corner graphic   Hi,    
ver. 2.0.19.11.17
Finding the new version too difficult to understand? Go to classic.studylight.org/

Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
Proverbs 17

 

 

Verse 1

Proverbs 17:1 Better [is] a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, than an house full of sacrifices [with] strife.

Ver. 1. Better is a dry morsel and quietness therewith.] Though there be not so much as a little vinegar to dip in. [Proverbs 14:17] {See Trapp on "Proverbs 14:17"} The Hebrew word properly signifies a morsel of bread, as Rabbi Elias tells us. So, then, better is a crust of coarse bread without any other dainties or dishes - never so little, with love and peace - than a houseful of sacrifices; that is, of good cheer, usual at offering up of sacrifices. [Proverbs 7:14] And hereunto Saint James seems to allude in Proverbs 5:5.


Verse 2

Proverbs 17:2 A wise servant shall have rule over a son that causeth shame, and shall have part of the inheritance among the brethren.

Ver. 2. A wise servant shall have rule over a son, &c.] God hath a very gracious respect unto faithful servants, and hath promised them "the reward of inheritance," [Colossians 3:24] which properly belongs to sons. This happens sometimes here, as to Joseph, Joshua, those subjects that married Solomon’s daughters; [1 Kings 4:10; 1 Kings 4:14] but infallibly hereafter, when "they shall come from east and west to sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven," and to "enter into their Master’s joy," "but the children of the kingdom shall be cast out." [Matthew 8:11-12]


Verse 3

Proverbs 17:3 The fining pot [is] for silver, and the furnace for gold: but the LORD trieth the hearts.

Ver. 3. The fining pot is for silver, &c.] God also hath his "fire in Zion, and his furnace in Jerusalem"; [Isaiah 31:9] his conflatories and his crucibles wherein he will refine his, "as silver is refined, and try them as gold is tried." [Zechariah 13:9] Not as if he knew them not, till he had tried them; for he made them, and therefore cannot but know them; as artificers know the several parts and properties of their works. Sed tentat ut sciat, id est, ut scire nos faciat, saith Augustine. He therefore tries us, that he may make us know what is in us, what dross, what pure metal; and that all may see that we are such as, for a need, can "glorify him in the very fires," [Isaiah 24:15] "that the trial of our faith being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though tried in the fire, may be found to praise, and honour, and glory." [1 Peter 1:7]


Verse 4

Proverbs 17:4 A wicked doer giveth heed to false lips; [and] a liar giveth ear to a naughty tongue.

Ver. 4. A wicked doer giveth heed to false lips.] It is an ill sign of a vicious nature to be apt to believe scandalous reports of godly men. If men loved not lies, they wonld not listen to them. Some are of the opinion that Solomon having said, "God trieth the hearts," doth in this and the two next following verses instance some particular sins so accounted by God, which yet pass among men for no sins, or peccadilloes at the utmost, seeing no man seems to receive wrong by them - such as these are, to listen to lying lips, to mock the poor, to rejoice at another man’s calamity, and the like. Lo, they that do thus, though to themselves and others they may seem to have done nothing amiss, yet God that tries the hearts will call them to account for these malicious miscarriages.


Verse 5

Proverbs 17:5 Whoso mocketh the poor reproacheth his Maker: [and] he that is glad at calamities shall not be unpunished.

