1Better to be poor and walk in integrity
than rich and crooked in one’s ways.a
2Desire without knowledge is not good;
and whoever acts hastily, blunders.*
3Their own folly leads people astray;
in their hearts they rage against the LORD.*
4Wealth adds many friends,
but the poor are left friendless.b
5The false witness will not go unpunished,
and whoever utters lies will not escape.* c
6Many curry favor with a noble;
everybody is a friend of a gift giver.
7All the kin of the poor despise them;
how much more do their friends shun them!*
8Those who gain sense truly love themselves;
those who preserve understanding will find success.*
9The false witness will not go unpunished,
and whoever utters lies will perish.
10Luxury is not befitting a fool;
much less should a slave rule over princes.
11It is good sense to be slow to anger,
and an honor to overlook an offense.*
12The king’s wrath is like the roar of a lion,
but his favor, like dew on the grass.* d
13The foolish son is ruin to his father,e
and a quarrelsome wife is water constantly dripping.*
14Home and possessions are an inheritance from parents,
but a prudent wife is from the LORD.f
15Laziness brings on deep sleep,
and the sluggard goes hungry.g
16Those who keep commands keep their lives,
but those who despise these ways will die.h
17Whoever cares for the poor lends to the LORD,i
who will pay back the sum in full.
18Discipline your son, for there is hope;
but do not be intent on his death.* j
19A wrathful person bears the penalty;
after one rescue, you will have it to do again.
20Listen to counsel and receive instruction,
that you may eventually become wise.
21Many are the plans of the human heart,
but it is the decision of the LORD that endures.k
22What is desired of a person is fidelity;
rather be poor than a liar.*
23The fear of the LORD leads to life;
one eats and sleeps free from any harm.
24The sluggard buries a hand in the dish;
not even lifting it to the mouth.l
25Beat a scoffer and the naive learn a lesson;
rebuke the intelligent and they gain knowledge.m
26Whoever mistreats a father or drives away a mother,
is a shameless and disgraceful child.* n
27My son, stop attending to correction;
start straying from words of knowledge.*
28An unprincipled witness scoffs at justice,
and the mouth of the wicked pours out iniquity.
29Rods are prepared for scoffers,
and blows for the backs of fools.o
* [19:2] When not guided by wisdom, appetite—or desire—is not good. “Running feet” (so the Hebrew) miss the mark, i.e., do not reach their destination.
* [19:3] One’s own folly destroys one’s life. It is an indication of that folly that one blames God rather than oneself.
* [19:5] The punishment fits the crime: those who abuse the legal system will be punished by the same system. They will not be acquitted.
* [19:7] Closely related to vv. 4 and 6. An observation, not without sympathy, on the social isolation of poor people.
* [19:8] Wisdom benefits the one who practices it.
* [19:11] The paradox is that one obtains one thing by giving up another.
* [19:12] An observation on the exercise of royal power. Both images suggest royal attitudes are beyond human control. Colon A is a variant of 20:2a and colon B of 16:15b.
* [19:13] One of many sayings about domestic happiness. The perspective is male; the two greatest pains to a father is a malicious son and an unsuitable wife. The immediately following saying is on the noble wife, perhaps to make a positive statement about women.
* [19:18] The pain of disciplining the young cannot be compared with the danger no discipline may bring. The chief reason for disciplining the young is their capacity to change; excluded thereby are revenge and punishment.
* [19:22] The proverb has been read in two ways: (1) “Desire (greed) is a shame to a person,” which assumes the rare Hebrew word for “shame” is being used; (2) “What is desired in a person is fidelity.” The second interpretation is preferable. The context may be the court: better to forego money (a bribe) than perjure oneself.
* [19:26] Children who disgrace the family equivalently plunder their father’s wealth and expel their mother from the home.
* [19:27] The meaning was disputed even in antiquity. The interpretation that most respects the syntax is to take it as ironic advice as in 22:6: to stop (listening) is to go (wandering).
b. [19:4] Prv 14:20; Sir 13:20–23.
c. [19:5] Dt 19:16–20; Dn 13:61.
i. [19:17] Prv 14:21; 22:9; 28:27.
j. [19:18] Prv 13:24; 23:13–14.