Proverbs 15
Matthew Poole's Commentary
A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.
A soft, mild or gentle, answer, which may imply a foregoing charge or accusation, although the word is and may be rendered speech or discourse, turneth away wrath from the speaker.

Grievous words, fierce and vexatious replies or speeches, stir up anger; kindle it, and cause it to flame forth.

The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright: but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness.
Useth knowledge aright; expressing what he knows prudently and gracefully; taking due care both what, and when, and to whom, and in what manner he speaks.

Poureth out, plentifully, continually, promiscuously, and vehemently, as a fountain doth waters, as this word signifies.

The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.
The eyes of the Lord; his knowledge and providence.

The evil; who are first mentioned, because they either doubt of or deny God’s providence.

A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit.
A wholesome tongue, which uttereth sound, and comfortable, and useful counsels, is a tree of life; is greatly useful to preserve the present life, and to promote the spiritual and eternal life, both of the speaker and hearers.

Perverseness therein, all sorts of false or corrupt speeches,

is a breach in the spirit; disturbs and wounds, and ofttimes corrupts and destroys, the spirits or souls, both of the speaker and hearers.

A fool despiseth his father's instruction: but he that regardeth reproof is prudent.
A fool despiseth, doth not regard nor obey, which is an evidence of contempt,

his father’s instruction; who hath both love to him, and authority over him; which greatly aggravates his folly.

Reproof; the reproof of any person whatsoever, and much more of a father.

In the house of the righteous is much treasure: but in the revenues of the wicked is trouble.
House, or family; whereby he implies that it is not only enjoyed by him, but also left to his posterity.

In the revenues of the wicked is trouble: though he may obtain great revenues, yet they are attended with much trouble and vexation; either because they are strangely blasted and taken from them, or because they are imbittered to them by their own insatiable desires, or tormenting cares and fears, or the horrors of their guilty consciences, or by divers other ways.

The lips of the wise disperse knowledge: but the heart of the foolish doeth not so.
Disperse knowledge; freely communicate to others what they know, as they have opportunity.

Doeth not so; either because he hath no knowledge to disperse, or because he hath not a heart to perform his duty, or to do good to others. Or, as others render it, and as the last Hebrew word is rendered, Genesis 42:34, and elsewhere, is not right; or the place may be rendered, the heart of the foolish (understand out of the former clause, as is very usual, disperseth by his lips) that which is not right; foolish and corrupt discourse, which is fitly opposed to knowledge.

The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD: but the prayer of the upright is his delight.
The sacrifice; all the religious services, yea, the best and most costly of them; one kind being put for all the rest.

The prayer; the cheapest and meanest services.

The way of the wicked is an abomination unto the LORD: but he loveth him that followeth after righteousness.
The way; the conversation or course of life. This verse seems to contain a reason of the foregoing. God hates wicked men’s religious performances, because they are accompanied with ungodly lives, and they pull down with one hand what they build up with another.

That followeth after righteousness; that earnestly desires, and constantly and diligently endeavours, to be holy and righteous in the course of his life, although he doth not attain to that perfect righteousness which he thirsts after.

Correction is grievous unto him that forsaketh the way: and he that hateth reproof shall die.
Correction is grievous; he hateth reproof, because it is a reproach to him, and because it strikes at that sin which he loveth.

The way; God’s way, emphatically called the way here, as also Psalm 119:1 139:24 Proverbs 2:13.

Shall die, i.e. be destroyed, both here and, for ever; which is a more grievous thing than a harsh reproof.

Hell and destruction are before the LORD: how much more then the hearts of the children of men?
Destruction; put for the place of destruction, by a usual metonymy; the place and state of the damned, of which men know nothing but by Divine revelation.

The hearts; whose thoughts and affections, though they lie deep, discover themselves by outward signs and actions.

A scorner loveth not one that reproveth him: neither will he go unto the wise.
Loveth not, i.e. hateth and avoideth it; for more is here understood than is expressed, as it is Proverbs 11:21 12:3, and elsewhere.

