Proverbs 22:29
See you a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(29) He shall stand before kings.—Shall attend upon them as their minister. (Comp. Genesis 41:46.) This verse is a tristich, containing three lines.

Proverbs 22:29. Seest thou a man diligent in his business — Hebrew, מהיר, expeditious, as the word properly signifies; one of quick despatch, vigorous and speedy in executing what hath been well and wisely contrived. He shall not stand before mean men — He is fit to be employed in the affairs of the greatest princes. 22:26,27. Every man ought to be just to himself, and his family; those are not so, who, by folly or other carelessness, waste what they have. 28. We are taught not to trespass on another man's right. And it is hard to find a truly industrious man. Such a man will rise. Seest thou a man diligent in the business of religion? He is likely to excel. Let us then be diligent in God's work.The gift of a quick and ready intellect is to lead to high office, it is not to be wasted on a work to which the obscure are adequate. 29. Success rewards diligence (Pr 10:4; 21:5). 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. Seest thou a man diligent in his business?.... In the business of his calling, be it what it will, whether for himself or his master; constant in it, swift, ready, and expeditious at it; who industriously pursues it, cheerfully attends it, makes quick dispatch of it; does it off of hand, at once, and is not slothful in it, nor weary of it; when you have observed and taken notice of such a man, which is not very common, you may, without a spirit of prophecy, foresee that such a man will rise in the world;

he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men, or "obscure persons" (o); he shall not continue in the service of ignoble persons, or keep company with them; but he shall be taken into the service of princes and noble men, and be admitted into their presence, and receive favours from them; as Joseph, who was industrious and diligent in his business in Potiphar's house, was in process of time advanced, and stood before Pharaoh king of Egypt, Genesis 39:4. This may be spiritually applied. Every good man has a work or business to do in a religious way; some in a higher sphere, as officers of churches, ministers and deacons; the work of the one lies in reading, study, meditation, and prayer, in the ministration of the word and ordinances, and other duties of their once; and the business of the others in taking care of the poor, and the secular affairs of the churches; others in a lower way, and common to all Christians, which lies in the exercise of grace, and performance of all good works, relative to themselves, their families, and the church of God. Now ministers that are diligent in teaching and ruling; and deacons that do their office well; and private Christians, who are steadfast and immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord; are ready to every good work, heartily engaged in it, and constantly at it; shall not be company for the sons of darkness, unregenerate men, who are in the dark, and darkness itself; what communion has light with darkness, with works of darkness, they should be not workers of? or have any fellowship with the prince of darkness, from whose power they are delivered; but shall have society with the saints, who are made kings and priests unto God; shall be admitted into the presence of the King of kings now, and have communion with him; and shall stand before him at the great day with confidence, and not be ashamed; shall stand at his right hand, and shall be for ever with him. So the Jews (p) interpret this place, "he shall not stand before dark ones", in hell; "he shall stand before kings", in the garden of Eden, in paradise; that is, in heaven.

(o) "ante obscuros", Mercerus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "coram obscuris", Cocceius, Gejerus, Michaelis; "in conspectu obscurorum", Schultens. (p) Gloss. in T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 104. 2.

Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
29. stand before] Comp. 1 Kings 10:8.

mean] “Heb. obscure” R.V. marg.Verse 29 - A tristich follows. Seest thou a man diligent in his business! Mere diligence would not commend a man to high notice unless accompanied by dexterity and skill; and though מָהִיר (mahir) means "quick," it also has the notion of "skilful," and is better here taken in that sense. He shall stand before kings. This phrase means to serve or minister to another (Genesis 41:46; 1 Samuel 16:21, 22; 1 Kings 10:8; Job 1:6). A man thus export is fitted for any, even the highest situation, may well be employed in affairs of state, and enjoy the confidence of kings. He shall not stand before mean men. "Mean" (חְשֻׁכִּים) are the men of no importance, ignobiles, obscure. An intellectual, clever, adroit man would never he satisfied with serving such masters; his ambition is higher; he knows that he is capable of better things. Septuagint, "It must needs be that an observant (ὁρατικὸν) man, and one who is keen in his business, should attend on kings, and not attend on slothful men."



After these ten lines of preliminary exhortation, there now begins the collection of the "Words of the Wise" thus introduced. A tetrastich which, in its contents, connects itself with the last proverb of the Solomonic collection, Proverbs 22:16, forms the commencement of this collection:

22 Rob not the lowly because he is lowly;

     And oppress not the humble in the gate.

23 For Jahve will conduct their cause,

     And rob their spoilers of life.

Though it may bring gain, as said Proverbs 22:16, to oppress the דּל, the lowly or humble, yet at last the oppressor comes to ruin. The poet here warns against robbing the lowly because he is lowly, and thus without power of defence, and not to be feared; and against doing injustice to the עני, the bowed down, and therefore incapable of resisting in the gate, i.e., in the court of justice. These poor men have not indeed high human patrons, but One in heaven to undertake their cause: Jahve will conduct their cause (יריב ריבם, as at Proverbs 23:10), i.e., will undertake their vindication, and be their avenger. דּכּא (דּכּה), Aram. and Arab. daḳḳ (cf. דּקק, Arab. daḳḳ), signifies to crush anything so that it becomes broad and flat, figuratively to oppress, synon. עשׁק (Fleischer). The verb קבע has, in Chald. and Syr., the signification to stick, to fix (according to which Aquila here translates καθηλοῦν, to nail; Jerome, configere); and as root-word to קבּעת, the signification to be arched, like (Arab.) ḳab', to be humpbacked; both significations are here unsuitable. The connection here requires the meaning to rob; and for Malachi 3:8 also, this same meaning is to be adopted, robbery and taking from one by force (Parchon, Kimchi), not: to deceive (Khler, Keil), although it might have the sense of robbing by withholding or refraining from doing that which is due, thus of a sacrilege committed by omission or deception. The Talm. does not know the verb קבע in this meaning; but it is variously found as a dialectic word for גזל.

(Note: Thus Rosch ha-schana 26b: Levi came once to N.N. There a man came to meet him, and cried out קבען פלניא. Levi knew not what he would say, and went into the Madrash-house to ask. One answered him: He is a robber (גזלן) said that one to thee; for it is said in the Scriptures (Malachi 3:8), "Will a man rob God?" etc. (vid., Wissenschaft Kunst Judenthum, p. 243). In the Midrash, שׁוחר טוב, to Psalm 57:1-11, R. Levi says that אתה קיבע לי is used in the sense of אתה גוזל לי. And in the Midrash Tanchuma, P. תרומה, R. Levi answers the question, "What is the meaning of קבע, Malachi 3:8?" - It is an Arabic expression. An Arabian, when he wishes to say to another מה אתה גוזלני, says instead of it, מה אתה קובעני. Perhaps קבע is cogn. to קבץ; the R. קב coincides in several groups of languages (also the Turkish ḳb) with the Lat. capere.)

Schultens' etymological explanation, capitium injicere (after Arab. ḳab', to draw back and conceal the head), is not satisfactory. The construction, with the double accus., follows the analogy of הכּהוּ נפשׁ and the like, Gesen. 139. 2. Regarding the sing. נפשׁ, even where several are spoken of, vid., under Proverbs 1:19.

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