Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
b) Against vain self-praise and presumption
(With an admonition to prudence and frugality in agriculture: Proverbs 27:23–27)
1 Boast not thyself of to-morrow,
for thou knowest not what a day will bring forth.
2 Let another praise thee and not thine own mouth,
a stranger and hot thine own lips.
3 Stone is heavy and sand weighty;
the fool’s wrath is heavier than them both.
4 Anger is cruel and wrath is outrageous;
but who can stand before jealousy ?
5 Better is open rebuke
than secret love.
6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend,
but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.
7 The satisfied soul loatheth a honeycomb;
to a hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.
8 As a bird that wandereth from her nest
so is a man that wandereth from his home.
9 Oil and perfume rejoice the heart,
but the sweetness of a friend is better than one’s own counsel.
10 Thine own friend and thy father’s friend forsake not;
and into thy brother’s house enter not in the day of thy calamity;
better is a neighbor that is near than a brother far off.
11 Be wise, my son, and make my heart glad,
that I may know how to give an answer to him that reproacheth me.
12 The prudent man seeth the evil (and) hideth himself;
the simple pass on and are punished.
13 Take his garment, for he hath become surety for a stranger,
and on account of a strange woman put him under bonds!
14 He that blesseth his friend with a loud voice early in the morning,
let it be reckoned a curse to him!
15 A continual dropping in a very rainy day
and a contentious woman are alike.
16 He that will restrain her restraineth the wind,
and his right hand graspeth after oil.
17 Iron sharpeneth iron;
so doth a man sharpen the face of his friend.
18 Whosoever watcheth the fig-tree eateth its fruit,
and he that hath regard to his master is honored.
19 As in water face (answereth) to face
so the heart of man to man.
20 Hell and destruction are never full,
and the eyes of man are not satisfied.
21 The fining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold,
but man according to his glorying.
22 Though thou bruise a fool in a mortar
among grain with a pestle,
his folly will not depart from him.
23 Thou shalt know well the face of thy sheep;
direct thy mind to thine herds;
24 for riches are not forever,
and doth the crown endure forevermore?
25 The grass disappeareth, and the tender grass is seen,
and the herbs of the mountains are gathered.
26 Lambs (are) for thy clothing
and the price of thy field (is) goats;
27 and abundance of goat’s milk for thy food, for the food of thine house,
and subsistence for thy maidens.
GRAMMATICAL AND CRITICAL
Proverbs 27:4. אַכְזְרִיּוּת is used here only in the Old Testament.
Proverbs 27:5. [טֹובָה is regarded by BÖTT. (§ 1133, 1 and n 3) as the 3d sing. fem. of the verb and not as the fem. of the adj.: the chief evidence being found in the participles following, which, according to Hebrew usage, more naturally follow a unite verb.—A.]
Proverbs 27:9. [רֵעֵהוּ we have one of the examples found in Hebrew in connection with words in wide and frequent me, in which the suffix loses all distinct and specific application; comp. in modern languages Monsicur, Madonna, Mynherr; etc.; therefore one’s friend, a friend, and not his friend. Bött., § 876, c. עֲצַת is regarded by GESEN., FUERST, DÖDERLEIN, DATHE, etc., as a fem. of עֵץ used collectively; the meaning in connection with נֶפֶשׁ is then, “more than fragrant wood Bött. (§ 643, δ) pronounces all the examples cited in the lexicons for this use of the noun” more than doubtful; and, as the exegetical notes show, nearly all commentators give to עֵצָה its ordinary meaning.—A.]
Proverbs 27:10. [רֵעֶה is one of three nouns whose full and original form appears only in the stat. constr.; the K’ri therefore points as though the absol. were used רֵעַ, while the K’thibh exhibits the form רֵעֵה. See Green, § 215, 1, e; BÖTT. §§ 721, 8; 794, Decl. 4.—A.]
Proverbs 27:11. [וְאָשִיבָה an Intentional, or paragogic Imperf., connected to Imperatives by וְ used as a final conjunction, “ in order that;” BÖTT., § 965, B, c. And let me=that I may.—A.]
Proverbs 27:14.הַשְכֵּים, an Infin. abs. used adverbially, as in Jer. 25:4; here on account of the pause written with ־ֵי instead of simple ־ֵ.
Proverbs 27:15. On the question whether נִשְׁתָּוָה is to be accented and explained as a 3d pers. Nithpael, or whether, with KIMCHI, NORZI, and the most recent editors and expositors, we should point the form as Milel [with penultimate accent], and accordingly regard it as perhaps a voluntative Hithpael, with the ־ָה of motion (therefore “let us compare”,), con-suit BERTHEAU, STIER and HITZIG on the passage. [GESEN., RÖD. (GESEN. Thes., p. 1376, add. p. 114), FUERST, etc. make the form a Nithpael; BÖTT. (§§ 474, 4, a and 1072, θ) agrees with HITZIG in making it a simple Niphal with a different transposition of consonants, and argues at length for this view. FUERST pronounces the form participial, in opposition to nearly all lexicographers and commentators who make it 2d sing. fem. GESSN. and some others, following Chaldee analogies, rendered, “are to be feared”. RÖDIGER (ubi supra) and most others render, “are esteemed alike,” or “ are alike.” Comp. also EWALD, Lehrb. § 182, d; GREEN, § 83, c (2).—.A.]
Proverbs 27:16. יִקְרֶה = יִקְרָא, according to an interchange which is common of א with ה. [In clause a we have a singular verb following a plural participle taken distributively as in 22:21; 25:13, etc.—A.]
Proverbs 27:17. יַחַד is best regarded, as GEIER, BERTHEAU and STIER take it, as an Imperf. apoc. Hiphil from חדד = חדה “ to sharpen.” EWALD, ELSTER, etc., needlessly take the first יחד in clause a as a Hophal: יֻחַד (comp. the Vulg. exacuitur) and would have only the second recognized as a Voluntative Hiphil (to be pointed יַחַד or יַחֵד. [BÖTT]. §1124, b insists that the Masoretic forms can be regarded as nothing but the ordinary adverb “ together,” and that the pointing must be changed to יֻחַד ,יֻחָד, or יֵחַד ,יֵחָד. Green, § 140, 1, makes it a simple Kal Imperf. Fuerst regards it as a Niphhal Imperf., no change of vocalization being required, although the more common form would be יֵהַד. RÖD. (Thes. GESEN., Ind. pp. 6, 88) regards the form as an apoc. Hiphil. for the more common יַחֵד, used impersonally, “one sharpens, men sharpen.”—A.]
Proverbs 27:20. The parallel passage 15:11 (see notes on this passage) shows that instead of אֲבַדֹּה (or again instead of אֲבֵדָה) we should read with the K’ri אֲבַדּוֹן, or that we should a least assume a transition of this latter form into the former) in the way of lexical decay (as in מְגִדּוֹ for מְגִדּוֹן). [BÖTT. (§§ 262, a; 233) notes this as a tendency in proper nouns, aided perhaps in the case before us by the following liquid.—A.]
Proverbs 27:22. [בַּעֱלִי instead of the more regular בָּעֱלִי, mimetically sharpened in its vocalization at the end of its clause. See BÖTT., §§ 394, b; 493, 6.—A.]
Proverbs 27:25. [עִשְּׁבוֹת with Daghesh dirimens or separative, indicating the vocal nature of the Sheva. See, e.g. GREEN §24, b; 21G, 2, a.—A.]
1. Proverbs 27:1–6. Three pairs of proverbs, directed against self-praise, jealousy and flattery.
Proverbs 27:1, 2. Boast not thyself of tomorrow, i.e., “do not throw out with proud assurance high-soaring schemes for the future” (ELSTER); do not boast of future undertakings as if they had already succeeded and were assured.—For thou knowest not -what a day -will bring forth; i.e., what a day, whether it be today or to-morrow, will bring in new occurrences, is absolutely unknown to thee. Comp. James 4:13–15; also HORACE, Od., iv. 7, 17: Quis scit an adjiciant hodiernze crastina summæ Tempora Di superi?—
[“Who knows if they who all our fates control
Will add a morrow to thy brief to-day?”
