A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches,
and loving favour rather than silver and gold.
Here are two things which are more valuable and which we should covet
more than great riches:--
1. To be well spoken of: A name (that is, a good name, a
name for good things with God and good people) is rather to be
chosen than great riches; that is, we should be more careful to do
that by which we may get and keep a good name than that by which we may
raise and increase a great estate. Great riches bring great cares with
them, expose men to danger, and add no real value to a man. A fool and
a knave may have great riches, but a good name makes a
man easy and safe, supposes a man wise and honest, redounds to the
glory of God, and gives a man a greater opportunity of doing good. By
great riches we may relieve the bodily wants of others, but by a good
name we may recommend religion to them.
2. To be well beloved, to have an interest in the esteem and affections
of all about us; this is better than silver and gold. Christ has
neither silver nor gold, but he grew in favour with God and man,
This should teach us to look with a holy contempt upon the wealth of
this world, not to set our hearts upon that, but with all possible care
to think of those things that are lovely and of good report,
2 The rich and poor meet together: the LORD is the maker of
1. Among the children of men divine Providence has so ordered it that
some are rich and others poor, and these are intermixed
in societies: The Lord is the Maker of both, both the author of
their being and the disposer of their lot. The greatest man in the
world must acknowledge God to be his Maker, and is under the same
obligations to be subject to him that the meanest is; and the poorest
has the honour to be the work of God's hands as much as the greatest.
Have they not all one Father?
God makes some rich, that they may be charitable to the poor, and
others poor, that they may be serviceable to the rich; and they have
need of one another,
1 Corinthians 12:21.
He make some poor, to exercise their patience, and contentment, and
dependence upon God, and others rich, to exercise their thankfulness
and beneficence. Even the poor we have always with us;
they shall never cease out of the land, nor the rich neither.
2. Notwithstanding the distance that is in many respects between
rich and poor, yet in most things they meet together,
especially before the Lord, who is the Maker of them all,
and regards not the rich more than the poor,
Rich and poor meet together at the bar of God's justice, all
guilty before God, concluded under sin, and shapen in iniquity, the
rich as much as the poor; and they meet at the throne of God's grace;
the poor are as welcome there as the rich. There is the same Christ,
the same scripture, the same Spirit, the same covenant of promises, for
them both. There is the same heaven for poor saints that there is for
rich: Lazarus is in the bosom of Abraham. And there is the same hell
for rich sinners that there is for poor. All stand upon the same level
before God, as they do also in the grave. The small and great are
3 A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but
the simple pass on, and are punished.
1. The benefit of wisdom and consideration: A prudent man, by
the help of his prudence, will foresee an evil, before it comes,
and hide himself; he will be aware when he is entering into a
temptation and will put on his armour and stand on his guard. When the
clouds are gathering for a storm he takes the warning, and flies to the
name of the Lord as his strong tower. Noah foresaw the deluge, Joseph
the years of famine, and provided accordingly.
2. The mischief of rashness and inconsideration. The simple, who
believe every word that flatters them, will believe none that warns
them, and so they pass on and are punished. They venture upon
sin, though they are told what will be in the end thereof; they throw
themselves into trouble, notwithstanding the fair warning given them,
and they repent their presumption when it is too late. See an instance
of both these,
Nothing is so fatal to precious souls as this, they will not take
4 By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, and
honour, and life.
1. Wherein religion does very much consist--in humility and the fear
of the Lord; that is, walking humbly with God. We must so reverence
God's majesty and authority as to submit with all humility to the
commands of his word and the disposals of his providence. We must have
such low thoughts of ourselves as to behave humbly towards God and man.
Where the fear of God is there will be humility.
2. What is to be gotten by it--riches, and honour, and comfort,
and long life, in this world, as far as God sees good, at least
spiritual riches and honour in the favour of God, and the
promises and privileges of the covenant of grace, and eternal
life at last.
5 Thorns and snares are in the way of the froward: he that
doth keep his soul shall be far from them.
1. The way of sin is vexatious and dangerous: In the way of the
froward, that crooked way, which is contrary to the will and word
of God, thorns and snares are found, thorns of grief for past
sins and snares entangling them in further sin. He that makes no
conscience of what he says and does will find himself hampered by that
imaginary liberty, and tormented by his pleasures. Froward people, who
are soon angry, expose themselves to trouble at every step. Every thing
will fret and vex him that will fret and vex at every thing.
