Proverbs 24 Commentary

Godly and ungodly citizens (24:1-34)

In contrast to the destructive schemes of the wicked are the constructive acts of the wise. A life built by wisdom is likened to a strongly built and richly furnished house (24:1-4). Wisdom gives people real strength and success, but folly gives them nothing worthwhile, not even sensible words that can benefit their fellow citizens (5-7). (In ancient times the place where citizens liked to gather was the open area just inside the city gate; v. 7. There they discussed community affairs and dealt with matters of business and justice.)

Those who constantly plan evil or scorn others are a menace to society (8-9). So are the moral cowards who give in when hardship arises or who refuse to help the afflicted and the oppressed, claiming they did not know of their troubles (10-12). By contrast, those who allow wisdom to teach them find that its fruits are sweet and lasting (13-14).

Righteous people need not plot the overthrow of the wicked, for the destruction of the wicked will come of itself. The righteous will overcome repeated hardships but the wicked will not (15-16). The wicked are certain to be overthrown, but when this happens the righteous should not gloat over them (17- 20). Rather the righteous should maintain an attitude of reverence towards God and honour towards the civil authorities (21-22).

People respect a judge who is impartial; they despise one who shows favouritism (23-26). It is wise to be assured of a reliable source of income before taking on the heavy financial burden of building a house (27). Revenge is a terrible thing, especially when people combine it with false accusation in order to get their own way (28-29). If people sleep when they should be working, they demonstrate their stupidity as well as their their laziness. They will surely end in poverty and disgrace (30-34).

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