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Jamieson, Fausset & Brown :: Commentary on Proverbs 20

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The Book of Proverbs

Commentary by A. R. FAUSSET


Pro 20:1-30.

      1. mocker--scorner. Such men are made by wine.
      strong drink--made by spicing wine (compare Isa 5:11, 22 ); and it may include wine.
      raging--or boisterous as a drunkard.
      deceived--literally, "erring," or reeling.

      2. (Compare Pro 19:12 ). Men who resist authority injure themselves ( Rom 13:2 ).

      3. to cease from strife--or, better, "to dwell from or without strife," denoting the habit of life.
      fool. . . meddling-- ( Pro 17:14 ).

      4. shall. . . beg--literally, "ask" (in this sense, Psa 109:10 ).

      5. Counsel. . . water--that is, deeply hidden ( Pro 18:4 Psa 13:2 ). The wise can discern well.

      6. Boasters are unreliable.
      goodness--or, "kind disposition."

      7. The conduct of good men proclaims their sound principles. God's covenant and their good example secure blessing to their children ( Pro 4:26 Psa 112:1, 2 ).

      8. As in Pro 14:35 16:10, 15, this is the character of a good king, not of all kings.

      9. The interrogation in the affirmative strengthens the implied negation (compare Job 15:14 Ecc 7:20 ).

      10. Various measures, implying that some are wrong (compare Pro 11:1 16:11 ).

      11. The conduct of children even is the best test of principle (compare Mat 7:16 ).

      12. Hence, of course, God will know all you do ( Psa 94:9 ).

      13. Activity and diligence contrasted with sloth ( Pro 6:9 10:11 ).
      lest. . . poverty--literally, "be deprived of inheritance."

      14. when. . . his way--implying that he goes about boasting of his bargains.

      15. The contrast denotes the greater value of knowledge (compare Pro 3:14-16 ).

      16. Take his garment--implies severe exaction, justified by the surety's rashness.
      a strange woman--by some readings "strangers," but the former here, and in Pro 27:13, is allowable, and strengthens the sense. The debauchee is less reliable than the merely careless.

      17. Bread. . . sweet--either as unlawfully ( Pro 9:17 ) or easily obtained.
      mouth. . . gravel--well expresses the pain and grief given at last.

      18. (Compare Pro 15:22 ). Be careful and considerate in important plans.

      19. Those who love to tell news will hardly keep secrets.
      flattereth. . . lips--(compare Margin; Pro 1:10 ).
      meddle. . . him--literally, "join," or "associate with."

      20. his lamp--(Compare Pro 13:9 24:20 ).

      21. gotten hastily--contrary to God's providence ( Pro 28:20 ), implying its unjust or easy attainment; hence the man is punished, or spends freely what he got easily (compare Pro 20:17 ).

      22. (Compare Psa 27:14 Rom 12:17-19 ).

      23. (Compare Pro 20:10 11:1 ).

      24. Man's goings--literally, "Stately steppings of a strong man."
      a man--any common man.
      understand--or, "perceive."

      25. devoureth. . . holy--or, better, "who rashly speaks promises," or "devotes what is holy," consecrating any thing. This suits better the last clause, which expresses a similar view of the results of rashly vowing.

      26. (Compare Pro 20:8 ).
      bringeth. . . over them--The wheel was used for threshing grain. The figure denotes severity (compare Amo 1:3 ).

      27. The spirit. . . Lord--Men's minds are God's gifts, and thus able to search one another (compare Pro 20:5 Pro 18:8, 17 1Cr 2:11 ).

      28. (Compare Pro 3:3 16:6, 12 ).

      29. The glory of young men. . . the beauty of old men--Each age has its peculiar excellence ( Pro 16:31 ).

      30. blueness--literally, "joining," the process of uniting the edges of a wound throws off purulent matter.
      stripes. . . belly--So punishment provides healing of soul ( Pro 18:8 ), by deterring from evil courses.


The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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