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Their company or manner of life.
Studieth destruction; how they may oppress and destroy others, which yet at last falls upon their own heads.
There is no need that thou shouldst raise thyself and family by ruining others, as the manner of wicked men is, which thou mayst more easily and effectually do by wisdom, and the fear of God.
Knowledge; which in Scripture phrase includes the love and practice of that which we know.
Is strong; is courageous and resolute, and able by wisdom to do greater things than others can accomplish by their own strength.
War is better managed by wisdom than by strength. So this proves what he said in the last verse.
Wisdom is too high for a fool; either,
1. Really, it is above his reach or capacity. Or,
2. In his opinion; he judgeth it too hard for him, he despairs of attaining it, he pretends the impossibility of it, because he will not put himself to the charge or trouble of getting it; as, on the contrary, wisdom is said to be easy to him that understandeth, Proverbs 14:6, because he seriously giveth his mind to it, and therefore easily and certainly attains to it.
For a fool; for a wilful fool, or a wicked man, whose lusts enfeeble and darken his mind, and make it incapable of wisdom.
He openeth not his mouth in the gate; either,
1. He can say nothing for himself when he is accused before the magistrate, for which he gives frequent occasion. Or,
2. He knows not how to speak acceptably and profitably in the public assembly among wise men.
Heb. a master of mischief. The sense is, Though he cover his wicked devices with fair pretences, and would be better esteemed, yet he shall be noted and branded with that infamy which is due to him.
The thought of foolishness is sin; the very inward thought or contrivance of evil, of which he spake Proverbs 24:8, even before it break forth into action, it is a sin in God’s sight, and it is hateful to God. Or
foolishness is put for foolish or wicked men, by comparing this with the next clause where the scorner is opposed to it. So the sense is, All the thoughts of wicked men are only evil, and that continually, as is said of man in his corrupt estate, Genesis 6:5, and therefore abominable to God.
The scorner; he who not only deviseth and practiseth wickedness, but obstinately persists in it, and rejects all admonitions against it.
Is an abomination to men; is abominable not only to God, as all sinners are, but to all sober men.
If thou faint; if thou art impatient, and unable to bear sufferings; if thy resolution flag, and thou givest way to despondency or dejection of mind. Is small, Heb. is narrow; it lives in a little compass; it is as strait as thy condition is; for there is an elegant allusion in the Hebrew words. The sense is, This is a sign that thou hast but little Christian strength or courage, for that is best known by adversity.
To deliver them, when it is in thy power to do it lawfully.
Drawn unto death, to wit, unjustly, or by the violence of lawless men.
That are ready to be slain; that are in present danger of death or destruction.
We knew it not; I was ignorant either of his innocency, or of his extreme danger, or of my power to relieve him.
Consider it; that this is only a frivolous excuse, and that the true reason of thy neglect was thy want of true love to thy brother, whose life thou wast by the law of God and of nature obliged to preserve, and thy sinful self-love, and a carnal fear of some mischief or trouble which might befall thee in the discharge of thy duty.
He that keepeth thy soul; God, who is the preserver of men, Job 7:20, who daily doth, and who only can, keep thee both in and from the greatest dangers. And this favour of God may be here mentioned, partly, as a strong obligation upon him to preserve him who is made after God’s image, and whom God hath commanded him to love and preserve; partly, as an encouragement to the performance of his duty herein from the consideration of God’s special care and watchfulness over those that do their duty; and partly, to intimate to them the danger of the neglect of this duty, whereby they will forfeit God’s protection over themselves, and expose themselves to manifold dangers and calamities. Or, as others render it, and as the Hebrew verb is frequently used, he that observeth thy soul, that seeth all the secret thoughts and inward motions of the heart; which exposition is favoured both by the following words, doth not he know it? which agrees better to God’s observing than to his preserving a man’s soul; and by the former clause, to which this translation doth more exactly answer, the same thing being here repeated in other words, after the manner of these sacred writers.
Shall not he render to every man according to his works? God will certainly deal with thee as thou hast dealt with him, either rewarding thy performance of this duty, or punishing thy neglect of it.
This is not a command, but a concession, and is here expressed only to illustrate the following verse. Honey in those parts was excellent, and a usual and an acceptable food. See Deuteronomy 8:8; Judges 14:18; 1 Samuel 14:25.
When thou hast found it; whereby he implies that there is indeed some difficulty and trouble in the pursuit of wisdom, but that it is abundantly compensated with the sweetness and advantage of it when a man arrives at it.
Then there shall be a reward, Heb. and or also there is a reward. It is not only as good as honey, sweet for the present, but it is infinitely better, bringing a sure and everlasting reward with it.
Lay not wait; do him no injury, either by subtle and secret devices, or, as it follows, by manifest violence.
Against the dwelling of the righteous; against his person, or family, or possession.
