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Deeper Commentary

Pro 27:1
Don’t boast about tomorrow; for you don’t know what a day may bring forth-
This could be read in the Hezekiah context (see on Prov. 25:1) as commentary upon the boasts of the Assyrians to return to destroy Jerusalem after defeating the Ethiopians, and various other boasts about what they would do to Zion. In just one night, their army was destroyed.

Pro 27:2 Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips-
Solomon's hypocrisy is complete; for the praise of the "wise man" throughout Proverbs is effectively self praise. Perhaps his desire for praise from a stranger / foreigner was misused by Solomon in order to justify his Gentile girlfriend who praised him, according to the Song of Solomon. And perhaps this was likewise twisted by Hezekiah (see on Prov. 25:1) to justify his acceptance of the praise of the Babylonian ambassadors which was his spiritual undoing. See on :21.

Pro 27:3 A stone is heavy and sand is a burden; but a fool’s provocation is heavier than both-
GNB "The weight of stone and sand is nothing compared to the trouble that stupidity can cause". This is a Hezekiah Proverb (see on Prov. 25:1); the "provocation" of his son Manasseh led to the huge burden of judgment upon Judah (s.w. 2 Kings 23:26). Hezekiah's son clearly paid no attention to his father's proverbs. And what Hezekiah aims at others became true for his own family.  

Pro 27:4 Wrath is cruel and anger is overwhelming; but who is able to stand before jealousy?-
Solomon has much to say about the evil of jealousy / envy (e.g. Prov. 14:30; 23:17; 24:1,19; 27:4). But true as his condemnations of envy are, he surely has in mind the way that Ephraim envied Judah, and envied his throne (s.w. Is. 11:13). This all came to full term after his death, when Ephraim departed from Judah under Jeroboam. Again, Solomon is harnessing Divine truth to his own agenda of self justification. And we who claim to hold His truths must take warning. But as he faced death, he came to realize that all such envy is as nothing before the reality of death, which he understood as the end of life, as he had assumed this life was the time for reward and expresses no personal hope in a resurrection of the body (Ecc. 4:4; 9:6). 

Pro 27:5 Better is open rebuke than hidden love-
David had accepted rebuke and was open to it, notably from Nathan the prophet (Ps. 38:1; 141:5); and so again Solomon's Proverbs are true, but he harnesses them to the justification of himself and his father. But Solomon was only to remain the prophetic son of David if he accepted reproof (s.w. 2 Sam. 7:14); and he didn't. He refused to personalize his own wisdom, as we can.

Pro 27:6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend; although the kisses of an enemy are profuse-
As noted on :5, the allusion is to how David had accepted rebuke from Nathan, but had been betrayed by the kisses of Ahithophel, who was the great grandfather of Solomon, and who had turned against David. Again Solomon's Proverbs are true, but he harnesses them to the justification of himself and his father.

Pro 27:7 A full soul loathes a honeycomb; but to a hungry soul, every bitter thing is sweet-
This may be another connection with the parable of the prodigal son; see on :8. "Loathes" is 'tramples upon', a may be a critical comment upon how Saul had forbidden his men to eat anything, but Jonathan disobeyed and ate a honeycomb. All the time we observe Solomon's implicit criticism of his enemies.

Pro 27:8 As a bird that wanders from her nest, so is a man who wanders from his home-
But the Lord's parable of the prodigal son again seems to deconstruct Solomon's attitude here (see on :7); for all the same, the loving Father sought the return of such a man. LXX is even more appropriate to this: "As when a bird flies down from its own nest, so a man is brought into bondage whenever he estranges himself from his own place".

Pro 27:9 Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart; so does earnest counsel from a man’s friend-
This is true, but Solomon may again be using Divine truth to justify himself; for he had appointed the son of Nathan the prophet, loyal to David his father, as "the king's friend" (1 Kings 4:5).

