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Bible Commentaries

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary
Proverbs 20

 

 

Verses 1-4

CRITICAL NOTES.—

Pro . Strong drink. The Hebrew word Shekhar includes every strong drink besides wine. Delitzsch translates it mead.

Pro . The fear of a king, i.e., the dread which he inspires. Sinneth against his soul, or "forfeits his life," so Delitzsch and Miller.

Pro . To cease from strife. Rather, "to remain far from" it.

Pro . Delitzsch translates this verse, "At the beginning of the harvest the sluggard ploweth not, and so when he cometh to reaping time there is nothing."

MAIN HOMILETICS OF Pro

STRONG DRINK

Taking the two words here used to stand for all intoxicating drinks, we remark—

I. That they are most deceptive in their operation. It is most certain that there is no person who is now an abject slave to strong drink, who would not once have indignantly repelled the insinuation that he or she would ever be a drunkard. It is taken probably for a long time without any evil effects being apparent, and the temporary stimulus is mistaken for a permanent increase of strength, until one day the unhappy victim finds himself a subject of the most tyrannical habit that enslaves fallen humanity. And strong drink may truly be said to be a "mocker," when we see how men appear to struggle to escape from its deadly fascination, and how fruitless their efforts often are.

II. That they are powerful ministers to human passions. Wherever strong drink enters, every evil tendency is increased tenfold; the angry man becomes a monster of cruelty, and he who was before a comparatively harmless member of society, or even a useful one, becomes hurtful and dangerous. The restraints that are all powerful to govern a man when sober are all as utterly useless when he is under the power of strong drink, as silken cords would be to keep a wild beast within bounds.

III. It is utter folly to tamper with such a foe to human dignity and happiness. The deceptive influence of strong drink, and the miserable results of allowing it to gain the mastery over us, are all around men; none can now plead ignorance of its nature, or of its effects, for the world is full of homes ruined by it, and hearts which it has broken, and men whom it has changed into brutes. Experience sets her seal to Solomon's declaration, and brands as without wisdom those who play with such a deadly and treacherous enemy.

OUTLINES AND SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS

Solomon seldom singles out a specific vice; and when he does, it is often exemplary, or to be understood of any. He does single out drunkenness, however. Strikingly enough the Apostle does so. (1Co ).—Miller.

If the fruit of his own vine sometimes chastised the unwary Israelite with whips, the fiery product of our distilleries chastise the nation with scorpions. The little finger of strong drink in modern times is thicker than the loins of its father and representative in Solomon's day. The deceits which our enemy practises are legion; and legion too are the unwary "who are deceived thereby." I shall enumerate a few of its lying devices.

1. A great quantity of precious food is destroyed in this country that strong drink may be extracted from the rubbish.… On an average of ten years, the quantity of barley converted into malt in the United Kingdom has been nearly six millions of quarters annually. When you add to this the unmalted grain consumed in the distillation of spirits in Ireland, you have an aggregate sufficient to feed between four and five millions of people throughout the year.… What do we obtain in return? A large quantity of malt liquors and distilled spirits. And is the gain equivalent, or nearly equivalent to the loss?

2. The curative and strengthening properties of our strong drinks, which are so much vaunted, are in reality next to nothing. We speak of the ordinary use of these articles as beverages.… If they contribute at any time to the quantity of force exerted by man, it corresponds not to the corn that you give to your horse, but to the whipping. A master who has hired you only for a day, and desires to make the most of his bargain, may possibly find it his interest to bring more out of your bones and sinews, by such a stimulus, but you certainly have no interest in lashing an additional effort out of yourself to-day, and lying in lethargy to-morrow.… Liebig has a pleasant notion about balancing on the point of a pen-knife, like a pinch of snuff, all the nourishment that the most capacious German swallows with his beer in a day. And it is chemistry he is giving us, not poetry or wit.…

3. Strong drink deceives the nation, by the vast amount of revenue that it pours into the public treasury. It is a true and wise economy to tax the articles heavily for behoof of the community, so far and as long as they are sold and used; but it is a false and foolish economy to encourage the consumption of the article, for the sake of the revenue it produces. Drink generates pauperism, and pauperism is costly. Drink generates crime, and crime is costly.… There is a huge living creature with as many limbs as a Hindoo idol, and these limbs intertwined with each other in equally admirable confusion. The creature having life must be fed, and being large, must have a good deal of food for its sustenance. One day, having got rather short allowance, it was rolling its heavy head among its many limbs, and found something warm and fleshy. Being hungry, it made an incision with its teeth, laid its lips to the spot, and sucked. Warm blood came freely; the creature sucked its fill, and, gorged, lay down to sleep. Next day, it supplemented its short rations in the same way. Every day the creature drank from that opening, and as this rich draught made up about one third of its whole sustenance, the wonder grew, why it was becoming weaker under the process, day by day. Some one at last bethought him of turning over the animal's intermingled limbs, and found that all this time it had been sucking its own blood! The discoverer proposed to bandage the spot, and not permit the continuance of the unnatural operation. The financiers cried out, "A third of the animal's sustenance comes from that opening; if you stop it, he will die!" Behold the wise politicians who imagine that the body politic would die of inanition, if it were deprived of the revenue which it sucks from its own veins, in the shape of taxes on the consumption of intoxicating drinks!—Arnot.

The thoughts in Pro are the same as that in chap. Pro 19:12, see page 571, and chaps. Pro 14:29 and Pro 16:32, pages 386 and 497. The thought in the fourth verse is identical with that in chap. Pro 10:4, although the similitude is different, see page 146.


Verse 5

CRITICAL NOTES.—

Pro . Counsel. Delitzsch translates this word "purpose," and understands it to refer to a secret plan.

MAIN HOMILETICS OF Pro

DEEP SEA DREDGING

I. Much that is good, or much that is bad, may lie hidden in a man's heart without its existence being suspected by the majority of his acquaintance. The word here rendered counsel may be taken in a twofold sense. It may be used of knowledge, or of great mental ability, which is hidden either because its possessor is exceedingly modest or exceedingly reserved—either because he lacks the will or the power to make it known. Or it may refer to deeply-laid schemes or well-planned purposes which a man intends shall one day become facts, but which at present exist only in his own mind. And according to the nature of the counsel it may be compared to the wealth of beauty and riches which lie hidden in the depth of the ocean, unsuspected by the majority of those who sail above, or to the deadly torpedo which makes no ripple upon the surface of the water, and which its victims approach without dreaming of what is concealed beneath.

II. The difficulty of one man's obtaining what another wishes to conceal will depend upon the comparative wisdom of both. For many ages the deep sea seemed to defy all the efforts of man to explore its depths and to find out its secrets, but now even the ocean has to own him master in this respect, and to submit to have its treasures brought to light. There has been, as it were, a struggle between the sea and the man of science as to which should possess the treasures of the deep, and the issue has depended upon the ability of the man in comparison with the depth of the ocean. So there is sometimes a struggle between men—the one desiring to conceal his knowledge or his plans within his own breast, and the other desiring to discover them. The issue will depend upon the comparative mental power of the two men. If both be "men of understanding," the resistance on the one side and the effort on the other will be continuous and long, and the "deep waters" may prove too deep for the bucket or the dredging net. But if the balance of wisdom is in favour of the seeker—if there is one spot where his line can reach—he will "draw out" the counsel and proclaim himself the master.

OUTLINES AND SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS

The whole emblem finely illustrates what is true of the "inward light" as held by the "Friends." All men have light which, if they would follow, would lead them (granting that they persevere) into the light of the gospel (Rom ). What better name for this than counsel? Alas! it lies "deep." No man will follow it but by the Spirit of God … Nevertheless it is there! How solemn that fact at the judgment day! "The word is nigh" (Rom 10:8). "A man of discernment," or "understanding," i.e., the Christian … Only the illuminated man, getting his light from its great fountain, will be moved to go down into his "heart," where the counsel lies waiting, and "draw" the "deep waters."—Miller.

Every question is, as it were, a turn of the windlass.—Plumptre.

He is an expert fisher … But man can but draw them out; God seeth them in the heart, man can see no more than he draws out, but God seeth all; man draws and labours for the knowledge he getteth, but all things are naked and open unto God's sight. Jermin.


Verses 6-13

CRITICAL NOTES.—

Pro . Miller reads the first clause of this verse, "Much of the mere man one calls his goodness," i.e., "Much that is merely human." He allows, however, that the usual rendering conveys a very striking meaning and agrees admirably with the second clause. The Hebrew word means literally abundance of men. Delitzsch translates, "Almost everyone meeteth a man who is gracious unto him; but a man who standeth the test, who findeth such a one?"

Pro . This verse should be, "He who in his innocence walks uprightly, blessed are his children," etc.

Pro . Judgment. Rather justice. Scattereth or winnoweth.

Pro . Divers weights. Literally, "a stone and a stone, an ephah and an ephah."

Pro . Touching the second clause of this verse, Miller says, "It is too terse for English, and we cannot translate it. Nor can we brook the English version. Doings are in the same category with work. How can one be the test of the other? The only room for a proposition is, obviously, for this: ‘A child is known by his doings; and the question, Is he pure? is but the question, Is his work right?'"

MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Pro

AN UNIVERSAL CHALLENGE, A GENERAL RULE, AND A RARE VIRTUE

I. A double challenge to all men. Who can say, I am pure from my sin? A faithful man, who can find? To the first of these questions the answer must be in the negative.

