1Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,
but whoever hates reproof is stupid.#Discipline in Proverbs is both doctrine and training. The path to wisdom includes obedience to teachers and parents, acceptance of the community’s traditions. #a. [12:1] Prv 15:5, 10; Sir 21:6.
2A good person wins favor from the Lord,
but the schemer he condemns.#The antithesis is between the good person who, by reason of that goodness, already has divine acceptance, and the wicked person who, despite great effort, gains only condemnation.
3No one is made secure by wickedness,
but the root of the just will never be disturbed.#Human beings are described as “made secure” in Jb 21:8; Ps 101:7; 102:29. “Root” in the context means enduring to succeeding generations, as in Mal 3:19 and Jb 8:17.
4A woman of worth is the crown of her husband,#b. [12:4] Prv 31:10; Sir 21:1, 16.
but a disgraceful one is like rot in his bones.#In Proverbs a crown is the result and sign of wise conduct. A good wife is a public sign of the husband’s shrewd judgment and divine blessing (crown), whereas a bad wife brings him inner pain (rot in the bones).
5The plans of the just are right;
the designs of the wicked are deceit.#The opposite of “just” is not injustice but “deceit.” The wicked will be deceived in their plans in the sense that their planning will not succeed.
6The words of the wicked are a deadly ambush,
but the speech of the upright saves them.#Words are a favorite theme of Proverbs. The words of the wicked effect harm to others whereas the words of the righteous protect themselves.
7Overthrow the wicked and they are no more,
but the house of the just stands firm.
8For their good sense people are praised,
but the perverse of heart are despised.#The heart, the seat of intelligence, will eventually be revealed in the actions that people do, either for praise or for blame.
9Better to be slighted and have a servant
than put on airs and lack bread.#c. [12:9] Sir 10:26.
10The just take care of their livestock,
but the compassion of the wicked is cruel.#The righteous are sympathetically aware of the needs of their livestock and prosper from their herd’s good health. The wicked will pay the price for their self-centeredness and cruelty.
11Those who till their own land have food in plenty,
but those who engage in idle pursuits lack sense.#The second line clarifies the first: idleness will give one plenty of nothing. “Lacking sense” is a common phrase for fools. #d. [12:11] Prv 28:19; Sir 20:27.
12A wicked person desires the catch of evil people,
but the root of the righteous will bear fruit.#A difficult, possibly corrupt saying, but there is no good alternative to the Hebrew text. The wicked desire what the malevolent have captured or killed, but their actions will go for naught because they invite punishment. The righteous, on the other hand, will bear fruit.
13By the sin of their lips the wicked are ensnared,
but the just escape from a tight spot.
14From the fruit of their mouths people have their fill of good,#e. [12:14] Prv 13:2; 18:20.
and the works of their hands come back upon them.#The saying contrasts words and deeds. “Fruit” here is not what one normally eats, as in 1:31; 8:19; 31:16, 31, but the consequences of one’s actions. In the second line the things that issue from one’s hands (one’s deeds) come back to one in recompense or punishment. Prv 13:2a and 18:20 are variants. Cf. Mt 7:17; Gal 6:8.
15The way of fools is right in their own eyes,
but those who listen to advice are the wise.
16Fools immediately show their anger,
but the shrewd conceal contempt.
17Whoever speaks honestly testifies truly,
but the deceitful make lying witnesses.#What is the rule of thumb for judging legal testimony? Look to the ordinary conduct and daily speech of a witness. #f. [12:17] Prv 14:5.
18The babble of some people is like sword thrusts,
but the tongue of the wise is healing.
19Truthful lips endure forever,
the lying tongue, for only a moment.#The saying has a double meaning: lies are quickly found out whereas truthful statements endure; truth-tellers, being favored by God, live long lives, whereas liars invite punishment.
20Deceit is in the heart of those who plot evil,
but those who counsel peace have joy.
21No harm befalls the just,
but the wicked are overwhelmed with misfortune.
22Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord,#g. [12:22] Prv 6:17.
but those who are truthful, his delight.
23The shrewd conceal knowledge,
but the hearts of fools proclaim folly.#“Knowledge” here is “what one knows, has in one’s heart,” not knowledge in general. Fools reveal all they have stored in their heart and it naturally turns out to be folly. Revealing and concealing are constant themes in Proverbs.
24The diligent hand will govern,
but sloth makes for forced labor.#h. [12:24] Prv 10:4; 13:4.
25Worry weighs down the heart,
but a kind word gives it joy.#i. [12:25] Prv 15:13; 17:22.
26The just act as guides to their neighbors,
but the way of the wicked leads them astray.
27Sloth does not catch its prey,
but the wealth of the diligent is splendid.
28In the path of justice is life,
but the way of abomination leads to death.