Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Proverbs 20:26

A wise king winnows the wicked, And drives the threshing wheel over them.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Rulers;   Wheel;   The Topic Concordance - Government;  
Dictionaries:
Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Pardon;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Proverbs, Book of;   Wheel;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Agriculture;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Punishments;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Wheel;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Bringeth the wheel over them - He threshes them in his anger, as the wheel does the grain on the threshing-floor. Every one knows that grain was separated from its husks, in Palestine, by the feet of the oxen trampling among the sheaves, or bringing a rough-shod wheel over them. Asiatic kings often threshed their people, to bring out their property; but this is not what is intended here.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Proverbs 20:26". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/proverbs-20.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

The wheel - The threshing wheel Isaiah 28:27-28, which passes over the grain and separates the grain from the chaff. The proverb involves therefore the idea of the division of the good from the evil, no less than that of the punishment of the latter.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Proverbs 20:26". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/proverbs-20.html. 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

Proverbs 20:26

A wise king scattereth the wicked, and bringeth the wheel over them

Persecution and righteous penalty

A passage of this kind may easily be perverted by being used for the purpose of supporting a doctrine of persecution.
To bring the wheel over a man seems to be a figurative expression for the very direst cruelty. If a man is wicked, crush him with the wheel, tear him limb from limb, decapitate him, in some way show that there is a power that can terminate not only his enjoyment and his liberty, but his life. That, however is not the meaning of the text. Always distinguish between persecution and righteous penalty, between mere oppression and the assertion of that righteousness which is essential to the consolidation of society. When the stacks of corn were spread upon the threshing-floor, the grain was separated from the husk by a sort of sledge or cart which was driven over them. The process was for the purpose of separating the chaff from the
wheat; the process therefore was purely beneficent: so with the wise king; he winnows out evil persons, he signalises them, he gives them all the definiteness of a separate position, and by bringing them into startling contrast with persons of sound and honest heart he seeks to put an end to their mischievous power. Indiscrimination is the ruin of goodness. Men are separated by different ways, not by imprisonment, not by merely personal penalty, not by stigma and brand of an offensive character; they are separated by contrariety of taste, aspiration, feeling, sympathy; in proportion as the good are earnest do they classify themselves, bringing themselves in sacred association with one another, and by sensitiveness of moral touch they feel the evil and avoid it; they know the evil person at a distance and are careful to put themselves out of his way and reach. What is represented as being done by the wise king is done by the cultivation of high principle and Christian honour. (J. Parker, D. D.)

Verse 27 The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord.

The nature and function of conscience

The spirit of man is the breath of the Creator. The breath kindled intelligence in the brain, and infused vitality into the heart. It did more than that. It made man a moral being, capable of virtue, and responsible for his actions. The vitalizing breath of the Lord kindled a light in man--here called “the candle of the Lord.” By that candle man sees his own inner nature, witnesses the process of his own mind, and observes the motions of his affections and will. Conscience has a place of pre-eminent importance in our nature.

1. Scientific men give one definition of conscience, while popular usage sanctions another materially different. In every-day usage the word is used to indicate the whole moral nature of man. When a man resists temptation he says, “My conscience will not let me do it.” Conscience includes three things: the perception of right or wrong; the judgment of a particular action as being right or wrong; the feeling of pleasure or remorse which follows right or wrong action. The Bible usage of the word is the same as our ordinary usage in every-day speech. In Scripture usage, conscience includes the perception, the judgment, and the feeling. Conscience is not an Old Testament term. And, singularly enough, the word was never used in the teaching of the Lord Jesus.

2. Paul’s most frequent word for the function of conscience is the figurative word “witness.” Conscience is a witness testifying in the soul. A witness is one who testifies, one who tells clearly what he knows of a matter. To what facts or truths does conscience bear testimony. It testifies to the existence of a fundamental distinction between right and wrong. It testifies that right ought to be done, and that wrong ought not to be done. It convicts a man when wrong has been done. Its witness becomes a check on man’s doings. (Jesse T. Whitley.)

