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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
Proverbs 29

 

 

Verse 1

Proverbs 29:1 He, that being often reproved hardeneth [his] neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.

Ver. 1. He that being often reproved hardeneth his neck.] As an untamed heifer, that "pulleth away the shoulder," [Zechariah 7:11] and detracteth the yoke; or as the creature called monoceros, the unicorn, interimi potest, capi non potest, (a) may be slain but not taken; so those that refuse to be reformed, (b) hate to be healed, will not bend, shall surely and severely be broken, certissime citissimeque confringentur, they shall certainly and suddenly be dashed in pieces as a potter’s vessel, that cannot be pieced together again. [Isaiah 30:13-14] Shall iron break the northern iron and the steel, [Jeremiah 15:12] and shall not the fierce wrath of God shatter and shiver out a silly sinner that will needs stout it out with him, and yet is no more able to stand before him than a glass bottle before a cannon shot? Let Eli’s sons, and such refractories, look for ruin. The prophet fitly compares them to headstrong horses that get the bit into their mouths, run desperately upon the rocks, and so in short time break first their hoofs and then their necks. Queen Elizabeth, in talking with Marshal Biron - whom the French king sent ambassador to her, anno 1601 - sharply accused Essex (who had recently lost his head) of obstinacy, rash counsels, and wilful disdaining to ask pardon, and wished that the French king would rather use mild severity than careless clemency, and cut off the heads of treacherous persons in time, &c. This might have terrified Biron from those wicked attempts which he was even at this time plotting against his king, had not his mind been besotted. But the power of his approaching fate did so blind him, that within few months after he underwent the same death that Essex did - though nothing so piously and Christianly, as having hardened his neck against wholesome counsel. (c) Now if men harden their hearts, God will harden his hand, and hasten their destruction, and that without remedy.


Verse 2

Proverbs 29:2 When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.

Ver. 2. When the righteous are in authority.] Or, Are increased, as Proverbs 28:28; {See Trapp on "Proverbs 28:28"}

The people mourn.] Heb., Sigh (as the oppressed Israelites in Egypt did) where they dare not speak out. But what a bloody tyrant was Sulla, who put to death Marcus Plaetorius only for sighing at the cruel execution of Marcus Marius! So one Lancelot was burnt in Giles’s fields for pitying the cruel death of a couple of martyrs. (a)


Verse 3

Proverbs 29:3 Whoso loveth wisdom rejoiceth his father: but he that keepeth company with harlots spendeth [his] substance.

Ver. 3. Whoso loveth wisdom rejoiceth his father.] {See Trapp on "Proverbs 10:1"}

But he that keepeth company with harlots.] {See Trapp on "Proverbs 5:9"} Those she sinners, as they call them, are costly creatures, and they that keep them care not what cost they cast away upon them.


Verse 4

Proverbs 29:4 The king by judgment establisheth the land: but he that receiveth gifts overthroweth it.

Ver. 4. The king by judgment stablisheth the land.] This one piece of Solomon’s politics hath much more good advice in it than all Lypsius’s Beehive, or Machiavel’s Spider web.

But he that receiveth gifts.] Heb., A man of oblations; that is, as some interpret it, a man that sacreligiously meddleth with things dedicated to pious uses, and makes a gain of them to himself. See Proverbs 20:25.


Verse 5

Proverbs 29:5 A man that flattereth his neighbour spreadeth a net for his feet.

Ver. 5. A man that flattereth his neighbour, &c.] A smooth boots, as the word (a) signifies, a butterspoken man, {see Isaiah 3:12} or a divided man, for a flatterer’s tongue is divided from his heart.


Verse 6

Proverbs 29:6 In the transgression of an evil man [there is] a snare: but the righteous doth sing and rejoice.

Ver. 6. In the transgression of an evil man there is a snare.] Or, A cord - viz., to strangle his joy with - to check and choke all his comforts. In the midst of his mirth he hath many a secret gripe, and little knows the world where his shoe pincheth him. Every fowl that hath a seemly feather hath not the sweetest flesh, nor doth every tree that bringeth a goodly leaf bear good fruit. Glass giveth a clearer sound than silver, and many things glitter besides gold. The wicked man’s jollity is but the hypocrisy of mirth; it may wet the mouth, but not warm the heart - smooth the brow, but not fill the breast. We may be sure, that as Jezebel had a cold heart under a painted complexion, so many a man’s heart aches and quakes within him when his face counterfeits a smile.

