Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
ε) With reference to various other relations and callings in life, especially within the sphere of the religious life
1 A soft answer turneth away wrath,
but a bitter word stirreth up anger.
2 The tongue of the wise maketh knowledge attractive,
but the mouth of fools poureth forth folly.
3 The eyes of Jehovah are in every place,
beholding the wicked and the good.
4 A mild tongue is a tree of life,
but transgression therewith is a wound in the spirit.
5 The fool despiseth his father’s correction,
but he that regardeth reproof is wise.
6 In the house of the righteous is a great treasure,
but in the gain of the wicked is trouble.
7 The lips of the wise spread knowledge,
but the heart of fools (doeth) not so.
8 The sacrifice of the wicked is abomination to Jehovah,
but the prayer of the upright is his delight.
9 An abomination to Jehovah is the way of the wicked,
but he loveth him that searcheth after righteousness.
10 There is sharp correction for him that forsaketh the way;
he that hateth reproof must die.
11 Hell and the world of the dead are before Jehovah,
how much more the hearts of the sons of men ?
12 The scorner liketh not that one reprove him;
to wise men will he not go.
13 A joyous heart maketh a cheerful countenance,
but in sorrow of the heart the spirit is stricken.
14 An understanding heart seeketh after knowledge,
but the face of fools feedeth on folly.
15 All the days of the afflicted are evil,
but he that is of a joyful heart—a perpetual feast.
16 Better is little with the fear of Jehovah
than great treasure and trouble with it.
17 Better is a dish of herbs, when love is there,
than a fatted ox and hatred with it.
18 A passionate man stirreth up strife,
but he that is slow to anger allayeth contention.
19 The way of the slothful is as a hedge of thorns,
but the path of the righteous is a highway.
20 A wise son maketh a glad father,
but a foolish man despiseth his mother.
21 Folly is joy to him that lacketh wisdom.
but the man of understanding goeth straight forward.
22 Failure of plans (cometh) where there is no counsel,
but by a multitude of counsellors they come to pass.
23 A man hath joy through the answer of his mouth,
and a word in due season, how good is it!
24 An upward path of life is the way of the wise
to depart from hell beneath.
25 The house of the proud will Jehovah destroy,
and he will establish the border of the widow.
26 An abomination to Jehovah are evil devices,
but pure (in his sight) are gracious words.
27 He troubleth his own house that seeketh unjust gain,
but he that hateth gifts shall live.
28 The heart of the righteous studieth to answer,
the mouth of the wicked poureth forth evil.
29 Jehovah is far from the wicked,
but the prayer of the righteous he heareth.
30 A friendly look rejoiceth the heart,
good tidings make the bones fat.
31 The ear that heareth the reproof of life
will abide among the wise.
32 He that refuseth correction despiseth himself,
but he that heedeth reproof getteth understanding.
33 The fear of Jehovah is a training to wisdom,
and before honor is humility.
GRAMMATICAL AND CRITICAL
Proverbs 15:1.—[דְּבַר־עֶצֶב undoubtedly means wrathful words, bitter words; GES. reaches this through a subjective meaning of עצב, labor, pain to the wrathful spirit; FUERST takes the objective, cutting words, that cause pain to their victim; the latter retains most of the radical meaning of the verb.—A.]
Proverbs 15:2.—[תֵּיטִיב, lit., maketh knowledge good; but the radical idea of the Heb. טוֹב is that which is good to the sense, especially sight; therefore bright, brilliant,—and afterward, that which is agreeable to other senses, hearing, taste, etc. The etymological meaning here best suits the sense “make knowledge appear attractive.”—A.]
Proverbs 15:5.—[BÖTT. § 1055, III.), commenting on the three passages where the defective form יַעְרֵם occurs, proposes as the probable reading יַעְרֵם.—A.]
Proverbs 15:6.—נֶעְכָּרֶת (from עָכַר, Proverbs 11:29) is a neuter partic. used substantively in the sense of ruin, destruction; comp. in Is. 10:23 נֶחֱרָצָה, and also מְחוּמָה in Proverbs 15:16 below.
[Proverbs 15:7.—Masc. verb with the fern. שִׂפְתֵי, as in Proverbs 15:2; 10:21, 22.]
Proverbs 15:9—[BÖTT. (§ 412, 3) suggests rhythmical reasons for the peculiar and solitary form יֶאְהָב, usually יֶאֱהַב. Comp. GREEN, § 112, 5, c.—A.]