THEO. MARTIN’S TRANSLATION.]
and SENECA, Thyest. V. 619: Nemo tarn divos habuit faoentes Crastinum ut possit polliceri[No one has had the gods so favorable that he can promise himself a morrow].—With Proverbs 27:2 comp. the German Eigenlob stinkt, and Arabic proverbs like “Not as mother says, but as the neighbors say” (FUERST, Perlenschnare, ii. 8), or “Lot thy praise come from thy friend’s and kinsman’s mouth, not from thine own” (MEIDANI, p. 467.)
Proverbs 27:3, 4.—Stone is heavy and sand ¦weighty, lit., “ weight of stone and heaviness of the sand.” HITZIG fitly remarks with respect to the genitive combinations of this as well as the succeeding verse (“ Cruelty of anger, etc.”) “ The genitive relation holding a figure before our eye instead of developing it in a proposition, possesses nevertheless the value of a combination of predicate and subject.” [So K., W., etc., while S. and others make the relation directly that of subject and predicate].—The fool’s wrath, i.e., probably not: the vexation and anger occasioned in others by the fool (COCCEIUS, SCHULTENS, BERTHEAU, [S.], etc.], but the annoyance and ill-humor experienced by himself, whether it may have originated in envy, or in a chafing against some correction that he has received, etc. Such ill-temper in the fool is a burden, heavier than stone and sand, and that too a burden for himself, but beyond this also for those who must besides suffer under it, whom he makes to feel in common and innocently his ill-will and temper.—Anger is cruel arid wrath is outrageous, lit., “cruelty of anger and inundation of wrath.” With regard to the genitives, compare remarks above on vs. 3, a. For the expression “overflowing of wrath ” or “ excess, outrageousness of wrath,” comp. Is. 30:28, 30; Dan. 9:27; 11:22.—קִנְאָה in clause b. often “envy,” is plainly “jealousy,” as in 6:34, 35, which passage is here to be compared in general.
Proverbs 27:5, 6. Better is open rebuke (open, undisguised censure, honorably expressing its meaning) than secret love, i.e., than love which from false consideration dissembles, and does not name to one’s neighbor his faults even where it should do so. Compare the ἀληθεύειν ἐν ἀγάπῃ, Eph. 4:15, as well as the numerous parallels in classic authors (PLAUTUS, Trinummus, I. 2, 57; CICERO, Læl. 25; SENECA, Epist. 25); and MEIDANI, 2:64: “Love lasts long as the censure lasts,” etc.—Faithful (lit. true, coming from a true disposition) are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy. נַעְתָּרוֹת, from the root עָתַר, is if this be identical with עשׁר, largus fuit, as is generally assumed, equivalent to “plentiful” (comp. עָשִׁיר), in which case we must think of kisses “liberally bestowed but faithless,” or it may be kisses “to be lightly esteemed” (so GESEN., UMBREIT, BERTHEAU, STIER [FUERST, S., W.]) And yet it corresponds better with the parallelism, as well as with the exegetical tradition (Vulg., fraudulenta), to derive from an Arabic root عثر, to stumble (σφάλλειν, fallere, therefore falsus, false—30 EWALD, ELSTER, etc.), or it may be from غىل ر = עדר in the sense of “ to miss”—thus HITZIG,—both of which modes of explanation give the idea ”deceptive, crafty, treacherous.” With regard to the meaning compare, therefore, Proverbs 26:23.
2. Proverbs 27:7–14. Eight proverbs in praise of contentment, of friendship, prudence, etc.
Proverbs 27:7. A satisfied soul loatheth honeycomb. The verb literally means “ tramples, treads under feet,” comp. Dan. 7:19: Judg. 5:21.—With clause b compare the German proverb “Hunger is the best cook;” and also Ecclesiast. 4:2.
Proverbs 27:8. So is a man that roameth far from his dwelling-place. As the preceding proverb is directed against a want of contentment in the department of food and drink, so is this against weariness of one’s own home, against adventurous wandering impulses, and a restless roving without quiet domestic tastes. Comp. Ecclesiast. 29:28, 29; 36:28.
