Through desire a man, having separated himself, seeketh and intermeddleth with all wisdom.Proverbs 18:1-2. Through desire, a man having separated himself, &c. — According to this translation, the sense of this controverted proverb is, Through desire of wisdom, a man, having separated himself from the company, and noise, and business of the world, seeketh and intermeddleth with all wisdom — Uses all diligence that he may search and find out all solid knowledge and true wisdom. But this verse is otherwise rendered in the margin of our Bible, and in divers other versions, and is thus interpreted; He that separateth himself, either, 1st, From his friend, or, rather, 2d, From other men; who affects singularity, is wedded to his own opinion, and through self-conceit, despiseth the opinions and conversation of others, seeketh according to his desire, that is, seeketh to gratify his own inclinations and affections, and chooseth those opinions which most agree with them, and intermeddleth, Hebrew, יתגלע, (a word used in a bad sense, Proverbs 17:14, and found nowhere else except in this place,) in every business, or in every thing that is, as the words בכל תושׁיהיmay be properly rendered; namely, thrusting himself into the actions and affairs of other men. The latter interpretation is preferred by Bishop Patrick, whose paraphrase is, “He that affects singularity, inquires into all manner of things, according as his vain-glorious humour leads him; which makes him also bend himself, with all the wit he hath, to overthrow the solid reasonings of wiser men.” In consistency with this view of the verse, the bishop thus interprets the next: “For a fool will never take pleasure in true understanding, but the design of his studies is to make a vain ostentation of wisdom unto others; this is his chiefest pleasure, to hear himself discourse: that is, discover the folly that is in his heart.”
A fool hath no delight in understanding, but that his heart may discover itself.
When the wicked cometh, then cometh also contempt, and with ignominy reproach.Proverbs 18:3. When the wicked cometh — Into any place or company; then cometh also contempt — Either, 1st, He is justly contemned by those who converse with him: or rather, 2d, He despiseth and scorneth all instruction and reproof, neither fearing God nor reverencing man; and with ignominy reproach — And he not only contemns others in his heart, but shows his contempt of them by ignominious and reproachful expressions and actions. Bishop Patrick takes this verse in a somewhat different sense, namely, “Into whatsoever company or society (suppose into the schools of wisdom) a profane person comes, he brings along with him contempt of God and religion, and good men; and (as one wickedness grows out of another) that contempt improves into affronts, and reproachful language of them.”
The words of a man's mouth are as deep waters, and the wellspring of wisdom as a flowing brook.Proverbs 18:4. The words of a man’s mouth — Of a wise man’s; are as deep waters — Full of deep wisdom; and the well-spring of wisdom as a flowing brook — That wisdom which is in his heart is continually pouring forth wise and good counsels.
It is not good to accept the person of the wicked, to overthrow the righteous in judgment.
A fool's lips enter into contention, and his mouth calleth for strokes.
A fool's mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul.
The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.Proverbs 18:8-9. The words of a tale-bearer — Who privily slanders his neighbour; are as wounds — Deeply wound the reputation, and afterward the heart, of the slandered person. They go down, &c. — They wound mortally, piercing to the heart, which is often meant by the belly. He also that is slothful is brother, &c. — They are alike: though they take different paths, yet both come to one end, even to extreme want and poverty.
He also that is slothful in his work is brother to him that is a great waster.
The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.Proverbs 18:10-11. The name of the Lord — That is, the Lord, as he hath revealed himself in his works, and especially in his word, by his promises, and the declarations of his infinite perfections, and of his good-will to his people; is a strong tower — Is sufficient for our protection in the greatest dangers. The righteous — By faith and prayer, devotion toward God, and dependance on him; run into it — As their city of refuge. Having made sure of their interest in God’s name, they take the comfort and benefit of it: they go out of themselves, retire from the world, live above it, dwell in God and God in them, and so they are safe, as if they were in an impregnable fortress. They think themselves so, and they shall find themselves so. Observe, reader, there is enough in God, and in the discoveries which he has made of himself to us, to make us easy at all times. The wealth laid up in this tower is enough to enrich us, to be a continual feast, and a continuing treasure to us; the strength of this tower is enough to protect us; the name of the Lord, or that whereby he has made himself known as God, and as our God; his titles and attributes; his covenant, and all the promises of it, make up a tower, and a strong tower, impenetrable, impregnable, for us, if we be his people. This is necessary; for it is only the righteous that run into this tower, as is here stated, or that have access to it, according to Isaiah 26:2, which is signified to beat down the vain confidences of those who, though they live in a gross neglect and contempt of God, yet presume to expect salvation from him.
The rich man's wealth is his strong city, and as an high wall in his own conceit.
Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honour is humility.
He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.Proverbs 18:13. He that answereth a matter before he beareth it — Before he hath fully heard and considered what another is speaking about it; it is folly and shame unto him — It is a shameful folly, though he seek the reputation of a wise man by it; as if he could readily and thoroughly understand all that another can say before he has uttered it.
