By Horatius Bonar
THE words "my Son" are not spoken at random, or inserted without a meaning. In them God speaks to us as unto children (Hebrews 12). It is a father's voice that speaks to us in the book of Proverbs. Solomon's counsels to Rehoboam are God's messages to us.
The subject here is the divine Word, its nature and use, with the way in which we are to receive it. It is assumed to be,
(1.) True. Not partially so, but absolutely and perfectly.
(2.) Infallible. Not imperious or dictatorial, yet infallible.
(3.) Precious. Containing infinite treasures.
(4.) Profound. It will bear searching, digging, meditation. It has much on the surface; far more beneath. Go as deep as you like, the vein is not exhausted.
(5.) Intelligible. Though spoken by God, it is quite as intelligible as that spoken by man. A father's words to his child are meant to be understood.
This Word is here called by many names: "my words," "my commandments," "wisdom," "understanding," "knowledge." The way in which we are to deal with it is spoken of under various figures: "receiving," "hiding," "inclining the ear," "applying the heart," "crying after," "lifting up the voice for," "seeking," "searching"; each of these implying honesty, earnestness, perseverance, faith,--each successive word embodying some more meaning, some deeper truth than its predecessor.
Let us mark then,
I. Solomon's object in the Proverbs. It is good to go back to the original speaker or writer; to remember the instrument through which the Holy Spirit spoke, whether Moses, or David, or Solomon, or Isaiah. This not only brings out better the human side of the book or passage; not only enables us to realize the words as thoroughly human words; but it gives a point and interest and meaning to them which otherwise is lost. Paul's words are not Peter's, nor John's; yet they are all the words of the Holy Ghost. So the words of Solomon the king, and Amos the Tekoan herdsman, are both the words of God, yet there are differences; and these differences have a meaning. The Proverbs of Solomon would have been equally true, though uttered by Amos, yet they would not have had the peculiar point which they possess when coming from the lips of the greatest, richest, wisest of kings. The royal lessons of this royal teacher and father are summed up in "the fear of the Lord, and the knowledge of God." This is his object, even in that book which seems filled with common life, and its maxims and scenes. Fear God; know the Lord; this is the sum of all that he has to say to us.
II. God's object in the Bible. To teach us to know and fear Him. Many subordinate things, but this as the main thing; this as the result of all its precepts, warnings, facts, histories. The Bible terminates on God, as it begins with him. It comes from God, and goes back to him, leading us along with it. The Bible has specially to do with the world to come, even in those books which are occupied with the duties and concerns of this. Let your Bible lead you straight to God; let every perusal teach you more of him. As was God's object in writing the Bible, so let yours be in reading it. Be sure to find him everywhere.
III. The way in which He would have us treat the Bible. (1.) Receive it. Take it as true, divine, infallible. Listen to it, as his voice, his message. Let its words flow in to ear and heart.
(2.) Prize it. It is no common possession. It is treasure, riches, gold,-- all divine. As such it must be used lovingly, reverently, devoutly, believingly.
(3.) Study it. It must be "hid," laid up, sought out, searched, weighed. No surface work, no holiday work. Day and night, it must be studied with the whole vigour of our souls.
(4.) It must be prayed over. In the study of it we must deal with God. He has the key for unlocking its chambers; the light for shewing us all its recesses. We must go to him to be taught: "If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God." Like old Bradford, we must study it on our knees.
Let us notice in conclusion the connection of all this with Christ. He is "the Word of God," and the Bible is " the word of God." He connects the two things together when he says, "If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you." The testimony of all Scripture is to Christ; he is its Alpha and Omega. It is through him that we have the knowledge and the fear of God. To know him is to know the Father, and we find him in the word; the more we dig into the word, we find the more of him. They are they which testify of him. Search the Scriptures! They contain life, and they contain THE LIFE. Let us go to them for both. How little of them do we know; how much we ought to know, and might know, if we would search! Would you be wise? Study the Word, and find THE WISDOM OF GOD there. Would you be holy? Study the Word. It sanctifies its readers. Would you be happy? Study the Word. In its words is blessedness,--the peace and joy of God.