Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
A wise son heareth his father's instruction: but a scorner heareth not rebuke.
A man shall eat good by the fruit of his mouth: but the soul of the transgressors shall eat violence.2. Comp. with the first clause of this verse Proverbs 12:14.
the soul] i.e. the desire (Proverbs 6:30, and Proverbs 13:4 below), or appetite. His desire is to inflict violence on others; it shall be fed, or satisfied, by violence inflicted on him. This is more forcible and preserves the parallelism better than the desire of the treacherous is for violence, R.V. marg.
He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life: but he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction.3. keepeth … keepeth] Rather, guardeth … keepeth, R.V., the Heb. words being different. For the sentiment comp. Proverbs 10:19.
The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.
A righteous man hateth lying: but a wicked man is loathsome, and cometh to shame.5. is loathsome] lit. stinketh. Comp. Ecclesiastes 10:1; Exodus 5:21, where the same Heb. word occurs.
In R.V. marg. an alternative rendering is suggested: causeth shame and bringeth reproach.
Righteousness keepeth him that is upright in the way: but wickedness overthroweth the sinner.6. keepeth] Rather, guardeth, as in Proverbs 13:3 above.
him that is upright in the way] “Heb. uprightness of way,” R.V. marg.
the sinner] “Heb. sin,” R.V. marg.
There is that maketh himself rich, yet hath nothing: there is that maketh himself poor, yet hath great riches.7. maketh] This rendering, which is retained in R.V. text, has its highest illustration in Christ Himself (Php 2:5-11; 2 Corinthians 8:9), and accords with the constant teaching of the N.T. (Php 3:7-9; 2 Corinthians 6:10; Luke 12:21; Revelation 3:17). Some however, with R.V. marg., would render feigneth himself, in both clauses, makes himself out to be what he is not.
The ransom of a man's life are his riches: but the poor heareth not rebuke.8. heareth] i.e. heedeth. Comp. Proverbs 13:1.
rebuke] Rather threatening; ἀπειλήν, LXX.
If wealth has its advantage in enabling its possessor to purchase deliverance from danger and death (as, for example, by paying a ransom to robbers, or a fine or bribe in a court of justice), so has poverty in conferring immunity from the perils by which the rich are threatened: cantabit vacuus coram latrone viator.
The light of the righteous rejoiceth: but the lamp of the wicked shall be put out.9. light … lamp] The change of word is doubtless designed. So our Lord is φῶς, and John Baptist λύχνος (John 8:12; John 5:35).
shall be put out] Comp. Proverbs 20:20, Proverbs 24:20.
The LXX. add to this verse:
“Deceitful souls go astray in sins;
But the righteous are pitiful and merciful.”
Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.10. Only by pride cometh] Rather, By pride cometh only, R.V. Pride is sure to rouse opposition and lead to contention; whereas wisdom belongs to those who accept advice and avoid disputes.
Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished: but he that gathereth by labour shall increase.11. by vanity] i.e. by untrustworthy methods, such as speculation, gambling, high rate of interest with poor security (comp. Proverbs 21:6), in contrast to hard work, by labour (lit. with the hand). The word vanity in this sense of what is unreliable and transitory is a key-word of the Book of Ecclesiastes.
The LXX. and Vulg. render in haste, quick returns, ἐπισπουδαζομένη (with the addition μετὰ ἀνομίας), festinata.
Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.12. a tree of life] See Proverbs 3:18, note.
Whoso despiseth the word shall be destroyed: but he that feareth the commandment shall be rewarded.13. the word] sc. of God, as in Proverbs 16:20. The commandment, in the parallel clause, seems to make this clear, though the reference is not necessarily to the Law of Moses. See Introd. Ch. 1., p. 13.
The R.V. appears to suggest another rendering, handleth a matter negligently, by referring to Proverbs 16:20, where “he that giveth heed unto the word” in R.V. text is “he that handleth a matter wisely,” in R.V. margin, as in A.V. text. With this agrees ὄς καταφρονεῖ πράγματος, LXX. (adding a second form, however, of the proverb).
shall be destroyed] Rather, bringeth destruction upon himself, R.V. text.
The rendering, is bound by it (maketh himself a debtor thereto, R.V. marg.), i.e. cannot escape either from liability or from punishment, has much to commend it.
The law of the wise is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.
Good understanding giveth favour: but the way of transgressors is hard.15. transgressors] Rather, the treacherous, R.V.
hard] rugged, R.V., i.e. harsh and forbidding, like a desert or rocky place (Deuteronomy 21:4) in contrast to the “favour” which “good understanding” “giveth,” or “getteth.” The LXX. render, is in destruction.
Every prudent man dealeth with knowledge: but a fool layeth open his folly.16. dealeth] Rather, worketh. He works with knowledge, turning it to good account for beauty and profit, as a cunning artificer does with precious metals, Exodus 31:4-5, where the Heb. word is the same. This, however, is probably intended by dealeth, A.V. Comp. our use of the words deal, dealer, in connection with trade or traffic.
layeth open] Rather, spreadeth, A.V. marg., or spreadeth out, R.V. text, exposes it. “When your money is all in copper you may afford to throw it about, but when it is all in gold you have to be cautious.” Horton.
A wicked messenger falleth into mischief: but a faithful ambassador is health.17. falleth] Hitzig and others, by a slight change of vowels, read bringeth, sc. those who sent him, which contrasts better with the bringing of health, or well-being by the faithful messenger. Comp. Proverbs 25:13.
mischief] Rather, evil, R.V.
This proverb must be read in the light of the then common employment of messengers charged with verbal tidings or instructions. The message would in such case depend greatly for its colour and consequences upon the character of the messenger.
Poverty and shame shall be to him that refuseth instruction: but he that regardeth reproof shall be honoured.
The desire accomplished is sweet to the soul: but it is abomination to fools to depart from evil.19. but] If with R.V. we retain but, we must understand desire in the first clause in a good sense, as in Proverbs 13:12 : q.d. in spite of the sweetness of good desires accomplished, fools will not forsake evil to attain to it. Balaam’s desire, “let me die the death of the righteous” (Numbers 23:10), would have been “sweet to his soul” in its accomplishment, but it was abomination to him to depart from “the wages of unrighteousness.” (2 Peter 2:15.)
Some, however, would understand the first clause as assigning a reason for what is stated in the second: Because the desire accomplished, &c., therefore it is abomination to fools to depart from the evil on which their heart is set.
He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.20. He that walketh] Or (with a change of Heb. vowel points), Walk with wise men and be wise.
destroyed] Lit. be broken. See Proverbs 11:15, where the same word is rendered shall smart for it. He who is the companion of fools in friendship shall become their companion in destruction. Comp. Proverbs 1:10; Proverbs 1:18.
Evil pursueth sinners: but to the righteous good shall be repayed.
A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children's children: and the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just.
Much food is in the tillage of the poor: but there is that is destroyed for want of judgment.23. for want of judgment] Rather, by reason of injustice, R.V. The contrast is between substance gained by honest toil and substance lost by injustice: a poor man by hard labour makes his newly cultivated field yield him much; but you may see a rich man brought to ruin by dishonest practices. Comp. James 5:1-6.
He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.24. betimes] Or, diligently, R.V. marg. See Proverbs 1:28 note.
The righteous eateth to the satisfying of his soul: but the belly of the wicked shall want.