Proverbs 15:15.—The construction is elliptical; טוֹב־לֵב is logically a genitive limiting the יְמֵי of clause a, and מִשְׁתֶּה is a predicate to it: “the days of him who is cheerful in heart are a feast,” etc. Comp. HITZIG on the passage.
Proverbs 15:21.—The Infin. לֶכֶת without לְ made dependent on the verb יְיַשֶּׁר (EWALD, Lehrb., § 285, a.)
Proverbs 15:22.—The Infin. abs. הָפֵר is hero naturally prefixed, instead of the finite verb, as e.g., in 12:7. [Active used instead of passive, with an indefinite subject, in Hiphil and Piel as well as Kal. infinitives. See BÖTTCHER, § 990, 1, a.—A.]
Proverbs 15:25.—Instead of וְיַצֵּב we must with HITZIG, etc., and in accordance with the anc. versions read וַיַּצֵּב; for the optative rendering “and let him establish,” etc. (BERTHEAU) does not agree with the parallelism. [BÖTT. regards it as a Jussive, expressing that necessity which is seen to be involved in the moral order of the world (§ 964, 7).—A.]
1. Proverbs 15:1–7. Against sins of the tongue of various kinds.—A soft answer turneth away wrath,—lit., “bringeth or turneth back passion,” comp. Is. 9:11, 16, 20. The opposite of this “turning back” or “beating down” the violence of wrath is the “stirring it up,” causing wrath to flash up or blaze out. Comp. Eccles. 10:4; Ps. 18:8, 9.—With the use of the epithet “soft, gentle” (רַךְ), comp. 25:15.—“A bitter word” (see critical notes) is more exactly “a word of pain,” i.e., a smarting, offensive, violent word such as the passionate or embittered man speaks.
Proverbs 15:2. The tongue of the wise maketh knowledge attractive, lit., “maketh knowledge good” (see critical notes); i.e., presents knowledge in apt, well arranged and winning ways (comp. 30:29; Is. 23:16). In contrast with this “the fool’s mouth poureth forth folly,” i.e., in its repulsively confused and noisy utterances, brings to view not wisdom and true discernment, but only folly. “Poureth forth,” a decidedly stronger expression than “proclaimeth,” Proverbs 12:23.
Proverbs 15:3. Comp. 2 Chron. 16:9; Ecclesiast. 15:19; 17:16; 23:28; also Ps. 139:1 sq.; Matt. 10:30; Heb. 4:13.
Proverbs 15:4. Gentleness of the tongue is a tree of life.—With this use of the noun rendered “gentleness” (not “health”) comp. 14:30, and for the expression “tree of life,” 11:30.—But transgression therewith is a wound in the spirit.—The noun סֶלֶף probably does not here mean “perverseness” (BERTHEAU, E. V., etc.), but apparently “trespass, transgression,” which seems to be its meaning also in Proverbs 11:3 (comp. HITZIG). Transgression with the tongue is, however, probably not here falsehood (LUTHER, and the older commentators; comp. EWALD, “falling with the tongue”), but its misuse in the exciting of strife and contention, and so “irritation, excitement” (UMBREIT, ELSTER). “A wound in the spirit,” i.e., disturbance and destruction by restless passion of the regulated and normal state of the spirit; comp. Is. 65:14.—HITZIG conjectures a corruption of the text, and therefore translates the second clause in partial accordance with the LXX, Syriac and Chaldee versions, “and whoso eateth its fruit (the tree of life), stretcheth himself comfortably (! ?).” [RUEETSCHI (as before cited, p. 143) carries the idea of gentleness through the two clauses as the central idea; “it is precisely with this gentle speech which otherwise does so much good, that the wicked is wont to deceive, and then one is by this more sorely and deeply stricken and distressed than before.”—A.]
Proverbs 15:5. Comp. 1:7; 13:1.—But he that regardeth reproof is wise (reproof on the part of his father, or in general from his parents). For this verb, “is wise, prudent, dealeth prudently,” comp. 19:25; 1 Sam. 23:22.
Proverbs 15:6. In the house of the righteous is a great treasure,—lit., “house of the righteous,” probably an accusative of place. The treasure stored up in such a house is the righteousness that prevails in it, a source and pledge of abiding prosperity. [HOLDEN and some others make the earthly treasure too prominent, as though the direct teaching of the verse were that “temporal prosperity attends the righteous.” We find in the verse rather an import that holds equally good in the absence of outward abundance.—A.] The direct opposite of this is the “trouble” that is found in the gains of the wicked.
