Proverbs 25:19

Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a broken tooth, and a foot out of joint.
– Proverbs 25:19

The word for unfaithful means covering, or deceitful. The images of a broken tooth and foot out of joint depict pain as well as uselessness. The saying reveals it is worse than futile to trust in a treacherous man. It is painful, or damaging.

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Proverbs 25:18

A man that beareth false witness against his neighbor is a maul, and a sword, and a sharp arrow.
– Proverbs 25:18

Verses 18-20 are a group of verses with a loose connection rather than a more formal, topical one. These sayings use vivid imagery and you could loosely group them together around the theme of unreliability. This verse warns of the danger of a false witness. False witnesses are compared to a maul, a sword, and a sharp arrow. These are all deadly weapons designed to inflict damage, pain, and even death. False witness is likewise a deadly weapon and the wielder is not trustworthy.

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Proverbs 25:17

Withdraw thy foot from thy neighbor’s house; lest he be weary of thee, and so hate thee.
– Proverbs 25:17

Verse 17 is related to verse 16. The same Hebrew word is used in both verses and translated “filled” in verse 16 and “weary” in verse 17. This verse could be thought of as an application of verse 16. Just as too much honey is a problem, so is too much company. The word for withdraw means to make rare and the instruction is aimed at the friend who visits the house too much. We might say, don’t wear out your welcome. Such imposition can ruin a friendship, or at least sour a person’s opinion of you.

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Proverbs 25:16

Hast thou found honey? Eat so much as is sufficient for thee, lest thou be filled therewith, and vomit it.
– Proverbs 25:16

Verses 16-17 deal with moderation. The imagery of the saying is easily understandable. Consuming too much honey could lead to stomach sickness. Applications of this verse are numerous. There is a point of enough and going beyond it ruins rather than enhances the pleasure. We’ve all probably had the experience as a kid of gorging ourselves on some food or candy until we made ourselves sick. So we discover boundaries and limits are not limits of joy, but rather enhancers of joy and, therefore, gracious.

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Proverbs 25:15

By long forbearing is a prince persuaded, and a soft tongue breaketh the bone.
– Proverbs 25:15

This verse ends this group of proverbs concerning the right use of words. Wisdom highlights the value of patience and soft words. The word for soft means tender, or delicate. It can be used to speak of weakness, but it is elsewhere put against “wrath” and “grievous words” (Proverbs 15:1). It stands opposite of harsh and angry words. The image of breaking a bone refers to overcoming stiff opposition. Wisdom teaches patience and calm speech can pacify wrath (Proverbs 16:14).

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Proverbs 25:14

Whoso boasteth himself of a false gift is like clouds and wind without rain.
– Proverbs 25:14

The word for false means lie, or deception. The first phrase refers to promising something you cannot deliver. Wisdom denounces a deception to gain place or favor. The comparison is to clouds and wind without rain, the promise of a refreshing rain without the benefit of the actual rain. This imagery is used elsewhere in warnings against false teachers (2 Peter 2:17-19; Jude 1:12). Those teaching error can never deliver on their promises because: “Truth leads to freedom (John 8: 32), and error leads to bondage (2 Tim. 2: 25– 26). Truth saves (2 Thess. 2: 10); error destroys (2 Thess. 2: 11). Truth enlightens (Ps. 43: 3; Eph. 5: 9); error deceives (Prov. 12: 17; 2 Cor. 11: 13). Truth gives life (1 John 5: 20); error brings death (2 Sam. 6: 7).” 1

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Notes:

  1. Piper, John. A Peculiar Glory: How the Christian Scriptures Reveal Their Complete Truthfulness (Kindle Locations 1697-1699). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

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.
– Proverbs 25:13

The precise meaning of the image is treated variously by commentators, but the point of the proverb is clear from the last phrase. A faithful messenger is one who discharges his duty as appointed. There is a relation to the proverbs of speech in the sense that the messenger is faithful to relay the speech of his master. This would also be wise speech. The result is refreshing, or returning, the soul of his masters. Wisdom also contrasts the negative effects of an unfaithful messenger (Proverbs 13:17; 25:25; 26:6).

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Proverbs 25:12

As an earring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold, so is a wise reprover upon an obedient ear.
– Proverbs 25:12

This proverb is along the same line as the previous in considering the aptness of a fitting word. The image used continues to convey beauty, craftsmanship, and value in wise words. The word for reprover means to correct, or prove. Wisdom is not only found in the selection of words, but also in the right time and place for the speaking of them, and the right listener for them. The word for obedient means to hear with intelligence, or to give careful attention to. Wisdom knows when to speak and when to keep silent, particularly when it comes to reproof or instruction (Proverbs 1:8-9; 9:8; 15:5, 31-32; 27:5-6).

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Proverbs 25:11

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.
– Proverbs 25:11

Verses 11-15 are proverbs concerning the right use of speech. The words used in this verse are difficult. Translators have taken them differently as to their precise meaning. The phrase, a word fitly spoken, refers to balance and arrangement. The proverb speaks of well-ordered and appropriate words to the situation (Proverbs 15:23; 24:26). The image of the proverb suggests beauty of form, quality of work, and lasting value. Such is the wisely formed and wisely spoken apt word.

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