Proverbs Twenty-Nine

Proverbs 29
IRREVOCABLE and crushing judgment will be his portion who, despising all wise counsel and refusing all godly reproof, plunges on in his sin until the patience of the Lord is exhausted.
1 He that being often reproved hardeneth his neck,
Shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.
Hardening the neck is a figure taken from the manner in which a refractory bullock turns away from and avoids the yoke. In this way, men, in their obstinacy, persistently refuse to heed reproof, and set their wills stubbornly against what would be for their own best interests; thus insuring their destruction.
God is gracious and long-suffering, slow to anger, and doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men. Yet even His patience with the unrepentant comes to an end at last. He will plead, and strive, and warn, till it is manifest the heart is fully set upon having its own way. Then He leaves the hardened soul to its doom, giving it up to sudden destruction. Many are the scriptural examples of this, but I only remind the reader of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, of Belshazzar and of Jezebel.
2 When the righteous are increased, the people rejoice:
But when the lawless beareth rule, the people mourn.
See notes on Proverbs 28:12, 2812When righteous men do rejoice, there is great glory: but when the wicked rise, a man is hidden. (Proverbs 28:12)
28When the wicked rise, men hide themselves: but when they perish, the righteous increase. (Proverbs 28:28)
. However much men, as individuals, prefer sin to holiness, collectively, they rejoice when the righteous are in authority, and mourn when evil is in high places. Even the vilest know the comfort of the protection to person and property, enjoyed when the upright flourish. The unbeliever who hates Christianity and makes it the butt of his cheap ridicule, nevertheless prefers to live in a land where the teachings of the Bible are generally held and where the Christian faith is respected. In the measure that the principles of the New Testament control the minds of the men who administer civil government, peace and prosperity prevail; as none know better than the openly skeptical. The same was true in Israel in regard to the Law and the Prophets. The reign of a Josiah or a Hezekiah was much to be preferred to that of an Ahab or a Manasseh.
3 Whoso loveth wisdom rejoiceth his father:
But he that keepeth company with harlots spendeth his substance.
4 The king by judgment establisheth the land;
But he that receiveth gifts overthroweth it.
When David sang of “A righteous ruler over men; a ruler in the fear of God,” he had to own “My house is not so.” It is Christ who will be manifested as the king who, by judgment, will establish the land. A scepter of righteousness will be the scepter of His kingdom. Meantime it is the privilege of every earthly sovereign to endeavor to be a fitting type of God’s anointed Ruler. The receiver of gifts or bribes is far from this. His evil example results in the corruption of the entire body politic. See this in Samuel’s sons (1 Sam. 8:33And his sons walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment. (1 Samuel 8:3)).
5 A man that flattereth his neighbor
Spreadeth a net for his feet.
See notes on Proverbs 28:2323He that rebuketh a man afterwards shall find more favor than he that flattereth with the tongue. (Proverbs 28:23); and connected passages. True praise, the honest recognition of merit in another, is right and proper in its place, and may be the means of cheering and encouraging a deserving person, when perhaps well-nigh cast down. But flattery-saying, what the heart does not mean in order to mislead, or to curry favor, is a net and a snare for the feet of the one who listens. Insincere remarks of an adulatory character are most dangerous. The lowly man will turn away in fear from any who approach him in this way. The heart is too prone to think well of self, as it is, without listening to the flattering words which are but as fuel to the fire of pride. How solemn the warning which the doom of Absalom would sound in our ears! None were so praised as he, and few princes have failed more terribly (2 Sam. 14:2525But in all Israel there was none to be so much praised as Absalom for his beauty: from the sole of his foot even to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him. (2 Samuel 14:25)).
6 In the transgression of an evil man there is a snare;
But the righteous shall sing and rejoice.
7 The righteous considereth the cause of the poor:
But the lawless regardeth not to know it.
The evil man is overthrown by his own transgressions. His very iniquities, in which he delighted, prove to be his undoing. When the upright shouts and sings for joy, the wicked is pierced through with many sorrows. The latter lives only for himself. He regards not the cry of the needy. The former, recognizing his own indebtedness to sustaining and preserving grace, is quick to show compassion to the indigent who cry for help. In this he becomes an imitator of Him who ever “went about doing good.” Contrast the spirit of Peter and John with that of the unscrupulous Pharisees (Acts 3:1-81Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour. 2And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple; 3Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms. 4And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us. 5And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them. 6Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. 7And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. 8And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God. (Acts 3:1‑8); Matt. 23:23-2823Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. 24Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. 25Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. 26Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. 27Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. 28Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. (Matthew 23:23‑28)).
8 Scornful men bring a city into a snare:
But wise men turn away wrath.
The first part of this couplet is rendered by J. N. Darby, “Scornful men set the city in a flame.” When a crisis arises and the populace are stirred, the ruler who meets them with cold sarcasm or stinging scorn, only adds to their anger and causes their passions to burn more fiercely than ever. Rehoboam’s answer to the men of Israel is an exemplification of this (1 Kings 12:13, 1413And the king answered the people roughly, and forsook the old men's counsel that they gave him; 14And spake to them after the counsel of the young men, saying, My father made your yoke heavy, and I will add to your yoke: my father also chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions. (1 Kings 12:13‑14)). The counsel of the wise men, had it prevailed, would have conciliated the people and averted their indignation.
9 If a wise man contendeth with a foolish man,
Whether he rage or laugh, there is no rest.
It is in vain to endeavor to convince a fool of his errors. Proud in heart, admiring himself and his opinions above all else, to strive with him will yield no good result. Whether he grow heated and wrathful, or whether he seem for the moment to accept advice cheerfully, laughing pleasantly or mocking in amused scorn, it all comes to the same thing: there will be no happy end to the affair, because the fool will refuse to brook correction. Nehemiah’s controversy with the sometimes affable but generally openly-angry Sanballat illustrates well what is meant (Neh. 2:10, 19; 4:1-10; 6:1-910When Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, heard of it, it grieved them exceedingly that there was come a man to seek the welfare of the children of Israel. (Nehemiah 2:10)
19But when Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, and Geshem the Arabian, heard it, they laughed us to scorn, and despised us, and said, What is this thing that ye do? will ye rebel against the king? (Nehemiah 2:19)
1But it came to pass, that when Sanballat heard that we builded the wall, he was wroth, and took great indignation, and mocked the Jews. 2And he spake before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, What do these feeble Jews? will they fortify themselves? will they sacrifice? will they make an end in a day? will they revive the stones out of the heaps of the rubbish which are burned? 3Now Tobiah the Ammonite was by him, and he said, Even that which they build, if a fox go up, he shall even break down their stone wall. 4Hear, O our God; for we are despised: and turn their reproach upon their own head, and give them for a prey in the land of captivity: 5And cover not their iniquity, and let not their sin be blotted out from before thee: for they have provoked thee to anger before the builders. 6So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work. 7But it came to pass, that when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and the Arabians, and the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites, heard that the walls of Jerusalem were made up, and that the breaches began to be stopped, then they were very wroth, 8And conspired all of them together to come and to fight against Jerusalem, and to hinder it. 9Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them. 10And Judah said, The strength of the bearers of burdens is decayed, and there is much rubbish; so that we are not able to build the wall. (Nehemiah 4:1‑10)
1Now it came to pass, when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and Geshem the Arabian, and the rest of our enemies, heard that I had builded the wall, and that there was no breach left therein; (though at that time I had not set up the doors upon the gates;) 2That Sanballat and Geshem sent unto me, saying, Come, let us meet together in some one of the villages in the plain of Ono. But they thought to do me mischief. 3And I sent messengers unto them, saying, I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you? 4Yet they sent unto me four times after this sort; and I answered them after the same manner. 5Then sent Sanballat his servant unto me in like manner the fifth time with an open letter in his hand; 6Wherein was written, It is reported among the heathen, and Gashmu saith it, that thou and the Jews think to rebel: for which cause thou buildest the wall, that thou mayest be their king, according to these words. 7And thou hast also appointed prophets to preach of thee at Jerusalem, saying, There is a king in Judah: and now shall it be reported to the king according to these words. Come now therefore, and let us take counsel together. 8Then I sent unto him, saying, There are no such things done as thou sayest, but thou feignest them out of thine own heart. 9For they all made us afraid, saying, Their hands shall be weakened from the work, that it be not done. Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands. (Nehemiah 6:1‑9)
10 Men of blood hate the perfect:
But the just seek (or, care for) his soul.
