he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men, or "obscure persons" (o); he shall not continue in the service of ignoble persons, or keep company with them; but he shall be taken into the service of princes and noble men, and be admitted into their presence, and receive favours from them; as Joseph, who was industrious and diligent in his business in Potiphar's house, was in process of time advanced, and stood before Pharaoh king of Egypt, Genesis 39:4. This may be spiritually applied. Every good man has a work or business to do in a religious way; some in a higher sphere, as officers of churches, ministers and deacons; the work of the one lies in reading, study, meditation, and prayer, in the ministration of the word and ordinances, and other duties of their once; and the business of the others in taking care of the poor, and the secular affairs of the churches; others in a lower way, and common to all Christians, which lies in the exercise of grace, and performance of all good works, relative to themselves, their families, and the church of God. Now ministers that are diligent in teaching and ruling; and deacons that do their office well; and private Christians, who are steadfast and immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord; are ready to every good work, heartily engaged in it, and constantly at it; shall not be company for the sons of darkness, unregenerate men, who are in the dark, and darkness itself; what communion has light with darkness, with works of darkness, they should be not workers of? or have any fellowship with the prince of darkness, from whose power they are delivered; but shall have society with the saints, who are made kings and priests unto God; shall be admitted into the presence of the King of kings now, and have communion with him; and shall stand before him at the great day with confidence, and not be ashamed; shall stand at his right hand, and shall be for ever with him. So the Jews (p) interpret this place, "he shall not stand before dark ones", in hell; "he shall stand before kings", in the garden of Eden, in paradise; that is, in heaven.
(o) "ante obscuros", Mercerus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "coram obscuris", Cocceius, Gejerus, Michaelis; "in conspectu obscurorum", Schultens. (p) Gloss. in T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 104. 2.
consider diligently what is before thee; or, "considering consider" (q): take special notice of the food and drink set upon the table, and consider well which may be most proper and safe to eat and drink of; for though a man may lawfully eat of whatsoever is set before him; every creature of God being good, if it be received with thanksgiving, and sanctified by the word of God and prayer; yet it is a piece of wisdom to make use of that which is most conducive to health, and less ensnaring; and to observe moderation in all, and not indulge to gluttony and drunkenness: and he should consider also who is before him, which sense the words wilt bear; the ruler that has invited him, and sits at the table with him, and take care that he says or does nothing that may give him offence; and also the noble personages that are guests with him, and behave towards them suitably to their rank and dignity; observe their words and conduct, and imitate the same; yea, even he should consider the servants and waiters that attend, lest, behaving in an indecent and disorderly manner, they should report it to his disadvantage to their ruler or others. But how much greater an honour is it to sit at table with the King of kings, and with his princes, and sup with him! when it becomes the saints, who have this honour, to consider what is set before them; the richest dainties, a feast of things, the body and blood of Christ, which should he spiritually discerned by faith; and not the elements of bread and wine only: likewise the persons before whom they are should be considered; Christ, who sits at his table, and the princes of his people with him; and therefore should not feed without fear, and in a disorderly and indecent manner, as the Corinthians are charged, but with all reverence and humility.
(q) "considerando considera", Pagninus, Vatablus, Piscator, Mercerus, Gejerus.
if thou be a man given to appetite; there is then the more danger; and therefore such a person should be doubly on his guard, since he is in the way of temptation to that he is naturally inclined to. Or, "if thou art master of appetite" (r): so the Targum,
"if thou art master of thy soul;''
if thou hast power over it, and the command of it, and canst restrain it with ease; to which agrees the Vulgate Latin version: but the former sense is more agreeable to the Hebrew idiom.
(r) "dominus animae", Vatablus, Mercerus, Michaelis.
for they are deceitful meat; or, "bread of lies" (t): through the pleasant and agreeable taste of them, they lead on to luxury and excess before a man is aware, and so deceive him; they promise him a great deal of pleasure, but, being too much indulged to, they produce sickness and nauseousness. Some think they are called so, from the intention and issue of them; being designed to draw out secrets, which men are very apt to divulge, when they have ate and drank freely. Some apply this to false doctrines, which are framed sometimes in a very plausible manner, and deceive the simple; are bread of lies, lies in hypocrisy, and are very pernicious; such words eat, as do a canker, instead of yielding solid nourishment.
