|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
14:1 A woman who has no fear of God, who is wilful and wasteful, and indulges her ease, will as certainly ruin her family, as if she plucked her house down. 2. Here are grace and sin in their true colours. Those that despise God's precepts and promises, despise God and all his power and mercy. 3. Pride grows from that root of bitterness which is in the heart. The root must be plucked up, or we cannot conquer this branch. The prudent words of wise men get them out of difficulties. 4. There can be no advantage without something which, though of little moment, will affright the indolent. 5. A conscientious witness will not dare to represent anything otherwise than according to his knowledge. 6. A scorner treats Divine things with contempt. He that feels his ignorance and unworthiness will search the Scriptures in a humble spirit. 7. We discover a wicked man if there is no savour of piety in his discourse. 8. We are travellers, whose concern is, not to spy out wonders, but to get to their journey's end; to understand the rules we are to walk by, also the ends we are to walk toward. The bad man cheats himself, and goes on in his mistake. 9. Foolish and profane men consider sin a mere trifle, to be made light of rather than mourned over. Fools mock at the sin-offering; but those that make light of sin, make light of Christ. 10. We do not know what stings of conscience, or consuming passions, torment the prosperous sinner. Nor does the world know the peace of mind a serious Christian enjoys, even in poverty and sickness. 11. Sin ruins many great families; whilst righteousness often raises and strengthens even mean families. 12. The ways of carelessness, of worldliness, and of sensuality, seem right to those that walk in them; but self-deceivers prove self-destroyers. See the vanity of carnal mirth. 14. Of all sinners backsliders will have the most terror when they reflect on their own ways. 15. Eager readiness to believe what others say, has ever proved mischievous. The whole world was thus ruined at first. The man who is spiritually wise, depends on the Saviour alone for acceptance. He is watchful against the enemies of his salvation, by taking heed to God's word. 16. Holy fear guards against every thing unholy. 17. An angry man is to be pitied as well as blamed; but the revengeful is more hateful.
Verse 13. - Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful (comp. ver. 10). This recalls Lucretius's lines (4:1129) -
"Medio de fonte leporum
Surgit amari aliquid, quod in ipsis fioribus angat. The text is scarcely to be taken as universally true, but either as specially applicable to those mentioned in the preceding verse, or as teaching that the outward mirth often cloaks hidden sorrow (comp. Virgil, 'AEneid,' 1:208, etc.). And the end of that joy is bitterness; it has in it no element of endurance, and when it is past, the real grief that it masked comes into prominence. In this mortal life also joy and sorrow are strangely intermingled; sorrow fellows closely on the steps of joy; as some one somewhere says, "The sweetest waters at length find their way to the sea, and are embittered there." Lesetre refers to Pascal, 'Pensees,' 2:1: "Tous se plaignent...de tout pays, de tout temps, de tous ages, et de toutes conditions. Une preuve si longue, si continuelle et si uniforme, devrait bien nous convaincre de l'impuissance ou nous sommes d'arriver au bien par nos efforts: mais l'exemple ne nous intruit point... Le present ne nous satisfaisant jamais, l'esperance nous pipe, et, de malheur en malheur, nous meue jusqu'a la mort, qui en est le comble eternel. C'est une chose etrange, qu'il n'y a rien dans la nature qui n'ait ete capable de tenir la place de la fin et du bonheur de l'homme .... L'homme etant dechu de son etat naturel, il n'y arien a quoi il n'ait ete capable de so porter. Depuis qu'il a perdu le vrai bien, tout egalement peut lui paraitre tel, jusqu'a ea destruction propre, toute contraire qu'elle est a la raison et a la nature tout ensemble." This illustrates also ver. 12. Proverbs like "There is no rose without a thorn" are common enough in all languages. The Latins said, "Ubi uber, ibi tuber;" and "Ubi mel, ibi fel." Greek experience produced the gnome -
Αρ ἐστὶ συγγενές τι λύπη καὶ βίος.
"Sorrow and life are very near of kin." Who Christian learns another lesson, "Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted" (Matthew 5:4). The LXX. has introduced a negative, which gives a sense exactly contrary to the Hebrew and to all the other versions: "In joys there is no admixture of sorrow, but the final joy cometh unto grief." The negative has doubtless crept inadvertently into the text; if it were genuine, the sentence might be explained of the sinner's joy, which he finds for a time and exults in, but which does not last, and is felt to be a delusion as life closes.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful,.... As Belshazzar's was in the midst of his feast and jollity, when he saw the writing on the wall; so sin may stare a man in the face, and guilt load his conscience and fill him with sorrow, amidst his merriment; a man may put on a merry countenance, and feign a laugh, when his heart is very sorrowful; and oftentimes this sorrow comes by sinful laughter, by mocking at sin and jesting at religion;
and the end of that mirth is heaviness: sometimes in this life a sinner mourns at last, and mourns for his wicked mirth, or that he has made himself so merry with religious persons and things, and oftentimes when it is too late; so the end of that mirth the fool in the Gospel promised himself was heaviness, when his soul was required of him; this was the case of the rich man who had his good things here, and his evil things hereafter.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
13. The preceding sentiment illustrated by the disappointments of a wicked or untimely joy.
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