Proverbs 24:31
And, lo, 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." Proverbs 24:31A Mashal ode of the slothful, in the form of a record of experiences, concludes this second supplement (vid., vol. i. p. 17):

30 The field of a slothful man I came past,

     And the vineyard of a man devoid of understanding.

31 And, lo! it was wholly filled up with thorns;

     Its face was covered with nettles;

     And its wall of stones was broken down.

32 But I looked and directed my attention to it;

     I saw it, and took instruction from it:

33 "A little sleep, a little slumber,

     A little folding of the hands to rest.

34 Then cometh thy poverty apace,

     And thy want as an armed man."

The line 29b with לאישׁ is followed by one with אישׁ. The form of the narrative in which this warning against drowsy slothfulness is clothed, is like Psalm 37:35. The distinguishing of different classes of men by אישׁ and אדם (cf. Proverbs 24:20) is common in proverbial poetry. עברתּי, at the close of the first parallel member, retains its Pathach unchanged. The description: and, lo! (הנּהו, with Pazer, after Thorath Emeth, p. 34, Anm. 2) it was... refers to the vineyard, for נדר אבניו (its stone wall, like Isaiah 2:20, "its idols of silver") is, like Numbers 22:24; Isaiah 5:5, the fencing in of the vineyard. עלה כלּו, totus excreverat (in carduos), refers to this as subject, cf. in Ausonius: apex vitibus assurgit; the Heb. construction is as Isaiah 5:6; Isaiah 34:13; Gesen. 133, 1, Anm. 2. The sing. קמּשׁון of קמּשׁונים does not occur; perhaps it means properly the weed which one tears up to cast it aside, for (Arab.) kumâsh is matter dug out of the ground.

(Note: This is particularly the name of what lies round about on the ground in the Bedouin tents, and which one takes up from thence (from ḳamesh, cogn. קבץ קמץ, ramasser, cf. the journal המגיד, 1871, p. 287b); in modern Arab., linen and matter of all kinds; vid., Bocthor, under linge and toffe.)

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