The Proverbs of Solomon: Chap. 11:11-20

Proverbs 11:11‑20  •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 13
Simon Patrick on the Proverbs 1683
11. "By the blessing of the upright the city is exalted: but it is overthrow by the mouth of the wicked." Men of unbiased virtue make a city flourish by the blessings they procure for it from heaven, by their prayers, by their prudent advice, their pious admonitions, and their constant study of the public good; but the wicked, by their blasphemies, their evil counsels, their pestilent maxims, their impious doctrines, whereby they corrupt men's manners, utterly subvert the good estate thereof.
12. "He that is void of wisdom despiseth his neighbor: but a man of understanding holdeth his peace." It is a great weakness to speak contemptuously of any man, or to render him ridiculous (for no man is so mean but he is sensible of despisal, and may find ways to show his resentment), therefore a thoroughly prudent person, whatsoever he thinks of others, saith nothing to their reproach.
13. "A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter." A man whose trade it is to ingratiate himself by defaming others, will not stick most treacherously to discover the secrets wherewith they have entrusted him: but a man whose mind is steadfastly fixed to be true and faithful to his neighbors, will study (though they have not desired him) to hide those things, which being known may prove injurious to them.
14. "Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety." Where prudent counselors are wanting a nation goes to wrack, as certainly as a ship cloth without a pilot: nor is one sufficient; but then a country is safe when there are many wise men to govern affairs that if one fail, there may be enow [enough that] still remain; or what one or two sees not, others may be able to discern.
15. "He that is surety for a stranger shall smart for it: and he that hateth suretyship is sure." He is in great danger to be undone who stands bound to pay the debts of another man, especially of a stranger whose ability and honesty is unknown to him: and the way to be secure from that fear is not only to avoid such engagements oneself, but to abhor to see other men enter into them.
16. "A gracious woman retaineth honor: and strong men retain riches." Beauty and virtue in a woman advances her to honor; as formidable strength and power in men advances them to riches: and as their principal care is to keep their treasures, so hers should be to preserve her reputation.
17. "The merciful man doeth good to his own soul: but he that is cruel troubleth his own flesh." He that hath an heart to be kind and bountiful unto his neighbors, will have this advantage by it, among many others, that he will not deny what is fit and convenient to himself: whereas the covetous and hard-hearted, as he hath no regard to his nearest relations, so he pinches his own flesh by his sordid way of living.
18. "The wicked worketh a deceitful work: but to him that soweth righteousness shall be a sure reward." He thinks perhaps hereby to raise himself, or his posterity to greatness, but like all other wicked men, will be deceived in his expectations; for the event of his actions never answers the design: but virtuous men shall infallibly reap the fruit of their pious, just and charitable labors.
19. "As righteousness tendeth to life: so he that pursueth evil pursueth it to his own death." Thus God orders it in His providence, and thus it is in the nature of things that virtue tends to make men happy: but the more eagerly any man pursues an evil thing, the more he is bent upon his own destruction.
20. "They that are of a froward heart are abomination to the Lord: but such as are upright in their way are His delight." Of all other men they are most odious to the Lord who pretend to justice, kindness and truth; but study and devise how to compass their ends, though it be by the wickedest means: as on the contrary, they whose exact observance of the rules of righteousness in the whole course of their lives, testify the integrity of their hearts, are highly in His favor and love.