Proverbs 15:7. With clause a compare 10:31. [A rendering of יְזָרוּ is urged by RUEETSCHI, that is more in keeping with its general import, and particularly its meaning in Proverbs 20:8, 26, viz: to “sift,” or “winnow;” the lips of the wise sift knowledge, separating the chaff, preserving the pure grain.—A.]—But the heart of fools (doeth) not so, i.e., with him it is quite otherwise than with the heart of the wise man which spreads abroad wisdom and knowledge; a suggestion, brief indeed but very expressive, of the mighty difference between the influences that go forth from the wise man and the fool. HITZIG, to avoid this interpretation of לֹא־כֵן, which, as he thinks, is “intolerably flat,” explains the expression in accordance with Is. 16:6, by “that which is not so as it is asserted to be,” and therefore by “error or falsehood;” he therefore takes this as an accusative object to the verb “spread abroad,” which is to be supplied from clause a. The LXX and Syr. adopt still another way, according to which כֵּן is an adjective with the meaning “sure, right,”—“the fool’s heart is not sure,” not certain of its matters, and therefore incompetent to teach others (so also BERTHEAU). This last explanation is doubtless possible, and yet the first seems at all events the simplest and most obvious. [This is also the rendering of the E. V., etc.; S., N., M., W. agree substantially with the last view, but differ in the grammatical connection of the word “sound, right,” S. and M. making it a predicative epithet, N. and W. making it the object, “what is not sound,” “folly.”—A.]
2. Proverbs 15:8–15. Of God’s abhorrence of the wicked heart of the ungodly.—With Proverbs 15:8 comp. 21:27; 28:9; also Proverbs 15:29 below. “Sacrifice” and “prayer” are not here contrasted as the higher and the lower [so BURGON, quoted by WORDSWORTH]; but “sacrifice” is a gift to God, “prayer” is desiring from Him. Comp. Is. 1:11, 15, and besides passages like Hos. 6:6; Mic. 6:6–8; Jer. 7:21; Ps. 40:6 (7); 51:17 (18), etc.
Proverbs 15:9 stands in the relation, as it were, of an explanation of or a reason for Proverbs 15:8; comp. 11:20; 12:22.—But he loveth him that searcheth after righteousness.—“Searcheth after” [“pursueth,” as it were, Piel part.], stronger than “followeth,” Proverbs 21:21; comp. 11:19; also Deut. 16:20; Ps. 34:14 (15).
Proverbs 15:10. (There is) sharp correction for him that forsaketh the way, lit., “is to the one forsaking the path,” i.e., the man that turns aside from the right way (comp. 2:13).—He that hateth reproof must die,—lit., “will die.” Comp. Rom. 8:13. This “death” is the very “sharp correction” mentioned in the first clause, just as he who hates correction is identical with the man who forsakes the way. Comp. 10:17.
Proverbs 15:11., Hell (Sheol) and the world of the dead are before Jehovah,—i.e., are not concealed from Him, lie open and uncovered before His view, comp. Ps. 139:8; Job 26:6. In the latter passage אֲבַדּוֹן, lit. “place of destruction, abyss of the pit” stands, as it does here, as a synonym of Sheol; so likewise in Prov. 27:20.—How much more (אַף כִּי as in 11:37) the hearts of the sons of men; comp. Jer. 17:10; Heb. 4:13.—Observe furthermore how this proverb also stands related to the next preceding, giving its reason, as in Proverbs 15:8 and 9.
Proverbs 15:12. To wise men doth he not go; among them he will find deliverance from his folly—by stern reproof, it is true, and censure and reprimand; comp. 13:1, 20. HITZIG unnecessarily proposes to read, with the LXX, “with” “instead of “to,” “with wise men he doth not associate.”
Proverbs 15:13. A joyous heart maketh the countenance cheerful.—The verb “maketh good” (Proverbs 15:2), “maketh pleasant” is here equivalent to “brighteneth.”—But in sorrow of the heart is the spirit stricken.—Others, UMBREIT, HITZIG, etc., render “is the breath oppressed, made laborious.” It is true that in this way there is produced a better parallelism with the “cheerful countenance” in clause a. But in Proverbs 17:22 also (comp, Isa. 66:2) a “broken spirit” is described by this phrase, and not a labored breathing; and instances in which, instead of the outward effect, the inward cause which underlies it is named in the second clause, are by no means unknown elsewhere; comp. 10:20; 12:22, etc.
