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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Proverbs 12:26



The righteous is a guide to his neighbor, But the way of the wicked leads them astray.

Adam Clarke Commentary

The righteous is more excellent than his neighbor - That is, if the neighbor be a wicked man. The spirit of the proverb lies here: The Poor righteous man is more excellent than his sinful neighbor, though affluent and noble. The Syriac has it, "The righteous deviseth good to his neighbor." A late commentator has translated it, "The righteous explore their pastures." How מרעהו can be translated Their pastures I know not; but none of the versions understood it in this way. The Vulgate is rather singular: Qui negligit damnum propter amicum, justus est. "He who neglects or sustains a loss for the sake of his friend, is a just man." The Septuagint is insufferable: "The well-instructed righteous man shall be his own friend." One would hope these translators meant not exclusively; he should love his neighbor as himself.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Proverbs 12:26". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Is more excellent than - Rather, the just man guides his neighbor.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Proverbs 12:26". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

Proverbs 12:26

The righteous is more excellent than his neighbour.

The religious man’s advantages

The sentiments of men concerning virtue, and their own particular practice, form a very strange and striking contrast. Philosophers have differed about the origin of moral distinctions, and delivered various theories concerning virtue; but the people who judge from their feelings have no system but one. Religion gives its powerful sanction to the maxims of morality. The objections against a holy life have proceeded on maxims directly contrary to the text. The inducements to vice, which have been powerful in all ages, are the same that were presented by the tempter to our first parents--the attractions of ambition and the allurements of pleasure. The righteous man is wiser than his neighbour. There is no part of his nature in which man is so earnest to excel, and so jealous of a defect, as his understanding. And no wonder, for it is his prerogative and his glory. This enters into the foundation of character; for without intellectual abilities moral qualities cannot subsist, and a good heart will go wrong without the guidance of a good understanding. Where, then, is wisdom to be found? If you will trust the dictates of religion and reason, to be virtuous is to be wise. The testimony of all who have gone before you confirms the decision. In opposition, however, to the voice of religion, of reason, and of man-kind, there are multitudes in every age who reckon themselves more excellent than their neighbours, by trespassing against the laws which all ages have counted sacred, the younger by the pursuit of criminal gratification, the old by habits of deceit and fraud. The early period of life is frequently a season of delusion. There is no moderation nor government in vice. Guilty pleasures become the masters and tyrants of the mind; when these lords acquire dominion, they bring all the thoughts into captivity, and rule with unlimited and despotic sway. When it is seen that the righteous man is wiser and greater and happier than his neighbour, the objections against religion are removed, the ways of Providence are vindicated, and virtue is established upon an everlasting foundation. (John Logan.)

The prospects of the righteous

The word rendered “excellent” is on the margin translated “abundant.” Although it is a truth that in regard to “character,” in all its principles and their practical results, “the righteous is more excellent than his neighbour,” yet such statement is almost a truism. Taking the word as referring to possessions and prospects, as meaning that the righteous excels his neighbour, or men in general around him, in his lot as to happiness and hope--blessings in enjoyment and blessings in anticipation--it then becomes a statement of great importance. It presents an inducement to the godly to “hold fast their profession,” and an inducement to others to join their society. Even the poorest of the people of God has a lot that may well be envied by the wealthiest and the noblest of the sons of earth. (R. Wardlaw.)

The advantages of virtue to civil society

By the “righteous” is intended the religious man, one who fears God and eschews evil. By his “neighbour” is meant a man of contrary character, one who careth not for God, but pursues the interests or pleasures of the world, without any regard to His authority. The “excellency” ascribed may refer either to the personal happiness attending it, or its beneficial influence on society. A man of religion and virtue is a more useful, and consequently a more valuable member of a community than his wicked neighbour.

I. The necessity of virtue and religion to the ends of civil society. In contradiction it has been urged that vice is a thing highly beneficial to society, confers on it so many advantages, that public happiness would be imperfect without it. We may admit, in support of this paradox, that if there were no vicious men in the world, we should not want to be protected by civil government from them. We may also admit, that some advantages arise to society from the vices of men, either as they occasion good laws or awaken a due execution of them, or as the example or nature of his punishment may render a criminal of some service to the public. But these are the purely accidental consequences from vice. Its natural and proper effects are all evil, the very evils which government was designed to redress. The advantages that arise from it are owing wholly to the wisdom and virtue of those in authority. The experience of all history affirms to us that the peace, strength, and happiness of a society depend on the justice and fidelity, the temperance and charity of its members; that these virtues always render a people flourishing and secure, and the contrary vices are as constantly productive of misery and ruin. If these virtues are acknowledged necessary to social felicity, religion must be so too, because no other principle can offer an equal inducement to the practice of them, or equally restrain men from the opposite vices. Fear cannot effectually govern the actions of men, nor the fantastic principle called honour. If by honour is meant anything distinct from conscience, it is no more than a regard to the censure and esteem of the world.

II. How virtue and religion fit and dispose men for the most useful discharge of the several offices and relations of social life. Power, without goodness, is the most terrible idea our imagination can form; and the more the authority of any station in society is extended, the more it concerns public happiness that it be committed to men fearing God. Parts, knowledge, and experience, are indeed excellent ingredients in a public character, of equal use and ornament to the seat of judgment and council, but without religion and virtue, these are only abilities to do mischief. All that skill which deserves the name of wisdom, religion approves, recommends, and teaches. More true political wisdom can be learned from the Holy Scriptures, and even from this single book of Proverbs, than from a thousand such writers as Machiavel. Religion and virtue are proportionally conducive to happiness in every inferior relation of life. They equally dispose men to be good rulers and good subjects, good parents and good children, good masters and good servants, good neighbours and good friends. Wherever a religion is true and sincere, justice, meekness, and fidelity, all the virtues that can render a government secure, and a people happy, will be the fruits of it.

III. A religious motive to value and esteem persons of this excellent character, because by their piety and prayers the blessing of God is derived on the community. Righteous men ought to be esteemed a strength and defence to their country, and wicked men a reproach and weakness. The declarations of God and the histories of His providence, show that the piety of good men more effectually prevails for His blessing upon a nation than the sins of wicked men provoke His resentment. Since we all pretend a concern for the prosperity of our country, let our zeal for it appear in our endeavours to promote virtue and religion. Let us constantly distinguish the righteous by that honour and respect which is due to so excellent a character. Above all, let our care begin at home; let us each in our stations govern our lives by the rules of our holy religion, and practise those virtues ourselves whose excellence we acknowledge in others. (J. Rogers, D. D.)

The excellency of religion

Virtue and religion are excellent things in themselves, and they improve and adorn and exalt our natures. The last sentence of the text suggests this--that though righteousness and piety and religion are excellent things, so that men can hardly avoid seeing the beauty and loveliness of them, yet the deceitfulness of sin will be apt to deliver them, and find out some pretence or excuse to carry men against their best reason, and what they know is fittest to be done. The excellency of a religious life above a life of sin and wickedness, may be made out from the following considerations:

I. That God Himself has put a great many marks of honour upon righteousness and goodness. That person or that thing must be honourable which God is pleased to honour, and that must be despicable which He despises. He who fears God, and does his duty, is the servant of God and the friend of God. Good men are in an especial manner partakers of the Divine nature; their souls are honoured and blessed with the communion of God, and their bodies are the temples of the Holy Ghost.

