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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
Proverbs 19

 

 

Verse 1

Proverbs 19:1 Better [is] the poor that walketh in his integrity, than [he that is] perverse in his lips, and is a fool.

Ver. 1. Better is the poor that walketh in his integrity.] That poor but honest man, that speaks supplications, [Proverbs 18:23] but abuseth not his lips to lewd and loose language, is better than that rich fool that answers him roughly and robustiously - as Nabal did David’s messengers - and otherwise speaks ill, thinks worse. We usually call a poor man a "poor soul"; a poor soul may be a rich Christian, and a rich man may have a poor soul.


Verse 2

Proverbs 19:2 Also, [that] the soul [be] without knowledge, [it is] not good; and he that hasteth with [his] feet sinneth.

Ver. 2. Also, that the soul be without knowledge, it is not good.] An ignorant man is a naughty man. Ignorat sane improbus omnis, saith Aristotle, (a) Every bad minded man is in the dark; neither can any good come into the heart, but it must pass through the understanding; and the difference of stature in Christianity grows from different degrees of knowledge. The Romans were "full of knowledge," and therefore "full of goodness." [Romans 15:14]

And he that hasteth with his feet sinneth.] Or, Wandereth out of the way. As he that is out of his way, the faster he rides or runs, the farther he is out; so is blind zeal. It is like mettle in a blind horse, that, running upon the rocks and precipices, first breaks his hoofs, and then his neck; or like the devil in the possessed, that cast him sometimes into the fire and sometimes into the water.


Verse 3

Proverbs 19:3 The foolishness of man perverteth his way: and his heart fretteth against the LORD.

Ver. 3. The foolishness of a man perverteth his way.] So that all goes cross with him, and God "walks contrary to him," [Leviticus 26:21] as it befell our King John, Queen Mary, and Henry IV of France. King John saw and acknowledged it in these words, Postquam, ut dixi, Deo reconciliatus, me ac mea regna (proh dolor!) Romanae subieci ecclesiae, nulla mihi prospera, sed omnia contraria advenerunt, (a) Ever since I submitted to the see of Rome, nothing hath prospered with me.

And his heart frets against the Lord.] As the cause of his calamity. Birds of prey, that have been long kept in the dark, when they get abroad, are out of measure, raging and ravenous: so are ignorant spirits; they let fly on all hands, when in durance especially, and spare not to spit their venom in the very face of God, as did Pharaoh, when that thick darkness was upon him; the king of Israel that said, "Behold this evil is of the Lord, and what should I wait for the Lord any longer?" [2 Kings 6:33] Mohammed, the first emperor of the Turks, being wonderfully grieved with the dishonour and loss he had received at the last assault of Scodra, in his choler and frantic rage, most horribly blasphemed against God, saying, that it were enough for him to have care of heavenly things, and not to cross him in his worldly actions. (b)


Verse 4

Proverbs 19:4 Wealth maketh many friends; but the poor is separated from his neighbour.

Ver. 4. Wealth maketh many friends.] Res amicos invenit, saith he in Plautus. Wine, saith Athenaeus, hath ελκοστικον τι προς φιλιαν, a force in it to make friendship. Wealth we are sure hath; but as that is no sound love that comes out of cups - it is but ollaris amicitia; friendship of the cup, so neither are they to be trusted that wealth wins to us. Hired friends are seldom either satisfied or sure, but, like the ravens in Arabia, that, full gorged, have a tunable, sweet record, but empty, screech horribly. Flies soon fasten upon honey, and vermin will haunt a house where food is to be gotten.

But the poor is separated from his neighbour.] Who either turns from him as a stranger, or against him as an enemy. Nero being condemned to die, and not finding any one that would fall upon him and despatch him, cried out, Itane, nec amicum, nec inimicum habeo? Have I now neither friend nor foe that will do this for me?


Verse 5

Proverbs 19:5 A false witness shall not be unpunished, and [he that] speaketh lies shall not escape.

Ver. 5. A false witness shall not be unpunished.] Many poor people care not to lend their rich friend an oath at a need; and many rich, though they think ill of pillory perjury, yet they make little conscience of a merry lie. Neither of these shall pass unpunished. And this sentence may be to them, as those knuckles of a man’s hand were to Belshazzar, to write them their destiny, or as Daniel was to him, to read it unto them.


Verse 6

Proverbs 19:6 Many will intreat the favour of the prince: and every man [is] a friend to him that giveth gifts.

