Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Proverbs 20:15

There is gold, and an abundance of jewels; But the lips of knowledge are a more precious thing.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Jewels;   Ruby;   Speaking;   The Topic Concordance - Knowledge;   Speech/communication;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Precious Stones;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Coral;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Pardon;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Proverbs, Book of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Jewels and Precious Stones;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Rubies,;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Pearl;   Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types - Jewel;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Coral;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

There is gold - Gold is valuable, silver is valuable, and so are jewels; but the teachings of sound knowledge are more valuable than all.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Proverbs 20:15". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/proverbs-20.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

A precious jewel - literally, “A vessel of preciousness,” i. e., most precious of all are “the lips of knowledge.”

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Proverbs 20:15". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/proverbs-20.html. 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

Proverbs 20:15

There is gold, and a multitude of rubies.

On the moral end of business

Let me define my meaning in the use of this phrase--“the moral end of business.” It is not the end for which property should be sought. It is not the moral purpose to be answered by the acquisition, but by the process of acquisition. And again, it is not the end of industry in general--that is a more comprehensive subject--but it is the end of business in particular, of barter, of commerce. “The end of business!” some one may say; “why, the end of business is to obtain property; the end of the process of acquisition is acquisition.” I hold that the ultimate end of all business is a moral end. I believe that business--I mean not labour, but barter, traffic--would never have existed if there had been no end but sustenance. The animal races obtain subsistence upon an easier and simpler plan; but for man there is a higher end, and that is moral. The broad grounds of this position I find in the obvious designs of Providence, and in the evident adaptation to this moral end of business itself.

1. There is, then, a design for which all things were made and ordained, going beyond the things themselves. To say that things were made, or that the arrangements and relations of things were ordained, for their own sake, is a proposition without meaning. The world, its structure, productions, laws, and events, have no good nor evil in them--none, but as they produce these results in the experience of living creatures. The end, then, of the inanimate creation is the welfare of the living, and, therefore, especially of the intelligent creation. But the welfare of human beings lies essentially in their moral culture. We are not appointed to pass through this life barely that we may live. We are not impelled, both by disposition and necessity, to buy and sell, barely that we may do it; nor to get gain, barely that we may get it. There is an end in business beyond supply. There is an object in the acquisition of wealth beyond success. There is a final cause of human traffic, and that is virtue. With this view of the moral end of business falls in the constant doctrine of all elevated philosophy and true religion. Life, say the expounders of every creed, is a probation. Now, if anything deserves to be considered as a part of that probation, it is business. Life, say the wise, is a school. But the end of a lesson is that something be learned; and the end of business is, that truth, rectitude, virtue, be learned. This is the ultimate design proposed by Heaven, and it is a design which every wise man, engaged in that calling, will propose to himself. It is no extravagance, therefore, but the simple assertion of a truth, to say to a man so engaged, and to say emphatically, “You have an end to gain beyond success, and that is the moral rectitude of your own mind.”

2. That business is so exquisitely adapted to accomplish that purpose, is another argument with me to prove that such, in the intention of its Ordainer, was its design. An honest man, a man who sincerely desires to attain to a lofty and unbending uprightness, could scarcely seek a discipline more perfectly fitted to that end than the discipline of trade. For what is trade? It is the constant adjustment of the claims of different parties, a man’s self being one of the parties. This competition of rights and interests might not invade the solitary study, or the separate tasks of the workshop, or the labours of the silent field, once a day; but it presses upon the merchant and trader continually. Do you say that it presses too hard? Then, I reply, must the sense of rectitude be made the stronger to meet the trial. Every plea of this nature is an argument for strenuous moral effort. A man must do more than to attain to punctilious honesty in his actions; he must train his whole soul, his judgment, his sentiments and affections, to uprightness, candour, and good-will. I have thus attempted to show that business has an ultimate, moral end--one going beyond the accumulation of property.

3. This may also be shown to be true, not only on the scale of our private affairs, but on the great theatre of history. Commerce has always been an instrument in the hands of Providence for accomplishing nobler ends than promoting the wealth of nations. It has been the grand civiliser of nations. With its earliest birth on the Mediterranean shore, freedom was born. Phoenicia, the merchants of whose cities, Tyre and Sidon, were accounted princes; the Hebrew commonwealth, which carried on a trade through those parts; the Grecian, Carthaginian, and Roman States, were not only the freest, but they were the only free states of antiquity. In the middle ages commerce broke down in Europe, the feudal system, raising up, in the Hanse Towns, throughout Germany, Sweden, and Norway, a body of men who were able to cope with barons and kings, and to wrest from them their free charters and rightful privileges. In England its influence is proverbial; the sheet-anchor, it has long been considered, of her unequalled prosperity and intelligence. Its moral influences are the only ones of which we stand in any doubt, and these, it need not be said, are of unequalled importance. The philanthropist, the Christian, are all bound to watch these influences with the closest attention, and to do all in their power to guard and elevate them. It is upon this point that I wish especially to insist; but there are one or two topics that may previously claim some attention.