But the righteous sing and rejoice.] Good men only may be glad, and none have any reason to rejoice but they. [Hosea 9:1] The Papists have a proverb, Spiritus Calvinianus est spiritus melancholicus, and the mad world are easily persuaded by the devil that there is no comfort in a Christian course - that your precise fellows live a melancholy and monkish kind of life, and have no joy of anything. Herein the devil deals like those inhospitable savages in America, that make great fires, and set forth terrible sights upon their country’s shore, purposely to frighten passengers from landing there. And as those wicked spies brought up an evil report of the land of Canaan, and thereby discouraged the people, so doth the devil and his imps of the purity of religion and power of godliness as uncouth and uncomfortable, when in truth there is no sound comfort without it - no true joy but in it. Though Saul could not be merry without a fiddler, Ahab without Naboth’s vineyard, Haman without Mordecai’s courtesy, yet a righteous man can be merry without all these. Yea, as the lily is fresh, beautiful, and looks pleasantly, though among thorns, so can he amidst troubles. Paul - than whom never any out of hell suffered more - did not only glory in tribulation, but "overabound exceedingly with joy." [2 Corinthians 7:4]


Verse 7

Proverbs 29:7 The righteous considereth the cause of the poor: [but] the wicked regardeth not to know [it].

Ver. 7. The righteous considereth the cause of the poor.] The cause, not the person of the poor, for that is forbidden in the law. [Leviticus 19:15] The great must not be favoured for their might, nor the mean for their misery, but justice, justice must be done to all, as Moses hath it; that is, even law and execution of right - as the oath runs that is given to our judges - without respect of persons. The cause of the poor and needy must come into equal balance with the rich and mighty, lest he be trampled on by those fat bulls of Bashan, to his utter undoing. For a poor man in his house is like a snail in his shell - crush that, and ye kill him.

But the wicked regardeth not to know it.] Unless there were more to be got by it. Felix had soon enough of Paul’s defence, because he expected some bribe from him; but nothing came. How ill-willing was that unjust judge, [Luke 18:1-8] either to take knowledge of, or to take course for, the relief of the poor widow! Aperi bursam, apperiam buccam, saith the greedy lawyer. They that cannot lavish money out of the bag are little welcome to these Crumenimulgae, as one calls them - these purse suckers, that will weigh your gold, but not your cause; and if a man put not into their mouths, they even prepare war against him. [Micah 3:5]


Verse 8

Proverbs 29:8 Scornful men bring a city into a snare: but wise [men] turn away wrath.

Ver. 8. Scornful men bring a city into a snare.] The Vulgate render it, Pestilent persons undo a city or a state; as Nahash did the Ammonites, [1 Samuel 11:2; 1 Samuel 11:11] and as his son Hanan did much more. [2 Samuel 10:4; 2 Samuel 12:31] Mocking is catching, as the pestilence, and no less pernicious to the whole country. Geraldus Cambrensis tells of three Irish kings that, being derided for their rude habits and fashions, rebelled, and set the country in a combustion. And the young King of France, jesting at William the Conqueror’s great belly, whereof he said he lay in at Rouen, so irritated him, as he being recovered of a sickness, entered France in the chiefest time of their fruits, making spoil of all in his way, till he came even to Paris, where this scornful king then was, to show him of his visiting, and from thence marched to the city of Mants, which he utterly sacked and ransacked, razed and harassed. (a)

But wise men turn away wrath.] They stand in the gap, and divert the divine displeasure. [Psalms 106:23 Ezekiel 13:5] Their persons are in acceptation; God will look upon them, and do much for them, when he is most of all angry with the wicked. [Exodus 32:10; Exodus 32:14 Job 22:30 Genesis 18:32] Their prayers also are prevalent. Something the Lord will yield thereunto, when most bitterly bent against a people, [Matthew 24:20] and when unchangeably resolved upon their ruin, he takes course to silence such; "Pray not for this people." " Sanctum semen statumen terrae" [Isaiah 6:13] "The innocent shall deliver the island." [Job 22:30]


Verse 9

Proverbs 29:9 [If] a wise man contendeth with a foolish man, whether he rage or laugh, [there is] no rest.

