Proverbs 19:6

Many will entreat the favor of the prince: and every man is a friend to him that giveth gifts.
– Proverbs 19:6

Commentators vary whether this proverb is negative or positive. The word for many means abundant, indicating a large number. Generally, having many friends in Proverbs is negative (see commentary on Proverbs 18:24). The prince and him that giveth gifts both have a power to give and do for others, so men naturally are drawn to them (Proverbs 29:26). The poor have fewer friends because they have no power to draw to themselves (Proverbs 19:4). The emphasis on friendship in Proverbs doesn’t have to do with being poor or rich, but it is better to have fewer and truer friends (Proverbs 17:17).

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Proverbs 19:5

A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall not escape.
– Proverbs 19:5

The word for unpunished means to be clear, or innocent. It has a judicial gloss here, since false witness has legal connotations. False witness is one of the hated abominations in Proverbs 6:16-19. The law forbids false witness and prescribes strict punishment for it (Exodus 20:16; 23:1; Deuteronomy 19:16). A false witness may go unchecked in this life, but this proverb promises he shall not escape (Revelation 21:8, 27; 22:15).

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Proverbs 19:4

Wealth maketh many friends; but the poor is separated from his neighbor.
– Proverbs 19:4

The word for maketh means to add. Wealth adds many friends, or continues to add them. The word for friends is a common and general word that can cover a range of associations. The same word is translated neighbor in the second phrase. The contrast indicates the poor lose friends as the rich add them (Proverbs 14:20). This proverb is a wisdom observation and complements Proverbs 18:24.

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Proverbs 19:3

The foolishness of man perverteth his way: and his heart fretteth against the LORD.
– Proverbs 19:3

The word for perverteth means to twist, or ruin. The sense of the first phrase is that a man given to folly comes to ruin (Proverbs 13:6). The word for fretteth means to boil, or be enraged. A man’s folly is his own undoing and it kindles his anger against God.

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Proverbs 19:2

Also, that the soul be without knowledge, it is not good; and he that hasteth with this feet sinneth.
– Proverbs 19:2

This proverb pairs with the previous one. The word for knowledge means perception, or skill. The word is used in Proverbs to speak of the knowledge of God, and therefore the knowledge of truth. The instruction of wisdom is designed to give “knowledge” (Proverbs 1:4). The “beginning of knowledge” is the “fear of the Lord” (Proverbs 1:7). By contrast, fools “hate knowledge” and the “fear of the Lord” (Proverbs 1:22, 29). To be without knowledge is to be without success, i.e., not good. His schemes and plans go astray, as expanded in the second phrase of the proverb. The word for sinneth means to miss the way, or go wrong. That he hasteth means that he hurries, or presses forward. The proverb expands on the fool of the previous proverb. He hurries to get rich or work his scheme, but he does so without knowledge and contrary to it (Proverbs 1:16; 28:22). Ultimately, he fails (Proverbs 1:16-19).

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Proverbs 19:1

Introduction
Chapter 19 continues the proverbs of Solomon. The chapter touches on friendships, wealth, laziness, the home, and more.

Better is the poor that walketh in his integrity, than he that is perverse in his lips, and is a fool.
– Proverbs 19:1

We expect the poor to be contrasted with the rich, and Proverbs 28:6 does that in a similar proverb. So the fool in the second phrase is understood to be a wealthy fool. The word for integrity means completeness, or innocence in the sense of being blameless. It is sometimes translated as upright. Walking uprightly means having wisdom and walking in wisdom (Proverbs 2:6-7; 13:6; 20:7). The word for perverse means distorted, or crooked. It is sometimes translated as froward. Cleverness is implicit in the twisting of words by the obstinate fool. Being poor and possessing wisdom is possible and better than being such a rich fool.

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Proverbs 18:24

A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.
– Proverbs 18:24

The Hebrew here is difficult and the interpretations vary. The word for friends in the first phrase is a general term than can mean neighbor, companion, or close friend. The word for friend in the second phrase is a stronger term indicating a bond of affection. We also note the first term is plural and the second singular, meaning the proverb moves from many to one. This indicates a contrast in the parallel making the first phrase have a negative gloss and the second a more positive one. The words must show himself friendly translate one Hebrew word, raw-ah’. This word appears 83 times in the Old Testament and is most often translated evil, evildoer, hurt, wickedly, etc. The word has a negative connotation and supports the interpretation of the first phrase negatively. Solomon’s point is that having a true, close friend is better than having many looser friends, or associates (Proverbs 17:17; 27:10).

This understanding agrees with the general tenor of Proverbs concerning many friends. Having multiplied friends increases the likelihood of having fickle friends (Proverbs 14:20; 19:4, 6-7), and the bother of having inconsiderate friends (Proverbs 25:17, 20; 26:18-19; 27:14; 29:5). Having fewer, but truly good friends means we are more likely to have the benefit of loyalty (Proverbs 17:17), loving honesty (Proverbs 27:6), good advice (Proverbs 27:9), and a mutual bettering through differences of personality or understanding (Proverbs 27:17).

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Proverbs 18:23

The poor useth intreaties; but the rich answereth roughly.
– Proverbs 18:23

The next several proverbs speak of the poor, rich, and friendships. The word for intreaties means supplication, so it is a humble request. The word for roughly means harshly. The proverb contrasts the rich and poor and how they interact in society. Wisdom observes the limitations of the poor, which humble him to mercy pleas. Wisdom also observes the conveniences the rich have to harden them to such pleas.

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Proverbs 18:22

Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favor of the LORD.
– Proverbs 18:22

Proverbs as a whole only speaks of two acquirements as receiving the favor of the Lord. The first is wisdom, which means the obtaining of life, i.e., spiritual, everlasting life (Proverbs 3:4; 8:35). The second is a good wife, or good marriage (Proverbs 18:22; 19:14). A good wife is also paralleled with wisdom in being of superior high value (Proverbs 8:11; 31:10). A good wife is an inestimable blessing in a man’s life (Proverbs 12:4; 14:1; 31:11, 23). Solomon elsewhere spoke of living happily with a good wife as a gift from God (Ecclesiastes 9:9).

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