II. We have also the judgment of all mankind, not only of the good and virtuous, but of the greatest part even of wicked men.

1. Almost all nations, in all ages of the world, however they may have differed as to the measures of some virtues and vices, yet have agreed as to the main and great points of duty; which I can impute to nothing else but the natural beauty and excellence of virtue, and the deformity of vice.

2. When men will to serve any interest or appetite, they generally endeavour to conceal it, are unwilling to have it known, and think it for their honour to disguise the matter as much as they can. “Hypocrisy is a homage that vice pays to virtue.” And vice, though disguised and concealed from the world, is so ugly a thing, that few people can bear the sense of it themselves, so they find out some colour or excuse with which to deceive themselves.

3. When bad men cannot cover their shame either from the world or themselves, they set about endeavouring to blacken the rest of the world; which is another sort of homage men pay to virtue.

4. Though men will indulge their own appetites, they desire their children and relations, and those whom they love, to be virtuous and good.

III. Religion tends to make our minds free and easy, to give us confidence towards God, and peace in our own breasts. It sets our souls at liberty from the tyranny of hurtful lusts and passions, and it fills us with joy and good hope in every condition of life. Religion, thoroughly imbibed, has a direct natural tendency to procure all these blessings for us; whereas vice and wickedness both corrupt and enslave our minds. When a man ventures to break the commands of God, he is generally plunged by it into abundance of troubles and perplexities.

IV. Piety and virtue make everything else good, and of good use, which a man has, or that happens to him, whereas sin and wickedness tend to corrupt and spoil everything. There is no condition but what to a good man may serve to very good ends and purposes, whether a man be high or low in the world. If he be in affliction, then patience, humility, and resignation to the will of God will make him a great man in that. If God be pleased to put him in a high station, integrity, sobriety, and a public spirit will add to the greatness of his condition, and make him a public blessing.

V. All sin is injustice, which is by everybody looked upon to be a mean, base thing. It is a common excuse for other defects, that they do nobody any harm, that they are just and honest in their dealings, and therefore they hope that God will overlook other things. Tully says, “Piety is justice toward God,” and therefore impiety and dis- obedience must be injustice. It is the basest and worst sort Of injustice, ingratitude.

VI. The highest end that can be pretended to by any vice is only the procuring some pleasure or convenience for ourselves, in our passage through this world. This is but a poor thing if compared with eternity. It is a great advantage of the good man, that he has hope in his death. This may well support him, and make him live cheerfully in any condition in the meantime. Inferences:

1. Since religion is in itself so excellent a thing, this should encourage good men to persist in doing their duty, and not be ashamed either of the profession or the practise of religion.

2. From these considerations of the excellency of religion, all may be urged to the love and practice of it. (Richard Willis, D.D.)

The righteous and his neighbour

Every righteous man has a neighbour whom he excels. The righteous man and his neighbour are here placed side by side. The righteous is more excellent--

I. In his birth and parentage.

1. Now “sons of God”--by adoption, by birth, by privilege.

2. “Of your father the devil.” Satan nursed into strength the principles of evil, and then planted them in human nature (Genesis 3:1-24.).

II. In the visible character that he bears.

1. The name “righteous” is sufficiently indicative.

2. “The lusts of your father ye will do.”

III. In the principle on which he acts, i.e., love. Two opposite principles--love, hatred. The principles of the righteous are better than their outward character. The pinciples of the ungodly are worse.

IV. In the ends which he pursues.

1. The glory of God--lasting, noble.

2. The interests of self--transient, base (2 Timothy 3:2).

V. In the influence which he exerts. The world is a field.

1. The righteous sow in it--to the spirit.

2. The ungodly sow in it--to the flesh.

VI. In the pleasures which he enjoys.

1. Divine, holy, satisfying.

2. Earthly, polluting, unsatisfying (Luke 15:16).

VII. In the destiny which awaits him.

1. The maturity of holiness--like Christ.

2. The maturity of ungodliness--like Satan.

The infallible comparison

The term “righteous,” as used in Scripture, is not to be limited to the discharge of those duties which man owes to man. It is employed to denote a just and devout and godly person, in distinction from the unrighteous and the wicked. It embraces all we mean by being pious, religious, and good. By the term “neighbour,” is not to be understood the vicious and the vile who may live close to the dwelling of the righteous. Compared with the ordinarily praiseworthy neighbour, the devout, God-fearing, decided Christian is at advantage.

1. He is more excellent in the principles by which his conduct is governed, a man may be moral, because he values his reputation, or because it suits his taste, or his health, or advances his worldly interest, and not because God has commanded him to do justly and love mercy. The unrenewed man pursues his own private interests--the righteous will sacrifice it for a greater public good. The man of sterling piety is more worthy of our confidence than the individual who is governed by other motives than those of the fear of God and love to his brethren.

2. More excellent in his example and influence. Every man’s life will correspond to the temper of his heart, and the maxims and motives that govern him. When the whole conduct is minutely examined, every man is found what he appears to be. The grace of God improves all the principles of man’s moral nature. To the full extent of his circle, his conduct has a salutary effect on all around him. The righteous may be of retired habits, but a pattern will be taken of his life, and it will, like the leaven in the meal, be diffused wherever he is known with more or less of usefulness. His ungodly neighbour can boast of nothing more than a scanty morality, whose highest motive is self-love and self-interest.

3. More excellent in his alliances. There is a close and endearing relationship between all the subjects of the kingdom of grace. Each is united to God, and to all holy beings, by the tenderest ties of kindred affection. The righteous is entitled to whatever honour and dignity may accrue to him from his union to the Creator, the Redeemer and the Sanctifier, and to every member of the holy household.

4. More excellent inasmuch as he is the heir of a better destiny. Externally, in many points, they may resemble each other now. This may deceive for a while. When the Christian receives his crown of glory, the difference will be seen to be infinite. On the righteous the Redeemer will smile for ever; on the other He will eternally frown. This subject teaches a lesson of humility and gratitude. If we have any excellence of character, it is the gift of God. The superior excellence of the righteous over the wicked shows us the obligations they are under to make their high distinction obvious to the eye of the world. (D. A. Clark.)

The superior excellency of the religious

Never were the qualities of a parent more really derived unto their children than the image and similitude of the Divine excellences are stamped upon heaven-born souls: some beams of that eternal light are darted in upon them, and make them shine with an eminent splendour; and they are always aspiring to a nearer conformity with Him, still breathing after a further communication of His Holy Spirit, and daily finding the power thereof correcting the ruder deformities of their natures, and superinducing the beautiful delineations of God’s image upon them, that any one who observes them may perceive their relation to God, by the excellency of their deportment in the world.

I. Having regarded the righteous man’s excellency, in regard of his birth and extraction, we proceed to consider his qualities and endowments, and shall begin with those of his understanding, his knowledge, and wisdom.

