Verse 34. "But sin is a reproach to any people. " - I am satisfied this is not the sense of the original, tafj µymal dsjw vechesed leummim chattath; which would be better rendered, And mercy is a sin-offering for the people. The Vulgate has, Miseros autem facit populos peccatum, "sin makes the people wretched." elassonousi de fulav amartiai; "But sins lessen the tribes." - Septuagint. So also the Syriac and Arabic. The plain meaning of the original seems to be, A national disposition to mercy appears in the sight of God as a continual sin-offering. Not that it atones for the sin of the people; but, as a sin-offering is pleasing in the sight of the God of mercy, so is a merciful disposition in a nation. This view of the verse is consistent with the purest doctrines of free grace. And what is the true sense of the words, we should take at all hazards and consequences: we shall never trench upon a sound creed by a literal interpretation of God's words. No nation has more of this spirit than the British nation. It is true, we have too many sanguinary laws; but the spirit of the people is widely different.
If any one will contend for the common version, he has my consent; and I readily agree in the saying, Sin is the reproach of any people. It is the curse and scandal of man. Though I think what I have given is the true meaning of the text.
Verse 35. "The king's favour is toward a wise servant " - The king should have an intelligent man for his minister; a man of deep sense, sound judgment, and of a feeling, merciful disposition. He who has not the former will plunge the nation into difficulties; and he who has not the latter will embark her in disastrous wars. Most wars are occasioned by bad ministers, men of blood, who cannot be happy but in endeavouring to unchain the spirit of discord. Let every humane heart pray, Lord, scatter thou the people who delight in war! Amen-so be it. Selah!