Proverbs 3:31
Envy you not the oppressor, and choose none of his ways.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
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 protest against the tendency to worship success, to think the lot of the "man of violence" enviable, and therefore to be chosen.31. oppressor—or man of mischief. The destiny of successful evildoers warns against desiring their lot (Ps 37:1, 2, 35, 36). Envy thou not the oppressor, for his impunity and success in his wicked designs, and the wealth which he gains by his unrighteous practices.

Choose none of his ways; for what men envy in others they seek to obtain for themselves. Envy thou not the oppressor,.... The man that gets wealth and riches by acts of injustice, by oppressing the poor, by rapine and violence; do not envy his prosperity, and the substance he is possessed of; do not wish to be in his place and circumstances, to enjoy his affluence and ease; do not look upon his happiness with an envious eye and a fretting heart; he is far from being a happy man; his end will be bad; see Psalm 37:1;

and choose none of his ways; which he has used to get his riches in; do not follow him in them; for should you do as he has done, and get ever so much, since this would be with the loss of your souls, of what advantage would it be? He makes the best choice that chooses the "good part" that shall not be taken away, Luke 10:42; Christ, and the ways of Christ.

{o} Envy thou not the oppressor, and choose none of his ways.

(o) Do not wish to be like him.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
31. Envy thou not] The temporal rewards of wisdom, health (Proverbs 3:8), long life (Proverbs 3:16), riches and honour (ib.), as they may be withheld from thee (Proverbs 3:11-12), so may they be surpassed by the prosperity of the wicked; but let not the comparison of thy lot with his move thee to envy, for the true reward of wisdom is higher and surer (Proverbs 3:32-35). Psalms 73. illustrates these verses.

oppressor] Lit. man of violence, R.V.Verse 31. - Envy thou not the oppressor, and choose none of his ways. The thought of strife in the preceding verse leads to that of oppression, and the precept is directed against fellowship with those who outrage the general law of benevolence and justice, Envy not; i.e. as Stuart, "Do not anxiously covet the booty which men of violence acquire." Success and wealth may follow from severity and extortion, but the man who acquires prosperity by these means is not to be envied even by the victim of his oppression (for the verb, see Proverbs 23:17; Proverbs 24:1, 19). The oppressor (ish khamas); literally, a man of violence (see margin). The expression occurs in Proverbs 14:29; Psalm 18:41, and in its plural form, ish khamamim, "man of violences," in 2 Samuel 22:49; Psalm 140:1, 4. The man of violence is one who "grinds the faces of the poor," and whose conduct is rapacious, violent, and unjust. And choose none of his ways; literally, and choose not all his ways, i.e. with a view to acquire the same wealth, greatness, and power. The LXX. renders this verse, "Do not acquire the hatred of evil men, neither be jealous of their ways," evidently from having taken tiv'khar, "choose," in the second hemistich, for tith'khan, "be jealous." But more than this, wisdom makes its possessor in all situations of life confident in God:

23 Then shalt thou go thy way with confidence,

     And thy foot shall not stumble.

24 When thou liest down, thou are not afraid,

     But thou layest thyself down and hast sweet sleep.

25 Thou needest not be afraid of sudden alarm,

     Nor for the storm of the wicked when it breaketh forth.

26 For Jahve will be thy confidence

     And keep thy foot from the snare.

