Commentary on the Bible, by Adam Clarke, , at sacred-texts.com
The worth of a poor upright man. Riches preserve friends. False witnesses. False friends. A king's wrath. The foolish son. The prudent wife. Slothfulness. Pity for the poor. The fear of the Lord. The spendthrift son. Obedience to parents.
Better is the poor - The upright poor man is always to be preferred to the rich or self-sufficient fool.
Also, that the soul be without knowledge, it is not good - Would it not be plainer, as it is more literal, to say, "Also, to be without knowledge, is not good for the soul?" The soul was made for God; and to be without his knowledge, to be unacquainted with him, is not only not good, but the greatest evil the soul can suffer, for it involves all other evils. The Chaldee and Syriac have: "He who knows not his own soul, it is not good to him." "Where no discretion is, there the soul is not well." - Coverdale.
And he that hasteth with his feet sinneth - And this will be the case with him who is not Divinely instructed. A child does nothing cautiously, because it is uninstructed; a savage is also rash and precipitate, till experience instructs him. A man who has not the knowledge of God is incautious, rash, headstrong, and precipitate: and hence he sinneth - he is continually missing the mark, and wounding his own soul.
The foolishness of man - Most men complain of cross providences, because they get into straits and difficulties through the perverseness of their ways; and thus they fret against God; whereas, in every instance, they are the causes of their own calamities. O how inconsistent is man!
The poor is separated from his neighbor - Because he has the "disease of all-shunned poverty."
Do hate him - They shun him as they do the person they hate. They neither hate him positively, nor love him: they disregard him; they will have nothing to do with him. שנא sana signifies not only to hate, but to show a less degree of love to one than another. So Jacob loved Rachel, but hated Leah - showed her less affection than he did to Rachel.
Delight is not seemly for a fool - תענוג taanug, splendid or luxurious living, rank, equipage, etc. These sit ill on a fool, though he be by birth a lord.
For a servant to have rule over princes - I pity the king who delivers himself into the hands of his own ministers. Such a one loses his character, and cannnot be respected by his subjects, or rather their subjects. But it is still worse when a person of mean extraction is raised to the throne, or to any place of power; he is generally cruel and tyrannical.
It is his glory to pass over a transgression - "No," says what is termed a man of honor; "he must meet me as a gentleman; I must have his blood, let God say what he will." O poor, dastardly coward! thou canst not bear the reproach of poor, flimsy, paltry fellows who ridicule thee, because thou hast refused to commit murder. Such laws should be put down by law; and the man that gives a challenge should be hanged, because he intends to commit murder.
The king's wrath is as the roaring of a lion - There is nothing more dreadful than the roaring of this tyrant of the forest. At the sound of it all other animals tremble, flee away, and hide themselves. The king who is above law, and rules without law, and whose will is his own law, is like the lion. This is strongly descriptive of the character of Asiatic sovereigns.
The contentions of a wife are a continual dropping - The man who has got such a wife is like a tenant who has got a cottage with a bad roof through every part of which the rain either drops or pours. He can neither sit, stand work, nor sleep, without being exposed to these droppings. God help the man who is in such a case, with house or wife!
A prudent wife is from the Lord - One who has a good understanding, אשה משכלת ishshah mascaleth; who avoids complaining, though she may often have cause for it.
Into a deep sleep - תרדמה tardemah, the same into which Adam was thrown, before Eve was taken from his side. Sloth renders a man utterly unconscious of all his interests. Though he has frequently felt hunger, yet he is regardless that his continual slothfulness must necessarily plunge him into more sufferings.
Lendeth unto the Lord - O what a word is this! God makes himself debtor for every thing that is given to the poor! Who would not advance much upon such credit? God will pay it again. And in no case has he ever forfeited his word.
Let not thy soul spare for his crying - This is a hard precept for a parent. Nothing affects the heart of a parent so much as a child's cries and tears. But it is better that the child may be caused to cry, when the correction may be healthful to his soul, than that the parent should cry afterwards, when the child is grown to man's estate, and his evil habits are sealed for life.
A man of great wrath - He who is of an irritable, fiery disposition, will necessarily get himself into many broils; and he that is surety for him once is likely to be called on again and again for the same friendly office.
There are many devices, etc. - The same sentiment as in Pro 16:1 (note), where see the note.
A slothful man hideth his hand in his bosom - Is too lazy to feed himself, If he dip his hand once in the dish, he is too lazy to put it in a second time. It is a strange case that a man, through his excessive slothfulness, would rather starve than put himself to the trouble to eat.
He that wasteth his father - Destroys his substance by riotous or extravagant living, so as to embitter his latter end by poverty and affliction; and adds to this wickedness the expulsion of his aged widowed mother from the paternal house; is a son of shame - a most shameful man; and a son of reproach - one whose conduct cannot be sufficiently execrated. Who tormentith the fader, and fleeth the modir, schenful schal ben, and unblisful - Old MS. Bible. The common reading of the Vulgate is, et fugat matrem, and expels his mother; but the Old Bible was taken from a copy that had fugit matrem, shuns his mother, flees away from her, leaves her to affliction and penury. It is prostitution of the term to call such, man.
Cease, my son - Hear nothing that would lead thee away from God and his truth.
Stripes for the back of fools - Profane and wicked men expose themselves to the punishments denounced against such by just laws. Avoid, therefore, both their company and their end.