Proverbs 28:14
Happy is the man that feareth alway: but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief.
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(14) Happy is the man that feareth alway lest he should fall, and so, distrusting himself, seeks heavenly aid (Philippians 2:12).

He that hardeneth his heart.—(Comp. Exodus 8:15, sqq.)

Shall fall into mischief.—As he will have lost the guidance and protection of God.

Proverbs 28:14. Happy is the man that feareth always — Who, in all times, companies, and conditions, maintains in his mind a holy awe of God, and a reverence for him, his glory and majesty, his wisdom and power, his holiness and justice, his greatness and goodness; that is always afraid of offending him, and incurring his displeasure; that keeps his conscience tender, and has a dread of the appearance of evil; that is always jealous of himself, and distrusts his own sufficiency, and lives in expectation of troubles and changes; so that, when they come, they do not surprise him: he that keeps up such a fear as this in his mind, will live a life of faith, prayer, and watchfulness, and therefore he is happy, blessed, and holy; for he hereby avoids that mischief which befalls fearless and careless sinners, as is expressed in the next clause, and obtains that eternal salvation which they fall short of. But he that hardeneth his heart — That goeth on obstinately and securely in sinful courses, casting off all due reverence for God, and just fear of his threatenings and judgments; shall fall into mischief — Shall fall into still greater guilt and misery.

28:1 Sin makes men cowards. Whatever difficulties the righteous meet in the way of duty, they are not daunted. 2. National sins disturb the public repose. 3. If needy persons get opportunities of oppressing, their extortion will be more severe than that of the more wealthy. 4. Wicked people strengthen one another in wicked ways. 5. If a man seeks the Lord, it is a good sign that he understands much, and it is a good means of understanding more. 6. An honest, godly, poor man, is better than a wicked, ungodly, rich man; has more comfort in himself, and is a greater blessing to the world. 7. Companions of riotous men not only grieve their parents, but shame them. 8. That which is ill got, though it may increase much, will not last long. Thus the poor are repaid, and God is glorified. 9. The sinner at whose prayers God is angry, is one who obstinately refuses to obey God's commands. 10. The success of ungodly men is their own misery. 11. Rich men are so flattered, that they think themselves superior to others. 12. There is glory in the land when the righteous have liberty. 13. It is folly to indulge sin, and excuse it. He who covers his sins, shall not have any true peace. He who humbly confesses his sins, with true repentance and faith, shall find mercy from God. The Son of God is our great atonement. Under a deep sense of our guilt and danger, we may claim salvation from that mercy which reigns through righteousness unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord. 14. There is a fear which causes happiness. Faith and love will deliver from the fear of eternal misery; but we should always fear offending God, and fear sinning against him. 15. A wicked ruler, whatever we may call him, this scripture calls a roaring lion, and a ranging bear. 16. Oppressors want understanding; they do not consult their own honour, ease, and safety. 17. The murderer shall be haunted with terrors. None shall desire to save him from deserved punishment, nor pity him.The "fear" here is not so much reverential awe, as anxious, or "nervous" sensitiveness of conscience. To most men this temperament seems that of the self-tormentor. To him who looks deeper it is a condition of blessedness, and the callousness which is opposed to it ends in misery. 14. feareth—that is, God, and so repents.

hardeneth his heart—makes himself insensible to sin, and so will not repent (Pr 14:16; 29:1).

Happy is the man, because he shall thereby avoid that mischief which befalls fearless sinners, which is expressed in the next clause, and procure that eternal salvation which they lose.

That feareth, to wit, the offence and judgments of God; who having confessed and forsaken his sins, as was now said, is afraid to return to them again, and careful to avoid them, and all occasions of them.

Alway; in all times, companies, and conditions; not only in the time of great trouble, when even hypocrites will in some sort be afraid of sinning, but in times of outward peace and prosperity.

That hardeneth his heart; that goeth on obstinately and securely in sinful courses, casting off due reverence to God, and just fear of his threatenings and judgments.

