He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.
Verse 1. - He that being often reproved hardeneth his neck; literally, a man of reproofs - one who has had a long experience of rebukes and warnings. Compare "a man of sorrows" (Isaiah 53:3). The hardening of the neck is a metaphor derived from obstinate draught animals who will not submit to the yoke (Deuteronomy 10:16; Jeremiah 2:20; Jeremiah 27:8). Christ calls his yoke easy, and bids his followers to bear it bravely (Matthew 11:29. etc.). The reproofs may arise from the Holy Spirit and the conscience, from the teaching of the past, or from the counsel of friends. The LXX. (as some other Jewish interpreters) takes the expression in the text actively, "A man who reproves (ἐλέγχων) is better than one of stiff neck." Shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy (Proverbs 6:15; Proverbs 15:10). The incorrigible and self-deluding sinners shall come to a fearful and sudden end, though retribution be delayed (comp. Job 34:20; Psalm 2:9; Jeremiah 19:11). And there is no hope in their end; despising all correction, they can have no possibility of restoration. We may refer, as an illustration, to that terrible passage in the Epistle to the Hebrews (Hebrews 6:4, etc.), and to the fate of the Jews unto the present day. Septuagint, "For when he is burning suddenly, there is no remedy."
When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.
Verse 2. - When the righteous are in authority; rather, as in Proverbs 28:28, when the righteous are increased; Vulgate, in multiplicatione justorum. When sinners are put away, and the righteous are in the majority. Septuagint, "when the just are commended." When good men give the tone to society and conduct all affairs according to their own high standard, the peoople rejoice; there is general happiness; prosperity abounds, and voices ring cheerfully (Proverbs 11:10; Proverbs 28:12). When the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn; they suffer violence and injustice, and have bitter cause for complaint and lamentation. This proverb is not applicable to the age of Solomon.
Whoso loveth wisdom rejoiceth his father: but he that keepeth company with harlots spendeth his substance.
Verse 3. - The first hemistich is a variation of Proverbs 10. I (where see note). Keepeth company with; literally, feedeth, as Proverbs 28:7. Harlots (see on Proverbs 6:26). Such vice leads to the wasting of substance (Luke 15:13), and the great sorrow of the parent. Septuagint, "But he that pastureth (ποιμαίνει) harlots shall waste wealth."
The king by judgment establisheth the land: but he that receiveth gifts overthroweth it.
Verse 4. - Many of the proverbs in this chapter seem to suit the time of Jeroboam II. (see on Proverbs 28:3). The king by judgment establisheth the land. The king, the fountain of justice, by his equitable government brings his country into a healthy and settled condition (1 Kings 15:4; comp. Ver. 14; Proverbs 16:12; Proverbs 25:5). In the security of the throne the land and people participate. He that receiveth gifts overthroweth it. The expression, אִישׁ תְּרוּמות (ish terumoth), "man of offerings," "man of gifts," is ambiguous: it may mean "the taker of bribes," the unrighteous ruler who sells justice (Proverbs 15:27), or it may signify "the imposer of taxes" (Ezekiel 45:13, etc.) or forced benevolences. Aquila and Theodotion have ἀνὴρ ἀφαιρεμάτων, "man of heave offerings," and Wordsworth regards him as a man who claims and receives gifts, as if he were a deity on earth. Whichever sense we give to the phrase, the contrast lies between the inflexibly upright ruler and the iniquitous or extortionate prince. The Septuagint gives παράνομος, "a transgressor;" Vulgate, vir avarus.
A man that flattereth his neighbour spreadeth a net for his feet.
Verse 5. - A man that flattereth his neighbour; says only what is agreeable, applauds his words and actions indiscriminately, and makes him think too well of himself he is no true friend (see Proverbs 28:23). Spreadeth a net for his feet; his stops (Proverbs 26:28; Job 18:8, etc.). If a man listens to such flattering words, and is influenced by them, he works his own ruin; self-deceived, he knows not his real condition, and accordingly makes grievous disaster of his life. The LXX. gives a different turn to the sentence, "He that prepareth a net before his friend entangles his own feet therein" (comp. Proverbs 26:27; Proverbs 28:10).
