1 The preparations of the heart in man, and the
answer of the tongue, is from the Lord.
As we read this, it teaches us a great
truth, that we are not sufficient of ourselves to think or speak
any thing of ourselves that is wise and good, but that all
our sufficiency is of God, who is with the heart and with
the mouth, and works in us both to will and to do, Phil. ii. 13; Ps. x. 17. But
most read it otherwise: The preparation of the heart is in
man (he may contrive and design this and the other) but the
answer of the tongue, not only the delivering of what he
designed to speak, but the issue and success of what he designed to
do, is of the Lord. That is, in short, 1. Man
purposes. He has a freedom of thought and a freedom of will
permitted him; let him form his projects, and lay his schemes, as
he thinks best: but, after all, 2. God disposes. Man cannot
go on with his business without the assistance and blessing of God,
who made man's mouth and teaches us what we shall say. Nay,
God easily can, and often does, cross men's purposes, and break
their measures. It was a curse that was prepared in Balaam's heart,
but the answer of the tongue was a blessing.
2 All the ways of a man are clean in his
own eyes; but the Lord weigheth the
Note, 1. We are all apt to be partial in
judging of ourselves: All the ways of a man, all his
designs, all his doings, are clean in his own eyes, and he
sees nothing amiss in them, nothing for which to condemn himself,
or which should make his projects prove otherwise than well; and
therefore he is confident of success, and that the answer of the
tongue shall be according to the expectations of the heart; but
there is a great deal of pollution cleaving to our ways, which we
are not aware of, or do not think so ill of as we ought. 2. The
judgment of God concerning us, we are sure, is according to truth:
He weighs the spirits in a just and unerring balance, knows
what is in us, and passes a judgment upon us accordingly, writing
Tekel upon that which passed our scale with
approbation—weighed in the balance and found wanting; and
by his judgment we must stand or fall. He not only sees men's ways
but tries their spirits, and we are as our spirits are.
3 Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.
Note, 1. It is a very desirable thing to
have our thoughts established, and not tossed, and put into
a hurry, by disquieting cares and fears,—to go on in an even
steady course of honesty and piety, not disturbed, or put out of
frame, by any event or change,—to be satisfied that all shall work
for good and issue well at last, and therefore to be always easy
and sedate. 2. The only way to have our thoughts established
is to commit our works to the Lord. The great concerns of
our souls must be committed to the grace of God, with a dependence
upon and submission to the conduct of that grace (2 Tim. i. 12); all our outward
concerns must be committed to the providence of God, and to the
sovereign, wise, and gracious disposal of that providence. Roll
thy works upon the Lord (so the word is); roll the burden of
thy care from thyself upon God. Lay the matter before him by
prayer. Make known thy works unto the Lord (so some read
it), not only the works of thy hand, but the workings of thy heart;
and then leave it with him, by faith and dependence upon him,
submission and resignation to him. The will of the Lord be
done. We may then be easy when we resolve that whatever pleases
God shall please us.
4 The Lord hath
made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the
day of evil.
Note, 1. That God is the first cause. He is
the former of all things and all persons, the fountain of being; he
gave every creature the being it has and appointed it its place.
Even the wicked are his creatures, though they are rebels; he gave
them those powers with which they fight against him, which
aggravates their wickedness, that they will not let him that made
them rule them, and therefore, though he made them, he will not
save them. 2. That God is the last end. All is of him and from him,
and therefore all is to him and for him. He made all according to
his will and for his praise; he designed to serve his own purposes
by all his creatures, and he will not fail of his designs; all are
his servants. The wicked he is not glorified by, but he will be
glorified upon. He makes no man wicked, but he made those who he
foresaw would be wicked: yet he made them (Gen. vi. 6), because he knew how to get
himself honour upon them. See Rom.
ix. 22. Or (as some understand it) he made the wicked to
be employed by him as the instruments of his wrath in the day of
evil, when he brings judgments on the world. He makes some use even
of wicked men, as of other things, to be his sword, his hand
(Ps. xvii. 13, 14),
flagellum Dei—the scourge of God. The king of Babylon is
called his servant.
5 Every one that is proud in heart
is an abomination to the Lord: though hand join in hand, he
shall not be unpunished.
Note, 1. The pride of sinners sets God
against them. He that, being high in estate is proud in heart,
whose spirit is elevated with his condition, so that he becomes
insolent in his conduct towards God and man, let him know that
though he admires himself, and others caress him, yet he is an
abomination to the Lord. The great God despises him; the holy
God detest him. 2. The power of sinners cannot secure them against
God, though they strengthen themselves with body hands. Though they
may strengthen one another with their confederacies and
combinations, joining forces against God, they shall not escape his
righteous judgment. Woe unto him that strives with his
Maker, ch. xi. 21;
Isa. xlv. 9.
6 By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by
the fear of the Lord men
depart from evil.
See here, 1. How the guilt of sin is taken
away from us—by the mercy and truth of God, mercy in
promising, truth in performing, the mercy and truth which kiss each
other in Jesus Christ the Mediator—by the covenant of grace, in
which mercy and truth shine so brightly—by our mercy and truth, as
the condition of the pardon and a necessary qualification for
it—by these, and not by the legal sacrifices, Mic. vi. 7, 8. 2. How the power of sin is
broken in us. By the principles of mercy and truth
commanding in us the corrupt inclinations are purged out (so we may
take the former part); however, by the fear of the Lord, and
the influence of that fear, men depart from evil; those will
not dare to sin against God who keep up in their minds a holy dread
and reverence of him.
7 When a man's ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace
Note, 1. God can turn foes into friends
when he pleases. He that has all hearts in his hand has access to
men's spirits and power over them, working insensibly, but
irresistibly upon them, can make a man's enemies to be at peace
with him, can change their minds, or force them into a feigned
submission. He can slay all enemies, and bring those together that
were at the greatest distance from each other. 2. He will do it for
us when we please him. If we make it our care to be reconciled to
God, and to keep ourselves in his love, he will incline those that
have been envious towards us, and vexatious to us, to entertain a
good opinion of us and to become our friends. God made Esau to be
at peace with Jacob, Abimelech with Isaac, and David's enemies to
court his favour and desire a league with Israel. The image of God
appearing upon the righteous, and his particular lovingkindness to
them, are enough to recommend them to the respect of all, even of
those that have been most prejudiced against them.
8 Better is a little with righteousness
than great revenues without right.
Here, 1. It is supposed that an honest good
man may have but a little of the wealth of this world (all the
righteous are not rich),—that a man may have but little, and yet
may be honest (though poverty is a temptation to dishonesty,
ch. xxx. 9, yet not
an invincible one),—and that a man may grow rich, for a while, by
fraud and oppression, may have great revenues, and those got
and kept without right, may have no good title to them nor
make any good use of them. 2. It is maintained that a small estate,
honestly come by, which a man is content with, enjoys comfortably,
serves God with cheerfully, and puts to a right use, is much better
and more valuable than a great estate ill-got, and then ill-kept or
ill-spent. It carries with it more inward satisfaction, a better
reputation with all that are wise and good; it will last longer,
and will turn to a better account in the great day, when men will
be judged, not according to what they had, but what they did.
9 A man's heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps.
Man is here represented to us, 1. As a
reasonable creature, that has the faculty of contriving for
himself: His heart devises his way, designs an end, and
projects ways and means leading to that end, which the inferior
creatures, who are governed by sense and natural instinct, cannot
do. The more shame for him if he do not devise the way how to
please God and provide for his everlasting state. 2. But as a
depending creature, that is subject to the direction and dominion
of his Maker. If men devise their way, so as to make God's
glory their end and his will their rule, they may expect that he
will direct their steps by his Spirit and grace, so that
they shall not miss their way nor come short of their end. But let
men devise their worldly affairs ever so politely, and with ever so
great a probability of success, yet God has the ordering of the
event, and sometimes directs their steps to that which they
least intended. The design of this is to teach us to say, If the
Lord will, we shall live and do this or that (Jam. iv. 14, 15), and to have our
eye to God, not only in the great turns of our lives, but in every
step we take. Lord, direct my way, 1 Thess. iii. 11.
10 A divine sentence is in the lips of
the king: his mouth transgresseth not in judgment.
