Proverbs 3:27
Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it.
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(f) Sixth Discourse:Exhortation to Charity, Peace, Contentment (Proverbs 3:27-35).

(27) Them to whom it is due—i.e., the poor and needy. An exhortation to us to make to ourselves “friends of the mammon of unrighteousness” (uncertain riches, Luke 16:9), remembering that we are not absolute owners, but “stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1Peter 4:10), so that when we “fail,” i.e., die, “they,” the friends we have made by our liberality, may welcome us to heaven.

Proverbs 3:27-28. Withhold not good — Do not deny it, but readily and cheerfully impart it; from them to whom it is due — Hebrew, מבעליו, literally, from the lords, or owners of it: which some refer to the restitution of goods gained unjustly; but the connection requires that we understand the clause in a more extensive sense. The good here spoken of must be considered as being applicable to any thing that is good, either counsel, comfort, reproof, or the good things of the present life. And by the lords, or owners of it, we must understand those who have any kind of right to it, whether by the law of justice and equity, or by the great and sovereign law of love, which God hath written on the hearts of men by nature, and hath frequently and solemnly enjoined in his word. So that this place not only commands the payment of just debts, and the restitution of things taken from others by fraud or violence, or of things committed to our trust; but it obliges every man, according to his ability and opportunity, to pity and relieve such as are in real want or misery, and to do all the good in his power, temporal or spiritual, to his fellow-creatures. Say not, &c. — The preceding verse forbade the denial, and this forbids the delay of this duty; unto thy neighbour — Unto any man, as the word neighbour is commonly used in Scripture; Go, and come again to-morrow, and I will give — Namely, what is thy due, in the manner before expressed, or what thou needest; for the word נתן, here used, is generally meant of free or charitable gifts, and not of debts due in justice or equity.

3:27-35 Our business is to observe the precepts of Christ, and to copy his example; to do justice, to love mercy, and to beware of covetousness; to be ready for every good work, avoiding needless strife, and bearing evils, if possible, rather than seeking redress by law. It will be found there is little got by striving. Let us not envy prosperous oppressors; far be it from the disciples of Christ to choose any of their ways. These truths may be despised by the covetous and luxurious, but everlasting contempt will be the portion of such scorners, while Divine favour is shown to the humble believer.A marked change in style. The continuous exhortation is replaced by a series of maxims.

From them to whom it is due - literally, as in the margin. The precept expresses the great Scriptural thought that the so-called possession of wealth is but a stewardship; that the true owners of what we call our own are those to whom, with it, we may do good. Not to relieve them is a breach of trust.

27, 28. Promptly fulfil all obligations both of justice and charity (compare Jas 2:15, 16). Withhold not good; do not deny it, but readily and cheerfully impart it, which is implied in the contrary, as above, Proverbs 3:11, and oft in this book, as we shall see. Good; any thing which is good; either spiritually, as counsel, comfort, reproof, &c.; or civilly, the good things of the present life, as good is taken, Psalm 4:6, called this world’s good, 1Jo 3:17.

From them to whom it is due, Heb. from the lords or owners of it; from those who have any kind of right to it; either,

1. By the law of justice and equity, prescribed both by the natural and written laws of God, and by the civil laws of men. So this place commands the payment of just debts, and the restitution of things either found or committed to our trust, or taken from others by fraud or violence. Or,

2. (which seems to be chiefly intended by comparing this with the next verse, though the former is not to be excluded,) By that great and sovereign law of love or charity, which God hath written in the hearts of men by nature, and frequently and severely enjoined in his word, whereby every man is obliged according to his ability and opportunity, to pity and relieve such as are in real want or misery; who in that case are here called the owners of our goods, not in respect of men, as if men in want might seize upon the riches of others, but in respect of God, who is the sovereign Lord and only true Proprietary of all men’s estates, who giveth them when and to whom he pleaseth, and who doth not give away his right, nor make men absolute lords of them to dispose them as they will, but only allows them the use and comfort of them upon such conditions, and with such reservations and rent charges, as I may call them, as he hath appointed, whereof this is one, that men should readily and freely communicate them to other men who need and require their help. And such actions, though they be acts of charity and bounty to men, yet, as to God, they are acts of righteousness, as they are called, Proverbs 11:18 2 Corinthians 9:9, and in many other places.

To do it; either,

1. To withhold it. Or,

2. To do good. And this clause may be added, either,

1. As a limitation, to intimate that God expects from men according to what they have, and not according to what they have not, as is said, 2 Corinthians 8:12. Or,

2. As an argument to persuade them to partake the present season to perform this duty, when they are capable of so doing, because by the changes of this world, and the course of Divine providence, they may be disenabled from the performance of this great and necessary duty, and then they will be without excuse.

Withhold not good from them to whom it is due,.... Honour, reverence, and tribute, to civil magistrates, Romans 13:7; just payment of debts to creditors, and alms to the poor, which, by what follows, seems to be chiefly intended; and the Septuagint render it,

"do not abstain to do well to the needy;''

and Aben Ezra interprets it of the poor; to them alms are due because of their wants, and by the appointment; of God; hence called "righteousness", in some copies of Matthew 6:1; so money kept from the poor "mammon of unrighteousness", Luke 16:9. They are, as the word in the Hebrew text signifies, "the owners thereof" (h): rich men are not so much proprietors of good things as they are God's alms givers or stewards to distribute to the poor; and, as often as men have opportunity, they should do good in this way to all, especially to the household of faith, Galatians 6:10; this will hold true, as of temporal good things, so of spiritual; as good advice, exhortation, and doctrine. The Vulgate Latin version is, "do not forbid him to do well that can"; which sense is favoured by Jarchi: and as we should not abstain from doing good ourselves, so neither should we forbid, hinder, or discourage others; but the former sense is best;

when it is in the power of thine hand to do it; not to hinder others, as Jarchi, but to do good; when a man has a sufficiency in his hands to do good with; has not only enough for himself and his family, but something to spare; when he has both opportunity and ability; and when he can do it at once and without delay, as follows.

(h) "a dominis suis", Vatablus, Mercerus, Gejerus, Michaelis.

Withhold not good from {m} them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it.

(m) Not only from them to whom the possession belongs but also you shall not keep it from them who have need of the use of it.

27. them to whom it is due] Lit. the lords, or owners thereof, as A.V. marg. This may be either a precept of honesty, pay your just debts; or of benevolence, you are a steward and your wealth belongs not to you but to the poor and needy, for whose benefit you hold it. Comp. 1 Peter 4:10. So LXX. μὴ ἀπόσχῃ εὖ ποιεῖν ἐνδεῆ; and the Vulg. benefacere.

Verses 27-35. - 6. Sixth admonitory discourse. In this discourse the teacher still carries on his object, which is to demonstrate the conditions upon which true wisdom and happiness are to be attained. The discourse differs from the preceding in consisting of detached proverbs, and may be divided into two main sections - the first (vers. 27-30) enjoining benevolence, that love to one's neighbour which is the fulfilling of the Law; the second warning against emulating the oppressor and associating with him, because of the fate of the wicked (vers. 31-35). It is observable that all the maxims have a negative form, and thus present a striking contrast to the form adopted by our Lord in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5.), and to the admonitions at the close of St. Paul's Epistles. In one instance in particular (ver. 30), the teaching does not reach the high moral standard of the gospel (see Delitzsch and Lange). Verse 27. - Withhold not good from them to whom it is due. This precept indicates the general principle of beneficence, and not merely, as the words at first sight seem to imply, restitution (as Cajet.). We are to do good to those who are in need or deserving of it, whenever we have the means and opportunity. From them to whom it is due (nib'alayv); literally, from its owner, from baal, dominus, "lord" or owner of a thing. Cf. Proverbs 16:22, "Prudence is a fountain of life to its owner (b'alayv);" 1:19; 17:8; and also Ecclesiastes 8:8; Ecclesiastes 7:12; - in all of which passages proprietorship in the thing or quality mentioned is expressed. The owners of good are those to whom good is due or belongs either by law or by morality, whether by desert or need. The latter qualification is the one emphasized in the LXX, Μὴ ἀπόσχῃ ε΅ν ποιεῖν ἐνδεῆ, "Abstain not from doing good to the needy." So the Arabic pauperi. The Targum and Syriac put the precept in more general terms, "Cease not to do good," without indicating in particular anyone who is to be the recipient of the good. But the Jewish interpreters generally (e.g. Ben Ezra) understand it of the poor, egentibus. The Vulgate puts an entirely different interpretation on the passage: Noli prohibere benefacere eum qui potest; si vales, et ipse benefac, "Do not prohibit him who can from doing good; if you are able, do good also yourself." It thus implies that we are to put no impediment in the way of any one who is willing to do good to others, and enjoins the duty on ourselves also. Good (tov); i.e. "good" under any form, any good deed or act of beneficence. The principle brought forward in this passage is that what we possess and is seemingly our own is in reality to be regarded as belonging to others. We are only stewards of our wealth. In the power of thine hand (lel yad'yka); literally, in the power of thine hands. For the dual, yad'yka, the Keri substitutes the singular, yad'ka, to harmonize it with the similar expression, lel yadi, "in the power of thy hand," which occurs in Genesis 31:27; Deuteronomy 28:32; Nehemiah 5:5; Micah 2:1. But there is no grammatical need for the emendation. Both the LXX. and Targum employ the singular, "thy hand." Power (el); here "strength" in the abstract. Usually it means "the strong," and is so used as an appellation of Jehovah. though, as Gesenius says, those little understand the phrase who would render el here "by God." The לְ prefixed to el indicates the condition. The meaning of the phrase is, "While it is practicable, and you have the opportunity and means of doing good, do it." Do not defer, but do good promptly. The passage receives a remarkable illustration in the language of St. Paul, "While we have opportunity, let us do good unto all men" (Galatians 6:10). Proverbs 3:27The first illustration of neighbourly love which is recommended, is readiness to serve:

