but his wrath is against him that causeth shame; who neglects his business, or does it foolishly; in such a manner as his prince is ashamed of him, and which brings shame and disgrace to himself; all which provokes the anger of his master, who discharges him from his service, and this fixes a mark of infamy upon him; see Luke 12:45.
but grievous words stir up anger; such as are rough and menacing, scornful and sneering, reproachful and reviling, proud, haughty, and overbearing; like those of Jephthah to the Ephraimites; and of the Ephraimites to the Gileadites; and of Nabal to David's servants, concerning him; and of Rehoboam, who answered the people roughly: in all which instances anger was stirred up, and either were or like to have been attended with bad consequences, Judges 12:1. Or a "word" causing, or rather expressing, "grief" (r); upbraiding others with being the cause of grief to them.
(r) "verbum vel sermo doloris", Montanus, Vatablus, Michaelis; vid. Gussetius, p. 177.
but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness; their knowledge, as they take it to be, but it is no other than folly; this they throw out in great plenty, in a hurry, without fear or wit; they "babble" it out, as the word (t) signifies, as water out of a fountain; their hearts are full of it, and their mouths proclaim it, Proverbs 12:23.
(s) "utitur bene", Castalio; "pulchre", Vatablus. (t) "effutit, ebullit, fundit", Vatablus; "eructat", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "ebullit", V. L. Tigurine version, Schultens; "scaturire facit", Michaelis.
beholding the evil and the good; meaning not evil things and good things, though that is true; the one he beholds with dislike, the other with pleasure; but evil men and good men: he beholds them as from a watch tower, as the word (u) signifies, from above, from heaven, where he is; see Psalm 33:13. By "evil" men may be meant both profane sinners and carnal professors; such as are more openly wicked, and declare their sin, as Sodom, or more secretly so; he sees into all the wickedness there is in their hearts, all their secret devices against his people; the works done by them in the dark, as well as their more open ones; and his eyes are upon all of them, to bring them into judgment at the last day: his eyes are particularly on the proud, to abase them; such as are under a disguise of religion, and have a form of godliness, he has his eyes upon; he sees through all their disguises; he knows on what foot they took up their profession; he discerns between that and true grace; he sees how they retain their lusts with their profession; observes the springs and progress of their apostasy; and will fix his eyes on the man without a righteousness, not having on the wedding garment, and order him into outer darkness. He also beholds "good" men; he sees all their bad things, their sins, and corrects them for them; their good things, their graces, and the exercise of them; their good works, the fruits of his own grace; their weaknesses, and supports and strengthens them; their wants, and supplies them; their persons, and never withdraws his eyes from them: these are on them continually, to protect and defend them; nor will he leave them till he has brought them safe to heaven; see 1 Chronicles 16:9.
(u) "prospectantes velut a specula", Michaelis; "speculatores", Schultens; "speculantes", Montanus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "speculatur", Cocceius.
but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit; impure, unchaste, unsavoury, and corrupt language, does mischief to the spirits of men; evil communications corrupt the heart and manners, defile the soul and the conversation; these and unsound doctrines eat as a canker; and as they make the heart of God's people sad, whom he would not have made sad; so they bring distress and despair into the spirits of others, and make sad wounds and breaches there, which are never healed, and that both in the spirits of speakers and hearers; for damnable heresies bring swift destruction on the propagators of them, and them that receive them.
