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A wise son heareth his father's instruction: but a scorner heareth not rebuke. A man shall eat good by the fruit of his mouth: but the soul of the transgressors shall eat violence. He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life: but he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction. The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat. A righteous man hateth lying: but a wicked man is loathsome, and cometh to shame. Righteousness keepeth him that is upright in the way: but wickedness overthroweth the sinner. There is that maketh himself rich, yet hath nothing: there is that maketh himself poor, yet hath great riches.
I pause at this last verse to ask the Reader if he hath marked the striking difference between the one here spoken of, as making himself rich, while poor; and the other, who having great riches, yet hath made himself poor. Every eye that reads what is here said, and looks into the world, may be struck with the application, when he seeth thousands like the church of the Laodiceans, fancying themselves rich, and increased with goods, and having need of nothing, while ignorant that they are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked. Revelation 3:17-66.3.18 . In the spiritual sense of these words, (and it is in this sense that they are evidently spoken) what multiplied instances are every day occurring. But, Reader! passing for the moment the consideration of such characters by, you cannot need, I should hope, any help to enable you to discover one most eminently represented in the character of making himself poor, while possessing great riches: Must not every eye be directed instantly to the contemplation of the precious Jesus? Who but He hath ever so humbled himself, and manifested a lowliness of soul like him? Ye know, saith Paul to the Corinthian church, ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet, for your sakes, he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich. 2 Corinthians 8:9 . And what another lovely account to the same effect is that passage of Paul, Philippians 2:5-50.2.11 . But, Reader! do not pass over the verse, until that you have questioned your own heart, whether the conscious sense of Jesus's unequalled humbleness, and his immense treasure, hath brought your soul in love with him? Hath he blessed you with such views of him, as to delight in him; such views as to desire him, and such views as to choose him for your portion?
The ransom of a man's life are his riches: but the poor heareth not rebuke. The light of the righteous rejoiceth: but the lamp of the wicked shall be put out. Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom. Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished: but he that gathereth by labour shall increase. Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.
Surely Christ is the hope of Israel, and if he who is the hope of Israel deferreth his visits to a sin-sick soul, that soul will languish? He is also the desire of all nations, and must be the desire of every truly, awakened heart, and when he cometh, he is indeed the tree of life in the paradise of God. Oh! what a verse of Christ and his fulness, suitableness, and blessedness is here? Jeremiah 14:8 ; Haggai 2:7 ; Revelation 22:2 .
Whoso despiseth the word shall be destroyed: but he that feareth the commandment shall be rewarded. The law of the wise is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death. Good understanding giveth favour: but the way of transgressors is hard. Every prudent man dealeth with knowledge: but a fool layeth open his folly. A wicked messenger falleth into mischief: but a faithful ambassador is health. Poverty and shame shall be to him that refuseth instruction: but he that regardeth reproof shall be honoured. The desire accomplished is sweet to the soul: but it is abomination to fools to depart from evil. He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.
Several blessed things are within these verses. The Wicked messenger, and the faithful ambassador: what a contrast for those who minister in the church of Christ to ponder over. The consideration of walking with the wise, and the awfulness of being the companion of fools, what volumes are contained in those short, but striking sentences for all to consider. Precious Jesus! Make all thy servants faithful! Keep thy saints from dangerous society. Be it my portion, Lord, to walk with thee!
Evil pursueth sinners: but to the righteous good shall be repayed. A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children's children: and the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just. Much food is in the tillage of the poor: but there is that is destroyed for want of judgment. He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes. The righteous eateth to the satisfying of his soul: but the belly of the wicked shall want.
Lord, impress all thy ponderous truths upon my soul, and give me to search for thee in all thy word, as for hidden treasure.
READER! amidst many sweet and blessed things which this chapter furnisheth for improvement in reflection, I feel my mind particularly led to contemplate yet more the grace of our Jesus, in his wonderful condescension as here expressed, in making himself poor, when possessed of all the riches of heaven and earth. There is somewhat in this view of Christ, extremely engaging; and when connected with that view, we consider the cause and design of it, surely it holdeth out one of the most delightful subjects the human mind is capable of contemplating.
Jesus, though Lord of all, made himself servant of all: and went on in a continued series of humiliation, until that he humbled himself unto the accursed death of the cross. So that it was grace in all his actions; grace in his first design, and grace in every purpose. And what an everlasting revenue of love, praise, and glory, must result from such acts of beneficence!
But, Reader! as an improvement from this view of Jesus, think what on opposition to this loveliness of Christ, must be the self-righteous; and if Christ be so truly amiable in this condescension, how truly unamiable must be the proud in his own self-importance! There is that maketh himself rich, and yet hath nothing. To be nothing is bad enough: and yet it is to be worse than nothing, when a man fancieth himself he is something, when in reality he is nothing. To be poor indeed in good works, and without holiness before God; and yet talking of our good works and holiness: to be blind to our own sin, and blind to Christ and his righteousness; and yet confident of our own worth; and fancying we have no great need of a Saviour: to be naked of all spiritual-cloathing to appear in before God; and yet taking to ourselves a covering, but not of God's Spirit. - Reader! I pray you pause: can there be upon the face of the earth a more pitiable character? To have the spots of death upon us, and yet unconscious that we are sick. Oh! that souls in this state would hear, and attend to the blessed words of Christ. I counsel thee (saith Jesus) to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich: and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye-salve, that thou mayest see. Precious Jesus! thou, who givest this counsel, give grace also to follow it!
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Proverbs 13". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany