Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Proverbs 20:23

Differing weights are an abomination to the Lord , And a false scale is not good.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Abomination;   Balances;   Dishonesty;   Honesty;   Measure;   Weights;   The Topic Concordance - Abomination;   Hate;   Justice;  
Dictionaries:
Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Delight;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Pardon;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Pentateuch;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Balances;   Proverbs, Book of;   Weights and Measures;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Balance;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Balance;   Divers;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Balance;  

The Biblical Illustrator

Proverbs 20:23

And a false balance is not good.

False balance applied to providences

We may apply a false balance to the providences which make up our life. What skill some people have in dealing only in dark things, black aspects, wintry phases, deprivations, bereavements, losses! They are eloquent when they tell you what they have parted with. Who can be equally eloquent in numbering mercies? Who ever gets beyond the outside of things, the mere rim, the palpable environment? Who gets into the soul, and who says, “I have reason, how can I be poor? I have health, how can I fail? I have home, how can I be desolate?” In balancing life take in all these reasons and thoughts and considerations, and so doing you will see that all the while God has been making you rich, or giving you the possibilitity and opportunity of acquiring and enjoying the true wealth. Who is there that keeps a right balance when he has to weigh the present and the future? The unsteady hand can never get an equipoise; the palsied fingers cannot hold the scales. The present is here, the future is yonder; and when did “here” fail to carry the war against “yonder”? We have even formed little foolish proverbs about this; we have gone so far as to tell the lie that “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” Whoever says that is guilty of a palpable sophism. He seems to be speaking truth, he forgets that everything depends on the bird that is in the bush, and all the possibilities and contingencies and promises which relate to the possibility and certainty of its capture if the right way be pursued. We are the victims of the present. It would seem impossible for some men to do justice to spirituality. Spiritual teaching goes for nothing. If you deal in clothing for the head you will get your money; there is a county court to support you--but if you give a man ideas, if you pray him into heaven, if you lift up his soul into a new selfhood, the county court would smile at you if you made application for assistance in any direction that you might think honest and equitable. And the very best of men play at that game. They cannot help it. (J. Parker, D. D.)

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Proverbs 20:23". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/proverbs-20.html. 1905-1909. New York.

The Biblical Illustrator

Proverbs 20:23

And a false balance is not good.

False balance applied to providences

We may apply a false balance to the providences which make up our life. What skill some people have in dealing only in dark things, black aspects, wintry phases, deprivations, bereavements, losses! They are eloquent when they tell you what they have parted with. Who can be equally eloquent in numbering mercies? Who ever gets beyond the outside of things, the mere rim, the palpable environment? Who gets into the soul, and who says, “I have reason, how can I be poor? I have health, how can I fail? I have home, how can I be desolate?” In balancing life take in all these reasons and thoughts and considerations, and so doing you will see that all the while God has been making you rich, or giving you the possibilitity and opportunity of acquiring and enjoying the true wealth. Who is there that keeps a right balance when he has to weigh the present and the future? The unsteady hand can never get an equipoise; the palsied fingers cannot hold the scales. The present is here, the future is yonder; and when did “here” fail to carry the war against “yonder”? We have even formed little foolish proverbs about this; we have gone so far as to tell the lie that “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” Whoever says that is guilty of a palpable sophism. He seems to be speaking truth, he forgets that everything depends on the bird that is in the bush, and all the possibilities and contingencies and promises which relate to the possibility and certainty of its capture if the right way be pursued. We are the victims of the present. It would seem impossible for some men to do justice to spirituality. Spiritual teaching goes for nothing. If you deal in clothing for the head you will get your money; there is a county court to support you--but if you give a man ideas, if you pray him into heaven, if you lift up his soul into a new selfhood, the county court would smile at you if you made application for assistance in any direction that you might think honest and equitable. And the very best of men play at that game. They cannot help it. (J. Parker, D. D.)

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Proverbs 20:23". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/proverbs-20.html. 1905-1909. New York.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

"Diverse weights are an abomination to Jehovah; And a false balance is not good."

This is parallel with Proverbs 20:10. See the comment there.

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Proverbs 20:23". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/proverbs-20.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Divers weights are an abomination unto the Lord,.... See Gill on Proverbs 20:10; which is here repeated for the further confirmation of it, and that it might be taken notice of and avoided; and perhaps this sin of using false weights and measures was common with the Jews;

and a false balance is not good; in the sight of God; but an abomination, as in Proverbs 11:1; nor is it good for men in the issue; for though they may gain by it at present, it will prove a loss to them in the end, since it will bring a curse on all they get.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 20:23". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/proverbs-20.html. 1999.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

(Compare Proverbs 20:10; Proverbs 11:1).

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Proverbs 20:23". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/proverbs-20.html. 1871-8.

Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary

23 An abomination to Jahve are two kinds of weights;

And deceitful balances are not good.

A variant to Proverbs 20:10, Proverbs 11:1. The pred. לא־טוב (Proverbs 17:26; Proverbs 18:5; Proverbs 19:3) is conceived of as neut.; they are not good, much rather bad and pernicious, for the deceiver succeeds only in appearance; in reality he fails.

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The Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary is a derivative of a public domain electronic edition.
Bibliographical Information
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Proverbs 20:23". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/kdo/proverbs-20.html. 1854-1889.

Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

This is to the same purport with what was said Proverbs 20:20. 1. It is here repeated, because it is a sin that God doubly hates (as lying, which is of the same nature with this sin, is mentioned twice among the seven things that God hates, Proverbs 6:17, Proverbs 6:19), and because it was probably a sin very much practised at that time in Israel, and therefore made light of as if there were no harm in it, under pretence that, being commonly used, there was no trading without it. 2. It is here added, A false balance is not good, to intimate that it is not only abominable to God, but unprofitable to the sinner himself; there is really no good to be got by it, no, not a good bargain, for a bargain made by fraud will prove a losing bargain in the end.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Proverbs 20:23". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhm/proverbs-20.html. 1706.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Proverbs 20:23 Divers weights [are] an abomination unto the LORD and a false balance [is] not good.

Ver. 23. Divers weights are an abomination.] In righting and revenging themselves men are apt to weigh things in an uneven balance, to be overpartial in their own cause, and to judge that a heinous offence in another, that is scarce blameworthy in themselves. It is best, therefore, to lay down all injuries at God’s feet, who will be sure to give a "just recompense to every transgression," [Hebrews 2:2] and will else turn his wrath from our enemies to us, for our diverse weights and false balances. {See Trapp on "Proverbs 20:10"}

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Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 20:23". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/proverbs-20.html. 1865-1868.

The Popular Commentary by Paul E. Kretzmann

v. 23. Divers weights are an abomination unto the Lord, and a false balance is not good. Cf v. 10.

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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Proverbs 20:23". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/kpc/proverbs-20.html. 1921-23.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Divers weights are an abomination unto the Lord; of which See Poole "Proverbs 20:10".

Is not good; is very wicked and hateful to God and men.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Proverbs 20:23". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/proverbs-20.html. 1685.

Expositor's Bible Commentary

33

CHAPTER 17

A JUST BALANCE

"A just balance and scales are the Lord’s: all the weights of the bag are His work."- Proverbs 16:11

"A false balance is an abomination to the Lord: but a just weight is His delight."- Proverbs 11:1

"Diverse weights, and divers measures, both of them alike are an abomination to the Lord."- Proverbs 20:10

"Diverse weights are an abomination to the Lord; and a false balance is not good."- Proverbs 20:23

THE sixteenth chapter opens-and we may annex to it the last verse of chapter 15.-with a series of sayings which are grouped together on the principle that the name of the Lord occurs in each. There is no obvious connection between the successive verses, and some of them have been already touched on in previous lectures, but it will be worthwhile to glance at the series as a whole.

The Lord’s presence must be recognized and reverenced before we can make any progress in wisdom, and in His presence we must humble ourselves before we can expect any honor. [Proverbs 15:33] We are entirely dependent upon Him; although our hearts may form plans, we cannot utter anything aright unless He controls our tongue. [Proverbs 16:1] However self-satisfied we may be with our own ways, however convinced we may be of our own innocence, He weighs our spirit, and will often find a guilt which our conceit ignores, an impurity which our vanity would hide. [Proverbs 16:2] We should do well, therefore, to commit all our works to Him, in order that He may revise and correct our purposes and establish those which are good. [Proverbs 16:3] We cannot think too much of His all-inclusive wisdom and knowledge; everything lies in His hands and is designed for His ends; even the wicked who rebel against Him - men like Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar, Judas, Elymas-must in their inevitable punishment glorify His righteousness and truth. [Proverbs 21:4] For punishment is absolutely sure; the proud are an abomination to Him, and although they combine to oppose His will and to escape the penalty, it will be quite in vain. [Proverbs 16:5] On the other hand, where He sees mercy and truth He will purge iniquity, and when men fear Him they will depart from evil. [Proverbs 16:6] When His smile is upon them and He approves their ways, He will make their path plain, pacifying their enemies, and making their hearts glad. [Proverbs 16:7] He will guide them, even directing their steps, in such a manner that their own imperfect counsels shall turn to a happy and successful issue. "Whoso trusteth in the Lord, happy is he." [Proverbs 26:20] Indeed we cannot exaggerate the minute observation of the Lord; no detail escapes His eye, no event is beyond His control; even what is generally called Chance is but another name for His unmarked and unknown direction; the very lot-that lot which settles contentions and separates the strong-cast into the lap is actually disposed by him [Proverbs 16:33] much more, therefore, are the deliberate transactions of commerce-those subtle bonds of the cash nexus which twine man to man and nation to nation-under His constant inspection and a subject of His most interested concern, "a just balance and scales are the Lord’s: all the Weights of the bag are His work."

