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Bible Commentaries

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

Proverbs 12

 

 

Verse 1

Proverbs 12:1

"Whoso loveth correction loveth knowledge; But he that hateth reproof is brutish."

"The lover of knowledge will take pleasure in the Bible, in sermons, and in conversation with good people."[1] No man is really wise who does not know and love the Bible. "He loveth correction who loveth knowledge, and he hateth instruction who is without reason."[2]


Verse 2

"A good man shall obtain favor of Jehovah; But a man of wicked devices will he condemn."

"He that is good shall draw grace from the Lord; but he that trusteth in his own devices doth wickedly."[3] This is only another way of saying that God will reward righteousness and condemn wickedness. This is the basic assumption of holy religion.


Verse 3

"A man shall not be established by wickedness; But the root of the righteousness shall not be moved."

"A man cannot make himself secure by wickedness, nor can the good man's roots be disturbed."[4] No project, nor any man, can be securely established upon anything other that righteousness. The great merchant princes of America have all been men of integrity. Wickedness does not work, not even in business.


Verse 4

"A worthy woman is the crown of her husband; But she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones."

"A good wife is her husband's pride and joy; but a wife who brings shame on her husband is like a cancer in his bones."[5] The Coverdale Bible translated this place, "A stedfast woman is a crowne unto her hussbonde, but she that behaveth herself unhonestly is a corruption in his bones."[6]


Verse 5

"The thoughts of the righteous are just; But the counsels of the wicked are deceit."

"Honest people will treat you fairly; the wicked only want to deceive you."[7] "Good people are fair and honest in the things they plan to do. But don't trust the things an evil person tells you."[8] Some of the renditions are surprising.


Verse 6

"The words of the wicked are of lying in wait for blood; But the mouth of the upright shall deliver them."

The antithetical contrast here regards the purpose of words: "The words of the wicked are for an evil purpose. Those of the righteous are for the purpose of delivering men."[9]


Verse 7

"The wicked are overthrown, and are not; But the house of the righteous shall stand."

Toy's rendition of this is: "The wicked are overthrown and vanish, but the house of the righteous stands."[10] "We have here another assurance of the instability of evil."[11]


Verse 8

"A man shall be commended according to his wisdom; But he that is of a perverse heart shall be despised."

"A man is praised as he shows insight: a brainless creature is despised."[12] "A man is praised according to his wisdom, but men with warped minds are despised."[13]


Verse 9

"Better is he that is lightly esteemed, and hath a servant, Than he that honoreth himself, and lacketh bread."

"It is better to be an ordinary man working for a living than to play the part of a great man but go hungry."[14] "Better a man of low rank with a servant, than one who makes a show and has to do his own work."[15]


Verse 10

"A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast; But the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel."

A various reading for the second clause is, "The heart of the wicked is cruel," or "The heart of the wicked is without mercy."[16] This proverb reflects the thought of the commandment that, "Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn." (Deuteronomy 25:4).


Verse 11

"He that tilleth his land shall have plenty of bread; But he that followeth after vain persons is void of understanding."

It was a rural society that first received this proverb, a society in which the majority of people tilled the land for a living. The words `his land' indicates ownership or occupancy of the land. "The `vain persons' of the second clause may also be accurately rendered as `worthless pursuits.'"[17] Some make up their own proverbs, as in this: "The man who tills his land will have plenty to eat, but the stupid spends his time chasing rainbows"![18]


Verse 12

"The wicked desireth the net of evil men; But the root of the righteous yieldeth fruit."

"The Hebrew here is obscure and meaningless in context; and the renditions are diverse. The KJV adds `fruit' (retained in the ASV), the RSV follows the LXX, the Douay Version of the Bible (New York: Catholic Book Publishing Company, 1948), adds the word `fortification.'"[19]


Verse 13

"In the transgression of the lips is a snare to the evil man; But the righteous shall come out of trouble."

Christ said, "By thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned" (Matthew 12:37). "A wicked man is trapped by his own words, but an honest man gets himself out of trouble."[20]


Verse 14

"A man shall be satisfied with good by the fruit of his mouth; And the doings of a man's hands shall be rendered unto him."

