Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Pleasant words.—Comp. Proverbs 15:26.
Health to the bones.—Comp. 1Samuel 14:27.Pleasant words; the discourses of the wise last mentioned, Proverbs 16:23, which yield both profit and delight; their wholesome counsels and refreshing comforts.
To the bones; to the body, synecdochically expressed by the bones, the strongest and greatest parts of it, and the supporters of the rest.
sweet to the soul, and health to the bones; they are "sweet" to the "soul" of him that understands them, and that has a spiritual taste of them; not to a natural and unregenerate man, whose natural taste remains in him, and is not changed; who calls evil good, and good evil; puts bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter; to him the doctrines of the Gospel are insipid, tasteless, and disagreeable things: nor are they sweet to a carnal professor; who, though he may express some value for them, has no spiritual gust and relish of them; but to them that believe, to whom Christ is precious, who have tasted that he is gracious; to these they are sweet, even sweeter than the honey or the honeycomb, Psalm 19:10. And they are "health to the bones"; they are the wholesome words of our Lord Jesus; they are the means of curing the diseases of the mind; of healing wounded spirits, and broken hearts, and broken bones; they make the bones which were broken to rejoice; what heals the bones strengthens the whole man, a man's strength lying much in his bones; these strengthen the inward man, cause believers to go from strength to strength, and to hold on and persevere to the end.Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)24. health] i.e. healthy or wholesome. There is no necessary reference to any medicinal properties in honey. Comp. Proverbs 4:22, Proverbs 12:18, Proverbs 13:17; and Jonathan’s experience, when he was exhausted with pursuing the enemy: “See, I pray you, how mine eyes have been enlightened, because I tasted a little of this honey,” 1 Samuel 14:29.Verse 24. - Pleasant words are as an honeycomb. "Pleasant words" are words of comforting, soothing tendency, as in ch. 15:26; Psalm 19:10. The writer continues his praise of apt speech. The comparison with honey is common in all languages and at all times. Thus Homer sings of Nestor ('Iliad,' 1:248, etc.) -
"The smooth-tongued chief, from whose persuasive lips
Sweeter than honey flowed the stream of speech."
(Derby.) So the story goes that on the lips of St. Ambrose, while still a boy, a swarm of bees settled, portending his future persuasive eloquence. Sweet to the soul, and health to the bones (Proverbs 15:30). The verse forms one sentence. The happy results of pleasant words are felt in body and soul. Honey in Palestine is a staple article of food, and is also used as a medicinal remedy. Of its reviving effects we read in the case of Jonathan, who from a little portion hurriedly taken as he marched on had "his eyes enlightened" (1 Samuel 14:27). Septuagint, "Their sweetness is the healing of the soul."
Ἰατρὸς ὁ λόγος τοῦ κατά ψυχὴν πάθους.
"Speech the physician of the soul's annoy."
And haughtiness cometh before a fall.
The contrast is לפני כבוד ענוה, Proverbs 15:33, according to which the "haughtiness comes before a fall" in Proverbs 18:22 is expanded into the antithetic distich. שׁבר means the fracture of the limbs, destruction of the person. A Latin proverb says, "Magna cadunt, inflata crepant, tumefacta premuntur."
(Note: An expression of similar meaning is אחרי דרגא תביר equals after Darga (to rise up) comes tebı̂r (breaking equals destruction); cf. Zunz, in Geiger's Zeitschrift, vi. 315ff.)
Here being dashed in pieces and overthrown correspond. שׁבר means neither bursting (Hitzig) nor shipwreck (Ewald). כשּׁלון (like בּטּחון, זכּרון, etc.), from כּשׁל or נכשׁל, to totter, and hence, as a consequence, to come to ruin, is a ἅπαχ λεγ. This proverb, which stands in the very centre of the Book of Proverbs, is followed by another in praise of humility.
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