Ver. 5. He that mocketh the poor, &c.] {See Trapp on "Proverbs 14:31"}

And he that is glad at calamities, shall not be unpunished.] He is sick with the devil’s disease, επιχαιρεκακια, which Job was not tainted with; [Job 31:16-40] as the Edomites, Ammonites, Philistines, and other of Sion’s enemies [Lamentations 1:21] were. How bitterly did the Jews insult our Saviour, when they had nailed him to the cross! And in like sort they served many of the martyrs, worrying them when they were down, as dogs do other creatures; and shooting sharp arrows at them when they had set them up for marks of their malice and mischief. Herein they deal equally barbarous manner with the saints, as the Turks did with one John de Chabes, a Frenchman, at the taking of Tripolis in Barbary. They cut off his hands and nose, and then, when they had put him quick into the ground to the waist, they, for their pleasure, shot at him with their arrows, and afterwards cut his throat. (a) Mr John Denly, martyr, (b) being set in the fire with the burniug flame about him, sang a psalm; then cruel Doctor Story commanded one of the tormentors to hurl a faggot at him; whereupon, being hurt therewith upon the face, that he bled again, he left his singing, and clapped both his hands upon his face. ‘Truly,’ said Doctor Story to him that hurled the faggot, ‘thou hast marred a good old song.’ This Story being, after the coming in of Queen Elizabeth, questioned in parliament for many foul crimes, and particularly for persecuting and burning the martyrs, he denied not but that he was once at the burning of a herewig, for so he termed it, at Uxbridge, where he cast a faggot at his face as he was singing psalms, and set a wine bush of thorns under his feet a little to prick him, &c. (c) This wretch was afterwards hanged, drawn, and quartered, (d) and so this proverb was fulfilled of him, "He that is glad at calamities, shall not be unpunished."


Verse 6

Proverbs 17:6 Children’s children [are] the crown of old men; and the glory of children [are] their fathers.

Ver. 6. Children’s children are the crown of old men.] That is, if they be not children those who "cause shame," as Proverbs 17:2, and who disgrace their ancestors - stain their blood; if they obey their parents’ counsel and follow their good example; for otherwise they prove not crowns, but corrosives, to their aged sires, as did Esau, Absalom, Andronicus, and others.

And the glory of children are their parents.] If those children so well descended do not degenerate, as Jonathan the son of Gershom, the son of Manasseh - or rather of Moses, as the Hebrews read it with a nun suspensum [ 18:31] - and as Eli’s, Samuel’s, and some of David’s sons did. Heroum filii noxae. Manasseh had a good father, but he degenerated into his grandfather Ahaz, as if there had been no intervention of a Hezekiah. So we have seen the kernel of a well-fruited plant degenerate into that crab or willow that gave the original to his stock. But what an honour was it to Jacob that he could swear "by the fear of his father Isaac!" - to David, that he could, in a real and heavenly compliment, say to his Maker, "Truly, Lord, I am thy servant; I am thy servant, and the son of thy handmaid!" [Psalms 116:16] - to Timothy, that the same faith that was in him had dwelt first "in his grandmother Lois, and his mother Eunice!" [2 Timothy 1:5] - to the children of the elect lady! &c. - to Mark, that he was Barnabas’s sister’s son! - to Alexander and Rufus, men mentioned only, Mark 15:21, but famously known in the Church to be the sons of Simon of Cyrene! - to the sons of Constantine the Great, to come of such a father, whom they did wholly put on, saith Eusebius, (a) and exactly resemble! - to be descended of those glorious martyrs and confessors that suffered here in Queen Mary’s days!


Verse 7

Proverbs 17:7 Excellent speech becometh not a fool: much less do lying lips a prince.

Ver. 7. Excellent speech becometh not a fool.] A Nabal, a sapless, worthless fellow, in whom all worth is withered and decayed, - qui nullas habet dicendi vires, as Cicero hath it, that can say no good except it be by rote, or at least by book, - what should he do discoursing of high points? God likes not fair words from a foul mouth. Christ silenced the devil when he confessed him to be the Son of the most high God. The leper’s lips should be covered, according to the law. The Lacedemonians, when a bad man had uttered a good speech in their council house, liking the speech but not the speaker, commanded one of better carriage to give the same counsel, and then they made use of it. (a) The people of Rome sware they would not believe Carbo though he sware. (b)

Much less do lying lips a prince.] Or any ingenuous man, as some render it. A prince’s bare word should be better security than another man’s oath, said Alphonsns, King of Arragon. When Amurath, the great Turk, was exhorted by his cruel son, Mohammed, to break his faith with the inhabitants of Sfetigrade, in Epirus, he would not listen, saying, "That he which was desirous to be great among men, must either be indeed faithful of his word and promise, or at least seem to be so." (c) - thereby to gain the minds of the people, who naturally abhor the government of a faithless and cruel prince. What a foul blur was that to Christian religion, that Ladislaus King of Hungary should, by the persuasion of the Pope’s envoy, break his oath given to this Amurath at the great battle of Varna, and thereby open the mouth of that dead dog to rail upon Jesus Christ! (d) And how will the Papists ever be able to wipe off from their religion that stain that lies upon it ever since the Emperor Sigismund, by the consent and advice of the Council of Constance, brake his promise of safe conduct to John Huss and Jerome of Prague, and burnt them! But they have a rule to walk by now, Fides cum haereticis non est servanda: Promises made to heretics are not to be observed. And it is for merchants, say they, and not for princes, to stand to their oaths, any further than may stand with the public good. This divinity they may seem to have drawn out of Plato, who, in his third Dialogue of the Commonwealth, saith, That if it be lawful for any one to lie, it may be lawful doubtless for princes and governors, that aim therein at the public welfare. But God, by the mouth of his servant and secretary, Solomon, here assures us it is otherwise.


