Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown on Proverbs
Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown:
Proverbs Chapter 20:
(tap on a verse number below to return to Bridges' comments)


1. Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.
mocker--scorner. Such men are made by wine.
strong drink--made by spicing wine (compare Isaiah 5:11, Isaiah 5:22); and it may include wine.
raging--or boisterous as a drunkard.
deceived--literally, "erring," or reeling.

2. The fear of a king is as the roaring of a lion: whoso provoketh him to anger sinneth
(Compare Proverbs 19:12). Men who resist authority injure themselves (Romans 13:2).

3. It is an honour for a man to cease from strife: but every fool will be meddling.
to cease from strife--or, better, "to dwell from or without strife," denoting the habit of life.
fool . . . meddling-- (Proverbs 17:14).

4. The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing. {cold: or, winter}
shall . . . beg--literally, "ask" (in this sense, Psalm 109:10).

5. Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water; but a man of understanding will draw it out.
Counsel . . . water--that is, deeply hidden (Proverbs 18:4, Psalm 13:2). The wise can discern well.

6. Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find? {goodness: or, bounty}
Boasters are unreliable.
goodness--or, "kind disposition."

7. The just man walketh in his integrity: his children are blessed after him.
The conduct of good men proclaims their sound principles. God's covenant and their good example secure blessing to their children (Proverbs 4:26, Psalm 112:1-2).

8. A king that sitteth in the throne of judgment scattereth away all evil with his eyes.
As in Proverbs 14:35, Proverbs 16:10, Proverbs 16:15, this is the character of a good king, not of all kings.

9. Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?
The interrogation in the affirmative strengthens the implied negation (compare Job 15:14, Eccl. 7:20).

10. Divers weights, and divers measures, both of them are alike abomination to the LORD. {Divers weights: Heb. A stone and a stone} {divers measures: Heb. an ephah and an ephah}
Various measures, implying that some are wrong (compare Proverbs 11:1, Proverbs 16:11).

11. Even a child is known by his doings,Ü whether his work be pure, and whether it be right.
The conduct of children even is the best test of principle (compare Matt. 7:16).

12. The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the LORD hath made even both of them.
Hence, of course, God will know all you do (Psalm 94:9).

13. Love not sleep, lest thou come to poverty; open thine eyes, and thou shalt be satisfied with bread.
Activity and diligence contrasted with sloth (Proverbs 6:9, Proverbs 10:11).
lest . . . poverty--literally, "be deprived of inheritance."

14. It is naught, it is naught, saith the buyer: but when he is gone his way, then he boasteth.
when . . . his way--implying that he goes about boasting of his bargains.

15. There is gold, and a multitude of rubies: but the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel.
The contrast denotes the greater value of knowledge (compare Proverbs 3:14-16).

16. Bread of deceit is sweet to a man; but afterwards his mouth shall be filled with gravel. {deceit: Heb. lying, or, falsehood}
Take his garment--implies severe exaction, justified by the surety's rashness.
a strange woman--by some readings "strangers," but the former here, and in Proverbs 27:13, is allowable, and strengthens the sense. The debauchee is less reliable than the merely careless.

17. Bread of deceit is sweet to a man; but afterwards his mouth shall be filled with gravel. {deceit: Heb. lying, or, falsehood}
Bread . . . sweet--either as unlawfully (Proverbs 9:17) or easily obtained.
mouth . . . gravel--well expresses the pain and grief given at last.

18. Every purpose is established by counsel: and with good advice make war.
(Compare Proverbs 15:22). Be careful and considerate in important plans.

19. He that goeth about as a talebearer revealeth secrets: therefore meddle not with him that flattereth with his lips. {flattereth: or, enticeth}
Those who love to tell news will hardly keep secrets.
flattereth . . . lips--(compare Margin; Proverbs 1:10).
meddle . . . him--literally, "join," or "associate with."

20. Whoso curseth his father or his mother, his lamp shall be put out in obscure darkness. {lamp: or, candle}
his lamp--(Compare Proverbs 13:9, Proverbs 24:20).

21. An inheritance may be gotten hastily at the beginning; but the end thereof shall not be blessed.
gotten hastily--contrary to God's providence (Proverbs 28:20), implying its unjust or easy attainment; hence the man is punished, or spends freely what he got easily (compare Proverbs 20:17).

22. Say not thou, I will recompense evil; but wait on the LORD, and he shall save thee.
(Compare Psalm 27:14, Romans 12:17-19).

23. Divers weights are an abomination unto the LORD; and a false balance is not good. {a false...: Heb. balance of deceit}
(Compare Proverbs 20:10, Proverbs 11:1).

24. Manís goings are of the LORD; how can a man then understand his own way?
Man's goings--literally, "Stately steppings of a strong man."
a man--any common man.
understand--or, "perceive."

25. It is a snare to the man who devoureth that which is holy, and after vows to make enquiry.
devoureth . . . holy--or, better, "who rashly speaks promises," or "devotes what is holy," consecrating any thing. This suits better the last clause, which expresses a similar view of the results of rashly vowing.

26. A wise king scattereth the wicked, and bringeth the wheel over them.
(Compare Proverbs 20:8).
bringeth . . . over them--The wheel was used for threshing grain. The figure denotes severity (compare Amos 1:3).

27. The spirit of man is the candle of the LORD, searching all the inward parts of the belly. {candle: or, lamp}
The spirit . . . Lord--Men's minds are God's gifts, and thus able to search one another (compare Proverbs 20:5, Proverbs 18:8, Proverbs 18:17, 1Chron. 2:11).

28. Mercy and truth preserve the king: and his throne is upholden by mercy.
(Compare Proverbs 3:3, Proverbs 16:6, Proverbs 16:12).

29. The glory of young men is their strength: and the beauty of old men is the gray head.
The glory of young men . . . the beauty of old men--Each age has its peculiar excellence (Proverbs 16:31).

30. The blueness of a wound cleanseth away evil: so do stripes the inward parts of the belly. {cleanseth...: Heb. is a purging medicine against}
blueness--literally, "joining," the process of uniting the edges of a wound throws off purulent matter.
stripes . . . belly--So punishment provides healing of soul (Proverbs 18:8), by deterring from evil courses.