Proverbs 29:26

Many seek the ruler’s favor; but every man’s judgment cometh from the LORD.
– Proverbs 29:26

The word for favor literally means face and comes from a root meaning to turn. Favor is the dynamic equivalence of the term, for the sense is seeking favor. The contrast in the second line is judgment, or justice, coming from God. The contrast is further demonstrated between many seeking human favor and every man receiving justice from God. The saying contributes to understanding the folly of relying on men for justice rather than God (Proverbs 19:6).

Proverbs 29:25

The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.
– Proverbs 29:25

Fearing man is contrasted with trusting the Lord in this saying. The snare is a picturesque word from the hunting and trapping of birds or small game. The wicked and the fool are taken in snares (Proverbs 12:13; 18:7) but wisdom and fear of the Lord delivers from snares (Proverbs 13:14; 14:27). Fear of man seems safe but is a trap.

The word for trust means to take refuge and when Yahweh is the refuge, it typically indicates a covenantal relationship (Psalms 4:5; 9:10; 13:5; Proverbs 3:5). The refuge motif continues with the word for safe. It means a high place, or lofty place, and indicates security like being in a high, unassailable tower. The word is also used commonly for the protection of Yahweh’s covenant for all who trust in him (Psalms 20:1; Proverbs 18:10).

Proverbs 29:24

Whoso is partner with a thief hateth his own soul: he heareth cursing, and bewrayeth it not.
– Proverbs 29:24

The word for partner alludes to dividing the spoil, as it is used in Proverbs 16:19. A thief is obviously one who steals and is not a sympathetic case as in Proverbs 6:30. Proverbs opens with a warning against such a partnership (Proverbs 1:10-19). To join in with such evil doers is to hate your own life and to be taken in a snare (Proverbs 26:27; 29:6). It puts one in company with great fools (Proverbs 6:32; 8:36; 15:32; 20:2).

The cursing in the second line refers to swearing an oath. It appears only here in Proverbs, though it is used in the law to show that remaining silent when called to witness is a false witness (Leviticus 5:1). The word bewrayeth is an old word out of use today, but it and the underlying Hebrew word mean to expose, or make known. Such a fool has multiplied sin by dividing the spoil with the wicked and bearing false witness.

Proverbs 29:23

A man’s pride shall bring him low: but honor shall uphold the humble in spirit.
– Proverbs 29:23

Following a saying on anger is this saying on pride. The saying is similar to Proverbs 11:2 and 16:18. Pride leads to destruction and honor requires humility beforehand (Proverbs 18:12). The word for humble means low, or lowly. God rewards the lowly (Proverbs 3:34; 16:18-19) and hates pride (Proverbs 6:17).

Proverbs 29:22

An angry man stirreth up strife, and a furious man aboundeth in transgression.
– Proverbs 29:22

Anger and fury here describe the disposition of the man who seeks strife and transgression. The saying describes one whose practiced habit is anger. The word for transgression means revolt, or rebellion. The word is often used to describe rebellion against God. Love for this sort of rebellion is coupled with a love for strife (Proverbs 17:19). The eagerness of such a man to stir up strife is captured by the saying that speaks of a man wringing blood from the nose (Proverbs 30:33). He loves strife so much, he will wring it out and force it if he has to.

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.

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