Matthew Henry Complete CommentaryProverbs 14
on the Whole Bible
1 Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh
it down with her hands.
1. A good wife is a great blessing to a family. By a fruitful wife a
family is multiplied and replenished with children, and so built up.
But by a prudent wife, one that is pious, industrious, and considerate,
the affairs of the family are made to prosper, debts are paid, portions
raised, provision made, the children well educated and maintained, and
the family has comfort within doors and credit without; thus is the
house built. She looks upon it as her own to take care of, though she
knows it is her husband's to bear rule in,
2. Many a family is brought to ruin by ill housewifery, as well as by
ill husbandry. A foolish woman, that has no fear of God nor
regard to her business, that is wilful, and wasteful, and humoursome,
that indulges her ease and appetite, and is all for jaunting and
feasting, cards and the play-house, though she come to a plentiful
estate, and to a family beforehand, she will impoverish and waste it,
and will as certainly be the ruin of her house as if she plucked it
down with her hands; and the husband himself, with all his care,
can scarcely prevent it.
2 He that walketh in his uprightness feareth the LORD: but he
that is perverse in his ways despiseth him.
1. Grace and sin in their true colours. Grace reigning is a reverence
of God, and gives honour to him who is infinitely great and high, and
to whom all honour is due, than which what is more becoming or should
be more pleasing to the rational creature? Sin reigning is no less than
a contempt of God. In this, more than in any thing, sin appears
exceedingly sinful, that it despises God, whom angels adore. Those that
despise God's precepts, and will not be ruled by them, his promises,
and will not accept of them, despise God himself and all his
2. Grace and sin in their true light. By this we may know a man that
has grace, and the fear of God, reigning in him, he walks in his
uprightness, he makes conscience of his actions, is faithful both
to God and man, and every stop he makes, as well as every step he
takes, is by rule; here is one that honours God. But, on the contrary,
he that is perverse in his ways, that wilfully follows his own
appetites and passions, that is unjust and dishonest and contradicts
his profession in his conversation, however he may pretend to devotion,
he is a wicked man, and will be reckoned with as a despiser of God
3 In the mouth of the foolish is a rod of pride: but the lips
of the wise shall preserve them.
1. A proud fool exposing himself. Where there is pride in the heart,
and no wisdom in the head to suppress it, it commonly shows itself in
the words: In the mouth there is pride, proud boasting, proud
censuring, proud scorning, proud commanding and giving law; this is the
rod, or branch, of pride; the word is used only here and
It grows from that root of bitterness which is in the heart; it is a
rod from that stem. The root must be plucked up, or we cannot conquer
this branch, or it is meant of a smiting beating rod, a rod of
pride which strikes others. The proud man with his tongue lays
about him and deals blows at pleasure, but it will in the end be a rod
to himself; the proud man shall come under an ignominious correction by
the words of his own mouth, not cut as a soldier, but caned as a
servant; and herein he will be beaten with his own rod,
2. A humble wise man saving himself and consulting his own good: The
lips of the wise shall preserve them from doing that mischief to
others which proud men do with their tongues, and from bringing that
mischief on themselves which haughty scorners are often involved
4 Where no oxen are, the crib is clean: but much increase
is by the strength of the ox.
1. The neglect of husbandry is the way to poverty: Where no oxen
are, to till the ground and tread out the corn, the crib is
empty, is clean; there is no straw for the cattle, and
consequently no bread for the service of man. Scarcity is represented
by cleanness of teeth,
Where no oxen are there is nothing to be done at the ground, and
then nothing to be had out of it; the crib indeed is
clean from dung, which pleases the neat and nice, that cannot
endure husbandry because there is so much dirty work in it, and
therefore will sell their oxen to keep the crib clean; but then not
only the labour, but even the dung of the ox is wanted. This shows the
folly of those who addict themselves to the pleasures of the country,
but do not mind the business of it, who (as we say) keep more horses
than kine, more dogs than swine; their families must needs suffer by
2. Those who take pains about their ground are likely to reap the
profit of it. Those who keep that about them which is for use and
service, not for state and show, more husbandmen than footmen, are
likely to thrive. Much increase is by the strength of the ox;
that is made for our service, and is profitable alive and dead.
5 A faithful witness will not lie: but a false witness will
In the administration of justice much depends upon the witnesses, and
therefore it is necessary to the common good that witnesses be
principled as they ought to be; for,
1. A witness that is conscientious will not dare to give in a testimony
that is in the least untrue, nor, for good-will or ill-will, represent
a thing otherwise than according to the best of his knowledge, whoever
is pleased or displeased, and then judgment runs down like a river.
2. But a witness that will be bribed, and biassed, and browbeaten,
will utter lies (and not stick nor startle at it), with as much
readiness and assurance as if what he said were all true.
6 A scorner seeketh wisdom, and findeth it not: but knowledge
is easy unto him that understandeth.
1. The reason why some people seek wisdom, and do not find it, is
because they do not seek it from a right principle and in a right
manner. They are scorners, and it is in scorn that they ask
instruction, that they may ridicule what is told them and may cavil at
it. Many put questions to Christ, tempting him, and that they might
have whereof to accuse him, but they were never the wiser. No marvel if
those who seek wisdom, as Simon Magus sought the gifts of the Holy
Ghost, to serve their pride and covetousness, do not find it, for they
seek amiss. Herod desired to see a miracle, but he was a scorner, and
therefore it was denied him,
Scorners speed not in prayer.
2. To those who understand aright, who depart from evil (for
that is understanding), the knowledge of God and of his
will is easy. The parables which harden scorners in their
scorning, and make divine things more difficult to them, enlighten
those who are willing to learn, and make the same things more plain,
and intelligible, and familiar to them,
The same word which to the scornful is a savour of death unto
death to the humble and serious is a savour of life unto
life. He that understands, so as to depart from evil
(for that is understanding), to quit his prejudices, to lay
aside all corrupt dispositions and affections, will easily apprehend
instruction and receive the impressions of it.
7 Go from the presence of a foolish man, when thou perceivest
not in him the lips of knowledge.
1. How we may discern a fool and discover him, a wicked man, for he is
a foolish man. If we perceive not in him the lips of
knowledge, if we find there is no relish or savour of piety in his
discourse, that his communication is all corrupt and corrupting, and
nothing in it good and to the use of edifying, we may conclude
the treasure is bad.
2. How we must decline such a one and depart from him: Go from his
presence, for thou perceivest there is no good to be gotten
by his company, but danger of getting hurt by it. Sometimes the only
way we have of reproving wicked discourse and witnessing against it is
by leaving the company and going out of the hearing of it.
8 The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way: but the
folly of fools is deceit.
1. The good conduct of a wise and good man; he manages himself well. It
is not the wisdom of the learned, which consists only in speculation,
that is here recommended, but the wisdom of the prudent, which
is practical, and is of use to direct our counsels and actions.
Christian prudence consists in a right understanding of our way;
for we are travellers, whose concern it is, not to spy wonders, but to
get forward towards their journey's end. It is to understand our own
way, not to be critics and busybodies in other men's matters, but
to look well to ourselves and ponder the path of our feet, to
understand the directions of our way, that we may observe them, the
dangers of our way, that we may avoid them, the difficulties of our
way, that we may break through them, and the advantages of our way,
that we may improve them--to understand the rules we are to walk by and
the ends we are to walk towards, and walk accordingly.
2. The bad conduct of a bad man; he puts a cheat upon himself. He does
not rightly understand his way; he thinks he does, and so misses his
way, and goes on in his mistake: The folly of fools is deceit;
it cheats them into their own ruin. The folly of him that built on the
sand was deceit.
9 Fools make a mock at sin: but among the righteous there is
1. How wicked people are hardened in their wickedness: they make a
mock at sin. They make a laughing matter of the sins of others,
making themselves and their companions merry with that for which they
should mourn, and they make a light matter of their own sins, both when
they are tempted to sin and when they have committed it; they call
evil good and good evil
turn it off with a jest, rush into sin
and say they shall have peace though they go on. They care not what
mischief they do by their sins, and laugh at those that tell them of
it. They are advocates for sin, and are ingenious at framing excuses
for it. Fools make a mock at the sin-offering (so some); those
that make light of sin make light of Christ. Those are fools that make
light of sin, for they make light of that which God complains of
which lay heavily upon Christ, and which they themselves will have
other thoughts of shortly.
2. How good people are encouraged in their goodness: Among the
righteous there is favour; if they in any thing offend, they
presently repent and obtain the favour of God. They have a goodwill
one to another; and among them, in their societies, there is mutual
charity and compassion in cases of offences, and no mocking.
