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Bible Commentaries
Proverbs 22

Bridges' Commentary on ProverbsBridges' on Proverbs

Verse 1

1 A good name†a is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold. {loving...: or, favour is better than, etc}

BUT what is this good name, here commended as a precious jewel? Not the name, which the Babel-builders would "make to themselves." (Genesis 11:4 .) Not as Absalom, who reared a pillar to "keep his name in remembrance," or rather to commemorate his shame. (2 Samuel 18:18 .) It is not the popular voice. So different is God’s standard from man’s, that to have "all men speak well of us," would be a bad name!†1 So apt are men to "put darkness for light; and light for darkness,"†2 that the reputation too often serves in the place of reality, the false glare for the generous principle, the shadow for the substance, the tinsel for the gold. The good name is gained by godly consistency.†3 The possessor is either unconscious of the gift, or humbled with the conviction, that it is wholly undeserved. The loving favor connected with it is often seen in early childhood.†4 It was the heavenly seal upon the Pentecostal Christians.†5 And every servant of God values it as a trust and talent for his Master’s service and glory.†6

Such is its value, that it is rather to be chosen than great riches, than silver and gold.†7 A bye-word may be attached to riches.†8 Add to which — "They fly away upon eagles’ wings."†9 But the good name "will be in everlasting remembrance."†10 And even now it brings confidence and respect.†11 It largely adds to usefulness; gives authority to reproof, counsel, and example; so that, if the world cannot love, neither can they despise. Hence the Christian obligation to be "blameless, as well as harmless, to shine as lights in the world."†12 Hence the honor of "having a good report of all men, and of the truth itself."†13 Hence the qualification for efficiency in the sacred office — "blameless, having a good report of them which are without."†14 But how often do the "dead flies" spoil "the precious ointment!" (Ecclesiastes 7:1 ; Ecclesiastes 10:1 .) Satan, when he cannot hinder the instruments, will blemish them, to give currency to error, and to stumble the ungodly and unstable. (2 Samuel 12:14 .)

We must not indeed overvalue man’s estimation, much less take it as the standard of our principles, or the motive of our conduct. Yet we must not on the other hand indiscreetly underrate it — ’I never thought’ — said the wise Sir M. Hale — ’that reputation was the thing primarily to be looked after in the exercise of virtue (for that were to affect the substance for the sake of the shadow); but I looked at virtue and the worth of it, as that which was the first desirable, and reputation as a handsome and useful accession to it.’†15

Some however judge — ’So long as my conscience is clear, I care not what the world think or say of me. Other consciences are not my judges.’ Now in resisting the efforts of the world to turn us aside from the path of duty, ’we may seasonably comfort ourselves in our own innocency, fly for refuge against the injuries of tongues into our own consciences, as into a castle; and there repose ourselves in security, disregarding the reproaches of evil men.’†16 But it should be our great care to stop the mouths of gainsayers; and while we count it a "very small matter to be judged of man’s judgment," most anxiously to "provide things honest, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men."†17

Yet precious as this blessing is, take care that it be not purchased at the expense of conscience. Far better that others should blot our name, than that we should wound our consciences. ’Two things there are,’ saith St. Augustine, ’whereof every man should be specially chary and tender — his conscience, and his credit. But that of his conscience must be his first care; this of his name and credit must be content to come in the second place. Let him first be sure to guard his conscience well; and then may he have a due regard of his name also. Let it be his first care to secure all within, by making his peace with God and in his own breast. That done — but not before — let him look abroad if he will, and cast about as well as he can, to strengthen his reputation with and before the world.’†18

But though it be true, that reputation and the affection of others are better than riches; yet must we not forget, that they may be in themselves vanity and a snare. And as seeking them is the infirmity, or rather (when made an idol) the sin of a noble mind, the most severe discipline is needed to preserve Christian simplicity and singleness. But "the honor that cometh from God only" is always safe. And that he should register a good name in the annals of the church,†19 "in the book of remembrance,†20 in the book of life"†21 — Oh! is not this infinitely above all this world’s glory?†22 And how gladly will he own these jewels at the day of his appearing!†23 How sure and glorious is his promise to his faithful servant — "I will not blot out his name out of the book of life; but I will confess his name before my Father and his angels!" (Revelation 3:5 .)

Footnotes:

†a A name - meaning a good name. See Proverbs 18:22, n.

[The "n" above refers to a footnote found in the Text section of Proverbs 18:22 (see below)]

"Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing,† and obtaineth favour of the LORD ,,,"

That footnote reads:

Dr. Kennicott elaborately insists upon supplying the distinctive limitation from the reading of the LXX Vulgate, and some old Chaldee paraphrase. (Second Dissertation on the Hebrew Text, pp. 189-192.) But, the general term, frequently used by the wise man for the obvious limitation, sufficiently explains his meaning, Proverbs 15:10 ; Proverbs 16:10 ; Proverbs 22:1 ; Proverbs 29:4 . Ecclesiastes 7:28 . The LXX adds — ’He that casteth out a wife, casteth out good things: but he that retaineth a strange woman is foolish and ungodly.’

†1 Luke 6:26; Luke 16:15 .

†2 Isaiah 5:20.

†3 Heathen intelligence seemed to have some glimpse of this medium. Agesilaus - being asked how a good name was to be obtained - replied - ’By speaking the best, and doing the most upright, things.’ Socrates to the same question answered - ’By studying really to be what you wish to be accounted.’

†4 1 Samuel 2:26 . Luke 2:52 .

†5 Acts 2:47.

†6 Nehemiah 1:10-11. Philippians 2:15-16 ; Philippians 4:8-9 .

†7 Compare Sirach 41:12 . Sirach 41:15 (Note for e-Sword users: the verse to which Mr. Bridges refers is verse 12 in some translations, and verse 15 in others. Thus both are listed.)

†8 1 Samuel 25:3, 1 Samuel 25:17, 1 Samuel 25:25 .

†9 Proverbs 23:5.

†10 Luke 7:4-5. Acts 9:36-39 .

†11 Genesis 39:4, Genesis 39:21 ; Genesis 41:37 . Daniel 2:48-49 ; Daniel 6:1-3 .

†12 Philippians 2:15.

†13 3 John 1:12 . Acts 16:2 . 2 Corinthians 8:18 .

†14 1 Timothy 3:2, 1 Timothy 3:7 ; 1 Timothy 4:16 .

†15 The account of the Good Steward.

†16 Bp. Sanderson’s Sermon on Ecclesiastes 7:1, § (section) 30.

†17 1 Corinthians 4:3, with 2 Corinthians 8:21 . Compare 1 Corinthians 9:15 ; 2 Corinthians 11:12 ; 1 Peter 2:12 .

†18 Bp. Sanderson, ut supra, § (section) 23.

†19 Matthew 26:13.

†20 Malachi 3:16.

†21 Philippians 4:3.

†22 Luke 10:20.

†23 Malachi 3:17.

Verse 2

There is great diversity in the several stations and circumstances of mankind. Yet the difference is mainly superficial, and the equality in all important matters manifest. The rich and the poor, apparently so remote from each other, meet together. All have the same birth.†1 All enter the world naked,†2 helpless, unconscious beings; all stand in the same natural relation to their God; dependent on him for their birth;†3 the children of his Providence;†4 the creatures of his moral government.†5 All are subject to the same sorrow, sickness, infirmities, and temptations.†6 At the gate of the invisible world the distinction of riches and poverty is dropped. "All go to one place"†7 — alike having kindred with worms and corruption. And when they shall come forth from the long home at the final consummation, all — "small as well as great — shall stand before God." (Revelation 20:12 .)

We meet together also on the same level as sinners. All are tainted with the same original corruption.†8 "All, like sheep, have" personally "gone astray." (Isaiah 53:6 .) All need alike the same new birth to give them life, the same precious blood to cleanse them, the same robe of righteousness to cover them. (Romans 3:21-22 .) It is in fact a common need,†9 and a common salvation. (Judges 1:3 .) In all these matters the rich and the poor are as one. "God is no respecter of persons."†10 The difference appears only as the outward garment.†11 Yet what a distance it makes! The one scarcely hears of or knows the other!

And when redeemed into the family of God, is not every member of the family our brother?†12 Here then rich and poor meet on equal standing at the same throne of grace, in the same spiritual body,†13 at the same holy table.†14 We communicate to each other the same blessed hopes, feel the same sympathies, and anticipate the same home.

Nor is this a constitution of accident, or of mechanical arrangement. The LORD is the maker of them all. Not only does he make us as men; but he makes us rich and poor. (1 Samuel 2:7 .) Adored be that divine arrangement, that has knit the rich and the poor together so closely in mutual dependence, that neither can live without the other (Ecclesiastes 5:9 ); neither can say to the other, "I have no need of thee." (1 Corinthians 12:21 .) The lower rank may be the feet and the hands, which work out the purposes of the mind. The higher may be the head, the seat of counsel, absolutely necessary for the direction and preservation of the social system. Truly indeed — in contemplating the balance, by which perfect order is educed from the selfish passions of men, we must acknowledge of the moral, no less than the natural, system — "In wisdom hast thou made them all." (Psalms 104:24 .)

Yet this Christian equality before God does not annihilate the gradation of rank before men. "The servants under the yoke must not despise their believing masters, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved." (1 Timothy 6:2 .) In equality of rank, could men continue for a single day? Difference of mind and talents, industry, self-denial, Providences, would shake the balance before the morning was gone. God never meant to level the world, any more, than the surface of the earth. The distinction of rich and poor still remains in his appointment, and all attempts to sink it must end in confusion. To each of us are committed our several talents, duties, and responsibilities both to God and man. Let each of us therefore be given to our own work, and "abide in our calling with God." (1 Corinthians 7:24 .) "Let the brother of low degree rejoice, in that he is exalted; but the rich, in that he is made low." (James 1:9-10 .) Soon shall we all be one family in our Father’s house — to "go out no more." (Revelation 3:12 .)

