In verse 1 using the King James it is difficult to translate whereas the Revised Standard gives a better means to understand. There we see that once a person has excluded himself and has become a rebel they find fault with everything and everybody. This attitude tends to become a defense to justify their own evilness.
These following verses are about the importance of speech. Verses 2-3; 6-8; 13; 20-21. The book of Proverbs has some preoccupation to the power of words to accomplish either good or harm signifies the importance that is attached to speech. In verse 2 we see that the fool has no intention to learn anything. The fool is more interested in hearing himself talk. In verse 4 the recognition of the importance of what one says is as “deep waters” and “fountains of wisdom.” Both of these observations supposes that the speaker is a wise person. On the other hand verse 6 is a contrast of the result of a fool’s speech. A fool by the words of his mouth stirs up trouble and invites punishment to himself. In verse 7 we see essentially the same thing. A fool is found out and is ruined by his speech. The fool’s words become a snare to him and he is caught by his own words. Verse 8 tends to the gossip. As destructive as gossip is we still enjoy it like a tasty morsel. In verse 13 hasty speech is deplorable. It is aimed at those who pop off without knowing what they are talking about. One should always know the facts before they pass judgment. Verse 20 suggest that speech is not just talk but is as work well done. Well-chosen and thought out word usage will bring deep satisfaction. Verse 21 goes further, stating that the tongue has the power of life and death. This all is something to think about even when we are just kidding around.
In verse 3 we see the law of consequences stated another way. Contempt and disgrace are the pay off of a life lived in wickedness. Verse 5 deals with the injustice in a court of law. Here the judge acquits the guilty and deprives the innocent of justice.
In verse 9 we see the relationship between laziness and destructiveness. The Proverb here reflect the high value placed upon the work of the wise. Lazy people are destroyers of both the public good and themselves.
Verse 10 lays claim on the “name of the Lord” as the refuge of the righteous. In the Old Testament a “name” stands for one’s character. “The name of the Lord” is who God is. In God’s nature and being there is a refuge, a safe place for the righteous.
In verse 11 wealth is a source of power. This is an observation that we see stated in our time. No moral judgment is passed on that fact of life in this Proverb. We must remember that in general the wise considered wealth as a sign of God’s approval.
Verse 12 is about the sin of pride. Sometimes we have to suffer trials before we are willing to be humble. We will find true honor only in true humility. Verse 14 states that if your spirit is in good condition, then you can endure the sufferings of the body’s sickness. If the spirit is not in good condition then everything will be wrong. Sickness of the mind and spirit is a worse condition than sickness of the body.
Verse 15 is one of many saluting the virtue of wisdom and intelligence. Only the truly educated know how little they know. For this reason they are willing to learn even more. In verse 16 we see that the giving of a gift will open doors that otherwise would remain closed. No moral judgment is given here but one can see how a gift could become a bribe.
Verse 17 relates to evidence in a trial. In any argument the first person to give evidence for himself is likely to make a strong case for himself. Often when the other side of the argument is heard the truth becomes clear. This is a good Proverb for people that are involved in a material conflict. “There are two sides to every question.”
In verse 18 we see the ancient practice of casting lots. This was a method used to make a decision between two contenders. It is most like drawing straws today. We observe in verse 19 that one can make a strong ally by helping a brother. On the other side strong arguing erects barriers between the two.
Verse 22 is a celebration of a good marriage. The Proverb says that a good wife is a favor from the Lord. Verse 23 speaks about money and its power. The poor have no money but the rich can throw their weight around and run over others simply because they are rich.
In verse 24 friendship is celebrated. In this verse all who claim to be friends sometimes are not real friends. If you have a real friend, then you are fortunate, for you also have a brother.