|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
17:4. Flatterers, especially false teachers, are welcome to those that live in sin. 5. Those that laugh at poverty, treat God's providence and precepts with contempt. 6. It is an honour to children to have wise and godly parents continued to them, even after they are grown up and settled in the world. 7. A fool, in Solomon's Proverbs, signifies a wicked man, whom excellent speech does not become, because his conversation contradicts it.
Verse 7. - Excellent speech becometh not a fool. שְׂפַת יָתֶר; verba composita, Vulgate, i.e. studied, complicated, expressions; χείλη πιστά, "faithful lips," Septuagint. Others translate, "arrogant," "pretentious." It is literally, a lip of excess or superabundance, and is best taken in the above sense, as arrogant or assuming. A nabal, a "vicious fool," ought not to flaunt his unwisdom and his iniquities before the eyes of men, but to keep them hidden as much as possible. As such presumptuous behaviour is incongruous in the case of a fool, much less do lying lips [become] a prince; a noble person, such a one as is called in Isaiah (Isaiah 32:8) "liberal," where the same word, nadib, is used. This is an illustration of the saying, "Noblesse oblige." Thus the Greek gnome -
Ἐλευθέρου γὰρ ἀνδρὸς ἀλήθειαν λέγειν
"A free man's part it is the truth to speak." To John the Good, King of France, is attributed the noble maxim which well became his chivalrous character, "Si la bonne foi etait bannie du reste du monde, il faudrait qu'on la retrouvat dans le coeur des rois" (Bonnechose, 'Hist. de France,' 1:310). "My son," says the rabbi in the Talmud, "avoid lying first of all; for a lie will tarnish the brightness of thy honour." For "prince," the Septuagint has, "a just man," which makes the maxim a mere truism.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Excellent speech becometh not a fool,.... A wicked man. Eloquence, or a sublime grand way of speaking, a copiousness and fluency of expression, become not such; because hereby he may be capable of doing more mischief; or such a style is unsuitable to the subject of his discourse, which is nothing but folly and wickedness. The Gospel is excellent speech, sound speech, that cannot be condemned; it treats of excellent things; concerning the person, office, and grace of Christ, and salvation by him; and very unfit is a wicked man to take it into his mouth, talk of it, and declare it;
much less do lying lips a prince; they rather become a fool, as excellent speech does a prince; who neither should speak lies himself, nor encourage, but abhor them in others. The Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic versions, render it, "a just man": but the word more property signifies a liberal man, as it is rendered in Isaiah 32:8; where it stands opposed to a churl or covetous man: and some Jewish (f) writers think by the "fool" is meant such an one to whom a "lip of abundance" (g), as it may be rendered, is very unsuitable; or to talk of his abundance, when he makes no good use of what he has for himself or others; and so, on the other hand, it is very disagreeable to the character of an ingenuous and liberal man to promise and not perform, and never intended it. It is true of such who are made a "willing" people in the day of Christ's power, Psalm 110:3; where the same word is used as here; of his volunteers; that to speak lies one to another very ill becomes them; or to receive, or to speak, or profess false doctrines; for no lie is of the truth.
(f) Kabvenaki in Mercer. in loc. (g) "labium abundantiae".
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
7. Excellent speech—(Compare Margin). Such language as ill suits a fool, as lying (ought to suit) a prince (Pr 16:12, 13).
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