Proverbs 24:32
Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked on it, and received instruction.
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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. 32-34. From the folly of the sluggard learn wisdom (Pr 6:10, 11). I learned wisdom by his folly, and by his gross idleness was provoked to greater care and diligence. Then I saw, and considered it well,.... Or, "when I saw, I considered it well"; or "set my heart it" (z); when he saw as he passed along the field and the vineyard, he, considered who was the owner and proprietor of them; what a sluggish and foolish man he was, and what a ruinous condition his field and vineyard were in.

I looked upon it, and received instruction; looked at it again, and took a thorough view of it, and learned something from it; so great and wise a man as Solomon received instruction from the field and vineyard of the slothful and foolish man; learned to be wiser, and to be more diligent in cultivating his own field, and dressing his own vineyard: so from the view and consideration of the slothfulness and folly of unregenerate man, and of the state and condition of his soul, many lessons of instruction may be learned; as that there is no free will and wisdom in men with respect to that which is good; the ruinous state and condition of men, as being all overspread with sin and corruption, in all the powers and faculties of their souls; and that there is nothing in them agreeable to God, but all the reverse; also the necessity of divine grace to put them into a good state, and make them fruitful; moreover, the distinguishing grace of God, which makes others to differ from them; and likewise it is teaching and instructive to good men to use more diligence themselves in things relating to their spiritual good, and to the glory of God.

(z) "quum ergo contemplatus essem, adjunxi animum meum", Mercerus; "cum intuerer, apposui cor meum", Gejerus; "cum igitur viderem ego, adponebam cor meum", Michaelis.

Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked upon it, and received {k} instruction.

(k) That I might learn by another man's fault.

Verse 32. - Then I saw, and considered it well (Proverbs 22:17). I looked in this sight, and let it sink into my mind. I looked upon it, and received instruction (Proverbs 8:10). I learned a lesson from what I saw. Then follows a distich with the watchword נצחים:

26 He kisseth the lips

     Who for the end giveth a right answer.

The lxx, Syr., and Targ. translate: one kisseth the lips who, or: of those who...; but such a meaning is violently forced into the word (in that case the expression would have been שׂפתי משׁיב or שׂפתים משׁיבים). Equally impossible is Theodotion's χείλεσι καταφιληθήσεται, for ישּׁק cannot be the fut. Niph. Nor is it: lips kiss him who... (Rashi); for, to be thus understood, the word ought to have been למשׁיב. משׁיב is naturally to be taken as the subj., and thus it supplies the meaning: he who kisseth the lips giveth an excellent answer, viz., the lips of him whom the answer concerns (Jerome, Venet., Luther). But Hitzig ingeniously, "the words reach from the lips of the speaker to the ears of the hearer, and thus he kisses his ear with his lips." But since to kiss the ear is not a custom, not even with the Florentines, then a welcome answer, if its impression is to be compared to a kiss, is compared to a kiss on the lips. Hitzig himself translates: he commends himself with the lips who...; but נשׁק may mean to join oneself, Genesis 41:40, as kissing is equivalent to the joining of the lips; it does not mean intrans. to cringe. Rather the explanation: he who joins the lips together...; for he, viz., before reflecting, closed his lips together (suggested by Meri); but נשׁק, with שׂפתים, brings the idea of kissing, labra labris jungere, far nearer. This prevails against Schultens' armatus est (erit) labia, besides נשׁק, certainly, from the primary idea of connecting (laying together) (vid., Psalm 78:9), to equip (arm) oneself therewith; but the meaning arising from thence: with the lips he arms himself... is direct nonsense. Fleischer is essentially right, Labra osculatur (i.e., quasi osculum oblatum reddit) qui congrua respondet. Only the question has nothing to do with a kiss; but if he who asks receives a satisfactory answer, an enlightening counsel, he experiences it as if he received a kiss. The Midrash incorrectly remarks under דּברים נצחים, "words of merited denunciation," according to which the Syr. translates. Words are meant which are corresponding to the matter and the circumstances, and suitable for the end (cf. Proverbs 8:9). Such words are like as if the lips of the inquirer received a kiss from the lips of the answerer.

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