Proverbs 11
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
A false balance is abomination to the LORD: but a just weight is his delight.

Pr 11:1-31.

1. (Compare Margin). The Hebrews used stones for weights.

just—complete in measure.

When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.
2. Self-conceit is unteachable; the humble grow wise (compare Pr 16:18; 18:12).
The integrity of the upright shall guide them: but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them.
3. guide—to lead, as a shepherd (Pr 6:7; Ps 78:52).


destroy—with violence.

Riches profit not in the day of wrath: but righteousness delivereth from death.
4. (Compare Pr 10:2).

wrath—that is, of God.

The righteousness of the perfect shall direct his way: but the wicked shall fall by his own wickedness.
5. direct—or, "make plain"; wicked ways are not plain (Pr 13:17).
The righteousness of the upright shall deliver them: but transgressors shall be taken in their own naughtiness.
6. deliver them—that is, from evil, which the wicked suffer by their own doings (Pr 5:22; Ps 9:16).
When a wicked man dieth, his expectation shall perish: and the hope of unjust men perisheth.
7. expectation … perish—for death cuts short all his plans (Lu 16:25).

hope of unjust—better, "hope of wealth," or "power" (compare Isa 40:29, Hebrew). This gives an advance on the sentiment of the first clause. Even hopes of gain die with him.

The righteous is delivered out of trouble, and the wicked cometh in his stead.
8. Perhaps the trouble prepared by the wicked, and which he inherits (compare Pr 11:6).
An hypocrite with his mouth destroyeth his neighbour: but through knowledge shall the just be delivered.
9. (Compare Ps 35:16; Da 11:32). The just is saved by superior discernment.
When it goeth well with the righteous, the city rejoiceth: and when the wicked perish, there is shouting.
10, 11. The last may be a reason for the first. Together, they set forth the relative moral worth of good and bad men.
By the blessing of the upright the city is exalted: but it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked.
11. By the blessing—implying active benevolence.
He that is void of wisdom despiseth his neighbour: but a man of understanding holdeth his peace.
12. despiseth—or, "reviles," a course contrasted with the prudent silence of the wise.

holdeth his peace—as if neither hearing nor telling.

A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter.
13. tale-bearer—(Compare Margin), one trading as a peddler in scandal, whose propensity to talk leads him to betray confidence.
Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellers there is safety.
14. counsel—the art of governing (Pr 1:5).

counsellors—literally, "one giving counsel"; the participle used as a collective.

He that is surety for a stranger shall smart for it: and he that hateth suretiship is sure.
15. (Compare Pr 6:1).

suretiship—(Compare Margin), the actors put for the action, which may be lawfully hated.

A gracious woman retaineth honour: and strong men retain riches.
16. retaineth—or literally, "lay hold of as a support." Honor is to a feeble woman thus as valuable as riches to men.
The merciful man doeth good to his own soul: but he that is cruel troubleth his own flesh.
17. merciful—kind to others; opposed to cruel. Such benefit themselves by doing good to others (compare Pr 24:5), while the cruel injure themselves as well as others.

flesh—that is, his body, by penuriousness (Col 2:23).

The wicked worketh a deceitful work: but to him that soweth righteousness shall be a sure reward.
18. a deceitful work—or, "wages," which fail to satisfy, or flee away (Pr 10:2; 23:5).

sure reward—or, "gain," as from trading (Ho 10:12; Ga 6:8, 9).

As righteousness tendeth to life: so he that pursueth evil pursueth it to his own death.
19. Inference from Pr 11:18 (compare Pr 11:5, 6; 10:16).
They that are of a froward heart are abomination to the LORD: but such as are upright in their way are his delight.
20. (Compare Pr 11:5).

froward—as in Pr 2:15, opposed to the simplicity and purity of the upright.

in their way—or, "conduct."

Though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not be unpunished: but the seed of the righteous shall be delivered.
21. The combined power of the wicked cannot free them from just punishment, while the unaided children of the righteous find deliverance by reason of their pious relationship (Ps 37:25, 26).
As a jewel of gold in a swine's snout, so is a fair woman which is without discretion.
22. Jewels were often suspended from the nose (Ge 24:47; Isa 3:21). Thus adorned, a hog disgusts less than a fair and indiscreet woman.
The desire of the righteous is only good: but the expectation of the wicked is wrath.
23. (Compare Pr 10:28).

wrath—is that of God.

There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty.
24-31. The scope of the whole is a comment on Pr 11:23. Thus liberality, by God's blessing, secures increase, while penuriousness, instead of expected gain, procures poverty.
The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself.
25. liberal soul—(Compare Margin).

made fat—prospers (Pr 28:25; De 32:15; Lu 6:38).

watereth … watered—a common figure for blessing.

He that withholdeth corn, the people shall curse him: but blessing shall be upon the head of him that selleth it.
26. Another example of the truth of Pr 11:23; the miser loses reputation, though he saves corn.

selleth it—that is, at a fair price.

He that diligently seeketh good procureth favour: but he that seeketh mischief, it shall come unto him.
27. good [and] mischief—that is, of others.

procureth … seeketh—implying success.

He that trusteth in his riches shall fall: but the righteous shall flourish as a branch.
28. (Compare Pr 10:15; Ps 49:6; 1Ti 6:17).

righteous … branch—(Ps 1:3; Jer 17:8).

He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind: and the fool shall be servant to the wise of heart.
29. troubleth—as Pr 15:27 explains, by greediness for gain (compare Pr 11:17).

inherit … wind—Even successful, his gains are of no real value. So the fool, thus acting, either comes to poverty, or heaps up for others.

The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.
30. a tree of life—Blessings to others proceed from the works of the righteous (Pr 3:18).

winneth souls—(Compare Margin) to do them good as opposed to Pr 6:25; Eze 13:18 (compare Lu 5:10).

Behold, the righteous shall be recompensed in the earth: much more the wicked and the sinner.
31. Behold—Thus calling attention to the illustrations (compare Pr 11:23), the sentiment of which is confirmed even in time, not excluding future rewards and punishments.
A Commentary, Critical, Practical, and Explanatory on the Old and New Testaments by Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown [1882]

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