Verse 8

Proverbs 17:8 A gift [is as] a precious stone in the eyes of him that hath it: whithersoever it turneth, it prospereth.

Ver. 8. A gift is as a precious stone, &c.] Heb., As a stone of grace. Like that precious stone tantarbe, spoken of in Philostratus, (a) that hath a marvellous conciliating property; or the wonderworking lodestone, that among other strange effects reckoned up by Marbodeus and Pictorius, doth possessores suos disertos et principibus gratos reddere, make those that have it well-spoken men, and well accepted by princes.

Whithersoever it turneth, it prospereth.] Most men are δωροφαγοι, and "love with shame, Give ye." Yet some Persian-like spirits there are - as hath been made good before by the examples of Luther, Galeabrius, and some others - that regard not silver; and as for gold, in such a way, they have no delight in it. [Isaiah 13:17] But these are black swans indeed. The most sing, Quis nisi mentis inops oblatum respuat aurum? Who but a fool would refuse offered gold?


Verse 9

Proverbs 17:9 He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth [very] friends.

Ver. 9. He that covereth a transgression, seeketh love.] In friendship, faults will happen. These must be many of them dissembled, and not chewed but swallowed down whole as medicine pills, for else they will stick in a man’s teeth and prove very unpleasant. {See Trapp on "Proverbs 10:12"}

But he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends.] He that is so soft and sensible of smallest offences, so tender and ticklish that he can put up nothing without revenge or reparation - he that rips up and rakes into his friends’ frailties, and makes them more in the relating, having never done with them, he shall soon make his best friends weary of him, nay, to become enemies to him.


Verse 10

Proverbs 17:10 A reproof entereth more into a wise man than an hundred stripes into a fool.

Ver. 10. A reproof entereth more into a wise man, &c.] A word to the wise is sufficient. A look from Christ brake Peter’s heart, and dissolved it into tears. Augustus being in a great rage, ready to pass sentence of death upon many, was taken off by these words of his friend Maecenas, written in a note, and cast into his lap, Tandem aliquando surge carnifex. Pray rise at last executioner! (a) When Luther was once in a great heat, Melanchthon cooled him and qualified him by repeating that verse, Vince animos iramque tuam, qui caetera vincis: (b) Master your passions, you that so easily master all things else.

Than an hundred stripes into a fool.] Hic enim plectitur, sed non flectitur; corripitur, sod non corrigitur: Beaten he is, but not bent to goodness; amerced, but not amended. The cypress, the more it is watered, the more it is withered. Ahaz was the worse for his afflictions; so was the railing thief. Jeroboam’s withered hand works nothing upon his heart. He had herein as great a miracle wrought before him, saith a reverend man, (c) as St Paul had at his conversion, yet was he not wrought upon, because the Spirit did not set it on.


Verse 11

Proverbs 17:11 An evil [man] seeketh only rebellion: therefore a cruel messenger shall be sent against him.

Ver. 11. An evil man seeketh only rebellion.] Viz., How to gainstand and mischief those that by words or stripes seek to reclaim him. Some read it thus, ‘The rebellious seeketh mischief only’; he is set upon sin, he shall be sure of punishment. No warnings will serve obdurate hearts. Wicked men are even ambitious of destruction. Judgments need not go to find them out; they run to meet their bane - they seek it, and as it were send for it. But this they need not do, "for a cruel messenger shall be sent against him." God hath forces enough at hand to fetch in his rebels - viz., good and evil angels, stars, meteors, elements - other creatures, reasonable, unreasonable, insensible. The stones in the wall of Aphek shall sooner turn executioners than a rebellious Aramite shall escape unrevenged; not to speak of hell torments prepared for the devil and his angels, and by them to be inflicted on rebels and reprobates.


