|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
3:27-35 Our business is to observe the precepts of Christ, and to copy his example; to do justice, to love mercy, and to beware of covetousness; to be ready for every good work, avoiding needless strife, and bearing evils, if possible, rather than seeking redress by law. It will be found there is little got by striving. Let us not envy prosperous oppressors; far be it from the disciples of Christ to choose any of their ways. These truths may be despised by the covetous and luxurious, but everlasting contempt will be the portion of such scorners, while Divine favour is shown to the humble believer.
Verse 29. - Devise not evil against thy neighbour. This precept is directed against abuse of confidence. Devise not evil (al takharosh raah). The meaning of this expression lies between "fabricating evil" and "ploughing evil." The radical meaning of kharash, from which takharosh, is "to cut into," "to inscribe" letters on a tablet, cognate with the Greek χαράσσειν, "to cut into." But it is used in the sense of "to plough" in Job 4:18, "They that plough iniquity (khar'shey aven)," and Psalm 129:3, "The ploughers ploughed (khar'shim khar'shim) upon my back" (cf. Hosea 10:13). This also appears from the context to be the meaning in Proverbs 6:14. With these we may compare such expressions as "to plough a lie" (μὴ ἀροτρία ψεύδος, rendered in the Authorized Version, "Devise not a lie"); see Proverbs 7:12, and "to sow iniquity," Proverbs 22:8 - a cognate figure. "To plough evil" is to devise evil, to prepare for it, just in the same way as a ploughman prepares the land for sowing. In this sense the verb is understood by the older commentators and by Ewald and Delitzsch. On the other hand, the verb may be used in its other signification, "to fabricate," and hence "to contrive." The noun kharash is an artificer of iron, etc. (Exodus 35:35; Deuteronomy 27:15). "To fabricate evil" is, of course, as the Authorized Version "to devise evil." The LXX., μὴ τεκτῄνη, from τεκτείνομαι, "to build," inclines to this sense. The Vulgate, ne moliaris, does not clear up the point, though moliri, usually "to contrive," is used by Virgil, 'Georg.,' 1:494, "moliri terrain," of working or tilling the ground. The verb also occurs in Proverbs 6:19; Proverbs 12:20; Proverbs 14:22. Seeing he dwelleth securely by thee; i.e. as the Vulgate, cure ille in te habet fiduciam, "when he has confidence in thee;" so the LXX.; or, as the Targum and Syriac, "when he dwells with thee in peace." To dwell (yashar) is in Psalm 1:1 "to sit with any one," i.e. to associate familiarly with him (cf. Psalm 26:4, 5); but it also has the meaning , "to dwell," and the participle yoshev, here used; in Genesis 19:23: Judges 6:21, means "an inhabitant, a dweller." Securely (lavetah); i.e. with full trust (see on ver. 23). Devising evil against a friend is at any time reprehensible, but to do so when he confides in and is altogether unsuspicious of you, is an act of the greatest treachery, and an outrage on all law. human and Divine. It implies dissimulation. It is the very sin by which "the devil beguiled Eve through his subtlety" (Wardlaw).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Devise not evil against thy neighbour,.... Or, "plough not evil" (i); turn not up thy heart to find evil against thy neighbour, as the earth is turned up by the plough; see Hosea 10:13. Do not contrive and form schemes in thy mind and thoughts to do him any injury, in his name and character, in his person, property, or family: a good man should devise all the good he can to his fellow creatures, but not evil to any; especially to his neighbour, and as described in the next clause;
seeing he dwelleth securely by thee; having a good opinion of thee, and not suspecting any ill design against him, thinks himself, goods, and family, in safety; and is under no concern to provide for his security, placing his confidence in thee, and perhaps to such a degree as to entrust with his secrets. Now to project evil against such a man is exceeding base; it is doubly sinful; this is an aggravation of the iniquity.
(i) "ne ares", Amama.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
29, 30. Do not abuse confidence and avoid litigation.
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