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Bible Commentaries

Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures

Proverbs 29

Verses 1-9

Proverbs 29:1 Illustrations - God destroyed the army of Pharaoh in the Red Sea after they had been warned of God’s pending wrath. They had seen the ten plagues upon the land of Egypt. They knew that God was mighty to judge. Yet, in the hardness of their hearts, they chose to persecute the people of God.

God destroyed the children of Israel in the wilderness because they hardened their hearts (Hebrews 3:7-11).

Hebrews 3:7-11, “Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.)”

God destroyed the two sons of Eli, because they did not hearken unto His voice (1 Samuel 3:13-14).

1 Samuel 3:13-14, “For I have told him that I will judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knoweth; because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not. And therefore I have sworn unto the house of Eli, that the iniquity of Eli's house shall not be purged with sacrifice nor offering for ever.”

Proverbs 29:2 When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.

Proverbs 29:2 Comments - We see the rejoicing of the children of Israel during the reigns of David, Solomon, Hezekiah and Josiah. The children of Israel mourned during the time of the Judges because they had backslidden from the Lord.

The word of God came to John the Baptist during a period of Jewish history when tyrants ruled over them (Luke 3:1-3).

Luke 3:1-3, “Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene, Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins;”

Paul tells the Church to pray for righteous leadership (1 Timothy 2:2).

1 Timothy 2:2, “For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.”

Proverbs 29:2 Scripture References - Note a similar verse:

Proverbs 11:10, “When it goeth well with the righteous, the city rejoiceth: and when the wicked perish, there is shouting.”

Proverbs 29:3 Whoso loveth wisdom rejoiceth his father: but he that keepeth company with harlots spendeth his substance.

Proverbs 29:3 Comments - The story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) gives a great example of Proverbs 29:3, where one son’s wisdom rejoiced the father, and the other son kept company with harlots.

Scripture References - Note a similar verse:

Proverbs 15:20, “A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish man despiseth his mother.”

Proverbs 29:4 The king by judgment establisheth the land: but he that receiveth gifts overthroweth it.

Proverbs 29:4 Illustrations:

1 Samuel 13:13, “And Samuel said to Saul, Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the LORD thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the LORD have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever.”

2 Samuel 8:15, “And David reigned over all Israel; and David executed judgment and justice unto all his people.”

In 1 Kings 14:0, Jeroboam was warned by God of coming judgment because of his sins.

Proverbs 16:12, “It is an abomination to kings to commit wickedness: for the throne is established by righteousness.”

Proverbs 29:14, “The king that faithfully judgeth the poor, his throne shall be established for ever.”

Verses 1-27

Perseverance: Solomon’s Second Collection of Proverbs (126 Sayings) - Proverbs 25-29 are often called Solomon’s Second Collection of Proverbs. When we enter into chapters 25 and 29, we begin to notice a number of proverbs that deal with leaders of a nation. We now must learn that our actions ultimately affect our nation. We often find the underlying them of a section in its opening verses; and this is the case with this division in Proverbs. Proverbs 25:2-7 reveal how the king decrees by divine oracles (Proverbs 25:2-3), so that he might establish righteousness (Proverbs 25:4-5), so that everyone will walk humbly before the king and his decrees (Proverbs 25:6-7). Therefore, the proverbs in 25-29 are emphasizing how a king establishes justice in the land. Perhaps Solomon gathered this second group of proverbs separately from his first collection because he used them in specifically to establish righteousness and order in the land of Israel. This may the reason that many proverbs in this collection refer to rulers of a land (Proverbs 25:2-7; Proverbs 25:15; Proverbs 27:23-27; Proverbs 28:2; Proverbs 28:15-16; Proverbs 29:2; Proverbs 29:4; Proverbs 29:12; Proverbs 29:14; Proverbs 29:26). In fact, this collection of proverbs closes with two verses stating this very theme of how a king’s righteous judgment establishes the land (Proverbs 29:4; Proverbs 29:14).

The signposts found in the sayings of the wise (Proverbs 22:17 to Proverbs 24:34) and in Solomon’s second collection (25-29) tell us to continue in the fear of the Lord, to honor those in authority over us, and this will bring happiness into our lives as we continue on this journey. Note:

Proverbs 23:17, “Let not thine heart envy sinners: but be thou in the fear of the LORD all the day long.”

Proverbs 24:21, “My son, fear thou the LORD and the king: and meddle not with them that are given to change:”

Proverbs 28:14, “Happy is the man that feareth alway : but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief.”

