|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 12. - Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? (Proverbs 3:7). Nothing so shuts the door against improvement as self-conceit. "Woe unto them," says Isaiah (Isaiah 5:21), "that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight." Such persons, professing themselves wise, become fools (Romans 1:22; Romans 12:16; Revelation 3:17, 18). Touching conceit, Qui sibi sapit, summe desipit. The Oriental speaks of the fox finding his shadow very large, and of the wolf when alone thinking himself a lion. There is more hope of a fool than of him (Proverbs 29:20). A fool who is conscious of unwisdom may be set right; but one who fancies himself perfect, and needing no improvement, is beyond cure; his case is hopeless. So the sinner who feels and acknowledges his iniquity may be converted; but the self-righteous Pharisee, who considers himself to have no need of repentance, will never be reformed (see Matthew Luke 15:7; Luke 18:14). St. Chrysostom (Hom. in Phil.,' 7), "Haughtiness is a great evil; it is better to be a fool than haughty; for in the one case the folly is only a perversion of intellect, but in the other ease it is still worse; for it is folly joined with madness. The fool is an evil to himself; but the haughty man is a plague to others too. One cannot be haughty-minded without being a fool... The soul which is puffed up has a worse disease than dropsy, while that which is under restraint is treed from all evil" (Oxford transl.).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit,.... Or "in his own eyes" (b); as multitudes may be seen, by looking round; man is a creature but of small knowledge in things natural, civil, mechanical, philosophical, moral, or divine; yet greatly conceited for the most part of his knowledge and wisdom. As by a "fool" in this book is generally understood a wicked profane man, so by a wise man is meant a good and righteous man, and may be so understood here; and many there are who are good and righteous only their own conceit and esteem, not truly so; they place their righteousness in outward things, in the observance of external duties; and though there may be some little imperfection in them, yet they think, as they mean well, God will accept the will for the deed: and some have imagined they have arrived to perfection; and such are generally conceited, proud, and haughty, and despise others; all which flows from ignorance; for, though they fancy themselves to be wise, they are very ignorant of themselves; of the plague of their own hearts; of the law of God, and the spirituality of it, and the extensiveness of its demands; of the strict justice and righteousness of God, which will not admit of an imperfect righteousness in the room of a perfect one; and also of the righteousness of Jesus Christ, the nature and necessity of that to justify: and this being their case, they are in very dangerous circumstances; they are building on a sand; they are liable to fall into a ditch; they cannot be justified nor saved by their own works; they oppose themselves to God's way of justifying and saving sinners; and he sets himself against them, he resisteth the proud. Wherefore
there is more hope of a fool than of him; of a profane sinner than of a self-righteous person; for Christ came to save sinners, to call them to repentance, and he receives them as such; but not self-righteous persons; and, humanly speaking, there is a greater likelihood and greater hopes of convincing sinners, and bringing them to repentance and to forsake their sins, than there is of convincing a self-righteous man of the insufficiency of his righteousness, and the folly of trusting to it, and of bringing him to repent of such a confidence, and to forsake it; for it is most natural to him; it is his own, and the effect of great labour and pains; and encourages vanity and boasting, which would be excluded should he part with it; see Matthew 21:31.
(b) "in oculis suis", Pagninus, Montanus, Junius & Tremellius, &c.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
12. The self-conceited are taught with more difficulty than the stupid.
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