Proverbs 15:14. With clause a compare 14:33.—The face of fools feedeth on folly.—The K’ri and the ancient versions read פִּי (mouth) instead of פְּנֵי (face) for which reason many moderns adopt the same reading, e.g., BERTHOLD [DE W., BERTHEAU, E. V., S., N., M., H., who plead not only the authority of the Versions, but the singular number in the verb, and the greater naturalness of the expression]. But as in Ps. 27:8, a “seeking” is predicated of the face [according to the rendering of HITZIG, in which he stands almost alone, “seek him, my face,”—while the vast majority of interpreters make God’s face the object sought], so here there might very fitly be ascribed to the face a “feeding on something,” a pasci, especially as this verb is here employed only in a figurative way, to denote dealing with a matter (comp. 13:20). [FUERST (Lex., sub verbo) takes the verb in quite a different sense; he makes a second radical meaning to be “to unite with,” and then “to delight in.” He also recognizes distinctly the use of this plural noun with verbs in the singular. See also NORDHEIMER, Heb. Gram. § 759, 3, a.—A.].
Proverbs 15:15. All the days of the afflicted are evil.—עָנִי is here not the outwardly distressed, the poor, but the inwardly burdened and afflicted, as the parallel in clause b shows.—But he that is of a joyful heart (hath) a perpetual feast,—or, a perpetual feast are his days. The meaning of the verse is a tolerably exact parallel to Proverbs 15:13. [To this view of the ver. RUEETSCHI (as above, p. 144) objects that the very general usus loquendi refers עָנִי to outward circumstances, and when inward conditions are described by this term it is never in the way of depreciation, other terms being used to describe distress. He renders “all the days of a poor man are (indeed) evil (in regard to his outward circumstances); but whosoever is of a joyful heart has (nevertheless) a continual feast.”—A.].
3. Proverbs 15:16–23. Of various other virtues and vices.—With 16, a, comp. Proverbs 16:8.—Than great treasure and trouble with it.—Trouble, θόρυβος, here probably not the anxiety which apprehends losing the treasure again (BERTHEAU), but the care which accumulated the wealth, and constantly seeks to increase it, Ps. 39:6 (7), (HITZIG). [RUEETSCHI observing the more general use of the noun, understands it to refer to the confusion and disorder in human society attendant upon riches without the fear of God.—A.].
Proverbs 15:17. Better is a dish of herbs, when love is there,—literally, “a portion of green,” i.e., vegetables (Jer. 40:5; 52:24; 2 Kings 25:30). Vegetables represent simple fare in general (comp. Dan. 1:2), while meat, as always and every here in the East, is holiday fare, especially the flesh of fatted oxen (Luke 15:23, 30).—Observe, furthermore, how the verse before us exhibits on the one hand a meaning exactly parallel to the preceding, while on the other hand it presents a climax to its ideas (fear of God—love to one’s neighbor; trouble—hate).—As a substantial parallel compare the proverb in MEIDANI II. 422: “Want with love is better than hatred with riches.”—With Proverbs 15:18 comp. above, Proverbs 15:1, as also 26:21; 28:25; 29:22; Ecclesiast. 28:11–13.
Proverbs 15:19. The way of the slothful is as a hedge of thorns, i.e., because he is always encountering obstacles and hinderances, does not come away having accomplished his life’s work, but must find his foot every where entangled and kept back. [The special aptness of this figure in Palestine is amply illustrated in HACKETT’S Scripture Illustrations, THOMSON’S The Land and the Book, etc.—A]. It is otherwise With the “upright,” i.e., the man who unmoved and unremitting goes about the performance of his duty, and continues with vigorous efficiency in the work of his calling. His way is, according to clause b, “built up,” i.e., lit. raised by throwing up a ridge (Isa. 57:14; 62:10; Jer. 18:15, etc.), a way which leads easily and surely to its end.—HITZIG without any necessity reads עָרִיץ for עָצֵל, to obtain as he thinks a more appropriate antithesis to the word “upright,” (יְשָׁרִים). But that the slothful may be very fitly contrasted with the upright or righteous, appears abundantly from proverbs like 10:26; 28:19; 6:10, etc.