1. God answers No to it. The testimony of Scriptures is that in His sight "shall no man living be justified" (Psa ): that "all have sinned" (Rom 3:23): that "if we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us" (1Jn 1:8). His ability to form a correct judgment rests upon His omniscience—He hath made the "hearing ear and the seeing eye" (Pro 20:12), and shall He not hear and see and know the thoughts of man? (Psa 94:9-10). He is the ideal King who winnows the actions of men. See Miller's note on Pro 20:8 (Mat 3:12).

2. Man's experience answers No to it. "Even a child is known by its doings" (Pro ); the actions are like the hands of a clock, which tell to those who look upon them whether all the wheels within are in perfect working order. When we mark at all observantly the actions of even the best of men, we shall be most likely to detect here and there a flaw in their characters—some inconsistencies which tell of moral imperfection—but if not, man needs only to look within with some degree of impartiality to be convinced that his "own heart condemns him" (1Jn 3:20). But to the second challenge we need not give an universal negative. Faithful men are rare, but they can be found. Even Solomon could point to the "just man" who "walked in his integrity," leaving a blessing behind him. His father David, although he was far from being free from sin, yea, although he sinned deeply and terribly, was yet a man who could appeal to God to witness to his integrity (Psa 7:8)—to the general intent and purpose of his life being toward God and goodness—to his being in the main faithful to his convictions of the right and true. (On this subject see on chap. Pro 11:3, page 196). And although faithful men are still rare enough to need search, they are more common than they were in Solomon's days. There are many men scattered throughout the world who put duty before worldly interests, and God's glory before their own, and are thus earning for themselves the well-done of the faithful though not the perfect servant (Mat 25:21). For it is certain that if a man is faithful to himself—if he subjects his own moral condition to that scrutiny which must convince him of his own impurity before a heart-searching and Holy God, and accepts His method of being cleansed from guilt—he will be faithful both to God and man.

"To thine own self be true:

And it must follow as the night the day;

Thou canst not then be false to any man."

II. A general rule. Another proposition here laid down is, that although absolutely pure men are not to be found, and although faithful men are rare, yet "most men will proclaim everyone his own goodness" (Pro ). There is a natural tendency in men to shrink from a very close inspection of their own motives, and desires, and feelings—they look anywhere rather than within, and, consequently, very few have any conception of their own depravity. They have never measured even their actions, much less their thoughts, by the requirements of God's law, and consequently, while He pronounces them "wretched, and miserable, and poor," they are saying, "I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing" (Rev 3:17-18). Most men are thanking God that "they are not as other men are" when they ought to be smiting their breasts and saying, "God be merciful to me, a sinner" (Luk 18:13). It is this wide-spread self-deception concerning their real condition that renders men so indifferent to God's method for restoring them, and thus keeps the world in its present state of soul-sickness and death.

For Homiletics on Pro , see on chap. 11, page 1.

OUTLINES AND SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS

This faithfulness, where it exists, develops itself in two branches; the one suppressing our neighbour's vanity, and the other our own. The last mentioned is first in order of nature and in relative importance the chief. True faithfulness, like charity, begins at home.… Faithful reproof of another's foibles is a virtue which some can exercise without an effort. They deal a hearty blow on the head of a luckless brother egotist who stands in the way of their own advancement, and then expect to be praised for faithfulness. But it is Jehu's driving. The zeal which impels it is not pure.—Arnot.

The meaning is (see Critical Notes for Miller's rendering) that a man is apt to call mere animal traits, like amiableness, or good nature, by the name of goodness; and the caution is, that seeking deep for piety (Pro ), we should be careful to take up with no such stupid counterfeit. Much of the mere flesh, to borrow a New Testament expression, is kind and honest. There is much of the mere man's native morality. We must take care not to take that for "goodness." There is a certain true fidelity that embraces everything. That is religion. It embraces God. It embraces spiritual faithfulness. It may be easily counterfeited. It has been the snare of our race to take "what is of the mere man," and confound it with it.—Miller.

A faithful man—as a parent—a reprover—an adviser—one "without guile"—who can find? (Mic .) Look close. View thyself in the glass of the Word (Psa 101:6). Does thy neighbour, or thy friend, find thee faithful to him? What does our daily intercourse witness? Is not the attempt to speak what is agreeable often made at the expense of truth? Are not professions of regard sometimes utterly inconsistent with our real feelings? In common life, where gross violations are restrained, a thousand petty offences are allowed, that break down the wall between sin and duty, and, judged by the Divine standard, are indeed guilty steps upon forbidden ground.—Bridges.

But the manner in which men make known what they account their goodness is very various. Some are open with it. They almost literally "proclaim" it upon the housetops. To every individual, and in every company, they speak of it—of what they are, of what they have said, of what they have done, of what they think, and of what they wish and intend to do. And O! if they had but the means, what would they not accomplish!

Some there are who are quite as vain, and as ambitious of commendation and praise—who, knowing that everything of the nature of ostentation is exceedingly unpopular, and lets a man down, and tempts others to pluck his feathers from him—set about their object with greater art. They devise ways of getting their merits made known so as to avoid the flaw of ostentatious self-display. In company, they commend others for the qualities which they conceive themselves specially to possess, or for the doing of deeds which they themselves are sufficiently well known to have done; and they turn the conversation dexterously that way; or they find fault with others for the want of the good they are desirous to get praise for; or they lament over their own deficiencies and failures in the very points in which they conceive their excellence to lie—to give others the opportunity of contradicting them; or, if they have done anything they deem particularly generous and praiseworthy, they introduce some similar case, and bring in, in as apparently accidental and unintentional a way as possible, the situation of the person or the family that has been the object of their bounty.—Wardlaw.

Pro . Many are the several walks of men in this world—one walketh in his pleasure, as it were in the walks of a garden; another walketh in his profit, and he walketh as it were up and down the exchange; another walketh in troubles, and he walketh as it were in a wood; another walketh in his poverty, and he walketh as it were in a desert; another walketh in his beastly lusts of drunkenness and uncleanness, and he walks as it were in mire and dirt; the just man walketh in his integrity, and he walketh as it were in the holy temple.—Jermin.

Pro . We must be very careful, then, how we do our sifting. God's is perfectly complete … He winnows us at a glance. It is important, therefore, that we have something more than "evil," because "all" that He shall winnow bodily away.—Miller.

Pro . Behold here the king sitting upon the throne of His judgment, whereof the former verse speaketh! Who can say it, and say it truly? Who will say it, and so be untrue in saying it? Who shall say it, and be so impudent as to say it? For to make clean the heart is His work who hath made the heart, thou who hast made it unclean canst not make it clean.—Jermin.

This proverb is especially noteworthy because, in contrast with the style of conception which is elsewhere predominant in the Proverbs, according to which the imperfection of all human piety is but slightly emphasized, and he who is relatively pious is allowed to pass as righteous, it gives expression to the unsatisfying nature of all moral endeavours, as never conducting to the full extirpation of all sense of guilt, and a perfect feeling of peace with God: it accordingly suggests the need of a higher revelation in which the sense of guilt and of an ever-imperfect fulfilment of duty shall finally be overcome.—Elster, in Lange's Commentary.

Pro . Originally, as in Pro 11:1, of dishonesty in actual trade, but here perhaps as a companion to Pro 20:9, with a wider application to all inequality of judgment, to all judging one man by rules which we do not apply to ourselves or to another.—Plumptre.

That whereby thou takest from others shall add unto the weight of thine own punishment; that whereby thou addest in measuring for thyself shall make God to take away from the measure of His mercy towards thee.—Jermin.

Pro . There is no tree that in growing doth not bend rather to the one side or the other; there is no river which, although it have many windings and turnings, yet in the course of it doth not rather turn one way than another; and so it is in the life of man, even from the childhood of man's life. Do not judge, therefore, of any man by one work or two, so thou mayest wrong him and deceive thyself.—Jermin.

For Homiletics on Pro see on chap. Pro 6:10-11, page 79.


Verse 14-15

CRITICAL NOTES.—

Pro . Here Miller reads, There is gold, etc., in the lips of knowledge.

MAIN HOMILETICS OF Pro

BARGAINING

This proverb refers—

I. To a world-wide manifestation of human selfishness. A custom that was prevalent in the days of Solomon, many centuries ago, and amid circumstances which differed widely from those by which we are surrounded, has held its place among men until the present day, and will doubtless continue to do so until the teachings and the spirit of Christianity rule the world. It prevails in modern England quite as extensively as it did in ancient Judea; and whether the buyer be a millionaire bargaining for an estate, or a costermonger for the worth of a shilling, he is often found knowingly, and therefore criminally, depreciating the value of the commodity. It is a trait of fallen humanity which "makes the whole world kin."

II. A pitiful ground of boasting. Although it does need some skill and experience to tell the real value of an article, it requires none to pronounce it good for nothing. Only a man with some knowledge and judgment can put a fair price upon it, but any fool can say, "It is naught, it is naught." And if by knowingly depreciating the purchase the buyer robs the seller, he has but a very poor transaction to boast of. He has wronged another, it is true, but he has far more grievously wronged himself, for if his neighbour is the poorer by a few pence or pounds, he is the poorer by so much injury done to his own conscience, and by so much loss of the confidence of his fellow men. He who makes a boast of such a matter must, indeed, have few grounds for boasting.

