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From this chapter to the five-and-twentieth, are sundry observations upon moral virtues, and their contrary vices.
Proverbs 10:1. The proverbs of Solomon— Here properly the book of Proverbs begins: What has gone before is a kind of preface or introduction to the work. Solomon has exhorted his disciple to the study of wisdom, by the most interesting motives; the beauty, the utility, the necessity of wisdom. He has shewn him the dangers which they run who neglect it: he has cautioned him against debauchery and libertinism. After this he comes to those moral sentences which were his principal design. See the introductory note to this book. There is a great variety in these sentences; which are generally delivered by way of antithesis; i.e. comparing opposites one with another. No great connexion is to be expected in them; their instruction is various and extensive, almost every verse being a lesson by itself. Bishop Hall has been at great pains to digest and methodize these proverbs, which he has done under the heads of ethics, politics, and economics. See the first volume of his works, p. 181.
A wise son maketh a glad father— This first sentence seems not to have been casually set forth in the front of the rest; because nothing contributes so much to the happiness of mankind, as a religious care about the education of children; which parents are here admonished to attend to, if they desire their children should not prove a grief and shame to them. Lord Bacon thinks that the gladness and heaviness which are in fathers and mothers, according as their children prove good or bad, are here so accurately distinguished by Solomon, that he would represent a wise and well-governed son, to be chiefly a comfort to the father, who knows the value of wisdom better perhaps than the mother (which account the Hebrews also give of this matter), and therefore rejoices more at the towardliness of his son; which he not only better understands, but has taken perhaps so much care about his education, that the good fruits of it give him a greater joy than they can do to the mother. She, on the other side, is more grieved and discomforted at the calamity of the son; both because the affection of a mother is more soft and tender, and perhaps because she may be conscious to herself that by too much indulgence she hath tainted and corrupted his tender years. See Advancement of Learning, book 8: cap. 2.
Proverbs 10:2. Righteousness delivereth from death— The meaning seems to be, that justice, holiness, and virtue, constitute the true riches of a man; which, whosoever is wise enough to lay up, procures to himself an impregnable asylum. See chap. Pro 11:4 and Schultens. Le Clerc thinks that righteousness means innocence; which being once proved, the person falsely accused will be cleared. The reader will observe, that in this, as in the other poetical books of Scripture, the hemistichs correspond each to the other; and an attention to this will serve greatly to elucidate a variety of passages.
Proverbs 10:6. But violence covereth the mouth of the wicked— But his own cruel violence shall cover the mouth of the wicked. That is, "The curses, imprecations, and other violence which the wicked vomit forth, shall redound upon their own mouth, and shall overwhelm them with all confusion." See Proverbs 10:11. Schultens. Houbigant renders it, Contempt shall cover the face of the wicked.
Proverbs 10:7. The memory of the just is blessed— Eusebius observes, that Plato has transferred this observation into his seventh book of laws; concerning which Lord Bacon makes the following remarks in the place quoted; "That the name of good men, after envy is extinguished, which cropped the blossom of their fame while they were alive, presently shoots up and flourisheth, and their praises generally increase in strength and vigour; but for wicked men, though their fame, through the partial favour of friends and of men of their own faction, may last for a little time, a detestation of their name springs up not long after; and at last those vanishing praises end in infamy, and, like bodies which putrify, expire in a filthy and noisome odour."
Proverbs 10:8. The wise in heart will receive commandments— He who is wise in heart, will receive the commandment; he who has foolish lips, will stubbornly refuse it. Houbigant.
Proverbs 10:10. But a prating fool shall fall— We have remarked in a former note, that these proverbs consist of hemistichs, the second of which, an ingenious writer observes, farther strengthens and illustrates the first, either by its contrariety or connexion: but what contrariety or connexion is there between these hemistichs? In the Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic versions, we find the first beautifully illustrated by an antithesis in the second:
He that winketh with the eye causeth sorrow, But he that reproveth freely worketh safety.
