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Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments
Proverbs 21

 

 

Verse 1

Proverbs 21:1. The king’s heart — His very inward purposes and inclinations, which seem to be most in a man’s own power, and out of the reach of all other beings; and much more his tongue, and hand, and all his outward actions; are in the hand of the Lord — Subject to the influence, control, and government of the great Lord of all. As the rivers of water — Which husbandmen, or gardeners, can draw by little channels into the adjacent grounds, as they please. He names kings, not to exclude other men, but because they are more arbitrary and uncontrollable than others. He turneth it — Hebrew, ישׂנו, he inclineth, or bendeth it; whithersoever he will — So that they fulfil his counsels and designs, either of mercy, or of correction to themselves, or to their people. God does this partly by suggesting those considerations to their minds which have a commanding influence upon their wills and affections, and partly by a powerful, although insensible operation upon their minds and hearts.


Verse 2-3

Proverbs 21:2-3. Every way of a man, &c. — See on Proverbs 16:2, where this same thing was declared. To do justice and judgment — The conscientious performance of all our duties to men; is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice — Than the most costly outward services offered to God, joined with the neglect of religious and moral duties to God or men: see 1 Samuel 15:22; Hosea 6:6; Micah 6:7-8.


Verse 4

Proverbs 21:4. A high look — One sign of pride put for all the rest; and a proud heart — Pride lurking and reigning in the heart, though it do not discover itself to men by outward actions, but be disguised with a show of humility, as it frequently is; and the ploughing of the wicked — Even their civil or natural actions, which in themselves are lawful and good, are made sinful, as they are managed by ungodly men, without any regard to the glory of God, which ought to be the end of all our actions; is sin — Is by them turned into sin, and made the occasion of much wickedness.


Verse 5-6

Proverbs 21:5-6. The thoughts of the diligent — Who carefully and industriously prosecutes what he hath wisely contrived and resolved; tend only to plenteousness — To affluence and wealth; but every one that is hasty — That manages his affairs rashly, without due consideration; only to want — Is likely to bring himself to poverty. The getting of riches by a lying tongue — By bearing false witness, or by any deceitful words or actions, such as those by which many men get riches; is a vanity tossed to and fro — Is like the chaff or smoke, driven away by the wind; it is neither satisfactory nor durable, but quickly vanisheth away, as has been frequently observed of estates ill-gotten; of them that seek death — That take those courses which bring death or destruction on them or theirs.


Verse 7-8

Proverbs 21:7-8. The robbery of the wicked shall destroy them — The injury which they do to others shall, either by God or men, be returned upon their own heads; because they refuse to do judgment — They wilfully and obstinately give up themselves to unrighteous practices. The way of man — The course of man’s life, of the life of every man, as he is by nature, or in his corrupt state; is froward and strange — Perverse and estranged from God, and from man’s primitive integrity, and from the rule which God hath given him whereby to direct his actions, namely, reason and Scripture; but as for the pure, his work is right — His conversation, his tempers, words, and works; his designs and undertakings are agreeable to that rule.


Verse 10

Proverbs 21:10. The soul of the wicked desireth evil — His heart is earnestly and fully set in him, as it is expressed Ecclesiastes 8:11, to do evil, to work wickedness, to do mischief to others, or to satisfy his own lusts, though it be with injury of others. His neighbour findeth no favour, &c. — If he either endeavour to dissuade him from his wickedness, or stand in the way of his gratifying his lusts. He spares neither friend nor foe.


Verse 11-12

Proverbs 21:11-12. When the scorner, &c. — Houbigant renders this verse, “When the scorner is punished, the humble is made more wise; and when the wise man prospers, the same person will acquire knowledge.” The sense evidently is, The simple learn wisdom both from the punishment of wicked men, and from the prosperity of good men. The righteous man wisely considereth, &c. — He looketh through the present power and glory of the house, or family, of the wicked, which dazzles the eye of others, unto that ruin to which it is hastening; but God, or rather: now, or that, God overthroweth, or will overthrow, the wicked for his wickedness Namely, in due time, though for a season he bear with them.


Verse 13

Proverbs 21:13. Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor — When they cry out by reason of oppression or want, and beg relief from him; he also shall cry himself — Unto God or men, in his straits which God shall bring upon him; but shall not be heard — Shall be denied his requests.


Verse 14

Proverbs 21:14. A gift — Bestowed on a person offended and angry with us, as the following words show; in secret — That is, given in secret, which makes it more acceptable; for gifts openly given savour of ostentation in the giver: and cause some shame to the receiver; pacifieth anger — Removes all resentment, and conciliates love; and a reward in the bosom Secretly conveyed into the bosom; strong wrath — Will extinguish that wrath which was thought implacable.


Verse 16

Proverbs 21:16. The man that wandereth out of the way of understanding — That forsaketh the rule of God’s word, and walketh after his own lusts; shall remain in the congregation of the dead — Shall, without repentance, be condemned to eternal death and destruction; Hebrew, בקהל רפאים, In the congregation of the Rephaim; his lot shall be among those wicked souls hereafter, namely, in the depths of Sheol; or the lowest and most wretched parts of it, where the lewd and dissolute go, Proverbs 9:18. See this considered at large in the note on Job 26:5.