1. His knowledge is conversant about the noblest objects; he contemplates that infinite Being whose perfections can never enough be admired, but still afford new matter to delight him, to ravish his affections, to raise his wonder. And, if we have a mind to the studies of nature and human science, he is best disposed for it, having his faculties cleared, and his understanding heightened by Divine contemplations. But his knowledge doth not rest in speculations, but directeth his practice, and determineth his choice. And he is the most prudent as well as the most knowing person. He knows how to secure his greatest interest, to provide for the longest life, to prefer solid treasures to gilded trifles, the soul to the body, eternity to a moment.

2. We proceed to another of his endowments, the greatness of his mind and his contempt of the world. To be taken up with trifles, and concerned in little things, is an evidence of a weak and naughty mind. And so are all wicked and irreligious persons. But the pious person hath his thoughts far above these painted vanities; his felicity is not patched up of so mean shreds; it is simple, and comprised in one chief good: his soul advanceth itself by rational passions towards the Author of its being, the fountain of goodness and pleasure: he hath none in heaven but Him; and there is none upon earth whom he desires besides Him. The knowledge of nature hath been reputed means to enlarge the soul and breed in it a contempt of earthly enjoyments. He that hath accustomed himself to consider the vastness of the universe, and the final proportion which the point we live in bears to the rest of the world, may perhaps come to think less of the possessions of some acres, or of that fame which can at most spread itself through a small corner of this earth. Whatever be in this, sure I am that the knowledge of God, and the frequent thoughts of heaven, must needs prove far more effectual to elevate and aggrandise the mind.

3. And this, by the affinity, will lead us to another endowment, wherein the excellency of the righteous man doth appear; and that is, that heroic magnanimity and courage wherewith he is inspired, and which makes him confidently achieve the most difficult actions, and resolutely undergo the hardest sufferings that he is called to. Let heathen Rome boast of a Regulus, a Decius, or some two or three more, stimulated by a desire of glory, and perhaps animated by some secret hopes of future reward, who have devoted their life to the service of their country. But alas! what is this to an infinite number, not only of men, but even of women and children, who have died for the profession of their faith, neither seeking nor expecting any praise from men? And tell me who among the heathen did willingly endure the loss of reputation? Nay, that was their idol, and they could not part with it.

4. From courage and magnanimity, we pass to that which is the genuine issue and ordinary consequent of it, the liberty and freedom of the righteous person. Liberty is a privilege so highly rated by all men that many run the greatest hazards for the very name of it but there are few that enjoy it. I shall not speak of those fetters of ceremony, and chains of state, wherewith great men are tied; which make their actions constrained, and their converse uneasy: this is more to be pitied than blamed. But wicked and irreligious persons are under a far more shameful bondage: they are slaves to their own lusts, and suffer the violence and tyranny of their irregular appetites. But the holy and religious person hath broken these fetters, cast off the yoke of sin, and become the freeman of the Lord. It is religion that restores freedom to the soul, which philosophy did pretend to; it is that which doth sway and moderate all those blind passions and impetuous affections which else would hinder a man from the possession and enjoyment of himself, and makes him master of his own thoughts, motions, and desires, that he may do with freedom what he judgeth most honest and convenient.

5. Another particular wherein the nobleness and excellency of religion doth appear is in a charitable and benign temper. The righteous is gracious, and full of compassion; he showeth favour and lendeth; and makes it his work to serve mankind as much as he is able. His charity doth not express itself in one particular instance, as that of giving alms; but is vented as many ways as the variety of occasions do call for, and his power can reach to. He assisteth the poor with his money, the ignorant with his counsel, the afflicted with his comfort, the sick with the best of his skill, all with his blessings and prayers.

6. We shall name but one instance more wherein the righteous man excelleth his neighbour; and that is, his venerable temperance and purity. He hath risen above the vaporous sphere of sensual pleasure which darkeneth and debaseth the mind, which sullies its lustre, and abates its native vigour; while profane persons, wallowing in;impure lusts, do sink themselves below the condition of men.

II. Before we proceed further, it will be necessary to take off some prejudices and objections that arise against the nobleness and excellency of religion.

1. And the first is, that it enjoineth lowliness and humility; which men ordinarily look upon as an abject and base disposition. But if we ponder the matter we shall find that arrogancy and pride are the issues of base and silly minds, a giddiness incident to those who are raised suddenly to unaccustomed height: nor is there any vice doth more palpably defeat its own design, depriving a man of that honour and reputation which it makes him aim at. On the other hand, we shall find humility no silly and sneaking quality; but the greatest height and sublimity of the mind, and the only way to true honour.

2. Another objection against the excellency of a religious temper is, that the love of enemies, and pardon of injuries, which it includeth, is utterly inconsistent with the principles of honour. But if we have any value for the judgment of the wisest man and a great king, he will tell us that it is the honour of a man to cease from strife; and he that is slow to wrath is of great understanding. So that what is here brought as an objection against religion might with reason enough have been brought as an instance of its nobleness. Having thus illustrated and confirmed what is asserted in the text, that the righteous is more excellent than his neighbour, let us improve it in a check to that profane and atheistical spirit of drollery and scoffing at religion which hath got abroad in the world. Alas! do men consider what it is which they make the butt of their scoffs and reproaches? Have they nothing else to exercise their wit and vent their jests upon but that which is the most noble and excellent thing in the world? But let them do what they will; they but kick against the pricks. Religion hath so much native lustre and beauty, that, notwithstanding all the dirt they study to cast upon it, all the melancholy and deformed shapes they dress it in, it will attract the eyes and admiration of all sober and ingenuous persons; and while these men study to make it ridiculous, they shall but make themselves so. There are others who have not yet arrived to this height of profaneness, to laugh at all religion, but do vent their malice at those who are more conscientious and severe than themselves, under presumption that they are hypocrites and dissemblers. But besides that in this they may be guilty of a great deal of uncharitableness, it is to be suspected that they bear some secret dislike to piety itself, and hate hypocrisy more for its resemblance of that than for its own viciousness: otherwise whence comes it that they do not express the same animosity against other vices? (H. Scougal, M.A.)

The difference between the religious and irreligious man

Men without religion will sometimes ask, “Do not all men sin--even the religious? And, if so, is not the whole difference between them and ourselves that our offences are somewhat more numerous than theirs?” Now this must unquestionably be admitted. Still, whatever may be the resemblance upon this point, it is nevertheless true that men with and without religion differ in many other most important particulars.

1. The first difference between the sins of the religious and the irreligious man is, that the one does not allow himself in his sins and the other does. The real Christian never says, “I know such an action to be wrong, but yet I will do it--I know such an action to be right, but yet I will neglect to do it.” But in the other class of men we shall be often struck with the contrary line of conduct. Charge them with their neglect of God, and of their souls, and they say, perhaps, “We confess it to be wrong.” Consider the case as between man and man. We may conceive the affectionate child surprised into an act of disobedience or unkindness to the parent whom it loves; but we cannot conceive that child, if truly affectionate, setting itself deliberately and knowingly to wound that parent at the tenderest point. In the one case, an act of disobedience discovers a man in whom, though the flesh is weak, the spirit may be willing--in whom a momentary temptation has prevailed over the settled purpose and desire of his heart. In the other you have a man whose settled purpose is to do wrong. The language of a true Christian must be that of his Master: “I come to do Thy will, O God.”

2. A second distinction between a real Christian and one who is not a real Christian is this--the real Christian does not seek or find his happiness in sin. A man who is not really religious, if he wants amusement or indulgence, seeks for it, generally, either in the society of men without religion or in practices which the Word of God condemns. He sins, and it gives him no pain. On the contrary, the real Christian finds no happiness in sin. His pleasure is in prayer, in communion with God. He seeks his happiness in the fields of his duties. “O,” says he, “how I love Thy law! It is my meditation all the day.” The state and character of any person may to a great extent be judged by the nature of his pleasures. Does he seek them in trifles? he is a trifling man; does he seek them in worldly pursuits? he is a worldly man; does he seek them in vice? he is a vicious man; does he seek them in God and Christ? he is a Christian.

3. Thirdly, the habits of a real Christian are holy. Men are not to be judged by a few solitary actions of their lives. There is scarcely any life so dark as not to be lighted up by a few brighter actions--as a single star may glimmer through the most cloudy atmosphere; and there is no life so bright as not to be darkened by many spots--as many small clouds are apt to chequer even the clearest sky. But then we determine the real state of the heavens not by the single star, in the one case, or by the few clouds in the other. We ask what is the general aspect, the prevalent appearance: does night or day, does shade or sunshine, prevail? Thus also must we proceed in estimating the character of men. It is the habitual frame of the mind--it is what we may call the work-day character--it is the general, habitual, prevalent temper, conduct, conversation, in the family or the parish, in the shop or the farm, which are the only true tests of our condition. But let us bring the two classes to this standard, and we shall find that in the real Christian the habits are holy--in the insincere Christian they are unholy; that the one is habitually right and accidentally wrong, and the other habitually wrong and accidentally right. Such, then, is another highly important distinction between these classes.

4. Fourthly, every act of sin in real Christians is followed by sincere repentance. No feature is more essentially characteristic of a holy mind than a feeling of deep penitence for transgression. “My sin,” said the “man after God’s own heart,” “is ever before me.”

5. A fifth no less important feature by which the real Christian is distinguished is, that he anxiously seeks the pardon of his sins through Jesus Christ. Others too often seem to imagine their sins cancelled immediately upon their bare and cold acknowledgment of them. He, on the contrary, knows that the hatred of sin and indignation at the sinner must be deeply lodged in a mind of infinite purity. And his consolation is this--not that he can save himself, but that “he has an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”

6. The sixth and last point of distinction which I shall have time to notice between the real Christian and every other character is, that he alone seeks diligently from God a power to abstain from sin in future. If others even desire the pardon of their past sins, they are careless about future advancement in holiness. They, perhaps, persist in a course of sinning and repeating, through the whole stage of their lives. Heaven is every day mocked by the language of an unmeaning sorrow. No real hatred for the sin is felt. In the Christian a different feeling prevails. A deep abhorrence of sin mingles with his regret for it. His are tears of hatred as well as grief. There is a substantial distinction between a real Christian and every other character: something more than a mere line or shadowy difference here. If we carefully observe the several points of distinction which I have noticed, we shall find that they imply in the two classes of characters, in each particular instance, a different state of heart or mind. Let us seek a new and more sanctified nature: more and more of the influences of the sacred Spirit. In the fable of old, when the artist had made the figure of a man, he could not animate it without stealing fire from heaven. That heavenly fire is offered to us. Many has it already quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins. (Christian Observer.)

The way of the wicked seduceth them.

On seduction

The seduction of the lower class of females is due to the profligacy of men in a superior station in life. It is the custom to confine ourselves to generalities in the pulpit. But the reasoning which applies to all crimes acts languidly against each individual crime--it does not paint the appropriate baseness, or echo the reproaches of the heart.

1. The character of a seducer is base and dishonourable: if deceit is banished among equals; if the conduct of every man, to those of his own station in life, should be marked by veracity and good faith; why are fallacy and falsehood justified, because they are exercised by talents against ignorance, cunning against simplicity, power against weakness, opulence against poverty? No one ever lured a wretched creature to her ruin without such a complication of infamous falsehoods as would have condemned him to everlasting infamy, had they been exercised to the prejudice of any one in a higher scene of life: and what must be the depravity of that man who has no other criterion of what he shall do, Or from what he shall abstain, than impunity?

2. To the cruelty of seduction is generally added the baseness of abandoning its object, of leaving to perish in rags and hunger a miserable being bribed by promises and oaths of eternal protection and regard.

3. This crime cannot be defended under any of the ingenious systems by which men are perpetually vitiating their understandings. (Sidney Smith, M. A.)

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Proverbs 12:26". The Biblical Illustrator. 1905-1909. New York.

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

"The righteous is a guide to his neighbor; But the way of the wicked causeth them to err."

Here again one's obligation to his neighbor is stressed. The uncertainty of the Hebrew text here prompted this rendition: "A righteous man turns away from evil, but the way of the wicked leads them astray."[37]

Copyright Statement
James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Proverbs 12:26". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

The righteous is more excellent than his neighbour,.... Not than his neighbour who is righteous also; for though one may have more excellent gifts than another, or a larger measure of grace; one righteous man may have more faith than another, yet not more righteousness; every truly righteous man is justified by the same righteousness, even the righteousness of Christ; and therefore one cannot be more excellent, considered as righteous: but the righteous is more excellent than his neighbour, who is ungodly and unrighteous, or however who has no other righteousness than his own; though his neighbour may be of more noble birth, and have even the title of "his excellency" given him; though he may have a larger share of wealth and riches; and though he may have attained a greater degree of natural wisdom and understanding, be a man of brighter parts, and of a larger capacity; yet, being righteous, he is more excellent than he: his superior excellency lies in his righteousness, from whence he is denominated; the righteousness of Christ, imputed to him, is far better than the best righteousness of his neighbour; it being the righteousness of God, his is the righteousness of a creature; a perfect righteousness, whereas his is imperfect; a splendid and glorious one, his filthy rags; a very extensive one, by which all the seed of Israel are justified, his such as not one individual person can be justified by it; an everlasting one, that will answer for him that has it in a time to come, his like the morning cloud and early dew that passes away; yea, the inherent righteousness of a righteous man, or the grace of Christ, imparted to him and implanted in him, that principle of holiness in him is greatly better than the righteousness of his neighbour a Pharisee; for this is true and real holiness, truth in the inward part, whereas the other's is only a shadow of holiness, a form of godliness without the power; this has the Spirit of God for its author, it is his workmanship, and a curious piece it is, whereas the other is only the produce of nature; this makes a man all glorious within, and gives him a meetness for heaven, whereas, notwithstanding the other, the man is inwardly full of all manner of iniquity, and has neither a right nor meetness for eternal glory. Nay, the external works of righteousness done by a truly righteous man are preferable to his neighbour's, destitute of the grace of God; the one being a course of obedience to the will of God, and a respect to all his commandments; when the other consists only of a little negative holiness, and of an observance of a few rituals of religion: the one spring from a heart purified by the blood of Christ, and the grace of the Spirit, and from principles of grace and love, and are done to the glory of God; whereas the other do not arise from a pure heart, and faith unfeigned; nor are they done sincerely, with a view to the glory of God: only to be seen of men, and gain credit and reputation among them; and in these respects the righteous man is more excellent as such than his neighbour, who at most and best is only externally and morally righteous: his superior excellency does not lie in nature, in which they are both alike; nor in outward circumstances, in which they may differ; nor in the opinion of men, with whom the saints are the offscouring of all things; but in the, esteem of Christ, and through his grace and righteousness; see Psalm 16:3; Some render the words, "the righteous explores his way more than his neighbour"F14יתר מרעהו צדיק "justus explorat viam suam prae socio suo", Gejerus; "explorat pro compascuo suo justus", Schultens; "explorate ducit proximum suum justus", Cocceius. ; seeks and finds out a better way than he does; and is careful that he is not seduced and carried out of the why, and perish;

