1 A wise son heareth his father's
instruction: but a scorner heareth not rebuke.
Among the children of the same parents it
is no new thing for some to be hopeful and others the contrary; now
here we are taught to distinguish. 1. There is great hope of those
that have a reverence for their parents, and are willing to be
advised and admonished by them. He is a wise son, and is in
a far way to be wiser, that hears his father's instruction,
desires to hear it, regards it, and complies with it, and does not
merely give it the hearing. 2. There is little hope of those that
will not so much as hear rebuke with any patience, but scorn
to submit to government and scoff at those that deal faithfully
with them. How can those mend a fault who will not be told of it,
but count those their enemies who do them that kindness?
2 A man shall eat good by the fruit of
his mouth: but the soul of the transgressors shall
Note, 1. If that which comes from within,
out of the heart, be good, and from a good treasure, it will return
with advantage. Inward comfort and satisfaction will be daily
bread; nay, it will be a continual feast to those who delight in
that communication which is to the use of edifying. 2.
Violence done will recoil in the face of him that does it: The
soul of the transgressors that harbours and plots mischief, and
vents it by word and deed, shall eat violence; they shall
have their belly full of it. Reward her as she has rewarded
thee, Rev. xviii. 6.
Every man shall drink as he brews, eat as he speaks; for by our
words we must be justified or condemned, Matt. xii. 37. As our fruit is, so will our
food be, Rom. vi. 21,
3 He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life:
but he that openeth wide his lips shall have
Note, 1. A guard upon the lips is a guard
to the soul. He that is cautious, that thinks twice before he
speaks once, that, if he have thought evil, lays his hand upon
his mouth to suppress it, that keeps a strong bridle on his
tongue and a strict hand on that bridle, he keeps his soul
from a great deal both of guilt and grief and saves himself the
trouble of many bitter reflections on himself and reflections of
others upon him. 2. There is many a one ruined by an ungoverned
tongue: He that opens widely his lips, to let our quod in
buccam venerit—whatever comes uppermost, that loves to bawl,
and bluster, and make a noise, and affects such a liberty of speech
as bids defiance both to God and man, he shall have
destruction. it will be the destruction of his reputation, his
interest, his comfort, and his soul for ever, Jam. iii. 6.
4 The soul of the sluggard desireth, and
hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made
Here is, 1. The misery and shame of the
slothful. See how foolish and absurd they are; they desire the
gains which the diligent get, but they hate the pains which the
diligent take; they covet every thing that is to be coveted, but
will do nothing that is to be done; and therefore it follows, They
have nothing; for he that will not labour let him hunger, and let
him not eat, 2 Thess. iii.
10. The desire of the slothful, which should be
his excitement, is his torment, which should make him busy, makes
him always uneasy, and is really a greater toil to him than labour
would be. 2. The happiness and honour of the diligent: Their
soul shall be made fat; they shall have abundance, and shall
have the comfortable enjoyment of it, and the more for its being
the fruit of their diligence. This is especially true in spiritual
affairs. Those that rest in idle wishes know not what the
advantages of religion are; whereas those that take pains in the
service of God find both the pleasure and profit of it.
5 A righteous man hateth lying: but a
wicked man is loathsome, and cometh to shame.
Note, 1. Where grace reigns sin is
loathsome. It is the undoubted character of every righteous
man that he hates lying (that is, all sin, for every sin
is a lie, and particularly all fraud and falsehood in commerce and
conversation), not only that he will not tell a lie, but he abhors
lying, from a rooted reigning principle of love to truth and
justice, and conformity to God. 2. Where sin reigns the man is
loathsome. If his eyes were opened, and his conscience
awakened, he would be so to himself, he would abhor himself and
repent in dust and ashes; however, he is so to God and all good
men; particularly, he makes himself so by lying, than which there
is nothing more detestable. And, though he may think to face it out
awhile, yet he will come to shame and contempt at last and
will blush to show his face, Dan. xii.
6 Righteousness keepeth him that is
upright in the way: but wickedness overthroweth the sinner.
See here, 1. Saints secured from ruin.
Those that are upright in their way, that mean honestly in
all their actions, adhere conscientiously to the sacred and eternal
rules of equity, and deal sincerely both with God and man, their
integrity will keep them from the temptations of Satan, which shall
not prevail over them, the reproaches and injuries of evil men,
which shall not fasten upon them, to do them any real mischief,
Ps. xxv. 21.
Hic murus aheneus esto, nil conscire sibi.
Be this thy brazen bulwark of defence,
Still to preserve thy conscious innocence.
2. Sinners secured for ruin. Those that are
wicked, even their wickedness will be their overthrow at last, and
they are held in the cords of it in the mean time. Are they
corrected, destroyed? It is their own wickedness that corrects
them, that destroys them; they alone shall bear it.
7 There is that maketh himself rich, yet
hath nothing: there is that maketh himself poor, yet
hath great riches.
This observation is applicable,
I. To men's worldly estate. The world is a
great cheat, not only the things of the world, but the men of the
world. All men are liars. Here is an instance in two sore
evils under the sun:—1. Some that are really poor would be
thought to be rich and are thought to be so; they trade and spend
as if they were rich, make a great bustle and a great show as if
they had hidden treasures, when perhaps, if all their debts were
paid, they are not worth a groat. This is sin, and will be shame;
many a one hereby ruins his family and brings reproach upon his
profession of religion. Those that thus live above what they have
choose to be subject to their own pride rather than to God's
providence, and it will end accordingly. 2. Some that are really
rich would be thought to be poor, and are thought to be so, because
they sordidly and meanly live below what God has given them, and
choose rather to bury it than to use it, Eccl. vi. 1, 2. In this there is an
ingratitude to God, injustice to the family and neighbourhood, and
uncharitableness to the poor.
II. To their spiritual state. Grace is the
riches of the soul; it is true riches; but men commonly
misrepresent themselves, either designedly or through mistake and
ignorance of themselves. 1. There are many presuming hypocrites,
that are really poor and empty of grace and yet either think
themselves rich, and will not be convinced of their poverty, or
pretend themselves rich, and will not own their poverty. 2. There
are many timorous trembling Christians, that are spiritually rich,
and full of grace, and yet think themselves poor, and will not be
persuaded that they are rich, or, at least, will not own it; by
their doubts and fears, their complaints and griefs, they make
themselves poor. The former mistake is destroying at last; this
is disquieting in the mean time.
8 The ransom of a man's life are his
riches: but the poor heareth not rebuke.
We are apt to judge of men's blessedness,
at least in this world, by their wealth, and that they are more or
less happy accordingly as they have more or less of this world's
goods; but Solomon here shows what a gross mistake it is, that we
may be reconciled to a poor condition, and may neither covet riches
ourselves nor envy those that have abundance. 1. Those that are
rich, if by some they are respected for their riches, yet, to
balance that, by others they are envied and struck at, and brought
in danger of their lives, which therefore they are forced to ransom
with their riches. Slay us not, for we have treasures in the
field, Jer. xli. 8.
Under some tyrants, it has been crime enough to be rich; and how
little is a man beholden to his wealth when it only serves to
redeem that life which otherwise would not have been exposed! 2.
Those that are poor, if by some, that should be their friends, they
are despised and overlooked, yet, to balance that, they are also
despised and overlooked by others that would be their enemies if
they had any thing to lose: The poor hear not rebuke, are
not censured, reproached, accused, nor brought into trouble, as the
rich are; for nobody thinks it worth while to take notice of them.
When the rich Jews were carried captives to Babylon the poor of
the land were left, 2 Kings xxv.
12. Welcome nothing, once in seven years. Cantabit
vacuus coram latrone viator—When a traveller is met by a
robber he will rejoice at not having much property about
9 The light of the righteous rejoiceth: but the
lamp of the wicked shall be put out.
Here is, 1. The comfort of good men
flourishing and lasting: The light of the righteous
rejoices, that is, it increases, and makes them glad. Even
their outward prosperity is their joy, and much more those gifts,
graces, and comforts, with which their souls are illuminated; these
shine more and more, ch.
iv. 18. The Spirit is their light, and he gives them a
fulness of joy, and rejoices to do them good. 2. The comfort
of bad men withering and dying: The lamp of the wicked burns
dimly and faint; it looks melancholy, like a taper in an urn, and
it will shortly be put out in utter darkness, Isa. l. 11. The light of the
righteous is as that of the sun, which may be eclipsed and clouded,
but will continue; that of the wicked is as a lamp of their own
kindling, which will presently go out and is easily put out.
10 Only by pride cometh contention: but with the
well advised is wisdom.
Note, 1. Foolish pride is the great
make-bate. Would you know whence come wars and fightings?
