In verse 1 the young men are told they are to be honest in business. They are not to cheat their customers by using false balances. Morality is not theoretical but is on a practical level. Such as, using honest weights and measures when doing business.
In several places in Proverbs pride is condemned and humility is praised. (11:2; 13:10; 16:18-19; 18:12; 22:4) Here in verse two pride is seen as a prelude to disgrace.
Verse 4 tells us that money is not everything. This is surprising as there is a high value placed upon wealth as evidence of the Lord’s blessing upon the one who is wealthy. But “in the day of wrath,” as in time of calamity, money will not be of value in purchasing deliverance. Only the one who is upright holds the coin for that transaction. In verse 8 we see the familiar contrast between the righteous and the wicked, while verse 9 decries slander and gossip. Verse 10 reflects the social value of righteousness, as when the righteous prosper the whole of the city rejoices in the boom to the economy. When the wicked perish that city becomes glad, as they now no longer have to endure the wicked ones oppression. Verse 11 continues the theme of the city and its blessing and curse from the righteous and the wicked.
The gossipers and the talebearers are held in contempt in verse 13. In verse 15 we see a two line Proverb that summarizes the teaching of Proverbs 6:1-5. It is a warning against placing one’s self in the power of another’s debts. Verse 17 tells us that kindness not only helps others but is a benefit to the one showing kindness. The opposite of that response is cruelty. When you try to hurt someone else you end up hurting yourself. We see another contrast in verse 18 between the ways of wickedness and righteousness. The wages of the wicked is deceptive. He gets what he works for and the money he gets is counterfeit money. The one who is righteous gets a genuine reward. In verse 21 we see the laws of retribution are inescapable. “Be assured” means literally “you can shake hands on it.” it is as men sealing an agreement by saying, “That’s it, the matter is settled.” God is saying that we can count on evil being punished.
Verse 22 gives us a humorous observation about the inappropriateness of crude behavior on the prat of a woman. It is out of place as a woman with a gold nose ring put on a pig’s snout. Gold nose rings were a beautiful compliment to a lady’s dress.
In verses 24-28 we see the virtues of using material resources in a generous way. Again we see the truth presented in the contrast of life-styles. The one is generous in giving and still seems to have enough for his needs. Is this a coincidence? The wise do not think so. It is God’s doing. While another holds back what his moral and religious duty requires him to give. Instead of having plenty he seems to never have enough. His condition is no more coincidental than it is for the other. Verse 25’s two lines say basically the same thing. But line two expands upon the first line about a generous person. Verse 26 says more on the verse 24. Here the reference is to the merchant. The merchant has a corner on the grain market in the village and withholds it. He is doing this to wait until the price for the grain goes up and he can make a greater profit. We would call this being a smart businessman but the Bible considers it a form of sinful greed and an exploitation of the helpless. In verse 28 we have a summary on the observations about the use and misuse of money by predicting the downfall of the person who puts his trust in money. We should remember that the wise did not consider wealth in itself to be evil. They believed that wealth showed that they had the favor of God. But if one become haughty, proud, and greedy, and made his money an idol, the blessing would become a curse.
In verse 30 the “tree of life” is a metaphor calling up the tree of life in Genesis 2. But verse 31 is pragmatic in understanding. That thought is that the righteous and the wicked will receive their reward for their deeds in this life. Perhaps at the time of this writing there was not much belief in the afterlife. Therefore for the writer the outcome of one’s moral character would have to be justified during their earthly life.