Proverbs 30:32
If you have done foolishly in lifting up yourself, or if you have thought evil, lay your hand on your mouth.
Jump to: BarnesBensonBICambridgeClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctGaebeleinGSBGillGrayHaydockHastingsHomileticsJFBKDKellyKJTLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWParkerPoolePulpitSermonSCOTTBWESTSK
(32) Lay thine hand upon thy mouth—i.e., be silent. Agur deprecates two things which may easily lead to a quarrel, arrogance and malice. He explains this in the next verse.

Proverbs 30:32. If thou hast done foolishly — “If thy pride or thy passion hath engaged thee in some foolish action, whereby thou hast disgraced thyself; or made thee contrive and endeavour any thing that is unwarrantable, do not add one fault to another, by excusing it, or blaming any body but thyself for it, much less by quarrelling at those that admonish thee of it, and reprehend thee for it; but stop at the first motion to this, and silently acknowledge thy error.” — Bishop Patrick.30:24-28. Four things that are little, are yet to be admired. There are those who are poor in the world, and of small account, yet wise for their souls and another world. 29-33. We may learn from animals to go well; also to keep our temper under all provocations. We must keep the evil thought in our minds from breaking out into evil speeches. We must not stir up the passions of others. Let nothing be said or done with violence, but every thing with softness and calmness. Alas, how often have we done foolishly in rising up against the Lord our King! Let us humble ourselves before him. And having found peace with Him, let us follow peace with all men.Lay thine hand upon thy mouth - The act expresses the silence of humiliation and repentance after the sin has been committed, and that of self-restraint, which checks the haughty or malignant thought before it has passed even into words. 32. As none can hope, successfully, to resist such a king, suppress even the thought of an attempt.

lay … hand upon thy mouth—"lay" is well supplied (Jud 18:19; Job 29:9; 40:4).

In lifting up thyself; either,

1. By rebellion or sedition against the king last mentioned. Or,

2. By anger or wrath, of which he speaks in the next verse. But this verse hath no necessary dependence either upon the foregoing or following verse. Or,

3. Through thy pride, which makes men carry themselves very foolishly, and scornfully, and injuriously, and is the root of contention, as was observed, Proverbs 13:10.

Thought evil, i.e. designed any mischief or injury against thy neighbour.

Lay thine hand upon thy mouth, to wit, to shut it. Be silent, as this phrase is used, Job 21:5 29:9. Restrain thyself, do not speak one word, much less do any thing tending to the accomplishment of it; do not open thy mouth to justify or excuse it, but silently and seriously consider the evil of it, and repent of it, and do so no more. If thou hast done foolishly in lifting up thyself,.... Against a king, against whom there is no rising up; by speaking evil of him, or rebelling against him; which is acting a foolish part, since it brings a man into troubles and difficulties inextricable; or by self-commendation, which is the height of folly, and the fruit of pride; or carried it in such a haughty and overbearing manner to others, as to provoke to wrath and anger;

or if thou hast thought evil; purposed and designed it, and contrived the scheme of doing it, though not yet put in execution; though folly is not actually committed, yet since the thought of it is rain, care should be taken to prevent it;

lay thine hand upon thy mouth: think again before the thing resolved on is done; as studious and thoughtful men put their hand to their mouth, when they are deeply considering any affair before them: or put a stop to the design, let it go no further; what has been thought of in the mind, let it never come out of the mouth, nor be carried into execution; stifle it in the first motion: or if this respects a foolish action done, as it also may, since it stands connected with both clauses, then the sense is, be silent; do not pretend to deny the action, nor to excuse it; nor to say one word in the defence of it; nor to lay the blame upon others; and much less to calumniate and reproach such who faithfully reprove for it; take shame to thyself in silence, and repent of the iniquity done. Aben Ezra thinks these words are said to Ithiel and Ucal; but rather, to any and everyone, to all that should hear and read these proverbs. The Targum is,

"do not lift up thyself, lest thou be foolish; and do not stretch out thine hand to thy mouth.''

If thou hast done foolishly in lifting up thyself, or if thou hast thought evil, lay thy hand {p} upon thy mouth.

(p) Make a stay and continue not in doing evil.

32. done foolishly … thought evil] Whether the evil has passed already into outward exhibition, or is still only in thought, check it promptly.

Lay thine hand upon thy mouth] Comp. Job 21:5; Job 29:9; Job 40:4, in all which places it denotes “a gesture of awe-struck silence.” Here it rather denotes severe self-restraint.

32, 33. The oracle of the sage closes with a practical admonition against strife and contention.Verses 32, 33. - Agur's last proverb, exhorting to discreet demeanour. Verse 32. - If thou hast done foolishly in lifting up thyself (Numbers 16:3). If thou hast had the folly to be arrogant, proud, and overbearing in conduct. Or if thou hast thought evil, lay thine hand upon thy mouth. The verb zamam, though possibly used in a bad sense, "to devise evil," is more suitably rendered "to meditate," "purpose;" so here it is the thought of lifting up one's self that is censured, the act and the thought being contrasted. Hast thou acted arrogantly, or even only meditated doing so, restrain yourself, keep silence (Job 21:5; Job 40:4). St. Jerome gives a different rendering, enforcing another lesson, "There is one who shows himself a fool after he is raised to high position; if he had had understanding, he would have laid his hand on his mouth." Septuagint, "If thou give thyself up to mirth, and stretch forth thy hand in a quarrel, thou wilt be dishonoured." Insensate mirth and a quarrelsome disposition alike lead to disgrace. St. Gregory ('Moral.,' 30:10) applies the Vulgate rendering to antichrist, "For he in truth will be lifted up on high, when he will feign that he is God. But he will appear a fool when lifted up on high, because he will fail in his very loftiness through the coming of the true Judge. But if he had understood this, he would have laid his hand on his mouth; that is, if he had foreseen his punishment, when he began to be proud, having been once fashioned aright, he would not have been raised up to the boastfulness of such great pride" (Oxford transl.). Another proverb with the cipher 4, its first line terminating in ארץ:

24 Four are the little things of the earth,

     And yet they are quick of wit - wise:

25 The ants - a people not strong,

     And yet they prepare in summer their food;

26 Conies - a people not mighty,

     And yet set their dwelling on the rocks;

27 No king have the locusts,

     And yet they go forth in rank and file, all of them together;

28 The lizard thou canst catch with the hands,

     And yet it is in the king's palaces.

By the disjunctive accent, ארבּעה, in spite of the following word toned on the beginning, retains its ultima-toning, 18a; but here, by the conjunctive accent, the tone retrogrades to the penult., which does not elsewhere occur with this word. The connection קטנּי־ארץ is not superlat. (for it is impossible that the author could reckon the שׁפנים, conies, among the smallest of beasts), but, as in the expression נכבּדּי־ארץ, the honoured of the earth, Isaiah 23:8. In 24b, the lxx, Syr., Jerome, and Luther see in מ the comparative: σοφώτερα τῶν σοφῶν (מחכמים), but in this connection of words it could only be partitive (wise, reckoning among the wise); the part. Pual מחכּמים (Theodotion, the Venet. σεσοφισμένα) was in use after Psalm 88:6, and signified, like בּשׁל מבשּׁל, Exodus 12:9, boiled well; thus חכמים מחכמים, taught wit, wise, cunning, prudent (cf. Psalm 64:7, a planned plan equals a cunningly wrought out plan; Isaiah 28:16, and Vitringa thereto: grounded equals firm, grounding), Ewald, 313c. The reckoning moves in the contrasts of littleness to power, and of greatness to prudence. The unfolding of the ארבעה [four] begins with the הנּמלים [the ants] and שׁפנּים [conies], subject conceptions with apposit. joined; 26a, at least in the indetermination of the subject, cannot be a declaration. Regarding the fut. consec. as the expression, not of a causal, but of a contrasted connection, vid., Ewald, 342, 1a. The ants are called עם, and they deserve this name, for they truly form communities with well-ordered economy; but, besides, the ancients took delight in speaking of the various classes of animals as peoples and states.

(Note: Vid., Walter von der Vogelweide, edited by Lachmann, p. 8f.)

That which is said, 25b, as also Proverbs 6:8, is not to be understood of stores laid up for the winter. For the ants are torpid for the most part in winter; but certainly the summer is their time for labour, when the labourers gather together food, and feed in a truly motherly way the helpless. שׁפן, translated arbitrarily in the Venet. by ἐχῖνοι, in the lxx by χοιρογρύλλιοι, by the Syr. and Targ. here and at Psalm 104 by חגס, and by Jerome by lepusculus (cf. λαγίδιον), both of which names, here to be understood after a prevailing Jewish opinion, denote the Caninichen


Proverbs 30:32 Interlinear
Proverbs 30:32 Parallel Texts

Proverbs 30:32 NIV
Proverbs 30:32 NLT
Proverbs 30:32 ESV
Proverbs 30:32 NASB
Proverbs 30:32 KJV

Proverbs 30:32 Bible Apps
Proverbs 30:32 Parallel
Proverbs 30:32 Biblia Paralela
Proverbs 30:32 Chinese Bible
Proverbs 30:32 French Bible
Proverbs 30:32 German Bible

Bible Hub

Proverbs 30:31
Top of Page
Top of Page