We wish this were always true as a
proposition, and we ought to make it our prayer for kings, and all
in authority, that a divine sentence may be in their lips,
both in giving orders, that they may do that in wisdom, and in
giving sentence, that they may do that in equity, both which are
included in judgment, and that in neither their mouth may
transgress, 1 Tim. ii.
1. But it is often otherwise; and therefore, 1. It may
be read as a precept to the kings and judges of the earth to be
wise and instructed. Let them be just, and rule in the fear of God;
let them act with such wisdom and conscience that there may appear
a holy divination in all they say or do, and that they are guided
by principles supernatural: let not their mouths transgress in
judgment, for the judgment is God's. 2. It may be taken as a
promise to all good kings, that if they sincerely aim at God's
glory, and seek direction from him, he will qualify them with
wisdom and grace above others, in proportion to the eminency of
their station and the trusts lodged in their hands. When Saul
himself was made king God gave him another spirit. 3. It was true
concerning Solomon who wrote this; he had extraordinary wisdom,
pursuant to the promise God made him, See 1 Kings iii. 28.
11 A just weight and balance are the
Lord's: all the weights of the bag
are his work.
Note, 1. The administration of public
justice by the magistrate is an ordinance of God; in it the scales
are held, and ought to be held by a steady and impartial hand; and
we ought to submit to it, for the Lord's sake, and to see his
authority in that of the magistrate, Rom. xiii. 1; 1 Pet. ii. 13. 2. The
observance of justice in commerce between man and man is likewise a
divine appointment. He taught men discretion to make scales and
weights for the adjusting of right exactly between buyer and
seller, that neither may be wronged; and all other useful
inventions for the preserving of right are from him. He has also
appointed by his law that they be just. It is therefore a great
affront to him, and to his government, to falsify, and so to do
wrong under colour and pretence of doing right, which is
wickedness in the place of judgment.
12 It is an abomination to kings to
commit wickedness: for the throne is established by
Here is, 1. The character of a good king,
which Solomon intended not for his own praise, but for instruction
to his successors, his neighbours, and the viceroys under him. A
good king not only does justice, but it is an abomination to
him to do otherwise. He hates the thought of doing wrong and
perverting justice; he not only abhors the wickedness done by
others, but abhors the wickedness done by others, but abhors to do
any himself, though, having power, he might easily and safety do
it. 2. The comfort of a good king: His throne is established by
righteousness. He that makes conscience of using his power
aright shall find that to be the best security of his government,
both as it will oblige people, make them easy, and keep them in the
interest of it, and as it will obtain the blessing of God, which
will be a firm basis to the throne and a strong guard about it.
13 Righteous lips are the delight of
kings; and they love him that speaketh right.
Here is a further character of good kings,
that they love and delight in those that speak
right. 1. They hate parasites and those that flatter them, and
are very willing that all about them should deal faithfully with
them and tell them that which is true, whether it be pleasing or
displeasing, both concerning persons and things, that every thing
should be set in a true light and nothing disguised, ch. xxix. 12. 2. They not only
do righteousness themselves, but take care to employ those under
them that do righteousness too, which is of great consequence to
the people, who must be subject not only to the king as supreme,
but to the governors sent by him, 1
Pet. ii. 14. A good king will therefore put those in
power who are conscientious, and will say that which is righteous
and discreet, and know how to speak aright and to the purpose.
14 The wrath of a king is as messengers
of death: but a wise man will pacify it. 15 In the light of
the king's countenance is life; and his favour is as
a cloud of the latter rain.
These two verses show the power of kings,
which is every where great, but was especially so in those eastern
countries, where they were absolute and arbitrary. Whom they would
they slew and whom they would they kept alive. Their will was a
law. We have reason to bless God for the happy constitution of the
government we live under, which maintains the prerogative of the
prince without any injury to the liberty of the subject. But here
it is intimated, 1. How formidable the wrath of a king is:
It is as messengers of death; the wrath of Ahasuerus was so
to Haman. An angry word from an incensed prince has been to many a
messenger of death, and has struck so great a terror upon
some as if a sentence of death had been pronounced upon them. He
must be a very wise man that knows how to pacify the
wrath of a king with a word fitly spoken, as Jonathan once pacified
his father's rage against David, 1
Sam. xix. 6. A prudent subject may sometimes suggest
that to an angry prince which will cool his resentments. 2. How
valuable and desirable the king's favour is to those that have
incurred his displeasure; it is life from the dead if the king be
reconciled to them. To others it is as a cloud of the latter
rain, very refreshing to the ground. Solomon put his subjects
in mind of this, that they might not do any thing to incur his
wrath, but be careful to recommend themselves to his favour. We
ought by it to be put in mind how much we are concerned to escape
the wrath and obtain the favour of the King of kings. His frowns
are worse than death, and his favour is better than life; and
therefore those are fools who to escape the wrath, and obtain the
favour, of an earthly prince, will throw themselves out of God's
favour, and make themselves obnoxious to his wrath.
16 How much better is it to get wisdom
than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than
Solomon here not only asserts that it is
better to get wisdom than gold (ch. iii. 14, viii. 19), but he
speaks it with assurance, that it is much better, better beyond
expression—with admiration (How much better!) as one amazed
at the disproportion—with an appeal to men's consciences ("Judge
in yourselves how much better it is" )—and with an addition to the
same purport, that understanding is rather to be chosen than
silver and all the treasures of kings and their favourites.
Note, 1. Heavenly wisdom is better than worldly wealth, and to be
preferred before it. Grace is more valuable than gold. Grace is the
gift of God's peculiar favour; gold only of common providence.
Grace is for ourselves; gold for others. Grace is for the soul and
eternity; gold only for the body and time. Grace will stand us in
stead in a dying hour, when gold will do us no good. 2. The getting
of this heavenly wisdom is better than the getting of worldly
wealth. Many take care and pains to get wealth, and yet come short
of it; but grace was never denied to any that sincerely sought it.
There is vanity and vexation of spirit in getting wealth, but joy
and satisfaction of spirit in getting wisdom. Great peace have
those that love it.
17 The highway of the upright is to
depart from evil: he that keepeth his way preserveth his soul.
Note, 1. It is the way of the
upright to avoid sin, and every thing that looks like it and
leads towards it; and this is a highway marked out by authority,
tracked by many that have gone before us, and in which we meet with
many that keep company with us; it is easy to find and safe to be
travelled in, like a highway, Isa.
xxxv. 8. To depart from evil is understanding. 2.
It is the care of the upright to preserve their own souls, that
they be not polluted with sin, and that by the troubles of the
world they may not be put out of the possession of them, especially
that they may not perish for ever, Matt. xvi. 26. And it is therefore their care
to keep their way, and not turn aside out of it, on either hand,
but to press towards perfection. Those that adhere to their duty
secure their felicity. Keep thy way and God will keep thee.
18 Pride goeth before destruction, and an
haughty spirit before a fall.
Note, 1. Pride will have a fall. Those that
are of a haughty spirit, that think of themselves above what
is meet, and look with contempt upon others, that with their pride
affront God and disquiet others, will be brought down, either by
repentance or by ruin. It is the honour of God to humble the proud,
Job xl. 11, 12. It is
the act of justice that those who have lifted up themselves should
be laid low. Pharaoh, Sennacherib, Nebuchadnezzar, were instances
of this. Men cannot punish pride, but either admire it or fear it,
and therefore God will take the punishing of it into his own hands.
Let him alone to deal with proud men. 2. Proud men are frequently
most proud, and insolent, and haughty, just before their
destruction, so that it is a certain presage that they are upon the
brink of it. When proud men set God's judgments at defiance, and
think themselves at the greatest distance from them, it is a sign
that they are at the door; witness the case of Benhadad and Herod.
While the word was in the king's mouth, Dan. iv. 31. Therefore let us not fear the
pride of others, but greatly fear pride in ourselves.
19 Better it is to be of an humble spirit
with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.
