Tag Archives: Matthew Henry

Lions and Bears

Proverbs 28:15

“As a roaring lion, and a ranging bear; so is a wicked ruler over the poor people.”
“A wicked ruler is as dangerous to the poor as a roaring lion or an attacking bear.” – NLT

Tyrants

Plenty of tyrants have no regard for their subjects. One only has to review the last one hundred years of history to come up with scores of individuals who preyed on the poor, helpless, defenseless masses; each one a mad, blood-thirsty animal.

“[They are] brutish, barbarous, and blood-thirsty; [they are] rather to be put among the beasts of prey, the wildest and most savage, than to be reckoned of that noble rank of beings whose glory is reason and humanity.”[1]

Lion

Lion (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

Even worse are the kind that convince their victims that the carnage being inflicted is supposedly for their own good. As self-proclaimed kings of the beasts, they claim it is their right to thin the herd, to remove the weak, so the strong can survive. But they are only hungry animals, void of compassion, fulfilling their natural desires.

Tyrant Topplers

To many it would seem like lions and bears are unstoppable. To be sure, those who value life run in fear from them, or at the very least give them what they want whenever they growl. But lions and bears are not invincible.

“And David said unto Saul, Thy servant kept his father’s sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock: And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him.” – 1 Samuel 17:34-35 KJV

Lest the tyrants become to smug and confident in their power, it would be wise of them to remember all it takes to topple them is nothing more than a little boy with a big God.


[1] Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994), 1018.

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The Sluggard Life

Proverbs 26:16 

“The sluggard is wiser in his own conceit than seven men that can render a reason.”
“The lazy man is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who can answer sensibly.” – NKJV
Self Perception

The idea here is that the sluggard….wait just a moment…what kind of mental image do you have this very second?

slugSluggard. Think about that word, sluggard. Not just lazy or slothful, but slimy, covered with mucous, moving slowly about the ground leaving shiny trails behind. Sluggard. A slug. A snail-like critter, but too poor for a shell.

The idea, here, is that the sluggard has a self perception problem. He is wiser in his own eyes than seven men, simply because he is the sluggard, not the ones working. The great Matthew Henry comments:

“His slothfulness is the cause of his good opinion of himself. If he would but take pains to examine himself, and compare himself with the laws of wisdom, he would have other thoughts of himself… So wretchedly besotted is he that he takes his slothfulness to be his wisdom; he thinks it is his wisdom to make much of himself, and take all the ease he can get… Of such sluggards, who are proud of that which is their shame, their is little hope.”*

Beyond Reason

So, is there hope for someone who sees laziness and living off of others as a virtue? Verse 12 says that there is more hope for a fool than one that is wise in his own eyes. How much worse, then, one wise in his own eyes that is also a bum? A sluggard?

The Fox News Channel did a story on how some people are scamming the American food stamp system (EBT). They attempted to show how assistance originally meant to aid those in real need was being taken advantage of by people refusing work. Fox News found a perfect example in a young surfer named Jason.

Jason, an unemployed surfer who mooched off of relatives and friends, determined that work was something he did not want to do. He admitted to being perfectly happy taking tax payers’ dollars each month to buy food. All he cared about was playing in a band, meeting cute girls, drinking, and most of all, surfing every day.

There was no reasoning with him. He had everything figured out.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE STORY AND WATCH THE VIDEO

Beyond Argument

But what does the Bible have to say?

“The desire of the slothful killeth him; for his hands refuse to labour.” – Proverbs 21:25

“For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”” – 2 Thessalonians 3:10 NIV

*Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994), 1014.


A Difficult Thought

Proverbs 26:10

“The great God that formed all things both rewardeth the fool, and rewardeth transgressors.”
“Like an archer who wounds everyone is one who hires a passing fool or drunkard.” – ESV

This proverb is a challenging one because of how many different ways it could be translated. As a matter of fact, practically every scholarly commentary admits the Hebrew in this proverb is difficult to interpret. That is why I am going to quote several of them before I leave my final thought for you.

Spence-Jones (The Pulpit Commentary)

Few passages have given greater difficulty than this verse; almost every word has been differently explained. The Authorized Version is, The great God that formed all things both rewardeth the fool, and rewardeth transgressors; Revised Version, As an archer (Job 16:13) that woundeth all, so is he that hireth the fool and he that hireth them that pass by. At first sight one would hardly suppose that these could be versions of the same passage. [1]

Garrett (The New American Commentary)

The Hebrew of v. 10 is almost unintelligible and thus subject to numerous interpretations, all of which are hypothetical. As the NIV has it, the verse reaffirms that one should not commit important tasks to fools (as in v. 6). Notwithstanding all the difficulties of the text, that does seem to be the main point.[2]

Friedrich and Delitzsch (Commentary on the Old Testament)

All that we have hitherto read is surpassed in obscurity by this proverb, which is here connected because of the resemblance of ושכר to שכור. We translate it thus, vocalizing differently only one word:

            Much bringeth forth from itself all; But the reward and the hirer of the fool pass away.[3]

