Proverbs 11:1
Dishonest scales are an abomination to the LORD, but an accurate weight is His delight.
Sermons
Deception in BusinessR. Wardlaw.Proverbs 11:1
The False BalanceDean Alford.Proverbs 11:1
The Heinousness of Injustice Done Under the Pretence of EquityLaurence Echard, A.M.Proverbs 11:1
UprightnessH. Thorne.Proverbs 11:1
The Ways of Honour and of ShameE. Johnson Proverbs 11:1-11


I. JUSTICE AND INJUSTICE IN COMMON THINGS. Jehovah delights in "full weight," and abominates the tricky balance. This may be applied:

1. Literally, to commerce between man and man.

2. Figuratively, to all social relations in which we may give and receive. Work is only honest if thorough; if honest and thorough, it is religious. If principle be the basis of all our transactions, then what we do is done "unto the Lord, and not unto men." If we are indifferent to principle in the common transactions of the week, it is impossible to be really religious in anything or on any day.

II. HAUGHTINESS AND MODESTY. Extremes meet. The former topples over into shame; the latter is lifted into the heights of wisdom.

1. No feeling was more deeply stamped on the ancient mind than this. Among the Greeks hubris, among the Romans insolence, designated an offence peculiarly hateful in the eyes of Heaven. We see it reappearing in the songs and proverbs of the gospel: "He hath brought down the mighty from their seat, and exalted them of low degree;" "Every one that. humbleth himself shall be exalted; but he that exalteth himself shall be abased."

2. It is stamped upon all languages. Thus, in English, to be high, haughty, lofty, overbearing, are terms of censure; lowly, humble, terms of praise. In the German the words uebermuth, hochmuth, point to the same notion of excess and height in the temper.

3. At the same time, let us remember that the good temper may be counterfeited. Nothing is more easy than to suppose we have humbled ourselves by putting on a manner. Yet nothing is more detestable than the assumption of this particular manner. True humility springs from seeing ourselves as we are; pride, from nourishing a fanciful or ideal view of ourselves. Wisdom must begin with modesty; for a distorted or exaggerated view of self necessarily distorts our view of all that comes into relation with sell

III. RECTITUDE AND FAITHLESSNESS. (Ver. 3.) The former means guidance, for it is a clear light within the man's own breast; the latter, self destruction. As scriptural examples of the one side of the contrast, may be cited Joseph and Daniel; of the other, the latter, Saul, Absalom, Ahithophel, Ahab, and Ahaziah.

IV. RECTITUDE AND RICHES. (Ver. 4; see on Proverbs 10:2.)

1. Riches cannot purchase the grace of God, nor avert his judgments.

2. Rectitude, though not the first cause of salvation, is its necessary condition. To suppose that we can be saved from condemnation without being saved from sin is a gross superstition.

V. SELF-CONSERVATIVE AND SELF-DESTRUCTIVE HABITS. (Vers. 5, 6; comp. Proverbs 3:6; Proverbs 10:3.) Honesty and rectitude level the man's path before him; wickedness causes him to stumble and fall. Straightforwardness means deliverance out of dangers, perplexities, misconceptions; while the eager greed of the dishonest man creates distrust, embarrassment, inextricable difficulty.

"He that hath light within his own clear breast
May sit in the centre and enjoy bright day;
But he that hides a dark soul and foul thoughts,
Benighted walks under the midday sun;
Himself is his own dungeon."


(Milton.)

VI. HOPE AND DESPONDENCY IN DEATH. (Ver. 7.) The former seems implied. If the Old Testament says expressly so little about a future life, some of its sayings may be construed as allusions to and indications of it. It is little that we can know definitely of the future life. But the least we do know is that hope is inextinguishable in the good man's soul; it is its own witness, and "reaps not shame." But despondency and despair are the direct result of wicked living. To cease to hope is to cease to wish and to cease to fear. This must be the extinction of the soul in the most dreadful way in which we can conceive it.

