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Deeper Commentary

Pro 22:1 A good name is more desirable than great riches, and loving favour is better than silver and gold-
The dating of Proverbs becomes crucial in interpreting the book. It can too easily be assumed that the Proverbs were part of the wisdom given to Solomon in his youth, and his subsequent life was a tragic example of saying 'Do as I say but not as I do', going directly against the principles taught in the theoretical wisdom he had been given. And that may well be so. But we need to consider the possibility that the Proverbs were written throughout the life of Solomon, at least, up until his final, public turning away from Yahweh to other gods in his old age, which probably gave rise to the book of Ecclesiastes. The comments here in 22:1 about a name, a lasting legacy, being better than wealth may well have arisen from his own reflection upon what little his wealth had done for him. It is who we are, our name before God and our lasting legacy, which is important- bank balances are utterly irrelevant to it. It was David who 'got him a name' through his work for the Lord (2 Sam. 8:13); David had the name, and Solomon the wealth. Solomon was obsessed with his father- so many times he refers to "David my father". His proverbs are shot through with allusion to David. And now perhaps he reflects that his father had done better than he. David had the name, Solomon the riches. But the riches were nothing compared to the name. A case can be made that the wise, righteous one portrayed in Proverbs is based around David, and Solomon's message was to be like David his father, whom he saw as the embodiment of the theoretical wisdom which he had received. Or we could read Solomon here as saying that his father had wealth, but it was his name / legacy / record which was far more significant.

Pro 22:2 The rich and the poor have this in common-
Or, "the rich and poor meet together". Perhaps Solomon had in view Nathan's parable to David after his sin with Bathsheba (Solomon's mother). David was likened to the rich man, and Uriah to the poor man (2 Sam. 12:1). The same Hebrew words are used. The parable would have been well known to Solomon, because Bathsheba was his mother. He was perhaps reflecting that David and Uriah met together in that they were only human, each made equal to the other by reason of having a common creator. It may be that the subtext here [once again] is Solomon seeking to minimize the failures of his father and his dynasty, as if to say 'Dad was of course only human, as human as Uriah, they were both the same...'.

Yahweh is the maker of them all-
One implication of believing that God is our personal creator is that we will not be envious of the rich; we will not see them as so fundamentally different from ourselves.

Pro 22:3 A prudent man sees danger, and hides himself-
The Hebrew word for "prudent" is twice used about David whilst under persecution from Saul (1 Sam. 23:22). The context is that David was hiding himself in the forests of Ziph (1 Sam. 23:19). And so Solomon says that the prudent man hides himself. The "danger" [Heb. 'evil'] naturally refers to the 'evil' foreseen by David which was determined against him by Saul; the same word for "evil" / "danger" is found in 1 Sam. 20:7,9. Without doubt, Solomon is setting up his father David as the parade example and embodiment of his teaching. So whilst all he says is true, there is also a subtext of justifying his father and his father's choice of himself as king. Our witness to others, our use of God's Truth, can likewise have mixed motives and very human, self-justifying subtexts to it. We can also see Solomon moving towards a position whereby he personally distances himself from the great truths he is preaching; his idea is 'Look at my father, follow his example, he was a truly good man'; rather than rejoicing in God's truths for himself, and unconsciously radiating them to others in his own life.

But the simple pass on, and suffer for it-
The Hebrew translated "pass on" is used of how Saul 'passed on' to sin at Gilgal (1 Sam. 15:12,24), and was condemned for doing so, resulting in his replacement by David. On David's death, there were multiple interest groups within Israel, reflected in the various rebellions against David in his final years. One of those groups was the family of Saul and those loyal to the memory of Saul; and all these groups had to be repressed by Solomon. Thus Solomon in Proverbs so often paints the foolish one, the simple one, the disobedient, in terms of Saul. Again, there is a subtext of self-justification and fortification of ones' own position, despite the words spoken being true enough of themselves. Our motivation for witness needs to be pure, to simply proclaim God's grace, to make known His Son, to see their glory... and all human agendas must be left behind. But we have to search our own psychology very deeply to come to this level of self-understanding.

LXX "An intelligent man seeing a bad man severely punished is himself instructed, but fools pass by and are punished".

Pro 22:4 The result of humility and the fear of Yahweh is wealth, honour, and life-
David himself said that it was humility which had 'made him great or 'increased' him (2 Sam. 22:36 Heb.; the common translations suggest that it was God's humility which increased David, but there is no pronoun in the Hebrew text. The statement is simply that humility had increased David). And David had reigned in "the fear of Yahweh" (2 Sam. 23:3). David was given "wealth" [s.w.] as a result of this (1 Chron. 29:12,28), as well as "honour" (s.w. 1 Chron. 17:18). Again, Solomon is presenting his own father as the parade example. The three blessings of wealth, honour and [long] life were the very things which God gave to Solomon in reward for having chosen wisdom (1 Kings 3:13,14). So Solomon could be arguing that he had been given those things because of his humility. Solomon had more "wealth" than any other person on earth at the time (the same Hebrew word is used as here for "wealth"; 1 Kings 10:23). So surely Solomon is speaking with some reference to himself. Actually, he was given the wealth because of his love of wisdom, not because of his humility. And yet Solomon here may be claiming to be humble, and citing his blessings as evidence. This of course is revolting- to parade ones' own supposed humility.

