A false balance is abomination to the LORD: but a just weight is his delight.
This emphatic reproduction of the old rule of Deuteronomy 25:13-14 is perhaps a trace of the danger of dishonesty incidental to the growing commerce of the Israelites. The stress laid upon the same sin in Proverbs 16:11; Proverbs 20:10; bears witness to the desire of the teacher to educate the youth of Israel to a high standard of integrity, just as the protest of Hosea against it Hosea 12:7 shows the zeal of the prophet in rebuking what was becoming more and more a besetting sin.
A just weight - literally, as in the margin, indicating a time when stones rather than metal were used as a standard of weight. Compare Deuteronomy 25:13.
When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.
A rabbinic paraphrase of the second clause is: "Lowly souls become full of wisdom as the low place becomes full of water."
The integrity of the upright shall guide them: but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them.
Riches profit not in the day of wrath: but righteousness delivereth from death.
The day of wrath - Words true in their highest sense of the great "diesirae" of the future, but spoken in the first instance (compare Zephaniah 1:15-18) of any "day of the Lord," any time of judgment, when men or nations receive the chastisement of their sins. At such a time "riches profit not."
The righteousness of the perfect shall direct his way: but the wicked shall fall by his own wickedness.
The righteousness of the upright shall deliver them: but transgressors shall be taken in their own naughtiness.
When a wicked man dieth, his expectation shall perish: and the hope of unjust men perisheth.
Significant words, as showing the belief that when the righteous died, his "expectation" (i. e., his hope for the future) did not perish. The second clause is rendered by some, "the expectation that brings sorrow."
The righteous is delivered out of trouble, and the wicked cometh in his stead.
An hypocrite with his mouth destroyeth his neighbour: but through knowledge shall the just be delivered.
Through knowledge - Better, By the knowledge of the just, shall they (i. e., the neighbors) be delivered.
When it goeth well with the righteous, the city rejoiceth: and when the wicked perish, there is shouting.
By the blessing of the upright the city is exalted: but it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked.
The blessing of the upright - Probably the prayers which he offers for the good of the city in which he dwells, and which avail to preserve it from destruction (compare Genesis 18:23-33); or "the blessing which God gives the upright."
He that is void of wisdom despiseth his neighbour: but a man of understanding holdeth his peace.
None but the man "void of wisdom" will show contempt for those about him. The wise man, if he cannot admire or praise, will at least know how to be silent.
A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter.
The man who comes to us with tales about others will reveal our secrets also. Faithfulness is shown, not only in doing what a man has been commissioned to do, but in doing it quietly and without garrulity.
Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellers there is safety.
Counsel - See Proverbs 1:5 note. This precept may well be thought of as coming with special force at the time of the organization of the monarchy of Israel. Compare 1 Kings 12:6.
He that is surety for a stranger shall smart for it: and he that hateth suretiship is sure.
See the marginal reference. The play upon "sure" and "suretiship" in the the King James Version (though each word is rightly rendered) has nothing corresponding to it in the Hebrew, and seems to have originated in a desire to give point to the proverb.
A gracious woman retaineth honour: and strong men retain riches.
Or, "The gracious woman wins and keeps honor, as (the conjunction may be so rendered) strong men win riches."
The merciful man doeth good to his own soul: but he that is cruel troubleth his own flesh.
The wicked worketh a deceitful work: but to him that soweth righteousness shall be a sure reward.
Deceitful work - Work which deceives and disappoints the worker; in contrast with the "sure reward" of the second clause.
Omit "shall be" and render, "but he that soweth righteousness worketh a sure reward."
As righteousness tendeth to life: so he that pursueth evil pursueth it to his own death.
They that are of a froward heart are abomination to the LORD: but such as are upright in their way are his delight.
Though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not be unpunished: but the seed of the righteous shall be delivered.
literally, "hand to hand." The meaning of which is, "Hand may plight faith to hand, men may confederate for evil, yet punishment shall come at last;" or "From hand to hand, from one generation to another, punishment shall descend on the evil doers."
As a jewel of gold in a swine's snout, so is a fair woman which is without discretion.
The most direct proverb, in the sense of "similitude," which has as yet met us.
Without discretion - literally, "without taste," void of the subtle tact and grace, without which mere outward beauty is as ill-bestowed as the nose-ring in the snout of the unclean beast. If we may assume that in ancient Syria, as in modern Europe, swine commonly wore such a ring to hinder them doing mischief, the similitude receives a fresh vividness.
The desire of the righteous is only good: but the expectation of the wicked is wrath.
There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty.
Withholdeth more than is meet - i. e., Is sparing and niggardly where he ought to give. The contrast is stated in the form of a paradox, to which the two following verses supply the answer. Some render, "There is that withholdeth from what is due," i. e., from a just debt, or from the generosity of a just man.
The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself.
Liberal soul - literally, "the soul that blesses," i. e., gives freely and fully. The similitudes are both of them essentially Eastern. Fatness, the sleek, well filled look of health, becomes the figure of prosperity, as leanness of misfortune Proverbs 13:4; Proverbs 28:25; Psalm 22:29; Isaiah 10:16. Kindly acts come as the refreshing dew and soft rain from heaven upon a thirsty land.
He that withholdeth corn, the people shall curse him: but blessing shall be upon the head of him that selleth it.
In the early stages of commerce there seems no way of making money rapidly so sure as that of buying up grain in time of famine, waiting until the dearth presses heavily, and then selling at famine prices. Men hate this selfishness, and pour blessings upon him who sells at a moderate profit.
He that diligently seeketh good procureth favour: but he that seeketh mischief, it shall come unto him.
Procureth - Better, striveth after. He who desires good, absolutely, for its own sake, is also unconsciously striving after the favor which attends goodness.
He that trusteth in his riches shall fall: but the righteous shall flourish as a branch.
He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind: and the fool shall be servant to the wise of heart.
He that troubleth ... - The temper, nigardly and worrying, which leads a man to make those about him miserable, and proves but bad economy in the end.
The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.
Winneth souls - Better, a wise man winneth souls. He that is wise draws the souls of people to himself, just as the fruit of the righteous is to all around him a tree of life, bearing new fruits of healing evermore. The phrase is elsewhere translated by "taketh the life" 1 Kings 19:4; Psalm 31:13. The wise man is the true conqueror. For the Christian meaning given to these words, see the New Testament reference in the margin.
Behold, the righteous shall be recompensed in the earth: much more the wicked and the sinner.
The sense would appear to be, "The righteous is requited, i. e., is punished for his lesser sins, or as a discipline; much more the wicked, etc." Compare 1 Peter 4:18.