Matthew Poole's Commentary
Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.Counsel against self-conceitedness, Proverbs 27:1,2. The evil effects of envy, Proverbs 27:4. The praises of a faithful friend, Proverbs 27:5-10. The different fruits of prudence and folly, Proverbs 27:11,12. Sundry rules and cautions, Proverbs 27:13-21.
Of tomorrow; of any good thing which thou purposest to do or hopest to receive to-morrow, or hereafter; the thee being here put metonymically for things done or had in the thee, as Deu 4:32 Ecclesiastes 2:23. The same caution is given Jam 4:13, &c.
What a day may bring forth; what may happen in the space of one day, which may hinder thy designs or expectations. The day is said to bring forth what God by his almighty power and providence doth either cause or suffer to be brought forth or done in it.
Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips.Except it be really necessary, either for thy own just vindication, or for the honour of God, or for the edification of others, in which cases this hath been allowed and practised by wise and virtuous men, as particularly by St. Paul, 2 Corinthians 11:12.
A stone is heavy, and the sand weighty; but a fool's wrath is heavier than them both.Heavier; more grievous and intolerable, as being without cause, without measure, and without end.
Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?Envy is worse than both of them, partly, because it is more unjust and unreasonable, as not caused by any provocation, as wrath and anger are, but only proceeding from a malignity of mind, whereby a man is grieved for another man’s happiness, in which he should rejoice; partly, because it is more deeply rooted and implacable, whereas the other passions are commonly allayed; and partly, because it is more secret and undiscernible, and therefore the mischievous effects of it are hardly avoidable; whereas wrath and anger discover themselves, and so forewarn and forearm a man against the danger.
Open rebuke is better than secret love.Open rebuke, Heb. which is manifested or discovered, either,
1. Publicly and before others, when it is needful; in which case, though it put a man to some shame, yet it doth him good. Or,
2. Privately, and to the offender’s time, a plain and downright reproof.
Better; more desirable and beneficial.
Secret love; which lies hid in the heart, and doth not show itself by friendly actions, and particularly by free and faithful reproof, which is a principal end and benefit of friendship.
Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.Faithful are the wounds; they proceed from an upright, and truly loving, and faithful soul, and really promote the good of the person reproved. The wounds; the sharpest reproofs, which for the present wound his spirit and reputation.
The kisses; all the fair speeches and outward professions of friendship.
Are deceitful; or, are to be deprecated; are perfidious and pernicious, and such things as one may pray to God to be delivered from them. Or, are forced, like things which are procured with great difficulty, and many entreaties.
The full soul loatheth an honeycomb; but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.The full soul, a man whose appetite or desire (which is oft expressed in Scripture by the name of soul) is fully satisfied,
loatheth an honey-comb, the most delicious meats. The design of this proverb is to show the inconvenience that ofttimes attends upon plenty, and the advantage of poverty, that the rich might learn moderation, and the poor content.
As a bird that wandereth from her nest, so is a man that wandereth from his place.That wandereth from her nest; that flies very much abroad from place to place, whereby she is exposed to all the arts of fowlers, and to birds of prey, from which she is safe whilst she keeps her nest.
That wandereth from his place; that through vanity or lightness changeth the place of his abode, or his calling and course of life, the ill effects whereof have been frequently observed and noted, even in vulgar proverbs, as when we say, A rolling stone gathers no moss.
Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man's friend by hearty counsel.Rejoice the heart, by increasing and comforting the spirits. No less grateful and pleasant is the company and conversation of a true friend, in respect of his good and faithful counsel, which comes from his very heart and soul, and contains his most inward and serious thoughts, whereas deceitful persons give such counsels, not as they think to be best, but as most serve their lusts or designs.
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.Thy father’s friend, of whose friendship thou hast had long experience.
Neither go into thy brother’s house, to wit, for comfort and relief, and so as to forsake or neglect thy friend for him.
Better is a neighbour; the friend mentioned in the beginning of the verse, who hath showed himself to be a true and a good neighbour.
That is near; either,
1. In place by cohabitation. Or rather,
2. In affection, in which respect God is oft said to be near to the righteous, and far from the wicked.
My son, be wise, and make my heart glad, that I may answer him that reproacheth me.For being the father of a wicked son, as if I had either deserved him as a curse from God, or made him so by my example, or by the neglect of his education. See Ezekiel 16:44 1 Thessalonians 3:4.
A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished.This was delivered Proverbs 22:3, and is here repeated to enforce the foregoing exhortation, by representing the great advantage of wisdom.
Take his garment that is surety for a stranger, and take a pledge of him for a strange woman.Possibly this is here repeated as a part of the father’s counsel to his son, begun Proverbs 27:11, to avoid rash suretiship, to which young men are most prone, and by which they are exposed in the beginning of their days to many sins and miseries, which they carry with them to their graves.
He that blesseth his friend with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, it shall be counted a curse to him.He that blesseth his friend, that saluteth, or praiseth, and applaudeth him to his face, as the manner of flatterers is,
with a loud voice, that both he and others may be sure to take notice of it;
rising early in the morning to perform this office, to show his great forwardness, and diligence, and zeal in his service, which was the custom of the Romans afterward, and possibly of some of the Jews at this time;
it shall be counted a curse to him his friend will value this kind of blessing no more than a curse, because it plainly discovers a base design, and is a high reflection upon him, as if he either did not understand such gross and palpable flattery, or were so ridiculously vain-glorious as to be pleased with it.
A continual dropping in a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike.Are equally troublesome, the first not suffering a man to go abroad with comfort, the latter not permitting him to stay at home with quietness.
Whosoever hideth her hideth the wind, and the ointment of his right hand, which bewrayeth itself.Whosoever hideth her, i.e. attempts to smother or bridle her passion, that it may not break forth to her shame, and to his own discomfort and reproach,
hideth the wind; undertakes that which is impossible.
The ointment of his right hand; which being the great instrument of action, by its much stirring diffuseth the savour of it.
Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.Iron cutting tools are made bright, and sharp, and fit for use by rubbing them against the file, or some other iron. So a man, who being alone is sad, and dull, and unactive, by the company and conversation of his friend is greatly refreshed, his very wits are sharpened, and his spirit revived, and he is both fitted for and provoked to action.
The countenance is here put for the mind or spirit, whose temper or disposition is commonly visible in men’s countenances.
Whoso keepeth the fig tree shall eat the fruit thereof: so he that waiteth on his master shall be honoured.He mentions the fig tree, because they abounded in Canaan, and were more valued and regarded than other trees.
He that waiteth on his master, that serves him faithfully, prudently, and diligently,
shall be honoroured; shall receive that respect and recompence which he deserves.
As in water face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man.The sense is either,
1. As the image of a man’s face in the water answers to his natural face who looks into it; or, as in water one man’s face is like another’s, the difference of men’s faces being not there visible: so one man resembles another, either in the temper of his mind or body, in which many men are alike one to another; or in the corruption of his nature, in which all are alike. Or,
2. As a man may see his own face if he look into the water, which is nature’s looking-glass, or into any other looking glass; so a man may discern his own heart, if he look into those glasses whereby it discovers itself; if he examine his thoughts and inclinations, together with the general course of his actions. Or,
3. As the face of a man standing by the waters is visible not only to himself, but to others, by the shadow or image of it in the waters; so the heart of a man is in some measure discernible, not only to himself, but to others also, who observe his disposition and carriage.
Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.Hell and destruction are never full; the grave devours all the bodies which are put into it, and is always ready to receive and devour more and more without end.
The eyes, i.e. the desires, which work and discover themselves by the eyes, 1Jo 2:16, and other senses; for otherwise the eyes in themselves are neither capable of satisfaction nor of dissatisfaction.
As the fining pot for silver, and the furnace for gold; so is a man to his praise.As the fining pot for silver; is appointed and used for the trial of silver, and the detection and separation of the dross from it.
So is a man to his praise; or, according to his praise. The sense is, So a man is known by his praises; either,
1. By the quality of those who praise and applaud him; and as they are good or bad, so is he thought to be. Or,
2. By his carriage under praises; as he carries himself either humbly and modestly with thankfulness to God, and a due sense of his own infirmities, which is the case and temper of a good man; or ambitiously and vain-gloriously, taking to himself the honour which he should give to God, as ungodly men generally do in that case.
Though thou shouldest bray a fool in a mortar among wheat with a pestle, yet will not his foolishness depart from him.Not a natural, but a moral and wilful fool, who by long continuance in sin is hardened and stupefied, and so incorrigible under all the means of amendment.
Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds.To know the state of thy flocks; that thou mayst preserve and improve what thou hast, and take care that thine expenses may not exceed thine incomes.
Flocks and herds are here put for all riches and possessions, because anciently they were the chief part of a man’s riches.
Look well, Heb. set thine heart. Trust not wholly to thy servants, as many do, that they may give up themselves wholly to case and pleasure; but make rise of thine own eyes and reason for the conduct of thine affairs, lest thou come to ruin, as many have done by this very means.
For riches are not for ever: and doth the crown endure to every generation?Riches; or, treasure. The sense is, What thou dust now possess, or hast laid up, will not last always, but will soon be spent, if thou dost not take care to preserve and improve it.
The crown; by which he understands a condition of the greatest honour and plenty. If a man had the wealth of a kingdom, without provident care and due diligence it would quickly be brought to nothing. Hence the greatest kings have minded husbandry, as Solomon, Uzziah, and others.
The hay appeareth, and the tender grass sheweth itself, and herbs of the mountains are gathered.The hay appeareth, and the tender grass showeth itself, in their proper seasons. These things may be here mentioned, either,
1. As the matter of his diligence. Take care that thy hay and grass may be well managed, and seasonably gathered, for the use of thy cattle. Or rather,
2. As another argument and encouragement to diligence, because God invites thee to it by the plentiful provisions wherewith he hath enriched the earth for thy sake. Thou needest not compass sea and land for them, for God puts them into thy hand, if thou wilt but receive them.
Herbs of the mountains, even the most barren parts afford thee their help,
are gathered; or, are to be gathered, as such passive verbs are oft used; they are ripe and ready for the gathering. So this clause suits best with the former.
The lambs are for thy clothing, and the goats are the price of the field.The lambs are for thy clothing; by their wool and skins, either used to clothe thyself with or sold to purchase all manner of clothing for thyself and family.
The goats are the price of the field; by the sale whereof thou mayst either pay the rent of the field which thou hirest, or purchase fields or lands for thyself. Either goats are put for all cattle, or he mentions goats, because these might better be spared and sold than sheep, which brought a more certain and constant profit to the owner.
And thou shalt have goats' milk enough for thy food, for the food of thy household, and for the maintenance for thy maidens.Goats’ milk enough for thy food; or, if thou choosest rather to keep than to sell thy goats, the milk of them will serve thee for food to thyself, and to thy family. In ancient times men used a plain and simple diet, and neither knew nor used that curiosity and luxury in it which after-ages invented.
For thy maidens; who are named, because this nourishment was more proper for the weaker sex, whereas men required a stronger diet.