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Ray Ortlund: Why are we studying the Book of Proverbs?  Because we need more than ethical principles.  We need new hearts.  We need wisdom deep within, at an intuitive level, as we hurry from one complex decision to the next, moment by moment, in the concrete realities of our daily lives.  Without God’s wisdom, many difficulties in life will remain confusing and threatening.  With God’s wisdom entering our hearts, we get the hang of how life really works, and we come alive more and more. . .

Proverbs 3 explains why wisdom matters and what wisdom creates.  Wisdom matters, according to verses 13-26, because wisdom is the open secret of the universe.  It is not a private option, take it or leave it.  Wisdom is how life works.  We can disregard that for a while and get away with it, because God built everything so well.  But we want the last chapter of our stories to be the best, don’t we?  So wisdom matters.  Wisdom also creates something, according to verses 27-35.  Wisdom creates a culture of life amid this culture of death called our world.  Wisdom is a community experience.  It is a shared experience of life in its fullness.

Paul Koptak: The teaching of this chapter urges its readers and hearers to give up their fantasies of self-determination and self-sufficiency and turn to wisdom, a guide and protector from the real danger of self-destruction. . .

Proverbs 3 is constructed as a series of three instructions, each marked by the address “my son” (3:1, 11, 21). The most outstanding feature of these instructions is the list of five admonitions in the first (3:1–10) and the list of five prohibitions in the last (3:27–31). For this reason, many commentators find only two instructions, setting 3:13–20 apart as a hymn or interlude.  In my judgment, the distinctive character of the texts featuring personified Wisdom does not necessarily determine rhetorical structure. While it is true that “my son” does not always mark a new section in Proverbs, there are other indicators that a three-part division is the intended design here. Each address is followed by an admonition beginning with “do not.” Moreover, the name of “the LORD” (Yahweh) occurs nine times in this chapter, three times in each of the divisions.  An outline of the chapter based on a threefold division looks like this:

Five Admonitions: “Do not forget my teaching” (3:1–10)

Blessings of Wisdom: “Do not despise the LORD’s discipline” (3:11–20)

Five Prohibitions: “Do not let sound judgment and discernment out of your sight” (3:21–35)

This structure directs the reader to pay close attention to the prominence given to the name of Yahweh. Yahweh is to be trusted, feared, and honored (3:1–10), Yahweh disciplines and creates (3:11–20), and Yahweh looks after those who walk in his way, opposing the wicked (3:21–35). In the first section, the admonitions to trust, fear, and honor Yahweh come in direct succession (3:5, 7, 9). In the second and third sections, the name of Yahweh creates a frame around the connected teachings: wisdom’s benefits (3:11–12, 19) and the five teachings of neighbor love (3:26, 32–33).

This outline also helps us observe that the teaching of the parents and the discipline of Yahweh together offer the sound judgment and discernment the young learner will use to relate to the community. Given the focus on right relationship to God in 3:1–10 and right relation to members of the community in 3:21–35, one can see the themes of piety and righteousness from chapter 2 developed here (cf. 3:4, “favor and good name” before God and humans) as well as the theme of “finding” wisdom (2:1–6).

David Hubbard: Scripture Outline

Admonitions to Piety—A (3:1–12)

Keep the commandments 3:1–4

Trust the Lord’s guidance 3:5–8

Honor the Lord’s provision 3:9–10

Accept the Lord’s correction 3:11–12

A Practical Argument for Sagacity (3:13–18)

A Theological Argument for Sagacity (3:19–20)

Admonitions to Piety—B (3:21–26)

Guard wisdom 3:21–24

Don’t fear disaster 3:25–26

Admonitions to Generosity (3:27–32)

General 3:27

Specific 3:28–32

Don’t turn away from a needy neighbor 3:28

Don’t plot against a neighbor 3:29

Don’t be contentious 3:30

Don’t emulate violence 3:31–32

Antithetic Summary (3:33–35)



Tremper Longman: Through admonitions and the promise of reward, the father urges the son to pursue a life of wisdom that entails fear of Yahweh and obedience to his commands. Waltke makes an interesting observation: “In theological terms, the admonitions in the odd verses of 3:1–12 present the obligations of the son, the human covenant partner; the argumentation in the even verses shows the obligations of the Lord, the divine covenant partner. The human partner has the responsibility to keep ethics and piety, and the divine partner the obligation to bless his worshiper with peace, prosperity, and longevity.”

A.  (:1-2) Obey God’s Law in Your Heart

  1. (:1)  The Pointed Exhortation

My son, do not forget my teaching,

But let your heart keep my commandments

David Hubbard: In the first admonition, “keep my commands,” “law” and “command” (v. 1) remind us that the words of the wise were more than opinions or suggestions. They had a binding quality to them because they were based on the teachers’ God-fearing observations of how life under divine control really worked. They were close cousins to the statutes of Moses which the prophets applied regularly to Israel’s covenant relations.

Paul Koptak: The three benefits of long life, prosperity, and good reputation appear at the very start of the first instruction (3:1–4). However, these objects of desire do not come as ends in themselves but as the result of effort in learning wisdom and living wisely. The teacher means to point out the difference. Five admonitions follow on one another, all taking the form of imperative, charge, and motivation. So, for example, following the typical address “my son,” the first admonition charges the son to remember parental teaching by keeping the commands in the heart, then presents the benefits of long life and prosperity (cf. 1:8; Ex. 20:2 may be in mind here). This admonition not only comes first, it serves as an introduction and summary of all that follows. Specific charges are linked to specific aspects of long life and prosperity as the list continues.

The four admonitions that follow each include some mention of God. The last three use the name Yahweh, making the claim that he is to be trusted, feared, and honored. Therefore, each admonition charges the son to give up a self-centered fantasy and replace it with a God-centered reality. Readers too are challenged to hand over the fantasies of:

  • callous independence (3:3–4),
  • self-determination (3:5–6),
  • freedom to make one’s own moral rules (3:7–8),
  • total ownership of goods (3:9–10),
  • and freedom from correction (3:11–12).

Taken together, their message is clear: “You cannot be masters of your own destiny; you cannot be your own gods.”

  1. (:2)  The Promised Blessing

For length of days and years of life, And peace they will add to you.”

Ray Ortlund: The passage [3:1-8] is organized around two themes:

  • the shalom God gives (vv. 1-4)
  • and the trust God demands (vv. 5-8).

That is obvious.  But look more closely.  Do you see how the wise Father links his counsel with incentives all along the way?

Tremper Longman: Peace means more than the absence of strife; it points to a rich and meaningful existence.

B.  (:3-4) Preserve Kindness and Truth in Your Heart

  1. (:3)  The Pointed Exhortation

Do not let kindness and truth leave you;

Bind them around your neck,

Write them on the tablet of your heart.”

Roland Murphy: It is striking that the teaching is now equated with two words that have a rich history — “kindness,” and “fidelity,” have been rendered in various ways, and they can stand for divine (Exod 34:6) as well as human qualities—relations between God and humans and also between humans. In Prov 16:6 the phrase is parallel to “fear of the Lord.” The intensity is indicated by the manner in which the recommendation is expressed: love and fidelity are not to depart from the youth, and they are to be written on the tablet of the heart; cf. Prov 7:3; Deut 30:14; Jer 17:1, and the interiorization in Jer 31:33.

  1. (:4)  The Promised Blessing

“So you will find favor and good repute In the sight of God and man.”

C.  (:5-6) Trust in the Lord’s Sovereign Guidance in Your Heart

  1. (:5-6a)  The Pointed Exhortation

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,

And do not lean on your own understanding. 

In all your ways acknowledge Him

Jonathan Akin: Verses 5 and 7 say you should trust the Lord instead of trusting yourself. One could boil the whole of Proverbs down to this truth. Obedience to the law starts with faith. This is the key to wisdom, as 1:7 already stated. Trust in Yahweh with all your heart and don’t lean on your own understanding. Trust God, not yourself. Foolishness is trusting in your own mind and heart (28:26). Wisdom starts with recognizing that you don’t have it and looking to God in humility for it. The way that seems right to humans ends in death. We think that what is best for us is autonomy and the power to choose what to do with our own lives, but Proverbs says that is suicidal. What seems right to us usually ends up wrecking us.

Paul Koptak: 3:5–6 speak more about guidance in ethical behavior than particular choices such as career or mate. Leaning on one’s own understanding is more than failing to pray about decisions. It is more like being wise in one’s own eyes (3:7), that is, believing that one can determine what is right and wrong without guidance from God and his gift of wisdom.

Charles Bridges: But our trust must not only be complete – it must be exclusive.  No other confidence, no confidence in the flesh, can exist alongside it (Philippians 3:3).  Man with all his pride feels that he wants something to lean on.  As a fallen being, he naturally leans on his own understanding and on himself.  Human power is his idol.  His understanding is his God.  Many people would prefer to have a lack of principle rather than a lack of talent.  This is the history of man from the Fall on; this is the lamentable sin of every person created by God.  Do we need to call this the sin of youth?  How rare it is to see the younger submitting to the elder (1 Peter 5:5).  If advice is sought, is it not just to confirm what has already been decided?

Those who refuse to lean on their own understanding are those who trust in the Lord.  For they are trusting in his divine power and are using it as a lamp, so they can find their way.  The Christian on his knees, as if he throws away his own understanding, confesses that he is completely unable to find the way by himself.  But observe how he behaves.  He takes trouble to improve his mind.  He conscientiously follows its dictates.  In this way practical faith strengthens, not destroys, its power.

So it is our clear duty not to neglect our understanding but to cultivate it diligently.  In a world where knowledge abounds, ignorance is the fruit of laziness.  So lean not on your own understanding.  Trust in the Lord with all your heart.  Self-dependence is foolishness (28:26), rebellion (Jeremiah 2:13; 9:23), and ruin (Genesis 3:5-6; Isaiah 47:10-11).  “The great folly of man in trials,” as Dr. Owen has rightly remarked, “is  leaning to our on his own understanding and counsels.  What is the result of this?  Whenever in our trials we consult our own understanding, listen to our own reason, even though they appear to be good, the principle of living by faith is stifled, and we will in this way be let down by our own counsels.”

  1. (:6b)  The Promised Blessing

And He will make your paths straight.”

Louis Goldberg: A sanctuary is found by trusting in the Lord (3:5a), and the main idea behind the word trust is “to cling to” or “lean upon.”  The wise disciple is the one who, having received a word from the Lord, accepts it and acts upon it as true.  He leans hard upon God; He has cast all his hopes for the present and future upon Him.  Furthermore, this trust must be an experience with the whole heart, one that is completely undivided.

Allen Ross: What these beautiful expressions call for is “absolute obedience and surrender in every realm of life” (Fritsch, IB, 4:799). When obedient faith is present, the Lord will guide the believer along life’s paths in spite of difficulties and hindrances.

Tremper Longman: Flowing specifically from the path metaphor in 6a, knowing God on the paths will keep one’s paths straight. The straight paths are the best, with the least obstacles. These are to be contrasted with the crooked paths, which end in death (9:18).

David Hubbard: [Trust in God] begins with commitment. Nothing less than “with all your heart” (v. 5) is sufficient. Choices, decisions, motives, intentions must all be directed to what God wants and what God can do. “Trust” steps onto the bridge of God’s loving power and leaves the shoreline of our own abilities and ambitions behind. Such belief means literally to “bet your life” on God’s truth and wisdom.

Our trust in God continues with renunciation:

(1)  of our “own understanding” (v. 5), not tempered and not molded by God’s will and guidance;

(2)  of our own wisdom in which it is so easy and so foolish to take pride (v. 7) and, so doing, cancel its effectiveness and expose it not as wisdom but stupidity;

(3)  of “evil” in its many-headed manifestations, but especially, in this context, in its most dangerous form—arrogant self-reliance from which all fear of God is drained (v. 7).

Our trust of God issues in relationship, as the verbs “acknowledge” (v. 6; lit., “know,” “recognize”) and “fear” signal. These are terms of personal bonding which result in changes of behavior. They combine the senses of awe, intimacy, and obligation which mark sound relationships. They suggest that God’s people want to know Him so well that they do His bidding virtually without having to be reminded. The path we walk is marked out (directed, v. 6) by Him, and the power to walk is His gift.

D.  (:7-8) Fear the Lord in Your Heart

  1. (:7)  The Pointed Exhortation

Do not be wise in your own eyes;

Fear the Lord and turn away from evil.”

  1. (:8)  The Promised Blessing

It will be healing to your body, And refreshment to your bones.”

E.  (:9-10) Honor the Lord in Your Giving

(in Your Heart as demonstrated with your wallet)

  1. (:9)  The Pointed Exhortation

Honor the Lord from your wealth,

And from the first of all your produce

Jonathan Akin: Solomon gives one practical example of how inward piety leads to outward obedience to the law. Verse 9 speaks of generosity: honor the Lord with your possessions and your first produce (cf. Lev 23:10; Deut 18:1-5). Again, this is covenantal language (i.e., obedience to the law). Give back to Yahweh out of what he has provided for you. Give the firstfruits; give your best and your first to God, not the leftovers. This means giving should be set out at the top of your budget, not at the bottom “after everything else is covered.” This practice demonstrates gratitude for what God has given and confidence that he will continue to provide (see 2 Cor 8–9).

  1. (:10)  The Promised Blessing

So your barns will be filled with plenty,

And your vats will overflow with new wine.”



A.  (:11-12) Receive the Loving Discipline of Your Heavenly Father

(in Your Heart as demonstrated in your attitude)

  1. (:11)  The Pointed Exhortation

My son, do not reject the discipline of the Lord,

Or loathe His reproof

Paul Koptak: The “My son” and “do not” of 3:11 mark the beginning of a new section, just as they do for 3:1 and 21. In this section there is only one admonition (to welcome Yahweh’s discipline), which is followed by a poem in praise of wisdom’s great worth. The admonition advises the young man to neither despise nor resent Yahweh’s “discipline” (musar) and “rebuke” (tokaḥat), for they are signs of fatherly love. The potential for the son to “despise” and “resent” such teaching stands in stark contrast with the “love” and “delight” with which it is given. Unlike the more tangible motivations of 3:1–10, this one holds out God’s love as a motive in itself. Taken in context with all of the parental instructions of chapters 1–9, the statement becomes a strong reminder that this parental teaching originates in the parental love of Yahweh. His discipline sets in motion a chain of teaching that extends from generation to generation (cf. 4:1–4).

Charles Bridges: Prosperity and adversity are part of our present situation.  Each can honor the Lord.  In prosperity this can be done by consecrating our wealth to the Lord (verses 9-10).  In adversity this can be done by being humble and cheerful in whatever the Lord sends us.  As Bishop Patrick has written, “In prosperity it is well to expect discipline; and if it is the Lord’s pleasure, do not let this make you doubt God’s gracious providence.”  In no other way does the Lord act more like a father toward us than in this.  It is wonderful to be addressed as my son at any time, but most of all when we experience the Lord’s discipline.

  1. (:12)  The Promised Blessing

For whom the Lord loves He reproves,

Even as a father, the son in whom he delights.”

Tremper Longman: God corrects out of love. He does not want his people to continue in life-damaging attitudes and behavior. The analogy that the father presents is that of a father who treats his son favorably. This is particularly poignant since the discourse is the loving admonition of a human father to his son. Correction, though painful, is thus seen as a favor, a sign of grace.

B.  (:13) Thesis: Consummate Value of Wisdom and Understanding

How blessed is the man who finds wisdom,

And the man who gains understanding

David Hubbard: This speech interrupts the stream of admonitions to insert a double argument in favor of wisdom’s excellence: a practical argument in the form of a beatitude and a theological argument expressed as an affirmation. The literary touch is graceful and changes the pace from the incessant series of commands found in verses 1–12 and resumed in 21–32. So placed, the argument serves to underscore the first set of admonitions and blaze the trail for the second.

