Proverbs 29:9

If a wise man contendeth with a foolish man, whether he rage or laugh, there is no rest.
– Proverbs 29:9

The contention here is an unreconciled complaint. The result is coming to no resolution because the contention is with a foolish man. The words of the wise are presented as calm and reasonable (Proverbs 15:23; 17:27), but a determined fool cannot be reasoned with (Proverbs 12:15). The fool’s response may range from anger to mockery, but there will be no rest, or peace. The wise discern the time to leave off speaking to a fool.

Proverbs 29:8

Scornful men bring a city into a snare: but wise men turn away wrath.
– Proverbs 29:8

Verses 8-11 have sayings with anger as a common theme. A scorner is a determined fool among the wisdom sayings whose persistent resistance to correction (Proverbs 9:7-8; 13:1; 15:12) keeps him from acquiring wisdom (Proverbs 14:6). Kidner called the scorner a deliberate trouble-maker (Proverbs 21:24; 22:10), and here he inflames the city, as the word for snare indicates. By contrast, the wise man is calming and turns wrath away. Wisdom understands and values the power of calm words (Proverbs 17:27; 15:1; 25:15).

Proverbs 29:7

The righteous considereth the cause of the poor: but the wicked regardeth not to know it.
– Proverbs 29:7

This saying rounds out the group of sayings concerned with justice. The cause of the poor refers to justice, the rights and needs of the poor. The poor as a group often represent not merely the economically depressed, but those who are weak and vulnerable in various circumstances. The righteous know the state and condition of the easily oppressed, much like the faithful shepherd knows the state of his flocks (Proverbs 27:23). Such knowledge is coupled with action (Proverbs 29:4; 13-14; 26), but those who care nothing about it are here called wicked (Proverbs 21:13).

Proverbs 29:6

In the transgression of an evil man there is a snare: but the righteous doth sing and rejoice.
– Proverbs 29:6

Wisdom often asserts providential justice as the wicked being taken by their own devices (Proverbs 1:19; 5:22; 11:5-6; 12:13; 26:7). The main contrast of the saying is the captivity the evil man comes to with the freedom of the righteous. Singing and rejoicing here indicate the free response of the righteous (Proverbs 13:9; 23:24-25).

Proverbs 29:5

A man that flattereth his neighbor spreadeth a net for his feet.
– Proverbs 29:5

The word for flattereth means smooth, and indicates smooth talk. Wisdom consistently treats flattery as malicious and ruinous, to be avoided (Proverbs 2:16; 7:5; 26:28; 28:23). Ultimately, the man who gains by flattery will bring ruin upon himself (Proverbs 1:17-19; 26:27; 28:19).

Proverbs 29:4

The king by judgment establisheth the land: but he that receiveth gifts overthroweth it.
– Proverbs 29:4

The sayings of verses 4-7 share a common concern for justice. The contrast here is between establishing the land and overthrowing it. The difference between the outcomes is in the heart of the king. If he pursues judgment, or justice, the land/nation will be established (Proverbs 16:12; 20:8; 29:14). The word for gifts usually indicates bribes when in the context of justice. Here, the gifts reflect financial corruption in the hearts of rulers. We could extend the application of Proverbs 15:27 to greedy rulers who trouble their own land and add the admonition of hating covetousness for the nation to have stability (Proverbs 28:16).

Proverbs 29:3

Whoso loveth wisdom rejoiceth his father: but he that keepeth company with harlots spendeth his substance.
– Proverbs 29:3

This saying echoes a long line of wisdom sayings pertaining to sons who acquire wisdom blessing their fathers (Proverbs 10:1; 15:20; 23:15, 24-25; 27:11). The second line gives the contrasting parallel for the foolish sons (Proverbs 5:8-10; 6:26; 21:17, 20; 28:7, 19). The contrast is between loving and pursuing wisdom or loving and pursuing folly. Wisdom and folly are personified as women in Proverbs (Proverbs 9:1-18), and so loving wisdom is pictured through finding a virtuous wife (Proverbs 31:10-31) and folly through chasing prostitutes (Proverbs 5:1-23; 7:1-27). Jesus told of such a foolish son, who went on to forsake folly for wisdom (Luke 15:11-32).

Proverbs 29:2

When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.
– Proverbs 29:2

This saying echoes the theme of righteous rule contrasted with wicked rule. The general tenor of wisdom emphasizes the flourishing of people under righteous rule and also issues warning to rulers (Proverbs 11:10-11; 28:12, 28; 29:16).

Proverbs 29:1

Introduction
Proverbs 29 continues the proverbs of Solomon, which Hezekiah had collected. These sayings focus on the human condition and public life of high and low station, wealth and poverty, and justice and injustice. This chapter continues the kingly instruction with concerns about ruling, oppression, anger, and receiving correction. Most sayings follow the two-line proverbial structure.

He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.
– Proverbs 29:1

This sayings sets the tone for a number of sayings in this chapter, which follow thematically (Proverbs 29:3, 8-9, 11, 15, 17, 19, 21, 24). A hardened or stiff neck is a figure of stubborn refusal. Israel was frequently rebuked for their obstinacy is refusing God’s word (Exodus 32:9; 33:3; Deuteronomy 9:6; 10:16; Isaiah 30:1; 46:12; Jeremiah 5:23; 16:12).

Here the figure is applied to those who refuse reproof. The stubborn fool is the worse kind of fool in Proverbs. They are not merely ignorant, but refuse correction and instruction, which are so necessary to attain wisdom (Proverbs 9:7-8, 13:1; 15:12). The last line refers to their destruction, which shall be abrupt and complete (Proverbs 6:15).

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