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(1) Whoso loveth instruction loveth knowledge.—Rather, he that loveth knowledge loveth discipline, i.e., to put himself in the place of a learner; while “he that hateth reproof,” who will not take advice, is “brutish,” “nourishing a blind life within the brain,” like the animals who are incapable of improvement.
(2) A good man.—The corresponding phrase, “a man of wicked devices,” i.e., who plots against his neighbour, fixes the sense of “good” as signifying “benevolent” (comp. Psalms 73:1); and for the sentiment, Luke 6:35.
(4) A virtuous woman.—Literally, of power, i.e., of ability and character, like the wife described in Proverbs 31:0, or the “able” men of Exodus 18:21.
(5) The thoughts of the righteous are right.—Or, justice. (Comp. Matthew 12:35.)
(6) The words of the wicked are to lie in wait for blood—i.e., are calculated for this end.
The mouth of the upright shall deliver them—i.e., those for whom the wicked lie in wait.
(7) The wicked are overthrown.—By the righteous judgments of God (Psalms 37:35-36), or by the storms of temptation and trouble, which, when they come, overwhelm the house built on the sand of earthly hopes, and not on the “Rock of ages.” (Isaiah 26:4; Matthew 7:24, sqq.)
(8) According to his wisdom—i.e., intelligent observance of the ends to be pursued in life, and the best means of attaining to them; in other words, finding out the will of God and how to fulfil it.
Shall be despised.—Comp. 1 Samuel 2:30.
(9) He that is despised.—That is, lowly in his eyes and those of others, as David (1 Samuel 18:23); if “he hath a servant,” that is, if he be in easy circumstances. It has been remarked that “the first necessity of an Oriental in only moderate circumstances is a slave.”
He that honoureth himself.—Boasts of his pedigree, it may be, and is all the while starving.
(10) Regardeth the life of his beast.—Rather, knows their feelings (comp. Exodus 23:9), and so can feel for them. God’s own care for the brute creation (Jonah 4:11) was shown in the merciful provisions of the Law, by which cattle shared the rest of the Sabbath, and had their portion of the corn as it was being trodden out (Deuteronomy 25:4).
Tender mercies.—What the wicked calls tenderness and kind treatment is really cruelty, as he takes no thought for the comfort of his beast.
(11) Vain persons.—Or, things, such as “searching for hid treasures” (Proverbs 2:4).
(12) The wicked desireth the net of evil men—i.e., to enrich himself by prey as they do; but the “root of the righteous yieldeth fruit,” by their own exertion they gain all they require without injuring others.
(13) The wicked is cursed by the transgression of his lips.—For his words, the product of his evil heart, while designed to injure others, often bring the offender himself into trouble (Psalms 7:16), and moreover, as being the true index of the inner life of the soul, are being stored up as a witness against him at the day of judgment” (Matthew 12:37). The “just man,” on the contrary, avoids all this “trouble.”
(14) A man shall be satisfied with good by the fruit of his mouth . . .—Even in this life the wise counsels and kindly deeds by which others are aided, the “bread cast upon the waters” (Ecclesiastes 11:1), return to the giver in the shape of love and respect, and. it may be, of similar aid; while the full recompense, “good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over,” will come later, at the great day of retribution.
(16) A fool’s wrath is presently known.—He cannot contain himself if he thinks himself slighted or injured; the “prudent man,” on the other hand, “covereth shame,” not noticing an insult at the time, but waiting for a convenient opportunity of telling the offender of his fault and bringing him to a better mind (Matthew 18:15).
(18) There is that speaketh.—Rather, that babbleth, like the piercing of a sword, that chatters on, not noticing or caring how he may wound the feelings of others by his inconsiderate remarks.
The tongue of the wise is health.—Or, healing; soothing the wounds made by the other’s indiscriminate chatter.
(19) A lying tongue is but for a moment.—Being detected and silenced by the providence of God, (Comp. Psalms 64:7-8.)
(20) Deceit is in the heart . . .—Those who plot and devise evil against others begin by deceiving them, and end by deceiving themselves also; whereas the “counsellors of peace,” who seek the good of their neighbours, bring joy to them and to themselves also through the satisfaction derived from a good conscience.
(21) There shall no evil happen to the just.—Comp. our Lord’s promise as to temporal matters for those who “seek the kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33). and for God’s care in spiritual matters, 1 Corinthians 10:13.
(23) A prudent man concealeth knowledge.—Till the right opportunity for bringing it forth presents itself; while “the heart of fools proclaimeth foolishness,” cannot help blurting out and displaying its ignorance and folly, which it mistakes for wisdom.
(24) Under tribute.—Like the descendants of the Amorites and other former inhabitants of Canaan, by whose forced labour Solomon executed his great works (1 Kings 9:20-21). A Hebrew from poverty might be reduced to slavery (Lev. xxv, 39),
(25) Heaviness in the heart of man maketh it stoop.—But, as this is not favourable to the spiritual life, we have warnings against excessive anxiety (Matthew 6:34), and exhortations to cast all our care upon God (1 Peter 5:7; Psalms 37:5) as a religious duty, that trusting in Him, and so having from Him the “peace which the world cannot give,” our hearts may be “set to obey” His commandments.
(26) The righteous is more excellent than his neighbour.—Though, perhaps, inferior to him in worldly advantages. Or, it may signify, the just man is a guide to his neighbour, showing him “the way wherein he should walk;” the wicked, on the other hand, so far from guiding others, himself helplessly wanders.
(27) The slothful man roasteth not that which he took in hunting.—Or, does not net, (i.e., secure) his prey; but a valuable possession to a man is diligence.
(28) In the way of righteousness is life.—Comp. above on Proverbs 10:2, “Righteousness delivereth from death.”
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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Proverbs 12". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25