10 The heart knoweth his own bitterness; and a stranger doth
not intermeddle with his joy.
This agrees with
1 Corinthians 2:11,
What man knows the things of a man, and the changes of his
temper, save the spirit of a man?
1. Every man feels most from his own burden, especially that which is
a burden upon the spirits, for that is commonly concealed and the
sufferer keeps it to himself. We must not censure the griefs of others,
for we know not what they feel; their stroke perhaps is heavier than
2. Many enjoy a secret pleasure, especially in divine consolations,
which others are not aware of, much less are sharers in; and, as the
sorrows of a penitent, so the joys of a believer are such as a
stranger does not intermeddle with and therefore is no competent
11 The house of the wicked shall be overthrown: but the
tabernacle of the upright shall flourish.
1. Sin is the ruin of great families: The house of the wicked,
though built ever so strong and high, shall be overthrown, shall
be brought to poverty and disgrace, and at length be extinct. His hope
for heaven, the house on which he leans, shall not stand, but fail in
the storm; the deluge that comes will sweep it away.
2. Righteousness is the rise and stability even of mean families: Even
the tabernacle of the upright, though movable and despicable as
a tent, shall flourish, in outward prosperity if Infinite Wisdom
see good, at all events in graces and comfort, which are true riches
12 There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end
thereof are the ways of death.
We have here an account of the way and end of a great many self-deluded
1. Their way is seemingly fair: It seems right to themselves;
they please themselves with a fancy that they are as they should be,
that their opinions and practices are good, and such as will bear them
out. The way of ignorance and carelessness, the way of worldliness and
earthly-mindedness, the way of sensuality and flesh-pleasing, seem
right to those that walk in them, much more the way of hypocrisy in
religion, external performances, partial reformations, and blind zeal;
this they imagine will bring them to heaven; they flatter themselves in
their own eyes that all will be well at last.
2. Their end is really fearful, and the more so for their mistake: It
is the ways of death, eternal death; their iniquity will
certainly be their ruin, and they will perish with a lie in their right
hand. Self-deceivers will prove in the end self-destroyers.
13 Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful; and the end of that
mirth is heaviness.
This shows the vanity of carnal mirth, and proves what Solomon said of
laughter, that it is mad; for,
1. There is sadness under it. Sometimes when sinners are under
convictions, or some great trouble, they dissemble their grief by a
forced mirth, and put a good face on it, because they will not seem to
yield: they cry not when he binds them. Nay, when men really are merry,
yet at the same time there is some alloy or other to their mirth,
something that casts a damp upon it, which all their gaiety cannot keep
from their heart. Their consciences tell them they have no reason to be
they cannot but see the vanity of it. Spiritual joy is seated in the
soul; the joy of the hypocrite is but from the teeth outward. See
2. There is worse after it: The end of that mirth is heaviness.
It is soon over, like the crackling of thorns under a pot; and, if the
conscience be awake, all sinful and profane mirth will be reflected
upon with bitterness; if not, the heaviness will be so much the greater
when for all these things God shall bring the sinner into
judgment. The sorrows of the saints will end in everlasting joys
but the laughter of fools will end in endless weeping and wailing.
|The Righteous and the Wicked Contrasted.
14 The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways:
and a good man shall be satisfied from himself.
1. The misery of sinners will be an eternal surfeit upon their sins:
The backslider in heart, who for fear of suffering, or in hope
of profit or pleasure, forsakes God and his duty, shall be filled
with his own ways; God will give him enough of them. They would not
leave their brutish lusts and passions, and therefore they shall stick
by them, to their everlasting terror and torment. He that is filthy
shall be filthy still. "Son, remember," shall fill them with
their own ways, and set their sins in order before them.
Backsliding begins in the heart; it is the evil heart of unbelief that
departs from God; and of all sinners backsliders will have most terror
when they reflect on their own ways,
2. The happiness of the saints will be an eternal satisfaction in their
graces, as tokens of and qualifications for God's peculiar favour: A
good man shall be abundantly satisfied from himself, from
what God has wrought in him. He has rejoicing in himself alone,
As sinners never think they have sin enough till it brings them to
hell, so saints never think they have grace enough till it brings them
15 The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man
looketh well to his going.
1. It is folly to be credulous, to heed every flying report, to give
ear to every man's story, though ever so improbable, to take things
upon trust from common fame, to depend upon every man's profession of
friendship and give credit to every one that will promise payment;
those are simple who thus believe every word, forgetting
that all men, in some sense, are liars in comparison with God, all
whose words we are to believe with an implicit faith, for he cannot
2. It is wisdom to be cautious: The prudent man will try before
he trusts, will weigh both the credibility of the witness and the
probability of the testimony, and then give judgment as the thing
appears or suspend his judgment till it appears. Prove all
things, and believe not every spirit.
16 A wise man feareth, and departeth from evil: but the fool
rageth, and is confident.
1. Holy fear is an excellent guard upon every holy thing, and against
every thing that is unholy. It is wisdom to depart from evil,
from the evil of sin, and thereby from all other evil; and therefore it
is wisdom to fear, that is, to be jealous over ourselves with a godly
jealousy, to keep up a dread of God's wrath, to be afraid of coming
near the borders of sin or dallying with the beginnings of it. A wise
man, for fear of harm, keeps out of harm's way, and starts back in a
fright when he finds himself entering into temptation.
2. Presumption is folly. He who, when he is warned of his danger,
rages and is confident, furiously pushes on, cannot bear to be
checked, bids defiance to the wrath and curse of God, and, fearless of
danger, persists in his rebellion, makes bold with the occasions of
sin, and plays upon the precipice, he is a fool, for he acts against
his reason and his interest, and his ruin will quickly be the proof of
17 He that is soon angry dealeth foolishly: and a man of
wicked devices is hated.
1. Passionate men are justly laughed at. Men who are peevish and
touchy, and are soon angry upon every the least provocation,
deal foolishly; they say and do that which is ridiculous, and so
expose themselves to contempt; they themselves cannot but be ashamed of
it when the heat is over. The consideration of this should engage those
especially who are in reputation for wisdom and honour with the utmost
care to bridle their passion.
2. Malicious men are justly dreaded and detested, for they are much
more dangerous and mischievous to all societies: A man of wicked
devices, who stifles his resentments till he has an opportunity of
being revenged, and is secretly plotting how to wrong his neighbour and
to do him an ill turn, as Cain to kill Abel, such a man as this is
hated by all mankind. The character of an angry man is pitiable;
through the surprise of a temptation he disturbs and disgraces himself,
but it is soon over, and he is sorry for it. But that of a spiteful
revengeful man is odious; there is no fence against him nor cure for
18 The simple inherit folly: but the prudent are crowned with
1. Sin is the shame of sinners: The simple, who love simplicity,
get nothing by it; they inherit folly. They have it by
inheritance, so some. This corruption of nature is derived from our
first parents, and all the calamities that attend it we have by kind;
it was the inheritance they transmitted to their degenerate race, an
hereditary disease. They are as fond of it as a man of his inheritance,
hold it as fast, and are as loth to part with it. What they value
themselves upon is really foolish; and what will be the issue of their
simplicity but folly? They will for ever rue their own foolish choice.
2. Wisdom is the honour of the wise: The prudent crown
themselves with knowledge, they look upon it as their brightest
ornament, and there is nothing they are so ambitious of; they bind it
to their heads as a crown, which they will by no means part with; they
press towards the top and perfection of knowledge, which will crown
their beginnings and progress. They shall have the praise of it; wise
heads shall be respected as if they were crowned heads. They crown
knowledge (so some read it); they are a credit to their profession.
Wisdom is not only justified, but glorified, of all her children.
19 The evil bow before the good; and the wicked at the gates of
1. The wicked are oftentimes impoverished and brought low, so that they
are forced to beg, their wickedness having reduced them to straits;
while good men, by the blessing of God, are enriched, and enabled to
give, and do give, even to the evil; for where God grants life we must
not deny a livelihood.
2. Sometimes God extorts, even from bad men, an acknowledgement of the
excellency of God's people. The evil ought always to bow before the
good, and sometimes they are made to do it and to know that God
has loved them,
They desire their favour
2 Kings 3:12.
3. There is a day coming when the upright shall have the dominion
when the foolish virgins shall come begging to the wise for oil, and
shall knock in vain at that gate of the Lord at which the righteous
20 The poor is hated even of his own neighbour: but the rich
hath many friends.
This shows, not what should be, but what is the common way of the
world--to be shy of the poor and fond of the rich.
