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Bible Commentaries
Proverbs 15

Old & New Testament Restoration CommentaryRestoration Commentary

Verse 1

Pro 15:1

Proverbs 15:1

"A soft answer turneth away wrath; But a grievous word stirreth up anger."

A truism like this needs no comment. Quiet, inoffensive speech has been effective in preventing many a violent encounter.

Proverbs 15:1 The setting of the verse: someone has spoken angrily to us. What kind of answer shall we give? We can return a “soft” (gentle) answer, which will tone down the other’s wrath, or we can answer in the same tone in which he spoke to us, and full-fledged trouble flares. “Pulpit Commentary: “Two things are here observed: an answer should be given—the injured person should not wrap himself in sullen silence; and that answer should be gentle and conciliatory.” A medieval rhyme: “Anger, however great, is checked by answer sweet.” This instruction is necessary for maintaining good human relations. Even strange animals are often calmed by a gentle voice. Giving a “soft” answer is part of obeying Romans 12:18. An instance of the “soft” answer working (1 Samuel 25:23-33). Instances of “grievous” words stirring up strife (Judges 8:1-3; Proverbs 25:15; 1 Samuel 25:10-13; 1 Kings 12:13-16).

Verses 1-33

Pro 15:1-33

Proverbs Contrasting the Upright and the Wicked

(Proverbs 15:1-33)

"A soft answer turns away wrath; But a grievous word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise utters knowledge aright; But the mouth of fools pours out folly" (Proverbs 15:1-2). The tongue must be used wisely. The foolish are quick to blow their top in anger against others (see Proverbs 14:17; Proverbs 14:29-30). Those who are wise will have the power of calming a man of wrath by giving a "soft answer." This type of answer will not fuel the flame of the fools anger but rather sooth it. Those who return anger for anger only stir up more anger. The tongue of the wise will deliver knowledge to others but the tongue of the fool "pours out folly" (i.e., stupidity and ignorance).

"The eyes of Jehovah are in every place, Keeping watch upon the evil and the good" (Proverbs 15:3). There is nothing that escapes the all seeing eyes of Jehovah God (see Jeremiah 23:23-24). The omniscient Lord knows not only the thoughts but the intents of man’s heart (Hebrews 4:12).

"A gentle tongue is a tree of life; But perverseness therein is a breaking of the spirit" (Proverbs 15:4). The use of one’s tongue is very important in the identity of an individual. God’s people are to exercise a spirit of wisdom (prudence and discretion) when using their tongues. The soft tongue turns away an angry man’s wrath (see Proverbs 15:1-2 above). Now Solomon adds that a gently tongue is a tree of life in that it edifies its hearers rather than a perverse tongue that breaks the spirit of others. The apostle Paul wrote, "Let no corrupt speech proceed out of your mouth, but such as is good for edifying as the need may be, that it may give grace to them that hear" (Ephesians 4:29).

A fool despises his father’s correction; But he that regards reproof gets prudence" (Proverbs 15:5). The fool’s identity has been clearly depicted in the pages of Proverbs:

1. Due corporal punishment because of his folly (Proverbs 7:22).

2. Will not receive commandments or instruction (Proverbs 10:8) and is thereby brutish (Proverbs 12:1).

3. Speaks words of slander about others (Proverbs 10:18).

4. He is entertained by participating in acts of wickedness (Proverbs 10:23).

5. Reasons that his decisions in life are right rather than measuring himself by God’s standard (Proverbs 12:15).

6. Has no shame while blurting out his stupidity and ignorance (Proverbs 13:6).

7. Acts disrespectfully toward God’s laws and his fellow man (Proverbs 14:16).

8. A foolish woman tears down her own house with acts of folly (Proverbs 14:1).

Now we find that the fool, "despises his father’s correction." This person hates to be corrected even by his own father. He is bent on doing what he wants to do and refuses to change his behavior because he believes that he is ok. His conscience is based upon his own reason rather than the word of God and thereby the sting of guilt is taken away. The prudent man (man with foresight); however, gives an interested ear to correction so that he may better himself.

"In the house of the righteous is much treasure; But in the revenues of the wicked is trouble" (Proverbs 15:6). The "righteous" are those who give regard to God’s divine standard. They are not slothful in this life and thereby work hard and obtain treasures. The wicked, on the other hand, receive treasures by cheating and stealing and thereby receive nothing but trouble in life.

"The lips of the wise disperse knowledge; But the heart of the foolish doeth not so" (Proverbs 15:7). This verse is so similar to Proverbs 15:2 that the reader should look to those comments.

"The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to Jehovah; But the prayer of the upright is his delight. The way of the wicked is an abomination to Jehovah; But he loveth him that followeth after righteousness" (Proverbs 15:8-9). There is nothing about the wicked man’s life that the Lord loves, respects, or cherishes. The wicked doesn’t do much of anything that is right as defined by the standard of truth. Nothing is different when it comes to his worship. The wicked man will often continue his worship to Jehovah God believing all things are well; however, the Lord hates even the prayers of such a man (see Isaiah 1:11 ff; Amos 5:21-23 etc.). God’s love, grace, and mercy belongs to the man who seeks out righteousness in this life.

"There is grievous correction for him that forsakes the way; And he that hates reproof shall die. Sheol and Abaddon are before Jehovah: How much more then the hearts of the children of men! A scoffer loveth not to be reproved; He will not go unto the wise" (Proverbs 15:10-12). It is the fool that hates correction (Proverbs 15:5) and so he is brutish (Proverbs 12:1). Such a one may have had truth at one time but now he has "forsaken the way." When one forsakes "the way" he abandons or deserts God’s standards (see Jeremiah 10:23). Maybe he forsook the way because he thought he had a better way (Proverbs 12:15) or maybe he grew weary of the established way. Whatever the reason for one to forsake the way of righteousness those who do so have nothing but "grievous correction" to look forward to.

