Be not thou envious against evil men, neither desire to be with them. For their heart studieth destruction, and their lips talk of mischief. Through wisdom is an house builded; and by understanding it is established: And by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches. A wise man is strong; yea, a man of knowledge increaseth strength. For by wise counsel thou shalt make thy war: and in multitude of counsellors there is safety. Wisdom is too high for a fool: he openeth not his mouth in the gate. He that deviseth to do evil shall be called a mischievous person. The thought of foolishness is sin: and the scorner is an abomination to men.
If we carry on as undoubtedly we ought, the same idea of wisdom through the whole book of the Proverbs as we began it with, and consider that Christ is the wisdom of God that is spoken of, We shall find some very sweet things concerning Jesus in these verses. It is indeed through Christ, and in Christ; and upon Christ, the house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens, is built. Other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, and which God the Father himself laid in Zion. Isaiah 28:16; 1 Corinthians 3:11; 2 Corinthians 5:1. And as the foundation is Christ, so all the chambers of the covenant are his; and in them the believer finds retreat in times of danger, and everything of riches that is precious and pleasant. Isaiah 26:20. But as the Proverb here expresseth it, the knowledge and enjoyment of Christ is too high for a fool; the Lord hath not imparted to him this knowledge. Christ is and ever will be to all such while precious to his people, a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence. 1 Peter 2:7-8. I detain the Reader in this place to make a short observation upon the scripture expression of a fool, concerning whom it is said that wisdom is too high for such an one; and I detain the Reader for this purpose, because it may serve not only for the present but for every other occasion, whensoever he meets with the term in God's word. And the best, indeed the only infallible method of coming to the right knowledge of this, or any other scriptural expressions, is by comparing scripture with scripture. Now by a fool is meant, one that is ignorant of Christ. Hence therefore the wicked and unregenerate are stilled men void of understanding; they have eyes, and see not; ears, and hear not; and the like. So that when the prophet was commissioned to tell the church the final state of such characters, he expresseth himself in those striking words, for it is a people of no understanding, therefore he that made them will not have mercy on them, and he that formed them will shew them no favour. Isaiah 27:11. And that there might be no misapprehension upon a point of such infinite consequence, but that everyone might discover the cause of things; and that the folly here and elsewhere spoken of is, not the weakness of intellect, but the ignorance of Christ and the despising of Jesus, the Lord Jehovah's one ordinance, and the only one for salvation; Job was commissioned no less to shew, in naming in what the contrary to this folly manifested itself. And unto man he said, behold the fear of the Lord that is wisdom, and to depart from evil is understanding. Job 28:28. Hence therefore, the fools of scripture are the despisers of Christ, the wisdom of God. This is indeed the highest folly: and many, very many such fools it is to be feared, will be found at the last day, among that class of men who pride themselves on great wisdom. I refer the Reader for further light upon this interesting subject to the following scriptures: Romans 1:21, etc. 1 Corinthians 1:18-29.
If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small.
If I pause over this single verse, it is but to desire the Reader to make the subject of it personal to himself, and to beg of him to enquire whether Christ be his strength; for this will explain to the full when it is we are weak without him; and why any believer faints in seasons of exercise. According to the strength imparted from Jesus in the actings of our faith upon him, such will be the exact proportion, either of increase or of decline. When we can say, the Lord is my strength and my song, and he is become my salvation; then we shall hear the Lord say, my grace is sufficient for thee, for my strength is made perfect in weakness. And then like Paul we shall gladly glory in our infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon us. Psalms 118:14; 2 Corinthians 12:9-10.
If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; 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? My son, eat thou honey, because it is good; and the honeycomb, which is sweet to thy taste: So shall the knowledge of wisdom be unto thy soul: when thou hast found it, then there shall be a reward, and thy expectation shall not be cut off.
I need not tell the Reader that the honey and the honey-comb of scripture, means somewhat infinitely higher than the mere food of the body. The land of Canaan, which was a type of the gospel church, was promised to flow with milk and honey: and hence the gospel call was to buy wine and milk without money and without price. Ezekiel 20:6; Isaiah 55:1. Christ is himself the honey and the honey-comb, for his flesh is meat indeed, and his blood is drink indeed. His word is sweet unto my taste (said one of old) yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth. Psalms 119:103, so that when Solomon recommends the honey and the honey-comb, the Holy Ghost shews from other scriptures this is meant concerning Christ and his salvation.
