Proverbs 15:19
The way of the slothful man is as an hedge of thorns: but the way of the righteous is made plain.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(19) As a hedge of thorns.—Every difficulty in his path serves as an excuse for inaction (comp. Proverbs 22:13); while the upright man, who does his duty as in the sight of God, goes “from strength to strength” (Psalm 84:7), along the path of life smoothed for him (Isaiah 26:7), performing the “just works” appointed for him to do.

Proverbs 15:19. The way of the slothful man — The way in which he does or ought to walk; any good work which he pretends or desires to undertake; is as a hedge of thorns — As a way hedged up with thorns, (see Hosea 2:6,) troublesome, perplexed, and full of such difficulties as he despairs, and therefore never strives to overcome; but the way of the righteous — Who is always diligent in his calling, (this being one branch of his righteousness,) and, therefore, is fitly opposed to the slothful, who is joined with the wicked, Matthew 25:26, and censured as wicked both in the Scriptures and in heathen authors, idleness being both in itself a sin, and leading the way to many other sins; is made plain — Is easy and pleasant to him, notwithstanding all its difficulties.

15:16,17. Believers often have enough when worldly eyes see little; the Lord is with them, without the cares, troubles, and temptations which are with the wealth of the wicked. 18. He that is slow to anger, not only prevents strife, but appeases it, if kindled. 19. Those who have no heart to their work, pretend that they cannot do their work without hardship and danger. And thus many live always in doubt about their state, because always in neglect of some duty. 20. Those who treat an aged mother or a father with contempt or neglect, show their own folly. 21. Such as are truly wise, study that their thoughts, words, and actions should be regular, sincere, and holy. 22. If men will not take time and pains to deliberate, they are not likely to bring any thing to pass. 23. Wisdom is needed to suit our discourse to the occasions. 24. A good man sets his affections on things above; his way leads directly thither.The slothful goes on his journey, and for him the path is thick set with thorns, briars, fences, through which he cannot force his way. For the "righteous" (better, upright), the same path is as the broad raised causeway of the king's highway. Compare Isaiah 40:3. 19. The difficulties of the slothful result from want of energy; the righteous find a

plain [and open] way—literally, "a highway," by diligence (1Sa 10:7; Ps 1:3).

The way of the slothful man, the way in which he doth or ought to walk, any good work which he pretends or desires to undertake,

is as an hedge of thorns; as a way hedged up with thorns, as it is expressed, Hosea 2:6, troublesome and perplexed, and full, of such difficulties as he despaireth, and therefore never striveth, to overcome.

The way of the righteous, who is always diligent in his calling, which is one branch of righteousness, and therefore is fitly opposed to the slothful, who is joined with the wicked, Matthew 25:26, and censured as such both in Scripture and heathen authors, because idleness is both in itself a sin, and it leads the way to many other wickednesses.

Is made plain; is easy and pleasant to him, notwithstanding all his discouragements and difficulties.

The way of the slothful man is as an hedge of thorns,.... Or, "strewed with thorns", as the Septuagint and Arabic versions; the Targum is,

"the ways of the slothful are briers and thorns.''

Either really being made so by his own conduct; who, by his slothfulness, has implicated and entangled himself in such difficulties, that he cannot extricate himself; his way is not passable, at least not very easily; it is as it were hedged up with thorns; see Hosea 2:6; or in his own apprehensions; who raises such difficulties about doing business, which to him seem insurmountable; at least which discourage him from attempting it, it being like breaking through thorns and briers; hence he will not plough because of the cold, nor go abroad because there is a lion in the streets, Proverbs 20:4; or the way of his duty, especially of virtue and religion, is as troublesome and disagreeable to him as breaking through a thorn hedge, or treading upon briers and thorns; to attend the duties of public worship, prayer, and hearing the word, is very irksome to him; to be present at family worship, at prayer, and hearing the Scriptures or religious discourses read, is like sitting upon thorns unto him. This, as Aben Ezra observes, is to be understood of a wicked man, as the opposition in the next clause shows;

but the way of the righteous is made plain: it is a castup way, as the word (p) signifies; a causeway, a highway, and a plain one, in which a truly righteous and good man finds no difficulty; yea, it is so plain, that men, though fools in other respects, shall not err therein, Isaiah 35:8; nor is it grievous and troublesome, but, on the contrary, very delightful, as the ways of Christ and wisdom are; his commandments are not grievous, his yoke is easy, and his paths pleasant; and the righteous man walks at liberty and with pleasure in them; and without offence or stumbling, as the Vulgate Latin version renders it.

