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Bible Commentaries
Proverbs 13

Bridges' Commentary on ProverbsBridges' on Proverbs

Verse 1

SUCH a wise son in filial reverence was Solomon himself. (Proverbs 4:3-4 .) The connection however of instruction with rebuke mainly points us to that instruction, which is obtained by discipline.†1 Here then we turn to our great Exemplar. Was not he a wise son, when his ears were opened to his Father’s discipline? (Isaiah 50:5 .) How did he condescend to this painful school to "learn obedience!" (Hebrews 5:8 .) How good is it in our daily practical walk to keep our eyes steadily fixed on him, following him closely in this child-like habit!

But the proud spirit does not easily bend. He has never heard his father’s instruction, with deference. Soon therefore he takes "the scorner’s seat." (Psalms 1:1 .) When rebuke becomes necessary, he hears it not (Proverbs 15:12 ); turns from it to his own course at the extreme point from wisdom (Proverbs 12:1 ; Proverbs 15:5 ), on the brink of ruin (Proverbs 15:10 ; Proverbs 29:1 ); carrying about him a fearful mark of reprobation! (1 Samuel 2:25 .) Let me remember — If I am reluctant to hear the faithful rebuke of men, I am prepared to resist the rebuke of God. And how soon may this stubborn revolt bring his long-suffering to an end (2 Chronicles 36:16 ), and my soul to destruction! (Jeremiah 5:3 . Zephaniah 3:2 .) ’From hardness of heart, and contempt of thy word and commandment, Good Lord, deliver me.’†2

Footnotes:

†1 Proverbs 12:1. Schultens.

†2 Litany.

Verse 2

The first clause has been lately before us. (Proverbs 12:14 .) But let it ever be fixed in our minds, that if the Christian is walking with God, his tongue will pour out godly communication. Whatever be the effect on others, at least his own soul will be warmed, refreshed and edified. He shall eat good by the fruit of his mouth. Never shall we carry upon our lips that Beloved Name to our fellow-sinners in simplicity, but its "savor" to our own souls will be "as ointment poured forth." (Song of Song of Solomon 1:3 .) We shall feed ourselves in the Christian distribution of the heavenly manna.

The transgressor also eats the fruit of his mouth — yet not good. His soul sets his tongue on a flame. He loves violence, and therefore eats it to his own ruin. (Psalms 64:8 .) "Death as well as life are in the power of the tongue." (Proverbs 18:21 .) Let us look, that it be under the influence of Divine grace, restrained from evil, disciplined for usefulness, the fruitful instrument of our own happiness.

Verse 3

The last Proverb contrasted a fruitful and mischievous — this a cautious and ungoverned — tongue. "Keep thine heart." (Proverbs 4:23 .) This guards the citadel. Keep thy mouth. This sets a watch at the gates. If they be well guarded, the city is safe. Leave them unprotected — Thus was Babylon taken. ’He that looketh carefully to his tongue takes a safe course for preserving his life, which is oft in danger by much and wild talking.’†1 Think before we speak; ponder our words, their substance, manner, time, place, audience. The unruly member needs a strong bridle, and a strong hand to hold it. (James 3:2-3 .) Though it be necessary to open our lips; yet to open them wide; to let all come out; is a fearful hazard. (Proverbs 10:14 ; Proverbs 12:13 .) For if "in the multitude of words there wanteth not sin" (Proverbs 10:19 ), this evil must bring us within the jaws of destruction.

"Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; and keep the door of my lips" (Psalms 141:3 ) — was the prayer of one, who knew the danger of an ungoverned tongue, and the only way to tame it. Shall we not call in God’s help, in the recollection, how often has our unguarded tongue "given place to the devil" (Ephesians 4:27 ), and "grieved the Holy Comforter"? (Ephesians 4:30 .) How much more matter do we make for repentance by our speaking than by our silence! Let the practical power of faith quicken watchfulness and prayer, self-abasement and self-discipline, godly fear and energy of conflict. Two things are clear. But for the blood of Christ, the mass of guilt from the sins of the tongue would have condemned us for ever; and in proportion as the "little member" is bridled, "the peace of God rules in the heart."

Footnotes:

†1 Bishop Hall, Proverbs 21:23 . Psalms 34:12-13 .

Verse 4

Another vivid contrast of the sluggard with the diligent! (Proverbs 10:4 ; Proverbs 12:24 .) The sluggard desires the gain of diligence, without the diligence that gains. He would be wise without study, and rich without labour. His religion is of the same heartless character. He desires to overcome his bad habits, to enjoy the happiness of God’s people. So far well. Desires are a part of religion. There can be no attainment without them. Many have not even the desire. They ridicule it as enthusiasm. Yet the sluggard hath nothing, because it is desire without effort. ’He ever desireth; but he taketh no pains to get any thing.’†1 He would fain go to heaven, if a morning dream would carry him there. And many a wish (alas! — of prayer he knows nothing) he sighs for "the death of the righteous." (Numbers 23:10 .) He would gladly be a Christian, if it cost him no trouble. His duties are a force upon him; and when they are over, he feels as if relieved from a heavy weight. This is no rare case. Often do we hear the cry — and that year after year — ’I desire to be a child of God.’ And yet the soul continues at the same point; or rather settles down more resolutely in a lifeless profession. ’Hell’ — says an old writer — ’is paved with such desires.’

Oh! be industrious — if anywhere — in religion. Eternity is at stake. Hours, days are lost. Soon they come to years; and for want of energy, all is lost. Heartless wishes will not give life. The halting step will not bring us to God. A few minutes’ cold prayers will not seize the prize. To expect the blessing without diligence is delusion.

Diligence brings its own reward in the world. (Proverbs 22:29 ); much more in religion. It will not be content with desiring, without the reality of possession. The "exercise of godliness" tends to health and profit. (1 Timothy 4:8 .) Useful habits are formed; dormant energy is excited. The conflict of faith, and the violence of prayer, ensure success. (Matthew 11:12 .) God honours the trading of talents, where he has the full revenue of his own gifts. (Matthew 25:14-29 .) He gives, not the wisdom only, but "the manifestation;" not for selfish indulgence, but "to profit withal." (1 Corinthians 12:7 .) The "talent must not be hid in a napkin" (Luke 19:20 ), or "the light under the bushel." (Matthew 5:15 .) False humility — a cover for indolence — must not hinder the faithful discharge of our trust.

