1 Better is the poor that walketh in his integrity, than he that is perverse in his lips, and is a fool.
“Then he that is perverse” – even if he becomes rich (see 28:6).
2 Also, that the soul be without knowledge, it is not good; and he that hasteth with his feet sinneth.
“be without knowledge” – cf. Rom 10:2.
“hasten with his feet” – haste can lead to poverty (2:15) or folly (29:20).
3 The foolishness of man perverteth his way: and his heart fretteth against the LORD.
“his heart fretteth against the LORD” – rages in anger as he blames God for his troubles (see Gen 4:5; Is 8:21; cf Lam 3:39).
4 Wealth maketh many friends; but the poor is separated from his neighbor.
5 A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall not escape.
6 Many will intreat the favor of the prince: and every man is a friend to him that giveth gifts.
“intreat the favor” – cf, Job 11:19.
“friend to him that giveth gifts” – generosity (v 4) or bribery (18:16) could be in view.
7 All the brethren of the poor do hate him: how much more do his friends go far from him? he pursueth them with words, yet they are wanting to him.
8 He that getteth wisdom loveth his own soul: he that keepeth understanding shall find good.
9 A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall perish.
10 Delight is not seemly for a fool; much less for a servant to have rule over princes.
“Delight is not seemly for a fool” – nor is honor (26:31).
“for a servant to have rule over princes” – because of his lack of wisdom and tendency to become a tyrant (see 17:2; 29:2; Is 3:4).
11 The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression.
“deferreth his anger” – see 14:29; 15:18; 16:32; Ecc 7:9; Jas 1:19).
“passover a transgression” – he has good self-control (see 12:16; 29:11; 2 Sam 1:11-12).
12 The king’s wrath is as the roaring of a lion; but his favor is as dew upon the grass.
13 A foolish son is the calamity of his father: and the contentions of a wife are a continual dropping.
“foolish son” – see 17:21, 25.
“contentions of a wife” – also denounced in 21:9, 19; 25:24; 27:15. Stirring up dissension is condemned throughout Proverbs (see 6:14).
14 House and riches are the inheritance of fathers: and a prudent wife is from the LORD.
15 Slothfulness casteth into a deep sleep; and an idle soul shall suffer hunger.
16 He that keepeth the commandment keepeth his own soul; but he that despiseth his ways shall die.
17 He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.
“lendeth unto the LORD” – the Lord regards it as a gift to Him (cf Matt 25:40).
18 Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.
“Chasten thy son…spare for his crying” – false pity should not keep a parent from disciplining a child.
19 A man of great wrath shall suffer punishment: for if thou deliver him, yet thou must do it again.
20 Hear counsel, and receive instruction, t hat thou mayest be wise in thy latter end.
21 There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD that shall stand.
22 The desire of a man is his kindness: and a poor man is better than a liar.
“The desire of a man is his kindness” – a good-hearted person desires to practice kindness to others, but such goodness is difficult to find (cf 3:3; 14:22).
23 The fear of the LORD tendeth to life: and he that hath it shall abide satisfied; he shall not be visited with evil.
“fear of the LORD” – see 1:7.
24 A slothful man hideth his hand in his bosom, and will not so much as bring it to his mouth again.
25 Smite a scorner, and the simple will beware: and reprove one that hath understanding, and he will understand knowledge.
“Smite a scorner” – see v 29; 14:3).
“simple” – not to be confused with the mocker.
26 He that wasteth his father, and chaseth away his mother, is a son that causeth shame, and bringeth reproach.
“wasteth his father, and chaseth away his mother” – they steal from and are abusive toward their parents. Children were expected to take care of their parents when they were sick or elderly (cf Is 51:18). Robbing them (cf Jdg 17:1-2) and attacking them (Ex 21:15, 17) were serious crimes.
27 Cease, my son, to hear the instruction that causeth to err from the words of knowledge.
28 An ungodly witness scorneth Judgment: and the mouth of the wicked devoureth iniquity.
“ungodly witness” – see v 5.
“devoureth iniquity” – cf the description of man as one who “drinketh iniquity like water” (Job 15:16; and s ee Job 34:7).
29 Judgments are prepared for scorners, and stripes for the back of fools.