Ver. 9. If a wise man contendeth with a foolish man.] Such fools were the Pharisees, though for their worldly wisdom called princes of this world. [1 Corinthians 2:8] Christ piped to them, John mourned to them, neither wrought upon them. [Matthew 11:16-17] Such was their peevishness and pertinace in evil, that they "rejected the counsel of God against themselves," [Luke 7:30] being ingrati gratiae Dei, as Ambrose hath it; receiving the grace of God in vain, as Paul; turning good nourishment into vicious humours, as foul stomachs use to do. And as wine, a strong remedy against hemlock, yet mingled with it, doubles the force of the poison; so was it with the most powerful means of grace, mingled with their obstinace and unbelief. Tigers are enraged with perfumes, and vultures killed with oil of roses, as Aristotle writes.


Verse 10

Proverbs 29:10 The bloodthirsty hate the upright: but the just seek his soul.

Ver. 10. The bloodthirsty hate the upright.] As Cain did Abel for his goodness, [1 John 3:12] and as many bloody villains still, who bear about, and, so far as they dare, make use of Cain’s club to knock on the head God’s righteous Abels. All hatred is bloody, but especially the habit of hatred. No sight pleased Hannibal better than a ditch running over with man’s blood. Nothing would satisfy Farnesius, the Pope’s champion, but to ride his horse up to the skirts in the blood of the Lutherans. Charles IX of France, author of the Parisian Massacre, looking upon the dead carcase of the admiral, that stank by being long kept unburied, uttered this most stinking speech: Quam suaviter olet cadaver inimiei! - How sweet is the smell of an enemy’s carcase! And the queen mother of Scotland, beholding the dead bodies of her Protestant subjects, whom she had slain in battle, said that she never saw a finer piece of tapestry in all her life.

But the just seek his soul.] In a good sense; {as Psalms 142:4} seek the salvation of it - as Christ did of his deadliest enemies; as Paul did of his countrymen the Jews, of whom five times he received forty stripes save one; [2 Corinthians 11:24] as the disciples did of those spiteful Pharisees, that had causelessly accused them; [Matthew 15:2; Matthew 15:12] as that martyr Master Saunders did. ‘My lord,’ said he to Bishop Bonner, ‘you seek my blood, and you shall have it. I pray God you may be so baptized in it that you may hereafter loathe bloodsucking, and so become a better man.’ (a) And another time, when Steven Gardiner, being prettily nipped and touched by the same Saunders, said, ‘Carry away this frenzy fool to prison’; he answered, that ‘he did give God thanks, which had given him at the last a place of rest and quietness, where he might pray for the bishop’s conversion.’ ‘If ye will not hear me speak for myself,’ said another martyr, ‘then send me to my prison again among my toads and frogs, which will not interrupt me, while I pray to God for you.’ (b)


Verse 11

Proverbs 29:11 A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise [man] keepeth it in till afterwards.

Ver. 11. A fool uttereth all his mind.] He is full of chinks, and can hold nothing; his heart lies so near his mouth, that he will out suddenly. פתי, a fool, and פתאם, suddenly, are from the same root. He hath little command of himself at any time, but especially when he is angry; then he sputters and spews out all that he hath in his heart. The Septuagint here translate, A fool uttereth all his anger, θυμον; he pulls out his wooden dagger, and cares not whom he hits. Bishop Bonner, in his visitation, because the bells rang not at his coming into Hadham, nor the church dressed up as it should, called Doctor Bricket knave and heretic; and, striking at him, gave Sir Thomas Josselin, who then stood next to the bishop, a good buffet under the ear; whereat the knight, somewhat astonished at the suddenness of the quarrel, said, ‘What meaneth your lordship? have you been trained up in Will Summers’ school, to strike him that stands next you?’ The bishop, still in a rage, either heard not or would not hear. And when Mr Fecknam would have excused him by his long imprisonment in the Marshalsea, whereby he was grown testy, he replied merrily, ‘So it seems, Mr Fecknam; for now that he is come forth of the Marshalsea, he is ready to go to Bedlam.’ (a) See Proverbs 14:23.

