for the food of thy household; his wife and children:
and for maintenance for thy maidens: or "the lives" (x) of them, on which they should live; for, though menservants might require strong meat yet the maidens might live upon milk; besides, Athenaeus (y) speaks of most delicious cheese made of goats' milk, called "tromilicus". The design of the whole is to show that a man diligent in his business shall have a sufficiency for himself and his family; and, though it may be but the meaner sort of food and clothing he may get, yet, having food and raiment, he should therewith be content.
(w) Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 28. c. 9. Vid. Scheuehzer. Physic, Sacr. vol. 5. p. 1016. (x) "vitas", Montanus; "ad vitam", Gejerus; "life" is often put for "bread"; or for that by which life is maintained, both in Greek and Latin writers; so in Hesiod. Opera, l. 1. v. 31, 328. and "vita", in Plaut. Stichus, Acts 3. Sc. 2. v. 9. Trinum, Acts 2. Sc. 4. v. 76. (y) Deipnosoph. l. 14. c. 22. p. 658. see also l. 1. c. 8. p 10.
but the righteous are bold as a lion; which turns not away from any creature it meets with, nor mends its pace when it is pursued, but walks on intrepidly, and oftentimes lies down and sleeps in open places, and as securely as in woods and dens, being devoid of all fear; hence the heart of a valiant man is said to be as the heart of a lion, 2 Samuel 17:10; see Proverbs 30:30; so Pindar (z) compares a courageous man to a lion for boldness. Now righteous men are as bold as this creature, or more so; some of them have stopped the mouths of lions, and have dwelt securely in the midst of them, as righteous Daniel: and all righteous men are or may be as fearless as the lion; fear God they do, but have no reason to fear any other; and many of them are fearless of men, of their menaces and reproaches, or of anything they can do to them; since not only angels are their guardians, but God is on their side, and Christ has overcome the world for them: they are fearless of Satan and his principalities; they are delivered out of his hands; they know he is a coward, though a roaring lion, and when resisted will flee from thorn; yea, that he is a chained, conquered, enemy: and, though they are afraid of committing sin, yet are fearless of the damning power of it; Christ having bore their sins, made satisfaction for thong; for whose sake they are pardoned; and whose righteousness justifies and blood cleanses from all sin: they are fearless of death; its sting being removed, itself abolished as a penal evil, and become a blessing, and is the righteous man's, gain: they are fearless of wrath to come; Christ having delivered them from it, and they being justified by his blood: they are courageous as the lion in fighting the Lord's battles with sin, Satan, and the world, and in enduring hardiness as good soldiers of Christ; knowing their cause is good, that Christ is the Captain of their salvation, their spiritual armour is proved, and they are sure of victory and of a crown They are "confident" (a) as the lion, as the word may he rendered; they are confident of the love of God, of their interest in Christ, of the grace of God in their hearts, and that all things work together for their good; and that it is, and always will be, well with them, let things go how they will in the world, and so are secure. They are bold and undaunted, both before God and men; before God in prayer, knowing him to be their covenant God in Christ, having in view the blood and righteousness of Christ, and being assisted by his Spirit: and they are undaunted before men; if the righteous man is a minister of the word, he speaks it boldly, as it ought to be spoken, fearing the faces of none, knowing it to be the Gospel of Christ, the truth, as it is in him, and the power of God to salvation; and if a private Christian, he is a public professor of Christ, this word and ordinances, which he is not ashamed to own before all the world; in short, the righteous are bold in life and in death, and will be so in the day of judgment; and it is their righteousness which makes them so, from which they are denominated righteous, even not their own, but the righteousness of Christ.
(z) Isthm. 4. antistroph. 3. col. 1. v. 5. (a) "confiduat", Mercerus, Gejerus, Trigurine version; "confidet, vel confidere solet", Baynus; "confidit", Michaelis.
but by a man of understanding and knowledge the state thereof shall be prolonged, either by a set of wise and understanding, good and virtuous men, who will oppose the growing vice and immoralities of a people, and form themselves into societies for the reformation of manners; the word "man" being taken collectively for a body of men: or by a wise and prudent minister or ministry, or a set of civil magistrates, who will show themselves to be terrors to evildoers, and a praise to them that do well: or by a wise and prudent prince, who seeks to establish his throne by judgment and mercy; who will take care that justice and judgment be executed in the land, and that vice and profaneness be discouraged; by means of such, the state of a kingdom, which seemed near to ruin, will be prolonged, and the happiness and prosperity of it secured and established; and God, in mercy to it, may long preserve the life of their king, will being a good one, a long reign is always a happiness to a nation. And to this sense is the Vulgate Latin version, "the life of the prince shall be longer"; and the Targum, which is,
"and the sons of men that understand knowledge shall endure;''
see Ecclesiastes 9:15.
is like a sweeping rain which leaveth no food: like a violent hasty shower of rain; which, instead of watering the seed, herbs, and plants, and causing them to grow, as moderate rain does, it washes away the very seed sown in the earth, or beats out the ripe corn from the ears, or beats it down, so that it riseth not up again; the effect of which is, there is no bread to the eater, nor seed to the sower, and consequently a famine. The design of the proverb is, to show how unnatural as well as intolerable is the oppression of the poor, by one that has been poor himself; even as it is contrary to the nature and use of rain, which is to fructify, and not to sweep away and destroy; and which when it does, there is no standing against it or diverting it.
but such as keep the law contend with them; that is, with them that forsake it and praise the wicked; they are displeased with them, and show their resentment at them; they tend with them by arguments, and endeavour to convince them of their folly and wickedness; they prove them for it, even though they may be in high places, as John the Baptist reproved Herod. The Targum is,
"they contend with them, that they may return,''
or be converted; they strive and take pains with them, to convince them and bring them to repentance, and to a change of sentiments, life, and manners.
but they that seek the Lord understand all things; this character describes all good men that seek the Lord, in private and in public, that seek him by prayer and supplication, that wait upon him in the ordinances of his house; and all sensible sinners, who seek to Christ for righteousness, for rest, for life and salvation, for more grace from him, for more communion with him, for a greater degree of knowledge of him, and for immortality and eternal life, his kingdom and glory. And such "understand all things"; not in the most full and absolute sense; for this is proper and peculiar to God: nor all things natural and civil, which truly righteous persons, generally speaking, have the least share of, as arts, sciences, languages, trade and commerce in all its branches; and indeed universal knowledge of these things does not belong to anyone alan: nor all things in a religious sense; not all the difficult passages of Scripture, in which there are many things hard to be understood; but all things necessary to salvation; all things relating to their fallen, depraved, and miserable state and condition by nature, and to the way and means of their recovery and salvation by Christ; all things relating to a spiritual and saving knowledge of God in Christ; and to the knowledge of the person, offices, and grace of Christ; and to the work of the Spirit of God upon the heart; and of the doctrines of the Gospel, according to the measure of the gift of Christ, and so as to be food for their souls: and which understanding is given them, and they attain unto and increase in, by seeking the Lord, and using the means of knowledge, the word and ordinances; see 1 Corinthians 2:15. The Targum and Syriac version render it,
"that understand all good things;''
and so Aben Ezra interprets it: the Arabic version is, "they understand it in all things"; that is, judgment, justice, and equity, in all its branches, and practise it.
(b) "viri mali, (in genitivo casu)", Mercerus; "vel malitiae", Baynus, Gejerus.
than he that is perverse in his ways, though he be rich; or, "in his two ways" (c): that halts between two ways, or makes use of both; sometimes turns to the one, to the right hand, and sometimes to the other, to the left hand; or that pretends to the one, and walks in the other; would be thought to be a virtuous and religious man, and to walk in the paths of righteousness and truth, when he walks in those of sin and wickedness. And now a poor man that walks evenly and uprightly, according to the word of God and truth of the Gospel, in the commandments and ordinances of the Lord, and in the paths of faith and holiness, is better than he; more honourable, more comfortable, and happy in life and in death; he has grace now, and will have glory hereafter.
(c) Heb. "duabus viis", Piscator, Cocceius; "pervertens duas vias", Baynus; "duplici via", Michaelis; "gemina via", Schultens, so Ben Melech.
but he that is a companion of riotous men shameth his father: that keeps company with gluttons, and indulges his sensual appetite with them; that "feeds" (d) such persons and himself, as some render the word; that gives up himself to an epicurean life: he brings himself at last to disgrace and poverty, and so causes shame to his father; who will be charged with neglecting his education, and indulging him in such a luxurious way of living; see Proverbs 10:5.
(d) "qui pascit", V. L. Pagninus, Piscator, Gejerus, Schultens; "pascitar", Michaelis; "pascens", Montanus.
he shall gather it for him that will pity the poor; not for himself, nor for his posterity; but for such, though not intentionally but eventually, as will make a good use of it, and distribute it to the necessities of the poor. The meaning is, that things should be so overruled by the providence of God, that what such an avaricious man gets in his dishonest way should not be enjoyed by him or his; but should be taken out of his hands, and put into the hands of another, that will do good with it, by showing mercy to the poor; see Job 27:16.
(e) Politic. l. 1. c. 10. (f) A. Gell. Noct. Attic. l. 16. c. 12. (g) Plauti Pseudolos, Acts 4. Sc. 7. v. 23, 24. "Habet argentum jam admordere hune mihi lubet", Lucan. l. 1. v. 131. "Vorax usura."
even his prayer shall be abomination; that is, to God; not only his ungodly actions, but even his outward exercises of religion, which carry in them some show of goodness and holiness; and particularly his prayer to God, which in upright persons is the delight of the Lord; yet in such an one it will be abhorred by him; when he is in distress, and shall pray to the Lord, he will not only turn a deaf ear to him, as he has to his law or word, but he will despise and abhor him and his prayer; because he has set at nought his counsel, and despised his reproof, Proverbs 1:24.
he shall fall himself into his own pit; which he had dug and prepared for the righteous, who through the grace and goodness of God is preserved from it; the mischief intended for the good man falls upon himself in righteous, judgment, Psalm 7:15;
but the upright shall have, good things in possession; or "shall inherit good things" (h); they are heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ, and shall inherit all things; they have all good things in Christ, with him and from him now; nor can they be taken from them, or they be caused to lose them by all the policy and craft of men and devils, who seek to draw them into sin and snares with that view; but, notwithstanding all their efforts, they shall keep possession of their good things here, the grace of the spirit, and the blessings of grace, and shall enjoy glory hereafter.
(h) "haereditate accipient bonum", Pagninus, Montanus; "haereditabunt bonum", Michaelis; so Mercerus, Cocceius; "haereditatem cernent ubertatem boni", Schultens.
but the poor that hath understanding searcheth him out: a man of good understanding, whether in things natural, civil, moral, or spiritual, though poor, as a man may be poor and yet a wise man; such an one, when he comes into company with a rich man, wise in his own conceit, he soon by conversation with him finds him out to be a very foolish man, and exposes him as one; for riches are not always to men of understanding, or all that have them are not such; and better is a poor wise man than even a foolish king; see Ecclesiastes 9:11.
but when the wicked rise: to honour and dignity, and are set in high places, and are in great power and authority, which they exercise to the distress of the righteous and all good men:
a man is hidden: a good man; he hides himself, as in Proverbs 28:28; he withdraws himself from court, from city, from company, from commerce, and business, because of the tyranny and persecution of wicked men; and flees to distant places, and wanders in deserts and mountains, in caves and dens of the earth; as some saints, under the Old Testament, did, and as the Church, in Gospel times, fled from the tyranny of antichrist into the wilderness, to hide herself: or, "a man is" or "shall be sought for" (i), and searched out; as wicked persecutors are very diligent to search for and find out such persons that hide themselves, and fetch them out of their hiding places, and cruelly use them.
(i) "investigabitur", Pagninus, Montanus; "exploratur", Tigurine version; "explorabitur", Baynus; "pervestigatur", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Michaelis.
but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy; who confesses them to men privately and publicly, according to the nature of the offences, from whom they find mercy; but not to a priest, in order for absolution, which no man can give; sin is only in this sense to be confessed to God, against it is committed, and who only can pardon it; and though it is known unto him, yet he requires an acknowledgment of it, which should be done from the heart, with an abhorrence of the sin, and in the faith of Christ, as a sacrifice for it; and it is not enough to confess, there must be a forsaking likewise, a parting with sin, a denying of sinful self, a leaving the former course of sin, and a quitting the company of wicked men before used to, and an abstaining from all appearance of evil; as is and will be the case, where there is a true sight and sense of sin, and the grace of God takes place: and such find "mercy", pardoning grace and mercy, or pardon in a way of mercy, and not merit; for though the sinner confesses and forsakes it, it is not that which merits pardon and mercy in God, who is rich in it, delights in showing it, and from whom it may be hoped for and expected by all such persons; see Psalm 32:5. So the Targum and Syriac version, God will have mercy on him.
but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief; that hardens his heart from the fear of the Lord; neither confesses his sin, nor forsakes it; bids, as it were, defiance to heaven, strengthens and hardens himself in his wickedness, and by his hard and impenitent heart treasures up to himself wrath against the day of wrath; he falls "into evil" (k), as it may be rendered, into the evil of sin yet more and more, which the hardness of his heart brings him into, and so into the evil of punishment here and hereafter.
(k) "in malum", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, Tigurine version, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Schultens.
so is a wicked ruler over the poor people; one that rules over them in a tyrannical manner, sadly oppresses them, takes away the little from them they have, which is very cruel and barbarous; when he ought to protect and defend them, against whom they cannot stand, and whom they dare not resist; and who therefore must be as terrible to them, being as cruel and voracious as the above animals. Tyrants are frequently compared to lions, Jeremiah 4:7; and the man of sin, the wicked ruler and great oppressor of God's poor people, is compared to both; his feet are as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion, Revelation 13:2.
(l) "avidus", Pagninus, Montanus; "famelicus", Castalio, Schultens; "esuriens", V. L. Vatablus, Mercerus, Gejerus, Bochart; "adpetens", Michaelis. (m) "Leo fremit", Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 8. c. 16. "Spumat aper, fluit unda, fremit leo, sibilat anguis"; Licentius de Protheo. (n) "Nec vespertinus circumgemit ursus ovile", Epod. Ode 16. v. 51.
but he that hateth covetousness shall prolong his days; to hate covetousness is a good qualification of a civil magistrate, prince, or ruler, Exodus 18:21. This sin is the cause of a wicked prince oppressing his subjects; but where it is hated, which is seen by moderation in government, and easing of the people as much as possible; such a prince, as he has the hearts of his subjects, is well pleasing to God, by whom he reigns; and such an one, through the prayers of the people for him, and the goodness of God unto him, lives long, and reigns prosperously; and dies, as David, in a good old age, full of days, riches, and honour.
(o) "multus oppressionibus", Montanus, Junius & Tremeilius, Piscator, Mercerus, Baynus, Michaelis, Schultens. (p) So Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Gejerus, and some Jewish writers in Vatablus.
shall flee to the pit; let no man stay him; support or help him. When such a murderer flees, and is pursued, and unawares falls into a pit, or is like to do so, let no man warn him of it, or help him out of it; or if he flees to a pit to hide himself, let no man hold him or detain him there, or suffer him to continue in such a lurking place, but discover him or pluck him out; or, if he is a fugitive and a vagabond all his days, as Cain, the murderer of his brother, was, till he comes to the pit of the grave, let no man yield him any support or sustenance.
(q) "pressus propter sanguinem animae", Amama, Cartwright; so R. Joseph Kimchi in D. Kimchii Sepher Shorash rad.
but he that is perverse in his ways; "in his two ways", as in Proverbs 27:6; or many ways, and all perverse and wicked:
shall fall at once; his destruction shall come suddenly upon him, when he is not aware of it, and when he cries, Peace, peace, to himself: or in one of them; in one or other of his perverse ways.
(r) "erit salvus", Pagninus, Montanus, V. L. Mercerus, Cocceius, Gejerus.
but he that followeth, after vain persons; empty idle persons; keeps company and spends his time with them, when he should be about the business of his calling:
shall have poverty enough; or be "filled with it" (t); he shall be exceeding poor, reduced to the utmost distress, be clothed in rags and destitute of daily food.
(s) "saturabitur pane", Pagninus, Montanus, Mercerus, Gejerus, Schultens. (t) "satiabitur", Tigurine version, Mercerus, Cocceius, Michaelis; "saturabitur", Pagninus, Montanus, Gejerus, Schultens.
but he that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent; he that is over anxious, and immoderately desirous of being rich, and pursues every method of obtaining his desires, with all his might and main; that labours night and day for it; though he takes no criminal nor unlawful methods, properly so called, nor does he do anything injurious to others, yet he is not innocent; that too much anxiety in him is criminal; nor is he free from covetousness; see Proverbs 23:4; and if he uses any unjust and unlawful means to acquire wealth, and resolves to be rich, right or wrong, "per fas, per nefas", he shall not be innocent, neither before God nor men: so the Targum renders it,
"he that runs into iniquity, that he may be rich;''
and indeed when a man hastily, or in a short time, becomes rich, though he cannot be directly charged with fraud and injustice, yet he is not innocent in the minds of men, or free from their suspicious and jealousies of him. A man that makes haste to be rich is opposed to him that is faithful and true to his word and contracts, and is the same that Juvenal (y) calls "avarus properans"; see 1 Timothy 6:9.
(u) "vir fidelitatum", Vatablus, Merceras, Piscator, Gejerus, Michaelis. (w) "multus benedictionibus", Montanus, Vatablus, Baynus, Michaeiis. (x) "Vir veritatum", Montanus. (y) Satyr. 14. v. 178.
for for a piece of bread that man will transgress; the laws of God and men; having used himself to such unrighteous methods of proceeding, he will do any base action for a small gain, he will stick at nothing, and do it for anything; as Cato used to say of M. Coelius the tribune,
"that he might be hired, for a morsel of bread, to speak or hold his peace;''
see Ezekiel 13:19.
hath an evil eye; on the substance of others, to get it, right or wrong; is an evil man, and takes evil methods to be rich (a); see 1 Timothy 6:9; or an envious one; is an envious man; as the Septuagint and Arabic versions; he envies others, as the Vulgate Latin version, the riches of other men; he grudges everything that goes beside himself; and that makes him in haste to be rich, that he may be equal to or superior to others: or he is a sordid, avaricious, illiberal man, that will not part with anything for the relief, for others, and is greedy of everything to amass wealth to himself; an evil eye is opposed to a good or bountiful one, that is, to a man that is liberal and generous, Proverbs 22:9;
and considereth not that poverty shall come upon him; for wealth gotten hastily, and especially wrongfully, diminishes, wastes, and comes to nothing in the end; it sometimes flies away as fast as it comes; it has wings to do the one, as well as the other: this the man in haste to be rich does not consider, or he would have taken another method; since this is not the true way of getting and keeping riches, but of losing them, and coming to want; see Proverbs 13:11.
(z) "Nam dives qui fieri vult, et cito vult fieri", Juvenal. Satyr. 14. v. 176. (a) "Sed quae reverentia legum? quis metus, ant pudor est unquam properantis avari?" Juvenal, ib.