VII. THE EXCHANGE OF PLACES FOLLOWS MORAL LAW. (Ver. 8.) The good man comes out of distress, and the evil becomes his substitute in sorrow. So with the Israelites and Pharaoh, a great typical example; so with Mordecai and Haman; with Daniel and his accusers. Great reversals of human judgments are to be expected; many that were last shall be first, and the first last.

VIII. THE SOCIAL PEST AND THE TRUE NEIGHBOUR. (Ver. 9.) The pernicious power of slander. The best people are most injured by it, as the best fruit is that which the birds have been pecking at; or, as the Tamil proverb says, "Stones are only thrown at the fruit-laden tree." The tongue of slander "out-venoms all the worms of Nile." It spares neither sex nor age, nor helplessness. It is the "foulest whelp of sin." It promotes nothing that, is good, but destroys much. Knowledge, on the other hand - in the form of sound sense, wide experience - if readily imparted, is a boon to all. And the best of boons, for gifts and charities soon lose their benefit, while a hint of wisdom lives and germinates in the mind in which it has been deposited.

IX. OBJECTS OF SYMPATHY AND ANTIPATHY. (Ver. 10.) Gladness follows the success of the good and the downfall of the evil. The popular feeling about men's lives, as manifested at critical periods of failure or success, is a moral index, and suggests moral lessons. There is a true sense in which the voice of the people is the voice of God. Compare the scene of joy which followed Hezekiah's success in the promotion of true religion (2 Chronicles 29, 30), and the misery under Ahaz (2 Chronicles 28); also the rejoicings on the completion of Nehemiah's work (Nehemiah 8); and for jubilation at evil men's deaths, Pharaoh, Sisera, Athaliah (Exodus 15; Judges 5; 2 Kings 11:13-20).

X. SOUND POLITICS AND PERNICIOUS COUNSELS. (Ver. 11.) The blessing, i.e. the beneficial principles and administration of good and wise men exalt a city (or state). On the other hand, unprincipled counsels, even if temporarily successful, lead in the end to ruin. "It is impossible," said Demosthenes, "O men of Athens, that a man who is unjust, perverse, and false should acquire a firm and established power. His policy may answer for once, may hold out for a brief period, and flourish marvellously in expectations, if it succeed; but in course of time it is found out, and rushes into ruin of its own weight. Just as the foundation of a house or the keel of a ship should be the strongest part of the structure, so does it behove that the sources and principles of public conduct should be true and just. This is not the case at the present time with the actions of Philip." Compare the examples of Elisha (2 Kings 13:14, etc.), Hezekiah, and Isaiah (2 Chronicles 32:20-23), on the one hand; and the Babel builders (Genesis 11:4-9) and the Ammonites (Ezekiel 25:3, 4) on the other; also Jeremiah 23:10; Hosea 4:2, 3. - J.









A false balance is an abomination to the Lord.
The proverbs of this book are often figurative, and of a very strong and extensive meaning. The words of the text imply the odiousness, not only of false weights or balances, but likewise of all things of the like nature and consequence; of all unfair and unfaithful actions; of all unequal and injurious proceedings. There are two kinds of injustice; the one open and barefaced, the other secret and disguised, so cunningly clothed and adorned, that it appears like justice itself. The text manifests the odiousness of this latter kind. A false balance is always made use of under the plausible pretence of doing justice, though it has the contrary effect. This latter kind of injustice is more abominable than the other.(1) In its nature. This is a complication of crimes and mischiefs, the other is simple injustice. This is always vile and ungenerous.(2) In its consequences. We have far less security against this kind of unjust actors, so that the mischiefs of it are more certain and inevitable. Force can repel force, but it cannot repel treachery. God does, in a great measure, reserve cases of this nature for His own peculiar tribunal in the great and dreadful day. This kind of injustice is an "abomination" to Him; the word implies an extraordinary degree of hatred and detestation.

(Laurence Echard, A.M.)

I. UPRIGHTNESS PORTRAYED.

1. Commercial integrity (ver. 1). There is an inspection of weights and measures going on daily of which few are cognisant. (Leviticus 19:35, 36). The God of heaven is a God of detail.

2. Lowliness of spirit (ver.2). Uprightness is not uppishness.

3. Integrity of purpose (ver.3). "The crooked, winding policy of ungodly men," says Scott, "involves them in increasing wickedness."

4. A right estimate of wealth (ver.4). The upright man will consider how his gains will look in the day of judgment.

II. UPRIGHTNESS REWARDED.

1. The favour of the Lord (ver. 1).

2. Guidance (ver. 3). He who does right will be rightly led (John 7:17; Psalm 112:4).

3. Deliverance (ver. 4).

4. The respect of others (ver. 10).

5. The good of others (ver. 11).

(H. Thorne.)

Text taken in literal and material sense, as applying to that great world of fraud and imposition and over-reaching in which we live, and the subject is our duty as Christians in the midst of it.

I. THE MANIFEST TRUTH OF THE ASSERTION OF THE TEXT, AND THE GROUNDS ON WHICH IT RESTS. God is a God of justice. Truth, pure and unspotted, is the very essence of the Divine character. Wherever there is deceit in the world, wherever injury, wherever oppression, there is God's anger and loathing accompanying it. The false balance, which is an abomination to the Lord, where do we not see it around us? From the powerful guides of public opinion, each assuming to be written in the interest of justice and truth, but each, almost without exception, warping justice and truth by false statements, false inferences, predetermined conclusions, down to the petty fraud, in measure and weight, which you will find in any chance shop you enter, certain known and avowed avoidances or disguises of truth, are every day practised, and acquiesced in as inevitable. The evil is in every class. But the mischief is not universal. But Christian men and women sin by tacit acquiescence in these wrong things.

II. HOW MAY WE REST SEPARATE OURSELVES FROM, AND DISCOURAGE THE FALSE BALANCE, AND UPHOLD AND CLEAVE TO THE JUST WEIGHT? We must not begin with mere practical details. The secret of all wrong is the false balance within the heart; the real cheating begins there. Is our estimate of men and things which guides our action the real and true one, or some artificial one, that is altogether wrong, and leading us altogether wrong? Men who know what is right are sometimes mixed up with the system of fraud. Why? Because they will not let recognised religious principle hold the balance nor regulate the estimate formed of the relative importance of men and things. "I must think," such a man says, "as others think; I must do as others do." If we would get rid of the false balance without, and in our streets and markets, we must begin within ourselves. Were buyers honest, sellers would, by compulsion, be honest too. Here the fault begins. Practical suggestions: conscientiously regulate the bestowal of employment and patronage: there are certain signs by which even the dull of discernment may discern the tokens of fraud and pretension. Be not an admirer of the system of universal cheapness.

(Dean Alford.)

Many are pleased at the dexterity with which they practise their deceptions. The fraud is undiscovered, and being undiscovered, is unfelt by those on whom it is practised, and what is never known and never felt can be no harm. So they think. But God sees it, and He estimates the action on no such principle; nor is it the principle on which you would estimate it were you the party defrauded. You have no idea, in your own case, of admitting that what is not missed is not lost; or that the cleverness of the fraud is any palliation of it. You do not think the better of the merchant with his "balances of deceit," that the unfairness of the balance is ingeniously concealed. You do not regard it as a compensation for the property abstracted from your plundered house or warehouse, that the impression of your keys has been adroitly obtained, or the mode of entrance skilfully devised and expertly executed. You do not approve the laws of ancient Sparta which, to encourage cleverness and sleight of hand, rewarded instead of punishing the youthful thief who could steal without detection. Depend upon it, if you plume yourself on the dexterity with which you have contrived and executed a plan for cozening your neighbour, it will be no palliation with God, nor will any amount of such dexterity produce any abatement of His sentence of condemnation. It is the moral principle, or want of principle, in which the evil lies, and the very measure of thought and contrivance expended for the purpose of ensuring success in the contravention of God's law, instead of diminishing, will serve to aggravate your guilt in His sight. The "abomination" will be only the more loathsome.

(R. Wardlaw.)

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