Lay not wait, O wicked man, against the dwelling of the righteous; spoil not his resting place: For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief. Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth: Lest the LORD see it, and it displease him, and he turn away his wrath from him.
We have a beautiful comment in the enlargement of part of these verses in the Prophet, Micah 7:5-10.
Fret not thyself because of evil men, neither be thou envious at the wicked; For there shall be no reward to the evil man; the candle of the wicked shall be put out. My son, fear thou the LORD and the king: and meddle not with them that are given to change: For their calamity shall rise suddenly; and who knoweth the ruin of them both? These things also belong to the wise. It is not good to have respect of persons in judgment. He that saith unto the wicked, Thou art righteous; him shall the people curse, nations shall abhor him: But to them that rebuke him shall be delight, and a good blessing shall come upon them. Every man shall kiss his lips that giveth a right answer.
I pause over this last verse to detain the Reader with a short observation concerning what is here said of the kissing of the lips, in giving a right answer. The church saith, that she will kiss Christ her brother, when she hath found him: which is a similar term to that of giving a right answer. Song of Solomon 8:1. And the church is said to be kissed by Christ, when at any time he manifests his love to her in some renewed tokens of it, otherwise than he doeth to the world. So that every man shall kiss his lips, when finding Christ as the poor woman did Christ's feet, because she loved much and had much forgiven. Luke 7:38. Reader! do not hastily pass away from this view of affection to the person of Jesus. It is blessed, when at any time a right answer is given to the prayer of faith and the enjoyment of Jesus, to have the soul going forth in desires after Christ; in hanging upon Christ, adhering to Christ, rejoicing in Christ, and having none in heaven or earth we desire in comparison of Christ!
Prepare thy work without, and make it fit for thyself in the field; and afterwards build thine house. Be not a witness against thy neighbour without cause; and deceive not with thy lips. Say not, I will do so to him as he hath done to me: I will render to the man according to his work. I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; And, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down. Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked upon it, and received instruction. Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth; and thy want as an armed man.
If we spiritualize what is here said of the diligence of the man that prepares his work, and then builds his house, and what is said of the negligence of the slothful; and if we make application of it to the heart, a very sweet subject will be found to arise out of the different views. Jesus passed by our whole nature, when in the ruined state of the vineyard here described. And lo! all was covered over with thorns and briars. Reader! what he wrought, and what he accomplished, I need not, I hope, tell you. He purchased our lost inheritance, with his blood. He then hedged it round, gathered out the stones of it, renewed the face of it; and by turning up the fallow ground of our hearts, prepared it for himself. And what is it now? Doth he not water it continually with his word and ordinances, the sweet influences of his grace and Holy Spirit? Doth he not watch over it for good with his whole heart and his whole soul? And doth he not come into it, to eat of his pleasant fruits, even the graces of his Spirit which he hath planted? Precious Jesus! may my soul consider it well, and receive instruction! May I look up to thee continually as the Proprietor of all! See to it, my soul, that thou art of the vineyard of the Lord of hosts, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant. Isaiah 5:7.
MY soul! while thou art pondering over the very many sweet and precious sayings in this chapter, hast thou not found thine heart warmed within thee, by Jesus speaking to thee by the way, and opening to thee the things here written concerning himself?
Surely Jesus is the Wisdom here spoken of, and he is, my soul, thy wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption! And while thou art seeking from him strength for the day of adversity, thou wilt not faint, as those must do, whose confidence is founded in the wisdom of this world. The rock of ages will be thy support, when those, who lean on the reeds of Egypt, must fail. Yes, my soul, if Jesus be the honey, and the honey-comb of all thy affections, and confidences, a n d delights; thou wilt find him sweet indeed to thy taste. And let others do what they may, or find delight from whence they can, thou wilt kiss Him, into whose lips is poured grace, because Jehovah hath blessed him forever. Jesus will be the right answer given to every case, every trial, every need. Be thou my Lord, and my portion, blessed Jesus, for all thy sayings are indeed right, and all thou hast said, my soul most cordially approveth. Then will my soul humbly kiss thy feet, and I will wash them with my tears, and wipe them in token of my sorrow for sin, like another Magdalene, with the hairs of my head. I will kiss them as a pledge of love, of duty, of obedience, of homage, of reverence; for I earnestly desire to give myself up to thee, and to be wholly for thee and not for another. And oh! thou condescending God and Saviour! do thou kiss me with the kisses of thy mouth, for thy love is better than wine!
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Proverbs 24". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://pro.studylight.org/
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34