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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Proverbs 25:28

Like a city that is broken into and without walls Is a man who has no control over his spirit.

The Biblical Illustrator

Proverbs 25:28

He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, and without walls.

Self-government essential to wisdom

Here is shown the ruinous condition of the person who has no rule over his own spirit. What can concern a man more than the art of self-government? It is inexcusable for a man to be a stranger to himself, and not to know how to make the best of his own natural powers and affections.

I. What is it to have rule over our own spirits We ought to consider the entire constitution of our minds. There is something in the spirit which has a right to dominion, as being in its nature superior; there are other parts which hold an inferior place, and ought to be in subjection. There is conscience, a sense of duty and sin, and of moral good and evil; a necessary self approbation arising from the one, and reproach and condemnation from the other. And there are propensities in our minds arising on particular occasions of life. These have been conquered, and may be.

II. Where is the proper authority lodged? Some things are necessary effects of laws of nature, and in relation to them man has no rule. A man can inquire and deliberate. The active powers may be suspended while we deliberate. To have rule over our own spirits is to keep the passions under an exact discipline. And there are natural desires in men of very unequal moment which often rise to passions. The true end of self-government is that the superior powers of the mind may be preserved in their due exercise. (J. Abernethy, M.A.)

The diversity of men’s natural tempers

The spirit sometimes means a temper, disposition, or turn of mind, in general: thus we read of “an haughty spirit” and of “an humble spirit.” This is, perhaps, the meaning of the expression in my text: by him that hath no rule over his own spirit may be meant the person who hath no government of his passions. But the expression may, without any impropriety, be taken for a man’s particular temper or predominant turn of mind. God delights in variety throughout all His works. The same God is the Father of our spirits; and He has formed them also with considerable variety. All matter has the same essential properties; yet the forms into which God has moulded it, and the purposes to which He has applied the several parts of it, are infinitely different. In like manner the souls of all men are indued with the same faculties; but from the degrees in which they possess these faculties, and from the proportions in which they are combined, there results an endless diversity of characters in the human species. When the malevolent passions have a tendency to predominate in the soul, they occasion all those diversities of temper to which we apply the epithets sour, sullen, morose, severe, captious, peevish, passionate, ill-humoured, and the like. On the contrary, the prevalence of the benevolent affections of the heart produces a great variety of tempers, some of which we term the sweet, the gentle, the mild, the soft, the courteous, the tender, the sympathising, the affectionate, the generous. We may observe further that very great diversities of temper may proceed from the same passion, only by its being predominant in different manners. The passionate temper and the peevish are extremely different; yet they both proceed from the predominance of the very same principle--sudden anger. Deliberate anger produces in those who have a propensity to it many distinctions of temper unlike to both these. It may be remarked likewise that some tempers proceed from the weakness of a particular disposition more properly than from a predominance of the contrary. Courage, so far as it is constitutional, proceeds merely from the absence of fear. Impudence is not the prevalence of any positive affection, but only the want of shame. A want or a relative weakness in any one of the numerous parts of a clock affects the soundness of the whole machine. The several passions and affections are, in different men, combined in an infinite variety of ways, and every particular combination of them produces a distinct temper. Perhaps every temper, when it is analysed, will be found not to arise from the prevalence of a single affection, but to derive its form in some degree from the union of several. Thus in a compounded colour different ingredients are mixed, and may be observed on attention, though one be so much predominant as to give it its common denomination. But it is not only by the prevalence of some of them in comparison with the rest that the passions produce diversities of temper among mankind: the general tone also of all the passions occasions a suitable peculiarity. A musical instrument acquires different tones by having all its strings wound up to different keys. The passions of different persons are as it were wound up to a variety of keys, and thence their souls derive distinct tones of temper. Though the passions be the most immediate causes of the varieties of temper, and though on that account they required our principal notice in explaining these varieties, yet it must be observed that some peculiarities of temper are occasioned almost wholly by the form of the intellectual powers. When the understanding is clear and decisive it lays the foundation of a firm and determined temper; an inability to form a clear opinion produces fickleness and inconsistency. The same temper may, in different men, proceed from different causes. The source of fickleness and inconstancy is sometimes weakness of judgment; sometimes timidity; and sometimes the keenness of all the passions, hurrying a man continually into new pursuits according as they happen to be excited in their turns. A temper of rashness may proceed from an improvident judgment, from the absence of fear and caution, or from the violence of any passion. As similar tempers may proceed from dissimilar causes, so even opposite tempers may proceed from the same cause. The sceptical temper and the credulous may ultimately be resolved into the same imbecility of understanding, an inability of clearly discerning the real force of evidence. This inability likewise gives rise to an obstinate temper in some, to a wavering temper in others: one is immovable in all his designs, because he is incapable of discerning the strength of those reasons which should persuade him to alter them; another is fickle in them all, because he cannot see the weakness of the reasons which are produced against them. Such are the general causes of the diversity of tempers among mankind. As no two plants are exactly alike, as no two human faces are absolutely undistinguishable, so no two tempers are perfectly the same. Every man has “his own spirit,” his peculiar temper, by which he differs from every other man.

