Study Guide

Proverbs Chapter 17

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Chapter 17

In Praise of Bribes

  • Continuing to riff on old themes, the author states that it's better to have a little dry food with quiet (meaning, with peace) than to have feasting with strife.
  • A slave who acts wisely will end up ruling over the foolish children of his or her master.
  • In the same way that a crucible forges silver and gold, so does God test the heart.
  • People who insult the poor also are insulting God.
  • The author goes on to praise forgiveness and also bribes (weirdly enough, they're referred to as being like "magic stones" that give you whatever you want—sounds like a video game).
  • Grandchildren are like a crown for their grandparents, and the parents of children are their glory—meaning, they supposedly know what's right all the time or something.
  • It's better to meet a she-bear who's lost her cubs than it is to meet a fool who's really deep into folly at the present moment.
  • If you do evil back to someone who did good for you—you're in for destruction in a big way.

The Virtues of Shutting Up 

  • Strife starts like water that begins breaking through a dam and quickly becomes unstoppable. So shut it down before it gains too much momentum.
  • God dislikes people who condemn the righteous and commend the wicked (as you might've easily guessed, based on the author's other opinions).
  • Also, don't make any rash pledges to your neighbor (or, even, any pledges at all, depending on how you interpret it).
  • However, reversing the earlier position on bribes, Proverbs now attacks bribes—or, at least, it attacks accepting bribes (though earlier, it had only commended giving bribes).
  • The author continues attacking the same targets as earlier: foolish children, abusing the innocent, etc. This chapter ends by saying that quietness is an attribute of the wise—even fools who can manage to be quiet will be considered intelligent by others.

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