Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.XXIX.
(1) Hardeneth his neck.—And will not bear the “easy yoke” of God. (Comp. Matthew 11:29-30.)
Shall suddenly be destroyed.—Literally, shattered, like a potter’s vessel that cannot be mended (Jeremiah 19:11; Isa. xxx 14).
And that without remedy.—For what more can be done for him, if he has despised God’s warnings? (Comp. Hebrews 6:4, sqq.)
Whoso loveth wisdom rejoiceth his father: but he that keepeth company with harlots spendeth his substance.(3) Whoso loveth wisdom . . .—This verse is illustrated by the parable of the prodigal son (see Luke 15).
The king by judgment establisheth the land: but he that receiveth gifts overthroweth it.(4) By judgment.—Upright decisions.
He that receiveth gifts.—To pervert justice (Proverbs 15:27).
In the transgression of an evil man there is a snare: but the righteous doth sing and rejoice.(6) In the transgression of an evil man there is a snare.—For he knows not how by repentance to escape God’s wrath.
But the righteous doth sing and rejoice.—Being assured of God’s mercy to those who repent, lie rejoices because his conscience is clear, and the “peace of God” (Philippians 4:7) keeps his heart.
The righteous considereth the cause of the poor: but the wicked regardeth not to know it.(7) The wicked regardeth not to know it.—Literally, understandeth not knowledge; he does not know nor care to know anything about his poorer neighbour’s affairs, so as to be able to help him. He cares as little about him as did Dives about Lazarus, though he saw him each time he went out of his own door.
Scornful men bring a city into a snare: but wise men turn away wrath.(8) Scornful men.—See above on Proverbs 1:22.
Bring a city into a snare.—Rather, excite the passions of; literally, fan, as a flame.
Wise men turn away wrath.—By their gentle counsels.
If a wise man contendeth with a foolish man, whether he rage or laugh, there is no rest.(9) Whether he rage or laugh—i.e., whether the wise man treat him with sternness or good temper, yet “there is no rest,” the fool will not cease from his folly; or, the sense may be, “the fool rages and laughs;” he will not listen quietly to argument, by which he might be brought to wisdom, but is either violent or supercilious.
The bloodthirsty hate the upright: but the just seek his soul.(10) The bloodthirsty hate the upright.—Or, perfect man. “for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness” (2Corinthians 6:14); the life of the perfect man is a continual reproach to them.
But the just (or upright) seek his soul—i.e. care for the life of the perfect; their uprightness shows itself in active help-giving.
A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards.(11) The fool (khesîl, Proverbs 1:22) uttereth all his mind.—Or, pours out all his wrath; but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards, or keepeth it back.
If a ruler hearken to lies, all his servants are wicked.(12) If a ruler hearken to lies, all his servants are wicked.—If a ruler shows that he likes adulation and falsehood rather than unpleasant truths, his attendants will provide him with what he wishes. (Comp. Ecclesiasticus 10:2.) So Jeremiah complains (Jeremiah 5:31) that prophets, priests, and people were all wilfully deceiving each other.
The poor and the deceitful man meet together: the LORD lighteneth both their eyes.(13) The poor and the deceitful man (rather, oppressor) meet together.—A variation of Proverbs 22:2, on which see note.
The Lord lighteneth both their eyes.—Enlightens the eyes of both with the light of life (Psalm 13:4). To Him each owes life, so the one may remember that life with its sorrows will have an end, and the other, that He will take stern vengeance for oppression.
The king that faithfully judgeth the poor, his throne shall be established for ever.(14) His throne shall be established for ever.—Comp. the promise made to Judah (Jeremiah 22:3-4).
The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.(15) A child left to himself.—Allowed to wander unchecked as the wild ass (Job 39:5).
Bringeth his mother to shame.—Whose foolish indulgence has ruined him.
When the wicked are multiplied, transgression increaseth: but the righteous shall see their fall.(16) But the righteous shall see their fall with joy (Psalm 54:7), having long expected it (ibid, Psalm 73:18, sqq.).
Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.(18) Where there is no vision.—No revelation of God’s will (Isaiah 1:1), when God teaches none by His Spirit that they may instruct others. So it was in the evil days of Eli (1Samuel 3:1), and Asa (2Chronicles 15:3).
The people perish.—Or, run wild. (Comp. Hosea 4:6.)
But he that keepeth the law.—The teaching of those whom God has instructed (Comp. Isaiah 1:10.)
A servant will not be corrected by words: for though he understand he will not answer.(19) A servant will not be corrected with words.—A slave must be corrected by sterner means; it is only fear of punishment which will move him; “for though he understand, he will not answer,” will not reply to your call, or render obedience to your command. The willing obedience of a son, and the grudging obedience of a slave, are contrasted in Romans 8:15.
Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? there is more hope of a fool than of him.(20) There is more hope of a fool (khesîl) than of him.—The fool is a dull, self-satisfied person, but may learn better; the man who is hasty and ill-advised in his words has a harder task before him in governing his tongue. (Comp. James 3:2 sqq.)
He that delicately bringeth up his servant from a child shall have him become his son at the length.(21) Shall have him become his son at the last.—Confidential slaves sometimes rose to be the heirs of their master’s property. (See above on Proverbs 17:2.) But here the warning seems to be rather against spoiling a slave by over-indulgence, lest he at the last forget his position, just as old and petted servants are apt to become somewhat dictatorial.
An angry man stirreth up strife, and a furious man aboundeth in transgression.(22) Aboundeth in transgression.—For what will he not say and do when overcome by anger?
A man's pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit.(23) Honour shall uphold the lowly in spirit.—Rather, the lowly in spirit shall lay hold upon honour. (Comp. Proverbs 18:12.)
Whoso is partner with a thief hateth his own soul: he heareth cursing, and bewrayeth it not.(24) Hateth his own soul.—See above on Proverbs 1:19.
He heareth cursing.—Rather, the oath or adjuration of the judge that anyone cognisant of the theft shall give information with regard to it. He hears and remains silent, and thus becoming the accomplice of the thief, he shares his punishment.
The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.(25) The fear of man bringeth a snare.—Even, it may be, the loss of eternal life. (Comp. Matthew 10:28; John 12:25.)
Many seek the ruler's favour; but every man's judgment cometh from the LORD.(26) Many seek the ruler’s favour.—And to be advanced by him; but his approval is of little value, for “every man’s judgment cometh from the Lord;” it is He who really decides each man’s worth. (Comp. 1Samuel 16:7; 1Corinthians 4:5.)