It is, then, as part of the Lord’s watchful activity and direct, detailed connection with all the affairs of human life, that He is interested in our business and trade. We may notice at once that this is very characteristic of the Old Testament religion. In the Deuteronomic Law it was written: "Thou shalt not have in thy bag divers weights, a great and a small. Thou shalt not have in thine house divers measures, a great and a small. A perfect and a just weight shalt thou have; a perfect and a just measure shalt thou have: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. For all that do such things, even all that do unrighteously, are an abomination unto the Lord thy God." [Deuteronomy 26:13-16] Again, in the Levitical Law we find: "Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment, in meter-yard, in weight, or in measure. Just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin, shall ye have: I am the Lord your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt." [Leviticus 19:33; Leviticus 19:36]

The Israelite was encouraged to think that all the work in which he engaged was ordained by, and therefore under the observation of, his God. "Hate not laborious work, neither husbandry which the Most High hath ordained," says Ecclesiasticus. [Sirach 7:15] And there is a striking passage in Isaiah where the operations of agriculture are described in detail, and all are attributed to God, who instructs the husbandman aright and teaches him. It all comes from the "Lord of hosts, which is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in wisdom." [Isaiah 28:23-29]

But at present we are concerned only with trade as a department of industrial life, and especially with the actual chaffering of exchange, the barter of goods for goods, the weights and measures which settle the quantities, and the rules which must govern all such transactions. We should gather that the commercial fraud of those primitive times took this comparatively simple form: the merchant would have, let us say, a half shekel which came a little short of the regulation weight; or he would have a cubit measure (1 ft. 9 in.) half an inch under a cubit; or he would have a vessel professing to hold a hin (i.e., a little more than a gallon), but actually holding a little less than a gallon; or he would have a dry measure, marked as an ephah (i.e., about three pecks), but incapable of holding the ostensible quantity. In an ordinary way he would use these inadequate measures, and thus nibble a little from every article which he sold to a customer. But in the event of a purchaser presenting himself who had a fuller knowledge or might conceivably act as an inspector and report the fraud to the judge, there would be a just half shekel weight in the bag, a full cubit rule hidden behind the counter, a hin or an ephah measure of legal dimensions within easy reach. You may smile at such primitive methods of deception, but it requires many generations for a civilized society to elaborate commercial fraud on the large scale.

Now passing at once to our own times and bringing the truth of our text to illuminate them, I should like to say a little to people engaged in business, whether employers or employed, whether the business is wholesale or retail. And let me assure you that I am not going to attempt a detailed examination and criticism of your business concerns. Such an attempt would be grossly impertinent, and might well expose me, not only to your indignation, but to your ridicule. No, I do not believe that it is the part of the preacher to meddle with matters which he does not understand; he only discredits his message by affecting an omniscience which he cannot possibly possess. I have no doubt that the youth who has been in a warehouse or behind the counter for six months already knows more of commercial habits, of trade practices, of the temptations and difficulties which practically press upon people in business, than I know, or am likely to know if I live to twice my present age. I shall not therefore insult you by attempting to point out evils and expose abuses, to denounce particular frauds, and to hold up any special people or classes of people to moral reprobation. My task is quite different; it is this: -I am to remind you, first, that God possesses that omniscience to which I can lay no claim, and therefore is intimately acquainted with all the transactions of your bank, your warehouse, your office, your counter, your workshop; and, secondly, that He regards with intense satisfaction all fair dealing, and with vindictive indignation every fraud, and trick, and lie. And on the strength of this I am to ask you very earnestly to review your lives and your practices in the light of His judgment, and to consider how you may bring all your doings in business into conformity with His will.