Maxims worthy of Solomon. When a man connives at his friend's failings, either silently upholding, or deceitfully applauding his unworthy actions, the offender is encouraged to sin on, and heap up matter for very sorrowful reflections afterwards; but the man who, with an honest freedom, prudently reproves him, most effectually contrives his honour and safety. See Kennicott's Dissert. vol. 1 and Houbigant's note on the place.
Proverbs 10:12. Love covereth all sins— St. Peter appears to have had this passage in view, Ephesians 1:0 chap. Proverbs 4:8. See the note on that place, and Bishop Sherlock's Discourses, vol. 3: disc. 6.
Proverbs 10:14. Wise men lay up knowledge— That is, says Schultens, wise men keep secretly reposed within them the knowledge of any business or affairs wherewith they are entrusted: but the mouth of the foolish, incapable of retaining any secret, occasions ruin to himself and to those who have any concerns with him. Others think the meaning is, that wise men do not hastily and ostentatiously discover all they know. But the foolish, full of precipitation and temerity in their discourse, expose themselves and others to all the dangers of a prattling tongue. We ought to think more than we speak: nature has given us two eyes and two ears, and only one tongue; Nam nunquam tacuisse nocet, nocet esse locutum. See Calmet.
Proverbs 10:17. He is in the way of life, &c.— He is in the way of life who observeth discipline. Houbigant and Schultens. The LXX read, Instruction or discipline keepeth the way of life.
Proverbs 10:18. He that hideth hatred, &c.— The LXX read, Honest lips hide hatred; but they who utter reproaches, are the greatest fools; and the Syriac, The lips of the wicked hide hatred; and he that uttereth a curse is a fool. Nothing more easy than to conceal malice. Dissembling, which is lying, does it very securely; it will be long before it be discovered; and the uttering, the transmitting a slander, makes no such present noise that the author may be discerned; yet, with all his craft, he is but a fool, and wants sense as well as honesty. He will find that he is observed by One who can order him to be repaid in his own coin, and set a more wicked person than himself over him, to prepare a condemnation for him before he is judged or heard: as he loved calumnies, and delighted in obloquies and lies, so they shall cover him as a garment, and hide the little good which is in him from the eyes of all men. To make his misery complete, he shall find none to pity him; and when his calumny is at the highest, all who knew him shall think it less than he deserved: his posterity shall inherit his infamy; and his sin and his punishment shall be kept in remembrance from generation to generation.
Proverbs 10:20. Is little worth— The LXX read, shall fail; the Syriac, is gall; and the Chaldee, is contrition: but Schultens seems to have hit upon the right interpretation. He renders it, is like dross. As the tongue of the just is compared to choice silver, so the heart of the wicked is compared to dross, or the basest refuse of metals. See chap. Proverbs 25:4.Isaiah 1:22; Isaiah 1:22.
Proverbs 10:21. The lips of the righteous feed many— i.e. Instruct many: and so it is rendered in several of the versions.
Proverbs 10:22. The blessing of the Lord, &c.— The blessing of the Lord procureth riches, and giveth not sorrow as a companion with them. Houbigant.
Proverbs 10:23. But a man of understanding hath wisdom— But a prudent man restrains himself: Frenatio adest viro prudenti. Schultens.
Proverbs 10:24. The fear of the wicked, &c.— Wicked men frequently draw upon themselves what they feared, by the very means whereby they studied to avoid it; a remarkable example whereof, Bochart observes, we have in the builders of the tower of Babel; the very remedy of the evil that they wished to avoid, leading them directly to it.
Proverbs 10:26. As vinegar to the teeth— "A negligent dilatory servant vexes and rives, as it were, with trouble those who send him; just as keen vinegar gives pain to the teeth, and bitter smoke vexes and torments the eyes." See Schultens.
Proverbs 10:32. The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable— The LXX read, The lips of the righteous distil graces; and the Syriac, The lips of the righteous acknowledge a kindness or benefit. The righteous make it their study to hurt nobody by their words; but, on the contrary, to speak always according to the dictates of a good and honest heart: while the wicked discover the badness of their heart by the malevolence of their discourse.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Proverbs 10". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Sunday after Epiphany