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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical
Proverbs 24

 

 

Verses 1-22

d) Warning against intercourse with wicked and foolish men

Proverbs 24:1-22

1 Be not envious of evil men,

and desire not to be with them,

2 for their heart studieth violence,

and their lips talk of mischief.—

3 By wisdom is the house builded,

and by understanding is it established;

4 by knowledge shall the chambers be filled

with all treasure that is precious and pleasant.

5 The wise man is full of strength,

and the man of understanding increaseth strength,;

6 for with wise counsel shalt thou mate war,

and victory is in abundance of counsellors-—

7 Wisdom is too high for the fool;

he openeth not his mouth in the gate.

8 He that deviseth to do evil

shall be called a mischievous person.

9 The device of folly is sin,

and the scorner is an abomination to men.

10 If thou faint in the day of adversity

thy strength is small.

11 Deliver them that are taken to death,

and them that totter toward destruction, oh rescue them!

12 If thou sayest, Lo, we knew it not!

He that weigheth hearts will He not mark it ?

He that watcheth over thy soul, will He not know it ?

and He requiteth man according to his work.

13 My Song of Solomon, eat honey because it is good,

and honey comb which is sweet to thy taste;

14 so acquaint thyself with wisdom for thy soul;

when thou hast found it and the end cometh

thy hope also shall not be cut off.

15 Plot not as a wicked man against the dwelling of the righteous,

assault not his dwelling-place;

16 for seven times doth the righteous fall and riseth again,

but the wicked shall plunge into destruction.

17 When thine enemy falleth rejoice not,

and if he stumbleth let not thine heart be glad;

18 lest Jehovah see it, and it be evil in His eyes,

and He turn away His anger from him.—

19 Be not enraged at evil doers,

envy not the wicked.

20 For no future shall there be to the evil;

the light of the wicked shall be put out.

21 My Song of Solomon, fear thou Jehovah and the King,

and go not with those who are given to change;

22 for suddenly shall their calamity rise,

and the destruction of them both, who knoweth it ?

GRAMMATICAL AND CRITICAL

Proverbs 24:6. לְךָ a dativus commodi [“ for thyself, thy advantage or interest”]; comp. לָמֹו, Proverbs 23:20.

[Comp. Greek, § 156, 3, etc.).

Proverbs 24:8. For the construction of קָרָא with לְ comp16:21.

Proverbs 24:11. אִם stands here for לוּ, utinam, as in Psalm 81:9; Psalm 139:19; it is not to be regarded (as the LXX, Vulg, Umbreit, etc, take it) as a negative particle of adjuration, in the sense of μη, ja nicht, by no means. [See also Fuerst, sub v. For the time implied in the Part. לְקֻחִים, comp. rem. on22:15; such, as have been taken and are now in that condition. For the full form תַּחְשׂוֹךְ comp. Crit. Notes on22:7, 8.—A.].

Proverbs 24:13. נֹפֶת an apparent fem, construed here as masc. See Bött. § 648, b, and n1.—A.].

[Comp. Bött. §§ 396, 956, c, 960, a; and Green, § § 97, 1, b, 148, 3.—A.].

[For the form בִּכָּשְׁלֹו instead of the fuller Niphal form, see Bött. § § 990, 1, b, 1036, 2; and Green, § § 91, b, 231, 5, a.—A.].

EXEGETICAL

1. Proverbs 24:1-2. Warning against intercourse with results wicked men (lit. “men of evil,” comp28:5;) comp. Proverbs 24:19; Proverbs 23:17; with. Proverbs 24:1, a, comp.also23:3, 6; with2 a comp15:28.

2. Proverbs 24:3-6. Praise of wisdom and its salutary results.—By wisdom is the house builded. Comp14:1, where it is specifically the wisdom of woman that is commended as builder of the house, for the expression in3, b, comp3:19; for Proverbs 24:4 comp. also3:10; 8:21.

Proverbs 24:5. The wise man is full of strength, lit, is “in strength,” i.e, furnished with strength, powerful; comp. the corresponding phrase in Psalm 29:4. The LXX, Syr, Chald, read מֵעוֹז, i.e, more than, better than strength; comp16:32. But the Masoretic reading plainly gives us a simpler and more pertinent meaning.—And the man of understanding (lit. “man of knowledge”) increaseth strength, lit, “maketh power strong,” (comp2:14) he develops mighty strength (comp. the phrase in Job 9:19), he makes it available as a quality of his own.

