Proverbs 19

Chapter 19

Better Poor and Honest than Wealthy and Perverse[a]

1 It is better to be poor and lead an honest life
than to be wealthy and perverse in one’s ways.
2 Zeal is useless when not accompanied by knowledge,
and acting hastily causes one to stumble.
3 A man’s own folly leads to his ruin,
yet it is against the Lord that his heart rages.[b]
4 Wealth attracts many friends,
but a poor man’s only friend will desert him.
5 A false witness will not escape punishment,
neither will the one who tells lies.
6 Many court the favor of the great,
and everyone is a friend to a man who bestows gifts.
7 The poor man is despised by all his brothers;
how much more do his friends desert him!
He pursues them with entreaties
but all in vain.
8 Whoever gains wisdom loves his own soul;
one who cherishes understanding will prosper.
9 A false witness will not escape punishment,
and the one who tells lies will perish.
10 It is not fitting for a fool to live in luxury,
much less for a slave to rule over princes.
11 A man with good sense is slow to anger,
and he earns glory for overlooking an offense.
12 A king’s anger is like the roaring of a lion,
but his favor is like dew on the grass.
13 A foolish son[c] is a calamity to his father,
and a nagging wife is like an endless dripping of water.
14 A house and wealth are inherited from parents,
but a prudent wife is a gift from the Lord.
15 Laziness results in excessive sleep,
and an idle man suffers hunger.[d]
16 Whoever observes the commandments will live,
but the one who scorns them will die.
17 Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord[e]
who will recompense him for his kindness.
18 Chastise your son while there is still hope for him,
but do not allow your anger to cause his death.
19 One with a violent temper must bear the consequences;
if you spare him, you make his evil worse.[f]
20 Heed advice and accept instruction
so that your wisdom may increase in the future.
21 Many are the plans in a human mind,
but it is the purpose of the Lord that will prevail.[g]
22 A man’s attraction is his kindness;
it is far better to be poor than to be a liar.
23 The fear of the Lord[h] leads to life,
enabling one to eat and sleep without fear of harm.
24 The idler[i] will dip his hand into the dish,
but he will not so much as lift it to his mouth.
25 If you strike a scoffer,[j] the simple will learn prudence;
if you reprove an intelligent man, he will gain understanding.
26 Anyone who maltreats his father and casts out his mother[k]
is a shameful and despicable son.
27 If a son ceases to accept correction,
he strays from the words of knowledge.
28 A lying witness makes a mockery of justice,
and the mouth of the wicked feasts on iniquity.
29 Punishments were meant for scoffers
and flogging for the backs of fools.


  1. Proverbs 19:1 In the proverbs found in this chapter, we will pay special attention to those that describe the condition of the poor (vv. 1, 4-7, 17, 22) or those who care about the difficulty of obtaining justice (vv. 5, 9, 28); we will also note the theme of charity (the one who gives to the poor lends to God—v. 17) and mercy (v. 22). Once more, a warning is issued to idlers (vv. 15, 24), and reflections on the family and education are set forth (vv. 13-14, 18, 26). Our maxim “Man proposes but God disposes” is foreshadowed by the words in verse 21: Many are the plans in a human mind, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will prevail.
  2. Proverbs 19:3 It is against the Lord that his heart rages: i.e., he blames the Lord for all his troubles (see Gen 4:5; Isa 8:21; Lam 3:39).
  3. Proverbs 19:13 Foolish son: see Prov 17:21, 25. Nagging wife: she is also upbraided in Prov 21:9, 19; 25:24; 27:15.
  4. Proverbs 19:15 See note on Prov 10:4.
  5. Proverbs 19:17 Lends to the Lord: the Lord regards kindness to the poor as kindness done to him (see Mt 25:40).
  6. Proverbs 19:19 If you spare him, you make his evil worse: another possible translation: “If you rescue him, you will have to do it again.”
  7. Proverbs 19:21 See Prov 16:1; 16:9 and notes.
  8. Proverbs 19:23 Fear of the Lord: see note on Prov 1:7.
  9. Proverbs 19:24 Almost identical to Prov 26:15. Idler: see note on Prov 6:6.
  10. Proverbs 19:25 Strike a scoffer: see note on Prov 1:22; see also v. 29; 14:3. Simple: see note on Prov 1:4.
  11. Proverbs 19:26 Maltreats his father and casts out his mother: children were forbidden to maltreat their parents physically or verbally (see Ex 21:15, 17).

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