|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
6:20-35 The word of God has something to say to us upon all occasions. Let not faithful reproofs ever make us uneasy. When we consider how much this sin abounds, how heinous adultery is in its own nature, of what evil consequence it is, and how certainly it destroys the spiritual life in the soul, we shall not wonder that the cautions against it are so often repeated. Let us notice the subjects of this chapter. Let us remember Him who willingly became our Surety, when we were strangers and enemies. And shall Christians, who have such prospects, motives, and examples, be slothful and careless? Shall we neglect what is pleasing to God, and what he will graciously reward? May we closely watch every sense by which poison can enter our minds or affections.
Verse 23. - For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light. The teacher takes up the words "commandment" (Hebrew, mitzrah) and "law" (Hebrew, torah) from ver. 20, which he describes respectively as "a lamp" and "light" The "commandment" is any special or particular commandment which harmonizes with God's will, and commands what is to be done and forbids what is to be left undone. The "law" is the whole law of God in its entirety; not here the Law of Moses technically, but the whole system of generalized instruction; They stand, therefore, in the same relation to each other as "a lamp" and "light," the one being particular, and the other general. "Light" (Hebrew, or) is light in general, as the light of the day and the sun, while "a lamp" (Hebrew, ner, from nur, "to shine) is a particular light like that of a candle, which is enkindled at some other source. The "commandment" and the "law" alike enlighten the conscience and enable one to walk in his way of life. On this passage Le Clerc remarks, "Ut in tenebris lucerna, aut fax ostendit nobis, qua eundam sit: in ignorantiae humanae caligine, quae nos per hanc totam vitam cingit, revelatio divina nos docet, quid sit faciendum, quid vitandum." So the psalmist says in Psalm 19:8, "The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;" and again in Psalm 119:105, "Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path;" i.e. they direct and show the true way of faith and life (Gejerus). The "commandment" and the "law" may stand for the whole revelation of God without reference to any particular precept (as Scott), but they have here a specific bearing on a particular form of human conduct, as appears from the following verses. And reproofs of instruction are the way of life. Reproofs of instruction; Hebrew, tok'khoth musar, disciplinary reproofs, i.e. reproofs whose object is the discipline of the soul and the moral elevation of the character. The LXX. reads, καὶ ἔλεγχος καὶ παιδεία; thus connecting it with education in its highest sense. Such reproofs are a way of life (Hebrew, derek khayyim), i.e. they lead to life; they conduce to the prolongation of life. This view of the subject, so prominent in the mind of the teacher in other passages (cf. Proverbs 3:2 and 19), must not be lost sight of, though the words are susceptible of another interpretation, as indicating that the severest reproofs, inasmuch as they correct errors and require obedience, conduce to the greatest happiness (Patrick). Or again, it may mean that disciplinary reproofs are necessary to life. The soul to arrive at perfection must undergo them as part of the conditions of its existence, and, consequently, they are to be submitted to with the consciousness that, however irksome they may be, they are imposed for its eventual benefit (cf. Hebrews 12:5). But this interpretation is unlikely from what follows.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
For the commandment is a lamp,.... The law of God is a lamp or candle to see to work by and to walk by; it enlightens the eyes and directs the feet, and makes working more pleasant, and walking more comfortable; and indeed wit, bout it a man knows not rightly what to do or where he should walk, or where he is walking; see Psalm 119:105;
and the law is light; it makes things clear and manifest, what is right and what is wrong; it enlightens the eyes of the understanding, whereby persons come to see both their sin and their duty; and it directs them to avoid the one and do the other; see Psalm 19:8;
and reproofs of instruction are the way life; kind reproofs given by parents agreeable to the word of God, which instruct what should be shunned and what should be performed, when attended to, put men in the way of an honourable and useful life; and are the means of preserving them from a scandalous and useless one.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
23. reproofs—(Pr 1:23) the convictions of error produced by instruction.
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