Proverbs 17:23
A wicked man takes a covert bribe to subvert the course of justice.
Fatherhood and SonshipW. Clarkson Proverbs 17:6, 21, 25
Use and NeglectW. Clarkson Proverbs 17:16, 24
Varied Experiences of Good and Evil in LifeE. Johnson Proverbs 17:21-28

We may divide them into the sorrowful, the joyous, and the mixed experiences.

I. SAD EXPERIENCES. The sorrow of thankless children. (Vers. 21, 25.) To name it is enough for thereto who have known it. It has its analogue in Divine places. How pathetically does the Bible speak of the grief of God over the rebellious children he has nourished and brought up! and of Christ's lamentation as of a mother over Jerusalem! Let us remember that our innocent earthly sorrows are reflected in the bosom of our God.

II. JOYOUS EXPERIENCES. (Ver. 22.) The blessing of a cheerful heart, who can overprize it in relation to personal health, to social charm and helpfulness? Contrasted with the troubled spirit, like a parching fever in the bones, it is the perpetual sap of life and source of all its greenness and its fruit. A simple faith is the best known source of cheerfulness. It was a fine remark of a good friend of Dr. Johnson's, that "he had tried to be a philosopher, but somehow always found cheerfulness creeping in."


1. The briber. (Ver. 23.) How strongly marked is this sin in the denunciations of the Bible! and yet how little the practice seems affected in a land which boasts above others of its love for the Bible! The stealth and so the shame, the evil motive, the perverse result, all are branded here. "He that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes, he shall dwell on high" (Isaiah 33:15).

2. The quick perception of wisdom and the warning glance of folly. The one sees before him what is to be known or done at once; the other is lost in cloudy musings. The more a man gapes after vanity, the more foolish the heart becomes. In religion we see this temper in the restless roving to and fro, the constant query, "Who will show us any good?" "He is full of business at church; a stranger at home; a sceptic abroad; an observer in the street; everywhere a fool.

3. Harshness in judges. (Ver. 26.) Fining and flogging are mentioned. The writer had observed some such scene with the horror of a just man. Inequity or inhumanity in the judge seems an insult against the eternal throne of Jehovah.

4. The wisdom of a calm temper and economy of words. (Vers. 27, 28.) An anxiety to talk is the mark of a shallow mind. The knowledge of the season of silence and reserve may be compared to the wisdom of the general who knows when to keep his forces back and when to launch them at the foe. The composed spirit comes from the knowledge that truth will prevail in one way or another, and the time for our utterance will arrive. Lastly, the wisdom of silence, so often preached by great men. Even the fool may gain some credit for wisdom which he does not possess by holding his tongue; and this is an index of the reality. Our great example here is the silence of Jesus, continued for thirty years; out of that silence a voice at length proceeded that will ever vibrate through the world. - J.

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.
The connection between the mind and the body, though not to be explained, is so striking as to force itself upon the notice of the least observant. There is such a sympathy between the two that the one cannot suffer and the other be unaffected. But the mind will often claim such independence of the body as the body can never assert over the mind. When the torture is of the mind alone, there will be comparatively little bodily capacity to bear up under the pressure. Solomon says here that a "merry heart," a cheerful mind, a spirit contented and well at ease, will administer support and strength for endurance. But Solomon treats also the case of a mind assailed and out of joint, and says that, in this case, the body as well as the mind will be utterly prostrated.

I. THE POWER WHICH THE MIND CAN EXERT IN SUPPORT OF THE BODY SO LONG AS ITSELF IS IN GOOD CONDITION. Where there is no aid drawn from the resources of religion, there may be firmness the most unflinching in the endurance of pain. The records of savage life prove the existence of a sustaining principle in man. There is a power in man's spirit to sustain his infirmity. The truth that men have no power of renewing their nature must not be interpreted as implying that men have no power of reforming their lives. The doctrine of human degeneracy, preached in an unguarded and overwrought strain, makes men imagine that they can do nothing unless they feel themselves acted on by a supernatural machinery, and that, until they have experienced inward revelation, it is idle to set about outward reformation. We would always hold that a great deal lies in the unconverted man's power. We can never believe, whilst there is the spectacle on earth of mind wielding a thorough sovereignty over matter, a sovereignty so perfect that the body is set before us as literally the vassal of the spirit, we at all exaggerate his abilities when we urge him, as a candidate for the prizes of eternity, to improve the life, and break away from habits and associations of unrighteousness.

