Commentary on the Bible, by Adam Clarke, , at sacred-texts.com
The timidity of the wicked. Quick succession in the government of a country is a punishment to the land. Of the poor who oppress the poor. The upright poor man is preferable to the wicked rich man. The unprofitable conduct of the usurer. The prosperity of the righteous a cause of rejoicing. He is blessed who fears always. A wicked ruler a curse. The murderer generally execrated. The faithful man. The corrupt judge. The foolishness of trusting in one's own heart. The charitable man. When the wicked are elevated, it is a public evil.
The wicked flee - Every wicked man, however bold he may appear, is full of dreary apprehensions relative to both worlds. But the righteous has true courage, being conscious of his own innocence, and the approbation of his God. The unpitious fleeith - Old MS. Bible. This word is often used for impious, wicked, ungodly; hence it appears that our word pity anciently meant piety or godliness.
Many are the princes - Nations, as nations, cannot be judged in a future world; therefore, God judges them here. And where the people are very wicked, and the constitution very bad, the succession of princes is frequent - they are generally taken off by an untimely death. Where the people know that the constitution is in their favor, they seldom disturb the prince, as they consider him the guardian of their privileges.
But by a man of understanding - Whether he be a king, or the king's prime minister, the prosperity of the state is advanced by his counsels.
A poor man that oppresseth the poor - Our Lord illustrates this proverb most beautifully, by the parable of the two debtors, Mat 18:23. One owed ten thousand talents, was insolvent, begged for time, was forgiven. A fellow servant owed this one a hundred pence: he was insolvent; but prayed his fellow servant to give him a little time, and he would pay it all. He would not, took him by the throat, and cast him into prison till he should pay that debt. Here the poor oppressed the poor; and what was the consequence? The oppressing poor was delivered to the tormentors; and the forgiven debt charged to his amount, because he showed no mercy. The comparatively poor are often shockingly uncharitable and unfeeling towards the real poor.
Like a sweeping rain - These are frequent in the East; and sometimes carry flocks, crops, and houses, away with them.
They that forsake the law - He that transgresses says, in fact, that it is right to transgress; and thus other wicked persons are encouraged.
They that seek the Lord understand all things - They are wise unto salvation; they "have the unction from the Holy One, and they know all things," Jo1 2:20, every thing that is essentially needful for them to know, in reference to both worlds.
He that by usury - increaseth his substance - By taking unlawful interest for his money; lending to a man in great distress, money, for the use of which he requires an exorbitant sum. O that the names of all those unfeeling, hard-hearted, consummate villains in the nation, who thus take advantage of their neighbour's necessities to enrich themselves, were published at every market cross; and then the delinquents all sent to their brother savages in New Zealand. It would be a happy riddance to the country.
He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law - Many suppose, if they do not know their duty, they shall not be accountable for their transgressions; and therefore avoid every thing that is calculated to enlighten them. They will not read the Bible, lest they should know the will of Good; and they will not attend Divine ordinances for the same reason. But this pretense will avail them nothing; as he that might have known his master's will, but would not, shall be treated as he shall be who did know it, and disobeyed it. Even the prayers of such a person as this are reputed sin before God.
Whoso causeth the righteous to go astray - He who strives to pervert one really converted to God, in order that he may pour contempt on religion, shall fall into that hell to which he has endeavored to lead the other.
When righteous men do rejoice - When true religion is no longer persecuted, and the word of God duly esteemed, there is great glory; for the word of the Lord has then free course, runs, and is glorified: but when the wicked rise - when they are elevated to places of trust, and put at the head of civil affairs, then the righteous man is obliged to hide himself; the word of the Lord becomes scarce, and there is no open vision. The first was the case in this country, in the days of Edward VI.; the second in the days of his successor, Mary I: Popery, cruelty, and knavery, under her, nearly destroyed the Church and the State in these islands.
He that covereth his sins - Here is a general direction relative to conversion.
1. If the sinner do not acknowledge his sins; if he cover and excuse them, and refuse to come to the light of God's word and Spirit, lest his deeds should be reproved, he shall find no salvation. God will never admit a sinful, unhumbled soul, into his kingdom.
2. But if he confess his sin, with a penitent and broken heart, and, by forsaking every evil way, give this proof that he feels his own sore, and the plague of his heart, then he shall have mercy. Here is a doctrine of vital importance to the salvation of the soul, which the weakest may understand.
Happy is the man that feareth alway - That ever carries about with him that reverential and filial fear of God, which will lead him to avoid sin, and labor to do that which is lawful and right in the sight of God his Savior.
The prince that wanteth understanding - A weak prince will generally have wicked ministers, for his weakness prevents him from making a proper choice; and he is apt to prefer them who flatter him, and minister most to his pleasures. The quantum of the king's intellect may be always appreciated by the mildness or oppressiveness of his government. He who plunges his people into expensive wars, to support which they are burdened with taxes, is a prince without understanding. He does not know his own interest, and does not regard that of his people. But these things, though general truths, apply more particularly to those despotic governments which prevail in Asiatic countries.
That doeth violence to the blood - He who either slays the innocent, or procures his destruction, may flee to hide himself: but let none give him protection. The law demands his life, because he is a murderer; and let none deprive justice of its claim. Murder is the most horrid crime in the sight of God and man; it scarcely ever goes unpunished, and is universally execrated.
Shall fall at once - Shall fall without resource, altogether.
He that tilleth his land - See Pro 12:11.
He that maketh haste to be rich - See Pro 13:11; Pro 20:21.
Whoso robbeth his father - The father's property is as much his own, in reference to the child, as that of the merest stronger. He who robs his parents is worse than a common robber; to the act of dishonesty and rapine he adds ingratitude, cruelty, and disobedience. Such a person is the compatriot of a destroyer; he may be considered as a murderer.
Shall be made fat - Shall be prosperous.
He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool - For his heart, which is deceitful and desperately wicked, will infallibly deceive him.
Be that giveth unto the poor - See the notes on Deu 15:7 (note), Detueronomy Deu 19:17 (note), Deu 22:9 (note).