Proverbs 13

CHAPTER XIII

Various moral sentences; the wise child; continence of speech;

of the poor rich man and the rich poor man; ill-gotten wealth;

delay of what is hoped for; the bad consequences of refusing

instruction; providing for one's children; the necessity of

correcting them, &c.

NOTES ON CHAP. XIII

Verse 1. A wise son heareth his father's instruction] The child

that has had a proper nurturing, will profit by his father's

counsels; but the child that is permitted to fulfil its own will

and have its own way, will jest at the reproofs of its parents.

Verse 3. He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life] How often

have the foolish, headstrong, and wicked, forfeited their lives by

the treasonable or blasphemous words they have spoken! The

government of the tongue is a rare but useful talent.

But he that openeth wide his lips] He that puts no bounds to his

loquacity, speaks on every subject, and gives his judgment and

opinion on every matter. It has often been remarked that God has,

given us two EYES, that we may SEE much; two EARS, that we may

HEAR much; but has given us but ONE tongue, and that fenced in

with teeth, to indicate that though we hear and see much, we

should speak but little.

Verse 4. The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing] We

often hear many religious people expressing a desire to have more

of the Divine life, and yet never get forward in it. How is this?

The reason is, they desire, but do not stir themselves up to lay

hold upon the Lord. They are always learning, but never able to

come to the knowledge of the truth. They seek to enter in at the

strait gate, but are not able, because they do not strive.

Verse 7. There is that maketh himself rich] That labours hard to

acquire money, yet hath nothing; his excessive covetousness not

being satisfied with what he possesses, nor permitting him to

enjoy with comfort what he has acquired. The fable of the dog in

the manger will illustrate this.

There is that maketh himself poor, yet hath great riches.] "As

poor," said St. Paul, "yet making many rich; as having nothing,

yet possessing all things." The former is the rich poor man; the

latter is the poor rich man.

As the words are here in the hithpael conjugation, which implies

reflex action, or the action performed on one's self, and often

signifies feigning or pretending to be what one is not, or not

to be what one is; the words may be understood of persons who

feign or pretend to be either richer or poorer than they

really are, to accomplish some particular purpose. "There is

that feigneth himself to be rich, yet hath nothing; there is

that feigneth himself to be poor, yet hath great riches." Both

these characters frequently occur in life.

Verse 8. The ransom of a man's life] Those who have riches have

often much trouble with them; as they had much trouble to get

them, so they have much trouble to keep them. In despotic

countries, a rich man is often accused of some capital crime, and

to save his life, though he may be quite innocent, is obliged to

give up his riches; but the poor, in such countries, are put to no

trouble.

Verse 9. The light of the righteous rejoiceth] They shall have

that measure of prosperity which shall be best for them; but the

wicked, howsoever prosperous for a time, shall be brought into

desolation. Light and lamp in both cases may signify posterity.

The righteous shall have a joyous posterity; but that of the

wicked shall be cut off. So 1Ki 11:36: "And unto his son will I

give one tribe, that David my servant may have a light ( ner,

a lamp) always before me." 1Ki 15:4: "Nevertheless for David's

sake did the Lord give them a lamp, to set up his son after him."

See also Ps 132:17, and several other places.

Verse 10. By pride cometh contention] Perhaps there is not a

quarrel among individuals in private life, nor a war among

nations, that does not proceed from pride and ambition. Neither

man nor nation will be content to be less than another; and to

acquire the wished-for superiority all is thrown into general

confusion, both in public and private life. It was to destroy this

spirit of pride, that Jesus was manifested in the extreme of

humility and humiliation among men. The salvation of Christ is a

deliverance from pride, and a being clothed with humility. As

far as we are humble, so far we are saved.

Verse 11. Wealth gotten by vanity] Wealth that is not the result

of honest industry and hard labour is seldom permanent. All

fortunes acquired by speculation, lucky hits, and ministering to

the pride or luxury of others, &c., soon become dissipated. They

are not gotten in the way of Providence, and have not God's

blessing, and therefore are not permanent.