But a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards.] Or, In an inner room, (b) in the bottom and bosom of his mind, till he see a fit season; as knowing well that all truths are not fit for all times, but discretion must be used, and taciturnity counted a virtue. The Rabbis have this saying among them: Masosa sepes legi, decimae divitiis, vota sanctimoniae, silentiurn sapientiae. Silence is no less a mound to wisdom than vows are to holiness, tithing to riches, or their Masorite’s pains to the law. Open heartedness is a fruit of foolhardiness. Gird up, therefore, the loins of your minds with the golden girdle of meekness, of wisdom; and "keep your mouth with a bridle while the wicked is before you." [Psalms 39:1]


Verse 12

Proverbs 29:12 If a ruler hearken to lies, all his servants [are] wicked.

Ver. 12. If a ruler hearken to lies, all his servants are wicked.] He shall have his Aiones and Negones, that will say as he says, and fit his humour to a hair, as Doeg did Saul’s, as the false prophets did Ahab’s, as Herod’s courtiers did him on his birthday feast, &c. These were fit helves for such hatchets, fit lettuce for such lips, fit servants for such masters.

“Mobile mutatur semper eum principe vulgus.”

Claudian.

Like prince, like people. The common sort are like a flock of cranes; as the first fly, all follow. Or as in a beast, the whole body follows the head. Rulers are the looking glasses according to which most men dress themselves. Their sins do much hurt, as by imputation - 2 Samuel 24:15-17, the prince sinned, the people suffered (a) - so by imitation; for man is a creature apt to imitate, and is led more by his eyes than by his ears. Magis intuentur quid fecerit Iupiter, quam quid docuit Plato, saith Augustine. Jupiter’s adulteries drew the people to like wantonness. Hence Chaerea in Terence, Haec ego non facerem quae Iupiter fecit? saith he, Should I make dainty of doing that which Jupiter did? Height of place ever adds two wings to sin, example and scandal, whereby it soars higher, and flies much farther. Let rulers, therefore, look to it. Let them not be "partakers of other men’s sins" [1 Timothy 5:22] - they have enough of their own to answer for. Potentes potenter torquebuntur - let them take heed that "the iniquity of their heels," of those that follow them at the heels, "doth not compass them about." [Psalms 69:5]


Verse 13

Proverbs 29:13 The poor and the deceitful man meet together: the LORD lighteneth both their eyes.

Ver. 13. The poor and the usurer meet together.] That is, The poor and the rich, as Proverbs 22:2; because commonly usurers are rich men, and many rich men usurers. "The Lord lighteneth both their eyes"; that is, he gives them the light of life, [Job 1:8] and the comforts of life, [Matthew 5:45] so that their eyes are lightened, as Jonathan’s were after he had tasted of the wild honey. [1 Samuel 14:25-30] Others read it thus: "The poor and the deceived," or crushed by the usurer, "meet together" - that is, condole or comfort one another; because they are both in the dark, as it were, of poverty and misery; they can do one another but little help, more than by commending their cases to God, who thereupon "enlighteneth them both" - that is, either he supplies their wants, and so their eyes are opened, as Jonathan’s were; or else gives them patience, as he did those believing Hebrews. [Proverbs 10:32] But "call to remembrance the former days in which after ye were illuminated" - viz., to see the glory that shall be revealed, whereof all the sufferings of this life are not worthy [Romans 8:18] - ye endured a great fight of affliction. If we read it, "The poor and the usurer meet together: the Lord enlighteneth both their eyes," understand it thus: The poor man he enlighteneth by patience, the usurer by repentance, and grace to "break off his sins by righteousness, and his iniquity by showing mercy to the poor," as Zaccheus, Matthew, and those usurious Jews did. [Nehemiah 5:10-11]


Verse 14

Proverbs 29:14 The king that faithfully judgeth the poor, his throne shall be established for ever.

Ver. 14. The king that faithfully judgeth the poor, &c.] An office not unbeseeming the greatest king, to sit in person to hear the poor man’s cause. James IV of Scotland was for this cause called the poor man’s king. I have seen, saith a late traveller, the King of Persia many times to alight from his horse, only to do justice to a poor body. "Help, O king!" said the poor woman to Jehoram. And if thou will not hear and right me, why dost thou take upon thee to be king? said another woman to Philip, King of Macedonia. It is a mercy to have judges mode audeant quae sentiunt, as the orator hath it, (a) so that they have courage to do what they judge fit to be done. Inferior judges may be weighed and swayed, by gifts or greatness of an adversary, to pass an unrighteous sentence. Not so a king; he neither needs nor fears any man, but is, if he be right - as one saith of a just law - a heart without affection, an eye without lust, a mind without passion, a treasurer which keepeth for every man what he hath, and distributeth to every man what he ought to have.

