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The advantages of the]


of thy household, and for the maintenance for thy maidens. (E)



THE wicked flee when no man pursueth but the righteous are bold as a lion.

2 For the transgression of a land many are the princes thereof: but by a man of understanding and knowledge the state thereof shall be prolonged. :

3 A poor man that oppresseth the poor is like a sweeping rain which leaveth no food.

4 They that forsake the law praise the wicked but such as keep the law contend with them.

5 Evil men understand not judgment but they that seek the LORD understand all things.


[righteous over the wicked,

6 Better is the poor that walketh in his uprightness, than he that is perverse in his ways, though he be rich.

7 Whoso keepeth the law is a wise son: but he that is a companion of riotous men shameth his father.

8 He that by usury and unjust gain increaseth his substance, he shall gather it for him that will pity the poor.

9 He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.

10 Whoso causeth the righteous to go astray in an evil way, he shall fall himself into his own pit: but the upright shall have good things in possession.

11 The rich man is wise in his own conceit; but the poor that hath understanding searcheth him out.


(E) Cautions against presumption, selfconceit, &c.-The first maxim is a most excellent admonition against vain confidence, and is beautifully amplified by St. James, (chap. iv. 13-15.) who shows the folly of anticipating futurity.

Forsake not thy father's friend," is a maxim of such worth, that Solomon's own son, Rehoboam, lost five-sixths of his kingdom by neglecting it. (1 Kings xii. 6-14.) Friendship is undoubtedly a Christian, as well as a moral virtue: but why does Solomon advise," Go not into thy brother's house in the day of thy calamity?" obviously because a neighbour that is nigh at hand, is better to apply to than a distant relative. But there is a friendship much to be suspected. When men make a great ado with the public profession of their attachment, there is much reason to ques tion their sincerity; and to consider it rather as a curse than as a blessing. And "a contentious woman" is like an ostentatious friend: whosoever attempts to silence her, may as well hush the wind, or stop the spreading of perfume which he grasps within his hand. Yet many are the advantages of society; for" as iron sharpeneth iron," (two knives, for instance, whetted against each other)" so doth the

countenance of a man his friend. There are advantages in familiar and instructive conversation, even beyond the study of books themselves: it tends to sharpen the wits and to brighten the countenance of both parties.

With this we are disposed to connect the 19th verse, which has been variously interpreted. Our translators render it," As in water face (answereth) to face, so doth the heart of man to man." Le Clerc, Durell, and many others, understand this of a man's actions discovering his heart; but Boothroyd, explains it thus; that "there are the same natural powers and affections in one man as in another; and the same depravity is alike found in the hearts of all." This also accords with the remark of Bp. Patrick, that "a man may see himself while he looks at other men, as well as know other men by considering his own feelings." Now it is by conversation and friendly communion with each other, that we find out that God hath fashioned our hearts alike, (Ps. xxxiii. 13.) and that sin has alike depraved them.

This chapter concludes with a strong recommendation to rear flocks, which, from the time of the patriarchs, formed the favourite occupation of the Hebrews.(Gen. xlvii. 3.)


CHAP. XXVIII. Ver. 2. By a man-Heb. “By men of understanding," &c.

Ver.3. Which leaveth no food-Heb. "No bread;" i. e. which sweeps away all the crops.

Ver. 7. He that is a companion of-Heb. "He

that feedeth" riotous men: Heb. "Gluttons;** Hodgson, Parasites."

Ver. 9. His prayer .... abomination-See cb.

xv. 8.-xxi. 27.

Ver. 11. Conceit Heb, "Eyes."

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12 When righteous men do rejoice, there is great glory: but when the wicked rise, a man is hidden.

13 He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.

14 Happy is the man that feareth alway but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief.

15 As a roaring lion, and a ranging bear; so is a wicked ruler over the poor people.

16 The prince that wanteth understanding is also a great oppressor: but he that hateth covetousness shall prolong his days.

17 A man that doeth violence to the blood of any person shall flee to the pit; let no man stay him.

18 Whoso walketh uprightly shall be saved: but he that is perverse in his ways shall fall at once.

19 He that tilleth his land shall have plenty of bread: but he that followeth after vain persons shall have poverty enough.

20 A faithful man shall abound


[over bad ones.

with blessings: but he that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent.

21 To have respect of persons is not good: for, for a piece of bread that man will transgress.

22 He that hasteth to be rich hath an evil eye, and considereth not that poverty shall come upon him.

23 He that rebuketh a man afterwards shall find more favour than he that flattereth with the tongue.

24 Whoso robbeth his father or his mother, and saith, It is no transgression; the same is the companion of a destroyer.

25 He that is of a proud heart stirreth up strife: but he that putteth his trust in the LORD shall be made fat.

26 He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.

27 He that giveth unto the poor shall not lack: but he that hideth his eyes shall have many a curse.

28 When the wicked rise, men hide themselves: but when they perish, the righteous increase. (F)


(F) General observations on the advantuges of the righteous over the wicked.The wicked man is a coward, "he fleeth when no man pursueth;" and yet, like most cowards, when he gets into power, he is a tyrant, like "a roaring lion and a raging bear:" yea, he is like "a sweeping rain," which destroys the fruits of the earth, and leaveth no food." On the other hand," the righteous is bold as a lion;" but his boldness groweth not to impiety; "he confesseth and forsaketh his sin, and feareth alway to offend his Maker.

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When it is said, (ver. 14.) "Happy is the man that feareth always," we must not consider it as a blessing either upon the timid or cowardly; but upon the prudent and cautious: uuless we apply it to the fear of God, and then it means a reverential fear of offending the Almighty.

Mr. Henry has some excellent remarks upon the 21st verse: "To have respect of persons is not good;" from which we shall extract the outline only. 1. "It is a fundamental error (says he) in the administration of judgment, to consider the parties concerned more than the merits of the cause; so as to favour one because he is a A great part of this chapter may be con- gentleman, or my countryman, or my sidered as referring to Scripture politics; friend, &c. 2. Those that are partial will "For (or by) the transgression of a land,' be paltry. Having broken through the that is, of a people, they become divided bounds of equity, at first, perhaps, for into many petty states, under separate some great sum, they will at length stoop chiefs; but by a man (or men) of un- to receive any paltry bribe, here called derstanding the state may (notwithstand-contemptuously "a morsel of bread." ing) be prolonged."



Ver. 12. A man is hidden-Parkhurst and BoothToud," Stript" Gesenius and Holden, "Concealed." Ver. 20. Not be innocent -Heb. "Not go unpunished."

Ver, 22. He that hasteth, &c.-Marg, "He that

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Observations on government,] PROVERBS.


HE, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.

2 When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn. 3 Whoso loveth wisdom rejoiceth his father but he that keepeth company with harlots spendeth his sub


4 The king by judgment establisheth the land but he that receiveth gifts overthroweth it.

5 A man that flattereth his neighbour spreadeth a net for his feet.

6 In the transgression of an evil man there is a snare: but the righteous doth sing and rejoice.

7 The righteous considereth the cause of the poor: but the wicked regardeth not to know it.

8 Scornful men bring a city into a snare but wise men turn away wrath. 9 If a wise man contendeth with a foolish man, whether he rage or laugh, there is no rest.

10 The bloodthirsty hate the upright but the just seek his soul.

[on virtues and vices.

the poor, his throne shall be established for ever.

15 The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.

16 When the wicked are multiplied, transgression increaseth: but the righteous shall see their fall.

17 Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul.

18 Where there is no vision, the people perish but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.

19 A servant will not be corrected by words for though he understand he will not answer.

20 Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? there is more hope of a fool than of him.

21 He that delicately bringeth up his servant from a child, shall have him become his son at the length.

22 An angry man stirreth up strife, and a furious man aboundeth in transgression.

23 A man's pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit.

24 Whoso is partner with a thief, hateth his own soul: he heareth curs ing, and bewrayeth it not.

11 A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till after- 25 The fear of man bringeth a wards. snare: but whoso putteth his trust in 12 If a ruler hearken to lies, all his the LORD shall be safe. servants are wicked.

13 The poor and the deceitful man meet together: the LORD lighteneth both their eyes.

14 The king that faithfully judgeth

26 Many seek the ruler's favour; but every man's judgment cometh from the LORD.

27 An unjust man is an abomination to the just; and he that is upright


CHAP. XXIX. Ver. 1. He that being often reproved-Heb. "A man of reproofs."- -Hardeneth his neck.-See Isa. xlviii. 4.


Ver. 2. In authority-Marg. "Increased." Hebrew may refer to their increase either in number or in power.

Ver. 4. He that receiveth gifts-Heb. "A man of oblations." When causes were heard by the principal priests, it is probable they were sometimes bribed by the oblations offered at the tabernacle; and this term continued to be applied to bribes of the secular judges.

