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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Proverbs 24

 

 

Verse 1

Proverbs 24:1 Be not thou envious against evil men, neither desire to be with them.

Ver. 1. Be not thou envious against evil men.] Heb., Men of evil - such as are set upon sin; as are like Caracalla, qui nihil cogitabat boni, qui id non didicerat; quod ipse fatebatur, saith Dio, Who never thought of any good, &c. Envy not such a one his pomp, any more than we do a dead corpse his flowers and gaiety. See Proverbs 23:17.

Neither desire to be with them.] That is, To be in their estate, so thou mightest be at their stay. This hath been the folly of some of God’s people, as David noteth, Psalms 73:10. For the which they have afterwards befooled and bebeasted themselves, as he did, Psalms 73:22.


Verse 2

Proverbs 24:2 For their heart studieth destruction, and their lips talk of mischief.

Ver. 2. For their heart studieth destruction.] Great students they are; wittily wicked; but they consult shame and confusion to them and theirs.

And their lips talk of mischief.] The mischief that they machinate budgeth and blistereth out at their tongues’ ends. They are even big with it, and not well till delivered.


Verse 3

Proverbs 24:3 Through wisdom is an house builded; and by understanding it is established:

Ver. 3. Through wisdom is an house builded.] q.d., I will show thee a better project; wouldst thou thrive and grow great? Exercise godliness, wish not wickedness. {See Trapp on "Proverbs 3:16"} {See Trapp on "Proverbs 3:17"}


Verse 4

Proverbs 24:4 And by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches.

Ver. 4. With all precious and pleasant riches.] Riches imply (1.) Plenty of that which is precious and pleasant. (2.) Propriety; they must be good things that are our own; and hereunto economical prudence much conduceth. God bestoweth abundance on the wicked ex largitate, only out of a general providence; but upon his people that are good husbands ex promisso, by virtue of this and the like promises.


Verse 5

Proverbs 24:5 A wise man [is] strong; yea, a man of knowledge increaseth strength.

Ver. 5. A wise man is strong.] {See Trapp on "Proverbs 21:22"}


Verse 6

Proverbs 24:6 For by wise counsel thou shalt make thy war: and in multitude of counsellors [there is] safety.

Ver. 6. For by wise counsel.] {See Trapp on "Proverbs 20:18"} This Salust delivers as the sentence of the wisest sages, but Solomon said it long before.


Verse 7

Proverbs 24:7 Wisdom [is] too high for a fool: he openeth not his mouth in the gate.

Ver. 7. Wisdom is too hard for a fool.] Heb., Too high; his pericranium comprehends it not, "neither indeed can" do. [1 Corinthians 2:14] He puts off the study of it, pretending the impossibility of reaching to it.

He openeth not his mouth in the gate.] He were two fools if he should, for while he holds his tongue he is held wise.


Verse 8

Proverbs 24:8 He that deviseth to do evil shall be called a mischievous person.

Ver. 8. Shall be called a mischievous person.] Heb., A master of sinful musings, an artist at any evil. Josephus saith of Antipater, that his course of life might fitly be called a mystery of mischief, (a) quae altissimas egerat radices, &c.


Verse 9

Proverbs 24:9 The thought of foolishness [is] sin: and the scorner [is] an abomination to men.

Ver. 9. The thought of foolishness is sin.] The schools do well observe, that outward sins are maioris infamiae, of greater infamy; but inward heart sins are maioris reatus, of greater guilt, as we see in devils. {See Trapp on "Proverbs 14:22"}

And the scorner is an abomination to men.] Witness Julian, Lucian, Porphyry, Julius Scaliger, that proud hypercritic ( qui neminem prae se duxit hominem), Laurentius Valla, who jeered at other logicians, and extolled his own logic as the only best, calling it Logicam Laurentinam.

Iupiter hunc coeli dignatus honore fuisset,

Censorem linguae sed timet ipse suae. ” - Trithem.

But what an odious scorner was Quintinus the libertine, of whom Calvin complains, that he scoffed at every one of the holy apostles? Paul he called a broken vessel, John a foolish youth, Peter a denier of God, Matthew a usurer, En quomodo ille faetoris gurges putido ore suo blasphemare audebat! saith Calvin. (a) See how this stinking elf doth bark and blaspheme the saints. The basest can mock, as the abjects did David, [Psalms 35:15] and Tobiah the servant did Nehemiah. [Nehemiah 2:19] Scorners are the most base spirits. The Septuagint call them pests, [Psalms 1:1] incorrigible, [Proverbs 21:1] proud persons, [Proverbs 3:34] naught, [Proverbs 9:12] &c.


