Giving Others What They Really Need
17;28:23;29:10 May 26 2013
Leviticus 19:35-36 forbids the use of “dishonest standards,” weighted to favor the merchant rather than the seller or buyer. The Jewish Talmud calls for meticulous efforts to keep this command, decreeing that “the shopkeeper must wipe his measures twice a week, his weights once a week, and his scales after every weighing,” to keep any substance from throwing them off. We can’t be too careful trying to be fair with others.
Why should the community rejoice in the prosperity of the righteous? Because both the way a righteous man gains his wealth and the way he uses it benefits society. The righteous businessman employs others, supports schools and government with his taxes and, in the O.T. tradition, shares generously.
The Heb. calls the man who hates correction “brutish.” The thought is that animals, controlled by instinct, are unable to learn from criticism. The person who gets angry when corrected rather than taking the criticism to heart has as little chance to make moral progress as a dumb animal.
Animals are not viewed with contempt because they are less than human. They are viewed with compassion, and we are to accept responsibility to care for them.
Proverbs 11:12 He who is devoid of wisdom despises his neighbor,But a man of understanding holds his peace.13 A talebearer reveals secrets, But he who is of a faithful spirit conceals a matter.14 Where there is no counsel, the people fall; But in the multitude of counselors there is safety.
I. Silence is here recommended as an instance of true friendship, and a preservative of it, and therefore an evidence, 1. Of wisdom: A man of understanding, that has rule over his own spirit, if he be provoked, holds his peace, that he may neither give vent to his passion nor kindle the passion of others by any opprobrious language or peevish reflections. 2. Of sincerity: He that is of a faithful spirit, that is true, not only to his own promise, but to the interest of his friend, conceals every matter which, if divulged, may turn to the prejudice of his neighbour.
II. This prudent friendly concealment is here opposed to two very bad vices of the tongue:—1. Speaking scornfully of a man to his face: He that is void of wisdom discovers his folly by this; he despises his neighbour, calls him Raca, and Thou fool, upon the least provocation, and tramples upon him as not worthy to be set with the dogs of his flock. He undervalues himself who thus undervalues one that is made of the same mould. 2. Speaking spitefully of a man behind his back: A tale-bearer, that carries all the stories he can pick up, true or false, from house to house, to make mischief and sow discord, reveals secrets which he has been entrusted with, and so breaks the laws, and forfeits all the privileges, of friendship and conversation.
Here is, 1. The bad omen of a kingdom’s ruin: Where no counsel is, no consultation at all, but every thing done rashly, or no prudent consultation for the common good, but only caballing for parties and divided interests, the people fall, crumble into factions, fall to pieces, fall together by the ears, and fall an easy prey to their common enemies. Councils of war are necessary to the operations of war; two eyes see more than one; and mutual advice is in order to mutual assistance. 2. The good presage of a kingdom’s prosperity: In the multitude of counsellors, that see their need one of another, and act in concert and with concern for the public welfare, there is safety; for what prudent methods one discerns not another may. In our private affairs we shall often find it to our advantage to advise with many; if they agree in their advice, our way will be the more clear; if they differ, we shall hear what is to be said on all sides, and be the better able to determine.
Proverbs 17:17 A friend loves at all times, And a brother is born for adversity.
This intimates the strength of those bonds by which we are bound to each other and which we ought to be sensible of. 1. Friends must be constant to each other at all times. That is not true friendship which is not constant; it will be so if it be sincere, and actuated by a good principle. Those that are fanciful or selfish in their friendship will love no longer than their humour is pleased and their interest served, and therefore their affections turn with the wind and change with the weather. Swallow-friends, that fly to you in summer, but are gone in winter; such friends there is no loss of. But if the friendship be prudent, generous, and cordial, if I love my friend because he is wise, and virtuous, and good, as long as he continues so, though he fall into poverty and disgrace, still I shall love him. Christ is a friend that loves at all times (Jn. 13:1 ) and we must so love him, Rom. 8:35 . 2. Relations must in a special manner be careful and tender of one another in affliction: A brother is born to succour a brother or sister in distress, to whom he is joined so closely by nature that he may the more sensibly feel from their burdens, and be the more strongly inclined and engaged, as it were by instinct, to help them. We must often consider what we were born for, not only as men, but as in such a station and relation. Who knows but we came into such a family for such a time as this? We do not answer the end of our relations if we do not do the duty of them. Some take it thus: A friend that loves at all times is born (that is, becomes) a brother in adversity, and is so to be valued.