Proverbs 27:9. With clause a compare Ps. 104:15; 133:2 —But the sweetness of a friend is better than one’s own counsel. The “sweetness” of the friend is according to 16:21 doubtless sweetness of the lips, the pleasing, agreeable discourse of the friend (lit. “of his friend;” the suffix stands indefinitely, with reference i.e., to every friend that a man really has; here with especial reference to the possessor of the נֶפֶשׁ). See also the critical notes. The מֵעֲצַת is best taken in the sense of comparison (with JARCHI, LEVI, COCCEIUS, UMBREIT, STIER): “better than counsel of the soul,” i.e., better than one’s own counsel, better than that prudence which will help itself and relies purely on its own resources (comp. 28:26). EWALD, ELSTER (in like manner also LUTHER, GEIER, DE WETTE [K., N.], etc.,) render: “The sweetness of the friend springeth from (faithful) counsel of soul,” which is understood as describing the genuineness and the hearty honesty of the friend’s disposition. BERTHEAU gives a similar idea, except that he supplies in b from a the predicate with its object: “The sweetness of a friend from sincere counsel maketh glad the heart” (?); [this is very nearly the conception of the E. V., H., S., M.]. HITZIG following the καταῤῥήγνυται δὲ ὑπό συμπωμάτων ἡ ψυχή of the LXX, amends so as to read: “but the soul is rent with cares.” [See critical notes for still other expositions of the phrase.]
Proverbs 27:10. Thine own friend and thy father’s friend forsake not. Whether one read with the K’ri וְרֵעַ or with the K’thibh the stat. constr. of the emphatic form [or according to others the primitive form—see critical notes], in any even; together with the friend of the person addressed “his father’s friend ” is also named, but as an identical person with the former, who, for that reason, has a value proportionally greater, and may so much the less be neglected, because he is as it were an heirloom of the family of long tried fidelity and goodness.—And into thy brother’s house enter not in the day of thy calamity. HITZIG, who explains the three clauses of this verse as originally separate propositions, only “afterward forced together,” fails to see a logical connection as well between a and b as between b and c. This is in fact in the highest degree arbitrary, for the common aim of the three members: to emphasize the great value of true friendship and its pre-eminence in comparison with a merely external relationship of blood, comes out to view as clearly as possible. The “near” neighbor is he who keeps himself near as one dispensing counsel and help to the distressed, just as the “far off” brother is he who, on account of his unloving disposition, keeps at a distance from the same. [Our commentators have in general agreed substantially with this conception of the scope of the verse.—A.].
Proverbs 27:11. Be wise, my son, and make my heart glad, etc. Evidently an admonition of a fatherly teacher of wisdom addressed to his pupil (comp. 1:8 sq.; 22:21; 23:15),—perhaps of the same one to whom the wise counsel of the preceding verse in regard to conduct toward friends likewise belonged.—That I may know how to give an answer to him that reproacheth me (literally, “and so will I then return a word to my reviler ”), i.e., in order that I, pointing to thy wise and exemplary conduct, nay be able to stop the mouth of him who reviles me, the responsible teacher. Comp. Ps. 119:42; also 127:5; Ecclesiast. 30:2 sq.
Proverbs 27:12. In almost literal accordance with 22:3.
Proverbs 27:13. Almost exactly like 20:16 (comp. notes on this passage.)
Proverbs 27:14. He that blesseth his friend with a loud voice early in the morning. These words are directed against a friend who is flattering and profuse in compliment, but inwardly insincere; who, by his congratulations, hasty, and offered with boisterous ostentation, brings, instead of a real blessing to his friend, only a curse upon his house, at least in the general judgment of the people. For of them we must think, in clause b as those who are to “reckon.” For this last verb and its construction, “ reckoning something to some one,” comp. Gen. 15:6. [This insincere and untimely praise may be accredited to its giver as no better than a curse in his intention, or more positively it may be regarded as veiling an evil intent, and so threatening an actual curse to him who is its object.—A.]
3. Proverbs 27:15, 16. Two maxims concerning a contentious woman.—A continual dropping in a very rainy day (according to the Arabic סַגְרִיר denotes “a rain poured as if out of buckets,” and so “a pouring rain;” moreover the word occurs only here), and a contentious woman are alike. Like this, only more concise, is Proverbs 19:13, b. [The peculiar force of this comparison to one who has been in the rainy season under the flat earthy roofs of Oriental houses, is commented on and illustrated, e.g., in Hackett’s Scripture Illustrations, p. 85, and THOMSON’S Land and Book, I. 453. A.]—He that will restrain her restraineth the wind (צַָן literally “to shut out, dam up, confine”), and his right hand graspeth after oil, i.e., it grasps after something, encounters an object, seeks to retain something that is necessarily continually eluding it. [The idea of hiding her disagreeable and vexatious disposition from the view of others, which is expressed by the E. V., H., W.,. in both clauses, and by N. and M. in the, second, is less appropriate and forcible than that given in the version of our author, K., S., etc.—A.]