Those who continue to forsake the way of righteousness shall eventually die in their sins. God knows all such events in man’s life and thereby has the power to cast men into "Sheol or Abaddon." The word "Abaddon" is found only two other times in the entire Bible (i.e., Revelation 9:11 and Job 28:22). The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia states of the Hebrew word "Abaddon" that is “A name found only in Revelation 9:11, as a translation of the Hebrew name ‘Abaddon,’ designating an angel or prince of the lower world. In the OT Abaddon and the accompanying terms Death and Sheol are personified (as in Job 28:22) and represented as living beings who speak and act (cf. Revelation 6:8)” (ISBE v. 1, pp. 189). The Hebrew and Greek names mean “destruction” and “destroyer.” Two descriptive words of Satan and his work (see John 8:44). The obvious meaning is thereby the eternal unseen abode of the wicked. This unseen world is before the eyes of Jehovah and He has control over who is cast there and who is not. It is none other than hell where the worm dies not, where the unquenchable fire of anguish burns, and all wicked souls shall spend their eternity (Mark 9:44-48).

"A glad heart makes a cheerful countenance; But by sorrow of heart the spirit is broken" (Proverbs 15:13). What makes a man’s heart glad and experiencing the consequential "cheerful countenance?" A wise son makes the heart glad (see Proverbs 10:1; Proverbs 15:20). Money (Proverbs 10:15 compared to Ecclesiastes 10:19). Hope (Proverbs 10:28). A timely word spoken by a caring friend (Proverbs 12:25). Good news can also cheer us (see Proverbs 15:30). There are things that man cannot control that brings sorrow to life. There are also things that man can control that when practiced bring trouble, sorrow, and a broken spirit. The thought seems to be that there is enough sorrows in life as it is without me making foolish decisions that would bring more upon me in life.

"The heart of him that hath understanding seeks knowledge; But the mouth of fools feeds on folly" (Proverbs 15:14). The understanding man is the wise man (see Proverbs 1:2). Here is a man who seeks after wisdom as though it were the greatest treasures the earth knows (Proverbs 2:1-5; Proverbs 8:11). Knowledge, understanding, and wisdom is the principle thing in this man’s life (Proverbs 4:7) and the "apple of thine eye" (Proverbs 7:2). This person is not satisfied with tidbits of information but searches daily for the knowledge of Jehovah God. The fool; however, has no such quest in life. He feeds on stupidity and foolishness. He scoffs at wisdom and makes fun of the sanctified life.

"All the days of the afflicted are evil; But he that is of a cheerful heart hath a continual feast. Better is little, with the fear of Jehovah, Than great treasure and trouble therewith. Better is a dinner of herbs, where love is, Than a stalled ox and hatred therewith" (Proverbs 15:15-17). Being wise and exercising a diligent work ethic is not a guarantee of wealth. There are other factors to consider. It may be that one works extremely hard to care for a very large family or an ailing parent. The wise will find joy and cheer in whatever state they find themselves in because they have faith and hope of an eternal life with God. The apostle Paul wrote, "I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therein to be content" (Philippians 4:11). Solomon observes that it is truly better to have hardly anything of this life but to be happy than it is to be miserable with much. We would much rather experience love than hatred and little rather than much with trouble.

"A wrathful man stirs up contention; But he that is slow to anger appeases strife" (Proverbs 15:18). Anger and man’s wrath does nothing but stir up contention (disagreements and conflicts) with others (Proverbs 15:1; Proverbs 15:4). Again, the man or woman who is "slow to anger" will speak words that sooth the hot wrath of others (see Proverbs 14:29; Proverbs 15:1). The obvious issue is that it is more acceptable to God that one not argue or fuel the fire of anger over issues and events that have nothing to do with our salvation. People get angry in traffic, angry in grocery lines, angry over sporting events, and angry because someone doesn’t share their opinions.

"The way of the sluggard is as a hedge of thorns; But the path of the upright is made a highway" (Proverbs 15:19). A major theme in the book of Proverbs is the fact that when men make foolish decisions they generally bring trouble to themselves and their families. Recall that Solomon said, "Good understanding gives favor; but the way of the transgressor is hard" (Proverbs 13:15). Why would the way of the "sluggard" be as a "hedge of thorns?" Making your way through thorns is no fun at all. I experienced this first hand while working on a study of how fusiform rust affects southern pines. To get to our research plots around east Texas we often had to wade through thick black berry patches (rubus). It was a hard rout that left us bloody from the thorns. Here again is the idea of the sluggard. The sluggard will not listen to instruction, will not work hard to pay his bills and provide food for his family and the work he does often is laced with cheating. Such a life is that of trouble and ignorance. Here is the man or woman who refuses to graduate from the university of hard knocks. They are life long students.

"A wise son maketh a glad father; But a foolish man despises his mother" (Proverbs 15:20). This exact statement was made at Proverbs 10:1. The commandment of God is that children would hear and obey their parents (see Proverbs 1:8-9; Proverbs 6:20-21). While the parents have the responsibility of instructing their children the children have the responsibility of giving heed to the instruction. The families welfare, health, and spiritual joy is dependant upon the child’s reception of instruction. A rebellious child makes a home miserable.

"Folly is joy to him that is void of wisdom; But a man of understanding makes straight his going" (Proverbs 15:21). The wise man finds joy in producing a wise son, receiving wages for his hard labor, and in their hope of eternal life with the Lord (see notes at Proverbs 15:13). The fool is "void of wisdom" and thereby actually finds "joy" in stupid and ignorant things (it is a sport to him - Proverbs 10:23). The fool does not want to be instructed in the right and wise ways. He enjoys the path of unrighteousness.