C.  (:14-18) Value Preferred Over All Else

  1. (:14-15)  Nothing Can Compare in Value

a.  (:14a)  Not Silver

                                    “For its profit is better than the profit of silver

b.  (:14b)  Not Gold

                                    “And its gain than fine gold

c.  (:15a)  Not Jewels

                                    “She is more precious than jewels

d.  (:15b)  Not Anything

                                    “And nothing you desire compares with her

Tremper Longman: This type of comparison is used frequently in Proverbs (8:10, 19; 16:16) and elsewhere, but nowhere is it as fully developed as in Job 28. That text develops the idea that gold and silver are immensely valuable precisely because they are so difficult to extract from the earth. Though hard, humans can do it. However, finding wisdom is not just difficult; it also is impossible for men and women. They cannot exert their strength or intelligence to find it. Only God has it; and thus the chapter ends with an exhortation to fear Yahweh.

  1. (:16-18)  Nothing Can Compare in Blessing

a.  (:16a)  Blessing of Long Life

Long life is in her right hand;

b.  (:16b)  Blessing of Riches and Honor

In her left hand are riches and honor.

c.  (:17a)  Blessing of Pleasantness

Her ways are pleasant ways,

d.  (:17b)  Blessing of Peace

And all her paths are peace.

e.  (:18a)  Blessing of Fruitful Life

She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her,

John MacArthur: This expression is a metaphor referring to temporal and spiritual renewal and refreshment (cf. 11:30; 13:12; 15:4).

f.  (:18b)  Blessing of Happiness

And happy are all who hold her fast.

David Hubbard: The similarity of this beatitude to that of Psalm 1 reinforces that tie:

(1)  here wisdom is sought; there the law is to be treasured (note Prov. 3:1 where wisdom teaching is “my law”);

(2)  here wisdom is likened to a “life-giving tree”; there the one who is nourished by the law is like a tree;

(3)  here wisdom’s “ways” are “pleasantness” (for Hebrew word see 2:10); there the “way” of the righteous is known by God.

Hence, in language both elegant and familiar, the teachers have displayed the superlative claims of wisdom with the firm hope that it will prove irresistible to their disciples.

Paul Koptak: If the admonitions in Proverbs 3:1–10 challenge the reader to remember that life and its goodness are gifts of Yahweh, this picture of creation does the same through poetic imagery. Moreover, if wisdom is the principle by which the Lord gives life, it makes sense that those who find it and lay hold of it (3:13, 18) are called “blessed.” Wisdom’s role in creation is merely sketched here, but it will be developed when she speaks for herself in chapter 8, using many of the terms found here.  For now it is enough to notice that references to creation undergird the good life and šalom offered by wisdom through the parents’ teaching. If Woman Wisdom was involved in the creation of a place for life to thrive, then, metaphorically speaking, she surely can bestow God’s gift of life through her teaching.

D.  (:19-20) Value Proven as a Dynamic Change Agent in Creation

Tremper Longman: The poem concludes by associating wisdom with creation.  While this is the first time this connection is made in Proverbs, it will recur later (8:22–31) and constitutes a profound theme of the book.

The creation is ordered, not random. God established it by his wisdom. This assertion belies the thought that it might be the result of chance. Experience at times might lead to the latter conclusion (see Eccles. 9:11), but that would be a fateful mistake. No, earth and heaven were created by wisdom. The order of creation can also be learned from Gen. 1. Such a teaching would lead us to conclude that the apparent disorder observed in creation is the result of the fall, not the original creation.

Furthermore, understanding wisdom’s role in creation should motivate humans to acquire wisdom. After all, if one wants to know how the world works and thus benefit from recognizing the rhythms of creation, what better way to do that than to share in the wisdom that produced the world to begin with?

Jonathan Akin: There is a wise order to the world. The world works in a certain way—according to the pattern of ­wisdom—so you can know the order and live by it if you possess wisdom. In a fallen world that has been broken by sin, this order generally works out now; but it will always work out later. Wisdom gives you the ability to perceive God’s order and live by it. You must live by this order. Don’t try to live against the grain because that is ruinous.