OUTLINES AND SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS

This victorious boasting is not like other boasting. For that delighteth to do it in the face of the conquered; but this, as justly ashamed of itself, is made when they are gone one from the other. But to make a moral application of the words, as it is in buying commodities, so it is in the getting of wisdom and godliness; while a man labours for the obtaining of it, the trouble of his pains maketh him not to think so well of it, but having made it his own, then he praiseth the worth and excellency of it.—Jermin.

For Homiletics on Pro see on chap. Pro 3:14-15; Pro 8:11; Pro 12:14; Pro 18:20-21; pages 39, 107, 275, and 555.


Verse 16

CRITICAL NOTES.—

Pro . A strange woman. Rather, "a stranger."

MAIN HOMILETICS OF Pro

NECESSARY SECURITY

I. An untrustworthy creditor. A man who under ordinary circumstances makes himself a surety for one who is a stranger to him, is chargeable with great folly, and the act may be a criminal one. He is very foolish if he pledges himself up to his ability of redeeming his pledge, and he is dishonest if he goes beyond it. The warning of the proverb is directed against entering into business relations with a man who has so slight a sense of his own responsibility as to become "surety for a stranger." It may be regarded as a certainty that a man who will enter into such an engagement without reflection and caution is not to be depended on—does not measure his actions in this particular by a very high standard of morality. He may be a man of generous impulses and good intentions, but he lacks that substratum of high principle which makes a safe creditor.

II. An extreme security. The necessity of exacting security before credit, discloses the existence of immorality in the world. In a family where every brother is known to the other, and where the interests of each are the interests of all, there is no need to take a pledge for the performance of any promise, or the payment of any debt. But in the imperfect state of society in which we find ourselves, security before credit is necessary when we enter into business transactions with our fellow men, for the world is not yet ruled by the Divine precept, "Love thy neighbour as thyself."—(Mat ). And the security may be regulated by the reliability of him whom we trust. Solomon here regards him who becomes surety for a stranger, as so unlikely to be faithful to his own liabilities, that those who trust him may exact from him even that pledge which was the last allowed in the Mosaic law, and which could not be retained beyond the day (Exo 22:26-27). The injunction is probably to be regarded rather as advice against trusting such a man at all. (On the subject of suretyship, see Comments on chap. Pro 6:1. page 76).

OUTLINES AND SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS

The moral is that securityships are so unsafe that we may treat the man as one already ruined. But in the spiritual world it means (chap. 6.) that a man who holds fast sloth (chap. Pro ), holds fast a bond of eternal vengeance; that he renews it by his wilful act (Pro 17:18); that it is a bond to a friend (chap. Pro 6:1), but that friend forced ex lege to collect it; that if now at this late day he holds it on, stand clear from him! He will certainly be lost. Take his garment, that is, use the last resort, as against the most hopeless bondsman.—Miller.

His garment is not so near unto him as thou art unto thyself; that is not more needful to keep him warm than it is to keep thee safe. And seeing that he, by his folly, hath made himself naked of understanding, it is not thou but himself that maketh him naked of his garment. Seeing he is content to give himself a pledge for a stranger, it is less than thou doest in taking his garment as a pledge of him.—Jermin.


Verse 17

CRITICAL NOTES.—

Pro . A man. The Hebrew word here used is the one which denotes a superior man.

MAIN HOMILETICS OF Pro

BAD BREAD

I. Some gratification is to be obtained from dishonest gain. Many a swindler gets not only bread by swindling, but many other things, which not only minister to his senses, but gratify mental appetites not in themselves unlawful. And he finds pleasure in the fruit of his dishonesty—in, it may be, his well-furnished table, his luxurious mansion, his social position. It is not the highest and the purest pleasure, but there is a sweetness in it, or men would not grasp so eagerly the "bread of deceit."

II. A time will come when it will not only cease to give pleasure, but will bring misery. The dishonest man will find that, after all, his gains are not bread for his higher nature—that his soul is still unsatisfied, and crying out for sustenance—and, more than this, that his conscience demands satisfaction for the wrong-doing of the past—that even if he is permitted to keep possession of his ill-gotten wealth, it is not only what chaff without the grain, or the husk without the kernel, is to the starving man, but as the very sand of the desert or the dust of the highway in the mouth, tormenting as well as unsatisfying.

OUTLINES AND SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS

"Everything gotten wrongfully is here implied." Bitter was Achan's sweet, deceitfully hid in the tent, which brought ruin upon himself and his family (Jos ). Look at Gehazi. What profit had he from his talents of silver and changes of garments? Bitter indeed was the bread of deceit to him (2Ki 5:20-27). Look even at Jacob, a true servant of God; and yet chastened heavily almost to the end of his days with the bitter fruits of deceit (Genesis 27; Gen 42:36-38).—Bridges.

Men must not think to dine with the devil, and then to sup with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.—Trapp.

It is crusted without, as if it were bread; but within, contrary to bread, is not soft. The deceived, tasting it with the tongue of his hope and presuming confidence, findeth nothing which is not grateful unto him: the deceiver tasting it with the tongue of present profit findeth it most luscious unto him. But when the deceiver, having it in his mouth, pierceth it with the teeth of his trial, then as gravel breaketh the teeth so it breaketh his heart; and when the deceiver comes to feed upon it he findeth there is no juice of true profit.—Jermin.


Verse 18-19

CRITICAL NOTES.—

Pro . The first clause may be read, Establish thy purpose by counsel.

Pro . "Him that flattereth." Rather, him that openeth wide his lips, i.e., the babbler.

MAIN HOMILETICS OF Pro

THOUGHT BEFORE ACTION

I. The permanent success of an undertaking is generally in proportion to the thought bestowed upon it beforehand. It is an act of extreme folly to commit ourselves to any course, or to undertake any task without first weighing all the probable consequences, and providing against the most likely contingencies. Such a wise forethought by no means excludes entire dependence upon God, for while it is most true that "Man's goings are of the Lord," and "a man cannot understand his own way" (Pro ), both common sense and the Word of God plainly teach that man must use the powers of forethought with which he has been endowed, or he must be content to see his purposes frustrated and his plans miscarry. If he desires his "purposes" to be "established," in other words—what he does to have a lasting result in the direction desired—he must "sit down first" and "count the cost" (Luk 14:28; Luk 14:31).

II. It is advisable to call in the wisdom of others to help us in our deliberations. Since one man is rarely, if ever, able to look at a matter from every point of view, his plans are most likely to be wisely laid, and his purposes most likely to succeed, if he looks at them with the eyes of other men as well as with his own. They may discern a weak spot where he saw nothing to fear, or a point of vantage which had escaped his notice entirely. Or they may see good reasons for dissuading him altogether from the undertaking, or may make him so much the stronger for the task by encouragement and counsel. It is not generally those who are most able to act alone who lightly esteem the advice of others—those men who are most successful in that to which they put their hand are not as a rule given to undervalue the wisdom of other people.

OUTLINES AND SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS

The greatest trust between man and man is the trust of giving counsel.… Things will have their first or second agitation; if they be not tossed upon the waves of counsel, they will be tossed upon the waves of fortune, and be full of inconstancy, doing and undoing, like the reeling of a drunken man.—Lord Bacon.

Ponder Bishop Hall's description of the spiritual war. "It admits of no intermission. It knows no night, no winter. It abides no peace, no truce. It calls us not into garrison, where we may have ease and respite, but into pitched fields continually. We see our enemies in the face always, and are always seen and assaulted; ever resisting, ever defending, receiving and returning blows. If either we be negligent or weary, we die. What other hope is there, while one fights and the other stands still? We can never have safety and peace but in victory. Then must our resistance be courageous and constant, when both yielding is death, and all treaties of peace mortal." Does not this war bring the greatest need of deliberate counsel, carefully counting the cost (Luk ); cleaving to our All-wise Counsellor (Isa 9:6) and Almighty Helper?—Bridges.

Among the Romans, though a man were never so strong, never so valiant, yet, if he wanted wisdom and counsel, he was said to be miles sine oculis, a soldier without his eyes.—Jermin.

See Critical Notes for the correct rendering of the second clause of Pro , and for Homiletics see on chap. Pro 10:19 and Pro 11:13, pages 168 and 211.


Verse 20-21

MAIN HOMILETICS OF Pro

AN UNNATURAL CHILD AND A NATURAL LAW

I. An unnatural child. The ungrateful son or daughter of good parents is an unnatural being. If experience did not contradict, we should say that even fallen human creatures must return love for love, and could not help feeling gratitude to those who have denied themselves for their good. And as there is no love so strong and so unselfish as that which a parent feels toward a child, it does seem almost impossible that any child can be unresponsive to it. But if to remain untouched by it is unnatural, how much more so is it to attain to the height of wickedness upon which the text passes judgment. We must suppose that the proverb refers to fathers and mothers who are, to some extent, what they ought to be—who do in some measure reflect upon their offspring the tenderness of the Great and Divine Father—and then we can conceive of no more unnatural being than he "who curseth his father or his mother." Every natural instinct tends in the opposite direction.

II. A natural law. It does not need any special Divine interposition to blight and ruin such a man. The most powerful and blessed human influences are those which flow from the home-life, and from the emotions which ought to be kindled by the relationship of a child to its parent. But if these holiest influences are resisted and these emotions are stifled, moral darkness must overshadow the life, and it will continue to deepen while the hardness of heart continues. It is well known that even the remembrance of parental love after long years of insensibility to it is often the first step back into the light of righteousness and hope, and that many who have sunk very low in crime could trace their present condition to the unnatural sin of hardening their hearts against parental love.

