The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Proverbs 17

Pro 17:1

When battered by soaring prices, we are tempted to think that we could cope better and be happier if we were wealthy.

Not really, according to a study of graduates from a major American university. The careers of 140 of the graduates of the 1974 class in business administration were closely followed for five years. The researcher categorized the graduates into three groups: top-paid graduates whose average salaries were $75,000; the medium salary range with $38,000 annually; the low salary group with $25,000 annually. At the end of the five-year period, he found that unhappiness in the high income group had increased dramatically. The low income group was happier with its family and lifestyle. The medium salary group also was ahead of the high income group in its satisfaction with life.

Pro 17:2

A WISE SERVANT: Gentiles who are faithful (Rom 9:8).

A DISGRACEFUL SON: Jews who are unfaithful. Cp parable prodigal son (Luk 15:11-32).

Pro 17:3

THE LORD TESTS THE HEART: "In the work here mentioned the object is to clear away the dross whether in the fining of metals or of human hearts, but the proverb does not suggest that there is a perfect analogy. Rather does it imply a difference. Metals may be purified by men with fining pot and furnace, but the heart can only be tried and cleansed by God. The process of fining is far more complex and wonderful than anything that can be effected with metals. It is not merely a matter of removing dross, but something quite new has to be introduced; new hopes, new desires and in fact 'newness of life' " (PrPr).

Pro 17:14

See Lesson, Prov and strife.

In the spring of 1894, the Baltimore Orioles came to Boston to play a routine baseball game. But what happened that day was anything but routine. The Orioles' John McGraw got into a fight with the Boston third baseman. Within minutes all the players from both teams had joined in the brawl. The warfare quickly spread to the grandstands. Among the fans the conflict went from bad to worse. Someone set fire to the stands and the entire ballpark burned to the ground. Not only that, but the fire spread to 107 other Boston buildings as well.

Pro 17:18

A MAN LACKING IN JUDGMENT STRIKES HANDS IN PLEDGE AND PUTS UP SECURITY FOR HIS NEIGHBOR: "In this matter adults often reveal less capacity for learning than children. They have the advantage of books containing all the accumulated wisdom of mankind, and beyond all this and permeating a great deal of it, there is the instruction that has come direct from God, yet the knowledge is very little used. Life is full of avoidable evils through men ignoring principles or rules of conduct which are perfectly well known, and which have had their wisdom demonstrated in every generation.

"Sometimes the individual failure is so obvious that almost all observers smile at it. I recall two instances of this kind in which the facts were related by the victim when sufficient time had passed for him to join in the amusement. The first was of a capable business man who lightheartedly put his name to paper and became surety for another without even knowing the full extent of his commitment. As is usual in such cases, the one thus assisted failed to pay his way, and the guarantor was for some weeks on the verge of ruin, not knowing when the crushing blow would fall. While in this worried condition he one day opened the Bible to find a little consolation, and almost the very first passage he read was one in Proverbs warning men against the very folly he had committed. 'What a foolish man I am', he thought. 'I have carelessly brought myself into this trouble, when all the while the whole matter is explained in the Bible in the most up-to-date manner. If I had read it before I might have been warned' " (PrPr).

STRIKES HANDS: "It is interesting to note the expression 'strike hands' in this connection. It suggests that without any signature, the offering and acceptance of the hand would constitute a bond which no one would repudiate. We may sometimes see in English cattle markets a custom which is probably a survival of that to which the wise man refers. Two men will be haggling over the price of a beast. Finally the vendor, having made a concession, declares that he will take nothing less. He holds out his right hand, stating the price, and perhaps with quite a dramatic indication of finality. The buyer, with no show of enthusiasm, and without saying a word, strikes the outstretched hand with his own palm and the sale is effected. Surely a survival from three thousand years or more" (PrPr).

Pro 17:19

See Lesson, Prov and strife.

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