Esther 4

Esther 4:13-17
4:13 he sent back this answer: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape.

4:14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place [a reminder that no one is indispensable to God’s purpose and kingdom], but you and your father’s family will perish [because of Haman’s plot]. And who knows but that you [a Jewish orphan who had become queen of Persia at a time when her people faced annihilation] have come to royal position [election is for service and not merely for one’s own benefit] for such a time as this [Esther was the key in God’s plan to save the Jews from Haman’s evil scheme]?”

4:15 Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai:

4:16 “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days [this would allow them to focus their attention on their prayers for Esther and her success when she went into the king’s presence], night or day. I and my maids will fast [a way of expressing deep grief] as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish [illustrates Esther’s commitment to follow-through regardless of what happened to her].”

4:17 So Mordecai went away and carried out all of Esther’s instructions [re: organizing the fast].

Esther 3

Esther 3:5-6

3:5 When Haman [an Amalekite (longtime enemies of Israel that started when Israel fought with them in the wilderness; cf. Ex. 17:8-16; Deut. 25:17-19); promoted to second highest rank in Ahasuerus’ kingdom] saw that Mordecai would not kneel down [when he passed by] or pay him honor [as commanded by the king (cf. 3:2); Mordecai refused to bow before anyone other than God], he was enraged.

3:6 Yet having learned who Mordecai’s people [the Jews] were, he scorned the idea of killing only Mordecai. Instead Haman looked for a way to destroy [genocide] all Mordecai’s people, the Jews, throughout the whole kingdom of Xerxes [same person as Ahasuerus; reigned from 486-464 BC; son of Darius the Great and grandson of Cyrus the Great].

Esther 2

Esther 2:7
2:7 Mordecai [a Jew from the tribe of Benjamin who lived in Susa, the winter location for the Persian King Ahasuerus’ palace; Mordecai exiled in Persia] had a cousin named Hadassah [name means “myrtle”], whom he had brought up [Mordecai was her legal guardian] because she had neither father nor mother. This girl, who was also known as Esther [name means “star”], was lovely in form and features, and Mordecai had taken her as his own daughter when her father and mother died.

Esther 2:17
2:17 Now the king was attracted to Esther [underwent a beauty treatment along with the other virgins (cf. 2:3,9,12)] more than to any of the other women [the virgins who appeared before him in his search for a new queen], and she won his favor and approval more than any of the other virgins. So he set a royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti [removed as queen because she refused to display her physical beauty before her husband’s drunken dinner guests (cf. 1:12)].

Introduction to Song of Songs

We live in a culture that needs clear answers about the relationship between love and sex. Song of Songs answers questions about the limits and joys of appropriately expressing human love.

Contents — Song of Songs is a collection of love songs or poems that tastefully portray the genuine love between a man and a woman in marriage. Some scholars see the book as a picture of Christ’s love for the church.

Purpose — The book describes love between a man and a woman as God intended it to be.

Themes — The book celebrates the beauty of sexual love and emphasizes the importance of a man and woman finding mutual satisfaction exclusively in the marriage relationship.

Writer and Date — The authorship of the book is traditionally ascribed to Solomon, whose name appears several times in the book, and was probably written in the tenth century BC.

Introduction to Ecclesiastes

As a result of feverishly pursuing the things that make life pleasurable and comfortable, many people are left feeling dry and thirsting for something more. Ecclesiastes maps the routes that Solomon explored while searching for the meaning of life under the sun. Ecclesiastes can help us to chart a course past dead-end routes to the source of life’s true meaning.

Contents — Ecclesiastes examines and questions a variety of efforts to find fulfillment in life apart from God. The book cautions against searching for life’s meaning in the accumulation of things, in the pursuit of human wisdom, and in pleasurable experiences. The book concludes with the practical instruction to trust and obey God.

Purpose — Ecclesiastes is Solomon’s candid journal of his experiments with various pleasures, possessions, power, and knowledge in an effort to find the meaning of life under the sun. When he summed up the total of his findings, Solomon concluded that life apart from God had no meaning.

Themes — The theme of Ecclesiastes appears in the prologue, “Everything is futile” (1:2), and moves toward the conclusion in the epilogue, “Fear God and keep His commands” (12:13). The discourses between these verses lead to the conclusion that life’s ultimate meaning is not found under the sun (where “everything is futile”), but above or beyond the sun (in God).