OUTLINES AND SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS

This cursing, according to our Lord's standard, includes "setting light by father or mother;" wilful disobedience—a fearful, palpable mark of the last days. How God regards it, let his own curse on Mount Ebal (Deu ), and his judgment of temporal death, testify. The present degradation of Africa is a witness, on the confirming page of history, of the frown upon an undutiful son (Gen 9:22-25)—his lamp put out in darkness.—Bridges.

It must needs be an obscure darkness that is fallen upon that soul, in whom the light of nature is so far extinguished as that he curseth them from whom he had the blessing of being. It must needs be a smoky breath that shall reproach him who was the breath of his nostrils. And what can he expect but that his lamp shall be put out in darkness.—Jermin.

For Homiletics of Pro , see on chap. Pro 13:11, page 306; also on chap. Pro 21:5-7, page 596.


Verse 22-23

MAIN HOMILETICS OF Pro

THE RECOMPENSER OF EVIL

I. The man who has been wronged is disqualified to punish the offender. A sense of pain and suffering is not helpful to a man's judgment. He sees neither things nor persons in the light in which he would see them under happier conditions, and would not be likely to deal impartially with the offender. Hence, both the Bible and wise human governments—while freely allowing that he who injures another ought not to go unpunished—forbids men from undertaking the punishment themselves. Every human creature labours under another disqualification also. He is himself a law-breaker in a greater or less degree, and is not himself guiltless in thought and word, and perhaps in deed, of wrong towards his neighbour. The best of men cannot claim to be guiltless in this matter, and the majority are great offenders in one form or another. Therefore on this account also it is not meet for men to avenge their personal wrongs.

II. The most effectual way to rid one's self of the desire for revenge. We do not understand this proverb to forbid the bringing of men who have wronged us to the bar of human justice, for this may be a duty which we owe to society. It would be criminal in most cases not to apprehend one who had robbed us if it lay in our power to do so, for by letting him go free we should be exposing other innocent men to danger. But there are many cases in which men are greatly wronged in ways which do not come within the cognisance of human law, and when no benefit to anyone would arise from their punishment by any human instrumentality. In such cases, the sure remedy for any vindictive feelings in our own breasts is to lay the matter before Him whose judgment must be impartial, and who will render to every man according to his works. Waiting upon the Lord, too, will remind us so forcibly of our own shortcomings and wrongdoings that we shall be more ready to forget those of our brother.

OUTLINES AND SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS

It is to be observed that it is not said, Wait on the Lord and He will avenge thee, but, He will save thee. By this kind of speech, the Holy Ghost would warn every one that is injured, not to think of the revenge or hurt of his adversary, but of his own defence and salvation.—Muffet.

The question is clearly this: Is your safety and protection best lodged in God's hand or your own? By indulging your revengeful spirit, you do yourself a greater hurt than your greatest enemy can do you, for you gratify his ill-nature, when you suffer it to make a deep impression on your spirit, without which it could do you little or no hurt; but by committing your cause to God, you turn his ill will to your great advantage, making it an occasion for the exercise of the noblest graces, which are attended with the sweetest fruits, and with the rich blessing of God.—Lawson.

While Moses is dumb, God speaks; deaf, God sees and stirs. Make God your chancellor, in case no law will relieve, and you shall do yourself no disservice. If compelled to go a mile, rather than revenge, go two, yea, as far as the gospel of peace will carry you, and God will bring you back "with everlasting joy (Isa ). This is the way to be even with him that wrongs you, nay, to be above him.—Trapp.

So far should the desire of revenge be from man's heart, so far the execution of revenge from man's hand, that his tongue should not say it. Shall any say, I will revenge, when God says, revenge is mine. Neither let any say, I will revenge because I have been wronged. For, as Tertullian says, what difference is there between being the provoker and the provoked; but that he is first found in wickedness, and the other afterward? Do not therefore provoke God to anger, by seeking revenge in thy anger. Let God have his right.—Jermin.

For Homiletics on Pro , see on chap. Pro 11:1, page 190.


Verse 24

CRITICAL NOTES.—

Pro . Man. The first word, Geber, denoting a superior or mighty man: the second, Adam, man in general, or an ordinary man.

MAIN HOMILETICS OF Pro

GOD OVER ALL

A reference to the Critical Notes will show that in this verse there is an argument from the greater to the less, for the first clause contains an affirmation of a truth, and the second an argument drawn therefrom.

I. The truth affirmed, viz.—That the actions of the most mighty men, and the purposes of the wisest, are directly and absolutely under the control of God. This is self-evident if we admit that God is an Eternal, Omniscient, and Almighty Being, who concerns Himself with the government of the world. Having existed throughout the Eternal past and possessing absolute knowledge of the Eternal future, and being the Author of every man's being—determining the date of his entrance into the world and the period of his continuance in it, and during all that time "encompassing his path and his lying down," and even "understanding his thought afar off" (Psa )—how can even the mightiest of men boast of his independence of God and foretell what shall be the issue of his most sagacious counsels, or be confident that he shall be allowed to carry out even the most matured of his purposes. While he is perfectly conscious of his power to will and to do within certain limits, he must be also conscious that his ability to do both are dependent upon the will of Him in whom we all live and move and have our being.

II. The inference drawn. If God is thus above and behind the goings of the mighty of the earth, it is man's wisdom to trust the mysteries of the present and the contingencies of the future in His hands. Every night throughout the year travellers from one part of our island to the other commit their bodily life unreservedly into the hands of one or two of their fellow-creatures. They are either impelled by inclination, or compelled by necessity, to undertake a certain journey, and to do this they must take their places in a railway train, and for a time surrender their power to take care of their own lives into the hands of others. Darkness is all around them as they travel on, and darkness is before them—they cannot discern the road by which they are travelling, or be absolutely certain that they will reach the place which they desire. Yet their confidence in the skill and fidelity of a few of their fellow-creatures is strong enough to make them generally at ease. Each human life resembles such a journey. The path from the cradle to the grave must be traversed, but insoluble mysteries lie all around, and the future is entirely hidden from view. There is but One who knoweth the way that we take, to whom both past, and present, and future are alike visible and comprehensible. His infinite wisdom and love ought to make us willing to leave Him to "direct our paths," while a sense of our individual responsibility ought to keep us from presumptuous rashness on the one hand, and from indolent inertness on the other. The truth set forth in this proverb ought to be set beside that in Pro .

OUTLINES AND SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS

As the first clause attributes to the Lord exclusively the ordering of great men's goings, in order to attain success, so the second attributes to Him the prescient understanding of men's course. God directs natural actions by His ordinary providence, spiritual actions by His special providence, which foreordains from eternity, awakens the sinner, removes obstacles, suggests that state of life wherein He sees that the man will not fall away, but attain to glory. However a man may understand his life with respect to its beginning and aim, yet he understands not the best means in doubtful cases, nor can he ensure the issue.—Fausset.

Little did Israel understand the reason of their circuitous way to Canaan. Yet did it prove in the end to be "the right way." As little did Ahasuerus understand the profound reason why "on that night could not the king sleep;" a minute incident, seeming scarcely worthy to be recorded, yet a necessary link in the chain of the Lord's everlasting purposes of grace to His Church (Est .) Little did Philip understand his own way when he was moved from the wide sphere of preaching the gospel in Samaria to go into the desert, which ultimately proved a wider extension of the gospel. As little did the great Apostle understand that his "prosperous journey" to see his beloved flock at Rome would be a narrow escape from shipwreck, and to be conducted a prisoner in chains. Little do we know what we pray for. "By terrible things wilt Thou answer us in righteousness, O God of our salvation" (Psa 65:5). We go out in the morning not understanding our way; "not knowing what an hour may bring forth" (chap. Pro 27:1). Some turn connected with our happiness or misery for life meets us before night (Joh 4:7). Joseph, in taking his walk to search for his brethren, never anticipated a more than twenty years' separation from his father (Gen 37:14). And what ought those cross ways or dark ways to teach us? Not constant, trembling anxiety, but daily dependence. "I will bring the blind by a way that they know not: I will lead them in paths that they have not known." But shall they be left in the dark perplexity? "I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them" (Isa 42:16).—Bridges.

The cross ways that thwart man's goings are of God's laying out, the short ways which some make are of His finding out, the long ways that some go about are of His leading.… He doth but tumble down the hill of his own audacious rashness that thinketh to climb up unto God's way. What God hath revealed of Himself in moderating man's ways is true wisdom to observe, and happy is he who maketh use of it. But as ignorance here is an idle carelessness, so knowledge there is a prying boldness.—Jermin.


Verse 25

CRITICAL NOTES.—

Pro . The first clause of this verse should be, "It is a snare to a man to cry out hastily ‘holy,' i.e., to vow without thought and consideration."

MAIN HOMILETICS OF Pro

For the correct rendering of this verse see Critical Notes

RELIGIOUS VOWS

I. A man is under no obligation to vow. While the Scriptures contain many references to vows, whereby certain persons consecrated themselves or their property to God and give laws concerning their fulfilment (Numbers 30), there is no command which requires men to enter into such a solemn engagement. The text refers solely to religious vows—to an act of special consecration to God, such as that of Jacob at Bethel when he dedicated the tenth of all his gains to the service of Jehovah (Gen ), or that of Hannah when she promised that, if God would give her a man-child, she would give him unto the Lord all the days of his life (1Sa 1:11). It is obvious that such special acknowledgements of particular and exceptional blessings must be pleasing to God, but He lays upon men no obligation to render them, seeing that their value consists in their being spontaneous—the overflow of a grateful heart, or the result of a deep conviction of the claims of God, or of the need of Divine help in extraordinary circumstances.

