It is not good to eat much honey: so for men to search their own glory is not glory.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)So for men to search their own glory is not glory.—The sense of this passage is very doubtful. It may mean, “But to search into difficult matters is an honour.” Self-indulgence and study are here contrasted.Proverbs 25:27. It is not good to eat much honey — Namely, for the health of the body; so for men to search their own glory — Industriously to seek for honour and applause from men; is not glory — Is not only sinful, but shameful also, and a sign of a vain and mean spirit.
is not glory—"not" is supplied from the first clause, or "is grievous," in which sense a similar word is used (Pr 27:2).Not good, to wit, for the health of the body.
For men; which words are easily understood, both out of the foregoing clause, where the honey is supposed to be eaten by men, and out of the following words, which are evidently meant of them.
To search their own glory; industriously to seek for honour and applause from men.
Is not glory; is not only sinful, but shameful also, and a sign of a vain and mean spirit. The negative particle not is here understood out of the former part of the verse, as it is Psalm 1:5 9:18. Proverbs 24:13; but too much is hurtful, it surfeits the stomach increases choler (e) and creates loathing; and indeed, too much of anything is bad (f);
so for men to search their own glory is not glory: to set forth their own excellencies, to sound forth their own praises to seek honour of men, to use all methods to gain popular applause; this is not glorious and praiseworthy, but dishonourable; or it may be rendered as it literally lies in the original, "but to search out", or "the searching out of their glory is glory" (g); either the glory of righteous men, as Aben Ezra interprets it, such as stand and do not fall before the wicked; to search out their excellencies and virtues, and follow their example, is glorious and honourable: or to search the glory of the knowledge of divine things, comparable to honey, is commendable and glorious; for though a man may eat too much honey, yet he cannot have too much knowledge of divine and spiritual things, or be satiated and overfilled with them; to which the Septuagint version agrees, "but we ought to honour glorious words": the glorious truths of the word of God ought to be had in great esteem, and to search out the glory of them is honourable; our Lord directs to a search of the Scriptures, because they testify of him, John 5:39; and we can never know too much of him, or of the precious doctrines of the Gospel; unless this is to be understood of such things as should not be curiously inquired into; men should not be wise above what is written nor search into those things which God has concealed; as his own nature and perfections, the mode of subsisting of the three Persons in the Godhead, his secret purposes and decrees, and unsearchable judgments. To which sense agrees the Vulgate Latin version,
"so he who is the searcher of majesty shall be oppressed by glory;''
he shall be bore down by it, and not able to bear the glory of it: and the Targum is,
"to eat much honey is not good, nor to search glorious words.''
Jarchi takes the words in this sense; and illustrates them by the work of creation, Ezekiel's vision of the wheels, the decrees of God, and the reasons of them.
(e) Suidas in voce (f) "Vitiosum est ubique quod nimium est", Seneca de Tranquilitate, c. 9. (g) "investigatio gloriae illorum (est) gloria", Pagninus, Montanus, Michaelis; "scrutatio gloriae ipsorum est gloria", Cocceius.It is not good to eat much honey: so for men to search their own glory is not glory.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)27. is not glory] The words is not are not in the Heb., but are supplied both in A.V. and R.V. text. The R.V. marg. has, “But for men to search out their own glory is glory. The Hebrew text is obscure.”