4. Proverbs 27:17–22. Six proverbs against haughtiness, selfishness, a greedy eye, self-praise and folly.—Iron sharpeneth iron, lit. iron to iron maketh sharp, or according to others, “iron is made sharp by iron,”—see critical notes]. So doth a man sharpen the face of his friend. Whether we render פָּנִים by “face, look,” or (as HITZIG maintains) by “edge, acies ingenii, the men tal keenness,” in-either case the meaning is not: “One enrages, provokes the other” (STIER and in like manner BERTHEAU), but: One stimulates the other, polishes himself by mutual spiritual contact and friction with his fellow, contributes by such an interchange of one’s own peculiarities with those of his fellow to the spiritual development of both (compare especially ELSTER and HITZIG on the passage). [“Conference hath incredible profit in all sciences,” observes TRAPP. “A man by himself,” says MUFFET, “is no man, he is dull, he is very blunt; but if his fellow come and quicken him by his presence, speech, and example, he is so whetted on by this means that he is much more comfortable, skilful, and better than he was when he was alone. “So most of our commentators, while STUART, and NOYES with a qualification, would find the idea of provocation, not as though anger were even indirectly commended, but “if men must enter into contest, let the antagonists be worthy of the strife” (S.); an exposition far weaker as well as more unnatural than the ordinary one.—A.].
Proverbs 27:18. With the general proposition in a comp. 12:11; 28:19.—And he that hath regard to his master is honored. The honor which the master (i.e., any master whatever, and not God especially, the master of all, as STIER holds) confers upon his faithful servant resembles the fruit which the fig tree yields to the proprietor or tenant who carefully cultivates it. “To regard one,” colere aliquem, as in Ps. 31:7; Hos. 4:10.
Proverbs 27:19. As (in) water face (answereth) to face, so the heart of man to man. כַּמַּיִם, an accusative of place: “as in water,” EWALD, § 221. The meaning will be like that of Proverbs 27:17, somewhat such as this: “As the mirror of the water reflects the likeness of one’s own face, so one’s heart is mirrored in that of his fellow, if one only has courage and penetration enough to look deeply into this ” (EWALD; comp. STIER and BERTHEAU). There is contained in this at the same time an admonition to the wise testing and examination both of one’s own heart and that of our fellow-men; or, the recommendation of a comprehensive knowledge of men, to be gained by thorough knowledge of one’s self. The Vulgate already gives essentially the right idea: “Quomodo in aquis resplendent vullus respicientium, sic corda hominum manifesta sunt prudentibus;” while several other ancient expositors, whom ELSTER to some extent follows, find expressed in the passage a relation too exclusively ethical, viz., that of arousing by love a reciprocal love, or that of the practical maxim, “Si vis amari, ama” [“Love if you would be loved”].—HITZIG thinks that clause a כְּמוּם must be the reading instead of כַּמַּיִם: “What a mole on the face is to the face, that is man’s heart to man,” viz., his disfiguring mole, his dark spot, his partie honteuse in the sense of Gen. 8:21 (?). [Among our English expositors the mirror and the mirrored object have been somewhat variously understood; some retain while others dismiss the specific idea of reflection that is suggested by clause a. MUFFET and HOLDEN, e.g., make a man’s own heart the mirror in which he may truly know himself; WORDSW. makes the mirror the hearts of others on whom we act; while the great majority make the reflected object the oneness, especially the moral oneness of human nature, as discoverable from any heart into which we may look (so e.g., BP. HALL, TRAPP, LAWSON, BRIDGES, S. and M.)—A.].
Proverbs 27:20. Hell and destruction are never full [i.e., not the world of the lost, but the world of the dead]. The meaning of clause b as indicated by this parallel in a cannot be doubtful. It relates to the really demoniacal insatiableness of human passion, especially the “lust of the eyes;” comp. 1 John 2:16; James 3:6; and in particular Prov. 30:16; Eccles. 1:8.
