Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.
Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips.
Another - An "alienus" rather than "alius." Praise to be worth anything must be altogether independent.
A stone is heavy, and the sand weighty; but a fool's wrath is heavier than them both.
Compare Ecclus. 22:15; a like comparison between the heaviest material burdens and the more intolerable load of unreasoning passion.
Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?
Envy - Better, as in the margin, the violence of passion in the husband who thinks himself wronged (compare Proverbs 6:34).
Open rebuke is better than secret love.
Secret love - Better, love that is hidden; i. e., love which never shows itself in this one way of rebuking faults. Rebuke, whether from friend or foe, is better than such love.
Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.
Deceitful - Better, abundant. Very lavish is the enemy of the kisses that cover perfidy, but lavish of them only. His courtesy goes no deeper.
The full soul loatheth an honeycomb; but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.
The special instance covers the general law, that indulgence in pleasure of any kind brings on satiety and weariness, but self-restraint multiplies the sources of enjoyment.
As a bird that wandereth from her nest, so is a man that wandereth from his place.
Change of place is thought of as in itself an evil. It is not easy for the man to find another home or the bird another nest. The maxim is characteristic of the earlier stages of Hebrew history, before exile and travel had made change of country a more familiar thing. Compare the feeling which made the thought of being "a fugitive and a vagabond" Genesis 4:12-13 the most terrible of all punishments.
Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man's friend by hearty counsel.
Thine own friend, and thy father's friend, forsake not; neither go into thy brother's house in the day of thy calamity: for better is a neighbour that is near than a brother far off.
"Better is a neighbor" who is really "near" in heart and spirit, than a brother who though closer by blood, is "far off" in feeling.
My son, be wise, and make my heart glad, that I may answer him that reproacheth me.
The voice of the teacher to his true disciple. He pleads with him that the uprightness of the scholar will be the truest answer to all attacks on the character or teaching of the master.
A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished.
Compare the marginal reference.
Take his garment that is surety for a stranger, and take a pledge of him for a strange woman.
He that blesseth his friend with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, it shall be counted a curse to him.
The picture of the ostentatious flatterer going at daybreak to pour out blessings on his patron. For any good that he does, for any thanks he gets, he might as well utter curses.
A continual dropping in a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike.
Continual dropping - Here, as in the marginal reference, the flat, earthen roof of Eastern houses, always liable to cracks and leakage, supplies the groundwork of the similitude.
Whosoever hideth her hideth the wind, and the ointment of his right hand, which bewrayeth itself.
The point is the impossibility of concealment or restraint. A person cannot hide the wind, or clasp it in his hands. If he takes an unguent in his right hand, the odor betrays him, or it slips out. So, in like manner, the "contentious woman" is one whose faults it is impossible either to hide or check. The difficulty of the proverb led to a different reading, adopted by the versions, "The north wind is rough, and yet it is called propitious"; it clears off the clouds and brings fine weather.
Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.
The proverb expresses the gain of mutual counsel as found in clear, well-defined thoughts. Two minds, thus acting on each other, become more acute. This is better than to see in "sharpening" the idea of provoking, and the point of the maxim in the fact that the quarrels of those who have been friends are bitter in proportion to their previous intimacy.
Whoso keepeth the fig tree shall eat the fruit thereof: so he that waiteth on his master shall be honoured.
Waiteth - literally, "keepeth," "observeth." As the fig tree requires constant care but yields abundant crops, so the ministrations of a faithful servant will not be without their due reward. Compare 2 Timothy 2:6.
As in water face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man.
As we see our own face when we look on the mirror-like surface of the water, so in every heart of man we may see our own likeness. In spite of all diversities we come upon the common human nature in which we all alike share. Others see in the reference to the reflection in the water the thought that we judge of others by ourselves, find them faithful or the reverse, as we ourselves are.
Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.
Hades, the world of the dead, and Destruction (Death, the destroying power, personified) have been at all times and in all countries thought of as all-devouring, insatiable (compare the marginal reference). Yet one thing is equally so, the lust of the eye, the restless craving which grows with what it feeds on Ecclesiastes 1:8.
As the fining pot for silver, and the furnace for gold; so is a man to his praise.
So is ... - Better, So let a man be to his praise, let him purify it from all the alloy of flattery and baseness with which it is too probably mixed up.
Though thou shouldest bray a fool in a mortar among wheat with a pestle, yet will not his foolishness depart from him.
Bray - To pound wheat in a mortar with a pestle, in order to free the wheat from its husks and impurities, is to go through a far more elaborate process than threshing. But the folly of the fool is not thus to be got rid of. It sticks to him to the last; all discipline, teaching, experience seem to be wasted on him.
Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds.
The verses sing the praises of the earlier patriarchal life, with its flocks and herds, and tillage of the ground, as compared with the commerce of a later time, with money as its chief or only wealth.
For riches are not for ever: and doth the crown endure to every generation?
Riches - The money which men may steal, or waste, is contrasted with the land of which the owner is not so easily deprived. Nor will the crown (both the "crown of pure gold" worn on the mitre of the high priest, Exodus 29:6; Exodus 39:30; and the kingly diadem, the symbol of power generally) be transmitted (as flocks and herds had been) "from one generation to another."
The hay appeareth, and the tender grass sheweth itself, and herbs of the mountains are gathered.
Appeareth - Better, When the grass disappeareth, the "tender grass showeth itself." Stress is laid on the regular succession of the products of the earth. The "grass" ("hay") of the first clause is (compare Psalm 37:2; Psalm 90:5; Psalm 103:15; 2 Kings 19:26) the proverbial type of what is perishable and fleeting. The verse gives a picture of the pleasantness of the farmer's calling; compared with this what can wealth or rank offer? With this there mingles (compare Proverbs 27:23) the thought that each stage of that life in its season requires care and watchfulness.
The lambs are for thy clothing, and the goats are the price of the field.
And thou shalt have goats' milk enough for thy food, for the food of thy household, and for the maintenance for thy maidens.