Proverbs 11:1 ¶ A false balance is abomination to the LORD: but a just weight is his delight.
Weights and balances are part of ensuring fair business transactions. Wicked men use false balances or weights to cheat the buyer. The LORD is disgusted by such actions. He delights in those who conduct business with integrity. I’m sure Solomon is again referencing the words of Moses.
Deuteronomy 25:13–15 “Thou shalt not have in thy bag divers weights, a great and a small. Thou shalt not have in thine house divers measures, a great and a small. But thou shalt have a perfect and just weight, a perfect and just measure shalt thou have: that thy days may be lengthened in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.”
Proverbs 11:2 ¶ When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.
This verse immediately brought to mind a verse in chapter 16: “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” Arrogance and pride bring shame and dishonor. One who is humble is wise.
EBC Abridged: "“Pride” is literally a boiling up; thus an overstepping of the boundaries and insubordination is meant. The proud are inflated to the level of self-bestowed divinity; they will have their egos deflated.”
Proverbs 11:3 ¶ The integrity of the upright shall guide them: but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them.
The honesty of an upright, godly man governs his actions. The dishonest actions of those who have rejected God’s law will destroy them. Context implies that the actions of the upright lead to life, and scripture affirms that truth.
Psalm 36:7&9 “How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings….For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light.”
Romans 8:6 “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”
Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Proverbs 11:4 ¶ Riches profit not in the day of wrath: but righteousness delivereth from death.
The day of wrath is the day of God’s anger, the day when God judges. No matter how wealthy you may be, you can’t bribe God. Only righteousness can deliver one from from a sentence of condemnation and death. Scripture is clear that none are righteous.
Romans 3:10 “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one….”
Only through faith in Jesus can one be clothed in the righteousness of God in Jesus.
2 Corinthians 5:21 “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
The Old Testament saints are clothed in this righteousness just as surely as New Testament saints. Faith in God is the key. The Old Testament saints were saved by faith just as surely as are we New Testament saints. When Jesus died on the cross, He paid for the sins of all men of all times.
Romans 4:3 “For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.”
Romans 4:20–24 “He [Abraham] staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead….”
Romans 5:18–19 “Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.”
Proverbs 11:5 ¶ The righteousness of the perfect shall direct his way: but the wicked shall fall by his own wickedness.
Proverbs 11:6 The righteousness of the upright shall deliver them: but transgressors shall be taken in their own naughtiness.
The righteousness of a man with moral integrity will keep him straight, in alignment with God’s will, and will deliver him from God’s judgment. The wicked actions of a wicked man will result in his downfall and cause him to perish.
As I read these verses, I thought of others spoken by Jesus that go hand-in-hand with these.
Matthew 7:13–14 “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”
Proverbs 11:7 ¶ When a wicked man dieth, his expectation shall perish: and the hope of unjust men perisheth.
I liked the CJB for this verse: “When a wicked man dies, his hope perishes; what he hopes for from evil comes to nothing.”
It reminds me of the saying, “You can’t take it with you.” Paul advised Timothy accordingly.
1 Timothy 6:7 “For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.”
Proverbs 11:8 ¶ The righteous is delivered out of trouble, and the wicked cometh in his stead.
The righteous man is strengthened and prepared (from Hebrew for “delivered”) to avoid despair and/or endure trouble. The wicked, however, will be brought down by trouble.
Guzik: “For the righteous, this life is the worst trouble they will ever experience. For the wicked, their greatest trouble is yet to come.”
Ironsides: “The path of righteousness leads to endless glory; the way of lawlessness ends in sorrow and woe. He who seeks to ensnare the upright will fall into the meshes of his own trap. The entire book of Esther is one of the best examples of the instruction of this section. Daniel’s experience with his accusers, as noted earlier, emphasizes the same principle. God’s retributive justice is swift and sure. It is futile to seek to change His holy and righteous administration.
Proverbs 11:9 ¶ An hypocrite with his mouth destroyeth his neighbour: but through knowledge shall the just be delivered.
“Hypocrite” refers to one who is soiled morally and has no reverence for God; he is deceitful. He can ruin a person’s reputation by spreading lies. Knowledge (as found in God’s word is the context) will strengthen the just and deliver him.
Those who have rejected the LORD and His word take great delight in trying to ruin those that publicly declare their faith in the LORD and try to live in obedience to His word. This is becoming ever more an evident part of the culture in America today. The true man/woman of faith will find strength in their faith in God and the truth of His word to carry them through the troubles caused by such slander. Theirs will be the victory in the end. I am reminded of the words of Jesus.
John 16:33 “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
Proverbs 11:10 ¶ When it goeth well with the righteous, the city rejoiceth: and when the wicked perish, there is shouting.
Proverbs 11:11 By the blessing of the upright the city is exalted: but it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked.
These verses are spoken with the assumption that the people of the city as a whole worship the LORD, as they did in Solomon’s reign (at least for the first part). When godly men prosper with God’s blessing, it causes the people of the city to rejoice and brings honor to the city. They rejoice when the wicked are destroyed. A city’s honor can be destroyed through the evil deceit and propaganda of the wicked.
This actually serves to testify to the spiritual health of a city or nation. Once the people vilify the success and prosperity of the righteous and applaud the success and prosperity of the wicked, it is a sad indicator revealing the spiritual depravity of that city or nation. It grieves me to say that America is transitioning to just such a nation.
Proverbs 11:12 ¶ He that is void of wisdom despiseth his neighbour: but a man of understanding holdeth his peace.
Proverbs 11:13 A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter.
Only a person lacking wisdom, who does not reverence God, will spread tales or reveal secrets about his neighbor (brother, companion, friend, husband). A wise person, however, will hold his tongue; a true friend will keep your secrets.
Clarke: “A foolish man is generally abundant in his censures; he dwells on the defects of his neighbor, and is sure to bring them into the most prominent view. But a man of understanding - a prudent, sensible man, hides those defects wherever he can, and puts the most charitable construction on those which he cannot conceal.”
Chuck Smith (beautiful insight - 4 paragraphs): “There is an instructive word in this connection in Exodus 37:17-24. These verses relate to the making of the candlestick, or lampstand, for the tabernacle. Among the accessories to it, Moses ‘made his seven lamps, and his snuffers, and his snuffdishes, of pure gold’ (23). There is something here that is intensely interesting and precious when applied to the subject of tale-bearing.
No lamp will burn well for long without occasional snuffing. God has made provision even for such an apparently insignificant matter as this. It might not seem important how a light was snuffed and what was done with the black snuff afterwards. But in God’s eye nothing is trivial that concerns the glory of His Son or the welfare of His people.
The snuffers were made of pure gold-that which symbolizes divine glory and perfect righteousness. It may often happen that some saint of God is losing his brightness and no longer shining for Him as he once did. The priest with the golden tongs is entrusted with the delicate task of trimming the charred end of the candlestick. ‘Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted’ (Galatians 6:1). In this way the ‘snuffing’ of evil is accomplished God’s way and the restored brother’s light burns all the brighter.
Is the evil then to be spread abroad and made a matter of common knowledge? There were not only the snuffers, but the snuff-dishes, which were also made of pure gold. The priest was to put carefully the black, dirty snuff which he had removed from the wick in these golden receptacles. To have spread the filth on the spotless garments of other priests would have been to defile them all. It must be hidden away in the presence of God! Is not this where we often fail?”
Proverbs 11:14 ¶ Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.
Other translations vary, but all are in line with the Hebrew.
NIV: “For lack of guidance a nation falls, but many advisers make victory sure.”
CJB: “Without clever tactics an army is defeated, and victory comes from much planning.”
This proverb assumes that such counsel aligns with the word of God and the counsellors are men who honor God.
