great teacher and true learner (vr. 1 — 6). — In tiese six verses
we have — I. A great teacher. 1. His history, the son of a great
man, the king of a great people ; 2. His lessons, their form ; 3.
His design, mental and moral culture. II. A true learner. 1.
A wise man ; 2. Attentive ; 3. Improving.''

Proverbs. — One of the missionaries was working up into prac-
tical use a large collection of national proverbs gathered during
many years of extended travel, and I subjoin a few, which
especially struck me, either by their quaint force or their resem-
blance to our own wise saws. For instance, the well-known
warning not to look a gift horse in the mouth, has its equivalent
in Badaga, one of the Indian tongues, '■ If any one offers you a
buffalo, do not ask if she gives milk : " and the Malayali render-
ing of " A burnt child dreads the fire," is identical with the
corresponding French proverb, " A scalded cat fears cold water,"
while the Hindu version is very picturesque and characteristic,
' ' He whose father was killed by a bear is afraid of a black
stump." Again, we say, "If you send an ass on its travels it will
not come back a horse," which in Tamil runs, '' You may decorate
an ass, but that will not make it a horse ; " and another dialect
expresses nearly the same idea by the sententious adage, " A
donkey may grow, but he will never be an elephant." The
European proverbs that " No man is a hero to his ralet de e/iambre,"
and that " Familiarity breeds contempt," are tersely and pictu-
resquely combined in the Tamil adage, " The temple cat does not
fear the idol." The Malayalis reprove a boaster who glories over
the unfortunate, with the pithy remark, " Any one can leap a
fallen tree ; " and their proverb, " Running Tip and down the boat
does not bring one sooner to land." is a keen rebuke to those who
chafe and fret under circumstances of forced inaction ; while the

Cap. i. 5, 6.]


sacred warning', not to cast pearls before swine is aptly para-
phrased by the question, " What is the use of reading the Vedas
to a wild buffalo ? " A few more Tamil sayings seem well worthy
of notice. " The tears of the oppressed are sharp swords," reads
like a sentence ti'om the Proverbs of Solomon : and " The flower
out ot reach is dedicated to God." is surely a most graceful state-
ment of the futility of day dreams of service and sacrifice in the
pathless future. "The ant. measured by its own hand is eight
spans long, ' expres-es with superior elegance and force the gist
of more than one English proverb ; and " A black cow may give
white milk," is an ax^lage admirable for terseness and point, even
if doubtful in morality. There is much shrewdness in the Servian
proverbs, " Sj^eak the truth, but come away quickly after," and
" WTien an old dog barks, then see what the matter is ; " and
volumes of truth and beauty are summed up in the simple saying,
" The sun goes over unclean places but is not defiled." Of how
many bright and holy lives spent in labour among vice and
misery, might this proverb be taken as the fittest motto ! Russian
proverbs present a remarkable combination of sound common
sense, deep religious feeling, and pithy, almost coarse expression.
A few taken almost at random will illustrate all three. "Measure
your cloth ten times, for you can only cut it once." " A fool can
cast a stone into the sea. but a hundred wise men cannot get it
out." " If you knew where you would fall, you could put down
straw." " Pray to God. btit row towards shore." " With God
go over the sea ; v.'ithout God cross not the threshold." " A
mother's prayer saves from the depths of the sea." "Fear not
the rich mans frowns, fear the beggar "s teais." " Love me when
I am black, when I am white every one will love me." " We
cannot go to church for the mud, but we may get to the tavern."
" Fleas do not bite each other." " No need to plant fools, they
grow of themselves." " Ask a pig to dinner, and she will put
her feet on the table."'

5, 6. (5) wise . . hear," 1. conscious ignorance, and desire to
know, are fruits of wisdom : 2, who is there who may not teach
something .' and .. learning,'' 1, constantly increasing; 2,
learning of many kinds, and all useful, and. . . understand-
ing/ I.e. he who has widened his knowledge by hearing, shall . .
counsels," i.e. shall learn the art. and attain the power of ruling.
(6) understand, etc., " The climax of the definition of wisdom." «
" Piety or wisdom is the only equipment for understanding these

Prorrrb.-: (r. 6). — I. Abundant in all languages. II. As a rule
spring from the people. III. Marked by great diversity of form.

