but the belly of the wicked shall want; not only spiritual food, which he has no appetite for, but corporeal food; he shall starve in the midst of plenty, not having a heart to put that food into his mouth, and fill his belly with it, as nature requires, through his covetousness; or, having spent his substance in rioting and wantonness, wants bread to satisfy the craving of his appetite.
but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands; the Vulgate Latin version adds, "being built"; this she does by her idleness and laziness; by her lavish and profuse way of living; by her negligence and want of economy; by her frequenting playhouses, and attention to other diversions; and so her family and the affairs of it go to wreck and ruin. Thus the apostate church of Rome, who is called a "woman", and may be said to be a "foolish" one, being a wicked one and a harlot; see Revelation 17:2; pulls down the true church and house of God with both hands, as much as in her lies, by her false doctrines, and superstitious worship and idolatry; and by her murders and massacres of the saints, with the blood of whom she is said to be drunk; nay, not only pulls it down with her hands, but treads upon it with her feet, Revelation 11:2. So likewise all false teachers do as this foolish woman does, by their impure lives and impious doctrines, defile the temple of God, subvert the faith of many; by means of whom the tabernacle of David, or house of God, is fallen down; the ruins and breaches of which Christ will repair in the latter day.
(y) "sapientes mulieres", Munster, Baynus; so the Septuagint and Arabic versions.
but he that is perverse in his ways despiseth him; either God himself, whom the upright walker fears; for he that acts perversely, contrary to the law of God, or transgresses that, and goes out of the way, despises God the lawgiver, tramples upon his authority, stretches out his hand, and commits acts of hostility against him; and he that perverts the Gospel of Christ despises his ministers, and despises Christ himself, and him that sent him. Or else the meaning is, that such a perverse walker despises him that fears the Lord; so Aben Ezra interprets it; and such are generally the contempt of wicked men: to this sense is the Vulgate Latin version,
"he that walks in a right way, and fears God, is despised by him that walks in an infamous way;''
but the Septuagint and Arabic versions render it, "is despised": meaning the perverse man.
but the lips of the wise shall preserve them; from speaking such proud and haughty things against God and men; or from being hurt by the tongues of men or their own; yea, what coaxes out of their mouth is confounding and destructive to their enemies, Revelation 11:5.
"where there are no scholars of the wise men, there is no instruction in the constitutions.''
But much better is the mystical sense, thus; that where there are no ministers of the Gospel, there is no food for souls. Oxen are an emblem of faithful and laborious ministers. The ox was one of the emblems in the cherubim, which design Gospel ministers; the names by which oxen are called agree with them. Here are two words used of them in the text; the one comes from a root which signifies to "teach", "lead", "guide", and "govern"; and the same word for "oxen" signifies "teachers", "leaders", "guides", and "governors"; names which most properly belong to ministers of the word: the other word comes from a root which signifies to "see", to "look"; because these creatures are sharp sighted. Ministers are seers, overseers, and as John's living creatures in Revelation 4:6; one of which was an ox, were full of eyes, within, and before, and behind. So ministers of the word had need to have good sight, to look into the Scriptures, and search them; to look to themselves and to their flock, and to look out to discover enemies, and danger by them; and to look into their own experience, and into things both past and to come. There is a likeness in ministers to these creatures, as to the nature of them; they are clean, creatures, as such should be that minister in holy things; and chew the cud, as such should revolve in their minds and constantly meditate upon divine things; and, like them, are patient and quiet under the yoke; and are not only strong to labour, but very laborious in the word and doctrine; submit to the yoke, draw the plough of the Gospel; bring home souls to Christ, to his church, and to heaven; and tread out the corn, the mysteries of grace, out of the sacred writings. Now where there are no such laborious and diligent ministers of the word, as there are none in the apostate church of Rome, there is no spiritual food for the souls of men; but a famine of the word, and men perish for lack of knowledge;
but much increase is by the strength of the ox; as there is a large increase of the fruits of the earth, through the tillage of it by proper instruments; as by the strong and laborious ox, whose strength is employed in ploughing the ground (d) and treading the corn; which is put for all means of husbandry, where that is used or not: so through the unwearied labours of Gospel ministers, the blessing of God attending them, there is much spiritual food; see Proverbs 13:23. There is an increase of converts, a harvest of souls is brought in; and an increase of gifts and of grace, and of spiritual light and knowledge, and plenty of provisions; which spiritual increase, through the ministry of the word, is owing to God, 1 Corinthians 3:6.