Perhaps you will let me, as a man speaking to his fellow-men, as a Christian, I hope, speaking to his fellow-Christians, expand these three points a little.

First. We are all of us tempted to think that a considerable proportion of our life is too insignificant to attract the particular attention of God. We can understand that He takes notice of our entrance into, and our exit from, the world, but we think that between the two limits He leaves us to "devise our own ways." Or possibly we can recognize His interest in the crisis of our life, but are inclined to question His minute care of the common and monotonous routine. He marks what business we enter, but, when we are in it, lets us alone. He is interested in our marriage, but, when we are married, leaves husband and wife to adjust their own relations. Or He marks a large business transaction in which there is room for a really gigantic fraud, but cannot pay any attention to a minute sale over the counter, the trivial adulteration of a common article, the ingenious subterfuge for disposing of a damaged or useless stock. Is not this our unspoken but implicit mode of reasoning? And could anything be more illogical? The Divine Power which would create this infinitely diversified universe must be able to mark every tiniest detail of the tiniest object in it. Great and small are relative terms, and have no significance to Him. Naturalists tell us that in the scale of living creatures, arranged according to size, the common beetle occupies the middle point, the smallest living creature being as much smaller as the largest is larger than it. And yet the microscope, so far from showing that God takes less care with the infinitesimal creations of His hand, rather inclines us to say that the smaller the creature is, the more delicate adjustment, the more exquisite proportions, the more brilliant hues, does it display. Our Lord brought home to us this minuteness of the Divine Mind, this infinite power of embracing the veriest trifles of the creation in His thought and care, by assuring us that not a sparrow falls without His notice and that the hairs of our heads are all numbered.

There is, then, no logical resting-place, when we are thinking of the Mind of God. If He knows us at all, He knows all about us. If He marks what we consider the important things m our life, He marks equally what we consider the unimportant things. The whole life, with every detail from birth to death, is accurately photographed in the light of His omniscience; and as the exposed plate of the camera receives many details which escape the observation of our eyes, so the smallest and least observed transaction in the daily business, every figure entered truly or falsely in the ledger, every coin dropped justly or dishonestly into the till, every bale, every packet, every thread, every pin, which changes hands in the market, passes at once into the observant and comprehending mind of God.

Second. But in this exhaustive and detailed knowledge of the way in which you are conducting your business, His warm approval follows everything that is honest and just, His vehement censure lights on all that is dishonest or unjust. It may come as a great comfort to you to know that a little business matter which cost you a considerable struggle the other day was duly noted and recorded by the Lord. I was not present at the time, nor did anyone who was near you in the least surmise what was passing. But you suddenly recognized the possibility of making a large profit by simply adopting a very slight subterfuge; what made the case peculiarly difficult was that neighboring and rival firms to your certain knowledge did the like every day; the innocent faces of wife and children at home seemed to urge you, for what a difference would this sum of money make to their comfort and welfare in the coming year? You weighed the little trick over and over again, and set it now in this light, now in that, until at last the black began to seem grey, and the grey almost white. After all, was it a subterfuge? was it not merely a quite legitimate reserve, an even laudable commercial prudence? And then, as you wavered, some clear light of truth fell upon your mind; you saw distinctly what was the right course, and very quietly you took it; the prospect of gain was surrendered, you saw the advantage pass over to your rival; he availed himself of it, and went to church next Sunday just the same. Sometimes you have wondered whether after all you were not too scrupulous.

Now all that God knows; it is His delight; He has recorded it already in His Book, and also in your own moral nature, which is the stronger and the better for it.

On the other hand, it must be a subject of some concern to many that the same all-observing, all-recording Mind regards with hatred all the sharp practices by which in business we deceive and defraud one another. I suppose there is a way of making up books which would pass any accountant in London, and yet would not pass the audit of God. I suppose there are gains which to the average commercial conscience of today appear fair enough, and yet to the One who weighs the spirits of men seem to be quite illicit. There must be men who made their money long ago in certain ways best known to themselves, and are now living in great comfort; but all the time in the books of God a terrible record stands against them, and as the eye of God falls upon those pages, the moan of the ruined, the cry of the fatherless and the widow, and the horrified entreaties of the helpless come up into His ear.

