3080. Two Ancient Proverbs

by on
Share:

No. 3080-54:85. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Evening, March 29, 1874, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Published On Thursday, February 20, 1908.

The fear of man brings a snare; but whoever puts his trust in the LORD shall be safe. {Pr 29:25}

1. We have two ancient proverbs here; each of them is true as a separate proverb, and they are equally true when linked together. The independent proposition, that the fear of man brings a snare, is a truth which experience has taught to many. The other proposition, that he who trusts in the Lord shall be safe, has been found most blessedly true by all those who have tested it. Then put the two propositions together, — that the fear of man brings a snare, but trust in the Lord is the safe and certain way to avoid that snare, — and this also is true.

2. I. We shall, first of all, consider for a little while the first of the two ancient proverbs: “The fear of man brings a snare.” That is ONE OF THE GREAT EVILS THAT WE HAVE TO AVOID.

3. What a common evil the fear of man is, — the fear of losing human approbation, the fear of incurring human wrath. There are thousands of men, who have no fear of God, who have great fear of man. They break the laws of God without any fear of the consequences that must ensue, yet they are afraid to break the laws of man because they dread the punishment that might possibly follow. They are not afraid of hell, yet they are afraid of an earthly prison. They do not dread the arm of the Almighty, yet they are afraid of an arm of flesh.

4. The fear of man has been thought by some people to be a very good and salutary thing. Instead of bringing a snare, they think that it is the means of preventing much sin among mankind. Now, I do not doubt that some are hindered by the fear of man from committing great crimes and open acts of wrong, but the utmost that the fear of man can do is to confer a very doubtful benefit. Try it in your own house among your own children. If your children are kept from wrong-doing only by the fear of you, — if they only do what they are told to do because they are afraid to do otherwise, — you will have a very poor form of obedience; and you will have, at the same time, an abundant crop of deceit springing up; for, when your child has done wrong, his fear of punishment will drive him to a falsehood, and perhaps lead him from one falsehood to another, and falsehoods may become so common with him that, at last, it shall be as natural for him to tell a lie as to speak the truth; and I think every parent must know that all the faults a child can commit, if put into the scale together, are not equal in criminality and in injury to his spiritual constitution to a lie. The power to tell a lie is one of the most hideous powers to which man can attain, and some children are kept in such a state of terror that they naturally learn to do it. It is supposed, too, that servants cannot be managed without being kept in a state of fear. Yet you all know what an eye-server is. If there is no right principle in servants, they are worth nothing. Those who will only work because the eye of the master or mistress is on them are of very little value. You only teach them habits of deceit if they live in constant fear of you. This experiment has been tried on a large scale. Laws have been made with the severe penalties for their violation, yet men seemed as if they transgressed all the more. In prison, the sternest forms of discipline have been tried, yet the prisoner has come out determined to sin again; certainly, there has been no beneficial change produced in him by fear.

5. I will not deny that the fear of man has its uses, but I must assert again that it is always a very doubtful good which fear brings to the human mind and heart. Love, my brethren, is the grand cure for the evil of human hearts, especially the love that comes from above; that pure and heavenly flame, which is kindled only by the Holy Spirit, burns up sin. But “fear has torment”; it does little else except plague and vex the soul.

6. Having said this much about any possible good that may come from fear, I now remark that, according to the text, “the fear of man brings a snare.” It has led many men into very great sins.

7. Look at Pilate. I mention him first because there was a particular atrocity about his sin. The pure and holy Jesus is brought before him, and after examining him, he declares, “I find no fault in this man.” He sends him to Herod, and the result is that he says to Christ’s accusers, “I have found no fault in this man touching these things of which you accuse him: no, nor even Herod: for I sent you to him.” Pilate’s wife warns him that she has suffered much in a dream because of Christ, and she says, “Have nothing to do with that just man.” Pilate’s own interviews with Christ impressed his mind, and therefore he wanted to set the Saviour free if he could; but though he was a Roman governor, and placed in a high position of power, he was a poor slave to the people. He was vacillating; he knew what was the right course, and he wanted to take it, but he feared the consequences. The Jews might appeal to Caesar, and say that he had spared the life of one who pretended to be a king, and then he might lose his post. So this poor, timid, contemptible creature takes water, and washes his hands, and says that he is innocent of the blood of this just person, and the next minute gives up the innocent victim to be nailed on a cross. It was the fear of man that caused Pilate’s name to become infamous in the history of the world and of the Church of God, and it will be infamous for all eternity. The fear of man led him to kill the Saviour; take care that it does not lead you to do something of the same kind.

