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Bible Commentaries
Proverbs 19

Barnes' Notes on the Whole BibleBarnes' Notes

Verse 1

The “perverse” man is the rich fool, as contrasted with the poor man who is upright.

Proverbs 19:1-2 are missing in the Septuagint.

Verse 3

The non-wisdom which, having brought about disasters by its own perverseness, then turns round and “fretteth,” i. e., angrily complains against the Providence of God.

Perverteth - Rather, “overturneth,” “maketh to fail.”

Verse 6

Intreat the favor ... - literally, “stroke the face” of the man of princely nature, who gives munificently.

Verse 7

It seems best to follow the Vulgate in taking the last clause as a separate maxim, He who pursues words, nought are they; i. e., the fair speeches and promises of help come to nothing. A various reading in the Hebrew gives, “he pursues after words, and these he shall have” - i. e., these, and nothing else.

This and other like maxims do not in reality cast scorn and shame on a state which Christ has pronounced “blessed.” Side by side with them is Proverbs 19:1, setting forth the honor of an upright poverty. But as there is an honorable poverty, so there is one which is altogether inglorious, caused by sloth and folly, leading to shame and ignominy, and it is well that the man who wishes to live rightly should avoid this. The teaching of Christ is, of course, higher than that of the Book of Proverbs, being based upon a fuller revelation of the divine will, pointing to a higher end and a nobler standard of duty, and transcending the common motives and common facts of life.

Verse 8

Wisdom - literally, as in the margin, to gain a “heart,” i. e., the higher faculties both of reason and feeling, is identical with gaining wisdom, i. e., the faculty which seeks and finds.

Verse 10

“Delight,” high unrestrained enjoyment, is to the “fool” who lacks wisdom but a temptation and a snare. The second clause carries the thought on to what the despotism of Eastern monarchies often presented, the objectionable rule of some favored slave, it might be, of alien birth, over the princes and nobles of the land.

Verse 13

Calamity - The Hebrew word is plural (as in Psalms 57:1; Psalms 91:3), and seems to express the multiplied and manifold sorrow caused by the foolish son.

Continual dropping - The irritating, unceasing, sound of the fall, drop after drop, of water through the chinks in the roof.

Verse 15

Casteth into a deep sleep - Better, causeth deep sleep to fall.

Verse 16

Keepeth his own soul - i. e., His life in the truest and highest sense.

Verse 17

Note the original greatness of the thought. We give to the poor. Have we lost our gift? No, what we gave, we have lent to One who will repay with usury. Compare the yet nobler truth of our Lord’s teaching Matthew 25:40.

Verse 18

While there is hope - While he is still young, and capable of being reformed.

Crying - Better, as in the margin, Do not set thy soul on his destruction; words which either counsel forbearance in the act of chastisement (compare Ephesians 6:4; Colossians 3:21); or urge that a false clemency is a real cruelty. The latter sense is preferable. The father is warned that to forbear from chastising is virtually to expose the son who needs it to a far worse penalty.

Verse 19

The sense of the last words seems to be that the connection between wrath and punishment is so invariable, that all efforts to save the passionate man from the disastrous consequences which he brings on his own head are made in vain.

Verse 21

Contrast the many purposes of man, shifting, changing, from good to better, from bad to worse, and the one unchanging righteous “counsel” of Yahweh.

Verse 22

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.

Verse 23

Shall abide satisfied - Better, one that is satisfied hath a sure abiding-place. The word “abide” has, most probably, here as elsewhere, its original sense of “passing the night.” Even in the hour of darkness he shall be free from fear.

Verse 24

Hideth his hand in his bosom - Better, dippeth his hand in the dish (compare 2 Kings 21:13). The scene brought before us is that of an Eastern feast. There are no knives, or forks, or spoons. Every guest has to help himself, or be helped by the host. Compare John 13:26.

Verse 25

Words which embrace nearly the whole theory of punishment. If the man who offends is a “scorner,” hardened beyond all hope of reformation, then punish him by way of retribution and example, and let the penalty be sharp, that even the unwary and careless may beware. If the man be “understanding,” then let the punishment take the form of discipline. Admonish, reprove, educate.

Verse 26

Or, A son that causeth shame, and bringeth reproach, is one that wasteth his father, and chaseth away his mother.

Verse 27

literally, Cease, my son, to hear instruction, that thou mayest err from the words of knowledge; advice given ironically to do that to which his weakness leads him, with a clear knowledge of the evil to which he is drifting.

Verse 28

Ungodly witness - literally, “Witness of Belial,” “worthless,” “untruthful.”

Devoureth iniquity - Seizes on it eagerly, as a dainty, lives on it.

Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Proverbs 19". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bnb/proverbs-19.html. 1870.
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