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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Proverbs 24

 

 

Verses 1-34

Proverbs 24:1. Be not envious against evil men. Similar thoughts occur in Psalms 37:1, Psalms 73. Proverbs 17:1. Why should we envy the wicked? We are all going to lie in the common dust; their prosperity hastens their exit, while righteousness has the promise of long life, and all good things. By wisdom your house shall be built, and your chambers stored with valuable and pleasant treasures: chap. Proverbs 15:6.

Proverbs 24:5. A wise man is strong, for the guidance of his affairs; for the improvement of peace, or the conduct of war. Wisdom, delighting in equity, is crowned with affluence, and victory in defensive war. The LXX read, “The wise man is better than the strong, and the prudent man than the stout husbandman.”

Proverbs 24:6. In multitude of counsellors there is safety. The wittegena gemot, among our Saxon ancestors, comprised the heads of houses, the warriors, and the ancient men; for they appeared and debated in arms. The French accounts of the American Indians say the same. I beg leave to translate the following speech from Travels in Louisiana, in 1793 and 1794.

About the year 1766, three days after the Indian chiefs had assembled to consult on the best means of expelling the French from Louisiana, an orator, after saluting his chief, spake as follows.

“May the great sun that enlightens us, and whom we adore, shed upon my discourse the enlivening energy and sweetness of his beams; that irradiating our minds with wisdom, he may adequately warm our hearts with the courage essential to our calamitous situation.

“Our aged men have long perceived the injuries we have sustained by the neighbourhood of the French; but our young men, seduced by appearances, perceive not the precipice covered with flowers. They look solely at the glare of European merchandize, and are unsuspicious of the poison it contains. Of what use, in fact, is all this seductive merchandise to us? It obviously corrupts our women with the love of luxury, it debauches our daughters, it flatters their idleness and pride, it kills the married men with labour to furnish the factitious wants of their wives, and it relaxes the whole force of public morals. These advantages are no compensation for the dangers to which we are exposed.

“But the French have done us the greatest injury by their engaging air, by their endeavours to flatter our passions, and by the art they naturally have to soften our courage, the better to exercise their tyranny. Before they came we were men, we were allied, we ranged at liberty in a country which was our own. We had no enemies but the beasts, which we had the address to subdue. Now, a subtle poison flows in our veins. It benumbs and enfeebles our limbs. We stumble as we walk, and are afraid of the thorns. We have the timidity of slaves, and bow the neck to the yoke of tyranny. Thus the French treat our illustrious Sun. They even threaten to load us with chains, and we hesitate in preferring death to servitude! Let us convince the white men that red men are as free as themselves, and that they know how to resume at pleasure their ancient valour.”

Here, while the orator paused, the most irradiated looks of approbation were cast on one another; and then turning to him with countenances expressive of their wish that he should proceed, he thus resumes the subject.

“Are we not accounted the most enlightened of all red men? And so, in fact, we are. Who have more courage, and who have more resources than ourselves? What then do we await in the resumption of our ancient liberty?

The orator then delivered a quiver of thirty rods to each chief, with instructions to burn one every day upon the altar. But Braspike, a princess connected with a french officer, wishing to favour her husband, entered the temple by her own right, and stole one of the sticks, which occasioned the Natchez nation to begin the carnage one day earlier than the others. By this means the French were partially saved, being put on their guard.

I heard Mr. Campbell relate his travels in South Africa. When he reached the copper Caffres nine hundred miles north-east of the Cape, the warriors assembled in arms, about five hundred in number. When the question was put, whether they should receive a missionary to teach them the great word, and some useful arts; and in particular, how to get twice as much corn from the land as they then did, they debated for four hours, with great eloquence, and impressive action. The request was granted.

Proverbs 24:7. A fool—openeth not his mouth in the gate, where the judges and elders sat to decide on public affairs. The fool did not rise to this honour.

Proverbs 24:11. If thou forbear to deliver. Whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, that do ye unto them. This is a golden rule; it is the law of nature, and of nations. Hence, whether we see a neighbour, a stranger, or an enemy in danger, we must forget private circumstances, and risk our own life to save another. Vaillante, an accredited traveller in Caffraria, mentions a Dutchman whose signal efforts deserve to be immortalized. A ship was wrecked near the Cape; the crew were clinging to the shrouds, and no boat would venture to save them. But this brave man, whose horse was accustomed to take the water, rode up to the wreck seven times, and brought off two men, hanging by his stirrup, each time. He ventured the eighth time, when, not considering either that his beast grew weaker, or that the tide encreased, both he and his horse were borne away and drowned. Hence whenever we see human life in peril, let us consult the generous prudence of our first feelings, and we shall avoid the censure which our Lord passed on the priest and the levite, and obtain the applause of the good Samaritan.

Proverbs 24:14. Then there shall be a reward. See on chap. 23. 18, where the same word is translated “an end.” The righteous shall have a future life of reward and blessedness. The LXX, “Thou shalt have a happy death, and hope shall not forsake thee.”

Proverbs 24:16. A just man falleth seven times into troubles, either by the wicked or by providential afflictions, and rises again; for the Lord, according to his many promises, delivers him out of them all. But the wicked fall into mischief, and rise no more. This is a just remark on the happiness of those who live in communion with God.

Proverbs 24:17. Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth. The strokes of justice should make all hearts tremble: we have sinned as well as he, therefore both nature and circumstances should teach us sympathy. So Israel, though greatly provoked, mourned when Benjamin perished, that there should lack one tribe in Israel. Hence we should most seriously pray that repentance, and not punishment, may be our enemy’s portion.

Proverbs 24:20. There shall be no reward to the evil man. See on Proverbs 24:14. No happiness in a future state. His candle shall be put out: he shall be driven into outer darkness.

Proverbs 24:26. Every man shall, kiss his lips that giveth a right answer. This refers to the plaudits in public debates, or to the approbation of the court, when a witness answers well.

Proverbs 24:28. Be not a witness against thy neighbour without cause. You have to live in the same town; the mischiefs arising from imprudence are many. If your evidence be unfair, or too strong, it will never be forgiven. But if the cause be just, you must not injure innocence to cover guilt.

Proverbs 24:30. The field of the slothful, and the vineyard of the man void of understanding, conveyed instruction to Solomon. He regarded the sin of idleness with abhorrence. This is a crime which a man commits against his house, against his God, and against his country. But what shall we say of the myriads of hearts which resemble this vineyard and field; full of briars, full of weeds, full of sins. Let us learn wisdom from other men’s folly, and industry from their sloth.—Here ends the second and last volume of the Proverbs which Solomon delivered to the public.

 


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Bibliography Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Proverbs 24:4". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jsc/proverbs-24.html. 1835.

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