Proverbs 12:26

26 One who is righteous is a guide to his neighbor,[a] but the way of the wicked leads them astray.

Proverbs 12:26 Meaning and Commentary

Proverbs 12:26

The righteous [is] more excellent than his neighbour
Not than his neighbour who is righteous also; for though one may have more excellent gifts than another, or a larger measure of grace; one righteous man may have more faith than another, yet not more righteousness; every truly righteous man is justified by the same righteousness, even the righteousness of Christ; and therefore one cannot be more excellent, considered as righteous: but the righteous is more excellent than his neighbour, who is ungodly and unrighteous, or however who has no other righteousness than his own; though his neighbour may be of more noble birth, and have even the title of "his excellency" given him; though he may have a larger share of wealth and riches; and though he may have attained a greater degree of natural wisdom and understanding, be a man of brighter parts, and of a larger capacity; yet, being righteous, he is more excellent than he: his superior excellency lies in his righteousness, from whence he is denominated; the righteousness of Christ, imputed to him, is far better than the best righteousness of his neighbour; it being the righteousness of God, his is the righteousness of a creature; a perfect righteousness, whereas his is imperfect; a splendid and glorious one, his filthy rags; a very extensive one, by which all the seed of Israel are justified, his such as not one individual person can be justified by it; an everlasting one, that will answer for him that has it in a time to come, his like the morning cloud and early dew that passes away; yea, the inherent righteousness of a righteous man, or the grace of Christ, imparted to him and implanted in him, that principle of holiness in him is greatly better than the righteousness of his neighbour a Pharisee; for this is true and real holiness, truth in the inward part, whereas the other's is only a shadow of holiness, a form of godliness without the power; this has the Spirit of God for its author, it is his workmanship, and a curious piece it is, whereas the other is only the produce of nature; this makes a man all glorious within, and gives him a meetness for heaven, whereas, notwithstanding the other, the man is inwardly full of all manner of iniquity, and has neither a right nor meetness for eternal glory. Nay, the external works of righteousness done by a truly righteous man are preferable to his neighbour's, destitute of the grace of God; the one being a course of obedience to the will of God, and a respect to all his commandments; when the other consists only of a little negative holiness, and of an observance of a few rituals of religion: the one spring from a heart purified by the blood of Christ, and the grace of the Spirit, and from principles of grace and love, and are done to the glory of God; whereas the other do not arise from a pure heart, and faith unfeigned; nor are they done sincerely, with a view to the glory of God: only to be seen of men, and gain credit and reputation among them; and in these respects the righteous man is more excellent as such than his neighbour, who at most and best is only externally and morally righteous: his superior excellency does not lie in nature, in which they are both alike; nor in outward circumstances, in which they may differ; nor in the opinion of men, with whom the saints are the offscouring of all things; but in the, esteem of Christ, and through his grace and righteousness; see ( Psalms 16:3 ) ; Some render the words, "the righteous explores [his way] more than his neighbour" F14; seeks and finds out a better way than he does; and is careful that he is not seduced and carried out of the why, and perish; but the way of the wicked seduceth them;
or causes them to err; it deceives, by promising the honour, pleasure, and profit, which it does not lead unto and give, and which they find not in it; and hereby they are led to wander from the way of the righteous, by which they attain a superior excellency to them.


F14 (qydu wherm rty) "justus explorat viam suam prae socio suo", Gejerus; "explorat pro compascuo suo justus", Schultens; "explorate ducit proximum suum justus", Cocceius.

Proverbs 12:26 In-Context

24 The hand of the diligent will rule, while the slothful will be put to forced labor.
25 Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.
26 One who is righteous is a guide to his neighbor, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.
27 Whoever is slothful will not roast his game, but the diligent man will get precious wealth.
28 In the path of righteousness is life, and in its pathway there is no death.

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. Or The righteous chooses his friends carefully
The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.