"Where there is no counsel, purposes are disappointed; But in the multitude of counselors they are established" (Proverbs 15:22). To give "counsel" is to give instruction, guidance, and direction to others. If there is no guidance or direction given then one’s objectives are not met and when objectives or goals are not met there is nothing but disappointment.rere are many counselors much instruction, guidance, and direction is received. The wise will receive said instructions and thereby achieve their goals. Consider the joy that is taken by parents who have a wise son (Proverbs 15:20). The son listens to instruction and gains wisdom because he was "counseled" to do so. If a child seeks after the things of this world and foolishness then it stands to reason that he lacked counsel as a child. Does that make the young man, who is a fool due to a lack of parental counsel, any less subject to God’s divine judgment? No!

"A man hath joy in the answer of his mouth; And a word in due season, how good is it!" (Proverbs 15:23). Recall that we had noted that:

1. The words of the wise are likened unto a fountain of life (Proverbs 10:11 ).

2. The words of the wise cause its hearers to be spiritually healthy (Proverbs 12:18).

3. Such wise words delivers man from wickedness by instructing others to steer clear of ungodliness (Proverbs 12:6).

4. Wise and timely words will cheer up the discouraged (Proverbs 12:25).

Once again, we see that a wise mouth that considers others may speak timely words (in due season) and bring joy to others people’s lives.

"To the wise the way of life goes upward, That he may depart from Sheol beneath" (Proverbs 15:24). The "way of life" is the way of God’s divine standard (Jeremiah 10:23). The way of righteousness and justice leads one away from the tormenting place of Sheol.

"Jehovah will root up the house of the proud; But he will establish the border of the widow" (Proverbs 15:25). Those whose hearts are filled with pride have actually set themselves against Jehovah (see Proverbs 6:16-17). Pride is equated to evil at Proverbs 8:13 and shame at Proverbs 11:2. Those who conduct themselves in pride (arrogance) will not go unpunished. The Lord will root up their houses yet he will establish the house of the lowly widow.

"Evil devices are an abomination to Jehovah; But pleasant words are pure" (Proverbs 15:26). Evil devices (plans or strategies) come in the form of faulty balances and lying words. Those who practice such things are an "abomination to Jehovah." The plans or strategies of the upright do not scheme to rob or cheat people but rather they are pure and desire the betterment of their fellow man.

"He that is greedy of gain troubles his own house; But he that hates bribes shall live" (Proverbs 15:27). Such a one troubles his own house because he is willing to do whatever it takes to obtain riches. He will rob, cheat, swindle, and gamble. Such events potentially brings the wrath of the cheated upon himself and his family (see Proverbs 1:19; Proverbs 13:4). Such a man can be bribed to do unlawful things that have the potential to bring trouble to his home. Furthermore, such a greedy man may take his earned money and rather than paying bills and buying food for his family he gambles it away in hopes of hitting it big. The wise; however, will work hard for his money and do the things that God commands and thereby stay out of trouble with the wicked.

"The heart of the righteous studies to answer; But the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things" (Proverbs 15:28). The righteous will think out their words to other rather that rashly blurting out un-thoughtful words. The righteous seeks to better and edify his audience. The apostle Peter said, "Sanctify in your hearts Christ as Lord: being ready always to give answer to every man that asks you a reason concerning the hope that is in you, yet with meekness and fear:" (1 Peter 3:15). Consider the right uses of the mouth from Proverbs 15 :

1. A soft (Proverbs 15:1) and gentle (Proverbs 15:4) word appeases the wrath of the foolish (Proverbs 15:18).

2. Words of encouragement help rather than discourage (Proverbs 15:23).

3. The righteous use pure words (Proverbs 15:26).

The wicked do not concern themselves with such thoughts. That which pours out of the mouth of the wicked are "evil things." The fool will thoughtlessly blurt out his folly.

"Jehovah is far from the wicked; But he hears the prayer of the righteous" (Proverbs 15:29). One solid fact that the scriptures bear out is that sin separates man from God (see Isaiah 59:1-2). God will not so much as give ear to the prayers of the wicked (see Proverbs 1:28).

"The light of the eyes rejoices the heart; And good tidings make the bones fat" (Proverbs 15:30). When one’s eyes are lit up with joy there is a happiness due to some good news or confidence in one’s walk in life (see comments at Proverbs 15:13; Proverbs 15:20). Such day’s in one’s life "makes the bones fat" (i.e., blessed and happy). This is a complete contrast to the sorrow and trouble that the wicked face in life. Truly it is a good life being a Christians.

"The ear that hearkens to the reproof of life Shall abide among the wise. He that refuses correction despises his own soul; But he that hearkens to reproof gets understanding" (Proverbs 15:31-32). Jonah made a statement from the belly of the great fish that seems to be a commentary on this verse. The prophet of God said, "They that regard lying vanities forsake their own mercy" (Jonah 2:8). Here, Solomon states that it is he who rejects correction in life that "despises his own soul." The soul of man shall live for ever and ever. Man is given one short life to life. To take this short life and cast away instruction and correction that will see man to everlasting peace and joy as opposed to everlasting anguish in flaming fire is indeed a despising of the soul and a forsaking one’s own mercy that could be obtained. There are those in this world who will listen to instruction and correction and those who will not. Those who are interested and those who are not. Those who see instruction as the principle thing and apple of their eye and those who do not. Esau was one who rejected spirituality for the things of this life. Why do some children, young people, and adults reject instruction and others receive?