Solomon is here alluding to the way that he did not ask for riches, but wisdom; and was rewarded with the gift of riches. But this is but false humility. For he boasts about his riches in Prov. 14:24 "The crown of the wise is their riches, but the folly of fools crowns them with folly". It was Solomon who was the king and wore the ultimate crown in his society. And he implies that his fantastic riches were a result of his wisdom, and that his pattern should be followed by others. But he fails to remember that his desire for wisdom was recognized by God in that He gave Solomon riches. Those riches were a gift from God, by grace, and not acquired or generated by his own application of wisdom (1 Kings 3:13). He therefore misused his possession of wisdom and experience of grace to justify himself, and present himself as a self made man; when he was not that at all.

Pro 22:5

Thorns and snares are in the path of the wicked-
The Proverbs often allude to the Law of Moses or earlier Israelite history. Here the reference is to the only other time that “thorns and snares” occur together in the Bible, in Josh. 23:13, where Israel are warned that association and intermarriage with the pagan world around them will be as thorns and snares to them. The wicked therefore put these things in their own path; and again, Solomon makes this warning whilst failing spectacularly himself in this very thing. And yet the language of "thorns and snares" is very much what Solomon's father David used about the fate of those who persecuted him (Ps. 11:6; 69:22; 119:110; 140:5)- the likes of Saul and Absalom, whose supporters were the very ones who had been in competition with Solomon for the throne. The same Hebrew word translated "wicked" is used by David about all his enemies and opponents (2 Sam. 22:27; Ps. 101:4).

The language of snares alludes to Solomon's father David, asking to be saved from such snares (Ps. 141:9) and rejoicing that he and God's people had been (Ps. 124:7). The initial reference may have been to Saul laying snares for David through getting him to marry his daughters and thereby seeking to kill him; and in Ps. 119:110 David is proud he has not fallen into those snares. Solomon likewise is hinting that the family of Saul, who were still his political opponents, were not better than gentile whores, and he didn't want his own family to intermarry with them. But Psalm 119 finishes with David saying bluntly that he has "gone astray" (Ps. 119:176), as if to say that earlier he had far overrated his own obedience to God's law.

In Proverbs, Solomon is continually alluding positively to his father's words. But in Ecc. 9:12 he alludes to those words cynically. Solomon seems to be cynically commenting that all men are finally snared in death. Earlier Solomon had warned about avoiding spiritual snares (Prov. 7:23; 22:5), but finally in Ecc. 9:12 he concludes that death is the unavoidable snare; and therefore all attempts to avoid being morally snared into sin are ultimately vain. He came to this perspective because he failed to fully grasp the hope of the resurrection of the body at the last day. He thought he would have the Kingdom now, and this led to his rejection of the Gospel of the Kingdom and its moral implications. 

Whoever guards his soul stays away from them-
The very same Hebrew words used of how the son of David could be the Messiah figure if he took heed to, or 'guarded', his soul (1 Kings 2:4). Solomon is of course assuming that he had fulfilled the conditions for being the true 'Son of David'; when in fact he did not. We can make the same fatal assumption. Whilst on one hand rejoicing in God's grace, we need to ever bear in mind a sense of the future we might miss, and our extreme frailty before God's ultimate judgment. Significantly, David repeatedly uses these same words to beg God to 'guard his soul' (Ps. 25:20; 86:2; 97:10; 121:7); whereas Solomon speaks as if the righteous do this in their own strength, guarding their own soul; and he seems to assume that he is amongst the category who guarded their own soul. In our days this may translate in terms of those who think by their own Bible study and steel-willed obedience they can guard their souls, keeping themselves in the way; instead of throwing themselves upon the spiritual action of God. Comparing David's Psalms with Solomon's Proverbs, we often see David asking God to do the same things which Solomon says the righteous man must do himself. This matter of guarding our soul is one of a number of such examples.

Pro 22:6

Train up-
The Hebrew word is only elsewhere translated 'to dedicate', and is used of Solomon's dedication of the temple (2 Chron. 7:5). So in view of the above comments, it could even be that Solomon here is wrongly assuming that a mere dedication ceremony alone will ensure a child will not depart from the way of his or her dedicators. Rabbinic commentary sees here a reference to circumcision, from which there can be no departing; at very least, the Rabbis recognize that the Hebrew refers to a one off dedication ceremony, rather than to a process of 'training up'.

A child in the way he should go-
God works with individuals and we are each independently judged regardless of whether we had believing or unbelieving parents, and so it cannot be that someone comes to the Kingdom simply because of faithful parents. And yet none of us will reach salvation purely by our own effort; there are other elements over and above that, and faithful parenting is one such element in the final algorithm which determines who is saved and who isn’t. It’s an endless motivation for parents, therefore, to raise their children in God’s way. The verse as it stands presents various problems. For one, it's not true to experience- children are raised one way and yet they depart from it. And is it really so that the final destiny of a believer's child simply must be salvation, because they cannot depart from the way in which they were raised? Or is the verse not talking about spiritual matters at all? Could it be so that any individual cannot depart from the way, just because they had good parents? I suggest that the notes on :1 be reviewed at this point. Because the verse makes sense in the context of Solomon seeking to justify himself as the only legitimate 'son of David', the only rightful King, who automatically fulfilled the conditions which God had given regarding how the Son of David must be obedient to Him if he is going to continue as the Messianic King. So Solomon would be claiming that because his father David was righteous, and he had been raised by his father, therefore he was bound to never depart from the right way.

The Biblical comment is that when Solomon was old, he did depart from the way of his father David and did not have the heart of "David his father" (1 Kings 11:4). Surely there is an intended connection with this Proverb; Solomon was wrong to assume that because of his pedigree, he simply had to be a Kingdom person and could not possibly depart from the way of his father. He did depart from it, for all his much repeated obsession with "David my father". And he stands as a warning for all time to those who consider that they will never depart from the faith of their fathers. I would go so far as to say that Prov. 22:6 is therefore presented by 1 Kings 11:4 as not being strictly true- this is simply part of Solomon's self-justification, and our notes on the rest of Proverbs 22 demonstrate that almost every verse here is alluding to David and an example of Solomon's self-justification.

Solomon here speaks of bringing up a child in the way he should go. Sadly by the time of Ecc. 2:19 and his experience with his own children, he comments about his heir: “Who knoweth whether he shall be a wise man or a fool?”. He simply didn’t see the relevance of his wisdom to his own personal family life. Yet he proudly insisted: “Who is as the wise man?”, as if the possession of theoretical truth and wisdom was the ultimate possession; and he then goes on to say that this made him beyond criticism (Ecc. 8:2-4). This surely must be a danger for any community or individual who considers they have “the truth” and who considers the possession of it to be of the utmost importance. 

And when he is old he will not depart from it-
Again, Solomon is justifying his father David and presenting him as the parade example of all Solomon's wisdom; for the same word is used by David in claiming that he had never 'departed' from God's ways (2 Sam. 22:23; Ps. 119:102).

Pro 22:7

The rich rule over the poor-
This may appear totally out of context, unless we follow the exposition of :6 offered above, which suggests that here we have Solomon deep in personal self-justification. The Hebrew for "rules" is so often used about Solomon's 'ruling'; and likewise he is described as rich / wealthy in the same contexts. He is observing that he has become the richest man on earth, and is ruling the poor, with others in servitude to him. He considered this to be his spiritual self-justification; just as weak believers can wrongly consider their material prosperity to automatically reflect their justification before God. What is stated in this verse would appear an almost pointless truism, a stating of the obvious- until we realize that Solomon is referring to himself, and [mistakenly] citing his wealth and power as evidence of his rightness before God.

And the borrower is servant to the lender-
When experiencing blessings for obedience, Israel would lend to many nations (Dt. 28:12). Solomon may well have lent to the nations who came to him; in any case, he is alluding to the blessings for spiritual obedience, and considering (wrongly) that his material wealth thereby declares him to be a spiritual person.

Pro 22:8

He who sows wickedness reaps trouble- The same word for "wickedness" is used by David about Saul (the "wicked man" of Ps. 43:1); about Nabal "the fool" (Ps. 53:1), and about Joab and Joab's family (2 Sam. 3:29,34). All these were interest groups with whom Solomon had been in competition for the throne. Solomon's words are true enough, but he seems to be teaching them with a strong hint that they refer to his opponents and thereby justifying himself.

And the rod of his fury will be destroyed- The idea of "the rod" is commonly used regarding a scion / descendant. In the context of Prov. 22, Solomon is saying that David's "rod", i.e. himself, will be blessed; but the attempts of others to have their 'rod' take the throne will not work out because they are wicked. Solomon overlooked the fact that God had set him on His throne. He took this as meaning that he was thereby justified spiritually, and that all other pretenders to the throne were therefore wicked. The Hebrew for "fury" is used by David in the Psalms about the rage of Saul's supporters against him.

But note GNB "If you plant the seeds of injustice, disaster will spring up, and your oppression of others will end". Solomon did oppress others. Discipline and punishment of the unwise is a big theme in Solomon's Proverbs. He took it to the extent of whipping his own people (1 Kings 12:11). This abusive attitude to people arose from his obsession with the idea that he had wisdom, and people generally are fools, idiots, unwise- and therefore he could abuse them. This attitude is another outcome of believing that mere possession of truths about God justifies us, and declares all other people foolish, unwise and able to be legitimately abused by us. In contrast, the heart of God (as of David) bleeds for such people and wants to save them rather than gloat in their unwisdom and punish them for it.

Pro 22:9 He who has a generous eye will be blessed; for he shares his food with the poor-
Heb. 'a good eye'. The Hebrew of 1 Sam. 25:8 uses these two words in appealing for Nabal to be generous to David and his men in their poverty. And the second half of the verse makes that allusion explicit: "for he shares his food with the poor". The same Hebrew words for 'sharing' and 'food' are found in 1 Sam. 25:11 concerning Nabal's refusal to 'give' his 'bread' to the poor David. Yet again we find Solomon justifying his father David, and implicitly criticizing his father's enemies. And here he is of course directly repeating David's own words in Ps. 41:1: "Blessed is he who considers the poor". The Hebrew translated "food" is literally "bread", and we recall the incident where David's supporters at Nob gave bread to him and his men (1 Sam. 21:3,6; 22:13); the same two Hebrew words are used as here in Prov. 22:8 'to share [give] food [bread]'. Solomon is going over his father's life and pronouncing blessing on those who supported David, and judgment upon those who did not. The huge number of times that Solomon uses the phrase 'my father David' reflects this psychological obsession with his father. It resulted in his living out parental expectation, whilst having a terrifying emptiness within himself when it came to real personal spirituality. The same words for 'giving bread' are used by Hiram, when he says that Solomon 'gave him bread / food' in return for his assistance with building the temple (1 Kings 5:9). This was purely a commercial transaction, but it may be that Solomon is here justifying it as some act of grace and kindness on his part.

