Religion, Industry, Prudence, and Honesty
Proverbs 20:12-19
The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the LORD has made even both of them.


1. Of all bodily good. The eye, the ear, with all their wondrous mechanism, with all their rich instrumentality of enjoyment, are from him.

2. Of all spiritual faculty and endowment, the analogues of the former, and "every good and perfect gift" (James 1:16). The new heart, the right mind, should, above all, be recognized as his gifts.

3. In domestic and in public life. Good counsels of Divine wisdom, and willing obedience of subjects to them, are the conditions of the weal of the state; and it may be that these are designed by the preacher under the figures of the eye and the ear.


1. Laborlousness. (Ver. 13) This is a command of God: "If any man will not work, neither let him eat;" for which the seeing eye and hearing ear are needed. Viewed in one light, of imagination, labour may appear as a curse; for it thwarts our natural indolence, our love of ease, and our sentimental views in general. But viewed in the light of actual experience, the law of labour is one of the divinest blessings of our life-constitution.

2. Honesty.

(1) Craft and trickiness exposed. (Vers. 14, 17.) Here the cunning tricks of trade are struck; in particular the arts of disparagement, by which the buyer unjustly cheapens the goods he desires to invest in. The peculiar manner in which trade is still conducted in the East, the absence of fixed prices, readily admits of this species of unfairness. But the rebuke is general.

(2) The deceptiveness of sinful pleasures. (Ver. 17.) There is, no doubt, a certain pleasure in dishonesty, otherwise it would not be so commonly practised in the very teeth of self-interest. There is a peculiar delight in the exercise of skill which outwits others. But this is only while the conscience sleeps. When it awakes, unrest and trouble begin. The stolen gold burns in the pocket; the Dead Sea fruits turn to ashes on the lips.

3. Sense and prudence. (Vers. 15, 16, 18.)

(1) Sense is compared to the most precious things. What in the affairs of life is comparable to judgment? Yet compared only to be contrasted. As the common saying runs, "There is nothing so uncommon as common sense." The taste for material objects of price may be termed universal and vulgar; that for spiritual qualities is select and refined

(2) Good sense is shown caution and avoidance of undue responsibility. This has been before emphasized (Proverbs 6:1-5; Proverbs 11:15; Proverbs 17:18). We have enough to do to answer for ourselves.

(3) Prudence in war. There are justifiable wars; but even these may be carried on with folly, reckless disregard of human life, etc. "The beginning, middle, and end, O Lord, turn to the best account!" was the prayer of a prudent and pious general.

4. Reserve with the tongue, or caution against flatterers. (Ver. 19.) The verse may be taken in both these senses. In all thoughtless gossip about others there is something of the malicious and slanderous spirit; there is danger in it. As to the listener, rather let him listen to those who point out his faults than to those who flatter. - J.

Parallel Verses
KJV: The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the LORD hath made even both of them.

WEB: The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, Yahweh has made even both of them.

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