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Bible Commentaries
Proverbs 17

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and HomileticalLange's Commentary

Verses 1-28

β) Admonition to contentment and a peaceable disposition

Chap. 17

1     Better a dry morsel and quietness therewith

than a house full of slain beasts with strife.

2     A wise servant shall have rule over a degenerate son,

and shall have part of the inheritance among the brethren.

3     The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold,

but he that trieth hearts is Jehovah.

4     Wickedness giveth heed to lying lips,

deceit giveth ear to a vile tongue.

5     He that mocketh the poor hath reproached his Maker,

he that rejoiceth over a calamity shall not be unpunished.

6     The crown of the old is children’s children,

the glory of children is their parents.

7     High speech doth not become the fool,

how much less do lying lips the noble!

8     As a precious stone is a gift in the eyes of him that receiveth it,

whithersoever it turneth it maketh prosperous.

9     He that covereth trangression seeketh after love;

but he that repeateth a matter estrangeth friends.

10     A reproof sinketh deeper into a wise man

than to chastise a fool an hundred times.

11     The rebellious seeketh only evil,

and a cruel messenger shall be sent after him.

12     Meet a bear robbed of her whelps,

and not a fool in his folly.

13     He that returneth evil for good,

from his house evil shall not depart.

14     As a breaking forth of waters is the beginning of strife;

before the strife poureth forth, cease!

15     He that acquitteth the wicked and he that condemneth the just,

an abomination to Jehovah are they both.

16     Why this price in the hand of a fool?

(It is) to get wisdom, and he hath no heart to it.

17     At all times the friend loveth,

but the brother is born of adversity.

18     A man void of understanding is he who striketh hands,

who becometh surety in the presence of his friend.

19     He loveth sin that loveth strife,

and he that buildeth high his doors seeketh destruction.

20     He that is of a false heart findeth no good,

he that goeth astray with his tongue falleth into evil.

21     He that begetteth a fool doeth it to his sorrow,

and the father of a fool hath no joy.

22     A joyous heart promoteth health,

but a broken spirit drieth the bones.

23     A gift from the bosom a wicked man will receive

to pervert the ways of justice.

24     Before the face of the wise is wisdom,

but the fool’s eyes are in the ends of the earth.

25     A grief to his father is a foolish son,

and a trouble to her that bare him.

26     Also to punish the righteous is not good,

to smite the noble contrary to right.

27     He that spareth his words hath knowledge,

and he that is quiet in temper is a man of understanding.

28     Even a fool who keepeth silence will be counted wise,

and he that shutteth his lips is wise.


Proverbs 17:4.—מֵרַע is probably not a Hiph. part.: “a wicked man,” but an abstract substantive, as the parallel term שֶׁקֶר; indicates (Ewald, Hitzig); and מֵזִין stands, according to the parallel מַקְשִׁיב for מַאֲזִין. [Bött. insists upon regarding the form as a Hiph. part. masc., distinguished by the vocalization from מֵרֵעַ “friend“ (see §§ 1124, A; 764, c); Fuerst gives to the full form מֵרֵעַ, which never occurs, but is assumed as the singular of מְרַעִים, the active signification “maleficus,” evil doer, but maintains that מֵרַע, which occurs only here except with a pausal modification, has naturally the neuter abstract meaning. See also Green, § 140, 5.—A.]

Proverbs 17:10.—From the infin. הַכּוֹת there is easily supplied as an object תֵּחַת—ּמַכָּה is the Imperf. of the verb נָחַת, descend, to penetrate (comp. Isaiah 30:30): the form without abbreviation would, according to Psalms 38:3, have been תנחת. [So Bött. who also defends the position of the accent on the ground of emphasis (§ 497, 3), and criticizes, both on the ground of specific form and general construction, Fuerst’s assigning it as an apoc. Imperf. to חָתָה.—A.]

Proverbs 17:11.—That רַע is the subject of the clause, and not possibly מְרִי, as the Syr., Chald., Umbreit, Ewald, etc., maintain, appears from the position of אַךְ before the latter word, and also from the unquestionable reference of the בּוֹ in the 2d clause to רַע as a masculine substantive. [Rueetschi (as above, p. 146) replies that אַךְ may as well throw its emphasis on an entire proposition as on a single word (see Nordheimer, §1072, 4) and that בּוֹ refers to מְרִי the subject of the proposition, which is an abstract in the sense of a concrete. Versions and interpreters are very equally divided; with our author emphasizing מְרִי as object, “only rebellion, nothing but rebellion,” are the E. V., V. Ess, Bertheau, K., S.; with Rueetschi are De W., M., N. and substantially II. and W. We render with the latter in opposition to Zöckler’s view.—A.].