Ironsides: “Even the wisest and godliest are often given to blunders and errors of discernment. No one is infallible. To weigh a matter in the presence of God and to invite the spiritual counsel of those who are able to discern differences is the course of wisdom.”
Proverbs 11:15 ¶ He that is surety for a stranger shall smart for it: and he that hateth suretiship is sure.
I think the NLT expresses it well: “Guaranteeing a loan for a stranger is dangerous; it is better to refuse than to suffer later.”
It is understandable to want to help family or a close friend, especially if they are of good character. A stranger, however, is an unknown. There is great likelihood of getting stuck with their debt.
Beautiful observation from Ironsides: “He [Jesus] fully proved the truth of the words of Proverbs 11:15 when He endured that cross of shame. How He had to suffer when God‘s awful judgment against sin fell on Him! But He wavered not. In love to God and to the strangers whose surety He had become, He ‘endured the cross, despising the shame’ (Hebrews 12:2).”
Proverbs 11:16 ¶ A gracious woman retaineth honour: and strong men retain riches.
Proverbs 11:17 ¶ The merciful man doeth good to his own soul: but he that is cruel troubleth his own flesh.
A gracious, kind woman is honored and respected. Powerful, tyrannical men are only wealthy—implied, having no honor or respect. The merciful, kind man benefits himself. The cruel man (with his ill-gotten gains) brings trouble upon himself.
As I noted in the first chapter, these proverbs apply to both men and women. I think Solomon specifically mentions the woman from time to time to emphasize this truth.
Guzik used an interesting quote from Morgan: “The method of this proverb is of comparison rather than of contrast, the idea being that a ‘gracious woman’ will defend honor with the same strength and persistency as ‘violent men,’ or ‘strong men,’ as the Authorized Version had it, will retain riches. The word ‘violent’ here suggests evil rather than good.”
Proverbs 11:18 ¶ The wicked worketh a deceitful work: but to him that soweth righteousness shall be a sure reward.
I think the NLT expresses the idea well: “Evil people get rich for the moment, but the reward of the godly will last.”
As mentioned in the comments on verse 7, we can take nothing of material wealth out of this world. However, spiritual treasure earned by honoring God with our actions will be ours for eternity.
Matthew 6:20 “But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal….”
Proverbs 11:19 ¶ As righteousness tendeth to life: so he that pursueth evil pursueth it to his own death.
The righteous man will inherit eternal life; the man that pursues evil will suffer eternal condemnation.
Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
2 Thessalonians 1:7–9 “And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power….”
Proverbs 11:20 ¶ They that are of a froward heart are abomination to the LORD: but such as are upright in their way are his delight.
One with a froward heart has purposely rejected the LORD and His laws; such people disgust Him. He delights in those who live with integrity and seek to obey Him.
Proverbs 11:21 ¶ Though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not be unpunished: but the seed of the righteous shall be delivered.
Hand-in-hand implies that the following truths are sure. The wicked will not go unpunished, and the righteous will be delivered from this wicked world. I almost overlooked the reference to the children of the righteous. Though each person is responsible to make the choice to follow God in faith and obedience, those that have godly parents are more likely to choose to follow in the footsteps of their parents.
Proverbs 11:22 ¶ As a jewel of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a fair woman which is without discretion.
This verse paints a pretty clear word picture. To see a woman that is beautiful but lacks wisdom as evidenced by proper behavior and self-control is like looking at a precious jewel in a pig’s nose. It reminds me of the truth that true beauty shines from within.
1 Peter 3:1–4 “Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.”
Proverbs 11:23 ¶ The desire of the righteous is only good: but the expectation of the wicked is wrath.
This verse contrasts the desire of one who is righteous and honors God and one who is wicked and rejects God. The righteous man will only desire what is good (according to God’s word); the wicked man is filled with longing for all that goes against God’s word.
Proverbs 11:24 ¶ There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty.
