|<< Proverbs 22 >>|
Barnes' Notes on the Bible
1A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold.
Omit "good." The word is an insertion. To the Hebrew, "name" by itself conveyed the idea of good repute, just as "men without a name" (compare Job 30:8 margin) are those sunk in ignominy. The margin gives a preferable rendering of the second clause of this verse.
2The rich and poor meet together: the LORD is the maker of them all.
Compare the margin reference. Another recognition of the oneness of a common humanity, overriding all distinctions of rank.
3A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished.
4By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, and honour, and life.
Better, (compare the margin) The reward of humility (is) the fear of the Lord, "riches, and honor, and life.
5Thorns and snares are in the way of the froward: he that doth keep his soul shall be far from them.
6Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
Train - Initiate, and so, educate.
The way he should go - Or, according to the tenor of his way, i. e., the path especially belonging to, especially fitted for, the individual's character. The proverb enjoins the closest possible study of each child's temperament and the adaptation of "his way of life" to that.
7The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.
8He that soweth iniquity shall reap vanity: and the rod of his anger shall fail.
The rod of his anger - That with which he smites others (compare Isaiah 14:6). The King James Version describes the final impotence of the wrath of the wicked.
9He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed; for he giveth of his bread to the poor.
He that hath a bountiful eye - literally, as in the margin, contrasted with the "evil eye" of Proverbs 28:22.
10Cast out the scorner, and contention shall go out; yea, strife and reproach shall cease.
11He that loveth pureness of heart, for the grace of his lips the king shall be his friend.
More literally, "He that loveth pureness of heart, his lips are gracious, the king is his friend."
12The eyes of the LORD preserve knowledge, and he overthroweth the words of the transgressor.
13The slothful man saith, There is a lion without, I shall be slain in the streets.
The point of the satire is the ingenuity with which the slothful man devises the most improbable alarms. He hears that "there is a lion without," i. e., in the broad open country; he is afraid of being slain in the very streets of the city.
14The mouth of strange women is a deep pit: he that is abhorred of the LORD shall fall therein.
The fall of the man into the snare of the harlot seems to be the consequence of the abhorrence or wrath of Yahweh. That abhorrence is, however, the result of previous evil. The man is left to himself, and sin becomes the penalty of sin.
15Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.
16He that oppresseth the poor to increase his riches, and he that giveth to the rich, shall surely come to want.
Better, He who oppresses the poor for his own profit gives. (i. e., will, in the common course of things, be compelled to give) to a rich man, and that only to his own loss. Ill-gotten gains do not prosper, and only expose the oppressor to extortion and violence in his turn.
17Bow down thine ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply thine heart unto my knowledge.
This is the commencement of a new and entirely distinct section, opening, after the fashion of Proverbs 3:1, Proverbs 3:21; Proverbs 4:1; Proverbs 7:1; with a general exhortation Proverbs 22:17-21 and passing on to special precepts. The "words of the wise" may be a title to the section: compare Proverbs 24:23. The general characteristics of this section appear to be
(1) a less close attention to the laws of parallelism, and
(2) a tendency to longer and more complicated sentences. Compare the Introduction to Proverbs.
18For it is a pleasant thing if thou keep them within thee; they shall withal be fitted in thy lips.
What is "pleasant" in the sight of God and man is the union of two things, belief passing into profession, profession resting on belief.
19That thy trust may be in the LORD, I have made known to thee this day, even to thee.
Even to thee - The wide general character of the teaching does not hinder its being a personal message to every one who reads it.
20Have not I written to thee excellent things in counsels and knowledge,
Excellent things - A meaning of the word derived from "the third," i. e., "the chief of three warriors in a chariot" (compare Exodus 14:7 note). Another reading of the Hebrew text gives "Have I not written to thee long ago?" and this would form a natural antithesis to "this day" of Proverbs 22:19. The rendering of the Septuagint is: "write them for thyself three times;" that of the Vulgate, "I have written it (i. e., my counsel) In threefold form;" the "three times" or "threefold form" being referred either to the Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, the Song of Solomon, or to the division of the Old Testament into the Law, the prophets, and the Hagiographa.
21That I might make thee know the certainty of the words of truth; that thou mightest answer the words of truth to them that send unto thee?
To them that send unto thee - Better as in the margin; compare Proverbs 10:26. The man who has learned the certainty of the words of truth will learn to observe it in all that men commit to him.
22Rob not the poor, because he is poor: neither oppress the afflicted in the gate:
i. e., "Do not be tempted by the helplessness of the poor man to do him wrong:" some prefer, "Refrain from doing him wrong through pity for his helplessness."
The gate - The place where the rulers of the city sit in judgment. The words point to the special form of oppression of which unjust judges are the instruments.
23For the LORD will plead their cause, and spoil the soul of those that spoiled them.
24Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go:
25Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul.
26Be not thou one of them that strike hands, or of them that are sureties for debts.
Strike hands - i. e., Bind themselves as surety for what another owes (compare the margin reference).
27If thou hast nothing to pay, why should he take away thy bed from under thee?
He - i. e., The man to whom the surety has been given. The practice of distraining for payment of a debt, seems, though prohibited Exodus 22:27, to have become common.
28Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set.
A protest against the grasping covetousness Isaiah 5:8 which is regardless of the rights of the poor upon whose inheritance men encroach (compare the margin reference). The not uncommon reference of the words to the "landmarks" of thought or custom, however, natural and legitimate, is foreign to the mind of the writer.
29Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.
The gift of a quick and ready intellect is to lead to high office, it is not to be wasted on a work to which the obscure are adequate.