PROVERBS CHAPTER 27.
Warning against Self-Praise and Presumption.
EXALTATION OF SELF LEADS TO FOLLY. — V. 1. Boast not thyself of to-morrow, by proudly setting forth the assured success of one’s schemes in the future; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth, the future with both its successes and failures being entirely in the hands of God. V. 2. Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips; for a person’s praise of his own virtues and good deeds has no value and is, in addition, repulsive to others. V.3. A stone is heavy and the sand weighty, literally, “weight of stone and heaviness of sand”; but a fool’s wrath is heavier than them both, both unreasonable and excessive, a burden to himself and others. V. 4. Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous, literally, “Raving is anger and wrath is overflowing,” like a flood which carries everything before it; but who is able to stand before envy? jealousy being worse to contend with than outright anger with open warfare. V. 5. Open rebuke is better than secret love, that is, censure applied openly and honorably is much to be preferred to such a pretense of love as dissembles and refuses to rebuke a neighbor’s fault where principles of true love would require it. V. 6. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, that is, he, in the earnest concern for his neighbor’s true welfare, may sometimes give a sharp reproof; but the kisses of an enemy, when he feigns friendship, are deceitful, full of treachery and craft. V. 7. The full soul, one already satisfied with food, with no appetite remaining, loatheth an honeycomb, inviting and appetizing as it otherwise may be; but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet, for “hunger is the best cook.” V. 8. As the bird that wandereth from her nest, deserting her home in a spirit of restlessness, so is a man that wandereth from his place, roaming about in a spirit of adventure instead of cultivating proper domestic tastes. V.9. Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart, both of them being used by the Oriental host in honoring his guests; so doth the sweetness of a man’s friend by hearty counsel, if the counsel really proceeds from a sincere heart, it is pleasant beyond all outward indications of affection. V. 10. Thine own friend and thy father’s friend forsake not, for they are reliable, having been found tried and true; neither go into thy brother’s house in the day of thy calamity, since a relationship by blood is not so close and intimate, in many cases, as one founded upon true friendship; for better is a neighbor that is near, with whom one is connected by the bonds of friendship, than a brother far off, with whom one may no longer have many things in common. The ties of blood may be less reliable than those of genuine friendship.
WISDOM AND HUMILITY GO HAND IN HAND. — V. 11. My son, be wise and make my heart glad, the inspired author again addressing all his readers in the tone of fatherly admonition, that I may answer him that reproacheth me, since the wise behavior of a pupil will enable the teacher to stop the reviling of an enemy who would mock at his teaching. V. 12. A prudent man foreseeth the evil, he is able to judge the signs of the times, and hideth himself; but the simple pass on and are punished, they come to harm because they take no steps to avoid it. Cp. chap. 22, 3. V. 13. Take his garment that is surety for a stranger, foolishly pledging himself, and take a pledge of him for a strange woman, rather, “on account of strange things.” Cp. chap. 20, 16. V. 14. He that blesseth his friend with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, in an attempt to appear most friendly and sincere and thus to hide his real feeling, it shall be counted a curse to him, it will so be charged against him on account of his hypocrisy and insincerity. V. 15. A continual dropping in a very rainy day, when the drip of the spouts persists with maddening monotony, and a contentious woman, one always nagging and quarreling, are alike, namely, in their disagreeable effect upon others. V. 16. Whosoever hideth her, that is, whoever attempts to restrain such a woman, hideth the wind, it is just as foolish to try to shut out the wind, and the ointment of his right hand, which bewrayeth itself, rather, “and his right hand encounters oil,” something which always slips out of his grasp; for it is impossible to put a stop to the shrew’s scolding. V. 17. Iron sharpeneth iron, namely, when a file is used; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend, namely, by the stimulation of his conversation and the encouragement of his example. V. 18. Whoso keepeth the fig-tree, giving it the care which it needs, shall eat the fruit thereof, thus finding his labor rewarded; so he that waiteth on his master, having the proper regard for him, cultivating the spirit of loyal service in his employ, shall be honored, his faithfulness being properly rewarded. V. 19. As in water face answereth to face, the surface of the water acting as a mirror which reflects all objects, so the heart of man to man, being mirrored in that of his fellow, a true knowledge of men being gained best by a thorough study of self. V. 20. Hell and destruction are never full, the grave and the realm of the dead are insatiable, they never have enough; so the eyes of man, of him who has given way to covetousness, are never satisfied, the avaricious man never has enough. V. 21. As the fining-pot for silver and the furnace for gold, both of them serving to bring out the purity of the metals tried in them, so is a man to his praise, he is tested, his real character is disclosed, by his glorying or boasting, whether this is concerned with praiseworthy or with blameworthy and trivial things, or, according to the opinion in which he is held by honorable people. Cp. chap. 12, 8. V. 22. Though thou shouldest bray a fool in a mortar among wheat with a pestle, stamping him into little bits in a crucible in an effort to find at least a grain of sense, yet will not his foolishness depart from him, since it pervades every atom of his being. V. 23. Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, literally, “the face of thy sheep,” their condition, and look well to thy herds, as a careful manager must do. V. 24. For riches are not forever, they are unstable and must therefore be carefully looked after; and doth the crown endure to every generation? Even the king is not sure that his royal dignity and power will descend in his family, so uncertain and vain is all human possession; whence it behooves man all the more to make use of care and circumspection. V. 25. The hay appeareth, and the tender grass showeth itself, and herbs of the mountains are gathered, the careful and provident manager insuring a sufficient supply for his herds, so that they do not lack food. V. 26. The lambs are for thy clothing, their fleece furnishing wool for garments, and the goats are the price of the field, their value being so great that the money obtained by their sale will pay for the farm. V. 27. And thou shalt have goats’ milk enough for thy food, for the food of thy household, the family and the house-servants, and for the maintenance for thy maidens, the female slaves which were always found in large establishments. Prosperity is a blessing of the Lord, but that does not exclude diligence and care on the part of every person, for prayer and industry must go hand in hand.