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Bible Commentaries

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

Proverbs 15

Verse 2


(2) Useth knowledge aright.—Brings it forth at the proper time and place.

Verse 3

(3) Beholding the evil and the good.—Waiting till the iniquity of the one is full (Genesis 15:16), watching to aid the other (Psalms 34:15; Psalms 34:17).

Verse 4

(4) A wholesome tongue.—One which heals and soothes by its gentleness and judicious words. (Comp. Proverbs 12:18.)

A tree of life.—Comp. Proverbs 3:18; Proverbs 11:30.

Perverseness.—Distortion of the truth. (Comp. Proverbs 11:3.)

A breach in the spirit—i.e., deeply wounds another’s spirit.

Verse 5

(5) A fool (’evîl).—See above, on Proverbs 1:7.

Verse 6

(6) In the house of the righteous is much treasure.—For God’s blessing (Proverbs 3:33) is upon it; while the wicked, from his recklessness in the pursuit of gain, brings trouble (Proverbs 15:27) upon himself and his family.

Verse 7

(7) But the heart of the foolish doeth not so.—Or, disperseth that which is not right.

Verse 8

(8) The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord.—And their prayers also (Isaiah 1:11). The worthlessness of sacrifice without obedience (comp. 1 Samuel 15:22) may be here especially mentioned, because men are apt to think that what involves cost and trouble must be pleasing to God, even when not accompanied with what alone He cares for, a loving heart.

The prayer of the upright is his delight.—Even when offered by itself, without sacrifice.

Verse 10

(10) Correction is grievous.—Rather, There is a grievous correction for him that forsaketh the (right) way; first of all, punishment for the sake of “correction” (Leviticus 26:14, sqq.), and then, lastly, in the case of obstinate hatred of “reproof,” death (Ibid. Proverbs 15:33).

Verse 11

(11) Hell and destruction.—“Hell” is here the general name for the unseen world (Hades) beyond the grave, so called, according to one derivation, from its always “asking” for more victims, and never being satisfied. (Comp. Proverbs 27:20.) “Destruction” (Abaddon) is the lowest hell, corresponding to the “abyss” of Luke 8:31; Revelation 9:1; Revelation 9:11; the abode of evil spirits and the lost. (For the thought, comp. Job 26:6, and Psalms 139:8.)

Verse 12

(12) A scorner.—See above on Proverbs 1:22.

Verse 13

(13) By sorrow of heart the spirit is broken.—See above on Proverbs 12:25.

Verse 15

(15) All the days of the afflicted are evil.—Another caution against over-anxiety. The “afflicted” here evidently means, not one who has to bear great misfortunes, but one who makes the worst of everything, to whom the “clouds return after the rain” (Ecclesiastes 12:2); while one who is “of a merry heart” does just the contrary.

Verse 16

(16) Trouble.—The “disquiet” (Psalms 39:6) which attends the pursuit and care of riches, in contrast to the “peace which they have who love God’s law. (Psalms 119:165.)

Verse 19

(19) As a hedge of thorns.—Every difficulty in his path serves as an excuse for inaction (comp. Proverbs 22:13); while the upright man, who does his duty as in the sight of God, goes “from strength to strength” (Psalms 84:7), along the path of life smoothed for him (Isaiah 26:7), performing the “just works” appointed for him to do.

Verse 21

(21) Folly.—Shown in wasted opportunities, and the commission of evil (Proverbs 10:23), while the “man of understanding” directs his way in accordance with the will of God.

Verse 23

(23) A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth.—So much mischief is done by the tongue, and its slips are so many, that when a man makes a suitable reply, he may well rejoice and look upon it as the gift of God (Proverbs 16:1).

Verse 24

(24) The way of life is above to the wise.—These words sound like a faint echo of such passages as Philippians 3:20; Colossians 3:1-2, though the writer’s meaning may only have been that the wise man who fears the Lord (Proverbs 1:7) is rewarded with long life on earth (Proverbs 3:16), and escapes death and hell (Proverbs 2:18-19). Comp. Isaiah 38:18-19.

Verse 25

(25) The proud—who trust in their own strength; while He will “establish the border,” or landmark, of the helpless widow, who has none to cry to but Him. The frequently threatened punishment against one who removes his neighbour’s landmark, shews the offence to have been a common form of oppression. (Comp. Deuteronomy 19:14; Deuteronomy 27:17; Proverbs 22:28; Job 24:2; Hosea 5:10.)

Verse 26

(26) The thoughts of the wicked.—Rather, thoughts of evil, wicked designs.

But the words of the pure are pleasant words.—Rather, pleasant words (i.e., kindly meant, soothing words; comp. Proverbs 16:24) are pure in God’s sight; accepted by Him as coming from a well-meaning heart.

Verse 27

(27) He that is greedy of gain.—Ill-gotten gain, especially bribes, as is seen in the next line.

Troubleth his own house.—The word used of Achan (Joshua 7:25).

Gifts.—Bribes taken by a judge. (Ecclesiastes 7:7.)

Verse 28

(28) The heart of the righteous studieth to answeri.e., aright, knowing how much good and evil is caused by words. (Comp. James 3:5, sqq.)

Verse 29

(29) He heareth the prayer of the righteous.—For they desire above all things to do His will, and so their petitions to this effect are heard by Him.

Verse 30

(30) The light of the eyes . . .—It does the heart good to see one whose eyes are sparkling with happiness.

A good report.—Good news, affecting either oneself or others.

Verse 31

(31) The ear that heareth the reproof of life—i.e., one which does not refuse reproof, or instruction, which leads to life. (Comp. Proverbs 6:23.) The “ear” is put for the person, as in Job 29:11.

Verse 33

(33) The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom.—Or, a discipline which leads to wisdom. (Comp. Proverbs 1:7.)

Before honour is humility.—Humility leads to it. (Comp. Luke 1:52.)

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Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Proverbs 15". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". 1905.