|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
3:7-12 There is not a greater enemy to the fear of the Lord in the heart, than self-conceit of our own wisdom. The prudence and sobriety which religion teaches, tend not only to the health of the soul, but to the health of the body. Worldly wealth is but poor substance, yet, such as it is, we must honour God with it; and those that do good with what they have, shall have more to do more good with. Should the Lord visit us with trials and sickness, let us not forget that the exhortation speaks to us as to children, for our good. We must not faint under an affliction, be it ever so heavy and long, not be driven to despair, or use wrong means for relief. The father corrects the son whom he loves, because he loves him, and desires that he may be wise and good. Afflictions are so far from doing God's children any hurt, that, by the grace of God, they promote their holiness.
Verse 7. - Be not wise in thine own eyes. This admonition carries on the thought from the preceding verses (5, 6), approaching it from a different direction. It is a protest against self-sufficiency, self-conceit, and self-reliance. It says, in effect, "Trust in the Lord, do not trust in yourself." Wisdom, as Michaelis remarks, is to trust in God; to trust in yourself and in your own wisdom is unwisdom. God denounces this spirit: "Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!" (Isaiah 5:21), because such a spirit leads to the prohibited self-dependence, and is inconsistent with "the tear of the Lord." The precept of the text is reiterated by St. Paul, especially in Romans 12:16, "Be not wise in your own conceits" (cf. 1 Corinthians 8:8; Galatians 6:3). It commends humility. The diligent search for Wisdom is commanded. The great hindrance to all true wisdom is the thought that we have already attained it (Plumptre). In thine own eyes; i.e. in thine own estimation; arbitrio tuo (Trem. et Jun.). Fear the Lord, and depart from evil. The connection of this with the first part of the verse becomes clear upon reflection. "The fear of the Lord" is true wisdom (Job 28:28; Proverbs 1:7). Fear the Lord, therefore, because it is the best corrective of one's own wisdom, which engenders arrogance, pride, presumption of mind, which, moreover, is deceptive and apt to lead to sin. The fear of the Lord has this other advantage - that it leads to the departure from evil (Proverbs 16:6) It is the mark of the wise man that he fears the Lord, and departs from evil (Proverbs 14:16). These precepts form the two elements of practical piety (Delitzsch), an eminent example of which as Job (Job 1:1).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Be not wise in thine own eyes,.... So as to act independently of God; not to trust in him, nor acknowledge him, nor seek to him for help and direction; nor ask nor take the advice of others; but, being conceited and self-sufficient, lean to thine own understanding, as being wise enough to conduct all affairs in life by thy own discretion; and in matters of religion wiser than thy teachers, and even than the Scriptures, being wise above that which is written; pleasing thyself with thine own wisdom, as exceeding others; glorying in it as thine own acquisition, and not ascribing it to God, so far as it any ways deserves the name of wisdom; though for the most part that which men glory in, and are conceited of, is not wisdom, but folly; and at least it is their folly to boast of it and be elated with it; see Isaiah 5:21, Romans 12:16;
fear the Lord; which is true wisdom; and, where this is not, there is none, let men be ever so conceited; and where this is there is humility; these two go together, and make a man wise, rich, and honourable, Proverbs 22:4. The fear of the Lord is opposed to pride, high-mindedness, and vain conceit, Romans 11:20; this includes reverence of God, faith in him, dependence on him, acknowledgment of him, seeking to him for direction, and carefulness not to offend him;
and depart from evil; from the evil of self-confidence and self-conceit, and from all other evil; the fear of God influences men to avoid sin, and abstain from all appearance of it; by means and through the exercise of it men forsake it, and keep at a distance from it, Proverbs 16:6. Nehemiah could not do as others did, because of the fear of the Lord; and Job was a man that feared God, and therefore he avoided that which was evil, Nehemiah 5:15.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
7. (Compare Pr 27:2; Ro 12:16).
fear … evil—reverentially regarding His law.
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