IV. Since so popular, natural that the Spii-it should use them.

V. Those of this book all grave and good.f
A 2J>'nrfrb dcfned. — A proverb is much matter decocted into

few words. . . . Six essentials are required to the completing of a
perfect proverb, namely, that it be —

" By reading a

man does as it

were antedate

his life, and

makes himself

contenipor arjr

with the ages

past. And tliis

way of running

up beyond one's

I real nativity is

much better

than Plato's pre-

existence ; b e -

I cause here a man

knows s o ra e-

Itliing of the

] state and ig the

|Wioer for it,

which he is not

iu the other."—


e Orerland, In-
l"nd, and Up-
\ land.

I "How much
I m o r e doth it
i cc.icern us to be
I hearers ere we
'offer to be
jteachers of
others. He ga-
tliers that hears,
he spends that
teaclieth. If we
spend before we
gather we shall
soon prove bank-
rupts. "-Z(p. Hall.

1. Short,

2. Plain,

3. Common,

4. Figurative,

5. Ancient,

6. True.

Otherwise it is no
proverb, but a

1. Oration,

2. Riddle,

3. Secret,

4. Sentence,
6. Upstart,
6. Libel.*

a Cases.-Apostlet,
Ma. .xiii. 11, 16;
Jo. ii. 22, xii. 16 :
Elhiopian noble,
Ac. viii. 27—39 :
S. Paulus, Ac.
.xiii. 7 : Bereans,
Ac. xvii. 11, 12 :
Apollos, Ac. xviii.
24—28 ; 1 Co. iii.

b Ph. iii. 12 ; Pr.
ix. 9 ; Ex. xviiL
17-24; 1 Co. iiL

c Ps. cxix. 18, 33,
34; 1 Co. ii.9,10;
He. xiii. 9.

d Lit. helmsmait-
ships, fr. root _
cord, I.e. rope SI
a rudder.

e Stanley.

f Miller.

g Dr. Amot,

h T. Fuller.



[Cap. 1. 7—0.

holiness the
right path to
a Job xxviii. 28 ;
Ps. cxi. 10 ; Ecc.
?iii. 13; He. xii.
28, 29.

iv. 6-8: J/vp/mi
and Phineluts, 1
S. ii. 12: Heho-
boam, 1 K. xii. 13.

c Ps. xxxvi. 1 ; Je.

viii. 9.

V. 7. Or. H. More,
Ss. 85; W. F.
Vance, Ss. 101 ;
J. Vonge, Ss. i.
141; IK. Gresley,
Ss. 139.

Proverbs are —
"Jewels five
■words long, that,
on the stretch'd
forefinger of all
time, sparkle for
^Yer." -Tennyson.

d Ii. T. S.

If our stock of
knowledge be not
increasing, it is


a Cases. — Abra-
ham, Ge. xxii. 9 :
Moses, He. xi. 23 :
Samtiel, 1 S. i. 28 :
Solomon, 1 K. iv.
29, 3U; 2 Ch. ix.
8 ; e/. 1 K. xi. 5—
11 : Timolhy, 2
Tim. i. 5, iii. 15.

6 Ep. vi. 2; Co.
iii. 20; Je. xxxv.
18, 19 ; Lu. ii. 15 ;
Jo. xix. 27.

vv. 7 -9. //. Good-
xcin, Ss. ii. 262.

V. 9. A. Ilalty.see
English Freachtr,
i. 121.

"As letters gra-
ven in the body
of a tree, they
grow up with the
tree, and the fruit
of the tree grows
up with the tree,
and therefore the
twigs break not
With the great-

7. fear . . Lord,<* 1, lodged in mind, memory, heart ; 2, respect
for His authority, power, presence ; .3, holy, filial fear, is . .
knowledge, the first and t^/z/V/ thing, in all true knowledge:
that His glory — and therefore our good — may be advanced by
what we learn, fools,* the hardened, the stupid, sinners who
reject Gods rule, despise,"" as men puffed up with conceit,
wisdom, piety, as the right rule of life, and end of study, in-
struction, of age, holiness, experience.

'J'hc root of knoivlv(lf]c (r. 7). — I. Show the advantage of know-
ledge, even of worldly knowledge ; especially of the higher
knowledge, of the way of salvation. II. Show that the first step
in this higher knowledge is the fear of the Lord. He who feara
God will study the best things, and study them well.

