Bible Commentaries

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

Proverbs 21

Verse 1

The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.

There can be no question but that all hearts, and all the ways of men are, like the current of waters, subject to divine direction; and they that are made kings and priests to God and the Father, find sweet comfort in the conviction of this undoubted truth. Even Jesus in his human nature had all the blessedness of this promise of the Father. From the union of the human nature with his Godhead, his holiness, and purity of the manhood was altogether preserved; but he needed, and therefore had, all that communication from the Father which might fit him, strengthen him, and carry him through the work which the Father gave him to do. Hence we read, that God gave not the Spirit by Measure unto him. John 3:34. And hence also we read, that he was anointed with the oil of gladness above his fellows. Psalms 45:7. So that Jesus King Mediator was directed, fitted for his work, assisted in it, and carried through it by God the Father. See Isaiah 42:1-4; Psalms 22:9-11. And observe what is said of him at the close of all his labours. Psalms 21:1-7

Verses 2-8

Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts. To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice. An high look, and a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked, is sin. The thoughts of the diligent tend only to plenteousness; but of everyone that is hasty only to want. The getting of treasures by a lying tongue is a vanity tossed to and fro of them that seek death. The robbery of the wicked shall destroy them; because they refuse to do judgment. The way of man is froward and strange: but as for the pure, his work is right.

Solomon hath set forth in these verses the striking contrast, between the possession and exercise of the graces of the Spirit, and the fruits and effects of the works of the flesh. I do not think it necessary to offer any comment upon either, under the teaching of the Holy Ghost their different origin, issue, and termination will be abundantly plain. The apostle Paul hath given also a striking view of both, in one and the same scripture. Galatians 5:19-24.

Verses 9-19

It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house. The soul of the wicked desireth evil: his neighbour findeth no favour in his eyes. When the scorner is punished, the simple is made wise: and when the wise is instructed, he receiveth knowledge. The righteous man wisely considereth the house of the wicked: but God overthroweth the wicked for their wickedness. Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard. A gift in secret pacifieth anger: and a reward in the bosom strong wrath. It is joy to the just to do judgment: but destruction shall be to the workers of iniquity. The man that wandereth out of the way of understanding shall remain in the congregation of the dead. He that loveth pleasure shall be a poor man: he that loveth wine and oil shall not be rich. The wicked shall be a ransom for the righteous, and the transgressor for the upright. It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman.

The first and last of these verses are to the same effect. They both express the dreadful state of a sinful unregenerate heart, which pours forth evil, and that continually. Alas! what cause have we in the view of such things, to lament over a sinful, fallen, nature. Precious Jesus! what, but for thy great undertaking in the redemption of that nature, and the regeneration of the heart, could have saved from the wrath to come? James 3:14-16. And what a beautiful contrast follows in James 3:17-18!

Verse 20

There is treasure to be desired and oil in the dwelling of the wise; but a foolish man spendeth it up.

What treasure is this, but that which is derived from him, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Colossians 2:3. And how doth the foolish spend it up? Surely, when despising his great salvation and rejecting this counsel of God against their own Souls.

Verse 21-22

He that followeth after righteousness and mercy findeth life, righteousness, and honour. A wise man scaleth the city of the mighty, and casteth down the strength of the confidence thereof.

Are not these things marked in opposition to what was said of the foolish man which went before? Surely that man is wise who followeth after Jesus, who is the righteousness of his people, and the mercy promised. And is not such a pursuit like scaling all the walls of opposition, that stand in the way of attainment? In confirmation, read those scriptures where Christ is said to be the salvation of Jehovah, and from Whom alone righteousness is found. Isaiah 49:6. and again Isaiah 54:17. And Christ is the very mercy promised. Luke 1:72.

Verses 23-31

Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles. Proud and haughty scorner is his name, who dealeth in proud wrath. The desire of the slothful killeth him; for his hands refuse to labour. He coveteth greedily all the day long: but the righteous giveth and spareth not. The sacrifice of the wicked is abomination: how much more, when he bringeth it with a wicked mind? A false witness shall perish: but the man that heareth speaketh constantly. A wicked man hardeneth his face: but as for the upright, he directeth his way. There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the LORD. The horse is prepared against the day of battle: but safety is of the LORD.

I include the whole under one view that the Reader may form his own conclusions under the Spirit's guidings, and which I am persuaded will correspond to the sentiment the wise man closeth the chapter with. Whatever are our plans or our devices, the counsel of the Lord standeth sure. All our attainments are but as the strength of horses in battle; there can be no safety but in Jesus. If he be our portion all is well. If Christ be for us, who can be against us? But if void of him, he can make even our very comforts minister to our destruction. Reader! pray take in with these scriptures that blessed portion of the apostle's, as a divine confirmation of the whole; Romans 8:31 to the end.

Verse 31

REFLECTI0NS

Reader! amidst the mingled view this Chapter affords of grace and corruption, in all their opposite effects and consequences, as well as their origin and termination, oh! that God the Holy Ghost may be our teacher, to give us a right understanding in all things. If the heart of man be subject to divine direction, and man of himself cannot guide his steps aright; can there be any argument wanting to induce the soul to look unto him, with whom are the issues of life, and who turneth the heart like rivers of waters whithersoever he pleaseth?

Reader! look closely to what this chapter relates of the unawakened and ungodly. They are uncircumcised in heart and ears. How prone to all evil, how averse to all good; they are in drudgery to sin and Satan, and are led captive by him at his will. Oh! that the prey may be taken from the mighty; and the lawful captive delivered.

Look at the souls of the regenerate, and those of whom Jesus hath opened the eyes, and brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death. Their delight is in the law of the Lord, and in that law do they exercise themselves day and night.. They have God for their Father, Christ for their portion, and the Holy Ghost for their teacher and guide. Lord, help both Writer and Reader, to be thus blessed, thus led, and thus made happy! May we be conducted on from strength to strength until that we appear before our God in Zion.

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Bibliographical Information
Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Proverbs 21 Overview". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/pmc/proverbs-21.html. 1828.