Detailed verse by verse study. Part of a three volume set.

Extract from the Epilogue:

A proverb is like a well cut diamond. One can look at only so many facets. One person can’t look at them all, otherwise the exposition would be endless (and some facets would be missed anyway). The Bible is like that…

This inexhaustible feature of the Proverbs has a humbling effect upon those who choose to write or speak upon them… We pray that this study may help others to see more accurately how vitally interested God is in our day to day dealings and with the smallest of things in our lives.

We end these three volumes by urging all, young and old, to make the Proverbs one of your studies in the race for life eternal. May you seek God’s wisdom where it is to be found – in His revealed Wisdom Books.

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Author(s): Aleck Crawford
Binding: Hardback
Pages: 328
Publisher: Christadelphian Scripture Study Service

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1 review for Proverbs Volume 3 – chapters 22:17-31:31

  1. Aleck Crawford


    This exposition of the Proverbs is a unique work in the literature of the Truth, a study in depth of the Proverbs of Solomon, the son of David, king of Israel. His exposition is in three volumes: the first covers Proverbs 1-9, and Volume 2 deals with chapter 10 through to 22:16. This review is of the third of the three volumes, which covers Proverbs 22:17 to the end of the book. This section covers the words of the wise proverbs of Solomon, collected by Hezekiah, the words of Agur son of Jakeh, and the wonderful final chapter by King Lemuel, who was instructed by his mother.

    Helpful approach

    Brother Crawford’s approach is both analytical and exhortational, scholarly and practical, expositional and personal. The result is a book which is of value to the whole ecclesia, brethren and sisters, young and old. It will help the brother who wants to compose an exhortation based on a chapter or theme in Proverbs, or who has a Bible Class paper to prepare. It will aid a family as they do the readings from Proverbs in March and April, providing themes for chapters and pithy verse summaries. The short expositions will give food for thought to those older in the Truth who would like a new insight into familiar verses. The young can be guided by the summaries and panels on friendship, choosing a wife and digressions on wealth and the harlot. And sisters can find comfort and help from the sections on “The truly liberated woman” and “Maternal instincts and obligations”.

    The translation of the Proverbs in our Authorised Version is sometimes cumbersome and hard to follow. Brother Crawford has selected the New American Standard Bible [NASB] translation as both good in translation and modern in its English idioms, and he uses this translation at the commencement of each piece of exposition. For example, in Proverbs 30:1, after introducing the words of Agur, son of Jakeh, the prophecy (oracle) is rendered:

    “I have wearied myself, O God,

    I have wearied myself, O God,

    And am consumed”.

    This is much more meaningful than the AV, and is in keeping with the sense of the next verse.

    Another example, Proverbs 29:11, reads in the AV: “A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards”. This becomes in the NASB: “A fool always loses his temper, but a wise man holds it back”. The sense is here of the wise man overcoming and dissipating his temper, not merely restraining it for a while only to give vent to it at a later time.

    Brother Crawford does not accept the NASB uncritically, but has taken pains to help us appreciate as far as possible the real sense of the text, in the spirit of Psalm 12:6: “The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times”.

    Practical examples

    The author takes much care over structural and grammatical analysis, and conveying the accurate sense of the text, he takes even more care over the practical outworking of Proverbs in our lives, and in giving examples of people, both good and bad, who illustrate the parables. Examples of personal illustrations abound, and the author is to be thanked for bringing so many of them to our attention. All will find this aspect of the book extremely helpful.

    An early example is found on page 582, on Proverbs 22:29:

    “Do you see a man skilled in his work?

    He will stand before kings;

    He will not stand before obscure men”.

    Brother Crawford comments:

    “This proverb tells us that we need to try to do our best, regardless of what our occupation is, and this proficiency will receive recognition. Joseph, Nehemiah, and Daniel–all diligent in their work–did stand before kings. Ezra ‘was a scribe skilled in the Law of Moses . . . and the king granted him all he requested because the hand of the LORD his God was upon him’ (Ezra 7:6, NASB). Even if the letter of the promise be not fulfilled, the skilled man will rule in his own sphere. Such was the honor put upon Eliezer’s care, forethought and activity for the difficult task given by his master (Gen. 24).

    “‘Diligence’ (AV), even without godliness, is often the way to worldly advancement. Jeroboam owed his rise in Solomon’s court to his ‘industrious’ habits (1 Kings 11:28).

    “But when a man ‘serves the Lord in fervency of spirit’ (Rom. 12:11, NASB), occupying his own talent for the day of reckoning (Luke 19:13), he will stand before the King of kings with unspeakable honour:?