8. Long before Pilate’s day, there had been a king of Israel who lost his crown through the fear of man. God had chosen Saul to be head over his people, but when he was commanded by God to strike the Amalekites, and to destroy all that they had, he spared Agag, and the best of the sheep and oxen, and all that was good, because he “feared the people, and obeyed their voice.” He was head and shoulders taller than his subjects, a man who, at other times, acted as a despot, and had his own way; yet, at this particular time, he feared the people, and so did what God had commanded him not to do, and therefore his kingdom was torn from him, and given to one who was better than he.

9. “Yes,” you say, “those two were bad men who fell into sin through the fear of man.” Yes, but I am sorry to say that I must also mention good men who did the same. Look at Aaron, the priest of the Lord, and companion of his brother Moses; Aaron, who had spoken with God, and was his representative to the people. Yet, when Moses was gone up into the mount, and the people came to Aaron, and said, “Get up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what is become of him”; Aaron told them to break off their golden earrings, and bring them to him; and he, the priest of God, desecrated his sacred hands by making for the people a molten calf before which they might bow in worship. Ah, Aaron! if you had had the courage of your brother, you would not have fallen into that shameful sin.

10. Turning to the New Testament again, to give an example from it, remember bold Peter, and the words which he spoke so enthusiastically to his Lord, “I am ready to go with you, both into prison, and to death. Though I should die with you, yet I will not deny you.” Yet see him, a little later, warming himself in the high priest’s palace, and first one of the maidservants, and then others who stood by, said to him, “Surely you are one of them”; and “he began to curse and to swear,” to prove that he was no disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ. Ah, Peter, where is your courage now? Truly, “the fear of man brings a snare,” even to the best of men. May God save us from it, and make us so brave that we shall never fear any man so as to do a wrong action!

11. Again, the fear of man brings a snare in this respect, it keeps many people from conversion. Perhaps there are some such people now present; let me see if I can pick them out. You scarcely dare to go to the place where the gospel is preached in a way in which God blesses it, because, if you were to go there, and it were known, it would be a subject of jest in your family, and would provoke remarks that you would not like. There are many who dare not go to the house where God pours out the blessing; they are such cowards that they dare not come to listen to those who preach Christ’s gospel with power; and others, who do come and hear it, are afraid to receive the truth to which they have listened again and again. The thought in such a person’s mind is, “What would father and mother say if I were converted? Oh, what a time I should have of it! What would my fellow workmen say? I should have to run the gauntlet of the whole lot if they once knew that I had become a Christian.” Another says, “I do not know how I should endure the persecution I would receive; my life would become intolerable if I were to become a child of God.” So they never come to Jesus because the fear of man, which brings a snare, still keeps them as the hopeless slaves of sin. But, young man, do you intend to be damned just to please someone else? Do you intend to fling away your immortal soul in order to escape the laughter of fools? Remember, that they may laugh you into hell, but they cannot laugh you out again. Do not let the fear of man be the ruin of your soul. If, for the sake of pleasing men, you choose to forfeit some small trifle, it does not matter much; but when it comes to the forfeiting of Christ, the forfeiting of your soul, and the forfeiting of heaven, I appeal to your own conscience to say if it is worth while to be eternally ruined for the sake of pleasing men, whoever they may be. Is it not better that even father, and mother, and brother, and sister, and every friend you have in the world should be against you, and that God should be yours, than that you should have all these as your friends, and yet remain at enmity against the Most High?

