Proverbs 5:14
I was almost in all evil in the middle of the congregation and assembly.
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(14) I was almost in all evil . . .—Rather, I had almost fallen into every sin: I was so infatuated that I might have committed any sin, and that openly before all. Or, I might have been visited with extremest punishment at the hands of the congregation, death by stoning (Leviticus 20:10, John 8:5). The offender’s eyes are now opened, and he shudders at the thought of the still greater troubles into which he might, in his infatuation, have fallen.

5:1-14 Solomon cautions all young men, as his children, to abstain from fleshly lusts. Some, by the adulterous woman, here understand idolatry, false doctrine, which tends to lead astray men's minds and manners; but the direct view is to warn against seventh-commandment sins. Often these have been, and still are, Satan's method of drawing men from the worship of God into false religion. Consider how fatal the consequences; how bitter the fruit! Take it any way, it wounds. It leads to the torments of hell. The direct tendency of this sin is to the destruction of body and soul. We must carefully avoid every thing which may be a step towards it. Those who would be kept from harm, must keep out of harm's way. If we thrust ourselves into temptation we mock God when we pray, Lead us not into temptation. How many mischiefs attend this sin! It blasts the reputation; it wastes time; it ruins the estate; it is destructive to health; it will fill the mind with horror. Though thou art merry now, yet sooner or later it will bring sorrow. The convinced sinner reproaches himself, and makes no excuse for his folly. By the frequent acts of sin, the habits of it become rooted and confirmed. By a miracle of mercy true repentance may prevent the dreadful consequences of such sins; but this is not often; far more die as they have lived. What can express the case of the self-ruined sinner in the eternal world, enduring the remorse of his conscience!The conscience-stricken sinner had been "almost" given up to every form of evil in the sight of the whole assembly of fellow-townsmen; "almost," therefore, condemned to the death which that assembly might inflict Leviticus 20:10; Deuteronomy 22:22. The public scandal of the sin is brought in as its last aggravating feature. 14. evil—for affliction, as in Ge 19:20; 49:15. I was almost in all evil. Oh what a miserable man am I! There is scarce any misery, in respect of estate, or body, or soul, into which I am not already plunged. The words also are and may well be rendered thus, In a moment I am come into all evil. In how little a time, and for what short and momentary pleasures, am I now come into extreme and remediless misery!

In the midst of the congregation and assembly: I, who designed and expected to enjoy my lusts with secrecy and impunity, am now made a public example and shameful spectacle to all men, and that in the congregation of Israel, where I was taught better things, and where such actions are most infamous and hateful. I was almost in all evil,.... Scarce a sin but he was guilty of; contempt of private and public instructions, the instructions of parents and ministers of the Gospel, and following lewd women, commonly lead to the commission of all other sins, even the most atrocious. Some understand this, not of the evil of sin, but of the evil of punishment; and that the sense is, that there is scarce any calamity, distress, or misery, that a man can be in, but his profaneness and lewdness had brought him into; and he was just upon the brink of hell itself: and so Jarchi paraphrases it,

"there was but a step between me and hell.''

Aben Ezra observes, that the past is put for the future, "I shall be"; and then the meaning is, in a little or in a short time I shall be in complete misery; and so they are the words of one under consciousness of sin, despairing of mercy;

in the midst of the congregation and the assembly; that is, either be despised and neglected the instructions which were given in a public manner; or he committed all the evil he did openly; not only in company with wicked men, which he frequented, but even in the presence and before the people of God; yea, before the civil magistrates, the great sanhedrim, which is sometimes designed by the last word here used: or when he was in the house of God, attending public worship, his eyes were full of adultery, and his heart of impure lusts; and neither place, service, nor people of God, where he was, commanded any awe and reverence in him, nor in the least restrained his unclean thoughts and wanton desires; and which is mentioned as an aggravation of guilt. Or else the sense is, that his calamities and miseries were as public as his crimes; he was made a public example of, and all the people were witnesses of it; which served to spread his infamy, and make his punishment the more intolerable: both the sins and punishment of those that commit fornication with the whore of Rome will be public and manifest, Revelation 18:5.

I was almost in all evil in the midst of the congregation and {g} assembly.

(g) Although I was faithfully instructed in the truth, yet I almost fell to utter shame and destruction nonetheless, by good bringing up in the assembly of the godly.

