1 A wise son heeds his father’s instruction,
but a mocker does not listen to rebuke.
2 From the fruit of his lips a man enjoys good things,
but the unfaithful have a craving for violence.
3 He who guards his lips guards his life,
but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.
4 The sluggard craves and gets nothing,
but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.
5 The righteous hate what is false,
but the wicked bring shame and disgrace.
6 Righteousness guards the man of integrity,
but wickedness overthrows the sinner.
7 One man pretends to be rich, yet has nothing;
another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth.
8 A man’s riches may ransom his life,
but a poor man hears no threat.
9 The light of the righteous shines brightly,
but the lamp of the wicked is snuffed out.
10 Pride only breeds quarrels,
but wisdom is found in those who take advice.
11 Dishonest money dwindles away,
but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow.
12 Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.
13 He who scorns instruction will pay for it,
but he who respects a command is rewarded.
14 The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life,
turning a man from the snares of death.
‘What if we have many advantages in our lives but not wisdom? If we have love but not wisdom, we will harm people with the best of intentions. If we have courage but not wisdom, we will blunder boldly. If we have truth but not wisdom, we will make the gospel ugly to other people. If we have technology but not wisdom, we will use the best communications ever invented to broadcast stupidity. If we have revival but not wisdom, we’ll use the power of God to throw the church into reverse gear. Jonathan Edwards wrote during the First Great Awakening, “When the devil finds he can keep men quiet and [complacent] no longer, then he drives them to excesses and extravagances. He holds them back as long as he can; but when he can do it no longer, then he will push them on and, if possible, run them upon their heads.” But wisdom knows how to spread the gospel with no embarrassing regrets.’ (Ortlund)
15 Good understanding wins favor,
but the way of the unfaithful is hard.
16 Every prudent man acts out of knowledge,
but a fool exposes his folly.
17 A wicked messenger falls into trouble,
but a trustworthy envoy brings healing.
18 He who ignores discipline comes to poverty and shame,
but whoever heeds correction is honored.
19 A longing fulfilled is sweet to the soul,
but fools detest turning from evil.
20 He who walks with the wise grows wise,
but a companion of fools suffers harm.
21 Misfortune pursues the sinner,
but prosperity is the reward of the righteous.
As Kidner remarks: ‘Proverbs is concerned with the general rule; Job (e.g. chapter 21) with the exceptions.’
22 A good man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children,
but a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous.
Goodness is essentially healthy, wise and far-sighted. Sin is essentially destructive, foolish, and shortsighted. We may extend the truth of this proverb by remarking that financial inheritance is not the only kind: ‘If there is no earthly substance to leave; yet a church in the house; a family altar; the record of holy example and instruction; and above all, a store of believing prayer laid up for accomplishment, when we shall be silent in the grave – will be an inheritance to our children of inestimable value.’
‘It is part of his praise that he is thoughtful for posterity, that he does not lay all out upon himself, but is in care to do well for those that come after him, not by withholding more than is meet, but by a prudent and decent frugality. He trains up his children to this, that they may leave it to their children.’ (MHC)
Again, we must regard this as a general rule, not a law that applies in every case. Not all good men have any inheritance to leave; or he may have no surviving children to inherit it.
23 A poor man’s field may produce abundant food,
but injustice sweeps it away.
24 He who spares the rod hates his son,
but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.
25 The righteous eat to their hearts’ content,
but the stomach of the wicked goes hungry.