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Bible Commentaries

Sermon Bible Commentary

Proverbs 11

Verse 1

Proverbs 11:1

Our God is emphatically a God of justice. Wherever there is deceit in the world, wherever injury, wherever oppression, there is God's anger and loathing accompanying it.

I. The false balance, which is an abomination to the Lord, where do we not see it around us? Of every rank and class some, and far too many, are, and are allowed to be, and are tolerated as, men of fraud, men of mere shine workers and upholders of deceit.

II. It is obvious that we must not begin with mere practical details, if we would be right in this matter. The secret of all wrong is the false balance within the heart; the real cheating begins there. An unfair dealer has defrauded himself, before ever he defrauded another. And this is a most important consideration for all of us. Have we the balance right within? In other words, is our estimate of men and things, which guides our actions, the real and true one; or some artificial one altogether wrong, and leading us altogether wrong?

III. Were buyers honest sellers would by compulsion be honest too. If the Saviour whom we preach were really believed in by you, as having bought each of you with His own precious blood, you would be to the full as careful in this matter as any of Christ's ministers could wish you to be. The old want is still the pressing one; the old cry still the necessary one for this generation to raise in the ear of heaven, "Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me."

H. Alford, Quebec Chapel Sermons, vol. vii., p. 34.

References: Proverbs 11:1 . W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven, 1st series, p. 279. Proverbs 11:1-20.11.9 . R. Wardlaw, Lectures on Proverbs, vol. i., p. 268. Proverbs 11:2 . W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven, 1st series, p. 285.Proverbs 11:3 . Ibid., p. 288. Proverbs 11:4 . Homiletic Quarterly, vol. ii., p. 93.Proverbs 11:4 , Proverbs 11:24-20.11.28 . Sermons for Sundays, Festivals, and Fasts, 2nd series, vol. iii., p. 345.Proverbs 11:5 . Clergyman's Magazine, vol. ix., p. 157. Proverbs 11:9 . W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven, p. 290. Proverbs 11:10-20.11.17 . R. Wardlaw, Lectures on Proverbs, vol. i., p. 277.

Verse 13

Proverbs 11:13

I. A talebearer. One celebrated nation of antiquity used to express this man's character by a very significant figure. They called a talebearer a "seedpicker." There are men in the world who live by their seed-collecting: by going about here and there, from house to house, from street to street, through a town large or small, and gathering together all the little stories which can be told or made about the neighbours who are dwelling securely by them, and ignorant of the calumnies by which they are assailed.

II. A talebearer revealeth secrets. Many motives go to make up a talebearer. (1) Perhaps he is a witty man. He can intimate, rather than express, a scandal. His representations of character are pungent. His imitations, his caricatures of manner and of speech, are irresistibly comic. In society he is the life of his company. It is not till he is silent and departed perhaps not even then that you begin to feel that there has been virtually a talebearer among you, and that he has been revealing unkind secrets. (2) Or he may be a man in whose own conscience there is a sore place. He knows something against himself. He is conscious of some lurking, some secret, some bosom sin. And it is a relief to him to hope that others are not so much better than himself. He finds a solace in his wretchedness in making company for his sin. (3) There are others who cannot bear superiors. They do not like superiors in station, but superiors in character they cannot brook. Their only comfort is in a general disbelief of virtue. A ridiculous story to tell of the eminently good is to them as a draught of water to the thirsty.

III. "He that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter." He does not say what matter. But we may understand it to include two things: that which has been entrusted to him in the secrecy of confidence, and that which has become known to him to another's disparagement.

If we could part for ever with the disposition of the talebearer, we should have parted with that which, more than anything else, confuses and perplexes and embitters human life. It is the want of self-knowledge which makes us so keen-sighted. It is the want of acquaintance with Christ, as our Propitiation first, and then as our Example, which makes it possible for us to sit in the tribunal of judgment.

C. J. Vaughan, Lessons of Life and Godliness, p. 1.

References: Proverbs 11:13 . W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven, 1st series, p. 292.Proverbs 11:15 . Ibid., p. 294.Proverbs 11:16 . Preacher's Monthly, vol. vi., p. 128. Proverbs 11:17 . W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven, 1st series, p. 303.Proverbs 11:18 . Ibid., p. 305.Proverbs 11:18-20.11.23 . R. Wardlaw, Lectures on Proverbs, vol. i., p. 287. Proverbs 11:19 , Proverbs 11:21 . H. Armstrong Hall, Clergyman's Magazine, vol. xiii., p. 271.Proverbs 11:20 . W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven, 1st series, p. 307; J. H. Evans, Thursday Penny Pulpit, vol. xi., p. 281.

Verse 21

Proverbs 11:21

The one peculiar and characteristic sin of the world is this, that whereas God would have us live for the life to come, the world would make us live for this life. It takes, as the main scope of human exertion, an end which God forbids, and consequently all that it does becomes evil, because directed to a wrong end.

Men seem made for this world; this is what prevails on them to neglect the next world; they think they have reason for concluding that this world is the world for which they are to labour, and to which they are to devote their faculties.

I. There are a number of faculties and talents which seem only to exist in this world, and to be impossible in another. Our aim, men say, must be an aim of this life, our end of action must be in this world, because our talents point that way.

II. Another consideration of the same kind is the existence of national character. This seems to them to be a providential mark of what the world is intended to be. One nation is manly, and another is brave but cruel, and a third is sagacious, and a fourth is energetic and busy. These, then, it is argued, are the qualities of mind for which this life is intended. Religion is for the next world, not for this.

III. Men generally apply this argument to the case of individuals. They go into the world, and they find individuals of this or that character, and not religious; and hence they argue that religion is but a theory, because it is not on the face of society.

IV. Another consideration which the world urges in its warfare against religion is that religion is unnatural. It is objected that religion does not bring the elementary and existing nature of man to its highest perfection, but thwarts and impairs it, and provides for a second and new nature.

V. The strongest argument which the world uses in its favour is the actual success of its experiment in cultivating the natural faculties of body and mind: for success seems a fresh mark of God's will, over and above the tendencies of nature. Men may or may not have the fear of God before their eyes, yet they seem to go on equally well either way. Let anyone betake himself to the world, and go through but one day in it, and he will understand what this argument is which the very face of society presents, namely, that religion is not needed for the world, and therefore is of no great importance.

Let us leave the world, manifold and various as it is; let us leave it to follow its own devices, and let us turn to the living and true God, who has revealed Himself to us in Jesus Christ. So that when the end comes, and the multitudes who have joined hands in evil are punished, we may be of those who, in the words of the text, are "delivered."

J. H. Newman, Sermons on Subjects of the Day, p. 78.

References: Proverbs 11:21 . E. White, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxvi., p. 11.Proverbs 11:22 . W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven, 1st series, p. 308. Proverbs 11:23 . Ibid., p. 312.Proverbs 11:24 . Parker, City Temple, vol. i., p. 37; W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven, 1st series, p. 315; Clergyman's Magazine, vol. iii., p. 161.Proverbs 11:24-20.11.31 . R. Wardlaw, Lectures on Proverbs, vol. i., p. 295.

Verse 25

Proverbs 11:25

I. The theory can be submitted to a practical test.

II. All true getting is based upon true giving.

III. Self-care is self-defeat. We must work for others if we would be truly blessed ourselves.

Parker, City Temple, vol. i., p. 61.

References: Proverbs 11:25 . Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xi., No. 626, and Morning by Morning, p. 234; W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven, 1st series, p. 319; Bishop Thorold, Clergyman's Magazine, vol. xxi., p. 20; Ibid., vol. i., p. 94.Proverbs 11:26 . W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven, 1st series, p. 323; Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xi., No. 642.Proverbs 11:28 . W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven, 1st series, p. 327.

Verse 30

Proverbs 11:30

I. The true Christian is not satisfied to watch and work for his own salvation, but he remembers the souls of others also. Every soul won for Christ is a token of His favour. The success of our efforts proves that we have used the right means in the right way, so that the planting and the watering of the human agency has been crowned by the Divine Spirit with an abundant increase.

II. The text contains a significant hint as to the mode of carrying on this blessed work. "He that winneth souls is wise." The Christian is to do good, not by force or harshness, but by gentle persuasion and persevering kindness. To win, as in a game, implies skill in adapting the means to the end.

III. He who would be successful in winning souls to Christ must be (1) considerate and thoughtful; (2) he must have courage; (3) tender, unaffected sympathy.

J. N. Norton, Every Sunday, p. 418.

References: Proverbs 11:30 . J. Sherman, Thursday Penny Pulpit, vol. xiii., p. 373; New Manual of Sunday School Addresses, pp. 148, 151, 154, 158; Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xv., No. 850, and vol. xxii., No. 1292; W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven, 1st series, p. 333; Preacher's Monthly, vol. vi., p. 346; E. Medley, Christian World Pulpit, vol. ii., p. 289; J. Morgan, Ibid., vol. xv., p. 334.

Verse 31

Proverbs 11:31

I. God is impartial. He is no respecter of persons, but causing His sun to shine on the evil and the good, and His rain to fall on the just and on the unjust; and so rewarding every man according to his work, paying him for all work done, of whatever kind it may be. Some work for this world, which we do see, and God gives them what they earn in this life; some work for the world above, which we cannot see, and God gives them what they earn in this life for ever and ever likewise. If a man wishes for treasure on earth he can have it if he will, and enjoy it as long as it lasts. If a man wishes for treasure in heaven he can have it too, and enjoy it as long as it lasts. God deals fairly with both, and pays both what they have earned.

II. Those who long for sanctification and desire to be holy, even as their Father in heaven is perfect, are they that have treasure in heaven. But how are such souls recompensed in the earth? Is not a man recompensed in the earth whenever he can lift up his heart unto the Lord, and behold His glory above all the earth? The world of man looks brighter to him then, in spite of all his sins and sorrows; for he sees the Lord ruling it, the Lord forgiving it, the Lord saving it. He takes heart and hope for the poor earth and says, "The earth is not deserted; mankind is not without a Father, a Saviour, a Teacher, a King." Just in proportion as a man walks with God, just in proportion as the eyes of his soul are opened by the Spirit of God, he recovers the privilege which Adam lost when he fell. He hears the Word of the Lord walking among the trees of the garden in the cool of the day, and instead of trying, like guilty Adam, to hide himself from his Maker, answers with reverence and yet with joy: "Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth."

C. Kingsley, All Saints' Day and Other Sermons, p. 265.

References: Proverbs 12:1 . W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven, 1st series, p. 336. Proverbs 12:4 . Ibid., p. 340; Preacher's Monthly, vol. vi., p. 128. Proverbs 12:10 . W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven, 1st series, p. 343.Proverbs 12:13 . Ibid., p. 345.Proverbs 12:20-20.12.28 . R. Wardlaw, Lectures on Proverbs, vol. i., p. 324.

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Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Proverbs 11". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/sbc/proverbs-11.html.