Proverbs 15:20. With clause a compare the literally identical first half of 10:1.—But a foolish man, lit. “a fool of a man;” comp. 21:20, and the similarly constructed expression “a wild ass of a man,” Gen. 16:12. BERTHEAU wrongly renders “the most foolish of men.”
Proverbs 15:21. Folly (here unreasonable conduct, senseless action) is joy to him that lacketh wisdom. Comp. 10:23.—Goeth straight forward, lit. “maketh straight to go.” Going straight forward is naturally acting rightly in moral and religious matters.
Proverbs 15:22. (There is) Failure of plans where there is no counsel. Literally, “a breaking of plans” is, comes to pass, “where no counsel is.” For the meaning comp. 11:14, especially also with respect to clause b.—They come to pass, i.e., the plans. The singular of the verb is used in the Heb. distributively, as in Proverbs 3:18 (see notes there).
Proverbs 15:23. A man hath joy through the answer of his mouth, and a word in due season, how good is it! That the second clause cannot be antithetic to the first (HITZIG), but stands as its explanation or its climax is evident; for the “word in its time” is just the “answer” of clause a, exciting joy because apt and exactly meeting the inquiry.—Comp. furthermore parallels like 10:20, 31, 32, etc.
4. Proverbs 15:24–33. Of several other virtues especially of the religious life.—An upward path of life is the way of the wise; lit. “a path of life upward is to the wise,” i.e., the man of understanding walks in a way which as a way of life leads ever upward, to ever higher degrees of moral purity, elevation and power, but also in the same ratio to an ever-increasing prosperity. A reference to heaven as the final limit of this upward movement of the life of the righteous is so far forth indirectly included, as the antithesis to the “upward;” the “hell beneath” (hell downwards, hell to which one tends downward), suggests a hopeless abode in the dark kingdom of the dead, as the final destination of the sinner’s course of life. Therefore we have here again the idea of future existence and retribution (comp. 11:7; 14:32)—a meaning which BERTHEAU and HITZIG seek in vain to take from the proverb. Comp. ELSTER on this passage.
Proverbs 15:25. The house of the proud will Jehovah destroy. For the verb comp. 2:22. By “house” is here meant not the mere dwelling, but also the family of the proud, just as in 14:11; compare also 14:1.—And establisheth the border of the widow, i.e., the innocent widow who is in danger of being wronged by the proud through encroachment upon her borders. Comp. moreover with this expression Deut. 32:8.
Proverbs 15:26. Compare 11:20.—But pure (in His sight) are gracious words, here probably specifically words sweetly consoling, words of love and compassion toward troubled souls, comp. 16:24. Such words are in Jehovah’s judgment pure or precious, i.e., with a pure and genuine ring; comp. Ps. 19:8, 9 (9, 10).—HITZIG proposes instead of טְהוֹרִים to read טֹפְּלִים [adhere, cleave] from which comes the meaning strengthening the antithesis of the parallel: “and pleasant words cleave fast (?).”
Proverbs 15:27. He troubleth his own house that seeketh unjust gain. For the last expression “spoileth spoil,” i.e., goes after unlawful gains, seeks plunder, comp. 1:19; for the former phrase “disturb or trouble the house,” 11:29. The sentence as a whole seems to be aimed especially at unjust judges, who are willing to be bribed by gifts, in contrast with the judge that “hates gifts,” and so is incorruptible and unchangeably upright; comp. 28:16.
Proverbs 15:28. The heart of the righteous studieth to answer, i.e., reflects upon its answers with all care, that it may utter nothing evil or perverse, while the wicked thoughtlessly “pours forth” his evil and perverse thoughts (pours forth, comp. Proverbs 15:2); compare Matth. 12:35.—With Proverbs 15:29 comp. Proverbs 15:8.
Proverbs 15:30. A friendly look rejoiceth the heart. Lit. “lustre of the eyes;” it denotes, like the “light, of the countenance” in Proverbs 16:15, the cheerful beaming of the eye of the friendly, which exerts on one’s neighbor also an influence refreshing to the heart, especially at the time when, as clause b indicates, it communicates a “good message,” “joyful tidings” (comp. 25:25). For this “rich nourishing of the bones” (lit., making fat), comp. 11:28; 13:4; also 16:24.—In this conception of the verse which is the simplest and on all sides well guaranteed, according to which clause b only defines more exactly the import of clause a, there is no need either of giving an objective cast to the idea of “brightness to the eye,” as though it meant “friendly recognition” (LUTHER, DE WETTE, BERTHEAU), or of changing מְאוֹר to מַרְאֶה (HITZIG).