2. The way of duty is safe and easy: He that keeps his soul,
that watches carefully over his own heart and ways, is far from
those thorns and snares, for his way is both plain and
6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old,
he will not depart from it.
1. A great duty enjoined, particularly to those that are the parents
and instructors of children, in order to the propagating of wisdom,
that it may not die with them: Train up children in that age of
vanity, to keep them from the sins and snares of it, in that learning
age, to prepare them for what they are designed for. Catechise
them; initiate them; keep them under discipline. Train them as
soldiers, who are taught to handle their arms, keep rank, and observe
the word of command. Train them up, not in the way they would go
(the bias of their corrupt hearts would draw them aside), but in the
way they should go, the way in which, if you love them, you would
have them go. Train up a child according as he is capable (as
some take it), with a gentle hand, as nurses feed children, little and
2. A good reason for it, taken from the great advantage of this care
and pains with children: When they grow up, when they grow
old, it is to be hoped, they will not depart from it. Good
impressions made upon them then will abide upon them all their days.
Ordinarily the vessel retains the savour with which it was first
seasoned. Many indeed have departed from the good way in which they
were trained up; Solomon himself did so. But early training may be a
means of their recovering themselves, as it is supposed Solomon did. At
least the parents will have the comfort of having done their duty and
used the means.
7 The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant
to the lender.
He had said
Rich and poor meet together; but here he finds, here he shows,
that, as to the things of this life, there is a great difference; for,
1. Those that have little will be in subjection to those that have
much, because they have dependence upon them, they have received, and
expect to receive, support from them: The rich rule over the
poor, and too often more than becomes them, with pride and rigour,
unlike to God, who, though he be great, yet despises not any. It is
part of the affliction of the poor that they must expect to be trampled
upon, and part of their duty to be serviceable, as far as they can, to
those that are kind to them, and study to be grateful.
2. Those that are but going behindhand find themselves to lie much at
the mercy of those that are before hand: The borrower is servant to
the lender, is obliged to him, and must sometimes beg, Have
patience with me. Therefore it is part of Israel's promised
happiness that they should lend and borrow,
And it should be our endeavour to keep as much as may be out of debt.
Some sell their liberty to gratify their luxury.
8 He that soweth iniquity shall reap vanity: and the rod of his
anger shall fail.
1. Ill-gotten gains will not prosper: He that sows iniquity,
that does an unjust thing in hopes to get by it, shall reap
vanity; what he gets will never do him any good nor give him any
satisfaction. He will meet nothing but disappointment. Those that
create trouble to others do but prepare trouble for themselves. Men
shall reap as they sow.
2. Abused power will not last. If the rod of authority turn into a
rod of anger, if men rule by passion instead of prudence, and,
instead of the public welfare, aim at nothing so much as the gratifying
of their own resentments, it shall fail and be broken, and their
power shall not bear them out in their exorbitances,
9 He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed; for he giveth
of his bread to the poor.
1. The description of a charitable man; he has a bountiful eye,
opposed to the evil eye
and the same with the single eye
an eye that seeks out objects of charity, besides those that offer
themselves,--an eye that, upon the sight of one in want and misery,
affects the heart with compassion,--an eye that with the alms gives a
pleasant look, which makes the alms doubly acceptable. He has also a
liberal hand: He gives of his bread to those that need--his
bread, the bread appointed for his own eating. He will rather
abridge himself than see the poor perish for want; yet he does not give
all his bread, but of his bread; the poor shall have
their share with his own family.
2. The blessedness of such a man. The loins of the poor will bless
them, all about him will speak well of him, and God himself will bless
him, in answer to many a good prayer put up for him, and he shall be
10 Cast out the scorner, and contention shall go out; yea,
strife and reproach shall cease.
1. What the scorner does. It is implied that he sows discord and
makes mischief wherever he comes. Much of the strife and
contention which disturb the peace of all societies is owing to
the evil interpreter (as some read it), that construes every
thing into the worst, to those that despise and deride every one that
comes in their way and take a pride in bantering and abusing all
2. What is to be done with the scorner that will not be reclaimed:
Cast him out of your society, as Ishmael, when he mocked
Isaac, was thrust out of Abraham's family. Those that would secure the
peace must exclude the scorner.
11 He that loveth pureness of heart, for the grace of his
lips the king shall be his friend.
