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Thursday, May 30th, 2024
the Week of Proper 3 / Ordinary 8
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Bible Commentaries
Proverbs 17

Sermon Bible CommentarySermon Bible Commentary

Verse 15

Proverbs 17:15

These words may serve to show us that our estimate of other men is a matter of very solemn responsibility in God's sight.

I. I will first insist on the general duty of conscientiousness in forming all our estimates of other men. We Christians are not driving on with the world, trampling down or lifting up other men as suits our purpose. We have a higher, a nobler work to do by others, even to uplift that standard of right and wrong of praise and blame, which reflects the purity and holiness of Him whom we serve. It should be our aim not to follow public opinion in such estimates, but to act for ourselves and for God.

II. "He that justifieth the wicked is an abomination to the Lord." Unholy and unprincipled life, wherever found, ought to be protested against by the servants of God. Here is their line of demarcation, and surely it is plain enough. Yet do we not constantly see it overstepped? Is it not constantly found that men, who would make a brother an offender for a word, whatever might be his usefulness and high Christian example, will at the same time condone the grossest moral faults, and even make idols of men who are the avowed enemies of Him whom they serve?

III. "He that condemneth the just." Here undoubtedly our fault is much more common, much more recklessly committed. We are always more prone to condemn than to justify. It is an abuse of our instinct of self-preservation to be ever ready with our hostility to other men. Notice a few ways in which we may, with God's help, guard against this prevailing tendency of our day. (1) Look ever at the life, which is palpable, rather than at the motive of the creed, which is usually mere matter of surmise. (2) Avoid, and refuse to use, and protest against the use of, all party names. (3) Form your opinions of others, not at the prompting of the world, but as under the eye of God.

H. Alford, Quebec Chapel Sermons, vol. vii., p. 67.

References: Proverbs 17:16-20 . R. Wardlaw, Lectures on Proverbs, vol. ii., p. 147. Proverbs 17:17 . Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xv., No. 899; W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven, 2nd series, p. 116; New Manual of Sunday School Addresses, p. 240. Proverbs 17:21-28 . R. Wardlaw, Lectures on Proverbs, vol. ii., p. 158.

Verse 20

Proverbs 17:20

Two bad things are reproved in these words: the first is a bad spirit, and the second is a bad habit; the first is the sullen, snarling spirit of discontent, which kills all hearty, genial gaiety; the second is the vicious habit of unbridled flippant talk, which goes far to destroy all cheerful, loving fellowship.

I. Of all the faults of our time, none is more glaring than this frowardness of heart which Solomon denounces in our text. We are all critics, and all fancy we have a right to have an opinion on all things. The vice of the age is a spirit of detraction. Such a spirit, says Solomon, findeth no good.

II. The captious man is never the loving one, and the unloving man can never be like Christ. He came among us not to excite us to a restless watching for evil, but to remind us that there was redemption promised from the evil, and to work out that redemption for us.

III. Remember that, the more stupid and dull we are, the more difficulties do we find; and the more we depart from virtue, the keener is our scent for vice. The man that is always looking out for what is wrong will gradually lose his interest in that which is perfect, till all that is simply pure and gentle and true and lovely will appear to him tame and insipid. The froward heart, which is always on the watch for faults and failure, goes on to require these things as its very daily food, and at last waxes frantic when there is no fault to find.

A. Jessopp, Norwich School Sermons, p. 210.

Verse 22

Proverbs 17:22

I. Consider the power which the mind can exert in support of the body, so long as itself is in good case. If it be true that the spirit of man has a medicinal power, that there is a strength in his nature which endows him with such control over the body that he can give it up to the worst tortures, and yet betray no fear, then it must be quite idle to argue that he possesses no power by which to keep passions in check, and to make a bold stand against the cravings of unrighteousness. We want no better argument by which to prove to man that there is a strength in his nature for offering resistance to evil, a strength for which he shall give account at the judgment, than that which we fetch from the fact that there is a strength for sustaining infirmity.

II. Consider how, if the mind itself be disordered, it will break down the body "A broken spirit drieth the bones." We take the statement of Solomon to be that, though there is a strength in man through which he can bear up against physical pressure, there is comparatively none for the sustaining of mental. We will admit that under certain limitations men may endure mental pain as well as bodily. It is a fine argument for the immortality of the soul, for the certainty of her soaring above the wreck of matter, that, however she be assailed by pain, so long as the pain is unconnected with her everlasting destinies, she never fails, so to speak, as to pass beyond the hope of recovery. We believe that a truly broken spirit is that which is bruised with a sense of sin, and if this be a broken spirit, how true that "a broken spirit drieth the bones." Yet though a man may have been forced to say with Job, "The arrows of the Almighty are within me, the poison whereof drinketh up my spirit; the terrors of God do set themselves in array against me," he will have passed speedily on to the beholding Jesus dying, "the just for the unjust," to the viewing in Him the propitiation for sin, and the "Advocate with the Father."

H. Melvill, Penny Pulpit, No. 1896.

References: Proverbs 17:22 . S. Cox, An Expositor's Notebook, p. 161; H. Melvill, Voices of the Year, vol. ii., p. 321.Proverbs 17:26 . J. H. Hitchens, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xx., p. 219. Proverbs 18:1-8 . R. Wardlaw, Lectures on Proverbs, vol. ii., p. 169. Proverbs 18:9-14 . Ibid., p. 180.

Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Proverbs 17". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/sbc/proverbs-17.html.
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