Verse 12

Proverbs 17:12 Let a bear robbed of her whelps meet a man, rather than a fool in his folly.

Ver. 12. Let a bear robbed of her whelps meet a man.] A bear is a fierce and fell creature, the she ear especially, as Aristotle notes, but most of all when robbed of her whelps, which she licketh into form, and loveth without measure. To meet her in this rage is to meet death in the face; and yet that danger may be sooner shifted and shunned than a furious fool set upon mischief. Such were the primitive persecutors, not sparing those Christians whom bears and lions would not meddle with. Such a one was our bloody Bonner, who in five years’ time took and roasted three hundred martyrs, most of them within his own walk and diocese. (a) Such another was that merciless Minerius, one of the Pope’s captains, who destroyed twenty-two towns of the innocent Merindelians in France, together with the inhabitants; and being entreated for some few of them that escaped in their shirts to cover their nakedness, he sternly answered that he knew what he had to do, and that not one of them should escape his hands, but he would send them to hell to dwell among devils. (b)


Verse 13

Proverbs 17:13 Whoso rewardeth evil for good, evil shall not depart from his house.

Ver. 13. Whoso rewardeth evil for good, &c.] Ingratitude is a monster in nature, and doth therefore carry so much more detestation, as it is more odious even to themselves that have blotted out the image of God. (a) Some vices are such as nature smiles upon, though frowned at by divine justice; not so this. Lycurgus would make no law against it, because he thought none could be so absurd as to fall into it. Among the Athenians there was an action, αποστασιου, of a master against a servant ungrateful for his manumission, not doing his duty to his late master: such were again to be made bond-slaves. (b) Who can choose but abhor that abominable act of Michael Balbus, who that night that his prince (Leo Armenius) had pardoned and released him, got out and slew him? (c) And that of Muleasses, king of Tunis, who cruelly tortured to death the manifet and mesner, by whose means especially he had aspired to the kingdom; grieving to see them live to whom he was so much beholden. (d) And that of Dr Watson, bishop of Lincoln in Queen Mary’s days, who, being with Bonnet at the examination of Mr Rough, martyr (a man that had been a means to save Watson’s life in the days of King Edward VI), to requite him that good turn, detected him there to be a pernicious heretic, who did more harm in the northern parts than a hundred more of his opinion. (e) Whereunto may be added that of William Parry, who having been for burglary condemned to die, was saved by Queen Elizabeth’s pardon; but he (ungrateful wretch) sought to requite her by vowing her death, anno dom. 1584. (f) To render good for evil is divine, good for good is human, evil for evil is brutish, evil for good is devilish.

Evil shall not depart from his house,] i.e., From his person and posterity, though haply he may escape the lash of man’s law for such an abhorred villany. See this fulfilled in Saul’s family, for his unworthy dealing with David; in Muleasses, and many others. Jeremiah, in a spirit of prophecy, bitterly curseth such, and foretelleth the utter ruin of them and theirs, [Proverbs 18:20-21, &c.} "Shall evil be recompensed for good?" saith he. "Therefore deliver up their children to the famine, and let their wives be widows. Let a cry be heard from their houses," &c. {Jeremiah 18:20-22]


Verse 14

Proverbs 17:14 The beginning of strife [is as] when one letteth out water: therefore leave off contention, before it be meddled with.

Ver. 14. The beginning of strife is as when one lets out water.] It is easier to stir strife than stint it. Lis litem generat; as water, it is of a spreading nature. Do therefore here as the Dutchmen do by their banks; they keep them with little cost and trouble, because they look narrowly to them, and make them up in time. If there be but the least breach, they stop it presently, otherwise the sea would soon flood them.

“Fertur in arva furens cumulo, camposque per omnes

Cum stabulis armenta trahit.” - Virgil, Aeneid.

The same may fitly be set forth also by a similitude from fire; which if quenched presently, little hurt is done; as if not, "Behold how great a wood a little fire kindleth," saith Saint James. [Proverbs 3:5] If "fire break out but of a bramble, it will devour the cedars of Lebanon." [ 9:15] Cover therefore the fire of contention, as William the Conqueror commanded the curfew bell.

