Proverbs 20

1 Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.
2 A king’s wrath strikes terror like the roar of a lion; those who anger him forfeit their lives.
3 It is to one’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.
4 Sluggards do not plow in season; so at harvest time they look but find nothing.
5 The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out.
6 Many claim to have unfailing love, but a faithful person who can find?
7 The righteous lead blameless lives; blessed are their children after them.
8 When a king sits on his throne to judge, he winnows out all evil with his eyes.
9 Who can say, “I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin”?
10 Differing weights and differing measures— the LORD detests them both.
11 Even small children are known by their actions, so is their conduct really pure and upright?
12 Ears that hear and eyes that see— the LORD has made them both.
13 Do not love sleep or you will grow poor; stay awake and you will have food to spare.
14 “It’s no good, it’s no good!” says the buyer— then goes off and boasts about the purchase.
15 Gold there is, and rubies in abundance, but lips that speak knowledge are a rare jewel.
16 Take the garment of one who puts up security for a stranger; hold it in pledge if it is done for an outsider.
17 Food gained by fraud tastes sweet, but one ends up with a mouth full of gravel.
18 Plans are established by seeking advice; so if you wage war, obtain guidance.
19 A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid anyone who talks too much.
20 If someone curses their father or mother, their lamp will be snuffed out in pitch darkness.
21 An inheritance claimed too soon will not be blessed at the end.
22 Do not say, “I’ll pay you back for this wrong!” Wait for the LORD, and he will avenge you.
23 The LORD detests differing weights, and dishonest scales do not please him.
24 A person’s steps are directed by the LORD. How then can anyone understand their own way?
25 It is a trap to dedicate something rashly and only later to consider one’s vows.
26 A wise king winnows out the wicked; he drives the threshing wheel over them.
27 The human spirit is[a] the lamp of the LORD that sheds light on one’s inmost being.
28 Love and faithfulness keep a king safe; through love his throne is made secure.
29 The glory of young men is their strength, gray hair the splendor of the old.
30 Blows and wounds scrub away evil, and beatings purge the inmost being.

Proverbs 20 Commentary

Chapter 20

Verse 1 It seems hard to believe that men of the greatest abilities, as well as the ignorant, should render themselves fools and madmen, merely for the taste or excitement produced by strong liquors. Verse 2 . How formidable kings are to those who provoke them! how much more foolish then is it to provoke the King of kings! Verse 3 . To engage in quarrels is the greatest folly that can be. Yield, and even give up just demands, for peace' sake. Verse 4 . He who labours and endures hardship in his seed-time for eternity, will be properly diligent as to his earthly business. Verse 5 . Though many capable of giving wise counsel are silent, yet something may be drawn from them, which will reward those who obtain it. Verse 6 . It is hard to find those that have done, and will do more good than they speak, or care to hear spoken of. Verse 7 . A good man is not liable to uneasiness in contriving what he shall do, or in reflecting on what he has done, as those who walk in deceit. And his family fare better for his sake. Verse 8 . If great men are good men, they may do much good, and prevent very much evil. Verse 9 . Some can say, Through grace, we are cleaner than we have been; but it was the work of the Holy Spirit. Verse 10 . See the various deceits men use, of which the love of money is the root. The Lord will not bless what is thus gotten. Verse 11 . Parents should observe their children, that they may manage them accordingly. Verse 12 . All our powers and faculties are from God, and are to be employed for him. Verse 13 . Those that indulge themselves, may expect to want necessaries, which should have been gotten by honest labour. Verse 14 . Men use arts to get a good bargain, and to buy cheap; whereas a man ought to be ashamed of a fraud and a lie. Verse 15 . He that prefers true knowledge to riches, follows the ways of religion and happiness. If we really believed this truth, the word of God would be valued as it deserves, and the world would lose its tempting influence. Verse 16 . Those ruin themselves who entangle themselves in rash suretiship. Also those who are in league with abandoned women. Place no confidence in either. Verse 17 . Wealth gotten by fraud may be sweet, for the carnal mind takes pleasure in the success of wicked devices; but it will be bitter in the reflection. Verse 18 . Especially we need advice in spiritual warfare. The word and Spirit of God are the best counsellors in every point. Verse 19 . Those dearly buy their own praise, who put confidence in a man because he speaks fairly. Verse 20 . An undutiful child will become very miserable. Never let him expect any peace or comfort. Verse 21 . An estate suddenly raised, is often as suddenly ruined. Verse 22 . Wait on the Lord, attend his pleasure, and he will protect thee. Verse 23 . A bargain made by fraud will prove a losing bargain in the end. Verse 24 . How can we form plans, and conduct business, independently of the Lord? Verse 25 . The evasions men often use with their own consciences show how false and deceitful man is. Verse 26 . Justice should crush the wicked, and separate them from the virtuous. Verse 27 . The rational soul and conscience are as a lamp within us, which should be used in examining our dispositions and motives with the revealed will of God. Verse 28 . Mercy and truth are the glories of God's throne. Verse 29 . Both young and old have their advantages; and let neither despise or envy the other. Verse 30 . Severe rebukes sometimes do a great deal of good. But such is the corruption of nature, that men are loth to be rebuked for their sins. If God uses severe afflictions, to purify our hearts and fit us for his service, we have cause to be very thankful.

