Another concern of Proverbs is drunkenness. The word usage here of “mocker” is a word that is translated as “scoffer.” Alcohol often makes a fool of a person. Alcohol robes a person of good sense. Tis first verse tells us that a drunkard is not wise.
Verse 2 warns against occurring the king’s wrath. One should be careful not to offend the king, as this could be fatal. Then in verse 3 we are warned against becoming involved with brawling. The fool goes about picking a fight or challenging others to fight. The wise will avoid such behavior.
Verse 4 tells us the necessity of doing the work of preparation if one expects to receive a reward. Plowing was the work of the fall after the crops were harvested. But the one who is lazy was too trifling to do such labor. He would suppose that the land would produce a crop without his labor. When the time for harvest comes again he will not have a harvest to sustain him. In verse 5 we see that the inner thoughts can be as deep as a bottomless pool. They can be so deep that the person them self may not know them. The wise one will be able to penetrate the deepest parts of their personality. This is the work of the modern counselor with their patients.
There is a world of difference between the claim of the righteous and their performance of righteousness. Many a person talks a good game of being upright but fail to produce righteous living. This is the message of verse 6. In verse 7 we see the blessing of having a righteous father. That is the best inheritance that one can have.
Verse 9 declares the universality of human sinfulness. “There is none righteous, not even one; There is none who understands, There is none who seeks for God; All have turned aside, together they have become useless; There is none who does good, There is not even one.” “Their throat is an open grave, With their tongues they keep deceiving,” “The poison of asps is under their lips”; “Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness”; “Their feet are swift to shed blood, Destruction and misery are in their paths, And the path of peace they have not known.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (Romans 3:10-18)
In verse 10 weights and measures is again addressed and a merchant who uses them falsely is a disgrace in the eyes of God. The unrighteous merchant defrauds the poor. Verse 12 acknowledges that God has made everything. Including all the body parts. Therefore nothing is unclean as everything belongs to God. This is the importance of good stewardship of the body.
Verse 13 speaks again of the hazard of being lazy. Verse 14 shows us a little Biblical humor. It is making reference to an old bargaining practice. The prospective buyer has nothing but disparaging remarks about the article he is about to purchase. He is disinterested until the price of the article has come down. He then buys it and walks away bragging of the bargain he received. Then in verse 15 we celebrate the value of wisdom. Gold and costly stones are metaphors symbolizing objects of great wealth. Verse 16 denounces the co-signing of a note. This practice could cost you your shirt.
Enjoying evil temporarily is the subject of verse 17. As a “mouth full of gravel” is not pleasant. In verse 18 we see we are to plan ahead. Nothing should be taken hastily even war. One should not allow emotion to overtake reason. (Luke 14:31) Verse 19 is an admonishment against associating with gossips. If a person associates with gossips they may find they are the subject of their loose talk. Gossips love nothing better that sharing the secrets of others. Verse 20 concerns our duty to honor our parents. The use of “lamp” represents life.
Verse 21 states that there are no shortcuts to long lasting prosperity. The interpretation of the prosperity of the wicked is one way of explaining the absence of justice which allowed the wicked to prosper. The righteous suffer poverty as well where there is no justice. In the end wrong never wins.
Question, was the Apostle Paul thinking of Proverbs 20:22 when he wrote Romans 12:19? “Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.” Verse 24 claims the sovereignty of God. God’s is the one who orders the steps of men. In line 2 it is vain for us to try to understand all the mystery in our lives.
Verse 25 deplores the practice of taking vows thoughtlessly. Especially if one vows to dedicate something that they own. A rash vow does not show proper respect towards God. Jesus denounced such vows as a way of giving support to parents. (Mark 7:11-12) Verses 26 and 28 are additional Proverbs about the functions of the king. In verse 26 we have a metaphor of separating the wheat from the chaff by an ancient method of driving cartwheels over it. In 28 we see three qualities that are becoming to kingship.
In verse 27 we see a figure of speech recalling the act of God’s creation of man different from the animals by breathing into him the breath of life. The word “Spirit” is the same word as breath in Hebrew. The inner Goodness, or conscience, is God’s lamp, His search lamp on man’s inmost being.
Verse 29 is in opposition to today’s culture. Today we glorify youth and despise old age. The youth culture dominate the music and styles today. Verse 30 tells us that punishment is good for us. Punishment purges away evil.