Proverbs 14:23
In all labor there is profit: but the talk of the lips tends only to penury.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Proverbs 14:23. In all labour there is profit, &c. — Diligent labour is the ready way to riches; but idle talking, wherein too many spend most of their precious time, will bring a man to poverty. Houbigant renders the verse, All labour will produce abundance, but garrulity nothing but want.

“Solomon here,” says Lord Bacon, as quoted by Bishop Patrick, “separates the fruit of the labour of the tongue, and of the labour of the hands; as if want was the revenue of the one, and wealth the revenue of the other. For it commonly comes to pass that they who talk liberally, boast much, and promise mighty matters, are beggars, and receive no benefit by their brags, or by any thing they discourse of. Nay, rather, for the most part, such men are not industrious and diligent in their employment; but only feed and fill themselves with words as with wind.”14:18. Sin is the shame of sinners; but wisdom is the honour of the wise. 19. Even bad men acknowledge the excellency of God's people. 20. Friendship in the world is governed by self-interest. It is good to have God our Friend; he will not desert us. 21. To despise a man for his employment or appearance is a sin. 22. How wisely those consult their own interest, who not only do good, but devise it! 23. Labour of the head, or of the hand, will turn to some good account. But if men's religion runs all out in talk and noise, they will come to nothing. 24. The riches of men of wisdom and piety enlarge their usefulness. 25. An upright man will venture the displeasure of the greatest, to bring truth to light. 26,27. Those who fear the Lord so as to obey and serve him, have a strong ground of confidence, and will be preserved. Let us seek to this Fountain of life, that we may escape the snares of death. 28. Let all that wish well to the kingdom of Christ, do what they can, that many may be added to his church. 29. A mild, patient man is one that learns of Christ, who is Wisdom itself. Unbridled passion is folly made known. 30. An upright, contented, and benevolent mind, tends to health. 31. To oppress the poor is to reproach our Creator. 32. The wicked man has his soul forced from him; he dies in his sins, under the guilt and power of them. But godly men, though they have pain and some dread of death, have the blessed hope, which God, who cannot lie, has given them. 33. Wisdom possesses the heart, and thus regulates the affections and tempers. 34. Piety and holiness always promote industry, sobriety, and honesty. 35. The great King who reigns over heaven and earth, will reward faithful servants who honour his gospel by the proper discharge of the duties of their stations: he despises not the services of the lowest.The contrast between a single, thorough deed, and the mere emptiness of speech. 23. labour—painful diligence.

talk … penury—idle and vain promises and plans.

Diligent labour is the ready way to riches, but idle talking, wherein too many spend most of their precious thee, will bring a man to poverty. In all labour there is profit,.... Or "abundance" (u); much is got by it, food, raiment, riches, wealth, wisdom, honour; either with the labour of the hands or head, and nothing is to be got without labour; and he that is laborious in his calling, whether it be by manual operation, working with his hands that which is good; or by hard study, much reading, and constant meditation, is like to gain much for his own use and the good of others;

but the talk of the lips tendeth only to penury; or "want" (w), of food and raiment, the common necessaries of life; a man that spends his time in idle talk, boasting of what he can do and does, and yet does nothing, is in a fair way to come to beggary: so all talk about wisdom, and knowledge, and religion, without making use of the proper means of improvement, tends to the poverty of the mind; and generally they are most empty of knowledge, natural or spiritual, that talk and brag most of it; empty casks make the greatest sound; good discourse, wholesome words, sound doctrine, thoroughly digested, tend indeed to edification, to the enriching of the mind; but vain words, the enticing words of men's wisdom; logomachies, striving about words to no profit; and all great swelling words of vanity, which are all mere lip labour; they tend to spiritual poverty and leanness of soul.

(u) "abundantia", Tigurine version, Baynus, Mercerus, Gejerus. (w) "ad defectum", Pagninus, Montanus; "ad egestatem", Tigurine version, Piscator, Cocceius.

In all labour there is profit: but the talk of the lips tendeth only to penury.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Verse 23. - In all labour there is profit. All honest industry has a reward, and all care and pain borne for a good object bring comfort and content (comp. Proverbs 10:22). So the Greek distich says -

Ἅπαντα τὰ καλὰ τοῦ πονοῦντος γίγνεται

"To him who labours all fair things belong." In contrast to the diligent are those who talk much and do nothing. But the talk of the lips tendeth only to penury (Proverbs 21:5). Those who work much get profit; those who talk much and do little come to want. So in spiritual matters Christ teaches that they who think that prayer is heard for much speaking are mistaken; and he adds, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 6:7; Matthew 7:21). Septuagint, "In every one who taketh thought (μεριμνῶντι) there is abundance; he who liveth pleasantly and without pain shall be in want." Cato, 'Dist.,' 1:10 -

"Contra verbosos noli contendere verbis:
Sermo datus cunctis, animi sapientia paucis."


"Against the wordy strive not thou in words;
Converse with all, but to the favoured few
Impart thy heart's deep wisdom."
Oriental proverbs: "Sweet words, empty bands;" "To speak of honey will not make the mouth sweet;" "We do not cook rice by babbling" (Lane). Turkish, "The language of actions is more eloquent than the language of words." This verse, as if explanatory of מתעבר, connects itself with this interpretation of the contrasts, corresponding to the general usus loquendi, and particularly to the Mishle style.

One who is quick to anger worketh folly,

And a man of intrigues is hated.

Ewald finds here no right contrast. He understands אישׁ מזמּה in a good sense, and accordingly corrects the text, substituting for ישׂנא, ישׁוּא (ישׁוּא), for he translates: but the man of consideration bears (properly smooths, viz., his soul). On the other hand it is also to be remarked, that אישׁ מזמה, when it occurs, is not to be understood necessarily in a good sense, since מזמה is used just like מזמות, at one time in a good and at another in a bad sense, and that we willingly miss the "most complete sense" thus arising, since the proverb, as it stands in the Masoretic text, is good Hebrew, and needs only to be rightly understood to let nothing be missed in completeness. The contrast, as Ewald seeks here to represent it (also Hitzig, who proposes ישׁאן: the man of consideration remains quiet; Syr. ramys, circumspect), we have in Proverbs 14:29, where the μακρόθυμος stands over against the ὀξύθυμος (אף or אפּים of the breathing of anger through the nose, cf. Theocritus, i.:18: καὶ οἱ ἀεὶ δριμεῖα χολὰ ποτὶ ῥινὶ κάθηται). Here the contrast is different: to the man who is quick to anger, who suddenly gives expression to his anger and displeasure, stands opposed the man of intrigues, who contrives secret vengeance against those with whom he is angry. Such a deceitful man, who contrives evil with calculating forethought and executes it in cold blood (cf. Psalm 37:7), is hated; while on the contrary the noisy lets himself rush forward to inconsiderate, mad actions, but is not hated on that account; but if in his folly he injures or disgraces himself, or is derided, or if he even does injury to the body and the life of another, and afterwards with terror sees the evil done in its true light, then he is an object of compassion. Theodotion rightly: (ἀνὴρ δὲ) διαβουλιῶν μισηθήσεται, and Jerome: vir versutus odiosus est (not the Venet. ἀνὴρ βδελυγμῶν, for this signification has only זמּה, and that in the sing.); on the contrary, the lxx, Syr., Targum, and Symmachus incorrectly understand איש מזמות in bonam partem.

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