1. Each of us should study to know his own particular temper. The knowledge of our natural temper is one important part of the knowledge of ourselves.

2. A proper sense of the endless variety of tempers in the human species would lead us to make greater allowance for the sentiments and conduct of others than we often do.

3. The amazing diversity of tempers in the human species is a striking instance of the contrivance and wisdom of the God who made us. Variety, combined with uniformity, may be considered as the very characteristic of design; a perfect combination of them is an indication of perfect wisdom. (Alex. Gerard, D.D.)

The necessity of governing the natural temper

Is it, then, needful to evince the necessity of a man governing his own temper? Every man acknowledges that all others ought to govern their tempers, and complains of them when they do not. That we may perceive how much it is the duty of every one of us to govern his own temper, let us attend to the ill effects of neglecting to govern it. They are pointed out by an expressive figure in the text: “He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down and without walls”; he has no security against abandoning himself to every vice. Need I point out minutely the vices to which the indulgence of a contracted and selfish temper naturally leads? The selfish affections are various; they turn to different objects; but it requires the strictest government to prevent a temper founded on the prevalence of any of them from degenerating into the correspondent vice, ambition, or vanity, or avarice, or sensuality, and the love of pleasure. It is still less necessary to enter into a long detail of the detestable vices which spring from a temper founded in a propensity to any of the malevolent passions. They lead to vices which spread misery through society, and which overwhelm the person himself with greater misery than he brings upon those around him. Habitual peevishness, producing fretfulness on every, the slightest, occasion, putting one out of humour with every person and every thing, creating incessant uneasiness to those who are connected with him, eating out the enjoyment of life, is the natural effect of a temper founded on a propensity to anger, though accompanied with the weakest tone of passion. In whatever way our temper most disposes the several passions and affections to exert themselves, it will, without regulation, prove the source of peculiar vices. When the propensity to desire renders the temper keen and eager, if we lay it under no restraint, it must engage us in trifling and vicious pursuits; in respect of the object of our pursuit, whether pleasure, profit, or power, it must render us craving and insatiable, ever unsatisfied with what we have obtained, wishing and plotting for more; and in respect of the means of prosecution, it must render us impetuous and violent, regardless of the bounds of right, impatient of every delay and opposition. Is the opposite propensity to aversion indulged? Everything wears a gloomy aspect, and is viewed on its darkest side: we act as if we were resolved never to be pleased; we search for occasions of disgust, regret, and uneasiness, and we find them in every object; every gentle affection is banished from the breast; discontent, fretfulness, and ill-humour become habitual. The same temper, it may be further observed, will lead a man, with equal readiness, into opposite vices in opposite situations. The same littleness of mind renders a man insolent in prosperity and abject in adversity. That vice, be it what it will, to which our particular temper directly leads us, is an enemy already advanced to the gates of the heart; and if it finds the heart “like a city without walls,” it enters at its pleasure; we can make no resistance. But this is very far from being the whole effect of our neglecting to govern our natural temper: the man who ruleth not his spirit does not merely become enslaved to one vice; in consequence of this he is open to every vice. Every ruling sin will require from the man who lives in the indulgence of it the commission of many others for its support, for its gratification, or for disguising and concealing it. But it deserves to be particularly remarked that as soon as the misgovernment of natural temper has subjected a man to one ruling vice, he is no longer proof against even such vices as are in themselves most opposite to that very temper. Every one’s observation will supply him with instances of persons who, being engaged in one vicious course, have by it been led into sins most contrary to their nature; with instances of the soft and gentle being brought to act with cruelty; of the benevolent and kind-hearted labouring to bring ruin upon those who happened to stand in the way of some unlawful project; of the generous, in the prosecution of some bad design, stooping to the most sordid actions; of the candid and open betrayed into schemes of artifice, dissimulation, and falsehood; of the timid rushing forward into the most dangerous crimes. Thus the man who abandons himself to that one vice which arises from the corruption of his natural temper is from that moment in danger of every sin. Every predominant vice requires as great a number of other vices to be subservient to it in the course of a wicked life as the ministers whom any tyrant can stand in need of to be the instruments of his cruelty, rapacity, and lusts. By being “like a city without walls,” destitute of defence against any sin, he becomes “like a city broken down,” reduced to ruins, desolated, uninhabited, and uninhabitable. Can you think without terror of the accumulated guilt of all these vices, and of the punishment to which they must expose you? Possessed and actuated by these emotions, be roused to every exertion for removing the faulty propensity of your nature. While you neglect to govern your natural temper, all your endeavours to avoid or to mortify the vices which spring from it will be but like lopping off a few twigs, which the vigour of the root will enable quickly to grow again, perhaps stronger and more luxuriant than before: it is only by setting yourselves at once to govern it, to rectify all its perversities, that you can lay the axe to the root of the tree, and effectually kill all the branches. (Alex. Gerard, D.D.)