but the way of the wicked seduceth them; or causes them to err; it deceives, by promising the honour, pleasure, and profit, which it does not lead unto and give, and which they find not in it; and hereby they are led to wander from the way of the righteous, by which they attain a superior excellency to them.

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Gill, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 12:26". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

The righteous l [is] more excellent than his neighbour: but the way of the wicked seduceth them.

(l) That is, more liberal in giving.

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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Proverbs 12:26". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

more excellent — (Compare Margin); or, “more successful,” while the wicked fail; or, we may read it: “The righteous guides his friend, but,” etc., that is, The ability of the righteous to aid others is contrasted with the ruin to which the way of the wicked leads themselves.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Proverbs 12:26". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". 1871-8.

Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament

26 The righteous looketh after his pastures,

But the way of the godless leadeth them into error.

In 26a no acceptable meaning is to be gained from the traditional mode of vocalization. Most of the ancients translate יתר as part. to יתר , as it occurs in post-bibl. Hebr., e.g. , חבּה יתרה , prevailing, altogether peculiar love. Thus the Targum, טב מן הבריהּ ; Venet . πεπερίττευται (after Kimchi); on the other hand, Aquila, active: περισσεύων τὸν πλησίον (making the neighbour rich), which the meaning of the Kal as well as the form יתר oppose; Luther, “The righteous man is better than his neighbour,” according to which Fleischer also explains, “Probably יתר from יתר , πλεονάζειν , has the meaning of πλέον ἔχων, πλεονεκτῶν , he gains more honour, respect, riches, etc., than the other, viz., the unrighteous.” Yet more satisfactory Ahron b. Joseph: not the nobility and the name, but this, that he is righteous, raises a man above others. In this sense we would approve of the praestantior altero justus , if only the two parts of the proverb were not by such a rendering wholly isolated from one another. Thus יתר is to be treated as the fut. of התיר . The Syr. understands it of right counsel; and in like manner Schultens explains it, with Cocceius, of intelligent, skilful guidance, and the moderns ( e.g. , Gesenius) for the most part of guidance generally. Ewald rather seeks (because the proverb-style avoids the placing of a fut. verb at the commencement of the proverb but cf. Proverbs 17:10) to interpret יתר as a noun in the sense of director, but his justification of the fixed ā is unfounded. And generally this sense of the word is exposed to many objections. The verb תּוּר signifies, after its root, to go about, “to make to go about,” but is, however, not equivalent to, to lead (wherefore Böttcher too ingeniously derives יתר = יאתר from אתר = אשׁר ); and wherefore this strange word, since the Book of Proverbs is so rich in synonyms of leading and guiding! The Hiph . התיר signifies to send to spy, Judges 1:23, and in this sense the poet ought to have said יתר לרעהוּ : the righteous spies out (the way) for his neighbour, he serves him, as the Targum-Talmud would say, as תּיּר . Thus connected with the obj. accus. the explanation would certainly be: the righteous searches out his neighbour (Löwenstein), he has intercourse with men, according to the maxim, “ Trau schau wem .” But why not רעהוּ , but מרעהוּ , which occurs only once, Proverbs 19:7, in the Mishle , and then for an evident reason? Therefore, with Döderlein, Dathe, J. D. Michaelis, Ziegler, and Hitzig, we prefer to read מרעהוּ ; it is at least not necessary, with Hitzig, to change יתר into יתר , since the Hiphil may have the force of the intens. of the Kal , but יתר without the jussive signification is a poetic licence for יתיר . That תור can quite well be used of the exploring of the pasture, the deriv. יתוּר , Job 39:18, shows. Thus altered, 26a falls into an appropriately contrasted relation to 26b. The way of the godless leads them into error; the course of life to which they have given themselves up has such a power over them that they cannot set themselves free from it, and it leads the enslaved into destruction: the righteous, on the contrary, is free with respect to the way which he takes and the place where he stays; his view (regard) is directed to his true advancement, and he looketh after his pasture, i.e. , examines and discovers, where for him right pasture, i.e. , the advancement of his outer and inner life, is to be found. With מרעהוּ there is a combination of the thought of this verse with the following, whose catch-word is צידו , his prey.

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Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Proverbs 12:26". 1854-1889.

Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

See here, 1. That good men do well for themselves; for they have in themselves an excellent character, and they secure to themselves an excellent portion, and in both they excel other people: The righteous is more abundant than his neighbour (so the margin); he is richer, though not in this world's goods, yet in the graces and comforts of the Spirit, which are the true riches. There is a true excellency in religion; it ennobles men, inspires them with generous principles, makes them substantial; it is an excellency which is, in the sight of God, of great price, who is the true Judge of excellency. His neighbour may make a greater figure in the world, may be more applauded, but the righteous man has the intrinsic worth. 2. That wicked men do ill for themselves; they walk in a way which seduces them. It seems to them to be not only a pleasant way, but the right way; it is so agreeable to flesh and blood that they therefore flatter themselves with an opinion that it cannot be amiss, but they will not gain the point they aim at, nor enjoy the good they hope for. It is all a cheat; and therefore the righteous is wiser and happier than his neighbour, that yet despise him and trample upon him.

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Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Proverbs 12:26". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". 1706.

Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible

The righteous is abundant; though not in this world's goods, yet in the graces and comforts of the Spirit, which are the true riches. Evil men vainly flatter themselves that their ways are not wrong.

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Henry, Matthew. "Concise Commentary on Proverbs 12:26". "Matthew Henry Concise Commentary

on the Whole Bible". 1706.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

The righteous is more excellent than his neighbour: but the way of the wicked seduceth them.

Neighbour — Than any other men.

Seduceth — Heb. maketh them to err, to lose that excellency or happiness which they had promised themselves.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 12:26". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Proverbs 12:26 The righteous [is] more excellent than his neighbour: but the way of the wicked seduceth them.

