Proverbs 17:11
An evil man seeks only rebellion: therefore a cruel messenger shall be sent against him.
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(11) An evil man seeketh only rebellion.—Or. A rebellious man (literally, rebellion; comp. Ezekiel 2:7) seeketh only evil.

A cruel messenger.—Such as the “chief of the executioners” (margin of Genesis 37:36), who was always ready to carry out the bidding of an Oriental king. (Comp. 1Kings 2:34; 1Kings 2:46.) The ministers of the Divine wrath against impenitent sinners appear as “tormentors” in Matthew 18:34. (For the office of the angels in the same work, comp. Revelation 8:6, sqq.)

Proverbs 17:11. An evil man seeketh only rebellion — Seeketh nothing but his own will; and being so refractory that he hath shaken off all reverence for God and his governors, he is wholly bent upon mischief, and cannot be reclaimed; therefore a cruel messenger shall be sent against him — Some dreadful judgment or other, as a messenger from God; angels, God’s messengers, shall be employed as ministers of justice against him, Psalm 78:49. Satan, the angel of death, and the messengers of Satan, shall be let loose upon him. His prince shall send a sergeant to arrest him, and an executioner to cut him off. He that kicks against the pricks is waited for of the sword.17:8. Those who set their hearts upon money, will do any thing for it. What influence should the gifts of God have on our hearts! 9. The way to preserve peace is to make the best of every thing; not to notice what has been said or done against ourselves. 10. A gentle reproof will enter, not only into the head, but into the heart of a wise man. 11. Satan, and the messengers of Satan, shall be let loose upon an evil man. 12. Let us watch over our own passions, and avoid the company of furious men. 13. To render evil for good is devilish. He that does so, brings a curse upon his family. 14. What danger there is in the beginning of strife! Resist its earliest display; and leave it off, if it were possible, before you begin. 15. It is an offence to God to acquit the guilty, or to condemn those who are not guilty. 16. Man's neglect of God's favour and his own interest is very absurd. 17. No change of outward circumstances should abate our affection for our friends or relatives. But no friend, except Christ, deserves unlimited confidence. In Him this text did receive, and still receives its most glorious fulfilment. 18. Let not any wrong their families. Yet Christ's becoming Surety for men, was a glorious display of Divine wisdom; for he was able to discharge the bond.The proverb expresses the reverence of the East for the supreme authority of the king. The "cruel messenger" is probably the king's officer despatched to subdue and punish. The Septuagint renders it: "The Lord will send a pitiless Angel." 11. Such meet just retribution (1Ki 2:25).

a cruel messenger—one to inflict it.

An evil man seeketh only rebellion; it is the constant study and business of wicked men to rebel, either,

1. Against men in authority. But this is not universally true, for many most wicked persons are not guilty of that sin. Or rather,

2. Against God. For,

1. Thus it is true of all wicked men.

2. This word is used of rebellion against God, Deu 31:27 Ezekiel 2:5,6 3:9, &c.

3. This word being put alone, without any addition of the object, seems most probably to be meant of the highest and worst kind of rebellion, according to the common rule of interpretation in such cases. A cruel messenger; or, a cruel angel; the angel of death, the devil, or some bloody men employed by God to avenge his quarrel; or some dreadful punishment; it being very usual in Scripture to represent things under the notion of persons, as Ro 8, and elsewhere. An evil man seeketh only rebellion,.... For he seeks nothing but what is evil; and all sin is rebellion against God, a contempt of his laws, and a transgression of them; a trampling upon his legislative power and authority; an act of hostility against him, and a casting off allegiance to him. Or rather the words may be rendered, "rebellion", that is, "the rebellious man", so the Targum, the abstract for the concrete, "verily" or "only seeketh evil" (m); a man that is rebellious against his prince, that is of a rebellious disposition, is continually seeking to do mischief in the commonwealth; he is continually plotting and contriving destructive schemes, and stirring up sedition, and causing trouble; and so a rebel against God is always seeking that which is sinful, which is evil in its own nature, and contrary to the law and will of God; and in the issue brings the evil of punishment on himself;