12. I have no doubt that this same fear of man keeps a large number of people, who are converted, from making a public affirmation of their faith, and so it brings a snare to them. Nicodemus “at first came to Jesus by night,” and Joseph of Arimathaea was “a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews.” I hope you will not try to shelter behind those two good men, for, remember that, as soon as Christ was put to death, when his cause was at the very worst, they came out boldly, and proved their love for him; and we do not read that they ever crept back, like snails into their shells. Having acknowledged Christ as their Lord and Master, I have no doubt that they continued to follow him whatever the consequences may have been. So far as you are concerned, just now is the time to acknowledge Christ; now especially, because scepticism and superstition, the two monstrous evils which threaten to devour true religion, are so rampant; and it needs some moral courage to declare yourself on the side of the simple gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Now is the hour for a Christian to play the man for Christ his Lord and Master; yet there are many who are staying in the background because “the fear of man brings a snare” on them. Where are you, dear friend? I cannot come around to all those pews; otherwise, I should stop, here and there, before some of you whom I know, and before others whom I suspect, and whom I joyfully suspect of loving my Master. I think you do, by the way you look when his name is extolled in your hearing; yet you have not said so in the way he wishes. I charge you, by the love which you bear to him, do not hold back. Imagine that you see him now before your eyes, and that you hear him say to you as he hangs on the cross, “I bore all this for you, and yet are you ashamed of me? If you love me, acknowledge me in the midst of this wicked and perverse generation. Take up your cross, and follow me, whatever suffering or reproach it may involve.”

13. The fear of man has brought a snare to some of the greatest believers who have ever lived; and any child of God, whenever he fears the face of man, loses some of the dignity which pertains to that relationship. What a grand man Abraham was! Whenever I read his life, I look up to him with astonishment, and wish I had such faith as would make me resemble him in that respect. He marches across the page of history with such quiet stately dignity that kings and princes are dwarfed beside his great figure. How nobly did he say to the king of Sodom, “I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, lest you should say, ‘I have made Abram rich’”; but oh, how small did he look when he said to Abimelech, concerning his wife, “She is my sister.” She was his sister, in a sense; there was some truth in what he said, but she was more than his sister, so he was uttering a falsehood, for which he was properly rebuked by the heathen prince.

14. You have, in David, another example of how the fear of man can bring the mighty down. How brave he is as he goes out to kill Goliath, and how grandly he behaves when, twice, he spares the life of his sleeping enemy! Yet see him there at Gath, when the servants of Achish frightened him so that he “feigned himself mad in their hands, and scrabbled on the doors of the gate, and let his spittle fall down on his beard.” The fear of man had brought down Israel’s future monarch to drivel like a madman.

15. Equally sad is the case of Elijah, that grandest of men, as I may truly call him. You see him in his grandeur as he cries, “Take the prophets of Baal; do not let one of them escape”; and as he brings them down to the brook Kishon, and kills them there, and then, as he goes to the top of Carmel, and prays until the rain descends on the parched land. Yet, after the excitement is over, he is afraid of a woman, Jezebel, and the great Elijah shrinks down into the contemptuous frightened man, who runs away, and cries, “It is enough; now, oh Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my forefathers.” So you see that “the fear of man brings a snare” even to the best of men; it drags them down from their high places, and hurls them into the dust. Therefore, may God preserve us from it!

16. The fear of man keeps some believers in very dubious positions. I have known some believers to remain where they knew they were not doing right, and where every day they were dragging a heavy chain behind them because they did not have the moral courage to come straight out for God. If any of you, young people, who love the Lord, want to go the easiest way to heaven, — you know that all ways there are rough, but if you want to go the easiest way, take what looks the hardest; namely, be an out-and-out, thorough-going Christian. “But that will cost me much,” one says. It will at first, but it will be all the more easy for you afterwards; whereas, if you begin by giving way to the world a little, — trimming a little, — you will have to give way and trim more and more. A Christian should be like a steamer that goes straight to the port it is intended to reach; but many professors are like sailing vessels, the motive power that controls them is outside of them, so they have to tack a good deal; and though they may ultimately get to their destination, there is a good deal of strange sailing to the right and to the left, and their voyage takes a very long while. I hope you, dear friends, will go straight to your mark. “Trust in God, and do the right thing”; and this will, after all, be the very smoothest path that you can follow.

17. Further, the fear of man hampers the usefulness of a great many. There are brethren who ought to be preaching, but who are not, because they are afraid of men; and some who ought to go and visit the poor, but they say that they cannot; the reason is, that they are afraid of men. Why, I have known some who were afraid even to give away a tract; they were as much alarmed as though they had to put their hand into a tiger’s mouth. I have known some who were afraid to speak to their own children about their souls. Is it not strange that they can speak to other people’s children about their souls better than they can to their own? It should not be so; in fact, there is no one living, that any one of us if he is a Christian, has any right to be afraid of. We shall never do good to people if we are afraid of them. What would have become of the Church of God if the apostles had been such timid, gentle Christians as some whom I know? They would not have gone out to preach in the streets, and since there were no chapels and churches then, they would not have preached at all. As soon as Caesar promulgated an edict that they were not to meet on the first day of the week, they would have said, “Perhaps we had better not meet.” When they heard that the crowds shouted in the amphitheatre, “Christians to the lions!” they would have said, “We must not expose ourselves to such a risk, and we must think of our wives and families”; and so they would have been cowards, and soon there would have been no Christianity left in the world. Just imagine what would have happened if the Reformers had acted like this. Suppose Martin Luther had said, “I shall do as that old monk advised me when I consulted him. He said, ‘Martin, go back to your cell, and live there near to your God, and leave the Church and the world alone.’” If Luther had followed that advice, where would the blessed Reformation have been, and what preaching of the gospel would there have been at this present moment?

