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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
Proverbs 22

 

 

Verse 1

Proverbs 22:1 A [good] name [is] rather to be chosen than great riches, [and] loving favour rather than silver and gold.

Ver. 1. A good name is rather to be chosen.] Heb., A name, as "a wife," for a good wife. [Proverbs 18:22] Better no wife than an ill wife, so better no name than an ill name. This good name proceeding from a good conscience, this honour from virtue, [Isaiah 43:4] this perfume of faith and obedience, this splendour and sparkle of the "white stone," which only shines upon heavenly hearts - is far more desirable than great riches. For, first, These oft take away the life of the owners thereof. [Proverbs 1:19] The greater wealth, the greater spoil awaits a man. As a tree with thick and large boughs, every man desires to lop him. Whereas a good name saves a man oft from that danger, as it did Jonathan, whom the people rescued. Secondly, Riches breed and bring their cares and cumbers with them. Qui habet terras habet guerras, saith the proverb; many lawsuits and other vexations, &c.; when a good name, as a precious ointment poured out, gets loving favour, with which it is therefore fitly coupled in this text. Thirdly, Riches are enjoyed but till death at utmost; but a good name outlives the man, and is left behind him for a blessing. [Isaiah 65:15 Proverbs 10:7] {See Trapp on "Proverbs 10:7"} Other people went beyond God’s Israel in wealth and riches, but none in fame and renown. [2 Samuel 7:23 Deuteronomy 4:6] Fourthly, Riches are oft gotten by fame. Let a man’s name be up, and there will be great recourse to him; but let him once crack his credit, and riches cannot repair him. Infamy will not be bought off with money. Lastly, Riches are common to good men with bad men; but a good name, truly so called, is proper to God’s peculiar, confined to the communion of saints. He was therefore a better husband than divine that first called riches bona, goods, And that heathen was nearer the truth than many profligate professors of it who said, Ego si bonam famam servasso sat dives ero: (a) that is, If I may but keep a good name, I have wealth enough.

And loving favour rather than silver and gold.] Which what is it else but white and red earth? and therefore no way fit to come in competition with good repute and report among the best, such as Christ had, [Luke 2:52] and Joseph, and Daniel, and David, and Demetrius; [3 John 1:12] and they had it as a special favour from God, who fashions men’s opinions, and hides his people from the strife of tongues. [Job 5:21 Psalms 31:20]


Verse 2

Proverbs 22:2 The rich and poor meet together: the LORD [is] the maker of them all.

Ver. 2. The rich and the poor meet together.] They have mutual need one of another, and meet many times, as it were, in the midway, by an alteration of their condition. "They that were full were hired forth for bread, and the hungry are no more hired." [1 Samuel 2:5] "The mighty are put down from their seats, and those of low degree are exalted." [Luke 1:53]

The Lord is the maker of them all.] The maker of the men, the maker of their estates, and the maker of that change and alteration which often happeneth, that the one might become grateful, the other humble. See Job 31:15.


Verse 3

Proverbs 22:3 A prudent [man] foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished.

Ver. 3. A prudent man foreseeth an evil, &c.] Prevision is the best means of prevention. "A wise man’s eyes are in his head," [Ecclesiastes 2:14] "his heart is also at his right hand." [Ecclesiastes 10:2] The Chinese say of themselves that all other nations of the world see but with one eye, they only with two. The Italians give out that they only do sapere ante factum, look before they leap, forecast an evil before it befall them. But these are praises proper to them that have learned holy and heavenly wisdom, that by certain sights and signs discern a tempest in the clouds, and seek seasonable shelter under the hollow of God’s hand, "under the shadow of his wings." Such prudent persons were Noah, Joseph, Jonadab, Josiah, the Christians at Pella, &c.

But the fool passeth on.] Pusheth on without fear or wit, as being resolved to have his will, whatever it stand him in.

