Proverbs 25:27
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)
(27) 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.

25:19. Confidence in an unfaithful man is painful and vexatious; when we put any stress on him, he not only fails, but makes us feel for it. 20. We take a wrong course if we think to relieve those in sorrow by endeavouring to make them merry. 21,22. The precept to love even our enemies is an Old Testament commandment. Our Saviour has shown his own great example in loving us when we were enemies. 23. Slanders would not be so readily spoken, if they were not readily heard. Sin, if it receives any check, becomes cowardly. 24. It is better to be alone, than to be joined to one who is a hinderance to the comfort of life. 25. Heaven is a country afar off; how refreshing is good news from thence, in the everlasting gospel, which signifies glad tidings, and in the witness of the Spirit with our spirits that we are God's children! 26. When the righteous are led into sin, it is as hurtful as if the public fountains were poisoned. 27. We must be, through grace, dead to the pleasures of sense, and also to the praises of men. 28. The man who has no command over his anger, is easily robbed of peace. Let us give up ourselves to the Lord, and pray him to put his Spirit within us, and cause us to walk in his statutes.So for men ... - A difficult sentence, the text of which is probably defective. The words are not in the original. Many commentators render: so to search into weighty matters is itself a weight, i. e., people soon become satiated with it as with honey. Possibly a warning against an over-curious searching into the mysteries of God's word or works. 27. Satiety surfeits (Pr 25:16); so men who are self-glorious find shame.

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.

It is not good to eat much honey,.... That is too much otherwise it is good to eat, 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." Proverbs 25:27This verse, as it stands, is scarcely to be understood. The Venet. translates 27b literally: ἔρευνά τε δόξας αὐτῶν δόξα; but what is the reference of this כּבדם? Euchel and others refer it to men, for they translate: "to set a limit to the glory of man is true glory;" but the "glory of man" is denoted by the phrase כּבד אדם, not by כּבדם; and, besides, חקר does not mean measure and limit. Oetinger explains: "To eat too much honey is not good; whereas the searching after their glory, viz., of pleasant and praiseworthy things, which are likened to honey, is glory, cannot be too much done, and is never without utility and honour;" but how can כּבדם be of the same meaning as כּבד הדברים אשׁר or הנמשׁלים כּדּבשׁ - such an abbreviation of the expression is impossible. Schultens, according to Rashi: vestigatio gravitatis eorum est gravitas, i.e., the searching out of their difficulty is a trouble; better Vitringa (since כבוד nowhere occurs in this sense of gravitas molesta ac pondere oppressura): investigatio praestantiae eorum est gloriosa; but Vitringa, in order to gain a connection to 27a, needs to introduce etiamsi, and in both explanations the reference of the כּבדם is imaginary, and it by no means lies near, since the Scripture uses the word כבוד of God, and His kingdom and name, but never of His law or His revelation. Thus also is an argument against Bertheau, who translates: the searching out of their glory (viz., of the divine law and revelation) is a burden, a strenuous occupation of the mind, since חקר does not in itself mean searching out, and is equivocally, even unintelligibly, expressed, since כבוד denotes, it is true, here and there, a great multitude, but never a burden (as כּבד). The thought which Jerome finds in 27b: qui scrutator est majestatis opprimetur a gloria, is judicious, and connects itself synonym. with 27a; but such a thought is unwarranted, for he disregards the suff. of כּבדם, and renders כבוד in the sense of difficulty (oppression). Or should it perhaps be vocalized כּבדם (Syr., Targ., Theodotion, δεδοξασμένα equals נכבּדות)? Thus vocalized, Umbreit renders it in the sense of honores; Elster and Zckler in the sense of difficultates (difficilia); but this plur., neither the biblical, nor, so far as I know, the post-bibl. usage of the word has ever adopted. However, the sense of the proverb which Elster and Zckler gain is certainly that which is aimed at. We accordingly translate:

To surfeit oneself in eating honey is not good,

But as an inquirer to enter on what is difficult is honour.

We read כּבדם instead of כּבדם. This change commends itself far more than כּבד מכּבוד (וחקר), according to which Gesenius explains: nimium studium honoris est sine honore - impossible, for חקר does not signify nimium studium, in the sense of striving, but only that of inquiry: one strives after honour, but does not study it. Hitzig and Ewald, after the example of J. D. Michaelis, Arnoldi, and Ziegler, betake themselves therefore to the Arabic; Ewald explains, for he leaves the text unchanged: "To despise their honour (that is, of men) is honour (true, real honour);" Hitzig, for he changes the text like Gesenius: "To despise honour is more than honour," with the ingenious remark: To obtain an order [insigne ordinis] is an honour, but not to wear it then for the first time is its bouquet. Nowhere any trace either in Hebrew or in Aramaic is to be found of the verb חקר, to despise (to be despised), and so it must here remain without example.

(Note: The Hebrew meaning investigare, and the equivalent Arabic ḥaḳr, contemnere (contemtui esse), are derivations from the primary meaning (R. חק): to go down from above firmly on anything, and thus to press in (to cut in), or also to press downward.)

Nor have we any need of it. The change of כּבדם into כּבדם is enough. The proverb is an antithetic distich; 27a warns against inordinate longing after enjoyments, 27b praises earnest labour. Instead of דּבשׁ הרבּות, if honey in the mass were intended, the words would have been דּבשׁ הרבּה (Ecclesiastes 5:11; 1 Kings 10:10), or at least הרבּות דּבשׁ (Amos 4:9); הרבות can only be a n. actionis, and אכל דּבשׁ its inverted object (cf. Jeremiah 9:4), as Bttcher has discerned: to make much of the eating of honey, to do much therein is not good (cf. Proverbs 25:16). In 27b Luther also partly hits on the correct rendering: "and he who searches into difficult things, to him it is too difficult," for which it ought to be said: to him it is an honour. כּבדם, viz., דברים, signifies difficult things, as ריקים, Proverbs 12:11, vain things. The Heb. כּבד, however, never means difficult to be understood or comprehended (although more modern lexicons say this),

(Note: Cf. Sir. 3:20f. with Ben-Sira's Heb. text in my Gesch. der jd. Poesie, p. 204 (vv. 30-32); nowhere does this adj. כבד appears here in this warning against meditating over the transcendental.)

but always only burdensome and heavy, gravis, not difficilis. כבדם are also things of which the חקר, i.e., the fundamental searching into them (Proverbs 18:17; Proverbs 25:2.), costs an earnest effort, which perhaps, according to the first impression, appears to surpass the available strength (cf. Exodus 18:18). To overdo oneself in eating honey is not good; on the contrary, the searching into difficult subjects is nothing less than an eating of honey, but an honour. There is here a paronomasia. Fleischer translates it: explorare gravia grave est; but we render grave est not in the sense of molestiam creat, but gravitatem parit (weight equals respect, honour).

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