Proverbs 17:13. The K’thibh לֹא־תָמִישׁ is to be retained, since the Hiphil הֵמִישׁ has in Psalms 55:12 also the intransitive meaning “depart.”

Proverbs 17:19. Aben ezra, Geier., Schultens, etc., take the expression “to make high the door, or gate,” as meaning “to open wide the mouth, to utter a vehement outcry” (פֶתַח being taken as equivalent to פֶה, as ostium is to os; comp. Psalms 141:3; Ecclesiastes 12:4). But the idea would then be very obscurely expressed, and instead of מַגְבִּיהַּ we should expect מַגְדִּיל.

Proverbs 17:22. גֵּהָה is not equivalent to גֵּוָה or גְּוִיָּה, “body,” (Chald., Syr., Bertheau, etc.) but is to be derived from the radical גָהָה, Hosea 5:13,—and therefore means “healing, recovery” (Hitzig, “the closing up of a wound”?) [Fuerst prefers the rendering of the Targ., Syr., etc.; Gesen. that adopted by the author.—A.].

Proverbs 17:27. The rendering which we give conforms to the K’thibh, וְקַר רוּחַ, to substitute for which with the K’ri (which is followed by the Vulg., Luther, etc.) יְקַר רוּחַ, “of a noble spirit,” seems here less appropriate. [The LXX follow the K’thibh].


1.Proverbs 17:1-9. Admonitions to contentment and a wise moderation in earthly possessions, and in the use of the tongue.—Better a dry morsel and quietness therewith. “A dry piece of bread,” without wine, without even vinegar (Ruth 2:14) or water with it (1 Samuel 25:11). The thing contrasted with it is זְבָחִים, not “sacrificial banquets” (Umbreit, Elster, [Fuerst]), but animals slaughtered for sacrifice, as constituting the chief element in a rich, sumptuous meal; comp. Proverbs 9:2; Genesis 43:16. For the general meaning compare Proverbs 15:16-17; Proverbs 16:8.

Proverbs 17:2. A wise servant (comp. Proverbs 14:35) shall have rule over a degenerate son, lit., “a bad, unprofitable son,” who becomes impoverished and even a slave, because he has squandered his means, etc.Among the brethren shall he divide the inheritance, i.e. among brethren who are sons of the testator, while he himself who inherits with them, is not a son but only a servant. Comp. Abraham’s apprehension in regard to his servant Eliezer, Genesis 15:3 sq. With this expression “in the midst of the brethren” compare a similar one in Hosea 13:15.

Proverbs 17:3. With clause a compare Proverbs 27:21 a (which is literally identical): with b compare Proverbs 15:11; Proverbs 16:2; Proverbs 21:2; Proverbs 24:12.

Proverbs 17:4. Wickedness giveth heed to lying lips. See critical notes. The meaning is plainly this: “A wicked heart, inwardly corrupt, gladly attends to lying talk; and deceit”—so clause b asserts in addition—i.e. a heart full of inward insincerity and hypocrisy, a hypocritical man given to lying (abstract for concrete), “hearkens to a perverse tongue,” i.e. finds pleasure in wicked discourse, which supplies words to its own base thoughts, and develops them into definite evil propositions and designs.

Proverbs 17:5. With a compare Proverbs 14:31.—He that rejoiceth over a calamity shall not be unpunished (comp. Proverbs 11:21; Proverbs 16:5). “Sudden misfortune,” according to clause a probably sudden poverty. Comp. Job 31:29, a similar utterance regarding the penal desert of an uncharitable delight in calamity.

Proverbs 17:6. With clause a comp. Psalms 127:5.—The glory of children is their fathers. As the pride and honor of the gray-headed is the family circle that surrounds them, or the advancing series of their children, grandchildren, etc., so “on their part children, so long as they are not also parents, can only reach backward; and with the genealogy, the farther back it reaches, the honor of the family increases ”(Hitzig).

