Proverbs 17

Various observations of moral virtues and their contrary vices.

1BETTER is a drya morsel, and quietness therewith, than an house full of 1sacrifices with 2strife.

a Prov. 15:17.

1 Hebr. slaughter. The Hebrew word, for the most part, signifies beasts that are killed for sacrifice, but it signifies also those that are made ready for food and for a banquet or feast, as here and Gen. 31:54. See the annotation there.

2 Hebr. of strife, that is, where there is strife withal.

2A wise servant shall have rule over a son 3that causeth shame, and shall have part of the inheritance 4among the brethren.

3 Compare Prov. 10 on verse 5.

4 The sense is: that he, among the brethren of the ashamed son, shall also carry away a part of the inheritance. Others understand that he, being as tutor of the children and of those who are respected, shall also be entrusted the administration of their goods and consequently the endowment of their inheritances.

3Theb5finingc pot is for silver, and the 6furnace for gold: butd7the LORD trieth the hearts.

b Prov. 27:21.

5 By the fining pot here, is meant a vessel, wherein silver is melted and refined. Also Prov. 27:21.

c refining

6 Namely, wherein silver, tin, copper, etc. is melted and refined. See Ezek. 22:18, 19, 20, etc.

d Jer. 17:10.

7 Meaning, the Lord alone. Men may indeed examine by their art silver and gold, to know whether it be good or bad, but none can search into the heart of man, save God alone.

4 A 8wicked doer giveth heed 9to false lips; and a 10liar giveth ear to a 11naughtye tongue.

8 That is, he who does evil to his neighbor, or is prone to do evil.

9 Hebr. lip of unrighteousness; namely, which shows how a man may commit iniquity or unrighteousness, and hurt his neighbor.

10 Hebr. falsehood, or lies, that is, he who uses falsehood or lies. See Job 35 on verse 13.

11 Hebr. tongue of perverseness (in the plural), that is, which speak perverse things. See Prov. 2 on verse 12. Other, hearing the lie in the perverse tongue.

e worthless, bad

5Whosof12mocketh the poor 13reproacheth his Maker: and he that is glad at 14calamities shall not be 15unpunished.

f Prov. 14:31.

12 Namely, either in gestures, words or deeds. Compare Prov. 14:31.

13 That is, dishonors God, Who not only created poor man, but also visits and exercises him through poverty and misery.

14 Namely, of his neighbor. See Prov. 24:17.

15 That is, guiltless. See 1 Kings 2 on verse 9.

616Children’s children are the 17crown of old men; and the glory of children 18are their fathers.

16 Namely, who are wise and godly; in whom the parents, that are old, enjoy the blessing of God; of whom see Psalm 127:3; 128:3.

17 That is, ornament. See Prov. 12 on verse 4.

18 For, it is an honorable thing to be born of honest and religious parents.

719Excellent speech becometh not a 20fool: much less do lying lips a prince.

19 Hebr. a lip of excellence, or eminence, that is, an excellent speech or sentence, treating of excellent and transcendent things, as of wisdom and virtue. Also is in the following words: Hebr. a lip of falsehood, a false speech.

20 That is, a wicked fool, who is fallen away from all wisdom, honesty and virtue. See 1 Sam. 25 on verse 25.

8A gift is as 21a precious stone in the eyes of 22him that hath it: whithersoever 23it turneth, it 24prospereth.

21 Hebr. a stone of grace, that is, as a gracious and precious stone or pearl, which for its beauty and preciousness is usually very delightful and pleasant.

22 That is, him who is disposed to receive it, or who has already received it, and now does possess it. See of this word Gen. 14 on verse 13.

23 Namely, the gift, by the disposing and offering of the giver. Other, whithersoever he (namely, the giver or owner) shall turn himself, he shall have prosperity.

24 That is, it shall perform something with him who receives it, to the benefit and advantage of the giver. Solomon does not speak here of what must be done, but of what is wont to be done.

9He that 25covereth a 26transgression 27seeketh love; but he that repeateth a 28matter separateth 29very friends.

