|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
10:4-10 Solomon appears to caution men not to seek redress in a hasty manner, nor to yield to pride and revenge. Do not, in a passion, quit thy post of duty; wait awhile, and thou wilt find that yielding pacifies great offences. Men are not preferred according to their merit. And those are often most forward to offer help, who are least aware of the difficulties, or the consequences. The same remark is applied to the church, or the body of Christ, that all the members should have the same care one for another.
Verse 7. - I have seen servants upon horses. A further description of the effect of the tyrant's perversion of equity. Such an allusion could not have been made in Solomon's reign, when the importation of horses was quite a new thing (1 Kings 10:28). Later, to ride upon horses was a distinction of the nobility (Jeremiah 17:25). Thus Amaziah's corpse was brought on horses to be buried in the city of David (2 Chronicles 25:28): Mordecai was honored by being taken round the city on the king's own steed (Esther 6:8, etc.). Princes walking as servants upon the earth. "Princes" (sarim); i.e. masters, lords. Some take the expressions here as figurative, equivalent to "those who are worthy to be princes," and "those who are fit only to be slaves;" but the literal is the true interpretation. Commentators quote what Justin (41:3) says of the Parthians, "Hoc denique discrimen inter serves liberos-que, quod servi pedibus, Liberi non nisi equis iuccdunt." Ginsburg notes that early travelers in the East record the fact that Europeans were not allowed by the Turks to ride upon horses, but were compelled either to use asses or walk on foot. In some places the privilege of riding upon horseback was permitted to the consuls of the great powers - an honor denied to all strangers of lower degree. Among the Greeks and Romans the possession of a horse with its war-trappings implied a certain amount of wealth and distinction. St. Gregory, treating of this passage ('Moral.,' 31:43), says, "By the name horse is understood temporal dignity, as Solomon witnesses .... For every one who sins is the servant of sin, and servants are upon horses, when sinner's are elated with the dignities of the present life. But princes walk as servants, when no honor exalts many who are full of the dignity of virtues, but when the greatest misfortune here presses them down, as though unworthy."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
I have seen servants upon horses,.... Which being scarce in Judea, were only rode upon by princes and great personages, or such as were in affluent circumstances; and therefore it was an unusual and disagreeable sight to see servants upon them, which was a token of their being advanced upon the ruin and destruction of their masters; a reigning servant is not only uncomely, but one of the things by which the earth is disquieted, and it cannot bear, Proverbs 30:21; the Parthians and Persians distinguished their nobles and the vulgar, freemen and servants, by this; the servants went on foot, and the freemen rode on horses (r);
and princes walking as servants upon the earth; degraded from their honour; banished from their thrones and palaces, or obliged to leave them, and reduced to the lowest state and condition: so David, when his son rebelled against him, and he was forced to flee from him, and walk on foot, 2 Samuel 15:30; Alshech thinks it may be a prophecy of the captivity of Israel, when they walked as servants on the earth, and the Gentiles rode on horses.
(r) Justin. e Trogo, l. 41. c. 3. Alex. ab Alex. Genial. Dier. l. 5. c. 19.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
7. servants upon horses—the worthless exalted to dignity (Jer 17:25); and vice versa (2Sa 15:30).
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