Proverbs 25:10

Lest he that heareth it put thee to shame, and thine infamy turn not away.
– Proverbs 25:10

Verse 10 gives the consequence of being hasty to contend with someone. Particularly, the verse continues the thought from verse 9 and revealing a “secret to another.” The word for shame means to bow and, in the context, refers to being reproached. The word for infamy means slander. The warning means you will be brought to disgrace and gain reputation as a slanderer. Of course, the answer to avoid this was given in the previous verse, “Debate thy cause with thy neighbor himself” (Proverbs 25:9).

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Proverbs 25:9

Debate thy cause with thy neighbor himself; and discover not a secret to another:
– Proverbs 25:9

Verse 9 continues from verse 8, which warned against being hasty to confront or accuse your neighbor. Wisdom here teaches to keep the controversy as private as possible, which principle Jesus taught in Matthew 18:15-17. The word for debate means to strive, or contend. It refers to taking up a cause or complaint with another. The word for discover means to expose. The point wisdom is teaching is to go directly to the person involved and not enter into the gossip of telling another about the matter (Proverbs 11:13; 20:19).

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Proverbs 25:8

Go not forth hastily to strive, lest thou know not what to do in the end thereof, when thy neighbor hath put thee to shame.
– Proverbs 25:8

Verses 8-10 form a saying concerning resolving conflict and reconciling offenses. The context can be from private, interpersonal concerns to public, legal matters. As such, wisdom has much to say here to the maintaining of personal relationships in family and community and discipleship within a church body. Wisdom generally teaches our spoken words are to be few, thoughtful, and slow to come (Proverbs 10:19; 12:23; 15:28; 17:27; 18:2; 21:23; 29:20). Wisdom here speaks specifically to entering into controversies with your neighbor. The warning begins with avoiding haste, or being quick or in a hurry to strive, which means to grapple or wrangle. This striving could be accusing your neighbor for some offense against yourself or another, or even the giving of general advice or rebuke for his way. Wisdom is not saying these should never be done, but rather they should never be done hastily. There is an appropriate time, place, and way to address your neighbor.

The consequence of such hasty contention is being put … to shame. In other words, if you speak hastily to your neighbor over a matter, you most likely speak without full knowledge or understanding. Your neighbor answers exposing your folly for speaking before you understood the matter fully (Proverbs 18:13). Robert Deffinbaugh noted three reasons wisdom give for restraining our speech, which are applicable in our case of not being hasty to enter a controversy. We must be slow to speak “in order to hear what the other person is trying to say (Proverbs 18:13, 15, 17).” We must be slow to speak “in order to allow any anger or strong emotion to pass (Proverbs 12:16; 15:1-2; 17:27; 29:11).” We also must be slow to speak to give “the wise time to consider what to say and how to say it (Proverbs 15:28).” 1

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Notes:

  1. Robert Deffinbaugh. The Way of Wise (Kindle Locations 2289-2300). Galaxie Software. Kindle Edition.

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.
– Proverbs 25:7

Humility and patience are better than promoting oneself and later being humiliated. The king or prince determines the places of their people. If you grasp for a higher place, you will likely be shamed when someone higher in standing arrives and you must give place to him. Jesus alluded to these wisdom principles in Luke 14:8-10. At first glance, the proverb may seem mere helpful advice to avoid social embarrassment. With further reflection, wisdom teaches there are more important matters than one’s social standing, whether real or perceived.

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Proverbs 25:6

Put not forth thyself in the presence of the king, and stand not in the place of great men:
– Proverbs 25:6

Verses 6-7 continue the theme of kings and courtiers. The presence of the king in this verse obviously continues the link with the previous. These two verses form a better-than saying concerning humility. To be put … forth or stand … in the place of great men is to be promoted. The warning here is against self-promotion, as wisdom elsewhere teaches is distasteful (Proverbs 25:27; 27:2). Since the “heart of kings is unsearchable” and therefore their favor never secure, caution and discipline are advised (Proverbs 23:1-8).

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Proverbs 25:5

Take away the wicked from before the king, and his throne shall be established in righteousness.
– Proverbs 25:5

The word for take away means to remove, and it begins both verse 4 and verse 5. Removing the dross from silver in the previous verse results in a pure and valuable vessel. Likewise, removing wicked counselors from before the king results in an established throne (Proverbs 16:12; 20:28; 29:14). The implication of the verse is that wicked counselors will ruin the righteousness of a rule by perverting justice in one way or another. Wisdom teaches the necessity of wise counselors (Proverbs 15:22; 20:18), but also warns against wicked counsel (Proverbs 12:3, 19).

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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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