Let Another Man Praise Thee
Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth;
a stranger, and not thine own lips.
1. This proverb is simple to understand: Don’t brag about yourself!
2. Prov. 20:6 – “Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness.”
3. It is human nature to speak highly of ourselves.
4. Evidently, this is another aspect of human nature that Solomon observed so often that he decided to write about it.
5. Instinctively, we all know it is wrong; yet which one of us has not given himself or herself a pat on the back?
6. It is something that all proud human beings do, but here we are specifically commanded to NOT do it!
Let another man praise thee
1. Solomon begins the subject of praise and says, “Let someone else do it.”
2. Praise defined:
a. To make to shine; boast; to give glory to; to celebrate; to commend.
3. It’s not wrong if others praise you… to commend you for an achievement or for work accomplished.
a. You may get an award at work for a job well done.
b. You may be praised by your boss and given a promotion.
c. You may receive recognition from your coworkers for going the extra mile.
d. A neighbor might praise you for helping him paint his fence.
e. The police might praise you for pulling someone out of a burning car on route 93.
f. The godly husband praises his wife, the virtuous woman in Proverbs chapter 31.
g. There are times when it is fitting for others to praise you.
h. This is not wrong. It’s kind of natural.
i. God wants us to be thankful people; so it’s natural for others to be thankful when someone helps them or does a good job. It’s natural to thank them and praise them for a job well done.
4. Of course, we are not to SEEK praise of men. That is wrong.
a. We are not to do good deeds to be SEEN of men or to receive praise from men.
b. Matt. 6:1-4 – The Lord addressed that issue and said that good deeds are not to be done to be seen or praised by men.
c. But sometimes, it’s impossible not to be seen. If you pull someone out of a burning car, of course they will see you and praise you for it.
d. But motive is key here. It is not to be done for the PURPOSE of being seen and praised.
e. In one sense, we are to “let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matt. 5:16)
f. But on the other hand, we are not to do good works so that WE would be seen and that we would get the glory.
5. But if for a good deed or for excellent work you are praised by others, Solomon says, “Let another man praise thee.”
a. God wants others to be thankful and grateful; so don’t stand in the way of that.
b. Sometimes, refusing thanks or refusing to be recognized can even be a form of false humility.
c. Again, motive is everything in situations like this.
d. Paul warned about that in Col. 2:18: voluntary humility:
• In Col. 2, the false teachers LOVED to be thought of as humble.
• The Ascetics thought themselves to be humble because they didn’t eat certain foods; they restricted themselves in many simple pleasures of life—to be seen of men.
• In fact, they were PROUD of their humility!
• Voluntary humility is a phony, outward, humility which brings great pleasure to the hypocrite behind the mask.
• It is an outward appearance of humility designed to draw attention to self… and make self appear to be humble, and thus, spiritual.
• It is voluntary in the sense that they can turn it on or off at will. It is a humility of their own choosing…
e. Solomon’s point in Proverbs is that it is not wrong for someone to thank or praise you—IF it is genuine.
f. There are occasions when it is fitting.
6. But the expression “let another man praise thee” is NOT the main point of the proverb. The main point is found in what follows.
Not thine own mouth…
1. The main point here is that if praise does come, make sure that it comes from someone else’s mouth and NOT from your mouth!
2. While there may be times when it is acceptable for others to praise you, there are virtually NO times when it is fitting for one to praise himself!
3. I suppose there might be a few exceptions:
a. At a job interview you have to highlight your abilities, skills and experience.
b. If you are running for office, you also have to let others know areas where you excel.
c. But even there we need to be careful not to exaggerate or embellish your résumé.
d. But that is the exception and not the rule. (Remember, these are proverbs.)
A stranger, and not thine own lips.
1. The second part of the proverb repeats the same theme in different words.
2. A stranger
a. Stranger defined: A foreigner; alien; someone unknown.
b. The verb does not appear here and must be supplied from the context.
c. In other words, “let a stranger praise thee” but not your own lips.
d. The point of using the term “stranger” here is that praise can come from ANYBODY but yourself!
e. It might be from a longtime friend or from a total stranger, but it should NOT come from you.
f. A stranger can boast about your accomplishments but SELF should never boast.
3. Both verses one and two speak about boasting.
a. The words “boast” in vs.1 & “praise” in vs.2 are the same Hebrew word.
b. Verse one speaks of boasting about what we will do tomorrow.
c. Verse two speaks of boasting about what we did in the past.
d. In both cases, the individual is told to NOT boast about yesterday or today.
e. And yet we do. We boast in ways we might not even think of as boasting – the little innuendos about:
• Our walk with God (how faithful we are; how much we pray; witness; give; serve; etc.); or innuendos about
• Our abilities (all our talents and skills);
• Our accomplishments (all we have done; awards received; things we done;
• Our self-importance (who we know; our position; our wealth; our possessions; where we’ve been; etc.)
f. We are commanded to NOT boast or to praise ourselves. If there is any praise to be given, let it come from someone else—even a stranger… anyone but self!
g. Prov. 25:27 – To glory in self—to boast about yourself before others—is not real glory. It is obnoxious and makes people sick—like eating too much honey.
4. If we could summarize our proverb it would be “avoid self-praise.”
a. Praising or boasting about what we will do tomorrow is presumption.
b. Praising or boasting about what we did yesterday is pride.
c. Both are sinful.
d. We should have a lowly concept of self. If others praise us, so be it… but it should not come from SELF.
e. John the Baptist said to Jesus about himself, “I am not worthy to loose your shoes.”
f. Jesus said of John the Baptist, “Among them that are born of women, there hath not arisen a greater than John the Baptist.”