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Better is the poor that walketh in his integrity, than he that is perverse in his lips, and is a fool. Also, that the soul be without knowledge, it is not good; and he that hasteth with his feet sinneth. The foolishness of man perverteth his way: and his heart fretteth against the LORD. Wealth maketh many friends; but the poor is separated from his neighbour. A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall not escape. Many will intreat the favour of the prince: and every man is a friend to him that giveth gifts. All the brethren of the poor do hate him: how much more do his friends go far from him? he pursueth them with words, yet they are wanting to him. He that getteth wisdom loveth his own soul: he that keepeth understanding shall find good. A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall perish.
I pause over this last verse particularly, to remark to the Reader that there must be somewhat more than of ordinary importance in it, it being the repetition of the same sentiment as was just before delivered, only with stronger marks of the awful sin of which it treats. Both the Writer and the Reader may well pause over these solemn expressions, and consider the very solemn meaning. A false witness is the very reverse of Christ, the faithful and true witness. Revelation 1:5 . And therefore it may serve to shew what an awful state those men are in, who are found witnessing to lies, to anything, and everything, in a way of religion, short of Christ and his salvation. The Holy Ghost witnesseth wholly of Jesus. He shall testify of me, saith Christ. John 15:26 . And how doth he do this? He shews to the sinner the evil of his way, he testifieth that Christ only can deliver the soul from going down to the pit; he points to the blood and righteousness of Jesus as the only possible means of salvation, and he sets to his seal in the heart of the regenerate, that there is salvation in no other; neither is there any other name under heaven, given among men, whereby they must be saved. Acts 4:12 . And what then must those be but false witnesses, that would direct a sinner to any other Saviour; or would tempt the heart to believe that partly in ourselves and partly in Christ we are to seek acceptance? Lord! in compassion to perishing sinners, send forth faithful men to be witnesses for God and his Christ. Jeremiah 3:15 .
Delight is not seemly for a fool; much less for a servant to have rule over princes. The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression. The king's wrath is as the roaring of a lion; but his favour is as dew upon the grass.
Of what king doth the scriptures here speak but of Jesus? Of his wrath we have a striking account, Psalms 2:12 . And both the wrath of the Lamb, and the lion of the tribe of Judah, are characters under which Jesus is spoken of. Revelation 5:5-6 See a most striking description. Revelation 6:12-17 .
A foolish son is the calamity of his father: and the contentions of a wife are a continual dropping. House and riches are the inheritance of fathers: and a prudent wife is from the LORD. Slothfulness casteth into a deep sleep; and an idle soul shall suffer hunger. He that keepeth the commandment keepeth his own soul; but he that despiseth his ways shall die. He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again. Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying. A man of great wrath shall suffer punishment: for if thou deliver him, yet thou must do it again. Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end. There are many devices in a man's heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand. The desire of a man is his kindness: and a poor man is better than a liar. The fear of the LORD tendeth to life: and he that hath it shall abide satisfied; he shall not be visited with evil. A slothful man hideth his hand in his bosom, and will not so much as bring it to his mouth again. Smite a scorner, and the simple will beware: and reprove one that hath understanding, and he will understand knowledge. He that wasteth his father, and chaseth away his mother, is a son that causeth shame, and bringeth reproach. Cease, my son, to hear the instruction that causeth to err from the words of knowledge. An ungodly witness scorneth judgment: and the mouth of the wicked devoureth iniquity. Judgments are prepared for scorners, and stripes for the back of fools.
I do not wish to swell the commentary for the reasons before given. And indeed if the Reader be under divine teaching, this will supersede all observations of mine. But I hope he will find in all these verses, more or less, somewhat to lead his mind to Christ, and in Christ to find the truest application.
I TAKE occasion from what this chapter hath suggested of a false witness, to admonish the Reader, while I pray for grace to receive at the same time in my own heart, the full admonition; to be always upon our watch-tower for the faithful and true Witness concerning Jesus; even God the Holy Ghost, who is to bring all things to our remembrance, whatsoever Christ hath taught us.
And Reader! it is most blessed and refreshing to a seeking soul to mark the footsteps of his coming. For he comes to us in the Son's name from the Father, to propose to us, not in proverbs only, but in the plain words of God, the gracious proclamation of pardon, mercy, and peace in the blood of the cross. He not only proposeth to us these mercies, but he disposeth the heart to receive what he brings. He not only shews us the loveliness and suitableness of the Saviour; but he inclineth the soul to see and feel the want of him, and to seek salvation in his blood. And when by his grace he hath powerfully pleaded in our conscience for Christ, and against ourselves; in shewing how gracious Jesus is, and how unworthy we are; how very suited he is to us, and how suited we are to him; he puts a cry into our hearts in leading us to the throne of grace, where we may find mercy and grace to help in every time of need. Reader! do suffer me to ask you, hath the Holy Ghost thus witnessed in your heart? Oh! for grace not to grieve the Holy Spirit of the Lord, whereby souls are sealed unto the day of redemption. Lord! grant that my soul may have this faithful Teacher witnessing with my spirit that I am a child of God. Keep me, Lord, from every false witness, convinced that this chapter twice hath marked it down, that the end of it is death.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Proverbs 19". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany