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Tuesday, June 25th, 2024
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12
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Bible Commentaries
Proverbs 17

Barnes' Notes on the Whole BibleBarnes' Notes

Verse 1

Sacrifices - The feast accompanied the offerings Proverbs 7:14. Part of the victims were burned upon the altar, the rest was consumed by the worshipper and his friends. The “house full of sacrifices” was therefore one abounding in sumptuous feasts.

Verse 2

The “servant,” it must be remembered, was a slave, but (as in such cases as Genesis 15:2; 2 Samuel 16:4) might succeed to the inheritance.

Verse 3

Wonderful as is the separation of the pure metal from the dross with which it has mingled, there is something yet more wonderful in the divine discipline which purifies the good that lies hid, like a grain of gold, even in rough and common natures, and frees it from all admixture of evil. Compare Mal 3:2; 1 Peter 1:7.

Verse 4

The two clauses describe two phases of the mutual affinities of evil. The evil-doer delights in lies, the liar in bad words.

Verse 5

He that is glad at calamities - A temper common at all times as the most hateful form of evil; the Greek ἐπιχαιρεκακία epichairekakia. The sins spoken of in both clauses occur also in Job’s vindication of his integrity Proverbs 31:13, Proverbs 31:29.

Verse 6

The reciprocity of good in sustained family relationships. A long line of children’s children is the glory of old age, a long line of ancestors the glory of their descendants.

Verse 7

The margin renderings are more literal and give greater emphasis. What is pointed out is not the unfitness of lying lips for the princely-hearted, but the necessity of harmony, in each case, between character and speech.

Verse 8

A half-satirical description of the power of bribery in palaces and among judges. The precious stone (literally as in the margin) is probably a gem, thought of as a talisman, which, “wherever it turns,” will ensure “prosperity” to him who, being the possessor, has the power to give it.

Verse 9

Seeketh love - i. e., Takes the course which leads to his gaining it.

He that repeateth a matter - The warning is directed against that which leads a man to dwell with irritating iteration on a past offence instead of burying it in oblivion.

Separateth very friends - Better, alienateth his chief friend. The tale-bearer works injury to himself.

Verse 11

The proverb expresses the reverence of the East for the supreme authority of the king. The “cruel messenger” is probably the king’s officer despatched to subdue and punish. The Septuagint renders it: “The Lord will send a pitiless Angel.”

Verse 12

The large brown bear of Syria, in her rage at the loss of her whelps, was to the Israelites the strongest type of brute ferocity. Compare 2 Samuel 17:8; 2 Kings 2:24.

Verse 14

The figure is taken from the great tank or reservoir upon which Eastern cities often depended for their supply of water. The beginning of strife is compared to the first crack in the mound of such a reservoir. At first a few drops ooze out, but after a time the whole mass of waters pour themselves forth with fury, and it is hard to set limits to the destruction which they cause.

Before it be meddled with - literally, “before it rolls, or rushes forward.”

Verse 15

People need to be warned against an unjust acquittal, no less than against unjust condemnation. The word “justifieth” has its forensic sense, “to declare righteous,” to acquit.

Verse 16

More literally: Why is there a price in the hand of a fool? Is it to get wisdom when he has no heart for it? No money will avail without the understanding heart.

Verse 17

Some take the proverb to describe (as in Proverbs 18:24) the “friend that sticketh closer than a brother:” and render: At all times, a friend loveth, but in adversity he is born (i. e., becomes) a brother.

Verse 18

Compare the marginal reference. Since nothing is nobler than the self-sacrifice of the true friend Proverbs 17:17, so nothing is more contemptible than the weakness which allows itself to be sacrificed for the sake of worthless associates.

In the presence of his friend - i. e., “On behalf of” or “to his friend for some third person.”

Verse 19

He that exalteth his gate - i. e., Builds a stately house, indulges in arrogant ostentation.

Verse 22

Doeth good like a medicine - Better, worketh a good healing. Omit “like.”

Verse 23

The words “out of the bosom,” from the fold of the garment, rather than from the bag or girdle in which money was usually carried, possibly point to the stealthiness with which the “gift” (or, bribe) is offered to the judge.

Verse 24

Before him - Set straight before his eyes as the mark to which they look. Others, following the Septuagint and Vulgate, interpret the verse, Wisdom is seen in the clear, stedfast look of the wise man as contrasted with the wandering gaze of the fool.

Verse 25

Compare Proverbs 17:21. Here is added a reference to the sorrow which the folly of a child brings especially to the mother.

Verse 26

Nor to strike ... - Better, and to strike the noble (in character rather than in rank) is against right. Compare John 18:28.

Verse 27

Better, A man of calm (or noble) spirit is a man of understanding.

Verse 28

Is esteemed - Or, “is” (simply). The maxim would imply that silence is in any case good.

Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Proverbs 17". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bnb/proverbs-17.html. 1870.
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