Proverbs 17:27
He that has knowledge spares his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit.
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(27) He that hath knowledge . . .—This verse will better be rendered, He that restrains his words hath knowledge, and one who is cool of temper is a man of understanding. The avoidance of rash speech and hasty temper is here advised.

Proverbs 17:27-28. He that hath knowledge spareth — Hebrew, חושׂךְ, restraineth, his words — As at other times, so especially when he is under a provocation to anger or any other passion, in which case fools utter all their minds. And a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit — Which he shows, as in various other things, so by commanding his passions, and bridling himself from hasty and unadvised speeches. But this is according to the marginal reading of the Masora; but the reading of the Hebrew text is, קר, cool, according to which, the sense of the clause is, a man of understanding is of a cool spirit, calm and moderate, not easily provoked, humble, as the Chaldee renders it, μακροθυμος, patient, or long- suffering, as the LXX. and Arabic interpreters render the words. Even a fool, when he holds his peace, is counted wise — Because he is sensible of his folly, and therefore forbears to speak lest he should discover it, which is one point of true wisdom. If a fool hold his peace, men of candour will think him wise, because nothing appears to the contrary, and because it will be thought he is making observations on what others say, and gaining experience, or consulting with himself what he should say, that he may speak pertinently. Thus, he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding — He gains the reputation of being a wise man, on the easy condition of restraining his tongue, or, of hearing, and seeing, and saying little. 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.Better, A man of calm (or noble) spirit is a man of understanding. 27, 28. Prudence of speech is commended as is an excellent or calm spirit, not excited to vain conversation. Spareth, Heb. restraineth, as at other times, so especially when he is provoked to passion, in which case fools utter all their mind. An excellent spirit; which he showeth by commanding his passions, and bridling himself from hasty and unadvised speeches. Or, as others render it, is of a cool spirit, calm and moderate, not easily provoked; humble, as the Chaldee renders it; patient or long-suffering, as the LXX. and Arabic interpreters render the words. Or, as others, sparing (Heb. precious, which is put for rare or scarce, 1 Samuel 3:1 Proverbs 25:17 Isaiah 13:12) of his breath, i.e. of his speech, as this very word is used, Proverbs 29:11 Isaiah 11:4, compared with 2 Thessalonians 2:8. He that hath knowledge spareth his words,.... Or, "he that knows knowledge" (c); one that is very knowing, has a fund of knowledge in him, "spareth his words"; is generally a man of few words, he thinks much and says little; and though he may be communicative of his knowledge to proper persons, and at proper times, yet never speaks of it in a boasting and ostentatious way: or, he "restrains his words" (d); he puts a bridle on them; and suffers not himself to speak hastily and angrily, and in a reproachful manner, when he is provoked to it;

and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit; here is a various reading; the "Cetib" is "of a cool spirit" (e); in opposition to a warm fiery spirit; such as was that of the apostles, who were for calling for fire from heaven on those that slighted their master, and, as he told them, knew not what spirits they were of; but a cool spirit is one that is not soon angry, calm, sedate, and not easily provoked to wrath: the "Keri", or marginal reading, is "of an excellent" or "precious spirit" (f); and such an one is a right spirit; a spirit of faith and love, and of a sound mind; and of such a spirit is a man of understanding in things divine and spiritual; to have a spirit of prayer, and to be tenderhearted, and of a sympathizing and forgiving spirit, is to be of an excellent spirit. The Targum is,

"humble in spirit;''

and a meek and quiet spirit is in the sight of God of great price; the Lord has a great regard to such who are of an humble and contrite spirit: with these he dwells, to these he gives more grace; these are like to Christ, and have the fruits of his Spirit, and are very useful and ornamental. The Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic versions render it, "patient" or "longsuffering"; and to be of a patient spirit is to be of an excellent spirit: such bear afflictions and reproaches quietly; wait God's own time for hearing and helping them, and live in the comfortable expectation of heaven and happiness; and such show themselves to be wise and understanding men.

(c) "qui scit scientiam", Pagninus, Vatablus, Mercerus. (d) "qui cohibet sermones suos", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. (e) "frigidus spiritu", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Cocceius. (f) "pretiosus spiritu", Pagninus, Montanus, Mercerus, Gejerus, Baynus.

