Vv. 2-7a. See commentary on 16:10-15. These sayings were placed together due to verbal similarities in the Hebrew. It is the task of rulers to inquire into the mysteries of governing in order to rule well. However, they need honest advisers and must purge the wicked from their courts. Note how Jesus in Lk 14:7-10 used vv. 6 and 7.
Vv. 7b-10. One should not hasten to court but settle disputes privately (Mt 5:25). A quick decision to enter court without all the facts could prove disastrous when the opponent wins. One will suffer both financial loss and a loss of reputation.
V. 14. This verse is a saying on empty promises.
V. 19. A saying on the danger of misplaced confidence.
V. 20. There are improper times for even good things.
V. 23. “Sly” means “secret.” The proper response to gossip is anger.
V. 25. The venture in a distant land could be financial or military.
V. 26. The divine order of the righteous triumphing over the wicked is disturbed by a compromise that allows the wicked to succeed.
V. 28. One lacking in self-control is vulnerable to personal loss.
Vv. 1, 8. Honor should not come to a fool.
V. 2. An addition to this group. The Israelite considered a curse more than words; it was a force capable of evil.
Vv. 4, 5. These contradictory sayings are correct depending on circumstances.
Vv. 7, 9. The fool does not know what to do with wisdom.
V. 11. A fool does not learn; that is why one is a fool.
V. 12. The proud are worse than fools.
V. 14. This is a humorous description of the sluggard.
V. 16. The lazy, due to self-satisfaction, are not motivated to do better.
V. 17. Stay out of others' quarrels.
Vv. 23-28. The meddler stirs up strife due to evil intent, even though one may pose as a friend or act innocent. Eventually the evil will be discovered and publicly exposed so that the disaster planned for others will recoil onto the meddler.
Vv. 3, 4. The anger of a fool is difficult to bear, but jealousy is worse than anger.
Vv. 5, 6, 9, 10, 14. Love means friendship. The wise one will stay on good terms with a neighbor or friend who is more valuable than distant relatives. An old trusted friend brings joy to a life, even through rebukes.
V. 7. It is the appetite, not the food, that makes the difference.
V. 8. Be satisfied with what you have.
V. 11. The parent takes pleasure in the wise child.
V. 17. People can provoke each other for the better.
V. 18. Faithful service will be rewarded.
V. 19. What one is internally is shown outwardly.
V. 20. Greed is never satisfied.
Vv. 23-27. Drawn from a pastoral scene this poem teaches diligence in labor. Study what one has and manage it well, for wealth does not last forever. In times of adversity, that which has been taken care of will in turn provide one's necessities.
V. 1. This verse shows a contrast in confidence, for the righteous are secure in their integrity while the wicked are apprehensive of retribution.
Vv. 2, 3, 5, 15, 16. The wicked ruin a country morally, economically, and politically. The experience of the northern kingdom may lie behind v. 2. Wisdom and knowledge of the way of Yahweh bring prosperity and peace.
V. 4. “The law” is the covenant law revealed by Yahweh. A continuous tension exists between those who keep the law and the wicked.
V. 8. Interest on loans was allowed in business, but justice demanded that it be canceled for the poor.
V. 10. Those who corrupt others will be punished.
V. 11. Wisdom, not wealth, is the higher value.
V. 13. The mercy of God in forgiveness comes only after sin is confessed and forsaken.
V. 14. “The Lord” is missing in the Hebrew. “Fear” is to respect, obey.
V. 17. A murderer, though conscience-stricken, is not to receive mercy.
Vv. 20-22, 25. These verses speak to the sin of greed, recognizing the length to which the greedy will go for wealth. Justice will be done when they experience the punishment of poverty for their sin, and the faithful prosper.
V. 4. Justice provides the foundation for any government to govern.
V. 5. The motives of the flatterer are self-seeking and harmful to a neighbor.
V. 6. The righteous do not fear repercussions of their actions, but the wicked set in motion deeds that come back to punish them.
V. 7. Concern for the poor is one of the factors that distinguish the wicked and the righteous.
V. 8. The wise benefit a community, but mockers are troublemakers.
V. 9. One cannot reason with a fool, even in court.
V. 12. Advisers will reflect the moral level of the ruler.
V. 18. “Revelation” correctly translates the Hebrew, not a dream for the future, but a prophet's revelation from God. When a people reject God's revelation, they throw off the restraints that guard life from evil.
V. 24. The accomplice of a thief places his own life in danger. He cannot testify against a partner without implicating himself.
V. 26. Ultimately justice and security come from Yahweh, not from a ruler.