Pασι δικαια νεμει μηδε κρισιν ες χαριν ελκει.” - Phocyl.

Lo, such a prince shall sit firm upon his throne; his kingdom shall be bound to him with chains of adamant, as Dionysius dreamt that his was; he shall have the hearts of his subjects, which is the best life-guard, and God for his protection; for he is professedly the poor man’s patron, [Psalms 9:18-19] and makes heavy complaints of those that wrong them. [Isaiah 3:13-15; Isaiah 10:1-3; Amos 5:11-12; Amos 8:4-6; Zephaniah 3:12]


Verse 15

Proverbs 29:15 The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left [to himself] bringeth his mother to shame.

Ver. 15. The rod and reproof give wisdom.] If reproof do the deed, the rod may be spared, and not else. Chrysippus is by some cried out upon as the first that brought the use of a rod into the schools; but there is no doing without it; for children are foolish, apt to imitate others in their vices, before they know them to be vices; and though better taught, yet easily corrupted by evil company, as young lapwings are soon snatched up by every buzzard. Now, therefore, as moths are beaten out of garments with a rod, so must vices out of children’s hearts. Vexatio dat intellectum: Smart makes wit; it is put in with the rod of correction. See Proverbs 22:15.

But a child left to himself bringeth his mother, &c.] For her fondness in cockering of him, and hiding his faults from his father, lest he should correct or cashier him. Mothers have a main hand in education of the children, and usually partus sequitur ventrem, the birth follows the belly, as we see in the kings of Judah, whose mothers are therefore frequently nominated. No wonder, therefore, though the mother deeply share in the shame and grief of her darling’s miscarriages. See Proverbs 15:20.


Verse 16

Proverbs 29:16 When the wicked are multiplied, transgression increaseth: but the righteous shall see their fall.

Ver. 16. When the wicked are multiplied, transgression increaseth.] As saith the proverb of the ancients: Wickedness proceedeth from the wicked. Miserable man hath, by his fall from God, contracted a necessity of sinning against God. And when a rabble of rebels are gotten together, are grown many and mighty, they make account to carry all before them, and not to suffer a godly man to live - as in Spain, and where the Inquisition is admitted. But the righteous shall see their fall; shall see it and rejoice at it, as the Hebrew doctors expound this text by comparing it with Obadiah 1:12-13, "Thou shouldest not have looked on the day of thy brother in the day of his calamity, neither shouldest thou have rejoiced over the children of Judah," &c. "The righteous shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeance"; being moved with a zeal of God, he shall rejoice with trembling; "he shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked"; beholding their ruin he shall become more cautious; (a) "so that a man shall say," - any man but of an ordinary capacity shall make this observation - "Verily, there is a reward for the righteous; verily he is a God that judgeth in the earth," [Psalms 58:10-11] that will sink to the bottom the bottle of wickedness, when once filled with those bitter waters. [Genesis 15:16]


Verse 17

Proverbs 29:17 Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul.

Ver. 17. Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest.] He will grow so towardly, that thou shalt with less ado rule him when grown up; or at least, thou shalt have peace within, in that thou hast used God’s means to mend him.

Yea, he shall give delight.] See Proverbs 10:1. The often urging this nurturing of children, shows that it is a most necessary, but much neglected duty.


Verse 18

Proverbs 29:18 Where [there is] no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy [is] he.

