Proverbs 15:1. A soft answer turneth away wrath— Lord Bacon applies this aphorism particularly to a man's behaviour towards a prince or other great person, when he is angry with him. Solomon advises two things in this case; the one is, that an answer be made; the other, that it be soft; the first of which contains three precepts; first, that you beware of a sad and sullen silence, which either charges the fault wholly upon yourselves, or impeaches your master of injustice; as if his ears were not open to a just defence. Secondly, that you beware of delaying the answer, and of craving a longer time for your defence; because that plainly betrays you to be devising some cunning and counterfeit apology. Thirdly, that by all means an answer be made; an answer, I say, not a mere confession or submission; but with some sprinklings of excuse thrown in here and there [as far as truth will admit of it]; for it is not safe to bear yourself otherwise, unless you have to deal with very generous and noble dispositions, which are rare. But then this answer must be very soft and temperate, not harsh and peremptory; for that will make the business worse than if it had never been meddled with at all: and increase that wrath which you should study to appease [but always with truth on your side]. See Adv. of Learning, book 8: chap. 2.
Proverbs 15:4. A wholesome tongue is a tree of life— A wholesome tongue, or a tongue which heals, or the health of the tongue, is a tree of life, but when it is perverse it breaks the spirit; or, the perversity, the corruption of the tongue, is the death of the spirit. A tongue which instructs, which consoles, which pacifies, in a word, a tongue which brings health to the spirit and the heart, is truly a tree of life. But a corrupted, lying, abusive, perverse tongue brings death to the soul; afflicts, irritates, corrupts. The LXX render it, The health of the tongue is a tree of life, and he that keepeth it shall be filled with the spirit. Schultens and others would render the Hebrew, "The medicine of the tongue is a tree of life; but the offence, or corruption of it, is as an impetuous wind which bursteth through and overturneth all things." See his note, and Calmet.
Proverbs 15:7. The lips of the wise disperse knowledge— The lips of the wise keep knowledge; not so the heart of fools. Houbigant.
Proverbs 15:8. The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination— Melancthon thinks that this is a caution against resting in ceremonious worship, without holiness and moral virtue. See his Treatise concerning the Method of Preaching.
Proverbs 15:15. He that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast— A mind conscious of good intentions, though success be wanting, affords truer and purer joy, than all that this world can furnish a man with, either for the enjoyment of his desires, or the repose of his mind. Lord Bacon.
Proverbs 15:17. Better is a dinner of herbs— They eat very little meat in the east in comparison with what we do: bread, dibbs, leban, butter, rice, and a very little mutton, make the chief of their food in the winter, says Dr. Russel, speaking of the common people of Aleppo; as rice, bread, cheese, and fruit, do in the summer. Dr. Shaw gives a like account of the abstemiousness of the Arabs. This sparingness is occasioned, not by animal food being disagreeable to them, but by the straitness of their circumstances. The Arabs abound in cattle; but, being forced to draw all the other conveniencies of life from the profit they make of them, they kill very few for their own use. The Israelites were in much the same situation; great strangers to trade and manufactures; their patrimony but small, as they were so numerous; and therefore Solomon might with great propriety describe a ruinously expensive way of living by their frequent eating of flesh, chap. Proverbs 23:20 which in our country would be expressed in a very different manner. A dinner, however, on herbs alone is not what the ordinary people of Aleppo are obliged to content themselves with, sparing as their way of living is; a thought which may serve to illustrate the present passage, where the contrast between the repasts of the rich and the poor is designed to be strongly marked. See Observations, p. 181 and the ingenious Mr. Seed's Sermon on this text, vol. 1: serm. 3. Stalled oxen, or oxen fatted in a stall, were looked upon as the highest entertainment. It is not unworthy of remark, that Homer never sets any other repast than this before his heroes.
Proverbs 15:23. A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth— The meaning is, according to Grotius, "Every one may pique himself on account of his speeches; but those are truly well spoken which are spoken in season." Agreeably to this interpretation, Houbigant renders it, Every one applauds himself in that which he hath once spoken; but how much more excellent is a word in season!
Proverbs 15:24. The way of life is above to the wise— Or, The way of life to the wise is above.
Proverbs 15:30. The light of the eyes rejoiceth the heart— The light of the eyes refresheth the mind; a good report the marrow of the bones. Houbigant. In the same manner that the sensible light rejoices a sound eye, and diffuses its pleasure through the whole soul, a good reputation gives pleasure, and contributes to the health of the body. The wise man frequently advises his disciple for a good reputation. He often proposes to him human motives to incline him to virtue and his own good. But it is grace alone which raises the soul to more elevated sentiments, and to the most pure and sacred motives. See chap. Proverbs 10:7, Proverbs 22:1 and Calmet.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Proverbs 15". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany