Matthew Poole's Commentary
A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold.A good name, Heb. name put for good name, as Ecclesiastes 7:1, the word good being easily understood out of the next clause, in which it is expressed in the Hebrew text. A good reputation amongst wise and good men.
Is rather to be chosen than great riches; partly, because it is a most special blessing from God, being appropriated to worthy persons, whereas God commonly throws away riches upon the basest of men; partly, because it gives a man that tranquillity and satisfaction of mind, and that content and comfort in his condition, which no riches can purchase; and partly, because as it is commonly an evidence of a man’s virtue and piety, so it is accompanied with God’s love and favour, whereas riches are oft given by God in wrath, and to the hurt of the owner.
Loving favour; or, good grace or favour; a good report among men, especially among good men, and that hearty love and kindness which attends upon it.
The rich and poor meet together: the LORD is the maker of them all.The rich and poor meet together; either,
1. In a way of hostility or opposition, as this word is sometimes used; the rich contemning and oppressing the poor, and the poor envying and purloining from the rich; and so the following words are a reason why that hostility should cease. Or,
2. In the way of mutual converse; they live together, and need one another.
The Lord is the Maker of them all; not only as they are men, but also as they are poor or rich, which difference comes wholly from God’s providence; they have one common Creator, and Lord, and Judge, and the one cannot despise nor grudge at the other without a reflection upon God.
A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished.The evil; the calamity or judgment of God threatened and approaching.
Hideth himself; retireth to his strong tower, mentioned Proverbs 18:10; by prayer and repentance putteth himself under the protection of the Almighty. Compare Isaiah 26:20.
Pass on in their former road and course of sin, carelessly and securely, as travellers do in a road where they apprehend no danger.
By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, and honour, and life.By humility; or, because of humility; or, as many others render it, the reward of humility; that reward which God hath graciously promised and will give to humility; which is a grace of great price in God’s eyes. See Isaiah 57:15 Jam 4:6.
The fear of the Lord; by which he distinguisheth true and Christian humility from counterfeit and moral humility, because that ariseth from a deep sense of God’s greatness, and purity, and perfection, compared with our meanness, and filthiness and manifold imperfections, whereas this is quite of another nature, and from other grounds.
Life; the comforts of this life, and the happiness of the next, both which are promised to godliness, 1 Thessalonians 4:8.
Thorns and snares are in the way of the froward: he that doth keep his soul shall be far from them.Thorns and snares are in the way of the froward; the wicked by their evil courses expose themselves to many dangers and occasions both of sin and mischief.
He that doth keep his soul, that taketh heed to himself, and to his actions, and to the saving of his life and soul,
shall be far from them; either,
1. Will avoid the society of such froward persons. Or,
2. Shall by that circumspection preserve himself from those thorns, &c., with which the pronoun them agrees in number.
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.Train up, or, initiate or instruct, a child in the way he should go, Heb. in or according to his way, i.e. either,
1. According to his capacity. Or rather,
2. In that course or manner of life which thou wouldst have him choose and follow. Or, as one learned man renders it, in the beginning of his way, i.e. in his tender years, as soon as he is capable of instruction. Heb. in the mouth, &c. The mouth is oft put for the beginning or entrance of any place, as Genesis 29:2 Joshua 10:18 Proverbs 8:3 Daniel 6:17. Will not depart from it, to wit, not easily and ordinarily. The impressions made in childish years will remain, as hath been observed by all sorts of learned writers. But this, as many proverbs of like nature, are not to be understood as if they were universally and necessarily true, which experience confutes, but because it is so for the most part, except some extraordinary cause hinder it.
The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.Ruleth over the poor, to wit, with rigour and tyranny, taking advantage of his necessities.
Is servant to the lender; is at his mercy, and therefore forced to comply with his pleasure. The design of the proverb is partly to correct this miscarriage of the rich, and partly to oblige all men to diligence, whereby they may deliver themselves from this servitude.