And is punished.] As a just reward of his rashness. Sin ever ends tragically. Flagitium et flagellum, ut acus et filum. Who ever waxed fierce against God and prospered? [Job 9:4] "With the froward thou wilt wrestle," saith David. [Psalms 18:26] "Upon the wicked God shall rain snares," &c. [Psalms 11:6] And then, ut leo cassibus irretitus dixit, si praescivissem, as the lion, when he was caught in the hunter’s toil, said, If I had foreknown this mischief, I would have shunned it. So these after wits, these post masters, these Epimetheuses, shall come in (but all too late) with their fool’s ‘Had-I-wist,’ which they should have timeously foreseen and prevented.


Verse 4

Proverbs 22:4 By humility [and] the fear of the LORD [are] riches, and honour, and life.

Ver. 4. By humility and the fear of the Lord.] Heb., The heel of humility, &c. The humble heart that lies low, and "hearkens what God the Lord will say unto it," that follows him trembling, as the people followed Saul, [1 Samuel 13:7] shall have hard at the heels of it riches - a sufficiency, if not a superfluity - and honour, which is to be chosen before riches, [Proverbs 22:1] {See Trapp on "Proverbs 22:1"} and life, above the danger of those thorns and snares mentioned in the next verse; not life present only, but "length of days for ever and ever." [Psalms 21:4] Oh the μυριομακαριοτης, the heaped up happiness of a man that humbles and trembles before the Lord! He that doth the former, cannot but do the latter. Hence that close connection of these two graces in this text, "By humility, the fear of the Lord"; so the original runs without the grammatical copulative and, to show that they go always together - yea, the one is as it were predicated upon the other. Neither want they their reward - "riches," "hohour," "life." What things be these? Who would not turn spiritual purchaser?


Verse 5

Proverbs 22:5 Thorns [and] snares [are] in the way of the froward: he that doth keep his soul shall be far from them.

Ver. 5. Thorns and snares are in the way of the froward.] In opposition to the reward of righteousness; [Proverbs 22:4] which is to say, "The ungodly are not so." Or if they have riches, they prove thorns to them to prick and choke their souls; if honour, and long life to enjoy it, these prove snares to them. Of carnal hearts it may be said, as Pharaoh said of the Israelites, "They are entangled in the land, the wilderness hath shut them in." [Exodus 14:3] They have treasures in the field, of wheat, barley, and oil, as those ten men had, [Jeremiah 41:8] and are therefore loath to die. And yet before they die - live they never so long in all abundance of riches and honours - God can bring them to that pass that Charles V was at, whom of all men the world judged most happy. Philip of Mornay reports of him that he cursed his honours in his old age, his victories, trophies, riches, saying, Abite hinc, abite longe: Away, away, get you far away.

He that doth keep his soul, shall be far from them.] As well from the wicked man’s miseries as his misdemeanours; he keeps aloof from both; he dares not meddle with the hole of the asp, lest he meet with a sting. Custos animae elongabit se, &c. Moneo te iterumque monebo, saith Lactantius to his Demetrian, ne oblectamenta ista terrae pro magnis aut veris bonis habere te credas: quae sunt non tantum fallacia quia dubia, verum etiam insidiosa quia dulcia. (a) Set not thine heart upon the asses, since thou art in election for a kingdom, and the hearts of all Israel are upon thee.


Verse 6

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Ver. 6. Train up a child in the way he should go.] Or, According to his measure and capacity, dropping good things by degrees into his narrow mouthed vessel, and whetting the same upon his memory by often repeating, as the knife by oft going over the whetstone (it is Moses’s comparison) (a) becomes keen and useful. This is the way to make them expert and exact, and to secure them from Satan, for we are not ignorant of his wiles. It is reported of the harts of Scythia, that they teach their young ones to leap from bank to bank, from rock to rock, from one turf to another, by leaping before them, which otherwise they would never practise, by which means, when they are hunted, no beast can ever take them. So if men exercise their children unto godliness while they are young, Satan, that mighty hunter, shall never have them for his prey. They will not be young saints, old devils, as the profane proverb hath it; but young saints, old angels. Now, as all children should be carefully catechised and well principled, so those Timothies especially that are designed to the work of the ministry. Quintilian’s orator must, from two or three years old, be inured and accustomed to the best and purest words, very well pronounced unto him by his nurses, parents, handmaids, as soon as ever he begins to babble. Quanto id in theologo futuro expetendum, curandumque magis? (b) How much more, saith a learned man, should this be done by one that is to be a divine?


Verse 7

Proverbs 22:7 The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower [is] servant to the lender.

Ver. 7. The rich ruleth over the poor.] And that with rigour, as Pharaoh did over Israel, as those imperious mammonists in St James’s time that oppressed and subjugated their poorest brethren, trampling upon them with the feet of intolerable insolence and cruelty. [James 2:6] "Yet now our flesh is as the flesh of our brethren, our children as their children," said those poor Jews in Nehemiah, who pleads their cause most effectually. [Nehemiah 5:7-13] Ubi quot verba, tot tela, quae nimirum animam divitum percellant, fodicent et lancinent, as one saith in another case, He sets upon them with irresistible rhetoric, and makes them restore - which yet rich oppressors are very hardly drawn to do. Every grain of riches hath a vermin of pride and ambition in it. [1 Timothy 6:17] {See Trapp on "1 Timothy 6:17"} Men’s blood riseth together with their good, and they think that everything must be as they would have it. But especially if they have "drawn the poor into their nets" [Psalms 10:9] - that is, into their bonds, debts, mortgages, as Chrysostom expounds it; then they not only rob, but ravish them; to their cruelty they join dishonesty; there is neither equity nor mercy to be had at their hands.


Verse 8

Proverbs 22:8 He that soweth iniquity shall reap vanity: and the rod of his anger shall fail.

Ver. 8. He that soweth iniquity, shall reap vanity.] The usurer and cruel creditor soweth his money, his mammon of iniquity (that ungain grain), upon his poor debtors; and whether it be a barren year or a fruitful, a good soil or a bad, luna affert menstruos sensus, he hath his constant pay, yea, his use upon use, according to that Greek verse,

Eστι τοκος προ τοκοιο, τοκος τε μεν εστι και αλλος.’

Now, can such increase be blest? Shall not those that thus sow the wind be sure to reap the whirlwind?

And the rod of his anger shall fail.] That is, that tyrannical power which he exerciseth upon others, as his underlings, shall be broken. God will take out of his hand the rod wherewith he hath beaten his fellow servants, and waste it upon his own back to the very stump.


Verse 9

Proverbs 22:9 He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed; for he giveth of his bread to the poor.

Ver. 9. He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed.] How Amalek, the licking people, as the name imports, I mean, the nation of usurers and proud lenders, shall speed, hath been spoken already. Now, on the other side, the bountiful eye, the cheerful giver (as the Septuagint, (a) and after them St Paul, render, or rather expound, this text), shall be abundantly blessed, for he gives with all his heart; he "draws out" not his sheaf only but "his soul to the hungry." [Isaiah 58:10] Dat bene, dat multum, quia dat cum munere vulture: He spares it out of his own belly to give to the hungry, as some have here gathered from the words "his bread," that which was appointed for his own eating - he voluntarily fasteth from a meal now and then that he may bestow it upon the needy, and he shall not lose his reward.


Verse 10

Proverbs 22:10 Cast out the scorner, and contention shall go out; yea, strife and reproach shall cease.

Ver. 10. Cast out the scorner.] Or, The evil interpreter, that construes everything to the worst, and so sows dissension. This is an evil instrument, and must be cashiered good company; the place where such a trouble town lives, longs for a vomit to spew him out. There is nothing that may not be taken with either hand. It is a spiritual unmannerliness to take it with the left, as that proud Pharisee did, [Luke 7:34] and to cast it as an apple of contention among others. They that do thus are the pests of families, and other societies, and must therefore be carefully cast out with scoffing Ishmael, as ever we desire to avoid strife, suits at law, reproach, and many more mischiefs.


