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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Proverbs 19

 

 

Verse 1

Better is the poor that walketh in his integrity, than he that is perverse in his lips, and is a fool.

Better (is) the poor that walketh in his integrity, than (he that is) perverse in his lips, and is a fool.

Honourable poverty is preferable to ill-gotten or ill-used wealth. The Hebrew for "fool" [ k


Verse 2

Also, that the soul be without knowledge, it is not good; and he that hasteth with his feet sinneth.

Also, (that) the soul be without knowledge, (it is) not good. "The soul" is a choice gift of God; but if it be "without knowledge" of piety, the right end of action, and the right guide to that end, all other goods are not good to it. Riches, honours, etc., do it more harm than good. Without knowledge of God, His works, and His will, to guide the soul, it becomes brutish, and leads 'the feet' to "not good" but 'sin,' as the second clause states.

And he that hasteth with his feet sinneth - or 'misseth his aim' (Hebrew, chowTee' (Hebrew #2398)) - the aim which he sought by haste. 'Hasting with the feet' is acting "without knowledge," to which, in the first clause, it corresponds. As "the soul" is the cause or source of actions, so the "feet" are the instrument of actions. As want of true "knowledge" in "the soul" is the cause, so 'hasting with the feet' is the bad effect, ending in 'sin.' Ignorance and precipitancy are close akin. The precipitate know not the right thing, time, place, persons, or means.


Verse 3

The foolishness of man perverteth his way: and his heart fretteth against the LORD.

The foolishness of man perverteth his way: and his heart fretteth against the Lord. It is his own sinful foolishness that leads him in a perverse way, ending in calamity; but instead of laying the blame on himself, he frets against the Lord as the author of his calamities. Just as if one were, through carelessness, to stumble on a stone, and were to blame it for his hurt (1 Peter 2:8).


Verse 4

Wealth maketh many friends; but the poor is separated from his neighbour.

Wealth maketh (Hebrew = adds) many friends: but the poor is separated from his neighbour - from him Wealth maketh (Hebrew = adds) many friends: but the poor is separated from his neighbour - from him who once was, and who ought still to be a friendly neighbour (Proverbs 19:7.) The majority estimate friendships by their utility to self. The rich ought to be less elated by their having so many friends of such a kind, the poor less dispirited by the want of them. Both ought to seek the 'brother born for adversity,' and who "sticketh closer than a (common) brother" (Proverbs 17:17; Proverbs 18:24).


Verse 5

A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall not escape.

A false witness ... and (he that) speaketh (Hebrew, breatheth forth) lies shall not escape. Proverbs 19:9 repeats this. "False witness" is in public: "lies" are also in private. They stand on the same footing, and shall have one doom.


Verse 6

Many will intreat the favour of the prince: and every man is a friend to him that giveth gifts.

Many will entreat the favour (Hebrew, the face, Daniel 9:13, margin) of the prince (or, the liberal): and every man (is) a friend to him that giveth gifts}-or, as the Hebrew maqqeph (hyphen) requires, rather, 'Every friend (is) to a man of gifts:' a man of gifts has all friends. 'Entreat the face' is an idiom for to move the countenance of another to commiseration [from chaalah (Hebrew #2470), to be sick]: to soften the countenance, and so to move him by earnest and reverent prayers that he will be ashamed to withhold the request. Men's selfishness is herein stigmatized as in Proverbs 19:4.


Verse 7

All the brethren of the poor do hate him: how much more do his friends go far from him? he pursueth them with words, yet they are wanting to him.

All the brethren of the poor do hate him; how much more do his friends go far from him? If the nearest blood-relations treat him as if they 'hated him,' "how much more" will those bound to him by no consanguinity stand aloof from him! The poor man's brethren think he will be a disgrace and injury to themselves. So Jesus' brethren (Psalms 38:11; John 7:5; Mark 3:21). The plural verb is joined to the noun singular-His friends, each one, go far from him. He pursueth (them with) words, (yet) they (are) wanting to (him). He pursueth them eagerly (like a hunter) with words, asking them, as they depart, why they are deserting him: yet 'they (are) not' (Hebrew) - i:e., they are wanting to him. Mariana, Gejer, and Maurer take it, 'He pursueth after (the fulfillment of the) words (of their past promises to him), and these (promises) are not (made good; they come to nothing'). It is not usual for a verse to consist of three clauses, as this does. The Vulgate joins the third clause to the following verse, and translates, 'He who pursueth mere words shall have nothing.' But thus the same difficulty recurs of Proverbs 19:8 having three clauses.


Verse 8

He that getteth wisdom loveth his own soul: he that keepeth understanding shall find good.

He that getteth wisdom (literally, heart) loveth his own soul - (Proverbs 8:35-36.)


Verse 9

A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall perish.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 10

Delight is not seemly for a fool; much less for a servant to have rule over princes.

