Proverbs 15:27

He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house; but he that hateth gifts shall live.
– Proverbs 15:27

The word for greedy means covetous, but also violence. The greedy want gain at all costs, even to death (Proverbs 1:19). They are in a hurry to get rich (Proverbs 28:22). Greed is a driving force rather than wisdom and brings trouble, or disturbance, to his own house (Proverbs 11:29). The contrasting phrase juxtaposes life, so we infer pursuing greed leads to death (Proverbs 11:19). The way of wisdom and way of life is to hate gifts (Proverbs 8:13). The word for gifts means a present. The word sometimes means a bribe and Proverbs warns against bribes to pervert justice (Proverbs 28:16; 29:4).

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Proverbs 15:24

The way of life is above to the wise, that he may depart from hell beneath.
– Proverbs 15:24

The wisdom of Proverbs reveals there are ultimately only two ways—the way of life and the way of death. The way of life is the way of wisdom, instruction, and correction (Proverbs 6:23; 10:17). It is the way that delivers from death (Proverbs 12:28; 14:23). The word for above means upward, or higher. It is contrasted with hell beneath, which is sheol, or the realm of the dead. It is the end of the way of folly as seen in the warnings against the way of the strange woman (Proverbs 2:18; 5:5; 7:27).

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Proverbs 15:10

Correction is grievous unto him that forsaketh the way: and he that hateth reproof shall die.
– Proverbs 15:10

This proverb does not make a contrast, but shows a progression from bad to worse. Forsaking the way amounts to leaving the path of wisdom and walking in the way evil (Proverbs 2:12-15). He does not like correction but trusts to his own understanding (Proverbs 12:15; 15:5). He progresses to hatred of reproof. This marks a fool as a scorner, or scoffer. This is the hardened end of folly. He hates reproof (Proverbs 9:7-8; 13:1), and inherits the “judgments … prepared for scorners” (Proverbs 19:29; 3:34). Such scorners love and inherit death (Proverbs 8:36; 5:23; 11:7).

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Proverbs 14:32

The wicked is driven away in his wickedness: but the righteous hath hope in his death.
– Proverbs 14:32

Proverbs speaks of life and death often, but usually in the sense of life being a reward for wisdom and death being the same for folly (Proverbs 3:2; 5:23). Many commentators think the afterlife too advanced a subject for the time of the Proverbs, but this proverb is one place it is glimpsed. The word for driven away means to be cast down. The wicked shall not stand in the judgment and riches cannot deliver them (Proverbs 11:4, 7). The contrast is the hope, or refuge, of the righteous in death. Hope is had because righteousness delivers from death (Proverbs 11:4) and is the way of life (Proverbs 12:28).

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Proverbs 14:27

The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.
– Proverbs 14:27

Those who fear the Lord are in the way of wisdom (Proverbs 1:7). The fountain refers to a naturally flowing water supply. It is a source that is perpetually fresh. So, the fear of the Lord gives life and refreshment continually to those who have it (Proverbs 22:4). Right fear will keep you from the snares of death (Proverbs 2:10-18; 22:5). Proverbs in this vein illustrate the spiritual nature of wisdom in Proverbs and the seriousness of the subject.

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Proverbs 14:12

There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.
– Proverbs 14:12

The word for right means straight and level. It can also express moral uprightness. When taken with the contrasting phrase, it refers to an apparent good way to good ends. Obviously, the way seems good because the man will not listen to wisdom (Proverbs 12:15). The end refers to the outcome or even the reward. The word for death means death in a natural or penal sense. It can refer to the state of death or can symbolize ruin. Taken here as a symbol, death speaks to the complete ruin of the plans of the man on the way that seemed right. In other words, it is not that he might find a little disappointment but complete ruin. More bluntly, the word indicates the ultimate destination of fools who refuse wisdom but go in the way of folly (Proverbs 5:5; 7:27; 9:18; 15:24).

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Proverbs 13:14

The law of the wise is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.
– Proverbs 13:14

The word for law means direction or instruction. It can refer to any instruction, though it often refers to God’s law-word. Here it is qualified as the law of the wise. The wise have the fear of the Lord and have acquired wisdom (Proverbs 14:27). Their wise instruction functions two ways. The fountain of life imagery suggests they are a source of life as well as refreshment. Their law also teaches to depart from the snares of death, or delivers from death (Proverbs 15:24; 16:6, 17).

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Proverbs 13:9

The light of the righteous rejoiceth: but the lamp of the wicked shall be put out.
– Proverbs 13:9

The course a person is on in life gives an expectation for their end. We might say the righteous have a bright future. The word for rejoiceth can include the idea of brightening. They are in the way of increasing light (Proverbs 4:18). The lamp being put out refers to darkness and to death. The image is a repeated warning (Proverbs 20:20; 24:20). Whatever brightness the wicked enjoy in life will be turned to darkness when their expectation dies (Proverbs 11:7).

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Proverbs 12:28

In the way of righteousness is life; and in the pathway thereof is no death.
– Proverbs 12:28

I understand the Hebrew is difficult in this proverb, and particularly the second phrase. Various interpretations have been given. The proverb doesn’t have a contrast and the first phrase sets the context. The way of righteousness, or the way of wisdom, is the way of life (Proverbs 8:35; 9:11). It’s the way of life now in the sense of wholeness and the way of life ultimately in hope beyond the grave. The second phrase indicates either there is a path of death, or there is no death in the path of righteousness. The general tenor of the Proverbs contrasts wisdom and folly as life and death. Wisdom and heeding wisdom tends to longer life (Proverbs 4:10). The way of folly is natural and wisdom delivers from death (Proverbs 15:24). The sober warning is given in Proverbs 8:36 that to hate and refuse wisdom is to embrace and love death.

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