Ver. 26. The righteous is more excellent than his neighbour.] Let him dwell by whomsoever; he is ever a better man than his neighbours; he is "a prince of God" among them, as Abraham was among the Hittites. The Jews say that those seventy souls that went with Jacob into Egypt, were as much worth as all the seventy nations in the world. Nemo me maior, nisi qui iustior, said Agesilaus, when he heard the king of Persia styled the great king, i.e., I acknowledge none more excellent than myself, unless more righteous; none greater, unless better: "Upon all the glory shall be a defence," [Isaiah 4:5] that is, upon all the righteous, those only glorious, those "excellent of the earth," [Psalms 16:3] that are "sealed up to the day of redemption." [Ephesians 4:30] Now, whatsoever is sealed with a seal, that is excellent in its own kind, as Isaiah 28:25 hordeum signatum, excellent barley. The poorest village is an ivory palace, in quo est pastor et credentes aliqui, saith Luther, if it have in it but a minister and a few good people.

But the way of the wicked seduceth them,] i.e., The wicked will not be persuaded of the just man’s excellence; he cannot discern, nor will be drawn to believe, that there is any such gain in godliness, any such worth in well doing, any such difference between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not. He therefore goes another way to work, but is fearfully frustrated; for "who ever yet hardened himself against God and prospered?" [Job 9:4] They think themselves far better than the righteous; and so they were indeed, if they could find that felicity in wicked ways which their deceitful hearts promise them. But this they can never do.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 12:26". John Trapp Complete Commentary. 1865-1868.

The Popular Commentary by Paul E. Kretzmann

v. 26. The righteous is more excellent than his neighbor, rather, guideth his friend aright, being concerned about his welfare, in a true spirit of altruism; but the way of the wicked seduceth them, their own foolishness and wickedness leading them astray.

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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Proverbs 12:26". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". 1921-23.

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae



Proverbs 12:26. The righteous is more excellent than his neighbour.

MEN in their external appearance are alike; so far at least, that their moral character cannot with any accuracy be determined by it. But God, who searches the heart, sees an immense difference between different men; such a difference as suffices to arrange them all under two great classes—the righteous and the wicked. In the righteous he finds an excellency which he in vain looks for in others; and to point out this superior excellency is my object, in this discourse. But here it is proper to observe, that Solomon does not draw the comparison between a righteous and a notoriously wicked man; but between a righteous man and “his neighbour,” however excellent that neighbour may be: for, if there be in any man a want of positive and inherent righteousness, whatever else he may possess, he must be classed with the wicked: and with such only will my present comparison be instituted.

“The righteous man, then, is more excellent than his neighbour;”

I. In his connexions—

A truly righteous man is born of God—

[This is frequently and fully declared in the Holy Scriptures [Note: John 1:12; John 3:5 and 1 John 3:1.] — — — and though he be the poorest man upon earth, he is entitled to address his God under the endearing name of Father.]

He is united to Christ—

[He is united to him as a building to the foundation [Note: 1 Peter 2:4-5.]; as a wife to her husband [Note: Ephesians 5:32. Revelation 21:9.]; as a branch to the vine [Note: John 15:1.]; as a member to the body [Note: Ephesians 5:30.]. There is no other union so close and intimate, except that which subsists between God the Father and the Lord Jesus [Note: John 17:21; John 17:23.]: for he is not only one body with him, but one spirit also [Note: 1 Corinthians 6:17.]: for Christ lives in him [Note: Galatians 2:20.], and is his very life [Note: Colossians 3:4.].]

The Holy Ghost also dwells in him—

[He is a temple of the Holy Ghost [Note: 1 Corinthians 6:19.], who abides in him more manifestly and more effectually than in the whole universe besides: and so desirable a residence is his heart accounted by the Holy Spirit, that, in comparison of it, the temple of Solomon itself was held in utter contempt [Note: Isaiah 66:1-2.].]

He is of the same family with all the glorified saints and angels—

[There is but one family, whether in heaven or earth, of which Christ is the head [Note: Ephesians 3:15.]: and so far is he from being disowned by them, that there is not an angel before the throne that does not account it an honour to wait upon him, and to minister unto him [Note: Hebrews 1:14.].]

What does any worldly man possess, that can be compared with this?

[Whose child is he? “A child of the wicked one [Note: Matthew 13:38. 1 John 3:10.]:” as our Lord has said, “Ye are of your father the devil [Note: John 8:44.].” True it is, that in the last day the holy angels will minister to them also; but it will only be to “gather them together” from every part of the universe, and to “bind them up in bundles,” and to cast them headlong into the fire of hell [Note: Matthew 13:30.]. Tell me, then, to which of these the superior excellency belongs?]

Let us trace this,

II. In his principles—

The righteous man is altogether under the influence of faith and love—

[He looks for salvation solely through the blood and righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ. He has no hope whatever, but in the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. As for any righteousness of his own, he utterly disclaims it. He knows, that if he were judged by the best act he ever performed, he must for ever perish. The way which God himself has provided for the salvation of sinners is that which he affects, and in which he glories: the language of his inmost soul is this, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom (or by which) the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world [Note: Galatians 6:11.].”

At the same time that he looks thus to be saved as a sinner, he labours to walk as a saint, and to “adorn the doctrine of God his Saviour in all things.” Nor is he impelled to this by any slavish fear of punishment: no: “the love of Christ constrains him; because he thus judges, that if one died for all, then were all dead; and that he died for all, that they who live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him who died for them and rose again [Note: 2 Corinthians 5:14-15.].” And as he serves his God from love, so is he actuated by the same principle in all his intercourse with men: “he walks in love, as Christ has loved him [Note: Ephesians 5:2.];” and he looks upon this as the best fruit of his faith [Note: Galatians 5:6.], and as the surest evidence of his acceptance with God [Note: 1 John 3:14; 1 John 3:19; 1 John 4:7; 1 John 4:17.].]

How widely different from these are the principles of the wicked!

[Let it be remembered, that I am not speaking of those who indulge in gross wickedness, but of those only who are not positively righteous. Whatever they may possess in respect of outward morality, they are strangers to the true exercise both of faith and love. They do not fully enter into the great mystery of redemption: they feel not their need of such a Saviour as God has provided for them. That God himself should become a man, and die under the load of their sins, and work out a righteousness wherein they may stand accepted before him—they see no occasion for all this: they think they might be saved on easier terms, or, if I may so express it, at a cheaper rate. They cannot see why they should have so inestimable a price paid for them, when their own repentance and reformation might have well sufficed for all the demands which God had upon them. Nor do they feel their need of the Holy Spirit to teach and sanctify them, when their own wisdom and strength were, upon the whole, adequate to their necessities. At all events, if they assent to the Gospel salvation as true, they do not embrace it with their whole hearts, and rejoice in it as that which alone could give them a hope before God. So also in their obedience, all which they do is from constraint, rather than from love: as clearly appears from hence, that they are satisfied, upon the whole, with what they do; whereas, if they felt their obligations to God for the gift of his only Son to die for them, and of his Holy Spirit to renew them, they would feel nothing but dissatisfaction and grief on account of their short-comings and defects. In fact, all their works are done merely in conformity with the customs of the world, and for the purpose of forming a ground for self-estimation, and for the estimation of those around them.

What comparison, then, will these bear with the characters with which they are here contrasted? They are as inferior to the righteous “as dross is to the purest gold [Note: Jeremiah 6:30.].”]

