A Practical Exposition of the Book of Proverbs
By George Lawson, 1821
"A gentle answer turns away anger, but a harsh word stirs up anger." Anger is a fire that burns unto destruction, and it is our duty to bring water to quench this fire. A soft answer to provoking words, is like water to a fire. By gentle language, joined to liberal presents — Jacob pacified the fierce resentments of his brother Esau. He prayed to God, and trusted in him for the preservation of his family — but he did not neglect the proper means of calming his brother's angry spirit.
There are some tempers so intractable that they cannot be pacified — but these are rare, and seem to be under some powerful influence of the devil, like that of Judas Iscariot, who was not reclaimed by the kind words of our Lord from executing his bloody purpose; or those miscreants that seized on our Savior, although to his ordinary gentleness, he added his miraculous power in healing the ear of Malchus.
But there are some who cast oil upon the flame of anger, and make it to burn more fiercely by their grievous and provoking words. What can such people expect — but to be consumed by their own rashness? Anger is a temporary madness, and when two mad people are engaged, they both are in danger or receiving deadly wounds. Let us, therefore, endeavor to bridle our passions, and guard ourselves by the meekness of wisdom from the fierce passions of other men — lest, by biting and devouring one another, we be consumed one of another.
The fierce words of the men of Judah and Israel, when they were bringing back David to his throne, kindled a new war, which, without active and prudent management in David and his generals, might have produced fatal consequences.
Proverbs 15:2."The tongue of the wise uses knowledge aright — but the mouth of fools pours out foolishness." The wise man knows when he ought to be silent — and when he should speak. He will not cast his pearls before swine, and give his holy things to dogs. His words are good, for they are spoken in due season, and he knows how to address himself in a proper manner to different people, according to their tempers and circumstances.
But our Lord is the most glorious instance of the right use of knowledge. The different answers be made to his friends and enemies, whether open or disguised, while they give proof of his admirable wisdom — afford us a pattern of prudence, joined with inflexible integrity.
But fools turn the little wisdom and knowledge they have into folly — for their mouths pour out foolishness, as a fountain casts out her streams. They are not masters of their tongues — but their tongues are masters of them. While wise men have the fear of God set for a sentinel upon the door of their lips — the fool's lips have neither a door nor a guard — but everything that is within comes out. And as their hearts are little worth, their conversation is empty and vain.
Proverbs 15:3."The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good." The eyes of men can be but in one place, because themselves are limited to one place. But the eyes of that God who fills Heaven and earth are everywhere. Angels are full of eyes before and behind — but God is all eye — and even the darkness cannot hide from him. He is in Heaven by his glorious presence; and that high and holy place is like a watch-tower, from whence He espies the evil and the good.
Evil men flatter themselves that none sees or knows their wickedness, as if God could not see through the dark clouds — but He is a witness of what they speak and do in their bed-chambers, nor does a single thought of their heart escape His notice!
Shall we do that before the eye of God, which we dared not be guilty of in the presence of a child?
Alas! how is the God who sees all things despised and insulted by men! But He will not be mocked! He beholds and judges, and will punish every evil-doer.
His eyes behold the godly also — and this is their great consolation when they are overlooked or poorly treated by men. God knows their integrity, and beholds with a pleasant countenance their humble and sincere endeavors to please Him, and to do good to men. Every thought of His name, and every good word that they speak — is written by Him in a book of remembrance. He beholds all their secret sorrows with an eye of pity, and puts their tears in his bottle! Not a moment does He withdraw His eye from the righteous.
Godly men need not fear that God will forget any of His gracious promises. They will be all accomplished in due season; for His eyes run to and fro through the whole earth, to show Himself strong in their behalf. And His providence is constantly employed to glorify His faithfulness, in fulfilling that word which He has magnified above or upon all his name.
Proverbs 15:4."The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit." The tongue that administers proper and seasonable counsels, comforts, and reproofs — is a healing tongue. Unmerited rebukes, reproaches, unkind words, and cruel mockings — are perverseness in that little member, which boasts and can really effect great things.
The advantages derived from a healing tongue are like the fruits of the tree of life — the erring are reclaimed, the dejected are comforted, the weak are animated and invigorated by it.
When Job weak in deep distress, he was very sensible how pleasant these fruits were, which he had no opportunity to taste, and tells his friends, that if they had been in his situation, he would have strengthened them by his words, and assuaged their grief by their speech.
The words of God have a divine virtue for healing the diseases and the wounds of the spirit. This is the dispensary from which we are to derive healing words for the broken in spirit.
But perverseness in the tongue crushes the spirit. It wounds and pierces, it breaks and bruises, the heart of him who is reproached by it.
Job would not have exposed himself so much to the censures of Elihu, if his more aged friends had behaved more kindly to him. His patient spirit felt the piercing edge of their unjust reproofs most sensibly.
David felt none of his afflictions more bitterly, than the keen reproaches and insults of his enemies.
And our Lord Jesus Christ exemplified his unconquerable patience in bearing the contradictions of sinners, and enduring with all meekness, though not without afflicting sensibility — the indignities that were poured upon him. When we are exposed to the scourge of the tongue, let us remember that he was tempted like as we are, and imitate his patience, and trust in him for the supplies of needful grace.
Proverbs 15:5."A fool despises his father's instruction — but he who regards reproof is prudent." A father's instruction proceeds from love, and it is folly and ingratitude to despise it. Yet some children are such enemies to themselves, and so unnatural to their best friends, that they break the hearts of their affectionate parents, by spurning those admonitions that are needful for their own welfare. They are like froward patients, who are angry at the physician for giving them medicines which are beneficial — but taste bitter.
In a father's instructions there is authority. The authority of parents over their children has been acknowledged by the heathen nations — and is ratified in that law which was spoken by the mouth, and written by the finger of God. When they reprove their children, the authority of God is joined to the authority of parents, to enforce their admonitions. For they are expressly required to attempt the reformation of their children by rebukes and corrections.
He who despises his father's reproofs; despises not only man — but God! This is folly in the extreme, and he who was a fool before he received instruction, becomes mad when be resists it! If a fool despises his father's instruction, it is not to be supposed that he will pay much regard to the admonitions of other men — but a prudent man will receive correction, and be thankful for it, not only from a father — but from any person, though inferior to himself in station or wisdom.
David allowed himself to be reclaimed by the wife of Nabal, and Sarah received with meekness the reproofs of a heathen king.