14. I was almost in all evil] Ewald and other commentators take this to mean, I had a narrow escape from incurring the extreme penalty which the law of Moses prescribes for this sin (Leviticus 20:10): I almost, or well nigh, was convicted and stoned to death in public, “in the midst of the congregation and the assembly.” But the writer, if this were his meaning, has hardly chosen a happy phrase in which to convey it to us. It is better to understand the clause as added to lend aggravation to the sin, rather than to the punishment or danger. The words “congregation” and “assembly,” sometimes with the addition, “of Israel,” “of Jehovah,” “of God” (see for examples which abound in the Pentateuch, Exodus 16:3; Leviticus 4:15; Deuteronomy 31:30; Numbers 16:3; Numbers 27:17; Nehemiah 13:1), had come to be the common designation of Israel, as the people of Jehovah, the holy nation, separated from the abominations of the heathen. The Greek equivalents for these words (ἐν μέσῳ ἐκκλησίας καὶ συναγωγῆς LXX.) became naturally the titles of the Church under its Jewish and Christian aspects. To sin then “in the midst of the congregation and assembly” was to sin against light and knowledge, and to disgrace the body of which the sinner was a member. Somewhat similarly we hear it said, as an aggravation of crime or immorality, that it has been done “in a Christian country.”Verse 14. - I was almost in all evil in the midst of the congregation and assembly; i.e. such was my shamelessness that there was scarcely any wickedness which I did not commit, unrestrained even by the presence of the congregation and assembly. The fact which the ruined youth laments is the extent and audacity of his sins. It is not that he accuses himself of hypocrisy in religion (Delitzsch), but he adds another clement in his career of vice. He has disregarded the warnings and reproofs of his teachers and friends; but more, the presence of the congregation of God's people, a silent but not a less impressive protest, had no restraining effect upon him. The words, "the congregation and assembly" (Hebrew, kahal v'edah), seem to be used to heighten the conception, rather than to express two distinct and separate ideas, since we find them both used interchangeably to designate the congregation of the Israelites. The radical conception of kahal ("congregation") is the same as that of the LXX. ἐκκλήσια and Vulgate ecclesia, viz. the congregation looked upon from the point of its being called together, kahal being derived from kahal, which in hiph. is equivalent to "to call together," while that of edah is the congregation looked at from the point of its having assembled edah being derived from yaad, in niph. equivalent to "to come together." The latter will therefore stand for any assembly of people specially convened or coming together for some definite object, like the LXX. συναγώγη and the Vulgate synagoga. The term edah is, however, used in a technical sense as signifying the seventy elders, or senators, who judged the people (see Numbers 25:7; Numbers 35:12). Rabbi Salomon so explains haedah as "the congregation," in Joshua 20:6 and Numbers 27:21. Other explanations, however, have been given of these words. Zockler takes kahal as the convened council of elders acting as judges (Deuteronomy 33:4, 5), and edah as the concourse (coetus) of the people executing the condemning sentence (Numbers 15:15; cf. Psalm 7:7), and renders, "Well nigh had I fallen into utter destruction in the midst of the assembly and the congregation." Fleischer, Vatablus, and Bayne take much the same view, looking upon ra ("evil," Authorized Version) as "punishment," i.e. the evil which follows as a consequence of sin - a usage supported by 2 Samuel 16:18; Exodus 5:19; 1 Chronicles 7:23; Psalm 10:6 - rather than as evil per se, i.e. that which is morally bad, as in Exodus 32:22. Aben Ezra considers that the perfect is used for the future; "In a little time I shall be involved in all evil;" i.e. punishment, which is looked forward to prospectively. For "almost" (ki-mat, equivalent to "within a little," "almost," "nearly"), see Genesis 26:10; Psalm 73:2; Psalm 119:87. In Proverbs 5:8, one must think on such as make a gain of their impurity. מעל, Schultens remarks, with reference to Ezekiel 23:18, crebrum in rescisso omni commercio: מן denotes the departure, and על the nearness, from which one must remove himself to a distance. Regarding הוד gn (Proverbs 5:9), which primarily, like our Pracht (bracht from brechen equals to break) pomp, magnificence, appears to mean fulness of sound, and then fulness of splendour, see under Job 39:20; here there is a reference to the freshness or the bloom of youth, as well as the years, against the sacrifice of which the warning is addressed - in a pregnant sense they are the fairest years, the years of youthful fulness of strength. Along with אחרים the singulare-tantum אכזרי (vid., Jeremiah 50:42) has a collective sense; regarding the root-meaning, vid., under Isaiah 13:9. It is the adj. relat. of אכזר after the form אכזב, which is formed not from אך זר, but from an unknown verb כּזר. The ancients referred it to death and the devil; but the אכזרי belongs to the covetous society, which impels ever anew to sin, which is their profit, him who has once fallen into it, and thus brings bodily ruin upon him; they are the people who stand far aloof from this their sacrifice, and among them are barbarous, rude, inexorably cruel monsters (Unmenschen) (Graecus Venetus, τῷ ἀπανθρώπῳ), who rest not till their victim is laid prostrate on the ground and ruined both bodily and financially.
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