Ver. 6. Many will entreat the favour of the prince.] Yea, lie at his feet, and lick up his spittle, not being loyal in love for conscience, but submissive in show for commodity. Every man will be thrusting in where anything is to be gotten. The poets make Litae, or Petitions, to be the daughters of Jupiter, and ever about him; to signify, saith the mythologist, that princes and great ones are seldom without suppliants and suitors. (a)

And every man is a friend, &c.] {See Trapp on "Proverbs 17:8"}


Verse 7

Proverbs 19:7 All the brethren of the poor do hate him: how much more do his friends go far from him? he pursueth [them with] words, [yet] they [are] wanting [to him].

Ver. 7. All the brethren of the poor do hate him.] How much more then his hired friends? These are like crows to a dead carcase, which if they flock to it, it is not to defend but to devour it; and no sooner have they bared the bones, but they are gone. {See Trapp on "Proverbs 14:20"}


Verse 8

Proverbs 19:8 He that getteth wisdom loveth his own soul: he that keepeth understanding shall find good.

Ver. 8. He that getteth wisdom.] Heb., He that getteth, or possesseth a heart; for we are born brutes, and are compared to "the horse and mule that have no understanding." [Psalms 32:9] Hearts we have all, but our "foolish hearts are darkened," [Romans 1:21] yea, "a deceived heart hath turned us aside that we cannot deliver our souls, nor say, Is there not a lie in my right hand?" [Isaiah 44:20] Well may the rich have many friends, but not many hearts: for without wisdom no man can love his own soul, much less can he truly love another. Therefore, by how much better it is for a man to love his own soul as he ought than to be beloved of others for his gifts, by so much it is better to get wisdom than to get wealth.


Verse 9

Proverbs 19:9 A false witness shall not be unpunished, and [he that] speaketh lies shall perish.

Ver. 9. A false witness, &c.] See Proverbs 19:5.


Verse 10

Proverbs 19:10 Delight is not seemly for a fool; much less for a servant to have rule over princes.

Ver. 10. Delight is not seemly for a fool.] Dignitas in indigno est ornamentum in luto, saith Salvian. Health, wealth, nobility, beauty, honour, and the like, are ill bestowed upon a wicked man, who will abuse them all to his own and other men’s undoing. The wisest have enough to do to manage these outward good things. What may we hen expect from fools? (a) {See Trapp on "Proverbs 14:24"} If they make wise men fools, they will make fools mad men.

Much less for a servant to rule over princes.] As Abimelech, that bramble, did over the cedars of Lebanon; as Tobiah, the servant, the Ammonite, sought to do over Nehemiah and the princes of Judah; as the servants of the Emperor Claudius did over him and the whole State, which occasioned that verse to be pronounced on the theatre -

Aφορητος εστιν ευτυχων μαστιγιας.’

As Becket and Wolsey affected to do in their generations; and as the bridge maker of Rome, who styles himself servus servorum, a servant of servants, and yet acts as a dominus dominantium et rex regum, lord of lords, and king of kings. Round about the Pope’s coins are these words stamped, "That nation that will not serve thee shall be rooted out." His janissaries, also, the Jesuits, are as a most agile sharp sword, whose blade is sheathed at pleasure in the bowels of every commonwealth, but the handle reacheth to Rome and Spain. This made that most valiant and puissant prince, Henry IV of France, when he was persuaded by one to banish the Jesuits, say, "Give me then security for my life."


Verse 11

Proverbs 19:11 The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and [it is] his glory to pass over a transgression.

Ver. 11. The discretion of a man deferreth his anger.] Plato, when angry with his servant, would not correct him at that time, but let him go with Vapulares nisi irascerer, I am too angry to beat thee. A young man that had been brought up with Plato, returning home to his father’s house, and hearing his father chide and exclaim furiously, said, "I have never seen the like with Plato." (a) {See Trapp on "Proverbs 14:29"} Anger, by being deferred, may be diminished, so it be not concealed for a further opportunity of mischief, as Absalom’s towards Amnon, and Tiberius’s, who, the more he meditated revenge, the more did time and delay sharpen it. And the farther off he threatened, the heavier the stroke fell. (b)

And it is his glory to pass over a transgression.] Heb., To pass by it, as not knowing of it, or not troubled at it. Thus David was deaf to the railings of his enemies, and "as a dumb man, in whose mouth are no reproofs." Socrates, when he was publicly abused in a comedy, laughed at it. Polyagrus vero seipsum strangulabat, saith Aelian; but Polyagrus, not able to bear such an indignity, hanged himself. Augustus likewise did but laugh at the satires and buffooneries which they had published against him; and when the senate would have further informed him of them, he would not hear them. The manlier any man is, the milder and readier to pass by an offence. This shows that he hath much of God in him (if he do it from a right principle), who bears with our evil manners, (c) and forgives our trespasses, beseeching us to be reconciled. When any provoke us, we use to say, We will be even with him. There is a way whereby we may be not even with him, but above him, and that is, forgive him. Wink at small faults especially. Qui nescit dissimulare, nescit vivere.


