Proverbs 11 Commentary

Prosperity; uprightness; generosity (11:1-31)

People are foolish to try to get rich by dishonest methods, because dishonesty brings judgment from which riches cannot save (11:1-4). By their blameless conduct, people ensure their ultimate victory; by crookedness they ensure their downfall (5-8). When good people have influence in a city, the citizens live in peace and happiness. But each city also has its troublemakers, who are a nuisance to their neighbours and create unrest in the community (9-11). Because of the trouble these people cause through their harmful speech, the city’s leaders must provide firm but wise direction (12-14).

A further warning is given against making rash guarantees (15; see notes on 6:1-5). Violence may bring prosperity, but the prosperity is deceptive, for it is shortlived. By contrast, kindness brings honour


and a lasting reward (16-18). God is in control of the lives of all people, and he makes sure that the righteous life is the only worthwhile life (19-20). There are irregularities, both real and apparent, in the relationship between the inner lives and outer circumstances of some people, but in the end justice will be done (21-23).

Generosity will not result in poverty, for God will reward the generous person. But people curse those who hold back food in a time of scarcity in the hope of forcing the price up (24-26). No matter what people look for, good or evil, they will get it, but if they look for security through wealth they will be disappointed (27-29). The righteous, by their good lives, bring blessing to others. If even they at times suffer from God’s just punishment, how much more will the wicked suffer (30-31).

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