Proverbs 25:26
A righteous man falling down before the wicked is as a troubled fountain, and a corrupt spring.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(26) A righteous man falling down before the wicked . . .—The mouth of the righteous was described (Proverbs 10:11) as a “well of life,” from the comfort and refreshment it brings to the weary- through the just and kindly counsel it offers. But if the righteous man yields to the pressure put upon him by the wicked, and through fear or favour gives up his principles, then he can no longer give forth counsel out of a pure heart; he becomes like a fountain which has been fouled by the feet of cattle drinking at it (Ezekiel 34:18), and like a corrupted spring.

Proverbs 25:26. A righteous man falling down before the wicked, &c. — When a righteous man is either allured or terrified into any sinful practice by wicked men, or into any base and servile compliance with their habits and customs, he, who by his excellent example and counsels was like a fountain, or well of life, (as the mouth of the righteous is termed, Proverbs 10:11,) sending forth refreshing streams for the benefit of many, is now corrupted and rendered useless. Or, the meaning may be, When righteous men are oppressed by the wicked, the state of that commonwealth is as deplorable as if the public fountains, from which all the people fetched their water, were corrupted, and it is a sign that the fountains of justice are poisoned.

25:19. Confidence in an unfaithful man is painful and vexatious; when we put any stress on him, he not only fails, but makes us feel for it. 20. We take a wrong course if we think to relieve those in sorrow by endeavouring to make them merry. 21,22. The precept to love even our enemies is an Old Testament commandment. Our Saviour has shown his own great example in loving us when we were enemies. 23. Slanders would not be so readily spoken, if they were not readily heard. Sin, if it receives any check, becomes cowardly. 24. It is better to be alone, than to be joined to one who is a hinderance to the comfort of life. 25. Heaven is a country afar off; how refreshing is good news from thence, in the everlasting gospel, which signifies glad tidings, and in the witness of the Spirit with our spirits that we are God's children! 26. When the righteous are led into sin, it is as hurtful as if the public fountains were poisoned. 27. We must be, through grace, dead to the pleasures of sense, and also to the praises of men. 28. The man who has no command over his anger, is easily robbed of peace. Let us give up ourselves to the Lord, and pray him to put his Spirit within us, and cause us to walk in his statutes.Falling down before - i. e., Yielding and cringing. To see this instead of stedfastness, is as grievous as for the traveler to find the spring at which he hoped to quench his thirst turbid and defiled. 26. From troubled fountains and corrupt springs no healthy water is to be had, so when the righteous are oppressed by the wicked, their power for good is lessened or destroyed. Falling down; either,

1. Into sin. So the sense is, When a just man is either allured or terrified into any sinful practice before wicked men, or into any base and servile compliance with their lusts, he who by his excellent counsels was like a fountain or well of life, as his mouth is called, Proverbs 10:11, sending forth refreshing streams for the benefit of many, is now corrupted and rendered unserviceable. Or rather,

2. Into misery, of which kind of falling this word is constantly used, and never to my remembrance of falling into sin. And so the sense is this, When righteous men are oppressed and devoured by the wicked, the state of that commonwealth is as deplorable, as if the public fountains, from whence all the people fetch their water, were corrupted, and it is a sign that the fountains of justice are poisoned.

A righteous man falling dozen before the wicked,.... Either falling into calamity and distress by means of the wicked man, through his malice and cunning, and which be seeing, rejoices at; or crouching unto him, bowing before him, yielding to him, not daring to oppose or reprove him; or falling into sin in his presence, which he ever after reproaches him for, and openly exposes him, so that his usefulness is lost; and especially if he joins with the wicked man in his course of living; and particularly if a civil magistrate, and acts unrighteously in his office: he

is as a troubled fountain, and a corrupt spring; like a spring or fountain muddied with the feet of men or beasts; so that; he who was before as a clear spring of flowing water, a fountain of justice to his neighbours, from whom good doctrine and wholesome advice flowed, is now of no use by instruction or example, but the contrary.

A righteous man falling down before the wicked is as a troubled fountain, and a corrupt spring.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
26. falling down] Better, with R.V., that giveth way, or (marg.) is moved. To see a righteous man moved from his stedfastness through fear or favour in the presence of the wicked is as disheartening, as to find the stream turbid and defiled, at which you were longing to quench your thirst.