The manner of governing the natural temper

To extirpate one’s natural temper is impossible. It is a distinguishing character, impressed on every soul by the hand of the Almighty, which the power of man can no more erase than it can efface the distinctive characters of the several kinds of plants and animals, and reduce them all to one kind. If it were possible for a man to destroy his peculiar temper, it would not be necessary; it would be even pernicious. Among all the varieties of temper which men possess there is not one inconsistent with virtue, there is not one which duty requires us to endeavour to extirpate. But though it be neither possible nor necessary to extirpate the natural temper, it is both possible and necessary to govern it. We every day meet with persons who, from good breeding, or from prudence, can disguise their temper and keep it from showing itself, not on one occasion, but on many occasions and through a long course of time; could not, then, better principles enable them to correct it? A physiognomist pretended to discover by his art that the great Athenian philosopher Socrates was addicted to vices so opposite to his whole conduct and character, that all who knew him were disposed to ridicule the pretensions of the physiognomist as absurd; but, to their astonishment, Socrates declared that he was, by his constitutional bias, prone to all the vices which had been imputed to him, and that it was only by philosophy that he had got the better of them. Would it not be shameful if many Christians could not make a similar declaration?

1. The first object of a man’s care, in ruling his own spirit, is to refrain his natural bias, so that it may not become vicious, or lead him into sin. Every passion and affection is weak and pliable in the moment of its birth. Had we always recollection enough to observe, and resolution enough to check its first tendency to irregularity, our victory over it would be easy. But if we let slip this favourable moment, it will soon be able to carry us wherever it pleases. If, therefore, we would refrain our predominant passion, we must be at the greatest pains to avoid the objects, the opinions, the imaginations, which are favourable to its growth. In order to restrain our ruling passion it will often be necessary studiously to turn our attention to such objects, and to accustom ourselves to such actions as are most contradictory to it. When a twig has long been bent one way it cannot be made straight without being for some time bent the contrary way. The vices to which the natural temper gives us a propensity are those which we shall find the greatest difficulty in conquering, and which, after many defeats, will most frequently revolt. The last vices which a good man is able to subdue are his constitutional vices.

2. It implies that every man render his temper subservient to the practice of virtue and holiness. As every natural temper, even the most amiable, may degenerate into vice, so, on the contrary, every temper, even that which becomes most disagreeable by the smallest corruption of it, may be made to contribute to the virtue of the heart. Some turns of temper are naturally and strongly allied to virtue. All the tempers which are founded in a predominance of the kind affections are directly favourable to the love of mankind, to all the important virtues of benevolence and charity, and render the practice of every social duty easy and pleasant; or that they introduce a habit of soul congruous to the love of God, as well as to that inward serenity which characterises every grace, and renders it doubly amiable. Other turns of temper are, as it were, neutral between virtue and vice: in perceiving how these may be rendered serviceable to virtue there is little difficulty. The keen and eager temper in which desire is the chief ingredient, when directed to holiness as its object, will render a man spirited in the practice of it, and susceptible of a strong impulse from its joys and rewards. The contrary temper in which aversion prevails, tends to cherish a deep abhorrence of sin, which is one of the strongest securities against the indulgence of it. Both these tempers may become equally conducive to holiness by prompting us, the one to avoid evil, the other to do good. A high tone of passion, a sensibility, ardour, or activity of spirit, prepares the soul for entering into the raptures of devotion, for feeling the fervours of godly zeal, for showing eminent alacrity in every duty. A temper opposite to this may be improved into a settled composure and calm equability in the love and practice of holiness. It is more needful to observe, because it is not so obvious, that even those turns of temper which are most nearly allied to vice, and which are with the greatest difficulty kept from running into it, may notwithstanding be rendered subservient to virtue. Pride, for instance, may be improved into true dignity of character, into a noble and habitual disdain of every thought and action that is mean or base. An ambitious temper needs only to be fixed upon its properest objects in order to animate us in the indefatigable pursuits of that genuine honour which results from the approbation of God and from the glories of heaven, and which will be bestowed only on the righteous, and in proportion to their righteousness. A temper which, by being neglected, would become blameably selfish and contracted, will, by being governed, become eminently conducive to prudence, and an incitement to diligence in that course of holiness which is our real wisdom and our best interest. Even that temper in which the malevolent affections tend to preponderate, the sour, the morose, the irascible, may be rendered subservient to our virtue and improvement: if it be curbed so strongly as not to lead us to hurt others, or to wish for their hurt, it will exert itself in a keen indignation against vice, a rigorous purity of heart, a blameless severity of manners; and it will make us inaccessible to many temptations which have great power over soft and gentle and social minds.

3. We ought not only to render our peculiar temper subservient to virtue, but also to incorporate it with all our virtues. All the good men whose lives the Scripture has recorded display different forms of holiness derived from their dissimilar tempers. Job is characterised by patience; Moses by meekness; David is high-spirited, his devotion is fervent, his virtues are all heroic; John and Paul are both warm, fervent, and affectionate, but the warmth of the former is sweet and gentle, that of the latter bold and enterprising. As every man thus derives from nature a distinct personal character, he ought to adhere to it, and to preserve its peculiar decorum. He can preserve it only by maintaining his own natural temper so far as it is innocent, and acting always in conformity to it. To conclude: If we would rule our own spirit, if we would govern our natural temper, let us restrain it from degenerating into vice, or leading us into sin. The means of governing our peculiar temper are the same with the means of performing every other duty, resolution, congruous exercises, watchfulness and prayer. But all these means we must in this case employ with peculiar care and diligence, because it is a matter of peculiar difficulty to control and regulate our predominant disposition. Its importance is, however, in proportion to its difficulty. If we can effectually accomplish this, it will render it the easier to subdue all our other irregular passions. They act in subordination to it, and derive a great part of their strength from it; and to subdue it is like cutting off the general who was the spirit of the battle, and on whose fall the army breaks and takes to flight. (Alex. Gerard, D.D.)

Self-government

No man can be said to have attained complete rule over his own spirit who has not under his habitual control the tenor of his thoughts, the language of his lips, and motions of lust and appetite, and the energy of his passion. This shows you at once the extent, and the division of our subject.

I. The government of the thoughts. After all that has been written on the subject of self-command, the regulation of the thoughts has seldom drawn the attention of moralists. On the authority of silly maxims like these, that thought is free as air, that no one can help what he thinks, innumerable hours are wasted in idle reveries without the suspicion of blame. The time which we fondly supposed to be merely wasted in doing nothing may have been easily employed in mischievous imaginations, and thus what was considered as lost simply is found to be abused. When we reflect also that every licentious principle, every criminal project, and every atrocious deed is the fruit of a distempered fancy, whose rovings were originally unchecked till thoughts grew into desires, desires ripened into resolves, and resolves terminated in execution, well may we tremble at discovering how feeble is the control over our imaginations which we have hitherto acquired. We do not say that Caesar, brooding over his schemes of ambition in his tent, was as guilty as Caesar passing the Rubicon and turning his arms against his country; but we do say that licentiousness of thought ever precedes licentiousness of conduct; and that many a crime which stains human nature was generated in the retirement of the closet, in the hours of idle and listless thought, perhaps over the pages of a poisonous book, or during the contemplation of a licentious picture.

II. The government of the tongue. “If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man.” This will not appear an extravagant assertion when we consider how numerous are the vices in which this little member takes an active part. If we consider these vices of the tongue in the order of their enormity, we shall see how easily one generates another. Talkativeness, the venial offspring of a lively, not to say an unrestrained, fancy, hardly rises to a fault till it is found that he “who talks incessantly must often talk foolishly, and that the prattle of a vain and itching tongue degenerates rapidly into that foolish talking and jesting which, as an apostle says, are not convenient. If for every idle, unprofitable, false or calumniating word which men shall speak they shall give an account in the day of judgment, what account shall those men render whose conversation first polluted the pure ear of childhood, first soiled the chastity and whiteness of the young imagination, whose habitual oaths first taught the child to pronounce the name of God without reverence, or to imprecate curses on his mates with all the thoughtlessness of youth, but with all the passion and boldness of manhood?

III. The government of the animal appetites. “Dearly beloved, I beseech you, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul.” For how humiliating is the consideration, enough, indeed, to make us weep with shame, that man, the noblest work of God on earth, the lord of this lower world, that this noble creature should suffer himself to fall into the hands of the grovelling mob of appetites, and to be fettered by base lusts which ought to be his slaves--that this ethereal spirit should be wasted in the service of sensuality, and this intelligence, capable of mounting to heaven, be sunk and buried in the slime and pollution of gross and brutal pleasures!

IV. The government of the passions. Not to be in a passion is generally the amount of the notion which the world entertains of self-command. In the broad scheme of gospel ethics, the opposite to anger is meekness; and meekness is no narrow or superficial virtue. The meek man of the gospel is the very reverse of those who act the most bustling and noisy part on the theatre of human life. He finds himself in a world where he will be oftener called to suffer than to act. He is not ambitious, because he sees little here worth ambition. Humility is the gentle and secret stream which runs through his life and waters all his virtues. To the government of the passions the principal prerequisite is the restriction of the desires; therefore, as he expects little from the world he will not often quarrel with it for the treatment he receives. (J. S. Buckminster.)

