Proverbs 17:2
(2) A wise servant shall have rule over a son that causeth shame. . . .--This was strikingly exhibited in the case of Ziba, who by his timely succour to David (2 Samuel 16), first gained all the property of his master, Mephibosheth (i.e., the "man of shame"), and was later confirmed in the possession of half of it. Slaves, especially those "born in the house," often rose to a position of great trust. (Comp. Genesis 24:2; Genesis 39:4-6.) Eliezer would have been Abraham's heir had not Isaac been born (Genesis 15:3).

Verse 2. - A wise servant shall have rule over a son that causeth shame. Here is intimated the supremacy of wisdom over folly and vice. The contrast is better emphasized by translating, A servant that dealeth wisely shall have rule over a son that doeth shamefully; i.e. a son of his master. (For similar contrast between "wise" and "shameful," comp. Proverbs 10:5; Proverbs 14:35.) Slaves were often raised to high honour, and might inherit their master's possessions. Thus Abraham's servant, Eliezer of Damascus, was at one time considered the patriarch's heir (Genesis 15:2, 3); Ziba, Saul's servant, obtained the inheritance of his lord Mephibosheth ("the Shameful," 2 Samuel 16:4); Joseph was advanced to the highest post in Egypt. Ecclus. 10:25, "Unto the servant that is wise shall they that are free do service; and he that is wise will not grudge when he is reformed." Septuagint, "A wise household servant shall rule over foolish masters." "I have seen," says Ecelesiastes (Ecclesiastes 10:7), "servants upon horses, and princes walking as servants upon the earth." Shall have part of the inheritance among the brethren; shall share on equal terms with the sons of the house. This innovation on the usual disposition of property could happen only in the case of an abnormally intelligent and trusted slave. In 1 Chronicles 2:34, etc., mention is made of a case where a master, having no son, gave his daughter in marriage to a slave, and adopted him into the family. Delitzsch understands the clause to mean that the slave shall have the office of dividing his master's inheritance among the heirs, shall be the executor of his deceased master's will; but this explanation hardly seems to do justice to the merits of the "wise servant," and takes no account of the idea involved in "shameful son." But the Septuagint appears to countenance this view, rendering, "and among the brethren he shall divide the portions."

17:1 These words recommend family love and peace, as needful for the comfort of human life. 2. The wise servant is more deserving, and more likely to appear one of the family, than a profligate son. 3. God tries the heart by affliction. He thus has often shown the sin remaining in the heart of the believer.A wise servant shall have rule over a son that causeth shame,.... That does wicked and shameful actions: that is slothful, and will not attend to instruction or business; that is prodigal, wasteful, and luxurious, and causes shame to his parents, who blush at his conduct. Now a servant that behaves well and wisely in a family is observed and respected by his master, and he puts his wicked and extravagant son under him, makes him a tutor to him, and sets him to watch over him, and obliges his son to obey his orders. Jarchi illustrates this in Nebuchadnezzar ruling over the children of Israel;

and shall have part of the inheritance among the brethren; be appointed by his master's will to a share in his estate among his children, for his faithful service to him in life, and to encourage him to take care of his family, his children, and his affairs, after his death; or through gifts in his lifetime shall have what is equal to what his sons have; or growing rich shall purchase a part of theirs, as Gussetius (y): or "shall part the inheritance among the brethren" (z); being a wise man, his master shall leave him executor of his will, to divide his substance among his children, and see that everyone have their proper portion and equal share; but it rather is to be understood of his being a co-heir with them. So the Gentiles, through the will of the Lord, become fellow heirs of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ with the Jews, and share in the same inheritance with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and their children; nay, when the children of the kingdom shall be shut out; see Ephesians 3:6. Jarchi gives an ancient exposition of it thus,

"a proselyte of righteousness is better than a wicked native; and in time to come he shall divide the spoil and the inheritance in the midst of the children of Israel, at it is said in Ezekiel 47:23;''

(y) Ebr. Comment. p. 263. (z) "dividet", Mercerus, Gejerus, Michaelis; so Syriac version and the Targum; "partitur", Junius & Tremellius; "partieur", Piscator.

Proverbs 17:1
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