25 Namely, by forgetting, and forgiving it.

26 Namely, which is committed against him by his neighbor. Compare Prov. 10:12.

27 That is, he endeavors to feed and maintain the love wherewith he is loved of his friend.

28 Or, the word, namely, of the transgression.

29 See Prov. 16 on verse 28.

10A reproof entereth more into a wise man than an hundred 30stripes into a fool.

30 Namely, to bring him to amendment.

1131An evil man seeketh only 32rebellion: therefore a 33cruel messenger shall be 34sent against him.

31 Or, The rebellious person seeketh only evil. Hebr. the rebellious, that is, he who is exceeding rebellious. See Job 35 on verse 13. Also above verse 4, falsehood, for false person. Understand him who is rebellious against God, and against those who are set over him. Other, The evil man seeketh only, or, surely rebellion.

32 Namely, that he may do it to his neighbor, and especially to the godly man.

33 Namely, Satan, or some grievous plague, or judgment, which God uses as His executioners.

34 Namely, of God.

1235Let a bear robbed of her whelpsg meet a man, rather than a fool 36in his folly.

35 The meaning is: that there is less danger in meeting a bear in his raging cruelty, than to meet a fool, etc.

g bear cub*

36 That is, when by his folly he is driven on to all unreasonable and raging passions.

13Whosoh rewardeth evil for good, 37evil shall not depart from his 38house.

h Deut. 32:35; Prov. 20:22; 24:29; Rom. 12:17; 1 Thes. 5:15; 1 Peter 3:9.

37 Namely, the evil of punishment. See Gen. 19 on verse 19.

38 That is, from his household or family. See Gen. 7 on verse 1. Or, from his generation and posterity, namely, who imitate and follow his sins. See 1 Kings 14 on verse 10.

1439Thei beginning of strife is as when 40one letteth out water: therefore leave off contention, before 41it be 42meddled with.

39 That is, who starts the quarrel or the dispute.

i Prov. 20:3.

40 That is, who lets in the water, by opening the sluice, or breaking the dam, whereby it is withheld from breaking violently; for, as long as this opening or breach lasts, there is no stopping of the water from running, yea, the passage of it grows still wider and wider.

41 Namely, strife or contention.

42 Or, be mingled, namely, who are drawn into it, and are troubled with or about it. Or, before thou mingle thyself with it, or, meddle with it.

15Hej that 43justifieth the wicked, and he that 44condemneth the just, 45even they both are abomination to the LORD.

j Exod. 23:7; Prov. 24:24; Isa. 5:23.

43 That is, clears and pronounces them just and righteous. See Gen. 44 on verse 16; Deut. 25 on verse 1.

44 That is, pronounces them unrighteous, guilty and worthy to be punished. See Deut. 25 on verse 1.

45 That is, the one as well as the other, both in like manner. See the same phrase Prov. 20:10, 12.

16Wherefore is there a 46price in the hand of a fool 47to get wisdom, seeing he hath no 48heart to it?

46 That is, wealth, and the means to learn arts and sciences.

47 Namely, as other things, which may always be had for money or goods; as if wisdom and learning were altogether such, and were also in like manner to be obtained by everyone, even by very fools.

48 That is, understanding. Hebr. heart. See Job 9 on verse 4. He speaks of understanding whereby one is capable to desire wisdom earnestly, to apprehend it deeply, and to use it profitably.

1749A friend loveth 50at all times, and 51a brother is 52born for adversity.

49 Namely, he who is a true friend, that is, who shows kindness and faithfulness to his friend, Gen. 24:29, and who loves truth and peace, Zech. 8:19.

50 Not only in prosperity, but also in adversity.

51 That is, one who shows true brotherly love, to help his friend out of trouble, or at least to give him some ease in it, according to his power.

52 That is, sent by God’s Providence and brought to light, so that in adversity or distress, it plainly appears who it is that is a true brother. Other, a brother is born against distress, namely, to assist a man in it; or, and he (namely, the friend) is born a brother in distress.

18A man void of understanding 53striketh hands,kand becometh 54surety 55in the presence of 56his friend.