Verse 12. Hope deferred maketh the heart sick] When once a good

is discovered, want of it felt, strong desire for the possession

excited, and the promise of attainment made on grounds

unsuspected, so that the reality of the thing and the certainty

of the promise are manifest, hope posts forward to realize the

blessing. Delay in the gratification pains the mind; the increase

of the delay prostrates and sickens the heart; and if delay

sickens the heart, ultimate disappointment kills it. But when the

thing desired, hoped for, and expected comes, it is a tree of

life, ets chaiyim, "the tree of lives;" it comforts and

invigorates both body and soul. To the tree of lives, in the midst

of the gardens of paradise, how frequent are the allusions in the

writings of Solomon, and in other parts of the Holy Scriptures!

What deep, and perhaps yet unknown, mysteries were in this tree!

Verse 13. Whoso despiseth the word] The revelation which God has

in his mercy given to man-shall be destroyed; for there is no

other way of salvation but that which it points out.

But he that feareth the commandment] That respects it so as to

obey it, walking as this revelation directs-shall be rewarded;

shall find it to be his highest interest, and shall be in peace or

safety, as the Hebrew word may be translated.

Verse 14. The law of the wise is a fountain of life] Perhaps it

would be better to translate, "The law is to the wise man a

fountain of life." It is the same to him as the "vein of lives,"

mekor chaiyim, the great aorta which transmits the

blood from the heart to every part of the body. There seems to be

here an allusion to the garden of paradise, to the tree of lives,

to the tempter, to the baleful issue of that temptation, and to

the death entailed on man by his unwisely breaking the law of

his God.

Verse 15. The way of transgressors is hard.] Never was a truer

saying; most sinners have more pain and difficulty to get their

souls damned, than the righteous have, with all their

cross-bearings, to get to the kingdom of heaven.

Verse 17. A wicked messenger] The Septuagint: βασιλευςθρασυες,

a bold king; instead of malach, a messenger, they had

read melech, a king: but they are singular in this

rendering; none of the other versions have it so. He that betrays

the counsels of his government, or the interests of his country,

will sooner or later fall into mischief; but he that faithfully

and loyally fulfils his mission, shall produce honour and safety

to the commonwealth.

Verse 19. The desire accomplished] See on Pr 13:12.

Verse 20. He that walketh with wise men shall be wise] To walk

with a person implies love and attachment; and it is impossible

not to imitate those we love. So we say, "Show me his company, and

I'll tell you the man." Let me know the company he keeps, and I

shall easily guess his moral character.

Verse 22. A good man leaveth an inheritance] He files many a

prayer in heaven in their behalf, and his good example and

advices are remembered and quoted from generation to generation.

Besides, whatever property he left was honestly acquired, and

well-gotten goods are permanent. The general experience of men

shows this to be a common case; and that property ill-gotten

seldom reaches to the third generation. This even the heathens

observed. Hence:

De male quaesitis non gaudet tertius haeres.

"The third generation shall not possess the

goods that have been unjustly acquired."

Verse 23. That is destroyed for want of judgment.] O, how much of

the poverty of the poor arises from their own want of management!

They have little or no economy, and no foresight. When they get

any thing, they speedily spend it; and a feast and a famine make

the chief varieties of their life.

Verse 24. He that spareth his rod hateth his son] That is, if he

hated him, he could not do him a greater disservice than not to

correct him when his obstinacy or disobedience requires it. We

have met with this subject already, and it is a favourite with

Solomon. See the places referred to in the margin.

The Rev. Mr. Holden makes some sensible observations on this

passage: "By the neglect of early correction the desires

(passions) obtain ascendancy; the temper becomes irascible,

peevish, querulous. Pride is nourished, humility destroyed, and by

the habit of indulgence the mind is incapacitated to bear with

firmness and equanimity the cares and sorrows, the checks and

disappointments, which flesh is heir to."

Verse 25. To the satisfying of his soul] His desires are all

moderate; he is contented with his circumstances, and is pleased

with the lot which God is pleased to send. The wicked, though he

use all shifts and expedients to acquire earthly good, not

sticking even at rapine and wrong, is frequently in real want, and

always dissatisfied with his portion. A contented mind is a

continual feast. At such feasts he eats not.

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