Pro 27:10 Don’t forsake your friend and your father’s friend. Don’t go to your brother’s house in the day of your disaster: better is a neighbour who is near than a distant brother-
As noted on :6, this is true, but Solomon is clearly alluding to himself and his father. David's loyal friends such as Hushai (s.w. 2 Sam. 16:17) were the ones who established Solomon in power, whereas his own half brothers were competitors for his throne. 

Pro 27:11 Be wise, my son, and bring joy to my heart, then I can answer my tormentor-
The "tormentor" suggests a specific reference to the Assyrian / Hezekiah situation (Prov. 25:1). The idea was that the sons of the faithful would at that time would speak with the enemies in the gate (Ps. 127:5). We note that David wanted to answer his tormentors / reproachers by receiving God's grace (Ps. 119:41,42). Solomon instead wants to answer them by having a wise son. Again we see his lack of focus upon grace. LXX "And remove from thyself reproachful words".

Pro 27:12 A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge; but the simple pass on and suffer for it-
As noted on Prov. 25:1, these proverbs of Hezekiah are true, but tend towards his own self justification. Here the reference seems to be to the wise taking refuge within Jerusalem during the Assyrian invasion, whilst those who didn't were overrun and suffered.

Pro 27:13 Take his garment when he puts up collateral for a stranger-
The law of Moses didn't forbid giving or taking collateral for loans, it accepted this would happen (Ex. 22:25-27). But Solomon in the Proverbs is quite obsessed with forbidding it in very strong terms (Prov. 6:1-3; 11:15; 17:18; 20:16; 22:26; 27:13- all quite some emphasis). Perhaps Solomon recalled some bad experience in his family because of this. There is the otherwise curious statement in 1 Sam. 17:18 that David's brothers, Solomon's uncles, were to return a collateral. Perhaps this ruined the family and Solomon's wisdom has some human element in it, reflecting his own bad experiences in his family life. But there is nothing wrong with giving or taking collateral for a loan; what is condemned in God's law is the abuse of the debtor and the abuse of the situation. Indeed David and Hezekiah ask God to be collateral for their needs and debts in various ways (Ps. 119:122; Is. 38:14). And God gives the Holy Spirit in our hearts as collateral on His debt, as He sees it, to save us (2 Cor. 1:22; 5:5; Eph. 1:14); and in response we give our hearts as a pledge to Him (Jer. 30:21 Heb.). So forbidding the practice seems out of step with the spirit of grace. It would mean asking of God what we are unprepared to do for others. Solomon had not known need, neither material nor spiritual, and it shows in his attitude to this matter. It makes hollow all Solomon's exhortations to be generous to your poor neighbour and to be a brother in adversity to your neighbour (Prov. 14:21; 17:17). Solomon is here reasoning from the viewpoint of secular wisdom.

Hold it for a wayward woman!-
The  blindness  of  Solomon  is  driven  home time and again; he knew Divine truth, but the more he knew it, the more he lived the very opposite, failing to grasp the deeply personal relevance of truth to himself. A whole string of passages in Proverbs warn of  the  "strange"  (AV) woman  (2:16;  5:20; 6:24; 7:5; 20:16; 23:27;  27:13). Yet the very same word (translated "outlandish", AV) is  used  in  Neh. 13:26 concerning  the women Solomon married. The antidote to  succumbing to the wicked woman was to have wisdom- according to Proverbs. And Solomon apparently had wisdom. Yet he succumbed to the wicked woman. He was writing Song of Solomon at the same time as Proverbs. The reason for this must be that Solomon didn't really have wisdom. Yet we know that he was given it in abundance. The resolution of this seems to be that Solomon asked  for  wisdom  in  order  to  lead  Israel  rather than for himself,  he used that wisdom to judge Israel and to educate the surrounding  nations.  But  none of it percolated to himself. As custodians  of  true  doctrine-  for  that is what we are- we are likely to suffer from over familiarity with it. We can become so accustomed  to 'handling' it, as we strengthen each other, as we preach,  that  the personal bearing of the Truth becomes totally lost  upon us, as it was totally lost upon Solomon.

Pro 27:14 He who blesses his neighbour with a loud voice early in the morning, it will be taken as a curse by him-
This is a Hezekiah Proverb (see on Prov. 25:1); the phrase "with a loud voice" is that used of Rabshakeh in 2 Kings 18:28. The "blessing" he hypocritically announced was the offer of a wonderful new life for Judah in Assyria. He is the one presented by Hezekiah as the fool. 

Pro 27:15 A continual dropping on a rainy day and a contentious wife are alike-
LXX "On a stormy day drops of rain drive a man out of his house; so also does a railing woman drive a man out of his own house". I detected on Prov. 18:22 Solomon's justification of David's divorce with Michal, from whose house he had to flee the night her father sent to murder him there. So here too there is a subtext, however unconscious even; however true Solomon's observation may be in more general terms.

Pro 27:16 restraining her is like restraining the wind, or like grasping oil in his right hand-
Solomon does the very opposite of what he says here; for he uses the word for "oil" or "ointment" about the ointment of his illicit Gentile girlfriend, which he found so attractive (Song 4:10). Yet in Prov. 27:16 he warns that a bad woman has such oil; but he falls for her. He utterly failed to personalize his wisdom, it flowed through his mouth and mind without taking any personal lodgment within him. And we must be warned by this ability of human nature. 

Pro 27:17 Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens his friend’s countenance-
Perhaps this is to be connected with the teaching about the shape or face of men in :19, where a man's face is his heart. We don't read that a file or whetstone makes iron sharper; but rather than iron sharpens iron. The idea may be that is because we are of the same nature that fellowship sharpens us. This was why the Lord Jesus was of the same nature as ourselves, so that His fellowship with us can change our face into His, as Paul says in 2 Cor. 3:16-18.

Pro 27:18 Whoever tends the fig tree shall eat its fruit; he who looks after his master shall be honoured-
This could be a reference by Hezekiah (see on Prov. 25:1) to the false offer by Rabshakeh that his "master", the king of Assyria, could give Judah a land of fig trees where they could enjoy the fruit.

Pro 27:19 As water reflects a face, so a man’s heart reflects the man-
This continues the great Biblical theme that the heart is the man; the face [the external] is the heart [the internal]. The critical importance of the heart / mind is unique to the Bible and true Christianity. Other religions focused upon the external and tokenistic, the behaviour alone; whereas the passion of Yahweh is for the human heart. The great emphasis upon the work of the Spirit in the New Testament likewise reflects this. LXX "As faces are not like other faces, so neither are the thoughts of men".

Pro 27:20 Sheol and Abaddon are never satisfied; and a man’s eyes are never satisfied-
The lack of "satisfaction" is a major theme in the descriptions of condemnation for those who break the covenant (s.w. Lev. 26:26). And it is the principle we must live by today; that the only satisfaction is in the things of God's Kingdom. Even in this life, the eye is not "satisfied" with seeing or wealth (s.w. Prov. 27:20; Ecc. 1:8; 4:8; 5:10). And those who seek such satisfaction from those things will find that dissatisfaction is the lead characteristic of their condemnation (Ps. 59:15). Tragically Solomon knew the truth of all this but lived otherwise; just as so many do who give lip service to the idea that the things of the flesh cannot satisfy.

Sin never satisfies. “Hell and destruction are never satisfied, and the eyes of man are never satisfied” (Prov. 27:20 RV), Solomon wrote in his youth; and then in old age, he came to basically the same conclusion, having spent his life working back to the truth that he had been taught in his youth (Ecc. 1:8; 4:8). And there are many men and women who have done the same. We all tend to be empirical learners; and yet this is the great power of God’s word, that through it we need not have to learn everything through our failures; but we can receive His Truth, trust it, and simply live by it. Otherwise we shall be like Solomon…

Pro 27:21 The crucible is for silver, and the furnace for gold; but man is tested by his praise-
This must be connected with Prov. 17:3: "The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, but Yahweh tests the hearts". The idea is that Yahweh seeks purified hearts, spiritual mindedness, more than anything else; and the fire of affliction is used to purify our thinking. Purified hearts or spirits is the aim of the work of the Holy Spirit as taught in the New Testament. Yet a man must use the refining pot when he receives praise (Prov. 27:21 AV "so is a man to his praise"). We have some election over this refining process, we are to work together with God in it; but the end result is the purification of the heart / mind / spirit.

I suggested on :2 that there is reference here to the praise Hezekiah received from the Babylonians. This Proverb was twisted by Hezekiah (see on Prov. 25:1) to justify his acceptance of the praise of the Babylonian ambassadors which was his spiritual undoing. He was tested by the receipt of praise- and failed the test.

Pro 27:22 Though you grind a fool in a mortar with a pestle along with grain, yet his foolishness will not be removed from him-
LXX "Though thou scourge a fool, disgracing him in the midst of the council, thou wilt still in no wise remove his folly from him". Solomon sees public shaming fools as the only possible way to get them to accept wisdom. And he laments that even this doesn't work, and so one must give up with fools. But all this is at variance with the unending searching of the Father and Son for the lost, as taught in Lk. 15. And love seeks to shield from shame, just as the Father sought to do for his foolish prodigal son, rushing out to accompany him on the walk home through the village, lest he be shamed. There are today those like Solomon who think that their mere possession of Divine truth justifies them. And they have the same tendency- to write off people as foolish and not worthy of further effort. This not only stymies their entire approach to evangelism, but makes them wrongly judgmental of those they consider to be foolish, and to have an over exalted view of themselves.

Pro 27:23 Know well the state of your flocks, and pay attention to your herds-
As explained on :24, this appears to be Solomon veering towards the spirit of Ecclesiastes, urging every effort to get wealthy in this life, because that is all you have. Neither he nor Hezekiah (see on Prov. 25:1) have any Kingdom perspective. Solomon liked to think he was God's Kingdom, and Hezekiah was content with his extra 15 years of mortal life and enjoying them as far as he could (Is. 39:8).

Pro 27:24 for riches are not forever, nor does even the crown endure to all generations-
This is true, and evidence enough that Solomon was not in fact the eternal Messianic "son of David" who would reign eternally. And yet despite knowing this, Solomon acts exactly as if his kingdom is the eternal Kingdom of God. And yet on the other hand, he admits here that he has no hope of eternal retention of his wealth or crown. Therefore he urges to zealously count your wealth and work as hard as you can to get wealthy now, in this life, and enjoy it. So we have here the spirit of Ecclesiastes.

Pro 27:25 The hay is removed, and the new growth appears, the grasses of the hills are gathered in-
See on :23,25. The idea again seems to be a glorifying of human labour, so common in Proverbs. Hence LXX "Take care of the herbage in the field, and thou shalt cut grass, and gather the mountain hay". Solomon has no understanding of grace or of relationship with God without works. He was a naturally hard working person, and his many Proverbs glorifying labour and hard work appear to be merely justifying and reinforcing his own native personality type. And we can abuse God's truth likewise. The new growth appearing may be a picture of a new restored situation in the land appearing after the Assyrian invasion had been overcome.

Pro 27:26 The lambs are for your clothing, and the goats are the price of a field-
As suggested on :25, this appears to continue a description of an ideal situation which would come upon the land at the time of the "new growth" of :25. It is perhaps Hezekiah's vision of how things would be under his rule. But it falls far short of Isaiah's prophecies of the Kingdom of God which all could have come true after the Assyrian defeat. Sadly Hezekiah wanted to think, like Solomon, that the reward for righteousness and wisdom was mainly in this life; he has no Kingdom perspective. LXX "That thou mayest have wool of sheep for clothing: pay attention to the land, that thou mayest have lambs".

Pro 27:27 There will be plenty of goats’ milk for your food, for your family’s food, and for the nourishment of your servant girls-
This is a picture of happy agricultural self sufficiency after the Assyrian threat has been dealt with. But it falls so far short of the Kingdom potential; see on :26.