Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, June 12th, 2024
the Week of Proper 5 / Ordinary 10
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Bible Commentaries
Proverbs 22

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold.

A (good) name (cf. Ecclesiastes 7:1 ) is rather to be chosen ... (and) loving favour rather the silver. Since "favour" by itself sufficiently expresses the kindly feeling or esteem of others toward one, it is better to translate as margin, 'Favour is better than silver.' So the Chaldaic and Syriac; but the Vulgate, Septuagint, and Arabic support the English version. Character is better than riches, because its foundation is better-namely, virtue; its acquisition harder, its compass wider, its utility greater, its duration longer, its loss more fatal (Proverbs 4:9; Proverbs 13:15). Compare Joseph, Genesis 39:4; Genesis 39:21; Esther, Esther 2:15.

Verse 2

The rich and poor meet together: the LORD is the maker of them all.

The rich and poor meet together: the Lord is the Maker of them all. Though the rich and the poor are unequal in worldly means, yet they are equal in respect to creation and common nature. In spite of the conventional distinctions of property and position, they meet on a common footing in many things. They meet on a level in respect to the common weaknesses of humanity, sickness, and death. So in the house of God (James 2:1-4). Neither could dispense with the other. The rich need the labour of the poor; the poor the money and educated intelligence of the rich. Therefore the poor are not to be despised, nor the rich to be envied. To do so would be to reproach God, who hath made both as they are (Proverbs 14:31; Proverbs 29:13). Rather, both are to be bound together in mutual offices of kindness. Men are to be estimated not by their riches or their poverty, but by the "good name" and "favour" which they deserve or not before God and man (Proverbs 22:1).

Verse 3

A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished.

A prudent (man) foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself (from it, until it has passed by, Isaiah 4:6 ; Isaiah 26:20 ; Isaiah 32:2 ): but the simple pass on (apprehending nothing, and therefore not getting out of the way of the evil), and are punished - for their sinful inconsiderateness or foolhardihood. If the simple see the evil, yet they do not see it in its true magnitude. They are so hurried away by their passions that they recklessly pass on. The godly prudent, through spiritual instinct, guided by Scripture, along with experience, often foresee spiritual danger, and shun it. It is true wisdom to flee from coming wrath. So Noah, Hebrews 11:7. 'It is nature which teaches a wise man in fear to hide himself. But grace and faith teach him where. Where should the frighted child hide his head but in the bosom of his loving Father? where a Christian, but under the shadow of the wings of Christ, his Saviour?' (Hooker's 'Remedy against Fear.')

Verse 4

By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, and honour, and life.

By (Hebrew, the end or reward of) humility, (and) the fear of the Lord, (are) riches, honour, and life - (Psalms 19:11; Psalms 112:3; Matthew 6:33), True "humility" is the inseparable associate of "the fear of the Lord." The humble, affected with a true sense of the divine majesty, cannot but feel their own vileness and nothingness by the comparison.

Verse 5

Thorns and snares are in the way of the froward: he that doth keep his soul shall be far from them.

Thorns and snares (entanglements in sin, and consequent punishment) are in the way of the froward. He brings these on himself by his perversity, and cannot extricate himself from them. So Israel, Joshua 23:13; Judges 2:3. Sinners often encounter more bitter pains on account of hell than the godly on account of heaven: and as they lay snares for others (Psalms 38:12; Psalms 64:5), so Satan for them (1 Timothy 3:7; 2 Timothy 2:26).

He that doth keep his soul (he who hath a watchful regard to his eternal safety, 1 John 5:18 ) shall be far from them - from the "thorns and snares."