Verse 12

Proverbs 19:12 The king’s wrath [is] as the roaring of a lion; but his favour [is] as dew upon the grass.

Ver. 12. The king’s wrath is as the roaring of a lion.] Heb., Of a young lion, which, being in his prime, roars more terribly; sets up his roar with such a force that he amazeth the other creatures whom he hunteth, so that, though far swifter of foot than the lion, they have no power to fly from him. (a) Kings have long hands, strong clutches. Good therefore is the wise man’s counsel in Ecclesiastes 8:2-4. {See Trapp on "Proverbs 16:14"} {See Trapp on "Proverbs 16:15"}


Verse 13

Proverbs 19:13 A foolish son [is] the calamity of his father: and the contentions of a wife [are] a continual dropping.

Ver. 13. A foolish son is the calamity of his father.] Children are certain cares, but uncertain comforts. Let them prove never so towardly, yet there is somewhat to do to breed them up, and bring them to good. But if they answer not expectation, the parent’s grief is inexpressible. See the note on Proverbs 10:1, and xv. 20. How many an unhappy father is tempted to wish with Augustus,

‘O utinam caelebs vixissem, orbusque perissem?’

And the contentions of a wife are a continual dropping.] Like as a man that hath met with hard usage abroad thinks to mend himself at home, but is no sooner sat down there but the rain, dropping through the roof upon his head, drives him out of doors again. Such is the case of him that hath a contentious wife - a far greater cross than that of ungracious children, which yet are the father’s calamities and heart breaks. Augustus had been happy if he had had no children; Sulla if he had had no wife. All evils, as elements, are most troublesome when out of their proper place, as impiety in professors, injustice in judges, discomfort in a wife. This is like a tempest in the haven, most troublesome, most dangerous. (a)


Verse 14

Proverbs 19:14 House and riches [are] the inheritance of fathers: and a prudent wife [is] from the LORD.

Ver. 14. House and riches are the inheritance of the fathers.] Viz., More immediately. God gives them to the parents, and they leave them to their children, being moved thereto by God. Though a carnal heart looks no higher than parents, cares not, so he may have it, whence he hath it. It is dos non Deus that maketh marriages with them - good enough, if goods enough. Money is the greatest meddler, and drives the bargain and business to an upshot. Mostly such matches prove unhappy and uncomfortable. How can it be otherwise, since Hic Deus nihil fecit? God indeed had a hand in it, but for their just punishment that so followed after lying vanities, and so forsook their own mercies.

But a prudent wife is of the Lord.] Nature makes a woman, election a wife; but to be prudent, wise, and virtuous is of the Lord. A good wife was one of the first real and royal gifts bestowed on Adam. God set all the creatures before him ere he gave him a wife, that, seeing no other fit help, he might prize such a gift; not a gift of industry, but of destiny, as one saith; for "marriages are made in heaven," as the common sort can say, and as very heathens acknowledge. The governor of Eskichisar, hearing Othoman the great Turk’s relation of a fair lady whom he was in love with, and had highly commended for her virtues, seemed greatly to like his choice, saying that she was by the divine providence appointed only for him to have. (a)


Verse 15

Proverbs 19:15 Slothfulness casteth into a deep sleep; and an idle soul shall suffer hunger.

Ver. 15. Slothfulness casteth into a deep sleep.] Sloth bringeth sleep, and sleep poverty. See this excellently set forth. [Proverbs 6:9-11; Proverbs 10:4] {See Trapp on "Proverbs 6:9"} {See Trapp on "Proverbs 6:10"} {See Trapp on "Proverbs 6:11"} {See Trapp on "Proverbs 10:4"}


Verse 16

Proverbs 19:16 He that keepeth the commandment keepeth his own soul; [but] he that despiseth his ways shall die.

