Proverbs 29:1. He that being often reproved — Who having received frequent reproofs from wise and good men, and perhaps also chastisements from God; hardeneth his neck — Remains incorrigible, and obstinately persists in those sins for which he is reproved and corrected; shall suddenly be destroyed — Is in danger of falling, and that on a sudden, into utter and irreparable ruin.
Proverbs 29:2. When the righteous are in authority — The Hebrew word here used signifies to increase, either in number, or in dignity and power, but it appears from the opposite clause that the latter is intended in this place. The people rejoice — For the blessed effects of their good government; but when the wicked beareth rule — When an ungodly man governs; the people mourn — For the oppressions and mischiefs which they feel, and for the dreadful judgments of God, which they justly fear.
Proverbs 29:4. The king by judgment — By the free and impartial exercise of justice; establisheth the land — Restores his kingdom to a firm and good state, though it might before be in great disorder; but he that receiveth gifts — Hebrew, אישׁ תרומות, a man of oblations, or gifts, whose delight and common practice it is to take bribes and sell justice; overthroweth it —
Subverts it utterly, though it might before be never so well settled.
Proverbs 29:5-6. A man that flattereth his neighbour — That praiseth, or applaudeth, another in a sinful state or practice; spreadeth a net for his feet — Kills him under a pretence of kindness; is an occasion of his sin, and consequently of his destruction, which possibly he might design to accomplish by that means. In the transgression of an evil man there is a snare — His sin will bring him to dreadful horrors and certain ruin. But the righteous doth sing and rejoice — Because he hath sweet peace in his own conscience, and an assurance of present safety and eternal happiness.
Proverbs 29:7. The righteous — Whether magistrate, or any private person, concerned to know it, and capable of helping him in it; considereth the cause of the poor — His poverty neither hinders him from taking pains to examine it, nor from a righteous determination of it; but the wicked regardeth not to know — Will not put himself to the trouble of searching it out, either because it yields him no profit, or because he resolves to give away the poor man’s right.
Proverbs 29:8. Scornful men — That mock at religion, the obligations of conscience, the fears of another world, and every thing that is sacred and serious; who when employed in the business of the state do things with precipitation, because they scorn to deliberate and take time for consultation; who do things illegal and unjustifiable, because they scorn to be bound and shackled by laws and constitutions; who provoke the people, because they scorn to please them; bring a city into a snare — Expose it to God’s wrath, and to destruction, by their self-conceit and wilfulness, by their wicked counsels and practices, whereby they seduce and infect the generality of the people; by their contempt of God, of his just laws and righteous judgments, and of the opinion and advice of wise men; but wise men — Who do not scorn, but hearken to, the counsels of God, and of prudent men; turn away wrath — The wrath of God or of men, who were enraged against it.
Proverbs 29:9. If a wise man contendeth with a foolish man — Debating any matter with him, or endeavouring to convince him of any error; whether he — The wise man, rage (is angry) or laugh — That is, whether he deal sharply and severely with him: rebuking him for his folly, or mildly and pleasantly, smiling at it; there is no rest — No end or fruit of the debate; the fool will not be satisfied nor convinced. Thus Bishop Patrick: “Let a man be never so wise, it is to no purpose for him to dispute, or to enter into any contest with an obstinate fool; for which way soever he deal with him, whether roughly or gently, whether angrily or pleasantly, there will be no end of the controversy; but the fool will still have the last word; nay, it is well if he do not either restlessly rage, or laugh one to scorn.” Houbigant takes this verse in a somewhat different sense, reading, A wise man contending in judgment with a foolish man, whether he is provoked or derided, remains unmoved; a translation which the Hebrew will very well bear.
Proverbs 29:10. The blood-thirsty hate the upright — And consequently seek their ruin, as may be inferred from the following clause; but the just seek his soul — To preserve it. Schultens renders this verse, Bloody men hate the upright, and seek the life of the just.
Proverbs 29:11-12. A fool uttereth all his mind — All at once, unnecessarily, unseasonably, without reservation or caution; but a wise man keepeth it in till afterward — Till he have a fit occasion to express it. If a ruler hearken to lies — Delight in flatteries or calumnies, or any lying words, or deceitful and wicked practices; all his servants are wicked — Because, perhaps, he chooseth only such for his service: or, rather, because they are either corrupted by his example, or engaged by their place and interest to please him, and comply with his base desires and humours.