Writer and Date — The absence of the writer’s name in Ecclesiastes has led scholars to debate its authorship. Assuming, however, that Solomon was the author, Ecclesiastes was written in the tenth century B.C.

Introduction to Job

People take all kinds of measures to build hedges around their lives to keep suffering and pain at bay. And yet, often without warning, suffering and pain intrude—and life is never the same again. Their arrival prompts a search for answers to renew hope and strengthen resolve to go on. The book of Job offers wisdom to navigate the dark and perplexing territory of human suffering and pain.

Contents — The first two chapters present the problem of evil and describe Satan’s assault on Job. Chapters three to thirty-seven contain three cycles of speeches in which Job’s friends misrepresented God by claiming to know why Job was suffering and by thinking that they knew why and how God does what He does. The final chapters present Job’s humbling encounter with God and the restoration of his fortunes.

Purpose — The book explores the mystery of human suffering and the question of divine justice. The Bible teaches that no one sins with impunity and that trust and obedience to God are rewarded. Job, however, does not fit neatly into that pattern. A pious and upright man, Job was buffeted by waves of indescribable suffering. His friends erroneously concluded that he was being punished for some terrible sin. The book challenges the notion that all suffering is caused by sin and suggests that God may have other purposes for suffering.

Themes — The opening chapters introduce the theme of why one serves God. Satan contended that people like Job serve God because of God’s blessings and not because of God Himself. The theme of undeserved and unexplained suffering is introduced when God allowed Satan to unleash his fury against Job and his family. The book also explores the theme of God’s sovereignty.

Writer and Date — The Scripture does not supply the answer to the authorship of Job. Although the book offers few indications of its date, some scholars believe it was written either prior to or in the days of the patriarchs because of the absence of any clear reference to any known historical event.

Overview of Job

Job 1:1-22 — Job was a pious and prosperous man highly regarded on earth and in heaven. Satan accused Job of serving God for selfish reasons. God permitted Satan to test Job’s motives for serving Him with the stipulation that he not harm Job himself. Job responded to Satan’s attacks by worshiping rather than cursing God.

Job 2:1-10 — Satan again questioned Job’s motives for serving God. He received permission to strike but not to kill Job. Satan struck Job’s body with ulcerous sores. Job again accepted this adversity and refused to curse God.

Job 2:11-13 — Three of Job’s friends visited him in hope of offering sympathy and comfort. They wept and grieved with Job for an entire week and did not speak a word because of the intensity of his suffering.

Job 3:1-26 — Following a week of silence, Job spoke in the presence of his friends. Filled with emotion, he cursed the day of his birth and wished he had never been born. Job lamented that he had not been stillborn and expressed his desire to die in the midst of his present sufferings.

Job 4:1–7:21 — Eliphaz believed that Job was suffering because he had sinned against God. He urged Job to turn to God, implying that Job had turned away from God. Job asked Eliphaz to bring up specific charges against him rather than vague insinuations.

Job 8:1–10:22 — Like Eliphaz, Bildad believed that Job’s adversity came because he was guilty of sin. He argued on the basis of cause and effect and callously told Job that his children had sinned and received what they deserved. Job maintained his innocence and concluded that it would have been better for him to go from the womb to the tomb.

Job 11:1–13:19 — Like his companions, Zophar assumed Job was guilty until proven innocent. He too believed that Job was being punished by God and that he needed to repent. Job rejected the explanations of his friends. He called them worthless physicians who were unable to give a proper diagnosis and branded their counsel as worthless as ashes.

Job 13:20–14:22 — Job asked God to reveal to him any sin in his life, including any he might have committed in his youth. He lamented that the future looked hopeless and asked God to let him have a little peace before his death.

Job 15:1–17:16 — Eliphaz challenged Job’s contention that the wicked prosper in this life. He insisted that the wicked are punished, again implying that Job was suffering because he had sinned. Job called Eliphaz and his friends “miserable comforters” and maintained his innocence. Job prayed that his blood would cry out and declare his innocence if he died without being vindicated.

Job 18:1–19:29 — Bildad graphically described the fate of the wicked and told Job that he was getting exactly what he deserved. Job lamented that he felt forsaken by all who were dear to him. Yet, Job looked forward to the day when God Himself would clear him of all charges.