1. The qualification of an accomplished, a complete gentleman, that is
fit to be employed in public business. He must be an honest man, a man
that loves pureness of heart and hates all impurity, not only
pure from all fleshly lusts, but from all deceit and dissimulation,
from all selfishness and sinister designs, that takes care to approve
himself a man of sincerity, is just and fair from principle, and
delights in nothing more than in keeping his own conscience clean and
void of offence. He must also be able to speak with a good grace, not
to daub and flatter, but to deliver his sentiments decently and
ingeniously, in language clean and smooth as his spirit.
2. The preferment such a man stands fair for: The king, if he be
wise and good, and understand his own and his people's interest,
will be his friend, will make him of his cabinet-council, as
there was one in David's court, and another in Solomon's, that was
called the king's friend; or, in any business that he has, the
king will befriend him. Some understand it of the King of kings. A man
in whose spirit there is no guile, and whose speech is always
with grace, God will be his friend, Messiah, the Prince, will be his
friend. This honour have all the saints.
12 The eyes of the LORD preserve knowledge, and he overthroweth
the words of the transgressor.
1. The special care God takes to preserve knowledge, that is, to
keep up religion in the world by keeping up among men the knowledge of
himself and of good and evil, notwithstanding the corruption of
mankind, and the artifices of Satan to blind men's minds and keep them
in ignorance. It is a wonderful instance of the power and goodness of
the eyes of the Lord, that is, his watchful providence. He
preserves men of knowledge, wise and good men
(2 Chronicles 16:9),
particularly faithful witnesses, who speak what they know; God protects
such, and prospers their counsels. He does by his grace preserve
knowledge in such, secures his own work and interest in them. See
2. The just vengeance God takes on those that speak and act against
knowledge and against the interests of knowledge and religion in the
world: He overthrows the words of the transgressor, and
preserves knowledge in spite of him. He defeats all the counsels
and designs of false and treacherous men, and turns them to their own
13 The slothful man saith, There is a lion without, I shall
be slain in the streets.
1. Those that have no love for their business will never want excuses
to shake it off. Multitudes are ruined, both for soul and body, by
their slothfulness, and yet still they have something or other to say
for themselves, so ingenious are men in putting a cheat upon their own
souls. And who, I pray, will be the gainer at last, when the pretences
will be all rejected as vain and frivolous?
2. Many frighten themselves from real duties by imaginary difficulties:
The slothful man has work to do without in the fields,
but he fancies there is a lion there; nay, he pretends he dares
not go along the streets for fear somebody or other should meet him and
kill him. He does not himself think so; he only says so to those that
call him up. He talks of a lion without, but considers not his
real danger from the devil, that roaring lion, which is in bed
with him, and from his own slothfulness, which kills him.
14 The mouth of strange women is a deep pit: he that is
abhorred of the LORD shall fall therein.
This is designed to warn all young men against the lusts of
uncleanness. As they regard the welfare of their souls, let them take
heed of strange women, lewd women, whom they ought to be strange
to, of the mouth of strange women, of the kisses of their lips
of the words of their lips, their charms and enticements. Dread them;
have nothing to do with them; for,
1. Those who abandon themselves to that sin give proof that they are
abandoned of God: it is a deep pit, which those fall into
that are abhorred of the Lord, who leaves them to themselves to
enter into that temptation, and takes off the bridle of his restraining
grace, to punish them for other sins. Value not thyself upon thy being
in favour with such women, when it proclaims thee under the wrath of
2. It is seldom that they recover themselves, for it is a deep
pit; it will be hard getting out of it, it so besots the mind and
debauches the conscience, by pleasing the flesh.
15 Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the
rod of correction shall drive it far from him.
We have here two very sad considerations:--
1. That corruption is woven into our nature. Sin is foolishness;
it is contrary both to our right reason and to our true interest. It
is in the heart; there is an inward inclination to sin, to speak
and act foolishly. It is in the heart of children; they bring it
into the world with them; it is what they were shapen and conceived in.
It is not only found there, but it is bound there; it is
annexed to the heart (so some); vicious dispositions cleave closely to
the soul, are bound to it as the cion to the stock into which it is
grafted, which quite alters the property. There is a knot tied between
the soul and sin, a true lover's knot; they two became one flesh. It is
true of ourselves, it is true of our children, whom we have begotten in
our own likeness. O God! thou knowest this foolishness.