18. I must not continue much longer on this part of my subject, but I must say that for a minister of Christ, the fear of man is one of the worst of snares. Jonah tried to escape from going to Nineveh because he was afraid of man. The Galatians could not bear the full light of the gospel, and therefore certain teachers among them tried to shut off some of its beams; and if a minister of Christ once begins to be afraid of his hearers, his tendency will be to withhold some doctrine through fear of a wealthy subscriber, or to keep back some rebuke for fear that it should bear too heavily on an influential person in his congregation. There is one sin which I believe I have never committed; I think that I have never been afraid of any of you, and I hope, by the grace of God, that I never shall be. If I dare not speak the truth on all points, and dare not rebuke sin, what good am I to you? Yet I have heard sermons which seemed to me to have been made to the order of the congregation. But honest hearers want honest preaching; and if they find that the preachers message comes home to them, they thank God that it is so. They say, “Is it not right that it should be so? If we err, should not the Word of God, which is quick and powerful, search us, and try us, and find out our errors?” And the preacher, if he really preaches the truth as it is in Jesus, must often deal out rebuke as well as encouragement. May God deliver all his ministers from the fear of man everywhere, and the whole Church of Christ too! At one time, the fear of man took this form, — the geologists had discovered that Moses was mistaken, and that God did not know how he had made the world! Many seemed to think that something dreadful had happened, and they wondered how those objectors were to be answered. Soon after that, someone discovered that God was mistaken about having made Adam and Eve, for they gradually developed from oysters or some even smaller creatures! Then again there was a great outcry, “Who is to answer these eminent, philosophers?” Oh, Church of God, is every drivelling fool to have any answer at all? Stand firm by the inspired Word, and do not be ensnared by the fear of man. We have seen scores of systems of philosophy come and go, and we shall probably see as many more before we die. Our business is just to stand firm on the truth of revelation, and let philosophies die as the frogs of Egypt died in the days of Moses; for die they will, and when fresh hordes come, they also will die, but the eternal truth of the ever-blessed God — will never die, it will live on in its own glorious immortality.

19. II. Now, in the second place, I want to show you that THE GREAT CURE FOR THIS EVIL IS TRUST IN GOD: “The fear of man brings a snare: but whoever puts his trust in the Lord shall be safe.”

20. I should have thought that Solomon would have said, “The fear of man brings a snare: but whoever fears the Lord shall be safe.” That would have read very well, and it would have been quite true; but it would not have expressed the special truth that Solomon then had in his mind. It is not fear, but faith, that is the cure for cowardice. Trust in the Lord, and you can then cry, “Whom shall I fear?” for you will feel that you have the strength of the Almighty behind you. Trusting in God, we feel that we are one with God, and so we are made strong. That strength creates courage, and enables us to boldly ask, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” That courage leads us to count the cost of doing right, and after counting it, we feel that, in God’s strength, we can endure that, and a thousand times as much if necessary; and therefore we say, “Come what may, we will serve the Lord”; and with the Holy Spirit resting on us, we march boldly on to victory in his might. So that, trust in God, by giving us God’s strength, and consequently courage and decision, lifts us up above the fear of man.

