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Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament

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Prov. 12:1

Verse 1
Whoso loveth correction loveth knowledge; But he that hateth reproof is brutish.

"The lover of knowledge will take pleasure in the Bible, in sermons, and in conversation with good people."F1 No man is really wise who does not know and love the Bible. "He loveth correction who loveth knowledge, and he hateth instruction who is without reason."F2

Verse 2
A good man shall obtain favor of Jehovah; But a man of wicked devices will he condemn.

"He that is good shall draw grace from the Lord; but he that trusteth in his own devices doth wickedly."F3 This is only another way of saying that God will reward righteousness and condemn wickedness. This is the basic assumption of holy religion.

Verse 3
A man shall not be established by wickedness; But the root of the righteous shall not be moved.

"A man cannot make himself secure by wickedness, nor can the good man's roots be disturbed."F4 No project, nor any man, can be securely established upon anything other that righteousness. The great merchant princes of America have all been men of integrity. Wickedness does not work, not even in business.

Verse 4
A worthy woman is the crown of her husband; But she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones.

"A good wife is her husband's pride and joy; but a wife who brings shame on her husband is like a cancer in his bones."F5 The Coverdale Bible translated this place, "A stedfast woman is a crowne unto her hussbonde, but she that behaveth herself unhonestly is a corruption in his bones."F6

Verse 5
The thoughts of the righteous are just; [But] the counsels of the wicked are deceit.

"Honest people will treat you fairly; the wicked only want to deceive you."F7 "Good people are fair and honest in the things they plan to do. But don't trust the things an evil person tells you."F8 Some of the renditions are surprising.

Verse 6
The words of the wicked are of lying in wait for blood; But the mouth of the upright shall deliver them.

The antithetical contrast here regards the purpose of words: "The words of the wicked are for an evil purpose. Those of the righteous are for the purpose of delivering men."F9

Verse 7
The wicked are overthrown, and are not; But the house of the righteous shall stand.

Toy's rendition of this is: "The wicked are overthrown and vanish, but the house of the righteous stands."F10 "We have here another assurance of the instability of evil."F11

Verse 8
A man shall be commended according to his wisdom; But he that is of a perverse heart shall be despised.

"A man is praised as he shows insight: a brainless creature is despised."F12 "A man is praised according to his wisdom, but men with warped minds are despised."F13

Verse 9
Better is he that is lightly esteemed, and hath a servant, Than he that honoreth himself, and lacketh bread.

"It is better to be an ordinary man working for a living than to play the part of a great man but go hungry."F14 "Better a man of low rank with a servant, than one who makes a show and has to do his own work."F15

Verse 10
A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast; But the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.

A various reading for the second clause is, "The heart of the wicked is cruel," or "The heart of the wicked is without mercy."F16 This proverb reflects the thought of the commandment that, "Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn." (Deuteronomy 25:4).

Verse 11
He that tilleth his land shall have plenty of bread; But he that followeth after vain [persons] is void of understanding.

It was a rural society that first received this proverb, a society in which the majority of people tilled the land for a living. The words `his land' indicates ownership or occupancy of the land. "The `vain persons' of the second clause may also be accurately rendered as `worthless pursuits.'"F17 Some make up their own proverbs, as in this: "The man who tills his land will have plenty to eat, but the stupid spends his time chasing rainbows"!F18

Verse 12
The wicked desireth the net of evil men; But the root of the righteous yieldeth [fruit].

"The Hebrew here is obscure and meaningless in context; and the renditions are diverse. The KJV adds `fruit' (retained in the ASV), the RSV follows the LXX, the Douay Version of the Bible (New York: Catholic Book Publishing Company, 1948), adds the word `fortification.'"F19

Verse 13
In the transgression of the lips is a snare to the evil man; But the righteous shall come out of trouble.

Christ said, "By thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned" (Matthew 12:37). "A wicked man is trapped by his own words, but an honest man gets himself out of trouble."F20

Verse 14
A man shall be satisfied with good by the fruit of his mouth; And the doings of a man's hands shall be rendered unto him.

"A person is rewarded because of the good things that he says; and in the same way the work he does gives him profit."F21 One of the best ways to oil the gears of human relations, to make friends and influence people, is simply that of saying nice, friendly, complimentary and gracious things to the people with whom we are in daily contact.

Verse 15
The way of a fool is right in his own eyes; But he that is wise hearkeneth unto counsel.

"The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice."F22

Verse 16
A fool's vexation is presently known; But a prudent man concealeth shame.

"A fool is quick to show annoyance, but a shrewd man retains his retort."F23 "Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath" (James 1:19).

Verse 17
He that uttereth truth showeth forth righteousness; But a false witness, deceit.

"Most of the proverbs in the rest of this chapter deal with the tongue. There are a hundred verses in this whole book that deal, one way or another, with the use of the tongue."F24 It may be a source of life or death. The sacred writer James devotes the greater part of his James 3 to the truth regarding the tongue. It is like a wild beast that cannot be tamed; it must be bridled and controlled. "The reference here is to the depositions of witnesses before a legal tribunal."F25

Verse 18
There is that speaketh rashly like the piercings of a sword; But the tongue of the wise is health.

