Proverbs 27:4

Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?

– Proverbs 27:4

The first phrase summarizes the previous verse. The word for cruel means fierce, and the word for outrageous means a flood, or overflow. The saying highlights the excessive extremity of wrath, but contrasts it with envy, or jealousy. Jealousy can be positive (Proverbs 6:32-35), or negative (Proverbs 14:30). Even in the positive usage, the extreme character of jealousy is proven. Jealousy is a violent and unreasonable emotion, capable of great violence and destruction.




Proverbs 24:1

Chapter 24 continues the “words of the wise” in verses 1-22 and adds an appendix of wise sayings in verses 23-34. The sayings cover various topics such as, envy, wisdom, fools, perseverance, futility, enemies, good citizenry, judgment, false witness, and learning wisdom. There is no apparent structure beyond the usual verse pairs that form a saying.

Be not thou envious against evil men, neither desire to be with them.
– Proverbs 24:1

Verses 1-2 form a saying warning against envying evil men. The word for envious means to be jealous. The word for desire means to wish for. Wisdom instructs not to envy the prosperity of evil men, nor want to be with them. Wisdom has elsewhere warned of the folly of making bad companions (Proverbs 1:11-15; 13:20; 23:20). The warning starts with envy, which is an inner desire or jealousy that sees something desirable in the lives of the wicked. To one without wisdom, the life of evil men looks free, exciting, and prosperous. Wisdom knows better, because wisdom takes the long view (Proverbs 23:18; 24:20).

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Proverbs 23:17

Let not thine heart envy sinners: but be thou in the fear of the LORD all the day long.
– Proverbs 23:17

Verses 17 and 18 form a wise saying about the informed perspective of wisdom. The word for envy means jealousy when used in the negative sense. It’s not uncommon to be envious of sinners (Psalm 37:1; 73:3). Such envy is contrasted in this saying with the fear of the Lord, which we know is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 1:7). Wisdom teaches to not envy the momentarily prosperous (Proverbs 3:31; 24:1), but rather to understand wisdom that knows the fear of the Lord is better than momentary success (Proverbs 15:16; 28:14).

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Proverbs 14:30

A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones.
– Proverbs 14:30

The word for sound means healthy or whole, and heart refers figuratively to the mind. We must guard our minds and feed them with sound wisdom to guard our life (Proverbs 4:23; Philippians 4:8). Wisdom affects our overall health as does folly (Proverbs 17:22). The contrast here is with envy, or jealousy. Envy, bitterness, resentment, anger, and all such thoughts and feelings are those that eat away at a man mentally, emotionally, and physically.

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Proverbs 3:31

Envy thou not the oppressor, and choose none of his ways.
– Proverbs 3:31

To envy is to be jealous of or to desire the things of another. Oppressors exercise power over others and use wicked ways to often obtain quick success. Envy could come of wanting to reverse roles and rather than being oppressed to be the oppressor, or it could be a desire for the quick success they seem to have. Wisdom takes a longer view and knows the end of the oppressor’s ways.

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