(s) "ne concupiscas", Pagninus, Montanus, Mercerus, Cocceius, Gejerus, Schultens; "ne coucupiscito", Piscator. (t) "panis mendaciorum", Montanus, Munster, Vatablus, Mercerus, Cocceius, Gejerus, Michaelis; "cibus mendaciorum", Piscator, Schultens.
"do not draw nigh to a rich man;''
and so the Syriac version; to which agree the Septuagint and Arabic versions;
cease from thine own wisdom; worldly wisdom in getting; riches, as if this was the highest point of wisdom; do not be always laying schemes, forming projects, inventing new things in order to get money; or do not depend upon thine own wisdom and understanding and expect to be rich by means thereof; for bread is not always to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, Ecclesiastes 9:11. The Targum is,
"but by thine understanding depart from him;''
the rich man; and to the same purpose the Syriac and Arabic versions.
(u) "ne fatiges", Mercerus, Junius & Tremellius; "ne hiascas", Schultens.
"do not lift up thine eyes to riches which thou canst not have;''
riches no doubt are intended, and which may be said to be "not"; they are not the true riches, have only the shadow and appearance of riches; they are not lasting and durable; in a little time they will not be; they are perishing things, they have no substance or solidity in them; they are not satisfying; they do not make them happy; they are rather nonentities than realities; and therefore the eyes of the mind and the affections of the heart should not be set on them: it may be rendered, "wilt thou cause thine eyes to fly upon that which is not?" (w) denoting the intenseness of the mind, and the eagerness of the affections, and with what rapidity and force they move towards them. The Targum is,
"if thou fixest thine eyes on him, he shall not appear to thee;''
meaning the rich man: and so the Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic versions. Ben Melech makes mention of other senses very different; according to R. Judah, the word signifies darkness, "wilt thou make thine eyes dark?" two according to others, signifies light, "wilt thou make thine eyes to shine?" and, according to Jarchi, "wilt thou double?", or shut thine eyes?
for riches certainly make themselves wings; or, "it in making makes itself wings" (x); even that which is not, on which men cause their eyes to fly; no sooner are their eyes upon that, but that flies away from them like a bird with wings; see Hosea 9:11. Either men are taken from that, or that from them, and sometimes very swiftly and suddenly;
they fly away as an eagle towards heaven; the eagle flies very swiftly, none more swiftly; it flies towards heaven, out of sight, and out of reach, and out of call; so riches flee away to God, the original giver of them, from whence they came, and who is the sole disposer of them; they own him as the proprietor and distributor of them; and they flee to heaven as it were for fresh orders where they should be, and into whose hands they should come next; they flee away, so as not to be seen any more, and be recovered by those who have formerly enjoyed them.
(w) "numquid involare facies", Michaelis; "ut involent", Junius & Tremellius; "ut volent", Piscator; "ad sineves volare", Cocceius. (x) "quis faciendo faciet", Montanus, Baynus.
neither desire thou his dainty meats; or savoury food, so as to lust after it; See Gill on Proverbs 23:3.
eat and drink, saith he to thee, but his heart is not with thee; he bids you eat and drink, but he does not desire you should, at least but very sparingly; it is only a mere compliment, not a hearty welcome.
and lose thy sweet words; expressed in thankfulness to the master of the feast, in praise of his food, in pleasantry with him, and the other guests at table; all which are repented of when a man finds he is not welcome.
for he will despise the wisdom of thy words; not only the words of doctrine, reproof, and correction, but the "wisdom" of them; or let them be ever so wisely spoken; for if the wisdom of God and his words, the truths of the Gospel, are foolishness with such, and despised by them, then much more the wisdom even of the best of men, and the wisest things they say; yea, when they deliver the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom, the Gospel of Christ, which therefore should be spoken among them that are perfect, 1 Corinthians 1:24.
and enter not into the fields of the fatherless; to carry off the increase of them, to reap their wheat, or mow their grass, or turn in cattle to eat it; or to encroach upon them, take in any part of them, or join the whole to their own; for if there is a woe to them that lay field to field, much more to them that enter into and take the fields of the fatherless, and join them to their own, Isaiah 5:8.
he shall plead their cause with thee; or "against thee", as the Vulgate Latin version; and will certainly carry it for them, and against thee; for, when he undertakes a cause, he pleads it thoroughly.
and thine ears to the words of knowledge; the doctrines of the Gospel, which are the means of the knowledge of God and Christ, and of all divine, spiritual, and heavenly tidings; and of a growth in the knowledge of them; and therefore should be diligently hearkened and cordially attended to.
