and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding; and keeps them shut, lest he should say anything rashly and hastily; a man that has so much command of himself as not to speak unadvisedly, through the heat of his own passions, and through the provocations of others, will pass for a man that understands himself, and knows how to behave well before others.
and intermeddleth with all wisdom; the man who is desirous of being truly wise and knowing grasps at all wisdom, every branch of useful knowledge; would gladly learn something of every art and science worthy of regard; and he makes use of all means of improving himself therein; and covets the company and conversation of men of wisdom and knowledge, that he may attain to more; he intermingles himself with men of wisdom, as Aben Ezra interprets it, and walks and converses with them. Or if this is to be understood of a vain glorious person, the sense is, "he intermeddles" or "mingles himself with all business" (h), as it may be rendered; he thrusts himself into affairs that do not concern him, and will pass his judgment on things he has nothing to do with; or he monopolizes all knowledge to himself, and will not allow any other to have any share with him. Jarchi interprets this clause thus,
"among wise men his reproach shall be made manifest;''
and observes, that their Rabbins explain it of Lot separating from Abraham, following the desires of his heart: but R. Saadiah Gaon better interprets it of an apostate from religion; that objects to everything solid and substantial, in a wrangling and contentious manner; and "shows his teeth" (i) at it, as Schultens, from the use of the Arabic word, renders it.
(g) So the Targum. (h) "immiscet se omni negotio", Munster; "omnibus quae sunt immiscet se", Junius & Tremellius. (i) "Et in omne solidum dentes destringei", Schultens.
but that his heart may discover itself; and the folly that is in it: such men only desire to have some knowledge and understanding, to make a show of it, that they may be thought to be wise, and to be capable of talking of things as if they understood them, when it is only to the exposing of themselves and their ignorance; some persons attain to no more learning and knowledge than just to be capable to show that they are fools. Or, "but in the discovery of his heart" (k); he delights in discovering that; not the wisdom, but the folly that is in it.
(k) "sed in patefacere cor ejus", Vatablus; "sed in detectione cordis sui", Piscator; "sed sane ut enudet cor suum", Schultens.
and with ignominy reproach: or, "with the ignominious man reproach" (l): he that despises all that is good, and treats divine things in a ludicrous way, will not spare to reproach the best of men, and speak evil of them falsely, for the sake of religion. Or the meaning of the whole is, that wicked men, sooner or later, come into contempt, ignominy, and reproach, themselves; they that despise the Lord are lightly esteemed by him; and a vile person is contemned in the eyes of a good man: such bring shame and disgrace upon themselves and families while they live; and, when they die, they are laid in the grave with dishonour; an infamy rests upon their memories, and they wilt rise to everlasting shame and contempt.
(l) "viro ignominioso, venit opprobriunu", Pagninus; "cum ignominioso probrum", Junis & Tremeilius; "cum probroso opprobrium", Schultens, so Vatablus, Mercerus, Gejerus.
and the wellspring of wisdom as a flowing brook; there is a spring of spiritual wisdom and knowledge in him; a well of living water, springing up unto everlasting life; and from thence it flows freely and constantly; communicating itself liberally unto others, and ministering grace to the hearers, for their edification.
to overthrow the righteous in judgment: though he may be a poor man and a stranger, and to whom the judge is under no private and personal obligation; yet justice ought to be done without any respect to persons; to do otherwise is not only not good, but very bad, very sinful and criminal; it is contrary to law and justice; it is doing injury to men, and is repugnant to the will of God, and offensive to him, Leviticus 19:15.
and his mouth calleth for strokes: as he stirs up and encourages contention, so he proceeds to blows, and excites others to them; from words he goes to blows, and, by the ill and provoking language of his mouth, gets many a blow to himself. Jarchi seems to understand it of chastisement, from the hand of God; see Proverbs 26:3.
and his lips are the snare of his soul; from speaking in his own defence, he says things which should not be said, and by which he is entangled yet more and more; he is caught by his own words and condemned by them; or his loquacity, in which he delights, is a snare unto him to say things which neither become him, nor are for his advantage, but the contrary; see Proverbs 12:13.
and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly; go down pleasantly, and sink deep into the hearts of those to whom they are told; where they have a place and remain, both to the injury of the persons that receive them, and of them of whom they are told; and, though pleasing at first, they are as wounds in the inner parts, which are mortal.
