Verses 7–9

Here is the description, 1. Of a weak man: Wisdom is too high for him; he thinks it so, and therefore, despairing to attain it, he will take no pains in the pursuit of it, but sit down content without it. And really it is so; he has not capacity for it, and therefore the advantages he has for getting it are all in vain to him. It is no easy thing to get wisdom; those that have natural parts good enough, yet if they be foolish, that is, if they be slothful and will not take pains, if they be playful and trifling, and given to their pleasures, if they be viciously inclined and keep bad company, it is too high for them; they are not likely to reach it. And, for want of it, they are unfit for the service of their country: They open not their mouth in the gate; they are not admitted into the council or magistracy, or, if they are, they are dumb statues, and stand for cyphers; they say nothing, because they have nothing to say, and they know that if they should offer any thing it would not be heeded, nay, it would be hissed at. Let young men take pains to get wisdom, that they may be qualified for public business, and do it with reputation. 2. Of a wicked man, who is not only despised as a fool is, but detested. Two sorts of wicked men are so:—(1.) Such as are secretly malicious. Though they speak courteously and conduct themselves plausibly, they devise to do evil, are contriving to do an ill turn to those they bear a grudge to, or have an envious eye at. He that does so shall be called a mischievous person, or a master of mischief, which perhaps was then a common name of reproach; he shall be branded as an inventor of evil things (Rom. 1:30), or if any mischief be done, he shall be suspected as the author of it, or at least accessory to it. This devising evil is the thought of foolishness, Prov. 24:9. It is made light of, and turned off with a jest, as only a foolish thing, but really it is sin, it is exceedingly sinful; you cannot call it by a worse name than to call it sin. It is bad to do evil, but it is worse to devise it; for that has in it the subtlety and poison of the old serpent. But it may be taken more generally. We contract guilt, not only by the act of foolishness, but by the thought of it, though it go no further; the first risings of sin in the heart are sin, offensive to God, and must be repented of or we are undone. Not only malicious, unclean, proud thoughts, but even foolish thoughts, are sinful thoughts. If vain thoughts lodge in the heart, they defile it (Jer. 4:14), which is a reason why we should keep our hearts with all diligence, and harbour no thoughts there which cannot give a good account of themselves, Gen. 6:5. (2.) Such as are openly abusive: The scorner, who gives ill-language to every body, takes a pleasure in affronting people and reflecting upon them, is an abomination to men; none that have any sense of honour and virtue will care to keep company with him. The seat of the scornful is the pestilential chair (as the LXX. calls it, Ps. 1:1), which no wise man will come near, for fear of taking the infection. Those that strive to make others odious do but make themselves so.