Ver. 18. Where there is no vision the people perish.] Or, Are barred of all virtue; laid naked and open to the dint of divine displeasure; scattered, worsted, and driven back. Great is the misery of those Brazilians, of whom it is said that they are sine fide, sine rege, sine lege, without faith, king, or law. And no less unhappy those Israelites about Asa’s time, that for a long season had been "without the true God, and without a teaching priest, and without law." [2 Chronicles 15:3] Then it was that God’s "people were destroyed for lack of knowledge"; [Hosea 4:6] and not long after, that they sorrowfully complained that there was "no more any prophet among them, nor any that knew how long" [Psalms 74:9] - no minister, ordinary or extraordinary. How did it pity our Saviour to see the people "as sheep without a shepherd!" This troubled him more than their bodily bondage to the Romans, which yet was very grievous. [Matthew 9:36] And what good heart can but bleed to think of those once flourishing churches of Asia and Africa, now overspread partly with Mohammedanism and partly with heathenism; and that by the most miserable occasion might befall - namely, famine of the word of God, through lack of ministers! What a world of sects, superstitions, and other horrible abuses got into the Church of Rome, when prophecy was suppressed, and reading the Holy Scriptures inhibited! - and what a slaughter of souls ensued thereupon! Letters were framed by some, as sent from hell to the Popish clergy (A.D. 1072), wherein the devil and his angels give them many thanks for such a number of souls sent them down daily, by their neglect of preaching, as had never been before. (a) Hence it was that in this kingdom, at the first Reformation, for want of ministers, readers were sent; whence one of the martyrs wished that every able minister might have ten congregations committed to his charge, till further provision could be made; for of preaching it may be said, as once David did of Goliath’s sword, "There is none to that" for conversion of souls; as where that is wanting people go tumbling to hell thick and threefold.

But he that keepeth the law, happy is he.] Though to want the word preached and sincerely handled, rightly divided - for as every sound is not music, so every pulpit discourse is not a sermon - be a great unhappiness, a ready road to utter ruin; yet is not the bare hearing of it that which renders a man blessed, unless he "hide it in his heart," with David, and "lift up his hands" to the practice of it. [Psalms 119:48] The words of the law are, verba vivenda non legenda, as one said - words to be lived, and not read only. Let not your lives be Antinomians, no more than your opinions, saith another. That is a monstrous opinion of some Swenckfeldiains, that a man was never truly mortified till he had put out all sense of sin, or care of duty: if his conscience troubled him about such things, that was his imperfection; he was not mortified enough. (b) Some of our Antinomians are not far from this. Their predecessors in Germany held that the law and works only belong to the court of Rome; that good works are perniciosa ad salutem, (c) hurtful and hindersome to salvation; that that saying of Peter, "Make your calling and election sure" by good works, was dictum inutile, an unprofitable saying - and Peter did not understand Christian liberty: that as soon as a man begins to think how he should live a godly and modest life, he wandereth from the gospel. David George 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. (d) This fellow was sure somewhat akin to those Carpocratian heretics in St John’s days, who taught that men must sin, and do the will of all the devils, otherwise they could not enter into heaven. (e)


Verse 19

Proverbs 29:19 A servant will not be corrected by words: for though he understand he will not answer.

Ver. 19. A servant will not be corrected by words.] Some servants will not, but must have blows. If words will do, they must be chidden with good words, and not reviled. Christians must be "no brawlers, but gentle, showing all meekness to all men"; [Titus 3:2] and masters must "do the same things, forbearing threatening, knowing that their Master also is in heaven, neither is there respect of persons with him." [Ephesians 6:9] Severitas nec sit tetra nec tetrica, saith Sidonius. (a) But because some mastigiae are of so servile a disposition, that they must be beaten to their work, like those Phrygians, Qui non nisi flagris castigantur, that will do nothing longer than scourged to it; or the Russian women, that love that husband best that beats them most, and think themselves else not regarded, unless two or three times a day well favouredly swaddled. (b) Therefore let him that knows his Master’s will, and yet, out of stoutness, sullenness, or laziness, will not do it, be beaten with many stripes; let him be "buffeted for his faults," [1 Peter 2:20] and made serviceable in all things, "not gainsaying, not purloining." [Titus 2:9-10]


Verse 20

Proverbs 29:20 Seest thou a man [that is] hasty in his words? [there is] more hope of a fool than of him.

