Proverbs 20
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.

Pr 20:1-30.

1. mocker—scorner. Such men are made by wine.

strong drink—made by spicing wine (compare Isa 5:11, 22); and it may include wine.

raging—or boisterous as a drunkard.

deceived—literally, "erring," or reeling.

The fear of a king is as the roaring of a lion: whoso provoketh him to anger sinneth against his own soul.
2. (Compare Pr 19:12). Men who resist authority injure themselves (Ro 13:2).
It is an honour for a man to cease from strife: but every fool will be meddling.
3. to cease from strife—or, better, "to dwell from or without strife," denoting the habit of life.

fool … meddling—(Pr 17:14).

The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing.
4. shall … beg—literally, "ask" (in this sense, Ps 109:10).
Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water; but a man of understanding will draw it out.
5. Counsel … water—that is, deeply hidden (Pr 18:4; Ps 13:2). The wise can discern well.
Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?
6. Boasters are unreliable.

goodness—or, "kind disposition."

The just man walketh in his integrity: his children are blessed after him.
7. The conduct of good men proclaims their sound principles. God's covenant and their good example secure blessing to their children (Pr 4:26; Ps 112:1, 2).
A king that sitteth in the throne of judgment scattereth away all evil with his eyes.
8. As in Pr 14:35; 16:10, 15, this is the character of a good king, not of all kings.
Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?
9. The interrogation in the affirmative strengthens the implied negation (compare Job 15:14; Ec 7:20).
Divers weights, and divers measures, both of them are alike abomination to the LORD.
10. Various measures, implying that some are wrong (compare Pr 11:1; 16:11).
Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right.
11. The conduct of children even is the best test of principle (compare Mt 7:16).
The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the LORD hath made even both of them.
12. Hence, of course, God will know all you do (Ps 94:9).
Love not sleep, lest thou come to poverty; open thine eyes, and thou shalt be satisfied with bread.
13. Activity and diligence contrasted with sloth (Pr 6:9; 10:11).

lest … poverty—literally, "be deprived of inheritance."

It is naught, it is naught, saith the buyer: but when he is gone his way, then he boasteth.
14. when … his way—implying that he goes about boasting of his bargains.
There is gold, and a multitude of rubies: but the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel.
15. The contrast denotes the greater value of knowledge (compare Pr 3:14-16).
Take his garment that is surety for a stranger: and take a pledge of him for a strange woman.
16. Take his garment—implies severe exaction, justified by the surety's rashness.

a strange woman—by some readings "strangers," but the former here, and in Pr 27:13, is allowable, and strengthens the sense. The debauchee is less reliable than the merely careless.

Bread of deceit is sweet to a man; but afterwards his mouth shall be filled with gravel.
17. Bread … sweet—either as unlawfully (Pr 9:17) or easily obtained.

mouth … gravel—well expresses the pain and grief given at last.

Every purpose is established by counsel: and with good advice make war.
18. (Compare Pr 15:22). Be careful and considerate in important plans.
He that goeth about as a talebearer revealeth secrets: therefore meddle not with him that flattereth with his lips.
19. Those who love to tell news will hardly keep secrets.

flattereth … lips—(compare Margin; Pr 1:10).

meddle … him—literally, "join," or "associate with."

Whoso curseth his father or his mother, his lamp shall be put out in obscure darkness.
20. his lamp—(Compare Pr 13:9; 24:20).
An inheritance may be gotten hastily at the beginning; but the end thereof shall not be blessed.
21. gotten hastily—contrary to God's providence (Pr 28:20), implying its unjust or easy attainment; hence the man is punished, or spends freely what he got easily (compare Pr 20:17).
Say not thou, I will recompense evil; but wait on the LORD, and he shall save thee.
22. (Compare Ps 27:14; Ro 12:17-19).
Divers weights are an abomination unto the LORD; and a false balance is not good.
23. (Compare Pr 20:10; 11:1).
Man's goings are of the LORD; how can a man then understand his own way?
24. Man's goings—literally, "Stately steppings of a strong man."

a man—any common man.

understand—or, "perceive."

It is a snare to the man who devoureth that which is holy, and after vows to make inquiry.
25. devoureth … holy—or, better, "who rashly speaks promises," or "devotes what is holy," consecrating any thing. This suits better the last clause, which expresses a similar view of the results of rashly vowing.
A wise king scattereth the wicked, and bringeth the wheel over them.
26. (Compare Pr 20:8).

bringeth … over them—The wheel was used for threshing grain. The figure denotes severity (compare Am 1:3).

The spirit of man is the candle of the LORD, searching all the inward parts of the belly.
27. The spirit … Lord—Men's minds are God's gifts, and thus able to search one another (compare Pr 20:5; Pr 18:8, 17; 1Co 2:11).
Mercy and truth preserve the king: and his throne is upholden by mercy.
28. (Compare Pr 3:3; 16:6, 12).
The glory of young men is their strength: and the beauty of old men is the gray head.
29. The glory of young men … the beauty of old men—Each age has its peculiar excellence (Pr 16:31).
The blueness of a wound cleanseth away evil: so do stripes the inward parts of the belly.
30. blueness—literally, "joining," the process of uniting the edges of a wound throws off purulent matter.

stripes … belly—So punishment provides healing of soul (Pr 18:8), by deterring from evil courses.

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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