21. But the point of the text may be found in another direction, namely, that, trusting in God, we become safe, not merely from fear, but from the consequences of defying fear. “Whoever puts his trust in the Lord shall be safe.” By trusting in the Lord, and doing what is right, he may be a great sufferer, but he shall be safe. He will not be so great a sufferer as he would be if he followed the opposite course. Suppose that his enemies carry their opposition to extremes, they can only kill the body, and after that they is no more that they can do. But suppose he were to forfeit his faith, then his body and soul would be cast into hell, which would be an infinitely greater and eternal loss. Never imagine that you can be a loser by trusting in God. Whatever risk there is in doing so, the risk of not trusting in him is far greater; and every sensible man will prefer the smaller risk. Besides, how often it happens; that, if a man trusts in God, and acts according to his conscience, he is not a loser at all. Many have been gainers by it, though that ought not to be an inducement. Many have said, “If we do what we feel is right, we shall lose everything”; and yet, when they have dared to run that risk, they have lost nothing at all, for God has helped them in the emergency. But if they should lose by doing the right thing, let this assurance comfort them, “Whoever puts his trust in the Lord shall be safe.” It is much better to be safe than to be wealthy, and infinitely better to be safe for time and for eternity than to have all the comforts of life around you, but to put your soul in jeopardy.

22. A Christian man need never be afraid of anyone. If you are doing right, you have no reason to fear the greatest man who is serving the devil. Look at Bernard Palissy, the Huguenot potter, who produced such wonderful works of art. One day, the king of France said to him, “Bernard I am afraid I shall be compelled to give you up to the inquisitors to be burned if you will not change your religion.” Bernard’s reply was, “I pity your majesty.” Only think of that, the potter pitied the king! So his majesty asked, “Why do you pity me, Bernard?” “Because,” he answered, “you have said what your majesty and fifty thousand princes cannot make me say, ‘I fear I shall be compelled!’” Why, sirs, Palissy was the king and the king was not worthy to be the potter. A truly royal dignity dwelt in that potter’s soul. Are any of you young men going to allow anyone to make you say, “I fear I shall be compelled to cease worshipping with the Dissenters”; “I fear I shall be compelled to abstain from attending that little country Baptist chapel”; or, “I am afraid it might not be considered proper for me to make a public profession of religion in the town where I live?” If you talk like that, I can only say, “May the Lord have mercy on your little miserable soul, and give you enough manhood and common honesty to confess what Christ has done for you!” If you really have been bought with the precious blood of Jesus Christ, and have had your sins forgiven, and have been made an heir of heaven, and are on your way to a glorious immortality, surely you cannot act the part of a sneak like that! What are you, who are to dwell among the angels, you for whom there is a mansion in the skies, and a robe of righteousness and a crown of glory, are you going to play the coward like that? Why, if you act like this, you ought to be drummed out of the regiment of the Church militant, so how can you expect to be in the Church triumphant with such a miserable spirit as that? May the Lord help you to put your trust in him, so that you may be saved from all fear of man!

23. Now to close. The last sentence of the text is true as an independent proposition. “Whoever puts his trust in the Lord shall be safe.” I do not have time to speak about this sentence, but I give it to you to put under your tongue as a sweet morsel as you go your way to your homes. It is not, “He who trusts in himself”; not, “He who trusts in a priest”; not, “He who performs good works, and trusts in them”; but, “whoever puts his trust in the Lord shall be safe.” The man who is trusting in the blood and righteousness of Jesus may not always be happy, but he is safe; he may not always be singing, but he is safe; he may not always have the joy of full assurance, but he is safe. He may sometimes be distressed, but, he is always safe; he may sometimes question his interest in Christ, but he is always safe.

24. I was astonished, the other day, to find an expression used by Cardinal Bellarmine, who was one of the greatest Jesuit controversialists. He closes a long argument about being saved by works with the following very remarkable sentences, which I will quote as accurately as I can: — “Nevertheless, although the way of acceptance with God is by our own works, there is a danger that men may trust in their own works so much as to grow proud, which would quite spoil their works; and, therefore, on the whole, it is safest for them to rely on the blood and merits of Jesus Christ alone.” Well done, Cardinal Bellarmine! “On the whole,” I intend to do that as long as I live; and oh that everyone, who has ever been deluded by the doctrines of the Church of Rome, would listen to the Cardinal’s confession that, on the whole, it is safest to rest on what Christ has done! On the whole, it is better to trust in the Saviour than to trust in ourselves! On the whole, it is better to be washed in his blood than to think that we can make ourselves clean! The cardinal did not say all the truth, but I thank him for what he did say, though the truth is better expressed by Solomon in my text, “Whoever puts his trust in the Lord shall be safe.” He shall be safe if he is sick, if he is rich, if he is poor. He shall be safe when he dies, safe when he rises again, safe at the day of judgment, and safe throughout all of eternity. Oh, then, come all of you, and trust in the Lord, for “whoever puts his trust in the Lord shall be safe” for ever! Amen.

Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {Pr 27}

1. Do not boast about tomorrow; for you do not know what a day may bring.

Let us never boast of future days and years, or what we intend to do when we come to any age, or what shall be our position when we grow grey. Let us never boast about anything in the future, for we cannot tell what even a day may bring.

2. Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.

For he who praises himself writes himself down as a fool in capital letters.

3. A stone is heavy, and the sand weighty; but a fool’s wrath is heavier than them both.

One might endure almost any kind of labour sooner than have to live with one who is perpetually and foolishly angry.

4. Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?

Envy is a snake in the grass. Christians, beware of envy. You will, perhaps, be tempted to have it in your heart when you see another Christian more useful than you are, or when some Christian brother seems to have more honour than you have. Ah, then! cry to God against it. Never let this venomous reptile be spared for a single moment. The best of men will find envy creeping over them at times; it may be envy of the wicked who are rich. We must seek to overcome that at once. And even envy of the best of men, what is it but covetousness and hatred, and a breach of two commandments? May God save us from it!

5. Open rebuke is better than secret love.

That I should love my fellow man is a good thing; but to have love enough to be able openly to rebuke his faults, is a very high proof of affection, and far better than secret love that is silent when it ought to speak. And yet, how many people there are who are very angry with you if you give them an open rebuke, and how many there are who are foolish enough to prefer secret love to open rebuke, though they have Solomon’s wisdom to teach them better! Our Lord Jesus Christ has a secret love for his people, yet he never spares them the open rebuke when he knows that it will be good for them.

6. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.

Beware of the flattering world, believer; beware of the flattering devil, and of the deceitfulness of the flesh. When things go smoothly with you, there may be the greatest danger. Whatever you do in times of storm, keep a good look out when the sea is calm and the sky is clear.

7. The full soul loathes a honeycomb; but for the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.

“The full soul loathes” (even that luscious thing) “a honeycomb.” No true preaching will go down with him who is full of himself, full of his own importance. Unless there shall be many of the flowers of rhetoric in the discourse, he will not listen to sound doctrine. “But for the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.” It is a happy hunger when the soul hungers and thirsts after righteousness. Then there are no hypercritical observations about the minister’s delivery, and no criticizing words and phrases. It is spiritual food that the soul seeks, and if it can get that, though it may not be to its taste in every respect, there will be a sweetness in it that will make it like a honeycomb.

8, 9. As a bird that wanders from her nest, so is a man who wanders from his place. Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so does the sweetness of a man’s friend by hearty counsel.

The Orientals were accustomed to smear their faces, and especially their hair, with ointment and perfume, and those who came near them were pleased with the scent. When you can get a little conversation, especially on points that help towards godliness, with those of a similar frame of mind with you, when you can have sweet communion and fellowship with the people of God, it is then that your hearts are cheered as with ointments and perfumes.

10. Your own friend, and your father’s friend, do not forsake;

Have very few friends, but stick closely to them. Above all, cleave closely to that “Friend who sticks closer than a brother.” If he is your own Friend, and your father’s Friend, never forsake HIM. Forsake all the world for him, but do not let all the world induce you to forsake him.

10. Neither go into your brother’s house in the day of your calamity: for better is a neighbour who is near than a brother far off.

It is very sad that it should be so; but, sometimes, our nearest relatives are the farthest off, and those who ought to help us the most help us the least. Many a man has had kindness shown to him by his neighbour, who was only a stranger, when he has had little or no kindness from his own relatives. But there is one Brother into whose house we may always go. So near of kin he is to us, and so loving of heart, that he never thinks a harsh thought about us; but, the more we ask of him, the more delighted he is with us, and is only grieved with us because we stint ourselves in our prayers.

11. My son, be wise, and make my heart glad, so that I may answer him who reproaches me.

A good son is his father’s honour. If any say of such and such a man that he is a bad man, yet, if his children walk orderly, he can answer the slander without speaking a word. Would a bad man have brought up his children in that way? Would they be walking in the fear of God if he had not walked in that way himself? So the sons of God ought to seek, by their consistency, to keep the name of their Father clear of reproach. The consistency of our conduct should be the best answer to the accusations of the infidel.

12, 13. A prudent man foresees the evil, and hides himself; but the simple pass on and are punished. Take his garment that is surety for a stranger,

He who takes surety is sure, but he who becomes surety for another, and especially for a stranger, will smart for it, perhaps to the day of his death.