They come from this root of bitterness. Whatever hand other lusts
may have in contention (passion, envy, covetousness), pride has the
great hand; it is its pride that it will itself sow discord and
needs no help. Pride makes men impatient of contradiction in either
their opinions or their desires, impatient of competition and
rivalship, impatient of contempt, or any thing that looks like a
slight, and impatient of concession, and receding, from a conceit
of certain right and truth on their side; and hence arise quarrels
among relations and neighbours, quarrels in states and kingdoms, in
churches and Christian societies. Men will be revenged, will not
forgive, because they are proud. 2. Those that are humble and
peaceable are wise and well advised. Those that will ask and
take advice, that will consult their own consciences, their Bibles,
their ministers, their friends, and will do nothing rashly, are
wise, as in other things, so in this, that they will humble
themselves, will stoop and yield, to preserve quietness and prevent
11 Wealth gotten by vanity shall be
diminished: but he that gathereth by labour shall increase.
This shows that riches wear as they are won
and woven. 1. That which is won ill will never wear well, for a
curse attends it which will waste it, and the same corrupt
dispositions which incline men to the sinful ways of getting well
incline them to the like sinful ways of spending: Wealth gotten
by vanity will be bestowed upon vanity, and then it will be
diminished. That which is got by such employments as are not
lawful, or not becoming Christians, such as only serve to feed
pride and luxury, that which is got by gaming or by the stage, may
as truly be said to be gotten by vanity as that which is got
by fraud and lying, and will be diminished. De male quæsitis vix
gaudet tertius hæres—Ill-gotten wealth will scarcely be enjoyed by
the third generation. 2. That which is got by industry and
honesty will grow more, instead of growing less; it will be a
maintenance; it will be an inheritance; it will be an abundance.
He that labours, working with his hands, shall so
increase as that he shall have to give to him that
needs (Eph. iv. 28);
and, when it comes to that, it will increase yet more and more.
12 Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but
when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.
Note, 1. Nothing is more grievous than the
disappointment of a raised expectation, though not in the thing
itself by a denial, yet in the time of it by a delay: Hope
deferred makes the heart sick and languishing, fretful and
peevish; but hope quite dashed kills the heart, and the more high
the expectation was raised the more cutting is the frustration of
it. It is therefore our wisdom not to promise ourselves any great
matters from the creature, not to feed ourselves with any vain
hopes from this world, lest we lay up matter for our own vexation;
and what we do hope for let us prepare to be disappointed in, that,
if it should prove so, it may prove the easier; and let us not be
hasty. 2. Nothing is more grateful than to enjoy that, at last,
which we have long wished and waited for: When the desire does
come it puts men into a sort of paradise, a garden of pleasure,
for it is a tree of life. It will aggravate the eternal
misery of the wicked that their hopes will be frustrated; and it
will make the happiness of heaven the more welcome to the saints
that it is what they have earnestly longed for as the crown of
13 Whoso despiseth the word shall be destroyed:
but he that feareth the commandment shall be rewarded.
Here is, 1. The character of one that is
marked for ruin: He that despises the word of God, and has
no regard to it, no veneration for it, nor will be ruled by it,
certainly he shall be destroyed, for he slights that which
is the only means of curing a destructive disease and makes himself
obnoxious to that divine wrath which will certainly be his
destruction. Those that prefer the rules of carnal policy before
divine precepts, and the allurements of the world and the flesh
before God's promises and comforts, despise his word, giving the
preference to those things that stand in competition with it; and
it is to their own just destruction: they would not take warning.
2. The character of one that is sure to be happy: He that fears
the commandment, that stands in awe of God, pays a deference to
his authority, has a reverence for his word, is afraid of
displeasing God and incurring the penalties annexed to the
commandment, shall not only escape destruction, but shall be
rewarded for his godly fear. In keeping the commandment
there is great reward.
14 The law of the wise is a fountain of
life, to depart from the snares of death.
By the law of the wise and
righteous, here, we may understand either the principles and rules
by which they govern themselves or (which comes all to one) the
instructions which they give to others, which ought to be as a law
to all about them; and if they be so, 1. They will be constant
springs of comfort and satisfaction, as a fountain of life,
sending forth streams of living water; the closer we keep to those
rules the more effectually we secure our own peace. 2. They will be
constant preservatives from the temptations of Satan. Those that
follow the dictates of this law will keep at a distance from the
snares of sin, and so escape the snares of death which those
run into that forsake the law of the wise.
15 Good understanding giveth favour: but the way
of transgressors is hard.
If we compare not only the end, but the
way, we shall find that religion has the advantage; for, 1. The way
of saints is pleasant and agreeable: Good understanding
gains favour with God and man; our Saviour grew in that
favour when he increased in wisdom. Those that conduct
themselves prudently, and order their conversation aright in every
thing, that serve Christ in righteousness, and peace, and joy in
the Holy Ghost, are accepted of God and approved of men,
Rom. xiv. 17, 18. And
how comfortably will that man pass through the world who is well
understood and is therefore well accepted! 2. The way of sinners is
rough and uneasy, and, for this reason, unpleasant to
themselves, because unacceptable to others. It is hard, hard
upon others, who complain of it, hard to the sinner himself, who
can have little enjoyment of himself while he is doing that which
is disobliging to all mankind. The service of sin is perfect
slavery, and the road to hell is strewed with the thorns and
thistles that are the products of the curse. Sinners labour in the
16 Every prudent man dealeth with
knowledge: but a fool layeth open his folly.