Job 20:1–21:34 — Zophar told Job that he must surely be aware of the end that awaits the wicked. Job responded by telling Zophar that the wicked are not always overtaken by punishment and the righteous do not always enjoy prosperity.

Job 22:1–24:25 — Eliphaz opened the third round of speeches with the direct and heartless precision of a sniper. He took aim at Job and accused him of being a sinner and a hypocrite. Eliphaz offered no supporting evidence for his charges and maintained his simple logic: Since only the wicked suffer and Job was suffering a lot it followed that Job must be very wicked.

Job responded to Eliphaz by ignoring him and speaking to the Lord instead. He lamented that no matter which way he turned he could not find God. Job wanted desperately to be able to present his case before God, if he could but find him or know his court schedule. Job detailed many of the sins of the wicked and complained that they seemed to sin with impunity.

Job 25:1–27:23 — Bildad’s brief speech focused on God’s greatness. He remarked that God is infinitely greater than His creatures—who Bildad described as maggots and worms. Since even the works of God’s creation are not pure when compared to Him, Bildad said that no person (including Job) could claim to be clean before God.

Job rebuked Bildad for talking about God’s greatness but offering no practical help to him. He was well aware of God’s greatness and sovereignty. However, Job was more concerned about God’s justice. He wanted his day in court. He told his friends that he would maintain his integrity and would not give a false confession of his sins just to please them. Job concluded his response with a description of the fate of the wicked.

Job 28:1-28 — Job turned his attention to the matter of wisdom. While his friends had knowledge (intellectual information) they lacked wisdom (spiritual perception). Job said that wisdom is not found by digging shafts deep into the earth, nor can it be purchased at a market. True wisdom begins with the fear of the Lord. God’s wisdom, not that of his friends, would help Job face his perplexing situation.

Job 29:1-25 — Job recalled better days when he had thought his future was secure. In days past, Job had looked forward to dying with his children around him. He had once felt that his life was deeply rooted, secure, and prosperous. He reminisced about the days when he had a good reputation, strength, and was highly regarded for his opinions and judgments.

Job 30:1-31 — The opening words of this chapter signal a contrast to the thoughts of the previous chapter. Job lamented that in his present miserable condition he had to endure the taunts and abuse of others. He complained that even God had turned on him and would not listen to him. Job felt he had lost the respect of others and the friendship of God. He felt alone and forsaken.

Job 31:1-40 — Job turned the spotlight on himself and examined every area of his life. Intent on affirming his innocence, Job examined his marriage, his business, his home, his relationship to his employees and the people of his community, his attitude toward money, his spiritual life, his treatment of enemies, and his stewardship of the land and resources entrusted to him by God. Job then reaffirmed his personal integrity and rested his case.

Job 32:1–33:33 — Elihu, a new voice, entered the debate. He was the youngest of those present and spoke a total of four times. Elihu’s messages form a transition from the words of Job and his critics to the words of God. He rebuked Job’s friends for making unsupported accusations against Job and addressed Job’s complaint that God would not speak to him. Elihu pointed out that God speaks to people through dreams, through pain, and through others.

Job 34:1-37 — In his second speech Elihu rebutted Job’s claim that God was not fair (34:1-9). He affirmed that God is fair and always acts according to His nature (34:10-15). Elihu reminded Job and his critics that no one is in a position to criticize God regarding how He enforces judgment (34:16-20). He praised God as the omniscient Judge of the universe (34:21-30). God is not accountable to us nor does He owe us any explanations (34:31-37).

Job 35:1-16 — Elihu began his third speech by quoting Job’s earlier complaint that God seemed not to punish the wicked. He reminded Job and his friends that God is infinitely higher and beyond the grasp of than human beings. The wickedness or righteousness of people, Elihu said, impacted their fellow human beings but did not change God. He also said that God had no time for those who only called on him in emergencies but disregarded Him in good times.

Job 36:1–37:24 — In his fourth and final speech, Elihu contended that God is powerful and in control. He judges the wicked, helps the oppressed, and exalts the righteous. He reminded Job that no person is in a position to reprove or instruct God concerning His actions. God manages the universe with skill beyond our comprehension. Because we do not know, understand, or can explain how God does wondrous things in nature, we should fear Him and trust Him to do what is right.

