|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.
Verses 8-11. - Section 13. Various proverbs expressing the benefit of prudence and caution, and the danger of folly. The connection with what has preceded is not closely marked, but is probably to be found in the bearing of the maxims on the conduct of the wise man who has incurred the resentment of a ruler, and might be inclined to disaffection and revolt. They are intentionally obscure and capable of a double sense - a necessary precaution if the writer lived under Persian despots. Verse 8. - He that diggeth a pit shall fall into it. This proverb occurs in Proverbs 26:27, and, as expressive of the retribution that awaits evil-doers, finds parallels in Psalm 7:15, 16; Psalm 9:15; Psalm 10:2; Ecclus. 27:25, 26. The" pit" (gummats, ἅπαξ λεγόμενον) is such a one as was made to capture wild animals, and the maker of it is supposed to approach it incautiously, and to fall into it. But the scope of our passage is rather to speak of what may possibly occur than to insist on the Nemesis that inevitably overtakes transgressors. Its object is to inspire caution in the prosecution of dangerous undertakings, whether the enterprise be the overthrow of a tyrant, or any other action of importance, or whether, as some suppose, the arraignment of the providential ordering of events is intended, in which ease there would be the danger of blasphemy and impatience. And whoso breaketh a hedge, a serpent shall bite him. The futures throughout vers. 8 and 9 are not intended to express certainty, as if the results mentioned were inevitable, but rather possibility, and might be rendered, with Delitzsch, "may fall," "may bite," etc. The "hedge" is rather a wall (Proverbs 24:31), in the crevices of which poisonous snakes have made their abode, which are disturbed by its demolition (comp. Ames 5:19). Nachash, here used, is the generic name of any serpent. The majority of the snakes found in Palestine are harmless; but there are some which are very deadly, especially the cobra and those which belong to the viper family. There is no allusion here to the illegal removal of landmarks, a proceeding which might be supposed to provoke retribution; the hedge or wail is one which the demolisher is justified in removing, only in doing so he must look out for certain contingencies, and guard against them. Metaphorically, the pulling down a wall may refer to the removal of evil institutions in a state, which involves the reformer in many difficulties and perils.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
He that diggeth a pit shall fall into it,.... This and the three following clauses are proverbial expressions, teaching men to be wise and cautious, lest by their conduct they bring mischief upon themselves; as it often is, the one that digs a pit for another, falls into it himself, as the wise man's father before him had observed, Psalm 7:15; as kings that lay snares for their people, and subjects that plot against their sovereign; or courtiers that form schemes for the rain of those that are in their way; or any man that devises mischief against another, frequently so it is, that the same befalls them; as Haman, who prepared a gallows for Mordecai, was hanged on it himself;
and whoso breaketh an hedge a serpent shall bite him; which often lies hid in fences, in old walls, and rotten hedges (s), Amos 5:19; so he that breaks down the hedges and fences of kingdoms and commonwealths, and breaks through the fundamental laws of a civil constitution, and especially that transgresses the laws of God, moral or civil, may expect to smart for it. Jarchi interprets this hedge of the sayings of their wise men, which those that transgress shall suffer death by the hand of heaven: but it would be much better to apply it to the doctrines contained in the word of God, which are a hedge and fence to the church of God, and whoever transgress them will suffer for it; see 2 John 1:8; The Targum, by the "serpent", understands an ungodly king, who bites like a serpent, into whose hands such transgressors shall be delivered: and some have thought of the old serpent the devil, as Alshech, who deceived Adam and Eve.
(s) Nicander apud Bochart. Hierozoic. par. 1. l. 1. c. 4. Colossians 26.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
8. The fatal results to kings of such an unwise policy; the wrong done to others recoils on themselves (Ec 8:9); they fall into the pit which they dug for others (Es 7:10; Ps 7:15; Pr 26:27). Breaking through the wise fences of their throne, they suffer unexpectedly themselves; as when one is stung by a serpent lurking in the stones of his neighbor's garden wall (Ps 80:12), which he maliciously pulls down (Am 5:19).
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