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Bible Commentaries

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Proverbs 18

Verse 1

Evidently the intent is, "He who separates himself [from other people]" does so because he wants his own way and does not want others to restrain him. Such an approach runs counter to sound wisdom because we all need input from other people to make wise decisions. It is unwise to be antisocial in the schismatic sense of that word (cf. Genesis 13:11). [Note: Toy, p. 354.]

". . . unfriendliness and unreasonableness are inseparable." [Note: Waltke, The Book . . . 31, p. 69.]

Verses 1-24

3. Friendship and folly ch. 18

Verse 11

Wealth does provide some security, but one may falsely imagine it a higher safeguard against calamity than it really is, "as anyone who has faced a terminal illness knows." [Note: Ibid., p. 77.]

Verse 16

"Gift" is not necessarily a "bribe." The Hebrew word here (mattan, cf. Proverbs 15:27; Proverbs 21:14) is not the same as the one translated "bribe" in Proverbs 17:8; Proverbs 17:12 (sohad). It can be an innocent courtesy. It means what a person gives to someone else (cf. Genesis 43:11). Waltke wrote that mattan describes a gift given for selfish reasons to gain an advantage over others, except in Proverbs 19:6. [Note: Ibid., p. 81.] Therefore it seems legitimate to apply it to one’s personal abilities (gifts) that he or she uses in the service of others as well as to material presents.

Verse 20

The sense here is that we will have to be content to accept the consequences of what we say. "Satisfied" does not mean happy but filled. Yet "productive speech is satisfying." [Note: Ross, p. 1028.]

"The oxymoron forces the thought that whatever a person dishes out, whether beneficial or harmful, he himself will feed on to full measure through what his audience in return dishes out to him," [Note: Waltke, The Book . . . 31, p. 85.]

Verse 21

The antecedent of "it" is "tongue," and "its fruit" refers to "death and life." This proverb is a warning to the talkative. Much talk will produce death and life, so be prepared for both if you talk a lot. Many words can produce much destruction as well as much blessing.

Verse 22

The favor God bestows is His blessing.

"The wording, especially in the Heb., strikingly resembles that of Proverbs 8:35, and so suggests that after wisdom itself, the best of God’s blessings is a good wife. Proverbs 31:10 makes a similar comparison, putting her price, like wisdom’s (Proverbs 8:11), above rubies." [Note: Kidner, p. 130. Cf. Genesis 2:18.]

Not just any wife is a good thing though; only a good wife is (cf. Proverbs 19:13-14).

Verse 24

The NASB translation of Proverbs 18:24 a is more true to the Hebrew than the AV that reads, "A man (who hath) friends must show himself friendly." The RV is perhaps the easiest of all to understand: "He that maketh many friends (doeth it) to his own destruction."

Why is it unwise to have many friends? Probably because when one has many friends the possibility that some of them will be false friends is greater (cf. Jeremiah 38:22). It is better to have one or two good friends than many false friends.

"The significance of friends is found in their quality, not quantity." [Note: Waltke, The Book . . . 31, p. 97.]

Christians have often applied the second part of this verse to Jesus Christ (cf. John 15:12-15; Hebrews 2:11; Hebrews 2:14-18). While that is appropriate, Solomon’s point was that in contrast to false friends (Proverbs 18:24 a), some friends can be more faithful than our closest blood relatives. Such a friend is a true treasure.

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Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Proverbs 18". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcc/proverbs-18.html. 2012.