Proverbs 21:4
An high look, and a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked, is sin.
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(4) The plowing of the wicked.—i.e., their work, all they do; for it is not done to please God but themselves; nor carried on in His strength, but in reliance upon their own, and therefore it is “sin,” not pleasing to Him. For the word here translated “plowing,” see above on Proverbs 13:23, where it is rendered “tillage.” It may also signify “lamp(see above on 13:9).

Proverbs 21:4. A high look — One sign of pride put for all the rest; and a proud heart — Pride lurking and reigning in the heart, though it do not discover itself to men by outward actions, but be disguised with a show of humility, as it frequently is; and the ploughing of the wicked — Even their civil or natural actions, which in themselves are lawful and good, are made sinful, as they are managed by ungodly men, without any regard to the glory of God, which ought to be the end of all our actions; is sin — Is by them turned into sin, and made the occasion of much wickedness.21:1 The believer, perceiving that the Lord rules every heart as he sees fit, like the husbandman who turns the water through his grounds as he pleases, seeks to have his own heart, and the hearts of others, directed in his faith, fear, and love. 2. We are partial in judging ourselves and our actions. 3. Many deceive themselves with a conceit that outward devotions will excuse unrighteousness. 4. Sin is the pride, the ambition, the glory, the joy, and the business of wicked men. 5. The really diligent employ foresight as well as labour. 6. While men seek wealth by unlawful practices, they seek death. 7. Injustice will return upon the sinner, and will destroy him here and for ever. 8. The way of mankind by nature is froward and strange.The plowing - The Hebrew word, with a change in its vowel points, may signify either:

(1) the "fallow field," the "tillage" of Proverbs 13:23, or

(2) the lamp.

According to: (1) the verse would mean, "The outward signs of pride, the proud heart, the broad lands of the wicked, all are evil." (2) however, belongs, as it were, to the language of the time and of the book Proverbs 13:9; Proverbs 24:20. The "lamp of the wicked" is their outwardly bright prosperity.

4. high look—(Compare Margin; Ps 131:1).

proud heart—or, "heart of breadth," one that is swollen (compare Ps 101:5).

ploughing—better "lamp," a frequent figure for prosperity (Pr 20:20); hence joy or delight.

An high look; one gesture or sign of pride put for all the rest, Proverbs 6:17.

A proud heart; pride lurking and reigning in the heart, though it do not discover itself to men by outward actions, but be disguised with a show of humility, it is frequently.

The ploughing; either,

1. Strictly and properly so called: even their civil or natural actions, which in themselves are lawful and good, are made sinful, as they are managed by ungodly men, without any regard to the service and glory of God, which ought to be the great end of all our actions, 1 Corinthians 10:31, and with a design of serving their own wicked lusts by it. Or,

2. Metaphorically, their designs and endeavours, which are said to be sin, because they are wholly and fully set upon sin, and they make sin their trade or business, which is called ploughing wickedness, Job 4:8. But all the ancient interpreters, and divers others, render the word the lamp or light, as this Hebrew word, even thus pointed, is rendered, 1 Kings 11:36 15:4 2 Kings 8:19 2 Chronicles 21:7; and the lamp of the wicked is a phrase used in this book, Proverbs 13:9 24:20, as also Job 21:17; whereas the ploughing of the wicked is a phrase not elsewhere used. And this seems best to agree with the context, for by their lamp he seems to understand all their pomp and glory, that worldly greatness and prosperity, which is the fuel of their pride, and therefore is most fitly joined with it. Is sin; it is by them turned into sin, and made the occasion of much wickedness. The whole verse may be thus rendered, An high look and a proud heart, which is the light or glory of the wicked, (i.e. wherein they glory, esteeming it magnanimity or gallantry of spirit,) is sin, i.e. is a great and grievous sin. And in this manner the learned Mercer renders the verse, save only that he translates the Hebrew word nir, the ploughing. An high look, and a proud heart,.... The former is a sign of the latter, and commonly go together, and are both abominable to the Lord; see Psalm 101:5. A man that looks above others, and with disdain upon them, shows that pride reigns in him, and swells his mind with a vain opinion of himself; this may be observed in every self-righteous man; the parable of the Pharisee and publican is a comment upon it; sometimes there may be a proud heart under a disguise of humility; but the pride of the heart is often discovered by the look of the eyes. It may be rendered, "the elevation of the eyes, and the enlargement of the heart" (p); but not to be understood in a good sense, of the lifting up of the eyes in prayer to God, with faith and fear; nor of the enlargement of the heart with solid knowledge and wisdom, such as Solomon had; but in a bad sense, of the lofty looks and haughtiness of man towards his fellow creatures, and of his unbounded desires after filthy lucre or sinful lusts: the Targum renders it,

