Proverbs 25 Study Notes
25:2-3 Both God and kings are unfathomable; their respective subjects cannot entirely comprehend their knowledge and motives. A matter may include science and creation (1Kg 4:33), philosophy (Ec 1:13), and personal motives and legal testimony (Pr 18:17; 25:8; 28:11). God is glorious because his creation is so intricate (Jb 38-41). Kings gain glory by delving into things that improve their ability to rule.
25:4-5 The impurities or dross had to be removed in a crucible (17:3; 27:21) to provide the silversmith pure silver adequate for making something useful. The people in the king’s presence are his servants, officials, and advisers. For a throne to be established suggests at least uncontested rule, and possibly a dynasty (see note at 16:12; cp. 2Sm 5:9-12; 1Kg 2:46; 9:5).
25:6-7 Prideful self-promotion is not wise (11:2; 29:23; Rm 12:3). There may have been a specified order in which the officials were supposed to stand before the king; to stand in someone else’s place would be pretentious. On noble, see note at 8:15-16. It is possible that the last few words (translated in plain view) go with the next verse, which means: “That which your eyes have seen, do not be hasty to take to court.”
25:8-10 Frivolous litigation and divulging confidences will ruin one’s reputation. You’ll never live it down is literally “a bad report will not return”—that is, the person who disgraces you will not have to eat his words. On afterward, see “at the end” in note at 5:11.
25:11-12 These decorative apples (or apricots; Sg 2:3,5; 7:8; 8:5) are not just golden in color, but are apparently made of gold. They could be spheres set on a tray or images inlaid into it. When a person is receptive to a wise rebuke, he is improved (9:8; 19:25).
25:15 A bone is the hardest part of a person; here it represents strong resistance to persuasion.
25:16-17 Too much of a good thing (v. 27; 16:24; 24:13) is bad, so even a good guest should exercise moderation. Seldom set foot is literally “make your foot precious (on account of its rarity)” (3:15; 20:15). To get sick is literally “to be satisfied” (12:14; 13:25; 18:20) or glutted (1:31).
25:18 Perjury against a neighbor is as devastating as beating him to death with a club, or opening him up with a sword, or piercing him through the heart with an arrow.
25:20 Here are some actions that make things worse. Cheery songs can make a troubled person worse (Ec 3:4; Rm 12:15; but see 1Sm 16:14-16). Pouring vinegar on soda makes the vinegar foam; it also neutralizes both and makes them worthless. The word translated “soda” could also be “a deep wound”; pouring vinegar on it would bring suffering with no benefit.
25:21-22 To heap . . . coals on his head does not imply vengeance because God does not reward vengeance (20:22; Lv 19:18; Rm 12:17-20). Rather, it may refer to the shame an enemy feels when his assaults are met with good deeds.
25:23 In Palestine rain actually comes from the west (1Kg 18:44; Lk 12:54). North may suggest the cold wind that accompanies rain. Also, north comes from a word that means “hidden,” which is a pun on backbiting (lit “secret”). The second half is ambiguous in Hebrew and could be reversed: “and angry looks, a backbiting tongue.”
25:26 Finding a well to be polluted could be disastrous to a traveler in Palestine. When a righteous person, a supposed “fountain of life” (10:11), betrays those who trust him, it can be disastrous (25:19).