Like vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes, so is the sluggard to those who send him.
I. HE IRRITATES HIS EMPLOYERS. The images of the teeth set on edge, the blinded, smarting eyes, give the thought with great force and great naivete.
II. HE IS WORSE THAN USELESS. The Bible shows a great aversion from idleness, sluggishness (Proverbs 6:6, seqq.; Proverbs 12:27; 19:24; 22:13).
1. Laziness is a vice and the parent of worse.
2. The swift discharge of duty is acceptable to God and man. - J.
The difference between the righteous and the wicked lies not in the existence of these emotions of fear and hope now, but in their issue at last. In each character there are the same two emotions now; in each, at the final reckoning, one of these emotions will be realised and the other disappointed. It is not difficult to ascertain what are the chief fears and desires of a wicked man. Cleaving to his sins, he is in enmity against God. The terrors of the Lord glance from time to time like lightning in his conscience. He fears the wrath of God, and the punishment of sin. What does he desire or hope? His desire for time is the indulgence of his appetites; his desire for eternity is that there should be no God, or at least, that He should not be just to mark iniquity. What becomes of the fears of the righteous? What becomes of the darkness when the daylight shines? When Christ comes, His coming shall be morning. The saints are subject to fears. The promise to believers is not that they shall never fear; it is that the thing feared will never come upon them. Their desire is that they may be pardoned through the blood of Christ, and renewed after His image. When these are the desires of our souls, how safe we are!
The fear of the wicked, it shall come upon him; but the desire of the righteous shall be granted.
Scripture is a book full of the strongest contrasts. As in the work of an eminent painter, it contains light and shade.
I. WHO ARE THE WICKED? We must not confine our ideas to the notoriously profligate. As long as a man is uncalled of God, and unregenerate, he is a stranger to all that is truly spiritual, and knows not the true nature of sin. Malachi describes the righteous thus, "He serveth God." He describes the wicked thus, "He serveth Him not." The wicked servant "hid his Lord's talent in the earth." In the description of the sheep and goats, there is no mark of profligacy fixed on the goats. The great besetting sin of the unregenerate man is pride. Neglect of Christ, contempt of Christ, impenitence, carnality, and worldliness, God declares to be the great condemning sin of the world. Whoever and whatever the wicked may be, they must have their fear.
II. THE RIGHTEOUS AND THEIR DESIRE. Who are the righteous?? They are the justified. They are the sanctified. A man trusting to his own righteousness cannot be a holy man. The very first elements of holiness are wanting in him — humiliation before God, real acquaintance with God, real desire after God. It is a great delusion to imagine that a justified soul is not also sanctified. The activity of spiritual life shows itself in spiritual desire. It wants pardon, peace, righteousness, happiness. What encouragement does the text give to these desires? There is no limit, no exception, no peradventure. "It shall be granted."
WHO IS THE RIGHTEOUS MAN?
1. He whom God counts so.
2. He whom God makes so, by possessing him with a principle of righteousness.
3. He who is practically righteous.
II. WHAT ARE THE DESIRES OF THE RIGHTEOUS MAN?
1. Communion with God.
2. Enjoyment of holy ordinances.
3. The personal presence of the Lord (Philippians 1:23).
III. WHAT IS MEANT BY GRANTING THESE DESIRES? (Psalm 145:19; Psalm 37:4; Psalm 21:2.) The desires of God and the righteous agree together. They are the life of all their prayers, and God delights in these.
Because it is a righteous desire it is safe for God to grant it. It would be neither good for the man himself, nor for society at large, that such a promise should be made to the unrighteous. Let us keep the Lord's commands, and He will rightfully have respect to our desires. When righteous men are left to desire unrighteous desires, they will not be granted to them. But then these are not their real desires; they are their wanderings or blunders; and it is well that they should be refused. Their gracious desires shall come before the Lord, and He will not say them nay. Does the Lord deny us our requests for a time? Let the promise for to-day encourage us to ask again. Has He denied us altogether? We will thank Him still, for it always was our desire that He should deny us if He judged a denial to be best. As to some things, we ask very boldly. Our chief desires are for holiness, usefulness, likeness to Christ, preparedness for heaven. These are the desires of grace rather than of nature — the desires of the righteous man rather than of the mere man. God will not stint us in these things, but will do for us exceeding abundantly.
( )The wisest saying of a certain heathen philosopher was, "Look to the end." God asks, "What will ye do in the end?" We say, "All is well that ends well," which is true if it ends everlasting well. The text points to the issue, the upshot, the end, of two different classes of men — the wicked and the righteous; it indicates as well as expresses the "end of the wicked" — his hopes perish, his fears come upon him; the "end of the righteous" — his fears are dispelled, his hopes are consummated and realised. What a contrast! If the man hoped for nothing beyond success, prosperity, long life, fortune, fame, distinction, position, rank, renown, pleasure; when he has got them he hath his reward, what he sought, and what he desired. And now what has he left? "Vanity of vanities," if all ends here. Often such a man's hope comes to an end with reference to this world only. They try to make hope for themselves; but self-made hopes are but vain hopes. And such a man's fears are realised and accomplished. The boldest, most hardened, most sensual men, have their fears. What is a man's fear, when at last it comes upon a man? And there is the contrast in both these respects. The fears of the righteous shall all vanish. Righteous men cannot but have fears, and they are full of fears. The reward of his fears is, that they shall not come upon him. The desires of the righteous shall be granted. They may be, because they are kept in harmony with God's will, and the righteous stand in God's favour.
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