Because of the very difference in their lives, bloodthirsty men hate those who are upright, even as “Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother... because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous” (1 John 3:1212Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous. (1 John 3:12)). Holiness and godliness invariably provoke the malice of wicked men, who see in what is right and good the condemnation of their own vile ways.
The just, on the other hand, are glad to be what Cain was not—their brother’s keeper—seeking to preserve his life and care for his soul. This concern for the blessing of those about him is one of the first and strongest evidences that a man has been born of God.
11 A fool uttereth all his mind (spirit):
But a wise man keepeth it back.
Mind and spirit are used synonymously for the seat of intelligence. A fool readily pours forth all he knows, regardless of the effect it may have for good or evil. A wise man discreetly guards his tongue, knowing the impropriety of hasty speech.
It is not that the fool is more frank and open than he; but mere frankness, apart from care as to what is uttered, is not at all to be commended. It is what makes that pest of society, the gossip and the talebearer. Our Lord Himself, who knew all things, does not at once manifest His full acquaintance with the solemn events in which He had been the central figure; but asks the disciples, on their way to Emmaus, “What things?” when they express their wonder at His apparent ignorance. He wished to test their hearts; and all was for their blessing, as afterward so preciously proven (Luke 24:13-3213And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs. 14And they talked together of all these things which had happened. 15And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them. 16But their eyes were holden that they should not know him. 17And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad? 18And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days? 19And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people: 20And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him. 21But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done. 22Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre; 23And when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive. 24And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said: but him they saw not. 25Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: 26Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? 27And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. 28And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further. 29But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them. 30And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. 31And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. 32And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures? (Luke 24:13‑32)). Joseph, in his dealings with his brethren, maintains the same reserve, until the moment arrives when the revelation, “I am Joseph!” will do its proper work (Gen. 42-45).
12 If a ruler harken to lies,
All his servants are lawless.
In the apocryphal book of Ecclesiasticus there is a passage which seems to explain this proverb. “As the judge of the people is himself, so are his officers; and what manner of man the ruler of the city is, such are all that dwell therein.” A corrupt ruler will surround himself with corrupt men, his own evil example acting powerfully upon the formation of the characters of his dependents. Therefore the importance of integrity and uprightness on the part of those who occupy positions of trust and honor. It was a sad period in the history of Judah when their pastors, or rulers, were their examples in disobedience to God (Jer. 2:8; 10:218The priests said not, Where is the Lord? and they that handle the law knew me not: the pastors also transgressed against me, and the prophets prophesied by Baal, and walked after things that do not profit. (Jeremiah 2:8)
21For the pastors are become brutish, and have not sought the Lord: therefore they shall not prosper, and all their flocks shall be scattered. (Jeremiah 10:21)
13 The needy and the oppressor meet together:
Jehovah enlighteneth the eyes of them both.
14 The king that faithfully judgeth the poor,
His throne shall be established forever.
See notes on Proverbs 22:22The rich and poor meet together: the Lord is the maker of them all. (Proverbs 22:2). It is greatly to be lamented that there are any to oppress the needy, seeing both are so dependent on the same common Benefactor, who “maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matt. 5:4545That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. (Matthew 5:45)). His eye is over all His works, and He notes the need as well as the behavior of all His creatures. He makes the eyes of the poor and those who lord it over them alike to sparkle with life and intelligence.
15 The rod and reproof give wisdom;
But a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.
See notes on Proverbs 19:1818Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying. (Proverbs 19:18), and 23:13, 14. An undisciplined child will bring shame upon his mother and ruin upon himself. To refuse to chasten him because of personal repugnance to causing temporary pain, is to manifest hatred instead of love. Correction and reproof, properly administered, are for the child’s best interests, and open his heart to wisdom. Let the over-indulgent parent be warned by the fate of Adonijah. It is not for nothing that God has caused the unhappy fact to be left on record that “his father had not displeased him at any time in saying, Why hast thou done so?” No wonder he became a rebel! (1 Kings 1; 2:13-25).
16 When the lawless are multiplied, transgression increaseth:
But the righteous shall witness their fall.
See verse 2 above, with connected passages. It is a principle in God’s moral government that although lawlessness may seem, like the flood, to prevail over the highest mountains, it shall surely retreat and righteousness hold sway at last. When the wicked are in power, transgression flourishes and uprightness is crushed; but this can only be for a time. “The triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite is but for a moment,” as Zophar rightly observed, though he did wrong in applying it to Job when he sought the cause of his affliction (Job 20:55That the triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite but for a moment? (Job 20:5)).
Throughout the past and the present dispensations, in large measure the wicked have been in power, permitted by God to try most severely at times the patience of the righteous. But their overthrow is near, when God’s King shall take to Him His great power and reign, and the world-kingdom of our God and His Christ shall come. Then shall the upright “have dominion in the morning”—a morning without clouds, when righteousness and the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea (Isa. 11:99They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11:9); Hab. 2:1414For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. (Habakkuk 2:14)).
17 Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest;
Yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul.
See verse 15 above. What wisdom does a parent need that correction may be properly administered, and his household brought up in the fear of God Nothing, perhaps, so causes one to realize his own failures and shortcomings as to see them duplicated in his children; and nothing, therefore, makes one feel more keenly the need of divine grace and wisdom in dealing with them. But the word is sure. Let the father and mother exercise a firm but kindly discipline, and God has pledged Himself that it shall bear goodly fruit. The son corrected shall give rest to the heart and delight to the soul. This was manifested in Isaac, whose lovely obedience did not flinch when it meant to permit himself to be bound upon the altar. And it is noteworthy that God had foreseen in Abraham the ability to control his household before he made him the depositary of the promises (Gen. 18:1919For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him. (Genesis 18:19)).
18 Where there is no vision, the people will become lawless:
But he that keepeth the law, happy is he.
By vision is meant spiritual enlightenment and insight into divine things. A reference to 1 Samuel 3:11And the child Samuel ministered unto the Lord before Eli. And the word of the Lord was precious in those days; there was no open vision. (1 Samuel 3:1) will make this clear. “The word of the Lord was precious in those days; there was no open vision.” To meet this need God raised up Samuel, who was appropriately called “the Seer”—the man with opened eyes—as Balaam described himself.
It is of all importance that there be among the people of God in all ages this open vision. “Would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets,” having the eyes of the heart enlightened, that they might discern clearly what is of God, and what is opposed to His mind. It was this that the apostle Paul put before the carnal Corinthians when he wrote urging them to covet earnestly the best gifts, but rather that they might prophesy. The prophet is one who enters into what is of the Lord, and gives it out in freshness and power, meeting the actual need of the time. He does not necessarily foretell future events, but he tells forth what reaches the conscience and quickens the affections.
When ministry of this nature is lacking among the people of God and the assemblies of His saints, they soon become lawless, substituting for the Spirit’s energy the mere busy meddling of nature, and opening the door to what is simply of man in the flesh.
