|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
12:16. A foolish man is soon angry, and is hasty in expressing it; he is ever in trouble and running into mischief. It is kindness to ourselves to make light of injuries and affronts, instead of making the worst of them. 17. It is good for all to dread and detest the sin of lying, and to be governed by honesty. 18. Whisperings and evil surmises, like a sword, separate those that have been dear to each other. The tongue of the wise is health, making all whole. 19. If truth be spoken, it will hold good; whoever may be disobliged, still it will keep its ground. 20. Deceit and falsehood bring terrors and perplexities. But those who consult the peace and happiness of others have joy in their own minds. 21. If men are sincerely righteous, the righteous God has engaged that no evil shall happen to them. But they that delight in mischief shall have enough of it. 22. Make conscience of truth, not only in words, but in actions. 23. Foolish men proclaim to all the folly and emptiness of their minds. 24. Those who will not take pains in an honest calling, living by tricks and dishonesty, are paltry and beggarly. 25. Care, fear, and sorrow, upon the spirits, deprive men of vigour in what is to be done, or courage in what is to be borne. A good word from God, applied by faith, makes the heart glad. 26. The righteous is abundant; though not in this world's goods, yet in the graces and comforts of the Spirit, which are the true riches. Evil men vainly flatter themselves that their ways are not wrong. 27. The slothful man makes no good use of the advantages Providence puts in his way, and has no comfort in them. The substance of a diligent man, though not great, does good to him and his family. He sees that God gives it to him in answer to prayer. 28. The way of religion is a straight, plain way; it is the way of righteousness. There is not only life at the end, but life in the way; all true comfort.
Verse 26. - The righteous is more excellent than his neighbour. This rendering has the authority of the Chaldee, and would signify that a good man is superior to others morally and socially, is more respected and stands higher, though his worldly position be inferior. But the clause is better translated, The just man is a guide to his neighbour, directs him in the right way; as the Syriac puts it, "gives good counsel to his friend." Septuagint, "The righteous wise man (ἐπιγνώμων) will be a friend to himself;" Vulgate, "He who regards not loss for a friend's sake is righteous," which is like Christ's word, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13). Hitzig, Delitzsch, and others, reading differently, translate, "A just man spieth out (or, looketh after) his pasture; i.e. he is not like the sinner, hampered and confined by the chain of evil habits and associations, but is free to follow the lead of virtue, and to go whither duty and his own best interests call him. This gives a very good sense, and makes a forcible antithesis with the succeeding clause. But the way of the wicked seduceth them; "causes them, the wicked, to err." Far from guiding others aright, the wicked, reaping the moral consequences of their sin, drift hopelessly astray themselves. Before the last clause some manuscripts of the Septuagint add, "But the judgments of the wicked are harsh; evils shall pursue sinners" (Proverbs 13:21). The whole is probably a gloss.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
The righteous is more excellent than his neighbour,.... Not than his neighbour who is righteous also; for though one may have more excellent gifts than another, or a larger measure of grace; one righteous man may have more faith than another, yet not more righteousness; every truly righteous man is justified by the same righteousness, even the righteousness of Christ; and therefore one cannot be more excellent, considered as righteous: but the righteous is more excellent than his neighbour, who is ungodly and unrighteous, or however who has no other righteousness than his own; though his neighbour may be of more noble birth, and have even the title of "his excellency" given him; though he may have a larger share of wealth and riches; and though he may have attained a greater degree of natural wisdom and understanding, be a man of brighter parts, and of a larger capacity; yet, being righteous, he is more excellent than he: his superior excellency lies in his righteousness, from whence he is denominated; the righteousness of Christ, imputed to him, is far better than the best righteousness of his neighbour; it being the righteousness of God, his is the righteousness of a creature; a perfect righteousness, whereas his is imperfect; a splendid and glorious one, his filthy rags; a very extensive one, by which all the seed of Israel are justified, his such as not one individual person can be justified by it; an everlasting one, that will answer for him that has it in a time to come, his like the morning cloud and early dew that passes away; yea, the inherent righteousness of a righteous man, or the grace of Christ, imparted to him and implanted in him, that principle of holiness in him is greatly better than the righteousness of his neighbour a Pharisee; for this is true and real holiness, truth in the inward part, whereas the other's is only a shadow of holiness, a form of godliness without the power; this has the Spirit of God for its author, it is his workmanship, and a curious piece it is, whereas the other is only the produce of nature; this makes a man all glorious within, and gives him a meetness for heaven, whereas, notwithstanding the other, the man is inwardly full of all manner of iniquity, and has neither a right nor meetness for eternal glory. Nay, the external works of righteousness done by a truly righteous man are preferable to his neighbour's, destitute of the grace of God; the one being a course of obedience to the will of God, and a respect to all his commandments; when the other consists only of a little negative holiness, and of an observance of a few rituals of religion: the one spring from a heart purified by the blood of Christ, and the grace of the Spirit, and from principles of grace and love, and are done to the glory of God; whereas the other do not arise from a pure heart, and faith unfeigned; nor are they done sincerely, with a view to the glory of God: only to be seen of men, and gain credit and reputation among them; and in these respects the righteous man is more excellent as such than his neighbour, who at most and best is only externally and morally righteous: his superior excellency does not lie in nature, in which they are both alike; nor in outward circumstances, in which they may differ; nor in the opinion of men, with whom the saints are the offscouring of all things; but in the, esteem of Christ, and through his grace and righteousness; see Psalm 16:3; Some render the words, "the righteous explores his way more than his neighbour" (n); seeks and finds out a better way than he does; and is careful that he is not seduced and carried out of the why, and perish;
but the way of the wicked seduceth them; or causes them to err; it deceives, by promising the honour, pleasure, and profit, which it does not lead unto and give, and which they find not in it; and hereby they are led to wander from the way of the righteous, by which they attain a superior excellency to them.
(n) "justus explorat viam suam prae socio suo", Gejerus; "explorat pro compascuo suo justus", Schultens; "explorate ducit proximum suum justus", Cocceius.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
26. more excellent—(Compare Margin); or, "more successful," while the wicked fail; or, we may read it: "The righteous guides his friend, but," &c., that is, The ability of the righteous to aid others is contrasted with the ruin to which the way of the wicked leads themselves.
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