Chapter 1 Chapter 6 Chapter 11 Chapter 16 Chapter 21
Chapter 2 Chapter 7 Chapter 12 Chapter 17 Chapter 22
Chapter 3 Chapter 8 Chapter 13 Chapter 18 Chapter 23
Chapter 4 Chapter 9 Chapter 14 Chapter 19 Chapter 24
Chapter 5 Chapter 10 Chapter 15 Chapter 20 Chapter 25

The word, “proverb,” is made up by putting two Latin words together. The word, “pro,” means for; and the word, “verb,” means word. So proverbs are words (or sayings) that may, or may not relate, literally, to the subject, but do, if properly understood, present the desired lesson, sometimes even in a dramatic manner, while, at other times they may be far less dramatic. A true proverb is one that always presents the true situation. The proverbs of the book of “Proverbs” are all wise sayings, and are usually given in very few words. Many of these are pearls of wisdom from Solomon, while some of the others are by other men who were wise men in their own right though not quite equal to Solomon.

Chapter 1

(Verses 1 through 4) The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel; to know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding; to receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity; to give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion.


Thus Solomon introduces himself as the son of David, the king of Israel . This lets us know that he is the Solomon to whom the LORD gave the greatest wisdom that ever has been, or ever will be, given to a mortal man. With this fact as background we should certainly recognize the seriousness of what he is presenting. He further tells us his purpose in writing these proverbs. It is that we may know and understand wisdom, instruction, understanding, justice, and judgment; and to give understanding, knowledge, and discretion to the simple.


(Verses 5 and 6) A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels: to understand a proverb, and its interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings.


When he says, “A wise man will hear,” perhaps we should understand “hear” to mean heed, because, as a result of this he will increase learning. Also a man of understanding will pay attention to wise counsels that he may understand both the proverb and its interpretation. He will also give diligence to understand both the words spoken by the wise and whatever hidden meanings there may be in their words, or the deeper things that may be in an eloquent speech. In short, he is not satisfied just to skim the surface of what is said.


(Verses 7 through 9) The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction. My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother: for they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck.


The very first statement in this text is one that we all should never forget, even for a moment. It seems that the modern world has completely forgotten it, or never knew it in the first place. Only those who fear the LORD are able to acquire real wisdom; for the first step in that process is learning the proper relation between God and man. Today most people, even including many religious teachers, seem to think that they are wiser and greater than God. And that completely blocks them from learning true wisdom. David tells us that “The fool hath said in his heart, ‘there is no God.’” And here Solomon tells us that, “Fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Because of this Solomon further says, “My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother.” Certainly his usage of “hear” in this case actually means “heed.” Not only should this be done for the sake of keeping the commandment of the LORD which says, “Honor thy father and thy mother,” but in addition to that, doing this will “be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck.” The chains of which he speaks are ornamental chains such as many wear. This is an example of the use of words unrelated to the subject but still giving a clear picture of the situation. They will certainly not literally be chains, but will be ornaments of character that will be noticed by all.


(Verses 10 through 16) My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not. If they say, “Come with us, let us lay wait for blood, let us lurk privily for the innocent without cause: let us swallow them up alive as the grave; and whole, as those that go down into the pit: we shall find all precious substances, we shall fill our houses with spoil: cast in thy lot among us; let us all have one purse:” my son, walk not thou in the way with them, refrain thy foot from their path. For their feet run to evil, and make haste to shed blood.


This may be something that Solomon actually said to his own sons. Or it may be that he is only using the expression, “My son,” as a universal address to anyone who might read this warning. But that really makes no difference. What does matter is the message he is delivering. The message is simply that we carefully avoid becoming entangled with those who are planning evil works of any kind. If we become involved with them, though we might not actually take part with them in the evil deeds themselves, we will probably be blamed for them anyway. And just by going along with them we become guilty also.


(Verses 17 through 19) Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird. And they lay wait for their own blood; they lurk privily for their own lives. So are the ways of everyone that is greedy of gain; which taketh away the life of the owners thereof.


Even a bird is wise enough to avoid a net when he sees it being laid for him. So surely we should know to not get entangled in one that men set in plain sight before us. The key that shows us the net is the statement of these who are planning the robbery. They say, “Let us lay wait for blood, let us lurk privily for the innocent without cause.” And the truth is that “They lay wait for their own blood; they lurk privily for their own lives.” That is, although they are planning to take the life, and shed the blood of someone else, there are two prospects for which they make no allowance. One is that instead of taking the life of another, they may lose their own. And the other is that even if they are successful in what they are planning, they will later be caught and put to death for their crime. So they are losers either way. This is the usual outcome of such a line of endeavor. So a man with any wisdom can readily see that there is no profit in such.


(Verses 20 through 23) Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets: she crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she uttereth her words, saying, “How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge? Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you.


In this text Solomon personifies wisdom as a woman, which is a fairly common presentation of wisdom. He says that she is constantly calling from every place in the city, from the streets, from the principal place of gathering of the people, and even from the opening of the gates. Certainly there is no excuse for anyone’s failure to hear her. She is even calling “the simple” (in this particular instance it seems that the meaning of “the simple” is “the stupid.”) First she says, “How long will you love stupidity? And how long will the scorners (those who scorn knowledge) delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge?” Then she tells them to turn at her reproof, and she will pour out her spirit unto them, and make known to them her words. This certainly is a worthwhile promise. But she has prefaced it with this command; “Turn you at my reproof.” And this they will not do, as we shall soon see.


(Verses 24 through 27) Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; when your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you.


Wisdom continues her speech. She has already declared that to those who will heed her reproof she will give both the spirit of wisdom, and even understanding itself. However, these foolish ones have refused to listen. Instead they have just made light of all her counsel. Since they have done this, they have sealed their own fate. They are sure to encounter anguish and destruction. And when they do she will not help them; but, on the contrary, she will even laugh at their calamity and destruction. When a person will not learn the lessons of wisdom he can never fall back upon wisdom for support in times of trouble. And trouble is sure to come upon us along life’s pathway. Therefore we should make every endeavor to learn wisdom as much as possible. And the Apostle James has told us how best to accomplish that. “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” (James 1:5)


(Verses 28 through 33) Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer, they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: for that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD: they would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof. Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices. For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them. But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from the fear of evil.


This declaration reminds us very much of a commandment of the LORD given by Isaiah. (Isaiah 55:6) “Seek ye the LORD while He may be found, call ye upon Him while is near.” The proper time to call upon wisdom is at the first opportunity. She has already declared that those who refuse to answer her when she first calls them shall be left without further recourse. For when they get into trouble and, attempt to call upon her, she will not answer; and with all their seeking her, they can not find her. The reason they did not answer when she called them is that “they hated  knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD.” For that reason they would have none of her counsel, and despised all her reproof. Therefore they are left to their own way, and all that is left to them is the fruit of their own actions. “The turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them.” That is, since they have been so simple (or stupid) as to turn away from, or turn their backs upon, wisdom, that very act will bring them to death. And since the only prosperity that fools will have is very fleeting, they will be destroyed thereby. Theirs is a hopeless case. On the other hand, those who give heed unto wisdom shall dwell in safety, and will not even have to fear evil. What a contrast!

Chapter 2

(Verses 1 through 9) My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee; so that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine ear unto understanding; yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; if thou seek her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God. For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of His mouth cometh knowledge and understanding. He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: He is a buckler to them that walk uprightly. He keepeth the paths of judgment, and preserveth the way of His saints. Then shalt thou understand righteousness, and judgment, and equity; yea, every good path.


As Solomon opens this chapter, he again uses the address, “My son,” although it seems to be rather a general manner of addressing whoever may read this writing than a restricted address to his son. The advice he gives is good for all who will give heed to it. The first thing we are told to do is to receive (pay attention to) his words; then hide his commandments with us (not from us.) That is we are to put forth every means to see that we keep them safe, where we can easily get to them, and none can steal them away from us. We are to use them as directions by which to find wisdom and understanding. If we follow this advice, thus seeking after knowledge and understanding as men usually seek after silver and hidden treasures, we shall be able to understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God. The reason for this is that the LORD is the source of wisdom, and gives it to those who seek Him. When He speaks, He sends forth knowledge and understanding. The Apostle John, in writing concerning the Son of God, Who is, of God also, says, “That was the true light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” So any light we have, whether spiritual light, or the light of reason, or any other true light, comes from Him. “He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: He is a buckler to them that walk uprightly. He keepeth the paths of judgment, and preserveth the way of His saints.” This certainly needs no explanation; but surely we should remember it at all times. Notice that nothing is said about His laying up sound wisdom for sinners, being a shield for them, or preserving their way. But He does all this, and more, for the righteous. Verse 9 refers back to what Solomon has said in verses 1 through 4. If we will faithfully keep these commandments and follow this advice, we shall “understand righteousness, and judgment, and equity; yea, and every good path.”


(Verses 10 through 15) When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul; discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee: to deliver thee from the way of the evil man, from the man that speaketh froward things; who leave the paths of uprightness to walk in the ways of darkness; who rejoice to do evil, and delight in the frowardness of the wicked; whose ways are crooked, and they froward in their paths:


Notice the great promise in the entering of wisdom into the heart. Just as surely as wisdom comes in, knowledge becomes pleasant to the soul. And when that takes place, discretion and understanding will deliver us from these same wicked men that have been mentioned all the way from Chapter 1, verse 10 through this Chapter. They are the foolish ones who would not hear when Wisdom called. And they are the ones who will receive no help from Wisdom. They leave the paths of uprightness to walk in the ways of darkness. They rejoice to do evil, and delight in the frowardness of the wicked.” All of their ways are crooked, and they are wicked in all their paths. Certainly we should desire to be delivered from them.


(Verses 16 through 20) To deliver thee from the strange woman, even from the stranger that flattereth with her words; which forsaketh the guide of her youth, and forgetteth the covenant of her God. For her house inclineth unto death, and her paths unto the dead. None that go unto her return again, neither take they hold of the paths of life. That thou mayest walk in the way of good men, and keep the paths of the righteous.


Solomon continues to tell his reason for giving this advice. He has already declared that it is to deliver us from wicked men. And lest we forget that there are also evil women, he specifically tells us that this is also to deliver us from the “strange woman.” Perhaps the most important thing to remember at this point is that this “strange woman” may not be a stranger in the sense of being one we have never seen or heard of. But she is estranged from God. She is a stranger to the ways of righteousness, and is always “on the prowl,” seeking victims for her own wicked purposes. She may have been taught the way of truth when a child, but she has forsaken that guide. She may even have professed to know the LORD; but she no longer even makes a pretense of serving Him. Her house leads to death, and none that go therein ever come back; and they never take hold of the paths of life. So Solomon warns us to avoid her and her ways that we may “walk in the way of good men, and keep the paths of the righteous.


(Verses 21 and 22) For the upright shall dwell in the land, and the perfect shall remain in it. But the wicked shall be cut off from the earth, and the transgressors shall be rooted out of it.


Certainly this needs no explanation. But it does set forth ample reason for heeding Solomon’s advice. So let us seek wisdom and understanding. And let us remember that the proper place to seek it is at the source. Let us go to the LORD for it. And remember that He doesn’t tell us to just ask once, and give up, but rather keep on until we receive the answer we need.


Chapter 3


(Verses 1 through 4) My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments. For length of days, and long life, and peace shall they add to thee. Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck:; write them upon the table of thine heart: so shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of  God and man.


Since Solomon was the wisest mortal man that ever lived upon the earth, it is reasonable to think that his law and his commandments would be words of wisdom. And he says that these, if kept, will add “length of days, long life, and peace” unto us. This is, without doubt, the greatest promise given concerning earthly things. Certainly, we can understand that everyone wants these things. And since they are to be obtained by holding fast to wisdom, and following it always, why do some never seek after wisdom, and all fall so short of it. Two things we are to hold to at all cost are mercy and truth. Remember that our Lord has said, “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” (Matt. 7:12) And James says, “For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.” (James 2:13)  So, in holding to mercy we must show mercy to others. We are also to speak the truth in all our dealings with our fellow man, Thus we will have mercy and truth bound about our necks and written upon the tables of our hearts. Note carefully the promise that goes with that. “So shalt thou find favour  and good understanding in the sight of God and man.”


(Verses 5 and 6) Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.


This is advice that should never be forgotten. Our Lord Himself said that the first and greatest commandment is, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength.” And if we do this we will surely trust in the LORD with all of our heart. Not only so, but we will also lean, not upon our own understanding, but upon His word, and will acknowledge Him in all of our ways. If we do these things, He will direct all of our paths. And that is the promise Solomon has here made.


(Verses 7 through 10) Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones. Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of thine increase: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.


The man who is wise in his own eyes is never able to learn anything. He already feels that he knows more than anyone else, and this blocks his ability to learn. On the other hand those who fear the LORD, and depart from evil will continue to gain wisdom; for the LORD will give it to them. And He is the source of all true wisdom. In verse 8, “health” should be understood as “medicine;” and since in Solomon’s day the navel was considered as the point at which ill health entered the body, medicine for it was medicine for the whole body at the point where it will do the most good. It was also considered that as long as the bones had plenty of marrow, or stayed well moistened, the body retained its strength. So to follow this commandment keeps one in good health, particularly from a spiritual viewpoint. “Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of thine increase.” Notice that in this the first instruction is to use whatever substance (material wealth) we have for the glory of God. This not only means make donations to the church, or, as it was in that day, to the temple, but to help someone in need, or for any worthwhile cause. Then, don’t forget to make your offering of the firstfruits. Today we do not serve under the law, and therefore we do not make the ritual offering of the firstfruits; but we do need to be just as faithful in remembering that any increase we have, whether from the field, or from a salary we might draw for some work we are doing, is by the grace and mercy of the LORD, and render thanksgiving to Him for it. Solomon promises that if we do this, we will prosper in what we do.


(Verses 11 and 12) My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of His correction: for whom the LORD loveth He correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.


Perhaps the best explanation of this passage ever written is found in Hebrews 12: 5-11. “And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, ‘My son despise not thou the chastening of the LORD, nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him: for whom the LORD loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son that He receiveth.’ If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection to the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but He for our profit, that we might be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them that are exercised thereby.” This plainly shows us that whatever chastisement the father gives us is given because we are His children, and is profitable to us as part of the process of conforming us to the image of His Son, thus making us partakers of His holiness.


(Verses 13 through 20) Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold. She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared to her. Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honour. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her. The LORD by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath He established the heavens. By His knowledge the depths are broken up, and the clouds drop down the dew.


The man that finds and gets wisdom and understanding is indeed happy, or blessed. From Chapter 1, verse20, Solomon has been extolling the virtues of wisdom. Now he sums the whole matter up. He says that wisdom is better than both silver and fine gold, and even more precious than rubies. He even declares that “all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared to her. Length of days is in her right hand, and in her left riches and honour. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her.” No higher tribute can be paid to anyone or anything. Then he tells us that it was by wisdom that the LORD founded the earth, “and by understanding hath He established the heavens.” It is even by His knowledge that such great things as the breaking up of the deep, and such small ones as the dropping of the dew are done. So wisdom and knowledge are shown forth in everything the LORD does.


(Verses 21 through 26) My son, let not them depart from thine eyes: keep sound wisdom and discretion: so shall they be life unto thy soul, and grace to thy neck. Then shalt thou walk in thy way safely, and thy foot shall not stumble. When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: yea, thou shalt lie down and thy sleep shall be sweet. Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it cometh. For the LORD shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken.


Solomon tells us that if we hold fast to sound wisdom and discretion they will be life to our soul, and grace to our neck. That is, they will preserve our life from the many dangers that are all around, and will make us as acceptable to those around us as if we were wearing the finest jewelry, and gold chains around our necks. They will keep us safe, and we will not be found stumbling along for lack of knowing where we are going. We can lie down and sleep without having to worry about what is going to happen, because the LORD is our confidence, and He will keep us from being taken by the enemy.


(Verses 27 through 29) Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it. Say not unto thy neighbor, Go, and come again, and tomorrow I will give; when thou hast it by thee. Devise not evil against thy neighbor, seeing he dwelleth securely by thee.


This seems to need no explanation except a simple reminder that we should remember who is our neighbor. And this can be readily cleared up by reviewing Luke 10:29-37. No doubt, our Lord made this as plain as it can be made. And if we will keep His definition of a neighbor in mind, and follow the commandments Solomon has here given us, we will be on safe ground.


(Verses 30 through 32) Strive not with a man without cause, if he have done thee no harm. Envy thou not the oppressor, and choose none of his ways. For the froward is abomination to the LORD: but His secret is with the righteous.


Certainly there can be no advantage to be gained by starting a fight, or even an argument with anyone without cause, and especially if the one starting the strife has never received any wrong of any kind from the one with whom he starts the fight. In the first place it is wrong to do so; and in the second place, it might result in the one who started it getting the most damage from it. Time after time throughout the word of the LORD we are told that God will bring the oppressor to judgment, whether in this life, or on the day of final judgment. So surely his situation is not one we should desire, and therefore we should never be envious of him. Neither should we choose or follow any of his ways. The oppressor is indeed a wicked, or froward man; and “the froward is abomination to the LORD. Certainly we do not want to be in that condition. On the other hand, the LORD’S secret is with the righteous. So surely he is the one we should want to follow.


(Verses 33 through 35) The curse of the LORD is in the house of the wicked: but He blesseth the habitation of the just. Surely He scorneth the scorners: but He giveth grace unto the lowly. The wise shall inherit glory: but shame shall be the promotion of fools.


Notice that in each of these three verses Solomon gives us a great contrast to consider. In verse 33 the contrast is between the wicked and the just. The LORD has placed His curse even upon the house of the wicked, as well as upon his person. At the same time the reverse is true of the just, His blessing is upon their habitation. In verse 34 the contrast is between the one who thinks himself superior to others, (the scorner,) and humble, or lowly person. The LORD Himself has nothing but scorn for the scorner, while at the same time He gives grace to the lowly. Then verse 35 declares that the wise shall inherit glory, while all that the fool will ever get is shame.


Chapter 4

(Verses 1 through 9) Hear ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding. For I give you good doctrine, forsake ye not my law. For I was my father’s son, tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother. He taught me also, and said unto me, Let thine heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live. Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth. Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee: love her, and she shall keep thee. Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. Exalt her, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to honour, when thou dost embrace her. She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee/


Earlier we said that it might be that instead of “My son” being a restricted address to one of Solomon’s sons, it is more a general address to anyone who might read this writing. He now uses the expression, “ye children,” which seems even more to indicate what we have suggested. He calls upon us to “hear the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding. For I give you good doctrine, forsake not my law.” He further tells us that he was his father’s son, “tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother.” That is, he was beloved by both his father and his mother. And in the case of his mother, he was an only son. So the doctrine he is giving us did not originate with him, but he was taught by his father.


(verses 10 through 13) Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings; and the years of thy life shall be many. I have taught thee in the way of wisdom; I have led thee in right paths. When thou goest, thy steps shall not be straitened; and when thou runnest, thou shalt not stumble. Take fast hold of instruction; let her not go: keep her; for she is thy life.


Again he cautions us to receive, or accept, his sayings. To do this will stretch out our life to many days. He declares that he has taught us in the way of wisdom, and led us in right paths. Therefore if we follow His instructions we can go without our steps being difficult, and we can even run without stumbling. He is not speaking of physically running, but of moving ahead rapidly in life. Verse 13 certainly should be plain enough without explanation. “Take fast hold of instruction; let her not go: keep her; for she is thy life.”


(Verses 14 through 19) Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men. Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away. For they sleep not, except they have done mischief; and their sleep is taken away, unless they cause some to fall. For they eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of violence. But the path of the just is as a shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble.


As we read his instruction concerning the path of the wicked, it is very obvious that he wants us to have nothing to do with it. Not only are we not to walk in it, we are not to enter it. In fact we are to so diligently avoid it that we do not even come near it. “Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away.” The reason for this is that they (the wicked) are so bent upon doing evil to someone that they cannot even sleep unless they have caused some kind of evil, or have made someone fall. We often today hear the expression concerning someone who is constantly studying and planning some particular thing, “He eats, drinks, and sleeps it.” This is the way of the wicked concerning evil works. This causes their way to be as darkness so that they do not even know at what they stumble. But the way of the just is as a shining light that grows constantly brighter as they travel along. And it will continue growing brighter even unto the perfect day.


(Verses 20 through 22) My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear to my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh.


This should be very easy to be understood by anyone who gives it a little attention. Since these words and sayings are indeed pearls of wisdom, if we will hold fast to them, and make constant use of them, they will help us to avoid many dangers that would render damage unto us, and might even bring about our death. So in that respect they can rightly be called our life. And though he says they are “health to all their flesh,” they will not only be health to our actual flesh, but will be of even greater value to our spiritual wellbeing.


(Verses 23 through 27) Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee. Let thine eyes look right on, and thine eyelids look straight before thee. Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.


It is obvious that in this Solomon considers the heart as the center of affection. Therefore we might consider what he has said as “Be diligent to keep your affections under control; for it is from them that issues of life arise.” This will surely become more apparent as we go into the next chapter. However, in whatsoever situation we are found it is still true. He has already pointed out very forcefully that if we let our affections lay hold upon evil men and evil things, there will certainly be a sad day of reckoning for us. On the other hand, if we set them on the righteous, and works of righteousness, the future holds far more promise for us. So he says, “Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee.” That is, make sure that what your mouth and your lips speak forth is the truth. At the same time avoid those who would speak otherwise. “Let thine eyes look right on, and thine eyelids look straight before thee.” Set your goal by sound wisdom, and follow a straight path to that goal, without always being on the lookout for a different way. Take time to carefully consider the path you will take, and let it be thoroughly established in your mind so that you will not need to turn either to the right hand or to the left. Do not even start to walk in an evil way.


Chapter 5

(Verses 1 and 2) My son, attend unto my wisdom, and bow thine ear to my understanding: that thou mayest regard discretion, and that thy lips may keep knowledge.


He continues to call us to carefully consider the wisdom and instructions he sets before us. It is only through wisdom and understanding that we can have real regard for discretion, and that we can keep, or maintain, knowledge.


(Verses 3 through 14) For the lips of a strange woman drop as an honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil: but her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death, and her steps take hold on hell. Lest thou shouldest ponder her path of life, her ways are moveable, that thou canst not know them. Hear me now therefore, O ye children, and depart not from the words of my mouth. Remove thy way far from her, and come not nigh the door of her house: lest thou give thine honour unto others, and thy years unto the cruel: lest strangers be filled with thy wealth; and thy labours be in the house of a stranger; and thou mourn at the last, when thy flesh and thy body are consumed, and say, How have I hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof; and have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined mine ear to them that instructed me! I was almost in all evil in the midst of the congregation and assembly.


As we remarked earlier, Solomon’s use of the phrase, “strange woman” does not necessarily mean a woman whom we have never before seen, but one who is estranged from the LORD, and from righteousness. As he describes this particular woman, she is evidently a prostitute. She can, no doubt, speak very sweet and alluring words, but he who is entrapped thereby will soon find that the final result is a bitter experience indeed. She is leading the way to death and the grave, or worse. There is no profit in trying to understand her ways, for they are always changeable so that none can know them. The only safety in dealing with her is to “remove thy way far from her, and come not nigh the door of her house.” Those who are caught in her web will find both their wealth and their labor benefiting strangers instead of themselves. And even their flesh and body are likely to be consumed by the terrible diseases that are often spread by such women. Then when their health and their wealth are wasted away, they will suffer great regret for their failure to heed the instruction that was given them. But, alas, it is too late to be of any help! It is unclear whether verse 14 is a continuation of what her victim will say, or is Solomon’s testimony of why he is so sure of the final outcome of one who has been entrapped by such a woman; probably the latter. For the victim he has described would not likely be in the congregation of the assembly, and he would likely declare himself to be “in all evil,” instead of  saying, “I was almost in all evil.”


(Verses 15 through 21) Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well. Let thy fountains be dispersed abroad, and rivers of waters in the streets. Let them be only thine own, and not strangers’ with thee. Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth. Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love. And why wilt thou, my son, be ravished with a strange woman, and embrace the bosom of a stranger? For the ways of a man are before the eyes of the LORD, and He pondereth all his goings.


Verses 15 through 19 are simply a very impressive way of telling a man, and his wife that they are to keep all sexual activity between themselves, and permit no other to have any part therein. In verse 20 Solomon brings forth the question, “Why would a man even want to neglect his wife, and have sex with some other woman?” And in verse 21 he reminds us that everything we do is before the eyes of the LORD, and He gives close attention to all our ways.


(Verses 22 and 23) His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins. He shall die without instruction; and in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray.


These verses are so clear that they will surely not be misunderstood. So we shall pass them without further comment.


Chapter 6

(Verses 1 through5) My son, if thou be surety for thy friend, if thou hast stricken thy hand with a stranger, thou art snared with the words of thy mouth, thou art taken with the words of thy mouth. Do this now, my son, and deliver thyself, when thou art come into the hand of thy friend; go, humble thyself, and make sure of thy friend. Give not sleep to thine eyes, nor slumber to thine eyelids. Deliver thyself as a roe from the hand of the hunter, and as a bird from the hand of the fowler.


In the days before it became necessary that every transaction be written down , signed, and sealed, to make it legal, it was customary to confirm every deal with a handshake. The deal of which Solomon speaks is one in which a man has become surety for his friend, and has shaken hands with the third party of the deal, signifying that if his friend defaults on the deal he has made with this third party, he will himself make good any failure of his friend concerning the deal.. Today, we call it co-signing with the friend. Solomon had, evidently, seen some cases where the friend had fallen down on his bargain, and left the responsibility to the co-signer, just as often happens today. So his advice is that if you have become surety for your friend, the first thing for you to do is to quickly go to your friend, and make sure that he is going to live up to his bargain. He makes this advice so strong that he leaves no doubt that the best course is to never be surety for a friend in the first place.


(Verses 6 through 11) Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and become wise: which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest. How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? When wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: so shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man.


Now Solomon addresses the sluggard (the lazy person.) Not only is a sluggard lazy, but also he is so foolish that he thinks he can get along well in this world without working, but spending his time sleeping. He could learn much by going to an ant colony, and watching the ants as they are constantly busy in storing food for the times when it cannot be found. Then he questions how long the sluggard is going to continue sleeping, and when will he wake up, and start doing something useful. Certainly a person needs a reasonable amount of sleep. But wasting too much time in sleeping will bring nothing but poverty and want. And it will bring that very quickly.


(Verses 12 through 15) A naughty person, a wicked man, walketh with a froward mouth. He winketh with his eyes, he speaketh with his feet, he teacheth with his fingers; frowardness is in his heart, he deviseth mischief continually: he soweth discord. Therefore shall his calamity come suddenly; suddenly shall he be broken without remedy.


No one has to wonder how bad a man has to be to qualify as a “naughty person,” according to Solomon’s definition thereof. For, as an appositive, he says, “a wicked man.” And everyone knows that a wicked man is directly opposite from a righteous man. Such a man, he says, “walketh with a froward mouth.” That is, what he says is just as likely to be false as it is to be true, if not, indeed, more likely to be false. He winks with his eyes, as one who does not mean what he says. “He speaketh with his feet, he teacheth with his fingers,” seems a little unclear; but perhaps, the best way of considering it is that it means we can know far more about such a man by where he goes and what he does than we can by what he says. His heart is filled with wickedness, and he is constantly devising some sort of evil scheme, and starting discord among all who will give any attention to him. It is then no wonder that “his calamity shall come suddenly, (and) suddenly shall he be broken without remedy.


(Verses 16 through 19) These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto Him: a proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, an heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.


This is a text that we should all memorize, and never forget. It certainly can be in no need of any explanation. In fact, any attempt to explain it any further, could only cloud the issue. Every word in it is well known to all. It is a direct statement that every one of the things mentioned therein is hated by the LORD, and is an abomination unto Him. How much clearer can it be made?


(Verses 20 through 26) My son, keep thy father’s commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother: bind then continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck. When thou goest out, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee. For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life: to keep thee from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of  a strange woman. Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids. For by means of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of bread: and the adulteress will hunt for the precious life.


Solomon returns to an item of advice he has earlier given us. It is that we should keep both his commandment and the law of our mother. His manner of addressing us as, “My son,” would seemingly mean that in this we should consider him as our father. In like manner we might at this point consider wisdom as our mother. Thus we would be enjoined to keep his commandment and the law of wisdom. Indeed, if we will do this, we will find his promise true. If we do bind them upon our heart, and tie them around our neck, whether going, sleeping, or remaining awake. They will provide us protection that nothing else will, and at times when nothing else can. Verse 23 is one that needs no explanation. But it is one that we should always keep in mind, and never lose sight of. “For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life.” As we continue on, we find that these are given for a very specific purpose; “To keep thee from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman.” As we have before remarked, Solomon’s usage of “a strange woman” often means, not necessarily one we have not seen before, but one that is estranged from God. She may be a woman of great beauty of face and form. But do not let that entice us to follow her. “For by means of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of bread: and the adulteress will hunt for the precious life.” A man might have a great fortune. But if he lets such women lead him astray, he will be brought down to a piece of bread, or less. And they are always on the prowl, searching for one they can bring down.


(Verses 27 through 35) Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned? So he that goeth in to his neighbor’s wife; whosoever toucheth her shall not be innocent. Men do not despise a thief, if he steal to satisfy his soul when he is hungry; But if he be found, he shall restore sevenfold; he shall give all the substance of his house. But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyefh his own soul. A wound and dishonour shall he get; and his reproach shall not be wiped away. For jealousy is the rage of a man: therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance. He will not regard any ransom; neither will he rest content, though thou givest many gifts.


The questions asked in verses 27 and 28 so obviously call for a negative answer that there is no room for any argument concerning them. But so it is also with a man who commits adultery with his neighbor’s wife. And in Solomon’s usage here of “neighbor,” he actually means any man. There is no way an adulterer can be considered innocent. Men will make allowance for a man who steals to satisfy his hunger. Though, if found, he may be called upon to restore seven times as much as he has taken, and may be charged a heavy fine, he still will not be despised for his act. But the man that commits adultery has no understanding. For he is endangering himself, and bringing destruction upon his own soul. He will get both a wound and dishonor. And his reproach shall not be taken away, no matter what he does. Since jealousy is the quickest way to arouse a man’s rage, he will not spare in the day when he has the opportunity to take vengeance upon the one who has committed adultery with his wife. And no matter how much ransom one might offer, or how many gifts the culprit might offer, it will not be sufficient. So any man who cares anything for himself, will avoid adultery.


Chapter 7

(Verses 1 through 5) My son, keep my words, and lay up my commandments with thee. Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye. Bind them upon thy fingers, write them upon the table of thine heart. Say unto wisdom, Thou art my sister; and call understanding thy kinswoman: that they may keep thee from the strange woman, from the stranger that flattereth with her words.


Again Solomon reminds us to keep his words and his commandments. We are to keep his law as the apple of our eye. And by doing this, and keeping his law, we shall live. That is, his instructions are designed to lead us in the way that will not only prolong our life by showing us how to avoid many dangers that constantly lurk in the darkness around us, but will also enhance our lives while we continue along the path of life. We are to bind them upon our fingers. That is, let them be our guide in all that we do, and, at the same time, let them rule our affections, by writing them “upon the table of our heart.” In addition we are to have the same love for wisdom that we do for our own sister, and have the same familiarity with understanding that we have with a very close kinswoman, even our mother who is the closest kinswoman we have. By so doing, wisdom and understanding will keep us out of the clutches of “the strange woman” who flatters us with her words.


(Verses 6 through 12) For at the window of my house I looked through my casement, and beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding,  passing through the street near her corner; and he went the way to her house, in the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night: and, behold, there met him  a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtil of heart. (She is loud and stubborn; her feet abide not in her house: now she is without, now in the streets, and lieth in wait at every corner.)


No doubt Solomon had an unobstructed view of a part of the city, as he looked out through his window. At one street corner within that area was the house of a prostitute. As Solomon was watching the people go and come before him, he saw among the “simple ones” a young man whom he did not consider to be very wise. And the action of this young man proved him to be correct in his evaluation of him. As this youth approached the corner at which the harlot lived, he went to her house. Apparently he thought that since it was twilight no one would recognize him as he approached her place. Solomon describes her activities as he approached. “And behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtil of heart. (She is loud and stubborn; her feet abide not in her house: now she is without, now in the streets, and lieth in wait at every corner.) Through verse 10 Solomon is describing only the actions of this one woman. But verses 11 and 12 are actually more of a description of her kind of woman than of her actions at that particular time. For his closing statement, in verse 12, is, “Now she is without, now in the streets; she lieth in wait at every corner.” This she certainly could not do all at one time. But this is her method of action. This is just the beginning of what Solomon says about her, and her kind, as we shall see as we continue.


(Verses 13 through 23) So she caught him, and kissed him; and with an impudent face said unto him, I have peace offerings with me; this day have I paid my vows. Therefore came I forth to meet thee, diligently to seek thy face, and I have found thee. I have decked my bed with coverings of tapestry, with carved works, with fine linen of Egypt . I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. Come, let us take our fill of love until the morning: let us solace ourselves with loves. For the Goodman is not at home, he has gone on a long journey: he hath taken a bag of money with him, and will come home at the day appointed. With her much fair speech she caused him to yield, with the flattering of her lips she forced him. He goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks; till a dart strike through his liver; as a bird hasteth to the snare, and knoweth not that it is for his life.


No doubt Solomon could see the woman as she greeted the foolish young man. But his report of the conversation she had with him is his surmise of what such a woman would say under such conditions. She seemed to be as many are today. She thought that if she followed some ritual of worship that would square her away for anything else she might do. So she starts of with a declaration that she had her peace offerings with her, and had that day paid her vows. Therefore she went out on the hunt for a man. She told the young man that she had been searching for him. However, any other that she could seduce would have suited her just as well. Whether or not she was married we do not know, but she gave the young man the impression that she was, and that her husband was out of town. She declared that he would not come home before the appointed time so they could have all the time they wanted to carry on their evil acts. What Solomon does not tell us is that such women sometimes have a male fellow-worker that would come in on them in the night, pretending to be her husband, and putting the young man in such a position that he would gladly pay any price he could to be let go. However, his statement in verses 22 and 23 would seem to indicate that very possibility. “He goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks; till a dart strike through his liver; as a bird hasteth to the snare, and knoweth not that it is for his life.”


(Verses 24 through 27) Hearken unto me now therefore, O ye children, and attend to the words of my mouth. Let not thine heart decline unto her ways, go not astray in her paths. For she hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men have been slain by her. Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death


The only part of this text that is not perfectly clear is the first statement of verse 27; “Her house is the way to hell.” Some contend that in this case “hell” means perdition itself, while others just as strongly maintain that it only means the grave. We certainly know that verse 27, when viewed in its entirety, gives us the picture that those who follow her are bringing about their own death and destruction. So, surely, no person of understanding would want to keep company with her.


Chapter 8

(Verses 1 through 9) Doth not wisdom cry? And understanding put forth her voice? She standeth in the top of high places, by the way in the places of the paths. She crieth at the gates, at the entrance of the city, at the coming in at the doors. Unto you, O men, I call; and my voice is to the sons of man. O ye simple, understand wisdom: and, ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart. Hear, for I will speak of excellent things; and the opening of my lips shall be right things. For my mouth shall speak truth; and wickedness is an abomination to my lips. All the words of my mouth are in righteousness; there is nothing froward or perverse in them. They are all plain to him that understandeth, and right to them that find knowledge.


Again Solomon personifies Wisdom as a woman. She is crying, or speaking loudly everywhere that people gather, whether in the top of high places, by the way in the places of the paths, at the gates, at the entry of the city, or at the coming in at the doors. Her message is the same to one and all, for she addresses it thus, “Unto you, O men, I call; and my voice is to the sons of man.” She even extends that call to the simple, and fools. But, alas, the fools will not hear, because such a message is not pleasing to them. It is, “Be ye of an understanding heart. Hear; for I will speak of excellent things; and the opening of my lips shall be right things. For my mouth shall speak truth; and wickedness is an abomination to my lips. All the words of my mouth are righteousness; there is nothing froward or perverse in them. They are all plain to him that understandeth, and right to them that find knowledge.” Solomon has already told us that fools hate knowledge. So this messages is not pleasing to them, and they will not listen to it.


(Verses 10 through 13) Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold. For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that can be desired are not to be compared to it. I, Wisdom, dwell with Prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions. The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth do I hate.


Although this message is to all men and all the descendants of man, yet fools will not receive it. Nevertheless, those who do receive it find it to be the truth, with no evil or falsehood mixed in it. It is only through wisdom and prudence that the knowledge of wise inventions can be found out. Since the fear of the LORD is to hate evil, and Wisdom hates pride, arrogancy, the evil way, and the froward mouth, she is certainly a desirable companion with whom to be associated.


(Verses 14 through 18) Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom: I am understanding; I have strength. By me kings reign, and princes decree justice. By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth. I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me. Riches and honour are with me; yea, durable riches and righteousness.


This is a continuation of Understanding’s message to all men. As we all know, any good counsel must come from wisdom and understanding. They give strength to all who make use of them. All kings who rule well must have wisdom and understanding. And, if they don’t, they will not rule long. Even all judges must have wisdom if they are to make the right disposition of the cases that come before them. Otherwise they will soon be brought to ruin. Those who love wisdom will certainly be benefited by wisdom. And those who begin early to seek after wisdom shall surely find it. Then they find that the riches and honor that wisdom gives are lasting, because they are based upon righteousness.


(Verses 19 through 26) My fruit is better than gold, yea, than fine gold; and my revenue than choice silver. I lead in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment: that I may cause those that love me to inherit substance; and I will fill their treasures. The LORD possessed me in the beginning of His way, before His works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth: while as yet He had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world.


Wisdom continues to tell us that what she provides for us is better than even the finest gold and silver, for she leads in the way of righteousness. All that she leads us to do is righteousness and judgment, which will cause us to “inherit substance,” that is, increase our supply of the riches she provides. Although wisdom can, and does help us to procure more material substance, the greatest of the treasures she provides is righteousness. The LORD had wisdom even before He created the heavens and the earth, and even when there was nothing else made, not even the fountains of water. Wisdom was brought forth before even the highest part of the dust of the world was made. Wisdom is an attribute of the LORD, even from everlasting, that is. Wisdom is eternal. So surely it is of incalculable value.


(Verses 27 through 31) When He prepared the heavens, I was there: when He set a compass upon the face of the depth: when He established the clouds above: when He strengthened the fountains of the deep: when He gave the sea His decree, that the waters should not pass His commandment: when He appointed the foundations of the earth: then was I by Him, as one brought up with Him: and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him; rejoicing in the habitable part of the earth; and my delights were with the sons of men.


Wisdom continues her statement, declaring that she was with the LORD when He prepared the heavens, and when He set a compass upon the face of the depth (the abyss, or outer space.) When He established the clouds, and when He strengthened the fountains of the deep, she was there. She was even present when He set the boundaries of the sea and appointed the foundation s of the earth. At that time she was as one brought up with Him. That is, she was His closest companion, and always rejoicing before Him. So far as literally having been brought up with Him, that could hardly be possible, since He is eternal, and did not grow up as people do. But wisdom is one of His eternal attributes, and has always been his delight. As soon as the earth was formed and populated, wisdom’s delights have been with the sons of men.


(Verses 32 through 36) Now therefore, hearken unto me, O ye children: for blessed are they that keep my ways. Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not. Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors. For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the LORD. But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death.


This is the conclusion to which wisdom brings us as we consider all she has said concerning herself. And unlike what most people say of themselves what she has said is all true. None of it is bragging, but all is just simply stating facts. Therefore we should pay close attention to what she has said, and hold fast to her instructions, as she has given them. Whosoever does so is blessed of God, and shall find favor with Him. Those who find wisdom do indeed find life. But those who refuse to listen to wisdom are wronging their own souls, and apparently must love death; for they are willfully walking in the way of death.


Chapter 9

(Verses 1 through 6) Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars: she hath killed her beasts; she hath mingled her wine; she hath also furnished her table. She hath sent forth her maidens: she crieth upon the highest places of the city, Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him, Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled. Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding.


Verse 1 declares that Wisdom is not in the process of building her house, but has it already finished. Since the number seven is usually considered in scripture as “a complete number,” that is, it is often used to mean all of anything instead of being restricted to only seven, she has already hewn out all the pillars necessary to support the house she has built. Therefore it is not only finished, but is also a very substantial building, having all the support necessary. Nothing else is needed. Not only so, but she has prepared a great banquet. Everything is fully prepared for it. She has killed her beasts, mingled her wine, and furnished her table. The feast is fully prepared, and now she has sent forth her maid servants to call, and even she herself is calling from the highest places in the city, for the guests to come to the feast. Since the wise do not have to be called, she calls the simple and those without understanding. Her message to them is, “Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled. Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding.” What more can she say? If this message will not bring them, there is not one that will.


(Verses 7 through 12) He that reproveth a scorner getteth to himself shame: and he that reproveth a wicked man getteth himself a blot. Reprove not a scorner lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the Holy is understanding. For by me thy days shall be multiplied, and the years of thy life shall be increased. If thou be wise, thou shalt be wise for thyself: but if thou scornest, thou alone shalt bear it.


Wisdom continues her message, and it is excellent advice. Just as surely as we attempt to reprove a scorner (one who thinks that he knows everything, and no one else knows anything) it will do nothing but cause us shame. For he will not listen to any reproof, but will, in spite, do something that will be of harm to us. And to rebuke a wicked man will only set us up as a target for some evil that he will do, trying to get even with us. The difference between a scorner and a wise man is seen, not only in the fact that the scorner actually knows nothing as he ought, while the wise man has sound knowledge of many things, but also in the reaction each will have to any effort at correction. The scorner will hate the one who tries to correct him, while the wise man will love the one who rebukes him, not that the wise man loves rebuke, but that he loves to be shown the truth. A wise man never gets too wise to learn. More instruction will only make him wiser. The same is also true of a just, or righteous man. Verse 10 gives the best definition of both wisdom and understanding that can be found anywhere. The fear of the LORD is not all that there is to wisdom, but it is the beginning of wisdom. So anyone who has not the fear of the LORD cannot be considered wise, for he does not even have the beginning of wisdom. And only those who have been brought to the knowledge of the LORD (the Holy) can be considered as having understanding. Wisdom will indeed multiply our days, and increase years of our lives, because it will show us how to avoid many dangers that are along the way. She tells us that if we are wise, we will be the ones who make the greatest gain from it. And, on the other hand, if we follow the way of the scorner, the suffering it will bring on will also be ours alone.


(Verses 13 through 18) A foolish woman is clamorous: she is simple, and knoweth nothing. For she sitteth at the door of her house, on a seat in the high places of the city, to call passengers who go right on their ways: Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: and as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him, Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant. But he knoweth not that the dead are there; and that her guests are in the depths of hell.


Wisdom warns us about the foolish woman. First of all, she is just that, foolish (devoid of intelligence or wisdom.) Then, although she starts her message just as did Wisdom, she goes immediately off track, and to him that has not understanding, she says, “Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant,” all of which are lies.  and far too often he yields to her call, not knowing “that the dead are there, and her guests are in the depths of hell.” Some may argue that in this statement “hell” only means the grave. But usually when that is the meaning, the word “hell” is used alone, and not “the depths of hell.”


Chapter 10

This chapter begins a collection of the wise sayings of Solomon that runs all the way through Chapter 30. They cover a variety of subjects. Sometimes they contrast the righteous man with the wicked man. Sometimes they also contrast moral virtues with the vices that are directly opposed to them. In most instances they are reasonably easy to understand. Sometimes his use of metaphors may call for a little explanation.


(Verses 1 through 7) The proverbs of Solomon, A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother. Treasures of wickedness profit nothing: but righteousness delivereth from death. The LORD will not suffer the soul of the righteous to famish: but He casteth away the substance of the wicked. He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich. He that gathereth in summer is a wise son: but he that sleepeth in harvest is a son that causeth shame. Blessings are upon the head of the just: but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked. The memory of the just is blessed: but the name of the wicked shall rot.


His first saying here is a simple declaration that any true father is made glad when he sees his son following after the way of wisdom, for he knows that wisdom is far better than riches. If a man has wisdom he can obtain wealth; but all the wealth in the world without wisdom will come to nothing. So a foolish son will always bring sorrow to his mother, because he will continually be getting into situations that will cause her to worry about him. Our Lord Jesus has given us two outstanding examples of the lack of profit in treasures of wickedness. Although Nothing is said about how he got his wealth, one of the rich men about whom the Lord spoke showed his wickedness in his effort to keep it all for himself. And the LORD’S  sentence upon him was, “Thou fool, this night shall thy soul be required of thee. Then whose shall these things be?” The other “died, and was buried. And in hell he lifted up his eyes and seeth Lazarus afar off, in Abraham’s bosom.” You know the rest of the story. If not, read Luke 16:19-31. Righteousness may not always deliver from physical death, but remember what Jesus said about Lazarus. “And it came to pass, that the beggar died , and was carried by angels to Abraham’s bosom.” This should give us a good illustration of the truth of Solomon’s statement. The same illustrations serve for his statement, “The LORD will not suffer the soul of the righteous to famish: but He casteth away the substance of the wicked.” Certainly, we can understand that any man who deals with a slack hand, that is, without paying attention to, and keeping account of what he is doing, cannot prosper in any kind of business. But the exercise of diligent care will bring prosperity. Solomon’s statement in verse 5 is set with an agricultural background, and therefore he uses applicable terms, such as summer, and harvest. But the same principle applies wherever one may be. The one who works while opportunity is present is the one who will prosper, while the one who passes up opportunity as if he were asleep will never have anything but shame to show for his lack of effort. Not only will blessings be upon the head of the just while he lives, but even his memory is blessed also. Even the speech of the wicked is of violence, and when he is dead everyone tries to forget him as soon as possible. There is no effort to preserve his memory.


(Verses 8 through 14) The wise in heart will receive commandments: but a prating fool shall fall. He that walketh uprightly walketh surely: but he that perverteth his ways shall be known. He that winketh with his eye causeth sorrow: but a prating fool shall fall. The mouth of a righteous man is a well of life: but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked. Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins. In the lips of him that hath understanding wisdom is found: but a rod is for the back of him that is void of understanding. Wise men lay up knowledge: but the mouth of the foolish is near to destruction.


A person who is wise in heart will listen to instructions, or commandments, because he knows that is the way to become even wiser. But the fool only wants to run his own mouth instead of listening to instruction. Therefore he will surely fall. The one who is doing righteousness is on safe ground, for his works shall stand whatever test is applied to them. On the other hand, those who turn their steps from the way of righteousness to wickedness will also be made known by their works. It has long been an almost universal habit that one who is pulling some trick on his neighbor will wink with his eye while he is doing so. Therefore he may, if successful in his endeavor, cause someone some sorrow. But, again, the fool will continue running his tongue until it trips him up so that he will surely fall. “The mouth of a righteous man is a well of life,” because his word is true, and can be depended upon, even when the situation becomes severe. Yet the mouth of the wicked speaks primarily of violent things, which will usually bring damage to either himself or others. Hatred will cause one to be constantly looking for opportunities of causing strife, while love will cause one to overlook the mistakes of another, and thereby cover up all sins, lest they cause strife. What those of understanding speak are words of wisdom; but those without understanding can only be controlled or corrected by laying punishment upon them. Wise men are always trying to learn more. Therefore they are laying up knowledge. But the fool will continue with his mouth until it brings his own destruction, and, perhaps, that of others.


(Verses  15 through 24) The rich man’s wealth is his strong city: the destruction of the poor is their poverty. The labour of the righteous tendeth to life: the fruit of the wicked to sin. He is in the way of life that keepeth instruction: but he that refuseth reproof erreth. He that hideth hatred with lying lips, and he that uttereth slander, is a fool. In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise. The tongue of the just is as choice silver: the heart of the wicked is little worth. The lips of the wise feed many: but fools die for want of wisdom. The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it. It is as sport to a fool to do mischief: but a man of understanding hath wisdom. The fear of the wicked. It shall come upon him: but the desire of the righteous shall be granted.


The rich man thinks that he can, by his wealth, overcome any situation that may arise. So he trusts in it as a king trusts in his most fortified city. The poor man blames all his troubles, even his destruction, on his poverty. He thinks that if he only had wealth he could do anything he might please. Inasmuch as the righteous man spends his effort doing that which is right, and therefore pleasing to the LORD, his labor does indeed tend, or lead to life. On the other hand, the fruit that comes forth from the wicked is evil, because it comes from an evil heart, and it is sin. If we would stay in the way of life, we must be ready to both receive and keep instructions. But it is a great error to refuse reproof. There are two characters that are fools, the one who tries to hide his hatred by lying about it, and he that is a slanderer. We have, no doubt, heard all our lives the saying, “The least said is the easiest mended.” That is just another way of saying what Solomon says here, “In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise.” In Solomon’s contrast of the just and the wicked, we might make a slight difference in the choice of words, and still come up with the same meaning. “The word of the just is as choice silver: but even the love of the wicked is of little value.” Although the lips of the wise feed many, fools die for want of wisdom, because they will not listen to the instructions given by the wise Notice that Solomon gives only one side of the matter of being made rich. That is the side which is brought about by the blessing of the LORD. It is with no sorrow added. On the other hand, the LORD has many times told us that getting rich by wickedness will indeed add sorrow. A fool thinks it fun, or sport, to do evil. But a man of understanding has sufficient wisdom to know that there are always undesirable consequences to such. It seems that verse 24 is so clear that no further comment on it would be necessary.


(Verses 25 through 29) As the whirlwind passeth, so is the wicked no more: but the righteous is an everlasting foundation. As vinegar to the teeth, and as smoke to the eyes, so is the sluggard to them that send him. The fear of the LORD prolongeth days: but the years of the wicked shall be shortened. The hope of the righteous shall be gladness: but the expectation of the wicked shall perish. The way of the LORD is strength to the upright: but destruction shall be to the workers of iniquity.


This text is a contrast between the righteous and the wicked, made in several different statements, with the exception of verse 26, which is a simple declaration that sending a lazy person to do anything will result in great irritation to the one who sends him. All the remainder of it is so simple that no explanation can make it clearer.


(Verses 30 through 32) The righteous shall never be removed: but the wicked shall not inhabit the earth. The mouth of the just bringeth forth wisdom: but the froward tongue shall be cut out. The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable: but the mouth of the wicked speaketh frowardness.


Verse 30 seems to be one of the most important verses in the Bible. It is a firm declaration that the LORD will never desert His people, “The righteous shall never be removed.” Whatever may come to pass, and no matter how dark may seem the day, His promise stands forever true. He also just as firmly declares that “the wicked shall not inhabit the earth.” In the light of what the LORD says in some other places in His word, the wicked will be permitted to take over the world for a little while. But their dominion will not last. For they shall be utterly destroyed, and finally cast into the lake of eternal fire. Perhaps his meaning in verse 31 is not that the tongue of the froward shall be surgically removed, so much as that the froward, along with his tongue shall be cut off at the appointed time. A righteous man will hold his tongue under control, and speak only that which is appropriate, while the wicked will continue to speak wickedness in any situation.


Chapter 11

(Verses 1 through 6) A false balance is abomination to the LORD: but a just weight is His delight. When pride cometh, then cometh shame. The integrity of the upright shall guide them: but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them. Riches profit not in the day of wrath: but righteousness delivereth from death. The righteousness of the perfect shall direct his way: but the wicked shall fall by his own wickedness. The righteousness of the upright shall deliver them: but transgressors shall be taken in their own naughtiness.


This is simply a collection of Solomon’s wise sayings. They are not only wisdom, but also truth. Perhaps none of them need any explanation. But they are worthy of our putting forth every effort to keep them in mind, and be guided by them. Not only is the use of a false balance cheating our neighbor, but it is also abomination to the LORD. Therefore He will punish those so engaged. When anyone is lifted up by pride, he is sure to fall into shame. Riches, though greatly sought after by almost everyone, lose their value in the time when the one who has them is faced by great wrath, especially the wrath of God. But righteousness does deliver from that wrath, and thus from death itself. The upright do not become so by their integrity, but because they are upright they walk in integrity, and it guides them. At the same time, the very perverseness of the transgressors shall finally bring them to destruction. In verse 5 the word, “perfect,” means, not those who are completely sinless, because none are; but those who are mature in wisdom. And such shall be guided by their own righteousness. But the wicked will continue to follow his own wickedness, and be destroyed thereby. Verse 6 is exactly the same thing said in different words.


(Verses 7 through 13) When a wicked man dieth, his expectation shall perish: and the hope of unjust men perisheth. The righteous is delivered out of trouble, and the wicked cometh in his stead. An hypocrite with his mouth destroyeth his neighbor: but through knowledge shall the just be delivered. When it goeth well with the righteous, the city rejoiceth: and when the wicked perish, there is shouting. By the blessing of the upright the city is exalted: but it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked. He that is void of wisdom despiseth his neighbor: but a man of understanding holdeth his peace. A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter.


When a wicked man dies, whatever he has planned, or hoped for perishes with him. For none want to carry on his cause. So even the hope of unjust men dies with them. God has indeed promised to deliver the righteous out of trouble, even that final trouble of the judgment. But there is no such promise to the wicked. They will be snared by it. The word, “hypocrite,” though originally meaning only an actor in a play, is commonly used to mean a person who pretends to be something that he is not, especially a wicked person who pretends to be righteous, or an enemy who pretends to be a friend. This, then is the person who with his mouth destroys his neighbor. Nevertheless, the just shall be delivered through knowledge. When things are going well with the righteous, the whole city is prospering, and therefore rejoicing. And when the wicked perish, the people shout for joy. Remember that the LORD said to Abraham that if ten righteous could be found in Sodom , He would spare the whole city for their sakes. So, surely, the city is exalted by the blessing of the righteous. Yet when the wicked become so dominant as they did in Sodom , their evil mouth causes the overthrow of the city. The first statement in verse 12 is true as written. But when reversed, it is also true. Thus, “He that despises his neighbor is void of understanding.” Remember our Lord’s illustration of the “Good Samaritan.” So a man of understanding, though he may have some misgivings about his neighbor, holds his peace, until the matter can be proven. Certainly we are all aware of the truth of verse13. What identifies a talebearer is his propensity for revealing secrets. And if he cannot find a secret to reveal, he will make one up and tell it, whether or not there is any substance to it. On the other hand, he that is faithful will not reveal the secrets he has received in confidence.


(Verses 14 through 21) Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety. He that is surety for a stranger shall smart for it: and he that hateth suretiship is sure. A gracious woman retaineth honour: and strong men retain riches. The merciful man doeth good to his own soul:  but he that is cruel troubleth his own flesh. The wicked worketh a deceitful work: but to him that soweth righteousness shall be a sure reward. As righteousness tendeth to life: so he that pursueth evil pursueth it to his own death. They that are of a froward heart are abomination to the LORD: but such as are upright in their way are His delight. Though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not be unpunished: but the seed of the righteous shall be delivered.


Since “counsel” literally means good advice, we can readily see that where there is no counsel, the people will surely fall. Also the more counselors (givers of good advice) we have, the greater is our likelihood of success. This by no means should be taken to mean that the more people we have trying to give advice, the greater is our safety, or our likelihood of success, because there are many who want to give advice, who are not wise enough to give good counsel. Only those with wisdom can do so. Anyone who becomes surety for one who is a stranger to him is certainly asking for trouble, and he is very likely to get it, while he that hates such action, and therefore will not do it is keeping himself on safe ground. A woman who is truly gracious will keep her honor just as strong men keep riches. It is her greatest asset. James 2: 13 bears witness to verse 17, thus, “For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.” So surely “The merciful man doeth good to his own soul.” On the other hand the cruelty of a cruel man finally brings trouble to him, that is, “to his own flesh.” The wicked does indeed work a deceitful work. And the one most greatly deceived by it is the wicked man who works it. In the mind of that wicked man it seems to promise great good fortune; but, in the end, it brings his own destruction. In contrast thereunto, “to him that soweth righteousness (engages in righteous works) shall be a sure reward.” Since righteousness and wickedness are directly opposed to each other, and lead in opposite directions, Solomon rightly concludes that, “As righteousness tendeth to life: so he that pursueth evil pursueth it to his own death.” Even so, “They that are of a froward (wicked) heart are abomination to the LORD: but such as are upright are His delight.” Then he declares that no matter how many hands are joined together to help the wicked, he shall still not escape punishment. But the LORD has promised to deliver not only the righteous, but his seed (descendants) also.


(Verses 22 through 27) As a jewel of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a fair woman without discretion. The desire of the righteous is only good: but the expectation of the wicked is wrath. There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty. The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself. He that withholdeth corn, the people shall curse him: but blessing shall be upon the head of him that selleth it. He that diligently seeketh good, procureth favor: but he that seeketh mischief, it shall come unto him.


Knowing the nature of a hog, to stick its nose in the first available mud hole, we would certainly consider a jewel of gold in his snout a very ridiculous sight. But just so is a beautiful woman who does not have sufficient understanding to maintain her virtue. The only thing for which the righteous is seeking is that which is good, while what the wicked can rightly expect is wrath, the wrath of man, and also the wrath of God. Sometimes scattering, not in the sense of throwing away, that which one has, but in giving it for the benefit of others, will even cause it to increase. At the same time, holding on to it too tightly may impoverish not only the one who might be in need, but also him who refuses to give. About the best explanation of verses 25 and 26 is found in what our Lord said, (Matthew 7:12 ) “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so unto them: for this is the law and the prophets.” As we look back through what He had already said in this speech, we find that He had already covered the blessings our heavenly father will give us. So this is said concerning only what men will do. And though we may meet with some exceptions, the majority will respond in kind. Therefore “the liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself.” In like manner, he that has corn, but will not sell it to his neighbors when they are in need of it, shall be cursed by the people. But they will bless him that sells it. We should always keep verse 27 in mind. Any man that is diligently seeking good will be held in favor by those around him; but one who is always seeking trouble will surely find it.


(Verses 28 through 31) He that trusteth in his riches shall fall: but the righteous shall flourish as a branch. He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind: and the fool shall be servant to the wise of heart. The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise. Behold, the righteous shall be recompensed in the earth: how much more the wicked and the sinner.


The man who trusts in his riches will surely fall, because the time will come when his situation will be such that all the wealth in the world cannot help him. But righteousness is of the LORD, and will endure forever. Therefore the righteous shall continue to flourish. Surely, he that troubles, or brings evil upon his own house will have little left. So his inheritance amounts to nothing more than the wind. Because of his lack of wisdom and understanding the fool will always be the servant of the one who has wisdom. In verse 30 the word, “souls” is used not in the restricted sense, but as it is in Genesis 46: 25-27, meaning the whole person. And the man who wins people to his cause has to be wise. The expression, “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life,” is a declaration that the result of righteous living is that it will lead others to follow the same way, thus sustaining their spiritual life as natural food sustains natural life. In verse 31 Solomon is telling us that the righteous shall be recompensed (for their righteousness) in the earth, while it in no wise denies that they shall receive the blessing also of eternal life. At the same time, the wicked and the sinner shall also be recompensed in the earth, and they have no promise of anything better in eternity.


Chapter 12

(Verses 1 through 6) Whoso loveth instruction loveth knowledge: but he that hateth reproof is brutish. A good man obtaineth favour of the LORD: but a man of wicked devices will He condemn. A man shall not be established by wickedness: the root of the righteous shall not be moved. A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones. The thoughts of the righteous are right: but the counsels of the wicked are deceit. The words of the wicked are to lie in wait for blood: but the mouth of the upright shall deliver them.


We continue with Solomon’s sayings of contrast between good and evil. Inasmuch as we gain knowledge through instruction, one who loves instruction must love knowledge. And vice versa one who loves knowledge also loves instruction. But one who hates reproof is no more interested in knowledge than are the brute beasts. No man can be good unless so made by the LORD. Therefore he will surely obtain favor of the LORD. But he that is always designing wicked devices will be condemned by Him. Wickedness cannot provide a lasting foundation for any man, but righteousness will stand the test of all time, so that the root, or foundation, of the righteous cannot be moved. A virtuous wife is more valuable than wealth to a man, and is therefore a crown to him, while the wife of whom her husband has to be ashamed is the greatest burden he can have. So, as Solomon says, she is rottenness in his bones. By the very nature of his being righteous, the thoughts of the righteous are right. This does not mean that every thought he has is correct, and that he cannot be mistaken, but that they are governed by right principles. At the same time, the counsels of the wicked are deceit because of the evil nature of the wicked. Solomon has previously told us that the wicked cannot even rest unless they have planned evil for someone, so their words are most likely to be plans of trouble, and even death for someone. But the righteous will work toward delivering themselves and others from evil.


(Verses 7 through 14) The wicked are overthrown, and are not: but the house of the righteous shall stand. A man shall be commended according to his wisdom: but he that is of a perverse heart shall be despised. He that is despised, and hath a servant, is better than he that honoureth himself, and lacketh bread. A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel. He that telleth his land shall be satisfied with bread: but he that followeth vain persons is void of understanding. The wicked desireth the net of evil men: but the root of the righteous yieldeth fruit. The wicked is snared by the transgression of his lips, but the just shall come out of trouble.  A man shall be satisfied with good by the fruit of his mouth: and the recompence of a man’s hands shall be rendered unto him.


Although the wicked may for a time seem to be thriving, and may for a while be more prosperous than the righteous, the time will surely come when he shall be overthrown. And when this takes place, he will not rise again. But since the house of the righteous is built on the foundation of righteousness, it shall stand. It is upheld by a sound foundation. Not only is a man commended according to his wisdom, but that very fact insures that he that is of a perverse heart, (or perverse in heart) shall be despised for his lack of wisdom. In verse 9 Solomon is principally concerned with which man is in a better position financially. He is by no means concerned with the moral position of either. Of course, one might also consider that the man who honors himself is not necessarily honored by his neighbors, and might not be such a good man himself. But it still remains that he who has a servant is in better financial condition than he who does not even have bread. A righteous man will have concern for his beast of burden, and will therefore take good care of him, even to seeing that he is not overloaded, while the wicked will load all he can upon him, and beat him to make him carry the load, even when it is more than he should carry. For even his “tender mercies,” or kindest thoughts, are still cruel. Surely the man who tills his land shall receive more from it than he that follows after vain persons. And he who follows after such persons does not have understanding to know the difference. The wicked wants the net evil men use to snare the unsuspecting, and will make every effort to use it. But such cannot produce lasting fruit. That can only come from righteousness. The speech of the wicked will finally snare him: but that of the just, or righteous, shall bring him out of trouble. Verse 14 is just another way of saying what Paul said in Galatians 5:7. “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”


(Verses 15 through 23) The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise. A fool’s wrath is presently known: but a prudent man covereth shame. He that speaketh forth truth sheweth forth righteousness: but a false witness deceit. There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise  is health. The lip of truth shall be established for ever: but a lying tongue is but for a moment. Deceit is in the heart of them that imagine evil: but to the counselors of peace is joy. There shall no evil happen to the just: but the wicked shall be filled with mischief. Lying lips are abomination to the LORD: but they that deal truly are His delight. A Prudent man concealeth knowledge: but the heart of fools proclaimeth foolishness.


No doubt the way of a wise man also seems right to him. But he is also willing to listen to advice, and weigh it to see if it might be better than what he has already thought of. But the fool will not listen to reason, because he is so set in his own way. Therefore he will follow no advice but goes his own way, even though it may bring him to ruin. Because the wise man listens to counsel, he may learn a better way than he had before. When a fool is angered by anything, or anyone that may not do just as he desires, he immediately makes it known: but though a prudent man may not find things to his liking, he will keep quiet about it until he has had time to consider it carefully. Thus he covers not only the shame of a possible failure of his plans, but also that of having caused an unnecessary uproar. One who speaks the truth shows forth righteousness in that he declares that which is true, and he shows that righteousness is what he is seeking, while a false witness shows that his only purpose is to deceive. There are those who have no consideration for others, and therefore say whatever they think regardless of its consequences to others. And often it wounds like a sword without regard for its victims. But when the wise speak, they show consideration for those around them, and thus their word is health, for it heals the wounds of those who listen. There shall be joy to the counselors of peace, those who give advice that brings about peace. And because their word is “the lip of truth” it shall be established for ever. “But deceit is in the heart of them that imagine evil,” and because theirs is a lying tongue, they can get no lasting good from it. “A lying tongue is but for a moment.” It may boast great things. But as soon as it is identified as “a lying tongue” everyone despises it. When Solomon says, “There shall no evil happen to the just,” he is not saying that they shall never have any troubles, but rather, that they cannot be destroyed by evil. Even if they are killed, so far as the body is concerned, they rise to be with the LORD. “But the wicked shall be filled with mischief” (destruction.) They cannot win. Since the LORD is truth, those whose traffic is in lies are abomination to Him, and those who deal truly are His delight. Solomon does not mean that a prudent man will not reveal knowledge at the appropriate time, and to those to whom it is due; but that he is not always telling everyone about it. At the same time, the fool, because he has no real knowledge, but thinks he always has to say something, proclaims foolishness.


(Verses 24 through 28) The hand of the diligent shall bear rule: but the slothful shall be under tribute. Heaviness in the heart of a man maketh it stoop: but a good word maketh it glad. The righteous is more excellent than his neighbor: but the way of the wicked seduceth them. The slothful man roasteth not that which he took in hunting: but the substance of a diligent man is precious. In the way of righteousness there is life; and in the pathway thereof there is no death.


Verses 24 and 25 seem clear enough without comment. The only possible point of misunderstanding in verse 26 seems to be in the last clause. One might wonder whether Solomon means that the way of the wicked seduces the righteous, or that their way brings about their own seduction. While their way might sometimes be a great temptation to the righteous, we would think that the LORD will provide them protection against such as He did to Asaph. Read Psalm 73. Give special attention to the temptation  Asaph describes that was upon him, beginning with, “But as for me,” in verse 2, and going through verse 16. Then compare God’s mercy to him, as set forth in the remainder of that Psalm. In the light of this, it seems that the wicked way of the wicked seduces them more and more in the exercise of evil. The slothful man is so lazy that he does not take anything in hunting. Therefore he has nothing from the hunt to roast. But the diligent considers his substance, whether taken in the hunt, harvested in the field, or gained from elsewhere, to be worth putting forth effort to obtain. “In the way of righteousness is life; and in the pathway thereof there is no death.” Some may say, “That last clause cannot be true, because everyone must die.” So far as the natural body is concerned, it will surely die, unless the Lord Jesus returns before death overtakes it: but Jesus has proven that the saints of the Lord never die. Remember His saying, “He (God) is not the God of the dead, but of the living. For all live unto Him.” Then He proved this by arising from the grave, and ascending up to the Father. So there is no death in the pathway of righteousness.


Chapter 13

(Verses 1 through 6) A wise son heareth his father’s instruction: but a scorner heareth not rebuke. A man shall eat good by the fruit of his mouth: but the soul of transgressors shall eat violence. He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life: but he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction. The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat. A righteous man hateth lying: but a wicked man is loathsome, and cometh to shame. Righteousness keepeth him that is upright in the way: but wickedness overthroweth the sinner.


Solomon continues with his contrast of moral virtues and their opposing vices. The wise son will pay attention to the instructions he receives from his father. But a scorner, one who feels that he knows more than anyone else, will listen to rebuke from no one. Certainly, if a man is to be fed by the fruit of his mouth, the transgressors must eat violence; for that is the only fruit their mouth produces. The man who keeps his mouth under control is surely protecting his life, and thus keeping it, while he that is always talking will, sooner or later, bring trouble, and possibly destruction, upon himself. The sluggard because of his laziness will have nothing, no matter what he may desire. He will not put forth the effort to acquire it. But the diligent man is constantly acquiring gain from his labor. A righteous man hates lying, and by his integrity maintains himself in the way of uprightness, and free of many snares. But the wicked man is so loathsome that he doesn’t mind lying, if he thinks he can make a gain by it. And he, continuing on with his falsehood and wickedness, is overthrown and brought to shame by it.


(Verses 7 through 12) There is that maketh himself rich, yet hath nothing: there is that maketh himself poor, yet hath great riches. The ransom of a man’s life are his riches: but the poor heareth not rebuke. The light of the righteous rejoiceth: but the lamp of the wicked shall be put out. Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom. Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished: but he that gathereth by labour shall increase. Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh it is a tree of life.


One might be tempted to interpret verse 7 in either of two directly opposite ways: but in consideration of the fact that Solomon tells us in Proverbs 22:1, “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold,” it seems obvious that his meaning here is that there are those who in an effort to amass a great fortune in worldly treasures, completely fail to gain that good name and loving favor, thus having nothing, while others make themselves poor in worldly goods by distributing what they have to others in need, and thus gain the greatest wealth of all, a good name and loving favor. If a man has great wealth, it may all be required to ransom his life. Whereas the poor is in much less danger of having such a demand made of him. So no one bothers him. Righteousness is the light of the righteous. So it does, and shall, rejoice. Yet though it mat be permitted to burn longer than we would like, the lamp of the wicked shall be put out. For it is wickedness. Those lifted up with pride will certainly bring contention, while those with wisdom will show self control. We have all heard the old saying, “Easy come; easy go,” applied to any easy gain. And that is exactly the meaning of the first clause of verse 11. If a man must labor to gain something, he will be more careful to hold on to it that it may increase. Certainly, we have all had the experience of hoping and waiting for something, and when the time arrived for that for which we had waited, for some reason it was delayed. How that lets us down in spirit! But when we finally do obtain it, our spirit is lifted as if we had received “a new lease on life.”


(Verses 13 through 19) Whoso despiseth the word shall be destroyed: but he that feareth the commandment shall be rewarded. The law of the wise is a fountain of life to depart from the snares of death. Good understanding giveth favour: but the way of transgressors is hard. Every prudent man dealeth with knowledge: but a fool layeth open his folly. A wicked messenger falleth into mischief: but a faithful ambassador is health. Poverty and shame shall be to him that refuseth instruction: but he that regardeth reproof shall be honoured. The desire accomplished is sweet to the soul: but it is abomination to fools to depart from evil.


In verse 13, “word” is to be understood to be the same as “commandment,” both of which mean the order of those in authority. So, of course, he that despises it shall be destroyed, because he will not obey it. He that fears it will obey it, and will therefore be rewarded for his obedience. The law of the wise will turn those of understanding away from the snares of death, thereby becoming a fountain of life to them. Good understanding, or wisdom, will bring those who have it into favor, while those who, for lack thereof are transgressors, will find much difficulty in their pathway. When wise men speak, it is obvious that they are dealing with knowledge. But when fools are carrying on a conversation, their folly is obvious to all. A wicked messenger is not concerned with the importance of his errand, and will therefore likely do something that will bring evil upon him that sent him. But a faithful ambassador will accomplish his mission properly, and bring forth a worthwhile outcome for that committed unto him. One who will not receive instruction will certainly come to both poverty and shame. Those who consider the reproofs given to them will learn to do better with that committed unto them, and will finally be rewarded for their labor and care. The accomplishment of that which has been desired gives a sweet sense of satisfaction to the soul. But fools will never feel that, because they will not depart from evil long enough to accomplish anything.


(Verses 20 through 25) He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed. Evil pursueth sinners: but to the righteous good shall be repayed. A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children’s children: and the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just. Much food is in the tillage of the poor: but there is that that is destroyed for want of judgment. He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes. The righteous eateth to the satisfying of his soul: but the belly of the wicked shall want.


Our companions certainly have a great deal to do with our gaining wisdom and knowledge, and with our lack of doing so. It is also well known that we will seek the companionship of, and follow the examples of those we admire. Therefore if we are companions of the wise we will learn wisdom, while if we stay in the company of fools we will be as foolish as they. And that will lead to our destruction. Those who continue on in sin will be overtaken by punishment: but the good deeds of the righteous shall be rewarded. We shall reap what we sow. Whether or not a good man is able to acquire wealth to leave to his descendants, he will leave them the inheritance of a good name, which is more valuable than gold and silver.. The wealth of the sinner can only be in worldly things, and that will eventually go to the just. The poor man often puts just as much effort into making a living as does anyone else: but sometimes his profit is destroyed for his lack of sufficient judgment to recognize good opportunities. We sometimes see those who will say, “I just cannot punish my child. I love him too much, That is a totally false view of the situation. Punishing a child should always be done for the same purpose once expressed by a friend of mine who, at that time had a small daughter. He said, “I love my daughter whatever she may do. But when she gets grown, I also want other people to love her.” And he was successful in that. To let one grow up without chastisement is a sure sign of a lack of proper love. The Lord has promised that to those who serve Him such necessities as food and clothing will be added: but He has made no such promise to the wicked. And this is essentially what Solomon has said in verse 25.



Chapter 14

(Verses 1 through 6) Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands. He that walketh in his uprightness feareth the LORD: but he that is perverse in his ways despiseth Him. In the mouth of the foolish is a rod of pride: but the lips of the wise shall preserve them. Where no oxen are the crib is clean: but much increase is by the strength of the ox. A faithful witness will not lie: but a false witness will utter lies. A scorner seeketh wisdom, and findeth it not: but knowledge is easy to him that understandeth.


A woman of wisdom will put forth every effort to see that her family (house) is cared for and given every advantage that she can provide. But the foolish woman cannot recognize opportunities for improvement when they occur, and therefore her family will suffer by reason of her lack of wisdom. If you wish to know whether or not one loves the LORD watch his actions, not his words. If he walks in uprightness, He loves and fears the LORD. On the other hand, if he walks contrary to the commandments of the LORD, he despises the LORD. That may seem a little strong for some people. But That is exactly what Solomon is saying in this verse. In Solomon’s usage the rod is the instrument of delivering punishment to those who deserve it. So the very words of the fool shall bring him into punishment: but the words of the wise shall deliver them from punishment. In Solomon’s day the farm where there were no oxen to do the tilling, there was no harvest, and therefore the crib was clean. But where there are oxen to work, much increase can be gained. This same principle applies as well in the home, in the office, in the factory, or even in the church. Where there are no workers little, if anything, will be done. But where there is plenty of labor much increase can be expected. Verse 5 is such an obvious truth that no explanation should be needed for it. Since the scorner thinks that he already knows everything, he cannot find wisdom even if he attempts to seek it. But if a man has understanding it is easy for him to gain knowledge.


(Verses 7 through 12) Go from the presence of a foolish man, when thou perceivest not in him the lips of knowledge. The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way: but the folly of fools is deceit. Fools make a mock at sin: but among the righteous there is favour. The heart knoweth his own bitterness; and a stranger doth not intermeddle with his joy. The house of the wicked shall be overthrown: but the tabernacle of the upright shall flourish. There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.


Verse 7 is simply good advice. As soon as you become aware that a man is foolish, and has no understanding, the best thing you can do is to get away from him. A wise man will surely understand his way, that is, what he is doing, and where he is going. If he is not able to do this, he cannot be said to be a prudent man. On the other hand, the deceitfulness of their minds is what makes fools of men. Fools are so unconcerned about sin that they will make a mock at it (or make mockery of it.) But the righteous find favor with those around them. Perhaps the first clause of verse 10 might be a little clearer by making a slight change in it, thus, “Only the heart knoweth his own bitterness.” Surely, the heart does know its own bitterness, but no one else does. It also knows its own joy, and a stranger cannot know enough about it to intermeddle with it. If the wicked should build a house, it will be overthrown. But if all the upright has is a tent, it shall flourish, or stand strong. Inasmuch as it has the greatest attraction for the greatest number of people, surely worldly pleasure is the way that seemeth right unto a man. But all it can do is to lead to death.


(Verses 13 through 21) Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful; and the end of that mirth is heaviness. The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways: and a good man shall be satisfied from himself. The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going. A wise man feareth, and departeth from evil: but the fool rageth, and is confident. He that is soon angry dealeth foolishly: and a man of wicked devices is hated. The simple inherit folly: but the prudent are crowned with knowledge. The evil bow before the good; and the wicked at the gates of the righteous. The poor is hated even of his own neighbor: but the rich hath many friends. He that despiseth his neighbor sinneth: but he that hath mercy on the poor, happy is he.


Perhaps Solomon did not mean that the heart is always sorrowful in laughter. But there surely are times when this is the case. And when it is, even the end of that mirth is heaviness. The man who is always backing away from that which he intends to do, will in the end have nothing but his own failures to consider. He will have accomplished nothing, while the good man, or the one who carries through with his purposes and plans will be satisfied with his accomplishments. The simple, or he with little understanding, believes every word he is told. But a man of understanding well considers both what he hears and what he sees before believing it. When a man of understanding becomes aware that evil is approaching, he will depart. But the fool continues in his anger, and is confident that he can “weather the storm.” Being quick to anger is a foolish manner of dealing with anything. And everyone, even those who pretend to be his friends, hates the one who is always studying up evil things to do. “The simple inherit folly,” seems to mean not so much that the simple actually inherit folly, as that they consider it their inheritance, and so engage in it all the time. But the crown, or greatest achievement of the prudent is the knowledge and wisdom he has acquired. We do not always see the fulfillment of verse 19, but we have to keep in mind that much of the glory for the righteous is reserved for the world to come instead of the present life. We do often see the evidence of verse 20. As long as a man’s money holds out everyone wants to be his friend. But when it runs short, his friends cannot be found. But one who despises that poor neighbor is committing sin. Yet the one who shows mercy to the poor is blessed, and therefore happy.


(Verses 22 through 29) Do they not err that devise evil? But mercy and truth shall be to them that devise good. In all labour there is profit: but the talk of the lips tendeth only to penury. The crown of the wise is their riches: but the foolishness of fools is folly. A true witness delivereth souls: but a deceitful witness speaketh lies. In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence: and His children shall have a place of refuge. The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death. In the multitude of people is the kings honor: but in the want of people is the destruction of the prince. He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding: but he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly.


The question Solomon asks in verse 22 is the equivalent of saying, “They that devise evil do greatly err.” Mercy and truth shall not be to them, but only those who devise good. Whether a man works much or little, there can be profit in it, for it can be found in any labor. But he that spends his time talking, and attempting no work at all will never find any profit therein. It will only lead to poverty. The crown of the wise is their riches, whether material wealth or a good name. But the fool obtains neither. All he has is his folly. A true witness will by his testimony deliver the innocent soul. But a deceitful witness can not be trusted, for he will only tell lies. Verse 26 and 27 need no explanation. But they do need to be kept in mind, and often repeated both to ourselves and others. As the inhabitants of a kingdom increase in number so does the glory of their country and their king. But as they become fewer and fewer the glory of their king diminishes; and it may even come to destruction. The slower a man is to wrath the greater wisdom he shows, even if he has cause for being angry. But one who is quick to anger is only exalting folly. For no man can think as well when angry as when he is calm and cool headed.


(Verses 30 through 35) A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones. He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker: but he that honoureth Him hath mercy on the poor. The wicked is driven away in his wickedness: but the righteous hath hope in his death. Wisdom resteth in the heart of him that hath understanding: but that which is in the midst of fools is made known. Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people. The king’s favour is toward a wise servant: but his wrath is against him that causeth shame.


So far as the natural organ that we call the heart is concerned, it, if sound, is unquestionably the life of the flesh. But as Solomon uses it here, it seems that he is more concerned with the emotions than with that actual organ. As long as we are emotionally well balanced, not angry at anyone, not feeling that someone has wronged us, and not envious of  anyone, even the body feels energized and full of life. But if we allow envy to enter into our emotions (heart) it will make us feel as if our bones were indeed rotten, and we may even get to the point that we mope around, and even fall into a real depression. So surely we should guard against such an event. There are those who seem to think that they cam oppress the poor and get away with it. But surely they do not realize that one who oppresses the poor is reproaching his Maker. And that is indeed a very dangerous practice. But all who honor their Maker have mercy on the poor. The wicked has no promise of any joy beyond death. So he continues on in his wickedness, and is driven away in it, that is, he never turns away from it. But the righteous, even in death, still has hope of a glorious future. A man of understanding is not always advertising his wisdom. He lets it rest quietly in his heart unless and until needed. But fools are constantly telling others what they have, never realizing that all they have is folly. Verses 34 and 35 are clear enough to need no explanation. They will stand on their own.



Chapter 15

(Verses 1 through 7) A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger. The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright: but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness. The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good. A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit. A fool despises his father’s instruction: but he that regardeth reproof is prudent. In the house of the righteous is much treasure: but in the revenue of the wicked is trouble. The lips of the wise disperse knowledge: but the heart of the foolish doeth not so.


It seems that many think that to give a soft answer, particularly when that answer is a negative would make them appear weak. But such is by no means the case. Even if we know that the answer we are giving will be unpleasant to the one receiving it, we can still give it in soft words rather than in grievous words. And though it may not be the answer the one to whom we are speaking would like to receive, we can show that we are not trying to stir up trouble. Knowledge, if inappropriately given forth can sometimes do harm. For that reason the wise use knowledge aright. But since the fool has no wisdom, he is constantly speaking forth his foolishness.  Nothing, whether good or evil can escape the sight of the LORD. For His eyes are in every place. He sees everything, even those things we foolishly try to hide. A tongue that speaks truth, and uses knowledge appropriately is a great comfort and strength to the one addressed by it. But a tongue that speaks lies, and shows no consideration for the one to whom it speaks will break the spirit. A fool despises instruction even if given by his own father. But a prudent man will regard reproof from any legitimate source. Since the house of the righteous is filled with love of and respect for the LORD, whether or not he has any silver or gold, it does have much treasure, whereas all the wicked can have is the silver and gold, and with it much trouble. Verse 7 is so obviously true that it needs no explanation; but will stand alone.


(Verses 8 through 17) The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD: but the prayer of the upright is His delight. The way of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD: but He loveth him that followeth after righteousness. Correction is grievous to him that forsaketh the way: and he that hateth reproof shall die. Hell and destruction are before the LORD: how much more then the hearts of the children of men? A scorner loveth not one that reproveth him: neither will he go to the wise. A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken. The heart of him that hath understanding seeketh knowledge: but the mouth of fools feedeth on foolishness. All the days of the afflicted are evil: but he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast. Better is little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble therewith. Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith.


There seemed to be an idea among some that one could do anything he might desire, and as long as he brought the proper sacrifice to be offered to the LORD everything would be all right. Solomon declares that this is not right. Both the way and the sacrifice of the wicked are abominations to the LORD. But the LORD loves them that follow after righteousness, and delights in their prayers. To forsake anything is to deliberately lay it aside and leave it. So one who forsakes the way (the path of righteousness) considers correction to be grievous. And surely it is, for he that hates reproof shall die. That is, he that will not be corrected by reproof shall surely be brought to destruction by his wickedness. Since the LORD is able to see both hell and destruction, it is extremely foolish for men to think He cannot see even the darkest recesses of their hearts. For the very reason that a scorner hates anyone who reproves him, he will not go to the wise. As long as our heart is merry we will have a cheerful countenance. But when the heart becomes sorrowful we can no longer keep up our spirits, no matter how we try. The heart of the wise is constantly seeking more knowledge. But fools can only speak of what they know, which is nothing but foolishness. In verse 15 the word, “Evil,” is to be understood as “unpleasant.” So to the afflicted every day is unpleasant. But to one who has no affliction, and whose heart is always merry, every day is as a great feast to him. The truth of verses 16 and 17 is so obvious that no explanation can make them any clearer.


(Verses 18 through 25) A wrathful man stirreth up strife: but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife. The way of a slothful man is as a hedge of thorns: but the way of the righteous is made plain. A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish man despiseth his mother. Folly is joy to him that is destitute of wisdom: but a man of understanding walketh uprightly. Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counselors they are established. A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in season how good is it! The way of life is above to the wise, that he may depart from hell beneath. The LORD will destroy the house of the proud: but He will establish the border of the widow.


Any man who is constantly filled with wrath is also continually stirring up strife. On the other hand, one who is slow to anger can avoid strife by his soft words and humble attitude. The slothful man is so lazy that it is as if there were a hedge of thorns between him and anything he ought to be doing. But the righteous man can clearly see his way to accomplish that which is right. Any father is made glad by a son who proves himself to be wise. But a foolish son will always cause shame; and that proves that he has no consideration for his mother, because she usually receives even greater sorrow from his shame than does anyone else. The greatest joy a fool (one without wisdom) can have is his folly. But a man of wisdom will have nothing to do with such, but walks on in the way of uprightness and truth. When one sets out to accomplish something without heeding the advice of anyone, his purpose is likely to fail; But the advice of more counselors will often establish, and direct his purpose to success. A man’s joy often depends upon what kind of answer he can give to any proposition. And often the right word spoken in season is a great aid. It would seem that verse 24 is in no need of explanation , or of comment except to say that we should hold it fast, and never forget it. Throughout the Bible the LORD has commanded us to be especially kind and helpful to the widow. Here Solomon declares that He will establish her border: but He will destroy the house of the proud, those who think themselves too important to take time to help her.


(Verses 26 through 33) The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the LORD: but the words of the pure are pleasant words. He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house: but he that hateth gifts shall live. The heart of the righteous studieth to answer: but the mouth of the wicked poureth out evil things. The LORD is far from the wicked: but He heareth the prayer of the righteous The light of the eyes rejoiceth the heart: and a good report maketh the bones fat. The ear that heareth the reproof of life abideth among the wise. He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul: but he that heareth reproof getteth understanding. The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility.


Even if the wicked do not speak, their thoughts are an abomination to the LORD. But when the pure speak their words are pleasant. A man that is greedy of gain, and therefore seeking constantly for it brings trouble upon his own house, or family, while he that cares nothing about gifts, or gain , to the point of always seeking it can take time to live, or enjoy life. The heart of a righteous man causes him to study, or consider what answer he can give: but the mouth of the wicked is always ready to pour out evil things. The LORD is far from the wicked. But He is always near enough to the righteous to hear their prayers. The light of the eyes, or the ability to see clearly causes the heart to rejoice; and a good report on any matter about which we are concerned always causes us to feel refreshed, as if our very bones were fattening up, and becoming more vigorous. If a man’s ears will listen to reproof, and his heart will accept it, he is, without question, a wise man. One who refuses instruction has little regard for his own soul, or life, while he who does listen to reproof gains understanding thereby. The instruction that brings forth wisdom is the fear of the LORD; and true honor can never come to the proud. It must always be preceded by humility.


Chapter 16

(Verses 1 through 9) The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the LORD. All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes: but the LORD weigheth the spirits. Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established. The LORD hath made all things for Himself, yea, even the wicked for the day of evil. Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD: though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished. By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by fear of the LORD men depart from evil. When a man’s ways please the LORD, He maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him. Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues without right. A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directs his steps.


It would seem that, surely, Solomon’s meaning in verse 1 is that the LORD is the One Who makes the preparations of a man’s heart that enable him to give a righteous answer from his tongue. No doubt a man left to himself, if he gave any answer, would probably give one that is not good. For all men have many ways that seem right and clean to them, but are an abomination to the LORD  But the LORD weighs the spirits, and evaluates both the evil and the good. Solomon says that when we commit our works to the LORD, (and that means all of them,) our thoughts (or our plans) will be established. Our biggest trouble with this is that we may try to commit some of our works to Him; but we usually want to try to keep control of some of them. And this does not measure up to the mark. Verse 4 is one that needs no explanation, but many just simply do not believe it. They will even try to make some kind of excuse to claim that there are many things that the LORD did not make. Yet He declares that He has made all things, and that He made them for Himself. We need inquire no further. The LORD so hates pride and arrogance that those who are proud are an abomination to Him. And no matter how many join together to try to uphold them, they shall not go without proper punishment. By the mercy of the LORD our iniquity is purged when we are brought to true confession of it to Him. The only thing that will cause men to really depart from evil is the fear of the LORD. Many other things may cause a man to temporarily turn away from it; but nothing else will keep him from it. Verse 7 is another one that is clearly enough stated that it needs no explanation; but like verse 4, it must be followed all the way to measure up. Since righteousness is a foundation that will last forever, it is better to have very little of this world’s goods with it than a great fortune without it. A man is always planning his way: but so many times, in spite of his best laid plans, something that he did not take into consideration comes in, and changes his course. Solomon says that this is the LORD directing the man’s steps. And certainly none can successfully deny it.


(Verses 10 through 17) A divine sentence is in the lips of the king: his mouth transgresseth not in judgment. A just weight and balance are the LORD’S: all the weights of the bag are His work. It is an abomination to kings to commit wickedness: for a throne is established by righteousness. Righteous lips are a delight of kings: and they love him that speaketh right. The wrath of a king is as messengers of death: but a wise man will pacify it. In the light of the king’s countenance is life; and his favour is as a cloud of the latter rain. How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! And to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver! The highway of the upright is to depart from evil: he that keepeth his way preserveth his soul.


It was, no doubt, from verse 10 that much of the foundation of the ancient doctrine of “Divine Right of Kings” was taken. If taken literally, this will certainly uphold that doctrine. However, it seems likely that Solomon may have had in mind the fact that whether right or wrong the word of the king was law, and none of his subjects could accuse him of giving an unrighteous judgment. And therefore it amounted to the same thing as if his sentence was divine, and he could not make a mistake. At the same time the LORD requires a just weight and balance. And all weights of the bag, whether large or small, are his work, and therefore must be made accurate, and kept just. Although it is an abomination for a king to commit wickedness, because righteousness is what establishes a throne, history is filled with accounts of kings who did commit wickedness. And it destroyed their throne. Solomon is unquestionably speaking of good kings, when he says, “Righteous lips are the delight of kings: and they love him that speaketh right.” Not only is the wrath of a king as the messengers of death, but it can, and often does, actually send forth the messenger of death to those against whom his wrath has been aroused. But a wise man will certainly put forth every effort to pacify it. When the king is pleased, and his face is lighted with his pleasure it does indeed promise life to those upon whom he smiles. And his favor is as pleasant to the recipient as is the cloud of the latter rain. It is far better to get wisdom and understanding than to get gold and silver, for thieves cannot rob one of wisdom and understanding: but they can readily steal gold and silver. Verse 17 seems reasonably clear. Since the highway of the upright is to depart from evil, the very keeping of that way does preserve the soul.


(Verses 18 through 25) Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. Better it is to be an humble spirit with the lowly than to divide the spoil with the proud. He that handleth a matter wisely shall find good: and whoso trusteth in the LORD, happy is he. The wise in heart shall be called prudent: and the sweetness of the lips increaseth learning. Understanding is a wellspring of life unto him that hath it: but instructions of fools is folly. The heart of the wise teacheth his mouth, and addeth learning to his lips. Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones. There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.


 Just as surely as a man becomes lifted up too highly by pride, he is headed for destruction, not necessarily eternal destruction, but at least a great loss; and whosoever is led by a haughty spirit is surely going to fall. No matter how much treasure has been gained by the proud, and how big a portion they might give us, we are better off to remain humble, and in lowly company than to join them. If we can handle a matter wisely, we shall surely find good; and all who trust the LORD are happy, even when things around them all seem to be going wrong. For when we trust the LORD, we know that He is able to take care of us under any and all conditions. Those who are of a wise heart will surely show it in their dealings with others, and will therefore be called prudent. They will also by using sweeter words, (or more pleasant words,) even when having to stand firm against an adversary, increase their learning, and thus be even wiser. The man who has understanding is able to draw from it knowledge that enables him to avoid many pitfalls. Thus it is a wellspring of life to him. But one who engages in trying to instruct fools is committing folly, for it is a completely useless endeavor. Not only does the heart of the wise teach him how to act that he might escape the pitfalls of life, but it also teaches his mouth, causing his lips to speak with more learning. Just as a honeycomb is both sweet to eat, and good for the body, so pleasant words are both sweet to hear, and beneficial to the spirit. Verse 25 is identical with verse 12 of Chapter 14. It does, however, need to be firmly committed to our minds.


(Verses 26 through 33) He that laboureth laboureth for himself; for his mouth craveth it of him. An ungodly man diggeth up evil: and in his lips there is as burning fire. A froward man soweth strife: and a whisperer separateth chief friends. A violent man enticeth his neighbour, and leadeth him into a way that is not good. He shutteth his eyes to devise froward things; moving his lips he bringeth evil to pass. The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness. He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city. The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD.


The man who works does it because he realizes that only by his labor can he provide for his necessities. An ungodly man likes evil so much that he will dig up the evil that others have long ago buried. And the evil that he digs up and causes to thrive seems as if his tongue were setting fire to everything he meddles with. A froward man is always sowing strife by carrying evil tales from one to another, and whispering them in such manner as to turn one friend against another. And such will separate the closest of friends unless they are exceptionally watchful. A violent man will entice his neighbor into some evil scheme if possible. He will also close his eyes to what good there may be present that he may devise evil things. Then he begins trying to bring the evil to pass by trying to entice others into his schemes. We have always been taught to respect old age: but Solomon says “The hoary head is a crown of glory, if (and only if) it be found in the way of righteousness. The reason that “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty,” is that He that is slow to anger may turn aside the strife before it can even get started, while the only advantage that could go to the mighty is that after the fight has started, he might be more able to control it. For the same reason “He that ruleth his spirit (is better) than he that taketh a city. If he can rule his spirit the city might not need to be taken; and thus a whole battle has been avoided. In Solomon’s day many questions were settled by casting lots. Now we cast votes. It all amounts to the same thing in the end. And though we vote on a matter, the LORD is still in control of the whole thing, and therefore it is He who disposed the whole thing.


Chapter 17

(Verses 1 through 9) Better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, than an house full of sacrifices with strife. A wise servant shall have rule over a son that causeth shame, and shall have part of the inheritance among the brethren. The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold: but the LORD trieth the hearts. A wicked doer giveth heed to false lips; and a liar giveth ear to a naughty tongue. Whoso mocketh the poor reproacheth his Maker: and he that is glad at calamities shall not be unpunished. Children’s children are the crown of old men; and the glory of children are their fathers. Excellent speech becometh not a fool: much less do lying lips a prince. A gift is as a precious stone in the eyes of him that hath it: whithersoever it turneth it prospereth. He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends.


Surely it is better to have only a dry piece of bread, and enjoy peace while eating it than to have all of the fanciest food imaginable and try to eat it in the midst of strife. We have all heard the saying, “Blood is thicker than water.” But Solomon says it is not better than wisdom. For even a servant who is wise will be given more authority than a son who causes shame. And at the time of the settling of the estate, he will be included among the heirs. Men have designed many helpful tools, among which are the refining pot for silver and the furnace for gold. But no invention of man can try the heart. The LORD alone can do that. One who is doing wicked acts will listen to false reports; and a liar is always listening to all the naughty tales he can hear, so that he can tell them. Certainly we need no explanation for verse 5, but we certainly need to remember it always. “Whoso mocketh the poor reproacheth his Maker: and he that is glad at calamities shall not be unpunished.” Just as children and grandchildren are as pleasing to an old man as would be a crown, so children like to look up to their fathers, and strive to follow after them. Certainly it seems out of place to hear a fool speaking with excellent, or very proper, speech. But what is far worse is to hear a prince speaking with lying lips. When God has blessed a man with a recognizable gift, it is as valuable to him as a precious stone, and, in fact, much more so. For it will prosper in whatever it is used. Whoever covers, or hides, a transgression (not his own, but that of another) is indeed seeking the love of the one whose transgression he covers. On the other hand, he that repeats a matter, that is, he that is a tattle-tale will separate even the closest of friends.


(Verses 10 through 17) A reproof entereth more into a wise man than an hundred stripes into a fool. An evil man seeketh only rebellion: therefore a cruel messenger shall be sent against him. Let a bear robbed of her whelps meet a man, rather than a fool in his folly. Whoso rewardeth evil for good, evil shall not depart from his house. The beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water: therefore leave off contention before it is meddled with. He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the LORD. Wherefore is there a price in the hand of the fool to get wisdom, seeing he hath no heart to it? A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.


A wise man will listen to, and heed reproof that points out a better way of doing whatever he is attempting. And that will be sufficient correction for him. But the fool will not receive correction even if whipped with a hundred stripes in an effort to correct him. An evil man is only interested in stirring up rebellion and strife. And for this punishment is sure to come upon him. Solomon says that a man is better off to meet up with a bear that has been robbed of her cubs than to be in the presence of a fool who is exercising his folly. Evil and trouble shall never depart from the house (household, or family) of those who reward evil for good. Starting strife is as natural to man as letting out water. Therefore leave off contention before it is even started. Otherwise there may be more serious trouble. There are those who are always trying to find an excuse for the wickedness of the wicked. And there also are those who will seek every excuse to condemn the just. Both are equally an abomination to the LORD. In verse 16 Solomon gives us a little insight into the mind of a fool, by his question. Since the fool has no wisdom, and wants none, why should he put forth the effort (pay the price) to obtain it? So he goes on in his folly. I once knew a lady who, as long as she was in good health, and able to do for others, had many friends. Sadly, she was stricken with such poor health that not only could she not do for others, but had to have everything done for her. Suddenly those friends could not be found. But a real friend is one that loveth at all times. And a real brother will show his love more in times of adversity than at any other time.


(Verses 18 through 23) A man void of understanding striketh hands, and becometh surety in the presence of his friend. He loveth transgression that loveth strife: and he that exalteth his gate seeketh destruction. He that hath a froward heart findeth no good: and he that hath a perverse tongue falleth into mischief. He that begetteth a fool doeth it to his sorrow: and the father of a fool hath no joy. A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones. A wicked man taketh a gift out of his bosom to pervert the ways of judgment.


There are those who, in order to impress a friend, will in his presence volunteer to stand surety for someone about whom he may not be altogether sure. Such an one is void of understanding. If one loves strife, and as sad as that is, there are those who do, he also loves transgression. Since a gate was originally set up as a part of the fence used to protect a city, or one’s property, the one who is always boasting about how well he can protect himself is seeking destruction. For there is always someone ready to test him. One who has an evil heart finds nothing good in anything. And surely one who is always telling lies (perverse things) will fall into mischief. Verse 21 is a double statement of the same thing; “A fool brings his father no joy.” Certainly, a merry heart, even in a visitor, will lift up one who is down like a dose of the proper medicine. How much more when the heart of the patient is made merry! On the other hand, in either case the broken spirit will cause one to feel that even his bones are dried up. Solomon’s statement in verse 23 shows up just as much today in our courts as it did when he wrote it. That has ever been, and still is the way of the wicked. They will bribe the judge, and anyone else they can to insure that they can get away with their wickedness.


(Verses 24 through 28) Wisdom is before him that hath understanding; but the eyes of the fool are in the ends of the earth. A foolish son is a grief to his father, and bitterness to her that bare him. Also to punish the just is not good, nor to strike  princes for equity. He that hath knowledge spareth his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit. Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.


A man of understanding is always considering those things that wisdom teaches, while the fool is looking in every direction except toward wisdom. A son who is a fool brings sorrow to both his father and his mother. To punish the just is to pervert judgment; and that is never good. In the political structure of our country we do not have princes. But in countries where they do have them, it certainly would not be wise to strike them to show that we are their equals. This would quickly bring punishment upon us. Usually the more knowledge a man has the fewer words he will use to present his point. Yet the man of wisdom or understanding will be of a very good spirit. No doubt, we have all heard the saying, “It is better to keep your mouth shut, and have people think you a fool, than to speak, and remove all doubt.” But Solomon says that though one may be a fool, if he will just keep his mouth shut, he will be considered a wise man, and one of understanding.


Chapter 18

(Verses 1 through 9) Through desire a man, having separated himself, seeketh and intermeddleth with all wisdom. A fool hath no delight in understanding, but that his heart may discover itself. When the wicked cometh, then cometh contempt, and with ignominy reproach. The words of a man’s mouth are as deep waters, and the wellspring of wisdom as a flowing brook. It is not good to accept the person of the wicked, to overthrow the righteous in judgment. A fool’s lips enter into contention, and his mouth calleth for strokes. A fool’s mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul. The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly. He also that is slothful in his work is brother to him that is a great waster.


The natural curiosity, or desire, of humanity causes man to separate himself from the everyday things with which he is familiar, and seek to learn all wisdom, even intermeddling at times with things he should leave alone. But the fool, on the other hand has no delight in understanding, and therefore is only interested in showing how much folly there is in his heart. It seems that Solomon may, in verse3 have in mind the coming of the wicked into power. For when the wicked come to power it brings contempt upon the city or community. And when there is public disgrace associated therewith, it brings reproach upon the whole body politic. In verse 4 he seems to have in mind a wise man when he says, “The words of a man’s mouth are as deep waters.” For that is true of only the wise, while the words of a fool, he has told us in another place, are as the crackling of fire among the thorns. It is of very little value. The wellspring of wisdom is indeed like a flowing brook. Since so much of the land of Israel is arid, a flowing brook is very valuable; and so is the wellspring of wisdom. Verse 5 is a great example of understatement. To accept the person of the wicked to overthrow  the righteous in judgment is an abomination to the LORD. Verses 6 and 7 are expressions of the same truth in different words. Since a fool’s lips enter into, or start contention, they definitely are the snare of his soul: and because his mouth is, as we would say, just asking for a whipping, it is his destruction. We have all either experienced or witnessed the truth of verse 8, “The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.” Verse 9 tells us that being one that is lazy about getting work done is just as bad as wasting what we have earned after we have worked for it. The lazy man and the waster are equal; and neither will ever accumulate anything.


Verses 10 through 18) The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it and is safe. The rich man’s wealth is his strong city, and as an high wall in his conceit. Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honour is humility. He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him. The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear? The heart of the prudent getteth knowledge; and the ear of the wise seeketh knowledge. A man’s gift maketh room for him, and bringeth him before great men. He that is first in his own cause seemeth just; but his neighbor cometh and searcheth him. The lot causeth contentions to cease, and parteth between the mighty.


In Psalm 4:8, David says, “I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for Thou, LORD, only makest me to dwell in safety.” This is in perfect harmony with Solomon’s saying in verse 10, “The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it and is safe.” In the rich man’s mind, or in his conceit, his wealth is his greatest defense. But sometimes reality shows him that it is no defense at all. Before a man has ever suffered a severe fall his spirit will be very haughty. And a haughty spirit is a sure sign of coming destruction. And before a man will be raised up to honor, he must be found with humility. Sometimes questions are raised, and one may think he has the answer to that question: but if he gives his answer before he has heard the matter, that is, before he has fully considered all sides of it, he is dealing in folly, and it will likely bring shame upon him for his lack of full consideration. If a man is physically wounded, but retains a cheerful spirit, that spirit will sustain him through his infirmity. But if his spirit is wounded so that he begins to indulge in self pity, none can endure to be around him. The wise man seeks to hear all the knowledge he can, and carefully considers it in his heart. When the LORD has blessed a man with a gift, he does not have to advertise it, and try to make a place for it to be used. It will make a place for itself and him, and will bring him before great men. It is usually easy to be sympathetic with one who brings us a story of having been wronged by someone. But if we want the truth of the matter we must hear both sides of the matter. For the one he has accused of wronging him will, no doubt tell another story about the case. Although two men may both be mighty, and able to put up a great fight, if they will both agree to settle their difference by casting lots, that will cause their contentions to cease.


(Verses 19 through 24) A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle. A man’s belly shall be satisfied with the fruit of his mouth. And with the increase of his lips shall he be filled. Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof. Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD. The poor useth entreaties; but the rich answereth roughly. A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.


It is often true that contention can start between the siblings of a family more readily than between casual acquaintances. And once it is started it can become almost, if not altogether impossible to settle. So it can be harder to win over a brother who has been offended than it would be to take a strong city in battle. It can be harder to set aside their contentions than to cut away bars of iron in a castle door or window. Verse 20 seems somewhat obscure. The fruit of a man’s mouth and lips usually is nothing but words. And unless these words are put into action it seems that there will be little substance there from with which to fill the man or satisfy his belly. We often hear the expression, “He must eat his words,” meaning, “He will have to reap the consequences of his words.” And since in the power of the tongue is both death and life, he that loves the power of the tongue will have to accept what the power of the tongue brings him, whether death or life. Certainly, in verse 22, Solomon is considering a good wife. For, indeed the man who finds a good wife finds an extremely good thing, and has obtained favor of the LORD. Verse 23 is an observation that is just as true today as when Solomon penned it down. Verse 24 has often been taken to be a reference to our Lord Jesus as being the “friend that sticketh closer than a brother;” and there can be no question about His doing so. But, in view of what Solomon said in verse 19, it seems that there also a reference to any faithful friend; for sometimes a brother does not stick as close as one would like, while a faithful friend will stand by us through both good and evil fortune.


Chapter 19

(Verses 1 through 7) Better is the poor that walketh in his integrity, than he that is perverse in his lips, and is a fool. Also that the soul be without knowledge, it is not good; and he that hasteth with his feet sinneth. The foolishness of a man perverteth his way: and his heart fretteth against the LORD. Wealth maketh many friends; but the poor is separated from his neighbour. A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall not escape. Many will entreat the favour of the prince: and every man is a friend to him that giveth gifts. 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.


Verse 1 is such an obvious truth that it should need no explanation. In all of his writings Solomon emphasizes the value of both wisdom and knowledge, and sometimes he uses them interchangeably. Surely it is good for the soul to seek out as much knowledge and wisdom as possible. And Solomon declares that the man who is in too big a hurry to take time to learn is sinning.. If a man permits foolishness to take over his life, it perverts his way so that his heart frets against the LORD. We have sometimes seen the proof of verses 4 and 7. As long as a man has wealth, people will flock to him, and claim to be his friends. But when the money is gone, so are the friends. Solomon often sets forth statements that support the ancient doctrine of retribution. And that is exactly what is in verse 5. Those who bear false witness and those who tell lies, will all finally have to pay the price for it. Seeing that the prince (king) is the most powerful man in the kingdom, there are always many seeking favors from him. And among other men, one who is very liberal in giving gifts will certainly find many who will claim to be his friend, as long as he continues to give the gifts.


(Verses 8 through 15) .He that getteth wisdom loveth his own soul: he that keepeth understanding shall find good. A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall perish. Delight is not seemly for a fool; much less for a servant to have rule over princes. The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression. The king’s wrath is as the roaring of a lion; but his favour is as dew on the grass. A foolish son is the calamity of his father: and the contentions of a wife are a continual dropping. House and riches are the inheritance of fathers: and a prudent wife is of the LORD. Slothfulness casteth into a deep sleep; and an idle soul shall suffer hunger.


Solomon considers that the best evidence that a man loves his own soul, or values his life, is that he seeks after wisdom. If he does not seek after wisdom he surely cares little about his own soul, or his life. And one who keeps understanding will surely find good. He again repeats his declaration of verse 5, with only the slight change, “He that speaketh lies shall perish,” instead of, “He that speaketh lies shall not escape.” Because of a fool’s lack of understanding, delight seems inappropriate for him. But it is far more inappropriate for a servant to rule over princes. A man of true understanding and discretion will not only defer his anger, but it is even his glory to pass over a transgression, that is, a transgression of another, not of himself. Since the king, in a full fledged monarchy, is able to do his will with no hindrance from anyone, his wrath is indeed feared very much as is the roaring of a lion. And for the same reason his favor is as welcome as the dew on the grass. A foolish son can so easily destroy all for which his father has labored, that surely he is the calamity of his father. If a man’s wife is of a contentious nature, her complaints will be a continual source of trouble in the home. We might inherit a house, or even a fortune from our father; but the only one who can provide for us a prudent wife is the LORD. So any man thus blessed should be thankful to Him for that blessing. Laziness will cause a man to spend too much time sleeping, and such laziness will bring him down to hunger. For only by his labor can a man provide for himself and his dependents.


(Verses 16 through 22) He that keepeth the commandment keepeth his own soul: but he that despiseth His ways shall die. He that hath pity on the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will He pay him again. Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying. A man of great wrath shall suffer punishment: for if thou deliver him, yet thou must do it again. Hear counsel and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end. There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand. The desire of a man is his kindness: a poor man is better than a liar.


No doubt Solomon is referring to the LORD’S commandment when he says, “He that keepeth the commandment keepeth his own soul; for indeed the LORD has promised to preserve them that keep His commandment. On the other hand one who despises the ways of the LORD shall surely die, for “the wages of sin is death.” Whatever one does for the poor and needy, assuming that he does it out of the kindness of his heart, is considered as a loan made to the LORD. And the LORD will surely repay him. Verse 18 is one that, apparently, most people of today have forgotten, or never knew. It is the key to a majority of the cases of childhood crime, and adult crime also, in our present society. Someone failed to chasten his son (or daughter) while there was still hope for them. In many cases he may regret it now, but it is too late. If we deliver a man from punishment who is of great wrath, and easily aroused, we can be sure that he will soon get himself in trouble again, and need to be delivered again. And sooner, or later, there will be none to deliver him; and he will be punished. Another way of saying what Solomon has said in verse 20 is, “If you want to be wise when you are old, listen to good advice, and pay attention to instruction.” Although man always has many plans in his mind, the purpose that shall stand is counsel of the LORD, for He “worketh all things after the counsel of His own will.” What a man wants governs his acts and feelings of kindness. Though a man may be poor, if that is the only thing one can find against him, he is still much better than a liar, no matter how great wealth he may have.


(Verses 23 through 29) The fear of the LORD tendeth to life: and he that hath it shall abide satisfied; he shall not be visited with evil. A slothful man hideth his hand in his bosom, and will not so much as bring it to his mouth again. Smite a scorner, and the simple will beware: and reprove one that hath understanding, and he will understand knowledge. He that wasteth his father, and chaseth away his mother, is a son that causeth shame, and bringeth reproach. Cease, my son, to hear the instruction that causeth thee to err from the words of knowledge. An ungodly witness scorneth judgment: and the mouth of the wicked devoureth iniquity. Judgments are prepared for scorners, and stripes for the back of fools.


Verse 23 seems clear enough, except that we should remember that it does not mean that they who fear the LORD shall never have any troubles, trials, afflictions, etc., but that in the day of judgment they shall not be visited with evil. Since the slothful man never accumulates anything, he is afraid to bring his hand to his mouth, that is to eat, for that would show how little he has. So he keeps it hidden in his bosom. The only thing that will cause the simple (those of no understanding) to beware is to smite, or bring judgment upon the scorner, or those who will not obey the commandment. But just a simple reproof to him that has understanding will cause him to understand knowledge. The son that wastes what substance his father has gathered, and the one who will not honor his mother, are both to be avoided, for both will cause shame, and bring reproach. Solomon gives us a very good piece of advice in verse 27, “Cease, my son, from the instruction that causeth thee to err from the words of knowledge.” Just as soon as we become aware that the instruction we are hearing will cause us to err from the words of knowledge, or wisdom, we must lay it aside, and listen to it no more. An ungodly witness has no regard for judgment. Justice is not one of his priorities. And the mouth, or words, of the wicked devour, or cover up, iniquity. Verse 29 seems to need no explanation. “Judgments are prepared for scorners, and stripes for the back of fools.”


Chapter 20

(Verses 1 through 10) Wine is a mocker, and strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise. The fear of a king is as the roaring of a lion. Whoso provoketh him to anger sinneth against his own soul. It is an honour for a man to cease from strife: but every fool will be meddling. The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold: therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing. Counsel in the heart of a man is like deep water; but a man of understanding will draw it out. Most men will proclaim every man his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find? The just man walketh in his integrity: his children are blessed after him. A king that sitteth in the throne of judgment scattereth away all evil with his eyes. Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin? Divers weights, and divers measures, both of them are alike abomination to the LORD.


Many have learned from experience the truth of verse 1. They started off thinking that they could handle the wine and strong drink, but found, to their sorrow that it mastered them. As with all other drugs, the only sure way to keep it from mastering you is to leave it alone from the beginning. As we have earlier pointed out, the king is able to do whatever he desires. Therefore those who arouse his anger are only making trouble for themselves, sometimes even to bringing upon themselves the sentence of death. It is an honorable thing to do, and will bring honor to a man to cease from strife. In fact it is the wise course to follow. But a fool will not follow it, and neither will he allow anyone else to do so if he can prevent it. For he is always meddling. The sluggard is always bringing up excuses for not working, such as that it is too cold to be plowing in the field. And because of his making excuses instead of working he will be reduced to beggary at harvest time, for he will have no harvest. Good advice is seldom given spontaneously. The man who can give it seldom volunteers it. Nevertheless a man of understanding can, and does, usually obtain it when he seeks it. Most men like to tell others how good they are, but it is hard to find a man faithful enough to tell of his faults and mistakes without being forced to do so. The righteous life of a just man not only benefits himself, but also brings a blessing upon his children. When the king is seated upon his throne of judgment, wicked men will not come into his presence to do their evil deeds, lest he see them. So by his presence he scatters away the evil that they might otherwise do. The question Solomon asks in verse 9 has only one answer, “None.” For only the LORD can put away sin, and cleanse the heart. Solomon’s reference to divers weights and divers measures is not concerned with having an ounce weight for an ounce, and a pound weight for a pound, or a bushel measure for a bushel and a peck measure for a peck; but having both a standard weight, and a lighter (or heavier) one claiming to be the same, and the same practice with measures. To do this is abomination to the LORD. Have only one weight, and one measure for the specified standard, and make sure it agrees with the standard.


