Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Let another man (zar) praise thee . . . a stranger (nokhrî).—As to the difference between these words, see above on Proverbs 2:16. A higher consideration than this is suggested in 2Corinthians 10:18.Proverbs 27:2. Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth — Except it be really necessary, either for thy own just vindication, or for the honour of God, or for the edification of others, in which cases this hath been allowed and practised by wise and virtuous men, as particularly by St. Paul, 2 Corinthians 11:12.2 Corinthians 11:12. 2 Corinthians 10:18; in some cases it is right for a man indeed to commend himself, when the glory of God, the credit of religion, the cause of truth and self-vindication, require it; as the prophet Samuel, the Apostle Paul, and others, have been obliged to do, 1 Samuel 12:3, &c.
a stranger, and not thine own lips; a stranger means any other than a man's self; and if it is one that he knows not, or has little acquaintance with; or if a foreigner, that does not personally know him, only has good testimonies of him, or has read his works; and especially if in other respects an enemy; it is greatly to his honour to be praised by him: and such a commendation comes with much better grace than from himself, and from whom indeed it would not come with any.Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Verse 2. - Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; Septuagint, "Let thy neighbour (ὁ πέλας) laud thee." A stranger; גָכְרִי, properly, "an unknown person from an unknown country;" but, like זר in the former hemistich, used indifferently for "another" (see on Proverbs 2:16). "If I honour myself," said our Lord (John 8:54), "my honour is nothing" And as St. Paul testifies (2 Corinthians 10:18), "Not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth."
Υπὲρ σαευτοῦ μὴ φράσῃς ἐγκώμια
said the Greek gnomist; and
Φίλων ἔπαινον μᾶλλον η} σαυτοῦ λέγε. And a trite maxim runs, "In ore proprio laus sordet;" and an English one decides, "He who praises himself is a debtor to others." Delitzsch quotes a German proverb (which loses the jingle in translation), "Eigen-lob stinkt, Freundes Lob hinkt, fremdes Lob klingt," "Self-praise stinks, friends' praise limps, strangers' praise sounds." Proverbs 26:24 and Proverbs 26:25 form a tetrastich.
24 With his lips the hater dissembleth,
And in his heart he museth deceit.
25 If he maketh his voice agreeable, believe him not,
For seven abominations are in his heart.
All the old translators (also the Venet. and Luther) give to יגּכר the meaning, to become known; but the Niph. as well as the Hithpa. (vid., at Proverbs 20:11; Genesis 47:17) unites with this meaning also the meaning to make oneself known: to make oneself unknown, unrecognisable equals (Arab.) tanakkr, e.g., by means of clothing, or by a changed expression of countenance.
(Note: Vid., de Goeje's Fragmenta Hist. Arab. ii.((1871), p. 94. The verb נכר, primarily to fix one's attention, sharply to contemplate anything, whence is derived the meanings of knowing and of not knowing, disowning. The account of the origin of these contrasted meanings, in Gesenius-Dietrich's Lexicon, is essentially correct; but the Arab. nakar there referred to means, not sharpness of mind, from nakar equals הכּיר, but from the negative signification prevailing in the Arab. alone, a property by which one makes himself worthy of being disowned: craftiness, cunning, and then also in bonam partem: sagacity.)
The contrast demands here this latter signification: labiis suis alium se simulat osor, intus in pectore autem reconditum habet dolum (Fleischer). This rendering of ישׁית מרמה is more correct than Hitzig's ("in his breast) he prepares treachery;" for שׁית מרמה is to be rendered after שׁית עצות, Psalm 13:3 (vid., Hupfeld's and also our comm. on this passage), not after Jeremiah 9:7; for one says שׁית מוקשׁים, to place snares, שׁית ארב, to lay an ambush, and the like, but not to place or to lay deceit. If such a dissembler makes his voice agreeable (Piel of חנן only here, for the form Psalm 9:14 is, as it is punctuated, Kal), trust not thyself to him (האמין, with ב: to put firm trust in anything, vid., Genesis, p. 312)
(Note: The fundamental idea of firmness in האמין is always in the subject, not the object. The Arabic interpreters remark that âman with ב expresses recognition, and with ל submission (vid., Lane's Lexicon under âman); but in Hebr. האמין with ב fiducia fidei, with ל assensus fidei; the relation is thus not altogether the same.)
for seven abominations, i.e., a whole host of abominable thoughts and designs, are in his heart; he is, if one may express it, after Matthew 12:45, possessed inwardly of seven devils. The lxx makes a history of 24a: an enemy who, under complaints, makes all possible allowances, but in his heart τεκταίνεται δόλους. The history is only too true, but it has no place in the text.
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