Proverbs 26:23
Burning lips and a wicked heart are like a potsherd covered with silver dross.
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(23) Burning lips—i.e., burning with love, while there is an evil heart within.

A potsherd covered with silver dross.—Pottery glazed with dross of silver, a well-known method of ornamentation. For similar proverbs, comp. Matthew 23:27; Luke 11:39.

Proverbs 26:23. Burning lips — Either, 1st, Lips pretending much love, that is, words delivered with a show of truth and fervent affection; or, rather, 2d, Burning with malice or hatred; that is, a slanderous or evil tongue; and a wicked heart — From whence evil thoughts and malicious words proceed; are like a potsherd covered with silver dross — Such a tongue and heart are of no real worth, although sometimes they make a show of it, as dross does of silver.

26:2. He that is cursed without cause, the curse shall do him no more harm than the bird that flies over his head. 3. Every creature must be dealt with according to its nature, but careless and profligate sinners never will be ruled by reason and persuasion. Man indeed is born like the wild ass's colt; but some, by the grace of God, are changed. 4,5. We are to fit our remarks to the man, and address them to his conscience, so as may best end the debate. 6-9. Fools are not fit to be trusted, nor to have any honour. Wise sayings, as a foolish man delivers and applies them, lose their usefulness. 10. This verse may either declare how the Lord, the Creator of all men, will deal with sinners according to their guilt, or, how the powerful among men should disgrace and punish the wicked. 11. The dog is a loathsome emblem of those sinners who return to their vices, 2Pe 2:22. 12. We see many a one who has some little sense, but is proud of it. This describes those who think their spiritual state to be good, when really it is very bad. 13. The slothful man hates every thing that requires care and labour. But it is foolish to frighten ourselves from real duties by fancied difficulties. This may be applied to a man slothful in the duties of religion. 14. Having seen the slothful man in fear of his work, here we find him in love with his ease. Bodily ease is the sad occasion of many spiritual diseases. He does not care to get forward with his business. Slothful professors turn thus. The world and the flesh are hinges on which they are hung; and though they move in a course of outward services, yet they are not the nearer to heaven. 15. The sluggard is now out of his bed, but he might have lain there, for any thing he is likely to bring to pass in his work. It is common for men who will not do their duty, to pretend they cannot. Those that are slothful in religion, will not be at the pains to feed their souls with the bread of life, nor to fetch in promised blessings by prayer. 16. He that takes pains in religion, knows he is working for a good Master, and that his labour shall not be in vain. 17. To make ourselves busy in other men's matters, is to thrust ourselves into temptation. 18,19. He that sins in jest, must repent in earnest, or his sin will be his ruin. 20-22. Contention heats the spirit, and puts families and societies into a flame. And that fire is commonly kindled and kept burning by whisperers and backbiters. 23. A wicked heart disguising itself, is like a potsherd covered with the dross of silver.Burning lips - i. e., "Lips glowing with, affection, uttering warm words of love," joined with a malignant heart, are like a piece of broken earthenware from the furnace, which glitters with the silver drops at stick to it, but is itself worthless. 23. Warm professions can no more give value to insincerity than silver coating to rude earthenware. Burning; either,

1. With love. Words delivered with show of true and fervent affection. Or rather,

2. With malice or hatred. A slanderous or evil tongue; for this word is constantly used in a bad sense, and notes the heat of rage and persecution.

Like a potsherd covered with silver dross; such a tongue and heart are of no real worth, although sometimes they make a show of it, as dross doth of silver.

Burning lips, and a wicked heart,.... Either burning with wrath and malice; breathing out threatenings and slaughter; pursuing men with reproaches and slanders, arising from a wicked heart: or rather, burning with profession of love to God, and affection to good men; with great pretensions of kindness, and promises of good things, when their hearts are wicked, and they design noticing less; say one thing with their lips, with the greatest show of affection and sincerity, and mean another in their hearts. These

are like a potsherd covered with silver dross: which at a distance, or to less discerning persons, looks like silver, and is taken for it; when the covering is only dross, and what is within is only a potsherd, Or a piece of an earthen vessel, good for nothing: such are the specious professions and deceitful words, which flow from a wicked heart.

