Proverbs 22:21
That I might make thee know the certainty of the words of truth; that thou mightest answer the words of truth to them that send unto thee?
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(21) That thou mightest answer the words of truth to them that send unto thee?—This rendering is somewhat doubtful, but seems to give the best sense to the passage. The scholar is to be instructed not for his own profit alone, but in order that he may be able to teach others also. (Comp. 1Peter 3:15.)

22:17-21. To these words, to this knowledge, the ear must be bowed down, and the heart applied by faith and love. To live a life of delight in God and dependence on him, is the foundation of all practical religion. The way to know the certainty of the word of truth, is to make conscience of our duty. 22,23. He that robs and oppresses the poor, does so at his peril. And if men will not appear for them, God will. 24,25. Our corrupt hearts have so much tinder in them, that it is dangerous to have to do with those that throw about the sparks of their passion.To them that send unto thee - Better as in the margin; compare Proverbs 10:26. The man who has learned the certainty of the words of truth will learn to observe it in all that men commit to him. 21. Specially he desires to secure accuracy, so that his pupil may teach others. That I may make thee know the certainty of the words of truth; that I may teach thee, not false, or vain, or uncertain things, as the teachers of the heathen nations do, but the true and infallible oracles of God.

That thou mightest answer the words of truth; that being instructed by me, thou mayst be able to give true, and solid, and satisfactory answers.

To them that send unto thee, to wit, for thine advice in great and difficult matters. Or, to those that send thee, i.e. that employ the in any business of moment, whereof they expect an account from thee.

That I might make thee know the certainty of the words of truth,.... Such are the doctrines of the Gospel; they are "the words of truth"; are written in the Scriptures of truth; come from the God of truth; the subject matter of which is Christ, who is the truth, and which the Spirit of truth leads into: there is a "certainty" in these; they are in the sure word of prophecy; are contained in the inspired and infallible word of God, and are no other than the Gospel of God; nothing is more sure than that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, and truly and properly God; and that salvation is alone by him; and that whoever believes in him shall be saved; with many other things, which ministers of the word should affirm with boldness and assurance; and which others may come to a certain knowledge of, even to the riches of a full assurance of understanding; and which is the end of their being written in the word, and made known in the ministry of it;

that thou mightest answer the words of truth to them that send unto thee; or, "return" (e) them to those that send to know what are the words of truth; that inquire concerning them with meekness and fear, and to whom a reason of the hope is to be given; as such are capable of, who have had the certainty of these words made known unto them, or who have been assured of the truth of them: and so Jarchi interprets it, to them that ask of thee instruction; as if it was written, as Lyra says it should, "to them that inquire of thee". It may be rendered, "to them that send thee" (f); to search for those things, and get the knowledge of them, in order to communicate them, which, when obtained, may be done. Unless God, Father, Son, and Spirit, should be intended, who are concerned in the sending of ministers to preach the Gospel to men; to whom they are to return an account of the words of truth, and of their dispensation of them to the souls of men; which when faithfully done, and success, they give up their account with joy, and not with grief.

(e) (f) "qui miserunt te", V. L. "mittentibus te", Pagninus, Montanus, Gejerus, Michaelis, so Aben Ezra; "missoribus tui", Schultens.

That I might make thee know the certainty of the words of truth; that thou mightest answer the words of truth to them that send unto thee?
21. send unto thee] Rather, send thee, with A.V. marg. and R.V.

The verse is well rendered in the Rel. Tract. Society’s Annotated Bible:

“To teach thee truth, even words of faithfulness;

That thou mayest bring back faithful words to them that send thee”; i.e. to train thee in truthfulness, that thou mayest be faithful and trustworthy in whatever business thou art employed.

Verse 21. - That I might make thee know the certainty of the words of truth. The object intended is to teach the disciple the fixed rule (firmitatem, Vulgate) by which truthful words are guided (see Luke 1:4). Septuagint, "I therefore teach thee a true word and knowledge good to learn." That thou mightest answer the words of truth to them that send unto thee. This implies that the pupil will be enabled to teach others who apply to him for instruction; "will be ready." as St. Peter says, "always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you" (1 Peter 3:15). But the last expression is better translated, "them that send thee;" illis qui miserunt te, Vulgate (see Proverbs 25:13); and we must conceive of these as being parents or tutors who send a youth to a school or wise man to be educated. The moralist expresses his desire that the disciple will carry home such wholesome, truthful doctrines as will prove that the pains expended upon him have not been useless. Septuagint, "That thou mayest answer words of truth to those who put questions to thee (τοῖς προβαλλομένοις σοι)" The Syriac adds, "That I may make known unto thee counsel and wisdom." Bickell's version (quoted by Cheyne) is, "That thou mayest know the rightness of these words, that thou mayest answer in true words to them that ask thee." Proverbs 22:21Proverbs 22:17-21, forming the introduction to this appendix, are these Words of the Wise:

17 Incline thine ear and hear the words of the wise,

     And direct thine heart to my knowledge!

18 For it is pleasant if thou keep them in thine heart;

     Let them abide together on thy lips.

19 That thy trust may be placed in Jahve,

     I have taught thee to-day, even thee!

20 Have not I written unto thee choice proverbs,

     Containing counsels and knowledge,

21 To make thee to know the rule of the words of truth,

     That thou mightest bring back words which are truth to them that send thee?

From Proverbs 10:1 to Proverbs 22:16 are the "Proverbs of Solomon," and not "The Words of the Wise;" thus the above παραίνεσις is not an epilogue, but a prologue to the following proverbs. The perfects הודעתּיך and כתבתּי refer, not to the Solomonic proverbial discourses, but to the appendix following them; the preface commends the worth and intention of this appendix, and uses perfects because it was written after the forming of the collection. The author of this preface (vid., pp. 23, 36, vol. i.) is no other than the author of chap. 1-9. The הט (with Mehuppach, after Thorath Emeth, p. 27) reminds us of Proverbs 4:20; Proverbs 5:1. The phrase שׁית לב, animum advertere, occurs again in the second appendix, Proverbs 24:32. נעים is repeated at Proverbs 23:8; Proverbs 24:4; but נעם with נעם is common in the preface, chap. 1-9. כּי־נעים contains, as at Psalm 135:3; Psalm 147:1, its subject in itself. כּי־תּשׁמרם is not this subject: this that thou preservest them, which would have required rather the infin. שׁמרם (Psalm 133:1) or לשׁמרם; but it supposes the case in which appears that which is amiable and praiseworthy: if thou preservest them in thy heart, i.e., makest them thoughtfully become thy mental possession. The suffix ēm refers to the Words of the Wise, and mediately also to לדעתּי, for the author designates his practical wisdom דעתי, which is laid down in the following proverbs, which, although not composed by him, are yet penetrated by his subjectivity. Regarding בּטן, which, from meaning the inner parts of the body, is transferred to the inner parts of the mind, vid., under Proverbs 20:27. The clause 18b, if not dependent on כי, would begin with ויכּנוּ. The absence of the copula and the antecedence of the verb bring the optative rendering nearer. Different is the syntactical relation of Proverbs 5:2, where the infin. is continued in the fin. The fut. Niph. יכּנוּ, which, Proverbs 4:27, meant to be rightly placed, rightly directed, here means: to stand erect, to have continuance, stabilem esse. In Proverbs 22:19, the fact of instruction precedes the statement of its object, which is, that the disciple may place his confidence in Jahve, for he does that which is according to His will, and is subject to His rule. מבטחך, in Codd. and correct editions with Pathach (vid., Michlol 184b); the ח is as virtually doubled; vid., under Proverbs 21:22. In 19b the accentuation הודעתיך היום is contrary to the syntax; Codd. and old editions have rightly הודעתיך היום, for אף־אתּה is, after Gesen. 121. 3, an emphatic repetition of "thee;" אף, like גּם, Proverbs 23:15; 1 Kings 21:19. Hitzig knows of no contrast which justifies the emphasis. But the prominence thus effected is not always of the nature of contrast (cf. Zechariah 7:5, have ye truly fasted to me, i.e., to serve me thereby), here it is strong individualizing; the te etiam te is equivalent to, thee as others, and thee in particular. Also that, as Hitzig remarks, there does not appear any reason for the emphasizing of "to-day," is incorrect: היּום is of the same signification as at Psalm 95:7; the reader of the following proverbs shall remember later, not merely in general, that he once on a time read them, but that he to-day, that he on this definite day, received the lessons of wisdom contained therein, and then, from that time forth, became responsible for his obedience or his disobedience.

In 20a the Chethı̂b שלשום denotes no definite date; besides, this word occurs only always along with תּמול (עתמול). Umbreit, Ewald, Bertheau, however, accept this "formerly (lately)," and suppose that the author here refers to a "Book for Youths," composed at an earlier period, without one seeing what this reference, which had a meaning only for his contemporaries, here denotes. The lxx reads כתבתּ, and finds in 20a, contrary to the syntax and the usus loq., the exhortation that he who is addressed ought to write these good doctrines thrice (τρισσῶς) on the tablet of his heart; the Syr. and Targ. suppose the author to say that he wrote them three times; Jerome, that he wrote them threefold - both without any visible meaning, since threefold cannot be equivalent to manchfeltiglich (Luther) [ equals several times, in various ways]. Also the Kerı̂ שׁלשׁים, which without doubt is the authentic word, is interpreted in many unacceptable ways; Rashi and Elia Wilna, following a Midrash explanation, think on the lessons of the Law, the Prophets, and the Hagiographa; Arama, on those which are referable to three classes of youth; Malbim (as if here the author of the whole Book of Proverbs, from 1 to 31, spake), on the supposed three chief parts of the Mishle; Dchsel better, on chap. 1-9, as the product of the same author as this appendix. Schultens compares Ecclesiastes 4:12, and translates triplici filo nexa. Kimchi, Meri, and others, are right, who gloss שׁלישׁים by דברים נכבדים, and compare נגידים, Proverbs 8:6; accordingly the Veneta, with the happy quid pro quo, by τρισμέγιστα. The lxx translates the military שׁלישׁ by τριστάτης; but this Greek word is itself obscure, and is explained by Hesychius (as well as by Suidas, and in the Etymologicum) by Regii satellites qui ternas hastas manu tenebant, which is certainly false. Another Greek, whom Angellius quotes, says, under Exodus 15:4, that τριστάτης was the name given to the warriors who fought from a chariot, every three of whom had one war-chariot among them; and this appears, according to Exodus 14:7; Exodus 15:4, to be really the primary meaning. In the period of David we meet with the word שׁלישׁים as the name of the heroes (the Gibbôrı̂m) who stood nearest the king. The shalish-men form the lite troops that stood highest in rank, at whose head stood two triads of heroes - Jashobeam at the head of the first trias, and thus of the shalish-men generally; Abishai at the head of the second trias, who held an honourable place among the shalish-men, but yet reached not to that first trias, 2 Samuel 23:8. ( equals 1 Chronicles 11:11.). The name השּׁלישׁים (Revelation 2 Samuel Revelation 23:8, השּׁלשׁי, and 2 Samuel 23:13, 1 Chronicles 27:6, incorrectly השּׁלשׁים) occurs here with reference to the threefold division of this principal host; and in regard to the use of the word in the time of Pharaoh, as well as in the time of the kings, it may be granted that shalish denotes the Three-man (triumvir), and then generally a high military officer; so that שׁלשׁים here has the same relation to נגידים, Proverbs 8:6, as ducalia to principalia. The name of the chief men (members of the chief troop) is transferred to the chief proverbs, as, James 2:8, that law which stands as a king at the head of all the others is called the "royal law;" or, as Plato names the chief powers of the soul, μέρη ἡγεμόνες. As in this Platonic word-form, so shalishim here, like negidim there, is understood neut. cf. under Proverbs 8:6, and ריקים, Proverbs 12:11; ישׁרים, Proverbs 16:13. The ב of בּמעצות (occurring at Proverbs 1:31 also) Fleischer rightly explains as the ב of uniting or accompanying: chief proverbs which contain good counsels and solid knowledge.

In the statement of the object in Proverbs 22:21, we interpret that which follows להודיעך not permutat.: ut te docerem recta, verba vera (Fleischer); but קשׁט (ground-form to קשׁט, Psalm 60:6) is the bearer of the threefold idea: rectitudinem, or, better, regulam verborum veritatis. The (Arab.) verb ḳasiṭa means to be straight, stiff, inflexible (synon. צדק, to be hard, tight, proportionately direct); and the name ḳisṭ denotes not only the right conduct, the right measure (quantitas justa), but also the balance, and thus the rule or the norm. In 21b, אמרים אמת (as e.g., Zechariah 1:13; vid., Philippi, Status Constr. p. 86f.) is equivalent to אמרי אמת; the author has this second time intentionally chosen the appositional relation of connection: words which are truth; the idea of truth presents itself in this form of expression more prominently. Impossible, because contrary to the usus loq., is the translation: ut respondeas verba vera iis qui ad te mittunt (Schultens, Fleischer), because שׁלח, with the accus. following, never means "to send any one." Without doubt השׁיב and שׁלח stand in correlation to each other: he who lets himself be instructed must be supposed to be in circumstances to bring home, to those that sent him out to learn, doctrines which are truth, and thus to approve himself. The subject spoken of here is not a right answer or a true report brought back to one giving a commission; and it lies beyond the purpose and power of the following proverbs to afford a universal means whereby persons sent out are made skilful. The שׁלחים [senders] are here the parents or guardians who send him who is to be instructed to the school of the teacher of wisdom (Hitzig). Yet it appears strange that he who is the learner is just here not addressed as "my son," which would go to the support of the expression, "to send to school," which is elsewhere unused in Old Hebrew, and the שׁלחי of another are elsewhere called those who make him their mandatar, Proverbs 10:26; Proverbs 25:13; 2 Samuel 24:13. The reference to the parents would also be excluded if, with Norzi and other editors, לשׁלחך were to be read instead of לשׁלחיך (the Venet. 1521, and most editions). Therefore the phrase לשׁעליך, which is preferred by Ewald, recommends itself, according to which the lxx translates, τοῖς προβαλλομένοις σοι, which the Syro-Hexap. renders


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