The לבטח (cf. our "bei guter Laune" equals in good cheer), with ל of the condition, is of the same meaning as the conditional adverbial accusative בּטח, Proverbs 10:9; Proverbs 1:33. Proverbs 3:23 the lxx translate ὁ δὲ πούς σου οὐ μὴ προσκόψῃ, while, on the contrary, at Psalm 91:12 they make the person the subject (μήποτε προσκόψῃς τὸν κ.τ.λ.); here also we retain more surely the subject from 23a, especially since for the intrans. of נגף (to smite, to push) a Hithpa. התנגּף is used Jeremiah 13:16. In Proverbs 3:24 there is the echo of Job 11:18, and in Proverbs 3:25 of Job 5:21. Proverbs 3:24 is altogether the same as Job 5:24 : et decumbes et suavis erit somnus tuus equals si decubueris, suavis erit. The hypothetic perf., according to the sense, is both there and at Job 11:18 (cf. Jeremiah 20:9) oxytoned as perf. consec. Similar examples are Proverbs 6:22; Genesis 33:13; 1 Samuel 25:31, cf. Ewald, 357a. ערבה (of sleep as Jeremiah 31:26) is from ערב, which in Hebr. is used of pleasing impressions, as the Arab. ‛ariba of a lively, free disposition. שׁנה, somnus (nom. actionis from ישׁן, with the ground-form sina preserved in the Arab. lidat, vid., Job, p. 284, note), agrees in inflexion with שׁנה, annus. אל, Proverbs 3:25, denies, like Psalm 121:3, with emphasis: be afraid only not equals thou hast altogether nothing to fear. Schultens rightly says: Subest species prohibitionis et tanquam abominationis, ne tale quicquam vel in suspicionem veniat in mentemve cogitando admittatur. פּחד here means terror, as Proverbs 1:26., the terrific object; פּתאם (with the accus. om) is the virtual genitive, as Proverbs 26:2 חנּם (with accus. am). Regarding שׁאה, see under Proverbs 1:27. The genitive רשׁעים may be, after Psalm 37:18, the genit. subjecti, but still it lies nearer to say that he who chooses the wisdom of God as his guiding star has no ground to fear punishment as transgressors have reason to fear it; the שׁאה is meant which wisdom threatens against transgressors, Proverbs 1:27. He needs have no fear of it, for wisdom is a gift of God, and binds him who receives it to the giver: Jahve becomes and is henceforth his confidence. Regarding ב essentiae, which expresses the closest connection of the subject with the predicate which it introduces, see under Psalm 35:2. As here, so also at Exodus 18:4; Psalm 118:7; Psalm 146:6, the predicate is a noun with a pronominal suffix. כּסל is, as at Psalm 78:7; Job 31:24, cognate to מבטה and מקוה,

(Note: According to Malbim, תּקוה is the expectation of good, and כּסל, confidence in the presence of evil.)

the object and ground of confidence. That the word in other connections may mean also fool-hardiness, Psalm 49:14, and folly, Ecclesiastes 7:25 (cf. regarding כּסיל, which in Arab. as belı̂d denotes the dull, in Hebr. fools, see under Proverbs 1:22), it follows that it proceeds from the fundamental conception of fulness of flesh and of fat, whence arise the conceptions of dulness and slothfulness, as well as of confidence, whether confidence in self or in God (see Schultens l.c., and Wnsche's Hosea, p. 207f.). לכד is taking, catching, as in a net or trap or pit, from לכד, to catch (cf. Arab. lakida, to fasten, III, IV to hold fast); another root-meaning, in which Arab. lak connects itself with nak, nk, to strike, to assail (whence al-lakdat, the assault against the enemy, Deutsch. Morgenl. Zeitsch. xxii. 140), is foreign to the Hebr. Regarding the מן of מלכד, Fleischer remarks: "The מן after the verbs of guarding, preserving, like שׁמר and נצר, properly expresses that one by those means holds or seeks to hold a person or thing back from something, like the Lat. defendere, tueri aliquem ab hostibus, a perculo."

(Note: Hitzig rejects Proverbs 3:22-26 as a later interpolation. And why? Because chap. 3, which he regards as a complete discourse, consists of twice ten verses beginning with בּני. In addition to this symmetry other reasons easily reveal themselves to his penetration. But the discourses contained in chap. 1-9 do not all begin with בני (vid., Proverbs 1:20); and when it stands in the beginning of the discourse, it is not always the first word (vid., Proverbs 1:8); and when it occurs as the first word or in the first line, it does not always commence a new discourse (vid., Proverbs 1:15 in the middle of the first, Proverbs 3:11 in the middle of the fourth); and, moreover, the Hebr. poetry and oratory does not reckon according to verses terminated by Soph Pasuk, which are always accented distichs, but they in reality frequently consist of three or more lines. The rejected verses are in nothing unlike those that remain, and which are undisputed; they show the same structure of stichs, consisting for the most part of three, but sometimes also only of two words (cf. Proverbs 3:22 with Proverbs 1:9, Proverbs 1:10), the same breadth in the course of the thoughts, and the same accord with Job and Deuteronomy.)

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