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Bible Commentaries
Proverbs 10

Whedon's Commentary on the BibleWhedon's Commentary


The Proverbs of Solomon:


Here begin the PROVERBS proper, the “nucleus of the book.” What has preceded is the introductory discourse or lecture. There is no difficulty in regarding the first nine chapters as one composition. If actually read, it would not be too long for one occasion, and the various parts are about as well connected as in the most of our modern lectures. Indeed, the unities are well preserved. It is possible that the first six verses of chapter first, which contain the title and preface, may have been prefixed subsequently to the composition of that admirable introductory discourse, and of the whole work. The remainder of the book is of a different character and form, especially from Proverbs 10:1 to Proverbs 22:16. We have no longer a train of continued thought running on from verse to verse, but nearly every verse is independent of that which precedes and of that which succeeds. They might in general be inverted and transposed at pleasure, without any material injury to the sense, or diminution of the effect of the whole. They were divinely intended to form the Hebrew character to prudence and integrity by the principles of universal morality, and so are suitable for all times and peoples.

It, is not probable that all these Proverbs were original with Solomon. Many of them were, doubtless, the results of his own observation and experience; but others, perhaps long in use, were gathered from other sources; being, however, such as his judgment approved, he gave them a place in his collection.

It is the opinion of some critics that Solomon did not write, but spoke the proverbs, and that they were taken down in writing by others, at different times; that from the various collections thus made by different scribes of the three thousand proverbs which he spake, (compare 1 Kings 4:32,) those contained in this book are what were deemed worthy of preservation for after ages. They seem to have been arranged, by Solomon or others, chiefly according to their form, in two separate volumes, rolls, or memoranda, one of which extends from chapter x to chapter xv, inclusive, and which consists almost exclusively of antithetic parallelisms; the other, from chapter 16 to Proverbs 22:16, which consists chiefly of synthetic parallelisms. Every verse, in both parts, makes a complete sentence. There is rarely even a similarity of subject in two successive verses. Even the two parts of the same verse seldom so run into each other as to form a compound sentence, in which one number is dependent on the other. There are a few exceptions to this in the 20th chapter. This is altogether different from the method of the first nine chapters, and is not so rigidly observed in what follows Proverbs 22:16.

1. A wise son… glad father Gladdens his father.

A foolish son כסיל , ( kesil.) The radical idea is that of dullness, stiffness, grossness, rudeness; when applied to the mind, as here, it is the opposite of that refinement, culture, and intelligence, or the capability of them, which חכם , ( hhakham,) wise, implies. It has been suggested that the idea lies half concealed in the verse, that a father, in general, is better qualified to appreciate the mental qualities of a good and wise son, and the mother is more affected by the grossness and rudeness of an evil and foolish one.

This is not wholly improbable, yet too much stress is not to be laid on these niceties, which seem to overlook the nature of the Hebrew parallelism. Comp. Proverbs 1:8; Proverbs 15:20; Proverbs 17:0; Proverbs 25:23-24. For the expression heaviness, compare Proverbs 14:13; Proverbs 17:21; Psalms 119:22.

Verse 2

2. Treasures of wickedness Gotten by unjust and fraudulent means; “ill got, ill gone.” The Septuagint renders this clause, “Treasures shall not profit the lawless.”

Righteousness delivereth from death That is, from the “death” which is the punishment of crime; while treasures obtained by fraud and robbery often bring after them an untimely death. Comp. Proverbs 10:25; Proverbs 10:27, also Proverbs 11:4. On first clause comp. Romans 2:5. etc.; 1Ki 21:19 ; 2 Kings 5:26-27; Isaiah 10:2, etc.; Luke 19:21: on second clause compare Jeremiah 33:6; Daniel 4:19; Daniel 9:24. This righteousness includes liberality to others, (Proverbs 10:4,) and brings the Lord’s mercy with it. Comp. Psalms 41:1-2; Psalms 112:9; Dan 4:27 ; 2 Corinthians 9:9.

Verse 3

3. Soul of the righteous נפשׁ צדיק , ( nephesh tsaddik.) Nephesh is a word of various and multitudinous signification, and extensive use. It probably means here the person or body, considered especially in respect to the animal appetites. We have no word expressing the meaning it has in this place. Desire or appetite (for food) comes as near as any other Jehovah will not famish the desire or appetite of the righteous, he will not let it go unsatisfied, or “starve the righteous appetite.” Miller.

Substance הות , ( havvath,) is also a word which may be variously rendered. As it stands in parallelism with nephesh, desire, it may be rendered cravings. This accords with the latest criticism. The whole verse imports that Jehovah will not starve (refuse to satisfy) the desire of the righteous, but the cravings of the wicked he will disappoint. Comp. Psalms 10:14, etc.; Psalms 37:25.

