Book 4 Chapters 25-29
Verse 1 identifies these Proverbs as Solomon’s as copied by the men of King Hezekiah. King Hezekiah was king in the time of the Prophet Isaiah in the late eighth century BC. It was a time of the destruction of the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the flight of Samaria’s religious men to Jerusalem. In the five chapters of this section are divided into two parts. Chapters 25-27 are more focused on secular matters, such as good manners and correct behavior. Chapters 28-29 are more religious in subject matter.
Verses 2-7 talk about the kingship. The monarchy is treated extensively in the book of Proverbs. Most of the sayings are favorable to the king. Verse 2 states that kings have a special gift for understanding mysteries. In verse 3 it is taken for granted that kings have superior wisdom. Verses 4-5 compare refining silver as taking wicked persons from the presence of the king. Silver is not ready for the silversmith until the dross has been taken out and the king can do his work only when evil has been removed from his presence. Verses 6-7 admonish humility in the presence of the king. Jesus used this example in Luke 14:8-11.
Verses 8-10 warns against rushing in litigation against ones neighbor. The passage begins making the sensible statement that it is better to settle the disagreement with the neighbor privately verse 11-15 relates to using the power of words appropriately. Words bear messages. A word fitly spoken is a beautiful ornament. Verse 12 states that one who listens to a wise reprove has received a beautiful gift. Trustworthiness in giving messages is a refreshing as a cold snow in the heart of autumn. In verse 14 the thought is turned around that one who makes rash promises that he never makes good on is like the promise of rain that never comes. In verse 15 we see the virtue of gentle speech. “And a soft tongue breaks the bone,” is a picture of the power of speech. In calm and gentle words there is power.
Verse 16 talks of moderation and self-control. Too much of a good thing is a bad thing. In Verse 17 we see practical advice on getting along with your neighbor. Do not make a pest of yourself. Many close relationships are ruined by too much closeness. In verse 18 we see the destruction of a lying neighbor. And verse 19 warns against trusting a man who is inconsistent and undependable. The Proverbs means that one cannot depend on a bad tooth that will break off. One who “sings songs to a troubled heart” is insensitive to the other’s condition. Songs of joy and a heavy sadness are contradictive. It would be the same as cold weather for a coatless man.
Verses 21-22 speaks of how to respond to an enemy. The Proverb begins with a noble challenge but ends on a sour note of pragmatism. “And the LORD will reward you.” is an appeal to gain the Lord’s favor by kindness towards an enemy. The Apostle Paul quotes this Proverb in Romans 12:20. In verse 23 we see a metaphor to teach that certain behavior will bring certain consequences. Backbiting always produces anger from the victim.
Verse 26 is a comparison of the spoiling of a good man by the pollution of the wicked. To see a good man corrupted is a sad thing to see. It is as a good stream being polluted. Verse 27 is a lesson that we should not flatter or over compliment a person. Verse 28 gives the advice that if one loses their self-control they have left themselves defenseless. Self-control is a good virtue.