Proverbs 17:7. High speech doth not become the fool. “A lip of excess, of prominence” plainly denotes an assuming, imperious style of speech,—not the “elevated, or soaring,” as Ewald, Elster, Umbreit claim; for the parallel “lip of deceit” in clause b indicates its sinful character.—How much less do lying lips the noble? “The noble,” the spirit of lofty dispositions (comp. Proverbs 17:26),—to whom deceitfulness, and crafty, sly artifices of speech are less becoming than to any other man,—stands contrasted with the “fool” just as in Isaiah 32:5 sq.

Proverbs 17:8. As a precious stone is a gift in the eyes of him that receiveth it. Lit, “a stone of. loveliness,” a costly stone, gemma gratissima (Vulg.); comp. Proverbs 1:9.—The “master” of the gift is here evidently not its giver (Elster, comp. Luther, and many of the older expositors), but he that receives it, he who is won by it; and the “gift” is here to be taken not in the bad sense, of bribery (as below in Proverbs 17:23), but rather of lawful presents; comp. Proverbs 18:16.—Whithersoever it turneth it maketh prosperous; i.e. to whomsoever it may come it will have a good result and secure for its giver supporters and friends. The expression conforms to the idea of the “precious stone” in clause a (although it is not the jewel, but the gift that is subject of the verb “turneth”). For a really beautiful and well-cut stone sparkles, whichever way one may turn it, and from whichever side one may view it; just so is it with the good result of a well-directed generosity, by which the hearts of all are necessarily won. A truth which naturally is to be taken quite in a relative and conditional sense.

Proverbs 17:9. He that covereth transgression seeketh after love, i.e. not “seeks to gain the love of others” but “seeks to exercise love, a truly charitable spirit” (so Hitzig with undoubted correctness, in opposition to Bertheau). [Bridges and M. also take this view, which commends itself both as the deepest and the most disinterested representation.—A.]. For the “covering transgression” comp. Proverbs 10:12, and the remarks on the passage.—But he that repeateth a matter separateth friends (see Proverbs 16:28). “Repeateth a matter” (שָׁנָה בְדָבָר) is not “to return with remarks” or “with a word” [i.e. to repeat] (Ewald, Bertheau, Elster, Fuerst, etc.), but “to come back with a matter,” [Gesen.] i.e. to be continually reverting to something, repeatedly to bring it up and show it forth, instead of letting it alone and covering it with the mantle of charity. This expression is different both from the Latin, “ad alios deferre, denuntiare” (Winer) and also from the Greek δευτεροῦν λόγον. Comp. furthermore Sir 19:6-10.

2.Proverbs 17:10-20. Admonitions to a peaceable spirit; warnings against a contentious and uncharitable disposition.—A reproof sinketh deeper into a wise man than a hundred stripes into a fool, (comp. Deuteronomy 25:3); lit., “than to smite the fool with a hundred.” With the meaning of the verse compare Sallust’s Jugurtha, c. Proverbs 11:0 : altius in pectus descendit, and the common phrase “to make a deeper impression.”

Proverbs 17:11. Clause a, see critical notes for the reasons for our departure from Zöckler’s rendering.—And a cruel messenger shall be sent after him, i.e. by God, against whom we are to regard the “rebellion” mentioned in clause a as directed. So the LXX and Vulg. rendered in their day, and among recent interpreters Bertheau, e.g.; for to think of a mere human messenger, as in Proverbs 16:14, is forbidden by the analogy of passages like Psalms 35:5-6; Psalms 78:49; Hitzig’s rendering, however, “and a cruel angel (a wild demon of passion, as it were), is let loose within him,” is altogether artificial, and rests upon modern conceptions that are quite foreign to the Old Testament; besides we ought probably to have found בְּקִרְבּוֹ “in the midst of him,” instead of בּוֹ.

Proverbs 17:12. Meet a bear robbed of her Whelps. The Infin. abs. here stands for the Imper. or Jussive; comp. Genesis 17:10; Deuteronomy 1:16; Jeremiah 2:2, etc. For the use of the epicene דֹּב for the she-bear comp. Hos 13:8; 2 Samuel 17:8.—The “fool in his folly” is naturally a fool who is peculiarly malignant, one who is in a very paroxysm of folly, and whose raving is more dangerous than the madness of a wild beast. Comp. Schiller: “Gefährlich ists den Leu zu wecken,” etc. [’Tis perilous to wake the lion].

Proverbs 17:13. With clause a compare 1 Samuel 25:21; with b, 2 Samuel 3:29.—“Evil” here in the sense of misfortune, the penalty for acts of injustice done the good.