Proverbs 24:6. For with wise counsel must thou make war, lit. “must thou carry on war for thyself,” i.e, must thou bring thy war to an end, carry it through. [So M, Wordsw, K, etc.]. Comp20:18, and for clause b, 11:14; 15:22.

3. Proverbs 24:7-10. Four separate Proverbs, directed against folly, intrigue, scoffing and faint-heartedness.—Wisdom is too high for the fool. רָאמוֹת is strictly “heights” (excelsa, Vulg.), i.e, unattainably distant things, objects which are altogether too high; comp. Psalm 10:5; Isaiah 30:18. Hitzig conjectures a double meaning, so far forth as the word in the form before us could have meant at the same time also “corals, costly ornaments” (in accordance with Job 28:18).—He openeth not his mouth in the gate; i.e, in judicial consultations and transactions of his fellow-citizens (comp22:22) he can bring forward nothing. [“He wore two fools if he should,” says Trapp, “for while he holds his tongue he is held wise”].

Proverbs 24:8. Shall be called (him they call) a mischievous person—a master or lord of mischief (an expression equivalent to that in Proverbs 12:2, “a man of wicked devices”). [“This is his property and ownership, mischief and wrong.” Wordsw.]

Proverbs 24:9. The device (meditation) of folly is sin;i.e, there also where folly (or the fool, abstr. pro concr.) acts with consideration, and goes to work with a reflective prudence (זִמָּה, a similar term to that in Proverbs 24:8), it still brings to pass nothing good, but always only evil. It is indeed even worse with the scoffer, who, according to clause b, is an abhorrence and abomination to all men, because Hebrews, with his evil plans and counsels, unites furthermore great shrewdness, subtle wit, refined speculation—in general the exact opposite of folly.

Proverbs 24:10. If thou hast shown thyself faint in the day of adversity (anxiety, distress), thy strength is small;i.e, thou art a coward and weakling, whose courage is feeble, and whose moral power and capacity for resistance Isaiah, as it were, crippled. Less appropriately Umbreit, Elster, etc (following the Vulg, Targum, etc.) “then sinketh thy strength also” (imminuetur fortitudo tua). But Hitzig’s emendation is also needless, רוּחֲכָה, “thy courage,” for כֹּחֵכָה, “thy strength,”—as is also his marvellous reproduction of the paronomasia (צָר–צָרָה) by: “am Tageder Klemme—klamm ist dein Muth” [“in the day of straits—straight is thy courage”]. Bertheau connects the verse closely with the two following: “Hast thou shown thyself faint in the day of trouble, was thy strength fearful, oh deliver,” etc. (?). At all points Ewald has the right view, and in general Luther, also: “He is not strong who is not firm in need.” [The principle is familiar enough that courage and hopefulness are half of man’s strength.—A.]

4. Proverbs 24:11-12. An admonition to a sympathizing and compassionate demeanor toward such as are in their innocency condemned to death, and are being borne to the place of execution. Comp. L. Mosheim: Commentatio ad loc. Proverbs 24:11-12; Helmstadt 4 to. [Kamph. suggests an easy and natural transition to this exhortation from the preceding. That had reference to courage in time of one’s own need, this to quick and sympathizing helpfulness in others’ extremity.—A.]—Deliver them that are taken to death (the participle here used has the same meaning as the forms of the verb found in Isaiah 57:13; Psalm 49:16). That this appeal is made specifically to a judge (Umbreit), Isaiah, according to Proverbs 24:12 a, very improbable. He who is addressed seems rather to be one who is accidentally passing by in the vicinity of the place of execution, who is on the point of going on after the manner of the priest and the Levite in Luke 10:30 sq, with no sympathy, and without lifting a helping hand. That the author of the proverb, notwithstanding the singular which is immediately employed, still has in his eye a plurality, a whole host of such passers by, appears from the “Lo, we know it not,” which in Proverbs 24:12, a, he. supposes to be the answer to his appeal. Hitzig’s assumption is arbitrary, that the hard-hearted judges are Persians, and those who are in their innocence condemned to death, Jews, or Syrians, Samaritans, or some other Persian subjects of the period next succeeding the exile, possibly of the time of Ezra (9:9). The same is! true likewise of Bertheau’s opinion that there is no reference whatever to a judicial execution, but to a bloody battle, during which one ought courageously to protect those assailed by the foe, and not timidly to leave them to the threatening destruction. [Hardly any two of our English expositors agree as to the structure of this sentence, although they are nearly or quite unanimous in explaining its general meaning. N. and M. agree with the E. V. in making the first verb an Infinitive (which is possible) depending on the final verb of the sentence; E. V.: “if thou forbear to deliver,” etc.; N.: “ to deliver, etc, spare thyself not;” M.: “dost thou forbear to deliver,” etc. H, S. and Wordsw. agree with our author in making it an Imper, although H. and W. make the last clause conditional, like12, a. The explanation of Z, S, Kamph, etc, is probably to be preferred which makes the אִם a particle of wishing, and the verb transitive rather than reflexive or neuter.—A.].—Lo! we knew it not!—Hitzig, in agreement with the LXX, “Lo, we know him not!” But in verse 11 there is plainly enough mention made of a number who are dragged to death. [As Kamph. suggests, the time when a plea of ignorance could fitly be put in, as well as the nature of the plea itself, tells against this personal interpretation. And it is also to be observed how idle the plea of ignorance becomes when it is God rather than man to whom one’s omissions are to be justified.—A.] And he will requite man according to his work.—The interrogative הֲלֹא of the second clause plainly has no further influence on this general sentence which concludes (comp. Psalm 62:13; Job 34:11; Romans 2:6).

