Proverbs Chapter 22  PDF  MSWord

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Go to Bible: Proverbs 22
Pro 22:1(top)
Pro 22:2

“The rich and the poor.” The words “rich” and “poor” are both singular in the Hebrew text, but the sense of the verse is more that they are collective singulars referring to all the people who make up each category respectively.

“have this in common.” The literal Hebrew is that the rich and poor “meet together.” Although this is likely a figurative way of saying that both of them are connected together as creations of God. The rich and poor often did meet together in the ancient world; the cities were small and personal encounters, and all those encounters entailed, would have been common, so it was important in them living in a way that pleased God to think through how they would handle those encounters.

Pro 22:3

“are punished.” The Hebrew word is anash (#06064 עָנַשׁ), and it means to be punished, or to be fined (cp. HCSB, KJV; NASB, YLT). In this instance it is a synecdoche of the species, where a fine or punishment is a specific penalty put for the more general penalty: they will pay the penalty or “suffer for it.” Some modern versions simply omit the synecdoche for ease of reading. For example, the NIV84 says, “but the simple keep going and suffer for it” (the NIV2011 says, “pay the penalty”). The NLT, a more paraphrased version, reads, “The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.”

There are times in life when it is wise not to confront evil, but instead to avoid it. It takes experience and walking by the spirit of God to consistently make the right decision as to what to do. There are clearly times when evil should be confronted and dealt with, and there are other times when it is best to avoid evil; to hide from it and “fly below the radar” as we say.

Pro 22:4(top)
Pro 22:5(top)
Pro 22:6

“he will not turn aside from it.” Proverbs 22:6 is one of the many “ideal” promises in the Word of God. It was always God’s intention that if a child is brought up well, they would stay on that godly path. However, children are humans with free will, and they make their own choices. Thus, although it is a general principle that children raised in a godly way will grow up to live godly lives, that is not always the case. [For more on promises like this, see commentary on Prov. 19:5].

Pro 22:7(top)
Pro 22:8(top)
Pro 22:9

“generous person.” The Hebrew text is a Semitic idiom, and reads, “he who has a good eye will be blessed.” In this case we can tell from the idiom and the last phrase in the verse that a “good eye” is a generous eye. The meaning of the verse is captured by the NET: “A generous person will be blessed, for he gives some of his food to the poor.”

In the biblical culture, the “eye” revealed a lot about the person’s character—more than it does today. People today often express themselves and their feelings by their clothing, hair style, makeup, jewelry, and things like tattoos, and often those distract from, or overpower, the look on a person’s face or in their eye. In the biblical culture clothing and styles were much more standard than today, and so people were much more sensitive to the look on a person’s face and in their eye than they are today, and “face” and “eye” are often used to describe a person’s character or mood. For example, Proverbs 6:17 speaks of the person with a “haughty eye.” Leah is described as having “tender” or “weak” eyes (Gen. 29:17). Intense intimacy was expressed by “eye to eye” (Num. 14:14); and God told Israel not to let their “eye” pity their enemies (Deut. 7:16; cp. Deut. 13:8).

The “good” eye was generous, and here in Proverbs the word “good” is the Hebrew tov (#02896 טוֹב) and it included a broad range of meanings depending on the context, including things such as “good, pleasant, kind, agreeable, happy, prosperous, valuable, generous, and useful.” In this context, the person with a “good” eye was generous and shared his substance with the poor.

Just as your eye was “good” if you were generous, it was “evil” if you were selfish and stingy. The meaning of the idiom of the “evil eye” changed over time, and today if someone gives you the “evil eye” it means he wishes harm to come to you. However, that was not the meaning of the idiom in biblical times. Biblically, the person with the “evil eye” was selfish and stingy, as we see from its use in the Bible. Proverbs 28:22 says, “A greedy man [“a man with an evil eye”] rushes after wealth, and doesn’t know that poverty will come upon him.”

Jesus taught about both generous and selfish people, but used a different idiom concerning generosity. He said that if your eye was “single” (another idiom meaning “generous”), your whole body would be full of light, but if your eye was “evil” (meaning you were stingy and selfish), your whole body would be full of darkness (Matt. 6:22; Luke 11:34). [For more on the “evil eye” see commentary on Prov. 28:22].

Pro 22:10(top)
Pro 22:11(top)
Pro 22:12(top)
Pro 22:13

“lazy.” See commentary on Prov. 6:6, “lazy one.”

Pro 22:14(top)
Pro 22:15(top)
Pro 22:16

“gives to the rich.” In this context, the one who gives to the rich is buying influence and favor. Thus, what the person is giving is actually a kind of bribe, even if it is legally done.

Pro 22:17(top)
Pro 22:18(top)
Pro 22:19(top)
Pro 22:20(top)
Pro 22:21(top)
Pro 22:22(top)
Pro 22:23(top)
Pro 22:24(top)
Pro 22:25(top)
Pro 22:26

“shake hands.” The Hebrew is more literally something like, “striking hands,” but it refers to a custom that was either the same as our handshake or similar to it. The custom occurs here as well as in Proverbs 6:1 and 17:18.

Although it is not specifically stated in this verse, the scope and context of Scripture makes it clear that this verse is speaking about not making unwise agreements. It is not saying not to make agreements at all, although there is a sense in which putting up security for someone else’s loan is always risky, no matter who the person is. Many people in the Bible make agreements, in fact, a covenant is an agreement. Also, other verses in Proverbs that speak of shaking hands make it clear that the agreement is an unwise one (cp. Prov. 6:1-5 and 17:18). [For more on the custom of shaking hands, see commentary on Prov. 6:1].

Pro 22:27(top)
Pro 22:28(top)
Pro 22:29(top)

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