Footnotes:

†1 Job 31:15. Malachi 2:10 . Acts 17:26 .

†2 Job 1:21. Ecclesiastes 5:15 .

†3 Job 12:10. Acts 17:25, Acts 17:28 .

†4 Psalms 145:9, Psalms 145:15-16.

†5 Daniel 4:35.

†6 Hebrews 13:3.

†7 Job 3:19. Psalms 89:48 . Ecclesiastes 2:16 ; Ecclesiastes 3:20 ; Ecclesiastes 6:6 ; Ecclesiastes 9:11 . Hebrews 9:27 .

†8 Genesis 5:3. Job 25:4 . Psalms 51:5 .

†9 In the ordinance of redemption all were to give alike, as an acknowledgment of equal need. Exodus 30:15 .

†10 Acts 10:34. Job 34:19 .

†11 Luke 16:19-20.

†12 Galatians 3:28. Colossians 3:11 .

†13 See this implied in the rebuke, James 2:2-5 .

†14 1 Corinthians 10:17 ; 1 Corinthians 12:13 .

Verse 3

3 A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished.†a

It is a great part of wisdom to see what God is doing, or about to do. When evil is come, most men can see it. But the prudent foreseeth it. Not that God hath given to us the knowledge of futurity. This would only have encouraged presumption. But he has given us prudence, naturally foreseeing evil, and forecasting the most effectual means of deliverance. David was thus directed to hide himself from Saul;†1 Elijah from Jezebel.†2 The disciples were taught to flee from impending evil.†3 Paul repeatedly hid himself from threatened destruction.†4 Even our Divine Master acted on this rule of prudence,†5 till his hour was come. (Matthew 26:46 .)

But to apply it to spiritual evils foreseen — "Noah, moved with fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his house." (Hebrews 11:7 .) Josiah endeavored to ward off the threatened judgment by humiliation before God. (2 Chronicles 34:21 .) Paul "labored" for the covering of present acceptance, foreseeing the tremendous evil of "appearing" unsheltered "before the judgment-seat of Christ." (2 Corinthians 5:9-10 .)

Not that the prudent man is gifted with supernatural knowledge. He only uses the discernment which God hath given him. He regards the signs of the times. He studies the word of God in reference to coming judgments; and he acts accordingly. To walk carelessly in the midst of evil, is reckless folly. We stand "not by faith" only, but "by faith" balanced with fear (Romans 11:20 ); yet not the fear of bondage and scrupulosity, but of care, watchfulness, and diligence. (Hebrews 4:1, Hebrews 4:11 .) Guilty, wandering, tempted, afflicted, dying as we are, common — at least Christian — prudence, shews us our need of an hiding-place. Except we seek one in time, we are lost for eternity. Did we but realize the huge mass of guilt lying upon us, and the infinite wrath that for that guilt hangs over us, could we rest in an unsheltered state? Should not we tread upon all that lies in our way to run to shelter? Coming judgments there may be. But let us set our face towards our hiding-place. God will undertake for our danger. His own most loving voice points us to a shelter in the chamber of his own perfections.†6

Very different is the course of the simple. (Proverbs 14:15-16 .) Devoid of all prudence; foreseeing no evil; fearing none; given up to their own ways, and reckless of all consequences, they pass on, and are punished by their own folly. (Proverbs 7:7, Proverbs 7:22-23 .) Oh! many such are there, who "when the LORD’s hand is lifted up, will not see" (Isaiah 26:11 ); who will not hear the distant thunder, betokening the approaching storm; who in their fancied security laugh at those, who are preparing for an evil day; laugh even on the brink of that destruction, which, unless Sovereign grace interpose, will make them wise too late.

Footnotes:

†a Proverbs 27:12 .

†1 1 Samuel 20:19 ; 1 Samuel 23:19-21 ; 1 Samuel 26:1 .

†2 1 Kings 17:3 ; 1 Kings 19:3 .

†3 Matthew 10:23; Matthew 24:15-18.

†4 Acts 9:23-25; Acts 17:14 ; Acts 23:17 .

†5 Mark 3:6-7. Luke 4:29-30 . John 8:59 ; John 10:39 .

†6 Isaiah 26:20. ’It is nature which teaches a wise man in fear to hide himself. But grace and faith doth teach him where. Where should the frighted child hide his head, but in the bosom of his loving Father? Where a Christian, but under the shadow of the wings of Christ his Savior?’ Hooker’s Remedy against Fear.

Verse 4

Who then will say — "It is vain to serve God"? (Malachi 3:14 .) Riches, honor, and life to enjoy them — all this accumulation and completeness of happiness belong to his service. But observe the two marks of his ways, humility and the fear of the LORD. Humility is not the mere meekness of modestly. (1 Samuel 10:22 .) This, though a lovely temper, is not a Christian grace. Nor is it the servility of the hypocrite for his own selfish ends;†1 or the temporary conviction of external humiliation.†2 We may easily distinguish the genuine principle by its accompaniment — the fear of the LORD — that blessed holy reverence, which none but his children feel, and which, while it represses presumption, establishes humility. A just apprehension of God will always lay us in the lowest dust before him. The contrasted sight of his majesty with our meanness, of his holiness with our defilement, constrained the cry from one — "Behold! I am vile; I abhor myself"†3 — from another — "Woe is me, for I am undone!"†4 Then humility is the truest glory. The most humble is the most triumphant Christian. Depressed indeed he may be; yet is he highly exalted. Riches are his, both of grace and of glory. None can deprive him of them.†5 Honor is his — the true fruit,†6 the gracious reward,†7 of humility — high and glorious; the title and present privilege of a child of God, "as heir of God, and joint-heir with Christ."†8 Life is his†9 — lives, every kind of life, not natural only, but spiritual and eternal; life with the Father and the Son, now "hid with Christ in God; and when Christ, who is our life, shall appear," then to be manifested in all its fullness of everlasting joy. (Colossians 3:3-4 .) Shall we look then beyond the narrow limit of time, and search what is the character of the heirs of glory? He "will beautify the meek with salvation." "Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of God."†10 How glorious is the end of this lowly path of humility and godly fear!

Footnotes:

†1 2 Samuel 15:5 .

†2 1 Kings 21:27 .

†3 Job 40:4; Job 43:5-6 .

†4 Isaiah 6:5.

†5 Proverbs 8:18.

†6 Proverbs 15:33; Proverbs 18:12 .

†7 Luke 18:13-14.

†8 Romans 8:17.

†9 Proverbs 19:23. Psalms 22:26 . Compare Sirach 1:11-12, Sirach 1:18 ; Sirach 2:8-9 ; Sirach 40:26-27 .

†10 Psalm 149:4; Matthew 5:3 .

Verse 5

A forcible image to shew, that nothing stands so much in a man’s way, as the indulgence of his own unbridled will. The man, who is most perversely bent on his purposes, is most likely to be thwarted in them. ’He thinks to carry all before him; whereas his frowardness makes thorns and snares for his way.†1 He is a man on all sides encompassed with thorns and snares. His stubbornness brings him into infinite perplexities, out of which he can find no issue.’†2 Sarah,†3 Jacob,†4 Balaam,†5 found the way of the froward full of hindrance and entanglement. A special mercy is it, when the thorns embitter the way, and bring the froward sinner as an humbled child, asking and seeking the road to his Father’s house. (Luke 15:12-20 .) If there be difficulties in the ways of God, are there none in the ways of sin? A fair balance would prove, which yoke, which burden, is the more "easy and light." The sting of conscience; the rebukes of Providence; the disappointment of cherished desires, the tyranny of lust — all tend to make "the way of transgressors to be hard." (Proverbs 13:15 .) Nay — not the world only, but even the holy Gospel, is made a snare in the way of the froward. Such are "the depths and devices of Satan"†6 that they "turn the grace of God into lasciviousness," and the occasion or excuse of sin.†7

Our happiness and security therefore lie in an humble submission to the Lord; desiring nothing so much as conformity to his will; dreading nothing so much as being left to our own waywardness. Thus keeping our soul, we shall be far from the thorn and snare of the froward; we shall "make straight" and safe, if not smooth, "paths for our feet," and "all our ways shall be established."†8 "He that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not." (1 John 5:18 .)

Footnotes:

†1 Jeremiah 23:12-13. Judges 2:2-3 .

†2 Bp. Hall.

†3 Genesis 12:10, Genesis 12:20 ; Genesis 16:1-6 ; Genesis 20:2-14 .

†4 Genesis 27:1-46

†5 Numbers 22:22-32.

†6 Revelation 2:24; 2 Corinthians 2:11 ; 2 Corinthians 11:14 .

†7 Romans 3:8; Romans 6:1 . Judges 1:4 .

†8 Hebrews 12:13. Proverbs 4:26 .

Verse 6

6 Train up†a a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. {Train...: or, Catechise} {in...: Heb. in his way}

The hopes of at least two generations hang upon this most important rule. How can we look on a child without thoughtful anxiety? An existence is commenced for eternity. No power of earth or hell can crush it. The whole universe does not afford an object of deeper interest. It is an "arrow in the hand of a mighty man;" a most powerful instrument of good or evil, according to the direction that is given to it. (Psalms 127:4 .)

Everything hangs on his training. Two ways lie before him — the way in which he would go, headlong to ruin; and the way in which he should go, the pathway to heaven. The rule for training implies obliquity. A young and healthy tree shoots straight upwards, and, instead of putting forth crooked and deformed branches, gives promise of a fine and fruitful maturity.

But all training, save on the principles of the Bible, must be injurious. To expand, without soundly enlightening, the mind, is but to increase its power for evil. Far better to consign it to total ignorance, inasmuch as the uninstructed savage is less responsible, less dangerous, than the well-furnished infidel.