Proverbs 11:25 ¶ The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself.
I like the CJB for these verses: “Some give freely and still get richer, while others are stingy but grow still poorer. The person who blesses others will prosper; he who satisfies others will be satisfied himself.”
These verses remind me of the truth that you can’t outgive the LORD. Whatever we give to others as we seek to serve Him will be richly rewarded.
Malachi 3:10 “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”
Luke 6:38 “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.”
Proverbs 11:26 ¶ He that withholdeth corn, the people shall curse him: but blessing shall be upon the head of him that selleth it.
This seems to be a statement about the evil of selfishness and hoarding when there are so many who could benefit from your willingness to sell your stores and provide for their needs. Many commentaries indicate that the hoarding is for the purpose of pushing up the prices for greater profit.
Great application from Ironsides: “If in this world the curses of the dying will fall on those who refuse to share physical bread, what will be said of him who refuses to share the Bread of life. He has the knowledge of the precious grace of God and yet is quite unconcerned about the need of the vast multitudes who are going on to the second death, the lake of fire. It is not enough to plead that they know but do not heed. The Christian is responsible to warn, to preach, to entreat the lost to be reconciled to God. We are debtors to all men because of the treasure committed to us. Sad indeed will be the accounting for those who live to themselves, withholding that spiritual food which alone can meet the dire need of the spiritually starving. Blessings will be on the head of those who seek to offer to men the free grace of God, as earnestly as businessmen seek to sell their goods.”
Proverbs 11:27 ¶ He that diligently seeketh good procureth favour: but he that seeketh mischief, it shall come unto him.
This is another statement of reaping what you sow. One who earnestly pursues doing good will find favor, both with God and others; one who continually pursues what is wicked and harmful will himself come to grief. Obviously, the moral standard being referenced of what is good and what is mischief is God’s word.
Proverbs 11:28 ¶ He that trusteth in his riches shall fall: but the righteous shall flourish as a branch.
Those who find their security in the riches of this world will perish; however, one who is righteous and places his faith in the LORD will flourish for eternity.
Proverbs 11:29 ¶ He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind: and the fool shall be servant to the wise of heart.
I think this is basically saying that if you make trouble for your family, you stand to inherit nothing substantial. The wind is a reference to something that can’t be seen or held; you can only see its effects. One who is foolish and unwise is likely to end up serving those that are wise.
The EBC Abridged certainly gave a different perspective: “An avaricious man deprives his family of livelihood and brings them to nothing but distress. He gains nothing for his efforts, ‘wind’ signifying that which cannot be grasped. The second line suggests that those who foolishly mismanage their accounts may have to sell themselves into slavery to the wise. So the ideas in the verse are complementary.”
Proverbs 11:30 ¶ The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.
The tree of life was a tree in the Garden of Eden. Once Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit of the tree of knowledge, the LORD sent them out of the garden to keep them from eating the fruit of the tree of life. He didn’t want them to live forever in their sinful state; its fruit is connected to everlasting life.
Genesis 3:22–24 “And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.”
Those that produced the spiritual fruit of righteousness in their life will inherit eternal life as represented by that tree and will be able to eat of it freely in the New Jerusalem.
Revelation 22:2 & 14 “In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations….Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.”
One that wins souls, that gets others to follow God in faith and obedience is wise; he is producing spiritual fruit.
Proverbs 11:31 ¶ Behold, the righteous shall be recompensed in the earth: much more the wicked and the sinner.
I had to think about this one for a while. To be recompensed is to receive in accordance with what one has done. Just as surely as they are blessed for their obedience, the righteous will suffer the consequences of their sin . If God oversees such recompense to those that honor Him, how much more will He ensure that those who have rejected Him receive their just due.
Clarke: “The Septuagint, Syrian, and Arabic read this verse as follows: "And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?" And this St, Peter quotes literatim, 1Peter 4:18.…”
1 Peter 4:17-18 “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?”