He that soweth iniquity shall reap vanity: and the rod of his anger shall fail.He that soweth iniquity, or unrighteousness, whose common practice it is to wrong or oppress others,
shall reap vanity; or, trouble or misery, as this word is commonly used, and as divers here render it. The mischief which he hath done to others shall be returned to him by God’s righteous sentence.
The rod of his anger shall fail; that power which he used with fury and cruelty shall be taken away from him.
He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed; for he giveth of his bread to the poor.He that hath a bountiful eye, Heb. a good eye, he who looks upon the wants and miseries of others with compassion and kindness, as this phrase is used, Matthew 20:15; as an evil eye is put for one that beholds others with envy and unmercifulness, Deu 15:9 Proverbs 23:6 28:22Shall be blessed, both by God and men.
Cast out the scorner, and contention shall go out; yea, strife and reproach shall cease.Cast out of your society, avoid conversation with, the scorner; who neither fears God, nor reverences man, but scorns all admonitions, and minds only the pleasing of himself, and the gratifying of his own lusts, which is the chief cause of most contentions.
Strife and reproach; wherewith he loads those that either oppose or admonish him.
He that loveth pureness of heart, for the grace of his lips the king shall be his friend.That loveth pureness of heart; who is plain-hearted or sincere, and abhors dissimulation. For the grace of his lips; for those gracious speeches which naturally and commonly flow from a pure heart. Or, and (understand, loveth, out of the former clause) grace of his lips; whose discourse is gracious and sincere.
The king shall be his friend; the greatest men will, or should, desire and highly prize the acquaintance and advice of such persons, rather than of dissemblers and flatterers, wherewith they are most commonly pestered.
The eyes of the LORD preserve knowledge, and he overthroweth the words of the transgressor.The eyes of the Lord preserve, God by the watchful eye of his providence maintains and defends,
knowledge, to wit, men of knowledge; the abstract being put for the concrete, as pride is put for a proud man, Psalm 36:11, deceit for the deceitful, as Proverbs 12:17: so here knowledge for knowing and good men, such as the last verse spoke of, whose hearts are pure, and speeches gracious; not only the king shall be their friend, as he said there, but God also, which he adds here,
The words; their false and flattering speeches, whereby they designed and expected to gain the favour and friendship of great men, which are opposed to the sincere and gracious speeches of good men, implied in the first cause of this verse, and expressed in the foregoing verse; or, as others render it, and the word is very commonly used, the matters; all his counsels, hopes, enterprises, and concerns.
The slothful man saith, There is a lion without, I shall be slain in the streets.Saith, allegeth as his excuse to them who upbraid him with idleness, or persuade him to diligence,
There is a lion without; there are extreme dangers and invincible difficulties in my way.
I shall be slain, by that lion, or some other way.
In the streets; which is added to show the ridiculousness of his excuse; for lions abide in the woods or fields, not in the streets of towns or cities.
The mouth of strange women is a deep pit: he that is abhorred of the LORD shall fall therein.The mouth; her fair and flattering speeches, wherewith she enticeth him to gross filthiness, as it is noted, Proverbs 7:21.
A deep pit; into which it is easy to fall, but hard, if not impossible, to get out of it. It is a rare thing for any person, once entered into the course of whoredom, sincerely to repent of it, and turn from it. See Proverbs 2:19.
That is abhorred of the Lord, to wit, in a high and singular manner; who by his former impieties, and contempt of God and of his grace, hath provoked God to leave and loathe him, and to punish one sin with another; for otherwise all sinners, as such, are abhorred by God.
Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.Is bound; is fixed and settled there, as being born with him, and rooted in his very nature, and not plucked up without great difficulty and diligence.
The rod of correction shall drive it far from him; the smart of punishment makes him weary of his sin, and watchful against it.
He that oppresseth the poor to increase his riches, and he that giveth to the rich, shall surely come to want.That giveth to the rich; that vainly and prodigally casts away his estate upon those who do not need it, or gives it to them with evil design, as that they may assist him in oppressing the poor, or at least not hinder him in it.