Proverbs 15:31. The ear that heareth the reproof of life, i.e.,., reproof which has true life for its end, which points out the way to it, and for that very reason already in advance has life in itself and imparts it.—Will abide among the wise, i.e., will itself become wise (13:20), and therefore permanently belongs to the circle of the wise. For this verb to “abide” (לוּץ), lit. to pass the night, i.e., to tarry long at some place, comp. Ps. 25:13; 49:12 (13); Job 19:4. The ear here stands by synecdoche for the hearer, as in Job 29:11; Ex. 10:26; 1 Kings 19:18.
Proverbs 15:32. He that refuseth correction despiseth himself, lit. “undervalues, lightly values his soul,” in so far as he does not ensure life, in so far as, without knowing and willing it, he loves death more than life (comp. 8:36).—But he that heedeth reproof getteth understanding; comp. 4:5, 7; 16:16. The man who “getteth understanding” is, however, according to 19:8 the very man who does not hate his own soul but loves it.
Proverbs 15:33. With clause a compare 1:7; 9:10.—And before honor is humility. Humility here plainly appears as the necessary correlate to the fear of God, and as a chief manifestation of wisdom, which is elsewhere named as that which confers honor, e.g., 3:16; 8:18. Compare 18:12, b, where the second clause of the verse before us occurs again.—The entire verse, by virtue of its somewhat general character, is equally well adapted to close a long series of proverbs, and to open a new section. It is therefore unnecessary, as HITZIG does, to transfer it to the following chapter, and to regard it, as a sort of superscription to the second half of that division of the Book of Proverbs in which we now are (chap. 16–22).
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
Among the proverbs of the chapter before us, which hardly admit of a grouping according to any well-established, clearly conspicuous principle of classification (comp. the four divisions which are distinguished in the “Exegetical Notes:” Proverbs 15:1–7; 8–15; 16–23; 24–33), several stand out as of no slight theological and soteriological importance,—especially the beautiful reference to the omniscience of God, the holy and righteous Ruler, in Proverbs 15:3 and Proverbs 15:11,—and the twice repeated emphasizing of the religious worthlessness of outward shows of reverence for God, without true devotion and consecration in the heart, Proverbs 15:8 and 29. The last mentioned truth is among the favorite ideas of the enlightened prophetic teachers and men of God in the Old Testament; (compare the parallel passages cited above in connection with Proverbs 15:8). It lets the clear light of that evangelical saving grace, which was already operative under the economy of the law, but which only in Christ rose as a full-orbed sun, shine with quite peculiar brightness on the dark ground of Old Testament life. In this connection there is, it is true, the distinction to be made (noticed above under Proverbs 15:8) between “sacrifice” and “prayer;” that the former term describes a gift brought to God, the latter a desire directed to Him. Yet this is by no means an essential difference; for both, sacrifice and prayer, which indeed falls likewise under the category of offering in the broadest sense (Ps. 119:108; Heb. 13:15), come under consideration here only as general tokens of reverence for God; and the value of both is clearly defined by this test, whether the state of heart in those who bring them is or is not well pleasing to God (comp. Isa.29:13; Matt. 15:7 sq.); in other words, whether the offering brought is a purely outward act, or the fruit of a sincere self-consecration of the entire personality in spirit and in truth, a “reasonable service” in the sense of Rom. 12:1.
Closely related to the scope of these proverbs is what was said above, on Proverbs 15:17, of the worthlessness of outward shows of beneficence, especially free hospitality without inward love (comp. 1 Cor. 13:2).—Furthermore a specially serious consideration is due to the warnings against low greed and avarice, as leading, nevertheless, to the destruction of one’s own home: Proverbs 15:6 and 27; to the repeated allusions to the necessity that one readily submit himself to reproof and correction for his faults: Proverbs 15:5, 10, 12, 31, 32; to the beautiful commendation of humility as the first step to true honor: Proverbs 15:33; and finally to the reiterated reference to the righteous judgment of God, which reaches its completion only in the life to come: Proverbs 15:25 (see notes on this passage).
