He that follows after righteousness and mercy finds life, righteousness, and honor.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Righteousness and mercy.—He who endeavours to give God and man their due (see above on 10:2), and to shew love to them (Proverbs 3:3), will gain for himself length of days (Proverbs 3:16) power to live more and more uprightly, and present honour from God and man for so doing. In a higher sense he will gain life eternal now and hereafter (John 17:3), righteousness, or the forgiveness of sins (Romans 2:13), and honour (Romans 8:30) at the last day, when he will be acknowledged as a true son of God (Romans 8:19).Proverbs 21:21. He that followeth after righteousness, &c. — That fervently desires, and diligently and constantly endeavours to attain these virtues, and to live in the exercise of them; findeth life — Spiritual and eternal life; righteousness — What is right and due to him, either from God, by virtue of his gracious promise, or from men, whose hearts God will incline to deal justly and kindly with him; and honour — Esteem and respect from wise and good men here, and the crown of righteousness, that fadeth not away, hereafter.1 Kings 3:13; Matthew 6:33. That followeth after; that fervently desires, and diligently and constantly endeavours, to attain to them, for such shall and will certainly obtain them.
Righteousness and mercy; living in the constant exercise of these virtues.
Findeth; shall obtain from God what is right and due to him; either from God, by virtue of his gracious promise; or from men, whose hearts God will dispose to deal justly and kindly with him. Romans 9:31; by which there is no righteousness or justification before God; but an evangelical righteousness, the righteousness of Christ; see Isaiah 51:1. To follow after it is to seek, desire, and thirst after it, Matthew 5:6; which supposes a want of righteousness, a sense of that want; a view of a righteousness without them, even in Christ; a love and liking of it, and therefore follow after it; it being pure, perfect, agreeably to the law and justice of God, which justifies now, and will answer for them in a time to come. And such follow after "mercy" or "grace" (g); seeing themselves miserable by sin, and having no merit of their own, apply to God for pardoning grace and mercy; and seek for righteousness in a way of grace, as a free gift; and for the whole of salvation in the same way, as well as for all grace and fresh supplies of it: it may be understood, in consequence of the former, of a diligent and eager performance of works of righteousness and mercy, and an earnest desire after both. And such a man
findeth life, righteousness, and honour; which is more than he is said to follow after: "life" spiritual, which he has from Christ by his Spirit, and which is owing to the grace and mercy of God; and eternal life, through the righteousness of Christ, in whom it is only to be found, and from whom all the blessings of life come; who has it in his hands to give, and does give it to all his people: "righteousness" also he finds, not in himself, nor by the works of the law, but in Christ; being directed to him by the Spirit and word of God; and an excellent finding this is; a robe of righteousness, which he lays hold upon, puts on, and rejoices in: and likewise "honour", through relation to God and Christ; through grace received from them; by enjoying the presence of them, and being made a king and priest to God; and hereafter will be placed at Christ's right hand, inherit the kingdom of glory, sit on the same throne with Christ, and wear the crown of life and righteousness.He that followeth after righteousness and mercy findeth life, righteousness, and honour.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)21. righteousness] The proverb asserts the general law of God’s moral government, that they who seek good things shall find more than they sought for (1 Kings 3:11; Matthew 6:33); the pursuit of “righteousness and mercy” will end in the acquisition of “life, righteousness and honour.” But the proverb seems also to insist upon aiming at a perfect character in the pursuit of moral excellence. Not only should the sterner virtues, represented by righteousness, be cultivated, but their gentler fellows, which are summed up in “mercy.” They who “hunger and thirst after righteousness” should also be “the merciful” (Matthew 5:6-7). So shall the reward attained be that which was sought for, righteousness (used here perhaps in its widest sense of moral perfection, including mercy, the “righteous man” and the “good man” being one and the same person, Romans 5:7), and with it in rich companionship life and honour, which were not objects of direct pursuit.Verse 21. - He that followeth after righteousness and mercy. "Righteousness" (tsedakah), in the first hemistich, signifies the virtue which renders to all, God and man, their due, which is the characteristic of the righteous man (see on Proverbs 15:9). "Mercy" (chesed) is the conduct towards others, animated by love and sympathy (see note on Proverbs 3:3). Findeth life, righteoushess, and honor. "Righteousness" here is the gift of God to his faithful servants, grace to live a holy life. This becomes habit, and forms the righteous character (Job 29:14; Job 33:26). "Life" is a long and prosperous life in the world (Proverbs 3:16); "honour" is respect and reverence among fellow men, and glory in another world. "Whom he justified, them he also glorified" (Romans 8:80). "Life and honour" stand together in Proverbs 22:4. "The fear of the Lord," says Siracides, "is honour, and glory, and gladness, and a crown of rejoicing... maketh a merry heart... and giveth long life "(Ecclus. 1:11, etc.). The LXX. omits the second "righteousness" by mistake: "The way of righteousness and mercy will find life and glory" (Matthew 6:33).
And a terror for them that work iniquity.
To act according to the law of rectitude is to these as unto death; injustice has become to them a second nature, so that their heart strives against rectitude of conduct; it also enters to little into their plan of life, and their economy, that they are afraid of ruining themselves thereby. So we believe, with Hitzig, Elster, Zckler, and Luther, this must be explained in accordance with our interpretation of Proverbs 10:29. Fleischer and others supplement the second parallel member from the first: וּפעל און מחתּה לפעלי אין; others render 15b as an independent sentence: ruin falls on those who act wickedly. But that ellipsis is hard and scarcely possible; but in general מחתה, as contrasted correlate to שׂמחה, can scarcely have the pure objective sense of ruin or destruction. It must mean a revolution in the heart. Right-doing is to the righteous a pleasure (cf. Proverbs 10:23); and for those who have און, and are devoid of moral worth, and thus simply immoral as to the aim and sphere of their conduct, right-doing is something which alarms them: when they act in conformity with what is right, they do so after an external impulse only against their will, as if it were death to them.
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