Matthew Henry

Matthew Henry

Our translation [KJV] gives this verse a different reading in the text and in the margin; and accordingly it expresses either, 1. The equity of a good God. The Master, or Lord (so Rab signifies), or, as we read it, The great God that formed all things at first, and still governs them in infinite wisdom, renders to every man according to his work. … Or, 2. The iniquity of a bad prince (so the margin reads it): A great man grieves all, and he hires the fool; he hires also the transgressors. When a wicked man gets power in his hand, by himself, and by the fools and knaves whom he employs under him, whom he hires and chooses to make use of, he grieves all who are under him and is vexatious to them. We should therefore pray for kings and all in authority, that, under them, our lives may be quiet and peaceable.[4]

Anthony Baker (Proverbial Thought)

So, here is what I think. Feel free to quote me 200 years from now.

A man is a fool when he employs a fool to complete a task. However, the biggest fool is one who thinks God, the Almighty Archer, will miss the target when He holds the wicked accountable.

We are always under His watchful eye, but the fool is never out of His “sights.”


[1] H. D. M. Spence-Jones, ed., Proverbs, The Pulpit Commentary (London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1909), 500.

[2] Duane A. Garrett, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, vol. 14, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1993), 213.

[3] Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, vol. 6 (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1996), 387.

[4] Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994).


Nauseous Hosts

Proverbs 23:6-8

Eat thou not the bread of [him that hath] an evil eye, neither desire thou his dainty meats: For as he thinketh in his heart, so [is] he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart [is] not with thee. The morsel [which] thou hast eaten shalt thou vomit up, and lose thy sweet words.

Don’t eat with people who are stingy; don’t desire their delicacies. They are always thinking about how much it costs. “Eat and drink,” they say, but they don’t mean it. You will throw up what little you’ve eaten, and your compliments will be wasted. – NLT

Puzzling 

I have been struggling with this proverb. You must admit, it’s a little odd. I mean, what’s the deal with “dainty meats” and throwing up?

The best I can figure, the meaning of this proverbs is pretty simple once you get past the language. For one thing, don’t eat with a hypocrite. Secondly, if you do, you’ll regret anything nice you ever said.

It does seem a little strange, though. Why would someone feed you and say, “Go ahead, dear, eat all you want,” while at the same time regret you ever came to dinner?

Better to Eat Herbs

Solomon must have had an experience or two with people who wanted to entertain him with a meal. But evidently there were people who offered the best on the menu while wincing every time he took a nibble. Have you ever known anyone like that?

What makes a person sick after eating all the nice, expensive food is the guilt one is made to feel. There are some people who want to make you think they care, but then they make you feel guilty for taking advantage of their hospitality. The great Matthew Henry said,

Do not sponge upon those that are bountiful, nor make thyself burdensome to any; but especially scorn to be beholden to those that are paltry and not sincere. Better have a dinner of herbs, and true welcome, than dainty meats without it.*

Gag Reflex

Here’s the point that must be taken: don’t desire the things that belong to the wealthy, nor ask them for a free meal. Sure, there are kindly millionaires who love to give. The problem it that there are many others who love money more than people, but don’t want to seem greedy on the surface. That is why they will say, “Eat and drink,” but gag you in the end.

One commentary says that “Cultivating the friendship of the wealthy is a waste of effort,” and then goes on to say…

“For like a hair in the throat, so he is.” Just as getting a hair in the throat while eating causes a gag reflex and sometimes vomiting (v. 8), even so the wealthy man’s hospitality will leave one feeling disgusted.**

I sure hope the next rich person that takes me to dinner keeps his hair off my food.

Sources:

*Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994), Pr 23:6–8.

**Duane A. Garrett, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, vol. 14, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1993), 195-196.


Attitudes Will Change

Proverbs 19:28

“An ungodly witness scorneth judgment: and the mouth of the wicked devoureth iniquity.” 
“A corrupt witness makes a mockery of justice; the mouth of the wicked gulps down evil.” – NLT

Near the Cross

As I sit here preparing to type this entry, “Near the Cross” (Fanny Crosby) is playing in the background on my computer. Tears are beginning to well up in my eyes. Jesus, keep me near the Cross.

The words to the second verse: “Near the cross, a trembling soul, love and mercy found me; there the bright and morning star sheds its beams around me.” Then the chorus goes: “In the cross, in the cross, be my glory ever; till my raptured soul shall find rest beyond the river.

How can anyone who has ever heard of the love of Christ, of what He did on Calvary’s cross for you and me, ever be like the people in today’s proverb? I just don’t get it. Yet, there are some people who simply love evil; they love the taste of sin.

Oh, dear Jesus, keep me near the Cross!

Just Don’t Care

You have probably seen witnesses take the stand in a courtroom of law and laugh, make fun, and show utter contempt for the legal system. They “make a mockery of justice,” of what is right. They don’t care what happens, for they love iniquity and they mock the potential consequences. In many cases even the threat of death makes no difference.

ap_tj_lane_killer_tshirt_lpl_130321_wg

Click to see Prov. 19:28 in action.