Two hard students. — In the early part of the reign of King
William III., the University of Edinburgh had. at the same time,
two bright ornaments. Dr. Rule, M.D., and Mr. Campbell, Pro-
fessor of Divinity. Dr. Rule was also an acceptable and tried
minister. The lodging-rooms of these two eminent men stood so
as that the windows were opposite to each other, though at some
distance. Dr. Rule used to sit up late at his studies, and it was
Professor Campbell's custom to rise very early in the morning ;
so that many times the doctor's candle would not be put out by
the time Mr. Campbell's was lighted. The one, their friends
used to caU the evening star ; and the other, the morning star.
They lived together in great love, and a most intimate friendship
subsisted between them till death. The doctor died but a little
time before Mr. Campbell. When the tidings came to Mr. Camp-
bell that the doctor was departed, he was deeply impressed. He
presently recovered himself, and said, " that the evening star waa
gone down, and the morning star would soon disappear." <*
• 8, 9. (8) son," the reader is addressed with parental kindness
and authority, father,* obedience to a father the finest model
of subordination in patriarchal times, forsake, as old-womanish,
or old-fashioned, the . . mother, which she practised for her
good, and urges — out of her loving heai-t — for thine. (9) they,
being 6beyed. ornament, garland, grace, gracefulness : i.e.
a beautiful adornment, and . . neck, emblem of authority
gained by learning and obedience.

Filial lore a blosftom of beauty (r. 9). — I. God the Author of the
family constitution. II. Intended the parent to rule in the world
of home. III. The moral beauty of children found in obedience
to these Divinely appointed home-rulers.

Injiuence of a mothrr\t lore. — The Rev. Thomas Binney, when
preaching a funeral sermon for Mr. Birrell. who died while a
student for the ministry, mentioned the following fact in con-
nection with his early career, previous to his conversion : —
" "What a mysterious thing ! What a mysterious, magical,
divine thing, is a mother's love ! How it nestles about the
heart, and goes with the man, and speaks to him pure words,
and is like a guardian angel ! This young man could never
take any money that came to him from his mother, and
spend that upon a Sunday excursion, or a treat to a theatre.
It was a sacred thing with him ; it had the impression and the
inscription of his mother's image, and his mother's purity, and
his mother's jiiety, and his mother's love. It was a sacred thing
to him ; and those things that he felt to be questionable, or f eU

Cap. 1. 8, 0.]



to be sinful, were always to be provided for by other resources,
and by money that came to him from other hands. Oh ! there
is the poetry of the heart, the poetry of our home and domestic
aflFections, the poetry of the religion of the hearth and the altar,
about that little incident ; and it strikes me as being perfectly
beautiful." — My molher s Bible. — On one of the shelves in my
library, surrounded by volumes of all kinds, on various subjects
and in various languages, stands an old book, in its plain
covering of brown paper, unprepossessing to the eye, and appa-
rently out of place among the more pretentious volumes that
stand by its side. To the eye of a stranger it has certainly
neither beauty nor comeliness. Its covers are worn ; its leaves
marred by long use ; its pages, once white, have become yellow
with age ; yet, old and worn as it is, to me it is the most beauti-
ful and most valuable book on my shelves. No other awakens
such associations, or so appeals to all that is best and noblest
within me. It is, or rather it nas. my mother's Bible — com-
panion of her best and holiest hours, source of her unspeakable
joy and consolation. From it she derived the principles of a
truly Christian life and character. It was the light to her feet
and the lamp to her path. It was constantly by her side ; and,
as her steps tottered in the advancing pilgrimage of life, and her
eyes grew dim with age, more and more precious to her became
the well-worn pages. One moraing just as the stars were fading
into the dawn of the coming Sabbath, the aged pilgrim passed
on beyond the stars and beyond the morning, and entered into
the rest of the eternal Sabbath — to look upon the face of Him
of whom the law and the prophets had spoken, and whom not
having seen she had loved. And now no kgac}' is to me more
precious than that old Bible. Years have passed ; but it stands
there on its shelf, eloquent as ever, witness of a beautiful life
that is finished, and a silent monitor to the living. In hours of
trial and sorrow it says : Be not cast down, my son ; for thou
shalt yet praise Him who is the health of thy countenance, and
thy God. In moments of weakness and fear it says : Be strong
now, my son, and quit yourself manfully. When, sometimes,
from the cares and conflicts of external life, I come back to the
study, weary of the world and tired of men— of men that are
BO hard and selfish, and a world that is so unfeeling — and the
strings of the soul have become untuned and discordant, I seem
to hear that Book saying, as with the well-remembered tones of
a voice long silent : Let not your heart be troubled. For what
is your life ? It is even as a vapour. Then my troubled spirit
becomes calm ; and the little world, that had grown so great and

Online LibraryJames Comper GrayThe Biblical museum : a collection of notes, explanatory, homiletic, and illustrative, on the Holy Scriptures, especially designed for the use of ministers, Bible students, and Sunday school teachers (Volume 7) → online text (page 1 of 67)