1A wise son loves correction,
but the scoffer heeds no rebuke.#Another in the series on the household, this one on the relation of parents and children. See under 10:1. The scoffer in Proverbs condemns discipline and thus can never become wise. Wise adult children advertise to the community what they received from their parents, for children become wise through a dialectical process involving the parents. A foolish adult child witnesses to foolish parents.
2From the fruit of the mouth one enjoys good things,#Prv 12:14; 18:20.
but from the throat of the treacherous comes violence.#One’s mouth normally eats food from outside, but in the moral life, things are reversed: one eats from the fruit of one’s mouth, i.e., one experiences the consequences of one’s own actions. Since the mouth of the treacherous is filled with violence, one must assume that they will some day endure violence.
3Those who guard their mouths preserve themselves;#Preserve themselves: in Hebrew, literally to preserve the throat area, the moist breathing center of one’s body, thus “life,” “soul,” or “self.” There is wordplay: if you guard your mouth (= words) you guard your “soul.” Fools, on the other hand, do not guard but open their lips and disaster strikes. A near duplicate is 21:23.
those who open wide their lips bring ruin.#Prv 18:7; 21:23.
4The appetite of the sluggard craves but has nothing,
but the appetite of the diligent is amply satisfied.
5The just hate deceitful words,
but the wicked are odious and disgraceful.
6Justice guards one who walks honestly,
but sin leads the wicked astray.#Prv 11:3, 5–6.
7One acts rich but has nothing;
another acts poor but has great wealth.#Appearances can be deceiving; possessions do not always reveal the true state of a person.
8People’s riches serve as ransom for their lives,
but the poor do not even hear a threat.#Related to v. 7. Possessions enable the wealthy to pay ransom but the poor are “protected” by lack of possessions: they never hear the threat of the pursuer. Cf. the use of the word “threat” in Is 30:17.
9The light of the just gives joy,
but the lamp#Light
lamp: symbols of life and prosperity; cf. 4:18–19. of the wicked goes out.#Prv 24:20.
10The stupid sow discord by their insolence,
but wisdom is with those who take counsel.
11Wealth won quickly dwindles away,
but gathered little by little, it grows.#Prv 28:20, 22.
12Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
but a wish fulfilled is a tree of life.#“Tree of life” occurs in Gn 2–3, Prv 3:18; 11:30; 13:12; 15:4, and Rev 2:7; 22:2, 14, 19. It provides food and healing.
13Whoever despises the word must pay for it,#Must pay for it: lit., “is pledge to it,” i.e., just as one who has pledged or provided surety for another’s loan is obligated to that pledge, so one is not free of a command until one performs it.
but whoever reveres the command will be rewarded.
14The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life,
turning one from the snares of death.
15Good sense brings favor,
but the way of the faithless is their ruin.#As the behavior of the wise wins them favor that increases their prosperity, like Abigail with David in 1 Sm 25, so the way (= conduct) of the faithless ruins their lives.
16The shrewd always act prudently
but the foolish parade folly.#Like 12:23 and 15:2, 3, the saying is about revealing and concealing. The wise reveal their wisdom in their actions whereas fools “parade,” spread out their folly for all to see. The verb is used of vendors spreading their wares and of birds spreading their wings.
17A wicked messenger brings on disaster,
but a trustworthy envoy is a healing remedy.
18Poverty and shame befall those who let go of discipline,
but those who hold on to reproof receive honor.#The saying plays on letting go and holding on. Wisdom consists in not rejecting discipline and being open to the comments of others, even if they are reproving comments.
19Desire fulfilled delights the soul,
but turning from evil is an abomination to fools.
20Walk with the wise and you become wise,
but the companion of fools fares badly.#Sir 6:34; 8:8, 17.
21Misfortune pursues sinners,
but the just shall be recompensed with good.
22The good leave an inheritance to their children’s children,
but the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the just.
23The tillage of the poor yields abundant food,
but possessions are swept away for lack of justice.#An observation on the poor. The lands of the poor are as fertile as anyone’s, for nature does not discriminate against them. Their problem is lack of justice, which puts their harvest at risk from unscrupulous human beings.
24Whoever spares the rod hates the child,
but whoever loves will apply discipline.#Prv 19:18; 22:15; 23:13–14; 29:15; Sir 30:1, 8–13.
25When the just eat, their hunger is appeased;
but the belly of the wicked suffers want.