We have no reason for thinking that the unjust balance has become any less abominable to the Lord because the eager and relentless competition of modern industrial life has multiplied, while it has refined, the methods of fraud, and has created a condition of things in which, as so many people urge, questionable practices have become actually necessary for one who would keep his head above water. We have no reason to think that God regards it as at all essential that any of us should keep his head above water. The warm and honorable reception given to Lazarus in heaven, when his head had gone under the waters on earth, might lead us to think that what we call failures here may possibly be regarded as grand successes there. But we have every reason to think that double-dealing, no matter what may be the plea, is abominable in the sight of the Lord.

It is in vain to point to the great prosperity which has fallen to the lot of some whose dishonorable practices have been notorious. It is beyond a doubt that knavery may be successful in its way and a clever rogue may outdistance an honest dullard. The proverb "Honesty is the best policy" is not, as some people seem to think, in the Bible; honesty may or may not be the best policy, according to the object which you have in view. If your object is simply to amass wealth, the saying will read, "Honesty is the best policy; and where it is not, be dishonest." God does not judge in the least by worldly prosperity. From the parable just alluded to one would conclude that it is, in heaven, a certain presumption against a man; there may yet prove to be truth in the hard saying, "He that dies rich is damned." If God hates these questionable practices which are said to exist in modern trade, and if He enters them all in His black books, they who prosper by employing them are none the less failures: their ruin is sure; their remorse will be as inevitable as their recovery will be impossible.

Third. I come therefore now to urge upon all of you that you should order all your business ways as in the sight of God, and concern yourselves chiefly with the thought how they may be in conformity with His holy Will. Do not be content with estimating your conduct by the judgment which other men would pass upon it. While such an estimate might reveal many things which would not pass muster, it is doubtful whether their problematical censure will afford an adequate motive for reform, and it is sure to overlook many of the evils which they are bound to wink at, because their own hands are not clean. Do not be content even with estimating your conduct by the standard of your own unaided conscience. Your conscience may at any given time be in a degraded state; in order to keep it quiet you may have brought it down to the level of your conduct. A thief’s conscience seldom troubles him unless his theft is unsuccessful, in which case it reproaches him for not being more careful and more skillful. You may, like St. Paul, know nothing against yourself and yet not be thereby justified. For doubtless most of the evil practices of our time represent a conscience that has been stupefied with sophistry and deadened with selfishness, so that the worst culprits are the first to put on an air of injured innocence, and those who are least guilty suffer most just because the conscience is still sensitive and has not yet been seared with the usual hot iron.

No, the only safe and effectual method is to bring all your business habits, all the practices of the counter and the counting-house, under the searching eye of the All-seeing One. Unless you realize that He sees and knows, and unless you humbly submit everything to His judgment, you are sure to go wrong; your standard will insensibly fail, and you will insensibly fall away even from the fallen standard. It is said that peculiar difficulties beset you in the present day; it is said that it was never so hard to be straightforward and above-board in commercial dealings; it is said that the insane Moloch of competition imperatively demands the blood of our youth, and even makes assaults on the established virtues of maturity. It may be so, though we are generally inclined to exaggerate the peculiar temptations of our own time in comparison with those of a former age; but if it is so, then there is all the more urgent a necessity that you should bring your affairs to God’s judgment, seek diligently to understand His will, and then ask Him for a peculiar strength to enable you to overcome these peculiar temptations. You will not alter His judgment of your conduct by attempting to ignore it. But by seeking to understand it, and by laying your heart open to be influenced by it, you will find that your conduct is perceptibly altered and apparent impossibilities are overcome, because "by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil." [Proverbs 16:6]

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Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Proverbs 20:23". "Expositor's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/teb/proverbs-20.html.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

23.Divers weights’ abomination — Compare Proverbs 20:10, and Proverbs 11:1. For the expression not good, (a litotes,) comp. Proverbs 17:26; Proverbs 18:5.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Proverbs 20:23". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/proverbs-20.html. 1874-1909.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

abomination, &c. See note on Proverbs 3:32.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Proverbs 20:23". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/proverbs-20.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Divers weights are an abomination unto the LORD and a false balance is not good.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Proverbs 20:23". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/proverbs-20.html. 1871-8.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Divers weights are an abomination unto the LORD; and a false balance is not good.
weights
10; Ezekiel 45:10
a false balance
Heb. balances of deceit.
Hosea 12:7; Amos 8:5
Reciprocal: Deuteronomy 25:16 - all that do;  Proverbs 6:16 - an;  Proverbs 11:1 - A false balance is;  Proverbs 16:11 - just;  Micah 6:10 - and;  1 Thessalonians 4:6 - go

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Proverbs 20:23". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/proverbs-20.html.

The People's Bible by Joseph Parker

False Balances

Proverbs 20:23

Texts of this kind show the quality of the Bible. No man can in one sentence adequately represent the contents of the Book of God. When we say "Bible," what part of the Bible do we mean? There are many Bibles in one. It is possible to admire the Bible. Admiration is an offence to God. God does not seek admiration, he seeks worship. When we admire and praise the Bible we may be thinking of its comforts and promises, its minor music, its tender speeches to the heart. That is not the Bible; that is part of the great Book—an essential, beautiful, indispensable part, because it is fitted to the valley and the darkness, the pain and the restlessness of life: but it would be a poor Bible if it were a Bible of promise only. We must go into other books it we would know what the Bible is in its totality. The bad man must hate the Book of Proverbs; the low-lived business man never looks into the book that rebukes him, the book that knows his little tricks, the book that exposes him in every line. He wonders who wrote the Proverbs. He is content to make it a historical question whilst he goes on with his low villainy. We think of the Bible as a Book of spiritual metaphysics, dealing with the unknown and the unknowable, the unthought and the unthinkable. The Bible does deal with these lofty subjects, but it also comes in and tests your yard-wand, saying, You thought this wand was thirty-six inches long, it is only thirty-five and a half. How glad we should be then if the Bible would deal with the unthinkable! Then we could be Agnostics in relation to it; but when it impertinently, with divine rudeness, takes up the yard-wand, what becomes of our little theory that "business is business, and religion is religion."? Not in the estimation of the Bible. We do not want men who talk so to know the Bible in any sense of patronising it; we do not want such men, we want them to be infidels. To have the Bible and disobey it is agnosticism; to cry, The Bible for ever! and never to practise its morality, is the direst, shame-fullest atheism. We do not want such people to come to church unless they come in the spirit of penitence, the spirit of men who are ashamed of themselves and want to be better and to do better. This Book of Proverbs should be the business man"s book: then he would sweat nobody, injure nobody; would help everybody; would say, The loaf of bread is mine to share with a man who has no loaf. The Book of Proverbs would soon make a new society. When the Bible is discussed, in what parts do men take refuge when they would oppose it? Why do they not go into those parts which they can understand and apply, and wait until the other door is open? There is a good deal in the Bible that men might do, and whilst they are doing that they might be waiting in holy expectation for brighter visions, for widening horizons; meanwhile, what doth thy God require of thee, O Prayer of Manasseh, but to do justly, to love mercy, to walk humbly with God? Begin there, and you will end there; you will sweep through an infinite firmament of thought, but you will come back to that in heaven. What more shall the bright souls do? It is a long way from the first note to the last in this great life-anthem, and yet the first note and the last are identical.

Texts like this throw responsibility upon the right parties Upon whom is the responsibility thrown in this text? Upon the seller, upon the inside of the counter. The man is not to stand up and say, I cannot be both buyer and seller; if the man does not know what a yard Isaiah, it is no business of mine to tell him; if he does not know how many ounces there are in the pound, I am not a schoolmaster to go over the table of weights and measures: he ought to have known all these things before he came to me. No, thou whited sepulchre! You should go upon the principle that you must do right whoever else does wrong; you should be a gentleman, whoever else is a clown. Your place of business should be the asylum, the refuge, of honesty and confidence, so that men shall say about you, We shall get justice here; we should like a few ounces more to the pound, but we shall get table measure and table weight here, for here is a man who would rather die than be dishonest—here is a man who says, It is not necessary for me to live, but it is necessary for me to maintain my character and to please God. If you have anything to sell you take the responsibility belonging to your superior knowledge; it is your business to point out the disadvantages of the situation. And yet we think the Bible is unknowable and unthinkable! Certainly it is in many instances, judging by the weakness and cupidity of men, impracticable. It is for the seller to say, On the whole I would advise you not to buy this; it is not so good as it looks, there is not so much of it as it appears in bulk; all the best are at the top, as you get down and down you get worse and worse: turn the matter over in your mind and come back to-morrow if you want it. Would that end business? Never! It would improve business, it would improve incomes, it would improve society, it would sweeten the heart and soul of things,—perhaps not to-day or to-morrow, but in the long run. The Bible is not so unthinkable as we supposed it was. We thought it was a supernatural book, dealing in spirits, and spectres, and ghosts, and cloudy outlines and impossibilities. It may do so in other parts, but just here a wayfaring Prayer of Manasseh, though a fool, need not err therein.

