but the one who is trustworthy 3 conceals a matter.
so is a faithful messenger to those who send him,
for he refreshes the heart 8 of his masters.
1 tn Heb “going about in slander.” This expression refers to a slanderer. The noun means “slander” and so “tale-bearer” (so KJV, ASV, NASB), “informer.” The related verb (רָכַל, rakhal) means “to go about” from one person to another, either for trade or for gossip.
2 tn The participle מְגַלֶּה (mÿgaleh) means “uncovering” or “revealing” secrets.
sn This is the intent of a person who makes disparaging comments about others – he cannot wait to share secrets that should be kept.
3 tn Heb “faithful of spirit.” This phrase describes the inner nature of the person as faithful and trustworthy. This individual will not rush out to tell whatever information he has heard, but will conceal it.
4 tn Heb “many a man calls/proclaims a man of his loyal love.” The Syriac and Tg. Prov 20:6 render the verb as passive: “many are called kind.” Other suggestions include: “most men meet people who will do them occasional kindnesses” (RSV); “many men profess friendship” (C. H. Toy, Proverbs [ICC], 384); “many men invite only the one who has shown them kindness.” The simplest interpretation in this context is “many proclaim [themselves to be] a kind person (= a loyal friend).” The contrast is between many who claim to be loyal friends and the one who actually proves to be faithful.
5 tn The shift to the expression “a man of faithfulness[es]” in the second line indicates that of all those who claim to show faithful love, it is rare to find one who is truly reliable (as the word אֱמוּנִים [’emunim] indicates clearly); cf. NAB, NRSV “one worthy of trust.”
6 sn The point of the rhetorical question is that a truly faithful friend is very difficult to find.
7 sn The emblem in the parallelism of this verse is the simile of the first line. Because snow at the time of harvest would be rare, and probably unwelcome, various commentators have sought to explain this expression. R. N. Whybray suggests it may refer to snow brought down from the mountains and kept cool in an ice hole (Proverbs [CBC], 148); this seems rather forced. J. H. Greenstone following Rashi, a Jewish scholar who lived
8 tn Heb “he restores the life [or, soul] of his masters.” The idea suggests that someone who sends the messenger either entrusts his life to him or relies on the messenger to resolve some concern. A faithful messenger restores his master’s spirit and so is “refreshing.”