(z) "vacuum", V. L. Munster, Pagninus, Mercerus, Gejerus, Amama; so the Syriac version. (a) "Triticum", Baynus. (b) "area", Gussetius, p. 14. Michaelis, Schultens. (c) Sepher Shorash. rad & R. Joseph Kimchi in Abendana in loc. (d) "Fortis arat valido rusticus arva bove", Tibullus, l. 2. Eleg. 2. v. 14.
but a false witness will utter lies; or "blow" (e) them out, and spread them abroad in great plenty; he will not stick to tell them, and, having no conscience, will utter them as fast as he can, with all boldness and confidence; for one that fears not to bear testimony to a falsehood upon oath, will not scruple to lie in common talk. Or the words, "nay" be rendered, "he that uttereth lies will be a false witness"; he that accustoms himself to lying, in his conversation with men in private company, will become a false witness upon occasion in a public court of judicature: such an one is not to be depended on; lesser sins lead to greater, lying to perjury. So false teachers, and the followers of the man of sin, speak lies in hypocrisy, doctrinal ones, which they are given up to believe; and such as do so are false witnesses, deceivers, and antichrist.
(e) "efflabit", Montanus; "efflat", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.
but knowledge is easy unto him that understandeth; the knowledge of Wisdom, or of Christ, is easy to him that has a spiritual understanding given him; the knowledge of the Gospel, and the doctrines of it, is easy to him to whom it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven; there is nothing perverse or froward in the words and doctrines of Christ; they are all plain to man whose understanding is opened by the Spirit of God; especially such as relate to the glory of Christ's person, and to the way of life and salvation by him; see Proverbs 8:8.
when thou perceivest not in him the lips of knowledge; when it is observed that his lips pour out foolishness, what is corrupt and unsavoury, unchaste and filthy; what does not minister grace to the hearers, nor is for the use of edifying, nor any ways improving in useful knowledge, but all the reverse: the Targum is,
"for there is no knowledge in his lips,''
in what is expressed by them; some understand this ironically, and render the words thus, "go right against a foolish man" (f); join in company with him, "and thou shalt not know the lips of knowledge", or learn anything by him; if you have a mind to be ignorant, keep company with a foolish man; so Jarchi and Gersom: or rather to this sense the words may be rendered, "go to a foolish man, seeing thou knowest not the lips of knowledge" (g), since thou dost not approve of wise and knowing men, whose lips would teach knowledge; and despisest the Gospel, and Gospel ministers the pope of Rome, as Cocceius on the text serves, and hear him, what his holiness and infallibility says; or some other false teacher.
(f) "e regione viri stulti", De Dieu; so Gussetius, p. 495. and Schultens (g) "Abi ut stes cora in viro stolido", Cocceius.
but the folly of fools is deceit: or "the wisdom of fools", which the opposition requires, and is meant, and is what the Holy Ghost calls "folly", as elsewhere, 1 Corinthians 3:19; this is itself "deceit"; it is science, falsely so called; it lies in tricking and deceiving; and the issue of it is, not only the deceiving of others, but themselves also: such is the folly of the man of sin and followers, which lies in deceiving the inhabitants of the earth with their sorceries and superstitions, with their lying wonders and miracles; see 2 Thessalonians 2:10, Revelation 13:14.
but among the righteous there is favour: they enjoy the favour of God and man; or "there is good will" (i), good will towards men; they are so far from making a mock at sin, and taking delight in the mischief that comes by it to others, that they are willing to do all good offices unto men, and by love to serve their friends and neighbours: or "there is acceptance" (k); they are accepted with God upon the account of the sin offering, sacrifice, and satisfaction of Christ, which fools mock and despise.
(h) , Aquila & Theodotion in Drusius; "delictum illudit fatuos", Gejerus. (i) "benevoleatia", Montanus, Baynus, Piscator, Mercerus, Gejerus. (k) "Acceptatio", Cocceius, Gussetius.