Verse 6

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Train up (literally, initiate: dedicate, as a house, Numbers 7:10-11 ; or temple 1 Kings 8:63 : Hebrew, chanak) a child in (Hebrew, according to) the way he should go (Hebrew, his way); and when he is old, he will not depart from it. The child is to be initiated in the way of life from the earliest dawn of intelligence (2 Timothy 1:5; 2 Timothy 3:15; Deuteronomy 6:7). Children understand more than they can express. As a temple newly built, and not yet profaned, is solemnly set apart to the Lord, so a child, by pious training, is dedicated as a temple of the Holy Spirit (cf. Hannah's dedication of Samuel, 1 Samuel 1:28). For "train up," the margin is 'catechize.' The Hebrew for 'catechize.' The Hebrew for 'catechism' was taken from this verb, ceeper (H5612) chinuk (H2593) (margin, Genesis 14:14). In order to train a child aright we must ask God, "How shall we order the child, and how shall we do unto him?" (Judges 13:12) "In" - Hebrew [ `al (H5921) piy (H6310)]. 'upon the mouth of his way' - i:e., not as Mercer and Maurer, 'in proportion to the capacity of his understanding;' but as the English version, "in the way he should go;" not in the way he would go; perhaps with the additional idea that this is to be done at the mouth or opening of his way; from the first opening of reason. The Hebrew is, however, often used simply for according to (Genesis 43:7. margin: Leviticus 27:18; Numbers 26:56). "From it" - i:e., from the training (Mercer); from the way he should go, in the English version, Childhood is pliable; maturity is hard and unimpressible. The seed sown in childhood may seem lost for a time, but if it have been sown in faith, it will develop itself "when he is old." Timothy, taught in Scripture as a child, was not fully converted until he was a man (1 Timothy 1:2). The seed is to be sown in youth; the harvest is not to be expected until manhood.

Verse 7

The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.

The rich ruleth over the poor. Let it be the rule of order, exercised in kindness; not of pride and oppression (James 2:6). The capitalist often exercises an iron control over his workmen, as if they were so many soulless machines for producing wealth for himself.

And the borrower (is) servant to the lender. 'Sell not your liberty to gratify your luxury' (Henry). Avoid needless borrowing, by honourable and independent industry.

Verse 8

He that soweth iniquity shall reap vanity: and the rod of his anger shall fail.

He that soweth iniquity shall reap vanity - (Job 4:8; Hosea 10:13.) According to each man's sowing shall be his harvest.

And the rod of his anger shall fail - the rod wherewith, in his insolent anger, he attack the poor who were subject to him, shall fail (Isaiah 14:5-6). Gesenius, in accordance with Lamentations 3:1, takes it, 'the rod of His (God's) anger is prepared-namely, for him that soweth iniquity. Umbreit, 'the rod of his anger (i:e., the rod of wrath wherewith he shall be punished) is prepared. The Chaldaic and Vulgate, 'shall be consummated.' The Syriac, 'shall be consumed,' which supports the English version.

Verse 9

He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed; for he giveth of his bread to the poor.

A bountiful eye - in contrast to an 'evil eye against one's poor brother' (Deuteronomy 15:9), as the Levite "looked on" the wounded man, and yet "passed by on the other side" (Luke 10:32). It is by looking upon our brother's need that we are moved to pity and to relieve him.

Shall be blessed - by God (2 Corinthians 9:6), by the poor (Job 31:20), and by all good men.

For he giveth of his bread - not it all, but a portion of it. The claims of our own families are not to be forgotten.

Verse 10

Cast out the scorner, and contention shall go out; yea, strife and reproach shall cease.

Cast out the scorner - from the family (as Hagar and Ishmael, Genesis 21:9-10: 'Sarah saw the son of Hagar ... mocking, wherefore she said, Cast out, etc.), from the State, and from the Church. He who scorns God and man stirs up quarrels. To get rid of him is to get rid of "strife" (Hebrew, din, judicial contention).

Verse 11

He that loveth pureness of heart, for the grace of his lips the king shall be his friend.

He that loveth pureness of heart (for) the grace of his lips (or as margin, and who hath grace in his lips; or, whose lips are grace; i:e., gracious (Ecclesiastes 10:12 ; Psalms 45:2 ), the king (shall be) his friend. Pureness of heart, free from the foreign admixture of hypocrisy and self-seeking, is the only solid foundation for grace in the lips. DeDieu takes the second clause as part of the predicate, 'Whosoever loveth pureness of heart, his lips are gracious, and the king shall be his friend.' "The king" - namely, he who is a king according to the true ideal of kingship, especially the King of kings. The Vulgate supports the English version.

Verse 12

The eyes of the LORD preserve knowledge, and he overthroweth the words of the transgressor.

The eyes of the Lord preserve knowledge - namely, that of the godly, practical, and experimental knowledge of the truth. His "eyes," regard with favour, so that He 'preserves' those who have saving "knowledge" of Himself. He takes care that it shall not be lost to them. "Pureness of heart" is the avenue to it, and brings with it the friendship of the great King (Proverbs 22:11.)

And he overthroweth the words of the transgressor. They hoped by lies and flatteries to gain friends; but God thwarts and overthrows them and their words.

Verse 13

The slothful man saith, There is a lion without, I shall be slain in the streets.

The slothful (man) saith, (Their is) a lion without - inventing imaginary dangers to excuse his indolence in staying at home, instead of going forth into active business.

In the streets - indicating the silliness of his excuse. Lions do not roam at large "in the streets," but in wild forests.

Verse 14

The mouth of strange women is a deep pit: he that is abhorred of the LORD shall fall therein.

The mouth of strange women (the flattering speeches of the temptress, Proverbs 7:11-21 ) (is) a deep pit - such as wild beasts are caught in, from which there is no escape.

He that is abhorred of the Lord (on account of willful resistance to the Holy Spirit, and sin persevered in, Psalms 7:11 ) shall fell therein - (Ecclesiastes 7:26.) God punishes a long course of willful sin in rejection of the light by another sin: the latter sin is the punishment of the previous sin (Psalms 81:11-12; Romans 1:28).

Verse 15

Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.

Foolishness (is) bound in (or to) the heart of a child - not merely by slight threads, but as it were by chains, so that it cannot easily be torn from it. The Hebrew, qªshuwraah (H7194), expresses firm, compact, and close embrace (Genesis 44:30; 1 Samuel 18:1).

(But) (notwithstanding the intimacy of the bond of union between foolishness and a child's heart) the rod of correction (the rod which is not used in blind passion, and immoderately, but for the amendment of the child) shall drive it far from him (Proverbs 13:24; Proverbs 19:18; Proverbs 23:13-14; Proverbs 29:15; Proverbs 29:17).

Verse 16

He that oppresseth the poor to increase his riches, and he that giveth to the rich, shall surely come to want.

He that oppresseth the poor to increase his (riches, and) he that giveth to the rich, (shall) surely (Hebrew, only; 'ak (H389 )) (come) to want. Both alike are seeking self: the one by oppressing the poor, the other by giving to the rich hoping for something again (Luke 6:33-35). The latter often comes to want and disappointment in this world, and certainly shall be without the true riches at the day of coming recompense (Luke 14:12-14). Maurer translates, 'He that oppresseth the poor shall' in the event be found 'to increase the poor man's riches;' as when the oppressive injury has been detected, his property shall be restored to him, and be shall receive more (Mercer); for thereby the poor is stirred up to strain his energies the more (Maurer). "He that giveth to the rich" (meanwhile oppressing the poor, so as to have what to give to the "rich," Mercer) shall, in the event, be found to have done so only to the impoverishment of the rich man, is the rich man is thereby tempted to idleness and extravagance.

Verse 17

Bow down thine ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply thine heart unto my knowledge.

From this verse to Proverbs 24:22 the continuous style is resumed from Proverbs 1:1-33; Proverbs 2:1-22; Proverbs 3:1-35; Proverbs 4:1-27; Proverbs 5:1-23; Proverbs 6:1-35; Proverbs 7:1-27; Proverbs 8:1-36; Proverbs 9:1-18; Proverbs 10:1-32. This is the third part of the book, or rather an epilogue to the previous part (Proverbs 9:1-18; Proverbs 10:1-32; Proverbs 11:1-31; Proverbs 12:1-28; Proverbs 13:1-25; Proverbs 14:1-35; Proverbs 15:1-33; Proverbs 16:1-33; Proverbs 17:1-28; Proverbs 18:1-24; Proverbs 19:1-29; Proverbs 20:1-30; Proverbs 21:1-31; Proverbs 22:1-29).

Bow down thine ear - the introductory exhortation.

And hear the words of the wise ... my knowledge. Solomon represents himself is the inspired mouthpiece of the godly wise of all ages.

Verse 18

For it is a pleasant thing if thou keep them within thee; they shall withal be fitted in thy lips.

For (it is) a pleasant thing if thou keep them within thee (in thy breast; cf. margin); they shall withal be fitted in thy lips. Or supply 'if.' 'If they shall be equally [ yachdaaw (H3162)] fitted in (i:e., aptly expressed by) thy lips,' as they are kept within thy heart. The sweetness or pleasantness of godly "knowledge is:

(1) if it be treasured in the inmost heart (Proverbs 2:10; Psalms 19:10; Psalms 119:103);

(2) if it be happily fitted with words of the lips (Psalms 119:171; Matthew 12:34-35; Colossians 3:16).

Verse 19

That thy trust may be in the LORD, I have made known to thee this day, even to thee.

That thy trust may be in the Lord (the true end of knowledge, Proverbs 22:17 , and of utterance, Proverbs 22:18 ), I have made known to thee this day, even to thee. The repetition is for emphasis. To thee, to thy very self, whosoever thou art that readest or hearest (Genesis 27:34). If heretofore thou hast not known or attended to my words, I set them before thee NOW. "This day" extends to each generation in succession that reeds this book (Psalms 95:7; Hebrews 3:7; Hebrews 3:15; Hebrews 4:7). Thou canst not plead the excuse that thou hast never heard.

Verse 20

Have not I written to thee excellent things in counsels and knowledge,

Have not I written to thee excellent things in counsels and knowledge. For the Qeri' [ shaaliyshiym (H7991)], "excellent things," the Kethibh reads [ shilshowm (H8032)], 'long ago'-literally, the day before yesterday; but this Hebrew word is never used without 'yesterday' ( tªmowl (H8543)) preceding. Proverbs 8:6, "Excellent (princely) things," corresponds to the English version: Hebrew, nªgiydiym (H5057). Shalishim are properly a class of military principal leaders. The Chaldaic Septuagint, Vulgate, Syriac, and Arabic translate, 'in a three-fold manner,' or 'three times.' 'Counsels" refer to practical everyday life; "knowledge," to theory.

Verse 21

That I might make thee know the certainty of the words of truth; that thou mightest answer the words of truth to them that send unto thee?

That I might make thee know the certainty of the words of truth. The words of Scripture are:

(1) certain, and not at all ambiguous or equivocal (like the pagan oracles);

(2) full of truth, and therefore full of salutary power.

That thou mightest answer the words of truth to them that send unto thee? - to consult thee. One experimentally taught in Scripture becomes a kind of oracle whom others may consult in difficulties. But Gejer, after the Vulgate, Chaldaic, and Syriac, translates, 'to them that send thee'-namely, to thy superiors who send thee on any mission. So the Hebrew (1 Samuel 21:2; 2 Samuel 24:13; 1 Chronicles 21:12). But the Arabic supports the English version.

Verse 22

Rob not the poor, because he is poor: neither oppress the afflicted in the gate: Rob not the poor, because he is poor - because you think he is unable to ward off wrong. Or, since he is poor, do not add to his affliction.

The afflicted in the gate - i:e., in the place of justice. Those are the most grievous injuries which are inflicted under the pretext of justice, when the very harbour of refuge is made the rock to shipwreck them (Malachi 3:5; Zechariah 7:10). Let the poverty of the poor and the sanctity of the court of justice plead with thee for them.

Verse 23

For the LORD will plead their cause, and spoil the soul of those that spoiled them.

For the Lord will plead their cause (Jeremiah 50:34 ), and spoil the soul of those that spoiled them. Retribution in kind. Those who deprived the poor of their means of living, the Lord will deprive of life itself here and hereafter.

Verse 24

Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go:

With a furious man (a possessor of fury) thou shalt not go - as an associate.

Verse 25

Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul.

Lest thou ... get (receive) a snare to thy soul. "Get" or 'receive' implies a voluntary incurring of risk of destruction sudden and inevitable.

Verse 26

Be not thou one of them that strike hands, or of them that are sureties for debts. Be not thou one of them that strike hands, or of them that are sureties for debts.

Debts - literally, burdens.

Verse 27

If thou hast nothing to pay, why should he take away thy bed from under thee?

Why should he take away thy bed? - why should you involve yourself in such difficulties as to put it in the creditor's power to take away the very bed from under thee? (cf. Proverbs 20:16.)

Verse 28

Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set.

Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set. So spiritually, Do not irreverently displace the ancient landmarks of faith-e.g., the Pauline test of a standing or falling church, justification by faith only. Impatience of restraint, self-willed independence of spirit and lawless resistance of the authority of divine things are characteristic of the last days (2 Timothy 3:1-7; 2 Timothy 4:3-4). Romish traditions are a removing of the ancient landmarks which the Scripture has set up.

Verse 29

Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.

Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings - as Joseph, Nehemiah, and Daniel did (Genesis 39:3-6; Genesis 41:42; Nehemiah 1:11; Nehemiah 2:1; Daniel 6:1-3; Daniel 8:27). The spiritually diligent shall stand before the King of kings (cf. 1 Kings 10:8 with Revelation 7:15; Revelation 22:3-4; John 12:26).

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Proverbs 22". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/proverbs-22.html. 1871-8.
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