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See the Introduction.
Righteousness - Including, perhaps, the idea of benevolence. Compare the use of δικαιοσύνη dikaiosunē, in Matthew 6:1 (the older reading), and 2 Corinthians 9:9-10.
Casteth away ... - Better, “overturns, disappoints the strong desire of the wicked.” Tantalus-like, they never get the enjoyment they thirst after.
Slack - The word is elsewhere translated as “deceitful” Job 13:7; Psalms 120:2-3; Hosea 7:16; Jeremiah 48:10. The two thoughts run easily into each other.
The son is called upon to enter upon the labors of others, and reap where they have sown. To sleep when the plenteous harvest lies ready for the sickle is the most extreme laziness.
Covereth ... - The meaning is perhaps, the violence which the wicked has done is as a bandage over his mouth, reducing him to a silence and shame, like that of the leper Leviticus 13:45; Micah 3:7 or the condemned criminal Esther 7:8, whose “face is covered.”
A prating ... fall - Better, as in the margin. Inward self-contained wisdom is contrasted with self-exposed folly.
Shall be known - literally, “shall be made to know” (see Jeremiah 31:19; Judges 8:16 margin) in the sense of exposed.
In Proverbs 10:8 the relation between the two clauses was one of contrast, here of resemblance. Cunning, reticence, and deceit (Proverbs 6:12 note) bring sorrow no less than garrulity.
Compare Proverbs 10:6. Streams of living water (like the “fountain of living waters” of Jeremiah 2:13; Jeremiah 17:13, and the “living water” of John 4:10), flow from the mouth of the righteous, but that of the wicked is “covered,” i. e., stopped and put to silence by their own violence.
Love covereth all sins - i. e., First hides, does not expose, and then forgives and forgets all sins.
i. e., The wisdom of the wise is seen in the words that issue from his lips; the folly of the fool is not only seen in his speech, but brings upon him the chastisement which he well deserves.
Lay up - The point of the maxim is that the wise man reserves what he has to say for the right time, place, and persons (compare Matthew 7:6), as contrasted with the foolish, ever giving immediate utterance to what destroys himself and others.
Destruction - That which crushes, throws into ruins. Wealth secures its possessors against many dangers; poverty exposes men to worse evils than itself, meanness, servility, and cowardice. Below the surface there lies, it may be, a grave irony against the rich; see Proverbs 18:11.
A warning against the conclusion to seek wealth first of all, which men of lower natures might draw from Proverbs 10:15.
“Quaerenda pecunia primum est;
Virtus post nummos?”
Horace, Ephesians 1:0. i. 53.
Such an inference is met by the experience, that while wealth gotten by honest industry is not only, like inherited riches a defense, but also a blessing, the seeming profit (rather than “fruit”) of the wicked tends to further sin 1 Timothy 6:10, and so to punishment. Compare Romans 6:21.
literally, A way of life is he that keepeth instruction. The verb “erreth” is better rendered in the margin. The influence for good or evil spreads beyond the man himself.
Better, He who hideth hatred is of lying lips. He who cherishes hatred, is either a knave, or a fool - a knave if he hides, a fool if he utters it.
There wanteth not sin - Some render this, “Sin shall not cease,” etc., i. e., many words do not mend a fault. Silence on the part both of the reprover and the offender is often better. The King James Version is, however, preferable.
The tongue, the instrument of the mind is contrasted with the heart or mind itself, the just with the wicked, the choice silver with the worthless “little,” the Hebrew word being possibly taken in its primary sense as a “filing” or “scraping” of dross or worthless metal. If the tongue is precious, how much more the mind! If the heart is worthless, how much more the speech!
Feed - The Hebrew word, like ποιμαίνειν poimainein, includes the idea of guiding as well as nourishing; doing a shepherd’s work in both.
For want of wisdom - Some prefer, through him who wanteth understanding, referring to a person. The wise guides others to safety; the fool, empty-headed, and empty-hearted, involves others like himself in destruction.
As the fool finds his sport in doing mischief, so the man of understanding finds in wisdom his truest refreshment and delight.
The fear - i. e., The thing feared (compare the marginal reference).
Shall be granted - Or, He (Yahweh) giveth the desire of the righteous.
Or, when the whirlwind is passing, then the wicked is no more. Compare Matthew 7:24-27.
The righteous ... - In the later rabbinic interpretation this was applied to the Messiah as being the Just One, the Everlasting Foundation, on whom the world was established.
The teeth set on edge by the sour wine used by peasants Ruth 2:14; Psalms 69:21, the eye irritated by wood-smoke, these shadow the annoyance of having a messenger who will loiter on the way.
Transpose “hope” and “expectation.” The expectant waiting of the righteous is joyful at the time, and ends in joy: the eager hope of the wicked comes to nought.
Omit “shall be.” The meaning is: “The Way of Yahweh,” i. e., the Divine Order of the world, has its two sides. It is “strength to the upright, destruction to the workers of iniquity.”
The wicked shall rot inhabit - The other and higher side of the same law of the divine government appears in Matthew 5:5.
Bringeth forth ... - As a tree full of life and sap brings forth its fruit. So the “froward tongue” is like a tree that brings forth evil and not good fruit; it “shall be cut down.” The abuse of God’s gift of speech will lead ultimately to its forfeiture. There shall, at last, be the silence of shame and confusion.
Know - i. e., “Know, and therefore utter.” So, in like manner, the “mouth of the wicked” knows, and therefore speaks frowardness, and that only.
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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Proverbs 10". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany