|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
23:1-3 God's restraints of the appetite only say, Do thyself no harm. 4,5. Be not of those that will be rich. The things of this world are not happiness and a portion for a soul; those that hold them ever so fast, cannot hold them always, cannot hold them long. 6-8. Do not make thyself burdensome to any, especially those not sincere. When we are called by God to his feast, and to let our souls delight themselves, Isa 25:6; 55:2, we may safely partake of the Bread of life. 9. It is our duty to take all fit occasions to speak of Divine things; but if what a wise man says will not be heard, let him hold his peace. 10,11. The fatherless are taken under God's special protection. He is their Redeemer, who will take their part; and he is mighty, almighty.
Verse 5. - Wilt thou sat thine eyes upon that which is not? more literally, wilt thou let thine eyes fly upon it, and it is gone? Why cast longing looks towards this wealth, and so prepare for yourself loss and disappointment? The pursuit is vain, and the result is never secure; what you gained by long toil and prudent care may be lost in an hour. Do you wish to incur this danger? Wordsworth quotes Persius, 'Sat.,' 3:61 -
"An passim sequeris corvos testaque lutoque?" For riches certainly make themselves wings. The subject, unexpressed, is riches, and the Hebrew phrase implies absolute certainty: Making they will make for themselves. They fly away as an eagle toward heaven; or, like on eagle that flieth toward heaven, where not even sight can follow. Publ. Syr., 255, "Longinquum est omne quod cupiditas flagitat." The Telugu compares worldly prosperity to writing upon water. Says the Greek moralist -
Βέβαιον οὐδέν ἐν βίῳ δοκεῖ πέλειν
"There's naught in life that one can deem secure." Septuagint, "If thou fix thine eye upon him (the rich patron), he will nowhere be seen, for wings like an eagle's are ready prepared for him, and he will return to the house of his master (τοῦ προεστηκότος), and leave you to shift for yourself."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not?.... The Vulgate Latin version is,
"do not lift up thine eyes to riches which thou canst not have;''
riches no doubt are intended, and which may be said to be "not"; they are not the true riches, have only the shadow and appearance of riches; they are not lasting and durable; in a little time they will not be; they are perishing things, they have no substance or solidity in them; they are not satisfying; they do not make them happy; they are rather nonentities than realities; and therefore the eyes of the mind and the affections of the heart should not be set on them: it may be rendered, "wilt thou cause thine eyes to fly upon that which is not?" (w) denoting the intenseness of the mind, and the eagerness of the affections, and with what rapidity and force they move towards them. The Targum is,
"if thou fixest thine eyes on him, he shall not appear to thee;''
meaning the rich man: and so the Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic versions. Ben Melech makes mention of other senses very different; according to R. Judah, the word signifies darkness, "wilt thou make thine eyes dark?" two according to others, signifies light, "wilt thou make thine eyes to shine?" and, according to Jarchi, "wilt thou double?", or shut thine eyes?
for riches certainly make themselves wings; or, "it in making makes itself wings" (x); even that which is not, on which men cause their eyes to fly; no sooner are their eyes upon that, but that flies away from them like a bird with wings; see Hosea 9:11. Either men are taken from that, or that from them, and sometimes very swiftly and suddenly;
they fly away as an eagle towards heaven; the eagle flies very swiftly, none more swiftly; it flies towards heaven, out of sight, and out of reach, and out of call; so riches flee away to God, the original giver of them, from whence they came, and who is the sole disposer of them; they own him as the proprietor and distributor of them; and they flee to heaven as it were for fresh orders where they should be, and into whose hands they should come next; they flee away, so as not to be seen any more, and be recovered by those who have formerly enjoyed them.
(w) "numquid involare facies", Michaelis; "ut involent", Junius & Tremellius; "ut volent", Piscator; "ad sineves volare", Cocceius. (x) "quis faciendo faciet", Montanus, Baynus.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
5. Wilt … eyes—As the eyes fly after or seek riches, they are not, that is, either become transitory or unsatisfying; fully expressed by their flying away.
Proverbs 23:5 Parallel Commentaries
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