Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Even a child is known by his doings . . .—The disposition soon shews itself; all the more reason, therefore, to train it betimes.Proverbs 20:11. A child is known by his doings — Children discover their inclinations or dispositions by their childish speeches and carriages, as not having yet learned the art of dissembling: whether his work be, or rather, will be, pure — That is, the future disposition and conduct of a man may be very probably conjectured from his childish manners.Even a child is known by his doings; young children discover their inclinations or dispositions even by their childish speeches and carriages, as not having yet learnt the art of dissembling.
Whether his work be pure; or rather, will be pure; for it is not expressed in the Hebrew, and therefore may be either way supplied. The sense is, The future disposition and conversation of a man may very probably be conjectured from his childish manners. Matthew 7:16; professors and profane. So a child soon discovers its genius by its actions; it soon shows its inclination and disposition; and some shrewd guesses may be made how it will turn out, a wise man or a fool, a virtuous or a vicious man; though this does not always hold good, yet something may be observed, which may be a direction to parents in the education of their children, and placing them out to what is proper and suitable for them. Some observe, that the word has a quite contrary meaning, that "a child carries himself a stranger by his doings" (e); so that he is not known by them: he so conceals and disguises himself, he acts so fraudulently and deceitfully, and plays the hypocrite, and puts the cheat on men, that they cannot tell what he is, nor what he will be; and if children can thus dissemble, as not to be known by their actions, then much more grown persons;
whether his work be pure, and whether it be right; not what his present work is, or actions are, but what his later life and conversation will be; which in some measure may be judged of, though not with certainty and exactness; see Proverbs 22:6; especially when he acts a covert and deceitful part.Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)11. is known] or, maketh himself known; betrays his true character, and gives presage of “his (life’s) work.” Comp. the familiar German proverb, “Was ein Dörnchen werden will spitzt sich bei Zeiten,” Lange.Verse 11. - Even a child is known (maketh himself known) by his doings. (For "even" (gam), see on Proverbs 17:26.) A child is open, simple, and straightforward in his actions; he has not the reserves and concealments which men practise, so you see by his conduct what his real character and disposition are. Ewald takes מעלליו in the sense of "play," "games;" but it seems never to have this meaning, and there is no need to change the usual signification. The habits of a life are learned in early age. The boy is father of the man. Delitzsch quotes the German proverbs, "What means to become a hook bends itself early," and "What means to become a thorn sharpens itself early;" and the Aramaean, "That which will become a gourd shows itself in the bud:" Whether his work be pure ("clean," as ver. 9 and Proverbs 16:2), and whether it be right. His conduct will show thus much, end will help one to prognosticate the future. Septuagint (according to the Vatican), "In his pursuits (ἐπιήδευμασιν) a young man will be fettered in company with a holy man, and his way will be straight," which seems to mean that a good man will restrain the reckless doings of a giddy youth, and will lead him into better courses.
But a man of understanding draweth it out.
"Still waters are deep." Like such deep waters (Proverbs 18:4) is that which a man hath secretly (Isaiah 29:15) planned in his heart. He keeps it secret, conceals it carefully, craftily misleads those who seek to draw it out; but the man of תּבוּנה, i.e., one who possesses the right criteria for distinguishing between good and bad, true and false, and at the same time has the capacity to look through men and things, draws out (the Venet. well, ἀνέλξει) the secret עצה, for he penetrates to the bottom of the deep water. Such an one does not deceive himself with men, he knows how to estimate their conduct according to its last underlying motive and aim; and if the purpose is one that is pernicious to him, he meets it in the process of realization. What is here said is applicable not only to the subtle statesman and the general, but also the pragmatical historian and the expositor, as, e.g., of a poem such as the book of Job, the idea of which lies like a pearl at the bottom of deep water.
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