Proverbs 17:14. As a breaking forth of waters is the beginning of strife [Zöckler: “he letteth forth waters,” etc. Z. also conceives of the latter part of the clause as meaning literally “who (lets loose) the beginning of strife;” in his view the participle is to be repeated before the word רֵאשִׁית“beginning.” The use of the verb פטר in the sense of “send forth, bring out” is confirmed by the Targum on Exodus 21:26. The participle cannot, however, in Z.’s view, be taken here in a neuter sense, as Ewald maintains (so Umbreit). Fuerst maintains the view of E. and U. and cites analogous forms of verbal nouns. We adopt it as justified by verbal analogies and simplifying the construction.—A.] Luther expresses the substantial idea thus: “He who begins strife is like him that tears away the dam from the waters.”—Before the strife poureth forth, cease! The meaning of the verb הִתְגַּלַּע which is best attested is here, as in Proverbs 18:1; Proverbs 20:3, “to roll forth.” Here, as in verse 8, the figurative conception employed in clause a influences the selection of the verb in b. The strife is conceived of as a flood which after its release rolls on irresistibly. Umbreit, Elster, etc., following the Chald. and Arabic, explain “before the strife becomes warm;” Hitzig (and Ewald also) “before the strife shows its teeth.” As though an altogether new figure could be so suddenly introduced here, whether it be that of a fire blazing up, or that of a lion showing his teeth! [As the word occurs but three times, and the cognate roots in the Hebrew and its sister languages are not decisive, the moral argument may well turn the scale; and this certainly favors the view in which Z. has the concurrence of Fuerst, Bertheau, Stuart, etc.—A.]

Proverbs 17:15. Comp.Proverbs 24:24; Isaiah 5:23.—An abomination to Jehovah are they both; lit., “an abhorrence of Jehovah are also they two;” comp. 2 Samuel 19:31, where גַּם, also, expresses as it does here the associating of a second with the one.

Proverbs 17:16. Why this price in the hand of a fool, etc. [While there is no essential disagreement among expositors in regard to the general meaning of the verse, they are divided as to the punctuation and the mutual relation of the clauses: The Hebrew points are not decisive. Z. agrees with the Vulg., E. V., H., S., etc. in making the sentence one complex interrogative sentence. De Dieu, Schultens, Van Ess, De Wette, Noyes, etc., make two interrogative clauses, followed by one affirmation. We have chosen the more equal division of the LXX.—A.] The getting or buying of wisdom is by no means a thing absolutely impossible, as appears from Proverbs 4:5, where express admonition is given to do this. But for earthly gold, for a price, it is not for sale, and especially not for the fool, who has no understanding. For the last clause, “and heart, understanding, is not, does not exist,” compare the substantially equivalent expression in Psalms 32:9; also Jeremiah 5:21, etc.

Proverbs 17:17. Compare Proverbs 18:24; also Sir 12:7.—But the brother is born of adversity. The ideas “friend” and “brother” are related the one as the climax of the other. The “friend,” the companion with whom one preserves a friendly intercourse cherishes a constant good-will toward his comrade; but it is only necessity that develops him further into a “brother,” as it gives the opportunity to attest his loving disposition by offerings of love, such as in truth only one brother makes for another. Comp. Ennius, in Cic. Læl. c. Proverbs 17:0 : Amicus certus in re incerta cernitur; and also the Arabic proverb (Sent. 53 in Erpenius Gramm.): “The friend one finds out not till one needs him.”—יִוָּלֵד “he is born,” as a new being, into the new conditions of the actual, brotherly relation. לְצָרָה must here mean “of adversity” (Hitzig, K.), not “in adversity” (Umbreit, N.), or “for adversity” (Ewald, Bertheau, Elster, De W., S., M., etc.). [The grammatical justification of Z.’s view is found mainly in the fact that לְ is ordinarily used when in a passive construction the efficient cause is to be expressed: see Gesen. Lehrgeb. § 221, Rod. Gesen. Heb. Gram. § 140. 2. Of course it may also denote the final cause.—A.]—For Proverbs 17:18 compare Proverbs 6:1-5; Proverbs 6:5.

Proverbs 17:19. With clause a compare James 1:20; with b, Proverbs 16:18.—Who buildeth high his doors; i.e. seeks to transform his simple residence into a proud and splendid edifice, but by that very process only hastens its “destruction” (lit., “shattering, downfall,” comp. the similar term in Proverbs 10:14, etc.). [Sharpe’s Texts of Bible explained, etc.: “Private houses were sometimes built ostentatiously with a lofty gateway which would naturally breed jealousy in the neighbors, and invite the visits of the tax-gatherer; and in a time when law was weak and property very unsafe, might easily lead to the ruin of its owner.”—A.] The sentiment is therefore directed against pride as the chief source of a quarrelsome spirit, and the most common cause of ruinous contention.

