Proverbs 17:22

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.
– Proverbs 17:22

The word for merry means glad, or joyful. The word for medicine means a cure, or healing. The word for heart generally means the mind as elsewhere in Proverbs. Our state of mind affects the state of our bodies (Proverbs 14:30). This can be reflected in more severe cases of dealing with diseases, but also in ongoing cases of poor health. There is “a time to laugh” (Ecclesiastes 3:4), in other words, a time and place for lightheartedness. The lifting of spirits can come in various ways, but it is beneficial (Proverbs 12:25; 15:13; 18:14). Fat bones are an image of health and vitality (Proverbs 3:8; 15:30; 16:24). Dry bones are obviously the opposite picture.

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Proverbs 15:15

All the days of the afflicted are evil: but he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast.
– Proverbs 15:15

The word for afflicted means depressed, as in mind or circumstances. The word for evil means bad or painful. The parallelism makes plain the state of the afflicted comes from the state of the heart (Proverbs 15:13; 17:22). The word for merry means good and agreeable. This is reinforced by continual feast, which points to sustained pleasure and delight. The hint here is that even our experiences are affected by our state of mind and outlook (Proverbs 16:22). We might say to the miserable, everything is miserable, and to the happy, everything is happy.

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Proverbs 15:13

A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.
– Proverbs 15:13

The word for heart is often used in Proverbs and refers primarily to the mind, but the word does mean more generally the inner being of man, involving mind, emotions, will, etc. For cheerful countenance we might say a happy face. The phrase means the inner thoughts and attitudes of a man affects his state of happiness (Proverbs 15:15; 18:14). The word for sorrow in the contrasting phrase means pain or injury. Just as cheerful can point to healthy, sorrow can point to wounded. The thoughts of pain, or dwelling on injury, could also point to harboring bitterness. The effect is to crush the spirit (Proverbs 12:25; 17:22).

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