Bow down thine ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply thine heart unto my knowledge.Of the wise; of wise and holy men of God.
Apply thine heart; thirst after it, and give of thyself to the diligent study of it.
My knowledge; the knowledge of God, and of thy several duties, which I am here delivering to thee.
For it is a pleasant thing if thou keep them within thee; they shall withal be fitted in thy lips.If thou keep them, the words of the wise, within thee, Heb. in thy belly. i.e. in thine heart, which implies receiving them in love, and retaining them in mind and memory.
Be fitted; be fitly expressed; or, be disposed or ordered. The sense is, When thou hast got them into thine heart, thou wilt be able and ready to discourse pertinently and profitably of them.
That thy trust may be in the LORD, I have made known to thee this day, even to thee.That knowing God, and his word and promises, thou mayst cheerfully and confidently trust in him, which is the only way to thy safety and happiness.
Have not I written to thee excellent things in counsels and knowledge,Excellent things; or, princely things, as they are called, Proverbs 8:6, the great things of God’s law, as Hosea 8:12.
In counsels and knowledge; consisting of counsels to direct thy practice, and knowledge to inform and enrich thy mind. Or by that known figure hendiadis, in counsels of knowledge, i.e. in good counsels, which proceed from sound knowledge, and make a man knowing and wise, which are opposed to the counsels of the wicked, Proverbs 12:5, which are without knowledge.
That I might make thee know the certainty of the words of truth; that thou mightest answer the words of truth to them that send unto thee?That I may make thee know the certainty of the words of truth; that I may teach thee, not false, or vain, or uncertain things, as the teachers of the heathen nations do, but the true and infallible oracles of God.
That thou mightest answer the words of truth; that being instructed by me, thou mayst be able to give true, and solid, and satisfactory answers.
To them that send unto thee, to wit, for thine advice in great and difficult matters. Or, to those that send thee, i.e. that employ the in any business of moment, whereof they expect an account from thee.
Rob not the poor, because he is poor: neither oppress the afflicted in the gate:Because he is poor: this may be mentioned, either,
1. As a motive to this robbery, because he was unable to resist him, or to revenge himself upon him. Do not take advantage of his poverty. Or,
2. As an argument against it, because he is a fitter object for thy pity and charity, than for thy injustice or cruelty. It is base and inhuman to crush such a person.
In the gate; in the place of judgment, or under pretence of justice, and much less in other ways, where there is no colour of justice.
For the LORD will plead their cause, and spoil the soul of those that spoiled them.Will plead their cause; which he hath in a peculiar manner undertaken to do.
Spoil the soul; take away not only their goods, but their lives too; so fully will he recompense their wickedness to them.
Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go:Into his company; not converse frequently and familiarly with him, as friends use to do.
Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul.Lest thou learn his ways; lest thou be infected by his example, or provoked by this passion to return the like to him.
A snare; either,
1. A mischief, which is oft the effect of unbridled rage. Or,
2. An occasion of sin; either by drawing thee to an imitation or requital of his rage; or by tempting thee to unfaithfulness in performing the great office of a friend, to wit, admonition or reproof, which, by reason of his furious temper, thou either canst not or wilt not do.
Be not thou one of them that strike hands, or of them that are sureties for debts.To wit, rashly, or unnecessarily.
If thou hast nothing to pay, why should he take away thy bed from under thee?Why wilt thou put thyself into the hands of such a man, who will exact the debt from thee without any compassion? For though God did not allow this practice, covetous creditors would frequently do it.
Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set.Landmark, whereby the lands of several possessors were distinguished and divided. Do not enrich thyself with the injury of other men; do not invade the rights of others.
Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.Diligent; or, expeditious, as the word properly signifies; one of quick despatch, vigorous and speedy in executing what hath been well and wisely contrived.
He shall stand before kings; he is fit to be employed in the affairs of the greatest princes.