Verse 10

Proverbs 24:10 [If] thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength [is] small.

Ver. 10. If thou faint in the day of adversity.] Afflictions try what sap we have, as hard weather tries what health. Withered leaves fall off in a wind: rotten boughs break when weight is laid on them; so do earthen vessels when set empty to the fire. "As is the man, so is his strength," said they to Gideon. Joseph’s "bow abode in strength, though the archers sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him; and the arms of his hand were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob." [Genesis 49:23-24]


Verse 11

Proverbs 24:11 If thou forbear to deliver [them that are] drawn unto death, and [those that are] ready to be slain;

Ver. 11. If thou forbear to deliver them, &c.] That is, That are wrongfully butchered. Here, not to save a man, if it be in our power, is to destroy him. [Mark 3:4] Job "brake the jaws of the wicked, and plucked the prey out of his teeth." [Job 29:17] The people rescued Jonathan, and Ebedmelech Jeremiah. Henry VIII delivered his Queen Katherine, and King Philip with his Spaniards kept the Lady Elizabeth from the cruel mercies of Stephen Gardiner, who had designed them destruction. Sir George Blage (one of King Henry VIII’s privy chamber), being condemned for a heretic, was yet pardoned by the king. He coming afterwards to the king’s presence, - "Ah, my pig," saith the king, for so he was wont to call him. "Yea," said he, "if your Majesty had not been better to me than your bishops were, your pig had been roasted ere this time." But what a bloody mind bore Harpsfield, archdeacon of Canterbury, who, being at London when Queen Mary lay dying, made all post haste home to despatch those whom he had then in cruel custody. (a)


Verse 12

Proverbs 24:12 If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider [it]? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth [not] he know [it]? and shall [not] he render to [every] man according to his works?

Ver. 12. If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not, &c.] As no wool is so coarse but will take some colour; so there is no sin so foul but will admit some excuse. Ignorance is commonly pleaded, - We know not this man’s case, the justice of his cause, the means of his rescue, &c. But "be not deceived, God is not mocked." They that would mock him imposturum faciunt et patientur, defraud themselves, as the emperor said of him that sold glass for pearl. Deo obscura clarent, muta respondent, silentium confitetur. (a) God’s "eyes behold, his eyelids try the children of men." [Psalms 11:4] The former points out his knowledge, the latter his critical descant.

Doth not he that pondereth the heart consider?] No man needs a window in his breast - as the heathen Momus wished - for God to look in at; for every man before God is all window, [Job 34:22] and his "eyes are as a flaming fire," [Revelation 1:14] that need no outward light, that see extra mittendo by sending out a ray, &c., that see through that transparent body, the world, called "a sea of glass." [Revelation 4:6]


Verse 13

Proverbs 24:13 My son, eat thou honey, because [it is] good; and the honeycomb, [which is] sweet to thy taste:

Ver. 13. My son, eat thou honey, because it is good.] Profitable and pleasant, wholesome and toothsome. So, and much more than so, is divine knowledge. Plutarch tells of Eudoxus, that he would be willing to be burned up by the sun presently, so he might be admitted to come so near it as to learn the nature of it. How sweet must it needs be then to know Christ and him crucified! Sweeter it was to David than live honey dropping from the comb. [Psalms 19:10; Psalms 119:103] The believing Hebrews knew "within themselves" that there should be a reward, and that their expectation should not be cut off. [Hebrews 10:34] They drew the circumference of God’s promises to the centre of their hearts, and so living by faith they had the deserts of the feast of a good conscience as Master Latimer hath it: they tasted of that honey, the sweetness whereof none can find by any discourse, how elegant soever, so well as by eating of it, as Augustine speaketh.


Verse 15

Proverbs 24:15 Lay not wait, O wicked [man], against the dwelling of the righteous; spoil not his resting place:

Ver. 15. Lay not wait, O wicked man, &c.] Eνθα γαρ οι Yεοι, as that heathen said - God dwells with the righteous; molest him not therefore, beat not up his quarters. The Scythians, saith he in Plutarch, (a) though they have no music or vines among them, yet they have gods. So, whatever the saints want, they want not God’s gracious presence with them. And if wicked men had but so much knowledge of God as Pilate’s wife had in a dream, they would take heed of having anything to do with these just men.


Verse 16

Proverbs 24:16 For a just [man] falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.

Ver. 16. For a just man falleth seven times,] i.e., Often. Seven times a day, as the Vulgate and many of the Fathers read it, who also understand this text as falling into sin, and rising again by repentance. But the opposition carries it to the other sense, of falling into trouble. And the next verse speaks as much, "Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth." God’s saints are bound to "rejoice when they fall into divers temptations." [James 1:2] What though they fall into them? not go in step by step, but be precipitated, plunged over head and ears. Say they fall not into one but many crosses, - as they seldom come single, but like Job’s messengers, one at the heels of another, - yet be exceeding glad, saith the apostle; as a merchant is to see his ships come laden in. For, "though ye fall, ye shall arise; and though ye sit in darkness, the Lord shall give you light." [Micah 7:8]

But the wicked shall fall into mischief,] i.e., Into remediless misery. Non surget hic afflictio [Nahum 1:9] As they shall have an evil, an only evil without mixture of mercy, [Ezekiel 7:5] so they shall totally and finally be consumed at once. If Mordecai be of the seed of the Jews, before whom Haman hath begun to fall, he shall fall to some purpose. [Esther 6:13] A Jew may fall before a Persian, and get up and prevail; but if a Persian or other persecutor begin to fall before a Jew, he can neither stay nor rise. There is an invisible hand of omnipotence that strikes in for his own, and confounds their opposites.


Verse 17

Proverbs 24:17 Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth:

Ver. 17. Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth.] If thou dost, it is a sure sign of devilish hatred - επιχαιρεκακια being the devil’s disease - what goodwill, innocence, or ignoscency soever thou makest show of. Job cleareth himself of this fault, [Job 31:24] and so doth David notably. [Psalms 35:13-14] See his practice. [2 Samuel 1:11-12] Caesar wept when Pompey’s head was presented to him, and said, Victoriam volui, non vindictam. {See Trapp on "Matthew 5:44"} {See Trapp on "Romans 12:19"}


Verse 18

Proverbs 24:18 Lest the LORD see [it], and it displease him, and he turn away his wrath from him.

Ver. 18. Lest the Lord see it,] viz., Thy pride and cruelty, as he will, for he is ολοφθαλμος, all eye, and εχει Yεος εκδικον ομμα, if he see, he will kindle and turn the wheel upon thee, as he threatened to do upon Edom, for looking with liking upon Israel’s calamity. For prevention hereof, think thus with thyself, Either I am like mine enemy, or else I am better or worse than he. If like him, why may not I look for the like misery? If better, who made me to differ? If worse, what reason then have I to insult? See Obadiah 1:12.


Verse 19

Proverbs 24:19 Fret not thyself because of evil [men], neither be thou envious at the wicked;

Ver. 19. Fret not thyself because of evil men.] We are wondrous apt to be sick of the fret; hence so many precepts to this purpose. See Proverbs 23:17; Proverbs 24:1.


Verse 20

Proverbs 24:20 For there shall be no reward to the evil [man]; the candle of the wicked shall be put out.

Ver. 20. For there shall be no reward.] He shall suffer both pain of loss, and pain of sense, which whether is the more grievous, is hard to determine. Sure it is, that the tears of hell are not sufficient to bewail the loss of heaven; their worm of grief gnaws as painfully as their fire burns. "Depart from me, ye cursed," sounds as harsh in their ears as that which follows, "into everlasting flames."


Verse 21

Proverbs 24:21 My son, fear thou the LORD and the king: [and] meddle not with them that are given to change:

Ver. 21. My son, fear the Lord and the king.] "Who would not fear thee, O king of nations? for unto thee doth it appertain." [Jeremiah 10:7] God is the prime and proper object of fear. [Psalms 76:11] Whence, by an appellative proper, he is called "fear" by the Psalmist. The Greeks call him Yεος quasi Lεος, as some think, from the fear that is due to him. Princes also must be feared and honoured, [1 Peter 2:17] as those that are invested with God’s authority, and intrusted with the administration of his kingdom upon earth, by the exercise of vindictive and remunerative justice. And while they be just, ruling in the fear of God, [2 Samuel 23:3] and commanding things consonant to the word and will of God, they must be obeyed for conscience sake, [Romans 13:5] otherwise not. {See Trapp on "Acts 4:19"}

