Verses 21–26

Solomon, having pronounced those happy who not only lay hold on wisdom, but retain her, here exhorts us therefore to retain her, assuring us that we ourselves shall have the comfort of doing so.

I. The exhortation is, to have religion’s rules always in view and always at heart, Prov. 3:21. 1. To have them always in view: “My son, let them not depart from thy eyes; let not thy eyes ever depart from them to wander after vanity. Have them always in mind, and do not forget them; be ever and anon thinking of them, and conversing with them, and never imagine that thou hast looked upon them long enough and that it is time now to lay them by; but, as long as thou livest, keep up and cultivate thy acquaintance with them.” He who learns to write must always have his eye upon his copy, and not let that be out of his sight; and to the words of wisdom must those, in like manner, have a constant respect, who will walk circumspectly. 2. To have them always at heart; for it is in that treasury, the hidden man of the heart, that we must keep sound wisdom and discretion, keep to the principles of it and keep in the ways of it. It is wealth that is worth keeping.

II. The argument to enforce this exhortation is taken from the unspeakable advantage which wisdom, thus kept, will be of to us. 1. In respect of strength and satisfaction: “It will be life to thy soul (Prov. 3:22); it will quicken thee to thy duty when thou beginnest to be slothful and remiss; it will revive thee under thy troubles when thou beginnest to droop and despond. It will be thy spiritual life, an earnest of life eternal.” Life to the soul is life indeed. 2. In respect of honour and reputation: It shall be grace to thy neck, as a chain of gold, or a jewel. Grace to thy jaws (so the word is), grateful to thy taste and relish (so some); it shall infuse grace into all thou sayest (so others), shall furnish thee with acceptable words, which shall gain thee credit. 3. In respect of safety and security. This he insists upon in Prov. 3:23-26, the scope of which is to show that the effect of righteousness (which is the same with wisdom here) is quietness and assurance for ever, Isa. 32:17. Good people are taken under God’s special protection, and therein they may have an entire satisfaction. They are safe and may be easy, (1.) In their motions by day, Prov. 3:23. If our religion be our companion, it will be our convoy: “Then shalt thou walk in thy way safely. The natural life, and all that belongs to it, shall be under the protection of God’s providence; the spiritual life, and all its interests, are under the protection of his grace; so that thou shalt be kept from falling into sin or trouble.” Wisdom will direct us into, and keep us in, the safe way, as far as may be, from temptation, and will enable us to walk in it with holy security. The way of duty is the way of safety. “We are in danger of falling, but wisdom will keep thee, that thy foot shall not stumble at those things which are an offence and overthrow to many, but which thou shalt know how to get over.” (2.) In their rest by night, Prov. 3:24. In our retirements we lie exposed and are most subject to frights. “But keep up communion with God, and keep a good conscience, and then when thou liest down thou shalt not be afraid of fire, or thieves, or specters, or any of the terrors of darkness, knowing that when we, and all our friends, are asleep, yet he that keeps Israel and every true-born Israelite neither slumbers nor sleeps, and to him thou hast committed thyself and taken shelter under the shadow of his wings. Thou shalt lie down, and not need to sit up to keep guard; having lain down, thou shalt sleep, and not have thy eyes held waking by care and fear; and thy sleep shall be sweet and refreshing to thee, being not disturbed by any alarms from without or from within,” Ps. 4:8; 116:7. The way to have a good night is to keep a good conscience; and the sleep, as of the labouring man, so of the wise and godly man, is sweet. (3.) In their greatest straits and dangers. Integrity and uprightness will preserve us, so that we need not be afraid of sudden fear, Prov. 3:25. The harms that surprise us, unthought of, giving us no time to arm ourselves by consideration, are most likely to put us into confusion. But let not the wise and good man forget himself, and then he will not give way to any fear that has torment, be the alarm ever so sudden. Let him not fear the desolation of the wicked, when it comes, that is, [1.] The desolation which the wicked ones make of religion and the religious; though it comes, and seems to be just at the door, yet be not afraid of it; for, though God may make use of the wicked as instruments of his people’s correction, yet he will never suffer them to be the authors of their desolation. Or rather, [2.] The desolation which wicked men will be brought into in a moment. It will come, and timorous saints may be apprehensive that they shall be involved in it; but let this be their comfort, that though judgments lay waste generally, at least promiscuously, yet God knows who are his and how to separate between the precious and the vile. Therefore be not afraid of that which appears most formidable, for (Prov. 3:26) “the Lord shall be not only thy protector to keep thee safe, but thy confidence to keep thee secure, so that thy foot shall not be taken by thy enemies nor ensnared by thy own fears.” God has engaged to keep the feet of his saints.