and a stranger doth not intermeddle with his joy; or "mingle himself with it" (m); he does not share in it or partake of it; this is more especially true of spiritual joy, which, as it is unspeakable to the man that possesses it, it passes the understanding of a natural man; he can form no true idea of it: spiritual joy is what a sensible sinner partakes of upon the Gospel, the joyful sound of salvation, reaching his ears and his heart, at the revelation of Christ in him and to him, as a Saviour; when an application of pardoning grace is made to his soul, and he has a view of the complete righteousness of Christ, and his interest in it, and can see all his sins expiated and stoned for by his sacrifice; when he is favoured with a sight of the fulness of grace in Christ, and of the spiritual and eternal salvation he has wrought out for him; and likewise when he is indulged with a visit from him, and enjoys communion with him; and when he has a glimpse of eternal glory, and a well grounded hope of right unto it, and meetness for it: now a stranger, one that is a stranger to God and godliness, to Christ and the way of salvation by him, to the Spirit and his work of grace upon the heart, to the Gospel and the doctrines of it, to his own heart and the plague of it, to the saints and communion with them; knows nothing at all of the above joy, nor can he interrupt it, nor take it away.
(l) "amaritudine animae suae", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, Mercerus, Cocceius, Gejerus, Michaelis. (m) "non immiscet se", Michaelis, so Tigurine version; "non miscebit sese", Baynus; "non intermiscet se", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.
but the tabernacle of the upright shall flourish: their low and mean cottages, which are put up quickly, like tents movable from place to place, yet shall be established, Proverbs 15:25; their families shall become numerous like a flock of sheep, Psalm 107:41; and their substance increase; they shall flourish in worldly things and grow rich, or however in spirituals, in girls and grace; shall flourish in the courts of the Lord, and tabernacles of the most High, like palm trees and cedars; for the allusion is to the flourishing of trees, Psalm 92:13; especially they will be in such flourishing circumstances in the latter day, when antichrist will be destroyed, and when the tabernacle of God will be with men, Psalm 72:8.
but the end thereof are the ways of death; which lead unto eternal death; for that is the wages of sin, let it appear in what shape it will.
and the end of that mirth is heaviness: sometimes in this life a sinner mourns at last, and mourns for his wicked mirth, or that he has made himself so merry with religious persons and things, and oftentimes when it is too late; so the end of that mirth the fool in the Gospel promised himself was heaviness, when his soul was required of him; this was the case of the rich man who had his good things here, and his evil things hereafter.
and a good man shall be satisfied from himself; shall eat the fruit of his own doings, shall be blessed in his deeds, and have peace and satisfaction therein; though not salvation by them, or for them: he shall be satisfied with the grace of God bestowed on him and wrought in him; and, from a feeling experience of the grace of God within him, shall be satisfied that he has in heaven a better and an enduring substance; or he shall be satisfied "from above himself" (m), from the grace that is in Christ, out of the fulness which is in him; and shall be filled with all the fulness of God he is capable of; and especially in the other world, when he shall awake in his likeness. The Targum is,
"a good man shall be satisfied with his fear;''
and so the Syriac version, with the fear of his soul; it may be rendered, as by the Vulgate Latin version, "a good man shall be above him" (n); that is, above the backslider; shall be better tilled, and be more happy than he.
(m) "de super eo", Montanus; "de super semet", Schultens. (n) "Et super cum erit vir bonus", V. L. De Dieu.
but the prudent man looketh well to his going; or "its going" (o); to the course and tendency of the word he hears, or the doctrine which is proposed to his faith; he considers well whether it is agreeable or is contrary to the perfections of God; whether it derogates from the glory of any of the divine Persons; whether it makes for the magnifying the riches of God's grace, and for the debasing of men; or for the depreciating of the one, and setting up of the other; and whether it is a doctrine according to godliness, or not, that tends to promote holiness of heart and life, or to indulge a loose conversation; and according to these criteria he judges and determines whether he shall believe it or not. Or, "to his going"; that is, to the going of the deceiver and impostor; he observes narrowly the methods he takes, the artifices he makes use of, the cunning sleight by which he lies in wait to deceive; how craftily he walks, and handles the word of God deceitfully; and he takes notice of his moral walk and conversation, and, as our Lord says, "ye shall know them by their fruits", Matthew 7:16. Or else the meaning is, and which seems to be the sense of our version, that he looks well unto, and carefully observes, his own goings; he takes heed to his ways, that they are right; that he is not in ways of his devising and choosing, but in God's ways; in the way of life and salvation by Christ; in the path of faith on him, and in the way of holiness; that he has chosen the way of truth, and walks in that; and that every step he takes in doctrine is according to the word of truth; and that whatever he does in worship is agreeably to the divine rule; and that every path of duty he treads in is according to the same, and as he has Christ for a pattern, and the Spirit for a guide; and that his walk is as becomes the Gospel, worthy of the calling wherein he is called, and that it is circumspect and wise; and such a man may be truly said to be a "prudent" man: the Targum is,
"he attends to his good;''
and so he does.