II. A man is bound by the most solemn considerations not to vow thoughtlessly. As an intelligent and moral being he is bound to enter upon no course and to make no engagement without first inquiring whether the motive which prompts him at the outset is strong enough to carry him to the end. It is a snare and a sin to promise to a fellow-man and afterwards, in the words of the proverb, "to make inquiry," i.e., to ask ourselves whether we are prepared to abide by our promise. The inquiry must even in such a case be made beforehand, or we must be branded with unfaithfulness to our plighted word. (These remarks of course do not apply to vows and promises which are in themselves sinful or unlawful. The proverb does not deal with such). If, then, a man is bound to consider well before he promises to man, how much more so before he vows to God! What must be the harm done to conscience and to character, and how great the insult offered to the Divine Majesty, when vows are made and obligations entered into, and afterwards he who thus bound himself finds that he is not morally prepared for the sacrifice. To such an one we might say, as Peter said to Ananias—"Whiles it remained, was it not thine own?… Thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God" (Act ). "Better is it that thou shouldest not vow," says the Preacher, "than that thou shouldest vow and not pay" (Ecc 5:5).

OUTLINES AND SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS

It is questionable whether vows, properly so called, are consistent with the genius of the New Testament dispensation. At any rate, of such vows as were common under the Old, we have no recorded examples under the New. Resolutions to serve God we may, nay we must make; there is no getting on in the Divine life and in the zealous promotion of the Divine glory, without them. But the binding of the soul by particular bonds and oaths, whether verbal or written—obligations superinduced upon those of the Divine law—have been "a snare" to many, Weak minds have often felt the obligation of their vow more stringent than that of the Divine authority.—Wardlaw.


Verse 26

CRITICAL NOTES.—

Pro . The wheel, i.e., the wheel of the threshing, instrument which blows away the chaff.

MAIN HOMILETICS OF Pro ; Pro 20:28

PILLARS OF GOVERNMENT

I. A human ruler will have rebellious subjects in his kingdom. This will be the case however wise the laws, and with whatever care and discrimination they are administered. In the most cultivated and carefully kept ground some weeds are always found among the flowers—some tares among the wheat; and since the King who can do no wrong numbers among his subjects those who are lawless and disobedient, the best and wisest of human rulers must expect to do the same.

II. It is the duty and wisdom of a human ruler to make a distinction between his good and bad subjects, and to punish the latter. Even if the wheel mentioned in the proverb be regarded as simply an instrument of separation, as the threshing instrument separates the chaff from the wheat, the idea of punishment is retained. In a well-governed kingdom the laws which govern it are such a separating power between the evil and the good, so far as external conduct is concerned, and it is indispensable for the stability of peace and order that they should be strictly enforced. It would be most unjust, as well as unwise—it would be tempting men to transgression—if the lawless citizens in a community were allowed to go unpunished; and it is contrary to our innate sense of justice that in any kingdom "the righteous should be as the wicked" (Gen )—that the thief should have all the privileges of an honest man, and the murderer the liberty of an innocent person. The punishment of transgressors not only defends the good man, but it may prevent the bad man from increasing his guilt by adding crime to crime. The king of Solomon's proverbs is a typical word for all who are called upon to rule, whether in the family or the State, and the very word ruler, or governor, implies a discrimination between the evil and the good and a difference in their treatment.

III. The preservation of the throne depends more upon moral than upon physical power. We take the word throne in its widest sense as signifying any place or position which raises one man to be in any sense the ruler of another, from the throne of the father in his family and the master among his servants to that of the king amidst his subjects. In each and every one of these kingdoms, although external and physical coercion and punishment are sometimes indispensable, yet there is no permanent stability unless there is mercy and truth in the ruler, and unless it is manifest in his government. Many a throne has been erected on other foundations,—physical strength has established many kingdoms, and material wealth has set many men upon thrones. But if they have raised a superstructure its foundation has been in the sand, and when the rain and wind of adversity have descended upon it it has fallen, and great has been the fall of it. There must be some truth and mercy—some righteousness and justice, and withal some exercise of grace towards the wrongdoer—if the throne or the kingdom is to be upholden, and the wisdom of the ruler will be shown in his so mingling sternness with severity as to make both contribute to the one end. Truth must here be taken as synonymous with righteousness—as that observance of the just claims of every man which he has a right to expect and demand from those who rule him. This will include that punishment of the lawless which is the subject of Pro , but it is here implied that even punishment is to be tempered with mercy. Pity for the offender ought always to be mingled with indignation at the offence, and if any ruler desires to sit firmly upon his seat of justice he must consider not only the greatness of the crime but the strength of the temptation—not how severely he can punish the criminal but whether he can reform him. And this is rarely if ever done by the exercise of justice merely. The frost and cold are necessary to kill the weeds and vermin and to break up the soil, but there will never be flowers or fruit without summer rain and sunshine. And mercy is that "gentle rain from heaven" without which no sinful creature will ever bring forth fruits of righteousness.

ILLUSTRATION

The necessity of mingling mercy with justice is strikingly exemplified in the great success which attended the efforts of the late Captain Maconochie to benefit the convicts in our penal settlement in Norfolk Island. Having, in his capacity as Secretary to the Governor of Tasmania, seen most terrible and hardening effects from unmixed severity, he desired earnestly to try what could be done by combining mercy with discipline and punishment. For this purpose he was placed in command of Norfolk Island, and remained there four years, having under his care from 1500 to 2000 doubly-convicted prisoners, i.e., convicts who, after being transported from England to New South Wales, had been for other crimes again transported to Norfolk Island. Previous to his arrival they worked in chains, and it was considered dangerous for even armed officers to approach within three yards of them. It was considered unsafe to trust them with knives, and they therefore tore their food with their hands and teeth. They were accustomed to inflict dreadful injuries upon themselves in order to evade labour, and were described at the time as a demoniacal assemblage. But under more humane treatment the entire colony became changed, and one of his colleagues testifies that he and another superintendent "resided at one of the settlements in a cottage without lock and key, with simply a latch to the door, and close to the convict barracks, where over 2000 were lodged every night, also without locks." "Not a single serious offence," says he, "was ever committed in that time by any of those men, and the only bodyguard was another free superintendent and myself, together with a few trustworthy men selected from among themselves." This gentleman (Mr. J. Simms, since Governor of Plymouth Prison) goes on to say, "I shall ever remember this year as the most remarkable of all my prison experience, because it.… was a fair result of what might be realised from any body of men generally, thus treated, not by force, iron force, but by moral means." One remarkable example is given. At Sydney there had been a most desperate and unmanageable convict, named Anderson. He was flogged time after time for various offences, but to no good effect. He became more outrageous than ever. At last, the authorities, in despair, put him on a little island in Sydney Harbour, where he was kept chained to a rock, and in the hollow of which rock he slept. After some weeks the Governor went to see him, and urged him to submit to authority, but he refused. He was then sent for life to Port Macquarie Convict Station, where he was again and again flogged. He made his escape, and lived among the natives for some time, but, ultimately, being recaptured, he was sent to Norfolk Island for the crime of murder. Under Maconochie's humane treatment he became a changed man, and when the Governor of New South Wales visited the settlement he particularly noticed Anderson, and inquired, "What smart fellow may that be?" (See Leisure Hour for October, 1878.)

OUTLINES AND SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS

All dynasties have been kind. If they are cruel now, it must be like the weight of a clock, running down. There was kindness. "Mercy and truth" must at some time or other have builded the "throne."—Miller.

Godly Asa removed wickedness from the high place nearest his own throne and heart. Amaziah justly punished it with death. Nehemiah—that true reformer—rebuked it even in the family of the high priest. Our own Alfred appeared to maintain this standard as a witness for God in an age of darkness. But it is the King of kings alone that can make this separation complete. Often does He sift His Church by trial, for her greater purity and complete preservation (Amo ). But what will it be, when He shall come "with His fan in His hand, and shall thoroughly purge His floor?" (Mat 3:12). What a scattering of chaff will there be! Not an atom will go into the garner. Not a grain of wheat will be cast away. O my soul! what wilt thou be found at this great sifting day! "Who may abide the day of His coming? And who shall stand when He appeareth?" (Mal 3:2).—Bridges.

There goes more to preserve a king than to preserve a kingdom; and though the preservation of a kingdom be a weighty matter, yet the preservation of a king is much more weighty—though much care and pains be required for the one, much more is required for the other. Half of that will serve for the one which is needful for the other. Mercy will support the throne, but mercy and truth must preserve the king.—Jermin.


Verse 27

MAIN HOMILETICS OF Pro

THE CANDLE OF THE LORD

We understand by the spirit of a man the self-conscious ego—that which takes cognizance of the inner life, and which reasons and passes judgment upon all a man's perceptions, emotions, and volitions.

