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Thursday, July 18th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
Proverbs 12

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and HomileticalLange's Commentary

Verses 1-28

β) With reference to domestic, civil and public avocations

Proverbs 12:0

1          He that loveth correction loveth knowledge;

but whosoever hateth rebuke is brutish.

2     The good man obtaineth favor from Jehovah;

but the man of wicked devices doth he condemn.

3     A man shall not be established by wickedness;

but the root of the righteous shall not be moved.

4     A good wife is the crown of her husband,

but one that causeth shame is as rottenness in his bones.

5     The thoughts of the righteous are justice;

the counsels of the wicked are deceit.

6     The words of the wicked are a lying in wait for blood,

but the mouth of the upright delivereth them.

7     The wicked are overturned and are no more;

but the house of the righteous shall stand.

8     According to his wisdom shall a man be praised;

but he that is of a perverse heart shall be despised.

9     Better is the lowly that serveth himself,

than he that boasteth and lacketh bread.

10     The righteous careth for the life of his beast;

but the sympathy of the wicked is cruelty.

11     He that tilleth his land shall be satisfied with bread:

but he that followeth after vanity is void of understanding.

12     The wicked desireth the spoil of evil doers,

but the root of the righteous is made sure.

13     In the transgression of the lips is a dangerous snare,

but the righteous escapeth from trouble.

14     From the fruit of a man’s mouth shall he be satisfied with good;

and the work of one’s hands shall return to him.

15     The way of a fool is right in his own eyes,

but he that hearkeneth to counsel is wise.

16     The vexation of the fool is at once known;

but he that hideth offence is wise.

17     He that uttereth truth proclaimeth right,

but the lying tongue deceit.

18     There is that talketh idly like the piercings of a sword:

but the tongue of the wise is health.

19     The lip of truth shall be established forever;

but the lying tongue only for a moment.

20     Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil,

but to those who give wholesome counsel is joy.

21     There shall no evil befall the righteous;

but the wicked are full of calamity.

22     Lying lips are an abomination to Jehovah;

but they that deal truly are his delight.

23     A prudent man hideth knowledge:

but the heart of fools proclaimeth foolishness.

24     The hand of the diligent shall rule:

but the slothful shall be obliged to serve.

25     If heaviness be in the heart of man it boweth it down;

a good word maketb. it glad.

26     The righteous guideth his friend aright;

but the way of the wicked leadeth him astray.

27     The idle catcheth not his prey,

but a precious treasure to a man is diligence.

28     In the path of righteousness is life:

but a devious way (leadeth) to death.


Ver.11.—רַחֲמֵי. [This plural is cited by Böttcher, § 699, among the examples of that, ideally extended and abstract, which vividly and agreeably impresses the spirit, and therefore is fitly represented by a plural; comp. אַשְׁרֵי, etc.]

Proverbs 12:17.—יָפִיחַ אֱמוּנָה (comp. יָפִיחַ כְּזָבִים, Proverbs 6:19) is to be regarded as a relative clause. [Böttcher, however, regards יפיה here and in Proverbs 6:19; Proverbs 14:25; Proverbs 19:5; Proverbs 19:9; Psalms 12:6; Psalms 27:12, as a Hiphil participle of peculiar form, found only in a few instances in connection with roots containing a labial that would closely follow the מ which is the ordinary prefix of the Hiphil participle. The omission of this מ gives a form approaching the Kal. Böttcher objects to Ewald’s description of this as an intransitive Kal participle (§ 169, a), that this verb is not intransitive, etc. See § 994, 9 and 4).—A.]

Proverbs 12:28.—An additional objection to the ordinary interpretation (see exegetical notes below) is the absence of Mappiq in the ה of נְתִיבָה, which must nevertheless be regarded as a third pers. suffix referring to צְרָקָה, “the way of its path.”


1.Proverbs 12:1-3. Three proverbs, on the contrast between good and evil in general.—Whosoever hateth correction is brutish.—בָּעַר, brutus, stupid as a beast; a peculiarly strong expression. Comp. chaps, Proverbs 30:2; Psalms 49:10; Psalms 73:22; Psalms 92:6. Hitzig prefers to read בֹּעֵר, which alteration, however, appears from the passages just, cited to be unnecessary.