Proverbs 27:21. With a compare the literally identical language in Proverbs 17:3 a.—But man according to his glorying, i.e., one is judged according to the standard of that of which he makes his boast (the noun to be taken not in a subjective, but in an objective sense, of the object of one’s glorying). If his boast is of praiseworthy things, then he is recognized as a strong, true man, etc.; if he glories in trivial or even of evil things, he is abhorred; comp. above Proverbs 27:2. Thus EWALD, BERTHEAU, HITZIG, [K.], while the majority (the LXX, Vulg., LUTHER, etc., also UMBREIT, STIER, ELSTER, etc.), translate the second clause: “so is man for the mouth of his praise,” i.e., for the mouth of the one that praises him [testing the nature and worth of the praise that is bestowed]—to which the figure in clause a can be made to correspond only by a considerably forced interpretation. [Here again among the English expositors who adopt this general idea, making the praise objective, there is diversity in carrying out the details. Is man the crucible or is he the object tested? N. and W. take the former view, according to which man tests or should test with careful discrimination the praise bestowed upon him; H., S. and M. take the other view, by which the praise is represented as testing him and disclosing his real character in the effects which it produces upon him.—A.].
Proverbs 27:22. Though thou bruise a fool in a mortar among grain (“grains of wheat;” the word is used only here and in 2 Sam. 17:19), with a pestle, etc. The meaning of this proverb, which has at least its humorous side, is plain; lack of reason is to such a degree the very substance of the fool, is so intertwined in his inward and outward nature, that one might divide him into atoms without eradicating thereby this fundamental character of his. This idea is not so clearly connected with the preceding verse by its substance as by the similarity of the figures employed in the two (the crucible and the mortar); comp. HITZIG on the passage.
5. Proverbs 27:23–27. Admonition to a prudent and frugal economy in connection with agricultural possessions.—Thou shalt know well (Z. “make thyself well acquainted with”) the face of thy sheep. “The look of the sheep” (comp. Gen. 30:40), i.e., its condition and thrift.
Proverbs 27:24. For riches are not forever—viz., the supply of subsistence, on the abundant presence of which the good appearance of the flock depends above all things else.—And doth the crown endure forevermore? The question introduced by this interrogative (וְאִם) expresses the idea of a very strong negation, standing as a climax to “the preceding: and even the crown, the royal diadem, has no perpetual existence. The נֵצֶר seems not to designate the metal of itself that composes the king’s crown, but the kingly dignity and authority represented by it; the expression “from generation to generation” plainly indicates this. HITZIG’S rendering is as trivial as it is contrary to the usus loquendi: that נֵצֶר means “grass, fodder” (because it sometimes signifies the hair of the head, and may therefore designate the herbage as a hairlike ornament to the earth!).
Proverbs 27:25. The grass disappeareth, etc.; a reason for the admonition contained in the preceding verse, that one should be intent upon laying up ample supplies of nourishment for the flocks. The discourse passes over in Proverbs 27:25–27 to a richly diversified description of the beauty and abundance of rural nature, reminding us of Ps. 65:10–14, but in its present connection having this aim,—to show how God’s creation liberally rewards the labor bestowed upon it by the active and industrious landlord. Neither this concluding picture, nor the entire passage from Proverbs 27:23 onward can be interpreted in some allegorical way (with various ancient expositors, SCHULTENS and STIER), and be applied to the conduct of the spiritual, pastoral office of the teacher of wisdom. As the utmost that is admissible this conception may have a place under certain conditions in the practical and homiletic treatment of the passage. [WORDSW. characteristically makes much of the secondary import of these verses.—A.].
Proverbs 27:26. And goats (as) price for the field; i.e., goats of such value that for each one a piece of arable land might be exchanged.
