Proverbs 14:16
A wise man fears, and departs from evil: but the fool rages, and is confident.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(16) A wise man feareth.—(Comp. Proverbs 3:7.)

The fool rageth.—Gives way to passionate excitement, and “is confident” in his own wisdom; he has no “quietness and confidence” (Isaiah 30:15) in God.

Proverbs 14:16. A wise man feareth, and departeth from evil — He trembles at God’s judgments when they are either inflicted or threatened; and shuns sin, which is the procuring cause of all calamities; but the fool rages — Frets against God, or is enraged against his messengers who declare the threatening; or, as the Hebrew, מתעבר, should rather be translated here, transgresseth, or goeth on in sin constantly and resolutely; which is fitly opposed to departing from evil; as his being confident, in the next clause, that is, secure and insensible of danger, till God’s judgments overtake him, is opposed to fearing. Bishop Patrick’s interpretation is, “A wise man, being admonished of his error, and of his danger, is afraid of incurring the divine displeasure; and instantly starts back from that evil way into which he was entering, or wherein he was engaged: but a fool storms at those that would stop him in his course, and proceeds boldly and securely to his own ruin.”14:1 A woman who has no fear of God, who is wilful and wasteful, and indulges her ease, will as certainly ruin her family, as if she plucked her house down. 2. Here are grace and sin in their true colours. Those that despise God's precepts and promises, despise God and all his power and mercy. 3. Pride grows from that root of bitterness which is in the heart. The root must be plucked up, or we cannot conquer this branch. The prudent words of wise men get them out of difficulties. 4. There can be no advantage without something which, though of little moment, will affright the indolent. 5. A conscientious witness will not dare to represent anything otherwise than according to his knowledge. 6. A scorner treats Divine things with contempt. He that feels his ignorance and unworthiness will search the Scriptures in a humble spirit. 7. We discover a wicked man if there is no savour of piety in his discourse. 8. We are travellers, whose concern is, not to spy out wonders, but to get to their journey's end; to understand the rules we are to walk by, also the ends we are to walk toward. The bad man cheats himself, and goes on in his mistake. 9. Foolish and profane men consider sin a mere trifle, to be made light of rather than mourned over. Fools mock at the sin-offering; but those that make light of sin, make light of Christ. 10. We do not know what stings of conscience, or consuming passions, torment the prosperous sinner. Nor does the world know the peace of mind a serious Christian enjoys, even in poverty and sickness. 11. Sin ruins many great families; whilst righteousness often raises and strengthens even mean families. 12. The ways of carelessness, of worldliness, and of sensuality, seem right to those that walk in them; but self-deceivers prove self-destroyers. See the vanity of carnal mirth. 14. Of all sinners backsliders will have the most terror when they reflect on their own ways. 15. Eager readiness to believe what others say, has ever proved mischievous. The whole world was thus ruined at first. The man who is spiritually wise, depends on the Saviour alone for acceptance. He is watchful against the enemies of his salvation, by taking heed to God's word. 16. Holy fear guards against every thing unholy. 17. An angry man is to be pitied as well as blamed; but the revengeful is more hateful.Simple - In the bad sense (compare Proverbs 1:22). 16. (Compare Pr 3:7; 28:14).

rageth—acts proudly and conceitedly.

Feareth; trembleth at God’s judgments, when they are either inflicted or threatened.

From evil; from sin, which is the procuring cause of all calamities.

Rageth; fretteth against God, or is enraged against his messengers who bring the threatening, or disquieteth himself in vain or, transgresseth, as this verb in its simple form and first conjugation commonly signifies; or, goeth on in sin constantly and resolutely, according to the emphasis which this conjugation commonly adds to the simple verb. And this is most fitly opposed to

departing from evil; as being

confident is opposed to fearing. Is confident; secure and insensible of his danger till God’s judgments overtake him. A wise man feareth, and departeth from evil,.... He fears God, and is careful not to offend him; wherefore he departs from sin, stands at a distance from it, abstains from all appearance of it; being influenced by the goodness and grace of God unto him, he fears the Lord and his goodness, and therefore avoids all occasions of sinning against him: his motive is not merely fear of punishment, as Jarchi, but a sense of goodness; and now, as it is through the influence of divine fear that men depart from evil; so to do this shows a good understanding, and that such a man is a wise man, Proverbs 16:6;

but the fool rageth, and is confident; he fears neither God nor men, he sets his mouth against both; he "rages" in heart, if not with his mouth, against God and his law, which forbid the practice of such sins he delights in; and against all good men, that admonish him of them, rebuke him for them, or dissuade him from them: and "is confident" that no evil shall befall him; he has no concern about a future state, and is fearless of hell and damnation, though just upon the precipice of ruin; yet, as the words may be rendered, "he goes on confidently", nothing can stop him; he pushes on, regardless of the laws of God or men, of the advices and counsels of his friends, or of what will be the issue of his desperate courses in another world.