"the swelling of the heart,''

with pride and vanity;

and the ploughing of the wicked is sin; taken literally; not that it is so in itself; for it is a most useful invention, and exceeding beneficial to mankind, and is to be ascribed to God himself; and of this the Heathens are so sensible, that they have a deity to whom they attribute it, and whom they call Ceres (q), from to plough; it only denotes that all the civil actions of a wicked man, one being put for all, are attended with sin; he sins in all he does. Or, metaphorically, for his schemes, contrivances, and projects, which are the ploughing of his mind; these are all sinful, or tend to that which is so. Some understand this particularly of his high look and proud heart, which are his ploughing and his sin; Ben Melech; and others of his ploughing, or persecuting and oppressing, the poor. The word is sometimes used for a lamp or light, and is so rendered here by some, "the light of the wicked is sin" (r); their outward happiness and prosperity leads them into sin, involves them in guilt, and so brings them to ruin and destruction: and this way go the Targum: Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Arabic versions.

(p) "elatio oculorum et latitudo cordis", Piscator, Michaelis, Cocceius, Schultens. (q) "Prima Ceres ferro mortales vertere terram instituit", Virgil. Georgic. l. 1.((r) "Incerna impiorum", V. L. Mercerus, Gejerus, Cocceius, Michaelis, Schultens.

An high look, and a proud heart, and the {b} plowing of the wicked, is sin.

(b) That is, the thing by which he is guided or which he brings forth as the fruit of his work.

4. the plowing] This, which is an admissible rendering, is virtually retained (the tillage) in R.V. marg. The haughty bearing, the proud look, the prosperous labours of the wicked are alike condemned as “sin.” But it is better to render lamp, instead of plowing or tillage, even the lamp of the wicked is sin. λαμπτήρ, LXX.; lucerna, Vulg.

The lamp burning brightly and steadily in the tent or house is the symbol of the prosperity of an individual (Proverbs 13:9; Job 18:6; and of a dynasty, 1 Kings 11:36; 1 Kings 15:4). But in the case of “the wicked,” instead of being accepted with humble thankfulness as lighted by Jehovah (Psalm 18:28), it finds expression in “an high look and a proud heart,” and therefore “is sin.”Verse 4. - An high look and a proud heart; Vulgate, exaltatio oculorum est dilatatio cordis, "The lifting up of the eyes is a swelling of the heart." But it is best to make the whole verse one idea, as in the Authorized Version. The lifting of the eyes is a term implying pride, as shown in supercilious looks, as if other people were of inferior clay and not worthy of notice. So we have "haughty eyes" in Proverbs 6:17 (where see note); and in Proverbs 30:13 we read, "There is a generation, oh how lofty are their eyes! and their eyelids are lifted up." "The enlargement of the heart" is the cause of the proud look, for it signifies the evil affections and concupiscence of the will, wholly filled up with self, and controlling the actions and expression of the body. Septuagint, "A high-minded man (κεηαλόφρων) is stout-hearted in his pride." And the ploughing of the wicked is sin. The Authorized Version takes the reading נִר (nir), which means "tillage' (Proverbs 13:23), or, as Delitzsch supposes, "land ploughed for the first time" (novale). The proverb, taken thus, will mean, "high look, proud heart, even all the field which the godless cultivate, all that they do, is sin." "Pride," says the Talmud, "is worse than sin." But another pointing gives a different and very appropriate (comp. Proverbs 13:9; Proverbs 24:20) meaning. נֵר (ner) signifies "a lamp." Thus the Vulgate, Lucerna impiorum peccatum, "The lamp of the wicked is sin;" and the Septuagint, Λαμπτὴρ δὲ ἀσεβῶν ἁμαρτία "Lamp" is, as often, a metaphor for prosperity and happiness (comp. 2 Samuel 22:29; 1 Kings 11:36); and it is here said that the sinner's outward prosperity and joyousness, springing from no good source, being founded in self, and not resting on virtue and godliness, are in themselves sinful and displeasing to God. 28 Love and truth guard the king;

     And he supports his throne by love.

We have not in the German [nor in the Eng.] language a couple of words that completely cover חסד ואמת; when they are used of God, we translate them by grace and truth [Gnade u. Wahrheit], Psalm 40:12 (יצּרוּני); when of men, by love and truth [Liebe u. Treue], Proverbs 16:6; and when of the two-sided divine forces, by kindness and truth, Proverbs 3:3. Love and truth are the two good spirits that guard the king. If it is elsewhere said that the king's throne is supported "with judgment and with justice," Isaiah 9:6 [7]; here, on the other side, we see that the exercise of government must have love as its centre; he has not only to act on the line of right, שׁוּרת הדּין; but, as the later proverb says, in such a way, that within this circle his conduct is determined by the central motive of love. In this sense we give the king not only the title of Grossmchtigster [most high and mighty], but also that of "Allergndigster" most gracious, for the king can and ought to exercise grace before other men; the virtue of condescension establishes his throne more than the might of greatness.

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