Toy's rendition is: "Some men's chatter is like sword-thrusts, but the tongue of the wise is healing."F26

Verse 19
The lip of truth shall be established for ever; But a lying tongue is but for a moment.

"True lips establish testimony; but a hasty witness has an unjust tongue."F27 The permanence of truth as contrasted with error is stated here. "Truth crushed to earth shall rise again, But wounded error writhes in pain"F28

Verse 20
Deceit is in the heart of them that devise evil; But to the counsellors of peace is joy.

"Injustice is the purpose of those who devise evil, but they whose plans promote well-being are just."F29 It is evident that some of the renditions cited here have been achieved, either by emending the text, or by adjusting the clauses to form an antithesis. Others simply make a paraphrase, or even invent their own proverb. "Evil people always want to cause trouble, but people who work for peace will be happy."F30

Verse 21
There shall no mischief happen to the righteous; But the wicked shall be filled with evil.

Toy preserved the form of the antithesis thus: "No mischief befalls the righteous, but the wicked are full of misfortune."F31

Verse 22
Lying lips are an abomination to Jehovah; But they that deal truly are his delight.

This verse is quite similar to Prov. 11:20, and our comments there are applicable here.

Verse 23
A prudent man concealeth knowledge; But the heart of fools proclaimeth foolishness.

Keil's rendition is: "A prudent man conceals knowledge, and a heart-fool proclaims imbecility."F32 Moffatt has; "No cautious man blurts out all that he knows, but a fool comes out with his folly."F33

Verse 24
The hand of the diligent shall bear rule; But the slothful shall be put under taskwork.

The mention of taskwork here reminds us that, "Forced labor was Solomon's own inglorious introduction in Israel."F34 We might add that it was also the sin that divided the kingdom and disrupted the reign of Rehoboam, Solomon's son.

Verse 25
Heaviness in the heart of a man maketh it stoop; But a good word maketh it glad.

"A word of terror disturbs the heart of a (righteous) man, but a good message will gladden him."F35 In the first clause, the subject is anxiety; and the Savior, "Bids us beware of anxiety, and not to perplex ourselves with solicitude for the future (Matt. 6:34; 1 Pet. 5:7)."F36

Verse 26
The righteous is a guide to his neighbor; But the way of the wicked causeth them to err.

Here again one's obligation to his neighbor is stressed. The uncertainty of the Hebrew text here prompted this rendition: "A righteous man turns away from evil, but the way of the wicked leads them astray."F37

Verse 27
The slothful man roasteth not that which he took in hunting; But the precious substance of men [is to] the diligent.

"The slothful man will not catch his prey, but the diligent man will get precious wealth."F38 This, of course, is another `guess,' based upon the uncertainty of the Hebrew text.

Verse 28
In the way of righteousness is life; And in the pathway thereof there is no death.

How could a proverb like this need any comment or explanation whatever?

Footnotes for Proverbs 12
1: George Lawson's Commentary on Proverbs (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1980), p. 149.
2: C. F. Keil, Keil-Delitzsch's Old Testament Commentaries (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company), Vol. 6, p. 250.
3: The Douay Version of the Bible (New York: Catholic Book Publishing Company, 1948).
4: The Anchor Bible (Garden City, New York: Doubleday and Company, 1982), Vol. 18, p. 89.
5: The Good News Bible.
6: Adam Clarke's Commentary on the Bible (London: T. Mason and G. Lane, 1837), Vol. III, p. 735,
7: The Good News Bible.
8: The Easy-to-Read Version of the Bible (Fort Worth, Texas: World Bible Translation Center, 1992).
9: Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown's Commentary, p. 395.
10: International Critical Commentary, Vol. 17, p. 244.
11: Tyndale Old Testament Commentary, Vol. 15, p. 96.
12: Moffatt's translation.
13: The New International Version (NIV).
14: The Good News Bible.
15: Moffatt's translation.
16: The Cross-Reference Bible (New York: The Cross-Reference Bible Company, 1910), p. 1132.
17: Interpreter's Bible, Vol. 4. p. 853.
18: The Anchor Bible (Garden City, New York: Doubleday and Company, 1982).
19: Ibid.
20: The Good News Bible,
21: The Easy-to-Read Version of the Bible (Fort Worth, Texas: World Bible Translation Center, 1992).
22: The New International Version (NIV).
23: The Anchor Bible (Garden City, New York: Doubleday and Company, 1982).
24: The Interpreter's Bible, op. cit., p. 853.
25: International Critical Commentary, op. cit., p. 253.
26: Ibid.
27: The Greek Septuagint (LXX).
28: William Cullen Bryant, The Battlefield, Stanza 9.
29: International Critical Commentary, op. cit., p. 254.
30: The Easy-to-Read Version of the Bible (Fort Worth, Texas: World Bible Translation Center, 1992).
31: International Critical Commentary, op. cit., p. 254.
32: C. F. Keil, Keil-Delitzsch's Old Testament Commentaries (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company), Vol. 6, p. 264.
33: Moffatt's translation.
34: The New Layman's Bible Commentary, p. 715.
35: The Greek Septuagint (LXX).
36: The Pulpit Commentary, Vol. 9, p. 237.
37: The Revised Standard Version.
38: Ibid.

Copyright Statement
James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Bibliography Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Proverbs 12". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". <>. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.  


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