"The fear of Jehovah is the instruction of wisdom; And before honor goes humility" (Proverbs 15:33). Chapter 15 closes with another identifying factor of "the fear of Jehovah." Wisdom instructs man to fear Jehovah. Fearing Jehovah has clearly been identified, summarily, as obedience. When one obeys the will of another there is humility. Where there is subjection and humility then comes honor. Honor and glory cannot be obtained until one first learn humility, instruction, and obedience.

Verse 2

Pro 15:2

Proverbs 15:2

"The tongue of the wise uttereth knowledge aright; But the mouth of fools poureth out folly."

Another truism! The wise speak wise things, the fool speaks foolishness!

Proverbs 15:2. A “wise” person has the knowledge to utter; he also knows when, where, and how to speak; and he studies or thinks before he speaks (Proverbs 15:28). Jesus’ speech was always superior, beginning with Luke 2:46-47. But fools pour out folly (Proverbs 12:23; Proverbs 13:16). A fool’s voice is known by its words (Ecclesiastes 5:3).

Verse 3

Pro 15:3

Proverbs 15:3

"The eyes of Jehovah are in every place, Keeping watch over the evil and the good."

The omniscience and ubiquitousness of God are stated here. The 139th Psalm in its entirety is devoted to an elaboration of this proverb. See our comments there.

Proverbs 15:3. Both the omnipresence and the omniscience of God are implied in this statement: He is everywhere, and He knows everything (Psalms 139:1-12; Proverbs 5:21; Jeremiah 16:17; Hebrews 4:13). Such knowledge is necessary if God is to be our judge (Jeremiah 32:19). Since He beholds both the evil and the good, God is not human, for human beings tend to see only the evil of their enemies and critics and to by-pass the evil in their friends and close relatives. This verse backs up our song, “You Cannot Hide from God.” Jonah (Jonah 1:3) tried it; so did Achan (Joshua 7:1; Joshua 7:11; Joshua 7:16-21); so did Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-9); so did many others.

Verse 4

Pro 15:4

Proverbs 15:4

"A gentle tongue is a tree of life; But perverseness therein is a breaking of the spirit."

"Kind words bring life, but cruel words crush your spirit.” "The tongue is a prolific tree, and it concerns the whole community that it should be a tree of life and not of death.”

Proverbs 15:4. A “tree of life” to everyone: to the one who has spoken and to those who have heard. The perverse tongue is a “breaking of the spirit” to all involved: the speaker himself is often hurt; so are those who have been spoken to. A kind tongue was a part of the virtuous woman (Proverbs 31:26).

Verse 5

Pro 15:5

Proverbs 15:5

"A fool despiseth his father’s correction; But he that regardeth reproof getteth prudence."

"A father’s instruction proceeds from love; and it is folly and ingratitude to despise it; but some children are such enemies of themselves that they break the spirits of their affectionate parents by spurning the admonitions needed for their own welfare.”

Proverbs 15:5. A fool is wrong twice: first, he disobeys, and then he will not accept correction—much like King Asa (2 Chronicles 16:7-10). Some will accept correction, and some won’t (Proverbs 10:1). Those who do are “wise” (Proverbs 10:1); those who don’t aren’t. See these passages (Proverbs 13:18; Proverbs 15:10; Proverbs 15:12; Proverbs 15:31-32).

Verse 6

Pro 15:6

Proverbs 15:6

"In the house of the righteous is much treasure; But in the revenues of the wicked is much trouble."

"In a good man’s house there is ample treasure, but revenues of bad men go to wreck." We prefer this rendition, because `ample’ signifies sufficiency rather than `riches.’ A little is often sufficient in the house of good people; and it is always preferable to great riches in a house of wickedness. See verses 16,17, which are parallel with this verse.

Proverbs 15:6. This was especially true of Israel’s and Judah’s kings. Those who were good gained cities and amassed wealth through the blessing of God, and those who were wicked often lost cities and had to pay off their enemies to keep from being destroyed.

Verse 7

Pro 15:7

Proverbs 15:7

"The lips of the wise disperse knowledge; But the heart of the foolish doth not so."

This is very similar to Proverbs 15:2. Toy wrote that, "It contrasts the wise man’s devotion to knowledge with the intellectual dullness of the opposite class." However, the concept of the `foolish’ in Proverbs (and the whole Bible) is not mere intellectual dullness, but wickedness. The rich `fool" of Luke 12:20 might very well have been a graduate of the state university; and the foolish virgins (Matthew 25:2 ff) might have included the valedictorian of the local high school!

Proverbs 15:7. Another contrast between the “wise” and “foolish”. The wise’s lips “disperse” (disseminate, give out) knowledge (Proverbs 10:21), but the foolish’s heart has no inclination to do so. These two groups live “poles apart”. They live in the same material world, yet they live in two different “worlds” while here.

Verse 8

Pro 15:8

Proverbs 15:8

"The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to Jehovah; But the prayer of the upright is his delight."

"God will not allow himself to be `bought off’ by gifts and sacrifices of the unrepentant.” As Kipling stated it, "Still stands thine ancient sacrifice, an humble and a contrite heart." Anything else is an abomination.

Proverbs 15:8. Sometimes the wicked sacrifice, pray, and keep up a “front” of religion, but it does them no good (Proverbs 21:27; Proverbs 28:9; Genesis 4:5; Isaiah 1:11; Jeremiah 6:20; Amos 5:22 : Mark 7:7; Luke 18:11-14). God is pleased to hear the prayers of the godly (1 Peter 2:12; John 9:31; 1 John 3:22).

Verse 9

Pro 15:9

Proverbs 15:9

"The way of the wicked is an abomination to Jehovah; But he loveth him that followeth after righteousness."

