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Second Part of Major Solomonic Collection Cont'd (Proverbs 18:22–20:4)

42. Diverse Teachings (18:22–20:4)

"TYPE: THEMATIC, RANDOM REPETITION, INCLUSIO SERIES....The verses of this text do not readily organize into small, discrete units. At the same time, this is not simply a jumbled collection of unrelated proverbs. Within this section are many parallel or similar verses, and some of these serve as structural markers. Also, a number of proverbs are collected into groups that follow distinct themes, although the borders of these groups may not be clearly marked.

"First, 18:22 and 19:13-14, describing family life and repeating the assertion that a good wife is from the Lord, are an inclusio that marks off a section of verses. This does not mean that all intervening verses concern wife and family, but the opening and closing assertions that a good wife is a gift of Yahweh are significant.... Second, proverbs on laziness (19:15,24; 20:4) demarcate two further sections. Once again, this does not mean that the intervening proverbs concern laziness. In addition, two pairs of similar proverbs in chiastic order [when taken together] on forbearance and a king's wrath (19:11-12; 20:2-3) close off the major sections.

"Three sections that for the most part adhere to common themes occur within these three divisions. There are (1) the inequities and abandonment suffered by the poor (18:23–19:10), (2) the disciplined life (19:16-23), and (3) the mocker (19:25–20:1). Thus the structure of the whole is illustrated below.

"In addition, many verses closely parallel each other either within or between the sections. Close parallels include 19:1 and 19:22; 19:4 and 19:7a,b; 19:5 and 19:9; 19:8 and 19:16. Also 19:17, on kindness to the poor, appears to be a response to 18:23–19:10. These interrelationships among the verses have two functions. First, they help to tie the whole text together; and second, by randomly repeating certain points, they reinforce the lessons in the reader's mind" (NAC).

Most scholars agree that the first colon of Proverbs 18:24 is mistranslated in the King James and New King James Versions. While it is true that a key to friendship is being friendly, this is evidently not what the proverb says. Indeed, how would this contrast with the loyalty of a true friend in the second colon? On the phrase "must himself be friendly," the NKJV gives the following marginal note: "Masoretic Text reads may come to ruin." Several modern translations render the verse accordingly. The New American Bible has "Some friends bring ruin upon us." The Expositor's Bible Commentary notes on the phrase: " The Hebrew lehith ro‘ea‘ is difficult. It means 'for being crushed' or 'to be shattered' but not 'to show oneself friendly' (cf. KJV). The idea may be that there are friends to one's undoing....If a person has friends who are unreliable, he may still come to ruin, especially if these nominal friends use him. The second line is clearer: 'there is a friend {’oheb} who sticks closer than a brother.' This indeed is a rare treasure!" Indeed, Proverbs 19:4 highlights the fickle nature of fair-weather friends. And verse 7 shows that even brothers may abandon a person in adversity. Thus the need for a true, loyal friend who is closer than a brother. The epitome of such a friend is Jesus Christ.

Proverbs 19:2 says that uninformed rashness leads to error or sin.

Verses 5 and 9 about judgment on a false witness share the same first colon, while the second cola are similar (see also 21:28).

Verses 16-23 of Proverbs 19 "all revolve around the theme of the disciplined and prudent life" (NAC, note on verses 16-23). "This section has been structured as follows:

As noted earlier in regard to Proverbs 14:31, 19:17 says that how we treat others in need is essentially how we treat God (again, compare Matthew 25:31-46). And He will reward our kindness.

Proverbs 19:23 expresses the value of the "fear of the LORD," on which all other instruction is to be based (1:7; 9:10). The Nelson Study Bible says the following about the word "fear" here: "(Heb[rew] yir'ah) (9:10; 16:6; 19:23) Strong's #3374: This Hebrew word signifies awe in regarding what is unknown or potentially dangerous. Sometimes it refers to fear or terror inspired by danger or one's enemies (Ps. 56:4). More often, it means 'reverence,' particularly for God (19:23). The use of this word does not imply that one needs to be afraid of God, but it does demand the appropriate recognition and respect for God's fearsome qualities, such as His righteous wrath (see Ps 5:4-7). The fear of God—that is, the proper respect of God—compels us to abandon our evil ways (16:6) and teaches us wisdom (9:10). Perhaps somewhat ironically, fear of God leads to confidence in this life, for if we have submitted to the Almighty we do not have to fear any other power in this world....because the Almighty is our Protector (see 14:26, 27; Heb. 13:6)" ("WordFocus: Fear," sidebar on Proverbs 19:23).

The verse here says that the person who fears God "will not be visited with evil." Of course, Job feared God and was visited with evil, as Satan directly attacked him. So what are we to make of this? We should understand the proverb as a general principle over the course of life. Things generally go well for the people of God, but He at times allows major trials to come on them. Yet even in these circumstances, God only allows things to go so far with the intent of shaping and molding His people for an eternal place in His Kingdom. He never ceases to exercise care and protection. Moreover, visitation with evil or calamity here could imply being overthrown by catastrophic circumstances. And no matter what calamity befalls those who fear God, they will not be overcome by it but will persevere with God's aid. He will cause it to work out for good in the long run (Romans 8:28).

As noted in our introduction to the book of Proverbs, chapter 20 contains some principles also found in the Egyptian "Instructions of Anii"—such as avoiding drunkenness and the company of brawlers. In its note on Proverbs 20:1, the Zondervan NIV Study Bible says that "those who overindulge become mockers and brawlers (see Hos 7:5...). Proverbs associates drunkenness with poverty (see 23:20-21...), strife (23:29-30) and injustice (31:4-5)."

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