1Those stiff-necked in the face of reproof
in an instant will be shattered beyond cure.#The idiom “to stiffen one’s neck” occurs in a context of not heeding a message in Dt 10:16 and 2 Kgs 17:14. To stiffen one’s neck in this sense risks having it broken, as in 1 Sm 4:18.
2When the just flourish, the people rejoice;
but when the wicked rule, the people groan.#Popular response to a just or unjust ruler is expressed in sound—shouts of joy or groans of anguish. “Rejoice” can mean to express one’s joy, i.e., joyous shouts. #a. [29:2] Prv 11:10; 28:12, 28.
3Whoever loves wisdom gives joy to his father,
but whoever consorts with harlots squanders his wealth.
4By justice a king builds up the land;
but one who raises taxes tears it down.#In Hebrew as in English high and low are metaphors for prosperity and depression. A king who is just “causes the land to stand up,” i.e., to be prosperous, and one who makes taxes high brings a country low.
5Those who speak flattery to their neighbor
cast a net at their feet.#When one addresses deceptive words to someone’s face, one equivalently throws a net at their feet to snare them.
6The sin of the wicked is a trap,
but the just run along joyfully.#b. [29:6] Prv 12:13.
7The just care for the cause of the poor;
the wicked do not understand such care.#As in 12:10 (on care for animals), the righteous care for those who are without a voice and often treated like animals. Colon B has a double meaning: the wicked have no such knowledge (care for the poor) and they have no knowledge (wisdom), for they are fools.
8Scoffers enflame the city,
but the wise calm the fury.#c. [29:8] Prv 11:11.
9If a wise person disputes with a fool,
there is railing and ridicule but no resolution.
10The bloodthirsty hate the blameless,
but the upright seek his life.#An enigmatic saying in that “seek one’s life” is a common idiom for killing. The saying probably plays on the idiom, interpreting “to seek the life of another” not as killing but as caring for another (as in 11:30).
11Fools give vent to all their anger;
but the wise, biding their time, control it.#d. [29:11] Prv 12:16; 25:28; Sir 21:26.
12If rulers listen to lying words,
their servants all become wicked.
13The poor and the oppressor meet:#e. [29:13] Prv 22:2.
the Lord gives light to the eyes of both.
14If a king is honestly for the rights of the poor,
his throne stands firm forever.#f. [29:14] Prv 16:12; 20:28; 25:5.
15The rod of correction gives wisdom,
but uncontrolled youths disgrace their mothers.#g. [29:15] Prv 13:24; 22:15; 23:13–14; Sir 22:6; 30:1.
16When the wicked increase, crime increases;
but the just will behold their downfall.#When the wicked grow numerous they sow the seeds of their own destruction, for there is a corresponding increase in offenses calling down divine retribution.
17Discipline your children, and they will bring you comfort,
and give delight to your soul.
18Without a vision the people lose restraint;
but happy is the one who follows instruction.#This much-cited proverb has been interpreted in several different ways. “Vision” and “instruction” mean authoritative guidance for the community. People are demoralized without credible leadership, but any individual heeding traditional instruction can still find happiness. As in 15:15 wisdom enables an individual to surmount days of trouble.
19Not by words alone can servants be trained;#h. [29:19] Sir 33:25–30.
for they understand but do not respond.#The give and take of reproving is not possible for servants or slaves. Ancient custom dictated silent acquiescence for them. There is no open and free dialogue, which is part of ancient discipline.
20Do you see someone hasty in speech?#i. [29:20] Sir 9:18; Prv 26:12.
There is more hope for a fool!
21If servants are pampered from childhood
they will turn out to be stubborn.
22The ill-tempered stir up strife,
and the hotheaded cause many sins.#j. [29:22] Prv 15:18; 22:24.
23Haughtiness brings humiliation,
but the humble of spirit acquire honor.#One’s prideful height brings one down and one’s lowly state brings glory. #k. [29:23] Prv 11:2; 16:18; 18:12.
24Partners of a thief hate themselves;#Hate themselves: because they not only incur guilt as accomplices but, by their silence, bring down on themselves the curse invoked on the unknown guilty partner. Such a case is envisioned in Lv 5:1. After a theft, a public proclamation was made, enforced by a curse. No one in a town or city could avoid hearing it. The curse hung over the accomplice. By doing nothing, neither directly stealing nor confessing, accomplices put themselves in serious danger.
they hear the imprecation but do not testify.
25Fear of others becomes a snare,
but the one who trusts in the Lord is safe.
26Many curry favor with a ruler,
but it is from the Lord that one receives justice.
27An abomination to the just, the evildoer;
an abomination to the wicked, one whose way is straight.