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Bible Commentaries

Matthew Poole's English Annotations
on the Holy Bible
Proverbs 17

 

 

Verse 1

PROVERBS CHAPTER 17

Of sacrifices; of the remainders of sacrifices, of which they used to make feasts; of which See Poole "Proverbs 7:14". Or, of slain beasts, as that word is used, Genesis 31:54, and elsewhere.


Verse 2

Shall have rule over a son that causeth shame; either as being by his father appointed tutor or guardian to his son; or being by his wisdom advanced to that estate and dignity which the other possibly hath lost by his folly.

Shall have part of the inheritance among the brethren; partly as a just recompence for his faithful service, as Genesis 15:2,3, &c., and partly as an obligation to him to take care of his children.


Verse 3

The hearts of men cannot be searched and known by any human art, but by God only.


Verse 4

A wicked doer, or, a malicious or mischievous man, whose practice and delight it is to bring trouble to others,

giveth heed to false lips, Heb. to lips of iniquity, to any wicked counsels or speeches, to false accusations and calumnies, which give him occasion and encouragement to do mischief.

A liar giveth ear to a naughty tongue; he who accustometh himself to false and wicked speaking delighteth in the like speeches of other men. This proverb contains a comparison between an evil-doer and an evil-speaker, and showeth their agreement in the same sinful practice of being greedy to hear false and wicked speeches.


Verse 5

Mocketh the poor; derideth or reproacheth him with or for his poverty.

His Maker; God, who by his providence made him poor. See the same assertion Proverbs 14:31.

At calamities; at the miseries of other men.


Verse 6

The crown of old men; their honour and happiness, because they are in themselves blessings of God, and testimonies of God’s favour, although sometimes they may become the shame of their father’s house.

Their fathers; namely, such fathers as are wise and godly, as is evident from the nature of the thing, for wicked parents bring infamy upon their children.


Verse 7

Excellent speech; either,

1. Discourse of high and excellent things far above his capacity. Or,

2. Lofty or eloquent speech, which fools oft affect, Or,

3. Virtuous and godly discourse.

A fool; either properly so called; or, as this word is most commonly used in this book, a wicked man, whose actions give the lie to his expressions.


Verse 8

As a precious stone; pleasant and acceptable, and withal dazzleth his eyes.

Of him that hath it, Heb. of the lord or owner of it; either,

1. Of the giver; or rather,

2. Of the receiver of it, who by the giver is made lord of it; for to his eyes it was exposed, that he might discern the beauty and worth of it, and thereby be allured to do what was desired, which accordingly he did, as it here follows.

Whithersoever it turneth; to whomsoever it is presented. But this, as also many other proverbs, are to be understood of the common course or effect with most men, but not universally of all men.


Verse 9

That covereth a transgression; that concealeth, as far as he may, other men’s faults against himself, or against their friends.

Seeketh, i.e. findeth or obtaineth, as this word is used here below, Proverbs 17:19 11:27.

Love; either

1. To himself. Or rather,

2. To the transgressor or offending friend; he maintains love among friends, as it may be explained from the opposite clause.

That repeateth; that publisheth and spreadeth it abroad; that recalls it to mind after it was past and forgotten.

A matter; or, the matter last mentioned, to wit, the transgression.

Separateth very friends; either,

1. He alienateth his friend from himself. Or rather,

2. He raiseth jealousies and dissensions among friends. This phrase we had before, Proverbs 16:28.


Verse 10

Is more effectual for his reformation.


Verse 11

An evil man seeketh only rebellion; it is the constant study and business of wicked men to rebel, either,

1. Against men in authority. But this is not universally true, for many most wicked persons are not guilty of that sin. Or rather,

2. Against God. For,

1. Thus it is true of all wicked men.

2. This word is used of rebellion against God, Deuteronomy 31:27 Ezekiel 2:5,6 3:9, &c.

3. This word being put alone, without any addition of the object, seems most probably to be meant of the highest and worst kind of rebellion, according to the common rule of interpretation in such cases. A cruel messenger; or, a cruel angel; the angel of death, the devil, or some bloody men employed by God to avenge his quarrel; or some dreadful punishment; it being very usual in Scripture to represent things under the notion of persons, as Ro 8, and elsewhere.


