Proverbs 29:1

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).

Proverbs 21:7

The robbery of the wicked shall destroy them; because they refuse to do judgment.
– Proverbs 21:7

The word for robbery means violence, or destruction. It refers to the various schemes by which they oppress, extort, and steal from others (Proverbs 1:11-14). The word for judgment means a verdict, or sentence. It can be used in a legal sense to refer to the work of a judge or magistrate. We find just such a usage in Ecclesiastes 12:14. In a more general way, the word can refer to a person’s rights, i.e., property ownership, civil and criminal redress, due process of law, etc. By doing violence to a person, you are disregarding their rights and violating their just claims. The proverb means that those who do such violence and refuse justice will be destroyed. Wisdom teaches they shall be ensnared by their own ways (Proverbs 1:18-19; 10:6; 22:22-23).

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Proverbs 18:12

Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honor is humility.
– Proverbs 18:12

To be haughty is to be lofty, or exalted, at least in one’s own eyes. Self-conceit primes one to be brought low (Proverbs 16:18; 26:12; 29:23). The second phrase appears in another proverb where humility is coupled with the fear of the Lord (Proverbs 15:33). Wisdom brings honor, but that path leads through humility (Proverbs 3:16).

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Proverbs 18:9

He also that is slothful in his work is brother to him that is a great waster.
– Proverbs 18:9

The word for slothful means to slacken, to be loose. The word for waster means a destroyer, or speaks of ruining. The lazy worker and the active destroyer belong to the same family. They are brothers, or in the same category. The result of each one’s work is ruin, though the waster intended that from the start and the sluggard did not. Sluggards have dreams and ambitions, but little to show for it (Proverbs 13:4; 21:25-26). Sluggards cannot get started to work on their ideas (Proverbs 6:9; 26:14), and once started, they cannot follow through and finish their work (Proverbs 12:27; 19:24; 26:15). Sluggards wake up one day to waste and loss (Proverbs 6:11). They end up the same place as the one who set out to destroy from the start.

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Proverbs 17:19

He loveth transgression that loveth strife: and he that exalteth his gate seeketh destruction.
– Proverbs 17:19

To love strife is to exhibit folly and to invite trouble to oneself (Proverbs 17:14; 20:3; 26:17; 29:9, 22). The phrase exalteth his gate has been understood variously, but the parallel here best supports the idea of arrogant boasting. Exalting oneself is pursuing a fall (Proverbs 16:18; 18:12). This proverb aligns with others that warn of the consequences of such a rejection of wisdom (Proverbs 1:29-32; 8:36; 22:8).

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Proverbs 16:18

Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.
– Proverbs 16:18

The word for pride means arrogance, as in insolent arrogance. It is human self-confidence that is put with others human attitudes and activities God hates (Proverbs 8:13; 16:5). The word for destruction means a crushing ruin and fall is close to a stumbling ruin. The word for haughty mean exalted, or elevated. It’s descriptive of having a higher view of oneself than justified. Such highness is ripe to be brought low (Proverbs 18:12). It is the opposite of the humility that attains wisdom (Proverbs 1:7; 11:2).

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Proverbs 15:11

Hell and destruction are before the LORD: how much more then the hearts of the children of men?
– Proverbs 15:11

The word for hell is sheol and means the unseen place of the dead. It is like the Greek hades. The word for destruction is abaddon and means a place of destruction. It emphasizes the state of suffering or punishment more than the location. It is also a name given to Satan as the king of the bottomless pit, or the abyssos (Revelation 9:10). The first phrase refers to the underworld, a place unseen to men, but not to God (Psalm 139:8). The point is that such a place we have so little conception of is entirely open before God. It follows then that human flesh is no covering to hide the hearts of men from God (Hebrews 4:12-13). The force of the proverb is to teach wisdom and the fear of the Lord.

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Proverbs 13:13

Whoso despiseth the word shall be destroyed: but he that feareth the commandment shall be rewarded.
– Proverbs 13:13

This is a Proverb that brings us back to the seriousness of receiving or rejecting divine wisdom. The Proverbs is not a collection of homespun advice. Despising and rejecting the word leads to destruction (Proverbs 1:25, 30-31). Alternatively, fearing and keeping the commandment leads to life (Proverbs 10:27; 11:31; 9:10-11).

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Proverbs 10:29

The way of the LORD is strength to the upright: but destruction shall be to the workers of iniquity.
– Proverbs 10:29

The way of the Lord is contrasted between the upright and the workers of iniquity. Some see the Lord’s overall providential governance in the way of the Lord, but as way is frequently put for course of life in Proverbs, it is more fitting to see it as the way one should go. The wisdom we should walk by is the wisdom we shall be judged by. It is safety or security to the upright, but the wicked falter and fail therein (Hosea 14:9).

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