I. Man's spirit is a candle, because it is not self-originating. When we speak of a candle, the idea of a borrowed light comes before us; with us there is but one source and fountain of material light, and that is the sun, which, although it is but a candle of the Lord placed in the midst of our solar system, so far transcends all our artificial lights in its glory and permanence, that in comparison with them it seems self-existent and eternal. As a matter of fact, we know that all the artificial light stored up for us in combustible materials around us had its origin in that great father of lights, the sun, and that these lesser lights require kindling before they give forth brightness. So with the spirit of man—it is not self-existent and eternal, nor did it kindle itself, it owes its existence to that God who is the intellectual and moral light of the universe, because He is the source of all knowledge and goodness. That same Divine Creator, who said "Let there be light and there was light," who set the sun in the heavens to rule the day, made man in His own image by breathing into the human body that spiritual life which makes man a living soul, and distinguishes him from the animal creation around him. We can no more claim to be the author of our own spirits than the sun can claim to have called itself into existence.

II. Man's spirit is a candle, because it is a revealing power. All light is revealing; it first makes evident its own existence and then reveals the existence of objects outside itself. When the sun comes forth above the eastern horizon like a bridegroom from his chamber, it reveals its own glory, and it makes manifest all things upon which its rays fall, and nothing is hidden from the light thereof. So in a less degree is it with every flame of light, and so is it with the mysterious spirit of man. It is self-revealing and self-evidencing, and in and by its light we become conscious of the existence of material forms and spiritual beings, and moral and physical influences outside ourselves.

III. Man's spirit is a candle which is intended to prevent self-deception. Knowledge of any description is good and desirable, but there are two beings of whom it is moral death to remain in ignorance—ourself and God. The spirit of a man is the power by which he apprehends both, and this proverb deals exclusively with man's power to know himself, and especially with his power to take cognizance of himself as a moral and responsible being. As the sun, when it darts forth its rays upon the earth, does not leave us in twilight, and in uncertainty as to what is around us, and as the candle brought into a dark chamber shows us, maybe, the dust and the cobwebs, as well as the costly drapery on the walls, so this God-kindled light searches into the innermost thoughts, and feelings, and motives, and shows to every man who does not wilfully turn away from the sight, both the good and the evil that is in him. True it is that, as a moral light, it does not shine so brightly as it did when man came forth from his Maker's hand, and that he who "hateth light" because it is a reprover of his sin (Joh ) may to some extent obscure its brightness, yet every man possesses light enough within to show him his need of a light outside and above him—even of that "true Light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world" (Joh 1:9).

OUTLINES AND SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS

The candle which God has kindled in man has, as the nearest sphere of illumination which goes forth from it, the condition of the man himself—the spirit comprehends all that belongs to the nature of man in the unity of self-consciousness, but yet more, it makes it the object of reflection; it penetrates, searching it through, and seeks to take it up into its knowledge, and recognises the problem proposed to it, to rule it by its power. The proverb is thus to be ethically understood.—Delitzsch.

The essential connection between the life of God and the life of man is the great truth of the world, and that is the truth which Solomon sets forth in the striking words of my text. The picture which the words include is one of the most simple. A candle stands upon a table in a dark room, itself unlighted. Fire is brought into the room; a blazing bit of paper holds the fire, but it is blown and flutters, and any moment may go out; but the blaze touches the candle and the candle catches fire, and at once you have a steady flame which burns bright and pure and constant. The candle gives forth its manifestation to all the neighbourhood which is illuminated by it. The candle is glorified by the fire, and the two bear witness that they are made for one another by the way in which they fulfil each other's life. That fulfilment comes by the way in which the inferior substance renders obedience to the superior. The wax acknowledges the subtle flame as its master and yields to its power, and so, like every faithful servant of a noble master, it gives itself most unreservedly up, and its own substance is clothed with a glory that does not belong to itself. The granite, if you try to burn it, gives no fire; it only opposes a sullen resistance, and as the heat increases splits and breaks but will not burn. But the candle obeys, and so in it the scattered fire finds a point of permanent and clear expression. "The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord," says Solomon. God is the fire of this world. It is a vital principle, a warm pervading presence everywhere. What thing in outward nature can so picture to us the mysterious, subtle, quick, productive, and destructive principle; that which has always elevated men's hearts and solemnized their voices when they have said the word God, as this strange thing, so heavenly, so unearthly, so terrible, and so gracious, so full of creativeness, and yet so quick and fierce to sweep whatever opposes it out of its path? The glory, the beauty, the marvel, the mystery of fire! Men have always felt the fitness of fire as being the closest of all the elements around the throne on which their conception of Deity is sitting. Man and all other beings, if such beings there are capable of watching our humanity, see what God is in gazing at the manhood God has kindled. The universe is full of the fire of divinity; men feel it in the air as they feel an intense heat which has not yet broken out into a blaze. There is meaning in a great deal of the unexplained, mysterious awfulness of life—the sense of God felt, unseen. The atmosphere is burdened with heat that does not burst out into fire, and in the midst of this solemn burning world there stands up a man, pure and Godlike. In an instant it is as if a heated room had found some sensitive inflammable point where it would kindle into a blaze, and prospects of God's felt presence become clear and definite. The fitfulness of the impression of divinity is steadied into permanence. The mystery changes its character, and is a mystery of light and not of darkness. The fire of the Lord has found the candle of the Lord, and burns clear and steady, guiding and cheering instead of bewildering and frightening us, just as a man obedient to God has begun to catch and manifest His nature. I hope you will find this truth comes very close to your separate lives, but let me remind you first what essential dignity clothes the life of man in this world. Such philosophy as belongs to our time would deprecate the importance of man in the world, and rob him of his centralness. His position in such philosophies is this: that the world was not made for man. With us the old story that the Bible told, the book of Genesis with its garden of Eden, and its obedient beasts waiting until man should tell them what they should be called, stands firmly at the beginning of the world's history. The great notion of the centralness of man in the Garden of Eden re-asserts itself in every cabin of the western forests, or the southern jungles, where a solitary settler and his wife begin as it were the human history anew. There once again the note of Genesis is struck, and man asserts his centralness, and the beasts hesitate in fear till he shall tame them to his service, or bid them depart. The earth under his feet holds its fertility at his command, and what he does upon the earth is echoed in the storms. This is the great impressive idea which over the simplest life of man is ever growing, and with which the philosophies that would make little of the sacredness and centralness of man must always have to fight. This is the impression which is taken up, and steadied, and made clear, and turned from a petty pride to a lofty dignity and a solemn responsibility, when there comes such a message as this of Solomon. He says that the true sacredness, and superiority, and centralness of man is in the likeness of his nature to God's, and that capacity of spiritual obedience to Him, in virtue of which man may be the earthly declaration and manifestation of God to all the world. So long as that truth stands, the centralness of man is sure. "The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord." This is the truth of which I wish to speak to you—the perpetual revelation of God by and through human life. I. You must ask yourself, first, what God is. See how at the very bottom of His existence, as you conceive of it, there lie these two thoughts—purpose and righteousness; how impossible it is to give God any personality, except as the embodiment of these two qualities, the intelligence that plans, and the righteousness that lives in duty. How could any knowledge of these qualities, of what they are, of what sort of being they will make, exist upon the earth, if there were not a human heart in which they could exist, and from which they could be shown? Only a person can truly utter a person; only from a character can character be echoed. You might write it over the skies that God was just, but it would be at best only a bit of knowledge—never a Gospel—never something which it would gladden the hearts of men to know. That comes only when a human life is capable of a justice like God's justice, and is clothed with His justice in the eyes of men. I have just intimated one thing that we need to observe: man's utterance of God is purely the utterance of a quality; it can tell me nothing of the quantities that make up His life. That God is just, and what it is to be just, I can learn from the just lives of the just men about me; but how just God is, to what unconceived perfection, to what unexplained developments that majestic quality of justice may extend in Him—of that I can form no judgment that is worth anything from the justice I see in my fellow-men. II. This seems to me to widen at once the range of the truth I am stating. If it be a quality of God, which man is capable of uttering, then it must be the simple quality of manhood that is necessary for the utterance, and not any specific quantity, not any assignable degree of human greatness. Whoever has the spirit of man may be the candle of the Lord. A larger measure of that spirit may make a brighter light; but there must be a light wherever any human being, in virtue of his essential humanness, by obedience becomes luminous with God. There are the men of manhood, spiritually the leaders of the race; how they stand out! how all men feel their power as they come into their presence, and feel that they are passing into the light of God! They are puzzled when they try to explain it. There is nothing more instructive and suggestive than the bewilderment men feel when they try to tell what inspiration is. He who goes into the presence of any powerful nature, feels sure in some way he is coming into the presence of God; but it would be melancholy if only the great men could give you this conviction. The world would be darker than it is if any human spirit, as soon as it became obedient, did not become the Lord's candle. A poor, bruised life, if only it keeps that human quality, and does not become inhuman, but is obedient to God, in its blind way becomes a light. A mere child with his pure humanity, and with his turning of his life towards God from Whom he came—how often he may burn with some suggestion of divinity, and cast illumination upon problems and mysteries so difficult that he himself has never felt them! Little lamps burning everywhere. III. We have here the key to another mystery that often puzzles us. What shall we make of some men rich in attainments and well educated, who stand in the midst of their fellow-men dark and helpless?… Let us let the light of Solomon's figure upon it. Simply this: they are unlighted candles; they are the spirit of man furnished to its very finest, but lacking the last touch of God; like silver lamps all chaste and wrought with wondrous skill, all filled with choicest oil, but all untouched by fire. IV. There are multitudes of men whose lamps are certainly not dark, and yet who certainly are not the candles of the Lord,—with a nature richly furnished, yet profane, impure, worldly.… Such a man is not another unlighted candle. He burns so bright and lurid that often the pure light grows dim within its glare. But if it be possible for the human candle, when the subtle components of a human nature are all mingled carefully in it; if it be possible that, instead of being lifted up to heaven, and kindled at the pure beam of Him who is eternally and absolutely good, it should be plunged down into hell, and lighted at the cruel flames that burn out of the dreadful brimstone pit, then we can understand the sight of a man who is rich in every energy of manhood cursing the world with the exhibition of the devilish instead of the Godlike in his life.… V. There is still one other way, more subtle and sometimes more dangerous than this, in which the spirit of man may fail of its functions as the candle of the Lord. The man may be lighted, and the fire at which he is lighted may be, indeed, the fire of God, and yet it may not be God alone he shows forth upon the earth. I can picture to myself a candle which should in some way mingle the peculiarity of its own substance with the light it sheds. So it is, I think, with the way in which a great many men manifest God. They have really kindled their lives at Him. It is His fire that burns in them. They are obedient, and so He can make them His points of exhibition, but they are always mixed with the God whom they show. They show themselves as well as Him; just as a mirror mingles its own reflection with the things that are reflected from it and gives them a curious convexity because it is itself convex. This is the secret of pious bigotry, of holy prejudices; it is the candle putting its own colour into the flame it has borrowed from the fire of God. The feeble man makes God seem feeble, the speculative man makes God look like a doubtful dream, the legal man makes God seem as hard and steel-like as law. VI. I have tried to depict some difficulties which beset the full exhibition in the world of the great truth of Solomon.… Man is selfish and disobedient, and will not let his light burn at all; man is wilful and passionate, and kindles his light with ungodly fire; man is narrow and bigoted, and makes the light to shine in his own peculiar colour; but all these are accident—distortions of the true idea of man. How can we know that? Here is the perfect man, CHRIST!… I bring the man of my experience and the man of my imagination into the presence of Jesus, but they fall short of Him, and my human consciousness assures me they fall short of the best ideal of what it is to be a man. "I am come a light into the world," said Jesus; "he that hath seen me hath seen the Father." "In Him was light, and the life was the light of men." So wrote the man who of all men knew Him best. I think I need only bid you look at Him and you will see what it is to which our feeble lights are struggling. There is the true spiritual man who is the candle of the Lord, "the Light that lighteth every man." It is entirely a new idea of life, new to the standards of our ordinary living, which is there revealed. All ordinary appeals to men to be up and doing, and to make themselves shining lights, fade away and become insignificant before this higher message which comes in the words of Solomon in the life of Jesus. What does that higher message say to you and me? That your full relationship to God can only be realised by obedience to Him, when you will shine by His light; then you cannot be dark, for He shall kindle you; then you shall be as incapable of burning with false passion, as you shall be quick to answer the true; then the devil may hold his torch to you, as he held it to the heart of Jesus in the desert, and your heart shall be as uninflammable as His. As soon as God touches you, you shall burn with a light so truly your own that you shall reverence your own mysterious life, and yet be so truly His that pride shall be impossible. In certain lands, for the most holy ceremonies they prepare the candles with the most anxious care. The very bees that distil the wax are sacred. They range in gardens planted with sweet flowers for their use alone. The wax is gathered by consecrated hands, and the shaping of the candles is a holy task performed in holy places, with the singing of hymns, and in an atmosphere of prayer. All this is done because the candles, when they are made, are to burn in the most elevated ceremonies and on the most sacred days. With what care must the man be made whose spirit is to be the candle of the Almighty Lord! It is his spirit that the Lord is to kindle for Himself; therefore the spirit must be the precious part of him. The body must be valued only for the protection and education that the spirit may gain by it. The power by which his spirit shall become a candle is obedience; therefore obedience must be the struggle and desire of his life; obedience, not hard and forced, but ready, loving, and spontaneous; obedience in heart, the obedience of the child to the father, the obedience of the candle to the flame; the doing of duty not merely that the duty may be done, but that the soul in doing it may become capable of receiving and uttering God; the bearing of pain not merely because the pain must be borne, but that the bearing of it may make the soul able to burn with the Divine fire that found it in the furnace; the repentance of sin and the acceptance of forgiveness not merely that the soul may be saved from the fire of hell but that it may be touched with the fire of Heaven, and shine with the light of God as the stars, for ever.—Philips Brooks.

