1 A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.
“soft answer turneth away wrath” – cf, the way Gideon calmed the anger of the men of Ephraim in Jdg 8:1-3 (cf also Prov 15:18; Ecc 10:4).
“grievous words stir up anger” – Nabal’s sarcastic response put David in a fighting mood (1 Sam 25:10-13).
2 The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright: but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness.
3 The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.
4 A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit.
“perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit” – wicked speech hurts others, especially false testimony in court or slander in the community.
5 A fool despiseth his father’s instruction: but he that regardeth reproof is prudent.
6 In the house of the righteous is much treasure: but in the revenues of the wicked is trouble.
7 The lips of the wise disperse knowledge: but the heart of the foolish doeth not so.
8 The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD: but the prayer of the upright is his delight.
“sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination” – those whose hearts are not right with God gain nothing by offering sacrifices (see Ecc 5:1; Is 1:11-15; Jer 6:20).
9 The way of the wicked is an abomination un to the LORD: but he loveth him that followeth after righteousness.
“followeth after righteousness” – see 21:21; 1 Tim 6:11.
10 Correction is grievous unto him that forsaketh the way: and he that hateth reproof shall die.
11 Hell and destruction are before the LORD: how much more than the hearts of the children of men?
“Hell and destruction are before the LORD” – not even the grave, the netherworld, is inaccessible to God (see Job 26:6; Ps 139:8). Therefore He knows the secrets of man’s innermost being (cf 1 Sam 16:7).
12 A scorner loveth not one that reproveth him: neither will he go unto the wise.
13 A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.
“by sorrow of the heart…spirit is broken” – cf, the great sorrow of Job (Job 3) and David (Ps 51:8, 10).
14 The heart of him that hath understanding seeketh knowledge: but the mouth of fools feedeth on foolishness.
15 All the days of the afflicted are evil: but he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast.
“he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast” – life is as joyful and satisfying as the days of a festival (see v 13; 14:30; cf Lev 23:29-41).
16 Better is little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble therewith.
“great treasure and trouble” – the ill-gotten gains of 10:2.
17 Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith.
“stalled ox” – a fattened cow. Such meat was something of a luxury, reserved for special occasions (cf 7:14; Matt 22:4; Lk 15:23).
18 A wrathful man stirreth up strife: but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife.
19 The way of the slothful man is as an hedge of thorns: but the way of the righteous is made plain.
“as a hedge of thorns” – mainly because he was too lazy to remove them (see 24:30-31; Hos 2:6).
“way…made plain” – Lit “lifted up” like a smooth path or highway, meaning that the upright are able to make progress and reach their goals.
20 A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish man despiseth his mother.
21 Folly is joy to him that is destitute of wisdom: but a man of understanding walketh uprightly.
22 Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counselors they are established.
23 A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!
“answer of his mouth”: – when he speaks in the right way; cf, Is 50:4.
24 The way of life is above to the wise that he may depart from hell beneath.
“is above” – leads upward along the highway (v 19), the straight course that leads to life.
25 The LORD will destroy the house of the proud: but he will establish the border of the widow.
“establish the border of the widow” – in ancient times boundary stones marked a person’s property. Anyone who moved such a stone was, in effect, stealing land (see 22:28; Job 24:2; Ps 68:5; see also Deut 19:14).
26 The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the LORD: but the words of the pure are pleasant words.
27 He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house; but he that hateth gifts shall live.
“He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house” – Achan’s whole family perished because of his greed at Jericho (Josh 7:24-26).
“he that hateth gifts shall live” – referring to bribes (see Deut 16:19; 1 Sam 12:3; Ecc 7:7; 1 Tim 6:10).
28 The heart of the righteous studieth to answer: but the mouth of the wicked poureth out evil things.
“studieth to answer” – thinks before speaking; cf 1 Pet 3:15.
29 The LORD is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous.
30 The light of the eyes rejoiceth the heart: and a good report maketh the bones fat.
“the light of the eyes rejoiceth the heart” – a cheerful attitude brings joy (see Job 29:24.
31 The ear that heareth the reproof of life abideth among the wise.
32 He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul: but he that heareth reproof getteth understanding.
33 The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom; and before honor is humility.
“before honor is humility” – see Matt 23:12; Lk 14:11; 18:14; 1 Pet 5:6. Wisdom also comes with humility.