    “‘Well done! good and faithful servant . . . enter thou into the joy of thy lord’ (Matt. 25:21-23)”.

    For nearly every verse a Biblical or sometimes a non-Biblical example of a person is given, and this enriches the book considerably.

    Useful summaries

    Another of the very helpful features of the book is the chapter themes and verse summaries. Chapters at the beginning of Proverbs about wisdom, and those at the end, have clear themes, but many of the chapters in the middle sections seem to be jumbled collections of wise proverbs lacking a connecting thread. Brother Crawford provides clear themes; for example, for chapter 26: “A fool’s worsening stages”; for chapter 27: “Friends”; for chapter 28: “The blessings of the righteous and curses of the wicked”. These are helpful, if just for providing a discussion guide when we come together in families and ecclesias to do the readings.

    In addition to this, the comments on individual verses or groups of verses are prefaced by a short summary phrase or description. Thus Proverbs 22:24,25, “Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul”, is summarised as, “Bad companions are contagious”. Other pithy summaries are: “Awe before appetite–an epigram”; “The illusory nature of riches”; “Discipline delivers from death”; “Sinners: exciting but dangerous”; “Wisdom–the only way to satisfaction”; “Wearing your welcome out”; “Show your disapproval to a slanderer”; “Nagging wife”; “Do your readings!”; “Confess and be blessed”; “Generosity always pays”; “Control yourself, or end up a fool”; “Correction brings comfort and delight”; “The unsearchableness of God”. The book is worth having for these verse summaries alone!

    Perceptive comments

    Throughout, it is a joy to read Brother Crawford’s comments on the proverbs. His English is always good and his thoughts perceptive, and he manages to bring real-life examples into his text. The reviewer particularly enjoyed the treatment of Proverbs 27:23-27, the passage that begins, “Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds”. Three levels of meaning are brought out: the natural, the metaphorical and the spiritual. This section is well worth reading carefully, for many facets of wisdom are revealed in the excellent comments made.

    Perceptive comments are made on Proverbs 28:27 (captioned “Generosity always pays”): “He who gives to the poor will never want, but he who shuts his eyes will have many curses” (NASB). In addition to wise comments and liberal illustrations of this proverb, Brother Crawford adds a digressionary paragraph about teaching our children to have a generous spirit, and the responsibilities here of parents and grandparents.

    In a book full of riches it is difficult to make a selection of citations to illustrate the breadth of the material covered. Any selection is bound to be personal to the reviewer. One passage that struck a particular chord with this reviewer is the introductory section on Agur (Proverbs 30), commencing on page 765:

    “Agur’s humility is expressed by his hatred of arrogance in any form and by his careful analysis of God’s creation. His is a good example. We must have a keen and delighted interest in the handiwork of our Creator, otherwise we will descend to the depths of pride which have no room for anything but ourselves. Agur invites us to look again at our world with the eye of faith. Then we will observe the character of our fellow man, and the artistic capability of Him who created His manifold works with wisdom. We can compare Agur with the Psalmist who wrote: ‘I muse on the work of Thy hands’ (Ps.143:5, NASB)”.

    A wealth of exposition on this wonderful chapter kept the reviewer spellbound right to the end. How much wisdom and understanding we can gain by contemplating the works of creation, which constantly give witness to Him Who made all things! Let us follow Agur’s example.

    The virtuous woman

    The final chapter of Proverbs contains the words of Lemuel’s mother and the passage on the virtuous wife. This passage is read on the sabbath eve in Jewish homes, setting the high standard of conduct and behaviour as the family gathers round on the last day of the week. The author comments: “the virtuous woman . . . seems to be the personification of all the virtues and strengths of character urged upon us throughout the Proverbs. She is a model for all of us, whether men, women or children”. He contrasts the failures in the Scriptures as giving examples for the wife of today of what not to do. At this point he gives a digression, “The truly liberated woman”–a relevant and helpful update for today of the principles of Proverbs 31. Helpful too is the spiritual interpretation of this passage, the application to the ecclesia. This is particularly commended to the reader. Finally, Chris Crawford collaborates with Aleck in writing the final digression, “Maternal instincts and obligations”– a very helpful section.

    Proverbs is a treasure trove, and Brother Crawford helps us to find, and delight in, the sparkling gems that our Father has placed in this book. It can be read from cover to cover, or dipped into as desired. It is well indexed and has appendices, including one on “Hezekiah in the Proverbs and historical applications”. There are about twenty illustrations, one of which, showing the virtuous woman spinning flax, is reproduced here. It has been nicely produced by the CSSS and is in hardback at an extremely reasonable price. This book and its companion volumes are commended to the Brotherhood.

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