1. Into sin. Or, rather,
2. Into calamities, of which he evidently speaks, both in the foregoing verse, and in the opposite and following branch of this verse, and so this word is used in the next verse, and Psalms 37:24; Isaiah 24:20; Jeremiah 25:27; Amos 8:14; Micah 7:8, &c. And so this is fitly alleged as a just reason to dissuade wicked men from their unjust attempts against righteous men, because they should not succeed in them; and although they might by God’s permission bring them into some distress for a thee, yet God would deliver them out of their hands, and they should be disappointed of their hopes.
Seven times, i.e. frequently.
Into mischief; into unavoidable and irrecoverable destruction, ofttimes in this life, and infallibly in the next.
Falleth, to wit, into mischief, as in the former verse. Please not thyself in his destruction; which plainly shows that the love of our enemies is a precept of the old law as well as of the gospel. See Exodus 23:4,Exodus 23:5.
Understand, upon thee, which is implied in the Hebrew phrase, such defects being usual in that concise language, Psalms 84:11; Proverbs 19:1, and oft elsewhere. This consideration strikes at the root of that sinful and inhuman disposition, which is an expectation of safety or advantage to himself by his enemy’s downfall, which, saith he, by this very mean thou shalt lose, for thine enemy shall be raised, and thy danger greatly increased, by thy provoking both God and him against thee.
Fret not thyself; which translation of the word is confirmed by the parallel word in the following clause.
Because of evil men; for their present impunity and good success.
There shall be no reward to the evil man; all his hopes and happiness shall quickly and eternally perish, and he shall have the share in those solid felicities and blessed recompences of a better life which thou shalt enjoy; therefore thou hast no reason to envy him.
The candle of the wicked shall be put out; all their comfort and glory shall cease.
Fear thou the Lord and the king; honour and obey both God and the king, and all in authority. He puts God before the king, because God is to be served in the first place, and our obedience is to be giver, to kings only in subordination to God, and not in those things which are contrary to the will and command of God, as is manifest both from plain Scripture, as Acts 5:29, and from the judgment and practice of wise and sober heathens.
Meddle not with them, Heb. mix not thyself with them, either in their counsels and practices, or in familiar conversation, that are given to change; that love or use changes; that are unstable in their obedience to God or to the king, and are prone to rebellion against either of them. Those men that wickedly forsake God, and break his laws, are said to change their God, Jeremiah 2:11, and to
change God’s judgments and ordinances, Isaiah 24:5; Ezekiel 5:6.
Who knoweth? who can conceive how sore and sudden it will be?
The ruin of them both; of them that fear not God, and of them that fear not the king, for they have two potent and terrible enemies; and therefore if they will not obey them out of conscience, as their duty binds them, yet they should do it at least for their own sakes, and for fear of those severe punishments which they will certainly inflict upon rebels.
These things also, these proverbs or counsels here following to the end of the chapter, no less than those hitherto mentioned,
belong to the wise; are worthy of the consideration, and fit for the use, of them who are or would be wise; for only such are capable of understanding and improving these proverbs, as was noted, Proverbs 1:5-7, and elsewhere. To have respect of persons in judgment; for judges to determine controversies partially, according to the quality of the persons, and not according to the merits of the cause.
He that saith, to wit, publicly, and in judgment, as he now said, and as appears by the publicness of the curse following upon it, for people or nations do neither observe nor hate every man who saith thus privately.
Thou art righteous, that justify wicked men in their unrighteous courses.
Nations shall abhor him, partly for the grossness and odiousness of the crime, and partly for the great and general mischief which such practices bring to civil societies.
That rebuke him; that publicly and judicially rebuke and condemn the wicked.
Delight; the peace of a good conscience, and the comfort of a good name.
A good blessing; which the people shall wish, and by their prayers obtain, from God for them; which is fitly opposed to the people’s curse in the last verse.
Every man shall kiss his lips, shall highly respect and love him, of which kissing was a sign,
that giveth a right answer; who being called to speak, either as a judge, or witness, or otherwise, in weighty matters, speaks pertinently, and plainly, and truly, to the conviction and satisfaction of the hearers.
This is a domestical precept, requiring both industry and prudence in the management of a man’s concerns, that he take care in the first place to furnish himself with cattle and the fruits of the field, which are necessary for his subsistence, and after that he may procure such things as are for ornament and comfort, such as the building of a convenient house is.
Be not a witness against thy neighbour, either in judgment or in private conversation, without cause; rashly or falsely, without just and sufficient cause.
Deceive not neither thy neighbour, to whom thou hast made a show of friendship, nor the judge, nor any other bearers, with false information. Or this clause forbids flattering him to his face, as the former forbids slandering him behind his back.
Say not within thyself; give not way to any such thoughts or passions.
I will render to the man according to his work; I will repay him all his calumnies and injuries.
I learned wisdom by his folly, and by his gross idleness was provoked to greater care and diligence.
See this and the following verse in Proverbs 6:10,Proverbs 6:11.
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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Proverbs 24". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20