Verse 11

Proverbs 22:11 He that loveth pureness of heart, [for] the grace of his lips the king [shall be] his friend.

Ver. 11. He that loveth pureness of heart.] That is vexed at his inward pollutions, and affecteth (what he can never fully effect) to be pure as God is pure. [1 John 3:3] He that hath gotten that pure lip, [Zephaniah 3:9] called here the grace of his lips, and elsewhere the "law of grace," [Proverbs 31:26] he that can skill of those good words that do ingratiate with God and man (Genesis 49:21, compared with Deuteronomy 33:23), he is fit to make a courtier, a favourite, such as was Joseph, Mordecai, Daniel, who though he used not always verbis byssinis, soft and silken words, but delivered heavy messages from God to Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar, yet God so wrought their hearts, though tyrants, that they greatly honoured him and highly preferred him. And when, out of his love to pureness of heart, he chose rather affliction than sin, to be cast to the lions than to bear a lion in his own bosom by offending his conscience, God made the king’s heart yearn towards him; so that this plain dealing "Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian." [Daniel 6:28]


Verse 12

Proverbs 22:12 The eyes of the LORD preserve knowledge, and he overthroweth the words of the transgressor.

Ver. 12. The eyes of the Lord preserve knowledge.] That is, Knowing persons. Those in the former verse that love truth in the inward parts, and hold this a rule, Truth must be spoken, however it be taken; these, howsoever they may suffer for a season, as Daniel in the den, Micaiah in the stock house, yet the watchful providence of God will preserve them, and provide for them. He will clear their innocence, and so plead for them in the hearts of greatest princes, that they shall find the truth of this divine proverb, and the falsity of that other so common among men, Obsequium amicos, veritas odium parit; Flattery gets friends, but truth hatred.

And he overthroweth the words (or matters) of the transgressors.] That is, Of the court parasites, who speak only pleasing things, et saepe leonum laudibus murem obruunt, flatter abominably, as those in Acts 12:21-23 did Herod; as the false prophets did Ahab. God will confute and convince their soothing words of singular vanity; he will also overthrow their matters, attempts, practices, "as a man wipeth a dish, turning it upside down." [2 Kings 21:13] See in that claw back Amalekite, [2 Samuel 1:4-10] in Ahithophel, Haman, Sejanus, &c.


Verse 13

Proverbs 22:13 The slothful [man] saith, [There is] a lion without, I shall be slain in the streets.

Ver. 13. The slothful man saith, There is a lion, &c.] ‘The lion is not so fierce as is painted,’ saith the Spanish proverb; much less this sluggard’s lion, a mere fiction of his own brain to cover and colour over his idleness. He pretends two lions for failing; first, Leo est foris, There is a lion abroad, or in the field, where his work lies, [Psalms 104:23] and another in the streets; - a likely matter; lions haunt not in streets, but in woods and wildernesses. Here is no talk of Satan, "that roaring lion," that lies couchant in the sluggard’s bed with him, and prompts him to these senseless excuses. Nor yet of the "lion of the tribe of Judah," who will one day send out summons for sleepers, and tearing the very caul of their hearts in sunder, send them packing to their place in hell. [Matthew 10:28] But to hell never came any yet that had not some pretence for their coming thither. The flesh never wants excuses. Corrupt nature needs not be taught to tell her own tale. Sin and shifting came into the world together; and as there is no wool so coarse but will take some colour: so no sin so gross but admits of a defence. Sin and Satan are alike in this, they cannot abide to appear in their own likeness. Some deal with their souls as others deal with their bodies; when their beauty is decayed, they desire to hide it from themselves by false glasses, and from others by painting; so their sins from themselves by false glosses, and from others by idle excuses.


