Proverbs 19


‘Better the poor whose walk is blameless than a fool whose lips are perverse.’ Proverbs 19:1

Wisdom For Walking And Talking A Wise Life

Clarke, in his commentary, says the following.

‘The upright poor man is always to be preferred to the rich or self-sufficient fool.’

The second part of this proverb seems to indicate that the fool is trying to swindle their way into wealth by speech which takes advantage of others.

What’s best, to be blameless in life or to be wealthy? Remember to be blameless doesn’t mean we are sinless, blameless means to do what God has required for us to be right with Him, Philippians 3:6.

‘Desire without knowledge is not good—how much more will hasty feet miss the way!’ Proverbs 19:2

The impulsive person who acts without thinking will fall into sin. The saying is true, ‘fools rush in where the devil dares to tread’.

The apostle Paul was zealous for the right reasons when he persecuted the church but after he received knowledge from Christ, he had even more zeal because of the knowledge he received, Philippians 3:1-6.

‘A person’s own folly leads to their ruin, yet their heart rages against the LORD.’ Proverbs 19:3

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘It is a foolish thing for us to fall into difficulty (due to our own stubbornness or foolishness) and then to blame God for our calamities which we have brought upon ourselves.’

The new catchphrase on television is ‘no blame, no claim’, the idea is that lawyers won’t take on a claim case if they don’t think they can win it for you.

Everyone needs to take responsibility for their own actions. We cannot blame God for our faults, Genesis 3:12-13 / Ezekiel 18:20.

‘Wealth attracts many friends, but even the closest friend of the poor person deserts them.’ Proverbs 19:4

In a materialistic world, people want to be seen with other people with lots of other materialistic goods, it’s an attraction, Proverbs 14:20 / Luke 18:1-9. Solomon was realistic about wealth. This is not the way it ought to be, even though in reality it is the way it is.

‘A false witness will not go unpunished, and whoever pours out lies will not go free. Many curry favour with a ruler, and everyone is the friend of one who gives gifts.’ Proverbs 19:5-6

Matthew Henry, in his commentary, says the following.

1. The sins threatened, bearing false witness in judgment and speaking lies in common conversation. Men could not arrive at such a pitch of impiety as to bear false witness (where to the guilt of a lie is added that of perjury and injury) if they had not advanced to it by allowing themselves to speak untruths in jest and banter, or under pretence of doing good. Thus men teach their tongues to speak lies, Jeremiah 9 5. Those that will take a liberty to tell lies in discourse are in a fair way to be guilty of the greater wickedness of false-witness-bearing, whenever they are tempted to it, though they seemed to detest it. Those that can swallow a false word debauch their consciences, so that a false oath will not choke them.

2. The threatening itself: They shall not go unpunished; they shall not escape. This intimates that that which emboldens them in the sin is the hope of impunity, it being a sin which commonly escapes punishment from men, though the law is strict, Deuteronomy 19:18-19. But it shall not escape the righteous judgment of God, who is jealous, and will not suffer his name to be profaned; we know where all liars will have their everlasting portion.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Any Christian can receive a personal demonstration of how true this is by giving a liberal gift to some institution, political party or to some social welfare group. He will soon have his mailbox stuffed full of appeals from ‘friends’ far and near.’

Isn’t it hard to see who your real friends are sometimes? Solomon is probably showing the difficulty a rich man has in distinguishing those who are his friends from those who want to use him and his wealth.

‘The poor are shunned by all their relatives—how much more do their friends avoid them! Though the poor pursue them with pleading, they are nowhere to be found. The one who gets wisdom loves life; the one who cherishes understanding will soon prosper.’ Proverbs 19:7-8

Clarke, in his commentary, says the following.

‘They shun him as they do the person they hate. They neither hate him positively, nor love him: they disregard him; they will have nothing to do with him. The word ‘Sana’ signifies not only to hate, but to show a less degree of love to one than another. So, Jacob loved Rachel, but hated Leah-showed her less affection than he did to Rachel.’