It would seem as though the author of the proverb threw down in the second clause the terms of the comparison and left us to adjust them: “so is it with searching out your own glory, and glory”; q.d. Glory, like honey, is a good thing, but to be too much engrossed with your own share of the one is like eating too much of the other.Verse 27. - It is not good to eat much honey. The ill effects of a surfeit of honey have been already mentioned (Ver. 16); but here the application is different, and occasions some difficulty. The Authorized Version, in order to clear up the obscurity of the text, inserts a negative, So for men to search their own glory is not glory, which seems to be a warning against conceit and self-adulation. This is hardly warranted by the present Hebrew text, which is literally, as Venetian renders, Ἔρευνά τε δόξας αὐτῶν δόξα, "The search of their glory [is] glory." But who are meant by "their"? No persons are mentioned in the verse to whom the suffix in כְּבורָם can be referred, and it is not improbable that some words have dropped out of the text. At the same time, we might naturally in thought supply "for men" after "it is not good," such omissions being not uncommon in proverbial sayings; the suffix then would refer to them. Commentators have endeavoured to amend the text by alterations which do not commend themselves. Schultens supposes that the suffix had reference to the Divine law and revelations, and, as כבד may mean both "glory" and "weight," translates, "Vestigatio gravitatis eorum, gravitas." Bertheau takes kabod in two different senses, "The searching out of their glory is a burden." So Delitzsch, by little manipulation of the pointing (כְּבֵרִם) obtains the rendering, "But to search out hard things is an honour." Taken thus, the maxim says that bodily pleasures sicken and cloy, but diligent study brings honour. This, however, is not satisfactory; it gives a word two different senses in the same clause, and it affords a very feeble contrast. One would naturally expect the proverb to say that the excess, which was deprecated in the first hemistich as regards one department, must be equally rejected in another sphere. This is somewhat the idea given by Jerome, Sic qui scrutator est majestatis opprimetur a gloria. The truth here stated will be explained by translating our text, "The investigation of weighty matters is a weight." Thus the clauses are shown to be well poised. Honey is good, study is good; but both may be used so as to be prejudicial. Eating may be carried to excess; study may attempt to investigate things too hard or too high. That this is a real danger we know well from the controversies about predestination and elation in time past, and those concerning spiritualism and theurgy in our own day (see Jeremy Taylor, 'Certainty of Salvation,' 3:176, edit. Hebrews; and 'Holy Living,' ch. 3, § 5). This is the view taken of the passage by St. Gregory ('Moral,' 14:32), 'If the sweetness of honey be taken in greater measure than there is occasion for, from the same source whence the palate is gratified, the life of the eater is destroyed.' The "searching into majesty" is also sweet; but he that seeks to dive into it deeper than the cognizance of human nature admits, finds the mere gloriousness thereof by itself oppresses him, in that, like honey taken in excess, it bursts the sense of the searcher which is not capable of holding it." And again (ibid., 20:18), "For the glory of the invisible Creator, which when searched into with moderation lifts us up, being dived into beyond our powers bears us down" (Oxford transl.). (Comp. Deuteronomy 29:29; Ecclus. 3:21, etc.) Septuagint, "To eat much honey is not good, but it behoves us to honor glorious sayings."
And if he thirst, give him water to drink.
22 For thereby thou heapest burning coals on his head,
And Jahve will recompense it to thee.
The translation of this proverb by the lxx is without fault; Paul cites therefrom Romans 12:20. The participial construction of 22a, the lxx, rightly estimating it, thus renders: for, doing this, thou shalt heap coals on his head. The expression, "thou shalt heap" (σωρεύσεις), is also appropriate; for חתה certainly means first only to fetch or bring fire (vid., Proverbs 6:27); but here, by virtue of the constructio praegnans with על, to fetch, and hence to heap up - to pile upon. Burning pain, as commonly observed, is the figure of burning shame, on account of undeserved kindness shown by an enemy (Fleischer). But how burning coals heaped on the head can denote burning shame, is not to be perceived, for the latter is a burning on the cheeks; wherefore Hitzig and Rosenmller explain: thou wilt thus bring on him the greatest pain, and appease thy vengeance, while at the same time Jahve will reward thy generosity. Now we say, indeed, that he who rewards evil with good takes the noblest revenge; but if this doing of good proceed from a revengeful aim, and is intended sensibly to humble an adversary, then it loses all its moral worth, and is changed into selfish, malicious wickedness. Must the proverb then be understood in this ignoble sense? The Scriptures elsewhere say that guilt and punishment are laid on the head of any one when he is made to experience and to bear them. Chrysostom and others therefore explain after Psalm 140:10 and similar passages, but thereby the proverb is morally falsified, and Proverbs 25:22 accords with Proverbs 25:21, which counsels not to the avenging of oneself, but to the requital of evil with good. The burning of coals laid on the head must be a painful but wholesome consequence; it is a figure of self-accusing repentance (Augustine, Zckler), for the producing of which the showing of good to an enemy is a noble motive. That God rewards such magnanimity may not be the special motive; but this view might contribute to it, for otherwise such promises of God as Isaiah 58:8-12 were without moral right. The proverb also requires one to show himself gentle and liberal toward a needy enemy, and present a twofold reason for this: first, that thereby his injustice is brought home to his conscience; and, secondly, that thus God is well-pleased in such practical love toward an enemy, and will reward it; - by such conduct, apart from the performance of a law grounded in our moral nature, one advances the happiness of his neighbour and his own.
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