Proverbs 27:27. Abundance also of goat’s milk … for subsistence for thy maidens. וְחַיִּים (with which we must repeat לְ from the preceding) “and life” is here equivalent to “substance, nourishment.“ Female servants, maidens, waiting women, were wanting in no large household among the Hebrews, not even in the royal palace and the temple; comp. 2 Sam. 4:6; 1 Sam. 2:22 sq. Here we must naturally think first of shepherdesses, milkmaids, etc.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL, HOMILETIC AND PRACTICAL
Modesty, contentment and prudence are the central ideas about which we may group the practical instructions of the section just expounded, if not in all their items at least in large measure. Especially may we throw under these categories what is said of the necessity of avoiding all vain self-praise, and of boasting in an inconsiderate extravagant way neither of our own prosperity nor of our neighbor’s (Proverbs 27:1, 2, 14, 21); in like manner that which relates to the duty of moderation in ill temper and jealousy, in sensual enjoyments, in love of restless wandering and of sight-seeing (Proverbs 27:3, 4, 7, 8, 20); and not less, finally, the admonition which recurs in manifold transformations to a general prudence in life, as it should be exhibited in social and business intercourse with others, and in the diligent discharge of the domestic duties of one’s calling (Proverbs 27:11, 13, 17–19, 23–27). If so inclined we might reckon among those commendations of an all-embracing practical wisdom even the warning against the contentiousness of a bad woman (Proverbs 27:15, 16), as well as the encomiums upon a genuine, unfeigned friendship, in Proverbs 27:5, 6, 9, 10; and in these especially, and above all in the command (Proverbs 27:10): to regard the love of a true friend more highly than the bonds of relationship of blood,—an injunction which reminds us of expressions in the New Testament, such as Matth. 10:37; 12:48–50, we might see the very climax, and the main theme of the discourse of wisdom which constitutes this chapter. Over against this counsel, to give to the love of a true friend the preference above all vain passions and selfish interests, we have presented in a significant way the evidence which establishes the sad truth, that the fool is not disposed at any price to let go his selfish, vain, arrogant nature (Proverbs 27:22), in connection with which fact allusion is made to the natural corruption of human hearts in general and to the necessity for their being given up to the delivering and renewing influences of divine grace (comp. Proverbs 27:11).
Homily on the chapter as a whole: “Godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Tim. 6:6).—Or, boast neither of thy prosperity, nor of thy deeds, nor of any earthly and human advantages whatsoever, but only of the Lord (1 Cor.1:31).—STÖCKER: Of conceit and vain presumption as a first and main hinderance to the progress of true wisdom (comp. besides comments on chapters 28 and 29).—Calwer Handbuch: Of the means of attaining true honor.
Proverbs 27:1–6. MELANCHTHON (on verse 1): That which is necessary and first demanded by our duty we must do before all else, conscientiously, and with appeals for divine help, lest in reliance upon our own strength or on foolish hopes we undertake needless and futile things.—STARKE: He walks the more cautiously who always considers that to-day may be the day of his death (James 4:13 sq.; Ecclesiast. 7:40).—Comp. the New Year’s Sermon by RÖHR (Sonntagsfeier, 1844, No. 15): “The high and weighty import that each year of life has for us.”—[J. EDWARDS: Not depending on another day, is a different thing from concluding that we shall not live another day. We ought not to behave ourselves in any respect as though we depended on another day.—ARNOT: This proverb contains only the negative side of the precept; but it is made hollow for the very purpose of holding the positive promise in its bosom. The Old Testament sweeps away the wide-spread indurated error; the New Testament then deposits its saving truth upon the spot.—A. FULLER (on verse 2): A vain man speaks well of himself; and Paul speaks well of himself. The motive in the one case is desire of applause; in the other justice to an injured character, and to the Gospel which suffered in his reproaches.—BP. HOPKINS: The tongue is of itself very apt to be lavish when it hath so sweet and pleasing a theme as a man’s own praise].—Tübingen Bible: Self-praise is a sign of great pride, and must be in the highest degree offensive to the wise man when he has to hear it.—GEIER. (on verses 3, 4): If even the pious man may easily transgress in his anger, how much more easily the ungodly!—LANGE (on Proverbs 27:5, 6): He who truly loves his neighbor is bound, when the occasion presents itself, to persuade, admonish and warn him; Ps. 141:5; Gal. 6:1.—WOHLFARTH (on Proverbs 27:5, 6, 9, 10): Moral perfection the highest aim and blessing of true friendship.—VON GERLACH: A rebuke before the whole world is better than a love that proves itself by nothing, that only flatters in connection with a neighbor’s faults.—[LORD BACON: This proverb rebukes the mistaken kindness of friends who do not use the privilege of friendship freely and boldly to admonish their friends as well of their errors as their dangers.]
