Proverbs 24:31
And, see, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
24:30-34. See what a blessing the husbandman's calling is, and what a wilderness this earth would be without it. See what great difference there is in the management even of worldly affairs. Sloth and self-indulgence are the bane of all good. When we see fields overgrown with thorns and thistles, and the fences broken down, we see an emblem of the far more deplorable state of many souls. Every vile affection grows in men's hearts; yet they compose themselves to sleep. Let us show wisdom by doubling our diligence in every good thing.The chapter ends with an apologue, which may be taken as a parable of something yet deeper. The field and the vineyard are more than the man's earthly possessions. His neglect brings barrenness or desolation to the garden of the soul. The "thorns" are evil habits that choke the good seed, and the "nettles" are those that are actually hurtful and offensive to others. The "wall" is the defense which laws and rules give to the inward life, and which the sluggard learns to disregard, and the "poverty" is the loss of the true riches of the soul, tranquility, and peace, and righteousness. 30, 31. A striking picture of the effects of sloth. No text from Poole on this verse. And, lo, it was all grown over with thorns,.... Or "thistles" (y); which grow up of themselves, are the fruit of the curse, and the effect of slothfulness;

and nettles had covered the face thereof; so that nothing was to be seen but thorns and thistles, nettles and weeds; and such is the case of the souls of men when neglected, and no concern is had for them; so it is with carnal and worldly professors, who are overrun with the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things, comparable to thorns and nettles for their piercing and stinging nature, and the unfruitfulness and unprofitableness of them; such are the thorny ground hearers, Matthew 13:22; and such is the case of all unregenerate persons, whose souls are like an uncultivated field, and a neglected vineyard; in which grow naturally the weeds of sin and corruption, comparable to thorns and nettles for their spontaneous production, for the number of them, for their unfruitfulness, and for the pain and distress they bring when conscience is awakened; and because as such ground that bears thorns and nettles is nigh to cursing, and its end to be burned, which is their case; see Hebrews 6:8;

and the stone wall thereof was broken down; the fence about the fields, the wall about the vineyard, to keep out men and beasts; see Isaiah 5:2; which through slothfulness, and want of repair and keeping up, fell to decay, Ecclesiastes 10:18; and thus carnal professors and unregenerate men, having no guard upon themselves, are open and exposed to every sin, snare, and temptation; Satan has free egress and regress; the evil spirit can go out and come in when he pleases, and bring seven evil spirits more wicked than himself: indeed such is the evil heart of man that it needs no tempter; he is drawn aside of his own lust, and enticed; he is liable to every sin, and to fall into the utmost ruin; he has nothing to protect and defend him; not the Spirit, nor grace, nor power of God.

(y) "chamaeleones", Junius & Tremellius; "cardui", Piscator, Cocceius; "carduis", Michaelis, Schultens.

And, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
31. nettles] “Or, wild vetches,” R.V. marg. here and Job 30:7; Zephaniah 2:9, where the same Heb. word occurs.Verse 31. - Thorns. Kimmashon is the word here used, but the plant has not been certainly identified (comp. Isaiah 34:13). Nettles (charul). The stinging nettle is quite common in Palestine, but the plant here meant is probably the prickly acanthus, which quickly covers any spot left uncultivated (Job 30:7). Revised Version margin suggests wild vetches. Ovid, 'Trist.,' 5:12. 21 -

"Adde, quod ingenium louga rubigine laesum
Torpet, et est multo, quam fuitante, minus.
Fertilis, assiduo si non renovetur aratro,
Nil, nisicum spinis gramen, habebit ager."
So spiritual writers have used this apologue as teaching a lesson concerning the soul and the life of man, how that spiritual sloth allows the growth of evil habits, and the carelessness which maintains not the defence of law and prayer, but admits the enemy, and the result is the loss of the true riches and the perishing of the heavenly life. The two verses are thus rendered, or morally applied, in the Septuagint: "A foolish man is as a farm. and a man wanting in sense is as a vineyard; if you leave him, he will be barren, and will be altogether covered with weeds, and he will become deserted, and his fences of stone are broken down." The curse of partiality and the blessing of impartiality:

     Respect of persons in judgment is by no means good:

24 He that saith to the guilty, "Thou art in the right,"

     Him the people curse, nations detest.

25 But to them who rightly decide, it is well,

     And upon them cometh blessing with good.

Partiality is either called שׂאת פנים, Proverbs 18:5, respect to the person, for the partisan looks with pleasure on the פני, the countenance, appearance, personality of one, by way of preference; or הכּר־פּנים, as here and at Proverbs 28:21, for he places one person before another in his sight, or, as we say, has a regard to him; the latter expression is found in Deuteronomy 1:17; Deuteronomy 16:19. הכּיר (vid., Proverbs 20:11) means to regard sharply, whether from interest in the object, or because it is strange. בּל Heidenheim regards as weaker than לא; but the reverse is the case (vid., vol. i. p. 204), as is seen from the derivation of this negative ( equals balj, from בּלה, to melt, to decay); thus it does not occur anywhere else than here with the pred. adj. The two supplements delight in this בל, Deuteronomy 22:29; Deuteronomy 23:7, 35. The thesis 23b is now confirmed in Proverbs 24:24 and Proverbs 24:25, from the consequences of this partiality and its opposite: He that saith (אמר, with Mehuppach Legarmeh from the last syllable, as rightly by Athias, Nissel, and Michaelis, vid., Thorath Emeth, p. 32) to the guilty: thou art right, i.e., he who sets the guilty free (for רשׁע and צדּיק have here the forensic sense of the post-bibl. חיּב and זכּי), him they curse, etc.; cf. the shorter proverb, Proverbs 17:15, according to which a partial, unjust judge is an abomination to God. Regarding נקב (קבב) here and at Proverbs 11:26, Schultens, under Job 3:8, is right; the word signifies figere, and hence to distinguish and make prominent by distinguishing as well as by branding; cf. defigere, to curse, properly, to pierce through. Regarding זעם, vid., at Proverbs 22:14. עמּים and לאמּים (from עמם and לאם, which both mean to bind and combine) are plur. of categ.: not merely individuals, not merely families, curse such an unrighteous judge and abhor him, but the whole people in all conditions and ranks of society; for even though such an unjust judge bring himself and his favourites to external honour, yet among no people is conscience so blunted, that he who absolves the crime and ennobles the miscarriage of justice shall escape the vox populi. On the contrary, it goes well (ינעם, like Proverbs 2:10; Proverbs 9:17, but here with neut. indef. subj. as ייטב, Genesis 12:13, and frequently) with those who place the right, and particularly the wrong, fully to view; מוכיח is he who mediates the right, Job 9:33, and particularly who proves, censures, punishes the wrong, Proverbs 9:7, and in the character of a judge as here, Amos 5:10; Isaiah 29:21. The genitive connection ברכּת־טוב is not altogether of the same signification as יין הטּוב, wine of a good sort, Sol 7:10, and אושׁת רע, a woman of a bad kind, Proverbs 6:24, for every blessing is of a good kind; the gen. טוב thus, as at Psalm 21:4, denotes the contents of the blessing; cf. Ephesians 1:3, "with all spiritual blessings," in which the manifoldness of the blessing is presupposed.

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