Neither will he go unto, seek their company and conversation, as his duty and interest obligeth him, the wise, i.e. the godly, because he knows they who are so indeed will make conscience of reproving him.

A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.
The spirit; either,

1. His vital spirits. Or rather,

2. His courage and rigour, the decay whereof showeth itself in his countenance, as is implied from the former clause.

The heart of him that hath understanding seeketh knowledge: but the mouth of fools feedeth on foolishness.
Their hearts are set upon wickedness, which is meat and drink to them.

All the days of the afflicted are evil: but he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast.
Of the afflicted; of the troubled in mind or heart, as this general expression may very fitly be restrained from the following clause.

Are evil; tedious and uncomfortable; he takes no content in any time or thing.

Of a merry heart, Heb. of a good heart, i.e. composed, and quiet, and contented.

Hath a continual feast; hath constant satisfaction and delight in all conditions, yea, even in affliction.

Better is little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble therewith.
The fear of the Lord, which gives a man tranquillity and comfort in what he hath.

Trouble; tumultuous lusts and passions, vexatious cares and fears, horrors of conscience, and expectation of God’s curse and judgment, which riches gotten without God’s fear do commonly produce.

Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith.
Love; true friendship and kindness between those that eat together.

A wrathful man stirreth up strife: but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife.
Stirreth up strife, because he is very apt both to give and to take all occasions of contention.

The way of the slothful man is as an hedge of thorns: but the way of the righteous is made plain.
The way of the slothful man, the way in which he doth or ought to walk, any good work which he pretends or desires to undertake,

is as an hedge of thorns; as a way hedged up with thorns, as it is expressed, Hosea 2:6, troublesome and perplexed, and full, of such difficulties as he despaireth, and therefore never striveth, to overcome.

The way of the righteous, who is always diligent in his calling, which is one branch of righteousness, and therefore is fitly opposed to the slothful, who is joined with the wicked, Matthew 25:26, and censured as such both in Scripture and heathen authors, because idleness is both in itself a sin, and it leads the way to many other wickednesses.

Is made plain; is easy and pleasant to him, notwithstanding all his discouragements and difficulties.

A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish man despiseth his mother.
Maketh a glad father, by giving him that honour and obedience which he oweth to him.

Despiseth his mother; whereby he maketh her sad. See Poole "Proverbs 10:1", where we have the same proverb.

Folly is joy to him that is destitute of wisdom: but a man of understanding walketh uprightly.
Is joy; he doth not only work wickedness, but taketh pleasure in it.

Walketh uprightly, Heb. directeth or maketh straight his going, i.e. ordereth all his actions by the rule of God’s word, and delighteth in so doing, which is understood from the opposite clause.

Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellers they are established.
Without counsel, when men do not seek or will not receive advice from others in weighty affairs,

purposes are disappointed; their designs are ill managed, and succeed accordingly.

In the multitude of counsellors, i.e. of wise and good counsellors, for such only deserve that name,

they are established, i.e. accomplished and brought to a good issue.

A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!
By the answer, i.e. by a wise or good and seasonable answer or advice, as is manifest, both from the opposite clause, and from the nature of the thing, because it is manifest and undeniable, that a foolish answer can be no credit nor comfort to the answerer. Thus above, Proverbs 15:10, the way is put for God’s way; and such synecdoches are frequent in Scripture.

A word spoken in due season, counsel or comfort given to another in fit time and manner,

how good is it! it is highly acceptable and useful.

The way of life is above to the wise, that he may depart from hell beneath.
The way of life is above to the wise; the way or course which a wise man taketh to preserve and obtain life, is to place his heart, and treasure, and conversation in things above, and to manage all his affairs in this world with due respect and subserviency to the happiness of a better life.

From hell beneath; or, from the lowermost hell; not from the grave, as this word is elsewhere used, for no wisdom can prevent that; but from hell properly so called, as this word is elsewhere used, as hath been formerly observed.

