Be not thou envious against evil men, neither desire to be with them.
A lesson given before, now combined with another. True followers after wisdom will admit neither envy of evil on the one hand, nor admiration or fellowship with it on the other.
For their heart studieth destruction, and their lips talk of mischief.
Through wisdom is an house builded; and by understanding it is established:
The "house" is figurative of the whole life, the "chambers" of all regions, inward and outward, of it.
And by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches.
A wise man is strong; yea, a man of knowledge increaseth strength.
Is strong - literally, as in the margin; i. e., rooted and established in strength.
For by wise counsel thou shalt make thy war: and in multitude of counsellers there is safety.
Wisdom is too high for a fool: he openeth not his mouth in the gate.
In the gate - Compare the Proverbs 22:22 note.
He that deviseth to do evil shall be called a mischievous person.
The thought of foolishness is sin: and the scorner is an abomination to men.
If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small.
If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain;
"Deliver those that are drawn unto death,
And those who totter to the slaughter - if
Thou withdraw ..."
i. e., "O withdraw them," save them from their doom; in contrast to Proverbs 24:10. The structure and meaning are both somewhat obscure; but the sentence is complete in itself, and is not a mere hypothesis concluded in the following verses.
If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works?
As Proverbs 24:11 warned men against acquiescing in an unrighteous tyranny, so this denounces the tendency to hush up a wrong with the false plea of ignorance. Compare Ecclesiastes 5:8. Proverbs 24:10-12 thus forms a complete and connected whole.
My son, eat thou honey, because it is good; and the honeycomb, which is sweet to thy taste:
Honey entered largely into the diet of Hebrew children Isaiah 7:15, so that it was as natural an emblem for the purest and simplest wisdom, as the "sincere milk of the word" was to the New Testament writers. The learner hears what seems to be a rule of diet - then Proverbs 24:14 the parable is explained.
So shall the knowledge of wisdom be unto thy soul: when thou hast found it, then there shall be a reward, and thy expectation shall not be cut off.
The knowledge of wisdom - Better, Know that thus (like the honey) is wisdom to thy soul.
Lay not wait, O wicked man, against the dwelling of the righteous; spoil not his resting place:
The teaching of the proverb warns men not to attack or plot against the righteous. They will lose their labor, "Though the just man fall (not into sin, but into calamities), yet he riseth up." The point of the teaching is not the liability of good men to err, but God's providential care over them (compare the margin reference). "Seven times" is a certain for an uncertain number (compare Job 5:19). In contrast with this is the fate of the evildoers, who fall utterly even in a single distress.
For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.
Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth:
Lest the LORD see it, and it displease him, and he turn away his wrath from him.
See the margin. The meaning is "Thy joy will be suicidal, the wrath of the righteous Judge will be turned upon thee, as the greater offender, and thou wilt have to bear a worse evil than that which thou exultest in."
Fret not thyself because of evil men, neither be thou envious at the wicked;
For there shall be no reward to the evil man; the candle of the wicked shall be put out.
No reward - literally, "no future," no life worthy to be called life, no blessing.
My son, fear thou the LORD and the king: and meddle not with them that are given to change:
Them that are given to change - Those that seek to set aside the worship of the true God, or the authority of the true king, who represents Him.
For their calamity shall rise suddenly; and who knoweth the ruin of them both?
Both - Those who fear not God, and those who fear not the king.
These things also belong to the wise. It is not good to have respect of persons in judgment.
Belong to the wise - Either "are fitting for the wise, addressed to them," or (as in the superscriptions of many of the Psalms) "are written by the wise." Most recent commentators take it in the latter sense, and look on it as indicating the beginning of a fresh section, containing proverbs not ascribed to Solomon's authorship. Compare the introduction to Proverbs.
He that saith unto the wicked, Thou art righteous; him shall the people curse, nations shall abhor him:
But to them that rebuke him shall be delight, and a good blessing shall come upon them.
There is no surer path to popularity than a righteous severity in punishing guilt.
Every man shall kiss his lips that giveth a right answer.
Better, He shall kiss lips that giveth a right answer, i. e., he shall gain the hearts of men as much as by all outward signs of sympathy and favor. Compare 2 Samuel 15:1-6.
Prepare thy work without, and make it fit for thyself in the field; and afterwards build thine house.
i. e., Get an estate into good order before erecting a house on it. To "build a house" may, however, be equivalent (compare Exodus 1:21; Deuteronomy 25:9; Ruth 4:11) to "founding a family;" and the words a warning against a hasty and imprudent marriage. The young man is taught to cultivate his land before he has to bear the burdens of a family. Further, in a spiritual sense, the "field" may be the man's outer common work, the "house" the dwelling-place of his higher life. He must do the former faithfully in order to attain the latter. Neglect in one is fatal to the other. Compare Luke 16:10-11.
Be not a witness against thy neighbour without cause; and deceive not with thy lips.
Deceive not with thy lips - Better, wilt thou deceive with thy lips?
Say not, I will do so to him as he hath done to me: I will render to the man according to his work.
A protest against vindictiveness in every form. Compare marginal reference.
I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding;
The chapter ends with an apologue, which may be taken as a parable of something yet deeper. The field and the vineyard are more than the man's earthly possessions. His neglect brings barrenness or desolation to the garden of the soul. The "thorns" are evil habits that choke the good seed, and the "nettles" are those that are actually hurtful and offensive to others. The "wall" is the defense which laws and rules give to the inward life, and which the sluggard learns to disregard, and the "poverty" is the loss of the true riches of the soul, tranquility, and peace, and righteousness.
And, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down.
Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked upon it, and received instruction.
Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep:
See the Proverbs 6:11 note.
So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth; and thy want as an armed man.