Yet the religious training must not be the border of the garment, which might easily be cut off. It must be the pervading substance throughout. Begin, as Hannah did, with the dedication of the child to God. (1 Samuel 1:28 .) This done — train him as God’s child, entrusted to your care. Ask guidance from day to day — "How shall we order the child, and how shall we do unto him?" (Judges 13:12 .) Train him, as a baptized child, in the principles of his baptismal engagements. Pray for him. Teach him to pray. Instruct him "from a child in the Holy Scriptures," as the sole rule of faith, and directory of conduct.†1

Indeed, unless you give a child principles, you leave him utterly helpless. And yet too often parents have no established principles of education themselves. The children are theirs. Something therefore must be done for their training for future life. But ignorant as they are of their moral state, and of their besetting evils, they are utterly unable to apply any effectual discipline. The child therefore becomes the victim of his parent’s ignorance. His education in all its important departments is neglected. The impulse of caprice gives the only direction, and in this atmosphere of confusion parental authority soon fails to control the far mightier influence of passion.

Certainly, admitting the divine inspiration of the Scriptures, nothing can be more ruinous than to thrust them out of their place, as the sum and substance of educational principles. Never was Scriptural training more momentous. From a defect here many young persons are tossed to and fro in every vacillation of error; and the anxious attempt to set them right we find to be ’building where there is no foundation, or rather, where there is not so much as ground to build upon.’†2 In fact, the mind, abhorring a vacuum, must have some notions. And the alternative is not between sound principles and none; but between wholesome truth and those crude or poisonous errors, which the subtle enemy is ever ready to inject, and the corrupt heart equally prepared to receive. Nor let the formation of sound practical habits, diligence, industry, and self-government, be forgotten. Let the child be trained, like the soldier under arms, to endurance, order, and subjection.

But we must not forget the distinct track of the educational training — the way in which the child should, not that in which he would, go. Heaven and hell are not more opposite than these two ways. Indeed they are identified with the narrow and broad way, in one of which every child of Adam is walking. The child’s will revolting from God is the certain way to ruin. The way back to God, marked out in the Bible, is consecrated by his blessing, and is the sure way to heaven. Wisely does Solomon direct us to begin at the mouth or entrance of his way,†3 — at the first opening intelligence. The more early the training, the more easy the work, and the more encouraging the results. Our character largely takes the form of that mold into which our early years were cast. Much in after-life, both good and evil, may be traced back to the seed sown in the days of infancy. It is a matter of experience, that what is early learnt, is most tenaciously retained. It stands the friction of time with the least injury. Far better, instead of waiting for the maturity of reason, to work upon the pliability of childhood.†4 The gardener begins to graft in the first rising of the sap. If the crooked shoots of self-will and disobedience are not cut off, their rapid growth and rapidly growing strength will greatly increase the future difficulty of bending them. Present neglect occasions after risk and perplexity. We may begin our work too late, but we can scarcely begin it too soon.†5 If the child be too young to teach to read, he cannot be too young to teach to obey. Never let the watchfulness to check the buddings of evil, and to cherish the first tenderness of right feeling, be relaxed. The ceaseless activity of the great enemy teaches the value of early training. Be beforehand with him. Pre-occupy the ground with good seed, as the most effectual exclusion of his evil tares. (Matthew 13:25-28 .) Be at the mouth of the way with wholesome food, ere he has the opportunity of pouring in his "bread of deceit;" ere nature is hardened by the habits of sin, or brutalized by familiarity with vice.

But this training must be practical. The mere talk to a child about religion, without bringing it to bear upon his loose habits, and self-willed tempers, is utterly ineffective. None of us liveth to himself alone. We are all spreading around us an influence, whether for good or for evil. Here therefore in our families lies the responsibility of Christian consistency. If the child hears of godliness, and sees but wickedness, this is bringing him bread with one hand, and poison with the other; ’beckoning him with the hand to heaven, and at the same time taking him by the hand, and leading him in the way to destruction.’†6 Who would receive even the choicest food from a leprous hand? Neglect is far better than inconsistency; forgetfulness, than contempt of principle. A child learns more by the eye than by the ear. Imitation is a far more powerful principle than memory. A well-trained child gladly looks to his parent’s godliness as his model picture, to copy after. A wayward child eagerly seeks for the excuse of his own delinquency, and this discovery in parental example will harden him in infidelity and ungodliness.

This training is indeed a work of watchful anxiety, attended with painful, and often long-protracted, exercise of faith and patience. Who could hold on in it, but for the Divine support of the parental promise — When he is old, he shall not depart from it? The man will be, as the child is trained. Education is utterly distinct from grace. But, when conducted in the spirit, and on the principles, of the Word of God, it is a means of imparting it. Sometimes the fruit is immediate, uniform, and permanent to the end.†7 But often "the bread cast upon the waters of the covenant is found," not till "after many days" (Ecclesiastes 11:1 ); perhaps not till the godly parent has been laid in the grave.†8 Yet the fruit, though late, will not be the less sure. (Habakkuk 2:3 .) The child may depart when he is young. But when he is old — in after years, smothered convictions will bring back the power of early impressions. The seeds of instruction will burst forth into life.†9 He will find it "hard" in a course of sin "to kick against the pricks." (Acts 9:5 .) The Scriptures, fastened on his memory, will force themselves upon him with many a sharp and painful struggle. Conscience will disturb his pleasures, and embitter the sweetness, which he had found, or fancied that he had found, in his sins. The remembrance of his father’s house brings the prodigal "to himself," and he comes home with shame in his face, tears in his eyes, and godly sorrow in his heart. (Luke 15:17-20 .)

If then the promise is not fulfilled, it is because the duty is not performed. Never does God give a command, but he will give his sincere servant grace to obey it. The duty is not therefore to lie down in despondency, or even in heartless prayer, but to "go forward" (Exodus 14:15 ) in painful obedience. With such a plain promise — the promise of "him who cannot lie, or repent," and who will be true to every tittle of his word (Numbers 23:19 ) — need we ever be cast down? — "Is anything too hard for the LORD?" (Genesis 18:14 .) Cultivate then the exercise of parental faith; trusting, not to what we see, but to what God has engaged; like our father Abraham, "against hope, believing in hope." (Romans 4:18-20 .) Expect the fulfillment of the parental promise, as confidently as any other free promise of the gospel.†10 Exercise faith in the full energy of Christian diligence, and in the patience of Christian hope. Leave God to accomplish his own gracious will. If his Sovereignty reserves the time and means to himself, his faithfulness secures the promise to us, which is, and ever must be — "Yea, and Amen" — "I will be a God to thee, and to thy seed after thee. I will pour out my Spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring."†11

This is the reward of faith to those, who make the salvation of the soul the primary object of education. But the mass of mankind deal with their children, as if they were born only for the world, with nothing to look to after death. Wholly leaving out the mighty question — the great end of life — ’How this or that matter affects their soul’ — the only thought is — ’Must they not be like others, to make their way in the world?’ Thus they fearlessly bring them into contact with the evil around them, set their feet in the "broad road of destruction," and bid them go on with the rest. In all important matters they educate them consistently for time, not for eternity. They concentrate their grand interest on matters, in which the soul has no concern; accomplishments or scholarship, not godliness; refinement of taste and manners, not soundness of faith. Need we say, that this is an education without God, without his promise, without rest? The parents of such children, and the children of such parents, are alike objects of compassion. Eternity will bring a solemn account to both.

Footnotes:

†a All commentators by their different versions admit the significance of the original term. Imbue - Schultens, Geier - ’Give it the first dip, die, seasoning.’ Initia - Begin the first instruction - Lay the groundwork - the first stone. Instrue - This is substantially the marg. catechize - like Abraham’s servants - instructed (catechized, marg.) alike in the art of war and in the fear of God. Genesis 14:14 ; 18:19. The word elsewhere conveys the idea of dedication to the service of God. (Compare Deuteronomy 20:5 ; 1 Kings 8:63 ; 2 Chronicles 7:5 ; title to Psalm 30 [1 ¶ A Psalm; a Song at the Dedication of the House. A Psalm of David.].) In this view a judicious expositor illustrates it - ’As a house, altar, or temple, newly built, and not yet profaned, is fitted by certain rites and sacrifices for its future use; so a child, as a newly-formed edifice, is fitted by a certain course for the service and the church, and his heart is made meet as an habitation of God, and the temple of the Holy Ghost.’ - Geier.

†1 2 Timothy 3:15 . Compare the wise man’s own training, Proverbs 4:3-4 .

†2 South’s Sermon on the text, vol. i.

†3 Heb. See Schultens and the general voice of critics.

†4 Mr. Locke does not hesitate to affirm, ’that of all the men we meet with, nine parts out of ten are what they are, good or bad, useful or not, according to their education.’ Thoughts concerning Education. The heathen moralists seem well to have understood the subject. Horace, after alluding to the early discipline of the colt and the hound, applies it -

-- Nunc adbibe puro

Pectore verba, puer; nunc te melioribus offer.

Quo semel est imbuta recens, servabit odorem

Testa diu. - Epist. lib. i. ii. 67-70.

’-- Adeo in teneris consuescere multum est.’ - Virg. Georg. ii. 272.

’Udum et molle lutum es; nunc, nunc, properandus, et acri

Fingendus sine fine rotâ.’ - Persius, Sat. iii. 23, 24.

†5 Ecclesiastes 11:6. Isaiah 28:9-10 . Lamentations 3:27 .

†6 Abp. Tillotson’s Sermon on Education.

†7 1 Samuel 1:28 ; 1 Samuel 3:20 ; 1 Samuel 12:2-3 . Psalms 92:13-15 .

†8 2 Chronicles 33:11-13 . ’It is no small mercy,’ said Mr. Flavel, alluding to this case, ’to have thousands of fervent prayers lying before the Lord, filed up in heaven for us.’ - Fountain of Life, Sermon xx.

