Proverbs 17
Sermon Bible
Better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, than an house full of sacrifices with strife.

Proverbs 17:15

These words may serve to show us that our estimate of other men is a matter of very solemn responsibility in God's sight.

I. I will first insist on the general duty of conscientiousness in forming all our estimates of other men. We Christians are not driving on with the world, trampling down or lifting up other men as suits our purpose. We have a higher, a nobler work to do by others, even to uplift that standard of right and wrong of praise and blame, which reflects the purity and holiness of Him whom we serve. It should be our aim not to follow public opinion in such estimates, but to act for ourselves and for God.

II. "He that justifieth the wicked is an abomination to the Lord." Unholy and unprincipled life, wherever found, ought to be protested against by the servants of God. Here is their line of demarcation, and surely it is plain enough. Yet do we not constantly see it overstepped? Is it not constantly found that men, who would make a brother an offender for a word, whatever might be his usefulness and high Christian example, will at the same time condone the grossest moral faults, and even make idols of men who are the avowed enemies of Him whom they serve?

III. "He that condemneth the just." Here undoubtedly our fault is much more common, much more recklessly committed. We are always more prone to condemn than to justify. It is an abuse of our instinct of self-preservation to be ever ready with our hostility to other men. Notice a few ways in which we may, with God's help, guard against this prevailing tendency of our day. (1) Look ever at the life, which is palpable, rather than at the motive of the creed, which is usually mere matter of surmise. (2) Avoid, and refuse to use, and protest against the use of, all party names. (3) Form your opinions of others, not at the prompting of the world, but as under the eye of God.

H. Alford, Quebec Chapel Sermons, vol. vii., p. 67.

References: Proverbs 17:16-20.— R. Wardlaw, Lectures on Proverbs, vol. ii., p. 147. Proverbs 17:17.— Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xv., No. 899; W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven, 2nd series, p. 116; New Manual of Sunday School Addresses, p. 240. Proverbs 17:21-28.— R. Wardlaw, Lectures on Proverbs, vol. ii., p. 158.

Proverbs 17:20Two bad things are reproved in these words: the first is a bad spirit, and the second is a bad habit; the first is the sullen, snarling spirit of discontent, which kills all hearty, genial gaiety; the second is the vicious habit of unbridled flippant talk, which goes far to destroy all cheerful, loving fellowship.

I. Of all the faults of our time, none is more glaring than this frowardness of heart which Solomon denounces in our text. We are all critics, and all fancy we have a right to have an opinion on all things. The vice of the age is a spirit of detraction. Such a spirit, says Solomon, findeth no good.

II. The captious man is never the loving one, and the unloving man can never be like Christ. He came among us not to excite us to a restless watching for evil, but to remind us that there was redemption promised from the evil, and to work out that redemption for us.

III. Remember that, the more stupid and dull we are, the more difficulties do we find; and the more we depart from virtue, the keener is our scent for vice. The man that is always looking out for what is wrong will gradually lose his interest in that which is perfect, till all that is simply pure and gentle and true and lovely will appear to him tame and insipid. The froward heart, which is always on the watch for faults and failure, goes on to require these things as its very daily food, and at last waxes frantic when there is no fault to find.

A. Jessopp, Norwich School Sermons, p. 210.

Proverbs 17:22I. Consider the power which the mind can exert in support of the body, so long as itself is in good case. If it be true that the spirit of man has a medicinal power, that there is a strength in his nature which endows him with such control over the body that he can give it up to the worst tortures, and yet betray no fear, then it must be quite idle to argue that he possesses no power by which to keep passions in check, and to make a bold stand against the cravings of unrighteousness. We want no better argument by which to prove to man that there is a strength in his nature for offering resistance to evil, a strength for which he shall give account at the judgment, than that which we fetch from the fact that there is a strength for sustaining infirmity.

II. Consider how, if the mind itself be disordered, it will break down the body—"A broken spirit drieth the bones." We take the statement of Solomon to be that, though there is a strength in man through which he can bear up against physical pressure, there is comparatively none for the sustaining of mental. We will admit that under certain limitations men may endure mental pain as well as bodily. It is a fine argument for the immortality of the soul, for the certainty of her soaring above the wreck of matter, that, however she be assailed by pain, so long as the pain is unconnected with her everlasting destinies, she never fails, so to speak, as to pass beyond the hope of recovery. We believe that a truly broken spirit is that which is bruised with a sense of sin, and if this be a broken spirit, how true that "a broken spirit drieth the bones." Yet though a man may have been forced to say with Job, "The arrows of the Almighty are within me, the poison whereof drinketh up my spirit; the terrors of God do set themselves in array against me," he will have passed speedily on to the beholding Jesus dying, "the just for the unjust," to the viewing in Him the propitiation for sin, and the "Advocate with the Father."

H. Melvill, Penny Pulpit, No. 1896.

References: Proverbs 17:22.—S. Cox, An Expositor's Notebook, p. 161; H. Melvill, Voices of the Year, vol. ii., p. 321. Proverbs 17:26.—J. H. Hitchens, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xx., p. 219. Proverbs 18:1-8.—R. Wardlaw, Lectures on Proverbs, vol. ii., p. 169. Proverbs 18:9-14.—Ibid., p. 180.

A wise servant shall have rule over a son that causeth shame, and shall have part of the inheritance among the brethren.
The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold: but the LORD trieth the hearts.
A wicked doer giveth heed to false lips; and a liar giveth ear to a naughty tongue.
Whoso mocketh the poor reproacheth his Maker: and he that is glad at calamities shall not be unpunished.
Children's children are the crown of old men; and the glory of children are their fathers.
Excellent speech becometh not a fool: much less do lying lips a prince.
A gift is as a precious stone in the eyes of him that hath it: whithersoever it turneth, it prospereth.
He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends.
A reproof entereth more into a wise man than an hundred stripes into a fool.
An evil man seeketh only rebellion: therefore a cruel messenger shall be sent against him.
Let a bear robbed of her whelps meet a man, rather than a fool in his folly.
Whoso rewardeth evil for good, evil shall not depart from his house.
The beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water: therefore leave off contention, before it be meddled with.
He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the LORD.
Wherefore is there a price in the hand of a fool to get wisdom, seeing he hath no heart to it?
A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
A man void of understanding striketh hands, and becometh surety in the presence of his friend.
He loveth transgression that loveth strife: and he that exalteth his gate seeketh destruction.
He that hath a froward heart findeth no good: and he that hath a perverse tongue falleth into mischief.
He that begetteth a fool doeth it to his sorrow: and the father of a fool hath no joy.
A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.
A wicked man taketh a gift out of the bosom to pervert the ways of judgment.
Wisdom is before him that hath understanding; but the eyes of a fool are in the ends of the earth.
A foolish son is a grief to his father, and bitterness to her that bare him.
Also to punish the just is not good, nor to strike princes for equity.
He that hath knowledge spareth his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit.
Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.
William Robertson Nicoll's Sermon Bible

Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

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