Job 38:1–40:2 — The Lord broke His silence and spoke directly to Job from the midst of a whirlwind. This is the longest conversation in the Bible in which the Lord speaks. However, rather than being questioned by Job, the Lord asked Job to answer questions concerning the created order. His questions exposed the inadequacy of human wisdom.

Job 40:3-5 — Job responded by telling the Lord that he could not answer His questions. He concluded that it would be better to remain silent than to try to contend with God.

Job 40:6–41:34 — The Lord confronted Job with trying to discredit His justice and trying to condemn Him in order to justify himself. He then invited Job to try to do a better job than Him of running the universe. If Job was incapable of capturing and controlling a hippopotamus or a crocodile, then he was in no position to question the Creator of these animals. Job, who earlier could not wait to argue his case before the Lord, was speechless.

Job 42:1-6 — Job humbly submitted himself to the Lord and demonstrated a teachable spirit. He acknowledged the Lord’s sovereignty and the inscrutability of His ways. Job admitted that he had presumptuously spoken about things he did not understand and that his own wisdom was woefully inadequate. He repented of his presumptuous words and attitude toward God. Job was a broken man. Satan had lost. God was glorified.

Job 42:7-17 — The Lord addressed Job’s friends and expressed his displeasure over their misrepresentation of Him. They had reduced God to a formula and a cliché. The Lord ordered them to offer a sacrifice for their sin and instructed Job to pray for his friends. The three friends did exactly as the Lord instructed. After Job prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and family. Job lived an additional one hundred and forty years.

Overview of Ecclesiastes

Ecclesiastes 1:1-18 — Solomon introduced the theme of futility in the opening verses of the book. He observed the fleeting and transient nature of everything under the sun and concluded that fulfillment is not found in these.

Ecclesiastes 2:1-11 — Solomon experimented with pleasure and possessions to see if these avenues led to fulfillment in life. He tried wine and folly and the accumulation of possessions. Solomon found that these pursuits failed to satisfy and were futile.

Ecclesiastes 2:12-26 — Solomon bemoaned the fact that even his work failed to satisfy. He hated to think that all he had worked for would be bequeathed to others who may be wise or foolish. He concluded that the best thing to do was to simply enjoy the normal activities of daily life as gifts from God.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-15 — Solomon declared that there is “a time for every activity under heaven” (3:1 . He listed a variety of human experiences that come from God and are good in their time. Solomon also affirmed that life is a gift from God and should be enjoyed and lived with eternity in mind.

Ecclesiastes 3:16-22 — Like others before him, Solomon acknowledged the mystery of the wicked prospering in their sin and the righteous suffering in their obedience. Solomon found comfort in the assurance that there is an appointed time when God’s judgment will set matters straight.

Ecclesiastes 4:1-16 — Solomon lamented the oppression and sadness he observed in the world. He said that the dead are better off than the living because they do not have to put up with this evil. He also commented on the loneliness of wealth. Solomon did not see the point in a man without an heir working hard all of his life to acquire wealth. It is better to go through life with friends than to try to make it alone.

Ecclesiastes 5:1-20 — Solomon cautioned against making and breaking vows to God. He also said that bureaucracy and corruption are facts of life and should not surprise us. Returning to the topic of wealth, Solomon stated that wealth cannot satisfy people’s deepest longings. Wealth cannot solve all of the problems of the poor and creates problems for the rich.

Ecclesiastes 6:1-12 — Solomon noted that some who have great wealth are not able to enjoy it at all. Some die with so little that their families are not even able to provide them with a decent burial. Both the wise and the poor give themselves to the futile pursuit of wealth and never seem to get enough.

Ecclesiastes 7:1-13 — Solomon wrote a series of proverbs that illustrate some of the lessons that are learned only when facing death or thinking about it. The inevitability of death gives one a needed perspective on the realities of life. God’s wisdom reminds us of the brevity of life and encourages us to listen to wise critics.

Ecclesiastes 7:14-29 — God allows us to experience days filled with prosperity and days filled with adversity. He uses each of these extremes to give balance to our lives and to help us grow. Solomon also observed other of life’s extremes and urged that one follow a course of wisdom through these.

Ecclesiastes 8:1-17 — Life is filled with all sorts of injustices and inequities that we must deal with. Among these are bad rulers and people who do not get what they deserve. Solomon concluded that while wisdom cannot explain every mystery under the sun, we need wisdom in order to get the most out of life.