Ver. 16. He that keepeth the commandment keepeth his own soul.] This is the first fruit of shaking off sloth and sleepiness. He that "stirs up himself to take hold of God," [Isaiah 64:7] and to "take hold of his covenant," [Isaiah 56:4] "to love the name of the Lord, and to be his servant," [Proverbs 19:6] to "love him, and keep his commandments," [Exodus 20:6] to do that little he does out of love, if it be no more than to "think upon his commandments to do them," [Psalms 103:18] this man’s soul shall be bound up "in the bundle of life," he shall find his name written "in the book of like." For in vitae libro scribuntur omnes qui quod possunt faciunt, etsi quod debent non possunt, saith Bernard. Their names are written in heaven who do what they can, though they cannot do what they ought. "If there be a willing mind, God accepts according to what a man hath, not according to what he hath not." [2 Corinthians 8:12] And here also, Nolentem, praevenit Deus ut velit, volentem subsequitur ne frustra velit. (a) God, that gives "both to will and to do," "causeth his people to keep his commandments," and "worketh all their works in them, and for them." [Philippians 1:13 Ezekiel 36:17 Isaiah 26:12] Lex iubet, gratia iuvat; petamus ut det, quod ut habeamus iubet. The law commandeth, but grace helpeth. Let us beg that God would make us to be what he requires us to be. (b)

But he that despiseth his ways.] That is, God’s ways, chalked out in his word. {See Trapp on "Proverbs 13:13"} Or, He that despiseth his own ways - lives carelessly, and at random; walks at all adventures with God, cui vita est incomposita, et pessime morata contra gnomonem et canonem Decalogi, a loose and lawless person - he "shall die," not a natural death only, as all do, but spiritual and eternal. (c) There is but an inch between him and hell, which already gapes for him, and will certainly swallow him up.


Verse 17

Proverbs 19:17 He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD and that which he hath given will he pay him again.

Ver. 17. He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth, &c.] This is a second fruit of shaking off sloth, and working with the hands the thing that is good, that one may have to give to him that needeth. [Ephesians 4:28] He doth not give it, but lend it; God accepts it both as δωρον και δανεισμα, as a gift, and a loan, saith Basil. (a) Nay, he lends it upon usury, Faeneratur Domino; and that to the Lord, who both binds himself to repay, and gives us security for it under his own hand here. He will pay him again to be sure of it - ישׁלם in the Hebrew tense Piel - he will fully and abundantly repay him; mostly in this world, but infallibly in the world to come. Evagrius in Cedrenus bequeathed three hundred pounds to the poor in his will; but took a bond beforehand of Synesius the bishop for the repayment of it in another life; and the very next night after his departure, saith the history, appearing to him in his shape, delivered in the bond cancelled, and fully discharged.


Verse 18

Proverbs 19:18 Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.

Ver. 18. Chasten thy son while there is hope.] {See Trapp on "Proverbs 13:24"}


Verse 19

Proverbs 19:19 A man of great wrath shall suffer punishment: for if thou deliver [him], yet thou must do it again.

Ver. 19. A man of great wrath shall suffer punishment.] He that lays the reins on the neck, and sets no bounds to his wrath, whether in chastising his child, or otherwise, shall be sure to smart for it: shall bring himself and his friends into great trouble. Such, therefore, as are choleric should pray much, and prevent all occasions of wrath; as Callius and Cotis, because they would not be stirred up to anger, burned their enemies’ letters before they were read. The like did Pompey to the letters of Sertorius, and Caesar to Pompey’s letters.


Verse 20

Proverbs 19:20 Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end.

Ver. 20. Hear counsel, and receive instruction.] Or, Correction. Here he directs his speech to the younger sort, and exhorts them. (1.) To hear counsel, that is, to keep the commandment, as Proverbs 19:16 : (2.) To receive correction of parents, as Proverbs 19:18, as the only way to sound and lasting wisdom: for Vexatio dat intellectum; Piscator ictus sapit; Quae nocent docent. Or Solomon may here bring in the father, thus lessoning his untoward child, whom he hath lashed. For to correct, and not to instruct, is to snuff the lamp, but not pour in oil to feed it.


Verse 21

Proverbs 19:21 [There are] many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand.

Ver. 21. There are many devices in a man’s heart.] They may purpose, but God alone disposeth of all. {See Trapp on "Proverbs 16:1"} {See Trapp on "Proverbs 16:9"} Some think to rise by ill principles, but it will not be. Some to be rich, but God crosseth them, and holds them to prisoners’ pittances, to hard meat, as we say. Some, to live long, and to enjoy what they have gotten: but they hear, "Thou fool, this very night shall thy soul be taken from thee." [Luke 12:20] Some set themselves to root out true religion, to dethrone the Lord Christ. But God sees and smiles, looks and laughs. [Psalms 2:4] The counsel of the Lord, that shall stand when all is done. Christ shall reign in the midst of his enemies: the stone cut out of the mountains without hands shall bring down the golden image with a vengeance, and make it "like the chaff of the summer floor." [Daniel 2:35] Sciat Celsitudo vestra et nihil dubitet - saith Luther in a letter to the Elector of Saxony - longe aliter in coelo quam Noribergae de hoc negotio conclusum esse. (a) Let your highness be sure that the Church’s business is far otherwise ordered in heaven, than it is by the emperor and states at Norimberg. And Gaudeo quod Christus Dominus est; alioqui totus desperassem, - I am glad that Christ is King; for otherwise I had been utterly out of heart and hope - saith holy Myconius in a letter to Calvin, upon the view of the Church’s enemies.


