The lip of truth shall be established for ever: but a lying tongue is but for a moment.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)A lying tongue is but for a moment.—Being detected and silenced by the providence of God, (Comp. Psalm 64:7-8.)
but a lying tongue is but for a moment; if a liar speaks truth for once, he does not continue in it long, but quickly returns to his former course; or rather the lie he tells is very short lived, it is soon discovered, and he comes into contempt and disgrace, and loses all his credit and reputation among men of honour and honesty, and is sometimes suddenly snatched away by death, as Ananias and Sapphira; all error and heresy in a short time will cease and be no more; and antichrist, whose coming is with lying wonders, the direct opposite of the lip of truth, will be brought to ruin in a moment. Aben Ezra, Kimchi, and Ben Melech, who are followed by some Christian interpreters, as Montanus, and some in Vatablus, render it, "but", or "for ever, I will cause the lying tongue to cease", or "be at rest" from speaking; as if they were the words of God, threatening to cut off the lying tongue; but Jarchi and Gersom render it "for a moment", or a very short time, as we and others do; or, "whilst one winks" (f), in the twinkling of an eye; so soon is such a person removed.The lip of truth shall be established for ever: but a lying tongue is but for a moment.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)19. but for a moment] Lit. while I wink. Comp. Jeremiah 49:19, where the word is rendered, suddenly.Verse 19. - The lip of truth shall be established forever. Truth is consistent, invincible, enduring; and the fact belongs not only to Divine truth (Psalm 117:2; Matthew 24:35), but to human, in its measure. Septuagint, "True lips establish testimony," pointing the last word ad as ed. Is but for a moment; literally, while I wink the eye (Jeremiah 49:19; Jeremiah 50:44). Lying never answers in the end; it is soon found out and punished (Proverbs 19:9; Psalm 52:5). Septuagint, "But a hasty (ταχύς; repentinus, Vulgate) witness hath an unjust tongue." One who gives his testimony without due consideration, or influenced by evil motives, readily fails into lying and injustice. With the latter half of the verse we may compare the gnome -
Ἀλλ οὐδὲν ἕρπει ψεῦδος εἰς γῆρας χρόνου
"Unto old age no lie doth ever live." A lie has no legs, is a maxim of wide nationality; and "Truth may be blamed, but shall ne'er be shamed."
13 In the transgression of the lips there lies a dangerous snare;
The righteous escapeth from trouble.
The consecutive modus (ויּצא) is here of greater weight than e.g., at Proverbs 11:8, where the connection follows without it (ויּבא) from the idea of the change of place. The translation: but the righteous ... restores ויצא (ויצא), and ignores the syllogistic relation of the members of the proverb, which shows itself here (cf. the contrary, Proverbs 11:9) to a certain degree by ויּצא. Ewald displaces this relation, for he paraphrases: "any one may easily come into great danger by means of inconsiderate words; yet it is to be hoped that the righteous may escape, for he will guard himself against evil from the beginning." He is right here in interpreting צרה and מוקשׁ רע as the designation of danger into which one is betrayed by the transgressions of his lips, but "inconsiderate words" are less than פּשׁע שׂפתים. One must not be misled into connecting with פּשׁע the idea of missing, or a false step, from the circumstance that פּשׁע means a step; both verbs have, it is true, the common R. פש with the fundamental idea of placing apart or separating, but פּשׁע has nothing to do with פּשׁע (step equals placing apart of the legs), but denotes (as Arab. fusuwḳ fisḳ, from the primary meaning diruptio, diremtio) a sinning, breaking through and breaking off the relation to God (cf. e.g., Proverbs 28:24), or even the restraints of morality (Proverbs 10:19). Such a sinning, which fastens itself to, and runs even among the righteous, would not be called פשׁע, but rather חטּאת (Proverbs 20:9). According to this the proverb will mean that sinful words bring into extreme danger every one who indulges in them - a danger which he can with difficulty escape; and that thus the righteous, who guards himself against sinful words, escapes from the distress (cf. with the expression, Ecclesiastes 7:18) into which one is thereby betrayed. רע is the descriptive and expressive epithet to מוקשׁ (cf. Ecclesiastes 9:12): a bad false trap, a malicious snare, for מוקשׁ is the snare which closes together and catches the bird by the feet. This proverb is repeated at Proverbs 29:6, peculiarly remodelled. The lxx has after Proverbs 12:13 another distich:
He who is of mild countenance findeth mercy;
He who is litigious oppresseth souls.
(נפשׁות, or rather, more in accordance with the Hebrew original: oppresseth himself, נפשׁו.)
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