Proverbs 24:10
If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small.
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(10) If thou faint in the day of adversity.—And prove unable to help thyself or others; an exhortation to courage (comp. Hebrews 12:12). A “more excellent way” is shown in the following verse.

Proverbs 24:10. If thou faint in the day of adversity — If thou art impatient and unable to bear sufferings; if thy resolution flag, and thou give way to despondency or dejection of mind; thy strength is small — Hebrew, is narrow, it lies in a little compass; it is strait, as thy condition is; for there is an elegant allusion in the word rendered small, or narrow, in this clause, to that rendered adversity in the former. The sense is, This is a sign that thou hast but little Christian strength or courage, for that is best known by adversity.

24:1,2 Envy not sinners. And let not a desire ever come into thy mind, Oh that I could shake off restraints! 3-6. Piety and prudence in outward affairs, both go together to complete a wise man. By knowledge the soul is filled with the graces and comforts of the spirit, those precious and pleasant riches. The spirit is strengthened for the spiritual work and the spiritual warfare, by true wisdom. 7-9. A weak man thinks wisdom is too high for him, therefore he will take no pains for it. It is bad to do evil, but worse to devise it. Even the first risings of sin in the heart are sin, and must be repented of. Those that strive to make others hateful, make themselves so. 10. Under troubles we are apt to despair of relief. But be of good courage, and God shall strengthen thy heart. 11,12. If a man know that his neighbour is in danger by any unjust proceeding, he is bound to do all in his power to deliver him. And what is it to suffer immortal souls to perish, when our persuasions and example may be the means of preventing it? 13,14. We are quickened to the study of wisdom by considering both the pleasure and the profit of it. All men relish things that are sweet to the palate; but many have no relish for the things that are sweet to the purified soul, and that make us wise unto salvation. 15,16. The sincere soul falls as a traveller may do, by stumbling at some stone in his path; but gets up, and goes on his way with more care and speed. This is rather to be understood of falls into affliction, than falls into actual sin.In the gate - Compare the Proverbs 22:22 note. 10. Literally, "If thou fail in the day of straits (adversity), strait (or, small) is thy strength," which is then truly tested. If thou faint; if thou art impatient, and unable to bear sufferings; if thy resolution flag, and thou givest way to despondency or dejection of mind. Is small, Heb. is narrow; it lives in a little compass; it is as strait as thy condition is; for there is an elegant allusion in the Hebrew words. The sense is, This is a sign that thou hast but little Christian strength or courage, for that is best known by adversity.

If thou faint in the day of adversity,.... When under bodily afflictions, stripping providences, reduced to great straits and wants; or under the violent persecutions of men, which is sometimes the case of the people of God; whose times are in his hands, times of adversity, as well as prosperity; and which are appointed by him, when they shall come, and how long they shall last; which is but for a short time, it is but a "day", and yet they are apt to "faint" under them, through the number and continuance of their afflictions; and especially when they apprehend them to be in wrath; when they have a sense of their sins at such a time, and no view of pardon; when they are under the hidings of God's face, their prayers do not seem to be heard, and salvation and deliverance do not come so soon as they expected; which, notwithstanding, shows the truth of what is next observed;

thy strength is small; such who are truly gracious are not indeed at such times wholly without strength; they are in some measure helped to bear up; but yet their sinkings and faintings show that they have but little strength: they have some faith that does not entirely fail, Christ praying for it; yet they are but of little faith; they have but a small degree of Christian fortitude and courage; there is a want of manliness in them; they act the part of children and babes in Christ; they do not quit themselves like men, and much less endure hardness, as good soldiers of Christ, as they should; they are, Ephraim like, without a heart, a courageous one, Hosea 7:1. Some think the words have reference to what goes before, and the sense to be this, "if thou art remiss" (g); that is, if thou art careless and negligent in time of health and prosperity, in getting wisdom, as thinking it too high for thee, Proverbs 24:7; "in the day of adversity thy strength will be small"; thou wilt not have that to support thee which otherwise thou wouldest have had. Aben Ezra connects the sense with the following, "if thou art remiss", in helping and delivering thy friend in affliction, Proverbs 24:11; "in the day of adversity", or "of straitness, thy strength shall be strait"; thou shalt be left in thy distress and difficulties, and have none to help thee.

(g) "si remiseris", Tigurine version; "remissus fuisti", Pagninus, Montanus, Mercerus, Gejerus; "si remisse te geras", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; so Michaelis.

If thou {b} faintest in the day of adversity, thy strength is small.

(b) Man has no trial of his strength till he is in trouble.

10. faint] Or, art slack. The Heb. word is the same as in Proverbs 18:9.

is small] as is proved to be the case by thy “fainting” under pressure. But the proverb may mean, because of thy fainting thy strength will be small; want of courage will cause want of strength to meet the emergency. So Vulg., imminuetur fortitudo tua; and Maurer, impar eris ferendis malis. Comp. “Let us not be weary (ἐγκακῶμεν, turn cowards, lose heart, Bp Lightfoot) in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap if we faint not,” Galatians 6:9; where see note in this Series.

Verse 10. - If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small. The gnome seems to be unconnected with the preceding. There is a paronomasia between צָרָה (tsarah), "adversity," and צַר (tsar), "small," narrow, which is retained by Fleischer: "Si segnis fueris die angustiae, angustae sunt vires tuae." So we may say in English, "If thou faint in time of straitness, straitened is thy strength." If you fail, and succumb to anxiety or danger, instead of rising to meet the emergency, then you are but a weakling or a coward, and the strength which you seemed to possess and of which you boasted, perhaps, is nothing worth. Such a man hearkens not to the Sibyl's counsel (Virgil, 'AEneid,' 6:95) ?

"Tu ne cede malis, sed contra audentior ito,
Quam tua te fortuna sinet."
The LXX. again varies from the received text, "He shall be polluted in an evil day, and in a day of affliction, until he fail," or "die" (ἐκλίπῃ). Proverbs 24:10The last of these four distichs stands without visible connection:

Hast thou shown thyself slack in the day of adversity,

Then is thy strength small.

The perf. 10a is the hypothetic, vid., at Proverbs 22:29. If a man shows himself remiss (Proverbs 18:9), i.e., changeable, timorous, incapable of resisting in times of difficulty, then shall he draw therefrom the conclusion which is expressed in 10b. Rightly Luther, with intentional generalization, "he is not strong who is not firm in need." But the address makes the proverb an earnest admonition, which speaks to him who shows himself weak the judgment which he has to pronounce on himself. And the paronomasia צרה and צר may be rendered, where possible, "if thy strength becomes, as it were, pressed together and bowed down by the difficulty just when it ought to show itself (viz., להרחיב לך), then it is limited, thou art a weakling." Thus Fleischer accordingly, translating: si segnis fueris die angustiae, angustae sunt vires tuae. Hitzig, on the contrary, corrects after Job 7:11, רוּחך "Klemm (klamm) ist dein Mut" [ equals strait is thy courage]. And why? Of כסה [strength], he remarks, one can say כשׁל [it is weak] (Psalm 31:11), but scarcely צר [strait, straitened]; for force is exact, and only the region of its energy may be wide or narrow. To this we answer, that certainly of strength in itself we cannot use the word כסה drow eht esu t in the sense here required; the confinement (limitation) may rather be, as with a stream, Isaiah 59:19, the increasing (heightening) of its intensity. But if the strength is in itself anything definite, then on the other hand its expression is something linear, and the force in view of its expression is that which is here called צר, i.e., not extending widely, not expanding, not inaccessible. צר is all to which narrow limits are applied. A little strength is limited, because it is little also in its expression.

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