Happy is the man that feareth alway,.... Not men, but the Lord; there is a fear and reverence due to men, according to the stations in which they are; but a slavish fear of man, and which deters from the worship of God and obedience to him, is criminal, and brings a snare; and a man, under the influence of it, cannot be happy: nor is a servile fear of God intended, a fear of wrath and damnation, or a distrust of his grace, a continual calling in question his love, and an awful apprehension of his displeasure and vengeance; for in such fear is torment, and with it a man can never be happy; but it is a reverence and godly fear, a filial one, a fear of God and his goodness, which he puts into the hearts of his people; a fear, indeed, of offending him, of sinning against him, by which a man departs from evil, and forsakes it, as well as confesses it; but is what arises from a sense of his goodness: and it is well when such a fear of God is always before the eyes and on the hearts of men; in their closets and families, in their trade and commerce, in all companies into which they come, as, well as in the house of God and the assembly of his saints, where he is to be feared; as also in prosperity and adversity, even throughout the whole course of life, passing the time of their sojourning here in fear: and such a man is happy; the eye of God is on him, his heart is towards him, and he delights it, him; his secret is with him, he sets a guard of angels about him, has laid up goodness for him, and communicates largely to him;

but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief; that hardens his heart from the fear of the Lord; neither confesses his sin, nor forsakes it; bids, as it were, defiance to heaven, strengthens and hardens himself in his wickedness, and by his hard and impenitent heart treasures up to himself wrath against the day of wrath; he falls "into evil" (k), as it may be rendered, into the evil of sin yet more and more, which the hardness of his heart brings him into, and so into the evil of punishment here and hereafter.

(k) "in malum", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, Tigurine version, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Schultens.

Happy is the man that {g} feareth always: but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief.

(g) Which stands in awe of God, and is afraid to offend him.

14. feareth] i.e. to do wrong, with a wise and godly caution. ὂς καταπτήσσει πάντα διʼ εὐλάβειαν, LXX. Comp. the N.T. use of εὐλάβεια and its cognates, Hebrews 5:7; Hebrews 11:7.

mischief] “Or, calamity,” R.V. marg.

Verse 14. - Happy is the man that feareth alway. Some have taken the fear mentioned to be the fear with which God is to be regarded. Thus Aben Ezra. But it is rather the fear of sin which is meant - that tender conscience and watchful heart which lead a man robe prepared for temptation and able to resist it when it arises. Such a one distrusts himself, takes heed lest he fall (1 Corinthians 10:12), and works out his salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12; comp. Proverbs 14:16). "Grow not thoughtless of retribution" ('Pirke Aboth,' 1:8). A horror of sin cannot be instilled too early into the young. Septuagint, "Happy is the man who piously (δἰ εὐλάβειαν) fears all things." St. Bernard ('In Cant. Serm.,' 54:9)," In veritate didici, nil aeque efficax esse ad gratiam promerendam, retinendam, recuperandam, quam si omni tempore coram Deo inveniaris non altum sapere, sed timere. Time ergo cum arriserit gratia, time cum abierit, time cum denuo revertetur; et hoc est semper pavidum esse." He that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief; or, calamity (Proverbs 17:20). A man hardens his heart who attends not to the voice of conscience, the restraints of religion, the counsel of friends, the warnings of experience (comp. ver. 26; Proverbs 29:1; Exodus 8:15; Psalm 95:8). This man scorns the grace of God, loses his protection, and must come to misery. Proverbs 28:1414 Well is it with the man who feareth always;

     But he that is stiff-necked shall fall into mischief.

The Piel פּחד occurs elsewhere only at Isaiah 51:13, where it is used of the fear and dread of men; here it denotes the anxious concern with which one has to guard against the danger of evil coming upon his soul. Aben Ezra makes God the object; but rather we are to regard sin as the object, for while the truly pious is one that "fears God," he is at the same time one that "feareth evil." The antithesis extends beyond the nearest lying contrast of fleshly security; this is at the same time more or less one who hardens or steels his heart (מקשׁה לבּו), viz., against the word of God, against the sons of God in his heart, and against the affectionate concern of others about his soul, and as such rushes on to his own destruction (יפּול בּרעה, as at Proverbs 17:20).

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