Better is the poor that walketh in his integrity, than he that is perverse in his lips, and is a fool.
The "perverse" man is the rich fool, as contrasted with the poor man who is upright.
Proverbs 19:1-2 are missing in the Septuagint.
Also, that the soul be without knowledge, it is not good; and he that hasteth with his feet sinneth.
The foolishness of man perverteth his way: and his heart fretteth against the LORD.
The non-wisdom which, having brought about disasters by its own perverseness, then turns round and "fretteth," i. e., angrily complains against the Providence of God.
Perverteth - Rather, "overturneth," "maketh to fail."
Wealth maketh many friends; but the poor is separated from his neighbour.
A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall not escape.
Many will intreat the favour of the prince: and every man is a friend to him that giveth gifts.
Intreat the favor ... - literally, "stroke the face" of the man of princely nature, who gives munificently.
All the brethren of the poor do hate him: how much more do his friends go far from him? he pursueth them with words, yet they are wanting to him.
It seems best to follow the Vulgate in taking the last clause as a separate maxim, He who pursues words, nought are they; i. e., the fair speeches and promises of help come to nothing. A various reading in the Hebrew gives, "he pursues after words, and these he shall have" - i. e., these, and nothing else.
This and other like maxims do not in reality cast scorn and shame on a state which Christ has pronounced "blessed." Side by side with them is Proverbs 19:1, setting forth the honor of an upright poverty. But as there is an honorable poverty, so there is one which is altogether inglorious, caused by sloth and folly, leading to shame and ignominy, and it is well that the man who wishes to live rightly should avoid this. The teaching of Christ is, of course, higher than that of the Book of Proverbs, being based upon a fuller revelation of the divine will, pointing to a higher end and a nobler standard of duty, and transcending the common motives and common facts of life.
He that getteth wisdom loveth his own soul: he that keepeth understanding shall find good.
Wisdom - literally, as in the margin, to gain a "heart," i. e., the higher faculties both of reason and feeling, is identical with gaining wisdom, i. e., the faculty which seeks and finds.
A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall perish.
Delight is not seemly for a fool; much less for a servant to have rule over princes.
"Delight," high unrestrained enjoyment, is to the "fool" who lacks wisdom but a temptation and a snare. The second clause carries the thought on to what the despotism of Eastern monarchies often presented, the objectionable rule of some favored slave, it might be, of alien birth, over the princes and nobles of the land.
The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression.
The king's wrath is as the roaring of a lion; but his favour is as dew upon the grass.
A foolish son is the calamity of his father: and the contentions of a wife are a continual dropping.
Calamity - The Hebrew word is plural (as in Psalm 57:1; Psalm 91:3), and seems to express the multiplied and manifold sorrow caused by the foolish son.
Continual dropping - The irritating, unceasing, sound of the fall, drop after drop, of water through the chinks in the roof.
House and riches are the inheritance of fathers: and a prudent wife is from the LORD.
Slothfulness casteth into a deep sleep; and an idle soul shall suffer hunger.
Casteth into a deep sleep - Better, causeth deep sleep to fall.
He that keepeth the commandment keepeth his own soul; but he that despiseth his ways shall die.
Keepeth his own soul - i. e., His life in the truest and highest sense.
He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.
Note the original greatness of the thought. We give to the poor. Have we lost our gift? No, what we gave, we have lent to One who will repay with usury. Compare the yet nobler truth of our Lord's teaching Matthew 25:40.
Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.
While there is hope - While he is still young, and capable of being reformed.
Crying - Better, as in the margin, Do not set thy soul on his destruction; words which either counsel forbearance in the act of chastisement (compare Ephesians 6:4; Colossians 3:21); or urge that a false clemency is a real cruelty. The latter sense is preferable. The father is warned that to forbear from chastising is virtually to expose the son who needs it to a far worse penalty.
A man of great wrath shall suffer punishment: for if thou deliver him, yet thou must do it again.
The sense of the last words seems to be that the connection between wrath and punishment is so invariable, that all efforts to save the passionate man from the disastrous consequences which he brings on his own head are made in vain.
Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end.
There are many devices in a man's heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand.
Contrast the many purposes of man, shifting, changing, from good to better, from bad to worse, and the one unchanging righteous "counsel" of Yahweh.
The desire of a man is his kindness: and a poor man is better than a liar.
The "liar" is probably the man, who makes false excuses for not giving, and so is inferior to the poor man, whose "desire," the wish to do good, is taken, in the absence of means to carry it into effect, for the act of kindness itself.
The fear of the LORD tendeth to life: and he that hath it shall abide satisfied; he shall not be visited with evil.
Shall abide satisfied - Better, one that is satisfied hath a sure abiding-place. The word "abide" has, most probably, here as elsewhere, its original sense of "passing the night." Even in the hour of darkness he shall be free from fear.
A slothful man hideth his hand in his bosom, and will not so much as bring it to his mouth again.
Hideth his hand in his bosom - Better, dippeth his hand in the dish (compare 2 Kings 21:13). The scene brought before us is that of an Eastern feast. There are no knives, or forks, or spoons. Every guest has to help himself, or be helped by the host. Compare John 13:26.
Smite a scorner, and the simple will beware: and reprove one that hath understanding, and he will understand knowledge.
Words which embrace nearly the whole theory of punishment. If the man who offends is a "scorner," hardened beyond all hope of reformation, then punish him by way of retribution and example, and let the penalty be sharp, that even the unwary and careless may beware. If the man be "understanding," then let the punishment take the form of discipline. Admonish, reprove, educate.
He that wasteth his father, and chaseth away his mother, is a son that causeth shame, and bringeth reproach.
Or, A son that causeth shame, and bringeth reproach, is one that wasteth his father, and chaseth away his mother.
Cease, my son, to hear the instruction that causeth to err from the words of knowledge.
literally, Cease, my son, to hear instruction, that thou mayest err from the words of knowledge; advice given ironically to do that to which his weakness leads him, with a clear knowledge of the evil to which he is drifting.
An ungodly witness scorneth judgment: and the mouth of the wicked devoureth iniquity.
Ungodly witness - literally, "Witness of Belial," "worthless," "untruthful."
Devoureth iniquity - Seizes on it eagerly, as a dainty, lives on it.
Judgments are prepared for scorners, and stripes for the back of fools.