Proverbs 27:8 sq. MELANCTHON (on Proverbs 27:8): Solomon here warns against our forsaking our lawful calling from weariness; Eph. 4:1; 1 Cor. 7:20.—LUTHER (marginal comment on Proverbs 27:8): Let no assault drive thee from thy calling; hold fast, and God will make thee prosper.—LANGE: By discontent with one’s position and calling one only doubles his need, and sins grossly against God’s holy providence.—[MUFFET: The wandering person is hated and despised by all; none honoreth his kindred, none regardeth his beauty, none careth for him, and none feareth to hurt him.—JOHN HOWE (on Proverbs 27:10): If it be an indecency, and uncomeliness, and a very unfit thing, that is, contrary to the precept of studying whatsoever is lovely, and thinking of those things, to forsake my friend and my father’s friend, how much more horrid must it be to forsake my God and my father’s God!]—STARKE (on Proverbs 27:9, 10): God is the best of all friends; strive with great care, that thou mayest obtain God’s favor and friendship, and thou mayest never lose them.—VON GERLACH: Union of spirit with an old family friend from the father down is to be much preferred to mere relationship of blood.—[T. ADAMS (on Proverbs 27:12): The fool goes, he runs, he flies; as if God that rides upon the wings of the wind should not overtake him, Haste might be good if the way were good, and good speed added to it, but this is the shortest way out of the way. He need not run fast: the fool may come soon enough to that place from whence he must never return].
Proverbs 27:14. sq. LUTHER (marginal comment or Proverbs 27:14): He who reproves much praises, and he who praises much censures; for they are not believed because they go too far.—Tübingen Bible: Too much praised is half censured. Trust not the flatterer who praises thee to excess.—[BP. HOPKINS: Let all thy reproofs be given as secretly and privately as throu canst; otherwise thou wilt seem not so much to aim a thy brother’s reformation, as at his shame and confusion.—LORD BACON: Moderate praise used with opportunity, and not vulgar, is that which doeth the good.—ARNOT (on Proverbs 27:17): One half of the human faculties are framed for maintaining intercourse with men, and one half of the divine law is occupied with rules for regulating it].—MELANCTHON: Let us recognize our weakness, and see that the individual man is ignorant of much, errs and stumbles, and. … that God has furnished us men with the power of speech chiefly for this, that one may befriend another with counsel and instruction.—ZELTNER: The pious should arouse one another, and stimulate to all good works (Heb. 10:24), and that too in all circumstances.—GEIER (on Proverbs 27:18): Faithful labor and diligence find at length their rich reward—if not from men, at least from God; Heb. 6:10.
Proverbs 27:19 sq. LUTHER (marginal comment on Proverbs 27:19): As the outline in water trembles and is uncertain, so also are hearts. The lesson is: Trust not!—[BP. HOPKINS: In the world we see our own hearts unbowelled; and there we can learn what ourselves are at the cost of other men’s sins].—LUTHER (on Proverbs 27:21): He who loves to hear himself praised is easily deceived: for he proves thereby that he is a reckless man who values his honor above all right.—STARKE (on Proverbs 27:21): If thou art praised, let it serve thee as a test, a humiliation, and a profit.—LANGE (on Proverbs 27:22): The urging and chastisement of the law makes no one pious, and does not change the heart. The power of the Gospel must change and renew the hard heart.—VON GERLACH: No outward cure helps at all where the inward part is obstinately corrupt.
Proverbs 27:23–27. STARKE: Let every one labor diligently in his calling, let him indeed bring everything to counsel, and be thoroughly systematic in his actions.—GEIER: If it be important carefully to guard and to cherish silly sheep, oh, how much more Christ’s sheep, the souls which He has redeemed with His precious blood! Acts 20:28.—WOHLFARTH: The husbandman’s prosperity (a sermon for a harvest thanksgiving).—VON GERLACH: To persevere is as needful as to acquire in every kind of possession.—[LAWSON: God’s bounty is a great encouragement to our industry].
Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.