Be not hasty in your spirit to be angry: for anger rests in the bosom of fools.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Resteth.—Proverbs 14:33.
Resteth; hath its settled and quiet abode, is their constant companion, ever at hand upon all occasions, whereas wise men resist, and mortify, and banish it.
In the bosom; in the heart, the proper seat of the passions. James 1:19, Proverbs 16:32; or with God, for his corrections and chastisements; so the Targum,
"in the time that correction from heaven comes upon thee, do not hasten in thy soul to be hot (or angry) to say words of rebellion (or stubbornness) against heaven;''
that advice is good,
"do nothing in anger (l);''
for anger resteth in the bosom of fools; where it riseth quick, and continues long; here it soon betrays itself, and finds easy admittance, and a resting dwelling place; it easily gets in, but it is difficult to get it out of the heart of a fool; both which are proofs of his folly, Proverbs 12:16; see Ephesians 4:26; the bosom, or breast, is commonly represented as the seat of anger by other writers (m).Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)9. Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry] From sins of speech in general, the teacher passes on to that which is the source from which they most often flow. Anger, alike from the Stoic and Epicurean stand-point (and the writer, as we have seen, had points of contact with each of them), was the note of unwisdom. If it be right at all, it is when it is calm and deliberate, an indignation against moral evil. The hasty anger of wounded self-love is, as in the teaching of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:22), destructive of the tranquillity of true wisdom, and, transient and impulsive as it seems at first, may harden “in the bosom of the fool” into a settled antipathy or malignant scorn.Verse 9. - Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry. A further warning against the arrogance which murmurs at Providence and revolts against the checks of the Divine arrangement. The injunction in Ecclesiastes 5:2 might be taken in this sense. It is not a general admonition against unrighteous anger, but is leveled at the haughty indignation which a proud man feels when things do not go as he wishes, and he deems that he could have managed matters more satisfactorily. For anger resteth in the bosom of fools. Such unreasonable displeasure is the mark of a foolish or skeptical mind, and if it rests (Proverbs 14:33), is fostered and cherished there, may develop into misanthropy and atheism. If we adopt the rendering" word" in ver. 8, we may see in this injunction a warning against being quick to take offence at a rebuke, as it is only the fool who will not look to the object of the censure and see that it ought to be patiently submitted to. On the subject of anger St. Gregory writes, "As often as we restrain the turbulent motions of the mind under the virtue of mildness, we are essaying to return to the likeness of our Creator. For when the peace of mind is lashed with anger, torn and rent, as it were, it is thrown into confusion, so that it is not in harmony with itself, and loses the force of the inward likeness. By anger wisdom is parted with, so that we are left wholly in ignorance what to do; as it is written, 'Anger resteth in the bosom of a fool,' in this way, that it withdraws the light of understanding, while by agitating it troubles the mind" ('Moral.,' 5:78). Jeremiah 7:6; cf. פן ר, Genesis 40:7; Nehemiah 2:2), a sorrowful countenance, better than with laughter, which only masks the feeling of disquiet peculiar to man, Proverbs 14:13. Elsewhere לב ייטב equals "the heart is (may be) of good cheer," e.g., Ruth 3:7; Judges 19:6; here also joyful experience is meant, but well becoming man as a religious moral being. With a sad countenance it may be far better as regards the heart than with a merry countenance in boisterous company. Luther, in the main correct, after Jerome, who on his part follows Symmachus: "The heart is made better by sorrow." The well-being is here meant as the reflex of a moral: bene se habere.
Sorrow penetrates the heart, draws the thought upwards, purifies, transforms. Therefore is the heart of the wise in the house of sorrow; and, on the other hand, the heart of fools is in the house of joy, i.e., the impulse of their heart goes thither, there they feel themselves at home; a house of joy is one where there are continual feasts, or where there is at the time a revelling in joy. That Ecclesiastes 7:4 is divided not by Athnach, but by Zakef, has its reason in this, that of the words following אבל, none consists of three syllables; cf. on the contrary, Ecclesiastes 7:7, חכם. From this point forward the internal relation of the contents is broken up, according to which this series of sayings as a concluding section hangs together with that containing the observations going before in Ecclesiastes 6:1-12.
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