Self-control

I. What is meant by not having rule over our own spirit?

1. Intemperance of feeling, especially angry feeling.

2. Extravagance of speech.

3. Rashness of conduct.

4. Hence the formation of pernicious habits.

II. The evil of lacking self-control. It destroys the walls of our city, and exposes us--

1. To the inroads of sin; and is itself sin.

2. To insult and dishonour.

3. To the machinations of foes.

4. To utter destitution and ruin.

III. The means of promoting self-control.

1. Habitual efforts of the will.

2. Avoidance of temptation.

3. Prayerful dependence on God’s Spirit.

4. A serious and thoughtful habit of mind.

IV. Reasons and encouragements.

1. Self-control is an essential part of our salvation.

2. The example of God’s forbearance.

3. The example of Christ’s meekness.

4. Its connection with our usefulness.

5. Self-control gives real increase of power.

V. Applications.

1. To the Christians in their family and friendly intercourse.

2. To Christians in Church deliberation and action.

3. To Christians in secular business and general intercourse with the world. In conclusion, distinguish between self-control and apathy; and show its consistency with being zealously affected in a good cause. (The Congregational Pulpit.)
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Proverbs 25:28". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/proverbs-25.html. 1905-1909. New York.

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

"He whose spirit is without restraint Is like a city that is broken down and without walls."

This is a reference to self-control, or discipline. Without it, a person is as certain to be victimized and destroyed as was an ancient city without any defenses. The necessary self-control, without which there can be no such thing as a happy and productive life, is derived from parental discipline when one is a child. This accounts for the stress that the Book of Proverbs lays on that very thing.


Copyright Statement
James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Bibliography
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Proverbs 25:28". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/proverbs-25.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

He that hath no rule over his own spirit,.... His affections and passions, puts no restraint, unto them, as the word signifies; no guard against them, no fence about them, to curb his curiosity, to check his pride and vanity, to restrain his wrath and anger and revenge, and keep within due bounds his ambition and itch of vainglory;

is like a city that broken down and without walls; into which the may go with pleasure, and which is exposed to the rapine and violence of everyone; and so a man that has no command of himself and passions, but gives the reins to them, is exposed to the enemy of souls, Satan and is liable to every sin, snare and temptation.


Copyright Statement
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes 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

Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 25:28". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/proverbs-25.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

He that [hath] no rule over his own spirit [is like] a city [that is] q broken down, [and] without walls.

(q) And so is in extreme danger.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Proverbs 25:28". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/proverbs-25.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Such are exposed to the incursions of evil thoughts and successful temptations.


Copyright Statement
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.

Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Proverbs 25:28". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/proverbs-25.html. 1871-8.

Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament

This verse, counselling restraint as to the spirit, is connected with the foregoing, which counsels to self-control as to enjoyment:

A city broken through, now without walls -

A man without self-control over his spirit.

A “city broken down” is one whose wall is “broken,” 2 Chronicles 32:5, whether it has met with breaches (פּרצים), or is wholly broken; in the former case also the city is incapable of being defended, and it is all one as if it had no wall. Such a city is like a man “who hath no control over his own spirit” (for the accentuation of the Heb. words here, vid., Thorath Emeth, p. 10): cujus spiritui nulla cohibitio (Schultens), i.e., qui animum suum cohibere non potest (Fleischer: עצר, R. צר, to press together, to oppress, and thereby to hold back). As such a city can be plundered and laid waste without trouble, so a man who knows not to hold in check his desires and affections is in constant danger of blindly following the impulse of his unbridled sensuality, and of being hurried forward to outbreaks of passion, and thus of bringing unhappiness upon himself. There are sensual passions (e.g., drunkenness), intellectual (e.g., ambition), mingled (e.g., revenge); but in all of these a false ego rules, which, instead of being held down by the true and better ego, rises to unbounded supremacy.

(Note: Vid., Drbal's Empirische Psychologie, §137.)

Therefore the expression used is not לנפשׁו, but לרוּחו; desire has its seat in the soul, but in the spirit it grows into passion, which in the root of all its diversities is selfishness (Psychol. p. 199); self-control is accordingly the ruling of the spirit, i.e., the restraining (keeping down) of the false enslaved ego-life by the true and free, and powerful in God Himself.


Copyright Statement
The Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament is a derivative of a public domain electronic edition.

Bibliography
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Proverbs 25:28". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/kdo/proverbs-25.html. 1854-1889.

Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

Here is, 1. The good character of a wise and virtuous man implied. He is one that has rule over his own spirit; he maintains the government of himself, and of his own appetites and passions, and does not suffer them to rebel against reason and conscience. He has the rule of his own thoughts, his desires, his inclinations, his resentments, and keeps them all in good order. 2. The bad case of a vicious man, who has not this rule over his own spirit, who, when temptations to excess in eating or drinking are before him, has no government of himself, when he is provoked breaks out into exorbitant passions, such a one is like a city that is broken down and without walls. All that is good goes out, and forsakes him; all that is evil breaks in upon him. He lies exposed to all the temptations of Satan and becomes an easy prey to that enemy; he is also liable to many troubles and vexations; it is likewise as much a reproach to him as it is to a city to have its walls ruined, Nehemiah 1:3.


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.

Bibliography
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Proverbs 25:28". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhm/proverbs-25.html. 1706.

Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible

The man who has no command over his anger, is easily robbed of peace. Let us give up ourselves to the Lord, and pray him to put his Spirit within us, and cause us to walk in his statutes.


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.

Bibliography
Henry, Matthew. "Concise Commentary on Proverbs 25:28". "Matthew Henry Concise Commentary

on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhn/proverbs-25.html. 1706.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Proverbs 25:28 He that [hath] no rule over his own spirit [is like] a city [that is] broken down, [and] without walls.

Ver. 28. He that hath no rule over his own spirit.] Cui non est cohibitio in spiritum suum, that reigns not in his unruly affections, but suffers them to run riot in sin, as so many headstrong horses, or to ride upon the backs one of another, like cattle in a narrow shoot. This man being not fenced with the wall of God’s fear, lies open to all assaults of Satan and other enemies; [Ephesians 4:26-27 James 4:7] as Laish; [ 18:27-28] or Hazor, that had neither gates nor bars; [Jeremiah 49:31] or the Hague in Holland, which the inhabitants will not wall, as desiring to have it counted rather the principal village of Europe than a lesser city. (a)


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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 25:28". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/proverbs-25.html. 1865-1868.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

REFLECTIONS.

READER! many very blessed reflections will be found folded up in the bosom of this chapter, and which I pray the Holy Ghost to open and explain to you and to me. And among the many, that of the eating of the honey comb inducing sickness is not the least. If the blessed Spirit be the faithful Messenger to our souls herein, I hope and trust that we shall both be refreshed in the view, as from the snow of Lebanon in the time of harvest, or the cold flowing waters that come from another place.

And what sickness like the sickness of the soul, when from having seen Christ as necessary, and having had such views of him as induce those longings and desires after him, which nothing short of himself can satisfy: the whole heart is sick, and every faculty faint until Christ be enjoyed. Precious Lord! give me this sickness, which is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified thereby. Give me so to long for thee; so passionately to desire thee; that like the church I may cry out, Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples, for I am sick of love. Let my soul seek after thee as for hidden treasure; follow hard after thee in ordinances; set thee as a seal upon my heart, as a seal upon my arm, for love is strong as death, jealousy is cruel as the grave: may I delight to hear thy name, sweeter than all the melody of music to my ear, or the fragrancy of ointment to the smell. And never; never, give over, until such renewed manifestations of my Lord be made to my heart, that under the impression of thy soul-reviving presence, I can cry out, It is the voice of my beloved: behold he cometh leaping upon the mountains and skipping upon the hills. And oh! do thou haste, my beloved, and come, for hope deferred maketh the heart sick; and when the desire cometh it is indeed a tree of life. Yes! blessed Jesus, ere long thou wilt come, and we shall part no more. I shall arrive, borne by thee on eagle's wings, to that blessed climate where the inhabitant shall no longer say, I am sick: the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity. Amen.


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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Proverbs 25:28". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pmc/proverbs-25.html. 1828.

Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture

Proverbs

AN UNWALLED CITY

Proverbs 25:28.

The text gives us a picture of a state of society when an unwalled city is no place for men to dwell in. In the Europe of today there are still fortified places, but for the most part, battlements are turned into promenades; the gateways are gateless; the sweet flowers blooming where armed feet used to tread; and men live securely without bolts and bars. But their spirits cannot yet afford to raise their defences and fling themselves open to all comers.

We may see here three points: the city defenceless, or human nature as it is; the city defended, human nature as it may be in Christ; the city needing no defence, human nature as it will be in heaven.

I. The city defenceless, or human nature as it is.

Here we are in a state of warfare which calls for constant shutting out of enemies. Temptations are everywhere; our foes compass us like bees; evils of many sorts seduce. We can picture to ourselves some little garrison holding a lonely outpost against lurking savages ready to attack if ever the defenders slacken their vigilance for a moment. And that is the truer picture of human nature as it is than the one by which most men are deluded. Life is not a playground, but an arena of grim, earnest fighting. No man does right in his sleep; no man does right without a struggle.