†9 Timothy was instructed as a child, but not converted till adult age. Compare 2 Timothy 3:15, with 1 Timothy 1:2 .

†10 Such as John 6:37 - couched in the same grammatical terms - a promise connected with a duty, as the encouragement to the duty - "Him that cometh - he that traineth; - no wise cast out - will not depart." Yet the latter is often considered a general promise, admitting of various and indefinite exceptions. The other is "Yea and Amen." But we might ask - How can we loosen the ground of one promise, without shaking the foundation of all? And do not admitted exceptions in the educational promise give occasion to many an exercised Christian to find his own exception in the Gospel promise? We fully concede, that here the ground is more clear to the exercise of faith. We have the demonstrable certainty of the work of the Son, the faithfulness of the Father, and the agency of the Spirit, drawing the "given to come" - the compact of the Eternal Three unchangeably fulfilled. In this parental promise the manifestly imperfect training of the parent, and the wanton rebellion of the child, clouds the ground of faith to our vision. But this touches only the apprehension of the ground, not the ground itself. If the performance of the parent’s duty in the one promise were as certain, as the work of God in the other, would not the assurance of the promise in both cases be equally firm? We cannot indeed anticipate an universal fulfillment of the promise. Yet, as believers in the inspiration of Scripture, we are bound implicitly to receive it. Is it not far safer and more satisfactory to take all the promises of the Bible upon the same ground? The cases that appear to contravene the educational promise may be fairly explained. The promise is not falsified, but the Lord’s time of fulfillment is not yet come. Or - has not some important element of education been omitted? Has not some disproportion of one or other part of the system hindered the efficiency of the whole? Have instruction and discipline been always accompanied with prayer and faith? Or has prayer been always confirmed by consistent practice? Do not man’s indolence, self-indulgence, unbelief, unfaithfulness to the conditions implied, wither the blessing? While Abraham, training up his family for God, shall find him "faithful that hath promised" (Genesis 18:19, with Hebrews 10:23 ) the Elis and the Davids - good men, but bad parents - (1 Samuel 3:13 ; 1 Kings 1:6 ) shall know "God’s breach of promise." (Numbers 14:34 .) It is too deep for man to reconcile the absolute election of God with weak, imperfect, unfaithful fulfillment of duty. Nevertheless in all cases - "Let God be true, and every man a liar." (Romans 3:4 .)

†11 2 Corinthians 1:20 . Genesis 17:7 . Isaiah 44:3-5 .

Verse 7

"The rich and the poor meet together" (Proverbs 22:2 ) for mutual sympathy and helpfulness; yet God has appointed one to rule, and the other to submit. And this gradation of rank in all its forms, involves distinct obligations to be carefully sought out and followed. Subjection, on the one hand, is cheerfully acknowledged as God’s own ordinance; while the sense of responsibility is enlarged on the other. The rule applies to all the domestic relations between dependants and superiors. Yet let it be the rule of order, not of pride, caprice, or selfishness. And especially, when exercised over young persons of refined minds and education, let dependence be soothed by "the law of kindness," elevating them to a rank far above the menials of the house. The golden rule of love will diffuse Christian happiness without disorder or compromise of obligation.

Too often, however, it is a rule of harshness.†1 And indeed, without a practical submission to God’s rule over us, we can scarcely be trusted with power over our fellow-men. Such obligations as that of the borrower to the lender, often force the dependant to a servile bondage. Man becomes an alien to his brother; the victim of his gratification, not the object of his sympathy.†2

Very important is it to maintain an independence of mind, quite distinct from pride, which elevates the mind far above doing or conniving at evil, for the sake of pleasing a patron. Many have been forced to great entanglement of conscience, perhaps to vote contrary to their conscience, rather than lose the great man’s smile. Often also the influence of capital is an iron rule of the rich over the poor. Many, who profess to resist conscientiously state-interference, have little regard for the consciences of their dependants. The monied master exercises a control over his workmen, which shews too plainly his purpose to make them the creatures of his own will. This gigantic tyranny should be denounced with the most solemn protest.

The true Christian line is to shun that proud independence, which scorns the kindly offer of needful help; but at the same time to avoid all needless obligations. ’Sell not your liberty to gratify your luxury.’†3 If possible, "own no man anything but love." (Romans 13:8 .) ’Guard against that poverty, which is the result of carelessness or extravagance. Pray earnestly, labor diligently. Should you come to poverty by the misfortune of the times, submit to your lot humbly; bear it patiently; cast yourself in child-like dependence upon your God.’†4

Footnotes:

†1 Proverbs 18:23. Amos 2:6 ; Amos 4:1 ; Amos 5:11-12 ; Amos 8:4-6 . James 2:6 ; James 5:4 . Compare Sirach 13:19 .

†2 2 Kings 4:1 . Nehemiah 5:3-5 . Matthew 18:25-29 . Compare the blessing, Deuteronomy 15:6 ; Deuteronomy 28:12 .

†3 Henry in loco.

†4 Geier in loco.

Verse 8

Scripture often gives the practical illustration of the seed-time and harvest.†1 They are linked together in the spiritual, not less than in the natural, world. The harvest is according to the seed. (Galatians 6:7-8 .) Such is the transcendent dignity and worth of the soul, that eternity is stamped upon all its actions. Every thought, every principle (is not this a solemn recollection?) is a seed for eternity, issuing in an harvest of eternal joy, or "desperate sorrow." The wise man here adverts to the latter harvest. All experience and observation testify to the fact, that the diligence of the ungodly sower can only end in vanity, in utter and eternal disappointment. (Job 4:8 . Romans 6:21 .)

The connection,†2 however, of the two clauses of the Proverb may intimate, that the iron rod of the rich ruling over the poor, following the dictates of selfishness, will ensure disappointment. Their abused power will shortly fail, and they will reap only the harvest of their injustice. Often may oppressors prosper for a time. God may use them as his chastening rod. But the seed-time of iniquity will end in the harvest of vanity; and when they have done their work, the rod of their anger shall fail. Such was Sennacherib in olden time,†3 such was Napoleon in our own day. Never has the world seen so extensive a sower of iniquity, never a more abundant harvest of vanity. The rod of anger was he to the nations of the earth. But how utterly was the rod suffered to fail, when the purpose was accomplished! despoiled of empire, shorn of greatness, an exiled captive. Such is not the harvest from God’s seed! "A sure reward" (Proverbs 11:18 ), not of vanity, but of substantial, everlasting joy. (Psalms 126:5-6 .) Here let us "sow bountifully, that we may reap also bountifully." (2 Corinthians 9:6, 2 Corinthians 9:9 .)

Footnotes:

†1 Psalms 126:5-6. Hosea 10:12 . Matthew 13:3, Matthew 13:24-30 .

†2 Proverbs 22:7.

†3 Isaiah 10:5-12, Isaiah 10:24-25 ; Isaiah 30:31 . Zechariah 10:11 .

Verse 9

The heart often looks out at the eye.†1 The bountiful or good eye is contrasted with "the evil eye."†2 This man can look with indifference on distress,†3 satisfy himself with the heartless expression of good-will,†4 and find many reasons for withholding his charity. But the man of a good eye delighteth in contriving acts of kindness. (Isaiah 32:8 .) He not only relieves what is brought before him, but he looks out for objects, and looks pleasantly on them. Nehemiah, instead of using his ample power for his own aggrandizement, spent his substance in feeding the people at his own table, giving of his bread to the poor. (Nehemiah 5:16-18 .) His great work required a large heart. And such a heart God had given him. Ever remember — Christian — that God’s standard is sacrifice, not convenience; giving of our bread; letting the poor share with ourselves. (Job 31:17 .) Nor must it be wrung from us by importunity. "God loveth a cheerful giver."†5 His "charge is, that we be ready to distribute, willing to communicate." (1 Timothy 6:17-18 .) This is his own pattern of bountifulness, "He openeth his hand, and satisfieth the desire of every living thing." (Psalms 145:16 .) We are only the stewards of his bounty. Of our property, be it little or much, we must be ready to feel of that, as of ourselves†6 — It is ’not our own.’ But, let the motive be higher than the mere gratification of kindly feelings. Cherish carefully godly simplicity. "Let your light shine before men for your Father’s glory," not for your own.†7

This bountifulness is a privilege, which earth possesses above heaven. Many a rich blessing is sealed to it.†8 ’Beneficence is the most exquisite luxury; and the good man is the genuine epicure.’†9 He "hath a continual feast," because his objects are always before him. Man will bless him according to his ability;†10 and when "they cannot recompense thee, thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just;"†11 when ’one good work done for God will be seen’ — as Luther says — ’to shew more glory than the whole frame of heaven and earth.’ It is the working of his grace, the following of his pattern, the reflection of his image, the "shewing forth of his virtue." (1 Peter 2:9, margin = {praises: or, virtues})

Footnotes:

†1 Luke 10:33-35.

†2 Proverbs 23:6. Deuteronomy 15:9 ; Deuteronomy 28:54, Deuteronomy 28:56 . Matthew 20:15 .

†3 1 Samuel 25:3, 1 Samuel 25:10-11 . Luke 10:31-32 ; Luke 16:19-21 .

†4 James 2:15-16.

†5 2 Corinthians 9:6 . Deuteronomy 15:10 .

†6 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 .

†7 Matthew 5:16, with Matthew 6:1-3 ; Matthew 25:34-40 . It is stated of a munificent Christian, that he strictly forbade the recipients of his bounty to return thanks. Probably the knowledge of his own heart suggested this prohibition.

†8 Deuteronomy 15:10. Isaiah 58:10-11 . Matthew 5:7 . Compare Sirach 31:23-24 .

†9 Bishop Horne’s Sermon on Psalms 41:1 .

†10 Job 29:11-13; Job 31:16-29 .

†11 Psalms 41:1-2. Luke 14:14 . 1 Timothy 6:19 .

