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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Proverbs 12:23

 

 

A prudent man conceals knowledge, But the heart of fools proclaims folly.

Adam Clarke Commentary

A prudent man concealeth knowledge - "If a fool hold his peace he may pass for a wise man." I have known men of some learning, so intent on immediately informing a company how well cultivated their minds were, that they have passed either for insignificant pedants or stupid asses.


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Proverbs 12:23". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/proverbs-12.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Another aspect of the truth of Proverbs 10:14.


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Bibliography
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Proverbs 12:23". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/proverbs-12.html. 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

Proverbs 12:23

A prudent man concealeth knowledge.

Concealing knowledge

I. When it is opportune (John 16:12).

II. When it is above the capacity of his hearers (1 Corinthians 2:2).

III. When likely to be misapplied (Mark 15:5).

IV. When sure of rejection (Matthew 7:6).

V. When calculated to injure the brethren (Leviticus 19:16).

VI. When to utter it would be only for self-display (Proverbs 27:2). (R. A. Griffin.)


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Bibliography
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Proverbs 12:23". The Biblical Illustrator. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/proverbs-12.html. 1905-1909. New York.

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

"A prudent man concealeth knowledge; But the heart of fools proclaimeth foolishness."

Keil's rendition is: "A prudent man conceals knowledge, and a heart-fool proclaims imbecility."[32] Moffatt has; "No cautious man blurts out all that he knows, but a fool comes out with his folly."[33]


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James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Bibliography
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Proverbs 12:23". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/proverbs-12.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

A prudent man concealeth knowledge,.... Of things natural or divine, which he is furnished with; not but that he is willing to communicate it, as he should, at proper times, in proper places, and to proper persons; but he does not needlessly and unseasonably speak of it; he does not make a show of it, or boast and brag of it: he modestly forbears to speak of what he knows, but when there is a necessity for it, even of that which may be lawfully divulged; which is a point of prudence and modesty; otherwise it is criminal to reveal secrets, or publish what should be kept private or should not be known. Aben Ezra interprets it of a wise man's hiding his knowledge in his heart, that he may not forget it;

but the heart of fools proclaimeth foolishness; that which they have in their hearts and minds, and which they take for deep knowledge, profound and recondite learning, they proclaim with their mouths in a noisy and clamorous way; and while they declare their ill shaped notions, their incoherent and unconnected ideas of things, they betray their ignorance and folly, as ostentatious men do.


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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855

Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 12:23". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/proverbs-12.html. 1999.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

concealeth — by his modesty (Proverbs 10:14; Proverbs 11:13).

heart … proclaimeth — as his lips speak his thoughts (compare Ecclesiastes 10:3).


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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.

Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Proverbs 12:23". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/proverbs-12.html. 1871-8.

Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament

23 A prudent man conceals knowledge,

And a heart-fool proclaims imbecility.

In 23a Proverbs 12:16 is repeated, only a little changed; also 16a corresponds with 23a, for, as is there said, the fool knows not how to keep his anger to himself, as here, that a heart-fool (cf. the lying mouth, 22a) proclaims (trumpets forth), or as Proverbs 13:16 says, displays folly without referring to himself the si tacuisses . To this forward charlatan blustering, which intends to preach wisdom and yet proclaims in the world mere folly, i.e. , nonsense and imbecility, and thereby makes itself troublesome, and only to be laughed at and despised, stands in contrast the relation of the אדם ערוּם , homo callidus , who possesses knowledge, but keeps it to himself without bringing it forth till an occasion presents itself for setting it forth at the right place, at the right time, and to the right man. The right motive also regulates such silence as well as modesty. But this proverb places it under the point of view of prudence.


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The Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament is a derivative of a public domain electronic edition.

Bibliography
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Proverbs 12:23". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/kdo/proverbs-12.html. 1854-1889.

Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

Note, 1. He that is wise does not affect to proclaim his wisdom, and it is his honour that he does not. He communicates his knowledge when it may turn to the edification of others, but he conceals it when the showing of it would only tend to his own commendation. Knowing men, if they be prudent men, will carefully avoid every thing that savours of ostentation, and not take all occasions to show their learning and reading, but only to use it for good purposes, and then let their own works praise them. Ars est celare artem - The perfection of art is to conceal it. 2. He that is foolish cannot avoid proclaiming his folly, and it is his shame that he cannot: The heart of fools, by their foolish words and actions, proclaims foolishness; either they do not desire to hide it, so little sense have they of good and evil, honour and dishonour, or they know not how to hide it, so little discretion have they in the management of themselves, Ecclesiastes 10:3.


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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.

Bibliography
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Proverbs 12:23". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mhm/proverbs-12.html. 1706.

Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible

Foolish men proclaim to all the folly and emptiness of their minds.


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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.

Bibliography
Henry, Matthew. "Concise Commentary on Proverbs 12:23". "Matthew Henry Concise Commentary

on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mhn/proverbs-12.html. 1706.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

A prudent man concealeth knowledge: but the heart of fools proclaimeth foolishness.

Concealeth — He does not unseasonably utter what he knows.

Foolishness — Betrays his ignorance and folly.


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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.

Bibliography
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 12:23". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/proverbs-12.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Proverbs 12:23 A prudent man concealeth knowledge: but the heart of fools proclaimeth foolishness.

Ver. 23. A prudent man concealeth knowledge,] scil., Till he finds a fit time to vent it; for then "the lips of the wise do spread abroad knowledge." [Proverbs 15:7] He is no niggard where there is need, but loves not to outlash. Taciturnity is a virtue with him; Tacitus a good historian, Persae magnam rem sustineri posse non credunt ab eo cui tacere grave sit; { a} - The Persians hold not him fit for great employments that cannot keep counsel, saith Curtius.

But the heart of fools proclaimeth foolishness.] In it is, and out it must: Pleni rimarum sunt, they can keep no counsel, hold no secrets, must needs tell all, whatever come of it: ut qui nec tacere nec prudenter loqui norint; they can neither hold their tongue nor use it to purpose. The moralist adviseth η σιγαν η κρεισσονα σιγης λεγειν, - either to say nothing, or that which is better than nothing. And Socrates, being asked by one how he might have the reputation of a wise man, First, said he, thou must hold thy tongue oftener than speak; secondly, thou must learn how to frame thy speeches.


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Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 12:23". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/proverbs-12.html. 1865-1868.

The Popular Commentary by Paul E. Kretzmann

v. 23. A prudent man concealeth knowledge, not showing off his knowledge upon every occasion; but the heart of fools proclaimeth foolishness, they are bound to expose their nonsense by their forward manner.


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Bibliography
Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Proverbs 12:23". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/kpc/proverbs-12.html. 1921-23.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Concealeth knowledge; he doth not vain-gloriously and unseasonably utter what he knows, but keeps it in his breast till he hath a fit occasion to bring it forth for God’s glory, and the good of others.

Proclaimeth foolishness; whilst he makes ostentation of his knowledge, he betrays his ignorance and folly. Compare Ecclesiastes 10:3.


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Bibliography
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Proverbs 12:23". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/proverbs-12.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

23. A prudent man — A wary or subtle man.

Concealeth knowledge — Does not tell all he knows; wisely retains his knowledge for his own benefit. Comp. Proverbs 10:14.

Proclaimeth foolishness — Or folly. Dr. Clarke has a sharp note on this: “I have,” he says, “known men of some learning so intent on immediately informing a company how well cultivated their minds were, that they have passed either for insignificant pedants or stupid asses.” “The heart of fools is in their mouth; but the mouth of the wise is in their heart.” Sirach 21:26. Comp. Proverbs 10:14; Proverbs 13:16; Proverbs 15:2.


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Bibliography
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Proverbs 12:23". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/proverbs-12.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Proverbs 12:23. A prudent man concealeth knowledge — He doth not vain- gloriously and unseasonably utter what he knows, but keeps it in his breast till he hath a fit occasion to bring it forth for God’s glory, and the good of others; but the heart of fools proclaimeth foolishness — The heart of a foolish man induces him to make ostentation of his knowledge, whereby he betrays his ignorance and folly.


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Bibliography
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Proverbs 12:23". Joseph Benson's Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/proverbs-12.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Cautious. Versutus is taken in a good, as well as in a bad sense. The wise are reserved in speaking, Proverbs xvi. 14. (Calmet)


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Bibliography
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Proverbs 12:23". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/proverbs-12.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

concealeth knowledge. Illustrations: Samuel (1 Samuel 9:27. Compare Proverbs 10:16); Nehemiah (Nehemiah 6:2, Nehemiah 6:3).

fools. Hebrew. kesil. See note on Proverbs 1:7. Not the same word as in verses: Proverbs 12:15, Proverbs 12:16, Proverbs 12:24

shall bear rule. Illustrations: Eleazar (Genesis 24:2, Genesis 24:10); Joseph (Genesis 39:4, Genesis 39:22); Jeroboam (1 Kings 11:28).