Verse 14

Proverbs 22:14 The mouth of strange women [is] a deep pit: he that is abhorred of the LORD shall fall therein.

Ver. 14. The month of a strange woman.] Diabolus capite blanditur, ventre oblectat, cauda ligat, saith Rupertus. These she sinners, as their gallants call them, are most dangerous. {See Trapp on "Proverbs 2:16"} {See Trapp on "Proverbs 5:3"} Solomon had the woeful experience of it; [Ecclesiastes 7:26] and Samson, [ 16:18-21] who

“Lenam non potuit, potuit superare lesenam,

Quem fera non potuit vincere, vicit hera.”

How did David muddy himself in this deep pit, and there might have stuck in the mire, had not God drawn him out by a merciful violence, and purged him with hyssop from that abhorred filth? [Psalms 51:7]

He that is abhorred of the Lord shall fall therein.] As the Jesuits, those odious Connubisanctifugae Commeretricitegae, too often do; though they boast that they can talk and dally with the fairest women without danger, and the people must believe no otherwise, but that when they are kissing a woman, they are giving her good counsel. David George, that execrable heretic, was so far from accounting adulteries, fornications, incests, &c., for being any sins, that he did recommend them to his most perfect scholars as acts of grace and mortification; and was confident that the whole world would submit to his doctrine. (a) Peccatum peccatum trahit, as the Hebrew proverb hath it. One sin draws on another, and the latter is oft a punishment of the former; God, by a peculiar kind of revenge, delivering up such to a reprobate sense, or a mind disallowed or abhorred of God, as the apostle’s word (b) [Romans 1:28] signifies.


Verse 15

Proverbs 22:15 Foolishness [is] bound in the heart of a child; [but] the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.

Ver. 15. Foolishness is bound in the heart, &c.] As a pack or fardle is bound to a horse’s back. Error and folly be the knots of Satan, wherewith he ties children to the stake to be burnt in hell. Better see their brains dashed out against the stones, saith one, than suffer the ignorance of God to abide in their heads. Therefore, that we may loose the bands of death and works of the devil, parents must bring their sons in their arms, and their daughters upon their shoulders, to the house of God, that they may learn to know him. [Isaiah 49:22] They must also see to their profiting, and exact of them a daily growth, "nurturing," as well as nourishing them, [Ephesians 6:4] - the one being as needful as the other, - and using the rod where words will not do; so to chase away that evil by chastisement, seasoned with admonition, and seconded with prayer, that else will prove pernicious to their souls. Eli brought up his sons to bring down his house. David’s sons were undone by their father’s fondness. A fair hand, we say, makes a foul wound. Correction is a kind of cure, saith Aristotle; (a) and God usually blesseth it to that purpose. "Corrections of instructions are the way of life." [Proverbs 6:23]


Verse 16

Proverbs 22:16 He that oppresseth the poor to increase his [riches, and] he that giveth to the rich, [shall] surely [come] to want.

Ver. 16. He that oppresseth the poor, &c.] By fraud or force, or any indirect means. This man lays his foundation in firework, [Job 20:26] he walks upon a mine of gunpowder; "brimstone is scattered upon his habitation"; [Job 18:15] if but a flash of God’s lightning light upon it, all will be on fire, all blown up and brought to nothing.

And he that giveth to the rich.] Either to ingratiate and curry favour for countenancing their oppressive practices, or with a mind to get more than they give - for so saith one, that clause, To increase their riches, must here be repeated - which is a more artificial kind of selling their gifts, than if they had professedly set them to sale, as the Greek orator observeth. (a) Both these take a wrong course to be rich. The way were to give to the poor, and not to oppress them, and to "bring presents to him that ought to be feared," [Psalms 76:11] since it is he alone that "giveth us all things richly to enjoy." [1 Timothy 6:17]


Verse 17

Proverbs 22:17 Bow down thine ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply thine heart unto my knowledge.

