Proverbs 20:26

A wise king scattereth the wicked, and bringeth the wheel over them.
– Proverbs 20:26

The word for scattereth is the same as in Proverbs 20:8 (see commentary). The term combined with the use of the wheel in the second phrase completes the threshing, winnowing image. The previous proverb highlighted discernment in judgment. The winnowing image had to do with the searching eyes of the king separating the innocent and the guilty. This proverb uses the same imagery, but with two different emphases. Here wicked are not just sorted into proper categories, but rather the wheel is brought over them. So this proverb highlights the execution of just judgment and maintenance of justice by bringing punishment to evildoers.

The second emphasis is the attribution of the king who does this. He is wise. The word for wise means skillful. It was a term used commonly to describe a master craftsman; one who had learned the art and science of his craft and gained the technical expertise to execute a master work. The word was so used to describe the craftsmen who built the tabernacle and its furnishings (Exodus 36:4). The word was also used to describe the work of the craftsmen who fashioned an idol in Isaiah 40:20, where it is translated cunning. The word appears 46 times in Proverbs and refers to one who is skilled in applying the word of God in all areas of life. So a wise king is one skilled in mastery of the art of ruling well and maintaining justice in the fear of the Lord and according to his word.

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Proverbs 18:5

It is not good to accept the person of the wicked, to overthrow the righteous in judgment.
– Proverbs 18:5

This proverb refers to the perverting of justice by showing partiality. Such miscarrying of justice is forbidden by the law and by wisdom (Deuteronomy 1:16-17; Proverbs 17:26; 28:21). Accepting bribes (Deuteronomy 16:19), showing favoritism to a class (Leviticus 19:15), and oppressing the vulnerable (Deuteronomy 24:14; Leviticus 19:33-34) can pervert Justice.

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Proverbs 18:3

When the wicked cometh, then cometh also contempt, and with ignominy reproach.
– Proverbs 18:3

The word for wicked means wicked one, or a morally bad person. The word for contempt means despising. It is an attitude born of pride that looks upon others as beneath oneself. The word for ignominy means shame, or intense disgrace. The word for reproach means scorn, or public shame. The key is the word for cometh, which means to enter, or to come in. When a wicked one comes in, he brings contempt, shame, and reproach. Solomon later instructs to cast out such and have peace (Proverbs 22:10).

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Proverbs 17:8

A gift is as a precious stone in the eyes of him that hath it: whithersoever it turneth, it prospereth.
– Proverbs 17:8

The word for gift means bribe, or reward, and it is mostly negative in the Old Testament usage. The word for precious means favor, or charm. It describes a stone that is seen as some charm of favor, or magic charm. The second phrase describes the one who uses it as prospering wherever he turns his bribe. The proverb describes the short term success of the palm greaser. Using bribes can range on the scale of wickedness, but it is always wicked to do so (Proverbs 17:23). God’s righteousness is described as never taking bribes (Deuteronomy 10:17). The law, which demands holiness like God’s holiness, forbids the giving or taking of bribes (Exodus 23:8; Deuteronomy 16:19; 27:25).

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Proverbs 17:4

A wicked doer giveth heed to false lips; and a liar giveth ear to a naughty tongue.
– Proverbs 17:4

Evil speech can be anywhere from slanderous to plotting and is here represented by false lips and a naughty tongue. This proverb isn’t so much about evil speech as it is about those who listen and delight in hearing it. For evil speech to spread, it has to have a ready ear (Proverbs 26:20). Delighting in bad talk reveals the hearer as bad also. The word for wicked doer means a spoiler, or destroyer. The word liar indicates a habitual liar. The law forbid taking part in talebearing, whether as a spreader or hearer (Leviticus 19:16-17).

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Proverbs 16:12

It is an abomination to kings to commit wickedness: for the throne is established by righteousness.
– Proverbs 16:12

The level of authority and responsibility a person has magnifies the severity of their sins (Luke 12:47-48). On the one hand, even good works can become abominable when mixed with the embrace of folly (Proverbs 28:9). Kings are in a special place of responsibility and accountability before God. They must be careful not to follow the counsel of the ungodly (Proverbs 20:18; 25:5). The word for righteousness means justice and is explained as “faithfully judgeth the poor” in a similar proverb (Proverbs 29:14). Bearing authority with wisdom means upholding justice (Deuteronomy 1:17; 16:19; Proverbs 24:23; 28:21).

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Proverbs 16:4

The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.
– Proverbs 16:4

This proverb is an advanced piece of theology pertaining to the sovereignty of God over his creation. The word for himself is the same as in verse 1 that was translated answer. The first statement reveals Yahweh has made everything and everything is made for his purpose (Romans 11:36; Revelation 4:11). The day of evil, or trouble, speaks of judgment. The wicked will come to their deserved end and even this is by God’s purpose and for his glory (Job 21:30; Romans 9:21-22). The depth of theology here is beyond the scope of a brief commentary. God has a will and purpose from beginning to end for his creation from before the foundation of the world (Isaiah 46:9-10; Ephesians 1:9-11). All of history is moving toward God’s designed end and this proverb emphasizes that the rebellion of the wicked and their rejection of his revealed will do not thwart his purpose (Daniel 4:35). Asaph wrote that even man’s wrath praises God and all else is restrained by God (Psalm 76:10).

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Proverbs 15:29

The LORD is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous.
– Proverbs 15:29

Being far is contrasted with hearing prayer. The wicked go their own way, so God does not hear their cries (Proverbs 28:9; Psalm 34:16). The righteous walk in the way of wisdom that is pleasing to God. He is near to them and hears their prayers (Proverbs 15:8). The subject of prayer is infrequent in Proverbs.

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Proverbs 15:28

The heart of the righteous studieth to answer: but the mouth of the wicked poureth our evil things.
– Proverbs 15:28

This proverb is similar to Proverbs 15:2, but that one speaks of wise and fools and this speaks of the righteous and the wicked. The terms are not technically synonymous, but can be used for one another naturally because righteousness is a necessary consequence of wisdom, as wickedness is a necessary consequence of folly. The word for studieth means to meditate or muse. The word for answer means a response. In the first phrase, the reply of wisdom comes from the heart, or the mind. Put simply, the wise think before they speak and, therefore, they say better things (Proverbs 15:2; 16:23). By contrast, the wicked answer with their mouth rather than their mind. The word for poureth means to gush forth. Fools are quick to pour out their thoughtless opinions (Proverbs 10:19; 13:16; 29:11, 20; Ecclesiastes 10:12-14).

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