Verse 22

Proverbs 19:22 The desire of a man [is] his kindness: and a poor man [is] better than a liar.

Ver. 22. The desire of a man is his kindness.] Or, His mercy. Many have a great mind to be held merciful men, and vainly give out what they would do, if they had wherewith; and perhaps they speak as they think too. This may be one of those many devices, those variae et vance cogitationes in the heart of a man. [Proverbs 19:21]

But the poor man is better than a liar.] For though he hath nothing to give, yet having a giving affection, he is better than a liar, that is, than such a rich man, who, before he was rich, would brag what he would do if he were rich, and yet now is a niggard.


Verse 23

Proverbs 19:23 The fear of the LORD [tendeth] to life: and [he that hath it] shall abide satisfied; he shall not be visited with evil.

Ver. 23. The fear of the Lord tendeth to life, &c.] Life, saturity, (a) and security from evil (from the hurt, if not from the smart of it) are all assured here to those that fear God. Who would not then turn spiritual purchaser? See Proverbs 22:4.


Verse 24

Proverbs 19:24 A slothful [man] hideth his hand in [his] bosom, and will not so much as bring it to his mouth again.

Ver. 24. A slothful man hideth his hand in his bosom.] The Latins say, He wraps it in his cloak; Manum habet sub pallio, He puts it in his pocket, say we. Erewhiles we had him fast asleep; and here going about his business, as if he were still asleep; so lazy that any the least labour is grievous to him, he can hardly find in his heart to feed himself, so to uphold the life of his hands, which he should maintain with "the labour of his hands" [2 Thessalonians 3:10] and with "the sweat of his brow." [Genesis 3:19] Very sucklings get not their milk without much tugging and tiring themselves at the dug.


Verse 25

Proverbs 19:25 Smite a scorner, and the simple will beware: and reprove one that hath understanding, [and] he will understand knowledge.

Ver. 25. Smite a scorner, and the simple will beware.] Alterius perditio, tua fit cautio, saith the wise man. Seest thou another man shipwrecked? look well to thy tackling. Poena ad paucos, &c. Let but a few be punished, and many will be warned and wised; any will, but the scorner himself, who will not be better, though brayed in a mortar. This scorner may very well be the sluggard mentioned in the former verse. Smite him never so much, there is no beating any wit into him. Pharaoh was not a button the better for all that he suffered; but Jethro, taking notice of God’s heavy hand upon Pharaoh, and likewise upon the Amalekites, was thereby converted, and became a proselyte, as Rabbi Solomon noteth upon this text.


Verse 26

Proverbs 19:26 He that wasteth [his] father, [and] chaseth away [his] mother, [is] a son that causeth shame, and bringeth reproach.

Ver. 26. He that wasteth his father.] That spoileth, pilfereth, pillageth, preyeth upon his father; not so much as saying with that scapethrift in the gospel, "Give me the portion that falls to my share." [Luke 15:12] Idleness and incorrigibleness lead to this wickedness, as may appear by the context.


Verse 27

Proverbs 19:27 Cease, my son, to hear the instruction [that causeth] to err from the words of knowledge.

Ver. 27. Cease, my son, to hear the instruction.] "Beware of false prophets." [Matthew 7:15] {See Trapp on "Matthew 7:15"} Take heed also what books ye read; for as water relisheth of the soil it runs through, so doth the soul of the authors that a man readeth.


Verse 28

Proverbs 19:28 An ungodly witness scorneth judgment: and the mouth of the wicked devoureth iniquity.

Ver. 28. An ungodly witness scorneth judgment.] As if he were out of the reach of God’s rod. And because "judgment is not presently executed, therefore his heart is set in him to do wickedly," [Ecclesiastes 8:11 Psalms 50:21] he looks upon God as an abettor of his perjury. His mouth devoureth iniquity, as some savoury morsel. But know they not that there will be bitterness in the end? Let them but mark what follows.


Verse 29

Proverbs 19:29 Judgments are prepared for scorners, and stripes for the back of fools.

Ver. 29. Judgments are prepared for scorners.] For these scorners (that promise themselves impunity) are judgments, not one, but many, not appointed only, but prepared long since, and now ready to be executed.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 19:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/proverbs-19.html. 1865-1868.

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