Ver. 17. Bow down thine ear and hear.] Here begins, say some interpreters, the third book of Solomon’s Proverbs - as the second began at chapter ten. And indeed he here seems to assume a new kind of bespeaking his son, different from his discourse in the preceding twelve chapters; and much like that in the first nine.

And apply thy heart, &c.] q.d., Call up the ears of thy mind to the ears of thy body, that one sound may pierce both at once; otherwise thou wilt be like the wolf in the fable: thou wilt never attain to any more divine learning than to spell Pater, father, and when thou shouldst come to put together, and to put thy heart to it, as Solomon’s phrase here is, instead of Pater father thou wilt say Agnus, thy mind running a-madding after profit and pleasures of the world, as hath been once before noted.


Verse 18

Proverbs 22:18 For [it is] a pleasant thing if thou keep them within thee; they shall withal be fitted in thy lips.

Ver. 18. For it is a pleasant thing if thou keep them within thee.] Heb., In thy belly; that is, in thine inwards. Truth it is, that St John found the little book he ate - whether we understand it of the revelation only, or of the whole Bible, which Bishop Bonner’s chaplain called in scorn his little pretty God’s book, it much matters not - bitter in his belly, though sweet in his mouth, [Revelation 10:10] because ministers find it grievous to be kept from making known the whole counsel of God to their people. But the word of God attentively heard, and by a later meditation well digested and incorporated into the soul, is sweeter than honey, as David felt it; and yields more pleasure than all the tasteless fooleries of this present world.

They shall withal be fitted in thy lips.] Thou shalt need no other help to discourse: thou shalt get a singular dexterity and volubility of holy language, being able to utter thy mind in pure Scripture - Loquamur verba Scripturae, saith that incomparable Peter Ramus, utamur sermone Spiritus Sancti - thou shalt "so speak and so do, as one that must be judged by that law of liberty." [James 2:12]


Verse 19

Proverbs 22:19 That thy trust may be in the LORD, I have made known to thee this day, even to thee.

Ver. 19. That thy trust may be in the Lord.] Only a divine word can beget a divine faith, and herein the Scripture excels all human writings, none of which can bring our hearts to the "obedience of faith." I can speak it by experience, saith Erasmus, (a) that there is little good to be got by the Scripture, if a man read it cursorily and carelessly; but if he exercise himself therein constantly and conscionably, he shall feel such a force in it, as is not to be found again in any other book whatsoever. I know, saith Peter Martyr, (b) that there are many that will never believe what we say of the power of God’s word hidden in the heart; and not a few that will jeer us, and think we are mad for saying so. But oh that they would but be pleased to make trial! Male mihi sit (ita enim in tanta causa iurare usim ausim), nisi tandem capiantur. Let it never go well with me - for so I am bold to swear in so weighty a business - if they find not themselves strangely taken and transformed into the same image, if they pass not into the likeness of this heavenly pattern. The Ephesians "trusted in God as soon as they heard the word of truth"; they "believed," and were "sealed." [Ephesians 1:13] And the Thessalonians’ faith was famous all the churches over, when once the gospel "came to them in power." [1 Thessalonians 1:5; 1 Thessalonians 1:8]

To thee, even to thee.] Men must read the Scriptures as they do the statute books, holding themselves as much concerned therein as any other, threatening themselves in every threat, binding themselves in every precept, blessing themselves in every promise, resolving to obey God in all things; as convinced of this, that these are verba vivenda, non legenda, Words to be lived, and not read only.


Verse 20

Proverbs 22:20 Have not I written to thee excellent things in counsels and knowledge,

Ver. 20. Have not I written to thee excellent things?] Heb., Princely things; principles for princes, rare and royal sentences. The word signifies, say some, the third man in the kingdom for authority and dignity. Others read the words thus: Have not I three times written for thee concerning counsels and knowledge, - meaning his three books, proverbial, penitential, nuptial. The Canticles were penned perhaps in his younger years, saith one, (a) when his affections were more warm, active, and lively in spirituals; the Proverbs in his manly, ripe age, when his prudence and parts were at highest, most grave, solid, settled; Ecclesiastes in his old age, &c.