(p) "aggestum", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "eleveta", Mercerus, Gejerus; "strata", Montanus.

The way of the slothful man is as an hedge of {e} thorns: but the way of the righteous is made plain.

(e) That is, he always finds some hinderance or stay, and dares not go forward.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
19. a hedge of thorns] which may be either of his own making (Proverbs 24:30-31), or of his own imagining (Proverbs 22:13).

made plain] “Heb. raised up as a causey” (archaic form of causeway), A.V. marg.; made a high way, R.V. Comp. Isaiah 57:14; Isaiah 62:10, where the same Heb. word occurs.

Verse 19. - The way of the slothful man is as an hedge of thorns. The indolent sluggard is always finding or imagining difficulties and hindrances in his path, which serve as excuses for his laziness. The word for "thorn" here is chedek. It occurs elsewhere only in Micah 7:4, where the Authorized Version has "briar;" but the particular plant intended is not ascertained. Most writers consider it to be some spinous specimen of the solanum. The word refers, it is thought, to a class of plants the name of one of which, at least, the miscalled "apple of Sodom," is well known in poetry, and is a proverbial expression for anything which promises fair but utterly disappoints on trial. "This plant, which is really a kind of potato, grows everywhere in the warmer parts of Palestine, rising to a widely branching shrub from three to five feet high; the wood thickly set with spines; the flower like that of the potato, and the fruit, which is larger than the potato apple, perfectly round, and changing from yellow to bright red as it ripens.... The osher of the Arab is the true apple of Sodom. A very tropical-looking plant, its fruit is like a large smooth apple or orange, and hangs in clusters of three or four together. When ripe, it is yellow, and looks fair and attractive, and is soft to the touch, but if pressed, it bursts with a crack, and only the broken shell and a raw of small seeds in a half-open pod, with a few dry filaments, remain in the hand" (Geikie, 'Holy Land and Bible,' 2:74, 117). Cato, 'Dist.,' 54:3, 5 -

"Segnitiem fugito, quae vitae ignavia fertur;
Nam quum animus languet, consumit inertia corpus."
To the sluggard is opposed the righteous in the second member, because indolence is a grievous sin, and the greatest contrast to the active industry of the man who fears God and does his duty. The way of the righteous is made plain; "is a raised causeway;" selulah, as Proverbs 16:17: Isaiah 40:3; Isaiah 49:11. The upright man, who treads the path appointed for him resolutely and trustfully, finds all difficulties vanish; before him the thorns yield a passage; and that which the sluggard regarded as dangerous and impassable becomes to him as the king's highway. Vulgate, "The path of the just is without impediment;" Septuagint, "The roads of the manly (ἀνδρείων) are well beaten." St. Gregory ('Moral.,' 30:51), "Whatever adversity may have fallen in their way of life, the righteous stumble not against it. Because with the bound of eternal hope, and of eternal contemplation, they leap over the obstacles of temporal adversity" (comp. Psalm 18:29). Proverbs 15:1919 The way of the slothful is as hedged with thorns;

     But the path of the righteous is paved.

Hitzig misses the contrast between אצל (slothful) and ישׁרים (upright), and instead of the slothful reads עריץ, the tyrannical. But is then the slothful ישׁר? The contrast is indeed not that of contradiction, but the slothful is one who does not act uprightly, a man who fails to fulfil the duty of labour common to man, and of his own special calling. The way of such an one is כּמשׂכת חדק, like a fencing with thorns (from חדק, R. חד, to be pointed, sharp, distinguished from Arab. hadḳ, to surround, and in the meaning to fix with the look, denom. of khadaḳt, the apple of the eye), so that he goes not forwards, and sees hindrances and difficulties everywhere, which frighten him back, excusing his shunning his work, his remissness of will, and his doing nothing; on the contrary, the path of those who wait truly and honestly on their calling, and prosecute their aim, is raised up like a skilfully made street, so that unhindered and quickly they go forward (סלוּלה, R. סל, aggerare, cf. Jeremiah 18:15 with Isaiah 49:11 and Isaiah 49:4 :8, סלסל, which was still in use in the common language of Palestine in the second cent., Rosch haschana, 26b).

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