We shouldn’t try and attain wisdom, we must keep it and put it into practice. The idea here is that anyone who develops their mind is their own best friend, Proverbs 29:24. In other words, we are to look after ourselves both spiritually and physically.

‘A false witness will not go unpunished, and whoever pours out lies will perish. It is not fitting for a fool to live in luxury—how much worse for a slave to rule over princes!’ Proverbs 19:9-10

Once again, we are reminded that God’s people must be truthful, otherwise, like the false witness, we will be punished, Proverbs 19:5.

What’s Solomon saying here? The ancients believed there should be a correlation between social order and moral order, Ecclesiastes 10:5-7.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘A remarkably effective illustration of what is taught here is that of Gideon’s son Abimelech by a concubine. Another Biblical example of the same thing is that of Felix, Acts 23:27-33. ‘He exercised the authority of a prince, but he had the heart of a slave.’

‘A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offence.’ Proverbs 19:11

We live in a society that considers it a virtue to be quick to fight for your rights and refuse to allow a personal offence to go unanswered. The Bible teaches Christians are to act otherwise, Ephesians 4:32 / Colossians 3:13 / James 1:19.

Matthew Henry, in his commentary, says the following.

A wise man will observe these two rules about his anger: 1. Not to be over-hasty in his resentments: Discretion teaches us to defer our anger, to defer the admission of it till we have thoroughly considered all the merits of the provocation, seen them in a true light and weighed them in a just balance; and then to defer the prosecution of it till there be no danger of running into any indecencies. Plato said to his servant, ‘I would beat thee, but that I am angry.’ Give it time, and it will cool.

2. Not to be over-critical in his resentments. Whereas it is commonly looked upon as a piece of ingenuity to apprehend an affront quickly, it is here made a man’s glory to pass over a transgression, to appear as if he did not see it, Psalm 38:13, or, if he sees fit to take notice of it, yet to forgive it and meditate no revenge.

‘A king’s rage is like the roar of a lion, but his favour is like dew on the grass. A foolish child is a father’s ruin, and a quarrelsome wife is like the constant dripping of a leaky roof. Houses and wealth are inherited from parents, but a prudent wife is from the LORD.’ Proverbs 19:12-14

Many people are aware of how loud a lion’s roar is, thankfully not many people have been eaten by one. We don’t want to anger the king, but seek his favour, Proverbs 15:14-16.

Clarke, in his commentary, says the following.

‘There is nothing more dreadful than the roaring of this tyrant of the forest. At the sound of it all other animals tremble, flee away, and hide themselves. The king who is above law, and rules without law, and whose will is his own law, is like the lion.’

Do you ever thank God for your husband or wife? We should thank God daily for our husband or wife. Wise men recognise there is a considerable amount of uncertainty in the choice of a wife. Thus, a good wife is accredited to God.

Clarke, in his commentary, says the following.

‘The man who has got such a wife is like a tenant who has got a cottage with a bad roof, through every part of which the rain either drops or pours. He can neither sit, stand, work, nor sleep, without being exposed to these droppings. God help the man who is in such a case, with house or wife!’

We may inherit many good things from our parents, but only the Lord can provide a prudent wife, Proverbs 18:22.

‘Laziness brings on deep sleep, and the shiftless go hungry.’ Proverbs 19:15

A person who is lazy is always lethargic and bored, they would rather go hungry than feed themselves, Proverbs 23:21 / 2 Thessalonians 3:10.

Clarke, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Sloth renders a man utterly unconscious of all his interests. Though he has frequently felt hunger, yet he is regardless that his continual slothfulness must necessarily plunge him into more sufferings.’

‘Whoever keeps commandments keeps their life, but whoever shows contempt for their ways will die.’ Proverbs 19:16

We’re not sure what these commandments are referring to, it could be the commandments, of the teacher, or the father. We all have certain traits of our fathers or mothers, good and bad. Whatever the commandments are referring to, they are to be obeyed or death will follow.

‘Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward them for what they have done.’ Proverbs 19:17

The obligation to care for the poor is stressed here. God takes care of the needy and repays the man who helps them, Hebrews 6:10 / Matthew 25:31-46.

Clarke, in his commentary, says the following.

‘O what a word is this! God makes himself debtor for every thing that is given to the poor! Who would not advance much upon such credit? God will pay it again. And in no case has he ever forfeited his word.’

‘Discipline your children, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to their death.’ Proverbs 19:18

We must discipline our children while there is still time to influence the life of a child. But there must also be a limit to the discipline, Ephesians 6:4.

‘A hot-tempered person must pay the penalty; rescue them, and you will have to do it again. Listen to advice and accept discipline, and in the end, you will be counted among the wise. Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.’ Proverbs 19:19-21

A hot-tempered person only finds trouble, Galatians 5:23, and if anyone helps them get out of the mess they have created, they just do it again.

If people listen to advice and accept discipline, they will become wiser in life, and the Lord’s will, will be done, James 4:13-15.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘In the run of a lifetime, a man hears all kinds of philosophies and all kinds of theories and teachings; but it is only the word of the Lord that shall stand the test of time and eternity. ‘Heaven and earth shall pass away,’ the Lord says, ‘But my word shall not pass away, Matthew 24:35.’

What does Solomon mean here? Sometimes we have to let people fall, because if we help them not to make mistakes all the time, they will never learn from their mistakes. God’s purposes are worked out regardless of the plans and purposes of men.

‘What a person desires is unfailing love, better to be poor than a liar.’ Proverbs 19:22

The real measure of a person is their character, not what they own.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘This rendition attempts to pair two desirable things thus: ‘What is desirable in a person is loyalty, and it is better to be poor than a liar.’ Another: ‘Mercy is a fruit to a man, and a poor man is better than a rich liar.’

‘The fear of the LORD leads to life; then one rests content, untouched by trouble.’ Proverbs 19:23

There is a measure of security for the person who fears God. Fear of the Lord can bring sweet, peaceful sleep. Is Solomon saying that Christians will have a trouble-free life? No, he’s saying we will have a better life because of wiser decisions, wiser living, wiser benefits.

‘A sluggard buries his hand in the dish; he will not even bring it back to his mouth! Flog a mocker, and the simple will learn prudence; rebuke the discerning, and they will gain knowledge.’ Proverbs 19:24-25

What does He mean when here? This was the custom of the time, 2 Kings 21:13, this is a lazy person who won’t even feed themselves, Proverbs 26:15.

A person who has understanding is the person who needs no such process of learning, such as seeing the punishment of others. They can accept and utilise correction directly.

The punishment given to a person provides a learning opportunity for another person. We could learn something even if someone is telling us off for something we have said or done.

‘Whoever robs their father and drives out their mother is a child who brings shame and disgrace. Stop listening to instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge.’ Proverbs 19:26-27

People today feel that this is a modern problem only where their kids bring trouble to them, but Solomon says it was like this in his day, Exodus 20:12 / Proverbs 1:8 / Proverbs 17:2.

If we stray from the truth of God and the wisdom we’re reading about every week, we will have to pay the consequences, Joshua 1:7-8.

‘A corrupt witness mocks at justice, and the mouth of the wicked gulps down evil. Penalties are prepared for mockers, and beatings for the backs of fools.’ Proverbs 19:28-29

Someone who spreads evil loves it because evil is their favourite food, 1 Kings 21:10 / 1 Kings 21:13.

Notice that the word penalties is plural, this infers that all types of punishments are available, and will be used, for these types of people.

Clarke, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Profane and wicked men expose themselves to the punishments denounced against such by just laws. Avoid, therefore, both their company and their end.’

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘The judgments and ‘stripes’ mentioned here do not refer to punishments meted out by a court of justice; but they always refer to the judgments of God, although inflicted by human instrumentality.’ Regardless of the laws of men, it is God who condemns scoffers and also that class of wicked men called, invariably in Proverbs, ‘fools’.’

‘Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.’ Romans 13:1-5

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