|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
18:4. The well-spring of wisdom in the heart of a believer, continually supplies words of wisdom. 5. The merits of a cause must be looked to, not the person. 6,7. What mischief bad men do to themselves by their ungoverned tongues! 8. How base are those that sow contention! and what fatal effects may be expected from small beginnings of jealousy! 9. Omissions of duty, and in duty, are fatal to the soul, as well as commissions of sin. 10,11. The Divine power, made known in and through our Lord Jesus Christ, forms a strong tower for the believer, who relies on the Lord. How deceitful the defence of the rich man, who has his portion and treasure in this world! It is a strong city and a high wall only in his own conceit; for it will fail when most in need. They will be exposed to the just wrath of that Judge whom they despised as a Saviour. 12. After the heart has been lifted up with pride, a fall comes. But honour shall be the reward of humility. 13. Eagerness, with self-conceit, will expose to shame. 14. Firmness of mind supports under many pains and trials. But when the conscience is tortured with remorse, no human fortitude can bear the misery; what then will hell be? 15. We must get knowledge, not only into our heads, but into our hearts. 16. Blessed be the Lord, who makes us welcome to come to his throne, without money and without price. May his gifts make room for him in our souls.
Verse 8. - The words of a tale bearer are as wounds. Nergan, "tale bearer," is better rendered "whisperer" (see on Proverbs 16:28). The Authorized Version reminds one of the mediaeval jingle -
Est pejor felle draconis." The verse recurs in Proverbs 26:22; but the word rendered "wounds" (mitlahamim) is to be differently explained. It is probably the hithp. participle of laham," to swallow," and seems to mean "dainty morsels," such as one eagerly swallows. Thus Gesenius, Schultens, Delitzsch, Nowack, and others. So the clause means, "A whisperer's words are received with avidity; calumny, slander, and evil stories find eager listeners." The same metaphor is found in Proverbs 19:28; Job 34:7. There may, at the same time, be involved the idea that these dainty morsels are of poisonous character. Vulgate, Verba bilinguis, quasi simplicia, "The words of a man of double tongue seem to be simple," which contains another truth. They go down into the innermost parts of the belly (Proverbs 20:27, 30). The hearers take in the slanders and treasure them up in memory, to be used as occasion shall offer. The LXX. omits this verse, and in its place introduces a paragraph founded partly on the next verse and partly on Proverbs 19:15. The Vulgate also inserts the interpolation, "Fear overthrows the sluggish; and the souls of the effeminate (ἀνδρογύνων) shall hunger."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
The words of a talebearer are as wounds,.... Or rather they are wounds; they wound the credit and reputation of the person of whom the tale is told; they wound the person to whom it is told, and destroy his love and affection to his friend; and in the issue they wound, hurt, and ruin the talebearer himself. Or, they are "as of those that are wounded" (m); they pretend to be affected with the case they tell, and to be grieved for the failings and infirmities of those they are secretly exposing, when at the same time they rejoice at them: or, they are "secret" hidden ones, as Aben Ezra interprets it; they are spoken secretly, and wound secretly, in a backbiting way: or, they are "smooth" or flattering (n), as Kimchi; they are smoother than oil, and glide easily into the minds of others: rather, "are greedily swallowed down" (o), as the word in the Arabic language signifies; as Schultens has shown, and so renders it. Hence it follows:
and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly; go down pleasantly, and sink deep into the hearts of those to whom they are told; where they have a place and remain, both to the injury of the persons that receive them, and of them of whom they are told; and, though pleasing at first, they are as wounds in the inner parts, which are mortal.
(m) "similia sunt verbis eorum, qui saepenumero contusi sunt", Junius & Tremellius; "ut contusorum", Cocceius. (n) "Ut lenientia", Montanus; "velut blanda", Vatablus, Mercerus, Gejerus; "quasi blandientia", Schmidt, so Ben Melech. (o) "Tanquam avide deglutita crustula", Schultens.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
8. (Compare Pr 16:28).
as wounds—not sustained by the Hebrew; better, as "sweet morsels," which men gladly swallow.
innermost … belly—the mind, or heart (compare Pr 20:27-30; Ps 22:14).
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