Verse 12

Robbed of her whelps, when she is most cruel and fierce.

In his folly; in the heat of his lust or passion, because the danger is greater, all things considered, and more unavoidable.


Verse 13

From his person and family, because such a man is most hateful to God and to all mankind; God will punish him, and men will not pity nor relieve him.


Verse 14

Letteth out water, by cutting the bank of a river, in which case the water quickly widens the breach, and breaks in with irresistible violence and fury, and causeth great mischief and destruction.

Leave off contention, before it be meddled with; avoid the occasions and prevent the beginnings of contention.


Verse 15

That justifieth; that acquitteth him as innocent by a judicial sentence, or otherwise approveth or commendeth his evil practices; by which we may easily understand what it is to condemn the just.


Verse 16

Wherefore? the question implies that it is unworthily placed, and that it is to no purpose or benefit of the possessor.

A price; possessions or riches, as all the ancient translators render it, of which this word is used, Isaiah 55:1, and elsewhere, under which all opportunities and abilities of getting it are comprehended.

To get wisdom; for the obtaining whereof rich men have many and great advantages above others.

No heart to it; neither common discretion to discern the worth of wisdom, and his advantage to get it; nor any sincere desire to get it; for the heart is commonly used in Scripture both for the understanding, and for the will and affections.


Verse 17

A friend, a sincere and hearty friend, loveth at all times, not only in prosperity, but also in adversity, when false friends forsake us.

A brother, who is so not only by name and blood, but by brotherly affection,

is born for adversity; was sent into the world for this among other ends, that he might comfort and relieve his brother in his adversity. So this proverb compareth a friend with a brother, and showeth that a friend doth that freely, and by choice, which a brother doth by the force and obligations of nature. But this last clause may be, and is by divers, otherwise rendered, and he (to wit, the friend) is born a brother (or, becomes or is made a brother, i.e. puts on brotherly affection, as if he had received a second birth, and was born his brother; such expressions being not unusual, both in Scripture and in other authors) in or against the time of adversity. So the sense is, He is a friend at all times, but in adversity he is more than all ordinary friend, even a brother.


Verse 18

Striketh hands, in token of his becoming surety; of which phrase, and of the thing itself, see on Proverbs 6:1 11:15. His friend: the friend here is either,

1. Before and to the creditor. Or rather,

2. Before, and with, and for the debtor, for whom, as being his friend, he becomes surety, as the manner of friends is. See on Proverbs 6:3. And this proverb is fitly placed after that, Proverbs 17:17, to intimate, that although the laws of friendship oblige us to love and help our friends in trouble as far as we are able, yet they do not oblige us to become surety for them rashly, and above what we are able to pay, for by that means we make ourselves unable to do good either to them, or to others, or to ourselves.


Verse 19

He loveth transgression that loveth strife, because contention is in itself a sin, and is commonly accompanied or followed with many sins, as detraction, malice, hatred, pride, &c.

His gate; either,

1. His mouth, i.e. who speaketh loftily; for we read of the gate or doors of one’s mouth in Micah 7:5. and elsewhere; but then the word mouth or tongue is added to determine the sense: but the mouth is no where called the gate, simply or absolutely. Or,

2. The gate of his house that maketh it, and consequently his house, lofty and magnificent, beyond what befits his quality, which being an evidence and effect of pride and haughtiness of spirit, is here mentioned for all the rest. So the sense is, He who carries himself loftily and scornfully.

Seeketh destruction; he seeks those things which will expose him to destruction, because he maketh himself odious both to God and men. Or, findeth destruction; seeking being put for finding or procuring, as above, Proverbs 17:9.


Verse 20

He that hath a froward heart, whose heart is not plain and upright, but false towards God or men,

findeth no good; shall not get that advantage by his dissimulation which he intends and expects, but shall fall into mischief, as is implied from the opposite clause.