But we would not forget the second part of the couplet. Even let ministry of an edifying character be rarely known, yet where the word of God controls there will be blessing. He who keeps it will be happy amidst the existing confusion, enjoying fellowship with Him who inspired it. When leaving the Ephesian elders at Miletus, it was not to gifted ministers that Paul commended them, in view of evil teachers soon to arise, but to God, and the word of His grace, which was able to build them up. This abides today, and remains to comfort and direct the saints in all circumstances. But the anointed eye is needed to discern what has been therein revealed. Lack of vision will be manifested in a cold, dry, theological, or philosophical, treatment of the Scriptures, as though given to exercise the intellect, rather than the heart and the conscience. Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians is one applicable for all Christians while in this scene of trial and testing (Eph. 1:15-2315Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, 16Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; 17That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: 18The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, 19And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, 20Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, 21Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: 22And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, 23Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all. (Ephesians 1:15‑23)).
19 A servant will not be corrected by words;
For though he understand, he will not answer.
The Septuagint reads, “a stubborn servant,” which seems to convey the right thought. Correction by words alone would avail little with such a one if unprincipled and self-willed. Therefore strict discipline would be required if he be made to render proper service, which is here implied in answering. Is it not so with those of us who have been made servants of our Lord Jesus Christ? Have we not often failed to heed His word, refusing its correction, therefore having to know the pains of chastisement? It is a lesson slowly learned. Most of us are more or less patterned on the order of Jonah, who was only rendered obedient by serious grief and trouble.
20 Seest thou a man hasty in his words?
There is more hope of a fool than of him.
In Proverbs 26:11As snow in summer, and as rain in harvest, so honor is not seemly for a fool. (Proverbs 26:1)2 This statement is made concerning a man who is wise in his own eyes. The two things are likely to be found in the same person. He who is filled with self-conceit is very liable to be hasty in his words. Of God it is said, “He will not call back His words” (Isa. 31:22Yet he also is wise, and will bring evil, and will not call back his words: but will arise against the house of the evildoers, and against the help of them that work iniquity. (Isaiah 31:2)); and He needs not to do so, for “the words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in the fire, purified seven times” (Psa. 12:66The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. (Psalm 12:6)). But the self-confident man is continually uttering words which he has to recall, because of his reckless impatience and his ready exaggeration. There is little hope of checking such a man, unless there be true self-judgment and repentance for what is a grave sin, though often treated as a mere infirmity for which he is to be pitied rather than blamed. Hasty speech betokens an unbroken spirit. It was characteristic of King Saul, and on a notable occasion would have caused the death of Jonathan had the people not interfered and rescued him (1 Sam. 14). Jephthah too is a solemn warning as to hasty speech (Judges 11).
21 He that delicately bringeth up his servant from a child
Shall have him become as a son in the end.
In a note, J. N. Darby states that “son” is, literally, “son of the house”; and explains it as meaning that he gets into possession of his master’s goods. It was this that pained Abraham; for, much as he valued the service of Eliezer of Damascus, he could not bear the thought of a servant inheriting in the place of a son. God’s servants are His sons, and so shall be His heirs, and joint heirs with the Lord Jesus Christ in glory.
22 An angry man stirreth up strife,
And a furious man aboundeth in transgression.
See note on Proverbs 28:2525He that is of a proud heart stirreth up strife: but he that putteth his trust in the Lord shall be made fat. (Proverbs 28:25). A man of unbridled temper provokes continual contention, and had best be avoided. His fury can only spring from an evil nature unchecked, and therefore he abounds in violations of all law, human or divine. None can walk in communion with the Lord Jesus Christ and manifest a wrathful and passionate spirit. The two things do not go together. See the elder son in the parable, whose unreasonable anger was the only jarring note in the merriment occasioned by his brother’s return (Luke 15:2828And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and entreated him. (Luke 15:28)).
23 A man’s pride shall bring him low;
But honor shall uphold the humble in spirit.