The lips of knowledge are a precious Jewel.

The use of the tongue

It is very difficult to control the noble faculty of speech, but it may be controlled. You may bridle it.

I. The power of speech is a great endowment. One of the essential distinctions between us and the mere animal. Expression is thus given to our power of thinking, which is another great endowment. The tongue is the heart’s interpreter. Used as it may and ought to be, its influence is luminous as the light and fragrant as the rose. But what mischief it may work!

II. We have great responsibility in the matter of our speaking. All our endowments involve an accountability proportionate to their magnitude and importance, and speech is no exception. The impression seems common that our words are of little importance, and that while actions must be accounted for, speaking is but a voice, and will not be recorded, or appear again to confront us. Every serious person must be sensible how heavily the burden of sins of speech presses on him.

III. God has afforded fulness of instruction in regard to our bearing of this responsibility. The instruction is, for the most part, general in its nature.

1. Truth. Departure from truth is specially condemned. Untruth includes exaggerated statements.

2. Sincerity. Heart and lips must never be at variance.

3. Purity. This excludes levity in speaking of holy things.

4. Love. This will induce to active good.

IV. Speech is capable of control. How is it to be bridled?

1. By right thinking.

2. By watchfulness.

3. By correct habits.

4. By prayer.

“He that seemeth to be religious and bridleth not his tongue, that man’s religion is vain.” (H. Wilkes, D. D.)

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Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Proverbs 20:15". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/proverbs-20.html. 1905-1909. New York.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

"There is gold, and abundance of rubies; But the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel."

"There is indeed gold, and many pearls; but a precious treasure are lips full of knowledge."[11] The implication here, as often stated in Proverbs, is that knowledge is far better than gold, or other such treasures.

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Proverbs 20:15". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/proverbs-20.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

There is gold, and a multitude of rubies,.... A man may have a large quantity of either, or of both of thorn, as some men have; for there is much of them in the world, not only in mines and quarries, but in the houses and cabinets of men;

but the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel; knowledge even of things natural, and a gift of elocution to express it by, are a rare jewel, and much more precious than gold and rubies, than a multitude of them; these are not to be mentioned with it, it is not equalled by them, it is greatly superior to them; see Job 28:12; and much more spiritual knowledge, and a capacity of expressing that to the edification of others; and especially Christ, the Wisdom of God, and the knowledge of him, who is more precious than rubies, and all desirable things, in comparison of which all things are loss and dung, Proverbs 3:14.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 20:15". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/proverbs-20.html. 1999.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

The contrast denotes the greater value of knowledge (compare Proverbs 3:14-16).

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Proverbs 20:15". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/proverbs-20.html. 1871-8.

Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary

15 There is indeed gold, and many pearls;

But a precious treasure are lips full of knowledge.

In order to find a connection between this proverb and that which precedes, we need only be reminded of the parable of the merchantman who sought goodly pearls, Matthew 13:45. The proverb rises to a climax: there is gold, and there are pearls in abundance, the one of which has always a higher value than the other; but intelligent lips are above all such jewels - they are a precious treasure, which gold and all pearls cannot equal. In a similar manner the N.T. places the one pearl above the many goodly pearls. So might דעת ( chokma ) be called the pearl above all pearls (Proverbs 3:15; Proverbs 8:11); but the lips as the organ of knowledge are fittingly compared with a precious vessel, a vessel of more precious substance than gold and pearls are.

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The Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary is a derivative of a public domain electronic edition.
Bibliographical Information
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Proverbs 20:15". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/kdo/proverbs-20.html. 1854-1889.

Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

The lips of knowledge (a good understanding to guide the lips and a good elocution to diffuse the knowledge) are to be preferred far before gold, and pearl, and rubies; for, 1. They are more rare in themselves, more scarce and hard to be got. There is gold in many a man's pocket that has no grace in his heart. In Solomon's time there was plenty of gold (1 Kings 10:21) and abundance of rubies; every body wore them; they were to be bought in every town. But wisdom is a rare thing, a precious jewel; few have it so as to do good with it, nor is it to be purchased of the merchants. 2. They are more enriching to us and more adorning. They make us rich towards God, rich in good works, 1 Timothy 2:9, 1 Timothy 2:10. Most people are fond of gold, and a ruby or two will not serve, they must have a multitude of them, a cabinet of jewels; but he that has the lips of knowledge despises these, because he knows and possesses better things.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Proverbs 20:15". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhm/proverbs-20.html. 1706.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

There is gold, and a multitude of rubies: but the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel.

The lips — But wise speeches are of far greater worth.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 20:15". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/proverbs-20.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Proverbs 20:15 There is gold, and a multitude of rubies: but the lips of knowledge [are] a precious jewel.