5. Proverbs 24:13-14. Admonition to a diligent striving after wisdom.—My Song of Solomon, eat thou honey because it is good, etc.—A figurative injunction of a preparatory sort, serving as a basis for the admonition to strive after Wisdom of Solomon, contained in Proverbs 24:14. For this figure of honey and the honey-comb as the designation of something especially lovely and agreeable, comp. Psalm 19:11.

Proverbs 24:14. So acquaint thyself with wisdom also for thy soul;—lit, “know wisdom for thy soul, appropriate it to thyself, recognized as precious and exceedingly palatable !” [The E. V, following the Vulg, takes the peculiar form of the Imperf. for a peculiar form of the noun “knowledge,” and supplies the substantive verb. H. and M. are in the same error.—A.]—When thou hast found it, and the end Cometh.—This last clause is still part of the conditional protasis, corresponding to the common use of אִם יֵשׁ, to introduce a conditional clause; comp. Genesis 23:8; Genesis 24:49; Judges 6:36, etc. For making it a transition to the apodosis (“then cometh an end—then a future remaineth”—Hitzig, following the LXX, Vulg, Luther, etc. [so K.; E. V.: “then there shall be a reward;” so also H, N, M, W, while S. takes our author’s view.—A.]), not a single supporting case can be cited, in which וְיֵשׁ introduces the apodosis, in the sense “then or so will be” (comp. Bertheau on this passage). For the general sentiment compare furthermore23:18.

6. Proverbs 24:15-18. Warning against malicious violence and delight in mischief.—Lie not in wait as a wicked man (that Isaiah, with wicked and mischievous intent) against the dwelling of the righteous; assault not (verb as in29:26) his resting place.—Hitzig changes the verb in clause a to תַּקְרֵב and the noun to רַעַשׁ, and thus obtains the meaning: “Bring not alarm near to the dwelling of the righteous,” etc. (?).—

Proverbs 24:16. For seven times doth the righteous fall and riseth again;i.e, many a misfortune overtakes him in life, yet he gives way before none, but always comes up again (Hitzig). Comp. Psalm 87:24; Jeremiah 8:4; and with reference to the symbolical number seven, particularly Job 5:19.—But the wicked shall plunge into destruction—lit, “stumble, are brought to a downfall by calamity;” comp. Proverbs 4:19.

Proverbs 24:17-18 are closely connected with both the verses preceding, not merely by the recurrence of the ideas “fall” and “plunge” (stumble), but also by the substance of the thought; for delight in injury is the twin sister to a plotting intrigue and violence.—Lest Jehovah see it and it displease him—lit, “and it be evil in his eyes.”—And He turn away His anger from himi.e, from the enemy (מֵעָלָיו referring back to Proverbs 24:16, “thine enemy”), to turn it upon thee thyself instead of him.

7. Proverbs 24:19-22. Warning against intercourse with wicked and seditious persons—Be not thou enraged at evil doers,i.e, be not excited, envious (אַל־תִּתְחַר, “burn not,” here equivalent to the “envy not” of Proverbs 24:1) with regard to the undeserved prosperity of ungodly men, which perhaps might only stimulate to the imitation of their wicked conduct; comp. Psalm 37:8; Psalm 73:2-3; also Proverbs 1:11 sq. [Fuerst and some others understand this of excitement, impatience against evil doers, which cannot wait for God’s recompenses. This explanation, we think, is to be preferred here, although the other is clearly and frequently enough an injunction of the Scriptures.—A.]

Proverbs 24:20. For no future hall there be to the wicked.—אַחֲרִית hero in a different sense from that found in Proverbs 24:14 and in23:18. [The two ideas most frequently conveyed by this noun, which is literally an “after,” something subsequent to the present, are a “future,” and an “end or issue,” i.e, to present relations. It is this last idea that Z. finds in Proverbs 24:14; Proverbs 23:18, the first in Proverbs 24:20. In the first two passages the “end” of the present suggests by implication and contrast a blessed future; this our verse denies to the wicked, not by implication, but by express assertion. It does not assert that he shall reach no end to his present relations, nor that he shall have no future whatever, but no future blessing. Some commentators are less exact in these discriminations, finding one general meaning in all the passages.—A.] With the general sentiment compare Job 20:5; Psalm 37:2; Psalm 37:9; Psalm 37:38. With b in particular comp. Proverbs 13:9; Proverbs 21:4.

Proverbs 24:21. With a comp. Ecclesiastes 8:2 sq.; 10:20; 1 Peter 2:17.—Go not with those who are given to change.—שׁוֹנִים [cognate with שְׁנַיִם, two], those “otherwise disposed, wishing otherwise,” i.e, opposing [the present order], seditious, revolutionary (Vulg, detractores). “Go not with them,” lit, “mingle thyself not,” as in20:19.

Proverbs 24:22. And the destruction of them bothviz, of those who rebel against God and of those who rebel against the king. Others (Umbreit, Bertheau, etc. [De W, N, S, M, Wordsw, the genitive being treated as-a genitive of source, “the ruin proceeding from them both ”]; “and the penalty, the retribution of them both,” i.e, the punishment that goes forth from both, God and the king; Hitzig (in accordance with the Targ. and Syr.), “and the end of their years” (comp. Job 36:11). Our interpretation, as the simplest, is supported by the Vulg, Luther, Ewald, Elster [Kamph.]—Who knoweth it ?i.e, who knows the time of their ruin; who knows how soon it will be precipitated? Comp16:14.

[The LXX, etc, introduce here several verses for which there is no authority in the present Hebrew texts. “A son that keeps the father’s commandment shall escape destruction; for such a one has fully received it. Let no falsehood be spoken by the king from the tongue; yea, let no falsehood proceed from his tongue. The king’s tongue is a sword, and not one of flesh; and whosoever shall be given up to it shall be destroyed; for if his wrath should be provoked, he destroys men with cords, and devours men’s bones, and burns them up as a flame, so that they are not even fit to be eaten by the young eagles. My Song of Solomon, reverence my words, and receive them, and repent.” Some of the editions also introduce at this point Proverbs 30:1-14.—A.]

DOCTRINAL, ETHICAL, HOMILETIC AND PRACTICAL

To refer the ideas of this section, which are very various in their substance and their applications, to the one fundamental category of a “Warning against intercourse with wicked and foolish men,” would not indeed answer in all respects and at all points; and yet the introductory and the concluding verses at least ( Proverbs 24:1-2; Proverbs 24:19-22) do relate to this subject; and besides, the eulogiums upon wisdom which are interspersed ( Proverbs 24:3-7; Proverbs 24:13-14), and the counsels against malicious intrigue, mockery, trickery and delight in mischief ( Proverbs 24:8-9; Proverbs 24:15 sq, 17 sq.), may without any peculiar violence be brought under the same classification. There remains isolated, therefore, only the censuring criticism on an unmanly, faint-hearted bearing in hours of peril ( Proverbs 24:10), and the warning against a heartless indifference to those who are innocently suffering ( Proverbs 24:11-12). The latter passage in particular deserves attentive consideration, and a careful estimate of its practical bearings, for it belongs among those prefigurations and precursors of the distinctively Christian ethics, which occur somewhat rarely in the stage of revelation reached in the law of the Old Testament, and, in general, in any specific form in the literature of wisdom which centres in the name of Solomon. For even in a higher degree than the warning contained in Proverbs 24:17-18 of our chapter, against delight in injury, in one’s attitude towards his enemies,—and, if one is so disposed to view it, even in a higher degree than the demand of love to one’s enemies in Proverbs 25:21 sq,—does this powerful enforcement of the duty of a courageous protection and deliverance of the innocent who are doomed to death, correspond with the culmination of ethical justice, and the perfect fulfilling of the law, which Christ exhibits for the members of the New Covenant, in the narrative of the good Samaritan ( Luke 10:30 sq.), in His admonition to visit those in prison, and to the loving sacrifice of life itself in imitation of His own example, etc. ( Matthew 25:36 sq.; John 12:25; John 15:12-14). [Only a few of the exegetical and practical interpreters of our book have so well brought out this important point. Lawson suggests it when he says: “The wise man represents this piece of charity as a duty which we owe to our neighbors without exception; and with him agrees our Lord in the parable of the good Samaritan. We are not the disciples of Solomon or of Christ if we show love to those only,” etc. Arnot puts the principle with more characteristic vigor: “ Under God as Supreme ruler, and by His law, we owe every human being love; and if we fail to render it, we are cast into prison with other less reputable debtors. Nor will any thing be received in payment but the genuine coin of the kingdom; it must be love with a living soul in it and a substantial body on it.”—A.]