2. That correction is necessary to the cure of it. It will not be got
out by fair means and gentle methods; there must be strictness and
severity, and that which will cause grief. Children need to be
corrected, and kept under discipline, by their parents; and we all need
to be corrected by our heavenly Father
and under the correction we must stroke down folly and kiss the
16 He that oppresseth the poor to increase his riches, and he
that giveth to the rich, shall surely come to want.
This shows what evil courses rich men sometimes take, by which, in the
end, they will impoverish themselves and provoke God, notwithstanding
their abundance, to bring them to want; they oppress the poor and
give to the rich.
1. They will not in charity relieve the poor, but withhold from them,
that by saving that which is really the best, but which they think the
most needless part of their expenses, they may increase their
riches; but they will make presents to the rich, and give
them great entertainments, either in pride and vain-glory, that they
may look great, or in policy, that they may receive it again with
advantage. Such shall surely come to want. Many have been
beggared by a foolish generosity, but never any by a prudent charity.
Christ bids us to invite the poor,
2. They not only will not relieve the poor, but they
oppress them, rob the spital, extort from their poor tenants and
neighbours, invade the rights of those who have not wherewithal to
defend themselves, and then give bribes to the rich, to
protect and countenance them in it. But it is all in vain; they
shall come to want. Those that rob God, and so make him the
enemy, cannot secure themselves by giving to the rich, to make
them their friends.
Serious Attention Inculcated.
17 Bow down thine ear, and hear the words of the wise, and
apply thine heart unto my knowledge.
18 For it is a pleasant thing if thou keep them within thee;
they shall withal be fitted in thy lips.
19 That thy trust may be in the LORD, I have made known to thee
this day, even to thee.
20 Have not I written to thee excellent things in counsels and
21 That I might make thee know the certainty of the words of
truth; that thou mightest answer the words of truth to them that
send unto thee?
Solomon here changes his style and manner of speaking. Hitherto, for
the most part, since the beginning of
he had laid down doctrinal truths, and but now and then dropped a word
of exhortation, leaving us to make the application as we went along;
but here, to the end of
he directs his speech to his son, his pupil, his reader, his hearer,
speaking as to a particular person. Hitherto, for the most part, his
sense was comprised in one verse, but here usually it is drawn out
further. See how Wisdom tries variety of methods with us, lest we
should be cloyed with any one. To awaken attention and to assist our
application the method of direct address is here adopted. Ministers
must not think it enough to preach before their hearers, but must
preach to them, nor enough to preach to them all in general, but should
address themselves to particular persons, as here: Do thou do so
and so. Here is,
I. An earnest exhortation to get wisdom and grace, by attending to
the words of the wise men, both written and preached, the words
of the prophets and priests, and particularly to that knowledge
which Solomon in this book gives men of good and evil, sin and duty,
rewards and punishments. To these words, to this
knowledge, the ear must be bowed down in humility and
serious attention and the heart applied by faith, and love, and
close consideration. The ear will not serve without the heart.
II. Arguments to enforce this exhortation. Consider,
1. The worth and weight of the things themselves which Solomon in this
book gives us the knowledge of. They are not trivial things, for
amusements and diversion, not jocular proverbs, to be repeated in sport
and in order to pass away time. No; they are excellent things,
which concern the glory of God, the holiness and happiness of our
souls, the welfare of mankind and all communities; they are princely
things (so the word is), fit for kings to speak and senates to
hear; they are things that concern counsels and knowledge, that
is, wise counsels, relating to the most important concerns; things
which will not only make us knowing ourselves, but enable us to advise
2. The clearness of the discovery of these things and the directing of
them to us in particular. "They are made known, publicly known,
that all may read,--plainly known, that he that runs may read,--made
known this day more fully than ever before, in this day of light
and knowledge,--made known in this thy day. But it is only a
little while that this light is with thee; perhaps the things that are
this day made known to thee, if thou improve not the day of thy
visitation, may, before to-morrow, be hidden from thy eyes. They
are written, for the greater certainty, and that they may be
received and the more safely transmitted pure and entire to posterity.
But that which the emphasis is here most laid upon is that they are
made known to thee, even to thee, and written to thee, as
if it were a letter directed to thee by name. It is suited to thee and
to thy case; thou mayest in this glass see thy own face; it is intended
for thee, to be a rule to thee, and by it thou must be judged." We
cannot say of these things, "They are good things, but they are nothing
to us;" no, they are of the greatest concern imaginable to us.