"This is parallel to Proverbs 15:8, with a substitution of ethical for religious (ceremonial) conditions.” We would substitute the word in parenthesis for `religious.’ Toy overlooked the fact that `ethical conditions’ make up the very heart of true religion.

Proverbs 15:9. This verse goes closely with Proverbs 15:8. Sinners often look down upon others who do not live as they live, go where they go, and indulge in what they indulge in. They seem to be very “sold” on themselves and their ways, even thinking it strange that others do not run with them to the same excess of riot and speaking evil of them (1 Peter 4:4); but their ways are abominable to God (this verse;. And Psalms 1:1 says, “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the wicked, Nor standeth in the way of sinners, Nor sitteth in the seat of the scoffers.” Righteousness is something to be followed (pursued). and we are to follow wherever it may lead (Proverbs 21:21; 1 Timothy 6:11). There are “paths of righteousness” (Psalms 23:3) where the Good Shepherd has led His sheep throughout the centuries of time.

Verse 10

Pro 15:10

Proverbs 15:10

"There is grievous correction for him that forsaketh the way; And he that hateth reproof shall die."

"One who abandons the right path will be sternly corrected, and he who resents rebuke will die.” Another translation is, "If a person begins to live wrong he will be punished, and the person that hates to be corrected will be destroyed.”

Proverbs 15:10. Those who are in the “way of the wicked” (Proverbs 15:9) are in for grievous correction, both by God and man (God’s chastening and man’s courts and personal dealings). And while such are famous for not regarding reproof, not listening, not amending their ways, they had better, for “he that hateth reproof shall die” (sometimes by execution, sometimes by God’s cutting him off, and by ultimately the second death). Other passages: Proverbs 15:5; Proverbs 15:12; Proverbs 15:32; Proverbs 5:12; Proverbs 10:17; Hebrews 12:11.

Verse 11

Pro 15:11

Proverbs 15:11

"Sheol and Abaddon are before Jehovah; How much more then the hearts of the children of men!"

This is parallel with Proverbs 15:3 and concerns the omniscience of God. (See comment there.) "The word Abaddon occurs six times in the Old Testament, and like the word Sheol, is a place name for the realm of the dead.”

Proverbs 15:11. “Sheol” is the Hebrew word for the place of departed spirits (the same as “Hades” in Greek). “Abaddon” is the Hebrew word for destruction (the same as “Apollyon” in Greek). Both forms of the latter are used in Revelation 9:11 “Sheol and Abaddon” are used together in Job 26:6 and Proverbs 27:20. The omniscience of God, then, extends to those who have perished (this verse; Psalms 139:8), and so does it also to the hearts of men (1 Samuel 16:7; 2 Chronicles 6:30; Psalms 7:9; Psalms 44:21; John 2:24-25; Acts 1:24; Acts 8:21).

Verse 12

Pro 15:12

Proverbs 15:12

"A scoffer loveth not to be reproved; He will not go unto the wise."

"A corrupt man loveth not one that reproveth him, nor will he go to the wise.” Note the implication here that a wise man will indeed reprove the wicked.

Proverbs 15:12. A scoffer is a proud, know-it-all person, self-willed, opinionated, and usually wrong. He will not go to the wise to ask or to learn, and he doesn’t like people coming to him with their corrections of him. Many deplore being reproved (1 Kings 22:8; Amos 5:10; John 3:19-20). For hating and despising reproof see also Proverbs 15:5; Proverbs 15:10; Proverbs 15:32 of this chapter.

Verse 13

Pro 15:13

Proverbs 15:13

"A glad heart maketh a cheerful countenance; But by sorrow of heart the spirit is broken."

"A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.” This proverb merely states that a man’s happiness or sorrow will show in his face. It was this fact that enabled Artaxerxes to read the face of Nehemiah and to send him to Jerusalem (Nehemiah 2:2). The same thing is true of innocence and guilt.

Proverbs 15:13. A “glad heart” (on the inside) makes a “cheerful countenance” (on the outside). The reverse is also true (a sad heart will show up in a sad countenance—Nehemiah 1:1-4; Nehemiah 2:1-2). “Pulpit Commentary”: “The face is the index of the condition of the mind.” “Septuagint” translates: “When the heart is glad, the face bloometh.” See also Proverbs 17:22; Proverbs 12:25.

Verse 14

Pro 15:14

Proverbs 15:14

"The heart of him that hath understanding seeketh knowledge; But the mouth of fools feedeth on folly."

The wise man is always diligent in the acquisition of more knowledge; but the fool (the wicked man) enjoys hearing and believing all kinds of nonsense. Of this class are those who read the papers for their astrological prognostications.

Proverbs 15:14. The person who has knowledge wants more, and he gets it. Solomon desired wisdom that he might rule God’s great people and follow his famous father upon the throne of Israel (1 Kings 3:5-9). Note the vastness of his growing wisdom and understanding (1 Kings 4:29-34). “Pulpit Commentary”: “The wise man...is always seeking to learn more...The fool is always gaping and devouring every silly, or slanderous, or wicked word that comes in his way, and in his turn utters and disseminates it.”

Verse 15

Pro 15:15

Proverbs 15:15

"All the days of the afflicted are evil; But he that is of a cheerful heart hath a continual feast."

This proverb stresses the fact that time passes slowly for the suffering or the distressed, and that time passes swiftly for those in the midst of joy. This writer attended an Armistice Day Celebration in 1932 at Lawton, Oklahoma. Totally disabled veterans of World War I were in attendance. The speaker began by saying; "It is now over fourteen years since the thundering canons in France were stilled"; and a quadruple amputee from his pitiful basket was heard to say, "Great gracious God, is that all"! "The days of the afflicted are indeed evil."

Proverbs 15:15. To the person suffering, no day seems physically good: they are all “evil” (like those referred to in Ecclesiastes 12:1). To the healthy and the happy every day is good (a “continual feast”). Oh, the great blessing of good health and favorable conditions that make one happy!

Verse 16

Pro 15:16

Proverbs 15:16

"Better is a little with the fear of Jehovah, Than great treasures and trouble therewith."

"The trouble mentioned in the second clause is a reference to the anxieties and perplexities attending wealth held by worldlings.” Deane agreed that the trouble here is, "The anxiety attending the pursuit and preservation of wealth.” Christ warned us that it is difficult indeed for a rich man to be saved (Matthew 19:23); and an apostle tells us that, "They that are minded to be rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and hurtful lusts, such as drown men in destruction and perdition" (1 Timothy 6:9). One may wonder why so many try to be rich.

Proverbs 15:16. Sometimes “treasure and trouble” go together—are twins (1 Timothy 6:9-10). It is really better and the part of wisdom to take a lesser-paying job with which God is pleased than to take a big-paying job with which He is not pleased (Mark 8:36). What is great or true gain? See 1 Timothy 6:6. Other verses with much of the same truth in them are Proverbs 15:17 of this chapter; Psalms 37:16; Proverbs 16:8; Proverbs 17:1.

Verse 17

Pro 15:17

Proverbs 15:17

"Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, Than a stalled ox and hatred therewith."

Who could miss the point here? "Better a dish of vegetables with love, than the best beef served with hatred.” A preacher said, "It’s better to have a hamburger at McDonalds with somone who loves you than to be entertained at the Waldorf by someone who hates you."

Proverbs 15:17. A “dinner of herbs” represents a meatless meal (a poor man’s meal); “stalled ox” represents a luxurious meal. Note the double contrast: “dinner of herbs” vs. “stalled ox” and “where love is” vs. “hatred”. People can have a good fare of food and love at the same time just the same as people can have hatred with their dinner of herbs. This verse does teach that love in the home is better than luxury in the home if there is to be only one and not both.

Verse 18

Pro 15:18

Proverbs 15:18

"A wrathful man stirreth up contention; But he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife."

"A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he that is slow to anger quiets contention.” One finds the same thought here that is one of the Beatitudes of Jesus, "Blessed are the peacemakers." (Matthew 5:9).

Proverbs 15:18. A wrathful man stirs up contention because he wants things stirred up. What a perverted outlook! But men who are slow to anger try to keep things calm. And they are doing what they should. “Hot heads” and “cold hearts” often go together. See also Proverbs 26:21; Proverbs 29:22. “Pulpit Commentary”: “It requires two to make a quarrel, and where one keeps his temper and will not be provoked, anger must subside.”

Verse 19

Pro 15:19

Proverbs 15:19

"The way of the sluggard is a hedge of thorns; But the path of the upright is made a highway."

There is an unusual interpretation of this proverb in this: "The path of the lazy man, (he says), is blocked with thorns, whereas to the upright his road is a highway.” We accept this interpretation as correct because of Proverbs 26:13.

Proverbs 15:19. Try to walk down an old road that has gotten grown over with thorn bushes. Progress is slow and difficult. Such is the way of the sluggard of lazy person (Proverbs 22:5). In contrast the path of the upright is clear and open (like a highway). Proverbs 4:18 also speaks of the path of the righteous.

Verse 20

Pro 15:20

Proverbs 15:20

"A wise son maketh a glad father; But a foolish man despiseth his mother."

It would make a better balance here if `despiseth’ is read `shameth’; and Deane assures us that the verb here may mean exactly that. Another rendition is, "A wise son makes his father happy. Only a fool despises his mother.”

Proverbs 15:20. Read Proverbs 10:1; Proverbs 29:3 also. Nothing makes a father happier than the good ways of his children (3 John 1:4). “Despising” one’s mother is just the opposite of the Fifth Commandment (Exodus 20:12). A child who is brought up to honor his parents will usually grow up and bring honor and gladness to them.

Verse 21

Pro 15:21

Proverbs 15:21

"Folly is joy to him that is void of wisdom; But a man of understanding maketh straight his going."

"This stresses the element of choice in the career of the fool. The playboy follows his fancy; the man of discernment is concerned to set a straight course for his life.” "To act the idiot is fun to the empty-headed, but the man of intelligence forges straight ahead.”

Proverbs 15:21. Compare the first statement with the first statement in Proverbs 10:23. Putting the two together, “folly” (or “wickedness”) is “joy” (or “sport”) to the fool. And so it is. Many live this way (consider Titus 3:3). They may live in the same world, but the wise person lives so differently from the fool who is void of wisdom. The wise man makes his going “straight” (see Ephesians 5:15 also).

Verse 22

Pro 15:22

Proverbs 15:22

"Where there is no counsel, purposes are disappointed; But in the multitude of counselors they are established."

"There is no religious content in this verse. Purely secular matters are here included in the description of the wise man. Everything that is properly and wisely done must be considered as God’s gift of wisdom.” All of these proverbs regarding counselors add up to the common saying, "That two heads are better than one."

Proverbs 15:22. A double contrast: “no counsel” vs. “multitude of counsellors” and “purposes are disappointed” vs. “they are established”. Compare Proverbs 11:14. “Counsel” in Proverbs’ day had to do mostly with war (Proverbs 20:18).

Verse 23

Pro 15:23

Proverbs 15:23

"A man hath joy in the answer of his mouth; And a word in due season, how good is it!"