Child of God! shake off the dust of sloth. Take care that the bed of ease doth not pall thine appetite, and hinder thee from seeking food for thy soul; or from active exercise for God. Let thy graces be vigorous and radiant. Let thy profession be always progressing, deepening, expanding. If thou be in Christ, seek to be "rooted and grounded in him" (Colossians 2:7 .) Let there be "life more abundantly." (John 10:10 .) "Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus." (2 Timothy 2:1 .) Let "the joy of the LORD be thy strength." (Nehemiah 8:10 .) Then thy soul shall be made fat, healthful, vigorous in all fruit and grace. (Psalms 92:12-14 .)

Footnotes:

†1 Reformers’ Notes.

Verse 5

Observe the accuracy of Scripture. It is not that a righteous man never lies. David lied.†1 Peter lied.†2 Yet David could say — "I hate and abhor lying."†3 He prayed to have it "removed from him."†4 He would not suffer the "liar in his sight."†5 Peter in the painful remembrance of his sin earnestly shewed the happiness of departure from it.†6 The child of God, though always a sinner, maintains an holy antipathy against sin — "What I hate, that do I."†7

Nor is it a proof of a righteous man that he avoids lying. Selfish motives, regard for character, may dictate restraint, without any hatred of the sin as sin. But true religion brings in the new taste, conformity to the mind of God. Therefore, as "lying lips" — however common, profitable, convenient, or pardonable, they may be counted — "are abomination to the LORD," the righteous man hateth them. (Proverbs 12:22 . Romans 12:9 .) He would rather suffer by truth, than sin by lying. (Daniel 3:16-18 .)

And yet how often, even in the Church, is this feature of godliness obscured! Is not strict truth often sacrificed to courtesy? Is not lying sometimes acted, insinuated, or implied, where we should be ashamed of plainly speaking it? Is not the simple truth often coloured with exaggeration? "Abstain from all appearance of evil" (1 Thessalonians 5:22 ) — is the rule for the man of God. Commit the tongue to the only safe ordering, the restraint and guidance of the God of Truth. (Psalms 19:14 ; Psalms 141:3 .)

A wicked man indeed takes pleasure in deceit. Scripture gives him his right name. His base means often bring him to shame on this side of the grave. (2 Kings 5:27 . Acts 12:21-23 .) But however this be, shame will be his "everlasting recompense." (Daniel 12:2 . Revelation 21:8 .)

Footnotes:

†1 1 Samuel 21:2 ; 1 Samuel 27:9-10 .

†2 Matthew 26:70-74.

†3 Psalms 119:163.

†4 Psalms 119:29.

†5 Psalms 101:7; Psalms 26:4 .

†6 1 Peter 3:10 ; 1 Peter 2:1 .

†7 Romans 7:15, Romans 7:19 .

Verse 6

Would that this repetition of the aphorism (Proverbs 11:3, Proverbs 11:5-6 ) might deepen its impression! It is indeed a straight way to heaven. "Lead me in it, O my God" (Psalms 5:8 ), and keep me there. The many deviations even of the children of God prove our need of Divine keeping. The fear of man;†1 the flinching of the flesh from positive duty;†2 the grasp of some desired object;†3 the subtle allurements of sin†4 — all these have turned him out of the path; embracing his Father’s will in many things; in others preferring his own. Righteousness — steady conformity to the mind of God — keeps the soul upright, and so keeps it in the way. (Psalms 25:21 .) Not that we exalt it to any meritorious efficacy, or put it in the place of simply "looking unto Jesus" (Hebrews 12:2 ) for life and salvation. The Christian, while "walking in his integrity" (Psalms 26:11 ), never loses his sense of sin, or forgets his need of mercy. Yet his "righteousness is a breast-plate" (Ephesians 6:14 ) keeping him from many assaults of sin (Genesis 39:9 ), and covering him from threatening wrath. (Genesis 7:1 . 2 Peter 2:7-9 .) But this is righteousness, not perfection, mixed with much cleaving infirmity. Yet — blessed be God — the uprightness is accepted, and the fault is covered. (2 Chronicles 15:17 .)

But while ’saints are secured from ruin, sinners are secured for ruin.’†5 The sinner’s own wickedness overthroweth him. (2 Chronicles 28:23 .) He is bent upon his own way, the sure road to destruction. ’Let him not blame the Lord, or any mortal man beside himself, inasmuch as he is the author of ruin to himself.’†6

Footnotes:

†1 Genesis 12:11-13; Genesis 20:2 .

†2 Jonah 1:1-3.

†3 Genesis 27:19-24.

†4 2 Samuel 11:2 . 1 Kings 11:1-4 .

†5 Henry in loco.

†6 Muffet’s (Peter) Commentary on Proverbs, 12mo. 1596.

Verse 7

What a bubble are the world’s riches! Yet some will affect their shew, in order to gain the respect usually connected with them (Proverbs 12:9 ); making themselves rich, yet having nothing. Others make themselves poor, ’and live as if they were so,’†1 having great riches. In all cases riches are more justly estimated by their use than by their possession. Both dishonour his wisdom and goodness; the one by discontent with his dispensations; the other by neglecting the communication of his blessings. (1 Timothy 6:18 .)

The Church presents the counterpart of both these classes. The boasting Pharisee,†2 the gifted Corinthian;†3 the proud beggarly Laodicean†4 — all admire their nothing, as if it were great riches. Others again make themselves poor in "voluntary humility." Describing their whole course as unmingled sin, they deny the Almighty work of grace. They give excuse for lying under the power of their corruptions; instead of quickening the energy of a successful conflict. Thus they promote the very evil which they deprecate, and sink the soul into a hopeless despondency, alike prejudicial to their happiness and usefulness. Sometimes, indeed, the Christian, from the deep sense of remaining corruption, may be blind to what is evident to every one else, and known to his God. (Revelation 2:9 .) But if it is the ruin of the self-deceiver to think himself better, it is at least the hindrance of the upright to think himself worse, than he is.

The true path of simplicity is to renounce all dependence on the flesh, and gladly to welcome the gospel of grace. (Philippians 3:3-9 .) Such disciples, rich in their holy poverty, are honoured of the LORD. (Isaiah 66:2 . Luke 18:13 .) ’O blessed Lord, who resistest the proud, and givest grace to the humble, give me more humility, that I may receive more grace from thee. And thou, whose gracious rain shelves down from the steep mountains, and sweetly drenches the humble valleys, depress thou my heart more and more with true lowliness of spirit; that the ’showers of thy heavenly grace may sink into it, and make it more fruitful in all good affection and all holy obedience.’†5

Footnotes:

†1 Scott.

†2 Luke 18:11-12.

†3 1 Corinthians 4:8, 1 Corinthians 4:10 .

†4 Revelation 3:17-18.

†5 Bishop Hall’s Devotional Works, vol. viii. 276.

Verse 8

The last Proverb rebuketh discontent with our lot, whether of riches or poverty. The wise man here strikes the balance between these two conditions. A man’s riches may be the ransom of his life. Extortion of money may prompt false accusation, and riches may be a ransom cheerfully paid.†1 Or they may be the price of deliverance from his enemies. They may save him from the punishment of the law (Exodus 21:29-30 .) or from imminent danger of his life. (Jeremiah 41:8 .) Yet if "money is a defense" (Ecclesiastes 7:12 ), so also is often want of money. If "the rich man’s wealth is a strong city" (Proverbs 10:15 ), the poor man’s poverty is often his safeguard. He is beneath notice. He hears not many a rebuke; he escapes many a danger, which is destruction to his richer neighbour. (2 Kings 24:14 ; 2 Kings 25:12 .) Had Isaac’s flocks been less numerous (Genesis 26:13-14 ) or Jacob less prosperous (Genesis 31:1 ), they would not have heard so much rebuke from their selfish enemies. The poor with his empty pocket travels with security. His cottage offers little temptation to the nightly robber. "A man’s life" therefore — his true happiness — "consisteth not in the abundance of things which he possesseth." (Luke 12:15 .)

His riches may be the ransom of his life. But "what shall he give in exchange for his soul?" (Matthew 16:26 .) Too "precious" is it to be "redeemed with corruptible silver and gold." (1 Peter 1:18 .) So far as he is concerned, "it ceaseth for ever." (Psalms 49:8 .) Praised be the LORD! when all the treasures of earth would have been beggared in the ransom, the riches of heaven were freely poured out. (1 Peter 1:19 . Hebrews 10:5-8 .) The blood of the Son of God was the acceptable price. The voice was heard from heaven — "Deliver him from going down to the pit, I have found a ransom." (Job 33:24 .)

Footnotes:

†1 See Job 2:4 . The Apostle refused to avail himself of this ransom. Acts 24:26 . ’The primitive Christians quoted this proverb in defense of their occasional habit of giving money to restrain the fury of their persecutors.’ — Geier in loco.

Verse 9

Who can estimate the worth of a Christian’s bright shining light? (Matthew 5:14-16 . Philippians 2:15 . Proverbs 4:18 .) Happy in his own soul, like his counterpart in the heavens, he sheds a joyous light around him. But how glowing, then, is the light of the Church in the combined shining of all her members! Many of them have no remarkable individual splendour; yet, like the lesser stars forming the milky way, they present a bright path of holiness in the spiritual firmament. This happy heavenly light "shineth into perfect day," and that day will never set. (Isaiah 60:19-20 .) Sometimes it may be obscured, but only that it may break out more gloriously (Micah 7:8 ); and soon will it be a day without a cloud. (Revelation 21:23-24 .)

But it is the light of the righteous that rejoiceth. Sin therefore will bring the cloud. Do we hope to shine in the heavenly firmament? Then must we shine with present glory in the firmament of the Church. So delicate is the Divine principle, that every breath of this world dims its lustre.

The wicked have their lamp, a cold profession of the name of religion. But being without oil, it will soon be put out (Job 18:5-6 . Matthew 25:8 .) Even while it lasts, it rejoiceth not. It sheds no light upon the soul. It guides no fellow-pilgrim with its light. Fearful will be the end. He takes his leave of the light of this world, only to enter into eternal darkness, without even a flickering ray to cheer "the blackness of darkness for ever." (Psalms 49:19 . Matthew 22:13 .)

Verse 10

Most accurately is contention here traced to its proper source. (Proverbs 28:25 .) All the crudities of the day, all the novelties of doctrine producing contention (1 Timothy 1:4 . 2 Timothy 2:23 ), originate in the proud swelling of "the fleshly mind." (Colossians 2:18 . 1 Timothy 6:3-4 .) Men scorn the beaten track. They must strike out a new path. Singularity and extravagance are primary charms. They are ready to quarrel with every one, who does not value their notions as highly as they do. The desire of pre-eminence (Matthew 20:21 . 3 John 1:9 ); revolt from authority (Numbers 12:2 ) or sound doctrine (2 Timothy 4:3-4 ); party spirit, with the pride of knowledge and gifts (1 Corinthians 3:3-4, with 1 Corinthians 4:8 ) — all produce the same results. Is it too much to say, that vain-glory hath lighted up all the sinful contentions, that have ever kindled in the Church? We must indeed "contend for the faith" (Galatians 2:5 . 1 Thessalonians 2:2 . Judges 1:3 ), though it be with our own compromising brethren. (Galatians 2:11 .) But even here how yet imperceptibly may pride insinuate itself under the cover of glorifying God! Truly ’is it the inmost coat, which we put on first, and put off last.’†1

This mischievous principle spreads in families, or among friends. ’Some point of honour must be maintained; some affront must be resented; some rival must be crushed or eclipsed; some renowned character emulated; or some superior equalled and surpassed.’†2 Even in trifling disputes between relatives or neighbours — perhaps between Christians — each party contends vehemently for his rights, instead of satisfying himself with the testimony of his conscience, and submitting rather to be misunderstood and misjudged, than to break the bond of the Divine brotherhood. (1 Corinthians 6:7 .) In the wide field of the world we may well ask — "From whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not from this lust?" (James 4:1 .) Often has wounded pride (Judges 12:1 ), even without any proved injury (2 Kings 14:10 ), brought destructive contention upon a land.

The proud man conceives himself wise enough. He asks no counsel, and thus proves his want of wisdom. But with the modest, well-advised, there is the wisdom that is from above, "which is first pure, then peaceable." (James 3:17, with James 3:14-16 .) Many a rising contention has it quelled. (Genesis 13:8 . Judges 8:1-3 . Acts 6:1-6 .) "Let nothing be done through strife or vain-glory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves." (Philippians 2:3 .) Christian wisdom will keep us within our own line; knowing our own measure and bounds (2 Corinthians 10:13-16 ); and — whatever be our place, parts, or gifts — humble, active, loving, constant, thankful, in the improvement of them.

Footnotes:

†1 Bishop Hall.

†2 Scott in loco.

Verse 11

This Proverb does not imply the means, by which wealth has been gotten;†1 but the impoverishing use, to which it is applied. However large, by vanity it will soon be diminished. Frivolous and expensive pursuits, empty amusements, and the vain pomp and shew of dress, will soon prove, that "riches certainly make themselves wings" (Proverbs 23:5 ); that the treasure is "put into a bag with holes" (Haggai 1:6 ); and that nothing remains but the awful account of unfaithfulness to a solemn trust.