Delight is not seemly for a fool. A life of luxurious delights sometimes makes wise men into fools; but it makes fools into madmen, to their own destruction. Recreation and pleasure are seemly for a wise man, as a temporary relaxation; but a "rod" of correction is what is most seemly for a fool (Proverbs 10:13; Proverbs 26:3). "Delight" would be prejudicial alike to the sinful fool himself, and to others who might be tempted by his seeming enjoyment to follow his bad ways.

Much less for a servant (for one who is essentially a mean slave in character) to have rule over princes

- over those who in nobility of mind, experience, and sagacity are essentially princes, though depressed by the accidents of fortune. "A servant" answers to "a fool" in the first clause. He who is a slave of his own passions is ill-fitted "to have rule over" those who, as using not "fools," but wise, are better fitted to be "princes" over, than subject to him (cf. Lamentations 5:8).


Verse 11

The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression.

The discretion of a man deferreth his anger. Discretion maketh a man long-suffering and patient of wrongs. The Hebrew is 'prolongeth' - i:e., puts it off to a distant time.

And (it is) his glory to pass over a transgression - not a disgrace, as the world regards any putting up with an affront. It is wisdom to pass quickly by, folly to rake up offensive filth. God is, of all beings, the most long-suffering, and 'passes by' the most offences, though ultimately the impenitent must pay the penalty of all (Amos 7:8; Micah 7:18); 'Anger and lust are like a fire, which if you enclose, suffering it to have no emission, it perishes but give it the smallest vent, and it rages to the consumption of all it reaches' (Jeremy Taylor).


Verse 12

The king's wrath is as the roaring of a lion; but his favour is as dew upon the grass.

The king's wrath is as the roaring of a lion - (therefore his subjects should beware of provoking him. How much more ought men to fear the wrath of the King of kings; and to seek Him whose) favour (is) as dew upon the grass - (Psalms 72:6 ; Hosea 14:5.)


Verse 13

A foolish son is the calamity of his father: and the contentions of a wife are a continual dropping.

The contentions of a wife are a continual dropping - through the roof of a house. A man cannot escape from his wife, however contentious she may be. "Continual" - literally, pushing; i:e., one drop pushing on another continually. The Illyrian proverb was, 'He who hath a smoky house, a dropping roof, and a contentious wife, hath no need to go abroad for war; he has enough of it in his own home' (Poll Synopsis). How much need, therefore, marrying men have to use care and prayer in the choice of a good wife (cf. Proverbs 19:14; Proverbs 18:22).


Verse 14

House and riches are the inheritance of fathers: and a prudent wife is from the LORD.

House and riches (are) the inheritance of fathers - i:e., are to be obtained by inheritance from them. They are among the indiscriminate gifts of God's bounty, common to the good and bad alike.

But a prudent wife (i:e., one of godly intelligence, pleasing disposition, and sound wisdom in managing her household) is from the Lord. "House and riches" are also from the Lord, but indirectly. A good wife is God's special and immediate gift; it is more rare and less attainable by mere human sagacity. God alone knows what a wife will prove to be. Men often mistake. Let parents seek for their sons a wife of piety and goodness, rather than large wealth: as on her character depends the well-being of the husband, the children, and the household. Prayer to the Lord is the way of obtaining such a wife.


Verse 15

Slothfulness casteth into a deep sleep; and an idle soul shall suffer hunger.

Slothfulness casteth into a deep sleep. Moderate labour sharpens the spirit; idleness dulls it.

And an idle soul (Hebrew, remiss: a soul which soon remits its efforts) shall suffer hunger - in just retribution. So in one's spiritual concerns.


Verse 16

He that keepeth the commandment keepeth his own soul; but he that despiseth his ways shall die.

He that keepeth the commandment (namely, of God) keepeth his own soul; (but) he that despiseth his ways (he that is negligent in his ways) shall die. So the Hebrew margin, or Qeri', reads, yaamuwt (Hebrew #4191). But the Kethibh, or Hebrew text, yumawt (Hebrew #4191), 'shall be put to death:' the more forcible reading.


Verse 17

He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD and that which he hath given will he pay him again.

He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord - making the Lord his debtor; for God regards favours to His people as done to Himself (Matthew 25:40).

And that which he hath given (literally, His benefit) will he pay him again. No surer Paymaster is there than Yahweh; none pays with such accumulated interest.


Verse 18

Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.

Chasten thy son while there is hope - of his being reformed, before that he becomes hardened in sin. Trees, while young, are tender, and are the more easily bent.

And let not thy soul spare for his crying - Hebrew, h


Verse 19

A man of great wrath shall suffer punishment: for if thou deliver him, yet thou must do it again.

A man of great wrath shall suffer punishment. So the Masoretic Qeri' reads [ g


Verse 20

Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end.

Hear counsel, and receive (with due attention) instruction - Hebrew, musar, 'discipline.'

That thou mayest be wise in thy latter end - that, though thy past years have been spent in sinful folly, thy after years may be spent more wisely and happily, and so thy end may be blessed. It is sad when men old in years are senseless children as to true wisdom (Ecclesiastes 10:16). Wisdom is not gotten except by persevering attendance and patient seeking.


