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Sunday, May 19th, 2024
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Bible Commentaries
Proverbs 22

Old & New Testament Restoration CommentaryRestoration Commentary

Verse 1

Pro 22:1

Proverbs 22:1

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

"Riches are greatly esteemed in the world; and, wisely managed, they serve many valuable purposes; but they do not contribute as much to genuine tranquility and happiness of life as do the esteem and love of one’s neighbors. Paul’s qualifications for elders did not require them to be rich, but to have a good name among Christians and even among the heathen.”

Proverbs 22:1. Ecclesiastes 7:1 is similar, saying a good name is better than “precious oil.” Those who get rich through dishonest means choose riches rather than a good reputation. If it comes down to a choice, always choose a good name (“loving favor”) to great riches (“Silver and gold”). Great possessions with no friends can be so cold and empty! There are many suicides among the rich too. An average living with many friends and the favor of God proves to be the happiest, most satisfying way to live.

Verse 2

Pro 22:2

Proverbs 22:2

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

This means that, "There are social differences among men; but all men, as creatures of God, have their rights, and their mutual obligations of respect and kindness.” There is a terrible equality of all men who have one Creator, are all sinful, are all mortal, and who all cross the threshold of our common grave. All men have the invitation to receive eternal life upon the conditions God has provided it; and all men have only one extremely vital choice to make. They may either receive it, or reject it.

Proverbs 22:2. Proverbs 29:13 speaks similarly concerning the two classes. Does God make them rich and poor, or is He the maker of them regardless of whether they are rich or poor? Probably the latter. In society they both help each other. “Pulpit Commentary” aptly remarks: “The labor of the poor makes the wealth of the rich; the wealth of the rich enables him to employ and aid the poor...The rich should not despise the poor (Proverbs 14:31; Proverbs 17:5) Job 31:15); the poor should not envy the rich (Proverbs 3:31).

Verse 3

Pro 22:3

Proverbs 22:3

"A prudent man seeth the evil, and hideth himself; But the simple pass on, and suffer for it."

"The Bible gives blind optimism its right name. It is not faith but folly. This was mentioned in Proverbs 14:15-16, and will be repeated in even stronger language in Proverbs 27:12.”

Proverbs 22:3. This very saying is repeated in Proverbs 27:12. An old saying: “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.” A discerning person can often foresee danger ahead, and his wisdom causes him to avoid it; but the simple, undiscerning person comes along, never realizing what is just ahead, and suffers the consequences. In the original, “prudent man” is singular while “the simple” is plural. “Hitzig” observes as a result: “Many simple ones are found for one prudent.” And when something new (some fad) comes along that had dangerous involvements connected with it, many take up with it anyway, and you wonder if “Hitzig” isn’t correct in his observation! A Cornish proverb: “He who will not be ruled by the rudder must be ruled by the rock.”

Verse 4

Pro 22:4

Proverbs 22:4

"The reward of humility and the fear of Jehovah Is riches, and honor, and life."

This verse, which stresses humility and the fear of the Lord, "Sums up several of the principal lessons of Proverbs.” As a matter of fact, it gives a brief summary of the chief obligations of human life on earth.

Proverbs 22:4. “humility” and the “fear of Jehovah” are here equated, for those who truly fear Jehovah are humble, submissive, and obedient to Him. The reward of such is threefold: riches, honor and long life. Here is the way that one can have both possessions and good reputation with life thrown in as a bonus. Abraham is a good example of all three. God “rewards” those who thus fear Him and do His will from humble hearts.

Verse 5

Pro 22:5

Proverbs 22:5

"Thorns and snares are in the way of the perverse; He that keepeth his soul shall be far from them."

He that keepeth his soul carries the frightening implication that one may lose his soul, a fact emphasized by Jesus (Matthew 16:26). "Many toils, trials and sufferings will be met by the sinful.” One’s soul is that immortal part of him that shall at last give an account in the presence of God.