Proverbs 17:20. With clause a compare Proverbs 11:20; Proverbs 16:20.—He that wandereth with his tongue, i.e. speaks now this way, now that; therefore has a deceitful tongue, “a wayward tongue,” Proverbs 10:31 (comp. Proverbs 8:13).—Falleth into evil; see Proverbs 13:17. Observe the climax existing in the negative expression “no good” in a, and this “evil.”

3.Proverbs 17:21-28. Proverbs of various content, directed especially against want of sense, “and loquacity.—He that begetteth a fool doeth it to his own sorrow. Comp. Proverbs 10:1; Proverbs 18:13; and the converse of the thought here presented, Proverbs 23:24; also Proverbs 15:20.

Proverbs 17:22. A joyous heart promoteth health. See critical note. For the sentiment comp. Proverbs 15:13; with clause b in particular, Proverbs 3:8.

Proverbs 17:23. A gift from the bosom a wicked man will receive. “From the bosom,” i.e. secretly and stealthily; comp. Proverbs 21:14. The term “gift” is here used naturally of unlawful bribery.—With clause b compare Proverbs 18:5; Amos 2:7.

Proverbs 17:24. Before the face of the wise is wisdom. “Before the face,” here it would seem “very near” and therefore “close before the face” (Bertheau, Elster, etc.): or again with Ziegler, Hitzig, etc., the explanation may be in accordance with Deuteronomy 16:16, “Wisdom floats before the man of understanding, he has it in his eye” (comp. Proverbs 15:14).—But the eyes of the fool (range) to the end of the earth, i.e. “his mind is not on the subject, but roams in undefined, shadowy distance” (Hitzig); he thinks of many and various things, on every possible thing,—only not of the very thing that is needful and important; comp. Proverbs 4:25.

Proverbs 17:25. Comp. Proverbs 17:21; Proverbs 10:1.

Proverbs 17:26. Also to punish the righteous is not good, to smite the noble contrary to right. The also (גַּם) plainly gives prominence to the verb that immediately follows, and this verb should be allowed to retain its ordinary signification, “to punish with a fine, to impose a pecuniary fine” (comp. Proverbs 22:3). The fine as a comparatively light penalty, which may easily at one time or another fall with a certain justice even on a “just” man (e.g. when he from inadvertence has in some way injured the property of another), stands contrasted with the much severer punishment with stripes; and as these two verbal ideas are related, so are also the predicates “not good” (comp. Proverbs 17:20), and “contrary to right” (above desert, beyond all proportion to the just and reasonable), in the relation of a climax. On the other hand the “righteous” and the “noble” (as in Proverbs 17:7) are essentially persons of the same class. The proverb, which evidently contains an admonition to mild and reasonable treatment of upright men, or a warning against the inhuman enforcement of penal laws upon active and meritorious citizens, has been in many ways misunderstood and falsely applied; and this is true of most of the recent expositors with the exception of Umbreit, who alone interprets with entire correctness. (Bertheau and Elster are also essentially right, except that they do not take the עַל־ישֶׁר “contrary to right” as the predicate, but are disposed to connect it by way of more exact definition with the phrase “to smite the noble”). [The LXX, Vulg., followed by the E.V., W., M., H., N., render “for their equity.” S. and K. agree with Z., both in the meaning and the predicative construction.—A.]

Proverbs 17:27. With a comp. Proverbs 10:19.—And he that is of a quiet temper. Comp. the opposite of the “coolness of spirit” here intended (i.e. cautious, moderate, quietly considerate deportment); Psalms 39:3 (4).

Proverbs 17:28. Comp. Job 13:5; Proverbs 10:19, etc.