In the homiletic treatment of the whole passage one might take just this demand that is contained in Proverbs 24:11-12, of a compassionate love of one’s neighbor, that will not shun even deadly perils, as the highest exemplification of Wisdom of Solomon, to the attainment and preservation of which all the counselling and dissuasory suggestions of the section summon us; the topic might then be announced: “Mercy the highest Wisdom of Solomon,” or again: “The contrast between the wise man and the fool reaches its climax in the timid selfishness of the latter, and the former’s self-sacrificing love for his neighbor.”—Comp. Stöcker: On patience and sociability. In what the virtue consists ( Proverbs 24:1-12), and how one is to practise it ( Proverbs 24:13 sq).—Calwer Handb.: Shun evil, choose wisdom.

Proverbs 24:1 sq. Tübingen Bible (on Proverbs 24:1-2): It is one element in the prudence of the righteous to have no fellowship with the ungodly and to avoid their society.—Luther (marg. comment on Proverbs 24:3 sq.): When all is well ordered in a house it avails more than great labor; as, e.g., when one gives, where, to whom, and as one ought, etc.—Geier (on Proverbs 24:3 sq.): A household, if it is to be blessed, must not merely be wisely organized, but also prudently regulated and constructed.—Filling the chambers with temporal good is accounted great prosperity; but much more beautiful is it when the heart’s chamber is filled with the treasures of heavenly wisdom and virtue.—(On Proverbs 24:5-6): Strength of body without wisdom and prudence of heart, is like a giant who is robbed of the sight of his eyes.

Proverbs 24:7-10. Zeltner (on Proverbs 24:8-9): As true piety has its degrees, so has ungodliness. But they are followed by righteous retribution and punishment.—Starke (on Proverbs 24:10): Want and trouble is a genuine touchstone, with which one may determine how strong or how weak one is in faith and reliance on God.—Von Gerlach (same verse): In times of adversity the man whose strength stands fast in God has more power than usual. It is the fault of one’s own indolence if this is not the case, though his strength be scanty and restricted.—[Bp. Hopkins: That thy patience may be perfect, it must, be strong, as well as lasting. It must have nerves and sinews in it, to bear weighty burdens.]

Proverbs 24:11-12. Melanchthon: To unrighteous cruelty one should give no impulse; even private individuals ought, according to their strength and calling, to oppose tyrannical injustice without uproar or tumult.—Geier: Man never lacks excuses; but many of them are by the Lord found to be too light, Luke 14:18 sq.—Starke: To deliver men from bodily death is a great thing; but more glorious is it to aid a soul toward deliverance from spiritual and eternal death, James 5:20.

Proverbs 24:13 sq. Berleburg Bible (on Proverbs 24:13): Charge it upon thyself that thou have such inward experience of Wisdom of Solomon, that thou shalt relish its sweetness like honey and the honey-comb.—Starke (on Proverbs 24:16): To fall into sin and to fall into calamity are two different things. Beware of the former, and the Lord will not forsake thee in the latter.—Cramer: Whosoever rejoices in others’ adversity, his own calamity stands already outside the door.—[T. Adams: Let us beware that we do not slide; if slide, that we do not fall; if fall, that we fall forward, not backward. Behold thy Saviour calling, thy Father blessing, the Spirit assisting, the angels comforting, the Word directing, the glory waiting, good men associating.—Flavel: Though repeated spiritual falling shows the foulness it does not always prove the falseness of the heart.—Bridges (on Proverbs 24:17):—What has grace done for us, if it has not overcome nature by a holier and happier principle? To rejoice in the fall of an enemy would be to fall deeper than himself; to fall not into trouble, but into sin.—Trapp (on Proverbs 24:18):—Think thus with thyself, Either I am like my enemy, or else I am better or worse than he. If like him, why may I not look for the like misery? If better, who made me to differ? If worse, what reason have I then to insult?]

