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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Proverbs 11

 

 

Verse 1

A false balance is abomination to the LORD: but a just weight is his delight.


Verses 1-31

A false balance is abomination to the Lord: but a just weight is his delight. Under this prohibition of "a false balance" is forbidden all fraud, by whatsoever suns of deception it may be committed, (Proverbs 20:10; Proverbs 20:23). It is "abomination to the Lord," because it is perpetrated under the semblance of justice. "A just weight" - literally, a perfect stone; because stones were anciently used as weights (Leviticus 19:35-36; Deuteronomy 25:13; Micah 6:11).


Verse 2

When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.

(When) pride cometh, then cometh shame - a play upon like sounds in Hebrew ( zaadown (Hebrew #2087), kalon (Greek #2570)). There is no "when" in the Hebrew implying the immediate attendance of shame on pride (Proverbs 15:33; Proverbs 16:18; Proverbs 18:12). While the word of pride, "Is not this great Babylon that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?" was yet in King Nebuchadnezzar's mouth, there fell the voice from, heaven - "The kingdom is departed from thee" (Daniel 4:30-31).

But with the lowly is wisdom. Each of the two clauses is to be supplied from the other. "With the lowly is wisdom" - issuing in honour, the opposite of "shame." "When" folly, which is the opposite of "wisdom," and issues in "pride, cometh, then cometh shame," its inseparable follower. Pride makes one to raise himself up against God, and against one's neighbour (Proverbs 13:10; Proverbs 21:24; Deuteronomy 17:12; Deuteronomy 18:22).


Verse 3

The integrity of the upright shall guide them: but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them.

The integrity of the upright shall guide them - safely, by God's grace (Proverbs 3:6), though the midst of stumbling-blocks and dangers, to the heavenly city of habitation (Psalms 107:7).

But the perverseness of transgresssors shall destroy them - in contrast to the safe 'guiding' of the upright by God, through their integrity (Proverbs 15:4). Men fancy that a crooked, compromising, time-serving policy is the path of safety. It is really the path to 'destruction.'


Verse 4

Riches profit not in the day of wrath: but righteousness delivereth from death.

Riches profit not in the day of wrath - the day of God's judicial vengeance (Ezekiel 7:19; cf. on this verse Proverbs 10:2).


Verse 5

The righteousness of the perfect shall direct his way: but the wicked shall fall by his own wickedness.

The righteousness of the perfect shall direct his way - safely to the desired end. "The perfect" - i:e., the upright, the sincere in aim (cf. Proverbs 11:3).

But the wicked shall fall by his own wickedness - which is the opposite of the 'direct way.' Instead of reaching the goal of heaven safely, as "the perfect," he shall "fall" forever.


Verse 6

The righteousness of the upright shall deliver them: but transgressors shall be taken in their own naughtiness.

The righteousness of the upright shall deliver them - from all fatal dangers, and from everlasting death.

But transgressors shall be taken in (their own) naughtiness - wicked schemes, which they prepare for others. (See note on the same Hebrew word, Proverbs 10:3.)


Verse 7

When a wicked man dieth, his expectation shall perish: and the hope of unjust men perisheth.

When a wicked man dieth, (his) expectation shall perish; and the hope of unjust (men) perisheth. Riches, glory, impunity in oppressing others, and carnal pleasure, are the wicked man's object of "hope." At death he is taken away from all these hopelessly, and forever. "The hope of unjust, (men)." [Thus, the Hebrew, 'owniym (Hebrew #205), is from 'aawen (Hebrew #205), iniquity.] But Gejer, Maurer, etc., take it [from hown or 'own, resources, wealth, powers, Genesis 49:3; Hosea 12:3], 'The hope of riches perisheth' (cf Proverbs 11:4): as in the former clause there is expressed whose hope perisheth, but not what hope, so (according to this view) in the latter clause is expressed what hope perisheth, not whose hope. Gesenius supports the English version. So the Septuagint, the Chaldaic, Syriac, Arabic (cf. Proverbs 10:28).


Verse 8

The righteous is delivered out of trouble, and the wicked cometh in his stead.

The righteous is delivered out of trouble, and the wicked cometh in his stead - as happened in the case of Daniel and his persecutors (Daniel 6:24); and Haman (Esther 5:14; Esther 7:8-10). The wicked falls into the pit of destruction which he digged for the righteous (Psalms 7:15).


Verse 9

An hypocrite with his mouth destroyeth his neighbour: but through knowledge shall the just be delivered.

An hypocrite (or else, a profane person; Hebrew, chaneeph) with (his) mouth destroyeth his neighbour -

i.e., tries to destroy him by corruption (as the Hebrew may mean), or by plotting destruction against him secretly, while "with his mouth" pretending to be his friend.

But through knowledge shall the just be delivered. Through spiritual knowledge, imparted by God, the just is enabled to penetrate the hypocrite's schemes, and to evade them: for heavenly illumination teaches how "to refuse the evil, and choose the good" (Isaiah 8:16).


Verse 10

When it goeth well with the righteous, the city rejoiceth: and when the wicked perish, there is shouting.

When it goeth well with the righteous, the city rejoiceth. Because the well-being of the righteous in a State tends to the well-being of the whole state: for the righteous use their prosperity for the good of all around them, and God, for their sake, blesses all with whom they are allied (Genesis 30:27; cf. Proverbs 11:11). And when the wicked perish, there is shouting - exultation at the deliverance from the vexations, oppressions, and scandals caused by the wicked.


Verse 11

By the blessing of the upright the city is exalted: but it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked.

By the blessing of the upright the city is exalted. This gives a reason why, "when it, goeth well with the righteous, the city rejoiceth." God blesses the city for the sake of the righteous or upright in it who intercede for it (1 Timothy 2:2; Jeremiah 29:7; Ezra 6:10).

But it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked - namely, by their bad counsels, false testimonies, blasphemies, calumnies (Proverbs 29:8).


Verse 12

He that is void of wisdom despiseth his neighbour: but a man of understanding holdeth his peace.

He that is void of wisdom (Hebrew, heart) despiseth his neighbour: but a man of understanding holdeth his peace. It aggravates the sin of 'despising' another, that he is one's "neighbour," allied by creation, by community of civil and religious ties, and by, the prospect of the same eternity. "Despiseth," and therefore assails with contemptuous taunts, "his neighbour," when the latter has fallen into misfortune or error. The antithesis requires the ellipsis to be thus supplied: 'But a man of understanding holdeth his peace' - i:e., doth not contemptuously taunt his neighbour. Mariana connects the sense with Proverbs 11:13 : "He that is void of wisdom despiseth his neighbour" for the secret that he knows TO his discredit, and speaks of it to others; "but a man of understanding holdeth his peace" about it.


Verse 13

A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter.

A talebearer [Hebrew, one walking as a detractor, raakiyl (H7400)] revealeth secrets. The association of the verb walking with detractor, literally, a merchant, is due to the fact that the detractor goes about like a trafficker, carrying the wares of scandal, gathered from various quarters, and circulating them far and wide (Jeremiah 6:28, "Walking with slanders;" Leviticus 19:16. "Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people;" 1 Peter 2:1; James 4:11). In this case it aggravates the offence that what the talebearer circulates was a 'secret' committed to him in confidence.

But he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter - answering to "a man of understanding holdeth his peace" (Proverbs 11:12). "He that is of a faithful spirit" - opposed to "a talebearer;" one "faithful" to his premise of secrecy given to his friend.


Verse 14

Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.

Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety. "No counsel" - i:e., no 'wise counsels' (Proverbs 1:5). The multitude are apt to do all things precipitately and much need presiding counselors and counsel. It is a penalty inflicted by God on a sinful State to give it princes void of counsel (Isaiah 3:4; cf. Proverbs 15:22). Rehoboam lost ten-twelfths of his kingdom by neglecting good counsel, (1 Kings 12:1-33.)


