and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother; who is to a man as his own soul, Deuteronomy 13:6; and so are of one heart and soul, as Jonathan and David, and the first Christians, were; this is true of Christ, and may be expressive of the close union between him and his people; and of his close adherence to their cause and interest; and of his constancy and continuance as a friend at all times; and of his faithfulness and unchangeableness as such; see Proverbs 17:17. The Heathens had a deity which presided over friendship, which they called Jupiter Philios (c): the character best agrees with the true God, who is a friend to men himself, and loves friendship among them.
(b) "vir amicorum", Montanus, Vatablus, Baynus, Mercerus, Gejerus, Michaelis; "vir sodalium", Cocceius, Schultens. (c) Aristoph. Acharn. Acts 3. Sc. 2. v. 2. Pausan. Arcadica sive, l. 8. p. 506.
than he that is perverse in his lips, and is a fool; that is, than a rich man, as the Syriac and Vulgate Latin versions supply it, and as the antithesis requires; "that is perverse in his lips", or "whose ways are perverse", as the Syriac version; that acts the deceitful part both by words and actions towards those that are about him, not being honest and plain hearted as the poor man is; and who uses those beneath him very roughly; and concerning oppression speaks loftily, and lets his tongue run both against God in heaven and man on earth, by which he shows he is a fool: for his riches do not give him wisdom; and his words and actions declare he wants it; men may be poor, and yet wise; and a matt may be rich, and yet a fool: or is confident (d); that is, trusts in his riches, and is opposed to a poor man, so R. Saadiah Gaon. This verse and Proverbs 19:2 are not in the Septuagint and Arabic versions.
(d) "confidens divitiis", Cocceii Lexic. col. 384.
"he that knoweth not his soul, it is not good for him;''
that does not know he has a soul, or however takes no more care of it than if he had none; who knows not the worth and value of it, its state and condition, and the danger it is in, and the only way of attaining the salvation of it;
and he that hasteth with his feet sinneth; who engages in anything ignorantly and rashly, he misses the mark, and fails in the performance of it, for want of due consideration and care. The Targum is,
"he that is swift with his feet to evil is a sinner;''
whose feet run to evil, to commit robbery, as Aben Ezra; or to shed blood; see Proverbs 1:16.
(e) So Vatablus; or "without care of it", Schultcns.
and his heart fretteth against the Lord; laying all the blame on him; and ascribing his ill success, not to his own sin and folly, but to divine Providence, which works against him; and therefore frets and murmurs at him; and, instead of charging his own ways with folly, charges the ways of God with inequality; see Ezekiel 18:25.
but the poor is separated from his neighbour; or "friend" (h); he will not visit him as he did in his prosperity, nor suffer him to come into his house or company, or come near him; he is separated from his affection, friendship, and presence: so another poet (i),
"if thou art rich, thou wilt have many friends; but, if poor, few.''
(f) "addit", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. (g) Ovid. (h) "ab amico sua", Pagninus, Montanus, Baynus, Junius & Tremeliius, Piscator, Michaelis; "a sodali sua", Schultens. (i) Theognis.
and he that speaketh lies shall not escape; even he that useth himself to lying in private conversation shall not escape the reproach of men; for nothing is more scandalous than lying; nor the wrath of God, such shall have their portion in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, Revelation 21:8.
"there are many that minister before a prince;''
he has many servants, and some of them nobles;
and every man is a friend to him that giveth gifts; or "to a man of gift" (k): who has it in his power to give, and has a heart to it; who is both a rich man and a liberal man; who is both able and willing to communicate to the necessities of others: such a man not only has the poor his friends, but others will speak well of him, and will make application to him on account of the poor; and, for the sake of doing good to them, will court his friendship and acquaintance. Bayne interprets this "man of gift" of Christ, who ascended on high, and received gifts for men, and gives them to men.