Verse 10

This is a word to rulers. The scorner is a firebrand of contention in the church. (3 John 1:10 .) He must be restrained.†1 If restraint be ineffectual, he must, if possible, be cast out.†2 If "his seat" be allowed in the family,†3 strife and reproach must be the issue. A jeer or biting taunt is more provoking than a blow. If therefore "peace is to the house," and "the love of peace is to abide there,"†4 — cast out the scorner, and the contention will cease.†5 He must not be argued with.†6 We must keep no terms with him. We must meet him with bold and open rebuke, lest his influence should overthrow the faith of the simple.†7 If God "scorneth the scorner,"†8 what less can we do, than banish him from our society?†9 Yet if we cast him out, cast him not off. Pray for him. Remember "such were some of you." (1 Corinthians 6:11 .) While we abhor the sin, pity the sinner.

But what if we should not be able to cast him out? He may be a husband or a child. At least give a protest. Shew that you stand not on the same ground. Turn away from his scorning. This will mortify, if not silence. Turn from him to your God.†10 This will bring peace. Dwell with him sighing, as David in Mesech.†11 One greater than David teaches us by his example. Honor your Divine Master by "enduring," as he did, year after year, "the contradiction of sinners." (Hebrews 12:3 .) And who knoweth, but this meek and silent endurance, with a loving, bleeding heart, may have power to cast out the scorning, and to mold the scorner into the lowliness of the cross? Then who would be a more welcome member of the church or of the family? Strife and reproach would cease in both, should the persecutor of the faith become a monument of grace (1 Timothy 1:13-16 ), a shining witness to the truth. (Galatians 1:23-24 .)

Footnotes:

†1 2 Timothy 3:8-9 .

†2 1 Timothy 1:20 . Titus 3:10-11 .

†3 Psalms 1:1.

†4 Luke 10:5-6.

†5 Genesis 21:9-10. Compare Proverbs 15:18 ; Proverbs 16:28 .

†6 Proverbs 26:4. 2 Kings 18:36 .

†7 2 Timothy 3:1-7 .

†8 Proverbs 3:34.

†9 Psalms 119:115. Compare Nehemiah 13:28 .

†10 Psalms 35:21-24; Psalms 69:11-13 .

†11 Psalms 120:5-7.

Verse 11

Pureness of heart describes not the natural, but the renewed, man. It is no external varnish, no affectation of holiness; but sincerity, humility, shrinking from sin, conformity to the image of God. He who hath fully attained this pureness is before the throne of God. He who loveth it is the child of God on earth. His perfection is desire, constant progress, pressing towards the mark. (Philippians 3:12-15 .) When the fountain is cleansed, it sendeth forth sweet waters. When "the tree is made good, the fruit will be good." "Of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." (Matthew 12:33-34 .)

Pureness of heart sheds such refinement over the whole character, and pours such grace upon the lips, as attracts the admiration of those, who do not understand its source, and cannot appreciate its principle. (Proverbs 31:10, Proverbs 31:26 .) Such was the grace upon the lips of the holy Savior, that "the multitude hung upon them, wondering at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth."†1 The moral influence also of this purity of character is to put impurity to shame.

Solomon doubtless spoke his own determination, that the king should be the friend of the gracious servant. This had been his father’s resolution.†2 This character smoothed the way to royal favor for Joseph,†3 for Ezra,†4 and Daniel.†5 Nay — we find godly Obadiah in the confidence of wicked Ahab.†6 So powerful is the voice of conscience, even when God and holiness are hated! Yet this choice of the gracious lips is to often rather what ought to be, than what is.†7 Well is it for the kingdom, when the sovereign’s choice is according to this rule.†8 Such alone the great King marks as his friends. Such he embraces with his fatherly love.†9 Such he welcomes into his heavenly kingdom.†10 "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." (Matthew 5:8 .)

Footnotes:

†1 Psalms 19:2, Psalms 19:7 . Luke 19:48 ; Luke 4:22 .

†2 Psalms 101:6; Psalms 119:63 .

†3 Genesis 41:37-45.

†4 Ezra 7:6, Ezra 7:21-25 .

†5 Daniel 6:1-3, Daniel 6:28 .

†6 1 Kings 18:3, 1 Kings 18:12 . 2 Kings 13:14 .

†7 Proverbs 16:12-13.

†8 Proverbs 28:2; Proverbs 25:5 .

†9 Proverbs 15:9.

†10 Psalms 15:1-2; Psalms 24:3-4 .

Verse 12

The eyes of the LORD often describe his searching Omniscience;†1 here his fatherly care.†2 There are so many inlets to false principles; such spacious appearances to warp the judgment, does the subtle enemy pour in; so strong is the natural tendency in the same direction; that but for this gracious covering to preserve knowledge in our hearts, the words of the transgressor might "overthrow our faith." (2 Timothy 2:17-19 .) Oh! let us seek in close communion with him continued preservation from a cloud upon our intellectual faculties, and spiritual apprehensions for our Christian establishment.

But the proverb illustrates upon a wider scale his faithful keeping of the truth in the world. Indeed it may be regarded as a prophecy in the course of fulfillment to the very end of time.†3 For how wonderfully has the knowledge of God been preserved from age to age; and all the plausible or malignant schemes to blot it out been overthrown! The Scriptures, as the words of knowledge, have been preserved in a far more accurate state than any other book of corresponding antiquity; though man’s wisdom has never been wanting in ingenuity to corrupt it. When knowledge seemed on the eve of perishing, a single copy of the Scriptures, found as it were accidentally, preserved it from utter extinction. (2 Chronicles 34:14-18 .) For successive generations the Book was in the custody of faithful librarians, handed down in substantial integrity. (Romans 3:2 .) When the church herself was on the side of the Arian heresy, the same watchful eyes raised up a champion,†4 to preserve the testimony. In the succeeding dark ages witnesses prophesied, as from the earliest eras of Revelation,†5 some indeed for a long time in sackcloth,†6 until the dawn of a brighter day. Nor was this in peace and quietness. Often has the infidel transgressor labored with all the might of man for its destruction.†7 Often has Rome partially suppressed it, or committed it to the flames, or circulated perverted copies and false interpretations. Yet all these words and deeds of the transgressors have been overthrown. And notwithstanding all heretical corruptions, the eyes of the LORD have preserved knowledge. Still is his word continued among us, with its Divine credentials unimpaired, and its unsearchable store undiminished — a standing miracle of the faithfulness of its Almighty Keeper. Full of joy and confidence is the believer’s acknowledgment — "Concerning thy testimonies, I have known of old, that thou hast founded them for ever." (Psalms 119:152 .)

Footnotes:

†1 Proverbs 5:21; Proverbs 15:3 . Psalms 11:4 .

†2 2 Chronicles 16:9 . Psalms 34:15 . Zechariah 4:10 .

†3 Scott in loco.

†4 Athanasius.

†5 Enoch, Judges 1:14-15 . Noah, 2 Peter 2:5 .

†6 Revelation 11:3-11; Revelation 12:14-17 .

†7 Jeremiah 36:23. The company of Voltaire and his associates.

Verse 13

13 The slothful man saith, There is a lion without, I shall be slain in the streets. (Proverbs 26:13 .)

’This sentence belongs to those who flinch from the cross.’†1 Real difficulties in the way of heaven exercise faith. And such there are, far too great for those, who have never "counted the cost," or who "go to the warfare at any time at their own charges."†2 But imaginary difficulties are the indulgence of sloth. The slothful man is a coward. He has no love for his work, and therefore he is always ready to put a cheat upon his soul, ’inventing some vain excuse, because he will not do his duty.’†3 He shrinks from every work likely to involve trouble. (Proverbs 15:19 ; Proverbs 19:24 .) Fancied dangers frighten him from real and present duties. There is a lion without; I shall be slain in the streets — an absurd excuse! — as if public streets, except in special cases, were the haunts of wild beasts. (Psalms 104:20-22 .) He is afraid of being slain without, when he willingly gives himself up to be slain within. (Proverbs 21:25 .) Thus the unbelieving spies, when holding up to view the exuberant fruit of Canaan, added — But we be not able to go up against the people. The cities are walled up to heaven; and the giants are there. (Numbers 13:27-33 .) As if the promise of God was not a stronger ground of faith, than the giants of fear!†4 But much more sad is it to see Moses shrinking,†5 — nay — Jonah running away, from the LORD’s work.†6 All excuses against doing it partake of this cowardly spirit. And who has not felt the temptation, when called to a plain but self-denying duty; to encounter painful opposition to the gospel, or to a faithful rebuke of sin? — There is a lion without. True. But hast thou forgotten the promise in the ways of God? "Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder; the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet"? (Psalms 91:11-13 .) Does not our Master call us to follow him in a life of self-devoted conflict and energy? Ponder the terms of discipleship. "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me." (Luke 9:23 .) Godly courage, "endurance of hardness," "standing in the whole armor of God"†7 — all this is needed; all this must be daily and hourly sought for, not only by those who stand in the forefront of the battle, but by the meanest soldier of the cross; else, though "armed, and carrying the bow, he will turn back" disgracefully "in the day of battle." (Psalms 78:9 .)

Footnotes:

†1 Melancthon in loco.

†2 Matthew 8:19-20, with Matthew 11:12 . Luke 14:28-30 .

†3 Reformer’s Notes.

†4 Numbers 14:6-8, with Genesis 12:7 .

†5 Exodus 4:10-14.

†6 Jonah 1:1-3.

†7 2 Timothy 2:3 . Ephesians 6:11, Ephesians 6:13 . ’Invictus ad labores; fortis ad periculum; durus adversus illecebras.’ Ambrose - a fine exhibition of Christian energy.

Verse 14

This fearful temptation has been already frequently opened.†1 But in a book specially for the young, who that knows the power of "youthful lusts" (2 Timothy 2:22 ), and the seductive witcheries of sin, will deem a fresh warning needless? Is it not the voice of mercy? For what but unbounded compassion could stand as it were at the edge of the pit, and unfold to the unwary its awful peril? A deep pit indeed it is,†2 easy to fall into; hard, next to impossible, to get out of.†3 So besotting is this sin to the flesh, to the mind, and to the conscience!†4 It is the mouth of a pit far deeper. "For her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell."†5 What more humbling proof can there be of the total depravity of the nature, than the fact, that those affections, originally given as the purest enjoyments of life, should become the corrupt spring of such a defilement. The sin and snare would seem to be a judicial infliction for those, whose willful rejection of God has made them abhorred of him.†6 They have turned away from instruction, hated reproof, resisted conviction, been given up to their abomination; they give therefore too plain proof that they are abandoned by God, (Romans 1:28 ) — abhorred of the LORD! Is the embrace of the strange woman a compensation for such a judgment? Every curse, eternal frown and banishment, the weight of infinite unmingled wrath, is involved in this awful name. Not that he willeth the death of the vilest sinner. (Ezekiel 18:32 .) But must not his justice and his holiness be in array against those, who of their own will choose evil, and reject alike the warnings of his wrath, and the invitations of his love?

Footnotes:

†1 Proverbs 2:16-19; Proverbs 5:3 ; Proverbs 6:24-29 ; Proverbs 7:5, &c; Proverbs 9:16-18 .

†2 Proverbs 23:27.

†3 Proverbs 2:19. Ecclesiastes 7:26 .

†4 Judges 16:19-20. Nehemiah 13:26 . Hosea 4:11 .

†5 Proverbs 5:5; 2 Peter 2:10-12 . Revelation 21:8 .

†6 Romans 1:28. Psalms 81:11-12.

Verse 15

What parent, what instructor of children, will not bear sad, but decisive, testimony to the foolishness of the child? ’A little innocent’ — is the miscalled name of fondness and fancy. One only of Adam’s race, and he — adored be his name! preserved by his holy conception (Luke 1:35 ) — lays claim to it. Foolishness is the birthright of all besides. The early development of waywardness and passion, — even before the power of speech;†1 before the child is capable of observing and imitating those around him — is a touching, but undeniable, evidence of the innate principle. Resistance therefore cannot begin too early. Education should commence even in the cradle.

Observe — it is foolishness, not childishness. That might belong to an unfallen child. No moral guilt attaches to the recollection — "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child." (1 Corinthians 13:11 .) ’A child is to be punished’ — as Mr. Scott wisely observed — ’not for being a child, but for being a wicked child.’†2 Comparative ignorance, the imperfect and gradual opening of the faculties, constitute the nature, not the sinfulness of the child. The holy "child increased in wisdom." (Luke 2:52 .) But foolishness is the mighty propensity to evil — imbibing wrong principles, forming bad habits, entering into an ungodly course. It means the very root and essence of sin in a fallen nature — the folly of being revolted from a God of love. It includes all the sins of which a child is capable — lying, deceit (Psalms 58:3 ), willfulness, perverseness, want of submission to authority (Job 11:12 ) — a fearful aptness for evil, and revulsion against good. It is not the sheet of pure white paper; not the innocent, or even the tractable, creature, easily guided by proper means, that we have before us; but a little heart full of sin, containing all the seeds of future evil, multiplying to a fruitful harvest.

We delight in our children’s harmless play. We would make ourselves one with them in their sportiveness. But this foolishness — visible every hour before our eyes — never let it be a subject of sport, but of deep and constant sadness. Nor let childhood plead as an excuse for this foolishness. Children’s sins may not be chargeable with the guilt of adult responsibility; yet God has awfully shewn, that they are sins against Himself. The judgment on the "little children" of Bethel is enough to make "both the ears of" thoughtless parents "to tingle." (2 Kings 2:23-24 .)

But whence the origin of this foolishness? "Look unto the rock whence we are hewn." Look unto "Adam" our father, and unto "Eve that bare us." (Isaiah 51:1-2 .) As is the root, so are the branches. As is the fountain, so are the waters. Our nature was poisoned at the spring. Our sinful parent, having lost God’s image, could only "beget a son after his image" (Genesis 5:3 ) — a sinner begetting a sinner. "That which is born of the flesh is flesh" (John 3:6 ), and could be nothing else. Now "who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?" (Job 14:4 ; Job 25:4 .) The creature therefore is produced into being with a radical enmity to God; — "by nature" therefore "a child of wrath." (Ephesians 2:3 .) The entail is held from "our first father," and can never be cut off. There is no division of this sad inheritance. Each of his children has the whole. His Maker testifies, that he is "a transgressor from the womb, that his heart is evil from his youth."†3 In shame he acknowledges the testimony — "Behold! I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me." (Psalms 51:5 .) If the joy of a child’s birth blot out the remembrance of its pain and sorrow (John 16:21 ), yet must not this joy be chastened in the humbling recollection of what the child brings into the world — foolishness? That self-will, that proud independence, that shakes the very foundations of society, is the birth-sin of our fallen nature. Nor does it lie only on the surface, like some childish habits, easily corrected. It is bound in the child’s heart, ’held firmly there by chains invincible to human power.’†4 It is incorporated into his very nature. And so various are its forms, so subtle its workings, that the wisest parent is often at a loss how to detect and treat the evil.

The prescribed remedy, however, is clear. It is vain to bid the foolishness depart. And little inclination is there in the child himself to drive it far away. The rod of correction is distinctly named, and repeatedly inculcated, as God’s own means for this important end.†5 And surely the thought of having been an instrument of producing nature envenomed against a God of love must constrain the parent to use the means thus divinely appointed for destroying the deadly poison.

Only let the child see, that, as with our heavenly Father, love is the ruling principle;†6 that we follow the example of the wisest and best of parents, that we use his rod for driving men from foolishness;†7 that, like him, we "chasten, not for our pleasure, but for our child’s profit" (Hebrews 12:10 ); not from caprice or passion, but from tenderness to his soul. Use the LORD’s means, and we can then, what otherwise we cannot do, wait in faith for the promised blessing. Many a stirring movement of the flesh will be restrained. Man’s will will be put down, and God’s will gain the supremacy. Shame of sin will issue in abhorrence; and in this sorrow and humiliation the path of wisdom will be chosen, loved, and followed. (Proverbs 29:15 .)

We have indeed no right to demand to see God’s reasons for his ordinance. Yet we may be permitted, in part at least, to trace its workings. Habits are of immense value, as wrought into the character by the Holy Spirit. But there must be a beginning, and the use of means to fix the principle. If a child be punished for falsehood; to avoid future punishment, he abstains, and speaks the truth. As he advances, he finds the blessing and comfort of the right path. He learns gradually to speak truth from a higher motive. Insensibly his conscience acquires tenderness respecting it; and it becomes a principle in his character. Thus the rod of correction performs its work with permanent benefit.

Footnotes:

†1 Augustine mentions a living demonstration of the fall - the sight of an infant, before it could speak, shewing an evident look of envy and passion towards another infant about to share its nourishment. He adds - in reference to himself - ’When? I beseech thee, O my God, in what places, when or where, was I innocent?’ - Confess. lib. i. c. 7.

†2 Life, p. 622.

†3 Isaiah 48:8. Genesis 8:21 .

†4 Cartwright in loco.

†5 Proverbs 19:18; Proverbs 23:13-14 ; Proverbs 29:17 .

†6 Proverbs 13:24, with Proverbs 3:11-12 .

†7 2 Chronicles 33:12-13 .

Verse 16

These two cases seem to be at opposites. Yet they meet at the same center. Both are equally destitute of the love of God, and of their brother. Both alike are seeing their own aggrandizement. The one oppresseth the poor to increase his riches. The other giveth to the rich, "hoping for" something "again." Both courses — paradoxical as it may appear — are the road to want. "For the oppression of the poor — now will I arise — saith the LORD. Him that loveth violence, his soul hateth." (Psalms 12:5 ; Psalms 11:5 .) ’Sin pays its servants very bad wages; for it gives the very reverse of what is promised. While the sin of oppression promises mountains of gold, it brings them poverty and ruin. (Jeremiah 12:13-15 .) Injuries done to the poor are sorely resented by the God of mercy, who is the poor man’s friend, and will break in pieces his oppressor.’†1 But if oppression is the road to poverty, is not liberality the way to riches? Doubtless it is, if it be for God. (Proverbs 3:9-10 .) But here the man was putting forth a false show of munificence to ensure gifts in tenfold return; while he could at the same time indulge his selfishness in grinding the poor with impunity. Our Lord, therefore, forbids his friends to "make a feast for the rich, looking for a recompense."†2 "If ye do good to them" — said he to his disciples — "that do good to you — if ye lend to them, of whom ye hope to receive — what thank have ye?" (Luke 6:33-34 .) To give to the rich is perverting our stewardship for the service of the poor. But retributive justice will blast the ill-gotten gains of selfishness;†3 and hypocrisy will meet its just reward of shame and disappointment. (Luke 12:1-2 .) Oh! let the Christian ever hear his Father’s voice — "Walk before me, and be thou perfect."

Footnotes:

†1 Lawson in loco. Compare Proverbs 22:22-23 .

†2 Luke 14:12. Martial often alludes to the expectation of a legacy with keen rebuke of selfishness.

†3 Job 20:19-22. Isaiah 5:8-9 . Micah 3:2-5 . Zechariah 7:9-14 . James 2:6, James 2:13 ; James 5:1-4 .

Verses 17-21

Solomon here changes his mode of address. From the tenth chapter he had chiefly given detached, sententious aphorisms in an antithetical form; contrasting right and wrong principles with their respective results. His observations are now more connected and personal, and, like a wise minister, he preaches to his people, not before them; preaching to them, not only in the mass, but in contact with their individual consciences.