Let us trace the comparison yet further,

III. In his habits—

The righteous man lives altogether to his God—

[See him from day to day: his whole soul is humbled before God, under a sense of his own extreme unworthiness. Were you to behold him in his secret chamber, you would behold him more abased before his God for an evil thought or desire, than an ungodly man would be for the actual commission of the grossest sin. Oh! the sighs and groans which he involuntarily utters, under the load of that burthen, that body of sin and death, from which he cannot get free! and many are the tears which he sheds in secret, because he cannot attain that perfect holiness which his soul panteth after.

With his humiliation he breathes forth in devoutest accents his prayers and praise. His prayers are no formal service, but a holy wrestling with God; and his praises resemble those of heaven, that are accompanied with the devoutest prostration of soul.

A life of self-denial, too, characterizes his daily walk. He desires to “crucify the flesh, with its affections and lusts;” and it is his incessant labour to “mortify the whole body of sin.” “Not a right hand, or right eye,” would he willingly retain: he would gladly part with every thing, however dear to him, if only he may but enjoy the testimony of a good conscience, and approve himself faithful to the heart-searching God.

To prepare for death and judgment is his one concern. He lives as on the borders of eternity. He knows not at what hour the bridegroom may arrive; and therefore he “keeps his loins girt, and his lamp trimmed, that he may be ready to enter into the bride-chamber” with his beloved Lord.]

But how is it with the wicked in these respects?

[Are they from day to day humbling themselves in the Divine presence? What cares and sorrows they have are altogether of a worldly nature. To “abhor themselves,” like Job, and “to repent in dust and ashes,” unless for some wickedness that has exposed them to public hatred and contempt, is no part of their experience before God.

And what are their prayers and thanksgivings? Nothing but a mere lip-service, in which their hearts are not at all engaged.

As for self-denial, they know little about it. Their whole life is a system of self-indulgence. They may not run into gross sins on account of their regard for their character amongst men; but they pursue with unabated ardour those earthly vanities on which their hearts are set. Pleasure, or riches, or honour, occupy all their thoughts, and stimulate all their exertions. They live altogether for themselves, and not for God; for the body, and not for the soul; for time, and not for eternity.

Surely the further we compare the characters, the more will the superiority of the righteous appear.]

It remains that we yet further contemplate the righteous,

4. In his end—

How blessed this will be, no words can adequately describe!

[Were you present with him in his dying hour, and God were to open your eyes, you would see angels attendant on him, to bear upon their wings his departing spirit into Abraham’s bosom. Could you follow him, and witness his reception by the Most High God, what plaudits would you hear! “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord!” How would you, then, behold him graced with a crown of gold, seated upon a throne, invested with a kingdom, and shining forth with a glory that would eclipse the noon-day sun! To all eternity will he then live, in the immediate fruition of his God, holy as God himself is holy; and happy, according to his capacity, as God himself is happy.]

Alas! alas! here all comparison must for ever cease—

[The wicked, unhappy creatures! are dragged into the presence of an angry God, in vain “calling upon rocks and mountains to cover them from his wrath.” From him they hear that terrific sentence, “Depart accursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels!” and into that fire are they cast, even “that lake that burneth with fire and brimstone,” from, whence “the smoke of their torment will ascend for ever and ever.” But this is too painful to reflect upon. O that the very mention of it may suffice to confirm the assertion in my text, and to convince you all wherein alone true excellency can be found!]


1. Those whom God has classed with “the wicked”—

[You will find, in the words following my text, that the persons contrasted with the righteous are so designated: and of them it is said, “The way of the wicked seduceth them.” Now, it must be granted, that “their way” is more easy, and to flesh and blood more pleasant, and more approved by an ungodly world; and, therefore they imagine it to be, on the whole, preferable to the difficult and self-denying and despised path of the righteous. But they are “seduced” by these specious appearances; and “a deceived heart has turned them aside; so that they cannot deliver their soul, or say, Is there not a lie in my right hand [Note: Isaiah 44:20.]?” But be dispassionate, and judge as before the Lord. If you deceive yourselves, you cannot deceive him: he will judge, not according to your own erroneous estimate of yourselves, but according to truth, and to the real state of your souls. Yet methinks you cannot deceive even yourselves, if you will but reflect with any degree of candour upon the comparison that has been set before you. In truth, you have in your own bosoms a witness for God: for, whether your conduct be more or less moral, there is not one of you that does not say in his heart, especially in his more thoughtful moments, “Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his.”]

2. Those who are disposed to number themselves amongst “the righteous”—

[Many who claim this distinction prove themselves, by their habits, most unworthy of it. It is a melancholy truth, that many professors of religion, instead of being more excellent than their neighbour, are inferior to him in almost every thing that is amiable and praiseworthy. Such self-deceivers will have a fearful account to give at the last day. To every one, then, amongst you I would say, If you profess yourselves to be righteous, let it appear to all around that you are so by the superior excellence of your lives. Our Lord says to his disciples, “What do ye more than others?” More than others ye ought to do; inasmuch as your obligations and assistances are more than others are acquainted with. You are to “shine as lights in a dark world;” and in every relation of life to approve yourselves more excellent than your neighbour. Are you husbands or wives, parents or children, masters or servants, you should fill up your station in life more to the honour of God and the good of the community than any others around you. I conclude, then, with that direction which our blessed Lord has given you: “So let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”]

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Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Proverbs 12:26". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. 1832.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

More excellent; either,

1. In his temper and disposition, more just, and generous, and public-spirited, and merciful, &c. Or,

2. In his condition, more happy, notwithstanding all his sufferings and the contrary opinion of the world concerning them.

Than his neighbour; than any other men.

Seduceth them, Heb. maketh them to err or wander, to lose that excellency or happiness which they had promised to themselves in and by their wicked practices.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Proverbs 12:26". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

26. More excellent… neighbour — Meaning, than his unrighteous neighbour. There is some difficulty in this verse on the word rendered more excellent, or, by some, more abundant. “The weight of later criticism is in favour of rendering thus: ‘The righteous man guides, or shows, the way to his neighbour; but the way of the wicked misleads them.’” So Gesenius in Lex., with whom agree Stuart, Zockler, Miller. But Fausset adheres to the old rendering.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Proverbs 12:26". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

The antecedent of "them" in Proverbs 12:26 b is "the wicked" (plural). [Note: Cf. J. A. Emerton, "A Note in Proverbs 12:26 ," Zeitschrift fr die Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft76 (1964):191-93.]

