1 A wise son heareth his father’s instruction: but a scorner heareth not rebuke.
2 A man shall eat good by the fruit of his mouth: but the soul of the transgressors shall eat violence.
3 He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life: but he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction.
“keepeth his mouth keepeth his life” – the ability to control the tongue is one of the clearest marks of wisdom. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (18:21; see 10:19; 21:23; Jas 3:2).
4 The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.
“sluggard” – see 6:6.
“desireth, and hath nothing” –is never satisfied, yet refuses to work.
“soul of the diligent shall be made fat” – diligence yields a profit.
5 A righteous man hateth lying: but a wicked man is loathsome, and cometh to shame.
“is loathsome, and cometh to shame” –like a lazy or ungrateful son (10:5; 19:26).
6 Righteousness keepeth him that is upright in the way: but wickedness overthroweth the sinner.
7 There is that maketh himself rich, yet hath nothing: there is that maketh himself poor, yet hath great riches.
Both pretenses are folly and lead to folly.
8 The ransom of a man’s life are his riches: but the poor heareth not rebuke.
“ransom of a man’s life” – he has the means to pay off robbers or enemies.“poor heareth not rebuke” – even poverty has its advantages.
9 The light of the righteous rejoiceth: but the lamp of the wicked shall be put out.
“light…lamp” – symbols of life.“rejoiceth” – there is joy and prosperity.“lamp of the wicked shall be put out” – his life will end.
10 Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.
11 Wealth gotten by vanity shall
be diminished: but he that gathereth by labor shall increase.
“Wealth…by vanity shall be diminished” – such as wealth gained by extortion (Ps 62:10) or deceit (Prov 21:6).
12 Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.
“when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life” – it revives and strengthens.
13 Whoso despiseth the word shall be destroyed: but he that feareth the commandment shall be rewarded.
“he that feareth the commandment shall be rewarded” – with the benefits wisdom gives (see 3:2).
14 The law of the wise is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.
15 Good understanding giveth favor: but the way of transgressors is hard.
16 Every prudent man dealeth with knowledge: but a fool layeth open his folly.
17 A wicked messenger falleth into mischief: but a faithful ambassador is health.
“falleth into mischief” – perhaps by misrepresenting those who sent him.“a faithful ambassador is health” – he tactful, honest approach benefits both parties.
18 Poverty and shame shall be to him that refuseth instruction: but he that regardeth reproof shall be honoured.
19 The desire accomplished is sweet to the soul: but it is abomination to fools to depart from evil.
“abomination…to depart from evil” – cf their hatred of correction in 5:12.
20 He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.
21 Evil pursueth sinners: but to the righteous good shall be repayed.
22 A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children’s children: and the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just.
“is laid up for the just” – Job agrees that this is often what happens to a wicked man’s possessions (Job 27:16-17; cf Prov 28:8).
23 Much food is in the tillage of the poor: but there is that is destroyed for want of Judgment.
“there is that is destroyed for want of Judgment” – or “it is swept away by injustice.” Reference is to the food the poor man has earned by his hard work; a case of the rich and powerful oppressing the poor.
24 He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.
“spareth his rod hateth his son” – parents are encouraged to apply the rod of punishment to drive out folly (22:15) so that the child will not follow a path of destruction (19:18; 23:13-14). “The
rod and reproof give wisdom” (29:15) and promote a healthy and happy family (29:17). Discipline is rooted in love (see 3:11-12).“rod” – a figure of speech for loving and corrective discipline of any kind.
25 The righteous eateth to the satisfying of his soul: but the belly of the wicked shall want.
States more specifically the teaching of vv 13, 18, 21; see 10:3.