Proverbs 11:12
He that is void of wisdom despiseth his neighbour: but a man of understanding holdeth his peace.
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Proverbs 11:12-13. He that is void of wisdom — Of knowledge, prudence, and grace; despiseth his neighbour — Which he shows by contemptuous or reproachful expressions; but a man of understanding holdeth his peace — Forbears all such expressions, and silently and patiently bears all these reproaches. It is a great weakness to speak contemptuously of any man, or to endeavour to render him ridiculous, though he may have erred, because he possibly may return to a right way of thinking and acting for the future; and it is cruel to insult over errors committed through human infirmity; therefore a prudent person says nothing to the reproach of any one. A tale- bearer — Or, He that goeth about, (see the margin,) from one place or person to another, telling tales, making it his business to scatter reports; revealeth secrets — Either his neighbour’s secret faults, or such things as were committed to his trust, with a charge of secrecy; but he that is of a faithful spirit — That hath a sincere, constant, and faithful mind, and therefore both can and will govern his tongue; concealeth the matter — Will hide those things which have been committed to his trust, or which, if known, might be injurious to others.

11:1 However men may make light of giving short weight or measure, and however common such crimes may be, they are an abomination to the Lord. 2. Considering how safe, and quiet, and easy the humble are, we see that with the lowly is wisdom. 3. An honest man's principles are fixed, therefore his way is plain. 4. Riches will stand men in no stead in the day of death. 5,6. The ways of wickedness are dangerous. And sin will be its own punishment. 7. When a godly man dies, all his fears vanish; but when a wicked man dies, his hopes vanish. 8. The righteous are often wonderfully kept from going into dangerous situations, and the ungodly go in their stead. 9. Hypocrites delude men into error and sin by artful objections against the truths of God's word. 10,11. Nations prosper when wicked men are cast down. 12. A man of understanding does not judge of others by their success. 13. A faithful man will not disclose what he is trusted with, unless the honour of God and the real good of society require it. 14. We shall often find it to our advantage to advise with others. 15. The welfare of our families, our own peace, and our ability to pay just debts, must not be brought into danger. But here especially let us consider the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ in becoming Surety even for enemies. 16. A pious and discreet woman will keep esteem and respect, as strong men keep possession of wealth. 17. A cruel, froward, ill-natured man, is vexatious to those that are, and should be to him as his own flesh, and punishes himself. 18. He that makes it his business to do good, shall have a reward, as sure to him as eternal truth can make it. 19. True holiness is true happiness. The more violent a man is in sinful pursuits, the more he hastens his own destruction. 20. Nothing is more hateful to God, than hypocrisy and double dealing, which are here signified. God delights in such as aim and act with uprightness. 21. Joining together in sin shall not protect the sinners. 22. Beauty is abused by those who have not discretion or modesty with it. This is true of all bodily endowments. 23. The wicked desire mischief to others, but it shall return upon themselves. 24. A man may grow poor by not paying just debts, not relieving the poor, not allowing needful expenses. Let men be ever so saving of what they have, if God appoints, it comes to nothing. 25. Both in temporal and spiritual things, God commonly deals with his people according to the measure by which they deal with their brethren. 26. We must not hoard up the gifts of God's bounty, merely for our own advantage. 27. Seeking mischief is here set against seeking good; for those that are not doing good are doing hurt, even to themselves.None but the man "void of wisdom" will show contempt for those about him. The wise man, if he cannot admire or praise, will at least know how to be silent. 12. despiseth—or, "reviles," a course contrasted with the prudent silence of the wise.

holdeth his peace—as if neither hearing nor telling.

Despiseth his neighbour; which contempt he showeth, either,

1. By contemptuous or reproachful expressions of him; or,

2. By not asking or not regarding his advice, but trusting wholly to his own understanding.

Holdeth his peace; either,

1. He forbeareth all such expressions against his neighbour. Or,

2. He silently and patiently bears these reproaches from his neighbour, and doth not render one reproach for another; wherein he showeth true wisdom. Or,

3. He desireth and hearkeneth to the counsels of others. Any of these ways the opposition is sufficiently evident.

He that is void of wisdom despiseth his neighbour,.... Not only in his heart, but by giving him opprobrious language; he speaks contemptibly of him, either because he thinks he is wiser than his neighbour, and therefore calls him fool at every turn; as those who are most destitute of wisdom conceit they have the largest share of it, and despise others; or else because he is richer than his neighbour, as the poor is generally despised by the rich; or because he fancies he is holier than he, as the Pharisee who trusts in himself that he is righteous, and despises others: or a man "that wants a heart" (k), as it may be rendered; that wants a good one, or wants grace in his heart; he despises the counsel and advice, the admonitions and instructions, which his neighbour gives him for his good;

but a man of understanding holdeth his peace: and will not despise his neighbour, or give him ill language, because he is not so wise, or so rich, or so righteous as he; if he cannot speak any good of him, he will not speak evil of him; or he holds his peace, is silent, and will not answer the man void of wisdom, that despises and reproaches him; he will not render railing for railing; when he is reviled he will revile not again; and by so doing he shows himself to he a man understanding, or of intellects; a wise and prudent.

(k) "carens corde", Montanus, Mercerus, Gejerus; "destitutus est corde", Schultens.

He that is void of wisdom despiseth his neighbour: but a man of understanding {f} holdeth his peace.

(f) Will not make light report of others.

12. despiseth] i.e. shews his contempt openly, makes no effort to conceal it (μυκτηρίζει, LXX.), and so contrasts with the man of “wisdom” (heart, Heb.), who, whatever he thinks, keeps his thoughts to himself.

Verse 12. - He that is void of wisdom despiseth his neighbor; uses words of contempt about his neighbour. Septuagint, "sneers at his fellow citizens." The following clause indicates that contemptuous language is chiefly intended. Holdeth his peace. An intelligent man is slow to condemn, makes allowance for others' difficulties, and, if he cannot approve, at least knows how to be silent. Nam nulli tacuisse nocet nocet esse locutum. "Speech is silver," says the proverb, "silence is golden." Septuagint, "A man of sense keeps quiet." Proverbs 11:12There now follow two proverbs which refer to the intercourse of private life.

He who mocketh his neighbour is devoid of understanding;

But the intelligent man remaineth silent.

Proverbs 14:21 is a proverb similarly beginning with בּז לרעהוּ, Proverbs 13:13 is another beginning with בּז לדבר. From this one sees that בּוּז ל (cf. בּזה ל, Isaiah 37:22) does not mean a speaking contemptuously in one's presence; as also from Proverbs 6:30, that contemptuous treatment, which expresses itself not in mockery but in insult, is thus named; so that we do not possess a German [nor an English] expression which completely covers it. Whoever in a derisive or insulting manner, whether it be publicly or privately, degrades his neighbour, is unwise (חסר־לב as pred., like Proverbs 6:32); an intelligent man, on the contrary, keeps silent, keeps his judgment to himself, abstains from arrogant criticisms, for he knows that he is not infallible, that he is not acquainted with the heart, and he possesses too much self-knowledge to raise himself above his neighbour as a judge, and thinks that contemptuous rejection, unamiable, reckless condemnation, does no good, but on the contrary does evil on all sides.

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