Four Wicked Generations.
10 Accuse not a servant unto his master, lest he curse thee, and thou be found guilty. 11 There is a generation that curseth their father, and doth not bless their mother. 12 There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness. 13 There is a generation, O how lofty are their eyes! and their eyelids are lifted up. 14 There is a generation, whose teeth are as swords, and their jaw teeth as knives, to devour the poor from off the earth, and the needy from among men.
Here is, I. A caution not to abuse other people’s servants any more than our own, nor to make mischief between them and their masters, for it is an ill office, invidious, and what will make a man odious, v. 10. Consider,
1. It is an injury to the servant, whose poor condition makes him an object of pity, and therefore it is barbarous to add affliction to him that is afflicted: Hurt not a servant with thy tongue (so the margin reads it); for it argues a sordid disposition to smite any body secretly with the scourge of the tongue, especially a servant, who is not a match for us, and whom we should rather protect, if his master be severe with him, than exasperate him more.
2. “It will perhaps be an injury to thyself. If a servant be thus provoked, perhaps he will curse thee, will accuse thee and bring thee into trouble, or give thee an ill word and blemish thy reputation, or appeal to God against thee, and imprecate his wrath upon thee, who is the patron and protector of oppressed innocency.”
II. An account, upon occasion of this caution, of some wicked generations of men, that are justly abominable to all that are virtuous and good.
1. Such as are abusive to their parents, give them bad language and wish them ill, call them bad names and actually injure them. There is a generation of such; young men of that black character commonly herd together, and irritate one another against their parents. A generation of vipers those are who curse their natural parents, or their magistrates, or their ministers, because they cannot endure the yoke; and those are near of kin to them who, though they have not yet arrived at such a pitch of wickedness as to curse their parents, yet do not bless them, cannot give them a good word, and will not pray for them.
2. Such as are conceited of themselves, and, under a show and pretence of sanctity, hide from others, and perhaps from themselves too, abundance of reigning wickedness in secret (v. 12); they are pure in their own eyes, as if they were in all respects such as they should be. They have a very good opinion of themselves and their own character, that they are not only righteous, but rich and increased with goods (Rev. iii. 17), and yet are not cleansed from their filthiness, the filthiness of their hearts, which they pretend to be the best part of them. They are, it may be, swept and garnished, but they are not washed, nor sanctified; as the Pharisees that within were full of all uncleanness, Matt. xxiii. 25, 26.
3. Such as are haughty and scornful to those about them, v. 13. He speaks of them with amazement at their intolerable pride and insolence: “Oh how lofty are their eyes! With what disdain do they look upon their neighbours, as not worthy to be set with the dogs of their flock! What a distance do they expect every body should keep; and, when they look upon themselves, how do they strut and vaunt like the peacock, thinking they make themselves illustrious when really they make themselves ridiculous!” There is a generation of such, on whom he that resists the proud will pour contempt.
4. Such as are cruel to the poor and barbarous to all that lie at their mercy (v. 14); their teeth are iron and steel, swords and knives, instruments of cruelty, with which they devour the poor with the greatest pleasure imaginable, and as greedily as hungry men cut their meat and eat it. God has so ordered it that the poor we shall always have with us, that they shall never cease out of the land; but there are those who, because they hate to relieve them, would, if they could, abolish them from the earth, from among men, especially God’s poor. Some understand it of those who wound and ruin others by slanders and false accusations, and severe censures of their everlasting state; their tongues, and their teeth too (which are likewise organs of speech), are as swords and knives, Ps. lvii. 4.
– Matthew Henry Commentary