Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues without right.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Proverbs 16:8. Better is a little, &c. — A small estate, honestly gotten and usefully employed, is much to be preferred before vast incomes, gathered by oppression, and kept without the exercise of mercy and charity. This was, in effect, said before, Proverbs 15:16, (where see the note,) and is here repeated, partly because of the great importance and usefulness of this truth, and partly because men are very hardly brought to a serious belief of it.Proverbs 15:16, and is here repeated, partly because of the great importance and usefulness of this truth, and partly because men are very hardly brought to a serious belief of it.
than great revenues without right; obtained in an unjust way; detained from the right owner of them, and used in an unrighteous manner, in a course of sin and wickedness: or, "without judgment" (e); how to make use of them aright, and without a righteousness that will justify them at the day of judgment; See Gill on Proverbs 15:16. A little the true church of Christ enjoys in the wilderness; having Christ and his grace, Christ and his righteousness, is better than all the revenues of the church of Rome gotten by the unlawful methods they are; and which, in one hour will come to nought, Revelation 18:17.Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues without right.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)8. without right] Rather, with injustice, R.V., as preserving better the parallelism. Comp. Proverbs 15:16.Verse 8. - Better is a little with righteousness (Proverbs 15:16; Psalm 37:16). "Righteousness" may mean here a holy life or just dealing; as without right, or, with injustice, in the second clause, may refer either generally wickedness, or specially to fraud and oppression (Jeremiah 22:13). Says Theognis -
Βούλεο δ εὐσεβέων ὀλίγοις σὺν χρήμασιν οἰκεῖν
Η πλουτεῖν ἀδίκως χρήματα πασάμενος.
"Wish thou with scanty means pious to live,
Rather than rich with large, ill-gotten wealth." Another maxim says to the same effect -
Λεπτῶς καλῶς ζῇν κρεῖσσον η} λαμπρῶς κακῶς. Septuagint, "Better is small getting (λῆψις) with righteousness, than great revenues with iniquity" (see on Proverbs 15:29).
But a weigher of the spirits is Jahve.
Variations of this verse are Proverbs 21:2, where ישׁר for זך (according to the root-meaning: pricking in the eyes, i.e., shining clear, then: without spot, pure, vid., Fleischer in Levy's Chald. Wrterbuch, i. 424), לבּות for רוּחות, and כּל־דּרך for כּל־דּרכי, whereupon here without synallage (for כל means the totality), the singular of the pred. follows, as Isaiah 64:10; Ezekiel 31:15. For the rest, cf. with 2a, Proverbs 14:12, where, instead of the subj. בּעיני, is used לפני, and with 2b, Proverbs 24:12, where God is described by תּכן לבּות. The verb תּכן is a secondary formation from כּוּן (vid., Hupfeld on Psalm 5:7), like תּכן from Arab. tyaḳn (to be fast, sure), the former through the medium of the reflex. התכּונן, the latter of the reflex. Arab. âitḳn; תּכן means to regulate (from regula, a rule), to measure off, to weigh, here not to bring into a condition right according to rule (Theodotion, ἑδράζων, stabiliens, Syr. Targ. מתקּן, Venet. καταρτίζει; Luther, "but the Lord maketh the heart sure"), but to measure or weigh, and therefore to estimate rightly, to know accurately (Jerome, spiritum ponderator est Dominus). The judgment of a man regarding the cause of life, which it is good for him to enter upon, lies exposed to great and subtle self-deception; but God has the measure and weight, i.e., the means of proving, so as to value the spirits according to their true moral worth; his investigation goes to the root (cf. κριτικός, Hebrews 4:12), his judgment rests on the knowledge of the true state of the matter, and excludes all deception, so that thus a man can escape the danger of delusion by no other means than by placing his way, i.e., his external and internal life, in the light of the word of God, and desiring for himself the all-penetrating test of the Searcher of hearts (Psalm 139:23.), and the self-knowledge corresponding to the result of this test.
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