Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
These are also proverbs of Solomon, which the men of Hezekiah king of Judah copied out.
1. The character of these proverbs sustains the title (see Introduction).
also—refers to the former part of the book.
copied out—literally, "transferred," that is, from some other book to this; not given from memory.
It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter.
2. God's unsearchableness impresses us with awe (compare Isa 45:15; Ro 11:33). But kings, being finite, should confer with wise counsellors;
The heaven for height, and the earth for depth, and the heart of kings is unsearchable.
3. Ye wisely keeping state secrets, which to common men are as inaccessible heights and depths.
Take away the dross from the silver, and there shall come forth a vessel for the finer.
4, 5. As separating impurities from ore leaves pure silver, so taking from a king wicked counsellors leaves a wise and beneficent government.
Take away the wicked from before the king, and his throne shall be established in righteousness.
5. before—or, "in presence of," as courtiers stood about a king.
Put not forth thyself in the presence of the king, and stand not in the place of great men:
6, 7. Do not intrude into the presence of the king, for the elevation of the humble is honorable, but the humbling of the proud disgraceful (Lu 14:8-10).
For better it is that it be said unto thee, Come up hither; than that thou shouldest be put lower in the presence of the prince whom thine eyes have seen.
Go not forth hastily to strive, lest thou know not what to do in the end thereof, when thy neighbour hath put thee to shame.
8. (Compare Pr 3:30).
lest … shame—lest you do what you ought not, when shamed by defeat, or "lest thou art shut out from doing any thing."
Debate thy cause with thy neighbour himself; and discover not a secret to another:
9, 10. (Compare Mt 5:25, Margin).
secret—that is, of your opponent, for his disadvantage, and so you be disgraced, not having discussed your difficulties with him.
Lest he that heareth it put thee to shame, and thine infamy turn not away.
A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.
11. a word fitly—literally, "quickly," as wheels roll, just in time. The comparison as apples … silver gives a like sense.
apples, &c.—either real apples of golden color, in a silver network basket, or imitations on silver embroidery.
As an earring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold, so is a wise reprover upon an obedient ear.
12. Those who desire to know and do rightly, most highly esteem good counsel (Pr 9:9; 15:31). The listening ear is better than one hung with gold.
As the cold of snow in the time of harvest, so is a faithful messenger to them that send him: for he refresheth the soul of his masters.
13. Snow from mountains was used to cool drinks; so refreshing is a faithful messenger (Pr 13:17).
Whoso boasteth himself of a false gift is like clouds and wind without rain.
14. clouds—literally, "vapors" (Jer 10:13), clouds only in appearance.
a false gift—promised, but not given.
By long forbearing is a prince persuaded, and a soft tongue breaketh the bone.
15. Gentleness and kindness overcome the most powerful and obstinate.
long forbearing—or, "slowness to anger" (Pr 14:29; 15:18).
Hast thou found honey? eat so much as is sufficient for thee, lest thou be filled therewith, and vomit it.
16, 17. A comparison, as a surfeit of honey produces physical disgust, so your company, however agreeable in moderation, may, if excessive, lead your friend to hate you.
Withdraw thy foot from thy neighbour's house; lest he be weary of thee, and so hate thee.
A man that beareth false witness against his neighbour is a maul, and a sword, and a sharp arrow.
18. A false witness is as destructive to reputation, as such weapons to the body (Pr 24:28).
beareth … witness—literally, "answereth questions," as before a judge, against his neighbor.
Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a broken tooth, and a foot out of joint.
19. Treachery annoys as well as deceives.
As he that taketh away a garment in cold weather, and as vinegar upon nitre, so is he that singeth songs to an heavy heart.
20. Not only is the incongruity of songs (that is, joyful) and sadness meant, but an accession of sadness, by want of sympathy, is implied.
If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink:
21, 22. (Compare Mt 5:44; Ro 12:20). As metals are melted by heaping coals upon them, so is the heart softened by kindness.
For thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the LORD shall reward thee.
The north wind driveth away rain: so doth an angry countenance a backbiting tongue.
23. Better, "As the north wind bringeth forth (Ps 90:2) or produces rain, so does a concealed or slandering tongue produce anger."
It is better to dwell in the corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman and in a wide house.
24. (Compare Pr 21:9, 19).
As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country.
25. (Compare Pr 25:13).
good news—that is, of some loved interest or absent friend, the more grateful as coming from afar.
A righteous man falling down before the wicked is as a troubled fountain, and a corrupt spring.
26. From troubled fountains and corrupt springs no healthy water is to be had, so when the righteous are oppressed by the wicked, their power for good is lessened or destroyed.
It is not good to eat much honey: so for men to search their own glory is not glory.
27. Satiety surfeits (Pr 25:16); so men who are self-glorious find shame.
is not glory—"not" is supplied from the first clause, or "is grievous," in which sense a similar word is used (Pr 27:2).
He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.
28. Such are exposed to the incursions of evil thoughts and successful temptations.