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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Proverbs 12

 

 

Verse 1

Whoso loveth instruction loveth knowledge: but he that hateth reproof is brutish.

Whoso loveth instruction (Hebrew, disciplinary instruction) loveth knowledge: but he that hateth reproof is brutish - (Proverbs 3:11-12; Hebrews 12:6.) The believer 'loveth disciplinary chastening,' not for its own sake, but for the sake of that which is its effect-namely, our being made partaken of God's holiness: just as we love the physician who lances a festering sore, or the bitter medicine which heals us (Hebrews 12:10-11). To hate "reproof," which is designed for our good (Psalms 141:5 ), is to be like the "brute," which looks not beyond the pain or the pleasure of the present moment, and which kicks or bites the person who offers healing though unpalatable drugs.


Verse 2

A good man obtaineth favour of the LORD: but a man of wicked devices will he condemn.

A good man obtaineth favour of the Lord - literally, 'draws forth good will.' On the verb cf. note, Proverbs 3:13.

But a man of wicked devices will he condemn. Not only a man of wicked deeds and words, but also a man of wicked thoughts.


Verse 3

A man shall not be established by wickedness: but the root of the righteous shall not be moved.

A man shall not be established by wickedness. Though for a time here on earth he may, by fraud or by force, obtain and retain prosperity, yet it shall not be for long. Not only shall he "not be established," but he shall be utterly "rooted" out: as the antithesis to the parallel clause implies.

But the root of the righteous shall not be moved - by any shock whatever (Proverbs 10:25); as "trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord" (Isaiah 61:3). They are "rooted" in the Lord by faith and love (Isaiah 27:6; Jeremiah 17:8; Ephesians 3:17; Colossians 2:7 ).


Verse 4

A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones.

A virtuous (literally, strenuous [ chayil (H2428)], as Ruth is called, Ruth 3:11) woman is a crown to her husband - "a crown" i:e., his chief ornament. "Her husband" - literally, her lord (cf. Proverbs 31:10; Proverbs 31:23; 1 Corinthians 11:7).

But she that maketh ashamed - by want of strenuousness, virtue, and prudence.

Is as rottenness in his bones - an incurable evil, affecting the inmost and most vital powers of mind and body; a plague in the privacy of home, as well as in public life. A disease in the bones is hard to cure.


Verse 5

The thoughts of the righteous are right: but the counsels of the wicked are deceit.

The thoughts of the righteous (are) right (Hebrew, judgment; i:e., consonant to justice): (but) the counsels of the wicked (are) deceit. "The counsels," or 'the astute plans' (Hebrew, tach


Verse 6

The words of the wicked are to lie in wait for blood: but the mouth of the upright shall deliver them.

The words of the wicked are to lie in wait for blood - (Proverbs 1:11; Proverbs 1:18.)

But the mouth of the upright shall deliver them - namely, the upright, from the lying in wait of the wicked (Proverbs 11:9). Or, as suits the antithesis, and the expression "the mouth," "the upright," by seasonable counsel of the mouth to those for whom "the wicked" with their "words lie in wait," shall deliver them from the snare. Such counsel the wise Solomon gives, and through heeding it many are delivered (Proverbs 1:10; Proverbs 1:15). So Mercer, Bayne, etc. However, "the mouth of the upright" may be their wise replies to the wicked, who by "words" would ensnare them. Compare Jesus' replies to those who thought to catch Him in His words (Luke 20:1-41; cf. Luke 11:53-54).


Verse 7

The wicked are overthrown, and are not: but the house of the righteous shall stand.

The wicked are overthrown (Hebrew, Infinitive for the Indicative present), and are not - (Proverbs 10:25.)

But the house of the righteous shall stand. Even here on earth a blessing attends the family or "house" of the righteous (cf. 2 Samuel 7:11; Exodus 1:21). Evil overtakes the wicked or his "house" soon or late.


Verse 8

A man shall be commended according to his wisdom: but he that is of a perverse heart shall be despised.