The spiritual part of man

The text is an account of the soul, or spiritual part in man. The spirit of man is the lamp of Jehovah, i.e., its operations and manner of performing them are similar to those of a lamp, and it is supported in them by Jehovah spiritually, as a lamp is in nature physically. In a lamp are four things.

1. A vessel.

2. A substance capable of being illuminated.

3. Necessity for kindling it.

4. Constant recruits of oil to supply it and keep it burning. These particulars are as spiritually true in the soul of man.

I. The soul has a vessel in which it is enclosed and contained. The body is the vessel of this lamp of Jehovah.

II. The soul, though capable of receiving illumination from God, is in itself absolutely dark. When, by that grand and original sin at the fall, the light that was in us became darkness, how great was that darkness! By the fall this most glorious excellency and perfection of our nature, spiritual discernment by faith, was lost, and we became like the beasts.

III. Christ was sent to kindle a light in the soul. “A light to lighten the Gentiles.” “The true light that lighteth (the lamp of) every one coming into the world.” When the light of Jehovah is lighted in the soul of man, and not overwhelmed by sensuality, it conquers and triumphs over the natural darkness that is in us. When the Divine light is the agent in the soul, the moment it meets with any darkness to impede and obstruct its operations it at once recoils, and by that means admonishes us of it; after which it never rests till it has either expelled it or conformed it to itself.

IV. Spiritual oil is necessary to keep the light alive in our hearts. The Holy Spirit is the Divine oil that must feed and nourish our lamps. Inferences for our direction in faith and practice:

1. If the body is a vessel to contain the heavenly lamp, how few are seeking to “possess this vessel in sanctification and honour.”

2. If the soul be dark by nature, what becomes of that idol of the deists, the “light of nature”?

3. If Christ be the only person that can lighten our darkness, to Him let every man go.

4. Let us not make the fatal mistake of setting out to meet the Bridegroom, without taking oil in our vessels, with our lamps. (Bp. Horne.)

The nerve of religious sensation

Able to shine; constructed to shine; but not alight until it has been lighted--the candle of the Lord. Man’s spirit is part of us, and able to produce flame when it has been touched with flame. It is a special capacity we have for feeling, appreciating, and responding to Divine things. Sound affects the ear; light the eye; the spirit is the nerve of religious sensation. Man is a bundle of adaptations. The religious sense is the faculty which all men have, in varying degree, of appreciating religious and Divine things. We could not be holy without the instinct, but the instinct does not insure our being holy. There is in this no difference between the religious instinct and other of our instincts. The religious sense forms part of each man’s original outfit. It gives the teacher and preacher something with which to start. The facility with which children can be approached in religious matters shows that religion is a matter of instinct before it is a matter of education. This inborn religious sense is an easy argument for the existence of God. The possession of this religious instinct puts us upon the track of a very simple and practical duty. Whether we become holy or not will depend mostly upon how we treat that instinct, and upon whether we repress and smother it, or give it free chance of unfolding. It rests with us to take some sturdy measures to bring out this religious consciousness into greater force and fuller glow. (C. H. Parkhurst, D. D.)

The spirit of man

When God had completed the house of the soul, He furnished it most liberally with glorious lights. The intellect is one of the bright lights placed in the soul’s house to cheer and guide men in this life. The light of the human mind is invaluable. Man is scarcely a man without its illuminating flame. Then there is the guiding light of conscience. And there is the spiritual light which characterises all mankind, that leads humanity everywhere to worship God.

I. Man is a great being. It is said alone of man, “In the image of God created He him.” This singles out man as the greatest being on earth. Every earnest, intelligent, and devout man is in some degree conscious of an inherent greatness. Conscious personality is a unique power. In the moral realm every man is a sovereign who conceives plans and executes purposes of high significance and far-reaching consequences. Man’s conscious personality survives the shock of death. Man is the son of God. The sons of God are partakers of the Divine nature. This raises them to a plane that is at an infinite distance from the creatures next to them in the scale of existence. Really true greatness consists in likeness to God. A good man is one of the greatest works of God.

II. Man is Divinely illuminated.

1. The intellectual light of man is from God.

2. The light of conscience is from God. It is a pure, clear flame, that reveals to us the character of our thoughts and purposes before they become actions.

3. The spiritual light in man is from God. Savage and civilised, the world over, worship some god. The lamp that lights all men who come into the world, and leads them to worship, is doubtless of God’s kindling. In worship, the soul pays its filial homage to God.

III. Man has been illuminated for a Divine purpose. God created all things for His own glory. Men of great intellectual powers are placed by God in the midst of the world’s moral darkness, that by their superior light they might scatter the mental night of their fellows. Great intellects possess a tremendous power for good or evil. “Man is like the candle lighted by the Spirit of God, radiating the glory of God’s nature, and itself glorified by the Divine fire. But some men are unlighted candles.” (D. Rhys Jenkins.)

The light of conscience

Victor Hugo says: “In every human heart there is a light kindled and, close by, a strong wind which seeks to extinguish it; this light is conscience, this wind is superstition. Conscience is the child of God; superstition, the child of the devil. Conscience loves and rejoices in the light; superstition hates the light of mind and spirit, because its deeds are evil.”

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Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Proverbs 20:26". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/proverbs-20.html. 1905-1909. New York.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

"A wise king winnoweth the wicked, And bringeth the threshing-wheel over them."

Commentators usually try to soften the words here, suggesting that, "The words may be figurative."[27] James Moffatt accepted that theory in his rendition: "A wise king scatters wicked men; he drives hard over them."[28] However, the mention of threshing instruments here brings to mind Amos 1:3, where it is said that God brought judgment upon Damascus, "Because they threshed Gilead with threshing-instruments of iron." Toy also agreed that, "There is here the implication of destructive or serious punishment."[29] Atrocities of this kind were common in ancient warfare; and even King David was guilty of such destruction (2 Samuel 12:31).

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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 20:26". "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

A wise king scattereth the wicked,.... Or "fans them away"F9מזרה "ventilat", Junius & Tremellius, Schultens. ; separates them from his good counsellors, courtiers, and subjects; scatters them from his presence and court, and breaks their counsels and confederacies one with another; he discovers, discountenances, and discourages them; See Gill on Proverbs 20:8;

and bringeth the wheel over them; alluding to the custom of the eastern nations turning a cart wheel over the grain in threshing it out, and agreeably to the metaphor in the preceding clause; see Isaiah 28:27. Though some think it refers to a sort of punishment inflicted on malefactors in those times and countries, by putting them under harrows drawn on wheels, as breaking upon the wheel has been since used; see 2 Samuel 12:31. The Arabic version understands it of exile. Jarchi interprets the wise king of the Lord, and the wicked of Pharaoh and his host, on whom he brought the wheel, or gave measure for measure, and punished in a way of retaliation; and to this sense it is by someF11Vid. Schindler. Lexic. col. 109. & Weemse's Christ. Synagog. l. 1. c. 6. s. 8. p. 187. interpreted,

"as the wheel turns over, just in the same place, so as the wicked hath done, it shall be done to them.'

It may be applied to Christ, the wise King, who scatters all his and our enemies; whose fan is in his hand, and he wilt thoroughly purge his floor, Matthew 3:12.

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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 20:26". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/proverbs-20.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

A wise king scattereth the wicked, and bringeth the h wheel over them.

(h) Which was a kind of punishment then used.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Proverbs 20:26". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/proverbs-20.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

(Compare Proverbs 20:8).

bringeth  …  over them — The wheel was used for threshing grain. The figure denotes severity (compare Amos 1:3).

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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 20:26". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/proverbs-20.html. 1871-8.

Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary

26 A wise king winnoweth the godless,

And bringeth over them the wheel.

A variant to Proverbs 20:8, but here with the following out of the figure of the winnowing. For אופן with מזרה is, without doubt, the wheel of the threshing-cart, עגלה, Isaiah 28:27.; and thus with מזרה, the winnowing fork, מזרה is to be thought of; vid ., a description of them along with that of the winnowing shovel, רחת, in Wetzstein's Excursus to Isa., p. 707ff. We are not to think of the punishment of the wheel, which occurs only as a terrible custom of war ( e.g., Amos 1:3). It is only meant that a wise king, by sharp and vigorous procedure, separates the godless, and immediately visits them with merited punishment, as he who works with the winnowing shovel gives the chaff to the wind. Most ancient interpreters think on אופן (from אפן, vertere ) in its metaphorical meaning: τρόπος (thus also Löwenstein, he deals with them according to merit), or the wheel of fortune, with reference to the constellations; thus, misfortune (Immanuel, Meîri). Arama, Oetinger, and others are, however, on the right track.

