Proverbs 29:9
If a wise man contends with a foolish man, whether he rage or laugh, there is no rest.
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(9) Whether he rage or laugh—i.e., whether the wise man treat him with sternness or good temper, yet “there is no rest,” the fool will not cease from his folly; or, the sense may be, “the fool rages and laughs;” he will not listen quietly to argument, by which he might be brought to wisdom, but is either violent or supercilious.

Proverbs 29:9. If a wise man contendeth with a foolish man — Debating any matter with him, or endeavouring to convince him of any error; whether he — The wise man, rage (is angry) or laugh — That is, whether he deal sharply and severely with him: rebuking him for his folly, or mildly and pleasantly, smiling at it; there is no rest — No end or fruit of the debate; the fool will not be satisfied nor convinced. Thus Bishop Patrick: “Let a man be never so wise, it is to no purpose for him to dispute, or to enter into any contest with an obstinate fool; for which way soever he deal with him, whether roughly or gently, whether angrily or pleasantly, there will be no end of the controversy; but the fool will still have the last word; nay, it is well if he do not either restlessly rage, or laugh one to scorn.” Houbigant takes this verse in a somewhat different sense, reading, A wise man contending in judgment with a foolish man, whether he is provoked or derided, remains unmoved; a translation which the Hebrew will very well bear.29:1 If God wounds, who can heal? The word of God warns all to flee from the wrath to come, to the hope set before us in Jesus Christ. 2. The people have cause to rejoice or mourn, as their rulers are righteous or wicked. 3. Divine wisdom best keeps us from ruinous lusts. 4. The Lord Jesus is the King who will minister true judgment to the people. 5. Flatterers put men off their guard, which betrays them into foolish conduct. 6. Transgressions always end in vexations. Righteous men walk at liberty, and walk in safety. 7. This verse is applicable to compassion for the distress of the poor, and the unfeeling disregard shown by the wicked. 8. The scornful mock at things sacred and serious. Men who promote religion, which is true wisdom, turn away the wrath of God. 9. If a wise man dispute with a conceited wrangler, he will be treated with anger or ridicule; and no good is done. 10. Christ told his disciples that they should be hated of all men. The just, whom the blood-thirsty hate, gladly do any thing for their salvation.All modes of teaching - the stern rebuke or the smiling speech - are alike useless with the "foolish" man; there is "no rest." The ceaseless cavilling goes on still. 9. contendeth—that is, in law.

whether … laugh—The fool, whether angry or good-humored, is unsettled; or referring the words to the wise man, the sense is, that all his efforts, severe or gentle, are unavailing to pacify the fool.

If a wise man contendeth with a foolish man; either judicially or otherwise debating any matter with him, endeavouring to convince him of any error;

whether he, the wise man, rageth (or is angry) or laugheth, i.e. whether he deal sharply and severely with him, rebuking him for his folly, or mildly and pleasantly smiling at it,

there is no rest, no end or fruit of the debate, the fool will not be satisfied nor convinced. Or, as it is in the Hebrew, he (to wit, the fool last named, to whom the following carriages may seem more fitly to agree) both rageth and laugheth, (he will not yield nor be convinced, but persists in his folly, which he discovers sometimes by his furious and unbridled passions, and sometimes by foolish laughter and scorning,) and there

is no rest; he will never be quieted. If a wise man contendeth with a foolish man,.... Enters into a controversy with him, either by word or writing, in order to convince him of his folly and wickedness, of his errors and mistakes;

whether he rage or laugh, there is no rest; that is, either whether the fool is angry with the wise man, and rages at him and abuses him, and calls him names, or laughs at him, and scoffs at all his arguments, reasons, and advice; yet the wise man does not cease from proceeding in the contest with him; or he is not dejected and cast down, and discouraged; or, as the Targum is,

"he is not broken;''

but patiently bears his wrath fury, his scoffs and jeers: or else whether the wise man deals roughly or gently with the feel, in a morose or in a mere jocose way: it has no upon him; he is never the better for it; he does not acquiesce or rest in what he says like the Pharisees in Christ's time, who are compared to surly children: who, when "piped to, danced not"; and, when "mourned to, lamented not"; see Gill on Matthew 11:16, and See Gill on Matthew 11:17. The design of the proverb is to show, that all labour to reclaim a fool from his folly is lost, let a man take what methods he will, Proverbs 27:22.

If a wise man contendeth with {c} a foolish man, whether he rageth or laugheth, there is no rest.

(c) He can hear no admonition no matter how it is spoken.

9. whether he rage &c.] This makes the fool the subject, as is more clearly brought out in R.V. marg., He rageth and laugheth and there is no rest. In R.V. text, however, the wise man is made the subject, whether he be angry or laugh, whether he seeks to bring the controversy to an end by severity or by banter, he will fail. There is no coming to terms with a fool, either by threats or by persuasion.Verse 9. - If a wise man contendeth with a foolish man - if a wise man has a controversy, either legal or social, with a wicked fool - whether he rage (is angry) or laugh, there is no rest. It is a question whether the wise man or the fool is the subject of this clause. St. Jerome makes the former the subject, Vir sapiens, si cum stulto contenderit, sive irascatur, sive rideat, non inveniet requiem. It matters not how the wise man treats the fool; he may be stern and angry, he may be gentle and good tempered, yet the fool will be none the better, will not be reformed, will not cease from his folly, will carry on his cavilling contention. Hitzig, Delitzsch, and others, deeming that the rage and the laughter are not becoming to the character of the wise man, take the fool as the subject; so that the sense is, that after all has been said, the fool only falls into a passion or laughs at the matter, argument is wasted upon him, and the controversy is never settled. This seems to be the best interpretation, and is somewhat supported by the Septuagint, "A wise man shall judge the nations, but a worthless man, being angry, laughs and fears not [καταγελᾶται καὶ οὐ καταπτήσσει, which may also mean, 'is derided and terrifies no one']." Wordsworth notes that the irreligious fool is won neither by the austere preaching of John the Baptist nor by the mild teaching of Christ, but rejects both (Matthew 11:16-19). This political proverb is now followed by one of general ethics:

3 A man who loveth wisdom delighteth his father;

   And he who keepeth company with harlots spendeth his substance.

Line first is a variation of Proverbs 10:1. אישׁ־אהב has, according to rule, the Metheg, cf. 9a. אישׁ is man, without distinction of age, from childhood (Genesis 4:1) up to ripe old age (Isaiah 66:13); love and dutiful relation towards father and mother never cease. Line second reminds of Proverbs 28:7 (cf. Proverbs 13:20).

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