Proverbs 5:21
For the ways of man are before the eyes of the LORD, and he ponders all his goings.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(21) For the ways of man . . .—Another reason for avoiding sin is the certainty of detection by the Judge, whose “eyes run to and fro through the whole earth” (2Chronicles 16:9), comp. Psalm 11:4.

5:15-23 Lawful marriage is a means God has appointed to keep from these destructive vices. But we are not properly united, except as we attend to God's word, seeking his direction and blessing, and acting with affection. Ever remember, that though secret sins may escape the eyes of our fellow-creatures, yet a man's ways are before the eyes of the Lord, who not only sees, but ponders all his goings. Those who are so foolish as to choose the way of sin, are justly left of God to themselves, to go on in the way to destruction.One more warning. The sin is not against man, nor dependent on man's detection only. The secret sin is open before the eyes of Yahweh. In the balance of His righteous judgment are weighed all human acts.

Pondereth - Note the recurrence of the word used of the harlot herself (see Proverbs 1:6 note): she ponders not, God does.

21. The reason, God's eye is on you, Before the eyes of the Lord; God sees all thy filthy actions, though done with all possible cunning and secrecy. He taketh an exact account of all their doings, that he may recompense them according to the kinds, degrees, numbers, and aggravations of all their unchaste actions. For the ways of a man are before the eyes of the Lord,.... Both good and bad; the ways of a chaste and virtuous man, who cleaves to his own wife and shuns the harlot, which are approved of by the Lord; and the ways of a lewd man, all the impure thoughts, desires, and contrivances of his mind, and all the steps he takes to commit lewdness, and all the filthy actions he is guilty of, these are all open and naked to the omniscient God: the adulterer seeks the twilight, and flatters himself with secrecy, not considering that the eye of God is upon him; there are many, that, were their filthy actions known to men, they would be ashamed of them; and this consideration greatly deters from them, and puts them upon secret ways of committing them; much more should the consideration of the divine omniscience weigh with them to avoid them; which is the argument here made use of;

and he pondereth all his goings; he not only sees them, but takes notice of them, and observes them, and ponders them in his mind, and lays them up there, in order to bring to an account for them hereafter; yea, he weighs them in the balance of justice, and will proportion the punishment unto them, according to the rules of it; when it must go ill with those that follow such lewd practices, Hebrews 13:4.

For the ways of man are before the {m} eyes of the LORD, and he pondereth all his goings.

(m) He declares that unless a man joins to his wife both in heart and in outward conversation, he will not escape the judgments of God.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
21. For; as an additional reason for avoiding sin.

pondereth] The primary sense of the Heb. word, which is the same as in Proverbs 5:6 of this chapter, is adhered to in R.V. text: he maketh level, i.e. however intricate and tortuous man makes them, before God’s all-seeing eye they lie spread out like a map (Hebrews 4:13). εἰς δὲ πάσας τὰς τροχιὰς αὐτοῦ σκοπεύει, LXX. It may mean, however, that God makes man’s ways level, in the sense of making them lead swiftly and surely to their appointed end (Proverbs 5:22-23). Others take it in contrast with the next verse: God makes a man’s ways level (right), but sin involves him in difficulties from which he cannot extricate himself. The derived sense pondereth (or, weigheth carefully, R.V. marg.) comes from holding the balances in weighing till the two scales are even, and so making level. Comp. Job 31:4.Verse 21. - For the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord. The obvious meaning here is that as "the eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good" (Proverbs 15:3), there is no possibility of any act of immorality escaping God's notice. The consciousness of this fact is to be the restraining motive, inasmuch as he who sees will also punish every transgression. The great truth acknowledged here is the omniscience of God, a truth which is borne witness to in almost identical language in Job: "For his eyes are upon the ways of man, and he seeth all his goings" (Job 34:21; cf. 24:23 and Job 31:4). So Hanani the seer says to Asa King of Judah, "For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth" (2 Chronicles 16:9); and Jehovah says, in Jeremiah, "For mine eyes are upon all their ways, they are not hid from my face, neither is their iniquity hid from mine eyes" (Jeremiah 16:17; cf. 32:29); and again, in Hosea, "They are before my face" (Hosea 7:2), and the same truth is re-echoed in the Epistle to the Hebrews, in all probability gathered from our passage, "All things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do" (Hebrews 4:13). The ways of man; i.e. the conduct of any individual man or woman; ish, "man," being used generically. Are before the eyes of the Lord; i.e. are an object on which Jehovah fixes his gaze and scrutiny. And he pondereth all his goings. The word "he pondereth" is in the original m'phalles, the piel participle of philles, piel of the unused kal, palas, and appears to be properly rendered in the Authorized Version. This verb, however, has various meanings:

(1) to make level, or prepare, as in Proverbs 4:26 and Proverbs 5:6;

(2) to weigh, or consider accurately, in which sense it is used here.