The LORD will destroy the house of the proud: but he will establish the border of the widow.
Of the proud; of the most mighty oppressors, who conceit themselves to be unmovably fixed.

The border; either,

1. The estate, the border being oft used for the land within the borders, as Psalm 105:31,33, and elsewhere. Or,

2. The border by which lands were then bounded and distinguished, which those proud persons endeavoured to remove contrary to God’s law, Deu 19:14 27:17.

The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the LORD: but the words of the pure are pleasant words.
The thoughts of the wicked; and much more their words, which express their thoughts; for thoughts are said to be free, and wicked men are seldom and but little concerned for the sins of their thoughts.

The words of the pure, which discover and proceed from their thoughts, Matthew 15:19.

Pleasant; acceptable to God, which is opposed to abomination to him.

He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house; but he that hateth gifts shall live.
He that is greedy of gain, that seeketh wealth by unjust courses, as appears from the opposite clause,

troubleth his own house; bringeth God’s curse and destruction upon himself and his family, whom he designed to enrich and establish.

That hateth; who refuseth them not with dissimulation, nor only from prudential reasons, but from a hearty abhorrency of all unrighteousness. Gifts, i.e. bribes given to corrupt judgment. See Exodus 18:21 23:8 Deu 16:19.

Shall live; shall preserve himself and (which is understood out of the former clause) his family from ruin.

The heart of the righteous studieth to answer: but the mouth of the wicked poureth out evil things.
Studieth to answer; he answers or speaks considerately and conscientiously, and therefore profitably, or to the use and edification of the hearers.

The mouth, not the heart; for he is without heart in Scripture account, and he rashly speaks what comes into his mouth, without the direction of his heart or conscience.

Evil things; foolish, and unprofitable, and hurtful speeches.

The LORD is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous.
Is far from the wicked, to wit, when they pray to him, as the next clause explains, and therefore doth not hear nor regard them, as he is said to be

nigh to the righteous, Psalm 34:18 145:18. But this farness or nearness respecteth not God’s essence, which is every where, but his gracious and helpful presence.

The light of the eyes rejoiceth the heart: and a good report maketh the bones fat.
The light of the eyes rejoiceth the heart; the light which we see with our eyes, and by the help of which we see many other pleasant objects, is a great comfort and refreshment. Compare Ecclesiastes 11:7, Truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun; which is a good comment upon this place.

A good report; either,

1. Glad tidings. Or rather,

2. A good name, which is a more lasting thing, and makes deeper impression.

Maketh the bones fat; not only cheereth a man for the present, but gives him such solid and stable comfort as doth both revive his soul, and give health and rigour to his body. So he compares two senses together, seeing and hearing, with respect to their several objects, and prefers the latter before the former.

The ear that heareth the reproof of life abideth among the wise.
The ear that heareth; the man that hearkeneth to it, and delights in it.

The reproof of life; that reproof and good counsel which leads to life.

Abideth among the wise, Heb. shall or will abide, &. c. Either,

1. He will thereby be made wise, and be esteemed one of that number. Or rather,

2. He seeketh and delighteth in the company and conversation of the wise, by whom he may be admonished; as, on the contrary, fools, who hate reproof, do avoid and abhor the society of wise men and reprovers, Amos 5:10.

He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul: but he that heareth reproof getteth understanding.
Despiseth his own soul; which hereby he exposeth to the danger of utter destruction, whereby he shows his folly.

Getteth understanding; whereby he saveth his soul. Heb. possesseth an heart, which the Hebrews make the seat of wisdom.

The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility.
Is the instruction of wisdom; doth instruct men in or lead them to true wisdom; whence it is said to be the beginning of wisdom, Proverbs 1:7 9:10.

Before honour is humility, i. e. it is the ready way to honour, both from God and from men. Humility; whereby men submit to God, and yield to men, which gains them love and respect; whereas pride procures them hatred and contempt from God and men.

Matthew Poole's Commentary

Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

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