1. Few will give countenance to those whom the world frowns upon,
though otherwise worthy of respect: The poor, who should be
pitied, and encouraged, and relieved, is hated, looked strange
upon, and kept at a distance, even by his own neighbour, who,
before he fell into disgrace, was intimate with him and pretended to
have a kindness for him. Most are swallow-friends, that are gone in
winter. It is good having God our friend, for he will not desert us
when we are poor.
2. Every one will make court to those whom the world smiles upon,
though otherwise unworthy: The rich have many friends, friends
to their riches, in hope to get something out of them. There is little
friendship in the world but what is governed by self-interest, which is
no true friendship at all, nor what a wise man will either value
himself on or put any confidence in. Those that make the world their
God idolize those that have most of its good things, and seek their
favour as if indeed they were Heaven's favourites.
21 He that despiseth his neighbour sinneth: but he that hath
mercy on the poor, happy is he.
See here how men's character and condition are measured and judged of
by their conduct towards their poor neighbours.
1. Those that look upon them with contempt have here assigned them a
bad character, and their condition will be accordingly: He that
despises his neighbour because he is low in the world, because he
is of a mean extraction, rustic education, and makes but a mean figure,
that thinks it below him to take notice of him, converse with him, or
concern himself about him, and sets him with the dogs of his flock,
is a sinner, is guilty of a sin, is in the way to worse, and
shall be dealt with as a sinner; unhappy is he.
2. Those that look upon them with compassion are here said to be in a
good condition, according to their character: He that has mercy on
the poor, is ready to do all the good offices he can to him, and
thereby puts an honour upon him, happy is he; he does that which
is pleasing to God, which he himself will afterwards reflect upon with
great satisfaction, for which the loins of the poor will bless him, and
which will be abundantly recompensed in the resurrection of the
22 Do they not err that devise evil? but mercy and truth shall
be to them that devise good.
1. How miserably mistaken those are that not only do evil, but devise
it: Do they not err? Yes, certainly they do; every one knows it.
They think that by sinning with craft and contrivance, and carrying on
their intrigues with more plot and artifice than others, they shall
make a better hand of their sins than others do, and come off better.
But they are mistaken. God's justice cannot be out-witted. Those that
devise evil against their neighbours greatly err, for it will certainly
turn upon themselves and end in their own ruin, a fatal error!
2. How wisely those consult their own interest that not only do good
but devise it: Mercy and truth shall be to them, not a reward of
debt (they will own that they merit nothing), but a reward of mercy,
mere mercy, mercy according to the promise, mercy and truth, to which
God is pleased to make himself a debtor. Those that are so liberal as
to devise liberal things, that seek opportunities of doing good, and
contrive how to make their charity most extensive and most acceptable
to those that need it, by liberal things they shall stand,
23 In all labour there is profit: but the talk of the lips
tendeth only to penury.
1. Working, without talking, will make men rich: In all labour
of the head, or of the hand, there is profit; it will turn to
some good account or other. Industrious people are generally thriving
people, and where there is something done there is something to be had.
The stirring hand gets a penny. It is good therefore to keep in
business, and to keep in action, and what our hand finds to do to do it
with all our might.
2. Talking, without working, will make men poor. Those that love to
boast of their business and make a noise about it, and that waste their
time in tittle-tattle, in telling and hearing new things, like the
Athenians, and, under pretence of improving themselves by conversation,
neglect the work of their place and day, they waste what they have, and
the course they take tends to penury, and will end in it. It is
true in the affairs of our souls; those that take pains in the service
of God, that strive earnestly in prayer, will find profit in it. But if
men's religion runs all out in talk and noise, and their praying is
only the labour of the lips, they will be spiritually poor, and come to
24 The crown of the wise is their riches: but the
foolishness of fools is folly.
1. If men be wise and good, riches make them so much the more
honourable and useful: The crown of the wise is their riches;
their riches make them to be so much the more respected, and give them
the more authority and influence upon others. Those that have wealth,
and wisdom to use it, will have a great opportunity of honouring God
and doing good in the world. Wisdom is good without an
inheritance, but better with it.
2. If men be wicked and corrupt, their wealth will but the more expose
them: The foolishness of fools, put them in what condition you
will, is folly, and will show itself and shame them; if they
have riches, they do mischief with them and are the more hardened in
their foolish practices.
25 A true witness delivereth souls: but a deceitful witness
1. How much praise is due to a faithful witness: He delivers the
souls of the innocent, who are falsely accused, and their good
names, which are as dear to them as their lives. A man of integrity
will venture the displeasure of the greatest, to bring truth to light
and rescue those who are injured by falsehood. A faithful minister, who
truly witnesses for God against sin, is thereby instrumental to deliver
souls from eternal death.
2. How little regard is to be had to a false witness. He forges
lies, and yet pours them out with the greatest assurance
imaginable for the destruction of the innocent. It is therefore the
interest of a nation by all means possible to detect and punish
false-witness-bearing, yea, and lying in common conversation; for truth
is the cement of society.
26 In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence: and his
children shall have a place of refuge.
27 The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to depart from
the snares of death.
In these two verses we are invited and encouraged to live in the fear
of God by the advantages which attend a religious life. The fear of
the Lord is here put for all gracious principles, producing
1. Where this reigns it produces a holy security and serenity of mind.
There is in it a strong confidence; it enables a man still to
hold fast both his purity and his peace, whatever happens, and gives
him boldness before God and the world. I know that I shall be
justified--None of these things move me; such is the language of
2. It entails a blessing upon posterity. The children of those that by
faith make God their confidence shall be encouraged by the promise that
God will be a God to believers and to their seed to flee to him as
their refuge, and they shall find shelter in him. The children of
religious parents often do the better for their parents' instructions
and example and fare the better for their faith and prayers. "Our
fathers trusted in thee, therefore we will."
3. It is an over-flowing ever-flowing spring of comfort and joy; it is
a fountain of life, yielding constant pleasure and satisfaction
to the soul, joys that are pure and fresh, are life to the soul, and
quench its thirst, and can never be drawn dry; it is a well of
living water, that is springing up to, and is the earnest of,
4. It is a sovereign antidote against sin and temptation. Those that
have a true relish of the pleasures of serious godliness will not be
allured by the baits of sin to swallow its hook; they know where to
obtain better things than any it can pretend to offer, and therefore it
is easy to them to depart from the snares of death and to keep
their foot from being taken in them.
28 In the multitude of people is the king's honour: but in
the want of people is the destruction of the prince.
Here are two maxims in politics, which carry their own evidence with
1. That it is much for the honour of a king to have a populous kingdom;
it is a sign that he rules well, since strangers are hereby invited to
come and settle under his protection and his own subjects live
comfortably; it is a sign that he and his kingdom are under the
blessing of God, the effect of which is being fruitful and multiplying.
It is his strength, and makes him considerable and formidable; happy is
the king, the father of his country, who has his quiver full of
arrows; he shall not be ashamed, but shall speak with his enemy
in the gate,
It is therefore the wisdom of princes, by a mild and gentle government,
by encouraging trade and husbandry, and by making all easy under them,
to promote the increase of their people. And let all that wish well to
the kingdom of Christ, and to his honour, do what they can in their
places that many may be added to his church.
2. That when the people are lessened the prince is weakened: In the
want of people is the leanness of the prince (so some read it);
trade lies dead, the ground lies untilled, the army wants to be
recruited, the navy to be manned, and all because there are not hands
sufficient. See how much the honour and safety of kings depend upon
their people, which is a reason why they should rule by love, and not
with rigour. Princes are corrected by those judgments which abate the
number of the people, as we find,
2 Samuel 24:13.
29 He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding: but
he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly.
1. Meekness is wisdom. He rightly understands himself, and his
duty and interest, the infirmities of human nature, and the
constitution of human society, who is slow to anger, and knows
how to excuse the faults of others as well as his own, how to adjourn
his resentments, and moderate them, so as by no provocation to be put
out of the possession of his own soul. A mild patient man is really to
be accounted an intelligent man, one that learns of Christ, who is
2. Unbridled passion is folly proclaimed: He that is hasty of
spirit, whose heart is tinder to every spark of provocation, that
is all fire and tow, as we say, he thinks hereby to magnify himself and
make those about stand in awe of him, whereas really he exalts his
own folly; he makes it known, as that which is lifted up is visible
to all, and he submits himself to it as to the government of one that
30 A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the
rottenness of the bones.
The foregoing verse showed how much our reputation, this how much our
health, depends on the good government of our passions and the
preserving of the temper of the mind.
1. A healing spirit, made up of love and meekness, a hearty, friendly,
cheerful disposition, is the life of the flesh; it contributes
to a good constitution of body; people grow fat with good humour.