This "candle of the Lord" is a slight and diminutive light. A lamp is no such dazzling object. A candle has no such goodly light as that it should pride and glory in it; it is but a brief and compendious flame, shut up and imprisoned in a narrow compass. How far distant is it from the beauty of a star! how far from the brightness of a sun! This candle of the Lord, when it was first lighted up, before there was any thief in it, even then it had but a limited and restrained light. God said unto it: "Thus far shall thy light go; hither shalt thou shine and no further." Adam, in his innocency, was not to crown himself with his own sparks. God never intended a creature should rest satisfied with his own candle-light, but that it should run to the fountain of light, and sun itself in the presence of God. What a poor happiness had it been for a man only to have enjoyed his own lamp.… The "candle of the Lord" is a light discovering present, not future things, for did you ever hear of such a lamp as would discover an object not yet born? Would you not smile at him that should light a candle to search for a futurity?… Let, then, this candle content itself with its proper object. It finds work enough, and difficulty enough, in the discovery of present things, and has not such a copious light as can search out the future.… The light of reason is a certain light. Lamplight, as it is not glorious, so it is not deceitful—though it be but limited, it will discover such things as are within its own sphere with a sufficient certainty. The letters of nature's law are so fairly printed, they are so visible and capital, that you may read them by this candlelight.… Although there is not vigour enough in any created eye to pierce into the pith and marrow, the depth and secrecy of being … It is a directive light. The will looks upon that, as Leander in Musæus looked up to the tower for Hero's candle, and calls it, as he doth there: "Lamp which to me, on my way through this life, is a brilliant director." … The will doth but echo the understanding, and doth practically repeat the last syllable of the final decision; which makes the moralist well determine that "moral virtues cannot exist without intellectual powers." … Other creatures, indeed, are shot more violently into their ends; but man hath the skill and faculty of directing himself, and is, as you may so imagine, a rational kind of arrow, that moves knowingly and voluntarily to the mark of its own accord.… It is an aspiring light. I mean no more by this than what that known saying of Augustine imports: "Thou hast made us, O Lord, for Thyself: our heart will be restless till it return to Thee." The candle of the Lord—it came from Him and it would fain return to Him. For an intellectual lamp to aspire to be a sun is a lofty strain of that intolerable pride which was in Lucifer and Adam; but for it to desire the favour, and presence, and enjoyment of a beatifical sun, is but a just and noble desire of that end which God created it for.… If you look but upon a candle, what an aspiring and ambitious light it is!… It puts on the form of a pyramid, occasionally and accidentally by reason that the air extenuates it into that form: otherwise it would ascend upward in one greatness, in a rounder and completer manner. It is just thus in "the candle of the Lord;" reason would move more fully according to the sphere of its activity, it would flame up to heaven in a more vigorous and uniform way; but that it is much quenched by sin … therefore it is fain to aspire and climb as well as it can. The bottom and base of it borders upon the body, and is therefore more impure and feculent; but the apex and cuspis of it catches toward heaven.… Every spark of reason flies upward. This Divine flame fell down from heaven and halted with its fall—as the poets tell us of the limping of Vulcan—but it would fain ascend thither again by some steps and gradations of its own framing.—Culverwell.

For Homiletics on Pro , see Pro 20:26.


Verse 28

CRITICAL NOTES.—

Pro . The wheel, i.e., the wheel of the threshing, instrument which blows away the chaff.

MAIN HOMILETICS OF Pro ; Pro 20:28

PILLARS OF GOVERNMENT

I. A human ruler will have rebellious subjects in his kingdom. This will be the case however wise the laws, and with whatever care and discrimination they are administered. In the most cultivated and carefully kept ground some weeds are always found among the flowers—some tares among the wheat; and since the King who can do no wrong numbers among his subjects those who are lawless and disobedient, the best and wisest of human rulers must expect to do the same.

II. It is the duty and wisdom of a human ruler to make a distinction between his good and bad subjects, and to punish the latter. Even if the wheel mentioned in the proverb be regarded as simply an instrument of separation, as the threshing instrument separates the chaff from the wheat, the idea of punishment is retained. In a well-governed kingdom the laws which govern it are such a separating power between the evil and the good, so far as external conduct is concerned, and it is indispensable for the stability of peace and order that they should be strictly enforced. It would be most unjust, as well as unwise—it would be tempting men to transgression—if the lawless citizens in a community were allowed to go unpunished; and it is contrary to our innate sense of justice that in any kingdom "the righteous should be as the wicked" (Gen )—that the thief should have all the privileges of an honest man, and the murderer the liberty of an innocent person. The punishment of transgressors not only defends the good man, but it may prevent the bad man from increasing his guilt by adding crime to crime. The king of Solomon's proverbs is a typical word for all who are called upon to rule, whether in the family or the State, and the very word ruler, or governor, implies a discrimination between the evil and the good and a difference in their treatment.

III. The preservation of the throne depends more upon moral than upon physical power. We take the word throne in its widest sense as signifying any place or position which raises one man to be in any sense the ruler of another, from the throne of the father in his family and the master among his servants to that of the king amidst his subjects. In each and every one of these kingdoms, although external and physical coercion and punishment are sometimes indispensable, yet there is no permanent stability unless there is mercy and truth in the ruler, and unless it is manifest in his government. Many a throne has been erected on other foundations,—physical strength has established many kingdoms, and material wealth has set many men upon thrones. But if they have raised a superstructure its foundation has been in the sand, and when the rain and wind of adversity have descended upon it it has fallen, and great has been the fall of it. There must be some truth and mercy—some righteousness and justice, and withal some exercise of grace towards the wrongdoer—if the throne or the kingdom is to be upholden, and the wisdom of the ruler will be shown in his so mingling sternness with severity as to make both contribute to the one end. Truth must here be taken as synonymous with righteousness—as that observance of the just claims of every man which he has a right to expect and demand from those who rule him. This will include that punishment of the lawless which is the subject of Pro , but it is here implied that even punishment is to be tempered with mercy. Pity for the offender ought always to be mingled with indignation at the offence, and if any ruler desires to sit firmly upon his seat of justice he must consider not only the greatness of the crime but the strength of the temptation—not how severely he can punish the criminal but whether he can reform him. And this is rarely if ever done by the exercise of justice merely. The frost and cold are necessary to kill the weeds and vermin and to break up the soil, but there will never be flowers or fruit without summer rain and sunshine. And mercy is that "gentle rain from heaven" without which no sinful creature will ever bring forth fruits of righteousness.

ILLUSTRATION

The necessity of mingling mercy with justice is strikingly exemplified in the great success which attended the efforts of the late Captain Maconochie to benefit the convicts in our penal settlement in Norfolk Island. Having, in his capacity as Secretary to the Governor of Tasmania, seen most terrible and hardening effects from unmixed severity, he desired earnestly to try what could be done by combining mercy with discipline and punishment. For this purpose he was placed in command of Norfolk Island, and remained there four years, having under his care from 1500 to 2000 doubly-convicted prisoners, i.e., convicts who, after being transported from England to New South Wales, had been for other crimes again transported to Norfolk Island. Previous to his arrival they worked in chains, and it was considered dangerous for even armed officers to approach within three yards of them. It was considered unsafe to trust them with knives, and they therefore tore their food with their hands and teeth. They were accustomed to inflict dreadful injuries upon themselves in order to evade labour, and were described at the time as a demoniacal assemblage. But under more humane treatment the entire colony became changed, and one of his colleagues testifies that he and another superintendent "resided at one of the settlements in a cottage without lock and key, with simply a latch to the door, and close to the convict barracks, where over 2000 were lodged every night, also without locks." "Not a single serious offence," says he, "was ever committed in that time by any of those men, and the only bodyguard was another free superintendent and myself, together with a few trustworthy men selected from among themselves." This gentleman (Mr. J. Simms, since Governor of Plymouth Prison) goes on to say, "I shall ever remember this year as the most remarkable of all my prison experience, because it.… was a fair result of what might be realised from any body of men generally, thus treated, not by force, iron force, but by moral means." One remarkable example is given. At Sydney there had been a most desperate and unmanageable convict, named Anderson. He was flogged time after time for various offences, but to no good effect. He became more outrageous than ever. At last, the authorities, in despair, put him on a little island in Sydney Harbour, where he was kept chained to a rock, and in the hollow of which rock he slept. After some weeks the Governor went to see him, and urged him to submit to authority, but he refused. He was then sent for life to Port Macquarie Convict Station, where he was again and again flogged. He made his escape, and lived among the natives for some time, but, ultimately, being recaptured, he was sent to Norfolk Island for the crime of murder. Under Maconochie's humane treatment he became a changed man, and when the Governor of New South Wales visited the settlement he particularly noticed Anderson, and inquired, "What smart fellow may that be?" (See Leisure Hour for October, 1878.)

OUTLINES AND SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS

All dynasties have been kind. If they are cruel now, it must be like the weight of a clock, running down. There was kindness. "Mercy and truth" must at some time or other have builded the "throne."—Miller.

Godly Asa removed wickedness from the high place nearest his own throne and heart. Amaziah justly punished it with death. Nehemiah—that true reformer—rebuked it even in the family of the high priest. Our own Alfred appeared to maintain this standard as a witness for God in an age of darkness. But it is the King of kings alone that can make this separation complete. Often does He sift His Church by trial, for her greater purity and complete preservation (Amo ). But what will it be, when He shall come "with His fan in His hand, and shall thoroughly purge His floor?" (Mat 3:12). What a scattering of chaff will there be! Not an atom will go into the garner. Not a grain of wheat will be cast away. O my soul! what wilt thou be found at this great sifting day! "Who may abide the day of His coming? And who shall stand when He appeareth?" (Mal 3:2).—Bridges.

There goes more to preserve a king than to preserve a kingdom; and though the preservation of a kingdom be a weighty matter, yet the preservation of a king is much more weighty—though much care and pains be required for the one, much more is required for the other. Half of that will serve for the one which is needful for the other. Mercy will support the throne, but mercy and truth must preserve the king.—Jermin.


Verse 29

MAIN HOMILETICS OF Pro

THE GLORY OF YOUTH AND AGE

I. Each period of life has a value and a glory of its own. There is a beauty in spring to which no other season of the year can approach. The vivid green of the opening leaves, and the meadows and hedge-banks carpeted with early flowers, give to spring a glory all its own. But the other seasons also have their peculiar charms. It is no less pleasant to look upon the landscape at midsummer, when the woods are in their full dress, and the valleys are covered over with corn, or in the autumn, when the harvest is being gathered in, and flowers have given place to fruit. If spring is the time of hope and promise, autumn is the season of realisation and fulfilment, and we are well content that the one should be lost in the other. So it is with the different periods of our human life—each has its special charm and its special advantages. We love to dwell upon the loveliness of childhood, but we should not like to see our sons and daughters remain children for ever, and it is pleasant to look upon and to experience the energy and hope of youth, but there are good things which cannot be ours until we reach to mature life, and even to grey hairs. We have before considered the glory of the hoary head (see on chap. Pro , page 493); we have only to consider—

II. The peculiar gift and glory of young men. It is, says Solomon, their "strength"—their power to do and to endure in a physical sense, what the aged cannot, by reason of the failure of their bodily powers. When men have passed middle life, they become more and more painfully conscious that if the "inward man is renewed day by day, the outward man is perishing" at the same rate (2Co ), and although their experience is richer, and their wisdom greater, their physical ability and energy is not what it once was. Their ship is laden, it may be, with a far more precious cargo, but the tide is not so strong, and the breeze is not so powerful to waft it on its way as it was in the years that are gone. It is the glory of the young man that his strength is often more than enough for himself, he is able to bestow some upon the weak and needy. But the aged man is often painfully conscious that he has none to spare, that instead he is dependent upon the strength of others. The consideration of the special advantages of each season of human life ought to cheer the aged man and prevent him from regretting the days of youth, and at the same time it ought to make the young man respectful to the old, and willing to listen to their counsel, and so far as it is possible combine the wisdom of grey hairs with the vigour of youth. It also warns the young man against any abuse of his physical powers—against any unlawful indulgence of bodily appetites, and against the formation of unhealthy and indolent habits—which make so many of our youths prematurely old, bringing upon them the frosts of autumn, before they have brought forth its fruits.


Verse 30

CRITICAL NOTES.—

Pro . The blueness of a wound. Cutting wounds (Delitzsch), Wounding stripes (Zckler). Miller translates the "welts" (i.e., the tumid and purple confines of a wound), cleanse as though an evil, "that is, although painful and deformed, they have a clear office, viz., to purge away the sore." Wardlaw suggests that the word, being etymologically derived from a verb denoting to join together, may be translated compressions, and says, "The compressions of a wound are necessary for cleansing out of it the prurient and peccant humour, which would prevent its healing; they are, at the same time, in many cases exceedingly painful, and would only be endured or inflicted from necessity. And as they thus clean the wound and promote its healing, so in a moral sense does the severity of discipline affect with salutary and cleansing influence the condition of the inner man."

MAIN HOMILETICS OF Pro

PAIN AS A PREVENTIVE OF PAIN

For the different renderings of this verse, see the Critical Notes. However we translate it the thoughts suggested are the same, viz:—

I. That pain in the present may prevent greater pain in the future. When the surgeon is called in to examine a wounded man, the examination of the wound may give him more pain than he would have suffered if he had been let alone; it may bring far more present suffering to extract the ball, or to insert the probe, than it would have done simply to bandage the wound. But the pain of to-day is to ensure days of healthful rest by and by; if the present suffering was not inflicted, months and years of pain in the future might be the result. The pain of mind or body inflicted upon a child of five or ten years old, is intended by its parent to prevent greater moral or physical pain when he is fifty or seventy. There is no human creature who can afford to do without the pruning-knife at some period of its life; and if the pruning is not administered, the penalty will be paid either in this world or the next. The wise and loving parent gives pain in youth to prevent pain to his child in manhood, and the All-wise and Loving Father, God, subjects His children to pain in the present life to prevent a deeper and more lasting pain in the life to come. He pricks the conscience by His word to bring men to repentance, and so to salvation from the "wrath to come," and He sees even in His own children so much "evil" remaining that He is compelled to visit "their transgressions with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes" (Psa ), in order to "cleanse" their characters.

II. Pain of body may be beneficial to the human spirit. This is a subject to which our attention has been before directed. See on chap. Pro , page 334, and on chap. Pro 17:10, page 510.

 


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Bibliography Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Proverbs 20:4". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/phc/proverbs-20.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.

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