Proverbs 18:17

17 In a lawsuit the first to speak seems right, until someone comes forward and cross-examines.

Read Proverbs 18:17 Using Other Translations

He that is first in his own cause seemeth just; but his neighbour cometh and searcheth him.
The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.
The first to speak in court sounds right— until the cross-examination begins.

What does Proverbs 18:17 mean?

John Gill's Exposition of the Bible
Proverbs 18:17

He that is first in his own cause [seemeth] just
As perhaps Tertullus did, before Paul made his defence; and as Ziba, Mephibosheth's servant, before his master detected him: this often appears true in telling a tale, in private conversation, in lawsuits before a judge and a court of judicature, and in theological controversies; but his neighbour cometh, and searcheth him;
his neighbour comes into the house, where he is telling his tale, and reports it in another manner, and shows the falsehood of his relation; or he comes into a court of judicature, and sets the cause in quite another light; or he comes out into the worm by public writing, and exposes the errors of a man engaged in a wrong cause, and refutes his arguments. It is generally understood of judicial affairs, that the first that opens a cause is very apt to prejudice the judge and court in his favour, and they are ready to thing at first hearing that he is in the right; but it is not proper to be hasty in forming a judgment till the other side is heard; for his antagonist comes and traverses the point, unravels the whole affair, shows the weakness of his cause, the vanity of his pretences, and makes void all his allegations; and then "he", the judge, so some interpret it, "searcheth"; inquires more narrowly into the case, in order to find out truth, and pass a right judgment and sentence.

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