Proverbs 17:7
Excellent speech becometh not a fool: much less do lying lips a prince.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(7) Excellent speech becometh not a fool.—Rather, perhaps, Superfluous or pretentious words become not a vile person (nābhāl), such as is described in Isaiah 32:6. (Comp. 1Samuel 25:25.)

Much less do lying lips a prince.—Or, liberal person (Isaiah 32:8): noblesse oblige.

Proverbs 17:7. Excellent speech — Either, 1st, Discourse concerning difficult, high, and excellent things, far above his capacity: or, 2d, Lofty, eloquent speech, which fools often affect: or, 3d, Virtuous and godly discourse; becometh not a fool — Either one properly so called, or, as the word fool is most commonly used in this book, a wicked man, whose actions give the lie to his expressions.

17:4. Flatterers, especially false teachers, are welcome to those that live in sin. 5. Those that laugh at poverty, treat God's providence and precepts with contempt. 6. It is an honour to children to have wise and godly parents continued to them, even after they are grown up and settled in the world. 7. A fool, in Solomon's Proverbs, signifies a wicked man, whom excellent speech does not become, because his conversation contradicts it.The margin renderings are more literal and give greater emphasis. What is pointed out is not the unfitness of lying lips for the princely-hearted, but the necessity of harmony, in each case, between character and speech. 7. Excellent speech—(Compare Margin). Such language as ill suits a fool, as lying (ought to suit) a prince (Pr 16:12, 13). Excellent speech; either,

1. Discourse of high and excellent things far above his capacity. Or,

2. Lofty or eloquent speech, which fools oft affect, Or,

3. Virtuous and godly discourse.

A fool; either properly so called; or, as this word is most commonly used in this book, a wicked man, whose actions give the lie to his expressions.

Excellent speech becometh not a fool,.... A wicked man. Eloquence, or a sublime grand way of speaking, a copiousness and fluency of expression, become not such; because hereby he may be capable of doing more mischief; or such a style is unsuitable to the subject of his discourse, which is nothing but folly and wickedness. The Gospel is excellent speech, sound speech, that cannot be condemned; it treats of excellent things; concerning the person, office, and grace of Christ, and salvation by him; and very unfit is a wicked man to take it into his mouth, talk of it, and declare it;

much less do lying lips a prince; they rather become a fool, as excellent speech does a prince; who neither should speak lies himself, nor encourage, but abhor them in others. The Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic versions, render it, "a just man": but the word more property signifies a liberal man, as it is rendered in Isaiah 32:8; where it stands opposed to a churl or covetous man: and some Jewish (f) writers think by the "fool" is meant such an one to whom a "lip of abundance" (g), as it may be rendered, is very unsuitable; or to talk of his abundance, when he makes no good use of what he has for himself or others; and so, on the other hand, it is very disagreeable to the character of an ingenuous and liberal man to promise and not perform, and never intended it. It is true of such who are made a "willing" people in the day of Christ's power, Psalm 110:3; where the same word is used as here; of his volunteers; that to speak lies one to another very ill becomes them; or to receive, or to speak, or profess false doctrines; for no lie is of the truth.

(f) Kabvenaki in Mercer. in loc. (g) "labium abundantiae".

Excellent speech becometh not a fool: much less do lying lips a prince.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
7. Excellent] Or, arrogant, R.V. marg.

Verse 7. - Excellent speech becometh not a fool. שְׂפַת יָתֶר; verba composita, Vulgate, i.e. studied, complicated, expressions; χείλη πιστά, "faithful lips," Septuagint. Others translate, "arrogant," "pretentious." It is literally, a lip of excess or superabundance, and is best taken in the above sense, as arrogant or assuming. A nabal, a "vicious fool," ought not to flaunt his unwisdom and his iniquities before the eyes of men, but to keep them hidden as much as possible. As such presumptuous behaviour is incongruous in the case of a fool, much less do lying lips [become] a prince; a noble person, such a one as is called in Isaiah (Isaiah 32:8) "liberal," where the same word, nadib, is used. This is an illustration of the saying, "Noblesse oblige." Thus the Greek gnome -

Ἐλευθέρου γὰρ ἀνδρὸς ἀλήθειαν λέγειν

"A free man's part it is the truth to speak." To John the Good, King of France, is attributed the noble maxim which well became his chivalrous character, "Si la bonne foi etait bannie du reste du monde, il faudrait qu'on la retrouvat dans le coeur des rois" (Bonnechose, 'Hist. de France,' 1:310). "My son," says the rabbi in the Talmud, "avoid lying first of all; for a lie will tarnish the brightness of thy honour." For "prince," the Septuagint has, "a just man," which makes the maxim a mere truism. Proverbs 17:7The proverbs following, Proverbs 17:7-10, appear to be united acrostically by the succession of the letters ש (שׂ, שׁ) and ת.

Proverbs 17:7

7 It does not become a fool to speak loftily,

   How much less do lying lips a noble!

As at Isaiah 32:5., נבל and נדיב are placed opposite to one another; the latter is the nobly magnanimous man, the former the man who thinks foolishly and acts profligately, whom it does not become to use lofty words, who thereby makes the impression of his vulgarity so much the more repulsive (cf. Job 2:10). שּׂפת יתר (not יתר, for the word belongs to those which retain their Pathach or Segol, in pausa) is neither elevated (soaring) (Ewald) nor diffuse (Jo. Ernst Jungius in Oetinger: lingua dicax ac sermonem ultra quam decorum verbis extendere solita), rather imperative (Bertheau), better presumptuous (Hitzig) words, properly words of superfluity, i.e., of superabundant self-consciousness and high pretension (cf. the transitive bearing of the Arab. watr with ὑβρίζειν, from ὑπέρ, Aryan upar, Job, p. 363). Rightly Meri, שׂפת נאוה ושׂררה. It produces a disagreeable impression, when a man of vulgar mind and of rude conduct, instead of keeping himself in retirement, makes himself of importance, and weighty in a shameless, impudent manner (cf. Psalm 12:9, where זלּוּת, vilitas, in a moral sense); but yet more repulsive is the contrast, when a man in whom one is justified in expecting nobility of mind, in accordance with his life-position and calling, degrades himself by uttering deceitful words. Regarding the אף כּי, concluding a minori ad majus, we have already spoken at Proverbs 11:31; Proverbs 15:11. R. Ismael, in Bereschith Rabba, at 44:8, reckons ten such conclusions a minori ad majus in the Scriptures, but there are just as many quanto magis. The right accentuation (e.g., in Cod. 1294) is here אף כי־לנדיב, transformed from אף כי־לנדיב, according to Accentuationssystem, xviii. 2.

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