(y) "adduc", Piscator; "vel fac ingredi", Pagninus, Montanus, Mercerus; "adduc et quasi praesens siste", Michaelis,
for, if thou beatest him with a rod, he shall not die; if he be beaten moderately, there is no danger of his dying under the rod, or with the stripes given him; besides, such moderate and proper corrections may be a means of preserving him from such crimes as would bring him to a shameful and untimely death, and so he shall not die such a death; and by such means, through the grace of God, he may escape the second, or eternal death.
and shalt deliver his soul from hell; be a means of preventing those sins which would bring to hell and destruction; and of bringing to repentance for those committed; and so of saving his soul, which should be the chief thing parents should have in view in chastising their children; the salvation of whose souls should be dear unto them, as it is to all truly gracious and thoughtful ones.
my heart shall rejoice, even mine; it shall certainly and greatly rejoice; these words are spoken either by Solomon, who had a wise heart himself, and that either to his son, for whom he desired the same, nothing being more rejoicing to pious parents than to see their children becomes wise, especially in spiritual things; or else to those that attended on him for instruction, who was a preacher in Jerusalem; and what is the joy and crown of rejoicing of ministers but their converts, and to see them walking in the truth? 1 Thessalonians 2:19, 3 John 1:4; or these words are spoken by Wisdom, that is, by Christ, to his children; who rejoices when he has found them, or when they are converted, and become wise in a spiritual sense, and walk worthy, whereby Wisdom is justified of her children, Luke 15:5; yea, there is joy in heaven, joy among the angels there, and even in the father of Christ, and of his people, Luke 15:7.
when thy lips speak right things; as they will, when the heart is wise; things agreeably to right reason, to the Scriptures of truth, the oracles of God; to the law and to the testimony; to the Gospel of Christ, and the doctrines of it; and such things as are savoury, pleasant, and profitable, and minister grace to the hearers. The Targum is,
"when my lips speak right things;''
see Proverbs 8:6.
but be thou in the fear of the Lord all the day long; let the fear of God be always before thine eyes and in thine heart; be continually in the exercise of fear, which is attended with faith and trust in the Lord; with love and affection to him, and joy and delight in him; be constantly employed in the duties of religion, private and public, which the fear of God includes; and this will be a preservative from envying, murmuring, and fretting at the outward happiness of wicked men; and from joining with them in their evil ways. Aben Ezra, and who is followed by some others, render it, "but emulate or imitate the men that fear the Lord all the day long" (a); be followers of them, and do as they do; let their constant piety and devotion stir up a holy emulation in thee to copy after them and exceed them; but the former sense is best.
(z) "ne aemuletur", Pagninus, Montanus, Tigurine version, Junius et Tremellius, Piscator, Mercerus, Cocceius, Gejerus, Michaelis. (a) "Aemulare virum timentem, Jehovam", Vatablus.
and thine expectation shall not be cut off; or "hope" (c); as an hypocrite's is; for the hope of a saint is well founded upon the person and righteousness of Christ, and is an anchor sure and steadfast; his expectation of grace, and every needful supply of it, while in this life, and of eternal glory and happiness in the world to come, shall not perish; but he shall enjoy what he is hoping, expecting, and waiting for.
(b) "merces", Pagninnus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Gejerus; so Ben Melech. (c) "spes tua", Pagninus, Montanus, Mercerus, Gejerus, Michaelis.
and guide thine heart in the way; in the way of the Lord, in the way of wisdom and understanding, in the way of truth and faith, in the way of religious worship, in the way of the commandments and ordinances of the Lord; in all which the heart should be guided and directed, or otherwise it will be of no avail.
among riotous eaters of flesh; flesh may be lawfully eaten, but not in a riotous manner, so as to indulge to gluttony and surfeiting; nor should such persons be kept company with that do so, lest their ways should be learned and imitated.
and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags; excessive eating and drinking brings drowsiness on men, unfits them for business, and makes them idle and slothful; and spending all on their bellies, they have nothing for their backs, and are clothed in rags; see Proverbs 24:33.
and despise not thy mother when she is old; despise not her counsels, instructions, and advice, though she is old; and because she is so, do not reject them as old wives' fables, or as the silly talk of an old woman, as young men are too apt to do.
