Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
A wise son heareth his father's instruction: but a scorner heareth not rebuke.XIII.
(1) A wise son heareth his father’s instruction.—Or, is his father’s instruction, i.e., the result and embodiment of it.
A scorner.—See above on Proverbs 1:22.
A man shall eat good by the fruit of his mouth: but the soul of the transgressors shall eat violence.(2) A man shall eat good by the fruit of his mouth.—See above on Proverbs 12:14.
He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life: but he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction.(3) He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life.—Comp. above, on Proverbs 4:23; Proverbs 12:13.
A righteous man hateth lying: but a wicked man is loathsome, and cometh to shame.(5) A wicked man is loathsome, and cometh to shame.—Or it may signify, “disgraceth and putteth to shame” (by his calumnies), or “acts basely and shamefully.”
Righteousness keepeth him that is upright in the way: but wickedness overthroweth the sinner.(6) Righteousness keepeth him that is upright in the way.—See above on Proverbs 11:5.
There is that maketh himself rich, yet hath nothing: there is that maketh himself poor, yet hath great riches.(7) There is that maketh himself rich, yet hath nothing.—Comp. Luke 12:21, and the advice given in Revelation 3:17.
There is that maketh himself poor.—Comp. Luke 12:33.
The ransom of a man's life are his riches: but the poor heareth not rebuke.(8) The ransom of a man’s life are his riches.—In times of trouble he may have to give them all to save his life. For the spiritual sense comp. Luke 16:9.
The light of the righteous rejoiceth: but the lamp of the wicked shall be put out.(9) The light of the righteous rejoiceth—i.e., burns joyously, as the sun “rejoiceth as a giant to run his course” (Psalm 19:5). A distinction may be drawn between the “light” of the righteous and “lamp” of the wicked. The one walks in the “light” of God’s truth, and so his path becomes continually more plain (see above on Proverbs 6:23); the other walks by the glimmer of his own “lamp,” the “fire” and “sparks” of his own kindling (Isaiah 50:11), the fancies of his own devising, and so his end is darkness. But this distinction is not always observed (comp. Job 18:5-6, where “light” and “lamp” are both applied to the wicked.)
Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.(10) Only by pride cometh contention.—Rather, by pride cometh nothing but contention. A man who is too proud to receive counsel is sure to fall out with others; they are wise who suffer themselves to be advised.
Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished: but he that gathereth by labour shall increase.(11) Wealth gotten by vanity.—As we should say, “in an unsatisfactory manner,” that is to say, by dishonesty.
Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.(12) A tree of life.—See above, on Proverbs 11:30.
Whoso despiseth the word shall be destroyed: but he that feareth the commandment shall be rewarded.(13) Shall be destroyed.—Literally, brings ruin on himself. Or the sense may be, “is (still) bound to it,” even although he may contemptuously neglect it. Comp. the advice (Matthew 5:25), to “agree with our adversary quickly,” that is, satisfy the requirements of the law of God while there is time, lest it appear as our adversary at the day of judgment.
The law of the wise is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.(14) The law of the wise.—Or, rather, his instruction. (Comp. Proverbs 10:11.)
Snares of death.—Set by the devil (2Timothy 2:26).
Good understanding giveth favour: but the way of transgressors is hard.(15) Good understanding giveth favour.—Comp. the union of “wisdom” and “favour with God and man” (Luke 2:52).
A wicked messenger falleth into mischief: but a faithful ambassador is health.(17) Falleth into mischief.—And brings those also who sent him into trouble; but “a faithful messenger is health” both to himself and his employers.
The desire accomplished is sweet to the soul: but it is abomination to fools to depart from evil.(19) But it is abomination to fools . . .—That is, though their clinging to evil prevents the attainment of such objects as are worth desiring. If the verse be interpreted “therefore it is abomination,” &c, the sense will be, “because the satisfaction of desire is pleasant, therefore fools will not give up anything, though evil, on which they have set their minds.”
He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.(20) Shall be destroyed—i.e., morally ruined.
Evil pursueth sinners: but to the righteous good shall be repayed.(21) Evil pursueth sinners.—The “snares, fire, and brimstone,” of Psalm 11:6; while the “good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over” (Luke 6:38), awaits the righteous.
A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children's children: and the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just.(22) A good man.—As this corresponds to the “just” man in the next line, who is one who “renders to all their due” (see above on Proverbs 10:2), it probably has the meaning here of “liberal,” “unselfish;” such a one gains the promise given in Proverbs 11:25.
Much food is in the tillage of the poor: but there is that is destroyed for want of judgment.(23) Tillage.—Properly, the newly-made field, on which much labour has been expended. The poor hardworking man, by God’s blessing, gains an abundant living, while many (rich persons) are ruined for their neglect of what is right.
He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.(24) Betimes.—While he may yet be influenced rightly, and before faults are rooted in him.
The righteous eateth to the satisfying of his soul: but the belly of the wicked shall want.(25) The righteous eateth to the satisfying of his soul—i.e., has enough for his wants. (See above on Proverbs 10:3.)