Regarding the relationship of Proverbs 25-29 to our spiritual journey, we can group these proverbs under the phase called perseverance of the saints, in which God’s children have entered their divine calling and are in the process of fulfilling it in order to reach the final stage of glorification. The theme of leadership and the establishment of justice reveal our purpose for this season in our lives. God has put us on this path in order to establish righteousness in the land.

1. Proverbs About Relationships with Others Proverbs 25:1 to Proverbs 26:28

2. Proverbs About Misc. Activities Proverbs 27:1 to Proverbs 29:27

Characteristics of the Passage - A number of the proverbs found in the Solomon’s first collection (Proverbs 10:1 to Proverbs 22:16) are repeated in this section of Solomon’s second collection (Proverbs 25:1 to Proverbs 29:27). The opening verse of this section tells us that these proverbs were copied out by Hezekiah about 250 years after Solomon wrote them. Perhaps Hezekiah’s men were unwilling to delete anything they found repeated in the second collection out of holy reverence for what they now considered divine Scriptures.

Many scholars observe differences between the characteristics and content of this second collection of proverbs and the first collection. They mention a number of examples: (1) Grammar - Some scholars suggest the first collection repeatedly uses several phrases that are not found in the second collection, such as “fountain of life (two times),” “tree of life (four times),” “snares of death (two times),” “hand in hand (two times),” and “shall not be unpunished (five times).” All agree that this does not provide a strong argument to suggest different authorships and dates between the two collections. (2) Content - Other scholars use the climate of the monarchy described within the two collections to conclude that they were written in different periods of Israel’s history. For example, during the time of Solomon, the political climate was one of peace and righteousness. Thus, we see within the first collection words that support the monarchy:

Proverbs 14:28, “In the multitude of people is the king's honour: but in the want of people is the destruction of the prince.”

Proverbs 16:12, “It is an abomination to kings to commit wickedness: for the throne is established by righteousness.”

Proverbs 16:13, “Righteous lips are the delight of kings; and they love him that speaketh right.”

Proverbs 16:15, “In the light of the king's countenance is life; and his favour is as a cloud of the latter rain.”

Proverbs 20:28, “Mercy and truth preserve the king: and his throne is upholden by mercy.”

A contrast can be made in the second collection, where we find descriptions of people who have been oppression by the king:

Proverbs 25:5, “Take away the wicked from before the king, and his throne shall be established in righteousness.”

Proverbs 28:2, “For the transgression of a land many are the princes thereof: but by a man of understanding and knowledge the state thereof shall be prolonged.”

Proverbs 28:15, “As a roaring lion, and a ranging bear; so is a wicked ruler over the poor people.”

Proverbs 28:16, “The prince that wanteth understanding is also a great oppressor: but he that hateth covetousness shall prolong his days.”

Proverbs 29:2, “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.”

Proverbs 29:4, “The king by judgment establisheth the land: but he that receiveth gifts overthroweth it.”

Proverbs 29:12, “If a ruler hearken to lies, all his servants are wicked.”

Such verses about political oppression are missing in the first collection. They bring new and fresh insight into the failures of a monarchy system. Scholars suggest that this indicates a later date of writing than the first collection. However, as interesting as these suggestions appear, neither of the two gives strong enough support to conclude that there was more than one author of the first and second collections of proverbs. [132]

[132] W. J. Deane, S. T. Teylor-Taswell, and W. F. Adeney, Proverbs, in The Pulpit Commentary, e Eds.H. D. M. Spence and Joseph S. Excell (New York: Funk and Wagnalis Company, n.d.), x, xvi.

The Structure of the Passage - Nelson's Teaching Outlines of the Bible groups the verses found in chapters 25-26 into subject matter related to various aspects of our relationships with people in society. [133] I have followed these sections with different titles.

[133] Nelson's Teaching Outlines of the Bible (Thomas Nelson: Nashville: Thomas Nelson, c1986, 1997).

1. Introduction Proverbs 25:1

2. Wisdom in Dealing with Leaders Proverbs 25:2-7

3. Wisdom in Dealing with Relationships Proverbs 25:8-20

4. Wisdom in Dealing with Adversity Proverbs 25:21-24

5. Wisdom Regarding Self-Discipline Proverbs 25:25-28

6. Wisdom in Dealing with the Foolish Proverbs 26:1-12

7. Wisdom in Dealing with the Sluggard Proverbs 26:13-16

8. Wisdom in Dealing with the Liar Proverbs 26:17-28

The fact that Hezekiah grouped the proverbs in chapters 25-26 according to subject matter implies that he may have studied the proverbs of Solomon by topic as we often do today.

