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Bible Commentaries
Proverbs 10

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New TestamentsBenson's Commentary


A.M. 3004. B.C. 1000.

Here properly begins the book of Proverbs, as the title of this chapter tells us; what hath been delivered hitherto being rather a preface, or introduction, to the work; to awaken attention, and, from sundry arguments, to recommend the wise instructions, which now follow, to every one’s practice; and to caution those who would receive benefit by these instructions, against such things as might hinder their edification in the school of wisdom. Her lessons, in this first part of the book, (which reaches to Proverbs 22:17 ,) are delivered in short sentences; every verse being a lesson by itself, and commonly having no connection with that which goes before and follows after: or, if there be any, it is not so clear as to be easily made out. And these lessons are, for the most part, delivered either by way of antithesis, that is, comparing opposites one with another; the wise, for instance, and the foolish; the diligent and the sluggish; the rich and the poor; and, in general, virtue and vice, assigning to each their proper rewards or punishments: or, they are mere parables, that is, similitudes, in which one thing is compared to another that resembles it. And as he intended to instruct all sorts of men in their several kinds of life, these lessons are very various, and do not merely give information about the manners of mankind, but about the events also, which are wont to accompany or follow such manners. Some of these proverbs are directions for single persons, others for the management of household affairs, and others for the government of kingdoms. In short, some of them are divine precepts, and others advices in civil matters, showing us how we ought to conduct ourselves in the several passages of human life: to the observance of which he excites the reader, sometimes by promises, and sometimes by threatenings.

Verse 1

Proverbs 10:1. The Proverbs of Solomon Properly so called; for the foregoing chapters, although they had this title in the beginning of them, yet, in truth, were only a preparation to them, intended to stir up men’s minds to the greater attention to all the precepts of wisdom, whereof some here follow; see the argument prefixed to this chapter. A wise son That is, prudent, and especially virtuous and godly, as this word commonly signifies in this book, and in many other parts of Scripture; maketh a glad father And a glad mother too; for both parents are to be understood in both branches of the sentence, as is evident from the nature of the thing, which affects both of them, and from parallel places, as Proverbs 17:25; Proverbs 30:17, although only one be expressed in each branch for the greater elegance. A foolish son is the heaviness of his mother The occasion of her great sorrow, which is decently ascribed to the mothers rather than to the fathers, because their passions in general are more vehement, and they are more susceptible of grief and trouble. Although I cannot affirm, says Bishop Patrick, “that there is an order observed in all these proverbs, yet this first sentence seems not to have been casually, but designedly, set in the front of the rest; because nothing contributes so much, every way, to the happiness of mankind, as a religious care about the education of children, which parents are here admonished to attend to if they desire their children should not prove a grief and shame to them: and children are put in mind of the obedience they owe to their instructions, that they may be a joy to them.”

Verse 2

Proverbs 10:2. Treasures of wickedness Such as are got by any sort of unjust or wicked practices; or worldly riches in general, termed by our Lord, the mammon of unrighteousness, Luke 16:9, because they are often used in an unrighteous manner, and made instruments of unrighteousness, and for other reasons there explained; profit nothing Do the possessor no good at the time here intended, but, as is implied in the opposite member of the sentence, much hurt. They not only do not deliver him from death, but often expose him to it, either from men, who would take away his life that they may enjoy his wealth, or from God, who shortens his days, as a punishment of those luxuries and other sins into which his wealth led him: whence death becomes more terrible, as being attended with guilt and a dread of the second death. But righteousness True holiness of heart and life; or he may mean justice and equity in the getting of riches, and a liberal and charitable use of them, which is often called righteousness in Scripture, and is indeed but an act of justice; (of which see on Proverbs 3:27;) delivereth from death Frequently from temporal death, because men generally love and honour, and will assist such persons in cases of danger, and God often gives them the blessing of a long life; and always from eternal death, when such justice and charity proceed from true piety and a good conscience.

Verse 3

Proverbs 10:3. The Lord will not suffer the righteous to famish Will preserve them from famine, according to his promises, Psalms 34:10, (on which see the note,) and elsewhere; but he casteth away the substance So הות , the word here used, sometimes signifies; or, the wickedness, that is, the wealth gotten by wickedness, as it is rendered Psalms 52:7; of the wicked Who by that means shall be exposed to want and famine. The instructions in these last two verses about getting, keeping, and using riches aright, very properly follow what was observed, Proverbs 10:1, that a curse may not be entailed upon riches through a contrary conduct respecting them, and descend with them unto our children.

Verse 4

Proverbs 10:4. He becometh poor Probably by slow degrees; that dealeth with a slack hand Who is negligent and slothful in his business. Hebrew, כ Š רמיה , with a deceitful hand, so called, partly because it seems, or pretends to do something, when, in truth, it doth nothing; and partly because such persons usually endeavour to maintain themselves by deceit and wickedness, instead of doing it by honest labour and diligence. But the hand of the diligent maketh rich Not by itself, nor necessarily, as is manifest from experience, and is observed Ecclesiastes 9:11, but through God’s blessing, which is commonly given to the diligent and industrious.

Verse 5

Proverbs 10:5. He that gathereth The fruits of his field; in summer In harvest, as it follows, which is a part of summer; is a wise son Acts a prudent and proper part: he acts wisely for his parents, whom, if need be, he ought to maintain, and he gains reputation to himself, his family, and education. But he that sleepeth in harvest causeth shame Both to himself for his folly, and for that poverty and misery caused by it, and to his parents, to whose neglect of his education such things are often and sometimes justly imputed. He that seeks and gains knowledge and wisdom in the days of his youth, or that watches for and improves the proper seasons of doing good to himself and others, gathers in summer, and will have the comfort and credit of it; but he that idles away the days of his youth, will bear the shame of it when he is old: and he that suffers fair occasions of getting and doing good to pass unheeded by, will afterward have cause bitterly to lament his negligence and folly.

Verse 6

Proverbs 10:6. Blessings are upon the head of the just All sorts of blessings are wished to them by men, and conferred upon them by God. But violence Either, 1st, The fruit or punishment of their own violence: or, 2d, The violent, injurious, and mischievous practices of others against them, deserved by their own violence committed against others, and inflicted upon them by the righteous judgment of God; covereth the mouth of the wicked That is, shall fall upon them. This phrase of covering the mouth, may be an allusion to the ancient custom of covering the faces of condemned malefactors.

Verse 8

Proverbs 10:8 . The wise, &c., will receive commandments Is ready to hear and obey the precepts of God and men. But a prating fool One who is slow to hear, and swift to speak, who, instead of receiving good admonitions, cavils and disputes against them; Hebrew, אויל שׂפתים , a fool of lips, one who discovers the folly of his heart by his lips, and thereby exposes himself to the mischief here following; shall fall Into mischief, or be punished.

Verse 9

Proverbs 10:9. He that walketh uprightly Who is sincere, and just, and faithful in his dealings with God, and toward men; walketh surely Hebrew, ילךְ בשׂח , shall walk securely, or confidently, as the word properly signifies; quietly resting upon God’s favour and gracious providence for his protection, being supported by the testimony of a good conscience, and therefore not caring who observes or knows his actions, which he endeavours to approve both to God and men. But he that perverteth his ways That walks perversely, or in crooked and sinful paths; that acts hypocritically and deceitfully with God, or with men; shall be known His wickedness shall be publicly discovered, and so he shall be exposed to all that shame and punishment which his sins deserve, and which he thought by his craft and subtlety to avoid.

Verse 10

Proverbs 10:10. He that winketh with his eye That secretly and cunningly designs mischiefs against others: see on Proverbs 6:13: causeth sorrow To others, and afterward to himself; but Or, and, as it is in the Hebrew; for vice is not here opposed to virtue, as it is in many other proverbs, but one vice is compared with another; a prating fool Who is so far from such deceits, that he runs into the other extreme, and utters all his mind, as is said of the fool, Proverbs 29:11, and thereby speaks many things offensive to others, and mischievous to himself.

