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These are also proverbs of Solomon, which the men of Hezekiah king of Judah copied out.
Proverbs 25:1-28. Here begins the third part of the whole book: a selection from the 3,000 proverbs which Solomon spoke (1 Kings 4:32; Ecclesiastes 12:9), copied out nearly 300 years after by "the men of Hezekiah" (perhaps Isaiah and Micah, Shebnah and Joah, 2 Kin. 28:18 ). The bringing forth of the Word of God from its obscurity was a fitting accompaniment of the reformation which that good king undertook (2 Chronicles 31:21; cf. 2 Chronicles 29:1-36 and 2 Chron
30), as in that effected by Josiah subsequently. Frequent quotations from this part in the New Testament stamp its canonicity (cf. Proverbs 25:5-7 with Luke 14:8-10; Proverbs 25:22 with Romans 12:20; Proverbs 26:11 with 2 Peter 2:22; Proverbs 22:1 with James 4:13-14: cf. Introduction to Proverbs).
These (are) also proverbs ... the men of Hezekiah ... copied out. The "also" implies Solomon's authorship of these, no less than of the preceding proverbs. The Holy Spirit did not appoint all Solomon's proverbs indiscriminately to be put into the canon for all ages, but a selection suited for the ends of revelation. How unwise is the indiscriminate publication in biographies of all that good men have written or spoken!
It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter.
(It is) the glory of God to conceal a thing - to conceal His profound counsels and decrees wherewith He governs all things (Romans 11:33). He reveals enough of His blessed nature and counsels for faith to rest upon, not to satisfy the curiosity of irreverent self-conceit (Deuteronomy 29:29). He hath none to whom He is bound to render an account of His ways. 'Hence appears the audacity of those who permit God to do nothing except what falls under the comprehension of their petty minds; whereas He would not be God if His counsels and works did not transcend human intelligence' (T. Cartwright; Psalms 77:19; Psalms 36:6). 'Rather stand on the shore and silently admire, than enter into the deep' (Leighton; 1 Peter 2:8).
But the honour of kings is to search out a matter - unlike God, who knows all things without 'searching' (Ezekiel 4:15-17; Ezekiel 5:17; Ezekiel 6:1). Contrast Job 11:7-9. Kings must use all means to search out a true policy, and to judge aright in difficult cases; as Solomon did, 1 Kings 3:16-28; cf. Job 29:16. Hence, they were bound to write out a copy of the law for their daily direction (Deuteronomy 17:18-19).
The heaven for height, and the earth for depth, and the heart of kings is unsearchable.
The heaven for height ... and the heart of kings is unsearchable. As the height of heaven, and the depth of the earth, so the heart of kings is unsearchable. Whereas the king's honour is to search out many things; his own heart, or deeper counsels of state, cannot be searched out by his subjects. The governed must not 'speak evil of the things that they understand not' (2 Peter 2:10; 2 Peter 2:12; Jude 1:8; Jude 1:10).
Take away the dross from the silver, and there shall come forth a vessel for the finer.
The finer - the melter; the goldsmith.
Take away the wicked (from) before the king. Bad ministers and counselors must be taken away from the king if his throne is to 'be established in righteousness;' just as the dross must he taken from the gold, if a pure and shining vessel is to come forth for the goldsmith. Impunity in evil turns the moral silver itself into dross (Isaiah 1:22).
Put not forth thyself in the presence of the king, and stand not in the place of great men:
Put not forth thyself in the presence of the king. Do not magnify or glorify thyself before a king (so the Hebrew), for kings like to shine alone in their circle, and are impatient of others affecting eminence beside them.
And stand not in the place of great men - taking a position which thou hast no right to.
For better it is that it be said unto thee, Come up hither; than that thou shouldest be put lower in the presence of the prince whom thine eyes have seen.
For better (it is) that it be said unto thee, Come up hither (quoted in Luke 14:8-10 ) than ... be put lower in the presence of the prince whom thine eyes have seen. - i:e., whom thou hast placed thyself unduly so near as familiarly to see him. The nearer thou wast to him (by thine arrogance) the greater the disgrace of being put far from him, he looking on. Kings in the East separate themselves far from even those whom they admit into their presence.
Go not forth hastily to strive, lest thou know not what to do in the end thereof, when thy neighbour hath put thee to shame.
Go not forth hastily to strive, lest (thou know not) what to do in the end - (Proverbs 17:14.) Amaziah did not anticipate the shameful "end," or he would not have gone forth hastily to strive with Joash (2 Kings 14:8-14). So Josiah as to Pharaoh (2 Chronicles 35:20-24).
