All the brothers of the poor do hate him: how much more do his friends go far from him? he pursues them with words…
This verse prescribes a different method of proceeding against known offenders, according to their different characters. The scorner, who makes a jest of everything sacred, and professes an open contempt of religion, is to be treated with great severity. As to sinners who have not resolved to shut their eyes against the light of truth, we are directed to apply ourselves to them in a more easy, gentle, and humane method of reproof.
I. THE REASONABLENESS OF EMPLOYING THE SECULAR ARM AGAINST THE SCORNER. A sense of religion is the great basis upon which all government stands. The scorner is, therefore, an enemy to the state. The scorner who laughs at the very name and pretence of conscience itself has no claim on the toleration of the state.
II. THE OBLIGATIONS WE ARE UNDER TO THE DUTY OF FRATERNAL REPROOF.
1. The obligation of a just concern for the honour and interests of religion. The sins and impieties of men bring a scandal and discredit upon religion. To admonish and reprove them for such sins and impieties is a proper means to prevent that scandal and promote the interests of religion. This is one of the methods which the wisdom of God Himself has appointed in order to reclaim sinners from the evil of their ways. As the wisdom of God has directed this method, societies have been formed by men to concert how it may be most effectually pursued.
2. From the charity we owe to our neighbour. It is to a good man one of the greatest pleasures of this life to do good; then what an exceeding pleasure it must be to be instrumental in recovering a lost soul.
(1) Great tenderness and compassion must be used, to give our reproof the greater force and efficacy.
(2) Our reproofs must be modest, and free from all hypocritical ostentations.
(3) Avoid exposing the offender as much as the rule of charity will admit.
(4) Do not give admonitions to superiors the air of reproof.
(5) Take care that reproof is seasonable.If this be a duty of so great a nicety, we ought not rashly and unadvisedly to take it in hand, but to consider well whether we be in any good measure qualified for it. Those who find themselves really qualified for it ought not to be discouraged from performing it, though it sometimes expose them to inconvenience or make them incur the odium of those with whom they take so unacceptable a freedom. Let us resolve to discharge a good conscience, and leave the consequences of doing our duty to the disposal of God.
(R. Fiddes, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: All the brethren of the poor do hate him: how much more do his friends go far from him? he pursueth them with words, yet they are wanting to him.
WEB: All the relatives of the poor shun him: how much more do his friends avoid him! He pursues them with pleas, but they are gone.