Pro 22:10

Drive out-
"Drive out" is the same Hebrew word is used for how Solomon "thrust out Abiathar from being priest" (1 Kings 2:27) because he had supported those who had rebelled against his father David. Solomon felt that Abiathar had thus 'mocked' David, and felt that the idea of 'unity' and lack of strife / dissension justified his purges.

The mocker-
The word used by David to describe his enemies (Ps. 1:1; 119:51), whose descendants in turn became Solomon's threats to the throne.

And strife will go out-
The same root word used regarding how at the end of David's reign, the people of Israel "were at strife throughout all the tribes of Israel" (2 Sam. 19:9). Solomon inherited that situation when he came to the throne. Solomon is using the argument used by so many in history and to this day- in order to achieve peace in a community, it's necessary to assign historical precedents to the opposition, slander them, appeal to some kind of Divine judgment of them, and exclude them in order to reduce strife and enable unity within the group. But this is not to say that the Proverbs are not inspired truth; it's the way Solomon uses the principles which is such a dangerous mixture of flesh and spirit, and which is our warning and lesson.

Yes, quarrels and insults will stop- The idea is of reproach, and the same word is used by David to describe what the house of Saul had done to him (1 Sam. 18:23). Solomon is arguing that the only way to end this situation is to drive out any opposition.

22:11 He who loves purity of heart and speaks gracefully is the king’s friend- Having in :10 spoken of his plan to purge Israel of opposition, Solomon now gives the other side of the coin. Anyone who is supportive of him and speaks nicely to him will be "the king's friend" and he considers loyalty to him an evidence of "purity of heart". One sees this today in church life- anyone who takes the side of a certain leader is pronounced to be 'most spiritually minded' and so forth. But "the king's friend" was a technical term for a senior Government minister, and the term is used only once elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible, with reference to one of Solomon's chief officers: "Zabud the son of Nathan was chief officer, the king’s friend" (1 Kings 4:5). Nathan was one of David's hawks, one of his hardest core loyalists, and Solomon appointed his son as his chief advisor; and justifies it by pronouncing this man as pure of heart just because he was "king's friend". There is no particular ipse facto reason for thinking that a king's friend is automatically pure of heart; but this Proverb declares that to be the case. Again, Solomon appears to be using Divine wisdom to justify his own politics, and this is a lesson that needs to be learnt in church life today.

Pro 22:12 The eyes of Yahweh-
"The eyes of the Lord" is a phrase commonly found in the historical records of David. And so Solomon surely also had in mind Saul, who did evil in the eyes of the Lord and was therefore rejected and replaced by David (1 Sam. 15:19), because the eyes of the Lord looked upon David's heart and therefore chose him and not Saul (1 Sam. 16:7). David himself had claimed that the eyes of the Lord preserved him against all opposition from Saul and his supporters (1 Sam. 26:24), and that even when his throne was under threat from Absalom's rebellion, "the eyes of the Lord" would restore him his throne (2 Sam. 15:25). When this happened, David exalted that he was seen as pure in the Lord's eyes (2 Sam. 22:25), and God's comment in 1 Kings 15:5,11 confirms this. All this was highly relevant to Solomon at the start of his reign, when he was given his wisdom, and when perhaps he wrote it down in the form of the book of Proverbs. So a statement that is true enough in itself is being given a subtext of justifying David's dynasty through Solomon. God's comment on all this subtexting and self-justification is in 1 Kings 11:6: "Solomon did that which was evil in the eyes of Yahweh, and didn't go fully after Yahweh, as did David his father".

Another reading is possible. Angels have a special role in performing the miracle of preserving God's word intact. This work of the Angels is maybe referred to here in Prov. 22:12 "The eyes (Angels) of the Lord preserve knowledge", which is now concentrated in the form of the written word.

Watch over knowledge-
The idea of being 'preserved' or watched over is commonly used by David in the Psalms he wrote whilst under persecution from Saul or opposition from pretenders to his throne at the end of his life (Ps. 12:7; 25:21; 31:23; 32:7; 40:11; 61:7; 64:1; 140:1 all use the same Hebrew word as found here in Prov. 22:12 for "preserve"). Yet again, Solomon is upholding his father David as the parade example of a man preserved by God, and he is using that to proclaim his own preservation by God. But David also very often uses this word to speak of how he in turn had 'preserved' or 'kept' God's way and commandments. And Solomon didn't want to notice that conditional element.