Proverbs 12:2. The good man obtaineth favor from Jehovah. For the use of this verb “obtain” (lit. “to draw out”) comp. Proverbs 3:13; Proverbs 8:35But the man of wicked devices doth he condemn,i.e., Jehovah. Others regard the verb as intransitive, e.g., the Vulgate, “impie agit,” and now Hitzig, who finds expressed here the idea of “incurring penalty.” But for this signification of this Hiphil there is wanting the necessary illustration and support; and as evidence that the וְאִישׁ מְזִמּוֹת may be regarded as an accusative without the sign אֶת comp., e.g., Proverbs 10:11; Psalms 56:8; Job 22:29, etc.—With Proverbs 12:3 compare Proverbs 10:25, and with the second clause in particular Proverbs 12:12 below.

2.Proverbs 12:4-11. Eight proverbs on the blessings and banes of domestic life, and on the cause of both.

Proverbs 12:4. A good wife is her husband’s crown. Literally, a woman of power, i.e., of moral power and probity, such as manifests itself in her domestic activity; comp. Proverbs 31:10; Ruth 3:11. The “crown” or the garland (עֲטָרָה) is here regarded evidently as an emblem of honor and renown, comp. the “crown of rejoicing” (στέφανος καυχήσεως), 1 Thessalonians 2:19; also Proverbs 31:23; Proverbs 31:28.—But like a rottenness in his bones is she that causeth shame.—Literally a worm-eating, i.e., a ruin inwardly undermining and slowly destroying; comp. Proverbs 14:30; Job 3:16.

Proverbs 12:5. The thoughts of the righteous are just; the counsels of the wicked are deceit,i.e., the very thoughts of the pious, much more then their words and deeds, aim at simple justice and righteousness; the shrewd counsels, however, by which the wicked seek to direct others (תַּחְבֻּלוֹת, comp. Proverbs 11:14), are in themselves deceitful and unreal, and therefore lead solely to evil

Proverbs 12:6. The words of the wicked are a lying in wait for blood,i.e., they mean malice, they are the expression of a bloodthirsty and murderous disposition; comp. Proverbs 1:11 sq.; Proverbs 11:9—Altogether needlessly Hitzig alters the phrase אֲרָב־דָּם to אֶרֶב בָּם “are a snare for them.”—The mouth of the righteous, however, delivereth them,—that is, the righteous (comp. Proverbs 11:6), or it may be also the innocent who are threatened by the lying in wait of the wicked for blood (comp. Proverbs 11:9). [So Wordsw. and Muenscher]

Proverbs 12:7. The wicked are overturned and are no more.—The infin. abs. הָפוֹךְ here stands emphatically for the finite verb, and furthermore, for this is certainly the simplest assumption, in an active or intransitive sense [comp. however in general on this idiom Böttcher, § 990, a.—A.]; “the wicked turn about, then are they no more” [comp. the proverbial expression “in the turning of a hand”]. To regard it as a passive (Ewald, Elster, Hitzig) [K., M., S.] is unnecessary; this gives a stronger meaning than the poet probably designed, i.e., “the wicked are overthrown” (or even “turned upside down,” Hitzig). The subsequent clause “and are no more” would not harmonize with so strong a meaning in the antecedent clause, especially if, as Hitzig supposes, the verb really designs to remind us of the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:21). With the second clause comp. Proverbs 10:25; Matthew 7:25.

Proverbs 12:8. According to his wisdom.—לְפִי [literally “in the face or presence of”], “in proportion to,” “according to the measure of,” as in Judges 1:8 and frequently elsewhere.—But he that is of a perverse heart shall be despised,—lit., “the crooked in heart,” i.e., the perverse man, who does not see things as they are, and therefore acts perversely and injudiciously (Hitzig).

Proverbs 12:9. Better is the lowly that serveth himself.—With this use of “lowly, insignificant,” comp. 1 Samuel 18:23. The phrase וְעֶבֶד לוֹ the Targum, Aben Ezra, Bertheau, Elster [De W., N., S.], regard as expressing this idea, “and he has at the same time a servant.” But the parallelism demands the meaning early given in the LXX, Vulgate and Syr. versions [and now preferred by K., H., M., W.], “ministrans sibi ipsi,” serving himself, which is here evidently put in contrast with the foolish, impoverished pride of birth mentioned in the second clause,—whether we retain the Masoretic reading, or, with Ziegler, Ewald and Hitzig, read וְעֹבֵד לוֹ (participial).—And lacketh bread.—Comp. 2 Samuel 3:29. With the general sentiment compare the passage which undoubtedly grew out of this, Sir 10:30.

Proverbs 12:10. The righteous careth for the life of his beast,i.e., he knows how his beast feels, he concerns himself, he cares for his domestic animals, does not allow them to hunger. [Arnot: When the pulse of kindness beats strong in the heart, the warm stream goes sheer through the body of the human family, and retains force enough to expatiate among the living creatures that lie beyond], Comp. Exodus 23:9, “Ye know the heart of he stranger,” from which parallel passage it appears that Ziegler, Elster, etc., are in the wrong in translating נֶפֶשׁ here by “hunger.” For examples of this use of the verb יָדַע “to know,” in the sense of “to concern one’s self, to care for something,” comp. also Proverbs 27:23; Genesis 39:6; Psalms 1:6, etc.But the compassion of the wicked is cruelty,—lit., “is cruel.”—With the whole proverb comp. Sir 7:23.

Proverbs 12:11. But he that followeth after vanity.—רֵיקִים is probably not the designation of “vain persons,” as in Judges 9:4; 2 Samuel 6:20; comp. 2 Kings 4:3 (Umbreit, Bertheau, etc.), but is to be regarded as neuter, i.e., as an abstract, and therefore as meaning vain things, vanities, and, as the contrast with the first clause shows, specially “idleness, inaction, laziness.” Comp. the LXX, who have here rendered the expression by μάταια, but in the passage almost literally identical, Proverbs 28:19, by σχολήν; in like manner Symmachus (ἀπραγίαν), Vulgate (otium), etc.

3.Proverbs 12:12-22. Eleven additional proverbs with regard to virtues and faults in civil relations, especially sins of the tongue and their opposites.—The wicked desireth the spoil of evil doers,i.e., one wicked man seeks to deprive another of his gains, one of them is evermore seeking the injury and ruin of another, so that no peace prevails among them (Isaiah 48:22; Isaiah 57:21); they are rather “by the conflict of their selfish strivings ever consuming one another.” Thus, and doubtless correctly, Umbreit and Elster [to whose view K. gives a qualified assent], while Bertheau, following the Targum, translates מָצוֹד by “net,” and to illustrate the meaning thus obtained, compares Proverbs 8:35 [this is also the rendering of the E. V., which is followed by W., M., H.; S. renders “desireth an evil net,” i.e., destruction, being so intent upon his evil deeds as to disregard the consequences; N. renders in seeming agreement with our author “the prey of evil doers,” the genitive being however possessive and not objective, i.e., such prey as evil doers take]; Ewald however and Hitzig regard the passage as altogether corrupt, on account of the widely divergent text of the ancient versions (LXX, Vulg., Syr.), and therefore propose emendations (Ewald, “the desire of the wicked is an evil net;” Hitzig, “the refuge of the wicked is crumbling clay”). It is certainly noteworthy that the LXX and Vulgate offer a double rendering of the verse, first one that widely departs, and then one less seriously differing from the form of the Masoretic text.—With the second clause comp. Proverbs 12:3, second clause. For the verb יִתֵּן it is probably not needful to supply as subject the word “Jehovah,” which has been omitted (Umbreit, Bertheau, Elster [Wordsw. (?)], etc.) [nor with Luther, De W., E. V., N. and M. to supply an object,—giveth or yieldeth (fruit)]; but, as in the instance in Proverbs 10:24, to change the punctuation to the passive יֻתַּן, or again, to write יֵתֵן (derived from יָתַן firmus fuit, comp. the proper name אֵיתָן with the Targum, Reiske, Hitzig [Stuart], etc.

Proverbs 12:13. In the transgression of the lips is a dangerous snare; i.e., he who seeks to ruin others by evil speaking is himself overthrown in the same way. Bertheau proposes to construe so as to give the meaning “is a snare of or for the wicked,” which, however, is contrary to the analogy of Ecclesiastes 9:12—After this verse also the LXX introduces a peculiar addition consisting of two clauses, which, however, is probably nothing more than an old gloss on the following verse; comp. Hitzig on this passage.

Proverbs 12:14. From the fruit of a man’s mouth is he satisfied with good.—Lit., “from the fruit of the mouth of the man doth he satisfy himself with good;” i.e., it is the good fruit which one brings forth in wise, intelligent, benevolent discourse, that results in blessing to him. Comp. Proverbs 13:2; Proverbs 18:20. In the second clause to good words good works are added, and as “returning upon him” (comp. Psalms 7:16); they are therefore represented as being in a sense the personified bearers of reward and blessing. Compare the similar thought, referring however to future retributions, and therefore somewhat differently expressed, Revelation 14:13, “their works do follow them.”

Proverbs 12:15-16 belong together, as both refer to the fool and his opposite.—The way of a fool is right in his own eyes,i.e., according to his own judgment (comp. Proverbs 3:7), which presents to him his own mode of action in a light favorable enough, although others may ever so often, and in a way ever so convincing, point out its perverseness. The exact opposite of this is found in the conduct of the wise man, the willing listener to wise counsels. Comp. Proverbs 14:12; Proverbs 16:25; Proverbs 21:2.—The vexation of the fool is at once known,—lit., “is known even on the same day,” i.e., at once, after a short time (Vulgate, statim). In contrast with this passionate breaking out of the offended fool, the wise man exercises a prudent self-control in a seemly disregard of the insult put upon him, as Saul once did, 1 Samuel 10:27.

Proverbs 12:17. He that uttereth truth proclaimeth right, i.e., always gives utterance to that which is strictly just; so especially in judicial examinations as witness. This “truth” (אֱמוּנָה) is subjective truth, fidelity to one’s own convictions (πίστις, LXX), the opposite to the lies which characterize the false witness; comp. Proverbs 14:5; Proverbs 14:25.

Proverbs 12:18. There is that talketh idly, as though it were thrusts of a sword, lit., “like piercings of a sword,” or “like knife thrusts” (Hitzig); i.e. he breaks out with speeches so inconsiderate and inappropriate, that the persons present feel themselves injured as if by sharp thrusts. This rude and inconsiderate babbling of the fool is here fitly described by the verb בָּטָה, which is equivalent to בָּטָא, used in Leviticus 5:4; Numbers 30:7; Psalms 106:33 (of speaking hastily, rashly, unadvisedly).—But the tongue of the wise is health.—“Medicine, healing” (comp. Proverbs 4:22), forms here an exceedingly appropriate antithesis to the inwardly wounding effect of the inconsiderate babbling mentioned before.

Proverbs 12:19. But the lying tongue only for a moment.—Literally, “till I wink again, till I complete a wink of the eye;” comp. Jeremiah 49:19; Jeremiah 50:44. This is therefore a detailed poetical circumlocution for the idea of a little while, an instant (Isaiah 54:7): the verb here employed (הִרְגִּיעַ) is a denominative derived from רֶגַע a wink.—Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil.—“Deceit, malignity” (comp.Proverbs 12:17; Proverbs 12:17, second clause) might here be made antithetic to “joy,” because the necessary effect of deceit is sorrow and trouble. Therefore this noun מִרְמָה is not to be transformed to מְרֹרָה bitterness (Houbigant), nor to be interpreted by “self-deception,” or by “joy in evil” (Schadenfreude) with Umbreit.—But to those who give wholesome counsel is joy.—The common rendering (as also that of Umbreit, Elster, etc.), is “who counsel peace;” comp. the old reading of the LXX, οἱ βουλόμενοι εἰρήνην, and the εἰρηνοποιοί of Matthew 5:9. But שָׁלוֹם is here to be taken in the general sense of “welfare, that which is salutary,” as, for example, in Psalms 34:14; Psalms 37:37. The special signification “peace” would not correspond with the “evil” of the first clause, which is nowhere equivalent to strife, division (not in Judges 9:23, as Umbreit thinks).. The “joy” of the well-meaning counsellor is furthermore probably to be conceived of as one to be found in the heart, the inward cheerfulness and happy contentment of a good conscience (as Hitzig rightly maintains against Bertheau and others).

