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Bible Commentaries
Proverbs 17

Kretzmann's Popular Commentary of the BibleKretzmann's Commentary

Verse 1

v. 1. Better is a dry morsel, without even the customary wine or diluted vinegar, and quietness therewith, harmony among all those at the table, than an house full of sacrifices, a great amount of the meat and other sumptuous foods served at sacrificial meals, with strife, hatred breaking out in quarrels, this being the danger when the rich went to excesses in their banquets.

Verse 2

v. 2. A wise servant shall have rule over a son that causeth shame, the degenerate, profligate heir of the house, who squanders his fortune, becoming poor to the point of enforced servitude, while the former slave, through diligence and thrift, would become master, and shall have part of the inheritance among the brethren, that is, having squandered his own patrimony, the foolish son, though the firstborn, would be obliged to divide the inheritance among the other heirs, while he himself receives not another cent.

Verse 3

v. 3. Th e fining-pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, their nature and purity in either case being brought out by the process to which they are submitted; but the Lord trieth the hearts, testing the worth of both their nature and their contents, familiar with even the hidden desires of men.

Verse 4

v. 4. A wicked doer giveth heed to false lips, literally, "Wickedness attends to lips of violence," for lies, deceit, and violence agree with the sentiments of a wicked heart; and a liar giveth ear to a naughty tongue, finding his pleasure in evil talk, which agrees with his own base thoughts and encourages him in his wickedness.

Verse 5

v. 5. Whoso mocketh the poor, treating him with contempt on account of his lowly position, reproacheth his Maker, for the Lord gave the poor his station in life; and he that is glad at calamities, rejoicing over the misfortunes which befall others, shall not be unpunished. cf Proverbs 14:31.

Verse 6

v. 6. Children's children are the crown of old men, it is a blessing of the Lord and a source of honor and pride to the gray-headed if they see their offspring to the third generation, for the happiness of the younger generation is reflected in the life of the older; and the glory of children are their fathers, for the rule works both ways, and pious children share in the honor enjoyed by their parents.

Verse 7

v. 7. Excellent speech, fine and high talk, in an assuming, dictatorial way, becometh not a fool; much less do lying lips a prince, for true nobility will have nothing to do with deceitfulness and crafty speeches.

Verse 8

v. 8. A gift is as a precious stone, literally, "a stone of loveliness," of charming grace, in the eyes of him that hath it, the reference apparently being to the case of one who is stimulated by the prospect of a rich gift or bribe and therefore works with all the greater earnestness; whithersoever it turneth, that is, to whomsoever the gift comes, it prospereth, making prosperous, securing for its giver supporters and friends.

Verse 9

v. 9. He that covereth a transgression, in a kindly and charitable manner avoiding the spread of evil reports, seeketh love, exercising it in a proper manner; but he that repeateth a matter, referring to certain transgressions time and again, keeping the memory of them alive, causing people to point the finger of scorn at the transgressor, separateth very friends, for suspicion and ill will is bound to destroy friendship.

Verse 10

v. 10. A reproof entereth more into a wise man, makes a deeper and more lasting impression, has better consequences, than an hundred stripes into a fool, for the fool is callous and cannot be influenced.

Verse 11

v. 11. An evil man seeketh only rebellion, that is, he who rebels against the Lord in willful transgression of His Law has evil in mind; therefore a cruel messenger shall be sent against him, that is, evil will be punished with inexorable severity.

Verse 12

v. 12. Let a bear robbed of her whelps meet a man rather than a fool in his folly, for a malignant fool is a greater menace to society and mankind in general than an angry bear.

Verse 13

v. 13. Whoso rewardeth evil for good, in an excess of ingratitude, evil shall not depart from his house, for misfortune is the penalty of such acts of base ingratitude.

Verse 14

v. 14. The beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water, as the breaking forth of waters through a dam or dike; one never knows to what proportions the flood will grow; therefore leave off contention before it be meddled with, cease before the mischief is set a-going; for, as in the case of a flood, one never knows how much damage will eventually be done.

Verse 15

v. 15. He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, with an utter disregard of the demands of justice, even they both are abomination to the Lord, God regards either case with equal loathing.

Verse 16

v. 16. Wherefore is there a price in the hand of a fool to get wisdom, believing that money will purchase knowledge or earthly gold, understanding, seeing he hath no heart to it? this fact being the real difficulty so far as the fool is concerned and shutting him out from true wisdom.

Verse 17

v. 17. A friend loveth at all times, the good will among comrades being constant always, ever on the same level, and a brother is born for adversity, or, but the brother is born of adversity, for it is at such times that friendship and the proper brotherly relation receive their test.

Verse 18

v. 18. A man void of understanding, lacking in common sense, striketh hands, pledging himself and his goods foolishly, and becometh surety in the presence of his friend. cf Proverbs 6:1-5; Proverbs 11:15.

Verse 19

v. 19. He loveth transgression that loveth strife, for a quarrelsome disposition is usually combined with wickedness of heart; and he that exalteth his gate seeketh destruction, putting on the airs of the wealthy by building a lofty gateway to his house, thereby inviting jealousy and enmity and leading to his own ruin. Pride is the most common cause of ruinous quarrels.

Verse 20

v. 20. He that hath a froward heart, one that is crooked and malicious, findeth no good, will never prosper; and he that hath a perverse tongue, a wayward tongue, one which is not consistent, but winds and twists to suit the occasion, falleth into mischief, plunging himself into a well-deserved punishment.

Verse 21

v. 21. He that begetteth a fool doeth it to his sorrow, he is most unfortunate to have a fool for his son; and the father of a fool hath no joy. Proverbs 10:1; Proverbs 18:13.

Verse 22

v. 22. A merry heart doeth good like a medicine, cheerfulness is conducive to health and well-being; but a broken spirit, one afflicted with grief and distress, drieth the bones, taking the very marrow and strength out of the body.

Verse 23

v. 23. A wicked man taketh a gift out of the bosom, rather, "A bribe from the bosom," one given secretly and stealthily, "the wicked will receive," to pervert the ways of judgment, that being the object of bribes.

Verse 24

v. 24. Wisdom is before him that hath understanding, it is very near to him, it guides and directs him always, leading him along one definite road always; but the eyes of a fool are in the ends of the earth, engaged with things in a dim and shadowy distance, his thoughts straying about without definite aim.

Verse 25

v. 25. A foolish son is a grief to his father, causing him sorrow and mourning, and bitterness to her that bare him, by the vexation which he causes.

Verse 26

v. 26. Also, to punish the just is not good, it is against the principles of justice to have the righteous bear any kind of punishment, nor to strike princes for equity, smiting the noble contrary to right, under the pretense of right and justice openly to dispense injustice.

Verse 27

v. 27. He that hath knowledge spareth his words, is chary of speech, refrains from garrulity; and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit, rather, he that is of a quiet temper, a man who has himself in hand always, shows that lie is sensible.

Verse 28

v. 28. Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise, and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding, this being an admonition to the foolish at least to abstain from making known his lack of wisdom and thus to maintain a reputation for common sense, if he can do nothing more.

Bibliographical Information
Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Proverbs 17". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kpc/proverbs-17.html. 1921-23.
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