On the other hand — God’s blessing is upon Christian industry; and, so far as is good, he that gathereth with his labour shall increase. Only let him remember, that the security for his increasing wealth is the dedication of himself and his substance to the Lord; the ready acknowledgment, that he "is not his own," but God’s property for God’s glory. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 .) ’All that man can have, we have it on this condition; to use it, to have it, to lay it out, to lay it down unto the honour of our Master, from whose bounty we received it.’†2 The Lord deliver us from the guilt of wasting on vanity what is due to Himself!

Footnotes:

†1 The interpolation of our translators is uncalled for, and misleads the reader. The word ’vain’ is of very frequent occurrence, and always implies, not what is sinful, but what is empty and unsubstantial. — See Parkhurst.

†2 Swinnock’s True Christian, 4to. 1663, p. 169.

Verse 12

The first springing of hope is a pleasurable sensation, yet not unmixed with pain. It is the hunger, that makes our food acceptable. But hope deferred, like hunger prolonged, brings a kind of torture. It maketh the heart sick. (Psalms 119:82, Psalms 119:123 ; Psalms 143:7 .) Yet when the desire — the fulfillment of the hope — cometh, what a tree of life it is — so invigorating! (Proverbs 13:19 .)

We must however limit this application to the spiritual world. Elsewhere the fulfillment of the desire, instead of a tree of life, is vanity. (Ecclesiastes 2:11 .) Here however the child of God is often tried in his faith, but never disappointed of his hope. Long we may have to wait. But never let us despair. "The patience of hope" issues in "the full assurance of hope." What was it to Abraham, when, after long deferred hope, the desire came, and he called the child of promise — Laughter! (Genesis 15:3 ; Genesis 21:3-6 .) What was it "when the LORD turned again the captivity of Zion, and they were like unto them that dream!" (Psalms 137:1-9 . with Psalms 126:1-6 .) What was it to old Simeon and the waiting remnant, when "the desire of all nations" came! (Luke 2:25-30, with Haggai 2:7 . Compare Matthew 13:16-17 .) What to the disciples, when at the manifestation of their risen Lord, their sickening hearts "believed not for joy, and wondered!" (Luke 24:41 .) What to the little flock met together in the faintness of deferred hope to plead for Peter’s deliverance, when the desire came — the answer to prayer, so marvelously vouchsafed! (Acts 12:12-16 .)

To come to more personal experience. Such was the trial of faith appointed for our Beloved Lord. Such was the joyful issue. (Psalms 22:1-3, with Psalms 22:22-25 ; Psalms 69:1-3, with Psalms 69:30-35 .) Many a waiting, sickening heart has been thus refreshed from a tree of life. But what will be the joy of the grand consummation of hope! (Romans 8:23-25 . 2 Corinthians 5:1-4 .) "The earnest expectation of the creation waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God." (Romans 8:19 .) Time seems long, trials heavy, hearts failing. But "yet a little while, and he that shall come, will come , and will not tarry." (Hebrews 10:37-38 . Habakkuk 2:3 . Revelation 22:7, Revelation 22:12, Revelation 22:20 .) The first moment of the glorious manifestation will blot out the remembrance of all toils, weariness, and trial. Yes — the desire cometh — come it will in God’s best time — "quickly." One moment sick; the next — "the inhabitant of that land," where sickness is no more. (Isaiah 33:24 . Revelation 21:4 .) One moment clad in the rags of the flesh; "in the twinkling of an eye" arrayed in the glory of the Savior’s image. (1 Corinthians 15:51-54 .) "Come, Lord Jesus! Come quickly." (Revelation 22:20 .)

Verse 13

God as a God of holiness will not be trifled with. As a God of grace, none "serve him for nought." The presumptuous despiser of his word cannot escape. The world before the flood was the object of his long-suffering. "A preacher of righteousness" warned them of their danger. But the despisers provoked their own ruin. (1 Peter 3:20 . 2 Peter 2:5 .) Pharaoh, often reproved, sometimes half-resolved, yet at length despising the word, was destroyed. (Exodus 5:2 ; Exodus 10:16-17 ; Exodus 14:28 .) Jehoiakim’s daring rebellion met with its righteous recompense. (Jeremiah 36:23-32 .) The warnings of Sinai are as a voice of thunder — "If every transgression of the word spoken by angels received its just recompense of reward; how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation, spoken by the Lord? If they escaped not, that refused him that spake on earth; much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven. See that ye refuse not him that speaketh." (Hebrews 12:25 .)

Let God and his word be our fear, not our terror. Faith is the principle of fear, of reverential child-like obedience. (Hebrews 11:7 .) Indeed the heart can never be right, till it fears the commandment above every earthly consideration. The slave fears the penalty; the child the commandment. And this he fears more, than if an angel from heaven were standing in his way with a flaming sword. He fears the father, not the Judge. Here is no bondage, no legality. It brings its own reward. The "heart that stands in awe of God’s word," rejoices in it, "and is largely enriched with its spoil." (Psalms 119:161-162 .) Here too is sunshine in the special favor of God — "To this man will I look, even to him that is poor, and of a contrite heart, and that trembleth at my word." (Isaiah 66:2 . Compare Ezra 10:3 .)

Verse 14

Reverence to God’s commandment has just been enforced. The blessing of the law or instruction (Proverbs 3:1 ; Proverbs 4:2 ) of the wise is here shown. It is a fountain of life (Proverbs 10:11 ) to a teachable and thirsting heart. It is a grand conservative principle in a world full of snares, not of danger only, but of death. There is no safe treading, but in the ways of God. The word of God gives the necessary warning (Psalms 17:4 ; Psalms 119:9, Psalms 119:11 .) The law of the wise — his instruction with all the authority of a law — applies it. This was David’s seasonable instruction to Solomon (Proverbs 4:4 ); Solomon’s to us. (Proverbs 5:1-13 ; Proverbs 7:24-27 .) Hear this warning law of the wise from an Apostle’s mouth. The love of money was fearfully destroying souls. — "Thou, O man of God, flee these things." (1 Timothy 6:9-11 .) This is the grand end of the Ministry of the Gospel; to "deliver them from the snares of the devil, who taketh men captive at his will." (2 Timothy 2:24-26 .) Let the young take heed to their feet, where every step is a snare of death. Let the instruction of thy God and his Ministers be the law of the wise to keep thy path in safety. Even in defect of literal prescript, the spirit of the law will supply practical rules for keeping the heart and life — e.g. to do nothing, of which the lawfulness is questionable — to consider everything as unlawful, which indisposes for prayer, and interrupts communion with God — never to go into any company, business, or situation, in which the presence and blessing of God cannot be conscientiously asked and expected.†1 Such rules are in the spirit of the law, and well worthy of adoption. "Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established." (Proverbs 4:26 .)

