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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Proverbs 14:23

 

 

In all labor there is profit, But mere talk leads only to poverty.

Adam Clarke Commentary

In all labor there is profit - If a man work at his trade, he gains by it; if he cultivate the earth, it will yield an increase; and in proportion as he labors, so will be his profit: but he who talks much labors little. And a man words is seldom a man of deeds. Less talk and more work, is one of our own ancient advices.


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:23". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/proverbs-14.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

The contrast between a single, thorough deed, and the mere emptiness of speech.


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Bibliography
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:23". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/proverbs-14.html. 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

Proverbs 14:23

In all labour there is profit.

Work

The doctrine of the Proverbs is, that what is good for the next world is good for this. He who wishes to go out of this world happily must first go through this world wisely. Men do, to a very great extent, earn for themselves their good or evil fortunes, and are filled with the fruit of their own devices. True religion is a thing which mixes itself up with all the cares and business of this mortal life, this work-clay world. “In all labour there is profit.” Whatsoever is worth doing, is worth doing well. It is always worth while to take pains. It is a short-sighted mistake to avoid taking trouble, for God has so well ordered this world that industry always repays itself. God has set thee thy work; then fulfil it. Fill it full. Throw thy whole heart and soul into it. Do it carefully, accurately, completely. All neglect, carelessness, slurring over work is a sin; a sin against God, who has called us to our work; a sin against our country and our neighbours, who ought to profit by our work; and a sin against ourselves also, for we ought to be made wiser and better men by our work. Then take pains. Whatever you do, do thoroughly. Whatever you begin, finish. Look upon your work as an honourable calling, and as a blessing to yourselves, not merely as a hard necessity, a burden which must be done. Be sure it will bring its reward with it. Work, hard work, is a blessing to the soul and character of the man who works. Idleness makes a man restless, discontented, greedy, the slave of his own lusts and passions. Being forced to work, and forced to do your best, will breed in you temperance and self-control, diligence and strength of will, cheerfulness and content, and a hundred virtues which the idle man will never know. If you wish to see how noble a calling work is, consider God Himself, who, although He is perfect, and does not need, as we do, the training which comes by work, yet works for ever with and through His Son Jesus Christ, who said, “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.” Think of God as a King working for ever for the good of His subjects, a Father working for ever for the good of His children, for ever sending forth light, and life, and happiness to all created things, and ordering all things in heaven and earth by a providence so perfect that not a sparrow falls to the ground without His knowledge, and the very hairs of your head are all numbered. And then think of yourselves, called to copy God, each in his station, and to be fellow-workers with God for the good of each other and of ourselves. Called to work because you are made in God’s image, and redeemed to be the children of God. (C. Kingsley, M.A.)

Labour better than talk

Sometimes it is difficult to see where the profit is. We speak of having spent our strength for nought, of having run in vain, of having brought the day to a close without having filled our arms with sheaves. There is, however, a sense in which all labour ends in advantage: it is so in learning, in study, in the prosecution of art, in devotion to business, in the study of character, indeed, throughout the whole circle of human thought and occupation. A man may write much, and may throw his writing away because it does not fulfil his expectation or purpose, yet the very act of having written it has been as a discipline to the writer, has stirred his faculties, and by even revealing weakness has prepared the way for the cultivation of strength. Every time the arm is lifted the muscles are improved. Every time the fresh air is breathed a blessing of healthfulness is left behind. Labour means industry, devotion, conscientious attention to affairs that demand our interest: it is set in apposition to the talk of the lips--mere breathing, mere foaming, mere boasting, wordy declarations of great programmes which are never brought to realisation. The teaching of the text would seem to be that labour brings wealth, and mere talk brings penury. If this is so the law is obviously just and good. Society would no longer be consolidated and secure if mere talk brought men to honour and wealth and solidity of position. In all society the labourers must be more in number than the talkers. Understand that nothing is here said against talk; society cannot do without speech; eloquence has a great part to play in the education of the world; what is spoken against is the talk of the lips--that is, mere talk, talking for talking’s sake, love of hearing one’s self speak, talking with the lips when the heart is taking no part in the communication: when a man truly talks his intellect, his heart, his conscience, his judgment, his whole being speaks; every word is marked by sacredness of purpose, every promise is a vow, every declaration binds the soul. It must not be understood that anything whatever is said in disparagement of talk, speech, eloquence; we must again and again remind ourselves that the talk that is con- demned is formal, mechanical, labial, taking nothing of virtue out of the speaker, and communicating nothing of strength to the hearer. (J. Parker, D.D.)