Verse 21

Proverbs 22:21 That I might make thee know the certainty of the words of truth; that thou mightest answer the words of truth to them that send unto thee?

Ver. 21. That I might make thee know the certainty.] And so find firm footing for thy faith. [Luke 1:3; Luke 1:5] "These words of God are true," saith the angel. [Revelation 21:5] These words are "faithful and true" [Revelation 22:6] - void of all insincerity and falsehood. How can it be otherwise, whenas they are, as Gregory (a) speaks, Cor et anima, the very heart and soul of the God of truth? There must needs be a certainty in these words of truth, neither need we hang in suspense. When some took Christ for John Baptist, some for Elias, some for Jeremiah; But "whom say ye that I am?" [Matthew 16:14-15] - to teach that Christ would not have men stand doubtful, halt between two, be in religion as beggars are in their way, ready to go which way soever the staff falleth; but to "search the Scriptures," and grounding thereon, to get a certainty, a "full assurance of understanding," [Colossians 2:2] so as to be able to say, "We have believed, therefore have we spoken." [2 Corinthians 4:13]


Verse 22

Proverbs 22:22 Rob not the poor, because he [is] poor: neither oppress the afflicted in the gate:

Ver. 22. Rob not the poor, &c.] Here some caviller will be apt to cry out, Quid dignum tauto feret hic promissor hiatu? After so promising a preface, and such wooing of attention, we looked for some new matter, and that of best note too. But behold here is nothing but what we had before. It is truth, saith the wise man; and yet I must tell you, that "to write the same things, to me indeed is not grievons, but for you it is safe." [Philippians 3:1] See the like in Psalms 49:1-3, &c. The scope of the psalm is to show the happy and secure estate of the saints in trouble, and the slippery condition of the wicked when at their height. Now whereas some might object and say, This is an ordinary argument, we have heard of it a hundred times; the Psalmist answers, that yet this is the great "wisdom" that he will speak of, and the "dark saying" that he will open. And hereunto he makes a solemn Oyez! - "Hear this, all ye people, and give ear all ye inhabitants of the world."

Because he is poor.] As the greater fish devour the lesser, and as the larger falls upon the cur and worries him, only because he is bigger than the other. This is a brutish ferity. See Psalms 10:1-18 And if those that relieve not the poor shall be damned, surely they that rob them shall be double damned.

Neither oppress the afflicted.] The poor man must needs be an afflicted man, obnoxious to all manner of injuries and hard usages. But God, who is the poor man’s king - more truly so called than James IV of Scotland was - takes order here, that no man oppress or wrong him, either at the gate of his house, whither he comes begging, or at the gate of the city, where he sues for redress of injury; let not might suppress right, lest some Cato complain, as once, and not without cause, that poor thieves sit in the stocks, when greater thieves sit on the seats of judicature. (a)


Verse 23

Proverbs 22:23 For the LORD will plead their cause, and spoil the soul of those that spoiled them.

Ver. 23. For the Lord will plead their cause.] Without fee, for those that come to him forma pauperis, and without fear of their oppressors, against whom he will plead with pestilence and with blood, [Ezekiel 38:22] as he did against the house of Saul for the poor Gibeonites, and against Ahab for Naboth.

And spoil the soul (or life) of those that spoiled them.] A poor man’s livelihood is his life. [Mark 12:42-44 Luke 8:43] He is in his house as a snail in his shell; crush that, and you kill him quite. God therefore, who loves par pari referre, to pay oppressors home in their own coin, will have life for life, if they may escape so, and not be cast to hell among those cruel ones. [Proverbs 5:9] {See Trapp on "Proverbs 5:9"} Oh that these cannibals would think of this, before the cold grave hold their bodies, and hot hell hold their souls.


