PROVERBS CHAPTER 15
A soft, mild or gentle, answer, which may imply a foregoing charge or accusation, although the word is and may be rendered speech or discourse, turneth away wrath from the speaker.
Grievous words, fierce and vexatious replies or speeches, stir up anger; kindle it, and cause it to flame forth.
Useth knowledge aright; expressing what he knows prudently and gracefully; taking due care both what, and when, and to whom, and in what manner he speaks.
Poureth out, plentifully, continually, promiscuously, and vehemently, as a fountain doth waters, as this word signifies.
The eyes of the Lord; his knowledge and providence.
The evil; who are first mentioned, because they either doubt of or deny God’s providence.
A wholesome tongue, which uttereth sound, and comfortable, and useful counsels, is a tree of life; is greatly useful to preserve the present life, and to promote the spiritual and eternal life, both of the speaker and hearers.
Perverseness therein, all sorts of false or corrupt speeches,
is a breach in the spirit; disturbs and wounds, and ofttimes corrupts and destroys, the spirits or souls, both of the speaker and hearers.
A fool despiseth, doth not regard nor obey, which is an evidence of contempt,
his father’s instruction; who hath both love to him, and authority over him; which greatly aggravates his folly.
Reproof; the reproof of any person whatsoever, and much more of a father.
House, or family; whereby he implies that it is not only enjoyed by him, but also left to his posterity.
In the revenues of the wicked is trouble: though he may obtain great revenues, yet they are attended with much trouble and vexation; either because they are strangely blasted and taken from them, or because they are imbittered to them by their own insatiable desires, or tormenting cares and fears, or the horrors of their guilty consciences, or by divers other ways.
Disperse knowledge; freely communicate to others what they know, as they have opportunity.
Doeth not so; either because he hath no knowledge to disperse, or because he hath not a heart to perform his duty, or to do good to others. Or, as others render it, and as the last Hebrew word is rendered, Genesis 42:34, and elsewhere, is not right; or the place may be rendered, the heart of the foolish (understand out of the former clause, as is very usual, disperseth by his lips) that which is not right; foolish and corrupt discourse, which is fitly opposed to knowledge.
The sacrifice; all the religious services, yea, the best and most costly of them; one kind being put for all the rest.
The prayer; the cheapest and meanest services.
The way; the conversation or course of life. This verse seems to contain a reason of the foregoing. God hates wicked men’s religious performances, because they are accompanied with ungodly lives, and they pull down with one hand what they build up with another.
That followeth after righteousness; that earnestly desires, and constantly and diligently endeavours, to be holy and righteous in the course of his life, although he doth not attain to that perfect righteousness which he thirsts after.
Correction is grievous; he hateth reproof, because it is a reproach to him, and because it strikes at that sin which he loveth.
The way; God’s way, emphatically called the way here, as also Psalms 119:1 139:24 Proverbs 2:13.
Shall die, i.e. be destroyed, both here and, for ever; which is a more grievous thing than a harsh reproof.
Destruction; put for the place of destruction, by a usual metonymy; the place and state of the damned, of which men know nothing but by Divine revelation.
The hearts; whose thoughts and affections, though they lie deep, discover themselves by outward signs and actions.
Loveth not, i.e. hateth and avoideth it; for more is here understood than is expressed, as it is Proverbs 11:21 12:3, and elsewhere.
Neither will he go unto, seek their company and conversation, as his duty and interest obligeth him, the wise, i.e. the godly, because he knows they who are so indeed will make conscience of reproving him.
The spirit; either,
1. His vital spirits. Or rather,
2. His courage and rigour, the decay whereof showeth itself in his countenance, as is implied from the former clause.
Their hearts are set upon wickedness, which is meat and drink to them.
Of the afflicted; of the troubled in mind or heart, as this general expression may very fitly be restrained from the following clause.
Are evil; tedious and uncomfortable; he takes no content in any time or thing.
Of a merry heart, Heb. of a good heart, i.e. composed, and quiet, and contented.
Hath a continual feast; hath constant satisfaction and delight in all conditions, yea, even in affliction.
The fear of the Lord, which gives a man tranquillity and comfort in what he hath.
Trouble; tumultuous lusts and passions, vexatious cares and fears, horrors of conscience, and expectation of God’s curse and judgment, which riches gotten without God’s fear do commonly produce.
Love; true friendship and kindness between those that eat together.
Stirreth up strife, because he is very apt both to give and to take all occasions of contention.
The way of the slothful man, the way in which he doth or ought to walk, any good work which he pretends or desires to undertake,
is as an hedge of thorns; as a way hedged up with thorns, as it is expressed, Hosea 2:6, troublesome and perplexed, and full, of such difficulties as he despaireth, and therefore never striveth, to overcome.
The way of the righteous, who is always diligent in his calling, which is one branch of righteousness, and therefore is fitly opposed to the slothful, who is joined with the wicked, Matthew 25:26, and censured as such both in Scripture and heathen authors, because idleness is both in itself a sin, and it leads the way to many other wickednesses.
Is made plain; is easy and pleasant to him, notwithstanding all his discouragements and difficulties.
