Proverbs 19:23

The fear of the LORD tendeth to life: and he that hath it shall abide satisfied; he shall not be visited with evil.
– Proverbs 19:23

Life in Proverbs has a range of meaning beyond mere physical life as opposed to death. Kidner points out the term often denotes fullness, or abundance, of life in terms of flourishing and harmonious home life (Proverbs 16:15; 15:27). Here it is life lived in the fear of the Lord, and so it is wisdom life, since wisdom begins with the fear of the Lord (Proverbs 1:7). Other proverbs speak of wisdom in life tending to long life and peace (Proverbs 6:22; 10:27; 14:26-27). The life in this proverb is explained in the two lines that follow. The word for satisfied means full, or satiated. It speaks of having enough, or not being in want. The word for evil can mean moral evil in terms of wickedness done, or it can mean natural evil in terms of calamity, adversity, or natural disaster. Wisdom life in the fear of the Lord tends to having needs met and living in peace.

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Proverbs 19:16

He that keepeth the commandment keepeth his own soul; but he that despiseth his ways shall die.
– Proverbs 19:16

The word for commandment means law, or precept. It’s often used in Proverbs for the instruction of father and mother (Proverbs (2:1; 3:1; 6:20; 7:1). However, the instructions of father and mother are instructions in divine wisdom with life or death consequences (Proverbs 4:4; 6:23; 13:13). The fist phrase is like saying keep the commandment and keep your life. The word for despiseth means to hold in contempt, or think lightly of. The word for shall die means to be put to death, so it connotes a judicial punishment. Despising the way of wisdom and God’s commandment is not to merely run the risk of natural death, but it is to run afoul of the righteous Judge and face irremediable punishment.

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Proverbs 16:31

The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness.
– Proverbs 16:31

The word for glory means beauty and splendor. It can indicate honor and renown. The hoary head refers to the gray head and is not only put here for old age, but a long life. A long life in the way of righteousness is a life lived in wisdom. This proverb is another promise of the reward of long life for those who seek wisdom early and walk in it (Proverbs 3:16; 4:10).

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Proverbs 16:22

Understanding is a wellspring of life unto him that hath it: but the instruction of fools is folly.
– Proverbs 16:22

The word for understanding means prudence, or good sense. It appears several times in Proverbs and throughout the Old Testament. It was the word used to describe Abigail in 1 Samuel 25:3. We would say she had a good head on her shoulders. Practical wisdom is a life giving blessing (Proverbs 3:22; 14:30), as wellspring of life indicates (Proverbs 10:11; 13:14; 14:27; 18:4). The second phrase is a contrast to the life giving blessing of wisdom. The word for instruction means chastisement, or reproof. Such correction coming from fools is useless, worthless (Proverbs 15:2, 28). If we press the antithetical parallel further, rather than giving life, folly leads to destruction and death (Proverbs 5:23; 14:1).

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Proverbs 15:31

The ear that heareth the reproof of life abideth among the wise.
– Proverbs 15:31

The last three proverbs of chapter 15 touch generally on being teachable and receptive to instruction and reproof. The word for reproof means a correction, or rebuke. Reproof is one of wisdom’s primary instruments (Proverbs 1:23; 6:23). Here it is life giving and puts one among the wise. Abiding among the wise increases wisdom (Proverbs 13:20;19:20).

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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 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 14:30

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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