Proverbs 22:8
He who sows injustice will reap disaster, and the rod of his fury will be destroyed.
Human LifeHomilistProverbs 22:8
Sowing Wild OatsTom Hughes.Proverbs 22:8
The Husbandry and Harvest. of the WickedS. Hieron.Proverbs 22:8
Wild OatsD. J. Burrell, D.D.Proverbs 22:8
The Good NameE. Johnson Proverbs 22:1-16
Means to the Preservation of the Good NameE. Johnson Proverbs 22:6-12

I. EARLY TRAINING. (Ver. 6.) The young twig must be early bent. Experience teaches us that nothing in the world is so mighty for good or evil as custom; and therefore, says Lord Bacon, "since custom is the principal magistrate of man's life, let man by all means endeavour to obtain good customs. Custom is most perfect when it beginneth in young years; this we call education, which is in effect but an early custom. The tongue is more pliant to all expressions and sounds, the joints more supple to all feats of activity and motions, in youth than afterwards. Those minds are rare which do not show to their latest days the ply and impress they have received as children."

II. INDEPENDENCE. (Ver. 7.) How strongly was the worth of this felt in those ancient times! Poverty and responsibility to others are to be avoided. Many are forced into distress of conscience and to the loss of a good name by being tempted, for the wake of the rich man's gold or the great man's smile, to vote contrary to their convictions. Others will sell their liberty to gratify their luxury. It is an honest ambition to enjoy a competence that shall enable one to afford to be honest, and have the luxury of the freest expression of opinion. Hence frugality becomes so clear a moral duty.

III. INTEGRITY. (Ver. 8.) Ill-gotten gains cannot prosper. "The evil which issues from thy mouth falls into thy bosom," says the Spanish proverb. The rod wherewith the violent and unjust man struck others is broken to pieces.

IV. NEIGHBOURLY LOVE (Ver. 9.) "Charity gives itself rich, covetousness hoards itself poor," says the German proverb. "Give alms, that thy children may not ask them," says a Danish proverb. "Drawn wells are never dry." So give today, that thou mayest have to give tomorrow; and to one, that thou mayest have to give to another. Let us remember, with the Italian proverb, that "our last robe is made without pockets." Above all, if our case is that "silver and gold we have none, let us freely substitute the kindly looks and the healing words, which are worth much and cost little."

V. A PEACEFUL TEMPER. (Ver. 10.) Let the scoffing, envious, contentious temper be cast out of our breast first. As for others, let us strike, if possible, at the cause and root of strife. Let there be solid argument for the doubter, and practical relief for actual grievances. Let us learn from the old fable, and follow the part of Epimetheus, who, when evils flew abroad from the box of Pandora, shut the lid and kept hope at the bottom of the vessel.

VI. A FAITHFUL AND CONSTANT HEART. (Ver. 11.) The greatest treasure to an earthly monarch, and dear above all to the King of kings. "He who serves God serves a good Master." Grace and truth are upon the lips of God's Anointed forevermore. And to clench these proverbs, let us recollect that nothing but truth in the inward parts can abide before the eye of Jehovah. "A lie has no legs." It carries along with itself the germs of its own dissolution. It is sure to destroy itself at last. Its priests may prop it up, after it has once fallen in the presence of the truth; but it will fall again, like Dagon, more shamefully and irretrievably than before. Truth is the daughter of God (Trench). - J.

He that soweth iniquity shall reap vanity.
I. WHAT IS IT TO SOW INIQUITY? or, to "sow to the flesh"? To follow only such a kind of life as a man's own carnal and corrupt humour leads unto. It is called "sowing" because —

1. Before sowing goes the dressing and manuring of the ground; and men make themselves ready beforehand to do evil.

2. Ploughing and sowing are accompanied with much industry. And great is the diligence of the ungodly in the furtherance of iniquity.

3. Sowing, though laborious, is full of contentment. And the ungodly find joy in doing naughtily.

4. In sowing there go many seeds together, one handful after another. In the lives of the wicked there are plenty of evils; they never go alone — one maketh way for another.

5. After sowing the ground is harrowed, and the seed covered. So when evil is entertained in the heart, what policy there is to secrete it.Sowing iniquity is discerned by these signs:

1. A cherishing and encouraging the heart to evil.

2. A taking pains to do naughtily.

3. A delighting in wickedness.

4. A heaping of one sin on the neck of another.

5. A plotting for the bringing of evil to perfection.

6. A withstanding of all means tending to recovery.

II. WHAT ARE THE TROUBLES WHICH FOLLOW ON THIS SOWING OF INIQUITY? The affliction here meant is either in this life or hereafter. That which is in this life is either outward or inward. Diseases, discredit, etc. A conscience full of inward vexation; and sometimes a reprobate mind. The term "reap" indicates the fulness and certainty of the affliction. Two points of doctrine taught —

1. The greatness of God's patience.

2. The certainty of His justice.

(S. Hieron.)

