Proverbs 20:26
A wise king separates out the wicked and drives the threshing wheel over them.
Persecution and Righteous PenaltyJ. Parker, D. D.Proverbs 20:26
The Truth of Life in Diverse AspectsE. Johnson Proverbs 20:24-30

We may divide the matter as follows.

I. DIVINE PROVIDENCE. (Ver. 24.) It is needful, for human wisdom is shortsighted, and human direction inadequate. It is a gracious fact, and, if acknowledged, brings blessing to the trustful mind and heart. Each man has a life vocation. God appoints it, and will reveal the means for the attainment of it. We cannot enter the kingdom except through the guidance of Christ.

II. HUMAN RESPONSIBILITY. (Ver. 27.) There is a light within us, or conscience in the most comprehensive sense. By the help of reason we may judge other men; by that of conscience, ourselves. It is in another statement the power of reflection, the inner mirror of the soul.


1. The necessity of pondering well our wishes. (Ver. 25.) We should think thrice before we act once. To act first and reflect afterwards is foolish and helpless; thus we reap the good of neither thought nor action.

2. The necessity of discrimination in rulers. (Ver. 26.) The figure is borrowed from agriculture, from the process of sifting and threshing - the latter in a penal sense (2 Samuel 12:31; 1 Chronicles 20:3; Amos 1:3). It is carried into the gospel. The Divine Judge's "fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor." We must submit to law or be crushed by its penal action.

3. The necessity of love and faithfulness in government. (Ver. 28.) For human government, to be sound, stable, and. respected, must be a reflection of the Divine government. And the eternal features of the latter are love and faithfulness. Clemency and severity are but two sides of the one living and eternal love which rules men only for their salvation.

4. The beauty of piety in youth and age. (Ver. 29.) Let the young man in Christ approve his strength by manful self-conquest, and the old man by riper wisdom and blameless conversation (1 John 2:13, 14).

5. The necessity of inward purification. (Ver. 30.) And to this end the necessity of chastisement. In bodily disease we recognize the struggle of life against that which is inimical to it; and in the afflictions of the soul the struggle of the God-awakened soul against its evils. Luther says, "Evil is cured, not by words, but by blows; suffering is as necessary as eating and drinking." - J.

A wise king scattereth the wicked, and bringeth the wheel over them
A passage of this kind may easily be perverted by being used for the purpose of supporting a doctrine of persecution. To bring the wheel over a man seems to be a figurative expression for the very direst cruelty. If a man is wicked, crush him with the wheel, tear him limb from limb, decapitate him, in some way show that there is a power that can terminate not only his enjoyment and his liberty, but his life. That, however is not the meaning of the text. Always distinguish between persecution and righteous penalty, between mere oppression and the assertion of that righteousness which is essential to the consolidation of society. When the stacks of corn were spread upon the threshing-floor, the grain was separated from the husk by a sort of sledge or cart which was driven over them. The process was for the purpose of separating the chaff from the wheat; the process therefore was purely beneficent: so with the wise king; he winnows out evil persons, he signalises them, he gives them all the definiteness of a separate position, and by bringing them into startling contrast with persons of sound and honest heart he seeks to put an end to their mischievous power. Indiscrimination is the ruin of goodness. Men are separated by different ways, not by imprisonment, not by merely personal penalty, not by stigma and brand of an offensive character; they are separated by contrariety of taste, aspiration, feeling, sympathy; in proportion as the good are earnest do they classify themselves, bringing themselves in sacred association with one another, and by sensitiveness of moral touch they feel the evil and avoid it; they know the evil person at a distance and are careful to put themselves out of his way and reach. What is represented as being done by the wise king is done by the cultivation of high principle and Christian honour.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

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