The introductory verse with its commendation of contentment and a peaceable spirit at the same time, or of contentment as the source and basis of a peaceable disposition and conduct, may be regarded as a prefatory announcement of the main subject of the chapter. Contentment in furthermore commended (at least indirectly) in Proverbs 17:2; Proverbs 17:5; Proverbs 17:8; Proverbs 17:16; Proverbs 17:19; Proverbs 17:22-24; a peaceable and forbearing disposition in Proverbs 17:4; Proverbs 17:9-15; Proverbs 17:17; Proverbs 17:19-20; Proverbs 17:26.—The summons which comes out in the opening verses, 1–9, to combine with contentment the appropriate restraint and regulation of the tongue,—or to be abstemious not merely with the mouth but with the tongue (by truthfulness and gentleness in speech, and by a taciturn disposition, Proverbs 17:28),—recurs again in the last two verses. It may therefore to a certain extent be regarded as in general the fundamental idea of the entire section. In the asceticism of the early Church and of the monasticism of the middle ages, this idea that there must be an inward organic coexistence of bodily and spiritual fasting, or that one should bring the tongue under a serious and strict discipline, as the organ not merely of taste, but also of speech, found as is well known only too prolific practical appreciation. For, appealing to the supposed model of Christ’s forty days of fasting in the wilderness, men added to the injunctions of fasting unnaturally strict prescriptions of silence in many forms (see my “Critical History of Asceticism,” pp. 297 sq.). Apart from these extravagances and exaggerations, the organic connection, and living reciprocity of influence between the activity of the tongue as an organ of taste and an organ of speech, such as exists in every man, is a matter deserving distinct recognition; and sins of the tongue in both directions must be with all earnestness shunned, and together subdued and destroyed (comp. James 3:22).

Other ethical sentiments of special value and compass are found in ver Proverbs 4:0 : the heavy guilt not only of the tempter, but also of the tempted, who, on account of his inward corruption and vileness, gives a ready hearing to the evil solicitations of the former; comp. James 1:14 sq.

Proverbs 17:6. The blessing of a consecrated domestic life, as it shows itself in both the parents and their posterity, in their mutual relations and demeanor. The opposite of this appears in Proverbs 17:21; Proverbs 17:25.

Proverbs 17:16. The pricelessness of true wisdom, and the worthlessness of earthly possessions and treasures in the hand of a fool.

Proverbs 17:17. The great worth of a true friend in time of need.

Proverbs 17:26. The necessity of a mild, considerate bearing on the part of persons in judicial and magisterial station, toward deserving citizens of the state, in cases where they have perchance gone astray or come short of duty. Comp. the exegetical remarks on this passage.

[Lawson, Proverbs 17:4 : “Wicked men have a great treasure of evil in their hearts, and yet have not enough to satisfy their own corrupt dispositions.

Proverbs 17:15. Justifying the wicked has an appearance of mercy in it, but there is cruelty to millions in unreasonable acts of mercy to individuals.—Ministers are guilty of the sin of condemning the righteous when they preach doctrines uuscripturally rigid, making those things to be sinful which are not condemned in the word of God, or carrying the marks necessary to discover grace to a pitch too high to suit the generality of true Christians, or applying to particular persons those terrors that do not justly belong to them. Such was the fault of Job’s friends.”]


Homily on the entire chapter: A peaceable spirit and contentment as the sum of all wisdom; its opposite (contentiousness and foolish aspiring after things that are high, see especially Proverbs 17:19) as the source of all failure in things temporal as well as spiritual.—Stöcker: Of true temperance in controlling all unseasonable debate and strife; 1) the causes of these last (Proverbs 17:4-13); 2) the most important means of averting them (Proverbs 17:14-19); 3) the serious injuries and disadvantages which grow out of them (Proverbs 17:20-28).

Proverbs 17:1-8. Hasius (on Proverbs 17:2): To attain to power and influence in this world more depends on understanding and prudence than on birth and outward advantages.—Lange (on Proverbs 17:3): All human investigations and theories concerning the interior world of thought in man are inconclusive and deceptive. The searching of the heart of man is one of the kingly prerogatives of God.—[Trapp (on Proverbs 17:3): God tries us that He may make us know what is in us, what dross, what pure metal; and all may see that we are such as, for a need, can “glorify Him in the very fires” (Isaiah 24:15).—Bridges (on Proverbs 17:4): The listening ears share the responsibility of the naughty tongue.]—Zeltner (on Proverbs 17:4): According as the heart and disposition of a man are moulded, he delights either in good or in evil discourse.—Wohlfarth (on Proverbs 17:7): Force not thyself above, degrade not thyself below thy condition.—Von Gerlach (on Proverbs 17:7): The outward and the inward must always be in harmony, else a distorted and repulsive display results. As the fool cannot fitly speak of high things, so senseless must a falsehood appear to the noble.—Lange (on Proverbs 17:8): Though one may effect much with an unjust judge by presents, how much better will it be if thou bringest thine heart to the Lord thy God as a gift and offering!

