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Bible Commentaries
Proverbs 17

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-28

Chapter 17

Better is a dry morsel, with quietness, than a house full of sacrifices with strife ( Proverbs 17:1 ).

Now the house full of sacrifices refer to the sacrifices. It's, if in that economy the of the Judaism, if you decided that tonight you wanted to have roast leg of lamb, to butcher your lamb you'd take it down to the temple and you bring it to the priest. And you'd say, "I want to offer this as a peace offering unto God, a sacrifice." So you'd butcher the lamb and the priest would take the fat and put it on the fire and burn it and the smoke and all, of course, smells real good and that's your portion, God, you know. And I take and the priest gets his portion out, puts his hook in, gets his portion, but then the rest of it I roast tonight, and I gather together my family and friends, we have a big barbecue. So the house full of sacrifices actually refers to a house full of meat, which in those days, and is becoming more so now, a real delicacy. "But a dry morsel in quietness, in peace, is better than a whole house full of sacrifices with strife."

A wise servant shall have rule over a son that causeth shame, and shall have a part of the inheritance among the brethren. The fining pot is for silver, the furnace for gold: but the LORD trieth the hearts ( Proverbs 17:2-3 ).

Now the Bible speaks about God testing our works by fire. God trying our hearts. The testing of our works, really, when it comes down to it, is not so much what we have done, but the motive that was behind what was done. Bible says that all of our works are to be tested to see what sort they are. Tested by fire. And those works that can remain after the testing of fire, you'll be rewarded for. But many of the works that we do are as wood, hay and stubble. They're going to go up in the flame. I really didn't do them with a pure motive. Though the work may be a very commendable thing, "Oh, look what he did!" You know. And a very commendable thing, yet it was done with the motive of bringing glory or honor to myself. I was doing it to be a big show. I was doing it so people would know what a great, neat guy I am, you know. And to bring attention or honor to myself. Well, those kind of works are going to be tried by God, for God tries the hearts and He knows what is in my heart when I am doing something. All of our works tested by fire.

Jesus said, "Take heed to yourself that you do not your righteousness before men to be seen of men." Don't let that be the motive. The approval, the praise, the recognition of man. "For," He said, "I say unto you, you have your reward" ( Matthew 6:1-2 ). So even as the fining pot is for silver and the furnace is to burn out the dross in the gold, so it is the Lord who through the fire will try our hearts, our works, the manner or sort they are.

A wicked doer gives heed to false lips; and a liar giveth ear to the naughty tongue. Whoso mocketh the poor reproaches his Maker ( Proverbs 17:4-5 ):

Now God takes up the cause for the poor. So if you're poor, take heart. God takes up your cause. And anyone who mocks the poor is reproaching his Maker. "Has not God chosen the poor of this earth yet rich in faith?" ( James 2:5 )

he that is glad at calamities shall not be unpunished ( Proverbs 17:5 ).

One of the characteristics of this agape love in 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 is that it rejoices not in iniquity. It rejoices not in the calamity. You know, there are some people we just hope something bad happens to them. They deserve it. And when it happens, you say, "All right, I knew it, you know. They had it coming and all." And yet, "He that is glad at calamities shall not go unpunished." So be careful of that. It's the wrong attitude.

Children's children [or your grandchildren] are the crown of old men ( Proverbs 17:6 );

Amen. They are glory.

and the glory of children, their fathers. Excellent speech becomes not a fool: much less lying lips a prince ( Proverbs 17:6-7 ).

Quite a contrast.

A gift is as a precious stone in the eyes of him that has it: wherever he turns it, he prospers ( Proverbs 17:8 ).

In other words, it's just a precious stone wherever you turn it you see the different colors and facets. So is a gift like a precious stone to the man who receives it.

He that covers a transgression seeks love ( Proverbs 17:9 );

Now the Bible says, "Love covers a multitude of sins" ( 1 Peter 4:8 ). If you cover it, you're seeking love.

but he that repeats a matter can separate friends. A reproof enters more into a wise man than a hundred stripes into a fool ( Proverbs 17:9-10 ).

It's interesting how that in raising children you find the diversities of personalities even of your own children. And you learn that there are some kinds of punishment that work for one child but don't work for another. With some, just a word of reproof and they're devastated. Others you can wail on them and it doesn't touch them.

My little grandson Bradley, we were down in Phoenix and we were having Thanksgiving dinner with the family there. And I think it was during prayer that he had been naughty or... so I said, "Bradley, Grandpa is ashamed of you." Well, the kid, he was like I had beaten him. He wailed and cried. He was... broke tears. Grandpa had never said anything before to him of a cross or angry nature and it just devastated the poor little guy to have grandpa disappointed about him. It just almost destroyed him. "Reproof enters more into a wise man's heart and all than a hundred stripes enters into a fool."

An evil man seeks only rebellion: therefore a cruel messenger shall be sent against him. Let a bear robbed of her cubs meet a man, rather than a fool in his folly ( Proverbs 17:11-12 ).

That one I thought was quite interesting. I wouldn't want to meet a bear robbed of her cubs. But I wouldn't want to meet a fool in his folly, either.

Whoso rewards evil for good, evil shall not depart from his house ( Proverbs 17:13 ).

That's quite a proverb and it's quite a warning. "Whoso rewards evil for good, evil will never depart from his house."

The beginning of strife is as when one lets out water: therefore leave off contention, before it be meddled with ( Proverbs 17:14 ).

Once you start letting the water out, it's awfully hard to stop. Therefore, stay away from contention, the beginning of strife.

He that justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the just, even they both are an abomination unto God ( Proverbs 17:15 ).

"Woe unto them who say who call evil good, and good evil" ( Isaiah 5:20 ). Why? Because it's an abomination to the Lord.

Wherefore is there a price in the hand of the fool to get wisdom, seeing he hath no heart to it? ( Proverbs 17:16 )

I love this one.

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity ( Proverbs 17:17 ).

A friend, they love at all times. Brother, he has been born for this time of adversity.

A man who is void of understanding strikes hands, and becomes a surety in the presence of his friends ( Proverbs 17:18 ).

Now he really warns about this business of striking hands and being a surety for someone else. Evidently, he got burned many times on this.

He that loves transgression that loves strife: and he that exalts his gate seek destruction. He that hath a perverse heart finds no good: and he that has a perverse tongue falls into mischief. He that begets a fool doeth it to his sorrow: and the father of a fool has no joy ( Proverbs 17:19-21 ).

Wouldn't it be tragic to have a child that's a fool? He who begets a fool does it to his own sorrow; the father of a fool has no joy.

A merry heart does good like a medicine ( Proverbs 17:22 ):

You know, more and more they are learning what a healthy thing it is to be happy. The merry heart. When you eat laughter, just gets the right juices going that really help you to digest your food well. A merry heart is just as good for you as medicine. The relationship between our attitudes and our physical well-being, how that these glands that are excreting the various chemicals into our systems, the good chemicals that come in joy and in happiness. And the other chemicals that are produced in fear or in anger and bitterness or whatever, those chemicals which destroy you. So without knowing all of the capacities and work of the pituitary and hypothalamus and everything else, Solomon just made an observation that a merry heart is good like a medicine.

but a broken spirit can dry up the bones. A wicked man takes a gift out of the bosom to pervert the ways of judgment. Wisdom is before him that has understanding; but the eyes of the fool roam to the ends of the eaRuth ( Proverbs 17:22-24 ).

The one is before you; the other is always looking out to 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 ( Proverbs 17:25-27 ).

"He that hath knowledge spareth his words." How does it go? "There was an old owl who lived in the oak. The more he saw, the less he spoke. The less he spoke, the more he heard. Why can't you be like that old bird?" And of course, in the same line is the proverb there in verse Proverbs 17:28 .

Even a fool, when he holds his tongue, is counted wise: and he that keeps his lips shut is esteemed a man of understanding ( Proverbs 17:28 ).

You know, just sit back and say, "Hmm. Well, uh-hmm, you know." Feeling, "Man, he's smart." "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Proverbs 17". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/proverbs-17.html. 2014.
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