Proverbs 25

Proverbs of Solomon from the Collection of the Men of Hezekiah[a]

These are some other proverbs of Solomon that were transcribed by the men of King Hezekiah of Judah:

Chapter 25

These are some other proverbs of Solomon that were transcribed by the men of King Hezekiah of Judah:

God, the King, and the People[b]

2 To keep something secret is the glory of God,
but to have it searched out is the glory of kings.
3 Like the heavens in height and the earth in depth,
the heart of a king is unfathomable.[c]
4 If you remove the dross from silver,
it emerges completely purified.
5 If you remove the wicked from the king’s presence,
his throne will be founded on righteousness.
6 [d]Do not push yourself forward in the king’s presence
or take a place where the great assemble.
7 For it is better to be told, “Come up closer,”
than to be humiliated in the presence of the prince.

Observations and Recommendations[e]

8 What your eyes have witnessed,
do not hastily testify to at the trial;
for what will you do at the end
when your neighbor puts you to shame?
9 Argue your case with your neighbor
but do not disclose another’s secret,
10 for fear your listener will reproach you
and your reputation will be irretrievably damaged.[f]
11 Like apples of gold inlaid with silver
are words that are aptly spoken.
12 Like a gold ring or a necklace of fine gold
is a wise man’s rebuke to an attentive ear.
13 Like the coolness of snow at the time of harvest
is a faithful messenger to those who dispatch him;
he revives the spirit of his masters.
14 Like clouds and wind that bring no rain[g]
is the one who boasts of gifts that are never given.
15 A ruler may be won over by patience,
and a gentle tongue can break bones.
16 If you find honey, eat only enough to satisfy you,
for if you consume too much, you will vomit it up.
17 Do not enter too frequently into your neighbor’s house
lest he become tired of you and begin to hate you.
18 Like a club or a sword or a keen arrow
is one who bears false witness against a neighbor.
19 Like a decaying tooth or a lame foot
is trust in a faithless man on the day of trouble.
20 Like one who takes away clothing on a cold day,
like one who dresses a wound with vinegar,
is one who sings songs to a grieving heart.[h]
21 [i]If your enemy is hungry, give him something to eat;
if he is thirsty, offer him something to drink.
22 By doing so you will heap fiery coals upon his head,
and the Lord will reward you.
23 The north wind produces rain,
and a backbiting tongue causes angry looks.
24 It is better to live on the corner of a roof
than to share a spacious house with a nagging wife.[j]
25 Like cold water to a thirsty throat
is good news from a distant land.
26 Like a muddy spring or a polluted well
is a righteous man who trembles before the wicked.
27 It is not good to eat too much honey,
neither is it honorable to seek one’s own honor.
28 Like a city that has been breached and made defenseless
is the man devoid of self-control.

Footnotes

  1. Proverbs 25:1 The kingdom of the North disappeared in 721 B.C. with the fall of Samaria; only the southern kingdom, the Kingdom of Judah remained. Hezekiah was the first to preside over the latter’s destiny after the great catastrophe in the North. He left behind him the memory of a founder and organizer (2 Ki 18–20; 2 Chr 29–32). One of his undertakings was to assemble at Jerusalem the writings that Israel already possessed, those of the North as well as those of the South. With the help of the scribes, who were the educated people of the time, he organized a kind of national library. At that time some proverbs were collected as they stood; these, no doubt, form the main block in this part of the Book. Later on, scribes transcribing and commenting on this collection must have added further sayings. Together with chapters 10–22, to which it is related by content and style, this collection is the oldest part of the present Book of Proverbs. In general, the sayings remain without order; once or twice, however, the authors have tried to group together some proverbs that are concerned with the same theme. Accordingly, we will suggest simply a few points that merit attention.
  2. Proverbs 25:2 Since the prince is held in great esteem by his subjects, above all he is expected to be just.
  3. Proverbs 25:3 The heart of a king is unfathomable: i.e., it cannot be understood—like the four things in Prov 30:18-19—yet God has control over a king’s heart (see Prov 21:1).
  4. Proverbs 25:6 Jesus spoke of a similar situation and called for humility (see Lk 14:10).
  5. Proverbs 25:8 In these varied sayings, one will find many considerations about human relations: trials, the true word, fidelity. There is also a less current idea that recommends going to the aid of enemies (vv. 21-22), which is cited by Paul in Rom 12:20 to inculcate love of enemies; the coals may signify the remorse that leads to repentance.
  6. Proverbs 25:10 Your reputation will be irretrievably damaged: an honorable name is more precious than great wealth (see note on Prov 22:1).
  7. Proverbs 25:14 Clouds . . . that bring no rain: this image is applied by the New Testament to those who bear no fruit (see Jude 12).
  8. Proverbs 25:20 The bitterness of suffering is increased because of a neighbor’s insensitivity.
  9. Proverbs 25:21 These two verses are quoted by Paul (see Rom 12:20) as expressing a way to overcome evil with good (see also Prov 20:22).
  10. Proverbs 25:24 We have already seen this pessimistic saying in Prov 21:9.

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