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Bible Commentaries
Proverbs 19

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


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

Verses 1-2

Proverbs 19:1-2. Better is the poor Hebrew, רשׁ , a poor man; that walketh in his integrity Who is upright in his words and actions; he has a better character, is in a better condition, is more beloved, lives to better purpose, and is greater and more excellent in the eyes of God, and of all wise and good men; than he that is perverse in his lips Who is in the habit of uttering sinful and mischievous expressions, however high he may be in rank, wealth, or dignity. Also, that the soul be without knowledge Without wisdom or prudence to discern the right way of speaking and acting, and how a person ought to conduct himself in all affairs, and on all occasions; is not good Is of evil and pernicious consequence; and he that hasteth with his feet That rashly and hastily rushes into actions without serious consideration; sinneth Contracts guilt, and involves himself, and perhaps also many others, into difficulties and troubles. “Solomon, in this verse,” says Bishop Patrick, “observes two great springs of all our miscarriages; want of understanding and want of deliberation. To make too much haste in a business is the way not to speed; and to run blindly upon any thing is no less prejudicial to our undertakings. Both he that affects things without knowledge, and he that pursues what he understands without deliberation, runs into many mistakes, and commits many sins. For which Solomon shows in the next verse that he must blame none but himself, and never, in the least, reflect upon God as if he were negligent of us, or hard to us; which men are prone to think, when they have foolishly undone themselves.”

Verse 5

Proverbs 19:5. A false witness shall not be unpunished Though he escape the observation and punishment of men, yet he shall not avoid the judgment of God. And he that speaketh lies That accustoms himself to lying, either in giving evidence in courts of justice, or in common conversation; shall not escape The righteous judgment of God, though he may flatter himself with hopes of impunity, for the Lord is jealous of his honour, and will not suffer his name to be profaned.

Verses 6-7

Proverbs 19:6-7 . Many will entreat the favour of the prince Or, of the liberal, or bountiful man, as נדיב may be properly rendered. Kings and princes were anciently called benefactors, Luke 22:25. And every man is a friend to him that giveth gifts Not sincerely, however, as daily experience shows, but only in show, or profession, or in the outward expressions of friendship and kindness. All the brethren of the poor His nearest and dearest relations, who are often called brethren in the Scriptures; do hate him Despise and shun him, as men do a thing that they hate, and as the following words explain it; How much more do his friends go far from him His other friends, who are no way related to him, but in his prosperity professed love and friendship to him. He pursueth them with words Earnestly imploring their pity and help. Or, He urgeth their words, as מרד Š אמרים may be rendered; that is, he allegeth their former promises and professions of friendship: or, He seeketh words, (as the preacher sought to find out acceptable words, Ecclesiastes 12:10,) wherewith he might prevail and move them to pity; yet they are wanting to him Hebrew, לא המה , not they, or, they not. The meaning is, they are not what they pretended to be, namely, friends to him: or, their words are vain, and without effect; there is no reality in them. Houbigant renders the verse, “All his own brethren hate a poor man; how much more his neighbours! They have departed far from him; he followeth after them, but they are not found.”

Verse 8

Proverbs 19:8. He that getteth wisdom That takes pains, and labours to get knowledge, grace, and acquaintance with God; loveth his own soul Or, loveth himself, because he procures great and lasting, yea, everlasting good to himself, as sinners, on the contrary, are said to hate their souls, chap. 29:24, because they bring evil upon them; he that keepeth understanding That observes, and carefully practises its precepts; shall find good Shall have great benefit by it, both for his conduct in this life, and for his happiness in the next.

Verse 10

Proverbs 19:10. Delight is not seemly for a fool To live in affluence, pleasure, and outward glory, doth not become him, nor suit with him; because prosperity corrupts even wise men, and makes fools mad; and because it gives him more opportunity to discover his folly, and to do mischief both to himself and others. He implies that a rod, or punishment, is fitter for him than pleasure; much less for a servant For one who has been a slave, or who is in a servile condition, and of a servile disposition, not much differing from a fool; or who is a servant to his lusts, and wholly unfit to rule other men; to have rule over princes Over men of better quality than himself: for servants are commonly ignorant; and when they are advanced, they grow insolent, presumptuous, and intolerable.

Verse 11

Proverbs 19:11. The discretion of a man deferreth his anger Defers the admission of anger, till he has thoroughly considered all the merits of the provocation, seen them in a true light, and weighed them in a just balance; and then defers the prosecution of it, till there be no danger of going into indecencies of speech or behaviour. Plato said to his servant, “I would beat thee if I were not angry.” And it is his glory to pass over a transgression Not to revenge a wrong, or an affront, when he hath an opportunity. This is opposed to the perverse judgment of worldly men, who account it folly and stupidity not quickly to resent a provocation, and a dishonour and reproach not to revenge it.

Verse 12

Proverbs 19:12. The king’s wrath is as the roaring of a lion The words of a king in anger are as much to be feared as the roaring of a lion; but his favour is as dew upon the grass Any token of his favour and kindness is as comfortable as the dew which refreshes the grass and herbs, parched by the hot beams of the sun.

Verse 13

Proverbs 19:13. A foolish son, &c. Two things make a man exceeding unhappy, a dissolute son, and a contentious wife: for the former is a perpetual grief to his father, to see him likely to prove the utter destruction of his family; and the quarrels of a wife spoil a man’s happiness, like perpetual droppings, which wear away what they fall upon.

Verse 14

Proverbs 19:14. House and riches are the inheritance of fathers, &c. Parents may bestow on their children houses, and lands, and riches; but a prudent wife is from the Lord Is vouchsafed to a man by the singular providence of God, who is the only searcher and ruler of hearts, exactly discerning who are prudent or pious, (with regard to which the judgments even of wise men are frequently mistaken,) and inclining the hearts of persons one toward another. So that when such a wife falls to the lot of any one, he should look upon it as a singular favour of God to him, for which he ought to be very thankful.

Verse 15

Proverbs 19:15. Slothfulness casteth into a deep sleep “As labour makes men vigorous and rich, so sloth and idleness have these two miserable effects, that they insensibly sink the mind into a dull stupidity and unconcernedness about the most necessary things, and thereby reduce a man to extreme want and beggary; to which may be added a third, that they tempt him to shift and use dishonest arts for a livelihood.” Bishop Patrick.

Verse 17

Proverbs 19:17. He that hath pity on the poor And relieves their necessities; lendeth unto the Lord Doth not empoverish, but enrich himself: for the Lord takes what is done to them as done to himself, because it is done to those whom he has appointed in his own stead to be his receivers, and whom he hath, in a peculiar manner, commended to the care and charity of all other men. He therefore will not fail to make a full compensation; he will return the benefit done to others, with large interest and increase of blessings, upon the beneficent man and his posterity.

Verse 18

Proverbs 19:18. Chasten thy son while there is hope Before custom in sin, and thy indulgence have made him hard-hearted and incorrigible; and let not thy soul spare for his crying Forbear not to give him due and necessary correction, through a foolish and destructive pity, excited by his tears and cries; for it is better he should cry under thy rod, than under the sword of the magistrate, or, which is more to be feared, that of divine vengeance.

Verse 19

Proverbs 19:19. A man of great wrath Or, he who is of great wrath, that is, of strong passions; who is of a fierce and furious temper; shall suffer punishment Will certainly bring great mischiefs upon himself; for if thou deliver him If any parent, relation, or friend deliver him out of one trouble, through his ungovernable temper he will soon involve himself in another; and thou must do it again Thou wilt soon find it necessary to interpose for his deliverance a second, third, or even fourth time: all which trouble to themselves and others would be prevented if such men would look unto God for grace to enable them to mortify their passions, and to get the rule of their own spirits.

Verse 20

Proverbs 19:20. Hear counsel, &c. Be willing to be taught and ruled; to be advised and reproved, when thou art young; that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end Before thy death come. Which he adds, not exclusively, as if a man ought not to be wise before, but emphatically, to show that how foolishly soever he may have spent his former and younger years, it highly and especially concerns him to be wise before it is too late, or before death comes.

Verse 21

Proverbs 19:21. There are many devices in a man’s heart Which shall not stand, but be disappointed; many designs and contrivances, which he thinks to be so well devised and planned that they cannot miscarry. Nevertheless, the counsel of the Lord Which ofttimes contradicts, and therefore overrules or defeats the designs and purposes of men; that shall stand Shall certainly be fulfilled, and bring to pass whatever he pleases.

Verses 22-23

Proverbs 19:22-23. The desire of a man is his kindness This expression is obscure, and will admit of several interpretations. The Seventy render it, Καρπος ανδρι ελεημοσυνη , alms-giving, or charity, is fruit to a man. The meaning, Le Clerc thinks, is, that there is no virtue a man ought to be so desirous of as benignity, or a generous, charitable spirit, as it is the greatest ornament of human nature, and the strongest bond of human society; which if any one wants, however rich he may be, yet he is despised. Others think, that if it be considered as connected with the following clause, the most natural construction is, “A man shows his kindness by his will, or desire to do good; and in this respect a poor man, who would be beneficent if he could, is better than a liar, that is, than a rich man, who makes a profession of kindness, but does not perform it. The Seventy read this latter clause, A poor righteous man is better than a rich man who is a liar: and the Syriac renders it, A poor man is better than a deceitful rich one. The fear of the Lord tendeth to life To holiness and happiness here and hereafter; in other words, nothing makes a man so comfortable to himself, and so useful to others, as a religious care to please God in all things; and he that hath it shall abide satisfied Shall want nothing, and shall be fully contented with God’s favour and blessing; he shall not be visited with evil With any destructive calamity. But the Hebrew text of the verse being obscure, interpreters have taken it in different senses. Houbigant renders it, The fear, &c., tendeth to life, and he who is filled with it shall sleep, or pass his nights, free from all evil. Schultens and Grey interpret it, The fear of Jehovah indeed is life; but he who sleeps in carnal security shall not be free from evil: see Deuteronomy 32:15. The Seventy read it, The fear of the Lord is to a man’s life; but he that is without fear (namely, of God) shall abide in places where there is no knowledge to govern him; that is, shall run blindly into all manner of mischief.

Verse 24

Proverbs 19:24. A slothful man hideth his hand in his bosom Either to keep it warm in cold weather, or to give it rest, being unwilling to fatigue it with the labour of any action; and will not bring it to his mouth again Namely, to feed himself; as if he expected that the meat should drop into his mouth. “It is a most elegant, but hyperbolical, description of a man who hath given himself up to sloth; who refuses to do things as easy as pulling his hand out of his bosom, and as necessary as eating and drinking.”

Verse 25

Proverbs 19:25. Smite a scorner An obstinate and impudent transgressor, a derider of religion and virtue, who rejects and scorns all admonition: that is, punish him; and the simple will beware Though the punishment do him no good, yet other inconsiderate persons, who sin, it may be, through ignorance, imprudence, or infirmity, will be awakened by it to a better way of thinking and acting; who, if they saw him pass with impunity, would be apt to follow his example. And reprove one that hath understanding, &c. A verbal reproof will be more effectual for his reformation than the severest punishments will be to that of a scorner.

Verse 26

Proverbs 19:26. He that wasteth his father That is, his father’s estate, by unjust or riotous courses; and chaseth away his mother Causes her to avoid and abhor his presence and society, and to go from the house where he is; is a son that causeth shame Both to himself, and to his parents and family. But this verse ought rather to be rendered, A son that causeth shame, and bringeth reproach, wasteth his father, and chaseth away his mother; that is, as some interpret it, he gives them as much concern as if he were to waste his father’s substance, and turn his mother out of doors.

Verse 27

Proverbs 19:27. Cease, my son, to hear the instruction, &c. If thou hast done it formerly, yet do not now, any longer, hearken to those false doctrines, or evil counsels, which tend to withdraw thee from the belief or practice of God’s holy word. Or, as Bishop Patrick interprets the verse, “My son, beware of their discourse, who, under the show of greater learning, seduce thee from the plain doctrines of virtue; or, if thou hast been unhappily engaged in such company, quit it presently, and stick to those that honestly instruct thee; for, remember this, to leave off hearing the instruction of good men, is the first step toward a departure from all religion.”

Verse 28

Proverbs 19:28. An ungodly witness scorneth judgment Hath no reverence to the place of justice, nor to the presence of God there, nor to that sacred and solemn work, of executing judgment, but, in spite of all, gives in a false testimony. And the mouth of the wicked devoureth iniquity Uttereth it with as great greediness, delight, and ease, as they swallow down delicious meats and drinks; or, is as eager to commit it in word and deed, as if it were as necessary to their well-being as the food they eat.

Verse 29

Proverbs 19:29 . Judgments are prepared for scorners Either by men, or, at least, by God; although they be deferred for a time, yet they are treasured up for them, and shall infallibly be inflicted upon them: and stripes for the back of fools Nor shall other sinners escape, who sin through want of consideration, but they also shall be punished, though in a less degree.

Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Proverbs 19". Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/proverbs-19.html. 1857.
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