What a proverb actually has communicated can only be ascertained from the results upon Society. If a proverb purports to describe Society, then what it describes can be known from the realities of the society it describes. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. (Hmm! That this proverb should have been said in the days before Facebook is surprising. It is a truly amazing indication of prophetic tendencies in the past that that someone should have thought to say that the proof of the pudding lies not in how good it looks in a FB status picture OR how many 'Likes' the pic got, in the days when even photography did not exist, leave alone Facebook.)
From the ways of Society, it seemed to me that some proverbs are now available only in their truncated version and some words at the end have gone missing. Even this "The proof of the pudding is the the eating" can benefit in clarity by the addition of " or the spitting out" but that still ends up communicating the same meaning. Some proverbs, though, seem entirely misleading because some words at the end seem to have gone missing.
Take "Absence makes the heart grow fonder", for example. The World War II soldiers receiving those "Dear John" letters, which indicated that their spouses had decided to donate them to the service of their country and take up with someone else, would have been far less shocked had the full proverb been available to them - "Absence makes the heart grow fonder - of someone else". (Yup! There IS that proverb which suits the extended version better - "Out of sight; Out of mind")
There are a lot of people who say, "They also serve who only stand and wait". Others seem to think that these are people, who are slavering to really do something, but are reconciled to serve only by standing and waiting - only to be rudely shocked when they call on these people for service and find them VERY recalcitrant, indeed. If only the others knew that what they meant was, "They also serve who only stand and wait - for someone else to do the job." A rather neat way of getting the mantle of service without having to really serve.
I also find a lot of people getting irate about some people who appear god-fearing but are totally untrustworthy. I do not agree with casting aspersions on the god-fearing nature of these people, even if their acquisitive habits do not seem to see the difference between 'mine' and 'thine'. You see, it is just that their version of the proverb is extended version, "God helps those who help themselves - to other people's property".
I hear this clamor from you - "Silence is golden". Ah! If only you knew that I can always extend it with another proverb - '..but all that glitters is not gold'!
P.S: Thanks, Anita, for that 'they also serve who only stand and wait'