In a recent case a teen, T.J. Lane, was convicted of murder. But before he was sentenced for killing three other teens in an Ohio school, he brandished a t-shirt with “Killer” hand-written on the front, “flipped off” the courtroom, and cursed the families of the victims. The rebellious child in a man’s body “scorned judgement” and showed nothing but a taste for evil.

He definitely had an attitude.

But Attitudes Change

There was a time when I loved sin. There was a time when I had a taste for evil. But when I came near the old, rugged Cross on which the Lamb of God was slain, my tastes changed. I found a new love.

Unfortunately, some scorn even the judgement of the cross. They are like the wicked described in the book of Job who enjoy “the sweet taste of wickedness, letting it melt under their tongue (20:12 NLT),” and are too enraptured with their evil to comprehend the true terrors that await.

Matthew Henry said that you can tell a fool “that the scriptures and an oath are sacred things, and not to be jested with, that there will come a reckoning day; [yet] he laughs at it all, and scorns to heed it.” [1]

But…one day attitudes will change. There will be no mocking, no t-shirts, only a fearful dread. At that moment what had been so sweet to the taste will become “poisonous venom in their stomach” (Job 20:14 NLT).


[1] Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994), Pr 19:28.


Chasten Thy Son

Proverbs 19:18

“Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.”

Mouths of Babes

Several years ago, when I was vice president of a local Kiwanis Club, I would go read to young children at a Head Start day care program. These children were around 4 or 5 years of age.

One day I took my two young daughters with me. They observed the unruliness of several children in the class and later commented. Haley, who was only around 5 or 6 herself, asked, “Daddy, why won’t that teacher just spank those kids?”

“Because that’s against the law, Haley. Teachers can’t do that,” I replied.

“Well,” Haley huffed, “those children need a whipp’n, so somebody needs to change the rules!” Out of the mouths of babes, people. Out of the mouths of babes.

Chastening

I know that many of you reading this will disagree, but there is only one way this verse can be interpreted – and it has nothing to do with “time outs” or being grounded. For example, consider these other verses…

“Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.”Proverbs 22:15

“The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.”Proverbs 29:15

“If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?” – Hebrews 12:7

Spanking is something that is frowned on, if not illegal in today’s society. Child psychologists, with all their worldly wisdom (and that’s key), urge parents to never physically discipline their children. Government agencies even control parents with the threat of prosecution. But what is biblical? What is wise?

While There Is Hope

As one who works with children of all ages, I can testify that a lack of discipline is at the root of most unruly behavior. Our school systems are completely helpless in the face of youth who have no fear of punishment.

Solomon says, however, that chastening a child is one way to ensure a better future, even if the child, at the moment, cries out in protest. The great Matthew Henry said, “It is better that he should cry under thy rod than under the sword of the magistrate, or, which is more fearful, that of divine vengeance.”* How many teens are in jail today because parents were to timid to use the “rod of correction?” How many instead have fallen under the “sword of the magistrate?”

While there is hope, learn to say “NO!” While there is still hope, take away the phone and video games. While there is still hope, take away the keys. While there is still hope, don’t buy those designer clothes. While there is still hope, don’t be afraid to chasten.

Be the parent, and chasten when necessary – while there is still hope.

*Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994), Pr 19:18.


Little Is Much

Proverbs 13:23

“Much food is in the tillage of the poor: but there is that is destroyed for want of judgment.”
“A poor man’s field may produce abundant food, but injustice sweeps it away.” NIV

We Complain 

Many times we complain about what we don’t have rather than thank God for what we do have. Have you ever complained about how small your house is, how old your car is, or how out of style your clothes are?  Sure you have. And you know, of course, that there are plenty of people out there who don’t even have a roof to sleep under, much less a new car or stylish clothes.

It might be a shock to you, but even pastors (ministers, preachers, bishops) have times when they complain about the “field” they are called to plow. I have done it. I even did it today, right before I read Proverbs 13:23.

We Whine

Today we had a death in our church. The loss of this key member has been a blow to all of our congregation. And being that our numbers are small, the loss of any member is painful, especially when growth has been extremely slow.

At one point I began to feel anxious. I asked God, “How can we grow a church if our younger adults start dying?” I thought to myself, “If we lose many more, we won’t be able to pay our utility bills, not to mention the little I get to feed my family.” For a moment I considered this field too small for even a minimal harvest.

No Excuses

Then I read this proverb. Then I read what the wise Matthew Henry had to say. Then I felt ashamed.

See…[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.[1]

Sounds like I need to just get back out in the field and turn the soil, doesn’t it? A small field can be full of produce if worked well and wisely. It is those who complain that let a harvest waste away.

Like the old song says, “Little is much when God is in it...”

Dear Heavenly Father, strengthen our hands and energize our hearts for the work. The fields are truly white unto harvest, so who are we kidding? We just need to work a little harder to bring it in.

[1] Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994), Pr 13:23.