"A false balance is not good." Then there must somewhere be a true balance; somewhere there must be an authoritative standard. What is the meaning of this word "false"? Where you find false you expect to find true; when you find wrong how do you know it is wrong but by the right? Somewhere there is an equipoise. It is all there. Where is that authority? where is that plumb-line that will not tell lies to please any crookedness in the world? What a world of philosophy is in that one reflection that somewhere there must be a true balance, otherwise we could never know that there is a false balance. Somewhere there must be an essential standard of morality; somewhere there must be a moral authority that is infallible and unchangeable. Why palter with details and incidents and accidents and controversies in words? why not gird ourselves up and go in quest of the eternal and unchangeable standard? We could find it; it is not far from any one of us. Weigh your goods out to yourself before you weigh them to your customer; be your own customer first and see that you get the right weight, then pass it on. Beware of all casuistry: avoid men who are too fluent to be honest, too subtle to be true; who make so many distinctions and divisions and subdivisions and classifications that you despair of their ever reaching good, sound, honest conclusions. The casuist first votes on one side, then on the other; he gives you ten reasons for doing, and ten reasons decimal nine for not doing; and whilst you are balancing the one against the other he tells you that even then it is impossible to get at anything that is really and abidingly substantial in the matter. He will refer you to conscience, and when you are going to that court he will tell you that the judge is not sitting to-day; in fact, if he has to come to real matters of simple acknowledgment there is no judge to sit. All casuists are liars, and all liars are thieves. We have, even as laymen in the school of philosophy, come to the false conclusion that wrongs exist separately; so we draw one line, and say, Lying; another, and say, Stealing; another, and say, Hypocrisy; and so on: in reality they are all one. No man can be a liar without being; a thief, and no man can be a thief without being a liar, and no man can be either without being a hypocrite under some circumstances. We thought the Bible was a Book of spirits; it is a Book of morals.

All this we are more or less agreed upon with regard to weights and scales and measures; there is no discussion amongst us as to the pence-table, or avoirdupois or troy or apothecaries" tables, we know all their ounces and pounds and drams and pennyweights. But does not a text like this suggest the larger balancing of things? Even the balance on the counter is a preacher. The clock ticks for eternity; the dewdrop may be a lesson in astronomy. We thought it was a little wet jewel, and snipped it off the rose-leaf with our thumb and finger; in another sense it is the sun in miniature, one of the great planets come down into measurableness and visibility. So this plumb-line is the eternal measurement. The angels have nothing but that same cord with the little weight at the end of it, and that little weight will make the cord right presently. That little weight is seeking the centre of the earth, and the centre of the earth is seeking the centre of the sun, and the centre of the sun is seeking the centre of God. Is it so that a little dangling cord will shake and quiver until it says in stillness, This is right? Is it possible to be right in all these comparatively little matters, and to be wrong in matters that are vital, essential, everlasting? Is there not a great principle of equipoise here? Has not everything to be in harmony with everything else? Is there not a standard by which all things are to be meted and measured and adjusted? Let us beware sometimes of the merely individual conscience. It is possible to have a pedantic conscience, it is possible for a man to say that such and such arrangements do not suit his conscience. But, in the name of the soul of things, what is his conscience? How has he trained it? How has he treated it? Has he put out both its eyes? Has he choked its voice of reproach? Has he bribed it? Has he put it into a dead sleep with some chemical opiate? We treat men"s consciences with a healthy rudeness when they want to make too much of them in the pence-table, and when they want to buy by apothecaries" and sell by troy weight, and then say, "My conscience..." We soon get rid of these little pedants in the marketplace, but in the Church of God we encourage that species of pedantry, and a man with a pedantic conscience wants a whole pew to himself. Beware of unhealthiness; be on your guard against moral morbidity; know that everything is weighed by the sun, and all life ought to be weighed and estimated and settled by the sun"s Sun.

There is a false balance in the weighing of character. We are unjust to one another. We pinch one of the scales, we touch the balance subtly with our finger, and give advantage to one side; we add a little to the weight, it may be but a grain of sand, but yet a grain of sand is not without its value and influence. Even an atom has a shadow. We may have damped the weight; that water tells in the weighing: we may take up the weight and say, This is the right weight; so it is if it were dry. We do not give credit to one another in a spirit of justice, we see little points, we conceive small prejudices, we do not like the incident that may be changed in a moment, we do not deal with essentials, substantiate, continuing and abiding quantities, and thus we have measured even our friends with a false balance.