(m) "similia sunt verbis eorum, qui saepenumero contusi sunt", Junius & Tremellius; "ut contusorum", Cocceius. (n) "Ut lenientia", Montanus; "velut blanda", Vatablus, Mercerus, Gejerus; "quasi blandientia", Schmidt, so Ben Melech. (o) "Tanquam avide deglutita crustula", Schultens.
is brother to him that is a great waster: a prodigal man, who spends his substance in riotous living: the sluggard and the prodigal are brethren in iniquity; for, though they take different courses, they are both sinful, and issue in the same manner; both bring to poverty and want. Or, "brother to a master that wastes" (p); a slothful servant and a wasteful master are near akin, and come into the same class and circumstances. Jarchi interprets it,
"he that separateth from the law, though a disciple of a wise man, is a brother to Satan;''
whose name is Apollyon, the waster and destroyer. A man that is slothful in spiritual things, though a professor of religion, and has a place in the house of God, is brother to him that is a waster and persecutor of it; see Matthew 12:30.
(p) "domino devaststionis", Gejerus; "domino dissipanti", Mercerus.
the righteous runneth into it; not self-righteous persons, they run from Christ and his righteousness, not to him and that; but such who see their own righteousness will not justify them; who indeed are sinners, know and acknowledge themselves to be such; as sinners go to Christ, who, as such, receives them; and these are righteous through the righteousness of Christ imputed to them, and live soberly, righteously, and godly: and it is the continual business or employment of their faith to betake themselves to Christ upon all occasions; they are continually coming to him, and exercising faith upon him, as the Lord their righteousness, which is meant by "running" to him; this supposes knowledge of him, as the strong tower and city of refuge; of the way unto him, and of the reception by him which may be expected; it supposes a principle of spiritual life, and some degree of spiritual strength; a sense of danger or of want in themselves, and of safety and fulness in Christ; it is expressive of haste, readiness, and cheerfulness, and is owing to the drawings of efficacious grace;
and such an one that thus runs
is safe; from the avenging justice of God; from the curse and condemnation of the law; from sin, and all its dreadful consequences; from Satan, and all spiritual enemies; from wrath to come, hell, and the second death: or is "set aloft" (r); is on high; for this tower, as it is a strong one, it is a high one; a rock of refuge, higher than men, or angels, or heaven itself; and such who are in it are out of the reach of all danger and every enemy.
(q) Midrash Tillim in Psal. xviii. 50. fol. 18. 1.((r) "et exaltabitur", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, Gejerus; "erit in loco alto et tuto", Vatablus; "et exaltatur", Michaelis; "in celsoque aget", Schultens.
"the abundance of a rich man's wealth he conceives to be as it were the abundance of people in a "city"; the telling of his money he imagines to be the walking of people up and down the streets; his bags standing thick together to be so many houses standing close one to the other; his iron barred chests to be so mary bulwarks; his bonds and bills to be his cannons and demi-cannons, his great ordinance; and in the midst of these he thinketh himself environed with a "great wall", which no trouble is able to leap over, which no misery is able to break through.''
As it follows;
and as a high wall in his own conceit: which not only separates and distinguishes him from others; but, as he imagines, will secure him from all dangers, and will be abiding, lasting, and durable: but all this is only "in his own conceit", or "imagery" (t); in the chambers of his imagery, as Jarchi, referring to Ezekiel 8:12; where the same word is used; for this wall shall not stand; these riches cannot secure themselves, they take wing and fly away; and much less the owner of them, not from public calamities, nor from personal diseases of body, nor from death, nor from wrath to come.
(s) Jermin its loc. (t) "in imaginatione ejus", Pagninus, Montanus, Piscator, Cocceius, Gejerus, Schultens; "in imagine sua", Mercerus.
and before honour is humility; See Gill on Proverbs 15:33.
(u) "ante confractionem", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Cocceius, Schultens.
it is folly and shame unto him; his answer must be a foolish one, and bring shame and confusion upon him; men should be "swift to hear", and "slow to speak", James 1:9.
but a wounded spirit who can bear? or a "smitten" (w) one, smitten by the Lord; by the word of the Lord, which he uses as a hammer to break rocky hearts in pieces; by the law of God, which produces wrath, and a looking for of fiery indignation; by the Spirit of God, awakening the conscience, and convicting it of sin, righteousness, and judgment; which smitings are very grievous, though they tend to bring to repentance; are in order to healing, and are in love. Or, "a broken spirit" (x), as in Proverbs 17:22; broken with a sense of sin, and with an excess of sorrow for it; when a man becomes lifeless and hopeless, has no hope of life and salvation, and is in the utmost confusion; all his measures and purposes are broken, as well as his heart; he knows not what to do, nor what way to take; he is disconsolate, and refuses to be comforted; and which for the present is intolerable: though the Lord has a regard to such, is nigh unto them; has sent his son to bind up their broken hearts; yea, has himself been broken for them; and happy it is for them that they fall on him and are broken, and not he on them. Or, "a wounded spirit"; with a view of sin, as committed against the omniscient and omnipotent Being, a pure and holy God; a righteous one, whose nature is infinite; and so sin committed against him requires an infinite satisfaction, which a creature cannot give; and a God also, who is the author of their beings, and the Father of their mercies; all which makes sin against him the more cutting and wounding: likewise they are wounded with a view of the evil nature of sin, and the aggravated circumstances that attend it; and with the terrors of the law, that are set in array against them. And such a spirit "who can bear?" not without the sight of a wounded Saviour; or without a view of atonement by his sacrifice; or without the discoveries and applications of pardoning grace; or without a sense of peace and reconciliation made by the blood of Christ; or without some hope of salvation by him; and unless the good Samaritan pours in oil and wine into the wounds, and binds them up.
(w) "percussum", Pagninus, Baynus, Mercerus, Gejerus; "perculsum", Vatablus, Cocceius. (x) "Contritum", Montanus, Gejerus, Michaelis; "fractum", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.
and the ear of the wise seeketh knowledge; a wise man seeks to get it by hearing; he listens to what others say, and especially such that are wiser and more knowing than himself: so such as are wise to salvation, as they desire to know more of Christ and of divine things, and make use of all means for that purpose; among the rest, hearken to what Christians, of a superior class to themselves, drop in private conversation; and particularly they constantly attend to the ministry of the word; and thus seeking it, they find an increase of it.
and bringeth him before great men; it opens a way for him into the presence and company of great men, being a fee to their servants; or with it he procures a place to wait on them. It is not necessary to understand it of a gift by way of bribe; but to introduce a person to another, and render him acceptable, and appease anger; as in the cases of Jacob and Abigail, Genesis 32:20.
but his neighbour cometh, and searcheth him; his neighbour comes into the house, where he is telling his tale, and reports it in another manner, and shows the falsehood of his relation; or he comes into a court of judicature, and sets the cause in quite another light; or he comes out into the worm by public writing, and exposes the errors of a man engaged in a wrong cause, and refutes his arguments. It is generally understood of judicial affairs, that the first that opens a cause is very apt to prejudice the judge and court in his favour, and they are ready to thing at first hearing that he is in the right; but it is not proper to be hasty in forming a judgment till the other side is heard; for his antagonist comes and traverses the point, unravels the whole affair, shows the weakness of his cause, the vanity of his pretences, and makes void all his allegations; and then "he", the judge, so some interpret it, "searcheth"; inquires more narrowly into the case, in order to find out truth, and pass a right judgment and sentence.
and parteth between the mighty; the kings and princes of the earth; men of great power and authority, and of great riches and affluence; and so in a capacity of contending with each other, and of prolonging the contention, which may be attended with bad consequences; and who are not easily dissuaded from it: or it may intend such who most vehemently disagree; persons of great spirits, who are obstinate and stubborn, and will by no means yield, and there is no parting them by arguments or legal decisions; these the lot parts, and causes them to cease from their quarrels and contentions, and to rest satisfied with the distributions the lot makes to them; as the children of Israel were with their portion of the land of Canaan, assigned them by lot.
and their contentions are like the bars of a castle: which cannot be easily broken or cut asunder: so contentions, especially those among brethren, are with great difficulty made to cease, and their differences composed; they will stand it out against one another as long as a strong city, or a barred castle, against an enemy.
and with the increase of his lips shall he be filled; the same thing as before, expressed in different words, alluding to the sowing, of seed in the earth, and the increase of it; as a man sows he reaps, and enjoys the fruits of his labour; according to what a man sows with his lips, such is his harvest he is afterwards a partaker of.
and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof; that delight to be talkative; that love to use the tongue, whether in a good or in a bad way, shall accordingly be recompensed; shall enjoy the advantages or disadvantages arising from it.
findeth a good thing; that will be good for him, both upon a civil and spiritual account; the Septuagint version adds,
"he that casts out a good wife casts out good things, but he that retains a whore is foolish and ungodly;''
which is followed by the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Arabic versions, but is not in the Hebrew text. Jarchi interprets it of the law in a mystic sense, but, according to the literal sense, of a good wife;
and obtaineth favour of the Lord; it is from the Lord, and under his direction and guidance in seeking, that he finds a good wife; and which he ought to esteem as a favour from the Lord, and as an evidence of his favour to him, and may encourage himself to hope for others of him (z) Hesiod says, a man cannot obtain anything better than a good wife.
(z) Opera & Dies, l. 2. v. 323.
but the rich answereth roughly; being proud and haughty, lifted up with their riches, and in fear of none, they answer others with hard and rough words, especially their inferiors, and particularly the poor. This is not what ought to be, but what commonly is. This verse and Proverbs 18:24 are not in the Arabic version.
(a) "supplicationes", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Mercerus, Michaelis.