People may receive instruction, when it does not touch their pride — and yet have no solid wisdom. But he who receives reproof with calmness, and makes use of it for the correction of his life — gives a sure proof of his prudence. There are many people who come to church, and sit as God's people sit, and appear very attentive to the preaching of the word — but if there is any occasion to administer the censures of the church to them, they are like a horse or mule when their sores are touched; and the bit and bridle will scarcely hold them in from coming near unto their reprovers.
Proverbs 15:6."The house of the righteous contains great treasure." That there is much treasure in the house of some righteous people, is certain — but it is equally certain that some of those who are rich in faith, have no silver and gold, and can scarcely find daily bread. Solomon was not ignorant of this, and explains this proverb in verses 16, 17.
There is incomparably more of solid treasure in the little that a righteous man has — than in the great wealth of many wicked. The blessing of the Lord is in the house of the righteous, and that is a more precious treasure than the gold and diamonds in a thousand mines! The riches of the wicked, in which they pride themselves, often consist of papers — and if bonds and charters make a man rich, the righteous cannot be poor, when they have bonds upon God himself for everything they need, and the charter which shows their sure title to the everlasting inheritance.
The devil robbed Job — but he could not make him poor, for his chief treasure lay quite out of the reach of that enemy. Had he served God, as the devil said, for hire, he would have been poor indeed — but a good conscience, and faith in the living Redeemer, could not be torn from him as long as he lived.
"But the income of the wicked brings them trouble." When godly men have nothing — they possess all things. When wicked men have much — they are in straits, for their craving desires are still larger than their possessions. And whatever they have, they lack satisfaction, and are still crying, "Give, give!" They have, besides, a bad conscience — and a drop of that bitter ingredient is sufficient swallow up an ocean of earthly delights.
Do we wish to be rich? Let us learn from the Bible what it is to be rich, that we may not spend our time and labor in the pursuit of feathers and vanities!
Proverbs 15:7."The lips of the wise spread knowledge; not so the hearts of fools." The wise man does not boast of his wisdom, or make a vain parade of his knowledge — but he is far from grudging the benefit of it to others. He does not behave like that foolish miser who keeps his precious grain shut up in his storehouses, until it rots, or is destroyed by vermin. He scatters the good seed of knowledge, where there is any probability that it will do good. As the gardener, although he will not sow upon the rock — will nevertheless commit his seed to that ground where he is not certain of a good increase, and is not deterred by every cloud from his work. So the wise man will endeavor to do good, even to those who may possibly disappoint his kind intentions, and prove ungrateful for his offices of love. He who disperses knowledge wisely, shall not be disappointed of a harvest of gracious recompenses to himself.
But the wicked man cannot disperse knowledge, for he has not a right heart. There is no good treasure in his soul to furnish useful instructions to others — but an evil treasure within, from which he brings forth evil things. He sows the seed of tares and hemlock, and shall reap destruction to himself!
Our tongues are our glory, and should be used for the glory of God, and for the good of men. Therefore we ought diligently to store our hearts with that knowledge and wisdom which will be of infinite advantage to ourselves, and make us useful to others.
Proverbs 15:8."The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord — but the prayer of the upright is his delight." Wicked men may abound in the external acts of religion, as if they intended to compensate the defects of the inward man, by a double measure of external religiosity. By this means they flatter themselves into dangerous and presumptuous hopes of the favor of God, and sometimes gain a name among the godly, who are neither qualified nor authorized to search the secrets of the heart. But God, who cannot be deceived, sees the insincerity of their hearts, and loathes their most splendid and costly services, as so many presumptuous attempts to bribe the great Judge into a connivance at their wickedness!
No man would chose to put himself to a great deal of trouble to no purpose. But hypocrites not only lose the benefit of their services — but provoke God's indignation by them! The wicked and their sacrifices are detestable to him! He counts them a trouble, and will not long bear with them.
How miserable are unrenewed sinners! Their righteousnesses are abominable and provoking iniquities to God. What need have they to disclaim their own goodness, and seek to win Christ and be found in him, clothed with his righteousness, and purified by his Spirit!
But let not God's true people be afraid of this text, although they are often obliged to confess that they are carnal, and sold under sin. They walk in the light, and have fellowship with God; and the blood of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, cleanses them from all sin.
Their prayers are unworthy of divine acceptance — but through the Beloved, they are well pleasing to him. While the costly services of the wicked are detested by him — he delights in the smallest services of the upright. This was a truth to be believed, while the Old Testament ordinances were yet in force — how much more are we encouraged to believe this truth, who have clear revelations of that great High Priest who is passed into the heavens, and appears in the presence of God, making intercession for us, and recommending our weak and imperfect services to his Father!
Prayer is God's delight, and should it not be ours also — who stand in so much need of the benefit of it? When God requires from us the severest instances of self-denial, it is our duty and interest to please God rather than ourselves. But when he delights in prayer, and takes pleasure to have his richest favors asked by needy creatures — shall we not come often to his throne of grace? He who commands us to pray, and delights in the voice of prayer, and has appointed his Son to be or advocate — will not turn a deaf ear to the petitions of his redeemed suppliants.
Proverbs 15:9."The way of the wicked is an abomination unto Lord — but He loves those who follows after righteousness." The hypocrites will say, "Why do we offer sacrifices — and God does not notice them? Why do we perform the most splendid services, and meet with contempt, instead of thanks? What does the Lord mean by requiring duties — and yet refusing to accept of them when they are performed?"
The fault is in the sinner himself — for his heart is polluted with iniquity, and therefore he cannot reasonably expect acceptance to his most costly religious sacrifices. The whole course of the wicked man's life is detested by God, who is of purer eyes than to behold sin, or to look upon iniquity. The sinner's principles are corrupt; his thoughts are evil continually; his words are all vain, or vile, or hypocritical; his holy things are deeply stained with his pollutions — and he is abhorred by God, when he thinks he is praying. Not one of his innumerable iniquities are forgiven, for he is without Christ, and has no saving interest in the blood of atonement. If the very heavens are not clean in God's sight — then how abominable and filthy is the man that drinks iniquity like water! And how detestable is the course of his life — to him whose glorious holiness makes the angels to cover their faces!
Yet, as detestable as sinners are to God, their situation is not hopeless, unless they make it so by stubbornness in sin and unbelief. Though God hates all sin, even in his own people — yet rich is his grace, and so prevalent is the intercession of Christ, that he loves his people even in this world where their righteousness is imperfect, and their course of life stained with many sins. At the best, they are but followers of righteousness. Paul himself could not say that he had attained, or was already perfect. Their hungering and thirstings after righteousness, are sure evidences of the love of God to them, and presages of that perfection which they shall attain in due time. Like as a father pities his son, and takes pleasure to see his feeble efforts to please and serve him — so the Lord delights in every breathing of sincere desire, and every sincere aim to obey his will which he sees in his people. Their righteousness towards men, and faithful discharge of the duty of their stations, is accepted in his sight — as well as their praises addressed to himself.
Proverbs 15:10."Stern discipline awaits him who leaves the path; he who hates correction will die!" When a traveler loses the right way, he is glad for one who can set him right. When a man is on the edge of a concealed pit, he will thank the person that pulls him back with violence, and tells him of his danger.
But many men are such enemies to their own souls, that they cannot endure necessary reproofs and corrections, and would rather be allowed to go to the place of torment at their ease — than be terrified with apprehensions of their danger, while there is time to make a retreat. Let such people consider, that however grievous correction is — yet Hell is much more grievous!
Who pities Ahab for his fall at Ramoth-Gilead? He was forewarned of his danger by Micaiah — but he hated the holy prophet for telling him the truth. Equally unpitied shall they be, who perish for refusing reproof. All the words of instruction which they heard in the day of grace, shall be like flaming thunderbolts in their consciences through endless ages!
Proverbs 15:11."Hell and destruction are before the Lord — how much more the hearts of men!" Have you seen through the gates of death, or have the doors of the shadow of death been opened unto you? No! The eternal world is hidden from the eyes of all living. Many vain disputes have been carried on by men about the place and state of the departed. But this concealed region is open to the eyes of him with whom we have to do. The outer darkness of the place of the damned is light before him. He knows perfectly every thought of his grand adversary, and is entirely acquainted with every design and every feeling of all the fiends of darkness. Why then do wicked men flatter themselves with the hopes of secrecy in their wicked actions? The most secret principles of their conduct, the most clandestine thoughts of their hearts — are as bright as the day to his eyes! At the day of judgment there will be a revelation of the secrets of all hearts, and then it will appear, that not a single imagination of the thoughts of the heart was secret to him whose eyes are like a flame of fire. Woe to them who seek deep to hide their counsel from the Lord, and whose work is in the dark.
But happy are those who labor, that whether present or absent, they may be accepted of him. He knows their hearts, he knows all the purposes that their enemies form against them, and will disappoint the most crafty devices of those who hate them.
God has hidden from every creature that loathsome spectacle — the heart of man! But his eye beholds all the deceitfulness and desperate wickedness of it. How astonishing is the patience that bears with such vile creatures! How wonderful that love which gave his Son to die for sinners, and gives his Spirit to sanctify them, and accepts of their services, though defiled with stains infinitely offensive to his holy eyes!
Proverbs 15:12."A scoffer does not love one who reproves him, he will not consult the wise." Wisdom is necessary in a reprover, lest his reproofs meet with that cutting reply, "Physician, heal yourself!" Much skill is required in dispensing reproofs, that they may not irritate instead of reforming. Yet however wise the reprover is, a scoffer will hate him, at least he will not love him. As an evidence of his aversion, he will not go to him — but avoid his company as if he were an enemy, because he mortifies his pride. The scoffer is as impatient of rebuke, as if, like the Pope, he laid claim to infallibility.
Here is a trial of true wisdom. The seed that sprung up pleasantly for a time — but withered when the sun rose in its strength, was an emblem of those hearers, that cannot endure persecution for the gospel; and how could we endure persecution, if we cannot bear a friendly admonition, or a needful censure from the pastors of the church!
The Apostle Peter received with meekness a sharp reproof from Paul, and we find him afterwards speaking of him in very friendly language. David was a king and a prophet — yet he could receive with thankfulness a reproof from those who were by many degrees his inferiors. Some think that he called one of his sons Nathan, in token of respect to the prophet of the same name, who reproved him for the blackest crimes.
The rebukes of Christ in his word and providence are fruits of the tenderest love — and the wise will love him the more on their account, and thank him for the necessary discipline of the covenant.
Proverbs 15:13."A joyful heart makes a cheerful face — but when the heart is sad, the spirit is broken." There is so close a connection between the soul and body, that when the latter is pained, the former feels its pains; and when the mind is oppressed with grief, the body cannot enjoy its health and vigor.
On the other side, a healthy body is of great advantage to the operations of the mind, and the joy of the heart spreads itself over the countenance. It makes the eyes brisk and sparkling, and gives a pleasant grace to the face to every beholder. If one could paint his face as well as Jezebel, he could not make his face so lovely as it is rendered by the cheerfulness of the heart. Everything that tends to promote a well-regulated joy in the mind is valuable, for it serves both soul and body at once. Meekness and contentment with our lot, peace and love, afford a continual feast to the mind, and make us agreeable to others. These virtues are not to be acquired in their true excellency — but from God, for they are fruits of his Spirit, and are the property of the believer in Christ.
Christians should remember, that to rejoice is their duty, their privilege, and an ornament to their profession. The world has been too much tempted by Christians themselves, to think that there is little pleasure in religion. Why should we not constantly verify that saying of the wise preacher, "A man's wisdom makes his face to shine!"
The effect of sorrow is often dangerous, and sometimes destructive. It blunts the edge of the understanding, impairs the memory, destroys the vigor of the soul — and if too much indulged, may utterly destroy reason, and sink a man into despair.
There are indeed sorrows required by religion — but these have no danger in them, for they are mingled and attended with the sweetest pleasures. It is sin and not religion, which makes sorrow needful — and religion forbids sorrow, even for sin, to be carried to a dangerous height, lest Satan should thereby gain an advantage. For we are not ignorant of his devices, and know that some of his most dreadful temptations are founded on that constitution of body or mind that disposes men to the entertainment of melancholy thoughts. The kingdom of God is not a kingdom of darkness — but of righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Proverbs 15:14."The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge." Here on earth, the most intelligent men know but in part. They are the wisest men, who are most sensible of the imperfection of their wisdom. The wisest of Christians compares his present attainments to those of a child. Desires for wisdom, revealed in the ardent pursuit of it — are the best evidences we can give of our wisdom.