Verse 4

4. Slack hand Idle, languid, or loose, in opposition to expert; the word is rendered “deceitful” in Job 13:9; Psalm 122:23; Hosea 9:16; Jeremiah 48:10, where, however, “negligently” appears in the margin as an alternate. The two ideas of negligence and trickiness are “nearly” allied, as negligence tempts to trickery and deceit. Comp. Proverbs 12:24; Proverbs 12:27; Proverbs 19:15.

Verse 5

5. A wise son בן משׂכיל , ( ben maskil,) a prudent or prosperous son, in whom his parents glory.

A son that causeth shame Or, causing disappointment; that is, to his parents, acting shamefully or wickedly. “A bad son.” Zockler. “He that stores in summer; he that snores in harvest.” Miller. Comp. Proverbs 6:8-9, seq.

Verse 6

6. Blessings ברכות , ( berakhoth,) the plural of intensity, abundant blessings, blessings from God and man.

But violence covereth the mouth of the wicked By “violence” is probably meant the effect of the man’s own violence; which shall return upon him in curses; in parallelism with the “blessings” of the first number. “Mouth” is possibly put by metonymy for face. There is some difficulty in adjusting the parallelism. Stuart renders, The mouth of the wicked concealeth injury; that is, the injury he meditates. The form of the words would allow this; but it does not make a good counterpart to the preceding member. The Septuagint has for חמס , ( hhamas,) violence, πενθος αωπον , penthos aoron, an untimely mourning; but seems, like Stuart and others, to have taken hhamas in the predicate. Taken in the subject, it makes a good antithesis. Translation: Benediction (shall be) on the head of the just; but an untimely mourning (or burial) shall cover the mouth (face) of the wicked. Comp. Proverbs 10:11; also, on latter clause, Leviticus 13:45; Psalms 44:15; Psalms 107:42; Micah 7:10; Esther 7:8. Covering of the face, as in the case of Haman, was a sign of being devoted to death.

Verse 7

7. Blessed Literally, for a blessing; which some understand to be such to others. “He blesses after he is dead.” Comp. Psalm 9:56; Ecclesiastes 8:10; Psalms 112:6.

Shall rot Shall be rotten, carious, worm-eaten; that is, loathsome. The Septuagint reads, “Shall be extinguished.” It stands opposed to the honours paid to the righteous.

Verse 8

8. Commandments Probably in the sense of instruction, advice, precept.

A prating fool Foolish of lips; he who is foolish with his lips has more tongue than brains.

Shall fall The Septuagint, “Shall be tripped up.” Stuart, “Shall rush headlong.” The antithesis lies chiefly in receiving, that is, accepting, advice, in the one case, and the implied non-acceptance of it in the other, which is expressed by its consequences, he shall be tripped up, or overthrown. The intimation is, that this will occur from his empty loquacity.

Verse 9

9. Walketh uprightly Or, in integrity.

Surely Better, securely, safely. The Septuagint, “He that walketh simply, sincerely, walketh confidently.”

Shall be known Shall be discovered, like our expression “shall be found out;” consequently, shall not be safe. On first clause compare Psalms 23:4; Isaiah 33:15-16.

Verse 10

10. Winketh with the eye Compare Proverbs 6:13. As an action of malice and mischief; as we say, to wink behind one’s back, insinuating something malicious and calumnious. Miller reads: “He of the lowering eye.”

But Rather, and, here, as this is not an antithetic, but a synthetic, verse. This clause is the same as that in the 8th verse, and from this fact, and also because it is not antithetic to the preceding clause, some have suspected an error in the text. It has been conjectured that some early copyist, instead of writing the proper clause here, copied this by mistake from the 8th verse, where these words properly belong, instead of the one appropriate to the place. The Septuagint has, “But he that reproveth with freedom maketh peace.” The internal evidence would suggest this reading; but later criticism is against it. Zockler says, “This appears rather to be an attempted emendation, the result of well-meaning reflection rather than the restoration of an original Hebrew text.”

Verse 11

11. A well of life Comp, Proverbs 13:14; Proverbs 18:4. A fountain continually sending forth refreshing and wholesome speech. But violence, etc. This is the same as the latter clause of Proverbs 10:6, which see.

Covereth Perhaps the meaning of the word here is over-spreads, spreads abroad, or covers over, as the waters do the sea, in which the idea of abundance exists. The verb is in the intensive form. If, with some, we take pi, “mouth,” as the nominative, we can make out the antithesis; but the mouth of the wicked covers over with (spreads abroad) violence, injury; that is, does great injury; in opposition to the good which is done by the mouth of the righteous. On first clause compare Psalms 37:30; Ephesians 4:29; Ecclesiastes 10:12; Matthew 12:34; James 3:5-6.

Verse 12

12. Stirreth up Rather, uncovers strifes, quarrels. The root of the verb has several meanings; one is, to make bare, uncover. This may have some reference to תכסה , ( tekhasseh,) covers, in the second clause: but love ( tekhasseh) covers over all transgression; that is, forgives them. Comp. Proverbs 17:9; Jas 5:20 ; 1 Peter 4:8; 1 Corinthians 13:0. Tekhasseh (in the preceding verse also rendered “covereth”) is here accompanied with על , ‘hal, over, which more distinctly gives it the sense named. The idea may be, that a hateful, unamiable man uncovers (makes bare, and keeps before his mind’s eye, remembers in an unforgiving spirit) the strifes or quarrels, and their causes, in which he is interested; while a loving, well disposed man covers up, forgives, and forgets transgressions against himself. The common understanding, that of concealing the faults or sins of friends, is also a good sense. It is not impossible that both meanings may be intended. These artistically arranged sentences often partake of the enigmatical.

There is something in them to exercise the mind, to think about, to guess out.

Verse 13

13. Understanding נבון , ( nabhon,) the discreet man.

Wisdom is found Which will preserve him from evil, especially such as would subject him to punishment.

But a rod is (found) for the back of him that is void of understanding חסר לב , ( hhasar lebh,) lacking heart; that is, intelligence; wisdom preserves from punishment, but folly subjects one to it. Compare Proverbs 26:3; Proverbs 19:29. Miller renders it, “In the lips of the discerning wisdom is found, but a rod for the back of the senseless;” that is, the rod is found in the lips of the discerning. On first clause comp. Luke 4:22.

Verse 14

14. Lay up Treasures up, in the memory, useful knowledge. Compare Proverbs 10:8. Is near destruction Destruction is near by, imminent. The sense is, that knowledge treasured up by the wise preserves from calamity; but folly, which is pre-eminently shown by the mouth, plunges one speedily into it. Miller carries forward the verb, lay up, and renders the last clause, “but the mouth of the fool (stores up) early rain.” On first clause compare Matthew 12:35; Matthew 13:52; Psalms 119:11.

Verse 15

15. Wealth… poverty Riches, properly obtained, naturally secure their owner against many evils; whereas poverty exposes to injury and abuse. A simple statement of facts. Comp. Proverbs 18:11.

Verse 16

16. Fruit Income, increase, earnings, (tendeth) to sin, and “sin bringeth forth death,” in antithesis to the life of the first clause. This is a good illustration of the fact that the antithesis in these proverbs is often implied or intimated, and is to be inferred from what is said. Rueetschi well observes: “It is, in general, a peculiar charm of many proverbs that the parallelism is not perfectly clear; but it remains the function of the reader to seek out the intermediate thoughts and to make the deductions.” On latter clause compare 1 Timothy 6:10.

Verse 17

17. He is in the way of life “A way of life is he that heedeth instruction.” Zockler. So, substantially, Stuart and Miller. “He is himself a way to life.” As Miller says, “He blazes the way to heaven.”

Erreth מתעה ( math’heh;) causes others to err, leads astray. The sense of the verse is: The way of life (to others) is he that pre-serveth discipline; but he that neglects admonition causeth (others) to err; that is, he permits them to err by his neglect to admonish them. So, substantially, Zockler, Stuart, Conant, Fausset, Miller, etc.

Verse 18

18. Hideth מכסה , ( mekhasseh,) covereth. (See Proverbs 10:6; Proverbs 10:12.)

Lying lips Hebrews, lips of lying: the Hebrew way of saying, He is a liar.

Uttereth a slander Literally, causes a murmur an evil report to go forth. The verse is difficult, and probably our version has missed the sense. Stuart renders, “He who concealeth hatred is of lying lips, and he who uttereth slander is a fool.” The Septuagint, for “lying lips,” reads righteous lips, which is not approved. Rueetschi, whom Miller follows, contends that the two clauses make but one proposition, rendering them, “He that hides hatred with lying lips, but puts forth slander, is himself the fool.” But the Speaker’s Commentary has, “He who hideth hatred is of lying lips,” and remarks: “The alternative is offered with a delicate touch of irony. He who cherishes hatred must choose between being a knave or a fool a knave if he hides it, a fool if he utters it.” Compare Proverbs 12:19-22; Proverbs 26:24.

Verse 19

19. Wanteth not sin Offence or trespass.

Wise A prudent or prosperous man. For a comment on this verse see Ecclesiastes 1:1-7; compare, also, Proverbs 13:3, Proverbs 13:17, 27, 28; James 1:19; James 1:26; James 3:2; Psalms 39:1.

Verse 20

20. Tongue of the just The words, discourse.

Choice silver See Proverbs 8:19.

Heart Intelligence or thought. The heart and the tongue have a common relation to discourse in producing it. The one conceives, the other utters.

Little worth A little thing, a scrap, a filing, as we say, of little account.

Verse 21

21. Feed many Instruct them with their wisdom and guiding counsels.

But fools The unwise. With the wise there is abundance, with the unwise, famine. The antithesis lies between that which is implied in the first member, plenty, and that which is expressed in the second, “want,” lack, poverty. Compare Proverbs 10:11; Proverbs 10:17.

Verse 22

22. It maketh rich No man can conquer by his toil alone. Wealth, when the Lord bestows it and it is rightly used, does not necessarily bring or increase sorrow.

Verse 23

23. It is as sport Better, It is sport.

Mischief Not strong enough. It denotes wickedness or crime. The Septuagint renders the latter clause of the verse, “But wisdom brings prudence to a man.”

Verse 24

24. The fear of the wicked That is, that which is feared.

Shall come upon him Usually in the present life, certainly in the life to come. There is no avoiding punishment but by avoiding sin.

Desire of the righteous shall be granted Literally, He (Jehovah) shall grant it. On first clause compare Job 3:15; Job 15:21; Psalms 34:4; Isaiah 66:4; Proverbs 11:27.

Verse 25

25. So is the wicked no more Literally, then the wicked is not; that is, the whirlwind sweeps them away, or they pass away quickly like the whirlwind.

But the righteous An everlasting foundation is theirs. The antithesis lies between the evanescence of the wicked and the stability of the righteous. Compare Psalms 125:1; Psalms 37:27; Psalms 15:5; Job 1:19; Isaiah 28:18-19; Proverbs 1:27; Matthew 7:24, etc. The rabbins applied the latter clause to the Messiah, as the Just One, the Everlasting Foundation, on whom the world was established.

Verse 26

26. As… smoke… so is the sluggard Not an antithetic verse, but a similitude easily apprehended. A sluggard is an annoyance, as is acid to the teeth or smoke to the eyes.

Vinegar Sour wine. Compare Numbers 6:3; Psalms 69:21; Ruth 2:14.

Verse 27

27. Prolongeth Literally, addeth.

Shortened Cut off short, curtailed, because they feared not Jehovah. Compare Proverbs 3:2; Proverbs 9:11; Proverbs 14:27; Psalms 55:23; Ecclesiastes 7:17; Ecclesiastes 8:12-13.

Verse 28

28. Shall be gladness Shall be fulfilled, and so produce gladness. Compare Proverbs 11:7; Job 8:13; Job 11:20; Psalms 112:10; Psalms 119:0; Romans 8:24; Romans 5:2; Romans 12:12; Romans 15:13; 2Th 2:16 ; 1 John 3:2-3.

Verse 29

29. Way of the Lord The divine order, or providence.

Is strength A bulwark, or defence, or fortress, to the upright; לתם , lattom, to the perfect.

But destruction… workers of iniquity It destroys them.

Thus, “the Lord’s way” has two sides it defends the righteous, but visits the incorrigibly wicked with destruction. Compare Psalms 18:30; Deuteronomy 32:4; Hosea 14:9; Proverbs 21:15; Psalm 17:30.

Verse 30

30. Removed Rather, moved from the earth, or land, namely, Palestine. But under this proverb lies a more general truth. Compare Proverbs 2:21-22; Psalms 37:22; Psalms 125:1; Matthew 5:5.

Verse 31

31. Bringeth forth Puts forth, blooms or bears; a figure taken from the habit of a fruitful tree.

Froward tongue A tongue of perversities. “Tongue” is used by metonymy for the person, as (Psalms 120:3) “Thou false tongue.”

Cut out Or, cut off, like a branch; or, cut up, like a worthless tree. The idea is, that the righteous man, like a wholesome tree, yields fruits of wisdom, (Psalms 92:14,) consequently shall be valued and preserved; but the perverter, who turns men from the right, shall be cut down. See Matthew 3:10; Matthew 7:19.

Verse 32

32. Lips of the righteous know Distinguish and relish have a taste for that which is רצון , ( ratson,) acceptable, pleasing, that which is good, right, and kind.

But… speaketh frowardness Relishes perversities that which is bad. The righteous finds, as if instinctively, what is acceptable; his lips naturally utter it, while the wicked man knows only that which is distorted or perverse, and his mouth speaks only this. As is his character so is his speech. Miller’s translation is worthy of respect: “The lips of the righteous man are instinct with kindness, but the mouth of the wicked with subversive things.” Compare Ecclesiastes 12:10; Malachi 2:7.

Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Proverbs 10". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/whe/proverbs-10.html. 1874-1909.
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