Proverbs 22:5. What a contrast with Proverbs 22:4! While the righteous reap riches, honor and life (Proverbs 22:4), “Thorns” and “snares” await the perverse. Proverbs 15:19 combines both groups: “The way of the sluggard is as a hedge of thorns; But the path of the upright is made a highway.” The wicked are “perverse (perverted from what God has intended them to be). The godly are those who keep their souls; they shall avoid the thorns and snares that come upon the ungodly. Another reason (a sensible one) for being godly rather than ungodly.

Verse 6

Pro 22:6

Proverbs 22:6

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

This identifies the proper instruction and discipline of one’s children as, "A religious duty.” It should also be imposed as a legal obligation upon that vast army of godless, reprobate men who have fathered children, deserted their mothers, and avoided providing support.

Proverbs 22:6. A commandment with a promise. The commandment: train up a child in the way he should go; the promise: even when he is old he will not depart from it. Such training requires many things: knowledge, wisdom, time, patience, determination and love. There are many failures in child-rearing because of lacking one or several of the above requirements. Child-training is something that is easy to neglect or try shortcuts with, but what a shame when the future of one’s entire posterity is at stake! What is really more important? Ephesians 6:4 commands this type of training. Timothy had been taught the Scriptures from a child (2 Timothy 3:15); as a result the great faith that had dwelt in his mother and grandmother was in him also (2 Timothy 1:5). No wonder that as a young man he was well reported of by his home congregation (Lystra) and by other Christians in the area (Acts 16:1-2). Other passages on child rearing: Proverbs 1:8; Proverbs 13:1; Proverbs 19:18; Proverbs 22:15; Proverbs 23:13-14; Proverbs 29:15; Proverbs 29:17.

Verse 7

Pro 22:7

Proverbs 22:7

"The rich rule over the poor; And the borrower is servant to the lender."

This states an unhappy fact, but without any approval of it (See the first two verses). The apostolic injunction to "Owe no man anything" (Romans 13:8) is the way to avoid the servitude mentioned in the second line. Of course, this involves doing without many things while the money to acquire the things needed is being earned. The widespread practice of young married couples buying everything they want on credit is an infallible method of remaining poor for a lifetime.

Proverbs 22:7. This is the way it is in life: the rich who have made financial successes are the ones who rule in governmental circles; they have power, influence and reputation that necessarily puts them at the helm. It is likely in this verse that the second statement is explanatory of the first; that is, the borrower (the poor) is servant to the lender (the rich). The borrower is limited in the amount he can borrow by the wishes of the lender; he must pay the interest-rate asked by the lender, or there will be no borrowing; he must pay it back in the time-limit set by the lender; and if he doesn’t pay it back, the lender will do all he can to collect the equivalent (or more) from the borrower.

Verse 8

Pro 22:8

Proverbs 22:8

"He that soweth iniquity shall reap calamity; And the rod of his wrath shall fail."

"If you plant the seeds of injustice, disaster will spring up, and your oppression of others will end.” "A man who sows evil has a harvest of trouble; his labor goes for nothing.” Any person who is sinning is "sowing iniquity." The Septuagint (LXX) has a variant reading for the second line, "God loves a cheerful and liberal man,” and Scott called this the source of Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 9:7.”

Proverbs 22:8. It is a divine principle (law) that whatever a person sows in life, that he will reap in consequences (Galatians 6:7). If one sows good seeds, he will reap good (Galatians 6:8; Proverbs 11:18); if he sows bad seeds, he will reap trouble (Galatians 6:8; Job 4:8; Hosea 10:13). The acts of sin may be pleasurable (Hebrews 11:25), but the consequences are not (Proverbs 5:8-13). Oftentimes one finds that the rod of wrath he planned for another falls upon himself instead.

Verse 9

Pro 22:9

Proverbs 22:9

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

God Himself blesses the liberal giver, as anyone who ever practiced liberality already knows. See 2 Corinthians 9:6-13, where this promise is elaborated for Christians.

Proverbs 22:9. One with a “bountiful eye” is one who sees needs, who sees what he can do to alleviate the persons involved, and who generously gives of what he has. God’s promise to such a liberal giver: he “shall be blessed.” Similar promises: Proverbs 11:25; Luke 6:38; Luke 14:12-14; Proverbs 19:17; 2 Corinthians 9:6.