Labour, talk, wealth

I. Profitable labour. “In all labour there is profit.” The word “all” here of course must be taken with limitation. Ill-directed labour is not profitable.

1. Labour is profitable to our physical health.

2. Labour is profitable to our character. It conduces to force of thought, energy of will, power of endurance, capacity of application.

3. Labour is profitable to our social comforts. By labour, honest, well-directed labour, man gets not only the necessities, but the comforts, the luxuries, the elegances, and the elevated positions of life. There is no true labour that is vain.

II. Impoverishing talk. “The talk of the lips tendeth only to penury.” All talk does not tend to penury. There is a talk that is profitable. The talk of the preacher, the lecturer, the statesman, the barrister, more often tend to affluence than to penury. Sir Walter Raleigh says, “He that is lavish in words is a niggard indeed. The shuttle, the needle, the spade, the brush, the chisel, all are still but the tongue.”

III. Dignifying wealth. “The crown of the wise is their riches.” The idea is, that a wise man would so use his wealth that it will become a crown to him. By using it to promote his own mental and spiritual cultivation, and to ameliorate the woes and to augment the happiness of the world, his wealth gives him a diadem more lustrous far than all the diamond crowns of kings. But the foolishness of fools is folly. This looked at antithetically means that the wealth of a fool adds no dignity to his character. (D. Thomas, D.D.)

Industry in religion

I. The uselessness of a religion which is merely verbal.

1. Do not misunderstand this. Gift of speech is from God. He is to be obeyed and honoured by it. Religion is to be verbal. Confess Christ. Exhort one another. Rebuke sin. Sing psalms and hymns. By our words we shall be justified or condemned.

2. But a merely verbal religion is useless. We may call Christ, Master and Lord, and disobey Him. We may dispute on religious subjects, and be without religion itself.

II. The necessity and advantage of practical industry in religion.

1. The Bible often speaks of spiritual “labour.”

2. “In all” such “labour there is profit.” The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. Resist the devil, and he shall flee from you.

God is not unrighteous to forget your work of faith and labour of love.

1. Your present interest calls you to it. There is a gathering before the final harvest; and they who sow plenteously shall gather plenteously.

2. Can you be active in His service who has done so great things for you?

3. Nor forget the punishment threatened to apostasy.

4. Keep in mind the reward promised.

5. Be solemnly impressed with the greatness of the work, and the brevity and uncertainty of time. (G. Cubitt.)

Restful work

1. Am I wrong in thinking that most of us take our religion much too easily? Where is the “labour”? Where is the difficult part? And yet a religious life is always set before us as a very difficult thing--Work. “Work while it is day.” “Go work in My vineyard.” “Strive to enter in.” “We labour to enter into the rest.” We get up in the morning, and we say a prayer, and perhaps read a few verses in the Bible, or some religious book, before we leave our room. During the day, we have one or two religious thoughts. Perhaps we do some act of kindness which costs us very little, and which we do with a very mixed motive. Am I understating the religion of your day? or am I overstating it? But does it correspond with the description which the Bible gives of a religious life? Does this satisfy the requirements of God? Is your conscience satisfied? Where is the self-denial? Where is the “labour”? Was this Christ’s life?

2. Why do you find your religion such a tame thing? Why do you make such a little progress? Why have not you the enthusiasm which some have? Why is your religion unattractive to other people? It wants “labour.” Nothing will restore that neglected field but hard work. Digging, tilling, watering, fencing, weeding, burning, that restores a field! True, it is all of grace. God must give the sunshine, and you must spread the seed to receive it. Let any farmer say what is the secret of fertilising his land. “Labour.” Let every man of great learning and high intellectual power say where is the secret of his great knowledge and mental power. He would say, “Fag.” Let every experienced Christian say what has made him what he is. He will say, “Labour; hard work.” “In all labour there is profit.”

3. The “labour” may differ in different persons. A woman’s work is very different to a man’s. The work of one class of society may be chiefly manual; but God makes His unity out of man’s diversity. I would that you would invest in “labour.” If you wish to lead a happy life, you will never find it in what you are to get, but you will find it in what you are to give. Get out of this pointless, easy-going, unsatisfying, useless life. Let me go with you a step or two. In the morning do not waste your time in bed, but wake early to the realities of life. Try to begin with a good thought. Discipline yourself, even in dressing. Take pains with your morning prayer. Have some arrangement. Stop the first wandering thought. And when you read your Bible, go deep. Look for inner meanings. All the day long, remember your own particular danger, and be on your guard about it. Try to raise your own and others’ conversation to a higher level. Set to yourself in life some special work which you believe God calls you to do. It may be for the poor, for the suffering, for the school, for the sick, for the heathen, for the Church, for Christ. And remember, whatever is worth doing at all is worth doing well. (J. Vaughan, M.A.)

Work lives when we are gone

Lord Shaftesbury, in one of his speeches, gave an admirable concluding piece of advice to all Christian workers--I trust that you will persevere, and by God’s blessing double and redouble your efforts. You cannot do better than take the saying that appears in one of Sir Walter Scott’s tales. An old Scotchman sends for his son, and says to him, “Be aye stickin’ in a tree, John; it’ll be dein guid to the world when you and I are gane.”

Labour a panacea for trouble

Life is full of trouble, and we must shoulder our share with the best grace we can. We may only seek to lighten it, for to avoid it is impossible. There is one sovereign panacea, however--work. Brooding over trouble is like surrounding oneself with a fog, it magnifies all objects seen through it. Occupation of the mind prevents this; any hard work, manual work even, gives the mind other matters of concern, and also tires the body so as to ensure sleep. He who knows that power is inborn, that people are weak because they look for good out of circumstances instead of themselves, throws himself upon his own personality, and stands in an erect position, commands his limbs, and succeeds in achievements, because he perceives it lies with himself to strengthen and develop his faculties.

Profit in all labour

In an article on “The lady who does her own work,” Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe dwells on the value of housework in giving the very healthiest form of exercise, and for the average woman shows it to be far preferable to the work of the masseurs, who, even in those days, more than thirty years ago, seem to have found plenty of patients. “Would it not be quite as cheerful and less expensive a process,” she asks, “if young girls from early life developed the muscles in sweeping, dusting, ironing, rubbing furniture, and all the multiplied domestic processess which our grandmother’s knew of?” and then adds: “I will venture to say that our grandmothers in a week went over every movement that any gymnast has invented, and went over them to some productive purpose, too.” Here is a hint that women with thin arms would do well to take. It is said to be really a fact that Clara Louise Kellogg, the singer, when a young girl, was much annoyed by the attenuated appearance of her arms when she began to don evening dress at her crowded concerts. Some one recommended a brisk use of the broom, which advice she followed, and soon had a round, plump member as the reward of her labour. If a thin, listless girl, with a dull eye and stare, can by any means be persuaded to try the “broom cure,” she will be astonished to find what a beautifier it really is.


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Bibliography
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Proverbs 14:23". The Biblical Illustrator. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/proverbs-14.html. 1905-1909. New York.

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

"In all labor there is profit; But the talk of the lips tendeth only to penury."

This proverb contrasts the talker with the worker. A recent rendition of the second clause is, "Mere talk leads only to poverty."[27]


Copyright Statement
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 14:23". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/proverbs-14.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

In all labour there is profit,.... Or "abundance"F21מותר "abundantia", Tigurine version, Baynus, Mercerus, Gejerus. ; much is got by it, food, raiment, riches, wealth, wisdom, honour; either with the labour of the hands or head, and nothing is to be got without labour; and he that is laborious in his calling, whether it be by manual operation, working with his hands that which is good; or by hard study, much reading, and constant meditation, is like to gain much for his own use and the good of others;

but the talk of the lips tendeth only to penury; or "want"F23למחסור "ad defectum", Pagninus, Montanus; "ad egestatem", Tigurine version, Piscator, Cocceius. , of food and raiment, the common necessaries of life; a man that spends his time in idle talk, boasting of what he can do and does, and yet does nothing, is in a fair way to come to beggary: so all talk about wisdom, and knowledge, and religion, without making use of the proper means of improvement, tends to the poverty of the mind; and generally they are most empty of knowledge, natural or spiritual, that talk and brag most of it; empty casks make the greatest sound; good discourse, wholesome words, sound doctrine, thoroughly digested, tend indeed to edification, to the enriching of the mind; but vain words, the enticing words of men's wisdom; logomachies, striving about words to no profit; and all great swelling words of vanity, which are all mere lip labour; they tend to spiritual poverty and leanness of soul.


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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 14:23". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/proverbs-14.html. 1999.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

labour — painful diligence.

talk … penury — idle and vain promises and plans.


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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 14:23". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/proverbs-14.html. 1871-8.

Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament

There now follows a considerable series of proverbs (Proverbs 14:23-31) which, with a single exception (Proverbs 14:24), have all this in common, that one or two key-words in them begin with מ .

23 In all labour there is gain,

But idle talk leadeth only to loss.

Here the key-words are מותר and מחסור (parallel Proverbs 21:5, cf. with Proverbs 11:24), which begin with מ . עצב is labour, and that earnest and unwearied, as at Proverbs 10:22. If one toils on honestly, then there always results from it something which stands forth above the endeavour as its result and product, vid ., at Job 30:11, where it is shown how יתר , from the primary meaning to be stretched out long, acquires the meaning of that which hangs over, shoots over, copiousness, and gain. By the word of the lips, on the contrary, i.e. , purposeless and inoperative talk ( דּבר שׂפתים as Isaiah 36:5, cf. Job 11:2), nothing is gained, but on the contrary there is only loss, for by it one only robs both himself and others of time, and wastes strength, which might have been turned to better purpose, to say nothing of the injury that is thereby done to his soul; perhaps also he morally injures, or at least discomposes and wearies others.


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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 14:23". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/kdo/proverbs-14.html. 1854-1889.

Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

Note, 1. Working, without talking, will make men rich: In all labour of the head, or of the hand, there is profit; it will turn to some good account or other. Industrious people are generally thriving people, and where there is something done there is something to be had. The stirring hand gets a penny. It is good therefore to keep in business, and to keep in action, and what our hand finds to do to do it with all our might. 2. Talking, without working, will make men poor. Those that love to boast of their business and make a noise about it, and that waste their time in tittle-tattle, in telling and hearing new things, like the Athenians, and, under pretence of improving themselves by conversation, neglect the work of their place and day, they waste what they have, and the course they take tends to penury, and will end in it. It is true in the affairs of our souls; those that take pains in the service of God, that strive earnestly in prayer, will find profit in it. But if men's religion runs all out in talk and noise, and their praying is only the labour of the lips, they will be spiritually poor, and come to nothing.


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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 14:23". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mhm/proverbs-14.html. 1706.

Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible

Labour of the head, or of the hand, will turn to some good account. But if men's religion runs all out in talk and noise, they will come to nothing.


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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 14:23". "Matthew Henry Concise Commentary

on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mhn/proverbs-14.html. 1706.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

In all labour there is profit: but the talk of the lips tendeth only to penury.

The talk — Idle talking will bring a man to poverty.


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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 14:23". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/proverbs-14.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Proverbs 14:23 In all labour there is profit: but the talk of the lips [tendeth] only to penury.

Ver. 23. In all labour there is profit.] In all honest labour, for there are those who "do wickedly with both hands earnestly"; and "what profit have such of all their labour?" [Ecclesiastes 1:3] Do they not take pains to go to hell? There are also that labour about ματαιοτεκνηματα, toilsome toys that pay not for the pains - that do magno conatu magnas nugas agere. Such a one was Paleottus, Archbishop of Bonony, who made a great book of the shadow of Christ’s body in a sindon; and it was commented upon by the professor there. This Aristotle calls ‘laborious loss of time.’ (a) The apostle calls upon men to "labour, working with their hands the thing that is good"; so shall "they have," not for their own uses only, but also "to give to him that needeth." [Ephesians 4:28]

But the talk of the lips tendeth only to penury.] Great talkers are do-littles, for the most part. Corniculas citius in Africa, quam res rationesque solidus in Turriani scriptis invenies, saith one; - Turrian was a very wordy man; ye cannot find matter, for words, in him; - λογους μεν Eρμοδωρος εμπορευεται. The Athenians fought against Philip with words and messages, saith one; but Rabshekah could tell Hezekiah that war was to be made - so is work to be done - not with words and the talk of the lips, but with counsel and strength. [Isaiah 36:5] And "why stand you looking upon one another? Get you down to Egypt," said Jacob to his sons. [Genesis 42:1]


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Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:23". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/proverbs-14.html. 1865-1868.

The Popular Commentary by Paul E. Kretzmann

v. 23. In all labor there is profit, if a person is really diligent and earnest in his work, results will show; but the talk of the lips, idle talk, not backed up by honest toil, tendeth only to penury, brings the one who practices it to want.


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Bibliography
Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:23". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/kpc/proverbs-14.html. 1921-23.

Sermon Bible Commentary

Proverbs 14:23

I. In the text Solomon gives us a lesson which holds good through all matters of life. That it is a short-sighted mistake to avoid taking trouble; for God has so ordered the world that industry will always repay itself. God has set thee thy work, then fulfil it. Fill it full. Throw thy whole heart and soul into it. Do it carefully, accurately, completely. It will be better for thee and for thy children after thee. All neglect, carelessness, slurring over work, is a sin—a sin against God, who has called us to our work; a sin against our country and our neighbours, who ought to profit by our work; and a sin against ourselves also, for we ought to be made wiser and better men by our work.

II. Work, hard work, is a blessing to the soul and character of the man who works. Being forced to work and forced to do your best will breed in you temperance and self-control, diligence and strength of will, cheerfulness and content, and a hundred virtues which the idle man will never know. If you wish to see how noble a calling work is, consider God Himself, who although He is perfect does not need, as we do, the training which comes by work, yet works for ever with and through His Son, Jesus Christ, who said, "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work." God. works, because, though He needs nothing, all things need Him. You are called to copy God, each in his station, and to be fellow-workers with God for the good of each other and yourselves; called to work because you are made in God's image, and redeemed to be the children of God.

C. Kingsley, Town and Country Sermons, p. 269.


References: Proverbs 14:24.—Homiletic Magazine, vol. viii., p. 252. Proverbs 14:25.—W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven, 1st series, p. 396. Proverbs 14:25-31.—R. Wardlaw, Lectures on Proverbs, vol. ii., p. 1.


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Bibliography
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:23". "Sermon Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/sbc/proverbs-14.html.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Proverbs 14:23. In all labour there is profit All labour will produce abundance, but garrulity nothing but want. Houbigant. Solomon here separates the fruit of the labour of the tongue and the labour of the hands; as if want was the revenue of the one, and wealth the revenue of the other: for it commonly happens, that they who talk liberally, boast much, and promise mighty matters, are beggars; and receive no benefit by their boastings, or by any thing they discourse of. Nay, rather for the most part, such men are not industrious and diligent in their employments, but only feed and fill themselves with words as with wind. Certainly, as the poet says, Qui silet est firmus; he who is conscious to himself of proficiency in his endeavours, contents himself with inward applause in his own breast, and holds his peace; but he who knows within himself that he only hunts after vain-glory, and hath nothing else to live upon, talks abundantly, and reports wonder unto others. See Lord Bacon as above.


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Bibliography
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:23". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/proverbs-14.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Diligent labour is the ready way to riches, but idle talking, wherein too many spend most of their precious thee, will bring a man to poverty.


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Bibliography
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Proverbs 14:23". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/proverbs-14.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

23. Profit — Something to show for the toil.

Talk of the lips — Literally, word or thing of the lips, that which is only of the lips — mere talk.

Only to penury — To lack or want. The idea is, that ordinary labour usually leaves something over; but mere talk leaves something lacking. Comp. Matthew 12:36.


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Bibliography
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:23". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/proverbs-14.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Proverbs 14:23. In all labour there is profit, &c. — Diligent labour is the ready way to riches; but idle talking, wherein too many spend most of their precious time, will bring a man to poverty. Houbigant renders the verse, All labour will produce abundance, but garrulity nothing but want.

“Solomon here,” says Lord Bacon, as quoted by Bishop Patrick, “separates the fruit of the labour of the tongue, and of the labour of the hands; as if want was the revenue of the one, and wealth the revenue of the other. For it commonly comes to pass that they who talk liberally, boast much, and promise mighty matters, are beggars, and receive no benefit by their brags, or by any thing they discourse of. Nay, rather, for the most part, such men are not industrious and diligent in their employment; but only feed and fill themselves with words as with wind.”


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Bibliography
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:23". Joseph Benson's Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/proverbs-14.html. 1857.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

In all labour there is profit: but the talk of the lips tendeth only to penury.

In all labour (Hebrew, painful labour) there is profit: but the talk of the lips (tendeth) only to penury. In all honest labour there is profit, soon or late; but no profit, nay, rather 'penury,' results from empty talk. Loud talkers are lazy workers.


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Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:23". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/proverbs-14.html. 1871-8.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

In all labour there is profit: but the talk of the lips tendeth only to penury.
all
12:24; 28:19; John 6:27; Hebrews 6:10,11
but
10:10; Ecclesiastes 5:3; 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12; 1 Timothy 5:13

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Bibliography
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:23". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/proverbs-14.html.

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary

MAIN HOMILETICS OF Pro

THE PROFIT OF LABOUR

1. The profit of social honour. It is both natural and right that a man should desire the respect and good-will of those around him. Nothing is more certain than that he who lives without working in some form or another, either for himself or for others, will not receive this reward. Those who are poor, and do nothing, sink into beggary and consequent dishonour; those who are rich, and have nothing to do—or rather, who do nothing—are not held in honour, either in life or after death. "Pray, sir, of what disease did your brother die?" said the Marquis Spinola one day to Sir Horace Vere. "He died, sir," was the answer, "of having nothing to do." "Alas!" said Spinola, "that is enough to kill any general of us all." Honour cannot come from idleness, but labour brings not only honour while living, but gives us a title to be regarded with respect after we have left the world. Of no man who has lived to any purpose can it ever be said that he died of having nothing to do.

2. The profit of bodily health. A body which does not labour, either with brain or hand, is an easy prey to disease. The brain if used becomes strengthened for further use. The whole bodily frame is kept in health by wholesome work.

3. Profit to the moral nature. Labour calls for some form of self-sacrifice. It developes habits of painstaking and diligence which are helpful to a man's moral nature. It helps the spiritual part of the man by helping the bodily, inasmuch as a strong and healthy body is the best instrument for a morally healthy soul.

4. The profit of material gain. In all free countries a man gets some wages for work. It may not be a fair remuneration, but there is some profit of this kind attached to it. There are, of course, exceptions to this proverb, as for instance, the labour of the man who devises evil in the former verse, or that of those whose poverty compels them to work, even to the injury of soul and body, for a miserable pittance which is not worthy the name of wages. Such, alas, is the lot of many even in our own country. The antithesis of this proverb, simply states that talk will not do instead of work. When men do nothing but talk, their talk is certain to be of that worthless kind condemned in chapter Pro (See Homiletics on page 168).

OUTLINES AND SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS

Get leave to work

In this world—'tis the best you get at all;

For God, in cursing, gives us better gifts

Than man in benediction. God says "Sweat

For foreheads," men say "Crowns" and so we are crowned,

Ay, gashed by some tormenting circle of steel

Which snaps with a secret spring. Get work, get work;

Be sure 'tis better than what you work to get.

Be sure, no earnest work

Of any honest creature, howbeit weak,

Imperfect, ill-adapted, fails so much,

It is not gathered as a grain of sand,

To enlarge the sum of human action used

For carrying out God's end.

Mrs. Browning.

There is a perennial nobleness, and even sacredness in work. Where he never so benighted, forgetful of his high calling, there is always hope in a man that actually and earnestly works: in idleness alone is there perpetual despair. Work, never so mammonish, mean, is in communication with nature: the real desire to get work done will itself lead one more and more to truth, to nature's appointments and regulations, which are truth. The latest gospel in this world is, Know thy work and do it. "Know thyself:" long enough has that poor self of thine tormented thee; thou wilt never get to "know" it, I believe! Think it not thy business, this of knowing thyself; thou art an unknowable individual; know what thou can'st work at; and work at it, like a Hercules! That will be thy better plan. It has been written, "an endless significance lies in work," a man perfects himself by working. Foul jungles are cleared away, fair seed-fields rise instead, and stately cities; and withal the man himself first ceases to be a jungle and foul unwholesome desert thereby. Consider how, even in the meanest sorts of labour, the whole soul of a man is composed into a kind of real harmony, the instant he sets himself to work! Doubt, Desire, Sorrow, Remorse, Indignation, Despair itself, all these like hell-dogs lie beleaguering the soul of the poor day-worker, as of every man: but he bends himself with free valour against his task, and all these are stilled, all these shrink murmuring far off into their caves. The man is now a man. The blessed glow of labour in him, is it not as purifying fire, wherein all poison is burnt up, and sour smoke itself thereby is made bright blessed flame?—Carlyle.

Industry need not wish; and he that lives upon hopes will die fasting. There are no gains without pains, then help hands, for I have no lands, or, if I have, they are smartly taxed. He that hath a trade hath an estate, and he that hath a calling hath an office of profit and honour; but then the trade must be worked at, and the calling followed, or neither the estate nor the office will enable us to pay our taxes.—Franklin.

He that labours is tempted by one devil; he that is idle by a thousand. Italian Proverb.

As in religion, it is not the man who speaks but the man who does that gives proof of his sincerity; so in earthly business, it is not the man who talks fluently, and lays down plausible schemes of business, but the man who labours and does all his work that has reason to expect the blessing of Providence. Those that wear their working instruments in their tongues are always the most useless, and sometimes the most hurtful members of society.—Lawson.

A busy tongue makes idle hands. If the mouth will be heard, the noisy loom must stop; and he who prefers the sound of his tongue to that of his shuttle, had need at the same time be a man who prefers talk to meat, hunger to fulness, starvation to plenty.—Wardlaw.

Rich beyond conception is the profit of spiritual labour (chap. Pro ). "The Son of Man gives to the labourer enduring meat. The violent take the kingdom of heaven by force. The labour of love God is not unrighteous to forget" (Joh 6:27; Heb 6:10). But the talk of the lips gives husks, not bread. Where there are only shallow conceptions of the Gospel, and no experimental enjoyment of Christian establishment, it is "all running out in noise." Says Henry: "There is no instruction because there is no ‘good treasure within' (Mat 12:35). "What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another?" is a searching question (Luk 24:17). Ministers, doctrines, the externals, circumstantials, disputations on religion—all may be the mere skirts and borders of the great subject, utterly remote from the heart and vitals.… A religious tongue without a godly heart tendeth only to penury.—Bridges.

This is a difficult sentence. We have found it hard to vindicate its sense. The grammar is all obvious, and on that very account the reading is singularly fixed. But "all labour" is anything else than "profitable;" and the "talk of the lips" (chap. Pro ) is one of the grandest ways of doing good among men. We understand it in a religious sense. All these proverbs might be worldly maxims, some of them actually in use; all of them with a show of wisdom; some of them utterly unsound; but all of them, when adopted by the Holy Ghost, and turned in the direction of the Gospel, true, in their religious aspect. So, now, in this peculiar instance, "all labour" might seem to promise well among the thrifty, but sometimes ruins men, even in this world, and is sure to ruin them, if worldly, in the world to come. But now, as a religious maxim, it is without exception. "All labour" of a pious kind is marked, and will be gloriously rewarded out of the books of the Almighty. "All labour" of the impenitent, for their soul's salvation, has "profit;" literally, something over. It brings them nearer. If continued long enough, it will bring them in; that is, if it be honest (Heb 11:6); while "the talk of the lips," or, possibly, "an affair of the lips," that is, mere intention, does "only" mischief. Mark the balance between "all" and "only." Seeking is "all" of it an advance. Intending is "only" a retreat. One gains a step, the other loses one. Starting up actually to work, if honest, is an advance towards wealth; while intention, which is but an affair of the lips, tends only to make us poor indeed.—Miller.

When God gave man this curse, in labour thou shalt eat, he gave labour this blessing, to increase and multiply. It is a plant that prospereth in any soil, it is a seed that taketh well in any ground. For the labourer's hire is never kept back by God … Talking is not truly labour, the labour is rather to hold one's peace. According as St. Ambrose speaketh "It is a harder thing to know how to be silent than how to speak. For I know many to speak, when they know not how to hold their peace." But it is a rare thing for any man to hold his peace, when to speak no way doth profit him. But no labour is so well spared as this, and sitting still is nowhere so commendable as in the lips.—Jermin.

They that painfully and conscientiously employ themselves in any vocation, how base and contemptible soever it seem to be, are in the Lord's work, and Him they serve, as the apostle speaketh even of bondmen, and is it possible that His workmen shall work without wages or sufficient allowance? He reproveth those men which neglect to give to the hireling his recompense for his travail, or fail in due time to discharge it, and shall we think then that He will be careless of His own servants Himself? They have God's word for their security that they shall not be unprovided of so much as is expedient for them. If He say once that in all labour there is profit, they shall never have cause to contradict Him.—Dod.

It is only by labour that thought can be made healthy, and only by thought that labour can be made happy; and the two cannot be separated with impunity.—Ruskin.


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Bibliography
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:23". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/phc/proverbs-14.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.

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