So Gesenius, Lee, Buxtorf, and Davidson. Jehovah not only sees, but weighs all that a man does, wheresoever he be, and will apportion rewards and punishments according to a man's actions (Patrick). The German commentators, Delitzsch and Zockler, however, look upon the word as indicating the overruling providence of God, just as the former part of the verse refers to his omniscience, and render, "he marketh out," in the sense that the Lord makes it possible for a man to walk in the way of uprightness and purity. There is nothing inherently objectionable in this view, since experience shows that the world is regulated by the Divine government, but it loses sight to some extent of the truth upon which the teacher appears to be insisting, which is that evil actions are visited with Divine retribution. The commendation of true conjugal love in the form of an invitation to a participation in it, is now presented along with the warning against non-conjugal intercourse, heightened by a reference to its evil consequences.

15 Drink water from thine own cistern,

     And flowing streams from thine own fountain.

16 Shall thy streams flow abroad,

     The water-brooks in the streets!

17 Let them belong to thyself alone,

     And not to strangers with thee.

One drinks water to quench his thirst; here drinking is a figure of the satisfaction of conjugal love, of which Paul says, 1 Corinthians 7:9, κρεῖσσόν ἐστι γαμῆσαι ἢ πυροῦσθαι, and this comes into view here, in conformity with the prevailing character of the O.T., only as a created inborn natural impulse, without reference to the poisoning of it by sin, which also within the sphere of married life makes government, moderation, and restraint a duty. Warning against this degeneracy of the natural impulse to the πάθος ἐπιθυμίας authorized within divinely prescribed limits, the apostle calls the wife of any one τὸ ἑαυτοῦ σκεῦος (cf. 1 Peter 3:7). So here the wife, who is his by covenant (Proverbs 2:17), is called "cistern" (בור)

(Note: The lxx translate ἀπὸ σῶν ἀγγείων, i.e., מכּוריך (vid., Lagarde).)

and "fountain" (בּאר) of the husband to whom she is married. The figure corresponds to the sexual nature of the wife, the expression for which is נקבה; but Isaiah 51:1 holds to the natural side of the figure, for according to it the wife is a pit, and the children are brought out of it into the light of day. Aben-Ezra on Leviticus 11:36 rightly distinguishes between בור and באר: the former catches the rain, the latter wells out from within. In the former, as Rashi in Erubin ii. 4 remarks, there are מים מכונסים, in the latter חיים מים. The post-biblical Hebrew observes this distinction less closely (vid., Kimchi's Book of Roots), but the biblical throughout; so far the Kerı̂, Jeremiah 6:7, rightly changes בור into the form בּיר, corresponding to the Arab. byar. Therefore בור is the cistern, for the making of which חצב, Jeremiah 2:13, and באר the well, for the formation of which חפר, Genesis 21:30, and כרה, Genesis 26:25, are the respective words usually employed (vid., Malbim, Sifra 117b). The poet shows that he also is aware of this distinction, for he calls the water which one drinks from the בור by the name מים, but on the other hand that out of the באר by the name נוזלים, running waters, fluenta; by this we are at once reminded of Sol 4:15, cf. 12. The בור offers only stagnant water (according to the Sohar, the בור has no water of its own, but only that which is received into it), although coming down into it from above; but the באר has living water, which wells up out of its interior (מתּוך, 15b, intentionally for the mere מן), and is fresh as the streams from Lebanon (נזל, properly labi, to run down, cf. אזל, placide ire, and generally ire; Arab. zâl, loco cedere, desinere; Arab. zll, IV, to cause to glide back, deglutire, of the gourmand). What a valuable possession a well of water is for nomads the history of the patriarchs makes evident, and a cistern is one of the most valuable possessions belonging to every well-furnished house. The figure of the cistern is here surpassed by that of the fountain, but both refer to the seeking and finding satisfaction (cf. the opposite passage, Proverbs 23:27) with the wife, and that, as the expressive possessive suffixes denote, with his legitimate wife.

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