Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Proverbs 30:21

Under three things the earth quakes, And under four, it cannot bear up:
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Family;   Gluttony;   Riddle;   Rulers;   Servant;   Wife;   Women;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Servants;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Proverb, the Book of;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Pardon;   Servants;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Proverbs, Book of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Agur;   Jakeh;   Massa;   Number;   Proverb;   Proverbs, Book of;   Slave, Slavery;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Proverbs, Book of;   Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types - Four;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Four;   Number;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

For three things the earth is disquieted, and for four which it cannot bear - This is another enigma. Four things insupportable to men. 1. A slave, when he becomes ruler. 2. An overfed fool. 3. An ill-tempered woman, when mistress of a family. And, 4. A servant maid, when the rule of the house is committed to her.

  1. A slave, when he comes to bear rule, is an unprincipled tyrant. It has been often observed both in America and in the West Indies, when it was judged necessary to arm some of the most confidential slaves, that no regiments were used so cruelly in the drill, etc., as those black regiments that had black officers.
  • The overfed fool. The intellectually weak man, who has every thing at his command, has generally manners which none can bear; and, if a favourite with his master, he is insupportable to all others.
  • An ill-tempered woman, when she gets embarrassed with domestic cares, is beyond bearing.
  • 4. A servant maid, when, either through the death of the mistress, or the sin of the husband, she is in fact exalted to be head over the family, is so insolent and impudent, as to be hateful to every one, and execrated by all.

    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain.
    Bibliographical Information
    Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Proverbs 30:21". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/proverbs-30.html. 1832.

    Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

    For four which it cannot bear - Better: four it cannot bear. Here the common element is that of being intolerable, and the four examples are divided equally between the two sexes. Each has its examples of power and prosperity misused because they fall to the lot of those who have no training for them, and are therefore in the wrong place.

    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain.
    Bibliographical Information
    Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Proverbs 30:21". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/proverbs-30.html. 1870.

    Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

    4

    "For three things the earth doth tremble,

    And for four which it cannot bear.

    For a servant when he is king;

    And a fool when he is filled with food;

    For an odious woman when she is married;

    And a handmaid that is heir to her mistress."

    The cases cited here are of people in relatively inferior positions who find themselves suddenly promoted; and the intimation of the passage is that, "They then become excessively pretentious, arrogant and disagreeable."[20] Some have discovered an element of humor in the situations mentioned here.

    Copyright Statement
    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 30:21". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/proverbs-30.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

    John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

    For three things the earth is disquieted,.... The inhabitants of it are made very uneasy;

    and for four which it cannot bear; they are a load and burden upon it, and are intolerable to those that dwell on it, and make them very uncomfortable.

    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 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 30:21". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/proverbs-30.html. 1999.

    Wesley's Explanatory Notes

    For three things the earth is disquieted, and for four which it cannot bear:

    Four — Which are intolerable in human societies.

    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
    Wesley, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 30:21". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/proverbs-30.html. 1765.

    John Trapp Complete Commentary

    Proverbs 30:21 For three [things] the earth is disquieted, and for four [which] it cannot bear:

    Ver. 21. For three things the earth is disquieted.] Such trouble towns are odious creatures; the places where they live, long for a vomit to spew them out. As they live wickedly, so they die wishedly; there is a good world’s riddance of them, as there was of Nabal, and of those in Job 27:23; Job 27:15, who were buried before half dead, being hissed and kicked off the stage of the world, as Phocas was by Heraclius.

    And for four which it cannot bear.] The very axle of the world is even ready to crack under them, the earth to open and swallow them up.

    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain.
    Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
    Bibliographical Information
    Trapp, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 30:21". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/proverbs-30.html. 1865-1868.

    Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

    The earth is disquieted; either,

    1. The earth itself trembleth and is moved; so it is an hyperbole. Or rather,

    2. The inhabitants of the earth. They do by their insolence and impudence cause great and dreadful disturbances in the places where they live.

    Which it cannot bear; which are intolerable in human societies.

    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain.
    Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
    Bibliographical Information
    Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Proverbs 30:21". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/proverbs-30.html. 1685.