The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear?Proverbs 18:14. The spirit of a man — That is, his soul, namely, not wounded, as appears by the opposite branch of the verse, and which is vigorous and cheerful, supported by a sense of God’s love, the consciousness of its own integrity, and of its present peace with him, and by a bright prospect of future happiness; will sustain his infirmity — Will easily support him under any bodily or outward troubles, as God’s people have often found by experience; but a wounded spirit — Depressed and dejected with a sense of its own guilt, depravity, and misery; who can bear? — It is most grievous and intolerable, if divine support and comfort be withheld.
The heart of the prudent getteth knowledge; and the ear of the wise seeketh knowledge.
A man's gift maketh room for him, and bringeth him before great men.Proverbs 18:16. A man’s gift maketh room for him — Procures him free access to great men. Hebrew, ירחיב לו, enlargeth him, as this very phrase is rendered Psalm 4:1, and elsewhere; freeth him from straits and oppressions; and bringeth him before great men — Procures him favour and free conversation with them.
He that is first in his own cause seemeth just; but his neighbour cometh and searcheth him.Proverbs 18:17. He that is first in his own cause — He that first pleadeth his cause; seemeth just — Both to himself, and to the judge, or court, by his fair pretences; but his neighbour cometh — To contend with him in judgment, and to plead his cause; and searcheth him — Examineth the truth and weight of his allegations, disproveth them, and detecteth the weakness of his cause.
The lot causeth contentions to cease, and parteth between the mighty.Proverbs 18:18. The lot causeth contentions to cease — By determining the matters in difference; and parteth between the mighty — Maketh a partition, and giveth to each of the contending parties what is right or meet, by the order and disposition of divine providence. It parteth also between mean persons, but he mentions the mighty, because they are most prone to contention, and most fierce and obstinate in it, and most capable of doing great mischief to themselves and others by it, and therefore they most need this remedy.
A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle.Proverbs 18:19. A brother offended — Namely, by his brother’s unkindness or injury; is harder to be won — Or, is stronger and more impregnable; than a strong city — Which is hardly to be conquered. And their contentions are like the bars of a castle — Which are very strong, and not to be broken, as being made of iron or brass: see 1 Kings 4:13; Isaiah 45:2. The truth of this assertion is confirmed by the testimony of several learned men who affirm the same thing; and the reason of it is evident, because the nearness of the relation greatly heightens the provocation, and love abused frequently turns to extreme hatred. “There are no contentions,” says Bishop Patrick, in his paraphrase on this verse, “so sharp and obstinate as those among brethren; who grow so refractory when they have transgressed against each other, that it is easier to take a strong city, or to break the bars of a castle, than it is to compose their differences, and remove all the obstructions that lie in the way of their hearty reconciliation.” The LXX., but on what authority does not appear, render this, Αδελφος υπο αδελφου βοηθουμενος, &c., A brother assisted by a brother is powerful, as a strong and high city, and as a well-founded kingdom. And Bochart, following the Vulgate, renders the verse, “As a fortified city is a brother assisted by a brother, and they who mutually love one another are like the bars of a castle.” But certainly neither of these readings is consistent with the Hebrew text, which is literally and faithfully translated in our English Bible.
A man's belly shall be satisfied with the fruit of his mouth; and with the increase of his lips shall he be filled.Proverbs 18:20. A man’s belly shall be satisfied, &c. — Wise and edifying discourses tend to the comfort and satisfaction of the speaker, as well as to the good of the hearers.
Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.Proverbs 18:21. Life and death are in the power of the tongue — Are brought upon men by the good or bad use of their tongues; and they that love it — Namely, the tongue; that love much talking; shall eat the fruit thereof — Shall receive either good or evil according to the quality of their speeches.
Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD.Proverbs 18:22. Whoso findeth a wife — A good wife; one that deserves the name, and performs the duty of that relation. Thus Houbigant interprets it after many of the versions: see Proverbs 19:14. Findeth a good thing — A singular blessing; and obtaineth favour of the Lord — Obtaineth her, not by his own wisdom, or art, or endeavours, merely or chiefly, but by God’s good providence toward him, which orders that and all other events as it pleases him. The LXX. and Vulgate read at the end of this verse, “He that putteth away a good wife, putteth away a good thing; but he who retains an adulteress is foolish and wicked.”
The poor useth intreaties; but the rich answereth roughly.Proverbs 18:23. The poor useth entreaties — Humbly begs the favour of rich and powerful men, as his necessities and occasions require; but the rich answereth roughly — Speaks proudly and scornfully, either to the poor, or to others that converse with him, being puffed up with a conceit of his riches and self-sufficiency.
A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.Proverbs 18:24. A man that hath friends — Hebrew, a man of friends; either, 1st, Who desires the friendship of others; or, 2d, Who professes friendship to others; must show himself friendly — Must perform all kind offices to his friend, which is the very end of friendship, and the way to preserve it; and there is a friend that sticketh closer — To him that desires and needs his help; who is more hearty in the performance of all duties of friendship; than a brother — Than the nearest relation.