Proverbs 27:21
As the fining pot for silver, and the furnace for gold; so is a man to his praise.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(21) So is a man to his praise—i.e., as the fining-pot and furnace test the metals put into them, so does that on which a man prides or boasts himself. Observe what this is—e.g., wealth, or show, or popularity, or duty—and you will see what sort of a man he is. Or it may mean, praise—i.e., popularity, is as great a trial to a man as the fining-pot to silver; he must be of good metal if he comes unhurt out of this. Or, again, it may signify, let a man test his praise—i.e., examine by whom and for what he is praised, and be sure it is genuine and well deserved

Proverbs 27:21. As the fining-pot for silver — Is appointed and used for the trial of silver, and the detection and separation of the dross from it; so is a man to his praise — Or, according to his praise: that is, he is known by his praises; either, 1st, By the quality of those who praise and applaud him; and, as they are good or bad, so is he thought to be: or, rather, 2d, By his behaviour under praises, according as he conducts himself either humbly and modestly, with thankfulness to God, and a due sense of his own infirmities, which is the case and temper of a good man; or ambitiously and vain-gloriously, taking to himself the honour which he should give to God, as ungodly men generally do in such a case. Thus Bishop Patrick: “A man is discovered what he is, by trying how he can bear praises, commendations, and great applauses; which will presently show either the virtue or the vanity of his mind.” In this sense the LXX. seem to have understood the clause, reading ανηρ δοκιμαζεται δια στοματος εγκωμιαζον των αυτον, a man is tried by the mouth of those who praise him.27:15,16. The contentions of a neighbour may be like a sharp shower, troublesome for a time; the contentions of a wife are like constant rain. 17. We are cautioned to take heed whom we converse with. And directed to have in view, in conversation, to make one another wiser and better. 18. Though a calling be laborious and despised, yet those who keep to it, will find there is something to be got by it. God is a Master who has engaged to honour those who serve him faithfully. 19. One corrupt heart is like another; so are sanctified hearts: the former bear the same image of the earthly, the latter the same image of the heavenly. Let us carefully watch our own hearts, comparing them with the word of God. 20. Two things are here said to be never satisfied, death and sin. The appetites of the carnal mind for profit or pleasure are always desiring more. Those whose eyes are ever toward the Lord, are satisfied in him, and shall for ever be so. 21. Silver and gold are tried by putting them into the furnace and fining-pot; so is a man tried by praising him. 22. Some are so bad, that even severe methods do not answer the end; what remains but that they should be rejected? The new-creating power of God's grace alone is able to make a change. 23-27. We ought to have some business to do in this world, and not to live in idleness, and not to meddle with what we do not understand. We must be diligent and take pains. Let us do what we can, still the world cannot be secured to us, therefore we must choose a more lasting portion; but by the blessing of God upon our honest labours, we may expect to enjoy as much of earthly blessings as is good for us.So is ... - Better, So let a man be to his praise, let him purify it from all the alloy of flattery and baseness with which it is too probably mixed up. 21. Praise tests character.

a man to his praise—according to his praise, as he bears it. Thus vain men seek it, weak men are inflated by it, wise men disregard it, &c.

As the fining pot for silver; is appointed and used for the trial of silver, and the detection and separation of the dross from it.

So is a man to his praise; or, according to his praise. The sense is, So a man is known by his praises; either,

1. By the quality of those who praise and applaud him; and as they are good or bad, so is he thought to be. Or,

2. By his carriage under praises; as he carries himself either humbly and modestly with thankfulness to God, and a due sense of his own infirmities, which is the case and temper of a good man; or ambitiously and vain-gloriously, taking to himself the honour which he should give to God, as ungodly men generally do in that case. As the fining pot for silver, and the furnace for gold,.... For the trying, proving, and purifying these metals; see Proverbs 17:3;

so is a man to his praise; or "according to the mouth of his praise" (p); if his own mouth praises him, as in Proverbs 27:2;, he is known to be what he is, a foolish and vainglorious person: or "so a man is proved by the mouth of him that praises him", as the Vulgate Latin version; or "of them that praise him", as the Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic versions; and so the Targum: the meaning is, either a man is known by the persons that praise him, according to what their characters are; if he is praised by good and virtuous men, he may be thought to be so himself; and if by wicked men, he may be concluded to be so likewise; see Proverbs 28:4; or he is known by the effect that praise has upon him; if it swells him with pride, and makes him haughty, conceited, and overbearing, he will appear to be a weak and foolish man; but if he continues modest and humble, and studious and diligent to answer his character, thankful to God for what he has, and to whom he gives all the glory, he will approve himself a wise and good man.

(p) "ad os laudis suae", Gejerus.

As the refining pot for silver, and the furnace for gold; so is a man to his {i} praise.

(i) That is, he is either known to be ambitious and glorious, or humble and modest.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
21. to his praise] The meaning is brought out more clearly in R.V. text:

The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold,

And a man is tried by his praise:

i.e. by the manner in which he bears the praise bestowed upon him.

Two alternatives are given in R.V. marg.: that which he praiseth, or, that whereof he boasteth: i.e. you may test a man’s character by observing what it is that he praises in others, or that he is proud of in himself.

Another plausible rendering has found considerable favour: What the fining pot and the furnace are to the precious metals, that should a man be to the mouth which praises him; lit. to the mouth of his praise. He should purge away from what it utters, before he accepts it, the dross of flattery and exaggeration.