II. A MAN'S TOTAL INCAPACITY TO BEAR A WOUNDED SPIRIT. We are not accustomed to admit up to the full a matter of fact — the physical destructiveness, so to speak, of an overwrought mind. The greatest wear and tear is from mental labour. Mental disquietude tells on the health with corroding and devastating power. It is the gracious appointment of God that a wound in the spirit begins to close so soon as made; so that where there is the wish there is not the power of keeping it long open. If it be true that the endurance of grief cannot be referred to indwelling energy, but rather to that soothing action of time which comes into play on the first moment of affliction, then there is no witness from the experience of mankind against the truth of the text. It cannot be assumed that a spirit is broken until stricken by that Word of God which is "quick and powerful." Conviction of sin is the unbearable thing, and an awakened conscience an irresistible tormentor. A truly broken spirit is that which is bruised by a sense of sin. It is impossible that man should long sustain the anguish of conviction of sin.

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

Homiletic Review.

1. It helps bodily health.

2. It is a clarifier and invigorator of the mind.

3. It lubricates the wearing machinery of business and daily care.


1. Look at your mercies with both eyes; your troubles with only one eye.

2. Learn Paul's secret: "In whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content."

3. Be useful. Light somebody's torch, and your own will burn brighter.

4. Make God your trustee. Believe in His care of your welfare.

(Homiletic Review.)

So closely connected is the soul with the body, that physical health is ever, to a great extent, dependent on mental states. A dark thought has power to work disease and death into the corporeal frame. This is a fact —

1. Recognised by medical science. A wise physician avails himself of this fact, and is ever anxious not only to dispel all sad thought from the mind of the patient, but to awaken the most pleasurable thoughts and emotions. It is a fact —

2. Attested by general experience.

I. THE RESPONSIBILITY OF MAN FOR HIS PHYSICAL HEALTH. Man is responsible for his mental disposition, whether cheerful or gloomy, and his disposition greatly determines his health.


III. THE SANITARY INFLUENCE OF CHRISTIANITY. The design of Christianity is to fill the human heart with joy. "These things have I spoken unto you that your joy may be full." Christianity is the best physician to the body. He who promotes Christinity is the wise philanthropist. Some people are always trying to keep the body well, and neglect entirely the condition of the soul.

(D. Thomas, D. D.)


1. By "a merry heart" is meant a heart which has been taught by the Spirit of God to seek its happiness in Divine and heavenly objects, which is disposed to look at the bright side of things under the influence of contentment and hope. Such a heart has the best reason for cheerfulness. Faith keeps it from suspicion and distrust, hope from despair, and charity from that envy which is a rottenness of the bones. The love of God shed abroad in the heart makes it form the most favourable idea of every dispensation, and Christ dwelling there brightens all around by His presence.

2. By the "broken spirit" is meant a heart crushed by affliction, and which refuses to be comforted. Such is his spirit who, seeing his affairs ruined by his own folly, or the knavery of others, or by misfortunes which he could neither foresee nor prevent, sinks into utter despondence, and becomes incapable of the least effort to better his circumstances. Such is his spirit who, seeing the desire of his eyes taken away with a stroke, imagines he has nought now to live for. Such also is the spirit of the man wounded by remorse, or shattered by the influence of indulged melancholy, jealousies, suspicions, and fears.


1. Let us consider their influence on the body. The influence of a suitable medicine on the body is wonderful. Disease is checked or alleviated by it when first received; the continued use of it removes it entirely, and strengthens the constitution to resist its further attacks. Such is the power of holy joy over the health. On the other hand a broken spirit dries up the bones, and the finest constitution sinks under its influence.

2. Consider their influence on prosperity and adversity. All the comforts of prosperity are heightened by a cheerful spirit. So amiable does prosperity appear when thus enjoyed, that every heart wishes its continuance; but the broken spirit is a stranger to all the satisfactions as well as the homage of gratitude. On such a heart all its delights are lavished in vain. The cheerful heart can triumph in adversity. But how different is the case with the broken spirit! Every temporal disaster is the supposed prelude to their ruin, etc.

3. Consider the influence of cheerfulness and of depression on the soul. Cheerfulness quickens all the powers of the soul in their exercise; the imagination forms the most pleasing ideas of scenes and objects; memory calls up the most joyous recollections; hope paints the future blissful as the present; and the understanding, rejoicing in the truth, pursues its inquiries with unwearied ardour. On the other hand, when the spirit is broken, the imagination calls up only scenes of woe; memory brings nought to remembrance but what tends to disquiet and torment us; despair clothes the heavens with blackness; and the understanding doth nought but write bitter things, and form the most dreadful conclusions against itself.

4. Consider the influence of cheerfulness and depression on the duties and the pursuits of life. When the heart is cheerful the duties of a man's calling are a pleasure to him. How ingenious is the cheerful heart in finding the means of enjoyment and in extending these! On the other hand, when the spirit is broken the duties of a man's profession are a burden him.

5. Consider their influence on the connections of life. The man of a merry heart is the happiness of his family and friends. How different is the case with the broken spirit! The indications of joy in his presence such a man is apt to regard as an insult to his wretchedness.Conclusion:

1. How strongly does the broken spirit claim our pity and our prayers! It is impossible to conceive on this side the grave a condition more dreary.

2. Let us carefully guard against the first symptoms of despondence in ourselves and in others. Let us seek out those remedies which the gospel contains for raising the bowed down.

3. Let me address those who are blessing themselves in a false mirth. I know not whether the despairing mourner or the jovial sinner is the greatest object of pity. The jovial sinner's mirth is like the laughter of the maniac, or like the singing of a patient whose brain a fever hath disordered. The broken spirit may lead to that godly sorrow which worketh repentance to salvation, but the audacious mirth of the sinner is most likely to end in weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth.

(H. Belfrage, D. D.)

Accepts, Aside, Bosom, Bribe, Cause, Course, Decision, Gift, Judgment, Justice, Offering, Paths, Pervert, Receives, Receiveth, Robe, Secret, Sinner, Takes, Taketh, Turn, Wicked
1. Contrasts between the Righteous and the Wicked

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Proverbs 17:23

     5238   bribery
     5941   secrecy
     6604   acceptance, human

April 8. "A Merry Heart Doeth Good Like a Medicine" (Prov. xvii. 22).
"A merry heart doeth good like a medicine" (Prov. xvii. 22). King Solomon left among his wise sayings a prescription for sick and sad hearts, and it is one that we can safely take. "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine." Joy is the great restorer and healer. Gladness of spirit will bring health to the bones and vitality to the nerves when all other tonics fail, and all other sedatives cease to quiet. Sick one, begin to rejoice in the Lord, and your bones will flourish like an herb, and your cheeks
Rev. A. B. Simpson—Days of Heaven Upon Earth

September 12. "The Furnace for Gold; but the Lord Trieth the Hearts" (Prov. xvii. 3. )
"The furnace for gold; but the Lord trieth the hearts" (Prov. xvii. 3.) Remember that temptation is not sin unless it be accompanied with the consent of your will. There may seem to be even the inclination, and yet the real choice of your spirit is fixed immovably against it, and God regards it simply as a solicitation and credits you with an obedience all the more pleasing to Him, because the temptation was so strong. We little know how evil can find access to a pure nature and seem to incorporate
Rev. A. B. Simpson—Days of Heaven Upon Earth

The Unrivalled Friend
A sermon (No. 899) delivered on Lord's Day morning, November 7th, 1869, at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington, by C. H. Spurgeon. "A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity."--Proverbs 17:17. There is one thing about the usefulness of which all men are agreed, namely, friendship; but most men are soon aware that counterfeits of friendship are common as autumn leaves. Few men enjoy from others the highest and truest form of friendship. The friendships of this world are
C.H. Spurgeon—Sermons on Proverbs

Its Meaning
Deliverance from the condemning sentence of the Divine Law is the fundamental blessing in Divine salvation: so long as we continue under the curse, we can neither be holy nor happy. But as to the precise nature of that deliverance, as to exactly what it consists of, as to the ground on which it is obtained, and as to the means whereby it is secured, much confusion now obtains. Most of the errors which have been prevalent on this subject arose from the lack of a clear view of the thing itself, and
Arthur W. Pink—The Doctrine of Justification

Religion a Weariness to the Natural Man.
"He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him."--Isaiah liii. 2. "Religion is a weariness;" such is the judgment commonly passed, often avowed, concerning the greatest of blessings which Almighty God has bestowed upon us. And when God gave the blessing, He at the same time foretold that such would be the judgment of the world upon it, even as manifested in the gracious Person of Him whom He sent to give it to us. "He hath no form nor
John Henry Newman—Parochial and Plain Sermons, Vol. VII

The Raising of the Young Man of Nain - the Meeting of Life and Death.
THAT early spring-tide in Galilee was surely the truest realisation of the picture in the Song of Solomon, when earth clad herself in garments of beauty, and the air was melodious with songs of new life. [2625] It seemed as if each day marked a widening circle of deepest sympathy and largest power on the part of Jesus; as if each day also brought fresh surprise, new gladness; opened hitherto unthought-of possibilities, and pointed Israel far beyond the horizon of their narrow expectancy. Yesterday
Alfred Edersheim—The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah

Cæsarius of Arles.
He was born in the district of Chalons-sur-Saone, A. D. 470. He seems to have been early awakened, by a pious education, to vital Christianity. When he was between seven and eight years old, it would often happen that he would give a portion of his clothes to the poor whom he met, and would say, when he came home, that he had been, constrained to do so. When yet a youth, he entered the celebrated convent on the island of Lerins, (Lerina,) in Provence, from which a spirit of deep and practical piety
Augustus Neander—Light in the Dark Places