We may apply a false balance to the providences which make up our life. What skill some people have in dealing only in dark things, black aspects, wintry phases, deprivations, bereavements, losses! They are eloquent when they tell you what they have parted with. Who can be equally eloquent in numbering mercies? Who ever mentions the great mercies? Who ever gets beyond the outside of things, the mere rim, the palpable environment? Who gets into the soul, and who says, I have reason, how can I be poor? I have health, how can I fail? I have home, how can I be desolate? In balancing life take in all these reasons and thoughts and considerations, and so doing you will see that all the while God has been making you rich, or giving you the possibility and opportunity of acquiring and enjoying the true wealth. Who is there that keeps a right balance when he has to weigh the present and the future? The unsteady hand can never get an equipoise; the palsied fingers cannot hold the scales. You must have health in weighing. No drunken man can weigh out to you justly what you have asked him to give you; no man of biassed mind, prejudiced soul in any way, can give you right judgment in anything on earth. The present is here, the future is yonder, and when did "here" fail to carry the war against "yonder"? We have even formed little foolish proverbs about this, we have gone so far as to tell the lie that "a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush." Whoever says that is guilty of a palpable sophism. He seems to be speaking truth, he forgets that everything depends on the bird that is in the bush, and all the possibilities and contingencies and promises which relate to the possibility and certainty of its capture if the right way be pursued. We are the victims of the present. It would seem impossible for some men to do justice to spirituality. Spiritual teaching goes for nothing. There are people in certain rural districts who never have paid the schoolmaster, and they say they never will—the schoolmaster indeed! They pay the farrier, they pay the toll-keeper, but the schoolmaster—a man who deals in ideas, thoughts, culture, a man who addresses himself to the soul, how could they ever think of recognising his work? If you deal in clothing for the head you will get your money; there is a county court to support you—but if you give a man ideas, if you pray him into heaven, if you lift up his soul into a new selfhood, the county court would smile at you if you made application for assistance in any direction that you might think honest and equitable. And the very best of men play at that game. They cannot help it Pay a poet!

All this leads up to the fact that there are men who are prizing the present in the highest relations in preference to the future. They set time against eternity, earth against heaven, the body against the soul. Have we not aforetime pictured the possibility of a man overfeeding his body and starving his spirit? "Beloved, I wish above all things thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth." What an irony is this—a body fed four times a day, a soul never fed at all! no book ever opened, no high authority ever consulted, no poetry ever learned, no study set apart for the culture and training and nurture of the mind. There are men who boast they never open a volume. So let it be. He that soweth to the flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption. He shall have his inheritance, he shall lie down with the worms and be forgotten. How are we weighing things? There are two forces that now seek to rule our lives—the force that tends downwards, the force that tends upwards. How long halt you between two opinions? The devil wants us, and Christ calls for us; the enemy of souls would ruin us by telling us comforting lies; the Saviour of souls would save us by bringing us to his sacred cross.

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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Parker, Joseph. "Commentary on Proverbs 20:23". The People's Bible by Joseph Parker. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jpb/proverbs-20.html. 1885-95.

Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible

Суть этого стиха та же, что и ст.10.

1. Он повторяется, так как Бог вдвойне ненавидит этот грех (как и ложь, которая имеет ту же природу и дважды упомянута среди семи вещей, ненавидимых Богом, Прит.6:17,19). Возможно, в то время этот грех часто встречался в Израиле, и поэтому люди сквозь пальцы смотрели не него (словно он не приносил вреда) под видом того, что он повсеместно совершался и торговля была немыслима без него.

2. Здесь добавлено: «Неверные весы – не добро». Эти слова подразумевают, что неверные весы не только мерзость пред Господом, но и невыгодны самому грешнику. В действительности ничего хорошего с их помощью нельзя приобрести, так как выгода, полученная с помощью мошенничества, в конце обернется потерей.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Henry, Matthew. "Concise Commentary on Proverbs 20:23". "Matthew Henry Concise Commentary
>
>on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhn/proverbs-20.html. 1706.

Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible

A bargain made by fraud will prove a losing bargain in the end.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Henry, Matthew. "Concise Commentary on Proverbs 20:23". "Matthew Henry Concise Commentary
>
>on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhn/proverbs-20.html. 1706.