In the transgression of an evil man there is a snare: but the righteous doth sing and rejoice.
Verse 6. - In the transgression of an evil man there is a snare (Proverbs 12:13). The snare is that the sinner is caught and held fast by his sin, and cannot escape, as he knows nothing of repentance, and has no will to cast off evil habits (Proverbs 24:16). (For "snare," comp. Proverbs 18:7; Proverbs 20:25; Proverbs 22:25.) Septuagint, "For a man sinning there lies a great snare." But the righteous doth sing and rejoice. The antithesis is not very obvious. It may mean that the good man has a conscience at peace, is free from the snare of sin, and therefore is glad; or that, in spite of a momentary fall, though he has transgressed, he knows that God forgives him on his repentance, and this makes him happy; or, generally that he rejoices in the happy life which his virtue procures for him here and hereafter (Matthew 5:12). In the original "sing" represents the sudden outburst of joy, "rejoice" the continued state of happiness. "The righteous shall be in joy and gladness (ἐν χαρᾷ καὶ ἐν εὐφροσύνῃ)," Septuagint.
The righteous considereth the cause of the poor: but the wicked regardeth not to know it.
Verse 7. - Considereth the cause; recognizes the claims, and, as the word din implies, supports them at the seat of judgment (comp. Job 29:12, 16; Psalm 82:3, etc.). Septuagint, "A righteous man knows how to judge for the poor." The wicked regardeth not to know it. This is a clumsy translation; it means, pays no attention so as to become fully acquainted with its details and bearings. But the words signify rather, as in the Revised Version margin, "understandeth not knowledge" (Proverbs 19:25; Proverbs 28:5), has no knowledge which would lead him to enter into the poor man's case, and to sympathize with him in his distress; the claims of the feeble to recognition and relief at his hands are utterly unknown and disregarded. He can daily look on Lazarus at his gate, and find no call for his pity and charity; he can see the wounded traveller in the road, and pass by on the other side. The LXX. offers two translations of the latter clause, reading the second time דשׁ instead of רשׁע, and thereby not improving the sense: "But the ungodly understand. eth not knowledge, and the poor man hath not an understanding mind."
Scornful men bring a city into a snare: but wise men turn away wrath.
Verse 8. - Scornful men bring a airy into a snare. "Men of derision" (Isaiah 28:14) are those who despise and scoff at all things great and high, whether sacred or profane (see on Proverbs 1:22). These are the persons who raise rebellion in a country and excite opposition to constituted authority. The rendering of יָפִיתיּ, "bring into a snare," as in the Authorized Version, is supported by some of the Jewish versions and commentaries; but the more correct rendering is "blow into a blaze, inflame," as the Revised Version (comp. Job 20:26; Ezekiel 22:20, 21). These scorners excite the populace to acts of fury, when all respect for piety and virtue is lost; they fan the passions of the fickle people, and lead them to civil discord and dangerous excesses (comp. Proverbs 22:10). Septuagint, "Lawless men burn up a city." But wise men turn away wrath; by their prudent counsels allay the angry passions roused by those evil men (see Ver. 11 and Proverbs 15:1, 18).
If a wise man contendeth with a foolish man, whether he rage or laugh, there is no rest.
Verse 9. - If a wise man contendeth with a foolish man - if a wise man has a controversy, either legal or social, with a wicked fool - whether he rage (is angry) or laugh, there is no rest. It is a question whether the wise man or the fool is the subject of this clause. St. Jerome makes the former the subject, Vir sapiens, si cum stulto contenderit, sive irascatur, sive rideat, non inveniet requiem. It matters not how the wise man treats the fool; he may be stern and angry, he may be gentle and good tempered, yet the fool will be none the better, will not be reformed, will not cease from his folly, will carry on his cavilling contention. Hitzig, Delitzsch, and others, deeming that the rage and the laughter are not becoming to the character of the wise man, take the fool as the subject; so that the sense is, that after all has been said, the fool only falls into a passion or laughs at the matter, argument is wasted upon him, and the controversy is never settled. This seems to be the best interpretation, and is somewhat supported by the Septuagint, "A wise man shall judge the nations, but a worthless man, being angry, laughs and fears not [καταγελᾶται καὶ οὐ καταπτήσσει, which may also mean, 'is derided and terrifies no one']." Wordsworth notes that the irreligious fool is won neither by the austere preaching of John the Baptist nor by the mild teaching of Christ, but rejects both (Matthew 11:16-19).
The bloodthirsty hate the upright: but the just seek his soul.
Verse 10. - The bloodthirsty hate the upright; him that is perfect, Revised Version; ὅσιον, Septuagint. His life is a tacit reproach to men of blood, robbers, murderers, and such like sinners, as is finely expressed in the Book of Wisdom 2:12, etc. (comp. 2 Corinthians 6:14). But the just seek his soul. The explanation of this hemistich is doubtful. The following interpretations have been offered:
(1) The just seek the soul of the upright to deliver him from death temporal and spiritual (comp. Proverbs 12:6; Psalm 142:4).
(2) The just seek the murderer's life, take vengeance on him (comp. Psalm 63:9, 10).
(3) "As for the just, they (the murderers) attempt his life," where the change of subject, though by no means unparalleled, is awkward (comp. Psalm 37:14). The second explanation makes the righteous the executioners of vengeance on the delinquents, which does not seem to be the idea intended, and there is no confirmation of it in our book. The interpretation first given has against it the fact that the phrase, "to seek the soul," is used of attempts against the life, not of preserving it. But this is not fatal; and the above seems to be the most likely explanation offered, and gives a good antithesis. Men of blood hate a virtuous man, and try to destroy him; the righteous love him, and do their utmost to defend and keep him safe. If this interpretation is rejected, the third explanation is allowable, the casus pendens - "the just, they seek his life" - may be compared with Genesis 26:15; Deuteronomy 2:23. Septuagint, "But the upright will seek (ἐκζητήσουσι) his life."
A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards.
Verse 11. - A fool uttereth all his mind; his spirit; רוּחו, i.e. "his anger;" θυμόν, Septuagint (comp. Proverbs 16:32). The wording of the second hemistich confirms this rendering. A fool pours out his wrath, restrained by no consideration. It is a wise maxim that says, "Command your temper, lest it command you;" and again, "When passion enters in at the foregate, wisdom goes out at the postern." So we have the word attributed to Evenus Parius -
Πολλάκις ἀνθρώπων ὀργὴ νόον ἐξεκάλυψε
Κρυπτόμενον μανίας πουλὺ χερειότερον.
"Wrath often hath revealed man's hidden mind,
Than madness more pernicious." A wise man keepeth it in till afterwards. This clause is capable of more than one explanation. The Authorized Version says that the wise man restrains his own anger till he can give it proper vent. The term בְּאָחור occurs nowhere else, and is rendered "at last," "finally," and by Delitzsch, "within," i.e. in his heart. The verb rendered "keepeth in" (shabach) is rather "to calm," "to hush," as in Psalm 65:7; Psalm 89:10, "Which stilleth the noise of the seas." So we have the meaning: The wise man calms the auger within him; according to the proverb, Irae dilatio, mentis pacatio. Or the anger calmed may be that of the fool: The wise man appeases it after it has been exhibited; he knows how to apply soothing remedies to the angry man, and in the end renders him calm and amenable to reason. This seems the most suitable explanation. Septuagint, "A wise man husbands it (ταμιεύεται) in part."
If a ruler hearken to lies, all his servants are wicked.
Verse 12. - All his servants are wicked. The ruler is willing to be deceived, and does not care to hear the truth, so his servants flatter and lie to him, and the whole atmosphere is charged with unreality and deceit. Qualis rex, talis grex. Ecclus. 10:2, "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." Claudian, 'IV. Cons. Hon.,' 299 -
Regis ad exemplum: nec sic inflectere sensus
Humanos edicta valent, ut vita regentis.
Mobile mutatur semper cum principe vulgus."
"By the king's precedent
The world is ordered; and men's minds are moved
Less by stern edicts than their ruler's life.
The fickle crowd aye by the prince is swayed." Cicero, 'De Leg.,' 3:13, "Ut enim cupiditatibus principum et vitiis iufici solet tota civitas, sic emendari et corrigi continentia." And ibid., 14, "Quo perniciosius de republica merentur vitiosi principes, quod non solum vitia concipiunt ipsi, sod ea infundunt in civitatem; neque solum obsunt, ipsi quod corrumpuntur, sed etiam quod corrumpunt, plusque exemplo, quam peccato, nocent."
The poor and the deceitful man meet together: the LORD lighteneth both their eyes.
Verse 13. - A variation of Proverbs 22:2. The deceitful man. This makes no contrast with the poor. "The man of oppressions" (tekakim) is the usurer, from whom the poor suffer most wrong and cruelty. The needy man and the rich lender are thrown together in social life. St. Jerome calls them pauper et creditor. Septuagint, "When the creditor and debtor meet together, the Lord maketh inspection (ἐπσκοπὴν) of both." The Lord lighteneth both their eyes. Both rich and poor, the oppressor and the oppressed, owe their light and life to God; he makes the sun to rise on the evil and on the good; he sends rain on the just and the unjust; he is the Father, Ruler, and Judge of all. Here is comfort for the poor, that he has a tender Father who watches over him; here is a warning for the rich, that he will have to give an account of his stewardship. The former proverb spoke only generally of God being the Maker of both (comp. Psalm 13:8; Ecclesiastes 11:7).
The king that faithfully judgeth the poor, his throne shall be established for ever.
Verse 14. - The king that faithfully judgeth the poor (comp. Proverbs 16:12; Proverbs 20:28; Proverbs 25:5). Inflexible fidelity to duty is intended - that perfect impartiality, which dispenses justice alike to rich and poor, uninfluenced By personal or social considerations. His throne shall be established forever. Being founded on righteousness, it shall pass on to his descendants for many generations (comp. Jeremiah 22:3, etc.). The LXX., pointing differently, have, "His throne shall be established for a testimony" (lahed, instead of lahad).
The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.
Verse 15. - The rod and reproof give wisdom to the young. The former denotes bodily correction, what we call corporal punishment; the latter, discipline in words, rebuke administered when any moral fault is noticed. The idea here enunciated is very common in this book (see Proverbs 10:1, 13; Proverbs 13:24; Proverbs 23:13). But a child loft to himself bringeth his mother to shame. The verb translated "left" (שָׁלַח, shalach) is used in Job 39:5 of the wild ass left to wander free where it wills. A child allowed to do as he likes, undisciplined - spoiled, as we call it - is a shame to his mother, whose weakness has led to this want of restraint, fond love degenerating into over-indulgence (comp. Proverbs 17:21; Proverbs 28:7). Septuagint, "A son that goeth astray shameth his parents."
When the wicked are multiplied, transgression increaseth: but the righteous shall see their fall.
Verse 16. - When the wicked are multiplied, transgression increaseth. The verb rabah is used in both parts of the sentence, and should have been so translated, When the wicked increase, transgression increaseth. Septuagint, "When the godless are many, sins become many." Where the wicked get the upper hand in a community, their evil example is copied, and a lowering of moral tone and a general laxity in conduct prevail (see on ver. 12: comp. also ver. 2; Proverbs 28:12, 28). But the righteous shall see their fall. Retribution shall overtake them, and God's justice shall be vindicated. This the righteous shall witness, and shall rejoice in the vengeance, when his eye shall see its desire upon his enemies (Psalm 54:7; see also Psalm 37:34; Psalm 73:17, etc.). Septuagint (punctuating differently), "But when they (the godless) fall, the righteous become fearful (κατάφοβοι);" they are awestruck at the sudden and grievous fall of sinners.
Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul.
Verse 17. - Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest (Proverbs 19:18); Septuagint, ἀναπαύσει σε. He will be no longer a source of care and disquiet to you. Delight (maadanim); properly, dainty dishes, and then any great and special pleasure (comp. Ecclus. 30:1-12). Septuagint, "He shall give ornament (κόσμον) to thy soul." This verse and the following are presented by the Greek version in a mutilated form after Proverbs 28:17 (where see note).
Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.
Verse 18. - Where there is no vision, the people perish; rather, cast off restraint, become ungovernable, cannot be reined in (Exodus 32:22, 25). "Vision" (chazon), prophecy in its widest sense, denotes the revelation of God's will made through agents, which directed the course of events, and was intended to be coordinate with the supreme secular authority. The prophets were the instructors of the people in Divine things, standing witnesses of the truth and power of religion, teaching a higher than mere human morality. The fatal effect of the absence of such revelation of God's will is stated to be confusion, disorder, and rebellion; the people, uncontrolled, fall into grievous excesses, which nothing but high principles can restrain. We note the licence of Eli's time, when there was no open vision (1 Samuel 3.); in Asa's days, when Israel had long been without a teaching priest (2 Chronicles 15:3); and when the impious Ahaz "made Judah naked" (2 Chronicles 28:19); or when the people were destroyed by reason of lack of knowledge of Divine things (Hosea 4:6). Thus the importance of prophecy in regulating the life and religion of the people is fully acknowledged by the writer, in whose time, doubtless, the prophetical office was in full exercise: but this seems to be the only passage in the book where such teaching is directly mentioned; the instructors and preceptors elsewhere introduced as disseminating the principles of the chochmah being parents, or tutors, or professors, not inspired prophets. But he that keepeth the Law, happy is he! "The Law" (torah) is not merely the written Mosaic Law, but the announcement of God's will by the mouth of his representatives; and the thought is, not the blessedness of those who in a time of anarchy and irreligion keep to the authorized enactments of the Sinaitic legislation, but a contrast between the lawlessness and ruin of a people uninfluenced by religious guidance, and the happy state of those who obey alike the voice of God, whether conveyed in written statutes or by the teaching of living prophets. (For "happy is he," comp. Proverbs 14:21; Proverbs 16:20.) Septuagint, "There shall be no interpreter (ἐξηγητὴς) to a sinful nation, but he that keepeth the Law is most blessed."
A servant will not be corrected by words: for though he understand he will not answer.
Verse 19. - A servant will not be corrected by words. Mere words will not suffice to teach a slave, any more than a child, true, practical wisdom. He needs severer measures, even the correction of personal discipline. Septuagint, "By words a stubborn (σκληρὸς) slave will not be instructed." The next clause gives an explanation of this necessity. For though he understand he will not answer. The answer is not merely the verbal response to a command, as, "I go, sir;" but it implies obedience in action. The reluctant slave thoroughly understands the order given, but he pays no heed to it, will not trouble himself to execute it, and therefore must meet with stern treatment (comp. ver. 15; Proverbs 23:13, etc.; Proverbs 26:3). "That servant which knew his Lord's will, and made not ready, nor did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes" (Luke 12:47). Septuagint, "For even if he understand, he will not obey."
Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? there is more hope of a fool than of him.
Verse 20. - Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? (comp. Proverbs 26:12); Vulgate, velocem ad loquendum; Septuagint, ταχὺν ἐν λόγοις. James 1:19," Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak." "A talkative (γλωσσώδης) man is dangerous in his city; and he that is rash (προπετὴς) in his words shall be hated" (Ecclus. 9:18). We might also translate, "hasty in his matters," "hasty in business," and the gnome would be equally true (see note on Proverbs 19:2). There is more hope era fool than of him. The dull, stupid man (kesil) may be instructed and guided and made to listen to reason; the hasty and ill-advised speaker consults no one, takes no thought before he speaks, nor reflects on the effect of his words; such a man it is almost impossible to reform (see James 3:5, etc.). "Every one that speaks," says St. Gregory, "while he waits for his hearer's sentence upon his words, is as it were subjected to the judgment of him by whom he is heard. Accordingly, he that fears to be condemned in respect of his words ought first to put to the test that which he delivers - that there may be a kind of impartial and sober umpire sitting between the hear and tongue, weighing with exactness whether the heart presents right words, which the tongue taking up with advantage may bring forward for the heater's judgment" ('Moral.,' 8:5, Oxford transl.).
He that delicately bringeth up his servant from a child shall have him become his son at the length.
Verse 21. - He that delicately bringeth up his servant from a child. The verb panak, which is not found elsewhere in the Old Testament, is rightly here translated as in the Vulgate, qui delicate nutrit. It refers to the spoiling a person by over-refinement, luxury, and pampering - a treatment peculiarly unsuitable in the case of a bond servant, and one which makes such forgetful of his dependent position. Septuagint, "He that liveth wantonly (κατασπαταλᾷ) from childhood shall be a servant." Shall have him become his son at the length; i.e. at length, like "at the last," equivalent to "at last" (Proverbs 5:11). The word rendered "son" (מַנון, manon) is of doubtful meaning, and has been variously understood or misunderstood by interpreters. Septuagint, "And in the end shall have pain (ὀδυνηθήσεται) over himself;" Symmachus, "shall have murmuring (ἔστα γογγυσμός);" Vulgate, Postea sentiet eum contumacem. Ewald translates "ungrateful;" Delitzsch, "place of increase," i.e. a household of pampered scapegraces; but one does not see how the disaster can be called a place or a house. It seems safest in this uncertainty to adopt the Jewish interpretation of "progeny:" "he will be as a son." The pampered servant will end by claiming the privileges of a son, and perhaps ousting the legitimate children from their inheritance (comp. Proverbs 17:2; and the case of Ziba and Mephibosheth, 2 Samuel 16:4). "Fodder, a stick, and burdens are for the ass; and bread, correction, and work for a servant. If thou set thy servant to labour, thou shalt find rest; but if thou let him go idle, he will seek liberty" (Ecclus. 33:24, etc.). Spiritual writers have applied this proverb to the pampering of the flesh, which ought to be under the control of its master, the spirit, but which, if gratified and unrestrained, gets the upper hand, and, like a spoiled servant, dictates to its lord.
An angry man stirreth up strife, and a furious man aboundeth in transgression.
Verse 22. - An angry man stirreth up strife. This is a variation of Proverbs 15:18 and Proverbs 28:25 (which see). A furious man aboundeth in transgression. "A furious man" is a passionate person, who gives way to violent fits of anger (Proverbs 22:24). Such a man both makes enemies by his conduct and falls into manifold excesses of word and action while under the influence of his wrath. "The wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God" (James 1:20). The Greek gnome says -
Ὀργὴ δὲ πολλὰ δρᾶ῀ιν ἀναγκάζει κακά And again -
Πόλλ ἔστιν ὀργῆς ἐξ ἀπαιδεύτου κακά
"Unchastened anger leads to many ills." Septuagint, "A passionate man diggeth up sin" - a forcible expression, which is not unusual in reference to quarrels.
A man's pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit.
Verse 23. - A man's pride shall bring him low. The same thought is found in Proverbs 15:33; Proverbs 16:18; Proverbs 25:6, etc.; Luke 14:11. Honour shall uphold the humble in spirit; better, as the Revised Version, he that is of a lowly spirit shall obtain honour (comp. Proverbs 11:16; Isaiah 57:15). The humble man does not seek honour, but by his life and action unconsciously attains it (comp. Job 22:29). Septuagint, "Haughtiness brings a man low, but the lowly-minded the Lord upholdeth with glory."
Whoso is partner with a thief hateth his own soul: he heareth cursing, and bewrayeth it not.
Verse 24. - Whoso is partner with a thief hateth his own soul. The accomplice of a thief puts his own safety in danger. This is explained by what follows: He heareth cursing, and bewrayeth it not; better, he heareth the adjuration, and telleth not. This refers to the course of proceeding defined by Leviticus 5:1, and intimated in Judges 17:2. When a theft was committed, the person wronged or the judge pronounced an imprecation on the thief and on any one who was privy to the crime, and refrained from giving information; a witness who saw and knew of it, and was silent under this formal adjuration, has to bear his iniquity; he is not only an accomplice of a criminal, he is also a perjurer; one sin leads to another. Some commentators explain the first hemistich as referring only to the crime of receiving or using stolen goods, by which a man commits a crime and exposes himself to punishment; but it is best taken, as above, in connection with the second clause, and as elucidated thereby.
The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.
Verse 25. - The fear of man bringeth a snare. He who, through fear of what man may do to him, think or say of him, does what he knows to be wrong, lets his moral cowardice lead him into sin, leaves duty undone, - such a man gets no real good from his weakness, outrages conscience, displeases God. See our Lord's words (Matthew 10:28; Mark 8:38; and comp. Isaiah 51:12, etc). Whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe (Proverbs 18:10). Such trust carries a man safe through all dangers; fearing to offend God, living as always under his eye, he feels Divine protection, and knows that whatever happens is for the best. The LXX. joins this to the preceding verse, thus: "He who shareth with a thief hateth his own soul; and if, when an oath is offered, they who hear it give, no information, they fearing and reverencing men, are overthrown, but he that trusteth in the Lord shall rejoice." They add another rendering of the last verse, "Ungodliness causeth a man to stumble, but he who trusts in the Lord (ἐπὶ τῷ δεσπότῃ 2 Peter 2:1) shall be saved." Δεσπότης is used for Jehovah in the New Testament, e.g., Luke 2:29; Acts 4:24.
Many seek the ruler's favour; but every man's judgment cometh from the LORD.
Verse 26. - Many seek the ruler's favour; literally, the countenance of the ruler. A variation of Proverbs 19:6. There are numbers who are always trying, by means fair or surreptitious, to curry favour with a great man who has anything to bestow (comp. 1 Kings 10:24; Psalm 45:12). But every man's judgment cometh from the Lord. The real and only reliable judgment comes, not from an earthly prince (who may be prejudiced and is certainly fallible), but from the Lord, whose approval or disapproval is final and indisputable. Therefore one should seek to please him rather than any man, however great and powerful (comp. 1 Samuel 16:7; Isaiah 49:4; 1 Corinthians 4:5).
An unjust man is an abomination to the just: and he that is upright in the way is abomination to the wicked.
Verse 27. - An unjust man is an abomination to the just. This great moral contrast, marked and universal, is a fitting close of the book. The word "abomination" (toebah) occurs more than twenty times in the Proverbs; it is appropriate here because the good man looks upon the sinner as the enemy of God, as the psalmist says, "Do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them thine enemies" (Psalm 139:21, etc.). He that is upright in the way is abomination to the wicked; because he is a standing reproach to him, and by every tone and look and action seems to express his condemnation (see on Proverbs 21:15, and the Septuagint Version there; and comp. 1 Kings 21:20: Isaiah 53:3; Matthew 8:34; John 15:19). Septuagint, "A direct way is an abomination to the lawless." The Vulgate ends the chapter with a paragraph which is found in some manuscripts of the Septuagint after Proverbs 24:22 (where see note), Verbum custodiens filius extra perditionem erit.