(k) "viro doni", Montanus, Vatablus, Michaelis.
how much more do his friends go far from him? or "his friend", every one of his friends; or "his neighbour" (l): for if his brethren, who are his own flesh and blood, show so much disrespect unto him; much more will those who are only his neighbours, or were in friendship with him while in prosperity; these wilt stand at a distance from him, and not come near him, now he is poor and in distress; see Job 19:13;
he pursueth them with words; yet they are wanting to him; or, "they are not" (m); he presses them with earnest entreaties to relieve him; he urges their own words and promises, and fetches arguments from them, and uses them as far as they will go; but all signifies nothing; his own words and petitions are to no purpose; and their words and promises are all smoke and vapour, vain and empty. Some understand this, as Gersom, not of the poor man that follows vain words (n) and empty promises, and buoys himself up with them that such an one and such an one has promised to be his friend, of which nothing comes; but of the friend that separates from the poor man, and pursues him with words of accusation, charging it on him as hit own fault that he is poor; which accusations are not true. This is one of the fifteen places observed by the Masoretes, in which it is written "not", and read "to him": both may be retained, and read, "they are not to him" (o); not profitable to him; either his own words, his petitions; or the words of others, their promises.
(l) "amicus ejus", Vatablus; "ominis amicus", Cocceius; i.e. "quisque amicorum ejus", Michaelis. (m) "non sunt ii", Junius & Tremillius; "et non sunt, Mercerus. (n) "Nihil illa", Cocceius, Schultens. (o) Vid. Amamae Antibarb. Bibl. l. 3. p. 742.
he that keepeth understanding shall find good; retains the wisdom he has got; holds fast instruction, and keeps it, which is committed to him; abides by the doctrines of the Gospel, and does not depart from them; keeps the ordinances of it, which it is his wisdom and understanding to do; see Deuteronomy 4:6; he finds his account in all this; he finds that which is good, good for him now and hereafter; he finds Christ, and life in him; peace, joy, and comfort in this world: and, in the world to come, glory, honour, and happiness.
(p) "cor", Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus, Mercerus, &c.
and he that speaketh lies shall perish; or "be lost", shall be undone for ever; he shall not enter into the holy city, but have his part in the lake of fire: they that speak lies in hypocrisy, doctrinal ones, and are given up to believe and profess them, such shall be damned, 2 Thessalonians 2:11.
much less for a servant to have rule over princes; this was a sight which Solomon had seen, but was very disagreeable to him; and was one of the four things the earth cannot bear; the insolence of a servant, when he becomes master over his superiors, is intolerable; see Proverbs 30:22. It may be spiritually applied to such who are servants of sin; to whose sensual appetites and carnal affections the more noble and princely powers of the soul, the understanding and mind, become subject; which is very improper and unseemly.
and it is his glory to pass over a transgression; to forgive an offence committed; it is the duty and interest of a man to do so, and it is to his honour; as the contrary greatly reflects dishonour on him, and tends to his disgrace and reproach, if not to his ruin; see Matthew 18:32.
but his favour is as dew upon the grass; which refreshes and revives it, and causes it to grow and flourish: and so the favour and good will of a king to his subjects delights them, and causes joy and cheerfulness in them; and such an effect has the love of God and Christ on the children of men, Hosea 14:6.
and the contentions of a wife are a continual dropping; or like the dropping of rain, in a rainy day, into a house out of repair, and which is very uncomfortable to, the inhabitants of it; see Proverbs 27:15. Such are the contentions of a peevish, ill natured, and brawling wife, who is always scolding; and which is a continual vexation to a man, and renders him very uneasy in life: such a continual dropping was Xantippe to Socrates, who teased him night and day with her brawls and contentions (r). A great unhappiness each of these must be!
(q) "calamitates", Vatablus; "aerumnae", Piscator, Michaelis; "causa aerumnarum", Junius & Tremellius. (r) A. Gell. Noct. Attic. l. 1. c. 17.
and, or but,
a prudent wife is from the Lord; one that behaves well to her husband, massages the affairs of her house with wisdom, and brings up her children in all orderly manner: such a wife no man has from the care and provision of his parents; nor so much from his own good choice and industry as from the kind providence of God, to which he should ascribe it; his parents may give him houses and lands, but it is God that gives him a wise and discreet woman to be an helpmeet to him; see Proverbs 18:22.
and an idle soul shall suffer hunger; and perish with it, both in a temporal and spiritual sense: an idle person, that will not work, ought not to eat; and an idle soul, or one that is unconcerned about his soul, and the spiritual food of it, shall perish for want of it.
keepeth his own soul, or "observes" (s) it; he shows that he has a concern for its welfare and peace; for though peace does not arise from keeping the commandments of God, yet such have great peace of soul who do love and keep the law of God; though there is no reward for, yet there is a reward in keeping the divine commands; though salvation is not hereby, yet blessed are they that do his commands; by which it appears they have a right to enter into the city, into eternal happiness, Psalm 119:165;
but he that despiseth his ways: which are at and proper for him to walk in, as Aben Ezra observes; or who is negligent of his ways, does not care in what ways he walks, or what is the issue of them; he walks in the ways of his own heart, and in the sight of his eyes; has his conversation according to the course of this world; walks with a multitude, with a crowd, to do evil, in the broad road which leads to destruction, and yet is quite careless about it: or that despises the ways of the commandment or word of God, which that directs to; for that is a lamp and a light, which men would do well to take heed to, as it shows them the ways in which they should walk; but these they neglect and contemn: or he that despises the ways of God, the ways he himself takes in the salvation of men, all whose ways are mercy and truth; that despises the ways of peace, pardon, righteousness, and salvation by Jesus Christ: he
shall die; he is dead in sins already, and he shall die the second death, that neglects and despises so great salvation, and all the ways of the Lord, Hebrews 2:3. There is a "Keri", or marginal reading, which we follow; but the "Cetib", or written text, is, "he shall be killed", or put to death; and so the Syriac version; immediately, by the hand of heaven, by the Lord himself, before his time; or by the judges and civil magistrates; his sins being openly known, as Aben Ezra.
and that which he hath given will, he pay him again; either in this life, in things temporal and spiritual, increasing his worldly substance, blessing his posterity, granting him larger measures of grace, indulging him with his gracious presence, and giving him peace of mind, which passeth all understanding; or in the world to come; not as a reward of debt, but of grace; see Ecclesiastes 11:1.
and let not thy soul spare for his crying; the noise he makes, the tears he sheds, the entreaties he uses to keep off the rod; let not a foolish pity and tenderness prevail to lay it aside on that account the consequence of which may be bad to parent and child; see Proverbs 13:24. The Targum is,
"but unto his death do not lift up thy soul;''
or to the slaying of him (t), as the Vulgate Latin version; and this sense Jarchi gives into: and then the meaning is, that though parents should be careful to give due correction to their children, so long as there is hope of doing them good, yet not in a brutal and barbarous manner, to the endangering of their lives: as some parents are too indolent, mild, and gentle, as Eli was; others are too wrathful and furious and use no moderation in their corrections, but unmercifully beat their children; such extremes ought to be avoided. Gersom interprets the word of crying, as we do.
(t) "ad interficiendum cum", Pagninus, Vatablus, Mercerus, Gejerus; "ad occidendum sum", Piscator, Cocceius, Tigurine version, Michaelis, Schultens, Gussetius, p. 534.
for if thou deliver him, yet thou must do it again; if he is got out of one broil, he will get into another quickly; if he clear of one lawsuit, another will be commenced against him in a short time; if he is discharged and freed from a penalty he is justly subject to, it must be done again and again; he will fall into the same evil, and there is no end of appearing, for him and serving him; a wrathful man brings himself into great trouble, as may be seen in Shimei, 2 Samuel 16:7, 1 Kings 2:46.
that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end; in the latter end of life, at death; that then it may appear a man has been so wise as to be concerned for a future state, for the good of his soul in another world; by listening to the counsel and instruction of Christ, in his word; by looking to him, and believing in him, for life and salvation; by leaning and living upon him; and committing the affairs of his soul, and the salvation of it, to him.
nevertheless, the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand; and can never be frustrated by the devices of man's heart, though there are many, and that but one; see Psalm 33:10. This may be applied to the Gospel, and the scheme of salvation in it, called the whole counsel of God, Acts 20:27; it being the fruit of infinite wisdom, and the effect of a divine council between the eternal Three, and full of the best advice and instructions to the sons of men; and which has stood, and shall stand, notwithstanding the persecutions of wicked men, the craft of false teachers, and the ridicule of a profane world; it will continue till all the elect are gathered in, even, to the end of the world; and so will the ordinances of it, which are also called the counsel of God, Luke 7:30; and which will continue till the second coming of Christ. Moreover, the purposes of God, his counsels of old, or his eternal decrees, may be here meant; which are wisely formed in his own breast, and are not frustrable; and according to which counsel of his will all things are done in nature, providence, and grace; all things in this world are ordered as he pleases, and all things are done as he has ordered them; all his purposes are or will be fulfilled; his designs will be accomplished in the world and in his church, in spite of all the schemes, contrivances, and opposition of men and devils.
