Better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, than an house full of sacrifices with strife. A wise servant shall have rule over a son that causeth shame, and shall have part of the inheritance among the brethren.
Whether it was the intention of God the Holy Ghost in this account of a wise servant to lead to Jesus, I must not presume to determine; but when I call to mind that God the Father hath put Jesus at the head of all offices, and characters, that in all things he might have the preeminence; I confess that in reading the account here given, I find my heart instinctively as it were prompted to contemplate under this character the ever-blessed Jesus. Colossians 1:18, For was not Christ Jehovah's servant? Nay, did not the gracious Lord himself stoop to become the servant of all, and take upon him the form of a servant? I am among you (said Christ) as him that serveth. Luke 22:27. And who so wise as Jesus? Who so zealous in his Father's service? Who so diligent in the accomplishment of our salvation, and in doing the work which his Father gave him to do? and hath he not rule over every son, every adopted son whose rebellion and departures from God our Father hath caused shame? Reader! hath not your unworthiness and mine caused shame? And is it not your glory now, that Jehovah's wise servant hath rule over you? Do you not delight to bow the knee to Jesus, and to confess that he is Lord, to the glory of God the Father? And hath not Jesus part in the inheritance which he himself hath purchased and recovered among the brethren? Oh! the blessedness of the thought, he is not ashamed to call them brethren: and in all that concerns them he takes part. Precious Jesus! may I delight to contemplate thee under this as well as every other tender office and character, into which thou hast condescended to put thyself. And I will say of thee as the church said, Oh! that thou wert as my brother that sucked the breasts of my mother, when I should find thee without I would kiss thee; yea, I should not be despised. I would lead thee and bring thee into my mother's house, who would instruct me. I would cause thee to drink of spiced wine of the juice of my pomegranate. Song of Solomon 8:1-2.
The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold: but the LORD trieth the hearts. A wicked doer giveth heed to false lips; and a liar giveth ear to a naughty tongue. Whoso mocketh the poor reproacheth his Maker: and he that is glad at calamities shall not be unpunished. Children's children are the crown of old men; and the glory of children are their fathers. Excellent speech becometh not a fool: much less do lying lips a prince. A gift is as a precious stone in the eyes of him that hath it: whithersoever it turneth, it prospereth. He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends. A reproof entereth more into a wise man than an hundred stripes into a fool. An evil man seeketh only rebellion: therefore a cruel messenger shall be sent against him. Let a bear robbed of her whelps meet a man, rather than a fool in his folly. Whoso rewardeth evil for good, evil shall not depart from his house. The beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water: therefore leave off contention, before it be meddled with. He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the LORD. Wherefore is there a price in the hand of a fool to get wisdom, seeing he hath no heart to it? A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
I am constrained again to pause over this verse, in which methinks I see a volume that might be made of it concerning Jesus. He is indeed both the friend and the brother. For verily (saith an apostle) he took not on him the nature of angels, but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Hebrews 2:16. As such therefore, he both belongs to our nature and is a true descendant indeed of Abraham. Hadst thou, blessed Jesus, when thou camest to redeem us come only as an angel, and in an angel's nature; though that would have been according to our view of things, staying nearer at home in point of dignity; yet in this case, though thy people still must have loved thee for thy works sake in redeeming us, if redemption could have been accomplished that way; yet surely we should not have known thee as we now know thee; neither have felt our hearts drawn as we now feel them into the sweetest of all loves, in beholding thee as our brother. Neither, dear Lord! could thy people have felt the confidence which they now feel, in coming to thee under all their multiplied wants, and the ten thousand times ten thousand occasions, which they find for thy love, and grace, and mercy, to be displayed, upon them, and thy endearing manifestations towards them. Oh! what a source of inexpressible joy doth my poor heart this moment find in this one view of Jesus, the friend that loveth at all times, and the brother born for adversity.
A man void of understanding striketh hands, and becometh surety in the presence of his friend. He loveth transgression that loveth strife: and he that exalteth his gate seeketh destruction. He that hath a froward heart findeth no good: and he that hath a perverse tongue falleth into mischief. He that begetteth a fool doeth it to his sorrow: and the father of a fool hath no joy. A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones. A wicked man taketh a gift out of the bosom to pervert the ways of judgment. Wisdom is before him that hath understanding; but the eyes of a fool are in the ends of the earth. A foolish son is a grief to his father, and bitterness to her that bare him. Also to punish the just is not good, nor to strike princes for equity. He that hath knowledge spareth his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit. Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.
It is very sweet to remark in these Proverbs what a striking contrast the wise man is perpetually drawing, between the wisdom which is from above, and the folly which is from beneath. And by thus putting both in their different shades of colouring, surely he hath adopted the most effectual method of answering the plan of teaching, by such a way as a proverb is calculated to accomplish in carrying conviction to the mind of the blessedness of the one and the sure ruin of the other; and as he saith elsewhere, while the wise shall inherit glory, shame must be the promotion of fools. Proverbs 3:35.
I PASS by, for the Reader's own improvement, the consideration of every other passage contained in this chapter, to dwell upon that heavenly character of Jesus suggested in this view of him, the friend that loveth at all times, and the brother born for adversity. Jesus was indeed peculiarly born for adversity. For had not our ruined circumstances been what they are, never surely had the Son of God any need to have been born in our nature, or have come into such an alliance with us, as a brother. But it was because our situation was desperate, because we were exposed, justly exposed to the wrath of Almighty God, as helpless as we were miserable, and beyond all the possibility, in ourselves, of doing anything towards our own recovery; it was on these accounts that Jesus stood forth as our helper. So that he was indeed born for adversity. And if he will engage for us in this high character of a Redeemer; he must (justice so requiring) put himself in our very place and circumstances; and as such he must become our brother. This therefore he hath done. And Reader! do observe how all along he hath shewn himself to be the brother eminently born for adversity. He stood in our stead, paid our whole debt, crossed the book which was full of our outstanding debts, with marks to intimate the complete payment in the red letters of his own blood; and not only purchased our lost inheritance but purchased our persons, and hath put his poor indigent brethren, of whom he is not ashamed, into such a state of affluence in his fulness, by giving them a right to all he hath, and commanding them to draw upon him for all they need. And what is it now? - but the brother and the friend still. Having loved his own that are in the world, he loveth them unto the end. Though to heaven he is returned, to take possession of his kingdom; yet he saith himself, that this is also but for them and in their name. He will come again and receive them to himself, that where he is there they shall be also. In the mean time he assures them of his spiritual presence, his watching over them for good, with his whole heart and his whole soul. Lo! (he saith) I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Hail! thou almighty friend at all times, thou brother born for adversity. Never, blessed Jesus, let my soul for a moment lose sight of thee under those endearing characters. Though I have slighted thee, forgotten thee days without number; and requited all thy love with baseness and ingratitude; still compassionate brother! do thou continue thy grace and tenderness, and overcome my unworthiness with thy love. Thou knowest my frame, thou rememberest that I am but dust. And do thou cause me by thy sweet Spirit amidst all my undeservings to be still hanging upon thee, and cleaving to thee and, like another Peter, under the siftings of Satan, and the deceitfulness of my poor sinful heart, still may I always like him be enabled to appeal to thy knowledge in testimony of my adherence to Jesus, and say as he did; Lord, thou knowest all things, thou knowest that I love thee.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Proverbs 17". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Lent