27 Refuse no manner of good to him to whom it is due

     When it is in thy power to do it.

28 Say not to thy neighbour, "Go, and come again,

     To-morrow I will give it," whilst yet thou hast it.

Regarding the intensive plur. בּעליו with a sing. meaning, see under Proverbs 1:19. The form of expression without the suffix is not בּעלי but בּעל טוב; and this denotes here, not him who does good (בעל as Arab. dhw or ṣaḥab), but him to whom the good deed is done (cf. Proverbs 17:8), i.e., as here, him who is worthy of it (בעל as Arab. âhl), him who is the man for it (Jewish interp.: מי שׁהוא ראוי לו). We must refuse nothing good (nothing either legally or morally good) to him who has a right to it (מנע מן as Job 22:7; Job 31:16),

(Note: Accentuate אל־תמנע טוב, not אל־תמנע־טוב. The doubling of the Makkeph is purposeless, and, on the contrary, the separating of טוב from מבעליו by the Dechi (the separating accent subordinate to Athnach) is proper. It is thus in the best MSS.)

if we are in a condition to do him this good. The phrase ישׁ־לאל ידי, Genesis 31:29, and frequently, signifies: it is belonging to (practicable) the power of my hand, i.e., I have the power and the means of doing it. As זד signifies the haughty, insolent, but may be also used in the neuter of insolent conduct (vid., Psalm 19:14), so אל signifies the strong, but also (although only in this phrase) strength. The Keri rejects the plur. ידיך, because elsewhere the hand always follows לאל in the singular. But it rejects the plur. לרעיך (Proverbs 3:28) because the address following is directed to one person. Neither of these emendations was necessary. The usage of the language permits exceptions, notwithstanding the usus tyrannus, and the plur. לרעיך may be interpreted distributively: to thy fellows, it may be this one or that one. Hitzig also regards לרעיך as a singular; but the masc. of רעיה, the ground-form of which is certainly ra‛j, is רעה, or shorter, רע. לך ושׁוּב does not mean: forth! go home again! but: go, and come again. שׁוּב, to come again, to return to something, to seek it once more.

(Note: Thus also (Arab.) raj' is used in Thaalebi's Confidential Companion, p. 24, line 3, of Flgel's ed. Admission was prevented to one Haschmid, then angry he sought it once more; he was again rejected, then he sought it not again (Arab. flm yraj'), but says, etc. Flgel has misunderstood the passage. Fleischer explains raj', with reference to Proverbs 3:28, by revenir la charge.)

The ו of ישׁו אתּך is, as 29b, the conditional: quum sit penes te, sc. quod ei des. "To-morrow shall I give" is less a promise than a delay and putting off, because it is difficult for him to alienate himself from him who makes the request. This holding fast by one's own is unamiable selfishness; this putting off in the fulfilment of one's duty is a sin of omission - οὐ γὰρ οἶδας, as the lxx adds, τὶ τέξεται ἡ ἐπιοῦσα.

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