Proverbs 22:1 ¶ A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold.
It should be noted that the word “good” was added by the translators, but is appropriate since the Hebrew for “name” includes the thought of a mark of honor and character. It goes hand-in-hand with one who is known for being gracious and kind (from Hebrew for “favor”). To be known as one possessing character, honor and kindness is far more valuable than to possess material wealth. Such value will earn one eternal rewards, while earthly wealth is temporary and beneficial only in this life.
Ironside: “No name is more lasting and enduring than that won by him who lives for God and considers all that earth has to offer as worthless for the sake of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Proverbs 22:2 ¶ The rich and poor meet together: the LORD is the maker of them all.
“Meet together” is a term expressing having something in common. It is a fact that the LORD is the maker of both rich and poor. At first, I thought this to be a reference to God as Creator of all—which is a true statement. However the Hebrew focuses on God’s power and authority in appointing each person’s place in life. It is the LORD that has sovereignty over one’s future. I believe each person has a purpose in God’s overall plan and is given a position in life in accordance with that plan. It doesn’t make one person more valuable before the LORD than another. As the old saying rightly says, “The ground is level at the foot of the cross.”
I think it is necessary to note that each person’s part in God’s plan is rooted in His foreknowledge. He did not appoint salvation for only a few; He died for all.
1 John 2:1–2 “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”
propitiation = atonement, the appeasement for divine justice that reconciles us in relationship to God
1 Timothy 2:5–6 “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all….”
Sadly, the plan of redemption was made necessary because of man’s choice to rebel against the LORD. Those that He knew would choose to reject Him were appointed a purpose in accordance with that choice.
Psalm 147:5 “Great is our Lord, and of great power: His understanding is infinite.”
Proverbs 22:3 ¶ A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished.
I liked the NLT: “A prudent person foresees the danger ahead and takes precautions; the simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.”
A prudent person is wise, careful, and sensible. The principle in this verse has so many practical applications in life. Because of my interest in the study of prophecy, I see special application regarding being able to correctly apply scripture to the future and the foretold evil to come. God has given us a prophetic outline that should make us wake up and take notice of events that are unfolding right before our very eyes. We should boldly be declaring the gospel in hopes that more people will choose to take refuge in the gift of salvation and avoid the terrible times that are soon to come.
Proverbs 22:4 ¶ By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, and honour, and life.
Humility is recognizing our unworthiness before the LORD and is a direct result of our reverence for Him. When we live in humility before the LORD, it may not always lead to riches, honor and health in this lifetime—but it certainly will in the life to come that is ours in Jesus.
Romans 8:16–17 “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ….”
1 Peter 1:3–5 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
Proverbs 22:5 ¶ Thorns and snares are in the way of the froward: he that doth keep his soul shall be far from them.
Solomon has referenced the froward many times; a froward person is perverse and has willfully chosen to rebel against the LORD. One who chooses to live in rebellion against the LORD will encounter obstacles and snares that bring him trouble. One who follows the LORD in submission and faith will be able to avoid the pitfalls associated with sin.
Proverbs 22:6 ¶ Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
This is a precious scriptural principle claimed as comfort by many Christian parents when their children stray from the spiritual foundations upon which they were raised. The importance of laying those early spiritual foundations cannot be overstated. In fact, the Hebrew for “train up” includes the idea of dedication; we should be dedicated to training up our children to love and obey the LORD. Such training necessarily includes teaching them scripture. The LORD has promised that His word will not return to Him void. The seeds of scripture planted in young hearts will result in a harvest. I think Manasseh, son of the good king Hezekiah, is probably one of the most amazing examples from scripture of this truth.