This is a paradox which the children of
this world cannot understand and will not subscribe to, that it is
better to be poor and humble than to be rich and proud. 1. Those
that divide the spoil are commonly proud; they value
themselves and despise others, and their mind rises with their
condition; those therefore that are rich in this world have
need to be charged that they be not high-minded, 1 Tim. vi. 17. Those that are proud
and will put forth themselves, that thrust, and shove, and
scramble, for preferment, are the men that commonly divide the
spoil and share it among them; they have the world at will and
the ball at their foot. 2. It is upon all accounts better to take
our lot with those whose condition is low, and their minds brought
to it, than to covet and aim to make a figure and a bustle in the
world. Humility, though it should expose us to contempt in the
world, yet while it recommends us to the favour of God, qualifies
us for his gracious visits, prepares us for his glory, secures us
from many temptations, and preserves the quiet and repose of our
own souls, is much better than that high-spiritedness which, though
it carry away the honour and wealth of the world, makes God a man's
enemy and the devil his master.
20 He that handleth a matter wisely shall find
good: and whoso trusteth in the Lord, happy is he.
Note, 1. Prudence gains men respect and
success: He that handles a matter wisely (that is master of
his trade and makes it to appear he understands what he undertakes,
that is considerate in his affairs, and, when he speaks or writes
on any subject, does it pertinently) shall find good, shall
come into good repute, and perhaps may make a good hand of it. 2.
But it is piety only that will secure men's true happiness: Those
that handle a matter wisely, if they are proud and lean to
their own understanding, though they may find some good, yet they
will have no great satisfaction in it; but he that trusts in the
Lord, and not in his own wisdom, happy is he, and shall
speed better at last. Some read the former part of the verse so as
to expound it of piety, which is indeed true wisdom: He that
attends to the word (the word of God, ch. xiii. 13) shall find good
in it and good by it. And whoso trusts in the Lord, in his
word which he attends to, is happy.
21 The wise in heart shall be called prudent:
and the sweetness of the lips increaseth learning.
Note, 1. Those that have solid wisdom will
have the credit of it; it will gain them reputation, and they
shall be called prudent grave men, and a deference will be
paid to their judgment. Do that which is wise and good and thou
shalt have the praise of the same. 2. Those that with their
wisdom have a happy elocution, that deliver their sentiments easily
and with a good grace, are communicative of their wisdom and have
words at will, and good language as well as good sense, increase
learning; they diffuse and propagate knowledge to others, and
do good work with it, and by that means increase their own stock.
They add doctrine, improve sciences, and do service to the
commonwealth of learning. To him that has, and uses what he
has, more shall be given.
22 Understanding is a wellspring of life
unto him that hath it: but the instruction of fools is
Note, 1. There is always some good to be
gotten by a wise and good man: His understanding is a
well-spring of life to him, which always flows and can never be
drawn dry; he has something to say upon all occasions that is
instructive, and of use to those that will make use of it, things
new and old to bring out of his treasure; at least, his
understanding is a spring of life to himself, yielding him
abundant satisfaction; within his own thoughts he entertains and
edifies himself, if not others. 2. There is nothing that is good to
be gotten by a fool. Even his instruction, his set and solemn
discourses, are but folly, like himself, and tending to make others
like him. When he does his best it is but folly, in comparison even
with the common talk of a wise man, who speaks better at table than
a fool in Moses's seat.
23 The heart of the wise teacheth his mouth, and
addeth learning to his lips.
Solomon had commended eloquence, or the
sweetness of the lips (v.
21), and seemed to prefer it before wisdom; but here he
corrects himself, as it were, and shows that unless there be a good
treasure within to support the eloquence it is worth little. Wisdom
in the heart is the main matter. 1. It is this that directs
us in speaking, that teaches the mouth what to speak, and
when, and how, so that what is spoken may be proper, and pertinent,
and seasonable; otherwise, though the language be ever so fine, it
had better be unsaid. 2. It is this that gives weight to what we
speak and adds learning to it, strength of reason and force
of argument, without which, let a thing be ever so well worded, it
will be rejected, when it comes to be considered, as trifling.
Quaint expressions please the ear, and humour the fancy, but it is
learning in the lips that must convince the judgment, and sway
that, to which wisdom in the heart is necessary.
24 Pleasant words are as an honeycomb,
sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.
The pleasant words here commended
must be those which the heart of the wise teaches, and adds
learning to (v.