There are many that use the ordinary means of knowledge — and yet have no true wisdom — but their fault lies more in the heart than in the head. They are formal and careless in their endeavors to obtain knowledge, because they have not a cordial love to the truth. They read and hear — but they do not meditate and pray. If knowledge would drop into their minds as the dew upon the earth, they would be very glad of it — but they will not incline their ear unto wisdom, nor apply their heart to understanding.
The truly wise have a higher esteem of knowledge than of gold and rubies, and their hearts are deeply engaged in the search of it. They use the means of knowledge — but will not be satisfied with the use of them without obtaining the end, and therefore they depend upon Christ as the great teacher, and earnestly plead for the illuminations of his Spirit, to brighten their understandings with discoveries of the truth, and to furnish them with that practical wisdom, without which they cannot be happy. Such seekers of wisdom shall not be disappointed. They shall know God to their joy in this world, and in Heaven they shall know even as they are known.
"But the mouth of fools feeds on foolishness." They have no relish for wisdom; they can drink in vain and frothy discourse from morning until night, as if it were sweet wine. When godly men meditate by day and night on the law of God — the vain imagination of fools supplies them with thoughts suited to their corrupt minds, in which they delight as much as in their necessary food. God has provided marrow and fatness for the entertainment of our minds — but these foolish creatures rather choose to feed on wind and chaff. Their mouth pours out foolishness, and they cannot do better, because they neither have, nor desire to have, anything better within their hearts. Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth will speaks.
Proverbs 15:15."All the days of the afflicted are wretched, but the cheerful heart has a continual feast." To him who is afflicted, pity should be showed from his friend, for none but those who have experience can tell what a gloom affliction spreads over the mind, and what unceasing sorrows it produces — when it is not soothed by the consolations of friendship, or alleviated by the vigor of the mind. The patientest of men tells us that his thoughts, disquieted by pain, and embittered by the unkindness of his friends — turned night into day. In distress, the night cannot put an end to the fatigue of the day by the refreshments of sleep — and the pleasant light of morning can convey no cheering influence to the anxious mind.
But a good and cheerful heart is a continual feast. The pleasures of a peaceful conscience and a healthful soul, are sweeter than those which sensualists enjoy when they are reveling in all the pleasures that riches can give. The longest feast that we read of, lasted only six months — but it was impossible that the nobles of Ahasuerus could be merry all that time. Feasting continued too long, becomes an insupportable burden — but the feast of a soul that enjoys well-grounded mirth never ends, and needs not suffer interruption.
The mirth of fools, Solomon tells us, is like the crackling of thorns under a pot, and therefore it cannot be the mirth that is meant by him in this place. The joy of the Lord is the strength and life of the heart. When affliction makes a man to abhor dainty foods, the joys of God's salvation feed the soul as with marrow and with fatness. Paul was exposed to constant sufferings, and could safely protest that he died daily — yet every day he enjoyed those pleasures that were better than wine. The days of affliction could not suspend his happiness, for he was exceeding joyful in all his tribulations, and gloried in his infirmities, and sang praises in dungeons, and gave thanks to God, who always made him to triumph in Christ.
This continual feast, which does not lose its relish in the days of evil, was not peculiar to apostles. The first believers in Christ were so lively in the exercise of faith and hope, that the days of affliction were in general good and happy days to them.
How valuable is religion! what fools are those who seek or expect happiness without it! And how much are religious people to be blamed, when they are sad from day to day, as if they were not the King's children, or their Father were unkind to them! The question that Eliphaz puts to Job without sufficient reason, may pierce into their consciences, "Are the consolations of God small with you?" Saving religion is the soul of joy, it can cheer the afflicted, and will not allow the poor to be unhappy.
Proverbs 15:16."Better is little with the fear of the Lord, than great treasure with trouble." It is the blessing of God that makes anything pleasant and satisfying. It is sufficient alone to make the beggar rich — and without it the man is poor who calls whole counties his own. And his blessing is upon his own people, and upon their basket and store — while the wicked and all they have are under his curse.
It is God who gives both food and gladness — and without gladness, what good can our food do to us? And this gladness is ordinarily given to him who is godly in his sight — but to the sinner he gives travail; to gather and to heap up, that he may give to him who is godly.
If a Christian has but little, it is pleasant to him; because he considers it as the gift of his heavenly Father, and tastes in it the love of his Savior, through whose grace everything is pure and sanctified to him. The wicked have their food from the providence of God which rules over all — but the righteous have their bread by covenant and promise. If they have little in possession, they know that they shall have everything necessary and good for them, from the possessor of Heaven and earth. And when they are pinched with straits, it is not for lack of goodwill in their heavenly Father — but because his goodness to them is directed by his infallible wisdom. If they have scarcely any food at all, they have promises on which they can feed; with a pleasure never tasted by the men of the world when their grain and wine do most abound .
Trouble is the inseparable companion of great treasures, when they are not sanctified by prayer, and sweetened by the fear of the Lord. They are like water to a man in a dropsy, which does not quench — but only inflames his thirst. Anxiety and care, an ill conscience, and the uncertainty of present things — embitter the portion of the men of the world. Nothing can be really pleasant, which lacks the blessing of God. The little that a righteous man has, is better than the riches, not of one — but of many wicked. The love that religion promotes, tends greatly to sweeten their outward enjoyments.
Proverbs 15:17."Better a meal of vegetables where there is love, than a fattened calf with hatred." Love is a pleasing affection of the soul, and diffuses cheerfulness all around it. It gives a relish to the scantiest and coarsest meal. Water is sweeter than wine, and dry bread more pleasant than fat things full of marrow — when this delightful affection gives a relish to them.
Ruth and Naomi were happy when they lived on the gleanings of the fields of Boaz, and in the fullness of their satisfaction poured their blessings on the head of him who allowed them the scanty pittance.
But selfishness, and hatred, and disagreement, makes every pleasant dish insipid or bitter. The conversation of friends is far pleasanter than any dish at the table. Where hatred is, there is silence or sullenness, or at least hollow mirth, and tasteless ceremony. But where love and the fear of God is, the table conversation is delightful and useful.
How blessed were the disciples of our Lord, when they sat at table with him! Barley loaves and fish were probably ordinary fare with them — but they were entertained with divine discourse. Such pleasure as they enjoyed in their Master's company, we cannot now expect — but his religion is admirably fitted to promote our present happiness, for love is his great commandment. He enforces love between husbands and wives, as well as among friends, by motives which no Christian can withstand.
