Proverbs 10 Commentary

10:1-22:16      PROVERBS OF SOLOMON

The proverbs in this section are usually written in a simple two-line form, each proverb usually being equal to one verse in our Bible. Although the editor of the book has in parts brought together proverbs dealing with a similar subject or principle, each proverb must be considered by itself.

Clearly there is not enough space in a commentary of this size to explain each separate proverb.

Readers will gain most benefit from Proverbs by reading it over a period (for example, a chapter at a time, with an interval between chapters), pausing to consider each proverb and how it applies to daily life.

These proverbs are practical examples of how the wisdom and folly dealt with in Chapters 1-9 may be applied to everyday human experience.

Wisdom in practice (10:1-32)

The selection begins with proverbs that comment on some themes of the previous section – wisdom and folly, righteousness and wickedness, laziness and diligence. The proverbs point out the good and bad effects these things have on those who practise them and those associated with them (10:1-5). Behaviour indicates character, and a person’s reputation lives on after death (6-7). Wisdom comes by learning, not by boasting; security comes by uprightness, not by dishonest dealings (8-9).

Some people, by cunning actions and words, create trouble. Others, by speaking openly in love, make peace (10-12). The wise keep their knowledge for use on the right occasions; fools speak when they should not and so bring themselves trouble (13-14).

Money may, for a while, increase personal security, but people must earn it honestly and use it wisely if it is to improve the quality of their lives (15-17). If people have hatred in their hearts, their words will be either hypocritical or slanderous. If they are honest and sincere, their words will be well chosen and helpful to the hearers (18-21).

Because the foolish and the wicked build their lives on things that are material and temporary, they fear sudden disaster. But disaster will indeed befall them. The righteous build their lives on things of more lasting value. They therefore maintain their security and contentment, in spite of the troubles they meet (22-25). Lazy people are an annoyance to their employers (26).

God promises long life, gladness and divine protection to the righteous. He assures the wicked that when he acts against them their lives will finish in disappointment and despair (27-30). The speech of the righteous is wise and gracious, but that of the wicked is deceitful and hurtful (31-32).

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