Ecclesiastes 9:1-10 — Death is inevitable for the righteous and the wicked. However, the reality of death should not overshadow the enjoyments of life. God wants us to enjoy feasts, family, and our work. And, in doing this, we should allow God’s wisdom to guide us in living each day for His glory.

Ecclesiastes 9:11-18 — Life is not fair and is often unpredictable. At times there seems to be no relation between what we deserve and what we actually receive. Sometimes the race goes to the swift and at other times it does not. Nevertheless, we should look to God for the wisdom to live each day for His glory.

Ecclesiastes 10:1-20 — Just as a dead fly in ointment will cause it to stink, so a little folly can destroy the character and reputation of a wise person. The wise person and the fool can be identified by the way in which they live. The wise display calmness in tense situations and know how to offer gracious words. Unfortunately, kings often make the mistake of promoting fools to positions of power. Fools have a high regard for their opinions, give bad advice, and even presumptuously try to predict the future.

Ecclesiastes 11:1-6 — Solomon counseled that it is best to diversify investments, work hard, and take calculated risks. The one who sits and waits for every condition to be perfect before acting will miss valuable opportunities in life.

Ecclesiastes 11:7-10 — Solomon advised people to enjoy every minute of being young. Young people should live their lives within the boundaries of God’s revealed will because they will one day give an account to God for everything they have done.

Ecclesiastes 12:1-8 — Solomon said that people should make the most of life and its many opportunities while they are young. The young are irresistibly and steadily drawn toward old age and progressively lose the capacity to pursue many opportunities. Solomon poetically and graphically described the physiological changes we undergo as we grow older.

Ecclesiastes 12:9-14 — Regardless of our age, we should continuously seek to learn and to apply the truths of God’s Word. Solomon concluded Ecclesiastes with sober advice — “fear God and keep His commands” and live each day with the knowledge that God “will bring every act to judgment.”

Proverbs 1

1:1 The proverbs [means “to be like” or “to represent” thus to explain one thing by comparing it to another] of Solomon [cf. 1 Kings 4:32; Prov. 10:1; 25:1] son of David, king of Israel:

1:2 for attaining [gaining] wisdom [refers to the application of facts to life; cf. Prov. 2:6; Jas. 1:5] and discipline [instruction in how to live]; for understanding words of insight;

1:3 for acquiring [receiving] a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right [adherence to God’s law] and just [equitable] and fair;

1:4 for giving prudence [shrewdness] to the simple [or “inexperienced”; one who has yet to learn how to apply God’s law to life; cf. Prov. 19:7b], knowledge and discretion to the young—

1:5 let the wise listen and [as a result of listening] add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance [the ability to navigate through life]

1:6 for understanding proverbs [wise sayings] and parables [a specific form of saying that imparts wisdom], the sayings and riddles of the wise.

1:7 The fear [piety, reverence, submission] of the LORD is the beginning [starting point; the necessary prerequisite] of knowledge, but fools [a moral/spiritual rather than intellectual classification] despise wisdom and discipline.

1:8 [cf. Prov. 17:25] Listen, my son, to [note the role of parents in sharing wisdom with their children…] your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.

1:9 They [a parents advise/instructions] will be [note two symbols of success in life…] [1] a garland to grace your head and [2] a chain to adorn your neck.

1:10 [this verse states theme of verses 10-19] My son, if sinners [cf. Ps. 1:1; 1 Cor. 15:33] entice you, do not give in to them.

1:11 If they say, “Come along with us [do not underestimate the power of acceptance by a group of peers]; [a description of murdering for entertainment…] let’s lie in wait [indicates intent to commit premeditated murder] for someone’s blood, let’s [for no reason (other than entertainment)] waylay some harmless [innocent] soul;

1:12 let’s swallow them alive, like the grave [Sheol: the realm of the dead], and whole, like those who go down to the pit [the abode of the dead];

1:13 [thievery in addition to murder…] we will get all sorts of valuable things and fill our houses with plunder;

1:14 throw in your lot with us, and we will share a common purse [spoils]”—

1:15 my son, do not go along with them, do not set foot on their paths [the life of crime described in verses 10-14];

1:16 for their feet rush into sin, they are swift to shed blood [note Prov. 6:17b-18 re: what God hates].