Pride precedes destruction. It is a sure precursor of coming judgment. But he who is of a meek and humble spirit shall obtain honor. Seeking it not, it shall be thrust upon him; while he who makes it his object, shall fail miserably to obtain what he desires. Contrast Haman and Mordecai throughout the deeply-interesting book of Esther.
24 Whoso is partner with a thief hateth his own soul:
He heareth the adjuration, but will not confess.
To share the plunder with a robber is to make oneself partaker of his evil deeds, and draw down upon one’s head the same sentence. He acts against his own best interests, even viewed from a worldly standpoint. Put under oath. he is afraid to testify the full truth, and therefore brings himself under condemnation for abetting and concealing a theft. See Leviticus 5:11And if a soul sin, and hear the voice of swearing, and is a witness, whether he hath seen or known of it; if he do not utter it, then he shall bear his iniquity. (Leviticus 5:1).
It is a serious thing indeed to be thus a partaker of other men’s sins. The Holy Ghost warns the believer against it, showing that association with evil, or condolence of it, necessarily defiles him who thus acts. See 2 John 10, 1110If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: 11For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds. (2 John 10‑11); and 1 Timothy 5:2222Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men's sins: keep thyself pure. (1 Timothy 5:22). This is a principle often forgotten in our day, but one of vital importance for all who seek to maintain regard for the holiness of God’s house on earth.
25 The fear of man bringeth a snare;
But whoso putteth his trust in Jehovah shall be safe (or, set on high).
In the 14th verse of the preceding chapter we were reminded of the happiness of the man who feareth alway. Here we learn that there is a fear to be avoided as dangerous and soul-ensnaring. The fear of God is most becoming to a saint. The fear of man is destructive of his spiritual life and testimony. How many a one has been ruined thereby!
26 Many seek the ruler’s favor;
But a man’s right judgment is from Jehovah.
This but adds to what the previous verse has brought to our notice. They who seek the ruler’s favor are such as fear the face of man, and will have to learn by sad experience the vanity of putting their trust in princes.
It is the Lord whose judgment is ever righteous. When Wolsey cried, “Had I but served my God as faithfully as I served my king, He would not have cast me off in my old age,” he uttered a great truth.
While the man of God will be obedient to rulers, he will never fawn upon them. He sees in earthly potentates but the representatives and servants of the Most High, who ruleth in the kingdoms of men. Elijah is a splendid example of such a one, when confronting the ungodly Ahab, as narrated in 1 Kings 18.
27 An unjust man is an abomination to the just:
And he that is upright in the way is abomination to the lawless.
The two families are forever opposed. The just detest what the wicked love, and vice versa. So it has ever been since Cain strove with Abel, and slew him. So shall it be till the devil and all who do his bidding are cast into the lake of fire. There can be no truce, no treaty of peace, between the hosts of good and evil. Incessant warfare must be waged until righteousness shall dwell undisturbed In the new heavens and the new earth, and God be all in all in the universe of bliss.
Till then, let those who know their God shrink not from the conflict; but grasping the sword of the Spirit, clad in the panoply of heaven, go forth valiantly to meet the foe, depending upon His might who says, “All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth.... And, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the completion of the age” (Matt. 28:18-2018And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matthew 28:18‑20)).
This chapter concludes the collection of proverbs copied out, or collected, by the men of Hezekiah, and marks the end of the sayings distinctly attributed to Solomon. The next two chapters, which close the book, are credited to Agur the son of Jakeh, and to King Lemuel. The latter, I judge, is but a pseudonym for the wise king; but Agur, as we shall see, is evidently a different personage.
The question of inspiration is not touched, whoever these men may be, for the very simple reason that in the times of our Lord Jesus Christ the book was composed of the various parts which now go to make it up; and when He said, “the Scripture cannot be broken,” He necessarily included each portion of the Proverbs.
Whether Solomon himself, or a later editor, collected them into one volume, we have no means of knowing, save, of course, in regard to the five chapters we have just been considering: they never formed part of the book until the reign of the great reformer Hezekiah.