53 See Prov. 6 on verse 1.

k clasp hands concluding an agreement

54 Or, promising surety.

55 Hebr. before the face of, that is, in the presence of. Other, before.

56 Meaning: the creditor, for whose security the surety binds himself to pay, in case the party principal fail. Others understand the debtor, for whom the suretyship is entered into.

19He loveth transgression 57that loveth strife: and hel that exalteth 58his gate 59seeketh 60destruction.

57 The reason is, because contention is a source of many sins, which the contentious person, by his actions, seems to love.

l Prov. 16:18.

58 Namely, the door of his building which he has raised high. This latter clause is to be understood as a common proverb of those who go above their estate, in apparel or otherwise. For as an house that is built very high is oftentimes subject to fall, so shall a man, who lifts up himself above his estate and despises his neighbor whom he seeks to oppress by strives and contentions, often get a cruel and terrible fall.

59 See Prov. 8 on verse 36.

60 That is, damage. Also Prov. 16:18.

20He that hath a 61froward heart findeth 62no good: and he that hath a 63perverse tongue falleth into mischief.

61 Or, perverse. See Prov. 6 on verse 14.

62 Compare Prov. 16:20 and the annotation.

63 See Prov. 2 on verse 12.

21He that begetteth 64a fool doeth it to his sorrow: and the father of a 65fool hath no joy.

64 That is, one who will in time be a fool.

65 See of this word fool verse 7.

22 Am merry heart doeth 66good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the 67bones.

m Prov. 15:13.

66 That is, powerful, efficacious, that it may do the body good. Compare the phrase with Prov. 15:2. Other, shall do good as a medicine, namely, to the body, to keep and preserve it in good health. Or, maketh good medicine, namely, which causes the body to prosper.

67 That is, the most inward members and powers of the body. See Job 7 on verse 15.

23A wicked man taketh a gift out of 68the bosom 69to pervert 70the ways of judgment.

68 Namely, of him who presents it; that is, he will take it privily and in secret; for, no man would be willingly known to be such a one who perverts judgment. Compare Prov. 16 on verse 33.

69 That is, this is to wrest the impartial course of action of justice and equity which must be held in places of judicature. Compare Exod. 23:2.

70 Compare Prov. 18:5; 21:14; Isa. 10:2; Amos 5:12.

24Wisdom is 71beforen him that hath understanding; but 72the eyes of a fool are in the ends of the earth.

71 That is, wisdom is seen in the very eyes of a man of understanding when a man looks upon the steadiness of his eyes, the modesty of his countenance, the shamefacedness of his looks. Others understand this thus: that wisdom is always present with those who have understanding, and is not far to seek; or, that they have it always ready before their eyes to order themselves according unto it, Eccl. 2:14.

n Eccl. 2:14; 8:1.

72 That is, a fool’s look moves and wanders to and fro into all corners. The flying or straying eyes are a sign of the vanity and instability of the mind. Other, the fool looketh everywhere to find wisdom, but all in vain, Prov. 14:6.

25 Ao foolish son is a grief to his father, and 73bitterness to her that bare him.

o Prov. 10:1; 15:20; 19:13.

73 Hebr. bitterness, that is, a cause of sorrow, which is of a most bitter taste unto her heart. See 2 Kings 4 on verse 27.

2674Also to punish the 75just is 76not good, nor to strike princes 77for equity.

74 That is, not only the wicked, but also the godly; or, it is not good to set a fine upon the righteous, much less to inflict corporal punishment upon them wrongfully and undeservedly.

75 That is, the guiltless or innocent person.

76 That is, it is very bad, unseemly and be good for nothing. Also Prov. 18:5; 19:2; 20:23. It is also said not evil for that which is good, Prov. 31:12.

77 Or, beyond or against right or equity.

27He that hath 78knowledge spareth his words: and a man of understanding is of an 79excellent spirit.

78 That is, he who has good and sound understanding.

79 That is, precious and cautious in mind, not rashly and thoughtlessly dispersing whatsoever he knows or has in his heart. Other, is cool in spirit, or of a cool mind, that is, free from passions or perturbations and slow to speak. See of the word spirit, taken in this sense, 2 Kings 19:7; Prov. 29:11. See the annotations.

28Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.