Proverbs 27:19
As in water face answers to face, so the heart of man to man.
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(19) So the heart of man (answereth) to man.—What is in our own hearts we find in others also. Whatever are the distinguishing features of our own characters we discover and elicit the same in others. The merciful, the generous, the devout, the pure, recognise the same qualities in others, and themselves feel and receive sympathy from such persons. So the evil, too, find themselves in harmony with those of like disposition.

Proverbs 27:19. As in water face answereth to face — 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 not only in the regard of the corruption of nature, which is alike in all men, but also with respect to the tempers and dispositions of their minds, wherein likewise they frequently agree. Dr. Grey thinks the verse should be rendered, “As the water showeth the face to the face, so doth the heart the man to the man.” In which sense Castalio seems to have understood it, paraphrasing it thus: “As a man may know what kind of a face he hath if he will look into the water, so he may know what kind of a man he is if he will examine his conscience.” Another interpretation, adopted by some, is, “A man may see himself, while he looks upon other men, as well as know other men, by considering himself, and that as certainly as he can see his own face in the water, or in any other mirror;” there being little or no difference between one man and another by nature, but the difference being made by the grace of God.27:15,16. The contentions of a neighbour may be like a sharp shower, troublesome for a time; the contentions of a wife are like constant rain. 17. We are cautioned to take heed whom we converse with. And directed to have in view, in conversation, to make one another wiser and better. 18. Though a calling be laborious and despised, yet those who keep to it, will find there is something to be got by it. God is a Master who has engaged to honour those who serve him faithfully. 19. One corrupt heart is like another; so are sanctified hearts: the former bear the same image of the earthly, the latter the same image of the heavenly. Let us carefully watch our own hearts, comparing them with the word of God. 20. Two things are here said to be never satisfied, death and sin. The appetites of the carnal mind for profit or pleasure are always desiring more. Those whose eyes are ever toward the Lord, are satisfied in him, and shall for ever be so. 21. Silver and gold are tried by putting them into the furnace and fining-pot; so is a man tried by praising him. 22. Some are so bad, that even severe methods do not answer the end; what remains but that they should be rejected? The new-creating power of God's grace alone is able to make a change. 23-27. We ought to have some business to do in this world, and not to live in idleness, and not to meddle with what we do not understand. We must be diligent and take pains. Let us do what we can, still the world cannot be secured to us, therefore we must choose a more lasting portion; but by the blessing of God upon our honest labours, we may expect to enjoy as much of earthly blessings as is good for us.As we see our own face when we look on the mirror-like surface of the water, so in every heart of man we may see our own likeness. In spite of all diversities we come upon the common human nature in which we all alike share. Others see in the reference to the reflection in the water the thought that we judge of others by ourselves, find them faithful or the reverse, as we ourselves are. 19. We may see our characters in the developed tempers of others. 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. As in water face answereth to face,.... As water is as a looking glass, in which a man may behold his own face and another's; or as the face in the water answers to the face of a man, and there is a great likeness between them. All things through water appear greater, as Seneca (m) observes, and so more clear and plain;

so the heart of man to man; one man's heart may be seen and discerned in some measure by another, as by his countenance; for though, as the poet (n) says, "frontis nulla fides", yet the countenance is often the index of the mind, though not an infallible one; wrath and anger in the breast may be seen in the face, as were in Cain's; thus Jacob saw some resentment at him in the mind of Laban, and judged he had some design of mischief against him by the change of his countenance; also what is in the heart of man is discerned by what comes out of it, by his words, and also by his actions; yea, a man may know in a good measure what is in another man's heart, by what he finds in his own: the word of God is a glass, or medium of vision, and like water, in which a man's face is seen, through which a man sees his own heart; the law is a glass, in which an enlightened person sees not only the perfections of God, the nature of righteousness, but also his sin, and the sinfulness of it; this glass mother magnifies nor multiplies his sins, but sets them in a true light before him, by which he discerns heart sins, and sees and knows the plague of his heart; and the Gospel is a glass, wherein he beholds the glory of Christ, sees and can discern whether Christ is formed in him, and he has the grace of the Spirit of God wrought in his soul, as faith, hope, love, repentance, humility, self-denial, &c. moreover, as the face seen in the water is similar to a man's face, so the hearts of men are alike, not merely in a natural sense, see Psalm 33:15; but in a moral and spiritual sense the hearts of unregenerate men are alike, and answer to each other; for they are all equally corrupted, one and depraved; the heart of every man is desperately wicked; the imaginations of the thoughts of the hearts or wicked men, one and all of them, are only evil, and that continually; their affections are inordinately the same, they love and hate the same persons and things; their minds and consciences are all defiled; their understandings are darkened; their wills are averse to that which is good, and bent on that which is evil: and so the hearts of good men are alike; they have all one heart and one way given them; their experiences agree as to the work of grace and conversion; they are all made sensible of sin, the evil of it, and danger by it; they are all brought off of their own righteousness, and are led to Christ to depend on him alone for righteousness, pardon, and eternal life; they are partakers of the same promises in the Gospel, and have the same enemies to grapple with, and the same temptations, trials, and exercises from sin, Satan, and the world; and they have the same things put into their hearts, the laws of God, the doctrines of Christ, and the several graces of the Spirit of Christ; so that there cannot be a greater likeness between a man's face and that seen in the water, than there is between the heart of one saint and another; the hearts of Old and New Testament saints, and of all in all ages and places, answer to one another. The Targum paraphrases it to a sense quite the reverse,

"as waters and as faces which are not like one to another, so the hearts of the children of men are not like one to another;''

and to the same sense are the Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic versions.

(m) Nat. Quaest. l. 1. c. 6. (n) Juvenal. Satyr. 2. v. 8.

As in water face answereth to face, {h} so the heart of man to man.

(h) There is no difference between men by nature, only the grace of God makes the difference.

19. in water] This rendering of A.V., which is retained in R.V. text, gives a good and pregnant meaning: As truly as the face seen in the water resembles the face of which it is the reflection, so truly does the heart of one man correspond to that of another in all the essential features of our common nature.

There is, however, another rendering, supported by many competent authorities and adopted in R.V. marg., viz.:

As water sheweth face to face,

So the heart sheweth man to man.

The meaning then will be that the heart, like the water, is the medium by which we behold the image of our fellow man, the mirror in which we see his character. He is to us what our heart makes him. We judge of others by ourselves. A sordid nature or ruffled temper, like turbid or unsettled water, will give a broken and distorted image: it cannot conceive the idea of true generosity or genuine worth. On the other hand a pure heart will give to its possessor a true perception not only of man but of God Himself (St Matthew 5:8).Verse 19. - As in water face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man; Vulgate, Quomodo in aquis resplendent vultus prospicientium, sic corda hominum manifesta sunt prudentibus. As in clear water the face of the gazer is reflected, so man finds in his fellow man the same feelings, sentiments, passions, which he has himself. He sees in others the likeness of himself; whatever he knows himself to be, he will see others presenting the same character. Self-knowledge, too, leads to insight into others' minds; "for what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him?" (1 Corinthians 2:11). There is a solidarity in human nature which enables us to judge of others by ourselves. The difficulties in the construction and wording of the sentence do not affect the interpretation. They are, however, best met by rendering, with Delitzsch, "As it is with water, face corresponds to face, so also the heart of man to man." Septuagint, "As faces are not like faces, so neither are the thoughts of men;" which is like the saying of Persius, 'Sat.,' 5:52 -

"Mille hominum species, et rerum discolor usus;
Velle suum cuique est, nec voto vivitur uno."
ערום alliterates with ערב.

Take from him the garment, for he hath become surety for another,

And for the sake of a strange matter put him under bonds.

equals Proverbs 20:16, vid., there. נכריּה we interpret neut. (lxx τὰ ἀλλότρια; Jerome, pro alienis), although certainly the case occurs that one becom

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