Proverbs 17:22
A merry heart does good like a medicine: but a broken spirit dries the bones.
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(22) A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.—Or rather, Makes good a recovery., (For the duty of religious gladness, in gratitude for the love of God towards us, comp. Philippians 3:1; Philippians 4:4.)

Proverbs 17:22. A merry heart — Cheerfullness of mind, especially that which is solid, and ariseth from the testimony of a good conscience; doeth good like a medicine — Even to the body; it contributes very much to the restoration or preservation of bodily health and vigour, as physicians observe and experience shows; but a broken spirit — A spirit sad and dejected; drieth the bones — Wasteth the marrow of the bones, and the moisture and strength of the body.17:19. If we would keep a clear conscience and a quiet mind, we must shun all excitements to anger. And a man who affects a style of living above his means, goes the way to ruin. 20. There is nothing got by ill designs. And many have paid dear for an unbridled tongue. 21. This speaks very plainly what many wise and good men feel very strongly, how grievous it is to have a foolish, wicked child. 22. It is great mercy that God gives us leave to be cheerful, and cause to be cheerful, if by his grace he gives us hearts to be cheerful. 23. The wicked are ready to part with their money, though loved, that they may not suffer for their crimes. 24. The prudent man keeps the word of God continually in view. But the foolish man cannot fix his thoughts, nor pursue any purpose with steadiness. 25. Wicked children despise the authority of their father, and the tenderness of their mother. 26. It is very wrong to find fault for doing what is duty. 27,28. A man may show himself to be a wise man, by the good temper of his mind, and by the good government of his tongue. He is careful when he does speak, to speak to the purpose. God knows his heart, and the folly that is bound there; therefore he cannot be deceived in his judgment as men may be.Doeth good like a medicine - Better, worketh a good healing. Omit "like." 22. (Compare Pr 14:30; 15:13). The effect of the mind on the body is well known.

medicine—or, "body," which better corresponds with "bone."

drieth—as if the marrow were exhausted.

A merry heart; cheerfulness of soul, especially that which is solid, and ariseth from the witness of a good conscience.

Doeth good, even to the body; it contributes very much to the restoration or preservation of bodily health and rigour, as physicians observe, and experience showeth.

Broken; sad and dejected.

Drieth the bones; wasteth the marrow of the bones, and the moisture and strength of the body. A merry heart doth good like a medicine,.... Does the body good, makes it healthful and vigorous. Cheerfulness of spirit has a great influence upon the body, and much contributes to the health and welfare of it; see Ecclesiastes 9:7; and especially a heart full of spiritual joy, peace of conscience, flowing from the blood of Christ, joy in the Holy Ghost, a rejoicing in Christ Jesus and his righteousness, and in hope of the glory of God, much affect even the outward man. Or, "a merry heart makes a good medicine" (x); it is a good medicine of itself; raises the spirits, invigorates the body, and fits it for service and business: or, "does a medicine good" (y); makes that operate kindly, and to a good purpose: or, as Jarchi, makes the countenance shine well, makes a serene countenance; which Schultens approves, and, from the use of the word in the Arabic language, confirms;

but a broken spirit drieth the bones; a spirit broken with sorrow, whether on spiritual or temporal accounts; as it weakens the nerves, it dries up the marrow in the bones, and emaciates the body, and reduces it to a skeleton: the joy or grief of the mind, those passions of the soul, have a very great influence upon the body, either for its good or hurt.

(x) "cor hilare bonam facit sanationem", Michaelis. (y) So R. Joseph Kimchi; "bonificat sive meliorem reddit medicinam", some in Valablus; "bene medicinam facit", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.
22. doeth good like a medicine] Rather, is a good medicine, R.V. “Heb. causeth good healing,” R.V. marg.; giveth a happy healing, Gesen.; εὐεκτεῖν ποιεῖ, LXX.Verse 22. - A merry heart doeth good like a medicine. So Aben Ezra, understanding the particle of comparison, which is not in the Hebrew. The ward translated "medicine" (gehah) occurs nowhere else, and probably means "healing" "relief." The clause is better rendered, a cheerful heart maketh a good healing (comp. Proverbs 15:13; Proverbs 16:25). Vulgate, aetatem floridam facit; Septuagint, εὐεκτεῖν ποιεῖ, "makes one to be in good case." A cheerful, contented disposition enables a men to resist the attacks of disease, the mind, ms every one knows, having most powerful influence over the body. Ecclus. 30:22, "The gladness of the heart is the life of man, and the joyfulness of a man prolongeth his days." A broken spirit drieth the bones; destroys all life and vigour (comp. Proverbs 3:8; Psalm 22:15; Psalm 32:4). We all remember the distich -

"A merry heart goes all the day,
Your sad tires in a mile-a."
So the rabbis enjoin, "Give ears no room in thine heart, for care hath killed many" (Dukes, p. 68). Religious gladness is a positive duty, and "low spirits," as Isaac Williams says, "are a sin." Asks the Greek moralist -

Ἄρ ἐστὶ συγγενές τι λύπη καὶ βίος And Lucretius (3:473) affirms -

"Nam dolor ac morbus leti fabricator uterque est."
"Workers of death are sorrow and disease." We take Proverbs 17:16-21 together. This group beings with a proverb of the heartless, and ends with one of the perverse-hearted; and between these there are not wanting noticeable points of contact between the proverbs that follow one another.

Proverbs 17:16

16 Why the ready money in the hand of the fool;

     To get wisdom when he has yet no heart?

The question is made pointed by זה, thus not: why the ready money when...? Is it to obtain wisdom? - the whole is but one question, the reason of which is founded in לבו אין (thus to be accented with Mugrash going before).

(Note: If we write ולב־ with Makkeph, then we have to accentuate לקנות חכמה with Tarcha Munach, because the Silluk word in this writing has not two syllables before the tone. This sequence of accents if found in the Codd. Ven. 1521, 1615, Basel 1619, while most editions have לקנות חכמה ולב־אין, which is false. But according to MSS we have ולב without Makkeph, and that is right according to the Makkeph rules of the metrical Accentuationssystem; vid., Torath Emeth, p. 40.)

The fool, perhaps, even makes some endeavours, for he goes to the school of the wise, to follow out their admonitions, קנה חכמה (Proverbs 4:5, etc.), and it costs him something (Proverbs 4:7), but all to no purpose, for he has no heart. By this it is not meant that knowledge, for which he pays his honorarium, remains, it may be, in his head, but goes not to his heart, and thus becomes an unfruitful theory; but the heart is equivalent to the understanding, in the sense in which the heart appears as the previous condition to the attainment of wisdom (Proverbs 18:15), and as something to be gained before all (Proverbs 15:32), viz., understanding, as the fitting intellectual and practical habitus to the reception, the appropriation, and realization of wisdom, the ability rightly to comprehend the fulness of the communicated knowledge, and to adopt it as an independent possession, that which the Greek called νοῦς, as in that "golden proverb" of Democrates: πολλοὶ πολυμαθέες νοῦν οὐκ ἔχουσι, or as in Luke 24:25, where it is said that the Lord opened τὸν νοῦν of His disciples to understand the Scriptures. In the lxx a distich follows Proverbs 17:16, which is made up of 19b and 20b, and contains a varied translation of these two lines.

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