By me kings reign, and rulers enact just laws;
I. SHE APPEALS TO COMPARISON. (Vers, 10, 11.) By comparison we increase and strengthen our perceptions. In the knowledge of man, books, art, life, comparison is everything. We are to compare Wisdom with material objects of sense, such as gold and silver, that we may see her to be incomparable; and so each for ourselves repeat the choice of Solomon (comp. on Proverbs 3:14, 15).
II. SHE APPEALS TO ASSOCIATION. (Ver. 12.) Wisdom dwells with prudence. In modern language, the general implies the particular. Wisdom is intelligence in general; prudence, the appreciation of it in particular cases. In the poetical mode of representation we should say that Piety and Prudence are sisters, and go hand-in-hand, daughters of the voice of God, as Wordsworth said of duty. So, too, Wisdom has insight into enigmas, dark sayings, and generally deep things of God (see on Proverbs 1:4).
III. SHE UNFOLDS TEE CONTENTS OF HER MIND. (Vers. 18, 14.) One of her many aliases is the fear of Jehovah. And this is religion, which includes all wholesome aversions, viz. wickedness in general, and in particular assumption, arrogance, evil habits, perverted speech. In other words, her sympathies are all with lowliness, purity, love, and truth. Insight or sharp and deep perception is another of her attributes, and force (comp. on Proverbs 2:7).
V. SHE CLAIMS SUPREME AUTHORITY. (Vers. 15, 16.) Kings, rulers, princes, potentates, judges, - all received those places and fulfil those functions through her and her alone. Authority in polities rests on consent or on force, or both. And these are traceable ultimately to reason, and reason is the "inspiration of the Almighty." Exceptions form no part of this representation. In modern language, we say that government, as a principle or institute, rests on an ultimate Divine basis. The text says tic less than this, nor does it say mort.
V. SHE IS IN RECIPROCAL RELATION TO HER SUBJECTS. (Ver. 17.) Her love is conditioned by love; the winning of her by the wooing. The notion that we can be passive, whether in knowledge or goodness, is an entire illusion. Such an illusion once prevailed as the doctrine of "innate ideas" now exploded in philosophy. All that becomes the portion of head or heart implies, necessitates a previous spiritual activity in us. We are ignorant because we will not learn, unhappy because we will not love.
VI. SHE COMMANDS WEALTH AND HONOUR AND THE AVENUES TO THEM. (Vers. 18-21.) Riches, honour, self-increasing goods, and righteous" (comp. on Proverbs 3:16). The righteous here is elucidated by the next two verses; she shows the right way to all earthly good. She is a tree of life, and yields incomparable fruit both for value and abundance (ver. 19). She guarantees possessions to her votaries. The connection between righteous and worldly wealth is insisted on. Not that it is always obvious. Nor again are we to expect notice of exceptions in teaching that is from first to last absolute in form. The stringency of the connection is what we have to recognize; the knowledge of its complete application to all cases opens the relations of eternity and demands the omniscience of God. - J.
I. THE GIFTS WHICH OUR LORD CHRIST HAS RECEIVED FOR US.
By Me kings reign.I. THE SPECIAL CAUSE THAT WE HAVE FOR INCREASED THANKFULNESS TO GOD.
1. We ought to be thankful for any event which tends to secure the blessings of peace to our country.
2. A state of peace, as it is most conducive to the temporal interests of a nation, so too it is essential to the interests of true religion.
II. THE DUTY OF PRAYING CONSTANTLY AND EARNESTLY FOR THOSE WHO ARE LAWFULLY SET OVER US.
(H. W. Sulivan, M. A.)
I. CIVIL GOVERNMENT IS OF DIVINE INSTITUTION; IT IS AN ORDINANCE OF GOD. It is not the creature of chance; nor founded in the social compact; or by a sort of conventionality understood between the governed and the governors; but is based on the will of God.
1. Prove this by appeal to reason. God formed mankind with a view to happiness, and civil government is necessary to happiness. There can be no happiness without order, security, freedom. It never has been known that human beings, in any large numbers, have existed for any considerable time without the intervention of governments.
2. Prove this by appeal to Scripture (Romans 13:1-3; 1 Peter 2:1-13). God is not the author of any specific form or mode of government in His Holy Word. In the case of Israel God dictated the special system of political government known as the Theocracy. But in other cases the mode of government is left to the suggestions of human wisdom, the improvements of time, and the claims and requirements of experience and of circumstances.
II. THE DUTIES WHICH SUBJECTS OWE TO THEIR CIVIL GOVERNMENT.
1. Reverence and respect, for conscience' sake, and for the Lord's sake. The language of censure never becomes a subject towards his ruler but under the four following restrictions —
(1) (2) (3) (4) 2. Obedience to the laws. Disobedience to the laws is a sin against the public, and a virtual attack upon the social character of man. 3. Our proportion of contribution to the exigencies of the State. 4. We owe to our rulers to defend and support them in the lawful exercise of their authority. 5. And earnest prayer to God for His blessing upon them. This is the dictate of common benevolence, and is sanctioned and enjoined by a regard to the public welfare. It is the official character of the civil governor that is the ground upon which prayer is claimed for him. The direction of the faculties and talents and influence of the individual must materially interfere with the safety and happiness of the community. We may, therefore, wisely implore God to assist in their counsels those whom, in His providence, He has exalted. (G. Clayton, M. A.)
(2) (3) (4) 2. Obedience to the laws. Disobedience to the laws is a sin against the public, and a virtual attack upon the social character of man. 3. Our proportion of contribution to the exigencies of the State. 4. We owe to our rulers to defend and support them in the lawful exercise of their authority. 5. And earnest prayer to God for His blessing upon them. This is the dictate of common benevolence, and is sanctioned and enjoined by a regard to the public welfare. It is the official character of the civil governor that is the ground upon which prayer is claimed for him. The direction of the faculties and talents and influence of the individual must materially interfere with the safety and happiness of the community. We may, therefore, wisely implore God to assist in their counsels those whom, in His providence, He has exalted. (G. Clayton, M. A.)
(3) (4) 2. Obedience to the laws. Disobedience to the laws is a sin against the public, and a virtual attack upon the social character of man. 3. Our proportion of contribution to the exigencies of the State. 4. We owe to our rulers to defend and support them in the lawful exercise of their authority. 5. And earnest prayer to God for His blessing upon them. This is the dictate of common benevolence, and is sanctioned and enjoined by a regard to the public welfare. It is the official character of the civil governor that is the ground upon which prayer is claimed for him. The direction of the faculties and talents and influence of the individual must materially interfere with the safety and happiness of the community. We may, therefore, wisely implore God to assist in their counsels those whom, in His providence, He has exalted. (G. Clayton, M. A.)
3. Our proportion of contribution to the exigencies of the State. 4. We owe to our rulers to defend and support them in the lawful exercise of their authority. (G. Clayton, M. A.)
3. Our proportion of contribution to the exigencies of the State.
4. We owe to our rulers to defend and support them in the lawful exercise of their authority.
(G. Clayton, M. A.)
1. The speaker. Wisdom personified. Wisdom in itself is perfect only in God. Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. He is called "the Word," which is wisdom manifested in utterance, and issuing in streams of blessings.
2. The gifts. Counsel, or practical wisdom. Sound wisdom, or inward principles. Understanding, shown in refusing the evil and choosing the good. Strength, the gift necessary to complete the other gifts.
3. For whom has the Redeemer these gifts? Generally, for the human race. Specially for kings, and all that are in authority.
II. THE CONNECTION OF OUR LORD WITH THE SOVEREIGNTY OF THE EARTH. The true sovereignty of the whole earth belongs to our Lord Christ. All other power is simply derived from Him.
1. A delegated authority, given by God Himself, in the appointment of kings and rulers.
2. That all earthly crowns must perish — that all earthly sovereigns are mortal. It is incumbent on all sincere Christians on special national occasions to acknowledge with gratitude the hand of Almighty God, and to adorn the Divine providence which superintends all worldly affairs; and let us rest assured that the exercise of almighty power and infinite goodness is combined with that mercy which is so strikingly exhibited throughout the vast range of creation, and which will be abundantly manifested in the realms of unfading glory.
(N. Meeres, B. D.)1. Magistrates cannot rule well without wisdom. They need wisdom in consultation and in execution.
2. Men cannot make good laws without wisdom. In regard of matter or manner.
3. Princes cannot rule well without just laws. Bless God that we live under laws, and are not left to the mere will of men.
(Francis Taylor, B. D.)
I. THE TENDENCY OF CIVIL GOVERNMENT TO PUBLIC REFORMATION, IN WHICH COMMON SAFETY AND HAPPINESS IS SO MANIFESTLY CONCERNED. The very decreeing of justice, or the justice in good and wholesome laws decreed, has a natural and evident tendency to public reformation, with all its implied and consequent advantages. Ill manners have given the occasion to many good laws, which, though they serve to direct and confirm the good, yet are principally designed to correct and reform the bad. It is wrong and weakness to attempt government by mere compulsion. All fit methods of dealing with men must take hold of some principles, allowed or presumed, if not confessed. The great business of good laws will be more effectually to repress the overt acts of those vicious inclinations which so often lead men, in particular cases, contrary to the general dictums of their own deliberate judgment and conscience. See the matter and measure of some of the principal decrees of justice; as —
1. To God; that He be not openly affronted by the denial of His being, neglect of evident duty, and daring commission of notorious sin.
2. To the community; that private interests give way to that of the public.
3. To the magistrate; that all needful defence be provided, with a power sufficient for the asserting of his just authority.
4. To subjects more generally considered. The saving and securing to them those rights and liberties which are due, whether by common reason or the particular reason and fundamental contract.
5. To the poor; that the disabled and destitute be maintained; that the able and willing want not work, nor the idle a spur to labour.
6. To offenders themselves; that the justly obnoxious go not unpunished, nor yet their punishment outweigh the offence.
7. To persons of merit. Honour and other rewards are surely a point of justice due to such. Surely such decrees of justice are a public testimony for virtuous actions, and against the contrary vices. Whilst the preceptive part of such decrees recommends virtuous actions to the understanding, their sanctions of reward and punishment most fitly serve to press them on the will, as powerfully moving those two great springs of human action — hope and fear. The execution of just decrees gives a standing and open confirmation to them, as being the abiding sense of our rulers. They have evidently been well weighed and wisely resolved.
II. THE SON OF GOD, THE REFORMING, SAVING WISDOM, ON WHOM GOVERNMENT DEPENDS. The term "son" is taken from amongst men, and though it cannot exactly agree to Him who is the Son of God, yet certainly intends to lead us to some such apprehensions about Him as may be allowed to our weakness, and will be sufficient for our purpose. The salvation of men is everywhere in Sacred Writ represented as the great design and business of this Wisdom, which well knows that pride, arrogancy, and the evil way will never comport with the peace and welfare of men either in their single or social capacity. The government of the Son as Mediator is to be founded in redemption, and exercised in a way of reformation. Religion in a degenerate world is but another name for reformation: especially the Christian religion, which was to correct not only the irreligion but also the superstitions of the world. It has been the care of our gracious Redeemer to recover the declining reformation under the happy influence of present governments.
III. THE MORE IMMEDIATE DEPENDENCE OF CIVIL GOVERNMENT ON THE SON OF GOD. True it is that our Saviour's kingdom is not of a secular but spiritual nature: but His subjects are embodied spirits, and have their temporal as well as eternal concernments. Civil government decrees justice —
1. By our Saviour's purchase and procurement.
2. Providential disposal.
3. Counsel and aid.
4. Appointment and authority.
(Joshua Oldfield.)I. THE AUTHORITY OR RIGHT BY WHICH KINGS REIGN. Monarchs and their authority have an acknowledged cause, and that cause external to themselves. All is derived from some other person. The person who speaks in this passage could be no other than the eternal Son of God. When St. John beheld our Lord in the Apocalypse, he saw Him as the fount and origin of government, with many crowns upon His head. Meet it was that the kings of the several quarters of the world should have their being by Him who is King of all the world; that all crowns, both the crown of glory in heaven and the crown of highest glory on earth, should be held of Him. By Christ, the Wisdom of God, and the Son of God, monarchs hold their rule and kingdoms are governed. They reign not by His mere leave, but by His express commission. They reign in Him and by Him. He reigns in them and by them; He in them as His deputies, they in Him as their authoriser; He by their persons, they by His power.
II. THE ACT OF REIGNING. Consider it in three different ways. That they reign at all; that they reign long; that they reign well. Each of these is alike the gift of God. By Him, His co-eternal Word and Wisdom, as by a door, they enter on their reign. By Him, as by a line which He stretches over every government, be it longer or shorter, they hold its continuance. Finally, by Him, as by a rule, they reign; they walk before the Lord their God; consider whom they represent, whose ministers and vicegerents they are. It is duration that constitutes a reign. Now, without any question, this depends on God. When they have begun they may end quickly, if He who create do not also preserve. And so that right reigning, upon which only a continuance of reign is promised. Can we believe that the complicated machinery of government can be preserved if religion be neglected? But our business now is with subjects, not kings. What has been said imposes duty on them. And even as, if princes considered by whom they reign, they would reign better, so also, if subjects remembered the same truth, they would obey better. For it from Him comes the authority, to Him is the duty of allegiance; and we are bound to be subject, not for wrath only, but also for conscience sake. Remember who it is that speaks. He is Christ, and he is called Wisdom. If Christ speaks, disloyalty and disaffection are anti-Christian. If Wisdom speaks, they are folly. Folly in itself, and folly in its consequences. Let Wisdom, then, be still justified in her children.
(G. S. Cornish, M. A.)reges and regnant
) be two as great matters as any be in the world. One, the persons themselves, as they be kings. The other, the act of their reigning, or bearing rule over nations. These two latter words depend on the two former — per me. By and through Him kings were first settled in their reigns. By and through Him ever since upholden in their reigns. By and through Him vouchsafed many miraculous preservations in their reigns.
I. KINGS AND KINGDOMS HAVE THEIR "PER." They are no casualties. There is a cause of a king's reigning. That cause is a person. "By Me"— that is, not man or angel, but God only; God manifest. By Him —
1. Because He was man.
2. Because He is wisdom.
3. Because on Him the Father hath conferred all the kingdoms of the earth.
III. KINGS REIGN. Consider this reigning three ways.
1. As it hath a beginning.
2. As it hath continuance.
3. As it hath rectitude or obliquity incident to every act.These three are duly set on every king's head through all the story of the Bible. Such a king is said to have been so many years old when he began to reign. He reigned in Jerusalem, or Samaria, so many years. And he reigned well or ill.
(Bp. Lancelot Andrewes.)
I. DETERMINES THE DESTINY OF RULERS.
1. It inspires all the good actions of kings.
2. It controls all the bad actions of kings.
II. HAS A SPECIAL REGARD FOR THE GOOD. Divine wisdom has heart as well as intellect; it glows with sympathies as well as radiates with counsels.
III. HAS THE DISTRIBUTION OF THE CHOICEST BLESSINGS FOR MANKIND.
(David Thomas, D. D.)
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