(o) "gressum illius, sc. sermonis", Baynus, so some in Mercerus.
but the fool rageth, and is confident; he fears neither God nor men, he sets his mouth against both; he "rages" in heart, if not with his mouth, against God and his law, which forbid the practice of such sins he delights in; and against all good men, that admonish him of them, rebuke him for them, or dissuade him from them: and "is confident" that no evil shall befall him; he has no concern about a future state, and is fearless of hell and damnation, though just upon the precipice of ruin; yet, as the words may be rendered, "he goes on confidently", nothing can stop him; he pushes on, regardless of the laws of God or men, of the advices and counsels of his friends, or of what will be the issue of his desperate courses in another world.
and a man of wicked devices is hated; one that hides his anger, covers his resentment, contrives schemes to revenge himself, and waits an opportunity to put them in execution, is justly hateful to God and men.
but the prudent are crowned with knowledge; natural, civil, and spiritual, especially the latter; evangelical knowledge, the knowledge of Christ, and of God in Christ, and of Gospel truths; they are honoured with an acquaintance with them; and they esteem the knowledge of these above all things else, and reckon all things else but loss and dung in comparison of them; they are as a crown unto them, and the knowledge of them is the way to the crown of life; yea, is itself life eternal, Philippians 3:8. Or, they "crown themselves with knowledge" (p); they labour after it, pursue it with eagerness, follow on to know the Lord, and attain to a large share of it; surround, encompass, and lay hold upon it, and gird themselves about with this girdle of truth. Or, "they crown knowledge" (q); do honour to that, by putting it in practice; by adding to it temperance, and every virtue, and by bringing others to it; and are an ornament to it in their lives and conversation; they adorn the doctrine of God their Saviour.
(p) "imponent coronam sibi scientiam", Montanus; "coronant se scientia", Piscator, so Ben Melech. (q) "Coronabunt scientiam", Baynus; "ornant scientiam", Drusius.
and the wicked at the gates of the righteous; or, "come to the gates of the righteous", as the Syriac version supplies it; they come and knock there, stand and wait, or lay themselves down; become prostrate and humble supplicants for relief and protection, as beggars do. This may also respect their attendance at Wisdom's gates, at the gates of Zion, on public ordinances, for counsel and instruction, which before they despised, Proverbs 8:34. The Septuagint version is, "shall serve thy gates"; that is, at them; see Isaiah 60:11.
but the rich hath many friends; or, "many are the lovers of the rich" (r): for the sake of their riches; either for the sake of honour or profit, or because the rich want nothing of them, or because they themselves may gain something by them: this also is observed by the above Jewish commentator to be true of the rich in substance or in wisdom; but the former sense is best; for a wise man, if poor in the world, is but little regarded.
(r) "et amatores divitiis spissi", Schultens; "dilectores autem divitis multi sunt", Piscator. "Donec eris felix, multos numerabis amicos", Ovid. Trist. Eleg. 8. "Dat census honores, census amicitias", ib. Fasti, l. 1. so Phocylides, v. 925, 926.
but he that hath mercy on the poor, happy is he; or,
"that gives to the poor,''
as the Targum; who has compassion on him in his distress, and shows it by relieving him: he that shows favour to the meek and humble ones, as the word (s) may be rendered, and as they generally are that are in affliction and poverty, for these tend to humble men; and such who regard them in their low estate are "happy" or blessed; they are blessed in things temporal and spiritual, and both here and hereafter; see Psalm 41:1.
(s) "modestorum", Montanus, Mercerus; "mansuetos", Cocceius.
but mercy and truth shall be to them that devise good; who devise liberal things, to do good to the poor and needy; to their neighbours, their fellow creatures and fellow Christians: such receive grace and "mercy" at the hands of God, and his "truth" will appear in making good all promises to them; mercy and truth will preserve them from the evil way, and guide them in the right way, so that they shall not err as others do; neither from the doctrines of grace and truth, nor from the practice of them.
