Proverbs 11 Study Notes


11:1 On dishonest scales, see Dt 25:13-16.

11:2 Arrogance makes a person an obstinate fool or mocker (see note at 1:22) who will be disgraced (13:18). Wisdom comes from the fear of the Lord (9:10), which comes from faith and presupposes humility—giving up arrogance and self-sufficiency.

11:3 Integrity implies genuineness and reliability. Perversity implies subversion and deceit, treachery (see note at 2:20-22), and destructiveness.

11:4 Wealth here should be understood to refer to wealth obtained by wickedness.

11:5 To clear a path is literally to make it straight, to improve it so it is easy to walk on. A blameless person will not grow weary or fall on such a path and so will reach his destination.

11:6 Verse 6b is a version of the theme that the wicked are caught by their own malicious schemes.

11:7-8 Verse 7 implies that when a righteous person dies, his hope does not vanish. The book of Proverbs supports this implication of eternal rewards, including vv. 6,8 here (see note at 3:22).

11:9 Though the ungodly spread slander, the righteous are rescued through their own knowledge and that of their acquaintances. Those who know them realize the slander is untrue.

11:10-11 The well-being of a city depends on the thriving of the righteous and the death of the wicked. The blessing of the upright probably refers to the blessing God bestows on them.

11:12 On lacks sense, see note at 6:30-33.

11:13 A gossip spreads slander (Lv 19:16; Jr 6:28; 9:4; Ezk 22:9).

11:14 The wisest plans come from a group of counselors.

11:15 To guarantee a loan for a stranger may be kind, but it is foolish.

11:16 This proverb teaches that there is something more important than riches (cp. v. 28; 22:1). It is also significant that one gracious woman might obtain a greater reward than many violent people.

11:17 The kind man is one who acts with faithful love (Hb chesed, see note at 19:22). He looks out for others. Conversely, the cruel person is merciless and unfaithful, having no concern for others.

11:18 The empty wage is insubstantial, deceptive—its appearance differs from reality. The true reward is dependable. There is a Hebrew pun in this verse. The word for “empty” is sheqer and the word for “reward” is seker.

11:19 On life, see note at 3:22.

11:20 This proverb has connections to 10:9; 19:1; and 28:6. The word blameless here is related to the word “integrity” in those three verses above (see note at 2:7); twisted here is related to “perverts” in 10:9, “deceitful” in 19:1, and “distorts” in 28:6 (see “crooked” in note at 2:15); and conduct is related to “his ways” in 10:9 and “right and wrong” in 28:6. So a poor man with integrity (19:1; 28:6), whose conduct is blameless, is well off because the Lord delights in him. Conversely, the person with a twisted mind or deceitful lips (19:1), who perverts his ways (10:9) and distorts right and wrong (28:6), is at a great disadvantage, even if he is rich, because he will be found out (10:9) and is detestable to the Lord. If he persists, he is a fool (Hb kesiyl, 19:1).

11:21 Be assured is literally “hand to hand.” It may mean that it is as sure as a contract solemnized by a handshake (6:1). On not go unpunished, see note at 6:27-29. Righteousness is so powerful that even the next generation of the righteous is likely to escape eternal death due to the influence a parent’s righteousness has on their offspring (Ex 20:6; cp. Ezk 18).

11:22 The pig was an unclean animal; no amount of adornment could make up for this fundamental defect.

11:23 The desire of the righteous is to do good to others, and this turns out well for them. The wicked intend wrath for others, but their only hope for the future is wrath upon themselves.

11:24 To give freely is literally to “scatter”—to be generous without worrying about where the blessings fall.

11:25 God will bless the one who serves the needy.

11:26 The king of Moab refused to sell grain to the traveling Israelites and came under God’s curse (Dt 2:26-31), while Joseph sold grain during a famine and was blessed (Gn 41:56; 47:13-20).

11:27 What is good refers to the well-being of one’s neighbor, and trouble means to cause them harm (Bruce Waltke).

11:28 The righteous trust in God and do what is right, but the wicked trust in their wealth and end up in ruin.

11:29 To inherit the wind is to end up with nothing.

11:30 The second part of this verse is difficult. The Hebrew reads literally “the one taking lives is wise.” Elsewhere in the Bible the phrase take a life is always negative (1:19; 1Sm 24:11; 1Kg 19:10,14; Ps 31:13; Ezk 33:6); it never means “to win a soul.” But it does not fit with the rest of Scripture to say that the person who kills people is wise, so there must be another explanation. The CSB interprets take to mean “captivate” in this context, so a wise person attracts and holds the attention of people. The LXX implies the original Hebrew might have read “violence” (chamas) insteadof “wise” (chakam), thus “violence takes lives.”

11:31 How much more argues from the lesser to the greater (15:11; 17:7; 19:7,10; 21:27). This is not to say that the punishment of the wicked is more certain than the blessing of the righteous. But if God’s impartial judgment begins with the righteous, then the sinful will not escape (1Pt 4:18).