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Proverbs: Chapter 25

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Text view alone

1These are other proverbs of Solomon that the officials of King Hezekiah of Judah copied.

2

It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out. 3 Like the heavens for height, like the earth for depth, so the mind of kings is unsearchable. 4 Take away the dross from the silver, and the smith has material for a vessel; 5 take away the wicked from the presence of the king, and his throne will be established in righteousness. 6 Do not put yourself forward in the king's presence or stand in the place of the great; 7 for it is better to be told, “Come up here,” than to be put lower in the presence of a noble.

What your eyes have seen 8 do not hastily bring into court; for a Gk Compare Syr Tg: Heb A wise man is strength what will you do in the end, when your neighbor puts you to shame? 9 Argue your case with your neighbor directly, and do not disclose another's secret; 10 or else someone who hears you will bring shame upon you, and your ill repute will have no end.

11

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver. 12 Like a gold ring or an ornament of gold is a wise rebuke to a listening ear. 13 Like the cold of snow in the time of harvest are faithful messengers to those who send them; they refresh the spirit of their masters. 14 Like clouds and wind without rain is one who boasts of a gift never given. 15 With patience a ruler may be persuaded, and a soft tongue can break bones. 16 If you have found honey, eat only enough for you, or else, having too much, you will vomit it. 17 Let your foot be seldom in your neighbor's house, otherwise the neighbor will become weary of you and hate you. 18 Like a war club, a sword, or a sharp arrow is one who bears false witness against a neighbor. 19 Like a bad tooth or a lame foot is trust in a faithless person in time of trouble. 20 Like vinegar on a wound b Gk: Heb do not associate with those who change is one who sings songs to a heavy heart. Like a moth in clothing or a worm in wood, sorrow gnaws at the human heart. c Cn: Heb or else 21 If your enemies are hungry, give them bread to eat; and if they are thirsty, give them water to drink; 22 for you will heap coals of fire on their heads, and the LORD will reward you. 23 The north wind produces rain, and a backbiting tongue, angry looks. 24 It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a contentious wife. 25 Like cold water to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country. 26 Like a muddied spring or a polluted fountain are the righteous who give way before the wicked. 27 It is not good to eat much honey, or to seek honor on top of honor. 28 Like a city breached, without walls, is one who lacks self‐control.

Notes:

c Gk Compare Syr Tg: Heb A wise man is strength

a Gk: Heb do not associate with those who change

a Cn: Heb or else

Text Commentary view alone

25.1–29.27 : Another sayings collection.

25.1 ::

Officials of King Hezekiah are scribes of this famous king of Judah in the late eighth to early seventh century BCE; copied probably refers to the editing and arranging of sayings. 2–3: Like God, the king questions but cannot be questioned.

4–5 :

For the metaphor of refining metals, see also 27.21–22 .

6–7 :

See Sir 7.4; 13.10 .

7c–10 :

A caution against rash accusations. Shame, See 5.14n.

11 :

A goal of the sages: right and timely expressions (cf. 15.23 ).

15b :

A “fitly spoken” paradox (cf. 15.4; Sir 28.17–18 ).

18 :

See 19.5n.

21–22 :

Coals of fire, in an Egyptian ritual perhaps known to the biblical sages, submitting to coals on the head demonstrated contrition. The sense here seems to be that undeserved kindness awakens the remorse and hence conversion of the enemies; cf. 24.17–18 .

24 :

See 21.9.

26 :

Muddied spring, the comparison is to livestock trampling and otherwise fouling the clear water.

26.1–12 : Concerning fools and their folly.

4–5 :

Juxtaposing the two sayings provokes reflection on their competing claims. Depending on the circumstances, one might interpret according to their folly to mean “in fools’ terms” (v. 4 ) or “as fools deserve” (v. 5 ).

7 :

A fool is by definition unable to benefit from a proverb.

8 :

The sling is used to hurl objects; to fasten a stone defeats the purpose.

9 :

The expression may indicate uselessness (cf. vv. 7–8 ), or the use of a proverb in a hurtful way.

13–16 :

The lazy person.

13 :

A ridiculous excuse; a lion is not likely to appear in the city streets and squares (cf. 22.13 ).

15 :

See 19.24n.

17–28 :

A loose collection on the consequences of various forms of antisocial speech and behavior.

22 :

See 18.8n.

27 :

A kind of “poetic justice” (cf. Ps 7.15; Eccl 10.8; Sir 27.25–27 ).

27.4 :

Who is able? A rhetorical question, implying the answer, “no one” (cf. 18.14 ).

6 :

Profuse, false, in contrast to well meant discipline imposed by a friend.

7b :

A paradox, as in 25.15b .

10 :

Line b is explained by lines c–d.

13 :

see 6.1–5 .

14 :

The proper or improper timing of an act significantly determines its nature; see Eccl 3.1–8 .

15–16 :

See 19.13–14n.

20 :

For Sheol and Abaddon, See 15.11n.

21 :

Cf. 17.3 , where it is the LORD who tests.

23–27 :

This short poem can be read as practical advice on tending flocks and herds (see 12.10; Sir 7.22 ). In light, however, of the crown mentioned in v. 24 and the widespread ancient image of the king as shepherd (e.g., 1 Kings 22.17; Ps 23.1; Isa 44.28 ), it may also contain implicit royal advice.

28.3 :

Rain that leaves no food, when grain is ripe for harvest, a hard rain can ruin the crop (cf. 26.1 ).

4 :

The law, Heb “torah” (cf. vv. 7,9; 29.18 ), the term can designate both the sage's teaching (e.g., 3.1 ), and the LORD's revealed law, or Torah.

5 :

See 29.7n.

8 :

By the principle of retribution, the oppressor should not be allowed to profit (cf. 13.22; 14.31; 19.17; Ex 22.25 ).

14 :

For the form of the saying, See 3.13n.

21 :

For a piece of bread, bribery is at issue here (cf. 18.5; 24.23b ).

29.7 :

See 28.5 . Wisdom literature often associates evil with a failure to perceive the true nature of things.

9 :

With fools, it is impossible to conduct a reasonable dispute (see 26.4 ).

13 :

Cf. 22.2 .

18 :

Prophecy, lit. vision (see 1 Sam 3.1); law, See 28.4n.

24 :

Partner of a thief, not an actual accomplice, but someone with knowledge of the crime who discloses nothing (see Lev 5.1 ).

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