The first clause of this verse is identical with that of Proverbs 17:3.Verse 21. - Fining pot, etc. (see on Proverbs 17:3; comp. also Proverbs 25:4). So is a man to his praise. The Hebrew is literally, The crucible for silver, and the furnace for gold, and a man according, to his praise; i.e. as the processes of metallurgy test the precious metals, so a man's public reputation shows what he is really worth, as is stated in Proverbs 12:8. As the crucible brings all impurities to the surface, so public opinion drags forth all that is bad in a man, and he who stands this test is generally esteemed. Certainly praise is a stimulus to exertion, an incentive to try to make one's self worthy of the estimation in which one is held, especially if he purifies it from the dross and earthliness mixed with it, and takes to himself only what is genuine and just. But public opinion is very commonly false end is always a very unsafe criterion of moral excellence. Hence other interpretations have been proposed. Ewald renders, "and a man according to his boasting," that is, according to that which he most praises in himself and others. So virtually Hitzig, Bottcher, Zockler, and others. In this view the gnome denotes that a man's real character is best examined by the light cast upon it by his usual line of thought, what he most prides himself upon, what he admires most in other men. Plumptre, after Gesenius and Fleischer, has, "So let a man be to his praise," i.e. to the mouth which praises him; let him test this commendation, to see what it is worth, before he accepts it as his due. The explanation first given seems on the whole most suitable, when we reflect that the highest morality is not always enunciated, and that secondary motives are widely recognized as factors in action and judgment. There are not wanting men in modern days who uphold the maxim, Vox populi, vox Dei. Septuagint, "The action of fire is a test for silver and gold, so a man is tested by the mouth of them that praise him." No surer test of a man's true character can be found than his behaviour under praise; many men arc spoiled by it. If a man comes forth from it without injury, not rendered vain, or blind to his defects, or disdainful of others, his disposition is good, and the commendation lavished upon him may be morally and spiritually beneficial. Vulgate, Sic probatur homo ore laudantis, "So is a man proved by the mouth of him that praises him." The following passage from St. Gregory, commenting on this, is worth quoting, "Praise of one's self tortures the just, but elates the wicked. But while it tortures, it purifies the just; and while it pleases the wicked, it proves them to be reprobate. For these revel in their own praise, because they seek not the glory of their Maker. But they who seek the glory of their Maker are tortured with their own praise, lest that which is spoken of without should not exist within them; lest, if that which is said really exists, it should be made void in the sight of God by these very honours; lest the praise of men should soften the firmness of their heart, and should lay it low in self-satisfaction; and lest that which ought to aid them to increase their exertions, should be even now the recompense of their labour. But when they see that their own praises tend to the glory of God, they even long for and welcome them. For it is written, "That they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven" ('Moral.,' 26:62, Oxford transl.). The LXX. adds a verse which is not found in the Hebrew, but occurs in some manuscripts of the Latin Version, "The heart of the transgressor seeketh out evils, but an upright heart seeketh knowledge." This proverb passes from the complimentarius to its opposite, a shrewish wife:

A continual dropping in a rainy day

And a contentious woman are alike.

Thus we have already translated (vol. i. p. 9), where, when treating of the manifold forms of parabolic proverbs, we began with this least poetic, but at the same time remarked that Proverbs 27:15 and Proverbs 27:16 are connected, forming a tetrastich, which is certainly the case according to the text here lying before us. In Proverbs 27:15, Proverbs 19:13 is expanded into a distich, and made a complete verse. Regarding דּלף טורד, vid., the explanation there given. The noun סגריר, which the Syr. translates by magyaa', but the Targumist retains, because it is in common use in the post-bibl. Heb. (Bereschith rabba, c. 1) and the Jewish Aramaic, signifies violent rain, after the Jewish interpreters, because then the people remain shut up in their houses; more correctly, perhaps, from the unbroken continuousness and thickness (cf. the Arab. insajara, to go behind each other in close column) with which the rain pours down. Regarding מדונים, Kerı̂ מדינים, vid., Proverbs 6:14; the genit. connection of 'אושׁת מ we have already at Proverbs 21:9. The form נשׁתּוה is doubtful. If accented, with Lwenstein and others, as Milra, then we would have a Nithkatal before us, as at Numbers 1:47, or a Hothkatal - a passive form of the Kal, the existence of which, however, is not fully established. Rather this word is to be regarded as נשׁתּוּה (Nithpa. as Deuteronomy 21:8; Ezekiel 23:48) without the dagesh, and lengthened; the form of the word נשׁתּוה, as found in the Cod. Jaman., aims at this. But the form נשׁתּוה is better established, e.g., by Cod. 1294, as Milel. Kimchi, Michlol 131a (cf. Ewald, 132c), regards it as a form without the dagesh, made up the Niph. and Hithpa., leaving the penultima toning unexplained. Bertheau regards it as a voluntative: let us compare (as נשׁתּעה, Isaiah 41:23); but as he himself says, the reflexive form does not accord with this sense. Hitzig has adopted the right explanation (cf. Olshausen, 275, and Bttcher, 1072, who, however, registers it at random as an Ephraimitism). נשׁתּוה is a Niphal, with a transposition of consonants for נשׁותה, since נשׁותה passes over into נשׁתּוה. Such is now the genus in the arrangement; the Milra form would be as masc. syntactically inaccurate. "The finite following the subjects is regulated by the gender and number of that which is next before it, as at 2 Samuel 3:22; 2 Samuel 20:20; Psalm 55:6; Job 19:15" (Hitzig).

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