Verse 24

Proverbs 22:24 Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go:

Ver. 24. Make no friendship with an angry man.] Anger is a short madness; it is a leprosy breaking out of a burning, [Leviticus 13:25] and renders a man unfit for civil society; for his unruly passions cause the climate where he lives to be like the torrid zone, too hot for any to live near him. The dog days continue with him all the year long; he rageth, and eateth firebrands, so that every man that will provide for his own safety must flee from him, as from a nettling, dangerous and unsociable creature, fit to live alone as dragons and wild beasts, or to be looked on only through a grate, as they; where, if they will do mischief, they may do it to themselves only: as Bajazet the great Turk, who, being taken by Tamerlane, and carried up and down in an iron cage, beat out his own brains against the bars thereof. (a)


Verse 25

Proverbs 22:25 Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul.

Ver. 25. Lest thou learn his ways.] As a man is an imitating creature, and easily conformed to the company he keepeth. Sin is also very spreading, and more infectious than the plague: this of rash anger especially, whereunto being naturally inclined, we shall easily get a habit of frowardness. Entireness with wicked consorts is one of the strongest chains of hell, and binds us to a participation both of sin and punishment.

And get a snare to thy soul.] This is all thou art like to get by such men’s company. An angry man - a master of anger, as the Hebrew here hath it, or rather one that is mastered by his anger, and enslaved thereunto - is fitly compared by one to a cock of the game, that quarrelsome creature, that is still bloody with the blood either of others or of himself. He flies upon his best friends sometimes, as Alexander did, and slays those whom he would revive again with his own heart blood. Dogs in a chase bark oft at their best friends.


Verse 26

Proverbs 22:26 Be not thou [one] of them that strike hands, [or] of them that are sureties for debts.

Ver. 26. Be not thou of them.] {See Trapp on "Proverbs 6:1"} {See Trapp on "Proverbs 6:2"} {See Trapp on "Proverbs 6:3"}


Verse 27

Proverbs 22:27 If thou hast nothing to pay, why should he take away thy bed from under thee?

Ver. 27. If thou hast nothing to pay.] And yet art gotten into the usurer’s furnace, he will leave thee at last neither metal nor matter.


Verse 28

Proverbs 22:28 Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set.

Ver. 28. Remove not the ancient landmark.] Unless ye covet a curse. [Deuteronomy 27:17] Let levellers look to it, and know that property is God’s ordinance; [Acts 5:4 Psalms 17:14] that magistracy is the hedge of a nation; (a) and that "he that breaks a hedge, a serpent shall bite him"; [Ecclesiastes 10:8] that the ministry is Christ’s own institution; [Ephesians 4:11] and that lay preachers may look to speed as Nadab and Abihu, as Uzzah and Uzziah, or as other usurpers: {See Trapp on "Deuteronomy 19:14"}


Verse 29

Proverbs 22:29 Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean [men].

Ver. 29. Seest thou a man diligent.] God loves nimbleness; "what thou doest, do quickly," said Christ to Judas, though it were so ill a business that he was about. Princes love such, and employ them, as Pharaoh did Joseph, and those that were men of activity among his brethren. Solomon also made use of Jeroboam for the same reason, though that was not the wisest act that ever he did. [1 Kings 11:28] How dear was Daniel to Darius, because, though sick, yet he despatched the king’s business! What favourites to our Henry VIII were Wolsey, Cromwell, Cranmer, for like reason! A diligent man shall not sit long in a low place. Or if he do all the days of his life, yet if his diligence proceed out of conscience, "he shall stand before the King" of kings when he dies. And surely if Solomon’s servants were held happy for this, and the greatest reward Solomon could promise the diligent is this in the text, what an inconceivable honour must it needs be to look for ever upon the face of God, and, angel-like, stand in his presence!

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 22:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/proverbs-22.html. 1865-1868.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, September 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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