Burning lips and {k} a wicked heart are like a potsherd covered with silver dross.

(k) They will soon break out and utter themselves.

23. burning] Better, fervent, R.V., with protestations of affection.

a potsherd covered] The rendering, an earthen vessel overlaid, R.V. makes the meaning clearer.

Verse 23. - The next proverbs are concerned with hypocrisy. The Hebrew denotes the comparison simply by position (see on Proverbs 25:11), thus: An earthen vessel (or, potsherd) overlaid with silver dross - growing lips and a wicked heart. So called "silver dross" is litharge, an oxide of lead used to this day to put a glaze on pottery (comp. Ecclus. 38:30). The comparatively worthless article is thus made to assume a fine appearance. Thus lips that seem to burn with affection, and give the kiss of glowing, love, may mask a heart filled with envy and hatred Judas kisses and words of friendship hide the bad feelings that lurk within. Septuagint, "Silver given with guile is to be considered as a potsherd; smooth (λεῖα) lips hide a grievous heart" (comp. Matthew 23:27). Proverbs 26:23The proverbs next following treat of a cognate theme, hypocrisy (the art of dissembling), which, under a shining [gleissen] exterior,

(Note: Vid., regarding gleisen (to give a deceitful appearance) and gleissen (to throw a dazzling appearance), Schmitthenner-Weigand's Deutsches Wrterbuch.)

conceals hatred and destruction:

23 Dross of silver spread over an earthen vessel -

     Lips glowing with love and a base heart.

Dross of silver is the so-called gltte (French, litharge), a combination of lead and oxygen, which, in the old process of producing silver, was separated (Luther: silberschaum, i.e., the silver litharge; Lat. spuma argenti, having the appearance of foam). It is still used to glaze over potter's ware, which here (Greek, κέραμος) is briefly called חרשׂ for כּלי חרשׂ; for the vessel is better in appearance than the mere potsherd. The glossing of the earthenware is called צפּה על־חרשׂ, which is applicable to any kind of covering (צפּה, R. צף, to spread or lay out broad) of a less costly material with that which is more precious. 23a contains the figure, and 23b its subscription: שׂפתים דּלקים ולב רע. Thus, with the taking away of the Makkeph after Codd., to be punctuated: burning lips, and therewith a base heart; burning, that is, with the fire of love (Meri, אשׁ החשׁק), while yet the assurances of friendship, sealed by ardent kisses, serve only to mask a far different heart. The lxx translate דלקים [burning] by λεῖα, and thus have read חלקים [smooth], which Hitzig without reason prefers; burning lips (Jerome, incorrectly: tumentia; Luther, after Deuteronomy 32:33, חמת: Gifftiger mund equals a poisonous mouth) are just flattering, and at the same time hypocritical

(Note: Schultens explains the labia flagrantia by volubiliter prompta et diserta. But one sees from the Arab. dhaluḳa, to be loose, lightly and easily moved (vid., in Fleischer's Beitrgen zur arab. Sprachkunde the explanation of the designation of the liquid expressed with the point of the tongue by dhalḳiytt, at Proverbs 1:26-27; cf. de Sacy's Grammar), and dalḳ, to draw out (of the sword from its scabbard), to rinse (of water), that the meaning of the Heb. דלק, to burn, from R. דל, refers to the idea of the flickering, tongue-like movement of the flame.)

lips. Regarding שׂפתים as masc., vid., p. 85; לב רע means, at Proverbs 25:20, animus maestus; here, inimicus. The figure is excellent: one may regard a vessel with the silver gloss as silver, and it is still earthen; and that also which gives forth the silver glance is not silver, but only the refuse of silver. Both are suitable to the comparison: the lips only glitter, the heart is false (Heidenheim).

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