One who would bless others in what he says should regard the timing of his remarks. Given at the right time, a brief word can change a life and save a soul from death. A good time for a word of love and encouragement is that when one has suffered bereavement, disappointment, or any other kind of extreme discouragement or loss. It was exactly such a word that came to this preacher at a crucial moment and which continued his ministry of the gospel.

Proverbs 15:23. A person does not have joy from just any answer of his mouth but by a right answer or a good answer or a timely answer. “The heart of the righteous studieth to answer” (Proverbs 15:28). “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer each one” (Colossians 4:6). “Being ready always to give answer to every man that asketh you a reason concerning the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15). “All that heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers” (Luke 2:47). “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in network of silver” (Proverbs 25:11).

Verse 24

Pro 15:24

Proverbs 15:24

"To the wise, the way of life goeth upward, That he may depart from Sheol beneath."

There are many of these proverbs that carry strong intimations of life beyond death, and this is another. Only those whom God redeems shall, in any real sense, depart from Sheol, "Whither all footsteps tend, whence none depart.”

Proverbs 15:24. The wise choose the way that leads to life rather than destruction (“Sheol”): “Enter ye in by the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many are they that enter in thereby. For narrow is the gate, and straitened the way, that leadeth unto life, and few are they that find it” (Matthew 7:13-14). Wisdom makes the decision now that will end right later: “If thy hand cause thee to stumble, cut it off: it is good for thee to enter into life maimed, rather than having thy two hands to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire” (Mark 9:43). Are you “pressing on the upward way”? Are you “gaining new heights every day”?

Verse 25

Pro 15:25

Proverbs 15:25

"Jehovah will root up the house of the proud; But he will establish the border of the widow."

"The house of the proud Jave rooteth out, and he establisheth the landmark of the widow.” The background of this is the partition of the promised land among the various tribes as their perpetual inheritance. The magnificent palaces of the proud, which are, in fact, monuments to their pride and arrogance are eventually destroyed. Nebuchadnezzar gloried in "Great Babylon which I have built"; but God drove him away to live with wild beasts for seven years; and at last Babylon itself was so deeply buried under the dust of centuries that the very site is uncertain.

Proverbs 15:25. A double contrast: “root up” vs. “establish” and “the proud” vs. “the widow” (and maybe a third: “house” vs. “border”). For similar passages see Proverbs 12:7; Proverbs 14:11; Psalms 146:9. This is a great warning against arrogancy, self-sufficiency, and being independent in attitude. Concerning the “border” (or boundary) of the widow: “In a country where property was defined by landmarks—stones or some such objects—nothing was easier than to remove these altogether, or to alter their position. That this was a common form of fraud and oppression we gather from the stringency of the enactments against the offence (see Deuteronomy 19:14; Deuteronomy 27:17; and compare Job 24:2 and Proverbs 22:28). In the Babylonian and Assyrian inscriptions...there are many invoking curses, curious and multifarious, against the disturbers of boundaries” (“Pulpit Commentary”).

Verse 26

Pro 15:26

Proverbs 15:26

"Evil devices are an abomination to Jehovah; But pleasant words are pure."

A better antithesis is this: "The Lord detests the thoughts of the wicked, but those of the pure are pleasing to him.”

Proverbs 15:26. “Evil devices” would include everything from the simplest plot to outsmart somebody to the most complex invention for the production of evil. Such inventers may be lauded, and such devisers may think themselves shrewd, but such is not God’s view. God is against “evil” and everything and everybody multiplying it. Words that are “pleasant” (or pleasing) are “pure” and not evil.

Verse 27

Pro 15:27

Proverbs 15:27

"He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house; But he that hateth bribes shall live."

Under Proverbs 15:16, we commented upon the man who is greedy for gain. "Such a man is a torment to himself and to his family because of his avariciousness and penury. He is a curse to all those who deal with him.” Bribery is a besetting sin of all mankind. The refusal of early Christians to procure Paul’s release from Felix, in spite of its being offered for a bribe, establishes the truth that it is wrong either to pay or to receive a bribe (Acts 24:26).

Proverbs 15:27. One “greedy of gain” was violating the Tenth Commandment (Exodus 20:17). But instead of building up one’s own house at the expense of others, sometimes one brings ruination to himself and his house, such as did Achan (Joshua 7:21; Joshua 7:24-25), Naboth (1 Kings 21:1-24), Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-10), and Lot and others. Other Scriptures: Isaiah 5:8; Jeremiah 17:11; 1 Timothy 6:9-10. One who hates bribes is one who refuses to accept them (to enrich himself) or one who offers them (In hopes of profiting himself). There is far more of this in government than we realize.

Verse 28

Pro 15:28

Proverbs 15:28

"The heart of the righteous studieth to answer; But the mouth of the evil poureth out evil things."

"This contrasts the thoughtfulness that precedes the studious answer of the wise man with the hasty babbling of the foolish.” "Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer each one" (Colossians 4:6). In these words Paul cautioned Christians that their answers also should be preceded with thoughtfulness.

Proverbs 15:28. “Clarke”: “His tongue never runs before his wit; he never speaks rashly, and never unadvisedly; because he studies—ponders—his thoughts and his words.” A wise person is “slow to speak” (James 1:19) so as to tell the exact truth and to say what should be said. The chief priests and elders deliberated in answering Jesus (they studied before answering), but it was not righteous (Matthew 21:23-27). The mouth of wicked “poureth out” evil things suggests that they speak with ease, giving no forethought to what they are about to say. And, oh, the wrong things that get said in this way!

Verse 29

Pro 15:29

Proverbs 15:29

"Jehovah is far from the wicked, But he heareth the prayer of the righteous."