Isaiah 55:11 “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”
2 Chronicles 33:1–2, 6, 9, 12-13, 16 “Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty and five years in Jerusalem: But did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD….he caused his children to pass through the fire in the valley of the son of Hinnom: also he observed times, and used enchantments, and used witchcraft, and dealt with a familiar spirit, and with wizards: he wrought much evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger….So Manasseh made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to err, and to do worse than the heathen, whom the LORD had destroyed before the children of Israel….when he was in affliction, he besought the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, And prayed unto him: and he was intreated of him, and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD he was God….And he repaired the altar of the LORD, and sacrificed thereon peace offerings and thank offerings, and commanded Judah to serve the LORD God of Israel.”
If, however, parents do not example what they teach, it will result in a snare to the child. They are quick to recognize a hypocrite. As the old saying goes, “Actions speak louder than words.”
Proverbs 22:7 ¶ The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.
Solomon is saying that riches are a means of exerting power over the poor—-for good or for bad. In the same way, one who lends to another has leverage over the one to whom he lends. These are principles one observes in every day life.
Henry: “The rich rule over the poor, and too often more than becomes them, with pride and rigour, unlike to God, who, though he be great, yet despises not any.”
Ironside: “The Christian should fear debt and flee from it, realizing that it is the effort of the enemy to undermine his peace and destroy his sense of dependence on the Lord.”
Proverbs 22:8 ¶ He that soweth iniquity shall reap vanity: and the rod of his anger shall fail.
The Hebrew for “vanity” includes the idea of trouble, wickedness, affliction, and sorrow. Acting in wickedness is compared to planting seeds in the ground. One who acts in wickedness can expect to reap the evil fruit of his actions—if not in this life, certainly in the next. His rod of anger, his power to do evil will one day be brought to an end.
This is one of the principles or truths that is sometimes hard to process. We want to see justice now. We don’t like to see the wicked seem to be getting away with their wickedness. As followers of Jesus, we need to trust in the LORD’s sovereignty to accomplish justice. How blessed we are as true followers of the LORD to know that we are justified before the Father because of the gift of salvation that is ours in Jesus!
Proverbs 22:9 ¶ He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed; for he giveth of his bread to the poor.
Solomon declares that one who is generous toward the poor will be blessed. One who provides for the poor mirrors the heart of the LORD. I am reminded of the following verses.
2 Corinthians 9:6 “But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.”
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.”
Clarke: “…the bountiful eye means the bountiful heart; for the heart looks through the eye.”
Proverbs 22:10 ¶ Cast out the scorner, and contention shall go out; yea, strife and reproach shall cease.
One who is scornful is full of contempt and mocks the things of the LORD. Such a person infects others with his attitude. If you get rid of the scorner, you get rid of the source of the discord and confusion he causes.
Proverbs 22:11 ¶ He that loveth pureness of heart, for the grace of his lips the king shall be his friend.
This proverb asserts that the king will be the friend of one who loves moral purity and speaks with kindness. Again, this is a principle assuming a godly king.
How sad that there are almost no godly kings in our world today! Moral purity as established by the word of God is no longer of high regard; moral impurity is more and more celebrated throughout our world.
Proverbs 22:12 ¶ The eyes of the LORD preserve knowledge, and he overthroweth the words of the transgressor.
I think Solomon is saying that the LORD is ever vigilant to guard the truth. He will ensure that the words of the transgressor, one who is deceitful and tries to pervert the truth, are revealed as the lies they are.
Proverbs 22:13 ¶ The slothful man saith, There is a lion without, I shall be slain in the streets.
I think the NLT expresses the heart of this verse well: “The lazy person is full of excuses, saying, ‘If I go outside, I might meet a lion in the street and be killed!’”
One who is slothful will make up any excuse to avoid an honest day’s work.
I liked Henry’s comment on this verse: “He talks of a lion without, but considers not his real danger from the devil, that roaring lion, which is in bed with him, and from his own slothfulness, which kills him.”
1 Peter 5:8 “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour….”
Proverbs 22:14 ¶ The mouth of strange women is a deep pit: he that is abhorred of the LORD shall fall therein.
Solomon is warning his sons yet again about the dangers of falling for the lures of an adulterous woman that often come in the form of flattering words. This time, however, he connects that sin as occurring in consequence of the LORD’s anger towards you. So how does one incur the LORD’s anger? By rejecting both Him and His word as having any authority in your life. By choosing to go your own way in open defiance before Him.
Proverbs 22:15 ¶ Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.
One who is foolish is one who has no understanding or is weak in intellect. The hearts of children are foolish and require training. In fact, children are born with a sin nature, a tendency to sin. One effective means of training a child is through use of the rod of correction—not the rod of beating. The rod of correction is exercised in love with the intent to improve behavior and impress upon the child what is acceptable behavior. Beating a child in anger is harmful; it only proves that the one using the rod is foolish and has no understanding of the heart of God in this respect. Fathers in particular should remember that children will relate to God as their father in part by how you “father” them.
Proverbs 22:16 ¶ He that oppresseth the poor to increase his riches, and he that giveth to the rich, shall surely come to want.
Those who take advantage of the poor to attain their wealth will come to poverty just as surely as those that try to bribe the rich with gifts. Again, this is always true from a spiritual perspective. Sometimes in this life, one may profit from such schemes temporarily; but he will certainly suffer the consequences in the life to come.
Proverbs 22:17 ¶ Bow down thine ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply thine heart unto my knowledge.
Proverbs 22:18 For it is a pleasant thing if thou keep them within thee; they shall withal be fitted in thy lips.
Proverbs 22:19 That thy trust may be in the LORD, I have made known to thee this day, even to thee.
Proverbs 22:20 Have not I written to thee excellent things in counsels and knowledge,
Proverbs 22:21 That I might make thee know the certainty of the words of truth; that thou mightest answer the words of truth to them that send unto thee?
An instructive note from Chuck Smith at this point: “Now at this point, the whole thing of the Proverbs begin to change a bit. We’ve had proverbs for a long period that more or less are isolated singly and stand alone. Sometimes you have a couplet, two of them together. But now the whole procedure of the Proverbs change, and we now have longer proverbs. That is, they take two, three, four verses in the proverbs that we now follow. You’ll notice this definite change, and rather than just little four-liners, they now expand on a particular thought.”
In this group of verses, Solomon is taking a moment to encourage his sons to take to heart the truths of God’s word that he is teaching and apply them to their lives. He wants them to be prepared to give an answer as to why they believe what they believe, why they live according to these principles. He is very clear in stating that his purpose in teaching them is to provide a firm foundation for their trust in the LORD. He wants them to understand that God’s word is truth. Anything that denies or contradicts the word of God is not truth. God’s word is the standard upon which all truth and morality is determined.
By asking them to bow down and hear, he is recognizing that it takes desire and effort on the part of the student to learn. It should be a delight to them to hide these words in their heart (“within thee”) and equip themselves to share God’s truth with others. The more of God’s word we hide in our hearts, the more readily will His words of promise, comfort, encouragement and strength come to mind when we are most in need.
The word “excellent” makes reference to the highest rank and, interestingly, to thirds. I thought that was especially interesting in reference to the truth of God’s word, knowing God is a triune being.
Guzik quoting Waltke: “The ear is the exterior organ that receives the information and the heart is the interior organ that directs the whole body.”
Proverbs 22:22 ¶ Rob not the poor, because he is poor: neither oppress the afflicted in the gate:
Proverbs 22:23 For the LORD will plead their cause, and spoil the soul of those that spoiled them.
These verses tell us that we are not to take advantage of the poor and needy; if we do, the LORD will avenge them. This is a truth that is little regarded in the culture of the day—both by individuals and by governments. The poor and needy are most often pawns to be used and abused by the rich and powerful in broadening their power base.