(t) "arant", Baynus; "arantibus", Amama; "verbum proprie significat arare", Piscator.
but the talk of the lips tendeth only to penury; or "want" (w), of food and raiment, the common necessaries of life; a man that spends his time in idle talk, boasting of what he can do and does, and yet does nothing, is in a fair way to come to beggary: so all talk about wisdom, and knowledge, and religion, without making use of the proper means of improvement, tends to the poverty of the mind; and generally they are most empty of knowledge, natural or spiritual, that talk and brag most of it; empty casks make the greatest sound; good discourse, wholesome words, sound doctrine, thoroughly digested, tend indeed to edification, to the enriching of the mind; but vain words, the enticing words of men's wisdom; logomachies, striving about words to no profit; and all great swelling words of vanity, which are all mere lip labour; they tend to spiritual poverty and leanness of soul.
(u) "abundantia", Tigurine version, Baynus, Mercerus, Gejerus. (w) "ad defectum", Pagninus, Montanus; "ad egestatem", Tigurine version, Piscator, Cocceius.
but the foolishness of fools is folly; mere folly, extreme folly, just the same as it was; riches make them never the wiser; yea, their folly is oftentimes made more manifest through the ill use they make of their riches; spending them in the gratification of their sinful lusts; and making no use of them for their own improvement in knowledge, or for the good of their fellow creatures. The Targum is,
"the glory of fools is their folly;''
and that is no other than their shame, and in which they glory; such fools are wicked men.
but a deceitful witness speaketh lies; boldly, openly, by wholesale; he blows them out (z), to the ruin of the good names and characters, and to the destruction of the lives, of the innocent; and so a false teacher, one that lies in wait to deceive, speaks lies in hypocrisy, doctrinal lies, to the ruin of the souls of men. The Targum is,
"he that speaketh lies is deceitful;''
he is "deceit" (a) itself, as in the Hebrew text. Such is the man of sin, and such are his emissaries.
(x) "testis veritatis", Montanus, Cocceius, Schultens. (y) "vitas; animam pro vita usurpari notum", Gejerus. (z) "efflat", Tigurine version, Piscator, Gejerus; "spirat", Schultens; "efflabit", Monatnus. (a) "dolus", Montanus, Vatablus; "fraus", Cocceius.
and his children shall have a place of refuge; the children of God, as those that fear him are; the Lord is a place of refuge to them, from the avenger of blood, from the vindictive justice of God; from the storm and tempest of divine wrath, and from the curses of a righteous law; as well as from the rage and persecutions of men.
to depart from the snares of death; sins, transgressions, as Aben Ezra interprets it; these are the works of men's hands, in which they are snared; these are the cords in which they are holden, and so die without instruction; the wages of them are death, even death eternal: likewise there are the snares of the world and of the devil, temptations to sin, with which being ensnared, lead to death; now the fear of the Lord is a means of delivering from and of avoiding those snares, and so of escaping death.
but in the want of people is the destruction of the prince; or, "the consternation" (c) of him; if his people are destroyed in wars his ambition or cruelty has led him to; or they are driven out from his kingdom by persecution or oppression; hence follows a decay of trade, and consequently of riches; lack of cultivation of land, and so want of provision: in course of time there is such a decrease, that, as there are but few to carry on trade and till the land, so to fight for their prince, and defend his country; wherefore, when attacked by a foreign power, he is thrown into the utmost consternation, and is brought to destruction. This will be the case of the prince of darkness, the man of sin, antichrist; who, though however populous he may be, or has been, ruling over tongues, people, and nations, yet before long he will be deserted by them; one nation after another will fall off from him; they and their kings will hate him, make him bare and desolate, and burn him with fire, Revelation 17:15. Some render it, "the consternation of leanness" (d); such consternation as causes leanness in a king.
(b) Zohar in Exod. fol. 67. 3, 4. (c) "formidat princeps", Tigurine version; "consternatio", Cocceius, Michaelis, Schultens. (d) "Consternatio macici", Gussetius, p. 785. "consternatio tabifica", Schultens; "contritio maciei", Gejerus; "terror tenuitatis", Mercerus, Gersom.
but he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly; or is "short of spirit" (f); is soon angry; presently discovers resentment in his words, looks, and gestures; such an one "exalts folly", prefers it to wisdom, sets it above himself, and makes it his master: or he "lifts" it (g) up; exposes his folly to public view, so that it is seen of all men to his disgrace.