Debate thy cause with thy neighbour himself; and discover not a secret to another:
Debate thy cause with thy neighbour (himself), and discover not a secret to another. Even when thy cause of debate is just, go and deal directly with the principal, instead of 'discovering to another' the offence which ought to be "a secret" (Matthew 18:15). When third parties intervene, the pride of the principal is roused not to yield. So Abraham with Lot (Genesis 12:6-9), and with Abimelech (Genesis 21:25-32); Jepthah with the King of Ammon (Judges 11:12-27). Do not blacken your adversary's character to establish that you are right in the quarrel. Mention only what is to the point at issue; not other things committed to you as secrets, or which, however known, ought to be kept secret. To tell one's own secrets is folly; to tell our neighbour's secrets is treachery. Disputants too often bring forward everything, however irrelevant.
Lest he that heareth it put thee to shame, and thine infamy turn not away.
Lest he that heareth (it) (thee revealing thy neighbour's secret) put thee to shame. The 'infamy' of a backbiter will cleave to thy name, and secrets to thine own "shame" will be disclosed in retaliation.
A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.
A word fitly spoken - Hebrew, spoken upon its two wheels; a word moving quickly on its wheels to the end aimed at the speaker commanding his words with a happy adaptation to the circumstances and exigency, as a charioteer commands his steeds. Gesenius takes it, 'A word spoken in (according to) its due time:' time's revolution being often compared to a revolving wheel. Maurer accounts for the dual, that the present time is the turning point between two times, the past and the future. The Hebrew for 'upon' [ `al (H5921)] may also mean according to.
(Is like) apples of gold in pictures of silver - apples of gold enclosed in settings of silver; the silver outside being figured with open filagree-work through which the gold within shines the more strikingly from its partial concealment behind the silver. Gejer takes it, literal golden apples, or quinces, or citrons, attractive to the eye by the colour, to the nose by the odour, to the palate by the taste, served up in vessels of elaborately figured silver (literally, 'in figures of silver').
As an earring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold, so is a wise reprover upon an obedient ear.
(As) an earring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold, (so is) a wise reprover upon an obedient ear. Wise and seasonable reproof is a precious jewel to him who admits it.
As the cold of snow in the time of harvest, so is a faithful messenger to them that send him: for he refresheth the soul of his masters.
As ... snow in ... harvest, (so is) a faithful messenger ... for he refresheth the soul of his masters. As drink cooled with snow refreshes the thirsty in harvest heat, so a messenger that has faithfully executed his commission relieves of anxiety the mind of the master that has sent him (contrast Proverbs 10:26).
Whoso boasteth himself of a false gift is like clouds and wind without rain.
Whose boasteth himself of a false gift - raising expectations by promises which he never fulfills.
(Is like) clouds and wind without rain. Clouds and wind (the South and West winds) indicate rain. If, notwithstanding, none comes, they deceive hopes (1 Kings 18:45).
By long forbearing is a prince persuaded, and a soft tongue breaketh the bone.
By long forbearing is a prince (whose anger is more violent and despotic) persuaded - much more is a private individual.
A soft tongue breaketh the bone - breaketh a heart hard as bone, (Proverbs 15:1; Genesis 32:4 etc.; Judges 8:2-3; 1 Samuel 25:24, etc.) So Issachar "crouching down instead of kicking against the "two burdens" (Genesis 49:14). 'It is a common error that the shortest road to peace is to howl with wolves, and give back curse for curse' (Cartwright).
Hast thou found honey? eat so much as is sufficient for thee, lest thou be filled therewith, and vomit it.
Hast thou found honey? eat so much as is sufficient for thee, lest thou be filled therewith, and vomit it.
Use lawful delights of this world in moderation; for immoderate use will sicken thee spiritually (cf. the instance, Proverbs 25:17). 'Honey is to be tasted with the finger-end, not with the hollow of the hand' (Diongsius Milesius).
Withdraw thy foot from thy neighbour's house; lest he be weary of thee, and so hate thee.
Withdraw (Hebrew, Make rare) thy foot from thy neighbour's house; lest he be weary of thee. Do not make thyself too common, for things, common are thought less of than things 'rare.' Do not come at an unseasonable time, or to pry into his family concerns, or to ask his help too often. Not intimacy, but intrusiveness, is to be shunned. 'How much better is God's friendship than man's. We are the more welcome to God the oftener we come to Him' (Cartwright).