13, 14. And take a pledge from him for a strange woman. He who blesses his friend with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, it shall be considered a curse to him.

There are some men who always use such sweet words; they are so fond of you that they are up early in the morning to give you their praise, and they continue all day pouring out their flattering unction. Such blessings as these are a curse, and the wise man will loathe these parasitical people who will see no faults, or pretend that they do not see any, but will always be extolling mere trifles as though they were the most sublime virtues. A sensible man is not to be overcome by this flattery.

15. A continual dropping on a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike.

When there is a little leak in the roof, and the rain keeps dropping through, it is very uncomfortable; but it is ten times more comfortable than it is to have to dwell with a contentious woman.

16. Whoever hides her hides the wind, and the ointment of his right hand, which reveals itself.

That is to say, if a man put sweet ointment on his hand, the smell of it would soon be perceived; so, if a woman is of a contentious, angry, quarrelsome disposition, her contentiousness will be revealed, there is no hiding it.

17. Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.

Hence the usefulness of Christian association, and hence also the evil of sinful company, for one sinner sharpens another to do mischief, just as one saint encourages another to righteousness.

18, 19. Whoever keeps the fig tree shall eat its fruit: so he who waits on his master shall be honoured. As in water face answers to face, so the heart of man to man.

If I look into water, I see the reflection of my own face, not another man’s; and if I look into society, I shall probably see men like-minded with myself. How is it that a drunken man always finds drunken men? How is it that lascivious men always have a bad opinion of the morality of other people? How is it that hypocrites always think other people to be hypocrites? Why, because they can see the reflection of their own faces. When a man tells me that there is no love in the Church of God, I know it is because he sees his own face, and knows that there is no love in it. You will generally find that men measure other people’s grain with their own bushels. They are sure to deal out to others according to their own measure; and so they unconsciously betray themselves.

20, 21. Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied. As the refining pot for silver, and the furnace for gold; so is a man to his praise.

Many a man, who can bear adversity, cannot bear prosperity. The world’s censures seldom do a Christian any harm, but it is the breath of applause that often gives us the scarlet fever of pride.

22. Though you should grind a fool in a mortar among wheat with a pestle, yet his foolishness will not depart from him.

No troubles, no afflictions, can by themselves make a fool into a wise man. The sinner remains a sinner, after all providential chastisements, unless sovereign grace intervenes.

23. Be diligent to know the state of your flocks, and look well to your herds.

Do not be slothful in business; and, above all, let the Christian be diligent to know the state of his own heart.

24-27. For riches are not for ever: and does the crown endure to every generation? The hay appears, and the tender grass shows itself, and herbs of the mountains are gathered. The lambs are for your clothing, and the goats are the price of the field. And you shall have goat’s milk enough for your food, for the food of your household, and for the maintenance for your maidens.

Those who are diligent generally prosper, and those who are diligent in spiritual things shall have all that their souls need. They shall be clothed with the robe of righteousness, they shall be well fed, and shall be satisfied.

May the wisdom of these proverbs be given to us in daily life, so that we may be wise as serpents, and harmless as doves; but, above all, may heavenly wisdom be given to us in all spiritual things, to the praise of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ!

Spurgeon Sermons

These sermons from Charles Spurgeon are a series that is for reference and not necessarily a position of Answers in Genesis. Spurgeon did not entirely agree with six days of creation and dives into subjects that are beyond the AiG focus (e.g., Calvinism vs. Arminianism, modes of baptism, and so on).

Terms of Use

Modernized Edition of Spurgeon’s Sermons. Copyright © 2010, Larry and Marion Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario, Canada. Used by Answers in Genesis by permission of the copyright owner. The modernized edition of the material published in these sermons may not be reproduced or distributed by any electronic means without express written permission of the copyright owner. A limited license is hereby granted for the non-commercial printing and distribution of the material in hard copy form, provided this is done without charge to the recipient and the copyright information remains intact. Any charge or cost for distribution of the material is expressly forbidden under the terms of this limited license and automatically voids such permission. You may not prepare, manufacture, copy, use, promote, distribute, or sell a derivative work of the copyrighted work without the express written permission of the copyright owner.

Spurgeon Sermon Updates

Email me when new sermons are posted:

Privacy Policy

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Learn more

  • Customer Service 800.778.3390