Proverbs 17

The Word Made Fresh

1A simple quiet meal
is better than feasting and arguing.
2A wise servant will control a child who acts shamefully,
and will share in the family’s inheritance.
3The crucible refines silver and the furnace refines gold,
but the LORD measures the heart.
4Wicked people listen to wicked words,
and liars pay attention to mischievous pronouncements.
5Those who make fun of the poor insult the One who made them;
those who rejoice at calamity will not go unpunished.
6Grandchildren are the crown of the elderly,
and their parents are the children’s glory.
7Fine speech doesn’t improve a fool,
nor does false speech improve a leader.
8People who give bribes think they’re giving away something of value;
they think everything they do is prosperous.
9Those who forgive an insult promote friendship;
those who dwell on conflict alienate their friends.
10A person of discernment is stricken by rebuke,
and more than a hundred blows will strike the fool.
11Those who are evil constantly rebel
and are beset by cruel messengers.
12Better to meet a she-bear robbed of its cubs
than to confront an idiot immersed in folly.
13Evil will not leave the house

of one who constantly returns evil for good.
14The beginning of a quarrel is like breaking a dam;
so, stop before the quarrel gets out of hand.
15Those who justify evildoers and those who condemn the good
are both equally disgusting to the LORD.
16Why should fools try to purchase wisdom
when they have no desire to learn?
17A true friend truly loves,
and families exist to share tragedy.
18It is foolish to give a promise
to make oneself responsible for a neighbor.
19Those who embrace misdeeds enjoy problems;
those who surround themselves with high walls invite injury.
20Those whose minds are crooked cannot be prosperous,
and those whose speech is perverse will fail.
21Parents who raise their children as fools will have troubles;
a fool’s parents have no joy.
22A cheerful heart is good medicine;
but a gloomy outlook dries up the spirit.
23Bad people accept bribes
and turn justice away.
24The wise person seeks wisdom,
but the fool’s eyes are always looking about.
25Foolish children bring grief to their father
and shame to the mother who gave them birth.
26It isn’t fair to levy a fine on the innocent,
or to punish a good person for their integrity.
27Those who use words sparingly are wise;
those who remain cool under pressure have understanding.
28Even fools are considered wise when they are silent;
closing their mouths make them appear to be intelligent.


1: A bickering household is no more pleasant in our day and time than it was in Solomon’s.

2: I wonder if this happened very often in any culture that practiced slavery. Perhaps this proverb served the purpose of encouraging the slaves to “deal wisely.”

3: Precious metals like gold and silver were purified by heating to the point of melting so that impurities which melted at different temperatures could be easily removed. That process is a metaphor for how God examines and purifies a person’s character (heart).

4: Birds of a feather flock together.

5: Mocking the poor is tantamount to insulting God, and if we celebrate someone else’s troubles, well, what goes around comes around.

6: Respect for one’s elders is a hallmark of ancient society and of agrarian societies. It is often discarded in progressive cultures where individual achievement is hailed as the height of human endeavor. The older I get the more I think elders ought to be respected.

7: Fine speech is usually welcomed, but if one’s manner of speaking is incongruent with one’s character no one will believe it.

8: Once again we have a proverb that seems to encourage bribery. Consider, however, 15:27 and 17:23, not to mention Deuteronomy 10:17, which declares that God does not accept bribes. I think what is meant in this verse is not bribery, which encourages behavior that may not be legal, but simply the art of using gifts to show appreciation.

9: We’ve all known people who just don’t know how to let bygones be bygones.

10: Some people never learn.

11: “Rebellion” here is a reference to one’s relationship with God. Evil people are by definition those who defy God and God’s ways. The “cruel messenger” may represent punishment for wrongdoing or perhaps the disappointing outcome of living such a life.

12: Well, okay, but I think I’d rather deal with the fool.

13: This is one of the consequences of ignoring the Golden Rule.

14: The ability to see trouble coming is essential if trouble is to be avoided.

15: Injustice is completely contrary to God’s character and should therefore be avoided by God’s people.

16: Oh, my! Look at all the unread books on my shelves! I am convicted!

17: Friends and family are the buffers for the blows of living.

18: Co-signing a loan is never a good idea (unless it is to help your own son or daughter establish a credit rating, and then only if you have the funds laid aside to repay the loan).

19: You will find a variety of renderings of this verse, especially the second part of it, because the Hebrew words are difficult to translate. The idea seems to be that people who like to break the rules create obstacles over which they eventually stumble.

20: We were told earlier that crooked minds are an abomination to God (11:20). The tongue is the mind’s outward expression.

21: This is perhaps a simple observation of how things are, but can also be read as an entreaty to children and youth to “get wisdom” (4:5, 7).

22: Even 2500 years ago people knew that one’s mental attitude affects one’s health.

23: A bribe is a gift that is given for the purpose of creating an unfair advantage or outcome. It is thus a perversion of justice.

24: The ability to focus is a necessary attribute for acquiring wisdom.

25: Compare verse 21.

26: A self-evident observation: Innocence and integrity are to be rewarded, not punished.

27-28: A wise person considers his or her words before speaking, and therefore is seldom verbose. A fool can feign wisdom by simply being quiet. “It is better to be silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and prove that you are.”


Much repetition; but that simply means we need to be reminded over and over of things.