Proverbs 14:34
Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.
Jump to: BarnesBensonBICambridgeClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctGaebeleinGSBGillGrayGuzikHaydockHastingsHomileticsJFBKDKellyKingLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWParkerPoolePulpitSermonSCOTTBWESTSK
(34) Righteousness.—See above, on Proverbs 10:2.

Proverbs 14:34. Righteousness exalteth a nation — A righteous administration of the government of it, impartial equity between man and man, public countenance given to religion, the general practice and profession of virtue, the protecting and preserving of virtuous men, mercy, humanity, and kindness to strangers and enemies: these things put honour upon a nation, and exalt it in the eyes of God, and of all other nations. But sin is a reproach to any people — Brings contempt and ruin upon them, by provoking both God and men against them.

14:18. Sin is the shame of sinners; but wisdom is the honour of the wise. 19. Even bad men acknowledge the excellency of God's people. 20. Friendship in the world is governed by self-interest. It is good to have God our Friend; he will not desert us. 21. To despise a man for his employment or appearance is a sin. 22. How wisely those consult their own interest, who not only do good, but devise it! 23. Labour of the head, or of the hand, will turn to some good account. But if men's religion runs all out in talk and noise, they will come to nothing. 24. The riches of men of wisdom and piety enlarge their usefulness. 25. An upright man will venture the displeasure of the greatest, to bring truth to light. 26,27. Those who fear the Lord so as to obey and serve him, have a strong ground of confidence, and will be preserved. Let us seek to this Fountain of life, that we may escape the snares of death. 28. Let all that wish well to the kingdom of Christ, do what they can, that many may be added to his church. 29. A mild, patient man is one that learns of Christ, who is Wisdom itself. Unbridled passion is folly made known. 30. An upright, contented, and benevolent mind, tends to health. 31. To oppress the poor is to reproach our Creator. 32. The wicked man has his soul forced from him; he dies in his sins, under the guilt and power of them. But godly men, though they have pain and some dread of death, have the blessed hope, which God, who cannot lie, has given them. 33. Wisdom possesses the heart, and thus regulates the affections and tempers. 34. Piety and holiness always promote industry, sobriety, and honesty. 35. The great King who reigns over heaven and earth, will reward faithful servants who honour his gospel by the proper discharge of the duties of their stations: he despises not the services of the lowest.Reproach - The word so rendered has this sense in the Targum of Leviticus 20:17. Its more usual meaning is "mercy," "piety;" hence, some have attached to the word rendered "sin" the sense of "sin-offering," and so get the maxim "piety is an atonement for the people." 34. Righteousness—just principles and actions.

exalteth—raises to honor.

is a reproach—brings on them the ill-will of others (compare Pr 13:6).

Exalteth a nation; maketh it honourable in the eyes of God, and of all other nations, as it did the ancient Romans.

A reproach to any people; brings contempt and ruin upon them by provoking both God and men against them.

Righteousness exalteth a nation,.... Administered by the government, and exercised by subjects towards one another; doing justice between man and man: this exalts a nation, as it did the people of Israel, while practised among them; this sets a people above their neighbours, and high in the esteem of God and men; and is attended with privileges and blessings, which make a nation great and honourable. Some understand this of aims deeds, or beneficence to the poor; which, both in the Hebrew and Greek languages, is called righteousness; See Gill on Matthew 6:1. It may be put for the whole of true religion, which is an honour to a nation, where it obtains; and is what makes the holy nation, and peculiar people, so truly illustrious; and particularly the righteousness of Christ makes such who are interested in it really great and noble, and promotes and exalts them to heaven and happiness;

but sin is a reproach to any people; where vice reigns, iniquity abounds, profaneness, impiety, and immorality of all sorts prevail, a people become mean and despicable; they fall into poverty and contempt; are neither able to defend themselves, nor help their neighbours, and so are despised by them. The word rendered "reproach" most commonly signifies "mercy" or goodness; and some render it, "and the mercy of a people is a sin offering" (p); or as one: or it is so "to the nations"; it is as good as a sacrifice for sin, of which the word is sometimes used, or better, more acceptable to God, "who will have mercy, and not sacrifice", Matthew 9:13; even beneficence and kindness to the poor, the same with righteousness, as before. I think it may be as well rendered, "the piety" or religion "of the nations is sin" (q); it being idolatry, as Aben Ezra observes: such is the religion of the antichristian nations, who worship idols of gold and silver; and though they may afflict themselves, as Gersom remarks of the idolatrous nations, with fasting and penance, with whippings and scourgings; yet it is nothing else but sin, will worship, and superstition.

(p) "beneficentia expiatio est populi", Grotius; "sacrificium expiatorium", Tigurine version; "velut sacrificium pro peccato", Vatablus, Gejerus; "gratuita beneificentia nationibus est aliquid sacrificium peccati expiatorium", Gussetius, p. 74. (q) "Pietas nationum est peccatium", Munster, Mercerus; "studium nationum peccatum", Cocceius.

Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.
Verse 34. - Righteousness exalteth a nation. "Righteousness" (Proverbs 10:2) is the rendering to all their due, whether to God or man. We are taught the salutary lesson that a nation's real greatness consists not in its conquests, magnificence, military or artistic skill, but in its observance of the requirements of justice and religion. Hesiod, Αργ. 223 -

Οἱ δὲ δίκας ξείνοισι καὶ ἐνδήμοισι διδοῦσιν
Ἰθείας καὶ μή τι παρεκβαίνουσι δικαίου
Τοῖσι τέθηλε πόλις λαοὶ δ ἀνθεῦσιν ἐν αὐτῇ But sin is a reproach to any people; to peoples. The words for "nation" (goi) and "peoples" (leummim) are usually applied to foreign nations rather than to the Hebrews; and Wordsworth sees here a statement a fortiori: if righteousness exalts and sin degrades heathen nations, how much more must this be the case with God's own people, who have clearer revelations and heavier responsibilities! חֶסֶד (chesed) occurs in the sense of "reproach," in Leviticus 20:17, and with a different punctuation in Proverbs 25:10 of this book. Its more usual meaning is "mercy" or "piety;" hence some have explained the clause: "The piety of the peoples, i.e. the worship of the heathen, is sin; and others, taking "sin" as put metonymically for "sin offering," render: "Piety is an atonement for the peoples." But there is no doubt that the Authorized Version is correct (comp. Proverbs 11:11). Thus Symmachus renders it by ὄνειδος, "shame;" and in the same sense the Chaldee Paraphrase. The Vulgate and Septuagint, owing to the common confusion of the letters daleth and resh, have read cheser instead of chesed, and render thus: Vulgate, "Sin makes peoples miserable;" Septuagint, "Sins diminish tribes." The sin of nations contrasted with the righteousness in the first clause must be injustice, impiety, and violence. See a grand passage in the fifth book of St. Augustine's 'De Civitate Dei,' ch. 12. Proverbs 14:34Two proverbs follow regarding the state and its ruler:

34 Righteousness exalteth a nation,

     And sin is a disgrace to the people.

The Hebr. language is richer in synonyms of "the people" than the German. גּוי (formed like the non-bibl. מוי, water, and נוי, corporealness, from גּוה, to extend itself from within outward; cf. Proverbs 9:3, גּפּי, Proverbs 10:13, גּו) is, according to the usus loq., like natio the people, as a mass swollen up from a common origin, and עם, 28a (from עמם, to bind), the people as a confederation held together by a common law; לאם (from לאם, to unite, bind together) is the mass (multitude) of the people, and is interchanged sometimes with גוי, Genesis 25:23, and sometimes with עם, Proverbs 14:28. In this proverb, לאמּים stands indeed intentionally in the plur., but not גוי, with the plur. of which גּוים, the idea of the non-Israelitish nations, too easily connects itself. The proverb means all nations without distinction, even Israel (cf. under Isaiah 1:4) not excluded. History everywhere confirms the principle, that not the numerical, nor the warlike, nor the political, nor yet the intellectual and the so-called civilized greatness, is the true greatness of a nation, and determines the condition of its future as one of progress; but this is its true greatness, that in its private, public, and international life, צדקה, i.e., conduct directed by the will of God, according to the norm of moral rectitude, rules and prevails. Righteousness, good manners, and piety are the things which secure to a nation a place of honour, while, on the contrary, חטּאת, sin, viz., prevailing, and more favoured and fostered than contended against in the consciousness of the moral problem of the state, is a disgrace to the people, i.e., it lowers them before God, and also before men who do not judge superficially or perversely, and also actually brings them down. רומם, to raise up, is to be understood after Isaiah 1:2, cf. Proverbs 23:4, and is to be punctuated תּרומם, with Munach of the penult., and the העמדה-sign with the Tsere of the last syllable. Ben-Naphtali punctuates thus: תּרומם. In 34b all the artifices of interpretation (from Nachmani to Schultens) are to be rejected, which interpret חסד as the Venet. (ἔλεος δὲ λαῶν ἁμαρτία) in its predominant Hebrew signification. It has here, as at Leviticus 20:17 (but not Job 6:14), the signification of the Syr. chesdho, opprobrium; the Targ. חסדּא, or more frequently חסּוּדא, as among Jewish interpreters, is recognised by Chanan'el and Rashbam. That this חסד is not foreign to the Mishle style, is seen from the fact that חסּד, Proverbs 25:10, is used in the sense of the Syr. chasedh. The synon. Syr. chasam, invidere, obtrectare, shows that these verbal stems are formed from the R. הס, stringere, to strike. Already it is in some measure perceived how חסד, Syr. chasadh, Arab. hasada, may acquire the meaning of violent love, and by the mediation of the jealousy which is connected with violent love, the signification of grudging, and thus of reproach and of envy; yet this is more manifest if one thinks of the root-signification stringere, in the meaning of loving, as referred to the subject, in the meanings of disgrace and envy, as from the subject directed to others. Ewald (51c) compares חסל and חסר, Ethiop. chasra, in the sense of carpere, and on the other side חסה in the sense of "to join;" but חסה does not mean to join (vid., Psalm 2:12) and instead of carpere, the idea more closely connected with the root is that of stringere, cf. stringere folia ex arboribus (Caesar), and stringere (to diminish, to squander, strip) rem ingluvie (Horace, Sat. i. 2. 8). The lxx has here read חסר (Proverbs 28:22), diminution, decay, instead of חסד (shame); the quid pro quo is not bad, the Syr. accepts it, and the miseros facit of Jerome, and Luther's verderben (destruction) corresponds with this phrase better than with the common traditional reading which Symmachus rightly renders by ὄνειδος.

Proverbs 14:34 Interlinear
Proverbs 14:34 Parallel Texts

Proverbs 14:34 NIV
Proverbs 14:34 NLT
Proverbs 14:34 ESV
Proverbs 14:34 NASB
Proverbs 14:34 KJV

Proverbs 14:34 Bible Apps
Proverbs 14:34 Parallel
Proverbs 14:34 Biblia Paralela
Proverbs 14:34 Chinese Bible
Proverbs 14:34 French Bible
Proverbs 14:34 German Bible

Bible Hub

Proverbs 14:33
Top of Page
Top of Page