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A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger. The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright: but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness. The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good. A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit. A fool despiseth his father's instruction: but he that regardeth reproof is prudent. In the house of the righteous is much treasure: but in the revenues of the wicked is trouble.
I should not think it necessary to make any break in the reading of those proverbs, were it not that the Reader thereby may be prompted to make a pause here and there, to ponder over the golden words, and to gather from these precious sentences, both the spiritual and moral improvements from them, as he passeth on. And, the Reader will find, if he maketh a pause after every verse, more or less, that there is scarce one, but what, without violence to the expressions, carries with it a sweet gospel signification. And, surely it is both gracious and blessed, when we can thus bring with us the New Testament into the Old. Thus for example, if we read the several verses we have gone through in this chapter, what can induce a soft answer to turn away wrath, until that our poor nature is regenerated and we have the Spirit of Christ. It is by the Spirit only, we are told, that we can mortify the deeds of the body; and by his influences that we put off all these anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of our mouth. Romans 8:9-13 ; Colossians 3:8 So again, the proverb saith, that the tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright. Yes! when the Lord hath done by the sinner as by the prophet, laid the live coal taken from the Holy Altar upon his mouth, and touched the lips, his iniquity is taken away and his sin purged. Isaiah 6:7 . But without this, who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one. Job 14:4 . Reader! if through a gospel medium we thus read the Proverbs, we shall find them words fitly spoken, like apples of gold in pictures of silver. Proverbs 25:11 .
The lips of the wise disperse knowledge: but the heart of the foolish doeth not so. The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD: but the prayer of the upright is his delight. The way of the wicked is an abomination unto the LORD: but he loveth him that followeth after righteousness. Correction is grievous unto him that forsaketh the way: and he that hateth reproof shall die. Hell and destruction are before the LORD: how much more then the hearts of the children of men? A scorner loveth not one that reproveth him: neither will he go unto the wise. A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.
I should apprehend that the mirth here spoken of, means the true joy of the soul, arising from the consciousness of being at peace with God. There can be no mirth, no real comfort while the soul is at enmity with God by wicked works. Solomon hath expressed his sense of this passage, I apprehend, in another, where he saith, Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart, for God now accepteth thy works. Yes! a soul accepted in Jesus, may indeed both eat and drink the common bread and water, for the body's sustenance, with joy, and the sacred bread and wine, in token of communion with Jesus, for the soul's health, with delight, when brought nigh by the blood of the cross! Here is a solid foundation for the most heart-felt joy, and for making the countenance always cheerful. Ecclesiastes 9:7 .
The heart of him that hath understanding seeketh knowledge: but the mouth of fools feedeth on foolishness. All the days of the afflicted are evil: but he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast. Better is little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble therewith. Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith.
Better is it to sit down to the poorest table where Jesus is, and his love manifested in blessing the scanty fare, than all the luxuries of unsanctified fulness. Reader! if we eye Christ in everything, then shall we truly enjoy Christ in everything.
A wrathful man stirreth up strife: but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife. The way of the slothful man is as an hedge of thorns: but the way of the righteous is made plain. A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish man despiseth his mother. Folly is joy to him that is destitute of wisdom: but a man of understanding walketh uprightly. Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellors they are established. A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it! The way of life is above to the wise, that he may depart from hell beneath. The LORD will destroy the house of the proud: but he will establish the border of the widow. The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the LORD: but the words of the pure are pleasant words. He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house; but he that hateth gifts shall live. The heart of the righteous studieth to answer: but the mouth of the wicked poureth out evil things. The LORD is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous. The light of the eyes rejoiceth the heart: and a good report maketh the bones fat. The ear that heareth the reproof of life abideth among the wise. He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul: but he that heareth reproof getteth understanding. The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility.
Every word, more or less, in these verses is precious, and as I before remarked, if read with reference to the gospel, cannot fail of leading the soul to Jesus. I hope the Reader will not have neglected this all the way as we have come along through these proverbs. He will have found, I am persuaded, if so, upon many occasions, the truth of what we have just read in this chapter, a word spoken in due season, how good is it.
READER! pause with me over the review of this chapter, and let us mark together the improvements which an heart, taught by grace, can readily make out of it. To an enlightened eye, which discerns Christ in the whole field of scripture, there is not a flower in it but will yield both beauty and sweetness to our taste. And, like the bee, we shall gather by faith food from all. But, if the eye be not enlightened to see him, many a lovely step, which would lead to the Plant of renown, we shall never take; but like the wild beast of the wood, tread the whole under our feet. Oh! for grace, so to read the scriptures, as to discover in them the mysteries of the kingdom. All, in every part, treat of Jesus in his Person, offices, relations, characters, ordinances, communion. Let us, my brother, continually pray for this grace, to lead us, and to guide us, that we may walk in the Spirit, and be taught by the Spirit. For, if the Holy Ghost bring us thoroughly to be acquainted with our Lord, no part of the divine word will suffer us, at any time to turn from it, until that we have discovered Jesus in it. And, when, in going over the field of the scriptures, like the merchant-man, Jesus himself speaks of seeking goodly pearls, we have found Him the one of great price, of whom Moses and the Prophets did write; such a Pearl, indeed, in whom all grace, glory, yea, God himself, in all his fulness dwells, being once found; oh! how gladly shall we go and sell all that we have, and part with all that before we valued the possession of, to obtain him, and to acquire every day an increasing knowledge of him, and communion with him, whom truly to know, and as truly to enjoy, is life eternal.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Proverbs 15". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany