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Bible Commentaries

Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary

Proverbs 20

Verse 1

EVIL OF STRONG DRINK

(Proverbs 20)

Evil of Strong Drink

Verse 1 personifies wine and strong drink in terms that describe the effect such have on users. They become mockers (scorners or scoffers as in Proverbs 19:29) and aggressive in conduct. Those deceived by drink are not wise, see Proverbs 23:29-35; Isaiah 28:7; Daniel 5:1-5; Daniel 5:30-31; Hosea 4:11; Nahum 1:10.

Verse 2

Folly of Needless Provocation

Verse 2 warns against needless provocation of an angry person. The warning cited in this verse was most pertinent in the days when kings had unquestioned power to put to death, as Herod later ordered the death of John the Baptist (Matthew 14:6-10). Although this is not a threat in most places today, the principle of refraining from needless provocation of an angry person is still wise counsel, Romans 12:18; Hebrews 12:14. Far more serious than provoking man is that which provokes God, who has absolute power. See Psalms 7:11; Isaiah 1:2-4; Hosea 12:14; Nahum 1:3-6.

Verse 3

Avoid Strife

Verse 3, contrary to the opinion of many, declares that it is honorable to quiet or avoid strife; that fools engage in meddling (quarreling). See comment on Proverbs 17:14 and examples in Genesis 13:7-8; Genesis 26:19-30.

Verse 4

The Sluggard’s Excuse

Verse 4 emphasizes the tendency of the sluggard to seek an excuse for his laziness aryl the resulting consequence. He will not plow because of the cold wind that prevails in the planting time (Oct. -Dec.); therefore he shall have nothing at harvest time, Proverbs 10:4; Proverbs 19:15; Jeremiah 36:22; Genesis 8:22.

Verse 5

Understanding Human Nature

Verse 5 affirms that the objectives in the mind of man are as unknown as that which lies beneath deep waters; but a man of understanding (insight gleaned from wisdom) will be able to discover unrevealed intent, Proverbs 10:23; Proverbs 11:12; Proverbs 14:29; Proverbs 15:21; Proverbs 17:27; Proverbs 18:2; Proverbs 18:4. (The view that Proverbs 20:5 teaches that all men possess wisdom in not consistent with Proverbs 14:12.)

Verse 6

Profession or Possession

Verse 6 suggests that many boast of their "own" goodness; but a faithful man who is what he claims to be is hard to find. Compare Proverbs 25:14; Matthew 6:2; Luke 18:11 with Proverbs 13:17; Proverbs 14:5; Luke 18:8-14.

Verse 7

A Parent’s Best Legacy

Verse 7 describes the best legacy a parent can leave to his children; a life of integrity. A consistent example of trust in the LORD that prompted faithfulness to God and concern for the spiritual welfare of family, accompanied by much instruction and prayer. Such a life has the promise that the children are blessed after the parent has passed on, Proverbs 19:1; Proverbs 28:6; Psalms 37:25-26; Psalms 112:1-2.

Verse 8

The Sifting of the Wicked

Verses 8, and verses 26, 28 refer to a king, one whose authority in that day was absolute, sitting on a throne of judgment to sift people as grain is sifted to separate the chaff.

Vs. 8 declares that the scattering away of all evil is accomplished with the eyes of the king. This suggests the judge of all forecast in 1 Samuel 2:10; Psalms 96:10-13; Romans 2:16; Acts 17:31. There is an eye that misses nothing; the wicked need to take note and seek forgiveness, Romans 4:1-8.

Vs. 26 identifies the action as sifting the wicked by using as an illustration the threshing terms: scattereth (winnoweth) and wheel (rough cart used in winnowing).

Vs. 28 suggests that mercy (loving kindness) and truth sustain the true king and his throne. All who have by faith claimed His covenant blessings can rejoice that their sins are forgiven, Romans 4:1-8.

Verse 9

None Without Sin

Verse 9 poses a question all must answer with the negative "no one," for all have sinned and no one can cleanse himself, Job 14:4; Psalms 51:5; Ecclesiastes 7:20; Romans 3:9-10; Romans 3:20; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8. It is equally true, however, that forgiveness and cleansing of sin is offered to all through faith in the atoning death of Christ, Acts 4:10-12; Romans 3:24-26; Romans 4:1-10; 1 John 1:7; 1 John 1:9.

Verse 10

Short Weight and Measure

Verse 20:10- (See comment on Proverbs 11:1 and Proverbs 16:11.)

Verse 11

Actions Reveal Character

Verse 20:11 affirms, that actions, not words, prove what is in the heart of a child (as could also be said of adults, Proverbs 23:7). The early actions of a child reveal his propensity for sin and need for proper instruction. Much of Proverbs is addressed to the young, particularly the first seven chapters. The LORD is interested in the child and expects the parent, the father in particular, to observe his needs and insure his instruction as He has commanded, Psalms 127:3-5; Deuteronomy 6:7; Proverbs 22:6; Isaiah 28:9-10; Ephesians 6:4.

Verse 12

Precious Gifts

Verse 12 emphasizes that the LORD made and has given to man two senses by which he may acquire knowledge of truth: the hearing ear and the seeing eye. Accountability for proper use of these gifts is required, Proverbs 15:31-32; Proverbs 25:12; 1 Samuel 15:22-23; Psalms 94:8-10.

Verse 13

The Sleeping Sluggard

Verse 13 warns that love of excessive sleep leads to poverty and deprives of food. See also comment on verse Proverbs 20:4 and Proverbs 19:15.

Verse 14

The Bargain Seeker’s Folly

Verse 14 describes the bargain seeker who insists that the quality of the merchandise is poor in order to get a lower price, then after purchase boasts of the bargain he had obtained, although he likely paid more than it was worth, Proverbs 21:6. Even more foolish is the person who like Esau discounts a valuable possession and exchanges it for one moment of gratification, Proverbs Genesis 25:29-34; Hebrews 12:16.

Verse 15

The Choice Possession

Verse 15 suggests that to acquire the knowledge and wisdom to speak that which will influence the ear is of greater value than gold and rubies which attract only the eye. See comment on Proverbs 3:13-15 and Proverbs 8:10-11, also Job 28:12; Job 28:16-19.

Verse 16

Warning Against Suretyship

Verse 16- See comment on Proverbs 6:1-5, also Exodus 22:26.

Verse 17

The Afterward of Sin

Verse 17- See comment on Proverbs 5:4 and Proverbs 9:17-18.

Verse 18

Value of Counsel

Verse 18-See comment on Proverbs 11:14.

Verse 19

Avoid Talebearers

Verse 19 emphasizes that the talebearer reveals secrets (those of the listener as well as those of others) and advises against confiding in or providing a receptive ear for such a person, Proverbs 11:13; Proverbs 18:8; Proverbs 26:20; Proverbs 26:22; Proverbs 17:9; 1 Kings 21:13.

Verse 20

Rebellious Children

Verse 20 warns of punishment by death for whoso curseth his father or mother. This offense, however expressed, involved rebellion against God’s plan for the family which placed children in subjection to parents and commanded that father and mother be honored (Exodus 20:12). Rebellion against parents was therefore serious rebellion against God Himself, and punishable as a capital offense, Proverbs 10:1; Proverbs 13:1; Proverbs 15:20; Proverbs 30:11-13; Proverbs 30:17; Job 18:5-6; Exodus 21:17; Leviticus 20:9; Deuteronomy 21:18-21; Deuteronomy 27:16. There is no procedure in the New Testament for effecting the death penalty for this offense. However, Jesus mentioned it (Matthew 15:3-6; Mark 7:9-13) and Ephesians 6:1-3 implies that the life of offenders will be shortened.

Verse 21

Q uestionable Gain

Verse 21- See comment on Proverbs 13:11.

Verse 22

Repay Evil With Good

Verse 22 presents the LORD’s counsel for dealing with evil. Do not return evil for evil, but wait for the LORD to repay the offender and save you from the intended ill. In the meantime, render any aid needed by the offender, Proverbs 24:29; Proverbs 25:21; Deuteronomy 32:35; Psalms 27:14; Romans 12:17; Romans 12:19-20.

Verse 23

Short Weight

Verse 23- See comment on Proverbs 11:1 and Proverbs 16:11.

Verse 24

The Lord’s Will Prevails

Verse 24-See comment on Proverbs 16:1.

Verse 25

Caution In Making Vows

Verse 25 urges care in making vows lest more be promised than can be paid. The LORD expects vows to be kept. It is better not to vow than to vow and not pay, Ecclesiastes 5:4-5; Acts 5:1-10.

Verse 26

Sifting of the Wicked

Verse 26-See comment on Proverbs 20:8.)

Verse 27

The Spirit of Man

Verse 27 refers to the spirit God breathed into man, the spirit that made him an eternal being, different from the animals, Genesis 2:7. This spirit of man has the capability of being illuminated by and responding to the Divine Spirit, Job 32:8; Ecclesiastes 12:7; Acts 7:59; Acts 17:27; Romans 1:20; 1 Corinthians 2:9-11.

Verse 28

The Throne of Mercy and Truth

Verse 28-See comment on 20:8.

Verse 29

All Ages Have a Purpose

Verse 29 suggests that each age level has its place. The young can rejoice that they have physical strength and agility which enable them to be active in many fields; the aged lack physical strength but can rejoice in the wisdom they have accumulated and the blessings of the LORD of which their advanced age attests, Proverbs 16:31.

Verse 30

Corrective Discipline

Verse 30 speaks of the discipline necessary to correct human shortcomings, error, neglect, etc. Some faults are grievous and the discipline must be heavy, but it is administered in love and for our good. Deuteronomy 8:5; Job 16:12; Psalms 66:11; Psalms 119:67; Hebrews 12:5; Hebrews 12:11; Job 5:17; Revelation 3:19.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Blessed Hope Foundation and the Baptist Training Center.
Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Proverbs 20". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/proverbs-20.html. 1985.