  1. (:19a)  Impact on Creation of the Earth

The Lord by wisdom founded the earth

  1. (:19b)  Impact on Creation of the Heavens

By understanding He established the heavens

  1. (:20a)  Impact on Creation of the Deeps

By His knowledge the deeps were broken up

  1. (:20b)  Impact on Creation of the Heights

And the skies drip with dew

Charles Ryrie: Wisdom played a dynamic part in the creation of the universe.  By it God changed chaos to order.  So also wisdom can have a dynamic effect on human life.

David Hubbard: This affirmation, fraught with theological significance, lauds and commends wisdom to the young by linking it to God’s creative work at the beginning. Wisdom’s antiquity, usefulness, and intimate connection with Yahweh are what the argument points to. . .  Wisdom is pictured here not so much as companion to Yahweh (see 8:22–31) as a tool used by Him to do what only He could do. The argument is clear: If Yahweh with wisdom as His tool could accomplish the wonders of the various phases of creation—settling the “earth” on its foundations, setting the “heavens” in their appointed place (v. 19), breaking up the “depths” to irrigate the dry land through wells, springs, and streams, and watering the earth with “dew” from the clouds (v. 20; a key source of moisture for truck gardening and other crops in Palestine is dew)—think what wisdom will do, better, what Yahweh will do through wisdom in the lives of those who find it.


Paul Koptak: This final section presents the typical elements of the instruction form in a different order: a charge to keep wisdom teaching (3:21), descriptions of benefits (3:22–26), and a series of ethical teachings (3:27–31).

(:21-24)  Thesis Restated: Consummate Value of Wisdom and Discretion

  1. (:21) Baseline of Successful Living = Valuing Wisdom

My son, let them not depart from your sight;

Keep sound wisdom and discretion

  1. (:22-24) Benefits of Wisdom in Practical Everyday Experience

a.  (:22)  Value of Life and Beauty

So they will be life to your soul,

And adornment to your neck.”

b.  (:23)  Value of Purposefulness and Security

           “Then you will walk in your way securely,

And your foot will not stumble.”

Roland Murphy: The metaphors for life’s journey appear: walking without mishap (cf. Ps 91:12) and sleeping without any fear. The Lord protects followers when they sleep (Ps 3:6; 4:9), and there is always the threat of the “terror of the night” (Ps 91:5).

c.  (:24)  Value of Peace and Serenity

                     “When you lie down, you will not be afraid;

When you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.”

 A.  (:25-26) Don’t Panic in the Face of Calamity or Unjustified Attacks —

A Contradiction of the Faithfulness of God – Absolute Dependence upon God

Do not be afraid of sudden fear,

            Nor of the onslaught of the wicked when it comes;

            For the Lord will be your confidence,

            And will keep your foot from being caught.”

B.  (:27-28) Don’t Procrastinate in Doing Good to Others According to Your Ability —

A Contradiction of the Generosity of God – Rejection of Materialistic Hoarding

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,

            When it is in your power to do it.

            Do not say to your neighbor, ‘Go, and come back, And tomorrow I will give it,’

            When you have it with you.”

Ray Ortlund: We sin against each other not only by the bad things we do but also by the beautiful things we withhold.  Withheld love is a life-depleting sin.

David Hubbard: The security and protection offered by the Lord of wisdom put us under obligation to be generous to others. The principle of generosity is stated in general yet striking terms in verse 27 and then elaborated in four more specific admonitions. All five commands are framed in negative terms—a reminder that both wisdom and law help us cope with our human frailty and self-centeredness by telling us what not to do. Every parent knows why: “Don’t” more than “do” salts our vocabulary as we equip young children both to stay alive and to fit the structures of human society. Before we can really know how to do right we must learn to avoid the dangerous and cruel ways to which we are compulsively attracted.

Charles Bridges: The wise man comes now to some practical points.  He shows that the result of selfishness is to withhold good.  This dishonesty takes many forms: in borrowing without making any repayment (Psalm 37:21), in evading paying taxes, in keeping back wages due to employees (James 5:4; Jeremiah 22:13-17).  But this instruction is deeper than this.  Even if we are not legally indebted to anyone, we have an outstanding debt to “love one another” (Romans 13:8).  Even the poor person is bound by this universal law to his poorer neighbor.  Everyone has a claim on our love.  Every opportunity to do good is our calling to do so.  Kindness is not an option but an obligation.  It is an act of justice, no less than an act of mercy.  If we withhold it, that will be to our eternal condemnation (Matthew 25:41-45).

