Verse 1 It seems hard to believe that men of the greatest abilities, as well as the ignorant, should render themselves fools and madmen, merely for the taste or excitement produced by strong liquors. Verse 2 . How formidable kings are to those who provoke them! how much more foolish then is it to provoke the King of kings! Verse 3 . To engage in quarrels is the greatest folly that can be. Yield, and even give up just demands, for peace' sake. Verse 4 . He who labours and endures hardship in his seed-time for eternity, will be properly diligent as to his earthly business. Verse 5 . Though many capable of giving wise counsel are silent, yet something may be drawn from them, which will reward those who obtain it. Verse 6 . It is hard to find those that have done, and will do more good than they speak, or care to hear spoken of. Verse 7 . A good man is not liable to uneasiness in contriving what he shall do, or in reflecting on what he has done, as those who walk in deceit. And his family fare better for his sake. Verse 8 . If great men are good men, they may do much good, and prevent very much evil. Verse 9 . Some can say, Through grace, we are cleaner than we have been; but it was the work of the Holy Spirit. Verse 10 . See the various deceits men use, of which the love of money is the root. The Lord will not bless what is thus gotten. Verse 11 . Parents should observe their children, that they may manage them accordingly. Verse 12 . All our powers and faculties are from God, and are to be employed for him. Verse 13 . Those that indulge themselves, may expect to want necessaries, which should have been gotten by honest labour. Verse 14 . Men use arts to get a good bargain, and to buy cheap; whereas a man ought to be ashamed of a fraud and a lie. Verse 15 . He that prefers true knowledge to riches, follows the ways of religion and happiness. If we really believed this truth, the word of God would be valued as it deserves, and the world would lose its tempting influence. Verse 16 . Those ruin themselves who entangle themselves in rash suretiship. Also those who are in league with abandoned women. Place no confidence in either. Verse 17 . Wealth gotten by fraud may be sweet, for the carnal mind takes pleasure in the success of wicked devices; but it will be bitter in the reflection. Verse 18 . Especially we need advice in spiritual warfare. The word and Spirit of God are the best counsellors in every point. Verse 19 . Those dearly buy their own praise, who put confidence in a man because he speaks fairly. Verse 20 . An undutiful child will become very miserable. Never let him expect any peace or comfort. Verse 21 . An estate suddenly raised, is often as suddenly ruined. Verse 22 . Wait on the Lord, attend his pleasure, and he will protect thee. Verse 23 . A bargain made by fraud will prove a losing bargain in the end. Verse 24 . How can we form plans, and conduct business, independently of the Lord? Verse 25 . The evasions men often use with their own consciences show how false and deceitful man is. Verse 26 . Justice should crush the wicked, and separate them from the virtuous. Verse 27 . The rational soul and conscience are as a lamp within us, which should be used in examining our dispositions and motives with the revealed will of God. Verse 28 . Mercy and truth are the glories of God's throne. Verse 29 . Both young and old have their advantages; and let neither despise or envy the other. Verse 30 . Severe rebukes sometimes do a great deal of good. But such is the corruption of nature, that men are loth to be rebuked for their sins. If God uses severe afflictions, to purify our hearts and fit us for his service, we have cause to be very thankful.
Proverbs 20:1-30 .
1. mocker--scorner. Such men are made by wine.
strong drink--made by spicing wine (compare Isaiah 5:11 Isaiah 5:22 ); and it may include wine.
raging--or boisterous as a drunkard.
deceived--literally, "erring," or reeling.
2. (Compare Proverbs 19:12 ). Men who resist authority injure themselves ( Romans 13:2 ).
3. to cease from strife--or, better, "to dwell from or without strife," denoting the habit of life.
fool . . . meddling--( Proverbs 17:14 ).
4. shall . . . beg--literally, "ask" (in this sense, Psalms 109:10 ).
5. Counsel . . . water--that is, deeply hidden ( Proverbs 18:4 , Psalms 13:2 ). The wise can discern well.
6. Boasters are unreliable.
goodness--or, "kind disposition."
7. The conduct of good men proclaims their sound principles. God's covenant and their good example secure blessing to their children ( Proverbs 4:26 , Psalms 112:1 Psalms 112:2 ).
8. As in Proverbs 14:35 , Proverbs 16:10 Proverbs 16:15 , this is the character of a good king, not of all kings.
9. The interrogation in the affirmative strengthens the implied negation (compare Job 15:14 , Ecclesiastes 7:20 ).
10. Various measures, implying that some are wrong (compare Proverbs 11:1 , 16:11 ).
11. The conduct of children even is the best test of principle (compare Matthew 7:16 ).
12. Hence, of course, God will know all you do ( Psalms 94:9 ).
13. Activity and diligence contrasted with sloth ( Proverbs 6:9 , 10:11 ).
lest . . . poverty--literally, "be deprived of inheritance."
14. when . . . his way--implying that he goes about boasting of his bargains.
15. The contrast denotes the greater value of knowledge (compare Proverbs 3:14-16 ).
16. Take his garment--implies severe exaction, justified by the surety's rashness.
a strange woman--by some readings "strangers," but the former here, and in Proverbs 27:13 , is allowable, and strengthens the sense. The debauchee is less reliable than the merely careless.
17. Bread . . . sweet--either as unlawfully ( Proverbs 9:17 ) or easily obtained.
mouth . . . gravel--well expresses the pain and grief given at last.
18. (Compare Proverbs 15:22 ). Be careful and considerate in important plans.
19. Those who love to tell news will hardly keep secrets.
flattereth . . . lips--(compare Margin; Proverbs 1:10 ).
meddle . . . him--literally, "join," or "associate with."
20. his lamp--(Compare Proverbs 13:9 , 24:20 ).
21. gotten hastily--contrary to God's providence ( Proverbs 28:20 ), implying its unjust or easy attainment; hence the man is punished, or spends freely what he got easily (compare Proverbs 20:17 ).
22. (Compare Psalms 27:14 , Romans 12:17-19 ).
23. (Compare Proverbs 20:10 , Proverbs 11:1 ).
24. Man's goings--literally, "Stately steppings of a strong man."
a man--any common man.
25. devoureth . . . holy--or, better, "who rashly speaks promises," or "devotes what is holy," consecrating any thing. This suits better the last clause, which expresses a similar view of the results of rashly vowing.
26. (Compare Proverbs 20:8 ).
bringeth . . . over them--The wheel was used for threshing grain. The figure denotes severity (compare Amos 1:3 ).
27. The spirit . . . Lord--Men's minds are God's gifts, and thus able to search one another (compare Proverbs 20:5 , Proverbs 18:8 Proverbs 18:17 , 1 Corinthians 2:11 ).
28. (Compare Proverbs 3:3 , Proverbs 16:6 Proverbs 16:12 ).
29. The glory of young men . . . the beauty of old men--Each age has its peculiar excellence ( Proverbs 16:31 ).
30. blueness--literally, "joining," the process of uniting the edges of a wound throws off purulent matter.
stripes . . . belly--So punishment provides healing of soul ( Proverbs 18:8 ), by deterring from evil courses.