Proverbs 24:19-22. Starke (on Proverbs 24:19-20):—He that would look on the prosperity of ungodly men without envy and offence need only make a comparison between the brief instant of their joy and the unending eternity of their pain and punishment.—Zollikofer (Serm. on Proverbs 24:19-20):—Nullifying the objection against the divine government of the world, which is made on account of the unequal distribution of external prosperity among men, and the earthly well being of the ungodly (therefore a Theodicy).—[Arnot:—Here it is not the first and direct, but the secondary and circuitous effect of bad example, that is prominently brought into view. Some who are in no danger of falling in love with their neighbor’s sin, may be chafed by it into a hatred of their neighbor].—Melanchthon (on Proverbs 24:21):—God has given to men authority because He would have men hear and know His law, and thereby Himself, and also for this reason, because He would preserve human society from dissolution through endless disquiets and controversies. He has, however, ordained that we hearken to human governors for His sake, and that we must know that He punishes the rebellious.—[Bp. Sherlock:—The only lasting foundation of civil obedience is the fear of God; and the truest interest of princes is to maintain the honor of religion, by which they secure their own.—Arnot:—Take away godliness, and your loyalty without being increased in amount, is seriously deteriorated in kind; take away loyalty, and you run great risk of spoiling the purity of the remanent godliness. In the Scriptures the feebler force is made fast to the stronger, and so carried through in trying times. Loyalty is most secure where it has godliness to lean upon].—Geier (on Proverbs 24:22):—Certain as death in itself Isaiah, although we cannot know the time and manner of it, so surely does God’s punishment follow ungodliness and rebellion, but its time and form remain uncertain.


Verses 23-34

Second Supplement

Proverbs 24:23-34

a) Various admonitions to good conduct toward one’s neighbors

Proverbs 24:23-29

23 These also are from wise men.

To be partial in judgment is not good.

24 He that saith to the wicked, “ thou art righteous,”

him the people curse, (and) nations execrate;

25 but to them that rebuke (iniquity) it is well,

and upon them shall come a rich blessing.

26 He kisseth the lips

who giveth a right answer.

27 Set in order thy work without,

and make it ready for thyself in the field;

afterward build thine house.

28 Be not witness against thy neighbor without cause;

and wilt thou deceive with thy lips?

29 Say not: “As he hath done to me so will I do to him:

I will requite the man according to his work.”

b) Warning against indolence and its evil consequences

Proverbs 24:30-34

30 By the field of a slothful man I passed along,

and by the vineyard of a man void of understanding.

31 And, lo! it was all grown over with thorns,

briars covered the face thereof,

and its stone wall was broken down.

32 Then I looked and fixed my attention;

I saw and took (to myself) instruction.

33 “ A little sleep, a little slumber,

a little folding of the hands to sleep;”—

34 then cometh thy poverty apace,

and thy want as an armed man!

GRAMMATICAL AND CRITICAL

Proverbs 24:23. בַּל is equivalent to לֹא, as in22:29; 23:7, etc.

[The Perf. with ו consec. וּבָנִיתַ is used, as this tense so construed not unfrequently Isaiah, in the sense of an Imperative: and afterward thou hast built, etc.; predictions and injunctions sometimes taking this way of expressing an assurance that what should be will be. See Bött. §§ 977, 3; 981, 3: Green, § 265, b; Ewald, Lehrb. 332, b.—A.]

[A Perf. with ו consec. to express what ought to be,—a suggestion rather than a precept,—Böttcher’s Fiens debitum, § 981, b. γ.] וַהֲפִתִּיתָ. Because the interrogative particle occurs only in this instance immediately after the copula, Ewald proposes to change the form to וְהִפְתֵּיתָ, “and thou wilt open wide,” i.e. betray (comp20:19), [so Fuerst]; Hitzig, however, into וַהֲפִתּוֹתָ, “and thou wilt whisper,” i.e. speak with subdued voice (from a form הֵפֵת, to be explained in accordance with the Arabic); [so Bött, making it a Hiph. from פָּתַת and not a Piel from פָּתָה]. Both are alike arbitrary and unnecessary. [K, Bertheau, S. and M. take our author’s view].

[כָּסּוּ, a Pual with Kamets Hhatuph; see Green, § 93, a; הְרַלֻּים one of two examples in which וּ in the ultima gives place in forming the plural to ־ with a doubled vowel. Green, 291, c.—A.]