therefore a cruel messenger shall be sent against him: if a rebel against his lawful sovereign, a messenger shall be sent by him to take him into custody, who will show him no mercy; or an executioner to dispatch him, who will not spare to perform his orders: and if a rebel against God, some judgment of God shall fall upon him in a very severe manner; or his own conscience shall accuse him, and shall be filled with dreadful apprehensions of divine vengeance; or Satan, the angel of death, shall be let loose upon him, to terrify or destroy him; or death itself, which spares none. The Septuagint and Arabic versions ascribe this to God as his act, rendering it, "the Lord shall send", &c. and so Aben Ezra; who also refers the former clause to him, and gives it as the sense of it; that he shall seek to do the rebellious man evil, inflict on him the evil of punishment for the evil of sin.

(m) "profecto rebellio quaeret malum", Montanus; so Schultens, Piscator, Tigurine version, Cocceius.

An evil man seeketh only rebellion: therefore a cruel {e} messenger shall be sent against him.

(e) By the messenger is meant such means as God uses to punish the rebels.

11. rebellion] This, in its highest reference, is an anticipation of the divine philosophy of St John, “sin is lawlessness” (ἡ ἁμαρτία ἐστὶν ἡ ἀνομία). “Sin is lawlessness. Sin and lawlessness are convertible terms. Sin is not an arbitrary conception; it is the assertion of the selfish will against a paramount authority. He who sins breaks, not only by accident or in an isolated detail, but essentially, the law which he was created to fulfil,” Westcott on 1 John 3:4.

a cruel messenger] The stern, implacable minister of the rebel’s doom. Comp., for illustration, 1 Kings 2:25; 1 Kings 2:34. The LXX. refer the sending of the merciless messenger, whether human or angelic, to Jehovah, against whom ultimately all rebellion is aimed: ὁ δὲ κύριος ἄγγελον ἀνελεήμονα ἐκπέμψει αὐτῷ.Verse 11. - An evil man seeketh only rebellion. So the Greek and Latin Versions; but, as Nowack intimates, a bad man seeks many other things which do not come directly in the category of rebellion; and it is better to take meri, "rebellion," as the subject, regarding it as put for the concrete, thus: "A rebellious man striveth only for what is evil." From the point of view of an Eastern potentate, this is true enough. Absolute government looks upon any rising against constituted authority, any movement in the masses, as necessarily evil, and to be repressed with a high hand. Hence the succeeding clause. Therefore a cruel messenger shall be sent against him. The "cruel messenger" (Proverbs 16:14) is the executioner of the king's wrath (comp. 1 Kings 2:29, etc.). He is called "cruel" because his errand is deadly, and he is pitiless in its performance. This seems to be the sense intended. The LXX. gives a different notion, derived from the ambiguous term malak, like the Greek ἄγγελος: "The Lord will send forth a pitiless angel against him." The verse then becomes a statement concerning the retribution inflicted by God on obstinate sinners, such as Pharaoh and the Egyptians. These are delivered over to "the tormentors" (Matthew 18:34), the angels that execute the wrath of God, as in Psalm 78:49 and Revelation 8:6, etc. As all sin is rebellion against God, it is natural to read into the passage a religious meaning, and for homiletical purposes it is legitimate to do so. But the writer's intention is doubtless as explained above, though his language may be divinely directed to afford a further application. 5 He that mocketh the poor reproacheth his Maker;

   He that rejoiceth over calamity remains not unpunished.

Line first is a variation of Proverbs 14:31. God is, according to Proverbs 22:2, the creator of the poor as well as of the rich. The poor, as a man, and as poor, is the work of God, the creator and governor of all things; thus, he who mocketh the poor, mocketh Him who called him into existence, and appointed him his lowly place. But in general, compassion and pity, and not joy (שׂמח ל, commonly with ל, of the person, e.g., Obad. Oba 1:12, the usual formula for ἐπιχαιρεκακία), is appropriate in the presence of misfortune (איד, from אוּד, to be heavily burdened), for such joy, even if he on whom the misfortune fell were our enemy, is a peccatum mortale, Job 31:29. There is indeed a hallowed joy at the actual revelation in history of the divine righteousness; but this would not be a hallowed joy if it were not united with deep sorrow over those who, accessible to no warning, have despised grace, and, by adding sin to sin, have provoked God's anger.

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