Proverbs 25:4

Take away the dross from the silver, and there shall come forth a vessel for the finer.
– Proverbs 25:4

Continuing the theme of kings and counselors, verse 4 provides a metaphor for the point of verse 5. Removing dross from silver is a reference to refining or purifying the metal (Proverbs 17:3). The Hebrew wording has some difficulties, as noted by various commentators, but the point is clear. The presence of dross in the silver ruins the vessel, or makes it worthless.

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Proverbs 25:3

The heaven for height, and the earth for depth, and the heart of kings is unsearchable.
– Proverbs 25:3

This verse uses a triplet that likens three things as being unsearchable. The point of the comparison is to focus on the heart of kings. The word for unsearchable is related to the word for search out in the previous verse, which ties the verses together thematically. The heaven for height and the earth for depth are essentially unfathomable and are put for something not fully knowable. The wisdom here is teaching servants and courtiers to be cautious in presuming to know the full mind of a king, or in being overconfident of his favor (Proverbs 16:14; 20:2; 24:21-22).

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Proverbs 25:2

It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honor of kings is to search out a matter.
– Proverbs 25:2

Verses 2-7 form the first saying and it deals with kings and counsellors. Verse 2 is a parallelism that compares and contrasts God and kings. The two phrases have the same Hebrew word at the beginning, translated glory and honor. The same Hebrew word is at the end of the phrases, translated as thing and matter. The middle of the phrases parallel with differences—God and kings, and conceal and search out. The word for glory and honor means weight, or heaviness. It can refer to a great quantity or majesty. The word for conceal means to hide, while the word for search out means to penetrate, or investigate. Because God has all wisdom, he keeps secret counsels (Deuteronomy 29:29). The glory of kings is lesser and derivative, but it is manifest in seeking counsel and investigating a matter fully (Deuteronomy 13:14; Proverbs 11:14; 15:22; 24:6).

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Proverbs 25:1

The next collection of proverbs in this book is a collection of Solomon’s proverbs compiled by court officers serving King Hezekiah. This collection begins in Proverbs 25:2 and runs through 29:27. The collection has over one hundred proverbs, which are a looser, multi-line form. The collection has many similes where one thing is compared with something of a different kind. Though not having any apparent overall structure or theme, many of the proverbs have to do with public, civil life.

Chapter 25 begins this collection with proverbs alternating between positive (do this) sayings and negative (do not do this) sayings. The proverbs treat various topics, such as, kings and courts, speech, faithfulness, persistence, etc.

These are also proverbs of Solomon, which the men of Hezekiah king of Judah copied out.
– Proverbs 25:1

Verse 1 introduces the collection and marks it from the others, as is common in Proverbs (Proverbs 1:1; 10:1; 22:17; 24:23; 25:1; 30:1; 31:1). The word for copied out means to move. It is uncertain what all was involved, but the court officers of Hezekiah in some way acted as curators of Solomon’s proverbs and compilers, at least of this section.

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Proverbs 24:34

So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth; and thy want as an armed man.
– Proverbs 24:34

Verse 34 concludes the sayings with the ultimate conclusion of the wise observation. The “slothful” one who is “void of understanding” and always needing “a little sleep” will come to poverty in the end. The image is of being surprised and waylaid by a robber. From the sluggard’s perspective, he will one day wake up and wonder what has happened. Sloth cannot obtain and cannot keep what has been obtained (Proverbs 10:4; 13:4).

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Proverbs 24:33

Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep:
– Proverbs 24:33

Verses 33 and 34 give the conclusions from observing the “field of the slothful.” The sluggard is anchored to his bed (Proverbs 26:14). Sometimes it is an indulgence in sleep and sometimes it is a putting things off (Proverbs 12:27; 20:4). The wise man asks, “How long” (Proverbs 6:9)? The sluggard is also “void of understanding” and cannot be reasoned with (Proverbs 26:16).

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Proverbs 24:32

Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked upon it, and received instruction.
– Proverbs 24:32

The word for considered it well means to set the mind to. The word for instruction means discipline, correction, and instruction. The previous verse described the scene and this verse describes the sage. Growing in wisdom means growing in discernment to discern between good and evil in the real world (Hebrews 5:14). The instructions of wisdom are used to evaluate reality around us.

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Proverbs 24:31

And, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down.
– Proverbs 24:31

This verse describes the property of “the slothful … man void of understanding.” The field is overgrown and the boundary wall is broken down. Laziness and negligence lead to greater difficulty (Proverbs 15:19), greater expense (Proverbs 18:9), and greater frustration (Proverbs 10:26). The sluggard does not have eyes in his head to understand the world he lives in. All you have inherited, or all you have worked for, will be ruined by simply doing nothing (Ecclesiastes 10:18).

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Proverbs 24:30

I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding;
– Proverbs 24:30

Verses 30-34 conclude this appendix of more sayings of the wise with a life lesson from the sluggard. The passage parallels Proverbs 6:6-11 in ways. The sayings of the wise have already addressed working wisely (Proverbs 24:27). Proverbs consistently points to wisdom as the necessary foundation of any good life. In other words, wisdom is first (Proverbs 4:7). Get wisdom, build your house, and then it will be filled with good things (Proverbs 3:5-10; 24:4). Short-term wealth may be gained, but without wisdom, it will not be kept (Proverbs 6:11; 20:21; 28:22).

The owner of the field is identified as “slothful” and “void of understanding.” These characteristics are apparent from the condition of the property under his management. This section is immensely practical and shows how wisdom gains discernment to perceive character and draw lessons from life experiences.

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