3. The agreeableness of these things to us, in respect both of comfort
(1.) If we hide them in our hearts, they will be very pleasing and
yield us an abundant satisfaction
"It is a pleasant thing, and will be thy constant entertainment,
if thou keep them within thee; if thou digest them, and be
actuated and governed by them, and delivered into them as into a
mould." The form of godliness, when that is rested in, is but a force
put upon a man, and he does but do penance in that white clothing;
those only that submit to the power of godliness, and make heart-work
of it, find the pleasure of it,
(2.) If we make use of them in our discourse, they will be very
becoming, and gain us a good reputation. They shall be fitted in thy
lips. "Speak of these things, and thou speakest like thyself, and
as is fit for thee to speak considering thy character; thou wilt also
have pleasure in speaking of these things as well as in thinking of
4. The advantage designed us by them. The excellent things which
God has written to us are not like the commands which the master
gives his servant, which are all intended for the benefit of the
master, but like those which the master gives his scholar, which are
all intended for the benefit of the scholar. These things must be kept
by us, for they are written to us,
(1.) That we may have a confidence in him and communion with him.
That thy trust may be in the Lord,
We cannot trust in God except in the way of duty; we are
therefore taught our duty, that we may have reason to trust in
God. Nay, this is itself one great duty we are to learn, and a duty
that is the foundation of all practical religion, to live a life of
delight in God and dependence on him.
(2.) That we may have a satisfaction in our own judgment: "That I
might make thee know the certainty of the words of truth; that thou
mayest know what is truth, mayest plainly distinguish between it and
falsehood, and mayest know upon what grounds thou receivest and
believest the truths of God." Note,
[1.] It is a desirable thing to know, not only the words of
truth, but the certainty of them, that our faith may be
intelligent and rational, and may grow up to a full assurance.
[2.] The way to know the certainty of the words of truth is to
make conscience of our duty; for, if any man do his will, he shall
know for certain that the doctrine is of God,
(3.) That we may be useful and serviceable to others for their
instruction: "That thou mayest give a good account of the
words of truth to those that send to thee to consult thee as an
oracle," or (as the margin reads it) "to those that send thee,
that employ thee as an agent or ambassador in any business." Knowledge
is given us to do good with, that others may light their candle at our
lamp, and that we may in our place serve our generation according to
the will of God; and those who make conscience of keeping God's
commandments will be best able to give a reason of the hope that is
Caution against Oppressing the Poor.
22 Rob not the poor, because he is poor: neither oppress the
afflicted in the gate:
23 For the LORD will plead their cause, and spoil the soul of
those that spoiled them.
After this solemn preface, one would have expected something new and
surprising; but no; here is a plain and common, but very needful
caution against the barbarous and inhuman practices of oppressing poor
I. The sin itself, and that is robbing the poor and making them
poorer, taking from those that have but little to lose and so leaving
them nothing. It is bad to rob any man, but most absurd to rob the
poor, whom we should relieve,--to squeeze those with our power whom we
should water with our bounty,--to oppress the afflicted, and so
to add affliction to them,--to give judgment against them, and so to
patronise those that do rob them, which is as bad as if we robbed them
ourselves. Rich men will not suffer themselves to be wronged; poor men
cannot help themselves, and therefore we ought to be the more careful
not to wrong them.
II. The aggravations of the sin.
1. If their inability, by reason of their poverty, to right themselves,
embolden us to rob them, it is so much the worse; this is robbing
the poor because he is poor; this is not only a base and cowardly
thing, to take advantage against a man because he is helpless, but it
is unnatural, and proves men worse than beasts.
2. Or, if it be done under the colour of law and justice, that is
oppressing the afflicted in the gate, where they ought to be
protected from wrong and to have justice done them against those that
III. The danger that attends this sin. He that robs and oppresses the
poor does it at his peril; for,
1. The oppressed will find God their powerful patron. He will plead
their cause, and not suffer them to be run down and trampled upon.
If men will not appear for them, God will.
2. The oppressors will find him a just avenger. He will make reprisals
upon them, will spoil the souls of those that spoil them; he
will repay them in spiritual judgments, in curses to their souls. He
that robs the poor will be found in the end a murderer of himself.
24 Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man
thou shalt not go:
25 Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul.