And meddle not with them that are given to change,] i.e., With seditious spirits that affect and effect alterations; lawless persons, as St Paul calls them; malcontents, (a) to whom αει το παρον βαρυ, the present government is ever grievous, as Thucydides notes. Such were Korah and his complices; Absalom; Sheba; the ten tribes that cried, Alleys iugum, Ease our yoke; and before them, those in Samuel’s time that cried, "Nay, but we will have a king." Novatus hath still too many followers, of whom St Cyprian, under whom he lived, thus testifieth: Novatus rerum novarum semper cupidus, arrogantia inflatus, that he was an arrogant innovator. These turbulent spirits prove oft the pests and boutefeaus of the state they live in; and it is dangerous having to deal with them.


Verse 22

Proverbs 24:22 For their calamity shall rise suddenly; and who knoweth the ruin of them both?

Ver. 22. For their calamity shall rise suddenly.] When they think they have made all cock sure. "Had Zimri peace that killed his master?" Had Absalom; Sheba; Rodolphus, Duke of Suevia; Sanders; Story; Parry; Campian; the gunpowder plotters; Raviliac, &c.? Canute, the first Danish king, caused the false Edric’s head, that had been his agent, to be set upon the highest part of the Tower of London, therein performing his promise of advancing him above any lord in the land. (a) James I, king of Scots, was murdered in Perth by Walter, Earl of Athol, in hopes to attain the crown. Crowned indeed he was, but not as his witches and sorcerers had ambiguously insinuated, with the crown of that realm, but with a crown of red-hot iron clapt upon his head, being one of the tortures wherewith he ended at once his wicked days and desires. (b)

And who knoweth the ruin of them both?] i.e., That both God and the king will inflict upon the rebels; or "of them both" - i.e., both of the king, if a tyrant, and of those that seditiously move against him.


Verse 23

Proverbs 24:23 These [things] also [belong] to the wise. [It is] not good to have respect of persons in judgment.

Ver. 23. These things also belong to the wise.] As subjects must know their duties, so magistrates theirs; neither may they hold themselves too wise to learn. God can send even a Solomon to school to the raven, to the pismire, yea, to the lilies of the field, as being able to teach the wisest man by the weakest creature.

It is not good to have respect of persons.] Heb., To know faces; to regard not so much the matter as the man; to hear persons speak, and not causes; to judge not according to truth and equity, but according to opinion and appearance - to fear or favour. This cannot be good, lawful, or safe. "He will surely" (or thoroughly) "reprove you," (not verbally only, but penally too) "if you secretly accept persons." [Job 13:10] Of Trajan it is said that he neither feared nor hated any man, but that he heard the causes of his subjects without prejudicate impiety, judiciously examined them without sinister obliquity, and sincerely judged them without unjust partiality.


Verse 24

Proverbs 24:24 He that saith unto the wicked, Thou [art] righteous; him shall the people curse, nations shall abhor him:

Ver. 24. Him shall the people curse.] Heb., They shall run him through; with their evil wishes for his evil sentence. He shall be generally hated, and set against, as was Herod, Pilate, Festus, Ferres, &c.


Verse 25

Proverbs 24:25 But to them that rebuke [him] shall be delight, and a good blessing shall come upon them.

Ver. 25. But to them that rebuke him shall be delight.] Those judges that reprove and punish the wicked shall - besides the Euge of a good conscience, which is far better than the world’s plaudite - delight themselves in the Lord, and reign in the affections of all good men, who shall soon also say, ‘God’s blessing be on such a good judge’s heart, for he saveth the innocent, and punisheth the wicked,’ &c. As he hath "done worthily in Ephrata, so he shall be famous in Bethlehem." [Ruth 4:11] See Job 29:11-12.


Verse 26

Proverbs 24:26 [Every man] shall kiss [his] lips that giveth a right answer.

Ver. 26. Every man shall kiss his lips.] That is, Shall do him honour, as Genesis 41:40. All the people shall kiss at thy mouth, saith Pharaoh to Joseph; and Samuel kissed Saul when he anointed him king; [1 Samuel 10:1] and, "Kiss the Son," saith David. [Psalms 2:12] That is, Give unto him the honour due unto his name.


Verse 27

Proverbs 24:27 Prepare thy work without, and make it fit for thyself in the field; and afterwards build thine house.

Ver. 27. Prepare thy work without, &c.] God would have all his to be not good men only, but good husbands too; to order their affairs with discretion, and to take their fittest opportunities for despatch of household businesses. Pliny (a) hath a saying to like sense with this: Aedificandum, saith he, consito agro, et tunc quoque cunctanter, - Let building alone till thy field be tilled, vined, planted, &c.


Verse 28

Proverbs 24:28 Be not a witness against thy neighbour without cause; and deceive [not] with thy lips.

Ver. 28. Be not a witness against thy neighbour without cause.] That is, Without calling, being not thereunto required; for this would speak thee spiteful, rash, and revengeful, as in the next verse.

And deceive not with thy lips.] When called to be a witness, speak thy mind simply and plainly, without preface or passion, (a) without varnish of fine words, whereby to mislead the judge, or deceive the jurors, to bolster out a bad cause, or outface a good.


Verse 29

Proverbs 24:29 Say not, I will do so to him as he hath done to me: I will render to the man according to his work.

Ver. 29. Say not, I will do so to him as he hath done to me.] Nothing is more natural than revenge of wrongs, and the world approves it as right temper, true touch, as to put up wrongs is held cowardice and unmanliness. But we have not so learned Christ. Nay, those that have never heard of Christ have spoken much against this vindictive disposition. {See Trapp on "Proverbs 20:22"} {See Trapp on "Matthew 5:39"} {See Trapp on "Romans 12:17"}

I will render to the man according to his works.] But is not that God’s office? And will you needs leap into his chair - wring the sword out of his hand? or at least, will you be a pope in your own cause, depose the magistrate, or appeal from him to yourself? What Luciferian pride is this? Nemo te impune lacessit? Is not God the God of recompenses?


Verse 30

Proverbs 24:30 I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding;

Ver. 30. I went by the field of the slothful.] Not purposely to spy faults - for Nemo curiosus quin malevolus - but my business lay that way, and I was willing to make the best of everything that came before me.

By the vineyard of the man void of understanding.] Heb., That had no heart; that is, that made no use of it - that was not egregie cordatus homo, as one describes a wise man.


Verse 31

Proverbs 24:31 And, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, [and] nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down.

Ver. 31. And, lo, it was all grown over with thorns.] So is the spiritual sluggard’s soul with lusts and sins, under the which lurketh that old serpent.


Verse 32

Proverbs 24:32 Then I saw, [and] considered [it] well: I looked upon [it, and] received instruction.

Ver. 32. Then I saw and considered it well.] I made my best use of it for mine own instruction. A bee can suck honey out of a flower, which a fly cannot do; so a spiritual mind can extract good out of every object and occurrence, even out of other men’s faults and follies. He can gather grapes of thorns, and figs of thistles, as here. Well, therefore, may grace be called "the divine nature"; [2 Peter 1:4] for as God draws light out of darkness, good out of evil, &c., so doth grace, by a heavenly kind of alchemy, as I may so say.

And received instruction.] Exemplo alterius qui sapit, ille sapit. The worse others are, the better should we be, getting as far off from the wicked as we can in our daily practice, and "saving ourselves from this untoward generation."


Verse 33

Proverbs 24:33 [Yet] a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep:

Ver. 33. Yet a little sleep.] Mercer makes this to be the lesson that the wise man both learnt himself and also lays before others - viz., to be content with a little sleep - to be up and at it early, &c., that the beggar catch us not. But I rather incline to those that think that he here brings in the sluggard pleading for his sloth, and by an elegant mimesis imitates and personifies him, saying, as he used to do, "yet a little more sleep, a little more slumber," &c. "A little," and yet "sleeps," in the plural. A little he would have, but a little will not serve his turn. {See Trapp on "Proverbs 6:9"} &c.


Verse 34

Proverbs 24:34 So shall thy poverty come [as] one that travelleth; and thy want as an armed man.

Ver. 34. So shall thy poverty come.] Swiftly and irresistibly. Seneca calls sloth the nurse of beggary - the mother of misery.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 24:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/proverbs-24.html. 1865-1868.

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