|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
18:17. It is well to listen to our enemies, that we may form a better judgment of ourselves. 18. It was customary sometimes to refer matters to God, by casting lots, with solemn prayer. The profaning the lot, by using it in matters of diversion, or coveting what belongs to others, forms an objection to this now.
Verse 17. - He that is first in his own cause seemeth just; Revised Version, he that pleadeth his cause first seemeth just. A man who tells his own story, and is the first to open his case before the judge or a third party, seems tot the moment to have justice on his side. But his neighbour cometh and searcheth him out (Proverbs 28:11). The "neighbour" is the opposing party - ὁ ἀντίδικος Septuagint, which recalls Matthew 5:25 - he sifts and scrutinizes the statements already given, shows them to be erroneous, or weakens the evidence which appeared to support them. Thus the maxims, "One story is good till the other is told," and "Audi alteram partem," receive confirmation. Vulgate, Justus prior est accusator sui. So Septuagint, "The righteous is his own accuser in opening the suit (ἐν πρωτολογίᾳ)." He cuts the ground from under the adversary's feet by at once owning his fault. St. Gregory more than once, in his 'Moralia,' adduces this rendering. Thus on Job 7:11, "To put the mouth to labour is to employ it in the confession of sin done, but the righteous man doth not refrain his mouth, in that, forestalling the wrath of the searching Judge, he falls wroth upon himself in words of self-confession. Hence it is written, 'The just man is first the accuser of himself'" (so lib. 22:33).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
He that is first in his own cause seemeth just,.... As perhaps Tertullus did, before Paul made his defence; and as Ziba, Mephibosheth's servant, before his master detected him: this often appears true in telling a tale, in private conversation, in lawsuits before a judge and a court of judicature, and in theological controversies;
but his neighbour cometh, and searcheth him; his neighbour comes into the house, where he is telling his tale, and reports it in another manner, and shows the falsehood of his relation; or he comes into a court of judicature, and sets the cause in quite another light; or he comes out into the worm by public writing, and exposes the errors of a man engaged in a wrong cause, and refutes his arguments. It is generally understood of judicial affairs, that the first that opens a cause is very apt to prejudice the judge and court in his favour, and they are ready to thing at first hearing that he is in the right; but it is not proper to be hasty in forming a judgment till the other side is heard; for his antagonist comes and traverses the point, unravels the whole affair, shows the weakness of his cause, the vanity of his pretences, and makes void all his allegations; and then "he", the judge, so some interpret it, "searcheth"; inquires more narrowly into the case, in order to find out truth, and pass a right judgment and sentence.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
17. One-sided statements are not reliable.
searcheth—thoroughly (Pr 17:9, 19).
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