Therefore leave off contention before it be meddled with.] Antequam commisceatur. Stop or step back, before it come to further trouble. Satius est recurrere quam male currere, better retire than run on, in those ignoble quarrels especially, ubi et vincere inglorium est et atteri sordidum, wherein, whether he win or lose, he is sure to lose in his credit and comfort. We read of Francis I, king of France, that, consulting with his captains how to lead his army over the Alps into Italy, whether this way or that way, Amaril, his fool, sprang out of a corner, where he sat unseen, and bade them rather take care which way they should bring their army out of Italy again. It is easy for one to interest himself in quarrels, but hard to be disengaged from them when he is once in. Therefore principiis obsta, withstand the beginnings of these evils, and "study to be quiet." [1 Thessalonians 4:11] Milk quencheth wild fire. Oil, saith Luther, quencheth lime; so doth meekness strife.


Verse 15

Proverbs 17:15 He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both [are] abomination to the LORD.

Ver. 15. He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, &c.] To wrong a righteous man in word only is a grievous sin; how much more to murder him under pretence of justice, as they did innocent Naboth; as the bloody Papists do Christ’s faithful witnesses; and as the Jews did Christ himself, crying out, "We have a law, and by our law he ought to die." This is to play the thief or manslayer cum privilegio; this is to "frame mischief by a law." [Psalms 94:20] The like may be said of that other branch of injustice, the justifying of the wicked. Bonis nocet, qui malis parcit: He wrongs the good that spares the bad; better turn so many wild boars, bears, wolves, leopards loose among them, than these monstrous men of condition, that will either corrupt them, or otherwise mischieve them. For "thou knowest this people is set upon mischief" [Exodus 32:22] They cannot sleep, unless they have hurt some one. Neither pertains this proverb to magistrates only, but to private persons too, who must take heed how they precipitate a censure. Herein David was to blame in pronouncing the wicked happy, and condemning the generation of God’s children, [Psalms 73:3-16] for the which oversight he afterwards shames and shents himself, yea, befools and be-beasts himself, as well he deserved. [Psalms 73:22]


Verse 16

Proverbs 17:16 Wherefore [is there] a price in the hand of a fool to get wisdom, seeing [he hath] no heart [to it]?

Ver. 16. Wherefore is there a price in the hand of a fool? &c.] Wealth without wit is ill bestowed. Think the same of good natural parts, either of body or mind; so for authority, opportunity, and other advantages. Whereto serve they, if not rightly improved and employed? Certainly they will prove no better than Uriah’s letters to those that have them; or as that sword which Hector gave Ajax; which so long as he used against his enemies, served for help and defence, but after he began to abuse it to the harm of harmless beasts, it turned into his own bowels. This will be a bodkin at thy heart one day, ‘I might have been saved, but I woefully let slip those opportunities that God had thrust into my hands, and wilfully cut the throat of mine own poor soul, by an impenitent continuance in sinful courses, against so many dissuasives.’ Oh the spirit of fornication, that hath so besotted the minds of the most, that they have no heart to look after heaven while it is to be had, but trifle and fool away their own salvation!


Verse 17

Proverbs 17:17 A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

Ver. 17. A friend loveth at all times.] Such a friend was Jonathan; Hushai the Archite; Ittai the Gittite, who stuck close to David when he was at his lowest point. But such faithful friends are in this age all for the most part gone in pilgrimage, as he (a) once said, and their return is uncertain. David met with others, besides those above mentioned, that would be the causes, but not the companions, of his calamity - that would fawn upon him in his flourish, but forsake him in his trouble. "My lovers and friends stand aloof," &c. The ancients pictured Friendship in the shape of a fair young man, bare-headed, meanly appareled, having on the outside of his garment written, ‘To live and to die with you,’ and on his forehead, Summer and winter. His breast was open, so that his heart might be seen; and with his finger he pointed to his heart, where was written, Longe, prope - Far and near.

And a brother is born for adversity.] Birth binds him to it; (b) and although at other times fratrum concordia rara, brethren may jar and jangle, yet at a straight and in a stress, good-nature will work, and good blood will not belie itself. And as in the natural, so in the spiritual brotherhood, misery breeds unity. Ridley and Hooper, that when they were both bishops, differed so much about ceremonies, could agree well enough, and be mutual comforts one to another, when they were both prisoners. Esther concealed her kindred in hard times; but God’s people cannot. Moses must rescue his beaten brother out of the hand of the Egyptian, though he venture his life by it.


Verse 18

Proverbs 17:18 A man void of understanding striketh hands, [and] becometh surety in the presence of his friend.

Ver. 18. A man void of understanding striketh hands.] Of the folly and misery of rash suretyship, see Proverbs 6:1-3 {See Trapp on "Proverbs 6:1"} {See Trapp on "Proverbs 6:2"} {See Trapp on "Proverbs 6:3"}

In the presence of his friend.] Or, Before his friend; that is, before his friend do it, who was better able, and more obliged. Thus like a woodcock he puts his neck into the gin, his foot into the stocks as the drunkard; and then hath time enough to come in with the fool’s "Had I wist," and to say, as the lion did when taken in the toil, Si praescivissem: If I had foreseen this. But why should there he among men any such Epimetheus, such a post master, an after wit?


Verse 19

Proverbs 17:19 He loveth transgression that loveth strife: [and] he that exalteth his gate seeketh destruction.

Ver. 19. He loveth transgression that loveth strife.] It is strange that any should love strife, that hellhag, ερις ερυννις. And yet some, like trouts, love to swim against the stream; like salamanders, they live in the fire of contention; like Phocion, they hold it a goodly thing to dissent from others; like Pyrrhus, they are a "people that delight in war"; [Psalms 68:30] like David’s enemies, "I am for peace," saith he (that was his motto), "but when I speak of it, they are for war." [Psalms 120:7] These unquiet spirits are of the devil doubtless, that turbulent creature, that troubler of God’s Israel. He knows that "where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work," [James 3:16] and that he loveth transgression that loveth strife; he taketh pleasure in sin, which is the cause of his unquietness. Good, therefore, and worthy of all acceptation is the council of the Psalmist, "Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; fret not thyself in any wise to do evil." [Psalms 37:8] He that "frets" much will soon be drawn to "do evil." "An angry man stirs up strife, and a furious man aboundeth in transgression" [Proverbs 29:22] Hence our Saviour bids "have salt within yourselves"; that is, mortify your corruptions, and then "be at peace one with another." [Mark 9:50] Hence also St James saith, that "the wisdom from above is first pure, and then peaceable." And St Paul oft joins faith and love together; there can be no true love to, and good agreement with men, till the heart be purified by faith from the love of sin.

And he that exalteth his gate seeketh destruction.] Eventually he seeketh it, though not intentionally. "That exalteth his gate," that is, his whole house - a part being put for the whole - which he that builds too sumptuously is in the ready road to beggary; the beggar will soon have him by the back, as they say; quaerit rupturam, he will shortly break. Others read the words thus, "And he enlargeth his gate that seeketh a breach"; that is, say they, he that picketh quarrels, and is contentious, setteth open a wide door to let in many mischiefs.


Verse 20

Proverbs 17:20 He that hath a froward heart findeth no good: and he that hath a perverse tongue falleth into mischief.

Ver. 20. He that hath a froward heart findeth no good.] Who this is that hath a froward heart and a perverse tongue, Solomon shows, [Proverbs 11:20] viz., the hypocrite, the "double minded man," [James 1:8] that hath "a heart and a heart," [Psalms 12:2, mart.} one for God, and another for him that would have it, as that desperate Neapolitan boasted of himself. And as he hath two hearts, so two tongues too, {1 Timothy 3:8] wherewith he can both "bless and curse," talk religiously or profanely, according to the company, [James 3:10-11] speak Hebrew and Ashdod, the language of Canaan and the language of hell, like those in an island beyond Arabia, of whom Diodorus Siculus (a) saith, that they have cloven tongues, so that therewith they can alter their speech at their pleasure, and perfectly speak to two persons, and to two purposes, at once. Now how can these monsters of men expect either to find good, or not to fall into mischief? How can they escape the damnation of hell, whereof hypocrites are the chief inhabitants, yea, the freeholders, as it were? for other sinners shall have "their part" {μερος, Matthew 24:51} with the devil and hypocrites.


Verse 21

Proverbs 17:21 He that begetteth a fool [doeth it] to his sorrow: and the father of a fool hath no joy.

