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Bible Commentaries

Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Proverbs 24

Verse 1

A lesson given before, now combined with another. True followers after wisdom will admit neither envy of evil on the one hand, nor admiration or fellowship with it on the other.

Verses 3-4

The “house” is figurative of the whole life, the “chambers” of all regions, inward and outward, of it.

Verse 5

Is strong - literally, as in the margin; i. e., rooted and established in strength.

Verse 7

In the gate - Compare the Proverbs 22:22 note.

Verse 11


“Deliver those that are drawn unto death,

And those who totter to the slaughter - if

Thou withdraw ...”

i. e., “O withdraw them,” save them from their doom; in contrast to Proverbs 24:10. The structure and meaning are both somewhat obscure; but the sentence is complete in itself, and is not a mere hypothesis concluded in the following verses.

Verse 12

As Proverbs 24:11 warned men against acquiescing in an unrighteous tyranny, so this denounces the tendency to hush up a wrong with the false plea of ignorance. Compare Ecclesiastes 5:8. Proverbs 24:10-12 thus forms a complete and connected whole.

Verse 13

Honey entered largely into the diet of Hebrew children Isaiah 7:15, so that it was as natural an emblem for the purest and simplest wisdom, as the “sincere milk of the word” was to the New Testament writers. The learner hears what seems to be a rule of diet - then Proverbs 24:14 the parable is explained.

Verse 14

The knowledge of wisdom - Better, Know that thus (like the honey) is wisdom to thy soul.

Verses 15-16

The teaching of the proverb warns men not to attack or plot against the righteous. They will lose their labor, “Though the just man fall (not into sin, but into calamities), yet he riseth up.” The point of the teaching is not the liability of good men to err, but God’s providential care over them (compare the margin reference). “Seven times” is a certain for an uncertain number (compare Job 5:19). In contrast with this is the fate of the evildoers, who fall utterly even in a single distress.

Verse 18

See the margin. The meaning is “Thy joy will be suicidal, the wrath of the righteous Judge will be turned upon thee, as the greater offender, and thou wilt have to bear a worse evil than that which thou exultest in.”

Verse 20

No reward - literally, “no future,” no life worthy to be called life, no blessing.

Verse 21

Them that are given to change - Those that seek to set aside the worship of the true God, or the authority of the true king, who represents Him.

Verse 22

Both - Those who fear not God, and those who fear not the king.

Verse 23

Belong to the wise - Either “are fitting for the wise, addressed to them,” or (as in the superscriptions of many of the Psalms) “are written by the wise.” Most recent commentators take it in the latter sense, and look on it as indicating the beginning of a fresh section, containing proverbs not ascribed to Solomon’s authorship. Compare the introduction to Proverbs.

Verse 25

There is no surer path to popularity than a righteous severity in punishing guilt.

Verse 26

Better, He shall kiss lips that giveth a right answer, i. e., he shall gain the hearts of men as much as by all outward signs of sympathy and favor. Compare 2 Samuel 15:1-6.

Verse 27

i. e., Get an estate into good order before erecting a house on it. To “build a house” may, however, be equivalent (compare Exodus 1:21; Deuteronomy 25:9; Ruth 4:11) to “founding a family;” and the words a warning against a hasty and imprudent marriage. The young man is taught to cultivate his land before he has to bear the burdens of a family. Further, in a spiritual sense, the “field” may be the man’s outer common work, the “house” the dwelling-place of his higher life. He must do the former faithfully in order to attain the latter. Neglect in one is fatal to the other. Compare Luke 16:10-11.

Verse 28

Deceive not with thy lips - Better, wilt thou deceive with thy lips?

Verse 29

A protest against vindictiveness in every form. Compare marginal reference.

Verse 30

The chapter ends with an apologue, which may be taken as a parable of something yet deeper. The field and the vineyard are more than the man’s earthly possessions. His neglect brings barrenness or desolation to the garden of the soul. The “thorns” are evil habits that choke the good seed, and the “nettles” are those that are actually hurtful and offensive to others. The “wall” is the defense which laws and rules give to the inward life, and which the sluggard learns to disregard, and the “poverty” is the loss of the true riches of the soul, tranquility, and peace, and righteousness.

Verses 33-34

See the Proverbs 6:11 note.

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Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Proverbs 24". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.