Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.1. hardeneth his neck] like an obstinate and refractory ox. The same phrase occurs in Deuteronomy 10:16; 2 Kings 17:14. Comp. the similar phrase, stiff-necked, or hard-necked (the Heb. root being the same) Exodus 32:9; Deuteronomy 9:6; Acts 7:51 (σκληροτράχηλοι); and for other figurative expressions drawn from the use of oxen, Jeremiah 31:18; Acts 26:14.
destroyed] Rather, broken, R.V., as in Proverbs 6:15, A.V.
When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.2. in authority] This rendering is supported by the parallelism, but it is relegated to the margin in R.V. The rendering, increased, R.V. text, A.V. marg., gives the more usual meaning of the Heb. word, See Proverbs 28:28, and Proverbs 29:16 below.
the wicked] Or, a wicked man, R.V. The word is singular, but may be taken with A.V. collectively, ἀρχόντων δὲ ἀσεβῶν, LXX.; cum impii sumserint principatum, Vulg.
Whoso loveth wisdom rejoiceth his father: but he that keepeth company with harlots spendeth his substance.3. wisdom] regarded, as the second clause of the verse shews, as leading to purity of life. Comp. Proverbs 2:10; Proverbs 2:16.
spendeth] Rather, wasteth, R.V. ἀπολεῖ, LXX. Comp. διεσκόρπισε τὴν οὐσίαν αὐτοῦ … ὁ καταφαγών σου τὸν βίον μετὰ τῶν πορνῶν, Luke 15:13; Luke 15:30.
The king by judgment establisheth the land: but he that receiveth gifts overthroweth it.4. receiveth] The R.V., exacteth, is scarcely an improvement, for it is enough to “overthrow the land” that the king be open to receive gifts. The Heb., a man of offerings, will bear either sense. The rendering of R.V. marg., that imposeth tribute, sacrifices the contrast in the two members of the proverb, between the impartial administration of justice and the venality and corruption which are the curse of Oriental courts.
A man that flattereth his neighbour spreadeth a net for his feet.
In the transgression of an evil man there is a snare: but the righteous doth sing and rejoice.6. a snare] in which, though perhaps he laid it for others (Psalm 9:15-16), he himself shall be taken, and so have sorrow, in contrast to the “joy and singing” of the righteous.
The righteous considereth the cause of the poor: but the wicked regardeth not to know it.7. the cause] the judicial cause in a court of law. Comp. Deuteronomy 17:8, where the same Heb. word is rendered plea.
regardeth not] Or, hath not understanding, R.V. Either does not take the trouble, as the righteous does, to look into the case; or, has not the moral perception to grasp its bearings.
Scornful men bring a city into a snare: but wise men turn away wrath.8. bring a city into a snare] Rather, set a city on fire, A. V. marg., or, in a flame, R.V.; ἐξέκαυσαν, LXX. Comp. Proverbs 20:10; Proverbs 26:21; and, for an illustration of the proverb, the story of Sheba the son of Bichri and the wise woman, 2 Samuel 20.
If a wise man contendeth with a foolish man, whether he rage or laugh, there is no rest.9. whether he rage &c.] This makes the fool the subject, as is more clearly brought out in R.V. marg., He rageth and laugheth and there is no rest. In R.V. text, however, the wise man is made the subject, whether he be angry or laugh, whether he seeks to bring the controversy to an end by severity or by banter, he will fail. There is no coming to terms with a fool, either by threats or by persuasion.
The bloodthirsty hate the upright: but the just seek his soul.10. seek] i.e. care for, as R.V. marg. Comp. Psalm 142:4 [Hebrews 5], where however the Hebrew word, seek, is not the same as here. It is more in accordance with the use of the phrase to seek the life, to render, with R.V. text,
The bloodthirsty hate him that is perfect:
And as for the upright they seek his life.
The LXX. however has: οἱ δὲ εὐθεῖς εὐθεῖς ἐκζητήσουσι ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ; and the Vulg. justi autem quærunt animam ejus.
A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards.11. mind] Lit. spirit; i.e. passion, or anger, R.V., θυμόν, LXX. keepeth it in till afterwards] Rather, keepeth it back and stilleth it, R.V.; ταμιεύεται κατὰ μέρος, LXX.
If a ruler hearken to lies, all his servants are wicked.12. Comp.
“As is the judge of his people, so are his ministers;
And as is the ruler of the city, such are all they that dwell therein.”
The poor and the deceitful man meet together: the LORD lighteneth both their eyes.13. deceitful man] Rather, oppressor. The rendering usurer, A.V. marg., which follows the LXX. δανειστής, and Vulg. creditor, restricts the reference to one form of oppression.
lighteneth both their eyes] i.e. with the light of life, Psalm 13:3 [Hebrews 4]. Comp. “He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good,” Matthew 5:45; and see ch. Proverbs 22:2.
The king that faithfully judgeth the poor, his throne shall be established for ever.
The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.15. left to himself] Comp. 1 Kings 1:6.
When the wicked are multiplied, transgression increaseth: but the righteous shall see their fall.16. are multiplied] “Or, are in authority,” R.V. marg. See Proverbs 29:2, note.
shall see] shall look upon, R.V., with thoughtful satisfaction. Comp. Psalm 37:34; Psalm 112:8.
Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul.
Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.18. vision … law] “The vision is the actual contact between God and the human spirit, which is the necessary condition of any direct revelation; the law is the recorded result of such a revelation, either passed from mouth to mouth by tradition or written permanently in a book. We may then a little amplify the proverb for the sake of exposition: ‘Where there is no living revelation, no perceived contact between man and God, there the bonds which hold society together are relaxed and broken; but he that holds by the revelation that has been given, obeying the law, so far as it has been presented to him, happy is he.’ ” Horton.
It was this keeping the law, as they had received it, which was enjoined upon the Jews by the last of their prophets, in view of the coming centuries during which there should be no vision. Malachi 4:4.
perish] Rather, break loose, as the same word is rendered in Exodus 32:25, R.V.; where, as here in the marg., A.V. has, is made naked. In this place R.V. renders, suitably enough, cast off restraint; but it seems desirable to adopt the same rendering in both places, because the historical incident affords a good and possibly an intended illustration of the proverb.
A servant will not be corrected by words: for though he understand he will not answer.19. words] He needs sterner measures.
answer] i.e. respond in work and action: give heed, R.V.; οὐχ ὑπακούσεται, LXX. The Vulg. appears to understand it, as do some commentators, literally—he will not even deign to answer you—quia quod dicis intelligit, et respondere contemnit.
Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? there is more hope of a fool than of him.20. Comp. James 1:26.
He that delicately bringeth up his servant from a child shall have him become his son at the length.21. his son] The meaning of the word which occurs only here is doubtful (see R.V. marg.), but this is the most probable rendering of it. The Vulg., as referred to in R.V. marg., has sentiet eum contumacem, shall have him become refractory. The LXX. give the proverb differently: “He that lives delicately from his youth shall be a servant, and shall be grieved with himself (ὀδυνηθήσεται ἐφʼ ἑαυτῷ) at the last.”
An angry man stirreth up strife, and a furious man aboundeth in transgression.22. furious] Rather, wrathful, R.V. Comp. Proverbs 15:18; Proverbs 28:25.
A man's pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit.23. honour shall uphold, &c.] Rather, He that is lowly in spirit shall obtain honour. Lowly is better than humble (A.V.) in the second clause, because the Heb. word is from the same root as the word bring low, in the first clause.
It is substantially the same proverb as that used more than once by our Lord:
Every one that exalteth himself shall be humbled;
And he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
Luke 14:11; Luke 18:14.
Whoso is partner with a thief hateth his own soul: he heareth cursing, and bewrayeth it not.24. cursing] Rather, the adjuration, sc. of the judge (Leviticus 5:1), or of the owner of the lost property (Jdg 17:2), who puts him on his oath to divulge if he has knowledge of the theft.
bewrayeth] Rather, uttereth, as the same Heb. word is rendered both in A.V. and R.V. in Leviticus 5:1.
The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.25. shall be safe] “Heb. shall be set on high” (marg. of A.V. and R.V.), as on an inaccessible rock, or in an impregnable fortress. Comp. Proverbs 18:10.
Many seek the ruler's favour; but every man's judgment cometh from the LORD.
An unjust man is an abomination to the just: and he that is upright in the way is abomination to the wicked.27. the just] Rather, the righteous, R.V.