The need for continual vigilance and self-control comes from the very make of our souls, for our nature is not a democracy, but a kingdom. In us all there are passions, desires, affections, all of which may lead to vice or to virtue: and all of which evidently call out for direction, for cultivation, and often for repression. Then there are peculiarities of individual character which need watching lest they become excessive and sinful. Further, there are qualities which need careful cultivation and stimulus to bring them into due proportion. We each of us receive, as it were, an undeveloped self, and have entrusted to us potential germs which come to nothing, or shoot up with a luxuriance that stifles unless we exercise a controlling power. Besides all this, we all carry in us tendencies which are positively, and only, sinful. There would be no temptation if there were no such.

But the slightest inspection of our own selves clearly points out, not only what in us needs to be controlled, but that in us which is meant to control. The will is regal; conscience is meant to govern the will, and its voice is but the echo of God’s law.

But, while all this is true, it is too sadly true that the accomplishment of this ideal is impossible in our own strength. Our own sad experience tells us that we cannot govern ourselves; and our observations of our brethren but too surely indicate that they too are the prey of rebellious, anarchical powers within, and of temptations, against the rush of which they and we are as powerless as a voyager in a bark-canoe, caught in the fatal drift of Niagara. Conscience has a voice, but no hands; it can speak, but if its voice fails, it cannot hold us back. From its chair it can bid the waves breaking at our feet roll back, as the Saxon king did, but their tossing surges are deaf. As helpless as the mud walls of some Indian hill-fort against modern artillery, is the defence, in one’s own strength, of one’s own self against the world. We would gladly admit that the feeblest may do much to ‘keep himself unspotted from the world’; but we must, if we recognise facts, confess that the strongest cannot do all. No man can alone completely control his own nature; no man, unenlightened by God, has a clear, full view of duty, nor a clear view of himself. Always there is some unguarded place:

‘Unless above himself he can

Erect himself, how mean a thing is man!’

but no man can so lift himself so as that self will not drag him down. The walls are broken down and the troops of the spoilers sack the city.

II. The defended city, or human nature as it may be in Christ.

If our previous remarks are true, they give us material for judging how far the counsels of some very popular moral teachers should be followed. It is a very old advice, ‘know thyself; and it is a very modern one that

‘Self-reverence, self-knowledge, self-control

Lead life to sovereign power.’

But if these counsels are taken absolutely and without reference to Christ and His work, they are ‘counsels of despair,’ demanding what we cannot give, and promising what they cannot bestow. When we know Christ, we shall know ourselves; when He is the self of ourselves, then, and only then, shall we reverence and can we control the inner man. The city of Mansoul will then be defended when ‘the peace of God keeps our hearts and minds in Jesus.’

He who submits himself to Christ is lord of himself as none else are. He has a light within which teaches him what is sin. He has a love within which puts out the flame of temptation, as the sun does a coal fire. He has a motive to resist; he has power for resistance; he has hope in resisting. Only thus are the walls broken down rebuilded. And as Christ builds our city on firmer foundations, He will appear in His glory, and will ‘lay the windows in agates, and all thy borders in precious stones.’ The sure way to bring our ruined earth, ‘without form and void,’ into a cosmos of light and beauty, is to open our spirit for the Spirit of God to ‘brood upon the face of the waters.’ Otherwise the attempts to rule over our own spirit will surely fail; but if we let Christ rule over our spirit, then it will rule itself.

But let us ever remember that he who thus submits to Christ, and can truly say, ‘I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me,’ still needs defence. The strife does not thereby cease; the enemies still swarm; sin is not removed. There will be war to the end, and war for ever; but He will ‘keep our heads in the day of battle’; and though often we may be driven from the walls, and outposts may be lost, and gaping breaches made, yet the citadel shall be safe. If only we see to it that ‘He is the glory in the midst of us,’ He will be ‘a wall of fire round about us.’ Our nature as it may be in Christ is a walled city as needing defence, and as possessing the defence which it needs.

III. The city defenceless, and needing no defence; that is, human nature as it will be hereafter.

‘The gates shall not be shut day nor night,’ for ‘every thing that defileth’ is without. We know but little of that future, what we know will, surely, be theirs who here have been ‘guarded by the power of God, through faith, unto salvation.’ That salvation will bring with it the end for the need of guardianship; though it leaves untouched the blessed dependence, we shall stand secure when it is impossible to fall. And that impossibility will be realised, partly, as we know, from change in surroundings, partly from the dropping away of flesh, partly from the entire harmony of our souls with the will of God. Our ignorance of that future is great, but our knowledge of it is greater, and our certainty of it is greatest of all.