Solomon surely by metonymy is putting 'discretion' or 'wisdom' for the discreet / wise person, who was preeminently himself. In contrast to the apostates alluded to in the previous verses, whose destiny and claims to the throne had ended in failure, he hints that his preservation to be king was because "the eyes of the Lord" had preserved him because he was wise / discreet. But he overlooks the fact that his wisdom was a gift from God and was not intrinsic to himself. The "eyes of the Lord" perhaps allude to Angels, and Solomon may have in view how the cherubim preserved / guarded the way to the tree of life; and he obviously felt that he and his kingdom were in the way to the tree of life, to the Kingdom of God on earth.

But He frustrates the words of the unfaithful-
A reference to how Solomon perceived that all opposition to him had come to nothing. "The unfaithful" is a term David uses about Saul and his other opponents (Ps. 25:3; 59:5; 119:158). But Biblical history demonstrates that in fact his dynasty was not preserved in the absolute terms he envisaged, because upon his death, the majority of Israel divided from his dynasty and made Jeroboam their king and rejected the dynasty of David: "What portion have we in David? Neither do we have an inheritance in the son of Jesse. To your tents, Israel! Now see to your own house, David" (1 Kings 12:16).

"Unfaithful" or "traitors" is the term used by David of Saul and his supporters (Ps. 25:3; 59:5; 119:158). Solomon uses this term, teaching that "transgressors" must be rooted out of the earth / eretz promised to Abraham (Prov. 2:22), and that the "transgressors" are to face judgment (Prov. 11:3,6; 13:2; 21:18; 22:12; 23:28; 25:19). All Solomon says is true, but he clearly has in view the house and supporters of Saul, who were a group he felt he needed to repress in order to keep his own kingdom and power intact.

Pro 22:13 The lazy one says, There is a lion outside! I will be killed in the streets!-
"The lazy one" is a term only found in Proverbs, and 14 times at that. Solomon was active, for all his sins, he was not lazy. That wasn't his personality type. And he rather glorifies that, as if works can justify a person, and as if more passive personality types are thereby found to be condemned and rejected by God. That isn't the case; personality type is not the basis upon which we are justified before God. Rather is it by grace through faith, and Solomon just didn't get that at all. David was the man characterized by being fearless of lions (1 Sam. 17:34). So again, we see a subtext of justifying his father David. Solomon's implication is surely that a lion may indeed be outside, but it is laziness which stops a man going outside. And again, that seems rather a strange thing to say. Surely fear is the reason a man won't go outside in this case, not laziness. But Solomon calls the man lazy, because he himself was well known as not a lazy person.

It's also worth noting that Saul and also Absalom's supporters are described as lions (2 Sam. 1:23; 17:10; Ps. 10:9; 22:13,21). David was given victory against them all, by grace, as he often celebrated in the Psalms. But Solomon considered that such victory was because he and his father were not lazy, and had gone out against the lions. There's a significant difference in approach, and again, Solomon is justifying himself by framing Divine wisdom in a way which alludes to himself and his father.

Pro 22:14 The mouth of an adulteress is a deep pit: he who is under Yahweh’s wrath will fall into it-
The Hebrew zur is translated "strange women" in the AV, but it can mean simply one who turns aside (LXX "a transgressor"). It doesn't have to refer to a woman who tempts. Solomon may be saying that by listening to wrong advisers, "he who is under Yahweh's wrath will fall". The Hebrew for "fall" is repeatedly used about the 'fall' of Saul and his family (1 Sam. 31:1,4,8; 2 Sam. 1:4,10,12,19,25,27; Ps. 5:10; 7:15; 20:8; 35:8; 36:12; 57:6), whereas David did not "fall" due to Saul's machinations (1 Sam. 18:25; 26:20 s.w.). "He who is under Yahweh's wrath" would be how Solomon saw Saul and his family. There might even be reference to the way in which Saul 'fell' to the earth as a result of the words of the witch woman at Endor (1 Sam. 28:20 s.w.), and to how the family of Joab [who tried to usurp David's throne in opposition to Solomon] were cursed to 'fall' (2 Sam. 3:29).

Solomon rejected this wisdom and only came to agree with it  through doing just what he here condemns (Ecc. 7:26).

Pro 22:15

Folly is bound up in the heart of a child-
This doesn't serve as any evidence that human beings are born intrinsically evil, because the next half of the verse says that this 'folly' can depart from a person as they pass through the process of discipline. The majority of the 25 usages of the word translated "folly" are found in Solomon's Proverbs; perhaps he had in view Nabal, 'folly', whose wife Abigail was one of his father's wives, and whose children were surely in competition with him for the throne. He therefore appears to rather belabour the folly of 'folly', and here makes the point that whatever 'folly' had been in him as a child, had been driven from him by the discipline of his wonderful father David. "Bound up" is the same Hebrew word used about those who 'conspired' against David (2 Sam. 15:31). Solomon may be implying: 'But if these people had been properly brought up, like I was, as the true scion of David, then such conspiracy would have been driven out of them in youth as it was with me'. "Child" can just as well be translated "young man". Prov. 7:7 singles out a particular "young man" [s.w. "child"] who was lacking in "heart", whose folly stood out from that of the other "simple ones". These may well refer to the 200 'simple ones' who went with Absalom in his rebellion against David (2 Sam. 15:11). One of them was particularly singled out here by Solomon as being foolish. And it's no accident that David calls Absalom "the young man [s.w. "child"] Absalom" (2 Sam. 14:21; 18:5,12,29,32). "Young man" was perhaps David's term of endearment for Absalom. The same "young man" [s.w. "child"] may be in view here in 22:15. The context of the chapter is Solomon arguing that he and not anyone else like Absalom was the rightful successor to David. He may be suggesting that Absalom had not been properly raised from childhood, his foolishness had not been driven from him by a good upbringing, and therefore he was not the proper candidate for their father's throne. Seeing it was women who raised the children, it's significant that Absalom's mother appears to have been a Gentile, daughter of a Syrian king (2 Sam. 3:3), whereas Solomon was the son of Bathsheba, from a Jerusalem family right at the center of David's Government.