1. A good caution against being intimate with a passionate man. It is
the law of friendship that we accommodate ourselves to our friends and
be ready to serve them, and therefore we ought to be wise and wary in
the choice of a friend, that we come not under the sacred tie to any
one whom it would be our folly to accommodate ourselves to. Thought we
must be civil to all, yet we must be careful whom we lay in our bosoms
and contract a familiarity with. And, among others, a man who is easily
provoked, touchy, and apt to resent affronts, who, when he is in a
passion, cares not what he says or does, but grows outrageous, such a
one is not fit to be made a friend or companion, for he will be ever
and anon angry with us and that will be our trouble, and he will expect
that we should, like him, be angry with others, and that will be our
2. Good cause given for this caution: Lest thou learn his way.
Those we go with we are apt to grow like. Our corrupt hearts have so
much tinder in them that it is dangerous conversing with those that
throw about the sparks of their passion. We shall thereby get a
snare to our souls, for a disposition to anger is a great snare to
any man, and an occasion of much sin. He does not say, "Lest thou have
ill language given thee or get a broken head," but, which is must
worse, "Lest thou imitate him, to humour him, and so contract an ill
26 Be not thou one of them that strike hands, or of them
that are sureties for debts.
27 If thou hast nothing to pay, why should he take away thy bed
from under thee?
We have here, as often before, a caution against suretiship, as a thing
both imprudent and unjust.
1. We must not associate ourselves, nor contract an intimacy, with men
of broken fortunes, and reputations, who need and will urge their
friends to be bound for them, that they may cheat their neighbours to
feed their lusts, and by keeping up a little longer may do the more
damage at last to those that give them credit. Have nothing to do with
such; be not thou among them.
2. We must not cheat people of their money, by striking hands
ourselves, or becoming surety for others, when we have not to
pay. If a man by the divine providence is disabled to pay his
debts, he ought to be pitied and helped; but he that takes up money or
goods himself, or is bound for another, when he knows that he has not
wherewithal to pay, or that what he has is so settled that the
creditors cannot come at it, does in effect pick his neighbour's
pocket, and though, in all cases, compassion is to be used, yet he may
thank himself if the law have its course and his bed be taken
from under him, which might be taken for a pledge to secure a debt,
For, if a man appeared to be so poor that he had nothing else to give
for security, he ought to be relieved, and it was honestly done to own
it; but, for the recovery of a debt, it seems it might be taken by the
summum jus--the strict operation of law. 3. We must not
ruin our own estates and families. Every man ought to be just to
himself and to his wife and children; those are not so who live above
what they have, who by the mismanagement of their own affairs, or by
encumbering themselves with debts of others, waste what they have and
bring themselves to poverty. We may take joyfully the spoiling of
our goods if it be for the testimony of a good conscience; but, if
be for our own rashness and folly, we cannot but take it heavily.
28 Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set.
1. We are here taught not to invade another man's right, though we can
find ways of doing it ever so secretly and plausibly, clandestinely and
by fraud, without any open force. Let not property in general be
entrenched upon, by robbing men of their liberties and privileges, or
of any just ways of maintaining them. Let not the property of
particular persons be encroached upon. The land-marks, or meer-stones,
are standing witnesses to every man's right; let not those be removed
quite away, for thence come wars, and fightings, and endless disputes;
let them not be removed so as to take from thy neighbour's lot to thy
own, for that is downright robbing him and entailing the fraud upon
2. We may infer hence that a deference is to be paid, in all civil
matters, to usages that have prevailed time out of mind and the settled
constitutions of government, in which it becomes us to acquiesce, lest
an attempt to change it, under pretence of changing it for the better,
prove of dangerous consequence.
29 Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand
before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.
1. A plain intimation what a hard thing it is to find a truly ingenious
industrious man: "Seest thou a man diligent in his business?
Thou wilt not see many such, so epidemical are dulness and
slothfulness." He is here commended who lays out himself to get
business, though it be but in a very low and narrow sphere, and is not
easy when he is out of business, who loves business, is quick and
active in it, and goes through it, not only with constancy and
resolution, but with dexterity and expedition, a man of despatch, who
knows how to bring a deal of business into a little compass.
2. A moral prognostication of the preferment of such a man; though now
he stands before mean men, is employed by them and attends upon
them, yet he will rise, and is likely enough to stand before
kings, as an ambassador to foreign kings or prime-minister of state
to his own. Seest thou a man diligent in the business of
religion? He is likely to excel in virtue, and shall stand before the
King of kings.
Matthew Henry "Verse by Verse Commentary for 'Proverbs' Matthew Henry Bible Commentary".