(Verses 11 through 21) Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right. The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the LORD hath made even both of them. Love not sleep, lest thou come to poverty: open thine eyes, and thou shalt be satisfied with bread. It is naught, it is naught, saith the buyer: but when he is gone his way, then he boasteth. There is gold, and a multitude of rubies: but the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel. Take his garment that is surety for a stranger: and take a pledge of him for a strange woman. Bread of deceit is sweet to a man; but afterwards his mouth shall be filled with gravel. Every purpose is established by counsel: and with good advice make war. He that goeth about as a talebearer revealeth secrets: therefore meddle not with him that flattereth with his lips. Whoso curseth his father or his mother, his lamp shall be put out in obscure darkness. An inheritance may be gotten hastily at the beginning: but the end thereof shall not be blessed.


Our Lord Jesus said, “Ye shall know a tree by the fruit it bears.” And here Solomon tells us that this rule will apply to even a child. Since the LORD has made the hearing ear and the seeing eye, it also follows that He has made the deaf ear and the blind eye. That is, the ear that is deaf at birth and the eye that is blind at birth. For John tells us that “All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made.” Verse 13 is excellent advice for us even today. For if we love sleep so much that we let it keep us from working, we shall, no doubt, come to poverty. The only way to provide for our necessities and those of our dependents is to open our eyes, and apply ourselves to whatever our job may be. Verse 14 aptly describes the man who always wants to haggle over any deal that he may be trying to make. As long as he is trying to make it, whether the deal be to buy something, or make some other acquisition, he will try to make it appear that he does not think it worth the price: but after he buys it, and leaves the presence of the one from whom he has made the purchase, he boasts about what a bargain he got. No matter how much gold, or how many rubies one may have, lips of wisdom are more valuable than all. It was once the custom to take a man’s coat as security for whatever deal one might make with him. And Solomon tells us to take that garment of one who is surety for a stranger; and take something from  him as a pledge (or security) if he is going to be surety for a strange woman. To deceive may seem pleasant at the beginning. But it will finally receive its reward, which will be as unpleasant as a mouth full of gravel. No doubt, in verse 18 Solomon is considering the operation of a kingdom, as he says, “Every purpose is established by counsel: and with good advice make war.” Although everyone would be better off if he had good counsel to establish the purposes that govern his life, the kingdom must be so ordered, if it is to stand. And the kingdom that goes to war without good advice is courting defeat. Since the talebearer does indeed reveal secrets, one should avoid him who flatters with his lips, for they are one and the same. In verse 20, the clause, “his lamp shall be put out in obscure darkness,” is a euphemism for “ he shall be put to death.” In verse 21, there seems to be a suggestion that the inheritance that is gotten hastily in the beginning is not gotten justly, or that the transfer of it was not carefully done. Therefore in the end it shall not be blessed.


(Verses 22 through 30) Say not thou, I will recompense evil: but wait on the LORD, and he shall save thee. Divers weights are an abomination unto the LORD; and a false balance is not good. Man’s goings are of the LORD; how can a man then understand his own way? It is a snare to the man who devoureth that which is holy, and afterward vows to make inquiry. A wise king scattereth the wicked, and bringeth the wheel over them. The spirit of man is the candle of the LORD, searching all the inward parts of the belly. Mercy and truth preserve the king: and his throne is upholden by mercy. The glory of young men is their strength: and the beauty of old men is the gray head. The blueness of a wound cleanseth away evil: so do stripes the inward parts of the belly.


Far too often we will think, or hear someone say, “I am going to get even with that person.” The thought is that I have been wronged by that one, and I think I must repay him in kind (recompense him.) This we should never do; but wait upon the LORD, and if we have really been wronged, He will take care of the matter for us, and waiting upon Him saves us from doing evil ourselves. The old system of weighing anything was to use a balance and weights. Basically, the balance was a beam, large or small, depending upon what was to be weighed, pivoted in such a manner that when nothing was on either end of it, it would remain in a perfectly level, or horizontal position. When an object was to be weighed, it was placed in position on one end of the level beam, and sufficient weights were placed in the proper position on the other end of the beam. When sufficient weights had been placed upon the beam to make it return to the level position, their aggregate was calculated, and this was the weight of the object whose weight had been unknown. A false balance (one that would not balance in the level position accurately) is not good, and divers weights (weights that were not exactly what they were marked) are an abomination unto the LORD. Jeremiah declares, in Jeremiah 10:23 , “O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.” Solomon fully agrees with this as he says, “Man’s goings are of the LORD; how then can a man understand his own way?” We all like to think that we know what we are doing, and where we are going. But how often we find something in the way that turns us in a completely different direction! The man who devours, or destroys something that is holy, and then makes inquiry concerning it is too late with his inquiry. He has already sinned because of his haste. A wise king must, for the safety of his kingdom, scatter and destroy the wicked. In verse 27 Solomon is not concerned with the Spirit of God, but with the spirit of man, which is also given of God. It is the candle of the LORD, given for the purpose of searching out inmost thoughts of the man. Verse 28 needs no explanation; but surely all rulers would profit by learning it, and putting it in practice, instead of following “political correctness.” Verse 29 is a self evident truth, for the young man does indeed glory in his strength; but the old man’s strength has left him, and all the beauty he has remaining is his gray head. For that reason he should try to see that his gray head is as wise as he can make it. If a wound has a blue tinge to it instead of a red and irritated look, we are assured that it is not infected. So also will stripes, when properly applied, drive out evil from a person.


Chapter 21

(Verses 1 through 10) The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: He turneth it whithersoever He will. Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts. To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice. An high look, and a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked, is sin. The thoughts of the diligent tend only to plenteousness; but of everyone that is hasty only to want. The getting of treasures by a lying tongue is a vanity tossed to and fro of them that seek death. The robbery of the wicked shall destroy them; because they refuse to do judgment. The way of man is froward and strange: but as for the pure, his work is right. It is better to dwell in the corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house. The soul of the wicked desireth evil: his neighbor findeth no favour in his eyes.


It was Solomon’s thought, that since, as he believed, it was the LORD Who appointed kings, the king’s heart, or mind was always under the influence of the LORD. Therefore he could not independently make a decision; but was led by the hand of the LORD to every sentence he pronounced. Thus the LORD turned the mind, or heart, of the king in the direction that was pleasing to Him, just as He turned the rivers wheresoever He would. This may have been  the LORD’S way of dealing with him, as he ruled, and judged his kingdom. However, many would argue that He does not deal thus with all kings. Although every man thinks that all his ways are right, he is not able to properly judge them. Only the LORD is able to judge (ponder) the heart. Verse 3 is almost exactly the same as Samuel told Saul, 1 Samuel 15:22 , “And Samuel said, ‘Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.’” In verse 4 Solomon tells us that there are three things that are equally sin. They are a high look, a proud heart, and the plowing (work) of the wicked. Certainly there are many other things that are sin. But these three were thus linked together, no doubt, for the purpose of showing us that the high look and the proud heart are just as evil as the work of the wicked. As Solomon speaks of the diligent, in verse 5, he is considering, not only one who is diligent in working at whatever task he has chosen, but also him that gives careful consideration to all related to that task before making choice of it. For without selecting the proper job one can work very hard, and never attain to “plenteousness.” That is why the second clause of that verse says, “But of every one that is hasty only to want.” We often hear the expression, “He is just asking for trouble,” not meaning that that he is actually telling people that what he wants is trouble, which would signify that he is willingly seeking it, but that what he is doing is the direct road to it, though he may not be aware of it. The same is true of Solomon’s statement in verse 6. Those who get treasures by a lying tongue certainly may not be trying to commit suicide; but what they are doing is the sure way to death. Because the wicked refuse to change their way, and follow the way of judgment and right, their robbery will surely overtake them, and be their destruction. The first clause of verse 8 is a general observation , and it describes man by nature. (See also Ephesians 2:1-3.) The second clause describes man after he has been quickened by the power of God. Certainly it is much better to dwell alone, and in very close quarters than to dwell in a large house with a brawling woman, or any other boisterous person. The wicked has his mind set on doing evil to someone, and even his neighbors are not exempt from his evil designs.


(Verses 11 through 20) When the scorner is punished, the simple is made wise: and when the wise is instructed, he receiveth knowledge. The righteous man wisely considereth the house of the wicked: but God overthroweth the wicked for their wickedness. Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard. A gift in secret pacifieth anger: and a reward in the bosom strong wrath. It is joy to the just to do judgment: but destruction shall be to the workers of iniquity. The man that wandereth out of the way of understanding shall remain in the congregation of the dead. He that loveth pleasure shall be a poor man: he that loveth wine and oil shall not be rich. The wicked shall be a ransom for the righteous, and the transgressor for the upright. It is better to dwell in the wilderness than with a contentious and an angry woman. There is treasure to be desired and oil in the dwelling of the wise; but a foolish man spendeth it up.


Verse 11 gives us the comparison of the simple (one who has little understanding) and the wise. It is only by his seeing punishment come upon someone, in this case the scorner, that the simple can be made wise enough to turn away from such evil ways, and avoid punishment himself. But the wise will receive knowledge just by being instructed, or told, of what he should do. As we have so often heard, “A word to the wise is sufficient.” The righteous man gives wise consideration to the house of the wicked, and avoids it. But in the end, the LORD will overthrow the wicked for their own wickedness. The LORD has instructed us to be careful to contribute to the poor. And he that will not do so shall find himself in need, and none will help. When we know that one has anger toward us, we should not attempt to make some big thing of it, and disturb the neighborhood; but simply go to him quietly, and settle the matter, even with a gift, if necessary. And if we offer a sufficient gift it will even pacify great wrath. But it will not, if we have already made it a public matter by trying to turn everyone against him. The just do judgment, or righteousness, because it is a joy to them to do so. But for the workers of iniquity, destruction is already prepared. The man who deliberately lays aside all wisdom, and “Wanders out of the way of understanding,” shall as long as he follows that way, be of no more value to the community than if he were dead. Thus he remains in the congregation of the dead. Verse 17, though in two separate statements is only one truth, repeated for emphasis. The one who is given to wine, oil, (high living,) and pleasure cannot get rich, for these things are too costly. No doubt, Solomon’s declaration in verse 18 has some reference to Exodus 30:11-16 and Numbers 3: 44-51. But instead of the righteous having to pay some ransom, “the wicked shall be a ransom for the righteous, and the transgressors for the upright.” Solomon declares that it is better to dwell in the wilderness (and the inference is that one dwell alone) than with a contentious and an angry woman. The wise will so order his life that he will accumulate something worthwhile, and thus treasure will be in his house. But the foolish man spends what he makes as fast as, and sometimes faster than he makes it. So he has nothing left.


(Verses 21 through 26) He that followeth after righteousness and mercy findeth life, righteousness, and honour. A wise man scaleth the city of the mighty, and casteth down the strength of the confidence thereof. Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles. Proud and haughty scorner is his name, who dealeth in proud wrath. The desire of the slothful killeth him; for his hands refuse to labour. He coveth greedily all the day long: but the righteous giveth and spareth not.


Not only does he that follows after righteousness and mercy find them, but he also finds life and honor. Many cities in Solomon’s day were walled for protection against enemies. But a wise man could, and often did find a way to scale the wall, even of the mighty. And when this was done, the inhabitants of that city had no more strong confidence in their walls. Many people bring most of their troubles upon themselves by talking too much. So he that keeps his mouth and tongue reduces the troubles that would otherwise come upon him. Solomon declares that anyone who deals in proud wrath is a proud and haughty scorner. The slothful man wants so much more than he is willing to put forth the effort required to obtain, that his desire becomes the cause of his death. So he is always greedily coveting something, and cannot obtain it. But the righteous, though they may not give him everything he wants, will give freely, even to him, because, by their industry they have gathered sufficient that they can contribute something to “him that asketh” of them, as our Lord directed us.


(Verses 27 through 31) The sacrifice of the wicked is abomination: how much more when he bringeth it with a wicked mind? A false witness shall perish: but the man that heareth speaketh constantly. A wicked man hardeneth his face: but as for the upright, he directeth his way. There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the LORD. The horse is prepared against the day of battle: but safety is of the LORD.


Even if it could be thought that the wicked brought in sincerity a sacrifice to the LORD it would be abomination. Therefore when he brings it with a wicked purpose in mind, consider how much worse that would be. A false witness is one who speaks lies; and he will certainly perish. But the man who hears his lies will speak constantly, not continually as we sometimes understand the word to mean today, but steadfastly, as it was sometimes used to mean at the time of this translation. A wicked man does not care what people think of him, so he hardens his face against them. But the upright “directeth,” or considers his way. There is neither wisdom, understanding, nor counsel, that will stand against the LORD. In Solomon’s day the horse was about the greatest “war machine” known to man. And in making preparation against the day of battle, he was thought indispensable. But the only real safety was, and still is of the LORD. Nothing else will suffice.


Chapter 22

(Verses 1 through 8) A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold. The rich and the poor meet together: the LORD is the Maker of them all. A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished. By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, and honour, and life. Thorns and snares are in the way of the froward: he that doth keep his soul shall be far from them. Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender. He that soweth iniquity shall reap vanity: and the rod of his anger shall fail.


In this present state of affairs in families, churches, communities, and even nations, I am often made to wonder how many one could find who still believe verse 1 of this chapter. It seems that our whole society has forsaken the effort to establish a good name in order to put all their energy into seeking gold and silver, or their equivalent. Nevertheless what Solomon says has stood the test of time, and will still be standing in the last moment of this world. If one loses wealth of worldly things, it can be replaced. But when he has lost his good name, try as he may, he can never re-establish it as it was before. There is no reason for the rich to have a feeling of superiority over the poor, for the same hand made them both. The prudent, or wise, man is not necessarily a prophet, but by his wisdom he can see the approach of evil, and take measures to protect himself, while the simple will never see the danger, but continue on his way until trouble overtakes him. Arrogance, cheating, and lying, may temporarily gain wealth for a man; but humility and the fear of the LORD will gain him lasting riches, as well as honor and life. The froward, or wicked, may think there is nothing along his way to give him trouble. But he will find that his way leads directly into thorns and snares from which he cannot escape. And the man who is concerned enough about the welfare of his soul to put forth effort to keep it will avoid the way of the froward, and thus also avoid those thorns and snares. Verse 6 is one that it seems that few people understand. The key word is “Train.” Perhaps the best place in the world to learn the meaning of “train” is in a military unit “boot camp.” It consists of not only being taught by word, but being put through whatever exercise is being taught so many times that it becomes automatic. The soldier who has been trained up in the way he should go, when he meets with the battle conditions does not have to waste time wondering what he should do; but his training takes over, and he automatically does as he has been trained. So it is with a child who has been trained up in the way he should go. Most parents today seem to think that to tell a child a few times what he should do is enough. But this is not training him. The only way he can be trained is to both tell him what to do, and see to it that he does it. And this must be consistent. Otherwise it is of very little use. The society of this world is such that the poor has to depend upon the rich to help him along the way. And to whatever extent he does this he must observe the regulations the rich puts upon him: thus the rich rules over the poor. And certainly the borrower has to serve the lender to get him to lend him what he desires One who spends his time “sowing iniquity,” or doing wickedness, will certainly reap vanity. And, though he may be as we often hear it said, “angry with the world,” it will do him little, or no good.


(Verses 9 through 16) He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed; for he giveth his bread to the poor. Cast out the scorner. And contention shall go out; yea, strife and reproach shall cease. He that loveth pureness of heart, for the grace of his lips the king shall be his friend. The eyes of the LORD preserve knowledge, and He overthroweth the words of the transgressor. The slothful man saith, There is a lion without, I shall be slain in the streets. The mouth of strange women is a deep pit: he that is abhorred of the LORD shall fall therein. Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him. He that oppresseth the poor to increase his riches, and he that giveth to the rich, shall surely come to want.


The LORD has many times told us to be sure to contribute to the poor. And the man who has a bountiful eye, that is, he that gives liberally to the poor shall indeed be blessed; for he is keeping the LORD’S commandment. Since the scorner is the cause of contention, if he is cast out the contention will go out with him, and strife and reproach will both cease.. One who loves pureness of heart will show it in both his words and deeds, and since it will thus show up in his life this grace will cause even the king to be his friend. Since the eyes of the LORD see all things, they certainly can be said to have all knowledge, and therefore they preserve the same. But He will overthrow, or bring to naught, the words and the plans of the transgressor. The slothful man is so lazy that he will think up any excuse for not getting up and getting out to work, even to saying, “There is a lion without, I shall be slain in the streets.” In verse 14 we might keep in mind what we have said earlier concerning Solomon’s expression, “strange women,” or “a strange woman.” The words of such is a deep pit into which they that are hated of the LORD will likely fall. Verse 15 is another of those excellent pieces of advice that most modern parents seem to have discarded for Dr. Spock. But it is still true, and our country would be in much better condition today if people had followed it. If in order to increase his wealth a man oppresses the poor, he is violating the law of God, and he will surely pay the penalty therefor. And he that gives to the rich is only throwing away his money. And whoever does either of these things will bring himself to want.


(Verses 17 through 21) Bow down thine ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply thine heart unto my knowledge. For it is a pleasant thing if thou keep them within thee; They shall withal be fitted in thy lips. That thy trust may be in the LORD, I have made known to thee this day, even to thee. Have not I written to thee excellent things in counsels and knowledge, that I might make thee know the certainty of the words of truth; that thou mightest answer the words of truth to them that send for thee?


Here Solomon breaks into his list of wise sayings, to insist that we give close attention to them, and to tell us why we should do so. We are to hear what he says, and apply our hearts to his knowledge and words of wisdom. The first reason he gives for our doing this is that it is a pleasant thing for us to keep these things in our minds. And the second is that to do so will “fit them to our lips,” that is, they will be ready for our use as an answer to the many questions that may come before us in life. We will not have to spend time searching for what we should do as occasions arise. Further, he has made known these things to us that our trust may be in the LORD. Of course, this will keep us calm in times of trouble which are sure to come upon us along life’s way. Then he calls upon us to consider and evaluate those things he has told us. If we will do so we will surely find them “excellent things in counsels and knowledge. And his final reason for instructing us is that we may be able to know the certainty of the words of truth, so that we can use the words of truth when we give answer to those who “send for,” or call upon, us.


(Verses 22 through 29) Rob not the poor, because he is poor: neither oppress the afflicted in the gate: for the LORD will plead their cause, and spoil the soul of those that spoiled them. Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul. Be not thou one of them that strike hands, or of them that are sureties for debts. If thou hast nothing to pay, why should he take away thy bed from under thee? Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set. Seest thou a man diligent in his business, he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.


The poor and the afflicted may appear to be “easy marks.” But they are both under the special watch care of the LORD. Therefore beware of doing them any harm. “For the LORD will plead their cause, and spoil the soul that spoiled them.” If you associate with, and make friends of angry and furious men, you will certainly learn their ways, which will surely be a snare to your own soul. Do not stand surety for the debts of another. If you do and he does not pay the debt, you will have it to pay. And there is no way in which you can recover your expense  It would be better to lend him the money to pay the debt than to stand surety for him. Then the law provides ways in which you might recover the loan. Verse 28 is a short repetition of one of the commandments of the LORD, as found in Deuteronomy 19:14. If a man is diligent in his business he will prosper therein, even to the point of standing before kings. He will not always have to remain among men of lesser degree.


Chapter 23

(Verses 1 through 3) When thou sittest to eat with a ruler, consider diligently what is before thee: and put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to an appetite. Be not desirous of his dainties: for they are deceitful meat.


Solomon warns us that when we are invited to eat with a ruler (and this applies as well when invited to eat with any other “important person”) we should not give way to a strong appetite. We should give careful consideration to “what is before us:” and that applies not only to the food that might be set before us, but also to the difference between his station and ours. This will lead us to show the proper respect for our host instead of trying to show him that we are just as important as he. It may seem that he is trying to condescend to our social level. But he would probably not take kindly to our trying to raise ourselves up to his. And even the fancy foods he may serve might lead us into trouble if we become too desirous of them, and cannot afford them.


(Verses 4 and 5) Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom. Wilt thou set thine eyes on that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven.


Man’s natural wisdom seems to push him on toward being rich if possible. That seems to be the desire of almost all men. But Solomon tells us to lay that aside, and not strive to be rich. If we follow our natural desire to be rich, we are setting our eyes on that which is not. Because riches will not of themselves stay with us, but will take wings and fly away like an eagle. So we should give more attention to seeking that which will endure.


(Verses 6 through 8) Eat thou not the bread of him that hath an evil eye, neither desire thou his dainty meats. for as he thinketh in his heart so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee. The morsel which thou hast eaten shalt thou vomit up, and lose thy sweet words.


We are to have no association with him that has an evil eye, the man who is always looking for ways of accomplishing some evil. For, if we do, we are courting disaster. This can be from two different standpoints. Although he may insist that we eat and drink, his invitation is not from the heart, but rather to entice us into some of his schemes. And by associating with him we may learn his ways, and become like him. In either case we will regret it.


 (Verse 9) Speak not in the ears of a fool: for he will despise the wisdom of thy words.


There are those to whom we can whisper, “speak in the ear,” and point out some mistake they are making, and they will appreciate our calling their attention to the matter. But do not try it with a fool, for he will only despise both the word of instruction we have given, and us also.


(Verses 10 and 11) Remove not the old landmark; and enter not into the fields of the fatherless: for their Redeemer is mighty; He shall plead their cause with thee.


The LORD has commanded us to not remove the old landmarks, and to take care of the fatherless. And He is indeed mighty. Therefore if we disregard these commandments, it is He to Whom we must give account.


(Verses 12 through 23) Apply thine heart unto instruction, and thine ears to the words of knowledge. Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell. My son, if thine heart be wise, my heart shall rejoice, even mine. Yea, my reins shall rejoice, when thy lips speak right things. Let not thine heart envy sinners: but be thou in the fear of the LORD all the day long. For surely there is an end; and thine expectation shall not be cut off. Hear thou, my son, and be wise, and guide thine heart in the way. Be not among winebibbers; among riotous eaters of flesh: for drunkards and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags. Hearken unto thy father that begat thee, and despise not thy mother when she is old. Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding.


Solomon again calls our attention to the fact that we need to apply ourselves, not only to hearing instruction, but also taking it to heart. Only then can we actually know the words of knowledge. Then he continues to instruct us. He tells us how to train children that they may be worthwhile citizens of the community. In the present age many have arisen who think themselves much wiser than Solomon. They tell us that we should not correct children, but let everyone do his own thing. And the shipwreck that has been precipitated by that manner of action ( or rather, inaction) should be apparent to all. They have told us that it will not do to whip a child in any way, because such will cause him to grow up to be a violent person. People have followed that advice until we now have the most violent generation of young men and women that we have ever had. So, apparently their way does not work successfully. Solomon’s advice was written over three thousand years ago. And when used, it worked exceedingly well for all that period until this new system came into popularity, and made such a mess. And until we return to his system there will be no improvement in our situation. He said, “Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beat him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.” And let us remember one thing: he was the wisest mortal man the LORD ever made, either before that time or since then. This is not my assessment of the matter, but the LORD’S own word. Then Solomon speaks to us as a father to his own son, telling us that if we are wise in heart, and speak the truth, we shall cause even his heart to rejoice. How much more will it cause rejoicing in the heart of our parents! We are never to be envious of sinners, no matter how much wealth they may acquire, but walk always in the fear of the LORD. For their wealth is soon to vanish away but the blessings of the LORD to them that fear Him are not just long lasting, but eternal. There is an end to them: but our expectation shall not be cut off. Again Solomon reminds us to be wise, and guide our hearts in the way. It is obvious from what he has already said that it is the LORD’S way in which he advises us to guide our hearts. Also we are to avoid the company of drunkards and gluttons; for they shall come to poverty, and drowsiness, or laziness, shall clothe a man in rags. Then he instructs us to hearken to our father, and respect our mother, which is actually repeating one of the commandments of the LORD, “Honor thy father and thy mother.” So his advice agrees completely with our LORD’S commandment. And let us always seek to obtain wisdom, instruction, and knowledge. And hold fast to them always.


(Verses 24 through 32) The father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice: and he that begetteth a wise child shall have joy of him. Thy father and thy mother shall be glad, and she that bare thee shall rejoice. My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways. For a whore is a deep ditch; and a strange woman is a narrow pit. She also lieth in wait as for prey, and increaseth the transgressors among men. Who hath woe? Who hath wounds without cause? Who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. Look not on the wine w3hen it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.


Verses 24 and 25 are almost identical, and their meaning is the same. They declare that a wise child will be the cause of rejoicing for both his father and his mother. In verse 26 he calls upon us to both observe his ways, and to give our heart to the study of his wisdom. In verses 27 and 28 he again warns us against the evil woman, and declares that she increases the transgressors among men. Verses 29 through 32 are a warning against becoming addicted to wine, for it will, in the end, Bite like a serpent, and sting like an adder. Some render the word “adder” as “scorpion.” That might be a little nearer the original meaning, because the scorpion does sting, while the adder is a very poisonous snake that bites.


(Verses 33 through 35) Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things. Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth on the top of a mast. They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again.


This is the description of the condition wine shall leave one in, who becomes overcome with it. It will cause him to do things that otherwise he would not do. And continued usage of it will make him foolish as one who would attempt to lie down in the middle of the sea, or try to sleep on the top of the mast of a ship. He will finally reach the point at which he will not even know what is going on. The only thing in which he will be interested is more wine. “I will seek it yet again.”


Chapter 24

(Verses 1 through 10) Be not thou envious against evil men, neither desire to be with them. For their heart studieth destruction, and their lips talk of mischief. Through wisdom is an house builded; and by understanding it is established: and by knowledge shall the chambers thereof be filled with all precious and pleasant riches. A wise man is strong: yea, a man of knowledge increaseth strength. For by wise counsel thou shalt make thy war: and in multitude of counselors there is safety. Wisdom is too high for a fool: he openeth not his mouth in the gate. He that deviseth to do evil shall be called a mischievous person. The thought of foolishness is sin: and the scorner is an abomination to men. If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small.


Although evil men may at times seem to have more of the desirable things of this world and less of its hardships than we do. we should never be envious of them. For, in the long run, they will be brought to judgment for their evil doings, in spite of their wealth and other advantages that they seem to have. When we are tempted to be envious of them, we should read Psalm 73, and consider what Asaph learned, as he looked at the situation, and as the LORD brought him into his sanctuary. And we certainly should not desire to be in their company, lest we also partake of their judgment. For they are always devising mischief for someone; and it will finally come back upon them. Wisdom is what enables a man not only to build a house, but also to establish it, and to fill it with “all precious and pleasant riches.” Also it makes a man strong, perhaps not so much in physical strength as in counsel. And it is only by wise counsel that one can successfully make war; and the more wise counselors one has the greater safety they provide. Wisdom is always above the reach of a fool. Therefore he will never be allowed to speak “in the gate,” that is in the council of the community, city, or country. Obviously, he that is always devising schemes to do evil shall be known as a mischievous person, if not worse. We seem to have the idea that if we have not done some evil act we have not sinned. But Solomon declares that “the thought of foolishness is sin.” Of course, most of us would like to claim that he did not literally mean exactly what he said: but without question he meant that even the foolish thoughts we have are sin. And they are not therefore to be encouraged. And the scorner, or one who thinks himself better, greater, or wiser , than others is hated by all men. Verse 10 is just a simple statement of fact. If adversity causes us to become faint hearted, and give up, we have very little strength.


(Verses 11 through 20) If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; if thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not He that pondereth the heart consider it? And He that keepeth thy soul, doth not He know it? And shall not He render to every man according to his works? My son, eat thou honey because it is good: and the honeycomb, which is sweet to thy taste: so shall the knowledge of wisdom be unto thy soul: when thou hast found it, then there shall be reward, and thy expectation shall not be cut off. Lay not wait, O wicked man, against the dwelling of the righteous; spoil not his resting place: for a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief. Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth: lest the LORD see it, and it displease Him, and He turn away His wrath from him. Fret not thyself because of evil men, neither be thou envious at the wicked; for there shall be no reward to the evil man; and the candle of the wicked shall be put out.


No doubt, Solomon is considering, in verse 11, those who are unjustly in the situation of being about to be slain. If we see someone thus, have the ability to deliver him, and refuse to help him, we should carefully consider that God, Who ponders, or judges, the heart, is also judging us. And He, Who is also the keeper of our soul, knows our failure to help our fellow man. So we need to consider, “Shall he not render to every man according to his works?” Just as honey and the honeycomb are good and sweet to the taste, so shall the knowledge of wisdom be to our souls when we have succeeded in finding it. Only then will there be reward, and our expectation, or hope, shall not be cut off. Solomon then gives a warning to the wicked to not lay wait against the dwelling of the righteous, and to not spoil his resting place, for although the righteous may fall seven times, he shall rise up again, but the wicked shall fall into mischief. Thus, without mentioning the LORD, he declares that the LORD will protect the righteous, and will also bring the wicked to judgment. Then he gives us all a warning that we should not forget, nor take lightly. We often notice people who appear to be glad when some calamity falls upon one they consider as an enemy. We may even hear them say, “I wish such and such an evil thing might happen to him.” This we are never to do. In the first place it is a sin to wish evil upon anyone. And second, our rejoicing at his misfortune might displease the LORD, and He might lift him up higher than before. Furthermore we are not to envy the wicked, nor fret ourselves because of them, for there is no reward for them. Again we should study what Asaph has written in Psalm 73 to see just where both we and they stand.


(Verses 21 through 29) My son, fear thou the LORD and the king: and meddle not with them that are given to change; for their calamity shall arise suddenly, and who knoweth the ruin of them both? These things also belong to the wise. It is not good to have respect of persons in judgment. He that saith unto the wicked, Thou art righteous; him shall the people curse, nations shall abhor him: but to them that rebuke him shall be delight, and a good blessing shall come upon them. Every man shall kiss his lips that give a right answer. Prepare thy work without, and make it fit for thyself in the field: and afterwards build thine house. Be not a witness against thy neighbor without cause; and deceive not with thy lips. Say not, I will do so to him as he hath done to me: I will render to the man according to his work.


Solomon’s first statement in this text is one we should follow always, and in the order in which he wrote them. We should always let the fear of the LORD have first place in our consideration. Then, although we do not have a king in our form of government, we should fear, or respect, the orders of those in authority. The only time we can legitimately disobey them is when they run counter to the instructions the LORD has given us in His word. And we are not, in any case, to have anything to do with those who plot revolution. No one knows when such people will come to ruin, and if we are joined with them, we shall be partakers of their fall. Not only so, but such things as this belong to very wise men. Otherwise they are bound to fail. Neither is it good to have respect of persons, or show partiality, in matters of judgment. Verses 24 and 25 seem to especially refer to a king, as he sits in judgment. If he declares the wicked righteous, the people will curse him, and even the nations will hate him. And if there is one bold enough to rebuke him, he shall receive a great blessing, and shall be a blessing to the people. In Solomon’s day, and even today in that part of the world, the common salute to one who has done a great thing is the kiss, while the handshake is more in use in western society. But this salute shall be to the one who gives a right, or truthful, answer to whatever question may be presented to him. Verse 27 will apply to much more than just building a house. The best way to insure success in anything is to make all possible preparation for it before “starting the building.” Do not be a witness against your neighbor, unless you have information about the incident with which he is charged, no matter what you feel that he has done some time before, thinking that by so doing you will punish him for wrong you have received, or have thought you received from him. You are not his judge, and therefore you do not have the right to “get even” with him for such.


(Verses 30 through 34) I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding: and, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down. Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked upon it and received instruction. Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: so shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth; and thy want as an armed man.


Solomon gives such a graphic description of the field and vineyard of the lazy man; and then gives such a clear and understandable statement of what he learned from them that it should need no explanation nor comment to make it any clearer.


Chapter 25

(Verses 1 through 10) These are also proverbs of Solomon, which the men of Hezikiah king of Judah copied out. It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter. The heaven for height, and the earth for depth, and the heart of kings is unsearchable. Take away the dross from the silver, and there shall come forth a vessel for the finer. Take away the wicked from before the king, and his throne shall be established in righteousness. Put not forth thyself in the presence of the king, and stand not in the place of great men: for better it is that it be said unto thee, Come up hither; than that thou shouldest be put lower in the presence of the prince whom thine eyes have seen. Go not forth hastily to strive, lest thou know not what to do in the end thereof, when thy neighbour hath put thee to shame. Debate thy cause with thy neighbour himself: and discover not a secret to another: lest he that heareth it put thee to shame, and thine infamy turn not away.


Apparently the book of PROVERBS, though containing many of Solomon’s wise sayings, was not compiled until some time after his time. The proverbs that follow were copied down as a part of this work by king Hezekiah’s scribes. And that was some two or three hundred years after Solomon’ death. Solomon declares that it is important to God to conceal things, even to the point of being His glory, while, on the other hand, it is an honor to a king to search out a matter. Then he lets us know that the heart, or mind, of a king is very deep and impossible to be searched out. Then we have a comparison between silver in its crude form as ore, and a kingdom in which there are wicked men. Just as removing all the dross from the silver will leave it in condition for use in making a fine vessel, the removal of the wicked from before the king will establish his throne in righteousness. He also gives us some very good personal advice. We are not to try to push ourselves forth into the presence of the king, and not to try to move into the place of great men. But we are to wait until invited to approach the king. For it is better to be invited to come up higher, or to approach more closely to him than to be pushed farther from him, or in a lower position. We should never be in a hurry to get into a fight with our neighbor. In the first place, it is wrong to do so; and in the second, he might overcome us, rather than our overcoming him. It is much better to discuss any difference we might have with a neighbor alone where no one else can hear it. Because one who hears it may spread the news all around, and thus bring shame upon us.


(Verses 11 through 19) A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver. As an earring of gold, and as an ornament of fine gold, so is a wise reprover upon an obedient ear. As the cold of snow in the time of harvest, so is a faithful messenger to them that send him: for he refresheth the soul of his masters. Whoso boasteth himself of a false gift is like clouds and wind without rain. By long forbearing is a prince persuaded, and a soft tongue breaketh the bone. Hast thou found honey? Eat so much as is sufficient for thee, lest thou be filled therewith, and vomit it. Withdraw thy foot from thy neighbor’s house; lest he be weary of thee, and so hate thee. A man that beareth false witness against his neighbor is a maul, and a sword, and a sharp arrow.


If the right word is spoken at the right time , and in the right manner, it can make changes in a situation that seem almost miraculous, whereas sometimes even the right word can be spoken at the wrong time, or in the wrong way, and it will only make matters worse. So the one “fitly spoken,” which certainly means, spoken in the right way, and at the right time, really does stand out with all the beauty of apples of gold in pictures of silver. And when one wisely reproves one who has an obedient ear, it causes him to improve so much that it is as if he had put on some magnificent jewelry. Notice that Solomon did not say, As snow in the time of harvest,” but, “As the cold of snow in  the time of harvest, so is a faithful messenger to them that send him: for he refresheth the soul of his masters.” Those who send him are counted as his masters in this statement. In the heat of harvest time, although snow itself might not be welcome, the cooling effect of snow would be very acceptable. Anyone who boasts of having a gift, or ability, that he does not have amounts to no more than clouds that have no rain. They may sometimes be accompanied by a little wind, but they will not wet the ground. By being very patient under any rule the prince, or the king, might decree, one might finally persuade him to make some desired change in it. And although we might consider him a “bonehead,” we should always use soft speech when speaking to him, for “a soft answer breaketh the bone.” Let us always be careful to not partake too heavily of anything we may find, because it might be like honey. Although it is sweet to the taste, too much of it might make us sick. We may have a neighbor of whom we are very fond. But let us not push ourselves on him enough to cause him to want us to leave. Be considerate of his privacy. And a man who will bear false witness is just as dangerous as any of the weapons Solomon mentions


(Verses 19 through 28) Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a broken tooth, and a foot out of joint. As he that taketh away a garment in cold weather, and as vinegar upon nitre, so is he that singeth songs to a heavy heart. If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink: for thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the LORD shall reward thee. The north wind driveth away rain: so doth an angry countenance a backbiting tongue. It is better to dwell in the corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman and in a wide house. As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country. A righteous man falling down before the wicked is as a troubled fountain, and corrupt spring. It is not good to eat much honey: so for men to search their own glory is not glory. He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.


Solomon gives us a tragic picture, a broken tooth, and a foot out of joint.” This would undoubtedly be an uncomfortable condition. Yet it is no more uncomfortable a position than depending upon an unfaithful man in time of trouble Niter (“nitre’) is one of the elements used in making gunpowder. To put vinegar upon it might not be very safe, and it certainly would not improve it for that use. To take away a man’s garment in cold weather, would leave him in a very unpleasant condition. Yet Solomon says that the man who sings songs to one who has a heavy heart is just as unpleasant. Verses 21 and 22 do not need to be re-quoted, nor explained, since they are clear enough that anyone can understand their import. Yet there is one principle concerning them that should always be remembered. That is, do not do this in an effort to “heap coals of fire upon his head,” or to gain reward of the LORD. Rather, do it because the LORD has commanded us to love our enemies, and not mistreat them. In Solomon’s area of the world the weather was under the influence of the “prevailing westerlies” just as it is here. And when the weather did turn so that the wind was from the north it blew away the rain just as it often does here. Just so an angry countenance will drive away the man who is backbiting with his tongue. Again Solomon tells us that peace, even in very cramped quarters is better than confusion where there is plenty of room. “Good news from a far country,” especially when we are far from home and home is the far country from which the good news comes, is as refreshing to the spirit as is cold water when we are thirsty. A troubled fountain, or one whose flow is blocked off, and a corrupt, or poisoned spring are alike worthless. And so is a righteous man falling down before, or honoring, the wicked. Just as it is not good to eat too much honey, which would make one sick, so it is not good for men to search out, or seek, their own glory. In fact, to do so is not glory at all. And a man who has no rule over his own spirit, that is, no self control, is like a broken down city with no walls. He has no protection.


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