EXEGETICAL

1. Proverbs 24:23-25. Warning against a partial administration of justice—These also are from wise men. According to the LXX, Vulg, Michaelis, Umbreit, Elster, etc., the לַחֲכָמִים should be understood “ for the wise.” [So the E. V, which is followed by Holden]. In opposition to this we have not merely the usual meaning of the preposition in superscriptions, but over and above this we have the “also,” which: refers back to the next preceding collection of: Proverbs, whose originating with wise men was: expressly emphasized, Proverbs 22:17.—To be partial in judgment is not good: strictly: to distinguish persons in judgment is not good. This short proverb, forming only a single clause, is plainly nothing but a preliminary observation or introduction to the two following verses, which treat more fully of partiality in dispensing justice. Compare, furthermore, the quite similar, and almost literally identical sentences, 18:5,28:21.

Proverbs 24:24. He that saith to the wicked, “Thou art righteous.” Comp. Proverbs 17:15 : “He that justifieth the wicked.” To the threatening intimation of God’s displeasure there given, there corresponds here the threat of a condition in which one is hated and cursed on the part of the nations (comp11:26; 22:14); for to turn justice into injustice by partiality in judgment impairs the well-being of entire nations and states.

Proverbs 24:25. But to them that rebuke (iniquity) it is well; i.e,. upright judges who punish evil-doers according to their desert (not merely with words but also with stringent disciplinary enactments), instead of the curse of men, obtain as a reward nothing but blessing and welfare from God.

2. Proverbs 24:26-29. Four additional admonitions to righteous conduct toward one’s neighbors.—He kisseth the lips that giveth a right answer; i.e,. faithful and truthful answers, especially before a court of justice, affect one as favorably as the most agreeable caress, or a sweet kiss on the lips. The mention of the “ lips” is to be explained simply by the remembrance of the question to which the upright and truthful answer corresponds. The author of the proverb passes wholly by the fact that hearing is the appropriate organ for the reception of the answer. Therefore Hitzig’s conception of the first clause, which differs from the common one: “He commends (ingratiates) himself with the lips who,” etc., is plainly unnecessary. [Bertheau, Kamph, De W, N, etc., agree in our author’s construction and conception; while the E. V, Muffet, H, S, M, etc., understand the allusion to be to tributes of love and honor paid to him who answers rightly: “Every man (or, the people) shall kiss his lips.” According to this view the people’s curse (in Proverbs 24:24) is contrasted with their respectful and loving salutation; according to the other, which is grammatically simpler and probably to be preferred, the offence given by the partial or partisan judge is contrasted with the cheering, soothing power of him who answers rightly.—A.]

Proverbs 24:27. Set in order thy work without; i.e,. take care, by the profitable and diligent prosecution of your labors in the field, first of all for the needful and reliable support of your existence; then you may go on to the building up of your establishment. The “house” in clause c, is thus doubtless equivalent to “family, domestic establishment,” as in Ruth 4:11; comp. above, Proverbs 14:1. The literal rendering given by Hitzig and others to this phrase, “build thy house,” seems less appropriate, although Biblical parallels might be adduced for this also, e.g. the passage Luke 15:28, which in its moral bearing is certainly kindred.

Proverbs 24:28. Be not witness against thy neighbor without cause. “Without cause,” i.e,. without an actual reason, without necessity; comp23:29; 26:2; John 15:25, etc. It is not so much a false witness that is meant, as one not called for, one who is incited to say injurious things by nothing beyond his own animosity.—And wilt thou deceive with thy lips? See Critical notes for various constructions of the verb. With regard to the expression “deceive with thy lips,” comp. Psalm 78:36; “and they did flatter him with their mouth.”

Proverbs 24:29. Say not, “As he hath done to me so will I do to him.” We can hardly find here (with Hitzig, who follows several of the earlier expositors) a special connection between this verse and the preceding, as though the man who had been wronged by the officious witness were here introduced as speaking, and a warning were given him against allowing free course to his revenge. Comp. rather the similar thought in Proverbs 20:22, which like this stands quite isolated.

3. Proverbs 24:30-34. The vineyard of the slothful: a narrative in form closely resembling the parable. Comp. Isaiah 5:1 sq, as well as the passages which correspond still more closely with the form of this narration, Job 5:3 sq.; Psalm 37:35 sq.—By the field of a slothful man I passed along. The figure of the field is in the sequel entirely dropped, from a preference for the closely related one of the vineyard. The “man void of understanding” in clause b, is naturally another sluggard, one who is indolent from lack of understanding.