Verse 21

There are many devices in a man's heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand.

(There are) many devices in a man's heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand. Man has "many devices," through his ignorance of the future. Many and laboriously devised as they are, they often effect nothing. But God has one "counsel," and that simple, not involved or complicate, and immutable. There is no succession of time or thought in His decrees. His counsel shall stand - i:e., unalterably be fulfilled (Jeremiah 44:28-29). There is what is termed a parallage, or need of supplying each clause from the parallel one: "There are many devices in a man's heart (but they shall not stand); but the counsel of the Lord (which is one; as opposed to the many devices of man), that shall stand." "That" is emphatic. That, that I say alone, free from all mistake, imperfection, or want of power, shall stand (Psalms 115:3 ). God being the unchangeable One, will not change it: and no creature can suspend or prevent it. Of man's many devices that alone shall stand which God pleaseth (Romans 9:19, end; Daniel 4:35).


Verse 22

The desire of a man is his kindness: and a poor man is better than a liar.

The desire of a man is his kindness: and a poor man is better than a liar. 'A man's kindness is what makes him desirable,' and acceptable to all; or, 'A man's kindness is a desirable adornment to him.' The parallel clause accords with this, "A poor man (who is disposed to acts of kindness as far as his means extend) is better than a liar" - i:e than a rich man who lyingly withholds the riches which he hath, and with which he has promised to relieve the afflicted poor. Though rained above the godly poor by riches, he falls infinitely beneath them by lying avarice.


Verse 23

The fear of the LORD tendeth to life: and he that hath it shall abide satisfied; he shall not be visited with evil.

The fear of the Lord (tendeth) to life; and (he that hath it) shall abide (Hebrew, lin-lit, shall pass the whole night; cf. Psalms 4:7-8) satisfied - abundantly filled with all really good things for the body and the soul (Deuteronomy 33:12; Deuteronomy 33:23, "Naphtali, satisfied with favour, and full with the blessing of the Lord;" cf. Jeremiah 31:14). Such a one is relieved alike from indigence and from restless desires (Philippians 4:18-19; Psalms 34:11).

He shall not be visited with evil. As he is exempt from the evil of guilt, so shall he be from the evil of punishment.


Verse 24

A slothful man hideth his hand in his bosom, and will not so much as bring it to his mouth again.

A slothful (man) hideth his hand in (his) bosom. So the Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic. The Hebrew, tsalaachat (Hebrew #6747), means 'a dish.' So Gejer understands it here. Also 'a caldron;' hence, the cavity in the breast, which is like the cavity of a dish.

And will not so much as bring it to his mouth again - to supply himself with food, much less put his hand to the plow or spade. Athenoeus, , describes the slothful man as waiting until the roasted and seasoned thrushes fly into his mouth begging to be devoured.


Verse 25

Smite a scorner, and the simple will beware: and reprove one that hath understanding, and he will understand knowledge.

Smite a scorner, and the simple will beware. If you smite and severely chastise a scorner, you will do him no good; but you will produce this good effect-namely, that he simple, who do not err from malice prepense, will be on their guard against a like sin and its consequent punishment. And reprove one that hath understanding, (and) he will understand knowledge. Verbal 'reproof' is sufficient to "one that hath understanding," in order that he may "understand knowledge" - i:e., become wiser and better: the docile need no 'smiting.' The wiser one is, the more readily does he accept correction.


Verse 26

He that wasteth his father, and chaseth away his mother, is a son that causeth shame, and bringeth reproach.

He that wasteth his father (his father's substance, by extravagance), (and) chaseth away his mother (virtually chaseth her away, by making her own home unbearable to her, by his disturbances, the weaker sex being the more timid), (is) a son that causeth shame, and bringeth reproach - alike on himself and his parents. Those whom he ought to honour and succour, he robs and insults. The injury must be deep indeed when even a mother is estranged (Isaiah 49:15). How careful, therefore, ought parents to be in educating their children!


Verse 27

Cease, my son, to hear the instruction that causeth to err from the words of knowledge.

Cease, my son, to hear the instruction (that causeth) to err from the words of knowledge - for instance, "the instruction" or discipline which heretics and seducers offer, but which is no instruction. Thus, in Proverbs 16:22, "the instruction of fools" is stigmatized.


Verse 28

An ungodly witness scorneth judgment: and the mouth of the wicked devoureth iniquity.

An ungodly witness (Hebrew, a witness of Belial) scorneth judgment - justice. He has no reverence for the sacred place of justice, but makes it a jest.

And the mouth of the wicked devoureth iniquity - greedily and with delight, filling themselves, wholly with it: 'drinking iniquity like water' (Job 15:16).


Verse 29

Judgments are prepared for scorners, and stripes for the back of fools.

Judgments are prepared for scorners - even as they 'scorned judgment' (Proverbs 19:28.) Righteous retribution in kind. In vain they promise to themselves impunity forever: judgments are prepared for them from old.

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Proverbs 19:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/proverbs-19.html. 1871-8.

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