also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding; that is, buy these also, and sell them no; "wisdom" is to be prized above everything; it is the principal thing, and should be got; all means should he used to obtain it; it may be bought without money; it should be asked of God, who gives it liberally, and, being had, should be held fast: the "instruction" the Scriptures give, the instruction of the Gospel, the instruction of Wisdom, should be valued above gold and silver, and diligently sought after; should be laid fast hold on and not parted with: "understanding" of divine and spiritual things is to be gotten; happy is the man that gets it; and above all gettings this should be got, and all means made rise of to improve and increase it. The Targum, Syriac, and Vulgate Latin versions, connect these with the word sell only, thus, "buy the truth, and sell not wisdom, and instruction, and understanding"; but as buying and selling both refer to truth, so likewise to these also. The whole verse is wanting in the Septuagint and Arabic versions.
and he that begetteth a wise child shall have joy of him; especially if he is wise in the best things; if he is wise unto salvation; he may be wise and knowing in things natural, have a good share of wit and sense, and be wise in worldly things, which may yield a pleasure to a natural man his parent; but, if he is a good man, he will have greater joy of his son if he is wise in the first sense. The mother and grandmother of Timothy had no doubt great joy of him, who, from a child, knew the holy Scriptures; and so had the elect lady of her children, who were walking in the truth; and so has our heavenly Father of his children, who are righteous and wise through his grace.
(d) "exultando exultabit", Paguinus, Montanus, Mercerus, Gejerus, Michaelis; "gaudendo gaudebit", Cocceias.
and she that bare thee shall rejoice; thy mother particularly, who bore and brought thee forth with so much pain, and brought thee up with so much care and trouble, will think it an to much recompence for all, if thou art truly wise and religious. Some accommodate this to God our heavenly Father, and to the church, the Jerusalem above, the mother of us all.
(e) "guadeat", V. L. "laetetur", Tigurine version, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "fac ut laetetur", Mercerus, Gejerus; "exhilaretur", Schultens.
and let thine eyes observe my ways; the ways which Wisdom, or Christ, took in eternity and time, in order to bring about the salvation of his people; his steps in the covenant of grace, as their surety; his coming down from heaven to earth, to do the will of his Father; his going away from hence, by submitting to the accursed death of the cross, thereby making peace and reconciliation for sin; his ascension to heaven, and session at the right hand of God, where he ever lives to intercede for us; the various methods of his grace, in calling and visiting his people, supplying their wants, protecting their persons, and preserving them safe to his kingdom and glory: these should be observed, with attention and wonder, to the encouragement of faith, and for the magnifying of the riches of grace: also the ways which he prescribes and directs his children to walk in; as himself, who is the way to the Father, the way of life and salvation; the way of faith in him, the way of truth concerning hath; the way of holiness and righteousness he leads in; the ways of his commandments; the ways in which he himself walked; all which should be observed by the enlightened eyes of the understanding, and be imitated, and copied after, and walked in; respect should be had unto them all; they should be observed and kept, as they are directed to, and in faith and love, without depending on them. Some render the words, "let thine eyes run through my ways" (f): take a thorough and exact view of them. There is a letter transposed in the word rendered "observe", which occasions a different reading; "as is a man's heart, so are his eyes"; if his heart is to Christ, his eyes will be in his ways; and, where Christ's ways are not observed, the heart is not given to him.
(f) "currant", Mercerus; "currere edomentur", Schultens.
and a strange woman is a narrow pit; or "well" (i); into which when men fall, they bruise themselves in a terrible manner, by beating from side to side; and out of which they cannot extricate themselves; at least not easily, but with great difficulty, if ever. This may very well be applied to the whore of Rome, and the filthiness of her fornications; and the dreadful state of those who are drawn in to commit fornication with her.
(g) Truculaetus, Acts 2. Sc. 7. v. 16, 17. "Lucuculetum coenum", Bacchides, Acts 3. Sc. 1. v. 11. "Lutea meretrix", Trucul. Acts 4. Sc. 4. v. 1l. (h) Sydonius Apollinar. l. 9. Ephesians 6. (i) "putens", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Michaelis, Schultens.
"as a beast ravening, she lies in wait with her eyes;''
and increaseth the transgressors among men; there is none that occasions wore sin, or makes more sinners, than a whorish woman; swearing, lying, drunkenness, thieving, stealing, housebreaking, robbing on the highway, &c. are the sins she leads into. Or, "increaseth treacherous" (l) persons; to God, to their king, to their wives, to their master's; and all that they may consume, what they can get by perfidious practices, upon them, or,
"perfidious persons among men, she adds "to herself" (m);''
she gets a parcel of abandoned wretches about her, whom she employs as her panders for her lust, or as bullies to spoil her gallants of their substance, or murder them for the sake of it.