Ver. S. Bring a city into a snare-Marg. "Set a eity on fire" Bp. Lowth," Inflame a city;" i. e. the inhabitants, which appears to be the true sense.

Ver. 10. The blood thirsty-Heb. Men of blood." Ver. 13, The deceitful-Marg. "The usurer;'' i, e.

the covetous lender, who is always an oppressor. Ver. 18. The people perish-Marg. Is made naked;" i. e. are stripped of all religion and good morals, as we see the heathen are. They "apostatize;" so Parkhurst.

Ver. 19. A servant-that is, a wicked servant; a Canaanitish slave, probably.

Ver. 20. In his words-Marg. "Matters;" the Hebrew comprehends both words and things: a man always in a hurry, speaks and nets before he thinks Ver. 21. Become his son- that is, act with adthority.

Ver. 24. He heareth cursing.-These banditti were bound together by oaths and imprecations, Ver. 25. Shall be safe-Heb. Set on high." Ver. 26. The ruler's favor- Heb, “Face,”

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in the way is abomination to the wicked. (G)


THE words of Agur, the son of Jakeh, even the prophecy: the man spake unto Ithiel, even unto Ithiel and Ucal;

2 Surely I am more brutish than any man, and have not the understanding of a man.

3 I neither learned wisdom, nor have the knowledge of the holy.

4 Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? who hath gathered the wind in his fists? who hath bound the waters in a garment? who hath established all the ends of the earth? what is his name, and what is his son's name, if thou canst tell?


[of Agur.

5 Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.

6 Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found à liar.

7 Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die: 8 Remove far from me vanity and lies; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me:

9 Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.

10 Accuse not a servant unto his master, lest he curse thee, and thou be found guilty. 11 There is


(G) Observations on government, and on certain virtues and vices.-Solomon often inculcates the importance of wisdom, integrity and justice in magistrates and rulers. The national happiness depends upon it, and the people rejoice when such men are elevated to distinction; whereas "when the wicked bear rule, the people mourn." This is particularly the case as to the poor for "the righteous considereth their cause," while the wicked regard not to know it." Their object is, not to investigate the merits of the case before them; but to secure the presents, or bribes, by which judges are too generally influ enced in arbitrary countries, where their will is the only law.


"Scornful men, haughty and angry in their temper, inflame a whole city, whereas wise men seek to preserve peace, and avert wrath. But in contending in judgment with the perverse and obstinate, even a wise man stands little chance of success; for whether the former be in a vein of passion or of ridicule, he will not be pacified; and however the latter may have


a generation that

the advantage in argument, the fool will often carry his point by dint of violence and noise it is useless to reason with a fool in power. When, however, the poor man and the oppressor shall meet together before their Maker, (chap. xxii. 2.) then the Lord will" enlighten both their eyes;" and they will see that there is "a God that judgeth righteously," and will reward them both according to their works.

With one important verse which we have passed over, (ver. 18.) we shall conclude our observations on this chapter: "Where there is no (prophetic) vision," no divine revelation, there the people become corrupt, and "perish." This we remark, not merely to recollect our own obligations to the word of God; but also to excite our zeal in communicating that word to others. Always, however, let us recollect, and press on others, this important maxim, that no religion is useful that is not practical: "He that keepeth the law, happy is he!" "If ye know these things (said our Lord to his disciples) happy are ye if ye do them!" (John xiii. 17.)


CHAP. XXX. Ver. 1, Agur. — This name does not occur elsewhere; but we read of one Ithiel, in Neh. xi. 7The prophecy-Heb. Massa; literally, "the burden ;"' i. e. a weighty and important saying, er discourse, delivered by divine authority, and in the prophetic style: an oracle. So Bp. Lowth.

Ver. 2. Brutish-Like a dumb brute, unintelligent and antaught. See Ps. xlix. 10.-xcii. 6.zeiv. 8, &c.

Ver. 3. Nor have (Heb. "know") the knowledge of the holy-those educated for the sacred offices. Ver. 4. Who hath ascended? &c.-- Deut. xxx. 12. -Who hath gathered the wind? - Job xxxviii.

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curseth their father, and doth not bless their mother.

12 There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness.

13 There is a generation, O how lofty are their eyes! and their eyelids are lifted up.

14 There is a generation, whose teeth are as swords, and their jaw teeth as knives, to devour the poor from off the earth, and the needy from among men.

15 The horse-leech hath two daughters, crying, Give, give. There are three things that are never satisfied, yea, four things say not, It is enough:

16 The grave; and the barren womb; the earth that is not filled with water; and the fire that saith not, It is enough.

17 The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall

eat it.

[of Agur.

[Omit, and pass to Ver. 21.]

18 There be three things which are too wonderful for me, yea, four which I know not: 19 The way of an eagle in the air; the way of a serpent upon a rock; the way of a ship in the midst of the sea; and the way of a man with a maid. 20 Such is the way of an adulterous woman; she eateth, and wipeth her mouth, and saith, I have done no wickedness.

21 For three things the earth is disquieted, and for four which it cannot bear:

22 For a servant when he reigneth; and a fool when he is filled with meat;

23 For an odious woman when she is married; and an handmaid that is heir to her mistress.

24 There be four things which are little upon the earth, but they are exceeding wise:

25 The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the


26 The conies are but a feeble

NOTES-Chap. XXX. Con.

Ver. 14. Whose teeth are as swords.-Ps. lvii. 4. Ver. 15. The horse-leech-A creature remarkable for its blood-thirsty nature. The original word, which occurs only here, Mr. Holden remarks, thus signifies in Arabic, Syriac, and Chaidee; and is generally so understood by commentators. Say not it is enough!-Heb. Say not," Wealth! riches! i. e. they are never satisfied.

Ver. 16. The earth that is not filled-or saturated; which seems to refer particularly to the sandy soil of the desert.

Ver. 17. The eye that mocketh.-See Levit. xx.9. Ver. 19. The way of a man with (Heb. Beth," in ") a maid. Though we consider passages of this kind better to be omitted in family reading, we do not wish to pass them by without explanation. It is evident that the point in which the first three objects agree is, that they leave no trace behind them. The air and sea close immediately as the eagle or the ship pass through them; nor does the serpent make any impression on the rock over which it winds: so is it with an adulteress; "she wipes her mouth," and says, with an affectation of innocence and simplicity, "I have done no wickedness;" and if there was no witness of her guilt, how is she to be convicted? The fourth case, therefore, ought to be similar; but it cannot be said that the illicit connexion of a man with a maid" leaves no proof of the connexion; and this, therefore, cannot have been Agur's meaning. Many expositors explain this transaction between the sexes, as referring to the season of courtship, which is, with us, often a time of cunning and sleights," as Bp. Patrick expresses it: but it is a much simpler business in the East. A young man having seen a young woman who takes his fancy, as was the case with Samson, (thongh sometimes this is scarcely allowed) reports it to his parents; if all parties consent, they are betrothed and at a certain time, the young man marries and brings her home; but no opportunity is allowed for

forming any intimacy, as with us, previous to the marriage. So that this, also, cannot be here intended.

Some expositors have therefore proposed a different rendering, sanctioned by several ancient versions, and critics of the first eininence, (as Schultens, Parkhurst, &c.) namely, "the way of a man in his youth." To countenance this it may be remarked, 1. That this preserves the strict meaning of the preposition, (Beth) which is rendered in, with reference both to the air and sea, in the same verse. 2. The character of the young men of that age, as represented by Solomon, in the first chapter of this book, explains their youthful conduct in a way which elucidates this expression. It seems that the ban dits which attended Saul, and David too, (in bis persecution) used to harbour in the caverns of that country, (some of which were very large) and they were particularly careful to avoid being traced in their predatory adventures, 1 Sam. xxiii. 22, 23. 3. The term here used for man, (Geber) implies strength and vigour, and applies well to persons of this character, who were all bardy adventurers. 4. The whole of the passage thus explained, applies to an adulterous woman, who is as difficult to trace and to arrest in her crimes, as is an eagle in the air, a ship in the sea, a serpent on the rock, or a hardy bandit in his adventures; for we are told, "her ways are moveable;" (ch. v. 6.) she is continually shifting her haunts, and changing her stratagems, to avoid detection; and, as to her own consciousness, has no sense of either crime or shame.

Ver. 22, A servant when he reigneth.-See chap. xix. 10.

Ver. 23. An odious woman-hateful and hated, of course disquiets her family by her temper; as well as an handmaid, a female slave or concubine, who "succeeds," or rather "supersedes," or supplants "her mistress."

Ver. 25. The ants.-See chap. vi. 6-8. Ver. 26. The conies.... ¶ ̧ .. a feeble folk. -These


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