Verse 17

Proverbs 21:17. He that loveth pleasure — That gives himself up to the pursuit and enjoyment of sensual pleasure; shall be a poor man — Takes the ready course to poverty. He that loveth wine and oil — Which were much used in feasts in those parts; that is, he that loves to feast and live delicately; shall not be rich — For the lusts of sensuality are not maintained but at a great expense.


Verse 18

Proverbs 21:18. The wicked shall be a ransom for the righteous — The wicked shall be brought into those troubles which were designed by wicked men against the righteous, and by that means, as by a ransom, the righteous shall be delivered; thus Haman was a ransom for Mordecai.


Verse 20

Proverbs 21:20. There is a treasure, &c., in the dwelling of the wise — Wise men lay up all necessary and desirable treasures for their own use and for their families. Oil is particularly mentioned, because it was a considerable part of their wealth and treasures in those countries; but a foolish man spendeth it Or, as Houbigant renders the clause, A foolish man will dissipate these; or, as Schultens reads it, A foolish man, a man given to luxury and extravagance, absorbs it; “that is, all that desirable treasure and opulence which his wise and careful father had abundantly laid up.”


Verse 21

Proverbs 21:21. He that followeth after righteousness, &c. — That fervently desires, and diligently and constantly endeavours to attain these virtues, and to live in the exercise of them; findeth life — Spiritual and eternal life; righteousness — What is right and due to him, either from God, by virtue of his gracious promise, or from men, whose hearts God will incline to deal justly and kindly with him; and honour — Esteem and respect from wise and good men here, and the crown of righteousness, that fadeth not away, hereafter.


Verse 22

Proverbs 21:22. A wise man scaleth the city of the mighty — Wisdom and policy are ofttimes more considerable and powerful than strength; and casteth down the strength, &c. — The strongest forts, to which the citizens trust most for their defence.


Verse 24

Proverbs 21:24. Proud and haughty scorner is his name, &c. — Instead of that respect and glory, which he seeks by such a practice, he shall be branded with the title and imputation of an arrogant and scornful person; who dealeth in proud wrath — Who, in the conduct of his affairs and dealings in the world, is not governed by reason and justice, but by his own pride and passions.


Verse 25-26

Proverbs 21:25-26. The desire of the slothful killeth him — Torments him almost to death, while he passionately desires that which he sees he shall not enjoy, and will not take pains to procure. He coveteth greedily all the day long — Spends his whole time in vain and lazy desires, but will not labour to gain any thing, either to use himself, or to give to others. But the righteous giveth, and spareth not — By God’s blessing upon his industry he procures enough not only for his own support, but also for the liberal relief of others.


Verse 27

Proverbs 21:27. The sacrifice of the wicked — All the most glorious and costly services which they offer to God; is abomination — God rejects and abhors them, because they are offered by such men, and in such a manner, as God justly abhors; how much more when — Hebrew, אŠ כי, because, or, even because, as all the ancient translators render it; he bringeth it with a wicked mind — With a hypocritical and impenitent heart, or from a bad motive; not in obedience to God’s command, and with a desire and intention to glorify him; but either to cover, or countenance, or promote some wicked design or practice, which, notwithstanding all his professions of religion, he is not determined to relinquish.


Verse 28

Proverbs 21:28. A false witness — Hebrew, עד כזבים, A witness of lies; one who is forward to swear or speak false things, or such things as he hath neither heard nor seen, but devised in his own heart; shall perish — Shall be severely punished, either by God or men, and shall be confounded and silenced, because none will for the future regard or credit his testimony. But the man that heareth — Before he speaks, and witnesseth nothing but what he has heard or seen, and knows to be true; speaketh constantly —

Doth not contradict himself, but always affirms the same thing. Or, as most interpreters render לנצח ידבר, speaketh, or may, or shall speak for ever. He dare speak freely and boldly; and, when liars are cut off, he lives, and is in a capacity of speaking and bearing witness again and again, as occasion requires, as long as he lives, and his testimony will be received.


Verse 29

Proverbs 21:29. A wicked man hardeneth his face — Continues in his evil practices with obstinacy and impudence, in spite of all the commands of God, or counsels of men; but the upright directeth his way — Ordereth his steps aright; and, if at any time he errs from the right path, he does not add rebellion to his sin, nor persist in his error, but considers his ways, and turns his feet to God’s testimonies.


Verse 31

Proverbs 21:31. The horse is prepared, &c. — Under which particular all warlike preparations are comprehended; but safety is of the Lord — The success of the battle depends not upon any human strength or art, but upon God’s providence, who gives the victory when and to whom he pleases, and frequently to those that have least reason to expect it.

 


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Bibliography Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Proverbs 21:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/proverbs-21.html. 1857.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, September 23rd, 2019
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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