Put away from you a fraudulent mouth, and perverse lips put far from you.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)A froward mouth.—Heb. ‘iqqeshûth, literally, distortion, or twisting of the truth, not the same word as in Proverbs 2:12; Proverbs 2:14.
Perverse lips—i.e., that “turn aside” from the truth.Proverbs 4:24-26. Put away a froward mouth — All sorts of sinful words, which proceed from, and discover an evil heart. Let thine eyes look right on — Let thine intention be pure: direct all thine actions to a right end, namely, the glory of God in thy eternal salvation, and keep thy mind fixed upon that way which leads to it, and neither look or turn aside to the right hand or to the left. Ponder the path of thy feet — Consider thy actions before thou doest them, and see that they agree with the rule. And let all thy ways be established — Or, directed, as יכונוmay be better rendered here. Or, thy ways shall be established. They shall be uniformly and constantly good, in spite of all temptations to the contrary. So this is a promise to confirm the foregoing precept. If thou dost ponder them thou mayest expect God’s blessing and good success in them. Shun all extremes, and neither add to God’s commands nor take from them. Proverbs 4:23.
lips—or, "words."Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Verse 24. - The following admonitions of this chapter bear reference to the outward conduct of life. They continue the subject of ver. 23 by showing how the guarding of the heart is to be done. There is the most; intimate connection between the heart as the fountain of the moral life and of the conduct of life, which, though determined by the condition of the heart, in its turn reacts upon the heart as the moral centre, and keeps it pure. Thus the subject is treated from its two sides. On vers. 24 and 25 Hitzig remarks that they "warn against an arbitrary perverting of the moral judgment into which evil passions so easily betray, and admonish not to give misdirection to thought within the department of morality." A froward mouth, and perverse lips; literally, perverseness of mouth and waywardness of lips (ikk'shuth peh vulzuth s'phathayim). "Perversity of mouth" is fraudulent, deceitful speech; that which twists, distorts, perverts, or misrepresents what is true, and hence falsehood (Proverbs 4:24; Proverbs 6:12; Proverbs 19:1). The σκολιὸν στόμα of the LXX., i.e. the "tortuous mouth," in a metaphorical sense. The phrase is very similar in meaning with the parallel "waywardness of lips," which means speech which turns aside from what is true and right, the noun lazuth being derived from lazah, or luz, "to bend aside." The tongue is the unruly member (James 3:2). Speech is the index of the mind (Lapide). Vigilance over the heart is vigilance over the mouth, inasmuch as "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh" (Matthew 12:34). The admonition may have a twofold application, and may mean either do not indulge in this kind of speech yourself, exercise an unremitting jealousy over every propensity to it; or have no dealings with those who are guilty of it, as in Psalm 101:5.
18 And the path of the just is like the brightness of the morning light,
Which shines more and more till the perfect day.
19 The way of the wicked is deep darkness,
They know not at what they stumble.
The Hebr. style is wont to conceal in its Vav (ו) diverse kinds of logical relations, but the Vav of 18a may suitably stand before 19a, where the discontinuance of this contrast of the two ways is unsuitable. The displacing of a Vav from its right position is not indeed without example (see under Psalm 16:3); but since Proverbs 4:19 joins itself more easily than Proverbs 4:18 to Proverbs 4:17 without missing a particle, thus it is more probable that the two verses are to be transposed, than that the ו of וארח (Proverbs 4:17) is to be prefixed to דּרך (Proverbs 4:18). Sinning, says Proverbs 4:16, has become to the godless as a second nature, so that they cannot sleep without it; they must continually be sinning, adds Proverbs 4:17, for thus and not otherwise do they gain for themselves their daily bread. With reference to this fearful self-perversion to which wickedness has become a necessity and a condition of life, the poet further says that the way of the godless is כּאפלה,
(Note: In good MSS and printed copies the כ has the Pathach, as Kimchi states the rule in Michlol 45a: כל כּאפלה פתח, כל כּאבנים פתח.)
