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v. 1. Through desire a man, having separated himself, seeketh and intermeddleth with all wisdom, rather, "After his own desire seeketh the odd person, against all sound counsel he setteth himself," that is, he who goes his own way out of selfish opposition to everything that is established among men seeks only his own selfish interest in life.
v. 2. A fool hath no delight in understanding, his pleasure not being set that way, but that his heart may discover itself, display the wisdom which he imagines to be there, for he believes it to be his duty to let the world know his greatness in this respect.
v. 3. When the wicked cometh, then cometh also contempt, for such a person considers himself above submission to others and therefore is lacking in both reverence and forbearance, and with ignominy reproach, for the wicked must display his assumed superiority by treating all those not in his favor with studied contempt.
v. 4. The words of a man's mouth are as deep waters, hard to fathom and exhaust, if he really has something to say, and the well-spring of wisdom as a flowing brook, literally, "a bubbling brook," a fountain of wisdom, rich in content and life-giving in quality.
v. 5. It is not good to accept the person of the wicked, to favor him in any way, especially in a court case, to overthrow the righteous in judgment, so that he loses his case on account of the partiality of the judge.
v. 6. A fool's lips enter into contention, bring on a quarrel, and his mouth calleth for strokes, he challenges and provokes the punishment which strikes him.
v. 7. A fool's mouth, on account of his quarrelsome disposition, is his destruction, it brings ruin upon him, and his lips are the snare of his soul, his rash language causes trouble for himself.
v. 8. The words of a talebearer are as wounds, rather, as sweet morsels, or, as pastime, eagerly grasped and swallowed by those who listen to slander, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly, gladly accepted and remembered.
v. 9. He also that is slothful in his work, who does not apply himself to it with all diligence, is brother to him that is a great waster, a squanderer; the two are closely related, since in either case possessions are lost.
v. 10. The name of the Lord is a strong tower, he who relies upon Jehovah as He has revealed Himself in His Word has a stronghold of safest protection; the righteous, he who by faith places his confidence in the Lord, runneth into it and is safe, gains a high and sheltered position, where the enemies can do him no harm.
v. 11. The rich man's wealth is his strong city and as an high wall in his own conceit, his own foolish imagination; for it is not a tower like the name of the Lord.
v. 12. Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, pride going before the fall, and before honor is humility, preceding it like a herald showing the way. cf Proverbs 16:18; Proverbs 15:33.
v. 13. He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, before a careful hearing of both sides enables him to reach a right and just conclusion, it is folly and shame unto him, for an opinion not based upon sound investigation is worse than worthless, Ecclesiastes 11:8.
v. 14. The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity, a strong and courageous mind supporting him in bodily sickness or weakness; but a wounded spirit, one bowed and broken by adversity, who can bear? It is a more difficult matter to bear up under the infirmities of the soul, the griefs, sorrows, troubles, and tribulations which affect the inner life than to overcome the effects of bodily weakness.
v. 15. The heart of the prudent getteth knowledge, working for its possession, ready for its reception, and the ear of the wise seeketh knowledge, eager to serve the heart and the inner life in the acquisition of true wisdom.
v. 16. A man's gift, sent before him to procure favor for him, maketh room for him, giving him ready access to the one whose favor he is seeking, and bringeth him before great men, for it opens the doors of the mighty before him, this being true not only in the Orient, but also in the midst of our Western civilization.
v. 17. He that is first in his own cause seemeth just, that is, a person believes himself to be altogether in the right in any disputed matter before he has heard the other side; but his neighbor cometh and searcheth him, makes him submit to a new examination concerning the matter at issue, thereby bringing the truth to light and reversing the original opinion.
v. 18. The lot, as used by the Jews according to law, causeth contentions to cease, for the Lord Himself guided the result, and parteth between the mighty, deciding the matter between them and thus preventing bloody quarrels.
v. 19. A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city, or if he has been estranged by some deliberate offense, by a breach of faith, he will look upon every attempt at adjustment with suspicion; and their contentions are like the bars of a castle, quarrels between former friends are the most stubborn obstructions to a reconciliation.
v. 20. A man's belly shall be satisfied with the fruit of his mouth, his whole body will have to bear the consequences of his speeches; and with the increase of his ups shall he be filled, it will come back to him as it has gone forth from his mouth.
v. 21. Death and life are in the power of the tongue, that is, the one or the other will be the fate of man, in agreement with the manner in which he used his tongue; and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof, experiencing in themselves the effects of its good use and of its abuse.
v. 22. Whoso findeth a wife, the words implying an earnest and wise search, findeth a goad thing, for a virtuous wife is a true helpmeet for man, and obtaineth favor of the Lord, for such a wife is abundant evidence of the Lord' s merciful kindness and truly belongs in the Fourth Petition.
v. 23. The poor useth intreaties, his poverty and the lowliness of his station compelling him to show all meekness in dealing with those in power; but the rich, depending upon the respect which is universally given to great possessions, answereth roughly, feeling himself privileged to do so on account of his wealth.
v. 24. A man that hath friends must show himself friendly, rather, a man who has all the world for his friend will fail in true friendship, for he will hardly stand up for well-defined principles; and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother, one who will be tested in adversity and found sound, for the proof of friendship is if it stands the test of trouble.
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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Proverbs 18". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25