The rod of discipline drives it far from him-
This is the same word as found in the promises to David in 2 Sam. 7:14 about David's Messianic son: "I will chasten him with the rod of men". Solomon felt he was the fulfilment of those promises, and that the warning of conditionality, that the Messianic Son must beware not to sin, simply meant that he as a child had naturally been foolish, but "the rod" had driven this from him. In this way Solomon minimized the sense of possible failure and the conditionality of the promises made to him. A related word translated "discipline" is found in 1 Kings 12:11,14, where Solomon's son Rehoboam recognizes that Solomon had 'chastised' or 'disciplined' his people severely. And it was this which led to the diminishing of Solomon's dynasty, rather than its establishment. Again we see evidence that Solomon's justification of his dynasty and claim to the throne didn't hold up for long. Subsequent Biblical history always seems to disprove and invalidate his claims.

Solomon has so much to say about "correction" or "instruction" coming from the possession of wisdom (Prov. 8:10,33; 10:17; 12:1; 13:1,24; 15:5,10,32; 16:22; 19:20,27; 22:15; 23:12,13). But in the end he chastised or corrected his people by whipping them (s.w. 1 Kings 12:11,14). Solomon initially asked for wisdom in order to guide his people, but he ended up whipping / physically chastising them into conformity with his wishes rather than allowing wisdom to correct. Again, he was playing God; for it is God through His wisdom who chastises, and not man. But Solomon thought he was effectively God to his people. This is why Solomon argues that servants cannot be corrected by words (Prov. 29:19 s.w.), and a child must be physically chastised (s.w. Prov. 19:18; 29:17 cp. Prov. 13:24; 23:13), regardless of his screams of pain. This kind of thing is a denial of his claims elsewhere that it is Divine wisdom which chastises / corrects, and such correction is from God and not man. Solomon's final description of himself as an old and foolish king who refuses to be admonished says it all (Ecc. 4:13); he admonishes others (s.w. Ecc. 12:12), but refuses to be admonished or corrected by his own wisdom. He failed to personalize it.  

Pro 22:16 Whoever oppresses the poor for his own increase and whoever gives to the rich-
David's Psalm 119 seems written when he was on the run from Saul. He speaks of how he was 'oppressed' by Saul (Ps. 119:121,122); and he saw himself as "the poor". Samuel had predicted that Saul would oppress the poor for his own gain, and so it happened. So we have here another sideward swipe at the house of Saul. And yet as noted on other verses in this chapter, Solomon was ultimately guilty of what he accuses his opponents of; for it was he who oppressed the poor in Israel, and this led to the decline of his dynasty.

Oppression seems to have been a characteristic of the reigns of Saul and Absalom. See on Ps. 62:10. This was the equivalent of how Saul oppressed David. Samuel's insistence that he has not oppressed the people is in the context of his warning that Saul would do this (1 Sam. 12:3,4). When Solomon later condemns the 'oppressors' (s.w. Prov. 14:31; 22:16; 28:3,24), he has in view a wishing of judgment upon the house of Saul. "The poor" whom they had oppressed would easily refer to David (1 Sam. 18:23; Ps. 34:6).

Both come to poverty-
Considering that the wicked often prosper materially in this life, “poverty” must refer to poverty of spirit.

Pro 22:17 Turn your ear, and listen to the words of the wise; apply your heart to my teaching-
Now begins the "thirty pieces of advice". "The wise" is a title of both David (2 Sam. 14:20) and Solomon (1 Kings 2:9; 5:7). Solomon makes the connection with himself obvious in the second half of the verse: "apply your heart to my teaching". Wisdom was listening to him and obeying him; and of course he had been given Divine wisdom, so he was partially right. It's just unfortunate that the rest of the chapter is his own self-justification. "My teaching" is literally "my knowledge" (see AV). But Solomon also taught that knowledge comes from God (Prov. 2:6 s.w.). David had urged people to turn to God's word directly (especially throughout Psalm 119), whereas Solomon 'plays God' and urges people to get there Divine knowledge from him. By doing so, he associates respect of himself with respect towards God.