Lord Bacon, quoted by Lange, gives the proverb a judicial application: “This proverb teaches that an unjust and scandalous judgement in any conspicuous and weighty cause is above all things to be avoided in the State.” And again, “One foul sentence doeth more hurt than many foul examples; for these do but corrupt the stream, the other corrupteth the fountain.”

troubled] Lit. trampled, i.e. fouled by the feet. Comp. Ezekiel 34:18, where the same Heb. word is used of water, with the addition of “with your feet.”

corrupt] Better, corrupted, R.V.

Verse 26. - Hebrew (see on Ver. 11), A troubled fountain, and a corrupted spring - a righteous man giving way to the wicked. A good man neglecting to assert himself and to hold his own m the face of sinners, is as useless to society and as harmful to the good cause as a spring that has been defiled by mud stirred up or extraneous matter introduced is unserviceable for drinking and prejudicial to those who use it. The mouth of the righteous should be "a well of life" (Proverbs 10:11), wholesome, refreshing, helpful; his conduct should be consistent and straightforward, fearless in upholding the right (Isaiah 51:12, etc.), uncompromising in opposing sin. When such a man, for fear, or favour, or weakness, or weariness, yields to the wicked, compromises principle, no longer makes a stand for truth and purity and virtue, he loses his high character, brings a scandal on religion, and lowers his own spiritual nature. It is this moral cowardice which Christ so sternly rebukes (Matthew 10:33), "Whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven." Some have assumed that the gnome is concerned with a good man's fall into misfortune owing to the machinations of sinners; but in this case the comparison loses its force; such persecution would not disturb the purity or lower the character of the righteous man; it would rather enhance his good qualities, give occasion for their exercise and development, and therefore could not be described as fouling a pure spring. Proverbs 25:2626 A troubled fountain and a ruined spring -

     A righteous man yielding to a godless man.

For the most part, in מט one thinks of a yielding in consequence of being forced. Thus e.g., Fleischer: as a troubled ruined spring is a misfortune for the people who drink out of it, or draw from it, so is it a misfortune for the surrounding of the righteous, when he is driven from his dwelling or his possession by an unrighteous man. And it is true: the righteous can be compared to a well (מעין, well-spring, from עין, a well, as an eye of the earth, and מקור, fountain, from קוּר, R. קר, כר, to round out, to dig out), with reference to the blessing which flows from it to its surroundings (cf. Proverbs 10:11 and John 7:38). But the words "yielding to" (contrast "stood before," 2 Kings 10:4, or Joshua 7:12), in the phrase "yielding to the godless," may be understood of a spontaneous as well as of a constrained, forced, wavering and yielding, as the expression in the Psalm בּל־אמּוט [non movebor, Psalm 10:6] affirms the certainty of being neither inwardly nor outwardly ever moved or shaken. The righteous shall stand fast and strong in God without fearing the godless (Isaiah 51:12.), unmoveable and firm as a brazen wall (Jeremiah 1:17.). If, however, he is wearied with resistance, and from the fear of man, or the desire to please man, or from a false love of peace he yields before it, and so gives way - then he becomes like to a troubled fountain (רפשׂ, cogn. רמס, Ezekiel 34:18; Isaiah 41:25; Jerome: fans turbatus pede), a ruined spring; his character, hitherto pure, is now corrupted by his own guilt, and now far from being a blessing to others, his wavering is a cause of sorrow to the righteous, and an offence to the weak - he is useful no longer, but only injurious. Rightly Lagarde: "The verse, one of the most profound of the whole book, does not speak of the misfortunate, but of the fall of the righteous, whose sin compromises the holy cause which he serves, 2 Samuel 12:14." Thus also e.g., Lwenstein, with reference to the proverb Sanhedrin 92b: also in the time of danger let not a man disown his honour. Bachja, in his Ethics, referring to this figure, 26a, thinks of the possibility of restoration: the righteous wavers only for the moment, but at last he comes right (מתמוטט ועולה). But this interpretation of the figure destroys the point of the proverb.

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