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Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise. The fear of a king is as the roaring of a lion: whoso provoketh him to anger sinneth against his own soul. It is an honour for a man to cease from strife: but every fool will be meddling. The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; therefore shall he begin harvest, and have nothing. Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water; but a man of understanding will draw it out. Most men will proclaim everyone his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?
When the question is asked, where a faithful man is to be found, the answer is direct. There is a friend that loveth at all times, and a brother born for adversity. Proverbs 17:17 . Precious Jesus! thou art indeed a friend, for thou hast shewn thyself most friendly.
The just man walketh in his integrity: his children are blessed after him. A king that sitteth in the throne of judgment scattereth away all evil with his eyes. Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?
Pause, Reader, over this solemn inquiry. Who can say this? No man. But every man ought to say, cleanse thou me, 0 Lord, from secret faults. Psalms 19:12 .
Divers weights, and divers measures, both of them are alike abomination to the LORD. Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right. The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the LORD hath made even both of them.
What a sweet thought ariseth out of this account, that it is the Lord who hath given sight to the eyes, and hearing to the ears. And was not Jesus anointed by the Spirit to preach the gospel to the poor, to heal the broken in heart, and to give sight to the blind. Isaiah 61:1 ; Luke 4:18-19 .
Love not sleep, lest thou come to poverty; open thine eyes, and thou shalt be satisfied with bread. It is naught, it is naught, saith the buyer: but when he is gone his way, then he boasteth. There is gold, and a multitude of rubies: but the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel. Take his garment that is surety for a stranger: and take a pledge of him for a strange woman. Bread of deceit is sweet to a man; but afterwards his mouth shall be filled with gravel. Every purpose is established by counsel: and with good advice make war. He that goeth about as a talebearer revealeth secrets: therefore meddle not with him that flattereth with his lips. Whoso curseth his father or his mother, his lamp shall be put out in obscure darkness. An inheritance may be gotten hastily at the beginning; but the end thereof shall not be blessed. Say not thou, I will recompense evil; but wait on the LORD, and he shall save thee. Divers weights are an abomination unto the LORD; and a false balance is not good. Man's goings are of the LORD; how can a man then understand his own way?
Nothing can be more important to know, nor needful to have a right conception of, than that all our mercies, both in preparation work and in performing work, are of the Lord. It is not in man that walketh to direct his steps. Jeremiah 10:23 . And of all the blessed lessons that by grace we are taught, this is among them, that our inability is discovered, and the expediency of receiving strength from the Lord as clearly made known.
It is a snare to the man who devoureth that which is holy, and after vows to make enquiry. A wise king scattereth the wicked, and bringeth the wheel over them. The spirit of man is the candle of the LORD, searching all the inward parts of the belly. Mercy and truth preserve the king: and his throne is upholden by mercy. The glory of young men is their strength: and the beauty of old men is the gray head. The blueness of a wound cleanseth away evil: so do stripes the inward parts of the belly.
Under the various images here represented, the wise man aims to en force the infinite importance of the maxims he had been setting forth, and the happiness of those that follow them.
I hope that the Reader is perpetually gathering sweet instructions from this part of the word of God; and in nothing more so, than in the discovery of his own incompetency to enter far into the apprehension of divine things. Among the improvements of grace this is eminent, to learn, the further we go, the more of our ignorance. If at any time we do not find the sweet savour in the reading of the scriptures as heretofore, the consciousness of past enjoyments ought to become the excitement to future expectations.
If we have known the name of Christ to have been precious the sweet savour of his name ought to leave a fragrancy now; like some rich perfume, which though the thing itself be taken away, the effects remain. And though we see Christ not, yet former experiences should quicken present desires. Man's goings (Solomon saith in this chapter) are of the Lord. Am I waiting for some renewed visit from Christ? Am I longing for his return, expecting him, on the lookout for him? Is not this very frame the state in which Jesus prepares his people for the renewals of his love? Nay, is there not in this very desire and expectation of his coming even a present enjoyment in that desire and expectation? Surely all these worketh that one and the self same spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. Blessed Lord! grant me a sweet savour of past enjoyments, in the absence of present communion; and when I have no immediate view of thy glory, and the sweet communications of thy love; still let my prayer, awakened by thy grace, be the prayer of the church; draw me and we will run after thee until thou shalt bring me into thy chambers.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Proverbs 20". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany