Proverbs 19:22
The desire of a man is his kindness: and a poor man is better than a liar.
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(22) The desire of a man is his kindness—i.e., what makes a man desired or beloved is his kindness. Or, the kindness of a man consists in—is shewn by—his good-will, even though he cannot carry it out.

And a poor man (who would do a kindness if he could) is better than a liar.—Than a rich man who could help another, but professes to be unable to do so.

Proverbs 19:22-23. The desire of a man is his kindness — This expression is obscure, and will admit of several interpretations. The Seventy render it, Καρπος ανδρι ελεημοσυνη, alms-giving, or charity, is fruit to a man. The meaning, Le Clerc thinks, is, that there is no virtue a man ought to be so desirous of as benignity, or a generous, charitable spirit, as it is the greatest ornament of human nature, and the strongest bond of human society; which if any one wants, however rich he may be, yet he is despised. Others think, that if it be considered as connected with the following clause, the most natural construction is, “A man shows his kindness by his will, or desire to do good; and in this respect a poor man, who would be beneficent if he could, is better than a liar, that is, than a rich man, who makes a profession of kindness, but does not perform it. The Seventy read this latter clause, A poor righteous man is better than a rich man who is a liar: and the Syriac renders it, A poor man is better than a deceitful rich one. The fear of the Lord tendeth to life — To holiness and happiness here and hereafter; in other words, nothing makes a man so comfortable to himself, and so useful to others, as a religious care to please God in all things; and he that hath it shall abide satisfied — Shall want nothing, and shall be fully contented with God’s favour and blessing; he shall not be visited with evil — With any destructive calamity. But the Hebrew text of the verse being obscure, interpreters have taken it in different senses. Houbigant renders it, The fear, &c., tendeth to life, and he who is filled with it shall sleep, or pass his nights, free from all evil. Schultens and Grey interpret it, The fear of Jehovah indeed is life; but he who sleeps in carnal security shall not be free from evil: see Deuteronomy 32:15. The Seventy read it, The fear of the Lord is to a man’s life; but he that is without fear (namely, of God) shall abide in places where there is no knowledge to govern him; that is, shall run blindly into all manner of mischief.

19:19. The spared and spoiled child is likely to become a man of great wrath. 20. Those that would be wise in their latter end, must be taught and ruled when young. 21. What should we desire, but that all our purposes may agree with God's holy will? 22. It is far better to have a heart to do good, and want ability for it, than to have ability for it, and want a heart to it. 23. Those that live in the fear of God, shall get safety, satisfaction, and true and complete happiness. 24. Indolence, when indulged, so grows upon people, that they have no heart to do the most needful things for themselves. 25. A gentle rebuke goes farthest with a man of understanding. 26. The young man who wastes his father's substance, or makes his aged mother destitute, is hateful, and will come to disgrace.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. 22. desire—that is, to do good, indicates a kind disposition (Pr 11:23); and the poor thus affected are better than liars, who say and do not. The desire of a man; either,

1. Of any or every man. All men desire, and it is desirable, to be in a capacity of being kind and bountiful to others, whereby they gain love and honour, and many other great advantages. Or,

2. Of the poor man, expressed in the next clause. The hearty will or desire of being kind or liberal to others in necessity is all the kindness which a poor man can show, and is accepted by God, and should be owned by men as a real kindness. Compare 2 Corinthians 8:12. Or,

3. Of the rich man, as may be gathered from the opposition of this man to the poor man in the following clause; such ellipses being very common in this book, as hath been noted again and again. So the sense may be this, There be a sort of rich men all whose kindness and charity consists in good desires and well wishes to persons in misery, saying to them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled, but not giving them those things which are needful, as it is expressed, James 2] 6. And this sense seems to agree very well with the following clause. But being singular in this exposition, I submit it to the judicious reader.

A poor man, who is not able to give what he desires to do,

is better than a liar; than a rich man, who feeds the poor with good words and fair promises, but doth not perform what he pretends and is able to do.

The desire of a man is his kindness,.... Either the grace and kindness of God, which is, desirable by every sensible man, as being most excellent, and better than life and anything in it; or it is his desire to show kindness. A good man is desirous of riches, that he might have it in the power of his hands to do good to others; and a beneficent man, who has it in his power, is desirous of an opportunity of showing kindness to his fellow creatures and friends; and such a disposition and conduct render a man very desirable and amiable; it is the beauty of a man, as Ben Melech; yea, a man that is not able to do a kindness to another, yet has a desire to do it, his good will is his kindness, and the will is taken for the deed. Gersom takes the word in the sense of "reproach", as it is sometimes used; and understands it of the sinful desires of the heart, the imaginations of the thoughts of the heart, which are evil continually, and so matter of reproach;

and a poor man is better than a liar; who is a rich man, as the Septuagint and Syriac versions add; who denies that he has ability to relieve the poor, when he has; or promises to do it, and does it not; such men of high degree are a lie indeed! and the poor man, whom he should relieve, is a better man than he; or that would relieve another, but it is not in his power to do it.

The desire of a man is his {h} kindness: and a poor man is better than a liar.

(h) That is, that he be honest: for the poor man who is honest is to be esteemed above the rich who is not virtuous.

22. is his kindness] The R.V. renders, is the measure of his kindness, in order to make the meaning clearer. The “kindness,” or “benevolence” of a man is to be measured, not by what he does, but by what he desires to do (2 Corinthians 8:12).

a liar] A poor man who would help but cannot is better than one whose circumstances or promises warrant expectations which are not fulfilled.

The proverb holds together better and is more forcible thus than if rendered, with R.V. marg., that which maketh a man to be desired is his kindness.

Verse 22. - The desire of a man is his kind. nose. The Revised Version rather paraphrases the clause, The desire of a man is the measure of his kindness; i.e. the wish and intention to do good is that which gives its real value to an act. The word for "kindness" is chesed, "mercy;" and, looking to the context, we see the meaning of the maxim to be that a poor man's desire of aiding a distressed neighbour, even if he is unable to carry out his intention, is taken for the act of mercy. "The desire of a man" may signify a man's desirableness, that which makes him to be desired or loved; this is found in his liberality. But the former explanation is most suitable. Septuagint, "Mercifulness is a gain unto a man," which is like ver. 17; Vulgate, Homo indigens misericors est, taking a man's desire as evidenceing his need and poverty, and introducing the idea that the experience of misery conduces to pity, as says Dido (Virgil, 'AEn.,' 1:630) -

"Non ignara mali miseris succurrere disco." A poor man is better than a liar. A poor man who gives to one in distress his sympathy and good wishes, even if he can afford no substantial aid, is better than a rich man who promises much and does nothing, or who falsely professes that he is unable to help (comp. Proverbs 3:27, 28). Septuagint, "A poor righteous man is better than a rich liar." A Buddhist maxim says, "Like a beautiful flower, full of colours, but without scent, are the fine but fruitless words of him who does not act accordingly" (Max Muller). Proverbs 19:22The series makes a new departure with a proverb regarding the poor (cf. Proverbs 19:17):

A man's delight is his beneficence;

And better is a poor man than a liar.

The right interpretation will be that which presses upon תּאות no strange meaning, and which places the two parts of the verse in an inner mutual relation ethically right. In any case it lies nearer to interpret תאות, in relation to man, actively than passively: that which makes man worthy of desire (Rashi), adorns and distinguishes him (Kimchi, Aben-Ezra); or, that which is desired by man, is above all things sought for (Luzzatto); and, in like manner, the Heb. meaning for חסדּו lies nearer than the Aram. (vid., Proverbs 14:34): the pleasure of a man is his disgrace (Ralbag). Thus Bertheau's translation: the desire of a man is his charitas, must mean: that which brings to a man true joy is to act amiably. But is that, thus generally expressed, true? And if this were the thought, how much more correctly and distinctly would it be expressed by שׂמחה לאדם עשׂות חסד (cf. Proverbs 21:15)! Hitzig so rightly reminded by חסדו of the Pharisee who thanks God that he is not as other men; the word ought to have been חסד to remove every trace of self-satisfaction. Hitzig therefore proposes from the lxx and the Vulgate the text-correction מתּבוּאת no, and translates, "from the revenue of a man is his kind gift;" and Ewald, who is satisfied with תּבוּאת, "the gain of a man is his pious love." The latter is more judicious: חסד (love) distributed is in reality gain (according to Proverbs 19:17); but 22b corresponds rather with the former: "better is he who from want does not give תבואה, than he who could give and says he has nothing." But was there then need for that καρπός of the lxx? If a poor man is better than a lord given to lying - for אישׁ with רשׁ is a man of means and position - i.e., a poor man who would give willingly, but has nothing, than that man who will not give, and therefore lies, saying that he has nothing; then 22a means that the will of a man (cf. תאות, Proverbs 11:23) is his doing good (vid., regarding חסד, ad Proverbs 3:3), i.e., is its soul and very essence. Euchel, who accordingly translates: the philanthropy of a man consists properly in his goodwill, rightly compares the Rabbinical proverb, אחד המרבה ואחד הממעיט ובלבד שׁיתבוון, i.e., one may give more or less, it all depends on the intention, the disposition.

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