The sentiment of the preceding verse is here carried on and confirmed. The liberal soul; literally, the soul of blessings, the man that blesses others by giving liberally. Shall be made fat ( Proverbs 13:4 ; Proverbs 28:25 ). The term is used of the rich and prosperous ( Psalms 22:29 ). Septuagint, "Every simple soul is blessed." He that watereth —benefits and refreshes others— shall be watered also himself; shall receive the blessing which he imparts. The Vulgate introduces another idea, Qui inebriat, ipse quoque inebriabitur, where the verb implies rather abundance than excess, as in Proverbs 5:19 , etc. The Septuagint departs widely from the present text: "A passionate man is not graceful" ( εὐσχήμων ), i.e. is ugly in appearance and manner—a sentiment which may be very true, but it is not clear how it found its way into the passage. St. Chrysostom comments upon it in 'Hom.' 17, on St. John. There are some Eastern proverbs on the stewardship of the rich. When a good man gets riches, it is like fruit falling into the midst of the village. The riches of the good are like water turned into a rice field. The good, like clouds, receive only to give away. The rivers themselves drink not their water; nor do the trees eat their own sweet fruit, and the clouds eat not the crops. The garment in which you clothe another will last longer than that in which you clothe yourself. Who gives alms sows one and reaps a thousand.
The narrow and the large heart
I. THRIFTY SPENDING . All wise outlay of money is a form of thrift, The increase of capital depends upon the observance of certain laws and rules of prudence; and the prudence which enables to amass enables also to spend. Spending in works of benevolence is seldom known to impoverish a man, for it is seldom disjoined from calculation and economy in personal habits. But whether we can trace out the manner of the connection in every instance or not, it is real and profound. Wise distribution is the condition of steady increase. In the highest point of view benevolence is a "lending to the Lord."
II. UNTHRIFTY SAVING . Niggardliness tends to poverty, because it stints the energies. It springs from a false view of the value of money, or an exaggerated view. The true source of happiness, as of wealth, lies at last in the will, its energy, its industry. He who has so little faith in this as to put all his reliance on the mere means of living, may well become poor outwardly, as he certainly is inwardly.
III. THE SATISFACTION OF DOING GOOD . Here, again, we must look to the reflex effect of actions, The indirect results are the wider and the more important. From every free forth-going of the heart in acts of love and kindness there is a certain return into the heart. It is not sufficiently considered that whatever gives expansion to the mind—large views, broad sympathies—is so much gain in actual power. And again, that we cannot directly do much towards the removal of our own troubles, but obliquely may quell or diminish them by aiming at removing the troubles of others. Fulness of interests in the heart will not give room for grief to gnaw.
IV. SELFISHNESS AND GENEROSITY IN COMMERCE . ( Proverbs 11:26 .) In time of dearth the avaricious proprietor, keeping back his corn to secure a higher price, brings down upon himself curses; while he who thinks of humanity more than of personal profit earns the blessings of the poor. The maxim that "business is business" is true, but may be pushed too far. If a trader profits by a war or scarcity, that is an accident; but it is not an accident, it is a crime, if he votes for war or interferes with the natural action of the market with a view to personal gain. If the same conditions of trade make the man rich which impoverish the many, he will feel it to be his duty to give the more out of his abundance.—J.
The pricelessness of integrity
We have here a view of the exceeding worth of moral integrity, or of righteousness; we see what, in the judgment of the wise, it will do for its possessor. It will—
I. DIRECT HIS WAY . "The integrity of the upright shall guide them; …the righteousness of the perfect [ i.e. the upright] shall direct his way" ( Proverbs 11:3-5 ). And we read. ( Proverbs 10:9 ) that "he that walketh uprightly walketh surely." The man who honestly and earnestly seeks guidance of God will find what he seeks; he will know what he should do, and whither he should go, and how he should act, in the various relations of life. Instead of moving onwards and backwards, instead of inclining this way and that, he will walk straight on in the highway of justice, purity, devotion. And he will walk "surely." It is not in the way of holiness that the snares of sin or the stumbling blocks of folly are scattered about.
II. DELIVER HIM IN DANGER OR DISTRESS . ( Proverbs 11:4 , Proverbs 11:8 , Proverbs 11:9 .) "Many are the afflictions" even "of the righteous," but "the Lord delivereth him," etc.; "Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness" ( Psalms 112:4 ). Righteousness brings deliverance in many ways.