C.  (:29-30) Don’t Pervert Your Neighbor’s Trust —

A Contradiction of the Goodness of God – Avoidance of Exploitation / Selfishness

Do not devise harm against your neighbor,

            While he lives in security beside you.

            Do not contend with a man without cause,

            If he has done you no harm.”

Ray Ortlund: In a culture of life people protect each other. . .  Trust is the glue that holds community together.

D.  (:31-32) Don’t Pursue the Path of the Wicked —

A Contradiction of the Holiness of God – Desiring God and His Righteousness

Do not envy a man of violence,

            And do not choose any of his ways.

            For the crooked man is an abomination to the Lord;

            But He is intimate with the upright.”

Ray Ortlund: In a culture of life the wise keep their distance from the violent. . .  The way things are now, violent people succeed, and we are tempted to envy them.  It starts early, with the bully on the playground who is also in the popular crowd.  People fear and envy the violent.  So the violent run the world.

W. A. Rees Jones: James tells us that heavenly wisdom is pure, peaceable, gentle, easily intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without uncertainty or insincerity, and that it has a diabolical parody whose marks are envy and strife.

John MacArthur: Specifically, an abomination is an attitude or act that is incompatible with God’s nature and intolerable to Him, leading to His anger and judgment.  This is an important theme in Proverbs.

David Hubbard: Verse 32 supplies the motivation for all five negative commands (vv. 27–31). Absence of generosity in all its forms “is an abomination to the LORD” (see 11:20; 12:22; 15:26; 17:15; it may be Hebrew’s strongest term of divine abhorrence), who cares about neighborliness and community. Generosity is the way the “upright,” the people of rectitude and integrity, live. To withhold it and hence destroy community is to choose the wrong path and get lost, as “perverse” literally means. The opposite of this is to be on intimate, insider terms with God so that we know what He wants and are given power to do it. “Secret counsel” means to be taken “into His (Yahweh’s) confidence” (see NEB, JB, NIV ). Can there be any stronger motivation to neighbor-love than this? Certainly not, short of the Cross.

Allen Ross: vv. 31-35 — In dealing with neighbors, one should avoid both envying and emulating (LXX) a violent person (cf. Ps 73:3–5). This warning in v.31 is followed by the reasons, expressed in a series of contrasts but essentially arguing that God punishes the wicked and rewards the righteous. The Lord detests the perverse (v.32), curses the house of the wicked (v.33), mocks proud mockers (v.34), and holds fools up to shame (v.25). But he is pleased with the upright (v.32); he blesses their home (v.33), gives grace to the humble (v.34), and bequeaths honor to the wise (v.35). So wise and upright behavior pleases God and results in his blessing.


David Hubbard: As we have seen frequently in Proverbs, the clusters of synonyms reinforce and augment each other. Their power is in the buildup of intensity effected by their repetition rather than in the meaning of the individual terms. On the nouns and adjectives of “conduct,” see chapter 10. The nouns and verbs of result deal with status in the community as the outcome of obedience to God. The text seems to say that what we wrongheadedly thought we could gain from a neighbor by greed, deceit, quarrel, or violence—namely, power, wealth, and status—are attainable only as gifts of God and then only on His terms of uprightness and humble dependence. The theme of honor ties the speech together like a thread: In humble gratitude we honor the Lord with our substance (v. 9); this and other acts of obedience put us in touch with wisdom who holds riches and honor in her hand (v. 16); that honor (lit., “glory”) God makes available to those who live in loving and peaceful community with their neighbors, who are His creatures and beloved ones as well (v. 35).

 A.  (:33) Contrast Between Wicked and Just

The curse of the Lord is on the house of the wicked,

            But He blesses the dwelling of the righteous.”

B.  (:34) Contrast Between Scorners and Lowly

Though He scoffs at the scoffers,

            Yet He gives grace to the afflicted.”

C.  (:35) Capstone: Contrast Between Wise and Fools

The wise will inherit honor,

            But fools display dishonor.”