Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Proverbs 20.20-28

9. Trusting the Lord to Avenge Wrongs through His Wise King (20.20-28)
(a) Introduction: Honoring Parents (20.20-21)

Whoever curses his father or his mother, 
His lamp will be put out in deep darkness.

curses...  The form is the Piel participle of קָלַל (qalal), which means “to be light”; in the Piel stem it means “to take lightly; to treat as worthless; to treat contemptuously; to curse.” Under the Mosaic law such treatment of parents brought a death penalty (Exod 21:17; Lev 20:9; Deut 27:16).  --NET Bible translation notes
lamp...  “His lamp” is a figure known as hypocatastasis (an implied comparison) meaning “his life.” Cf. NLT “the lamp of your life”; TEV “your life will end like a lamp.”  --NET Bible translation notes
For the lamp to be extinguished would mean death (e.g., 13:9) and possibly also the removal of posterity (R. N. Whybray, Proverbs [CBC], 115).  --NET Bible study notespitch darkness...  deep darkness, which adds vividly to the figure of the lamp being snuffed out. This individual’s destruction will be total and final.    --NET Bible translation notes

An inheritance gained hastily at the beginning Will not be blessed at the end.
gained hastily...  The Kethib reads מְבֻחֶלֶת (mÿbukhelet), “gotten by greed” (based on a cognate Syriac verb, “to be greedy”); but the Qere is מְבֹהֶלֶת (mÿvohelet), “gotten hastily [or, quickly].” A large number of mss and the ancient versions read with the Qere (cf. KJV, ASV “gotten hastily”; NAB “gained hastily”; NIV “quickly gained”; NRSV “quickly acquired”).  --NET Textual Criticism Notes
-->If the inheritance is obtained quickly, it could mean prematurely (e.g., Luke 15:12) or cruelly (Prov 19:26). The inheritance is gained without labor or without preparation.  --NET Bible study notes
(b) Body: Trusting God, Not Self, to Avenge Wrong (20.22-25)

Do not say, "I will recompense evil"; 
Wait for the Lord, and He will save you. 
recompense...  The form is the Piel cohortative of resolve – “I am determined to pay back.” The verb שָׁלֵם (shalem) means “to be complete; to be sound.” In this stem, however, it can mean “to make complete; to make good; to requite; to recompense” (KJV, ASV). The idea is “getting even” by paying back someone for the evil done.  --NET Bible translation notes
wait...   It means that the wrongs done to a person will have to be endured for a time.  --NET Bible study notes
save...  After the imperative, the jussive is subordinated in a purpose or result clause: “wait for the Lord so that he may deliver you.” The verb יֹשַׁע (yosha’) means “to save (KJV, ASV, NASB); to deliver (NIV); to give victory”; in this context it means “deliver from the evil done to you,” and so “vindicate” is an appropriate connotation. Cf. NCV “he will make things right.”   --NET Bible translation notes

Diverse weights are an abomination to the Lord, 
And dishonest scales are not good..  
are not good...  Heb “not good.” This is a figure known as tapeinosis – a deliberate understatement to emphasize a worst-case scenario: “it is wicked!” (e.g., 11:1; 20:10).  "are wicked." (NET Bible)    --NET Bible translation notes

A man's steps are of the Lord; 
How then can a man understand his own way?

are of...  To say that one’s steps are ordained by the Lord means that one’s course of actions, one’s whole life, is divinely prepared and sovereignly superintended (e.g., Gen 50:26; Prov 3:6). Ironically, man is not actually in control of his own steps.  --NET Bible study notes
can a man understand...  The verse uses an independent nominative absolute to point up the contrast between the mortal and the immortal: “and man, how can he understand his way?” The verb in the sentence would then be classified as a potential imperfect; and the whole question rhetorical. It is affirming that humans cannot understand very much at all about their lives.   --NET Bible translation notes


It is a snare for a man to devote rashly something as holy, 
And afterward to reconsider his vows.
reconsider...  Heb “reflect on.” The person is to consider the vows before making them, to ensure that they can be fulfilled. Too many people make their vow or promise without thinking, and then later worry about how they will fulfill their vows.   --NET Bible translation notes

(c) Conclusion: The King Judges the Wicked and Protects the Needy (20.26-28)


 26                        And
A wise king 
sifts out              brings the threshing wheel over
the wicked,       them.
siftss...  Heb “winnows” (so NAB, NASB, NRSV). The sage draws on the process of winnowing to explain how the king uncovers and removes wickedness. The verb from which the participle מְזָרֶה (mÿzareh) is derived means “to separate; to winnow; to scatter”; the implied comparison means that the king will separate good people from bad people like wheat is separated from chaff. The image of winnowing is also used in divine judgment. The second line of the verse uses a detail of the process to make the point. Driving a wheel over the wheat represents the threshing process; the sharp iron wheels of the cart would easily serve the purpose (e.g., Isa 28:27-28).   --NET Bible translation notes

The spirit of a man is the lamp of the Lord, 
Searching all the inner depths of his heart.

the spirit of a man...  The expression translated “the human spirit” is the Hebrew term נִשְׁמַת (nishmat), a feminine noun in construct. This is the inner spiritual part of human life that was breathed in at creation (Gen 2:7) and that constitutes humans as spiritual beings with moral, intellectual, and spiritual capacities.   --NET Bible study notes
iner depths...  Heb “all the chambers of the belly.” This means “the inner parts of the body” (BDB 293 s.v. חֶדֶר); cf. NASB “the innermost parts of his being.”   --NET Bible study notes

28                                 And
Mercy and truth       by lovingkindness
preserve                      he upholds
the king,                     his throne.
mercy and truth...  The first line uses two Hebrew words, חֶסֶד וֶאֱמֶת (khesed ve’emet, “loyal love and truth”), to tell where security lies. The first word is the covenant term for “loyal love; loving-kindness; mercy”; and the second is “truth” in the sense of what is reliable and dependable. The two words often are joined together to form a hendiadys: “faithful love.” That a hendiadys is intended here is confirmed by the fact that the second line uses only the critical word חֶסֶד.   --NET Bible translation notes
lovingkindness...  The emphasis is on the Davidic covenant (2 Sam 7:11-16; Ps 89:19-37). It is the Lord and his faithful love for his covenant that ultimately makes the empire secure. But the enjoyment of divine protection requires the king to show loyal love as well.   --NET Bible study notes


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