If love is necessary to sweeten our ordinary meals — then we must never come to the Lord's table without exercising supreme love to Christ, and fervent love to our fellow Christians. We must consider ourselves as one body, when we are all partaking of one bread.
Love is a pleasant passion — but let us beware of anger, which makes a man a torment to himself, and a plague to his neighbors!
Proverbs 15:18."A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel." It will be our wisdom, if possible, to avoid the company of a hot-tempered man, for it is almost impossible to live in peace with him. He is almost perpetually giving offence — and yet he cannot bear the least shadow of offence to be given to himself. You cannot act or speak so cautiously — but he will find or make some occasion for a quarrel, for gasoline is not more flammable than a mind in which passion rules over reason. But if you cannot avoid his company, be sure to keep a strict guard over your spirit, and by this means strife may be prevented or appeased.
It is one of the amiable glories of God, that he is slow to anger — and considering how much we are indebted to his patience, we are strongly obliged to copy after him, as dear children. A hot-tempered disposition makes a man the firebrand of society — but meekness makes him a blessing to his neighbors. He who appeases strife, does us as much service, as he who quenches the fire that is burning down a house. We must learn of Christ, who was meek and lowly of heart. So shall we find rest for ourselves, and pacify contentions, and enjoy a double blessing from the great Author of blessings. "Blessed are the meek, blessed are the peace-makers."
Proverbs 15:19."The way of the sluggard is blocked with thorns." It is but little that a slothful man can be prevailed on to do — but that little gives him great trouble and fatigue. A diligent man finds himself easy and cheerful in the exercise of his profession. But the slothful man cannot be content, except when he is permitted to doze or sleep. When he is on the way of his duty, he cannot proceed far, for he sees a hedge of thorns before him, and no opening to give him passage. Whatever business he is employed about, he finds unconquerable difficulties, and inextricable perplexities in it, so that he either leaves it undone, or slubbers it over, and does nothing to purpose.
Such a man is fit neither for Heaven nor earth. His dispositions do not at all suit the present state of mankind, to whom God has appointed labor and sweat. Nor do they suit the law of Christ, which requires men to rejoice and work righteousness.
"But the path of the upright is a highway." The wise man mentions righteousness in this place rather than diligence, because the latter is included in the former, and is not sufficient without it, to make a man's way plain. The man that joins to industry, the practice of justice towards men and piety towards God, may find difficulties in his way — but he is not diverted by them from his duty, nor discouraged from making progress.
In worldly affairs, hard labor, with the blessing of God, conquers everything.
In the course of the spiritual life, difficulties and discouragements vanish away before faith, and mountains are threshed down to valleys, by that power on which faith relies.
Proverbs 15:20."A wise son brings joy to his father — but a foolish man despises his mother." Nothing can make a dutiful child happier, than to contribute to the happiness of his parents. This filial disposition must not be confined to childhood — but dwell in us while either father or mother dwell upon the earth. If our parents should require us to do some great and hard thing for them — both nature and gratitude would enforce our compliance. But all that they require, is that we should be wise and happy, for their felicity is bound up in our welfare. Surely he is an unnatural fool who will not gratify them in such kind desires.
Epaminondas, one of the best of the Greeks, having gained a glorious victory over the enemies of his country, said to those who complimented him on it, that his chief pleasure in it was the pleasure that the news would give to his father and mother.
Nature and Scripture condemn the folly of those who despise either father or mother. If our dependence is chiefly on our father — yet we have experienced more tenderness from our mother, and have cost her greater sorrows.
Religion, if it had free course, would turn this earth into a kind of paradise, by making all men a blessing to one another. The duties we owe to human society, and to our respective relations, are enforced in the Bible by motives, which nothing but folly and impiety can resist.
Proverbs 15:21."Folly delights a man who is destitute of wisdom: but a man of understanding walks uprightly." It is a sign of prodigious folly for a man to take pleasure in sin, which gives mortal wounds to the soul, provokes the displeasure of the Almighty God, and could not be expiated — but in the groans and blood of a Redeemer. And yet all wicked men take pleasure in sin. It is with the utmost propriety, that the wise man gives the name of fool to the sinner — and allows the character of wisdom to none but the godly.
We have in this verse a mark whereby we may know with certainty whether we are wise men or fools; and this mark is explained at great length by Paul, and illustrated by his own example.
Wise men are not wise in every instance of their conduct, for weakness and temptation too often betray them into sin — yet they hate sin, and long to be rid of their indwelling corruption.
But sin is not only practiced by the wicked — but it is loved by them. Folly is their joy, and therefore they sin even without a temptation. It is their food and drink to sin, and they roll iniquity under their tongue as if it were a sweet morsel. They do not hate those sins that are condemned by God's Word — but the Word that condemns them. They dislike salvation itself — because it is a deliverance from sin.
But the wise man's employment is to cleanse his way, and walk uprightly. He hates the sin that dwells in him, and loathes himself for his impurities. He takes pleasure in holiness, and loves the law of God, because it testifies against his iniquities. He joins earnestly with the Psalmist in that prayer, "O that my ways were directed to keep your statutes!" And instead of being satisfied with such a degree of holiness as may amount to the lowest evidence of true grace — he will not count himself completely happy, until his grace is completed in the glory of the heavenly state!
Proverbs 15:22."Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed." Wisdom is profitable to direct, and all our affairs must be conducted by it, and nothing done rashly and stubbornly; for what is done too hastily, is generally repented of at leisure. As we should endeavor to make our knowledge and wisdom useful to other men, so we should take the benefit of other men's wisdom — for we were designed by our common Creator to give and to receive, and by a commerce of wisdom to enrich one another.
The proud and stubborn man, who thinks himself above advice, meets with disappointment and shame. But by a multitude of counselors, (that is, of wise counselors, for none else deserve the name), plans are established, and their success is generally ensured. This is so important a truth, that Solomon takes care we should not forget it, and therefore repeats it in this place, from a former passage of this book.
Solomon often speaks of the destruction of the proud, and the exaltation of the humble. This is chiefly owing to God's hatred of pride, and love of humility — but the natural tendencies of virtue and vice serve Providence in this, as in other cases. The proud man takes the course that leads to disgrace and ruin, while he trusts so much to his own wisdom, that he consults with neither God nor man. The humble man acknowledges God in all his ways, and employs the wisdom of other men with his own, and his way is prosperous, because it is wise.
Proverbs 15:23."A man finds joy in giving an apt reply — and how good is a timely word!" It is not a good objection against endeavoring to do good by our words — that we are often unsuccessful in our endeavors to serve our fellow-creatures in this way. For although, by the perverseness of men, our kindness may be rendered unprofitable to them — yet a man has joy by the apt answer of his mouth. It will be a pleasure to us to reflect, that we have discharged our duty, and used our tongues for the ends for which they were made. It can give us no true satisfaction, that we have gained the applause or good-will of men by sinful silence, or by flattering men's humours and prejudices. But if we have lost the favor of men by faithfulness to their best interests, the testimony of an approving conscience will abundantly counterbalance our damage.
The joy that arises to a man from the apt answer of his tongue, will not be confined to this world — but at the day of judgment, those who have been converted by our words from the error of their ways, and edified in righteousness, will be a crown of rejoicing to us. Christ himself will take a gracious notice of every word that has been spoken in his cause.
Our Judge assures us, that by our words we shall be justified or condemned; and when the works of charity are mentioned with honor, the words which proceeded from that noble principle shall not be forgotten.
To make words really good, it is necessary that they be spoken in due season; for as the showers of rain in their proper season fertilize the ground, but at a wrong time drown the hopes of the year — so words have good or bad effects, as the time of speaking them is well or ill chosen.
Abigail would not tell Nabal of his danger until he was sober; and Job's friends wounded his spirit in a cruel manner, by speaking things excellent in themselves, and very suitable to Job — if he had been the man they believed him to be.
It is one of the properties of a wise man, that his heart knows both time and appropriateness. A single word spoken in due season, is inexpressibly good. It may revive the desponding soul, preserve from death, or save a soul — for death and life are in the power of the tongue.
Proverbs 15:24."The path of life leads upward for the wise, to keep him from going down to Hell beneath." All men are travelers either to Heaven above — or Hell beneath. The writers of Scripture knew nothing of the middle place, which perverters of Christianity have taught, with the assistance of the ancient heathen. There is but one way of life, and Christ tells us that HE is that way, and no man comes unto the Father but by him. Those only are in the way of life, who receive him by faith, and walk in him by a holy and heavenly life, to which true faith in Christ always leads him who possesses it.
This way is upward, and they are great deceivers of themselves, who imagine that Christ will save them from Hell — who persist in living in that sin which leads to Hell. Without holiness, no man shall see the Lord. The faith which does not make a man heavenly in his affections and life — will never conduct a man to the regions of blessedness. The Son of God came from Heaven to earth to purchase our salvation, and he has gone back to Heaven to plead for it, and the hearts of all who have the living hope of Heaven, will follow him thither.
Our everlasting abode must be either in Heaven or Hell. Salvation from Hell, is half of the happiness of Heaven. The threatenings of Hell are a fence around the way to Heaven, and while we are traveling in it, they are of great use to make us serious and earnest in pursuing our course. For how is it possible that we can flee with too much speed from everlasting burnings, when our flight is directed, not, like that of the manslayer, to a place of banishment — but to the world of eternal happiness and pleasure!
Let us try ourselves by this mark of true wisdom. Do we mind earthly things — or heavenly things? If earthly things are the chief object of our regard — then our way is below, and our names are written in the earth, because we forsake the fountain of living waters. If our affections are set on things above — then when Christ our life shall appear, he will receive us into the celestial mansions, that where he is, we may be also. David and Paul explain this character of the wise man, from their own example, compared with that of worldly men.
Proverbs 15:25."The LORD tears down the proud man's house, but he keeps the widow's boundaries intact." We have already heard how detestable pride is to the Lord, and how it provokes his vengeance. Here we are told that God destroys the dwellings and families of the proud, as well as their persons. Proud men value themselves upon their magnificent palaces, their great riches, and their prosperous families, and provoke the Lord to destroy those things which are turned by them into idols, and used as the pillars of that creature confidence which He abhors.
Nebuchadnezzar prided himself in the splendor of his palace, and the magnificence of his royal city. But he was driven from it to dwell among the beasts! And some ages after his death, his family, which he had exalted by his ravages, was rooted out of the world, and great Babylon, which he had built for the honor of his majesty, became a monument of the triumphs of God's power over the haughtiness of worms!
Haman boasted of his riches and the number of his children — but Haman and his ten children were soon hanged, and his riches given to his hated enemy.
Let us never be proud and vain of anything — unless we wish to have it destroyed! God abhors pride even in those whom he dearly loves — and shows his resentment of it by sending humbling providences.
David was proud of the vast numbers of his subjects — but God soon showed him that great armies cannot save a king, and that three days may greatly lessen the numbers of a people.
Hezekiah's heart was lifted up in pride — but he was soon obliged to humble himself, being assured that the treasures which he had so ostentatiously showed to the Babylonish ambassadors, would be carried with his posterity to their own land.
God is dreadful to the proud — but he is gracious to the helpless and desolate.
Proud men often attempt to aggrandize their houses, by removing the landmark of the widow and fatherless — but the Lord keeps the widow's boundaries intact. Let dying husbands leave their fatherless children and widows in the hand of God — and let widows trust in him. If they are desolate and weak, and liable to oppression, that should not be a discouragement — but a strong motive to them to commit themselves unto the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort.
There is often more meant, than expressed in the words of God. Widows in this place are to be understood of those who are in desolate circumstances, and exposed to injuries of any kind. Their distressed situations make them proper objects of compassion, and infinite compassion are with God. He has erected a throne of mercy, and the Redeemer sits upon it, and is exalted, that he may have mercy upon the poor and destitute. From the acts of terror and of grace here represented to us, we may take occasion to join in the song of the mother of our Lord: "He has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones, but has lifted up the humble."
Proverbs 15:26."The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the Lord — but the words of the pure are pleasant to Him." Solomon already told us that the way of the wicked is detestable to God; and here he tells us that his thoughts, no less than his words and actions; are abominable to him. Men see not the hearts of one another, and are too ready to imagine that they shall never be called to an account of what passes in their minds. But we must remember that the difference between God and man is infinite. Man looks only on the outward appearance, and his rewards and punishments can reach no farther than his knowledge of the facts that deserve them. But it is the prerogative of the Omniscient God to search the hearts and to try the thoughts of men, and to render unto them according to their ways.
The thoughts of the wicked are full of selfishness, impiety, pride, and impurity, and must be infinitely offensive unto the pure eyes of Jehovah. And whenever wicked men are, by the convincing operation of the Spirit, made to discern the secrets of their own hearts — they become loathsome to themselves. Wicked men must forsake their thoughts, as well as their outward practices of wickedness; for what is the profit of making clean the outside of the cup — while the inner part is full of impurity?
God requires us to give him our hearts for his residence. A heart which should be God's habitation, if full of abominable thoughts — is like the royal chambers of Pharaoh filled with frogs.
If the thoughts of the wicked are abominable to God, their words cannot be pleasant to him — for how can those who are evil, speak good things? If the words should be good when the thoughts are vile, they are like potsherds covered over with silver dross. God desires truth in the inward parts, and abhors those who flatter him with their tongues, or seek the applause of men by making their tongues the instruments of hypocrisy.
But the thoughts of the pure are well pleasing to the Lord, and their words are pleasant in his ears. God is of pure eyes, and delights in those who are made pure by the blood of his Son. Their heads are cleansed from iniquity, and produce those holy thoughts and words which are acceptable in the sight of the Lord their God and Redeemer. Their prayers and praises are a sweet fragrances in his nostrils. Their confessions are music to his ears. Their common discourse, when it is seasoned with salt, and ministers grace to the hearers — is heard by him with delight.
It is a solemn consideration, that God hears everything that we say, and is pleased or displeased with it. He hearkens and hears what the wicked say, and his judgment of them is that they speak wickedly. When those who fear him speak one to another, he hearkens and hears, and a book of remembrance is written before him for those who fear the Lord, and think upon his name. What have we to do on earth — but to labor that in our thoughts, and words, and ways — we may be accepted of him?
Proverbs 15:27."A greedy man brings trouble to his family" The plans of the wicked shall cast him down, for he is cast into a net by his own feet, and he walks upon a snare. Instead of gaining what he expects by his iniquity — he exposes himself to those miseries which he most dreads. That which he thought would be a shield to defend him, proves a killing sword.
The covetous man is an instance of this truth. His heart is set upon gain, and he expects that it will render his life comfortable and happy. But he finds, by bitter experience, the truth of what he would not believe from the mouth of Christ — that a man's life does not consist in the abundance of the things which he possesses.
He who is greedy for gain shall not live — so the wise man insinuates in the last part of the verse. He either shortens his days by his anxieties about the world, and those sinful methods which he takes to obtain the things on which he has placed his heart — or he embitters his life by his distracting cares. He designs to secure his family against poverty and contempt, and to raise it to eminence and honor — but his covetousness brings evil and shame to his house, while he sins against his own soul. He kindles a fire in his dwelling, which shall consume the tabernacles of bribery.
If men could obtain what they seek by sin — it would be a pitiful compensation for eternal misery in Hell! "For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?"
But the same Almighty God who punishes the wicked in Hell, reigns by his providence upon earth! His face is ever against the wicked, and if they prosper and flourish for a while, like the grass — it is that they shall be destroyed forever; and they are the wretched instruments of harm, not only to themselves — but to those whom they most love, and whom they mean to serve by their sins.
Money is a good thing when it is possessed by the wise — but the love of money is the root of every evil, and therefore covetousness is not to be named among the saints. If we love ourselves and our children, if we wish for quietness and peace on earth, if we cannot think without horror of dwelling in everlasting fire — we must take heed and beware of covetousness!
"But he who hates bribes will live" — and his house shall stand. It is not enough for us to refrain from dishonest gains — but we must shake our hands from holding of bribes. This is the difference between the disposition of good and wicked men, with relation to sin. Wicked men may for many reasons abstain from the outward commission of it — but godly men hate sin, and everything that leads to it. He who hates bribes is not a loser by his justice, unless a little money be more valuable than life, and the blessing of God to sweeten it. His family are great gainers, for the just men walks in his integrity, and his children are blessed after him. Jeremiah gives us several striking illustrations of this proverb.
Proverbs 15:28."The heart of the righteous weighs its answers, but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil." The righteous man has a good treasure in his heart, out of which he brings good things — but he does not depend upon this good treasure, so as to speak anything upon a subject that occurs most readily and easily to him. He wishes to speak nothing that may do hurt to others, or lead them into mistakes — but on every occasion, and especially in affairs of importance, to say what is best and most seasonable. He therefore considers what is fit to be answered to any man with whom he converses, and his words as well as his affairs are ordered with discretion.
Without thought, the righteous would speak like fools, as David did when he was provoked by the churlish words of Nabal, and in his fury, vowed to destroy the house of Nabal, and cut of the innocent with the guilty.
In matters of great consequence that require delicate management, it is needful, in answering men, to lift up our soul to God in secret prayer for the direction of our tongues. Nehemiah prayed to the Lord in the presence of the king of Persia, before he answered his question; and it is remarkable with what wise eloquence he was taught by God to address the king, in such a manner as to obtain great favor for himself and for Israel.
But a wicked man has little sense of the importance of the government of the tongue, and lacks the bridle of the fear of God to manage this unruly member, and therefore he pours forth evil things. But for all his vain and wicked words, he must one day account. "But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned!"
Proverbs 15:29."The Lord is far from the wicked — but he hears the prayer of the righteous." The Lord is not far from any man, for in him we all live, and move, and have our being. But as wicked men are far from God, through the alienation of their hearts, and the wickedness of their works — so the Lord is far from them, that is, he will have no fellowship with them. The righteous cry, and the Lord hears them — but he does not hear the cry of the wicked, and beholds them afar off. Wicked men think they may safely go on in sin, and if trouble comes upon them, then they will cry to the Lord, and all shall be well. Many have been ruined by such presumptuous expectations, and sad experience has at last convinced them that the Almighty was under no obligation to attend to their voice in adversity, when they would not hear his voice in the day of his forbearance.
The prayers of the righteous are graciously heard. God does not always give a present answer to them — but they need not wonder at that, for he did not give a present answer to his own Son crying to him is the days of his flesh. He will hear at the time, and in the manner, which is best to himself. Even wise heathens could see that it is proper to leave it to the wisdom of God to determine what is best for us. If we do not obtain a speedy answer to our mind, we must wait on God, for he is a righteous God; blessed are all those who wait for him.
Our Advocate who presents our petitions is always heard, and the worthy name in which we pray is ever prevalent with God.