Note, 1. It is wisdom to be cautious.
Every prudent discreet man does all with
knowledge (considering with himself and consulting with
others), acts with deliberation and is upon the reserve, is careful
not to meddle with that which he has not some knowledge of, not to
launch out into business which he has not acquainted himself with,
will not deal with those that he has not some
knowledge of, whether they may be confided in. He is still
dealing in knowledge, that he may increase the stock he has. 2. It
is folly to be rash, as the fool is, who is forward to talk
of things he knows nothing of and undertake that which he is no way
fit for, and so lays open his folly and makes himself
ridiculous. He began to build and was not able to
17 A wicked messenger falleth into mischief: but
a faithful ambassador is health.
Here we have, 1. The ill consequences of
betraying a trust. A wicked messenger, who, being sent to
negotiate any business, is false to him that employed him, divulges
his counsels, and so defeats his designs, cannot expect to prosper,
but will certainly fall into some mischief or other,
will be discovered and punished, since nothing is more hateful to
God and man than the treachery of those that have a confidence
reposed in them. 2. The happy effects of fidelity: An
ambassador who faithfully discharges his trust, and
serves the interests of those who employ him, is health; he
is health to those by whom and for whom he is employed, heals
differences that are between them, and preserves a good
understanding; he is health to himself, for he secures his own
interest. This is applicable to ministers, Christ's messengers and
ambassadors; those that are wicked and false to Christ and the
souls of men do mischief and fall into mischief, but those
that are faithful will find sound words to be healing words to
others and themselves.
18 Poverty and shame shall be to him that
refuseth instruction: but he that regardeth reproof shall be
Note, 1. He that is so proud that he scorns
to be taught will certainly be abased. He that refuses the
good instruction offered him, as if it were a reflection
upon his honour and an abridgment of his liberty, poverty and
shame shall be to him: he will become a beggar and live and die
in disgrace; every one will despise him as foolish, and stubborn,
and ungovernable. 2. He that is so humble that he takes it well to
be told of his faults shall certainly be exalted: He that
regards a reproof, whoever gives it to him, and will mend what
is amiss when it is shown him, gains respect as wise and candid; he
avoids that which would be a disgrace to him and is in a fair way
to make himself considerable.
19 The desire accomplished is sweet to the soul:
but it is abomination to fools to depart from evil.
This shows the folly of those that refuse
instruction, for they might be happy and will not. 1. They might be
happy. There are in man strong desires of happiness; God has
provided for the accomplishment of those desires, and that would be
sweet to the soul, whereas the pleasures of sense are
grateful only to the carnal appetite. The desire of good men
towards the favour of God and spiritual blessings brings that which
is sweet to their souls; we know those that can say so by
experience, Ps. iv. 6, 7.
2. Yet they will not be happy; for it is an abomination
to them to depart from evil, which is necessary to their
being happy. Never let those expect any thing truly sweet to their
souls that will not be persuaded to leave their sins, but that roll
them under their tongues as a sweet morsel.
20 He that walketh with wise men shall be
wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.
Note, 1. Those that would be good must keep
good company, which is an evidence for them that they would be good
(men's character is known by the company they choose) and will be a
means of making them good, of showing them the way and of
quickening and encouraging them in it. He that would be himself
wise must walk with those that are so, must choose such for his
intimate acquaintance, and converse with them accordingly; must ask
and receive instruction from them, and keep up pious and profitable
talk with them. Miss not the discourse of the elders, for they
also learned of their fathers, Ecclesiasticus viii. 9.
And (Ecclesiasticus vi. 35), Be willing to hear every
godly discourse, and let not the parables of understanding escape
thee. 2. Multitudes are brought to ruin by bad company: A
companion of fools shall be broken (so some), shall be
known (so the LXX.), known to be a fool; noscitur ex
socio—he is known by his company. He will be like them
(so some), will be made wicked (so others); it comes all to
one, for all those, and those only, that make themselves wicked,
will be destroyed, and those that associate with evil-doers
are debauched, and so undone, and at last ascribe their death to
21 Evil pursueth sinners: but to the righteous
good shall be repayed.
