Proverbs 27:19

19 Just as water mirrors your face, so your face mirrors your heart.

Proverbs 27:19 Meaning and Commentary

Proverbs 27:19

As in water face [answereth] to face
As water is as a looking glass, in which a man may behold his own face and another's; or as the face in the water answers to the face of a man, and there is a great likeness between them. All things through water appear greater, as Seneca F13 observes, and so more clear and plain; so the heart of man to man;
one man's heart may be seen and discerned in some measure by another, as by his countenance; for though, as the poet F14 says, "frontis nulla fides", yet the countenance is often the index of the mind, though not an infallible one; wrath and anger in the breast may be seen in the face, as were in Cain's; thus Jacob saw some resentment at him in the mind of Laban, and judged he had some design of mischief against him by the change of his countenance; also what is in the heart of man is discerned by what comes out of it, by his words, and also by his actions; yea, a man may know in a good measure what is in another man's heart, by what he finds in his own: the word of God is a glass, or medium of vision, and like water, in which a man's face is seen, through which a man sees his own heart; the law is a glass, in which an enlightened person sees not only the perfections of God, the nature of righteousness, but also his sin, and the sinfulness of it; this glass mother magnifies nor multiplies his sins, but sets them in a true light before him, by which he discerns heart sins, and sees and knows the plague of his heart; and the Gospel is a glass, wherein he beholds the glory of Christ, sees and can discern whether Christ is formed in him, and he has the grace of the Spirit of God wrought in his soul, as faith, hope, love, repentance, humility, self-denial moreover, as the face seen in the water is similar to a man's face, so the hearts of men are alike, not merely in a natural sense, see ( Psalms 33:15 ) ; but in a moral and spiritual sense the hearts of unregenerate men are alike, and answer to each other; for they are all equally corrupted, one and depraved; the heart of every man is desperately wicked; the imaginations of the thoughts of the hearts or wicked men, one and all of them, are only evil, and that continually; their affections are inordinately the same, they love and hate the same persons and things; their minds and consciences are all defiled; their understandings are darkened; their wills are averse to that which is good, and bent on that which is evil: and so the hearts of good men are alike; they have all one heart and one way given them; their experiences agree as to the work of grace and conversion; they are all made sensible of sin, the evil of it, and danger by it; they are all brought off of their own righteousness, and are led to Christ to depend on him alone for righteousness, pardon, and eternal life; they are partakers of the same promises in the Gospel, and have the same enemies to grapple with, and the same temptations, trials, and exercises from sin, Satan, and the world; and they have the same things put into their hearts, the laws of God, the doctrines of Christ, and the several graces of the Spirit of Christ; so that there cannot be a greater likeness between a man's face and that seen in the water, than there is between the heart of one saint and another; the hearts of Old and New Testament saints, and of all in all ages and places, answer to one another. The Targum paraphrases it to a sense quite the reverse,

``as waters and as faces which are not like one to another, so the hearts of the children of men are not like one to another;''
and to the same sense are the Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic versions.

F13 Nat. Quaest. l. 1. c. 6.
F14 Juvenal. Satyr. 2. v. 8.

Proverbs 27:19 In-Context

17 You use steel to sharpen steel, and one friend sharpens another.
18 If you care for your orchard, you'll enjoy its fruit; if you honor your boss, you'll be honored.
19 Just as water mirrors your face, so your face mirrors your heart.
20 Hell has a voracious appetite, and lust just never quits.
21 The purity of silver and gold is tested by putting them in the fire; The purity of human hearts is tested by giving them a little fame.
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved.