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Proverbs 20:1 . Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging. In the book of Ecclesiasticus intoxication is connected with poverty, with harlots, with destruction: chap. Proverbs 19:1-2. Cyrus, after noticing great disorder in the court of Persia, is reported by Xenophon as saying, oh Darius, we were all kings last night. Darius, his ministers, and his cup-bearers all asleep on the carpets together.
Proverbs 20:2 . The fear of a king. See on Proverbs 19:12. Many proverbs in this chapter occur in other places, to which the reader is referred.
Proverbs 20:5 . Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water. Men of wisdom and prudence are slow to advise others; but a man of understanding will resort to such characters, as to deep wells. He will not listen to the ready, but shallow, advice of fools.
Proverbs 20:9 . Who can say, I have made my heart clean; I am pure from my sin? The phrase, “my sin,” designates personal transgression. The various answers given to these enquiries show that some difficulty exists in the sense. Commentators seem agreed here to leave us all in our sins. But Augustine, Enchrid. cap. 64, “asserit vitam justorum esse posse sine crimine, et non sine peccato, affirms, that the life of the just may be without crime, but not without sin.” This farther makes a distinction here between known and wilful sins, and the infirmities inoperable from our nature. Well, be the opinions of the doctors what they may, this grand truth remains as a rock, that there is a state on earth in which the Father, Son, and Comforter will come and make His abode with faithful men. John 14:23. Oh my soul, look for that state above all other favours, and aim at all the mind that was in Christ.
Proverbs 20:17 . Bread of deceit is sweet to a man, as property obtained by fraud, which presently will grind his teeth. He who overreaches his neighbour will shortly overreach himself. See on Proverbs 9:17.
Proverbs 20:20 . Whoso curseth his father. See Exodus 21:17. Leviticus 20:9. His lamp shall be put out. See on Proverbs 13:9.
Proverbs 20:21 . An inheritance gotten hastily shall not be blessed. No wealth will ultimately benefit a man or his family, that is not acquired by fair labour and industry. A man should give value to the community for all that he receives out of it. Hence all speculations which exceed the ordinary risks of trade; all undertakings which involve a credit to which the means or capital of the individual does not entitle him, and especially all jobbing and speculation in the funds, where one must lose what another gains; and all forestalling and unjust monopoly, shall not profit in the end. Many, who call themselves religious people, have need to take heed to this saying.
Proverbs 20:25 . It is a snare to the man who devoureth that which is holy. When a man has vowed to give a lamb, for instance, to the Lord, if he be poor, and eat the lamb as a peace-offering instead of burning it on the altar for his sin, or for some deliverance, it is a snare of condemnation to his conscience. He should have considered before he vowed. Alas, alas, how ill soever our vows of piety be paid, they are real vows, recorded in the book of God. Psalms 76:11.
Proverbs 20:26 . And bringeth the wheel over them. An allusion to the ancient method of threshing corn by a wheel: the wicked shall be as the corn under the threshing wheel.
Proverbs 20:30 . The blueness of a wound cleanseth away evil. This proverb instructs us that a wound in the body corresponds with grief of mind. The wound must be washed, the heart must be searched. Grief is then the medicine of grief, as well for the body as the soul.
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Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Proverbs 20". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany