Proverbs 17:7

ESV Fine speech is not becoming to a fool; still less is false speech to a prince.
NIV Eloquent lips are unsuited to a godless fool-- how much worse lying lips to a ruler!
NASB Excellent speech is not fitting for a fool, Much less are lying lips to a prince.
CSB Eloquent words are not appropriate on a fool's lips; how much worse are lies for a ruler.
NLT Eloquent words are not fitting for a fool; even less are lies fitting for a ruler.
KJV Excellent speech becometh not a fool: much less do lying lips a prince.

What does Proverbs 17:7 mean?

This proverbs uses a Hebrew phrasing that loses something in translation. The original refers to speech which is lofty, excessive, or overdone. This refers to something pretentious, as when someone puts on an air of authority or superiority. This is ill suited for a nābāl: a particular kind of "fool" (Proverbs 17:21; 30:22; 1 Samuel 25:3). David encountered a man referred to by the name Nabal, who was arrogantly ignorant and over-sure of his own importance (1 Samuel 25:1–13). The person who lacks spiritual wisdom (Proverbs 1:7) has no business speaking as if he has it (Proverbs 16:18; 21:24). Of course, many fools do exactly that—but their words don't "fit" with who they really are (Proverbs 26:1).

Solomon reiterates the idea of words that don't "fit" by speaking of rulers who tell lies (Proverbs 17:7). In fact, lies from those in authority are even less appropriate than arrogant speech from foolish people. It's beneath the dignity of such a position to be deceptive or dishonest. A ruler who deals is lies is worse than a fool—because his foolishness harms those over whom he has power. Isaiah 32:6 says, "The fool speaks folly, and his heart is busy with iniquity, to practice ungodliness, to utter error concerning the LORD, to leave the craving of the hungry unsatisfied, and to deprive the thirsty of drink."
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