Let your eyes look right on, and let your eyelids look straight before you.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Let thine eyes look right on.—Comp. the advice of Ecclesiasticus 7:36, “Whatsoever thou takest in hand, remember the end,” and of Hebrews 12:2, to look “unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.”Proverbs 4:23. Proverbs 4:27.
and thine eyelids look straight before thee; to the precepts of the word, to observe them; to the promises of it for encouragement; to the examples of the saints gone before, as motives to excite diligence, and to exercise patience, faith, and hope; to the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ for eternal life, and to the blessed hope laid up in heaven.Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Verse 25 - Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids lock straight before thee. "To look right on" and "to look straight before one" is to fix the eyes steadily and unswervingly upon an object before them, not to allow the gaze to deflect either to the right hand or to the left. As a noun, the word nokakh, rendered "right on," signifies what is straight in front of one; adverbially, it has the same meaning as that given in the Authorized Version. The corresponding "before" (neged) is substantively the side of any object which is opposite one, and as a preposition is equivalent to "before," "in the presence of," like the Latin coram. The versions (LXX., Syriac, Targum) take nokakh in the sense of "right things:" "Let thine eyes look at right things;" contemplate them, aim at justice and equity. This meaning is given to the cognate adjective nakoakh in Proverbs 8:9; Proverbs 24:26; Isaiah 26:10; Isaiah 30:10; Isaiah 59:14; but in the Proverbs the word nokakh only occurs twice (here and ver. 21), either as an adverb, "right on," "straightforwardly," or as a preposition, "before." Look straight. Gesenius takes this verb yashar in hiph., "to make straight," as used elliptically: "Let thine eyelids direct a way before thee;" but the meaning is the same as "Let them look straight before thee." The Syriac, Gejerus, and Holden render, "Let thine eyelids direct thy way before thee;" i.e. do nothing rashly, but everything with premeditation; examine thy conduct, and see that it is right. The verb yashar has this meaning, "to direct," in Proverbs 3:6; Proverbs 11:5, but it is here used intransitively (Mercerus). Eyelids (aph'appim); so called from their fluttering, rapid motion, here used by way of poetic parallelism with "eyes." What the command inculcates is simplicity of aim or principle, singleness of motive. The moral gaze is to be steadily fixed, because if it wanders indolently, lasciviously, aimlessly, it imperils the purity of the soul. This verse may be understood, as Zockler, as containing a command levelled against dishonest practices. The man who intends to cheat his neighbour looks this way and that how he may deceive him. Such an interpretation may be maintained on the ground that the former verse is directed against falsehood in speech; this against falsehood in action. But the former view is preferable. If you wish to keep the heart, you must be guided by simplicity of aim; look not aside either to the one hand or to the other, lest you may be led astray by the seductions and temptations which imperil the onward and upward progress of the soul. The passage reminds us of the "single eye" (ἄπλους), "simple," i.e. intent on heaven and God, of Matthew 6:22.
18 And the path of the just is like the brightness of the morning light,
Which shines more and more till the perfect day.
19 The way of the wicked is deep darkness,
They know not at what they stumble.
The Hebr. style is wont to conceal in its Vav (ו) diverse kinds of logical relations, but the Vav of 18a may suitably stand before 19a, where the discontinuance of this contrast of the two ways is unsuitable. The displacing of a Vav from its right position is not indeed without example (see under Psalm 16:3); but since Proverbs 4:19 joins itself more easily than Proverbs 4:18 to Proverbs 4:17 without missing a particle, thus it is more probable that the two verses are to be transposed, than that the ו of וארח (Proverbs 4:17) is to be prefixed to דּרך (Proverbs 4:18). Sinning, says Proverbs 4:16, has become to the godless as a second nature, so that they cannot sleep without it; they must continually be sinning, adds Proverbs 4:17, for thus and not otherwise do they gain for themselves their daily bread. With reference to this fearful self-perversion to which wickedness has become a necessity and a condition of life, the poet further says that the way of the godless is כּאפלה,
(Note: In good MSS and printed copies the כ has the Pathach, as Kimchi states the rule in Michlol 45a: כל כּאפלה פתח, כל כּאבנים פתח.)
as deep darkness, as the entire absence of light: it cannot be otherwise than that they fall, but they do not at all know whereat they fall, for they do not at all know wickedness as such, and have no apprehension of the punishment which from an inward necessity it brings along with it; on the contrary, the path of the just is in constantly increasing light - the light of knowledge, and the light of true happiness which is given
(Note: Hitzig inverts the order of Proverbs 4:18 and Proverbs 4:19, and connects the כּי of 16a immediately with Proverbs 4:19 (for the way of the wicked...). He moreover regards Proverbs 4:16, Proverbs 4:17 as an interpolation, and explains Proverbs 4:16 as a gloss transforming the text of Proverbs 4:19. "That the wicked commit wickedness," says Hitzig, "is indeed certain (1 Samuel 24:14), and the warning of Proverbs 4:15 ought not to derive its motive from their energy in sinning." But the warning against the way of the wicked is founded not on their energy in sinning, but on their bondage to sin: their sleep, their food and drink - their life both when they sleep and when they wake - is conditioned by sin and is penetrated by sin. This foundation of the warning furnishes what is needed, and is in nothing open to objection. And that in Proverbs 4:16 and Proverbs 4:19 לא ירעוּ and לא ידעוּ, יכשׁולוּ and יכּשׁלוּ, נגזלה and כּאפלה seem to be alike, does not prove that Proverbs 4:16 originated as a parallel text from Proverbs 4:19 - in the one verse as in the other the thoughts are original.)
(Note: Bttcher, under 2 Samuel 23:4, explains נגהּ of the brightness striking against, conquering (cf. נגח, נגף) the clouds; but ferire or percutere lies nearer (cf. נגע, Ezekiel 17:10, נכה, Psalm 121:6, and the Arab. darb, used of strong sensible impressions), as Silius, iv. 329, says of the light: percussit lumine campos.)
used elsewhere than in the Bible, means the morning star (Venus), (Sirach 50:4, Syr.); when used in the Bible it means the early dawn, the light of the rising sun, the morning light, 2 Samuel 23:4; Isaiah 62:1, which announces itself in the morning twilight, Daniel 6:20. The light of this morning sunshine is הולך ואור, going and shining, i.e., becoming ever brighter. In the connection of הולך ואור it might be a question whether אור is regarded as gerundive (Genesis 8:3, Genesis 8:5), or as participle (2 Samuel 16:5; Jeremiah 41:6), or as a participial adjective (Genesis 26:13; Judges 4:24); in the connection of הלוך ואור, on the contrary, it is unquestionably the gerundive: the partic. denoting the progress joins itself either with the partic., Jonah 1:11, or with the participial adjective, 2 Samuel 3:1; 2 Chronicles 17:12, or with another adjective formation, 2 Samuel 15:12; Esther 9:4 (where וגדול after וגדל of other places appears to be intended as an adjective, not after 2 Samuel 5:10 as gerundive). Thus ואור, as also וטוב, 1 Samuel 2:26, will be participial after the form בּושׁ, being ashamed (Ges. 72, 1); cf. בּוס, Zechariah 10:5, קום, 2 Kings 16:7. "נכון היּום quite corresponds to the Greek τὸ σταθηρὸν τῆς ἡμέρας, ἡ σταθηρὰ μεσημβρία (as one also says τὸ σταθηρὸν τῆς νυκτός), and to the Arabic qâ'mt ‛l-nhâr and qâ'mt ‛l-dhyrt. The figure is probably derived from the balance (cf. Lucan's Pharsalia, lib. 9: quam cardine summo Stat librata dies): before and after midday the tongue on the balance of the day bends to the left and to the right, but at the point of midday it stands directly in the midst" (Fleischer). It is the midday time that is meant, when the clearness of the day has reached its fullest intensity - the point between increasing and decreasing, when, as we are wont to say, the sun stands in the zenith ( equals Arab. samt, the point of support, i.e., the vertex). Besides Mark 4:28, there is no biblical passage which presents like these two a figure of gradual development. The progress of blissful knowledge is compared to that of the clearness of the day till it reaches its midday height, having reached to which it becomes a knowing of all in God, Proverbs 28:5; 1 John 2:20.
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