The wise man here ’shews the power and use of the word of God.’†1 He begins with an earnest call to attention. He was speaking no ordinary matters, but the words of the wise. Bow the ear — apply the heart unto my knowledge†2 as to a message from God. LORD! "waken mine ear to hear as the learned." (Isaiah 50:4 .)

Observe the attractiveness of wisdom. It is a pleasant, no less than a profitable, thing. And who is not alive to the call of pleasure? Yet incomprehensible is it to the world to connect religion with pleasure. It spoils all their pleasure. And what amends can it make? It includes in their view much to be done, but nothing to be enjoyed; something very serious, perhaps important in its place; but grave and gloomy; a duty, not a privilege. Yet how little has our profession wrought for us, if it has not realized it as a pleasant thing; if it has not adorned it with somewhat of an angel’s face! Often indeed by our own fault it fails to comfort and invigorate us; a body indeed of truth, but "a body without the spirit" — cold and lifeless. It is a pleasant thing only, if we keep it within us.†3 Heart-religion conveys vital happiness. The fruit is of "the tree of life;"†4 its taste "sweeter than honey or the honey-comb."†5 "Thy words were found, and I did eat them, and thy word was unto me as the joy and rejoicing of my heart." (Jeremiah 15:16 .)

Mark also the connection between the religion of the heart and of the lips. Keep it within thee. "Let this word dwell in your heart;" and how graceful will be the furniture of the lips, fitting them to speak with natural simplicity, and suitable application!†6 When "the heart is inditing a good matter, the tongue" is as "the pen of a ready writer." (Psalms 45:1 .) It becomes "as choice silver." The words are fitted ’like a string of rich and precious pearls.’†7 "The lips of the righteous feed many."†8 Yet the words will be but little fitted in the lips,†9 "where there is no treasure in the heart." Never let the mouth attempt to "speak of wisdom," until "the meditation of the heart has been of understanding." (Psalms 49:3 .)

But how powerless are even the words of wisdom without personal application! Let each for a while isolate himself from his fellow-men, and be alone with God, under the clear, searching light of his word. If prayer be cold; graces be languid, privileges be clouded, and profession unfruitful, is it not because religion has been taken up in the gross, without immediate personal contact with the truth of God? O my soul, the message of God is to thee, even to thee†10 — this day. "To-day, while it is called to-day,"†11 welcome his voice with reverential joy. "Take fast hold of his instruction, for it is thy life." (Proverbs 4:13 .) That thy trust may be in the LORD; that thou mayest claim thine interest in him; that thou mightest seal his truth upon thine heart — he hath made it known to thee, even to thee. Believe, love, obey; be happy here, and for eternity. And who can doubt the excellency of the things that are written, so rich in counsel and knowledge — ’words fit for a prince to speak, and the best man in the world to hear?’†12 Such free, such pleading, invitations!†13 Such deep manifestations of the divine counsels!†14 Such wise, earnest, parental warning against sin!†15 Such encouraging exhibitions of the service of God!†16 Such a minute and practical standard for relative life and social obligation!†17

But let us not forget the great end of this Revelation — that we may know the certainty of the things; that we may give an answer concerning our confidence. The Gospel itself was written with a special reference to this important end.†18 Yet this confidence is a Divine attainment. "The word must come with power, and with the Holy Ghost," in order to come "with much assurance." (1 Thessalonians 1:5 .) That cannot be a sound faith, which does not extend to the whole of the testimony. And even a general admission of the authority of the whole, without an individual application, would, if carefully analyzed, prove to be a want of cordial reception of any part of the revelation. A lodgment in the heart can alone bring that full conviction — "Now we believe, not because of thy saying; for we have heard him ourselves." (John 4:42 .)

Doubts may arise as to the integrity of the foundation. But a candid and intelligent survey of the external evidence would satisfy all reasonable minds.†19 And a fair trial for ourselves would confirm the mass of proof with all the weight of internal evidences. Far better to make the trial at once, than to paralyze the modicum of remaining strength by unreasonable doubtings. The Bible exhibits a divinely-appointed remedy commensurate with man’s infinite distress, and accepted of God in its power and prevalence. Let this at least encourage the effort to fit our case to the remedy, and to apply the remedy to our case. There may be shaking in the exercise, but not in the foundation, of our confidence.

No further proof can be expected. None, in fact, could be given, save a voice from heaven; which the busy enemy, working upon the imagination, would readily convert into a vehicle of doubt. Actual demonstration would leave no room for faith, which is clearly man’s discipline in the present dispensation; humbling him in the consciousness of his ignorance and his dependence upon God. We have only therefore thankfully to receive, and diligently to improve, the sufficient evidence vouchsafed to us. Paley has given us a golden maxim of Christian philosophy; when he defines true fortitude of understanding to consist ’in not suffering what we do know to be disturbed and shaken by what we do not know.’†20 To delay, therefore, "the obedience of faith" (Romans 16:26 ), until we shall have solved all the ten thousand objections of a proud infidelity, is to waste the urgent responsibilities of the present moment in an unwarranted expectation of light, which was never intended to be given. Perhaps time was, when these questions were welcome, nurtured by pride or sensuality; rather insinuated, than formally presented. Simplicity was revolting. Imagination was in the stead of faith, not auxiliary to it. But the tossings of the mind in speculative uncertainty have been ordained to enhance the value of a soundly-assured confidence.

Indeed the importance of such a confidence cannot be over-estimated. It constitutes the weight and effectiveness of the sacred office. "The priest’s lips keep knowledge, and they shall seek the law at his mouth, as the messenger of the LORD of Hosts." (Malachi 2:7 .) But except he know himself the certainty of the words of truth, how can he answer the words of truth to them that send unto him? Scarcely less necessary is it for the Christian, that he may "be ready always to give an answer to every one that asketh him a reason of the hope that is in him." (1 Peter 3:15 .) Temporary skepticism may be a chastisement of a disputatious spirit; but prayer, and humility, with all its attendant graces, will ultimately lead to Christian establishment. Thus shall we be preserved from the fearful, but alas! too prevalent, danger, of receiving the traditions of men in the stead, and with the authority, of the testimony of God. Ours will not be a blind Romish faith in the priests or in the Church, but alone "in the law and the testimony;"†21 "standing not in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God;"†22 stamped by the impress of the Spirit, as "the witness in ourselves."†23 No power of Satan or his emissaries will drive us permanently from this stronghold. We "know whom" and what "we have believed" (2 Timothy 1:12 ), and "testify," for the support of our weaker brethren, "that this is the true grace of God wherein we stand." (1 Peter 5:12 .)

Footnotes:

†1 Melancthon in loco.

†2 Proverbs 2:2; Proverbs 23:12 .

†3 Proverbs 6:21; Proverbs 7:1, with Proverbs 2:10 .

†4 Proverbs 3:18.

†5 Proverbs 24:13-14. Psalms 19:10 ; Psalms 119:103 .

†6 Psalms 119:171; Matthew 12:34 . Colossians 3:16 .

†7 Diodati.

†8 Proverbs 10:21. Compare Proverbs 15:23 ; Proverbs 16:21 ; Proverbs 25:11 .

†9 Proverbs 26:7, Proverbs 26:9 .

†10 See the same emphatic reduplication, Proverbs 23:15 .

†11 Hebrews 3:13; Hebrews 4:7, with Psalms 95:7 .

†12 Proverbs 8:6. Scott in loco.

†13 Proverbs 1. Proverbs 8. Proverbs 9.

†14 Proverbs 8.

†15 Proverbs 6. 7.

†16 Proverbs 3.

†17 Proverbs 10. - 22.

†18 Luke 1:1-4; 2 Peter 1:15-16 .

†19 See Dr. Alexander’s Canon of the Old and New Testament Scriptures Ascertained - a valuable volume from America - reprinted in London.

†20 See his Natural Theology, Chapter v.

†21 Isaiah 8:20. Acts 17:11 .

†22 1 Corinthians 2:5 .

†23 1 John 5:10 ; 1 John 2:20, 1 John 2:27 .

Verses 22-23

Perhaps after so solemn an exhortation, we might have expected something more important. Yet what can be more important than the law of love, and to rebuke the breaches of that law? Robbery and oppression, under any circumstances, are a breach of the commandment. (Exodus 20:15 .) But to rob the poor, because he is poor, and has no means of protection, is a cowardly aggravation of the sin. (2 Samuel 12:1-6 .) Much more base is it to oppress the afflicted in the gate — the place of judgment†1 — to make his only refuge a market for bribery,†2 and to pervert the sacred authority of God given for his protection.†3 God is most resisted in wronging those who cannot resist or defend themselves. ’The threatenings of God against the robbers of the poor are sometimes laughed at by the rich and great. But they will find them in due time to be awful realities.’†4 ’Weak though they be, they have a strong one to take their part.’†5 He will plead their cause. And woe to the man, against whom he pleads. "What mean ye" — demands the poor man’s pleader — "that ye beat my people to pieces, and grind the face of the poor?"†6

The accumulation of divine vengeance is heaped upon this sin.†7 Ahab’s judgment testified to the fearful spoiling of those who spoil the poor.†8 The captivity in Babylon was the scourge for this wickedness.†9 And when the deeds of secrecy shall be brought to light, how black will be the catalogue of sins of oppression! How tremendous the judgments of the oppressor!†10 Meanwhile let the poor commit himself to his God;†11 yea, take up the song of praise,†12 in the confidence that the Divine pleader will "maintain his cause,"†13 to the eternal confusion of his spoilers.

Footnotes:

†1 Ruth 4:1. 2 Samuel 15:2 ; 2 Samuel 19:8 . Job 5:4 . Amos 5:15 .

†2 Exodus 23:6. Amos 5:12 .

†3 Psalms 82:4. Psalms 72:1-4.

†4 Proverbs 22:16.

