Proverbs 25:1 ¶ These are also proverbs of Solomon, which the men of Hezekiah king of Judah copied out.
This verse indicates that these proverbs accredited to Solomon were added at a later date to the book he wrote.
Chuck Smith: “As Hezekiah began to reign, there was a real spiritual revival, and it was a national movement among the people. And as is true in all spiritual revivals, there is an interest, a concern and a returning to the Word of God….And so Hezekiah’s scribes began to search for the Word of God, search for the scriptures. And they found these proverbs and they added them to the book of Proverbs.”
Ironside: “We now begin a portion that did not form any part of this book until the days of Hezekiah, nearly three centuries after the death of Solomon himself. Certain unnamed scribes, called in the Septuagint “the friends of Hezekiah,” rescued from oblivion the maxims that form the next five chapters.”
Guzik: “1Kings 4:32 tells us that Solomon spoke three thousand proverbs. Even with Hezekiah’s addition, not all of them are contained in the Book of Proverbs.”
Proverbs 25:2 ¶ It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter.
Proverbs 25:3 The heaven for height, and the earth for depth, and the heart of kings is unsearchable.
Verse 2 has come to mind many times in my study of the scripture. I am not a king or queen, but I am a child of The King, so I am of royal birth. I believe it is my privilege and honor to search out the truths that are hidden in the word of God.
As the King of kings, God has the honor of choosing what to reveal or conceal concerning anything. I believe that when He reveals that He is concealing something, it is because it is not yet beneficial for His subjects to know. That is why we see Him instructing Daniel to seal his book and telling him that it was for the people that would be living in end times. That is why we see Jesus teaching in parables and Paul revealing mysteries in God’s timing.
I liked the NLT version of verse 3: “No one can discover the height of heaven, the depth of the earth, or all that goes on in the king’s mind!”
Guzik: “There are many mysteries in the universe, both material and spiritual mysteries. There are many things God has concealed, and this is one expression of His glory. It is one of God’s ways to say, ‘You are amazed by what you see; yet what you don’t see, what I have concealed, is even greater.’”
Clarke: “Prophecies are partially concealed; and we cannot fully know their meaning till their accomplishment; and then the glory of God's wisdom and providence will be more particularly evident, when we see the event correspond so particularly and exactly with the prediction. I know not, however, that there are not matters in the Book of God that will not be fully opened till mortality is swallowed up of life. For here we see through a glass darkly; but there, face to face: here we know in part; but there we shall know as we also are known.”
Proverbs 25:4 ¶ Take away the dross from the silver, and there shall come forth a vessel for the finer.
Proverbs 25:5 Take away the wicked from before the king, and his throne shall be established in righteousness.
The dross is the waste matter that is separated from the pure silver in the refining process. The silversmith is only interested in using pure silver for his creations.
In the same way, a king whose subjects, especially his advisors, are devoid of wickedness will be able to establish a rule of righteousness before the LORD.
Ironside: “The same principle abides in regard to the coming kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ. The wicked will be destroyed and all the transgressors rooted out of the land when He returns in triumph to usher in the great day of the Lord.”
Proverbs 25:6 ¶ Put not forth thyself in the presence of the king, and stand not in the place of great men:
Proverbs 25:7 For better it is that it be said unto thee, Come up hither; than that thou shouldest be put lower in the presence of the prince whom thine eyes have seen.
In these verses, Solomon counsels us to be humble. You should never assume a place of honor when in the presence of the king. It is far better to be called up to take a place of honor than to be asked to take a lower position.
I am reminded of the words of Jesus that affirm this counsel.
Luke 14:8–11 “When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him; And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room. But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee. For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”
Proverbs 25:8 ¶ Go not forth hastily to strive, lest thou know not what to do in the end thereof, when thy neighbour hath put thee to shame.
Proverbs 25:9 Debate thy cause with thy neighbour himself; and discover not a secret to another:
Proverbs 25:10 Lest he that heareth it put thee to shame, and thine infamy turn not away.
In these verses Solomon advises us against making a hasty decision to go to court when in dispute with a neighbor; you might end up being embarrassed. It is much better to try to settle the matter between you privately. Neither should you share with others what was decided between you in private. If you do, you will get labeled as a gossip, a reputation that is hard to get rid of. infamy = slander, evil report
Proverbs 25:11 ¶ A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.
A word that is spoken at the right time for the right purpose in the right way is a beautiful thing. Solomon compares it to a picture of golden apples in a silver bowl. As the bowl highlights the beauty of the apples, the fitly spoken word highlights the inner beauty of the person.
Proverbs 25:12 As an earring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold, so is a wise reprover upon an obedient ear.
In the same way, a wise word of reproof to one who is willing to listen and obey is as valuable as a piece of fine gold jewelry.
Proverbs 25:13 ¶ As the cold of snow in the time of harvest, so is a faithful messenger to them that send him: for he refresheth the soul of his masters.
Gathering the harvest is a time of hard work in the heat; the coldness of the snow would be refreshing to the harvesters. A messenger that can be counted upon to accomplish the task given him gives pleasure to his master.
Interesting historical note from Clarke: "That snow was frequent in Judea, is well known; and that in the East they have snow-houses - places dug under ground, where they lay up snow for summer use - is also a fact. By means of the mass of snow deposited in them the icy temperature is kept up, so that the snow is easily preserved. The common method of cooling their wine, which is as easy as it is effectual, is by dipping a cloth in water, wrapping it round the bottle, and then hanging the bottle in the heat of the sun. The strong evaporation carries off the caloric from the wine, and the repetition of the wet cloth in the same exposure, makes the wine almost as cold as ice.”
Proverbs 25:14 ¶ Whoso boasteth himself of a false gift is like clouds and wind without rain.
Again, I liked the NLT: “A person who doesn’t give a promised gift is like clouds and wind that don’t bring rain.”
Neither meets expectation and are a source of disappointment.
Ironside: “Jude refers to this passage in regard to those who profess to be gifted as teachers of the truth of God, but who in reality have nothing for the souls of their hearers. It is common to see men who are self-confident and positive about their abilities and spiritual insight, but who possess no true godly discernment.”
Proverbs 25:15 ¶ By long forbearing is a prince persuaded, and a soft tongue breaketh the bone.
I think the NLT has it right: “Patience can persuade a prince, and soft speech can crush strong opposition.”
The Hebrew for the word “bone” makes reference to strength. It is wise to understand that it takes patience and diplomacy to persuade one with power and authority to your way of thinking.
This proverb goes hand-in-hand with another: Proverbs 15:1 “A soft answer turneth away wrath….”
Proverbs 25:16 ¶ Hast thou found honey? eat so much as is sufficient for thee, lest thou be filled therewith, and vomit it.
This verse states a great principle as observed by Aesop, “It is possible to have too much of a good thing.” Maybe he had read Solomon’s writings.
In America today, we have many options available to satisfy our appetite. And I can tell you from experience that eating too much “good food” will make you ill. Of course, what we often call good food is not actually that good for you. In this verse the reference is to honey, a food that is truly good for you in moderate amount.
Proverbs 25:17 ¶ Withdraw thy foot from thy neighbour’s house; lest he be weary of thee, and so hate thee.
In other words, don’t overstay your welcome when visiting someone. That will make people dread seeing you coming.
Proverbs 25:18 ¶ A man that beareth false witness against his neighbour is a maul, and a sword, and a sharp arrow.
Telling lies about some else is just as hurtful as attacking them with a mallet/club/shammer, sword or sharp arrow. You may not see an outer wound, but the inner wound is just as harmful. It can result in ruined reputations or in wrongful conviction of an innocent person that could even result in their death.
Ironside: “Nothing is harder for a wounded spirit and a sensitive soul than to endure untrue accusations. It is natural to the human heart to display indignation against the false accuser, and a determination to clear oneself or take revenge. But to go on, looking to God for grace to live so that all will see the falsity of the charge; to commit the keeping of my reputation to Him who permitted the trial for my humbling; to admit the righteousness of God’s ways as I reflect on the many occasions on which I have dishonored His name-these are healthful exercises indeed. This is how I am kept from taking things into my own hand.”
Guzik quoting Bridges: “The tongue wounds four people at one stroke. The person harms himself, the object of his attack, anyone who listens to his words, and the name of God. Flee from this deadly disease.”
Proverbs 25:19 ¶ Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a broken tooth, and a foot out of joint.
Putting confidence in an unfaithful person in a time of trouble is like depending on the use of a broken tooth or a broken foot. It’s not going to help you; in fact, it will probably result in harming you.
Proverbs 25:20 ¶ As he that taketh away a garment in cold weather, and as vinegar upon nitre, so is he that singeth songs to an heavy heart.
It’s obvious that taking away someone’s coat in cold weather makes one more uncomfortable. Nitre is an acid, and adding vinegar would make it bubble. The Hebrew for singing songs referenced a strolling minstrel. I couldn’t really put it all together, but what Ironside said made sense: “In ancient Palestine nitre was a native mineral soda that would foam when put in contact with an acid. To take away a person’s coat in cold weather would add to his discomfort and arouse his indignation, even as vinegar poured on soda would effervesce. In the same way one who sings light frivolous songs to him who is of a heavy heart only increases his distress and causes his anger to be stirred.”
Making the connection to frivolous songs made sense in light of the reference to a strolling minstrel.
On a personal note, I find appropriate songs of encouragement that focus on God’s goodness and purposes to be encouraging and uplifting when I am of a heavy heart.
Guzik: “Some people and their actions are especially troublesome. They bring discomfort (like leaving one without a garment in cold weather) and constant agitation (like vinegar on soda).”
Proverbs 25:21 ¶ If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink:
Proverbs 25:22 For thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the LORD shall reward thee.
Another of many verses that I often hear repeated. The more natural response would be to ignore the plight of one’s enemy or even rejoice in it. Solomon recognized that showing kindness to one’s enemy will earn the LORD’s favor. To heap coals of fire on his head is probably a reference to causing him to burn red with shame.
Leviticus 19:18 “…thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.”
Wise observation from Ironside: “Vengeance should be far from the thoughts of the saint. He is to show grace and compassion even to his enemies, losing no opportunity to minister to their need. By so doing, the fire of love will soften their angry feelings. The Lord will reward the one who imitates his Master, who said, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). It would be the greatest incongruity for one who was himself the object of loving grace to attempt to seek revenge.”
Proverbs 25:23 ¶ The north wind driveth away rain: so doth an angry countenance a backbiting tongue.
My first thoughts upon reading this proverb were that an angry countenance would be a deterrent to someone with a backbiting or slanderous tongue. So, I assumed that the north wind would drive away rain. Ironside agreed.
Ironside: “But there is no surer way to encourage the backbiter than by listening to his tales. If met by an angry countenance and reproved in the fear of God, the malicious gossip might often be nipped in the bud.”
However, the wording of the King James is different from many other translations that say that the north wind brings the rain. I started searching for scientific evidence to help me out, but much of it seemed contradictory as well. The north wind is said to bring cold stormy weather, but it is also said to drive away the rain coming up from the south.
Trapp: “The north wind drives away rain.” Hence Homer calls it αιθρηγενουτην, the fair weather maker, and Jerome the air’s besom. There is a southerly wind that attracts clouds and engenders rain.
“besom” - a broom, anything which sweeps away or destroys (Webster)
Job seems to support Homer and the KJV (and me): Job 37:22 “Fair weather cometh out of the north: with God is terrible majesty.”
Proverbs 25:24 ¶ It is better to dwell in the corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman and in a wide house.
This verse mirrors 21:9. In bible times, the roofs of homes were like additional rooms of the house. Solomon is saying that it is better to live alone in a corner of the roof than to live in a spacious house with a woman (female, wife) that constantly quarrels and causes discord in the family.
Proverbs 25:25 ¶ As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country.
Cold water is certainly refreshing to one who is thirsty, and to receive good news from afar would be refreshing as well. I know this from personal experience.
Obviously, the ultimate “good news” is the gospel!
Proverbs 25:26 ¶ A righteous man falling down before the wicked is as a troubled fountain, and a corrupt spring.
Solomon compares a righteous man that yields to the temptation to sin to a fountain or spring that gives polluted or spoiled water. His testimony is now muddied, and it will take work to clean it up again. Important truth to remember: It’s much easier to tarnish or destroy one’s testimony than to clean it up or build it up again.
Guzik: “Instead of the clarity and life-giving property of clean, clear water; a compromised life is like a dirty pool. It gives no life, no clarity, no refreshment, and no help. It only frustrates the purpose of water in that context.”
Proverbs 25:27 ¶ It is not good to eat much honey: so for men to search their own glory is not glory.
I liked the wording of the NIV: “It is not good to eat too much honey, nor is it honorable to seek one’s own honor.”
Both honey and honor are good things. To eat too much honey makes one sick. To seek out your own honor is a sign of obsession; it is not good for you. It leads to inappropriate pride. We should be seeking to bring honor to God. Honor that we attain in such a pursuit is healthy and will bring one joy.
Matthew 5:16 “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
1 Corinthians 10:31 “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”
Proverbs 25:28 ¶ He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.
The person who lacks self control is as vulnerable to attack and destruction as a city that is vulnerable and without walls.
Ironside: “Even when one is clearly in the right, nothing so negatively influences his case as losing control of his temper and uttering heated, hasty words. Others are prone to forget the minor points of the evidence at such a time and to judge by the spirit demonstrated.”
Guzik quoting Bridges: “Certainly the noblest conquests are gained or lost over ourselves. The first outbreak of anger resulted in murder. A king’s lack of watchfulness about lust resulted in adultery.”