Bad folks run a groaner of a show
- 29:1 If you stubbornly, repeatedly reject good advice,
You’ll snap. Nothing will fix this break.
- 29:2 When good people rise to power, folks celebrate.
When bad people run the show, it’s a groaner.
- 29:3 Young men who love to learn make their papas happy.
Young men who spend quality time with hookers waste their money.
- 29:4 When a king rules with justice, the nation remains stable,
Until a man who takes bribes steals it away in a coup.
Fake flattery is a trap for friends
- 29:5 When someone fake flatters a friend,
They’re laying a net to trap the friend.
- 29:6 When a bad person gets caught in a trap set by his own misbehavior,
Good people celebrate and sing happy songs.
- 29:7 Good people care about the troubles of the poor.
Bad people can’t understand why.
- 29:8 Hecklers and bummed contrarians stir up riots in a city.
Smart people find a way to calm things down.
Fools laugh off wise advice like a joke
- 29:9 If a wise person gets into an argument with a fool,
The fool merely rants, rages, and laughs it off without settling the matter.
- 29:10 Murderers hate innocent people.
Good folks want to protect the innocent.1
- 29:11 Fools lose their temper.
Wise people tell their temper to chill.
- 29:12 If a leader takes advice from liars,
His kingdom officials will go bad.
- 29:13 Poor people and those who keep them poor have this in common:
The LORD put the spark of life in both.
- 29:14 If a king treats poor people honestly,
He’s gets to keep his throne forever.
How to wise up a kid
- 29:15 A spanking2 and a stern talking to can wise up a kid.
But kids who get their own way shame their mamas.
- 29:16 When bad people rise to power, bad behavior gets a big boost.
But good people hang around long enough to see the bad go down.
- 29:17 Correct your kids when they’re wrong. They’ll grow to make you proud.
They will be the delight of your life.
- 29:18 When people don’t have a plan from God,3 they do whatever they want.
But people who obey what they’ve been taught will be happy.
Don’t spoil slaves
- 29:19 You can’t change a slave’s bad behavior with talk.
Slaves might understand what you say, but they don’t care and won’t respond.
- 29:20 Fools have more hope
Than people who talk faster than they think.
- 29:21 If you spoil slaves from the cradle,
They’ll have tough lives to the grave.
- 29:22 Angry people start arguments.
Hot-tempered people get a lot of stuff terribly wrong.
Pride comes first, then a fall
- 29:23 Pride will drag you down.
But if you can keep it humble, people will love you for it.
- 29:24 If you partner up with a thief, you must have a death wish.
You hear the call for witnesses4 to come forward, but you say nothing.
- 29:25 Fear can trap you if you let it.
But if you trust the LORD for your safety, you won’t be disappointed.
- 29:26 Some people go to a ruler for favors,
But it’s the LORD who gives them justice.
- 29:27 Crooks disgust good people.
And good people disgust crooks.
This second line is a guess. It more literally reads, “the upright seek them out.” Or maybe it’s the murderers who “seek the life of the upright.” The perplexing phrase is “seek them out.” It usually expresses a desire to kill someone. Such as the upright person possibly wanting to kill the murderer so the movie has a happy ending. But many scholars say in this instance it may mean the opposite—that good people want to protect the innocent. The meaning is unclear for the moment.
The Hebrew word referring to a spanking—often translated “rod”—can mean a switch, club, or staff, something you could bop a kid with. Some who argue against corporal punishment remind us that shepherds used a staff to gently nudge a straying sheep away from trouble. They didn’t club sheep like some parents wallop their rowdy kid in the candy aisle of the grocery store. People in Bible times—Jews and non-Jews alike—taught contact discipline, so to speak. We’re talking a spanking. Check out Proverbs 13:24, 19:18; 22:15; 23:13. The question for many parents of faith today is whether wise advice for farmers and herders 3,000 years ago is good advice today. Proverbs is a collection of wise sayings, some of which were picked up almost verbatim from earlier Egyptian wise sayings. With that in mind, many Bible teachers would argue this advice is best read as a snippet from history, not a rule intended for everyone everywhere until Jesus comes. Besides, they add, how many parents walloping kids in the candy aisle look loving—as opposed to looking like they’re leading the Charge of the Light Brigade. To which some parents would add that we really need to meet their kid.
The “plan from God” is more literally a vision revealed in a prophecy. In Old Testament times, prophecies were the way God communicated to his people, giving them direction, praise, and criticism. These prophecies affected their behavior much like the Bible does for people of faith today.
Scholars say this likely refers to a law in Leviticus 5:1. There, when a person hears a public announcement for them to appear in court if they know anything about a recent crime, they need to go and speak up. If they don’t, a divine condemnation or curse became the punishment for their silence. They had to live with that, for as long as God let them live. And they would always have to wonder, in fear, how long that would be.