Verse 10

Pro 22:10

Proverbs 22:10

"Cast out the scoffer, and contention will go out; Yea, strife and ignominy will cease."

"Disagreement and bad blood sometimes arise, not from the facts of a situation, but from a person with a wrong attitude, who makes mischief. This proverb says that, `What an institution sometimes needs is, not reforms, but the expulsion of a member.’”

Proverbs 22:10. Sometimes a circle of people is better off with one less person if that person be a scoffer, for one such person can keep a whole group in a continual state of contention, strife and ignominy (reproach). How terrible to be that warped a person!

Verse 11

Pro 22:11

Proverbs 22:11

"He that loveth pureness of heart, For the grace of his lips the king will be his friend."

The translators are in disagreement over what this says. Toy, endorsing Luther’s rendition, made "the king" the subject of both clauses, declaring that this seems to offer the most probable sense: "The king loves the pure in heart, and the grace of lips is his delight.” "If you love purity of heart and graciousness of speech, the king will be your friend.”

Proverbs 22:11. What a beautiful, wonderful person is portrayed by the words “loveth pureness of heart” and “the grace of his lips”, meaning a person with purity abiding in his heart and who has the ability to express himself in a courteous way. Kings may not always have been virtuous people, but they admired such. Even the wicked King Herod had a high regard for John the Baptist: “Herodias set herself against him, and desired to kill him; and she could not; for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and kept him safe. And when he heard him, he was much perplexed; and he heard him gladly” (Mark 6:19-20). Matthew 5:8 also exalts purity of heart.

Verse 12

Pro 22:12

Proverbs 22:12

"The eyes of Jehovah preserve him that hath knowledge; But he overthroweth the words of the treacherous man."

"This first clause says that God oversees and protects the man who knows God and walks in his ways, and uses his means and abilities for the good of others.” The second clause means that, "God frustrates the intentions of the treacherous man by turning them in another direction.” It is of interest that the Septuagint renders the passage thus: "The eyes of the Lord preserve discretion; but the transgressor despises wise words.”

Proverbs 22:12. The “eyes of Jehovah” here stand for his knowledge of the affairs upon earth and of His providential workings resulting from what He sees, He preserves those who have knowledge, who use their God-created faculties to acquire enlightment that He gives. It pleased Him that Solomon placed such a high value upon wisdom and knowledge (1 Kings 3:9-10; 1 Kings 4:29-34). God lamented in Hosea’s day, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou has rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee” (Hosea 4:6). When God overthrew Sennacherib (2 Kings 19:35), it was an instance of His overthrowing the words of the treacherous (2 Kings 18:28-35).

Verse 13

Pro 22:13

Proverbs 22:13

"The sluggard saith, There is a lion in the way; I shall be slain in the streets."

"The lazy will claim that there is a lion in the way to keep from going to work. They will use any excuse, no matter how unlikely or unbelievable, to keep from carrying their share of the load.”

Illustration: This writer and his wife once aided an able-bodied bum by getting him a job; much to our surprise he turned it down, saying, "Reverend, you just don’t understand what a kind-hearted man I am. If I took that job, I would meet somebody tomorrow who needs it worse than I do, and I would give it to him!"

Proverbs 22:13. The same sluggard excuse for not going to work is in Proverbs 26:13. Since wisdom would include one’s physical safety, it is doubtful if there was a lion in the streets. All lazy people are full of excuses for not working, for they do not want to work. Just as where there’s a will to do something, there is usually a way to do it, so where there is no will to work, there is usually a handy excuse for not doing it.

Verse 14

Pro 22:14

Proverbs 22:14

"The mouth of strange women is a deep pit; He that is abhorred of Jehovah shall fall therein."

This subject was practically exhausted in the first seven chapters of Proverbs. Our only marvel is that Solomon, of all people, could have said something like this. "The Lord is angry with the one who consorts with an adulteress.”