Here see, 1. How unavoidable the
destruction of sinners is; the wrath of God pursues them, and all
the terrors of that wrath: Evil pursues them closely
wherever they go, as the avenger of blood pursued the manslayer,
and they have no city of refuge to flee to; they attempt an escape,
but in vain. Whom God pursues he is sure to overtake. They may
prosper for a while and grow very secure, but their damnation
slumbers not, though they do. 2. How indefeasible the happiness of
the saints is; the God that cannot lie has engaged that to the
righteous good shall be repaid. They shall be abundantly
recompensed for all the good they have done, and all the ill they
have suffered, in this world; so that, though many have been losers
for their righteousness, they shall not be losers by it. Though the
recompence do not come quickly, it will come in the day of payment,
in the world of retribution; and it will be an abundant
22 A good man leaveth an inheritance to
his children's children: and the wealth of the sinner is
laid up for the just.
See here, 1. How a good man's estate
lasts: He leaves an inheritance to his children's children.
It is part of his praise that he is thoughtful for posterity, that
he does not lay all out upon himself, but is in care to do well for
those that come after him, not by withholding more than is meet,
but by a prudent and decent frugality. He trains up his children to
this, that they may leave it to their children; and especially he
is careful, both by justice and charity, to obtain the blessing of
God upon what he has, and to entail that blessing upon his
children, without which the greatest industry and frugality will be
in vain: A good man, by being good and doing good, by
honouring the Lord with his substance and spending it in his
service, secures it to his posterity; or, if he should not leave
them much of this world's goods, his prayers, his instructions, his
good example, will be the best entail, and the promises of the
covenant will be an inheritance to his children's children,
Ps. ciii. 17. 2. How it
increases by the accession of the wealth of the sinner to
it, for that is laid up for the just. If it be asked, How
should good men grow so rich, who are not so eager upon the world
as others are and who commonly suffer for their well-doing? It is
here answered, God, in his providence, often brings into their
hands that which wicked people had laid up for themselves. The
innocent shall divide the silver, Job xxvii. 16, 17. The Israelites shall
spoil the Egyptians (Exod. xii.
36) and eat the riches of the Gentiles, Isa. lxi. 6.
23 Much food is in the tillage of the
poor: but there is that is destroyed for want of
See here, 1. How a small estate may be
improved by industry, so that a man, by making the best of every
thing, may live comfortably upon it: Much food is in the tillage
of the poor, the poor farmers, that have but a little, but take
pains with that little and husband it well. Many make it an excuse
for their idleness that they have but a little to work on, a very
little to be doing with; but the less compass the field is of the
more let the skill and labour of the owner be employed about it,
and it will turn to a very good account. Let him dig, and he needs
not beg. 2. How a great estate may be ruined by indiscretion:
There is that has a great deal, but it is destroyed
and brought to nothing for want of judgment, that is,
prudence in the management of it. Men over-build themselves or
over-buy themselves, keep greater company, or a better table, or
more servants, than they can afford, suffer what they have to go to
decay and do not make the most of it; by taking up money
themselves, or being bound for others, their estates are sunk,
their families reduced, and all for want of judgment.
24 He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but
he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.
Note, 1. To the education of children in
that which is good there is necessary a due correction of them for
what is amiss; every child of ours is a child of Adam, and
therefore has that foolishness bound up in its heart which calls
for rebuke, more or less, the rod and reproof which give wisdom.
Observe, It is his rod that must be used, the rod of a
parent, directed by wisdom and love, and designed for good, not the
rod of a servant. 2. It is good to begin betimes with the necessary
restraints of children from that which is evil, before vicious
habits are confirmed. The branch is easily bent when it is tender.
3. Those really hate their children, though they pretend to be fond
of them, that do not keep them under a strict discipline, and by
all proper methods, severe ones when gentle ones will not serve,
make them sensible of their faults and afraid of offending. They
abandon them to their worst enemy, to the most dangerous disease,
and therefore hate them. Let this reconcile children to the
correction their good parents give them; it is from love, and for
their good, Heb. xii.
25 The righteous eateth to the satisfying of his
soul: but the belly of the wicked shall want.
Note, 1. It is the happiness of the
righteous that they shall have enough and that they know when they
have enough. They desire not to be surfeited, but, being moderate
in their desires, they are soon satisfied. Nature is content with a
little and grace with less; enough is as good as a feast. Those
that feed on the bread of life, that feast on the promises, meet
with abundant satisfaction of soul there, eat, and are filled. 2.
It is the misery of the wicked that, through the insatiableness of
their own desires, they are always needy; not only their souls
shall not be satisfied with the world and the flesh, but even their
belly shall want; their sensual appetite is always craving.
In hell they shall be denied a drop of water.