Proverbs 19:1

Introduction
Chapter 19 continues the proverbs of Solomon. The chapter touches on friendships, wealth, laziness, the home, and more.

Better is the poor that walketh in his integrity, than he that is perverse in his lips, and is a fool.
– Proverbs 19:1

We expect the poor to be contrasted with the rich, and Proverbs 28:6 does that in a similar proverb. So the fool in the second phrase is understood to be a wealthy fool. The word for integrity means completeness, or innocence in the sense of being blameless. It is sometimes translated as upright. Walking uprightly means having wisdom and walking in wisdom (Proverbs 2:6-7; 13:6; 20:7). The word for perverse means distorted, or crooked. It is sometimes translated as froward. Cleverness is implicit in the twisting of words by the obstinate fool. Being poor and possessing wisdom is possible and better than being such a rich fool.

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Proverbs 17:20

He that hath a froward heart findeth no good: and he that hath a perverse tongue falleth into mischief.
– Proverbs 17:20

The wicked are described as having a froward heart (Proverbs 3:32; 6:12-15; 11:20). This means a perverse mind, bent toward folly and away from wisdom. All their plans are plans of wickedness and abominations before the Lord. The wicked are also described as having a perverse tongue (Proverbs 8:13; 10:10; 18:6-7). The word for perverse means to turn about or over. This refers to a false tongue, saying one thing and doing another. One who thinks and talks this way cannot expect to find good and can expect to find mischief, or evil (Proverbs 10:31; 13:17).

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Proverbs 14:2

He that walketh in his uprightness feareth the LORD: but he that is perverse in his ways despiseth him.
– Proverbs 14:2

Fearing the Lord produces uprightness in our walk. The word for uprightness means straight and has obvious moral implications. Walking in uprightness means departing from evil (Proverbs 16:17) and it is more valuable than earthly riches (Proverbs 28:6). In the contrast, despising the Lord produces perversity. The word for perverse means crooked, or to turn aside. In the context, it is a departing from the upright way in the fear of the Lord. Because they do not fear the Lord, they despise wisdom and instruction that comes from him (Proverbs 1:7) and they hate knowledge (Proverbs 1:29). Because they do not fear the Lord, they do not depart from evil but rather pursue it (Proverbs 3:7; 16:6).

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Proverbs 12:8

A man shall be commended according to his wisdom: but he that is of a perverse heart shall be despised.
– Proverbs 12:8

The word for wisdom means intelligence or good sense. It indicates clear thinking as opposed to the perverse, or crooked, mind. Wisdom here sees things as they are and makes prudent assessments. Wisdom is therefore commended or celebrated. Perverse thinking fails in analyzing reality and the resulting counsels are wrong. So they are despised, or held in contempt.

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Proverbs 11:3

The integrity of the upright shall guide them: but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them.
– Proverbs 11:3

The word for integrity points to innocence. Upright means straight. These are contrasted with the crooked ways of the treacherous—perverseness of transgressors. The main point here, as in similar proverbs, is that integrity in wisdom will preserve and guide the upright, while the very crookedness of the deceivers will destroy them (Proverbs 13:6; 28:18).

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