As noted on Ps. 119:36; 141:4, David believed that God could act deep within the psychology or heart of man, to incline us toward righteousness and away from evil. This is how the Holy Spirit works today. Solomon believed the same (s.w. 1 Kings 8:58), but only in theory; for his Gentile wives inclined or turned away his heart from God (s.w. 1 Kings 11:3,9). God will not turn our hearts anywhere we ourselves don't want to go. Solomon often appeals for us to incline our hearts to wisdom (s.w. Prov. 2:2; 4:20; 5:1; 22:17), but he himself was inclined to apostasy (s.w. 1 Kings 11:3,9). All his emphasis is upon the need to incline ourselves, whereas his father David trusted in the work of the Spirit to incline his heart to good and away from evil (Ps. 141:4; 119:36 etc.).   

Pro 22:18 For it is a pleasant thing if you keep them within you
David had written of the blessedness of keeping God's word within us, but Solomon speaks of keeping his teaching within the heart. Whilst admittedly he was teaching Divine wisdom, we can see how he was misusing his position in order to get a personal following. Every true teacher is not standing between God and man, but merely directing attention to God's word, rather than his or her own words.

If all of them are ready on your lips-
The sense of the Hebrew is unclear. "If you remember them and can quote them" (GNB), "if all of them are ready on your lips" (ESV), "they shall also gladden thee on thy lips" (LXX). Perhaps the idea is that they would be recited as songs- in other words, Solomon wished for his Proverbs to be recited and perhaps sung just as the Psalms of his father David had been. In this case we can yet again sense an overpowering pressure he felt to live out parental expectation. See on 22:20 Haven't I written to you thirty excellent things.

Pro 22:19 That your trust may be in Yahweh- Again, David is the one who is so often presented as 'trusting in Yahweh' (the same Hebrew word is found in Ps. 13:5; 21:7; 22:9; 25:2; 26:1; 27:3; 28:7; 40:4; 52:8; 65:5; 71:5 etc.); thus Solomon presents his father David as the epitome of the idealized believer. Solomon considers that listening to his Proverbs will lead the listener to such trust; David uses the word to describe how he had to throw himself upon the Lord due to his own sins (Ps. 52:8) or extremity of situation. Solomon, by contrast, seemed to consider 'trust' as something attainable by mere theory.

"Trust" is literally 'a fortress'. The secure fortress was Zion (Is. 32:18; Ps. 125:1 s.w.), "the stronghold of Zion, the same is the city of David" (2 Sam. 5:7). Whilst what Solomon says is true, and repeats the multiple cases of David in the Psalms professing trust in Yahweh as his strong fortress, Solomon as ever has his agenda of self justification; he saw his possession of Zion as a sign that he feared Yahweh acceptably, and that his children would continue the Davidic line of glory. But sacred space is not so ultimately important to God. Possession of the literal stronghold of Zion was nothing compared to trust in Yahweh. 

I teach you today, even you- Does Solomon have one specific individual in view? Is this the same person to whom he refers as "my son"? If we are to take this literally, then we are left with the impression that Solomon wished his own son Rehoboam to be as fixated upon him as Solomon had been upon his own father David. The relative failure of Rehoboam would therefore be another demonstration that Solomon's theories about his own dynasty were wrong.

Pro 22:20 Haven’t I written to you thirty excellent things of counsel and knowledge-
The Hebrew is capable of various translation; another option is to read this as meaning 'I have written to you things which you are to copy out and memorize'. In this case, we would again see Solomon seeking to have his Proverbs memorized and recited just as his father's Psalms were. We must remember that David was the greatest composer / musician of the day; everyone was going around humming his songs and muttering his words as they worked. And Solomon wanted his Proverbs to be treated likewise. See on 22:18 If all of them are ready on your lips. There are many repeated verses in Proverbs- it seems over 20% of the material is repeated. One reason for that could be that the material was designed to be memorized and / or publically performed.

Pro 22:21 to teach you truth, reliable words, to give sound answers to the ones who sent you?-
People came to hear Solomon’s wisdom from many nations (1 Kings 4:34), so the book of Proverbs was maybe first compiled as an answer to be sent back to them. But many versions translate the Hebrew the opposite way around: "When you are sent to find it out, you will bring back the right answer" (GNB). 

Pro 22:22

Don't exploit the poor, because he is poor- AV "rob". The word is used of what Saul did to "the poor" David (Ps. 35:10).

And don't crush the needy in court- Again, we find the Hebrew used for how Saul tried to "crush" David (Ps. 143:3). "In court" is literally 'the gate', and perhaps Solomon had in view how his competitor Absalom stood in the gate promising all kinds of advantage over the poor to the rich.

Pro 22:23 for Yahweh will plead their case, and plunder the life of those who plunder them-
The same phrase used of how God pleaded David's case against Saul and Nabal (1 Sam. 24:15; 25:39; Ps. 35:1; 119:154) and Absalom (Ps. 43:1). Yet again, David is presented as the parade example of the righteous, and David's enemies are presented as the unwise and rejected.

Pro 22:24 Don’t befriend a hot-tempered man-
The same word is used about David's brother Eliab, another opponent of David (1 Sam. 17:28); Saul (1 Sam. 20:30; Ps. 55:3) and all David's enemies (Ps. 138:7). Whilst all Solomon says in the Proverb is indeed true, he clearly had an agenda- to justify his purging of the party of all historical opponents to his father.

