Proverbs Picture

Ralph Wardlaw


Lectures on the Book of Proverbs

Scottish Preacher and Theologian




Ralph Wardlaw was an eloquent preacher, one of the most eminent ministers in the Scottish Congregationalist church. He was also an able theologian and prolific writer. His commentary on Proverbs is one that all readers will find most uplifting.

His commentary was published in two volumes. These excerpts are from volume one, which has 482 pages and ends with Proverbs 14:24. We have selected sections that are particularly helpful and practical, and will continue posting selected proverbs until the table is complete.

The full bibliographic information is as follows: Ralph Wardlaw, Lectures on the Book of Proverbs, vol. I (A. Fullarton & Co., 1869).

Click the link to read Wardlaw's comments on the specified proverb. Note: The text has not been modified, except for some condensation and light paraphrasing for clarity. Also, punctuation and KJV ­era pronouns and verb forms have been modernized, long paragraphs have been divided, and the NKJV has been used for most quotations.

Chapter 1

1:5 -- "A wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel"
1:7 -- "The fear of Yahweh is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction"
1:9 -- "Honor Yahweh with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase; so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine"
1:10-16 -- "If sinners entice you, do not consent"
1:24-31 -- "Then they will call on me, but I will not answer"

Chapter 2

2:1-5 -- "If you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of Yahweh"

Chapter 3

3:3-4 -- "Let not mercy and truth forsake you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart, and so find favor and high esteem in the sight of God and man"
3:11-12 -- "Do not despise the chastening of Yahweh, nor be weary of His correction"
3:16 -- "Length of days is in her right hand, in her left hand riches and honor"

Chapter 4

4:12 -- "When you walk, your steps will not be hindered, and when you run, you will not stumble"
4:14-15 -- "Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of evil. Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn away from it and pass on"

Chapters 5, 7

5:3-11 -- "For the lips of an immoral woman drip honey, and her mouth is smoother than oil; but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. . . . Remove your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house, lest you give your honor to others, and your years to the cruel one; lest aliens be filled with your wealth, and your labors go to the house of a foreigner; and you mourn at last, when your flesh and your body are consumed"

Chapter 6

6:6-11 -- "Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise"
6:16-19 -- "These six things Yahweh hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him: a proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren"

Chapter 8

8:1 -- "Does not wisdom cry out, and understanding lift up her voice?"
8:24 -- "When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills, I was brought forth"
8:30-31 -- "Then I was beside Him as a master craftsman; and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him, rejoicing in His inhabited world, and my delight was with the sons of men"

Chapter 9

9:7-12 -- "He who corrects a scoffer gets shame for himself, and he who rebukes a wicked man only harms himself. Do not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you; rebuke a wise man, and he will love you. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a just man, and he will increase in learning. . . . If you are wise, you are wise for yourself, and if you scoff, you will bear it alone"

Chapter 10

10:1 -- "A wise son makes a glad father, but a foolish son is the grief of his mother"
10:14 -- "The wise lay up knowledge, but the mouth of a fool brings ruin near"
10:15 -- "The rich man's wealth is his strong city; the destruction of the poor is their poverty"

Chapter 11

11:12 -- "He who is devoid of wisdom despises his neighbor, but a man of understanding holds his peace"
11:13 -- "A talebearer reveals secrets, but he who is of a faithful spirit conceals a matter"
11:29 -- "He who troubles his own house will inherit the wind, and the fool will be servant to the wise of heart"

Chapter 12

12:15-16 -- "The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he who heeds counsel is wise"
12:23 -- "A prudent man conceals knowledge, but the heart of fools proclaims foolishness"
12:28 -- "In the way of righteousness is life, and in its pathway there is no death"

Chapter 13

13:7 -- "There is one who makes himself rich, yet has nothing; and one who makes himself poor, yet has great riches"
13:10 -- "By pride comes nothing but strife, but with the well-advised is wisdom"
13:22-23 -- "A good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children, but the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous"

Chapter 14

14:12 -- "There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death"
14:17 -- "A quick-tempered man acts foolishly, and a man of wicked intentions is hated"
14:24 -- "The crown of the wise is their riches, but the foolishness of fools is folly"
14:30 -- "A sound heart is life to the body, but envy is rottenness to the bones"
14:35 -- "The king's favor is toward a wise servant, but his wrath is against him who causes shame"

Chapter 15

15:3 -- "The eyes of Yahweh are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good"
15:19 -- "The way of the lazy man is like a hedge of thorns, but the way of the upright is a highway"
15:26 -- "The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to Yahweh, but the words of the pure are pleasant"

Chapter 16

16:4 -- "Yahweh has made all things for himself, yes, even the wicked for the day of evil"
16:12 -- "It is an abomination for kings to commit wickedness, for a throne is established by righteousness"
16:20 -- "He who heeds the word wisely will find good, and whoever trusts in Yahweh, happy is he"
16:32 -- "He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city"

