Proverbs 25:26
A righteous man falling down before the wicked is as a troubled fountain, and a corrupt spring.
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(26) A righteous man falling down before the wicked . . .—The mouth of the righteous was described (Proverbs 10:11) as a “well of life,” from the comfort and refreshment it brings to the weary- through the just and kindly counsel it offers. But if the righteous man yields to the pressure put upon him by the wicked, and through fear or favour gives up his principles, then he can no longer give forth counsel out of a pure heart; he becomes like a fountain which has been fouled by the feet of cattle drinking at it (Ezekiel 34:18), and like a corrupted spring.

Proverbs 25:26. A righteous man falling down before the wicked, &c. — When a righteous man is either allured or terrified into any sinful practice by wicked men, or into any base and servile compliance with their habits and customs, he, who by his excellent example and counsels was like a fountain, or well of life, (as the mouth of the righteous is termed, Proverbs 10:11,) sending forth refreshing streams for the benefit of many, is now corrupted and rendered useless. Or, the meaning may be, When righteous men are oppressed by the wicked, the state of that commonwealth is as deplorable as if the public fountains, from which all the people fetched their water, were corrupted, and it is a sign that the fountains of justice are poisoned. 25:19. Confidence in an unfaithful man is painful and vexatious; when we put any stress on him, he not only fails, but makes us feel for it. 20. We take a wrong course if we think to relieve those in sorrow by endeavouring to make them merry. 21,22. The precept to love even our enemies is an Old Testament commandment. Our Saviour has shown his own great example in loving us when we were enemies. 23. Slanders would not be so readily spoken, if they were not readily heard. Sin, if it receives any check, becomes cowardly. 24. It is better to be alone, than to be joined to one who is a hinderance to the comfort of life. 25. Heaven is a country afar off; how refreshing is good news from thence, in the everlasting gospel, which signifies glad tidings, and in the witness of the Spirit with our spirits that we are God's children! 26. When the righteous are led into sin, it is as hurtful as if the public fountains were poisoned. 27. We must be, through grace, dead to the pleasures of sense, and also to the praises of men. 28. The man who has no command over his anger, is easily robbed of peace. Let us give up ourselves to the Lord, and pray him to put his Spirit within us, and cause us to walk in his statutes.Falling down before - i. e., Yielding and cringing. To see this instead of stedfastness, is as grievous as for the traveler to find the spring at which he hoped to quench his thirst turbid and defiled. 26. From troubled fountains and corrupt springs no healthy water is to be had, so when the righteous are oppressed by the wicked, their power for good is lessened or destroyed. Falling down; either,

1. Into sin. So the sense is, When a just man is either allured or terrified into any sinful practice before wicked men, or into any base and servile compliance with their lusts, he who by his excellent counsels was like a fountain or well of life, as his mouth is called, Proverbs 10:11, sending forth refreshing streams for the benefit of many, is now corrupted and rendered unserviceable. Or rather,

2. Into misery, of which kind of falling this word is constantly used, and never to my remembrance of falling into sin. And so the sense is this, When righteous men are oppressed and devoured by the wicked, the state of that commonwealth is as deplorable, as if the public fountains, from whence all the people fetch their water, were corrupted, and it is a sign that the fountains of justice are poisoned. A righteous man falling dozen before the wicked,.... Either falling into calamity and distress by means of the wicked man, through his malice and cunning, and which be seeing, rejoices at; or crouching unto him, bowing before him, yielding to him, not daring to oppose or reprove him; or falling into sin in his presence, which he ever after reproaches him for, and openly exposes him, so that his usefulness is lost; and especially if he joins with the wicked man in his course of living; and particularly if a civil magistrate, and acts unrighteously in his office: he

is as a troubled fountain, and a corrupt spring; like a spring or fountain muddied with the feet of men or beasts; so that; he who was before as a clear spring of flowing water, a fountain of justice to his neighbours, from whom good doctrine and wholesome advice flowed, is now of no use by instruction or example, but the contrary.

A righteous man falling down before the wicked is as a troubled fountain, and a corrupt spring.
26. falling down] Better, with R.V., that giveth way, or (marg.) is moved. To see a righteous man moved from his stedfastness through fear or favour in the presence of the wicked is as disheartening, as to find the stream turbid and defiled, at which you were longing to quench your thirst.

Lord Bacon, quoted by Lange, gives the proverb a judicial application: “This proverb teaches that an unjust and scandalous judgement in any conspicuous and weighty cause is above all things to be avoided in the State.” And again, “One foul sentence doeth more hurt than many foul examples; for these do but corrupt the stream, the other corrupteth the fountain.”

troubled] Lit. trampled, i.e. fouled by the feet. Comp. Ezekiel 34:18, where the same Heb. word is used of water, with the addition of “with your feet.”

corrupt] Better, corrupted, R.V.Verse 26. - Hebrew (see on Ver. 11), A troubled fountain, and a corrupted spring - a righteous man giving way to the wicked. A good man neglecting to assert himself and to hold his own m the face of sinners, is as useless to society and as harmful to the good cause as a spring that has been defiled by mud stirred up or extraneous matter introduced is unserviceable for drinking and prejudicial to those who use it. The mouth of the righteous should be "a well of life" (Proverbs 10:11), wholesome, refreshing, helpful; his conduct should be consistent and straightforward, fearless in upholding the right (Isaiah 51:12, etc.), uncompromising in opposing sin. When such a man, for fear, or favour, or weakness, or weariness, yields to the wicked, compromises principle, no longer makes a stand for truth and purity and virtue, he loses his high character, brings a scandal on religion, and lowers his own spiritual nature. It is this moral cowardice which Christ so sternly rebukes (Matthew 10:33), "Whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven." Some have assumed that the gnome is concerned with a good man's fall into misfortune owing to the machinations of sinners; but in this case the comparison loses its force; such persecution would not disturb the purity or lower the character of the righteous man; it would rather enhance his good qualities, give occasion for their exercise and development, and therefore could not be described as fouling a pure spring. The above proverb, which connects itself with Proverbs 25:18, not only by the sound רע, but also by שׁן, which is assonant with שׁנון, is followed by another with the catchword רע:

20 He that layeth aside his coat on a day of frost, vinegar on nitre,

     And he who welcomes with songs a dejected heart.

Is not this intelligible, sensible, ingenious? All these three things are wrong. The first is as wrong as the second, and the third, which the proverb has in view, is morally wrong, for one ought to weep with those that weep, Romans 12:15; he, on the contrary, who laughs among those who weep, is, on the most favourable judgment, a fool. That which is wrong in 20a, according to Bttcher in the Aehrenlese, 1849, consists in this, that one in severe cold puts on a fine garment. As if there were not garments which are at the same time beautiful, and keep warm? In the new Aehrenlese he prefers the reading משׁנּה: if one changes his coat. But that surely he might well enough do, if the one were warmer than the other! Is it then impossible that מעדה, in the connection, means transire faciens equals removens? The Kal עדה, tarnsiit, occurs at Job 28:8. So also, in the poetic style. העדה might be used in the sense of the Aram. אעדּי. Rightly Aquila, Symmachus, περιαιρῶν; the Venet. better, ἀφαιρούμενος (Mid.). בּגד is an overcoat or mantle, so called from covering, as לבוּשׁ (R. לב, to fasten, fix), the garment lying next the body, vid., at Psalm 22:19. Thus, as it is foolish to lay off upper clothing on a frosty day, so it is foolish also to pour vinegar on nitre; carbonic acid nitre, whether it be mineral (which may be here thought of) or vegetable, is dissolved in water, and serves diverse purposes (vid., under Isaiah 1:25); but if one pours vinegar on it, it is destroyed. לב־רע

(Note: The writing wavers between על לב־רע (cf. על עם־דּל) and על־בל רע dna )על ע.)

is, at Proverbs 26:23 and elsewhere, a heart morally bad, here a heart badly disposed, one inclined to that which is evil; for שׁר שׁיר is the contrast of קונן קינה, and always the consequence of a disposition joyfully excited; the inconsistency lies in this, that one thinks to cheer a sorrowful heart by merry singing, if the singing has an object, and is not much more the reckless expression of an animated pleasure in view of the sad condition of another. שׁיר על .rehtona signifies, as at Job 33:27, to sing to any one, to address him in singing; cf. דּבּר על, Jeremiah 6:10, and particularly על־לב, Hosea 2:16; Isaiah 40:2. The ב of בּשּׁרים is neither the partitive, Proverbs 9:5, nor the transitive, Proverbs 20:30, but the instrumental; for, as e.g., at Exodus 7:20, the obj. of the action is thought of as its means (Gesen. 138, Anm. 3*); one sings "with songs," for definite songs underlie his singing. The lxx, which the Syr., Targ., and Jerome more or less follow, has formed from this proverb one quite different: "As vinegar is hurtful to a wound, so an injury to the body makes the heart sorrowful; as the moth in clothes, and the worm in wood, so the sorrow of a man injures his heart." The wisdom of this pair of proverbs is not worth much, and after all inquiry little or nothing comes of it. The Targ. at least preserves the figure 20b: as he who pours vinegar (Syr. chalo) on nitre; the Peshito, however, and here and there also the Targum, has jathro (arrow-string) instead of methro (nitre). Hitzig adopts this, and changes the tristich into the distich:

He that meeteth archers with arrow on the string,

Is like him who singeth songs with a sad heart.

The Hebrew of this proverb of Hitzig's (מרים קרה על־יתר) is unhebraic, the meaning dark as an oracle, and its moral contents nil.

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