Proverbs 18:1
He who isolates himself pursues selfish desires; he rebels against all sound judgment.
Desire an Excitement to DiligenceProverbs 18:1
Extracting KnowledgeBp. Horne.Proverbs 18:1
Seeking WisdomR. Wardlaw, D. D.Proverbs 18:1
The Case of Diversions StatedJ. Seed, M. A.Proverbs 18:1
The Evil of IsolationR. F. Horton, D. D.Proverbs 18:1
The Stimulus of DesireG. Harris.Proverbs 18:1
Unsocial VicesE. Johnson Proverbs 18:1-9
There is an inner connection between them all.

I. MISANTHROPY. (Ver. 1.) If this verse be more correctly rendered, this is the meaning yielded. From a diseased feeling the man turns aside to sullen solitude, and thus rejects wisdom. This affords a fine meaning. It is one thing to feel the need of occasional solitude, another to indulge the passion for singularity.

II. OBTRUSIVENESS. (Ver. 2.) Contrast ver. 4. The talkative fool is the very opposite of the misanthrope in his habits; yet the two have this in common - they both unfit themselves for society. We may go out of solitude to indulge our spleen, or into society to indulge our vanity. Talking for talking's sake, and all idle conversation, are here marked, if as minor vices, still vices.

III. BASENESS. (Ver. 3.) The word rendered "contempt" points rather to deeds of shame. And the meaning then will be that the evil of the heart must necessarily discover itself in the baseness of the life. As the impure state of the blood is revealed in eruptions and blotches on the skin, so is it with moral evil.

IV. CONSPIRACY AND PLOTTING. (Ver. 5.) The figure employed, literally, to lift up a person's face, signifies to take his part. All party spirit is wrong, because it implies that truth has not the first place in our affections. But party spirit on behalf of the wicked is an utter abomination, for it implies a positive contempt for, or unbelief in, right and truth.

V. QUARRELSOMENESS. (Vers. 6, 7.) "The apostle, when giving the anatomy of man's depravity, dwells chiefly on the little member with all its accompaniments - the throat, the tongue, the lips, the mouth. It is 'a world of iniquity, defiling the whole body.'" It leads to violence. The deadly blow is prepared for and produced by the irritating taunting word. But there is a recoil upon the quarrelsome man. The tongue to which he has given so evil licence finally ensnares him and takes him prisoner. And the stones he has cast at others fall back upon himself. Thus does Divine judgment reveal itself in the common course of life.

VI. SLANDEROUSNESS. (Ver. 8.) The word "tale bearer" is represented more expressively in the Hebrew. It is the man that "blows in the ear." And the picture comes up before the mind of the calumnious word, whispered or jestingly uttered, which goes deep into the most sensitive places of feeling, and wounds, perhaps even unto death.

VII. IDLENESS. (Ver. 9.) Here we strike upon the root of all these hideous vices. It is the neglect of the man's proper work which suffers these vile weeds to grow. What emphasis there needs to be laid on the great precept, "Do thine own work"! The idler is brother to the corrupter, or vicious man, and his kinship is certain sooner or later to betray itself. The parable of the talents may be compared here. Then, again, how close are the ideas of wickedness and sloth! - J.

Through desire a man, having separated himself, seeketh and inter-meddleth with all wisdom.
Dull and insipid is every performance where inclination bears no part. Any one man's sense, however excellent, unless it mixes in society with that of others, always degenerates into singularity and caprice.


1. When there is no reason against any social pleasure there is always a reason for it, viz., that it is a pleasure. To suppose that the Deity would abridge us of any pleasure merely as such when it does not interfere with higher and nobler delights is a notion highly derogatory to His goodness.

2. Diversions are necessary to relieve the cares, sweeten the toils, and smooth the ruggedness of life. He who applies himself to his studies, or any other employment, with proper intervals of refreshment to recruit his spirits, will upon the whole do more good than he who gives unrelieved application. And diversions are necessary under afflictions. The first step towards a recovery of happiness is to steal ourselves gradually from a sense of our misery.

3. Diversions are necessary to endear us to one another. To comply with men's tastes as far as we innocently can in the little incidents of life, to bear a part in their favourite diversions — this knits men's hearts to one another and lays the foundations of friendship.

4. Diversions are requisite to enlarge the usefulness and influence of a good character. It would be worth while for the good to endear, by little compliances, their persons to the affections of mankind, that they might recommend their actions to their imitation. If it be asked, When do we exceed the bounds of reason in our diversions? it may be said if, after having made a party in some entertainments, the soul can recall her wandering thoughts and fix them, with the same life and energy as is natural to us in other cases, upon any subject worthy of a rational creature, it is plain that we have not gone too far. And things suitable enough in youth come with an ill grace in advanced years. The greatest hazard is that we should contract a habit of doing nothing to the purpose and should fool away life in an impertinent course of diversions.