"he that rebukes a man before him;''
openly, to his thee: but rather it may be rendered "behind"; that is, as Cocceius interprets it, apart, alone, privately, and secretly, when they are by themselves; which agrees with Christ's instructions, Matthew 18:15;
afterwards shall find more favour than he that flattereth with the tongue; for though the reproofs given him may uneasy upon his mind at first, and may be cutting and wounding, and give him some pain, and so some dislike to the reprover; yet when he coolly considers the nature and tendency of the reproof, the manner in which it was given, and the design of it, he will love, value, and esteem his faithful friend and rebuker, more than the man that fawned upon him, and flattered him with having done that which was right and well; or, as the Targum, than he that divideth the tongue, or is doubletongued; and so the Syriac version; see Proverbs 27:5.
(b) "post me", Montanus, Tigurine version, Baynus; so some in Vatablus and Michaelis, R. Saadiah Gaon; "ut sequatur me", Junius & Tremellius.
and saith, it is no transgression; what is his father's or his mother's is his own, or as good as his own, it will come to him at their death; and if he wants it before, he thinks he ought to have it; and if they are not willing to give it him, it is with him no sin to rob them of it; and this he says within himself, to quiet his conscience when he has done it; or to others who may charge him with it: but, whatever such a man thinks, sins against parents are greater than against others; as parricide is a greater sin than any other kind of murder, so robbing of parents is greater than any other kind of theft; it is more aggravated, especially when parents are aged, and cannot work for themselves, but depend on what they have for their livelihood; whereas a young man can, and ought, and should rather give to his parents than rob them of what they have;
the same is the companion of a destroyer; of a murderer; either he has got into such company which have put him upon such wicked practices; or he will soon get into such a society, and, from a robber of his father and mother, become a robber on the highway, and a murderer; and he has wickedness enough to be a destroyer of the lives of his parents, as well as of their substance; and sometimes the one sin leads to the other.
but he that putteth his trust in the Lord shall be made fat; that trusts in the Lord, both for things temporal and spiritual; does not covet his neighbour's goods, nor disturbs his peace, nor injures his person or property to increase his own, but depends upon the Lord for a supply of necessary good things; such an one shall be fat and flourishing, both in his temporal and spiritual estate; all he does shall prosper; he shall want no good thing, Psalm 84:11.
(c) "latus animo", Pagninus, Montanus, Tigurine version; "amplus animo suo": Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "latus anima", Mercerus, Cocceius.
but whoso walketh wisely; as he does who walks according to the rule of the divine word; who makes the testimonies of the Lord his counsellors; who consults with his sacred writings, and follows the directions of them; who walks as he has Christ for his pattern and example, and makes the Spirit of God his guide, and walks after him, and not after the flesh; who walks with wise men, and takes their advice in all matters of moment, not trusting to his own wisdom and knowledge; who walks as becomes the Gospel of Christ, and in all the ordinances of it; who walks inoffensively to all men, and so in wisdom towards them that are without, and in love to them who are within; who walks circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time;
he shall be delivered; he shall be delivered from the snares of his own deceitful heart, which he will not trust; and from the temptations of Satan; and from all afflictions and troubles he meets with in the way; and from a final and total falling away; and from eternal death and destruction: "he shall be saved", as some versions render it, even with an everlasting salvation. The Targum is,
"he shall be protected from evil.''
but he that hideth his eyes; that is, from the poor, as the Targum and Syriac version add; that does not care to see his person, to behold his miseries, or know his case, lest his heart should be moved with compassion, and should draw out anything from him; see Isaiah 58:7. Such an one
shall have many a curse; not only from the poor he hardens himself against, but from other persons, who observe his miserable and covetous disposition; and from the Lord himself, who abhors such persons, and curses their very blessings now, and will bid them depart from him as accursed persons hereafter.