Cross References 45

  • 1. S Leviticus 10:9; Habakkuk 2:5
  • 2. S 1 Samuel 25:36
  • 3. 1 Kings 20:16
  • 4. Proverbs 31:4
  • 5. S Proverbs 19:12
  • 6. S Esther 7:7; S Proverbs 16:14; Proverbs 8:36
  • 7. S 1 Samuel 25:25
  • 8. S Genesis 13:8; Proverbs 17:14
  • 9. S Proverbs 6:6
  • 10. Ecclesiastes 10:18
  • 11. S Psalms 18:16
  • 12. Psalms 12:1
  • 13. S Psalms 26:1
  • 14. Psalms 37:25-26; Psalms 112:2
  • 15. S 1 Kings 7:7
  • 16. ver 26; Proverbs 25:4-5
  • 17. S Job 15:14
  • 18. 1 Kings 8:46; Ecclesiastes 7:20; 1 John 1:8
  • 19. ver 23; S Proverbs 11:1
  • 20. S Psalms 39:1; Matthew 7:16
  • 21. S Psalms 94:9
  • 22. S Proverbs 6:11; S Proverbs 19:15
  • 23. S Exodus 22:26
  • 24. Proverbs 27:13
  • 25. Proverbs 9:17
  • 26. Job 20:14; Lamentations 3:16
  • 27. Proverbs 11:14; Proverbs 24:6
  • 28. Proverbs 11:13
  • 29. Proverbs 30:11
  • 30. Exodus 21:17; S Job 18:5
  • 31. Proverbs 24:29
  • 32. Isaiah 37:20; Jeremiah 1:19; Jeremiah 42:11; Romans 12:19
  • 33. S ver 10; S Deuteronomy 25:13
  • 34. S Psalms 90:12
  • 35. S Job 33:29
  • 36. S Proverbs 19:21; Jeremiah 10:23
  • 37. S Proverbs 10:19; Proverbs 18:13; Ecc 5:2,4-5; Jeremiah 44:25
  • 38. S ver 8
  • 39. S Psalms 119:105
  • 40. S Proverbs 16:2
  • 41. Psalms 40:11
  • 42. S Proverbs 16:12; Isaiah 16:5; Proverbs 29:14
  • 43. Proverbs 16:31
  • 44. S Psalms 51:2; Proverbs 22:15
  • 45. Isaiah 1:5

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. Or "A person’s words are"

Proverbs 20 Commentaries

Scripture quoted by permission.  Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®.  NIV®.  Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica.  All rights reserved worldwide.