23), words of seasonable advice, instruction, and
comfort, words taken from God's word, for that is it which Solomon
had learned from his father to account sweeter than honey and
the honey-comb, Ps. xix.
10. These words, to those that know how to relish them,
1. Are pleasant. They are like the honey-comb, sweet to the
soul, which tastes in them that the Lord is gracious;
nothing more grateful and agreeable to the new man than the word of
God, and those words which are borrowed from it, Ps. cxix. 103. 2. They are wholesome. Many
things are pleasant that are not profitable, but these pleasant
words are health to the bones, to the inward man, as well as
sweet to the soul. They make the bones, which sin has
broken and put out of joint, to rejoice. The bones are the
strength of the body; and the good word of God is a means of
spiritual strength, curing the diseases that weaken us.
25 There is a way that seemeth right unto a man,
but the end thereof are the ways of death.
This we had before (ch. xiv. 12), but here it is repeated,
as that which is very necessary to be thought of, 1. By way of
caution to us all to take heed of deceiving ourselves in the great
concerns of our souls by resting in that which seems right
and is not really so, and, for the preventing of a self-delusion,
to be impartial in self-examination and keep up a jealousy over
ourselves. 2. By way of terror to those whose way is not right, is
not as it should be, however it may seem to themselves or others;
the end of it will certainly be death; to that it has a direct and
26 He that laboureth laboureth for himself; for
his mouth craveth it of him.
This is designed to engage us to diligence,
and quicken us, what our hand finds to do, to do it with all our
might, both in our worldly business and in the work of
religion; for in the original it is, The soul that labours
labours for itself. It is heart-work which is here intended,
the labour of the soul, which is here recommended to us, 1. As that
which will be absolutely needful. Our mouth is continually craving
it of us; the necessities both of soul and body are pressing, and
require constant relief, so that we must either work or starve.
Both call for daily bread, and therefore there must be daily
labour; for in the sweat of our face we must eat, 2 Thess. iii. 10. 2. As that which
will be unspeakably gainful. We know on whose errand we go: He
that labours shall reap the fruit of his labour; it shall be
for himself; he shall rejoice in his own work and eat the
labour of his hands. If we make religion our business, God will
make it our blessedness.
27 An ungodly man diggeth up evil: and in his
lips there is as a burning fire. 28 A froward man
soweth strife: and a whisperer separateth chief friends.
There are those that are not only vicious
themselves, but spiteful and mischievous to others, and they are
the worst of men; two sorts of such are here described:—1. Such
as envy a man the honour of his good name, and do all they can to
blast that by calumnies and misrepresentations: They dig up
evil; they take a great deal of pains to find out something or
other on which to ground a slander, or which may give some colour
to it. If none appear above ground, rather than want it they will
dig for it, by diving into what is secret, or looking a great way
back, or by evil suspicions and surmises, and forced innuendos. In
the lips of a slanderer and backbiter there is as a fire,
not only to brand his neighbour's reputation, to smoke and sully
it, but as a burning fire to consume it. And how great a
matter does a little of this fire kindle, and how hardly is it
extinguished! James iii. 5,
6. 2. Such as envy a man the comfort of his friendship,
and do all they can to break that, by suggesting that on both sides
which will set those at variance that are most nearly related and
have been long intimate, or at least cool and alienate their
affections one from another: A froward man, that cannot find
in his heart to love any body but himself, is vexed to see others
live in love, and therefore makes it is his business to sow
strife, by giving men base characters one of another, telling
lies, and carrying ill-natured stories between chief
friends, so as to separate them one from another, and
make them angry at or at least suspicious of one another. Those are
bad men, and bad women too, that do such ill offices; they are
doing the devil's work, and his will their wages be.
29 A violent man enticeth his neighbour, and
leadeth him into the way that is not good. 30 He
shutteth his eyes to devise froward things: moving his lips he
bringeth evil to pass.