as deep darkness, as the entire absence of light: it cannot be otherwise than that they fall, but they do not at all know whereat they fall, for they do not at all know wickedness as such, and have no apprehension of the punishment which from an inward necessity it brings along with it; on the contrary, the path of the just is in constantly increasing light - the light of knowledge, and the light of true happiness which is given
(Note: Hitzig inverts the order of Proverbs 4:18 and Proverbs 4:19, and connects the כּי of 16a immediately with Proverbs 4:19 (for the way of the wicked...). He moreover regards Proverbs 4:16, Proverbs 4:17 as an interpolation, and explains Proverbs 4:16 as a gloss transforming the text of Proverbs 4:19. "That the wicked commit wickedness," says Hitzig, "is indeed certain (1 Samuel 24:14), and the warning of Proverbs 4:15 ought not to derive its motive from their energy in sinning." But the warning against the way of the wicked is founded not on their energy in sinning, but on their bondage to sin: their sleep, their food and drink - their life both when they sleep and when they wake - is conditioned by sin and is penetrated by sin. This foundation of the warning furnishes what is needed, and is in nothing open to objection. And that in Proverbs 4:16 and Proverbs 4:19 לא ירעוּ and לא ידעוּ, יכשׁולוּ and יכּשׁלוּ, נגזלה and כּאפלה seem to be alike, does not prove that Proverbs 4:16 originated as a parallel text from Proverbs 4:19 - in the one verse as in the other the thoughts are original.)
(Note: Bttcher, under 2 Samuel 23:4, explains נגהּ of the brightness striking against, conquering (cf. נגח, נגף) the clouds; but ferire or percutere lies nearer (cf. נגע, Ezekiel 17:10, נכה, Psalm 121:6, and the Arab. darb, used of strong sensible impressions), as Silius, iv. 329, says of the light: percussit lumine campos.)
used elsewhere than in the Bible, means the morning star (Venus), (Sirach 50:4, Syr.); when used in the Bible it means the early dawn, the light of the rising sun, the morning light, 2 Samuel 23:4; Isaiah 62:1, which announces itself in the morning twilight, Daniel 6:20. The light of this morning sunshine is הולך ואור, going and shining, i.e., becoming ever brighter. In the connection of הולך ואור it might be a question whether אור is regarded as gerundive (Genesis 8:3, Genesis 8:5), or as participle (2 Samuel 16:5; Jeremiah 41:6), or as a participial adjective (Genesis 26:13; Judges 4:24); in the connection of הלוך ואור, on the contrary, it is unquestionably the gerundive: the partic. denoting the progress joins itself either with the partic., Jonah 1:11, or with the participial adjective, 2 Samuel 3:1; 2 Chronicles 17:12, or with another adjective formation, 2 Samuel 15:12; Esther 9:4 (where וגדול after וגדל of other places appears to be intended as an adjective, not after 2 Samuel 5:10 as gerundive). Thus ואור, as also וטוב, 1 Samuel 2:26, will be participial after the form בּושׁ, being ashamed (Ges. 72, 1); cf. בּוס, Zechariah 10:5, קום, 2 Kings 16:7. "נכון היּום quite corresponds to the Greek τὸ σταθηρὸν τῆς ἡμέρας, ἡ σταθηρὰ μεσημβρία (as one also says τὸ σταθηρὸν τῆς νυκτός), and to the Arabic qâ'mt ‛l-nhâr and qâ'mt ‛l-dhyrt. The figure is probably derived from the balance (cf. Lucan's Pharsalia, lib. 9: quam cardine summo Stat librata dies): before and after midday the tongue on the balance of the day bends to the left and to the right, but at the point of midday it stands directly in the midst" (Fleischer). It is the midday time that is meant, when the clearness of the day has reached its fullest intensity - the point between increasing and decreasing, when, as we are wont to say, the sun stands in the zenith ( equals Arab. samt, the point of support, i.e., the vertex). Besides Mark 4:28, there is no biblical passage which presents like these two a figure of gradual development. The progress of blissful knowledge is compared to that of the clearness of the day till it reaches its midday height, having reached to which it becomes a knowing of all in God, Proverbs 28:5; 1 John 2:20.
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