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Bibliography
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Proverbs 12:23". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/proverbs-12.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

A prudent man concealeth knowledge: but the heart of fools proclaimeth foolishness.

A prudent man concealeth knowledge - not that he grudges to impart his knowledge to others, but he does not obtrude it, nor make a display of it, nor babble out all he knows, in order that he maybe counted wise. But he brings it forth in the fitting time and place.

But the heart of fools proclaimeth foolishness. Trying to make a display of knowledge, it only betrays its foolishness. Fools, wise in their own esteem, babble out everything at random; not wisdom, which they have not, but foolishness, which they have. Proclaiming foolishness is attributed to the fool's heart, not to his mouth; for a fool's heart is in his mouth. He has no sense within. On the contrary, "The month of the wise is in their heart" (Sirach 21:26).


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Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Proverbs 12:23". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/proverbs-12.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(23) A prudent man concealeth knowledge.—Till the right opportunity for bringing it forth presents itself; while “the heart of fools proclaimeth foolishness,” cannot help blurting out and displaying its ignorance and folly, which it mistakes for wisdom.


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Bibliography
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Proverbs 12:23". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/proverbs-12.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

A prudent man concealeth knowledge: but the heart of fools proclaimeth foolishness.
A prudent
10:19; 11:13; 13:16
but
15:2; Ecclesiastes 10:3,12-14

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Bibliography
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Proverbs 12:23". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/proverbs-12.html.

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary

MAIN HOMILETICS OF Pro

THE CONCEALMENT OF KNOWLEDGE AND THE PROCLAMATION OF FOOLISHNESS

I. The concealment of knowledge is always a mark of self-control. It proves that a man has himself "well in hand." He is like a skilful workman whose tools are all arranged in order, so that he can select or reject them according to his need, or the need of others. Or he resembles a skilful rider who is thoroughly master of his steed, and can either arrest his course or urge him to put forth all his speed at any moment. If a man does not possess this power over himself he can never be a king among men, and even the possession of knowledge will not prove very serviceable either to himself or others. All the treasures of his mind ought to be under the lock and key of his will, and his will under that of his conscience, for,

II. Under some circumstances the concealment of knowledge is a mark of prudence.

1. It is so when to proclaim it would feed personal vanity. To reveal our knowledge from no other motive than to let others know that we know is to sin against ourselves by ministering to our pride. In such a case to conceal our knowledge is a means of grace to a man's own soul, and will carry with it the approbation of conscience.

2. It is also prudent to conceal knowledge when we know that it would not benefit others. It is not always seasonable to reveal even the most precious knowledge that we possess. Men are sometimes manifestly unprepared for its reception—unable to appreciate it. God concealed the gospel of salvation from the men of the early ages of the world because the "fulness of time" (Gal ) had not come, by which we understand that the world then was not in a condition to profit by a revelation of it. Our Lord charged His disciples not to disclose what they had witnessed on the mount of transfiguration until "the Son of Man should be risen again from the dead" (Mat 17:9). He exhorts them also not to "cast pearls before swine" (Mat 7:6). Hence we learn that concealment of knowledge is sometimes to be preferred to a revelation of it, and that a due regard must be had to the mental and moral condition of those to whom we would impart it. The revelation of scientific truth would only bewilder people of little education and small capacity, and the revelation of even moral truth would sometimes increase men's guilt. It would only lead them to blaspheme the God of Truth and scoff at His messengers, and thus harden them instead of enlightening them. And even when this is not the case men cannot always receive all kinds of moral truth. A parent conceals from his son when he is a boy a knowledge of things which he will reveal to him when he is a man. A wise teacher does not at once disclose to his pupil all that he desires him to learn. Both bring prudence into exercise, and give "line upon line, here a little and there a little" (Isa 28:10), following the example of the Great Father and Teacher in His dealings with His ancient people, and that of the Incarnate Son when He said to His disciples, "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now" (Joh 16:12). All who are possessors of knowledge should always remember to bring prudence into exercise in proclaiming it, whether it be Divine or human truth that they have to reveal.

III. The man who tells out all he knows without any regard to the fitness of time and circumstance proclaims only his foolishness. He is as much a proclaimer of his own folly as he who should sow seed on the high road instead of in ploughed ground. He may be very injurious to others. If a teacher of the young were to tell out all he knows about men and things to those under his care he might inflict on their spiritual nature a life-long injury. Indiscreet parents who utter all their mind and tell out all their experience in the hearing of their children not only "proclaim their foolishness," but are a curse to their family. They are like an unskilful surgeon who takes the first instrument that comes to hand, regardless of its fitness for the needs of the patient. They are like men upon a fiery steed without power to guide him—they not only put themselves in jeopardy but endanger the well-being of others.

OUTLINES AND SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS

Not that he grudges to impart his knowledge to others, but he does not obtrude it or make a display of it, nor babble out all that he knows, in order that he may be counted wise.… The fool, trying to make a display of knowledge, only betrays foolishness. Fools, wise in their own esteem, babble out everything at random; not wisdom, which they have not, but foolishness, which they have. Proclaiming foolishness is attributed to a fool's heart, not to his mouth, for a fool's heart is in his mouth. He has no sense within. On the contrary, "The mouth of the wise is in their heart" (Sir )—Fausset.

The Apostle concealed his knowledge for fourteen years, and even then mentioned it reluctantly, to vindicate his own rightful claims of apostleship (2Co ). Elihu, though "full of matter," and longing to give vent, yet prudently concealed his knowledge, till his elders had opened his way (Job 32:6; Job 32:18-19). Circumstances may sometimes prudently dictate concealment. Abraham spared the feelings of his family, and cleared his own path, by hiding the dreadful message of his God (Gen 22:1-7). Joseph concealed his kindred for the discipline of his brethren (Gen 42:7). Esther, from a prudent regard of consequences to herself (Est 2:10). Nothing can justify speaking contrary to the truth. But we are not always obliged to tell the whole truth. Jeremiah answered all that he was bound to speak; not all that he might have spoken (Jer 38:24). In all these cases "the wise man's heart will discern both time and judgment" (Ecc 8:5; Ecc 10:2).… The fool is dogmatical in dispute, when wiser men are cautious. He is teaching, when he ought to take the learner's place; his self-confidence proclaiming his emptiness (1Ti 6:3-4).—Bridges.

True are the words of Paul, "knowledge puffeth up," and the augmentation of it may only puff up the more. This produces a very anomalous and incongruous combination, a mind filled with solid information and a heart distended with the emptiness of vanity. And this generates the pedant, one of the most contemptible and disgusting of all characters—the man who is ever showing off, ever aiming at effect, ever speaking as nobody else would speak, ever dwelling on his own theme in his own terms, and in every word and look and movement, courting notice of self, as the only object of his own admiration, or worthy of the admiration of others. What a fool even the man of knowledge does at times make of himself! exemplifying the truth of the old quaint adage, "An ounce of mother wit is worth a pound of clergy." Still it is true that, the more extensive the knowledge which a man acquires, he is, generally speaking, the more conscious of remaining ignorance, and consequently the less vain; that it is in the early stages of acquirement that self-sufficiency and conceit are most apparent. It is the empty that are usually the most prone to vain glory.—Wardlaw.

"Prudent." subtle, from a root meaning crafty, cunning; opposed to "stupid," literally, fat, crass. The saint has the highest craft, and the lost are more fat in mind than even the beasts around them.—Miller.

Another aspect of the truth of chap. Pro . The wise is not quick to utter even the wisdom that deserves utterance. He broods over it, tests it, lives by it.—Plumptre.

We deem them not the most thrifty husbands and wealthiest men that will lock up nothing in their coffers, nor keep anything close in their purses, but carry all their money in their hands and show it to every comer-by, and so do they that have no more matter within their hearts, than all the standers-by shall hear their lips deliver. It is a point of humility to be silent in modesty, and their words are so much more desirable, and better accepted as they are rare, and few, and seasonable. The ointment that is close kept in a box will yield a sweeter savour when it is poured out, than that which is continually open. A wine fresh from the vessel hath a better relish than that which was drawn long before there was any need of it.—Dod.

Think not silence the wisdom of fools, but, if rightly timed, the honour of wise men who have not the infirmity but the virtue of taciturnity; and speak not of the abundance, but the well-weighed thoughts of their hearts. Such silence may be eloquence, and speak thy worth above the power of words. Make such an one thy friend, in whom princes may be happy, and great counsels successful. Let him have the key of thy heart who hath the lock of his own, which no temptation can open; where thy secrets may lastingly lie, like the lamp in the urn of Olybius, alive and alight, but close and invisible.—Sir T. Browne.


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Bibliography
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Proverbs 12:23". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/phc/proverbs-12.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.

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