Here is another sort of evil men described
to us, that we may neither do like them, nor have any thing to do
with them. 1. Such as (like Satan) do all the mischief they can by
force and violence, as roaring lions, and not only by fraud and
insinuation, as subtle serpents: They are violent men, that
do all by rapine and oppression, that shut their eyes,
meditating with the closest intention and application of mind to
devise froward things, to contrive how they may do the greatest
mischief to their neighbour, to do it effectually and yet securely
to themselves; and then moving their lips, giving the word
of command to their agents, they bring the evil to pass, and
accomplish the wicked device, biting his lips (so some read
it) for vexation. When the wicked plots against the just he
gnasheth upon him with his teeth. 2. Such as (like Satan
still) do all they can to entice and draw in others to join
with them in doing mischief, leading them in a way that is not
good, that is not honest, nor honourable, nor safe, but
offensive to God, and which will be in the end pernicious to the
sinner. Thus he aims to ruin some in this world by bringing them
into trouble, and others in the other world by bringing them into
31 The hoary head is a crown of glory,
if it be found in the way of righteousness.
Note, 1. It ought to be the great care of
old people to be found in the way of righteousness, the way
of religion and serious godliness. Both God and man will look for
them in that way; it will be expected that those that are old
should be good, that the multitude of their years should teach them
the best wisdom; let them therefore be found in that way. Death
will come; the Judge is coming; the Lord is at hand. That
they may be found of him in peace, let them be found in
the way of righteousness (2 Pet.
iii. 14), found so doing, Matt. xxiv. 46. Let old people be old
disciples; let them persevere to the end in the way of
righteousness, which they long since set out in, that they may
then be found in it. 2. If old people be found in the way of
righteousness, their age will be their honour. Old age, as
such, is honourable, and commands respect (Thou shalt rise up
before the hoary head, Lev. xix.
32); but, if it be found in the way of wickedness, its
honour is forfeited, its crown profaned and laid in the dust,
Isa. lxv. 20. Old people
therefore, if they would preserve their honour, must still hold
fast their integrity, and then their gray hairs are indeed a
crown to them; they are worthy of double honour. Grace
is the glory of old age.
32 He that is slow to anger is
better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that
taketh a city.
This recommends the grace of meekness to
us, which will well become us all, particularly the hoary
head, v. 31.
Observe, 1. The nature of it. It is to be slow to anger, not
easily put into a passion, nor apt to resent provocation, taking
time to consider before we suffer our passion to break out, that it
may not transgress due bounds, so slow in our motions towards anger
that we may be quickly stopped and pacified. It is to have the rule
of our own spirits, our appetites and affections, and all our
inclinations, but particularly our passions, our anger, keeping
that under direction and check, and the strict government of
religion and right reason. We must be lords of our anger, as
God is, Nah. i. 3. Æolus
sis, affectuum tuorum—Rule your passions, as Æolus rules the
winds. 2. The honour of it. He that gets and keeps the mastery
of his passions is better than the mighty, better than he
that by a long siege takes a city or by a long war
subdues a country. Behold, a greater than Alexander or Cæsar is
here. The conquest of ourselves, and our own unruly passions,
requires more true wisdom, and a more steady, constant, and regular
management, than the obtaining of a victory over the forces of an
enemy. A rational conquest is more honourable to a rational
creature than a brutal one. It is a victory that does nobody any
harm; no lives or treasures are sacrificed to it, but only some
base lusts. It is harder, and therefore more glorious, to quash an
insurrection at home than to resist an invasion from a broad; nay,
such are the gains of meekness that by it we are more than
33 The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole
disposing thereof is of the Lord.
Note, 1. The divine Providence orders and
directs those things which to us are perfectly casual and
fortuitous. Nothing comes to pass by chance, nor is an event
determined by a blind fortune, but every thing by the will and
counsel of God. What man has neither eye nor hand in God is
intimately concerned in. 2. When solemn appeals are made to
Providence by the casting of lots, for the deciding of that matter
of moment which could not otherwise be at all, or not so well,
decided, God must be eyed in it, by prayer, that it may be disposed
aright (Give a perfect lot, 1 Sam. xiv. 41; Acts i. 24), and by
acquiescing in it when it is disposed, being satisfied that the
hand of God is in it and that hand directed by infinite wisdom. All
the disposals of Providence concerning our affairs we must look
upon to be the directing of our lot, the determining of what we
referred to God, and must be reconciled to them accordingly.