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Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Proverbs 20:26". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/kdo/proverbs-20.html. 1854-1889.

Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

See here, 1. What is the business of magistrates. They are to be a terror to evil-doers. They must scatter the wicked, who are linked in confederacies to assist and embolden one another in doing mischief; and there is no doing this but by bringing the wheel over them, that is, putting the laws in execution against them, crushing their power and quashing their projects. Severity must sometimes be used to rid the country of those that are openly vicious and mischievous, debauched and debauching. 2. What is the qualification of magistrates, which is necessary in order to do this. They have need to be both pious and prudent, for it is the wise king, who is both religious and discreet, that is likely to effect the suppression of vice and reformation of manners.

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Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Proverbs 20:26". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhm/proverbs-20.html. 1706.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

A wise king scattereth the wicked, and bringeth the wheel over them.

The wheel — As the cart-wheel was anciently turned over the sheaves to beat the corn out of them. He punishes them as their offences deserve.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 20:26". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/proverbs-20.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Proverbs 20:26 A wise king scattereth the wicked, and bringeth the wheel over them.

Ver. 26. A wise king scattereth the wicked.] Drains the country of them by his just severity, yet with due discretion, as appears by the latter words, "and bringeth the wheel over them," compared with Isaiah 28:27-28. The Turks’ justice will rather cut off two innocent men, than let one offender escape. (a) The Venetians punish with death whosoever shall misappropiated a penny of the public money to his own private profit. (b) Durescite, durescite, o infaelix Lantgravic, said the poor smith to the Landgrave of Thuring, that was more mild than was for his people’s good. The sword of justice must, I confess, be furbished with the oil of mercy; but yet there are cases wherein severity ought to cast the scale.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 20:26". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/proverbs-20.html. 1865-1868.

The Popular Commentary by Paul E. Kretzmann

v. 26. A wise king scattereth the wicked, sifting and winnowing them, as the chaff is separated from the grain, and bringeth the wheel over them, as the wheel of the threshing-cart separated the wheat-kernels from the hulls when it was passed over the stalks spread out on the threshing-floor.

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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Proverbs 20:26". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/kpc/proverbs-20.html. 1921-23.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Proverbs 20:26. A wise king scattereth the wicked The plain meaning seems to be, that a good king separates the bad from the good by a due execution of his laws; which is like the winnowing the corn after the chaff is separated from it, by drawing the wheel over it. See Isaiah 28:27-28 and Fuller's Miscellanies, book 6: chap. 12.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Proverbs 20:26". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/proverbs-20.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

A wise king, who seriously minds his duty and his true interest,

scattereth the wicked; breaks their companies and confederacies, and forceth them to flee several ways for their own safety; driveth them from his presence, and from the society of honest men, as the chaff is by the husbandman separated from the corn, and driven away by the wind, of which this Hebrew word is commonly used, and to which the next clause hath some reference.

Bringeth the wheel over them, as the cart-wheel was anciently turned over the sheaves to beat the corn out of them, Isaiah 28:27,28. He punisheth them severely, as their offences deserve. This or such-like punishments were not unusual among the Eastern nations, as we may gather from 2 Samuel 8:2 12:31 Amos 1:3.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Proverbs 20:26". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/proverbs-20.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