In addition, our relationships with those in our society help us to see the underlying theme of perseverance, knowing that the way we manage our relationships with others determines whether or not we are continuing in the path of wisdom by walking in love with others.

Verse 10

Proverbs 29:10 The bloodthirsty hate the upright: but the just seek his soul.

Proverbs 29:10 “The bloodthirsty hate the upright” Word Study on “bloodthirsty” The English translation “the bloodthirsty” literally reads in the Hebrew text, “men of bloods.”

Word Study on “the upright” Strong says the Hebrew word “upright” ( תָּם ) (H8535) literally means, “complete,” and used in a figurative or moral sense to mean, “pious,” and it can also carry the meaning of “gentle or dear.” He says it comes from a primitive root ( תָּמַם ) (H8552), meaning, “to be complete.” The Enhanced Strong says it is used 13 times in the Old Testament, being translated in the KJV as, “perfect 9, undefiled 2, plain 1, upright 1.”

Comments This Hebrew word is used to describe the character of Jacob as a man of a “gentle” lifestyle.

Genesis 25:27, “And the boys grew: and Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents.”

It is used five times in the book of Job to describe his character as a pious man.

Job 1:1, “There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.”

Comments - Perhaps the best illustration of the bloodthirsty hating the upright in the Scriptures is seen in Cain’s hatred for Abel (1 John 3:12), and in Saul’s hatred for David (1 Samuel 20:31).

1 John 3:12, “Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous.”

1 Samuel 20:31, “For as long as the son of Jesse liveth upon the ground, thou shalt not be established, nor thy kingdom. Wherefore now send and fetch him unto me, for he shall surely die.”

We see it in King Ahab and Jezebel’s hatred for Elijah and Micah.

1 Kings 21:20, “And Ahab said to Elijah, Hast thou found me, O mine enemy? And he answered, I have found thee: because thou hast sold thyself to work evil in the sight of the LORD.”

1 Kings 22:8, “And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, There is yet one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may enquire of the LORD: but I hate him; for he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil. And Jehoshaphat said, Let not the king say so.”

We see it in the hatred that Herod’s wife had for John the Baptist.

Mark 6:18-19, “For John had said unto Herod, It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother's wife. Therefore Herodias had a quarrel against him, and would have killed him; but she could not:”

We see how the Jewish leaders hated Jesus, as well as the disciples of the early church.

John 15:18-19, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.”

Proverbs 29:10 “but the just seek his soul” Word Study on “just” The word “just” is in the plural in the Hebrew text, so that it more properly reads, “the just ones.”

Word Study on “seek” Strong says the Hebrew word “seek” ( בָּקַשׁ ) (H1245) is a primitive root that means, “to search out.” It implies, “to search out, to strive after.” The Enhanced Strong says it is used 225 times in the Old Testament, being translated in the KJV as, “seek 189, require 14, request 4, seek out 4, enquired 3, besought 2, ask 2, sought for 2, begging 1, desire 1, get 1, inquisition 1, procureth 1.”

Comments - Commentators offer four views for this phrase.

(1) The Just Person Seeks the Well being of the Upright - The interpretation that is most accurate to the Hebrew text is to say that this phrase refers to the way the just person seeks the well being of the upright soul and attempts to protect him from evil men. He seeks such people to befriend and care for, in contrast to the hatred that bloodthirsty men have for the upright. This reading is most accurate to the Hebrew text; the bloodthirsty (plural) hate the upright (singular), while the just (plural) seek his soul (singular). Note:

Darby, “The bloodthirsty hate the perfect, but the upright care for his soul.”

(2) The Just Person Seeks the Well being of the Bloodthirsty This statement may refer to the way a just man seeks the well being of the unjust, such as Samuel praying for King Saul, or as Jeremiah praying for the sins of his nation, or as Jesus praying for those who crucified Him, or as Stephen prayed for those who were stoning him or as Paul prayed for his nation, which had persecuted him and rejected the Gospel.

1 Samuel 15:11, “It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments. And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the LORD all night.”

Jeremiah 13:17, “But if ye will not hear it, my soul shall weep in secret places for your pride; and mine eye shall weep sore, and run down with tears, because the LORD'S flock is carried away captive.”

Jeremiah 18:20, “Shall evil be recompensed for good? for they have digged a pit for my soul. Remember that I stood before thee to speak good for them, and to turn away thy wrath from them.”

Luke 23:34, “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.”