1:17 How useless to spread a net in full view of all the birds!

1:18 These men lie in wait for their own blood; they waylay only themselves [those who seek to destroy others will themselves be destroyed]!

1:19 Such is the end of all who go after ill-gotten gain; it takes away the lives of those who get it [cf. Obadiah 15].

1:20 Wisdom calls aloud in the street, she [wisdom personified as a woman; cf. Prov. 8:22-31] raises her voice [to get the attention of others; calling to offer insight to those who need it] in the public squares [a busy place teeming with people];

1:21 at the head of the noisy [commotion often drowns out the voice of wisdom] streets she cries out, in the gateways of the city [re: city gates cf. Deut. 22:15; Ruth 4:1; 1 Sam. 9:18; gathering place for leaders and common people] she makes her speech:

1:22 “How long will you simple ones [ignorant or foolish ones: those who are naïve and uninformed about the realities of life] love your simple ways [or ignorance]? How long will mockers [those who speak scornfully] delight in mockery and fools [refers to someone who is morally deficient] hate knowledge?

1:23 If you had responded to my rebuke, I would have poured out my heart to you
and made my thoughts known to you.

1:24 But since you rejected me when I called and no one gave heed when I stretched out my hand,

1:25 since you ignored all my advice and would not accept my rebuke,

1:26 I in turn will laugh at your disaster; I will mock when calamity overtakes you—

1:27 when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind, when distress and trouble overwhelm you.

1:28 “Then they will call to me but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me.

1:29 Since they hated knowledge [not the accumulation of information; knowledge that comes from a vital relationship with God] and [note parallel expression…] did not choose to fear [reverence] the LORD,

1:30 since they would not accept my advice [counsel] and spurned my rebuke [correction; reproof],

1:31 [a reminder that all of our choices have consequences; cf. Gal. 6:7; Col. 3:25] they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes.

1:32 For the waywardness [literally “turning,” in this case a turning away from wisdom] of the simple [the inexperienced] will kill them [a reminder that the consequences of unwise actions can be deadly], and the complacency [from a root meaning “to be quiet, at ease”; sinful idleness or carefree attitude toward spiritual matters] of fools will destroy them;

1:33 but whoever listens to me [wisdom] will [note the benefits of following wisdom’s teaching…] live in safety [literally will “lie down in trust”; sleep with no worries] and be at ease, without fear of harm [danger; evil; calamity].”

Proverbs 2

2:1 My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you,

2:2 turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding,

2:3 and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding,

2:4 and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure,

2:5 then [if we are open to and acquire God’s wisdom] you will understand [mentally and experientially] the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God [involves awareness of His nature and attributes].

2:6 For the LORD [the ultimate source of wisdom] gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.

2:7 He holds victory [success; literally “wisdom”] in store for the upright, he is a shield [protection] to those whose walk is blameless,

2:8 for he guards the course of the just and protects [guards] the way of his faithful ones.

2:9 Then you will understand what is right [that which conforms to God’s moral and ethical standards] and just [cf. Amos 5:24] and fair—every good path.

2:10 For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.

2:11 Discretion [the ability to plan or act that one gains through the development of wisdom] will protect you [from destructive behavior], and understanding will guard you [from destructive behavior].

2:12 Wisdom will save [rescue; by giving you the ability to perceive perverse counsel] you from the ways of wicked men [cf. Prov. 2:13-15], from men whose words are perverse,

2:13 who leave the straight paths to walk in dark ways,

2:14 who delight in doing wrong and rejoice in the perverseness of evil,

2:15 whose paths are crooked and who are devious in their ways.

2:16 It will save you also from the adulteress [a forbidden woman], from the wayward wife [a stranger] with her seductive words [one of the tricks used by seductive women to lure others into their sinful snare],

2:17 [an adulteress is unfaithful to her own husband and marriage vows] who has left the partner of her youth and ignored the covenant [marriage covenant] she made before God.

2:18 For her house leads down to death and her paths to the spirits of the dead.

2:19 None who go to her return or attain the paths of life.

2:20 Thus you will walk in [the path we walk determines our destination; cf. Matt. 7:13] the ways of good men and keep to the paths of the righteous.

2:21 For the upright will live in the land, and the blameless will remain in it;

2:22 but the wicked will be cut off from the land, and the unfaithful will be torn from it.