|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
4:14-27 The way of evil men may seem pleasant, and the nearest way to compass some end; but it is an evil way, and will end ill; if thou love thy God and thy soul, avoid it. It is not said, Keep at a due distance, but at a great distance; never think you can get far enough from it. The way of the righteous is light; Christ is their Way, and he is the Light. The saints will not be perfect till they reach heaven, but there they shall shine as the sun in his strength. The way of sin is as darkness. The way of the wicked is dark, therefore dangerous; they fall into sin, but know not how to avoid it. They fall into trouble, but never seek to know wherefore God contends with them, nor what will be in the end of it. This is the way we are bid to shun. Attentive hearing the word of God, is a good sign of a work of grace begun in the heart, and a good means of carrying it on. There is in the word of God a proper remedy for all diseases of the soul. Keep thy heart with all diligence. We must set a strict guard upon our souls; keep our hearts from doing hurt, and getting hurt. A good reason is given; because out of it are the issues of life. Above all, we should seek from the Lord Jesus that living water, the sanctifying Spirit, issuing forth unto everlasting life. Thus we shall be enabled to put away a froward mouth and perverse lips; our eyes will be turned from beholding vanity, looking straight forward, and walking by the rule of God's word, treading in the steps of our Lord and Master. Lord, forgive the past, and enable us to follow thee more closely for the time to come.
Verse 16. - This verse exhibits the extreme depravity and debasement into which "the wicked" (r'shaim) and "the evil" (raim) of ver. 14 have fallen. Their sins are not sins of frailty, but arise from premeditation and from their insatiable desire to commit wickedness. Sin has become to them a kind of second nature, and, unless they indulge in it, sleep is banished from their eyes. They sleep not; lo-yish'nu, future of yashan, "to fall asleep;" the future here being used for the present, as is frequently the case in the Proverbs, and denoting a permanent condition or habit. Unless they cause some to fall; i.e. "unless they have betrayed others into sin," taking the verb in an ethical sense (Zockler), or, which is preferable, owing to ver. 16a, unless they have done them some injury (Mercerus); Vulgate, nisi supplantaverint. For the Khetib yik'shulu, kal, which would mean "unless they have stumbled or fallen," the Keri substitutes the hiph. yak'shihi "unless they have caused some to fall." The hiph. is found without any object, as here, in 2 Chronicles 25:8). (On the verb khasal, from which it is derived, see ch. 4:12.) With the statement of the verse we may compare David's complaint of the persistent persecution of his enemies (Psalm 59:15), "If they be not satisfied, then will they stay all night" (margin). A similar construction to the one before us occurs in Virgil: "Et si non aliqua nocuisses, mortuus esses" - "And had you not, by some means or other done him an injury, you would have died" ('Eclog.,' 3:15); cf. also Juvenal: "Ergo non aliter poterit dormire; quibusdam somnum rixa facit" - "Therefore, not otherwise, would he have slept; contention to some produces sleep." Hitzig rejects vers. 16 and 17 against all manuscript authority.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
For they sleep not, except they have done mischief,.... Or they cannot sleep, as Jarchi and Gersom interpret it. Oftentimes they cannot sleep on their beds for devising mischief, their thoughts are so intensely set on contriving wicked schemes; and when they have so done, they cannot sleep until they have executed them; they are continually restless and uneasy day and night, like the troubled sea, constantly casting up mire and dirt. Who would keep such company as these?
and their sleep is taken away, unless they cause some to fall; into the snares and traps they lay for them, or into sin and calamity by it; the former of which they endeavour by all means to draw men into, and the latter is the unavoidable consequence of it. They imitate their father the devil, both delight in sin, and in the ruin of their fellow creatures; it is a sport to thereto do mischief, and they have no pleasure without it; see Proverbs 11:23. What company are such!
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
16, 17. The reason is found in the character of sinners, whose zeal to do evil is forcibly depicted (Pr 6:4; Ps 36:5). They live by flagrant vices (Pr 1:13). Some prefer to render, "Their bread is wickedness, their drink violence" (compare Job 15:16; 34:7).
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