2. A fretful, envious, discontented spirit, is its own punishment; it
consumes the flesh, preys upon the animal spirits, makes the
countenance pale, and is the rottenness of the bones. Those that
see the prosperity of others and are grieved, let them gnash with
their teeth and melt away,
|Rumpatur, quisquis rumpitur invidia.
Whoever bursts for envy, let him burst.
31 He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker: but he
that honoureth him hath mercy on the poor.
God is here pleased to interest himself more than one would imagine in
the treatment given to the poor.
1. He reckons himself affronted in the injuries that are done them.
Whosoever he be that wrongs a poor man, taking advantage against him
because he is poor and cannot help himself, let him know that he puts
an affront upon his Maker. God made him, and gave him his being, the
same that is the author of our being; we have all one Father, one
Maker; see how Job considered this,
God made him poor, and appointed him his lot, so that, if we deal
hardly with any because they are poor, we reflect upon God as dealing
hardly with them in laying them low, that they might be trampled upon.
2. He reckons himself honoured in the kindnesses that are done them; he
takes them as done to himself, and will show himself accordingly
pleased with them. I was hungry, and you gave me meat. Those
therefore that have any true honour for God will show it by compassion
to the poor, whom he has undertaken in a special manner to protect and
32 The wicked is driven away in his wickedness: but the
righteous hath hope in his death.
1. The desperate condition of a wicked man when he goes out of the
world: He is driven away in his wickedness. He cleaves so
closely to the world that he cannot find in his heart to leave it, but
is driven away out of it; his soul is required, is forced from him, And
sin cleaves so closely to him that it is inseparable; it goes with him
into another world; he is driven away in his wickedness, dies in
his sins, under the guilt and power of them, unjustified, unsanctified.
His wickedness is the storm in which he is hurried away, as chaff
before the wind, chased out of the world.
2. The comfortable condition of a godly man when he finishes his
course: He has hope in his death of a happiness on the other
side death, of better things in another world than ever he had in this.
The righteous then have the grace of hope in them; though they
have pain, and some dread of death, yet they have hope. They have
before them the good hoped for, even the blessed hope which God, who
cannot lie, has promised.
33 Wisdom resteth in the heart of him that hath understanding:
but that which is in the midst of fools is made known.
1. Modesty is the badge of wisdom. He that is truly wise hides his
treasure, so as not to boast of it
though he does not hide his talent, so as not to trade with it. His
wisdom rests in his heart; he digests what he knows, and has it
ready to him, but does not unseasonably talk of it and make a noise
with it. The heart is the seat of the affections, and there wisdom must
rest in the practical love of it, and not swim in the head.
2. Openness and ostentation are a mark of folly. If fools have a little
smattering of knowledge, they take all occasions, though very foreign,
to produce it, and bring it in by head and shoulders. Or the folly that
is in the midst of fools is made known by their forwardness to
talk. Many a foolish man takes more pains to show his folly than a wise
man thinks it worth his while to take to show his wisdom.
34 Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to
1. Justice, reigning in a nation, puts an honour upon it. A righteous
administration of the government, impartial equity between man and man,
public countenance given to religion, the general practice and
profession of virtue, the protecting and preserving of virtuous men,
charity and compassion to strangers (alms are sometimes called
righteousness), these exalt a nation; they uphold the
throne, elevate the people's minds, and qualify a nation for the favour
of God, which will make them high, as a holy nation,
2. Vice, reigning in a nation, puts disgrace upon it: Sin is a
reproach to any city or kingdom, and renders them despicable among
their neighbours. The people of Israel were often instances of both
parts of this observation; they were great when they were good, but
when they forsook God all about them insulted them and trampled on
them. It is therefore the interest and duty of princes to use their
power for the suppression of vice and support of virtue.
35 The king's favour is toward a wise servant: but his wrath
is against him that causeth shame.
This shows that in a well-ordered court and government smiles and
favours are dispensed among those that are employed in public trusts
according to their merits; Solomon lets them know he will go by that
1. That those who behave themselves wisely shall be respected and
preferred, whatever enemies they may have that seek to undermine them.
No man's services shall be neglected to please a party or a favourite.
2. That those who are selfish and false, who betray their country,
oppress the poor, and sow discord, and thus cause shame, shall
be displaced and banished the court, whatever friends they may make to
speak for them.