He that hath a perverse tongue; that speaks deceitfully or wickedly. So here is a comparison between an evil heart and an evil tongue, and, the ill effects of both of them.


Verse 21

A fool; not a natural, but a wilful fool, or a wicked son.

The father; and consequently the mother also.

Hath no joy, which parents usually have in the birth of a child, and especially of a son; but hath great cause of sorrow, the contrary being implied in this and such-like expressions, as in Scripture, as Proverbs 10:2, &c., so also in profane authors; whose words see in my Latin Synopsis.


Verse 22

A merry heart; cheerfulness of soul, especially that which is solid, and ariseth from the witness of a good conscience.

Doeth good, even to the body; it contributes very much to the restoration or preservation of bodily health and rigour, as physicians observe, and experience showeth.

Broken; sad and dejected.

Drieth the bones; wasteth the marrow of the bones, and the moisture and strength of the body.


Verse 23

A wicked man, whether judge or witness.

Out of the bosom; in secret, as this phrase is expounded, Proverbs 21:14, being privily conveyed from the bosom of the giver into his own bosom.

To pervert the ways of judgment; to give or procure an unjust sentence.


Verse 24

Before him; or, in (as the particle beth is used, Deuteronomy 2:7, and is here rendered by divers interpreters) the face or countenance. The sense is either,

1. His wisdom appears even in his gestures and looks, which are modest, and composed, and grave. Or,

2. Wisdom is before him, or in his sight, as the mark at which he aims, or as the rule by which he constantly walketh and ordereth all his steps, from time to time minding his present duty and business. The steps of a fool are in the ends of the earth: the sense of this clause also is either,

1. His folly appears in his light, and unsteady, and disorderly carriage and looks. Or,

2. His mind is wavering and unsettled; he neither proposeth a right and certain end to himself, nor is he constant in the use of fit means to attain it; he neglects his present business and true interest, and wanders hither and thither in the pursuit of earthly vanities, minding most those things which are remotest from him, and least concern him.


Verse 25

This he said before, Proverbs 15:20, and elsewhere; but he here repeats it as a point of great moment and constant use, and as a powerful motive to oblige both children to carry themselves wisely and dutifully to their parents, as they would not be thought to be unnatural or inhuman, and parents to educate their children prudently and religiously, at least for their own comfort, if not for the public good.


Verse 26

Also: this particle seems to have relation to the next foregoing proverb, to imply that it is a very evil thing for children to cause grief to their parents, as it is also to do what here follows.

To punish the just; for parents, or princes, or rulers, to whom alone this power belongs, to punish innocent and good men;

is not good; is highly evil and abominable, as is implied. See above, Proverbs 17:20 16:29 17:10, &c.

Nor to strike princes for equity; nor to smite magistrates, either with the hand or tongue, for the execution of justice, as condemned persons are apt to do. Or, as some learned interpreters render it, nor for princes to strike any man for equity, or for doing his duty, or what is just. So this clause best agrees with the former. Besides, it belongs to princes or ms, strafes to punish or strike.


Verse 27

Spareth, Heb. restraineth, as at other times, so especially when he is provoked to passion, in which case fools utter all their mind. An excellent spirit; which he showeth by commanding his passions, and bridling himself from hasty and unadvised speeches. Or, as others render it, is of a cool spirit, calm and moderate, not easily provoked; humble, as the Chaldee renders it; patient or long-suffering, as the LXX. and Arabic interpreters render the words. Or, as others, sparing (Heb. precious, which is put for rare or scarce, 1 Samuel 3:1 Proverbs 25:17 Isaiah 13:12) of his breath, i.e. of his speech, as this very word is used, Proverbs 29:11 Isaiah 11:4, compared with 2 Thessalonians 2:8.


Verse 28

Is counted wise, because he is sensible of his own folly, and therefore forbears to speak, lest he should discover it; which is a great point of true wisdom.

 


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Bibliography Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Proverbs 17:4". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/proverbs-17.html. 1685.

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Sunday, December 8th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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