|<< Proverbs 15 >>|
Barnes' Notes on the Bible
1A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.
2The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright: but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness.
Useth knowledge aright - Rather, makes knowledge goodly. The power of well-considered speech to commend true wisdom, is contrasted with the pouring (literally as in the margin) forth of folly.
3The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.
The teaching which began with the fear of the Lord Proverbs 1:7 would not be complete without this assertion of His omni-present knowledge.
4A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit.
A wholesome tongue - literally, as in the margin, the same word as "sound" in Proverbs 14:30 (see the note). A more literal rendering would be soundness of speech.
Tree of life - Compare Proverbs 3:18 note.
Breach in the spirit - With the sense of vexation (compare Isaiah 65:14).
5A fool despiseth his father's instruction: but he that regardeth reproof is prudent.
6In the house of the righteous is much treasure: but in the revenues of the wicked is trouble.
7The lips of the wise disperse knowledge: but the heart of the foolish doeth not so.
Not so - The word translated "so" is taken by some in its etymological force as "strong," "firm," and the passage is rendered "the heart of the fool disperseth (supplied from the first clause) what is weak and unsteady," i. e., "falsehood and unwisdom." The Septuagint takes it as an adjective, "the heart of the fool is unstedfast." The phrase as it stands in the King James Version is, however, of frequent occurrence Genesis 48:18; Exodus 10:11; Numbers 12:7.
8The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD: but the prayer of the upright is his delight.
9The way of the wicked is an abomination unto the LORD: but he loveth him that followeth after righteousness.
10Correction is grievous unto him that forsaketh the way: and he that hateth reproof shall die.
Better, There is a grievous correction, i. e., nothing less than death, to him that forsaketh the way.
11Hell and destruction are before the LORD: how much more then the hearts of the children of men?
12A scorner loveth not one that reproveth him: neither will he go unto the wise.
13A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.
Some prefer to render the last clause, "In sorrow of heart the breath is oppressed."
14The heart of him that hath understanding seeketh knowledge: but the mouth of fools feedeth on foolishness.
15All the days of the afflicted are evil: but he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast.
Afflicted - The affliction meant here is less that of outward circumstances than of a troubled and downcast spirit. Life to the cheerful is as one perpetual banquet, whether he be poor or rich. That which disturbs the feast is anxiety, the taking (anxious) thought" of Matthew 6:34.
16Better is little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble therewith.
This proverb has its completion in the teaching of Matthew 6:33.
17Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith.
A dinner of herbs - The meals of the poor and the abstemious. The "stalled ox," like the "fatted calf" of Luke 15:23, would indicate a stately magnificence.
18A wrathful man stirreth up strife: but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife.
19The way of the slothful man is as an hedge of thorns: but the way of the righteous is made plain.
The slothful goes on his journey, and for him the path is thick set with thorns, briars, fences, through which he cannot force his way. For the "righteous" (better, upright), the same path is as the broad raised causeway of the king's highway. Compare Isaiah 40:3.
20A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish man despiseth his mother.
To "despise" a mother is to cause her the deepest grief, and is therefore not unfitly contrasted with "making a glad father."
21Folly is joy to him that is destitute of wisdom: but a man of understanding walketh uprightly.
i. e., The empty-hearted, rejoicing in folly, goes the wrong way; the man of understanding, rejoicing in wisdom, goes the right way.
22Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellers they are established.
Counsellors - The Hebrew word, used almost as an official title 1 Chronicles 27:32; Isaiah 1:26; Isaiah 19:11, brings before us the picture of the council-chamber of Eastern countries, arranged for a solemn conference of the wise.
23A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!
Probably, a special reference to debates in council Proverbs 15:22. They bring before us the special characteristic of the East, the delight in ready, improvised answers, solving difficulties, turning aside anger. Compare the effect on the scribe Mark 12:28.
24The way of life is above to the wise, that he may depart from hell beneath.
Above ... beneath - The one path is all along upward, leading to the highest life. It rescues the "wise" from the other, which is all along downward, ending in the gloom of Sheol.
25The LORD will destroy the house of the proud: but he will establish the border of the widow.
The widow - Here, as elsewhere Deuteronomy 10:18; Psalm 68:5, the widow, as the most extreme type of desolation, stands as the representative of a class safer in their poverty under the protection of the Lord, than the proud in the haughtiness of their strength.
26The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the LORD: but the words of the pure are pleasant words.
Some prefer the margin, and render, words of pleasantness are pure. Gracious words are to God as a pure acceptable offering, the similitude being taken from the Levitical ritual, and the word "pure" in half ceremonial sense (compare Malachi 1:11).
27He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house; but he that hateth gifts shall live.
Gifts - There is a special application to the office of the judge. The Aramaic Targum paraphrases the first words of this passage as: "he who gathers the mammon of unrighteousness," using the words with special reference to wealth obtained by unjust judgments. May we infer that Christ's adoption of that phrase Luke 16:9 had a point of contact with this proverb, through the version then popularly used in the synagogues of Palestine?
28The heart of the righteous studieth to answer: but the mouth of the wicked poureth out evil things.
Contrast the "studying" of the wise before he answers and the hasty babbling of the foolish. The teaching of our Lord Matthew 10:19 presents us with a different and higher precept, resting upon different conditions.
29The LORD is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous.
Compare John 9:31.
30The light of the eyes rejoiceth the heart: and a good report maketh the bones fat.
The light of the eyes - The brightness which shines in the eyes of one whose heart and face are alike full of joy. Such a look acts with a healing and quickening power. Compare Proverbs 16:15.
A good report - i. e., Good news.
31The ear that heareth the reproof of life abideth among the wise.
The reproof of life - i. e., The reproof that leads to, or gives life, rather than that which comes from life and its experience.
32He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul: but he that heareth reproof getteth understanding.
33The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility.
The instruction of wisdom - i. e., The discipline that leads to wisdom.