Proverbs 18:24 A man who has friends must himself be friendly,But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
Solomon here recommends friendship to us, and shows, 1. What we must do that we may contract and cultivate friendship; we must show ourselves friendly. Would we have friends and keep them, we must not only not affront them, or quarrel with them, but we must love them, and make it appear that we do so by all expressions that are endearing, by being free with them, pleasing to them, visiting them and bidding them welcome, and especially by doing all the good offices we can and serving them in every thing that lies in our power; that is showing ourselves friendly.
Si vis amari, ama —
If you wish to gain affection, bestow it.
Ut ameris, amabilis esto —
The way to be beloved is to be lovely.
2. That it is worth while to do so, for we may promise ourselves a great deal of comfort in a true friend. A brother indeed is born for adversity, as he had said, ch. 17:17 . In our troubles we expect comfort and relief from our relations, but sometimes there is a friend, that is nothing akin to us, the bonds of whose esteem and love prove stronger than those of nature, and, when it comes to the trial, will do more for us than a brother will. Christ is a friend to all believers that sticks closer than a brother; to him therefore let them show themselves friendly.
Proverbs 27:5 Open rebuke is betel. Than love carefully concealed.6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend, Is a man who wanders from his place.
Proverbs 27:9 Ointment and perfume delight the heart, And the sweetness of a man’s friend gives delight by hearty counsel. 10 Do not forsake your own friend or your father’s friend, Nor go to your brother’s house in the day of your calamity; Better is a neighbor nearby than a brother far away.
Here is, 1. A charge given to be faithful and constant to our friends, our old friends, to keep up an intimacy with them, and to be ready to do them all the offices that lie in our power. It is good to have a friend, a bosom-friend, whom we can be free with, and with whom we may communicate counsels. It is not necessary that this friend should be a relation, or any way akin to us, though it is happiest when, among those who are so, we find one fit to make a friend of. Peter and Andrew were brethren, so were James and John; yet Solomon frequently distinguishes between a friend and a brother. But it is advisable to choose a friend among our neighbours who live near us, that acquaintance may be kept up and kindnesses the more frequently interchanged. It is good also to have a special respect to those who have been friends to our family: “Thy own friend, especially if he have been thy father’s friend, forsake not; fail not both to serve him and to use him, as there is occasion. He is a tried friend; he knows thy affairs; he has a particular concern for thee; therefore be advised by him.” It is a duty we owe to our parents, when they are gone, to love their friends and consult with them. Solomon’s son undid himself by forsaking the counsel of his father’s friends. 2. A good reason given why we should thus value true friendship and be choice of it. (1.) Because of the pleasure of it. There is a great deal of sweetness in conversing and consulting with a cordial friend. It is like ointment and perfume, which are very grateful to the smell, and exhilarate the spirits. It rejoices the heart; the burden of care is made lighter by unbosoming ourselves to our friend, and it is a great satisfaction to us to have his sentiments concerning our affairs. The sweetness of friendship lies not in hearty mirth, and hearty laughter, but in hearty counsel, faithful advice, sincerely given and without flattery, by counsel of the soul (so the word is), counsel which reaches the case, and comes to the heart, counsel about soul-concerns, Ps. 66:16 . We should reckon that the most pleasant conversation which is about spiritual things, and promotes the prosperity of the soul. (2.) Because of the profit and advantage of it, especially in a day of calamity. We are here advised not to go into a brother’s house, not to expect relief from a kinsman merely for kindred-sake, for the obligation of that commonly goes little further than calling cousin and fails when it comes to the trial of a real kindness, but rather to apply ourselves to our neighbours, who are at hand, and will be ready to help us at an exigence. It is wisdom to oblige them by being neighbourly, and we shall have the benefit of it in distress, by finding them so to us, ch. 18:24.
Proverbs 27:17 As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.