[Travellers like Hackett (Illustrations of Scripture) call attention to the minute accuracy of the description as illustrated by the fact, that in the richer soils of Palestine it is thorny shrubs, of which twenty-two kinds are enumerated, that are specially quick to spring up and overspread a neglected field.—A.]

Proverbs 24:32. Then I looked. Hitzig proposes to read וָאֹחֲזָה instead of וָאֶחֱזֶה (comp. 2 Samuel 4:10): “and I stopped” (from the intransitive verb אָהַז, sistere, to stand still). But the ordinary reading is abundantly confirmed by the parallel in clause b. [Kamph. calls attention to the introduction of the pronoun, as an element in the graphic fullness of the poet’s description of his meditation.—A.]—I saw and took (to myself) instruction, lit, “a correction or reproof.” What was contained in this admonition is expressed in what follows.

With Proverbs 24:33-34 comp. the almost literally identical verses10,11of chap4, and the Exeg. notes there (p84), where the meaning of the divergent reading was also discussed.—And thy want: lit, “and thy wants,” i.e,. thy deficits, thy pecuniary embarrassments, on account of which now one thing and then another fails.

DOCTRINAL, ETHICAL, HOMILETIC AND PRACTICAL

Righteous treatment of one’s neighbor, and a prudent active industry in the discharge of duties to ourselves, are the two points to which the admonitory import of this section may be reduced, and in a way quite exhaustive. For as Proverbs 24:23-29, all of them with the sole exception of Proverbs 24:28 admonish to a strictly just and honorable bearing in intercourse with others, so not merely that 28 th verse, but also the parabolic narrative in Proverbs 24:30-34, relates to the vice of sloth and an indolent carelessness in the performance of the domestic duties of one’s calling. The general substance of this short section therefore bears a resemblance, at least partial, to that of the 6 th chapter (which is indeed much richer in its fullness). In attempting to obtain from it a central idea for homiletic use, we should be obliged to proceed as we did in that instance (comp, above, p87). [With reference to Proverbs 24:29 in particular (comp. what is said above on Proverbs 24:11-12), Dr. Chalmers says: It is pleasant to observe the outgoing of the earlier morality towards the later and more advanced—of that in the Old towards that in the New Testament.—A.] Therefore as a homily on the whole: Neither injustice nor faithlessness toward one’s neighbor, nor want of fidelity in the fulfilment of one’s own domestic duties, brings a blessing.—Or, Honorable conduct in relation to others is possible only on the basis of the industrious and conscientious performance of the duties of one’s own calling.

Proverbs 24:23-25. Starke: An unjust judge loads himself with sighs which God also hears; a righteous Judges, on the contrary, will surely enjoy at the same time the blessing and the intercession of the pious.—Wohlfarth: The blessing of a wise severity in the State (in the administration of the laws).

Proverbs 24:26-29. Geier (on Proverbs 24:26): If thou meanest to deal fairly with thine own soul, then rejoice heartily in good counsel given from the word of God; though it be disagreeable to the flesh, yet it is like a precious balsam ( Psalm 141:5).—Starke (on Proverbs 24:27): He who with all his carefulness in attention to his occupation yet forgets the one thing needful, builds his house on the sand, because in the midst of all outward prosperity he still suffers injury in his soul.—(On Proverbs 24:29): If thou wouldst be really like God as His child, then follow Him in compassion and leave the right of vengeance to Him alone: Leviticus 19:18; Romans 12:17 sq.

Proverbs 24:30-34. Starke: Indolence is extremely injurious to the Christian life. If one does not do good with earnestness and diligence, evil surely gains more and more the ascendency, and in all conditions, in Church and State and in domestic life, want and labor are multiplied as the result of neglect of official duty on the part of the servants and stewards instituted by God.—Wohlfarth (on Proverbs 24:32): To become wise on the follies of others is in fact an excellent prudence.—[Arnot: Even the sluggard’s garden brought forth fruit—but not for the sluggard’s benefit. The diligent man reaped and carried off the only harvest that it bore—a warning.—J. Foster; Lecture on Practical Views of Human Life. Let it never be forgotten in any part of the process that the efficacy of the instruction must be from the Supreme Teacher; without Him, the attraction and assimilation of the evil would, after all, be mightier than its warning and repelling force].

 


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Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Proverbs 24:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/proverbs-24.html. 1857-84.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, November 20th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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