|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
26:2. He that is cursed without cause, the curse shall do him no more harm than the bird that flies over his head. 3. Every creature must be dealt with according to its nature, but careless and profligate sinners never will be ruled by reason and persuasion. Man indeed is born like the wild ass's colt; but some, by the grace of God, are changed. 4,5. We are to fit our remarks to the man, and address them to his conscience, so as may best end the debate. 6-9. Fools are not fit to be trusted, nor to have any honour. Wise sayings, as a foolish man delivers and applies them, lose their usefulness. 10. This verse may either declare how the Lord, the Creator of all men, will deal with sinners according to their guilt, or, how the powerful among men should disgrace and punish the wicked. 11. The dog is a loathsome emblem of those sinners who return to their vices, 2Pe 2:22. 12. We see many a one who has some little sense, but is proud of it. This describes those who think their spiritual state to be good, when really it is very bad. 13. The slothful man hates every thing that requires care and labour. But it is foolish to frighten ourselves from real duties by fancied difficulties. This may be applied to a man slothful in the duties of religion. 14. Having seen the slothful man in fear of his work, here we find him in love with his ease. Bodily ease is the sad occasion of many spiritual diseases. He does not care to get forward with his business. Slothful professors turn thus. The world and the flesh are hinges on which they are hung; and though they move in a course of outward services, yet they are not the nearer to heaven. 15. The sluggard is now out of his bed, but he might have lain there, for any thing he is likely to bring to pass in his work. It is common for men who will not do their duty, to pretend they cannot. Those that are slothful in religion, will not be at the pains to feed their souls with the bread of life, nor to fetch in promised blessings by prayer. 16. He that takes pains in religion, knows he is working for a good Master, and that his labour shall not be in vain. 17. To make ourselves busy in other men's matters, is to thrust ourselves into temptation. 18,19. He that sins in jest, must repent in earnest, or his sin will be his ruin. 20-22. Contention heats the spirit, and puts families and societies into a flame. And that fire is commonly kindled and kept burning by whisperers and backbiters. 23. A wicked heart disguising itself, is like a potsherd covered with the dross of silver.
Verse 10. - Few passages have given greater difficulty than this verse; almost every word has been differently explained. The Authorized Version is, The great God that formed all things both rewardeth the fool, and re-wardeth transgressors; Revised Version, As an archer (Job 16:13) that woundeth all, so is he that hireth the fool and he that hireth thorn that pass by. At first sight one would hardly suppose that these could be versions of the same passage. To show the diversity that obtained in early times we quote the Greek and Latin versions. Septuagint, "All the flesh of fools is much distressed (πολλὰ χειμάζεται), for their distraction (ἔκστασις) is brought to nought;" Vulgate, "Judgment decides causes, and he who imposes silence on a fool appeases wrath." From the various interpretations of which this proverb is capable, it may be surmised that it was originally one of those hard sayings which were intended to exercise the ingenuity of auditors. It has certainly had that effect in modern times. We may at once eliminate the rendering of the Authorized Version, though the sense is good and scriptural, denoting that the great Creator recompenses the good and punishes sinners. So the medieval jingle -
"Ante Dei vultum nihil unquam restat inultum." God is not in the Hebrew, and rab, "great," is never used absolutely as equivalent to "God." Nor is the word used elsewhere to mean "head workman;" so the Revised Version margin, "a master worker formeth all things," is suspicious. Some translate, "A great man woundeth [equivalent to 'punisheth'] all; he renders their due to fools and to transgressors." One does not see why this should be attributed to the great man; it certainly is not generally true. Rosenmuller, "The mighty man causes terror; so does he who hires the fool and the transgressor;" but it is not clear why the hiring of a fool should occasion terror. The rendering in the Revised Version, or something very similar, has found favour with many modern commentators, though quite unknown to the mere ancient versions. According to this interpretation, the proverb says that a careless, random way of doing business, taking into one's service fools, or entrusting matters of importance to any chance loiterer, is as dangerous as shooting arrows about recklessly without caring whither they flew or whom they wounded. To this view Nowack objects that it is unparalleled to present an archer as a picture of what is unusual and profitless; that it does not explain why "hireth" is twice repeated; that the connection between shooter and the hire of fool and loiterer is net obvious; and that עברים does not mean "vagabonds" or "passers by." None of these objections are of much importance; and this interpretation still holds its ground. There is also much to be said for the rendering of the Revised Version margin, which is virtually that of Gesenius, Fleischer, Wordsworth, Nutt, and others: A skilful man, a master workman, produces, makes, everything by his own care and superintendence; but he that hires a fool to do his work hires, as it were, any casual vagabond who may know nothing of the business. One objection to this interpretation is that the verb חולל, does not elsewhere have the meaning here attributed to it. Considering all the above interpretations unsatisfactory, Hitzig, after Umbreit, followed herein by Delitzsch and Nowack, translates, "Much bringeth forth all," which means that he who possesses much can do anything, or, as St. Matthew 13:12, "Whosoever hath, to him shall be given" (comp. Proverbs 1:5). But the second hemistich comes in rather lamely, "But he who hires a fool is as one who hires a vagabond." Hence Delitzsch reads וּשְׂכַד for the first וְשכֵר, and renders, "But the hire and the hirer of the fool pass away," i.e. what the fool gets as wages is soon squandered, and the person who took him into his service is ruined by his incapacity. In this case the connection of the two clauses would be this: A rich man, in the nature of things, grows richer; but there are exceptions to this rule; for he who employs stupid and incapable people to do his business suffers for it in property, reputation, and probably in person also; and the incompetent person derives no benefit from the connection. It is impossible to give a decided preference to any of these expositions; and the passage must be left as a crux. It is most probable that the Hebrew text is defective. This would account for the great variations in the versions.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
The great God, that formed all things,.... That made the heavens, earth, and sea, and all that are in them; who is great in the perfections of his nature, and in the works of his hands, and greatly to be praised;
both rewardeth the fool, and rewardeth transgressors; according to their works; every transgression of the law receiving its just recompence of reward, whether a man transgresses it ignorantly or wilfully; as his transgressions are, whether through error or presumption, so shall his punishment be; though some understand this, as Kimchi, of the Lord's doing good in a providential way, to the wise and unwise, the righteous and the wicked: the words are by some rendered to another sense, "a great one grieveth all, and he hireth the fool, and he hireth the transgressors" (y); that is, a great man, a tyrannical prince, grieves all his good subjects; or, as Hottinger (z), from the use of the word in the Arabic tongue, changes all things, inverts their order, or administers all at his will, that is, wrongly; when he hires fools and wicked men to do those bad things for him which others would not, to the great detriment of the commonwealth; and rewards them for it, putting them into posts of honour and trust, to the great grief and trouble of all his best subjects.
(y) So Mercerus, Piscator. (z) Smegm. Oriental. l. 1. c. 2. p. 171.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
10. Various versions of this are proposed (compare Margin). Better perhaps—"Much He injures (or literally, "wounds") all who reward," &c., that is, society is injured by encouraging evil men.
transgressors—may be rendered "vagrants." The word "God" is improperly supplied.
Proverbs 26:10 Parallel Commentaries
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