26.A wise king scattereth the wicked, etc. — Conjectures are numerous as to the import of this verse. Some think it may refer to the scattering (sowing) of grain in the field, and afterwards rolling it in. So transgressors are scattered and crushed beneath the earth. Others think that it refers to the threshing of grain, which was sometimes done by cattle drawing a cart or other wheeled vehicle after them, thus crushing the stalks and separating the grain from the husks. So Patrick: “He despises them all, and threshes them so severely that the country is clean purged and pure from such wicked wretches.” As there is no record anywhere in the Bible of punishment by the wheel, it is probable that this passage is to be understood metaphorically of “the wheel” in threshing grain. Threshing and winnowing are elsewhere used as the symbols of punishment. Comp. Amos 1:3; Isaiah 17:13; Isaiah 28:29; Psalms 1:4.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Proverbs 20:26". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/proverbs-20.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Proverbs 20:26. A wise king — Who seriously minds his duty, and his true interest; scattereth the wicked — Breaks their companies and confederacies, and forces them to flee several ways for their own safety; or drives them from his presence, and from the society of good men, as the chaff is separated from the corn, by the husbandmen, and driven away by the wind; as the word מזרה, here used, commonly signifies; and to which the next clause hath some reference. And bringeth the wheel over them — Punishes them as their offences deserve, alluding to the cart-wheel, which was anciently turned over the sheaves, to beat the corn out of them. In other words, expressive of the plain meaning, “A good king separates the bad from the good, by a due execution of his laws; which is like winnowing the corn, after the chaff is separated from it, by drawing the wheel over it.”

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Proverbs 20:26". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/proverbs-20.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Wheel. Or triumphal arch, fornicem. (Ven. Bede; Jansenius) --- He will make his enemies lie prostrate under his chariot-wheels, 2 Kings xii. 31.

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Proverbs 20:26". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/proverbs-20.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

scattereth = winnoweth out.

wicked = lawless. Hebrew. rasha".

the wheel: i.e. of the threshing instrument. Compare Isaiah 28:27.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Proverbs 20:26". "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

A wise king scattereth the wicked, and bringeth the wheel over them.

A wise king scattereth the wicked - like chaff before the wind (Proverbs 20:8).

And bringeth the wheel over them - the wheel of the threshing instrument, that he may disperse them as stubble and chaff (Psalms 83:13; Isaiah 28:27; Isaiah 25:10; Isaiah 41:15; 2 Kings 13:7; Amos 1:3). "Tribulation" is derived from Tracey, a threshing instrument.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Proverbs 20:26". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/proverbs-20.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(26) A wise king scattereth the wicked.—Rather, winnows them.

And bringeth the wheel over them.—Comp. Isaiah 28:27. A sort of sledge or cart was driven over the stalks of corn spread upon the threshing-floor, by means of which the grain was separated from the husk. A wise king winnows out evil persons from among his people, thus putting an end to their corrupting influence. (Comp. Matthew 3:12.)

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Proverbs 20:26". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/proverbs-20.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

A wise king scattereth the wicked, and bringeth the wheel over them.
wise
8; 2 Samuel 4:9-12; Psalms 101:5-8
bringeth
2 Samuel 12:31; Isaiah 28:27,28
Reciprocal: 1 Kings 2:6 - according;  1 Kings 2:36 - Shimei;  Nehemiah 13:28 - I chased;  Psalm 72:4 - break;  Psalm 101:8 - early;  Proverbs 14:35 - king's;  Romans 13:4 - be

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Proverbs 20:26". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/proverbs-20.html.

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary

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.

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Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Proverbs 20:26". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/phc/proverbs-20.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.

Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible

Здесь обратите внимание:

(1) чем должны заниматься гражданские власти. Они должны нагонять ужас на злодеев, рассеивать нечестивых, которые объединяются, чтобы противостоять, и ободряют друг друга в совершении зла. Это можно сделать, лишь обратив на них колесо, то есть привести в исполнение направленные против них законы, свергнуть их власть и разрушить их планы. Иногда необходимо применять суровые методы, чтобы освободить страну от тех, кто открыто заявляет о своих порочных и злобных планах, кто сам совратился и совращает других.

(2) Какими необходимыми качествами должны обладать судьи, чтобы совершать это. Они должны быть набожными и благочестивыми, ибо лишь того царя можно назвать мудрым, который религиозен и благоразумен, который хочет подавить зло и изменить манеры.

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 20:26". "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

Justice should crush the wicked, and separate them from the virtuous.

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 20:26". "Matthew Henry Concise Commentary
>
>on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhn/proverbs-20.html. 1706.