Proverbs 12:21. No evil befalleth the righteous.—For this verb (Pual of אָנָה) comp. Psalms 91:10; Exodus 21:13. אָוֶן here signifies not “sin,” but “evil, misfortune, calamity,” like the parallel term in the second clause, or the רָעָה in the 91st Psalm cited above.—With respect to the sentiment, which naturally should be regarded as a relative truth, not as unconditionally illustrated in every experience, comp. Proverbs 10:3; Proverbs 11:23; Proverbs 12:2-3, etc.—With Proverbs 12:22 compare Proverbs 11:20. It is unnecessary to alter the plural עֹשֵׂי into the singular עֹשֶׂה (with the LXX, many MSS., Hitzig, etc.).

4.Proverbs 12:23-28. Six proverbs which relate to the contrast between the wise and the foolish, the diligent and the slothful.—With reference to the first clause of Proverbs 12:23 compare Proverbs 10:14; Proverbs 10:17; with the second clause, Proverbs 13:16; Proverbs 15:2.

Proverbs 12:24. The hand of the diligent will rule; but the slothful will be obliged to serve.—With the first clause compare Proverbs 10:4; with the second, Proverbs 11:29.—רְמִיָה, “slothful,” is doubtless an adjective belonging to the noun יַד (hand), and not an abstract substantive “sloth,” standing here for the concrete, “the sluggard,” as J. D. Michaelis, Döderlein, Bertheau and Elster suggest.—“Will be obliged to serve,” literally, “will be for tribute, for service,” i.e., will be forced to labor as one owing tribute.

Proverbs 12:25. If trouble be in the heart of man it boweth it down.—The suffix attached to the verb seems like that connected with the parallel verb, which, moreover, rhymes with this, to refer to the noun “heart,” and this as a synonym with נֶפֶשׁ “soul,” has here the force of a feminine. [Böttcher, § 877, e, cites this among the examples of the use of the fem, singular as a neuter with reference to objects named before but conceived of as neuter. See also Green, § 197, b—A.] In this connection it is indeed remarkable that דְּאָגָה (trouble), also contrary to its natural gender, appears here construed as a masculine. Hence the varying views of many recent expositors, e.g., that of Umbreit and Elster; “if trouble be in a man’s heart, let him repress it (the sorrow);” or that of Hitzig, who refers the suffixes of both these verbs to the noun “hand” of the verse preceding, and accordingly renders (at the same time in a peculiar way reproducing the rhyme):

“Is sorrow in the man’s heart, he bends it (i.e., the hand, down).

But if gladness, he extends it.”
[Hitzig’s rhyme is made with the verbs senket and schwenket, which are rather violent equivalents to the Hebrew terms, but are perhaps fairly matched by bends and extends, or abases and raises.—A.] In favor of the rendering which we prefer are the old versions, and among recent expositors Rosenmueller, Dathe, Döderlein, Ewald, Bertheau.

Proverbs 12:26. The righteous guideth his friend aright.—The verb יָתֵר, Hiphil of תָּרַר (which is equivalent to תּוּר), means “to set right, to guide to the right way, ὁδηγεῖν;” מֵרֵעַ is then equivalent to רֵעַ, friend, companion, as in Genesis 26:26; Judges 14:20; Judges 15:6. [So Gesen., Röd., Fuerst, Ewald, Bertheau, K., S., M. and W.]—Others, especially Luther, M. Geier, etc., following the Chaldee version, regard יתָרֵ as an adjective followed by the object of comparison: “better than his friend is (or fares) the righteous man.” [So the E. V., which is followed by Noyes]. Others still, like Dathe, J. D. Michaelis, Ziegler and Hitzig (the latter changing the verb to יָתֻר), read מִרְעֵהוּ, “his pasture,” and so reach the meaning “the righteous looketh after his pasture,” i.e., his path in life. It seems, however, altogether needless to depart from the above explanation, which is grammatically admissible, and gives a meaning which agrees well with that of the second clause.—But the way of the wicked leadeth them astray; them, i.e., the wicked. The construction is the same as in Proverbs 11:6, and probably also Proverbs 12:6.

Proverbs 12:27. The slothful catcheth not his prey.—“The slothful,” properly here again an adjective, “idle” hand, expresses the idea of sloth, and then, as an abstract for the concrete, stands for “the sluggard, the slothful.” חָרַךְ then, an ἁπαξ λεγόμενον in the Old Testament, is explained by the Rabbins, following the Aramean (Daniel 3:27), by “to singe, to roast;” therefore Bertheau, e.g., still translates “the slothful roasteth not his prey,” and then supplies the idea, “because he is too lazy to catch it.” [M. adopts this explanation, and S. doubtfully.] Others, more simply, and in conformity with the old versions, render “the idle man catcheth not his game” [so K., H., and N.], for which signification of hunting, catching, seizing, Hitzig cites lexical analogies from the Arabic. [Fuerst, criticising this interpretation, and defending the other, urges 1) that not to catch game is no sure sign of laziness, and 2) “his prey” must be already in hand—A.]—But a precious treasure to a man is diligence.—To reach this meaning it is necessary either to take חָרוּץ exceptionally in the abstract sense of diligence, or with C. B. Michaelis and Hitzig to read as an infinitive חָרוֹץ, “to bestir one’s self, to show one’s self diligent.”—Others, like Köhler, Umbreit, Elster, etc., resort to a partial transposition of the words, yielding the meaning “but precious treasure belongeth to the diligent man”—an alteration which is favored in advance by the Syriac version, and to some extent also by the LXX.

Proverbs 12:28. But a devious way (leadeth) to death.—This is doubtless the interpretation to be given with Hitzig to this clause; for in Judges 5:6; Isaiah 58:12, נְתִיבָה in fact signifies (in contrast with אֹרַח) a crooked winding by-path, and the modification of אַל to אֶל seems the more justifiable in proportion as the combination on which the ordinary rendering rests is otherwise unknown (אַל־מָותֶ as equivalent to לֹא־מָוֶר); “and the way of its path is not-death” (which is to be understood as “immortality,” Ewald, Umbreit, Elster [K., E. V., N., S., M.], etc.). Furthermore, the form of expression (דֶּרֶךְ before נְתיבָה) indicates plainly that to the second of the terms employed not its ordinary sense, but a quite peculiar signification, a quasi adjective import is to be given. [Hodgson and Holden express a decided preference for this view].—With the general sentiment of the verse compare Proverbs 10:2; Proverbs 11:19.


The contrasts between diligence and indolence, wisdom and folly, which present themselves as the strongest characteristics of the second and fourth of the groups of verses found in this chapter, lead us to refer the proverbs of these groups mainly to private or domestic life,—while the predominating reference of the third main group (Proverbs 12:12-22) to sins of the tongue or lips, leads us to regard social or civil life as the special department hero chiefly contemplated. Still this classification is after all only a general one, and proverbs of a more general moral tendency and bearing, like those contained in the introductory group (Proverbs 12:1-3) are interspersed through each, of the three large groups (e.g. in Proverbs 12:5-6; Proverbs 12:12; Proverbs 12:21; Proverbs 12:26; Proverbs 12:28): these therefore show the impossibility of carrying through a division of the contents of the chapter according to definite and clearly distinct categories.

Moral truths to which an emphatic prominence is given are found in the very first verse, on which Umbreit pertinently remarks, “The thought seems weak, and to a spirit practised in reflection hardly worth recording, yet on its truth rests the possibility of a spiritual progress in the human race, its development to a higher humanity; one might even say, the very conditions of history lie in that proverb.” Again we find them in Proverbs 12:10, a proverb which sets forth that tender care for animals as man’s fellow-creatures, which impresses itself on so many other passages of the Old Testament, e.g. Exodus 20:11; Exodus 22:29-30; Leviticus 22:27; Deuteronomy 22:6 sq.; Proverbs 25:4; Psalms 36:6; Psalms 104:27; Psalms 145:15 sq.; Psalms 147:9; Job 38:39 sq.; Job 39:5 sq.; Jonah 4:11, etc.1

We find like important truths in Proverbs 12:13, as also in general in all the proverbs that relate to the right use of the lips and tongue (compare besides Proverbs 12:14; Proverbs 12:16-19; Proverbs 12:22; Proverbs 12:25); so also in the commendation of a willingness to receive good counsel, Proverbs 12:15, with which we may appropriately compare Theognis, Gnom., V., 221–225 (see the passage in Umbreit, p. 158);—and again in the admonition to a wise self-command and presence of mind under experience of injury, Proverbs 12:16, with which should be compared admonitions of the New Testament against persistent anger and heat of passion, such as Romans 12:19; Ephesians 4:26; Ephesians 4:31; James 1:19-20, etc.—It has already been made evident that the concluding verse of the chapter (Proverbs 12:28; Proverbs 12:2 d clause) unlike chapter Proverbs 11:7, probably contains no hint of a hope of immortality.


Homily on the entire chapter. On the true wisdom of the children of God, as it ought to appear 1) in the home, under the forms of good discipline, diligence and contentment; 2) in the state or in the intercourse of citizens, under the forms of truthfulness, justice, and unfeigned benevolence (Proverbs 12:12-22); 3) in the Church or in the religious life, as a progressive knowledge of God, a diligent devotion to prayer and striving after eternal life (Proverbs 12:23-28).—Comp. Stöcker:—On true discipline: 1) its general utility (Proverbs 12:1-8); 2) the blessing on those who receive discipline, and the curse on those who hate and despise it (Proverbs 12:9-16); 3) comprehensive repetition of what has been taught concerning the salutariness of discipline (Proverbs 12:17-28).—Starke:—On the injurious nature of ungodliness and the utility of piety; 1) in general (Proverbs 12:1-3); 2) in particular, a) in the marriage relation (Proverbs 12:4); b) in common life (Proverbs 12:5-8); c) in the care of cattle and in agriculture (9–11); d) in the use of the tongue (12–23; c) in attention to one’s calling (24–28).—Calwer Handbuch:—The heart, the action and the speech of the fool and the wise man.—or, of the life that is to be found in the way of righteousness, and the ruin that is to be found in the way of ungodliness.

Proverbs 12:1-3. Geier:—No one is so perfect that he might not sometimes fail, and consequently need a chastisement not only on the part of God, but also on the part of men.—(On Proverbs 12:3): He who by faith and love is rooted in God (Ephesians 3:17) will not possibly ever be rooted up by anything; Psalms 73:25; John 10:28.—Starke:—It is better to be with true sympathy chastised by a just man, than to be deceitfully praised.—Berleburg Bible:—He who suffers himself to be guided comes constantly nearer to wisdom, i.e. to Christ, and for such a one His fellowship with all its blessedness stands open.—Von Gerlach (on Proverbs 12:1):—All that raises man above the brute is secured to him by training, by the wholesome discipline of his parents and teachers.—(On Proverbs 12:3): The ungodly has no ground in which he is rooted, no stability in assaults from without, while the righteous man is rooted in the eternal nature of the Creator Himself. Hence the righteous man is a tree by a river’s side, a house on a rock,—the ungodly, however, is a fleeting storm-cloud, a tree in a dry land, a house built on the sand, and even chaff that the wind driveth away, Psalms 1:3 sq.; Isaiah 44:4, etc.—[Arnot (on Proverbs 12:1):—The fool casts away the precious because it is unpalatable, and the wise man accepts the unpalatable because it is precious. Nature hates reproof; let grace take the bitter potion and thrust it down nature’s throat, for the sake of its healing power.—A. Fuller (on Proverbs 12:1):—He, and he only, that loves the means loves the end. The means of knowledge are “instruction” in what is right, and “reproof” for what is wrong. He who is an enemy to either of these means is an enemy to the end.—Bridges (on Proverbs 12:3):—Firm and unshaken is the condition of the righteous. Their leaves may wither in the blast. Their branches may tremble in the fury of the tempest, But their root—the true principle of life—shall not be moved].

Proverbs 12:4-11. Geier (on Proverbs 12:4):—By vicious conduct a woman destroys her husband as it were with subtle poison, but even then harms herself the most.—Zeltner (on Proverbs 12:4):—He who will enter into the marriage relation should begin with God, with hearty prayer, sound reflection, and devout purposes, lest he be compelled afterward bitterly to bewail his folly, Tob 8:4 sq.—(On Proverbs 12:9): An honorable life in narrow circumstances is much better and more peaceful, and besides not subject to so many temptations, as when one lives in ever so high a position in the view of the world. To make a great figure and to aim at being great is the ruin of many a man, Tob 4:14; Sir 3:19; Sir 3:30.—Würtemberg Bible (on Proverbs 12:10):—The brute has no one that can do him good but man; therefore treat it kindly, with reason and moderation.—[Trapp (on Proverbs 12:5):—If good thoughts look into a wicked heart, they stay not there, as those that like not their lodging.—(On Proverbs 12:7): There is a council in heaven will dash the mould of all contrary counsels upon earth.—(On Proverbs 12:11): Sin brought in sweat (Genesis 3:19), and now not to sweat increaseth sin.—Lord Bacon (on Proverbs 12:10):—The tender mercies of the wicked are when base and guilty men are spared that should be stricken with the sword of justice. Pity of this sort is more cruel than cruelty itself. For cruelty is exercised upon individuals, but this pity, by granting impunity, arms and sends forth against innocent men the whole army of evil-doers.—Chalmers (on Proverbs 12:10):—The lesson is not the circulation of benevolence within the limits of one species. It is the transmission of it from one species to another. The first is but the charity of a world. The second is the charity of a universe].

Proverbs 12:12-22. Melanchthon:—In everything are we exhorted to good, and to striving after truth, in the knowledge of God, in science and arts, in all honorable occupations and compacts; and because truthfulness belongs to the most glorious and eminent virtues, therefore the vice opposed to it is condemned in strong language, and pronounced (Proverbs 12:22) an offence and abomination in the sight of God.—Osiander:—We use the gift of speech rightly when we employ it to God’s glory and to our neighbor’s benefit.—Zeltner:—As one has here used his tongue, whether for good or evil, he will hereafter be recompensed. Truth is a daughter of righteousness; apply thyself diligently to this, and thou hast the true witness in thyself that thou art of the truth and a child of God (1 John 3:18-19). Fidelity and veracity have indeed in the world, whose watchword is only hatred, a poor reward; but so much the more precious are they in the sight of God (Psalms 15:1-2).—[Arnot (on Proverbs 12:13): When a man is not true, the great labor of his life must be to make himself appear true; but. if a man be true, he need not concern himself about appearances.—Trapp (on Proverbs 12:20):—Such counsellors shall have peace for peace: peace of conscience for peace of country].—On Proverbs 12:20, Tischer (in Zimmerman’s “Sonntagsfeier,” 1835, No. 41):—Every one can become acquainted with himself from his social intercourse.—[South (on Proverbs 12:22):—A lie is a tiling absolutely and intrinsically evil: it is an act of injustice, and a violation of our neighbor’s right. The vileness of its nature is equalled by the malignity of its effects; it first brought sin into the world, and is since the cause of all those miseries and calamities that disturb it; it tends utterly to dissolve and overthrow society, which is the greatest temporal blessing and support of mankind; it has a strange and peculiar efficacy, above all other sins, to indispose the heart to religion. It is as dreadful in its punishments as it has been pernicious in its effects].

Proverbs 12:23-28. Hasius:—The ordinary modes of acquisition are always the safest and best. Him who loves crooked ways and devices we never find prospering; but those who walk in ways of innocence and justice, cannot become unsuccessful.—Osiander:—Follow thy calling in the fear of God and with diligence, and thy possessions will be with God’s blessing richly multiplied.—Starke:—He who squanders time, shuns toil and buries his pound in a napkin, is unworthy to dwell on earth (Luke 19:20; Luke 19:24).—Wohlfarth (on Proverbs 12:25):—The friendly word. Where we can help by actual deeds, such real help is by all means better than mere consolation in words. If however the means for such aid are wanting to us, if the evil is of such a sort that no human help whatever is possible, then it is a double duty to cheer the depressed with friendly words; yes, consolation is then often in itself help because it leads to God, the true helper in all need!—[Trapp (on Proverbs 12:27):—Jabal and Jubal, diligence and complacence, good husbandry and well contenting sufficiency, dwell usually together.—Chalmers (on Proverbs 12:28):—The deeds of the hand have a reflex influence on the state of the heart. There is life in spiritual-mindedness; and it serves to aliment this life to walk in the way of obedience].


[1]Comp. Zöckler, Theologia Naturalis, Entwurf einer systematischen Naturphilosophie, etc., I., pp. 539 sq.

Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Proverbs 12". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/proverbs-12.html. 1857-84.
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