|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
20:5. Though many capable of giving wise counsel are silent, yet something may be drawn from them, which will reward those who obtain it. 6. It is hard to find those that have done, and will do more good than they speak, or care to hear spoken of.
Verse 6. - Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness; chesed, "kindness," "mercy," "liberality," as in Proverbs 19:22. So Ewald and others, Hitzig and Kamphausen translate, "Many a man one names his dear friend;" Delitzsch and Nowack prefer, "Most men meet a man who is gracious to them;" i.e. it is common enough to meet a man who seems benevolent and well disposed. Vulgate, "Many men are called merciful;" Septuagint, "Man is a great thing, and a merciful man is a precious thing." The renderings of most modern commentators imply the statement that love and mercy are common enough, at least in outward expression. The Authorized Version pronounces that men are ready enough to parade and boast of their liberality, like the hypocrites who were said proverbially to sound a trumpet when they performed their almsdeeds (Matthew 6:2). Commenting on the Greek rendering of the clause given above, St. Chrysostom observes, "This is the true character of man to be merciful; yea, rather the character of God to show mercy... Those who answer not to this description, though they partake of mind, and are never so capable of knowledge, the Scripture refuses to acknowledge them as men, but calls them dogs, and horses, and serpents, and foxes, and wolves, and if there be any animals more contemptible" ('Hom. 4 in Phil.' and 'Hom. 13 in 1 Tim.,' Oxford transl.). The contrast between show, or promise, and performance is developed in the second clause. But a faithful man who can find? The faithfulness intended is fidelity to promises, the practical execution of the vaunted benevolence; this is rare indeed, so that a psalmist could cry, "I said in my haste, All men are liars" (Psalm 116:11; comp. Romans 3:4). Lesetre refers to Massillon's sermon, 'Sur la Gloire Humaine,' where we read (the preacher, of course, rests on the Latin Version), "Ces hommes vertueux dont le monde se fait tant d'honneur, n'ont au fond souvent pour eux que l'erreur publique. Amis fideles, je le veux; mais c'est le gout, la vanite ou Pin teret, qui les lie; et dans leur amis, ils n'amient qu' eux-memes En un mot, dit l'Ecriture, on les appelle misericordieux, ils ont toutes les vertus pour le public; mais n'etant pas fideles a Dieu, ils n'en ont pas une seule pour eux-memes."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Most men will proclaim everyone his own goodness,.... As the Pharisee did, in Luke 18:11; and as the Pharisees in common did; who did all their works to be seen of men, and made clean the outside of the cup and platter; and were very careful to appear outwardly righteous to men, Matthew 23:5. And indeed this is the general cast of men; everyone is proclaiming his goodness to others, and would be thought to be good men; and cannot be easy with doing a good action, unless it is known, and particularly acts of beneficence and alms deeds; and are like the Pharisees, who, on such occasions, sounded a trumpet before them, Matthew 6:2. And the word may be rendered, "his mercy" (b), or his kindness to the poor: the Targum renders it,
"many of the children of men are called merciful men;''
and so the Vulgate Latin version; and they like to be so called and accounted, whether they are so or not;
but a faithful man who can find? who answers to the character he gives of himself, or others upon his own representation give him; who is as good as his word, and, having promised assistance and relief, gives it; and who, having boasted that he has done a kindness to such an one and such an one, does the same likewise to another when applied to; or who sticks to his friend, and does not forsake him in his adversity, but supports and supplies him whom he knew in prosperity; it is hard and rare to find such a man; see Psalm 12:1. Or, though every man is talking of his good works, and boasting of his goodness, it is difficult to find an Israelite indeed, in whom the true grace of God is.
(b) "misericordiam suam", Pagninus, so some in Vatablus; "unius cujusque misericordiam", Mercerus, Gejerus.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
6. Boasters are unreliable.
goodness—or, "kind disposition."
Proverbs 20:6 Parallel Commentaries
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