Letter xxiv (Circa A. D. 1126) to Oger, Regular Canon
To Oger, Regular Canon [34] Bernard blames him for his resignation of his pastoral charge, although made from the love of a calm and pious life. None the less, he instructs him how, after becoming a private person, he ought to live in community. To Brother Oger, the Canon, Brother Bernard, monk but sinner, wishes that he may walk worthily of God even to the end, and embraces him with the fullest affection. 1. If I seem to have been too slow in replying to your letter, ascribe it to my not having
Saint Bernard of Clairvaux—Some Letters of Saint Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux

Twenty Second Sunday after Trinity Paul's Thanks and Prayers for Churches.
Text: Philippians 1, 3-11. 3 I thank my God upon all my remembrance of you, 4 always in every supplication of mine on behalf of you all making my supplication with joy, 5 for your fellowship in furtherance of the gospel from the first day until now; 6 being confident of this very thing, that he who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ: 7 even as it is right for me to be thus minded on behalf of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as, both in my bonds
Martin Luther—Epistle Sermons, Vol. III

How the Silent and the Talkative are to be Admonished.
(Admonition 15.) Differently to be admonished are the over-silent, and those who spend time in much speaking. For it ought to be insinuated to the over-silent that while they shun some vices unadvisedly, they are, without its being perceived, implicated in worse. For often from bridling the tongue overmuch they suffer from more grievous loquacity in the heart; so that thoughts seethe the more in the mind from being straitened by the violent guard of indiscreet silence. And for the most part they
Leo the Great—Writings of Leo the Great

"Thou Shall Keep Him in Perfect Peace, Whose Mind is Stayed on Thee, Because He Trusteth in Thee. "
Isaiah xxvi. 3.--"Thou shall keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee." All men love to have privileges above others. Every one is upon the design and search after some well-being, since Adam lost that which was true happiness. We all agree upon the general notion of it, but presently men divide in the following of particulars. Here all men are united in seeking after some good; something to satisfy their souls, and satiate their desires. Nay, but they
Hugh Binning—The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning

An Analysis of Augustin's Writings against the Donatists.
The object of this chapter is to present a rudimentary outline and summary of all that Augustin penned or spoke against those traditional North African Christians whom he was pleased to regard as schismatics. It will be arranged, so far as may be, in chronological order, following the dates suggested by the Benedictine edition. The necessary brevity precludes anything but a very meagre treatment of so considerable a theme. The writer takes no responsibility for the ecclesiological tenets of the
St. Augustine—writings in connection with the donatist controversy.

An Exhortation to Peace and Unity
[ADVERTISEMENT BY THE EDITOR] This treatise was first published in 1688, after Bunyan's death, at the end of the second edition of the Barren Fig Tree, with a black border round the title. It was continued in the third edition 1692, but was subsequently omitted, although the Barren Fig Tree was printed for the same publisher. It has been printed in every edition of Bunyan's Works. Respect for the judgment of others leads me to allow it a place in the first complete edition, although I have serious
John Bunyan—The Works of John Bunyan Volumes 1-3

The Nature of Justification
Justification in the active sense (iustificatio, {GREEK SMALL LETTER DELTA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER IOTA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER KAPPA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER ALPHA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER IOTA WITH OXIA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER OMEGA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER SIGMA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER IOTA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER FINAL SIGMA}) is defined by the Tridentine Council as "a translation from that state wherein man is born a child of the first Adam, to the state of grace and of the adoption of the sons of God through the second Adam,
Joseph Pohle—Grace, Actual and Habitual

Concerning Justification.
Concerning Justification. As many as resist not this light, but receive the same, it becomes in them an holy, pure, and spiritual birth, bringing forth holiness, righteousness, purity, and all those other blessed fruits which are acceptable to God: by which holy birth, to wit, Jesus Christ formed within us, and working his works in us, as we are sanctified, so are we justified in the sight of God, according to the apostle's words; But ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in
Robert Barclay—Theses Theologicae and An Apology for the True Christian Divinity

Many specimens of the so-called Wisdom Literature are preserved for us in the book of Proverbs, for its contents are by no means confined to what we call proverbs. The first nine chapters constitute a continuous discourse, almost in the manner of a sermon; and of the last two chapters, ch. xxx. is largely made up of enigmas, and xxxi. is in part a description of the good housewife. All, however, are rightly subsumed under the idea of wisdom, which to the Hebrew had always moral relations. The Hebrew
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

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