and a poor man is better than a liar; who is a rich man, as the Septuagint and Syriac versions add; who denies that he has ability to relieve the poor, when he has; or promises to do it, and does it not; such men of high degree are a lie indeed! and the poor man, whom he should relieve, is a better man than he; or that would relieve another, but it is not in his power to do it.
and he that hath it shall abide satisfied; with his lot and portion in this life; with the good things of it he has, being content therewith and "godliness with contentment is great gain", 1 Timothy 6:6, such a man has enough; he has all things in a spiritual sense; he is full of the blessings of goodness; he is blessed with all spiritual blessings; his mouth is satisfied, and his mind is filled with good things; and so he rests and abides night after night, and day after day;
he shall not be visited with evil; nothing shall hurt him; all his afflictions, his worst things, his evil ones: work together for his good; and they shall never separate from the love of God, nor anything that befalls him in this life, Romans 8:28; see Psalm 91:10.
and will not so much as bring it to his mouth again; so sluggish, that he will rather starve than be at the pains to feed himself; he will not take his hand out of his bosom, to take food out of the dish to feed himself with; and even when his hand is in the dish, he will not take it from thence again, and lift it to his mouth; an hyperbolical expression. Gussetius (w) thinks, it may have respect to such slothful men, who are careless and negligent to their souls; who, though they have the holy Scriptures in their hands, like a vessel full of wholesome food for the soul, yet will not make use of the least mite out of them, that they may receive eternal life.
(u) "in patinam", Tigurine version; "in lebete", Mercerus, Michaelis; "in patinia", Cocceius; "in paropsidem", Schultens. (w) Ebr. Comment. p. 715.
and reprove one that hath understanding, and he will understand knowledge; he will grow wiser and wiser; he will improve in the knowledge of things; see Proverbs 9:8.
(x) "astutus efficetur", Pagninus, Montanus; "astutus fiet", Junius & Tremellius, Cocceius; "astutior fiet", Michaelis; "solertiam parabit", Schultens.
and chaseth away his mother: alienates her affections from him, who once had too great a fondness for him; causes her to quit her house, not being able to bear the sight of him and of his actions:
is a son that causeth shame, and bringeth reproach; causes shame to his parents, as well as to himself; and a reproach upon them, as well as on his own character. It may be read thus,
"a son that causeth shame, and bringeth reproach, wasteth his father, and chaseth away his mother (y).''
(y) So Gejerus, Schultens.
that causeth to err from the words of knowledge; the words of the living God, the Scriptures of truth; which communicate knowledge, and are profitable for instruction in righteousness; are the means of the true knowledge of God; that there is one, and that he is possessed of all perfections: particularly that he is gracious and merciful, and pardons all manner of sin; that he is in Christ, the God of all grace; that he is the God and Father of Christ, and the covenant God and Father of all his people in him; they give knowledge of his mind and will concerning the salvation of men, and of his ways and worship. The wholesome words of our Lord Jesus, the salutary doctrines of the Gospel, may be here meant; those words of grace, wisdom, and knowledge, which come from him, and give knowledge of his person, offices, relations, incarnation, and blessings of grace by him; from whence they are called the word of peace and reconciliation, the word of righteousness, the word of life, and the word of salvation. Now these are all words of knowledge; and are the means of a spiritual, experimental, and fiducial knowledge of Christ, which is preferable to all other knowledge, and even to everything in the world; and therefore care should be taken, and everything avoided that tends to cause to err from these words and doctrines, which convey, promote, and improve this knowledge. Jarchi and Aben Ezra transpose the words, thus;
"cease, my son, to err from the words of knowledge, to or that thou mayest hear instruction and the latter makes mention of such an interpretation, cease, my son, from the words of knowledge, if thou wouldest hear instruction, and after that err:''
that is, better never hear and know at all, than to turn from those doctrines and instructions; see 2 Peter 2:20.
and the mouth of the wicked devoureth iniquity; greedily, and with pleasure commits it; as a hungry man takes in his food; or a thirsty man drinks down water: and in like manner are false doctrines imbibed by men of perverse minds.
(z) "testis Belijahal", Montanus, Tigurine version, Baynus.