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Passages from Proverbs.
#1. The Threefold Preface (Prov. 1: 2-7).
pp. 155 - 158
While the fountain doctrine of justification by faith, and the all-sufficiency of the
sacrifice of Christ for redemption and sanctification are prominent in the mind and
message of those who believe the truth, there appears to be a failure many times to
remember that for the walk that shall be "unto all pleasing", "wisdom and understanding"
are necessary (Col. 1: 9). Christ has not only been made unto us "righteousness,
sanctification, and redemption", but also "wisdom". When the apostle James spoke of
the divers temptations which should come to those who endured in the course for the
crown of life, he speaks of the need of wisdom:--
"Let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, lacking
nothing. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God" (James 1: 4, 5).
One might have thought that strength to endure, fortitude, stedfastness, or some
kindred virtue would have been uppermost, but no, it is wisdom that is felt to be the great
need for the tried believer. It is one of the spheres of the believer's walk, e.g., "Walk in
wisdom" (Col. 4: 5). Without wisdom practical righteousness is impossible, for even
though we err unwittingly, that error cannot be right and hence cannot be righteous.
The book of Proverbs contains inspired rules for the conduct of life; our English title
suggests the terse, compact form of speech, proverbium, indicating for, or instead of,
much verbiage; the Hebrew word mishlai is probably derived from mashal, "to rule",
though some think it is from a word meaning "to resemble". In the first case we look to
the proverb for guidance, in the second we are taught in parable form. Regarding the
book of Proverbs as a whole, and particularly in connection with the suggestion that some
of the proverbs were written FOR Solomon, and some BY him, we commend The
Companion Bible to the reader. While it is necessary to arrive at some conclusion
concerning this suggestion, this series does not necessitate a laboured discussion of the
subject. We commend the whole book to our readers, but we do not intend to give an
exposition of the whole, but just take a verse or two here and there, hence our title,
Passages from Proverbs.
It has been observed that the opening verses of the book seem to be most ragged; in
the words of the Rev. John Miller:--
"We find in these opening verses where we might expect the diction to be most poised
and perfect, a rather mixed collection of prefaces and preliminary purposes. This
introductory incoherency reaches to the seventh verse inclusive, and if anyone doubts
what we aver, let him try to read that collection of texts, and give the syntax, and the
logic, and the motive for such a loose-jointed catalogue; the meaning comes when we
take the infinitives of the second, fourth, and sixth verses, and see how they answered, by
the assertions of the third, fifth and seventh; there are three assertions or proverbs