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v. 1. The king's heart is In the hand of the Lord as the rivers of water, the thoughts and plans of the mightiest rulers, sovereign as they may seem, are like ditches and canals in which men lead water where they desire; He turneth it whithersoever He will; no matter what the mighty may fatuously ascribe to themselves in the way of absolute authority, there is One whose government directs even their actions in agreement with His will.
v. 2. Every way of a man Is right in his own eyes, he is inclined to self-satisfaction, which may lead him astray; but the Lord pondereth the hearts, He weighs them and thus determines the direction which their plans should take. cf Proverbs 16:2.
v. 3. To do justice and judgment, to exercise the principles of righteousness and justice in all our dealings, is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice, for all outward acts of worship are hollow sham without true piety of the heart.
v. 4. An high look and a proud heart, literally, "haughtiness of eyes and pompousness of heart," and the plowing of the wicked, either the light, the prosperity, or the whole business, all that the ungodly do, is sin, and therefore makes them guilty in the eyes of the Lord.
v. 5. The thoughts of the diligent tend only to plenteousness; because they are industrious and thrifty, they have success; but of every one that is hasty, only to want; for haste, that is, rashness, lack of proper planning, makes waste.
v. 6. The getting of treasures by a lying tongue, by means of misrepresentations and concealment of the truth, is a vanity tossed to and fro of them that seek death, like a fleeting breath, a vanishing haze; for their prosperity has no sound foundation, leading them, instead, to destruction.
v. 7. The robbery of the wicked, the violence which they try to exert in working harm to others, shall destroy them, they are swept away as the result of their own wickedness, because they refuse to do judgment, that which is just and right before the Lord.
v. 8. The way of man is froward and strange, literally, "Twisted is the way of the guilt-laden," for the vicious man has only wickedness in mind; but as for the pure, one who is clean in his conduct, his work is right, in agreement with the will of God.
v. 9. It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, seated alone and forsaken on the parapet of the Oriental flat roof, exposed to every form of weather, than with a brawling woman, one always nagging and quarreling, in a wide house; for though the house be large enough for several families, it is not large enough to afford peace where the one or the other spouse is addicted to such unpleasant behavior.
v. 10. The soul of the wicked desireth evil, since that is his only delight in life; his neighbor findeth no favor in his eyes, his selfishness makes him utterly devoid of mercy and compassion.
v. 11. When the scorner is punished, the simple is made wise, since he profits by the example of warning; and when the wise is instructed, he receiveth knowledge, no severe correction or punishment being necessary in his case, since he accepts teaching readily. cf Proverbs 19:25.
v. 12. The righteous man wisely considereth the house of the wicked, the reference evidently being to God, who marks the house of the ungodly, noting every sign of wickedness, every deed of violence; but God overthroweth the wicked for their wickedness, He plunges them into misfortune and destruction.
v. 13. Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, deliberately and hard-heartedly ignoring their appeals for help, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard, thus being punished in the manner in which he transgressed.
v. 14. A gift in secret pacifieth anger, a gift brought concealed in the bosom and presented at the proper moment; and a reward in the bosom, a gift of bribery, strong wrath, for the more liberal the present, the more readily will it influence the one who receives it.
v. 15. It is joy to the just to do judgment, they love right and delight in performing its demands always; but destruction shall be to the workers of iniquity, that is, the exercise of justice strikes terror to the heart of those who are active in wickedness.
v. 16. The man that wandereth out of the way of understanding, deliberately choosing the way of error, shall remain in the congregation of the dead, shall rest there, as in his everlasting home.
v. 17. He that loveth pleasure, the delights of costly luxuries, shall be a poor man; he that loveth wine and oil, perfumed oil used as a cosmetic, shall not be rich, for his property and earnings will be squandered for useless baubles and dangerous luxuries.
v. 18. The wicked shall be a ransom for the righteous, for by the punishment which he suffers he atones, in a way, for the errors of the pious or is substituted by God for his intended victim, as Haman was for Mordecai, and the transgressor for the upright. Cf Joshua 7:26; Esther 7:9.
v. 19. It is better to dwell in the wilderness, far from the habitations of men, than with a contentious and an angry woman. Cf v. 9.
v. 20. There is treasure to be desired and oil in the dwelling of the wise, because he will carefully lay up and increase wealth; but a foolish man spendeth it up, he is a spendthrift and a waster.
v. 21. He that followeth after righteousness and mercy, eagerly desiring and practicing these virtues, findeth life, the true spiritual life whose source is in God, righteousness, such as is acceptable in the sight of God, and honor, as the Lord bestows upon His children, for they are valued highly in His eyes, no matter how despised they may be in this world.
v. 22. A wise man scaleth the city of the mighty, for a wise man will find and suggest ways of taking even a strong fortress, defended by numerous and strong warriors, Ecclesiastes 9:14-Ezra :, and casteth down the strength of the confidence thereof, the bulwarks upon which the defenders relied.
v. 23. Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue, that is, he who can control them properly, both in refraining from speech and in speaking at the right time and to some definite purpose, keepeth his soul from troubles; for a garrulous fool is always making difficulties for himself.
v. 24. Proud and haughty scorner, a puffed-up jackanapes, is his name, who dealeth in proud wrath, in an excess of insolence, with mockery of everything that is holy.
v. 25. The desire of the slothful, his natural appetites and needs, for which he refuses to provide, killeth him, for want of diligence he dies of want; for his hands refuse to labor; too lazy to work, he is bound to starve.
v. 26. He coveteth greedily all the day long, his needs clamor to be met; but the righteous giveth and spareth not, his industry providing not only for his own needs, but for those in actual need as well.
v. 27. The sacrifice of the wicked is abomination, no amount of mechanical, outward acting will take the place of worship in spirit and in truth; how much more when he bringeth it with a wicked mind, for transgression, while his heart is still filled with wickedness, the outward sacrifice being intended to cover up the lack of repentance. This verse applies to all outward, mere mechanical worship, to all the churchgoing of hypocrites.
v. 28. A false witness shall perish, Proverbs 19:5-1 Samuel :; but the man that heareth speaketh constantly, being modest and lending a ready ear to instruction, he is able to render reliable testimony, not being obliged to cease for uncertainty or a muddled condition of his mind.
v. 29. A wicked man hardeneth his face, trying to hide his wicked thoughts and intentions behind a bold exterior; but as for the upright, he directeth his way, carefully weighing and testing every step, and thus establishing his conduct under all circumstances.
v. 30. There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the Lord, all human wisdom which would set itself over against the truth of God's eternal Word is folly.
v. 31. The horse is prepared against the day of battle, that is, men may make all arrangements and preparations for war, deeming the victory as good as gained; but safety is of the Lord, it is in His hand to give victory or defeat, it rests with Him to decide the issues, 1 Samuel 17:47.
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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Proverbs 21". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 13 / Ordinary 18