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True Wisdom the Highest Good of Kings and Subjects.
v. 1. These are also proverbs of Solomon, maxims composed by the wise son of David, by inspiration of God, which the men of Hezekiah, king of Judah, copied out, evidently from collections where they were being preserved, the king being very anxious to have the literature of the "Golden Age" passed on to posterity in a form which would be as complete as possible.
v. 2. It is the glory of God to conceal a thing, He, whose essence is unsearchable and whose wisdom is past finding out, cannot he grasped by finite minds; but the honor of kings is to search out a matter, to make careful inquiry and get the right understanding of every case that is brought before them for judicial decision. God's judgments are often advisedly hidden before the eyes of men, the king's judgments must always be open and clear.
v. 3. The heaven for height, for it extends to immeasurable distances, and the earth for depth, since its abysses are unbelievably deep, and the heart of kings is unsearchable, their intentions cannot be figured out by ordinary subjects, whence it follows that it is foolish for men to flatter themselves with possessing the favor of the mighty, true wisdom consisting in guarding oneself in both words and deeds and in letting true worth make its impression.
v. 4. Take away the dross from the silver, the impurities from the ore, and there shall come forth a vessel for the finer, the metal being pure enough to be used for the finest vessels made by the goldsmith.
v. 5. Take away the wicked from before the king, by a judicial action which removes such dross from before the ruler's eyes, and his throne shall be established in righteousness, a wise and beneficent government resulting from energetic administration of justice.
v. 6. Put not forth thyself in the presence of the king, in showing off or boasting, and stand not in the place of great men, with insolent coolness;
v. 7. for better it is that It be said unto thee, Come up hither, to a place of greater honor in the table-round, than that thou shouldest be put lower in the presence of the prince whom thine eyes have seen, so that such a one would be humbled before the entire assembly. Cf Luke 14:8-11.
v. 8. Go not forth hastily to strive, rushing forth at the slightest provocation with quarrelsome intent, lest thou know not what to do in the end thereof, when thy neighbor hath put thee to shame, for it is easy to pick a quarrel, but its terrible consequences are often past estimation.
v. 9. Debate thy cause with thy neighbor himself, if a cause of action has arisen without a person's fault, let the controversy be carried on in an honorable manner; and discover not a secret to another, betraying one's confidence to a third person and thus making use of unfair methods,
v. 10. lest he that heareth it put thee to shame, any person hearing of the treachery earnestly reproving and upbraiding the one making use of such dishonest practices, and thine infamy turn not away, for the disgrace attending such treachery clings to it indefinitely and prevents men from trusting him at any time.
v. 11. A word fitly spoken, with proper wisdom and tact, is like apples of gold in pictures, in a framework, on a groundwork, of silver, the reference being to decorations such as were employed on ceilings and pillars, where everything is supposed to harmonize well and not to offend the eye.
v. 12. As an earring of gold and an ornament of fine gold, a pendant usually worn on the neck, so is a wise reprover, one who teaches with wise tact, upon an obedient ear, that is, the listening ear, ready to accept instruction, is better than one hung with gold.
v. 13. As the cold of snow in the time of harvest, used for the cooling of drinks on a hot summer's day, so is a faithful messenger to them that send him; for he refresheth the soul of his masters, since he performs his work well and brings back a cheering message.
v. 14. Whoso boasteth himself of a false gift, of a liberality which he does not practice, is like clouds and wind without rain, which also promise much and yield nothing.
v. 15. By long forbearing is a prince, that is, a judge sitting in a case, persuaded, a persistent, gentle patience very often succeeding in gaining its point, and a soft tongue breaketh the bone, wearing down the most stubborn resistance by its gentleness.
v. 16. Hast thou found honey? Eat so much as is sufficient for thee, as much as the body may well use for food, lest thou be filled therewith, be surfeited, and vomit it, for that is the consequence of intemperance and overindulgence.
v. 17. Withdraw thy foot from thy neighbor's house, making the visits rare, few and far between, lest he be weary of thee, tired of the company imposed upon him, and so hate thee, on account of the importunity displayed.
v. 18. A man that beareth false witness against his neighbor is a maul and a sword and a sharp arrow, since his words wound and crush with unmerciful cruelty.
v. 19. Confidence in an unfaithful man, credulous reliance upon a false person, in time of trouble, when one is in need of a trustworthy friend, is like a broken tooth and a foot out of joint, worthless as they are, they provoke all the more by the infliction of pain.
v. 20. As he that taketh away a garment in cold weather, such a laying aside of warm clothing on a cold day being manifestly a senseless way of doing things, and as vinegar upon niter, the result being the destruction of the soda on account of the chemical reaction produced, so is he that singeth songs to an heavy heart, for songs of mirth in a house of mourning are contradictory and useless, Romans 12:15.
v. 21. If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat, readily sharing food with him, and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink;
v. 22. for thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, kindness softening the heart as metals are melted by heaping glowing coals upon them, and the Lord shalt reward thee. Cf Matthew 5:44; Romans 12:20.
v. 23. The north wind driveth away rain, blowing from the north, it produces rain, it blows up a rain-storm; so doth an angry countenance a backbiting tongue, for if the tongue is busy spreading slander, it produces troubled faces, worried looks, angry frowns.
v. 24. It is better to dwell in the corner of the housetop than with a brawling woman and in a wide house. Proverbs 21:9.
v. 25. As cold waters to a thirsty soul, producing the same feeling of refreshment, so is good news from a far country, that concerning an absent friend or relative.
v. 26. A righteous man falling down before the wicked, wavering before the craft of the wicked, lacking moral firmness, is as a troubled fountain and a corrupt spring, from either of which pure and healthy water cannot be obtained; for the transgression of a just person is more far-reaching in its evil effects than that of one known to be ungodly.
v. 27. It is not good to eat much honey, it is so overrich in nourishment that its excessive use will produce a feeling of repugnance; so for men to search their own glory is not glory, literally, "and seeking their difficulties is difficulty," that is, pondering problems which have no solution is injurious.
v. 28. He that hath no rule over his own spirit, one unable to control his temper, is like a city that is broken down, its defenses having been leveled, and without walls, such a man is open to all assaults upon his morality and freedom, the enemies can easily cause him to transgress.
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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Proverbs 25". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Sixth Week after Easter