Maketh a glad father, by giving him that honour and obedience which he oweth to him.
Despiseth his mother; whereby he maketh her sad. See Poole "Proverbs 10:1", where we have the same proverb.
Is joy; he doth not only work wickedness, but taketh pleasure in it.
Walketh uprightly, Heb. directeth or maketh straight his going, i.e. ordereth all his actions by the rule of God’s word, and delighteth in so doing, which is understood from the opposite clause.
Without counsel, when men do not seek or will not receive advice from others in weighty affairs,
purposes are disappointed; their designs are ill managed, and succeed accordingly.
In the multitude of counsellors, i.e. of wise and good counsellors, for such only deserve that name,
they are established, i.e. accomplished and brought to a good issue.
By the answer, i.e. by a wise or good and seasonable answer or advice, as is manifest, both from the opposite clause, and from the nature of the thing, because it is manifest and undeniable, that a foolish answer can be no credit nor comfort to the answerer. Thus above, Proverbs 15:10, the way is put for God’s way; and such synecdoches are frequent in Scripture.
A word spoken in due season, counsel or comfort given to another in fit time and manner,
how good is it! it is highly acceptable and useful.
The way of life is above to the wise; the way or course which a wise man taketh to preserve and obtain life, is to place his heart, and treasure, and conversation in things above, and to manage all his affairs in this world with due respect and subserviency to the happiness of a better life.
From hell beneath; or, from the lowermost hell; not from the grave, as this word is elsewhere used, for no wisdom can prevent that; but from hell properly so called, as this word is elsewhere used, as hath been formerly observed.
Of the proud; of the most mighty oppressors, who conceit themselves to be unmovably fixed.
The border; either,
1. The estate, the border being oft used for the land within the borders, as Psalms 105:31,33, and elsewhere. Or,
2. The border by which lands were then bounded and distinguished, which those proud persons endeavoured to remove contrary to God’s law, Deuteronomy 19:14 27:17.
The thoughts of the wicked; and much more their words, which express their thoughts; for thoughts are said to be free, and wicked men are seldom and but little concerned for the sins of their thoughts.
The words of the pure, which discover and proceed from their thoughts, Matthew 15:19.
Pleasant; acceptable to God, which is opposed to abomination to him.
He that is greedy of gain, that seeketh wealth by unjust courses, as appears from the opposite clause,
troubleth his own house; bringeth God’s curse and destruction upon himself and his family, whom he designed to enrich and establish.
That hateth; who refuseth them not with dissimulation, nor only from prudential reasons, but from a hearty abhorrency of all unrighteousness. Gifts, i.e. bribes given to corrupt judgment. See Exodus 18:21 23:8 Deuteronomy 16:19.
Shall live; shall preserve himself and (which is understood out of the former clause) his family from ruin.
Studieth to answer; he answers or speaks considerately and conscientiously, and therefore profitably, or to the use and edification of the hearers.
The mouth, not the heart; for he is without heart in Scripture account, and he rashly speaks what comes into his mouth, without the direction of his heart or conscience.
Evil things; foolish, and unprofitable, and hurtful speeches.
Is far from the wicked, to wit, when they pray to him, as the next clause explains, and therefore doth not hear nor regard them, as he is said to be
nigh to the righteous, Psalms 34:18 145:18. But this farness or nearness respecteth not God’s essence, which is every where, but his gracious and helpful presence.
The light of the eyes rejoiceth the heart; the light which we see with our eyes, and by the help of which we see many other pleasant objects, is a great comfort and refreshment. Compare Ecclesiastes 11:7, Truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun; which is a good comment upon this place.
A good report; either,
1. Glad tidings. Or rather,
2. A good name, which is a more lasting thing, and makes deeper impression.
Maketh the bones fat; not only cheereth a man for the present, but gives him such solid and stable comfort as doth both revive his soul, and give health and rigour to his body. So he compares two senses together, seeing and hearing, with respect to their several objects, and prefers the latter before the former.
The ear that heareth; the man that hearkeneth to it, and delights in it.
The reproof of life; that reproof and good counsel which leads to life.
Abideth among the wise, Heb. shall or will abide, &. c. Either,
1. He will thereby be made wise, and be esteemed one of that number. Or rather,
2. He seeketh and delighteth in the company and conversation of the wise, by whom he may be admonished; as, on the contrary, fools, who hate reproof, do avoid and abhor the society of wise men and reprovers, Amos 5:10.
Despiseth his own soul; which hereby he exposeth to the danger of utter destruction, whereby he shows his folly.
Getteth understanding; whereby he saveth his soul. Heb. possesseth an heart, which the Hebrews make the seat of wisdom.
Is the instruction of wisdom; doth instruct men in or lead them to true wisdom; whence it is said to be the beginning of wisdom, Proverbs 1:7 9:10.
Before honour is humility, i. e. it is the ready way to honour, both from God and from men. Humility; whereby men submit to God, and yield to men, which gains them love and respect; whereas pride procures them hatred and contempt from God and men.
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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Proverbs 15". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany