Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. These. Solomon wrote 3,000, and we have only 915 verses extant. (Calmet) — The rest perhaps shewed his genius, but were less useful. (Tostat. in 3 Kings iv. 9.) — Men. Isaias, Sobna, &c. (Calmet) — Out of other records, (Menochius) or “translated” into a language better understood. (Denis the Carthusian) (Bayn.)
Ver. 2. Speech. The Scriptures will denounce the truth to them, and shew them how to reign with justice. We must adore the mysteries of God; but are allowed to examine the secret designs of princes.
Ver. 3. Unsearchable. Their counsellors must not betray their secrets, Tobias xii. 7. The greatest enterprises depend on secrecy.
Ver. 5. Justice. The wicked in a kingdom resemble rust on silver. (Calmet)
Ver. 6. Glorious, or a boaster. (Haydock) — We must not seek the first places, Luke xiv. 10.
Vive sine invidia, mollesque inglorius annos
Exige; amicitias et tibi junge pares. (Ovid, Trist. iii. 4.)
Ver. 8. Not. Septuagint, “repent when thy friend may reproach thee.” (Haydock) — Friend. A word spoken in haste may expose him to ridicule.
Ver. 9. Stranger. It sometimes happens that friends fall out; but if either disclose the secret of the other, he will be deemed infamous. (Calmet) (Josephus, contra Apion 2.) — St. Ambrose says of his brother Satyrus, “though we had all things in common, yet the secret of our friends was not so.”
Ver. 10. Grace, &c., is no in Hebrew, Complutensian, St. Jerome, &c. But it is in the Septuagint, “favour and friendship may give liberty; which keep thou for thyself, that thou mayst not be exposed to great shame. But guard thy ways unchangeably.” (Haydock) — Avoid quarrels.
Ver. 11. Time, (Symmachus) “on its wheels,” (Hebrew) flowing smoothly, (Calmet) or “according to his two faces, is apples of gold in network of silver.” The Scriptures have a double sense. The exterior one leads to that sense which is interior, and more excellent. (Maimonides) (Parkhurst, p. 366.) — Gold, oranges. — Beds. On such the kings of Parthia slept, and these metals were very common under Solomon, 3 Kings x. 27., and Esther i. 6. (Calmet) — Montanus renders mascioth “transparent cases.” Protestants, “pictures of silver.”
Ver. 12. Bright. Hebrew chali cathem, “an ornament of fine gold,” (Montanus; Protestants; Haydock) may probably denote a collar or ring. The eastern nations wore rings fixed at the top of the ears, and under the nose. Some were so large that they put their meat through them. The Scripture often alludes to these customs, which are so different from ours. (Canticle of Canticles vii. 1.)
Ver. 13. Harvest. In June and July, when the heat was most intense, people of quality had snow from Libanus to mix with what they drank, Jeremias xviii. 14. (Calmet)
Ver. 15. Hardness. Hebrew and Septuagint, “bones.” (Haydock)
Ver. 16. Up. We must moderate the sensual appetite, (Menochius) and even the study of wisdom, which is compared to honey, chap. xxiv. 13., Romans xii. 3., and Ecclesiastes vii. 17. (Calmet) — We must not be too familiar, ver. 17. (Ven. Bede) (Cajetan)
Ver. 17. Having. Hebrew, “being tired of thee.” No man is so perfect, but he will manifest some defect, and become importunate. (Calmet)
Nulli te facias nimis sodalem. (Martial)
Ver. 20. And. Protestants, “as he that taketh away a, &c., and as vinegar….to a heavy heart.” (Haydock) — The former sentence may be joined with the preceding, as it is improper to deprive a person of his garment, no less than to trust in the faithless; though some would suppose (Calmet) that this conduct, as well as the mixing of vinegar with nitre, is no less absurd than to attempt to relieve by music those who are extremely afflicted, Ecclesiasticus xxii. 6. (Tirinus) — But Solomon does not speak of such, but only of those who are “heavy;” and we know that music has wonderful efficacy in relieving them, (1 Kings xvi. 17.) in like manner as this mixture serves to cleanse the skin and garments, (Jeremias ii. 22.; Calmet) and to purify the ears, when they are deafish. (Pliny, [Natural History?] xxxi. 10.; Vales. lx.) — As a, &c., is not in Hebrew, St. Jerome, &c. (Calmet) — The Chaldean has the latter part, (Haydock) “grief tries the heart, as fire does silver. As the worm eats wood, so folly,” &c. (Calmet)
Ver. 22. Coals of charity; (St. Chrysostom in Romans xii. 20.) or, if he prove obstinate, his punishment will be the greater. (Geier.) — The former sense is more received. (Calmet)
Ver. 23. Rain; (Symmachus; Protestants) or marginal note, “bringeth forth rain.” (Haydock) — But St. Jerome, who live din the country, knew that this wind was rather dry; and therefore he has abandoned the Septuagint, raiseth the clouds,” Job xxxvii. 9., Joel ii. 20., and Ecclesiasticus xviii. 23. The countries north of Palestine were not calculated to produce vapours and rain, which came rather from the south. (Calmet) — Tongue. If the hearers would shew their displeasure, detractors would soon be reduced to silence. (St. Jerome, ad. Rust.) (St. Bernard)
Ver. 24. It is. Chap. xxi. 9. Sixtus V does not insert this verse here.
Ver. 25. Tidings. Hebrew and Septuagint. The Vulgate seems rather to speak of a “good messenger.” Homer said that a good messenger honoured the business most. (Pindar, Pyth. viii.) (Calmet)
Ver. 26. Falling into disgrace, or sin, occasions the wicked to exult, as if there were no God or religion. (Calmet)
Ver. 27. Majesty, viz., of God. For to search into that incomprehensible Majesty, and to pretend to sound the depths of the wisdom of God, is exposing our weak understanding to be blinded with an excess of light and glory, which it cannot comprehend. (Challoner) — When the Church proposes to us any mystery, we have only to believe. Hebrew, “but it is glorious to sound their glory,” and see where the wicked end, that we may not envy them, chap. iii. 31., and Psalm xxxvi. 7. (Calmet) — Protestants, “so for men to search their own glory, is not glory,” but a sin. (Haydock) — “It is not good to eat too much honey,” (Chaldean) or to sound the glorious words of God and wisdom, or the mysteries of religion. Septuagint, “But it is right to reverence glorious speeches,” (Calmet) with esteem and humility. (Cat. Gręc.)
Ver. 28. Speaking. He lays himself open to every attack, chap. xxix. 11.
Bible Text & Cross-references:
1 These are also parables of Solomon, which the men of Ezechias, king of Juda, copied out.
2 It is the glory of God to conceal the word, and the glory of kings to search out the speech.
3 The heaven above and the earth beneath, and the heart of kings is unsearchable.
4 Take away the rust from silver, and there shall come forth a most pure vessel:
5 Take away wickedness from the face of the king, and his throne shall be established with justice.
6 Appear not glorious before the king, and stand not in the place of great men.
7 For it is better that it should be said to thee: Come up hither; than that thou shouldst be humbled before the prince.
8 The things which thy eyes have seen, utter not hastily in a quarrel: lest afterward thou mayst not be able to make amends, when thou hast dishonoured thy friend.
9 Treat thy cause with thy friend, and discover not the secret to a stranger:
10 Lest he insult over thee, when he hath heard it, and cease not to upbraid thee.
Grace and friendship deliver a man: keep these for thyself, lest thou fall under reproach.
11 To speak a word in due time, is like apples of gold on beds of silver.
12 As an ear-ring of gold and a bright pearl, so is he that reproveth the wise, and the obedient ear.
13 *As the cold of snow in the time of harvest, so is a faithful messenger to him that sent him, for he refresheth his soul.
14 As clouds, and wind, when no rain followeth, so is the man that boasteth, and doth not fulfil his promises.
15 By patience a prince shall be appeased, *and a soft tongue shall break hardness.
16 Thou hast found honey, eat what is sufficient for thee, lest being glutted therewith thou vomit it up.
17 Withdraw thy foot from the house of thy neighbour, lest having his fill he hate thee.
18 A man that beareth false witness against his neighbour, is like a dart and a sword and a sharp arrow.
19 To trust in an unfaithful man in the time of trouble, is like a rotten tooth, and weary foot,
20 And one that looseth his garment in cold weather.
As vinegar upon nitre, so is he that singeth songs to a very evil heart. As a moth doth by a garment, and a worm by the wood: so the sadness of a man consumeth the heart.
21 *If thy enemy be hungry, give him to eat: if he thirst, give him water to drink:
22 For thou shalt heap hot coals upon his head, and the Lord will reward thee.
23 The north wind driveth away rain, as doth a sad countenance a backbiting tongue.
24 *It is better to sit m a corner of the house-top, than with a brawling woman, and in a common house.
25 As cold water to a thirsty soul, so are good tidings from a far country.
26 A just man falling down before the wicked, is as a fountain troubled with the foot and a corrupted spring.
27 As it is not good for a man to eat much honey, *so he that is a searcher of majesty shall be overwhelmed by glory.
28 As a city that lieth open and is not compassed with walls, so is a man that cannot refrain his own spirit in speaking.
13: Proverbs xxvi. 6.
15: Proverbs xv. 1.
21: Romans xii. 20.
24: Proverbs xxi. 9.
27: Ecclesiasticus iii. 22.