Proverbs 22 COMMENTARY (Ellicott)

Proverbs 22
Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold.

(1) Loving favour.—Or, favour is better than silver and gold. “Favour” may signify the grace which wins love, as well as the favour gained thereby.

The rich and poor meet together: the LORD is the maker of them all.
(2) The rich and poor meet together.—Are thrown together in the world in order to aid each other in the path through life, remembering that they are brethren, sons of one Father. (Comp. 1 Corinthians 12:27.)

A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished.
(3) A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself, as the Israelites hid themselves within their houses from the destroying angel, Noah within the Ark, the Christians before the fall of Jerusalem (Luke 21:21) in Pella. (Comp. Isaiah 26:20.)

By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, and honour, and life.
(4) By humility and the fear of the Lord.—Rather, by (or, the reward of) humility is the fear of the Lord. He guides the humble and teaches them His fear. (Comp. Psalm 25:9.)

Honour, and life.—Comp. Proverbs 21:21.

Thorns and snares are in the way of the froward: he that doth keep his soul shall be far from them.
(5) Thorns.—Comp. note on Proverbs 15:19.

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.
He that soweth iniquity shall reap vanity: and the rod of his anger shall fail.
(8) Vanity—i.e., calamity, trouble.

The rod of his anger shall fail.—When his time comes, and his iniquity is full, he shall himself suffer the punishment he brought on others, as Babylon did (Isaiah 14:6), Assyria (Isaiah 30:31).

He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed; for he giveth of his bread to the poor.
Cast out the scorner, and contention shall go out; yea, strife and reproach shall cease.
(10) The scorner.—See above on Proverbs 1:22.

He that loveth pureness of heart, for the grace of his lips the king shall be his friend.
(11) For the grace of his lips.—Rather, who has grace of lips; one who loves the truth and can speak it pleasantly.

The eyes of the LORD preserve knowledge, and he overthroweth the words of the transgressor.
(12) The eyes of the Lord preserve knowledgei.e., men who know and speak the truth. (See above on Proverbs 21:28.)

He overthroweth the words of the transgressor—i.e., the deceitful; He brings his lies to light.

The slothful man saith, There is a lion without, I shall be slain in the streets.
(13) The slothful man saith, There is a lion without . . .—No excuses are too absurd for him, he fears to meet a lion in the open country, or, he might be murdered in the streets.

The mouth of strange women is a deep pit: he that is abhorred of the LORD shall fall therein.
(14) Strange women.—See above on Proverbs 2:16.

Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.
(15) Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child.—Self-will is meant. (See above on Proverbs 1:7.) Children have to be taught to yield their wills to others.

He that oppresseth the poor to increase his riches, and he that giveth to the rich, shall surely come to want.
(16) He that oppresseth the poor . . .—Rather, he that does so is (thereby) giving to the rich, only to (his own) loss. That is, he shall be none the better for the act of oppression, but shall have to disgorge his prey to some one richer and more powerful than himself, and thereby be reduced to poverty.

Bow down thine ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply thine heart unto my knowledge.

(17) Hear the words of the wise.—Comp. chap 1:6. As “wise” is in the plural number, it would seem as if the following section contained proverbs written by others than Solomon, though they may have been collected by him. (Comp. Proverbs 24:23.)

For it is a pleasant thing if thou keep them within thee; they shall withal be fitted in thy lips.
(18) They shall withal be fitted in thy lips.—Rather, if they be established (dwell constantly) upon thy lips. They are to be as a watch, and “keep the door of his lips” against sin (Psalm 141:3), to teach him what to say in difficulty (Mark 13:11), how to speak without fear even before kings (Psalm 119:46); by them the “praises of God” will ever be in his mouth (Psalm 149:6).

That thy trust may be in the LORD, I have made known to thee this day, even to thee.
(19) I have made known to thee this day, even to thee these counsels of the wise. The words, “this day,” recall the warning of Hebrews 3:13, and the emphatic “to thee, even to thee,” imply that the message of God, though it may be [general in its form, yet is addressed to each individual soul among His people (comp., “Ho, every one that thirsteth,” Isaiah 55:1); each being well known, and an object of love on the part of his Redeemer.

Have not I written to thee excellent things in counsels and knowledge,
That 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?
(21) That thou mightest answer the words of truth to them that send unto thee?—This rendering is somewhat doubtful, but seems to give the best sense to the passage. The scholar is to be instructed not for his own profit alone, but in order that he may be able to teach others also. (Comp. 1 Peter 3:15.)

Rob not the poor, because he is poor: neither oppress the afflicted in the gate:

(22) Neither oppress the afflicted in the gate.—The place of business (Genesis 34:20) and of judgment (Deuteronomy 21:19; Amos 5:15). (Comp. the title, “the Sublime Porte.”) This, with the following Proverbs 22:23, forms a tetrastich or verse of four lines, as do also Proverbs 22:24-25.

For the LORD will plead their cause, and spoil the soul of those that spoiled them.
Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go:
Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul.
(25) Lest thou . . . get a snare to thy soul—i.e., lose thy life.

Be not thou one of them that strike hands, or of them that are sureties for debts.
(26) Be not thou one of them that strike hands.—Another warning against suretiship. (See above, on Proverbs 6:1.)

If thou hast nothing to pay, why should he take away thy bed from under thee?
(27) Why should he take away thy bed from under thee?—If the mantle was taken in pledge, it had to be restored before sundown for the poor man to sleep in; but this merciful provision of the Law was evidently evaded. (Comp. Ezekiel 18:12.)

Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set.
(28) Remove not the ancient landmark.—The stones marking the boundaries of the fields: evidently a not uncommon crime, from the earnestness with which it is forbidden. (Comp. Proverbs 23:10; Deuteronomy 19:14; Deuteronomy 27:17.)

Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.
(29) He shall stand before kings.—Shall attend upon them as their minister. (Comp. Genesis 41:46.) This verse is a tristich, containing three lines.

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