(k) "tanquam vir praedae", Vatablus; "ut praedator", Mercerus, Gejerus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "ut raptor", Cocceius; "velut praedo", Michaelis; "ut harpago", Schultens. (l) "perfidos", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Schultens. (m) "adjungitque sibi", Tigurine version.
who hath sorrow? through pains of body, with the headache, &c. or through the agonies of the mind, and tortures of conscience, for sin committed; or through poverty and want, so Aben Ezra derives the word from one that signifies "poor"; and so it may be rendered, "who hath poverty" (n)? the drunkard; see Proverbs 23:21;
who hath contentions? quarrels and lawsuits, which often come of drunken bouts;
who hath babbling? or "loquacity" (o)? which drunkards are subject to; much vain babbling, foolish talk, scurrilous language, scoffs, jeers, especially at religion and religious men; and sometimes such men are full of talk about religion itself, and make great pretensions to it, and the knowledge of it, in their cups, when out of them they think and talk nothing about it;
who hath wounds without cause? from words, oftentimes, drunkards go to blows upon the most frivolous accounts; fight with one another for no reason at all, and get themselves beaten and bruised for nothing;
who hath redness of eyes? the drunkard has, inflamed with wine or strong drink; which, drank frequently and to excess, is the cause of sore eyes, as well as of weakening the sight; or, however, leaves a redness there, and in other parts of the face, whereby those sons of Bacchus may be known: so it is observed (p) of Vitellius the emperor, that his face was commonly red through drunkenness. Hillerus renders it, "blackness of eyes"; such as comes from blows received; taking the word to be of the same signification with the Arabic word which so signifies: this agrees with the preceding clause; and is countenanced by the Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic versions.
(n) "cui egestas", Montanus, Amama; "cuinam penuria", Vatablus. (o) "loquacitas", Pagninus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Mercerus; so the Targum. (p) Sueton. Vita ejus, c. 17.
they that go to seek mixed wine, not wine mixed with water, as used commonly by temperate people in hot countries; but either mixed with spices, to make it more palatable, or with different sorts of wine, some very strong, and more heady and intoxicating; or mere wine meant; wine "poured out", as the word (q) signifies, where there is plenty of it; and such as are given to wine go and seek out such places, and where the best is to be had. So the Targum,
"they go and seek the house of mixture, or mixed wine;''
or, as the Syriac version,
"the house of feasting;''
and so the Arabic:
"where there are junketing and drinking bouts,''
as the Septuagint.
(q) "calicibus epotandi", V. L.
when it giveth his colour in the cup: or, its eye in the cup (s); such a bright, brisk, and beautiful colour, as is like a bright and sparkling eye. Here is a various reading; it is written in the text, "in the purse" (t); it is read in the margin, "in the cup"; and Jarchi's note takes in both,
"he that drinks wine sets his eye on the cup; and the vintner sets his on his purse;''
when it moveth itself aright; sparkles in the glass, or goes down the throat pleasantly; or rather looks well to the eye, and appears right and good, and promises a great deal of satisfaction and delight.
(r) "quia", some in Mercerus, Gejerus. (s) "oculum suum", Montanus, Gejerus, Michaelis. (t) "in crumena, vel marsupio", Mercerus.
and stingeth like an adder; or "spreads" (u), or separates and scatters; that is, its poison. So the Vulgate Latin version, "diffuseth poisons as a basilisk", or "cockatrice"; the Targum and Syriac version,
"as a serpent which flies;''
it signifies the same as before.
(u) "jecur diffindet", Schultens.
and thine heart shall utter perverse things; or the mouth, from the abundance of the heart, and imagination of it, shall utter things contrary to sense and reason, contrary to truth and righteousness, contrary to chastity and good manners, contrary to their own honour and credit, contrary to God and men; the mouth then utters all that is in the heart, which it at other times conceals. It may have a particular respect to the unchaste, filthy, and obscene words, uttered to strange women, into whose company men fall when in liquor.
(w) "Vina parant animos Veneri", Ovid. de Arte Amandi, l. 1.
or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast: where the motion is the greatest. Or all this may be expressive of the dangers which a drunkard is exposed unto, and of his stupidity and insensibility; for though he is in as great danger as one in the circumstances described, in a storm at sea, yet is not sensible of it; which agrees with what follows.