Proverbs 14:28
In the multitude of people is the king's honor: but in the want of people is the destruction of the prince.
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(28) In the multitude of people is the king’s honour.—Not in ambitious wars. In these words speaks the “man of rest” (1Chronicles 22:9). (Comp. the description of Solomon’s kingdom in the days of his prosperity; 1Kings 4:20.)

Proverbs 14:28. In the multitude of people is the king’s honour — “The honour and splendour of a king depend upon the multitude, wealth, and strength of his subjects, whom, therefore, he ought to protect and cherish: for if they be wasted by unnecessary wars, or forced into other countries by oppression and unjust exactions, it proves the ruin of his kingdom.” — Bishop Patrick.14:18. Sin is the shame of sinners; but wisdom is the honour of the wise. 19. Even bad men acknowledge the excellency of God's people. 20. Friendship in the world is governed by self-interest. It is good to have God our Friend; he will not desert us. 21. To despise a man for his employment or appearance is a sin. 22. How wisely those consult their own interest, who not only do good, but devise it! 23. Labour of the head, or of the hand, will turn to some good account. But if men's religion runs all out in talk and noise, they will come to nothing. 24. The riches of men of wisdom and piety enlarge their usefulness. 25. An upright man will venture the displeasure of the greatest, to bring truth to light. 26,27. Those who fear the Lord so as to obey and serve him, have a strong ground of confidence, and will be preserved. Let us seek to this Fountain of life, that we may escape the snares of death. 28. Let all that wish well to the kingdom of Christ, do what they can, that many may be added to his church. 29. A mild, patient man is one that learns of Christ, who is Wisdom itself. Unbridled passion is folly made known. 30. An upright, contented, and benevolent mind, tends to health. 31. To oppress the poor is to reproach our Creator. 32. The wicked man has his soul forced from him; he dies in his sins, under the guilt and power of them. But godly men, though they have pain and some dread of death, have the blessed hope, which God, who cannot lie, has given them. 33. Wisdom possesses the heart, and thus regulates the affections and tempers. 34. Piety and holiness always promote industry, sobriety, and honesty. 35. The great King who reigns over heaven and earth, will reward faithful servants who honour his gospel by the proper discharge of the duties of their stations: he despises not the services of the lowest.A protest against the false ideal of national greatness to which Eastern kings, for the most part, have bowed down. Not conquest, or pomp, or gorgeous array, but a happy and numerous people form the true glory of a king. The word translated "prince" is of doubtful meaning; but the translation is supported by the Septuagint, Vulg, and most commentators. 28. The teaching of a true political economy. Is the king’s honour, because it is an evidence of his wise and good government. Under honour he here comprehends also strength and safety, (as appears from the opposite clause,) which depend much upon a prince’s reputation. And honour may be here put for strength, as strength is put for honour or glory, Psalm 8:2 29:1 96:7. In the multitude of people is the king's honour,.... For it is a sign of a good and wise government, of clemency and righteousness being exercised, of liberty and property being enjoyed, of peace, plenty, and prosperity; which encourage subjects to serve their king cheerfully, and to continue under his reign and government peaceably; and which invites others from different parts to come and settle there also; by which the strength and glory of a king are much increased. This is true of the King of kings, of Jesus Christ, who is King of saints; his honour and glory, as Mediator, lies in a large number of voluntary subjects, made "willing" to serve him "in the day of his power" upon them, as numerous as the drops of the morning "dew", Psalm 110:3; such as he had in the first times of the Gospel, both among the Jews and among the Gentiles; and as he will have more especially in the latter day, when those prophecies shall be fulfilled in Isaiah 60:4; and so this is interpreted of the King Messiah, in an ancient writing (b) of the Jews;

but in the want of people is the destruction of the prince; or, "the consternation" (c) of him; if his people are destroyed in wars his ambition or cruelty has led him to; or they are driven out from his kingdom by persecution or oppression; hence follows a decay of trade, and consequently of riches; lack of cultivation of land, and so want of provision: in course of time there is such a decrease, that, as there are but few to carry on trade and till the land, so to fight for their prince, and defend his country; wherefore, when attacked by a foreign power, he is thrown into the utmost consternation, and is brought to destruction. This will be the case of the prince of darkness, the man of sin, antichrist; who, though however populous he may be, or has been, ruling over tongues, people, and nations, yet before long he will be deserted by them; one nation after another will fall off from him; they and their kings will hate him, make him bare and desolate, and burn him with fire, Revelation 17:15. Some render it, "the consternation of leanness" (d); such consternation as causes leanness in a king.

(b) Zohar in Exod. fol. 67. 3, 4. (c) "formidat princeps", Tigurine version; "consternatio", Cocceius, Michaelis, Schultens. (d) "Consternatio macici", Gussetius, p. 785. "consternatio tabifica", Schultens; "contritio maciei", Gejerus; "terror tenuitatis", Mercerus, Gersom.

In the multitude of {l} people is the king's honour: but in the lack of people is the destruction of the prince.

(l) That is, the strength of a king stands in many people.

Verse 28. - In the multitude of people is the king's honour (glory); but in the want of people is the destruction of the prince; or, of the principality. This maxim is not in accordance with the views of Oriental conquerors and despots, who in their selfish lust of aggrandizement cared not what suffering they inflicted or what blood they shed; who made a wilderness and called it peace. The reign of Solomon, the peaceful, gave an intimation that war and conquest were not a monarch's highest glory: that a happy and numerous people, dwelling securely and increasing in numbers, was a better honour for a king and more to be desired (1 Kings 4:20). Increase of population is not, as some political economists would teach, in itself an evil; it is rather a sign of prosperity, and is in agreement with the primeval blessing, "Increase and multiply;" and though it may be hard to maintain the exact equilibrium between production and consumers, yet wise legislation can foresee and remedy the difficulty, the abundance in one part can supply the scarcity in another, the providence of God watching over all. The proverb terminating (Proverbs 14:21) with אשׁריו (cf. Proverbs 16:20) is now followed by one not less singularly formed, commencing with הלא (cf. Proverbs 8:1).

Will they not go astray who devise evil,

And are not mercy and truth to those who devise good?

The part. חרשׁ signifies both the plougher and the artisan; but on this account to read with Hitzig both times חרשׁי, i.e., machinatores, is nothing less than advisable, since there is connected with this metaphorical חרשׁ, as we have shown at Proverbs 3:29, not only the idea of fabricating, but also that of ploughing. Just so little is there any reason for changing with Hitzig, against all old translators, יתעוּ into ירעוּ: will it not go ill with them...; the fut. יתעו (cf. Isaiah 63:17) is not to be touched; the perf. תעו (e.g., Psalm 58:4) would denote that those who contrive evil are in the way of error, the fut. on the contrary that they will fall into error (cf. Proverbs 12:26 with Job 12:24). But if הלא יתעו is the expression of the result which shall certainly come to such, then 22b stands as a contrast adapted thereto: and are not, on the contrary, mercy and truth those who contrive that which is good, i.e., (for that which befalls them, as Proverbs 13:18, cf. Proverbs 14:35, is made their attribute) are they not an object of mercy and truth, viz., on the part of God and of men, for the effort which proceeds from love and is directed to the showing forth of good is rewarded by this, that God and men are merciful to such and maintain truth to them, stand in truth to them; for חסד ואמת is to be understood here, as at Proverbs 3:3, neither of God nor of men exclusively, but of both together: the wicked who contrive evil lose themselves on the way to destruction, but grace and truth are the lot of those who aim at what is good, guarded and guided by which, they reach by a blessed way a glorious end.

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