Proverbs 17 – Peace, Feasting, Heart Purity, Children, Coverup, and Money

1 Better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, than an house full of sacrifices with strife.

2 A wise servant shall have rule over a son that causeth shame, and shall have part of the inheritance among the brethren.

3 The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold: but the LORD trieth the hearts.

“The fining pot…the furnace” – silver and gold were refined to remove their impurities.

4 A wicked doer giveth heed to false lips; and a liar giveth ear to a naughty tongue.

5 Whoso mocketh the poor reproacheth his Maker: and he that is glad at calamities shall not be unpunished.

“he that is glad at calamities shall not be unpunished” – the people of Edom in particular were condemned for gloating over the collapse of “brother” Israel (“Jacob,” Obad 110; see Ez 32:12, 15; see also Prove 24:17).

6 Children’s children are the crown of old men; and the glory of children are their fathers.

“crown of old men” – cf, the “hoary head” of 16:31.  To live to see one’s grandchildren was considered a great blessing (see Gen 47:7; Ps 128:5-6).

7 Excellent speech becometh not a fool: much less do lying lips a prince.

For the structure of this verse, cf 19:19; 26:1.

“lying lips a prince” – his right to rule depends on honesty and justice (see 12:22; 16:12-13).

8 A gift is as a precious stone in the eyes of him that hath it: whithersoever it turneth, it prospereth.

“A gift is as a precious stone” – greed brings people under the influence of bribery a sad commentary on human behavior (see 18:16; 21;14; Ecc 10:19).  Elsewhere, bribes are condemned (see v 23; 15:27; 28:16; Deut 16:19; 1 Sam 12:3; Ecc 7:7; Is 1:23; Amos 5:12; 1 Tim 6:0).

9 He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends.

 10 A reproof entereth more into a wise man than an hundred stripes into a fool.

“reproof entereth more into a wise man” – one only has to speak to get the attention of a wise person.

“a hundred stripes into a fool” – fools deserved and received flogging.

11 An evil man seeketh only rebellion: therefore a cruel messenger shall be sent against him.

“cruel messenger” – cf, the dispatching of Abishai and Joab to end Sheba’s rebellion against David (2 Sam 20:1-22; see 1 Kgs  2:25, 29, 46; Prov 16:14).

12 Let a bear robbed of her whelps meet a man, rather than a fool in his folly.

“bear robbed of her whelps” – sure to attack you and rip you open (see 2 Sam 17:8; Hos 13:8; cf the raging of the fool in 29:9).

13 Whoso rewardeth evil for good, evil shall not depart from his house.

“rewardeth evil for good” – like Nabal, who refused to pay David’s men (1 Sam 25:2; see Ps 109:5; Rom 12:17-21).

“Evil shall not depart from his house” – the fate of David’s family after his affair with Bathsheba and the murder of Uriah (2 Sam 12:10; cf, Jer 18:20-23).

14 The beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water: therefore leave off contention, before it be meddled with.

15 He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the LORD.

“justifieth the wicked” – perhaps because of a bribe.

16 Wherefore is there a price in the hand of a fool to get wisdom, seeing he hath no heart to it?

“price in the hand of a fool” – perhaps to pay the fee for his schooling.

17 A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

“friend loveth at all times” – Cf, David’s friendship with Jonathan (2 Sam 1:2; see 18:24; Ruth 1:16; 1 Cor 13:4-7).

18 A man void of understanding striketh hands, and becometh surety in the presence of his friend.

19 He loveth transgression that loveth strife: and he that exalteth his gate seeketh destruction.

“He loveth transgression that loveth strife” – A hot-tempered man commits many sins (29:22).  Or “gate” (Lit “opening”) in this context may be a figure for the mouth (‘he who opens his mouth wide”), meaning “he brags too much” and so “seeketh destruction,” including his own.

20 He that hath a froward heart findeth no good: and he that hath a perverse tongue falleth into mischief.

21 He that begetteth a fool doeth it to his sorrow: and the father of a fool hath no joy.

22 A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.

23 A wicked man taketh a gift out of the bosom to pervert the ways of Judgment.

“taketh a gift” – receives a bribe.

24 Wisdom is before him that hath understanding; but the eyes of a fool are in the ends of the earth.

“are in the ends of the earth” – he chases fantasies and is interested in everything except wisdom (see 12:11; cf, Deut 30:11-14).

25 A foolish son is a grief to his father, and bitterness to her that bare him.

26 Also to punish the just is not good, nor to strike princes for equity.

“punish the just” – see v 15.

“strike princes” – cf the beating and disgrace endured by Jeremiah (Jer 20:2; see v 10).

27 He that hath knowledge spareth his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit.

“spareth his words” – see 10:19.

“an excellent spirit” – not a “hot-tempered” person.

28 Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.

“a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise” – a fool who keeps quiet does not expose his lack of wisdom.  Cf, Job’s sarcastic comment in Job 13:5.