Acts 7:60, “And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.”

Romans 10:1, “Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.”

One problem with this interpretation is that “the bloodthirsty” is plural in the Hebrew text and “his soul” is singular.

(3) The Bloodthirsty Seeks the Life of the Upright - A third reading that is allowed within the Hebrew text is, “ and [as for] the upright, they seek his life.” This would mean that the bloodthirsty both hate the upright and they also seek his life to kill him. Several translations carry this meaning:

HNV, “The bloodthirsty hate a man of integrity; And they seek the life of the upright”

NIV, “Bloodthirsty men hate a man of integrity and seek to kill the upright.”

However, for this reading to be fully justified, the Hebrew would have to read, “and (as for) the upright, they seek their life.” Instead, the Hebrew text actually reads, “ his life.” Other translations also take this interpretation, but adjust the text to make “the upright” read as a singular noun instead of plural so that it reads properly.

ASV, “The bloodthirsty hate him that is perfect; And as for the upright, they seek his life.”

BBE, “Men of blood are haters of the good man, and evil-doers go after his soul.”

Rotherham, “Blood-thirsty men, hate the blameless man, and, as for the upright, they seek his life.”

RSV, “Bloodthirsty men hate one who is blameless, and the wicked seek his life.”

Although this reading has strong support, it is not as accurate to the Hebrew text as the second reading discussed above. The translation has to be altered from its original meaning in order to read smoothly.

(4) The Upright Seeks the Integrity - John Gill refers to a fourth interpretation from the Targum that reads:

“Men that shed blood hate integrity; but the upright seek it.”

This would mean that the upright seek integrity, while men of blood hate it. However, the Hebrew text literally reads, “his soul,” which refers to a person and not to a virtue. Thus, this interpretation is not likely.

Verses 11-22

Proverbs 29:11 A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards.

Proverbs 29:11 Comments - A young child who is learning how to talk tends to speak all of his or her mind. Children hold nothing back. As we grow up, we learn to control our tongue. We learn that there is a time to speak and a time to keep silence.

Illustration - As a business manager, I have learned the importance of reacting slowly to a situation. When I have reacted quickly and emotionally to a situation in the past, I have turned out to look like the fool. I have now learned to hold my composure for a period of time so that I can react to a person or a situation when my emotions are back under control. It is then that I can reason better and speak words of wisdom.

Proverbs 29:15 The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.

Proverbs 29:15 “The rod and reproof give wisdom” Comments - The rod represents physical punishment and reproof represents verbal warnings and correction. Proverbs 29:15 a says that there is a place for both methods to be used in training a child. One without the other will fail to bring the necessary results.

Proverbs 29:15 Comments - In David's role as a father, we see Solomon growing up and becoming a man of wisdom. This is evidence that Solomon received discipline from his father. David gave Solomon this discipline because he was being groomed to become the next king. We see Solomon make a reference to his father's instructions in Proverbs 4:3-4.

Proverbs 4:3, “For I was my father's son, tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother. He taught me also, and said unto me, Let thine heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live.”

In contract, we see other sons of King David that did not received proper discipline. In the story of Amnon and Tamar (2 Samuel 13:1-20), we see that David neglected to discipline this sin in the life of his son. David's refusal to discipline his son Absalom ended in the rebellion that cost the life of his son and the broken heart of David.

Verses 23-27

Proverbs 29:23 A man's pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit.

Proverbs 29:23 Word Study on “low” Strong says the Hebrew word “low” ( שָׁפֵל ) (H8213) is a primitive root that means, “to depress, or sink.” The Enhanced Strong says it is used 29 times in the Old Testament, being translated in the KJV as, “low 10, down 8, humble 7, abase 2, debase 1, put lower 1.”

Proverbs 29:23 Word Study on “the humble” Strong says the Hebrew word ( שָׁפָל ) (H8217) literally and figuratively means, “depressed,” This word comes from the primitive verb Hebrew ( שָׁפֵל ) (H8213), which is also used in the first part of this same verse.

Proverbs 29:26 Many seek the ruler's favour; but every man's judgment cometh from the LORD.

Proverbs 29:26 “but every man's judgment cometh from the LORD” Comments - Solomon had prayed for wisdom (1 Kings 3:9). In Proverbs 29:26 he acknowledges that all of his wisdom had come from the Lord.

1 Kings 3:9, “Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?”

Proverbs 29:27 An unjust man is an abomination to the just: and he that is upright in the way is abomination to the wicked.

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Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Proverbs 29". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghe/proverbs-29.html. 2013.