Boast not yourself of to morrow; for you know not what a day may bring forth.…
I. OVER CONFIDENCE REBUKED. (Ver. 1.)
1. On the ground of our limited knowledge. The homely proverb says, "Do not count your chickens before they are hatched." The future exists for us only in imagination. "Who knows," asks Horace, "whether the gods above will add tomorrow's time to the sum of today?" ('Od.,' 4:7. 17); and Seneca, "None hath gods so favourable as that he may promise himself tomorrow's good."
2. On the ground of the Divine reserve of the secrets of destiny. To boast is to lift ourselves in effect out of that finite sphere of thought and feeling in which we have been placed by the Divine ordination. So says Horace again (and a distinctly Christian turn may be given to his exhortation), "Shun to inquire into the future and the morrow; and whatever day fortune shall afford thee, count it as gain" ('Od.,' 1:9, 13). Common sense and religious humility unite to teach us to "live for the day."
II. SELF-PRAISE CENSURED. (Ver. 2.) "Let another praise thee, and not thine own mouth." "Self-praise stinks," and "Not as thy mother says, but as the neighbours say," are Arabic proverbs. Every individual has a certain value; the sense of this is the foundation of all self-respect and virtue. But to show an over-consciousness of this worth by self-praise is a social offence, because it is an exaction of that which ought to be a free tribute, and betrays a desire of self-exaltation above others not easily forgiven.
III. THE PASSION OF THE FOOL INTOLERABLE. (Ver. 3.) Whether it be envy, furious resentment of rebuke, or jealousy, it is a burden intolerable to the person himself and to those with whom he has to do. The pious may readily sin in their anger, how much more the ungodly!
"Ira furor brevis est; animum rege; qui, nisi paret, Imperat; hunc froenis, hunc tu compesce catena.' (Horace, 'Ep.,' 1:2, 62). It is like a weight of stone or sand, being without cause, measure, or end (Poole).
IV. THE TERRIBLE FORCE OF JEALOUSY AND ENVY. (Ver. 4.) It exceeds all ordinary outbursts of wrath in violence and destructiveness. Envy is the daughter of pride, the author of revenge and murder, the beginner of sedition, and the perpetual tormentor of nature (Socrates). It never loves to honour another but when it may be an honour to itself. "From envy... good Lord, deliver us!"
V. FALSE LOVE AND FAITHFUL FRIENDSHIP CONTRASTED. (Vers. 5, 6.) False love refuses to tell a friend of his faults, from some egotistic and unworthy motive. "If you know that I have done anything foolishly or wickedly, and do not blame me for it, you yourself ought to be reproved" (Plaut.,'Trinum.,' 1:2, 57). "It is no good office," says Jeremy Taylor, "to make my friend more vicious or more a fool; I will restrain his folly, but not nurse it." "I think that man is my friend through whose advice I am enabled to wipe off the blemishes of my soul before the appearance of the awful Judge" (Gregory I). Christians should "speak the truth in love" (Ephesians 4:15). If the erring one does not learn it from the lips of love, he will have to learn it from a harsher source and in ruder tones (comp. Job 5:17, 18; Psalm 141:5; Revelation 3:19; Proverbs 28:23). There cannot be a more worthy improvement of friendship than in a fervent opposition to the sins of those we love (Bishop Hall). - J.
Parallel VersesKJV: Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.