He that begets a fool does it to his sorrow: and the father of a fool has no joy.…
We may divide them into the sorrowful, the joyous, and the mixed experiences.
I. SAD EXPERIENCES. The sorrow of thankless children. (Vers. 21, 25.) To name it is enough for thereto who have known it. It has its analogue in Divine places. How pathetically does the Bible speak of the grief of God over the rebellious children he has nourished and brought up! and of Christ's lamentation as of a mother over Jerusalem! Let us remember that our innocent earthly sorrows are reflected in the bosom of our God.
II. JOYOUS EXPERIENCES. (Ver. 22.) The blessing of a cheerful heart, who can overprize it in relation to personal health, to social charm and helpfulness? Contrasted with the troubled spirit, like a parching fever in the bones, it is the perpetual sap of life and source of all its greenness and its fruit. A simple faith is the best known source of cheerfulness. It was a fine remark of a good friend of Dr. Johnson's, that "he had tried to be a philosopher, but somehow always found cheerfulness creeping in."
III. MIXED EXPERIENCES OF HUMAN CHARACTER.
1. The briber. (Ver. 23.) How strongly marked is this sin in the denunciations of the Bible! and yet how little the practice seems affected in a land which boasts above others of its love for the Bible! The stealth and so the shame, the evil motive, the perverse result, all are branded here. "He that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes, he shall dwell on high" (Isaiah 33:15).
2. The quick perception of wisdom and the warning glance of folly. The one sees before him what is to be known or done at once; the other is lost in cloudy musings. The more a man gapes after vanity, the more foolish the heart becomes. In religion we see this temper in the restless roving to and fro, the constant query, "Who will show us any good?" "He is full of business at church; a stranger at home; a sceptic abroad; an observer in the street; everywhere a fool.
3. Harshness in judges. (Ver. 26.) Fining and flogging are mentioned. The writer had observed some such scene with the horror of a just man. Inequity or inhumanity in the judge seems an insult against the eternal throne of Jehovah.
4. The wisdom of a calm temper and economy of words. (Vers. 27, 28.) An anxiety to talk is the mark of a shallow mind. The knowledge of the season of silence and reserve may be compared to the wisdom of the general who knows when to keep his forces back and when to launch them at the foe. The composed spirit comes from the knowledge that truth will prevail in one way or another, and the time for our utterance will arrive. Lastly, the wisdom of silence, so often preached by great men. Even the fool may gain some credit for wisdom which he does not possess by holding his tongue; and this is an index of the reality. Our great example here is the silence of Jesus, continued for thirty years; out of that silence a voice at length proceeded that will ever vibrate through the world. - J.
Parallel VersesKJV: He that begetteth a fool doeth it to his sorrow: and the father of a fool hath no joy.