Proverbs 17:16
Why should the fool have money in his hand with no intention of buying wisdom?
Means and Abilities to Get WisdomW. Reading, M. A.Proverbs 17:16
Opportunities of YouthH. Ward Beecher.Proverbs 17:16
Fatherhood and SonshipW. Clarkson Proverbs 17:6, 21, 25
Light in the Head, Love in the HeartE. Johnson Proverbs 17:16-20
Use and NeglectW. Clarkson Proverbs 17:16, 24

I. MONEY USELESS WITHOUT SENSE. (Ver. 16.) The true view of money is that of means to ends. But if the ends are not seen, or, being seen, are not earnestly desired, of what avail the means? If our heart be set upon the right objects of life, opportunities will always present themselves. If blind to life's meaning, no advantages wilt seem to be advantages.


1. In general. It is constant; it is unvarying; it is adapted to all the various states and vicissitudes of life.

2. In particular. It takes new life out of sorrow. In distress, the friend is developed into the "brother," and is taken close to the heart. True friendship gladdens at the opportunity of self-devotion for the beloved one's good. It is the distress of our sin which makes us acquainted with him "that sticketh closer than a brother." But thank God for all those who are newborn to us in the freshly revealed grace and goodness of their hearts amidst the scenes of suffering.

III. THE STRICT DUTY OF CAUTION IN REFERENCE TO RESPONSIBILITY. (Ver. 18.) The consequences of becoming bail for a defaulter were in ancient life very terrible. Nowadays there are prudent men who will never set their hand to an acceptance. Although all moral duties are not equally amiable in their aspect, it must be remembered that the ability to do good to others rests upon strict prudence with reference to one's self. We may be maimed or destroyed by imprudence.

IV. RESISTANCE TO THE BEGINNINGS OF EVIL. (Ver. 19.) Contention or tempers and passion in general leads on to graver sin. Open the way to one sin, and others will immediately troop forward in its rear. Again, contentiousness and pride are in close connection; the latter is generally the spring of the former. And both are ruinous in their tendency. High towers invite the lightning; but he that does not soar too loftily will suffer the less by a fall. A modest way of life, within our means, is the only truly Christian life.

V. THE TRUE HEART AND THE GUILELESS TONGUE. (Ver. 20.) There is no health, no salvation for self or others, in the false heart and the tongue that flickers and wavers between opposing impulses. Old Homer has the sentiment that he who speaks one thing and thinks another in his heart is hateful as the gates of hell.

1. There is no true light in the head without love in the heart.

2. There is no dualism in our moral character.

3. There is a correspondence between our outward lot and our inward choice. - J.

Wherefore is there a price in the hand of fool to get wisdom, seeing he hath no heart to it?
The term "fool" is not used in the modern sense of a man without reason; but rather in the sense of an unreasoning man. The term is applied much as we apply the term "wicked man." The figure in the text is one drawn from commerce. It represents a man who has been given a sum which he is to invest. He spends part of it in dissipation, part in unwise and unprofitable commodities, and some part in shadows and cheats and pretences; and when he has expended that sum he is a bankrupt. Wicked or foolish men have committed to them a price or a capital, and what is the use if they have no heart to use it right? What good does it do them if they do not employ it as they should? The idea that men are sent into this world for a purpose, and that they are equipped for the accomplishment of that purpose, is given in both the Testaments. Men comprehensively have committed to them, in bodily organs, and in their mental equipment, a power singularly complex, but wise and efficient, and as compared with the agencies of nature in its adaptations to the work of life, surpassing the human frame itself. Natural laws are the great agencies of nature that are being used or fructified by the volition of man. Each man stands at the centre of a sphere of possibilities where he, through knowledge, may come to control natural law and work in his limited sphere as God works in the infinite sphere. Then there is the good name and fame which descends to many of us from our parents. There is a presumption that stock and blood will tell, and that a good father will have good children. It is invaluable to a young man beginning life to have the kindly expectation, the generous sympathy and goodwill of those to whom he comes. What a price is put into the hands of the young in our time in the matter of education; if a man has a heart for knowledge, if he has an ambition to acquire it, and if he is quick to discern, the eye, the ear, every sense becomes the minister of education. Alas! that there should be so many who care nothing for it! Closely connected with this is the capital of bodily health. Good health is a wonderful help to morality, to nobility of character, and to calmness and decision of judgment and action. Next is the capacity of industry. I believe fervently in enterprise, but I also believe fervently in the good old-fashioned notions about patient industry. Every person has that in him by which he can win a moderate success in life by simply doing, day by day, the right things, however humble a sphere he may be in. To many have also been given the invaluable qualities of integrity, honour, and fidelity. These are very valuable from a commercial point of view. A man who is honest, and truthful, and full of integrity, when he has finally been proved, has everybody engineering for him. Then look upon life as a very solemn thing. God has given you one life, and has put capital into your hands, and sent you into this world to buy immortality. Do not squander that price. Listen to the voice of wisdom.

(H. Ward Beecher.)

We may define wisdom to be a right apprehension of those things that are best for us, and a diligent pursuit of them by such means as are agreeable to the laws of piety and virtue. Men have sometimes abilities and opportunities to act wisely for themselves, but neglect them, and have no heart to make their just advantages of them.

1. A man of good natural faculties and endowments of mind may be said to have the price of wisdom in his hand, when he hath no heart to it.

2. This price may be understood of the schools of good education and learning. Those who are brought up in such places often act the part of fools.

3. Riches are in many respects the price of wisdom, in that they enable their owners to buy books, to hire teachers, and to be at leisure to spend their time in the study of useful learning.

4. Men of great power and authority have the price of wisdom in their hands.

5. We have a noble price put into our hands to get wisdom, in the ordinances of religion and means of grace we enjoy. These advantages are the portion of every Christian. But these opportunities are sadly often in the hands of those who have no heart to make use of them. This appears —

(1)From the want of zeal in attending public worship; and —

(2)From the errors and vices of our common conversation.We often condemn our own mismanagement of the talents which God has given us, and look back with much regret upon those opportunities which have slipped through our hands. But the power is often given without the will, so that we suffer many opportunities to pass away and be lost without improving them to any good purpose.

(W. Reading, M. A.)

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