Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Proverbs 30:32

If you have been foolish in exalting yourself Or if you have plotted evil, put your hand on your mouth.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Humility;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Proverb, the Book of;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Pardon;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Proverbs, Book of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Agur;   Jakeh;   Massa;   Proverbs, Book of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Hand ;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Hand;   Proverbs, Book of;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Hand;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

If thou hast done foolishly - And who has not, at one time or other of his life?

Lay thine hand upon thy mouth - Like the leper; and cry to God, Unclean! unclean! and keep silence to all besides. God will blot out thy offense, and neither the world nor the Church ever know it, for he is merciful; and man is rarely able to pass by a sin committed by his fellows, especially if it be one to which himself is by nature not liable or inclined.

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Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Proverbs 30:32". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/proverbs-30.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Lay thine hand upon thy mouth - The act expresses the silence of humiliation and repentance after the sin has been committed, and that of self-restraint, which checks the haughty or malignant thought before it has passed even into words.

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Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Proverbs 30:32". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/proverbs-30.html. 1870.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

A SEXTET ON PRIDE AND ANGER

"If thou hast done foolishly in lifting up thyself,

Or if thou hast thought evil,

Lay thy hand upon thy mouth.

For the churning of milk bringeth forth butter,

And the wringing of the nose bringeth forth blood;

But the forcing of wrath bringeth forth strife."

"Forcing wrath" is a reference to "harping on a matter," continual complaining, criticizing, or in any other manner prosecuting another with exhibitions of one's displeasure or animosity. To do such a thing brings forth violence and strife just as naturally as churning brings forth butter, or wringing the nose makes it bleed. The antidote for this type of disaster is in the first three lines: "Lay thy hand upon thy mouth." Many an altercation, and some which have issued in fatal consequences, could have been easily avoided, if all men could learn the wisdom of keeping their mouths shut. This proverb is an eloquent plea for exactly that grace to be adopted and practiced by men.

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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 30:32". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/proverbs-30.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

If thou hast done foolishly in lifting up thyself,.... Against a king, against whom there is no rising up; by speaking evil of him, or rebelling against him; which is acting a foolish part, since it brings a man into troubles and difficulties inextricable; or by self-commendation, which is the height of folly, and the fruit of pride; or carried it in such a haughty and overbearing manner to others, as to provoke to wrath and anger;

or if thou hast thought evil; purposed and designed it, and contrived the scheme of doing it, though not yet put in execution; though folly is not actually committed, yet since the thought of it is rain, care should be taken to prevent it;

lay thine hand upon thy mouth: think again before the thing resolved on is done; as studious and thoughtful men put their hand to their mouth, when they are deeply considering any affair before them: or put a stop to the design, let it go no further; what has been thought of in the mind, let it never come out of the mouth, nor be carried into execution; stifle it in the first motion: or if this respects a foolish action done, as it also may, since it stands connected with both clauses, then the sense is, be silent; do not pretend to deny the action, nor to excuse it; nor to say one word in the defence of it; nor to lay the blame upon others; and much less to calumniate and reproach such who faithfully reprove for it; take shame to thyself in silence, and repent of the iniquity done. Aben Ezra thinks these words are said to Ithiel and Ucal; but rather, to any and everyone, to all that should hear and read these proverbs. The Targum is,

"do not lift up thyself, lest thou be foolish; and do not stretch out thine hand to thy mouth.'

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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 30:32". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/proverbs-30.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

If thou hast done foolishly in lifting up thyself, or if thou hast thought evil, [lay] thy hand p upon thy mouth.

(p) Make a stay and continue not in doing evil.
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Bibliographical Information
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Proverbs 30:32". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/proverbs-30.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

As none can hope, successfully, to resist such a king, suppress even the thought of an attempt.

lay  …  hand upon thy mouth — “lay” is well supplied (Judges 18:19; Job 29:9; Job 40:4).

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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 30:32". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/proverbs-30.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

If thou hast done foolishly in lifting up thyself, or if thou hast thought evil, lay thine hand upon thy mouth.

Thought — Designed any injury against thy neighbour.

Lay thine hand — Do not open thy mouth to excuse it, but repent of it, and do so no more.

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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
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 30:32". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/proverbs-30.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Proverbs 30:32 If thou hast done foolishly in lifting up thyself, or if thou hast thought evil, [lay] thine hand upon thy mouth.

Ver. 32. Lay thy hand upon thy mouth.] That is, Better examine thyself, commune with thine own heart and be still. Repent thee, as Job did in like case. [Job 42:1-6] Quem poenitet peccasse, pene est innocens. (a) It is not the falling into the water that drowns one, but the lying in it.

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Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 30:32". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/proverbs-30.html. 1865-1868.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

In lifting up thyself; either,

1. By rebellion or sedition against the king last mentioned. Or,

2. By anger or wrath, of which he speaks in the next verse. But this verse hath no necessary dependence either upon the foregoing or following verse. Or,

3. Through thy pride, which makes men carry themselves very foolishly, and scornfully, and injuriously, and is the root of contention, as was observed, Proverbs 13:10.

Thought evil, i.e. designed any mischief or injury against thy neighbour.

Lay thine hand upon thy mouth, to wit, to shut it. Be silent, as this phrase is used, Job 21:5 29:9. Restrain thyself, do not speak one word, much less do any thing tending to the accomplishment of it; do not open thy mouth to justify or excuse it, but silently and seriously consider the evil of it, and repent of it, and do so no more.

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Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Proverbs 30:32". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/proverbs-30.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

32.Done foolishly, etc. — Variously rendered: “If thou hast played the fool in exalting thyself; or if thou hast craftily devised with thy hand to thy mouth.” — Stuart. This gives us a protasis in two members, but no apodosis, which he thinks may be mentally supplied, thus: Thou hast acted wickedly. The last clause is elliptical; literally, hand to mouth! and, as Conant observes, this spirited expression should not be toned down to common place tameness, by supplying lay, or put, as is sometimes done. Hand to mouth! Confess, leper-like, thine uncleanness!

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Proverbs 30:32". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/proverbs-30.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Proverbs 30:32. If thou hast done foolishly — “If thy pride or thy passion hath engaged thee in some foolish action, whereby thou hast disgraced thyself; or made thee contrive and endeavour any thing that is unwarrantable, do not add one fault to another, by excusing it, or blaming any body but thyself for it, much less by quarrelling at those that admonish thee of it, and reprehend thee for it; but stop at the first motion to this, and silently acknowledge thy error.” — Bishop Patrick.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Proverbs 30:32". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/proverbs-30.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Mouth. Fools ought not to govern. (Worthington) --- Many might have been deemed wise, if they had continued in a lower station. (Calmet) --- Hebrew, "If thou hast acted foolishly in raising thyself, and if thou hast entertained evil thoughts, put thy hand to thy mouth." (Haydock) --- Chaldean, "put not thy," &c. Give not way to pride, or to insolent language. (Calmet)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Proverbs 30:32". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/proverbs-30.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

foolishly = stupidly. Hebrew. nabal. See note on Proverbs 1:7. Same word as in Proverbs 30:22.

thought evil = meditated [with evil intent].

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Proverbs 30:32". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/proverbs-30.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

If thou hast done foolishly in lifting up thyself, or if thou hast thought evil, lay thine hand upon thy mouth.

If thou hast done foolishly (or, hast been foolish) in lifting up thyself - through pride and insolence. The following clause --

If thou hast thought evil - or hast devised evil, implies that the action supposed is one begun, not completed.

(Lay) thine hand upon thy mouth - (Job 21:5; Job 40:4.) Abstain from all excuse or defense of the past; and curb thyself in silence from speaking and still more from going on to do that evil which thou thoughtest.

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Proverbs 30:32". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/proverbs-30.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(32) Lay thine hand upon thy mouth—i.e., be silent. Agur deprecates two things which may easily lead to a quarrel, arrogance and malice. He explains this in the next verse.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Proverbs 30:32". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/proverbs-30.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

If thou hast done foolishly in lifting up thyself, or if thou hast thought evil, lay thine hand upon thy mouth.
thou hast done
26:12; Ecclesiastes 8:3
lay
17:28; Job 21:5; 40:4; Ecclesiastes 8:4; Micah 7:16,17; Romans 3:19
Reciprocal: Numbers 12:11 - lay not;  Judges 18:19 - lay thine;  1 Kings 11:27 - lifted up;  Job 29:9 - laid

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Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Proverbs 30:32". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/proverbs-30.html.