And don’t associate with one who harbours anger-
Solomon is justifying his purging of those associated with his father's opponents. But the Hebrew words used here are used of Solomon's association with Gentile women, who led him away from the faith of his father (1 Kings 11:2). And we have seen this so often in church life. Those who shout the loudest against association with others within the community of God's people are often the very ones who are deeply associated with unbelievers through various forms of unspiritual relationships.

Pro 22:25 lest you learn his ways, and ensnare your soul-
Bad company, even amongst the people of God, rubs off on us; we are more vulnerable to negative spiritual influences than we think. Solomon's idea was that friendship with unspiritual people will eventually result in us learning their ways and acting like them, even if that is not the case at the point of initial friendship. This was precisely what Solomon himself did in marrying Gentile women, who in time did indeed make him learn their idolatrous ways. David was the one who repeatedly avoided the snares set for him by Saul (s.w. 1 Sam. 18:21; Ps. 64:5; 140:5; 141:9). So again, the wise man is being set up as Solomon's father David.

Pro 22:26 Don’t you be one of those who strike hands, of those who are collateral for debts-
The prohibition was in the case of a person standing surety when they did not actually have the money to do so (:27), in fact they only had their 'bed', which may be a reference to the outer garment in which a poor person slept (Ex. 22:26,27). The warning would appear to be not to boast of wealth which you don't have, standing surety for someone else's debt when actually if they default, you all the same could not pay the debt. All the rest of this chapter has been making allusion to historical figures and incidents in the lives of David and Solomon. It would be surprising if there is no such allusion here in :26,27, but admittedly it is hard to perceive. But it may well have been an allusion to a situation well known at the time.

The law of Moses didn't forbid giving or taking collateral for loans, it accepted this would happen (Ex. 22:25-27). But Solomon in the Proverbs is quite obsessed with forbidding it in very strong terms (Prov. 6:1-3; 11:15; 17:18; 20:16; 22:26; 27:13- all quite some emphasis). Perhaps Solomon recalled some bad experience in his family because of this. There is the otherwise curious statement in 1 Sam. 17:18 that David's brothers, Solomon's uncles, were to return a collateral. Perhaps this ruined the family and Solomon's wisdom has some human element in it, reflecting his own bad experiences in his family life. But there is nothing wrong with giving or taking collateral for a loan; what is condemned in God's law is the abuse of the debtor and the abuse of the situation. Indeed David and Hezekiah ask God to be collateral for their needs and debts in various ways (Ps. 119:122; Is. 38:14). And God gives the Holy Spirit in our hearts as collateral on His debt, as He sees it, to save us (2 Cor. 1:22; 5:5; Eph. 1:14); and in response we give our hearts as a pledge to Him (Jer. 30:21 Heb.). So forbidding the practice seems out of step with the spirit of grace. It would mean asking of God what we are unprepared to do for others. Solomon had not known need, neither material nor spiritual, and it shows in his attitude to this matter. It makes hollow all Solomon's exhortations to be generous to your poor neighbour and to be a brother in adversity to your neighbour (Prov. 14:21; 17:17). Solomon is here reasoning from the viewpoint of secular wisdom.

Pro 22:27 If you don’t have means to pay, why should he take away your bed from under you?-
See on :26. This is a somewhat exaggerated statement, because the spirit of the Mosaic law in Dt. 24:13 effectively forbad this. But as noted on :26, Solomon is so obsessed by this particular issue of collateral that he exaggerates his case.

Pro 22:28 Don’t move the ancient boundary stone, which your fathers have set up-
This is cited as one of the clearest quotations in Proverbs from the Egyptian 'Wisdom of Amenemopet'. Here we may see evidence of Solomon wishing to appease his Egyptian wife; or, if in fact the Egyptian document was quoting from Proverbs, we would have evidence that Solomon's Egyptian wife shared some of the Proverbs with her people. However, Solomon is here only repeating the spirit of the Mosaic command about this (Dt. 19:14; 27:17); so my sense is that it was the Egyptians who copied from the Biblical source rather than the other way around. The preceding verses are about pretending to have more cash wealth than one does; and this verse is similar, in warning against appearing to have more land than one does. In the spirit of Solomon's self-justification which has been seen earlier in this chapter, it could be that Solomon, as the world's richest man, is saying that he has real wealth, and doesn't have to pretend. In this case we again can perceive an element of self-justification and criticism of anyone less than him.

Pro 22:29 Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will serve kings. He won’t serve obscure men
For Solomon as a king to teach that only smart people serve kings is again merely a truism- until we realize the manipulative game he is playing. The message really is: 'If you submit to me as king, then you're smart. You must be- because my proverb says you will be!'. But we must remember that there were many pretenders to the throne at Solomon's time, and so by reasoning like this he is seeking to justify himself and those who take his side. As noted before several times in this chapter, Solomon's attempts to inject self-justification into the Proverbs so often ended up going wrong. Jeroboam was a zealous, industrious servant of Solomon, who fitted the language of this verse exactly (1 Kings 11:28); but he later turned against Solomon and divided Solomon's kingdom in the next generation. We can also see in "a man skilled in his work" a reference to the skilled men of Hiram, king of Tyre, who worked for Solomon in building the temple. But again, Solomon and Hiram fell out and again, Solomon's kingdom suffered because of this (1 Kings 9:13). Solomon's flattery of his servants through this Proverb just didn't come to anything- indeed, it ended up in grief.