HOMILETIC AND PRACTICAL
Homily on the entire chapter: Right sensibility or a pure heart the only true service of God (1 Sam. 15:22), demonstrated 1) in good and perverse conduct with the mouth and tongue (Proverbs 15:1–7); 2) in proper worship or the religious life (Proverbs 15:8–15); 3) in the intercourse of man with his neighbors (Proverbs 15:16–33).—Or again; Love (to God and men) as the germ and the true norm of all religious rectitude (Hos. 6:6; Matt. 9:13; 12:7).—Comp. STÖCKER: How true prudence (wisdom) must guard man against sins 1) of the tongue (1–9); 2) of the heart and the hands (10–22); 3) against other sins of various kinds (23–33).—In a similar way WOHLFARTH: The effect of prudence; a means of guarding one’s self against sins of various kinds.
Proverbs 15:1–7. STARKE (on Proverbs 15:1, 2); when genuine piety exists there will not be wanting other manifestations of friendliness and gentleness. Even where there is occasion for earnestness in the punishment of transgressions, a friendly spirit must still be combined with it. Earnestness without friendship profits as little as friendliness without earnestness.—GEIER (on Proverbs 15:3): If God knows all things then He knows also His children’s need, and is intent on their help and deliverance.—(On Proverbs 15:5): If even to the most capable and powerful spirits there is still need of good discipline and instruction, how much more to the indolent and drowsy!—(On Proverbs 15:6); In connection with temporal blessings be intent upon righteousness in their attainment, contentment in their possession, prudence and system in their employment, submission in their loss!—[ARNOT (on Proverbs 15:1): Truth alone may be hated, and love alone despised; man will flee from the one and trample on the other; but when truth puts on love, and love leans on truth, in that hallowed partnership lies the maximum of moral power within the reach of man in the present world.—TRAPP (on Proverbs 15:6): Every righteous man is a rich man, whether he hath more or less of the things of this life. For, first, he hath plenty of that which is precious. Secondly, propriety: what he hath is his own].
Proverbs 15:8–19. CRAMER (on Proverbs 15:8): It is not works that make the man good, but when the man is justified, then his works are also good; God in His grace makes well-pleasing to Himself the works that come of faith, even though great imperfections still mingle with them.—STARKE (on Proverbs 15:11): The doctrine of God’s omniscience is already in the Old Testament revealed frequently enough, and so clearly that no one can excuse himself on the ground of ignorance concerning it. (On
Proverbs 15:12): He is wise who gladly associates with those from whom he can learn something, though it be disagreeable to the flesh to do so.—ZELTNER (on Proverbs 15:13 sq.): He is the most prosperous man who possesses the treasure of a good conscience and seeks to preserve it; he can always be joyful in God (Acts 26:16).—WOHLFARTH (Proverbs 15:13–17): The joyous heart. What can all the good things of this earth profit us when our inner nature is in trouble and our countenance sad? How rich are we, even with little earthly possession, if we only possess the one good of a conscience at peace, and a heart joyful in God!—VON GERLACH (on Proverbs 15:19): The sluggard lets his paths grow over, i.e., his means of acquisition go to waste, and his resources decay.—[CHARNOCK (on Proverbs 15:11); God knows the whole state of the dead—things that seem to be out of all being; He knows the thoughts of the devils and damned creatures, whom He hath cast out of His care forever into the arms of His justice; much more is He acquainted with the thoughts of living men, etc.]
Proverbs 15:20–33, HASIUS (on Proverbs 15:22, 23): Many eyes see more than one, and many souls think more than one; therefore never esteem thyself so wise that thou shouldst not seek others’ counsel.…A good thought on which one falls at the right time is not to be valued with much gold.—WOHLFARTH (on Proverbs 15:22–26): Important as it is in general that one testify the truth, as important is the way in which, this is done.—VON GERLACH (on Proverbs 15:24): The very direction of the way which the wise enters saves him from extreme disasters; it leads toward God, toward the kingdom of eternal light, welfare and life.—(On Proverbs 15:33): Honor one can attain in the way of truth only by giving honor to the Lord alone, i.e., by profound humility (1 Peter 5:6).—J. LANGE: True humility consists not in all manner of outward gestures, but in the fact that one in perfect self-denial agree with the will of God, Luke 1:38.—[W. BATES (on Proverbs 15:33): Humility preserves the true and noble freedom of the mind of man, secures his dear liberty and peaceful dominion of himself. This is the effect of excellent wisdom].
A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.