Ver. 20. Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words.] Or, Matters; that weighs not his words before he utters them, but too soon shoots his fool’s bolt, let it light where it will, hit or miss, it matters not; that had rather be reckoned temerarious than timorous, and is with child till delivered of an abortive birth; that rashly rusheth on the weightiest businesses, and holds it loss of time to take counsel; this hasty, headlong man, as he never wants woe, so - because he is no less headstrong than headlong, wise in his own conceit, than witless in every man’s else - there is more hope of a natural than of him, and sooner he will be wrought upon. Scaliger (a) tells us the nature of some kind of amber is such, that it will draw to itself all kind of stalks of any herb, except basilisk, a herb called capitalis, because it maketh men heady, filling their brains with black exhalations. Thus those hastings, who, by the fumes of their corrupt wills are grown headstrong, and by it are conceited, [Proverbs 26:12] will not be drawn by that which draws others that are of lower parts and capacities, it being easier to deal with twenty men’s reasons than with one man’s will. Good therefore is the counsel of St James, "Be swift to hear, slow to speak," &c., and of the preacher, [Ecclesiastes 5:2] "Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thy heart be hasty to utter anything before God," in prayer, vows, and especially in preaching. It was a wise speech of Aristides, who being required of the emperor to speak to something propounded ex tempore, answered, Propound today, and I will answer tomorrow; for we are not of those that spit or vomit things, but of those that do them carefully and accurately. (b) Demosthenes in like manner, when it was objected unto him that he came premeditated to plead, answered, that he, if it might be possible, would plead, Non tantum scripta sed etiam sculpta, not things written only, but even engraven. And when Eccius told Melanchthon that it was little for his praise that he was so long ere he answered his adversaries’ arguments - he would take three days sometimes to think on it - he replied, Nos non quaerimus gloriam, sed veritatem, We seek not victory but verity.


Verse 21

Proverbs 29:21 He that delicately bringeth up his servant from a child shall have him become [his] son at the length.

Ver. 21. He that delicately bringeth up his servant.] A master that would be, as he ought, both loved and feared by his servants, must see to two things: - (1.) The well-choosing; and (2.) The well using of them. This Solomon himself, that thus adviseth here, was not so well advised of; for he saw that Jeroboam, who gave occasion, as it is conceived, of uttering this proverb, was meet for the work, and therefore, not examining his religion, entertained him into his service, yea, placed him over the family of Joseph, admitted him into so much familiarity, and so let loose the bridle of domestic discipline to him, that he took estate upon him as a young master in the house, and soon after turned traitor, and would needs be as his son, and more. The like is to be seen in Abner, Ishbosheth’s servant, who grew so haughty and haunty, that he might not be spoken to, [2 Samuel 3:7-11] and in Zimri, whom his master Elah so favoured and esteemed, that he made him captain over the half part of his chariots. But this beggar, thus set on horseback, rides without reins, to the ruin of his master and his whole house. [1 Kings 16:11] So true is that of the poet -

Aφορητος εστι μαστιγιας ευτυχων.”

“Asperius nihil est humili dum surgit in altum.”

Tobiah the servant is so insolent there is no dealing with him.


Verse 22

Proverbs 29:22 An angry man stirreth up strife, and a furious man aboundeth in transgression.

Ver. 22. An angry man stirreth up strife.] See Proverbs 15:18; Proverbs 16:21.

And a furious man.] Heb. A master of fury; or one that is mastered and overmatched by his fury; that hath no command of his passions, but is transported by them, or - as some make the metaphor, and the original will well bear it - is wedded to them as a man is to his wife: commanded by them, as the Persian kings were by their concubines, being captivarum suarum captivi, (a) slaves to their slaves. Such a man being big with wrath, not only breeds contention, but brings forth transgression in great abundance, he "sets his mouth against heaven, and his tongue walketh through the earth," &c., [Psalms 73:9] he lets fly on both hands, and lays about him like a madman.


Verse 23

Proverbs 29:23 A man’s pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit.

Ver. 23. A man’s pride shall bring him low.] For it sets God against him, and angels, and men, not good men only, but bad men too, and those that are as proud as themselves. For whereas one drunkard loves another and one thief another, &c., one proud person cannot endure another, but seeks to undermine him, that he alone may bear the bell, carry the commendation, the praise and promotion. See Proverbs 11:12; Proverbs 15:33; Proverbs 18:12.


Verse 24

Proverbs 29:24 Whoso is partner with a thief hateth his own soul: he heareth cursing, and bewrayeth [it] not.

