The Word Made Fresh
1One who is often scolded but remains stubborn
will suddenly be broken beyond repair.
2When good people are in charge the people rejoice;
when bad people rule the people groan.
3A parent’s heart is gladdened by a child who loves wisdom,
but one who keeps company with prostitutes goes to ruin.
4A king brings stability to the land through justice;
a king who rules with a heavy hand does much damage.
5One who flatters a neighbor is only
preparing a trap for him.
6When bad people transgress there is a trap;
but the righteous may still sing and rejoice.
7Good people know the rights of the poor;
bad people have no such understanding.
8Complainers keep a city stirred,
but the wise can turn away anger.
9Whenever the wise go to court with fools,
there is ranting and raging without relief.
10The bloodthirsty hate those who are pure in heart,
and plot ways to take their lives.
11Fools cannot hide their anger,
but those who are wise quietly hold anger in check.
12When a ruler embraces falsehoods,
all the officials are corrupted.
13Both the poor and the oppressor have this in common;
the LORD gives sight to the eyes of both.
14If a king judges the poor fairly
his throne will be secure forever.
15Both the rod and words of reproof contain wisdom,
but a mother is disgraced by a child who is neglected.
16When wicked people are in charge, troubles increase,
but good people will see their downfall.
17If you discipline your children you will be able to rest easy;
they will bring delight to your heart.
18Where no prophecy has been given the people are not restrained,
but those who obey the law rejoice.
19Servants cannot be disciplined by words alone.
They may understand but will not be attentive.
20Have you noticed someone whose speech is hasty?
Fools have more hope than such a one.
21A servant pampered from childhood
will suffer a bad end.
22Someone who angers easily stirs up trouble,
and causes problems because of their hotheadedness.
23Pride leads to humiliation,
but those whose spirit is humble will receive honor.
24You hate your own life if you partner with a thief.
You may hear the victim curse, but you won’t reveal anything.
25To be afraid of others is to lay a trap for yourself;
but trust in the LORD and you will be safe.
26Many people seek the ruler’s favor,
but trust in the LORD is true security.
27Wrongdoers are a curse to those who are righteous,
but good people are a curse to wrongdoers.
1: Accepting, even welcoming correction and reproof, is the mark of wisdom. If you keep making the same mistakes over and over again, sooner or later you’re in for a big fall.
2: Compare 28:12.
3: Remember the long warning given to “my son” to beware of prostitutes and adulterous wives? The “substance” one squanders with a prostitute is intended to be understood in more ways than one.
5: Praise and flattery are two different things.
6: Those who do wrong must always fear being found out and punished. Those who do right have no such anxieties.
8: The idea here is that the whole community might suffer from the stupid actions of one person.
9: You can’t explain the law to a fool.
12: The success of one deceitful person invites others to be deceitful.
13: Compare 22:2.
14: The kind treatment of the poor reveals a character that is in tune with God’s will, and thus insures God’s support over time.
15: Could it be that a spoiled child is sometimes the result not of too much attention, but too little?
18: The prophets are the ones who hold the people to the covenant with God. Without them the people tend to take license to do whatever they wish. Nevertheless, those who keep the law will be especially blessed.
20-27: The chapter ends with assorted proverbs about character, the application of discipline, and the care with which relationships should be developed and maintained. Some of the proverbs are specific to cultures in which slavery was practiced and where the government is some form of monarchy, but most of them apply to nearly every culture and time.
Perhaps the hardest lesson in Proverbs is simply being open to correction from one’s elders and peers. If you can’t be corrected, you can’t improve.