Proverbs 22:14. Many times in Proverbs does the father warn the son about the wicked, immoral woman (Proverbs 2:16; Proverbs 5:3-23; Proverbs 6:24-35; Proverbs 7:5-27; Proverbs 23:27-28). Notice in the passages just cited how she uses her mouth (words and kisses) to break the young man down. Her mouth is said to be a “deep pit” into which men “fall,” and usually they do not get out! That God hates this sin in a terrible way, notice the strong language: “He that is abhorred of Jehovah shall fall therein.” Ecclesiastes 7:26 says, “I find more bitter than death the woman whose heart is snares and nets and whose hands are bands: whoso pleaseth God shall escape from her; but the sinner shall be taken by her.”

Verse 15

Pro 22:15

Proverbs 22:15

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

A number of proverbs deal with the discipline of children (Proverbs 13:24; Proverbs 22:6; Proverbs 29:15; Proverbs 29:21). Corporal punishment is mentioned here. Our current culture has rejected corporal punishment for disobedient and unruly children; and this should be evaluated in the light of this report from the front page of today’s Houston Post, June 22,1993. The banner headline reads: UNITED STATES LOSING A GENERATION. "About one-fourth of all 10 to 17 year olds are at risk of failing to lead productive adult lives. Why? High-risk behavior - drugs ... sex ... liquor ... etc." In a word, no discipline, either at home or at school. Perhaps our "smart educators" should take another look at their policies.

Folly is very much bound up in the nature of children, more so with boys than with girls. "The rod of discipline is needed to get rid of the folly.”

Proverbs 22:15. A child’s actions often reflect lack of good judgment and his immaturity: “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I felt as a child, I thought as a child: now that I am become a man, I have put away childish things” (1 Corinthians 13:11). Oh, the foolish, unwise, careless, thoughtless things that children will do! What will drive it far from him? Proper, severe punishment. Other passages teaching such punishment; Proverbs 13:24; Proverbs 19:18; Proverbs 23:13-14; Proverbs 29:15. Many parents do not do as God commands, and that foolishness remains engrained in the natures and ways of their rebellious children.

Verse 16

Pro 22:16

Proverbs 22:16

"He that oppresseth the poor to increase his gain, And he that giveth to the rich shall come only to want."

This is a disputed verse, and several different renditions are possible, none of which are any better than the one in our version.

Proverbs 22:16. Proverbs shows that laziness and lack of industry can bring one to want (Proverbs 6:9-11), but this verse shows that oppressing the poor to get gain and trying to bribe the rich for one’s own advantage can do the same. The man described in this verse is a man to beware of.

Verses 17-19

Pro 22:17-19

Proverbs 22:17-19

"Incline thine ear, and hear the words of the wise, And apply thy heart unto my knowledge. For it is a pleasant thing if thou keep them within thee. If they be established together upon thy lips. That thy trust may be in Jehovah, I have made them known to thee this day, even to thee."

There is a break here; and from this Proverbs 22:17 through the end of Proverbs 24, we have the words of the wise men. Some call these, "The Thirty Words" (consisting of two verses each); but other words of wise men are added after the "thirty."

These three verses state the purpose of the wise men’s words, namely, "That thy trust may be in Jehovah." This particular section of Proverbs is not attributed to Solomon.

Proverbs 22:17. The “sayings” (a new saying each verse) is noticeably interrupted here for a five verse section urging the son to listen to the good instruction that he is receiving. God has given us ears with which to listen to what others say to us; they should be used when the wise are speaking. He has given us hearts or minds that can apply what we hear to our lives. The double commandment of this verse, then, is “incline thine ear” and “apply thy heart.”

Proverbs 22:18. To live as Proverbs 22:17 says brings a “pleasant” way to live. What we hear and apply we keep within us as knowledge, and they become proverbs or sayings upon our own lips.

Proverbs 22:19. True knowledge should cause us to trust in God, who is the “First” (the cause) and the “Last” (the judge). Remember, “The fear of Jehovah is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7). That his son might come to trust in Jehovah was the purpose of the father’s careful instruction.

Verses 20-21

Pro 22:20-21

Proverbs 22:20-21

"Have not I written unto the excellent things of counsels and knowledge, To make thee know the certainty of the words of truth, That thou mayest carry back words of truth to them that send thee?"

This concludes the introduction to the words of the wise men, the first of the "thirty words" beginning in Proverbs 22:22.

Proverbs 22:20. The father here refers to the quality of his instructions. Compare Proverbs 4:1-2; Proverbs 8:6-8.

Proverbs 22:21. As a young man grows up, he is going to be subjected to many ideas of people, some being diametrically opposed to others. It is easy for a youth in the state of immaturity to be “tossed to and fro” by such (Ephesians 4:14). This is why it is so necessary that the truth that the father teaches be taught in such a way that his son is well grounded in that truth, for only as he knows the truth will he be able to detect the counterfeit. On the latter statement of the verse, if a son has been brought up to know truth, to respect it, and to tell it, when being sent by others on a responsible mission, he will be able to know what truth is, to evaluate the situation, and to bring back a true report.

Verses 22-23

Pro 22:22-23

Proverbs 22:22-23

"Rob not the poor because he is poor; Neither oppress the afflicted in the gate: For Jehovah will plead their cause, And will despoil of life those that despoil them."

"To be ruthlessly `on the make’ is to make, above all, an Enemy.” That Enemy, of course, is the Lord of heaven and earth.

Proverbs 22:22. Both Old and New Testaments teach us to regard the unfortunate (Exodus 23:6; James 1:27). Yet they are often oppressed (Zechariah 7:10; Malachi 3:5;. “In the gate” was where legal matters were settled (their “courthouse”). Sometimes the poor have not gotten their proper treatment in courts because of the other side had the money to bribe those in charge.

Proverbs 22:23. In the absence of human defense God has promised to take up in their behalf and take away from those who took away from them. Other passages on the same subject: Psalms 12:5; Psalms 35:10; Psalms 68:5; Psalms 140:12; Proverbs 23:10-11. God saw that King Ahab was despoiled for the vineyard he took away from Naboth (1 Kings 21:1-14).

Verses 24-25

Pro 22:24-25

Proverbs 22:24-25

"Make no friendship with a man that is given to anger; And with a wrathful man thou shalt not go: Lest thou learn his ways, And get a snare to thy soul." This is a stern warning against association with any man given to angry and wrathful outbursts. Christians are commanded to be `slow to anger’ and "to be angry and sin not.’ Anger breeds anger; impatience breeds impatience; and association with such a man is dangerous, not only in the earthly sense, but also in the eternal sense. It can lead to the loss of one’s soul.

Proverbs 22:24. Of all the people in the world with which to make companions, what a poor companion an angry, wrathful man is! But some people are that way (quick-tempered, no judgment, etc.), and some make friends with them.

Proverbs 22:25. Like all companions, the close ties leave their influence (I. Cor. Proverbs 15:33). Thus, one who had been blessed with a good spirit and a calm, cool disposition begins “flying off the handle” and going into a senseless rage when everything doesn’t go just right. Why? Because he has been around just such a man.

Verses 26-27

Pro 22:26-27

Proverbs 22:26-27

"Be thou not one of them that strike hands, Or of them that are sureties for debts. If thou hast not wherewith to pay, Why should he take away thy bed from under thee?"

A number of the proverbs of Solomon in the previous section dealt with this same problem, and there is nothing new added here. It just says, "Don’t do it"!

Proverbs 22:26. Being “co-signer” for another’s debts is warned against several times in Proverbs (Proverbs 6:1-2; Proverbs 11:15; Proverbs 17:18; Proverbs 20:16).

Proverbs 22:27, How do you know at the time of obligating yourself whether you will be able at the time of need to put up the necessary money? You may have to get along without things that are necessary to your own life (like a “bed”).

Verse 28

Pro 22:28

Proverbs 22:28

"Remove not the ancient landmark, Which thy fathers have set."

Moving an ancient landmark was a device of fraudulent men, because such landmarks defined the boundaries of farms and estates. Moving a landmark was a crime easy to commit and hard to prove, therefore God gave the sternest warnings against it, not only in the books of Law and Prophecy, but in the Wisdom literature also.”

Proverbs 22:28. Proverbs 23:10 also contains this prohibition. The original law behind this saying is in Deuteronomy 19:14 : “Thou shalt not remove thy neighbor’s landmark, which they of old time have set, in thine inheritance which thou shall inherit, in the land that Jehovah thy God giveth thee to possess it.” It was one of the twelve special curses to be pronounced from Mt. Ebal: “Cursed be he that removeth his neighbor’s landmark. And all the people shall say, “Amen” (Deuteronomy 27:17). This would be like removing steel stakes or buried rocks of surveyings today. It was even worse then because the official description of a property line is recorded at the courthouse today while in Bible days the landmark was all there was.

Verse 29

Pro 22:29

Proverbs 22:29

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

"Diligence would not commend a man so highly unless it was accompanied by unusual skill, dexterity, ingenuity and creativeness.” In ancient times persons with such abilities were called "tektons." The word was applied to Christ himself (as a carpenter) (Mark 6:3). Such skilled workers are the benefactors of all mankind. We dedicated our Book of Acts (In the New Testament Series) to a "[@tekton]." Bezalel (Exodus 35:30-35) was just such a person.

Proverbs 22:29. A person diligent in business is one who is ambitious, industrious, and aggressive. They are men of application, and they will be numbered among the great and the known. Their lifetimes will be spent in major, not minor, concerns. Joseph tended to every business assigned to him (Genesis 39:1-6; Genesis 39:21-23), and he stood before the Pharaoh (Genesis 41:39-44). David was diligent in caring for his father’s sheep. In this he developed both skill and bravery in protecting them against ferocious animals, and this (together with his great faith in God) had much to do with his fighting and killing Goliath (1 Samuel 17:32-37). This led to his relationship with King Saul and the army (1 Samuel 18:2; 1 Samuel 18:5). Daniel was diligent in business (Daniel 6:4-5), and he was an important man in the administration of the following kings: Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, and Darius. The word “mean” in our verse means “insignificant.” Paul used the same word in referring to his native city Tarsus (Acts 21:39).

Proverbs of Solomon - Proverbs 22:1-29

Open It

1. When you were a child, what excuses did you use for not doing something you were supposed to do (such as your homework)?

2. What do people do to develop a good or bad reputation?

3. What is the best thing your parents or guardians taught you?

Explore It

4. What is the value of a good name? (Proverbs 22:1)

5. What types of people did Solomon write about in this chapter? (Proverbs 22:1-29)

6. What do the rich and the poor have in common? (Proverbs 22:2)

7. What brings wealth and honor in life? (Proverbs 22:4)

8. What is the result of training a child properly? (Proverbs 22:6)

9. What happens to generous people? (Proverbs 22:9)

10. How does a sluggard use his or her mouth? (Proverbs 22:13)

11. How do children become wise? (Proverbs 22:15)

12. Why did Solomon want the reader to listen to what he taught? (Proverbs 22:17-21)

13. Who wrote the proverbs in the second half of this chapter? (Proverbs 22:17-29)

14. What counsel do the wise have concerning friends? (Proverbs 22:24-25)

15. Why should we strive to learn and develop skills? (Proverbs 22:29)

Get It

16. What should we do in pursuit of a good reputation in the community?

17. How should the fact that Lord is Maker of both the rich and the poor impact our life?

18. How do humility and the fear of the Lord bring wealth and honor and life?

19. What is the purpose and goal of parenting?

20. In what ways are parents responsible or not responsible for the way their children turn out?

21. What does it mean to be a good parent?

22. What is the difference between a valid reason and an excuse?

23. What is the purpose and goal of discipline?

24. Why is it hard to live our life after what the Bible teaches?

25. Why should we be careful about the kind of people with whom we associate and make friends?

Apply It

26. What is one concrete step you can take this week to cultivate a good reputation in your neighborhood or community?

27. How can you take greater responsibility for something your parents taught you?

28. In what way can you be generous to another person today?

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Proverbs 22". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/proverbs-22.html.
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