For they sleep not, except they have done mischief; and their sleep is taken away, unless they cause some to fall.
It is of the wicked that Solomon here speaks. What a restlessness does this indicate! What a zeal in a bad cause! The subject suggested by the text is the restless activity of evil men in the propagation of evil. A man is accountable for his creed as well as for his practice — accountable inasmuch as it must be through his own fault that he believes what is false just as much as it is through his own fault that he does what is wrong. This takes all force from the objection that they who sleep not except they bring over others to what themselves hold to be true are performing a duty rather than committing a sin. It would seem as though error were far more energetic than truth. Why should falsehood be thus zealous in diffusing itself? Allowing that it sets an example, allowing that it addresses a rebuke to truth, how are we to account for its being so surprisingly energetic and devoted? The holder of falsehood may make religion a matter of party. Error is that which the warmest adherent may support from pride, or jealousy, or ambition, but truth is that which can enlist these passions in none but the hypocrite. Error can work on all the corruptions of our nature, whereas truth has to hold these corruptions in check. That falsehood should have a missionary spirit follows on the fact of its being falsehood, and therefore forced to lean upon others for support.
(H. Melvill, B.D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For they sleep not, except they have done mischief; and their sleep is taken away, unless they cause some to fall.