Ver. 21. He that begetteth a fool, doeth it to his sorrow.] Solomon might speak this by experience, and wish, as Augustus did, utinam caelebs vixissem, aut orbus periissem. Oh that I had either lived a bachelor or died childless! To "bring forth children to the murderer," [Hosea 9:13] children to the devil, that old manslayer; oh, what a grief is this to a pious parent! how much better were a "miscarrying womb, and dry breasts!" What heavy moan made David for his Absalom, dying in his sin! How doth many a miserable mother weep and warble out that mournful ditty of hers in Plutarch over her deceased children, Quo pueri estis profecti? Poor souls, what is become of you!

And the father of a fool hath no joy.] No more than Oedipus had, who cursed his children when he died, and breathed out his last with

“Per coacervatos pereat domus impia luctus.”

No more than William the Conqueror had in his ungracious children, or Henry II, who, finding that his sons had conspired against him with the king of France, fell into a grievous passion, cursing both his sons, and the day wherein himself was born; and in that distemperature departed the world, which himself had so oft distempered. (a)


Verse 22

Proverbs 17:22 A merry heart doeth good [like] a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.

Ver. 22. A merry heart doeth good, like a medicine.] Eυεκτειν ποιει: so the Septuagint renders it. And, indeed, it is ευθυμια~ that makes ευεξια. All true mirth is from rectitude of the mind, from a right frame of soul. When faith hath once healed the conscience, and grace hath hushed the affections, and composed all within, so that there is a Sabbath of spirit, and a blessed tranquillity lodged in the soul; then the body also is vigorous and vigetous, for the most part in very good plight and healthful constitution, which makes man’s life very comfortable. For, si vales, bene est. If you are well it is good. And λωστον υγιαινειν. "Go thy ways," saith Solomon to him that hath a good conscience, "eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart, since God accepteth thy works. Let thy garments be always white, and let thy head lack no ointment. Live joyfully with the wife of thy youth," [Ecclesiastes 9:7-9] &c., be lightsome in thy clothes, merry at thy meats, painful in thy calling, &c., these do notably conduce to and help on health. They that in the use of lawful means "wait upon the Lord, shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." [Isaiah 40:31]

But a broken spirit drieth the bones.] By drinking up the marrow and radical moisture. See this in David, [Psalms 32:3] whose "bones waxed old," whose "moisture," or chief sap, "was turned into the drought of summer"; his "heart was smitten and withered like grass; his days consumed like smoke"; [Psalms 102:3-4] his whole body was "like a bottle in the smoke"; [Psalms 119:83] he was a very bag of bones, and those also "burnt as a hearth." [Psalms 102:3] Aristotle, in his book of long and short life, assigns grief for a chief cause of death. And the apostle saith as much in 2 Corinthians 7:10. {See Trapp on "2 Corinthians 7:10"} {See Trapp on "Proverbs 12:25"} All immoderations, saith Hippocrates, are great enemies to health.


Verse 23

Proverbs 17:23 A wicked [man] taketh a gift out of the bosom to pervert the ways of judgment.

Ver. 23. A wicked man taketh a gift out of the bosom,] i.e., Closely and covertly, as if neither God nor man should see him. The words may be also read thus: ‘He,’ - that is, the corrupt judge - ‘taketh a gift out of the wicked man’s bosom’; there being never a better of them, as Solomon intimateth by this ambiguous expression. Rain is good, and ground is good, yet ex eorum coniunctione fit lutum. (a) So giving is kind, and taking is courteous; yet the mixing of them makes the smooth paths of justice foul and uneven.


Verse 24

Proverbs 17:24 Wisdom [is] before him that hath understanding; but the eyes of a fool [are] in the ends of the earth.