(w) "sanans", so some in Vatablus.
but he that regardeth reproof is prudent; the reproof of a father, whose corrections are to be submitted to, and received with reverence; and especially of the Father of spirits, whose rebukes are in love, and for profit and advantage; yea, he is a wise man that regards the reproof of the word of God, and the ministers of it; and indeed of any Christian, whether his superior, equal, or inferior, as David did, Psalm 141:5.
but in the revenues of the wicked is trouble; they have much trouble in getting their riches, by which they pierce themselves through with many sorrows; they have much trouble in keeping them; cannot rest nor sleep because of their abundance, lest it should be taken away from them; and they have much trouble in parting with them, when they are, by one providence or another, stripped of them; and, besides, they have them with a curse, and are ever attended with uneasiness, on one account or another.
but the heart of the foolish doth not so; does not disperse knowledge, for he has no solid substantial knowledge in him: or, "the heart of the foolish is not right" (x); it is full of folly and wickedness: or "the heart of the foolish does not disperse that which is right" (y); true and right things, and the knowledge of them; but, on the contrary, as in Proverbs 15:2, "pours out foolishness".
(x) "non erit rectum", Pagninus, Baynus; "non est rectum", Piscator, Mercerus. (y) "Spargit quod abest a recto", Junius & Tremellius, Amama; "eventilant non rectum", Schultens, Cocceius.
but the prayer of the upright is his delight: the prayer of such, whose hearts are right with God; who have right spirits renewed in them; are Israelites indeed; have the truth of grace and root of the matter in them; are honest, sincere, and upright in heart: the prayer of such, which is an inwrought one, wrought in his heart by the Spirit of God, and so comes from God, and is his own breathing in him, must be well pleasing to him; that which is fervent, earnest, and importunate, which cometh not out of feigned lips, but from the heart, and is put up with a true heart, in the sincerity of it; the prayer of faith, the cry of the humble; the prayer which is addressed to God as a Father, in the name of Christ the Mediator, which comes perfumed with the incense of his mediation, introduced with the celebration of the divine perfections, contains humble confessions of sin and unworthiness, ascribes all blessings to the grace of God, and expresses thankfulness for favours received, is very acceptable and delightful to God; though it is the prayer of a poor, mean, despicable creature in his own eyes, and in the eyes of others, Psalm 102:17. This stands opposed to the pompous rites and ceremonies, the gaudy worship and costly sacrifices, of wicked men; such as used by the Papists.
but he loveth him that followeth after righteousness; either after a justifying righteousness; not the righteousness of the law, which the carnal Jews followed after, but did not attain unto; nor is righteousness to be had by the works of the law, nor any justification by it, nor can a man be acceptable to God on account of it; but the righteousness of Christ, which he has wrought out, and is revealed in the Gospel: to follow after this supposes a want of one; a sense of that want; a view of the glory, fulness, suitableness, and excellency of Christ's righteousness; an eager desire after it, sometimes expressed by hungering and thirsting after it, as here by a pursuit of it; which means no other than an earnest and importunate request to be found in it: and such, as they shall be satisfied or filled with it, so they are loved by the Lord, and are acceptable to him through the righteousness they are seeking after: or else it may be understood of following after true holiness of heart and life, without which there is no seeing the Lord; and though perfection in it is not attainable in this live, yet a gracious soul presses after it, which is well pleasing in the sight of God.
"the discipline of an evil man causes his way to err;''
or him to err from his way;
and he that hateth reproof shall die; that hates the reproof of parents, masters, and ministers of the word; as he may be said to do that neglects and rejects it, and does not act agreeably to it: and such a man, dying in impenitence and without faith in Christ, dies in his sins; and sometimes shamefully, or a shameful death, as the Septuagint and Arabic versions, or an untimely one; as well as dies the second death, an eternal one.
(z) "fuit illi mala disciplina, vel castigatio", Baynus.
how much more then the hearts of the children of men? which, though desperately wicked, are known by him; who is the searcher of the hearts and the trier of the reins of the children of men: he to whom hell is naked, and can look into that outer darkness, the blackness of darkness, can look into a man's heart, a second hell, in which all manner of wickedness is, and observe it all; he needs no testimony of man; he knows what is in man, all his secret thoughts, wicked purposes, designs, and devices; see Jeremiah 17:9.