This intimates both the pleasure and the advantage of conversation. One man is nobody; nor will poring upon a book in a corner accomplish a man as the reading and studying of men will. Wise and profitable discourse sharpens men’s wits; and those that have ever so much knowledge may by conference have something added to them. It sharpens men’s looks, and, by cheering the spirits, puts a briskness and liveliness into the countenance, and gives a man such an air as shows he is pleased himself and makes him pleasing to those about him. Good men’s graces are sharpened by converse with those that are good, and bad men’s lusts and passions are sharpened by converse with those that are bad, as iron is sharpened by its like, especially by the file. Men are filed, made smooth, and bright, and fit for business (who were rough, and dull, and inactive), by conversation. This is designed, 1. To recommend to us this expedient for sharpening ourselves, but with a caution to take heed whom we choose to converse with, because the influence upon us is so great either for the better or for the worse. 2. To direct us what we must have in our eye in conversation, namely to improve both others and ourselves, not to pass away time or banter one another, but to provoke one another to love and to good works and so to make one another wiser and better.
Proverbs 28:23 He who rebukes a man will find more favor afterward. Than he who flatters with the tongue
1. Flatterers may please those for a time who, upon second thoughts, will detest and despise them. If ever they come to be convinced of the evil of those sinful courses they were flattered in, and to be ashamed of the pride and vanity which were humoured and gratified by those flatteries, they will hate the fawning flatterers as having had an ill design upon them, and the fulsome flatteries as having had an ill effect upon them and become nauseous. 2. Reprovers may displease those at first who yet afterwards, when the passion is over and the bitter physic begins to work well, will love and respect them. He that deals faithfully with his friend, in telling him of his faults, though he may put him into some heat for the present, and perhaps have hard words, instead of thanks, for his pains, yet afterwards he will not only have the comfort in his own bosom of having done his duty, but he also whom he reproved will acknowledge that it was a kindness, will entertain a high opinion of his wisdom and faithfulness, and look upon him as fit to be a friend. He that cries out against his surgeon for hurting him when he is searching his wound will yet pay him well, and thank him too, when he has cured it.
Proverbs 29:10 The bloodthirsty hate the blameless, But the upright seek his well-being.
Bad men hate their best friends: The blood-thirsty, all the seed of the old serpent, who was a murderer from the beginning, all that inherit his enmity against the seed of the woman, hate the upright; they seek the ruin of good men because they condemn the wicked world and witness against it. Christ told his disciples that they should be hated of all men. Bloody men do especially hate upright magistrates, who would restrain and reform them, and put the laws in execution against them, and so really do them a kindness. 2. Good men love their worst enemies: The just, whom the bloody men hate, seek their soul, pray for their conversion, and would gladly do any thing for their salvation. This Christ taught us. Father, forgive them. The just seek his soul, that is, the soul of the upright, whom the bloody hate (so it is commonly understood), seek to protect it from violence, and save it from, or avenge it at, the hands of the blood-thirsty.
These chapters contain a second collection of proverbs attributed to Solomon. Like the other proverbs in this book, they touch on a variety of subjects. At the same time, many of them focus our attention on the fool, who is frequently contrasted to the wise or the righteous person. The Hebrew language distinguishes three kinds of fools, each of which is represented in this book. `Iwwelet describes a person who is morally deficient in a way shown by impetuous action and insistence on his or her own way. This root is translated “fool” or “folly” in Proverbs 1:7 ; 5:23 ; 7:22 ; 10:8 , 14 , 23 ; 11:29 ; 12:15-16 , 23 ; 13:16 ; 14:1 , 3 , 8-9 , 17-18 , 24 , 29 ; 15:2 , 14 , 21 ; 16:22 ; 17:12 , 28 ; 18:13 ; 19:3 ; 20:3 ; 22:15 ; 24:7 , 9 ; 26:4-5 , 11 ; 27:3 , 22 ; 29:9 . Kesil pictures an obstinate person who consciously rejects fear of the Lord. This fool is often portrayed as sexually immoral. This term is found in Proverbs 1:22 , 32 ; 3:35 ; 8:5 ; 10:1 , 18 , 23 ; 12:23 ; 13:16 , 19 , 20 ; 14:7 , 8 , 16 , 24 ; 14:33 ; 15:2 , 7 , 14 , 20 ; 17:10 , 12 , 16 , 21 , 24 , 25 ; 18:2 , 6 , 7 ; 19:1 , 10 , 13 , 29 ; 21:20 ; 23:9 ; 26:1 , 3-12 ; 28:26 ; 29:11 , 20 . Nabal is a perverse fool, who is closed both to God and morality. His folly is typically shown in gross sins, such as homosexuality and rape. This kind of fool is the subject of Proverbs 17:7 , 21 and 30:22.