The Easy-to-Read Version misses this in their rendition: "The Lord is far away from evil people, but he always hears the prayers of good people." There are many "good people" in the ordinary understanding of these words that are in open rebellion against God’s commandments. It is not the so-called "good people" whom God hears, but it is the "righteous," a Biblical definition of which is, "Walking in all the ordinances and commandments of the Lord, blameless" (Luke 1:6). The common idea of who is "good" applies the term to anyone who minds his own business and stays out of jail.

The Bible definition is quite different. "Only God is good" (Mark 10:18).

Proverbs 15:29. Man’s wickedness puts “distance” between himself and God (Isaiah 59:2). God hears the prayer of the righteous, but His face is against the wicked (Psalms 34:15-18; 1 Peter 3:12; Psalms 145:18-20). The godly person finds joy in walking with God, and when he needs special help, he can call upon Him. The ungodly relinquish all this to their sin.

Verse 30

Pro 15:30

Proverbs 15:30

"The light of the eyes rejoiceth the heart; And good tidings make the bones fat."

"Good fortune is the joy of life, and good news is health and vigor.” "Makes the bones fat" is also read as, "Refreshes the bones.” The language here is metaphorical. This is a truism. People like it when good news and prosperity come.

Proverbs 15:30. The sunlight and other beautiful things that man sees bring joy to his heart, and the good news that he hears makes him feel good and results in good health. What one sees and hears, then, affects the way he feels, and the way he feels affects the functions of his body. People who trust instead of fret, who pray instead of worry, who thank God rather than complain, etc. are bound to have better health than those who do otherwise.

Verse 31

Pro 15:31

Proverbs 15:31

"The ear that hearkeneth to the reproof of life shall abide among the wise."

Frankenberg has a good alternate reading for Proverbs 15:31, "...who harkens to life-giving admonitions.” "The ear that heeds wholesome admonition will lodge among the wise." The advice one heeds must be good.

Proverbs 15:31. Proverbs 15:5 said that the person who regarded reproof would get wisdom. This verse says that such will abide among the wise. See Proverbs 15:10; Proverbs 15:12 also. An old proverb: “Advice is for them that will take it.” Stephen referred to his hearers’ ears as “uncircumcised” (Acts 7:51). The ear cannot always hear what is pleasing and commendatory, as much as we would like it that way. Praise may be pleasing, but reproof may be more profitable. All of us need both.

Verse 32

Pro 15:32

Proverbs 15:32

"He that refuseth correction despiseth his own soul; But he that hearkeneth to reproof getteth understanding."

"We are born like a wild ass’s colt in dire need of instruction; but some are such enemies of themselves that they will no consent to be taught wisdom.” A society of the undisciplined rapidly degenerates into a state of disintegration.

Proverbs 15:32. This verse treats both responses to reproof. One refusing correction may appear to be despising the one reproving him, but in reality he is despising his own best interests; he is hurting himself. The inclusion of so many sayings on correction indicates the amount of this that will come to us in life. Their purpose is to get us to accept it for our own betterment.

Verse 33

Pro 15:33

Proverbs 15:33

"The fear of Jehovah is the instruction of wisdom And before honor goeth humility."

"Humility is that low sweet root from which all the heavenly virtue shoot.” "Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time" (1 Peter 5:6). The Magnificat has the precious lines, "He hath put down princes from their thrones, and hath exalted them of low degree" (Luke 1:52). The glorious Head of our holy religion washes the disciples’ feet.

Proverbs 15:33. Compare with Proverbs 1:7. To learn true reverence for God is true wisdom. Wisdom would instruct us to this fear through parents, through the Scriptures, and through our religious leaders and religious associates. Honor does precede humility: it was so with Jesus (Philippians 2:7-11); it was so with the penitent publican (Luke 18:13-14); and we must be converted (humbled) before we become Christians (honor).

Proverbs of Solomon - Proverbs 15:1-33

Open It

1. When is it better to have a little in life rather than a lot?

2. What is something that makes you happy or brings you a lot of joy?

3. From whom is it difficult for you to take criticism? Why?

Explore It

4. How do gentle answers and harsh words differ? (Proverbs 15:1)

5. What did Solomon say about the speech of the wise and of the fool? (Proverbs 15:2; Proverbs 15:4; Proverbs 15:7)

6. What did Solomon say about the eyes of the Lord? (Proverbs 15:3)

7. What do we know about the person who hates and resists correction? (Proverbs 15:10; Proverbs 15:12)

8. What did Solomon say about the heart? (Proverbs 15:13-15)

9. When is it better to have a little than a lot? (Proverbs 15:16-17)

10. How do the hot-tempered person and the patient person differ? (Proverbs 15:18)

11. What kind of course does a wise person keep? (Proverbs 15:21)

12. What does the heart of the righteous do with his or her answers? (Proverbs 15:28)

13. What does the person who ignores wisdom do to himself or herself? (Proverbs 15:32)

14. What comes before honor? (Proverbs 15:33)

Get It

15. Why is it easier to speak harshly rather than gently?

16. How does the reality that the eyes of the Lord are everywhere affect our life?

17. What type of person hates and resists correction?

18. How can a person cultivate a happy and cheerful heart?

19. When have you found that having less where there is love is better than having a lot where there is conflict?

20. What does it mean to weigh one’s answers?

21. What kind of person ignores discipline?

22. When have you ignored discipline?

23. Why must humility come before honor?

24. How can a person cultivate humility?

Apply It

25. What one thing can you do today to cultivate humility in your life?

26. How can you focus on enjoying what you have, no matter how little?

27. What can you do this week to become more open to correction in your life?

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Proverbs 15". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/proverbs-15.html.
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