The blind man whom Christ healed, made a noble use of the truth contained in the beginning of this verse. He drew from it an irrefutable proof of the divine mission of Christ. But there are too many that draw a very bad conclusion from it. If our prayers cannot be heard, say they, we may give over praying. The prophet Isaiah draws a very apposite instruction from this truth, teaching sinners to leave their sins, and not their prayers. "When you make many prayers," says God, "I will not hear; your hands are full of blood."
What then must they do? Are they forever excluded from the favor of God? No, the Lord is far from the wicked — and yet brings near his salvation to them. He shows them a fountain of blood in which they must be washed and purged from their sin and filth — and then their prayers will come with acceptance before him.
Proverbs 15:30."The light of the eyes brings joy to the heart." Truly the light is sweet, and we ought to give thanks every day to God, who makes the sun to shine, and formed that amazing piece of mechanism, the eye of man, and contrived it so as to fetch in a thousand pleasures, not only from the objects that surround us — but from those glorious luminaries that are millions of leagues distant from the place of our abode.
If Bartimeus was enraptured with gratitude to Christ when he restored to him his sight — then why should we be less grateful to our Maker, who gave us this noble organ of sense, and has constantly preserved it, and made it the instrument of so many pleasures and advantages?
It is very ungrateful to make our eyes the instrument of rebelling against our Maker, which is every day done by the adulterer and the covetous. On the contrary, when our eyes give joy to our hearts, it is highly roper to improve this pleasure into adoration and praise, by magnifying the work of God which we behold.
"And good news gives health to the bones." The ear as well as the eye ministers delight and advantage to us. Pleasant views are cheering to the spirit — but glad tidings are no less reviving to the heart, and the pleasures received from them is marrow to the bones, and health to the whole man.
No reports have this effect so much as the glad tidings of salvation to lost sinners. We must thank God that we receive so many intricate discoveries by means of the sense of hearing — but above all, that the gospel of his grace has reached our ears. Gratitude teaches us to turn away our ears from the instruction that causes to err from the words of knowledge, and from all corrupt and uncharitable conversation, and to attend with earnestness unto the voice of the Lord, addressing us from day to day in His holy Word. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.
Have any of us lost the sight of our eyes? That is a sore affliction — yet let us be thankful if the use of our ears remains to us, by which we enjoy the agreeable converse of our friends, and the opportunities of serving God, and waiting on him in his sanctuary.
Proverbs 15:31."He who listens to a life-giving rebuke will be at home among the wise." There are great differences among reprovers. Some reproofs are not the reproofs of life, and these deserve little regard from us. There are people who will rebuke others for doing their duty, and curse them because they will not see with their unjust eyes. But in opposition to these gainsayers, and perverters of the right ways of the Lord, we must hold on our way, and never be ashamed of the testimony of the Lord.
But life-giving reproofs are valuable. Our Lord teaches us to account them pearls, and Solomon in this expression gives them an equal commendation, and frequently lays it down as a mark of wisdom, to pay a proper regard to just and needful reproofs.
But how shall we know whether we have this character of wisdom? It is not by saying to that friend who reproves us, that we are obliged to him. Good manners will make almost any man to say that. But here is the trial of our submission to rebukes — if we have a just sense of the value of reproofs, we will count that faithful friend who reproves, rather than flatters — a treasure, and frequent his company on that account. We will not angrily leave that Christian society with which we are connected, because the word of God is faithfully applied in it to the correction of vice, and discipline impartially administered, although we ourselves should become the objects of it.
The servant who loves a faithful reprover, and truly regards his own soul, will chose to live in a house where God is feared, and family religion enforced. And every man possessed of this humble disposition, will chose that company in which he is most likely to be told of his faults.
Those who reprove others, ought to dispense their beneficial admonitions with meekness and prudence, that they may not render this ordinance of God offensive by their manner of dispensing it, and render themselves accountable for the harm done by this means to precious souls.
Proverbs 15:32."He who ignores discipline despises himself, but whoever heeds correction gains understanding." We are born like the wild donkey's colt, and need not only instruction — but reproof, to make us wise. But some are such enemies to themselves, that they will not allow themselves to be taught wisdom. He is the greatest enemy to himself, if he spurns at the physician for giving him those prescriptions that are absolutely necessary for his health, though disagreeable to his vitiated palate. Just so, the scorner hates his reprover. He is more brutish than the horse or mule, for these animals, although they lack reason, and are stubborn at first — will rather be tamed than destroyed.
But that man is happy who welcomes the word of exhortation and reproof, for though he is at present chargeable with many faults and follies — yet he is in the way of reformation, and takes the sure method of getting understanding. He is meek and teachable, and God will bless to his soul that word which he receives with meekness.
Solomon gives us frequent advice on this point — but they are all needful, for no duty is harder to our proud spirits, than receiving reproofs with calmness, and applying them to the correction of our lives.
Proverbs 15:33."The fear of the Lord teaches a man wisdom." The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and it instructs men in every other branch of wisdom. For a right impression of the excellencies of God upon our minds — it will dispose us with due reverence to search the scriptures, and to acquiesce in the wise instructions which they contain. It will powerfully influence as to make a thankful use of Christ, as he is made of God wisdom to us, and to follow the conduct of the Holy Spirit.
The fear of the Lord will be a preservative to us from sin and folly, and an incentive to all holy living and godliness. A good understanding have all those who keep the commandments of God.
"And humility comes before honor." For while we humbly renounce our own righteousness, and place all our dependence on the grace of God, we are exalted in Christ's imputed righteousness. And when we are pure in spirit, we are prepared for the kingdom of Heaven. He to whom all judgment is committed, has declared, and will make it good, "He who humbles himself shall be exalted."
The honors of this world are so short-lived, that they are scarcely worth the naming. Sometimes the proud push themselves into high stations — and yet they cannot attain the summit of their ambitious aims, without the permission of that Providence from which promotion comes. It is certain that God hates the proud, and will not allow them to rise into eminence for their real advantage — but rather to signalize his vengeance, by spurning them, in due time, into eternal disgrace and misery.
Alexander and Julius Caesar blazed for a time — but how much more illustrious and durable were the honors of David, who thought himself quite unworthy to be the king's son-in-law, and compared himself to a partridge and a flea — but was exalted by God to the throne of his kingdom over Israel, and to the greater honor of being a prophet in the church, and the sweet singer of Israel!