Proverbs 29:13. The poor and the deceitful man — Hebrew, אישׁ תככים, the man of deceits, or of usuries; that is, who hath enriched himself by such practices; meet together — Converse together, and one needeth the other; the Lord lighteneth both their eyes — Either their bodily eyes, namely, with the light of the sun, which promiscuously shines upon both; or the eyes of their minds, with the light of reason, which he indifferently gives them; and therefore the one should not envy or despise the other, but they should be ready to do good to one another, as God does good to both. The LXX. read, The usurer and debtor meet together; the Lord has the oversight of them both. “The world is made up,” says Bishop Patrick, “of several sorts of men; of poor, for instance, who are fain to borrow; and of rich, who lend them money, and, perhaps, oppress them; but these would all agree well enough when they meet together, if they would but consider that there is one Lord, who makes the sun to shine equally on all; and who intends all should live happily, though in an unequal condition.”
Proverbs 29:14. The king that faithfully judgeth the poor — And the rich too; but he names the poor, because these are much oppressed and injured by others, and least regarded by princes, and yet committed to their more especial care by the King of kings.
Proverbs 29:15. The rod and reproof give wisdom — Correction and instruction going together; but a child left to himself — Suffered to follow his own will without restraint and chastening; bringeth his mother to shame — And father too, but he names only the mother, either because her indulgence often spoils the child, or because children commonly stand least in awe of their mothers, and abuse the weakness of their sex, and tenderness of their nature.
Proverbs 29:16. When the wicked are multiplied — Or rather, are advanced, or in authority, as the word ברבות, is understood, Proverbs 29:2; transgression increaseth — Sin and sinners abound, and grow impudent by impunity, and the example and encouragement of such rulers. But the righteous shall see their fall — The destruction of such transgressors in due time.
Proverbs 29:18. Where there is no vision — That is, no prophecy, the prophets being anciently called seers; no public preaching of God’s word, called prophecy, Romans 12:6; 1 Corinthians 14:4, &c. Where the people are destitute of the means of instruction; the people perish — Because they want the chief means of salvation; but he that keepeth the law — He does not say, he that hath the law, or he that hath vision, which the rules of opposition to the preceding clause might have given us reason to expect he would have said, but he that keepeth it; to teach us, that although the want of God’s word may be sufficient for men’s destruction, yet the mere having and hearing, or reading of it, is not sufficient for their salvation, unless they also keep, or obey it.
Proverbs 29:19. A servant, &c. — “A slave, and he who is of a servile nature, is not to be amended by reason or persuasion: no, nor by reproofs or threats; for though he hear, and understand too, what you say, yet he will not obey, till he be forced into it by punishment of his disobedience.” The LXX. read, οικετης σκληρος, a stubborn, or obstinate servant will not, &c.
Proverbs 29:20. Seest thou a man hasty in his words — Or rather, in his business; who is rash and heady in the management of his affairs? There is more hope of a fool — Who is sensible of his folly, and willing to hearken to the advice of others, than of him — Because he is self-confident, and neither considers things seriously within himself, nor seeks counsel from the wise.
Proverbs 29:21. He that delicately bringeth up his servant, &c. — Allowing him too much freedom and familiarity; shall have him become his son — Will find him, at last, grow insolent, and forgetful of his servile condition.
Proverbs 29:23. A man’s pride shall bring him low — Because both God and men conspire against him; but honour shall uphold the humble — Or, as others render it, without any difference in the sense, the humble in spirit shall hold their honour, shall be honoured by God and men. Thus honour, like a shadow, flees from them that pursue it, and follows them who flee from it.
Proverbs 29:24. Whoso is partner with a thief — By receiving a share of stolen goods, upon condition of his concealing the theft; hateth his own soul — Acts as if he hated it; for he wounds and destroys it; he heareth cursing — He heareth the voice of swearing, as is said Leviticus 5:1; namely, the oath given to him by a judge, adjuring him, and other suspected persons, to give information concerning it; and bewrayeth it not — Which he was bound to do for the public good. The Vulgate reads, adjurantem audit, et non indicat: he hears him who adjures him, but will not declare. Dr. Waterland renders the clause, he is adjured and yet makes no discovery.
Proverbs 29:25. The fear of man — Inordinate fear of harm or suffering from men, which is properly opposed to trust in God, because it arises from a distrust of God’s promises and providence; bringeth a snare — Is an occasion of many sins, and consequently of punishments from God: but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord — Walks in God’s ways, and securely relies upon him, to protect him from the designs and malice of wicked men; shall be safe — Shall be preserved from all real evil, through God’s watchful providence over him.
Proverbs 29:26. Many seek the ruler’s favour — Men study to please their rulers, and to ensure their favour, by their obliging behaviour, humble petitions, and various other means, supposing that to be the only way to procure either right or preferment; but every man’s judgment cometh from the Lord — The decision of his cause, and the success of all his endeavours, depend wholly upon God, who rules and inclines the minds and hearts of princes and governors, as well as of other men, as it pleaseth him.
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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Proverbs 29". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
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