(e) "longus iris", Vatablus; "longus naribus", Montanus; "longus narium", Schultens. (f) "brevis spiritu", Montanus, Vatblus. Cocceius, Merceus, Michaelis; "curtus spiritu", Schultens. (g) "attollit", Mercerus, Piscator; "alte proclamat", Schultens; "elevat", Baynus.
but envy the rottenness of the bones; a man that envies the happiness and prosperity of others, this preys upon his own spirits, and not only wastes his flesh, but weakens and consumes the stronger parts of his body, the bones; it is as a "moth" within him, as the Arabic version: the Targum is,
"as rottenness in wood, so is envy in the bones;''
hence Ovid (l) calls it "livor edax", and so Martial (m).
(h) "cor leve", Baynus; "cor lene", Mercerus; "cor lenitatis", Gejerus, so Ben Melech. (i) "Animus sanans", Junius & Tremellius, so the Tigurine version; "sanator", Gussetius, p. 800. (k) "vitae carnium", Montanus; "vita carnium", V. L. Pagninus, Michaelis. (l) Amorum, l. 1. Eleg. 15. v. 1. & de Remed. Amor. l. 1. in fine. (m) Epigr. l. 11. Ephesians 21.
but he that honoureth him hath mercy on the poor; he that is desirous of honouring God, and glorifying him, will give of his substance to the poor; having compassion on him in his necessitous circumstances, will relieve him; and in so doing he honours God, whose image the poor man bears, and who has commanded him so to do. The words may be rendered, "he that hath mercy on the poor honoureth him"; that is, his Maker: so the Targum,
"he that hath mercy on him that suffers injury honoureth him.''
but the righteous hath hope in his death; not in the death of the wicked man, as Aben Ezra, when he shall be delivered, and he can do him no more hurt; but in his own death; he dies as other men; his righteousness, though it delivers him from eternal death, yet not from a corporeal one; though the death of a righteous man is different from others; he dies in Christ, in the faith of him, and in hope of eternal life by him; and to die his death is very desirable: he has a hope of interest in the blessings of grace and glory; which is a good hope through grace; is wrought in him at regeneration; and is founded on that righteousness from whence he is denominated righteous, even the righteousness of Christ; and is of singular use and advantage to him in life: and this grace he exercises at death; it carries him through the valley of death, and above the fears of it; he hopes, though he dies, he shall rise again; and he hopes to be in heaven and happiness, immediately upon his dissolution, and to all eternity; he hopes to see God, be with Christ, angels and good men, for evermore. Jarchi's note is,
"when he dies, he trusts he shall enter into the garden of Eden, or paradise.''
(n) "propter suam malitiam", Pagninus, Mercerus, Gejerus. (o) "In malam suum", Junius & Tremellius, Amama, so some in Mercerus.
but that which is in the midst of fools is made known; the least share of knowledge which such persons have, or think they have, does not lie long in the midst of them; they take every opportunity of showing it to others, or of letting others know what they have attained to; and thereby, instead of getting the character of wise and prudent men, obtain that of fools; for, though a prudent man is communicative of his knowledge to others, it is at proper times, and in proper places, and to proper persons, which fools do not observe; but, without any manner of judgment or discretion, or regard to persons, places, and seasons, vainly thrust out their knowledge, and so proclaim their folly. The Syriac version is,
"in the heart of fools it shall not be known;''
it has no place there.
but sin is a reproach to any people; where vice reigns, iniquity abounds, profaneness, impiety, and immorality of all sorts prevail, a people become mean and despicable; they fall into poverty and contempt; are neither able to defend themselves, nor help their neighbours, and so are despised by them. The word rendered "reproach" most commonly signifies "mercy" or goodness; and some render it, "and the mercy of a people is a sin offering" (p); or as one: or it is so "to the nations"; it is as good as a sacrifice for sin, of which the word is sometimes used, or better, more acceptable to God, "who will have mercy, and not sacrifice", Matthew 9:13; even beneficence and kindness to the poor, the same with righteousness, as before. I think it may be as well rendered, "the piety" or religion "of the nations is sin" (q); it being idolatry, as Aben Ezra observes: such is the religion of the antichristian nations, who worship idols of gold and silver; and though they may afflict themselves, as Gersom remarks of the idolatrous nations, with fasting and penance, with whippings and scourgings; yet it is nothing else but sin, will worship, and superstition.
(p) "beneficentia expiatio est populi", Grotius; "sacrificium expiatorium", Tigurine version; "velut sacrificium pro peccato", Vatablus, Gejerus; "gratuita beneificentia nationibus est aliquid sacrificium peccati expiatorium", Gussetius, p. 74. (q) "Pietas nationum est peccatium", Munster, Mercerus; "studium nationum peccatum", Cocceius.