I. REVERENCE AND IRREVERENCE FOR THE DIVINE WORD. The "Word" is any revelation man receives of God, whether through nature, oracles of the prophets, or in his immediate consciousness. The last, in the deepest sense, is the condition of all other revelations. Irreverence is shown either when men are deaf and indifferent to the Divine voice, or when they suffer it to be out-clamoured by other voices - of passion, policy, etc. The result is that he who thus sins is "pledged" or forfeited to the Divine Law, here personified or regarded as a superhuman power. Hence appears the truth from this figure, that in disobedience our freedom is lost. On the contrary, reverence and obedience receive a certain reward: "Glory, honour, and peace to every man that worketh good" (Romans 2:10).
II. THE DOCTRINE OF THE WISE. (Ver. 14.) The teaching that is founded on Divine revelation is a source of life, and a safeguard against the snares of death (comp. Proverbs 10:11).
III. THERE MUST BE RECEPTIVITY TOWARDS THIS. DOCTRINE. The Word must be "mixed with faith in those that hear." The favour of God is free in one sense, i.e. is no earned result of our conduct; but it is conditional in another, viz. it depends on our compliance with his will. The contrast to the life in the light of God's favour, watered by vital nourishment from the springs of truth, is the "way of the faithless," which is "barren," dry, as in "a dry and thirsty land where no water is."
IV. PRUDENCE AND GOOD COUNSEL MUST BE ADDED TO REVERENCE. (Ver. 16.) Thougtfulness is Deeded in studying the evidences, the substance, the applications of religion. And in the practical conduct of life how necessary! for more errors are committed for want of judgment and discrimination as to time, place, and circumstances, than for want of true and right purpose. The man destitute of tact pours folly abroad; temper, vanity, caprice, are exposed in all that he does and says.
V. FAITHFUL AND UNFAITHFUL MINISTRY. (Ver. 17.) The wicked messenger prepares misfortune both for his master and for himself; while the faithful servant will amend even his master's mistakes. Applied to sacred things, every Christian should consider himself a messenger, an apostle in however humble a sphere, of God and his truth. And "it is required of stewards that they be found faithful." - J.
A wicked messenger falleth into mischief: but a faithful ambassador is health.I. JUSTIFY THE COMPARISON OF THE AMBASSADOR AND THE MINISTER OF THE GOSPEL. Observe —
1. The high commission under which they act. The ambassador is invested with authority to perform business of the utmost importance to the well-being of both countries with which he is concerned. Is not this true of those servants of the Most High God who show to men the way of salvation? The office of the ministry is not of human, but of Divine origin.
2. Their required qualifications. An ambassador must be particularly instructed for his work; he must accurately know the mind and will of his employer, and the claims of the respective parties in reference to whom he treats. And a minister should be a man whose mind has been thoroughly enlightened by the truths of the gospel. He is set for the defence of the gospel, so he must show himself a scribe well instructed in the kingdom of heaven — one able rightly to divide the Word of truth.
3. The peculiar character of their transactions. The ambassador is often sent to arrange terms of peace. And in this sense, ministers are "ambassadors for Christ."
4. The issue of their negotiations. "A faithful ambassador is health." This refers to three things — the healing of those breaches and contentions which had previously broken forth and prevailed; the excellency of the benefits which accrue to the reconciled party; and the promotion to honour and prosperity of the successful ambassador. Each of these ideas is applicable to the higher exercises of the holy ambassadorship.
II. CONSIDERATIONS TO URGE YOU TO ACCEDE TO THE PROPOSALS WE ADVANCE.
1. It is derived from the expensive preparation made by the offended party to effect the desired conciliation.
2. The second consideration is drawn from the imminent peril of rejecting the proposals which we advance.
3. Think of the countless advantages of conciliation.
4. Reflect on the transitoriness of the period during which these negotiators must fulfil all the important ends of their embassy. Happy, thrice happy, are they who have been brought into a state of reconciliation with God.
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