Ver. 24. Wisdom is before him that hath understanding.] The face of an understanding man is wisdom; his very face speaks him wise; the government of his eyes, especially, is an argument of his gravity. (a) His eyes are in his head, [Ecclesiastes 2:4] he scattereth away all evil with them. [Proverbs 20:8] He hath oculum irretortum, as Job had; [Job 31:1] and Joseph had oculum in metam (which was Ludovica’s Vives’s motto), his eye fixed upon the mark; he looks right on; [Proverbs 4:25] he goes through the world as one in a deep muse, or as one that hath haste of some special business, and therefore overlooks everything besides it. He hath learned out of Isaiah 33:14-15, that he shall see God to his comfort, must not only "shake his hands from taking gifts," as in the former verse, but also "stop his ears from hearing of blood," and "shut his eyes from seeing of evil." Vitiis nobis in animum per oculos est via, saith Quintilian; (b) sin entereth into the little world through these windows, and death by sin, as fools find too oft by casting their eyes into the corners of the earth, suffering them to rove at random without restraint, by irregular glancing and inordinate gazing. In Hebrew the same word signifies both an eye and a fountain, to show, saith one, that from the eye, as from a fountain, flows both sin and misery. ‘Shut up, therefore, the five windows, that the house may be full of light,’ as the Arabian proverb hath it. We read of one, that making a journey to Rome, and knowing it to be a corrupt place, and a corrupter of others, entered the city with eyes close shut; neither would he see anything there but St Peter’s church, which he had a great mind to go visit. Alipius in Augustine being importuned to go to those bloody spectacles of the gladiatory combats, resolved to wink, and did; but hearing an outcry of applause, looked abroad, and was so taken with the sport, that he became an ordinary frequenter of those cruel meetings.


Verse 25

Proverbs 17:25 A foolish son [is] a grief to his father, and bitterness to her that bare him.

Ver. 25. A foolish son is a grief to his father.] {See Trapp on "Proverbs 10:1"} {See Trapp on "Proverbs 15:20"}


Verse 26

Proverbs 17:26 Also to punish the just [is] not good, [nor] to strike princes for equity.

Ver. 26. Also to punish the just is not good.] The righteous are to be cherished and protected, as those that uphold the state. Semen sanctum statumen terrae [Isaiah 6:13] What Aeneas Sylvius said of learning, may be more properly said of righteousness, "Vulgar men should esteem it as silver, noble men as gold, princes prize it as pearls," but they that punish it, as persecutors do, shall be punished to purpose, when "God makes inquisition for blood." [Psalms 9:12]

Nor to strike princes for equity.] Righteous men are "princes in all lands," [Psalms 45:16] yea, they are kings in righteousness, as Melchisedec. Indeed they are somewhat obscure kings, as he was, but kings they appear to be, by comparing Matthew 13:17, Luke 10:24; "many righteous," saith Matthew "many kings," saith Luke. Now, to strike a king is high treason; and although princes have put up blows, as when one struck our Henry VI, he only said, ‘Forsooth you do wrong yourself more than me, to strike the Lord’s anointed.’ Another, also, that had drawn blood of him when he was in prison, he freely pardoned when he was restored to his kingdom, saying, ‘Alas, poor soul, he struck me more to win favour with others, than of any evil will he bare me.’ (a) So when one came to cry Cato mercy, for having struck him once in the bath, he answered, that he remembered no such matter. Likewise, Lycurgus is famous for pardoning him that smote out one of his eyes; yet he that shall touch the apple of God’s eye - as every one doth that wrongeth a righteous man, for equity especially - shall have God for a revenger. And "it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." [Hebrews 10:31]


Verse 27

Proverbs 17:27 He that hath knowledge spareth his words: [and] a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit.

Ver. 27. He that hath knowledge spareth his words.] Taciturnity is a sign of solidity, and talkativeness of worthlesness. Epaminondas is worthily praised for this, saith Plutarch, that as no man knew more than he, so none spake less than he did.

And a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit.] Or, Of a cool spirit. The deepest seas are the most calm.

“Where river smoothest runs, deep is the ford,

The dial stirs, yet none perceives it move,” &c.


Verse 28

Proverbs 17:28 Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: [and] he that shutteth his lips [is esteemed] a man of understanding.

Ver. 28. Even a fool when he holdeth his peace, &c.]

πας τις απαιδευτος φρονιμωτατος εστι σιωπιων.”

"Oh that you would altogether hold your peace, and it should be your wisdom," saith Job to his friends that spake much, but said little [Job 13:5]

 


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 17:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/proverbs-17.html. 1865-1868.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, November 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
ADVERTISEMENT
Commentary Navigator
Search This Commentary
Enter query in the box below
ADVERTISEMENT
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology