When a crumb is better than a barbecue
- 17:1 A scrap of crust served with peace and quiet
Beats a feast at an argument.
- 17:2 A wise slave can take charge of the master’s disgraced child,
And earn a share of the family inheritance, with the children.
- 17:3 For silver, it’s the refiner’s crucible.
For gold, it’s the refiner’s furnace.
For the heart, it’s the LORD who purifies.1
- 17:4 Crooked jerks listen to words warped and wicked.
Liars listen for fake news and other liars.2
- 17:5 If you insult the poor, you insult your Maker.
If you celebrate someone else’s tragedy, you’re going to pay for it.
- 17:6 Grandkids make grandparents proud.
Parents make kids proud.
- 17:7 A polished speech wouldn’t sound right coming from an idiot.
And a lie sounds even worse coming from a leader.
Bribes work magic
- 17:8 To bribers, the bribe works like a magical charm,
Guaranteeing success in everything they do.
- 17:9 Overlooking a fault is the loving thing to do.
Nagging about it kills a friendship.
- 17:10 A stern warning works better on a person with good sense,
Than a hundred butt-kicks to a fool.
- 17:11 Contrary folks are nothing but trouble.
And they get trouble in return—a cruel attack.
- 17:12 You’re better off facing a momma bear who lost her babies,
Than a fool doing stupid things.
- 17:13 If someone does you good, and in return you do them bad,
Say hello to Evil, the newest member of your family.
- 17:14 Starting an argument is like opening floodgates of a dam.
Before you start what can’t be stopped, stop before you start.
- 17:15 Some make excuses for bad people and some condemn the good.
Both disgust the LORD.
Wasting money on education
- 17:16 Why give money to educate a fool
When common sense is a prerequisite for wisdom?
- 17:17 A friend will love you all the time.
And a brother will stand by you in tough times.
- 17:18 You’re out of your mind if you make a promise
Guaranteeing to pay off someone else’s loan, if they don’t.
- 17:19 People who love to stir up trouble are sinners.
People who build front-door thresholds too high cause injuries.3
- 17:20 Crooked people chase success but never find it.
Liars talk their way into trouble.
- 17:21 It’s a sad life for parents who brought a fool into the world.
There’s no joy in being parents of a child who acts like an idiot.
- 17:22 Happiness is good for the health.
A crushed spirit hurts to the bone.
- 17:23 Corrupt people take secret bribes,
To see that justice isn’t done.
- 17:24 Wisdom stands directly in front of an intelligent person.4
The eyes of a fool can’t seem to focus on anything, near or far.
- 17:25 Children who act like idiots make their fathers sad
And their mothers bitter.
- 17:26 It’s wrong to fine an innocent person,
Or to beat leaders who did nothing wrong.
Say little, look smart
- 17:27 Smart people say little.
People with good sense keep their cool.
- 17:28 Even a fool looks smart when his mouth is shut.
If he doesn’t say anything, he could actually look intelligent.
Many Bible translations say the LORD “tests” the heart or the mind. The Hebrew word bahan can mean “to examine,” “test,” or to “prove” the value of something or someone. But the parallel referring to silver and gold also seem to imply purification. Silver and gold were purified by melting them and skimming off the impurities that rose to the top. Silver and gold are heavier, and settle at the bottom.
The idea is pretty much “birds of a feather flock together.” Bad people gravitate to insight and advice from evil people like themselves. A modern reflection might be angry listeners who tune into “hate radio” or hateful television “news” programs directed by an angry, hateful, and vindictive host who fosters and nurtures hatred among the listeners.
Some Bible experts say it’s unclear what either of these two lines means, as well as what the two could possibly have to do with each other. One popular guess about the second line is that building the threshold higher than normal is a symbol of pride or arrogance.
The implication is that an intelligent person sees Wisdom and welcomes it. But the fool hasn’t even made eye contact with Wisdom.