1 . It secures the favour, and thus the merciful interposisition, of the Almighty.
2 . It commands the esteem, and thus the succour, of the good and true.
3 . It confers mental and physical vigour on its subjects, and makes them strong for the day of peril and of need.
4 . It endows with those moral qualities—conscientiousness, consciousness of rectitude, courage, patience, hopefulness, perseverance—which lead to victory.
III. MAKE HIM THE SOURCE OF ENLARGEMENT TO OTHERS . "The city is exalted" ( Proverbs 11:11 ). Every man is something the better for the integrity of his neighbor; and the contribution of many righteous men to the exaltation and enlargement of the city, or the Church, or the society, is very great. They are the salt which preserves it; they are the fountain and the garner which supply its need and minister to its strength.
IV. PROMOTE HIS PROSPERITY . ( Proverbs 11:28 , Proverbs 11:31 .) As a rule, upon the whole, the righteous man will prosper and be recompensed "on the earth." Sobriety, purity, justice, prudence; in fact, integrity conducts to well being now and here.
V. SECURE FOR HIM THE GOOD PLEASURE OF THE HIGHEST . ( Proverbs 11:20 .) What a recompense is this—"to be a delight unto the Lord," to "have this testimony, that he pleases God"! What a reward of the purest and most enduring kind to the Christian man, that he is "pleasing Christ," is living every day in the sunshine of his Lord's approval!
VI. ISSUES IN THE FULNESS OF LIFE . "He that is steadfast in righteousness shall attain unto life."
1 . Unto the fulness of spiritual life below; nearness of access to God; a real approval by God and of delight in him; constancy of service rendered unto him; growing likeness to his Divine spirit and character.
2 . Unto the fulness of eternal life hereafter.—C.
Expensive economy, etc
We am accustomed to speak as if the man who spends freely is a spendthrift, and as if the man who restrains his hand is on the way to wealth. But if that is our thought, we am often and much mistaken. There is an—
I. EXPENSIVE ECONOMY . "There is that withholdeth," etc.
1 . If we keep back the wage that is due to the workman, we shall miss the blessing that goes with justice, and suffer the curse which attends injustice ( James 5:1 4).
2 . If we keep back the corn we should sow more plentifully, or the strength we should expend more liberally, or the mental power we should employ more patiently and systematically, we shall reap less bountifully, we shall make less profit, we shall do less work in the spiritual sphere. "He that soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly" ( 2 Corinthians 9:6 ).
3 . If we shut up our thought and our care to our own heart, or even our own home, we shall lose all the harvest of love and blessing we might reap if we did not withhold ourselves from those outside our door. It is a poor economy, indeed, that hides its talent in a napkin.
II. PROFITABLE EXPENDITURE . There is a bound beyond which we should not go in putting forth our resources, physical, pecuniary, mental, spiritual What that limit is every one must decide for himself. Regard should certainly be had to the preservation of health and to the necessity for replenishment. But we may often wisely and rightly go very much further than we do; and if we did we should find that we were liberally repaid. Our scattering would mean increase, our liberality would mean nourishment, our endeavour to enrich others would result in our own growth and ripeness; watering them, we should ourselves be watered. This is true of:
1 . Human sympathy and love. The friendly man makes many friends; and to have true friends is to be blessed indeed.
2 . The energetic pursuit of our vocation, whatever it may be. It is the man who throws his full energies into his work who is repaid in the end.
3 . Generous helpfulness. Give money, time, thought, counsel, whatever you have to give, unto those who need it, unto the young, the ignorant, the baffled and beaten, the unfortunate, the slain in life's battlefield; and there shall come back to you that which will be far more valuable than anything or all that you have expended. There shall come to you
III. THE SUPERIOR CLAIM . ( Proverbs 11:26 .) A man has a right to do the best he can for himself; the best, even, for his own purse, though that is saying something very different and much less. But this right may soon be traversed. It is so crossed when a man cannot go any further without injuring his brethren; that bars his way; obligation limits claim. In other words, the claim of our fellow men is greater far than that of our individual self. When the people are lacking bread, we may not hold back our corn. God has given us our powers and our resources, not that we may build up a fortune, but that we may be of true service in a world which is full of need. To grow rich is not at all necessary to any one, and proves to be a curse to multitudes; to feed the hungry, to minister to want and sorrow, to still the cry of pain or perishing, to make glad the heart and bright the life,—that is the real privilege and heritage of man.—C.