Ver. 24. Whoso is partner with a thief hateth his own soul.] Since to hold the bag is as bad as to fill it; to consent to sin or to conceal it, as bad as to commit it. By the one as well as by the other, a man may easily become, as Korah did, "a sinner against his own soul," and cruelly cut the throat of it. Let our public thieves look to this. See Isaiah 1:23.

He heareth cursing, and bewrayeth it not.] See Leviticus 5:1. {See Trapp on "Leviticus 5:1"} To conceal treason is treason, so here. "Have no fellowship therefore with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them." Let me be counted proud or pragmatic, saith Luther, (a) rather than found guilty of sinful silence, while my Lord suffereth.


Verse 25

Proverbs 29:25 The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.

Ver. 25. The fear of man bringeth a snare.] This cowardly passion expectorates and exposes a man to many, both sins and sufferings. And albeit faith, when it is in the heart, quelleth and killeth distrustful fear, and is therefore fitly opposed to it in this sacred sentence: yet in the very best sense fights sore against faith when it is upon its own dunghill. I mean in a sensible danger. Nature’s retraction of itself from a visible fear, may cause the pulse of a Christian that beats truly and strongly in the main point, the state of the soul, to intermit and falter at such a time, as we see in the examples of Abraham, Isaac, David, Peter, others who showed some trepidation and timidity, and, like fearful birds and beasts, fell into the pits and toils of the hunter, and hazarded themselves to God’s displeasure. The chameleon is said to be the most fearful of all creatures, and doth therefore turn himself into so many colours to avoid danger, which yet will not be. God equally hateth the timorous and the treacherous. "Fearful" men are the first in that black roll. [Revelation 21:8]

But he that trusteth in the Lord shall be safe.] (a) Or, Set on high, as on a rock; his place of defence shall be munitions of rocks, [Isaiah 33:16] far out of harm’s way; he shall be kept safe, as in a tower of brass, or town of war. "Even the youth shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall; but they that wait upon the Lord shall mount up with wings as eagles," &c. [Isaiah 40:30-31] Like as the coney that flies to the holes in the rocks doth easily avoid the dogs that pursue her, when the hare that trusts to the swiftness of her legs is at length overtaken and tore in pieces: so here.


Verse 26

Proverbs 29:26 Many seek the ruler’s favour; but [every] man’s judgment [cometh] from the LORD.

Ver. 26. Many seek the ruler’s favour.] More than the love of God; and so cast themselves into a second "snare," besides that [of] Proverbs 29:25. But as he that truly trusts in God will easily expel the fear of man: so he that looks upon God as Judge of all, from whose sentence there is no appeal, will rather seek his face than the favour of any earthly judge whatsoever. Especially since, whether the judge clear him or cast him, the judgment he passeth is from the Lord.


Verse 27

Proverbs 29:27 An unjust man [is] an abomination to the just: and [he that is] upright in the way [is] abomination to the wicked.

Ver. 27. An unjust man is an abomination to the just.] Who yet hates, non virum sed vitium, not the person of a wicked man, but his sin - as the physician hates the disease, but loves the patient, and strives to recover him - he abhors that which is evil, perfectly hates it, [Psalms 139:22] hates it as hell so the Greek word (a) signifies; [Romans 12:9] hates it in his dearest friends, as Asa did in his mother Maachah; hates it most of all in himself, as having the divine nature transfused into him, whereby he resembles God, and that life of God, whereunto sin, he knows, is a destructive poison, a sickness unto death. [1 John 5:16] Hence his implacable and no less impartial hatred of all as well as any sin, for all hatred is προς τα γενη, as Aristotle (b) hath it, to the whole kind. It was said of Antony that he hated a tyrant, not tyranny; it cannot be said of a saint he hates sinners, not sin, but the contrary.

And he that is upright in the way, is abomination to the wicked.] So there is no love lost between them. The devil hath set his limbs in all wicked people; they are a serpentine seed, a viperous brood, and the old enmity continues. [Genesis 3:15] {See Trapp on "Genesis 3:15"} Antipathies there are in nature, as between the elephant and boar, the lion and cock, the horse and the stone called taraxippe, &c. But this is nothing to that between the godly and the wicked; and why? but because the one’s works are good, and the other’s evil; and because the just man condemns the unjust by his contrary courses; yea, he frightens his heart, and terrifies him with his presence and company.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 29:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/proverbs-29.html. 1865-1868.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, December 10th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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