(a) "sepulchrum", Munster, Piscator, Mercerus, so Ben Melech.
neither will he go unto the wise; to the private houses of wise and good men; nor to the house of wisdom, or place of public instruction, where wise dispensers of the word give good advice and counsel; scorners do not choose to go to either, lest they should be reproved for their evil ways, and be advised leave them; neither of which is agreeable to them; see John 3:20.
(b) "corripere", Gejerus.
but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken; a man is dejected, his spirits sink, and it is seen in his countenance: there is a great sympathy between the body and mind, the one is much affected by the other; when the heart is full of sorrow, the animal spirits are low, the nerves are loosened, the whole frame, of nature is enfeebled, and the body emaciated; this is often the case through outward troubles (d): physicians say (e) that grief weakens the strength, and destroys the spirits, more than labour does. "The sorrow of the world worketh death", 2 Corinthians 7:10; and sometimes, through spiritual troubles, a sense of sin and guilt of it, a legal sorrow, which produces a legal contrition of spirit; and such "a wounded spirit who can bear?" Proverbs 18:14. This is the effect of a mere work of the law upon the conscience; and stands opposed to the spiritual joy, and the effects of it, the Gospel brings.
(c) "cor gaudens", V. L. Baynus. (d) "Frangit fortia corda dolor", Tibullus, l. 3. Eleg. 2. v. 6. (e) Fernel. Method. Medendi, l. 7. c. 9. p. 54.
but the mouth of fools feedeth on foolishness; on foolish talking and jesting; on foolish and unlearned questions; on foolish and false doctrines; on foolish and hurtful lusts; on wind and ashes, a deceived heart having turned them aside: they take pleasure and satisfaction in those things; feed their fancy with them and feast upon them, which shows what fools they are; and such all unregenerate men be.
but he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast; a heart that has "the kingdom of God" in it, which lies "not in meat and drink, but in righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost", Romans 14:17, which has the love of God shed abroad in it by the Spirit, where Christ dwells by faith; and that lives by faith on him, and on the provisions of his grace; all this is a constant continual feast to a gracious soul, made joyful hereby.
(f) "pauperis", V. L. Pagninus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Mercerus, Michaelis.
(g) "tumultus", Tigurine version, Montanus, Vatablus; "strepitus", Mercerus. (h) "Terror", Aben Ezra.
than a stalled ox, and hatred therewith; than an ox kept up in the stall for fattening; or than a fatted one, which with the ancients was the principal in a grand entertainment; hence the allusion in Matthew 22:4. In the times of Homer, an ox was in high esteem at their festivals; at the feasts made by his heroes, Agamemnon, Menelaus, and Ajax, an ox was a principal part of them, if not the whole; the back of a fat ox, or a sirloin of beef, was a favourite dish (l). Indeed in some ages, both among Greeks and Romans, an ox was abstained from, through a superstitious regard to it, because so useful a creature in ploughing of the land; and it was carried so far as to suppose it to be as sinful to slay an ox as to kill a man (m): and Aratus (n) represents it as not done, neither in the golden nor silver age, but that in the brasen age men first began to kill and eat oxen; but this is to be confuted by the laws of God, Genesis 9:3; and by the examples of Abraham and others. Now if there is hatred, either in the host, or in the guests among themselves, or in a family, it must stir up strifes and contentions, and render all enjoyments unpleasant and uncomfortable; see Proverbs 17:1; but where the love of God is, which is better than life, and the richest enjoyments of it; which sweetens every mercy, and cannot be purchased with money; and secures the best of blessings, the riches of grace and glory, and itself can never be lost; where this is, the meanest diet is preferable to the richest and most costly banquets of wicked men; who are hated and abhorred by the Lord, for their oppression and injustice, their luxury, or their covetousness; for poor men may be loved of God, and the rich be abhorred by him, Psalm 10:4.
(i) Capteivei, Acts 1. Sc. 2. v. 80. &. 3. Sc. 1. v. 37. (k) "viaticum", Montanus, Amama; "commeatus", Cocceius. (l) Iliad. 7. v. 320, 321. Odyss. 4. v. 65. & 8. v. 60. Vid. Suidam in voce Virgil. Aeneid. 8. v. 182. (m) Aelian. l. 5. c. 14. Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 8. c. 45. (n) Phoenomena, v. 132.
but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife: a man of a quiet and peaceable disposition, possessed of the true grace of charity; who is not easily provoked, longsuffering, bears and endures all things; he allays the heat of anger; he quenches the coals of contention; he calms the storm and makes it quiet, as the word (o) signifies; he
"mitigates strifes raised,''
as the Vulgate Latin version renders it; he composes differences, reconciles the parties at variance, and makes all hush and still; and so prevents the ill consequences of contention and strife.
(o) "faciet quiescere", Pagninus, Montanus; "sedat", Mercerus, Michaelis; so Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Gejerus; "sedabit", Schultens.
"the ways of the slothful are briers and thorns.''
Either really being made so by his own conduct; who, by his slothfulness, has implicated and entangled himself in such difficulties, that he cannot extricate himself; his way is not passable, at least not very easily; it is as it were hedged up with thorns; see Hosea 2:6; or in his own apprehensions; who raises such difficulties about doing business, which to him seem insurmountable; at least which discourage him from attempting it, it being like breaking through thorns and briers; hence he will not plough because of the cold, nor go abroad because there is a lion in the streets, Proverbs 20:4; or the way of his duty, especially of virtue and religion, is as troublesome and disagreeable to him as breaking through a thorn hedge, or treading upon briers and thorns; to attend the duties of public worship, prayer, and hearing the word, is very irksome to him; to be present at family worship, at prayer, and hearing the Scriptures or religious discourses read, is like sitting upon thorns unto him. This, as Aben Ezra observes, is to be understood of a wicked man, as the opposition in the next clause shows;
but the way of the righteous is made plain: it is a castup way, as the word (p) signifies; a causeway, a highway, and a plain one, in which a truly righteous and good man finds no difficulty; yea, it is so plain, that men, though fools in other respects, shall not err therein, Isaiah 35:8; nor is it grievous and troublesome, but, on the contrary, very delightful, as the ways of Christ and wisdom are; his commandments are not grievous, his yoke is easy, and his paths pleasant; and the righteous man walks at liberty and with pleasure in them; and without offence or stumbling, as the Vulgate Latin version renders it.
(p) "aggestum", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "eleveta", Mercerus, Gejerus; "strata", Montanus.
but a foolish man despiseth his mother; that bore him and brought him up, and perhaps was too indulgent to him; which aggravates his sin and her sorrow; See Gill on Proverbs 10:1; or causes her to be despised by others, as Jarchi interprets it; such a man's sin, which is great folly, and shows him to be a foolish man, is highly resented by the Lord, and will be severely punished; see Proverbs 30:17. The Targum is,
"a foolish son despises his mother;''
and so the Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic versions, which makes the antithesis more clear; and the Hebrew text designs one grown up to man's estate.
but a man of understanding walketh uprightly; he who has his understanding enlightened by the Spirit of God; who has an understanding given him by the Son of God; who has a spiritual and experimental understanding of the Gospel, and the truths of it: he walks according to the rule of the divine word; he walks as he has Christ for an example, and by faith on him; and after the spirit, and not after the flesh: or "directs himself in walking" (r), his goings, as the Vulgate Latin version, according to the above rule, example, and guidance, by the assistance of the spirit and grace of God; otherwise it is not in man that walketh of himself to direct his steps, Jeremiah 10:23.
(q) "carenti corde", Montanus; "ei qui deficitur", Schultens. (r) "diriget seipsum ambulando", Montanus; "diriget ambulare, vel ad ambulandum", Vatablus; "diriget viam suam ad ambulandum", Mercerus, Gejerus.
"vain are the thoughts (or designs) where there is no secret;''
if a man makes no secret of what he designs to do, he is easily counterworked, and his purposes disappointed;
but in the multitude of counsellors they are established; his purposes are, as in Proverbs 20:18; having the advice of others, and these many, he is confirmed that he is right in what he has thought of and purposed to do; and therefore goes about it with the greater spirit and cheerfulness, and is most likely to succeed, and generally does; see Proverbs 11:14.
(s) "in non secreto", Montanus; "cum non sit secretum", Baynus; "quum nullum est arcanum", Schultens; "ubi non est secretum", Cocceius.
and a word spoken in due season, how good is it? whether by way of advice and counsel to such who stand in need of it, or of exhortation and instruction to those that want it, or of comfort to those that are distressed; such is a word of promise spoken and applied by the Spirit of God to the hearts of his people in a time of need; and such is the Gospel of peace, pardon, righteousness, and salvation, as spoken by Christ and his ministers to weary and wounded souls; it cannot be well and fully expressed how sweet, how good, how suitable, as well as seasonable, it is: see Proverbs 25:11.
that he may depart from hell beneath; not from the grave, as "sheol" sometimes signifies: for wise men die as well as fools, and come to the grave, which is the house appointed for all living; even those who are in the way of life that is above do not escape death and the grave: but such are secured from everlasting ruin and destruction, from being destroyed soul and body in hell; they steer quite a different course and road from that; every step they take upwards carries them so far off from hell; which is the contrary way; the broad road of sin is the lower way, or what leads to hell and destruction beneath; the narrow way of faith in Christ is the upper way, and that leads to eternal life above.
but he will establish the border of the widow; whose advocate, judge, and defender he is; when men, rich, proud, and oppressive, attempt to remove the landmark of the widow's border, and so lessen her land and enlarge their own, God will not suffer it to be done, but will establish it in its place; that is, such who are weak and helpless, as widows are, and cannot defend themselves and their property, he will protect them and secure it for them. So the church of Christ, during the reign of antichrist, being obliged to flee into the wilderness, looks like a widow deprived of her husband, and has but "little strength" to support and defend herself, as is said of the church of Philadelphia, Revelation 3:8; yet the Lord will secure and preserve her, and firmly settle and establish her, yea, enlarge her borders, and make them of pleasant stones; spread the kingdom of Christ from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth. Frequent mention is made of the establishing of the church in the latter day, Psalm 48:8, Isaiah 2:2.
but the words of the pure are pleasant words; that is, unto the Lord; which are the same with their thoughts, and are the effect of them, and so stand opposed to the thoughts of the wicked; these, expressed either in a way of prayer or of praise, are sweet and pleasant, and acceptable unto God through Christ; as likewise their words and discourse in religious conversation, which also minister grace unto the hearer, and are very delightful and pleasing to saints; the words may be supplied thus, "but the thoughts of the pure", of such who are pure in heart, whose hearts are purified by faith in the blood of Christ, are "words of pleasantness", so Gersom; there is a language in thought which is known to a man's self, and by the Lord; there is the meditation or discourse of the heart, and this being about divine and spiritual things is pleasing to God; he hearkens to it, and writes a book of remembrance for them that fear him, and have thought on his name; see Psalm 19:14.
but he that hateth gifts shall live; that rejects them with abhorrence, when offered to bribe him to pervert judgment, or to do an unjust thing; otherwise gifts may be lawfully received from one friend by another; the sin is when they are given and taken for the sake of doing what is base and sinful; and a man that shakes his hand from receiving gifts on such a basis, he and his family shall prosper and increase in worldly things; and, doing this from a right principle of grace, shall live comfortably in a spiritual sense, and thrive and flourish in his soul, and live an eternal life hereafter; see Psalm 16:5.