Footnotes:

†1 ’By the help of these three rules, I soon settle all my doubts, and find that many things I have hitherto indulged in, are, if not utterly unlawful, at least inexpedient, and I can renounce them without many sighs.’ — Life of Rev. Dr. Payson, chap. iii.

Verse 15

Hence the value of that "good thing, bearing the yoke in the youth." (Lamentations 3:27 .) The exercise in this yoke, under Divine grace, hardens the character to all manly virtues and practical godliness. This is a good understanding (Psalms 111:10 ) not a cold and dry apprehension, but the glow of heavenly light and love in all the discipline of Christian habits. Natural conviction is often constrained to do homage to it, as the image of God stamped upon his servants. Joseph in this exercise acquired many of those valuable rules, which gave him favour, and were of essential service to him in his various and important responsibilities. (Genesis 39.-41.) And well was it for himself, for his people, and for the whole Church of God, that he had been trained in this school of understanding. The histories of Samuel (1 Samuel 2:6 ), David (1 Samuel 18:14-16 ), attest the same point. Good understanding — the effect of early discipline gave Daniel favour, even when past his ninetieth year, the premier of the largest empire of the world.†1 Our blessed Lord, as "he increased in wisdom, increased also in favour both with God and man." (Luke 2:52 .) Thus the way of wisdom, with all its crosses, is cheered with sunshine. ’Wisdom exalteth her children.’ (Sirach 4:11 .)

Can we say this of the way of transgressors? They dream of a flowery path; but they make to themselves a hard way; perhaps pleasing at first, as the spell to fasten them to the end. ’Wicked men live under a hard task-master.’†2 ’I was held before conversion’ — said Augustine — ’not with an iron chain, but with the obstinacy of my own will.’ The philosophical infidel bears the same testimony — ’I begin to fancy myself in a most deplorable condition, environed with the deepest darkness on every side.’ (Essays, i. 458.) Voltaire, judging of course from his own heart, pronounces — ’In man is more wretchedness than in all other animals put together. Man loves life, yet knows he must die.’ ’I wish’ — concludes this wretched witness for his Master — ’I had never been born.’ The worldly infidel adds his seal to the record. Col. Gardiner declared, that in his course of wickendess, he had often envied the existence of a dog. Wretch indeed must he be, who cannot endure to commune with himself, and to whose peace it is necessary that he should rid himself of every thought of God and his soul!

In every shape and form, the service of this merciless tyrant is a hard way.†3 Men fight their way to hell, as they do to heaven (Acts 14:22 ) — "through much tribulation." The native perverseness of the will (Numbers 22:32 ); the continual warfare with conscience;†4 the absence of peace (Isaiah 57:20-21 ; Isaiah 59:8 ); the sting of sin (Proverbs 23:29-32 . Jeremiah 2:17-19 ); the certainty of destruction (Isaiah 59:7 ) — all prove a way of thorns.†5

Which then is the way of my choice? Lord, do thou choose for me. Help me under thy guidance, to choose the safe and pleasant path of wisdom (Proverbs 3:17 ), the rich portion of godliness for both worlds. (1 Timothy 4:8 .) The way of transgressors is hard. The end of that way is death. (Romans 6:21 .) The task-master will have his full "tale" of work. The paymaster will pay down his well-earned wages to the utmost farthing — Death eternal. (Romans 6:23 .)

Footnotes:

†1 Daniel 1:9, Daniel 1:19-20 ; Daniel 6:1-3, Daniel 6:28 . See also Abraham, Genesis 23:10-11 . Paul, Acts 27:43 ; Acts 28:2 . Compare Romans 14:18 .

†2 Caryl on Job 15:20 .

†3 Isaiah 5:18; Isaiah 47:13 ; Isaiah 57:10 . Jeremiah 9:5 .

†4 Acts 9:5. See a fine passage in Aristotle’s Ethics, B. ix. c. iii; also Shakespeare’s King John;

’Hostility and civil discord reign

Betwixt my conscience,’ &c.

†5 ’The pain of wickedness is grievous, and, apart from all other consequences, the most painful.’ — Cicer. De Leg. ii. § (section) 17. ’Nothing makes a man so wretched as impiety and crime.’ — Ib. De Finib. lib. iv. § (section) 24. ’His own iniquity and inward dread, remorse, and agitation of conscience — these are the untiring and domestic furies of the guilty mind.’ — Ib. Pro. Rosc. Amer. The philosopher, utterly ignorant of the spiritual character of sin, probably only intended an application to heinous crimes. But the admission of the principle is important, that the path of sin is present misery.

Verse 16

How often is even valuable knowledge frittered away from the want of prudent application! We must ponder the time, measure, helps, and means of dealing with it, so as to put it out to its full advantage. (Proverbs 15:2 .) And how wide is the sphere for trading with this responsible talent! In daily life, it provides against foreseen dangers (Proverbs 22:3 ), and makes a way to escape in trying difficulties.†1 Not less useful is it in the family economy; in the training of children (Judges 13:8-12 ); in the "guidance of affairs" (Proverbs 14:1 ); in looking well to household occupations. (Proverbs 31:27 .) Must we not also deal with it in the Church; in a wise accommodation to circumstances (Galatians 2:2 ); in the conviction of gainsayers (Titus 1:9 ); in forbearing with the prejudices of the weak (Acts 15:22-29 ); in the exercise of Christian admonition? (Romans 15:14 .) The want of it is the source of an unstable profession. In understanding we are children, not men. (1 Corinthians 14:20 .) Most precious therefore is "the word of knowledge," as "the manifestation of the Spirit given to us to profit withal." (1 Corinthians 12:7 .) Greatly also do we need this gift in our intercourse with the world; to avoid occasions of stumbling;†2 to mark seasonable times of reproof;†3 to refrain from needless offense.†4 Nay — even in the political world what need have we of "understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do!" (1 Chronicles 12:32 .) Thus to deal with knowledge in this diversified application, is the responsibility of a prudent man of God. (Proverbs 14:8, Proverbs 14:15 .)

From the want of this prudence, the fool layeth open his folly, he pours out his wrath. (Proverbs 12:16 . Numbers 22:29-30 .) He vaunts out his vanity. (1 Samuel 17:44 .) He exposes his thoughtlessness. (Matthew 14:7 .) He exercises no judgment (Proverbs 18:13 ), and fills his sphere of influence with mischief.

Let us study the minute details of our Master’s well-filled life. He shall deal prudently (Isaiah 52:13 .). This was his distinctive character. The Spirit of prudence was the furniture for his work. (Isaiah 11:2-3 .) How gloriously did it shine forth in the confounding of his enemies (Matthew 21:24 ; Matthew 22:42-46 ), and in tender sympathy with his afflicted people! (Isaiah 50:4 .) How good is it to have our knowledge disciplined by his teaching, and consecrated to his service!

Footnotes:

†1 Acts 16:37-38; Acts 22:25 ; Acts 23:7 .

†2 Ezra 8:22. Nehemiah 6:11 .

†3 Proverbs 9:7-8; Proverbs 15:23 . 1 Samuel 25:36 . Amos 5:13 . Matthew 7:6 .

†4 Nehemiah 2:5. Speaking of his land before a heathen King, in reference not to the God of Israel, but to the sepulchres of his fathers.

Verse 17

A messenger proves his character by his neglect or discharge of his trust. A wicked messenger betrays his trust (Luke 16:1 ), damages his master (Proverbs 10:26 . Matthew 25:26 ), and, as a just recompense, falls into mischief. Faithfulness is the servant’s glory, and his master’s gain. He brings and receives a blessing. Gehazi’s unfaithfulness brought him into mischief. (2 Kings 5:26-27 .) Eliezer, "shewing all good fidelity," was blessed himself, and health to his master. (Genesis 24:33-56 .)

But to speak of the messenger and ambassador of the LORD. (Malachi 2:7 . 2 Corinthians 5:20 .) What words can tell the awful mischief of the wicked messenger, ignorant of the worth of his commission, and utterly careless in the discharge of it! Yet the mischief returns upon his own head; laden as he is with the guilt of the blood of souls; himself overwhelmed in the eternal damnation of those, who have perished through his neglect. (Ezekiel 3:17-18 . 1 Corinthians 9:16 .) Faithfulness marks the true ambassador. (1 Corinthians 4:1-2 . 1 Thessalonians 2:3-6 .) He "shuns not to declare the whole counsel of God." (Acts 20:27 ); not obtruding offensive truths in unnatural prominence; but not withholding them in their just scriptural proportion. He condescends to the capacities of his people: but he will not humour their prejudices or antipathies. He "handles not the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth he commends himself to every man’s conscience in the sight of God." (2 Corinthians 4:2 ; 2 Corinthians 2:17 .) "The tongue of such an ambassador" is health (Proverbs 12:18 ) both to himself and to his people. (Job 33:23-26 .) "The wilderness rejoices" under his fertilizing blessing (Isaiah 35:1 ); and the burst of joy and peace is heard on every side "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him, that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace!"

Verse 18

The instruction of discipline is God’s ordinance. Little do those who refuse it know, what a blessing they cast away! (Hebrews 12:10-11 .) Poverty and shame are often the Lord’s rod for his wayward children (Luke 15:12-16 ); two dreaded evils — the one bringing them to want; the other hiding their heads; both disappointing "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life." (1 John 2:16 .) Young persons! learn to dread the liberty of being left to your own choice. Dread the first step in the downward course, refusing instruction — Remember your birth, "as the wild ass’s colt." (Job 11:12 .) Know your besetting temptation, "as the horse and the mule" (Psalms 32:9 ), impatient of restraint. If godly remonstrance be slighted, all may end in poverty and shame, embittered with the poignant sting of death-bed remorse. (Proverbs 5:11 .)

But here is honour contrasted with shame. For reverently to regard reproof will ensure honour from man. (Proverbs 25:12 .) Honour from God will be abundant. "If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons." (Hebrews 12:7 .) If we be humbled under his reproof, we shall be raised to his throne. (1 Peter 5:6 .) Pleasant indeed are his words to his well-disciplined child. To have our ears open to receive discipline, is to walk in the path of life and happiness (Proverbs 6:23 . Job 36:10-12 ); the honour of conformity to our Divine Savior. (Hebrews 5:8 .) Man’s pride deems it a degradation to receive reproof. God counts it "brutish to hate it." (Proverbs 12:1 .) Which judgment is according to truth and right?

Verse 19

This must be limited to "the desire of the righteous."†1 As that is "only good," it "will be granted" (Proverbs 11:23 ; Proverbs 10:24 ); and the accomplishment is sweet to the soul. Infinitely sweeter will be the full, the eternal, accomplishment — "I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness." (Psalms 17:15 .)

May not all enjoy this sweetness? All might, but all will not, be happy. The object is so revolting to the "enmity of the carnal mind." Perhaps those, who have been early trained in the ways of God, cannot experimentally estimate the bitterness of this enmity. But what can give a more awful view of this principle than the truth, that what is abomination to God to see, is abomination to the fool to depart from! (Proverbs 15:21 .) A striking figure of heaven and hell, in full contrast; with the great gulf that is fixed between them! Holiness makes heaven; sin makes hell. See then for which place the ungodly are fitting. Hatred of holiness is meetness for hell. Oh! what a mighty change must that be, that can slay the enmity, and make it to the soul an abomination to commit evil, as it now is to depart from it!

Footnotes:

†1 See comments on Proverbs 13:12 .

Verse 20

Every one desires to engrave his own image upon his companions. We naturally therefore take our mold from their society. It is not left to us to determine, whether there shall be any influence; only, what that influence shall be. Walking with the wise — under their instruction, encouragement and example — we shall be wise. Our principles and habits will be fixed, our interest excited, and the resolution formed — "We will go with you, for we have heard that God is with you." (Zechariah 8:23 .) See here the blessing of living in a godly family, hearkening daily to "the wise man’s learning" (Proverbs 16:23 . 1 Kings 10:8 ), or in membership with a Church, where each imparts from his store for the increase and edifying of the body. (Ephesians 4:15-16 .) Mark — young people — the responsibility of the choice of friends. How much hangs upon the determination to be "a companion of all them that fear God, and keep his precepts!" (Psalms 119:63 .) The world may allure, the ungodly may mock, the evil heart may consent to their voice. But seek you strength from God, and resolve to walk with the wise — "as the LORD liveth, and as my soul liveth, I will not leave thee." (2 Kings 2:4 .) Walk with those, whose acquaintance (as Bp. Burnet testified of his intercourse with Abp. Leighton), will be a special talent, to give account of to God.

Joash, while he walked with his wise guardian, was wise. But when, after his guardian’s death, he became a companion of fools, he was destroyed. (2 Chronicles 24.) And how often does the scaffold warn us of the "corruption from evil communications!" (1 Corinthians 15:33 . Psalms 1:1-6 . Psalms 18. - 21.; Psalms 106:28, Psalms 106:35 .) Many a promising professor has been brought step by step to destruction. The horror of sin, the instinctive recoil from it, gradually abates. The fear of God — that cover from sin (Genesis 39:9 . Nehemiah 5:15 ) — is weakened. The hold on the great hopes of the gospel is relaxed. Other objects gain the ascendancy from this disastrous commerce, and the ruin is complete. And when — we might ask — have the godly companied with fools, without injury to their profession, and hazard to their souls? (2 Chronicles 18:3 ; 2 Chronicles 19:2 .) If we can live in a worldly element, without feeling out of our own element; if we can breathe a tainted atmosphere, without sensibility of infection; if we can familiarize ourselves with the absence of religion in the ordinary intercourse of life, is there no ground of alarm, lest unsubdued worldliness should be regaining dominion?

The first warning to sinners just plucked out of the fire, was — "Save yourselves from this untoward generation." (Acts 2:40 .) And the rule will be to the end — "Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them." (Ephesians 5:11 . 2 Corinthians 6:14-16 .) Connection we must often have with them. (1 Corinthians 5:10 .) But let our delight be with the saints of God. (Psalms 16:3 .) God may soon decide for an halting professor. His patience may be exhausted. His justice may take its course; and those, who are now his companions in folly, will be his tormentors in hopeless misery.

Verse 21

’Sinners are sure to find evil at last; the righteous good.’†1 The histories of sin from the beginning — Cain,†2 Achan,†3 Abimelech,†4 Ahab,†5 and his wicked wife,†6 with many others — are solemn demonstrations, that evil pursueth sinners, even when they seem to have found a refuge. (1 Kings 2:28-31 .) The delay even of centuries does not weaken the certainty. (Exodus 17:14 . 1 Samuel 15:3-7 .) As sure as the shadow follows the substance, as the avenger of blood pursued "the manslayer" (Numbers 35:19 ), "evil shall hunt the violent man to overthrow him." (Psalms 140:11 .) Yet often the sinner goes on in his blinded infatuation. ’No one has been witness to his sin. Or no one will make account of it. Or his accusers, being as guilty as himself, will hold their peace; or, should he be discovered, prudence or pleading will secure him from punishment.’†7 And then, though "the iniquity of his heels compasseth him about" (Psalms 49:5 ), he thinks only of present gratification, never looks back, and therefore sees not the evil pursuing him. His blindness thus makes his ruin more certain. (Deuteronomy 29:19-20 . Job 11:20 . 1 Thessalonians 5:3 .) And how dearly are his momentary pleasures purchased at the cost of eternity! (Ecclesiastes 11:9 .)

Not less sure is the good, which shall be repaid to the righteous. (Isaiah 3:10-11 . Romans 2:6-10 .) The evil follows in just retribution. The other is the reward of grace. Not the smallest good — even "a cup of cold water to a disciple" (Matthew 10:42 ), or honour shewn to his servants (Matthew 10:41 . 1 Kings 17:16-23 ) — shall "lose its reward." (Hebrews 6:10 .) And if a single act is thus remembered, much more "a course, a fight," held out to the end. (2 Timothy 4:7-8 .) How manifestly is this the constitution of grace; that when perfect obedience can claim no recompense (Luke 17:10 ), such unworthy, such defiled, work should be so honoured with an infinite, overwhelming acceptance!

Footnotes:

†1 Jermin in loco.

†2 Genesis 4:10-13.

†3 Joshua 7:20-26.

†4 Judges 9:24, Judges 9:56-57 .

†5 1 Kings 21:19 ; 1 Kings 22:38 . 2 Kings 9:26 .

†6 1 Kings 21:23 . 2 Kings 9:30-36 .

†7 Lavater in loco.

Verse 22

Here we have particular instance of the good to be repaid to the righteous. It cannot however be meant as an universal statement. Many good men have no inheritance to leave; or they have no children; or none that survive them; or no children’s children; or this generation may be in poverty. The wealth of the sinner also, instead of being laid up for the just, descends to his posterity for successive generations. (Psalms 17:14 .) Yet Scripture gives many examples of this dispensation of Providence; shewing the blessing of personal godliness to unborn posterity. Abraham left his covenanted inheritance to his children’s children.†1 Caleb’s children inherited their father’s possession.†2 "Although David’s house was not so with God" as he could have desired; yet his lamp continued to burn for upwards of seventeen generations.†3 Often also has the Divine blessing upon the discreet guidance of his affairs (Psalms 112:5 ), and the special promise of Christian liberality (Proverbs 3:9-10 ), preserved the good man’s inheritance. And if there is no earthly substance to leave; yet a church in the house; a family altar; the record of holy example and instruction; and above all, a store of believing prayer laid up for accomplishment, when we shall be silent in the grave — will be an inheritance to our children of inestimable value. For though no trust can be placed in hereditary religion (John 1:13 ); yet the recollection of the path in which their fathers walked, and in which they themselves were trained, may, under God’s grace, continue a godly entail in our families, so that "instead of the fathers may be the children." (Psalms 78:5-6 ; Psalms 45:16 .)

But the good man’s inheritance is also increased from the wealth of the sinner. Laban’s wealth was laid up for Jacob;†4 the spoils of Egypt and Canaan†5 for Israel; Haman’s wealth for Esther and Mordecai.†6 Indeed this appears to have been a prominent feature of the Old Dispensation (Proverbs 28:8 . Job 27:16-17 ); and it will be openly renewed in the latter-day glory of the Church. (Isaiah 61:6 .) Probably therefore the fulfillment is far more frequent than meets the eye. Often also the wealth of the sinner, laid up for the aggrandizement of his own name in his posterity, becomes the portion of the just in their own holy seed; consecrated to the service of their Lord and his Church (Ecclesiastes 2:26 .)

Footnotes:

†1 Genesis 17:7-8. Psalms 112:2 .

†2 Joshua 14:14.

†3 2 Samuel 23:5 . 2 Chronicles 21:7 .

†4 Genesis 31:1, Genesis 31:9, Genesis 31:16 .

†5 Exodus 12:35-36. Joshua 11:14 . Psalms 105:44 .

†6 Esther 8:1-2.

Verse 23

The produce of the soil is the fruit of industry. (Proverbs 12:11 . Genesis 3:19 .) Much food is in the tillage of the poor; because, being wholly dependent on their own exertions, they spare no pains or labour. So that by careful husbandry they may gain support from a small plot; while a large and fertile estate may be destroyed for want of judgment. (Proverbs 24:30-34 .) Indeed, for want of prudent management the richest tillage may come to waste. Egypt with her abundant crops would have been destroyed, but for Joseph’s judgment in preserving the much food in the tillage. (Genesis 41:33-36 .) Solomon’s prudent administration of his household restrained waste and extravagance. (1 Kings 4:27-28 .) Even our Divine Master, in the distribution of the food, directed, that "the fragments should be gathered up, that nothing be lost" (John 6:12 ), or destroyed for want of care and judgment.

But what is the practical and extended application? If talents lie inactive, or if their activity is not wisely directed, a rich harvest is destroyed for want of judgment. The same ruin flows from the neglect of religious advantages. The harvest of grace withers into a famine. Slothful professor! rouse thyself to till the ground; else wilt thou starve for want of food. Then let thy roused energy be directed by a sound judgment; for want of which, the fruits of industry, temporal, intellectual, and spiritual, will run to waste.

Verse 24

Among the many modern theories of education, how often is God’s system overlooked! Yet should not this be our pattern and standard? The rod of discipline is its main character; not harsh severity, but a wise, considerate, faithful exercise; always aiming at the subjugation of the will, and the humbling and purifying of the heart. Here however God and man are at issue. Man often spares the rod, because he loves the child. This at least he calls love. But is not our Father’s love to his children inconceivably more yearning than that of an earthly parent? Yet does he not spare the rod — "What son is he, whom the Father chasteneth not?" (Hebrews 12:7 .) Is the rod the proof of his hatred? "Whom the LORD loveth, he chasteneth." (Hebrews 12:6 . Deuteronomy 8:5 . Revelation 3:19 .) Nay — he gives us his Divine judgment — He that spareth the rod, hateth the child. Does he not act at least as if he hated him; omitting a duty so necessary for his welfare; winking at the indulgence of vicious habits and a wayward will, so surely issuing in bitter sorrow?†1 Is not this delivering him up to his worst enemy? Better that the child had been trained in the house of strangers, than that he should thus be the unhappy victim of the cruelty of parental love.

The discipline of our children must therefore commence with self-discipline. Nature teaches to love them much. But we want a controlling principle, to teach us to love them wisely. The indulgence of our children has its root in self-indulgence. We do not like putting ourselves to pain. The difficulties indeed can only be known by experience. And even in this school one parent cannot measure the trials of another. But all our children are children of Adam. "Foolishness is bound up in their hearts." (Proverbs 22:15 . Genesis 8:21 .) All choose from the first dawn of reason, the broad road of destruction. (Isaiah 53:6 .) And can we bear the thought, that they should walk in that road? We pray for their conversion. But prayer without teaching is mockery, and Scripture teaching implies chastening.†2 Discipline therefore must be. All need the rod, some again and again. Yet it must be the father’s rod, yearning over his chastened child (Psalms 103:13 ), even while he dares "not spare him for his crying." (Proverbs 19:18 .) The rod without affection is revolting tyranny.

But often do we hear mourning over failure. And is not this the grand reason? We do not chastise betimes. (Proverbs 19:18 .) Satan begins with the infant in arms! (Psalms 58:3 . Isaiah 48:8 .) The cry of passion is his first stir of the native corruption. Do we begin as early? Every vice commences in the nursery. The great secret is, to establish authority in the dawn of life; to bend the tender twig, before the knotty oak is beyond our power.†3 A child, early trained by parental discipline, will probably preserve the wholesome influence to the end of life.

But fearful indeed is the difficulty, when the child has been the early master; to begin chastening, when the habit of disobedience has been formed and hardened; to have the first work to do, when the child is growing out of childhood, and when the unreserved confidence needs to be established. Rarely indeed does this late experiment succeed: while the severity necessary to enforce it is not less dangerous than painful. "It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth." (Lamentations 3:27 .)

Footnotes:

†1 Proverbs 29:15.1 Samuel 3:13. 1 Kings 1:6 ; 1 Kings 2:25 . Compare 2 Samuel 13:39 ; 2 Samuel 18:33 .

†2 The Scripture term combines chastening with instruction — LXX. Proverbs 13:18 . Ephesians 6:4 . Hebrews 12:6 . Compare Psalms 94:12 ; Psalms 119:67, Psalms 119:71 .

†3 Principiis obsta; sero medicina paratur,

Cum mala per longas convaluere moras. — Ovid.

Verse 25

This is one of the many proofs, that "the righteous is more excellent than his neighbour." (Proverbs 12:26 .) Temporal blessings are assured, so far as they are really good for him; whether little or much; enough to satisfy his wants, not to "fulfill his lusts." (Proverbs 10:3 . Psalms 34:10 ; Psalms 37:3, Psalms 37:18 .) Indeed ’he can never want a sufficiency, because his desires are moderate, and he makes a temperate use of God’s blessings.’†1 He therefore shall eat to his satisfying, while the wicked shall want. Jacob was fed with the best of the land, while the Egyptians were destitute. (Genesis 47:11-13 .) Elijah was fed, first by ravens, afterwards by a widow, when the wicked nation were in extremity. (1 Kings 17:1-11 ; 1 Kings 18:5 .) The fare of the righteous may be coarse, and that of the wicked "sumptuous." But did not Daniel and his friends eat their pulse with more satisfaction, than their fellow-captives did their richer dainties? (Daniel 1:12-16 .) And — as to higher food and heavenly satisfaction, Christ is a substitute for everything; nothing for Him. — ’If then’ — as the noble Luther declares — ’we live here by begging our bread, is not this well recompensed, that we are nourished with the food of angels, with eternal life, and Christ himself?’†2

Such a chaos of desires is the soul of the wicked, that no abundance can satisfy his want. Ahab’s crown could give him no rest, without Naboth’s vineyard. (1 Kings 21:1-4 . Job 20:20, Job 20:22 .) So full is the ungodly heart of insatiable cravings! (Psalms 17:14 . Isaiah 65:13-14 . Hosea 4:10 . Micah 6:14 .) But how intolerable will be this conscious want throughout eternity, when a drop of water to cool the tormented tongue shall be denied! (Luke 16:24 .)

Footnotes:

†1 Bishop Patrick.

†2 Luther on Psalms 132:16 . Compare Psalms 36:8 . John 6:35, John 6:55 .

Bibliographical Information
Bridges, Charles. "Commentary on #REF". Bridges' Commentary on Proverb. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbp/proverbs-13.html. 1846.
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