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Bible Commentaries

Dr. Constable's Expository Notes

Proverbs 12

Verses 1-12

5. The value of righteousness 12:1-12

Verse 6

The words of the wicked, particularly their false accusations, are an ambush, but the words of the upright are straightforward and sincere (cf. Proverbs 1:18). [Note: Cf. Whybray, The Book . . ., p. 73.]

Verse 9

A better translation is, "Better is a man of humble standing who works for himself than one who plays the great man but lacks bread" (RSV).

"The point seems to be that some people live beyond their means in a vain show . . . whereas, if they lived modestly, they could have some of the conveniences of life, e.g., a servant." [Note: Ross, p. 969.]

Verse 12

The contrast appears to be between two kinds of people. The wicked want to gain from the work of other evil people (e.g., skimming money off the top of a gambling operation). On the other hand, the righteous are content to earn wages from their own honest toil. [Note: Cf. Toy, pp. 249-50; and Ross, p. 970.]

Verses 13-28

6. Avoiding trouble 12:13-28

Verse 16

A prudent person "ignores an insult" (RSV). The insult is dishonor to himself or herself. A fool’s reaction is "like an injured animal and so his opponent knows that he has been wounded." [Note: McKane, p. 442.] A fool brings dishonor on himself and becomes vulnerable by making a big deal out of some insult that he received.

Verse 18

Thoughtless or critical speech can wound others. Transparent sharing can wound the speaker. Transparent sharing is good, but we must practice it wisely. [Note: See my comments on 10:19.] Wise people do not cause harm by their reckless talk.

"The sage is not primarily interested in winning debates, and he avoids speech which creates bitterness and erects barriers between himself and others." [Note: McKane, p. 446.]

Verse 21

". . . decent people do not have frequent trouble of their own making . . ." [Note: Ross, p. 972.]

The verse is also true when one considers what happens to people after death, as well as before.

"The rigid application of this law was the mainstay of Job’s comforters; but taken rightly, it is a stimulating truth as valid for Paul (Romans 8:28 with 36, 37) as for Joseph (Genesis 50:20)-cheaply held in prosperity, precious in adversity." [Note: Kidner, p. 98.]

Verse 22

"When words can’t be trusted, then society starts to fall apart. Contracts are useless, promises are vain, the judicial system becomes a farce, and all personal relationships are suspect." [Note: Wiersbe, p. 118.]

Verse 25

What is the "good word?" It could be any word that gives encouragement. Solomon was evidently general deliberately.

Verse 26

The antecedent of "them" in Proverbs 12:26 b is "the wicked" (plural). [Note: Cf. J. A. Emerton, "A Note in Proverbs 12:26," Zeitschrift für die Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 76 (1964):191-93.]

Verse 27

The lazy man does not finish his projects; he does not roast and eat the game he has hunted. He throws away his chances for something better by quitting too soon. However, the person who has mastered diligence and finishes his task has a precious tool at his disposal, namely: perseverance.

"I recall hearing some of my student friends say at seminary graduation, ’Thank the Lord, no more Greek and Hebrew!’ They had spent several years learning to use the Bible languages, and now they were selling their valuable language tools and thereby wasting their gains." [Note: Wiersbe, pp. 64-65.]

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Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Proverbs 12". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". 2012.