A wise man feareth, and departeth from evil: but the fool rageth, and is confident.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
16. rageth] Or, beareth himself insolently, R.V. The rendering however, rageth, or loses his temper, is borne out by Psalm 78:21; Psalm 78:59, where both A.V. and R.V. render the same Heb. word, was wroth.Verse 16. - A wise man feareth, and departeth from evil (Proverbs 22:3). In Proverbs 3:7 we had, "Fear the Lord, and depart from evil;" but here the idea is different. A wise man fears the evil that lurks in everything, and examines and ponders actions by the standard of religion, and is thus saved from many evils which arise from hastiness and inadvertence. The fool rageth, and is confident (Proverbs 21:24; Proverbs 28:26). The fool easily falls into a rage, and has no control over himself, and is confident in his own wisdom, in contrast to the wise man, who has trust in God, and is calm and thoughtful (Isaiah 30:15). Revised Version, "beareth himself insolently, and is confident;" but, as Nowack remarks, the word (mithabber), where it occurs elsewhere, means, "to be excited," "to be in a passion" (comp. Proverbs 21:24; Proverbs 26:17; Psalm 78:21, 59, 62), and this usual signification gives a good meaning here. Vulgate, transilit, "he overleaps" all laws and restrictions. The LXX., by transposition of the letters, reads mithareh, and translates μίγνυται," The fool trusting to himself mixes himself up with sinners." Four proverbs of joy and sorrow in the present and the future:

10 The heart knoweth the trouble of its soul,

     And no stranger can intermeddle with its joy.

The accentuation לב יודע seems to point out יודע as an adjective (Lwenstein: a feeling heart), after 1 Kings 3:9, or genit. (of a feeling heart); but Cod. 1294 and the Jemen Cod., and others, as well as the editions of Jablonsky and Michaelis, have לב with Rebia, so that this is by itself to be taken as the subject (cf. the accentuation Proverbs 15:5 and under at 16a). מרּת has the ר with Dagesh, and consequently the short Kametz (Michlol 63b), like שׁרּך Proverbs 3:8, cf. כּרתה, Judges 6:28, and on the contrary כרּת, Ezekiel 16:4; it is the fem. of mōr equals morr, from מרר, adstringere, amarum esse. Regarding לב, in contradistinction to נפשׁ, vid., Psychol. p. 251. "All that is meant by the Hellenic and Hellenistic νοῦς, λόγος, συνείδησις, θυμός, is comprehended in καρδία, and all by which the בשׂר and נפשׁ are affected comes in לב into the light of consciousness."

The first half of the proverb is clear: the heart, and only it, i.e., the man in the centre of his individuality, knows what brings bitterness to his soul, i.e., what troubles him in the sphere of his natural life and of the nearest life-circle surrounding him. It thus treats of life experiences which are of too complex a nature to be capable of being fully represented to others, and, as we are wont to say, of so delicate a nature that we shrink from uncovering them and making them known to others, and which on this account must be kept shut up in our own hearts, because no man is so near to us, or has so fully gained our confidence, that we have the desire and the courage to pour out our hearts to him from their very depths. Yet the saying, "Every one knows where the shoe pinches him" (1 Kings 8:38), stands nearer to this proverb; here this expression receives a psychological, yet a sharper and a deeper expression, for the knowledge of that which grieves the soul is attributed to the heart, in which, as the innermost of the soul-corporeal life, it reflects itself and becomes the matter-of-fact of the reflex consciousness in which it must shut itself up, but also for the most part without external expression. If we now interpret לא־יתערב as prohibitive, then this would stand (with this exception, that in this case אל instead of לא is to be expected) in opposition, certainly not intended, to the exhortation, Romans 12:15, "Rejoice with them that do rejoice," and to the saying, "Distributed joy is doubled joy, distributed sorrow is half sorrow;" and an admonition to leave man alone with his joy, instead of urging him to distribute it, does not run parallel with 10a. Therefore we interpret the fut. as potentialis. As there is a soul-sorrow of the man whose experience is merely a matter of the heart, so there is also a soul-joy with which no other (vid., regarding זר, p. 135, and cf. here particularly Job 19:27) intermeddleth (ההערב בּ like Psalm 106:35), in which no other can intermeddle, because his experience, as e.g., of blessed spiritual affection or of benevolent feeling, is purely of a personal nature, and admits of no participation (cf. on ἔκρυψε, Matthew 13:44), and thus of no communication to others. Elster well observes: "By this thought, that the innermost feelings of a man are never fully imparted to another man, never perfectly cover themselves with the feelings of another, yea, cannot at all be fully understood by another, the worth and the significance of each separate human personality is made conspicuous, not one of which is the example of a species, but each has its own peculiarity, which no one of countless individuals possesses. At the same time the proverb has the significance, that it shows the impossibility of a perfect fellowship among men, because one never wholly understands another. Thereby it is indicated that no human fellowship can give true salvation, but only the fellowship with God, whose love and wisdom are capable of shining through the most secret sanctuary of human personality." Thus also Dchsel (but he interprets 10b admonitorily): "Each man is a little world in himself, which God only fully sees through and understands. His sorrow appertaining to his innermost life, and his joy, another is never able fully to transfer to himself. Yea, the most sorrowful of all experiences, the most inward of all joys, we possess altogether alone, without any to participate with us."

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