The full soul loathes an honeycomb; but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)The full soul loatheth an honeycomb.—So the moderate use of the good things of this life increases our enjoyment of them. But in spiritual things, the less we content ourselves with, the less hunger we feel, and less enjoyment do we derive from them.Proverbs 27:7. A full soul — A man whose appetite, or desire, is fully satisfied; loatheth a honey-comb — The most delicious meats; but to the hungry every bitter thing is sweet — Hunger makes a man relish the most distasteful food, while full stomachs loathe the most delightful. The design of this proverb is to show the inconvenience that oftentimes attends upon plenty, and the advantage of poverty, that the rich may learn moderation, and the poor content. “Poverty,” says Bishop Patrick, “hath this advantage over plenty, that it disposes men to be thankful for the smallest blessings, though mixed with care and trouble; when the richer sort, if they be not very careful, are apt to be unsatisfied with, nay to nauseate, their most delicious enjoyments, upon which they have long surfeited.”The full soul, a man whose appetite or desire (which is oft expressed in Scripture by the name of soul) is fully satisfied,
loatheth an honey-comb, the most delicious meats. The design of this proverb is to show the inconvenience that ofttimes attends upon plenty, and the advantage of poverty, that the rich might learn moderation, and the poor content. Proverbs 16:24; it being disagreeable to his taste, and as insipid as the white of an egg to him; and as being against him, which makes him out an arrant fool, blows a blast on all his goodness and goodliness, strips the creature of his righteousness, and excludes boasting;
but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet; that is in want of provision, has an appetite for it; anything, though ever so mean and disrelishing to others, is sweet to such an one; as was barley bread to Artaxerxes king of Persia, and country bread made of bran to Ptolemy Lagus king of Egypt, when in great distress for food (b): Seneca says (c), hunger will make bad bread fine food. And so is the Gospel, and every doctrine of it, to a sensible sinner; that is in want, and knows its wants, and has desires after spiritual things created in it; hungers and thirsts after the word and ordinances; after Christ, the bread of life; after the blessings of grace in him; particularly after the pardon of sin, and justifying righteousness and salvation by him; and after more knowledge of him, and communion with him. Now, though, here is nothing bitter in the Gospel, properly speaking, as in the law; yet, that which is bitter to others, and had been bitter to the above persons, is now sweet, and which are disagreeable to the flesh; as the denial of sinful, civil, and righteous self, which the Gospel teaches; and even that which is the most contemptible to men; as the preaching of the cross, or the doctrine of salvation by a crucified Christ; the doctrines of electing grace, imputed righteousness, the satisfaction of Christ, &c. How sweet are these to the taste of a hungry soul! and even though they are attended with bitter afflictions, the reproaches, revilings, and persecutions of men; as the paschal lamb, a type of Christ, was eaten with bitter herbs. This may also be applied to the hearing of the word; where and when there is plenty of means, men grow weary of the word, sick of it, and surfeit upon it and loath it; or, however, are very curious and nice, and cannot take up with plain preaching, but must have something suited to their palate, dressed up in a very elegant manner: but when the word of the Lord is precious or rare, and where there are few opportunities of hearing it, sensible souls, that have spiritual appetites, are glad of it; and it is sweet unto them, though not so nicely dressed and though brought to them in a homely manner.
(a) "calcabit", Pagninus, Montanus; "caleat", Vatablus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Mercerus, Gejerus; "conculcat", Cocceius; "proculcat", Michaelis, Schultens. (b) "Jejunus stomachus raro vulgaria temnit", Horat. Sermon. l. 2. Sat. 2.((c) Epist. 123.The full soul loatheth an honeycomb; but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)7. loatheth] Lit. treads under foot; calcabit, Vulg. The second clause of the verse has been compared with Horace’s
“Jejunus stomachus raro vulgaria temnit.”
Sat. ii. 2. 38.Verse 7. - The full soul loatheth an honeycomb. For "loathes" the Hebrew is literally "treads upon," "tramples underfoot," which is the expression of the greatest disgust and contempt; or it may mean that the well-fed man will not stoop to pick up the comb which may have dropped in his path from some tree or rock. But whichever way we take it, the same truth is told - Self-restraint increases enjoyment; over-iudulgence produces satiety, fatigue, and indolence. Horace, 'Sat.,' 2:2, 38 -
"Jejunus raro stomachus vulgaria temnit." But to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet. So the prodigal in the parable would fain fill himself with the husks which the swine did eat. So we say, "Hunger is the best sauce;" the Germans, "Hunger makes raw beans sweet;" and the Portuguese. "Brackish water is sweet in a dry land." Proverbs 27:1-6 of this chapter every two proverbs form a pair. The first pair is directed against unseemly boasting:
1 Boast not thyself of to-morrow,
For thou knowest not what a day bringeth forth.
The ב of בּיום is like, e.g., that in Proverbs 25:14, the ב of the ground of boasting. One boasts of to-morrow when he boasts of that which he will then do and experience. This boasting is foolish and presumptuous (Luke 12:20), for the future is God's; not a moment of the future is in our own power, we know not what a day, this present day or to-morrow (James 4:13), will bring forth, i.e., (cf. Zephaniah 2:2) will disclose, and cannot therefore order anything beforehand regarding it. Instead of לא־תדע (with Kametz and Mugrash), אל־תדע (thus e.g., the Cod. Jaman) is to be written; the Masora knows nothing of that pausal form. And instead of מה־יּלד יום, we write מה יּלד יום with Zinnorith. יּלד before יום has the tone thrown back on the penult., and consequently a shortened ult.; the Masora reckons this word among the twenty-five words with only one Tsere.
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