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Proverbs 12:26". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Proverbs 12:26. The righteous is more excellent than his neighbour — Than any other man who is not righteous; that is, either, 1st, He is more excellent in his spirit and conduct, more just, benevolent, public-spirited, and merciful, &c.; or, 2d, In his condition, more happy, notwithstanding all his sufferings, and the contrary opinion of the world concerning him. He is even richer, though not in this world’s goods, yet in the graces and comforts of the Holy Spirit, which are the true riches. There is a real excellence in religion: it ennobles men, gives them elevated views and expectations; inspires them with disinterested and generous principles; renders them sincere, constant, and faithful; and endues them with fortitude, patience, and peace. It has an excellence which, in the sight of God, who is an infallible judge of what is excellent, is of great price and value. His neighbour may make a greater figure in the world, and may be more applauded, but the righteous man has the intrinsic worth. But the way of the wicked seduceth them — Hebrew, ותתעם, maketh them to err, or wander; that is, to fail of obtaining, or to lose, that advantage or happiness which they had promised themselves in and by their wicked practices. The way in which they walk seems to them to be not only a pleasant but the right way; it is so agreeable to flesh and blood, that they therefore flatter themselves with an opinion that it cannot be wrong; but they will not gain the point they aim at, nor enjoy the good they hope for. It is all a cheat; and therefore the righteous is wiser than his neighbours, who yet despise and trample upon him.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Proverbs 12:26". Joseph Benson's Commentary. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Just. A true friend will make any sacrifice. (Calmet) --- "I am convinced that friendship can subsist only among the good," says Cicero. Hebrew, "the just hath more, (Calmet; Protestants) or is more excellent than his neighbour." Septuagint, "the intelligent just is his own friend; (but the sentences of the impious are contrary to equity. Evils shall pursue sinners) but the way," &c. (Grabe) (Haydock)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Proverbs 12:26". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

the righteous = a righteous one, is more excellent than his neighbour = guideth his neighbour.

seduceth them = leadeth them astray. The clauses are not "unrelated", nor is the text "corrupt beyond restoration", when properly translated.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Proverbs 12:26". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

The righteous is more excellent than his neighbour: but the way of the wicked seduceth them.

The righteous is more excellent [Hebrew, more richly abundant; yaateer (H8446): akin to the Greek outhar] than his neighbour - though the world, judging by outward circumstances thinks differently. Even the righteous themselves are tempted by affliction at times to be cast down as if there were no gain in piety, and as if the ungodly fared better (Psalms 73:1-28; Malachi 3:14).

But the way of the wicked seduceth them. If, then "the righteous be more excellent titan his neighbour," how is it that men do not follow their way? Because "the way of the wicked," which is apparently more excellent, or abundant in temporal advantages, seduceth them (Kimchi in Mercer). It "seduceth" with false hopes, doomed to end in the destruction of those so seduced. The way of the righteous, on the contrary, however differently it may be regarded now, is really more excellent, and at last will be seen by all to be so.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Proverbs 12:26". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(26) The righteous is more excellent than his neighbour.—Though, perhaps, inferior to him in worldly advantages. Or, it may signify, the just man is a guide to his neighbour, showing him “the way wherein he should walk;” the wicked, on the other hand, so far from guiding others, himself helplessly wanders.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Proverbs 12:26". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

The righteous is more excellent than his neighbour: but the way of the wicked seduceth them.
13; 17:27; Psalms 16:3; Matthew 5:46-48; Luke 6:32-36; 1 Peter 2:18-21
or, abundant. but.
Psalms 18:12,13; James 1:13,14; 2 Peter 2:18-22; 1 John 2:26; Revelation 12:9; 13:14

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Proverbs 12:26". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge".

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary


Pro . Is more excellent than his neighbour, rather "guides his neighbour." Delitzsch reads, "looketh after his pastures." The Hebrew word signifies "abundance" (see Miller's remarks in the comments on the verses).



Translating this verse, "The righteous guides his neighbour aright," we remark:—

I. That the righteous man guides his neighbour both by his word and by his life. He guides him by wise counsel—by giving him "a word in season" (see Pro )—and he more especially guides him by his holy life. His character is a revealer of the way of life. The light which shines through a lantern reveals the path, not only to the man who carries it, but to him who beholds it if he should be disposed to follow in the same road. The righteous man is a light-bearer—he has moral light within him, which breaks forth in the acts of his daily life, and sets a good example to other men, and so, to some extent, his life, like that of his Master's, is a "light of men."

II. That he guides him aright because he shows him how to make the most of his life. Men are generally anxious to live long, and the righteous man shows his neighbour how to live long by living well. A husbandman values his trees, not by the length of time they have stood in the ground, but by the amount of fruit they yield. There are trees which bring forth more fruit in one season than others do during the whole time they stand in the orchard. And the length of a man's life is to be estimated not by the number of years he has been in the world, but in the use which he has made of them. Many men who leave the world comparatively young have lived longer, because to more purpose, than others who have not died until they were a hundred years old (On this subject see homiletics on chap. Pro , page 164).

III. That the wicked man also exercises an influence upon his neighbour; but his influence tends to evil. He is a seducer—one who leads astray by false professions and promises. Like the good man, he emits a light, but it is the false light of the ignus fatuus, which is the offspring of the stagnant swamp, and which will only lure him who follows it to destruction. One of the chief employments of the bad, and that which seems to afford them the greatest pleasure, is to carry other men to ruin. And even when the wicked man is not an active seducer, his way, or his life, seduces his neighbour. The force of an evil example is very great, and men are insensibly influenced by it. Men of ungodliness diffuse around them an atmosphere of moral unhealthiness, which insensibly affects those around them, who are not godly, and strengthens them in all their downward tendencies. Such men are "as graves which appear not" (Luk ), and are centres of spiritual disease and death.


If then, the "righteous be more excellent than his neighbour," how is it that men do not follow their way? Because "the way of the wicked, which is apparently more excellent, or abundant in temporal advantages, seduces them (Kimchi in Mercer). It "seduceth" with false hopes, doomed in the end to destruction.—Fausset.

The way of the godless leads them into error; the course of life to which they have given themselves up has such a power over them that they cannot set themselves free from it, and it leads the enslaved into destruction. The righteous, on the contrary, is free with respect to the way which he takes, and the place where he stays. His view (regard) is directed to his true advancement, and he looks after his pasture (see Critical Notes), i.e., examines and discovers where, for him, right pastures, i.e., the advancement of his outer and inner life, is to be found.—Delitzsch.

Let him dwell by whomsoever, he is ever a better man than his neighbours; he is "a prince of God" among them, as Abraham was amongst the Hittites. Said Agesilaus, when he heard the King of Persia style himself the Great King—"I acknowledge none more excellent than myself, unless more righteous; none greater, unless better." "Upon all the glory shall be a defence" (Isa )—that is, upon all the righteous, those only glorious, those "excellent of the earth" (Psa 16:2), that are "sealed to the day of redemption" (Eph 4:30). Now, whatsoever is sealed with a seal, that is excellent in its own kind, as Isa 28:25. The poorest village is an ivory palace, saith Luther, if it have in it but a minister and a few good people. But the wicked will not be persuaded of the good man's excellency, he cannot discern, nor will not be drawn to believe that there is any such gain in godliness, any such difference between the righteous and the wicked. He, therefore, goes another way to work.—Trapp.

I. In regard of their condition in this present life. They have all prerogatives and preferments. By parentage every one of them is God's child. By dignity they are all kings. By inheritance they have title to heaven and earth; their food is heavenly manna, their clothing is Christ's righteousness, their attendants are the holy angels.—II. In respect of their state that shall be in the life to come. They shall have perfect happiness, and be made like unto Jesus Christ, more excellent and puissant than the most glorious angels.—Dod.

The "wicked" man not only does not "guide" his neighbour, but does not guide himself, actually "leads" himself "astray." Here is the same climax we have so often noticed (chap. Pro ).—Miller.

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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Proverbs 12:26". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.

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