Proverbs 20:11
Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(11) Even a child is known by his doings . . .—The disposition soon shews itself; all the more reason, therefore, to train it betimes.

Proverbs 20:11. A child is known by his doings — Children discover their inclinations or dispositions by their childish speeches and carriages, as not having yet learned the art of dissembling: whether his work be, or rather, will be, pure — That is, the future disposition and conduct of a man may be very probably conjectured from his childish manners.

20:7. A good man is not liable to uneasiness in contriving what he shall do, or in reflecting on what he has done, as those who walk in deceit. And his family fare better for his sake. 8. If great men are good men, they may do much good, and prevent very much evil. 9. Some can say, Through grace, we are cleaner than we have been; but it was the work of the Holy Spirit. 10. See the various deceits men use, of which the love of money is the root. The Lord will not bless what is thus gotten. 11. Parents should observe their children, that they may manage them accordingly. 12. All our powers and faculties are from God, and are to be employed for him. 13. Those that indulge themselves, may expect to want necessaries, which should have been gotten by honest labour. 14. Men use arts to get a good bargain, and to buy cheap; whereas a man ought to be ashamed of a fraud and a lie. 15. He that prefers true knowledge to riches, follows the ways of religion and happiness. If we really believed this truth, the word of God would be valued as it deserves, and the world would lose its tempting influence. 16. Those ruin themselves who entangle themselves in rash suretiship. Also those who are in league with abandoned women. Place no confidence in either. 17. Wealth gotten by fraud may be sweet, for the carnal mind takes pleasure in the success of wicked devices; but it will be bitter in the reflection. 18. Especially we need advice in spiritual warfare. The word and Spirit of God are the best counsellors in every point. 19. Those dearly buy their own praise, who put confidence in a man because he speaks fairly. 20. An undutiful child will become very miserable. Never let him expect any peace or comfort. 21. An estate suddenly raised, is often as suddenly ruined. 22. Wait on the Lord, attend his pleasure, and he will protect thee.The graces or the faults of children are not trifles. "The child is father of the man;" and the earliest actions are prophecies of the future, whether it will be pure and right, or unclean and evil. 11. The conduct of children even is the best test of principle (compare Mt 7:16). Even a child is known by his doings; young children discover their inclinations or dispositions even by their childish speeches and carriages, as not having yet learnt the art of dissembling.

Whether his work be pure; or rather, will be pure; for it is not expressed in the Hebrew, and therefore may be either way supplied. The sense is, The future disposition and conversation of a man may very probably be conjectured from his childish manners.

Even a child is known by his doings,.... As well as a man; "ye shall know them by their fruits", Matthew 7:16; professors and profane. So a child soon discovers its genius by its actions; it soon shows its inclination and disposition; and some shrewd guesses may be made how it will turn out, a wise man or a fool, a virtuous or a vicious man; though this does not always hold good, yet something may be observed, which may be a direction to parents in the education of their children, and placing them out to what is proper and suitable for them. Some observe, that the word has a quite contrary meaning, that "a child carries himself a stranger by his doings" (e); so that he is not known by them: he so conceals and disguises himself, he acts so fraudulently and deceitfully, and plays the hypocrite, and puts the cheat on men, that they cannot tell what he is, nor what he will be; and if children can thus dissemble, as not to be known by their actions, then much more grown persons;

whether his work be pure, and whether it be right; not what his present work is, or actions are, but what his later life and conversation will be; which in some measure may be judged of, though not with certainty and exactness; see Proverbs 22:6; especially when he acts a covert and deceitful part.

(e) "ignotus erit", i.e. "non facile cognoscitur", Vatablus; so R. Joseph Kimchi; "simulat se alium esse", Gussetius, p. 413. "dissimulatorem agit", Schultens.

Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
11. is known] or, maketh himself known; betrays his true character, and gives presage of “his (life’s) work.” Comp. the familiar German proverb, “Was ein Dörnchen werden will spitzt sich bei Zeiten,” Lange.

Verse 11. - Even a child is known (maketh himself known) by his doings. (For "even" (gam), see on Proverbs 17:26.) A child is open, simple, and straightforward in his actions; he has not the reserves and concealments which men practise, so you see by his conduct what his real character and disposition are. Ewald takes מעלליו in the sense of "play," "games;" but it seems never to have this meaning, and there is no need to change the usual signification. The habits of a life are learned in early age. The boy is father of the man. Delitzsch quotes the German proverbs, "What means to become a hook bends itself early," and "What means to become a thorn sharpens itself early;" and the Aramaean, "That which will become a gourd shows itself in the bud:" Whether his work be pure ("clean," as ver. 9 and Proverbs 16:2), and whether it be right. His conduct will show thus much, end will help one to prognosticate the future. Septuagint (according to the Vatican), "In his pursuits (ἐπιήδευμασιν) a young man will be fettered in company with a holy man, and his way will be straight," which seems to mean that a good man will restrain the reckless doings of a giddy youth, and will lead him into better courses. Proverbs 20:1111 Even a child maketh himself known by his conduct,

     Whether his dispostion be pure and whether it be right.

If מעלל may be here understood after the use of עולל, to play, to pass the time with anything, then גּם neht refers thereto: even by his play (Ewald). But granting that מעולל [children], synon. with נער, had occasioned the choice of the word מעלל (vid., Fleischer on Isaiah 3:4), yet this word never means anything else than work, an undertaking of something, and accomplishing it; wherefore Bttcher proposes מעוּליו, for מעלוּל may have meant play, in contradistinction to מעלל ot noitcni. This is possible, but conjectural. Thus gam is not taken along with b'amalalav. That the child also makes himself known by his actions, is an awkward thought; for if in anything else, in these he must show what one has to expect from him. Thus gam is after the syntactical method spoken of at Proverbs 17:26; Proverbs 19:2, to be referred to נער (also the child, even the child), although in this order it is referred to the whole clause. The verb נכר is, from its fundamental thought, to perceive, observe from an ἐναντιόσημον: to know, and to know as strange, to disown (vid., under Isaiah 3:9); the Hithpa. elsewhere signifies, like (Arab.) tankkar, to make oneself unknowable, but here to make oneself knowable; Symmachus, ἐπιγνωρισθήσεται, Venet. γνωσθήσεται. Or does the proverb mean: even the child dissembles in his actions (Oetinger)? Certainly not, for that would be a statement which, thus generally made, is not justified by experience. We must then interpret 11b as a direct question, though it has the form of an indirect one: he gives himself to be known, viz., whether his disposition be pure and right. That one may recognise his actions in the conduct of any one, is a platitude; also that one may recognise his conduct in these, is not much better. פּעל is therefore referred by Hitzig to God as the Creator, and he interprets it in the sense of the Arab. khulk, being created equals natura. We also in this way explain יצרנוּ, Psalm 103:14, as referable to God the יצר; and that poal occurs, e.g., Isaiah 1:31, not merely in the sense of action, but also in that of performance or structure, is favourable to this interpretation. But one would think that poal, if thus used in the sense of the nature of man, would have more frequently occurred. It everywhere else means action or work. And thus it is perhaps also here used to denote action, but regarded as habitual conduct, and according to the root-meaning, moral disposition. The N.T. word ἕργον approaches this idea in such passages as Galatians 6:4. It is less probable that 11b is understood with reference to the future (Luther and others); for in that case one does not see why the poet did not make use of the more intelligible phrase אם זך וישׁר יהיה פעלו. It is like our (Germ.) proverb: Was ein Haken werden will krmmt sick bald what means to become a hook bends itself early; or: Was ein Drnchen werden will spitzt sich bei Zeiten

(Note: A similar comparison from Bereschith Rabba, vid., Duke's Rabbin. Blumenlese, p. 126.)

[what means to become a thorn sharpens itself early], and to the Aram. בוצין בוצין מקטפיה ידיע equals that which will become a gourd shows itself in the bud, Berachoth 48a.

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