PROVERBS CHAPTER 24.
V. 1. Be not thou envious against evil men, desiring their company on account of their apparent prosperity and good fortune, neither desire to be with them, to be one of their number, to he accepted into their ranks. Cp. chap. 23, 17. V. 2. For their heart studieth destruction, they are constantly meditating upon oppression and violence, and their lips talk of mischief, their expressed purpose being to harm others. V. 3. Through wisdom is an house builded, not only the dwelling, but the occupants of the house being included in the designation, and by understanding it is established, in this way only do people get a home in the true sense of the word; v. 4. and by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches, the words describing not a miserly hoarding of money, but a condition of the household which speaks of a comfortable prosperity. V. 5. A wise man is strong, full of strength, exerting a powerful influence; yea, a man of knowledge, one making use of proper circumspection and caution, increaseth strength, develops and extends his influence, makes use of his power in the proper manner. V. 6. For by wise counsel thou shalt make thy war, carry it forward to a successful issue, and in multitude of counselors, all of whom contribute good advice, there is safety, matters are sure to go forward favorably. Cp. chap. 20, 18; 11, 14; 15, 22. V.7. Wisdom is too high, altogether unattainable, for a fool; he openeth not his mouth in the gate, he cannot be consulted by the leading men of the city as they deliberate upon the welfare of the community, their place of assembly being in the gate of the city or immediately inside the gate, where the open space was set aside for public meetings. V. 8. He that deviseth to do evil, with whom mischief and wrong is self-evident, who is the master of wickedness, shall be called a mischievous person, his evil reputation will soon be well established. V. 9. The thought of foolishness, literally, “the meditation of folly,” is sin, that is, even when folly tries to perform something with prudent reflection, the result is the same, a transgression of God’s holy Law, and the scorner is an abomination to men, his mockery makes him an object of loathing. V. 10. If thou faint in the day of adversity, in times when anxiety and distress seem to obstruct progress, thy strength is small, for it is necessary to keep up courage, to develop moral courage and capacity of resistance, in order to perform anything worth while in life. V. 11. If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, rather, “Deliver those who are taken to death,” and those that are ready to be slain, the appeal being directed particularly to such as witnessed the deeds of religious fanatics, who then, as now, often made it a point to interfere with the business of the government and to demand the severest punishments for such as had incurred their displeasure; v. 12. if thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not, the one addressed trying to salve his conscience with a poor excuse, doth not He that pondereth the heart consider it? And He that keepeth thy soul, familiar with the innermost thoughts of the mind, doth not He know it? And shall not He render to every man according to his works? The last is a direct statement: He will requite man according to his deeds, His retributive justice cannot be avoided by a profession of ignorance. Cp. chap. 31, 8. 9. V. 13. My son, eat thou honey because it is good, and the honeycomb, which is sweet to thy taste, this figurative admonition serving to introduce the praise of the loveliness and agreeableness of true wisdom. V. 14. So shall the knowledge of wisdom be unto thy soul, altogether agreeable and full of rich nourishment and therefore well worth acquiring; when thou hast found it, then there shall be a reward, and thy expectation shall not be cut off, the future will show that the acquiring of wisdom was well worth while. V. 15. Lay not wait, O wicked man, with the intention of performing mischief and malice, against the dwelling of the righteous; spoil not his resting-place, where he is leading a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty; v. 16. for a just man falleth seven times, for misfortunes often seem to single him out, he has his full share of them, and riseth up again, endowed with new strength by the Lord; but the wicked shall fall into mischief, stumble into destruction, their fate being everlasting misfortune. V. 17. Rejoice not, in malignant joy, when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth, since delight in another’s hurt is just as objectionable as outright violence, v. 18. lest the Lord see it and it displease Him, as all evidences of malice are hound to do, and He turn away His wrath from him, that is, from the enemy, His punishment striking the person of malignant spirit instead. V. 19. Fret not thyself because of evil men, becoming enraged with envy on account of their apparent good fortune, neither be thou envious at the wicked, whose prosperity often seems so great; v. 20. for there shall be no reward to the evil man, he will have no lucky future or end; the candle of the wicked shall be put out, a picture of eventual unhappiness and destruction. V. 21. My son, fear thou the Lord and the king, the government established by Jehovah, 1 Pet. 2, 17; Rom. 13, 1, and meddle not with them that are given to change, those who are always dissatisfied with the government and therefore are always planning revolutions; v. 22. for their calamity, the misfortune sent upon them by God, shall rise suddenly, striking them with unexpected suddenness; and who knoweth the ruin of them both? For those who rebel against the constituted and existing government thereby rebel against the Lord. - V. 23. These things also belong to the wise, the proverbs, or maxims, now following are ascribed to wise men, from this point to the end of the chapter. It is not good to have respect of persons in judgment, literally, “to observe faces,” that is, to be partial, no matter for what reason. V. 24. He that saith unto the wicked, Thou art righteous, rendering a verdict in favor of the guilty, him shall the people curse, since perversion of justice in even one case affects the welfare of all, nations shall abhor him; v. 25. but to them that rebuke him shall be delight, the judges who do their duty in punishing evildoers shall be rewarded, and a good blessing shall come upon them, the Lord Himself dispensing rich and manifold gifts of His kindness and mercy. V. 26. Every man shall kiss his lips that giveth a right answer, rather, “A kiss upon the lips does he bestow who returns well-pleasing words,” that is, a faithful and favorable answer, especially before a court of justice, is like a most agreeable caress. V. 27. Prepare thy work without and make it fit for thyself in the field, by tilling the soil and laboring for a plentiful harvest first; and afterwards build thine house, which includes the establishment of a family and household, the summary being: Provide necessaries first, then comforts. V. 28. Be not a witness against thy neighbor without cause, without reason and need, out of pure animosity; and deceive not with thy lips, rather in the form of a question, “And shouldest thou practice deception with thy lips?” a very emphatic way of reproving such an intention. V. 29. Say not, I will do so to him as he hath done to me, the eagerness for revenge governing ones actions; I will render to the man according to his work. Cp. Matt. 5,43-45; Rom. 12,17. V. 30. I went by the field of the slothful, where he could well observe the effect of sloth, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding, one too lazy to work because he lacked in wisdom; v. 31. and, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, the entire field, for want of cultivation, had produced noxious weeds, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down, another sign of utter neglect. V. 32. Then I saw and considered it well, observing the lesson taught by that neglected field; I looked upon it and received instruction, laying down the admonition conveyed by the scene of desolation in a maxim for others. V. 33. Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep, that being the thought governing the actions of the slothful; v. 34. so shall thy poverty come as one that traveleth, and thy want, the need of money and of all necessaries of life, as an armed man, literally, “one armed with a shield.” Cp. chap. 6, 10. 11.