Verse 11

Proverbs 10:11. The mouth of a righteous man is a well of life Continually sending forth waters of life, or such words as are refreshing and useful, both to himself and others, both for the preserving of natural life, the promoting of spiritual, and ensuring of eternal life; but violence, &c. See on Proverbs 10:6. As the mouth of a good man speaketh those things which are good and beneficial to himself and others, so the mouth of a wicked man uttereth violence, or injury, or things injurious to others, which at last fall upon himself.

Verse 12

Proverbs 10:12. Hatred stirreth up strife Upon every slight occasion, by filling men’s minds with suspicions and surmises, whereby they imagine faults where there are none, and aggravate every small offence; but love covereth all sins Either doth not severely observe, or willingly forgives and forgets the injuries and offences of others, and so prevents contention and mischief.

Verses 13-14

Proverbs 10:13-14. In the lips, &c., wisdom is found His wisdom shows itself in his prudent speeches, by which he escapes that rod which fools meet with, and gains that reputation and advantage to himself which fools lose; but a rod is for the back of him He may expect rebukes and punishments from God and men; that is void of understanding That shows his folly by his foolish words. Wise men lay up Namely, in their minds, to be brought forth upon fit occasions; knowledge By which they may be enabled to speak both what and when it is seasonable; but the mouth of fools is near destruction Fools are more forward to lay out than to lay up, and, for want of knowledge, speak much and foolishly, and thereby frequently bring destruction upon themselves.

Verse 15

Proverbs 10:15. The rich man’s wealth is his strong city It often redeems him from dangers and calamities: or it is such in his own imagination, as it is explained Proverbs 18:11. It makes him confident and secure. The destruction of the poor The cause of their destruction; is their poverty Which often renders them friendless, defenceless, and exposed to the injuries of the malicious and cruel. Or, as מחתת may be rendered, it is their terror, or consternation. It deprives them of courage and confidence, sinks their spirits, and fills them with fear and despair. Thus it destroys their comforts; whereas they might live very comfortably, although they had but little to live on, if they would but be content, keep a good conscience, and live by faith in the providence and promises of God.

Verse 16

Proverbs 10:16. The labour of the righteous tendeth to life The design of his labour is only this, that he may have wherewith to live honestly, without making use of any sinful shifts. Or rather, the fruit or effect of his labour and industry is the preservation of this life, and the obtaining of eternal life, to which an honest and conscientious diligence in a man’s calling greatly contributes. The fruit of the wicked The fruit of all their labours and endeavours; to sin Tendeth to sin, serves only for fuel to feed their pride, luxury, and worldly-mindedness, and by that means often causes, or, at least, hastens temporal death, and always, without repentance, issues in eternal death.

Verse 17

Proverbs 10:17 . He is in the way of life The way which leadeth to life and blessedness; that keepeth instruction That observeth the wholesome counsels of God and good men: but he that refuseth reproof erreth Namely, from the way of life, or into the ways of sin, and so of death. Hebrew, מתעה , causeth to err, or seduceth, namely, himself: he knowingly and willingly exposes himself to temptation and wickedness, because he rejects that admonition which is a proper preservative from it.

Verse 18

Proverbs 10:18. He that hideth hatred with lying lips With flattering words, and false pretences of friendship; and he that uttereth slander That is, both of them, one no less than the other; is a fool Because a sinner; and because the mischief of these things will fall upon himself. So he condemns two opposite vices, secret hatred and manifest slander.

Verses 20-21

Proverbs 10:20-21. The tongue of the just is as choice silver Of great worth and use, bringing credit to himself, and great benefit to others; the heart of the wicked is little worth And consequently his tongue, which speaketh out of the abundance of the heart, Matthew 12:34. The lips of the righteous feed many By their wise and pious discourses, counsels, and comforts, which are so many evidences of their wisdom: but fools die for want of wisdom They have not wisdom to preserve themselves, much less to feed others.

Verse 22

Proverbs 10:22. The blessing of the Lord maketh rich Riches are not gotten merely by wisdom or diligence, but also, and especially, by God’s favour and blessing; and addeth no sorrow with it Namely, with that blessing which gives riches, but adds content and comfort with them, which is a singular gift and blessing of God: whereas the riches which wicked men gain are attended with the divine curse, with many discontents, tormenting cares, and fears, with horrors of conscience, and with the just dread of being called to an account by God, and punished for the misemployment and abuse of them.

Verse 23

Proverbs 10:23. It is as sport to a fool to do mischief Or, as some render it, to work wickedness; yea, great and premeditated wickedness, as the word here used, זמה , properly signifies: he doth it with ease and delight, and without any shame, or remorse, or fear. But a man of understanding hath wisdom Whereby he is kept from committing wickedness, and especially from sporting himself with it. But this last clause is rendered by many, And so is wisdom to a man of understanding: it is a sport or pleasure to him to practise wisdom or piety. Which translation makes the opposition between the two clauses more evident. Bishop Patrick thus paraphrases the verse: “A senseless sinner makes a jest of the most horrid impieties that can be committed by himself or others: but a man that weighs things wisely, considers that this is no laughing matter; and takes that pleasure in doing well which fools take in mischievous wickedness.”

Verses 24-25

Proverbs 10:24-25. The fear of the wicked The evil which he feared, or hath cause to fear; it shall come upon him Notwithstanding his cunning contrivances, and various efforts to prevent it. Indeed “wicked men frequently draw upon themselves what they feared, by the very means whereby they studied to avoid it; a remarkable example whereof, Bochart observes, we have in the builders of the tower of Babel: the very remedy of the evil they wished to avoid leading them directly to it.” And it may be added, a much more remarkable one we have in the Jews, who crucified Christ. For they put him to death lest the Romans should come and take away their place (their temple) and nation: see John 11:48-53: and their putting him to death was the very thing which, in the just judgment of God, brought the Roman armies upon them to their utter destruction as a nation. But the desire of the righteous shall be granted God will not only prevent the mischiefs which they fear, but will grant them the good things which they desire. As the whirlwind passeth Which is suddenly gone, though with great noise and violence; so is the wicked no more

His power and felicity are lost in an instant; but the righteous is Or hath, an everlasting, &c. His hope and happiness are built upon a sure and immoveable foundation.

Verse 26

Proverbs 10:26. As vinegar to the teeth Which, by its coldness and sharpness, it offends; and as smoke, &c., so is the sluggard Unserviceable and vexatious. “A negligent, dilatory servant vexes those who send him, just as keen vinegar gives pain to the teeth, and bitter smoke torments the eyes.” Schultens.

Verses 27-28

Proverbs 10:27-28. The fear of the Lord prolongeth days For it gives those who are influenced by it a title to the promise of long life, as well as to other promises; it gladdens their hearts, which does good like a medicine, Proverbs 17:22; and it preserves them from those wicked practices which tend to the shortening of a man’s days. The hope of the righteous shall be gladness Though at present it be mixed with doubts, and fears, and disappointments, yet at last it shall be accomplished and turned into enjoyment; but the expectation of the wicked, &c. Shall be utterly frustrated, and so shall end in sorrow.

Verses 29-30

Proverbs 10:29-30. The way of the Lord Either, 1st, The course of his providence in the government of the world: or rather, 2d, The way of God’s precepts, commonly meant by that expression in the Scriptures; is strength to the upright Gives them strength, support, and protection. But destruction Hebrew, מחתה , terror, or consternation, and destruction consequent thereupon; shall be to the workers of iniquity They shall not only not inherit the earth, though they lay up treasure in it; but they shall not so much as inhabit it, Proverbs 10:30; God’s judgments will root them out. The design of these two verses is to show that piety is the only true policy.

Verses 31-32

Proverbs 10:31-32. The mouth of the just bringeth forth wisdom It freely, abundantly, and constantly brings forth wise counsels, as the earth or a tree brings forth its proper fruit, as the word ינוב , here used, properly signifies; but the froward tongue shall be cut off Because it brings forth, not wisdom, but folly and wickedness. The lips of the righteous know Namely, practically, so as to consider and speak; what is acceptable To God and good men, or what is truly worthy of acceptation; for this is opposed to what is froward or wicked in the next clause. Knowledge is here ascribed to the lips, as it is to the hands, Psalms 78:72, because they are conducted by knowledge and wisdom.

Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Proverbs 10". Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/proverbs-10.html. 1857.
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