Verse 15

He that is surety for a stranger shall smart for it: and he that hateth suretiship is sure.

He that is surety for a stranger shall smart for it (Hebrew, 'shall be broken with a breakage,' like a potter's vessel; or else, 'shall be evilly entreated with evil').

And he that hateth suretiship is sure. It aggravates the folly of reckless "suretiship" (literally, 'sureties') when it is "for a stranger," to whom one is in no way bound by duty to run such a risk (cf. note, Proverbs 6:1).


Verse 16

A gracious woman retaineth honour: and strong men retain riches.

A gracious woman retaineth honour; and strong men retain riches. The Hebrew for "strong men" [ `aariytsiym (Hebrew #6184)] is usually taken in a bad, sense (Kimchi). As violent men retain with a "strong" grasp their riches, so "a gracious woman" retains with the same tenacity her honour. What force effects for the strong, in respect to what they value most namely, riches, that grace and virtue (Proverbs 1:9; Proverbs 3:4; Proverbs 3:22) effect for "a gracious woman" in securing against ever assailant what she values most, namely, her "honour." Her grace is not merely the perishing grace of the body, but the enduring grace of the soul (Proverbs 31:30). It is not dress, worldly vanities, or admiration of lovers that she obtains and retains "honor," but by spiritual and internal graces.


Verse 17

The merciful man doeth good to his own soul: but he that is cruel troubleth his own flesh.

The merciful man doeth good to his own soul: but (he that is) cruel troubleth his own flesh. The merciful man in doing good to others does good to himself. The harsh and unmerciful in distressing others causes ultimately distress to himself. Not only do we not lose by mercy and liberality to others, but we largely gain by the intrinsic effects of mercy in its reflex action on the merciful, as also by the special promise of God (Matthew 5:7). The cruel spirit, when it has none else to vent its cruelty on, punishes itself. The cruel man troubleth his own family also.


Verse 18

The wicked worketh a deceitful work: but to him that soweth righteousness shall be a sure reward.

The wicked worketh a deceitful work: but to him that soweth righteousness (shall be) a sure reward. The reward of the wicked man's labour is deceitful (i:e., is the very reverse of what be has calculated on): that of the righteous man is sure. On "soweth righteousness" cf. Hosea 10:12, "Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy;" Galatians 6:8-9; James 3:18. The crop shall exactly correspond to the seed, the reward the work (Proverbs 22:8).


Verse 19

As righteousness tendeth to life: so he that pursueth evil pursueth it to his own death.

As righteousness (tendeth) to life; so he that pursueth evil (pursueth it) to his own death. The Hebrew word [ keen (Hebrew #3651)] at the beginning of this verse connects this verse with the preceding, 'Thus then righteousness (tendeth) to life,' etc. Maurer strangely takes it as a participial adjective-`He who is upright in righteousness.' "Pursueth" - literally, incessantly and eagerly pursueth, like a hound after its prey [ raadap (Hebrew #7291)], or a conqueror pursuing the vanquished (Judges 4:16; 2 Samuel 20:10).


Verse 20

They that are of a froward heart are abomination to the LORD: but such as are upright in their way are his delight.

They that are of a froward heart (are) abomination to the Lord: but (such as are) upright in (their) way (are) his delight. "They that are of a froward heart" - namely, those who are specious before men, but who cherish selfish and cunning schemes at heart. "Such as are upright in their way" are the sincere in heart, who evince their sincerity in their course of life: very different from those who palliate their frowardness of walk by pleading that they are well-disposed in heart.


Verse 21

Though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not be unpunished: but the seed of the righteous shall be delivered.

(Though) hand (join) in hand, the wicked shall not be unpunished: but the seed of the righteous shall be delivered - from punishment. Though the wicked conspire together, and have many accomplices, joining right hand to right hand, in pledge of mutual faith, and in token of their engagement mutually to help one another against all adversaries, yet they shall not escape punishment. Mercer, DeDieu, and Maurer refer the phrase to the succession of parents and children-literally, hand to hand; i:e., not even by the succession of sons (the inheritance of guilt passing from the wicked of the father to the hand of the son) shall the wicked escape punishment: neither himself nor his posterity shall escape. Certainly the parallel clause, "the seed of the righteous," requires in contrast reference to the seed of the wicked. Probably both ideas are included-`Though the wicked man has many accomplices, friends, successors, and posterity, as auxiliary hands, yet these shall not shield him from punishment: he and they shall be punished.'


Verse 22

As a jewel of gold in a swine's snout, so is a fair woman which is without discretion.

(As) a jewel of gold in a swine's snout, (so is) a fair woman (which is) without discretion - literally, without (literally, turning aside from [ caarat (Hebrew #5493)]) taste" [ Taa`am (Hebrew #2940)], i:e., moral perception of what is pure and impure (Psalms 119:66). Women used to wear golden rings, or "nose-jewels" (Isaiah 3:21), in their noses. As the fair form of the impure or godless woman is compared to the "jewel of gold," so the impure woman herself to the filthy sow (2 Peter 2:22), in respect to her impure life, filthy lusts (Bochart), insatiableness, and stolidity. A sow, among the Egyptians, is the hieroglyphic for a fool (Gejer).


Verse 23

The desire of the righteous is only good: but the expectation of the wicked is wrath.

The desire of the righteous is only good. Their chief object of desire is God and His favour. They do not desire things unlawful. So the issue of their desire is good. They obtain their wishes.

But the expectation of the wicked is wrath - i:e., so far from issuing in the good which they hoped for, it issue in the eternal "wrath" and vengeance of God. They "desire" and devise only such things as displease God-the event therefore can only be "wrath;" whereas "the desire of the righteous," being for "good," issues in "good" to themselves.


Verse 24

There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty.

There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and (there is) that withholdeth more than is meet, but (it tendeth) to poverty. So far from the generous disperser of his riches, for the glory of God and the good of his neighbour, being really impoverished by scattering, he positively "increaseth" in true wealth by it. The metaphor is from sowing seed. He who would reap largely must scatter the seed far and wide, with no grudging hand (Proverbs 13:7). They who "withhold more than is meet" from the Lord, get no true gain from all their toils and all their riches, like the Jews in Haggai's time, who had no prosperity until they made the house of the Lord their chief object (Haggai 1:6; Haggai 1:9-11; Haggai 2:15-19; cf. Hebrews 13:16). So far is the true wealth of the withholder from being increased by withholding what is meet to be given for the glory of God and the good of man, that he is at last deprived even of that which he had (Matthew 13:12). The Lord has a thousand ways of taking away from the selfish steward of God's property the wealth which he uses not for God's glory, namely, sickness, fire, death certainly.


Verse 25

The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself.

The liberal soul shall be made fat; and he that watereth shall be watered also himself. So far from The liberal soul shall be made fat; and he that watereth shall be watered also himself. So far from growing lean with liberality to others, "the liberal soul (literally, the soul of blessed - i:e., the soul that blesses others) shall be made fat." "Blessing" is often used of kindness in words and in deeds toward others (Genesis 33:11; 2 Kings 5:15; 2 Corinthians 9:5-10). "Bounty" ( eulogia (Greek #2129)) - literally, blessing. As Proverbs 11:24 refers to external goods, so this 25th verse refers to both the goods of the soul and those of the body. "He that watereth" - i:e., refreshes the souls of others with spiritual refreshments, or their bodies with the necessary supplies for their wants, shall receive a corresponding refreshment from God. He shall receive new supplies wherewith to refresh himself and others (Matthew 5:7). The image is from a seasonable shower refreshing the thirsty earth (cf. Job 29:23; Psalms 72:6).


Verse 26

He that withholdeth corn, the people shall curse him: but blessing shall be upon the head of him that selleth it.

He that withholdeth corn (in order to raise the price, and sell at an exhorbitant profit), the people shall curse him - (Amos 8:5-6.) but blessing (shall be) (namely, implored by the people) upon the head of him that selleth (it) - at a moderate price (Job 29:13).


Verse 27

He that diligently seeketh good procureth favour: but he that seeketh mischief, it shall come unto him.

He that diligently (literally, early in the morning) seeketh good procureth favour. We must not only do good, but do it seasonably while the opportunity presents itself, and diligently; as those who desire a thing effectually done get up early, that they may have sufficient time, and that they may do it with all the powers of their mind and body (T. Cartwight). Such a one "procureth favour" with God and man.

But he that seeketh mischief, it shall come unto him. "Seeketh mischief" - i:e., deliberately and continually. He that does not diligently seek good is apt to fall step by step into the class of those that "seek mischief."


Verse 28

He that trusteth in his riches shall fall: but the righteous shall flourish as a branch.

He that trusteth in his riches shall fall: but the righteous (namely, inasmuch as they do not trust in riches) shall flourish as a branch. "He that trusteth in his riches" will be loath to part with them in giving to others (Proverbs 11:24-27). "As a branch" [ ke`aaleh (Hebrew #5929)]. So Gataker. Gejer translates, as the Hebrew commonly means, 'as a leaf,' namely, a verdant leaf (Psalms 1:3; Jeremiah 17:8).


Verse 29

He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind: and the fool shall be servant to the wise of heart.

He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind. "He that troubleth his own house" - whether by extravagance, or by quarrels, complaints, avaricious withholding of the sustenance and wages that are due, etc. (Proverbs 11:17, "He that is cruel troubleth his own flesh;" Proverbs 15:27, "He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house;" Sirach 4:30, 'Be not as a lion in thy house, nor frantic among thy servants'). "Shall inherit the wind" -

i.e., shall gain nothing but emptiness as the result of all his trouble: like the wind, which makes a great bluster, but has nothing solid in it, and passes away (Proverbs 10:25; Ecclesiastes 1:13-14).

And the fool shall be servant to the wise of heart. He who acts as a "fool" in the management of his house and his property shall thereby be reduced to the position of a "servant" to him who acts wisely in the management of his house and property.


Verse 30

The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.

The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise - (Daniel 12:3.) "The fruit" which "the righteous" bring forth, namely, in benefiting the bodies and souls is of others, is salutary, like "the tree of life" (Genesis 2:9; Genesis 3:22; Proverbs 3:18). "He that winneth (literally, taketh) souls" - like a successful fisherman, that he may bring them to God and heaven (Luke 5:10): by precept and by example (1 Peter 3:1; 1 Corinthians 9:19-22; James 5:20).


Verse 31

Behold, the righteous shall be recompensed in the earth: much more the wicked and the sinner.

Behold, the righteous shall be recompensed in the earth: much more the wicked and the sinner.

"Recompensed" is here taken in the primitive sense; seeing that even the righteous have to pay on earth (not in the future life) the penalty of their occasional and exceptional delinquencies (Numbers 20:12, Moses and Aaron; 2 Samuel 12:14, David; 24:12; 1 Kings 13:21, the disobedient prophet; cf. 1 Corinthians 11:30), committed through infirmity and afterward humbly deplored, how much more shall "the wicked" (Rashang, implying the restlessly wicked; from a root [ raasha` (Hebrew #7561)] to be disturbed; Isaiah 57:21), and "the sinner" (Chotee-he who errs from the right way) be punished. So 1 Peter 4:18, "If the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?" (cf. Jeremiah 25:29). These passages favour this view rather than the other (Mariana's view) - 'Behold the piety of the righteous, though imperfect, and though no more than what is due from them, and therefore having no claim to reward as a debt, is rewarded here; much more shall the impiety of the wicked receive its retribution.'

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Proverbs 11:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/proverbs-11.html. 1871-8.

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