Proverbs 17:9-15. [Lord Bacon (on Proverbs 17:9): There are two ways of making peace and reconciling differences; the one begins with amnesty, the other with a recital of injuries, combined with apologies and excuses. Now I remember that it was the opinion of a very wise man and a great politician, that “he who negotiates a peace, without recapitulating the grounds of difference, rather deludes the minds of the parties by representing the sweetness of concord, than reconciles them by equitable adjustment.” But Solomon, a wiser man than he, is of a contrary opinion, approving of amnesty and forbidding recapitulation of the past. For in it are these disadvantages; it is as the chafing of a sore; it creates the risk of a new quarrel (for the parties will never agree as to the proportions of injuries on either side); and, lastly, it brings it to a matter of apologies; whereas either party would rather be thought to have forgiven an injury than to have accepted an excuse.]—Melanchthon (on Proverbs 17:9-12): As the monitor must show sincerity and love of truth, and guard against a slanderous love of censure, so in him who is admonished, there is becoming a readiness to be instructed, and both must keep themselves free from φιλονεικία, from an ambitious quarrelsomeness.—Cramer (on Proverbs 17:10): To him who is of a noble sort words of rebuke are more grievous than blows, and he yields to the discipline of mere words.—Starke (on Proverbs 17:13): If God sharply punishes ingratitude, from this it is also evident how dear to Him, on the other hand, thankfulness must be.—(On Proverbs 17:14): From a little spark a great fire may arise (James 3:5); but he who buries in the ashes the kindling contention may thereby avert a great disaster.—[Trapp (on Proverbs 17:10): The fool is beaten, but not bent to goodness; amerced but not amended.—(On Proverbs 17:13): To render good for evil is Divine, good for good is human, evil for evil is brutish, evil for good is devilish.—Bridges (on Proverbs 17:15): If God justifies the wicked, it is on account of righteousness. If he condemn the just, it is on the imputation of unrighteousness. Nowhere throughout the universe do the moral perfections of the Governor of the world shine so gloriously as at the Cross of Calvary.]

Proverbs 17:16-22. Zeltner (on Proverbs 17:17): The most reliable and faithful friend, on whom one may depend most confidently in the very time of need, is the Lord Jesus. Strive for His friendship above all things, and thou hast treasure enough!—[Arnot (on Proverbs 17:17): In the Scriptures we learn where the fountain of true friendship lies, what is its nature, why its flow is impeded now, and when it shall be all over like the waves of the sea. Our best friendship is due to our best friend. He deserves it and desires it. The heart of the man Christ Jesus yearns for the reciprocated love of saved men, and grieves when it is not given.].—Starke (on Proverbs 17:19): He who first leaves room for one sin falls afterward into many others.—Contention and pride are almost always sisters, and of a most destructive sort.—Von Gerlach (on Proverbs 17:22): The heart, the fountain of life, works to bless the whole of man’s condition when it is really sound, i.e., when the grace of Jesus Christ has healed and renewed it.—[Trapp (on Proverbs 17:22): When faith hath once healed the conscience, and grace hath hushed the affection, and composed all within, so that there is a Sabbath of spirit, and a blessed tranquility lodged in the soul; then the body also is vigorous and vigetous, for most part in very good plight, and healthful constitution, which makes man’s life very comfortable.—Bridges (on Proverbs 17:22): Liveliness needs a guard lest it should degenerate into levity; a grave temperament lest it should sink into morbid depression. Christian principle on both sides is the principle of enlarged happiness and steady consistency.]

Proverbs 17:23-28. Starke (on Proverbs 17:24): The more one gapes after vanity, the more foolish does the heart become.—(On Proverbs 17:25): A wise father has indeed now and then a foolish son; if he has not himself perchance deserved this, by neglect in education, let him bear his cross with patience.—(On Proverbs 17:26): He sins doubly who declares evil good, and besides visits the goodness of a righteous man with penalties.—Berleburg Bible (on Proverbs 17:27-28): It is better to say nothing than foolish things.—Von Gerlach (on Proverbs 17:28): By silence a fool abates something of his senselessness, and since he gets the opportunity to collect himself and to reflect, a beginning of wisdom is developed in him.

Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Proverbs 17". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/proverbs-17.html. 1857-84.
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