Withhold not good from them to whom it is due - מבעליו mibbealaiv, from the lords of it. But who are they? The poor. And what art thou, O rich man? Why, thou art a steward, to whom God has given substance that thou mayest divide with the poor. They are the right owners of every farthing thou hast to spare from thy own support, and that of thy family; and God has given the surplus for their sakes. Dost thou, by hoarding up this treasure, deprive the right owners of their property? If this were a civil case, the law would take thee by the throat, and lay thee up in prison; but it is a case in which God alone judges. And what will he do to thee? Hear! "He shall have judgment without mercy, who hath showed no mercy;" James 2:13. Read, feel, tremble, and act justly.
A marked change in style. The continuous exhortation is replaced by a series of maxims.
From them to whom it is due - literally, as in the margin. The precept expresses the great Scriptural thought that the so-called possession of wealth is but a stewardship; that the true owners of what we call our own are those to whom, with it, we may do good. Not to relieve them is a breach of trust.
Procrastination is especially fatal to the giving impulse. The Septuagint adds the caution: “for thou knowest not what the morrow will bring forth.”
A protest against the tendency to worship success, to think the lot of the “man of violence” enviable, and therefore to be chosen.
The true nature of such success. That which people admire is an abomination to Yahweh. His “secret,” i. e., His close, intimate communion as of “friend with friend,” is with the righteous.
The thought, like that which appears in Zechariah 5:3-4, and pervades the tragedies of Greek drama, is of a curse, an Ate, dwelling in a house from generation to generation, the source of ever-recurring woes. There is, possibly, a contrast between the “house” or “palace” of the rich oppressor and the lowly shepherd‘s hut, the “sheep-cote” 2 Samuel 7:8 ennobled only by its upright inhabitants.
Surely - Better, If he scorneth the scorners, i. e., Divine scorn of evil is the complement, and, as it were, the condition, of divine bounty to the lowly (compare the marginal reference and the Proverbs 1:26 note).
The margin conveys the thought that “fools” glory in that which is indeed their shame. Others take the clause as meaning “every fool takes up shame,” i. e., gains nothing but that.
Now is the time of trial, of test, of proving. Those who like Saul, will persist in having their own way, will suffer as he did, loss of honor, and finally the loss of the soul (Letter 13, 1892). 3BC 1164.1
26. The Law of Kindness on Your Lips—The Lord will help every one of us where we need help the most in the grand work of overcoming and conquering self. Let the law of kindness be upon your lips and the oil of grace in your heart. This will produce wonderful results. You will be tender, sympathetic, courteous. You need all these graces. The Holy Spirit must be received and brought into your character; then it will be as holy fire, giving forth incense which will rise up to God, not from lips that condemn, but as a healer of the souls of men. Your countenance will express the image of the divine. No sharp, critical, blunt, or severe words should be spoken. This is common fire, and must be left out of all our councils and intercourse with our brethren. God requires every soul in His service to kindle their censers from the coals of sacred fire. The common, severe, harsh words that come from your lips so readily must be withheld, and the Spirit of God speak through the human agent. By beholding the character of Christ you will become changed into His likeness. The grace of Christ alone can change your heart and then you will reflect the image of the Lord Jesus. God calls upon us to be like Him,—pure, holy, and undefiled. We are to bear the divine image (Letter 84, 1899). 3BC 1164.2Read in context »