A man shall be commended according to (literally, according to the mouth of: a Hebrew idiom for in proportion to) his wisdom. God and His faithful people judge a man not according to the apparent success of an undertaking, but according to its spiritual "wisdom." Worldly men praise or condemn only according to the apparent success or failure.

But he that is of a perverse heart shall be despised - by God; and at last, man, when he is found out in his true character.


Verse 9

He that is despised, and hath a servant, is better than he that honoureth himself, and lacketh bread.

(He that is) despised, and hath a servant, is better than he that honoureth himself, and lacketh bread. He who is low in pretensions, through lowliness of disposition, and through avoiding ostentatious display, and who at the same time "hath a servant," and therefore hath some means of livelihood, is preferable to him who boasts himself, making a great display, while all the while not having the necessaries of life, through his wasting his money on pomp. The Hebrew for "despised" ( niqleh (Hebrew #7034)) is distinct from that in Proverbs 12:8 ( buwz (Hebrew #937)): here the reference is to low estimation not through faultiness but from absence of worldly display: as David calls himself (1 Samuel 18:23) "a poor man, and lightly esteemed" (the same Hebrew as here): in Proverbs 12:8 the reference is to contempt well grounded, because of perversity.


Verse 10

A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.

A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast. God commands tender care even for brutes (Deuteronomy 25:4; Leviticus 22:28). We are to give rest, refreshment, and medicine to the beast, according as it requires it; and are not to be cruel to it, much less to man.

But the tender mercies (literally, bowels) of the wicked are cruel - not only, to 'beasts,' but, still worse, to men. "Cruel" is singular; implying that each one of their "tender mercies" is cruel. Not only their cruelties, but their very mercies are cruel: as Pharaoh when he offered to let the people go, but without their herds; and the Jewish council and Gamaliel, when they ordered the apostles only to be "beaten" (Acts 5:40), though innocent; and as those who give alms to the poor with contumely.


Verse 11

He that tilleth his land shall be satisfied with bread: but he that followeth vain persons is void of understanding.

He that tilleth his land shall be satisfied with bread. The occupation must be an honest one, such as agriculture, and one must labour diligently at it. One must not put his sickle into his neighbour's harvest.

But he that followeth vain persons is void of understanding. "Vain persons," i:e., idlers (2 Samuel 6:20): such as love vanity, shrink from honest labour, delight in sleep, indolence, play, and idle talk. We must withdraw from the company of such (2 Thessalonians 3:6; 2 Thessalonians 3:11-12). Being "void of understanding," they, as a necessary consequence, are void of "bread," as contrasted with "He that tilleth his land," who therefore "shall be satisfied with bread."


Verse 12

The wicked desireth the net of evil men: but the root of the righteous yieldeth fruit. The wicked desireth the net of evil (men): but the root of the righteous yieldeth (fruit). The wicked man (Hebrew, raashaa` (Hebrew #7563), the restlessly wicked, the godless) desireth to have the net of evil men (rang, the evil, in general); namely, to have the cunning whereby they ensnare victims; or rather, to take in their net evil men: the wicked seek to take advantage of one another: so Gesenius. The godless are not satisfied with the abundance that they have, but thirst for more. The Hebrew for "net" [ m


Verse 13

The wicked is snared by the transgression of his lips: but the just shall come out of trouble.

The wicked is snared by the transgression of (his) lips. The wicked thought to injure others by his transgression of God's law with his lips-namely, by false witness, calumnis, and lies; but it is ordered by God's retributive justice that it is himself who is snared in ruin thereby.

But the just shall come out of trouble - by avoiding the "transgression of his lips;" or if he has been betrayed into it by his own infirmity, or shall have been for a time snared by the lips of the transgressor, he "shall come out of trouble" through the grace of God.


Verse 14

A man shall be satisfied with good by the fruit of his mouth: and the recompence of a man's hands shall be rendered unto him.

A man shall be satisfied with good by the fruit of his mouth - (cf. Proverbs 12:12, end.) The good man himself derives the most ample fruit from the good and kindly and pious words of his own mouth. Not merely the taught are instructed, but the teacher is benefited by his own profitable discourse.

And the recompence of a man's hands shall be rendered unto him. If a man's good words bring, by the grace of God, their own reward to the speaker, much more the good works of "a man's hands" shall bring to him their own recompence. He shall not be "satisfied with good" who destroys by the deeds of his "hands" what he teaches with the words of "his mouth."


Verse 15

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes - (Proverbs 3:7; Job 32:1; Isaiah 5:21; Luke 18:11.) But he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise. None is so wise as not to need good counsel, especially in the concerns of the soul We have one Great "Counsellor." Messiah, who is made unto us "wisdom" (Isaiah 9:6; 1 Corinthians 1:30). Let us "hearken unto" Him (Proverbs 1:33).


Verse 16

A fool's wrath is presently known: but a prudent man covereth shame.

A fool's wrath is presently (Hebrew, in that very day; Hosea 4:5) known: but a prudent man covereth shame - namely, the shame or insult put upon him by others. "Covereth," with the mantle of patience and charity, instead of exasperating himself, and losing self-control like "a fool," by dwelling on the indignity of the word or deed, and the worthlessness of the injurer. He did not publish the act, to the discredit of the other, but consults for the reputation of the other lest he should add sin to the injury suffered.


Verse 17

He that speaketh truth sheweth forth righteousness: but a false witness deceit.

(He that) speaketh (literally, breatheth; Hebrew, yaphiach) truth showeth forth righteousness: but a false witness deceit. He who, with full breath, speaketh out the whole truth without reserve, and without injustice, and this habitually-whose very breath is truth-showeth forth what is righteous, doing injustice to none; like Messiah, "the Faithful and True Witness" (Isaiah 55:4; Revelation 3:14). But a false witness sets forth what does injustice to others by "deceit."


Verse 18

There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health.

There is that speaketh [Hebrew, babbleth, bowTeh (H981)] like the piercings of a sword (Psalms 57:4) but the tongue of the wise is health. Compare with the first clause the last clause of Proverbs 12:17. The tongue of the godly wise not only does not wound, but it heals the wounds inflicted by the ungodly, by excusing and defending the innocent, and by making up quarrels. It is not enoch not to bring forth bad fruit; we must bring forth good fruit.


Verse 19

The lip of truth shall be established for ever: but a lying tongue is but for a moment.

The lip of truth shall be established forever. He whose lips speak truth shall be established forever in the favour of God and of man.

But a lying tongue is but for a moment - literally, 'is while I give a wink:' note, Jeremiah 49:19. Liars need to have good memories. A lying tongue soon betrays itself. 'No lie reaches old age,' says Sophocles. A lie is soon or late discovered, and truth emerges.


Verse 20

Deceit is in the heart of them that imagine evil: but to the counsellors of peace is joy.

Deceit is in the heart of them that imagine evil. "Deceit," producing sorrow, is in the heart of them that devise "evil," and therefore strife (the opposite of "peace"). The opposite follows:

But to the counselors of peace is joy. But to the counselors of good (the opposite of "evil") and "peace," is candour (the opposite of "deceit"), and therefore "joy."


Verse 21

There shall no evil happen to the just: but the wicked shall be filled with mischief. There shall no evil happen to the just: but the wicked shall be filled with mischief. "No evil" (literally, iniquity; Hebrew, aven) whether of guilt or of its punishment, 'shall happen,' so as lastingly to hurt "the just" (Psalms 91:10). "But the wicked shall be filled (cf. Proverbs 1:31) with" the 'iniquity' and the punishment of their own "mischief." One clause is to be supplied from the other.


Verse 22

Lying lips are abomination to the LORD: but they that deal truly are his delight.

Lying lips are abomination to the Lord: but they that deal truly are his delight. Not merely they that speak truly, but "they that deal truly" are God's "delight." Deeds of true dealing must confirm words of fair sneaking.


Verse 23

A prudent man concealeth knowledge: but the heart of fools proclaimeth foolishness.

A prudent man concealeth knowledge - not that he grudges to impart his knowledge to others, but he does not obtrude it, nor make a display of it, nor babble out all he knows, in order that he maybe counted wise. But he brings it forth in the fitting time and place.

But the heart of fools proclaimeth foolishness. Trying to make a display of knowledge, it only betrays its foolishness. Fools, wise in their own esteem, babble out everything at random; not wisdom, which they have not, but foolishness, which they have. Proclaiming foolishness is attributed to the fool's heart, not to his mouth; for a fool's heart is in his mouth. He has no sense within. On the contrary, "The month of the wise is in their heart" (Sirach 21:26).


Verse 24

The hand of the diligent shall bear rule: but the slothful shall be under tribute.

The hand of the diligent shall bear rule: but the slothful shall be under tribute. Diligence shall secure the rule over others; but slothfulness (literally, fraud; cf. Jeremiah 48:10, margin. For they who are slothful often use fraud to save themselves the trouble of labour) brings one under the rule of others.


Verse 25

Heaviness in the heart of man maketh it stoop: but a good word maketh it glad.

Heaviness in the heart of man maketh it stoop (the it is feminine, though heart is masculine): but a good word maketh it glad. Messiah especially spake such 'good words' (Isaiah 50:4; Isaiah 61:1-3 : so also His servants, 2 Corinthians 1:4).


Verse 26

The righteous is more excellent than his neighbour: but the way of the wicked seduceth them.

The righteous is more excellent [Hebrew, more richly abundant; yaateer (H8446): akin to the Greek outhar] than his neighbour - though the world, judging by outward circumstances thinks differently. Even the righteous themselves are tempted by affliction at times to be cast down as if there were no gain in piety, and as if the ungodly fared better (Psalms 73:1-28; Malachi 3:14).

But the way of the wicked seduceth them. If, then "the righteous be more excellent titan his neighbour," how is it that men do not follow their way? Because "the way of the wicked," which is apparently more excellent, or abundant in temporal advantages, seduceth them (Kimchi in Mercer). It "seduceth" with false hopes, doomed to end in the destruction of those so seduced. The way of the righteous, on the contrary, however differently it may be regarded now, is really more excellent, and at last will be seen by all to be so.


Verse 27

The slothful man roasteth not that which he took in hunting: but the substance of a diligent man is precious.

The slothful (man) roasteth not that which he took in hunting. The Hebrew for "roasteth" [ chaarak (Hebrew #2760)] does not occur in this sense elsewhere. In the Chaldee, in which Daniel 3:27 is written, it is found in this sense. The slothful man cloth not take in hunting anything to roast; for hunting would require labour, which he dislikes. Jacob acted the part of such a slothful man, who is also a deceitful man (Proverbs 12:24, note), when he roasted for his father that which he had not taken in hunting, and deceived him. Fuller ('Miscellanea') takes the Hebrew from the kindred word karakim, 'lattice,' or enclosure-work within which the wild beasts were caught (cf. the Hebrew, Song of Solomon 2:9). The Septuagint confirm this [ouk epiteuxetai theeran], 'Shall not obtain prey in hunting.' So the Vulgate Chaldaic, Syriac, Arabic. Ewald, from the Arabic, supports the English version.

But the substance of a diligent man (is) precious - `but precious substance (will be the portion) of a diligent man.' Like a successful hunter by his "diligent" labour ensures "precious substance," which he both takes and permanently enjoys. DeDieu takes the words in their Hebrew order, thus-`But the substance of a precious man is gold' (as the Hebrew, chaaruwts (Hebrew #2742), English version, "diligent," may also mean). I prefer the English version.


Verse 28

In the way of righteousness is life; and in the pathway thereof there is no death.

In the way of righteousness (is) life; and (in) the pathway (thereof there is) no death. "The pathway:" two Hebrew nouns, as in the English version, derek (Hebrew #1870) n

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Proverbs 12:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/proverbs-12.html. 1871-8.

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