William Kelly Major Works Commentary
Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.Proverbs Chapter 27
The group of counsels before us in chapter 27: 1-6 is levelled at self-confidence, which takes the place of dependence on God, the first principle of the life of faith which the enemy seeks to annul, whether for earth, in Messiah's kingdom by-and-by, or for heaven as with Christians. Yet we need also to be on guard against folly and ill feeling, and to welcome the plain truth as real kindness.
"Boast not thyself of tomorrow, for thou knewest not what a day may bring forth.
"Let another praise thee and not thine own mouth, a stranger and not thine own lips.
"A stone [is] heavy and the sand weighty; but a fool's vexation [is] heavier than them both.
"Wrath [is] cruel, and anger outrageous; but who [is] able to stand before jealousy?
"Open rebuke [is] better than hidden love.
"Faithful [are] a friend's wounds; but an enemy's kisses are profuse." vv. 1-6.
Very vivid is the word in Jam 4:13-16 in its appeal to beware of similar boasting. "Go to now ye that say, To-day and to-morrow we will go into this city and spend a year there, and trade and make gain, yet that know not what [shall be] on the morrow. What [is] your life? For ye are a vapour, appearing for a little while, and then vanishing away; instead of your saying, If the Lord will, and we live, we shall also do this or that. But now ye glory in your boastings: all such glorying is evil." In these moral matters both the Old Testament and the New bring in the Lord to judge and displace self.
Then again the Old Testament saint knew quite enough of his failure and of his need of sovereign grace to banish high thoughts of himself, and to attribute every right word to God. How inconsistent to sound his own praise! how becoming to be silent as to any good on his part. If a stranger praised him, it was more than he deserved. Here too the New Testament reveals the truth more deeply in Christ for lowliness of mind, esteeming one another as more excellent than ourselves, not as a sentiment but as a living truth of faith.
There is however the other side to try our hearts. We can not, ought not regard "a fool's vexation" with complacency, but feel its grievous impropriety. "A stone is heavy, and the sand weighty," little as its particles be. But that, groundless as it is, exceeds both in its dead weight and intolerable unbecomingness.
Nor has one to face before God such frivolous complaints only, but also the cruelty of wrath and the outrageousness of anger; for surely the sun ought not to set on either outburst or reserve in this way. But there is another evil feeling still more unworthy and dangerous: "Who is able to stand before jealousy?" Let us look up for grace to value anything good in another, and the more if conscious that we claim not that particular good ourselves. To allow jealousy in ourselves, or to let others insinuate it, is to give room to the great enemy.
It is the property of real love, to prove its activity; if it abide hidden when called to speak or work according to the heart, it betrays self rather than true affection. Even if there is a faultiness, love is bound to give "open rebuke." Indifference passes for much in this world, but it is the reverse of love, and cares for self, when it hides to spare danger and yet pretends affection.
A friend's wounds, on the contrary, are faithful, for God's will is thus done, even though misunderstood and resented for a while. An enemy betrays himself by the very profuseness of his kisses. God is not in such a display, but too often no more than partisanship in a human cause.
The group before us in verses 7-13 pursues the warning against dangers from our own selves, as well as from without.
"The full soul trampleth on (or, loatheth) a honeycomb; but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.
"As a bird that wandereth from her nest, so [is] a man that wandereth from his place.
"Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart; so the sweetness of a man's friend from hearty counsel.
"Thine own friend, and thy father's friend, forsake not; and go not to thy brother's house in the day of thy calamity: better [is] a neighbour near than a brother far off.
"My son, be wise, and make my heart glad, that I may answer him that reproacheth me.
"A prudent [man] seeth the evil [and] hideth himself; the simple pass on [and] suffer for it.
"Take his garment that is surety for a stranger, and hold him in pledge [that is surety] for a strange woman."
Whatever be the means of one who fears God, self-indulgence is unworthy of one who now lives in a scene where we have the poor always with us, and many and sudden reverses to call forth special compassion. What a lesson for the Christian when on the two occasions the Lord fed the multitude miraculously, it was on barley loaves and small fishes. How far from show or appetizing! And the prayer taught the disciples to ask for "sufficient bread." The full soul is unworthy of His name, and the honeycomb he loathes convicts him of following the Lord of glory afar off. It is happy when one is hungry enough to relish every bitter thing put before us by our God and Father.
When God pronounced Cain a fugitive and a vagabond because he slew his righteous and accepted brother, well for him to have heeded the word of the Lord, but there is no such call for one ordinarily. The family is the place appointed as the rule in the world as it is. Even the bird owns the attraction of her nest. Wandering from either is a picture of wretchedness.
God has constituted the earth and man, that the very desert does not refuse to produce unguent and perfume, which singularly refresh the heart when depressed, not merely there but in lands where abundance reigns. But no less sweet-is the hearty counsel from one's friend.
Yet more should one make of one's own friend, of one's father's friend also, in a world of forgetfulness. Nevertheless, in the day of one's calamity, it is unwise to rush for sympathy, even to one's brother. A neighbour near one is apt to prove better than a brother afar off. Claim irritates; love is free and holy.
When a son walks wisely, what joy to a parent's heart! It is the best answer to the reproach which watchfulness must expect from such as are lax.
Prudence sees evil beforehand and hides from it; the simple is blind, goes forward and suffers.
None should become surety unless he be prepared to lose; and this, true in case of a man, is still more dangerous for a strange woman.
Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips.
A stone is heavy, and the sand weighty; but a fool's wrath is heavier than them both.
Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?
Open rebuke is better than secret love.
Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.
The full soul loatheth an honeycomb; but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.
As a bird that wandereth from her nest, so is a man that wandereth from his place.
Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man's friend by hearty counsel.
Thine own friend, and thy father's friend, forsake not; neither go into thy brother's house in the day of thy calamity: for better is a neighbour that is near than a brother far off.
My son, be wise, and make my heart glad, that I may answer him that reproacheth me.
A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished.
Take his garment that is surety for a stranger, and take a pledge of him for a strange woman.
He that blesseth his friend with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, it shall be counted a curse to him.
A continual dropping in a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike.
Whosoever hideth her hideth the wind, and the ointment of his right hand, which bewrayeth itself.
Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.
Whoso keepeth the fig tree shall eat the fruit thereof: so he that waiteth on his master shall be honoured.
As in water face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man.
Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.
As the fining pot for silver, and the furnace for gold; so is a man to his praise.
Though thou shouldest bray a fool in a mortar among wheat with a pestle, yet will not his foolishness depart from him.
Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds.
For riches are not for ever: and doth the crown endure to every generation?
The hay appeareth, and the tender grass sheweth itself, and herbs of the mountains are gathered.
The lambs are for thy clothing, and the goats are the price of the field.
And thou shalt have goats' milk enough for thy food, for the food of thy household, and for the maintenance for thy maidens.