Proverbs 15

CHAPTER XV

The soft answer. Useful correction. Stability of the righteous.

The contented mind. The slothful man. The fool. The covetous.

The impious. The wicked opposed to the righteous; to the

diligent; and to the man who fears the Lord.

NOTES ON CHAP. XV

Verse 1. A soft answer] Gentleness will often disarm the most

furious, where positive derangement has not taken place; one angry

word will always beget another, for the disposition of one spirit

always begets its own likeness in another: thus kindness produces

kindness, and rage produces rage. Universal experience confirms

this proverb.

Verse 2. Useth knowledge aright] This is very difficult to

know:-when to speak, and when to be silent; what to speak,

and what to leave unspoken; the manner that is best and most

suitable to the occasion, the subject, the circumstances, and

the persons. All these are difficulties, often even to the wisest

men. Even wise counsel may be foolishly given.

Verse 3. The eyes of the Lord are in every place] He not only

sees all things, by his omnipresence, but his providence is

everywhere. And if the consideration that his eye is in every

place, have a tendency to appal those whose hearts are not right

before him, and who seek for privacy, that they may commit

iniquity; yet the other consideration, that his providence is

everywhere, has a great tendency to encourage the upright, and

all who may be in perilous or distressing circumstances.

Verse 4. A wholesome tongue is a tree of life] Here again is an

allusion to the paradisiacal tree, ets chaiyim, "the tree

of lives."

Verse 8. The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination] Even the

most sedulous attendance on the ordinances of God, and performance

of the ceremonies of religion, is an abomination to the Lord, if

the heart be not right with him, and the observance do not flow

from a principle of pure devotion. No religious acts will do in

place of holiness to the Lord.

The prayer of the upright is his delight.] What a motive to be

upright; and what a motive to the upright to pray! But who is the

upright? The man who is weary of sin, and sincerely desires the

salvation of God; as well as he who has already received a measure

of that salvation. Hence it is said in the next verse, "He loveth

him that followeth after righteousness."

Verse 11. Hell and destruction] sheol vaabaddon.

Hades, the invisible world, the place of separate spirits till

the resurrection: and Abaddon, the place of torment; are ever

under the eye and control of the Lord.

Verse 13. By sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.] Every

kind of sorrow worketh death, but that which is the offspring of

true repentance. This alone is healthful to the soul. The

indulgence of a disposition to sighing tends to destroy life.

Every deep sigh throws off a portion of the vital energy.

Verse 16. Better is little with the fear of the Lord] Because

where the fear of God is, there are moderation and contentment of

spirit.

Verse 17. Better is a dinner of herbs] Great numbers of indigent

Hindoos subsist wholly on herbs, fried in oil, and mixed with

their rice.

Verse 19. The way of the slothful man is as a hedge of thorns]

Because he is slothful, he imagines ten thousand difficulties in

the way which cannot be surmounted; but they are all the creatures

of his own imagination, and that imagination is formed by his

sloth.

Verse 22. But in the multitude of counsellors]

See Clarke on Pr 11:14. But

rob yoatsim might be translated, chief or master of the council,

the prime minister.

Verse 24. The way of life is above to the wise] There is a

treble antithesis here: 1. The way of the wise, and that of the

fool. 2. The one is above, the other below. 3. The one is of

life, the other is of death.

Verse 25. The house of the proud] Families of this description

are seldom continued long. The Lord hates pride; and those that

will not be humble he will destroy.

Verse 27. He that is greedy of gain] He who will be rich;

troubleth his own house-he is a torment to himself and his

family by his avariciousness and penury, and a curse to those with

whom he deals.

But he that hateth gifts] Whatever is given to pervert judgment.

Verse 28. The heart of the righteous studieth to answer] His

tongue never runs before his wit, he never speaks rashly, and

never unadvisedly; because he studies-ponders, his thoughts and

his words.

Verse 29. The Lord is far from the wicked] He is neither near to

hear, nor near to help.

Verse 30. The light of the eyes rejoiceth the heart] Nature and

art are continually placing before our view a multitude of the

most resplendent images, each of which is calculated to give

pleasure. The man who has a correct judgment, and an accurate eye,

may not only amuse, but instruct himself endlessly, by the

beauties of nature and art.

Verse 31. The ear that heareth the reproof] That receives it

gratefully and obeys it. "Advice is for them that will take it,"

so says one of our own old proverbs; and the meaning here is

nearly the same.

Verse 32. Despiseth his own soul] That is constructively; for if

the instruction lead to the preservation of life and soul, he

that neglects or despises it throws all as much in the way of

danger as if he actually hated himself.

Verse 33. The fear of the Lord] See Clarke on Pr 1:7.

Much is spoken concerning this fear; 1. It is the beginning of

wisdom. 2. It is also the beginning of knowledge. And, 3. It is

the instruction of wisdom. Wisdom derives its most important lessons

from the fear of God. He who fears God much, is well taught.

And before honour is humility.] That is, few persons ever arrive

at honour who are not humble; and those who from low life have

risen to places of trust and confidence, have been remarkable for

humility. We may rest assured that the providence of God will

never elevate a proud man; such God beholds afar off. He may get

into places of trust and profit, but God will oust him, and the

people will curse him, and curse his memory. So will it ever be

with bad ministers and advisers of the crown.

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