A man that beareth false witness against his neighbour is a maul, and a sword, and a sharp arrow.
A maul - a heavy hammer or mace used in war (Jeremiah 50:23, note; 51:20; 2:1); literally, that which scatters in pieces (cf. note, Proverbs 12:18).
Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a broken tooth, and a foot out of joint. Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble (is like) a broken tooth - which has its place among the other teeth, but which, when you want its help in mastication, only gives you pain instead of help.
As he that taketh away a garment in cold weather, and as vinegar upon nitre, so is he that singeth songs to an heavy heart.
(As) he that taketh away a garment (an outer or upper garment) in cold weather, (and as) vinegar upon nitre, so is he that singeth songs to an heavy heart. Nitre or natron (Hebrew, nether, from nathar, to dissolve) is potash; this, mixed with oil, was used as soap (Jeremiah 2:22). Vinegar poured on it causes it to effervesce and lose its force. As the "nitre" takes ill the admixture of vinegar, as opposed and alien to it, so joyous songs are incongruous to an heavy heart (Psalms 132:4; Daniel 6:18).
If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink:
If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread. Quoted in Romans 12:20; Exodus 23:4-5; cf. Introduction to Poetical Books.
For thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the LORD shall reward thee.
For thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head - melting him into sorrow, pain, and shame, at having been thine enemy. Either be shall be like wax melted by fire, or like clay hardened by it. In either case, "the Lord shall reward thee."
The Lord shall reward thee. Even if thy love fail to melt him, thy labour will not be lost; it will redound to thy good (cf. Psalms 35:13; Luke 10:5).
The north wind driveth away rain: so doth an angry countenance a backbiting tongue.
The north wind driveth away rain; so (doth) an angry countenance a backbiting tongue. So Vulgate. The north wind usually produces fair weather (Job 37:22). The Hebrew for "driveth away" ( tªchowleel (H2342)) is, literally, to cause to grieve, so to put to flight. But the Syriac and Chaldaic translate, as the Hebrew also means, to give birth to (from the pain of childbirth): 'The north wind bringeth forth, so, (doth) a backbiting tongue an angry countenance'-namely, on the part of him so backbitten toward the backbiter; also on the part of the hearer of the secret slander toward the object of the slander. The English version gives an excellent idea: If you do not listen to, but frown on, the backbiter, you put him to silence. The receiver of slanders gives impetus to, and shares the guilt of, the slanderer (Romans 1:32). Backbiters would have no place if there were not ears itching to hear their tales.
It is better to dwell in the corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman and in a wide house.
No JFB commentary on this verse.
As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country.
(As) cold waters to (literally, upon; cf. Isaiah 44:3 ) a thirsty soul, so (is) good news from a far country - (cf. Proverbs 25:13.) Such were "the good tidings of great joy" (Luke 2:10) brought by the angels from heaven to the shepherds. The exile hails with rapture the good news from his distant country of permission to return. Such is the effect of the Gospel message when accepted by any sinner long exiled from his Father's home.
A righteous man falling down before the wicked is as a troubled fountain, and a corrupt spring. A righteous man falling down before the wicked is as a troubled fountain, and a corrupt spring.
A righteous man falling down before the wicked (is as) a troubled fountain. The righteous, in ceasing to reprove the wicked through fear or favour, not only falls himself, but injures others by his example. He who had been before as a limpid fountain, or "well of life" (Proverbs 10:11) for cleansing, refreshing, healing others, now ceases to pour forth pure counsels. Gejer takes it of the righteous falling by oppression of the wicked. But the comparison to "a corrupt spring" implies degeneracy rather than oppression.
It is not good to eat much honey: so for men to search their own glory is not glory.
(It is) not good to eat much honey (Proverbs 25:16 ); so (for men) to search their own glory (is not) glory.
Glory follows him that seeks it not. The English version supplies "not" in the second clause from the first, as often happens (cf. Psalms 9:18). To be humble when glory unsought comes to us, and to attribute all glory to God, is our wisdom. Compare the awful warning (Acts 12:23); also Jesus' example (John 5:30; John 5:41; John 5:44; John 12:43).
He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.
He that (hath) no rule over his own spirit - (contrast Proverbs 16:32.) Rule over not only hastiness in anger, but also over lusts, is implied. Prayerful, watchful self-control is the wall of the city; and we should see that there is no breach made in it by self-reliance or spiritual indolence.
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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Proverbs 25". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 8 / Ordinary 13