Henry: “It is bad to rob any man, but most absurd to rob the poor, whom we should relieve,--to squeeze those with our power whom we should water with our bounty,--to oppress the afflicted, and so to add affliction to them,--to give judgment against them, and so to patronise those that do rob them, which is as bad as if we robbed them ourselves. Rich men will not suffer themselves to be wronged poor men cannot help themselves, and therefore we ought to be the more careful not to wrong them.”
Proverbs 22:24 ¶ Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go:
Proverbs 22:25 Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul.
These verses go hand-in-hand with those recorded by Paul in his letter to the Corinthians.
1 Corinthians 15:33 “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.”
“communications” - The Greek refers to companionship.
We need to choose our friends and companions carefully. Peer pressure is a strong force, and the flesh is weak. Many a Christian has been ensnared in sin because they ignored this truth. There is a difference in having a presence in social situations that allow one to be a witness and establishing friendships with those of bad reputation. Jesus is the example we should follow. He did not avoid social contact with sinners; in fact, He took advantage of the opportunities that came His way to share God’s truth and His love for the lost. However, His close companions were those that chose to follow Him in faith.
Clarke: “From those with whom we associate we acquire habits, and learn their ways, imbibe their spirit, show their tempers and walk in their steps. We cannot be too choice of our company, for we may soon learn ways that will be a snare to our soul.”
Proverbs 22:26 ¶ Be not thou one of them that strike hands, or of them that are sureties for debts.
Proverbs 22:27 If thou hast nothing to pay, why should he take away thy bed from under thee?
These verses are a warning against serving as a co-signer, a guarantor on a loan for someone else. If they default and you are unable to pay, the creditors will take whatever assets you may have in payment.
Obviously, this is a word of warning—not a command. There are often times that parents or relatives will want to help those they love. Even then, however, one should not commit to more debt than they can readily pay off.
Proverbs 22:28 ¶ Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set.
The NLT states the truth more clearly: “Do not steal your neighbor’s property by moving the ancient boundary markers set up by your ancestors.”
To move the landmark to extend the boundaries of your own land is theft. In Israel, the primary boundaries for families were established when they took possession of the Promised Land. Moses warned the people of this very truth before he died; in fact, he declared a curse against anyone that did such.
Deuteronomy 19:14 “Thou shalt not remove thy neighbour’s landmark, which they of old time have set in thine inheritance, which thou shalt inherit in the land that the LORD thy God giveth thee to possess it.”
Deuteronomy 27:17 “Cursed be he that removeth his neighbour’s landmark.”
The principle of this teaching can be applied in other areas concerning the surreptitious abuse of the rights of others.
Ironside made a powerful spiritual application: “In this dispensation of grace the allotment of God’s people is heavenly, not earthly. Our inheritance is in the precious truth which He has committed to us. To remove the landmarks-the great distinguishing doctrines of Scripture-will be to incur the divine displeasure. Yet, unfortunately, many supposedly learned doctors are engaged in that wretched business today. No truth of Scripture is too sacred for their irreverent handling. Precious truths like those of atonement and justification by faith-even the mystery of the Holy Trinity and the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ-are, in their eyes, but common ideas, which they may dismiss or ignore as they please. But a day of reckoning is coming, when God will judge them in righteousness; and those who have been misled by their removal of ancient and venerable landmarks of God’s Word will curse them for the loss of their souls. Terrible will be the accounting of men who, while posing as instructors of the flock of Christ, have all the while been Satan’s instruments for overthrowing the saving truths of Scripture.”
Proverbs 22:29 ¶ Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.
Solomon is noting that those who prove themselves diligent and skillful in their work are those most likely to be chosen to serve the king or other high profile positions.
Ironside: “The faithful life of Daniel is a good example of this godly diligence. He was a man who, whatever the changes of government, always came to the front, standing before kings.”
As Christians, we should do everything “as unto the LORD.” This means that we should be diligent in everything we do. His reward will be of far greater worth than any reward we may receive in this lifetime in light of our achievement.
Colossians 3:23–24 “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.”