Ver. 15. There is gold and a multitude of rubies.] Quintilian defines an orator, Vir bonus dicendi peritus: A good man, that can deliver himself in good language. Such a master of speech (a) was St Paul, who was therefore by those heathen Lystrians called Mercury, because he was the chief speaker. [Acts 14:12] Such afore him was the prophet Isaiah, and our Saviour Christ, who "spake as never man spoke," his enemies themselves being judges. Such after him was Chrysostom, Basil, Nazianzen, famous for their holy eloquence. So were Mr Rogers and Mr Bradford, martyrs; in whom it was hard to say whether there were more force of eloquence and utterance in preaching, or more holiness of life and conversation, saith Mr Foxe. (b) Now if Darius, could say that he preferred one Zopyrus before ten Babylons: and if, when one desired to see Alexander’s treasures and his jewels, he bade his servants show him not αργυριου ταλαντα, but τους φιλους, not his talents of silver, and such other precious things, but his friends; (c) what an invaluable price think we doth the King of heaven set upon such learned scribes, as do out of the good treasure of their hearts throw forth good things for the use of many! (d)

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Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 20:15". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/proverbs-20.html. 1865-1868.

The Popular Commentary by Paul E. Kretzmann

v. 15. There is gold and a multitude of rubies, or pearls, such trinkets are found in abundance in the world; but the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel, they are rare indeed in the world.

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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Proverbs 20:15". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/kpc/proverbs-20.html. 1921-23.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

There is gold, to wit, in the world, in divers men’s hands, by whom it is highly prized.

But the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel; but wise speeches proceeding from an understanding or honest heart are of far greater worth and use, both to him that uttereth them, and to those that receive and improve them to their own benefit.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Proverbs 20:15". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/proverbs-20.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

15.Rubies — By some rendered pearls, but later critics prefer red corals.

Precious jewel — A precious vessel, vase, or instrument. The word , (keli,) is of large use in the Hebrew. The proverb implies that lips of knowledge — those communicating valuable knowledge — are rarer than gold or pearls. Possibly it may mean that wisdom, joined with eloquence, can accomplish more than gold or pearls.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Proverbs 20:15". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/proverbs-20.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Proverbs 20:15. There is gold, &c. — Namely, in the world, in divers persons’ hands, by whom it is much prized; but the lips of knowledge — Wise speeches, proceeding from a well-informed and upright mind, are a precious jewel — Are of far greater worth, both to him that utters them, and to those that receive and improve them to their own benefit.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Proverbs 20:15". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/proverbs-20.html. 1857.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

There is gold, and a multitude of rubies: but the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel.

There is gold, and a multitude of rubies: but the lips of knowledge (discreet godly speech) (are) a precious jewel - far more precious than either gold or rubies, however abundant.

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Proverbs 20:15". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/proverbs-20.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(15) Rubies.—See above on Proverbs 3:15.

Lips of knowledge.—See above on Proverbs 18:4.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Proverbs 20:15". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/proverbs-20.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

There is gold, and a multitude of rubies: but the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel.
but
3:15; 8:11; 10:20,21; 15:7,23; 16:16,21,24; 25:12; Job 28:12-19; Ecclesiastes 12:9-11; Romans 10:14,15; Ephesians 4:29
Reciprocal: Exodus 28:17 - a sardius;  1 Kings 10:10 - and precious;  Job 33:3 - my lips;  Proverbs 5:2 - thy lips;  Proverbs 10:11 - mouth of a;  Proverbs 10:13 - the lips;  Proverbs 24:4 - GeneralProverbs 31:10 - her

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Proverbs 20:15". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/proverbs-20.html.

Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible

Уста разумные (разум, направляющий уста, и красноречие, распространяющее знание) нужно предпочитать золоту, жемчугу и драгоценным камням, ибо

(1) они реже встречаются, часто бывают скудными и их трудно получить. В карманах многих людей есть золото, но в их сердцах нет благодати. Во времена Соломона было много золота (3Цар.10:21) и много драгоценных камней; каждый носил их; их можно было купить в любом городе. Но мудрость встречалась реже, чем драгоценные камни; лишь немногие имели ее и с ее помощью совершали добрые дела; ее нельзя было купить у торговцев.

(2) Они больше украшают и больше обогащают. Они делают нас богатыми в глазах Бога, богатыми добрыми делами (1Тим. 2:9,10). Многие люди любят золото и драгоценные камни, им постоянно их не хватает; им нужно много жемчуга – целый ларец, а имеющий мудрые уста презирает эти вещи, так как знает лучшие блага и обладает ими.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Henry, Matthew. "Concise Commentary on Proverbs 20:15". "Matthew Henry Concise Commentary
>
>on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhn/proverbs-20.html. 1706.

Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible

He that prefers true knowledge to riches, follows the ways of religion and happiness. If we really believed this truth, the word of God would be valued as it deserves, and the world would lose its tempting influence.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Henry, Matthew. "Concise Commentary on Proverbs 20:15". "Matthew Henry Concise Commentary
>
>on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhn/proverbs-20.html. 1706.