1Wisdom builds her house,
but Folly tears hers down with her own hands.#The relationship between Wisdom, personified as a woman, and building a house is a constant theme. As elsewhere, the book here warns against the wrong woman and praises the right woman.
2Those who walk uprightly fear the Lord,
but those who are devious in their ways spurn him.
3In the mouth of the fool is a rod for pride,
but the lips of the wise preserve them.
4Where there are no oxen, the crib is clean;
but abundant crops come through the strength of the bull.#If one has no animals, one does not have the burden of keeping the crib full, but without them one will have no crops to fill the barn. Colon B reverses the sense of colon A and also reverses the consonants of bar (“clean”) to rab (“abundant”).
5A trustworthy witness does not lie,
but one who spouts lies makes a lying witness.#On discerning the truthfulness of witnesses; see 12:17. #Prv 12:17.
6The scoffer seeks wisdom in vain,
but knowledge is easy for the intelligent.
7Go from the face of the fool;
you get no knowledge from such lips.
8The wisdom of the shrewd enlightens their way,
but the folly of fools is deceit.#Wisdom enables the shrewd to know their path is right but folly leads fools on the wrong path (“deceit”), which calls down retribution.
9The wicked scorn a guilt offering,
but the upright find acceptance.
10The heart knows its own bitterness,
and its joy no stranger shares.#The heart in Proverbs is where a person’s sense impressions are stored and reflected upon. It is thus one’s most personal and individual part. One’s sorrows and joys (= the full range of emotions) cannot be shared fully with another. Verse 13 expresses the same individuality of the human person.
11The house of the wicked will be destroyed,
but the tent of the upright will flourish.#The traditional fixed pair “house” and “tent” is used to express the paradox that a house can be less secure than a tent if there is no justice. #Prv 3:33; 12:7; 15:25.
12Sometimes a way seems right,
but the end of it leads to death!#Prv 16:25.
13Even in laughter the heart may be sad,
and the end of joy may be sorrow.
14From their own ways turncoats are sated,
from their own actions, the loyal.
15The naive believe everything,
but the shrewd watch their steps.#The naive gullibly rely on others’ words whereas the shrewd watch their own steps.
16The wise person is cautious and turns from evil;
the fool is reckless and gets embroiled.
17The quick-tempered make fools of themselves,
and schemers are hated.
18The simple have folly as an adornment,
but the shrewd wear knowledge as a crown.#The inner quality of a person, simple or wise, will eventually be revealed.
19The malicious bow down before the good,
and the wicked, at the gates of the just.
20Even by their neighbors the poor are despised,
but a rich person’s friends are many.#Prv 19:4, 7; Sir 6:8, 12.
21Whoever despises the hungry comes up short,
but happy the one who is kind to the poor!#The paradox is that anyone who spurns the hungry will lack something, but anyone who shows mercy (presumably by giving to the poor) will gain prosperity.
22Do not those who plan evil go astray?
But those who plan good win steadfast loyalty.
23In all labor there is profit,
but mere talk tends only to loss.
24The crown of the wise is wealth;
the diadem of fools is folly.
25The truthful witness saves lives,
but whoever utters lies is a betrayer.
26The fear of the Lord is a strong defense,
a refuge even for one’s children.
27The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life,
turning one from the snares of death.
28A multitude of subjects is the glory of the king;
but if his people are few, a prince is ruined.
29Long-suffering results in great wisdom;
a short temper raises folly high.#A series of puns on short and long; lit., “long of nostrils (idiom for “patient”), large in wisdom, / short in breath (idiom for “impatient”), makes folly tall.” #Prv 16:32; 19:11; Jas 1:19.
30A tranquil mind gives life to the body,
but jealousy rots the bones.
31Those who oppress the poor revile their Maker,
but those who are kind to the needy honor him.#Prv 17:5.
32The wicked are overthrown by their wickedness,
but the just find a refuge in their integrity.
33Wisdom can remain silent in the discerning heart,
but among fools she must make herself known.#Wisdom can remain silent in a wise person as a welcome friend. But it must speak out among fools, for the dissonance is so strong. #Prv 1:22; 8:1.
34Justice exalts a nation,
but sin is a people’s disgrace.#The rare noun “disgrace” occurs elsewhere only in Lv 20:17. In measuring the greatness of a nation, one is tempted to consider territory, wealth, history, but the most important criterion is its relationship to God (“justice”).
35The king favors the skillful servant,
but the shameless one incurs his wrath.