This is what we may become. Dear friends! toil no longer at the endless, hopeless task of ruling those turbulent souls of yours; you can never rebuild the walls already fallen. Give up toiling to attain calmness, peace, self-command. Let Christ do all for you, and let Him in to dwell in you and be all to you. Builded on the true Rock, we shall stand stately and safe amid the din of war. He will watch over us and dwell in us, and we shall be as ‘a city set on a hill,’ impregnable, a virgin city. So may it be with each of us while strife shall last, and hereafter we may quietly hope to be as a city without walls, and needing none; for they that hated us shall be far away, for between us and them is ‘a great gulf fixed,’ so that they cannot cross it to disturb us any more; and we shall dwell in the city of God, of which the name is Salem, the city of peace, whose King is Himself, its Defender and its Rock, its Fortress and its high Tower.


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MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on Proverbs 25:28". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mac/proverbs-25.html.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Over his own spirit; over his passions, and especially his anger, Which is signified by this word, Proverbs 16:2 Ecclesiastes 10:4.

Is like a city that is broken down, and without walls; exposeth himself to manifold dangers and mischiefs.


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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Proverbs 25:28". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/proverbs-25.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

28. Hath no rule — No restraint or control over his spirit, his temper, his passions. “That refraineth not his appetite.” — Geneva Bible.

Is like a city… broken down… without walls — Therefore in continual danger of invasion and harm. He is always liable to do or say something which will be injurious or fatal to himself. Comp. 2 Chronicles 32:5; Nehemiah 2:13. Ancient cities were invariably walled. Our Christian civilization and improved arts (the military among the rest) render such appendages unnecessary and useless.


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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Proverbs 25:28". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/proverbs-25.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Proverbs 25:28. He that hath no rule over his own spirit — Over his passions, and especially his anger, which is signified by this word, Proverbs 16:32; Ecclesiastes 10:4; is like a city that is broken down and without walls — Exposes himself to manifold dangers and mischiefs.


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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Proverbs 25:28". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/proverbs-25.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Speaking. He lays himself open to every attack, chap. xxix. 11.


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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Proverbs 25:28". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/proverbs-25.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

spirit. Hebrew. ruach. App-9.


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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Proverbs 25:28". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/proverbs-25.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.

He that (hath) no rule over his own spirit - (contrast Proverbs 16:32.) Rule over not only hastiness in anger, but also over lusts, is implied. Prayerful, watchful self-control is the wall of the city; and we should see that there is no breach made in it by self-reliance or spiritual indolence.


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Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Proverbs 25:28". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/proverbs-25.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(28) Like a city that is broken down, and without walls.—Exposed to the assault of every temptation.


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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Proverbs 25:28". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/proverbs-25.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.
16:32; 22:24; 1 Samuel 20:30; 25:17

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Proverbs 25:28". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/proverbs-25.html.

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary

MAIN HOMILETICS OF Pro

A DEFENCELESS CITY

The other side of this picture is given in chap. Pro . (See page 497.)

I. Such a city as is here described proclaims the lack of a wise and powerful governor within. The walls and buildings of a city are constantly exposed to influences which promote decay, even if no hostile military force attacks them. The everyday exposure to storm and sun and rain will have a tendency to make the mortar crumble, and the bricks or stones to become loose and fall away. Hence, if a wise man governs a city he will make it a part of his constant duty to watch for the first signs of weakness, and if he has the authority which his position ought to put into his hand, he will cause each breach to be repaired as soon as it is discovered. And when we see a city whose walls are in a perfect condition—where there are no fallen stones and no crumbling mortar—we feel at once that there is rule and authority residing there. But "a city broken down and without walls" tells plainly the opposite story. Now every human spirit in this fallen world is exposed daily, and sometimes hourly, to influences which tend to irritate and vex it, and so to destroy its means of defence against temptation, and lower its dignity and mar its moral beauty. And if a man yields himself up to these influences, and allows them to hold undisputed sway over his life, he proclaims himself to be without those essential elements to his welfare and happiness—wisdom to see his danger, and power to guard it.

II. Such a city gives an invitation to the invader without. If a fortress is known to be well fortified, if there is no weak or unguarded point, an enemy will not hastily try to take possession of it. Its strength will oftentimes be its security against attack. But if its fallen towers and tottering defences tell of weakness and anarchy within, its condition will tempt the foe to enter. So if a man gives evidence that he has no control over his passions, both evil men and evil spirits will mark him for their prey, and will make it their business to lead him from one sin to another—to make him not only a negative but a positive transgressor. Such an one, in the language of Paul, "gives place to the devil" (Eph .)

OUTLINES AND SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS

To come to particulars; if any be angry or given to wrath, will he not quickly be led captive to revile and to commit murder? If the affection of covetousness possess any, will he not easily be drawn to deceive and steal? The like is to be said of all the passions of the mind, which, if a man cannot bridle or govern, they will carry him headlong with violence into all mischief and misery, as wild and fierce horses oftentimes run away with an unguided coach or waggon—Muffett.


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Bibliography
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Proverbs 25:28". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/phc/proverbs-25.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.


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Wednesday, September 20th, 2017
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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