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Bible Commentaries

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Proverbs 22

Verse 2

Proverbs 22:2. The rich and poor meet together The world does not consist all of rich, nor all of poor; but they are mixed together, and have need one of another, and will properly harmonise if they consider that there is one Lord who is the creator of both, who hath by his providence ordered this inequality for their mutual good, and who is no respecter of persons.

Verse 4

Proverbs 22:4. By humility and the fear of the Lord The reward of meekness, which is the fear of the Lord, is wealth, &c. Schultens. Houbigant renders it, The rewards of modesty and the fear of the Lord, are, &c. Or it may be rendered, The fruit of humility. &c.

Verse 6

Proverbs 22:6. Train up a child Initiate, instruct, catechise; lay down the first rudiments. Houbigant. Horace says remarkably, (considering him as under the Heathen dispensation,)

———Nunc adbibe puro, &c. Ephesians 2:0 lib. 1: ad fin.

———Now pliantly inure Your mind to virtue, while your heart is pure; Now suck in wisdom; for the vessel well With liquor season'd long retains the smell. FRANCIS.
See Bishop Tillotson's and Dr. Doddridge's Sermons on the text.

Verse 8

Proverbs 22:8. He that soweth iniquity, &c.— Houbigant renders this, He that soweth iniquity shall reap vanity: the rod shall disperse and dissipate his labour: and he supposes the idea to be taken from sowing and harvest. See Isaiah 28:27-28. Schultens says the meaning is, that, "He who soweth iniquity, when he thinks his harvest to be come, shall himself undergo the flail or rod; by which he shall be consumed, being bruised himself who used to bruise others, and his punishment shall be complete." The LXX add to the proverb, The Lord blesseth or loveth a cheerful giver; but will complete the vanity of his works. See 2 Corinthians 9:7.

Verse 11

Proverbs 22:11. He that loveth pureness of heart The LXX and Arabic read, The Lord loveth pure hearts, and all those who are free from sin are acceptable to him. They who insist upon the Hebrew reading as perfect, must imagine the sense to be, "The Lord loveth purity of heart: the king is a friend to the grace of the lips;" i.e. Purity of heart is that alone which gives favour in the sight of God: though eloquence of speech and gracefulness of address may be sufficient to recommend a man to the favour of his prince. Houbigant renders it, If any one loveth purity of heart, he shall feed the king with the grace of his lips: i.e. says he, "If any one has a sincere and honest heart, he, far removed from all falsehood and flattery, shall feed with the truth kings, from whom truth in the general is banished." Bishop Patrick paraphrases it, "He who loves sincerity above all things, and is able to deliver his mind in acceptable language, is fit to be privy counsellor to a king."

Verse 14

Proverbs 22:14. The mouth of strange women is a deep pit Maundrell, describing the passage out of the jurisdiction of the Basha of Aleppo into that of the Basha of Tripoli, tells us, that the road was rocky and uneven, but attended with variety. "Sometimes it led us under the cool shade of thick trees; sometimes through narrow valleys, watered with fresh murmuring torrents; and then for a good while together upon the brink of a precipice. And in all places it treated us with the prospect of plants and flowers of divers kinds, as myrtles, oleanders, cyclamens, &c. Having spent about two hours in this manner, we descended into a low valley; at the bottom of which is a fissure into the earth, of a great depth, but withal so narrow that it is not discernible to the eye, "till you arrive just upon it, though to the ear a notice of it is given at a great distance, by reason of the noise of a stream running down into it from the hills. We could not guess it to be less than thirty yards deep; but it is so narrow that a small arch, not four yards over, lands you on its other side. They call it the Sheik's Wife; a name given it from a woman of that quality, who fell into it, and, I need not add, perished." Now may not Solomon refer to some such dangerous place as this, in the present verse, The mouth of a strange woman is a deep pit, &c. and chap. Proverbs 23:27. A whore is a deep ditch, and a strange woman is a narrow pit? The flowery pleasures of the place where this fatal pit was, make the allusion still more striking. How agreeable to sense the path which led to this chamber of death! See Observations, p. 219.

Verse 15

Proverbs 22:15. Foolishness is bound, &c.— Ignorance, weakness, inclination to evil, corruption of heart, are maladies which accompany all men from their birth: education, instruction, correction, under the influence of Divine grace, cure them, or diminish very much their ill effects. Calmet. Dr. Taylor's gloss is, "How strong soever appetite may be in children, proper discipline will correct and regulate it."

Verse 16

Proverbs 22:16. He that oppresseth the poor, &c.— He who spoileth the poor that he may abound in riches, shall himself give to the rich, and want. Houbigant. From this verse, there is scarcely any interpreter but has observed that another form of speech, very different from the preceding, begins and continues to the 25th chapter. From the beginning of the tenth chapter to this place, the instructions of wisdom are delivered in short sentences, and proverbs properly so called, which have seldom any connection. But now follow exhortations and precepts in the imperative mood, and those comprehended in two, three, or more verses. See Bishop Patrick and Calmet.

REFLECTIONS.—The inspired penman here changes his stile; and, as in the beginning, addresses himself to his son in a way of exhortation; and what he says to him, he says to all. Diligent attention, and heart-application, are necessary, if we would come to the knowledge of the truth, and understand the words of the wise; those inspired writers whom God hath employed to communicate to us his mind and will. And in order hereto, various arguments are suggested to engage our minds in the pursuit.

1. It is a pleasant thing, if thou keep them within thee; for heart-religion only, not formality, can bring us to taste the comforts of true godliness; and they who are most faithful will be most happy, and find that joy which a stranger intermeddleth not with.

2. It will be highly becoming. They shall withal be fitted in thy lips, or, be ordered by thy lips; spoken so as to minister grace to the hearers, and gain their regard and reverence.

3. Hereby our hearts will be established in faith and confidence in God; this being the blessed effect of his word, and the great end for which it was written, and is preached; and when we are enabled to trust, we shall see the great salvation of God.
4. The matter is clear, the subject infinitely important and highly excellent, designed to promote our eternal blessedness, written to convey perpetual instruction, and particularly addressed to us by name: to thee, reader, even to thee; therefore to-day, while it is called to-day, may the word of gospel-grace, sounding in thine ears, sink down into thine heart, as an ingrafted word, able to save thy soul!

5. The truths are certain, not cunningly-devised fables, but delivered by the inspiration of God; and by the perusal of them, with fervent prayer, we shall arrive at the full assurance of understanding; shall have an evidence of the certainty of the objects of our faith, strong as that of our being; so that not a doubt shall remain.

6. They will enable us to give an answer to every one that asketh us a reason of the hope which is in us, and out of the good treasure of our heart to communicate to them the lessons that we have been taught of God.

Verse 20

Proverbs 22:20. Have not I written to thee excellent things Many of the ancient versions read threefold things, in which they are followed by Schultens and Grotius. The Jews distinguished philosophy under three branches; morality, physics, and divinity. Solomon wrote in all these branches, as appears from 1 Kings 4:0 but most of his writings are lost. This and the book of Ecclesiastes contain what he wrote in morality or ethics. His discourses on plants and animals relate to physics, and the Canticles belong to allegorical divinity. I should rather, however, understand the word according to our version; or, more properly, "Words fit for a prince to speak, and the best men in the world to hear, and therefore truly excellent." See Patrick and Calmet.

Verses 24-25

Proverbs 22:24-25. Make no friendship with an angry man "By how much the more devoutly the laws of friendship among good men are to be observed, by so much the more it stands us upon to use all caution, even at the very first, in the prudent election of friends; and, let the dispositions and humours of our friends be what they will, so far as concerns ourselves only, they are by all means to be borne withal: but when they impose a necessity upon us to behave ourselves just as they would have us towards other men, it is a very hard and unreasonable condition of friendship. Wherefore it highly concerns us, as Solomon here admonishes, for the preservation of the peace and safety of our life, that we intermingle not our matters with men of cholerick nature, and such as easily provoke or undertake quarrels and debates; for such kinds of friends will perpetually engage us in contentions and factions, so that we shall be constrained either to break off friendship, or to be wanting to our own personal safety." Lord Bacon's Adv. of Learn. lib. 8: chap. 2. See also Duchal's Sermons, vol. 1: serm. 18:

Verse 28

Proverbs 22:28. Remove not the ancient land-mark The plain meaning of this seems to be, "Be content with thy paternal estate, and endeavour not to increase it by unjust means." See chap. Proverbs 23:10.

Verse 29

Proverbs 22:29. Seest thou a man diligent in his business Solomon does not merely commend industry and diligence, as some understand it; but something more, which the Hebrew word מהיר mahir, plainly imports; namely, speed, swiftness, readiness, and cheerfulness in the dispatch of business; to which is required a quickness of apprehension in conceiving the fittest means, and a dexterity in the application of them; so that the business is not only done, but done speedily, and without much noise and bustle. Bishop Patrick. Houbigant, in conformity with this remark, renders it, If any man is intelligent and quick in the dispatch of business. Upon which Lord Bacon observes, that quickness of dispatch only in the execution of commands, of all other qualities, hath nothing in it which doth not please the minds of princes: the motions of their minds are swift, and not very patient of delay; for they imagine that they can do any thing. This only being wanting, that it be done out of hand; upon which account, above all other qualities, celerity is to them most acceptable.

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Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Proverbs 22". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. 1801-1803.