Proverbs 25:15
By long forbearing is a prince persuaded, and a soft tongue breaketh the bone.
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Proverbs 25:15. By long forbearing is a prince persuaded — That is, by patient submission and expectation he is pacified, whereas his rage is increased by opposition. And a soft tongue breaketh the bone — A mild and humble answer softens a heart which is as hard as a bone or stone. He alludes to those oils which sink through the flesh to the very bone: see Psalm 109:18.

25:1-3 God needs not search into any thing; nothing can be hid from him. But it is the honour of rulers to search out matters, to bring to light hidden works of darkness. 4,5. For a prince to suppress vice, and reform his people, is the best way to support his government. 6,7. Religion teaches us humility and self-denial. He who has seen the glory of the Lord in Christ Jesus, will feel his own unworthiness. 8-10. To be hasty in beginning strife, will bring into difficulties. War must at length end, and might better be prevented. It is so in private quarrels; do all thou canst to settle the matter. 11,12. A word of counsel, or reproof, rightly spoken, is especially beautiful, as fine fruit becomes still more beautiful in silver baskets. 13. See what ought to be the aim of him that is trusted with any business; to be faithful. A faithful minister, Christ's messenger, should be thus acceptable to us. 14. He who pretends to have received or given that which he never had, is like the morning cloud, that disappoints those who look for rain. 15. Be patient to bear a present hurt. Be mild to speak without passion; for persuasive language is the most effectual to prevail over the hardened mind. 16. God has given us leave to use grateful things, but we are cautioned against excess.A soft tongue - Winning and gentle speech does what it seems at first least capable of doing; it overcomes obstacles which are as bones that the strongest jaws would fail to crush. 15. Gentleness and kindness overcome the most powerful and obstinate.

long forbearing—or, "slowness to anger" (Pr 14:29; 15:18).

By long forbearing, by patient submission and expectation,

is a prince persuaded, or pacified, whereas his rage is increased by opposition. Compare Ecclesiastes 10:4.

A soft tongue, a mild and humble answer,

breaketh the bone; softeneth a heart which is as hard as bone or stone. He alludes to those oils which sink through the flesh to the very bone. See Psalm 109:18.

By long forbearing is a prince persuaded,.... To come into measures, and do that which his council and ministry advise him to, and to which he may seem at first very averse; but by a mild and gentle representation of things, by an humble submission of them to him, and by frequent remonstrances and patient waiting, his mind is softened, bent, and inclined to take their advice, and pursue the measures suggested to him; which, had they been pressed with heat, haughtiness, and haste, would have been rejected;

and a soft tongue breaketh the bone; or "hardness", as the Vulgate Latin version renders it; soft words, or words delivered in soft language, remove hardness and roughness from the minds of men; and work upon, influence, and bend men, whose wills are obstinate and stubborn, and make them pliable and tractable: so David, with a soft tongue, wrought upon Saul, his enemy; and Abigail, by her soft language, turned the mind of David, who was bent upon the destruction of Nabal, 1 Samuel 24:16; see Proverbs 15:1. Jarchi interprets this soft tongue of prayer and supplication, by which severe things against sinners are removed from them; and so he understands the former clause of the forbearance of God, which gives encouragement to sinners, to persuade him in their favour by repentance and prayer; see Matthew 18:26.

By long {l} forbearing is a prince persuaded, and a soft tongue breaketh the {m} bone.

(l) By not creating opportunity to provoke him further.

(m) That is, the heart that is bent to anger, as in Pr 15:1.

15. We have an illustration of this proverb in the effect of the “long forbearing” of David during his persecution by Saul, and of his “soft tongue” at Engedi (1 Samuel 24), and in the wilderness of Ziph (Ib. Proverbs 26:7 ff.): “And it came to pass, when David had made an end of speaking these words unto Saul, that Saul said, Is this thy voice, my son David? And Saul lifted up his voice and wept: “Return, my son David; for I will no more do thee harm, because my soul was precious in thine eyes this day.”

Verse 15. - By long forbearing; i.e. by patience, calmness that does not break out into passion whatever be the provocation, even, it is implied, in the face of a false and malicious accusation (comp. Proverbs 14:29). Is a prince persuaded. Katson is rather "an arbiter," or judge, than "a prince," and the proverb says that such an officer is led to take a favourable view of an accused person's case when he sees him calm and composed, ready to explain the matter without any undue heat or irritation, keeping steadily to the point, and not seduced by calumny or misrepresentation to forget himself and lose his temper. Such a bearing presupposes innocence and weighs favourably with the judge. The LXX. makes the gnome apply to monarchs alone, "In long suffering is prosperity unto kings." A soft tongue breaketh the bone. A soft answer (Proverbs 15:1), gentle, conciliating words, overcome opposition, and disarm the most determined enemy, and make tender in him that which was hardest and most uncompromising. "Gutta cavat lapidem, non vi, sed saepe cadendo." Similar proverbs are found elsewhere, though probably in a different sense. Thus in modern Greek, "The tongue has no bones, yet it breaks bones;" in Turkish, "The tongue has no bone, yet it crushes;" again, "One drop of honey," says the Turk, "catches more bees than a ton of vinegar." Proverbs 25:15Three proverbs follow, which have this in common, that they exhort to moderation:

15 By forbearance is a judge won over,

     And a gentle tongue breaketh the bone.

קצין (vid., Proverbs 6:7) does not denote any kind of distinguished person, but a judge or a person occupying a high official position. And פּתּה does not here mean, to talk over or delude; but, like Jeremiah 20:7, to persuade, to win over, to make favourable to one; for ארך אפּים (vid., Proverbs 14:29) is dispassionate calmness, not breaking out into wrath, which finally makes it manifest that he who has become the object of accusation, suspicion, or of disgrace, is one who nevertheless has right on his side; for indecent, boisterous passion injures even a just cause; while, on the contrary, a quiet, composed, thoughtful behaviour, which is not embarrassed by injustice, either experienced or threatened, in the end secures a decision in our favour. "Patience overcomes" is an old saying. The soft, gentle tongue (cf. רך, Proverbs 15:1) is the opposite of a passionate, sharp, coarse one, which only the more increases the resistance which it seeks to overcome. "Patience," says a German proverb, "breaks iron;" another says, "Patience is stronger than a diamond." So here: a gentle tongue breaketh the bone (גּרם equals עצם, as at Proverbs 17:22), it softens and breaks to pieces that which is hardest. Sudden anger makes the evil still worse; long-suffering, on the contrary, operates convincingly; cutting, immoderate language, embitters and drives away; gentle words, on the contrary, persuade, if not immediately, yet by this, that they remain as it were unchangeable.

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