Proverbs 29:21

He that delicately bringeth up his servant from a child shall have him become his son at length.
– Proverbs 29:21

The word for bringeth up means to pamper. The saying seems to intend a negative consequence and would be paired with verse 19. The word for son only appears here in the Hebrew Bible and the meaning is uncertain. It is generally though to intend a negative outcome such as, grief, or weak. If the negative gloss is correct, the saying gives a warning for lack of discipline and proper training of a servant from childhood.

Proverbs 29:20

Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? There is more hope of a fool than of him.
– Proverbs 29:20

This saying is close to Proverbs 26:12, where the less hopeful one is so due to arrogance. The parallel implies arrogance in haste of speech. Haste is generally problematic in Proverbs and symptomatic of folly (Proverbs 14:29; 21:15). Hasty speech can also come from lack of self-control (Proverbs 15:28; 29:11). The word for fool is a milder term, which indicates a simpleton. There is more hope that he can learn wisdom. The hyperbole says it is easier to train an ignorant fool than correct one given to rash speech.

Proverbs 29:19

A servant will not be corrected by words: for though he understand he will not answer.
– Proverbs 29:19

Verses 19-21 loosely form a group of sayings centered on the servant. The word means bondmen, or slave. The implications seem to have more to do with a servant mindset than a status. For instance, it is possible to be a wise servant (Proverbs 17:2). This saying has the foolish servant in mind, as he stubbornly refuses correction, which is characteristic of a fool (Proverbs 29:1, 9). It could be there is a subtly play on words here as the servant mindset is enslaved to folly.

Proverbs 29:18

Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.
– Proverbs 29:18

The word for vision has nothing whatever to do with goal setting, program implementing, or advanced planning. It refers to the revelation of God given to the prophets who made it known to the people (1 Samuel 3:1). Every time it is used in the Old Testament, it is connected to a prophet, whether directly or by allusion. It is an authoritative and binding, “Thus says the Lord.” It is easy to see that since no vision is contrasted with the law, or Torah, in the second line.

When there is no prophet in the community giving God’s word to the people, they perish, or break loose. The word has three uses in the Old Testament. It refers to the loosing of hair as in cutting or unbraiding it (Leviticus 10:6; 13:45; 21:10; Numbers 5:18). It can also refer to letting loose in the sense of losing or letting slip in the sense of ignoring or rejecting. It is used that way a number of times in Proverbs (Proverbs 1:25; 8:33; 13:18; 15:32). It can also refer to let loose in the sense of running wild, as in out of control immorality (Exodus 32:25). In this saying it is set against the blessing of keeping the law, so it is probably that second usage of letting slip that is meant, though the third usage could be included. When there is no prophet speaking God’s word and keeping that word before the people, they let God’s word slip, but when they hold on to the law, the community is blessed.

Proverbs 29:17

Correct they son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul.
– Proverbs 29:17

The word for correct can include the idea of chastening, discipline, or instruction. The word for rest means settled, and we might say ease of mind. The word for delight typically refers to pleasurable delicacies, but can be pleasure or joy more broadly than food. The saying is the reverse image of the saying in verse 15, where the child was “left to himself.” When a son, or child, is corrected, or receives wisdom, parents are given relief and joy.

Proverbs 29:16

When the wicked are multiplied, transgression increaseth: but the righteous shall see their fall.
– Proverbs 29:16

This saying seems to have the wicked ascending to authority, like in Provers 29:2. The increase of wicked authority will increase the sins of a society. The point of the saying comes in the contrasting last line. The wicked may outnumber the righteous at various times, but ultimately the righteous will outlast the wicked.

Proverbs 29:15

The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.
– Proverbs 29:15

Verses 15-21 have some interspersed sayings pertaining to children and servants. This saying is in line with others in Proverbs concerning child training (Proverbs 13:24; 22:15; 23:13-14). The saying joins the rod and reproof as instruments to give wisdom. On balance, the primary tools parents should use is their law (Proverbs 1:8; 3:1; 4:2; 6:20; 28:7). The last line gives the alternative as bringing shame. All parents can do is correct foolishness and instruct in wisdom, but that doesn’t guarantee a child will be wise (Proverbs 13:1; 15:5; 17:10; 27:22). To leave off the effort will more often than not produce shame.

Proverbs 29:15

The king that faithfully judgeth the poor, his throne shall be established for ever.
– Proverbs 29:14

Long-term establishment of kings requires justice, or righteousness. Just treatment of the poor, or vulnerable, is godly (Proverbs 20:28; 29:4). The standing or falling of kingdoms turns on such justice (Proverbs 16:12; 20:28; 28:16).

Proverbs 29:14

The poor and the deceitful man meet together: the LORD lighteneth both their eyes.
– Proverbs 29:13

This saying removes the facades of accomplishments or designations and considers all men on the same footing. The word for deceitful points to oppression. The poor are easily oppressed, so there is a natural opposition between the two. The last line refers to God as the giver of life to both (Proverbs 22:2). The king is concerned with both groups and must uphold justice for his throne to be established (Proverbs 28:16; 29:14).

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