†5 Bp. Sanderson’s Sermon on 1 Samuel 12:3 .

†6 Isaiah 3:15. Compare Proverbs 23:10-11 . Jeremiah 50:33-34 .

†7 Psalms 109:6, Psalms 109:16 .

†8 1 Kings 21:18-24 . Compare Isaiah 33:1 . Habakkuk 2:8 .

†9 Ezekiel 22:29-31. Compare Jeremiah 21:12 .

†10 Malachi 3:5.

†11 Psalms 10:14.

†12 Psalms 109:30-31.

†13 Psalms 140:12.

Verses 24-25

Sin is contagious. Alas! our corrupt constitution predisposes us to receive it in any form, in which it may be presented to us. The unlovely passions of a furious man rather repel than attract.†1 But sin never loses its infectious character. Friendship blinds the eye; and where there is no light in the mind, no true tenderness in the conscience, we can see hateful things done by those we love, with blunted sensibilities. Common intercourse with a furious man is like living in a house that is on fire. His unreasonable conduct stirs our own tempers. One fire kindles another. Occasional bursts of passion soon form the habit. The habit becomes the nature. Thus we learn his ways, and get a snare to our soul. (Psalms 106:35-36 .) How soon does a young person, living with a proud man, get the mold of his society, and become imperious and overbearing! (Sirach 13:1 .) Evil ways, especially when they fall in with our natural temperament, are much sooner learnt than good, and are much more powerful to "corrupt good manners" (1 Corinthians 15:33 ), than good manners to amend the evil. We learn anger easier than meekness. We convey disease, not health. Hence it is the rule of self-preservation, no less than the rule of God — Make no friendship with an angry man.

Footnotes:

†1 Proverbs 21:24; Proverbs 25:28 ; Proverbs 27:4 .

Verses 26-27

Avoid contention, not only with angry, but with imprudent, perhaps unprincipled associates. Strike not your hands†1 as a surety, without forethought, perhaps without upright principle. Repeated warnings have been given of this danger.†2 Striking hands for a friend is often striking, and even wounding, our own hearts. The putting your hand to a bill may be almost signing a warrant for your own execution. At all events it is a fraud to give security for more than you are worth; promising what you are unable to perform. The creditor may fairly in this case proceed to extremities†3 — not with the debtor (whom he knows to be worth nothing, and whom indeed the law of God protected†4) — but with the surety. And why — the wise man asks — shouldest thou rashly incur beggary and ruin, so as to have the bed taken from under thee?

There is, however, so much danger of erring in over-caution, and of indulging selfishness under the cover of prudence, that these wholesome cautions must be considerately applied. Yet, in "devising liberal things" (Isaiah 32:8 ), we must combine scrupulous regard to justice and truth (Philippians 4:8 ); else our very charity will prove the scandal, instead of the glory, of our profession.†5 ’We may "take joyfully the spoiling of our goods," for the testimony of a good conscience. But as the fruit of our own rashness and folly, we cannot but take it heavily.’†6 Oh! let our Divine Master be honored in our profession; by well-doing "putting to silence the ignorance of foolish men."†7

Footnotes:

†1 Proverbs 6:1.

†2 Proverbs 22:1-2; Proverbs 11:15 ; Proverbs 17:18 .

†3 Proverbs 20:16.

†4 Exodus 22:26-27. Deuteronomy 24:12-13 .

†5 Romans 14:16. 1 Timothy 5:22 . Hebrews 12:13 .

†6 Hebrews 10:34. Henry in loco.

†7 1 Peter 2:12, 1 Peter 2:15 ; 1 Peter 3:16 .

Verse 28

Every one has an undoubted right to his own. He must therefore have the means of knowing and securing his right. Even the heathen admitted the sacredness of the landmark. The stone or the staple was honored as the god, without whose kindly influence every field would be the subject of contention.†1 The landmark was protected by the wise laws of Israel. God himself set the bounds to the respective parts of his own world, restricting each part within its proper limits.†2 Thus also he distributed the different nations,†3 and appointed the same security for the several allotments of his own people.†4 The ancient landmark stood as the witness and memorial of each man’s rights, which his fathers had set. Its removal therefore was forbidden, as a selfish and unjust invasion of property,†5 included in the curses of Ebal,†6 and noted, in subsequent ages, as the forefront of national provocation.†7

All sound expositors†8 warn us, from this Proverb, to reverence long-tried and well-established principles, and not rashly to innovate upon them. Some scorn the ancient landmarks as relics of bye-gone days of darkness. Impatient of restraint, they want a wider range of wandering, to indulge either their own prurient appetite for novelties, or the morbid cravings of others for this unwholesome excitement. (2 Timothy 3:7 ; 2 Timothy 4:3-4 .) Endless divisions and dissensions have been the fruit of this deadly evil. The right of individual judgment oversteps its legitimate bounds; and in its licentious exercise "every man" feels justified to "do" and think "that which is right in his own eyes." (Judges 21:25 .)

Rome, on the other hand, charges us with removing the ancient landmark of unwritten Tradition, which our fathers have set. We ask — What right had they to set it up? We do reverence to no unwritten traditions upon the footing of "the law and the testimony." (Isaiah 8:20 .) We rebut the charge of Antichrist, and contend, upon the broad ground of historic testimony, that she has removed the ancient landmarks, and substituted her own in their place; that Protestantism (in principle, though not in name) is the old religion, and Popery a comparative novelty.†9 ’We have not removed the ancient landmarks by bringing men back to the true doctrine, because this, being delivered by God, is the ancient doctrine, and the landmarks have been subsequently removed by the subtlety of the devil, and idolatry put in the place of the true worship.’†10

Turning to our beloved and venerated Church; the last age witnessed a rude, but by divine mercy an unsuccessful, effort, to root up her landmarks.†11 We have seen a subtle and invidious attempt to remove them from the place, where our well-instructed fathers have set them, and fix them nearer Rome; leaving but a narrow boundary of division between Christ and Antichrist. This is indeed the rooting up of the foundations of the grace of God, which ought, if need be, to "be resisted unto blood." (Hebrews 12:4 .) The LORD make us "valiant for the truth," and consistent witnesses of its power!

Footnotes:

†1 See Ovid, Trist. ii. 639-648.

†2 Genesis 1:6-10. Job 38:10-11 .

†3 Deuteronomy 32:8.

†4 Numbers 34:1-29.

†5 Deuteronomy 19:14. Compare Proverbs 23:10 . Job 24:2 .

†6 Deuteronomy 27:17.

†7 Hosea 5:10.

†8 Bp. Patrick, Scott, Geier, &c. Romish expositors naturally apply it to their own traditions. Estè quotes the Venerable Bede. See also Corn. à Lapide.

†9 The historical dates of the distinctive principles of Popery accredited as articles of faith, are many centuries subsequent to the primitive era. See a valuable tract by Rev. Thomas Lathbury - ’Protestantism the Old Religion, Popery the New.’ Also ’Our Protestant Forefathers.’ By the Rev. Dr. Gilly - As regards our own church - Mr. Soames’s interesting and elaborate work on the Anglo-Saxon Church.

†10 Melancthon. Comment. 12mo. 1550.

†11 The Heathen Association, at Feathers Tavern, supported by men of influence and dignity, with the avowed object of sweeping away the Creeds, Articles, and Subscriptions.

Verse 29

Seest thou a man? He is marked out for a special notice.†1 And who is it? A man diligent in his business; quick, ready, actively improving his time, his talents, his opportunity for his work; like Henry Martyn, who was known in his college ’as the man who had not lost an hour.’†2 A mean sphere is too low for such a man. He shall stand, as Joseph,†3 Nehemiah,†4 Daniel†5 — all diligent in their business — did — before kings. If the letter of the promise be not fulfilled, "the diligent man will bear rule" in his own sphere.†6 Such was the honor put upon Eliezer’s care, forethought and activity for his master’s interest. (Genesis 24:1-67 .) ’Nobleness of condition is not essential as a school for nobleness of character. It is delightful to think, that humble life may be just as rich in moral grace and moral grandeur as the loftier places in society; that as true a dignity of principle may be earned by him, who in homeliest drudgery plies his conscientious task, as by him who stands entrusted with the fortunes of an empire.’†7

Diligence, even without godliness, is often the way to worldly advancement. Pharaoh chose Joseph’s brethren, as "men of activity," to be rulers of his cattle. (Genesis 47:6 .) Jeroboam owed his rise in Solomon’s house to his "industrious" habits. (1 Kings 11:28 .) But when a man "serves the Lord in fervency of spirit" (Romans 12:11 ), thriftfully occupying his own talent for the day of reckoning (Luke 19:13 ); not only the mean man, but the mighty man of the world, will be too low for him. He shall stand before the King of Kings with unspeakable honor, with unclouded acceptance — "Well done! good and faithful servant; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." (Matthew 25:21-23 .)

And if "the servants of the wise king were happy, which stood continually before him, and heard his wisdom;" what must be the joy of standing before the great King, seeing his face, and serving him for ever!†8 "This honor have all his saints." (Psalms 149:9 .) "If a man serve me," saith our gracious Master, "where I am, there shall also my servant be; if any man serve me, him will my Father honor." (John 12:26 .)

Footnotes:

†1 Proverbs 26:12; Proverbs 29:20 .

†2 Life, chapter ii.

†3 Genesis 39:3-6; Genesis 41:42 .

†4 Nehemiah 1:11; Nehemiah 2:1 .

†5 Daniel 6:1-3; Daniel 6:28 .

†6 Proverbs 12:24. Compare Sirach 10:25 .

†7 Chalmers’ Commercial Discourses, p. 107.

†8 1 Kings 10:8, with Revelation 7:15 ; Revelation 22:3-4 .

Bibliographical Information
Bridges, Charles. "Commentary on #REF". Bridges' Commentary on Proverb. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbp/proverbs-22.html. 1846.
 
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