1Better to be poor and walk in integrity
than rich and crooked in one’s ways.#a. [19:1] Prv 28:6.
2Desire without knowledge is not good;
and whoever acts hastily, blunders.#When not guided by wisdom, appetite—or desire—is not good. “Running feet” (so the Hebrew) miss the mark, i.e., do not reach their destination.
3Their own folly leads people astray;
in their hearts they rage against the Lord.#One’s own folly destroys one’s life. It is an indication of that folly that one blames God rather than oneself.
4Wealth adds many friends,
but the poor are left friendless.#b. [19:4] Prv 14:20; Sir 13:20–23.
5The false witness will not go unpunished,
and whoever utters lies will not escape.#The punishment fits the crime: those who abuse the legal system will be punished by the same system. They will not be acquitted. #c. [19:5] Dt 19:16–20; Dn 13:61.
6Many curry favor with a noble;
everybody is a friend of a gift giver.
7All the kin of the poor despise them;
how much more do their friends shun them!#Closely related to vv. 4 and 6. An observation, not without sympathy, on the social isolation of poor people.
8Those who gain sense truly love themselves;
those who preserve understanding will find success.#Wisdom benefits the one who practices it.
9The false witness will not go unpunished,
and whoever utters lies will perish.
10Luxury is not befitting a fool;
much less should a slave rule over princes.
11It is good sense to be slow to anger,
and an honor to overlook an offense.#The paradox is that one obtains one thing by giving up another.
12The king’s wrath is like the roar of a lion,
but his favor, like dew on the grass.#An observation on the exercise of royal power. Both images suggest royal attitudes are beyond human control. Colon A is a variant of 20:2a and colon B of 16:15b. #d. [19:12] Prv 20:2.
13The foolish son is ruin to his father,#e. [19:13] Prv 10:1; 17:25.
and a quarrelsome wife is water constantly dripping.#One of many sayings about domestic happiness. The perspective is male; the two greatest pains to a father is a malicious son and an unsuitable wife. The immediately following saying is on the noble wife, perhaps to make a positive statement about women.
14Home and possessions are an inheritance from parents,
but a prudent wife is from the Lord.#f. [19:14] Prv 18:22.
15Laziness brings on deep sleep,
and the sluggard goes hungry.#g. [19:15] Prv 6:9–10.
16Those who keep commands keep their lives,
but those who despise these ways will die.#h. [19:16] Prv 13:13; 16:17.
17Whoever cares for the poor lends to the Lord,#i. [19:17] Prv 14:21; 22:9; 28:27.
who will pay back the sum in full.
18Discipline your son, for there is hope;
but do not be intent on his death.#The pain of disciplining the young cannot be compared with the danger no discipline may bring. The chief reason for disciplining the young is their capacity to change; excluded thereby are revenge and punishment. #j. [19:18] Prv 13:24; 23:13–14.
19A wrathful person bears the penalty;
after one rescue, you will have it to do again.
20Listen to counsel and receive instruction,
that you may eventually become wise.
21Many are the plans of the human heart,
but it is the decision of the Lord that endures.#k. [19:21] Prv 16:9.
22What is desired of a person is fidelity;
rather be poor than a liar.#The proverb has been read in two ways: (1) “Desire (greed) is a shame to a person,” which assumes the rare Hebrew word for “shame” is being used; (2) “What is desired in a person is fidelity.” The second interpretation is preferable. The context may be the court: better to forego money (a bribe) than perjure oneself.
23The fear of the Lord leads to life;
one eats and sleeps free from any harm.
24The sluggard buries a hand in the dish;
not even lifting it to the mouth.#l. [19:24] Prv 26:15.
25Beat a scoffer and the naive learn a lesson;
rebuke the intelligent and they gain knowledge.#m. [19:25] Prv 17:10; 21:11.
26Whoever mistreats a father or drives away a mother,
is a shameless and disgraceful child.#Children who disgrace the family equivalently plunder their father’s wealth and expel their mother from the home. #n. [19:26] Sir 3:16.
27My son, stop attending to correction;
start straying from words of knowledge.#The meaning was disputed even in antiquity. The interpretation that most respects the syntax is to take it as ironic advice as in 22:6: to stop (listening) is to go (wandering).
28An unprincipled witness scoffs at justice,
and the mouth of the wicked pours out iniquity.
29Rods are prepared for scoffers,
and blows for the backs of fools.#o. [19:29] Prv 26:3.