"A person is rewarded because of the good things that he says; and in the same way the work he does gives him profit."[21] One of the best ways to oil the gears of human relations, to make friends and influence people, is simply that of saying nice, friendly, complimentary and gracious things to the people with whom we are in daily contact.


Verse 15

"The way of a fool is right in his own eyes; But he that is wise hearkeneth unto counsel."

"The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice."[22]


Verse 16

"A fools vexation is presently known; But a prudent man concealeth shame."

"A fool is quick to show annoyance, but a shrewd man retains his retort."[23] "Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath" (James 1:19).


Verse 17

"He that uttereth truth showeth forth righteousness; But a false witness, deceit."

"Most of the proverbs in the rest of this chapter deal with the tongue. There are a hundred verses in this whole book that deal, one way or another, with the use of the tongue."[24] It may be a source of life or death. The sacred writer James devotes the greater part of his James 3 to the truth regarding the tongue. It is like a wild beast that cannot be tamed; it must be bridled and controlled. "The reference here is to the depositions of witnesses before a legal tribunal."[25]


Verse 18

"There is that speaketh rashly like the piercings of a sword; But the tongue of the wise is health."

Toy's rendition is: "Some men's chatter is like sword-thrusts, but the tongue of the wise is healing."[26]


Verse 19

"The lip of truth shall be established forever; But a lying tongue is but for a moment."

"True lips establish testimony; but a hasty witness has an unjust tongue."[27] The permanence of truth as contrasted with error is stated here. "Truth crushed to earth shall rise again, But wounded error writhes in pain"[28]


Verse 20

"Deceit is in the heart of them that are evil; But to the counselors of peace is joy."

"Injustice is the purpose of those who devise evil, but they whose plans promote well-being are just."[29] It is evident that some of the renditions cited here have been achieved, either by emending the text, or by adjusting the clauses to form an antithesis. Others simply make a paraphrase, or even invent their own proverb. "Evil people always want to cause trouble, but people who work for peace will be happy."[30]


Verse 21

"There shall be no mischief happen to the righteous; But the wicked shall be filled with evil."

Toy preserved the form of the antithesis thus: "No mischief befalls the righteous, but the wicked are full of misfortune."[31]


Verse 22

"Lying lips are an abomination to Jehovah; But they that deal truly are his delight."

This verse is quite similar to Proverbs 11:20, and our comments there are applicable here.


Verse 23

"A prudent man concealeth knowledge; But the heart of fools proclaimeth foolishness."

Keil's rendition is: "A prudent man conceals knowledge, and a heart-fool proclaims imbecility."[32] Moffatt has; "No cautious man blurts out all that he knows, but a fool comes out with his folly."[33]


Verse 24

"The hand of the diligent shall bear rule; But the slothful shall be put under taskwork."

The mention of taskwork here reminds us that, "Forced labor was Solomon's own inglorious introduction in Israel."[34] We might add that it was also the sin that divided the kingdom and disrupted the reign of Rehoboam, Solomon's son.


Verse 25

"Heaviness in the heart of a man maketh it stoop; But a good work maketh it glad."

"A word of terror disturbs the heart of a (righteous) man, but a good message will gladden him."[35] In the first clause, the subject is anxiety; and the Savior, "Bids us beware of anxiety, and not to perplex ourselves with solicitude for the future (Matthew 6:34; 1 Peter 5:7)."[36]


Verse 26

"The righteous is a guide to his neighbor; But the way of the wicked causeth them to err."

Here again one's obligation to his neighbor is stressed. The uncertainty of the Hebrew text here prompted this rendition: "A righteous man turns away from evil, but the way of the wicked leads them astray."[37]


Verse 27

"The slothful man roasteth not that which he took in hunting; But the precious substance of men is to the diligent."

"The slothful man will not catch his prey, but the diligent man will get precious wealth."[38] This, of course, is another `guess,' based upon the uncertainty of the Hebrew text.


Verse 28

"In the way of righteousness is life; And in the pathway thereof, there is no death."

How could a proverb like this need any comment or explanation whatever?

 


Copyright Statement
James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Bibliography Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Proverbs 12:4". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/proverbs-12.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

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