The Pulpit Commentary

Proverbs 15:8 (Proverbs 15:8)

The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination unto the Lord. The costly sacrifice of the wicked is contrasted with the prayer , unaccompanied with sacrifice, of the upright . The first clause occurs again in Proverbs 21:27 , and virtually in Proverbs 28:9 . But in the latter passage the prayer of the wicked is denounced as abomination. Sacrifice, as legal and ceremonial, would be more naturally open to the charge of deadness and unreality; while prayer, as spontaneous and not legally enjoined, might be deemed less liable to for realism; all the more hateful, therefore, it is if not offered from the heart. The worthlessness of external worship without obedience and devotion of the heart is often urged by the prophets (see 1 Samuel 15:22 ; Isaiah 1:11 , etc.; Jeremiah 6:20 ; Hosea 5:6 ; Amos 5:22 ; see also Ec 31:18, etc.). The lesson was needed that the value of sacrifice depended upon the mind and disposition of the offerer, the tendency being to rest in the opus operatum, as if the external action was all that was necessary to make the worshipper accepted. This text was wrested by the Donatists to support their notion of the inefficacy of heretical baptism. St. Augustine replied that the validity of the sacrament depended not on the spiritual condition of the minister, but on the appointment of Christ. The text has also been applied to confirm the opinion that all the acts of unjustified man are sin. The truer view is that God's grace does act beyond the limits of his visible Church, and that the inspiration of the Holy Spirit concurs with the free will of man before he is formally justified. The second clause recurs virtually in verse 29.

- The Pulpit Commentary

Proverbs 15:8-9 (Proverbs 15:8-9)

God's hatreds and God's delights

We all have our aversions, natural antipathies, acquired hatreds. A noted author not long ago published a book called 'Mes Haines.' What are the hatreds of him who is Love? They should be our aversions.

I. THE SACRIFICE OF THE WICKED . ( Proverbs 15:8 .) It is not the man's works which make him good, but the justified man—the man made right with God—produces good works, and these, though imperfect, are well pleasing to God. The lack of heart sincerity must stamp every sacrifice, as that of Cain, as an abomination.

II. THE PRAYER OF THE GOOD MAN . Symbolized by fragrant incense, sweet to him are pious thoughts, wishes for the best, charitable aspirations, all that in the finite heart aims at the Infinite.

III. THE WAY OF THE WICKED . A prayerless life is a godless, and hence a corrupt life. It is a meaningless life, and God will not tolerate what is insignificant in his vast significant world.

IV. THE PURSUIT OF GOOD . He who hunts after righteousness, literally, is loved of God. We learn the necessity of patience, constancy, diligence in well doing. In no other way can genuineness and thoroughness be shown.—J.

- The Pulpit Commentary

Proverbs 15:8-9 (Proverbs 15:8-9)

With whom God is pleased

With whom is God well pleased? A great question, that has had many answers. The statement of the text gives us—


1 . Their whole life is grievous to him. "The way of the wicked is an abomination," etc. And this, not because they hold some erroneous opinions, nor because they make many serious mistakes, nor because they are betrayed into occasional transgressions; but because they determinately withhold themselves from his service; because they claim and exercise the right to dispose of their own life according to their own will; because they deliberately disregard the will of God. They are thus in a state of fixed rebellion against his rule, of settled disavowal of his claims upon them, of consequent neglect of his holy Law. Therefore their entire course or "way" is one of disobedience and disloyalty; it must be painful, grievous, even "abominable" in the sight of the Holy One.

2 . Their worship is wholly unacceptable to him. If we "regard iniquity is our heart, the Lord will not hear us" ( Psalms 50:16-22 ; Psalms 66:18 ; Isaiah 1:15 ). God "desireth truth in the inward parts;" he cannot and will not accept as of any value whatever the offering that comes from a heart in a state of determined disloyalty to himself and hatred of his law.

3 . Their worship is positively offensive. It is "an abomination" unto him. And it is so, because:


1 . Who they are.

2 . With what, in them, God is well pleased.

- The Pulpit Commentary