"He that soweth iniquity shall reap calamity" (R.V.). The fashion of never calling a spade a spade is known as "euphemism." According to it death is paying the debt of nature, stealing is misappropriation, lying is prevarication. A trace of it is found in the expression, "sowing one's wild oats." The phrase is intended to comprehend pretty much all the vices of young manhood. We are all sowing something or other. Some sow the fine wheat of kindly lives and generous deeds. Others go heedlessly sowing the wind. It would be well, all around, if there were less of sentimentalism and more of sound common sense with respect to the follies of our fast young men. Never were two greater mistakes made than are embodied in these two excuses, "Boys will be boys," and "He'll live it down; I'm sure he'll live it down." Paul directs our attention to the two levels of life — the low level of the flesh; the higher level of the spirit, where are men who live not for themselves only, but for the good of others and the glory of God. For all who are building character and making their lives tell for truth and righteousness, there are three safeguards — conscience, the sense of honour, and faith. There is no hope that the vicious young man will live his evil down. Sin works a terrible damage. It rots one's self-respect; it pollutes the memory. It indisposes the soul for better things. It enslaves in the fetters of habit. It ruins the body. It destroys the soul. But no matter what the mistakes of our past lives have been, if we repent the Lord is ready to forgive.

(D. J. Burrell, D.D.)

I. THE INEVITABLE WORK OF HUMAN LIFE. What is the work? It is that of moral agriculture-sowing and reaping. Every man in every act of life is doing this. Every volition, whether it takes the form of a thought, a word, or a muscular act, is a seed. There is a germ of imperishable life in it. What seeds men sow every day. What bushels they deposit in the moral soil of their being. But they reap as well as sow every day. What was sown yesterday they reap to-day. "Men are living in the fruits of their doings." The law of causation is inviolate and ever operative within them.

II. THE RETRIBUTIVE LAW OF HUMAN LIFE. What you sow you'll reap.

1. What you sow in kind you reap. "He that soweth iniquity shall reap vanity." Job says, "They that plough iniquity and sow wickedness reap the same " (Job 4:8). Paul (Galatians 6:7, 8). God will not reverse the law.

2. What you sow in measure you shall reap. Not a grain will be lost. Sometimes the seed which the husbandman commits to the soil rots. But not a grain in the harvest of life is lost. He will reap the richest harvest of blessedness who is most active in deeds of love and godliness. The words present —

III. THE TERRIBLE MISTAKE OF HUMAN LIFE. What is the mistake? "Sowing iniquity."

1. This is a general mistake.

2. This is a mistake which men are slow to learn.

3. This is a mistake whose ultimate consequences will be terrific.And the rod of his anger shall fail; or, as in the margin, "With the rod of his anger shall he be consumed." Perhaps this expression refers to the tyrannic power exercised by wealthy men, as referred to in the preceding verse. Death shall wrest the rod from his hands. God shall break it to pieces; and his tyranny and iniquity shall leave him nothing but shame, remorse, and the fruits of Divine vengeance.


In all the wide range of accepted British maxims there is none, take it for all in all, more thoroughly abominable than that "a young man must sow his wild oats." Look at it on what side you will, and you can make nothing but a devil's maxim of it. What a man — be he young, old, or middle-aged — sows, that, and nothing else, shall he reap. The one only thing to do with wild oats is to put them carefully into the hottest part of the fire, and get them burnt to dust, every seed of them. If you sow them, no matter in what ground, up they will come, with long, tough roots like couch-grass, and luxuriant stalks and leaves, assure as there is a sun in heaven — a crop which it turns one's heart cold to think of. The devil, too, whose special crop they are, will see that they thrive; and you, and nobody else, will have to reap them; and no common reaping will get them out of the soil, which must be dug down deep again and again. Well for you if, with all your care, you can make the ground sweet again by your dying day. "Boys will be boys" is not much better, but that has a true side to it; but this encouragement to the sowing of wild oats is simply devilish, for it means that a young man is to give way to the temptations and follow the lusts of his age. What are we to do with the wild oats of manhood and old age — with ambition, overreaching, the false weights, hardness, suspicion, avarice — if the wild oats of youth are to be sown, and not burnt? What possible difference can we draw between them? If we may sow the one, why not the other?

(Tom Hughes.)

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