(t) "appetens concupiscentiam", Montanus; "qui avaritiam inhiat" Tigurine version; "concupiscens concupiscentiam", Vatablus.
but the mouth of the wicked poureth out evil things; without any previous thought and consideration, without fear or wit; in great abundance, as water out of a fountain; thus an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil things readily and at once, having no concern about the consequences of things, Matthew 12:25; See Gill on Proverbs 15:2.
but he heareth the prayer of the righteous; they draw nigh to him, and he draws nigh to them; he is nigh to all that call upon him in truth; and there is none like them that has God so nigh them as they have; his eyes are upon them, and his ears are open to their cries; he is a God hearing and answering their prayers, and bestows upon them the favours they ask for, and stand in need of.
and a good report maketh the bones fat; or "a good hearing" (w); not the sense of hearing, or a quick exercise of that, though a very great blessing; but things heard. Some understand this of a good or "fame" (x), which is sometimes the sense of the phrase; either a good report which a man hears of himself, which makes his spirit cheerful; and this affects his body and the juices of it, which fill his bones with marrow, and cover them with fatness; or which he hears of his friends, and is pleasing to him, as it was to the Apostle John that Demetrius had a good report of all men, 3 John 1:12. But rather this is to be understood of the good news, or good hearing, from a far country, as the same phrase is rendered in Proverbs 25:25; and here in the Arabic version is so translated, even the Gospel, which is a report; see Isaiah 53:1; a report concerning God, the perfections of his nature, the purposes of his heart, the covenant of his grace, his love, grace, and mercy towards men in Christ Jesus; a "report" concerning Christ, concerning his person and offices, concerning his incarnation, obedience, sufferings, and death; concerning his resurrection, ascension, sitting at the right hand of God, intercession for his people, and second coming to judgment; and concerning salvation, peace, pardon, righteousness, and eternal life by him; a report concerning the good land, the heavenly Canaan, and the glories of it, the way unto it, and the persons that shall possess it: and this is a "good" report; it is good tidings of good things, a report of good things laid up in covenant, which are come by Christ the great High Priest, which saints are interested in, and shall partake of here and hereafter; it is a true report, and to be believed, since it is made by God himself, by Jesus Christ the faithful witness, and by the apostles of Christ, who were eye and ear witnesses of the things they reported; and such a report being heard, received, and embraced, greatly contributes to the spiritual health and prosperity of the children of God, it makes them fat and flourishing; such pleasant words are as the honeycomb, sweet to the soul, make glad the heart, and are marrow and health to the bones; see Proverbs 3:8.
(w) "auditus bona", Vatablus; "auditio bona", Montanus, Junius & Tremellius. (x) "Fama bona", V. L. Tigurine version, Pagninus, Mercerus, Gejerus.
abideth among the wise; he not only chooseth to be among them, that he may have the advantage of their wise counsels and reproofs, but he becomes wise himself thereby, and attains to the character of a wise man, and is numbered among them; such a man abides in the house of wisdom, the church of God, and attends upon and has conversation with the wise dispensers of the word, and shall have a part with them in the church above, in the kingdom of heaven, where the wise will shine as the firmament; the word here used does not denote a lodging for a night, as it sometimes signifies, but a perpetual abiding.
despiseth his own soul; shows that he makes no account of it, has no regard for it or care about it, when it is so precious a jewel, and the loss of it irreparable; not that a man can strictly and properly despise his soul, but comparatively, having a greater regard for his body, and especially for his carnal lusts and pleasures, than for that; or as a man diseased and refuses proper medicines may be said to despise his health;
but he that heareth reproof getteth understanding; or "a heart" (z); he gets understanding by listening to reproof, and behaving according to it; he better understands himself and his case, what he should shun and avoid, what he should receive, embrace, and do; instead of losing his soul, as the man that refuses correction does, he finds the life of it, and possesses it, and with it a large share of experience and spiritual wisdom.
(y) "correctionem", Pagninus, Vatablus; "qui abstrahit se a castigatione", Piscator. (z) "cor", Pagninus, Piscator, Schultens, Michaelis.