II. THE NECESSITY OF AN EARLY AND CLOSE APPLICATION TO WISDOM. It is necessary to habituate our minds, in our younger years, to some employment which may engage our thoughts and fill the capacity of the soul at a riper age. We outgrow the relish of childish amusements, and if we are not provided with a taste for manly satisfactions to succeed in their room we must become miserable at an age more difficult to be pleased. Nothing can be long entertaining, but what is in some measure beneficial, because nothing else will bear a calm and sedate review. There is not a greater inlet to misery and vices of all kinds than the not knowing how to pass our vacant hours. When a man has been laying out that time in the pursuit of some great and important truth which others waste in a circle of gay follies he is conscious of having acted up to the dignity of his nature, and from that consciousness there results that serene complacency which is much preferable to the pleasures of animal life. Happy that man who, unembarrassed by vulgar cares, master of himself, his time and fortune, spends his time in making himself wiser, and his fortune in making others happier.


1. Let us set a just value upon and make a due use of those advantages which we enjoy. Advantages of a regular method of study (as at a university). Direction in the choice of authors upon the most material subjects. A generous emulation quickens our endeavours, and the friend improves the scholar.

2. It is a sure indication of good sense to be diffident of it. We then, and not till then, are growing wise when we begin to discern how weak and unwise we are.

(J. Seed, M. A.)

A person under the strong influence of desire is like a hound in pursuit of a deer, which he keenly and steadfastly follows when he has once caught the scent of it, and continues to track it through a herd of others, and for many a weary mile until he has hunted it down, although those which he has passed by may seem easily within his reach.

(G. Harris.)

There is no kind of knowledge which, in the hands of the diligent and skilful, will not turn to account. Honey exudes from all flowers, the bitter not excepted; and the bee knows how to extract it.

(Bp. Horne.)

If we would get knowledge or grace we must desire it as that which we need and which will be of great advantage to us. We must separate ourselves from all those things which would divert or retard us in the pursuit, retire out of the noise of this world's vanities, be willing to take pains, and try all the methods of improving ourselves, be acquainted with a variety of opinions, that we may prove all things, and hold fast that which is good.

( Matthew Henry.)

There are people who shun all togetherness in their lives; they are voluntarily, deliberately separated from their kind. We are to think of one who chooses a life of solitariness in order to follow out his own desire rather than from any necessity of circumstance or disposition; we are to think of a misanthrope. There are men who separate themselves for the common welfare, such as the student and the inventor. But the misanthrope is one who has no faith in his fellows, and shrinks into himself to escape them. Every man is not only a "self," a personality; he is a very complex being, made up of many relations with other men. He is a son, a brother, a friend, a father, a citizen. Stripped of these he is not a man, but a mere self, and that is his hideous condemnation. An old Greek saying declared that one who lives alone is either a god or a wild beast. The social instinct is one of two or three striking characteristics which mark us out as human. It becomes therefore a necessity to every wise human being to recognise, to maintain, and to cultivate all those wholesome relationships which make us truly human. Neighbourliness is the larger part of life. Our life is rich and true and helpful just in proportion as we are entwined with those who live around us in bonds of mutual respect and consideration, of reciprocal helpfulness and service, of intimate and intelligent friendship. The relation of Christ, as the Son of God, to the human race as a whole immediately opened up the possibility of a world-wide society in which all nations, all classes, all castes, all degrees, all individualities should be not so much merged as distinctly articulated and recognised in a complete and complex whole. The person of Christ is the link which binds all men together; the presence of Christ is the guarantee of the union; the work of Christ, which consists in the removal of sin, is the main condition of a heart union for all mankind. The Christian life must be the life of a community.

(R. F. Horton, D. D.)

Two opposite views have been taken of this verse. One makes Solomon refer to a pursuit of knowledge and wisdom that is right and commendable; the other regards him as speaking of what is wrong and censurable. Schultens describes the intended character thus: "A self-conceited, hair-brained fool seeks to satisfy his fancy, and intermingleth himself with all things." Parkhurst thus: "The recluse seeks his own pleasure or inclination; he laughs at or derides everything solid or wise." Another thus: "A retired man pursueth the studies he delights in, and hath pleasure in each branch of science." I am disposed to think that our own translation gives the sense. "Through desire" — that is, the desire of knowledge — "a man, having separated himself" — that is, having retired and secluded himself from interruption by the intrusion of companions and the engagements of social life — "seeketh and intermeddleth with all wisdom." There is a contrast between the character in the first verse and the character in the second verse. The contrast is between the man that loves and pursues knowledge and the man who undervalues and despises it.

(R. Wardlaw, D. D.)

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