The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the LORD has made even both of them.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)The Lord hath made even both of them.—And, therefore, they are to be used as He would have them. (Comp. our Lord’s constant warning, “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.”) The proverb may also remind us of the admonition in Proverbs 15:3, and Psalm 94:9, to remember God’s constant watchfulness over us.Psalm 94:9).
the eye and
ear, because these are the two senses by which instructions are conveyed to the mind; but under them he seems to comprehend all other senses and powers of soul or body, by a synecdoche. Psalm 115:5; but such as can hear and see are of the Lord's own make;
the Lord hath made even both of them; they are the effects of his wisdom, power, and goodness; see Exodus 4:11; they are both senses of excellent use and service; great mercies and blessings of life, for which men should be abundantly thankful, and pray for the continuance of, and make use of to the best purposes; they are means of conveying much knowledge to the mind, and by which it may be cultivated and improved in it. The words may be considered in a figurative as well as a literal sense. Some by "the seeing eye" understand the civil magistrate, who is that to the body politic as the eyes are to the natural body, eminent in it, overlook it, watch and provide for its good, and against its hurt; see Numbers 10:31; and by "the hearing ear" the obedient subject, that hearkens to the laws and directions of his governors, and cheerfully obeys them, and both these are of the Lord's making; civil magistracy is his ordinance, and civil magistrates are ordained by him; and from him they have their qualifications fitting them for their office; and it is owing to the overruling providence of God on the hearts of men that they are inclined to yield subjection to them. Others think that by the "seeing eye" are meant the ministers of the word, who are set in the highest place in the church; whose business it is to inspect, take the oversight of, and watch the souls of men; to pry and search into the truths of the Gospel, and show them to others: and by the "hearing ear" the hearers of the word, that receive it readily in the love of it, and heartily obey it. I am rather of opinion that one and the same sort of persons are intended; converted ones, who have the "hearing ear", who try what they hear by the word of God; understand what they hear, know it experimentally; can distinguish truth from error, approve and love the Gospel, receive it with all gladness and readiness, with eagerness and pleasure; keep it when they have it, and practise what they hear, and bring forth fruit to the glory of God: this they have not of themselves, being naturally averse to and dull of hearing, and even stop their ears to the truth; but it comes by the word, and is the Lord's work, and owing to his mighty power, who opens their ears, gives them new ears, which they have in regeneration; when they hear spiritually, profitably, pleasantly, comfortably, and to their great astonishment: these also have the "seeing eye", a sight of themselves, their sinful and lost estate; of the plague of their own hearts, their want of righteousness, and impotence to do anything that is good; a sight of Christ, of the loveliness of his person, of the fulness of his grace, of their need of him, and of his suitableness as a Saviour and Redeemer; and this is not of themselves, who are dark and darkness itself, but they are made light in the Lord; he opens their eyes by his spirit and by means of his word, which is a work of almighty power.The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the LORD hath made even both of them.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)12. The hearing ear] or, The ear heareth, and the eye seeth. Οὖς ἀκούει καὶ ὀφθαλμὸς ὁρᾷ, LXX.
The proverb is designed to be a seed of thought and to suggest many inferences, such as: How great must the Maker of such organs be (Psalm 139:14; Wis 13:5); how exactly must their Maker take account of their use (Psalm 94:9); how entirely dependent are we upon Him for their employment (Exodus 4:11) or restoration (Isaiah 35:5), whether literally or spiritually.Verse 12. - The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the Lord hath made even both of them. This apothegm, which seems to be nothing but a trite truism, brings to notice many important consequences. First, there is the result noted in Psalm 94:9, "He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? He that formed the eye, shall he not see?" Hence we learn the sleepless providence of God. So 'Pirke Aboth,' "Know that which is above thee, an eye that seeth all, an ear that heareth all." We learn also that all things are directed and overruled by God (comp. Proverbs 15:3; Proverbs 16:4). Then there is the thought that these powers of ours, being the gift of God, should be used piously and in God's service. "Mine ears hast thou opened... Lo, I come... I delight to do thy will, O my God" (Psalm 40:6, etc.). The eye should be blind, the ear deaf, to all that might defile or excite to evil (see Isaiah 33:15). But it is the Lord alone that enables the spiritual organs to receive the wondrous things of God's Law; they must be educated by grace to enable them to perform their proper functions. "God hath given us eyes," says St. Chrysostom ('Hom. 22 in 1 Corinthians'), "not that we may look wantonly, but that, admiring his handiwork, we may worship the Creator. And that this is the use of our eyes is evident from the things which are seen. For the lustre of the sun and of the sky we see from an immeasurable distances, but a woman's beauty one cannot discern so far off. Seest thou that for this end our eye was chiefly given? Again, he made the ear, that we should entertain not blasphemous words, but saving doctrines. Wherefore you see, when it receives anything dissonant, both our soul shudders and our very body also. And if we hear anything cruel or merciless, again our flesh creeps; but if anything decorous and kind, we even exult and rejoice." "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear." Septuagint, "The ear heareth and the eye sooth, and both are the works of the Lord."
But a man who standeth the test, who findeth such a one?
As ציר אמונים, Proverbs 13:17, signifies a messenger in whom there is confidence, and עד אמונים, Proverbs 14:5, a witness who is altogether truthful, so אישׁ אמוּנים is a man who remains true to himself, and maintains fidelity toward others. Such an one it is not easy to find; but patrons who make promises and awaken expectations, finally to leave in the lurch him who depends on them - of such there are many. This contrast would proceed from 6a also, if we took קרא in the sense of to call, to call or cry out with ostentation: multi homines sunt quorum suam quisque humanitatem proclamat (Schelling, Fleischer, Ewald, Zckler, and also, e.g., Meri). But אישׁ חסדּו is certainly to be interpreted after Proverbs 11:17, Isaiah 57:1. Recognising this, Hitzig translates: many a man one names his dear friend; but in point of style this would be as unsuitable as possible. Must יקרא then mean vocat? A more appropriate parallel word to מצא is קרא equals קרה, according to which, with Oetinger, Heidenheim, Euchel, and Lwenstein, we explain: the greater part of men meet one who shows himself to them (to this or that man) as אישׁ חסד, a man well-affectioned and benevolent; but it is rare to find one who in his affection and its fruits proves himself to be true, and actually performs that which was hoped for from him. Luther translates, with the Syr. and Targ. after Jerome: Viel Menschen werden From gerhmbt [many men are reputed pious]; but if יקרא were equivalent to יקּרא, then אישׁ חסד ought to have been used instead of אישׁ חסדו. The lxx read רב אדם יקר אישׁ חסד, man is something great, and a compassionate man is something precious; but it costs trouble to find out a true man. The fundamental thought remains almost the same in all these interpretations and readings: love is plentiful; fidelity, rare; therefore חסד, of the right kind, after the image of God, is joined to אמת.
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