The fear of the LORD prolongs life, but the years of the wicked will be shortened.
Proverbs 3:2; Proverbs 9:11; on ver. 28, see on ver. 24; Proverbs 11:7). That religion is a protector to the man of good conscience, while overthrow awaits the ungodly, again brings out an often expressed thought with emphasis (ver. 30; see on ver. 25; Proverbs 3:21). Vers, 31, 32 again contrast the speech of the good and the wicked; the former like a sappy and fruitful tree, the latter destined to oblivion; the former appealing to the sense of beauty and grace, the latter shocking by its deformity.
I. THERE IS A SAMENESS IN GOD. He does not and cannot change. He is invariable substance, unalterable will and law.
II. THERE IS A SAMENESS IN NATURE. The heavens above us, with all their worlds, the great mountains and features of the landscape, the daily sights of sunrise and evening, form and colour. Abraham and Solomon looked upon essentially the same world with ourselves.
III. THERE IS A SAMENESS IN HUMAN NATURE - its passions, strength, and weakness. The same types of character appear and reappear in every age in relatively new forms. And it is proverbial that history repeats itself.
IV. THE ESSENTIAL RELATIONS OF MAN TO GOD MUST BE THE SAME IN EVERY AGE. Hence the teacher's deliverances must constantly recur to the same great points.
V. THAT WHICH VARIES IS THE TRIVIAL OR TRANSIENT ELEMENT; THAT WHICH DOES NOT VARY IS THE SUBLIME AND THE ETERNAL.
VI. EVERY TRUE TEACHER MAY THUS VARY THE FORM OF HIS INSTRUCTION AS MUCH AS HE WILL. Let him see to it that he works in unison with God and nature, experience, the conscience, and leaves a few great impressions firmly fixed in the mind. "Line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little." - J.
The fear of the Lord prolongeth days.
1. Long life is distinctly promised in Scripture as a blessing to God's people, both in the Old and New Testaments.
2. See why long life is a blessing. Because God rewards the good works of His people. He enables them to do good works, and rewards their work. The reward is not "salvation" but "glory." Life, like health, intellect, influence, is a talent, lent to us for our Master's service and our own profit; the greater the loan the larger the profit; the longer it is in trust, the fuller the results. There are difficulties in the way of accepting this truth. One is the seemingly contradictory language of Scripture on the subject. Some passages speak of early departure as a blessing. This is true only in special cases. And we must distinguish between things good and desirable in themselves, and things which become so by God's appointment. Another objection is this — Admitting that long life is a blessing, and a promised blessing, still we do not see the fulfilment of the promise. We see young saints departing, and old sinners remaining. In reply it may be urged that, if we could take the average of life, we should find it to be in favour of godly men. And the exceptions to the rule are more apparent than real. In many cases we see only the pious death, we are not acquainted with the whole previous life. It may be that the good man, whose early death so distresses and perplexes us, has, in early life, deserved that his days should have been thus shortened. And the cases of early death are simply exceptions to a generally working law.
3. What practical bearing shall this truth have upon our lives? We have rescued this text from the strained interpretation of those who do not look on long life as in itself a blessing. We have learned the true meaning and use of this longing after life which all men feel. It is no small gain to our peace of mind, when we can see that this love of life is not always an infirmity or a sin, but that the Christian may lawfully desire long life, as a longer time of working and suffering for Christ. And such a lawful desire for long life gives the strongest motive for rightly using life as it passes.
4. The tendency of vice is to shorten men's days. The text implies that, as life is a talent given to be rightly used, so, if abused, it is taken away from the possessor. We desire a longer life for the ungodly and careless, because we know that life is an opportunity for salvation; we would give the wicked further chance of repentance.
(Abp. W. C. Magee.)
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
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