Proverbs 22:14

The mouth of strange women is a deep pit: he that is abhorred of the LORD shall fall therein.
– Proverbs 22:14

Though the strange woman featured often in the fatherly addresses of chapters 1-9, she is scarcely mentioned in the large collection of proverbs that form the bulk of this book. The reference to deep pit means a hazard, or a trap. The reference to the mouth means the danger of listening to her flatteries (Proverbs 2:16; 5:3-4; 6:24; 7:5). The word for abhorred means enraged and refers to the subjects of God’s wrath. They fall in the deep pit as judgment for forsaking the way of the Lord.

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Proverbs 22:8

He that soweth iniquity shall reap vanity: and the rod of his anger shall fail.
– Proverbs 22:8

This proverb is one of the reap-what-you-sow proverbs. Wisdom teaches to consider the consequence and outcome of our way. Where will it all end? The word for iniquity means injustice. Sowing iniquity images a life lived by gains of oppression, and nothing but trouble can come of it (Proverbs 10:2; 11:18; 20:17; 21:6). The second phrase speaks of the sure end of his rod of anger through implied judgment. His iniquity will be stopped and he will be cut off (Proverbs 11:7; 14:32). Wisdom gives a warning to the wicked and also hope to the suffering righteous.

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Proverbs 21:15

It is joy to the just to do judgment: but destruction shall be to the workers of iniquity.
– Proverbs 21:15

The word for joy means gladness, or pleasure. Judgment refers to justice, or just dealing. It can mean a legal verdict in the official sense of justice, or it can refer to the just respect and treatment of others in our dealings. The word for destruction means ruin, or terror. The just and upright delight in justice being done and it terrifies the wicked, because they want justice to be bendable to their advantage (Proverbs 17:23). This proverb complements Proverbs 10:29 where the way of the Lord, which is the way of judgment, is a fortification for the upright but a terror to the wicked.

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Proverbs 21:12

The righteous man wisely considereth the house of the wicked: but God overthroweth the wicked for their wickedness.
– Proverbs 21:12

The wording of this proverb is difficult. I understand there is no change in subject between the first and second phrase in the Hebrew. The righteous one in the first phrase performs both actions—considereth and overthroweth. The most natural reading takes God, Yahweh, to be the righteous one. If so, this is the only place in Proverbs where the term is used of God. Does the meaning of the proverb justify this?

The word for considereth means to look at, or give attention to. The house of the wicked likely refers to the wicked’s prosperity. Wisdom points out the temporary prosperity of the wicked is unenviable (Proverbs 24:19-20). The word for overthroweth means ruin. The second phrase points to ultimate justice for the wicked, where their own wickedness destroys them (Proverbs 11:3-5; 13:6; 14:32). Proverbs is clear that God is the one who sees and judges the wicked (Proverbs 5:21; 15:3; 16:2). This meaning is clear in a similar proverb in Proverbs 22:12. The natural and consistent meaning takes the righteous one to be God who sees and metes out final justice.

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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 21:3

To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.
– Proverbs 21:3

The word for justice means rightness, or doing what is right by a standard of righteousness. The word for judgment means a verdict, and so refers to our dealings with others being just dealings. The word for sacrifice means slaughter, as in a ritual sacrifice for offering. The proverb says righteous conduct is better to Yahweh than religious acts. The proverb does not disparage religious acts, but rather wisely observes that religious acts without accompanying righteous life are hollow and hypocritical. Another way to see it is that no amount of religious piety can make up for unrighteousness in life (1 Samuel 15:22; Isaiah 58:1-14; Micah 6:6-8). This proverb is a thematic summary of what all proverbs are saying. People often approach Proverbs topically because it is easier to study the whole book that way. If you think about the various topics, i.e., marriage, children, wealth, parents, work, poverty, business, anger, speech, etc., you get a picture of wisdom that is righteousness in all of life. Men often make the mistake that pious observance of ritual without living in the way of the fear of the Lord is righteousness.

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Proverbs 20:8

A king that sitteth in the throne of judgment scattereth away all evil with his eyes.
– Proverbs 20:8

The word for scattereth away means to toss about, or winnow. The word is used with the thought of winnowing in connection with a threshing wheel in Proverbs 20:26. Winnowing has to do with separating the chaff from the wheat. Verse 26 notes a wise king does this. The purpose of civil authority is to root evil out of the land (Proverbs 16:12). The king who is righteous is a blessing to his people and secures the conditions for flourishing for them (Proverbs 29:14). The primary purpose of civil government is to uphold and maintain justice, even as Paul wrote in the New Testament (Romans 13:1-7).

The reference to the king’s eyes here is speaking of discernment. Proverbs references the eyes of the Lord in different places in the sense of discernment (Proverbs 5:21; 15:3; 16:2; 21:2; 22:12). The king is as Paul wrote, “the minister of God” (Romans 13:4). The righteous ruler is seen as doing God’s work in upholding justice for the afflicted and oppressed (Proverbs 31:4-5), and representing and relieving the poor and oppressed (Proverbs 31:8-9).

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Proverbs 19:29

Judgments are prepared for scorners, and stripes for the back of fools.
– Proverbs 19:29

The word for judgments means a sentence, or penalty. The word for stripes means blows, or strokes as with a rod. When instructions, corrections, reproofs, rebukes, and warnings fail to turn a scorner or fool, stripes will be called for (Proverbs 10:13; 18:6). It is the only means of restraining such men (Proverbs 26:3). The warning of inevitable judgment goes out to fools and scorners. They will not go unpunished (Proverbs 19:5, 9). Though punishment of a fool seldom does him good (Proverbs 27:22), it can be corrective for others who see it (Proverbs 19:25).

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Proverbs 19:28

An ungodly witness scorneth judgment: and the mouth of the wicked devoureth iniquity.
– Proverbs 19:28

The word for witness means testimony, or evidence. Proverbs has several warnings or condemnations of a false witness (Proverbs 6:19; 12:17; 14:5; 19:5, 9; 21:28; 25:18). Here it is an ungodly witness, or witness of Belial. He is a thoroughly wicked and deceitful witness. Deliberately twisted testimony scorneth, or mocks, judgment, or justice in the sense of a verdict. The word for devoureth means to swallow, or we would say gulp down. The second phrase pictures the ungodly witness as enjoying and greedily devouring iniquity, or wickedness. It reminds us of how the fool laps up foolishness (Proverbs 15:14).

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