Chapter 17

17:12 -- "Let a man meet a bear robbed of her cubs, rather than a fool in his folly"
17:17 -- "A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity"
17:22 -- "A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones"
17:24 -- "Wisdom is in the sight of him who has understanding, but the eyes of a fool are on the ends of the earth"

Chapter 18

18:19 -- "A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city, and contentions are like the bars of a castle"
18:24 -- "A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother"

Chapter 19

19:2 -- "Also it is not good for a soul to be without knowledge, and he sins who hastens with his feet"
19:21 -- "There are many plans in a man's heart, nevertheless Yahweh's counsel--that will stand"
19:22 -- "What is desired in a man is kindness, and a poor man is better than a liar"

Chapter 20

20:1 -- "Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging; and whososever is deceived thereby is not wise"

Chapter 20 (continued)

20:3 -- "It is honorable for a man to stop striving, since any fool can start a quarrel"
20:17 -- "Bread gained by deceit is sweet to a man, but afterward his mouth will be filled with gravel"

Chapter 21

21:1 -- "The king's heart is in the hand of Yahweh, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes"
21:4 -- "A haughty look, a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked are sin"
21:12 -- "The righteous man wisely considers the house of the wicked, but God overthrows the wicked for their wickedness"
21:18 -- "The wicked shall be a ransom for the righteous, and the transgressor for the upright"
21:23 -- "Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from troubles"

Chapter 22

22:3 -- "A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, but the simple pass on and are punished"
22:24-25 -- "Make no friendship with an angry man, and with a furious man do not go, lest you learn his ways and set a snare for your soul"

Chapter 23

23:5 -- "Will you set your eyes on that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away like an eagle toward heaven"
23:6-8 -- "Do not eat the bread of a miser, nor desire his delicacies"
23:9 -- "Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, for he will despise the wisdom of your words"
23:23 -- "Buy the truth, and do not sell it, also wisdom and instruction and understanding"

Chapter 24

24:11-12 -- "Deliver those who are drawn toward death, and hold back those stumbling to the slaughter"
24:15-18 -- "Do not lie in wait, O wicked man, against the dwelling of the righteous; do not plunder his resting place; for a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again, but the wicked shall fall by calamity"

Chapter 25

25:2-3 -- "It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings is to search out a matter. As the heavens for height and the earth for depth, so the heart of kings is unsearchable"
25:16 -- "Have you found honey? Eat only as much as you need, lest you be filled with it and vomit"
25:26 -- "A righteous man who falters before the wicked is like a murky spring and a polluted well"
25:27 -- "It is not good to eat much honey; so to seek one's own glory is not glory"

Chapter 26

26:4-5 -- "Do not answer a fool according to his folly, lest you also be like him. Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes"
26:12 -- "Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him"

Chapter 27

27:8 -- "Like a bird that wanders from its nest is a man who wanders from his place"
27:10 -- "Do not forsake your own friend and your father's friend, nor go to your brother's house in the day of your calamity; for better is a neighbor that is near than a brother far off"
27:17 -- "As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend"

Chapter 28

28:6 -- "Better is the poor who walks in his integrity than one perverse in his ways, though he be rich"
28:12 -- "When the righteous rejoice, there is great glory; but when the wicked arise, men hide themselves"
28:17 -- "A man burdened with bloodshed will flee into a pit; let no one help him"
28:23 -- "He who rebukes a man will find more favor afterward than he who flatters with the tongue"
28:24 -- "Whoever robs his father or his mother, and says, 'It is no transgression,' the same is companion to a destroyer"

Chapter 29

29:1 -- "He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck, will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy"
29:13 -- "The poor man and the deceitful man meet together; Yahweh gives light to the eyes of both"
29:24 -- "Whoever is a partner with a thief hates his own soul; he swears to tell the truth, but reveals nothing"

Chapter 30

30:1-4 -- "The words of Agur the son of Jakeh, even his prophecy. This man declared to Ithiel--to Ithiel and Ucal: Surely I am more brutish than any man, and do not have the understanding of a man. I neither learned wisdom nor have knowledge of the holy. Who has ascended into heaven, or descended? Who has gathered the wind in his fists? Who has bound the waters in a garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is his son's name, if you know?"

Chapter 30 (Continued)

30:6 -- "Do not add to His words, lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar"
30:18-20 -- "There are three things which are too wonderful for me, yes, four which I do not understand: the way of an eagle in the air, the way of a serpent on a rock, the way of a ship in the midst of the sea, and the way of a man with a virgin. This is the way of an adulterous woman: she eats and wipes her mouth, and says, 'I have done no wickedness'"

Chapter 31

31:6-7 -- "Give strong drink to him who is perishing, and wine to those who are bitter of heart. Let him drink and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more"
31:30-31 -- "Favor is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears Yahweh, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates"

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