He that hath knowledge spareth his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit.
27. excellent] Rather, cool, A.V. marg. and R.V.; μακρόθυμος ἀνὴρ, LXX.

It is better with LXX. and R.V. to invert the order of subject and predicate in this verse and render:

He that spareth his words hath knowledge:

And he that is of a cool spirit is a man of understanding.Verse 27. - He that hath knowledge spareth his words; Revised Version, he that spareth his words hath knowledge; he shows his common sense, not by rash talk or saying all he knows, but by restraining his tongue (comp. Proverbs 10:19; James 1:19). 'Pirke Aboth' (1:18), "All my days I have grown up amongst the wise, and have not found aught good for a man but silence; not learning but doing is the groundwork, and whoso multiplies words occasions sin" Say the Greek gnomes -

Ἐνίοις τὸ σιγᾷν ἐστὶ κρεῖττον τοῦ λέγειν
Κρεῖττον σιωπᾷν η} λαλεῖν α} μὴ πρέπει And Theognis (5:815) writes -

Βοῦς μοι ἐπὶ γλώσσης κρατερῷ ποδὶ λὰξ ἐπιβαίνων
Ἴσχει κωτίλλειν καίπερ ἐπιστάμενον Speech for a shekel, silence for two; it is like a precious stone ('Qoheleth Rabbah,' 5:5). Septuagint, "He who spareth to utter a harsh speech is prudent" (ἐπιγνώμων). A man of understanding is of an excellent spirit; Revised Version, he that is of a coot spirit is a man of understanding; i.e. he who considers before he speaks, and never answers in hot haste, proves that he is wise and intelligent. Septuagint, "The long suffering man is prudent." The above is the reading of the Khetib, followed by most interpreters. The Keri gives, "of a precious spirit" (pretiosi spiritus, Vulgate), that is, one whose words are weighty and valuable, not lavishly thrown about, but reserved as costly jewels. The first three parts of the old Solomonic Book of Proverbs ((1) Proverbs 10-12; (2) 13:1-15:19; (3) 15:20-17:20) are now followed by the fourth part. We recognise it as striking the same keynote as Proverbs 10:1. In Proverbs 17:21 it resounds once more, here commencing a part; there, Proverbs 10:1, beginning the second group of proverbs. The first closes, as it begins, with a proverb of the fool.

21 He that begetteth a fool, it is to his sorrow;

     And the father of a fool hath no joy.

It is admissible to supply ילדו, developing itself from ילד, before לתוּגה לו (vid., regarding this passive formation, at Proverbs 10:1, cf. Proverbs 14:13), as at Isaiah 66:3, מעלה (Fl.: in maerorem sibi genuit h. e. ideo videtur genuisse ut sibi maerorem crearet); but not less admissible is it to interpret לתוגה לו as a noun-clause corresponding to the ולא־ישׂמח (thus to be written with Makkeph): it brings grief to him. According as one understands this as an expectation, or as a consequence, ילד, as at Proverbs 23:24, is rendered either qui gignit or qui genuit. With נבל, seldom occurring in the Book of Proverbs (only here and at Proverbs 17:7), כּסיל, occurring not unfrequently, is interchanged. Schultens rightly defines the latter etymologically: marcidus h. e. qui ad virtutem, pietatem, vigorem omnem vitae spiritualis medullitus emarcuit; and the former: elumbis et mollitie segnitieve fractus, the intellectually heavy and sluggish (cf. Arab. kasal, laziness; kaslân, the lazy).

(Note: Nldeke's assertion (Art. Orion in Schenkel's Bibel-Lexicon) that the Arab. kasal corresponds to the Hebr. כּשׁל proceeds from the twofold supposition, that the meaning to be lazy underlies the meaning to totter (vid., also Dietrich in Gesenius' Heb. Wrterbuch), and that the Hebr. ס must correspond with the Arab. š. The former supposition is untenable, the latter is far removed (cf. e.g., כּסּא and kursı̂, ספר and sifr, מסכּן and miskı̂n). The verb כּשׁל, Aram. תּקל, is unknown in the Arab.)

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